Sunday, December 8, 2013


Steam rose from the lake with single-digit temperatures Friday. 
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Temperatures dipped in to single digits and teens the past several days.  Steam rose from open water.  In the shallower harbor, ice crept outward farther each day, solid now except for a few holes from warm currents, here and there.  This Sunday morning skim ice formed out the channel, a first for this season.  Dredging moves forward, but the project's close-down gets closer as extra-cold temperatures
create more difficulties for dredging and trucking operations.

Channel dredging, Monday, Dec. 2.
Just last Monday, following the Thanksgiving weekend, we experienced a calm, relatively mild day.  Hardly a ripple was seen on the water, and low cloud cover created a green cast to the water as we headed out the channel.   Equipment on the crane barge reflected in the calm surface.  By Thursday, Dec. 5th, with sharply dropping temperatures and gale winds from the WNW, only the first ferry trip of the day was made.  The day's remaining trips were cancelled.

Interview with WPR

I traveled to Green Bay with Mary Jo last week for appointments and shopping, and while in a motel room Thursday afternoon, I phoned in for an interview with the hosts of "Central Time," Wisconsin Public Radio's weekday afternoon time slot.  (Find interview at WPR Archives - Dec. 5th, 3 p.m.)  The 15-minute discussion was to be on "Thordarson and Rock Island," but initial questions posed by the hosts began with a statement that Rock Island was an Icelandic village, and that the buildings there reflected Icelandic architecture.

So, before we got rolling, I interjected with clarifications.  I explained that the buildings incorporated unique design elements, including Mediterranean-style tiled roofs, but they were not "Icelandic" in any way.  It was not Thordarson's intentions to create an "Icelandic village."

True, details are found in the Rock Island boathouse today, most notably on the carved furniture, that give the visitor an impression this building was heavily influenced by its Icelandic owner, Thordarson.  Icelandic wood carver Halldor Einarsson furthered Thordarson's Icelandic interests by carrying out Norse mythological themes in his furniture carvings.  However, the furniture pieces displayed there now were built and carved for use in his Chicago office.  Only later, toward the end-years of his life in 1941, did Thordarson move those furniture pieces to Rock Island.

For anyone who reads my book, trying to straighten out such "myths" about Rock Island was a stated incentive behind my writing efforts.  The best that can be said is that Thordarson, with his Icelandic roots, influenced how he wished his estate to look, based on things seen and read, with perhaps a strong desire to use materials that were as practical and durable as possible.  (Stone walls, concrete sills, cypress window frames, and tile roofs were used in many of his 1920s era buildings.)

I'm more convinced than before, given the initial direction of this recent WPR interview, that the historical signage found on the Rock Island grounds (and on similar signs located on the State Park Dock in Jackson Harbor) may be at fault.  Information provided on those boards - despite all of the useful information they do provide - perpetuates certain errors through statements that incorrectly reflect Rock Island's development under Thordarson.

These may seem like finely-shaved points to talk show hosts, but at some point a corrected version needs to be emphasized.  The reality of what exists is quite interesting and captivating without such embellishment, whether intended or not.  

More musings from the Weed patch

Nikki Weed has gone underground for the time being, at least as far as Washington Island communications are concerned.   But before disappearing, she wrote a short piece for the "Sandlappers" newsletter, for a chapter of BMW car owners. 

Weed's style can be characterized as lacking in both accuracy and substance.  But, imagination she does have, like when she describe the "long" ferry ride.  (I presume she meant it was too long for her attention span.  Not that the distance (4.5 miles) or time (less than 30 minutes) would be considered long by most standards.

Well, judge for yourself.  I suppose - even though she insinuates rather than identifies - that hers is the red car parked alongside the Island Observer office.  Was Weed double-parked?   Had she consumed too much alcohol before getting behind the wheel for her return trip by ferry?  Did alcohol intake, losing track of time, or combined disfunction cause her to miss that last scheduled ferry?

Armed with good intentions to fellow Beamers, Weed forewarns them about taking ferry boats to small "scenic" islands.  She boldly recycles her observations and opinions in the following piece (the image is a photo of my computer's screen with the offending page shown).

As fellow boatman Don Kilpela commented regarding my blog of last Sunday- and Kiilpela's family DOES operate a long passenger route, to Isle Royale on Lake Superior):
    "BMW magazine?  Haha.  Move along.  Move along."        -  Dick Purinton


Kate said...

Let's hope that readers of the BMW newsletter won't assume that the Washington Island Observer was somehow connected with the statements written by Ms. Weed in the adjacent column.

Robert Herbst said...

I could not help but laugh at this BMW driver's moronic diatribe.

Interestingly, a recent study actually confirmed BMW as the car of choice for jerks. I kid you not. Here is an article on the study. The diatribe is further evidence for the findings. Enjoy!