Monday, March 19, 2012


Holy aliens!   Zander standing in a field of
crop circles in the Bayou pasture. (Evy photo)
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Nothing as endearing as grandchildren, it seems, and we're now able to report that Chad and Evy Beneda and their two sons, Atlas and Zander, and their two dogs, Dude and Waylan, have moved to Washington Island.

They moved officially one week ago from their Brookfield home to occupy our former home at 1040 Main Road.  Not only does it mean they are now close at hand, they will also become buyers for our former home, keeping the old J. W. Cornell home in the family for one more generation.

We recently received some information from Eric Greenfeldt, grandson of Bill Cornell, to verify this home was built in 1915, one of the first island homes to have a "full cellar."  J. W. and his sons were fishermen, and what is the present day golf course held many cherry trees and current bushes.

Droids coming!

Last week I stopped in from my day at the Ferry Dock to visit.  Zander, 3 1/2, who is quite taken with 'droids and zombies and loves the fear factor they evoke, said, "Droids coming!  Mommy, I need to use your phone to call Jitsch for backup."    Jitsch is his invisible dog, a human who died and came back in the form of a friendly dog.  He's near wherever Zander goes, first appearing in late 2011, shortly after older brother Atlas became owner of a little poodle (real) from the pet shelter that he named Dude.  There are two other friendlies, pals of Jitsch and Zander, named Vicki and Micki, but Zander offers fewer details about those two.

His friends require little care, and they are available to support Zander in his daily battle against 'droids. These friends now live in their own new home near the garden.   On his mother's phone, Zander ordered Jitsch to, "Come over quick!  Bring your light saber and ray gun."   Then, he ran to answer the door as his invisible friends called on him.   It is a daily battle, fueled by Star Wars characters and an iPad game called "Plants and Zombies."

We're pleased to be part of the fun and games, not only of Zander, but all of our grandsons.

From right:   Zander Beneda, Magnus Purinton, Atlas Beneda, Aidan Purinton

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Wheelhouse view on March 14, on our way to
a near-record temperature for the date.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -   A mass of warm air settled over the upper Great Lakes, creating many record, or near record, temperatures.   Although the breeze is light southerly, and it will keep temperatures slightly lower than inland locations, our day is extremely comfortable for early March.

John Delwiche, our local NOAA weather reporter, was on board the ferry yesterday, and he concurred we will likely have a record warm March, if this pattern keeps up.   His February statistics showed the 4th warmest month on record, and thus far in winter (to the end of Feb.) it was the 9th warmest winter recorded so far.

Because we have a diesel class for our crew, approximately ten men plus Bill Eickelberg of Sturgeon Bay, who is auditing the class out of personal interest, a special ferry crew has been making the daily runs.  Yours truly at the helm, Al Stelter and Con McDonald on deck.   Its been a great change of pace for us - Al and I pretty much ashore otherwise, and Con home from U. Minn. spring break, where he is a freshman.

Jon Sowl is the NWTC Diesel Technology instructor, and he brought along with him several diesel engines in various stages of repair, for students  to learn the differences in the various engine designs, to learn their systems and trouble shoot for repairs. Classes are being held both indoors at the fire house classroom, and also outdoors at the Ferry Line's steel building, where outside the weather has made for a pleasant environment.

On the route, ice has all but disappeared, only a few streaks off Door Bluff visible from a distance.  Spring is upon us.

-  Dick Purinton

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Large, wet snowflakes driven by gale winds off the lake produced
this winter's heaviest snowfall.

Washington Island, Wisconsin -

Tuesday night into Wednesday morning we received snowfall perhaps greater than all previous snows this winter added together.    The snow came in large flakes bringing lake moisture, and the temperature was at or slightly above freezing.   We awoke with windows on the SE side of our house plastered with snow.  Gale force winds continued to drive snow until late morning, when it cleared and ice pellets, then light rain took over.  About this time, the layer of snow on our windows had slid down and out of sight.  It was a good day to have a full wood box, and to lay logs on the hearth.

What snow accumulated on the ground was mushy and heavy to shovel.  The morning ferry was cancelled due to the high winds, but the afternoon boat at 1 p.m. made the round trip.   Most county schools, including Washington Island Schools, cancelled for the day.  By evening, the wind had settled and the temperature remained above freezing, well after nightfall.

Here is a storm poem, or the beginning of one...


For four days forecasters
Predicted excessive winds
Following a slow-moving low that would
Fill the region with high pressure,
Stormy skies
And damaging gusts.

“It won’t happen here
the old man snapped,
Deaf to the radio’s weatherman.
Just then, the first shingle flew
From the barn roof to
The vegetable garden
Where stalks of sunflowers,
Heads already bowed downward in
Fall defeat, suddenly flattened.

“I fear the window may give way,”
he said, and stepped back as an
Extra-virulent gust of
Pine needles and rain 
Pelted his kitchen observatory.

“Nothing between us and our maker but
Thin glass,” the old woman answered.
“If it’s to be our time, let’s at least have a feast.”
Then she removed from the cupboard shelf
A single can of sardines saved for
A special occasion, and a
Partial sleeve of saltines purchased that spring.

Their house shuddered and shook
And windowpanes rattled within dried glazing.
The two huddled in the coming
Darkness over their small kitchen table. 
They prayed and ate sardines as they
Waited to lift off.

-  Dick Purinton