Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Summer reading may be coming to a close, but how
about fall?  A perfect time to prime your
pump for early October's second
Island Literary Festival.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Recently I finished reading the two books shown above.   Both were apart from my typical reading stack of non-fiction books, but I admit to having enjoyed both very much.

My real impetus for the recent fiction binge was to better inform myself on a couple of Wisconsin's leading writers who will help lead the Washington Island's 2014 Literary Festival, Thursday, Oct. 2 through Sunday, Oct. 5.

Although the Trueblood Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will be the main venue for presentations and panel discussions, workshops and events will also be held at other island locations.   Examples: a hospitality event coupled with registration will be held Friday evening, Oct, 3 at the Farm Museum barn.   Dinner and a presentation by current Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland will be held Saturday evening at the Island Dairy.   Sunday afternoon a story telling event will be held at the Red Barn near Gislason Beach.   Workshops will be held at the Washington Hotel classroom building and backstage at the TPAC on Friday.

There ought to be plenty of variety for everyone's tastes, ranging from fiction to non-fiction, and poetry, with many leading Midwest authors, centering around the theme, "Rooted in the Heartland: Themes of Family."  I have to say that the two books shown above closely fit this theme.

Registration is open now, and you can do this by going to the TPAC website at www.truebloodpac.com. You can also send a check (write "Lit Fest" on the Memo line) to the TPAC at:    TPAC -  PO Box 36, Washington Island, WI  54246

If you're on the island, you can stop in and see Kathleen Dixon at Island Time Books.  She'll be happy to take your check and registration, and she carries many of the books by this year's featured writers.

Cost is $75 per person for the Festival registration, but that price goes to $90 after Sept. 15.   There are workshops, too, starting Friday morning, a Poetry Workshop with Max Garland;  another on Writing with Susanna Daniel and Michelle Wildgen, 11am to 1pm at the Washington Hotel;  and a third, "Strategies for Claiming Your Creative Time," with Susan Gloss, 2-4 pm, also at the Washington Hotel.   Workshop fees are $40 for each class.

If you're a Facebook user, go to  www.facebook.com/washingtonislandliteraryfestival

There'a a long list of authors, and in a future blog I'll go into more detail.  For now, I hope to alert you to this event, that it's coming up very soon, just a little over one month away.

-  Dick Purinton

Friday, August 22, 2014


In Jackson Harbor Wednesday, Aug. 20, Christian Ronning
fished alongside a veteran, a friendly cormorant.
Washington Island, Wisconsin -

We'll try to make up for lost time and gaps in blog postings by giving you your money's worth in photos and trivia today.

In the above photo a cormorant rested after consuming a bullhead on the concrete below the launch ramp pier.  It hopped onto the pier in a friendly move, next to Christian Ronning who was fishing with his dad, Karl (at end of pier, in background.)  When we landed with the Karfi, about 20 minutes earlier, this bird was drying its feathers at the end of the dock.  But now, after fishing and eating it was preening itself, unfazed by human presence.  I was at first suspicious of its health, but knowing it had consumed a fish that it had caught,  defecated on the dock, then went back in the water to dive for more fish, this bird seemed perfectly normal except for tolerating, or liking, humans.

We haven't observed that bird since Wednesday.   Could it have been someone's pet?

Goodness snakes alive!

For most of this summer we've seen very few snakes and then only from a distance.  One was in the beak of a Great Blue Heron that flew over the water.  From our point of view, that's the best possible place to see a snake, as consumption by the large bird will soon follow.

But recently, maybe due to molting, we've seen many more, including this pile of garter snakes on and around a much larger fox snake, at the base of a birdhouse in front of our home.  For much of the day, if the sun is out to warm the boards, they come up on the boardwalk surface.

After counting the snakes (there were more snakes than fingers) though binoculars from the safety of our home porch, over 75 feet away, Mary Jo was entertained, as a kid might be watching a horror show, afraid to get closer but afraid to look away for fear of missing something.
Finally, when the afternoon fog lifted and the sun came out, the fox snake crawled on top of the boardwalk, with its head down over the water side of the pilings.  Thor snagged it for a measurement.   It measured 4 1/2 feet, give or take fractions of an inch.  We also observed several garter snakes in the same area, independent of the group pile, that would easily have measured three feet.  Healthy specimens, all.

This morning, around 8:30, I had photographed a garter snake's head poking through the boards at the Bayou, and I believe its vision was impaired by molting, for it chose not to duck back under the boards as it would normally have done.  The large fox snake Thor caught also appeared to be in the early stages of molting.


Thor then photographed two dragonflies trying out a Kama Sutra attitude before he spotted yet another, somewhat rare sight in our lawn, not but a few feet from where snakes were sunning themselves.  It was a female wolf spider, approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter with egg sack attached.  Thor photographed it just as it left its ground hole lair.

Later, I read that the female wolf spider may have as many as 100 eggs, and that these eggs eventually hatch in her sack before she breaks it open to release them.

I'm reconsidering whether or not we want 100 small wolf spiders underfoot.  But…too late, for it's already found a new home beneath the boardwalk.

That's all the news for today.   Tomorrow, we'll go with the meat-eater's diet of pork, beef and chicken at the airport, hoping to sample at least a good representation of Death's Door BBQ competitor team products.

-  Dick Purinton


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

If you enjoy light poetry and creative writing - as opposed to local history - you may find my newest book to your liking.

Last Friday, after a circuit board problem that temporarily shut down a machine for several days was up and running, I was able to pick up boxes of finished books at Seaway Printing in Green Bay.  The inside pages had already been printed, and only the covers remained to be printed, assembled, and then packaged.

Although this is a slim volume, (just under 80 pages -  $15 + sales tax and shipping), the process of writing and editing poetry and short prose pieces came to be exhausting and exacting in its own way, as much as for other projects I've done.  But the pleasure factor in writing and creating is way up there, rating with the best writing experiences I can remember, and I hope readers will receive this with the intended fun, and resulting enthusiasm.  The topics covered, and the sculpture photos for that matter, with few exceptions aren't meant to be serious.

The written pieces are interspersed with photos of my sculptures completed over the past ten years or so.  Here again, there is no telling what reader or viewer acceptance there might be for such subject matter.   Let's just say that both sculpture activity and such writing keeps me busy and amuses me at the same time.

We had friends over for a sculpture / yard party last weekend, and it was enjoyable to see the range of reactions and comments to the sculptures from our guests.   If nothing else, these provided the excuse to have a party and socialize.

Below, I'm showing a photo of one of the more popular sculptures, because I intend to donate this as an auction piece for the upcoming Jim Jorgenson benefit Sunday afternoon, August 31, at the Island ball field.  Jim is undergoing medical treatment which not only keeps him from working, but from doing much of anything, as his work now is to overcome this illness.

From bits of conversation at Sunday's party, I think we can pin down this truck door as originating from the Island Transfer business when it was owned and operated by Leonard Jorgenson (Jim's grandfather) and Dutz Cornell.  They hauled fish and other freight on the Island.  Later, that business was operated by Doug Foss (Ivan Johnson said he helped Doug), and later yet, by Lonnie Jorgenson.  (But it's thought the old phone number would have changed by the time Lonnie owned the business.)   When I began with the Ferry Line, around 40 years ago, Lonnie hauled boxes of fish for the Island's commercial fishermen, bringing them out to the ferry for late afternoon transport to the peninsula.

Somehow, the song "Wagon Wheel" by the Old Crow Medicine Show found its way into my head while I was building this… a rocking chair with a window to the world... and the lyric "Rock Me Mama" kept repeating itself.

Several people tried this piece out for effect at our party.  The custom, chromed seat, scrapper-son Hoyt tells me, was likely Tillie Ellefson's from an exercise machine.   Rockers are from an old wooden-spoke wagon wheel, and the cup holder is  possibly from an old steam or water pump piston.   All parts were sourced from the Island except the modern-day golf umbrella.  This piece rests on a 4 x 8, treated, 5/8" plywood sheet with imitation Jackson Pollock paint job.

The Jim Jorgenson Fund Raiser will be at the Island Ball Park, Sunday, August 31, 12 noon - 4 pm, and will feature the Golden Oldies (Old Timers) vs. Young Whippersnappers (not-so-old players).  Come out and show your support for Jim and his family.  Bid it up!

-  Dick Purinton


Thor Purinton and friends visited Plum Island Saturday, August 16,
on the first of two special days when the public was welcomed
to visit and hike trails.  Shown near the forward range light, L to R:
Dr. John Buckley and his wife, Susan, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
Jamie Kornacker, Charlevoix; and Jess Brown, a Van Dam Woodcraft
craftsman who works with Thor in the Boyne City,
Michigan, boat shop.  (photo by Thor)
Plum Island, Death's Door, Wisconsin -

When they returned from their trip on the "family yacht" Moby Dick from Plum Island last Saturday, August 16, I asked youngest son, Thor, how it went.  "Terrific!  We had a great time."

This comes from Thor, who's been on Plum Island numerous times in years past, hiking, hunting, and swimming along a southern beach.  But that was during BLM ownership, after the Coast Guard moved their search and rescue operations to Washington Island, and prior to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) taking over and closing down the island to visitors.   In recent years, unless you had specific permission, such as research or as a work party member under Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands (FOPPI), partner with USFWS, you were not welcome to set foot on the Plum Island shores.

This is about to change, although in a carefully controlled way, starting with two special visitation Saturdays, August 16 and August 23.   One hitch for potential visitors, at least on day one, was that you needed your own watercraft for transportation.

Returning to the old Coast Guard station, near
boathouse and pier.  All structures, except the boathouse which has
already had a once-over,
await major repairs and restoration. 

Plum Island's first official guests for day one included Thor and friends who visited from Alabama and the Boyne City/Charlevoix area.  Dr. John Buckley and Susan are frequent travelers to the Van Dam workshop where they built a beautiful boat several years back, Susan C, and they're now partway along on their second project, Victoria Z.  Through the process of designing and building and observing, sometimes hands-on with suggested changes in details, they've become very close to the Van Dam craftsmen in what seems to be both an extraordinary and respectful relationship.  This past weekend the Buckleys traveled a long way to join Thor, Jess and Jamie on Washington Island, visiting Plum and Rock Islands also during their stay.

Thor's group was greeted near the boathouse by FOPPI president and volunteer, Tim Sweet, and two USFWS personnel who gave them a basic introduction that included a trail map and a sheet of guidelines, as follows:

  *  Refuge open during daylight hours only
  *  Foot travel only on the island
  *  Access for wildlife observation/photography hiking are limited to the established hiking trails
  *  Boats are required to moor at boathouse; dock space available on first-dome-first-served basis
  *  Kayaks / canoes must use designated launch / landing areas
  *  Dogs are welcome but must be leashed
  *  fishing from the dock and beach not allowed
  *  NOT PERMITTED on the refuge:  collection of plants, berries, seeds, mushrooms, rocks, fossils, lantern, or other artifacts; fireworks; camping; campfires; geocaches

Those restrictions aside, several fine options are available in hiking trails, the longest one being the Island View Trail (3 miles) that loops the island, more or less paralleling the beach.

From my own past experiences there, both in hunting and searching out trees with Roy and Charlotte Lukes, crossing the interior on any route other than a maintained trail would not be advisable anyway, under any circumstances, due to wind fallen trees, nettle plants that are six feet tall, and a parsnip plant that can deliver a nasty chemical burn.  From the maintained trails you will have ample opportunity to see Plum Island's varied shoreline and habitat, amazing for such a small island.   In addition, there are the several, interesting former government lighthouse and life saving structures found there.

It is for this second reason many will want to visit Plum Island and absorb the rich and fascinating maritime history of the Death's Door area, with Plum Island at the center of that activity.   The opportunity to view the range light structures up close, along with the old, original Death's Door 1849 lighthouse remains, is reason enough to visit Plum Island.  This old foundation was recently examined by archeologists, and their future reports will help to fill in blanks regarding this early Plum Island navigational aid.

Tomorrow, Saturday, August 23, will be day #2 for public visitation, coinciding with the Death's Door BBQ competition taking place on Washington Island's airport grounds.

-  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Jim Rose took this photo as equipment for repairing Island roads
arrived two days ago.  Crews made numerous, special
runs to bring in trucks and other, sometimes over-sized
pieces such as the pulverizer, above.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

We're almost mid-way through August.  The last Island Music Festival concert will be Friday evening, with the Lion's Club sponsored Island Fair and Parade to follow on Saturday.  By tourism standards, we're now approaching the down side of summer.

These past two weeks we've had consistently great summer weather.  Some would add, "And it's about time."  Traffic on the ferries, through town and about the Island was seen to be at a strong summer pace, especially last Saturday.  My observation post was the Karfi, in Jackson Harbor, and while I'm not often working weekends there, this last Saturday I observed dozens of recreational watercraft ranging from sizable yachts to canoes and kayaks and sport fishing boats.  Moored near Rock Island for  the afternoon was a yellow seaplane.  Passenger traffic was brisk to and from Rock Island, both day visitors and campers, an indicator of what was happening in other parts of Washington Island and Door County.

Consistent, warm weather and
consistent ferry traffic during the past several
weeks of summer.
The County Highway Department brought in road repair equipment and crews (some arrived the previous week).  This major ferrying operation included the Northeast Asphalt portable plant.

A few of the largest pieces just cleared the Arni J. Richter's overhead by a fraction of an inch, a small margin as the winds and seas built steadily from the north in the early evening when this equipment was transported.

Tuesday morning, on my way to Jackson Harbor and the Karfi, more than one mile of the old roadbed had already been pulverized by the machine shown above.  Other pieces of equipment were grading, watering and rolling the surface in preparation for laying fresh blacktop.

We'll have to put up with a bit of inconvenience while the crews prepare roads and lay new blacktop, but as with the dredging, this is a big project, and when it finished major Island roads should be in the best shape we've seen in a long, long time.

The Detroit Harbor dredging project - the physical digging and hauling - ended during week three of July, with only administrative reports yet to be completed.   This Detroit Harbor channel improvement   ought to hold sufficiently for decades to come, barring severe and prolonged drops in lake levels.

Eyes not yet in focus

I took out the trash the other morning and noticed a small frog on a ledge by the garage door.  As I bent down to inspect, it hopped onto a vine leaf.  I retrieved my iPhone for several photos, upside down and over the ledge.   Later, when I saw the enlarged photos, I noticed the worm on the same leaf.  A quiet moment and a small surprise to begin my day.

In the field, milkweeds are in blossom, and when I mow near the field in the early evening's dampness and light air, I'm able to smell a sweet fragrance.

Soon, we'll see monarch chrysalis attached to those same plants.

These last two weeks of August will go quickly, and we hope to enjoy them to the fullest possible extent.

-  Dick Purinton

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

My activities of the past month or two prevented me from keeping up with blog obligations.  Those activities include time on the Karfi to Rock Island, providing tours on the Cherry Train, and a current book project.

However, with my new book about to be delivered - (which really means driving to the printer's location in Green Bay to pick up boxes next week) I should get back on track soon.

This book, you may be interested to know, is a collection of bits of poetry and fiction (mostly), my attempts at a more creative style of writing.  Among pages of text are photos of sculptures, some of which loosely relate to text.

For those of you who live on the Island, this book should appear at your local Island bookstore (or Ferry Line customer counter) by Thursday of next week, August 14.

You may also order directly from my website  (RichardPurinton.com) or print the form shown below and mail a check:  $15 + $3.25 shipping.

This project seemed like a logical next step, one that would be fairly simple to organize and execute.   But, it turned out to be more involved than it first seemed, with much internal wrenching to get the pieces organized, on paper in proper order, and to feel good about the results.

I worked once again with Island graphics designer Amy Jorgenson, and we were able to get the front, back and inside covers, plus the overall look, into a form we liked in short order.  But the tweaking and editing seemed to go on forever.  Small things mostly, but critical for the overall appearance and readability.  

Now that it's done, I'm quite pleased with the final result, both the content and the look and feel of this book, and I hope readers will be, too.

 -  Dick Purinton

Monday, August 4, 2014


Prior to repairs and painting:  Plum Island's boat house and pier
will serve as visitor entrance, part of
former U. S. Coast Guard search and rescue facility.
Plum Island, Death's Door -

Visitation by the public is now just around the corner, at least a trial period, whereby Plum Island can be seen by the average citizen.  Prior to the dates recently announced by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a press release, only persons with special permit, or part of a recognized USFWS work party, were permitted on Plum Island.

We hope this first effort at open, public visitation will be successful and will be respected by all visitors.
It represents considerable behind-the-scenes work on the part of the Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands and USFWS to reach this point.

Following is the News Release: