Friday, September 19, 2014

washington island high school class learns about blogs

Students of Washington Island High School American Literature class:
Finn Hagen, Korrina Ervin, Shammond Ervin, Hailey Jorgenson, Elena Waldron,
Bradley Jordan, Alex Johnson, Ben Johnson, Josh Ervin, teacher Mrs. Nehlsen
and classroom aide Karin Baxter.

Washington Island Island High School -

The nine members of teacher Leila Nehlsen's Washington Island High School American Lit class invited me to speak about blogs today.

They've been studying Thoreau, Emerson and the Island's own Jens Jacobsen…about nature, journals, and self expression that can be published, or not, that often speaks to issues others may be interested in, too.

Their field trips and reading focused on personal thoughts and ideals, individualism that represents their own special gifts and talents, yet with the potential for being instructive and universal in their appeal to others.

There is something to be said for hands-on learning that textbooks may not necessarily provide, and certainly nature is one stimulus for that reflection on individualism.

Earlier, students had cut out their silhouette profiles, and these were posted in the hallway paired with quotes, for example Thoreau's "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.  Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away."

We also spoke about being careful in what we say and how we say it, and the "forever out there" permanence of the web.  With their assistance, I published this blog (with edits later) from their classroom.

 - Dick Purinton

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Three groups of 30+ each listened raptly to eight 
Island voices at Sunday's Cemetery Walk.
Washington Harbor, Island Cemetery -

The third Washington Island Archives Cemetery Walk held Sunday, Sep. 14, brought eight Island personalities from the past back to life before an audience of more than 100.

The Green Bay Packer organization held off Sunday's start time at 3:25 out of respect for this Island resurrection, making it possible for fans to participate in both events.   The September weather was pleasant, the monologue scripts summarizing each life were excellent, and the actors who delivered the messages did so in convincing, entertaining fashion.

The eight Islander profiles chosen, along with their respective actors, are shown in photos below.   In many instances, the likeness of the presenter to the person they portrayed was uncanny.  The many accomplishments of the persons chosen, and their contributions to Island life, absorbed within a two-hour program, was overwhelming.  These were tireless organizers, heads of families, champions of causes, successful in ways that lasted far beyond the grave.  

According to Island Archivist Janet Berggren and her staff of volunteers, over 100 programs were given out to a crowd divided into three groups.  Each circulated the short distance between headstone locations, spending approximately 15 minutes with each spirited actor.  The entire event was completed by 3:00 pm, in time to watch the Green Bay Packers get buried, then miraculously come to life again against the New York Jets.  

Julian Hagen sang his new song, written
especially for the occasion:
"From A Spirit's Point of View"

Archives President Eric Greenfeldt portrayed
his great-grandfather J. W. Cornell (1865-1952).
Research/Script by Eric Greenfeldt.

Jens Hansen portrayed
Christ A. Hansen (1856-1936).  Research/
Script by Charlotte Hansen.
Chuck Sena portrayed Nels Friis (1850-1923).
Research/Script by Connie Sena.
Neil Shadle portrayed Will Jess (1869-1938).
Research/Script by Merrill Lundberg.
Lillie May Shadle portrayed Janet Burgoon (1900-1989).
Research/Script by Kirby Foss.

Terry Henkel portrayed Jens
Jacobsen (1867-1952).   Research/Script
by Jewel Lee Grandy.
Joyce Morehouse portrayed Martha
Stelter (1914-2009).  Research/Script by
Jeanie Young.
Tony Woodruff portrayed Tom Nelsen (1871-1960).
Research/Script by Dave Raup and Grace Woodruff.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Dark clouds, distinctive rays and backlit vegetation
made for an interesting sunset at the Bayou the
day before our weather became stormy.
Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

Maybe I've waited too long to publish these photos, because the weather has been in continual flux since they were taken.

First, we experienced warm and humid weather in the high 70 degrees (high 80s in much of the midwest) leading to violent storms and great rainfall amounts. Then starting with Thursday, Sep. 3rd, flooding occurred in areas where flooding is rarely seen, towns such as Baileys Harbor.   Trees were downed, and creeks, rivers and swamps were filled with runoff.  

Dramatic squall line between powerful rain cells
as the stormy mass moved across Detroit
Harbor in the early afternoon. The low pressure
remained to our west and moisture then circulated
from east to west over northern Lake Michigan.   
At our home we experienced power interruptions, frequent during the height of the storm, but never for more than about 20 minutes.   The REA crew stayed on top of downed trees to keep power supplied locally, but the Peninsula experienced wider and longer outages, some for close to 24 hours.

We were in Karly's for a hamburger before the first wave of the storm hit, taking in with us a slicker just in case, because the radar showed a massive storm cell was headed our way.   I had begun working on my french fries when the power went out. The deluge intensified outside, with heavy, tropical-like rains at times.

This pattern continued throughout the night of Sep 3, on and off.  As one large cell passed over, or split and went north and south, another just as large and intense formed inland to the west, taking its place in the sequence.  Around 8:30 pm, with island power temporarily out and an intense squall in progress, Hoyt and Rich were called on to make a special medical emergency trip.  

The Packer game in Seattle that same night wasn't impacted by Wisconsin's weather, but our TV viewing was.  Frequent, but brief, outages had us listening to part of the game on a battery operated radio.  It was a good diversion from a game that in many ways echoed the night's weather:  a relentless pounding.

Patrons supped contentedly at Karly's, unfazed by the
power outage, as heavy rain fell outdoors. Tim stated
the power would be back in 20 minutes - and it was.
This moist air mass began well to the southwest, Oklahoma and Nebraska, through Iowa into Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Rather than this large humid air mass being pushed briskly to the east by a cold, high pressure air mass, which is often the case, the winds remained southerly, and we enjoyed a few more days of pleasant, warm summer weather before the pattern seemed to repeat itself.

One week later, Sep. 10, stormy skies reappeared, this time with less rain but more wind - gusts in the 40+ mph range for ten hours or so.  When the cloud cover finally eased a day or two later, we found ourselves in a high pressure system with fall-like temperatures: mid-40s by night, daytime highs in the lower to mid-50s.  

This change provided a good reason to get the pellet stove going and shut down basement humidifiers.  The drying warmth felt good, both the real heat and the psychological warmth a fall fire can bring.

Photo taken by wimpy photographer aboard the Robert Noble.
 I rolled down the window for this one as we headed through the break wall
and into the NW gale.  Temperatures dropped 10 degrees in one hour,
and winds picked up dramatically in late afternoon,
Wednesday, Sep. 10, but all ferry trips were completed.

Yes, fall is firmly in place.  The bow hunt for deer season begins today, and I believe we heard blasts from a goose (or turkey) hunter early this morning.  Several maples now show signs of bright colors, and our fields suddenly seem to have lost their summer green.  Plants are in the latter stages of production.  High bush cranberries are turning a bright red.  

Many great days lie ahead, however, and it's a time of year that many of us prefer to any other: sweater weather.   Still pleasant enough for just about any outdoor activity of your choice, at least during the middle part of the day.

Time to get out and enjoy it!  -  Dick Purinton

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Washington Island -

Today's blog entry is meant to serve as a reminder to anyone who enjoys reading, literature and poetry, and having an enjoyable time meeting others with similar interests - including noted authors and poets!

Registration has been ongoing, but after September 15th the registration price increases from $75 to $90.  You can register online (go to the TPAC website and find the Literary Festival pages), by mail (TPAC, PO Box 36, Wash. Island) or stop in and see Kathleen Dixon at Island Time Books.

I should emphasize that this year the program offers an opportunity for several workshops.  I'm looking forward to the poetry workshop with Max Garland.

The poster above should have a slight yellowish background tint, but for some reason my printer cartridge (even with a new one) came out pinkish.    The photos and information is still clear, however.

I look forward to joining you at the 2nd Island Literary Festival.  Lots of great names, great books, and an enjoyable time awaits.   -  Dick Purinton

Monday, September 1, 2014


Rigging for a sail on a light air day -  
Michael Kuharski and his canoe trimaran.
Jackson Harbor, Washington Island -

While getting ourselves ready for our first trip on the Karfi a couple of weeks ago, we watched Michael Kuharski of Madison prepare for a sail from Jackson Harbor's launching ramp.

Michael's rig is a one-of-a-kind, which he says was an idea that came about over time, modified through experimentation, and he's never through with tinkering to improve its performance.  The center hull is a Mad River canoe, and he obtained the pods for the outriggers from a company out of Minnesota that made a proa-type sailing boat. From all appearances, these were made to match.

The first time I observed Michael getting his gear in order on the beach was last year.  With his portable drill in hand, I observed from a distance as he fastened the struts together - struts that held the pontoon pods in place.

Like many other onlookers, I'm sure, I expected very shortly to see a show once he nosed into the bay and experienced that first, strong gust of wind.  It was blowing fresh from the NW, and there were 2-3 foot waves with whitecaps.  Michael didn't disappoint me in terms of putting on a show - but it was a clinic, and not a show, as it turned out.  He tacked back and forth to Rock Island effortlessly, multiple times, having great fun in winds I thought would overpower him, a breeze somewhere between 15-20 mph.   He often stood up on the decks, or in his canoe, to balance his craft and to maneuver more easily.  At no time did he ever appear to be "out of control," or was his craft put in a precarious position.  When he got in a tight corner near shore and needed an extra boost to come through the wind to tack, he stroked a few times with his paddle to help bring it around.

His sail has a Sailfish insignia on it, and along with a small foresail, this is sail area aplenty.  He handles it well, as he does his craft, screaming along on reaches with little-to-no wetted surface to slow him down.  The day before I took these photos, he told me that he sailed in winds at least 25 mph, and he had fun doing it.

He spoke of his experimentation in reducing wake by the accidental adjustment of his outrigger pontoon, and centerboard position, partly the happy result of an accident in which one strut broke.  His repairs improved performance.  He's a confident sailor, enjoying what he's built, and I would add that he's also quite fit, scampering about on his craft with the agility of a youngster (I'd guess he's mid-60s).

It shows what fun one can have messing around in a small boat, and in this case, Michael's trimaran is one I would label a "high-performance" craft.  

Nutshell Pram

My Karfi partner and crew many days this summer was Tony Woodruff, a sailor who enjoys recreational sailing about as much as anyone I've known.  He often often rigs his catboat for a sail after work hours, or on his days off.

Last week, as crew member Carl and I prepared for our last trip to Rock Island, Tony (who had that day off) was preparing to launch his home made Nutshell Pram, a Joel White design.  He said that it took him a few years to put together, but the result is a stunning little craft.  Neat as a pin is an apt description of this boat, which Tony proceeded to row out to his mooring and tie off to the stern cleat of his catboat, where he put up sail.

I spent quite a bit of time at an earlier age, when I existed in much smaller dimensions, learning to sail in an Optimist Pram, 7-footers owned by the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club for the purpose of teaching sailing.   These were rather poor boats to sail, with hard chines, flat bottoms (notorious for leaks along the seams), an inefficient gaff-sprit rigs, outboard rudders and  centerboards that could be quickly adjusted by hand.   Not especially good on the wind, they were still fun when in company of a dozen other boats, all headed for the same mark at about the same time.  Lots of pushing off one another, taking advantage of chances to steal one another's wind, these were tactics employed when we needed to get to the finish line first.

Tony, about to get underway in his Nutshell.
I alternated between that sailing activity and a 19-foot family sailboat, and running around the bay in a 12-foot, wooden Shell Lake motorboat powered by a 7.5 hp Evinrude.

I couldn't have been happier on the water, and I often think I could still be happy playing around in such a small boats…its just that it's much harder to maneuver today in a boat that has a beam of not much more than three feet.

-  Dick Purinton