My garden grows

I haven’t had this much time at home to focus on my garden in a long time. And it has paid off. I’m sure the bees helped too.

Our apple tree is even producing misshapen apples.

I have two more days left of basement living to complete 14 days of social distancing. Quite a few grasshoppers were trying to join me there.

I sent them packing.

Here we are

And so lucky to be where we are.

Pause continues and now I am living in the basement for a couple of weeks. It is well worth it though. I snuck out to see two of my grand darlings who live a long drive away. Now I keep Tim safe by keeping my distance. I don’t know when I will see the little ones again because after my visit they resumed day care for everyone’s mental health.

Thank goodness the weather is nice. It’s like camping. I have a cooler in the basement and a Coleman stove set up in the porch.

And there is plenty to do. My wildflower field has finally taken and the pollinators visit often.

My veggie garden never looked so good and there is always the shed to work on. Tim helped me with the roofing panels. Next step is to shingle it. I have to learn how to “snap” a straight line. I hope trim covers all my measuring and cutting errors. As my daughter the engineer told me, “Little bit a caulk, little bit of paint, make a painter what he is and carpenter what he ain’t”. Love it.

The little boat brings much joy. We have explored several lakes with it. An island camping trip was jinxed and cancelled, but we took a day trip yesterday to Upper Saranac Lake instead. We found a great bay to swim in and the weather was perfect.

We’ve been swimming about a mile every other day. Great tension reliever. I have an mp3 player that works in water that I love to listen to.

This island had one building, a chapel. Boat access only.

Our outing was followed by a sandwich from our favorite deli, curbside pickup only, and a soft serve ice cream enjoyed at this park.

The drive home was regaled with a full moon rising over the mountains. I am enjoying all the outdoors because I don’t intend to gather indoors until vaccines become available. In the meantime, as my new hero Dr. Fauci says clearly and often, avoid crowds, wear a mask and wash your hands.

Winners and losers

I have fished off and on my whole life and, except for a few baitfish, have never caught anything. That record holds. I’ve been going to a local spot a couple of times a week and have decided fishing is a lot like gambling: if I use this lucky bait; one more cast before I leave; that spot looks better. Still a loser or viewed another way, the fish are winners. But it is a beautiful spot and this week I appreciated its reflections.

I know there are fish in the pond because a few weeks ago, a man gave me five trout he caught there.

At least I made a new friend.

My new lucky lures arrive this week. How can I miss with “Trout Magnets”?

Put a lid on it

My shed has the outline of a roof! I couldn’t have done it without Tim’s help and even then it was a little dicey. The shed was very “fluid”, meaning it shifted 3 inches when I leaned my ladder on it, and he came up with the idea of bracing it. Now it’s solid.

I used crummy brackets for the peak but ended up using the miter saw anyway for “ birds mouth” cuts, which let the angled rafter sit flat on the top board of the wall. In fact I was over zealous and cut a few too many.

I also think I angled the rafter ends the wrong way but I like the look. Next up, frame a window and put up wall siding. Little by little.

Bee update: The new queen is installed and making more bees! Yay!

Busy bee

We are getting used to the new reality, sort of. Zoom meetings and gatherings are torture because our internet is so slow. There have been various initiatives to bring good internet to rural communities but they keep missing us. We continue to write to those in charge.

With everything else – pandemic, racial inequality, poverty to remain active and vigilant about – it is a minor problem. Like so many others, I am reading, introspecting, and supporting what I believe in. And trying to have discussions.

I returned to Facebook after a long hiatus. I especially enjoy it for weaving and knitting groups. I dropped groups where discussions were not respectful. Then a former colleague reposted a pic of the confederate flag with a statement that she was proud of her heritage and this symbol. I was flabbergasted. I composed a well thought out response as to why this symbol is so offensive and posted it. The next day she responded, “I’ve been hacked. How could you think I support this?” Just why I left Facebook before: propaganda. I’m gone again. I will have to work harder to keep up with the groups I enjoy but it’s worth it.

And I have been busy. I cope by being busy. I am working but when home, I flit from project to project. The latest is a shed for my bee and boat stuff. The process is not unlike quilting, just with heavier material.




My bees are another story. They were doing well, then they swarmed, and as a newbee I may have responded too slowly to the signs.0BDF2460-98CD-4331-806B-33798ED95D6C One day, while I was working on the shed, I heard a noise like an approaching train. There was a cloud of bees the size of a small car that hovered, as if to say goodbye, then lifted as one and headed up over the hills.


And their new queen was a failure – either she did not develop or got taken out in her maiden flight – so I had to buy a new queen or all would be lost. I brought her home in a little cage in my pocket (to keep her at 90 degrees). All that buzzing so close to me was unsettling but she is now safely installed in the hive. She gets gradually introduced and I needed to buy mini marshmallows – a whole bag, although I only needed one (s’mores!) – to accomplish this. There was a cork n the cage’s entrance.  I replaced it with a marshmallow and the bees will eat it to allow her to get out and do her thing.  I’ll check tomorrow to make sure she is free.


I will need to leave all the honey for them for the winter but managed to harvest extra wax. So far I’ve made beeswax wraps. E9174A8B-638C-43A0-B556-53858E723684

Textile work continues. I have made 3 quilts: 2 baby and 1 king; wove 3 baby blankets; knit a baby sweater, crocheted a baby blanket and who knows what else.


Our bridge is nearly finished and I baked a cake for the workers who worked through rain, snow, subzero and blazing hot temps. It depicts the bridge and the omnipresent crane.


Just doing what I need to do to get through each day.

I’m a poster child for self isolation

First of all, self isolation is something we often do by choice. It’s not quite the same when it is necessary and lives are in danger. But … I am already well versed in bread and yogurt making. My victory garden plans are coming together and now I have bees and can call myself a beekeeper.

Since my initial setup, I generally let them bee (hehe) but had to make a grocery run for them! to make more sugar syrup while we waited for pollen to appear. I hope they appreciate it. Here’s what they have been bringing back to the hive.


Look at those pollen packs. Yesterday, I finally did my first hive inspection, it’s been cold here and I didn’t want to chill them, and I have been a tad nervous. So I started my smoker, suited up and took the hive apart to inspect. First minor disaster was that the nuc package I bought (5 frames of bees already started) had been cemented to the bottom of the sugar water feeder so when I took that off, 4 frames came with it. Not ideal but I made do. I scraped away extra wax and inspected. And it paid off. First I could identify drone vs worker bees. I saw pollen and maybe honey in the cells. And when I got to the original nuc frames, I saw eggs!, larvae! and THE QUEEN!! Ok she was marked with a big blue dot that made it easier to find her but I was stoked nonetheless. Besides that meant I hadn’t accidentally killed her yet. So I put everything back together and will decide if I have to make another sugar run.

I have proven that it only takes six weeks to establish a habit. My daily walks are of utmost importance and now I always make time for them. I realize how lucky I am to be able to go outdoors during this time. Our son in NYC has not left his apartment since March 9!!! Our daughter in DC is an essential worker in construction and only goes to and from work in her car. So hard for them. I am able to walk for hours without seeing another person. The other day, this was one of three horses that came running up to me as if they were greeting an old friend.

We’re also lucky to be able to walk to view points like these.


I have tried to take control of my life by organizing the house, tidying up and getting rid of things. I just learned that since I started selling items on eBay in 1999, I have sold $9,000 worth of goods, including one old car. So I sold some more. And I cleaned grout, definitely over the top, but who puts white grout in the kitchen. I bought a brush to use with the drill and it made easy work of it. Some parts came out better and now…

Adventures in cooking continue: Latvian piragis, gnocchi, doughnuts, pumpkin pie…and the waistline shows it despite those walks.


I have sewn masks for family and friends and have tried many different types. I like the fitted with ties, elastic bothers my ears but I also made some button bands for the back of the head.


And I knit, weave, sew and quilt. I made this darling baby quilt yesterday.


And finished my tee shirt quilt a few weeks ago. We used it for quite a while before I tucked in all the ends.


And then I went over the top. I made a video for the grandkids, which may have only confused them as to my sanity but I was trying to recreate a Charlie Chaplin magic trick. Don’t judge me too harshly.

Staying alive.


Bzzzzzzz … our population exploded

And now I am a beekeeper. I began learning casually about beekeeping, BC. My third Cornell Cooperative class was canceled due to isolation policies. So I took to the internet and books. Initially my thought was this might be nice to do sometime in the future. And then I found myself with time on my hands. We all know I don’t have enough hobbies.

So I ordered the hive parts and kept reading. I placed my order on the first day the supplier, Betterbee, began working exclusively from home so it was a memorable experience. The hive and accessories arrived and I gradually prepared them. I stained all the exterior parts. And kept reading. I ordered my supply of bees. And kept reading. There is an amazing amount to learn about the bees themselves and the beekeeping. I installed the foundation, a honeycomb like surface, in 40 frames. And kept reading.

I tried to figure out how to put on the helmet and veil. No easy task. I lit my smoker to make sure I could use it when needed, The smoke interferes with the bees’ communication and makes it “easier” to work with them.

I received notice that my bees had arrived and I could drive an hour and a half south to pick them up. Temperatures were predicted to be cold here, below freezing some nights, but I was assured the bees would do fine. They clump together to keep the queen and young brood warm. So there was no putting it off.

I made the journey south yesterday. The nuc (nucleus colony of bees including a queen and a few frames of honey and about 10,000 worker and drone bees) was packed in a bag, I put in my trunk and began the ride home. My beekeeping gear was in the car in case some disaster befell us on the way home. But none did.

Tim readied himself with the camera while I geared up. First step, get the box out of the trunk – all that buzzing – and get the bag off the box. Made me glad that a) the box was in a bag, since many had escaped out of the box; and b) the box was in the trunk!! First step not too bad. Hundreds of bees made their way out of the box while I finished getting things ready.


I brought sugar syrup, to feed them until nectar starts flowing, out to the hive and made room in the lower box for the new frames with bees.

Then came the scary part. Once my smoker was smokin’ I lifted the lid off the nuc and gave it a puff to clear the bees off the top of the frames. Then, with buzzing around my veil, I pulled the first frame out and transferred it to the hive.


I tried to keep my movements smooth and calm, but there was a lot of noise around me. At some point, I realized my smoker had tipped over and little flames were trying to lick the grass; I will have to improve my smoker stand for next time. Things went quickly and it was too cold to spend much time looking at each frame.


I had to “shake” the rest of the bees that weren’t on frames into the hive and some on the grass. I put the last frame in, added the sugar feeder and tucked things in for the night.


When I went back an hour or so later, all the bees had made it into the hive, through a tiny opening in the front. The entrance is “reduced” as you get things started to try to prevent them all from getting up and leaving (I think).


I went to check on them first thing this am. It was 37 degrees f but the sun was already on the hive. Not a sound. One dead bee in front. I hope they haven’t flown the coop. Or perhaps that can be my next hobby.


Eating on the edge

My pantry is generally well stocked and we are eating our way through it. This week was a little iffy. I opened a can of sweetened condensed milk that expired in 2017. It was tanner than usual but seemed fine in my coffee. I froze some with a batch of yogurt that had failed and called it ice cream.

Today I opened a jar of peach jam from 2018. Lid was sealed, delicious.

I have been making all sorts of bread; I may have recreated the soy linseed bread that is sold as a mix in Australia but is impossible to buy here. White bread, english muffins and yesterday, no knead bread.
Soil sprouts are doing well indoors and I added some to lunch.
Polenta in the instant pot, is easy, creamy, cheesy, and delicious! This recipe alone makes the instant pot worth its weight.


Yesterday was a trifecta. The aforementioned bread, apricot almond scones and apple pie.

Since I have a lot of root vegetables, potatoes and carrots are often on the menu. The other night was gnocchi in a butter herb sauce. Made half a batch and froze half of that batch. Well worth it and only used 2 potatoes. Plus they are fun to shape over your thumb with a fork.


I have an old mixmaster from the 1970’s ( I found the same one we used on Deal Island on eBay) and have souped it up with many accessories. I use it to bake cakes and cookies, juice oranges and for the first time I made a batch of chicken sausages with the grinder. I was intimidated before I started but it was easy and fast. What I did not have was a sausage stuffer, although I had the the casing from a local grocery that sells it during hunting season. A stuffer is on the shopping list. I spiced it up for breakfast patties and they were great.

Tim has a mouth full of sweet teeth, which takes a lot of baking to satisfy. I made cinnamon buns for easter, 8BA1C499-C93F-41A3-ABF1-C7245F4579CBchocolate chip cookies, coffee cake (again from a less than satisfactory batch of yogurt), stovetop vanilla custard ( a recipe from my daughter who is the newest cook in the family since she has been home – in DC).

Dinner sometimes suffers when I have exhausted my cooking mojo with desserts and the like. This weekend it was hotdogs (uncured, thank you very much) and last night French toast. Latvian piragis have been requested, maybe tonight.

On a more serious note, I am grateful for what we have and worry about the long term economic effect for others. So far I have contributed to two local food banks, and if you are able, I encourage you to do the same in your community.

Lucky to have memories

of places like this.DSC00543fullsizeoutput_f59

I know the Deal Island Lighthouse is looking spiffier than the last time I saw it since it has been refinished and painted.   No one can currently admire it though because Tasmania Parks and Wildlife is closed.

I was brought back to our time alone on this beautiful island in Australia by a book I am reading. The phrase was,  ‘and then before you know it, Bob’s your uncle’. Cracks me up every time. On a side note, my iPad lost the ability to type quotation  marks and I can’t find them.

Hanging out at home

Here are some images I caught of the other creatures hanging around the house this past month. Tim just cleaned and installed several of the bluebird boxes and we have our first guests, a happy couple looking for a new home.


Elli is just bored to tears. Not that her life is any different now than before.


I used to enjoy capturing the wildlife outdoors. I moved the wildlife camera around to find the best animal paths. In the past, I have seen coyote, fox, my previous cat and Tim. That is until I couldn’t remember on what tree I last placed the camera. So I got a new one and will try to keep better track of where I leave it.


We’ve had takeout dinners from a few local restaurants and even tried pick up shopping. I had a running dialogue with my shopper via text and never had to get out of the car. It was a little disturbing though when I tried to order yeast and was directed to monistat!!

But on the way home from our grocery pick up we were entertained by these kite surfers who took social distancing to a whole new level.