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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

 

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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Still waiting…

in place. The new reality. At least the place is beautiful and offers plenty of room to enjoy nature alone. I walk for about two hours a day and rarely see anyone.

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This view looking west towards our little homestead always gets me.

So what have I been up to in the little cabin? I’m always sort of on edge while I wait for the worst to hit our rural county. There is a chance I will be called in when it does. But in the meantime I have to keep busy.

Like everyone who is lucky enough, I do a little work from home most days. Those walks eat up a good chunk of time and do wonders for my psyche. They haven’t helped shed any pounds from all the baking I do these days though.

I had a virtual party last week with my family and it was the most fun I have had in a long time.  Since they live in urban areas, I was able to have cakes delivered to them. Tim generously offered, but I baked my own birthday cake. It was a little over the top with decorations but delicious. Actually I baked half a birthday cake.

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I picked up these cards at the last trip I made to the post office. I went because I was shipping some masks to family and friends.

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We had cake, played games and laughed for hours! I highly recommend it. My French lessons continue on Zoom as well.

The bee hives are ready and just waiting for warmer weather…and the bees. Not yet though. There’s a chance we will still get some snow tomorrow.

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In the meantime, I will continue to bake, cook, read,  binge watch, knit, quilt and weave. And stay in place.

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Our own island

450A7A28-502C-491D-BC2F-E6F7F7CB9458That’s what it feels like at home. We are well stocked with the usual provisions- flour, butter, eggs, milk, coffee, but no chocolate. By default we gave it up. We’re only missing the ocean.

We are complying with New York’s PAUSE order. I work a bit at home. I get outside for an hour and a half a day and walk/run, listen to books, nature, practice french. I go offline a few hours every day.  My kids brag about grubhub and food (and wine) delivery in urban areas. Not here. We’re on our own.

I’ve been creative in the kitchen: irish soda bread 82B95CD2-34E0-427F-BB8F-4818DACC61B5and corned beef, rustic white bread, donuts, pecan pie. They will have to roll me out of here.

We’ve been retreating to the cabin, which brings solace.

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I’m ticking off my list of house projects, knitting, spinning, and quilting.

This little guy makes me laugh.

We wait. Thinking of those who have been touched by this and wishing them well. The mountains will remain.

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Fire and Ice

One of the advantages of living near the site of two former Winter Olympics is that world class events often take place right in our backyard. Last week we watched speed skaters on the olympic oval where the 1932 events were held. Not much has changed with ice maintenance. Between heats, staff skated with buckets of water to fill in the grooves.

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They also did something with a CO2 fire extinguisher to repair the ice, which intrigued me. Here is all you may ever need to know about Olympic ice rink maintenance. For a rapid repair, they fill in holes with room temperature water and slush and then hit it with pressurized CO2 for a quick repair.

The skaters were almost horizontal on the curves. They had special gloves to touch the ice.

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Some of the skaters were just a blur, or was that my mad photo skill.

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We are still able to take the ferry across Lake Champlain to Vermont. I go every couple of weeks to study French. The views and ride are always a delight. Last week there were ice covered cliffs with ducks swimming beneath them. Sometimes the only open water is in the ferry path.

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And the cardinals continue to enjoy our copper ash tree and sunflower seeds. No filter this time.

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I injured my thumb snowblowing

6E97AB03-F7BB-46DC-A0DF-96F4446703B4Actually this is great news because, until yesterday, I thought it was caused by too much knitting. There can never be too much knitting.

The skies dumped about 15” of snow on us yesterday and I did the first pass with the snow blower (thrower)? I squeezed the drive control, muscled it into a u-turn and there was that pain. Must have happened the last time I used it mid-January.
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Then the wheels seized. Now I am up to my thumbs and elbows in gear grease from disassembling the drive train to get to a broken bearing. I needed a rest anyway.
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Community

It amazes me how a small town pulls together. If someone becomes sick, there are various fundraisers to help the family, a meal chain is created and a village rallies.

We have no real emergency except we won’t be able to drive our own cars anywhere due to the bridge’s washout. Yesterday a neighbor’s friend built a temporary walkway so we can at least somewhat safely cross the gap.

One of our neighbors’ cars is already on the other side of the bridge at the repair shop. It has been offered up as a vehicle for us all to use. Another friend offered the use of their car. Our UPS driver called the house and asked if I wanted my packages left at work!

A neighbor across the road from the bridge said we could keep a car there. Construction engineers were here scratching their heads figuring out the best way to tackle this new development in the midst of replacing the bridge anyway. Obviously we would like five minutes to scoot one of our cars to the other side.

I’ll be able to at least walk to work but will probably cancel other plans. Tim will catch a ride to his concert today.

And why haven’t the bluebirds left yet?

Maybe they want to get their fill of these beautiful berries.

New Horizons

 We have sailed Lake Champlain for several years. A lot of our time was spent around Northwest Harbor in Westport. To be sure, there are beautiful anchorages and mountain views but it’s wonderful to have a change of scenery, which is what our new little red speedboat provides. And we don’t have to spend three nights on the sailboat to get there. (Spoken like one who has crossed over to the dark side, with a two stroke engine no less).

We’ve been to Lake Placid, where we had a trial run, the northern part of Lake George, Basin Harbor, Button Bay, Valcour Island and island camping in Lower Saranac Lake. 

Boating season in the Adirondacks is quickly coming to an end. We went kayak camping the past few days and the thermometer dipped into the 30’s at night. Luckily we were comfy mummified in our sleeping bags. The weather was still nice enough to be on the water during the day and we even took a brief swim.

Although the lean to was great, I do not sleep in lean tos. I have visions of mice running through my hair while I snooze. Zip me in a tent anytime.

We shared the lake with three loons who called to each other throughout the day and night. A perfect Adirondack accompaniment. At home we hear coyotes and they are not all that different.

We managed to kayak through an unlikely passage. The map clearly showed water around an island. It forgot to mention cattails and lilypads. We had at least ten inches of water at anytime, which is all we draw in kayaks. Some areas were so close, paddling was impossible and we had to resort to poling.

The scenery was spectacular, company was outstanding, camp food was passable and a good time was had by both.

The little things

We are caught up at home and settled back into civilization. Back to work, banking, shopping and consuming. Hmmm. Memories of Deal Island arrive every day.

There are simple pleasures at home. We have sandy soil and partial sun due to a mountain to our east. Nothing grows very well. This peony limps along but it has at least 3 blooms this year. Pretty pathetic in comparison to some but beautiful nonetheless.

Tim found this little hummingbird trapped in our garage. It spent the night there. He nudged it outside and I made a batch of nectar. I dripped some into its beak with my finger. I couldn’t even see her swallow. After a while at least she started to look around. I went indoors and watched with my binoculars. It was like watching a newborn take its first steps. I saw her flutter her wings and perch up on the dish of nectar. Some time later she was gone and off with her pals to do hummingbird things. I will never know if it is her at the feeders but will imagine it is.

Strawberries are finally in season and delicious. Both Tim and I brought a quart home. Too many strawberries. So I made a batch of strawberry jam in my instant pot. Good on toast, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and on vanilla ice cream.

So many new skills

I hardly have time to apply the old ones. My holiday crafting is officially over. Now I am only left with: a birthday quilt, with only a small amount of binding to be sewn; new baby and sibling gifts; a wedding afghan; leggings for painters; two bathing suits for me; and recover a set of boat cushions. Then it will all be about travel projects for out next trip to lovely Deal Island!

Tim gave me a refresher course in the chain saw and I have been cutting the wood down to size for the wood stove and splitting it. My only two compaints are the chainsaw is a little heavy and I need a girlie chainsaw helmet with ear protectors. Tim’s tends to slide down over my eyes. Could be a problem.

Next up are my mad plumbing skills. I replaced our kitchen faucet. Kohler boasts it should be a homeowner project easily completed in under an hour. I guess that would be the case if all the parts worked. But alas, I resorted to eBay and two parts were defective. How did I know this? After my first installation and trial, we had a fountain in the kitchen. At least the plants on the windowsill got watered. After many false starts – under the sink, turn the water off, try something else, turn on the water – drip, drip, drip, I identified the culprits. Luckily I still had the old parts and with them installed, the faucet now works beautifully. There may have been some cursing under the sink in the process.

Yesterday I got to use the snowblower because we had about 4 inches of snow. That got me thinking about organizing the garage. And go to the dump. When Tim mentioned his piano needed “voicing” I put my foot down. I’ve had a lot of days at home and about and have really enjoyed them. We went for a walk at Heaven Hill in Lake Placid. Lovely trails – with micro spikes – and beautiful views.

Here are some shots from closer to home. Iron mountain looked lovely down our road, covered in snow.

And my poor little pizza oven sits across the driveway, unused and looking lonely. I painted a face on the door so when I look at it, it looks back at me. Next summer…