they don’t call it black fly season for nothing

The season reportedly runs mid-May to Father’s Day (which this year I optimistically thought was June 6). A few of those weeks they can be a real nuisance; ferocious one might say.

Their favorite spot to dine is around the neck and wrists where they leave itchy welts. My neighbors and I wear these Adirondack necklaces and bracelets during the season.

Now to make matters worse, we have deer ticks, the little culprits best known for Lyme disease but also responsible for several other tick-borne illnesses such as babesiosis and anaplasmosis, also nasty in their own right.

Today, I pulled a deer tick off me. I had worked in the garden the past few days and didn’t follow tick precautions. I usually either shower as soon as I am done outdoors or wear tick repellent. But it’s early in the season and I had black flies to contend with so I was lax. No more.

Last night I dreamt lots of scorpions were on me. That thought persisted during the day until I took a hot, hot shower and scrubbed with a washcloth. It was the only way I could be sure an itch wasn’t another tick. I’m glowing!

May’s full moon
Almost paradise

No pets, lots of critters

Since September, I have been without a pet for the first time in my life. After our cat died, we were scheduled to caretake Seguin Island and Acadia National Park and it wasn’t the right time to adopt kittens. And now…

Life at home is a little lonelier but it’s a lot easier to leave. Although I often ask myself why we leave.

We are surrounded by critters big and small with little or no work and we are free to come and go without having to arrange housesits, which is always the most stressful part of taking a big trip. Alas, we have no big trips planned at the moment but still…

As I write this, our first hummingbird just returned and is sipping that pink rhododendron in the first photo. We also have goldfinch, blue birds, cardinals, purple Finch, blue jays, nut hatch, eastern towhees and a pileated woodpecker who likes to rat-a-tat-tat a metal sign.

And deer and bear wander around as well.

And the bees, tens of thousands.

This weekend we hiked a new trail in the Adirondacks to Wolf Pond. It was a lovely pine needle lined path, with new bridges for dicey river crossings, and great views of the mountain as a reward.

And I found a new friend. There were rocks at the edge of a pond where we sat and enjoyed the view. A few salamanders were in the water by our boots. I put a finger in the water and sat still. One little guy swam to me and hung out under my finger. The first time it approached, I pulled back while I contemplated whether they had big teeth.

I don’t think they do, do they?

We’ve had lots of wind at home and my neighbor’s birches are permanently listing to port.

And of course with big wind comes falling trees and an exacerbation of dendrephobia. Then on my way home from work the other day, this reebar jumped from the road and pierced my bumper!

This was after I read about a turtle that had smashed through someone’s windshield when it was sent flying by another vehicle. Now I have road debris-aphobia..

Ins and outs, ups and downs

I asked my grandson to draw me a maze. Oh ye of little faith. Needless to say I cracked the code.

My bees go in and out of their hive through a 1 inch entrance. The small opening helps them maintain the hive temperature in the 90’s. Looks like there will be a line to get in later.

Tim invited me to join him on a camping trip in the mountains. Weather forecast was favorable (and he couldn’t find anyone else to join him) so I said why not.

The weather was perfect. We had a leisurely hike in to our campsite. I stopped and smelled the roses, or all the funghi at work in the damp woods.

The next day we planned to bushwhack (bushbash in AU) up a small mountain with beautiful views of the High Peaks.

Anyone remember Gilligan Island’s “three hour tour”? It began with me belly flopping on a stream crossing. I cried “ girl down” but no real harm was done.

Then came the uphill bushbash. Our little hike lasted 9 hours! I was poked, scratched and snagged and my sweater was in tatters by the end of the day. The views were quite nice though for the few moments we enjoyed it.

We slept well that night. The next morning we got our creaky bones moving and hiked up to a place called Summit Rock with a nice ledge to rest after scrambling over and between boulders, some as large as a car.

We saw two sets of rock climbers dangling from these cliffs.

Then we returned to our campsite, had a cup of coffee and hiked out just before dark. We covered 22 miles and I have the battle scars to show for it.

And here is my view sitting in the comfort of my living room chair at home.

Gotta go up and down, in and out for the fun of it.

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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