Elementary back stroke races

This thought just tickles me. We are taking a few swimming lessons to improve our strokes. I pretty much swim freestyle, always, and Tim does this and the backstroke. While giving us tips about our strokes, our teacher is intent on teaching survival skills as well, and the elementary backstroke, which used to be a favorite of mine when I was young, is really a survival swim. Since gliding and doing nothing is one of the most important aspects it made me chuckle to imagine a race with everyone doing nothing.

My concentration ebbed. The instructor asked me to count my strokes for the length of the pool – and I forgot to. Then when I remembered to count my strokes, I forgot to kick, because we had been working on another drill. It’s a good thing I wasn’t chewing gum as well, who knows what might have happened.

Back on terra firma, I have finished a lovely merino shawl for a friend. It is Print o’ the wave stole by Eunny Jang and the second time I have knitted it. Very satisfying. And I did memorize the patterns so something is still working up there.

Then I got carried away and decided I needed to weave a ribbon for the package. I hope to finish and mail it tomorrow.

We walked on the sand bar over to Little Moose Island which is only accessible at low tide. The day was glorious, 50’s and sunny, and we were not alone. But we always find secluded places to enjoy the sea and rocks.

I thought lobsters only turned red after they were cooked. Who cooked this one?

I saw a mitt in this rock. How about you?

Ah, how the mind wanders.

Does a lone loon sing ?

This one doesn’t. Loons call to communicate between a pair or to report threats. This one seems to be alone, unthreatened and mum. Audubon reports that, “in winter, they are silent and more subtly marked. They are solitary when feeding but may gather in loose flocks at night”. Although we are in a National Park, the only animal sound I hear is from squirrels chattering in the woods or from a tree in front of our townhouse.

Rockefeller Hall is on the grounds of the Schoodic Institute. This was part of the Navy Base that was here after John D. Rockefeller donated his land to the National Park Service.

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Today it contains upscale housing and exhibits about Schoodic Point. We make sure it’s secure when we do our rounds.

Swimming at the closest YMCA continues to soothe me, twice a week. It’s a breathing meditation that goes by quickly, calms me, lets me sort my thoughts and get a little exercise to boot. I’m certainly breathing a little easier today. Since Tim is recovering from a broken wrist, I like to go early and the morning seascapes always catch my breath.

We haven’t had much snow that lasts yet and I appreciate the dry surfaces. I walk the peninsula with a camera, which I can use with gloves, and iPhone, which I can’t. Oddly enough, sometimes, the iPhone captures the best pictures. This is a new favorite.

I’ve packed up my loom to bring home and switched to spinning cotton again on my book charkha wheel. Such a simple clever design. They became widely used in India when Ghandi encouraged people to spin their own yarn to weave into cloth. Under British colonial rule, they had been growing and exporting their cotton, which was then spun and woven into cloth and sold back to them, heavily taxed, and many people could not afford it. When things go well, it’s another form of meditation.

I see some hand spun towels and maybe a shirt in my future.

We like to pack light for our trips. I brought two heavy sweaters and the yarn and pattern for a new one. It was a kit from Ysolda Teague called Bleideag and worked up quickly. A new classic and my souvenir from my winter at Schoodic Institute.

Add it to my good memories.

I joined the herd

The vaccination is the first step in creating herd immunity. Finally a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, even while infections surge worldwide. I urge you to do the same when you get the call.

I learned Thursday I was eligible and drove 16 hours there and back to get it. Another whirlwind. But worth it.

In the brief hours I spent at home, I finished two projects: napkins for us to use in Maine; and a baby sweater. That’s a wrap for 2020 works in progress.

I drove from sunrise to sunset two days in a row. I left Schoodic peninsula shrouded in frozen fog! Whoever heard of such a thing. It leaves a thin shell of slippery ice on everything.

Starbucks cold brew made my trip possible. Caffeine in a can. Great sipping during a 9 hour drive.

Back in Maine, we can hear the whistle buoy from home. Reminds me of a mourning from my other home in the Adirondacks.

Road work

Travel means more time to knit. My last trip enabled me to finish a mitten and knit two hats for friends’ birthdays. It was fun to design one hat on the fly. The mittens have a clever cuff, you turn the knitting inside out after half the cuff is knit. A little mind blowing. (It doesn’t take much these days). Although these projects will only pass through my hands, many things I have knit on the road become my souvenirs and remind me of a time and place.

Milet mitten by Ysolda Teague

This little froggie is lucky I didn’t have to take the car out the other morning. He was hanging out on the garage apron. He looks a little stern anyway.

Our travels took us back to Montreal last week to see a fabulous concert by the Montreal Symphony. It was a matinee and we spent the afternoon walking around Mount Royal. The population is almost four times the number in Quebec City you feel it. No bonjours, hellos or even head nods. Every one is on their own mission in their own thoughts. Been there, done that.

Small town living is the life for me.

A table set for friends

Monarchs are getting ready for their big trip south. Their numbers have fallen by around 75% over the past 20 years, largely due to reduction in milkweed. Our food chain depends on the birds, bees, butterflies. This is serious. The larvae need the milkweed. The adults enjoy nectar, or so it seems to me. Fort Ticonderoga and Saranac Lake shops provided plenty of nectar for the butterflies.

We’ve had frost at night. Time to hit the road butterflies.

Elves at work

The elves have been busy at my house making and wrapping handmade gifts. There were lots of owls in the house before they topped the grandkids’ heads.

Owl toppers, hats and a shopping bag

No spoiler alert needed because our families already gathered for the holiday celebration. The gang has quickly grown too big to stay at our house so we rented a bigger house and a fun time was had by all. I ate my first fried turkey, 16 pounds in 45 minutes, cooked by my son, and tossed some donuts in the oil when the turkey(s)! we’re done. It was delicious and now we have the best turkey soup I ever made.

There were more hats,

Pom poms were a hit this year

and even a little pottery this year in my handmade gifts.

Snow conditions were ideal and we have been snowshoeing in the woods and mountains.

Snow at home

Hurricane mountain clouds

Can’t get lost here

My elf work is almost done so now I can sit back and enjoy the season.

Home, home off the grid

We traveled for 20 hours on Wednesday and are gradually recovering from jet leg.   Spring is just on the brink of arriving. A strong storm blow through yesterday, with wind, thunder and lightning.  Our Davis Weather Station reported the highest wind since we’ve lived here: 42 mph. Lots of power outages.

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Our county is the one where hardly anyone has power. I was happy to use my Coleman lantern and candles last night, while we read and knit. This is the Forest Path stole I began the plane to Ireland. It’s too complicated to put down and I’ll keep knitting it. At the airport security check, they asked me if I had knitting needles in my bag.  I said I did, with two weeks worth of knitting that they could not have. They laughed, confirmed I had knitting needles and let me pass.

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We set up the generator and all is well.   Today is glorious and sunny.  Lots of birds singing,. and the woodpeckers are hammering away.  It was a long winter indoors. What I love most about our travel and caretaking lifestyle is the opportunity to spend long stretches outdoors.

But Tim needed his headlamp to play the piano today.

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And apparently we’re having company!

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Finding things to do

There’s never a dull moment here on Protection Island. We combine our island chores with our own hobbies and interests every day.

Today for instance, I wanted oreo cookies. We won’t be ashore for a few days and didn’t buy them on our last shopping trip but luckily I found a great recipe on the internet. You can see it here. I just happened to have all the ingredients, mostly, on hand. A well stocked larder is the key to life’s pleasures. We don’t have a mixer or beater and we don’t even have a wooden spoon in our kitchen. But my hands and a strong, long handled, metal serving spoon did the trick. Although I overcooked them a little and shaped the cookies too big, they are delicious and satisfied my craving. I may let Tim eat one or two as well.

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Yesterday I reached a milestone. I finished knitting a lace shawl I started for my daughter in 2015 while we were caretakers on Deal Island, Tasmania. I wrote about it here. I knit the body of the shawl, which measured 60 x 30″, during our 3 month fall season there and brought it home to  “just” finish the edging. I could knit about 3 inches of edging a night, there were 17 feet of edging to knit, or 204 inches, which basically would have taken 3 solid months, every night. But other projects intervened. So with some devoted knitting time here and the courage finally to rip out my provisional cast on, the shawl is complete. The pattern was recreated from a lace stole made in the Shetland Islands by Mrs. Jane Thomasina Williamson and was a joy to knit.

Here’s my version.

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I’ll wait until I get home to wash and block it in our pristine well water.

The other activity I obviously enjoy is taking photographs. The scenery and wildlife are inspiring. Sometimes unexpected, to me at least, results occur. I took a few photographs of sunset when we went out for a walk after dinner. I must confess, I almost always only use my iphone these days for photos. I am sooo lazy. I even gave away my SLR camera.

Anyhow, when I looked at the photos, they were marred by a green dot. Not the rumored green flash seen at sunset. A distinct dot off to the side. A quick google search revealed it happens commonly with the iphone camera because…well the reason eluded me. Something about not having filters and a reflection off the lens. It may be prevented by aiming the camera so the green dot ends up in the middle of the bright light. Or it can be edited from the photo. Since I already had the shots I chose to edit them.

Here is the original photo, I was trying to catch a silhouette of a cruise ship leaving the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the New Dungeness Lighthouse.

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Notice the green dot. Next I tried to edit it with Snapseed. This was my first attempt with interesting results. The area I “healed” ended up in a different place and two ships appeared.

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Interesting but not what I was aiming for. Here’s the final version.

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See how the day flies by?

Boil some water

That’s what they say when a woman goes into labor. Preparations must be made. Our third grandchild was born on Monday, 4 + weeks early. We are thrilled but weren’t quite prepared. I had started to knit this lovely sweater during our trip to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee called Noveau-ne. It will be lovely but could not be finished in time for Tim’s departure. Here’s how far along I am.

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It needs a little more length and a couple of sleeves, and a bonnet and maybe booties. I thought I had plenty of time. We both had planned to be home individually to span the projected arrival. Ah the best laid plans. Tim spent most of Monday rescheduling his trip. It entailed a boat ride ashore at 04:45 yesterday. I finally saw the sunrise, or was awake enough to take a photo. It was lovely when we left the island after the wind from Monday settled down.

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I dropped him off at the marina and headed back to the island, where I’m the only inhabitant at the moment. He took a bus, ferry, bus, 2 planes, bus, train and should be there by today. Ah modern travel.

I thought I would put something together fast so all day Monday, while Tim arranged his trip with airlines, bus companies, hotels, etc. and waited for word on the labor’s progression, I pieced together several squares woven on a 4″ pin loom. I have to confess, the squares came with the second hand loom but I had it in mind I would make a bonnet or something from them. Then I got more ambitious and made a vest.

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It is sort of sweet but in the end, I decided it gave me something to do rather than pace or boil water and served its purpose. I didn’t send it off with Tim. I’ll decide if little Juniper gets it when I am home.

In the meantime, the eagles and deer will look after me while I am here on my own.

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Island rhythm

A pair of caretakers we met in Tasmania said every day they tried to do something for themselves, something for the island and something physical.  They had a cute acronym I can’t remember, PIG (physical, island, growth); CrEW (create, exercise, work); CARE (create, activity, read, enhance; or caretake, activity, read, exercise).  You get the idea, something like that. We’ve found a pretty nice balance.

We have to clean the dock and boat every day, not as bad as it sounds.  It uses water pressure mostly and is fairly gratifying.  I proposed we sit and spray the seagulls before they even soil the dock instead but it’s probably frowned upon on at a bird refuge.

We keep the cabin tidy and mow the grass around buildings.

We worked as migrant labor for a few days and dug up 15 gallons of daffodil bulbs. No easy task in chest high grass. I’m only mildly broken.  Hope the sale goes well.

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Tim practices piano a couple of hours a day.  I knit, weave, bake, and read. I’ve completed two sweaters, one was basically done before we got here and has come in very handy.  We either wear long sleeve wool shirts or sleeveless shirts.  There doesn’t seem to be an in between.

I bake bread, pizza, pies and crisps.  Have to keep my partner happy.

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I usually weave a bit in the morning. I finished a belt, am trying to learn Andean pebble weave on a backstrap loom, and have some card weaving projects in mind.

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I knit up a bag to use on our bikes when we go shopping from leftover scraps.

IMG_1457Now I’m trying to finish a lace shawl I started in 2015 for my dear daughter. It may happen.

And I take pictures.

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The island and its inhabitants are very photogenic.