Loving home

Friends came to town and we spent the week exploring the Adirondacks with them. I always wonder why we travel so much when we love where we live. Ah well, the adventurer in us all.

We hiked long and short hikes, up mountains, around lakes and through some mud. The views make it all worthwhile.

view from Nun-Da-Ga-O ridge

I spend a lot of time looking down, watching my feet and there is a lot to see there as well. It has been a wet summer and mushrooms flourished.

Back on the home front, I was hopeful I would get to see a monarch chrysalis. Our yard is covered in milkweed. We saw a few caterpillars sampling the leaves but none hung around for us to watch.

But as the DH always says, “There is no such thing as paradise”. Despite the pandemic and uptick in cases, a local music festival brought lots of visitors to town; we got out of dodge and headed to the Great Camp Sagamore.

It is situated on its own lake, which unfortunately was only about 62 degrees f. We chose to swim anyway, Tim with a wetsuit, me, without. I figured I had about 30 minutes until hypothermia set in. I swam close to shore just in case and was fine, but slow for my swim. As soon as I was finished, I got out of my bathing suit and put on wool leggings, a wool shirt, cashmere sweater and fleece. It wasn’t enough. I was shaking so hard, I couldn’t bring my lunch to my mouth. I headed for the shower instead and a ten minute steamy shower did the trick.

I came out of the shower to find this creature on our bed. I walked around it and didn’t see it doing much, then I wriggled the blanket, nothing. Jokester DH had found a fishing lure and thought it would be a nice surprise for me.

We returned home to our peaceful cabin. Now it’s my turn to make sure the bees are fed for the winter. There was not enough honey for me to take another harvest so I put the boxes with partially filled honey frames below the larger brood boxes. I think they will clean them out and move the honey up to the brood boxes over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I am also feeding them sugar syrup. So far I have given them 30 pounds of sugar in a syrup mixture and more to come.

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I’ll weigh the hives in a few weeks to make sure they have enough food to last the winter.

In the meantime, I will enjoy the view from home.

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..

From zero to fifty in one day

I just spent five months with only Tim to talk to. Then we returned to our home in the Adirondacks. Yesterday, I volunteered for a Covid vaccine clinic where I administered 50 doses, and conversed with 50 + people in one day. My brain was fried. But I felt good, I could finally do something.

We wrapped up our time at Schoodic with a flourish. Tim and an old colleague performed Schubert’s Wintereisser to a small, socially distanced, rapt audience. it was beautiful, despite the unheated barn on a snowy day.

I walked my favorite walks one last time.

Our trip home ended with a ferry ride across Lake Champlain, which was so calm it could have been called Lake Placid!

Next island gig?

There was a lot to catch up to at home. Most importantly, my bees were still alive. We had a couple of warm sunny days and they were out gathering pollen. I did a quick inspection, saw new brood, unwrapped the hive and took out the winter insulation. They were quite docile.

Then it snowed and the temperature dropped. Oops. Such an amateur.

This is no surprise. Every year we get spring snow, sometimes as late as May.

So, I will wait and see. And talk to Tim.

Feeling the love

We remain pretty isolated at home. Our location makes it easy.

A view of home from above

Except for campfires with 2-4 people, we don’t see anyone. Entertaining at a fire is one of those times it’s best to shower afterwards. Interesting concept.

Even from afar, my grandchildren’s light shines on us. After my cat Elli died, I received the sweetest sympathy card, complete with a paper cat puppet.

And I’ve been featured in show and tell. “O” is for Oma and “Q” is for the Quilt with a lighthouse Oma made.

“Q” is for the quilt Oma made

Makes my heart sing.

Transition

We are getting ready to head to Seguin Island Lighthouse for a couple of weeks. I conscientiously enlisted a Catsitter to watch cute little Elli.

Tim went backpacking for a couple of nights and while he was gone she died unexpectedly. Healthy during the day, dead overnight. Life is like that.

Because it’s so close to our departure, the catsitter has become a housesitter and they are still coming (which means I still have to clean the fridge).

They won’t have to cook for him, whose call is , “who cooks for you”, but I came across this beauty in our backyard. He was hanging out on a branch near an owl house made for a much smaller owl.

I just stood with him quietly in the woods very peacefully.

Fall is in the air. This tree’s color popped out at me.

Colors haven’t changed in the hills yet.

Nor at ye olde homestead with the cutest sheshedbeeshed, which still needs a foundation skirt and interior shelving.

I see kitten(s) in our future. (Don’t tell Tim).

Lake boat

When we sold our last sailboat, Tim thought he was free of boats but I had a vision of dragging a small boat around the Adirondacks and zipping around in its many lakes. Sparky met the bill – small, a little funky, cute as a button, and reliable. She is a 50 year old Starcraft Sprint with her original Mercury 50 outboard. She has already outlasted one truck. Now Eddie takes her for her rides (Eddie because he is an Eddie Bauer Ford Explorer, 33 years her junior).

If anyone can replace a windshield on Sparky, please let me know.

She has been in at least 10 lakes with us. Yesterday we ventured to northern Lake George from Rogers Rock campground. It was a perfect day, warm, sunny and not crowded except for two loons that got a little close.

We dropped anchor off Vicars Island and Tim swam his usual mile, I did a little less and while I procrastinated getting in the water, they swam close and started singing. What a treat.

I swam for a bit then clambered back aboard (actually the hardest part of the swim because the ladder leans into the V- hull), and lounged on the pull out seat.

We wrapped it (and perhaps summer) up with soft serve ice cream. Just what I dreamed.

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.

 

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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Lost my voice

I try to remain upbeat. No news is good news. Worldwide. And then wordpress lost my draft of this post. I persisted.

We spent Christmas in Quebec City where the first of the season’s viruses coursed through me. I missed dinner at my favorite restaurant where Tim dined alone. Instead, I watched the movie Madagascar in French in our Airbnb. Cartoons are a great way to learn a language. There is so much physical comedy and pantomime. No photos from that trip. I did manage to order a sandwich completely in French though.

Our bridge work at home continues without causing any hardship. Where there was one, there were two, and now there is only one again. We are using the new temporary bridge. The old temporary bridge has been taken apart.

My daughter and I compared cranes at job sites. She won.

Cold weather moved in. I hunkered down. We are celebrating the holidays with the extended family next week so I have been making and creating. Weaving really provides solace these days. Chinese dumplings will be on the menu.

And I knit a clock! What fun.

The cabin provides a nice escape and the views are wonderful.

We have had enough snow to cross country ski from home. But it’s getting warmer this weekend, with heavy rain and flooding in the forecast. The first test for our temporary bridge.

I’ll hold my tongue.

Home sweet home

We have internet! A big change from Deal Island.

After 45 hours of solid travel, we made it home. Our flight off the island was rough. It was windy and the pilot warned me my head might hit the ceiling. It didn’t and Tim managed to get a beautiful parting shot. One of my favorites. It shows the magnitude of the cliffs, the sea and the beautiful lighthouse, now partly painted.

We spent a day on lovely Flinders Island. It really is as beautiful as Deal Island, only with a few more people.

Next stop Launceston, Tasmania, where we visited old haunts: the Cataract Gorge, The Aquatic Center, Museum and the best hamburger joint around (twice). I also had my first flat white not made by me! So pretty.

Then our journey began. We flew to Sydney where we had a nine hour layover. We made good use of our time. We visited my favorite dumpling place and then we toured the Harbor. Never fails to delight.

Then 20 hours of flying…Followed by a six hour drive home. And we made it. After a week, I am beginning to adjust. And home is pretty sweet too.

Ihave hundreds of photos from Deal I was never able to upload. I will gradually get them online, until our next adventure.