the benefits of being flexible

We had hopes of this year’s maiden voyage with kids and grandkids on Smokey, the 1971 Starcraft Sprint boat previously known as Sparky. We drove an hour to a lake located midway between us, launched her flawlessly, started her up, but the tell-tale, otherwise known as the pisser, wasn’t shooting water.

Kids were already in the boat, eager for an adventure. We tinkered a bit, to no avail. Since we couldn’t be sure the engine block wouldn’t overheat and crack, we came up with plan b. And all concurred.

Picnic at a great playground then off to a rock waterfall you can ride, followed by dinner at a brewery and a minor, minor league baseball game. A good time was had by all.

I’m happy to report a minor fix at home solved the problem while I wait for parts for this 50 year old engine to arrive.

I headed south to New York City to meet up with dear friends from med school. My plan was to ride the bus for mass transit. In theory, this was a good idea, the MTA app even reported the number of people on the bus.

Alas, due to midtown traffic, it took forever and I was late for a meeting with a former colleague. So I walked – 12 miles one day – or took the subway. All were masked and tried to social distance.

Manhattan is growing. There is a new park called Little Island on the west side, built on one of the old piers. We viewed it from the roof of the Whitney, where I learned how to calculate the temperature from crickets. It worked!

We ate at a rooftop restaurant that somehow was louder than most indoor spaces. The food was good and the view of the skyline and overhead was lovely. But the din was unbearable.

As soon as possible, we headed to a quiet, excellent Sicilian restaurant, Norma, where we really had a chance to catch up without shouting.

And we took the family out Smokey this weekend. She peed like a champ!

inspired by nature

Sunsets are guaranteed to happen every day, some more beautiful than others. We only have to marvel at them.

The palette inspires my weaving.

I am making more napkins on my table loom. We lost one of the two I made in Maine this winter so now I am making six for home.

My band weaving group is going to meet again after more than a year apart. I was inspired to try a 3 heddle technique on my inkle loom. I had to correct a few threading mishaps but now this will be easy weaving while we chat away the afternoon.

Aran meets Japan

I’m using a Japanese stitch pattern to make an Aran style baby sweater. Similar but different. It seems more delicate and lacy.

Kaleidescope quilt blocks

Down another rabbit hole. I am trying a new quilt technique where you cut 6 (or 8) identical triangles and arrange them into a hexagon. I use a hinged mirror to predict the outcome and plan the layout.

I try to create a little something every day. And keep a sense of wonder.

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

French lessons

I had just started studying French before the pandemic shut everything down. Luckily my teachers transitioned to Zoom with mastery. I live in a rural setting and the classes were 1.5 hours away. Now I take my class in the guest bedroom cum office (one of only two rooms in the house with a door).

I recent discovered this. You may already know it but somehow I missed most of English grammar. Tout le monde (all the world, everyone) is singular. We are all in this together and everyone is united. Just think about that. People are individuals but noone is an island.

Summer weather is here. I took my gear and scoped out a new fishing spot.

And got the boat set for this year’s maiden voyage.

Bonne journée tout le monde.

and then there were three, maybe

Wildcamera

More bee stories, my latest passion. My hive survived the winter and it looked so strong, I decided to split it into two. In the meantime, I had also purchased a package (roughly 3 pounds) of bees with a queen.

I bought lumber to build a couple of hive stands and a new step for my she-shed-bee-shed.

Grandkids were here and we literally spent hours watching the bees bring back pollen. And they made me wear a tiara all weekend (doesn’t everyone have one in their bag of tricks) because I was the princess bee and they were the brother worker bees. I decided not to delve too deeply into the drones’ (male bees) role and demise.

All looked honky dory until I did a hive inspection today. I knew I would have to wait a month before the split hive showed evidence of a new queen laying eggs.

First, the worker bees have to “create” a queen by selecting and feeding a young larva royal jelly. Then it takes 16 days to hatch a new queen and about a week for her to fly off into the sunset with as many drones as she can find. And she has to make it back to the hive without getting snatched up by a bird as a tasty snack.

Well the original hive and the new package have no new eggs or larvae. But the one I thought was forming a queen, had fresh eggs. I must have mistakenly put her in the new hive. The original hive is trying to make a queen. And the package has some young brood I put in from my original hive so maybe they will make a queen. If not, I’ll put it atop one of the other two. Yikes!

They and the hummingbirds loved our rhododendron, which I could watch from the comfort of my living room chair.

This is quite a learning curve. Tim demonstrated his true love by driving an hour north to pick up my new package of bees when I was out of state visiting my daughter. Then he drove home with them in the car! My hero.

I’ll give them a week and see what happens.

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.

reflections on sky and sea

When we moved from our boat to a permanent home, I had one request, well actually two. The first was that I wanted to be able to see lots of sky, wide expanses to watch weather fronts sweep by, with the occasional rainbow for good luck. The second was that the kitchen be bigger than the boat’s galley. We found both but the kitchen is only barely bigger than the boat’s. And in fact, the storage on the boat was better.

Home has open sky and mountains around us. The mountains limit our views of the actual sunrise and sunset, we see it when it appears over or sinks behind them. Alas, it’s not quite the same as open expanses of sky and sea. Here on Schoodic point, we enjoy a vast view of the sky, the clouds and the sea. And our spaceship, water tower.

Even the reflection of sunset on Little Moose Island is striking.

The ice is finally all gone. The ponds in the rocks can once again reflect the clouds and sky. I’ll enjoy these views for a few more days before we head back to the mountains and home.

the sky isn’t falling, it’s on fire!

Every day for the past 5 months we “do the rounds” at Schoodic Institute. We walk the campus and make sure all is well: all the doors are shut, the lights are off and water isn’t leaking anywhere. Up until now, it was often dark and icy when we walked the mile and a half around the grounds. Now that the clocks have sprung forward, we get to do it in the light. And sometimes just around sunset.

The other night was spectacular.

who needs northern lights?

We couldn’t get to the point in time to view it over the ocean but what we saw was mind blowing anyway.

Even a shed looks striking in this light. That’s the gym, where Tim works out most days.

And then on the way home, I found a tribute to Tim and Lynne (T & L) in the grass.

The park’s way of saying goodbye as our days here draw to a close.