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!

We are not in Kansas anymore

Although we speak the same language as Australians, our cultures are quite different. This is evident in some of the signs we have run across.

Today’s perusal of the bird book showed they have laughing and peaceful doves, while we have mourning doves.

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There are too many spiders to bother identifying. Just know when to run.

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This sign at the lighthouse warns people with heart conditions not to ascend the stairs. (Although at this time the lighthouse is closed while it awaits repair). The people that read this sign have already walked more than 2 miles and ascended 1000 feet to get here from their boats.

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And then here we are, the happy lighthouse caretakers. We took a similar photo four years ago on the Old Squally Trail. Still a bit of a bush bash, but it has some of the best views on the island.

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Fool me once

I’ve learned to double check any adventure plans Tim makes for us. It happened again at beautiful Freycinet Park in Tasmania. We went there to stretch our legs before driving to Launceston for our flight to Flinders Island.

We’ve been there before, it’s a beautiful spot, and he suggested we hike up Mt Amos for the views. I was dubious. He wanted to bypass the ranger’s station and head straight to the trailhead. I said, “no thanks, I want to talk to the ranger”.

I mentioned Tim’s plans and he pulled out this photo, which they show as a quick overview of the hike.

It only represents about 40% of the walk. I hate having to use my hands when I walk. And I would have really hated the return trip. So we walked an 11 km loop instead. It was beautiful.

This bench was designed as part of a student design project. I think I rested here in 2011. It is holding up well.

Every hotel should stock the mini fridge with Tim Tams with the full cream milk.

Freycinet offered a lot of the same views, rocks, lichen, and cliffs as Deal Island. Soon.

Let it roll

My preliminary work is officially done. The last tasks were to buy Tasmanian seeds for the garden and patch some form of internet together. The seeds were easy but the internet almost led to tears. But it’s done.

My old mobile wifi device turned on but didn’t connect until I took the battery out? We tried to get a new battery but that ain’t happening. So we bought an external power pack, which was much cheaper than a new device, and it works. The Telstra site was a nightmare; the only page of the website that consistently loads is the one that accepts money.

I’m driving a ginormous rental SUV on the wrong side of the narrow roads. Closing my eyes to oncoming traffic helps. When I picked it up at the Hobart airport, I promptly climbed into the passenger side and couldn’t figure out how to reach the steering wheel from there. I’ve finally stopped turning on the windshield wipers when I want the turn signal.

After a lovely time spent with old friends, and a visit to the Bothwell fiber show, we are poised for the the fifth, but not final, leg of our journey to Flinders Island. For now, we’re headed to the beach.

Less clothes, more yarn

And we’re off. Months of planning and a day of packing are over for our next three months on Deal Island, Tasmania. We broke up the flight to Australia into manageable chunks and are spending a few days in Hawaii. Ten hours on one plane, with extra legroom in a bulkhead exit row, are much easier than fourteen hours from Los Angeles, in sardine can economy.

My last day at home was spent reducing my clothing and adding a few more balls of yarn to my luggage. My big duffel weighed in under the limit at 48 pounds but it blew a tire after a short walk. Now to find new wheels.

We left our little train station in the Adirondacks and headed to New York City. Both places had architecture with spires reaching to the sky.

Despite all the city noise, we slept like babies in our hotel with a view of the Empire State Building.

This third trip is bittersweet. It’s hard saying goodbye to friends and family for three months and recognizing that there are some we may never see again. But there’s also the sheer joy of the adventure.

Night light

Nothing is more magical than the shadows the light casts at night.

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And it is lovely during the day too.
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The fog and rain came and went all day. I occasionally heard the prolonged horn blast of a ship somewhere out in the mist.
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So we worked on rainy day projects. I did some – ahem- compost management. This entailed cleaning the fridge of old food and emptying the composting toilet tray. Always fun.

The flies had plagued us since we arrived. Not biting flies, just annoying ones. I had visions of us destroying the house’s interior and furnishings with a fly swatter. I collected several while I vacuumed. Score. Then, suddenly, they were gone. Maybe they were just testing us until we settled in. Knock on wood please.

Tim went to work on the mowers, the blades were already sharpened, so he changed the oil. If you ever are in the market for a ride on mower, NEVER buy the Gravely zero turn models. They paid no attention to the acrobatics and manual dexterity you need to merely open the oil drain plug. Even though Tim wrote down what worked for us last year, we both ended up bleeding. Shame on them. But it is fun to operate.
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Due solely to Tim’s determination, we got the job done. I think I would have thrown up my hands, cursed a bit, which I did anyway, and walked away.

The pump house may need a whitewash but my door frame held up nicely.
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Tim’s brother, who passed away last year, rebuilt the door and I want to keep it looking spiff for him.

So many memories from the last 11 years we have been here and more to come.

Look what I found

1843371D-029B-4FC5-9640-3877E14C69033309F6EA-0F6A-4A3D-964A-827DF8407DD5All sorts of wonders. We’ve been sampling swimming spots throughout the Adirondacks and have not been disappointed. More often than not, we are the only ones there. We hiked in 5 miles to camp on a lake – I had a thirty pound pack – and were surprised to learn we didn’t need our camp chairs. The lean-to was furnished!

Mushrooms were in full “bloom”?

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And a spider made a ballooning, billowing web that caught the sun on our hike out.

We visited old friends who had a monarch butterfly cocoon in their front yard. There were amazing dots of gold on it. Susan photographed the sequence and a beautiful monarch butterfly emerged.

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Then we were off and running. Kids and grandkids came for a music festival, we spent several days at an Adirondack great camp, had less than a 24 hour turnaround at home and headed off to Seguin Island, where we will be for a couple of weeks. Always a homecoming, seeing old friends and returning to the lighthouse.

Except for a small leak under the sink and a stuck anemometer, all is well. Tim turned on the fog horn as dense fog dripped by. My clothes are damp but the lawn is lush.

We saw a baby seal swim from the rocks into the cove this morning. Although I swam in at least 5 different ponds this summer, I won’t Be swimming among the seals here. I think the sharks might be close behind. As much as I consider myself an “island girl”, I’m really a lake monster. No jellyfish, no sharks, only the occasional leech or snake.
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And then I look outside and see this!

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There and back again

It’s almost summer in the Adirondacks and my calendar is full. I’ve been here, there and will be everywhere.

This wool rug came off the loom just in time for warm weather. It was woven in double width and then unfolded.  It’s sort of mind blowing. You weave part of the top later, the bottom, then the top again and it’s connected on one side. I hope the obvious middle becomes less so over time.

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I sewed this baby quilt for a dear friend’s new grand daughter.

2E0D0B60-78F5-4D50-88B2-93B6A416877CAll while finally getting to spend time outdoors. I’ve been walking to work, in the woods, and hiking with friends and family. Summer is a glorious time at home.

F9F14C3D-6896-40D1-A69C-03E551FC03A5 But I won’t be here much.

I traveled to NYC to see Bruce Springsteen in his Broadway show. I think he was singing and talking directly to me. Wonderful!

A88C78BF-91B1-44D0-816D-9FD5EC256CAD16A8DBCF-C88C-4370-AB85-F8579F7D0F8BWe came across these Lady’s Slippers in the woods and hiked around and to the top of this waterfall.

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557F06EE-E55F-491D-8ECB-A46B5545A6A4And enjoyed ice cream from one of the many stands that open for summer.

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Next I’m headed downstate to babysit grand children for a bit, then off to North Carolina to visit that dear friend, then canoe camping with more grandchildren, traveling to Guatemala, weaving camp in New Hampshire and back to Seguin Lighthouse in the fall. What have I done?? My head is spinning.

But we just got home

And here we are packing and getting ready to leave again. We have been home for a week and were scheduled to go to Seguin Island (this is a crazy year for us) on Sunday. Seguin was our first island lighthouse caretaking gig and it holds a special place in our hearts. Tim has been in touch with the present caretakers and it sounds like they have taken fabulous care of the island and hosted nearly 3000 visitors, each one escorted up the lighthouse tower in groups!

Now the weather report looks like we will go on Saturday because 6 foot seas are predicted for Sunday and the waters off the Kennebec River are some of the more treacherous coastal waters. They combine wind, tide and a beach landing. Oh for the protected waters of Protection Island.  It was so easy these few days back on the mainland. I only had to glance at the weather to see what clothing to wear. Now we’re back to looking at marine forecasts and it is not a pretty sight. The weather won’t be anything like Hurricane Harvey, which just devastated Houston, killed several, caused at least 30,000 people to seek shelter and will cost billions to repair.

But it will cause a change in plans.

We quickly assimilated to home living, however brief. We bonded with the northern grandchildren, went to a minor league baseball game, worked and worked, caught up with friends, unpacked, and now are packing again.

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Yet, I am trying to maintain the slow paced life I enjoyed in Washington. I walked the hour to work one day and saw this cloud upon cloud.

Another day after work, I went down to the Champlain bridge that spans Lake Champlain and walked back and forth between the states a couple of times and toured the Crown Point Historic site.

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We have a personal connection to this bridge. When they decided to replace the old one, they put several designs out for public comment and vote. This is the one we chose.

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I was reminded I have to try again to build a clay pizza oven. My first attempt collapsed but I saw a beautiful example at the Fort. I’m not sure when they use it but it inspired me.  I just have to stay home long enough to do it.

Now to pack.