Why island life?

Not just any island, offshore please. Ideally with only two occupants. Yesterday made it perfectly clear to me why I love these opportunities. In between putting up window grates and storing the multitude of benches that now reside here, I stared in awe at the sky as it constantly changed. Black clouds brought a little rain and then moved to the north.

From the vantage point of a hill atop an offshore island, and safely onshore, clouds, gloomy skies and rain are spectacular.

And you need clouds and rain to form rainbows. As we got ready for dinner, Tim saw a rainbow out front. I went out back to see it and watched it with the current, resident peregrine falcon.

Until he found something to hunt and flew off.

This is the view I wake up to from our bed looking south to mile buoy. There is also the sound of the wind, bell buoys flag halyards.

We have not seen any whales but the boat traffic is interesting. With a Marine Traffic app, many times we can identify the boats and ships we see offshore. It makes them less anonymous as they drift or cruise by.

And of course it helps that Tim and I usually enjoy each other’s company and work well together. I couldn’t do this without such an excellent partner.

clouds and more rolled in

We have had 3 beautiful days, sunny, with a light breeze, but finally are getting some Maine weather. After several days of crystal clear blue skies, clouds and moisture moved in ahead of a cold front.

That’s an amazing part of this 360 degree view: being able to watch the weather roll in. Two scheduled groups of visitors, overnight guests and a working bee, were cancelled.

That didn’t stop a group of 10 or so kayakers from paddling in as part of an outdoor leadership training. We briefly met one of their guides in 2008, June 22 to be exact, when he appeared with a group that navigated here through pea soup fog by gps and the sound of the foghorn.

Yesterday the foghorn came in while Tim was practicing his keyboard. These days sailors have to request the foghorn by using channel 83 on the vhf radio and clicking their heels ( or the mic button) three times. We can’t see the cove from the house and were visited by three Coasties who were here to test the foghorn and take an inventory of stuff they are going to take off the island by helicopter.

One never knows who will pop up here.

And then the sun set.

Island bound

I wish I was bound to an island but for now, we are at our home away from home, Seguin Island, Maine. The weather shone upon us and we arrived on island with only one dunking. Me of course but no harm was done, just a little bruised ego.

First glance of Seguin

I started dreading the trip about a year ago, largely because our arrival by dinghy, with all we need, is always a crap shoot. Once we make it ashore, wet or dry, our stuff – food, keyboard, clothing and knitting – then has to make it up 300 feet to our quarters.

There used to be a donkey engine and tram to haul our stuff when we were first here in 2008. But alas it no longer works. Leave it to Friends of Seguin to come up with a solution. They built a hand trolley we pushed up the tram and got our gear up the hill in two trips. Luckily there was a group of strapping young men on the beach who helped us carry our water (in 48 lb jugs) to the trolley.

Trolley at the top of the tram

So maybe I won’t dread our first day next year. Just maybe.

The island keeps getting better. It’s lush this year and the apple trees are loaded with fruit. I may try to make a pie with them. I didn’t bring any in an effort to keep the weight, ours and our gear’s, down.

We found a new type of tree on the North Trail, a crab tree!

Crabtree

The first order fresnel lens is sparkling.

And the solar led lights work fine.

The old back up lens is in the Museum. Now that the light is solar powered, no need for backup.

And the sun and moon never disappoint.

Coyotes sing for our supper

Heard from our front porch

It’s a jungle out there. We hear coyotes most nights, deer snack on our shrubs, rabbits keep the driveway clean of clover and greens, and I am not sure what the snakes do, except cause me to let out a shout whenever I see them.

Fawn feeling right at home
Snake in the shrubs

Summer is flying by with so much pent up activity taking place. But at the same time the Delta variant is surging. Stay safe, get vaccinated.

Wildflower garden

Our wildflower patch turned out to be mostly black eyed susans, which are pretty nonetheless. The honeybees aren’t interested. Our untended field is just as pretty.

Note the cute bee-shed she-shed still standing
The morning glories reseeded themselves

We clearly needed a vacation from our busy schedule. Tim booked a little cabin on Lake George and we brought Sparky along for the ride.

Headed to another swimming bay

We swim when we can and are just chillin’, sometimes literally. I’m wearing a wool cap this morning. I decided to try my hand at jewelry making this trip. It’s another hobby that travels well.

Les Bijoux

It is surprisingly relaxing just getting out of your own environment. There are no overhanging chores waiting, so the mind can wander: watching ducks, looking at clouds, and taking daytime naps.

And there’s always another boat ride on Sparky.

Everyone needs a road trip now and then

And this jeep does it with style, with a crocheted wheel cover.

We went to a show at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center and had some time to explore the Park, take the waters, and swim in a beautiful pool.

Last weekend, we visited Gloucester, MA for a dear couple’s 50th anniversary party. A fabulous thunderstorm rolled through our first night and hung directly overhead for quite a while. Very dramatic. We don’t get thunderstorms like that in the Adirondacks. The mountains catch them before they can reach our “Pleasant Valley”. The grey weather persisted through the weekend.

Next time we’ll be more careful about reading the fine print in an Airbnb listing. The first night, while it stormed, we both rolled into the middle of the little pull out couch‘s mattress. Tim took matters into his own hands and moved it to the floor for the second night. One of us slept beautifully.

There’s a good chance a group of my bees are enjoying their own road trip. One hive may have swarmed. They were gathering and talking about it for a couple of days.

I’ll inspect their hive this weekend to see if there is still a queen present, or in the making. In the meantime, I sampled some of their honey. It was light colored and delicious. I can hardly wait until they share it with me.

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.