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Archive for the ‘Island caretaker’ Category

I am trying to get better shots of the wildlife. We walked down to the marina and were greeted by this eagle along the cliffs.

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Harlequin ducks took off when we got to the dock.

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A lone loon has been hanging out in the harbor. We haven’t heard its call because it probably gets drowned out by all the squawking seagulls.

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We’ve seen a couple of tufted puffins on the water. So cute.

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Next week this relic of a truck is going to leave the island along with the van on the hill that serves as a blind for the researchers. They think the van has just enough brake fluid to make it down the hill to the marina one last time.

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But here’s the real news. I wanted to be able to dock the boat in the slip before the end of the May. I used to be a sailboat snob. Sailors need to know about the wind, currents and of course the rules of the road.  I thought power boaters just had to turn a key and needed no real knowledge of seamanship. But it’s all about the takeoff and landing. Maneuvering in open water is a piece of cake. Docking, not so much.

Last week, I spent a couple of hours practicing docking in our little marina; no other boats, no observers. Today I tried, for the third time, to dock at the marina on the mainland (whose name I will withhold) in a tiny little slip with a narrow approach. The first time, I somehow ended up perpendicular to the dock and had to turn the helm over to Tim. I was disheartened. That prompted me to invest in an online course on docking a single engine outboard. It seems I had it easy with a sailboat. We had a keel, a big rudder and an inboard engine. Make a turn and that’s the way the boat tracks. Powerboats slip sideways along the water and are not as straight forward. And of course neither have brakes.

I would dream about my approach to the slip when I slept. The second time, I allotted myself two tries. I missed the slip both times, but in a more controlled fashion. Today I was ready to give it two tries again. But I did it smoothly the first try!  I let out a whoop as Tim tied us to the dock. Well it must have been heard by our slip neighbor a few boats away because when I took the boat out later in the day, he and a friend applauded my seamanship! I have to remember everyone had to learn sometime.

 

 

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Quite literally. We woke up to hear a funny chirping outside. It sounded like it was coming down the stove pipe, but happily there was no bird in the woodstove. Tim went outside to investigate and sure enough, the eagle was perched on the cabin’s stove pipe. No photo to prove it though.

Weather was dramatic yesterday; winds to 40 knots.. The cabin shuddered and creaked but didn’t blow down. One door blew off one of the outbuildings, the roof was lifting off another but overall we fared fine. The boat was still securely tied to the dock the last we looked.

The wind was whistling but at least the sun was out. We went to check on the daffodils we were assigned to collect but they haven’t yellowed yet.

I often see things in nature. The rocks of Deal Island have fabulous character, a mouse lady and dragon among others. Well here, we’re surrounded by 20,000 birds. So what do the clouds look like?

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A feather! Imagine that.

We stopped by to talk to the seagull researchers. They confirmed what Tim thought. All the seagulls leave the island after dark. They won’t once they have eggs but at the moment, all the colonies leave as a group and raft on the water about 3 km away. How do they know this?  They stay up all night and watch and listen. They are also looking into the ovulatory cycle of seagulls. It seems when times are tough, they all lay eggs together. Less chance of 1/1000 eggs being snatched up then 1/10. Interesting stuff. And a small increase in the water temperature, due to climate change, is enough to make this happen.

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The wind didn’t stop shipping traffic or affect the wildlife too much.

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I got a chance to try out this hand powered food processor in the kitchen. My first attempt to mash potatoes with it was a disaster. I guess it is not a ricer. But it grates and slices hard veggies like a champ.

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So we enjoyed a carrot craisin salad and I didn’t even get any skinned knuckles from grating the carrots.

Another great day in paradise.

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Or as Tim likes to say, “There’s no such thing as paradise”. We did use the windy day to check the septic tanks and I am happy to report all is well.

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We finally saw Mount Baker.  Who knew it was lurking there in the clouds, 68 miles away and just beyond our vision, for the past 3 weeks.

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This shot was taken from the mainland. Protection Island is to the right and Mount Baker is to the left. Striking! I guess it was cloudier than we thought.

IMG_1221The weather is supposed to be sunny this week, but we are hunkering down for a gale tomorrow. We’ll stay on the island and wait it out. I love windy weather when we are safely ashore, especially when it’s sunny.

Yesterday began with dense fog. I thought we might have to delay our pre-play swim until after the performance but it cleared at 9:30 am as predicted.

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So we made it ashore and gassed up the boat, with 82 gallons of gas!!! rode our bikes to the YMCA, swam, ate lunch out, saw the play, The Gin Game, shopped and made it home by 6:30. Quite a day on the town.

Today I had a chance to use my new Sami rigid heddle loom to work on pick up weaving. This is a northern Swedish style of weaving and it seems like pick up weaving with training wheels since the pattern threads are threaded separately.

I tied myself off and these two sat down to watch me in action.

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They are building a nest just above the picnic table on the porch and are less than happy to see me. They chirp, twitter and make clicking sounds, but I am here to stay for a few months.IMG_1224

Another craft to learn. Lucky for me I have some time on my hands. Durhamweaver has some great blog posts and youtube videos demonstrating this. Thank goodness for unlimited data.

 

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As in, “Wasn’t yesterday’s weather just fine?”.  I think that is how they would describe it in Australia, sunny, pleasant temperature in the 60’s and, did I say, sunshine! Makes a world of difference. Today there is pea soup fog but it should lift before we plan to go ashore to see Sequim’s production of the play, The Gin Game. Quite a Sunday in store for us.

Yesterday’s patrol was a delight. Lots of seabirds, seals, and mountains. I politely shooed a fishing boat away that was too close to the island for the wildlife’s comfort, 200 yard buffer around the whole island. They pleaded ignorance, hmmm, and complied. We investigated an object with a very straight black vertical stripe. At first I thought it was a tent on the beach! We got closer, looked from different angles and because it was so straight. Tim finally reckoned it was a shadow cast by a log hanging over the top of the rock. Disaster averted.

 

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Loon


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Eagle lookout


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Rhinoceros auklet and tufted puffin

Things I would like to have in the kitchen but don’t are a rolling pin, pie plate, muffin tins and a baking sheet.  I am such a princess. A chilling bottle of wine always serves well as a rolling pin, thank you Malcolm and Margaret; we have a thin round baking sheet, which is likely to burn my cookies; I’ve been using a square pan with some good pie results, except the other night, when in a stupor I sprinkled baking soda instead of cornstarch over my apples; and muffin tins may be essential for popovers. Which of these are really essential. None really. I’ll see how my mood is when we are ashore. Skip the rolling pin for sure.

I’ve learned about another weird chemical reaction, I haven’t worked out the formulae but a have an inkling. Not for the weak of heart. We can’t drink the well water because it is very high in nitrates. It’s clear, doesn’t smell and is fine to wash dishes, shower, etc. That’s one compound in the formula.  The next is urochrome. You may not have heard of it but it’s the compound that makes pee (urine – uro) yellow and is from the breakdown of bile in our blood. I think an oxygen molecule from the nitrate latches on somewhere to urochrome and changes its structure. Well when the two mix, like in the toilet, urine magically turns clear. Very odd. How will I know if I am well hydrated or not? Lucky for you, I will not post a photo to illustrate this concept.

We got tired of using paper napkins so I wove two with cotton thread I had on hand and my 4 inch pin weave-it loom. Not ideal, but they work. They are the first pin loom weavings I have sewn together. As someone said, these little loom squares are like potato chips, you can’t just weave one. They are so cute and take about 15 minutes. What do I have but time?

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I took a walk before dinner to enjoy the views. There were two eagles and two northern harriers checking me out. I keep my glasses and hat on! And I have no intention of watching Hitchcock’s “The Birds” again until we leave her.  I was traumatized the first time I watched it because the next day I went out to sell Girl Scout cookies for my Brownie troop and birds were just waiting to attack me.

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I’m used to a friendly cat greeting my on my return home.  Here on Protection Island, it’s all about the birds.  The first time we pulled into the little harbor was magical.  There are always large numbers of pigeon guillemots, harlequin ducks, a few oystercatchers, a couple of eagles and thousands of seagulls.  Seals have landed on the island and the surrounding sandspits.  I don’t think they are elephant seals but they sure do make a huge pile.

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This guy was watching us when we left today.

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We went ashore to swim and shop and I decided to relax in a little sunshine when we returned home.  As I sat and wove outside, two black tailed deer gingerly approached me, but approach they did until the seagulls’ squawking drove them away.

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We’re the intruders here after all.

 

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What a difference a little sunshine makes after a few days of rain and clouds. Last night’s colors were bright and dark at the same time. We even had a rainbow spout. And we were reminded there are snow covered mountains on the Olympic  Peninsula.

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We live in a cabin in a very “fertile” area of the island. Kind of like Times Square before Mayor Giuliani.  Either one pair of seagulls is very amorous, or every day several new pairs come to mate before our eyes.  And they’re not quiet about it, they are seagulls after all.  There’s a lot of squawking.   First there’s the hello baby…

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Then the male stands on the back of the female

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and they co-mingle their tales to do the nasty. No appendages involved.  Look it up. This happens right outside our window, several times a day.

Now they’re looking towards the future and getting ready to nest.

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Tim cleaned all the windows when we got here but they are making amazing messes with their fly-bys and he has to do it again.

I spent a couple of hours docking today. With a light wind, no spectators, and no other boats to worry about, I do pretty OK.

Today was a high carb day.  I baked a loaf of bread and a coffee cake. Yum. We’re staying here for a while since there have been small craft warnings so I am making do with what we have. We still have wine and chocolate, so we should be fine.

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Rain and clouds may be gone for a while.  These were passing clouds this afternoon. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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