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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.

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We slept little and rose early to a gale warning. Nothing materialized near us so we did our final clean up, shut off and lock down. I had to take the truck back to the maintenance shop to drop something off and flushed several eagles from the brush. They flew overhead to wish me godspeed.

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It has been two months since we had any rain. One of the mule deer came down to the marina to lap up some salt water.

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The seagulls will be happy to have their island to themselves and they can dirty everything to their heart’s content.

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We packed and shipped our bikes and Tim’s keyboard (his source of sanity on the island), Tim swam, then we hopped a bus and ferry to Seattle. Tim indulged me and we were tourists for the afternoon.

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But he managed to get a front row seat on the monorail ride downtown on our way to the airport. We’re on our way home.

Time offshore is coming to an end and it is time to take stock. Let me report that first of all, I had EXACTLY the right amount of q tips. Who knew? Overall our food stores did great, almost nothing left over and no shortages. Going ashore definitely helped. So tomorrow is the big day when I clean the refrigerator. Today I washed the floors with a homemade linoleum solution. It better look good, I added a couple of drops of Argan oil, since I didn’t have baby oil; that stuff is worth its weight in gold. The reality of caretaking: cleaning and moving.

But first we saw the eclipse. My pinhole projector worked pretty well. As predicted, photos did not come out clearly. It was too hard to hold both the box and the camera steady and my attention wandered.   90% shadow looked like a small bite. So I started creating my own sunsets. That was fun.

 

Here is an idea of what it looked like. The shadow moved across the top of the sun.

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It was eerie. It became mildly dark, enough where I would have needed a light inside, and the temperature dropped. I did not notice the birds act differently though, probably because it never got completely dark.

This morning’s sunrise in fog was spectacular.

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Then the fog burned off and we could see Mount Baker again.

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We have been recording twice a day weather observations and it is a good chance to look at the sky.

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I’ll miss Protection Island’s vistas but look forward to hearing birds sing rather than squawk at home. After I clean the refrigerator.

 

 

I’m so excited I cannot even write about it. These two share my joy.

 

I am getting ready for the solar eclipse on Monday when we should expect about 90% of the sun to be covered by cloud on Protection Island. I am convinced, and hopeful, that this alignment will not cause the massive Cascadia earthquake that is forecast to happen sometime in the not too distant future. Selfishly, I hope it is not before August 24 but it could be devastating for the west coast and coastal communities when it happens. This article in the New Yorker was an eye opener. A friend pointed this article out to me after we were already here. Prior to that I was only vaguely aware. I knew we were in a tsunami evacuation area. Then I started researching earthquakes and tsunamis. Distant earthquakes will give us hours notice but a local one will not. Someone else pointed out a theory that syzygy, when the earth, moon and sun are in alignment, increases the risk of earthquakes but I do not think this is supported by the data. The big one will happen when it happens ideally not when I am using my new home made solar eclipse viewer.

I did not purchase solar viewing glasses, some of which have been recalled because they won’t work. I remember from when I was a child, it was more dangerous to look at a partially eclipsed sun than to look at the sun directly. When you look at the sun, your pupils are small and the bright light causes you to look away. During an eclipse, when it’s dark out, your pupils dilate and if you see some of the sun around the edge of the moon, before turning away, it has more potential to directly harm your eyes. So I will look away and see the eclipse indirectly.

I mentioned this to a few twenty somethings who were here on the island doing some plant research. (I will tell you about the mites in our refrigerator another time). I remember using homemade devices with a hole in it and some foil. First I thought it was an apple but that was for something else.

A simple viewer can be made from a box, a piece of foil and white paper. I won’t get any stellar photographs of the eclipse, but we will get a chance to see it nonetheless.

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This is what the sun looked like today through my viewer.

I took a box, traced a piece of white paper for the bottom and cut two openings on the top.  Next I poked a tiny hole in a piece of foil with my knitting needle. I put the foil over one of the openings. Then with my back to the sun, I lined it up so I could see the sun in the box.  There are more elaborate methods but this is all I need.

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Thank you Jim for this pancake mix. It was delicious and was one of the only boxes, besides the Idaho potatoes we had.

I’m interested to see what the birds do during the eclipse. We finally went and heard a few rhinoceros auklets come ashore, buzz by with their wings and crash land with bang after dark. Maybe they will do it at midday. The seagulls get quiet during the dark so we may get lucky.

Look away!

 

Feeling small

Lots of things make me feel small but let’s start with Tim – and his friends.

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We had a wonderful visit with Tim’s childhood friend and his wife.  Lots of great conversation and laughs while we shared the island with them.  But look at me! I’m a little person in the group.

The eagles may not be bigger than me but they carry themselves so well.

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The sky dwarfs me. I’ve taken a new interest because we now have to provide twice a day weather reports in preparation for a burn later in the month. We have to estimate the cloud cover; make a subjective observation, objective. But if you hold your arms above your head and imagine the diameter of a circle, you can estimate the amount of cloud cover in your little world.

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We also have to report whether or not there is fog.

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One day had little cloud cover but lots of fog.  Imagine that.

The seagulls look down on me from their perch on the roof.

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Not only am I small, I am outnumbered: 80,000 birds to 1 human (really 2 if I include Tim).

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This old tree knows how to stand alone.

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These colors remind me of a sweater I have started.

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Never a dull moment.

They always were, the number is just getting smaller. We leave Aug 24, which is just around the corner. Before then we have to figure out how to get our bikes, and Tim’s keyboard to the shipping pick up point. We are sending them home via bike flight, which worked great getting them here.

Until then, I am bonding with the birds, deer, seals and apparently at least one elephant seal that has made its way to the island. Tim went ashore this week for the usual biathalon trip – motor boat, bike 5 miles, swim 1 mile, bike 5 miles (at least 2 downhill) and motor boat back to the island. Instead I stayed and took my usual hour and a half walk. It’s so easy to get exercise when there are no other demands for your time. Must continue this at home.

I usually spend the morning weaving and reading. Then one of us has to clean the dock, do a couple of chores, and then I walk and walk. I highly recommend it. I have been reading books by a few wonderful nature writers, they get it. Solitude and nature is therapeutic. Stopping to watch eagles soar overhead, watching how a sunrise changes in the smoky atmosphere, even watching baby seagulls spread their wings. It’s all good.

I will try to stay off the go, go, go train when I get home. Make time for things I enjoy and don’t waste time on the internet.

These are some of things I saw the past couple of days.

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Another smoky sunrise. A front is moving through today and the smoke should clear. Odd that it affected the atmosphere but it did not smell smoky.

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A pair of Larry’s.

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Smoky mountains called the Olympics.

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Wonderful clouds.

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And the new me.

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