Boil some water

That’s what they say when a woman goes into labor. Preparations must be made. Our third grandchild was born on Monday, 4 + weeks early. We are thrilled but weren’t quite prepared. I had started to knit this lovely sweater during our trip to the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee called Noveau-ne. It will be lovely but could not be finished in time for Tim’s departure. Here’s how far along I am.


It needs a little more length and a couple of sleeves, and a bonnet and maybe booties. I thought I had plenty of time. We both had planned to be home individually to span the projected arrival. Ah the best laid plans. Tim spent most of Monday rescheduling his trip. It entailed a boat ride ashore at 04:45 yesterday. I finally saw the sunrise, or was awake enough to take a photo. It was lovely when we left the island after the wind from Monday settled down.


I dropped him off at the marina and headed back to the island, where I’m the only inhabitant at the moment. He took a bus, ferry, bus, 2 planes, bus, train and should be there by today. Ah modern travel.

I thought I would put something together fast so all day Monday, while Tim arranged his trip with airlines, bus companies, hotels, etc. and waited for word on the labor’s progression, I pieced together several squares woven on a 4″ pin loom. I have to confess, the squares came with the second hand loom but I had it in mind I would make a bonnet or something from them. Then I got more ambitious and made a vest.


It is sort of sweet but in the end, I decided it gave me something to do rather than pace or boil water and served its purpose. I didn’t send it off with Tim. I’ll decide if little Juniper gets it when I am home.

In the meantime, the eagles and deer will look after me while I am here on my own.



We lucked out, the Olympic National Park is largely a rain forest and our trip spanned 3 sunny, hot days. We hiked along Hurricane Ridge and were able to see Protection Island and Mount Baker from that view point.


Glaciers persist, although they are receding rapidly, and I saw several snowball fights during the walk. I saved several throwees by walking close by which caused the thrower to defer.



The wildflowers are lovely.


And so are we.


We stayed in two funky, off the grid airbnb’s. The first was the microcabin, which turned out just dandy.  There was even a fire pit and an ax so we lit a fire, and had a dandy outside seating area. The shower and outhouse were separate from our spacious sleeping area. Basically the cabin was the size of a double bed with a little porch added around it for an outdoor kitchen. It would not have been as much fun in the rain!


Then we headed to the Pacific Ocean and visited First, Second and Third Beaches. The beaches had huge piles of old driftwood, large trees, to scramble over to get to the sand and the water is too cold to swim. But there were lots of tents and people having fun. The birds were having fun too. We caught these crows trying to get into a backpack and then making away with a packet of cookies. They acted innocently when the people returned but as soon as they packed up, they attacked the cookies in earnest.

We heard lovely bird songs in the mountains, prettier than the seagulls, and got to sleep past sunrise, since there were trees around. We heard the Pacific Wren, heard and saw the Varied Thrush and heard several Hermit Thrush, to name the only ones I can.

The second night we stayed at the Flying S Farm outside Forks, WA. Our host, Chigger, is a retired Forest Ranger and has been living off the grid, with mixed results, for decades. Things flashed a bit but we even had internet and he was an excellent host. Tim found a book he had written that intrigued him and bought it before we left. Since then, I have read a lot of what he has written on line and he has a great voice, and is able to laugh at himself, despite life. Note that our host’s first name did not make Tim even blink an eye.

We parted ways and headed to the rain forest that is the Hoh river valley. One writer contends it is the quietest place in … I’m not sure how large an area but it was pretty quiet. There were giant Sitka Spruce and Maple trees and lots of Spanish Moss and fungus. We saw evidence of logging and passed many logging trucks on the road, just like at home. We ate a logger’s breakfast at a local stop and Tim had 2 hotcakes the size of his plate!  And then I started to see other things in the trees. Time to get back to the island.


We could see the birds missed us. The dock was a mess upon our return but easier to clean than I though it would be. Back up at the house, the barn swallows nest is full of babies, and our picnic table is full of droppings.


Now we learned we are going to be grandparents again, a little earlier than expected. Tim’s getting ready to hit the air when the gale eases.

We’re heading to the Olympic National Park for a few days. Tim planned it out for us, the weather should be terrific although there have been gale winds all day today. So I finally looked at the details of the trip. Weather, check, reservation dates, check, then I looked up the details. Our friends had such good luck with Airbnb that Tim booked his first reservation. I went to the photos.

I know tiny houses are all the rage, we have one at home. And love it. Our first reservation describes itself as a micro cabin. Not tiny house, micro cabin! The photo reveals it all, the structure is only large enough to shelter one bed! The cooking and other necessary facilities are outside! There’s a Coleman camp stove to cook, no running water or lights. The listing says bring a flashlight! Living in the lap of luxury, that’s me. It looks like the bed may turn into a seesaw if I’m not careful. One of us will have roll to the middle when the other gets out of bed.


I can’t wait to see what the next night will bring. It’s a good thing I signed up for a travel rewards credit card for the trips I book.

This morning this family ran in front of the truck on my back from the marina.

A nice break from the seagulls.

IMG_1621where about 80 mule deer, or black tail deer, are reported to roam. We’ve seen 2 fawns and the males are sprouting fuzzy antlers. Happily there are NO deer ticks on the island. I’m so used to avoiding tall grass at home where Lyme disease runs rampant. Yesterday I combed through chest high grass for a few hours to highlight a path for a tractor that will thrash it down, without a care in the world.

The fog rolled in and we are on our own.


In contrast to Saturday.


Seagull shenanigans have slowed down a bit but they remain ever present.


IMG_1608And the eagles keep a sharp lookout.


All’s well on our home front.

I’m an eternal optimist, perhaps bordering on pollyanna-ish. But in my experience if you expect good things, good things happen. Perhaps it’s just about being open. What follows is a very small example, but I assure you I have had bigger examples as well, it happens all the time.

We received some food, including a jar of apricot jam, when our research neighbor completed his work and left the island. Then I received an email,  with a recipe for Almond Puff Loaf, that needed jam(!) and sliced almonds, which I just happened to have on hand. Today I whipped up a loaf to have with coffee. It was simple, delicious and photogenic.


And now for the birds. I saw this eagle join its buddy at the water’s edge. I’m not sure what they were investigating.



We spotted these two eagles feeding on a seal when we went out in the boat the other day. A young eagle was off to the side and a third adult was waiting in the “wings”,

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This group seems pretty content. Who wouldn’t be with that view?


This heron had a surprise visitor with ruffled feathers.

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The house that formerly stood here may have been a little too close to the bluff. This fence now stands at the edge of a 200 foot cliff.


I liked this vanishing point.


And that loon we saw the other day is no Common Loon. It’s a Yellow-Billed Loon, identified by people other than me who know. It’s relatively rare with less than 10,000 left in the world. And one is here in our little marina. Ah, the universe.


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Weaving memories

Well I’ve done it – made a silk purse from a sow’s ear- and I’m delighted with it. Years ago, when we lived on Fire Island during the winter, I found an already broken down boat bag on the beach, buried in the sand. It’s small, has lots of pockets and has served me well over the years but is slowly disintegrating. The straps were frayed and there was a hole in it. So I decided to dress it up.

I wove two bands using pebble weave with a backstrap loom. There’s a clear progression from one strap to the next as I improved my technique. It’s all about the tension. Now I can even draft my own patterns.

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I even used my little 2″ pin loom to weave a square of fabric with the same cotton in the weaving to patch a hole.IMG_1563

OK that was over the top but it makes me smile. Now this bag will remind me of my time weaving on the porch, looking out over the water with gulls flying overhead, and make me smile.

Then I got into some marlinspike seamanship. Except I used a pencil instead of a marlinspike. We needed to replace a fender on the boat. They are used to reduce the impact when the captain doesn’t dock as well as, ahem, (s)he would have liked and as a result the fender “popped”, or sacrificed itself for the boat. No harm done, except for my bruised ego. I found another fender on the boat and wove an eye splice into a line to permanently attach it.


I use the app, Grog’s Knots, for boating knots and mats. Another outlet for weaving using ropes as the substrate.

My favorite birds to date are the Pigeon Guillemots. Just look at these two with their red legs. They are not at all graceful and land on the water or land with a distinct plop. But so cute.


The Northern Harriers are not my favorite because I think they have it out for me. They fly overhead, chirp and buzz me.  They must have a nest near the cabin. Of course as I write this, an eagle just dove into the seagull colony causing them all, hundreds, to circle in a tizzy, so I shouldn’t feel too bad.

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It flies so close to me I should get good photos, although I may have a hardhat in my future.

I haven’t seen the great horned owls yet but they leave us presents most days. They feast on Rhinoceros auklets then leave the the heads and cleaned bones on our wood chopping stump. You can see why it’s called Rhinoceros.

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I used a different block to chop this kindling.

We find evidence all over the island of birds eating birds with scattered feathers and remains.  Earlier on, we saw some broken eggs but haven’t seen that recently.

As Tim likes to say, “It’s a jungle out there”.

After the rain

IMG_0384IMG_0385Comes a rainbow. Something else to look at other than seagulls copulating on the front lawn. It rained for about a day and a half. I got to work weaving a replacement straps for my little boat bag, which is gradually disintegrating.

That jumble of sticks and strap combined with my body makes up the loom.  I control tension by leaning forward or back. It’s been a process learning this super portable way to weave.

I can understand why people who live where the weather is always nice grow bored with it. The clouds and sky were dramatic before and after the front passed through. We had hoped to get out to watch the Race to Alaska go by but it was raining and foggy. Check it out at here. It is a boat (loosely defined) race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska, 750 miles. The main requirement is the boat cannot have a motor. There were canoes, kayaks, lots of trimarans and stand up paddle boards!! That’s right, SUP 750 miles, sometimes in open water.  Oh my. They left the harbor with large oars for power. The first day didn’t have much wind and the rowers did very well.  My favorite boat name is, “What the Fuca”. First prize $10,000, second prize, a set of steak knives! Gotta love it.


And then the beautiful full moon rose. It was still light out at 10 pm. The whole gang was out to enjoy it. They took a break from their primary activity.

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But they are at it again this morning!


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