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We’ve been there and gone. Home was nice for a while. These turkeys thought so too.

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I provisioned mostly at home. Look at this colorful fruit display. I complimented the produce staff at the local Hannafords.

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I guess the dragon fruit I first saw in Washington is the latest craze nationwide. Supermarkets and their wares are pretty much the same now across the country. And Tim Tams are readily available.

We beat the weather and caught the ferry to Seguin Island with a group of merry makers. The seas were rough but the landing was calm. It’s a good thing because we dinghy all our food and clothes and Tim’s gigunda keyboard ashore. We have added to our dry bags over the years and everything made it dry and intact. We’ve gotten here with wet clothes and once had to bob for our apples in the cove. So with all precautions taken, the landing went fine.

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Gale winds and big seas are forecast through Friday. It began yesterday and we had gusts to 40 mph with waves crashing on all the ledges and the east side of the island. That didn’t stop two hardy families from coming ashore. They leisurely toured the tower and then went off to hike the north trail. I went back up to the top of the tower when I saw one of the mothers running back to the lighthouse looking very serious. Then everyone was gone. I went to try to look at the cove to see if something had happened to one of their boats or if waves were breaking across the mouth of the cove or if someone was injured on the trail.  But before I got there the mom came back.  I asked her if all was OK. Indeed it was. She wanted to tell the whole group to join her on the north trail because there were BLACKBERRIES! Ah cruisers.

The island is in great shape after a season with hard working keepers. Trails are cut wide and low despite hosting 2500 visitors over 60 days! And there was delicious homemade ice cream in the fridge and two bottles of red wine. And the garden is still producing tomatoes, green beans and squash.

I had forgotten the work I had done at the end of last season. I painted 3/4 porches around the house and repaired the pump house door. They all look spiffy. Now I’m figuring out this year’s projects. We have been asked to give a talk at this year’s island fundraiser so we are working on photos from our 5 island caretaking gigs. Should be fun if the weather allows us to leave the island. We’re back to checking weather forecasts several times a day. Island living. For now, we are marooned until at least Friday. Just the way we love it. And we have all the food we need.

Mount Washington was visible our first day back and we had a beautiful sunset.  Then the rain came.

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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.

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.

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