Busy, busy, busy

On all fronts.  Despite nighttime temperatures in the 20’s f, Spring is definitely here.  Shoots are shooting, I see the grass but the wooly bear still hasn’t moved, even though  I sprinkled some sprigs of grass near him.

I have managed to layer four or five quilts and am getting ready to start quilting them; perhaps one or two by hand.

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My new Icelandic sweater is finished.  I had to attend a forty hour course, which provided at least thirty hours of solid knitting time.  I was basically done when the course was over but ran out of yarn.  Rather than go back to the Icelandic source for Lopi, via Canada, I ordered Reynolds Lite Lopi and knit the button and neck bands.  They match perfectly.  This wasn’t the same lot, or even the same brand!  Go figure.


Four bracelets are in the works for a reunion with high school friends.  So are 12 placemats.


Now the loom has a blanket on it.  My widest project yet but by no means the hardest.  I’m using Plymouth Encore yarn, which is very smooshy and washable.


The kitchen has a batch of sourdough starter in the works.  I found a loose recipe on PBS’s site with Julia Child.  I took a pound of grapes, mashed them up a bit in cheesecloth and added flour and water.  The concoction has been bubbling away for about a week and will soon be ready to create a rustic loaf of bread.  And I will feed it more flour and water and perhaps it will last for years.  Will I want it to last for years?


We miss fresh greens in the winter and even would like more in the Spring.  I found a little hydroponic grower and have sprouted arugula, mustard greens and red lettuce.  We’ll see how this goes.


Now to get my butt off the couch and get outside and enjoy Spring!


Our last night in Tasmania

We’ve said a lot of goodbyes lately. Goodbye to the islands of the Bass Strait-Deal, Dover, Erith and Flinders; goodbye to the people we met; and now goodbye to Tasmania after four wonderful months. We loved how people here know how to embrace life with clean air, wonderful food, beautiful water and islands.

We spent a few days outside Hobart and I got to visit a fiber guild and then a day of dyeing. I needed a fiber fix with ladies. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with guys this summer doing manly things.

The wildlife is different from Deal Island, but interesting nonetheless. I never got any good photos of the Black Swans in Hobart.

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These ladies laid some glorious eggs for breakfast.


We spent a morning in the brand new MONA in Hobart, the Museum of Old and New Art, which displays an interesting private collection. Tim’s favorite was the poo machine, which mimic’s the human digestive tract. It’s fed twice daily and produces once a day like clockwork, with the aroma to prove it.


Mine was the goldfish juxtaposed with a huge knife. P3170130.JPG  

In the company of strangers

We saw Deal Island from a new perspective yesterday. A luxury yacht anchored in the cove the night before and called us and said they wanted to see a little of the island. They didn’t have a lot of time but checked out the museum and Barn Hill, which has some spectacular views of Murray Passage. Then they asked us if we wanted to come with them to Erith Island before they left. You betcha!

It was strange because it was our first time off the island for three months. Sort of a practice run for this weekend. The passage between Erith and Deal Islands is much more open then it seems from up at the caretaker cottage. We got to look back at the island and the compound from the water and then from Erith.


While we were anchoring, we saw our first sea eagle on the rocks of Erith.


We walked the tracks to explore the shack and campsites we knew were there. Then on the way back, we were joined by dolphins. P3090145.JPG

When we got back we walked to the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog. Quite a day.


Local lizards, beetles, possums and snakes

I’ve grown fond of the lizard who hangs around the sun room. I can hear the little pitter, patter of his feet as he runs across the linoleum. He no longer resides in my sneaker but I found where he was storing his food stash. He made quick work of a little beetle.

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These beetles give off a strange scent. i thought I was smelling mildew in the house, but Tim figured out it was the beetles that get inside the house. Stinky bugs. Other huge beetles remind us of the “Cluster Flies” from home. In the morning, we find them lying on their backs doing the back stroke to death. They are so large, when they land on their backs, their legs aren’t long enough and can’t give them enough leverage to flip back over. Then I sweep them outdoors.


This beetle was floundering around the other day. It’s very ornate with a superstructure antenna. Unfortunately, it makes it unstable and top heavy and it also has a hard time flipping over when it lands on its back.


We watch movies on the computer and have been sitting in the sunroom at night. Since it is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows on three sides, the light shines around the periphery outside. We have learned a possum makes a nightly trek around the house, checks out the barbecue for snacks and heads off.

This is the largest white lipped snake I have seen here. I guess it does have white lips. I stamped my foot and it slithered off into the tussocks. It left the wallaby turd behind.

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Red skies at night predict a gale the next day!

We are enjoying our last full moon on Deal Island and the skies cooperated.

Full moon over the Museum

We had fog on and off all day, and even recorded several mm of water in the weather gauge from it.

Fog rolls in and out

It lifted in the afternoon and produced another beautiful sunset with the sky ablaze.


As I walked around last night, I marveled at the size of the island and its sheer cliffs. The lighthouse hill is a 1000 foot cliff on the edge of the island. The island is 1600 acres and is inhabited by two people, us! We are surrounded by soaring hills and big sky and usually big waves.

There is a small chance we may get to see the Southern Lights over the next several days. There is a certain chance we will have gale force winds over the next several days. The weather is very exciting here. Especially from the comfort of our cozy, caretaker cottage. The wind howls and whistles, the rain pounds the roof and the sun is brighter than we have ever seen.

Lighthouse hill alit

  Lightouse hill afar

Deal Island Sunset

The flight of the sailboats

I saw this boat in the cove yesterday and the water and its shadow were so clear it seemed airborne. As more boats arrived, the dance of the sailboats at anchorage began. Initially two were anchored. Another arrived and dropped its anchor, perhaps a little too close to a boat already there. They hauled the anchor, circled around and dropped it again. We go to bed and someone drags anchor, or simply decides to move during the night, and the positions change again. Someone told us they were here when there were at least 18 boats in the cove. Hard to imagine.

Flying Sandpiper
A couple of ketches
We celebrated Valentine’s day yesterday with flowers from the garden.
Valentine's day flowers
Today I found this heart on the lawn from a Cape Barren Goose.
Cape Barren Valentine Heart
And what about this soup made entirely from the garden’s beets. Gorgeous color.

Jack jumpers and spiders

I think i stirred things up with cleaning and blogging. I cleaned the house and the next day awakened to several small, dead spiders in the house. Maybe they ran out of insects to eat or I destroyed their webs. I purposely left two spiders as sentries over the doorway to the sun room to keep the house clean of bugs. I took photos of the dead spiders in the morning and one I ran into at the lighthouse in the afternoon

Kitchen spider Sun room spider Watchful spider at the lighthouse

Then I blogged about vacuuming spiders. I got to put it to the test yesterday.

First, Tim was clearing a trail, while I painted the lighthouse stairs. I had the better of the jobs because once again the views were phenomenal. The wind was howling around the lighthouse and the tower was singing and groaning and the stairs were actually vibrating. What fun!

Another beautiful day at the lighthouse
Ruinsa at the lighthouse and Erith Island
Tim was working away on Squally Trail and was bit by not one, but two, jack jumper ants. I wrote about them earlier and have a link to a photo here. Yikes. At least he didn’t have an allergic reaction to it, which is fairly common. Then to make matters worse, he came home to shower and while he was in the shower, a huntsman spider


was on the outside of the shower door. He couldn’t get out of the shower because if he slid the door, it would have run inside the shower and they are surprisingly fast. He called me to get rid of it. I was hysterical laughing because it is so incredibly huge. I got a litre container and the mouth wasn’t big enough. Then when I moved towards it, the spider started to go in the shower. I could hardly stand, I was laughing so hard. I resorted to extreme measures and got out the vacuum. The spider is about 3X the diameter of the hose but I got it running and managed to suck it into the vacuum. Then we plugged up the hose with a paper towel. How long until it dies in there? And is there a flap to keep it in? I hope so. It may turn out the dead ones are actually more dangerous but the huntsman are so big and ugly.
Plugged vacuum

Dinner aboard the Young Endeavor

Young Endeavor in Garden Cove

We received a phone call in the afternoon from the Young Endeavor, anchored in Garden Cove. She is a 44 meter Naval Training Vessel, with a youth training program for kids aged 16-23. It focuses on personal development and growth sort of like Outward Bound and 10,000 kids have done it. This year they sailed with the Sydney Hobart racers as a support vessel. There is a crew of nine Royal Australian Navy personnel and 28 youths in training. A group came up to the lighthouse and then they invited us down for a tour of the boat. What a treat. The kids were a little green because they sailed here in 30 knot winds overnight and were happy to be on land, hugging trees? A cure for seasickness. They all climb the yard arms and have their first go at it in the dark so no one can really tell how high they are. By the end of the trip, they take over the ship for 24 hours and are observed by the Naval crew.


The crew couldn’t have been nicer and more safety conscious. They met us on the beach with a dinghy and foul weather gear and lifejackets. There was a mildly dicey transfer to the ship from the bouncing dinghy up a ladder on the side. We had a grand tour and stayed for dinner! Very sweet. The wind picked up while we were aboard and we caught a ride back ashore. We landed in water up to our chests in the surf but luckily my glad bag kept my camera dry.

We hoped to watch them sail off today but for some reason they were delayed and our stomachs called us back home for lunch.


P1170123.JPG Naval Flag Dinghy returning to Young Endeavor
Then as I was finishing this entry and enjoying a cuppa, they came sailing through Murray Pass. Tim hailed them on the radio to say goodbye and I ran up Barn Hill to catch some photos. They poked around Erith a bit and headed on to Wilson’s Promontory in Victoria.
Now we’re thinking of sailing on Tall Ships as our next adventure. Tim as mate and me as cook. We looked up a few in Maine and they all use wood fired stoves in the kitchen and are all looking for cooks. What does that tell you?

My lettuce is listing to the left

We are having a run of windy weather for a change, right when my seedlings are beginning to raise their little heads above the dirt. I spent the afternoon putting protection around them because gale winds are expected until Friday. I had to prop up the corn once again because the plants were leaning to leeward. Somehow the peas’ tendrils held on. I encountered my first whip snake since we have been here in the garden. No lives were lost in videotaping it but it wasn’t as timid as I had expected. Nonetheless, it left and I escaped unharmed.

P1100122.JPG The lighthouse obscured by clouds.

Here are links to my latest film adventures:

The Garden Gale and white lipped snake encounter

The gurgle of beer brewing; and

Birds taking a bath

Ok, so perhaps I need a new hobby.

I’m still spinning and knitting. I’m almost done with my second sock and am spinning tasmanian mohair with organic merino wool. Very nice.

Above the lighthouse

The Deal island Lighthouse doesn’t actually sit on the highest point on the island but it’s close. The lighthouse is officially at 305 meters and is 12.5 meters high. We climbed to the peak just next to it, which is higher but wasn’t a good site for the lighthouse because it’s only dirt and rocks. There’s more granite at the lighthouse site and it’s not as close to the edge of the cliffs.

Looking down at the lighthouse Survey marker at the island's high point, Deal Island
Survey marker at the high point

It was hot and calm and we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the lighthouse. The wind came back with a vengeance today but we still had visitors. A lovely family of four on a trimaran, Mustang Sally.

Tim keeps trying to lure me to the edge of very high cliffs. Should I worry?

Should I worry?

View from 1000 feet to the rocks and surf below. There’s not enough perspective to really see how high we were.Should I worry? copy
But the views of Barn Hill, Dover and Erith islands were spectacular.
Barn Hill, Dover and Erith Islands, Kent Group