First you buy a little boat

A takeoff from the title of one of my favorite books, “First you row a little boat”. Well this is my sequence. We sold our sailboat and my plan was to buy a little runabout we could tow from lake to lake in the Adirondacks.

I found a 15 foot 1966 aluminum Starcraft in Lake Placid. The captain and I took it for a spin, the 1971 Mercury motor ran fine, and I bought it.

Then I needed a little truck to tow it. In some ways, we have crossed over to the dark side and a fuel efficient truck would soften the landing. I found a 1997 Ford Ranger, 300 miles away, but the price was right and it had a current inspection.


Since my son lives nearby, I asked him to buy it for me. He saw it, confirmed it ran well, but was a little incredulous it was the truck of my dreams. In fact, he got pulled over within the first ten minutes of driving it.

I took mass transit to the truck, got it registered and took it for its maiden voyage- six hours north to the Adirondacks.

My son and daughter-in-law tracked my trip and I arrived home uneventfully.

Now the captain is off trying to haul the boat home while I visit my daughter in DC. Hopefully the next photo will have them ( boat and trailer, not boat and captain) tethered together in my driveway. 

They both need work but are simple enough it might be fun?

Trail running

I lost my running mojo for a while. I didn’t mind because I also enjoy walking, it just takes longer to cover the same distance. Last week an article in Outside magazine about falling caught my eye because, in my small circle of friends and acquaintances, there were three serious falls last winter, one of which ended in death. It was an especially icy winter at home.

I don’t engage in most of the activities described, but I must walk on ice and enjoy trail running. The article includes the line, “if you trail run, you will fall”. So true. I proved it yesterday. I have fabulous trails I can access from home.

It was a slow motion, in my mind, fall and as I went down, I thought the words, if you run, you will fall. I just stay relaxed and rolled with it. A good philosophy in general. I run with my iPhone to listen to music and in case I fall and can’t get up. Luckily my leg took the brunt of the fall, my hands didn’t even get dirty, my wrists survived, and my iPhone played on.

This was after my most scary episode on the trail so perhaps I was distracted. I must have passed a ruffed grouse nest on my way out. Well on my return trip, the hen was pissed! She came after me, all puffed up, tail feathers spread, hissing, and beak ready to bite. I know she was only a foot tall but she scared the bejeezus out of me. I even let out a yelp, but there I was in the woods with noone to hear me, or did the trees hear me?

Perhaps I should have read this article in the Adirondack Almanac before heading out. It contains this information:

Perhaps the most remarkable display of parental courage for a creature of its size is seen in the hen ruffed grouse. This bird will aggressively confront and challenge any human that happens to come too close to its recently hatched chicks.

Don’t I know it. They call it an unforgettable wildlife experience. I was so ruffled myself I couldn’t even take a photo of the little chicks heading up the slope while she chased me a hundred yards down the path. Every time I stopped, she headed towards me.

Here is a photo from Wikimedia Commons someone else was brave enough to take. It captures the open beak ready to bite while making scary hissing noises.

It might be a while before I take to that trail again.

The little things

We are caught up at home and settled back into civilization. Back to work, banking, shopping and consuming. Hmmm. Memories of Deal Island arrive every day.

There are simple pleasures at home. We have sandy soil and partial sun due to a mountain to our east. Nothing grows very well. This peony limps along but it has at least 3 blooms this year. Pretty pathetic in comparison to some but beautiful nonetheless.

Tim found this little hummingbird trapped in our garage. It spent the night there. He nudged it outside and I made a batch of nectar. I dripped some into its beak with my finger. I couldn’t even see her swallow. After a while at least she started to look around. I went indoors and watched with my binoculars. It was like watching a newborn take its first steps. I saw her flutter her wings and perch up on the dish of nectar. Some time later she was gone and off with her pals to do hummingbird things. I will never know if it is her at the feeders but will imagine it is.

Strawberries are finally in season and delicious. Both Tim and I brought a quart home. Too many strawberries. So I made a batch of strawberry jam in my instant pot. Good on toast, in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and on vanilla ice cream.

Home sweet home

We have internet! A big change from Deal Island.

After 45 hours of solid travel, we made it home. Our flight off the island was rough. It was windy and the pilot warned me my head might hit the ceiling. It didn’t and Tim managed to get a beautiful parting shot. One of my favorites. It shows the magnitude of the cliffs, the sea and the beautiful lighthouse, now partly painted.

We spent a day on lovely Flinders Island. It really is as beautiful as Deal Island, only with a few more people.

Next stop Launceston, Tasmania, where we visited old haunts: the Cataract Gorge, The Aquatic Center, Museum and the best hamburger joint around (twice). I also had my first flat white not made by me! So pretty.

Then our journey began. We flew to Sydney where we had a nine hour layover. We made good use of our time. We visited my favorite dumpling place and then we toured the Harbor. Never fails to delight.

Then 20 hours of flying…Followed by a six hour drive home. And we made it. After a week, I am beginning to adjust. And home is pretty sweet too.

Ihave hundreds of photos from Deal I was never able to upload. I will gradually get them online, until our next adventure.

Guest blog from the other caretaker


We have now volunteered on five islands for a total of more than two years. Each has been an adventure, sometimes hard work, and endless fun. A new island is on the horizon.
What makes island caretaking so fulfilling? Partly, it’s living in the moment. We sometimes slip out of the present and into the future but it’s a limited time frame since none of our stays has been longer than four months. Mostly, we live day-to-day, focusing on the task at hand, listening to the wind and birds, or marveling at the 360-degree beauty. There are very few outside distractions.
We enjoy greeting visitors and making new friends. Indeed, welcoming those who arrive by boat is one of our most important tasks. But, we enjoy nothing more than the solitude, peace, and meditation of having the islands to ourselves.
Four of “our” islands have lighthouses which guarantee world-class views. The fifth, the one without a lighthouse, was no exception, situated offshore between the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
We are always keyed into weather and listen to the forecast on our VHF radio or download it with our limited internet. Fog (sometimes triggering the fog horn), strong winds (blowing down trees and branches), downpours (creating sand slides), and sunny forecasts become an obsession. As I sit writing this, we await a gale gusting to 60 mph with rain, hail, and thunderstorms over four days. We once weathered a storm lasting more than a week with constant 70 mph winds, gusting to 90. Bad things on land are always worse at sea, however, and, as sailors ourselves, many are the nights we’ve been gratefully tucked into our comfortable caretaker houses.
Caretaking isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t want to do it by myself and Lynne is the perfect companion. We find joy in each other’s company, day after day. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is the key and we try to reach a consensus on most decisions.
Lynne possesses endless reserves of joie de vivre. Her incredibly eclectic choices in reading reflect her approach to life. She enjoys everything from Marcus Aurelius to Isabel Allende, often focusing on books about the area where we are staying. Similarly, she undertakes endless and varied projects and her skills range from imaginative cooking to weaving to wielding a chain saw. In short, Lynne is the best caretaking companion I can imagine. She never gets bored.
We learned the following dictum from some fellow caretakers. Every day we try to accomplish three things: do something for the island, engage in creativity, and exercise. There is always something to do for the island: mowing, clearing trails, small engine maintenance, building simple furniture, hosing off seagull poo, painting, and on and on. I have no problem with the second because I practice two or more hours a day on my electronic keyboard. Number one often takes care of number three but on those days when I can’t kill two birds with one stone, there is always hiking, swimming, or jogging.
We share our islands with more permanent residents. In Alaska, we marvel at whales swimming sixty feet offshore. In Tasmania, wallabies hop all around us, penguins cry and whistle half the night, and dolphins dance in the coves. In Washington, we spy on napping seals and watch forty bald eagles watching us. And, in Maine, we listen to lobster boats grumbling through the thick fog.
We’ve been doing this off and on for ten years and I’d like nothing better than to do it for ten more. That said, we’re looking forward to coming home.

Joint venture

Paper nautilus shells, which are really egg cases, are known to wash up on islands in the Bass Strait. There are several on display in the Deal Island Museum and in the caretakers’ house. I had always hoped I would find one myself.

There is also a lovely children’s book, Argonauta, Octopus Navigator, in the library.
I bought a copy of the book for home in 2015, after grand children arrived. Last year I broke down and BOUGHT a shell on eBay for me.

But after a total of 9 months on this island over the past 8 years, and frequent beach combing, I found one myself, sort of.

Actually, I saw a seagull find one. I thought this weekend had possibilities because there are gale winds and the shells could be swept on to the beach.

I was watching a black backed seagull fish; it dove straight into the surf and came up with something in its beak, which it pecked at and dropped on the sand. It looked odd to me, it wasn’t a fish. I asked the seagull to leave. It obliged and to my delight I it was a paper Nautilus, Knobbed Argonaut or Argonauta nodosus, shell. The seagull had already snacked on some caviar and left me to it.

I rinsed the remaining eggs into the sea and will try to bring it home intact.

Clouds, moon pies and a meteor

There’s never a dull moment in paradise. Sunsets and even a few sunrises take my breath away. Each one is unique and beautiful.

The other night while we watched a downloaded movie indoors, we heard engine sounds outside. At least one helicopter buzzed the residence. I saw them make their return trip the next day, not so close this time.

The next night Tim stepped outside and was amazed to see this meteor fall over the swashway on Erith and Dover Islands.

So I baked cookies, known as moon pies by some, and Oreos by others.