Time

Sausi’s only six months old and she’s already become somewhat of a problem drinker. First she guzzles the beer, then she lies around completely oblivious to what needs to be done around here. She has destroyed a six pack and that’s all that matters to her.

I feel like that, too. I sit around making lists of what I have to do, but I don’t get the list done. But I think of other projects to start. Or at least to add to the list. And with a puppy in our lives I’ve noticed I don’t get to as much as I’d like even more. Is it the puppy’s fault? Of course it is.

Really?

Yes.

That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.I

A friend I met at the Shelter Institute Post and Beam course a number of years ago stopped by to help and we worked a couple of hours and finished up a joint. Here’s Dave cleaning up the tenon.

Looking pretty good.

That was two weeks ago. My life is disappearing!!!!! Giant blocks of time go by like that. Snap your fingers if you can. Like that. I haven’t even fitted the brace yet!!!

Other projects we’re not making progress on. The building on the Cape. We were down last to cut some trees- I hired a company to do it. And they did it quickly. Machines and men all over the place. Fast. Trees down, gone by one o’clock.

But we had a set back on our septic permit. Since we have down sized the house- lumber prices are up and our ideas have radically changed over the past few years. The footprint of the house drawn on the septic/plot plan is not what we are building. I have a friend who could redraw it- I could redraw it. The septic pipe can be in exactly the same place, but no, they want a new plan. The fellow who drew it five years ago is retired. We had to hire a new firm. Darn. Time gone again. They are busy and will get to it when they can. It looks like no excavation this fall.

Lillian Road was a fabulous sand road from our past, nearby to our lot. Memories? Of course. Check out the new road sign. Wow. It use to be a black letters on a board nailed to the post. Improvements. We looks forward to so much on the Cape.

More dinners with my brother Joe and his wife Phyllis like this one up in Wellfleet? Right on the harbor. Watching the sun descend over the bay. Oh my god it was fun.

Wellfleet Harbor is just so beautiful. Edward Hopper thought so, too. I can’t wait to paddle it at sunset like this guy.

I can’t wait to have our catboat here like this one.

Ours is an even better looking boat and it’s already got the right port of call on it.

I can’t wait for more walks along the spectacular ocean side.

Yeah, a lot to look forward to.

We’re just a little hung up.

And the big news of course, is

Yep, we’re off to California for a wedding. We’re so pleased and proud. We absolutely love Iris. Iris’s grandmother did the original painting from which they took this image. Absolutely gorgeous. We have met and spent time with her parents and really like them as well. We met them pre covid. It’s just shy of two years ago and so much has happened since then. Saben and Iris bought a house in San Francisco. Suzy and I sold our house in Storrs and moved to Maine. They bought a piece of land to build on in Sausalito- that’s why we named our puppy Sausi- and it has been far far far too long since we’ve seen them. So we’ve not going to fly out for week for the wedding. We’re taking our van out, so we can take the puppy and visit for a while. Wedding, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Our friends Guy and Kathy just got a van so we’ll be traveling with them. they’ve suggested Hawaii, Mexico, Vancouver. My mind reels. Can we take Sausi to Hawaii? Do we want to fly with covid?

We’re tricking out our van: new wheels- the old ones were pretty rusty looking- and new Michelins. We had the body work done- no more rust!!!! We’ve brought it to be checked out mechanically. Only 144 thou on it, and it’s a diesel. Should be good for 300 more, right? We’ll be cleaning it up. Waxing it? Packing for a long voyage. Boats to pull put of the water here, then cover. Lobster traps to take in, garden to put to bed, wood to stack for when we return- it will still be cold here since spring comes about June up here. so we’ve got stuff to do. Back to that old time thing. Will we make it? We’ll make it.

I’ve got to figure out how to work on my blog on my laptop because I really want to blog as we go. Won’t that be fun? You can come along without leaving your comfortable home. O.K. time’s up.

Vinalhaven

It was magic. We took the ferry out from Rockland, wisps of mist, fog rolling in and out revealing islands and sunshine sneaking through. And it hits me pretty hard even though we are used to sunsets like this one in Owls Head.

Is it the fog that makes it so mysterious?

I’d done a bit of research- I love finding out about things these days- and it turned out to be cheaper to take your car out the Vinalhaven than to park it on the mainland if you are going for a few days, and it is certainly more convenient- not having to lug all your luggage out of your car, onto the ferry, off the ferry, into a waiting car. Am I that lazy? I have become aware of the effort it takes to move stuff. A little sciatic pain in one leg and a wiggy ankle. Argggh!!! Oh no. Is this old age creeping in? No, it’s a hurt leg and ankle.

Anyway off we went to Vinalhaven with our car and the trip out was just fantastic. And Vinalhaven itself is pretty magic. You get off at the ferry terminal and it feels just so cozy- pretty small and folks seem quite friendly. I guess it wouldn’t make much sense to have grumpy employees in tourist area. Steve met us at the terminal, good thing because I would not quite have remembered how to get to their cottage although being lost on Vinalhaven is not that bad a thing. I love exploring. Even though we seem to live in a pretty cool place- Owls Head is a nice seacoast town in Maine with a general store within three hundred yards and we have friends here, and boats in the harbor, it is still nice to get away to a new place. Break in the routine? I guess. Plus we were going to visit our friends Steve and MaryEllen and they just got a puppy, too, so our puppies would play together.

It took a while for them to get reacquainted when Steve and MaryEllen stopped over at our Owls Head place, but they did become fantastic playmates again. So then that gives us more time to socialize, right. Puppies play, puppies get tired, people can cook and talk without chasing puppies. Nice.

The cabin Steve and MaryEllen rent is right on the water with spectacular rock to walk on, and the there is a deck and a whole wall of windows facing this spectacle. It is glorious! Their daughter Kelly was up for a week so we got to visit with her. Kelly’s husband Will is in the process of defending his doctoral dissertation and opted out of a little time off. The pressure put on Ph D candidates is enormous. We felt none of it. We lounged around, talked, took the kayaks out, went our for ice cream. Vacation. The talk is the good part. And we played music one night, too. Suzy plays her guitar and sings, Steve is a good guitar player and singer, I goof around on the fiddle and sing, Kelly had a ukulele and sang. It was a lot of fun. MaryEllen disappeared for much of it to take a long shower and read. I’m not sure what that says about the quality of our performance. The dogs did not seem to mind and we certainly had a high time. The dogs may have been asleep due to all the fun they’d had in the day.

The visual impact of a visit to Vinalhaven cannot be overstated. It is stunning. Dotted with islands, smelling of the sea, placid at times. A rare treat.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have your Friendship sloop docked right in front of this yellow house?

We kayaked around a good bit in this stuff. My.

We went over to the other side of the island to visit a cottage they used to rent over there and to see a friend of theirs who also had a young pup, a lab. Visiting, talking, driving around looking at things. I like it. Here’ most of the crew in the yard.

Here’s the cottage. Note the dock. I really wanted to get out there by sailing our catboat, but I couldn’t get it launched in time. Then it turns out that once launched it leaked like a sieve for quite a while so it wouldn’t have worked anyway. Next year. Gratuitous boat picture.

We had an awesome time. I remembered so fondly sleeping on the shelves under the windows with the sea right outside making its lovely sounds and smells. The shelves have grown smaller over the years. We no longer fit so comfortably, but it is just wonderful to wake up in such a place with such good friends and our dogs all so happy- usually- and to see Kelly and to eat and talk and enjoy some good company for a few days. Very special.

We arrived home and had agreed to meet up with a former student Jake who had been up to visit earlier in the year and had returned with his father and friends and family to spend a half a week on a schooner. We got invited aboard and of course my camera died before I got aboard. Sausi was asked to stay on the dock although she got to go aboard when we rowed out to meet them in Owls Head Bay a few days later. Another post perhaps.

Sunday Sunday

We awoke this morning to the whimper of a puppy. Just like every other morning, but now, Sausi is waiting until a more reasonable hour. Today a little before 7:00, and we get up and she is not wild to bite everything so we get to spend some time together on our porch. She’s four months old now, and really turning into a dog. Puppies are pretty hard. We spent a little time before porch time doing our business, touring the yard, picking Japanese beetles off our fruit trees- they love the cherry tree- and inspecting our garden which is so satisfying this year. I have never before had a garden where we stuck around for it. We’d start one in Storrs, but left for the summer. Now we’re here and I work in it daily. I enjoy it. I think. It offers me insights. It’s calming. It’s not overwhelming. And yesterday we made a lasagna and I raided the garden: zucchini, broccoli, sage, thyme to throw in. It is wonderful fun.

When we ate the lasagna I raided the garden for the salad: beet greens, lettuce, basil with lemon and olive oil and Brazil nuts. And good bread.

This morning it is raining. A good hard rain and it is a delight to sit on the porch. It is a delight to sit on the porch any morning actually. Yesterday Kathryn our garden partner came over. She’d heard from Beth who walks her dog Fenn here that I was out in the garden and she came over. She joined Suzy and me on the porch for a little talk. A monarch butterfly stopped by on our lilies. You can just see him here if you look carefully at that right hand lily. He flew off before I could get the award winning shot.

Sausi leaps off our porch over these lilies She’s 32 pounds and really growing. If is amazing to think that two months ago she couldn’t climb stairs. Now she flies off the porch knocking lily buds all over the place and then chases Fenn and has a chance to catch him if she takes a short cut.

We’re off to Vinalhaven tomorrow to spend some time with Steve and Mary Ellen and their daughter Kelly. They spent a night with us on their way out. Their Shelty pup, Gillie, and Sausi had a big time once we humans got out of the way. Suzy and I had a great time with Steve and Mary Ellen, too- dinner and talk is a lot of fun.

We hope for more of that. I wanted to sail out but it is not to be. I cannot get the bilge pump to work on our cat boat.

So we’ll take the ferry out. We’re looking forward to that.

We had a nice dinner over at a neighbor’s house last week: Marti, Jaime, Sylvia from Columbia- off to teach in Africa, and Scott just back from the Peace Corps in Africa. Marti asked me to bring a salad from our garden. Jamie made a great shepherd’s pie. Brie and bread. Wine and beer. Very nice. I am amazed at the lives some people live.

I want to mention one more food item. Lobster.

Of course. It’s Maine. I caught these myself. I have a non commercial license and so can haul five traps. I do it in my dory and I do it by hand. And FJ set me up with me four foot traps. They’re heavy. The other day I hauled in a northeast breeze. The swell was sneaking in right to where my traps were so the waves were pretty big,

and the wind blew me away every time I lifted a trap off the bottom and I had to row back to set them again. It took me two hours to haul three traps. Between the wind and the waves and the four foot traps I was about worn out. That doesn’t bother me, but the next day my back bunched up so bad I couldn’t walk. Whoa. I am not the steely eyed lobsterman I thought I was.

So I’m rigging up our new skiff with a better hauler and that boat has a motor. Without the rowing I should be ok with the hauling.

Especially with the davit I’m rigging up to get that trap right out of the water.

In the Early Morning Rain

This is not a spectacular photograph. It’s subtle. It needs explanation. Like life you sometimes can’t quite see it, feel it. Early morning rain, after a long spell of none. Sounds wonderful at night. Usually getting up is harder on a foggy, rainy morning, but with a puppy, 4:59 is just perfect. I did talk her in to staying in her crate until 5:30, then we got up to tour the yard and do our business. We eat our doggie biscuits. Oh are we eager for food. We play a little trying to buy some more sleep time for Suzy. By six fifteen we are making tea for Suzy while she finishes dressing. We’re off. We drive in the van. It is respite from the constant puppy biting and chewing. She was active this morning. Underwear from the laundry, socks from upstairs, her squeaky flying squirrel that Jaime gave her, hats, plastic milk jugs, cardboard out of the trash, a slipper we donated, shoes to take away from her, so driving in the van to a beach is bliss. We prolong the drive as Sausi has settled. There are some fishermen down at the wharf. “Mornin’, Paul.”

“Morning, Mike.”

We watch the fog on the water down at Holiday Beach and decide to head to for the Lighthouse Beach for the morning walk. Fog drips off the spruce as we walk down the path to the beach. The smells are wonderful in the fog, in the wet of last night’s rain. Cinnamon? Sort of, from the rock-weed and kelp. It is intoxicating. Gulls drift out of the fog and land on the quiet water. A foghorn goes- not the lighthouse, that is now operated by radio request- just a good sized boat going by. Every minute for the short time it takes to pass out or hearing. We never see it. An air of mystery? Yes, very much so. Sausi gets frisky after a while: scampering, bouncing, climbing, running along the trail at the cliff top, going on a tear through the rock-weed, then rolling in it, turning it over with her nose. If I am enjoying all the smells imagine what she is doing with her more sensitive nose.

Suzy is gathering pebbles “for the barbecue” and climbing herself.

We spend an hour and change. We don’t walk far. It’s not a lot of exercise, but it is wonderful. I have breathed. We have inhaled fog and sea and aromas you don’t get every day.

Driving back home- a mile away- we stop by a field of lupine.

They are gorgeous and I am driving away at about three miles an hour. Yes it would be lovely to be walking. Walking speed is a wonderful speed to see the world. Walking, rowing, sailing all have that in common. You can take it all in at that speed, or darn close to all. I look up form the lupine and on the other side of the road is afield, freshly mown, and beyond the field is the sea, with all the lobster boats barely visible in the fog.

That’s that photo. I wanted you to smell as I did. To feel the moisture. To be glad after a dry spell to be getting some of this beautiful water.

We came back into town. I stopped to order two bacon egg and cheddar cheese English muffin sandwiches form the store. Brenda from Georgia is working this morning. We chat. I order the biscuits. I go the the post office an fun into Dave in his Caprice wagon nineteen feet long. I’d just been thinking of him and how lucky we are to live in such a small town. I mention this to him. Yes. We chat. We go to the post office. A fellow who’d been in the general store follows m\e in. We chat. I get the mail. We go back to pick up our breakfast. I say hi to Deb in the back and mention that I’m an early bird now, with the puppy, but whenever I drive by the store, she’s already working. And they want to open earlier, to get the fishing trade. Can they find the help? Deb asks about our toher dog Hobbes, who used to come down for breakfast she says. He did? Hobbes, you little rascal. Brenda says she grew up with Aussies. They want to meet Sausi. Patrick comes in and urges- “Bring her in.” Deb and I go to the van and I bring Sausi over and show her off.

We drive home, two hundred yards from the store, and stop the van. I look at our new dory skiff with the interior motor well that we just picked up yesterday.

It’s not actually new; it’s twenty years old. I was building this same model- mine stretched to nineteen feet ten inches- when we moved. I still have the parts, but I have to finish the barn before I can build the boat. I saw this one in Uncle Henry’s for about what it will cost me to build mine. And it had a trailer and an old 25 horse Johnson outboard. I kind of just wanted to see it, but once we were there, and it was in such good shape and so well built and such nice paint and Suzy liked it and I had just started lobstering and it would make life easier there and it sort of followed us home. Jean, who built it, also builds race cars, and built the lobster racing boat Cry Baby, was really interesting and how could I resist. When we got there yesterday he had bad news about the engine. It does run and pumps water, but there is some water getting into the oil. Some seal or other has let go. He asked if I were still interested if he knocked off another hundred bucks. I was.

When we’d signed papers and exchanged cash and hooked up the trailer to our truck he asked me if I was a teetotaler. I was perplexed. I admitted I was not. “Are you in any way employed by the court system?” I’d seen his pro Trump stuff in the barn. I wondered if something were about to happen. I admitted I was not employed by the court. I’d been a teacher. “Well come here, I’ve got something for you.” He handed me a bottle of moonshine. “The first shot is a little rough, but that second one is downright pleasant. If you make it to a third, it’s awful smooth.”

Pretty nice.

I just want to throw in a little bit about lobstering up here. I got my traps set this weekend past. F.J.’s letting me buy bait off him- with only five traps it’s silly to try to deal with the wharf. I’ve got my traps all baited and stacked in the dory.

That was quite a load and it was windy. Precarious comes to mind. When I finally got the first one over I was pretty relieved. So you can see I really need that skiff. Because I couldn’t possibly fish out of the cat boat.

It was really a wonderful morning. Suzy and I ate our egg and bacon sandwiches by the kitchen table, and it started to rain. The puppy is tearing up everything she can for a while, and then she’ll settle down for a nap and I get to write a bit. Life seems pretty sweet.

Blisters on my Fingers

We seem busy. The puppy certainly has added a lot to our lives. And I have gone back to getting up at the drop of a hat- she whimpers and I am up. Out of the crate, down the stairs and outside to pee. That extremely small bladder stage is now passing. She can go to sleep in the evening on the living room floor and make it till five. I’m starting to get her to stay in her crate later. Today until 5:45. So that zombie feeling of not getting enough sleep is starting to ease. We do a round of the yard, inspecting our fruit trees: peaches are the size of marbles, no cherries, one apple on one tree and a dozen on the other. I will gradually pull off most of the apples and peaches to let the trees get established this first year. Gardens and puppies and children. I just read something about Simone Biles, a super gymnast, where someone thanked a coach she’d had as a young gymnast for helping Simone to develop into a superior talent. Without loving parents and coaches, you don’t get as far as you could. That’s true of us all. And our world is infected people who are deprived of love, attention starved, with potential undeveloped all over the place who grow to be perfectly willing to let others suffer the same fate. Donald Trump. Unloved. Starving for any attention he can get. What would have happened if he had had better parents?

Who am I to say such things? Just a parent. Just a teacher. Nobody special. But I know that young things prosper when handled well. When allowed to grow wild, it doesn’t work out quite so well.

So here I am trying to juggle caring for Suzy and the puppy and the garden and getting my lobster traps ready and finishing up the catboat for a launch next week and letting the barn go unbuilt and planning to build on the Cape wondering if I am crazy, or foolish, or starved for attention myself.

That’s Sausi out on Sheep Island from when Jacob Reilly came up for a visit.

Jacob and Suzy as we prepare to depart Sheep Island.

Sausi on some old hay. With help like this can we fail to have a wonderful garden?

Sausi the Aussie

Oh she’s pretty adorable no doubt about it. I haven’t written in a while becasue she’s so adorable. She starts being adorable at some pretty interesting times. 3 a.m. , the first night, missing her familiar digs, no doubt. The next night we made it till 4 a.m., then 4;45 a.m., 5 a.m. and the last couple of mornings she has made it to 6:08 a.m. I’ll take it! One of the things I wanted to learn from our little puppy was to get up early again. When I first retired I found I could not sleep later than I’d been used to when I was working and after all those years of dragging myself out of bed in the dark and rushing out of the house to go to work I really wanted to sleep in. Well I finally got used to it, and now I want to get back to being an early riser. What better things to train yourself than a new puppy. Sausi the Puppy is up for the task. I wake up at the slightest whimper- we keep her crated next to our bed and you really want to take care of little things. They’re so little and cute and soft. They smell like puppies. I bounce out of bed and get dressed and then open the crate door and pick her up squirming and licking and just delighted to see me. We head down stairs. I keep her in one hand down the stairs, then cuddle her as we head out. Once we’re in the yard I put her down and say, “Pee, Sausi” and she pees. And I praise her and we start our tour of the yard. We have about a two acre field which I’m filling up with stuff, so we take the tour. She is starting to poop in the woods off to the left as we walk along toward the shipping container corner. And she’ll pee again a time or two. We walk around the back where I have a couple of boats, a boat trailer, a few piles of lumber, stuff from our barn in Connecticut that I couldn’t fit in the shipping container, my little outdoor dojo. If it’s dry I will sit on my weight bench and let her explore while I just take in the morning. We planted some fruit trees last week, Sausi and I, so we look at those.

I look at the deck for the barn I am starting. I look at the dory I’m about done with, and the dingy, and the catboat I have to start on. It looks good to me.

Sausi explores. She chews. I like it outside because she can chew about anything. In the house you can chase her. No, not the couch. No not my toes. No not the table cloth. I hate to tell her no because she doesn’t understand yet. I’m trying to be kind all the time and when she attacks your feet it is hard. I pick her up and say, “Did you temporarily forget that we don’t attack our daddy?” I put her down and try to distract her with a rope or a rag or a ball. I will pick her up four or five times sometimes. I feel like a character in a Randall Jared story I read a long time ago about a man newly hired on as foreman of a ranch and the crew is giving him an awful hard time and he just keep being gentle, but strong and eventually wears them all down to where they respect him, and he hadn’t had to be a bastard. I often wonder what would happen if we were all more gentle, but strong. Can the world work without violence? Walk softly but carry a big stick? I did swat Sausi one afternoon. I was really tired from having been up extra early and I was working on a baot ans Suzy just kept yelling. “No.” Sauzi, no!” so many times I couldn’t take it. I walked over and yelled “Sausi!” and swatted her little fanny. She retreated instantly to her little safe spot in the lawn under the newer bathtub we intend to install one of these day and curled up. I worried for an hour over whether I’d ruined our pup. When I finished painting I went over to cuddle and talk. She licked me and was happy. I think about how many abused women, and men, too, there are in the world who get hit and then cuddled. It gets confusing. Love and violence?, Conditional love. Love with yelling? I don’t want that. I want to try kindness.

I hit our son once. He was just a little kid- two maybe and was being a pisser. We put him on the stair for a time out and he didn’t stop. I was tired, of course. Parenting isn’t easy. If you could get enough sleep it still wouldn’t be easy, but you never get enough sleep when they’re little. I said to him, “Do I have to get firm with you?” You know, the big man threatening a kid who weighs about ten percent of what I did.

He said, and I give him credit for this, “Yes.”

So I swatted his fanny. One quick shot. On the diaper. But it startled the hell out of him. He sat in his time out nicely after that. I was about sick over it. I swore I would never hit him again. And I haven’t, except one day when he was getting his green belt in Kung Fu and I already had my green belt at Tae Kwan Do and we were sparring. We each got in a hit or two. He got me good in the shoulder or neck or something and asked if I was alright. I was. I was also impressed. Kindness and gentleness are important strengths. We have damn few examples of that going around these days.

We’ll try to do right by our puppy. Little Sausi, the sassy Aussie from Sausalito.

Sailing, Sailing, over the Bounding Main

We got up early and were out on the water a little after seven. We arrived in our dinghy to see this ship; Mike was getting set to leave. The breeze was good-out of the northwest. Perfect for a run down to Friendship. The day was bright. We got aboard, made our dinghy fast to the mooring to wait for us when we got back, got settled. Mike had the wood stove going and heated up some scones. He’d slept aboard and it had been cold that night, but the stove makes the cabin cozy. Kind of nice to have a toasted scone on board.

We let go the mooring in pretty short order, without starting the engine and headed down channel. Mike let me have the helm while he fiddled and adjusted. I was not completely comfortable with the helm. New boat, bigger than ours, different rig and It’s a wheel; I’m used to a tiller and get confused- I pull when I should push. But I was thrilled to be on the schooner and didn’t sink us. Here’s Suzy loving it as we zip along still in Owls Head off Ash Island. Note the parka. Cold morning.

We were going right along and got a little offshore pretty quickly. The breeze was strong. It was predicted to be ten miles an hour with gusts into the twenties and temperatures in the mid sixties. After a couple of hours, all of us wet, we laughed about the prediction. Not mid sixties yet, and the wind was strong. Once we got off shore a little it was a good 15 knots with gusts into the 30’s with some four and five foot waves.

This schooner weighs nine tons and we were moving quite a lot. And quite quickly. We’d left with a reef in the main. At one point, we had the main and the foresail and the staysail, up, I think we’d already doused the jib, and I had wheel when we took a gust and I held the boat, thinking the gust wouldn’t last. The rail went down, water rushed down that lee deck and Mike, stretched out on that low rail, got soaked. He came up in a hurry and he took the wheel from me to came up into the wind. Not that we were in danger, he explained, but it’s early in the season. Pretty cold to be soaked. We dropped the main after that.

The dinghy was having a great time. I had some pretty cool video I was going to put in here, but WordPress won’t let me. Too bad. He has a Shellback dinghy which behaved so nicely all day as to be amazing. It didn’t have cupful of water in it after six hours of sailing, some of which was pretty boisterous.

You can see it streaming in back of Mike just as mild mannered as a deacon. So along we went. We made great time. We had to fire up the engine at one point. The wind had a little more west in it than the north we needed, and with the confused seas and strength of breeze we just would have slogged around for a lot longer trying to make our way a little higher into the wind without that additional boost from the Yanmar.

It was really pleasant day. We made it to Friendship before two. We’d been out in bumps and confusion and cold and it felt really good to get into the islands out of the chop and feel the warmth of the sun. At one point we were storming along on a beam reach between two islands, smooth seas, and just humming at close to 6 knots. We hit 6.8 knots at one point at which speed I figure the engine might actually be holding us back. I didn’t catch the 6.8, but I got this.

After a tremendously pleasant hour or two inside with smooth sailing and sunshine we picked up Mike’s mooring in Hatchet Cove and ate lunch on the boat- we’d brought some sandwiches. Life is good.

I lost a hat. I thought I looked a little like Doc in Back to the Future. “Marty, whatever you do, don’t set the controls for 2020.”

We rowed ashore and that was that. Back at Mike’s. You can just see the schooner out there. Then back to Owls Head. We’d cleverly worked out to have my truck down there so we all didn’t have to swim home.2021 is off to a good start.

Launched

A boat launch is often a very wonderful thing. Boats are great to look at when they are on land because you can see so much more of them, like a tree in winter- the structure is more revealed and that’s fascinating. But a boat is meant to be in the water. It becomes instantly more alive, free, responsive, ready. It’s exciting to watch. Something that is cumbersome on land and has to be moved about by an incredible piece of machinery. The modern hydraulic lift boat trailer pioneered by Brownell is an astounding piece of work. You can store a boat anywhere now. This truck with trailer backs under your boat, removing the stands that support it as you back under until the hydraulic arms have the boat steady. The trailer goes up and down, too, and has steel beams that slide out which will support the keel and take much of the weight of the boat. The first time I saw it happen I was astounded. The skill of the driver is wonderful to behold, and the way the trailer works still blows my mind.

Then you see that boat, this one with its masts still up, cruising along land is also kind of interesting.

This one went only a short way to the ramp, but you’ll see big boats roaring down the road at sixty miles an hour. You can store your boat a hundred miles away from the water. If you’ve got room in your yard it is often cheaper to transport your boat home than leaving it at a boat yard and paying their monthly or annual fee.

Then it’s backed in; the trailer separates from the truck

And in she goes!

The transformation is wonderful. Nine tons now floating as free as a gull. You can push it your self. These two guys, Mike and Joe, can walk the boat back to where they want it with ease. Water. A change in element. This boat belongs there.

It starts to make you smile.

I’n not the only one who likes this kind of stuff. This little girl lives nearby and had to come down to watch. Is that cool or what?

We motored over to a nearby dock at Sharpe’s where the Ellen C. Wells had spent her winter to do a little work before we took off for Owls Head. Mike went aloft to change out a broken block.

Suzy and I just watched while he rigged and went up.

Mike had sprinkled sawdust under the boat right off when we arrived so it could float in to where there were leaks and help slow down the incursion of water. Wooden boats have to take up a bit before they are tight. Soaking them ahead helps. I put our catboat in early last year and paid heavily for it. I soaked the engine with salt water and needed to replace a few things. Alternators and starters don’t like to be soaked with salt water. Ellen C was much better behaved. She hardly bled at all. We had the two bilge pump aboard her, and one back up just in case. Mike was ready.

After the block was replaced we were ready. Off to Owls Head. Mike let me take the helm so he could putter. Nice duty. I could get very used to this.

We made it over to Owls Head harbor and picked up our mooring where she’ll sit for a couple of days.

It adds a certain something to the harbor. Next stop: Friendship.

Schooners, Tractors, Puppies and Barns

Spring is really happening. Last night we sat in our garden drinking a couple of beers, freezing to death because the sun was going down and the temperature which seemed so pleasant all day plummets. The peepers were going and the whole scene seems so peaceful. I’d been sanding my dory and that’s exciting. We’ve used it a number of times, but it is time to pretty her up and launch her properly, get her on the mooring and get a dinghy over at the new town float, so we can row out to her instead of launching it off the trailer each time. I’ll be fishing out of it this summer- five lobster traps. I can get a non commercial license now that we are residents and I’m eager. FJ has picked out five traps to give to me, they’re a little tired for his use- he makes his living at it and likes to fish them newer, but for me, they will be great. I’ve got to rig up a way to haul them. Our son Saben heard F.J was going to give me some four footers and he said, “Aren’t you going to be hauling by hand, Dad? You might want to stick to the three footers.” F. J and I had a laugh about that, because, of course, he’s right. I’ll have to rig up a roller so I can haul more back into the boat, instead of hanging over the side. I’m thinking about how to do that, now- a roller and shelf to put the trap on, so I can work without bending over so much.

Yesterday we took off on errands- I wanted to get down to Shelter Institute to see about getting a set of plans. I’ve got one set because I took their course, but I can’t find them now in our stored stuff. Moving. I need to get the dimensions for the braces, and their mortises so I can start cutting the beams for the barn. I moved the first one up onto the finished deck.

They’re heavy. I can’t even pick up one end. I set up a ramp and got out a come along. With Suzy and a jack and a bunch of blocks and setting up places to haul from we did get it up on horses. It took a while. Next one will go a little faster.

I grabbed a couple of the posts. I have most of the posts already cut. Tim Blais helped me lay those out and got me started a while ago.

That’s the barn, and there is a lot of work ahead there. I started it in January, naively thinking I would be done with the frame by about now. Right. Now other things are demanding my attention. The garden.

I started to till with my Troybilt but the turf is too tough. I got Terry to come out with his John Deere 870. It was tough for his tiller too, but I can manage from here.

I’d bought some compost and I got a load of manure. We picked up the manure on Suzy’s birthday. We’ve been having a bit of fun with that: I give Suzy a load of shit.

We met the animals that produced the manure.

They live on 300 acres up in Hope which used to be called Barrettville. This is the Barrett Homestead Farm. We bought some beef, too, and ordered a quarter of a beef for next fall. We had some pot roast last night. Just this side of heaven.

So of course when we go out on errands I have to stop to see my latest obsession, The Ellen C Wells, a 34 foot William Garden Schooner that wintered here in Rockland at Capt. Jim Sharp’s

I keep stopping by because I want to meet the owner. This boat has a web presence: a facebook page, a bunch of images, a twelve minute you tube video. Here’s a link to get you started.

https://www.facebook.com/Ellen-C-Wells-279588232449451/about/

It’s mentioned in Wooden Boat magazine, and the owner, Mike Erkkinen, runs a week long course in August where you can go out a sail with him for a week. This is rock star stuff for me. I wanted to meet him.

Well no one was on the boat. I’ve stopped by a half dozen times hoping. Suzy suggested I stop in the office to ask. She’s good like that. So I do, and talk with the secretary who is nice. “Yes, Mike is around, wearing a blue shirt I think. Ask Captain Jim. Have you seen him?”

I had. He gets around on a golf cart now. He’s getting up in age, but the fire burns bright in Capt Jim. He’s adding a huge building on to his Sail,Power and Steam Museum. Another link for you.

https://www.sailpowersteammuseum.org/index.html

So Suzy and I go out to the wharf where Capt Jim is and I say hi and ask him if he knows if the owner of that gorgeous schooner is around and he smiles and says he is. He points. He’s down on the float, with another man and they are handling a long ramp. I ask if they want a hand and they do. So I spend the next hour getting the ramp up with Capt Jim’s decrepit old come along. I’m going to make a donation to the Sail Power and Steam Museum of a decent come along. I’ve got an extra. And when we’re done Mike invites Suzy and me to come aboard his schooner to check it out. How cool is that? We go and this boat is awesome. It turns out Mike is an architect, and a timber framer as well as a schooner captain. Pretty impressive. And he’s owned an H 28, and a Concordia yawl. It is astounding to meet people like this. Life is good. If you like sailing, you just have to love schooners and Mike’s is pretty. And traditional. 1400 feet of running rigging. Belaying pins! That’s the way to make a halyard fast.

And a Charlie Noble for the woodstove.

Check out that wheel.

And the binnacle.

And bronze ports that open and octagonal masts; just everywhere you turn is amazing.

O.K. I got carried away. Sorry.

I realize that modern sailing yachts are also very desirable and appeal to many, like this ninety footer up at Lyman Morse in Camden

But you need multiple gazillion dollars for stuff like that. My tastes run much more to traditional boats. And of course you can drop money on them, too if you want. Katy is a favorite of ours. A gorgeous Murray Peterson design that we actually bid on a few years ago. We got outbid. It didn’t look like this when we bid on her.

One of the sheds at Artisan Marine. They have more beautiful boats than you can conceive of. Really. It just never stops. They do beautiful work, both maintaining and building boats.

And Rockport Marine is another place where you can find stunning boats being worked on and built.

I would love to have this little lobster boat.

Look at this converted sardine carrier, William Underwood. Built in 1941 to haul bait. Now a cruiser. All these boats have a sense of tradition that I love.

Sandpiper is an old model, newly built- well relatively newly built, now being painted up for this year’s sailing.

A nice little fifty footer ready to be rigged.

A friend’s lobster boat. Chris was going to launch last week, but had a hatch problem.

These things are gorgeous.

Sorry. I got a little carried away again. We are in boat country and I love it.

And our own boats exist. Here’s Suzanne, a 28 foot 1961 Rhodes design. In glass.

So am I completely insane? No I don’t think so.

Did I mention that we’re going to get a puppy?

Building Progress

I remember being crushed when I advanced to a certain grade and someone said there weren’t going to be any more pictures in our books. Chapter books. No pictures. That was a cruel way to put it, forcing me out of childhood to the adult world of chapter books. There are pictures in chapter book,s too, just created with words. I am now an avid reader, but I had a bumpy patch there for a couple of decades trying to adjust to no pictures.

Well I still like pictures. Look at this one.

I remember sitting in Mr. Mingrone’s American lit class at E. O Smith High School where I taught for 14 years. It was my free period and he taught in what I thought of as my room, so I’d sit there and work and listen. It was the best American Lit class I ever sat through and as an English major I had sat through a few. Tony was a fantastic teacher. It made me feel pretty humble, I’ll tell you that. There were some awfully good teachers at that school and I am pleased and proud to have been a part of it. Mr. Mingrone would show slides of early American landscapes by Remington and others and explain how before the advent of television and movies people would flock to museums where these paintings were being displayed, pay admission, and stand there for quite a while watching these grand landscape painting. They were epic, and worth the study.

That’s how I feel about the scenery around here. Epic. It makes getting up early to go row well worth it. That second shot is just the boat launch here in Owls Head. It’s a two minute drive from the village center, which is at the end of our 500 foot driveway. Sometimes I feel like I have to pinch myself.

So I rowed the other morning and it was just epic, visually. Seals and loons and scenery. I was tired from having done a lot lately and from getting up early after staying up late. There you are. Tired. One of my favorite sayings is Thoreau’s, “Only that day dawns to which we are awake.” Do I feel guilty when I sleep late? Yes I do. But you cannot burn the candle at both ends for long, even if it throws a lovely light. I’m working on getting going earlier, but Suzy and I seem to get to bed pretty late, and then we do our read-aloud for fifteen to sixty minutes, sometimes more if the book is electrifying, then it gets late. Currently we are enjoying Kenneth Roberts’ Rabble in Arms.

And Suzy does not like it when I go out early because she doesn’t know where I am even though I tell her. She’s asleep and doesn’t remember. So she’ll be hurt because she wanted to go and I left her behind and she can be pretty grumpy about it. I think she’ll get used to it. When I’m in better shape we can row again later, but I need my alone time and a row is a wonderful way for that to happen.

So we’re sitting on the porch in the sunshine drinking tea and trying to pretend we’re enjoying life when John and Audrey drive up. These are our new neighbors. John and Barbara bought the land in front of us and we are thrilled. It is a lovely spot, up high and will have a view of the village and probably of the water, too, and their other daughter, Maya, runs the general store and they both help out there and they have been coming to Owls Head forever and Barbara is related to Ann Gustin, and Sully Reed who passed away recently. Local history, family relations, community relations. Owls Head is small to the point where it is still the good old days like that, and we are enjoying it and are thrilled to have John and Barabara as neighbors and it’s not just that Barbara makes fudge. It’s also that they are nice people and have another daughter Audrey, who came over because Audrey loves Suzy and wants to sing and talk with her.

You can see Audrey there with Suzy’s guitar, a pretty nice Martin. Suzy had just sung two very pretty songs, I stick a note or two in on the French horn, and then Audrey says, “Wanna change?” She wants to swap her plastic ukulele for Suzy’s guitar, and Suzy hands over her guitar, and takes Audrey’s. And then the show begins. Audrey loves music and starts instantly to perform. She introduces the next song, and who’s playing what instrument- Suzy on the ukelele and off she goes, singing and strumming guitar with one hand while she pretends to play chords with the other. “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine….” Suzy strums the ukulele and I play the French horn. Before long I am getting credit in the before each song intro as “and Paul is on the French horn.” We must have played eight or ten songs before John suggests that the next one or two be the last one.

Pretty nice way to start the day, a row and some music.

And today we wanted to get going on the garden, so began the search for manure, rototilling services and some plants. So a little work in the garden, and we are going to be sharing some space in the garden with another neighbor- Kathryn, who also sings, and teaches voice, and has a son who is a wizard with a mandolin, and I think probably a few other instruments. We are thrilled to be having a garden partner. Both Suzy and I are eager in the spring, but when we are off to build on the Cape, it will be nice to have someone up here watering. And it looks like Terry will be able to run his tiller off the back of his tractor. I’ve been trying to bust up new sod with the old Troybilt we’ve got and it is tough. Terry got a medium sized John Deere tractor with a three cylinder diesel engine and a four foot tiller that I think will make short work of it.

So we worked in the garden a little, getting ready to till, moving stuff that has accumulated

We made a run for soil enrichment material- we couldn’t find manure yesterday, but hope to still. I can work that in with the Troybilt later after Terry busts up the sod. It’s early for plants I guess.

I was just reading this morning in my notebook/journal where I attempt to keep track of my life, an entry from February 7th saying that I should be done with the deck of the barn by the end of the week. I certainly was optimistic. You can see how we don’t always get to working on the barn, but I am happy to report that the deck, as of the end of this week in April, is done, and looks absolutely awesome. And it’s really fun to do yoga on it. SPACE! We’ll start on the timbers next, and we are also trying to get the permits for the Cape build and have some local architects- more neighbors- working on some drawings for that. I’ll have to write about the new Cape plans- smaller, but still wonderful. Am I being optimistic again?