A Visitor

….or Gopherus Polyphemus returns.

Yep, he’s back.  Or, to be more accurate, still here. I’m the one who is back.

At least I think he is a he if my internet-based analysis is correct. He’s pretty old too given his size and the state of his carapace. Aw shucks, I’m just showing off now – that’s his shell I’m talking about.

His shell actually reminds me of a dog I once knew that lived in a garage/car recycling shop. The dog was so covered in grease and grime that we were never really sure of its actual colour – its coat was exactly the same colour as this shell. The tortoise’s face, however, reminds me a little of a woman who used to cut my hair. Not so much feature-wise, just the expression.

You’d probably look a little cranky too if your species was threatened. Or if you had to carry your home on your back. Actually it’s a bit of a myth to say its shell is its home. Gopher turtles dig deep burrows in which they nest. They are known to share their burrows with up to 360 different species. Not all at once I hope. That would really make me cranky.  Now why does he look like he is judging me?

Looks downright prehistoric wouldn’t you say? The species is around 60 million years old after all. He’s not the only thing in my garden that looks prehistoric. Take a look at this ginger plant which is growing by the compost bin. The red rhizome is is about four inches high.


The alligators also look prehistoric but hopefully I’ll never see one up close crossing my front yard. And the palmetto beetles – well – let’s just say they are a little alarming when underfoot so I am not inclined to take friendly photographs of them. You never know what is going to crawl out of the woods down here.

© Judy Parsons 2018

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Another Day, Another Boat 3

In Which I Gain a Transom.

No silly, I haven’t been in Brooklyn all this time. I’m a little behind that’s all. No excuses, I’d just like to take you right back to August and the Wooden Boat School where I left off. It was Tuesday morning and we all installed our transoms. A pretty and practical transom it is: sturdy enough to handle a small outboard engine and it also has handles for handling – eureka! 💡 I never noticed the relationship between hand and handle and handling before . Did you know that hand is to handle as thumb is to thimble? But I digress. I was building a boat. In Maine. With a bunch of other people building the same kind of boat. Actually it more like assembling a boat in many ways but I’ll get into that on another day.

We also added the breasthook. When I say we, I often mean it took several of us to the task. This was one of the benefits of being at the school; many of the tasks took a second, third and even fourth set of qualified hands. In this case they demonstrated on my hull so I got to take pictures. By the way, I am usually pretty conscientious and ask people if they mind me using their photo in my Blog but I neglected to do so at the course. Blame it on all the glue. So sorry folks, if you don’t want your likeness out there in the wide world please email me at the address below and I will take down the photo. Back to the boat…

Flipping Art’s dinghy.

The flipping of the boats was an adventure in itself, especially given that at this point they were still hairy with sharp wires.  The hulls were much sturdier than they look because all of the planks are temporarily spot-glued with cyanoacrylate (pretty much Crazy Glue – crazy, eh?) so there were no traumatic incidents, at least not in our room. Once the boats were flipped we had to crawl in under and snip all of the copper wires wires where they went through the holes. This was not fun. Squatting on a low stool with the neck bent beyond the normal range to look up and find little nubs of wire, all in an enclosed space which still gassed off glue did not do me any good. In fact I got seasick. Yup. There is probably another name for it like vertigo or something yet it is exactly the same feeling as seasickness except worse because you don’t have the promise of being cured once you hit dry land. You are already on dry land. Did I say it wasn’t fun? I did recover with time and was well enough pull the wires.  So many wires. Here’s a close up of the wires. Once snipped from behind you just grabbed the twist with a pair of pliers and pulled. I should back track a little here. These were all twisted by hand and it was a real pain if one snapped because you had to replace it. I came to notice that every time someone said the word “break” out loud I broke a wire. Not sure if it was the jinx or just a case of me doing exactly what I was told but I had to threaten all my fellow boat-builders to get them to stop using that particular word.

That was the way with this boat, almost a two steps forward then one step back approach. Install the wires. Take the wires out. Install the seats, take the seats out. And on it went, usually until well into the evening. There was scarce little down-time. By dark we were all sweaty and tired and ready to be fed. This is where The Wooden Boat School excelled: in feeding us. And the nice part was no one cared if you came to the trough in your work clothes. Every meal was excellent. Not overly complex, just good solid fare and great desserts. The root beer float was a memorable treat and the blueberry pie was so good I had two pieces. But the dining room wasn’t jsut a place for eating; it was a place to share the joys and woes of your day, to hear of the adventures of the people in other classes like sailing or fundamentals of boat building, and to always have a few laughs. And best of all, no one talked politics. All ages and professions shared in the camaraderie which I think makes the Wooden Boat School the special place it is. No they didn’t pay me to say that.

This is probably all a little boring for you non-boating readers. I’ll post a few turtle pictures tomorrow.

© Judy Parsons 2018

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Another Day, Another Boat 2

..…or Today’s Costume: Boatbuilder.

Day one at the Wooden Boat School. The night before, at the communal dining room, we were introduced to the instructors but today we get to meet them and our classmates. There are nine Tenderly Dinghies to be assembled to the point where they are safe for transport to good homes. Here’s the schedule:

We didn’t stick tight to it. Our instructors put in some late nights doing some preassembly so we would have time to get it all done. Six days is not a long time to build a boat, especially when there is the drying of epoxy to consider. So it was a treat to find the CLC’s signature puzzle joints already glued up.

And the copper wire was already cut into bite sized lengths for our convenience.

So many wires and many more to come. But first a demonstration:

And then we are off to thread a gazillion wires through the panels of our own boats and then twist them to close the gaps. Carpel tunnel syndrome, anyone?

And then the bulkheads.

And by suppertime we each have something that is identifiable as a boat:

 

A fine start but I don’t suppose she’d float yet. Stay tuned; on day 2 we get to use glue.

This all happened back in August – I’m more than a little behind in blog posts.

© Judy Parsons 2018

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Another Day, Another Boat 1

….or Building The Tenderly Dinghy, Episode 1

Rosie and me.

Some fellers accumulate guitars, others vintage cars, books, or salt and pepper shakers. I accumulate boats. If you were to ask me today why I think I need to build another boat, I’m not sure what my answer would be. Because I can? Because my brother got another one? (Which happens to be my old Westerly Centaur, but that’s another story for another day) Because I miss having a sail? Lance might say “It’s not a sailboat you need my dear, it’s a boat sale.” And he’s right so I will part with a perfectly good kayak so that I can squeeze yet another vessel into my fleet. It’s the only boat I own (excluding rubber boats) that I haven’t named so I’m not overly attached to that one, and hopefully Paddle Song is bound for a museum where she can live out her golden years. And in the boat nursery now: a partially completed Tenderly Dinghy.

The Tenderly Dinghy is one of Chesapeake Light Craft‘s latest kit offerings. She’s as cute as a button and can be rowed, sailed or motored. You can find the kit in their catalogue. This year they also offered a “Build your own Tenderly Dinghy” class at the Wooden Boat School in Maine. Win-win I said when I signed up. I have already built one of their stitch and glue boats, which you can read about in my fall 2014 and spring 2015 posts. You’d think I would have had enough of that for a lifetime given the time, effort, clamps, and shenanigans it took.  The chance to build in the same style but with benefit of skilled instruction was irresistible and the rest, as they say, (sorry, so cliché) is history. Maybe not so much history as a work in progress. Today’s blog entry is about getting there.

I’m not a real confident driver on unfamiliar roads. I’d rather sail to Ireland than find my way around in a strange city but the call of the Wooden Boat School was so seductive that I packed up my tools (as per provided list), hooked up my empty boat trailer, and set out for coastal parts unknown to me, namely Brooklin, Maine.

Afraid that I might lose the trailer and not even notice, I made a contraption so that I could see it in the rear-view mirror. It involved three driveway markers, a dollar store bouncy ball, and a few yards of duct tape. Looking a bit like a transponder for the school of silly, it quickly drew the attention of the official at the international border crossing but it was more out of curiosity than suspicion and when he learned I was on my way to build a boat he wished me well and waved me through. A couple of tire revolutions and I was in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I don’t drive at night so I stayed at a roadside motel which was built back in the days of the great American Road trip. It hasn’t changed a whole lot from when it was built in 1955

Back in its heyday.

but for the addition of a lot more units. It still has the amenities it advertised on its original postcard: fireproof rooms, radiant heat, and ceramic tile showers but the terrazzo floors, if they are still there, are covered in wall to wall carpet, industrial grade. What’s a terrazzo floor Mommy?

Aah, don’t you just love vintage. Especially vintage wallboard.

The International Hotel didn’t have a dining room so I nipped next door to the local diner for supper. The long drive must have contributed to my momentarily taking leave of my senses for this is what I ordered. It was the daily special of pot roast with sides but I gave it another name.

The heart attack platter.

Oh me arteries. If that wasn’t enough punishment I went back for breakfast. The omelette was so large and grease laden that I could only eat a third. The rest traveled on with me. The road trip was uneventful for the most part. I was a little concerned when a fleet of bikers pulled into the motel parking lot but then relieved when I saw that they favoured the riverside suites, not close to me. At breakfast I discovered that they were not the kind of bikers that Hunter S Thompson wrote about but were a group of middle-aged couples with Harleys “doing the four corners of the state.”

The only other travel event, more awkward than nerve-wracking, was when I tried to buy gas in Ellesworth where I pulled up to the pumps and raced for the washroom. I tried three doors before I found one that opened and people looked at me kind of funny when I slithered in the out door while someone was exiting. People, entry doors should be on the front of a building! They looked at me funny again when I walked up to the pump and, like you would, inserted my card. The screen stayed black. I tried another card. Another pump. “They don’t work!”  I exclaimed. People at other pumps, ones that worked, shrugged. “It won’t work for me!” I said in a panic and a good Samaritan came over, looked at the pump, looked at me, gave his buddy a “this one’s totally kookoo” look and said “Try taking off your sunglasses.” Sheesh. Polarized lenses and video screens do not a good mix make. I won’t get into how it still didn’t work so I paid inside and pre-paid too much and on and on it went and I made five trips into that building, finding the proper door on the third. Pretty tame in the scheme of travel adventures, wouldn’t you say? All gassed up and a little frazzled, I soon arrived intact at my destination:

 

Here I would spend the next six days. More on those later. My accommodations, which were included in the tuition, were a bed and breakfast which was a heck of a lot older than the International Motel but outdid them in amenities.

And so it began. Stay tuned for my first day at boat school.

© Judy Parsons 2018

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And What am I at Now?

…..or More Than I’ve Got Time to Tell

Taking a break.

It’s been a downright busy summer. We just got back from the Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival; more on that in another post. Prior to that I had a real a rush on to finish three pieces for the Port Medway Lighthouse Art Show; two paintings and a hooked mat. It’s been hot and the studio tended to run a little over 33 degrees celsius. I had to wear a sock on my arm so the dripping sweat wouldn’t foul my watercolours. I persevered. I just attended the opening of the show earlier this evening; more on that in yet another post.

Then there was that weekend I attended the stone carving workshop at Lee Valley Tools.

Soapstone like putty in my hands.

It was fun and I fear I might have a new hobby if I can find a supplier of soapstone. I implore you to sign up for one of Lee Valley’s seminars. The instructors are great and you might even run into some old friends (Yes, like you Tripta)

Lloyd Stonehouse, our carving teacher. Wonder if his name had anything to do with his choice of craft 

My finished carving, sitting there in front of Lloyd, is more of a ‘wolf-like’ critter than the wolf I had envisioned but I wasn’t totally displeased with my effort. No time to fuss anyway because I had to move on to our biggest focus right now: the construction of a boathouse for Rosie, my Expedition Wherry. No, I’m not doing the carpentry, just some trim painting and fetching of coffee for my son and his crew.

It’s on the Medway River…..

 

..in a tidal area near the mouth.

It’s going pretty well. Just little glitches; one day I forgot my ratty painting shoes and had to get a little creative with masking tape.

In the pink.

And speaking of feet, some vandal defiled the fresh concrete. Thanks little wayward birdie, you must have known I was regretting not making some fanciful marks of my own while it was still wet.

Progress is being made and since this photo there are windows and doors and some of the shingles on the sides. More on that in another post. (How many other posts is that I have promised so far?)

I might just have to call it Rosie’s Roost.

But poor Rosie will be so lonely in that little house on the water by herself. So tomorrow I leave to go to Maine to the Wooden Boat School to build her a buddy; a Tenderly Dinghy. But as the old girl said, more on that in another post……..

© Judy Parsons 2018

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Keji Adventure 2018

…..or Into the Woods.

  I was overdue for another backwoods adventure. Kejimkujik National Park always fits the bill. By the time my daughter and her friend and I came up with a mutually agreeable date all of my favourite campsites were booked. We would go for two nights. I chose site 44 for the first night, a bit further than I would have liked at 14.3 km but do-able, then back to site 1 for the second night, then a short 1.3 km hike out to the parking lot the next morning, leaving us plenty of time to get Sarah and Lindsay back to the city.

Before.

 

We left Big Dam parking lot (not to be confused with the ‘big damned parking lot’) and headed down the trail with our homes on our backs:

The weather was fine, we had plenty water and food, and the forest was beautiful but we harboured a few worries; would our packs become overwhelming? Lind’s shoes were not tried and true, would we have enough water? It was to be a hot day.

This hike Big Dam/Frozen Ocean is shady almost the entire way and there are no stunning panoramas or scenic vistas but it is still a beautiful place to be. Often the lake can be seen just through the trees and the blue is the happiest of blues. The first day we saw no people until our final stop but met an assortment critters. There are no harmful snakes in Nova Scotia by the way.

Thamhophis sirtalis pallidula Allen or Maritime Garter Snake.

There were also hobbits but we didn’t actually see them, just their footprints leading into their hidey holes.


And so we ambled along, having a grand day out, congratulating ourselves on making it the ten km to site 46, where we stopped for a long rest, not looking forward to having to do four more km before supper. I’ll spare you all the nitty gritty details but here’s a few highlights:

The Good:

  • Walking behind Lindsay whose load was a cheery red, yellow and blue. I think it made me so happy because it was the primary colours found in the story books of my childhood. 
  • All of my gear performed well. I should qualify that it was fair weather camping, the only kind I plan to do now if I can help it.  The hammock tent continues to please. The new sleeping bag which is a cross between a bag and a quilt was cozy and warm.

    Hennessy Hammock Tent.

  • I rediscovered how yummy KD is when combined with a pouch of tuna.
  • The flies were tolerable.
  • The Gandalf pole Sarah made for Lindsay when she decided to soldier on with a sprained ankle.
  • The good Samaritans who invited us to share site 46 when we were unable to continue on to site 44.

    Catherine and Chris we are eternally grateful.

    The Bad:

  • For Linds: The split second when she stepped off the boardwalk onto a rock and kept on going, spraining an ankle.
  • For All: The moment we agreed we couldn’t go any further towards our designated campsite.
  • For Sarah: the sound of the trotting paws and strong stink of the coyote in the middle of the night.
  • Stepping off the trail and squatting to pee and then suddenly recalling the sign I had read earlier. Thankfully my error in not pre-examining the underbrush was not consequential. 
  • Craving salt so badly I tried to lick the sweat off my upper lip only to discover I had recently coated it with insect repellent. They really should give that stuff a better flavour.
  • I decided to use a rehydration tablet to counteract the extreme sweating in the 29 degree heat. I popped it into my water bottle, and watched it promptly turn into a towel. Which would you have chosen; the blister packed white tablet or the white tablet loose in the baggie?

    Label your tablets, folks, please label your tablets.

    The Ugly:

  • The duct tape ankle splint I contrived.

    It got more elaborate with time.

     

    When all was said and done it was a memorable hike. I saw 4 toads, 5 squirrels, 2 snakes, 1 brown bunny, a pair of fishermen, only one hiker who was going it alone, and a whole troop of day-hikers in matching T-shirts. We never really reached the point where, in the words of Lance, “You know you are having an adventure when you wish you were home in bed.” and I learned that my limit is really about ten kilometers with a fully loaded pack and moderate terrain. I will always remember to bring duct tape. Now I wonder where I can go next.

After.

© Judy Parsons 2018

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The Great Migration 2

Lancelot and Judith finally reach Nova Scotia. 

Judith: It’s so cold.
Lancelot: That’s the polar vortex dear. It should warm up soon.
Judith: I sure hope so or I’m going to find somewhere with a tropical vortex.

Judith: Does shivering count as exercise? Are you sure this isn’t Iceland?
Lancelot: Well, this map is about as useless as a screen door on a submarine but I’m pretty sure we are in Nova Scotia.
Judith: Well, we might as well settle in. We might have to keep the refrigerator door open to warm up the camper though.

Meanwhile, not too far along the same shoreline: 

Joodles: Whatever happened to global warming?
Lannie: Must be all the ice cubes breaking off o’ the polar ice caps.
Joodles: Well tis so cold as a well digger’s ass here tonite. You sure we didn’t overshoot the place?

Lannie: This map might be as useless as a back pocket on a T-shirt but I’m pretty sure we have arrived.
Joodles: Well fire up the generator; I’m missin’ American Idol.
Lannie: Right after I unhook. I wanna head back to that Horton’s place – they must have pretty good barbecue with all those pick-ups in the parking lot.

© Judy Parsons 2018

The Great Migration

…Spread Your Tiny Wings and Fly, Little Snowbirds.

On the Road to Canada

Judith: I told you we should have stopped for directions, dear. Now we’re totally lost.
Lancelot: Well I marked the map to Lunenburg.
Judith: Dear, that’s Lunenburg Massachusetts, you’ve got marked there, not Lunenburg Nova Scotia.

Judith: Well, we might as well take a break and enjoy the scenery. I’ll get some knitting done. We’ll need some warm sweaters for the foggy nights where we’re going.
Lancelot: We’re no more than 35 miles off course but I didn’t see a gas station anywhere. We might not have enough fuel to get back to I95. We burn a lot more towing the camper.
Judith: Do you hear a car?

Lancelot: Hello!! Hey!! Can you help a fellow out….
Judith: They look a little frazzled……

Earlier, another pair of snowbirds:

 

Lannie: This don’t look like no Canada.
Joodles: North, ya nimrod, Canada is North.
Lannie: Must’a had the map upside down.

Meanwhile, two days later.

Lannie: Look at that couple wavin’ their hearts out. I don’t know where the heck we are but they is mighty friendly up here. Dig out the map will ya.

Lannie: The sign said Lunenburg but I can’t even find no highways on here.
Joodles: I told you we should’a got sumpin better than a restaurant placemat map.
Lannie: Well, We gotta be on here somewheres.
Joodles: If we just drive opposite to the sun it’ll be East and we’ll hit the ocean eventually. We can start North again from there. But first I gotta pee.

Joodles: Can ya see me from the road?
Lannie: Most of ya, but ain’t nobody up here ta see anything Anyhow.
Joodles: Well hold up that blanket for me will ya.

Joodles: We might as well settle in and have some supper.
Lannie: Might as well. We shoulda picked up that roadkill rabbit back the other side of Waltham.

Joodles: There’s nuthin’ quite like a cup of tea in the woods.
Lannie: Nuthin’ cept a six-pack. How ya like yer hot dog, raw, almost cooked, cooked all the way through, or burned black?

© Judy Parsons 2018

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