The Journey Home

It has been a bittersweet journey home–the drudgery of packing up years of stuff from one boat, then riding around in an overstuffed van for 10 days before unpacking it all onto another boat.  In the middle of the 10 days between one boat and the other we were driving south–inland to Columbia, South Carolina–to attend the wedding of a very dear friend.

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It was one of the sweetest/saddest things I’ve ever participated in.  My younger son, now 29, became friends with groom in kindergarten, when they were both five.  They went all the way through high school together, and I have lots of photos of them–mostly predating digital images.   I have vivid memories of playdates from those early school years when the two of them had a massive collection of mutant ninja turtles.  Either one of them would arrive at the other’s house with a black garbage bag full of action figures.  I remember the yearly man hunt game on New Year’s Eve which always ended with sparklers at midnight, preceded by wonderful dinners together for the parents.  I remember hearing all that wonky music from the various Nintendo games–Mario ad infinitum, Donkey Kong, Dungeons and Dragons.  These games led to more complicated computer games and more geeky science and computer interests as the boys grew.  When they were young many people thought they were brothers.  They each had a brother, but it seemed they looked more like each other than their real brothers.

Now both boys have grown into handsome men–refined, even elegant.  Seeing them together as adults makes me wonder where the boys have gone.  Chris’ friend is tall and lean, and very handsome.  He is articulate and moves with grace.  He was recently ordained a Lutheran minister so he is comfortable in crowds and is surely a good public speaker.  He looked perfectly comfortable with his stunning bride who made us all think of Kate Middleton.

In this photo Chris (on the left) is standing with his two oldest friends– the groom is in the middle. I took almost the same photo 11 years ago when these three graduated from high school.  They were so awkward and youthful then–so comfortable and confident now.

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The saddest thing about the wedding day was that the groom’s mother and father could not be there. The father was in the hospital at the end of a long 18 months of trying to stop the cancer that had been spreading for over a year.  He lost that battle only 3 days after his son got married.  It was heartbreaking to be there without the presence the parents who have been such good friends to us for 25 years.  It will probably be one of the happiest/saddest events of my life.  I would not have missed it.  In fact, Bob and Chris and I jumped through more than a few hurdles to get there.  It breaks my heart that the hurdles for getting to this wedding were bigger than humanly possible for the parents of the groom. (yes, I am wearing the sweater I had hoped to finish in time for this occasion.)

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After the wedding we had a couple of days with Chris as we continued south, back to Florida, with a destination at our new boat.  Chris flew back to San Francisco; Bob and I began unloading that van into the new (improved!) Pandora.  Bob and I had barely gotten all the boxes onboard when it was time for me to fly home.

Now I’m back in Connecticut, in the blinding yellow of daffodils and forsythia and the deep blue of the Connecticut River that glints like a sapphire in the silver setting of last year’s marsh grasses glowing in the late afternoon light.

Today I bought pansies for the window boxes on the front of our house.  I’m waiting for the trees to leaf out.  I’m going to start weaving the projects that I left on my looms in December.  Right now there is a pot of carrot tops simmering on the stove and a hank of silk waiting to be dyed.

Life goes round and round–until it doesn’t.

 

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The Sublime to the Ridiculous!

Let’s start with ridiculous.  This is day 1 of unpacking Pandora–utter chaos, and NO fun!

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It’s hard to pack things when you don’t even have room to move….

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I thought packing up a boat would be a piece of cake compared to the three houses we have packed up in the past few years…..but in some ways this is harder!

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Bob put boxes in the rented van while I tried to straighten up the main salon so we could have dinner without too much clutter.  The van is now 2/3 full, with the back seats folded down, and we still have a long way to go!

At the end of the day we decided to go for a walk.  First we passed this other example of living small.  I bet it wouldn’t take any time at all to pack up your belongings from this little abode–but I wonder how many people think that about our boat!  I guess there is always something smaller!

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And always something larger….

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Of course, if I lived here–Tryon Palace– I certainly wouldn’t be doing my own packing, would I?

Tryon Palace was the Governor’s Palace of provincial North Carolina in the 18th c. before the American Revolution.  After independence it burned to the ground just before the end of the century.  This reproduction was built in the 1950s and is now a museum.  I thought I was done taking photos of gardens, but I guess I just never will be!

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Walking through the gardens at Tryon Palace is rather difficult on a Sunday afternoon at the height of spring.  I can’t speak for other times–but it would not surprise me if this place is popular all year ’round.  There were two brides, each with her own camera crew, and a newly engaged couple with a crew of camera toting family.  Everywhere we moved we heard sighs and saw gestures–frustrated gestures, not rude!–that we were invading someone’s Kodak moment.  In trying to get out of the way of one bride we were always moving into the way of the other!–or the engaged couple!

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But I would not have missed a walk through these gardens for anything!  What surprised me most were the anemones and batchelor buttons.  You expect to see tulips and daffodils, but anemones are such a happy surprise!  This is not a great photo, but I love these iris which were in gardens all over town–mixed with batchelor buttons.

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Tryon Palace is in a residential part of town that has houses from all the architectural periods since this town was settled in the early 18th c.   Since each house has a formal garden I wonder if you have to prove your gardening skills before you can move here.

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The daffodils, tulips and wisteria are already past their prime…but en masse they still have a vivid impact!  I have been seeing tiny yellow rose like flowers on a climbing vine everywhere, even along the highway climbing up trees.  I just learned it is a climbing rose named Rosa Parks.

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I can just imagine these homeowners picking their colors to coordinate with the azaleas.

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Now it’s the morning of day 2.  I am going to have some coffee, or rather Bob’s amazing latte, and get back to packing. We hope to end each day around 4pm this week so we can take a walk through this pretty town!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Final Days aboard Pandora

Mother Nature has been pretty good to us as we head to our final destination for Pandora, in New Bern, North Carolina.  We stopped for two days in Oriental, where we enjoyed a free dock with easy access to town.  On the dock with us was a boat from Colchester, England.  The older captain sailed alone across the Atlantic about a year ago.  At some point along the way he was adopted by a small black kitten he decided to name Mogs.

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At each port Mogs goes visiting.  Maybe one day he’ll decide to stow away on a new boat.  At least that’s what Bob and I hoped when Mogs made himself very comfortable on Pandora. We began to think he might stay with us…. but as the English boat made ready to depart Mogs headed quickly back to his familiar digs.  Ah, well….

Friday was our final sail on this Pandora.  I could have wished for a bit less wind, but perhaps it’s for the best.  There is nothing like a couple hours of seasickness to make one willing to say goodbye to a boat!

In a little over a week we’ll be commissioning a new Pandora in Ft. Pierce.  As you can see, she’ll need a name change!

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New Bern is a pretty city.  We are on a dock at the New Bern Grand Marina, where once you walk up the ramp you find yourself in the heart of the historic district!  Lovely! We had dinner at the Harvey Mansion on Friday evening, our first night in town.

Saturday morning we went to the well attended Farmer’s Market, and then headed out to Raleigh Durham airport to pick up a mini van to load up with all our gear and provisions from Pandora. Unfortunately that was the most economical place for a car rental, but it was a long day with 5 hours of driving round trip.

It’s Sunday morning and I must wrap this up to begin the decommissioning.  Hopefully we’ll get a bit more sight seeing in this week, during breaks from packing and cleaning. I know there is a weaving shop in town because I visited it a year and a half ago by car on my drive home from Beaufort! I cannot pass up a chance to see that again!

We have to be out of here on Friday morning!  There is LOTS to do before then!

 

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Tying it all up

Time is short!  Bob and I are rapidly approaching our last week onboard Pandora– not only the last week of this sailing season, but the last week we may ever sail on her.  We are delivering her to a broker in New Bern, NC, tomorrow, and after that we’ll spend a week unloading 8 years of provisions we’ve put onboard– and we’ll do all we can to clean and polish her to a gleaming state so that someone else might want her as much as we did just a few short years ago.  We have enjoyed our time on her!

We have just spent a couple of days at Cape Lookout, a spot we have not visited before.  What a gem!  I think it is considered the most violent bit of sand and sea along the East Coast of the US, but it may also hold the record for the most violent bit of geography on the Atlantic.  Not certain about that—but I intend to look into it. Our photos tell a different story–peaceful and serene.

At anchor in the bight at Cape Lookout….

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The lighthouse at Cape Lookout at sunset.  The light flahses for one second every 15 seconds, and Bob managed to get it!–you have to have great eyesight to see that tiny point of light in this photo!

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There is fabulous shelling on the beaches at Cape Lookout, both on the ocean side and in the bight.  Amazing. We collected quite a trove of great shells.

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These shore birds, which I can’t identify positively (they might be a type of tern–Caspian? Forster?) really scolded me for invading their territory.  I am always impressed at how fearless most birds are.  En masse these guys were determined to get me off their bit of beach!

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 After many attempts to catch dolphins on camera–since we see them everyday–Bob caught this one! I hear that loggerheads come here to spawn, and that should happen pretty soon.

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Tomorrow we head back out into the Atlantic for a few miles, then into the ICW near Beaufort.  If we time the tide right we’ll be in Oriental before the end of the day.  By Friday morning we’ll head up the Neuse River and be in New Bern by afternoon.  And then the chores begin taking down everything that has been our winter home for a few years now.  End of an era….

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Contemporary Handwoven Treasures

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This exhibit opens today at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum in New London, CT.  It will run until Saturday, April 26.  There is an awards ceremony on April 11, and a day of weaving desmonstrations on April 18th.  The museum is closed on Easter and Easter Monday.

I am thrilled to have two pieces in this show, and I hope to visit the show on the very last day it is open.  I’ll be skidding into town just in time!

The chairwoman of the show wrote me earlier this week to say that “Sunet on Wilson Cove” has received two awards!  2nd Place for Wall Hangings, and a special award for Best Use of Color!  She made my day!  The jurors were Sarah Saulson and Anita Thompson.

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“Thread of Life”

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A Return to Nature

We are passing through an area of abandoned rice paddies.  The colonists worked very hard to cut down miles and miles of bald cypress swamp—and that has to be a hard job (wonder if they had slaves to do it then)—and now it has all returned to bald cypress swamp once again.  Hard to tell man ever tamed this area.

I have learned a little of why rice is no longer grown in South Carolina.  It turns out that the process of growing rice the traditional way, which means flooding the fields at some point in the growing season, can only be done by hand.  Because the fields are so marshy and at times underwater, everything from sowing seed to harvesting the rice has to be done manually.  In other rice growing states (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and California) a hybrid type of rice is grown that requires irrigation, but is not grown in marsh conditions.  Mechanized equipment can be used for the whole process so the cost of growing rice is much less.  That pretty much put Carolina rice out of business.  There are still a few farms, but they do not export the rice and it is only available in small boutique type shops.  We bought some gold rice (not polished to white) from nearby Palmetto Plantation at the museum shop in Georgetown.  I made it last night, and I do wonder if some of the dark particles I found were just pieces of chaff or if they were critters.  I really to had to cull the rice before cooking it, just in case of the latter!  It has sort of put me off to making it again….

Since leaving Georgetown we have been traveling through the cypress marshes.  It’s always nice to be alone again….at least for a bit.  I never like being alone on holidays, and we are rapidly approaching Easter (tomorrow, in fact).  It would be nice to find an acquaintance we know when we arrive in Wrightsville later today.

Here are some scenes from the marsh. An abandoned rice paddy where cypress are coming back.

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An osprey on the nest watching us as we pass.

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Traveling through a landscape that has returned to unspoiled marsh.

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And turtles sunning themselves on a cypress root.  I just had to include it even though it’s blurry! (So….what do you call a collection of turles?  A bale or a turn.  I’m going with bale since we are in cotton country!)

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Northlight Studio exhibition in Stromness, Orkney

There was a bit of exciting news in my inbox this morning regarding the exhibition of very small tapestries taking place at the Northlight Studio in Stromness.  Joan Baxter wrote to say that show went up as planned, about a week ago.

The exhibition is up and there are 65 postcards in total from Orkney, Yorkshire, Ireland, New England and Denmark. That is a really fantastic effort, thank you for contributing.

This is wildly thrilling to me!–that my tiny little scene of the St. Mary’s River has traveled to a place I’ve always wanted to visit–that it is hanging on a wall with other tapestries made by people in places I still hope to visit– and soon!  Well… I am undone!

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What’s behind that Door?

On our second day in lovely Georgetown, as we were walking down Front Street, in the residential area with its historic homes, we happened on this beautifully restored Federal style house with its front door wide open.  Hmmm… Could this be my chance to take a look beyond front doors and porches??

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 The man from the red pickup truck said we should go inside for a tour.  I thought he meant it was a historic house tour, with a guide.  Bob and I entered the house and began calling out ‘hellos’ to no answer.  I ventured a bit further and then really felt I should not be wandering about in this beautifully appointed house unsupervised.  Bob went back out to consult the pickup truck man.  He said that the house is for sale, fully furnished, and that it was open today for viewing.  No one was inside, but we could help ourselves to a tour.  Talk about southern hospitality, and trusting folks!

 This house was built in 1815, so it is 200 years old this year.  It is furnished with a mix of antiques and reproductions, and some of the antiques are considerably older than the house.  The dining table and sideboard were fully set for dinner…. inviting!

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The kitchen:

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There were several wonderful sitting rooms

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Want to go upstairs?  Of course you do! (sorry about the crooked photos….I will have to edit them when I get home–in a month or so!)

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There is even an upstairs sitting room off the master bedroom…. love the ottoman!

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All this can be yours:  the house, the furnishings, a beautifully landscaped city lot, and a small corner lot next door that has been purchased and turned into a lovely garden…but wait!  There’s more!  The price also includes a late model Land Rover to get you out and about.  And are you ready for the price?….. 1.5 million and the place is yours.  Pretty amazing.  And you could live in this charming town. (You would have to get used to the smell of the paper plant though…well, there are always compromises, right?)

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Salt Marsh or Rice Paddy??

Last night we anchored alone in a quiet little estuary off the ICW, less than 10 miles south of Georgetown, SC.  We didn’t make it to Georgetown because of waiting for mid-tide in some particularly shallow areas of shoaling.  The shoaling seems worse than it did two years ago, and locals in Georgia have mentioned that there just isn’t money in the budget for keeping the waterway dredged as often as in the past.

Yesterday evening was beautifully quiet.  After a long day of listening to the engine run it was so peaceful to be alone in a pretty spot.  There was no wind, which is rather rare, so when the birds weren’t singing it was utterly quiet.  Here are the marshes in the last of of the light.

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I thought it was salt grass on all sides of us, but the guide book says they are rice paddies.  Hmmm…. there were some flood gate type constructions here and there, so maybe they were rice paddies. Notice the egret in the foreground.

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The sun set to a chorus of trilling blackbirds, and led to a cold but tranquil night–clear skies with a gibbous moon and lots of stars.

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 This morning the wind kicked up and dark clouds moved quickly over us bringing rain.  As we left the anchorage we saw a bald eagle in a lone tree in the rice paddy/marsh.  He took flight as we passed him.

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Before the rain found us there were some stunning moments along the canal as we headed for Georgetown.

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 By mid morning we were anchored just off the public docks in pretty Georgetown–although it’s too bad about the noise from the steel plant and the railroad tracks, and the smell from the papermill, all at the head of the harbor!  At the local museum we were told that those are rice paddies where we anchored, and the birds were most likely a type of bobolink that the locals call ‘rice birds.’  Rice birds have been a problem since rice was first grown in these parts.  They can eat an entire crop of rice, and no one has figured out a way to deter them.  So the current rice growing endeavor has failed.  I don’t quite understand this problem since there has always been plenty of Carolina rice as long as I can remember!

 

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Shameless Landlubber

We have spent some wonderful days ashore between Fernandina, Savannah and Beaufort, SC.  I can’t walk 10 feet without taking a photo– of window boxes, planters, a beautiful front door or porch.  Clearly I miss land! –in spite of my little container gardens on Pandora.

Our last day in Savannah: camellias, cherry trees– even a few that have already begun leafing out!—azaleas, pansies.  It is full spring here.

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And just a few more doors…..I can’t help myself! Note the gas lamp at this door.  There were many in Savannah.

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Elegance on elegance…..would love to get a peak inside both these places!

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This gate with ivy is so pretty I can only imagine how lovely the garden must be on the other side!

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 Lunch was fun in a well known English style pub with good pub fare:  bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, ploughman’s lunch.  I took this photo to show my dear friend Lesley, but I wish I’d taken a photo of my lunch so she could see I was having a Branston pickle!

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We visited the maritime museum that also happened to have a lovely garden surrounding it since the museum is housed in an historic house with beautiful grounds.

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The museum had quite an extensive collection of ship models, but what caught my eye were some of the very few other items, relics from various ships.  There was a wall of scrimshaw in one room, and I was intrigued with these lovely carved rolling pins. I don’t even have a rolling pin on Pandora since I only make a pie once or twice during our time onboard each year.  I use an empty wine bottle….we always have one on hand!

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And of course I had to take a photo of this lovely scene of children with a lamb.  Not your standard scrimshaw image!

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And just before leaving Savannah we had our photo taken by a couple of tourists after Bob offered to take theirs.

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From Savannah we moved on to Beaufort, where I looked forward to visiting one of the friendliest yarn shops, Coastal Knitting.  Just walking through the charming business section of town—so many beautifully tended shops and interesting restaurants—was delightful.  And the residential areas were beyond wonderful!  There were gardens in luscious bloom everywhere.  Here is just a sampling!

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This morning, just one day after leaving Beaufort, I found a comment here from a woman who lives in Beaufort, and who just returned herself from a couple of months onboard her trawler, armed with both knitting projects and a tapestry project.  It is a thrill to know that there are other weavers out there!  It can get so lonely out here without other weavers to talk to!

Non-weavers often recommend that I get an inkle loom or a little rigid heddle.  I love these small tools and enjoy using them when I have a certain project in mind that suits them.  But they in no way replace that urge to weave the type of cloth that I love.  It’s just not the same, and an inkle loom is never going to satisfy my need to design and create fabric.  Anyway—it’s very nice to be in touch with another weaver.  Laura Burcin plans being onboard for a longer period next winter.  I look forward to connecting with her in person.  In the meantime, I feel I have gotten to know her a bit through her blog.

Should I talk about my “For Irene” sweater, which I have ripped back in order to make the lower body smaller?  I certainly don’t want to!  It has not gone as simply as I envisioned!  I knitted most of this sweater in Portugal on my rosewood, interchangeable Knit Picks needles—size 4.  At the airport in Lisbon, as I was headed back to the US, they were taken from me.  Now that I’m trying to match the stockinette on the body of sweater, I am finding that none of my other needles are able to match the gauge of those particular needles I lost!  UGH! I have started and ripped back five times now!  This is a crisis! I did try to replace those needles in Coastal Knitting in Beaufort.  They don’t carry the interchangeables, but they did have size 4 circulars from Knitter’s Pride which I have heard is the same manufacturer as Knit Picks.  Alas, no luck on getting the same gauge!

I wanted to wear this sweater to a wedding in a little over two weeks, and now I’m rather convinced it won’t happen.  Ah well, time to make peace with that.  When I get home I can order a replacement for the needles I lost….

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