Where in the World Have I Been??? Well, Beaver Brook Farm for Starters.

A lot of water has rushed under the bridge and over the dam, since I returned home more than 6 weeks ago.  A whole bunch of wonderful things have happened that I should have written about already.

Bob has had a hard time sailing the long distances this year, both going south and returning north, but he managed to get home just a few days before this holiday weekend.  He had to leave Pandora in Hampton, Virginia, and drive the rest of the way home. Hopefully he’ll make the last few hundred miles back home in late June.  It’s terrific to have him back!

For now, I’ll write about this holiday weekend.

Since we’ve moved to Connecticut it has been our new tradition to take a drive through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley each spring as part of our Memorial weekend festivities.  Yesterday was a glorious day, one of the first days without rain in about a month.  I put together a picnic, and we headed out in our toy car to visit a sheep farm/dairy and a local winery.

Only a week before I learned about this sheep dairy from a friend who traveled with me to a long weekend lace conference.  On the other side of the Ct River there are three dairy farms that make cheese:  a cows’ milk dairy called Cato Farms, a goats’ milk dairy called Beltane Farm, and a sheep and cow dairy called Beaver Brook Farm.  Imagine that! All three right within a few miles of each other!

Here is bucolic Beaver Brook Farm, owned by the Sankows.  The farm has been in their family since the beginning of the last century, and they’ve been raising sheep and making cheese since the current generation bought their first sheep in 1984.  I found some newspaper articles tacked up on the walls of their farm market that date from the early 2000s.  These articles came from the New York Times, “Saveur” Magazine, and several local publications.

5-28-17a 026

It was a stunning day for a visit.  First came looking at the new lambs.

5-28-17a 028

5-28-17a 029

Then we met Suzanne who gave us a tasting of fresh sheep’s milk cheese covered in herbs de Provence, feta, an aged cheese that she calls “Farmstead,” and even a fresh sheep’s milk cheese mixed with pesto.  All of it was delicious!

Here is Suzanne cutting some feta for us.

5-28-17a 014

And here is a counter of aged Farmstead ready to be cut and packaged. It is a semi-firm cheese with a LOT of great flavor.

5-28-17a 015

Suzanne gave us samples enough for a meal, and we enjoyed all of it.  Afterward we visited the small building next door called the Wool Shop.

5-28-17a 010

Inside the shop is more of an idea in progress than a fully functioning shop.  They are just now branching out with the idea of making and selling things from the wool of their sheep. (Did I ask what breed these sheep are??  How could I neglect to do that?)  The raw fleeces are sent to a mill in Massachusetts to be washed, then sent south for spinning at a mill in in either North or South Carolina. Some of the yarn is used to weave fabric that becomes blankets or clothing items, like capes and vests and sweaters.  But look at all those piles of socks!

5-28-17a 011

Recently Stan bought a sock knitting machine from China and is busily making hundreds of socks per machine knitting session.   Sometime back, I remember reading in the NY Times that there is one town in China that produces almost all the socks sold in the world.  Is that where Stan got his knitting machine?

5-28-17a 025

It takes only 3 minutes for this machine to knit a sock.  There are lots of choices of sizes and designs for the socks.  When the sock is finished it shoots out into the blue plastic bucket in the foreground.  I burst out laughing when the sock came shooting out!–sans toe because Stan has the toes done elsewhere and also has the socks washed elsewhere which makes them much softer than what we are holding here.

5-28-17a 022

Want one?  Here’s the info on that. The basic machine is about $6,000.  You’ll need to fork out more for all the design possibilities.

5-28-17a 021

A sock in progress down in the center.  That plastic tube is where the sock will get shot out of the machine and into the bucket.

5-28-17a 017

5-28-17a 020

Just a head’s up for friends and family.  There will be sheep socks coming your way this Christmas.  How can I resist?

5-28-17a 023

There are many to choose from!

5-28-17a 038

Then we went to take a look at the sheep in the field.  What a bucolic setting….

5-28-17a 039

The farm is in Lyme on Beaver Brook Rd, in Lyme.  Suzanne says they are open 7 days a week.  That’s hard for me to believe with all the chores that must keep them busy, but she says they always have time to greet visitors and give you a cheese tasting.  We went home with the fresh cheese covered in herbs de Provence, two hunks of feta and and some Farmstead.  Yum…

We capped off the day with a stop at Priam Vineyards in Colchester, just a bit north of Lyme, and a lovely drive too on a spring day in a very old MGA.  Cato Farm, where you can buy some wonderful cow’s milk cheese is just around the corner from them.

We sat on their shady terrace overlooking the vineyards and had a glass of  chardonnay with our picnic.

IMG_3495

What a way to celebrate the beginning of summer in New England.  It is the best time of year for remembering and acknowledging how lucky we are to have such freedom and so many opportunities to enjoy life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dominica, Our Final Destination

This is the final week of my Caribbean winter.  When we left home in January, we had no idea how many islands we’d get to visit.  As it turns out, it was less than we imagined, but what a trip it’s been.  We have only been through the Lesser Antilles, or Leeward Islands so far. Dominica is our final destination before turning north to return to Antigua in time for my flight home this Sunday.  It is magical place that has entranced both of us.  We will be back again next year.

In the past Dominica had a reputation as a trouble spot for cruisers.  A group of locals realized that Dominica is such a gem with so much to offer tourists, as well as so much of traditional island lifestyles that could support the locals, it was worth making an effort to make this island a safe place to visit.

Bob and I arrived just a day before the weekly Saturday market in Portsmouth.  We learned that almost everyone on the island has a little plot of land, a small ‘farm,’ that may be only a small fraction of an acre, but is bountiful in supplying so many crops and a few chickens.  The market is full of tropical fruits and veggies, like pineapples, bananas, sour sop, Caribbean pumpkins, coconuts, nutmeg, along with plenty of European vegetables like carrots, onions, corn, peppers, eggplant, and even some cold weather veggies like lettuce and cabbage.  Many people also have jobs in tourism or government offices, but they all get up extra early each morning to tend their farms.  It is quite impressive.

Look at all these coconuts!  There were several trucks like this at the market on Saturday morning. We learned that Dominica used to be the biggest exporter of coconut related things until coconut oil took a serious downturn years back during the ‘fat scare.’  Now there are more coconuts than the locals can keep up with, and every time a coconut falls to the ground it germinates into yet another coconut palm.

4-1-17a 018

The tomatoes and cucumbers here are beyond belief–even better than home grown.  How do they do it?

4-1-17a 015

4-1-17a 004

This woman was selling flowers along with food.  She would not allow us to pay for the flowers, and when we added a few ECs (Eastern Caribbean coins) to her total she threw in a few bananas.  She is stunning in the traditional madras head covering.

4-1-17a 007

The next day we hired Faustin Alexis to take on a river tour of the Indian River.  He is an excellent guide, so if you find yourself on Dominica you should ask for him.  All the guides through PAYS (Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security) get training, and in Faustin’s case, he has become very committed to the traditional way of life and wants to return to it himself while also helping others preserve it for future generations.  His enthusiasm for the plants and animals of the rainforest was moving, and it was impressive to see his knowledge of plant life, birds and bird calls, and fish.  He says he’d like to return to living in the rainforest when his children are grown.

4-1-17a 056

No motors are allowed on the Indian River, so after Faustin picked us all up from our boats (8 adults and 2 toddlers, plus Faustin which made 9 adults) he walked to the front of the skiff and began rowing into the river.  In spite of rowing upstream, he kept up an ongoing conversation, pointing out plants, birds, and bits of traditional lore.

4-1-17a 020

As we entered the river, another tour boat was exiting.  I think these tours are highly organized so that there are never more than two boats on the river at once.  We could not resist getting a shot of these adorable kids on the other skiff.

4-1-17a 044

We had our own adorable kids onboard as well.  They belonged to two Dutch families who happened to meet just before their Atlantic crossing in the Canaries.  I hope someday we can share this wonderful experience with our own granddaughter, Tori.

4-1-17a 097

These amazing trees were all along the river.

4-1-17a 062

4-1-17a 077

There was lots of bird life that we saw and sometimes only heard.  There were parrots in the upper story, although we could not see them.  But we saw the shore birds feeding along the river’s edge.  Here is a white heron looking at the little crayfish at the water’s edge.

4-1-17a 051

4-1-17a 022

And a green heron.  There is even a type of duck in Dominica, but I missed the name.

4-1-17a 101

And there were so many plants that Faustin identified for us that are used for food or medicine or for general health.  He often jumped off the boat to peel some bark from a cinnamon tree, or to pull a branch of bay for us to smell, or a nutmeg laying on the ground, or to show us plants used to make poultices to heal wounds, and the bright magenta leaves of another plant that would be used to wrap as a bandage around the poultice. His knowledge seemed quite encyclopedic.  He told us that the older person on record came from Dominica and was a woman who lived to be 127.  His own great uncle lived to be 115. Faustin showed us which trees are used to build the traditional houses and which trees are prone to termite infestations.

4-1-17a 036

At the farthest point of the tour upriver we stopped for a bit of a walk, and explored a set of traditional buildings where a couple of men served flavored rum to the tourists and demonstrated how they make it.  Here is a big batch of gooseberries being boiled down to flavor a new batch of run.

4-1-17a 080We all enjoyed the day’s drink offerings which were a coconut rum drink or an ‘ultimate’ rum drink.  I also had a small taste of the medicinal rum that Faustin had– flavored with ginger root, nutmeg, bay leaves (a very pungent type of bay that must not be bay laurel), a few ingredients I’ve now forgotten, and ganja!  What a surprise!

The next day we arranged for Faustin’s nephew Fitzroy to take six of us on a walk through the rainforest up to an impressive waterfall.  There were Carol and Bob from Oasis and Dave and Chisholm from Pantine, along with Bob and me.

Fitzroy had a similar respect for the wonders of Dominica as Faustin has.  He was an excellent guide.  He recognized many bird calls and pointed out to us that the main birdsong we were hearing was that of parrots.  They were all around us!  After straining and straining to see them in the canopy of leaves, two parrots took flight and shocked all of us with their bright flash of color.  No one got a photograph.

This is the forest we walked through.  Sometimes there were openings to the sky as here, and sometimes we were in deep shade with the canopy of the trees about 150 feet above the ground.

4-2-17b 154

4-2-17b 040

Looking up into the upper story where plants get the most light, we could see many orchids and bromeliads growing on the tree trunks, as well as huge vines.

4-2-17b 045

In the deep shade there was plenty of plant life too.

4-2-17b 160

4-2-17b 157

There were places with great vistas–

4-2-17b 077

4-2-17b 073

And places so deep in the understory that it drew our focus into the details.

4-2-17b 061

4-2-17b 078

4-2-17b 162

4-2-17b 026

4-2-17b 037

There are even wild amaryllis in the sunnier parts of the rainforest.

4-2-17b 070

Bob and I were particularly on the lookout to see orchids and tree ferns, and there were plenty of both.  There are traditional uses for tree ferns in Dominican culture.  What we know it best for is a planting material for epiphytic orchids.  Fitzroy was surprised to learn that is all we used it for back home.

4-2-17b 050

Tree ferns are very ancient plants, older than humans.

4-2-17b 163

There were plenty of orchids too.  Bob was thrilled to find a few brassavola nodosa in bloom on his previous walk, and plenty that would soon be blooming.  We saw lots of orchids on our walk to the waterfall, but none in bloom.  There were some very tiny orchids and some very large terrestial orchids.

The goal of our walk through the rainforest was a large waterfall.  The path we followed crossed the river several times, the final time involved swinging across the river on a large vine, Tarzan style.  Here is Bob swinging through the air.

4-2-17b 111

And we’re on our way to the waterfall along the relatively dry river.  The rainy season will come in another couple of months. That is our guide Fitzroy in the distance.

4-2-17b 086

You can see how high it is based on how small our fellow travelers are!

4-2-17b 088

Along the edges of the forest there are houses and small farms, places where the locals have burned a bit of the rainforest to create a small plot for growing their own food.  Here are lots of banana trees, coconut palms, and plots of vegetables.  This plot which was labor intensive to start is for a type of yam vine.   Each tuber was planted into its own mound of soil.

4-2-17b 018

4-2-17b 021

And the locals are growing coffee plants and cocoa plants.  This is a branch of unripe coffee beans.

4-2-17b 164

–and a branch of rather ripe cocoa seeds.  Inside these pods are strands of thick cocoa.  I bought some in the market and they have a deep chocolate aroma.

3-31-17b 055

At the end of the day Fitzroy asked me what I use all the plants for that I grow.  I was left a bit tongue tied by that.  Use?  I grow a few herbs and vegetables, but mostly I grow plants for the sheer enjoyment of it.  That is all I could tell him.  He was surprised by this.  What a very different culture we were experiencing here on Dominica.  This is my lesson from visiting this place.  Perhaps I can figure out how to be a bit more conscious how I can be more self sustaining.

Yesterday we began the trek northward so I can catch my flight home on Sunday from Antigua.  We have returned to Terre de Haut in the Saintes and treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner out last night at Bon Vivre.  We were happily surprised when Judie and Phil from Rum Runner walked into the restaurant shortly after we sat down.  We shared a table together, and tonight we will have them aboard Pandora for a last dinner before we each head our separate ways.

 

 

 

Posted in gardening, sailing, travel | Leave a comment

Textiles in the Caribbean

Time to get back on track a bit and talk about textiles!  It IS the driving force of my visits to any location, so I’m always on the lookout for any kind of textile handwork.  And I have not been disappointed this winter!

Some of the places that are well known for handwork have not fallen in our path this winter.  They will be on my list for future visits, but I’ll still mention them here.  Perhaps the most intriguing place is the island of Saba, which lies off the coast of St. Martin.  It is one of the many volcanic islands that make up the Lesser Antilles, and may be the mmost dramatic.

It does not have a good harbor, so sailors must carefully choose a weather window for visiting.  That did not happen for Bob and me this year, although we could have taken a day trip by ferry to visit.  This island has underwater volcanic mountains with coral reefs, so it is also known as an excellent dive site.

In our sailing guidebook (Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands) I read that Saba is only 5 square miles but rises to 3,000 feet in that small area.  It was settled by Dutch, Scottish, and English farmers, along with their African slaves.  Over time they all worked side by side to eek out a living on this steep and rugged island.  These settlers became fisherman and farmers and boat builders.

Until the 1940s, all ships came into Ladder Bay, on a dangerous shore that provides little shelter from ocean swells, where access to land was via an 800-step track that was cut into the rock.  Really!  I’m almost afraid to visit and be found to be the biggest cream puff the Sabans may ever encounter!

In the 1950s, some Dutch engineers determined that the island was too challenging to build roads, so one elderly local took the initiative to study road building via correspondence class and shortly after, with his knowledge, the Sabans hand-built their road, finished in 1958. I guess they don’t easily take ‘no’ for an answer.  The women have become skilled in needle lace which they originally learned from lace makers in Venezuela.  Since living on Saba is very isolated, over time their designs have taken on a specific nature that makes it truly theirs.

I found some images online and links to information about lace making on Saba, but most of them will not open since we have slow internet here.

The inactive volcano on Saba is named Mount Scenery, and I bet it is quite a scenic place!  There is a museum on island that I look forward to visiting someday. You can read about the museum here and their collection of lace here.  And, lucky for me, since it is a Dutch museum, I bet the information will be in English!–a nice change from the French islands where English is not an option.

I should mention that although Iles des Saintes and Marie Galante (the islands just south of Guadeloupe) were discovered by Columbus, they have been French since very shortly after they were colonized.  Until recently, the fisherman here used boats like their fishing forbears from Brittany used.  I am sorry I did not get to see a fleet of those boats. When we arrived on Terre de Haute a few days back, I took some photos of the textiles inside the church in the center of town.

3-26-17a 042

From the back of the church seeing this altar cloth drew me right in.

3-26-17a 045

3-26-17a 046

and from the back entrance I thought the pulpit drape might be filet crochet.  I’m glad I took a closer look because it is needle lace.  I have no idea how Saban needle lace differs from other needle laces, such as this, and hopefully I’ll learn a bit more about that on future visits.

3-26-17a 047

Along the road to the church there are many shops, and one of them is a clothing and accessory shop, called Maogony where everything is dyed blue.  The two owners, Annie and Chakib, use three colors of blue dye to create garments that reflect the colors of the Caribbean waters that lie right outside their store.  Annie and I talked a bit, and I tried my best to understand her excellent English.

3-26-17a 033

When she described her process, using blues she called cobalt, indigo and turquoise I began to think she and her partner might be using Pro Chem MX dyes.  She said they set the colors in the sun and then finish with a hot mangle before washing them. Their mangle is against the back wall in this photo. They work with garments made from cotton, silk and linen.

3-26-17a 038

3-26-17a 034

Just east of Iles des Saintes is an island called Marie Galante.  According to legend, Columbus had already used the names of all the saints that he cared about, so had to resort to some other source for a name for this island. Marie Galante was the name of one of his ships.  There is an indigo dyer on Marie Galante, and I believe she uses the natural plant dye for her work.  I know nothing about her, but am certainly hoping that I’ll meet her next year!  She has a website and a facebook page called Maison de l’Indigo.

Another island we did not get to visit this year is Montserrat, which still has an active volcano on it, Soufriere Hills–the only active volcano in the Leeward Islands, and perhaps in the Caribbean. The original settlers were Irish, and today Montserrat is known as the ‘other emerald isle.’

I have heard there is a mother/daughter weaving team here who weave with sea island cotton. I found Sophie Bufton’s description about her visit to the weavers. This photo is from Bufton’s site.

What I learned from this limited and torturously slow internet search is that the sea island cotton on Montserrat had the longest fibers of any cotton in the world, and that was due to the volcanic soil on this island.  The cotton plants and the spinning factory were destroyed in 1995, the first eruption of Soufriere Hills which destroyed the capitol city of Plymouth where the spinning mill for the cotton was located. This eruption not only destroyed the cotton crop, but also two-thirds of the island.  In the early 2000s, the dome of the volcano collapsed, after a few more years it seemed that the volcano had become inactive.  In 2006, there began to be activity, and another eruption in 2008, has put that theory to rest.    Yet it appears that the weavers are still working with sea island cotton.  I’ll write more when I can get better access to the information.

The internet can be such a treasure trove.  I found this stamp with an image of a spinning ginny and a young Queen Elizabeth.

Madras fabric, originally from India, is considered the national dress of several of the islands in this area — Guadeloupe, Martinique and Dominica.  You can buy almost any kind of souvenir in madras, including plastic key chains and serving trays.  Our granddaughter Tori will be getting a madras sun hat in a couple of weeks.

This part of the world holds a fair amount of geographical confusion for me.  We are in the Caribbean at large, but the particular area we have traversed this winter is known by several labels:  the West Indies, the Lesser Antilles, the Leeward Islands (as opposed to the Windward Islands).  It’s a lot to comprehend, and I just keep looking at the charts to orient myself.  We are in the southeastern part of Caribbean island chain, just before the chain heads due south ending at Trinidad, near Venezuela.  These islands are known as the West Indies because there were slaves brought here from India, and that culture has lived on in West Indian traditions such as food and music.  There is plenty of African cultural influence which melded with the India culture to create something entirely new.  There are so many labels that include ‘west’ and ‘east,’ and also also ‘leeward’ and ‘windward’–how can I keep up??

Posted in bobbin lace, Lace, sailing, travel | Leave a comment

A few days in Iles de Saintes

We sailed to the archipelago of the Saintes that are just south of Gaudeloupe, about five days ago and have spent time in a couple of different anchorages among these idyllic islands.   It’s no lie that the farther south you go the more pristine the islands become!  For the past several days we’ve been on a mooring off this charming village on the island of Terre de Haut.

The town is nestled into the shoreline with mountains rising up all around it.

3-28-17a 036

There are several markets and boulangeries, so we’ve been able to buy French cheeses and olives and plenty of baguettes!  There are wonderful restaurants as well.  As with most of the villages we’ve visited, the church tower dominates the skyline.

1-3-26-018

Typical island structures are brightly painted homes with a bit of gingerbread trim.

3-26-17a 026

3-26-17a 040

3-26-17a 030 Just above the village is one of the highest points of the island, so naturally that was a good choice for a fort.  It is Forte Napoleon and it has been very well preserved and houses a museum.  Yesterday we rented a golf cart with fellow cruisers Corey and Dale aboard Hi Flite, to visit the fort and tour the rest of this small island.

Here is the dry moat that used to protect the outer walls of the fortress. The inner castle is dated 1867.

3-28-17a 009

3-28-17a 027

The museum that is housed in the inner castle has very little information on the fortress itself, and focuses on island history instead.  I would like to know a lot more about this fortress so I’ll look into it when I can.  Meanwhile, although the building is barely more than 150 years old, the techniques used to build this impressive structure are much older.

The grounds within the keep.

01-IMG_3243

07-IMG_3255

08-IMG_3256

I can’t resist windows and doorways and views from both–

06-IMG_3254

05-IMG_3252

–especially this view through a narrow gun slit that looks across the way into another narrow window.

IMG_3251

1-IMG_3246

3-29-17a 059

Here are some of the interior rooms now used for displays.  This is the hearth in the kitchen.

3-29-17a 014

3-29-17a 021

The grounds were beautifully kept, and there is now a project underway to create a botanical garden of ancient native plants.  Here is one flowering tree.

3-28-17a 032

There were plenty of bromeliads and epiphyte orchids with large bulbs and very long flower spikes.  Bob thinks they are encyclias, but we could not find any nursery personnel to answer our questions.

3-29-17a 057

The views from the fortress covered most of the shoreline of Terre de Haut.  It would have been easy to defend this island from this vantage point.  Here we are looking down into the mooring field where Pandora sits off the village of Bourg des Saintes.

3-28-17a 001

3-28-17a 006

3-29-17a 066

The rest of the day we drove along all the roads we could find through island.  Terre de Haut is ringed with beautiful beaches. Here is our chariot of the day.

3-29-17a 081

We had lunch on a vibrantly colored pink and green patio cafe overlooking this beach.

3-29-17a 065

3-29-17a 075

We stopped along the road to take this panorama. You can click on it to ‘biggify.’

10-IMG_3259

We ended the day with a collection of driftwood and sponges from the beaches for me, which I hope will help my friend Mary create some beach themed centerpieces for our upcoming bobbin lace retreat.  Corey got a great cache of sea glass, and we both picked up a few shells and sea urchins.  We returned tired and happy, and got together for sundowners with Carol and Bob from Oasis, who left this morning to sail to Dominica. We hope to follow them tomorrow.  It was a very full day of sightseeing that left us wanting to know more about the history of this place, but well sated in beach combing and good food.

 

 

 

Posted in sailing, travel | 1 Comment

Colore Jardin de Botanique en Deshaies

This is the most scenic place we’ve visited so far this winter.  The mountains rise all around us, and there is the pristine little village of Deshaies nestled against the protective shore in this northwest corner of Guadeloupe.  The pretty church tower rises above all the other buildings in the village, and the whole vista seems like an illustration from a fairy tale.  I must not be the only one who thinks this, since this is the place where the popular crime series, “Death in Paradise,” is filmed.  I haven’t seen any of the episodes yet.  Isn’t it cruel that I will have to wait until I get home to watch a tv show about the place I am currently visiting!

Guadeloupe is two islands sitting very close together with a small opening between the two.  One island is very steep with volcanic mountains, and the other island is quite flat.  Seen from above the two island together look like a lopsided butterfly. Ironically the mountainous island is called Basse Terre, and the flat island is called Grande Terre.

Guadeloupe is one of several island called “the islands that brush the clouds,” along with Antigua and Dominica.  The clouds are full of moisture which contribute to daily rain showers and lush greenery that includes rainforests.  There are some significant waterfalls on Guadeloupe.

When we found out that there is a botanical garden in Deshaies, we were determined to visit. You can walk up the very steep road to the garden, or you can call them and they will send a van to pick you up. Since we do not speak French, we were lucky to have a shop owner call for us.  The van met us at the main crossroad that heads out of the village.

3-22-17a 133

It was quite an experience!  The gardens are well maintained and wonderfully designed.  There are tropical plants in abundance, and also plants from other exotic places around the world.

We met some fellow cruisers, originally from Colorado, who live aboard their boat Hi Flite.  It turns out we have many cruising friends in common, and have been hearing each other on various SSB networks–that is, before our SSB died.  It was nice to finally meet them, and they took this photo of Bob and me standing in front of a large specimen poinsettia!

3-22-17b 068

The same was true of rex begonias and angel wing begonias–they grow as big as hedges in their natural habitat!  There were all kinds of large specimen growth plants that I’ve only ever known as potted plants…. deiffenbachia, schlefferia, phalaenopsis and paphiopedilum orchids, bromeliads–well, if I named them all I’d never stop typing.  The plant that impressed me most is a vine from some region of Africa that I see every time I visit the New York Botanical Gardens (the one in the Bronx, not Brooklyn).  It is a lush vine that has long drooping flowers in a truly nasty, unnatural shade of aqua.  But, of course it is perfectly natural.  Whenever I visit the gardens in New York someone always has to have their photo taken in the midst of these strangely colored flowers.

3-22-17b 114

3-22-17b 116

There were some beautifully designed landscapes.

3-22-17b 102

some with secluded places to sit to admire the views.

3-22-17b 110

The water features were run by electric pumps, but the water came from a natural spring and was wonderfully icy cold in this tropical climate!

3-22-17b 108

We made plans to meet our new acquaintances from Hi Flite for lunch at the restaurant at the top of this waterfall and spent some time getting to know each other and finding all the connections we had in common.

3-22-17b 076

The coi match the plants at the edge of the pond–a familiar potted plant in northern nurseries.  At the moment I can’t remember the name, but you will know it.

3-22-17b 105

All through the gardens there were stands of this bromeliad that is well known for it’s colorful flower stalks.  The flowers were all spent but the plant is better known for the stalk than the flowers anyway.

3-22-17b 101

Here is a banana in flower and starting to make fruit.

3-22-17b 129

There were several stands of these large plants, and you could walk into them, like walking into a grove a bamboo.  But these were not anything like bamboo.  They were starting to flower with large pink flowers on tall stalks–chest high.  I wanted to make a point of remembering the name of this impressive plant, but now that name is long gone! It’s a ‘rosa something.’ The flower is larger than a baseball….maybe larger than a grapefruit.  Stunning.

3-22-17b 086

Here is Bob standing in the midst of a kapok tree.  Remember kapok?

3-22-17b 123

There was an entire arbor of red passion flowers, just coming into bloom.

3-22-17b 128

And there were so many phalaenopses and bromeliads growing on trees.  Some of the phalaenopses were clearly meri-clones of new hybrids that have become so popular–with strange color breaks that have never occurred in nature.  It did not seem natural to see them in a garden setting, but then neither did that strange aqua flowered vine that does occur in nature.

3-22-17b 131

This is the healthiest staghorn fern I have ever seen.  I wanted to take a piece…actually, I was terribly tempted to take many things.  I don’t have any plants onboard this year and I am sorely missing a little greenery.  There was plenty to choose from here, but I could not do it!  I was holding out that there would be plants for sale in the gift shop.

3-22-17b 084

And the birds!  What a feast of color!  There was a large aviary full of ‘parakeets’ like these. They were such a delight flying all over and around us.  They’d swoop down right next to anyone on the path–no fear at all.  They sang beautifully too.  Very mesmerizing.

3-22-17b 061

Then there were very large parrots outside at another part of the garden.  What keeps them in the park?  Having their wings clipped? What amazing colors.  I thought of all the feather tapestries I saw at the pre-Columbian textile exhibit at Yale last summer. How many birds would it take to make one of those tapestries?

3-22-17b 135

And there was a flock of not so colorful flamingoes.  Maybe there aren’t enough live shrimp for them on this island? Still, they are beautiful birds, whether deep coral or slightly off-pink.

3-22-17b 119

At the end of the day, when the van returned us to the crossroads, we found a local woman who set up a small folding table behind her car in a parking lot to sell ice cream.  She had two buckets of freshly churned ice cream that was selling fast as you’d expect on a tropical afternoon.  The choices were something off-white and something deep raspberry red.  I asked what flavors and she replied “coco” and something that sounded like ‘rose,’ (with an accent on the final ‘e’).  I asked again about the rose.  I asked if maybe it was framboise since it looked so raspberry colored.  No, she said rose again.  She said it several times, and others who were waiting in line piped in too with more and more hand motions.  I guessed cerises, and fraise, and everyone continued to say what sounded like rose to me.  Bob got his double scoop, one of each flavor, and we headed off to sit on the rocks along the beach.  I had a few tastes and thought the tangy red flavor was  wonderful.  Suddenly I realized she had a small chalk board next to her table and the word on it was ‘griseille.’  Why did no one point to that sign during all my chatter?  I swear I never heard anyone pronounce that ‘g.’  I guess I have a lot to learn if I’m ever going to understand spoken French!  It was red currant!  Yum!

3-22-17a 136

Everything about Deshaies is about as colorful as the botanical gardens, and I’m loving it!  In the end, when we got to the gift shop there were only four very sad looking cacti for sale.  As desperate as I am for a green plant onboard, cactus doesn’t even come close to tempting me.  That gift shop was the first place I noticed that everything with the word “Guadeloupe” machine embroidered on it as a souvenir, was made out of a bright madras fabric, or was printed to look like the same madras fabric that was on all the textiles.  It seems to be the national fabric of Guadeloupe.  Maybe their flag is even madras.  I don’t know because they fly the French flag, but surely they have their own flag too.  Madras is big here, and it made me realize that this is part of the history of the West Indies.  It is not only influenced by the flavors of their food, but also the textiles from India.  It’s all very colorful.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Antigua to Guadeloupe, from English Charm to French Shabby Chic

We left Antigua more than a week ago, and I have not had internet until now.  Bob has had better luck than with that than I have.  Isn’t that weird??  He’ll be sitting next to me able to get email and write a blog post while my computer will not connect.  The mysteries of cyberspace…. especially the mystery that his ancient clunker of a PC works so much better than my moderately middle ages Macbook.  Hmmm…

Guadeloupe is the most beautiful island I have ever seen!  Some of our cruising friends have told me that Antigua is the beginning of the ‘real’ Caribbean, and that every island gets more and more beautiful as you head south.  I really cannot imagine that.  We spent almost a week in the small harbor of Deshaies (pronounced DAY ‘Eh–reminds me of a certain Caribbean song made famous by Harry Belafonte…how about you?) on the northwestern coast of Guadeloupe, and I was thoroughly enamored of the charming seaside village.  As we sailed in the mountains rose up all around us and a tiny bit of shoreline was dotted with colorful buildings, all with red roofs.  The scene was dominated by a white tower with a red roof that rose above all the other buildings.  No surprise that it is the Catholic church for the village.  We had arrived back in the land of baguettes and wonderful vegetables!

But before I talk about Guadeloupe, I should finish up with our last days in Antigua.  We rented a car to take Chris to the airport, so after we said our tearful goodbyes (for my part certainly), we took the rest of the day to explore parts of the island we could not get to on foot.

Betty’s Hope is a well known tourist attraction.  At some point in Antigua’s past there were about 600 stone windmills on the island, used to power the processing of sugar cane into sugar.  All these windmills were built by the hard labor of slaves and oxen.  There are still about a hundred windmills in various stages of decay on the island, but two at Betty’s Hope are beautiful examples. One has been restored to working order and is used to demonstrate grinding the cane on certain occasions.  While we were not there on one of those occasions, it was still very impressive to see the windmills.  Just to move the arms to face into the wind requires a lot of manpower and oxen power.

3-22-17a 111

Betty’s Hope was named for the daughter of the landowner.  I was disappointed to learn this.  I had hoped that the name was in honor of a slave woman, possibly the wife, mother, aunt, grandmother of several of the men who had built these windmills.  Well, so much for my romantic notions about the history of this place.  What on earth was this Betty hoping for?  A big sugar yield to make her family wealthier than they already were?  I can imagine so many more interesting hopes for a Betty who lived and worked the land with her family than for the real Betty.  Still, I bet there is some pretty interesting history here.  I would know more if we had internet!

3-22-17a 071

Betty’s hope is now home to a large herd of goats, which Bob and I enjoyed most of all!  There were lots of kids frolicking, even some newborns.  Baby goats are about as cute as babies get! Our new baby granddaughter, Tori, would have enjoyed them too!

3-22-17a 085

3-22-17a 096

3-22-17a 100

We have been so entertained by all the goats on Antigua.  There is large solar farm in the middle of the island where we saw goats eating the weeds around the panels.  This is their day job. Late in the afternoon the goats somehow know it’s time to go home.  They head out with no shepherd to guide them.  They know the way.

Bob and Chris encountered this mother and kid heading home after a day out.  Bob said the kid whined the whole time he and Chris were behind them.  Makes you wonder if kids complain about the long trip home, or the heat of the day, or even the two creepy humans following them, just like our kids might. The goat mother bore it without comment.

3-18-17a 036

And speaking of kids, here is a scene from our last full day with Christopher before he headed back to his new home in San Francisco.  We took a cab up to Shirley Heights, right outside of English Harbour.  It’s a great place to watch the sunset, and every Sunday hundreds of people show up to do just that.

3-22-17a 040

With a view like this, you can see how popular it would be–

3-18-17a 043

–especially at sunset.

3-22-17a 070

Back to the day that Chris left– at the end of the day we drove out to the northeastern corner of the island to see something called “Devil’s Bridge.”  I had no idea what this might be, and so I was pretty awestruck to see this natural wonder.  It doesn’t look like it will last much longer, but that’s just conjecture on my part. Maybe it’s been in this almost crumbled state for a century already.  I know that people walk across this bridge, but I certainly wasn’t going to try it.  Bob didn’t either!

When we returned our rental car to a parking lot in Falmouth just around sunset, and I was feeling a bit sorry for myself to return to Pandora sans Christopher, we found that the local liquor store was having a tasting of French wines hosted by a French importer who lives on St. Martin.  It was a very nice distraction to an evening I was dreading!  All in all a wonderful last day on Antigua.

The next day we sailed about 50 miles to the pretty harbor of Deshaies on Guadeloupe.  Here is a bit of what we do when we have a long day at sea.  Bob fishes!  This time I was quite lucky that he caught a small tuna!  It’s no fun at all when he catches a king mackerel, and hardly fun when he catches a giant mahi mahi because we have to deal with a very large fish on a rather small boat!  This tuna was perfect for our appetites and our size boat!

3-22-17a 128

I worked on my orange linen sweater while we were underway, which sometimes includes winding a ball of yarn (Shibui linen) on the steering wheel.

3-22-17b 003

At mid-afternoon we arrived in Deshaies.  It was wonderful to be back in the land of French food.  There are plenty of tourists here, but also a big fleet of local fisherman.  The next morning we were given a first hand view of fishing with a purse seine right behind Pandora.

First the men dropped the net in a wide circle between Pandora and the boat behind us.  One of the crew jumped overboard wearing his shorts and t-shirt and snorkeling gear.  Perhaps he was checking on how the net was laying before the rest of the crew began drawing in the purse.  3-22-17b 006

As the crew began to draw in the circle of net at the water’s surface, the diver stayed at the opening.  We are guessing that by being there, he discourages any fish from trying to escape at the opening of the net.

3-22-17b 019

The crew began drawing in both the perimeter of the net on the surface as well as the purse at the bottom to trap the fish.  As the net closed more I could tell that this was very hard work. In fact, once both the top and bottom of the net was closed, the diver got back on board to help pull it in.

3-22-17b 026

There is a pelican inside the net, helping himself to a bit of the catch.

3-22-17b 031

It was a good catch! My friend Maureen (Kalunamoo) told me that these fish get fried in strips and served like French fries.  I have not seen this yet in any restaurants. But, when we were ashore yesterday, we came back to our dinghy to find several pelicans diving right around the dinghy dock and three dead fish in our dinghy, just like the fish in the net.  There must have been a school of them being chased by larger fish and some jumped right into our dingy to escape certain death from the big fish– only to find themselves stuck in our dinghy.  Out of the fire and into the frying pan, as the saying goes….

3-22-17b 038

Experienced cruisers in this area, including Bill and Maureen from Kalunamoo, have told us that once you get to Antigua the islands just get more and more beautiful as you head south.  It’s hard for me to imagine this!  Both Antigua and Guadeloupe are so charming and scenic and dramatic with their ancient volcanic mountains–how can it get better?  I guess I will have to wait and see.

Posted in knitting, sailing, travel, yarn | Leave a comment

Daily Routines aboard Pandora

It’s Sunday morning here in Antigua, and it’s the first day of Daylight Savings Time on the US East Coast, so now we’ll be in sync with our family and friends.  No DST here in the islands.

I’ve got a load of wash going in our washing machine.  It’s been going and not going for about two hours now.  We keep losing power to our generator which is the only way the washing machine can run when we are not tied to shore power.  We are almost never tied to shore power, so we need our washing machine to work on the generator.  Bob has spent all morning trying to figure what might be wrong with the generator.  Meanwhile, I am beginning to worry that our sheets may not get on the bed by tonight if they end up hanging out to dry during the afternoon squalls that blow through here.  I like to have the sheets dry before noon, and now they may not even be out of the washing machine by noon!

During this time Bob is also washing the cockpit with fresh water and a brush–think swabbing decks from the old days!  I’m down below, out of the sun.  I’ve finished writing some emails and am turning my attention to an orange linen sweater that I set aside some months ago.

The yarn is Shibui linen, made of several very fine linen threads cabled together.  I chose an orange that is bright–but not too bright–like a happy pumpkin.  I am making a light weight, top-down, A-line, simple pullover.  How’s that for a lot of adjectives strung together?  The pattern is by Cynthia Parker, and I got the pattern and the yarn from Churchmouse Yarns.  Churchmouse is my absolute favorite online newsletter about knitting.  They send it out several times a month. They have such a great sense of style in their newsletters, and I always want whatever they feature, even tea and Emma Bridgewater pottery!  In reality, I can only afford to buy things they have on sale.  This color of Shibui linen was discontinued, and I think I was lucky to get enough to make the pullover.

4-IMG_3228

Here is the finished sweater as shown on the Churchmouse website.  I have adjusted my version to make it more A-line, to nix the pockets since they would not actually be useable on such lightweight fabric, and to add a bit of length to the sleeves.

Later when I knuckle down to knitting for the afternoon, I will plug in to my earbuds and listen to The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon when you live on a boat and want to stay out of the tropical sun.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon anywhere. I loved her book The Art Forger, so I have great hopes for enjoying this one too,

I have made some progress on my small Portuguese Man of War tapestry.  I am not feeling at all confident about my decisions on depicting this creature who got badly blown off course and into our path near Palm Beach, Florida, a couple of years ago.  The water in the harbor near the dock was definitely not clean enough for this ocean going invertebrate.  It was already showing signs of ill health when we came upon it.  It was during a time when I kept stumbling on Portuguese Man of Wars (Men of War?), and I was thinking they might be in my path every year.  But this ailing one was the last I have seen since then.

I warped a small loom which means as I weave I need to advance the warp and pull some of it around to the back.  Not being able to see the entire piece at once is giving me lots of qualms.  If I don’t like it in the end, at least it has given me plenty of hours of creative problem solving and enjoyment weaving.

I’m going to try to show most of what I’ve done by putting the separate photos of the front and back as close together as possible.  It’s the first time I’m seeing it too.  Unfortunately there is a bit missing — the part that is going around the copper pipe.

IMG_3213

IMG_3215

As luck would have it, I began to realize I would run out of the darkest green/blue the first year that I had this onboard.  We were still in Florida, and I was able to mail order the yarn from my local embroidery shop at home, in Connecticut.  The package was sent to Marathon in the Keys, and I got it delivered to a marina there.  Now, fast forward two years, and I am running out of the medium shade of green/blue.  Bad luck!–and yet a pretty common occurrence for me.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to judge how much I need to do a project.  And now I’m in a place where mail would not reach me until sometime well after I returned home!–possibly not even this year!

I tried looking on websites, including Amazon, to see if I could get this yarn sent to my son in California, who will be arriving for a visit mid-week.  No luck with expedited shipping from any of the websites I checked.  It’s a good thing I am weaving this small piece with an easily available embroidery thread, mostly DMC cotton floss.  The thread I am almost out of is DMC floss #502.  In the long run I used my local embroidery store yet again. I called them on our international cell phone for only $.02 per minute (that would be T-Mobile). They were willing to send the yarn 2-day priority mail to California, and Chris will now bring it with him.  Problem solved!  It’s amazing how often this happens to me, and even more amazing how often I am able to solve the problem!

One year I forgot to bring any tapestry bobbins!  I was in St. Mary’s, Georgia, before I even got out my tapestry gear and noticed the missing bobbins.  A wonderful friend in Virginia, packed up five of her bobbins and sent them to me in St. Mary’s.  By the time I stop sailing, I think I’ll have a treasure trove of stories of missing items that I need to keep sane and how these dilemmas were solved–good friends being at the top of the list for jumping in to assist.

Before I left in January, I’d been through rather a roller coaster of family events.  A friend of mine sent me a package of goodies with cards, and the note that was attached read: “It’s a testament to the cycle of life that in one package I am sending you congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter, sympathy for the loss of your mother, and a birthday greeting as well.”  How true….it was a crazy month in which all that happened.  In the package was a kit for a beaded bracelet that I had admired my friend wearing back during the holidays.  With red and green crystals, it was very festive for Christmas, and so sparkly!  A couple of days ago, I sat down to make the bracelet, which thank heaven was easy enough for a non-beader like me.  It took me longer to search for the beading needles I could swear I brought with me, give up on that, and then search for the finest embroidery needles I had onboard, than it did to make that bracelet.  Voila!

IMG_3223

2-IMG_3224

We go ashore almost every day, and now that we’ve been here three weeks (due to very high winds), it has begun to feel that there is nothing new left to do ashore.  But it’s still a very different place than home, and there is always some little something that we haven’t seen before.  This week it was a donkey tethered to the town dinghy dock.  It had such a sweet disposition, just chillin’ while she waited for her owner.

3-12-17a 025

And the sight of a phalaenopsis orchid growing on a tree near the restaurant where we celebrated Bill Woodroofe’s birthday (as in Bill and Maureen of Kalunamoo).

3-12-17a 003

Here’s Bill opening a present just after we sat to down to lunch at Catherine’s.  What a spot! — an elegant dining room, open right onto the beach in Falmouth Harbor.  The chef is French, and so far it was the best meal I’ve had this winter.  So, I know you are dying to what I had for that best lunch of the winter —  Tuna tartare with a wonderful mango sauce to start, and then a lobster salad that was so tender I almost didn’t believe it was Caribbean lobster.  Yum! That empty glass in front of Bill was a Rum Ti, something I’d never heard of before.  It is white rum with cane syrup and lime juice.  He loves them!

IMG_3217

Many days we play with our little mouse, Louis, who came to us in St. Martin, via Denmark.  I made him a couple of books to read when he gets left onboard alone.

IMG_3216

This may be proof that I am losing my marbles.  Maybe it’s just what anyone would resort to if confined in small quarters for too long.  Like prison? (I am remembering a quip I once heard that ‘sailing is like being confined to a prison cell, with the added posibility of drowning.)  Well, maybe, but this is considerably better than prison.  Louis really belongs to our granddaughter Tori, but I cannot give him to her until she is a bit older.  So, in the meantime, he is living with us, and we figured we should document his adventures and perhaps even write a little book for her about his travels and adventures.  I would much rather have drawings or watercolors as illustrations, but since I cannot do that, I am taking photos.  I have to do what I can.

Here is Louis playing in the garden. (Okay, so it’s really just a small vase of local flowers…please don’t tell him!)

3-IMG_3226

And Bob gave him some instruction in the use of our VHF and SSB radios.  He likes electronics.

3-12-17a 001

Quiet time onboard seems very different than at home.  There are simply less distractions, at least for me.  Bob is very busy whacking moles these days, so I’m not sure he has much quiet time.  During mine I have had some very productive creative thoughts about what direction I might take on a number of projects that I have left at home as well as on projects that I have in mind for the future.  I have made some notes for my large Portuguese Man of War tapestry and am looking forward to starting that!  It will make use of different techniques and skills that I have picked up over the years, and some of these have nothing to do with tapestry.  I hope this project will be a successful blend of techniques that I’ve used over many years.  It’s time to bring such things together in one statement.  Or so I hope.

I’ve also thought about the little book about Louis.  I wonder if I can use Photoshop to turn some our photos into more interesting images that evoke drawing or watercolor.  This might be cheating, but I’d like to do the book entirely myself and I really want something simpler than photography to illustrate it.

And then there are the sights each day brings here.  I’ve complained a LOT about the wind for the past weeks.  I should balance that with some photos of wonderful things that also define this place.  We have a rainbow almost everyday, and sometimes two!  And one time we had three rainbows in one day. Of course this happens because there are so many squalls!  You gotta take the good with bad.  Here’s one from this week–can you see the very faint double rainbow on the outer right?

3-12-17a 007

We hardly ever sleep through the night.  Who does, at our age?  But above and beyond the call of nature that wakes both of us in the night, there are the squalls that come through.  Since I sleep on the outer edge of our pullman berth, I am the one who gets up to close all the hatches when I hear the rain start….every night.  And I am the one who gets up again to re-open all the hatches once the rain has passed.  We always need the breeze. I should note that most nights have several squalls, so not a lot of sleep is going on for me.  Too bad these squalls don’t coincide with that other reason for getting up.

Bob often gets up to check all the other things that might be cause for alarm in the night.  Mostly these are odd sounds or odd feelings.  Are we dragging?  Is the anchor chain chafing?  He got a beautiful shot of the moon setting over the western hills of the harbor this week during one of his wake up calls.

3-12-17a 016

And then there is dawn…a new and beautiful one every day. And sunsets like this one.

3-12-17a 029

So that’s how we spend our days.  The sheets are dry on the line now, and the towels are ready to be hung up on our make shift laundry line.  I’d better get to it. Then I’ve got a good book calling to me and a bit of knitting.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A Day at the Cricket Match

Well, who knew I’d ever be talking about cricket–me, the obsessive weaver/knitter and somewhat reluctant sailor will now spend a few words on cricket.  We were given tickets to the West Indian/English cricket match here on Antigua.  Antigua has spent a fortune on a modern stadium for this sport so the locals must love this game.  They have chosen having a stadium over having better water or sewage systems on the island, and certain over having good roads.  Who am I to say what’s more important?

3-6-17a 066

Lucky for us that two very nice Englishmen were seated in front of us, who were willing to explain the game and give us some background on cricket.  It’s a long game.  We arrived over an hour after the start and still saw most of the first half, in which the West Indian team was batting.  By the end of that half they had scored 258 points.

3-6-17a 061

I know these photos don’t do justice to the action.  All I can say is that I’ve never seen anyone run as fast all these men do!  It was more exciting than watching the Olympics just to see them run and catch balls.  They can catch anything!

I wish I had a photo of our English cricket tutors.  They were both dressed so perfectly shabby/chic in their rumpled linen shirts and khaki shorts, finished off with panama hats and shabby boat shoes.  Their diction was also perfectly Queen’s English.  I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn they are both barristers, or maybe even earls.  Enchanting gentlemen…

The spectators were very well dressed.  This has to be quite a big social event for the locals.  And during the breaks you could buy all kinds of food–or get your face painted!

3-6-17a 090

We left about 4 pm, even though there was more than an hour left in the game.  Because the game is played in two halves, with only one team able to score during its own half, we have no way to know who won.  Maybe we can find out from a local when we get ashore later. You do really do have to stay for the whole 8 hours!

Life aboard continues as ever.  More of our acquaintances have arrived in the harbor so we’ve had several nice get togethers. As you can see our numbers are growing.  It’s hard to all congregate on one boat so we’ve moved on to larger venues on shore.

3-6-17a 099

Each day brings it own chores, just like home anywhere.  The last week was focused on fixing broken things aboard Pandora, and Bob has made some great headway on those things.  We are still waiting for some kind of power supply for the SSB, and then that repair will be finished.  Our friends on Kalunamoo came into Falmouth yesterday with a broken windlass.  You may remember what that is from a couple weeks back when ours died as well.  It’s the thing that pulls up the anchor since a hundred or more feet of chain is way too much for a mere human to handle.  It’s important.  When it breaks it’s time to get on that project right away.

This morning we have been busy making water and doing two loads of laundry.  I hope to get out my small tapestry by noon.  Tori’s little sailor sweater is finished and almost ready for giving when I see her at Easter.  I hope her parents will like it enough to have her wear it through the spring and on cool summer nights.

1-IMG_3211

I almost took a photograph of all our laundry hanging out to dry, but then thought better of it!  Here’s a photo of what Bob has to do to get anything out of our freezer for dinner.  “You want the WHAT??? Honey, that’s at the very bottom!”

IMG_3205

Our younger son Chris arrives next Wednesday to spend almost a week with us in English Harbor on Antigua.  March and April are big months in the Osborn family.  Both Rob and Kandice have birthdays in March–Rob’s is this Wednesday!  Where does the time go??  In between Rob’s and Kandice’s birthdays, little Tori will turn three months old!  I haven’t seen her in a month now and she is changing rapidly, as babies do.  Luckily Rob and Kandice send us new photos of her almost every day.

Here she is looking very glam in her shades!

IMG_1042

And this was taken yesterday.  For almost a month now she has been standing up while holding on to Mom or Dad.  It appears she may be as precocious as her daddy was at that age.  I’m enjoying remembering Rob’s babyhood through Tori, but I know that Tori’s mom and dad are in for wild ride ahead! She started doing this just after turning 2 months old.

IMG_1066

Chris’s birthday with be next month, just before Easter.  So much to celebrate, and we are too far away to do it properly!

Time to finish sewing that last seam in Tori’s sailor sweater and then get out my loom…. maybe Bob will find out who won the cricket match while he is ashore using the internet to order some more things for Pandora.

Posted in family, holiday, knitting, tapestry | 2 Comments

Pinned down in Falmouth, Antigua

We are back in Falmouth Harbor on Antigua, which is only a short walk to the very pretty English Harbor where the ambience of 18th c. British naval history is well preserved.  We are back here because Bob decided to call in the professionals to whack the mole that is playing havoc with our SSB.  It turns out that the mole won this round; the SSB is dead.  At the moment there are no new ones available for shipment from the US, so we wait.

Meanwhile, to bide time, Bob met a rigger name Bishop yesterday, and after watching him make some soft shackles, Bob asked if he would be willing to teach us how to do it.  They made a date for Bob to bring Bishop out to Pandora right after work.  I thought I’d stay out of their way (not that easy on a boat!), but Bob thought I’d enjoy learning along with him.  And he was right!  A soft shackle is a bit of rigging that is one of the strongest things ever….way stronger than a typical shackle.  What a little bit of wonder–and Bishop is a good teacher!

2-28-17a 050

First you make the splice, then with the two ends that come out of the splice you make a knot that ends up looking a bit like a small Turk’s head.

2-28-17a 067

I practiced this little bit of splicing and knot tying about five times yesterday to make sure I learned it.  Today I’m not so sure I can do it again–I’d better keep practicing.  I’m fascinated by it!  I think there must be some wonderful use for this in kumihimo.  I have lots of time to ponder this, and then I can try a few ideas when I get home.

2-28-17 004

While we are back here in Falmouth for repairs and waiting out some strong weather, we went to dinner Sunday night at the beautiful Pillars resort.  I did get my G&T under the canopy in the garden that overlooks English Harbor.  It’s even prettier at dusk!

2-28-17a 032

There was a bougainvillea that had been trimmed into small shrub right near my leg, and a little hummingbird was flitting all around it.  He was not in the least concerned about my proximity.  He has a little crested head and from certain angles his crest is a brilliant, tropical green.  What a sight!

2-28-17a 015

As dusk fell we began to hear very sharp tweets from what we thought were little birds that were starting to settle down for the night in the trees above us.  But instead of settling down, the tweets became louder and more like sharp shrieks.  It turns out there are lots of big tree frogs here that are quite loud.  I’m glad we can’t hear them out on Pandora.  There’s no sleeping when these things are calling.

After dinner we took a walk around English Harbor…as pretty at night as it is during the day.

2-28-17a 034

2-28-17a 043

Today is very unsettled with passing squalls that disrupt the bright blue skies and puffy white clouds that are sailing by in these high winds.  The squalls darken the whole sky and send down horizontal deluges of water.  In the midst of the quickly changing weather we happened to see a rainbow right behind Pandora!  I have never seen both ends of a rainbow before!  What a thrill!  Shouldn’t there be two pots of gold?

2-28-17a 071

P.S. It’s now afternoon.  I have answered emails and made two two soft shackles for practice. Bob went ashore to consult with Arrougoo, our electronics repair guy, and while there he went to the rigger and bought some finer spectra ‘dyneemo’ line for me to try.

Both of these were supposed to be bracelets, but as you can see I made some miscalculations on measuring the materials for the first one.  It is way to small for a bracelet, yet too big for a ring.  Voila!  A belt for Louis the sailor mouse.  He really wanted a nautical belt.  So, now I know that I must measure 4x’s the length of what the finished item should be. I now also know that the knot is called a stopper knot.  Here is the first bracelet, along with little Louis and his new belt.

IMG_3208

 

 

Posted in kumihimo, sailing, travel | 1 Comment

Photos of English Harbor, Antigua

Those of you who know me know that I love taking photos of doors and windows, especially if they are festooned with lace or flowers or vines.  That’s the first thing I want to see whenever we go ashore.  I’ve seen a good deal of lace curtains blowing in open windows over the past week.

We had to get out of St. Barths earlier than we would have liked due to strong westerly winds that made the harbor quite unpleasant.  Before we left a number of boats had already dragged anchor, and two in particular had tangled their anchors and lines with other boats.  This took place in the very dark hours after midnight when these types of calamities always choose to happen.  Murhpy’s Law on boats, don’t know you.

The pre-dawn departure to sail to Antigua that day was no fun, although I’m certain that Bob enjoyed it, especially the part when several of the Caribbean 600 contenders crossed our path–flying spinnakers no less.

2-22-17a 051

At one point during the journey, when I was fighting a moderate case of mal de mer, I could hear all the cans and jars in our pantry crashing back and forth, and the pots in pans in the cabinets doing the same.  Can you imagine taking your house out in to the elements and letting your possessions get bashed around for a few hours every few days?  That’s one of the main reasons that sailing is an endless game of ‘whack a mole.’  Everything keeps getting bashed about until it breaks.

Anyway, we are safe and sound in Antigua now, and here are some scenes from English Harbor. Lord Nelson was here for a number of years, and these buildings were here then as well. There is a small but well curated museum dedicated to Lord Nelson, that we enjoyed–no photos this time.

We had lunch in this historic building that is now a hotel and restaurant, and were underwhelmed by our meal after a couple of weeks of food in the French islands.  However, I think that English food is unfairly maligned–we just had a bout of bad luck.  I’m sure we’ll have other great meals ashore here….we just didn’t pick the best place yesterday–charming spot though!

2-22-17a 087

English Harbor is charming, isn’t it?–although life here in the 18th century certainly had a dark side. On one of the placards at the Nelson Museum I read that 40,000 English soldiers died on this island (over how many years?–the placard didn’t say) from minor things like heat stroke and similar maladies, often brought on from wearing layers of wool clothing in a tropical climate.  I couldn’t help think about the women and their corsets and their own layers of undergarments.   This is part of the customs and immigration offices, where we checked in.

2-22-17a 081

The quaint building on the left is still in use as sail loft.  I don’t know how long it has been in use because there is an even older site where a sail loft used to be.  Next door is the even quainter building, with its whitewashed walls, cedar roof and pretty blue shutters. It is a shop full of carved wooden fish and turtles for sale and a good amount of pottery.  The fish were very tempting, but we didn’t buy one.  How to choose?

2-22-17a 068

These columns used to support a building that housed another sail loft, in use during Nelson’s time.  Now the columns have been restored to enhance a beautiful garden setting for a local resort and restaurant.  I’m definitely giving this place a try in the next few days. I am confident the meal will be as memorable as the setting….

2-22-17a 092

…starting with cocktails right here!  I will have to have something thoroughly English, like a Pimm’s Cup or a G&T.  Bring it on!

2-22-17a 096

With our friends Maureen and Bill (from Kalunamoo), we walked out to one of the promontories on this end of the island.  There are a couple of defunct cannon here from the distant past when this harbor needed protection.  I wonder if this tree was sapling back then.

2-22-17a 099

Walking back into the village I caught our friends and Bob stopping along a beautiful walled garden.

2-22-17a 111

Yesterday we moved to Nonsuch Bay, and today has been a day of household chores.  Bob has been busy ‘whacking’ the SSB mole, with no success, and I did two loads of laundry.  In this climate the first load dried, flapping in the breeze on our makeshift laundry line at the back of our cockpit, by the time the second load was finished.  I do love having a washing machine onboard….one less thing to search for on shore.

Now that the laundry is done I think I will spend a little time on embroidery while sitting on the shady side of the cockpit.

Posted in sailing, travel | 1 Comment