The Queen Bee’s Excellent Vacation Adventure

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Me and the Kids … 1991-ish

When I was younger and had three little kids, life was busy. I loved being responsible for the care and feeding of three little humans (It was the best job I’ve ever had!) and I sometimes tried to imagine what life would be after they flew the nest … less laundry, less cooking, less busy. One of the things we all liked best was going to the beach with my mother (GranJan).

I used to pack up the “mommy van” (yes, it had wood paneled sides) with three little kids and drive from Central Ohio to Connecticut and then on to Rhode Island. They loved staying in a cheap Knights Inn somewhere in the middle of the trip. They “hated” Pennsylvania because it took such a long time to drive through. But the drive was always worth it when we got to the beach. All of the kids spent every summer there until about the year 1999 or 2000. Since they spent more years there, my girls have a greater connection to the place. The girls have returned to visit or drive through a few times. Kate met Heather at the beach. Her family owned a home there until about ten years ago. She had visited at the beach with Heather a couple of times and, as facts would have it, even slept in the house that I rented.

Anyway … we planned for a week in the late season and as it turned out the timing was perfect. The house was perfect and well equipped. The original part of the cottage was built in the late 1800s. It has a living/dining room, kitchen, a couple of bedrooms and a bath but over the years, we figure, they added on bit by bit. Now there are three bedrooms and two baths in the main house and another two bedrooms and two baths in the new addition. There was plenty of space for all of us and room for another family, too. The kids and their significant others and their dogs all had space to live comfortably for a week. And we did!

The Nest with a Handsome Visitor at the Door
The Perch (the new addition)

We spent a lot of time outside. It’s an easy walk to “sea glass” beach or the “kiddie” beach and we enjoyed both. Since it was after the season, we were able to enjoy the beaches with the dogs and alone. We looked, but there is not much sea glass at “sea glass” beach these days.

We spent enough time at the beach to get a good dose of sunburn and that felt really great! We also spent a lot of time in the yard. We had a nice patio and yard with a grill and picnic table or two where we could enjoy the view of the ocean from the house and some smores.

Ahh! A View of the Ocean

We ate well, we stayed up late, we played fun games and had a puzzle-palooza competition. We filled the recycling container more than once with La Croix seltzer cans, wine and beer bottles. We visited Watch Hill for ice cream cones, peach, of course, and a bit of shopping. We had some trouble finding a place that was open for lobster rolls but we found a brewery in Westerly that had a great summer ale for $10 a case.

And my heart is full.

Nothing makes this mom happier than being with my kids. We haven’t spent time like this together for a long, long time. We think the last time we were at the beach was twenty-two years ago, plus or minus a year or two. I’m not sure that we’ve all been anywhere together for a week since then, actually. We’ve had weekends here and there, we’ve had some of us together (during the first pandemic summer) for a week or two, but not all of my kids for a week all together. The pile of shoes left at the front door was life affirming. The laughter around the fire pit was, too.

I am so grateful to have been able to spend this vacation with my three kids, two husbands, a girlfriend, my sweet, patient husband and our seven dogs. We had a great visit with my aunt and uncle who came all the way from Lake Tahoe to visit with our family and we had a visit from a summer camp friend who happened to be at the next beach over on business. It was, in a word, good!

I’ll forever be grateful to have been able to do this with my kids. Spending time together, reconnecting, getting to see their relationships, getting to know their significant others better. It was a walk down memory lane and a memory-making vacation that we all enjoyed. AND we are already planning our vacation for next year!

I have been knitting … more on that later!

Gone knitting.

I Learned Something About Loons

You know (don’t you?) that I live on a beautiful lake in Central Maine. We are very fortunate to have a thriving loon population despite the crazy boaters that have caused nests to fail (one year we had two lost eggs on the same nest).

This year, the loon pair nearest to our house had two chicks. They nested on a nesting platform that has been built by our lake association (and is in need of some work). Loons don’t walk on land well. Their legs are located farther back on their bodies than other waterfoul and their bones aren’t hollow like other birds. Loons sit low in the water and are very heavy so nesting is a challenge for them. Regardless, our pair had two eggs and hatched two chicks. We watch them like hawks … and I’m not kidding about that at all. Hawks and eagles and other animals prey on baby loons. They become “my” chicks every year. My neighbors feel the same way.

Two chicks on the adult’s back (photo cottagelife.com)

This year, we have all enjoyed watching the twins with their parents until there was only one twin. My heart was broken that we seemed to have lost one of our sweet chicks. But our local lake tour guy, and a friend of mine who sits on the lake association board of trustees with me, texted me about the “missing” chick that he hadn’t seen for five days. He reached out to another board member who just happens to be our resident nature guy and loon expert. Here’s the skinny …

Feeding the chick (photo birdsoftheworld.org)

Our loon is healthy and well and living in pseudo-captivity for the next few weeks in Massachusetts. And this is the gist of what I’ve learned. There is an organization here in Maine called Biodiversity Research Institute and they’re authorized to move loons (after they’re big enough to feed themselves but before they are able to fly) to Massachusetts to translocate loons in an effort to restore the common loon to an area where they’d disappeared. This is what’s happening to our loon. He or she is helping the loon population to grow in another place. And the BRI program has been very successful over the past several years. This is loon conservation at it’s finest! (Read about the success of the program here!)

More good news … Our remaining loon (and the loon that was translocated) has a significantly better chance of surviving to adulthood. Feeding two chicks is a huge job for the adults. Feeding one chick is a big job. This way, since loons don’t count very well, the adults will be feeding their remaining chick well and they’ll all three be healthier and more prepared calorically for their flight in the near future to the coast. Our loons will winter over in the harbors off the coast of Maine and then in the spring after ice out, our adult pair will return to the lake. The young chick will remain on the ocean for a couple of years before flying “back home” to find a mate. The translocated chick will be fed minnows for a few more weeks and when he/she is ready, will be released on a lake in Massachusetts. That baby loon will fly to the coast from it’s new home in MA. Baby loons navigate “home” based on their first flight.

I am delighted to report that our baby loon is going to be a positive helper in the future wellbeing of the common loon. This kind of program has also helped to bring back Ospreys, Eagles, and other animals. There is currently a program that is working to bring turkeys from Maine to Texas where there used to be a lot of them. (We have tons of them in Maine!)

There you have it! I was so excited that I needed to share.

Gone knitting.

I Saw Live Theater!

The Sound of Music at the MUNY

I was fortunate to be able to sneak away for a couple of days to Saint Louis, Missouri to see my eldest daughter star as Maria in the Sound of Music at the MUNT theater. Wow! What a venue! This theater can (and does) hold 11,000 people and it was full even on closing night in the heat!

The performance was incredible! I was so proud of all the hard work that this cast did to bring the show to the stage in just a few short days. Six performance in an outdoor venue in the heat of the St. Lewis summer. Can you imagine wearing a wig and two layers of costumes (one of them a nun’s black habit) in 80 or 90 or 100 degree heat and 100% humidity? It was difficult enough to sit in the audience in the heat! There were, obviously, a bunch of kids in the performance and Missouri is having a COVID surge so their safety and health was a huge concern and the MUNY did a phenomenal job. Everyone stayed healthy for the three weeks that the cast was in rehearsal and doing the show.

And because my kid was in the performance, can I please mention how incredibly proud I am of her. Kate has worked so hard to get into and stay in this business. She makes what she does look effortless … kind of like the best athletes, gymnasts, and yes, knitters. I know that it’s not as easy as she makes it look and I really admire her talent and determination, her persistence, too. She’s incredible and she was the best Maria yet. (There, I said it!)

This trip was also a bit of a reunion with a dear Cincinnati friend! She grew up in St. Louis and was a wonderful tour guide. We picked up where we left off way too many years ago.It was wonderful. We were able to see the Sound of Music twice in the two evenings that we were there. We found a downpour when we tried to meet with my daughter and her husband for coffee and ended up making a quick exit to the car. We spent a lot of time in the incredible park that houses the theater and was the model for Central Park in New York City. What a phenomenal resource for the citizens of St. Louis!

Friends!

I’ll just be over here recovering from all the fun, late hours, lots of chatting and catching up!

Look at me, writing twice in two days! LOL! Gone knitting.

Adjusting. Change.

This will be the first month that I’ve missed knitting a pair of socks (or two) in almost two years. It’s been an extraordinarily busy month and it’s been really stressful.

Our refrigerator wasn’t keeping the ice cream frozen so we put a call into the technician we’ve used and he said it’s more than likely the condenser is shot. He advised us to buy a new refrigerator. Despite the LG people saying it takes a couple of hours (if you can find a technician who will come to service it – we’ve tried five, none of which can do anything for at least 3-4 weeks) the technicians all say it’s almost a full day’s work. LG will pay for the part under warranty but we have to pay for the service … guess what? It’s probably not worth it. Never mind that by the time someone can come to fix it our food will be gone. Ugh. So, we bought a new fridge and installed it ourselves because they couldn’t deliver for a week either. Ugh.

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The new fridge on the doorstep … yes, the old one is in the driveway still!

I’ve been driving a 2007 Camry since it was a new car. It was wonderful in suburbia but it’s not as wonderful on rural Maine camp roads. We’ve been talking about buying me a new one and we went out for our initial hunt last week. There isn’t much to see … not too many new or used cars are available and there’s not a lot of hope for a different situation into 2022 because of computer chips that aren’t readily available. Anywhoo … we found a RAV 4 that we thought was a good match for us and gave the dealership a deposit and it was supposed to come in at the end of the month. I was on my way to work last Thursday and saw it on the back of a car carrier truck and then got a call from the dealership that it was in if we wanted to test drive it. Suffice it to say, we pulled together all of our pennies and bought me a new car.

Meanwhile, my brother and sister-in-love in MA called me to talk about my remaining Little, Lola. I knew that she was close to the end of her life and that she wasn’t thriving but I was blind to the truth that she had no real quality of life and certainly no joy. My wonderful family offered to come to Maine to have a look and see how she was doing and, if I wanted to, to euthanize her. As I thought about it all last week, I knew she was ready. I wasn’t and would never be if I am totally honest. She was disoriented, her back legs weren’t’ working and she often fell down, she wasn’t able to get outside to do her business and she kept getting “stuck” around the house. She wasn’t comfortable.

Lola died peacefully at home on Sunday morning with all of us loving her. I will always remember her like this. She was such a wonderful girl. She was my heart animal and I absolutely adored her. She was almost literally attached to my right hip for the past 15 years. Life is horribly out of balance without her. To have lost both of my beloved Littles in six months is crushing. I am so grateful to have had them both in my life for so long and selfishly I wish it could have been longer. But even another year or five years wouldn’t have been enough. I still wouldn’t have been ready to say goodbye. I already miss her more than I could have imagined.

I’m knitting and it’s my time-filler now as well as being something to focus on in this difficult time. I’ve been working to finish the Gallbladder Shawl for my daughter’s birthday (that is this weekend) and I may get it finished but I doubt that I can get it blocked and delivered in time. But that will have to be ok this year. I think she’ll understand. I have a Christmas stocking up next for a sweet friend/customer and a list of future knits to follow that. I have to finish a sweater that has been languishing … I need to pick up the stitches around the neck and down the second side and knit four rows for the button bands and then knit the sleeves. It’s SO close.

For now, I’m giving myself grace around everything as I learn to live without my four-legged companion. My husband and I were talking over coffee this morning and saying that we are each missing the habits or patterns that our little family has been living with all these years. We look for her in her spot, I walk downstairs at bedtime with empty arms, there’s nobody to take outside first thing in the morning or last thing at night. So we will continue to be grateful that she’s at rest and we will create new habits/patterns to fill in those holes where the Littles are missing. We loved them so.

Gone knitting.

Gifts of Art

We have had a very busy last week, filled with guests and puppies and gifts of art.

I was at a board of trustees meeting on Wednesday night when I got a text from a high school friend. A very dear high school friend. She and her husband were coming to visit.

Back in the day, we had perused the Sunday paper for vans to buy and convert so we could go camping together when we were 17. Sharon and her husband just bought their camper van and we’re coming to park in our yard.

What a blast! We spent the better part of two days reconnecting and connecting with each other’s husbands. And I didn’t take a single photo of us. But they signed our guest book and Chuck left is this beautiful gift of art.

Our shore by Chuck Cornellis

A gift of art is a personal, thoughtful, almost intimate gift. We were touched and moved. and we can’t wait to get together again. As Chuck said, it could have been really uncomfortable and he had never met us. Sharon and I haven’t spent significant time together since 1976 and a lot can change in that long. But it wasn’t difficult or uncomfortable. It was wonderful. Time flew by and I’m still smiling.

Yesterday my sweetie and I took a walk down the road. Our blackberries are ripening and in the mailbox was a second gift of art. My little cousin sent a beautiful picture thanking me for “magic towels.” You’ve seen them, I’m sure. Little discs that when placed in water, expand to be a little cotton washcloth, often with a picture of something. These were Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Thanks by Penelope

I love art made by children. It’s so pure ans expressive and Penelope is an artist. Her dad said she was very excited about me getting her picture. I was excited to find it in my mailbox.

Both fabulous pieces of art will be proudly displayed at our house. We are grateful.

Gone knitting.

Our First (Post Pandemic) Car Trip

We always have trouble leaving home (and we were both a little cranky packing on Thursday night) but we really wanted to see N’s eldest daughter’s “new” home in suburban DC. So … off we went on Friday morning. Traffic was HORRIBLE and turned a 7-8 hours trip to southern New Jersey and our stop for the first night into 11 1/2 hours. It was a long day but it afforded us to get a glimpse of the new Tappanzee/Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge and wave toward my three kiddos in New York City. I finished N’s birthday socks and he’s happy about them. Thank you Yankee Knitter for the wonderful pattern. We were traveling with our dogs and have always liked staying at LaQuinta Hotels that are dog friendly (dogs stay for free!) Cheers at the end of the day in plastic hotel cups and a nearby restaurant for to-go food eaten in the hotel.

Day two we made it to Maryland early (it was only a couple of hours to Robin’s house.) As is my habit, I completely forgot to take photographs of the kids or their house or their cats who were mostly invisible. I mentioned that we traveled with our dogs, right? Needless to say, though, we had a wonderful time!

Part two was three days with the kids and adventures in the Greater Washington, DC area. N lived here as a young child and my grandparents are buried here. Go figure. A walk down memory lane led us to Oak Hill Cemetery where my Rockwell family is buried. Oak Hill is an historic cemetery and parts of it, including where my family rests, is very old.

You can’t see the names of my grandmother, Elizabeth Sheldon Dow Rockwell (June 1887 – March 1984), or my grandfather, Horace Lewis Rockwell (August 1886 – December 1942) without zooming in, but they share the side of the monument with Sarah Alice Rockwell who died at 18 months of age.

According to my family genealogy, my great-great-grandfather, Henry Ensign Rockwell (3/24/1811 – 1/22/1882) was the Secretary of the US Fish Commission. In 1867 he was a Representative in the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from Millbury. He is buried here with his second wife, Sarah Jemima Hathaway Rockwell (9/25/1824 – 2/6/1898). They were married in Boston on September 25, 1824. She lived a good long life, passing at age 73. Henry and Sarah had three children: Julius Ensign, Sarah Alice and Julia Lee all buried here. Julius and his wife Mabel Rose had two sons: Henry Ensign and Horace Lewis (my grandfather) who was a patent attorney and a Second Lieutenant in WW I. When he died, my grandmother had a “nervous breakdown” and was institutionalized at the Institute for Living in Hartford, CT. The children, my father included, were sent to live with friends of the family.

Next we were on to visit N’s special place, the Tastee Diner, that his father started in the 1940s. It has been moved from its original location but it remains very similar … including the original countertop in the diner section. Our “snack” became dinner … the dinner of champions! LOL

One of Robin’s requests was to make a pie. We ended up making a galette with fresh blueberries after a visit to a huge and wonderful Wegman’s grocery store! Galettes are so simple because you don’t need a special pan or other baking utensils. A little flour, sugar and butter, add fruit and voila! I hope she’ll try to make another galette when her mom visits!

Too soon we were back on the road back home and leg three of our trip. This time through Hartford, CT and the LaQuinta in Windsor Locks. We visited my parents who are buried at the Fairview Cemetery in West Hartford. The last time I visited the area was for my 40th high school reunion and I couldn’t find the plot. I’ve decided that I have to claim having the very worst sense of direction of any human on this planet. Thankfully, my sweet husband has a good sense of direction and we did manage to find them this time!

We had dinner with two dear high school friends on Tuesday night in Windsor, CT. The only time I remember visiting the Windsor area was to go to the airport but it’s a lovely area and there are some wonderful sculptures. It was a wonderful reunion.

Wednesday morning we got up early again and headed to East Cemetery in Manchester where I needed to find my grandmother Barnard who was my favorite person in my family when she was alive. I have so many wonderful memories of doing things with Gram. She didn’t have a lot of money but she spent time with me and that’s what I will always treasure.

I don’t know who all the “players” in the Robb family are so I will do some research one day. But I found my grandmother, Maude Elizabeth Robb Barnard and her husband, my grandfather, Irwin Henry “Jack” Barnard. We found them first. I had assumed that Gram would be buried by her sister Ethel and was surprised to see that they’re actually at opposite ends of the cemetery.

We hunted for my great-aunt, Ethel May Robb next. Aunt Ethel was the principal at Wadsworth Elementary School in Manchester and we spent a lot of time with her, too, as children. Aunt Ethel took me on my college visits. Ethel is buried with the rest of the Robb family near the Robb Monument. I’ll assume that Josiah Robb and his wife, Eliza Jackson (?) are the parents of Ethel, Maude, Willard and Gladys. I remember Aunt Violet who I believe was married to Willard. Gladys died young and I never met her. More work to be done on this part of the family!

The last couple of days I focused on my Fine Sand Cardigan and made great progress with it. I’m closing in on the bottom of the body – woo! hoo! When we arrived at home, we found that the resident woodchucks had decimated my hollyhocks which were nearly six feet high when we left. The rubble left from them is above right. It’s war, now! They also ate every single petunia in the pot on our front steps. Grrr.

There’s no place like home!

Gone knitting!

Are you KIDDING me???

We have a “critter” in our yard. A groundhog. It’s been here for a couple of years. We’ve been tolerant … to a point. BUT today I went out to inspect the garden when I was looking for a photograph for my Facebook page and I saw this …

My flowers are JUST starting to grow and they’re chewed down to nubs. The little (not so little in actuality) is getting right over by the house and eating all my tender green perennials! Grrr! This makes me very angry. I have no problem with the critter eating all of the dandelion greens it wants (and there are a lot of them out there in the grass but NOT my garden plants!

And to add insult to injury … this is what I found INSIDE MY SHIRT when I got back inside …

Little F#%$er!

The ticks are out there. I didn’t even touch any plants!

I have an intarsia class to plan … I’ll be itchy for the rest of the day!

Gone knitting.

Another Wonderful Weekend

Last weekend we traveled out of the state of Maine for the second weekend in a row. This time we headed for Marblehead, Massachusetts and a reunion with two of my brothers and their families. (Most of them, at least.)

It was so good to hug our family!!!

Marblehead Window Box

I can’t say that I’ve gotten a whole lot of knitting done. My Daytripper is still languishing on the ottoman in my studio. It needs to have the steek fastened down on the back and I need to find some wonderful buttons. I’m going to buy some ribbon at work on Thursday for the steek cover. Buttons will probably happen on Saturday. Or early next week. It’s getting a bit close to too warm for wearing this sweater.

I started and finished the knitting on a gift for my Louisiana brother’s birthday. I can’t write about them until after they’re gifted. I’m sending the gift on to Louisiana for their last bath. More on this later. This photo is the best I can do to show you what it is … and I don’t think you’ll “get it.”

Secret Project … in Cascade 220
Kisses for Rose – Wee Wonder Woman shawl in Sisu yarn

This is our Chocolate Lab, Monk, wearing the Wee Wonder Woman shawl that I knitted for my granddaughter in France. I couldn’t send her one in red and gold. I actually bought red and gold yarn and then returned it because I needed to send her a pink one. This pink and white wool worked out perfectly. I was thrilled and I think my Rose was too. Monk is Rose’s favorite and Monk loves her. I like to think that he was sending her a big wet kiss.

A Single Sock in Patons Kroy

I have begun another knitted gift. Socks are such a great project. I love knitting socks and these are turning out really well. I like Paton’s Kroy. This is Yankee Knitter’s sock pattern. It’s my favorite pattern that I almost always go to when I knit socks. These are for a child and the slightly heavier fingering weight yarn will make these a little heavier than normal and slightly less heavy than boot socks.

Two weekends of late nights and food and adult beverages has me tired and with a full heart. I love my family so much and I hope we can get together again soon. I hadn’t really been able to spend time with them since my niece’s 30th birthday and she’ll be 32 in October (and married in November!) There is so much to be grateful for.

And then we came home to this … flowers budding and that beautiful big pool we live next to!

Gone knitting.

A Long-Awaited Visit

It’s been a long time since we’ve been able to see our family. This past weekend, we were able to travel to New York City to visit my children. We brought my mother’s piano (in a u-haul trailer) to my daughter who will USE it. We don’t use it and it’s a real shame that it just sat in the living room and wasn’t played.

On Saturday it was a gorgeous day and we walked parallel to the river with my daughters and their husbands and dogs to the weekly farmers market and to drop off their compost materials (they freeze it and then walk it to be composted every week!) My daughter’s step counter said it was more than 12,000 steps. She guesses it’s about 5 miles and the last bit was up hill. I haven’t walked five miles in forever! It was such a fun day and we completed it with a family dinner to celebrate (for the first time) my son’s 31st birthday. We were supposed to celebrate 30 last year when Covid required that we stay home.

I have been knitting! I knitted a pair of birthday socks for my son. I’ve never used this Schoppe-Wolle Das Paar sock yarn before. A customer last week bought a hank and asked that it be wound … I thought there was something wrong when it “broke” about half-way through until I realized that it was meant to happen! They made the yarn so that you get two socks that are the same! So, I had to try it and I loved it. I liked the hand (feel) of the yarn as I was knitting and the socks are exquisite! I’ve put aside two more hanks for future sock knitting.

I’ve begun a baby gift of socks for one of my daughter’s friends who had a new baby recently. The gift is socks for the boys – each the same, two-color socks (heels, toes and cuffs will be red and the body of the sock a marled gray.) I love knitting little socks! These are especially cute in my humble opinion.

When we got home I reinforced and steeked my Daytripper Cardigan. It’s thrilling to cut down the middle of a sweater and have the stitches hold. I’ve since picked up my stitches for the button bands and only have to secure the back side of the steek and find eight buttons to make the sweater wearable … just in time for warmer weather. I’ve steam blocked it to make it easier to steek but I’ll still give it a good wet block before it’s really and truly finished.

This is the beginning of my next “surprise” gift. New felted clog slippers for my LA brother. I made him a pair … I did the knitting and my sister-in-law did the felting and added the slipper soles … a bunch of years ago and they’re holey. She asked if I’d make him a new pair … we’ll handle it the same way as last time so they are felted to fit his feet (they live in Louisiana so it’s difficult to do at a distance!) This time he’s getting some LSU slippers. I decided to hold two strands of the different colors together which will make them quite different from the former pair that were dark gray or black. I hope he loves them. He’s such a LSU fan that he had a purple leather chair.

We came home on Monday to another beautiful day and the blossoms of spring in Maine. The forsythia is blooming and the rhubarb is starting to grow. It won’t be long before strawberry rhubarb jam season. My bleeding heart plant is growing so fast that I think you could actually see it growing. The daffodils are up and the birds are all traveling through … no sign yet of our hummingbirds but I’m sure they’ll be here early this year.

Life is good.

Gone knitting.

A Quick Post

Monk mid-drool

I knitted this Wee Wonder Woman wrap for my granddaughter in France. I wanted to get a photo of her favorite family member wearing the wrap before I wrapped it up to put it in the mail. This is the result of that photo shoot. Well, I have a few somewhat better pictures but this one makes me laugh. Good old Monk loves his treats and you can’t see my hubby who’s holding a treat to get Monk to focus. Needless to say, the anticipation is making him drool. And it got so bad that I had to get the wrap off of him before it got drool on the clean, blocked little shawl.

I made this little shawl with Sisu yarn. One 50g ball of each color. I made an executive decision to NOT knit this is red and gold which are very bright and not my Rosey’s colors. I think the pink and white will be perfect. I can hardly contain myself waiting to see her receive this little gift. Wonder Woman has a special significance in their family and I hope it makes her happy.

Wee Wonder Woman is a free pattern on Ravelry and requires about 50 grams of two colors of fingering weight yarn. I chose Sisu (wool and nylon blend) because I liked the pink. I followed the pattern exactly.

Gone knitting.