Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Maiden Voyage of The SS Seabed: The 'Where There's A Will There's A Way' Tour

After talking about it for two years, I finally purchased a wee kayak earlier this summer. I looked on line for a way to load it onto the top of my car to carry it. I found a good solution which involved pool noodles and ratchet straps so I went out and purchased everything I would need, then waited for a good day to go out. When I was available, it rained....or was windy. When I was at work, it was gorgeous...all....summer....long. Finally I decided this weekend was the weekend. The weather was supposed to be good and I had a couple of friends lined up to go with me.

I went out Friday night to load the kayak. I put the noodles on the car. I lifted the kayak up...and...the pool noodles fell off. I tried it again, same thing. I finally masking taped the ^&* noodles to the car and got the 30# kayak up over my head for the third time and got it settled on the foam. Now for the ratchet straps. I'd never used them before but they were pretty straight forward and I got them over the kayak and through the front and back doors and started cinching them.  Before they got anywhere near tight enough, they stopped. The ones I purchased were too big for my car and wouldn't cinch further.  I got the straps off, the kayak down, and the noodles off ,whilst practicing words I don't use often, but if there was ever an occasion to use them, this seemed to be it.

I had gotten the thing home from where I bought it in the trunk with the back seats folded down. It was  a dicey trip with no bungees or ropes and the trunk flopping up and down. I drove 30 mph and tried to hold on to the leash that was attached to the front of the boat by torquing my arm back through the bucket seats to grab it.

Determined to make the half hour trip to the lake a little safer than that, I devised a mousetrap like system of bungees, bailing twine, duct tape and chewing gum.  When the going gets tough, the little Yankee girl from the north woods of Maine puts on her thinking cap!

Because of the slant of the trunk and backseat, it will only go in this far but it wedges pretty tight. All I really had to do  was make sure it didn't come out and tie the trunk lid down.

It may have looked like I was headed to the Redneck Regatta but it was actually pretty low tech and much easier than loading to over my head onto the roof. The SS Seabed was ready to roll!

Sunday morning dawned -cloudy and threatening rain. I was determined to go anyway. My friends? Not so much. So I struck off on my own. in a new, untested kayak, to try it out. There was really no danger though. I went to Lake Belleville which means that if I fell out of the boat, I MIGHT get my knees wet. It's a man made lake that they syphoned off the Sugar River. I picked the park because it's almost always deserted so if I was to dump it over, I wouldn't be providing the day's entertainment for hundreds of people. So, of course when I got there, they were setting up for a town festival on the peninsula that juts out into the lake. Sigh. Well, at least if I needed help, the ENTIRE town would be there for me!

I didn't need help, I got the kayak unloaded, out in the lake, in it, and off I went. It's pretty short, only 8 feet so it's tippy. The lake was calm and full of turtles, snakes, fish and water birds. The water quality was abysmal, I was concerned that I would die of sepsis before I ever drowned should I tum her over. At one point, I tried to make myself think of it as the Everglades because alligators seemed less lethal than the murky water. Then a little later, I tried NOT to think of alligators as things bumped and skittered against the bottom of my boat. 

But once I got hang of it, got balanced and got going, it was awesome. I paddled away from the park and the people and up the mouth of the Sugar River. The quiet, the animals, the woods and the last of the summer flowers made for an absolutely perfect morning. I was amazed at how close I could get to herons and cormorants if I paddled very slowly and quietly.  Just beautiful,     

I only took a couple of pictures because my iPhone was in a plastic bag and stowed and it was harshing my mellow to have to get it out, but trust me when I said it was absolutely gorgeous.  And despite the sky, it didn't rain.  Hear that wussy friends who bailed on me? :-) 

I paddled for a few hours and headed back to the park. I wasn't looking forward to the possibility of not sticking the dismount in front of the good people of Belleville, but to my surprise, I had no problem whatsoever. Never even got a drop of  water in the boat.

I dried off the boat and reloaded it without a problem. I am so totally stoked that I can do this all on my own. Paddling in the quiet is quite a stress reliever and even more so now that I KNOW I can do it, where before I only THOUGH I could,

Tomorrow my blisters will be broken and sore and I won't be able to move my arms, but I can't wait to go back again!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Lots of New Tangle Pattern Ideas!

I've been setting aside tangles that I've created in a special file in my cabinet. When I put one in last night, I realized that I had quite a stockpile and that I hadn't put only of them out there for others to here they all are. I'm not good at stepouts or at naming. Most of them are named after placed in Maine...just because. I'd love to see any tangles that you've done that use any of these patterns! Have fun and tangle on!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Invited to Downton Abbey

It was the weekend of museums!  Actually the long weekend of museums.  On Monday, friends Scott and Michael and I, hit the open road to Oshkosh to see the Downtown Abbey costume exhibit at the Payne  Museum. What a magnificent venue to have it in! The Payne House is a Tudor mansion and they had each of the rooms decked out a la Downton. Pictures weren't allowed; a fact I didn't know until I got busted about 3/4 of the way through.  Ooops! Oh well, my life of crime is your gain.

The Dowager's Tea Dress

Lady Edith

Shirley McLaine wore this!

Yum! Loves me a sharp dressed man!  I think men should still dress like this!

Biking outfit

They didn't have any costumes from my darling Mr. Bates, but it's probably for the best. I'm sure I would have caused quite a ruckus and more of a security breach than I already did. I took a lot more photos if anyone is interested, let me know and I'd love to share.

After the exhibit, we toured the gardens. We couldn't have asked for a more luscious day; 75°, light wind, no humidity, bright sun. The best weather to tour the Payne gardens. The gardens are tucked all over and each of them has some sort of surprise to discover. 

                                                 A hidden little arbor niche with a bench.

This fountain is beside the Carriage house in the Rose Garden

This is in the rose garden as well. Love the purple flowers. Everything looked so lush!

Hedge corridor from the Carriage House to the main house

Back yard at Main House

After the Garden Tour we were ready for a nosh so we went to a fabulous little restaurant called Gardina's Wine Bar and Cafe.  We had a fig and blue cheese croistini appetizer that was amazing and my pear and brie pannini was heavenly as well.

What a perfect day! Downton Abbey, beautiful house and  gardens, scrumptious lunch and time well spent with dear friends....who could ask for more!

(If you're reading this right now, leave me a comment and let me know you've been here, won't you?  Just click on the word 'comment' below this entry and say 'hi'! I'd love to hear from you!)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Life On The Mighty Missip!

This morning I headed to Dubuque, Iowa to the Upper Mississippi Museum.
 I started up under where it says 'You are here' in Madison.

I went to see the Titanic Artifact Exhibit and it was AMAZING.  They wouldn't let you take any pictures though.  When you get to the entryway, they give you a boarding pass with a name and bio of a passenger on the ship. There are costumed folks that introduce themselves along the way as passengers of the ship.  There are posters, photos, artifacts all the way through and even a real iceburg that you could touch. Then at the end there's a big board of names and you find the name on your boarding pass and see if you survived the sinking.

My name was Edith Evans and I was a first class passenger so I knew I probably made it. I smuggly joshed with folks along the way who said that they were third class passengers; saying that it was 'nice to know them'. When I got to the end, I found that I WENT DOWN WITH THE SHIP. I was one of only 100+ first class passengers that didn't make it. I can't do anything right! I was in good company though. Some of those steerage boys were cute!

Next I went to the 4D movie about James Cameron's journey to the lowest point in the Mariana Trench in a submersible that he designed. It was cool enough that it was 3D but what made it 4D was the fact that when the submersible splashed into the water, there was a spritz of water than fell on you. When the sub landed, your seat thunked. When you soared over a forest, there was a stiff breeze. There were bright lights, mist and fog. I LOVED it.

After that, I roamed the museum which was chock-a-block full of amazing things to see dealing with the animal life and history of the Mississippi river.
This is a red tailed hawk that some bozo shot the wing off. She's beautiful and in a well turned out enclosure with a cool mist for her to dunk into whenever she wanted.

There was another enclosure with two stately bald eagles who had been injured and unable to return to their habitat.

This little guy looks like an eel but is actually a salamander. He had such a cute little face that I wanted to smuggle him home with me! Creatures with stubby, little legs unite!
This is a lousy picture but man were these paddle fish cool! The fish on the left has his mouth wide open filtering the water for food.  What looks like sharp white teeth are actually gill slits. You can look right through him! They look like basking sharks when they feed but they have this long Cyrano-like schnoz on them. I was lucky enough to get there just in time to see them being fed!

There was so much more native wildlife that I didn't get photos of because I was too busy playing with it. I patted a sturgeon and played with craw fish. I 'noodled' a big fake catfish that scared the bejeepers out of me by making a weird noise when I pulled it out of the 'water'. I played with all of the hands on games and videos. I watched the otters and beavers. It's like they put this museum together just for me!

There were other exhibits about water animals that weren't native to the Mississippi.  I loved this green sea turtle. He entertained us with his graceful acrobatics...

Dancing through the water with his little fishy friend...

Other turtles (who-shall-remain-nameless) were less graceful.  This guy has his head stuck between the rocks and the glass.  Keep trying little guy!

And this one is on a hunger strike until she gets a bigger tank.  What a diva!

Probably my favorite exhibit in this part of the museum was this beautiful octopus. He has over 200 suckers!

He can change his colors to match his mood or surroundings and he is the sort who can unscrew jar lids to get at the food inside.  Handsome AND smart. What's not to like?

After seeing the things inside, there were plenty of things to see outside. Beautiful paths and docks led to a huge paddle boat that you could explore and through the surrounding river eddies. 

I was shocked by how many turtles of every conceivable size that there were basking on every available rock and log all along the river.

After I saw everything, I sat down to visit with old friend Mark Twain, whose spirit was very much alive in many parts of the museum. He read me some of 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court' while I rested. You are a gentleman and a scholar, Mr. Twain!

Before I left the museum, I was treated to a boat parade on the river. Colorful and fun! Huge boats all dressed up in streamers, banners, fake palm trees etc. floated down the water. There was even one all decked out like Gilligan's Island's 'SS Minnow, Let's hope they make it back from their three hour tour!

Since the Diamond Joe Casino was directly across the street from the museum, I took $20 and enjoyed a little air conditioned gambling. I left with $291 (and I was playing pennies) so it was well worth the stroll across the road!

It was an amazing, Amazing, AMAZING experience and I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Dubuque!