2021 Life Logs, Day 109: A Day of Deck Gardening

2021 Life Logs, Day 109: A Day of Deck Gardening
Date: Monday, April 19, 2021
Weather: Beautiful Day; High 63, Low, 44 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Today was the first day of Falmouth School spring vacation and what a beautiful day. The sun was shining, there was very little wind, and it was warm. Hurray! The plan was for me to arrive at the Goldstones around noon and have the boys help me fill the deck garden containers with potting soil that I was delivering. I did deliver the additional potting soil, but one boy was missing when I arrived and shortly thereafter, two boys were missing. And who could blame them? Sam got a call from two good friends that he hasn’t seen very much during the past coronavirus year. It was an invite to meet downtown to have lunch and then go knock about with a soccer ball. After their lunch, they stopped by the house to pick up a soccer ball on the way to the soccer field, and we lost Jonah as he was invited to join them. But Heather she played a little work “hooky” and spent time setting up the deck containers. She filled two containers and Ollie and I worked on the other two, using Heather’s expertise to finish the job. Then she did the planting.

When Sam and Jonah returned home, we lost Ollie. All three boys headed into the backyard to fire up their blacksmith shop. Last week Jonah found a U-shaped piece of metal that he wanted to straighten. Yesterday the boys used some curved concrete blocks to build a forge using a small shop vac as a bellows to provide the blowing air to keep the fire going. Jed worked with them to make sure it was safe, and they were successful in straightening the U-shaped half inch square metal rod. Every year when we go to the Barnstable County Fair, the boys always stop and watch the blacksmith. Their attention to detail paid off with this project and they were very proud of the result.

Jed is taking the boys to the driving range tomorrow morning and I will return tomorrow afternoon to complete installing the irrigation system on the deck. There are two vertical wall planters (and Heather ordered a third today), hanging plants, a four-shelf mini-greenhouse, and two elevated raised beds placed from one end of the very long deck to the other. I installed most of the irrigation system last year, but never finished the job. Jonah wants to help me finish it tomorrow. Then we will just sit back and watch things grow. It was really exciting to see all of this come together today.

2021 Life Logs, Day 108: More Writing, Thinking About Gardening

2021 Life Logs, Day 108: More Writing, Thinking About Gardening
Date: Sunday, April 18, 2021
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, Warmer; High 54, Low, 41 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

This is spring vacation week for Falmouth Public Schools, so I am hoping to spend time with the Goldpebbles. I had hoped to finish up my chapter on American Samoa today before taking some time off writing, but that did not happen. I tried, but I am just not quite there. We spent twenty-nine days at anchor in Pago Pago Harbor on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. We spent eighteen days in Rarotonga, but four of those days were spent on a little side trip to Aitutaki. In French Polynesia, we never spent more than eight days in one anchorage. So, to this point in the Voyage of Windbird, we spent more time in American Samoa than any other place in the South Pacific. Because of that it is taking time to write the chapter. And it is a chapter that I really want to get right. I know how much it meant to Mark to revisit American Samoa after living there for two years in the 1960’s, so I will continue on—but not until after I have some fun with the Goldpebbles. Tomorrow we are going to spend the afternoon finally filling the deck planters that I brought as a housewarming gift with potting soil. They were supposed to be delivered last May but didn’t arrive until the fall. So, this will be the first growing season for the planters.

I wrote until almost 8 pm tonight and then had to stop and fix dinner for myself and Shadow. At 9 pm I watched ‘Ocean Crossing’ on Masterpiece Theater while I ate dinner and after that I started writing my log. But then I decided to stop and watch the Joshua Johnson show on MSNBC while I rode my exercise bike. I continue to log in my six miles each evening.

Joshua Johnson was the host of 1A on NPR, a national conversation program. It was the program that replaced the Diane Rehm Show. But then he was hired by MSNBC and does weekend evenings. He often has fascinating guests. Tonight, one guest was Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who is best known as the villainous-turned-valiant knight Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones. Tonight, he was talking about a new program, ‘Through Greenland’, which is about climate change. For the past few years, this actor, producer, and screen writer has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to create for awareness for climate change. Listening to him brought me right back around to what I had been writing about today. We had unusually extreme weather in the months we spent in the South Pacific in 2006. Today I wrote:

“Another couple that we knew from meeting them in French Polynesia came into Pago Pago Harbor (American Samoa) reporting on the extreme weather. George and Barbara of Gdansk out of Vancouver arrived after a rough trip from Suwarrow in the northern Cook Islands. They had heavy wind and rain for most of their passage. George said that wherever they sailed this year, the Convergence Zone followed them. Even though we had taken a different path to get to American Samoa, we felt the same way. We just could not shake that Convergence Zone. The South Pacific was having a turbulent season. They reported that in Suwarrow two boats were blown on the reef on a particularly stormy night. Both were recovered without significant damage, but it was a scary thought. We shared with them what Mark, the gentleman who ran the NOAA Observatory we had visited recently, had told us. He said that scientists were perplexed with what was happening. He confirmed what we thought. The weather in the South Pacific was not following normal patterns and the scientists he worked with believed it all had to do with global warming. He told us that many still did not want to believe there was such a thing, but as he said, “Something is making the ocean temperature warmer down here!” I think I would like to try to watch ‘Through Greenland’ this week in observance of Earth Day. Maybe I can convince the Goldpebbles to watch with me.

2021 Life Logs, Day 107: Writing, a Movie and Sushi
Date: Saturday, April 17, 2021
Weather: Mix of Rain and Clouds, Clearing Late Day; High 47, Low, 38 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Most of my day was spent writing about the time Mark and I spent in American Samoa on the island of Tutuila. It is a strikingly beautiful island, but tourism has never caught on there. This is partially because the people who live there hold tight to their traditional lifestyle and want to keep it that way and partially because as a US Territory the islands receive federal funding and are not pushed economically to rely on tourism. You also have to be at least fifty percent Samoan to acquire land, therefore investors have not swooped in to build resorts. It is the kind of place that you can just kick back and enjoy life in a drop-dead gorgeous tropical environment. Until I reread my logs from our month there, I had forgotten about my favorite warning sign that I found anywhere around the world. Adjacent to each high school on the island of Tutuila, the following is printed on huge signs. The words in upper-case are printed in bright red. I do not know how effective it is, but it certainly got my attention!

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING
SEX
at an early age may result in
UNFULFILLED dreams, INCURABLE
diseases. and a BABY that wakes
you up at 2 am EVERY morning.

Today as I was writing about the tuna canneries in American Samoa, it reminded me of the ‘just off the boat’ fresh and delicious tuna sashimi and fish ceviche we enjoyed while there. Jed, Jonah, and Sam were doing community service work at the Scout camp here on the Cape today, so I thought about calling Heather and Ollie to see if they would like me to pick up some sushi to bring over for dinner. But then I thought I should just let then enjoy their special day together without Oma butting in. An hour later, I got a call from Ollie inviting me over for dinner. When I asked what we were having he replied, “Sushi!” Perfect. And then I told him that I wanted to watch the Disney movie ‘Moana’ with him sometime during this upcoming spring vacation week. He thought tonight would be the perfect time for that. So, I went over and we ate sushi while watching ‘Moana’. It was a delightful evening.

2021 Life Logs, Day 106: Driven Inside by the Cold Weather

2021 Life Logs, Day 106: Driven Inside by the Cold Weather
Date: Friday, April 16, 2021
Weather: Rain, Wind, Then Snow; High 44, Low, 34 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Our Dining-In group set today as our first afternoon dinner of 2021. Because of Covid and having to be outside, last summer and fall we met in the afternoon and outside. Today we gathered in Karen and Peter Baranowski’s garage which is so fancy it has been declared to be the Taj Garage or the Garage Mahal. When we set the date none of us had been vaccinated. But now the seven of us attending have had both vaccines and we were driven inside by the cold weather. It was rainy and windy and the temperature at 3:30 this afternoon was 34 degrees in East Falmouth. We all agreed it was safe enough, so we headed indoors. And just about that time, the rain turned to beautiful, big snowflakes. We need the rain, but I was not prepared for snow. It did not last long, and I do hope that is the last snow until next winter.

2021 Life Logs, Day 105: Meeting with My First Reader and Editor

2021 Life Logs, Day 105: Meeting with My First Reader and Editor
Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021
Weather: Overcast, Windy, and Cool; High 49, Low, 41 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

This time last year, friend Christina Brodie and I were completing our Zoom Memoir Writing Class. We had been partnered to read each other’s writing and make suggestions for improvements. I had written the introduction and first two chapters of The Voyage of Windbird and as my partner, Christina had read them and given great feedback. She encouraged me to keep writing, but the class ended and I put the writing aside. In late January when I decided to start writing again, Christina offered to read my chapters and do a first edit. She was once a high school English teacher and her suggestions for my first eight chapters all brought great improvements to my writing. This morning Christina called to ask if she could stop by to drop off her editing suggestions for Chapters 9 and 10. Since we have both been vaccinated, she felt comfortable coming in to have tea and to talk about the writing. I was finally able to thank her face to face for all the work she is doing for me out of the kindness of her heart. She is a great editor, and I am so grateful that she is willing to continue to do that hard work. I sent her the next four chapters this afternoon. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Christina Brodie.

Today was a dreary day, but after Christina left, I took Shadow for his morning walk before launching into writing. Then I came inside and finished writing about the passage to American Samoa and on into the first few days there. American Samoa has been an unincorporated territory of the United States since 1899. The people who live there are US nationals, but not citizens. There are five islands and two atolls. Tutuila is the largest and most populated island and that is where Mark and I visited in 2006. Mark had lived there for two years in the late sixties and it was great fun for him to revisit the places where he lived and worked and share those places with me. Tutuila is a beautiful island. We enjoyed it so much, we stayed for an entire month. I will continue that writing tomorrow.

Last night late I talked with my good friend Lynne who has been in New Zealand during Covid. She flew there after Thanksgiving 2019 and has not been able to safely return home. She is living a totally normal life in New Zealand with no threat of Covid. As much as I would like to see her, I can think of no reason she would return to this country quite yet. And if things continue to go downhill, I’m not sure there would be a reason to ever return. She has been pet sitting for most of her year and a half there. Recently she was pet sitting for a dog named Maggie. Lynn was reading the book, A Gentleman in Moscow, and returned home one afternoon to find the book in shreds. Lynn loves nothing more than devouring books, but evidently Maggie like to devour them in a different way!

I can never let April 15 pass by without thinking about my parents. They were married on April 15 in 1924. My mother had just turned 16 and my father was 20. Before my mother turned 17, she had the first of her seven children. Only five of us survived and now only two of us are left. My sister will have her 88th birthday in July and I am not getting any younger! But on we go.