Wednesday, July 24 2013
Last week I showed you my tent in it's original site, at the top of the hill with a fantastic view of the lake. Here's where it is now - nestled in a hollow down at the bottom of the hill. No view, but less wind.
Much as it pains me to admit to even thinking I might be too old for something, I’ve twice had a fleeting vision of renting a nice, cozy, dry place on shore next year instead of spending 6 weeks in a tent on my island. The first time was while I was wrestling an upside down tent in a 40-knot wind, in the dark and cursing steadily throughout.
I’d gone to bed, in my tent as usual, and was reading a book when the wind suddenly picked up. Rain was on the way and my tent doesn’t leak so I settled back and continued to read. As the wind grew harder, one lightweight, very flexible tent pole suddenly bent INWARD, bringing the entire side of the tent with it. I shoved it back into place with my foot and lay there on my back bracing the tent with both feet, now praying fervently that the wind would drop. Unfortunately my prayers were not answered and the next thing I see is the fly slipping off. I jump up and get out of the tent to capture the fly before it sails off to destroy itself on the surrounding trees.
It should have occurred to me that as soon as my weight was not holding down the mattress and thus, the tent, something worse might happen. All the tent stakes had been yanked out of the ground, both those around the base of the tent and the ones further out securing the fly. Securing! Hah! I should have had tent stakes the size they use to hold circus tents up. My entire tent flipped upside down with all my gear inside, including the dog’s crate, but thankfully not the dog who had opted to stay in the camp for the night. He’d have been in a panic so that was something to be thankful for, anyway.
So here I am, trying to find my way back into the tent to retrieve my flashlight to augment the pale light of the moon. The moon was nearly full, but for some reason didn’t seem to shed a whole lot of light on the mess. I eventually found the door, which happened to be on the opposite side from where it should have been and managed to locate not only the flashlight, but also my glasses which, by some exceedingly good chance, had not been crushed by any of the tumbling gear. With the threat of rain on the way, I knew I had to get all the rest of it collected and back to the camp, so I grabbed as much as I could carry and headed over to bring back the wagon. Three trips later and all that was left was the dark, unrecognizable outline of my deflated summer bedroom.
Locating black tent poles in the dark and figuring out where the other end might be is not as easy as one might think when going by feel alone. I now have a whole new appreciation for what blind folks live with every day. But they, at least, don’t have to dismantle a tumbled tent with a 40-knot gale still blowing down the lake with unabated relish. It didn’t rain, Thank God, but I was exhausted by the time all was safely stowed and I fell onto an exceedingly uncomfortable cot for the remainder of the night. It was 2:00 am and that’s the first time it occurred to me that it might be nice to have a cottage with a comfy bed and running water and warm showers to summer in.
Just a few days later, I was returning to the island from a trip to my son’s. All the way up, it threatened rain, but none fell. So, Murphy being such a great friend and all, as I arrived at the beach to launch our little boat, the rain began. I had grabbed big trash bags just in case, so I dropped my suitcase, tote and all the stuff I’d hauled up with me for our family week into bags, got the boat turned over and loaded. The rain got heavier as I drove back up the hill to park and still more persistent as Duff took his sweet time hunting for just the right place to relieve himself as we walked back down the hill. By the time we were in the boat and headed to the island it was downright pouring. We arrived cold, soaked and shivering to an unheated camp. That was the second time I considered the value of having a cozy little cottage on the shore.
I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that I just might be too old for this shit!
Tuesday, July 16 2013
Duff at Paws Beach Pet Resort Scott's Hill NC (a.k.a. Tides Way)
It’s been awhile since I posted here and in the interim, many things have caught my interest and provoked a desire to share my thoughts. But busyness got in the way. Or I was on the road with my laptop packed away.
My last few days at home in St Augustine were, as always, busy with packing and lists, making sure I turned off the water heater and locked all the windows, stopping the paper and forwarding my mail, packing my bathing suit and laptop (making sure not to forget the recharging cords for all my gadgets,) grabbing time for lunch with one friend and supper with another, and of course, going downtown to see the 4th of July fireworks and taking one last long walk on my beach.
Then it was off to New England with a detour in North Carolina to do some research for my new series, The Camerons of Tides Way. FALLING FOR ZOE, the first book in the series will be released by Belle Bridge Books in March 2014 with five others to follow. Since they are set in a lovely little place my imagination dreamed up not far from Wilmington NC, it just made sense to visit the area again on my way north to take photos, refresh my memory and germinate new ideas. I met and chatted with some of the nicest folk who willingly dropped their tasks to answer questions and share their knowledge of the area. Thanks especially to a nice gentleman near the waterway who told me about the tides, a long ago plantation and the lilies that were taking over his yard. Two lovely ladies at the airport, Mary Pfannenstein and Alice Razzano, pointed me in several directions with advice on places I really needed to see. While I was out poking about this wonderful little corner of our country, Duff was lounging at Paws Beach Pet Resort, swimming and playing with the other pooches. I think we both enjoyed this side trip very much.
I stopped in Maryland overnight and again in Massachusetts, and got to see one daughter and her hubby, my son and his wife, four of my grandchildren, a niece and my Dad before finally arriving in New Hampshire. Oddly enough, considering I drove over 1000 miles, the temperatures didn’t change. It was 82 when I left St Augustine and 82 when I got out to my little island up here. The heat and humidity didn’t make schlepping all my gear over from the mainland to the island all that much fun, nor setting up my tent and unpacking. But the reward was a lovely long swim with Duff. That and the gorgeous sunset that ended my first day here.
In spite of no television, which can be a blessing, I am in touch with the world via the internet. So I wasn’t spared the not guilty verdict for a man who killed another unarmed citizen and all the media hype. While I am convinced that justice wasn’t best served, I am appalled that our president and others with no business getting involved in the Florida justice system now feel they have to do something. And while all this is flooding the news, nearly to the exclusion of anything else, what about Russia’s big show of force with military exercises on the borders of China and Japan? What about the volatile situation in Egypt? Or the boat that capsized with 150 asylum seekers near Australia? Or the bombing of a Buddhist temple in India? And the ethnic clashes in Guinea that has taken so many lives. Never mind our own military, still struggling to maintain a fragile peace in Afghanistan and Iraq. The list of distressing events is lengthy and under-reported. Almost as if no one in this country really cares unless the media tells us we should. Missing children, firemen who gave their lives protecting others, our flagging economy and monthly jobs reports, dead diplomats and downed planes get a brief mention, but they too get swamped by the media circus over one trial, and I find that so much more distressing than the acquittal of one man in a controversial case in Florida. Why are we not more concerned with what National secrets Edward Snowdon might reveal to our enemies? Or which citizens our government is currently spying on? Or who the IRS will target next? Why are we not making a bigger push to either fix or get rid of Obamacare before it becomes the biggest nightmare in our country's history?
So, those are my thoughts on this gorgeous day in New Hampshire while I sit in a beach chair on my pine-needle strewn island with my laptop on my knees listening to the soft slap of water against the shore. I know I am truly blessed and I shall pray for all those who are struggling wherever they may be in this world.
My new summer digs And my summer transportation (at least until I get to shore.)
Tuesday, July 02 2013
Beautiful because the water temps here are perfect for swimming and summer has arrived in all its steamy glory. Sunrises and sunsets, when thunderstorms aren’t hulking overhead, are glorious. I love to read my newspaper and have breakfast on the deck when it’s still cool enough to enjoy. It’s a wonderful time of year. We had a magnificent super moon a week back that made the moonrises even more spectacular than usual, spilling rivers of silvery twinkling light across the sea to my feet as gentle waves lapped at my ankles. What’s not to love about living by the sea? (We won’t discuss hurricanes here, please.)
Busy because in less than a week, I head north to our family camp in New Hampshire. When I tell people I’m spending five weeks on an island, they get impressions of grandeur. I wish! Years ago when my parents bought our little island, my dad built a fourteen foot square cabin that was supposed to be our temporary digs until he built a bigger one on the bluff looking down the lake. Then he got his first tax bill. Since New Hampshire doesn’t tax anything else, they soak you on the real estate. Our temporary cabin became the permanent structure. Today, even if we had the wherewithal to build something with bedrooms and indoor plumbing, we’d run into more modern building restrictions that make it impossible. There is nowhere on our tiny island that’s far enough from shore to get a building permit. So, we’re grandfathered in to the little cabin that my dad eventually tacked a bit of kitchen onto and stretched a porch along the front. We treat it like our clubhouse and everyone sleeps in tents. And, because I’ll basically be living in a tent for five weeks, anything I need to have, I take with me. It’s another reason I drive a CR-V – that and the dog. So, I’ve been busy gathering up the things I’ll need, the stuff I want and the gear I can’t live without. Did I mention there is no telephone or TV. I do have a laptop so I take reruns of my favorite programs on DVD to watch when I feel like watching something mindless instead of reading. And I visit my cell service provider to pay for two months of internet service on a little gadget designed to create a hotspot. Which it sometimes does. Just often enough to stay in touch via email and FB.
Rewarding because on my birthday my mailbox, which usually yields only junk mail and the occasional bill from entities that still live in the dark ages and can’t send requests for remuneration via email, held a bounty of riches. There was a contract, signed and accompanied by an advance check from my new publisher. A number of lovely birthday greetings and two packages from my kids. It was a most satisfying day.
And heartbreaking because 19 brave firefighters lost their lives in Arizona fighting a wildfire suspected to have been started by lightning. These were hotshot firefighters, specially trained. The best. And yet something happened to take their lives. I suspect that investigations will someday give us answers, but in the meantime, this is the single biggest loss of firemen since 9/11, the largest loss fighting a wildfire since 1933. And there are so many to mourn their loss. Parents, wives, children. An entire town. God bless them all.