Scouting Spring

After our November trip to Georgia, we anticipated settling into the slower pace of winter.  The dream of leisurely days was knocked upside the head by the introduction of a third dog—a young powerhouse of love and curiosity, eager to wiggle her way into our pack. 

Our new girl, Scout, was at home here from the minute she stepped foot in the door.  At just a year old, she was already well-trained and the most eager-to-please dog we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

Capp was a little hesitant over the rambunctious intruder, but soon warmed up and they are now fast friends. 

Alice, on the other hand, remains above it all, surveying her domain from her couch-ly throne, watching Capp and Scout’s tug-of-war destruction of toy after toy. 

Alice just turned nine and George aptly calls her Empress of Wheelhouse. 

Along with making all the dogs happy through the transition, we dealt with Scout’s first heat—always a little tension-inducing when it brings the coyotes to howling in our lower woods—and the challenge of trying to keep her activity down after she was spayed two weeks ago.  It was a very dog-centric winter. 

To complicate things, dog-wise, we had an unwelcome tenant under our front stoop.  After a mid-winter snowstorm, animal tracks appeared—something was clearly living right under our doorstep. 

We thought at first it might be a fox, but George’s inspection discovered a porcupine.  We have always had porcupines in our woods and they like to snack on the white pines along the edge of our property. 

But they have always stayed far from the house and outside of the fence.  Much as we like them from a distance, we cannot have one (or more) living right under our front door—not with three dogs. 

Although we tried to eject it with numerous methods, it not only was unfazed, but became even more bold, coming inside the fence.  So, sadly, it has crossed over the prickly rainbow bridge and we are trellising the front stoop that no other animals can camp under there.

Adding to that excitement, the winter weather swung wildly from ridiculously warm, to ice storms,

to balmy, to snow. 

We stayed snug by the fire and focused on indoor projects. 

Scout loves to watch the fire

George ripped out the old shelving in our mud room and constructed beautiful shelves and cupboards out of some strikingly-grained ash that he jointed and planed from rough cut lumber.    

For me, winter is a time to contentedly focus on spinning and weaving.  I wove dishtowels

and some linen and cotton fabric for a dress and skirt. 

I sewed a jacket from yarn that I had spun,

naturally dyed, and woven,

which is almost blindingly bright—belying all those who say natural dyes produce only dull browns and yellows.  

Likewise the two highly colored rugs

I wove out of odds and ends of my handspun and naturally dyed wool. 

I am enjoying doing more complicated patterns on my Leksand bandloom.

My favorite project, though, is one currently on my loom because it is all handspun singles—warp and weft—which produces cloth with a wonderful feel. 

Most yarn is plied, two or more single-spun yarns twisted together, which is stronger and easier to weave, but I prefer singles and only recently felt confident enough to use my handspun singles as warp.  So far, so good. I am delighted with it.

The dogs enjoyed a few winter beach visits,

where, after her initial amazement at the quality of water, Scout took to swimming like the Lab she is. 

We had a few rounds of family visits,

Scout communes with Uncle David

including last week when our granddaughters stayed with us and we had beautiful spring weather to enjoy Mt. Battie

and the Rockland breakwater. 

Through all this, though, our ongoing, all-consuming project was a total redesign of the vegetable gardens. 

The past few years, I was becoming increasingly frustrated by all the weeding I had to do in the very wide walkways between the raised beds.  I actually enjoy weeding the beds themselves, which is usually relatively quick and easy.  But the walkways seem to attract the really deep-rooted, nasty, hard-to-dig-out variety of weeds that stubbornly return again and again, no matter how much mulch is there. 

We also had no way of getting the tractor in the garden, so delivering and spreading mulch and compost was time and labor intensive.  We reconfigured both gardens with a wide tractor-way in the middle and narrower walkways between the beds.  

Less weeding and easier access.  This meant a tremendous amount of work for George.  Because many of boards in the raised beds were rotting out, George decided to rebuild all of them.

Once they were done, the fun part was renting an excavator for a day to help with the dirt work. 

It was an exhausting day, but by the end, all the beds were in place and ready for planting. 

George also built new gates, which look art-deco-ish to me.  I love them. 

The gardens are now ready for the season, but I must wait for the soil to heat up some more before most things can go in. 

It has been a cold, slow spring.  But, we are feasting on asparagus and the flax, peas, spinach, and lettuce are up. 

The greenhouse is full of seedlings and a bed of mushrooms that I’m hoping to grow in there this summer.

Aside from working on the garden project, George has been steadily clearing trees below the house to keep our view open and for firewood.  He came upon this nest of eggs last week, on the ground right near our trail. 

We have stayed away (good camera lens for the photo), but I believe it is a Ruffed Grouse nest—her camouflage is amazing. 

While I am itching to dig into the gardening season, full of plans and experiments, I am mourning our peaches and cherries. 

Our wildly fluctuating weather this winter—especially a spell of way below zero weather (with wind) in February—decimated the developing peach and cherry blossoms.  I may even lose a few trees.  My sweet cherry tree is covered in empty blossoms—open with nothing inside—

with just a lonely handful that survived. 

The peach tree blossoms are just dead buds and sparse leaves.  It will be a peach-less summer.  The good news is that all of my pears are blooming, two trees for the first time. 

We are supposed to get a frost tomorrow night, so fingers crossed they are not affected.  Peaches, cherries, and plums have been hit hard all over New England, so I should not complain.  At least, I am not a farmer dependent on a crop for my livelihood.  But I will miss my peaches and cherries this year.

Our bulbs are thriving and everything (aside from the peaches and cherries)

is blooming. 

After a satisfying and productive winter, bring on the frenzy of summer.

Reaping and Pillaging and a Little Lubec

For more than six years, we have been planting, fencing, building, clearing, and chopping on our piece of hillside to create our vision of home.  In the process, we have—intentionally and otherwise—rearranged the plant and animal populations around us. 

For one thing to live, others have to die. A balancing act in which we often tip the scales. This summer was a good time to take stock.  What stays, what goes, what needs adjustment? 

Birds, for example. Our bird population has become much more diverse since we took down our bird feeders several years ago.  I have been feeding birds all my life, so it was difficult to give up. 

Tree swallows

But what an amazing trade-off.  Our property feels like a bird haven now, with nests and baby birds popping up everywhere throughout the spring and summer. The bird feeders will stay down.


Watching the bird population evolve has made me wonder if keeping honeybees has a similar skewing effect on the native bees and wasps.  I am taking three years off from keeping bees, so it will be interesting to see if we notice an increase in the native pollinators.  If so, I will reevaluate setting up hives again.  

As for our plant population, we are always experimenting with what we can grow and continue to be surprised at the wide variety of things that do well this far north.   Our fruit trees are starting to yield and my experiment in bagging fruit was a huge success. 

These pears were bagged until the last weeks before harvest

We had a bumper crop of peaches and pears,

unblemished and with exquisite flavor. 

Surround spray took care of the plum curculios that devastated my cherries last year.

 The greenhouse fig trees went crazy bearing fruit this year,

and I was tickled to have fruit salad with home grown apples, peaches, pears, and figs (we did not grow the pecans but are working on hazlenuts). 

We enjoyed our first small crop of northern kiwis

and had enough black raspberries to freeze for winter.  One of our new grape vines put out several clusters that, while small, were the most delicious grapes I’ve ever eaten. 

Our pawpaw and persimmon trees have struggled but, finally, this year seem to have taken hold and are happily establishing themselves.  Climate change appears to be lengthening our growing season, so I expect they will continue to thrive, while more and more diseases and insect pests continue to migrate north. 

It was an odd summer, weatherwise.  High heat and humidity early on, followed by a cold snap, and then fairly normal temperatures with plenty of rain—a contrast from our droughty recent summers.  As October winds down, it is unusually mild, with no real frost in sight. So, it is not surprising that our warm weather crops fared well, with lots of okra, eggplant, peppers, melons, and even peanuts. 

Our greenhouse exploded with growth

and, for some reason, our leeks were massive. 

With all the rain, our grass grew like mad–lush and green. It kept George mowing and he perfected grass circles.  

On the downside, the rain and high humidity brought various blights, which affected the tomatoes and, for the first time, potatoes.  We had enough tomatoes for a winter’s worth of sauce,

but lost a lot of potatoes to late blight and the bane of our existence–rodents. We still are battling mice and voles, our little pillagers, which seem to have a big spike in population throughout Maine these past two years.  Despite help from predators, such as this snake that hung around the greenhouse,

and constant trapping, the voles and, to a lesser extent, mice, once again feasted on the garden, especially enjoying the potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, and melons.  A resident chipmunk, here enjoying some flax seeds,

was adept at climbing the highbush blueberry right next to our porch and stripping the berries. 

The adorable pillaging chipmunk ate almost all of these blueberries

Fortunately, we don’t have rodents in the house but it is a never-ending struggle to keep them out of the vehicles and equipment. 

Sadly, after much deliberation, we took down several old apple trees, including two near the house, because they were so badly infected with fire blight.  To our surprise, once they were gone, we did not miss them.  In fact, our view opened up magnificently and we no longer have to chase the dogs away from eating the rotting windfalls every time they go out (it was impossible to pick up all the downed apples).  We will have the trunks sawed into boards, which George will turn into furniture. We also are going to cut down the huge old oak that frames our view in the back. 

It lost one of its trunks in a storm last year and has struggled since.  It appears to be rotting internally and prematurely shed its leaves this fall. So we want to cut it on our terms rather than have the whole thing come down in a storm. I will be sad to see it go, but am hoping that not having a massive annual acorn drop will cut down on rodents. Needless to say, George has been busy converting the apple branches into firewood and the oak will keep him busy for quite some time. 

Sauna wood in the background–just a tiny portion of all that George has cut and split

The evergreens George has planted are thriving with all the rain and he put in another star magnolia, a stewartia, a mulberry (for silkworms!), a dwarf gingko, and a katsura. 

He has also cleared the area at the top of our drive, planting grass and clover around some of our ancient apples, which fortunately did not get hit with blight. 

During an August lull in gardening, I went to Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont for a week, where I learned new techniques (new to me, they are actually very old traditional techniques) weaving linen singles on a big old New England loom. 

Everyone in the class was wonderful, including the teacher, Justin Squizzero. I learned a ton, and came home exhausted. 

After recovering from all that mental effort, I caught up in the gardens, and turned my attention to late summer tasks.  August and September are full-on food processing time.

And dyeing season. I spent several happy days outside dyeing handspun wool skeins

Woad vat for blue
Madder roots for red

with my homegrown woad, weld, dyer’s chamomile, and madder. 

In September, I processed my flax crop,

which I kept a bit smaller this year, since I still have a lot unspun from last year.  

I have been trying to put my vegetable garden to bed for the winter, but it has been so mild, I’m still harvesting fennel, leeks, shishito peppers, carrots, lima beans, chard, kale, and collards.  And we still have tomatoes in the greenhouse.  I need to divide perennials, get the vole guards on the fruit trees, harvest ginger and turmeric and plant bulbs.  Looks like I will be gardening into November.  Crazy.

We bought a second kayak in late summer and took a maiden trip on the two lakes that we can see from our house. 

It was good to be out on the water with George again. 

It was a busy summer and by October, we were ready for a short vacation.  We love the uncrowded coastline of Downeast Maine and rented a cottage on the ocean in Lubec, a tiny town right on the Canadian border.

The weather was glorious and the dogs in heaven.  They swam at the beach every day

The tidal ranges are huge in this area

and hiked at beautiful Quoddy Head State Park, the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. 

The trails wind through fragrant balsam woods, around a bog filled with insect-eating pitcher plants,

and skirt the rocky shoreline, where the water is a vivid blue-green. 

Alice was ecstatic to be hiking, although she always wanted to check out the water, even if it was below a sheer cliff.  A little nerve-wracking.  

I am already planning next year’s gardens, but am really looking forward to coming inside and focusing on weaving and spinning this winter.  The dogs are soaking up the late fall sunshine. 

It is time to slow down for a few months and savor the quiet and coziness of our Maine winter. 

Wreaking Havoc


No half measures this summer—everything has hit with ferocity.  A normality-ending disease, human wrecking hammers smashing every aspect of our system of government, life-sucking heat and drought, and new garden pests have all been wreaking havoc.  Even George has created a little havoc with massive tree clearing.  It’s exhausting.


All summer, it has felt as if we are existing on two levels.  On the one hand, we have been enormously productive, working on things we love, which brings deeply satisfying contentment.

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On the other hand, there is an underlying current of tension, anger, and disbelief over the state of the world that never really leaves.  I have never felt so powerless in my life.


So, we do what we can to improve the world where we do have some power—our little hillside domain.


Staying home, with no visitors, has given us ample time to really dig in and do things right.  In previous years, I had so many things going on in the summer, that I was always playing catch up in the gardens.


Flax in July

This year, with George’s help, I finally managed to get enough mulch in the walkways to keep the weeds under control.


Most everything has been thriving, despite the crazy weather.


June started with weeks of wet, dripping fog, leaving things feeling sticky and smelling moldy.  When the fog lifted, the heat settled in.


My experimental peanuts like the heat


The peanuts grow underground off of these pegs extending down from the stems

Week after week of brutally hot sun and high humidity.


It is not weather we are used to in Maine.  We soldiered on, working outside through the heat, dripping sweat and fending off black flies and deer flies.


It finally got so bad that the heat was making me feel slightly sick and I ended up retreating inside in the air-conditioned sanctuary of our garage loft.  The dogs were uncomfortable, too, parking themselves in front of their personal fans.


We were not the only ones to notice that the gardens are thriving.


The chipmunks and mice discovered them, too, this year.


Tunneling their way under everything, they decimated my brassica seedlings, ate bean plants down to nubs, and nibbled and gnawed their way down every bed.


Tunnels everywhere

They aren’t picky eaters—peas, strawberries, melons, flax seeds, carrots, beets—I even found a wee mouse with huge feet nesting among the potatoes when I dug them up.


Fortunately, they can’t climb up the corn and we now have a small solar electric fence to keep the raccoons out.  So far, so good.


Aside from the rodent mayhem, insects have created some havoc, as well.  Seemingly overnight, plum curculios descended on my cherry trees, leaving not one cherry unmolested.  I had never had a problem with them before, so wasn’t prepared.  I will be next year.  Since I only have a few fruit trees that are mature enough to bear fruit, I decided to bag some of the fruit against pests this year as experiment.


Plastic bags on the apples, cloth on the peaches.


It looks weird but seems to be working.  While it has been a record year for Japanese beetles, we only saw one monarch butterfly all summer.


Japanese beetles made lace of the soybeans

We had so many last year, I don’t know how this year’s migration got waylaid, but something must have happened.  I miss them.

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Our birds and bees have been thriving, though.


Every year we have more birds nesting on the property.  They seem to like it here.


House finch hatchlings in the hanging basket

The robin that had been nesting in the sauna wood box, moved her subsequent nests to under our deck, much safer from predators, and raised two broods there.


Baby robin under our deck, ready to take the leap

I harvested my first honey this year.


Tastes like home.


Birds aren’t the only creatures who like it here.


All sorts of animals have discovered our trails—deer,



We are hoping the coyotes don’t get this fawn



Coyotes (sometimes called coywolves) appear on the camera day and night


domestic cats, a bobcat,


porcupines, raccoons, foxes, skunks,


Young skunks

rabbits—all right behind our house.


Young porcupines jousting

We rarely see the larger animals—only their tracks—but the game camera gives us a glimpse into what is going on when we aren’t around.


George has been a whirlwind all summer, mostly clearing out highly overgrown areas,


to give space and light to our screens of evergreens, wild apples, the new orchard trees we are planting, and to maintain our view and that of our neighbors.


When our neighbor moved into his house in the early 70s, the hillside was almost entirely cleared, with blueberry fields and pasture.


In the years since, trees have grown up at an amazing rate and much of the hillside now is heavily wooded. The growth rings on this large maple show that it is about 45 years old.


George hasn’t just been taking down trees, he put in a welcoming light and new sign at the head of our driveway,


built me a grape trellis, stacked and split four years’ worth of firewood, and created what we’ve named our “industrial drive” along one of our trails, where he processes wood and parks equipment.


It feels good to be getting so organized.


Aside from the gardens, I have continued to focus on my flax and spinning two fleeces for natural dyeing.


Drying flax

I processed most of last year’s flax and will finish it and this year’s harvest in September.


Flax tub retting

I should have enough to actually weave some fabric this year.


Some of last year’s crop, ready to spin

My dye gardens are thriving


Harvesting Japanese indigo

and I’ve had two dyeing days,


one with weld and indigo and one with madder.

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Yellow from weld, blue from Japanese indigo and green overdyeing weld with indigo

Because this was the first year the madder bed was old enough to harvest,


I wasn’t sure what to expect for color.  It wasn’t exactly what I was aiming at, but I love it.


We have not stayed home all the time.  I’ve picked up a couple of spinning wheels,


we socialize with neighbors,


I’ve been kayaking and swimming,

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and George and I went to the coast for our wedding anniversary, enjoying a walk on the beach and some fried clams.


We’ve been fortunate to have very few Covid-19 cases here in Maine, so far.  Let’s hope it doesn’t escalate too much in the fall.

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Figs in the greenhouse

I’m looking forward to cooler fall weather and inside weaving time but dreading the upcoming months until the election.   It is going to be ugly.


I will try to focus on the beauty here and hope we make it out the other side with our sanity, health, and government intact.


Sweet Alice




As usual, summer whirled by.  We took on too much, but are feeling the sweet satisfaction of transforming our slice of hillside into our long-dreamed-of ultimate home.  It feels good.


George capped off a summer of building projects by finishing the sauna.  He put an amazing amount of time, thought, and work into it.  And it’s a beautiful creation, with gorgeous wood inside and out, nestled in the trees, promising hours of bliss—soaking in heat, hot cedar fragrance, and the flickering light of the woodfire.


To accompany the sauna, George also built a deluxe outdoor shower.


Beginnings of the shower (with the dye garden and fleece washing station behind)

There’s nothing like watching eagles soaring overhead while showering.  Getting clean has never been so sweet.


While George was busy building, the butterflies moved in.


The Eastern Tiger Swallowtails appeared first


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail caterpillar–the only time I’ve seen one–the “eyes” and swaying head were a bit creepy


Black Swallowtail caterpillar

We were besieged by monarchs.  In their caterpillar incarnation they ate our milkweed to desolate skeletons, every tender bit devoured.

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We were fortunate to catch the moment of metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis while the grandchildren were here.


Attaching to form a chrysalis

I hope it didn’t give them nightmares of alien transformations.

IMG_3205Lots of writhing and pulsing, as a massive chrysalis (where did that incredible hulk come from?) shed the vivid caterpillar skin, leaving a shriveled bit of tissue-paper debris in a matter of minutes.

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By August, Monarch chrysalises were hanging everywhere—from perennial stalks, siding, windowsills, and even a wheelbarrow.

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As good hosts, we left them alone—no cutting back of perennials or bumpy wheelbarrow rides during chrysalis-hood.  On the final day before butterfly emergence, the chrysalis becomes a deep blue, with wings and colors visible.


But the actual emergence is very fast—it’s over in minutes.  Although I kept on eye on ripe ones, I kept missing the magic moment.  I finally camped out on our deck steps shelling tiger beans, next to a chrysalis looking about to burst, determined to wait until the moment of emergence.


After about an hour, there was a sudden twitch and the chrysalis listed to one side.


Then, in an eerie similarity to the caterpillar-chrysalis transformation, in minutes the butterfly shed the chrysalis and burst out—BOOM—into a crumbled color of wings with an outsized body.


After a few hours drying, it was off, feasting on nectar for the migration south.


Some evenings more than a dozen would be dancing over our Joe Pye Weed.


They stayed well into October.  I hope they made it to Mexico.


It was a good summer for growing—monarchs, flowers, and vegetables.

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The gardens produced wonderfully and I swear the vegetables get tastier every year.




In the summer, we filled the greenhouse with tomatoes, cotton, a fig tree, passion fruit vines, bay laurel, herbs, turmeric and ginger.


Passionfruit flower


Curing sweet potatoes in greenhouse


Hoping for tomatoes into November

Now it’s also planted with greens for fall, winter, and spring.  I’m looking forward to seeing how much it extends the season for us.


Sweet Alice

The dogs and bees are thriving, too.  Capp appears to have recovered completely from his mystery illness last year, which is such a relief.


Capp sunbathing

He and Alice are our best buddies, making us rich in love and dog hair.


My adopted bees settled in beautifully and are going into fall as the strongest hive I’ve ever had.  I’ll wrap the hive next month and hope they make it through the winter.


Samuel Morison great wheel

Much of my summer was textile-related—most of it outdoors.


Gotland fleece ready to wash


Dew retting flax

I went to two natural dyeing workshops, washed fleeces, spun a lot of wool for dyeing, worked on wheels, grew and retted flax, and taught a class on antique wheels.  In late summer, I set up my outdoor dye kitchen for two dyeing sessions, using plants from my dye garden and our land.


Simmering goldenrod


Japanese Indigo–notice the blue tinge to the water

What a range of colors emerged: blues from Japanese Indigo and Woad; yellows from Weld, Goldenrod, and Queen Anne’s Lace; gold and orange from Dyer’s Coreopsis; and green from overdyeing the yellows with the blues.


Dye day one, Woad, Japanese Indigo, Goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace and overdyeing for greens

There’s a wonderful sense of witchy-ness in hovering over a brew of plants transforming them to potions of color.



Dyer’s Coreopsis


Dye day two–Japanese Indigo, Dyer’s Coreopsis, with overdyeing and afterbaths of washing soda and iron

I was so busy with outside activities that I had little time for weaving.  In September, however, an antique wheel friend offered to sell me her Leksand loom, a beautiful 19th century Swedish loom for weaving bands.  I was thrilled.


Beautiful old Leksand–I’m very fortunate to have this loom

They are very hard to find and really fun to use.  It took some time to figure out how to set it up and weave on it–all the helpful books were in Swedish.  I also rescued an old Maine tape loom that had been covered with 70s-era painted flowers and have a line-up of spinning wheels waiting for my repairs.



Cape Breton wheel needing work

Last week I finally warped up my big loom.


It’s still too beautiful, though, to spend much time inside.  The leaf colors are spectacular this fall.


But, winter is coming.


And I plan to be a recluse—home with George, dogs, snow, wheels, spinning, sewing, and weaving.  And the sauna, of course.



Spring Ahead


I have not died or otherwise disappeared off the face of the earth. I simply have been engrossed in worlds other than blogging. Now my challenge is to condense nine months packed with living into one blog post.  We have gone from spring mists


to fall mists


to this


since I last wrote.  Here goes …

One reason I dropped out of the blogosphere was because Capp became terribly ill in July. Seemingly overnight, he went from a happy-go-lucky, just-turning-two-year-old lab, full of mischief and swagger, to a ball of misery who didn’t want to leave his crate.


After time at the local dog emergency clinic and with our local vet, his mystery condition was bumped up to the veterinary specialists in Portland, an hour-and-a-half from home. He almost died.


Home after tests with lots of shaved spots.

He spent three days at the Portland vet on an IV and undergoing a battery of tests. At first the fear was cancer, but it turned out that he had immune-mediated neutropenia, which was causing his white blood cells to drop to treacherously low levels. After six months on prednisone, and other drugs, he is finally back to our old Capp.


We still don’t know exactly what caused his condition. The theories are a reaction to immunizations or perhaps a tick-borne disease (although he tested negative for all the common ones). He remains on a low dose of pred and must have regular blood tests, but we are so relieved that we didn’t lose him. He has become quite popular with the wonderful vets and technicians caring for him. One tech calls him “Cute Adorable Puppy Prince,” and it has stuck. Amazingly, we had pet insurance–the first we’ve ever had for a dog–and they really came through for us, too.


Throughout Capp’s illness, Alice has remained her sweet affectionate self.

Because of Capp’s illness, we have been sticking pretty close to home. In the spring, we consolidated our vegetable beds into two fenced-in gardens. “We” meaning George–he did all the fencing and leveling.


The gardens were lush and productive this year.






We were eating our garden potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, and onions well into February. I tried growing cotton this year, and it did well, but frost hit before the cotton fully developed.


Cotton blossom.

Next year, I will try hanging the bolls inside to continue to mature.



The vegetable beds. Much neater than last year.

George is getting really good at putting in trails.


We have a whole system that now reaches each corner of the property.

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The first set of trails were named after the grandchildren. The next will be named after the dogs.

He also is building an outdoor, wood-fired sauna–something that I became enamored with during our years in Alaska.


Preparing for the sauna.

But the biggest project this year was building a garage.




We hired contractors to do most of the work, but George did much of the prep and finish work himself (he’s still doing finish work) and oversaw everything–not an easy task. The upstairs is an open space that will be half guest room and half an area for sewing, my small loom, and my really big spinning wheels. I inaugurated the space two weeks ago with a gathering of nine great wheel spinners from around mid-coast Maine. It was wonderful.


I have fallen deep into the spinning and weaving world. Old wheels just seem to follow me home and it gives me a thrill to work on them and get them spinning again.


Amazing wood on Shaker wheel from Alfred Lake, Maine.

They fascinate me with their beautiful wood, colors, craftsmanship, and history.


This European wheel, likely from Austria, was singed by being too close to the fire.

I am planning on doing a few presentations and classes on antique wheels with another friend this year.


Canadian Bisson wheel.

We’re hoping to convince lots of spinner to rescue these lovely wheels, so that they won’t be lost to future generations.


It’s amazing how beautifully the old wheels spin. I have continued to buy local fleeces–this year Romney/Finn, Gotland, and Cormo–because I enjoy the whole process of scouring, processing, dyeing, spinning, and weaving.  It’s so satisfying to do it from start to finish.


Beautiful Cormo fleece.  I will spin with this on the great wheels

And flax, well, I’m just in love with flax.


About a third of my line flax this year, all processed and ready to spin.


Home grown and dyed flax woven into tape on an antique tape loom.

In the spring, before Capp’s illness, I took an amazing flax course at Snow Farm in western Massachusetts with Cassie Dickson–a flax guru, coverlet weaver extraordinaire, and all-around wonderful person.


The flax Cassie brought was retted in various ways so that we could compare them.

The course was for five days and covered everything–planting, processing, spinning, dyeing, and weaving.


Classmate Victoria, an amazing textile artist.   A link to her site: victoriamanganiello

I felt so fortunate to learn from Cassie, she usually teaches in the South, closer to her North Carolina home.  Here’s a link to Cassie’s site: CassieDickson.  People in other Snow Farm classes were fascinated by the flax.


Flax that we processed, spun, and dyed at class.

There was in class in welding sculptures out of all sorts of found objects, aka junk, and the instructor and one of his students kindly made us stands to keep our cups of water for flax spinning.


I treasure mine.


In the fall, weaving took the spotlight.


I wove these on my small loom in the summer.  Destined to be chair cushions.

I again traveled to western Massachusetts–this time to Vavstuga in Shelburne Falls for the introductory weaving course. What a treat. Having been–until recently–totally self-taught in weaving, I just soaked up all the years of knowledge shared through this wonderful weaving school.


A tablecloth being woven by a returning student.

The focus there is on Swedish weaving styles and looms, so it was especially timely for me because I had decided to buy a Swedish Oxaback loom. I was able to bring one home with me from Vavstuga and get right to work with it. Bliss.


Putting the first warp on my new loom.

I also really enjoyed Shelburne Falls. Every morning I went out early to the Bridge of Flowers, which spans the river right in front of the school, and chatted with the head gardener.


Every evening I walked down to the Falls, which were swollen with water after torrential downpours that we had on the second day.


I’m returning for another course in May. Can’t wait.


Current project on the loom.  Overshot with handspun and  naturally dyed wool and handspun linen tabby.

We have been rich in guests these past months, which has also kept us busy. We had family reunions in Connecticut and Massachusetts in July and both of our children, with their spouses, and the grandchildren were here for Thanksgiving. We had a big dump of snow, to the delight of the grandkids, who have never lived with snowy winters


Soap Sally, our creepy Thanksgiving snowperson, freaked out the dogs.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, so I really savored having the whole family here.  The granddaughters took to weaving like fish to water.


Our daughter returned again in December with the grandkids and, while George stayed home with the dogs, we took a two night trip to Quebec City right before Christmas.  It was magical.


And, of course, I brought home a beautiful Quebec wheel.


This post is starting to sound an awful lot like one of my mother’s holiday letters. But rather than edit it, I’m going to post it, as is. Or I may never get it done. I will try not to go so long between posts again.  I have been posting pictures on Instagram under “olddogsnewtruck.”  It’s more my speed these days.  Happy Spring.