Landlubber Time is road trip time

Visiting Family and Friends

We would be home for a bit more than 5 months and one imperative was to visit with our family and friends.  It is a challenge as few live anywhere near us but George has an expression “Its on the way if we go that way”.

First things first, George was pining over the fact that his boat was oceans away.  I inquired whether he might be interested in purchasing a little boat.  That way we could participate more in the Blue Marsh Sailing Club that Nancy and Bruce belong to and perhaps sail a little on the Chesapeake.  Didn’t take much persuading and before the day was out George found, and purchased, a nesting sailboat that he had been planning to build.  This one was already built, and offered at not much more than the cost of the plans and materials.  Small catch – it was on Marco Island, FL.

Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania road trip

We headed out the following day with the plan to visit our Florida family members in conjunction with picking up the boat.  In retrospect, we should have planned more time in Florida as Michael, Brenna, and David had conflicts.  Marilyn put us up for the night and she and Brian and George and I had a nice dinner out where even Duhkxy could join (thanks Marilyn).  We were on to Marco Island the next day and then to Michigan.
George’s first sail on our little red boat was with Riley and Tristan and he was pleased with how well the boat sailed in light wind.
Duhkxy is none too pleased to have been left behind

We invariably check in with Margaret and Burt when we travel between Pennsylvania and Michigan and we did so on this road trip.  It was the first time Duhkxy would meet Anna and the three dachshunds, Brody, Lucy, and Toby.  Duhkxy was still quite timid around most dogs, and both Lucy and Brody were decidedly unfriendly when they individually met with Duhxy.  Toby was more gentle and played chase with Duhkxy for a while.  Suddenly, when Duhkxy and Toby’s romping came close to the evil twins who were behind a gate in the kitchen, Toby turned and bit Duhkxy.  We saw first hand how the pack mentality brought out their aggressive behavior.  Anna’s excitement was a bit too much for Duhkxy, but they have since become good friends.

Landlubber Time is gardening time

Arriving Home

It is always exciting coming home after a long time away, but, it takes a bit of getting used to.  So much more space – so many things that need and/or we want to do.  Invariably, it feels a bit overwhelming at first.We had no worries when we were gone, as Diana looked after our house.  We arrived home, as always, to an immaculate home and staples and meals in the fridge.

This year Diana also planted two tiers of our garden so we were also met with garden-fresh lettuce, spinach, and radishes, quickly followed by peas, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, string beans, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, cucumbers, and enough heirloom tomatoes to feed 10 families.  The tomatoes kept yielding up until just before we left.

Diana continued to help with the harvesting and weeding throughout the summer. Nothing went to waste and the garden was weed free and tidy till the very end.  What a joy!

Our blueberry yield was great; as many as 8 quarts on many days.  Thanks again to Diana for all the help harvesting.  It is a time consuming task and you need to pick every couple of days.  I finally got my strawberry bed planted again and the raspberries pruned and fertilized – next year we should be swimming in berries.

We had the pool opened soon after we got home.  It had been closed for 2 years and we found a number of inhabitants had established their homes there.  One was the largest frog we have ever seen in Pennsylvania.  I caught and released him several times;  the first, hoping he would like living in our small water garden.  That lasted about 15 seconds – he leapt out and took off with great long hopping strides towards the vegetable garden.  The last relocation was about 1500+ feet away in wet portion of the wooded area of our home.  We did not see him for several months and figured he had finally found a new home but in August, Riley fished him out of the pool, bigger than ever.

We also found many large black rat snakes had enjoyed the winter months under the pool cover.  A “couple” decided to start some new snakes before they took off.

We are very happy to have as many rat snakes live with us as is possible.  They, as there name implies, do a great job keeping the rodent population in check.  Mother nature being what she is, you need to take the good with the bad.  While having breakfast on our living room porch, we noted a small head peaking out of a birdhouse that bluebirds regularly nest in.

With the vegetable garden well in hand, our attention was drawn to what used to be our hillside heather garden.  We lost the heather when we failed to religiously prune and re-acidify the soil.  Our soil has a pH a bit above 7.  Heather require a pH below 5 or they cannot absorb any nitrogen from the soil.  It is the same with blueberries.  The heather so beautiful, I convinced George we could maintain a small section of heather.  The remainder we planted with low growing shrubs.

Landscaping on the driveway side of our house was replaced, the prior inhabitants having overgrown, died, or been destroyed by deer.  It was a lot of work, but we have finally restored all our landscaping, with the exception of the perennial garden we established just before Allison and Mike’s wedding.  It bloomed the first time for the wedding, and was destroyed by the dreaded pine voles over that winter.

Sailing Time and Landlubber time – the best of times