Paddling the Canal at Winter Harbor


direct youtube link


We snuck in a few days at Winter Harbor this year. We had to forfeit last year, and missed it. Too much life going on. But this year, with the house nearly done we felt we could take a few days off and not lose the chance again. Glad we did.

The sailboats are still in storage, but we took the canoe, paddled it over and back. I took photos and video as usual, but just haven’t had time to look at any of it. Went back tonight, back at my editing station again finally, and got a nice feeling from this part. Enjoy.

May we all have more days like this in the coming year.




In the Before Time, When Snow Fell

KATATJATUUK KANGIRSUMI (Throat Singing in Kangirsuk) from Wapikoni mobile on Vimeo.


From Aeon:

In traditional katajjaq, also known as Inuit throat singing, two women stand face to face and perform a duet that doubles as something of a musical battle. Chanting in rhythm, they attempt to outlast one another, each waiting for any crack in the pace of her opponent – whether in the form of loss of breath, fatigue or laughter. In this short from the Canada-based First Nations film initiative Wapikoni Mobile, Eva Kaukai and Manon Chamberland, two throat singers from the remote Inuit village of Kangirsuk in northern Québec, face off in a friendly katajjaq duel. With sweeping imagery of the duo’s Arctic home, the short, which screened at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, is a transfixing melding of music and landscape.


One day the old people will tell stories of a time when water floated down from the sky, turning all the world white for as far as you could see, lakes and streams became solid enough to skate on, and ice covered the arctic year round to create a different way of life. What a wondrous thing.


🎶”I’ll Be Home for Christmas” 🎶


Lots of boxes. And windows to wash, and what-nots to move around.





The house will be oddly empty for a while – you don’t replace 40 years of possessions in a few months – but the house itself is beautiful.



It seems oddly familiar, yet not quite ours, like visiting your elementary school when you’re all grown up. Looks the same, but it’s no longer yours.  It will take a few months for it to feel like home again. For one thing, it’s waaaaay too clean. There’s no schmeck in the corners and crevices. The yard is a disaster, with a 40 foot dumpster and a porta-john still dominating the view; but the inside is crisp and clean.



We have no plans for Christmas, other than shuttling what we have left from the rental house. We do have a cheerful lighted tree, courtesy of Plow&Hearth.



The stove doesn’t work yet, but we have leftovers to warm in a microwave. And wine, And beer. And half the windows are clean, thanks to Matt who came down to help out.





We don’t have much furniture, but it’s enough, and a lot of great art, many from friends – some saved, some new. Will take us a long time to decide where to hang it all. There’s a sculpture Terri brought back from New Orleans when she volunteered there after Katrina hit, made from salvaged debris. A piece from Curt, one from Randy, handmade prints from Kevin & Angie. And some of my photos, some recent and some old: the canted church on Porstmouth Island, the bugeye in St. Michaels, the hand of tobacco found in the old family warehouse in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. And a tobacco basket like the one we saved from there.



There’s a wonderful oil painting of a wildfire in California by friend Giselle Goutreau, Doug’s wife. We know exactly where that will go.



And a watercolor of our house in fresh snow, painted by my mother from a photo I took two days before the fire, coming back from skiing in the twilight as T was baking an apple pie. Pretty sure we know where that will go.

Thanks to all that helped us through this. And the carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, etc., who worked so hard to get us home for the holidays.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.


Things We Saved: Sails, a Jewelry Box


The floors got refinished Friday, so we had to stay out of the house all weekend. This finally made some time for a chore postponed for a year now – washing the Melonseed sails.

Jim Drake, a fine boatbuilder and fellow sailor in the Old Bay Club, got in touch shortly after the fire, so soon I think there was still steam rising from the snow. He asked what he could do to help.

The night of the fire, the fire marshal generously offered to take us into the house to retrieve anything of value. We were so numb we couldn’t think. He went in and pulled photos off the walls, and found Terri’s handmade jewelry box, black as ebony, and brought them to us. I could only think of one thing – my sails, stored in the basement where the fire started.

We went in by the basement door wearing headlamps, and waded  through shin deep sooty water, still raining down from the floors above. By the light of the headlamps I could see gear and tools and wood bobbing around in the black pool. The shop looked like the hold of a sinking ship. We grabbed the sails rolled up in Tyvek, and carried them out into the yard.

In daylight the next morning, I could see that, miraculously, they had not been scorched, but were covered in soot. When I heard from Jim, maybe even that day, the only thing I could think of was this boatbuilder friend might be able to figure out how to clean them.

And he did. A short time later a box arrived from his sail loft, containing two pounds of special cleaning powder and a set of simple instructions. For a year now, the sails and the cleaner have been stored in Doug’s rented garage, waiting for me to attend to it. Besides being consumed with house construction, the prospect of trying to clean the sails, perhaps only to find them beyond saving, was enough to put me off. With move in day coming in less than a week, and the wet floors keeping other tasks at bay, seemed like it was now or never.

They soaked in a tub of hot water with the cleaning solution overnight, stirring with a soup ladle every few hours. This morning I pulled the plug. Trying to rinse them from outside the tub was a full contact sport, like wrestling a jellyfish. I finally gave up, stripped down, and just got in the shower with them. Which worked out well, but I will spare my gentle readers the photos of that particular step.

They hung from the rope swing out in the wind and the sun all day to dry. I must say, they look almost as good as new. Cleaner than they were before the fire. There are only a few faint smudges left, adding character. I’ll always remember where those came from.






Oh, and Terri’s jewelry box? Another friend, fine cabinet maker Todd Leback of Vaneri Studio,  took on the task of restoring it and sent a photo. It looks like the original birdseye maple again.



Two more things to make our Christmas a lot more cheerful.





35 Windows, 25 Doors, 1 Stove Hood, 1 Bookcase


We finally have a move-in date. On December 20 a three man crew of Student Movers will help us move the big heavy stuff from the rental house to the upstairs, and T and I will spend the rest of the month shuttling carloads of stuff back to the house, which definitely won’t be finished. There’s months of work ahead – but at least we’ll get to spend Christmas at home again.

With the deadline looming, everyone is scrambling to get done. Painters are right on top of the carpenters, priming trim as soon as it’s nailed in place. Electricians and tile setters have been working Saturdays and Sundays.

Dennis helped me rebuild the stove hood, almost exactly like the one I did a little over a year ago. Same design, but had to adjust it to fit new cabinets and walls.
















The carpenters have been wrapping up baseboards, door jambs and window sills. I follow behind with the final trim – ripping, routing, cutting, and mounting for 35 windows and 25 doorways. Built before the advent of domestic air conditioning, my gosh, this house has a lot of windows and doors. And still more to do later.
















































I wanted the second floor plumbing to run through a new hall closet on the first floor, but it came through the ceiling 6″ into the Living Room. Erg. I wrapped the pipes in insulation to cut down on the flushing noise and built an inset bookcase to hide it. Finally finished that late Sunday night.










More painting and trim work will continue through Thursday. Then we have to completely empty out the house again and sweep the whole place. On Friday, the floor guys come back to clean and buff and apply the final finish coat. We’ll have to stay out of the house at least through the weekend.

Appliances are still MIA, but maybe they’ll show up soon.


(Update: Long story short, the guy who took our order at Lowes got fired two days later, and screwed up our order before he left. Looks like we’ll be camping in the house for Christmas.)