Friday, September 19, 2014

Another Last Night on Monhegan Island

Well boo! It’s a bit past 10 pm on Friday night which means tomorrow it's back to reality. Dagnabit. I’m sitting here typing this in the dark parlor. I cannot figure out how to turn the lights on. But hey, at least the internet works down here. Apparently the hamsters in charge of running on the wheel to make the connection on the fourth floor work exhausted themselves. I was just about to hurl my computer out the window and fully embrace ISLAND LIFE when I remembered we’ll be back on the mainland tomorrow. So I kept my computer and here I sit, in the dark, wondering why everyone went to bed so early.

Or are you all drinking in your rooms and no one invited the teetotaling blogger? Hmmm…. I wish I had time to ponder that and grow paranoid but you know, I don’t and I won’t. I’m just savoring the montage that is already filling my head (and my hard drive)—another SMASHING KNITTING & YOGA ADVENTURES!

I’d like to thank TEAM KYA: namely Lisa, who makes all this happen, and Melora for showing us we can bend into ridiculous poses, and Susan for exhibiting more patience than all saints combined as we bring her “just one more knitting question,” and last but certainly not least Mary Alice, for rubbing out all those kinks we get from knitting hunched over our lace projects. ALL Y’ALL ROCK!

But of course it wouldn’t be a retreat without the attendees, so THANKS ALL OF YOU WHO JOINED US this year from all across the country. Great seeing you repeat offenders and lovely meeting you newcomers. I hope every one of you will be back next year, and that you’ll bring a friend.

As for the daily report—well today I dragged my behind out of the sack pre-Tony Orlando and Dawn because I promised to lead any interested troops up to BURNT HEAD to see the sunrise. It was a frigid forty degrees when we headed out at 5:40 am, but a small group of us hustled on up and huddled our masses and watched the bruisy sky turn from plum to peach to WOW.  The night before, I'd told a number of folks about how important this particular trek is for me every year, as it reminds me of my friend ISABEL, whom I met on the island, whom I knew not nearly long enough before she passed suddenly, and who changed my life forever with her big heart, long view, and love of the sunrise. (If you want to read more about my friendship with Isabel, you can click this link.)

After taking in the breathtaking sunrise, I made haste hoping to get back in bed and into a deep sleep but no such luck. As I’d tossed and turned much of the night, worried I would sleep through the alarm and not keep my sunrise promise, now again I tossed and turned. This time the syndrome was FMS‘FRAID O’ MISSIN’ SOMETHING—and I just could not fall back to sleep for our last day on the island.

Though worn out and sleep-deprived, I valiantly worked my way through a mocha chocolate chip muffin and fifteen cups of coffee. Then I spirited myself back up the five hundred steps to my little writing garret to spend a bit of time just enjoying the heck out of that room with the tiny bed under the angled eave. How I'll miss it when we leave.

With HOLDEN’S HELP I slightly rearranged the schedule. That Holden, there is nothing he won’t do for us. Noting our scheduled outdoor lobster dinner was going to included frozen toes if we didn’t move it up, he convinced me to convince everyone else that forgoing pre-dinner yoga for wine and drawn butter slathered over crimson crustaceans was a very good idea. I received no protests.

First though, we took BALMY DAYS on a tour around the island, saw some seals out sunning on and playing near some rocks, and then spotted two more BALD EAGLES. (Note to self: must now make THREE HATS for all the bald eagles spotted on this trip. No, no, not SPOTTED BALD EACLES—Birdman can probably attest that those are mythical. Just SPOTTED as in SAW WITH MY BALD EYES. Oh no, did I say BALD EYES? Now do I have to make EYE HATS? I am NEVER GOING TO FINISH MY LACE PROJECT if this keeps up.)

After the boat tour, we carbed up for dinner by stuffing our faces with a sort of GREATEST HITS collection of snacks we’d had earlier in the week during tea time: OREO TRUFFLES and CZECH WEDDING COOKIES and BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKES. The list goes on. It was so comforting to have these health-filled calories to hold the space whilst we waited to be called to supper over at Sue and Holden’s place.

Their back yard is, essentially THE SUNSET. And so it was to another lovely sinking disc that we ate at picnic tables (I had the risotto – no lobster for me), and Eva and I busied ourselves doing photo interpretations of AMERICAN GOTHIC and CHRISTINA’S WORLD.

Then home again home again jiggity jig to watch the slide show. As threatened, Birdman popped by to bid us a warm here’s-your-hat-what’s-your-hurry adieu. Because no sooner do we shove off in the morning than his flock, aka TEAM TWITCHER, takes over our rooms in the MONHEGAN HOUSE. We sang Birdman a nice song. I’m sure he won’t soon forget us.

The talent show was nearly a wash, though we did have one brave PRETEND BAND get up and demonstrate with a little hip swiveling what their concept was all about. Yes, it was related to knitting. Of course it was. Maybe by this time next year they will have their first record out.

Before I wrap this post up and go sleep my last night on the island for 2014, and hope that Tilley doesn’t sneak into my room (I left the window cracked so I could listen to the ocean), a little bit of housekeeping: I will post another post sometime over the weekend or by the middle of next week. Like most of you, I have a bit of traveling in front of me before I arrive back on my own home planet. But trust me, there will be more words and images about this journey as soon as I work my way back to my trusty keyboard. Also Lisa will put the slideshow on YouTube—she’ll let you know when that’s up. And if you’ll give me a few days to get home and get settled down, I’d be glad to send you a bunch of my photos via Dropbox.

Safe travels y’all. I had so much fun knitting and stretching and hiking and eating cake with you. Hope to see you next year. Oh, and keep scrolling-- a few more pics below.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Breakfast & the Lighthouse: I.E. Eggs & Beacon

Dear Diary,
Well big surprise (not) it was another INCREDIBLE DAY ON MONHEGAN ISLAND! Today the breakfast pastry was fresh, hot, soft, gooey cinnamon roll. I kept myself in check and only had six. No really, just one. Lisa had to pop back to the mainland, so she left me in charge. Not exactly an inmate-running-asylum scenario, but we did have some mischievous fun. Wait until Holden finds out what we did with his…. Oh, wait, it’s a secret. Never mind.

I confess that I failed the group terribly when I did not produce the days-long promised Jello Shots for breakfast. Nor did I come up with any for lunch or dinner. Fortunately most attendees either had their own bottle(s) of wine, or sat near to one who did, so the liquid grape situation totally mitigated the absence of jiggly vodka situation. Whew.

We skipped on down to Lobster Cove to knit on the rocks and watch the foamy waves and I balanced some rocks and no one got too close to the edge, which frankly made me very happy, because I would’ve hated to have written names on the board. I hear tell there was yoga after hiking, in fact I’m sure of it. But as our days and hours on the island dwindle, I find myself doing that thing where I try to allocate each and every moment to too many things to fit in those moments. So I skipped out on yoga, but not because I didn’t want to be there.

We were responsible for our own lunches and I had the good sense to sidle up to the lovely ladies on the porch eating crab patty sandwiches from Brackett’s Market. As if I were a hovering gull they tossed me bits of their vittles, for which I was extremely grateful. Then it was off to the Lighthouse Museum. In all my years visiting the island, I had no idea you could actually go up into the lighthouse. I did know the museum is packed with fantastic memorabilia and art telling the history of the island, and also that there’s always a great show in the art gallery across from the museum. But up in the tower? THIS WAS SUCH A TREAT!

Our docent Willow, who in past years had waited on us in the Monhegan House dining room, spent most of her summers here and she is a walking history book. The story of the lighthouse is wonderful and I’m glad we made the time to check it out. The view from the top is, of course, spectacular.

Back down on terra firma, we had a fun informal knitting session in the afternoon. We learned how to insert lifelines (or as I like to say EMERGENCY LINES) in our lacework, so in case we make a mistake we can rip it out just down a few lines, not all the way. I’m glad Susan explained this, and I swear I’ll be putting one in soon. For now I fear I used Susan as my personal lifeline, as I seem to always do on these trips. I botched ROW 11 of the half-pi shawl. I swear I tried to fix it on my own, but I still needed plenty of help. Susan got me where I needed to be and helped me understand where I was making an error, which I kept repeating, which yes, when you do it enough times can be considered a DESIGN ELEMENT, but really, I wanted to follow the pattern.

And for me, that’s what this week is so much about. Yes there is the wonderful yoga. The food is over the top. The hiking cannot be beat. So truly the WONDER of this journey is a cumulative thing. But what first drew me here, and what makes me most excited every year, is how much I learn in the KNITTING DEPARTMENT. I’ve been knitting for maybe fifteen years. I’m not bad. I’m past novice. Maybe I’m intermediate. Doesn’t matter, it’s not a competition. And mostly I do knit pretty basic stuff—it’s like with my cooking: I can make fancy stuff in the kitchen, but mostly I’m about comfort food. And comfort knitting.

But here on the island, I always get the kind of time I need to settle into learning something new. It was here where I learned to read charts and do tricky cable work. And it is here again this year where I am revisiting chart reading, which I confess I often set aside back at home. Charts aren’t totally daunting but they are different than my usual fast in-the-round hats, and K2P2 scarves I seem to forever be cranking out for friends. Every time I get a row right in the cool pattern Susan designed, I want to squeal. Every time I get a row wrong, I don’t want to scream (a sign of growth since past years) but I feel another kind of excitement in that I (sort of) know how to fix things now. Well, with Susan at my elbow helping. But still: progress.

Tomorrow is our last full day on the island. As ever I’m going to miss this place even before the ferry pulls away from the dock. But let me not get too far ahead of myself. First things first—I’m going to enjoy the hell out of our Friday, starting with a sunrise walk to Burnt Head. Can’t wait.

See ya at breakfast. (more pictures below)