Snettisham 2023 - 3: Pool Party
June 14 - 21



Cailey's birthday treat

Photo Album

I'd opened Snettisham in a whirlwind, taken my friends down there, then opened the Taku in slightly less of a whirlwind (mid-night excursion notwithstanding) and had another probable social Snettisham trip at the end of the month with the Johnsons. I needed a little chill, solo cabin time, so after a weekend in town I decided to return to Snettisham for a "working vacation." I had my sights set on Wednesday and managed to rally all day Tuesday getting ready. The forecast was for two foot seas from the WNW, which suggested to me that it might be rolly on the way to Point Arden, but hopefully diminishing after. In any event, we would be in the trough or have the seas behind us, as it didn't appear to be coming out of the Taku. What a pleasant surprise to find Wednesday morning serene and the forecast diminished to variable winds and 1' seas. Having donned earplugs in the middle of the night already, I managed to sleep through the fourth morning of a red-breasted sapsucker knocking on a nearby house which has rendered me rather sleep deprived.

Around 8:30 I loaded up, ate some breakfast, and headed to the harbor where Ezra met me and took my load of gear to the boat while I parked and walked down with Cailey. He'd nearly loaded the whole cart onto the boat without me so all I had to do was rearrange at little, which was great. At lunch on Monday I'd swapped the boats and fueled the Ronquil, so all was ready, except that I suddenly found that I didn't have my backpack. I sent Ezra to fetch it from my car, then found it there on its normal place on the passenger seat (!?) and managed to call him back from the parking lot. I guess I was a bit ditzy. Cailey curled up perfectly on her bed and only repositioned a couple of times on the ride down. We were underway around 9:20 and made great time down the channel. I had just written a message to Ezra about how lovely a morning it was when we entered the seas coming from the back side of Douglas. They were more rigorous than the forecast had suggested, a remnant from the day before, but it really only slowed us down a little bit. As hoped, they diminished past Arden and we got back to full speed. A whale blew near Limestone Inlet and there were a handful of loons on the water here and there. A couple of Allen Marine boats were heading south and I passed another one plus a cruise ship heading north just beyond Limestone. I stopped to use the bucket once I was safely past their wakes, only to find that the smooth rollers continued all the way into Snettisham. It was briefly flat calm and then, at a stark line, ripples began and within a few seconds we were in two-foot white-capped seas that followed us all the want into Gilbert Bay. Strange!

We made it to the homestead right on the high tide. I quickly unloaded Cailey and the gear, then put Cailey in the lodge and anchored the boat, carrying the rest of the gear up and turning on the propane before coming inside. When the fridge and stove were going and the porch set up, I dug out the extension cable for the solar panels and discovered that there was just enough room in the hole in the floor to fit the connection. I set up the panels, plugged everything in, and about one hour after landing I was sitting on the porch with my work laptop. My personal laptop had been sitting here for three weeks, to my chagrin, and I was quite troubled to find that it wouldn't turn on after I plugged it into the battery, only to realize that I hadn't turned on the DC power! I left it charging while I managed to work for a bit, though everything but browsing was slow. I finally restarted the computer and everything came to life--Teams was active, Outlook updated, files opened, etc.

The sun was happily charging the battery, despite the draw I was putting on it, but the wind out of Gilbert Bay was quite strong, perhaps the same breeze that was kicking up the entrance, and I used some stones and tool bags to support the tatami screen that helps keep Cailey on the porch. It eventually forced me inside where I plugged in my work laptop while I continued to work. I was chilled and it was chilly inside, so I lit and coddled a little fire until it finally started to warm things up. When the sun came out and the wind diminished a little, I returned outside for a bit until the sun went behind a large cloud and I retreated once more into the now-warm lodge. With the lack of sun, the battery was no longer charging and the draw from the modem and both laptops burned through 10% of the battery before the work day was over. It wasn't the most productive afternoon and most of my success was in reviewing online reports and corresponding with emails, as files were very slow to open on the network. I also found that I really didn't want to work after just arriving, and I've already decided to work all day tomorrow but to take Friday off entirely.

While on the porch, I'd watched a Steller's jay fly down onto the deck and disappear in front of the solar panels where he was for some time. When I looked later, I found the top of the Taku chocolate lily that had bloomed next to the roses plucked off and left on the deck. I choose to believe it was a gift and not mischief!

At 4:32 I was on the porch and ready to start weed whacking. I'd forgotten it on my previous trip and everything was three feet tall and dense. I started with gloves and clippers, removing all the cow parsnip I could find along with the several salmonberries that had crept into the path along the side of the porch. It's not a task I enjoy. Then, as usual the first time in the spring, I started the generator on my second try and was soon weed whacking the huge grasses and forbs around the fire pit, the path by the porch, and down to the water, trying to be more careful about cutting low when the tall vegetation falls and covers everything. It is a necessary task and I love the results, but it's not one I relish, and it didn't help that the bugs were quite bad and the minimal deet I put on did not do the trick. Thankfully, the prep work, the flannel I was wearing, and perhaps the fact that the sun was behind the mountain already resulted in no pushke burns this time, which is wonderful, and it didn't take much more than half an hour. I will need to go through and hand weed the areas around forget-me-nots and roses and clip more bushes, but the hard work is done.

I washed up inside and came out on the porch with Cailey for some wine. Eventually, I made myself some Indian food and toast for dinner, relished outside again where I am now. The bird life has been, as expected, a bit quiet. One of the hummingbird feeders has a few inches of nectar left in it, but I've only seen the male use it. He just made a courtship/territorial dive and I thought I heard him buzzing a female earlier. I wonder if the ladies will show up if I put out more nectar tomorrow? A Wilson's warbler sang ardently most of the day, and I saw a second male while the other was singing. I heard a wren, a hermit thrush or two, saw some lively jays, and a sooty grouse is hooting now. The big surprise was just a few minutes ago when I came back outside after a few minutes in the lodge. Along with a hermit thrush downriver was the clear, beautiful, repeated song of a Swainson's thrush! This was, sort of literally, a Snettisham dream bird, and after several summers of early morning songs that I was never quite sure weren't dreams, I finally verified last year or the year before that one had, in fact, sung while I was in bed. But this was the first fully awake song I've heard. Wonderful! Now it's nearly 7:00 and I think the evening is mine, once again nearly silent.

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It was hard to leave the peaceful evening at the lodge, but we trekked over to Hermit Thrush before 8:00 to the song of a hermit and Swainson's thrush (right there on the property as far as I could tell), lit a fire, and settled in. For some reason, I craved the comfort of media and wanted to see how my tablet was working post-vacation, so fired it up and was pleased both that I had some X-Files on there and that it started up and played videos without a hitch, totally unlike the experience I had just getting it to load in the UK. Given how much battery power I'm using for modem and work laptop, any energy conservation in electronics is a good thing.

After heating up tea water, I turned the stove down about half way before turning it off to sleep. Although the cabin was cozy when we went to sleep, it was chill during the night. I was comfortable, but needed (or thought I needed) to keep Cailey covered every time she moved--only three times, but the second time was around 3:00 and I was subsequently awake for some time. Nevertheless, I was up shortly after 7:00, noting that the early morning rain storm predicted had not yet struck and I would be able to weed whack before work. I gave Cailey her pills and left her with breakfast inside, weed whacking most of the boardwalk before I ran out of cord in the weed whacker. I fetched the spool from the shed and came back to the lodge to wind it in growing frustration, hungry and anxious to finish. I'm not sure why I dislike weed whacking so much--it must be carrying the equipment around, as the actual cutting goes so fast.

My first attempt failed to let any extra line out so, after finished the boardwalk area, I rewound it and it seemed to work well after that, or else it's still using the long line I left out. I quickly cut up to the outhouse and the stairs beyond, the path to the bridge, and the path to Mink, then up to the lodge outhouse, and finally down around the kayak and an extra foot or so at the top of the path where the sedge is so high. By the time I'd washed up and made breakfast and sat down on the porch, it was 8:30, so I was only half an hour late to work due to the delays. Cailey had been anxious while I was up and about, so I picked up one of her hooves from the ground where I'd pressed it in to soak and left it on the porch for her. She immediately discovered it and proceeded to merrily consume it in its entirety. For my part, I bundled up and got to work, lighting multiple mosquito coils and spraying deet on my ankles for the persistent bugs.

Thankfully, the strong winds diminished somewhat and were coming down the river, so I was comfortable. I did a bird survey, adding species and they called or sang or flew across my range of vision. The highlight was a pair of chickadees calling sweetly (different than usual) who flew in from downriver; one peeped into the nest box, then proceeded to fill her beak with Cailey hair from the basket I'd put out last time. Sadly, they flew off together back downriver! Perhaps the same pair who gathered nesting material here three weeks ago.

Late in the morning, I wandered down the path to finish the survey with one last look, trimming bushes and cow parsnip as I went, and took Cailey with me. She disappeared behind the lodge and came back very happy, then sniffed around while I puttered and sat for a few minutes on the log. I think those are the best convalescent times, free but just sniffing around and not romping. Now we are inside, as the laptop battery died and needed to be plugged in, and I'm waiting for a document to load on it. Since the clouds were still high and there was no rain, I went ahead and set up the solar panels which were producing almost enough to offset the modem before, and perhaps a quarter to a third of what I was using once I plugged in the laptop. Now it is down to zero, so I suppose things are darkening, though it looks the same to me.

I joined an exceedingly overly detailed and boring zoom meeting about a new grant management system, then broke for lunch, heading outside just as the wind turned to come in from Gilbert Bay and rain was beginning to splash. I thought it would be wise to at least rake up the cut grass before it got too wet. I suited up, raked, and carried piles of grass to the edge of the river and threw it in. Another part of weed whacking that I really don't enjoy! The path needs to be swept now and a few places that weren't cleanly cut cleaned up, but otherwise at least that laborious part is done, and it does look better. I had a quesadilla and a delicious cold beer for lunch and then headed back to work.

We spent most of the afternoon inside and lit a little, slow fire to warm the lodge as the rain very slowly began to build. On my break I went out to clip the devil's club leaves, berry bushes, and ferns overhanging the trail and let Cailey come with me. She found a pork skin twist I'd left out for her and found a place to avidly bury it, or maybe two places. She came to find me down the trail when she was done and seem quite pleased with the excursion. At 5:00 I joined a Glory Hall board meeting via zoom, then cooked bison, snap peas, and toast for dinner, sharing more than usual of the bison with Cailey for her birthday. She is now soundly snoozing in her bed under the little table where I've been sitting all night. I watched an X-Files over dinner and stretching, then worked on a long overdue letter. The rain has been coming hard for the last couple of hours and it's quite cozy here. The inlet is surprisingly calm given the small craft advisory today and tonight. I was expecting Katie and Rob and family to join me tomorrow afternoon, but they are calling for four foot seas, so I don't have high expectations. It's now 8:00, so I think I'll pack up and head to Hermit Thrush for the night.

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As I was all ready to tuck into bed for some reading, I turned on the big lantern for a reading light, my rechargeable flashlight having failed and the replacement on its way. Only it flashed and wouldn't stay on! I played with it for a while until it held on a steady light, but it did last. My only light was the kerosene lantern! So I cozied up to it and managed to read for quite some time to its warm light, remembering perhaps how its golden light illuminated the pages of my fantasy books back in middle school at the lodge. It was a bit of a strain, but manageable. It's been ages since I've read by kerosene light. This may be impetus for me to finally try the DC lights today.

It had rained all night and we were cozy, me tucked against the wall as I didn't have the heart to move Cailey once she was so comfortable in her spot at my feet while I was reading. For the first time in a week I slept through the night, recovering Cailey notwithstanding, and even managed to sleep until nearly 8:00. By that time, Cailey occupied a mound of yellow blankets where I'd re-covered her with whatever blanket ends were not tucked under her in the dark.

I laid around in bed for a while, enjoying the coziness and the fact that I didn't have to get up for anything. After feeding Cailey once I did get up, I finished clipping and raking, starting with the path to Schist House and the bridge, then tidying up along the boardwalk, then the path to Gneiss House where I dusted it of cobwebs for my possible visitors. The paths look much better. Inside I discovered that the propane tank for the fridge was empty, so swapped that out (re-remembering that the attachment to its regulator spins in the usual direction unlike other propane connectors); it started right back up. I ate oats and a yogurt and a hard nectarine on the porch with Cailey while the rain came and went over the inlet. I was prompted to do a bird survey by the calls of a hairy woodpecker and was rewarded with a couple of nice looks at a hermit thrush (while one was singing downriver) and a female varied thrush foraging along the shingle beach. Two female hummingbirds also showed up at once and at least one managed to sip a little before quietly disappearing. The male is very territorial and clearly has them under control. When both showed up together, he chased them off and then did a couple of territorial dives! I don't understand why males would prohibit their presumed mates from sharing in the nectar, but I'm glad to see the ladies around--and a little surprised not to see fledglings.

Now we're inside trying to get a fire going. With a small craft advisory today, Katie and Rob and family are hoping to come tomorrow morning for just one night. I made guacamole and had a guac and cheese sandwich on pretzel bread with chips, then went outside with Cailey where she found and buried a hoof with glee. Then I puttered around while Cailey kept asking me for something, I couldn't tell what. When she tried to climb onto the double camp chair next to me, I moved to the couch (inside) so she could lay on her end. She wound up collapsing against my leg, so I settled in and read for a bit. Unfortunately, I all too soon remembered that I needed to email something to NOAA today for work, which had been awaiting signature all week. I needed to see whether it was signed and deal with it from there, so I hopped on my work laptop, which promptly died from lack of batteries, and managed to get my email sent. Since I was up, I decided to do a few chores, starting with testing the DC lights I purchased last winter. This involved splicing on wires that I'd set aside for this purpose last fall, only to find that the white wire was the negative wire and the black wire was the positive wire. Why!? So I undid my first splice, only to do the exact same thing again. Anyway, once I added wiring to the fixture I wrapped the wires around the battery leads (not having ends handy to add to them) and, voila, I had a light bulb working! It was impossible to tell how bright it was since it was mid-day, but I'm sure it will be useful for reading. Naturally, there's a window right where I wanted to put it, but without being able to test it, I decided to carry a battery to Hermit Thrush and set it up there, after which I'd see how much wire there was left anyway, which might impact decisions.

On the first such trip to Hermit Thrush, I brought screwdriver and drill, but had to come back for the screws and leatherman, but in relatively short order I had a working light fixture over the bed in Hermit Thrush right in the middle of where my old tapestry was. Pretty slick. While I was up and about I also put a nail by the door of Cottonwood to hang a solar lantern and nailed down a loose piece of asphalt shingle on the boardwalk, and returned the blankets pilfered from Mink and Harbor Seal to their rightful places. I also decided that, as much as I wanted to go back to my cozy dog, I may as well try to fix the water leak at Mink where a joint in the plastic pipe had come loose. I'd bought glue at Home Depot--$10 isn't much to repair the water line, but I hated that I had to buy so much when I only needed about a teaspoon--but found myself totally unable to open the can. I had to resort to a pipe wrench! But that worked well. I cleaned and dried the pipe, sanded it a tiny bit, administered the glue, and held it in place for the duration of "No Dice" by Beirut. All the while it was raining and I was standing under the eaves, so I put a towel over my head and neck while I waited. At last I got back to the lodge, which was swelteringly hot from the lovely fire, the first that really took off on my first attempt (constructed the normal way from tinder at the bottom to wood at the top, but admittedly with the addition of a little wood kindling). Being overheated already, I grabbed an almost-cold beer from the fridge and drank it on the porch while drinking in the rainy scenery. For a small craft advisory, it was remarkably calm all day here. There were smooth little rollers that hinted of weather coming in off Gilbert Bay, but it was much calmer that it was when I got here and the last time I was here--the branches hardly swayed. As the rain tapered off, still dripping from above, it really felt like September. In June. It's been a cool summer so far; I recall one summer when I picked salmonberries here for a Father's Day cobbler, but this year they are just now becoming berry-shaped and are hard.

I read for a little more, then came in and installed the other DC light. It still wasn't dark enough to really get a sense for its light, but the window was too high to install above it (based on my tests at Hermit Thrush) so I put it right below the propane light between the windows. It'll be a handy place regardless and I can always install more if desired. I made yellow rice with a bunch of chopped carrots and broccoli for dinner while watching an X-Files, washed the dishes, and started crafting a plan for the savanna backdrop I'm hoping to paint for Ezra's quarterly miniature diorama. It's only 7:15 now and I feel utterly exhausted, half tempted to call it a night and head to my newly-lighted cabin for the night!

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The light worked beautifully and lit up the entire cabin--more than I was expecting, but reading by it was a pleasure. I finished a book about Lonesome George, the last Pinta Galapagos tortoise, and went to sleep early, waking up around 6:00. The sky was overcast and beginning to break up and there was fog on the river--a good sign of fine weather to come. I set up the solar panels to be ready, but the sun was still well behind the mountain. I had breakfast on the porch with Cailey looking out over a very low tide. Seals lounged on a sandbar and a large flock of (probably) mergansers flew in. When I was walking over from Hermit Thrush, a hermit thrush--surprisingly rare to see in the woods--flew up in front of me and casually bopped from branch to branch among the spruces. From the porch, one flew down onto a snag at the edge of the flats and, from there, hopped down to the mud to forage. Then it occurred to me--what if is the Swainson's thrush I heard singing again last night? They do tend to be easier to see at times than hermit thrushes. But I didn't get a close enough look at either to tell the difference. Now I'm inside, partly to escape the chill of the early (September??) morning and partly to try to paint. It didn't start well, so I'm now online to get inspiration from other paintings.

Before I embarked on that, I decided to try to fix the window in Mink in the vein of trying to do all the little things to spruce up the cabins for guests and get them ship shape generally. But, when I saw how the cross insert which makes the plain window into a (fake) four-pane window had popped out of the frame from swelling, I threw up my hands in despair. But with the right tools and a little patience, a small project like that can go well, and this one did. I grabbed my big file and a screwdriver, unscrewed the screws on the right and bottom where it had popped out, filed both edges down, and screwed them back in. One screw would spin but not move, so I grabbed a piece of wood from outside and pressed it against the bottom to give it leverage. Anyway, it popped back into place and was soon secure. Reading this months later, I'm not sure what I was originally trying to fix on the window!

While I was there and with the file, I decided to have a go at the sticky door, also the result of swelling. I did a lot of awkward filing on top of the door from the deck but just couldn't get the right spot adequately, so finally returned to the shed for a step ladder and finished the job in short order. I then did the same for the door of Harbor Seal, though it was stuck at the bottom. I got much better at estimating where exactly it was stuck and concentrating on that spot. I left the tools at Hermit Thrush to fix its door another time and returned to Cailey in the lodge and started painting again. I managed to paint a decent acacia tree before I heard from Katie and Rob that they had departed, then added the savanna around it with some grass tufts and trees in the distance. Given my lack of experience, I was relieved at the results. The Rock showed up just over an hour and a half from departure. We spent the afternoon on the porch, Katie made us a delicious halibut tacos for dinner, and we chatted into the evening. Oddly, it started raining just after I got inside.

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I work up this morning early again and beat the others to the lodge. The sky was almost cloudless and the breeze was coming down the river, so I headed out to the sun on the log across the path with Cailey. To my delight, she sniffed around a little and then wonderfully laid in the dog bed that I'd brought down, hoping for just that. The tide was very low and there were myriad seals on one sandbar at the mouth of the main channel and a few other clusters nearby. I started a leisurely bird survey and had an incredibly pleasant time sitting on a towel on the log (to protect myself from its moisture). Highlights were nine Arctic terns, a Townsend's warbler high in the trees, and a female varied thrush who flew into the woods downriver. Cailey was perfect. Rob came down with the kids and hung out with us for a while, then we all returned for the pancakes Katie had made for Father's Day.

After that, we went for a walk up to the grassy point on the vast flats. I went barefoot and was soon joined by Rob and Eleanore. By the time we came back, the tide was rising rapidly and we climbed the rocks to Harbor Seal and took the path back to the lodge. The others packed up and headed out around 1:00 down a gorgeous, calm inlet. I rearranged a little, stripped temporarily down to my pants, and settled myself on the porch with a cold diet root beer, the rest of the veggies and halibut, and some of the leftover rice and veggies, and my book. It was extremely pleasant. But before long, a boat cruised into the inlet and headed for the homestead! I looked at my photos of the Rock until I could confirm it was, and threw my bra back on to go and meet them. They'd encountered three and four foot seas out in Stephen's Passage and returned.

By then, it was swelteringly hot and Eleanore changed into a bathing suit. A pool was in order, but the only one I could think of was the washtub I had intended to use as a drink chilling tub so many years ago. I found it in the shed, cleaned it out using the hose valve, then filled it in the sink. It was an instant hit with both girls and a hot tub party ensued for a delightful hour or so on deck. Both went in the ice cold water and Eleanore dubbed it coconut water which Eloise drank with gusto from half a rubber dog toy. It was the sort of simple, low tech childhood fun which just doesn't get any better. As the water level lowered from splashing and jumping in and out, I delivered two kettles full of boiling water to heat it up--the second one followed by a pitcher of cold water to cool it down a bit! All in all, it was a perfect summer afternoon. Around 3:30 we checked the updated forecast and saw that that small craft advisory (which had seemed to be concentrated around Young Bay) had been canceled and they were calling for two foot seas all the way up. Though the group was exhausted, they opted to try for a 5:00ish departure. Poor Eloise was overly tired and resisting sleep, so Eleanore, Rob, and I trekked up to the water source to leave the others alone, which, having been unmaintained this year--untrodden, actually, since the devil's club grew up--was a bit of a trial for Eleanore, especially with all the small logs so prone to tripping up little feet that can't see them through the ferns. I showed them my cabin and its stove and light on the way back, and then everyone packed up again and were off.

Cailey and I were also exhausted, and I certainly did not envy their long voyage followed by unloading and then getting tired kids to bed. Instead, Cailey and I took up residence on the porch--now in the shade and rapidly getting chilly--and I ate a snack dinner of chips, guacamole, a beef stick, and a semi-frozen yogurt with some red wine. It was perfect, as is the serenity of the evening, the wind coming down the river that appeared this afternoon having died. A hermit thrush came to the deck and then bopped her way down the path feeding along the way. I've been hearing so many jay calls downriver that I wonder if there is a family down there, maybe fledglings? I've also heard strange, sharp calls which Merlin says are Pacific-slope flycatchers and harsher calls identified as a red-tailed hawk! Curious. We did head to Hermit Thrush pretty early--I mean, there's no reason why I can't hang out in my cabin, right? I stretched and watched an episode of the X-Files, then read for a bit and closed my eyes obscenely early.

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Again I slept through the night, such a relief. I was up early enough that I got to work, on the porch, with leftover pancakes heated up in the frying pan for breakfast. Yesterday, the panels had recharged the battery from 40% to 100% by noon (after first getting a patch of sun around 9:30) while charging my laptop. In the afternoon I charged the spare battery from my laptop, my work laptop, and charged up the two strip LED lights without affecting the 100% charge. In the evening I'd charged my phone up and run the modem for some time to keep in touch with Katie and Rob on their way out the second time; together with running the modem this morning, it was down to about 79% before it started charging about 10:00. I had to go inside around 9:00 to plug in my work laptop. Cailey joined me for just a few minutes, and then took herself back outside and laid on her porch bed the rest of the time I was inside. Around 9:45, I took Cailey out in anticipation of my solo COASST walk, walking down to the beach. I considered the situation and the way her limping had improved and the relatively short distance to the eagle nest point, and decided to take her with me. It's hard to assess her limp on the uneven ground, so I watched carefully as she walked and trotted across the firm mud and believe that she really is making a great improvement. It was nice to have her with me, and I'm sure she enjoyed it.

On the way back, we stopped by the boat and I refueled. Back at the lodge, I tucked Cailey inside, put sunscreen on my chest and arms, and took off for a COASST walk, quickly stripping down to only my pants. The mud and sand felt even more wonderful on my feet that they did yesterday. When I returned, I made an early quesadilla lunch just as my battery was fully charged, and returned to the deck. Although the solar panels were soaking up the sun, the deck was still in shade and my clever dog took advantage of the narrow opening I'd left in the tatami mat screen and headed down the stairs on her own to lay on deck in the sunshine. I dropped a dog bed to her, but she ignored it, resting for a while and then getting up to hunt out the rawhide I'd rehidden for her after she found it on the walk over this morning, burying it in the bushes. When she came back, she snooped around some more and then, whether because of my verbal persuasion or not, came back up the stairs to her bed. It's wonderful to have the screen door up, as she can and does go in and out for water and, perhaps as she just did, temperature control.

The birds have been fairly quiet on this hot day, though a hermit thrush was singing sweetly earlier. Other than hearing an orange-crowned warbler a couple of times far downriver last week, the only local singing is the Wilson's warbler who consistently sings from the strip of bushes downriver, past here, and upriver perhaps just to the end of the alders. Back and forth all day long. I read that they sing considerably less after they pair up, so I hope he does have a partner. There is no sign of the Lincoln's sparrow that was here for at least a week or any ruby-crowned kinglets. A wren sings here on and off--I saw him singing at the tip of a bare elderberry branch by the outhouse yesterday--and there's one behind Hermit Thrush too. The pair of chickadees have continued to come by periodically and there are at least two varied thrushes I can hear at once. The hermit thrush is far downriver as far as I can tell. I've heard a brown creeper now and again. Today I think I saw the male hummingbird chase off another male and at least one female has had more success here, including perching nearby for a few seconds before the male found her. I confirmed from Cornell that male rufous hummingbirds will chase away females from feeders. I had hoped to catch a nest fledging while I'm here, but I suspect with the lateness of spring that I won't be so lucky even though males and females have bene here with plenty of time. I read that eggs are usually laid through June to early July but can be laid into August. The male is certainly continuing to dive, which Cornell describes as courtship dives and not territorial. In short succession, I watched one feed in the Taku roses (blooming beautifully), creeping buttercups, and irises.

At 12:45, the sun hit my face on deck and I donned my sun hat. Pretty good living. The heat really wasn't sustainable, though, so I moved to a camp chair in the shade by the door until my battery died again and I shifted inside and worked there until my break. I took Cailey down to the log where I'd stashed a hoof in a wet hollow there, but she wasn't too keen on it. While there, I indulged in a perfect hot weather treat: a frozen lemon yogurt in the sunshine! Around me, I'd discovered at least 12 (all but one) of the Tlingit potatoes showing their heads above the mounds, to my relief! We finished our break on the deck, Cailey panting heavily in her dog bed in the sunshine. I worked the rest of the day on deck, then fed Cailey and left her inside while I made the wider round of trails to clip away devil's club and salmonberry bushes: first past the bridge to Hermit Thrush, then up the trail to the water source, then around the waterline trail to Schist House, then along the trail downriver which I've never trimmed before but has become uncomfortably brushy. For dinner I made a burger from the rest of the bison and cooked it in a frying pan with the rest of the broccoli and carrots and toasted a couple pieces of bread. As I sat on the porch overlooking the calm inlet, still shimmering in evening sunlight, I thought of something my dad used to say over similar fine (i.e., good and simple) meals in a similar paradise: "I wonder what the peasants are eating tonight?" I spent some time reading on the porch, then headed to bed where I read until later than usual (thanks, diet Dr. Pepper).

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I had a bit of a wakeful period in the night and wasn't up as early, but still to work shortly after 8:00 after mostly cleaning up Hermit Thrush. The day was similarly blue skied and beautiful, though with a bit more of a breeze. I took Cailey out to the Ronquil on my break where I moved the anchor out further into the old channel in the hopes that it might float sooner tomorrow as the tide rises. I watched
from the porch as it rose and guess that the Ronquil will be floating around noon. While there, I did a bird survey, but wasn't close enough to the gulls to identify them all as I'd hoped, but I did see the (a) heron at the edge of the sand in the middle of the river. The gulls and terns have been hovering constantly in the main channel not far above its terminus, so it must be alive with fishes there. Cailey didn't seem quite so good on her leg as yesterday, but still not too bad; I thought the mud might not be helping, so I headed back in.

As the tide approached the boat later on, I carried two loads to it--tote, drill, fishing rod, weed whacker, and propane bottle. It'll make me less stressed in the morning. When my battery died, I retreated inside and sat by the window to work. At 12:30, I took a short lunch break to make the rounds of the cabins, adding pillow cases where needed, returning the now-clean kerosene lamp mantle to Harbor Seal, and finishing cleaning at Hermit Thrush. My battery was fully charged when I got back, so I was back on the porch for much of the afternoon. A kingfisher came by, hovering over the river, but the jays were quiet on my afternoon break. I had hoped to do a bird survey downriver where they've been making a wide variety of calls the last few days in the morning and where a flycatcher often calls and where a pair of varied thrushes are apparently nesting. I wasn't keen to work today, but it went well enough and I even took a Teams call from my boss which worked perfectly--so much better than most of my Teams calls in Juneau. After work I took Cailey downriver to scope out a place to sit tomorrow if I get the chance.

When I returned I did the dishes, filled the hummingbird feeder, and finished the backdrop painting for Ezra's diorama before finally settling myself on the porch to drink wine and read my book as I'd been wanting to do all day. Having the whole evening to myself, not even needing to leave for the cabin for the night, was blissful, and the inlet was a delightful backdrop. Eventually my hunger got the better of me and I heated up a can of chili and relished it outside. I can't believe how many mosquito coils I've burned through, as one has to be burning almost all the time to fight the mosquitoes and small flies. Cailey terrified me a couple of times while chasing and snapping at flies for fear she would plummet off the deck. It's about 8:00 now and I just returned from making a trip to Hermit Thrush for toothbrush and floss and decided to close the windows and lock up Harbor Seal while I was at it. It inexplicably smells mildewy, though I haven't been able to find the source.

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While I was finishing my book on the couch, Cailey came up and snuggled in, laying her head on my leg. I had the impression she wanted company and perhaps reassurance since I'd been going through some of my closing up chores, but she was soon off the couch, then up again, then off. It was warm in the lodge, so I think it was too much for her. I've been pleased that she's moved in and out of the lodge these last sunny days, sometimes for water, but often apparently to escape the heat outside. She wound up in her dog bed by the wood stove and I could soon hear her snoozing; she stayed there all night.

I slept well on the couch and didn't wake up until around 8:00, though a considerable amount of the morning had been spent listening to eagles crying. When I got up I agonized about whether I should work or not and, after doing the rest of the closing chores, opted against it for it would have taken the rest of the morning I had here assuming the boat floats around noon. Instead I heated up the rest of the pancakes for breakfast and took a load of gear to the boat, now floating one level down from where it was yesterday but not as far as I'd hoped, and fetched the anchor closer to the boat. In pulling in the extra line I discovered that the anchor line was not actually tied to the boat. When I'd repositioned it I'd had to let out more line and had never tied it back on! Wow, thank God it wedged under the compartment lid sufficiently to hold!

Back at the lodge I dug out the three 2x2s I could easily find under the porch and built a more sturdy stand for the no hunting sign, hopefully one that will not fall over in the winter or allow the sign to wiggle loose: two long poles on either side, a horizontal across the top to support the sign, and two braces to be driven into the ground and secured to the uprights. I unfortunately forgot to make the legs perfectly square, but overall it certainly feels very sturdy and I plan to make more like it for the Taku. Now it's 11:00 and I'm finally on the porch drinking tea. The battery is fully charged and I have a little time to relax.

And then the water was approaching the boat and I hustled through all the remaining chores, at which point it was not quite touching the boat, so I took the time to throw the last trail camera onto the deck of Cottonwood in case it might pick up something there. Everywhere else is just too grown up right now not to pick up endless waving vegetation. Half way to the boat with my full load I realized I'd forgotten to grab a cold beer from the fridge and, anticipating sitting on board waiting for the tide to rise, I dropped what was in my hands and ran back, but when I opened the fridge, a grapefruit G&T sounded better, so that's what I grabbed. Wonderful Cailey never moved from my gear on the rocky path. I had to wade about 20 yards to the boat but it was still shallow. I dropped everything off, loaded up the anchor, then called Cailey over who, like a champ, was wearing her anti-lick cone since I'd run out of hands to carry it! I relieved her of it, easily popped her on board, and got everything ship shape. It was 12:05, right on schedule, and ten minutes later we were underway and I hadn't even sat to drink my G&T or eat the warm quesadilla sitting in its tinfoil (assembled earlier in the morning and cooked during final chores).

At 12:17 we pushed off and were underway, cruising out of the river and right into a wicked little chop coming from Speel Arm. It was the jarring kind, and I was not pleased, especially as I tried to finish my snacks. The entrance to the port was not much better, coming in at me from Stephen's Passage. It made me think of what Rob had said they'd encountered when they got turned around and I was feeling rather bitter at NOAA for promising light and variable winds. Still, I had to see what it was like out there, fully expecting we might have to turn around and seek shelter back at the homestead. But, it turns out they were right for the most part. I cruised out of the port and onto glassy seas which stuck with us into Taku Inlet. It was downriver beautiful and Cailey snoozed in the back. The inlet was a little rougher and we had to slow a bit, and then a lot as we approached Arden and the steady northwesterly coming from the back side of Douglas collided with us. It took forever just to get past Arden and 25 minutes to get to Douglas (usually ten minutes). We weren't quite in the trough and, when we were, we were sloshed around so much it made Cailey look quite queasy, so I tried to avoid that. Two to three foot white-capped seas--not a pleasant end. I pressed for the shelter of Douglas and eventually gained it and we sped up for a little while until we hit the little chop coming straight down the channel. The sky had gone from blue to overcast and I'd thrown a flannel over my t-shirt and life jacket for the chill.

And then we were in the harbor. As I puttered down between the boat houses, I saw a guy pushing an empty cart and, when he turned the corner onto the main float, called out to see if he was done. He was, and agreed to leave it by the boat house door where he met up with Ezra who'd gone far afield to find one himself. We wound up using both. In surprising efficiency we loaded everything and headed home where my garden was bright with flowers and lettuces which looked like they finally might be harvestable soon.


Katie's amazing group selfie