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)


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day Three: Carbing Up for the Big Massage

And so The Third Full Day of this Knitting & Yoga Adventure commenced, for me anyhow, with me just barely making it in under the caffeine wire and sliding into the dining room at 8:59 am, with just a minute to spare before breakfast ended. What can I say? The air on the island is conducive to sleeping in. Though empirical evidence—which is to say raucous breakfast goings on by the time I arrived—suggests that perhaps the air is also conducive to waking up early.

Whatever the case, I devoured my raspberry and lemon muffin, slurped down about a gallon of coffee, and then what DID I do? See how fast you get into Island Mind and the minutes and hours and days all sort of blur and you can’t recall the order of things? Hell, I don’t think I can even tell you what year it is at this point.

But I do know that eventually, drawn by the promise of bag lunches from The Novelty and a walk up to Cathedral Woods and on over to Squeaker Cove found me gravitating toward the group gathered in the living room about to embark on the journey. As you know, when it comes to Monhegan House, the journey of a thousand miles, or even seven feet, begins with a single step…. toward MORE DELICIOUS FOOD. OMG. I couldn’t even wait until I was out the door let alone into the woods to eat my “picnic” lunch.

Amply nourished, off we went. Along the way, I looked across to Manana Island, and lo! I beheld the shadow known as The Monk and The Nun, which Bob told us about the other night at our informal history lesson. Look closely in the picture below, off to the right, and you'll see it. 

 The array of Fairy Houses this year was pretty off the charts, hinting at possible fairy gentrification, and possible fairy overcrowding. In truth, the rapid growth of the houses since I was last here in June actually reminds me of what’s happening in Austin right now. Population Explosion. It was nice to see so much creativity out there in the forest.

And then, miraculously without getting lost (which is sort of a tradition for anyone who visits the island), we found our way to Squeaker Cove and sat upon the rocks and drank in the sun and watched some seals cavorting out where the big waves break. We sat there, taking it all in, and collectively thinking the same thing, “What will Holden feed us next?!”

I’m kidding. We did get in some knitting though. And then back to the house to have another knitting class with Susan. On the way home, I stopped at Elva’s PO to buy a pair of chartreusey yoga pants. I did this for three reasons: 1. Support the local economy. 2. So I would look hot in yoga class. 3. Because my Levi’s no longer fit me after three days of eating cake at every meal.

Susan Mills, who leads our knitting classes, happens to be the Creative Director for Classic Elite Yarns, and she brought us some delicious sample yarn. Today’s project was also from the Elizabeth Zimmermann classic, KNITTER’S ALMANAC, one of my all-time favorite knitting books. Okay, let me just say it: my ALL-TIME FAVORITE. Our first day we started EZ’s pi shawls. Today we got cranking on Mitered Mittens.

I confess I got sidetracked due to two factors. Firstly, Holden showed up with still more snacks. I am not kidding. Today we had Czech wedding cake cookies (don’t worry, no one got married), and fudge, and blueberry cheesecakes, and on the savory side some dip made from pistachios and Dijon that I would like to have my entire body smeared in at some point. I wolfed down as much as I could to carb up for my massage, which was the second factor that tore me away from the knitting session.

Up the stairs I tumbled with my pistachio-coated belly, and Mary Alice, as she has for years, appeared as if an Angel from on High and she said unto me, “I put the orange sheets on the table for you.” I LOVE ORANGE! Orange totally matches my back tattoo! Thanks Mary Alice.

Here’s the thing about massage and me. I try to get massages regularly. I have talented masseuse friends I visit. Sometimes I pop into those strip mall reflexology places where they pound the living pistachios out of you until you nearly cry and you consider this a good thing. But Mary Alice has such a special and unique and non-hurt touch that I immediately disappear into another world as she works. I call this the World of Snore & Drool. When I am face down, though I try not to let it happen, I just know I drool right through the face rest and onto the floor. When I am on my back, as I am floating around the ceiling, compiling amazing ideas on how to accomplish world peace and eat as many blueberry cheesecakes as I want without having to buy the next size up yoga pants, I am only awakened by one thing: MY OWN DAMN SNORING.

Well okay, there is a second thing that awakens me. This is the sound of Mary Alice, when all is said and done and rubbed and soothed, that it’s time to get up and go, but to just take my time. And then I come to, slowly, and I realise I am in my happy place, in this hotel, on this island, in a room, on a table covered in orange sheets, and the hooks on the wall look like pugilistic octopi asking if I want to put up my dukes. And all I can think is, “Heck no, my octopi friends. You really ought to try one of these massage things and just put down  your dukes and relax.”

I stumbled down to yoga after my massage, and I’m not sure how Melora made it happen, but she got me to do an inversion. I’m not really an inversion gal. Oh I used to do the old plow stand and whatever the heck else you do. But that was years ago. So to find myself upside down like that, and to have photographic evidence (which, I confess, makes me less in love with those new yoga pants—I should’ve gone for slimming black with vertical stripes), well I had to give Melora a huge hug. AMAZING!!

I probably burned off at least ten calories whilst I was upside down, and to remedy this glaring lack in my freshly massaged body, I segued seamlessly from yoga to Pizza Night. Joe took excellent care of us—the whole staff here always does, and I’d like to give extra shout outs to Kimberly and Sue who along with Holden and Joe really have handled the lion’s share of making us all Queens for the Week.

After dinner we waddled over to The Novelty for some ice cream. And then that was it—I AM DEFEATED. Joyfully defeated but utterly pooped, and getting ready to call it an early night. Tomorrow is another day. I think I am going to start knitting some nice ribbed panels to sew into the front of my jeans, like old school maternity pants, to accommodate the ongoing feeding frenzy we got going on.