Friday, October 3, 2008

Alas-- We Couldn't Stay Forever

Posted by Spike Gillespie

And so it came to pass (sigh) that it was time to pack up our needles and our mats and head back home. Though let me backtrack and say that on Friday night, post-lobster, we had a great surprise Awards Event thanks to Louise, Gina and Brenda and everyone was a winner and we all won the same thing—a lovely ball of yarn. Then, post awards, we had a great Show & Tell, where we demonstrated what a skilled and speedy bunch we are. And then some of us, because we could not resist, broke off and went into the knitting room (which the birders had referred to as, “Oh look! They have a children’s room!”) to watch the first presidential debate.

I stayed up very late, bound and determined to finish my bag, which I did. I can no longer remember for certain, but I do think I broke down and packed Friday night, even though I wanted to put it off til Saturday morning. How I managed to cram in all my new acquisitions—even with the help of my new bag—is beyond me. Boy did I accumulate a lot on this trip, every single bit of it most welcome.

Saturday morning found us contemplating what breakfast items might be most likely to stay down on the predicted-bumpy-ferry-ride-back. Or at least would look the least unattractive down the fronts of ourselves, should hurling become unavoidable. My waitress recommended the raspberry muffin, and I concurred. To my great joy, I looked up and noted Alarmist Bird Man, yes, back in the lobby and, yes, back on the phone.

Feigning Important Business out by the front desk, I went to eavesdrop, eager to hear his latest prediction that we were all heading to Davy Jones’ locker in short order. Then, talk about luck, I discovered he’d actually be on the Laura B. with us as we headed back.

Our beloved Holden hauled our not insignificant mountain of collected luggage down to the dock in his truck, as we hoofed it behind him. We waited for the boat to unload sundry supplies for the islanders and then—all aboard.

Okay, okay, much as I hate to admit it here, Alarmist Bird Man was, if not entirely correct, somewhat accurate in his predictions that we were going to be riding rough waves on the way in. I suppose we could call it a Swell Time, but really, I prefer the word “swell” when it is used as an adjective, not a noun. Up we rode and back down again. Everyone got very quiet—even ABM. I kept telling myself something along the lines of what I told myself that time I rode a horse along a dangerous mountain cliff in Mexico. South of the Border my mantra to stave off fear had been: This horse wants to get home. This horse will get me home. Up north in the Atlantic, I reminded myself the boat wants to get back. The boat will get back.

[The Patty Duke Show 2008]
And get back, it did, living up to the title of the newspaper article I saw hanging on the cabin wall: The Venerable Laura B (though I confess at one point I thought it said The Vulnerable Laura B). Only one of us tossed cookies (I’m not saying who). And I don’t know about the rest of the gang, but my stomach was wobbly much of the rest of the day.

[This place needs to be outlawed.]
I did find some calm when we stopped at Halcyon Yarn in Bath, where I loaded up on notions, a pair of needles, and some irresistible Noro sock yarn. I also, despite my stomach’s poor attitude, filled up on a crab roll from Day’s, a shack on the way back to Portland. Oh that was a fine, fine meal. (And for the record, I did gain five pounds on the trip—Damn you, Holden and your whoopee pies, too!)

[Day's Shack-o-Crab-and-Lobster-Rolls]

Those of us who hadn’t parted ways in Port Clyde said our farewells and went our separate ways. For my part, I rented a car at the airport and headed a couple of hours north to visit an old boyfriend I’d dated for about five minutes back in the eighties. His wife is a serious knitter and she’s getting ready to teach her two little kids to knit, too. The kids were so cute, and so fascinated with my stitch markers and mini-Chaka-Chaka that we invented a little math game: use the clicker to count the markers. This is the kind of homeschooling I can get behind. [I can't believe I at the whole thing.]

I’m writing this on Friday, just about a week after my return. I just got back from my personal den of sin, Hill Country Weavers (don’t let the name fool you—the place is packed with yarn) where I found myself breathlessly telling Suzanne, the owner, all about our most unforgettable journey. I’ve been on countless trips in my life, and to roughly eighty bazillion parties and I have to say that the knitting and yoga adventure easily lands at the top of the list. Can’t wait to see you all next year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Anyplace is Walking Distance (If You Have the Time)

Posted by Spike Gillespie

I’m a bit late posting about days four and five, for which I apologize. I was so busy having fun and finishing up my Fair Isle bag that the blogging got waylaid and then, lo, it was already time to head back to the Maine-land. And then home. And then, as is always the case post-vacation, I had to hit the ground running hard to try to catch up with work. But a week on Monhegan was totally worth the mountain of tasks I found waiting for me.

A brief recap of Thursday and Friday then, and some more great pictures.

Thursday, our fourth full day, we started out with a short hike and then just sat and watched the water. I’ve sat many times in my life contemplating many bodies of water. I have seen the glorious sun dance every which way off of the surface of oceans, rivers and lakes. And still, I have to say I have never seen such a spectacular performance as the one provided Thursday morning by thousands of flashes of light chasing each other all over the place. Reminded me of nature’s version of some neon sign in Vegas, where the bulbs light up in rows and give the effect of mesmerizing motion. I could’ve sat there all day.


Except for the fact that more yoga with Melora awaited us back at Monhegan house. And then more Fair Isle and intarsia lessons (I confess I continued to avoid intarsia, but I swear I’ll learn it soon). Oh, and there was the thirty minute boat ride around the island, some lessons in Monhegan history, and more breathtaking views.


For my alone time—I squeezed in a little—I walked up to the cemetery and noted (or at least thought I noted) that an awful lot of the folks buried there had lived a very long time, even by today’s standards, but most especially considering some were born in the 1700’s and 1800’s. I wondered if island life promoted longevity or if the truth was that only the most stubborn, death-defying residents stuck around on the island til the end while the younger, weaker ones went back to the mainland. Another theory someone suggested later to me was simply that it was the headstones of the very oldest that caught my eye by virtue of the fact they’d lived so long. I’m sticking with my theory that island life makes one want to hang around longer.

I bought a new bag at The Black Duck Emporium, because as all knitters know, knitting is merely an excuse to be a bag addict. All those sweaters, scarves, hats, shawls, mittens, and socks knitted? Just a front for what we really crave: more bags! More bags in which to carry more yarn and notions and half-finished projects! I got one of those heavy-duty vinyl jobbies with a lady from the fifties on it and the slogan: My Garden Kicks Ass.

[sunset at Lobster Cove]

Holden, in his ongoing quest to train us to eat too much at tea time, busted out two more heaping platters of homemade treats, this time: biscotti, lemon bars, and still more whoopie pies (including pumpkin). We had a sunset picnic at Lobster Cove, loving the view and lamenting that the end was near. I even contemplated packing that night, but instead said to hell with that, I’d rather be at the Evening Knitting and Comedy Hour.

Friday we were blessed with weather just inclement enough to coax most to stay inside all day and knit. And knit. And knit. I knitted my fingers off and by midnight managed to finish my Fair Isle bag, perhaps my greatest knitting achievement to date both due to how tricky it was and the fact I finished a project so quickly. I would like to make fifty more, only maybe in solids or stripes. But the fact that I learned how to read charts was, to me, more spectacular than if, say, I had figured out physics and chemistry.

Alarmist Bird Man entered our lives at some point—was it Thursday or Friday? A birder in need of a phone, he chose the Monhegan House as headquarters for his countless phone calls out to check the weather. A rare hurricane-landing-in-Maine was predicted for the weekend—the first hurricane warning in seventeen years. Alarmist Bird Man loudly yelled into the horn that if we all didn’t hop the ferry back immediately we’d wind up singing the theme song from Poseidon Adventure together. Initially, I started to buy into his panic and wondered if I should leave right away. Then I thought better of it—so what if I got stuck on the island for another week of cookies and yarn?

Friday dinner was lobster and a group of birders—oh there were so many on the island—came to Monhegan House to eat. At one point, they were in the common area and I was on the staircase and they didn’t see me so they felt fine going on about what geeks we knitters were and how we were going to get all rowdy. This they said very sarcastically, seeing as they clearly hadn’t heard about our nighttime knits and thus could not know that we were, in fact, the definition of rowdy. Ha. Nothing like two groups of clashing aficionados in one building—Knit Knerds vs. Beak Geeks!

And before I forget, let me say the title of this post comes courtesy of Bob, who was our lovely, rusty-haired waiter both in the Monhegan House dining room and over at the Novelty. A lot of folks on the island seem to work multiple jobs (or else they all have identical twins) so we ran into them in various capacities. Turns out Bob is also a chef, and a fine one at that. He summers on Monhegan and winters in Belize and he was the one to let me know that if I could just figure out how to slow down then really, I could get anywhere in good time. Lovely advice, but nothing I could apply to that Fair Isle bag—I just had to get it finished.

Here are some pics:

[Three Cheers for our Fearless Leader!]

[knitting with a view]

[better on the rocker than off the rocker]

[Isle Of View-- say that fast, out loud, three times. Hint: I love you, too!]

[collective creativity]