Sunsets–its THE thing about West Beach

Everyone agrees—islanders and visitors alike—that the best sunsets on Orcas Island are seen from West Beach. People drive, walk, bicycle, jog, kayak, even hitchhike just to take in the view.

On a clear day, with no clouds, the sunsets are rather banal, but when there is weather—and in particular a forest fire on the mainland—the sky lights up with some of the most amazing colors.

I thought I’d just post a few of the memorable ones from summer until now.


Basket Rib Socks – The Finish Line

Well, they are done. And given how much work they took, I consider this the completion of TWO projects. With this being the third pair, it is surprising it was harder—especially since I used the same guide—Socktacular! by Knit Picks. This time I chose the Basket Rib Socks.

One element was the yarn–Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool in Shades of earth. It had unexpected knots and anomalies (the size varied from light fingering to worsted). That variation resulted in one sock being slightly shorter than the other—despite being the exact number of rows. It also had MUCH more color variation than it appeared, so my idea of knitting a sock with individual skeins means that the sock almost look as if they don’t belong to one another—except by texture.

The mitigation would have been to alternate rows as I’ve done on other projects. And this was one project I was NOT going to tear out *another time* in spite of the $65 price tag for the yarn. See How Many Times Do I Have to Knit THIS Sock? for details.

On the upside, I did manage to perfect purling via continental style, whereas before I was really only good at knit stitches, with purls being a bit loose. So as always, there is a silver lining! I’ve added another skill to my tool belt. 🙂

Added any new tools in your took belt lately?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sunset from the nearby beach
Sunset from the nearby beach

Ah the dream of a having a different lifestyle. I’m part way there since I purchased a second home on Orcas Island, though this creates some new challenges (like commuting and costs of second home ownership). It’s definitely quieter spending half weeks here and I suspect it will get even better when I trade the city house for a pied-à-terre.

November will mark my fifth anniversary with my lovely, brilliant husband. And for the first time in my life, it has been a joint endeavor putting clothes on back, food on table and a roof overhead. I have a great paying job—and have had for many years, but the older I get in high-tech the younger everyone else seems, the faster the pace moves, and the more I feel like I’m slipping behind. A book that has helped is French Women Don’t Get Facelifts by Mireille Guiliano. She found a second career in writing—something I love to do too—after being the CEO of Verve Clicquot USA.

Kayaking with husband in Lover's Cove, Orcas Island
Kayaking in Lover’s Cove, Orcas Island

These days I‘m often asked to speak to young researchers about careers and yet, deep inside, I feel a bit lost. So how can I, in good faith, tell them what they should be doing to be successful when I’m not sure about my own career? Of course we are at different career stages, so my advice works for them. It just doesn’t work for me. Not anymore.

There was one bit of advice that I got early in my career than might still be true though, ‘risk equals happiness.’ If you are willing to risk everything, you are much more likely to find a career that you are enthusiastic about.

Sign on once of my deer proof gardens
Sign on one of my deer proof gardens

So is it time to consider that now?

I look at people like Karen Templer and her small business Fringe Association she moved to Nashville, Tennessee and Ashley Yousling of Woolful who has recently moved to Idaho (a place I worked so hard to get out of) to start a sheep ranch. Both women in tech who followed their dreams. I’ll admit it, I’m green with envy. After all,  I’ve been in tech since before they were out of diapers. The point being that younger people can set an example for older ones. You find sages at all ages, no?

Russian blackberries growing everywhere
Russian blackberries growing everywhere–too many to pick!
Gala Apples from the Garden--Yum!
Fresh Gala Apples from the Garden–Yum!
Baby kiwi's (much bigger now)
Baby kiwi’s (much bigger now)

People, and knitters especially, on the island are lovely. “Borrow my loom, please!” and “Stop by for my knitting circle”. The problem is my split life. I simply cannot be an islander and be a constant traveler, researcher and strategist.

More and more I feel the pull of my creative side and I’ve even been talking to a couple of friends on island on how I might promote this site and potentially start selling things—here and at the local gift shops. Even my husband has gotten into it by telling me I should set up a shop called Fruit and Fiber where we could sell my chutneys and the many fruits of our garden alongside wool from the island wool makers and mitts and bags I make from it.

Green Gages Plums
Green Gages Plums
I've got these prune plums coming out my ears!
I’ve got these prune plums coming out my ears!

The trouble is I’d need the time to *make* these items. I also wonder how it will change my desire to knit when it won’t be for myself or gifts for my friends and family. What happens when it becomes my job. Will I still love it so much? I think so.

I’ve got designs and patterns that my friends say will sell and the San Juans, especially Orcas Island, are a vacation mecca where people come to buy little reminders of their trips (or they get cold and buy it out of necessity). They think that even if I didn’t go “online” I’d still have a market for my goods.

A seed Stitch Bag--partially my own design
A seed Stitch Bag–partially my own design

Well that’s my quandary for today. It makes me want to miss the late ferry back to the mainland Monday night. Perhaps not today, but someday. Hopefully soon.

Mitts with the Hat
Mitts with the Hat

Moving Day–Round 1

My favorite perch on the beach
My favorite perch at West Beach

I came into work this morning to find boxes. This after having to unpack boxes this weekend at the new place on Orcas. I had a lovely time on the island and I think that what I really wanted was just to stay there—not come back to “reality” of work, politics, life in the city.

It’s a funny thing, I’ve always loved living on the urban side of the pond. Though I feel a change taking place now that I have a home on the island. I feel a bit “displaced” in my city home.

As I stared at the pile of boxes–that were not going to unpack themselves–and the dirty desk (courtesy of the office movers), I knew it was stiff upper lip time, despite not feeling that way. In fact, the only things stiff were my back and shoulders from lifting boxes and weeding the garden. 

That's my buoy!
That’s my buoy! Atta buoy!! It’s a buoy!!! The one far right is the one for my house.
Mount Baker catching the last rays of sunlight after the rest of the hills are in twilight
Mount Baker catching the last rays of sunlight after the rest of the hills are in twilight

I found it a bit lonely out there, but connected with a couple of friends who I will hopefully get to know better as I spend more time at my little slice of heaven at West Beach.

There was not much time for knitting at the house. I did get some done on the ferry and I was thankful for the plentiful natural light on the ferry rides–both ways. I’d been struggling with a Kitchner stitched shoulder seam–seven tries with no success, though I’ve done it several times before–including the other shoulder! Thankfully, on the way over from Anacortes I had it in the bag first (re)try.

A bit of "cancer" on the Hyak ferry between Orcas Island and Anacortes
A bit of “cancer” on the Hyak ferry between Orcas Island and Anacortes

Though the weather and time was lovely, it was tiring too—all the cleaning, packing, unpacking, weeding, etc. only then to have to turn around, come back, go to work and unpack my office after an unnecessary office move which will, in turn, make my job harder.

Water, bars and decking aboard the Hyak on the way to Anacortes from Orcas Island
Water, bars and decking aboard the Hyak on the way to Anacortes from Orcas Island

Still, the scenery was lovely getting to and from the new place as well as while I was there. I got some really great shots—both artsy and not. I also finished a book I was reading in the quiet hours Sunday morning.

The Phoenix moored near the ferry terminal on Orcas Island
The Phoenix moored near the ferry terminal on Orcas Island

The thing I need to remember is that this is temporary and that someday I will rise like a phoenix.

Making the Move

To be candid, I don’t live on Orcas Island—right now. I live near my high-tech, high stress day job which requires quite a bit of travel. My current home, which I spent years gutting and getting just right, is in the shadow of my office; so close I could walk—if I had an hour to kill.

I’ve lived in or near my present home for almost 15 years, before that graduate school in Arizona, before that in Idaho where my family is presently on their 10th generation (or more). So you could say, the Northwest is my ancestral home.

Kayaking on the small bay my new house sits above last September
Kayaking on the small bay my new house sits above last September

I’ve been going to Orcas Island ever since I arrived in the Pacific Northwest and as an avid kayaker, I find Orcas to be the most ideal for the sport, less shipping lane traffic, more places to go and see  by human-powered craft and a range of conditions from exciting to peaceful. Having nearly died of hypothermia when a shipping container ship’s bow wave capsized my kayak off San Juan Island, I have learned the value of better equipment, knowing the tides, dry suits and avoidance of big ships.

We’ve been looking for land to build on Orcas, so that we could potentially build a place to retire to when, presumably we could better afford it, and talking about it for far longer, so finding a house with close water access right on the bay we wanted to live on was unexpected. We were staying at West Beach resort. On our way to look at a lot up the road we passed by the house directly next to the resort and Nick said “This place is perfect. I wonder if we can turf these people out.” On the way back the guy that lives there was hanging up a “for sale” sign. It was fate. What else could we do but make an offer? Now there is just the boring stuff—loan, inspection, moving…

We know we will eventually live there full-time. Because there is a house it is likely to be sooner rather than later. For now the plan is to split the time between both places a three-day/four-day plan since our jobs keep us on the mainland. That is, if the inspect tomorrow works out okay. Fingers crossed!