Summer in Maine is brief. Despite what the calendar says, summer pretty much starts on July 4 and is over on Labor Day. Because of its brevity, I schedule my teaching so I can be home during this fleeting season. Last month’s visit to Kalispell, MT (here and here) wraps up my teaching until September when I travel to San Diego, CA to make the rounds of three different quilt guilds in one week.

Maine calls itself Vacationland, and I certainly plan to squeeze some vacation time into the next couple months, along with a variety of other activities that can only happen once the tundra thaws and the caribou have migrated north and … just kidding.

Every so often, a student will ask me, “what do you do for fun?” So let me tell you—family, pets, walks, beach-combing, gardening, kayaking, embellishing things (think shabby chic), reading, trying out new recipes—these are all things that draw my attention during time off.

Family

Summer is a great time to gather the family for special events. Last month my sister and I took our father to a local ocean overlook, the Giant’s Stairs, to celebrate Father’s Day.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the vista that day in June—and there’s many more tourists here now that it’s full-summer. But Maine is a big state and there’s plenty of empty space to share, though summer weekend traffic is the closest thing to rush hour gridlock that we experience. So my husband Tom and I tend to stay close to home in the summer, which we’re lucky to say, is not a hardship.

Walks

A twenty minute walk from our front door and back, takes us to Lookout Point (below)—where the road ends in the bay as a local boat launch. It’s one of the most photographed and painted locations along the mid-coast. A sunset scene made it onto the cover—and September spread—of this year’s Down East Magazine’s wall calendar.

Tom’s grandfather built the lobster wharf nestled in the cove, and it’s where Tom and I met 32 years ago—as of tomorrow—the day after this posts!

Pets

Our dogs, Kali and Felix, love summer, of course. Felix, the brown and black dog, likes to wade in the ocean. For the life of him he can’t figure out why there’s so much water and none of it’s good to drink.

When not out for a walk, the pups practice being pampered pillow-seeking couch potatoes.

My cat, Djinni, is an indoor studio cat, doing her best to help me with my projects, so she doesn’t usually care what season it is outside.

However, since this spring we have had a feral cat hanging around, nicknamed Cookie, which absolutely drives Djinni wild. Lately I’ve had to do my bull-fighter impression of waving a blanket in front of me as I back out the studio door, she wants to dart out and drive that invader away so bad.

Note Cookie Cat staring up at a concerned Djinni Cat.
Cookie is a cat we’ve seen off and on for more than three years—usually as a blur we could barely focus on. Why he chose now to seek affection (mostly from me), we can’t guess. Our dogs and cat aren’t terribly thrilled that he’s apparently taken up residence under my studio deck.

Gardening

I have varied success in my gardening. I grow a few vegetables. I have some perennials. For a blast of color I fill window boxes with annuals.

I also like to encourage certain beneficial weeds—much to my husband’s annoyance, and to the crowding out of my garden space. Yep, that’s my “vegetable garden” below. I’ve given half of the original space over to milkweed and other pollinator-loving plants—I feel the bees and butterflies need all the help they can get these days.

I do try to keep the rest of the garden open for our use, but had only enough time earlier in the season to rescue one of my square plots for some golden cherry tomato, bell pepper, and basil plants. Thank goodness for farmer’s markets to pick up the slack!

Once Monarch butterflies arrive on their migratory path, I no longer pull the milkweed from my part of the garden either. Milkweed is the only plant they lay their eggs on and the only food source for the hatched and growing caterpillars. Last year I successfully nurtured 24 out of 26 Monarchs from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. It’s estimated that only one in 10 make it to adulthood in the wild, so I feel like I’m helping an endangered species.

Tom’s come around on the milkweed, even avoiding patches of the plant with the mower, creating islands of milkweed for me and the monarchs. Added benefit: the scent of milkweed blossoms is heavenly and will drift across the lawn when the breeze is right.
A photo of me and my garlic scapes from a couple years ago. Garlic is very forgiving, coming back year after year until you have the chance to dig up a few more of the bulbs in the fall. At this time of year, they send up their buds, called scapes. It helps bulb growth if these curly stems are harvested and in turn they make great garlic scape pesto—on the menu this week!

However, this year Tom did give up on “our” vegetable garden and is growing “his own” tomatoes, various varieties of jalapeño peppers, and red onions. He has them planted in 55 gallon barrels that used to hold lobster bait! He calls them his Salsa Gardens, because that’s what he plans to make from the harvest.

Kayaking

Tom is a registered Maine kayak guide, which keeps him in and out of the house at irregular times for most of July and August—another reason for me to be home-based this time of year. He leads groups on day tours and sometimes on multi-day camping trips from H2Outfitters here in Harpswell.

I feel like I’m in pretty good hands whenever we go out for a paddle. The bays around Harpswell are beautiful, fairly secluded, and full of wildlife like seals and sea birds. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to kayak camp out on one of Maine’s many islands with our son, Sam (now a college junior), at some point this summer.

You can read about last year’s Shelter Island adventure in this post from August 2016.

Casco Bay photos by Tom Allen.

Reading

While out on an island maybe I’ll make a dent in the new series of books I’ve recently gotten pulled into—the Stephanie Plum Series—mysteries by Janet Evanovich. They have everything you need for a good summer read—suspense, colorful characters, violence, a plucky heroine, and a little bit of sexy. (Even Tom is reading them and he’s a book snob!)

I’ve been series hunting at used bookstores—a pretty good haul at two of them! I’ve added a few more since.

While not exactly reading per se, I’ve also been pulled into the Creative Strength Training Prompt Cards (below) by Jane Dunnewold. Jane is a fiber arts instructor I met while teaching at Art Quilt Tahoe last November. There, I picked up the oversized deck and started playing with them soon after, until the end of last year.

I haven’t even had the chance to look at them between then and now, and after all the teaching I’ve been doing in the meantime, it’s feeling like a good way to get my own creative juices flowing again.

Each card gives either action or writing prompts and suggests exercises that got me working with media that I hadn’t picked up in years. These cards aren’t about a finished project—I just took an hour a day working quickly in a sketch book—it’s about stretching your brain. The cards took me out of my fabric collage box, and in turn, I found myself thinking more creatively in both my work and everyday life. Thanks Jane!

And let’s not forget…

Of course, gotta keep my art business going too! There’s still these weekly blog posts that I know you guys look forward to—and I don’t want to disappoint.

Plus, the online course that I have promised. I’ve now defined what I need to do, and am taking steps toward completing that goal.

Plus, I have a new quilt idea for myself in mind….

Whew! I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit exhausted thinking about (just some of!) my summer plans. I think a siesta with a purring cat sounds like a good idea right now.

My studio is inviting me to kick off my shoes and stay awhile.

But before I go, I had another one of my ideas that has Tom literally knocking his head onto his desk—another time-lapse experiment (since a few of you commented that you liked them the last couple weeks). This one is more for me than you. You see, I entertain myself on flights by taking photos out the plane window of cloud formations or ground patterns and features. One time it was 300 cloud photos—the beauty, and excessiveness, of digital photography. Though Tom may have banged his head then too, those were exceptional clouds that particular flight, since usually I take many fewer photos.

For this week’s movie I compiled all the cloud, aerial, and on-the-tarmac photos from my teaching travels so far this year into one 4 minute/50 second movie. I worried about potential bruising on Tom’s forehead when I mentioned musical accompaniment—but a little piano jazz sounded appropriate. Since, after 32 years, he knows better than to dissuade me, he humored me instead, chalking the following cinematic selection up to time-lapse movie making experience.

Though I got a kick out of seeing the photos strung together, please refrain from viewing if you too wish to hit your head upon any hard surface.

In-Flight Entertainment: January—July 2017

29 Comments

  • Loved the photos and your comments. Wish the Clouds video was slower. I didn’t really have time to “look” at the clouds before another view showed up. This is a GREAT idea though, just slow it down a bit.

    • Thanks Mickie! We had already increased the speed from the original Tom put together, though you’re right, hard to focus on some shots. It works well on the sequences where I took multiple quick-spaced photos though, something to keep in mind for next time I’m up in the air!

    • if you want to watch the video slower, just click on the settings button (looks like a cog at the bottom right) and select speed then half or 3/4 speed

      • I have always loved pictures taken from the plane of sky and clouds especially. Thanks for creating this show, it is great to see that others find sky shots enticing. is is a great tip about viewing videos.

  • So many fun ways to fil your summer Susan – enjoy !! Thanks to Tom for putting that video together – loved seeing the snow under the clouds – it was snow right !! Really wonderful for this Aussie to see all those places from the air 🙂

    • Thanks Leanne, I’m sure I have in-flight photos from my trips to Australia and NZ too! I may even come across them as I also categorize my digital photos this summer. It’ll be fun to reminisce. Happy Wintertime to you!

  • Always enjoy the blog. The in-flight photos were amazing! Thanks for sharing part of yourself with all of us!

  • I feel exhausted after reading all of your activities… I must me so, so sloth like.
    No head banging on hard surface here…. enjoyed your “travelogue”… also adore your artistry, thank you Susan.
    kindly
    marg
    Western Australia

    • You know Marg, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed too. I’m trying the psychology that if you “put it out there”, you’ll be more compelled to follow through. Stay tuned to see if it works!

  • Thanks for sharing! I too take pictures from the plane window, although not quite so many as you! I love the river shots! There is inspiration all around us isn’t there?

  • Hi Susan,
    Just sitting having my morning coffee, and now I need a nap…your “vacation” tired me out! I think the part about napping with the kitty in your studio sounds purr-fect!
    Loved all this pics; Tom is a great photographer, but we know the Maine landscape offers so much. I think I need some kayak lessons from him! Hmmm, art quilt lessons from you and kayaking lessons from Tom!
    Thanks for the aerial photos; you gave me a quilt pattern idea; all those great colored squares of fields.
    Relax, rest, restore…

  • Thanks Susan, I feel like I just had a nice visit with you and Tom! This is a great way to catch up ! Richard and I are remodeling the cottage at our farm in Alabama. He retired in March and is running the cattle farm now. This week they are cutting hay and hoping the rain will hold off. Seems that farmers are always praying for rain, or not!
    We are adjusting to farm life; poor cell reception, well water, feed the donkeys by hand and walk to the lake and kayak!! It’s all good! Sometime soon we will be ready for visitors!
    Have a great summer – Janet

  • Hi Susan ,
    Enjoy your blogs each week! We throughly enjoyed your class in part 1, in Kalispell, Montana, and will looks forward to taking your class again! Thank you!

  • Hi Susan,
    I look forward to reading your post every Saturday morning, relaxing with a cup of coffee. We are traveling to Maine next week , my daughter lives there. You have given us several ideas of places to visit and sights to see. My favorite class was the one I took with you , I love playing with your technique. Thanks for all your inspiration. I can’t wait for your online classes! Enjoy your summer,

  • Enjoy your Summer in Maine and thanks for the book series recommendation as well as all of your teachings and hints.

  • I enjoyed your blog today as always. Your summer reads like an Alaskan summer, with trying to get in as many outdoor activities as you can in a short amount of time.

  • Enjoyed the slide show. Thank you for sharing you life and family. I look forward to your weekly blog.

  • Hi Susan – your video was amazing! I love clouds! I wonder what the mound/volcano like natural structures were – maybe in Texas…

    • Hi Jill, thanks! I’m pretty sure the mountain poking up through the clouds was Mount Rainier since I was on the way to a layover in Seattle.

  • So nice to have an upfront & personal blog about you for those of us not fortunate enough to be able to take one of your classes. Thanks for the inspiring share and I love your studio front porch!!!

  • I just returned from my annual week in Georgetown. Its so beautiful and a week is never long enough to eat enough lobster and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables and bread) from the Farmers’ Market in Brunswick. Hated to leave. Only the joy of visiting one year old Ella in Connecticut got me moving. Also, early corn at farmsteads near home make dining a treat.

  • Hi Susan,
    I loved everything about this blog post! Thank you! So enjoyed reading the details about your summer plans and activities in beautiful Maine. Maine has absolutely made it’s way onto my travel bucket list!!! Love all the photos! Your mention of Jane’s cards gave me what I hope is a great idea for my mom’s upcoming birthday. I ordered a set of cards and also a gift card for her to shop for some new art/craft supplies. She has always dabbled in artistic pursuits and she is very creative, although she would not say that she is. I believe she will enjoy the challenge of trying some new things. Thanks so much and happy, happy summer!
    Best,
    Juliet

  • It was interesting that one of the cloud pictures from Arizona mimicked the ridges of shore rocks in Maine. Really enjoyed this episode.

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