Catching a morning


Man fishing, Bass Beach yesterday at 6:30 a.m.

I like getting up early. I made the coffee, put the bird feeders out (we keep them inside at night because of raccoons), let the chickens out, walked the dog out back and saw that the swan was still there, then drove to the coast to go for a walk.

The rest of the day was busy, but a good start made it easy.

ocean after sunrise

A good dose of horizon does a person good.

In the half wild, late July morning

Whooper Swan

There is a feral or vagrant Whooper Swan visiting our pond. The species is native to Europe and Asia; the closest wild population is in Iceland. But it is legal in the U.S. to keep them as decorative though ill-tempered pets and you can buy them from breeders.

This one is likely an escapee. Fly free, my friend! Though I’m sorry you seem to have no friends right now.

More on my bird blog: July 27 and July 28.


Yes, I like to take pictures of flowers.

I was out in my wildflower patch this morning at 7:40 a.m. The light was very good.


A variety of cosmos are thriving from the wildflower mix I sprinkled in the old corn patch. I do love the flowers in the Asteraceae/sunflower family.

blue buttons

Blue flower crown for fairies.

Speaking of fairies, I think one hatched out of this egg I found a few days ago…

blue egg shell

Too small for robin and probably too small for bluebird, so maybe one of those woodland songbirds in the thrush family like a hermit thrush? The ones we have nicknamed liquid crystal warblers for their sweet eery echoing song.

This egg shell is on the kitchen windowsill with a black crow feather and a white swan feather. Soon the spell will be complete and I will understand the language of the birds, ho ho!

“Feed us some more black oil sunflower seeds and homemade suet dough,” they will say.

But what do you feed a swan? Pond weeds and algae, for now.

yellow wildflowers

More from the untended wildflower patch. I did not follow the planting directions on the package very well. I was more like the wind than a gardener. Some flowers are successfully battling the unwanted weeds and overgrown grass better than others. Darwin’s wildflower garden.

queen anne's lace

Queen Anne’s lace. I will add it to my photo bouquet. It goes well with Swan.

More flowers on Flickr: Flowers in our back field

A N.H. boat trip


Spanish galleon off the New Hampshire coast, Wednesday afternoon. The only galleon class vessel sailing in the world today.

female mallard

Our boat trip with friends began in the calm waters of Sagamore Creek, Portsmouth, six of us in a 24-foot boat departing from the docks of the Freedom Boat Club (and passing this mallard).

I bought my birding camera, the Canon Powershot SX60.

lighthouses new hampshire

Heading out the Piscataqua River to the ocean, we passed Portsmouth Harbor Light at Fort Constitution, New Castle on the right, then Whaleback Light on the left.


Some say Portsmouth Harbor Light is haunted.


Whaleback Light is built on a pile of rocks in the middle of the river.


It’s made of dovetailed granite, how New Hampsha.


It’s difficult to land a boat here. We guessed these folks arrived by kayak, invisible to us on the other side of the tiny island.

galeon andalucia

At the dock they told us about a couple of tall ships arriving that day. We spotted the Spanish galleon.


El Galeon Andalucia is a 170 foot, 495 ton, authentic wooden replica of a galleon that was part of Spain’s West Indies fleet.


The galeón class vessel was an ocean going ship type that evolved from the carrack in the second half of 16th century. Galeóns were constructed from oak, pine and various hardwoods for hull and decking. Hulls were usually carvel-built. Hundreds of expert tradesmen, including carpenters, blacksmiths, shipwrights and pitch-melters worked day and night for months to make a galeon seaworthy.

climb rigging


Climbing the rigging.

salt spray

Salt spray!

Duck Island

Next we headed out to the Isles of Shoals, about 6 miles offshore. First stop: the seal colony on Duck Island.


We watched them and they watched us. I think they are harbor seals.


More seals.


Also on the island: cormorants.


We anchored in Gosport Harbor, with views of Star, Appledore, Smuttynose and Cedar Islands, and ate our picnic lunch and drank a few beers.


Smuttynose Island, famous for murders and giving its name to a local brewery.


On our way back to the coast we passed White Island Light.


Once again, nice summer clouds as a backdrop.


Covered walkway from keeper’s house to the lighthouse is a distinctive feature.


Seavey Island is connected to White Island at low tide and supports a now-healthy and thriving tern colony. Read more on the blog TERNS and their ABOUT page.


Speaking of those lovely summer clouds… they transformed into a lovely summer squall with pelting rain. We dashed along the edge of the storm and sheltered in Rye Harbor… where we bought some lobsters for dinner later.


Back at Sagamore Creek, once again it was a lovely summer day.

There is NOTHING–absolutely nothing–half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. – Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows

After the Fourth


A wrack line of fireworks shells on Seabrook Beach, July 5.

In New England, Fourth of July is really the start of summer – weather-wise, activity-wise, and psychologically.


Just offshore: sailboat, terns and a cormorant coming in for a landing.


Terns are fishing. I don’t know what kind of terns they are.


Fun to watch them.


Fish spotters and daring divers.


I took a lot of pictures of this Ring-billed Gull.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Find This BirdLook for these gulls in parking lots, at sporting events, and around sewage ponds and garbage dumps. You may see them foraging for insects and worms in newly plowed fields, or perching atop light poles near shopping malls and fast-food restaurants. They also frequent reservoirs, lakes, marshes, mudflats, and beaches.


They are petite and cute compared to the larger Herring Gulls and Black-backed Gulls on Seacoast beaches.


Adults are clean gray above, with a white head, body and tail; their black wingtips are spotted with white. They have yellow legs and a yellow bill with a black band around it. Nonbreeding adults have brown-streaked heads. During their first two years, Ring-billed Gulls are a motley brown and gray with a pink bill and legs.


This gull has also been added to my bird blog. The post is: Barefoot gull watching.


Bye, gull.


Looking south along Seabrook Beach.


Looking north to Hampton inlet and the bridge to Hampton Beach.

New family member: Kamado Joe

pizza on the grill

This homemade pizza is going on the grill.


Not just any grill. Behold, the Kamado Joe.

I call it R2D2… or the Minion. It’s a relative of the more familiar Big Green Egg.

It has advantages over other charcoal grills. My husband did the research, bought it, and sold all his other outdoor cooking gear.

Why, John, why did you buy a Kamado?

“Temperature control. Ceramic heat retention. Easy to control heat through the vents. Great thermometer on the outside. It will get really hot or you can cook low and slow.”


Temperature is up to around 640, replicating a traditional very hot wood-fired pizza oven, which cooks the pizza really quickly, with a nice brown crust.


The pizza goes onto the hot pizza stone.

Surface of the stone was 435˚ F. (John has an infrared thermometer.) It took about 20 minutes to get it that hot.


In mere minutes our pizza was done.


There it is.


Bacon, onion, jalapeno, monterey jack and Mexican cheese pizza.


Food close up.

This was our dinner Sunday night.


Monday night: a pork, mushroom, onion and asparagus stir fry on the Kamado Joe. (This Facebook photo that attracted many Likes and comments.) On Sunday, June 21 he made a 12-hour slow-cooked pulled pork butt that was delicious.

Here’s a restaurant that cooks with Kamado Joes: Kamado Grille restaurant amps up the backyard experience in North Raleigh.

Also, from Atlanta magazine: How the Big Green Egg Became a Phenomenon

The Big Green Egg derives from a simple idea with an ancient lineage, as evidenced by pottery shards of cooking vessels in middens around the world. More specifically, it’s an updated iteration of a commonplace Asian rice cooker: the kamado, a Japanese word that translates as “place for the cauldron.” The Egg’s modern design, which uses durable ceramics, is modeled on the cookers traced first to the Chinese Qin Dynasty and then used by the Japanese beginning in the third century, says Fisher, who discovered the apparatus, like many servicemen of his generation, during his travels in Asia as a Navy engineer.

What makes kamados different from other metal charcoal grills is their heavy, airtight seal that holds in moisture, with small vents at the top and bottom to control air flow with precision. The focused heat also can be held to low temperatures for smoking. A kamado has a quick startup time; it’s ready to cook in just a few minutes. Moreover, the natural lump charcoal burns hotter and more efficiently than briquettes, and it produces little ash to clean up.

In fact, the physics of it prove so straightforward, and the success of the Egg so salivating, that at least a dozen other manufacturers have sprung up. Three other companies—Primo, Grill Dome, and Kamado Joe—are now based in metro Atlanta, which the New York Times pronounced “the de facto hub for ceramic cookers.” Each jockeys to distinguish itself, and each has rabid fans, arguing online with the same evangelical fervor devoted to debates about Carolina versus Texas barbecue.