Category: Guest Blog

Guest Blog

Greater Joy, by Donna

We have a guest blog today by our neighbor, Donna. Donna went to downtown Belfast and scoped out the new arrival at the harbor. She had this to say about the duck:

“I must admit it was cool to see since I did not see her last year. Sure put a smile on my face🤗🤗”

Thank you for sharing your photos, Donna (since we haven’t left the house). This joyful yellow duck first showed up in New England last summer. We actually saw it go by our house on the way to Belfast Harbor in August of 2021. The origin and owner of the duck are unknown, but it does bring unexpected joy into people’s lives.

The local newspaper had a brief article on the duck’s arrival in Belfast: Penbay Pilot on the Duck.

In other news, everything is good. Still dealing with light rain, but it lets Catherine experience the true Maine end-of-fall weather. Stitch continues to get better every day, and we are just working at keeping him contained. Natasha figures Stitch has had enough attention, so that makes her even more annoying 🐶.

Guest Blog – Beth’s BlackBerry Adventure

Have taken a short break from blogging – all is well, just busy and catching up on our sleep. And just when I needed something interesting to write about, Beth comes through with her Southern California Blackberry Adventure. Thank you Beth!


It’s been so hot and humid here in Riverside lately, so when my good friend and coworker, Ava, asked me if I wanted to pick wild blackberries by a river in the mountains, I said what any person who has been sweating nonstop for the last month would say…hells yes!!!

Saturday morning we met up in Upland, which is at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and around the corner from the esteemed Claremont Colleges. (I know Sharon’s readers appreciate a little learning in their blog.) Ava was house sitting for her dad, who lives right off the main road up to Mt Baldy.  Mt Baldy (aka Mount San Antonio) has a peak of 10,064 feet and is home to a ski resort and hundreds of hiking trails, and is the high point of the range. On clear days, you can see the top, often snowy, from Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties.

We drove up up the road for about 10 minutes before we pulled off. A very short hike down and there it all was…a flowing stream of crystal clear, cold water, lined on both sides by overgrown blackberry bushes covered with both ripe and unripe blackberries!  There were a number of small to medium pools where people made dams over the years, but the stream flowed. And the water was really refreshing. It was cooler where we were, but still a warm day. We picked all the ripe blackberries we could find and then sat on the rocks with our feet in the stream. It felt like a jungle oasis!

And then what did I see out of the corner of my eye? A giant snake! It was on the hillside we had walked down, but we didn’t think it was a rattlesnake because it was very dark drown. I kept eyes on it while Ava picked blackberries. I admit, it was pretty far away and we were in no danger.  But still! It slowly made its way up and across and eventually under a fallen log.

We hung out a little longer and then decided after we picked all the ripe blackberries we would look for another spot higher up the mountain. We drove to other places but neither had water in the stream so we ended up a little further downstream from where we originally started. Here’s Ava and a good pic of the mountainside, which is very rocky. It’s quite a contrast from the tree covered hillsides in the neighboring mountain range.

We were hot enough at this point that we decided to just walk in the stream in our shoes. That way we could also reach the berries on the far side of the stream! All of a sudden, a lady yells over to us to be careful when we leave because there’s a big rattlesnake on the trail and pointed out exactly where it was. We thanked her profusely and decided to walk upstream away from the snake. But first we had to sneak a peak at it! We swore it was the same very dark brown snake that we had seen just upstream but this time, we saw its rattle, and it was big! If you zoom in, you can see he has an almost white rattle that was 2-3 inches long. It didn’t seem bothered by us and a few other people taking a look, but we all kept our distance. Here it is, unfortunately just below a piece of trash. 

It was not crowded at all so we decided to walk the stream a little longer, picked more blackberries on the way and then eventually headed back down the mountain.

We wanted to grab a sandwich before heading back to the house, stopping at one sandwich restaurant (they only had chicken salad and French dips left – what?) and then a bagel sandwich restaurant (they ran out of bagels, 50 wire bins on display and not one bagel in any of them). Really?!?! This was making us very hangry, and the next place we laid eyes on was a walk-up crepe restaurant. I ordered a Thanksgiving crepe, which oddly enough tasted like peanut butter. Not a place I’d go to again. Thankfully, the crepe place happened to be next to an ice cream store so…easy decision there! 🍦

We headed back to Ava’s Dad’s house where we spent the afternoon lounging in the pool. It was an adventurous, fun day and I’m looking forward to going back!

Here’s what’s left of our bounty:


Thanks again, Beth. I would not have enjoyed seeing a rattlesnake!

Guest Blog – Photos from Amy

Amy and I were sharing photos of hobbies, and I thought you would all be interested to see these butterfly photos. Amy has been raising butterflies for years, and releasing them when they are ready. What a fun hobby!

These shots are from several years ago – she said she set free over 650 butterflies! Don’t forget to click for full size photos.

A look at a couple of swallowtails – these are rare to raise:

Here are some monarchs – Amy says these are much easier to raise, and she generally releases several hundred each year:

A few more photos:

So interesting to see what our friends and family are up to. Amy shared a few more interesting photos.

The story about this little guy, from Amy:

“This was my excitement last weekend…a fledgling hawk fell out of the nest that I monitor all the time at the bottom of my driveway. I have followed this pair of parents for years. They mate for life and have a life span of 50 years so we are friends. This little one, not so little, is about a foot and half tall and has a wing span of over 2 feet. So I picked it up and got in my SUV with it and drove down to the base of the tree with their nest, climbed on top of the car, all the while holding the hawk and was able to get it back in the tree…BUT it kept falling out so after about 6 times and just hoping it would survive, it came up to my front door…so I picked it up again and put it in one of my butterfly cages to keep it safe. It never tried to hurt me though it’s talons are over 2 inches. Fed it chicken livers and after a few days of it still not flying, I found a woman who does this. She came and picked it up and when it is ready to fly, she will bring it up here to release it.

What I won’t do for a good time…I would rather stick to my butterflies…”

Never a dull moment, it seems. Amy also shared this photo of Kelly, the love of her life. Amy is the last person you would expect to fall for a small dog, she has always had large dogs that I remember – an Irish Setter in college, many Golden Retrievers (including the parents of our first goldens), and then German Shepherds. Kelly is a heart-stealer.

A few more from her garden:

The last photo brings back memories of many afternoons and evenings, sitting on the patio sipping wine and making up stories. This sometimes lead to Amy and Lou singing while Amy played the piano. This home is located in the Box Springs Mountains in Riverside County. I think it is the only home in the Reserve. From here, we could look down on our house in Riverside – that is a long time ago!

Thanks for sharing, Amy. Glad to see you are keeping busy. We will have to go on another adventure before we all get too old!

Amy and sister Claudia, from our adventure in the Galapagos.

Guest Blog – Max Joins the Family

We have an exciting update. Chrisie has kindly written a guest blog to tell us about Max. Read on …

We got a puppy! He was born on February 13th in Tennessee. He’s a Labrador, Retreiver mix.

We’ve been discussing a dog for Louie. We looked into the local shelter here. We looked and looked and Yan fell in love with ‘Adair.’ When we got to the shelter we were introduced to many dogs that fit our profile.

I was leaning towards an older dog. Then they took us to the puppies. The one I picked up happened to be Max!

He was named Adair in the shelter. It was instant love. And he was the only one Louie would touch. 

We adopted him and then had to wait for him to be neutered. He had surgery on Friday and we picked him up on Saturday. Louie was a very happy boy.

First night was a lot like the first night with Louie except for taking him outside because he had diarrhea 🤣. Second night was much better.  He likes his crate. He has learned if he naps outside of the crate, we won’t leave…but nothing like a snuggly crate compared to the cold tile. He pees and poops outside (most of the time.)

He’s a good puppy. He likes crinkle toys, not squeeky ones, and is Full of energy!

Meet Max:

Chrisie sent this pic through late this afternoon. Max is watching dogs on a PBS special. He may take after his Uncle Stitch.

Thanks so much for the guest blog, Chrisie. We think Max is beautiful, and we look forward to hearing more about the Adventures of Louie and Max ❤️

Even More Snow

We got a nice covering of 3 to 4 inches of snow on Friday, but Kathy and Steve had about a foot in Machiasport. It looked especially beautiful in the sunlight on Saturday. Machiasport is located about 100 miles from Northport:

Guest Blog Photo Share by Kathy

Let’s start with this short video of Steve, the Snow King, running his high efficiency snow blower:

Here is a view down the driveway on Friday, when it was snowing heavily – you can almost not see the house.

Now let’s go to the day after the big snow, when it was easier to take photos – click to enlarge:

There were also some critters out in the snow:

And then there is this strange animal track through the snow. Somebody could not get their fat belly out of the snow! (Kathy thinks it might have been a porcupine)

Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your beautiful snow day. Amazing how snowfall is so different from place to place. You got a foot, Laurie said Boston got about a foot, and we got 3-4 inches, even though we are right in the middle.

It is Sunday morning, and is very windy here in Northport, and almost 40 degrees. Rain is just starting, so we are going to lose our pretty snow. Kathy said they are seeing the same at their place. This reminds me of last year, when it would snow, but then melt or get washed away a day or two later. Fingers crossed for a better finish to this winter season.

Stay Safe!!!

Legoland – Part 2 – Guest Blog

Here we go – the rest of the story. Chrisie continues the Legoland Adventure below:

Legoland Guest Blog by Chrisie

We had breakfast and then headed west on interstate 4 towards Legoland. We were going to stay at one of the Hotels on the park’s land but they were booked for our dates. It ended up working better because someone got a much needed night’s sleep. 😃

We arrived early and parked. I went to the customer service counter to make sure our tickets were in order. You have to reserve everything online now. Good  thing I did. Someone (me) had messed up the tickets. The customer service representative squared it out and we headed towards the gate. Note: the Legoland website is not easy to navigate..

We started at the back of the park. We had read in a travel blog that everyone starts at the carousel. The back was completely quiet. They even had Vegas! Thought about Beth, but there was no Lego Beth. 😉

Louie wanted the first stop to be the mini US. Everything was made out of Legos. This was our favorite part of the park! Very very cool. They even had Palm Beach. We saw Lego Dragons, mummies, even animals. We did a couple of rides. No motion sickness; all the rides are for young children.

 Note: Legoland is PERFECT for kids under 10. Louie had a ball; absolutely loved it! Louie stopped inside some hands-on places.It was pretty cool.We grabbed burgers at the only place open to eat for lunch….a little hard to find food at Legoland. Then we went to the museum that told about the history of Legos and Legoland.

I forgot to add that mini USA had water squirters – see the photo below. Every little river had a button to push to shoot out water. Louie accidentally soaked a lady. We quickly left the area but it was hilarious!!

Yan was exhausted. Louie got a shirt and we headed home. It was a great day. Thank you Uncle Lou and Aunt Sharon for the Legoland experience. We haven’t seen Louie that excited in a long time.

This concludes the guest blog.

Thank you, Chrisie, for sharing your Legoland Adventure with us. Note – I asked Chrisie how crowded it was, and she said it wasn’t crowded at all. I guess these crazy kids were not so crazy after all, and this was a perfect time to visit Legoland. We are so glad you all had a great time.