Sunday, May 22, 2022

Funny Toucans

 Hi everyone. I hope everyone's having  a nice weekend. 

It's very hot and humid here again this weekend, before we get another cool down this upcoming week. 

I'm up early today as I need to head off to Massachusetts for my niece's bridal shower. The shower is at 11, and I have a  2+ hour drive, as long as there's no traffic to slow me down. And last night we had a wedding in Maine. I responded to both of the RSVP's when both covid numbers and gas prices were much lower than they are now. I guess next week I will be testing to be sure I didn't catch covid, even though I did/will mask up for much of these events, but you can't eat nor drink with a mask on, can you? 

The wedding was  fun though. Much of the wedding was actually outside, and it luckily was much cooler at the coast than it was at home.  The bride at the wedding has known my daughter since they were 2 years old, and I know both her and  her mom and step dad quite well.  And my niece is my  only niece not through marriage. Since her mom died of breast cancer a few years ago, I feel like I needed to go and be there for her.  Plus, she is my niece, and I want to enjoy this part of her life with her. I'm sad that I can't stop on my way home from the shower and visit my mom though, as I go right through the area where she lives. Her assisted living is in the midst of a covid outbreak, and they are requesting no visitors until it settles down. It is probably best since I'll have been to the 2 events, but it's time for a visit.

Enough  babbling. Today I have another  bird page for Matilde's challenge over at Art Journal Journey.


Several years ago when I was still teaching I went on a school sponsored trip to Costa Rica where I saw wild toucans. My page today is inspired by not only that adventure, but also by this fun set of toucan stamps I have.

I started my page by inking some foam stamps and stamping them on my page. I used purple and red ink with the stamps. I used green ink for most of the background. I was trying to create a very abstract rain forest, or at least the feel of one.  I left some whitish space where I wanted to stamp my toucans. Then I stamped my toucans directly on the page, and I colored in the toucans  with markers, as well as giving them a few details too.  

I then stamped the flower (which I also used white ink to color), some small background images, and the small words which are all from my toucan stamp set. Finally I used a stencil and a Sharpie to  add the large phrases.

This would have made a great travel journal page, although that was one trip that I never created a travel journal about when I got home. (I was also getting college credit for the trip so  when I  came  home I had to write  a paper instead.)  Oh well, if I ever go back on my own maybe I'll collect enough "items" to make a journal.

That's all for me. If I don't get by your blog today, I will do some catching up tomorrow.

Have a great start to the new week. 







Friday, May 20, 2022

My Week's Adventures

Hi everyone. Happy Friday and happy almost weekend to you.

Whoever says staying home is boring doesn't know what they are talking about. I've had a lot of adventures this past week that didn't even involve getting into my car and driving. 

1) Home Chores: I've been hanging low this week trying not to go through a lot of gas. Mostly I've been busy with gardening and also unpacking a few craft supplies back into the just about finished art space. I've also stained and urethaned the trim boards which hopefully will go in tomorrow morning, and then, I can officially move everything back into place. Hurrah! 


Soon my lettuce, kale and spinach will be ready to pick out of my cold frame.


And my newest garden is coming along. I planted some dahlia bulbs and some zinnia seeds this week so I hope they grow.


2)  Nature: The other day I took a long  walk (thankful for wind to keep the bugs away), and that turned out to be  an adventure also.

The coltsfoot flowers (Tussilago farfara)  (Thanks David for mentioning this plant in a post so now I know what it is) may have passed, but I love these pom-poms left to spread their seeds.


And I also spied a lady slipper (Cypripedium acaule).


This fern looks like fabric. 


And  further on the way home, I heard a large crack. It didn't sound good, so I took a quick look around, and maybe 15 feet in front of me an old rotted tree came crashing down, bringing a branch off another tree down with it. I took this photo where I was standing right after the big fall.


Maddie was totally unimpressed, but it was a bit scary until I knew what exactly was being blown over. I called the town highway department to let them know they'd need someone to clean it up.

That same night, around 2 AM, the dogs started going NUTS. I totally missed this photo op  as I was more concerned about my bees and bird feeders than grabbing a camera, but once I snapped on the back light, standing in my yard was a big old black bear. He and I took a good look at each other through the window, and then I rapped on the glass and he ambled off into the woods. 

Of course bears are really smart, and what they do is only amble out of sight, figuring you'll turn off the light and go back to sleep (or most likely forget about them) so they can then come back. I waited about twenty minutes. Then I let the dogs out,  and I took my flashlight to go check on the bees (all OK) and to grab my hummingbird feeder, which was the only one still out. I didn't walk very far out into the yard though, because I don't want to come face to face with a bear.

All was good with the bees and feeder, but I did hear Mr. Bear running through the underbrush of the woods. He was loud as he ran over branches, snapping and cracking them, and also as he ran through brush. I could tell he was getting further and further away from the noise level. I knew then he was really gone. Maddie did some of her "Get Out of My Yard" barking and Pete ran around smelling the ground, followed by Maddie. Pete has chased a bear or two in the past, and I was glad he didn't decide to do that because the bear was far off and if he did go off after it, he'd be gone at least an hour.  Plus dogs can get hurt if a bear swipes at them with their claws. Most importantly, I wanted to go back to bed.

3)  My Art for Today: My journal page will probably be lost in this post, but since that's originally what  I planned on  sharing today, let me include it.


My inspiration for this page was this fun lady. She was on a birthday card I got from my aunt this past March. I didn't want to hang onto the card, but it came from my only aunt still left alive, so I thought I could recycle her onto a journal page. That way there I would always think of my aunt whenever I looked back to this page. It also explains why she has no feet because her legs ended at the  bottom of my card.

I started by inking half the page orange to match Myna's hair, and then I used gesso and stencil to make the design. I layered some paper scraps, some of which I added details too because they just looked too blah without any details.  I also added some washi tape with letters on it and some little paper scraps to make the ground.  And I also used markers and a pen to draw outlines not only around my page but also around the paper layered sections on the left.

I added my Myna, and then I found some silly punch out birds from an Art By Marlene punch out book. I also found the scooter image. I think Myna looks like a lady who would have fun and be on the go. I did color and add some details to both the birds and the motorbike.

I'm linking this art piece up to Art Journal Journey. This month Matilde is hosting and as you probably already know, the theme is birds.

I am also linking up to Gillena's Friday lunch break, and Nicole's Friday Face Off.

Have a great weekend. Thanks for visiting.


Thursday, May 19, 2022

Pollination

Hi everyone. 

This week  Rain's challenge is Pollination, and this topic is right up my alley at the moment.

I'm going to start with a journal page for Matilde's bird challenge at Art Journal Journey. You should stop by and add some bird themed journaling if you have any. It would be a great way to welcome Matilde  as a first time host.

Since my journal page is about birds, I looked up about birds and pollination. I knew hummingbirds were pollinators, and I was surprised there are over 2,000 species of birds that help pollinate.  According to what I read, much of this bird pollination occurs in tropical places or places where insects are not as abundant. Bird pollination is called ornithophily, which is a new word for me. Common North American species that do ornithophily are hummingbirds and orioles. 


OK, I didn't include bird pollinators on my page, but to make my page I used a hexagon (honeycomb) stencil and some watercolor markers. I used watercolor paints for the background splatters. I also used a couple of interesting paragraphs from a worn children's bird book. The flying birds, singing birds, bird cages and quote are stamped images. And I finished up my page with some washi tape as well as a pen to outline the honeycomb.


And since my pollinators have arrived and been installed in their hive, here's a few bee photos.


I needed to check the hive 5-7 days after the bees arrived to be sure the queen had eaten her way out of her little queen shipping box. That's when I discovered another issue.

One hive has mostly absconded. Oh no!
Basically that means that the bees from one hive have flown next door and joined the bees in the other hive. It's not exactly known why bees do this. I spoke to a woman where I got my bees from wondering if the shipping issues had anything to do with this, and  she thought no.  Her take on it was that the queen in the hive that the bees moved into has stronger pheromones. In this case those hormones are what attract the workers to their queen.

Now I have one hive very full  of bees, and comb is already being made.


In this next photo I'm showing you the box the queen arrives in.  Can you even see the box? There are bee ladies all over the queen's box. I needed to check that the bees had eaten out the candy cork so the queen could leave.


I really like in this same photo how  I caught the bee flying towards the bottom right corner. 

And the bad news is my other hive has a queen , but only a few ladies remain.


According to the woman I spoke with, these bees will abscond soon to the other hive as did the rest of their hive mates. I read that even the queen will go. 

I've also read that I can move eggs, but since the queens are just coming out of their boxes there are no eggs to move. It looks like it will be a one hive summer again.  Perhaps I shouldn't have ordered 2 boxes from the same distributor, as they say the most likely time bees abscond is when they are new to the hive. It's not a common thing to happen, but it's not rare either. 

Oh well, at least I can I say I haven't lost bees.

Hope your week is going well!
Thanks so much for visiting also.










 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Being Naughty-Twice!

 Hi everyone. 

It's the middle of the week and time to share some food over at Kathy's Food Wednesdays.

This week for Food Wednesday I am sharing 2 high calorie dinners I had over the past weekend.

I'll start with Friday night when my husband and I decided to have hot fudge sundaes for dinner.


My hot fudge sundae with coffee ice cream was yummy, even if it was about a million calories. I should mention my husband had taken the day off from work, and we had skipped lunch as he was working on finishing the floor in the spare bedroom project I've  mentioned too many times already. When he finished, we had an early dinner about 3 in the afternoon, so by evening we needed a little something but not a lot. An ice cream sundae seemed like a good choice.

Funny I don't eat much ice cream in the winter, but as soon as it warms up I could (but don't) eat it daily. My mom, who is 92, does eat it daily and has for years, so maybe there is something to it. 

And then on Sunday we also had an early dinner. This past weekend our favorite summer restaurant, Pop's Clam Shell, opened.  They are a take out place on one of the lakes near us that serves mostly high calorie fried food. 


We guessed Saturday with the sun and high temperatures the line would be really long so we decided to wait until Sunday when we were predicted to have showers. Hoping that would keep the line a bit shorter. From what we heard while waiting, it was over an hour wait in line on Saturday. I'm glad we went Sunday EXCEPT that they were out of lobster rolls. 😕

So I had a fried clam roll instead. 


As usual there were more clams than could fit into the roll. My husband had fried chicken tenders, and we split a small side of onion rings. And I was impressed that their prices either stayed the same or only went up $1 from last season, depending on what you bought. I do think I've had more clams when I've bought a clam roll before, but there was still more than enough here. In fact, they wouldn't all fit into the roll.

This week I am eating lots of salads and other healthy foods after this past weekend's being naughty twice binge.
OK, that's all for me this week. I'm  keeping my post short.
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!




Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Butterfly House

 Hi everyone. Happy Tuesday. 

It is the middle of May and already time for a new challenge at Try It On Tuesday. Thank you to everyone who joined in our Use a Stencil challenge.

This time you may still use a stencil if you'd like, but our newest theme is 

BUTTERFLIES.

Here's my page for this latest challenge. 


Have you ever been to a butterfly house? I've been to one a few times, and they are such amazing places to visit.  That is the theme of my piece today.

I have a 4 ring journal that came with some pages in it. The paper is rough, but surprisingly takes stamped images well. It's not good with wet media though, so to color the white background I took an ink pad and rubbed it on the paper. I do like the texture that technique  created.

I glued down some scraps of printed tissue paper. I also added a piece of washi tape. Next I stamped the butterfly wing image 3 times.  Finally I glued down some acetate images, including what I am calling a butterfly house, and then I stamped the quote.

Be sure to check out the art the design team has included. There's lots of fun you can have with butterflies for this challenge. I am also looking forward to seeing lots of butterflies, because who doesn't love them?  You have 2 weeks to join this challenge, and any kind of art is accepted.

I look forward to seeing your art over at Try It On Tuesday for our latest challenge.
Thanks for visiting my blog

Monday, May 16, 2022

T Stands for The First Swim

Hi everyone.  Happy Tuesday and of course happy T day to you also.

Last week it became summer in New Hampshire. The leaves popped fully open. My peonies, azalea's and alliums started getting flower buds, and the temperatures bounced up to almost 90 degrees F/ or 32 degrees C at the start of the weekend.  Even though the high heat stalled some gardening I want to do, luckily my MIL's home is on the lake. My husband, one of his sisters and his mother were there Saturday as they had a meeting with a care service. They want  my MIL to have one more summer at her home, but she can't be left alone without someone doing a daily check in since she is not only physically declining, but mentally declining also.

I stayed home during their meeting, but I went up afterwards for lunch. It was hot enough that my husband decided to put the dock in, seeing you have to get wet to do that. Since my SIL and I were the only ones around to help him, guess what we did?


I am often in the lake over Memorial Day (the last weekend in May) but never this early. Surprisingly the water wasn't even that cold. Of course with the air so warm the water felt good, and I am sure if I wasn't as hot and sweaty because the air temperature was cooler, the water would be freezing.  

After we finished the dock frame, I figured I was half wet so I might as well get fully wet.

(And in this first photo we had finished the frame but my husband had yet to put on all the top pieces.)



It made Pete happy as he loves swimming with someone. You can see his head near mine. I must admit the water did feel really cold on my arms, but I'm still glad I got wet.

And since it is T day again, it is time to  share our drink related photos over at Bleubeard's and Elizabeth's blog.
I will share my beer. After the dock frame was in and I took my dip in the lake, I came out, dried off a bit and then warmed up (quickly) in the sun. I had a beer and read a bit.


I thought I'd also mention that the floor is done in the spare bedroom/studio project, and other than waiting until next weekend for the  trim to get finished, I have been able to do a little  bit of setting up. 


Hurrah! 

And you might also remember from last week that I mentioned how I couldn't see my daughter over Mother's Day as she had covid. This past weekend we managed to have a brief meet up in a parking lot (which is a long story I'll spare you), but I wanted to share this pop up flower bouquet card she gave me. . I haven't seen a pop-up card this complex before.


It 's so pretty I put it on my  fireplace mantel. It can even stay there for the summer.

And lastly, my bees arrived. For those of you who mentioned last week you liked reading about them, here's my post from  Saturday for those who may not have seen it but want to view it : The Bees Arrived!.  I know not everyone likes bees.

That's it for me. Have a wonderful T day and week ahead. Thanks also for visiting.







Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Bees Arrived!

 Hi everyone. Happy weekend to you.

This past Thursday my 2 boxes of bees arrived. Let me describe that adventure for you today. FYI, this is a longish post.

Sadly my original hive didn't make it through last winter, but I'm still not exactly sure why. The best I can figure out is that it was either too cold and my hive just didn't have enough bees to maintain hive heat (to withstand that cold), or it might have been  because the hive had been weakened by a bee disease and therefore couldn't make it through the  trials of winter survival. There was still plenty of food in the hive, and my top moisture box and pad were dry.  When I opened up the hive most of the bees were clustered together in the middle, almost as though they were flash frozen in place. We did have more than the usual very cold days this winter. I'm still trying to figure out what killed them though so hopefully I can have better luck in the future, and it is  still sad  to even think about all those poor bees.

I hadn't given up on bees though. I had already ordered one box of  bees for a second hive before I knew whether my bees survived the winter. After realizing I had lost my bees, I ordered a second box. I'm not planning on having a bee farm, but I am interested in a couple of hobby hives.


Of course, nothing is ever straightforward. Wednesday night I had a message on my phone that my package was damaged and that my bees were being scooped up and returned to their package in the Manchester, NH post office facility they had to go through before being shipped to my town. This didn't sound good.

Then on Thursday I had a 7 AM phone call from my local post office. I expected this, but as the woman explained, there was some damage to the box and not all of the bees were contained. I took a drive over to assess.  My 2 boxes of bees (they were connected to make 1 package) had bees on the inside and bees on the outside. The seal at the top of the boxes hadn't been damaged, but obviously some of the screening around the boxes had been torn so some bees had gotten out.


This is the top of my boxes.  On the far left you see some of the board that was holding the 2 boxes together. On both of these boxes you see the small board that looks like a mini shingle and that covers the entrance into the boxes. These boards were securely stapled in. On one of these boards you can see the big red "this side up" sticker across it.  And if you look carefully, you  can see some bees outside of the box. 


In this above photo that I took once I got home, you can see how many bees were actually outside of one of the containers. You can tell the box is still sealed if you look at the top of the photo and see that the board is still attached over the entrance.

The lady at the post office wasn't very happy with the way the bees had been delivered from Manchester. Basically there was a screen thrown over the box, much like you might throw a towel over something. At night, the bees on the outside were clinging to the box with their particular queen, but since the day was beginning and sun was coming up, the bees would be going out in search of pollen because that's what bees do.

I didn't bring any equipment with me, so I went home to get my suit, smoker and tools. Luckily the PO is only about 2 miles from my house. Plus I needed a minute to figure out what to do because I didn't want bees flying around my car as I drove them home. I was likely to get stung, and maybe even get in an accident which as you can guess, would not be good for many reasons.

I had the idea that if I got a large piece of screen and could find my husband's staple gun (which luckily was an easy find as he'd been using it in the spare bedroom project), I could first smoke the bees, then wrap the shipment completely in some screen and staple it all closed.

And that worked.  The lady and another postal employee in the room with me were quite impressed. I must say I was pretty impressed I came up with that idea also because for a while I wasn't sure what to do.
The first photo in this post is how I wrapped my bees. I took that photo in the back of my car.

I also kept thinking about my poor bees. I didn't know, and still don't know, how many actually escaped and didn't find their way back to the outside of the box. According to the women at my local PO, Manchester had called in a bee keeper to help out with this situation. I can imagine what it was like there with bees flying about.

Once I got my bees home, I used more smoke to calm them (it covers their attack pheromone response)  and then installed them in the hive. I couldn't take as many photos as I would have as I was the only one home (besides Mr. Pete who wasn't coming any place near me nor the bees/ Maddie was at doggie daycare that day), but let me show you some of those  photos to explain the process of installing bees.


In this photo above you can see their shipping box. I have taken off that small mini-shingle of wood that allows bees to be put in or taken out. There is a circular hole in the top of the shipping box  (under the mini-shingle) that contained a tin can that had some bee food (sugar water) in it. I  had to remove the can so the bees remaining in the shipping box could get out.  You can see that circular hole where the can was as there's some bees around it.

The queen and a couple of drones were in  a tiny little box that was sealed. (No photos, sorry.) That little box gets put into the hive, and they should be able to eat their way out of it within a few  days. I need to go back into the hive early next week to check that the queen did get out. If not, I need to pull out the candy plug and let them out.


To install the bees into the hive, I basically shook them out of the box. It takes a few shakes.


Once most of them are out, I put on my food box (I am feeding them sugar water for awhile so they don't starve) on top of that hive frame box, and then I put on the top of the hive. The purple hive is finished, the yellow hive in the forefront still needs the food box and top added.


I left the hive shipping boxes right in front of the entrances of the hives so any remaining bees that didn't fall out can get out and join their queen and the rest of the ladies inside the hive itself.

At first, it was bee pandemonium. There were bees flying everywhere. They were on my suit, in the air, on the hive, in the hive. Above the hives a black tornado shaped structure of bees formed. Poor Pete was desperate to go into the house, and it was hours before he'd go back outside again. And  they made a lot of noise. It was a fairly loud humming buzz. I wish I had a recording because it was a great sound.


As the day progressed, the bees were settling in. In this above photo you can see the 2 wooden top boards I removed to let the bees out, and you can also see the cans that fit into the entrance hole of the shipping container.  You’ll find them on the ground between the hives. And you see lots of bees too. There are a lot of them sitting on top of the yellow hive.


By evening, they didn't care about their shipping boxes, so I removed those. And life at the hives was a lot quieter on the outside. 



In front of the hives in the bottom of this final  photo you can see my latest garden project. I'm trying to put in some flowering plants but keep it looking a little more natural. I call it my bee garden. Everything I transferred or put in last summer and fall seems to be coming back.  Now I need to fill in some blank spaces.

And the electric fence around the bees is for keeping out skunks and bears.

It ended up being a good day because I was pleased I figured out a workable solution to the damaged packaging. I also got the bees installed. Even though I'd only had bees for one year, I must admit it seemed awfully quiet with empty hives. And with all that bee handling, I didn't get  stung either. Hurrah!

Now let's hope the bees have a great pollen/honey summer ahead. 
Thanks for reading through this long post, and enjoy your weekend.



















Friday, May 13, 2022

Friday Art

 Hi everyone. It's Friday, and it's almost the weekend. And it's Friday the 13th which might mean something if you're superstitious. I also just learned that Sunday there is a lunar eclipse.   

My husband is taking today off from work to get a few things done. I’m excited because today the plan is to get the floor in spare bedroom get completed.


You can see we moved my big shelves away from the wall and there is just a strip of floor left to do. And the best thing is when we finish and move the shelves back, I can start actually putting things back for good. 

As it is now mid-May (or just about),  things are starting to open up for summer. I'm excited because this was the sign at Pop's.

Hey, that's tomorrow!

Today I have some art to share with you.

First I have a journal page that I am sharing over at Art Journal Journey for Matilde's Birds challenge.  I also want to link up to Creative Artiste's Mixed Media Challenge. This month is their 82nd challenge, and as always, the challenge is Anything Goes.


My page is made with  various papers, stenciled bricks (using white gesso), and a little bit of ink. I also used a stamped and fussy cut lady, as well as some stamped flying birds, and some other ephemera. I finally trimmed the top and bottom edge of the paper with thin washi tape.


I also have another tag I want to link to Pinky's Add Some Stenciling challenge at Tag Tuesday.
This time I stenciled part of the background after inking it. I also used a stencil and a red Sharpie to trace the big hearts, as well as the dotted line design.



That's it for me today. I'm linking up to GIllena's Art Break which does every Friday. I am also linking up this tag face to Friday Face Off over at Nicole's blog which the Face Off link will take you to.
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.












Thursday, May 12, 2022

Sun and Water

 Hi everyone. Happy Thursday. It's been a gorgeous week weather wise, our first real week of warmer weather. Nature is really getting green too.

It's also time for Rain's Art Date, and this week the theme is Sun and Water. I am going to start my post with a journal page for Matilde's BIRDS challenge at Art Journal Journey.  This page is  in my horizontal journal so I had  a hard time getting it lay flat enough  for a well aligned photo.


Jonah and Beatrix are a handsome couple, aren't they?  They are out for a late day walk on a beautiful sunny afternoon, enjoying the longer days of May. There are lots of singing birds, but the temperature at this hour is  on the cool side. You can tell because neither of them are wearing their summer finery, but it must be spring as there are birds nesting in the trees. 

For my background I used printed tissue paper and some watercolor paint. I used some corrugated cardboard "paper" that was yellow, as well as some tape, some stickers, and a few TH ephemera pieces.

And what is a better way to show sun and water than a beautiful day by the ocean, river, pond, puddle or a lake? Last week Pete and I walked with my friend and her dog at the beach.

You can see Pete is having a wonderful time. When I let him off leash he just ran and ran. At one point he  ran maybe a third of the beach, ignoring everyone and everything around him. Then he stopped, looked back and realized how far he had gone from me, so he came zipping back at top speed. He was living his best dog life. 




This might be Pete's and my last beach walk until fall. Parking sticker season is about to begin. I can't buy a parking sticker as I don't live in the town where the beach is, and I could visit the state beach but they charge for parking also. I could buy a beach parking pass, but I know I would never use it enough. Plus they don't allow dogs at all. I might visit the beach myself a day or two over the summer, but it's not the same as an off season walk.

I shall miss my beach walks, but there will be other places to walk and when my husband gets his boat cleaned up, I'll be out on the water, instead of at the shore. It's all good.

Have a great Thursday. And thanks for visiting my blog.
















Wednesday, May 11, 2022

A Mother's Day Treat A Little Early

 Hi everyone. 

It is finally warming up and starting to feel like summer. I will probably say it is too hot by the time we get to Friday, but right now, it is nice to be able to finally open up most of the windows and air out the house.

Since it is Wednesday, it's time for Kathy's over at   Hummingbird Studio at the Lake blog. This week I have something that will hopefully "not gross anyone out" but was a special treat my husband surprised me with for dinner last Friday night. And it's a meal I haven't had since probably before Covid was part of our vocabulary.


These are steamer clams.

Here in New England we have some yummy seafood, since 5 of the 6 states (Vermont is excluded) have some coastline. Even here in New Hampshire we have a whopping 16 miles of it.  I'm not sure these steamers came from New Hampshire waters, but I am sure they come from somewhere fairly local.

 I even know how to dig steamers, although now you need permits and there's no more free digging at the coast to get them. My Uncle Bob, who was married to my mother's sister, came from Downeast Maine. For those of you not familiar with the area, Downeast Maine is referred to the Maine coast north of Portland. Well quite north of Portland and up to the Canadian border with New Brunswick. Uncle Bob and my Auntie had a cabin (yes a real cabin with an outhouse as that was still allowed back then) on the ocean way up on the Maine coast not far from Canada.  They had a piece of land that had been part of a large area that had been charted to Uncle Bob's family back in the days when one of the King George's ruled us in the colonies and had issued the family a charter. (I've seen the charter. It is an impressive piece of history.) 

Anyhow, I spent many weeks in my youthful summers staying with them in their cabin, and I learned how to dig clams. We would go out with our hand rakes (they look like larger garden forks with  tines and slightly longer handles) and fill a bucket, and then we would steam them to eat. 

I can't show you in this post how to dig clams, but I can explain how to steam them when you buy them. If you already know how to do this, then I apologize for the repetition. It isn't really different than if you were to steam mussels. 

 1) You need to go through your clams. You want clams that are still alive, which means their shells are closed like this one in my next photo.


This next one is questionable. The black piece (called the neck) isn't hanging out too far, and it isn't flopped over  limply, so it might be OK. But because clams eat by filtering algae and other particles out of the water, I decided not to risk it. It's not worth getting sick over.


2) You rinse them off and put them in a pot big enough to hold them and some liquid for steaming.


You can steam your clams in plain water, salt water or my preference, beer with  a little water. This is what we had for beer, so I added that and some water into my pot. I wanted to cover the clams so they all would get the hot water and steam.

3) The steaming process doesn't take  more than a few minutes once the liquid has reached boiling. You want to see the shells open up .


4) Then you need 2 small bowls and one large one or an extra plate.  Fill one small bowl with melted butter and one with the broth you steamed your clams in. My broth is darker because I used a dark beer to steam my clams.  You also need a bigger bowl or an extra plate to hold the shells as you clean the clams.


5) When you open your clams, you pull them out of their shell, dip  into the broth, then into butter and now you eat them. I like to do a few clams at a time so I open several and leave them in the broth until I am ready for the butter dip and eating.


6) And my phone doesn't do close ups really well, but when you first open up the clam there is this wrinkly black skin on the neck.  It's right under my finger in this photo. You should remove that before you eat it. It won't hurt you, but it's better without it. It is really called the mantle, and in the live clam it is what produces the shell and may even produce a pearl.


It's pretty easy. And tasty if you like clams. My husband won't eat them as he says they taste like rubber bands. (And I still wonder how he knows what rubber bands taste like-smile.)

In a New England summer clambake, the clams would be an appetizer, followed by a steamed lobster, corn on the cob, and some type of potato, often baked. In a true old fashioned clam bake, you find a low spot between the rocks on the shore or you dig a hole in the sand at the beach, light a fire, and then cook your food here. In these types of clambakes, you would often have baked potatoes because you can cook them easier than say French fries.

There was no lobster to follow my yummy clams. Prices for lobsters are really high right now. One grocery store had them on sale for $9.99 a pound. It must be the high cost of fuel causing the crazy prices, although last summer before gas went over the top they were just as high. And I'm basically local to the coast where they catch them. I can imagine what the prices are if you need to ship them right now. 

Eating clams makes me think of summer and lots of ways, reminds me of some fun childhood memories. I hope I didn't bore you with the long post and the digression back to my childhood trips to Maine. 
Hope everyone is having a great week.