midsummer night’s catch-up

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We haven’t made a post in so long, we have contemplated putting the B Bus on hiatus — the blog, that is, not the actual B Bus, which is still rolling on, taking us to camp, to the beach, to softball games and street fairs.  Summer is in full swing. The girls have graduated from 5th grade, said goodbye to our neighborhood elementary school, and embraced the middle school reading list along with their new cell phones.

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While at overnight camp at beautiful Ferry Beach in southern Maine, they made these stunning fairy houses. Perfect for teeny tiny magical woodland beings on a midsummer eve.

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And I’ve been puttering around in the garden a lot. Last summer’s epic road trip was so incredible. But in some ways it’s a relief to be staying close to home this year. I can never truly keep up with the weeds, but at least this year I have a fighting chance.

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We did lose some plants to the bitter winter, but it truly astounds me every single year when we see what has survived to push forth into the sun and heat and steamy green of summer.




saving the beach one blade of grass at a time

Here at beautiful Ferry Beach with our annual church retreat and we are joining the beach association to plant dune grass.

GHB and LHB making an excellent team with friend Megan and M’s dad John. This will preserve the dunes for the Maine plovers, and help save the beach from powerful erosion – for all of us!

After breakfast we all just hung out on the beach enjoying the mild weather and hoping for more sunshine to punch through the clouds.

M’s brother Conard started an epic moated castle while other folks strolled and put up a kite.
Yesterday we had a gorgeous drive up here in the B Bus with Megan, Conard and mom Amy. Even the interstate was lovely because the fall color in NH and Maine is at perfect blaze this weekend. And we arrived in Saco just before dark, in time for spectacular views of the salt marshes along the road to Ferry Beach, glassy and full in the fading light. We didn’t get a pic to share but we took memory photos!


misty morning in maggie valley


Summer Roadtrip Recap: Maggie Valley, NC

We didn’t end up blogging from the road as much as we thought we might. This was partly because we had to rely on inconsistent wi fi access at various stops along the way, and partly because we typically spent our evenings finding a local eatery, swimming in a hotel pool, and trying to get to sleep early so we could get an early start in the morning!  Days were spent driving (of course!), and cramming in as much scenic wonder, historic sites, and fun pit stops as we could manage. Now that we’re home, we want to recap some of the highlights from our amazing 3,600-mile journey, in both words and images, and not necessarily in chronological order.

Maggie Valley is in the heart of the Smokies about an hour west of Asheville, and close to the Oconaluftee entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It also boasts the added attraction of Tom’s Stand, a magical mountaintop home on Bear Stump Gap where we were fortunate enough to have a beautiful visit with dear friends I hadn’t seen in literally decades.


The girls were meeting Jane for the first time, and we got to sleep in her incredible art-filled log house, surrounded by flowers, horses, cattle, hummingbirds, friendly Jay Jay the Jack Russell guard dog and — perhaps in the middle of the night — a roving bear or two.

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The road to the house was shrouded in mist when we headed up off the highway in Maggie Valley near the pancake house, past the family’s Cataloochee Ranch. mail.google

The curving dirt road simply disappeared into the clouds in front of our eyes.

The Odyssey doesn’t have 4WD and this driver was modestly freaked out by the fog-shrouded drop-off at the edge of the steep road. So the B Bus had to spend the night at the ranch.  And Jane picked us up in her intrepid Subaru for our overnight in the clouds. When we pulled up at the big hand-hewn log house with its elven guest cottage across the lawn, LHB’s reaction was priceless: “She lives in a fairy house!”


And so it proved.  The cottage kept appearing and disappearing into and out of the mist like something from Brigadoon.


In spite of the rain that obscured the views, our visit was a joyful highlight of the trip, an evening of wonderful conversation and catching up with Jane, who was one of Emmy’s dearest friends back in NYC days, and son Ames, last seen by me sometime before either of us learned to read. The girls marveled at Jane’s multi-textured rooms brimming with art, photographs, ceramics, and curious objects. LHB took many photographs, including some of these.




When we awoke the next morning steady rain had set in, and we still couldn’t see over to the driveway.


IMG_0626We said goodbye to the hummingbirds and headed down to see the ranch and meet some of the other residents, including cows, horses, turkeys, and the staff and dudes (guests) at the ranch.



LHB hopped in and out of the car to take these great livestock and landscape photos.


We left a quahog from the Cape for Jane’s garden pond — a little piece of New England for her beautiful haven in the Smokies.


It was tempting to stay longer and we could have spent at least a week exploring these beautiful mountains, but we had to pull ourselves away from Cataloochee, bound for Chattanooga!


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raindrops keep falling


June has been wet and cool, except for that one crazy heat wave. The garden is happy, and this columbine is perfect for capturing big fat raindrops.


Fortunately, the sun has been breaking through in time for softball and nobody minds a few puddles.


We are still in school for two more weeks, with lots of field trips and excursions planned, so we’re hoping the sun continues to make timely appearances, especially when Grade 4 ferries out to Georges Island in Boston Harbor, and for our Canobie Lake day. But today, we’re hunkered down in the library, watching the rain.


april showers


Rained overnight, so everything was wet, and rainwater is pooling in these shells that stayed out in the garden under the snow all winter.  The quahogs look their best when wet, especially the gorgeous purple insides.  We painted the outsides, down on the Cape last summer — they are not in their natural state! It’s easy to see why the Wampanoags and other tribes used this material for jewelry or wampum.  I just like seeing the shells and knowing that spring will soon give way to the delights of summer.

GHB and LHB usually go clamming at least once while we’re vacationing in Brewster with our friends; I think these shells may actually be from one of the batches that ended up being boiled into a chowder!


Here are a couple of other shots from the just-coming-back-to-life April garden.