Sunday, June 18, 2017

My current adventure: a week of teaching on Star Island

I was invited to teach felting on Star Island about three months ago, and I spent the last of those three months planning my lessons, packing three big boxes of felting supplies to send to the island, and worrying.  Sometimes I think that worrying is a necessary prequel to a challenging new adventure. What could go wrong?  The boxes, with all the supplies I needed, could fail to arrive.  Or I could get sick and toss my cookies on the way to the island.

The boxes arrived.

But the cookies did get tossed.

It was a little bit choppy out there on the way to Star from the Portsmouth ferry dock.    The ferry that carried me, the Thomas Laighton,  looked like a pretty good, big, stable boat.

Not stable enough for me, though.  When I got to the island after the one hour trip, shivering with cold sweat and trembling with rubber legs, the steps up to the Oceanic Hotel, where I would be staying, looked like Mt. Everest to me.  Can you see them?

I couldn't eat dinner that night, and trembling though I was, I was required to deliver a short speech to the assembled Star Arts attendees, describing the felting workshops I would be leading every morning from 10 to 12.  I managed to do that, then retired to my room, where the tossing of the cookies continued.  I knew I was dehydrated and needed water, but I couldn't keep it down.  My head pounded. I was trembling and scared. Being alone here, I was afraid of what might happen overnight. So I decided I had to go to the island doctor, who wasn't even technically on duty at that time.  She lives in a little house not very far from where I was staying, but I had to be delivered there in a golf cart.

She was so kind.  She said she had worked in the medical unit of a big university for 23 years, and she regularly saw students who were dehydrated from throwing up, especially on weekends.  They needed intravenous rehydration, but I didn't need that, fortunately.  Instead, the doctor gave me two anti-nausea pills, Zofran.  She said they were developed for the nausea of chemotherapy, and for that reason they Then some tylenol for the headache.  After about 45 minutes, the trembling and the head pounding were about 60 percent gone, so the kind doctor walked me back to the Oceanic Hotel, where I was staying.  I slid into sleep and was awakened in the morning by a troop of women, singing in harmony outside my door, to the tune of Holy, Holy, Holy: "Coffee, coffee, coffee...."  and then announcing the temperature, 63 degrees, and the weather, foggy.

After that I knew it was going to be a great day.  And it was.  My empty stomach appreciated the breakfast.  The chapel service after that was peaceful and thoughtful. Afterward I delivered three "Taster's Choice" talks and demos, half an hour each, to give people a chance to decide which arts programs they wanted to take for the week.  What great choices:  Bollywood dancing, for example, music, writing, and photography are a few of the others in addition to mine.

I got a lot of interest.  I think over 20 people are going to take my class, a few of them men.  Here's the room where I'll be teaching:

I don't know who the random guy is.  But I can tell you there are ocean views from all the windows.

Most of my visitors this morning were fascinated by this most user-friendly and tactile of arts. I think we're going to have a good time together every morning from 10 to 12.

And there are a lot of other things to do when the art workshops aren't happening.  A geology walk.  A botany walk.  Stretching.  Chi Gong.  Yoga. Boat rides (I think I'll pass on those this time). Afternoon tea.  A talk called Ghosts and Graveyards.  An auction. A talent show.  Chapel services twice daily.  I'm gonna be so well rounded!

Meanwhile, take a look at this place!  It's over 100 years old  It's such a big rickety old building, I half expect Jack Nicholson to show his deranged face around a corner.
 But it's not scary, it's quaint. In so many ways, it's a throwback to the Victorian era ,when families would come out here and spend the whole summer.  Check out the Victorian-ness of the Pink Parlor.  Because this room is carpeted, I chose it for my pre-surgical physical therapy exercises.

And here's the dining room:
I can tell you it's cacophonous when full.  Echoey.  In fact, this whole place is echoey.  But that's part of its Victorian charm.

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