Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To boat or not to boat...

For those who want the background, they can read the long post "In the beginning" if they haven't already. Otherwise, you'll find yourself in the middle of the story.

I went to the boat auction, and SFB met me there. Nothing called to me, except one boat that was bigger than the 30' (~9m) limit i had set (it was 33' [9.9m]), and the one trailer i thought perhaps suitable should AS's boat turn out to be The One wasn't what i needed, either. What was clear to me was how little i really knew.

Himself was away for an extended period and was fine with however i wanted to proceed; he liked the idea of having a boat, although knew less about them than i did, so i was glad for friends like SFB and Sailing Friend Joe (SFJ) who lent expertise or experience.

So, SFB and i drove the 70 or so miles to AS's house to see her boat. I told SFB i wasn't sure about this--it was frightening how little i knew--but he assured me i'd be all right, i knew people who knew stuff who'd be glad to help, and he thought AS's boat might be just the ticket. He also reminded me that i had been toying with this idea for at least a year, looking at some boats and all, so it seemed the idea was underway to being brought to fruition. I did ask him to let me know if the boat was crap. He said he would, and that if this boat wasn't The One, there were plenty others out there. The economy had hit a number of people very hard, so it was a buyer's market, really.

We got to AS's house and saw the boat. She had removed everything from inside the cabin as she did every year, so it was easier to clean and make ready the following sailing season. She had had it for years, and i came to understand that when she actively sailed it, she took excellent care of it. But her job then some health issues had gotten in sailing's way, and well, it was one of those things she meant to get back to but...

In short, the boat sat for 17 years. On the hard. Untouched. AS did pump it out now and again, and did cover it each year for winter until the last several. Or so.

It was a 19' (5.8m) sloop. It looked dingy and neglected, but SFB's eyes lit up when he saw it. Mine lit up, too, and i could see past the dirt. If it were sound i knew it was The One. It had a cuddy cabin that would be great for an overnight or even few days' sailing trip.

We crawled up and looked inside the cabin. Covered in mold on the inside, but SFB could see that the bones of her were all right.


I listened carefully for the inner voice, the one that's always right. The one i don't always listen to and wish i had. There was silence, but i got an image of a doorway wide open. I was at the threshold and I had the option of walking through. Or not. It was mine for the choosing.

"This is a good boat," SFB said, "Much better than i expected for one that's sat for so long." I walked through the doorway into boat ownership.

I said nothing, and we crawled down and looked at the stern.

She had no hailing port on her, which i thought was a requirement. In my boating class, they spoke about hailing ports and how it typically was where the boat was docked or moored, although it could be the owner's home address, too, if that were a different place. As i looked at her stern, she looked forlorn. And, i'd have to change the name.

Now, there's gobs written about changing a boat's name and how it should NEVER be done, or if it MUST be done, there's a special ceremony. I knew if i played a part in this boat's next chapter, the name had to change.

We went inside and discussed things. Yes, i was interested. AS was elated that someone would be sailing her again. She offered to help as she could, perhaps with how things went together, if i got stuck. My initial apprehension about dealing with an acquaintance rather than a strictly business deal seemed a tad silly just then.

We discussed price. AS said she couldn't sell her, it was like selling a member of her family. But, she'd be glad if i took her and used her well. I was in disbelief. I must have asked and said, "Are you sure? Here, let me at least pay something," six or seven times.

With each utterance, AS repeated more firmly. Nope. She was just glad someone was going to use her. I sensed a bit of relief mixed with happiness.

AS drafted a document saying that the boat was now mine. I did give her a paltry sum to please the state because i had to list an amount for the title transfer.

That was mid June, 2011. To boat or not to boat. To boat it was.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday night chit chat, 27 May 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

‎"A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle."—Benjamin Franklin

I've been poking around some boat books and articles. Also some knitting books as i'd like to try knitting a gansey.

I watched "The In-Laws" when a blogger had a clip in her blogpost (I forget her name, sorry!). I didn't realize there was a remake in 2003, and that's the one i ended up renting, although i thought it was the original until the movie got underway (at this particular video store, you only get the DVD/Blue ray disc in a clear jacket, and coverless). I wouldn't have picked it up had i realized it was the remaked, but i was highly entertained. Different from the original and one of the few times i can remember liking a remake as much as the original. It's been ages since i saw the original, though, so i'd need to see that one again to be sure i like them both equally.

Listening to
Birds chirping. It's still wonderfully sunny.


Happy you accomplished this week
Boat stuff: The portholes have been cleaned, i picked up the replacements, i touched up the fiberglass around the portholes and i'm hoping to get the new ones on tomorrow. Hope the weather holds for that. The keel is painted thanks to Himself. I can't find the spreaders for the mast. I don't think they got up and wandered away, but they weren't in the three spots i checked that made the most sense. I hope to find those tomorrow.

Finished the hat i was knitting. The gansey yarn arrived, and it's beautiful.
Weeded the asparagus bed and found three clumps of asparagus poking through! :-) Should be ready to pick in two more years.

Looking forward to next week
Still working on the boat jobs list. The port stern drain hose needs to be replaced. I definitely want to get the ports placed tomorrow (fingers crossed for weather) and work on the drain hose as time permits. Those are the two big jobs for the boat before launch this year. I ordered the right kind of adhesive for the inflatable and it's due to come Friday.
Attending a wedding for two lovely people on Saturday and sailing on my friend's schooner on Sunday.

Thankful for today
The sun! This weekend was great, weather-wise.
Celebrating Memorial (Decoration) Day here tomorrow. I've given thanks to those called to serve.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In the beginning...

I feel i must preface this before i get well and properly into the actual subject matter at hand, so get comfy, kids, top off your drinks or grab a cuppa.

For years, i've had what i call a life list. I had it well before the movie The Bucket List came out and at times it's been a written document. Other times only a mental one, perhaps making people think that i am indeed mental. So perhaps i am. But i'm happy in my world and don't harm anyone, and if my brain is burgeoning with dreams, that's my business. Unless, of course, i'm thinking of bringing the dream into reality when i might call upon a friend to help. Or husband to understand why this is vitally important, even if it's something we never really discussed.

I've done a fair amount on the list, and even now i'm still adding items, the most recent additions being hiking Offa's Dyke in Wales and knitting a gansey (guernsey or jersey), which is a particular type of sweater or jumper. Funny how English can change as we cross Ponds. One thing that stayed on the list for quite some time was learning to knit socks. Tick. Go to Alaska. Tick. Go to France. Tick. See the Grand Canyon. Tick (two ticks actually). Live with a cat or two. Tick (several ticks here, too).

An item can lie latent for many years on the list and be nearly forgotten until opportunity presents itself, when said item seems to wake up and draw my attention to it. And so it was with one latent item: a boat.

My brother got a rowboat for Christmas one year. A wooden one and a 3 hp motor so he could putter about the swamp and fish or go crabbing. I rode as a passenger, and found that i liked being in boats. I love being on the water. Even though i never knew a lot about it, i loved sailing. Himself and i have been canoeing. On one trip, we capsized three times, making us both understand that Himself really did not know how to be in the rudder position, even though he said he did, and we both thought it true. Still, no harm done, and we laughed a lot that day. Next trip out, i suggested kayaks, and we had fun with those. Enough fun that we both wanted one and now each of us does.

We've taken sailing trips as passengers and these are the sort of trips where passengers can help the crew. So, you can learn a bit, help a bit, but not really have to think as you stand and help as you are wont and the crew directs.

After moving back to the coast, i began to get a wild hair about having a boat of our own. It didn't have to be fancy or huge, but to have a little daysailer sounded very appealing. Giving it a bit more thought, i envisioned something a little bigger than a daysailer, something with a cuddy cabin would be nice, as we could do overnight trips or get out of the wet should we find ourselves suddenly in a downpour. We live near a large pond about 10 minutes down the road, and the sea is about 6 minutes away. I found myself looking at boats with more than a passing glance. Would this one suit our needs? Or that one? These thoughts weren't speaking very loudly in my head, mind you, or i most likely would have shut them off completely, but just a little nudge and, "So, what do you think about that?" sort of suggestion.

The dreamy part of me started to fantasize how this might work when the logical part of me came in. "No, no, no, no, no. This is insane. You really don't know anything about boats. Everyone you've ever known who's had one spends loads of time working on their boats. You are a mechancial retard."

So while the Dreamer was sulking in a corner, and Mrs. Logical was nodding vehemently that such thoughts are best kicked to the curb/kerb, i drove by a small boat on a trailer. It looked like the boat the Dreamer had seen. So, i pulled over to take a look. I wrote down all the information i could and realized i hadn't a clue to assess what i was looking at. Or if the asking price was too high or a bargain.

Himself was at our other house, and he knows next to nothing about boats, so i enlisted the help of two sailing friends. They gave me points to ponder, and the one volunteered to look at the boat with me. I was glad of it, as he's sailed for many years.  He was Sailing Friend Bob (SFB). He thought the asking price a tad too high, and the man we asked about it said he wasn't sure he could lower the price, as it was his father-in-law's boat. He had volunteered to set the boat and trailer at his place of business because his FIL noted that there would be a lot of drive-by traffic. We thanked him, and i did some online research. This boat was a 15' West Wight Potter. Good basic boat, lots of happy trailer sailors out there. I also found out that the West Wight Potter came in a 19' model and saw the extra 4 feet made a lot of difference in the cabin. Easier to have a porta-potty or miniscule galley.
(Conversions: 15'= ~4.6m; 19'= ~5.8m; 4'= 1.2m).

I knew there'd be costs involved after we got the boat. Probably oodles of gear we'd have to buy, and then what about a mooring? Would we want to trailer it all the time? My car can't tow anything, and if Himself were going to be at the other house for a bit, well, what then? It was in the autumn, and while Dreamer wanted me to get that boat, Mrs. Logical carried the day.

"Wait and see if it's there in the spring," she said, and before Dreamer could complain that Mrs. L. was simply stalling, Mrs. L. added, "Over winter, you can see what other bits you'd need to have to go sailing with this boat. You could maybe take a boating class to learn more. And besides, you know you really want a 19' boat."

Autumn leaves gave way to winter's chill and the 15' West Wight Potter left just before the first flakes fell. Perhaps to be stored away for the winter, and i'd see it in the spring. Meantime, i started making a list of what was needed on a boat. General things like flares, first aid kit, and pfds (personal flotation devices, or as we used to call them, life preservers). What would we need for singlehanding (i.e., just one person)? What would we need for two? About the time i felt overwhelmed, i saw our local adult continuing education program offered a boating class. This would help me see what all was involved and if it seemed like wayyyyy too much. Himself was not able to take the class as he was shuttling between our two domiciles so would miss some classes. I didn't have to shuttle, so i took the class. It was taught by the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, and it covered a lot of material. It was geared more to power boats. They have a sister sailing class, but no one to teach it in my burg. That saddened me, but there's a lot of general boating info that's helpful regardless of boat type, and i'm not sorry i took the class.

Rather than enervating, it encouraged me that i, yes I could do this.  I was the only one in class who didn't have a boat. Well, yes, technically i did as we owned kayaks, but not what some would say was a real boat. What i did find scary was hearing some of the people in the class mentioning they didn't know something that i thought very basic. These people already had boats and, i presumed, a lot more knowledge than i did. I presumed wrong. (If you take this class, you get a discount on boat insurance, so a few long-time boaters were there for the discount.)

Many states require that one takes this sort of boating class before one goes boating, but i live in one of those states that doesn't require it. If you have the money, you buy the boat and can sail or motor away instantly. Come to think of it, nobody ever asked me at a car dealership if i had a licence to drive. Same principle i guess. And, growing up on the coast, i could think of any number of youngsters who could row or control a boat from a very young age.

There was a test to take at the end of the course. I got 96/100, which pleased me very much. I had taken copious notes, read all the chapters, and have since considered getting the sailing text book if possible so i could read it for myself, as the motor boat one was so well written. Gave lots of pointers, for instance, on trailering boats and what to look for in trailers, checklists before you motor, and that sort of thing.

It was now very early spring, the days were growing longer, the last of the April snow showers had fallen, and i looked to see if the 15' West Wight Potter would reappear. It didn't. April turned to May, and it still didn't reappear, so someone must have bought it just before the snow came. I saw that the local Y had a huge boat sale each year in June as a fundraiser. Maybe there'd be something there. I got a list of the boats and thought SFB might be able to make suggestions. I told him i didn't feel comfortable trying to singlehand anything greater than 30' (~9m) and thought
mid-20's (7–8m) or less best. I explained that i wanted something we could singlehand, so if one of us wasn't here, the other didn't have to be stuck without a sailing partner. SFB had experienced this when his wife didn't always want to go sailing with him on their boat, and once he retired, he found many who wanted to go with him couldn't go because of work. He could and did singlehand his 41' (12.5m) ketch, although he found it more enjoyable when one or two others were on board. SFB looked over the list with me, noting which ones might be worthy of our consideration. He said that he'd be available the day of the auction, if i wanted him to accompany me and see the boats in person, but he wasn't going to be available for the preview because he'd be sailing on our friend's schooner. I appreciated any help whatsoever, and day of auction was better than naught. I could go to the preview and see if any boats spoke to me. If not then not.

The schooner of which i speak is one who takes passengers on multi-day sails during the summer, and this particular trip SFB mentioned was the first trip of its season. The schooner was built in 1886, before inboard motors were invented, so for engine power, a yawl boat is used at the schooner's stern. All cooked meals and hot water are furnished via woodstove. The cook is responsible for keeping the woodstove going, so Cookie's day starts around 4.30. The cook also has to get in the yawl when we're ready to get underway, and follow Cappy's commands. Cappy is at the helm. The mate and messmate don't have to start work until 6.30. When they do, the mate cleans the heads and swabs the deck. He also cleans off and squeegees the cabintops as meals are served up on deck. The messmate helps with getting breakfast ready, and making sure coffee, tea, and fruit is up on deck for passengers by 7.00. The messmate is responsible for making salads for lunch and dinner, helping with snack, and washing all the dishes. All crew help with the sails. The mate and messmate stay up in the bow to raise the anchor when Cappy is ready to get underway.

For several seasons as well as the summer before, SFB had often sailed on our friend's schooner as an unofficial crew member. He didn't have to get up as early as the "real" mate and messmate, nor was he expected to work as hard, but often did, and he was an immeasurable help in countless ways. I had offered both him and the cook refuge at my house, as some of the turnarounds were very short, and each lived about an hour from the schooner's home port; whereas i was about 10 minutes away. They appreciated but declined the offer, preferring instead to sleep in their own beds given the chance, although SFB did ask if he could do his laundry at my house on one tight turnaround. One of his family members had just been admitted to hospital. He put his clothes in the washer, and i shooed him out the door. I could hang them on the line when the load was done; he could run over to see his family, and when he came back to get on board, he could pick up his clothes. That same sailing season, on a week-long trip where SFB wasn't on board and i was, as a bunk was available, and i was asked to join at the last minute, the messmate took sick and had to leave a little before midway in the trip. Cappy asked me to take over as messmate, and i was glad to oblige, having held that position officially in the latter part of the 2000 sailing season. The cook and i had known each other from before and always got along well, so we had loads of fun in the galley. On the last day of the trip, Cookie slipped on the gunwale as she got into the yawl. The mate and Cappy helped her climb back up on the schooner, and while some passengers helped with making her comfortable, i cleaned up the foredeck and coiled lines. A few of the other passengers wanting to help and not knowing how followed my lead and coiled lines, too. Cookie was obviously in pain and had wrenched her back. She had been preparing brunch as was usual for the last morning on a trip. As i applied some arnica cream to her backside, i mentioned to her that i knew stuff was still on the stove, what would i need to do.

She ran through the list ticking items off her fingers, and when she was done the list, i went down below into the galley, accepting the help of a few very worried passengers who looked frenzied. It gave them something to do that would be helpful, and i was as grateful for their help as they were in having something to do.

It all ended well. The messmate was at the dock to meet the boat, feeling very much better and able to return to her messmate duties, and Cookie made a complete recovery, although she was sore for the remaining few weeks of that sailing season.

And so here we were, at the start of another sailing season. Some of the boats were starting to arrive at the Y so i could gawk. None called my name, but they weren't all there. I was in the garden, after work and hoeing weeds, when my cell phone went off. Now i almost never have my cell phone turned on, as i work from home, but thought i might get a text. The previous summer, SFB or Cookie would text me sometimes, telling me where they were sailing or after Cookie's fall, how she was feeling. Cell phone coverage is spotty in many places on the water and altogether absent in others, so calling isn't always an option. Texting works better, although that also can be delayed a bit. SFB had called the landline the day before saying he might have a lead on a boat that would be perfect. Details later, as they were heading into a dead phone zone.

I took a break from hoeing and checked my phone. The text was from SFB. He asked about the sale at the Y and if i had seen anything yet. Yes, i texted back, but nothing had called my name. Would i be interested in this boat he had heard about? Yes.

Turns out this boat belongs to a sailing acquaintance of ours. She has been sailing on our friend's schooner any number of times and on other schooners in the fleet as well. Each schooner is its own business but many belong to this fleet. I had heard her speak about her boat but it was in the very past tense, so i was surprised that she still had one. She and SFB had several conversations about it. He thought it might be just the ticket. He would go with me to look at it after the trip. Was i interested? Yes, i texted. I was.

I was also perplexed. I didn't want to forgo the auction altogether because there might be something there that would fit our needs perfectly. I also had some misgivings about doing business with this acquaintance. For one thing, i wanted it to be a business transaction. A clean handoff. I wasn't so sure this would occur with her. I was concerned that if i bought her boat from her, she'd still think of it as her boat, or that if she'd want to cut me a break on the price, she'd feel that she could then just show up to go sailing when the mood struck her, and i didn't want to be beholden. Both Mrs. Logical and Dreamer agreed it could get messy very quickly. Now, there aren't many times in my life where Mrs. Logical and Dreamer have agreed, so when it occurs, Megan sits up and takes notice. If only i could see the acquaintance's boat before the auction. Then i could see for myself if it would be worth any potential emotional difficulty and if not, move on. I prayed for next steps guidance and got silence. That meant wait and see. sigh.

My phone beeped again. SFB texted they were anchored in a nearby cove. Why didn't i go out to meet them, and discuss the boat with Acquaintance S (A.S.)?

Indeed, why didn't i? Himself was away, and my new boss was a micromanager's micromanager, so i wouldn't be able simply to take the next day off, as she wanted at least two week's notice for any fun days. Far cry from previous boss who told me to go ahead and have fun the year before when an empty bunk and last-minute invite on the schooner hadn't been a problem, as i didn't have any looming deadlines that week.  But, i was done work for the day and had thought i'd garden afterwards. I figured i had two hours of daylight left. I could take my kayak in my car and drive to somewhere along the water's edge that flanked the cove and paddle out. I grabbed my backpack, loaded it with an extra layer of clothes, a few water bottles, a change of shoes (i planned on wearing boots while kayaking), my penny whistle and fife, as a delightful artist who also plays pennywhistle was aboard the schooner, and my headlamp, in case i stayed late.

I enquired at one hotel along the cove if i could park my car there and explained my purpose. The young woman was very nice, agreed that i could, but an easier place to put in was on the other side of the cove. She told me where to park, as there was a sandy layby, and it was easier navigating my way to the water's edge via a path that had a small hill at a gentler slope than what their place offered.

I thanked her and drove on, finding it exactly as described. I saw the schooner and paddled out. Everyone except Cook and Cappy were on deck, as 4.30 comes early for Cook, and Cappy was nursing a cold. The Artist, S.A., mate, and SFB recognized me. There was a bit more than an hour of daylight left. S.A. talked about her boat. She was drinking rum, i think. SFB handed me a glass of whisky. I had forgotten to pack my Scotch in my knapsack, which i prefer to whisky, but the stuff he gave me wasn't bad at all. I hadn't eaten supper, as my plan was to weed a bit in the garden then eat. They had already eaten, and there weren't many leftovers, but i had a few pieces of yummy, woodstove baked bread and a slice of chocolate cake. Even so, the whisky went to my head pretty quickly. SFB sat between me and S.A. like a broker, and i knew this was The Boat. Mrs. Logical and Dreamer both agreed on that, even though both had some foreboding about emotional fallout.

On my second large whisky, we agreed that i'd come look at the boat. SFB would come along to see if it looked like a good fit. S.A. insisted that we needed to top off our drinks and toast that. We discussed money briefly. I told her i had planned on a certain dollar amount i was prepared to spend at the auction, feeling certain that i'd need to spend more besides on getting the boat ready for the water, and that would be true whether it was a boat at auction or her boat. She asked the certain dollar amount. I told her, and she thought that was well within the boat's value and probably more than what her boat was worth in market terms. Two other times, she had nearly sold it, but both had fallen through. Third time might be a charm?

By this time, it was pretty dark. The Artist and i played our whistles and chatted a bit. I decided i needed to give myself at least an hour to allow sobriety to return so i could paddle back to my car safely and drive home legally. SFB suggested i stay the night on the schooner. I protested weakly, saying i had my headlamp and would be all right. He said that there was an empty cabin available, and the mate could wake me in the morning if i was fearful of oversleeping. I knew the cats would be fine without me for an evening, and i wasn't looking forward to lugging my kayak through a narrow path and uphill with only a headlamp's light in the dark to the way where my car was parked.

So, i stayed the night, and although i am NOT a morning person, i awake early when sleeping on a boat. It's light by 4.15 in June here, and not only was i awake, i had stripped the bunk of its sheets, put them in the pillowcase, folded the blankets neatly, repacked my backpack, and visited the head, all by 5.00. The mate was already up, cleaning the heads and swabbing the deck. I thanked him yet declined his invitation that i stay for breakfast, but would he be so kind as to help me lower my kayak, as they had stored it in one of the boats resting in the davits? (They have a rowboat and small sailboat on either side for guest and crew use. My kayak was stowed inside the rowboat.)

SFB had just come up on deck as the mate and i were getting my kayak in the water. He hugged me, and told me he thought this boat might be a perfect fit. I told him i was still going to go to the auction. They had a few trailers listed, and one might be good for this boat of S.A.'s as she mentioned she had no trailer for it. He agreed he'd look at the trailers on the day of the auction, and he'd text later to confirm the time. The mate and i hugged, and i climbed down the ladder to my kayak. Both the mate and SFB watched and waved as i waved with my paddle then turned towards shore.

I paddled back on still water and was glad i had spent the night aboard the schooner. Navigating the shore path uphill to the road with the kayak in early morning light was challenging enough. With headlamp and perhaps a bit of the tipsies it could have been akin to Cookie's slipping on the gunwale.

I made it home, put away my kayak, fed the kitties, showered, and breakfasted all by 6.30. Had a teleconference at 8.30 and looked forward to that Saturday, which was the auction.

To be continued...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Busy, busy, busy

We've had GLORIOUS weather Friday through today. It's supposed to rain tonight, but we were supposed to have rain today initially as well. Himself and i have been busy with boat things, and i'm wishing i had taken off work today to help get more boat things done.

The rest of the week may be a bit dodgy weather wise, but we've managed to remove the old ports (windows) so we can either get or make replacements. Mixed reviews on the readymade replacements in that some say the new ones are too wide for the thinner hull our boat has. I'm still looking into it to see if i find it to be true. If so, then getting our local glass shop to cut to size what we need may be the better option. May also be a less expensive option, but they were closed when we went the other day to ask for an estimate.

Himself got the keel sanded and repainted. Sailing friend Bob (SFB) helped to repair the rudder, so that looks good to go now. SFB has also said he'd be glad to tow the boat (Himself's vehicle can tow but the weight of the boat and trailer may be just over the limit, which is why we held off getting a trailer for the moment). So, we'll be pricing trailers once again in earnest and can launch when we're ready rather than having to call for transport and hope to God we get everything done by that date.

The battery is charging, we picked up one-step cleaning and wax stuff for the hull to clean away ideally all of the oxidation, and once all that is done, we'll be about halfway through the boat list.

Still need to work on the inflatable dinghy and reglue the seams. Although every marine store carries repair kits, i can't find quantities of the particular adhesive required for the dinghy. That will need to be an on-line order for sure.

And no, i haven't forgotten requests for a "proper" boat blog post. That's still in the works.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Final Sandy update

As I ran errands over lunch yesterday, I stopped by the shelter for a quick look. Sandy is happily settling into her new home. I smiled and on my way home my heart was truly happy at the good news.

I was only at the shelter for maybe five minutes and for much of the afternoon, Phoebe meowed a lot at me and wanted me to pet her. Once again, only after a few hours of her mewling and wanting me to pay attention to her, did it dawn on me that i was wearing the shoes i wore to the shelter. I'm guessing she doesn't like the smell of the place or the smell of the others or she thinks i'm going to take her there (it doesn't smell that dissimilar to our old vet's office, but i only have a human, one-dimensional nose).

I think if i'm going to continue going there to walk dogs, i'm going to need to keep a pair of "shelter shoes," change into them on my way there, and out of them once i get home. I don't see the point in needlessly upsetting the grimalkin. Jo doesn't seem fazed at all.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday night chit chat, 13 May 2012

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

The engineer Buckminster Fuller is often cited for his use of trim tabs as a metaphor for leadership and personal empowerment. In the February 1972 issue of Playboy, Fuller said:

"Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there's a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

"It's a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it's going right by you, that it's left you altogether. But if you're doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

"So I said, call me Trim Tab."

I've been poking around some boat books and articles. One article i read about changing out portholes; on my boat they all leak to some degree and while i'd like to rebed them, it's best to get them replaced as the outer edge is cracked on all. The guy writing the article has the same kind of boat and decided to make his own. I wasn't sure if we were up to that, but we'd have to remove the ones we have at any rate, at least one fore and one aft to get measurements for replacements, and the article explained how the guy removed his. Well, i think he's related to Martha Stewart, and i'm definitely not. He was saying the whole job took him 4 hours (taking out the old portholes, making new, and installing them). It took me over an hour to try and pry off one. I was getting really tired and thought it best to stop and try again tomorrow.

I watched another episode from the  "Fan Favorites—the Best of Cheers" this week. Excellent one about a Thanksgiving hosted by Carla.

Listening to
David Francey's CD, "Right of Passage."

Nothing special.

Happy you accomplished this week
The boat is uncovered! I've started with a few of the jobs.

Had  lovely chats with three dear friends this week.

Changing to summer sheets on the bed. I love my polar fleece sheets or flannel sheets when it's cold, but the first week of putting on the cotton sheets had its own sort of deliciousness.

A few of the tomato and basil seeds i planted have sprouted. Nada for the pepper seeds. I've seen a few places selling raised beds for a good price and think it'll be worth my while to get one or two.

Started knitting a hat, guessing on gauge (tension) as i was using lighter weight yarn and smaller needles than the pattern called for. I didn't guess quite right and rather than trying to make do and fix from where i was, i ripped it all out and started over. My second attempt seemed much better, but i realised i misread the patttern and ripped out again. sigh. So far, she says with fingers crossed, this time looks like it should be a go.

Looking forward to next week
Full speed ahead with the boat jobs list. Some of it is weather dependent, but i do have a few jobs i can do in the barn as well, now that the temperatures are warmer. So, if it rains, i can repair the dinghy (inflatable) and start varnishing the few wood pieces i have. (The glue for the repairs and the varnish need temperatures to be at least 40°F and stay there--we had dips into the 30's, so i thought it best to wait. For Celsius readers, 40°F=~5°C, 30°F=~-2°C.)

Weeding the garden--i still haven't seen any sign of asparagus in the bed i started last year, but the weeds look healthy enough.

Ordering yarn for gansey sweater i'd like to try and make. Yes, this was on last week's list, too, but i didn't completely decide on which colour until this week.

Thankful for today
The sun! This weekend was great, weather-wise.

Enjoying the violets growing in the yard. There are purple ones and white ones.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sandy update

The rain let up just enough on Wednesday for me to think it might be worthwhile to head over to the shelter and see if Sandy could go for a walk. I'm sure she would have been happy to walk in the rain, too, but really it was teeming and raw on Tuesday.

So, i went after dawdling over a work thing, and when i got to the shelter, i saw her on a leash just leaving the shelter for a walk with someone else. Her tail was erect, and she was snuffling the ground as they walked.

I still went in, commenting that i had dropped by to see if Sandy wanted a walk, but that someone else had the same idea. Yes, they confirmed, and for now, there's no other dogs to be walked. They did get in a pair, only they had just arrived and they usually like to give them a few days to settle in before anyone takes them for walks. The woman who i've talked to nearly every time i've been there went on to say that they were hopeful Sandy's found a new home. The prospective new family was going to take her next day.

I was happy for Sandy and sad for myself. As i drove home, i was happy that her wait for a forever home wasn't long. I had looked at the adoption form for a dog. It was more involved than the one for cats. They can visit your home to see if it's good for a dog. If you have other animals, they may want to meet them as well. I glanced around the house, seeing a few paper piles i'd like to sort out before anyone came in for an inspection. There's a foster period with dogs, too. A three-day period where if you find that it's just not working out, you can take the dog back. There used to be one with cats, but they no longer have that.

I was still sad for me and decided that I needed to let the shelter know that if this new family didn't work out for some reason, i'd want Sandy to come live at our house. I wanted to be sure this wasn't just some idea sprung from sadness, and next day, which was yesterday, i didn't go to the shelter. I thought good thoughts for the new family so lucky to have a chance to have this sweet dog live in their home. Yes, i could have spoken up earlier, but didn't, so no use crying about spilt milk and all that.

Today, the sun came out. Yes, really and truly THE SUN!! I decided that i'd go to the shelter over lunch. The new dogs still aren't ready for walkies, and Sandy went home with her new family yesterday. I said i was happy for her and that i hoped it worked out. I was sincere about it and still am. But, i said, in case it doesn't, i'd like for her to come home to live with us.

The usual woman was there and nodded. She mentioned the three-day foster period. "It might not work out--sometimes it doesn't," she said.

"Well, i hope it does, as everyone likes happy endings," i said, and there were nods all around (other staff members were there, eating their lunches). "But in case it doesn't, i want her to live at our house."

There. I had thrown my hat in the ring.

The cats have a cat door leading from their rooms to screened in porches where they can lounge on blankets or beds and get some oustide air. I visited them at the screens, and all were glad to be smelling the fresh air. Some wanted me to pet them and pressed themselves against the mesh so i could poke my fingers through and pat them.

I arrived back home to see Jo lounging in the grass outside enjoying the sunshine. She trotted towards me as i approached her. Phoebe was asleep upstairs on the bed, curled up under the comforter.

I am at peace about this. I do hope things work out wonderfully well with Sandy's new family; if they don't, then i hope things work out wonderfully well with us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

grey day

This coming Sunday is Mother's Day on this side of the Pond. My mom's been gone many years as are both my grandmothers and my favourite aunt, so I don't have to buy any cards or make any phone calls. My mother-in-law has been gone since 2006, so Himself doesn't have to make any phone calls, buy any cards, or as with one year, have me buy one because he ran out of time. He never knew how hard a task that was for me, as it seemed that year i missed my mother more than usual, and there were so many great cards i saw that i would have loved to send.

It's just been one of those days where the weathermen were right. The rain really did come, and in earnest, so my wash hanging on the line is wetter now than when i first hung it out. By the time i saw the rains had come, it seemed pointless to dash out and get pelted as i pulled off the pins and loaded the sodden clothing into the basket, only to have it drip its way to the dryer or clothes rack (some of the washing is best left to air dry).

It's chilly enough that i want to start a fire in the woodstove, and although i had planned on having a lovely salad for lunch, when lunchtime came, i wanted hot food.

I found out yesterday that someone i've known peripherally for years is in hospice. This should come as no surprise to me, since he's had cancer for awhile, but somehow i was still surprised and so very sad. He's an encouraging sort of person, the kind who looks at you with eyes full of kindness and love, even when he tells you things you'd rather not hear but are really best for your benefit. He doesn't just voice platitudes, he's speaking as one who has walked the same steps. He is a man who has lived his faith, and when he leaves, there will be a dark space, for he is one of those great lights. Discovering that he's now in hospice care is simply another reminder that the generations i looked to for guidance and support have mostly left or are leaving the building. I don't feel ready to be the eldest one--it's a mantle i've never worn and had really no desire to wear. I feel inadequate and wonder if earlier generations felt the same. I somehow think not since they seem to have shouldered responsibility at an earlier age, while i see so many around me shirking theirs every chance they get. And i am often right there with them.

I was looking for a song to post with this and thought of Travis's Why Does It Always Rain on Me? and then Coldplay's Fix You. And then, i just wanted to get out of my funk and Larry Norman's Son Began to Reign popped in my head. It's on my funeral tape.

Yes, i made a funeral tape. I did it because i'd been to so many funerals where the music was awful. The organist sounded like someone fired from the roller rink. Ugh. That's when i got the idea of recording songs i liked with the idea that they could play the tape at my funeral or memorial service or what have you. All kinds of songs on there. It opened with David Lanz's version of A Whiter Shade of Pale, which is a lovely cover of the Procol Harum tune. It ended with Handel's Hallelujah chorus and all sorts of songs between, one of which was Larry Norman's Son Began to Reign.


Years after i made the tape, Mr McNeil died. He was an older man who was instrumental in getting the ball rolling on so many civic projects in the town next to mine--a real mover and shaker. He was buried in a Quaker cemetery, and a bagpiper was present to play Amazing Grace. The sun hid behind the clouds so the moment was appropriately doleful. But, about an hour and half earlier, we had gathered at the funeral home and packed the place shaking Mrs McNeil's and Son McNeil's hands. We sat quietly while a Methodist minister friend started the service off with a homily and then let it turn more Quaker allowing us to speak as the Spirit moved us or simply sit within the space of an hour. Trembling voices shared stories and thoughts, muffled sobs and sniffling noses punctuated the silences between. At the close of the hour, the Methodist minister approached the lectern once again, thanked everyone for being there to support Mrs and Son as well as each other. He then added that Mr McNeil had requested music he especially loved to be played as his casket was borne out and would we please follow. Would the undertaker be so kind as to start the music? Most smiled through their tears as the first notes were heard for in an instant, the room was filled with Dixieland jazz.

I can't help smiling every time i hear it played now. Even on dreary, cold, rainy grey days with sodden wash on the line and an aching heart wanting to send cards to people who are no longer on the planet.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat, 06 May 2012

I'm posting this early, as I'll be at the potluck for hockey and not sure that i'll want to fire up the computer when i return!

Carla says this can be a photo or saying.

This was on the morning of my 50th birthday. The captain (she's wearing the hat, green shirt, and dark shorts) had filled balloons with helium and put them around the boat.

I've been poking around some boat books and articles. Trying to steel myself for tackling the boat to-do list and emerge successful. Also looked at some knitting patterns, which isn't reading per se, but it was during my reading time.

I watched some of  "Fan Favorites—the Best of Cheers" this week. I haven't watched any reruns of the show "Cheers" in probably 10 years, and while i enjoyed it when it was on prime time, i didn't plan my life around it. The episodes i saw have aged pretty well, although a little of the Diane Chambers character (played by Shelley Long) went a long way with me, much the way it did when the show first aired. 

Listening to
Lots of motorcycles going past the house. It's sunny for the most part, and the warmest it's been in weeks. Spring fever for many.

I made brownies for the potluck we're having for hockey this evening. There were some that were a bit too thin near the edge of the pan, so i'm keeping the leavings for the house and am taking the nicer ones for the potluck. My favourite part still is licking the bowl.

Happy you accomplished this week
Lawn mowed! I ran out of fuel with the last 10 minutes to go. Yes, i did what Himself hates, and ran the mower dry. He's right of course, not wise to do, as all the crud on the bottom can then work its way through the engine. But i was so close! However, i wanted to get done by noon, and it was 11:52 a.m. Phoebe was crying for lunch (usually served at noon), and i couldn't get the mower restarted. I had this same issue last year, where it seems it'll start once a day and no more. My workaround was to mow half one day and half the next. It worked better with my schedule, too, as i could mow a half hour or so at lunch and be done in two days. Yes, the advantages of working from home. Taking care of that over two lunchtimes left the after work hours free for other pursuits. Besides, the birds converged on the feeder within five minutes of the mower's petering out, and i had a half a headache. The bit that needs doing can stand another day.

I went back to the animal shelter yesterday to see if any dogs needed walkies. I got to walk Sandy, a gentle, sweet-natured English Shepherd. She's the nicest dog i've ever walked. Doesn't pull at all, and a real joy. When i entered the shelter, Sandy was walking around, as she likes to follow the woman in charge. When i asked if Sandy could go for a walk, Sandy's ears perked up,and she made her way to the door. The woman in charge laughed, put a leash on Sandy, and we walked for a little over a half hour. The shelter closes to the public at four o'clock, and i thought it best to get back around closing time. She enjoyed sniffing the grass, the air, and wanted to chase after something in the woods--a squirrel or chipmunk maybe. I told her a few times on the walk that she was a good girl, and one time, she stopped, looked at me with doe eyes and sat down obediently. I pet her, and when we made our way back to the shelter, the door was unlocked, but the closed sign had been put up. I took her inside, and her tongue was hanging out and tail erect as a worker took her back to her kennel. I signed out, got in my car and sobbed on the way home. I can think of any number of perfectly logical reasons why trying to bring a dog into the house would NOT be a good idea, but as i thought of each one, i cried harder. We may just have to think of making a plastic place for Himself after all. My prayer is that Sandy can find her forever home very soon, and that it can be the perfect fit for her and her new family. She's eight, and i don't know why she was placed at the shelter. If the perfect forever home is with yours truly, then i need to know unequivocally this is the right thing to do for all in our household.

Digging out some lilacs. I've had a number of volunteers and they really need to be thinned. One of my hockey teammates said she'd like a few, and my plan is to take a bunch with me to the potluck. My teammates can have free lilacs, and i'll have done some necessary thinning.

Planted some tomato and pepper seeds. I saw the slugs in full force on the dandelions in the garden spot, so i'm thinking that raised beds might be the way to go.

Started knitting a hat, guessing on gauge (tension) as i was using lighter weight yarn and smaller needles than the pattern called for. I didn't guess quite right and rather than trying to make do and fix from where i was, i ripped it all out and started over. Second attempt is much better. This should be a good sailing hat for chillier times on the water.

Looking forward to next week
Puttering around in the garden and getting to work on the boat list. The rain and colder temperatures this past week curtailed efforts in these areas.

Ordering yarn for gansey sweater i'd like to try and make.

Thankful for today
The sun!

Potluck for hockey, which is always fun. It's nice to see teammates outside of the rink and to have a chance to chat.

Friday, May 4, 2012


When i was in 7th grade, our French teacher told us that we could be penpals with students around the globe. Apparently, there was some scholastic group that was a clearing house for this sort of thing. You requested what country, age, and sex of desired penpal, and sooner or later, a letter would arrive for you, or, if you were the self-starting sort, you wrote your penpal immediately.

Of course, our French teacher thought it would be wonderful if we all chose French penpals so we could practice writing our French, and i dutifully asked for a male French penpal. His name was Marc, he was from Vendรดme, and he collected stamps. My father collected stamps, and tried to get me interested in it as well, but it never really took. Marc always responded promptly to my letters, and i wondered if he really stared at mine the way i did his. His penmanship was far nicer than mine, he crossed his 7's, fountain pens were his ink of choice, and even though i wasn't a collector, i was taken with the different stamps on the envelope. It seemed a marvel to me to think that thousands of miles away, someone i had never met was writing to me. We had struck up a conversation, however halting it was, and my father would give me stamps to send Marc and would tell me about them so i could let him know a bit about them.

Since so many of my....well, we have no word in English for it, really. They're not quite my ancestors, as i think that word means ages ago, but yet aren't really my relatives, as they died just before i arrived on the planet—I suppose i shall stick with "forebearers." As so many of them had come from Wales at the end of the 19th century, i thought it would be nice to have a penpal from Wales, too. I again requested a male penpal and got someone named John Davies, who was 14. I was 12, and in my introductory letter, i told him i had a brother who was 14.

It was ever so much easier writing someone in English, and after a few weeks, i got a reply. It was thrilling to get a letter with my name on it from another foreign correspondent. I opened the letter eagerly to find that it wasn't John writing me, but John's younger brother, Robert, who was 12, just like me. I instantly felt that John had no interest in me because of the two-year age difference, and how my brother had often thought me a bother as well. I shrugged, was glad Robert wrote, and replied. 

Others also wrote me and i them; Brigitte in France, and Norma in Ireland. But the correspondence with them was short-lived; whereas Marc and Robert remained my penpals for a few years.

In one letter, Robert sent a photo of himself and asked if i'd do the same. His looked like one of those taken in a photo booth. He looked like a nice enough lad, and by this point, we had written often enough so we felt we knew one another.

I have never liked having my photo taken, and i'm not terribly photogenic. I'm sure i don't help any, thinking that i'd rather be anywhere than on THAT side of the camera, but my cousin convinced me that i shouldn't disappoint Robert. We had had our pictures taken in a similar type photo booth and had been in hysterics when the bulb flashed off. As a result, the pictures actually captured our essence because we were too busy laughing. She thought one of those to be good to send, and i could explain how we got all silly and couldn't stop giggling and settle ourselves before the flash went off.

With much misgiving, i sent the photo and explanation. I told of how we were visiting our grandmother, that she lived miles away, although we visited fairly frequently. I don't recall what else i said in that letter, but i distinctly remember Robert's reply. He thanked me very much for the photo and said that John was now a bit sorry he hadn't decided to be my penpal. I could hear the triumph in Robert's words and appreciate them as only a younger sibling can. I replied that i was glad he had decided to write back, even if John hadn't, as i had written other penpals to get no response, leaving me to wonder if my letter arrived at all.

I still remember his and Marc's handwriting very clearly and kept those letters for a long time.

Flash forward 40 years (good Lord, has it been that long?), and here we are in the Internet age. I can email people all over the planet, and through emails or on a blog share snippets of my life with them as they do with me. We can encourage each other, send jokes and funny pictures, post photos of ourselves, if we have a mind to do so. Just this week, I've found myself wondering about a man's garden in France, a woman's flower garden in New Zealand as they head into winter, what it's like to live in a historically rich place like Bath and work on creating things that look 17th century, how construction is going for someone in Angola, and crying over a bulldog named  Mabel who lived in Wales whom i've never met and yet feel i know.

I do like the wide variety, and i'm saving ever so much in postage. I do miss the thrill of opening the mail box, seeing a letter with my name on it from some faroff place, and examining its contents intently, but i daresay since my penmanship was never good and has plummeted to the depths of  "worse than a doctor's," that typing it out makes it far easier on others to read.