Sunday, May 30, 2010

Back in the US (thanks to Dad)

My flight from Poland was cancelled due to the strike at British Airways (avoid traveling thru London!), and rescheduled for June 9. Dad rebooked me on a direct flight to Chicago, where I spent a lovely day working off my jet lag by lounging in the sun, riding in Dad's convertable, and shopping with Mom.

Now I'm back on the boat, where fans are running at high speed, and the sun is scorching our decks. It's ninety something outside today, and I'm waiting for the sun to creep across the sky to offer me some shade to work by. Travis is off in Va. going to motorcycle school and I will attack the overhead on our back deck, meaning I will peel off what fiberglass there is hanging loose, then grind, sand and finally primer the exposed wood. Its not a big area, but its all overhead, so it should be pretty terrible. I'm going to capitalize on my renewed enthusiasm for boat work however, and get this job over with. Having been away from boats for the last 14 days, I'm pumped enough to perhaps enjoy this job a bit. OK, who am I kidding? This is not going to be fun, but, the after-glow of a hell job completed will be awesome.

I will leave you with a few pics of Poland.

This is Bialystok. The city I grew up in. The biggest culture shock for me was the cleanliness of the streets. There are trash cans everywhere(and people use them) as well as people walking around sweeping the streets and parks. I didn't see a single piece of trash anywhere!

Churches, and there are many of them, are open all day long. Anyone can come in and vandalize... um, I mean look around. I thought the bloody feet on this Christ were particularily disturbing.

Inside this church is dripping with gold leaf, typical of the Catholic style. You can see a worker on the left, touching up the gold leaf. My footsteps echoed loudly as I toured these quiet sanctuaries, where ordinary people stopped by on their way to or from somewhere to say hi to God.

These trains are loud and fast, and the train station chaotic but immaculate!

Stork migrate from Africa to Poland? Its true. They come back year after year, and build their nests on top of special platforms people set up on top of electrical poles. Storks are said to bring good luck and having a nest on your property means you are free from moles digging up your yard, as moles are evidently easy prey for the stork.

Restoring old things must run in the family. My aunt took over as director of what used to be a dilapitating country school, and after fifteen years, this is what it look like today. Beautiful!

I saw this sticker in several places. I also saw a gang of skinhead questioned by the policja. Poland is a land full of history and contradictions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


It's true. I flew across 'the pond' to Poland. Cheating? Maybe, but as the waters of Poland are not on our list of sailing destinations, I boarded a flight bound for London, and released all control of my destiny for the next ten days.

Poland has become quite Americanized, with shopping malls, ethnic foods, cell phones, and political discontent. Prices are similar to that of the US, except the average Pole earns about 700 US a month. No one recycles, except the bums, who dumpster dive for aluminium cans. This early morning ritual can pay up to $20 US per day, a good wage. It also earns, however the resentment of ordinary people, who despise the noises coming from the dumpsters in the early morning hours, and the us vs. them divide deepens.

There are floods here in the North reminiscent of Katrina. (Not one person here has heard of Katrina) People are stranded in their houses, in rescue shelters, and there is nowhere to go. The funny thing is there are little rescue boats, that go from house to house distributing food. (I see a Polak joke in there somewhere.) These floods are the worst they have seen in recent memory, and the season is all wrong for flooding.

Here are a few things that blew my Americanized mind:
1. No one I talked to has heard of Sara Palin
2. Pigs feet make a good soup
3. Birch trees make good syrup
4. There are ancient "jungles" in the Northeast Poland
5. Polish mountain music and Jamaican reggea sound great together
6. Poles are the only people in the EU (european union) that are required to apply for a visa
when travelling to the US
7. The streets are free of trash

I'll leave it at that... goodnight.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Holding Down the Fort

Maggie has gone away on a big old jet airliner, to the far off Eastern European land of her birth, Poland. She has not visited with her family there in a very long time so I am glad she was able to make the trip. Unfortunately, I was unable to accompany her. It is difficult to find an appropriate sitter for the boys and our two boats, so I stayed back to hold down the fort. My hope has been to get loads of work done on the boats and my old truck, but with the rain steadily falling, I am held up below deck making the most of it with Chopper and Billy. We have been missing Maggie terribly but we are managing to keep ourselves occupied with a lot of reading, cooking, cleaning, and documentary watching.

Today, like an old friend, the Black Crowned Night Heron returned to our marina. He is one of the last waterfowl to return from warmer climates back to his Summer fishing spot here in Baltimore. I watched him in amazement all last summer as he would patiently wait on the swim platform of our neighbor's boat for an unsuspecting fish or snake to swim by. Today he sat perched on the bow rail right outside the window drying his feathers in between rain showers. These are rather rare so it's neat to get to be so close to him. He looks a lot like a creature from a Pink Floyd video. Gosh I miss Maggie.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Objects in Motion

Our boat lists are slowly getting shorter. Emphasis on slowly. I've been prepping L.M. for starboard side hull paint, which meant spending a lot of time on The Raft. I really enjoy working on the raft. Its peaceful and private, and bobbing on the water, even when holding a sander most of the time, is somehow soothing. The exception is the bow of the boat, where the situation quickly deteriorates into a hellish spectacle: me, arms stretched overhead holding sander, balancing on a bobbing raft while doing an ungraceful backbend, struggling to sand the tip of the bow. I have nothing good to say about that hell spot.

I've spent many days on this raft and it still doesn't have a name

I did finish all the prep work and we planned on painting this Sunday,but the wind had other ideas in mind, so the paint job is being pushed back to probably the end of the month. Unfortunately its a two person job, which takes more planning and coordination of schedules then is really convenient, and then there's the weather to contend with. Anyway, I feel like this is a big hurdle to overcome as far as Lucy Maru goes. Having this behind us will mean we can flip her around again, and then paint the decks and house, do some fun canvas sewing, and ta da... I think this is as far as we're prepared to take her.

Meanwhile Travis has been focusing on Me Voy. With the engine painted, he dropped it in, but before any further progress could be made there, the rot in the transom had to be finally addressed. If you've seen the previous video you know the kind of effort required there. Poor T has another weekend to go, crumpled into a sort of N, before I take over with the painting. This job will also be a milestone for Me Voy as it will officially conclude all rot removal and replacement!!!!

Mr. Perkins awaiting further attention

Universe smiled upon us (or was it really just laughing?) last week, and we got a plot at Baltimore's City Farms. Evidently the wait for a plot is on average 3 years, but after waiting only a week, we got the call. The timing was perfect, and even though we are so busy with the boats and work, we just had to do it. It s so nice to get my hands into some dirt. We cleared our 10ft x 15ft plot and thanks to Homer The Tiller Guy we had cucumbers, squash, chard and spinach planted all in about two hours. Tomotoes, lots of tomotoes, peppers, onion, beets, and radishes, will round out our first planting.

For $40 a year you can get a plot in the city to grow your own!

Its so neat to go from boat, to garden back to boat. The contrast of the elements is striking. The rich soft dirt in between my toes vs. the cool humid air of the docks. The smells of the two places are so far apart in reality that it feels like I'm living in a dream where anything can happen. The addition of the garden has completed our set-uppedness in Baltimore. Too bad balmy winters and palm trees don't show up much in B-more, otherwise we might get stuck here for good.

T pulling weeds out of our garden

All tucked and ready to grow

Saturday, May 8, 2010

live- sort of

Its a very beautiful and blustery day here in B-more, and we're making decent progress on both boats. Details soon to be posted, but for now just a little video to prove we're alive. (I got a better HD camcorder but the uploaded quality still sucks compared to what I got on the puter, and You tube really sucks coz it got rid of all audio coz of some copyright issues. Anyone know ways to get around this, especially the video quality thing?) Anyway here we are...

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