Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Zen of Duck Watching

There is so much Nature around us here in the middle of the City. Yes, its true, they did pave paradise and put up a parking lot, but turns out paradise is a stronger opponent then we initially thought. After all, a little plant bursting thru the cracks of a sidewalk, has only one mission- LIFE! And that's a pretty ahsum force!

I watched this duck pedaling his way thru a break in the ice, towards open water. His determination inspired me to procrastinate and write a haiku. Travis joined me and then there were two. Feel free to write your own in the comment section, you may win something! Here are ours:

Above, cold white light
An opening in the way
My toes are freezing

Icy waters hard
Breaking thru carving struggling
Shitting where I eat

Friday, January 28, 2011

And it was my birthday!!!!!

I was just reading Maggie's blog about the snow and the power outage and the driving conditions etc. But nowhere does she mention the most important bit of news, that I turned 34 yesterday. It was weird being without electricity on my b-day so we have continued to day two of the birthday celebrations today. She is taking me to see STOMP in D.C. tonight and she has given me another day off from boat work. It is good to be 34. I hope everyone has enjoyed my birthday snow as much as I have. Maybe with a lot more hard work and good luck we will be celebrating on a sunny beach with a frozen cocktail for my 35th. Everyone is invited. BYOB
This year we said goodbye to the 2x4 and railroad tie and got an ice eater to do the breaking for us
Everyone is talking about snow.  How much did you get ?, how long did it take you to get home? etc etc. Some of these answers are more exciting then others, like, "it took me 8 hours to get home, and I live 45 min. away". Now I don't mean me, no I left work early to avoid the insanity that  seemed inevitable after all the stewing and brewing going on over the radio, TV and internet, concerning the upcoming storm. Yup I was safely aboard when the wind, snow, and thunder hit. You heard right, thunder and lightning made an appearance during this snow storm. Eerie right?

Was that thunder?
The big story wasn't so much the amount of snow but its weight. This was a wet heavy snow, that broke a lot of tree limbs and snapped some power lines. We were lucky enough to be in the power out zone and got our first taste of off the grid living in Tara.

Unlike Me Voy, Tara is an electric baby. We have done some things to improve that situation, like switching most of our lights, and all our  pumps to 12 v, but everything else including heat, cooking stove and even our speakers are 120v. Cooking and heat were easy to take care of. We pulled out our trusty propane  Coleman stove  to make dinner and used the kerosene heater we use on the back deck for heat. It worked great keeping us at an average of 64. Travis even jury rigged a carbon monoxide detector we had lying around to avoid that death thing that we hear can sometimes be a problem.

Kerosene heater , 12 volt lights and cake. Power outage what power outage? 
Jury rigged carbon monoxide detector 
All in all being forced off the grid  ( 26 hrs. in total) taught us some things.  For one we really need a
"green" way to charge our mobile devices. I ended up charging our internet hot spot and phones at work,  but that just won't do - I am after all, aiming for early retirement! Two, we really need some 12 v speakers in here, and three living on a boat is  better then living in a house. My co- workers talked of stumbling around in the dark and cold, and, although I don't usually like to compare myself to others to make myself feel better, I couldn't resist being a little smug as I thought about our warm and bright little nest floating somewhere out there in the darkness. Don't worry though, that smugness soon evaporated as I realized how far we still  have to go to voluntarily disconnect ourselves from that little spinning meter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We may have found our dinghy.  No its not the Portland Pudgy that we are pining after, but, it has all the qualities we are looking for, rigid bottom, fairly light weight and its 9 ft length would fit neatly on top of the deck house. Now it just has to unfreeze a bit to see if we really got something we can work with.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Progress Happens

2010 was again a year jammed with boat projects. Having two boats in the same marina, not to mention the same city, made it much easier, but... the question remains, what the hell were we thinking?!

-replace rotten hull material  on starboard (right) side.*
-sand/fill/paint starboard side*
-rubberize and non-skiddify decks*
-install windlace switch a hawse pipe*
-paint deck house*
-build laundry room*
-build master state room*
-rewire for 12 V*
-varnish transom*
-make transom letters*
-paint lazarette
-paint aft head
-service engines*
- get new anchor and bow light
-make canvas for winter*

* means we have completed a project

Me Voy
-paint deckhouse
-paint cockpit
-install doggie door*
-reseal windows*
-add a scupper in cockpit*
-remove lazarette rot*
-paint lazarette*
-rebed stanchions
-install propane
-install radar mast and radar*
-install chartplotter*
-finish painting engine room*
-install and hook up engine*
-hook up exhaust*
-hook up engine controls*
-go for a sail*

We didn't do to bad, and even though our 2011 list is already looking beefy, we feel  half confident that this new year will be 'The One'. You know, the one where we have only one ahsum boat, a phat bank account, and a plotted course that takes us to warm places. Can it really be that easy? Ha!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Something Finished!

Today we did laundry... on the boat! This added luxury delivered via a Haier washer and dryer will make it even harder to move aboard Me Voy!
You can see the original bulkhead (wall) material peeking from beneath the cedar we chose for the walls, countertops and cabinets. White vinyl with mahogany trim  finished the overhead (ceiling)
We now call this Billy's Laundry Room

Also finished is Chopper's Facebook page. As our official spokesman he officially invites you to be friends. Woof!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

After making to Chicago we got to the business of tree shopping
This Christmas we got lucky.  Zeik the Fit delivered us to Chicago two days before a storm front, where we ate, drank, ate more, and even picked out a real Christmas tree, which we decorated under Mom's watchful eye. 

OOOOPS! What a bunch of amateurs!
After a chainsaw job on the front steps, some lights and decorations, it began to look a lot like Christmas...
We hung out with my parents and family friends, eating, drinking, cooking, shopping, getting/giving presents, watching movies, playing pool, and making fun of Chopper and Jake playing their special game of steal the ball. 

After all the cooking we can finally eat!
Soon it was time to head east. Somehow oblivious to the upcoming East coast storm, we loaded our loot and headed to Baltimore. We drove thru a couple of micro-storms but were truly stunned as we snuggled with our laptops back home, to read the headlines of the crippling East coast white out that was raging a few hundred miles to the North. Snow? Where was this snow? All we had was wind, again blowing close to 30 knots, again for three days in a row. 

Travis' homemade cookies ready for packaging and distribution (if we can keep them from sliding off the table)

You'd think after 12 hours in the car, we had our fill of travel, but now it was time to load up again, and have Christmas with Travis' family, where again we ate way too much, and received way too many presents.

Both our families were  respectful with our choice of  vegetarianism,  and both offered some yummy no-faces food.
Ooooohs and ahhs as we stock up on fleece and other boat friendly clothing

This Christmas was different however. Now that we are officially husband and wife, we stayed in  T's Grandmother's house with his groovy Uncle John. John moved back into his childhood home to take care of his ailing father  and stayed, taking care of his aging mother. 

John has a flair for decorating and subtlety!
Christmas utopia!

Grandma's house was the place where all the family gathers for Christmas. Everywhere you look there is something to see.  I have been here many times, but every year I am astounded at the many many things on display. 

Tressie or Grandma, as she was known to most people, died in November of this year. She was in her eighties and despite her many ailments, remained a loving, kind and generous woman. She was very much loved and is missed terribly. She was part of the original "mountain clan" that lived in the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia,  before they were made into a National Park. Her family were homesteaders before homesteading was fashionable, and served as an inspiration to young Travis with her self sufficient lifestyle "on the mountain". She sometimes spoke of the Depression, and how her family didn't even know it happened. Nothing was different for them, because everything they ate or produced they did themselves. Voluntary simplicity and the joy of being were their staples, and hard work the backbone of their existence. Ah the good 'ol days!

Things did change for Tressie and her family when the state of Virginia began purchasing the mountainous farmland and giving it to the Federal Government to be made into a National Park. No one wanted to leave, but they were given no choice. Tressies' mother simply refused to leave saying they will have to carry her by force... and so they did. There is still an old picture, of Tressie's mother being carried out of her home in her rocking chair, atop the shoulders of several burly local officials. 

If you ever visit the park, and peek into the visitor's Center, you will see the farmland that used to be home to many families just like Tressie's . It's surreal to me that these pictures would be so proudly displayed as part of  "history". I guess its better then  hiding them in some Federal Depository of Shame 
(that place is too full anyway)  but it begs the question,  Where does all the heartache, the suffering we create,  go? Is it stored in some virtual dimension, that will one day burst when critical mass is reached, swallowing all other dimensions due to its sheer size and therefore gravity? 

So the only answer is... be kind NOW;  to yourself, to your family, to those you know and those you don't. Practice the love that is expounded so loudly in Christmas cards year round!  Try it now.. smile. It will make you healthy, and add good vibrations to that other dimension where all the warm and fuzzy feelings go. I made my deposit did you? We are in this together, all of us! Yes even you. 

* for more amazing pictures of Tressie's and John's Christmas Utopia visit our flickr page