Thursday, April 30, 2009

Plan Z

Last November our dock neighbors cast off to sail away into the sunset. Unfortunately the wind and waves and sea sprites had another plan. They abandoned ship near Bermuda and never saw their boat (their home) again. They now live on land overseas and are trying to piece their life back together.

This family had a 4 year old girl who was Zach's dear friend and playmate for 2+ years. The only thing scarier than a mama holding her daughter and jumping off a boat at night in to a storm to be rescued by helicopter is a little boy imagining his good friend doing just that. We did our best to shield Z from the whole drama, but people talk, and kids listen, and he figured it all out.

And so he asks... Where is M? Where is M's boat? What was wrong with the boat? Why didn't the men in the helicopter rescue their boat too? Very critical questions to answer for a little one whose whole life has been his boat. So I fall back on my usual unschooling answer to 4-year old questions... "what do you think?"

And here's what he decided...

He's got a plan and would like the sea sprites to call a do-over. Z's plan is that his ghost friend, Sally, will drive a "ginormous" ship out to M and throw out "not breakable rope" that will be tied to M's boat with "fancy pirate knots". And the ghost crew, led by the fearless Sally, will tow them away from the "bigmongus" waves to safety back home to our marina. The end.

If only play silks, toy boats, and wooden imaginary friends could change the bad dreams that are sometimes our grown up reality. If only our children could make us grown ups understand that that imagination is the key to perception, compassion, and hope.


Usually it happens around sunset. Zach sounds the call -- "QUACK, quackquackquack! QUACK, quackquackquack!" And they know his voice. And they come. They know. They know that this little boy's voice means food.

Well I guess sunset can seem really far away when you're of the feathered and web feet persuasion. So this morning as I was washing the dishes... THEY came calling for HIM.

Suddenly there was a little head peeping through the hatch. It was like a neighbor child coming for a playdate. Ummm, excuse me, can Zach come out?

He was more than happy to clear off my dish washing work and share his breakfast.

I ask myself, is this who I am buying whole grain, organic cereal for?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend Wonders

Big Wheel Love
All Purpose Foraging Net
Surprise Morel Mushrooms (cooked & eaten)
First Water Snake of the Season (breathlessly announced with awe & joy!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Welcome Aboard -- The Galley

"Mom, sailors have a secret language. House people call it a kitchen. We call it a galley."

Photos taken in "reality mode". No glossy magazine yacht advertising here. This is what it looks like when you pop in for an unannounced visit.

And this is what breakfast prep looks like on many days. Me making eggs, Zach making music on the pots and pans.

Galley is on the port side with the guest room forward and the work room/ pantry aft.

Double sink with fresh water and salt water taps (we don't use the saltwater tap in the marina. Yuck!) Saltwater is for washing at sea, that way you save your fresh water for rinsing only.

One 3 burner propane stove & oven. Brand new this winter after our old one died on the coldest day of the year.

One small 12v marine refrigerator. Small by household standards, not bad by boat standards. It's a Frigoboat for you boat geeks. The freezer is actually bigger and sits above the galley in the salon.

One ridiculous microwave/ toaster combo. It's a power suck and we rarely use it except to defrost meat in a jiffy. It came with the boat and we plan to ditch it when we leave to go cruising as we run on solar power. We will use the space for needed food storage instead.

Our pots and pans nest and the handles pop off for easy storage and easier washing in the little sinks. It's a fabulous set that I would highly recommend to other boat people!

Fruit sits in a basket on the counter. Spices, condiments, cloth napkins, and tea live in cubbies above the counter.

That thing you see sticking out midships is one of our 37hp Yanmar engines. It becomes an extra counter space and nice, secure place to wedge yourself while underway.

The galley is one of the places we spend the least amount of time. I hate to cook. It has nothing to do with living on a boat, I just hate to cook. I try to make healthy meals, but when I have free time, I don't want to spend it in the kitchen. I have boat friends with MUCH smaller galleys who create crazy-from scratch-Martha Stewart-meals for huge groups of friends. It's totally possible for those who have the desire. I prefer pancakes and salad.


Next tour spot... the guest room... stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More New Neighbors

Our docks are under construction and barges have been all around us all winter and spring. But this morning we noticed something a little different out on the top of the crane.

Mama and Papa osprey happily doing what birds to in the spring, building a nest.

Zach and I idled the morning away sitting in the sawdust of the the newly constructed docks, watching the papa osprey fly back and forth, back and forth bringing in sticks for his nest while mama osprey squawked away.

Zach held up some sticks of his own hoping -- as only the heart of a 4-year old could -- that the papa osprey would swoop down and grab a stick right from his little hands.

Now here's the cliffhanger. Apparently, it's against the law to disturb or remove an osprey nest. So one might wonder what exactly the construction company plans to do about this particular predicament. We were speculating that somehow in the middle of the night that osprey nest might disappear mysteriously. I hope however they handle it, they do it with care.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rockabye Big Boy

The other night at the inlaws house, my sweet boy fell asleep in my arms. As a baby, that's just about the only place he slept. Now as an almost 5 year old boy full of spark and curiosity, he usually collapses mid-sentence on a pile of books. But it's been a LONG time since he just slept in my arms.

It makes me all weepy, not just thinking about my sweet boy growing and becoming more independent, but thinking about all the babies in the world who are shunned out of their mamas arms. Maybe I've been listening to the soundtrack from Les Miserables one too many times lately, but HOW can any parent complain about a baby wanting to be held while they sleep? How can any parent let their baby cry alone in their room? How can we call ourselves a civilized society when nobody blinks if you mention that your dog sleeps with you and your baby is in a cage down the hall, but everyone gasps when you say you share a family bed with your kids?

I should add in fairness of full disclosure for those of you staying tuned, that I am in the middle of reading The Continuum Concept and it's blowing my mind.

I am just so blissed out with my healthy, happy, little boy in my arms. I am so keenly aware that the amount of time that mama is center stage will be SO SHORT in the grand scheme of my life that I wouldn't push him away for a single, loving, amazing moment of it.

Now go hold your babies.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Night

Sunday nights are when folks who live on their boats come out to play. The "weekenders" go home and we usually find a reason to congregate. Even though it's still unseasonably cold out, the Sunday Night revelry has officially begun. The fellas have started with their Bocce Ball on the lawn.

Z and little E figured out that their remote control cars were on the same frequency. It was havoc!

Then Z switched gears and decided to try out for Bocce Ball Boy.

Why do you live on a boat? It's the community.

I will try to post regularly on the Sunday Night boat people happenings throughout the season.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Out To Dinner

First dinner in town by dinghy (rather than car) of the season! Zach dressed himself for the occasion.

Calm seas.
Great friends.
Fabulous sushi.
And the joy of watching my sweet little boy eat his weight in sashimi and squid.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It was a dark and stormy night...

Spring has been colder and wetter than normal. Our nights still seem long and dark. But being snuggled on the boat with nothing more than each other and our imaginations makes the dark, rainy nights feel cozy rather than confined. I love hearing the rain amplify on our fiberglass shell. I love feeling the time pass nice and slow. I love watching Zach be completely comfortable with the darkness, the stillness, the togetherness. Sometimes some soft music. Sometimes just the sweet ramblings of a four year old making his own fun. The boat gently rocks, the hatches in the galley leak, our little home smells of stove top popcorn and beeswax candles. Cold rainy nights are not punishment, or a time to plug in and tune out. They are a gift from nature, allowing us to slow down, breathe, think, snuggle, and appreciate.

(Right now Z is appreciating the heck out of these shadow puppets from Orange Moon Toys.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Check Out My Thumbs!

Living on a boat I like to joke that our "gardening" involves feeding the ducks, scooping up the grass shrimp for bait, and counting jellyfish. And we like it that way. We have a lovely, large yard and gardens at the marina that we don't have to take care of. And we have woods all around us as well. Things grow and they don't depend on us to thrive.

But alas, my son has a yearning to garden. Last summer we bought some cheap herb kits at the grocery store -- and the little buggers never peeped out of the moistened soil pellets. I have never made anything grow so my hopes this spring were thin.

We bought some grass seeds and tried planting them in a basket (got the idea from Little Acorn Learning's free lesson) And it worked! We actually made something GROW on the boat! I officially have a green-ish thumb.

Then we went to a natural egg dying workshop at SERC (Smithsonian Environmental Research Center) and from cabbage and tumeric and onion skins and blueberries and beets made this beautiful set of easter eggs.

We put them together and VOILA!

Now that our thumbs have had a taste of green we got all carried away and gave Zach a bundle of boat sized gardening supplies for easter.

Who knows - we may even grow something edible! Ok, I won't get carried away... but I love that Zach is getting some kind of dirt dwelling, soil squishing, seed sprouting love even while living afloat.


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Z's Point Of View

Zach told me this was his "sculpture" and that he wanted me to take pictures of it.

So I also did a little interview with the artist.

Mom: What did you make here?
Zach: I wrapped wool around the coral. It reminded me of Hawaii because my grandpa has sheep and he is near the ocean.
Mom: So tell me about this one (the one pictured above)
Zach: This one is like me on the beach, with ocean water all around.
Mom: And what about this one? (below)
Zach: This one is my grandpa on the beach. These are grandpa's colors.
Mom: Anything else?
Zach: I like doing this because it's so handy. The soft wool sticks to the prickies of the hard coral.

And this was something Zach noticed when we were walking in the woods. He stopped breathlessly and said, "Mom! A Dragon! Shhhhhh, give me your camera and I will take a picture of it so everyone will believe I really saw a real dragon. For real!"

I love the way he looks at the world.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blast Off

Wow of the week: Blasting off model rockets at NASA.

Future astronaut Zach figures he is more qualified than most 4-year olds since he's been conditioned to living in small places that are in constant motion, conserving fresh water, using a funny toilet, and running off solar power his whole life.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Chime in...

We interrupt this child centered blog for an announcement:

If you are reading this -- I need your advice.

I am working on an story for a sailing magazine about the ups and downs of living aboard. And I am stuck. I think the problem is, I have been living aboard SOsoSOso long (11 years now) I don't know what's interesting about it to non-boat people. I am too deep in my own little world. It's all so routine to me. And that's a pretty broad topic to cover.

So please chime in with your comments -- it you were reading an article about the ups and downs of living on a boat -- what would you want to hear about? What are you curious about? What's obvious and what's not?

gracias! merci! thanks y'all!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Dear Zach... love President Obama

So back in November Zach heard on NPR that then candidate Barack Obama's grandma died in Hawaii. That really hit home for Z because his grandparents live in Hawaii, and he loves them dearly. So he decided to write Senator Obama a condolence letter. Since it was just a few days before the election, we sent it off to his senate office address.

I sorted the mail on Saturday and almost fell over when I saw a letter to Zach from The White House!

"Zach, you have a letter here."

"Who's it from?"

"President Obama."

"Oh, I KNEW he wouldn't forget me, I knew it!"

Sure it was a form letter, but it made this little boy's day.

He wants to write back again. I think he thinks they're penpals now.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Outside In

Perfect recipe for quiet fun.

A rainy day. A plastic container from the galley. Rocks, moss, and shells from outside.
Sprinkle in a generous helping of rainwater (and one dead bug for flavoring).

Bring inside. Add one curious child, a few odds and ends, and lots of imagination.

Sit back and enjoy the free time while your little one explores.

Islands, mountains, volcanoes, boats, huts, farms, planets... you wouldn't believe how many things this little play scape became.

Who needs tv/ videos on a rainy day?

(idea taken from the fabulous book Earthways by Carol Petrash)
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