Thursday, July 30, 2009

Boat Bond

Making friends on the water happens fast. Here's how easy it is.

(yelling across the dock)
Z: Hi! You want to come to my boat and play?
R: Sure.

Instant karma. To say these two were kindred spirits would be an understatement. Zach came and whispered to me excitedly, "Mom, he knows what a 'head' is. He knows ALL of the right boat words!"

Z spotted R across the way on the bow of a new boat in the marina and 5 minutes later they were doing this.

And this.

And this.

You know when you see your kid just "click" so well with another kid? That warm happy feeling of making a real friend. I just watched them and listened to them and smiled all afternoon.

No drama, no BS, no showing off... just talk of snakes and types of boats they like and boogers and making up games where nobody is the bad guy and nobody "gets" anyone. Just jumping and giggling and poking dead things with sticks.

R's dad is a rigger (and a damn good one at that) and they'll be heading to the islands in a couple of months, but I have the feeling these two are going to do some major running around before then.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Shape of Things

Moms notice everything. We see the dirt under their fingernails and the fingernails on the dirty floor. We see the crumbs on the mouth and the mouth sucking crumbs from unsightly table tops. We see the muddy footprints tracking through our briefly clean floor. We see the smashed crayons between the couch cushions and the peanut butter in their hair. We see them lean into their spaghetti sauce and sneeze into their sandwiches. Sometimes we have to pretend we don't notice, but we see it all.

And moms hear everything. We hear the fridge door open, and not close. We hear the toilet seat slamming up or down. We hear the dog running for his life. We hear the sonic boom of an entire container of toys being overturned. We hear the stealthy opening of a hidden chocolate bar wrapper. We hear them scream and cry and whine and hit and complain and sass off. And we hear the silence. Oh no, now something's really not right, the silence.

But this week I am trying hard to turn OFF my super mommy senses. I am trying to float above the mess and meditate through the noise.

All I see are these little people with nothing but joy in their movement and perfection in their shape.
Pure, purposeful, beautiful little beings out savoring this big world around them.

I keep thinking of the lyrics from the Renee & Jeremy song: "It's a big world baby and you're little for a little while"

And the important things start coming in to focus.

Weird Science

What do you do if you have a caterpillar and he makes a chrysalis and never emerges? (remember Cheeky?)

Well if you're a 5 year old boy, you dissect it with a sewing needle of course!

Behold, Mummy Moth!

He's now resting comfortably in our nature table and a proper sarcophagus is forthcoming.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Story Time

They're back.

Of course they come for the food. I mean who are we kidding right? My son can literally call them and they come swimming over looking for some crumbled morsels of organic crackers or spelt bread (that's why I buy healthy food right, for the ducks?)

But here in our new slip, they're coming in larger and larger groups. They're coming even when we don't call them. They're coming even when we don't feed them. And they're just sort of... hanging out.

It started one evening around 7pm when Zach and I were out on deck reading stories. As I read the book Come Play With Me, they started coming around the boat. Well that was it. In a moment of kid karma Zach decided they came for story. It was just so logical to him.

So now when they come around in the evening, Z insists that we read to them.

Here they are (ahem) listening intently to the salty tales from Sea Stories: A Classic Illustrated Edition.
And Zach even asked dad to show them the pictures.

If we could read little duck minds and put their thoughts into cartoon balloons, I think it would say something like, "I much prefer Hemingway myself, but this will do." Or more realistically, "Where are the freaking crackers kid?"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Chase

It started like any other night out on the town via water taxi. Somebody says the word sushi, we call the water taxi on the marine radio, we scamper down to the fuel dock to get our taxi coupons, we hop aboard and have a lovely night out. After obscene amounts of raw fish and ice cream, we stroll down to City Dock to wait for the water taxi back to our home marina.

This young man made the wait magical as he regaled us with hypnotic melodies... complete with pirate ship backdrop.

I guess we were so swept away by the music that we never looked behind us to see the town-eating-storm that was rolling in. There have actually been times when the water taxi captain deems the weather to be so rough that he refuses to take passengers around the point (and home for us). Those times have resulted in me doing everything from hitching a ride on a dive boat to sending Doug home via car taxi to fetch our car (and car seat) to pick us up.

But Captain B was feeling bold and told us to hang on and expect to get wet as he powered full tilt boogie across the harbor and around the point with the storm literally chasing us off the aft port side.

The wind picked up and the waves started breaking over the bow of the water taxi to the delight of the cadre of 10 year old boys on board and to the horror of well dressed tourists on board. The big black town-eating-cloud caught up with us as we rounded the point and motored into our creek. But the water taxi pulled up to the marina just in time for us to sprint back to the boat seconds before the rain beat down and the lightening started crashing dramatically all around us.

As Captain Ron so wisely said: "If anything's gonna happen it's gonna happen out there."

I sure am happy we didn't take our dinghy with the ancient 5hp outboard... otherwise we might still be "out there".

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome Aboard - The Salon

What exactly is a salon? Originally it's a a fancy French term for reception hall or living room. The Encyclopedia of Nautical Knowledge defines a salon this way: “In a cargo and smaller passenger vessels, the main cabin, or that serving as a dining-room, assembly room, etc.” Some say salon, some say saloon. Tomato, tomahto - you get the idea.

On our boat and most cruising sailboats, it's the main living space that serves as the living room, dining room, play room, office, guinea pig ranch, craft area, homeschool space, and anything else we do from day to day.

This is the view when you walk in the sliding glass doors... (photo taken in spring time)

To the port side of this main table is the computer area and mess of plugs. You see the breaker panel, marine radios, radar, and stereo too. And if course, the guinea pig.

The wide counter to the far left above (and where Zach's bum is planted below) is the freezer (the top opens up). And where Zach's legs are dangling lies the 3 steps down to the galley.

That main table has storage underneath, so aside from the toys spread across the back window ledge and out around the room... all of the rest of the toys Zach has are under the table.

Somewhat organized in to baggies. But this is IT as far as toys go. With the exception of dress up clothes in his bedroom and a handful of stuffed animals on his bed... this is the entire toy collection.

To the right of the table is our calendar and map and the stairs that lead to the Book Nook and Zach's room.
The salon gets messy FAST because it's also the place where laundry is sorted, dirty dishes are abandoned, and stuff to be put away waits for a home.

If you dropped in completely unannounced, this is a more realistic view of what we'd look like. But being such a small space, it cleans up almost as fast as it get messy... so the chaos is short lived.

So this little space is where we spend most of our indoor time. For a sailboat, it's pretty spacious and very comfortable. For a "house", it's pretty darn small. It's all a matter of perspective, but we feel like we have more than enough space.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Fair Winds Ceilydh

(awesome card from Letterary Press on etsy)

The friendships you make on the water form fast and deep. I will never forget the first time Evan rowed his funky, handmade dink over to our boat on his way to work across the creek and introduced himself. He and his wife Diane had just sailed to the Chesapeake from Vancouver and were settling in to refill the cruising kitty. It was unusual to meet another couple aboard a boat in their 20's, so we formed an instant bond.

(Ev, me, T, Di, baby Maia)
A few years later, baby in arms they decided to move back home to Vancouver and start again with a bigger boat. To hide the tears we wanted to shed upon their leaving, we sent them off with a bang by doing our best midnight graffiti work before they drove back to Canada.

(would you believe they didn't like our work?)
Despite the obnoxious send off, they decided to stay friends with us. You can just ask the phone company, we still keep in VERY close contact and have even managed some cross-country visits.

(Zach & Maia, Washington DC March 2009)
It's not often you find people that you click as naturally as we all do. We share the sailing and voyaging bug, we share a passion for writing and photography, we're all firmly parked in the only child camp, we're all great salsa dancers (oh whoops, sorry Lumberjacks, not quite). And Diane was responsible for opening my eyes to the world of AP/ breastfeeding/ co-sleeping/ intactivism etc.

We've shared good times (oh that Tequila Almendrado!), we've comforted each other through storms (I wouldn't have stayed afloat when my mama died without them), and we've shared intimate moments (I got to photograph the birth of their daughter). So to see them fulfill their dream of setting off again on their boat is as close as we can come to doing it ourselves (we'll get there someday soon).

I get it. I KNOW what it took for them to have this moment and I know how they're feeling right now. It's that blend of HOORAY and HOLY CRAP!

So rather sneaking into some harbor and sending them off again with my best graffiti work, I offer them this message from the heart. When a sailor sends another sailor off we don't say good bye, we say Fair Winds and Following Seas... because the world is round, and sailors know that means friends will always meet again.

(follow their adventures on Ceilydh Sets Sail)

(image ripped off from Ceilydh web site)

Flower Power

Flowers all look the same to me. Pretty, puffy, and full of sneezey pollen. I look at plants and flowers the same way I imagine land lubbers discern between brands of dinghy. Other than a rose and a tulip and a daisy, I'm pretty lost in the weeds. But my little boy brought me the book The Flowers' Festival by Elsa Beskow, and he kept asking me questions about which one was which. And I decided we needed to start learning them together.

Z and Miss T loved roaming the marina and the neighborhood collecting bouquets. I am unsure about the etiquette of picking flowers from public places, but we plucked like crazy!

Queen Anne's Lace, Hydrangea, Lavender, and... something or other that was growing from a little tree. We're still working on it.

The kids worked on coloring in their own flowers cut from cardboard.

Even though the wind and the rocking of the boat tends to knock over my little bouquets about 3 times a day, I am sticking with this fresh picked flowers thing. Especially when they are picked by loving, curious little hands. And maybe I'll be able to name more of them by the end of the summer as fast as I can spot the difference between a Picasso Triggerfish and a Clown Triggerfish.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Drifting Thoughts

In my next life, I want to be a piece of drift wood. Born of the forest, a long lasting love affair with the ocean, old age sunning on the soft sand, and final days in the hands of an imaginative spirit.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Weekend Warriors

Zach is FINALLY at that age. We've been dreaming about it for so long that when it happened, we almost didn't notice it. It's the age of "independently keeping himself busy while mom and dad work on boat projects together at the SAME time"!

It was hard the first year of his life, being on a new-to-us boat and mentally making the to-do list in my head while nursing and sitting on my bum. Doug tackled and continues to tackle many projects. And some we've enlisted help for. But some require two adults. And some require a person who is home all day (Doug commutes off to work in an office). And some I just want to do myself.

You see, I like doing boat work. While I don't have any exceptional skills in gel coat repair or line splicing, when given the time, proper tools, and cash flow to make it happen, I find it very satisfying to work on our boat. I guess this is how people who garden or knit must feel when they're in the thick of it. The thing is, you can garden and knit with a baby next to you or in an Ergo carrier. Rigging work and slopping toxic chemicals on to your hulls isn't conducive to baby wearing.

And for the past 5 years I always had a baby in arms, or a toddler to chase, or a kid to keep busy and fed and out of trouble. But this season he'd rather spend his weekend days off running around the marina with the neighbor kids making trouble and only stopping in for a food and water hit before heading out again. So Doug and I found our boat quiet and our hands free. And we decided to rip it up!
Music was blasting from the speakers. Tools were littered across the foredeck. And we tore off the old, icky tramp and strung on a new, fancy-pants Dyneema netting. I was dripping with sweat, my hands were dirty, I displaced several generations of disgruntled spiders, and I was totally in my happy place.

I was laughing to myself that I could post this as a really warped version of WIP (Work In Progress Wednesdays where talented mamas boast about their latest sewing and knitting endeavors). Ok, so I can't sew and I can't knit, but look what I did this weekend!

Zach made good use of his free time with neighbor kids too.

If he keeps it up, maybe we'll pay for these boat projects and be outta here faster than we think!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dirt Market

I have to laugh sometimes when I walk in the supermarket this time of year and see the heaps of plastic outdoor toys for sale. To me, "outdoor toy" is almost an oxymoron. The outdoors is one big free fabulous toy!

Z and his buddies R & K decided to set up shop under the marina mailboxes and happily spent the afternoon making, selling, and buying... dirt. And leaves. And flower petals. And mulch. And rocks.

They were so industrious about it. I mean you could not pull these kids away for anything (just ask R & K's mom when it was time to go home).

The idea came from their own imaginations. There was no squabbling. There was no whining. Just three happy kids.

Creating in the dirt.
You can't buy that in the toy store.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Blues

~blue sun hat salvaged from family storage space... my big brother wore it when he was 5 years old~

~giant, sweet blueberries ripe for the picking~

~blue, fresh water of Lake Michigan stretching out forever (and more blueberries! Did you know if you eat enough blueberries you'll... oh forget it, too gross!)~

~vintage blue school chalk board from a funky, country roadside antique shop. (If I lived in a house, I would have taken it home)~

~bright blue shorts from MiniBoden that always make me smile~

~blue bottled Tabor Hill Traminette wine grown and aged on the shores of Lake Michigan (it's a fabulous, under appreciated wine region)~

~singing the blues about the fact that my old car SilverJack decided this road trip was her swan song and we had to buy another car on the way home~

~Z & Miss T playing with my favorite handmade blue quilt. (One of my best friends spent 3 years in Ghana for Peace Corps. Knowing my favorite color, he picked up scraps from the dress factory he passed while walking to and from the school he taught in each day. When he had enough scraps, he asked a local lady to sew this quilt for me with local flour sacks as the backing) ~

~bidding goodbye to a blue sky day eating the last of the fresh blueberries on the blue quilt reading blueberry books (Blueberries For Sal & Peter In Blueberry Land & The Blueberry Pie Elf illustrated by a far related cousin)~
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