Tuesday, August 30, 2011

this blog post is brought to you by The Sun

Word on the street is that power to our neighborhood won't be back on until Friday. That's 5+ days without power. For many people it's a huge hardship, but on our little ship we have a secret weapon.

Four happy solar panels, 175 watts each. They have been soaking in the post-hurricane rays and leaving us running on our normal routine. We don't have heat or air conditioning (we plug into the dock power for that), but with perfect day and night temps right now that's not an issue. We just let the sun dance on the solar panels.
(even overcast or late day sun gives us juice!)
Then this little gizmo regulates the charging...

And our AGM batteries store all that power so we have it at night when the sun is not shining.

No moving parts. Nothing to break down. Quiet. Reliable. Seriously, why do we bother with any other power source? So if you're local and your ice cream is melting and your milk is souring, bring it on by.

Monday, August 29, 2011

a visit with irene

She came, she made herself heard, and she left. Just like that.
Of course storm prep with sailors always ends up being half macho fest/ half dock party. There's talk of knots (both wind speed and the tying kind) and names of other storms weathered are dropped like
A-list celebrities at a Hollywood party. Isabelle. Floyd. Yeah, been there, done that.

Doug and I joked that we may have taken the spark out of the man-fest just a wee bit as we made our preparations with Naia in the Ergo. Yes, very important manly work here.
(hey mama, it's getting WINDY! check out that hair!)

The short of it is this... we studied the forecast very, very carefully. And we made the informed decision to keep the boat at the marina (rather than evacuate to a hurricane hole) and stay aboard as long as it was comfortable. We knew with the hurricane passing to our east that the the prevailing winds would be northerlies. What does this mean? In short, no storm surge in our area. And we were literally right on the line between one county that had a Category 1 warning and another that had a Tropical Storm warning. We get some butt kicking Nor'easters here that bring winds that strong every fall, so we knew the boat could take it. We prepared, yes, but we had some fun too.
(the red baron is fighting the storm clouds on our carefully wrapped stack pack)

(some neighboring boats evacuated...)

(many neighbors pitched in to make the docks safer for everyone.)

(dock carts tucked away and Zach's bait bucket tied as only a 7 year old can to the fencing there. i wonder if he will ever be able to get it off now?)

(ready for anything...)

Right around dinner time with the boat a-dancing and the winds a-howling Zach informed us that he wanted to go to Plan B. Or maybe we should call it Plan SJ. We told him if things got bad we would walk up the hill to Super Jen's place and crash over there. Well he's no fool. He knows hanging at Super Jen's place (aka World Headquarters) equals amazing food and a movie night. So he said he'd feel more comfortable going over, ahem, right at dinner time :) And afterwards declared that the best part of hurricanes was the food. Oh that strawberry shortcake.... mmmmmmm! Doug stayed with the boat and walked the docks checking other boats too.

The next morning the blow stopped as if someone flipped a switch.

First business item... free ice cream! The fuel dock office lost power (we don't have power issueson the boat except for air conditioning and heat, neither of which we need this time of year, because we run on solar) and the marina had to get rid of all of their frozen treats stat. Why yes, we will, thank you!
Then the blue skies beckoned and we decided to make it a beach day. The water was washed clean along with the breeze and the sand. I have never seen the Chesapeake Bay that empty and quiet. I think it was a healthy pause. 
We collected sea glass, played on the jetty, poked at dead jellyfish, and came home wind blown and sun kissed. Really, not a bad weekend.
Thank you everyone for the well wishes and I hope other east coast folks faired as well as we did in the storm.

Friday, August 26, 2011

~this moment~ watching and waiting

A Friday ritual. A single couple of photo(s) capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

a funny thing happened on the way to the hurricane...

So yesterday afternoon we were looking on the computer at the weather... because you know, we live on a boat and weather is something we like to pay close attention to, even when we're just hanging out in the slip waiting for rigging.
And my geographically inclined child pointed out the obvious... "Hey mom, that hurricane is coming to the Chesapeake Bay!" Oh, yes. Why hello there Irene, how sporting of you to plan a visit up our way. If you please, don't come to close because evacuating with a baby is a real P.I.T.A.
So we did the prudent thing. We started making long term plans... just in case. Clear the decks and cockpit. Toys off the dock now, just to get it done. And of course go buy groceries and batteries and such now before she comes any closer and the stores get all crazy like.

But we were unable to avoid crazy. Because my friends there is nothing crazier than living on the mid-Atlantic seaboard and feeling a 6.0 earthquake. It was a first for everyone in my family. We were in the underground parking lot at Whole Foods getting ready to hop out and shop. I was sorting through which of our grocery bags was the least disgusting to bring in and use while Zach declared that he would handle unbuckling Naia and getting her out of her seat (oy).

Then the shaking. I took a mama bear deep breath and did what any mama would do. I blamed the earthquake on my son. Without even looking up from my moldy bag sorting I hollared, "Be gentle with your sister! Stop monekying around back there!"

Then I realized, that shake was not from a monkey, more like a gorilla. Was a friend playing a joke? We almost always run into a friend at "Whole Check" so I thought maybe somebody was jumping on my back bumper to be funny. A quick check in the rearview mirror... nope. So being a jaded Washingtonian my next thought was, "Oh crap. Another terrorist attack. Well at least we'll be trapped somewhere with lots of good food."

No, too rhythmic for terrorists. Then I hopped out and saw the looks on the faces of everyone else in the parking lot. Could it be? Was that just? It was!

Radio on, phone the hubby, and drive out of that underground lot as fast as we safely could. People on the streets looking totally bewildered. I know my West Coast buddies think this is all funny for a wee little 6.0-er. But we're all earthquake virgins here. And our buildings are most definitely NOT set up for this. And for many of my friends it was their kids first day at school. So life here got a little chaotic. The National Cathedral lost some spires. The Washington Monument looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. We're just not set up for this. We drove around in circles for about 20 minutes wondering what to do. And the decision was made. Buy our hurricane food at Trader Joes instead ;) They are above ground afterall.

So if things are a little quiet here this week it's because we're getting ready for that blizzard. Or ducking a tornado. Or that toads are falling from the sky.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

the daily grind

All moms know that feeling. You spin your wheels all day long and then as the sun is sneaking down to the horizon you look around and feel as if you've gotten nothing at all accomplished. I have to remind myself... a lot... that's it's not all about the quantity of things checked off my infinite to do list, it's about the quality in the time spent each day.

I understand the temptation to plug the kids in, drop them off with a sitter, sweep them under the rug so one can get something accomplished. And believe me there are days when I would give a bag of gold to have an uninterrupted thought in my head. But the tasks we do together, as slow and insane as they may be, are worth the mess and worth the extra time taken.
The salad could have been made in 10 minutes. It took a good hour, and that does not include cleaning the counter or the chubby cheeked helper. She felt what it was like to squash a tomato in her fingers, she tasted some avocado and promptly spit it back out, she smelled her first lemon and made a spectacular pucker after a curious lick, she ripped up pieces of kale with wreckless abandon. I am so glad neither of us missed those moments for the sake of "getting it done".
Of course we could buy laundry detergent at the store. Bam. Game over. But I have become addicted to making our own (one recipe here, and there are many variations online). It's less expensive, the ingredients are basic and good, and it smells wonderful. Yes, it takes an afternoon of Zach grating the soap while Naia tries to sabotage every step of the process with determination and dimples. But we're under the oak tree, listening to the halyard clang against the masts, smelling the pepperminty goodness of the Dr. Bronners, working together. It's all part of their becoming and my remembering.

Monday, August 22, 2011

gotta regatta

While my teammates on the Dyneema Experience Team are winning ocean races with their sporty new rigging, we are taking a low tech approach to regattas - root beer cans and lots of tape!
(serisous about the start!)

Zach has been counting down the days to the annual 12 Ounce Regatta here in town. Kids who enter are given a bucket of supplies including the root beer cans. You are limited to what is in the bucket to create your vessel and the vessel must fit back in the bucket when it's finished. The race committee provides the water and the wind, and off they go! The last time we did this race was two years ago. That's because last year he worked and worked on his boat and a certain pregnant mama got the day and time wrong on the calendar and we missed the race. (I swear that's going to be one of those things he will remind me of when he's 40. Oy.) I was looking back at past races and noticing how very little he looked up there and remembering how there were many tears at lost races, lots of nerves, and it was an accomplishment for him to just stand up there alone and launch his boat without mama or daddy.
(age 5)

This time around the boy hardly checked in with us as he compared boats with fellow racers, he kept track of the standings on his own, and he finally understood what it means to be a good sport while cheering on his competitors and genuinely being grateful for his 6th place finish overall. I think the grown up racers could learn a thing or two from these little ones.

Friday, August 19, 2011

~this moment~ mutiny

The Dyneema Experience Challenge is drawing to a close in one month and I have the honor of being the only team that Dyneema and New England Ropes has not provided with the free re-rig we were promised in winning the contest. Other teams are competing for a trip to Spain by blogging, tweeting, and otherwise loving all over the new rigging they've had since April. No chance at Spain for me because I can't blab about something I don't have. But I can blab about not having it. It is a social media competition afterall.

How can you help? Throw your weight behind my pal Cidnie. She is the only American and the only cruiser (as opposed to racers who have loads of money and influence to help them win) and the only mom in the final running. The only thing holding her back is followers. Just click and sign here where it says "follow  me" to support her bid.

And if you're feeling surly, click on the FB pages linked above for New England Ropes and Dyneema and tell them what you think of running a contest without supplying all of the competitors with the tools they need to compete.

Happy Weekend and thanks!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

michigan love

So much goodness in our trip back home. My hometown is Chicago where I was born and mostly raised. But this little cabin on Lake Michigan is the closest thing I have to "coming home" from childhood. My family has had this place for 30 years. My little odds and ends from those decades are placed throughout the cabin and it was a trip to discover them again, and to see Zach discover them too. I remember when I would arrive as a kid the first thing I wanted to do was run over and have a porch chat with our neighbor Carol, and of course as Carol worked her magic charm on Zach he too needed to run over (by myself mama, like a big boy) and have his porch time with her as well. I still favor the sleeping porch as the one little bedroom, even when it's vacant, still feels like my parents room to me. How amazing to watch your baby sleep in the very spot you slept in as a girl.

Anyhow, the only thing missing was our dear old sailboat. The one I learned to sail on. The storms last winter took her away I am told.

But the week was full even without the sailing. Full of cousins getting to know each other and fresh picked berries and local wine and board games and sandy bums and wave jumping and rock collecting and uncles and aunties and neighbors and old friends and bon fires and junk shops and storms and ghosts and memories.

I *heart* Michigan.

Friday, August 12, 2011

~this moment~

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Postcards: The Woods

Monday, August 08, 2011

Postcards: I Heart Michigan Beaches

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