Sunday, September 30, 2012

There Be Dragons

This year was the first time we were able to create a little community Michaelmas festival for the kids. There are loads of blogs and web sites out there that can explain all about this festival of dragons (this one being one of my favorites and of course I stole lots of ideas from my pal Joy)... so I'll just let the photos do the talking. It was a beautiful evening of dragon slaying and strength and music and stories and food and fun.

::beeswax dragon medallions::

:: serving trays 2 for $1 with some burlap ribbon handles, then the kids decorated them as shields::

:: games of balance and courage::

:: Our fabulous Master of Ceremonies and her little helper::

::gourd dragon::

::dragon meatloaf::

::that meatloaf isn't getting away now! he was delicious!::
::making dragon bread by candle light::

::story time::

Dragon Books:
The Land of Long Ago by Elsa Beskow
Saint George And The Dragon by Margaret Hodges
Where's The Dragon by Jason Hook (one of Naia's all time favorite books!)
That's Not My Dragon (Usborne touchy feely board book)
Dragons by Lucille Recht Penner

and other books celebrating the fall Equinox...
We Gather Together by Wendy Pfeffer
Persephone by Sally Pomme Clayton

Saturday, September 29, 2012

the other half

In the world of hyperbole and stereotype, power boaters and sail boaters are like cats and mice. We call them stink pots, we swear as they speed by leaving us rocking in their wake, we poopoo their exhaust fumes. And yet... when offered a sunset ride on a picture perfect evening on a power catamaran this group of sailors said, "hell yeah!"

Just before our pals Tig and Serena sailed away we were treated by a local friend to a cruise on a Leopard 39 Powercat. It was fast and smooth and very weird riding way up high on the top deck.
(Tig lounging on the powercat, living it up!)

(view from the top deck of the powercat... typical Annapolis day on the water with Naval Academy sailboats under spinnaker, the Schooner Woodwind and some other boats.)

The kids LOVED it, like almost came out of their skin with glee. And of course the crazy jet ski guys chasing us up river and playing in our wake made for quite a show.

So now we know how the other half live. Would we convert over? Well... maybe... one day... perhaps. But we'll still shake our fists at them when they zoom by.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Who did it? Who was that person way back when who first looked at a sheep and said, "Sweater!" Yeah, let's shave that, clean the fleece, brush it out, stretch and spin it into this stuff called yarn, get two sticks, and create a series of complex knots that will become a sweater. Sure. That makes perfect sense. Kind of like the first person who saw a coffee bean and somehow got the idea of roasting the middle, grinding it up, pouring hot steaming water through it, and then drinking it. Or the first hungry dude who looked at a spiny lobster and decided it could be dinner. It's a huge leap.

There is just nothing intuitive about knitting. Sewing pieces of cloth together, yeah I get that. But using sticks to make rows and rows of knots seems to me like the slowest way to get a piece of clothing imaginable. I know, I know, slow is good. Slow food. Slow down. Deep breaths. Whatever. At the rate I am going I may have one sock by the time I am too arthritic to make the matching sock.
I figured out how to cast on. And thanks to my friend K who just seemed to have the right way of explaining it one day at the park, I started the actual knitting. I am moving along at a pace that would make a snail laugh. I bring my little bundle of yarn with me everywhere.

Check me out, I am so damn trendy you can smell the wool and kombucha from a mile a way. Here I am with my basket, knitting away. Only if you look close enough you'll notice two things. One, I look like I am wrestling with the yarn rather than gently crafting it into a woolen magnum opus. My hands are clenched around the needles like they might leap out of my hands if I loosen my grip, and my fingers are snarled in a way that makes one think I might need the services of an exorcist. Nothing soft and lovely will come from this.

Two, I am not making anything. I just decided to cast on a random number of stitches one day and go. I am dropping and adding rows and stitches all over the place like a toddler in a toy store. I am just knitting. Period.

So here I am. I am not making anything. My hands hurt. My fingers have little dents in them the same diameter as my bamboo needles. My yarn is a tangled mess. And I truly can't imagine ever doing this at a pace that would one day result in a wearable item for anyone larger than a garden gnome. I doff my cap and bow down to you folks who manage to whip up Christmas sweaters and matchy hats and socks for the whole family. I am just happy to mindlessly make knots, and ponder the sheep, and thank my lucky stars that at the end of this wad of yarn I will be able to step back, look at my patch of rainbow chaos, and then get online and buy my whole family winter sweaters at a store.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

halcyon day

Sometimes, just sometimes... the wind dances and skips across the water perfectly. And the sun shines, but doesn't burn. And the air is crisp enough not to sweat, but warm anough not to shiver. Sometimes nothing breaks, or leaks, or chafes, or smokes. The toddler naps. The big boy helps. The crab pots are visible and rare, the racers have already taken off and are out of the way down the Bay. The sandwiches are already made and in the fridge, which is maintaining temperature from the solar panels. The cell phone is quiet. The calendar is free of deadlines. Sometimes we just go and go effortlessly and all is right in the world.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Living on a boat has been compared to camping by many a person. We're all huddled in a small space, trying to make the most of it, trying to make it home. Our boat is big for a boat, small for a house, but it's taught me a few tricks about quickly and easily creating homey touches. So when I was trolling Pinterest for camping food ideas and stumbled on the whole concept of Glamping, I was sold. I can't create a gypsy caravan love tent (check out these google images for glamping, uh no sorry no space for a four poster bed), but I squeezed a few extra things into the Honda Civic that made our camp site in Shenandoah National Park feel a little more civilized.

Basically it's all about fabric. A nice quilt here, a tablecloth there, some nice cloth napkins, a little decorative bunting just for fun.  And of course any wee comforts from home like a favorite mug with special tea, a good book, soft slippers, a favorite sweater, and an emergency bar of dark chocolate with some wine.  You can plop yourself just about anywhere and feel cozy with a little of that.

Then of course when it pours for a day, and your tent leaks... it all ends up something like this...

But if the chocolate and wine and tea are still dry, that's all that matters in the end.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

tig and serena

We first met Tig and Serena last year when they drove down from Boston to Annapolis to attend the US Sailboat show. We had a lovely evening together, but it was an evening with lots of other guests and friends and we really didn't get a chance to get to know them as well as we would have liked.

They spent the year in Boston living aboard their boat, and cast off this summer to head south and start their family cruising adventure (which you can read all about here on their blog).

Lucky for us their watery path brought them right back our way again for an extended stay to stock up and enjoy the local sites. They were anchored right in our back yard so to speak so we got to hang out all the time, and we so enjoyed getting to know them better.  Naia is in love with little O who is just a few months older than her. My overbearing, alpha girl scares the the heck out of this sweet little boy, but they have their moments and it's very sweet finally seeing her play with someone her own age rather than chasing behind a pack of 8-year olds.

Little V celebrated her 4th birthday with us, and has been a sweet little presence around the docks. She keeps up with the big kids and always has a smile on her beautiful face.

And of course Tig and Serena themselves are just fabulous. We have loads in commmon and loads to chat about (toddler willing) and it's nice to find friends that feel so comfortable in our weird little world. We tried to trick them into staying all year, but the winds and waves are beckoning them towards the horizon. I can't blame them. But as all cruisers know, the world is round and we will meet again. Fair winds you four!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

mountain retreat

It's that time of year again, a little early this time actually. We made our annual trek to Shenandoah National Park for some camping and hiking. Past years with Naia being a wee sprite we stayed in the lodge, which is lovely and rustic. But now that she is a force of nature we decied to be one with nature and pitch our new tent in the park with some friends.

(Come one, let ME show you how to start that fire guys!)

The week was full and relaxing all at once. The kids worked on their Junior Ranger badges...

And climbed and hiked...

And pigged out...

And we allhung out in the lodge a bit on a rainy day...

And spotted wildlife...

The deer were everywhere, but the excitement came when on two different hikes we had close encounters with Black Bears. We learned that they are fairly shy and were just as startled to happen upon us as we were to stumble upon them. And I learned that I will never be a wildlife photographer because I was too busy pulling my gaping jaw off the ground to snap any photos of the bears. 
(Naia in the bear box. The park provides these for campers so we can lock up our food and such at night and deter bears from rummaging in our campsite for snacks.)

This was more my speed of catching wildlife.

Once again I want to wax poetic about our natioanl park service and the amazing things they do. The programs they put on, the way they happily and helpfully interact with the kids, and of course protecting these wild spaces for generations to experience and enjoy.

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