Monday, May 23, 2005

Finally, a post about boat stuff
It’s that time of year again. The time when the yard workers at boat yards all along the New England coast work like mad to get the boats in the water for Memorial Day weekend. Over the winter, the parking lots at the marinas near us are packed in tightly with shrink wrap covered boats. In the spring, however, the parking lots get filled with cars as the boats empty out. As the boats get put in, the owners’ cars arrive to bring various things that will make the boats usable again for the summer.

Every year we bust our butts, right along with everyone else, to get the boat ready for Memorial Day weekend. And every year it’s a cold, rainy, and sometimes foggy holiday weekend, and we wonder what the fuss was all about with getting it in for the long weekend.

This year we will not be sailing on Memorial Day weekend. Our boat is still in the paint shed at the marina, getting her new decks put on and painted, and probably won’t be done with that until later on this week. Once the boat is put into the water, the masts have to be put back on and rigged. At some point we also need to finish replacing the hatches, too, before the lack of hatches makes it possible for it to rain inside the boat. It feels nice not to look at the calendar and say "OK, it’s Monday, we want to leave on Friday night. We need to do this, this, this, this, this, this…." Because we are still in restoration mode, the list of "this, this, this, this, this, this…" can be quite long.

Usually over the winter we undertake a major project or two, for example, getting the decks re-done was this winter’s big project, as well as replacing the hatches. Then in May we try to get that major project finished, as well as cleaning up the eventual dust all through the interior, putting the interior cushions back in, and bringing aboard all the stuff we need to entertain on the holiday weekend. One year we had just finished connecting all the water lines, faucets and shower just minutes before untying the dock lines and heading out. Such is life when you are restoring and still want to sail.

The week before Memorial Day finds us making lists, forgetting to bring lists when we leave the house, driving all over town to get things we need, feeling frenzied and crabby, "I forgot the list? I thought you had it!" This is supposed to be fun, right? Last year we had come to that conclusion, as the spring found us waiting for engine work to be completed, and doing the ready-for-Memorial-Day scramble. We were getting pretty grouchy with all the work we needed to finish for our Friday departure. Finally on one trip to the local boating supply store to pick up some other forgotten item, I turned to Todd and said, "This is supposed to be fun. But we’re getting all pissy about it. Why is that? What do you say we enjoy the process of getting ready again? In the grand scheme of things, we have a pretty sweet boat, we should be enjoying this more." And then the conversation changed to "I can’t wait until we go here, or go there…" "Where do you want to sail to for vacation this year?" The scrunched up brow, turned into a relaxed smile, and we started laughing more.

Over the weekend we did some necessary mast work, as the masts are off it’s much easier to do this work now. We built a bracket and platform for our radar dome to sit on. We replaced the wiring for the VHF antenna, and we also removed an old speaker that was on the mizzenmast and ran a new wire to that. All we need to do is install a foghorn, and the mast work will be completed. We had such a great time working together on this. We were relaxed, and not rushing to check the mast work off of the list along with 12 other things we’d hoped to do on the weekend. We were running the wires, and laughing together. We took a break and brought the dogs to the park, we got some ice cream on another break.

This is how boat work was meant to be. Spring preparation has once again become fun.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Now Why Don't She Write?
I often envy the blogs that other people write. You know, the ones that the writers post on more frequently than once every 6 weeks. It's not that I don't lead a fascinating life that I am dying to tell you all about. It's really just sheer laziness. I sit at a computer for 8 hours a day. Day in and day out. When I get home, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of the computer for another minute. (And I haven't quite gotten the guts to post on my blog while at work. LOL.)

Anyway, last month I had the opportunity to visit Saint Paul, MN for work. My boss and department are located there, so I think I'll get the chance to travel there every 6 months or so. It's pretty neat, getting to explore another city after hours. My week there was action packed in and out of work, with meeting my co-workers that I've only spoken to on the phone or swapped emails with. I also got the chance to meet up with my friend the lovely Jen.

The fact that I even got pictures was sheer luck. On Sunday morning I was leaving my home in sunny Rhode Island, I grabbed the digital camera off of the shelf, tossed it into the back pack, and ran out to catch my cab. I arrived in Saint Paul, then set off to explore the city. What I was the most interested in was seeing the Mississippi River, which I'd never seen. I walked to the river from my hotel, excited as I saw the river. I pulled the camera out of my back pack, just to discover it had no batteries. Sadly, I looked at the darkened screen on the back of the camera, and I could swear I heard it say "No dice, Beej." Then my mind went back to the time that Todd pointed out the power strip he'd zip tied to the bookshelf "Look Beej, this is where the batteries for the camera are charging." How I wish I'd paid more attention, and didn't say "Sure, great." when Todd showed me that.

On Tuesday, while in the office, I just happened to find a battery for the camera. Todd used the backpack on a recent trip, and forgot a spare battery in there. Just in time, as I had planned on meeting up with Jen that night, and could then capture the moment.

Here are my pictures of the Twin Cities, enjoy.

This is me with Jen. Jen was an amazing tour guide. She took me all around, we had excellent Mexican, I got to meet her hounds at her house, we went to her friend's bar Mack's Industrial Sports Bar, and she also took me to the Stone Arch Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River. Jen, I've thoroughly enjoyed seeing your town, thank you for being such an excellent host.

This is me with Jen and her husband Dan. I had a blast meeting Dan and their friends who own the bar. If you're ever in Minneapolis, find Mack's Industrial Sports Bar. It's a great spot to hang out, and the bartender is hilarious.

This is one of Jen's dogs, Rocky. Jen has 3 Papillions: Pettunia, Rocky and Spike. They are very friendly dogs, and apparently impossible to photograph. Let's just say I have a lot of pictures of Jen's floor.

This is just a small portion of the Mall of America. Being a roller coaster junkie, and a sucker for shoe stores, the Mall of America seemed to combine the best of both worlds for me. Can I just say that the mall was just overwhelmingly huge. Oh, and until I'd been to the Mall of America, I'd never seen a wedding chapel in a shopping mall. My co-workers were kind enough to take me to the mall and show me around. We were there for maybe 3 hours, and maybe walked in about 1/8 of the place.

Apparently Charles Schultz is from the Twin Cities. There were various Peanuts characters all over Saint Paul, not only did Snoopy appear on the ferris wheel at the mall, but there was an enormous inflated one as well. Snoopy Snoopy, everywhere you look, cartoon beagles!

This is Minneapolis from the Stone Arch Bridge.

The Mighty Mississippi! This is St. Anthony's Falls. Beautiful, huh? I stood on the bridge for a very long time looking at the river.

You know, I've always wondered where North Star Blankets were manufactured.

Now I need to tell you about the hotel ducks. These ducks live in the lobby of the hotel I stayed in. The reception desk clerk was telling me that this year one of the ducks hatched a few ducklings. Some of the other ducks grew concerned about the increasing duck population, and apparently ducks rather violently control the size of their own population. He was telling me that one day some rather small, and now completely traumatized, children witnessed one of these exercises in population control. How does one explain that to a small child? "You see, Johnny, sometimes the duckies eat the ducklings..." Um... no.

OK, see you all again in another 6 weeks or so.