Jan's Journal

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. Life Goes

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Dec. 31, 2009: Instead of climbing into bed at 2100, we found ourselves climbing into our Volvo to go to a New Year's Eve party in Deer Harbor. About 20 people gathered... a good crowd, most of whom we knew. By 2315 we were all fading -- jokes and laughter about old fogies trying to stay up late -- so we broke out a dice game that kept us occupied for the next 30 min. Clay turned the TV on so we could watch the ball drop in Times Square, despite the fact that it had actually dropped 3 hours earlier. Dick Clark really needs to give it up; he looked AWFUL! A little cosmetic surgery is one thing, but Dick Clark is another! At midnight, we trashed the living room by tossing colorful streamers at one another, and made enough noise to wake the dead! Champagne was poured, fun was had, and we proved that we wouldn't turn into mice or pumpkins by staying up past midnight!

Dec. 26, 2009: In loving memory of DC. We had an ominous feeling about today as DC refused last night's catnip offering and this morning's breakfast. We hung around in the morning, petting DC and telling him we loved him -- our big guy responded by purring loudly. Finally at 1:00 we headed out to run errands and work on the house. In late afternoon, Babs asked if we'd like to stay for wine and appies. Although our second load of laundry wasn't yet dry, we decided to head back to the boat. DC was laying on the rug in the head. I picked him up and put him in the kitty litter box but he was so weak he couldn't sit up so I carried him up into the main salon, where Jim was. DC began meowing so we laid him down on his kitty quilt under the table and he was gone within 2 minutes. We don't know if he waited for us to get home or whether it was just a timing coincidence, but whatever, we are so thankful that we had the opportunity to be with him in his last minutes. Manana has always had 2 orange boys on board so it won't be the same. We were so hopeful that DC would stay healthy enough to enjoy catching voles at the new house. Right now, our hearts are broken and I can't stop crying. I hope that in DC's next life he'll be able to run free, without hearing "Stay on the boat!" God bless you, DC, and thank you for 10 years of wonderful memories. You were one very special cat.

Dec. 25, 2009: Merry Christmas! After a breakfast of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls (oink oink!), we headed up to Jim's folks. Not a lot going on as none of us are party animals these days, but I had a good chat with Linda, Colleen and BF Sue. Santa brought me some long underwear (the marina office doesn't always have heat), Susan Boyle's CD and some bubble bath. We also got a couple of calendars, a gift card to Home Depot, a one-cup coffee maker, fleece blanket with sleeves, the new Olga Symphony CD and a bag of pistachios. Jim fixed Christmas dinner -- tonight's menu was marinated roast pork, roasted potatoes with shallots and rosemary and green beans with ginger and cashews. Babs made blueberry pie a la mode. Yup, more oink oink'ing.

Dec. 24, 2009: Tonight was bonfire night at JH's house. JH is a friend of ours who has a dump truck. Earlier in the week, Jim and JH loaded the truck full of construction scraps and unloaded them into JH's firepit, not once but twice (saving us lots of money in dump run fees)! With the weather forecast to be clear, cold and calm, JH decided it was time to light the fire! So after our traditional live Maine lobster dinner (which was DELICIOUS!), we headed over to JH's. He had invited a bunch of people and about a dozen showed up. Keeping warm was not a problem once the fire was lit! The sky was crystal clear with hundreds (thousands?) of stars visible -- just beautiful! We stayed until 9:45, when we finally decided we'd better head back to the boat, just in case Santa was in the neighborhood.

Dec. 20, 2009: Another busy weekend...it started Friday night with the West Sound Marina's Christmas dinner party at Mia's. The restuarant isn't usually open for dinner, but since the marina owns the downtown office space..... Great food, great wine, great fun and some great gifts at evening's end. Saturday morning found us bundled up as we put the remaining lights up on the flybridge. The white ones went on the rails and the new blue ones were strung to look like a tree. My thought was if you wanted it to look like a tree, you should have GREEN lights, but Jim says that the tree is actually invisible and what shows is the blue lights on the tree. Hmmm... Then we both went to work -- I at the marina and Jim on the house's roof (he and Stan got the last panels installed). Sat. pm was the West Sound Community potluck. Today had us going in opposite directions again. I drove to the laundromat in Deer Harbor and washed the top quilt and 3 rugs while Jim and a friend loaded and dumped much of the scrap wood. By the end of the day, I was able to say I'm ready for Christmas -- sort of! We still have to come up with a dinner plan.

DC news: He's holding his own! The fluids treatment apparently worked (for the time being, anyway). He's painfully thin -- we're trying everything we can think of to get him to eat and drink. However, he purrs when we pet or talk to him so we think this means he's happy and as long as he keeps purring, we'll keep fighting to keep him with us.

Dec. 14, 2009: DC was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in Oct. and is on 2 medications daily. He had a set back last night, requiring us to take him in to the vets this morning. He weighed in at 7 lbs (he was 16 lbs in Sept.). He was dehydrated, so we left him so he could receive fluids and have an enema. The vet doesn't know whether the Lasix is causing his problems or whether his kidneys are beginning to shut down. At this point it's wait and see, but his Lasix prescription was cut in half.

The Gordeaux Girls
(L-R: Sheila, Jan, Gordon, Lynn & Karen)

Dec. 12-13, 2009: We survived the cold week with only one relatively minor mishap -- Jim started the watermaker and heard a loud "pop". Apparently there was frozen water in the hose causing the hose to blow off the pressure regulator fitting! The water was pretty much contained to the back of the watermaker box in our stateroom; shortly after the incident, Jim put a portable electric heater in the lazarette to keep the pipes from freezing in the future and he repaired the broken hose so we're back to making water. Jim also put the Christmas lights on the lower rails and bought 3 more boxes of lights to illuminate the flybridge and mast...manana!

Tis the season for holiday parties; yesterday we ferried to Friday Harbor for the ham radio group's potluck. They had a few door prizes to give away. Audrey was asked to draw the first name; she drew her own. Then I was asked to draw the second name; I drew my own (I won a bumper sticker -- woopty doo!). Finally Peter was asked to draw the third name; he drew Babs! Jim and I spent the remainder of the afternoon in the big city ("sin city" as it's known here on Orcas) and did the majority of our Christmas shopping. It feels good to have that done.

This morning we went to our storage locker to transfer our stuff out of the small locker and into a larger one. Both lockers were in the same building but at opposite ends, so we decided to walk the items down. After several trips back and forth, a guy with an empty pick-up truck stopped and told Jim to put our belongings in his truck, which we happily did. He then drove down to the other end of the row and helped us unload them into our new space. Talk about a very appreciated gesture! We decided to get a bigger locker as we didn't want to cram the barn with items we're beginning to acquire for the house.

This afternoon was Chris & Lynn's annual Solstice party (a week early this year). They had a house full of people and Lynn outdid herself with all the food she prepared. Around 4:30, Lynn read a poem that she'd written and then everyone lit a candle. Lynn, Sheila, Karen and I had all previously shopped at Gordeaux, the only place around where you can get formal wear. And given his small inventory, we all ended up buying the same blouse, but in different colors! Given the knowledge that Gordon was going to be attending the party, we ladies decided to wear our blouses and be Gordeaux's pin-up blouse girls! Gordon was tickled pink when he saw us dressed in our finery. Pictures were taken that just may end up on his website in the future! A snow advisory has been issued for this evening -- I hate that "s" word and often wonder why the heck we came back. California certainly has its issues, but the weather isn't one of them!

Dec. 5-6, 2009: The first big brrr of the season! Winds shifted out of the NE and blew a steady 15-20 kts with regular gusts in the 38-40 kts range. And although the sun was out, the temperature didn't reach 40; the windchill was somewhere in the 20s. We hadn't tested our furnace this year and don't you know that the furnace didn't work! While I was at work on Saturday, Jim diagnosed and repaired the furnace so we at least had heat in the main salon (but not in the head or stateroom [bathroom or bedroom]). He retied our lines so we wouldn't be pushed into the piling on the dock in front of us. And he also purchased some pliable weather stripping and stuffed it into every sizeable gap he could find! When I got home from work, we sealed up the gap in our main door, as well as shoving a bath towel in the smaller gap, and stuffed a rag into the exhaust fan vent over the stove. We managed to get the temperature in the main salon up to a balmy 67 degrees between the furnace and our portable electric heater. The wind howled all Sat. night. Wind waves splashed against our hull, sailboat lines slapped the masts, the dock creaked and the lines groaned. Needless to say, we did not sleep well. Sunday wasn't much better -- another very cold and windy day. I had hoped to be able to get the Christmas lights up but that didn't happen! At this point I would GLADLY trade places with anyone who thinks living on a boat sounds romantic!

Dec. 2, 2009: December...out with the rain and in with the sun -- yeah!! However, along with the clear, sunny days comes clear, cold nights. When we got up this morning it was 37 degrees outside and 57 degrees inside! Tonight was my quilt group night, so I left the boat early so I'd have time to stop at the grocery store beforehand. Of course the topic of conversation was the cold weather, and one of the cashiers checked the thermometer -- it was 37 degrees at 7 pm. Then I mozied to the library for some quilting...we broke up earlier than normal; people wanted to be in their warm homes. Back at the marina's parking lot, I loaded myself up with 2 full grocery bags, my pocket book and my quilting bag and headed down the driveway. I got to the top of the ramp and stopped dead in my tracks. Tonight was a VERY low tide (a minus 3' tide) and the ramp was extremely steep. I cautiously tested the ramp and found it slick with ice. Oh, oh, this was not good! I freed up one hand and held onto the railing and then slid my left leg down the ramp until it hit the first cleat. Then I moved my right leg to join the left. Second cleat, same deal. It was then I remembered that the ramp was missing a cleat in the middle and I was stretching my legs as it was. This was not going to work, and I wasn't sure I could get back UP the ramp! :-) I could put the groceries back in the car for the night, but I still had to get down the ramp to get to Manana! So I sat down on the ramp, held onto the railing, and inched myself down to the bottom on my butt, dragging the grocery bags behind me!! At times I "inched" a little faster than I wanted to (ouch! those damn cleats hurt!), but I made it! I picked myself up, dusted off my now quite wet rear end and carefully walked the dock to Manana. One of the grocery bags was ripped -- probably from being dragged along nonskid. Thank goodness it didn't split open! My leg muscles were telling me they weren't overly happy with that little escapade, but I made it in one piece! To those of you who think living on a boat sounds romantic -- ah.... no, this was definitely more comedic than romantic!! Gotta love living on a boat in the winter!

Nov. 28, 2009: Jim and Stan were able to get the east and north sides of the house wrapped with Tyvek and the windows installed. They had hoped to get the back door installed but the rains started, and with no gutters in place, the rain rolled off the roof onto where the ladder was located. Yuk! No one wants cold rain running down their back! I tried to get a few more pictures, but the land is too saturated right now. The weather forecast is for a few dry days; with luck, the house will be sealed tight very soon! The house roof is 99% complete (including our 4' x 4' skylight). Unfortunately, we are 2 or 3 panels short of being able to finish the roof -- those have been ordered and should be here at the end of the week. Jim will call the gutter contractor as soon as the remaining panels have been installed.

Nov. 26, 2009: Happy Thanksgiving! We broke from tradition and had roast leg of lamb instead of turkey. Although the food was delicious, it didn't feel like Thanksgiving to me as there were no mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce or squash. However, we did have both pumpkin and mince meat pie, plenty of good appetizers and a couple bottles of Witch Creek wine...their Tempranillo was absolutely superb! Juliana arrived last night so we spent the afternoon exchanging stories, and I had good chats with my sister and daughter. All in all, a good day with only a few drops of rain and virtually no wind!

The House - Then and Now

The Office - Then and Now

Nov. 22, 2009: Picture time!

Nov. 19, 2009: Yes, we are still alive! I turned my computer off when we went to America and the thing died. That'll teach me to leave it alone! The weather has continued to be the main challenge in getting the exterior of the house done. Status of the house as of today: the office's red tin roof is 100% complete and all doors and windows, with the exception of the main door, are in. The red tin roof for the house is about 1/3 completed; the sliding glass door on the south side of the house was installed and that has helped to keep the place dry and warm(ish). All other doors and windows are on site, as is the remainder of the tin roofing material. We decided to veer from the plans and ordered a 4' x 4' skylight for the great room. It, too, is ready to put in. All we need is for Mother Nature to give us a break! John came out and dug a trench so the electrical cable and propane lines could be laid. The electrical inspector decided not to show up (or call to cancel) so we had to leave the trench open for a week. And Mother Nature decided that would be a good time to begin the storms! Talk about mud!! We passed the inspection and now have electricity in the house, allowing Jim to work inside. A good majority of the interior walls have been framed, giving us a good idea of the living space. I think it's going to be just fine. So, while Jim is busy figuring out how to wire or plumb the house, I've been hitting the internet looking for decorating ideas! In the meantime, Jim has come down with the flu. Not that he likes being sick, but I suppose if he's going to be sick, it might as well be when it's stormy and no exterior work can be done.

The weather here has been pretty darn miserable; very windy with periods of heavy rain. Last night we recorded a gust of 40 kts. Tonight is the 4th storm this week but so far the winds have been rather mild with a gust of only 30.4 kts -- but the night is still young! One night last week Jim was making soup and the boat was rocking so badly that he thought he might have to put the fiddles on the stove to keep the pot in place. On Sun. night the wind came at us from the SW, one of the worst directions for the marina, as there is no shelter. At 0300 we lay awake rockin' and rollin', remembering the times at anchor in Mexico when sleep eluded us. That thought should have left us with warm fuzzies, but, instead, we kept thinking that we needed our sleep because we both had jobs to go to the next day. Ah! The difference between cruising and reality!

I'll post pictures as soon as I can. In the meantime, you can check out the progress at www.swiftmeadow.com.

Oct. 16, 2009: Guess I owe this blog a couple of pictures (they're still in the camera). No activity today due to rain squalls and high wind. Modifying Peter's roof went relatively smooth and only took 3 days and the new red metal matches the existing very well. P&B were both very relieved when their roof was once again buttoned up tight! The office roof is 90% dry -- it can't be finished until the house roof is done. The red metal roof panels for the office are on order, as are the exterior doors and windows. Jim and Stan worked feverishly to get the rafters for the house up before the rains came, but they ran out of nails and then Mother Nature decided to send this storm in. They came close, with about 80% of the rafters in place. Many of the interior walls are up, allowing us to see the actual room sizes. It will be cozy, but fine. We are going to America tomorrow to pick up a used Jenn-Aire gas cook top and a virtually brand new electric wall oven. Friends bought them thinking they would remodel their kitchen -- instead, they decided to buy a new house (that's one way to get out of remodeling)!

Oct. 5, 2009: A busy roof day...the crane arrived around 0930 and lifted the 40', 400 lb., ridge beam into place on our house. Then Jim had the crane driver lift a load of plywood sheathing up on top of the walls. This will make things significantly easier for the guys when they start the roof -- probably the best $200 spent so far! The plywood was removed from Peter's house and the work to install the new trusses began. No real surprises...yet! Buttoning up Peter's roof will take priority; the weather forecast is for good weather through the week.

Exterior Walls are Up

Oct. 4, 2009: Jim and I spent our day off working on the house...gotta take advantage of the dry, sunny weather while we have it! What's the saying, "make hay while the sun shines"? Jim built the living room wall in its new location, giving us an additional 2 feet. He also moved the front door over to make better use of the space. That doesn't sound like much, but when the total house is less than 1000 sq. feet, 24" is a lot! The weather forecast is for dry weather for the next 6 days, so Jim removed part of the metal roofing from Peter's house, only to find the original shingled roof underneath! So he removed that, too, and at the end of the day, only the bare plywood was showing. We also put up a couple interior walls -- with each wall, we're able to start envisioning the room; colors, furniture placement, etc. I think Jim's on board with my butter yellow kitchen and I think I'm on board with his polished concrete counter tops. Twenty eight years of living together has taught us the give and take of a relationship. The first picture is looking north at the sliding glass door in the dining room; the big hole in the foundation is for the fireplace. The office (set back) is to the left. The other set of dining room windows, the back door and kitchen windows (all facing east) are visible. The second picture is looking south at the library (on the left) and bedroom (on right). The other side of the office is barely seen on the right.

Oct. 1, 2009: Remember I mentioned that it seemed like the living room space was smaller than I expected? Well, Jim began laying out the interior walls and came to the same conclusion! He and Stan spent quite a while in "What the heck?" mode yesterday. They eventually figured out the reason; but as it sits now, the living room is 1' shorter than it should be and the bedroom is 1' larger. So...Jim spent today moving walls around on paper, and came up with a floor plan that should work just fine. The central core layout is broken up from the way it was originally designed, but the new design might allow Jim to have the stove top and separate oven that he would really like, as well as allowing for a very small linen closet. Let's just hope that there are no building codes that will negate this new floor plan!

Sept. 22-28, 2009: My week as a bachelorette as Jim was on his annual pilgrimage to Mexico fishing with the guys. Because of the flights departure and arrival times, he was forced to spend a couple of nights in a hotel at SeaTac. However, he returned with color in his face, 20 lbs of tuna and dorado in the cooler and lots of stories. Ah, another fun-filled fishing trip! He stopped at Trader Joe's and Freddie's on his way back to Orcas, so our cabinets are full, too! As for me, it's always interesting having the boat to myself. I had thought I'd do a lot of quilting, but I didn't bring my machine out of hiding until the weekend. The weather here was absolutely gorgeous so after work, I'd grab a glass of wine and some crackers and head on up to the flybridge and watch the world go by. Normally I feed the cats when I get home, but I knew DC would jump ship if he had a full belly...so I made them wait! They weren't happy campers, but they didn't get off the boat which allowed me to relax! Naturally no work was done on the house and Peter wasn't particularly thrilled that Jim had taken a prime weather week off to go fishing, but there's no way to predict the weather a year in advance, and this is an important outting for Jim. 'Nuff said!

Sept. 21, 2009: Boo hiss...the camera at the swiftmeadow website has gone belly up so I can no longer watch the construction progress. Surprisingly, I've only been to the site twice since Jim & Stan began hammering away. I went yesterday to see how the place looks now that all 4 exterior house walls are up and I was very dismayed with the amount of space in the living room...or perhaps I should say the LACK of space! I've been looking at the drawings for months but couldn't envision the size of the space until I saw it with my own two eyes. Furniture placement will be very challenging, and I'm not sure we'll be able to have a sofa. Jim says I'll have a better feel of the space once the interior walls are in place.

Sept. 16, 2009: As further proof that we are not in Kansas anymore...Jim attended a septic system inspection class. He came home with a certificate, which makes him the King of Poop! The class isn't mandatory, but a yearly septic system inspection is. So now he is trained and instead of paying someone $350 to inspect our poop, Jim can do it and all we'll have to pay is a $25 filing fee. As an aside, San Juan County is the only county in the state that allows certified homeowners to do their own inspection.

And speaking of not being in Kansas anymore, last week we had a company come out to service the property's well. Ground water has been getting into the well, making it so P&B had to filter the water for drinking and Babs would take a bath in silty water. They have lived this way for years. Well, this old city girl said "No way, no how...I want to turn the tap and drink the water and I don't want to bath in brown water." (yeah, I know...I'm a demanding b*tch). So the well company came out, dug the well out deeper, put in a new well casing, filled outside the casing with drain rock and installed a concrete cap over the well. Then as good measure, they blasted the well with chlorine to kill off anything they may have stirred up. A rep came out a couple days ago to inspect the water...the water is clear, not brown, and the flow is better. The chlorine will gradually dissipate and everyone will be happier with the improved water (I hope)! And remember, you can watch the construction at www.swiftmeadow.com!

Sept. 15, 2009: Ex neighbors, Giff & Mary from our floating home days, arrived yesterday and stayed at the OIYC dock as our guest. On Mon. pm we gave them a tour of the house (2 exterior walls ready to go up tomorrow) before heading down to the Tav for dinner. They hadn't been to Eastsound in years and Giff was amazed at the development. On Tuesday, we headed to their boat after work. Jim and Giff worked on the computer system while Mary and I walked to the West Sound Cafe and made dinner reservations. We had heard that the West Sound Cafe is very good but very expensive, so imagine our surprise when we realized that this restaurant was no more expensive than the Tav! The food was delicious...a gem right in our back yard! It was a gorgeous evening, made even nicer because we shared the evening with friends.

An Apple a Day...

Sept. 11-12, 2009: We spent almost the entire weekend at the house. On Saturday, Stan began marking the 2 x 4's for the exterior walls and Jim made a set of stairs for easier access onto the decking. And then on Sunday, in an effort to keep the wood chips from peeling off from the moisture in the air, I rolled 5 gal. of paint onto the OSB subflooring. The paint ran out just as my stamina and body did and only covered about half the project. Once the paint was dry, we started marking the floor layout so we'd have a better idea of the placement of windows vs. furniture and cabinets. We enlisted the advice of P&B and Frank & Jane, all seasoned remodelers! As construction of the exterior walls will begin next week, it was important that we decide the size and placement of the kitchen window(s) in particular. Jim's goal is to maximize the view of Mt. Constitution and minimize the view of the neighbor's yard while sitting at the peninsula having his morning coffee. The house really should have been set a couple more feet to the south, but we'll deal with it! At the end of the day, we had a much better mental picture of the kitchen cabinet/appliance layout, along with the window placement.

Sept. 10, 2009: One of my wall hangings that had been on display at the physical therapy center sold today. I hadn't planned on selling this particular wall hanging, as I made it to match one of our quilts. So I suggested that I could make the purchaser a custom wall hanging, with colors to match her home. She thought about it briefly and then decided that she liked my colors. She told me that looking at my wall hanging brought her great joy as she struggled to do her physical therapy and if we changed the colors, she might not get the same joy from looking at it! Well, I can't argue with that logic as colors can certainly make or break a quilt. I still have more fabric left over and can make myself another one if I really want to. And for now, I will enjoy the extra jingle of cash in my wallet!

Sept. 7, 2009: Happy Labor Day! Betsy was off all weekend attending a sailboat race in Bellingham so I held down the fort. Mother Nature threw some very nasty winds and rain at us which kept the majority of people home, or at least away from the marina. Talk about B-O-R-I-N-G! And in Bellingham, the race was canceled due to too much wind! Jim was asked if he'd like to earn a few extra $$ next weekend by bartending at a wedding. He's a social guy and I think he'll have fun -- plus the money will definitely come in handy. From what we were told, there is no shortage of jobs of this type on island (remember, this is the playground for the rich [and some famous]) so he will have his foot in the door and this could lead to a side career for him. In building the house, he is finding muscles that haven't been used in years so he let his body rest over the weekend, but today, he was back on the job removing the shingles from Peter's house. For me, it was day #8 of work...groan!

The Subflooring is Done

Sept. 4, 2009: Jim and Stan have been pounding nails for just over a week and have made remarkable progress (in my naive opinion). At the end of the day, they had the majority of the subflooring in place. I haven't been to the site since last weekend, but I'm watching the construction on the website Jim set up: www.swiftmeadow.com. The foundation looks so small, but everyone assures me that it'll look bigger once the walls are up. The picture is taken looking north. The big opening in the pony wall is for the fire place.

Aug. 26, 2009: All but 2 of the foundation forms were removed today -- the remaining 2 are the hardest to get at under Peter's house. And in the afternoon, the first shipment of lumber arrived. Jim showed up at the marina late in the afternoon, exhausted from a busy day of Starfish Marine, errands, etc. and was greeted with the instructions that he really needs to take inventory of the wood that was delivered. This was NOT what he wanted to hear today...so manana! We cooked up some spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and called it an early night -- a new movie from Netflix was in today's mail.

Aug. 23, 2009: Peter, Babs, Jim & I attended a recital by Mark O'Connor at the Orcas Center. Mark is a famous violinist/fiddler; I first learned of him when I was into country music (and had a TV) and would watch the Country Music Award show. It seemed like Mark won an award every year. Anyway, the Orcas Center is hosting the Orcas Island Chamber Music Festival over the next week or two and Mark was kicking the festival off. The concert was well attended, with both a pre- and post-concert reception. I was expecting a bit more country fiddlin', but Mark's performance was more in line with chamber music. And, although the music wasn't what I was expecting, it was still pretty spectacular. I've never seen fingers fly so fast!

The Foundation is Poured

Aug. 20, 2009: The foundation prep was finished this morning. It was supposed to have been inspected yesterday, but the inspector called to say that he was "stuck" on Crane Island. Don't know whether that meant he was stuck at a job site or stuck because his boat broke down! However, rather than hold up today's concrete pour, he suggested that pictures be taken and he will review and sign off when he shows up for the next inspection. Jim & I assumed that meant he was comfortable with Rick's abilities as a foundation contractor. So pictures were taken as directed and at 1300, two trucks showed up and 21.5 cubic yards of concrete were poured. Were we supposed to scratch our initials and date in it? If so, oops! We didn't!

Jim received a quote from the second supplier; this one is about $3000 less than the other, so Jim spent a good chunk of the evening trying to compare apples to apples. If all goes well, he hopes to start pounding nails mid next week, which means that he needs to place the first of many orders soon.

Aug. 10, 2009: Happy birthday to Jim! The foundation work has begun and Jim spent his birthday digging a trench for the electrical conduit while dodging rain drops. Jim says it's official: he's sore and he's become a crotchedy old man! We invited P&B to the boat for dinner. I scooted out of work a little early so I could prepare dinner, and P&B brought along the vanilla ice cream. Poor Jim had to bake his own birthday berry cobbler! Life is tough!

Looking East and South

Aug. 7, 2009: I guess now my pictures will be of the construction progress, so what better place to start than at the beginning?! As you can see, we live in the country. There are currently 2 cows on the lot to our east, which I think is terrific. Hopefully the neighbors will continue to have cows once we finally move in...I can't think of anything better than sipping my coffee listening to the cows moo. Our kitchen window will look out in that direction. Here at the marina, we sip our coffee and listen to the roosters! And the plan is to have a 6' sliding glass door that will lead from the dining room out onto a deck that will face south. There are several very old apple trees on the property (all of which still produce apples) so it will be a peaceful view. We will most likely plant more trees to block the view of the road.

Aug. 6, 2009: Shortly after Jim's arrival to Peter's house, he received a phone call from Rick saying that the schedule was off and Rick would not be able to start today. So a minor let down -- supposedly he will start manana.

Aug. 2, 2009: Douglas came south for the weekend so we spent Sat. visiting with him. He let us take his Smart Car into town -- what a hoot! I was amazed at just how much room that little car had and Jim enjoyed the chance to drive it. It's a perfect "island car". On Sunday, Douglas took the family out to the Deer Harbor Inn for dinner. This was a wonderful treat as it's a pricey restaurant, but we've never had a bad meal. Thank you, Douglas!

July 26, 2009: Two days off in a row -- much appreciated and needed! I got a second coat of paint on all the doors and windows, plus the port cap rail. Manana looked much better once the blue masking tape was removed. Then as the paint was drying, I dug out my sewing machine and put together a couple of navigation flag pillows -- Zulu. The Zulu flag is made up of 4 different-colored triangles; fabric cut into triangles tends to stretch because of the bias so it took a bit of sewing and unsewing. Once completed, I vowed that those will be the only two Zulu pillows I make!

Earlier in the week, Jim had been in contact with a guy ("JG") who was interested in buying our dinghy. JG called Sat. afternoon saying he'd be on an evening ferry to buy it. As we waited for him, we heard rumblings of thunder in the distance. By the time JG arrived, the storm was nearly overhead. We showed JG the dinghy in between rain drops, as the thunder clapped and the lightning lit up the sky. The storm lasted quite a while, reminiscent of New England thunder storms and I'll admit that some of the lightning bolts were pretty impressive, although I'm definitely not a lightning fan! The islands desperately needed the rain, but it would have been nice if it could have held off 20 minutes!

And finally on the home front news, we decided we will wait for Rick to do our foundation. Supposedly he'll begin work on Aug. 6. In the meantime, Jim hired a laborer to dig the small foundation trench that the building reviewer required, along with some other work that Peter's house needed.

July 20, 2009: A good news/bad news day: The good news is our architect called to say that the County has finally approved our plans. All we have to do is send them a big, fat check and they'll issue us the permit. The bad news is that the foundation forms guy just started a job over in Deer Harbor and won't be available for a couple of weeks. So now we have to decide whether we want to wait or find someone else.

Peter, Babs and Jim flew to Comox on Vancouver Island to check out a boat that had peeked Peter's interest. Unfortunately it turned out that the broker had misrepresented the boat's condition and the 3 returned very disappointed, although Jim said it was a beautiful day for a plane ride.

July 11, 2009: Projects Day: My one day off this week was spent masking off port and starboard windows, sanding the port cap rail and forward windows and applying a sand toned color paint to the port windows, the port cap rail and the port forward window. I also put the final coat of varnish on the piece that will eventually hide the hydronic heating hoses. In the past, I've followed the painting rules to a T and the paint has failed, so this time, I told Jim I was going to slap a coat of paint on and call it good. It will hopefully last as long as the other did with only a small percentage of the effort out laid. Jim's a perfectionist, so this drives him crazy, but he's learned if he doesn't keep his mouth shut, he will win the task! It was also project day for Jim. He replaced the holding tank sensor and installed a new, quieter, fan over the settee. Our architect dropped off a copy of the revised drawings, based on the county reviewer's comments. We'll see if this satisfies him. It was a HOT day but there was a nice breeze. In the evening, of course, the breeze died off. Jim cooked a delicious dinner of chicken mole and rice, which heated the cabin even more, ultimately heating the place up to 82 degrees. Yup! I think summer is here!

July 9, 2009: The word from the County is our building permit is on hold pending additional information from our architect. It's a good thing that Jack just returned from cruising up north a couple days ago! Jim met with him today and I guess the requested information is no big deal; Jack says it's "chicken shit" stuff that the County is making up. As of today, our simple plans for a 1000 sq. foot addition have been in for approval for just over 2 months -- definitely a sorry state of affairs for the San Juan County Building Dept.

July 6, 2009: I got my first commission for a customized pillow today - yippee! I have 3 pairs of placemats and 3 nautical flag pillows currently on sale at the office. I was asked if I can make a different flag pillow for someone by Sunday. Unfortunately he asked if I could make it out of navy fabric, which I don't have and wouldn't be able to get in time unless I went to America. But he settled for black instead, although, technically that no longer is the proper color for the letter M. However, he thinks it will still be "fun" and if it comes out okay and looks good on his boat (which is a large sailboat with a varnished hull [translate that to $$]), then he may order the letter Z. I wasted no time in ordering more fabric from my favorite internet quilt shop (Equilter.com). Someone else expressed an interest to Betsy in personalized pillows last week but I've not been able to make contact with her yet. Hmmm, maybe I'm onto something???

July 4, 2009: I used to be a lot more patriotic than I am these days...I can pinpoint my loss of patriotism to the Bush administration. And although Bush is gone, I seem to have lost my pride in being an American. I know, I know; there are so many reasons I should be thankful that I live in this great country -- and it IS a great country. But it has so many problems right now that I find it difficult to wave the flag as I shout "Rah, rah!"

So, today being a holiday, I had the day off, lest they have to pay me double time. There was a parade in Eastsound but we opted to stay away from the crowds. Besides, I've seen enough funky parades to last me a while. Instead, I prepped the port cap rail and Jim and I worked together to get a second coat of primer on it. After conferring with Jim, we decided to hold off painting the starboard side for now; we will turn the boat around in the slip once we're done painting the port side. At 1400 we attended the yacht club's July 4th BBQ with Peter & Babs. It was hotter than Haiti outside and although we arrived 10 min. early, there were only 2 seats in the shade, which we gave to P&B. Jim & I sat in the sun along with several friends...no chance that the food would get cold, and, in fact, we had to eat the watermelon quickly -- warm watermelon is gross!

June 27, 2009: Jim and folks went to San Juan Island for "field day" with the ham radio group; I stayed behind with great intentions of doing boat maintenance...and I succeeded! But, oh! my aching back! I began the morning with some varnishing. When that was done, I moved on to a final scrape and sand of the port and starboard cap rails, and a final scrape of the forward windows. After a brief coffee break, I was back on the job, painting the cap rails. Having primer on the rails looks better than what was there. In mid-afternoon, I changed out of my dusty clothes, loaded up a dock cart with dirty laundry and headed to P & B's. Shadow, the cat, was very happy to have human company! I washed 3 loads of laundry and took a shower -- unfortunately, the white paint in my hair didn't come out! I returned to Manana 3 hours later, totally exhausted! I popped a Tylenol PM, had a glass of wine and relaxed for the first time today. I'm pleased with my accomplishments, but I have another long list of great intentions for tomorrow!

June 26, 2009: Attended the boat christening for Chris & Lynn's new-to-them sailboat, which was held in Deer Harbor after work. Chris read the prayer to Neptune and as he did, everyone in attendance offered a bit of champagne to Neptune. After the reading, Lynn smashed the christening bottle against the bow, christening the boat Always A Treat. Afterwards, there were LOTS of delicious treats waiting for us at the head of the dock. Lynn outdid herself with the appetizers and a couple hours later, everyone waddled up the dock to their cars! Congratulations and may Always A Treat give you nothing but fond sailing memories!

June 23, 2009: How LOW can you go? We had the lowest tide of the season... a minus 3.8'! Sure made the dock ramps fun to get up and down; great for the leg muscles but you didn't want to have a dock cart full of goodies that needed to go on your boat! A couple of the floats were actually sitting on the mud. Low tide here is actually interesting as the water is very clear and you get to see all the sea stars (starfish) and crabs walking along the bottom. I've also seen a small fish that's about 2" long; it's flat and burrows under the mud. Might it be a baby flounder? Received an email from Stephanie saying that were learning about the Northwest's negative tides the hard way -- perhaps we should have given them a lesson in low tides instead! :-)

June 19-21, 2009: Friends Stephanie and Lance arrived Friday afternoon and we spent a jam-packed weekend with them. We began the weekend with dinner on their boat - they were reciprocating for a dinner on board Manana over a year ago in Tenacatita! On Saturday, we headed to Eastsound, which was mobbed. Jim found a rare parking spot and we walked to the farmers market -- extremely high prices for the local vegetables. I don't care if it is organically or locally grown -- I wasn't about to spend what the vendors were asking. However, one booth caught our attention and we each paid $1.00 and cast our individual votes for the Mayor of Eastsound. Running for this position were Dakota, Darwin and Mikey, all dogs; Eggitha, a hen [she will produce for you]; and April, a cow [a moooover and shaker]. Actually, all proceeds for this election benefit The Children's House, so we felt it was the best $1.00 spent. Then we overheard someone say "parade" so we hung around. Believe me, it was the funkiest solstice parade any of us had ever seen, although Stephanie said its funkiness was really close to a parade they saw in LaCruz, Mexico! Orcas is full of what I call "free spririts" and they were ALL in the parade! So happy summertime, everyone! After lunch, we did a little grocery shopping and then went to the fabric store -- Stephanie had hit about 30 quilt shops on her drive from Morro Bay, CA to Anacortes, WA -- I couldn't have her bypass the island's little fabric store! Jim had hoped to take them to the top of Mt. Constitution, but the day turned cloudy and we ran out of time. We returned to the boat in time to put appetizers together for the season's last community potluck. Jim had volunteered to be a grill flipper'er, and the chicken was cooked perfectly! Peter & Babs invited everyone up for Sun. morning coffee and shared their favorite northern anchoring spots with Stephanie & Lance. It was a wonderful weekend filled with lots of laughter; Jim & I look forward to seeing them this fall.

June 18, 2009: Happy 26th Anniversary to us! We had a lovely dinner at the Deer Harbor Inn.

June 17, 2009: We attended a liveaboard potluck that was held on El Capitan, a +60' tug boat (that is for sale if anyone's interested). Lots of good food and afterwards, Bill gave us a tour of the boat. I'd never been on a tug before and was amazed at just how little living space there is. Bill took us down into the engine room and it quickly became very apparent that that was testosterone territory! Jim contained his drool well -- I'm sure he'd LOVE to have or play with a large tug.

June 15, 2009: Permit or not, we broke ground today! Yippee! Jim is acting as general contractor on the project so he was on hand as John, the foundation guy, and John, the tree cutting guy, were on site. John-TC (tree cutting) cut away half of the tree that was leaning over the driveway, as well as several that had blown over during the winter storms. The wood was not a good burning wood, so John chipped everything up. John-F (foundation) got many, but not all, foundation trenches dug. Babs' forsythia tree was transplanted and hundreds of daffodil and narcissus bulbs were unearthed. Rick, the foundation forms guy, will hopefully stop by soon to make sure that the depth of the trenches is correct and San Juan Propane will be out later in the week to do their thing (whatever that is). We're hoping to receive our permit in early July, but that will be haying season so we had to grab John when we could -- just hope no one falls in any of the trenches! P&B joined us for dinner -- BBQ'd hamburgers with blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and red onion fixings, and potato and macaroni salad on the side. Babs is more of a gourmet cook and this isn't the type of meal she would normally fix, but there were no leftovers!

June 11, 2009: I took the day off, went to America, met up with a fellow cruiser/quilter who we met in Ensenada, shopped for fabric and HAD A BLAST! I packed a backpack with patterns I'd like to make, fabric I'd like to match, etc. and had a great time checking out the 2 quilt shops in Anacortes. Stephanie was a huge help as I tried to find the right material for a geisha girl panel I plan to make for myself (someday). We must have "interviewed" at least a dozen different bolts. Once we were through shopping for fabric, we went to The Market, which is an upscale grocery store. I bought an eclectic assortment of foods that either aren't available on island or were on sale. Stephanie, too, had a strange combination, which brought on a case of the giggles as we tried to imagine what people must be thinking of us and our purchases! We returned to Starplath for a glass of wine and a little down time before she and Lance took me back to the ferry. Ah, a little fabric fondling did wonders for my soul!

June 8, 2009: Life continues in a forward direction: the Pacific Northwest saw temperatures above 80 degrees for a week, Manana acted as host boat for the Friday night race committee, I finished both the Dragon King quilt and wall hanging, and scraped the flaking paint off the cap rail (the port side is now ready to paint). Jim has a couple new potential customers and has been keeping on top of the house building. The County told him they are shooting for a 6-8 week permit approval date (because we're an addition and not a stand-alone house), despite the layoffs. He'll call them at the end of the week to see if he gets the same response, and if he does, ground breaking will begin next Monday. We can't pour concrete, but we can do the foundation excavation in preparation for receiving our permit, which hopefully will be around the first week of July.

The house design has been an interesting process. Thankfully Jim and I are 95% in tune with one another and our tastes are very similar, so the room layout was actually pretty easy. The layout of the kitchen, however, is proving to be a bit of a challenge as Jim wants one thing and I'd like another. So we've started buying kitchen remodel magazines and I'm scouring My Space and other decorating sites looking for ideas. Today my boss threw us for a loop when she mentioned that she had a wine cellar built into the crawl space of her house. That got us thinking, which got Jim running numbers, and now the question is: is it worth spending about $500 for a small concrete space under the house? Anyone care to donate to Jim & Jan's wine cellar (either for building or stocking)???

May 26, 2009: Yippee skippee! My Dragon King quilt was returned, quilted beautifully! Now I have to clear off the table so I can sew the binding onto it. I'll definitely recommend Del and use him on future quilts.

Massacre Bay, West Sound

May 23-25, 2009: Jim had the engine running and was unplugging the shore power as I made my way down the dock towards the boat, after working 10 - 3. We realized that it was 6 days short of 6 months since the last time we had moved the boat! We had no particular destination in mind, other than "out of the slip", but Jim didn't want to venture to the more popular anchorages on the holiday weekend. So we ended up dropping the hook off Indian Point in Massacre Bay, which is in West Sound, about 2 miles from the marina (on Orcas Island, in San Juan County, Washington State, United States of America, third rock from the sun...), and we could have been 50 miles away. There was one other boat at anchor and it was peaceful and beautiful! DC and Jerry could be out on deck without me saying, "Stay on the boat!" a thousand times and Manana danced on her anchor, enjoying her freedom as well. And being at anchor gave Jim and I the excuse to do whatever projects we wanted, without being distracted by the knowledge that the car was just up the hill. Neither of us slept well the first night -- we're out of practice when it comes to the sound of the water slapping against the hull. It was windy and chilly on Monday so we upped anchor and headed home, pulling into our slip 15 min. later. All in all, it was very relaxing and we really need to do this again. The nice thing about living in the San Juans is that one doesn't have to venture far for a quiet anchorage.

May 17, 2009: It's been a busy 2 weeks. Our plans were submitted to the building department for permitting. Now we wait... Jim has started interviewing foundation/concrete folks and we gave a set of the plans to Frontier Lumber in Anacortes, hoping for a reasonable quote. We measured off the location of the office and house in relation to Peter's house -- it looks so tiny (24 x 40)! I guess we're fortunate that we don't have a lot of "stuff" because there won't be room for it! Unfortunately the plans were off and the house won't sit exactly where we had hoped it would (for view purposes). So Jim won't get the view of Mt. Constitution from the bed and the kitchen window will look at the mess in the neighbor's yard. Oh well! Guess that's how curtains got invented!

Knock, knock!

Eric, Angelyn & Liza arrived on the 7th for 4 days. It was so fun getting to know our 2 year old niece! Babs' birthday wish was for a picnic on Mt. Constitution; thankfully Mother Nature approved the request and we had a lovely day with lots of good food. The view from the top is spectacular, but naturally, I forgot to pack the camera! On the way home, we stopped off at Poppies so I could pick up some batting and backing material for a wall hanging I'm making. Jim delivered my Dragon King quilt to Del. The weather is warming up so it most likely won't go on the bed until next winter, but I'm anxious to see how he quilts it. This is my first time using him, although he comes highly recommended. The weather is becoming nicer and warmer, which means that I will probably put my sewing machine away for a few months once I finish the wall hanging. Who wants to have a lap full of material when it is +65 degrees? :o)

Lilacs at the Marina

I bought a few flowers for the pretty seafoam ceramic planter that we had at the floating home. I put it out on the dock...hopefully the lines won't push it overboard and the otters will leave it alone! The gal at the nursery said she normally recommends that folks put fish fertilizer on their plants, but in our case...don't!! And finally, spring is definitely here! The purple lilacs, white narcissus, orange California poppies, red tulips and yellow scotchbroom are in bloom. The trees are all blossomed out and people are sneezing like crazy....ah! allergy season is upon us! But the air smells sweet with fresh-mowed grass!

May 2, 2009: I worked this morning, which allowed Betsy to participate in the Opening Day race. The theme was something like "Jimmy Buffett comes to Orcas", but apparently no one got word to Jimmy because he didn't show up! However, that didn't seem to matter. There were 9 boats in the parade, all decorated and filled with parrot heads having fun. Jim and I had to settle for watching from the outer dock. :-( It was at this time that Mother Nature decided to rain on the parade; she sure has a great sense of timing! After the parade, which lasted all of 8 minutes, we headed to the yacht club. We grabbed a picnic table inside the shelter and chatted with friends while we waited for the dinner bell to ring. The meal was comprised of pulled pork sandwiches, sausages, baked beans, cole slaw and fruit salad. Great food and good company! We stayed until the wind started picking up and the temperature started going down.

Once back on the boat, I decided it was time to deal with the 8 yards of flannel fabric that has been sitting in my sewing locker since January! I hate working with lots of material and I confess, I have been procrastinating. However, with Jim's assistance, I was able to cut and stitch the fabric, but not before LOTS of choice words had been spoken! At one point Jim asked me to confirm that I enjoy quilting! I won't swear that the back is square, nor did I measure it to make sure I'd gotten it right -- I was just happy to call it done! Now all I have to do is get it to Del, who lives on Lopez Island, for quilting.

May 1, 2009: Peter came by this morning and the guys were successful in putting the PVC piping together. Unfortunately, though, one of the bronze fittings was not the correct size so Jim couldn't complete the project. He was thinking that he might be able to find the correct size fitting at the store tomorrow, but then he received an email asking if he was interested in doing some work on a friend's boat. So that takes priority! We'll watch the Opening Day parade from the sidelines and hope for better luck next year!

One of the disadvantages of living and working at the marina is that I feel like I'm responsible for the docks, even after hours. Around 1930 I realized that the water to the docks was still on. I mozied my way to the water turn off valve, stopping on the way to lock the ice machine. I ran into the female half of a couple who have a boat on B dock and we chatted for a few minutes. While we were chatting, the transient boat that we were expecting arrived, so I walked down to the guest dock to greet it, stopping to lock up the fuel dock! The folks on the transient boat gave me cash for tonight's moorage, which I put into the drop box outside the office. I returned to our boat 25 min. later! Mind you, all of this was off the clock -- I'm such a dedicated employee!

Home Improvement

April 30, 2009: Jim got serious about working on Manana today. He decided to tackle multiple projects, which meant tools were everywhere in the main saloon. He also emptied the hanging locker in the aft cabin (our closet). The clothes were hung on the center grab rail and the various bags, boxes, dirty laundry, off-season shoes, sheets, etc. were tossed on the bed and/or on the floor. DC was both curious and upset with all the changes, happy to explore, but letting off a yowl as he sniffed everything; Jerry is either too laid back or too stupid to care! Not all the projects were completed, so we went to bed with the boat looking like a cyclone had ripped through it. But that's okay; I know forward progress is being made! :-) Hopefully Peter will be available to help Jim complete one of the projects that Jim and I were struggling with this evening. The goal (well, my goal anyway), is for Jim to have the boat running so we can participate in Saturday's Opening Day parade.

We made the decision that the diesel furnace would be turned off on May 1, but Jim turned it off today. Hell, it must be spring SOMEWHERE! We still have flannel sheets, 2 quilts and a sleeping bag on the bed, so we should be warm enough. Evening temperatures nowadays are in the mid-to-upper 40s so the portable electric heater was left out. Yesterday we made noises that perhaps we could replace the sleeping bag with another quilt; we didn't dare broach the thought of removing the flannel sheets, though!

West Sound

April 27, 2009: Here's a shot of the West Sound Marina and surrounding area, taken yesterday. If you're looking for some peace and quiet, West Sound is the place to be!

This is racing??

April 26, 2009: We spent the day out on the water... and a beautiful day it was! Earlier in the week, we had agreed to be Race Committee for the OIYC's first regatta of the season. As Manana is still out of commission (don't get me started on that), we borrowed Betsy's 24' Trophy and towed the chase boat out to the start line, where we dropped anchor and settled in for a lovely afternoon. The wind came and went, but was never more than 10 kts. (Picture shows the race committee flag and race delayed flag just drooping from lack of wind while sailboats drift past us!) However, they were able to get 4 races in during the afternoon. We returned to the dock shortly after 1700, sporting our first sunburn of the season. We are definitely out of practice when it comes to hanging out on the water in the sun, and we were both wiped out! Thank goodness we had some yummy leftovers in the fridge!

April 25, 2009: Jim brought home the blueprint drawings of our new home yesterday. Jack did a nice job with them; we'll make only two small changes to the plans (door locations) before they are submitted for permitting next week. And then I guess we'll sit and wait; Jack said he's had a set of plans in with Permitting for over 7 weeks now...Today's mail brought us an approved "Certificate of Water Availability" from San Juan County. This means that the County has approved our request to build on Peter's property. I had to work today and the place was hopping. I'm learning more and more but still have a long way to go. Jim & I went downtown after work; I wanted to check out the second-hand clothes store and Jim needed to go to Radio Shack. We had an early dinner at Chimayo's, which reopened earlier in the week after being closed for 3 months due to a fire. We each had crab enchiladas and a sangria. We're on what appears to be the elusive search for sangria that is as good as what we had in Puerto Vallarta last year. So far, nothing has come close.

April 23, 2009: The night the lights went out in Georgia...oh, wait a minute! That should be "the night the lights went out in Washington". The story we got from the hamsters was a car with 4 passengers hit a power pole in Sedro Wooley, knocking power out in 5 counties. Two people were in serious condition, two weren't talked about (probably not a good sign). So San Juan County, in addition to 4 other counties in America, were black for several hours. Excuse me for my negligence, but shouldn't a power pole that serves 5 counties be protected from cars ramming it??? It's nice that it is staying light later nowadays, allowing us to read (we lost the internet connection). If this were December, we would have gone to bed at 1800!

April 18-19, 2009: We met Colleen and Rachel in Port Townsend. It was Colleen's 30th birthday and Port Townsend was sort of the middle spot for the 4 of us. Jim & I reserved a room at the Port Townsend Inn. The original room we had did not have a bath tub. I told the desk clerk my tale of woe about living on a boat and not having a bath tub; she made a quick phone call and returned to say that she could move us into a larger room that had a view AND a bath tub AND could give us a price break on the room to boot! Sold! Meanwhile, Rachel and Colleen were checking into their room in a motel at the other end of town. Once we were all checked in, we got together and walked to the Point Hudson Cafe, where we had a delicious lunch. After that, we strolled along the main street, poking into the numerous shops. Colleen and Rachel have this one store in particular that they call "their store". In it are items from around the world that supposedly the owner brings back from her numerous trips abroad. I'm a bit skeptical on that but nevertheless, there were a lot of neat things in there that made Jim and I wish the house was THAT much closer to being done! We went our separate ways in mid-afternoon, returning to our rooms for a short siesta. We met up again at their motel around 1730 (they had one of the cabins at The Swan Motel -- it was so cozy). I brought along a bottle of wine, some snacks, Colleen's birthday gift and her lap top, which Jim had repaired. When the bottle of wine was polished off, we walked back downtown for Colleen's birthday dinner at a teriyaki restaurant. Again, great food and so much that we left with a doggie bag.

Jim and I got an earlier start than the girls on Sunday morning, so we went for breakfast on our own. From there, we walked to The Swan to say good-bye to Colleen and Rachel before they left. It was so good to spend time with them! Naturally, we're biased....we love Colleen and can't think of a nicer daughter-in-law than Rachel! As we were walking back to the car, Jim mentioned that he really wanted to buy an antique Chinese mirror that we'd seen the day before. It was beautiful, but pricey. In the end, I agreed. So we now have our first piece of new furniture for a house that isn't even off the drawing board! Had a lovely trip home and the boys were happy to see us.

April 12, 2009: Happy Easter! We were at breakfast with Peter & Babs yesterday and couldn't remember where we were last Easter...Tenacatita I think! Anyway, we had a nice breakfast at the New Leaf Cafe in the Outlook Inn. Great food, but not cheap. It was just as well that we decided to celebrate Easter a day early as today's weather was horrible -- heavy rain and gusty winds. Hardly conducive for hunting Easter eggs in your Easter bonnet (with all the frills upon it)! However, the weather WAS conducive to staying on board, snug, warm and dry, working on projects. I finished the top of my card trick lap throw (yippee!). However, I wonder why I hadn't realized that it was going to be very big? I mean, what part of 61 x 79 didn't I understand? Now I'm in the same predicament that I was when I made "Something's Fishy" for Jim...more quilt than floor space! Jim spent quality time working on the website for the local Ham group and then decided to tackle the pile of paper that is building on the table.

April 10, 2009: It must finally be spring...it hasn't snowed in a week! :-)

April 5, 2009: Hubby got home late Friday night. I made sure I was at the ferry early since we were having record low temperatures and he'd headed off to CA wearing his Spring jacket. And Betsy (my boss) came back from vacation yesterday, which is a very good thing! I've worked the past two Saturdays plus all last week on my own, with no coffee or lunch break. The fatter paycheck will be nice, but it wiped me out! Today I spent quality time with my sewing machine and assembled all 20 blocks for my lap throw. 24 pieces per block x 20 blocks is a lot of sewing, but I'm pleased with the way they turned out. Still a long way to go before it's done, but the worst is over!

April 1, 2009: April Fools -- ha ha! Mother Nature played the joke today by sending us snow this morning! The higher hills were white and the docks were slushy. For heaven's sake, this is April -- enough already with the snow! Jim's at a training class in Dana Point, CA this week. California is having a cold wave, but at least it's warmer and sunnier than here!

Sidney, BC Scenes

March 29, 2009: Today was the first international sailing of the season for the Anacortes - Sidney ferry route. For a while it was doubtful whether this route would be continued because of financial difficulties within the Washington ferry system. However, people rallied and made enough noise so that Olympia (WA) heard us. For today's sailing, it was suggested that there be a large turnout to show the politicians how important this route is to those of us in the NW part of the state. Peter, Babs, Jim and I decided we would show our support. The ferry was 30 min. late in arriving Orcas, but there was a huge crowd on board. As we pulled into Sidney, escort boats came out to greet us and we could see a large crowd on the shore flying balloons and waving Canadian flags. The town cryer greeted us, a school band played, a couple of Mounties were on hand for photo ops, etc. Anacortes' mayor gave a speech, as did Sidney's mayor. We had to go through both Customs and Immigration, but as the majority of the crowd was doing a round trip ride, only cursory questionning was done. Jim and I lived in Sidney for 3 months in 2003 and became very fond of the area so we were happy to breath Canadian air again, if only for an hour! Forget the ferry schedule! The ferry waited until everyone who was returning had purchased their tickets and gone through officialdumb. Although we were running late, we made it back to Friday Harbor before the inter-island ferry and were back on Orcas by mid-afternoon. It was a beautiful spring day and a beautiful day for a boat ride.

March 24, 2009: Microwaved instant coffee....blah!! Jim, Peter & Babs went to America for their monthly off-island shopping excursion and returned with lots of goodies. The captain promises that he'll get both propane tanks filled tomorrow.

March 23, 2009: When it's my turn to cook, the dinner menu is usually pretty simple, but tonight I decided to make bangers and mash. I was just getting ready to grill the onions and make the gravy when I noticed the flame under the pot of potatoes go down, and down, and down, and out! So I notified the captain that we were out of propane. True hero that he is, he went outside to swap propane tanks and then I heard him say, "We're REALLY out of propane!" So dinner was abbreviated as I couldn't grill the onions in the microwave! We aren't sure how this happened because for the past 7 years, we've made it a practice to fill the empty tank as soon as we switch tanks. All we can think of is that it got forgotten while we were busy trying to settle in to life here.

To those of you who think living on a boat must be romantic, I offer this as food for thought:

- Carry your groceries about 1/4 mile before bringing them into the house
- Lug your laundry to an available washer/dryer (could be a laundromat or a relative; it depends on the load)
- In an attempt not to waste water, you fill the tea kettle while waiting for hot water
- Gone are the days of making individual servings of jello, etc. because the refrigerator has no shelves to keep things level
- You need to keep track of how long it's been since you filled the propane tanks, lest you run out
- The toaster and the portable electric heater must be plugged into different circuits so you don't trip the breaker

Anacortes Ferry Landing

March 21, 2009: We took the 0915 ferry to America, the first stop being the Anacortes Boat Show. Jim was hoping to pass out some business cards but the show was so small that there was no one to give a card to. We did run across a boat that was on the dock with us in Ensenada in 10/07 so we chatted with the owner(/builder) for a few minutes. From there we had lunch and then, because it was such a beautiful day, we decided to walk along Commercial Ave, which is the main street. We discovered a cabinet shop that had several very nice displays so we stopped in (Creative Cabinets). The sales lady was a no-pressure sort of person, which made me very comfortable. She listened to our plans and then educated us on the various cabinet companies. Then she loaded us down with brochures! Given her actions with us, I'd say we just found the store where we'll buy the kitchen and bath cabinets when the time comes. Our next stop was to a fabric shop as I'd brought my in-the-works lap throw along with the idea that I'd pick up some more material while on the mainland -- mission successful! With Jim's help, I picked out two different purple fabrics and then, just because I could, I bought some batik fabric that was on sale! We picked up our pace after that, as we wanted to be on the 1500 ferry and it was 1430. At 1800 we attended the West Sound potluck. Two members of the Olga Symphony performed along with JD Whittman, who is a fantastic fiddler. Hands clapped and toes tapped during the 20 min. concert -- it was terrific!

March 20, 2009: The calendar may say Spring but it's still winter here! We had a squall come through today that included rain mixed with snow and high winds. The winds, though, were from the WSW, the worst direction for the marina, as there is no wind break. So all the boats were rockin' and rollin'! To make the day even more fun, the first 30' of C dock was replaced. And while this was being done, it made getting back and forth between our boat and the office a lot of fun -- one had to become a tight rope walker (or would that be a tight beam walker?)! And, of course, it was in your best interest NOT to fall in the water! Ah, life in a marina!

March 10, 2009: Old Man Winter just won't let go! A winter storm advisory was in effect yesterday; it was in the low 30's, north winds gusted to 25 kts and we got an inch of snow. Not much, but just enough to make docks, roads and driveways slick. To make matters worse, the central heating at the marina office was not working. This morning, our thermometer read 26 degrees outside (only 58 inside and that's with 2 heaters running!) Wunderground predicts another record-breaking 24 hours. Brrr! Lucky Jim...he's made plans to attend a training class in southern CA at the end of the month. I wouldn't mind a little warmth right now, but I'll settle for having the boat to myself for a couple of days (which means I can leave my sewing out)!

Feb. 27, 2009: We treated P&B plus another couple to a mariachi concert at the Orcas Center. The band consisted of high school students from Wenatchee, WA (Mariachi Huenachi) and they were very good. When they performed Besame Mucho, Jim and I both, mentally, returned to Mexico -- Jim to LaPaz and me to Puerto Vallarta. That is my favorite song and whenever possible, I would ask the strolling mariachi bands to sing it. Although we are happy to be home, we both miss Mexico very much.

And for me, adjusting to life on a rock is taking about the same energy as adjusting to the cruising lifestyle. No doubt about it, Orcas Island is a beautiful place, but sometimes I feel trapped. There's plenty to do here, but no place to go. Shopping? There are 2 grocery stores on Orcas, but try to find a new top or underwear or shoes. You might find the top, but at tourist prices, and I think one store sells leather clogs for close to $100. I can take the ferry off island, but if I do it on the weekend, I have to be prepared to cough up $42 for the ferry (and this is off season). The only other choice is to buy items off the internet, hope the quality is good/or the item fits and pay outrageous shipping fees.


Feb. 25, 2009: Old man winter isn't finished with us yet! A north wind howled and the furnace cranked out the heat all night long. When we climbed out of bed, we were greeted by the site of a white winter wonderland and a 6" long icicle hanging from our flybridge down spout! The temperature remained below freezing for most of the day.

Feb. 22, 2009: At 1100 we joined a group of volunteers and began the task of removing the 800' containment boom out of the water, wiping off the oily slime and then folding it into the Spill Response trailer. That sucker was heavy and it was a very messy job, but the saying "many hands make light work" was true. Two hours later, when the task was finished, I ran down to Manana and returned a couple minutes later carrying a case of cold beer, which disappeared very quickly! Jim and I both have found muscles that haven't been used in a while!

Feb. 21, 2009: Jim spent the morning with Peter. An insurance adjuster arrived in the morning and the Dept. of Ecology wandered around the marina. In the afternoon, the Coast Guard paid Peter a visit saying that they felt the fuel containment was sufficient and that they were going to consider the matter closed, which was a huge relief to everyone. Fingers are crossed that the Dept. of Ecology will follow the Coast Guard's lead. P&B are both still reeling, but beginning to come out of the shock. Their next task is to try to itemize what was on Coho. Fortunately they have a good insurance company so their financial liability should be pretty close to nothing. The oil containment boom will be removed tomorrow -- Betsy asked us to help, which we are happy to do. We consider this a good omen.

Feb. 20, 2009: Jim received a phone call this afternoon from Betsy, the marina manager, while we were at the home show in Seattle. She told Jim that Peter's boat, Coho, was fully engulfed in flames and that it had been pushed out of its slip to avoid further damage to the boats on either side of it. After confirming that his dad was safe, we hightailed it back to Orcas so we could be with P&B. Peter is not certain what happened but suspects a mechanical malfunction with his diesel stove. When he left for lunch, all was okay; 30 min. later when he returned, the interior was aflame. A whole series of negative events then took their toll on Coho -- it took Orcas Island's volunteer fire dept. 15 min. to arrive, Friday Harbor's team arrived quickly but could not get their water pump to work. Jim, Ian and I were off island; Scott (a WSM employee) was working out of site of the docks. The marina's water pumps were stubborn and the hose's nozzle was missing. As all of this chaos was taking place, Coho continued to burn, with the heat breaking her windows and licking her two side neighbors. Ultimately, the lines that hadn't already burned through were cut and she was pushed out of her slip. Prayers were said thanking the good lord that we had a north wind, which pushed Coho out and away from the marina. The Coast Guard showed up on scene and poured gallons of water on her, and eventually sunk her out in the middle of West Sound. When we finally made it to Orcas 5 hours later (gotta love the winter ferry schedule), P&B were still reeling from the day's events. Their phone rang nonstop with calls from both friends and officials. As Peter said, "Today was not a good day."

Feb. 15, 2009: We woke to a chilly, but sunny, day. Today was the Orcas Island Yacht Club's Winter Classic sailboat race around Shaw Island and Jim and I, along with friends Chris and Lynn, were the start/finish committee. We met at the Orcas Hotel at 0800 for a hearty (but overpriced) breakfast, after which we got ourselves and our gear settled on the 2nd floor balcony. By 0945, the sun was nice and warm and there was a light wind. We were each assigned a task and worked as a well-oiled team during the race countdown. Jim somehow managed to be assigned the task of firing the cannon, which he happily did a half dozen times (every little boy's dream)! After a clean start, we had a few hours to ourselves before the boats returned. We poked into the surrounding stores and then returned to the hotel, where we kicked back and relaxed in the sun until noon, when the 1st boat finished. By 1400, all 20 boats were back. The awards ceremony/dinner was scheduled to begin at 1600 and the hotel manager invited the 4 of us to return, saying that dinner was "on the house" for having acted as the start committee. Unfortunately Chris was suffering from a cold so they didn't come back, but Jim & I did. As with the Round the County Race, we were thanked by Chris W., the race organizer, and just about all the race participants. It felt good to be acknowledged. The meal was wonderful and the event ended shortly after 1800 -- several racers had to catch the interisland ferry back to Friday Harbor. All in all, it was a very nice day!

Feb. 7, 2009: Jim, Peter and I headed to Moran State Park at 0815 and spent the day with 7 or 8 other ham radio nerds in the capacity of "Emergency Radio Operators" for the Orcas Island Fat Ass 25K & 50K Trail Run (I didn't make the name of the race up). The hamsters, as we refer to ourselves, were located in 4 different areas along the run and passed along whatever information the race director needed. There is no cell coverage in this area of Orcas and with a race that covers 30 miles of mountain trails, it is important that word get from one spot to another quickly should there be an emergency. There were a couple minor injuries, two check points ran out of water and some items that belonged at the start/finish line ended up at the summit of Mt. Constitution (where there was still snow). Although the sun was out, it never seemed to make it above the trees and it was bone-chillingly cold. I noticed that all the racers crossed the finish line with big smiles but within 5 minutes, they looked like they were in tremendous pain. Why, I wondered, does someone run 30 miles when it's a known medical fact that running is not good for your body? True, none of the women who ran had any jiggling flab, and for a second, I considered taking up running. Then I came to my senses and got back to the task of eating the Oreo cookies that Peter offered! :) We high-tailed it home around 1700 once it was determined that all racers were accounted for and that our services were no longer needed. Jim and I stopped at P&B's for happy hour. Babs served a delicious HOT artichoke & cheese dip, which really hit the spot.

Feb. 2, 2009: Another big gulp day...we met with the architect regarding our new house. According to Jack, we'll most likely spend +$5,000 for architectural fees and another $3,000 in permits. Ay Caramba!! We left his office with homework -- provide distances and layouts, and contact the County to see if we'll need an archeological survey (Native American middens are nearby). We'll have run out of money in fees and permits before we even get to stick a shovel in the ground!

"Dragon King" and "Something's Fishy"

Jan. 29 - Feb. 1, 2009: My neck and shoulders were killing me and my eyes were seeing blurred, but I had a heluva time at quilt camp! I hate to admit that 4 days is really too much for this aging body to sit at a table not ergonomically suited to it, but a massage on Friday, lots of stretching, walking around and munching on chocolate did help! My first priority was to quilt Jim's lap throw: I learned lots of new words of the 4-letter variety and probably got a few more gray hairs while manhandling lots of fabric, but ultimately, I won the battle and had Jim's throw finished on Friday. Then I started our oriental "Shoji" quilt, which is queen sized. The pattern was relatively easy but had lots of seams; if I didn't pay attention, I ended up sewing blocks in the wrong place. I had a little help from friends when it came time to put both the inner and outer borders on and had the top made by Sunday afternoon. Ruth from Poppies was onsite selling fabric at discounted prices so I took advantage and purchased materials for projects 20, 21 and 22! She started a tab for each of us and at the end of the weekend, I got my card and gulped pretty hard when I saw the total. "Oh," said I, "she hasn't taken the 15% discount off yet." "Yes, I have!", said Ruth! I gulped pretty hard again and wrote the check! But it was still definitely worth it as I didn't have to pay exorbitant shipping charges, nor did I have to pay an outrageous ferry fare to America. I could fondle fabric to my heart's content, and that was well worth it!

Jan. 25, 2009: Last night's storm took us entirely by surprise and as such, neither of us slept well. The wind howled, the boat rocked and the neighbor's boat kept being blown into the finger, causing it to creek and groan. The dock cart that I had brought to the boat yesterday, but had failed to return back to its rightful place, was blown down the finger and went for a swim. Thank goodness the thing floated! Jim pulled it out of the water and other than being covered with salt water, it was fine! As both Betsy and Ian were in America, Jim and I walked the docks looking for shredding boat lines and fenders gone AWOL. It was about 35 degrees and the wind was blowing a steady 25-30 kts., making the wind chill around 20 degrees! Brrrr! I thought my nose was going to freeze off my face! The peak gust was 45 kts (52 mph). Couldn't get the interior warmer than 61, so multiple layers was the way to go. I sure will be glad to see Spring come! And for the record, right now I am seriously missing palm trees and 75 degree days!

Jan. 23, 2009: I'm happy to report that (hopefully) our troubles with T-Mobile are over. After receiving yet another voice mail on the cell phone, Jim called T-Mobile and got not one, but two very sympathetic customer service reps! In fact, the first one went to bat for him and the 2nd one agreed to let us out of our contract without us having to pay the early cancelation fee. Yeah! The next step will be for us to run copper wire down the dock so it can be hooked into a yet-to-be-determined junction box within the marina. At the cost of copper, this will be one heluvan expensive phone, but I think our hands are tied when it comes to other possibilities. Anybody out there in reader land who has any other thoughts??

Jan. 22, 2009: And we're back to the telephone saga: Jim received a voice mail on his cell phone from T-Mobile's Tier 3 tech. Jim called them back indicating that he'd be within cell coverage range only for 2 hours. Of course, the phone call wasn't returned. When I commented that I thought they were supposed to make contact via email, Jim's comment was "they are." He called the attorney general's office but they don't deal with cellular companies, so I guess we're on our own with this one. Grrrr! And who knew? The paper reports that people are wanting to know where Aretha bought her hat! It appears my opinion is in the minority, but I refuse to take back my comment!

Jan. 20, 2009: History made today with the inauguration of Barack Obama, or as the Irish are calling him, Barack O'Bama (proving that everyone has a little Irish in them!). I got to watch the ceremony on the computer at work. Not too sure about Aretha's hat; someone obviously told her it looked good -- I just hope she didn't spend too much money on it! There were several Obama celebrations going on here on the rock, but Jim, P & B were "in America" on their monthly shopping trip and didn't get home early enough for us to attend one.

Jan. 19, 2009: The saga has switched from the Volvo to the telephone! The new router arrived today; Jim hooked it up and...Nothing! So he called T-Mobile and they had him check this and that, to no end. Their solution? They "escalated" our problem to the "third tier". However, a customer cannnot call into a service tech in the third tier. The customer can only be called...somewhere between 3 days and a week (and this is their definition of escalation?). When Jim inquired as to just how a technician was going to call him when our phone was down, there was silence! It was finally decided that the contact will take place via email. We were given a credit for having had to pay shipping for a part that was not the problem and again, Jim asked what it would take for them to let us out of the contract. No dice there. So we wait.

Jan. 17, 2009: Tonight was potluck Saturday at the West Sound Community Center. The four McCorisons set up the hall, preheated the ovens and got the coffee going. This is the first time in ages that there's been a January potluck; normally people head south after the holidays for a couple of months. So we set up for 40 people and ended up with 55! After dinner, we watched a slide presentation of someone's trek to Annapurna. Spectacular scenery! We were offered the chance to house sit during Feb. and March. I'm so tempted -- space and a bath tub -- but it wouldn't be fair to the cats, who would have to remain on the boat. Still, I'll mull this around in my head to see if we might be able to make it work somehow.

Jan. 14, 2009: What was that bright yellow orb peaking out occasionally from behinds the clouds??? Although it wasn't really sunny, it didn't rain, and that helped dry up the slippery green mold growing on the docks. Had supper at Chimayo with Jim, Peter & Babs. Tonight was "locals night" and the special was a delicious seafood pasta with prawns, scallops, and Dungeness crab for 2/$25. We split a bottle of Spanish white wine -- superb! My thread order arrived so I spent the evening reorganizing my quilting supplies, cutting out the pieces for my challenge block, digging out my Christmas fabric (for a friend), etc. Next on the to-do list: sew beads on my turtle wall hanging and get it ready for the Feb. exhibition at the bank. Quilt camp is two weeks from tomorrow...but who's counting? :-)

Jan. 13, 2009: Today's word to the wise: don't sign up with T-Mobile! It was determined that the router we are using to have phone coverage on the boat was defective (router made by Linksys). After several go-rounds over a period of 2 days, T-Mobile agreed to send us another router free of charge, but said they would only send it via ground transportation and at our expense. As we've had phone coverage on the boat for only 30 days, Jim wasn't exactly thrilled with their offer, especially since it appears we'll be without phone coverage for another 7-10 days (we've been without for several days already while companies pointed fingers at each other). When he asked if we could get out of the contract, he was told we could...for $200! Needless to say, Jim wasn't in the cheeriest of moods after that phone call! So we'll keep our fingers crossed that the next router lasts longer than 30 days. Customer support is clearly not a priority for T-Mobile!

Christmas in January!

Jan. 9-11, 2009: We held our breath as Washington's rivers flooded their banks and we prayed that Mother Nature wouldn't give us a reason to cancel our already-delayed Christmas celebration with Colleen. We left Orcas Friday morning, opting to take the scenic, unflooded route rather than I-5. Amazingly, we were able to take the Volvo and it ran like it didn't have a problem in the world (well...almost. We had to add 2 qts. of oil to the engine on our way home). We had a wonderful visit. Adam bought a couple of mice so we spent Friday night watching Cutie and Max settle into their new home. On Sat. we watched Wall-E and Kung-fu Panda, fun stories to lift the dreariness of the day's weather. Christmas came that evening, and everyone was pleased with his/her gifts. Among the gifts given to us was a photo album, complete with pictures of Colleen, Rachel and the kids. An absolutely priceless gift (spoken like a true mother)! Jim & I left early Sun. morning. We stopped at the Apple Store and Trader Joe's before leaving America (island humor). We fueled up at the Chevron station on the Indian reservation in Anacortes; gas was 25 cents a gallon cheaper than anywhere else, so it was well worth the stop! We arrived at the ferry landing at 1450 and drove straight onto the 1500 ferry. That would not have happened had it not been winter...Orcas is a very popular destination during the other 3 seasons! The boyz were very happy to have us home. Peter & Babs had come down to the boat and fed them daily, but there's no substitution for mom and dad! The four of us were in bed early.

Jan. 4, 2009: The Volvo is still giving us fits; sometimes it starts right up, other times it just cranks and cranks. Then when you're driving, the engine surges and slows. Today the beast died when we went over a bump in the parking lot. Then the engine cranked and cranked, but would not start. Finally Jim got under the hood and wiggled things around. When he wiggled a relay, the engine started. He quickly drove to Peter's before it died again, happily believing that he'd found the source of the problem. By the time he was done twiddling with it, it would not start at all, so Peter gave us a ride back to the marina. We're beginning to joke about gasoline and matches, but that wouldn't help us as the car isn't insured, so Jim will keep twiddling with it until he figures out what is wrong!

Jan. 1, 2009: Happy New Year! Today was P&B's annual pizza open house. Jim estimated about 30 people in attendance during the course of the afternoon. A good time was had by all.

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