Jan's Journal

A Transition, from Sea to Land

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Dec. 27, 2011: A belated Merry Christmas to everyone! We had a lovely day -- Santa managed to make everyone happy. The weather forecast called for windy conditions starting around 10:00. At 9:30 there was no wind, at 9:32 there was a puff or two and at 9:35, BLAM! Zero to 25 kts just like that! The wreath blew down and Manana started dancing on her lines. I'm definitely out of practice; I sure needed my sea legs! I was very happy that we were headed off to the house for the day! Jim made a roast leg of lamb and roasted potatoes; definitely a repeat recipe. That evening we were invited to the Warehams for dessert. We never got the dessert (which was ok because I was still full from lunch). However, they did give me a(nother) Christmas present. The story behind this is that I gave Kim a quilted lap throw for Christmas. Ian (whom I work with and Kim's hubby) said they like to reciprocate with like gifts but he didn't know what to do since I'd given her a handmade quilt. Jokingly, I suggested that we needed kitchen cabinets! So my gift that night was a set of kitchen cabinets...for a doll house! Jim and I howled with laughter and the next day, I brought it up to the house and set it up in the kitchen window!

Yesterday Jim and a friend went off island so Jim could check out a new van for Starfish. He had previously located it online and spent quite a while talking to the salesman on the phone. They negotiated a price, contingent upon an in-person inspection. He arrived home last night with it. It's a 2009 Ford Econoline, much larger than his Dodge Caravan. The Dodge is so full of stuff that the rear end looks like it has 2 flat tires. He needs to outfit it with shelves and drawers; then I guess it would make sense for us to take inventory as we move his tools and supplies into the new van. He should have no trouble selling the Dodge as it's mechanically sound.

Four days to go until the open house pizza day. We've set some pretty big goals for the house and we think we'll get them done. The vestibule floor is now done, some of the the tongue & groove paneling for the vestibule ceiling has been painted (there's only so much space on the saw horses). Jim spent the better part of today laying out the tiles for the bathroom tile rug. He wanted to consult with the homeowner (that would be me) before he cut and/or set any tiles. And as it stands now, friends will spend the night on an air mattress in our house. We have heat in the bedroom and the toilet works -- what more do they need?

Dec. 11, 2011: How can we build a house if we're busy attending holiday parties? And why does everyone think they need a Christmas party? Why not have a party in March, when there are no holidays in site and the only thing to look forward to is more gray weather??? Huh??? I can't wait to dig my Christmas coffee mug out of storage...it says "Bah, humshit..."

I went into work on Monday singing the "oh woe is us" song about the propane stove and Betsy told me that someone she knows had posted a propane stove for sale for $425. Jim made several phone calls and determined that this new stove would work -- yeah! This morning we borrowed the company pick up truck, loaded it up with unburnable lumber, unloaded the lumber at the dump, then went to Sparks' house, where we loaded the propane stove, drove back to the house and unloaded the stove! Talk about body abuse! We uploaded a picture of the old stove onto a local Facebook buy/sell/trade page and literally, within 5 minutes of posting it, the phone rang and someone came by to look at it (but didn't take it). Jim caulked the tub and I washed the slate tiles; unfortunately we ran out of time so I wasn't able to seal them. Manana...

On the Manana front, we've been trying to deal with condensation and our mattress this winter. We removed the mattress from the bunk so it could dry and when we returned from this afternoon's solstice party, Jim laid some dry bunk material down and we made up the bed. Hopefully the dry bunk material will be effective -- it wasn't cheap!

Tonight's weather calls for freezing fog and 10-15 kt. wind from the NW. Brrr! Can't ask for nicer weather than we've had so far this month, though. The sunsets have been spectacular! By and large, the boat stays in the 60s; we layer and sometimes I snuggle up in a quilt. And now as I'm writing this, I think it's a bit cool in here so I'll sign off and go put another layer on.

Dec. 5, 2011: What is with electric heaters these days??? We have gone through a number of them in the past 2 months; mostly they work but are NOISY! So we return them and buy a different brand. The one Jim brought home today lasted a whole 5 min. before shutting itself off. Mind you, he bought it because we have another of the same make/model that has worked peacefully for over a year. Now I could say something like, "wouldn't it be wonderful if he'd just fix the damn diesel furnace?" but he's busy building us a house, so I won't say it...

Speaking of houses, there's no such thing as a free lunch...ain't that the truth? Over a year ago a neighbor was giving away her propane stove for free. It worked, although it needed a few new parts. Still, we thought, a $600 repair is better than $2000 new. Well guess what? Over the weekend we (finally!) brought the stove in; the spray paint had arrived and I was ready to prep the stove. Upon closer examination, however, Jim discovered that the flue on the old stove did not look like it was going to match what he had installed through the ceiling. A phone call to the local Lopi dealer this morning confirmed his suspicions...blah! So now we're back to needing to spend $2000. For $89 extra, the dealer will paint the stove for us, so we'll return the paint and let the professionals do it. We're not really out any $ (other than what it'll cost to get rid of the stove); we just don't have a spare $2000 in our pockets right now.

So the bathtub went in and the bathtub came out and the bathtub went in and we shook it all about...oh wait! we aren't singing this! :o) The bathtub did go in, and it did rock a bit, but Jim was certain that it would stabilize when the concrete set. Unfortunately we didn't get things just right; the concrete set but the bathtub legs weren't in the concrete (duh!), so the tub continued rocking. We removed the tub the next day and then removed the block of concrete. Two days later, we poured 2 bags of a different concrete and reset the tub; no rocking this time around. According to our records, the bathtub had sat in the middle of the dining room for 2 years and 1 day! The plumbing gave him a bit of a headache but eventually he prevailed and the bathtub is now functional; still don't have a shower head but that'll come soon enough. We haven't tackled the floor tiles.

The vestibule's slate tiles got installed over the weekend -- they look really good. Jim put them down in a totally random pattern. The next step is to seal the tiles before grouting. The goal is to have the tiles in both the vestibule and bathroom 100% complete by year end. Anything else that gets accomplished by then will be a bonus!

Nov. 20, 2011: It's been a busy month so far. Quilt camp was the 1st weekend and my project turned out to be the quilt from Hell! By the 3rd day, I had decided I wasn't going home until the damn thing was done (I left camp at 9:00 PM that night). The next day I felt a bit better about the lap throw, but have yet to finish or name it. A friend sent me the fabric and pattern; honestly, it's a sweet design, but came with poorly-written directions. The name of the pattern is "Tale of Two Kitties". I briefly thought of naming it "Bad Kitties", but the panel artwork is so cute and I shouldn't blame the kitties for the designer's inability to write instructions! So I'm still thinking of a name. Then last weekend was the Round-the-County sailboat race. My boss created this race 24 years ago; it's one of the highest rated races in the Pacific Northwest. This year they had 78 boats sign up for the 2-day event. I do a lot behind the scenes and Jim gets volunteered to help out mainly because he's related to me. So we were both busy all last weekend. Last Tuesday we fixed dinner for Peter & Babs -- we are doing that once a week now and I suspect that number will go up to 3 or 4 when we finally move into the house (still scheduled for the 12th of never). Thursday was a yacht club function; Jim accepted the invitation to sit on the Board of Directors as a Trustee...silly guy! I think it's a two-year position. And finally last night, we attended the West Sound Community's Thanksgiving potluck. This week, hopefully, will be a bit quieter, except for Thanksgiving on Thursday and tickets to the Olga Symphony on Friday.

We just keep "keepin' on". Business has slowed for Jim, which is giving him time to work on the house. He worked on the decks as long as he could, but the rain and cold arrived, forcing him inside. The bathtub/shower stall was grouted a couple of days ago and looks wonderful; Jim began the plumbing today. We put the floor field tiles down and last week, when we decided to install the tile rug, discovered that we'd been sloppy putting the field tiles down and the rug area wasn't square. So Jim chiseled the tiles back up (thankfully none broke) and will reinstall them the correct way! Duh! The tiles around the fireplace got grouted this weekend using black grout -- what a mess to clean up after! And the tiles that will go under the propane heating stove were installed and grouted. We've ordered a couple cans of high heat spray paint in blue metallic, which hopefully will be a similar color to the porcelain tiles surrounding the fireplace. We'll need to have heat in the house soon, although it maintained 52 deg. over the freezing weekend.

We've been experiencing a cold spell these past several days; in fact, we had a bit of snow, too, although not on the docks. Yesterday our #2 portable electric heater decided to quit. Jim dug out a spare older heater that we've kept, but it has it's problems. We plugged it in and it worked for 10 min, before it, too, decided to die. We had plans for the evening so left with only one heater running. When we returned, it was 50 deg. in the main saloon and 47 in the aft cabin. Needless to say, it didn't take us long to climb into the ice-cold bed! I briefly contemplated relocating to the guest bedroom at the house but getting up, getting dressed, loading Amber into her carrying case, loading cat food, kitty litter, etc and then going outside in the 22 deg. weather, walking 1/4 mile to the car and having to scrape the heavy frost off the windshield made me rethink things! Around midnight Jim remembered that our air conditioner has a heat setting as well, so he turned it on. The downside to that was that the motor is in the hanging locker, is very loud, and the air comes out of 2 vents at a very high velocity. Jim adjusted the vents but we couldn't do anything about the noise. However, the aft cabin was 54 this morning, a bit better than 47! Perhaps we should buy an air mattress and keep it at the house -- at least there's heat in the bedroom. For now, it sounds like the cold spell will end tomorrow and once again, we're in for another high wind storm. At least those are out of the South and the weather is usually in the 40s.

Oct. 17, 2011: Hooray, hooray! A major milestone achieved! Jim nailed the last piece of shingling up today. So glad to have that job finally done!! We have several decks/patios in various states of construction, so those are the next exterior projects. Got my year-end bonus; the check has been allocated to buying a dish washer and a kitchen sink. If there's anything left over, we'll put it towards either a built-in microwave or Felix the Cat clock!

Sept. 26, 2011: I suppose it's ok for me to write even though it's been less than a month! Jim took his annual fishing-with-the-guys trip to Los Barilles (Mexico) and returned a week later with a cooler full of tuna. No complaints from me...well, maybe a small one in that they didn't catch any dorado. Not too many people here have experienced fresh tuna, given that this is the land of crab and salmon, so I was happy to share some of the smoked tuna that Jim brought back. While Jim was away, I dug out my sewing machine and finished a wall hanging that I'd started in June. Ah, quilt therapy! I also got together with a friend I worked with back in 1984! Thank you, Facebook, for reuniting us! My friend lives in Anacortes; she met me at the ferry and we visited two quilt shops and had lunch, talking nonstop! What a wonderful way to spend a day!

On the home front, we hired John to come and level out the driveway portion of the property. It has always been sloped (towards where our house is now), and the construction equipment dug up what had been gravelled. Last year the parking area was a mud bog, which we attempted to alleviate by putting hay down on the driveway. That worked...to a point! So, as much as I hate to admit it, leveling the driveway was a priority (there go my kitchen cabinets!). Anyway, John arrived two days after Jim got back from his trip -- I have to give Jim an "A" for being a champ -- he was under the weather, having left and returned with a cold, but he donned his grubbies and grabbed a shovel! The driveway was completed 2 1/2 days later, and that included spreading/raking dirt to raise the driveway up and then spreading/raking 47 TONS of crushed gravel! He was whooped but the area looks great and we can now say, "let the rain come". In the process of leveling the driveway, Peter & Babs' front steps were demolished as it was determined they were rotted. We attempted to build the deck framing this weekend but the rain did come, forcing us to put the tools away. The next step will be to figure out what plants thrive in low light and aren't considered appetizers to the deer! And finally, we have use of the tile cutter once again; I'm extremely anxious to finish the bathroom and then put down the slate flooring in the vestibule. The outside looks terrific -- I'd like the inside to start looking the same!

Sept. 14, 2011: All I can say is thank heavens Labor Day is over! Now, perhaps, I can have my life back...not that building a house is very exciting! Jim was flat out all summer, too, so there's little to report on the home front. We hired a contractor to build two deck frames; while they were doing that, Jim was busy shingling the south side of the house. Jim installed the rails and decking on the south patio but we still have to do the east patio. I'd guess we're 95% done with the shingling (we can see the light at the end of the tunnel -- YES!). Still have a bit to do in the front entry way and the peak on the north side of the house. Have gone to a couple of garage sales and purchased a bureau and a queen-sized sleigh bed w/mattress and box spring. The bureau is oak and definitely dated but is in good shape. I suppose I could refinish it, but for $60, I don't think it's worth my energy! The sleigh bed came from Eddie Bauer's and is quite pretty; I was surprised when Jim said he liked it. I was in the right place at the right time with the patio furniture...a friend of a friend sort of deal, with them getting rid of ALL their furniture (rich people remodeling). I was able to get 2 swivel chairs with a small round table for the patio, PLUS 2 chaise lounges and a side table for the lawn, plus cushions, for free! The cushions need replacing but the furniture itself is perfect. And I forgot to tell you the story of the Grandfather's Clock... we attended a garage sale that a family friend was having. He had just sold his parents house. I noticed a grandfather clock against the wall in the dining room. It was barely noticeable because the wall was darkened cedar and the interior lighting was bad. I showed it to Jim -- we both loved it. I can't tell you what attracted us to it, or it to us, because in our past life, there was no attraction for grandfather clocks! Anyway, it was priced at $500 -- well worth the price, but at this stage of construction, every penny counts and $500 will buy us a sink or dishwasher, etc. And I didn't want to offend our friend by offering less. Still, he knew we were interested and torn (as I told him, "I don't even have a couch to sit on to look at it!"). Jim and I went back and forth over it but in the end, common sense prevailed. So imagine our surprise when 2 weeks later our friend stopped by the office and asked if we would take the clock. He didn't want to leave it for the new house owner and he didn't want strangers to have it; he preferred to "keep it in the family". The clock is 125 years old, made by his great grandfather, and still works! The cabinet is in immaculate shape, given its years, and it will look beautiful in our dining room. I told our friend that we are just the caretakers for the clock and will gladly return it to him when/if he wants it back. For now, he's happy knowing it will have a good home, and he's sure his folks are happy with his decision. Awww...

July 24, 2011: And another month has flown by! Geesh, it'll be Christmas before we know it! I'm now working 6-7 days a week -- tis the season. We have to make the money while we can. I lucked out and had this weekend off, but payback comes next week when I will work 12 straight days. I was so exhausted that I slept 11 hrs. last night. On the house front, we decided to side the south wall of the office in T111 with cedar strips; we did this treatment on the north side and it's a nice break between the 2 houses. Plus, it goes up so much faster than the shingles. Yesterday we finished putting the T111 up; still have the cedar strips. We also bought 2 red resin planters for the office front deck and filled them with flowers. Lucky for us, our friend, Jane, was visiting P&B and she offered to help us pick things out. The fingers are crossed that the deer will not eat the plants before I get a picture of them! On the Manana front, Jim started the engine for the first time in almost a year. We are the race committee for this Friday night's race so we had to be sure everything was ok. He also changed the oil and replaced the propane regulator. The last time we made water, I noticed the motor was fluctuating. Early last week, Jim changed the primary filters and discovered that the boost pump had failed (and we had less than 10" of water in the tank). We decided to forego doing dishes and cooking pasta. He placed an order with Fisheries, but they screwed up the order and did not ship it last week. By today we were down to 5" of water in the tank and the dishes had taken over the counter! So I ended up filling pots and pans with dock water, heating them up and doing the majority of the dishes! It sounds like the part won't arrive until Tues. at the earliest :-( Not much else happening -- we're both so busy we can barely see straight!

June 26, 2011: Can't believe a month has flown by! Jim has been slammed with work, which is great for the checking account, but not great when you're trying to build a house. Let's see...got the east wall mostly shingled, but had to stop because we didn't have the lumber for the corner board. The lumber yard says it's backordered...don't know what's so special about it, but we continued around to the south wall, doing between the chimney and sliding glass door. Then we tried our hands at building the staircase for the office. I won't say unsuccessfully, but we sure didn't get it right the first time! That took us 2 weekends -- talk about frustration! However, maybe we'll remember how to do it right (or perhaps we'll remember what we did wrong), when it comes time to build the staircase to our front door! We went to America today; spent quality time in Home Depot buying a shower curtain rod, towel bars, toilet paper holder, bathroom sink faucet, table lamp and finials for the guest bedroom and mini blinds for the office. Also bought fabric to make P&B a new wall hanging for their bedroom. I actually brought the quilt off their bed with me in an effort to match the colors, and I'm really glad I did because the purple was an odd shade. Picked up a few pillow forms and fabric to make throw pillows, also for the guest bedroom. So we're coming along slowly, but at this rate, we'll never get in the house.

May 28, 2011: Memorial Day weekend. We joke that Jim has finally learned to ask me what I want him to do on the house! We are celebrating the fact that we now have a functioning toilet! Hooray! Last weekend Jim installed the cabinet above the toilet, too, so the room is shaping up nicely. Put a few more trim pieces up in the office and began shingling the east wall of the house. With decent weather predicted this weekend, hopefully we'll be able to make a bigger dent in the bundles of cedar shingles. We're still waiting for our friend to pour the concrete for the pads for the porch steps. In the meantime, there is no exterior access to the office and we're using cinder blocks to get into the house -- not the safest!

May 14-16, 2011: In Victoria, BC for a runaway weekend to recharge our batteries and celebrate our 30 year anniversary. Took the bus from Sidney to Victoria on Sat. Checked into the Royal Scot Motel and then headed out to poke in the overly-priced tourist shops. The weather was really decent and sort of warm so I'm glad we did our poking on Sat. because on Sun. it poured buckets! After breakfast, though, we grabbed our umbrellas and took the shuttle uptown. Eventually we ended up at the Maritime Museum, which was interesting and then made our way back to the motel. We kicked off our shoes, turned on the TV and flaked. For dinner, Jim ran down to the motel restaurant for a couple of salads, which we ate in our room. We washed them down with a bottle of Canadian red wine, which was pretty lousy...note to self: stick with WA wine in the future! After breakfast on Monday, we caught the bus back to Sidney. Purchased a couple jars of Grey Poupon that was made in France (vs. the Grey Poupon that you buy in the States which is made in IL) and some salad crunchies. We also bought a bottle of 222s, which contain codeine; you can buy them over the counter in Canada. Jim purchased 2 bottles of alcohol in the ferry's duty-free shop -- much cheaper than buying them either in Canada OR Washington. Then while waiting for our connecting ferry in Friday Harbor, we picked up several boxes of Jim's favorite cereal, which we can't buy on Orcas. Talk about an international shopping trip! Amber gave us a cool reception and spent the remainder of the afternoon ignoring us -- but at least she hadn't pee'd on the bed while we were gone, so I know our friends must have taken good care of her!

May 10, 2011: I'm happy to report that we survived! The move went off without a hitch; our 2 workers showed up early and everything was transferred within 2 hours. I'm sure Peter & Jim wish that we could have paid them to unpack and put everything away, but it doesn't work like that! Peter is pretty much settled in, but not completely happy with his smaller space and longer walk to the restroom. Jim is making do with a free desk and a mishmash of other furniture. We will get him appropriate furniture when we run out of things to spend money on. The new guest bedroom looks great; nothing like a fresh coat of paint, new ceiling lights and a clean rug to perk a room up. We moved the furniture down from the loft last weekend, blending some of our pieces with theirs to make a very comfortable-feeling room. And just in the knick of time as Babs' brother and his wife arrived yesterday for a few days! The room still needs a few things, which I'll deal with as time and money allows. This evening we borrowed the company truck and drove out to the other side of the island, where we picked up our new (to us) refrigerator. It's 4 years old and not very big, but it is white and was only $100. For now it's in storage until we have a kitchen to put it in. So with the exception of a few trim pieces that need to be installed in the office, we are now able to reconcentrate on our house. Jim grouted the bathroom floor tiles that are down a nice platinum color -- the toilet can go in any time now. The weather is beginning to improve slightly so we'll take advantage of it and start working outside, too. Still no shortage of projects, but a definite shortage of available time!

April 25, 2011: Happy Easter, and all that other crap. Yes, I'm getting very sick and tired of this damn house and I'm really missing having a life. Jim and I have spent every single night (and every weekend) working on the house. Assuming we can keep up this pace without either killing ourselves or each other, we will have the new office ready for occupation this Sat. To that end, we told Peter to start packing the old office and I've started bringing him boxes. We have lined up a couple of strong young backs to help us move across the driveway on Sat. The door trim will be installed tomorrow and the base boards on Weds. Jim will finish the network cabling and I'll do touch up paint on Thurs. Then, depending on how much packing has been done, we'll either be able to take Fri. off or we'll be up at the old office packing boxes. And we won't go home until the room is empty because I start the transformation of the old office into the new guest bedroom on Sunday...company arrives 5/9 and I'll need the time to spackle and paint the walls and shampoo the carpet. At this point, the only thing keeping us going is the knowledge that on May 14, we head to Victoria for a much-needed 3 day vacation. But when we come back, we'll be on our own schedule with no outside pressure...and that will be a good thing.

April 17, 2011: A very happy birthday to my daughter, Colleen! We've made some very visible progress over the past 2 weekends; the vinyl flooring finally arrived so we put that down in the passageway and then reinstalled the baseboard trim. Once that was done, we moved Babs' furniture back into her space and out of the new office. As of 1700 today, the new office flooring is down -- yeah! It was no small task emptying out the office, and you can barely walk around in the living room. Once the new floor was installed, we shifted gears (again) and decided that we should now come and go through our front door rather than risk damaging the new floor in the office. So we moved all our surplus lumber and built the front stoop out of gray Trex. And because we were on a roll, we put the Trex down on the back stoop of the office. The fir trim for the door moldings was laid out on saw horses in the office; the plan is to go to the house every night this week and prep those pieces with the hope of installing them next weekend. John, the guy we borrowed the tile saw from, has a big job coming up in CA; we can keep the saw until May 1. Guess we'll be cutting as many tiles as we can between now and then. We've decided we could get a lot done on the house if we didn't need to sleep at night or work during the day!

April 3, 2011: Have you ever noticed that some tasks take forever and yet it doesn't look like anything was done? That's how I feel about the house this week. So the purchaser (that would be Jim) ordered Light Teak vinyl flooring instead of Teak. Who knew? Unfortunately Home Depot ships like twice a month so it took forever for the incorrect box to get here and the correct box won't get here until next Fri. In the meantime, the subflooring is down, the new ceiling light is up and Babs furniture is still in the new office. And speaking of the new office, we loaded the Subaru up with everything that needed to be returned to Island Hardware. The room has to be emptied so Jim can switch gears and continue working on it. Anyway, we got a $250 credit for the returned merchandise, which we'll end up giving back to them when we order 12 sheets of plywood for the subflooring! We also hauled a couple items to our storage locker, but the room still has lots in it. We accidentally bought different trim paint while at Island Hardware and it turns out the new paint is much better than what I had been using. I spent yesterday and today redoing all the windows in the bedroom and sewing room. By the end of the day, I claimed the painting to be done (whether it is or it isn't)! Jim and I spent quality time yesterday figuring out the floor tile layout and Jim put the tiles down on 1/2 the floor. Morris Plumbing called to say our toilet, along with our Bemis 1200 toilet seat, is here. If all goes well, Jim will grout those tiles and install the toilet -- wow! The wall lights were installed and look great, too. Jim's still toying with what to do with my Mexican tiles; they are 1/8" thicker than the subway tiles...not good! And he still has to make a custom vanity for the sink. And build the medicine cabinet. And enclose the linen closet. And.....

March 22, 2011: The house update: the bathtub surround is 90% complete. Jim has done a marvelous job installing all the subway tiles. On Sat. he spent the majority of the day fussy cutting 83 tiles to go around the tub opening. We know there were 83 tiles because he had to number them all so he'd know where they went when he set them! I painted the new sheet rock in Peter's bedroom and then painted the entire passageway (formerly known as Babs' old office). The clean paint looks so nice. The paint on the window trim is not coming out well; I'm not sure if it's the paint or the painter... Anyway, Jim headed to America for the next 3 days so it's just me and Amber. I will dig my sewing machine out and will watch some chick flicks. And probably on Thurs. I will spend time at the house and pull up the passageway carpeting etal and get the space ready for a new floor this weekend when Jim returns. The floor was not on the immediate agenda, but Peter thought it would look good and honestly, the carpet really needs a good cleaning. We will install a plywood subfloor and vinyl flooring. Then Jim can install the new ceiling light and we'll cross that room off the list...and that will feel great! And we're getting close enough to start thinking about installing a toilet in the bathroom. How cool is that? Jim has finished making dust so my task is to wash down the walls and he will install the wall lights and the medicine cabinet over the non-existant toilet. Step by step, inch by inch!

March 1-8, 2011: Yeah for vacation! I flew to Greensboro, NC and spent a week visiting with both my sisters. And yeah! for quality time shopping, yeah! for visits with my nieces and nephews, and my great nieces and nephews, whom I haven't seen in 8 years. And yeah! again for a wonderful day spent with my best friend of 50 plus years. The weather was sunny and close to 60 deg. all but 1 day. The vacation couldn't have been any better...well, it could have been better if I could have stayed longer, but duty called. Delta Airlines was on time and served me enough coffee/diet coke and peanuts/cookies to keep me happy, plus they gave us all free headsets so we could watch The King's Speech. Wish I could say it was great to come back, but my heart doesn't call this rock home.

Feb. 23, 2011: Well, I haven't written anything because I haven't had a clean page for 2011...dumb excuse, I know. Same old, same old around here with work on the house taking priority. I attended quilt camp at the end of January, although I only attended 2 of the 4 days, which was fine because I didn't have any projects planned. I have, quite literally, run out of space for storing any more fabric so instead, I worked on several pieces that had been in the works for some time (UFOs - unfinished objects).

The house update: we stopped working in the office at the end of December, when it was apparent that we wouldn't make our self-imposed deadline of completing it by Jan. 1. So we've been using that space as the workshop while we work on the house. The interior window trim is complete (except for final painting) in the bedroom, library and kitchen. Can't do the one in the dining room because the flooring is blocking it! The trim is Craftsman style and looks very nice. In the bathroom, the decking for the tub has been installed and backer board is in place. Jim put the Warm Tile heating system in and covered it with self-leveling concrete. Unfortunately it didn't level as well as he thought, so he has a bit of work to do before he can begin tiling. Speaking of tiling, a friend loaned us his wet saw tile cutter for the next month. Jim purchased a new blade for it and tiled the fireplace and hearth -- he did an okay job for someone who is not a professional tile setter. We visited The Door Store in Marysville last weekend and purchased Door #2. We both liked the look of the Craftsman-style doors but two quotes came in at $850 -- NOT! We bought a very similar styled wood door for $289, making the trip to America well worth the time! We also picked out the interior doors, but didn't buy them. And finally, Jennifer from Creative Cabinets came out to take final measurements for the kitchen cabinets. Bad news, though, in that the company that we received the quote from last Oct. is no longer doing residential business and the cabinet company they are using now is not as inexpensive. The new quote came back at nearly twice our budget, leaving us scratching our heads and wondering what we're going to do. For the time being, we've decided to do nothing except pocket every penny we can and readdress the issue at the end of summer, when hopefully, we'll have a few extra dollars in the bank. It's not like we'll be ready to move in next month! Al, the sheet rocker, is supposed to be by this week to do some work in Peter's bedroom; we'll have him fix Babs' office and do some touch up work in our kitchen and bedroom while he's on site. And Peter told us that they have company coming in early May and wouldn't it be good if we could have the office and the guest room relocated by then. The office still needs heat, the floor and door trim installed (plus a lot of wiring) and the new guest room will need a coat of paint and the carpet shampooed at a minimum. But we should be able to pull it all off if we quit working on the house in April.

Starfish Marine is getting busy. Jim attended the Seattle Boat Show with a group from the yacht club and has several people talking to him about upgrading electronics, etc. Plus the Islands Sounder newspaper did a nice new-business article...free! Free advertising is wonderful!

Jan. 16, 2011: First off, a very belated Happy New Year! Peter and Babs held their annual pizza open house; the weather cooperated and there was good attendance. Naturally, Jim & I enjoyed playing tour guide, showing off our side of the house. We also had our oven plugged in and had pizzas baking. Jim installed the chimney cap on New Year's Eve and built a fire in our fireplace; how cozy it looked and felt!

I was supposed to be headed to NC for vacation, but the majority of the country is battling Mother Nature, so I rescheduled. Ha! I'd made my reservations through Atlanta thinking they rarely get snow and it would be a smarter way to go and here they are with one of the worst ice storms. It's probably my fault, so don't tell anyone!

Dec. 14, 2010: The Pacific Northwet is drying out and cooling down after a Pineapple Express brought several inches of rain and warm temps over the weekend. On Sunday, I decided to give the boat a thorough cleaning. I moved one of the settee cushions and discovered that it was soaking wet -- in fact, all the cushions were wet -- UGH! Jim thinks the water has been coming in through the engine cooling vents in the cabin sides. We've known that these areas needed replacing but we've ignored it because we didn't know the best way to attack it. Well, I guess the time has finally come! In the meantime, one vent opening is sporting a piece of clear plastic that has been taped over it.

The house update: the firedoor into P&B's house is in place. Brian had planned to fix the sheet rock on the ceiling over the weekend, but Babs moved back in, citing she needed a place to wrap Christmas gifts! And she has no plans to move back out! So.....we will finish the door and floor trims when she's not looking and leave the ceiling looking ugly. Grrrr.... And finally(!) Jim has started to trim out the office windows. He had one trim design in mind but Peter didn't like it, so onto Plan B, which is also nice. And ta da -- I HAVE A WASHER AND DRYER! WOOT WOOT!! YEAH, YIPPEE SKIPPEE, HOORAY! Can you tell I'm ecstatic about this? They are nothing but white stackable Whirlpool units, but to me, they are BEE-U-TI-FULL!!! Perhaps dirt dwellers can't understand how much it means to have a washer & dryer. Now, gone are the trips to the laundromat (and we've seen hundreds between Vancouver Island, Canada and Zihuatanejo, Mexico), and we no longer have to feel like kids coming home from college; "mom, is it okay if I use your machine to do some laundry?" We put the last piece of melamine up and Jim installed one of the exterior lights. They look very nice, but they will end up shining into our bedroom window. If we'd paid twice as much, we could have gotten "dark sky" lights, but we were looking at 10 lights, and that adds up to a lot more than some mini blinds in the windows! And the light in the library/sewing room was installed; if I'd seen it in person, I wouldn't have bought it, but it's too much hassle to send it back -- it'll do.

The boat has been decorated inside and out and we look quite festive. All my shopping is done, presents are wrapped, cards have been mailed. My current task is trying to locate 2 live Maine lobstas for Christmas Eve.

Nov. 26, 2010: We're trying to get as much accomplished as possible while I have a couple days off. Unfortunately not all of our items were delivered by UPS on Weds. and unfortunately, UPS on island was not open today. Still, not to worry! After a quick trip to the hardware store and then downtown for the mail and some croissants, we returned to the house, where we made turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwiches (on croissants) for P&B. That HAS to be one of the best leftover turkey recipes! :-) Then we got down to work. By the end of the afternoon, we had all the 3/4" melamine wood cut and in place over the bedroom closet and in the living room. The piece that will go over the coat closet is cut, but Jim decided he wanted to let the other pieces set before putting the last one in place. Then we tackled the laundry closet floor; we put some of the short fir flooring pieces in so that that finished floor would match up with the rest of the house, then we cut the linoleum. Our goal was to cement that in place and let it cure overnight but the directions said it needed 65 degrees and we weren't even close to that! So we moved our portable electric heater so it's facing the laundry closet and with luck we'll finish both it and the melamine in the morning. Then we should be able to move on to trimming out the office windows, as the wood is now dry enough.

Nov. 25, 2010: A Happy and snowy Thanksgiving to you all! Woke up to snow...got about 2" before the day was done. The good thing was that the temperature has started to moderate some and by the end of the day, things were beginning to melt. We made our way up to P&B's early as Jim was the cook. Amazingly all the dishes were ready around the same time and by 1400, we were seated at the table which groaned under the weight of turkey, gravy, oyster stuffing, mushroom stuffing, green beans w/almonds, sweet potato pone, mashed potatoes w/carmelized shallots, tomato aspic and creamed onions. There should have been home made cranberry sauce, but Babs forgot to pull it out of the refrigerator. Jim had previously brought our oven from the locker to our house; decided there was no time like the present to determine if the thing actually works (we bought it from someone who bought it at a garage sale). Not only did it work just fine, with the exception that the switch that turns the oven light on/off is broken so it is always on, but it sure came in handy! The first item cooked in it was a pumpkin pie -- cooked to perfection and not lopsided as it would have been had it been cooked on the boat! We headed back to the boat around 1830, fat, dumb and happy. And speaking of happy, Amber was extremely happy when I dropped some turkey into her food bowl!

Nov. 22, 2010: I laughed when I read my last entry because as I sit here typing this, we are having yet another wind storm and the power is out. It's so nasty outside that we shut the marina office down at noon. We have the generator running providing electricity for me to run my computer. November's weather has been a combination of good and bad -- beautiful sunny warm(ish) weather for a few days and then a storm. This storm began a week ago and I honestly don't remember any storms where the wind has blown a minimum of 15 kts. for over a week. Today's storm has brought snow and wind gusts of 53 knots (that's 61 mph)! The temperature is only in the 20s, making the wind chill factor much lower than I want to be experiencing, especially given the fact that it's not even Thanksgiving! Well, we've been hearing that this is a La Nina year. I hope this isn't the beginning of a LONG winter!

On the Starfish front, work finally came to an end about 10 days ago. Jim took a couple badly-needed days off and got back to work on the house last Monday. The can lights have been installed throughout the house, along with the Convectair heaters (in the bedroom and library). Light switches and outlets are being hooked up so he now has heat and light. We bought the trim molding and stain for the office windows; it needs to dry before we can continue. The opening between the new office and Peter's house has been made, but the new fire door isn't in because it didn't arrive on time and then when it did, it was discovered that the nail header (or maybe it's the header nailer) wasn't ordered with the door. However, the exterior lights, the library ceiling light and the bathroom light switch plate covers have all been ordered and should be here this week, assuming they aren't stuck in a snow bank someplace. An appliance store in Anacortes is having a sale on Whirlpool stackable washers & dryers; we will most likely place an order. For $99 they will deliver AND install -- well worth the money since we're talking a ferry ride and squishing the appliances into a very tiny laundry closet. However, this means that we need to put the flooring and trim molding in place before the appliances arrive...talk about incentive!

Oct. 24, 2010: We're having the first storm of the season and it actually is nice, which sounds like an odd thing to write! High winds and periodic heavy rains began yesterday afternoon. Amber wasn't sure what was going on, as the boat occasionally rocked, but there was certainly much for her to look at outside, between all the birds and the various burgees & ensigns flapping in the wind. Jim's maxed out working on a customer's boat, trying to get it finished in a timely manner, as his next large project is scheduled to begin ASAP. While he was working on yet another boat on Friday, he was introduced to a lady who has a classic oldie that is in dire need of new AC wiring. I think that is penciled in for mid-November. So, as you can see, not much is happening on the house right now. However, the flooring is inside, stacked on lathe, the bathroom and laundry closet are finished and Jim got the sheathing up on the chimney. Received the quote for kitchen cabinets and was happy to see that the white cabinets are $700 cheaper than cherry so that will be a no-brainer decision. I think our budget is unrealistic and we're going to have to find more money if we're going to have kitchen cabinets. Our survival suits and Jim's underwater camera will be sporting "for sale" signs soon.

Oct. 12, 2010: Happy birthday to me! After work, had drinks and appies with P&B, and then we moved the party to the West Sound Cafe for a delicious dinner! Rumor has it that the restaurant will close for good this weekend. What a bummer!

Oct. 11, 2010: Another productive weekend: the sprayer is back, although not working 100%. Still, Brian, Jim and I were able to finish the office, living room, dining room, kitchen, hall and bedroom. All colors are looking spectacular, if I say so myself! I didn't have a chance to finish the bathroom or laundry closet -- that's for next weekend, along with finishing up the library. We have gallons of paint leftover, including tinted primer. We'll have to put a notice up on the bulletin board downtown to see if we can get rid of it at an outrageously low cost. The exterior west wall of the house is done; Jim's really getting the hang of putting up the cedar shakes. The gutters were installed today. We should be able to move the fir flooring into the house to start acclimating some time this week.

Oct. 7, 2010: We went to America and met with a cabinet representative for the kitchen. Gave her a list of our wants and must haves and then gave her our budget. It will take a couple of weeks for her to put numbers together, and I may not be able to have my white kitchen cabinets as they are more expensive than stained wood, but she said she'd price things both ways for us to make the decision. From there we went to Bellingham and picked up the fireplace tiles and bathroom floor tiles; still haven't figured out what we're going to do on the exterior of the bathtub, as there will be a slight curve. We/I definitely goofed when picking the tub out, but it can't be returned so we'll have to deal with it. We also visited an appliance store and got a thorough education on today's appliances. You have to remember that we've been on the boat for over 9 years and out of touch with just about everything that pertains to housing. It seems as if all of today's appliances take forever to go through a cycle (dishwasher & washing machine), all in the name of being energy efficient. We decided we'd prefer to buy an inefficient appliance that will do the job in 30 min, rather than 90 min! We also bought a scrap of vinyl linoleum for the laundry closet -- walked around the warehouse looking for a piece that was 3' x 3'. They didn't have anything that small so they sold us a 3 x 9 and only charged us for 3 x 3. And unfortunately we ended up buying 4 new tires for the Subaru. We had a flat last weekend, drove the car on the small spare and got the tire repaired here on island. Well, the repair guy only repaired half the hole (!) so by the time we got to Anacortes, the tire was very low. Jim filled it and by the time we got to Bellingham, the tire was very low! We stopped at a Les Schwab store to have the tire repatched, and that's when we learned that not only was it improperly patched, but the repair guy had ground the tire down to the cord. Oh well, it's only money...$450 later, and the Subaru is sporting new tires, but we were told the CV joints are shot. AAAHHHH! That noise you hear is me screaming! Parts for that repair have been ordered; the kitchen cabinet budget is now called Subaru wheels and I don't know what we're going to do as we are maxed out money wise.

Sept. 25, 2010: Make hay while the sun shines...that's exactly what we are doing! The exterior north wall of the office is done; the board and batten design looks great and is so much nicer looking than the Tyvek! Yesterday Jim hired Stan to teach him how to install cedar shakes. They got a portion of the west and north walls done. Unfortunately Mother Nature wasn't totally cooperative. We're STILL waiting for the fireplace contractor to finish the foundation; no work can take place on the south wall until it's done. Brian got both the office and the house totally primed and then his sprayer died so we're waiting for it to be repaired. The yellow tinted walls were VERY yellow, so we purchased three quarts of different yellows and I painted blocks of all three colors throughout the core of the house, but none of the colors thrilled us. Back to the hardware store for a half-tint of one of the yellows, plus 2 paints for the bedroom. The half-tint of Mayonnaise should be perfect...the bedroom paints, not so perfect! Jim had picked out a sage, but as Peter so tactfully put it, it looked more like baby diarrhea brown! I thought that Jim liked it and he thought that I liked it -- ah, communication! Eventually I told Jim I didn't like it and it turned out he wasn't thrilled with it either. So back to the hardware store for yet another green paint, plus a quart of the paint for the office! The new green, Celadon, is MUCH better and I think it will make a very soothing/calming room. The office paint is very pale seafoam, Babs' choice. I thought it might be too bright, but she said it was barely blue. And speaking of blue, I got the first coat of paint on in both the bathroom and the laundry closet. The bathroom is done in Celestial Blue, a lovely shade of pale blue, and very Mexican looking (seeing as we're going to have a Mexican bathroom). The Wedgwood Green is VERY green, sort of like a dark mint julip green. You can't help but walk by the room and say, "Wow!" But I think it'll be just fine, considering that very little of the space will actually be seen. The corner boards are all in place and Jim has been busy painting them. The gutter installation was rescheduled for the first week of Oct. So we're on a temporary roll, but Starfish has a couple big jobs coming up, which will slow things down. Still, money is a good thing!

Sept. 12, 2010: It's really starting to look like a home! The texturing of both the office and house was completed last weekend; we had an orange peel texture put in the office and a more rustic looking texture throughout the house. "Sheetrock Al" did a fantastic job and came in on time and on budget. The clear T111 was delivered during the week, but Jim was too busy earning money so nothing got done. However, we've been in touch with a liveaboard neighbor who was a contractor in a prior life. Jim and Brian did a bit of "negotiating" with the end result being we'll get a free paint job and Brian will get some electrical work. So to that end, Jim & I went to Island Hardware & Supply (aka Island Hardway & Surprise) yesterday and bought 20 gal. of latex primer, 5 gal. of white ceiling paint, 1 gal of exterior white paint, 1 gal of pale blue interior paint and 1 qt. of kelly green paint. We had 10 gal. of primer tinted pale yellow; we're told this will be beneficial when it comes time to paint the bedroom and interior core of the house. And there's a story behind the kelly green paint. Jim was holding the color swatches and I told him I needed to decide what color I was going to paint the laundry room (which is actually a closet barely big enough for a stackable washer/dryer). He closed his eyes, fanned the color swatches and pointed to one -- Wedgewood Green. It's certainly not the color I would have chosen, but it's not bad, and will look very good as a backdrop for white appliances. The gutter installation is scheduled for next Friday, which means we need to get the corner boards up. Unfortunately Jim realized that he had incorrectly purchased 2x2s instead of 2x3s and the lumber yard didn't have any in stock. Instead, Jim replaced the window trim that he'd put up the week before because it didn't lay flat, and we installed the fascia board for the front office deck/steps. We had planned to be back there today but Mother Nature changed those plans.

Aug. 21, 2010: Construction is moving along at a fast pace right now. The insulation in the house AND office was completed in 1 1/2 days by ONE Mexican worker. Man, did he hustle! Last Monday the sheet rock arrived on site at 0830 and was quickly unloaded. The inspector arrived at 1230 and signed off on the insulation. Jim then called the sheet rock contractor back. Al and one other worker returned on Tuesday and had the house and office totally sheet rocked by Friday! Wow! Sheet rock really defines the space. It was always known that the library (aka my temporary sewing room) was going to be small -- it's only 8x10. When you can look through the studs, it doesn't look quite that small, but when that view disappears....! I think the room is smaller than some people's bedroom closets! Still, I'll be happy to set up my sewing machine and leave it. We did a mainland trip on Thursday. Dropped the car off for some warranty work, then spent quality time at Aqui Esta, a tile shop. By the time we left the shop, we had picked out the tile for the fire place surround and hearth, the bathroom floor, shower stall and counter top. From there we went to Village Lighting to pick up the bathroom lights and kitchen pendant lighting that were ordered site unseen. We're both pleased with the purchases, although the sales lady spaced and only ordered 1 light rather than 3, so we'll have to make another trip to Bellingham. Forward progress is very motivating!

Aug. 6, 2010: Yeah for Jim! He called for a framing inspection, thinking he would spend the time reworking whatever was written up while waiting for the fireplace to be installed. Well, the inspector only found one minor infraction, and signed off on the paper work! The fireplace contractor FINALLY showed up today and cemented the fire place in place, but not in the RIGHT place, so Jim's going to have some creative framing to figure out. And the contractor did not finish the concrete work, nor were any other parts put in place, nor was there a call to Jim from the contractor...ah! gotta love dealing with contractors -- NOT! Still, we inch forward...Jim needs to do a little insulation and sheet rock work before Thurs., when Sergio, the insulation contractor, begins. I continue to spend my life working at the marina, dealing with a combination of nice people and idiots. Personally, I like dealing with the nice people much better! Only another month of 7 day-a-week marina madness; hopefully I'll survive!

July 31, 2010: Where has the month gone? I must be having more fun than I realized! Work schedule has been work 12 days, have 1 day off; work 7 days, have 1 day off. Next week I'll only work 6 days, but still only have 1 day off. Yacht club members asked if I would house sit for 5 days; they live atop a very high hill with nearly a 360 deg. view of the San Juans -- a million dollar view and I don't doubt that it is a million dollar home. I have no idea why I said yes, as no money was involved...perhaps it was the words "satellite TV" or "bath tub". In any case, Jim stayed at the boat with Amber 3 out of the 4 nights and I went up the mountain each evening. Barb has a HUGE garden that needed daily watering and 6 cats that needed feeding twice daily. So it was hardly a vacation for me (the watering took me 1 1/2 hrs. each evening). Then we attended a late-night dinner party on my first night home. Last night I went to bed at 8:30 and slept 11 hrs! Car update: the new car is leaking oil...not good. Jim wants to run a second tank of gas through it before calling the salesman; Jim's so busy these days that he really doesn't have time for a trip off island right now. House update: We decided to bite the bullet and hired contractors to build the fireplace. They said they could do it in 3 days; Jim figured it would take him 3 weeks. However, true to being contractors, the fireplace will end up taking them at least 3 weeks because they didn't have all the parts in stock. As of today, the foundation is done, the firebox has been moved from the dining room to the living room, and the rest of the parts should be here some time next week. Jim has been busy making sure the house is ready for the framing inspection; hopefully that will take place either next week or early the week after.

July 14, 2010: Car update: We're now the proud owners of a 1992 Subaru Legacy, and we're very impressed with it. The dealer put a new (used lower mileage) motor in it, and it's much peppier than the Volvo was. And notice I said "was". We still have the car; someone helped Jim tow it up the hill to the house this afternoon so at least it's out of the marina's parking lot. Jim will remove and sell all the new parts and we'll see if we can get anyone to haul it away. I honestly don't think it's dead for good; we just don't feel like messing around with it any more. House update: none. Starfish is keeping Jim busy so not much work has gotten done. I've pretty much written off getting into the house by Christmas. And I'm in Day 3 of a 12 day stretch of work, but I'll be working all by my lonesome for the next 4 days. That means no lunch or coffee breaks...it also means a nice paycheck, which we can use.

July 6, 2010: Hooray, hooray! The inspector signed off on the electrical inspection! Another major milestone checked off! Next on the agenda: a little more framing and figure out how to build a fireplace (that should be interesting). Good job, Jim!

July 4, 2010: Happy holiday, everyone! I think the entire country, with the exception of the Seattle area, is experiencing hot summer weather. I lucked out and had the entire weekend off (payback comes in 2 weeks). After a filling pancake breakfast at the fire station yesterday morning, we returned to the boat and readied ourselves for our huge voyage to Deer Harbor (the bay just west of West Sound). We removed the flybridge cover and I scraped the loose varnish off the rails; then I swept. Jim installed our 2011 registration tabs and I made sure that our flares were current...we had a feeling that the Coasties and/or Sheriff would be out in force. Headed over to Deer Harbor and joined Endeavor and Rogo (Robert Goulet's old boat) for a raft-up for the fireworks. There were 5 kids on Rogo and 1 on Endeavor and no sooner had we tied up but they all came running to Manana...I haven't the foggiest idea why! Knowing how I love kids (NOT!), I put my hand out in the international symbol for "STOP"!! and made it clear that there were to be no kids running around our boat because our new cat, Amber, wasn't a happy camper! Shortly after we were settled, Misty J arrived and tied off our port side, sandwiching us between boats. The later it got, the more boats joined the raft-up, along with at least 5 more kids. We gave up trying to keep the kids off the boat -- there were just too many people trying to get to a boat other than their own! By 9:45pm, there were at least 11 boats in the raft-up, and we were all hanging from Endeavor's anchor! The fireworks were very impressive, and especially loud, as the barge was anchored just off a sheer rock cliff so the sound reverberated across the bay. All but 4 boats left when the show was over, and everyone hit the sack. This morning, the sun was out and it was gorgeous. I baked some breakfast muffins, which we shared with Misty J's crowd. Returned to West Sound around noon so we could attend the yacht club BBQ. It was gray, cold and very blustery, but the weatherman tells us to be patient; summer should be here on Tuesday.

House update: Jim put the call in for an electrical inspection. The inspectors come to the island on Tuesday & Thursday (they don't tell you which day they'll show up). He'll finish up the few remaining items, but he's going to leave a couple of things on the premise that the inspector has to find something!

Car update: The Volvo is dead. It might only be water in the gas tank but now the battery is dead from all the hard starts. Buying a decent car on an island where there is no car dealer is challenging so he's planning to fly to Bellingham, buy a car and drive it home. I think he's looking at an older Subaru Legacy. Somehow we have to get the car up to the house and get it running so we can sell it.

June 22, 2010: The truck Jim borrowed for our weekend trip was pretty tired, but it ran fine. The passenger's door didn't open at all, the driver's door only opened part way, the heater didn't work and the wiper blades were shot. So I had to climb in and out of the driver's door, carefully maneuvering so that while missing the stick shift, I didn't accidentally trip the emergency brake! I lost track of how many times we climbed in and out of that thing! We had a nice visit with friends in Port Townsend on Sunday, though. We had a front row seat, so to speak, on the ferry to Port Townsend and saw lots of porpoises, seals and birds. My original plan was to return with P&B on Monday while Jim went to Forks for the cedar shingles, but we discovered there were a couple building recycling stores in Port Townsend and Port Angeles, and since we are on the look out for a vintage front door, Plan B was put into effect! Ended up going to bed much later than normal and then we were up and out the next morning by 7:00 AM. Peter, the terrific dad that he is, got up at 6:00 AM to make coffee for us...what a guy! To make a long story short, we picked up the shingles in Forks (where Twilight was filmed), visited both stores (no joy in the door department), caught the mid afternoon ferry back to Keystone and then caught the 7:00 PM ferry to Orcas. Boy, were we exhausted! However, it was a worthwhile trip and I'd forgotten how beautiful the Olympic peninsula is. It was sunny out, the blue sky making for a beautiful backdrop for the snow-covered mountains. And Amber was very happy to have us home! Jim unloaded the shakes today and returned the truck.

Betsy told me I'm not allowed to go off island any more! Seems like some catastrophe always happens while I'm gone and the office is short-staffed. Yesterday a sailboat hit a reef, jamming its rudder; it had to be towed in. And at the end of the day, it was discovered that a boat in Massacre Bay sank. The marina provided oil sorbs and pumps but the owner elected to have the boat towed to Anacortes for repair.

June 19, 2010: Amber is now officially ours but I suspect if she had the chance, she'd be gone! All was going very well until we decided we wanted to join a raft-up out in the middle of West Sound for a "sailstice BBQ" after the Friday night sailboat races. That, of course, meant we had to start the engine, which, of course, freaked Amber out. She stayed hidden for the majority of the evening because of all the noise and people. However, she did come out of hiding briefly to say hello to a friend of ours who has worked at the shelter for years. Apparently Amber recognized Barb's voice. At the end of the evening, we decided to follow friends over to Massacre Bay for an evening rafted on the hook. Then this morning, we started the engine to come back to the dock. She was NOT a happy kitty and stayed in hiding until I coaxed her out around noon. At 1:00, Jim moved the boat over the the guest dock to take on fuel offered to us "at a discount price". I really didn't want Jim to move the boat, but there was no other way of transferring hundreds of gallons of diesel. And then at 3:30, we started the engine and motored back to our slip. All should have been nice and quiet after that, but Jim filled the starboard tank and then put about 20 gal. in the port tank, so we had a serious list (and I do mean serious - lol)! Jim turned the transfer pump on, and that didn't set well with Amber. The pump finally turned off at 9:00 and I, once again, coaxed her out of hiding. The sad thing is that we are headed out on the 1st ferry tomorrow and won't be home until Monday evening. I have a friend coming over to look in on her, but I hope Amber doesn't think we don't love her any more!

June 14, 2010: We were watching a M*A*S*H episode last week where Hawkeye decides to lay off the booze for a week, just to see if he can. I admit I like my glass of wine at the end of the day, but wondered if I liked it too much. So I decided I would lay off the booze for a week. Today was day #1; it's amazing how habits are hard to break. When I came home, I wanted a glass of wine. I didn't NEED it, though (always a good sign). Instead, I poured myself a glass of OJ, minus any vodka, and that seemed to set well. Apparently I like to come home and drink something; not necessarily alcoholic in nature.

I talked to the shelter today and told them we are enjoying Amber. She likes catnip and her Minke-lined basket; she knows where her toy basket is and she likes being brushed. I've tried to take pictures of her, but she always gets up to investigate the camera, so no pics yet! I'll probably sign adoption papers later this week.

June 13, 2010: Bye-bye, Max! I tolerated as much abuse as I could take and last Sunday was the straw that broke the camel's back. Jim was off the boat and I was quietly working on the computer. Max kept attacking my elbow, biting and clawing. Jim and I kept saying "perhaps he'll grow out of it with maturity" but then I figured why wait that long? So I called the shelter and was told I could bring him back. Jim concurred that this was probably a good thing to do -- obviously none of us were happy. The cat I originally wanted to see, Amber, was finally out of quarantine and I spent a little time with her. My gut told me she'd be a nice cat so I asked Jim to check her out the next time he was downtown. He, too, got positive vibes. We visited the shelter yesterday afternoon for another visit and decided we'd like to bring her home. While at the shelter, we stopped in to see Max. I thought he might remember the sound of our voices but he didn't show any sign of recognition and when I went to pat and hold him, he became that lean, mean biting machine. So he had his chance...I had felt guilty about bringing him back to the shelter, but after seeing him again yesterday, I realized that I'd done the right thing. The worker suggested we bring Amber home for a sleep over, which we did. She's settling in well and our fingers are crossed. She's about 6 years old, medium length fur, calico coloring. She loves to meet and greet people (evident at the shelter) and she loves to be petted.

June 5, 2010: I wanted to write on my site today, but I'm not really sure what I'm feeling, so I'm not sure how to put what's in my mind. Jim and I visited a lady who I quilt with. She and her husband moved into their home last Sept.; they have 11 cats and a cat enclosure that we wanted to check out, as it's something we're thinking about building at the house. So we headed on out of the marina, and our '82 Volvo stalled before we'd even gotten 1/4 mile away. Jim got it restarted, but this happened several times between the marina and S's house. The car had been running flawlessly until we put gas in at Fred Meyers in Burlington two days ago. Don't know whether we got a bad batch of gas or whether it was totally coincidental, but the car's been running like shit since we filled up. Anyway, we followed S's directions and eventually ended up at their custom built 4000 sq. foot home built overlooking Rosario Strait. No doubt about it -- it's a gorgeous house and location (with S's sporty BMW in the driveway). So we're invited in for a tour and the first thing that Jim notices is their coffee maker...it's an unbelieveable automatic machine, push the button for the coffee you want and a minute or two later, voila -- you have a perfect cup of coffee. You open the drawer beneath the unit and pull out a heated cup for that perfect cup of coffee. A tour of the rest of the house reveals granite countertops in all the bathrooms and offices, granite in the showers, granite floor in the master bath. S's husband joked that the house has an acre and a half of granite. They have an exercise room, work shop, space for a future wine cellar, etc., etc., etc. I guess it's what you would expect in a 4000 sq. foot home, but I live in 38' so what do I know of what's expected? Anyway, we had a very nice visit...S & hubby are really down to earth. During the house tour, we joked that I have $50,000 taste and a $5,000 budget for the kitchen. S's hubby stated that they had no budget and are now "paying for it". We climbed into our car, which continued to stall, stutter and stumble its way back to the marina, with us scratching our heads wondering if its time for us to buy a new car...we could probably come up with $2,500 if we decide we won't buy a dinghy. Back on the boat, which needs lots of TLC, Jim looked up the coffee maker that had served him that perfect cup of coffee -- no problema! Shell out OVER $3,000 and you, too, can have one. And it doesn't come with the cups' heating drawer -- that's extra. So here we are, trying to figure out if we have any extra cash laying around to buy a new very used car (after all, what can we expect to buy for $2,500?), and their coffee machine cost more than that. Sorry, but this is just not computing in my mind! S and her husband have been invited to our boat. When they arrive, we will offer them a cup of coffee, which will be made in our 10 year old aluminum drip coffee pot!

June 4, 2010: Max got to experience what it feels like to wear a harness, and he wasn't impressed! As I told friends, if he'd been at the Olympics, he would be scoring a 10 for his acrobatical moves trying to get out of it! Our thought is that perhaps taking Max for walks down the dock will help shed some of his kittenish energy. Jim has added "Dr. Strangelove" to Max's nick names as Max's right rear leg comes up and he kicks himself in the face! This ticks Max off to the point where he bites the foot, only to realize that it is his! Very comical, and the best thing is that he is still young enough that he's not offended when you laugh at him! :-)

Max (aka Psycho Kitty)

June 1, 2010: The weekend weather was pretty miserable and we're expecting yet another late-season rain and wind storm tonight/tomorrow. I'm convinced that our Jan. and Feb. weather was better than what we had in May. It can only get better! Our cat now has an official name...Max, but sometimes we refer to him as Psycho Kitty! All in all, he's pretty sweet and usually mellow but at least once a day his alter personality comes out and he becomes a mean, lean biting machine! So Jim and I are growling and hissing at him, stomping our feet, clapping our hands...anything we can think of to make him stop biting. Occasionally he latches onto our leg, trying to bite our feet. We look pretty silly trying to walk while dragging a cat along!

May 21, 2010: Welcome aboard to our newest crew member! Last weekend we visited the Orcas Animal Shelter and took a shine to a beautiful blue (gray) male. The shelter said he was a stray and believed him to be about 2 years old. I was really hoping for a female this time, but this gray cat came right up to us, demanding to be petted. We played with him, picked him up, petted him and decided we'd like to bring him home -- he was an equal opportunity cat! The shelter called him Clay, but we will rename him. As I write this, he's been on board for 2 1/2 hours. He's still exploring the boat, but took time out to eat some canned cat food (the shelter does not serve canned food), told us he loves catnip and, in fact, hid the catnip mouse in the forward v-berth! Then he hopped up on the settee between us and purred with delight as Jim and I took turns petting him. He tolerates having his stomach rubbed. We are hopeful that we'll come to love him as we loved DC and Jerry. So far he seems pretty mellow and appreciative. We'll wait a week or so before starting the engine -- don't want to freak him out just yet!

Update on the electrical: We're still waiting for the bedroom and library heating units and Jim has the office about 85% wired. Then comes the task of hooking all the wires to the circuit breakers!

May 11, 2010: The inspector signed off on the plumbing inspection -- woo hoo! One milestone down, 1000 more to go! Jason did the inspection; he's the inspector who Jim has been working with since last Sept. Because Jason and Jim have been working closely together, Jason barely gave the plumbing a second glance. Jim had been sweating bullets the night before and wanted to say, "Look, God damn it, check SOMETHING!" :-) Work on the house is moving forward slowly these days; the fireplace is sitting in pieces in the dining room, the house is 98% wired (waiting for the bedroom & library heating units to arrive before wiring for those), and the wiring has now started in the office.

May 5, 2010: Cinco de Mayo -- NOT celebrated in Mexico! Leave it to the Americans to use any excuse to party! I received an email this morning telling of a classmate who had passed away. That got me checking out the In Memorium page for my high school and I was amazed at how many of my classmates are now deceased. Some of them I knew about; many I did not: the first boy I kissed, the girl who sat in front of me for years in home room, the boy we doubled dated with to the senior prom, the girl who could sneeze a hundred times (I think she was faking her "achoos", but it got the class going), etc. What a depressing way to start the day... On the other hand, though, I hadn't thought of these people in years, and the memories were all good ones. May they all rest in peace.

April 30-May 2, 2010: Jim had the boat cleaned up and almost ready to go when I got off work. As we made our way up West Sound, we looked at the settee and commented on how empty it looked without our crew in their position. :-( Several porpoises swam by us as we turned into Harney Channel from West Sound. We dropped our anchor in Blind Bay on Shaw Island. Bob & Gail (Endeavor) arrived shortly thereafter and rafted off us; drinks and dinner were on their boat. They had a 4-legged crew member on board, Sammy Toad, a 3 year old tuxedo cat. Sammy took a liking to Jim and Jim had tears in his eyes as he held Sammy. After breakfast on Sat., we followed Endeavor south through San Juan Channel and then up the west coast of San Juan Island, hoping to spot orcas. No orcas...only choppy waters from a small craft advisory! We pulled into Reid Harbor on Stuart Island late in the afternoon. This time we let Bob drop the hook and we rafted off them. Drinks and dinner were on Manana. Sammy Toad joined the party and took great delight in exploring our boat. He eventually made himself at home and went to sleep on our bed -- how normal he looked! We tried to talk Bob and Gail into leaving Sammy with us at the end of the evening, but to no avail! The winds were predicted to pick up during the day on Sun., so we left the anchorage around 1000 and were greeted with very rolly, choppy seas and 15 kts of wind. Had an uneventful trip back, with waves smacking us on our starboard beam. The wind died down by the time we got to West Sound; Jim made a perfect docking -- just like we knew what we were doing! It was good to get away from the dock for a couple of days. We were rusty in our procedures (forgot to put the ensign out when we left, forgot to pull it in Sat. pm, etc), it took us a couple of tries to remember how the electronics worked and our sea legs weren't all that steady. Still, we decided we need to do this more often than once a year!

Today was also Opening Day for our yacht club. We had volunteered to help out with the cooking and cleaning, thus giving us an excuse not to decorate the boat! It was just as well because it was cold, raw and wet outside. Considering the crummy weather, there was a very good turnout of about 100 people. Returned to the boat at 1645 and collapsed!

April 28, 2010: Cruising friends who we met in Mexico arrived today. They are on their way to Alaska. Stephanie, sweetheart that she is, made a pit stop in an Anacortes quilt shop and arrived with several beautiful pieces of fabric for me. We gave them a tour of the house; it's come a long way since they saw it last September! Then we had dinner at P&B's -- lively conversation and the evening went way too quickly. I dropped them back at their boat around 2115. Hugs, kisses, wishes for a safe journey, etc. We'll look forward to seeing them on their way south in late August.

April 26, 2010: Jim has started blocking Mondays off to work on the house. To that end, he was able to replace the 2 bedroom windows, remove the 2 windows in the library and reframe them. The plan was for me to go to the house after work to help install the windows, but he was way ahead of me, so the only thing left was for me to help him install the windows in the library. A good day's work, even if it was senseless.

April 25, 2010: Not a good day; woke up in tears missing my orange boyz SO much that it hurts. I seriously doubt that I'm going to be able to hold out until we move into the house. And speaking of house, Jim spent quality time yesterday installing the hurricane clips that hold the roof to the framing members. Can't honestly say I remember when the last hurricane hit the Pacific Northwest, but it's code. And today he removed the two bedroom windows and reframed the openings. Again, this is code -- a fireman in full gear needs to be able to climb in your bedroom window. It doesn't matter that maybe the window can't be reached from the ground; it's code. And it doesn't matter that Sheriff Bill has told everyone to lock their windows to keep the Barefoot Bandit out; it's code.

April 18, 2010: It took a trip to the locker, a trip to the pet shelter, 5 loads of laundry and lots of dusting and vacuuming to make it appear that there have never been cats on this boat. Amazing, in the saddest sense of the word. We donated the kitty litter and dry cat food to the pet shelter. They had one big orange guy, but he was 11 years old and neither Jim nor I are ready to do a senior cat; at least not right away. And they had a room with 4 kittens who had just left their mom the day before. The workers invited me to go in, but I knew if I held a kitten I'd come home with 2, if not all 4! We put our name on a list for 2 orange kittens but were told they are a popular item. So I'll wait, as patiently as I can. Maybe some stray will come to us (it happened once). If it does, that will be our sign.

April 12, 2010: In loving memory of Jerry. Unfortunately he only bounced back part way and never did gain control of his bowels. It was a very tough decision to make, and part of me wanted to give him one more week. But deep down inside I knew that Jerry was not living a life full of quality or dignity, and if I'd given him one more week and he still hadn't rallied, then all I would have done was given him an extra week of misery. On the other hand, had he rallied....best not to go there. So now he is buried out in the copse behind the house near DC -- not too close as DC liked his space! But Jim and I will be able to look at the trees and remember our two orange boys. Wow! It's been 29 years since we've been without a cat. Neither of us can remember exactly how long it took before we got Mittens but we think it was only a week into our relationship! Jim's off island for the next several days and I'm alone, truly alone, on the boat. I'm filling the void with a glass of red wine and Susan Boyle. And the only thing that comes to mind right now is, this sucks. Pet lovers will understand that DC and Jerry weren't just our cats, they were our children. And for any family to lose their two children in a 3 1/2 month span, well, it's just mind boggling.

April 10, 2010: Well, Jerry's still with us, but I'm not sure if that's good. It's been an emotional roller coaster ride with him rallying and being the "old Jerry" (for less than a day), to his bowels giving way to constant ooze. That is what I came home to last night -- yellow sh*t everywhere; in his basket, on the back of the settee, the pillow cover, the settee cushion, the floor -- everywhere! I wanted to cry! (The benefit of having a sinus infection is that I can't smell it!) We only have 3 towels on the boat and those were soiled so I started using dish towels. Ultimately we gave him a warm water bath, which he tolerated rather well. Once his bottom was clean, we could see he had a very raw rectum, and the oozing began again. At our wits end, we called the vet, who prescribed a tsp of Pepto Bismol to firm him up. The vet didn't sound too encouraging about Jerry, and is off island for the weekend, so he told us to either hang in there for the weekend, or take a trip to America. We put Jerry in a large box with a couple dirty towels, some food and a bit of kitty litter. We shut the door and went to bed. We were afraid of what we'd find this morning! Jerry warranted another warm water bath, the box was trashed (no surprise) but the oozing seems to have stopped and his color is normal. He's very thirsty and weak, but hopefully he'll bounce back during the day. Unfortunately I'm working today and afterwards, I MUST get to the laundromat. It's been 2 weeks and we're out of clean clothes.

April 6, 2010: Brace the heart and prepare the brain...here we go again. Jerry (age 14) has been sick for the past several days, so I brought him into the vet's. He's down to just over 4 lbs and the doctor concluded that Jerry is "one very sick cat". He drew blood and then gave him fluids and a vitamin B12 shot. Test results will be back on Thursday. In the meantime, we're supposed to hope that the fluids kick in and make Jerry feel better. If they don't, it could be an indication of kidney failure. We're still trying to come to grips of DC not being on the boat; I'm emotionally not ready to lose Jerry.

April 4, 2010: Happy Easter! Haven't posted anything in a long time because there's been no action on the house. Jim has been up to his eyeballs with Starfish Marine work; we've decided to ride the financial wave for as long as it lasts. The Encanto clan drove up from San Francisco so we drove down to Seattle on Friday. The Northwest got hit with a horrible storm and had it not been for the fact that we had one night to see our friends, we would have stayed home. Borrowed Peter's van and shopped our way south. Spent Friday night catching up with our friends at Judy's sister's house and we left early Sat. morning. Had a picnic lunch at the Cap Sante lookout in Anacortes -- beautiful scenery and to add to the beauty, an eagle soared in front of us. Spent a couple hours at the Anacortes quilt show. So many beautiful quilts that got the creative juices flowing! Returned to a very cold boat around supper time; the power had gone off at some point and the heaters were off -- brr! I've come down with a cold and Jerry threw up numerous times during the evening. No sleep for the weary!

Feb. 28, 2010: The Barefoot Bandit strikes yet again! These days everything is being blamed on him, including the break-in at the ACE hardware store at 0530 this morning. The owner installed a security system after it was broken into last Sept. (supposedly by the Barefoot Bandit); the alarm went off and the burglar scooted out of the store empty handed. Police from Whatcom County arrived with their search dogs, parading around Eastsound looking for him. A helicopter flew around the island for several hours. Per the norm, he wasn't found. He has developed quite a large cult following, so one has to wonder if he's being aided. On the other hand, Orcas has more than its share of McMansions owned by out-of-staters who are only here during the summer, so he could be living the life of Riley in one of these remote homes. All three Seattle TV channels were on island with their big vans and cameras. It certainly was an exciting weekend!

Feb. 27, 2010: The tsunami that wasn't. The 8.8 earthquake in Chile set off a tsunami advisory for the Pacific Northwest coast. The Coast Guard radio kept saying that the first wave was expected to hit Neah Bay at 1507 and Port Angeles at 1544. We didn't know what to expect, so Jim started Manana's engine at noon, just to be on the safe side (she started right up...good girl!). I got off work at 1500 and headed to the boat, where we continued to monitor the radio and wait. The Coast Guard never did cancel the advisory, nor did we feel any distinguishable surge.

Feb. 25, 2010: Our neighbor, the contractor, stopped by the house today, rather apologetic. He's been staring at our house for several months now, wondering if our bedroom windows meet the "egress code". Jim measured the windows and then checked the code...and no! they don't meet code!! It's amazing that the architect screwed up with the design, the plan reviewer didn't catch it, nor did Builders Alliance, the lumber company that we sent a set of plans to for bidding. What to do about it was the next question; do we continue on and keep our fingers crossed that the framing inspector doesn't notice, or do we replace now? After much information gathering regarding new windows, and much thought, we've decided to change out the windows now, before Jim gets much further along with the wiring, etc. New windows one foot longer will cost about $650 (only 1 window in the bedroom needs to be larger, but we think that it would look funny to have 1 large window and 3 smaller along that side of the house). Jim had purchased Convectair heaters for the two rooms, which now will have to be returned because they will no longer fit. Should we spend extra money for different sized units or put base board in? I suspect the base board will win. We'll sell the current windows and hope to recoup some of the cost.

Feb. 13, 2010: Today was the Winter Shaw Classic Race with the Orcas Hotel being the race sponsor. The Sailing Instructions state that the only rule is to keep Shaw Island to starboard, and don't hit it! Jim volunteered to head up the race committee with friends Chris & Lynn. Betsy & Ian were racing, so that left me to watch the marina :-(. The race had to be postponed 10 minutes as a ferry was in the way, but they had a clean start at 10:10. There was good wind and it was a fast race. I admit I was feeling a bit put out because I got stuck working, but just before noon, I saw a sailboat at the head of West Sound Bay, so I hailed the Race Committee and gave them a heads up, which they appreciated. I continued to hail them as boats came into view. Dinner and the award ceremony began at 1630. The nice thing about being Race Committee is that dinner is free. We didn't hang around too long...there's something about racers and beer. Anyway, being old fogies, we decided to come home and spend the night on our individual computers with Jerry curled up between us. Isn't that sweet?

Feb. 11, 2010: Oh no! The "Barefoot Bandit" is back...or is he??? Last summer, a juvenile delinquent visited the islands. While here, he robbed several stores and restaurants, stole 2 boats and 1 plane. He was caught on a security tape stealing from the grocery store, barefoot; thus his nickname. This young man is cocky, to say the least; he took a self-portrait for all to see who he is. And he is smart, having taught himself how to fly by watching a DVD -- he hasn't quite mastered the art of landing, but he has yet to kill himself. After a period of time, he stole a plane back to the mainland, where he has continued to steal and elude police. How he has managed to blend in is beyond me as the kid is somewhere between 6'3" - 6'5", depending on which news article you read. I mean, how does someone that tall blend in?? On Thursday the marina received a call from the Chamber of Commerce -- a stolen plane was found abandoned at the airport (evidence showing it had a hard landing) and Home Grown grocery store had been broken into. The security system was wrecked, money was stolen and the dessert case vandalized. Whoever broke in had the balls to draw the outline of big bare feet on the floor with a "C ya". Of course, the law enforcement decided the Barefoot Bandit was back. This time the Sheriff was smart enough to contact the Chamber, who contacted its members, who contacted their employees, etc., etc., etc. Everyone on the island is on alert, looking for a tall, skinny teenager. We know who we're looking for, thanks to the self-portrait! The only way this kid is going to get off the island is either by stealing another plane, or stealing another boat. To that end, West Sound Marina went into defensive mode.

So this gets my paranoid juices flowing...is the Barefoot Bandit really back or has this been staged by officials who want to make sure that they don't lose any funding? Thieves are a dime a dozen, but how many know how to fly a plane? And how many are into organic foods that they would break into Home Grown? The Sheriff has admitted that it could be a copycat, or perhaps life is just too slow on the island in February and someone wanted to kick it up just a notch. Who knows? I'll be surprised if they catch this kid; he's really good at making law enforcement look like bumbling idiots. But this is just my personal view....

Feb. 10, 2010: I participate in "Rate My Space" and spent last night looking at kitchen after kitchen, trying to get an idea for something we might like. Somewhere in the middle of the night, I woke from a bad dream...the dream? I was in a house that was filled with cabinets -- so many cabinets that I couldn't differentiate between rooms and I ultimately found myself (in the dream) shouting, "I live in a boat with 4 cabinets that hold everything we need!" LOL! This morning I told Jim we need to make a decision on the kitchen cabinets -- otherwise I'm going to go nuts (short trip)!

Exterior (duh):

Interior (double duh) - L-R: Living room, Dining room, Kitchen, view from breakfast bar & Bedroom

Feb. 8, 2010: Hooray! Pictures at last...I know, I know...it's about time! The house has come a LONG way since I posted pictures last November. The house is now (almost) totally wrapped in Tyvek that rattles when the wind blows. Just have a little bit left to do on the north side wall.

Interior shots: It's hard to get a good shot of the living room with only the studs in place. There will be a front door (door #2) from the living room into the vestibule (the header is visible); in this picture, you can see door #1 (with glass), which is in the vestibule (7' x 8'). The messy shelf on the left of the photo is currently Jim's staging area, but is actually covering up the hole where the fireplace will be (see left exterior picture). The dining room is self explanatory -- lots of light from windows and doors, as well as a 4' x 4' skylight in the cathedral ceiling, which I couldn't get in the picture. The big box is my bath tub. The kitchen presently has the scaffolding in it; you can see through the studs to the back of the house. Those windows in the back are really the windows in the library. The kitchen has 2 windows that look out to the meadow next to us (a meadow complete with 2 cows). Yeah, it's going to be rough looking at that every morning (you can see the brown cow w/white head in the photo)! This picture was taken from where we expect the bar stools at the peninsula to be located. The kitchen sink will be located in front of the left window. And finally, there's Jim (aka Mr. Starfish Marine, Mr. House Builder and Mr. Mom) in the bedroom installing electrical boxes. The smaller windows face P&B's house, which is to our west, so we put the smaller windows in for privacy and to minimize the incoming hot late afternoon summer sun (we're being optimistic). The other 2 windows look out at the barn. You enter the library from the bedroom.

The fir flooring has been ordered, as has the bathroom's tile warming system and bathroom fan. Jim talked to the mason and decided to buy the fireplace box. The second bid for the insulation came in -- $1,000 more than the first bid. And the Convectair heaters for the bedroom and library are also order.

Fabric Challenge Block

February 5, 2010: February already...where did January go to? I spent the last 4 days of January at quilt camp with 56 other ladies. I brought several smaller projects with me: matching napkins to the place mats I made in October, an 18" wall hanging of batik goldfish in a goldfish bowl and a 48 x 48 table topper. By the end of the weekend, the napkins were finished, as was the top of the table topper. I thought I'd be able to finish the goldfish project too, but the pattern calls for narrow strips to be cut on the bias. I did that but then couldn't get them to behave so I could press them (they kept twisting). However, they are small enough that I can fight with them on the boat! Re the picture above, we were given a piece of fabric (in this case, the bottom "dark brown dotted") and told to make a 12 1/2" square block. This was my entry, using a pattern out of a Fons & Porter magazine. Lots of fun to make, but alas, I did not win. :-(

An update on the house: the plumbing is 100% finished and Jim has started the electrical, installing outlet and switch boxes everywhere. Jim has borrowed our neighbor's scaffolding, which is making installing the can lights in the high cathedral part of the ceiling easier. The remaining two exterior doors were installed with our neighbor's help; all door knobs & locks are in place. Jim met with a local mason, Steve from Hot Rocks (www.hotrocksmasonry.com) regarding the fireplace -- it appears that the price of a Rumford or a ready-built box will be about the same. Obviously the box will be much quicker to install. Since Jim's the one who wants the wood burning fireplace, I've left the decision up to him. Overstock.com is quickly becoming my best friend; so far we've purchased a door mat (red w/monogram "M"), a cabinet for over the toilet and the kitchen faucet. And from LaFuente.com, we purchased some Mexican tiles that coordinate with the bathroom sink we bought in Zihuatanejo and a tin mirror. Deciding what we want is overwhelming; we have an idea of what we want but when we go to the Big Box store we quickly get into sensory overload. We now look at stuff online and say, "I like it, do you like it?" If the other party says "yes", we buy it. Simple and done. There is absolutely no opportunity to physically check out any type of home improvement item on island, and we rarely go off island. So we're buying these items with our fingers crossed, hoping that the quality is good. The nice thing about Overstock.com is that shipping is only $2.95 for anything you buy (unlike LaFuente where we're paying $27 shipping for the mirror). And finally, another neighbor gave us a free computer desk and a vintage table (painted pink).

Jan. 24, 2010: We made a locker run and then fueled up Peter's van. Gasoline on Orcas is $.75/gal. more expensive than it would have been in Anacortes -- oh well! Jim's in the process of figuring out the electrical needs and having a couple of outlets on the floor in the living room would be nice. To that end, we decided to measure our large wool Oriental rug. As Jim was pulling it out, he wondered how it had gotten mud on it; we quickly realized that it was not mud, but had been attacked by moths. So he carried it to the house and unrolled it in the living room so we could see 1) the size and 2) the extent of the damage. Unfortunately there were lots of holes throughout the rug and it was also too big for the space. Having it damaged was really a let down as this was a very beautiful and expensive rug. Jim swept the loose fibers and measured it -- 9 x 12. Then we measured the bedroom and determined that the rug will just fit. We'll cover the holes with furniture and call it good. Having it repaired is possible, but financially, it's not something we can do now. We have several other Oriental carpets and it's possible that those, too, have been affected; however, I can't remember if they were made out of wool or acrylic, so I suppose we'll need to drag them out to the house to check them over.

Jan. 23, 2010: We borrowed Peter's van and went to Bellingham on the 7:15 am ferry on what I called a "fact-finding mission". Our list of errands was easily a page long -- Freddie's, Trader Joe's, Village Lighting, Home Depot and Re-Store. Going up and down the aisles at Home Depot was beneficial. I've been looking at items on the internet, but there's no substitution for seeing things in person. Then to Re-Store, which specializes in used home building items. Jim found an ash shoot cleanout door and we found a virtually brand new 6 panel bifold for $12. Next stop: Village Lighting. We spent at least 45 minutes with a lighting specialist, who helped us figure out the best way to light the interior, given the fact that we're dealing with vaulted ceilings in the majority of the house. Enjoyed a delicious and affordable lunch at Boundary Bay Pub before heading to Trader Joe's and finally Freddie's. We decided not to fuel up in Anacortes and made it on the 5:55 pm ferry with 10 min. to spare. If we'd missed that ferry, we would have had to wait an another 2.5 hours, which neither of us wanted to do. All in all, a productive, but very expensive and tiring, day!

Sunrise in West Sound

Jan. 19, 2010: Thought you'd enjoy a picture I took last week -- this is sunrise in West Sound. This is a real photo; the colors have not been enhanced!

Jan. 18, 2010: Another storm like the other night, but this time we clocked the winds at 42 knots! Once again, Manana was rockin' & rollin' in her slip. Jim got up at 0300 and put the wine bottle in the sink so it wouldn't crash onto the floor. At 0500 the power went out. Who needs sleep? The power came back on around 0800 and the winds died at 1000. The sun came out a short time later and the day turned out to be sunny, warm and lovely!

Jan. 16, 2010: I finally got the hang of cutting snowflakes. We decorated the hall using blue and purple tablecloths (Babs' choice) and I put 5 snowflakes on each table. They looked great!

Jan. 15, 2010: What a miserable night -- high wind from the wrong direction. Manana was rockin' & rollin' in her slip; the piling was squeaking; the wind was howling. So much for sleep! I commented to Jim as we were having morning coffee that I didn't like this anchorage and thought we should move! I was VERY happy to have a reason to get off the boat. My sea legs definitely weren't with me, and even poor Jerry was feeling under the weather.

Jan. 13, 2010: We flunked snowflakes -- how pathetic is that? We (that would be the royal we of P, B, Jim & me) volunteered to set up the community center this Sat. Some couples who do set up make elaborate table center pieces; I'm not feeling that creative, but thought some white paper snowflakes might be fun. Babs provided scrap paper, which I cut into squares and marked with a design. Dummy me! I cut the wrong edge, giving me some very interesting snowflakes! Jim tried his hand at free cutting, and he, too, ended up with some very interesting snowflakes. We quit while we were ahead -- will try it again tomorrow night!

Jan. 12, 2010: House update: The waste side of the plumbing is complete with the vent lines through the roof. Jim pressure tested the waste lines and discovered a small, slow drip in the pipe under the house, which will have to be repaired. GRRR! But overall he was pleased because he hasn't done any plumbing work in ages. The hot water tank is mounted and in its permanent home in the crawl space, in between the kitchen and dining room. Work on the fresh water side of the plumbing has begun. Received a quote for sheetrock from the 2nd contractor; this one is $2000 less than the one we received from the 1st contractor; we're still expecting one more quote. The contractor who bid for the insulation stopped by to see the construction status. Jim told him he's hoping to be ready for insulation by the end of Feb. No pressure here, Jim -- you have 6 weeks to finish the house plumbing, wire the office and the house, and install the fireplace! I know I'm overdue for posting photos, but with all the rain we've had, the yard is a soggy pond. We're going to have to figure out what to do about that -- in the meantime, I'm not going to traipse around in the mucky mud!

Jan. 1, 2010: Today was P&B's annual pizza open house. Fewer people than in the past and that may be because they included a 3" invitation in with their Christmas card. Next year they will revert back to their prior invitation. Jim & I held an open house of our own, giving tours and soliciting comments about our house. We received positive comments (but what friend is going to tell us our house sucks?); the only odd comment was from an ex-realtor who suggested we needed a "guest toilet". As I pointed out to her, the bathroom is centrally located and guests do not have to go through the master bedroom to access it. I would much prefer my guests to walk an extra 20 footsteps to our one and only bathroom so that I can keep our coat closet. Peter's suggestion was when we (ultimately) have our open house, we should rent a port-a-potty and stick it outside the front door with a "guest toilet" sign on it! :-) I knew there was a reason I love Peter!

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!

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