Archive for October, 2009

I’m walking in dada’s shoes

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

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She continually surprises us with the length and complexity of her sentences. Although, it takes a special ear to understand and we don’t always get it on the first try (or the 2nd). It’s hard to catch it on video though because she usually stops talking as soon as the camera comes out.

The South

Monday, October 19th, 2009

The sign says it all. Needless to say, we did not eat here and our gastrointestinal systems were the better for it.

There are a lot of things wrong with this image. First off, may I state the obvious: biscuits, actually, do not have holes. Not even southern biscuits. Also, The South does indeed have doughnuts so this isn’t just a foreigner’s misunderstanding, like “biscuit” means cookie in Great Britain. I imagine that the marketing team was trying to come up with a new and exciting desert item, something to draw in the crowds.

“Doughnut holes!” said apple-cheeked Jr. marketing intern Billy. Of course, this enthusiastic outburst would be cut down by more senior members of the team, perhaps citing Hardee’s dedication to healthy, satisfying, alternative fare, not to mention, Dunkin Donuts and McFatso’s already offer doughnut holes on their menus. Hardee’s would need something new, something groundbreaking. A lively discussion might ensue about what healthy fare really was and if it was in fact what the average Hardees customer really wanted deep down inside (answer: eh, probably not). In the end, it was decided that bite-sized biscuits might fit the bill. Sweet ones! Or perhaps rolled in sugar and cinnamon, kinda like doughnuts, but totally not. And although it was unanimously decided that glazed sugar-rolled little biscuits would be even more delicious, perhaps a tub of icing on the side would be more exciting, and you know, healthier. After all, Americans love to feel they have choices. A deconstructed doughnut, if you will. The marketing team was pleased with the brainstorming session. Now all they needed was a catchy name. “Biscuit holes!” shouted Billy, thereby guaranteeing him a permanent position at the Hardee’s marketing headquarters and bringing forth a confounding epidemic of doughnut-shaped biscuits across the southern US.

People in the south are remarkably friendly but I sometimes wonder if there isn’t an underlying hint of passive aggression. Case in point:

Piggly Wiggly! We asked for english muffins and nobody in the store had any idea what we were talking about. The bagger lady wanted to know where we were from and seemed shocked when I said Oregon. I am guessing she had someplace more exotic in mind, Iceland maybe.

Anyway, we’re back home in Iceland now, basking in the rain and the overcast. Ronin was beside herself with joy upon seeing all her toys again but now she’s totally bored of them already. It may be a long winter.

Mississippi Locks

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

From where we got on the boat in the Tennessee River, we’ve come down a number of locks. It’s a much lower key affair than the Panama Canal locks (here with Adagio, here with Woodwind, Time Machine part I, and Time Machine part II). We simply call the lockmaster on the radio as we’re approaching, he gives us the green light, we drive on in and tie up. The most complicated it gets is when he requests that all hands on deck wear life jackets.

The above is the floating bollard we wrap our line around.

The lock doors are shut behind us and we are slowly going down.

All hands on deck in their life jackets (Nigel too!). I’m trying to persuade Ronin to let go of her nap so we can get a better picture.

Our “better” picture, sans nap.

HOLY COW. Nap replaced and baby cool.

Tennessee River

Sunday, October 11th, 2009

Gipsea, Tucker’s trawler is a little 30-foot thing but has about 50 times the interior volume of the Time Machine. Not only is there standing head room in all parts of the boat, there is refrigeration, a proper marine head, hot water, a SHOWER… It’s mind boggling really to take a hot shower on the boat. It is a great little boat. It is, however, a diesel boat that moves by way of a large noisy motor. When we shut the motor off for the day after anchoring, I always feel my body relax, unaware that I had been sort of tense the whole time the motor was on. I don’t know if it’s because of the noise or just because motoring on the Time Machine was often under duress and it always stressed me out a little to run the thing.

Ronin is handling the boat life well. We go to shore every day at least and give her some time to run around on the beach and she loves that. This is not ocean sailing by any stretch and the water is flat calm always, with the exception of wakes. She hasn’t even had to adapt to a rolling motion. We did get into a large lake right as some thunderstorms blew through. A captain of a tug going the opposite direction on the river told us, “it’s rougher than a cob there in the bay,” and frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had some chop and whitecaps and the radio mentioned tornado warnings (!!) but we found a little inlet to anchor up in and we waited out the storm drinking coffee spiked with rum. Now we are in the Tenn-Tom waterway in northern Mississippi, heading south. It’s very narrow but sort of boring; once we hook up with the Tombigbee river, it will get interesting again.

It was rainy and cool for the first few days after we arrived but it cleared up on the third day. Naturally, I bemoan the lack of beautiful weather but then gripe about having to wear sunscreen when the sun actually comes out. I am hard to please. It’s back to being rainy and overcast and today is actually rather cold. We’re heading steadily south though so presumably it should warm up again and I can bitch about something new.

Ronin napping in the V-berth; I block the edge of the bed with suitcases so she doesn’t roll off. I’ve tried desperately (in vain, probably) to keep her on Oregon time but I think Ronin runs on a 23.5-hour clock. She always wants to get up earlier and nap/go to bed earlier. Lately, she has been getting up at 6am before it is even light outside, demanding juice, bunny grahams, and her table (a little teak folding table that serves as her activity headquarters here on the boat) before calming down, accepting her nap back, and settling down to sleep a little more. Of course, she refuses to go back down on her own bed and instead, insists upon wedging herself up into my armpit. She usually goes back to sleep for another hour or so but I don’t usually get much more sleep. I don’t know if this is a bad precedent to make; she has never before slept with us. She never liked to cuddle and could never lie still, preferring instead to roll around and kick me in the boobs.

Much of our time underway is spent upstairs in the pilot house, which has a fully-enclosed little room and the best view on the boat. We wrapped the rails of the back deck with rope to create something of a net but it’s less stressful if she stays inside the enclosure.

She likes to sit up on the counter in the pilot house and try to push buttons when we’re not looking.

Nigel likes to be wherever Ronin is.

A particularly awesome anchorage. We got ashore just as the sun was setting behind the trees and everything was a beautiful golden color.

Cypress tree.

Texas Tennessee!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

We’re in Texas! [Edited to add: No we’re not! We’re in Tennessee now, on Tucker’s boat ‘Gipsea’ preparing her for the trip downriver and back home to Texas.] That of course does not explain the inexcusable absense of new posts recently… That can only be attributed by my general lameness. I feel like I am so busy but there never seems to be anything accomplished. Maybe a load of laundry done, maybe a trip to the store to get half and half (but forgetting the coffee filters). That is a pretty typical day for me now.

We had a reasonably decent travel experience, considering that we were toting along a wildly unpredictable little monkey in the throes of sprouting canines. It took all day starting the moment we got up in the morning (which, shall I say, is rarely a leisurely hour) and ending when we got to Tucker’s house in Rockport at 11pm. Happily, we had no screaming tantrums ON the plane nor did she poop on any of the unfortunate passengers we had trapped in the window seat. In the airport terminal however, she threw a whopper of a shrieking rolling flailer and bashed around in a blind rage practically in the boarding line. Prudently we decided to wait this one out instead of preboarding with the other docile, drowsy babies. Our fellow passengers danced gingerly around her, the whites of their eyes showing as they shuddered and sent off a plea to please please do not let this be their air travel fate. The ticket checker gave us the eye and bade us a solemn “good luck” as we wrestled Ronin down the chute. Miraculously, she stopped freaking out the moment she entered the plane and was relatively genial for the entirety of the flight.

[Jeff getting Quetzal (Condor 30) ready for the race.]

The day after we arrived, Joshua left on his father’s sailboat with the majority of the friends and relatives to Galveston for the Harvest Moon regata (offshore race from Galveston to Port Aransas) and I soloed with Ronin for four days at Grandpa Tucker’s house. Ronin did super well really, with only the usual antics. I had it in my head that I would try to potty train her when we were here because since it is so warm, I could just let her run about naked all the time. Unfortunately, Joshua’s grandfather’s house is carpeted (not to mention populated with thousands of antique, breakable, irreplacable, heirloom, valuable, delicate, and entirely reachable articles—but that’s another story) and I imagine that Tucker wouldn’t exactly be happy with mysterious puddles or unexpected surprises on his upholstery. I did take her for a long walk the other day after a norther came through (and the weather changed from hot, mosquitoey, and humid-humid-humid to deliciously cool and dry); I put a long T-shirt on her and let her run amok about the streets bottomless. When we got back to the house, we wandered around the downstairs garage area and I took her into the bathrooom, set her on the toilet, told her to pee, and SHE DID! I was so happy and made a huge to-do out of it, let her flush, did some celebratory dances, etc. We shut the lights off and exited back into the garage. As I was about to step down onto the main level, I spotted a … thing. It was scary looking and I bent closer thinking it was perhaps some freaky sort of bug larva. A big larva. It seriously looked like something that would mutate into a face-eating parasite and holy shit, I had better alert the authorities! Ronin came over to help me investigate. “Poop,” she said. And right she was. Somehow in the split second I left her alone she managed to poop in the middle of the garage floor. Oh well. I was still happy about the pee.

[Ro’s preferred spot for drawing. Between teething and solo parenting, I gave in and let her have her nap (the pacifier—she calls it the ‘nap’—which she usually only gets when sleeping) when she found it. She has been super manic about the thing lately and we have been trying to summon the fortitude to take it away from her. I will feel bad about it though; she is so fantastically happy when she finds it and pops it into her mouth.]

We had a good time hanging out with Grandpa Tucker, went to the beach every day to splash around in the water and play on the playground equipment, we went kayaking with Ann-Marie (Ronin promptly fell asleep on my lap), and had some good dinners with Tom, Ann-Marie, and Keely. Ronin was very excited when Dada and Grandpa Jeff came back on the boat. Sadly, they broke the main halyard about 50 miles from the finish and were having trouble with steering, so they didn’t finish and returned home. In addition, Bill (Wing and a Prayer) and John (Gimme Samoa) didn’t make it either. Bill’s motor broke en route to the start and John was dismasted during the start. They had wind on the nose the entire way up the ditch (ICW) to Galveston and then on the nose for the race back—that is, until they got the screaming norther at 4am and had to mince along all reefed up with the sideways rain stinging in their faces. I’m glad I wasn’t invited, let’s just say.

Ronin has totally turned into a little girl when we weren’t looking (actually, we were watching but it’s still rather mind-blowing). She sings and talks nonstop (often not coherent) and now that I got her some markers, she likes to draw on everything. (Before, we always had crayons but she doesn’t like to push very hard so her marks were always faint and unimpressive. Markers are dark and bold and she’s into that.) The markers are washable, which I think belongs in the Best Inventions Ever hall of fame since I’ve been washing marker marks out of everything lately. She’s tall and runs, not walks, everywhere.

[We got to meet cousin Danielle and Heath’s little boy, Hoss Roquette. He is eight months old and quite the big-eyed charmer.]

Anyway, now we’re on the boat in Tennessee. To get here, we drove nonstop all night long (Ronin dislikes car travel and so we decided it would be the least painful to do it when she was likely to sleep). It was mostly a success. We got here at any rate and she spent the day in a manic freak out (didn’t nap after the night of poor sleep), crawling all over the boat and trying to kill herself by flinging herself down the stairs to the V-berth. Today is better and she seems to understand that climbing up onto the rails makes everyone freak right out and she’s only fallen down to the V-berth once today. Now my major concern is that she’ll drop Nigel overboard. We fashioned a lifejacked for him out of a can wrap and he’ll wear that on deck when Ronin has to wear hers.

The weather is a startling difference from Texas; it’s been cool and drizzly. This is mostly tolerable but as a boat is generally a damp experience overall what with the water underneath, water being tracked in, water in the bilge, water trying its damndest to get into the bedding, etc., having water also falling out of the sky doesn’t make things any easier. So far everything seems to be in working order, including, I’m overjoyed to report, the head.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell