Archive for October, 2008

Velella (Maine Part III)

Friday, October 31st, 2008

We got our big chance to see how sailing with a baby would go down in Maine when we met up with our friends Jenni and Cameron on their boat Velella*. We met them originally in Baja when we were on the Time Machine, then sailed along with them in southern Mexico, meeting up again a year later in the Caribbean. The last time we saw them was actually a year ago in Oregon, when we went chanterelling.

In preparation, we bought Ronin an infant life vest (Pirates of the Caribbean theme!), which she hated the moment we tried it on her. While we went through all of the options in the Boat US store, the clerk poked his head around the corner to be sure we didn’t need help, or rather, to be sure he didn’t need to call Child Services on us for jabbing our poor child with hot pokers, which is what it sounded like we were doing. In any case, it was less than an auspicious start for Sailing With Our Little Monkey.

Jenni and Cameron use kayaks and never had a standard dinghy—a practice which has not only allowed them to save considerable space on their 30-foot sailboat, but made them a magnet for much unsolicited advice: “You’re going to want an inflatable with a motor—mark my words. 15hp at the very least!” Of course, they never needed or wanted a “proper” dinghy and so we took turns kayaking ourselves and the shocking amount of baggage we somehow had out to the boat, which was anchored near the jetty in Rockland. I perched delicately in the forward hatch while Jenni paddled, then Cameron ferried the empty kayak back and Joshua paddled out with Ronin in his lap. She pretty much screamed the whole way (starting the moment he put the life vest on; I doubt she even noticed she was in a boat). By the time Joshua neared the boat, she was sprawled stiffly across his arm and looking totally miserable. I of course ran about the deck snapping a bunch of blurry photos as they approached.

Once aboard, we took the hated life vest off and brought her down below to terrorize the resident kitty. She of course didn’t pay any attention to the cat whatsoever but her mere presence aboard was enough to put the cat totally out.

We left Rockland harbor and headed a little ways south to anchor out at a cluster of small islands—one inhabited by some commune folk, the other uninhabited but with an abandoned granite quarry and possibly some apple trees. Sailing in a monohull is VERY different from our lightweight little trimaran. Everything happens very slowly. At one point I dashed below to hold down the napping Ronin as we rode into a major tugboat wake; I fully expected the motion to launch her clear across the cabin but was amazed to discover that Velella only lolled drunkenly for a few seconds before coming to a dead stop, possibly sailing backwards for a bit, and then slowly continuing on course. Time Machine jerked and leapt at any and all wakes. Large swimmer? Hold on to your cocktail! Tugboat? We generally caught air. Crazy.

Ronin began to teeth in earnest pretty much the moment we set foot aboard and was more or less whiny and inconsolable the remainder of the trip. How wonderful for our friends! “She generally doesn’t just scream like this—well, except when she has to take a nap, or go to bed, or if we take something away from her that she wasn’t supposed to have, or if we try to feed her…” we told them and they nodded politely. We weren’t even sure she was teething really. For all we knew she was constipated, or still pissed about the life vest.

Anchoring was quick and once settled, we were nestled between three beautiful islands with the sun just setting and the sky turning red and drippy. I really miss this part of sailing. Arriving somewhere awesome, getting the sails and all the miscellaneous underway debris put away, and finally getting dinner started, maybe opening a bottle of wine. Decompressing after the sail, being still, relaxing where the wind isn’t pestering you, etc. Of course, our sail to the islands was neither long nor arduous so it wasn’t like we were in desperate need of decompression. But all the same, it was great to relax in the cockpit with our cranky child, sipping wine and basking in the luxury of having dinner made for us. We even coaxed Ronin into eating a few spoonfuls of pureed prunes.

Jenni and Cameron were so sweet and gave us the V-berth, which turned out to be GREAT with the baby. We stuck her in the middle and the V shape gave us plenty of room to lie clear of her flailing limbs. I slept better than I had the entire trip I think. I just had to hold onto her ankle to thwart any upward escape attempts. I highly recommend a V-berth for co-sleeping. Who would have thought?

We kayak-ferried ashore to both the uninhabited island and later to the commune island, which although privately owned, allows visitors to hike around provided they stick to the path (which is marked at every fork with a little sign, “Path.” I of course was on sharp lookout for The Commune Folk but they wisely stayed indoors. Better luck next time.

The uninhabited quarry island had an abandoned mining pit in the middle, filled with opaque orange-brown water. I believe I had my swimsuit on under my clothes, evidently I had something more along the lines of Jamie’s Pond. Ah well. One end of the island had stacks of enormous granite cubes stacked all over the place. It was pretty interesting and I wonder why they never ended up anywhere. We climbed on them and took pictures. On our way back to the kayaks, we found the apples, collected enough to make a pie, and then headed back to the boat.

I guess the boat trip drove home how awkward sailing can be with an infant. One of us would always have to tend to her so we would essentially always be single-handing, there isn’t really any really good place to put her down to just play on her own where we don’t have to worry about her falling or crawling into the engine compartment or something. It’s unlikely we would have an enormous boat where we could pad off one compartment for her to bounce around in. And the life jacket! Ugh. It obviously can and is done—and I even think we could figure out a system that worked for us—but I think it might be more fun to wait until she is old enough to actually enjoy it for herself.

The day we left, I noticed a pucker in Ronin’s gums. She was teething after all! We also learned the lesson of the prunes: it doesn’t take much, particularly if your baby was teething after all. We left Velella with a suspiciously clean spot on her cockpit cushion and Jenny and Cameron secure in their decision to never have children.

*Velella is for sale. We will miss seeing that blue stripped sail on the horizon.

Granite Tower

Sunday, October 26th, 2008

granite tower sculpture, dix island, Maine

Dix Island, Maine

It’s hard to tell the scale in this picture but the thing is about 20′ tall.

Wicked cute and some screaming too.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Tahitian dancing dress

Tahitian dancing dress

Behold the adorableness that is an authentic Tahitian dancing girl outfit sent to Ronin from my pregnant sailor buddy Antonia, who bravely puked her way into the wilds of the South Pacific, where tubs of Deep Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream are few and far between, and who is now living in New Zealand. (And who is also no longer pregnant, by the way.) Upon opening the gift I immediately started lactating over The Cute.

Tahitian dancing dress

Ronin was sort of crawling last night around, oh, 4:26am in her cradle. First she’d rock violently, making the structure squeak and quake, then she’d lift her butt into a ‘downward dog’ yoga pose a few times, and finally she’d crawl back and forth, all the while crying miserably with her eyes squeezed shut. We didn’t know whether to shrivel up and die from the horrific assault on our nerves or get out the video camera to record this special moment. In the end, Joshua crawled down to the foot of the bed to suffocate himself under the bedclothes and I got up and nursed her. She sacked back out shortly thereafter.

Ro in the BOB

While I’m bitching about sleep habits, I think I’ll chime in on this teething thing because I think it’s going to kill me. Half the time I can’t tell if the tylenol is even doing anything because she is still frantically screeching and generally behaving like a rabid animal. I went to the store today and picked up some Hyland’s teething tablets, which are basically chamomile, sugar, and monkey oil or some such. As far as I can tell, they are not working either. I sincerely hope the remaining 18 teeth all break through at once so we can be done already.

Another (non) bonus: with the teeth, I get bit. I don’t know how to discourage the biting thing; she just wants to tear into pretty much anything that gets near her face. My boob is of course NOT an appropriate teether. Hollering in pain, telling her not to bite me, and what the books say to do (mash her face into your boob so that her nose is covered and she lets go–I’m totally serious, that’s what they say) do not work. She finds it all hilarious and just bites harder.

Ronin and wire whisk

On the plus side, I have discovered a way to get actual non-milk food into the baby: a straw. She’ll suck anything down a straw. It’s quite miraculous. She still objects to spoon feeding the majority of the time but has finally figured out how to pick up food bits and put them into her own mouth. You would think this might be second nature, what with everything else she touches immediately going straight into the mouth. However, she just knows when something is food and when something is not and the thing that she wants in her mouth is the dirt clod/sock/pebble and not the pea/apple/sweet potato. But at last, she made the leap (or decision) and stuck a bit of freeze-dried pineapple in her mouth. And then more and more until she had a mouthful of dessicated fruit bits sticking all over. We’re working now on the actual ingestion of the food.

Ronin is surprisingly mobile for not yet really crawling (she only does that in the wee hours) and I’ve been working on “baby-proofing” the place. Basically I let her have the run of the room and everything she goes for, I take away and put in a higher place. I turned back around after putting the last of the floor debris (Joshua’s gnarly old slippers) on a shelf to see her gnawing on the corner of our iron bed. Also, what IS is about outlets that fascinate babies so? She spots these from across the room and just beelines right for them; today I saw her eyeing the flashing power strip with curiosity. Unfortunately, I think the likelihood of growing a second set of eyes in the back of my head is more realistic than making the entire apartment completely safe for a baby.


Nine month-old baby!

Monday, October 13th, 2008





Apple Pie

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

apple pie

About three weeks ago, we went to Eugene to raid Joshua’s mom’s apple trees (and her plum tree, and her baby pear tree which yielded four delicious pears, and her rhubarb, and the volunteer basil, and the local blackberry bushes, etc.) and we returned with probably fifty pounds of produce. I washed and froze six quarts of berries, a couple quarts of plum/rhubarb pie filling, and so far, three quarts of apple pie filling. We still probably have 20 pounds to go.

apple pie

[Deer hanging out under the plum tree.]

We have been making a lot of apple pies and here’s the recipe I’ve been using. I tend to prefer a spice-rich pie.


Crust (this makes a full top and bottom crust):
* 2.5 cups flour.
* 1 teaspoon salt.
* 2-3 tablespoons sugar.
* 1/4 teaspoon mace.
* 2 sticks butter.

Cut the butter into the flour mix (quickly), ball into two blobs and wrap them as flattened discs (quick! quick!) and get them into the refrigerator for an hour. Once I was lax on the speed and only refrigerated them for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. I was not in a pie waiting mood. The pie was good but the crust was a little tougher than usual.

* Lot of apples. Enough for a pie.
* 1/2 cup sugar–half white, half brown (the recipe I looked at originally said one full cup, which seemed excessive and I made the first pie with maybe 3/4 cup total. It was too sweet and even 1/2 cup is maybe excessive depending upon how tart your apples are).
* 1/4 cup flour
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon each allspice, cloves, and mace
* 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice

Mix it all together until apples are coated. Some prefer to precook the apples first in order to avoid the gap under the top pie shell or to make the pectin do something to the apple which helps it hold its shape when baking (I read something somewhere once…). Whatev. Doesn’t matter if you do or don’t.

Has it been an hour yet? Get one of the pie crusts out of the fridge! Roll it out and plop it into the bottom of the pie pan, load with the apples and stick back in the fridge. Now roll out the top part of the crust and stick it over the pie. Crimp edges decoratively, cut holes in the top, decorate as usual, brush with milk or egg whites, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, etc. Whatever you do.

Bake in the oven at 400 for 1/2 hour, then turn it down to 350 for an additional 40 minutes. My oven is tweaky–as a matter of fact, I’ve NEVER had an oven that worked properly–and so I have to do a lot of checking toward the end.

apple pie

[Perhaps a little overdone; I did not precook the filling in this one and had a gap under the crust.]

apple pie

[More pie! This one possibly a tad underdone but no less tasty.]

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell