Archive for 2009

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.

Alternate Reading

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

We’ve been pretty behind on the blogging lately so I thought I’d suggest some alternate reading. A couple of our friends have recently transitioned their sites to blog format and both are really great. You will remember them if you’ve been following here for long.

Sereia has just set off to circumnavigate New Zealand with an inexperienced deck hand. I’m curious to see how it goes and we’ll know because Antonia doesn’t gloss over the grit. I don’t think we’re ready but I recently caught Cheyenne browsing yacht world…

Whenever I think my boat is too small I think of BIKA. I’m not sure which I find more alarming; the lack of a depth sounder or the lack of a sink.

Chair Refinishing Project

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

We got this chair at a garage sale for $2. Aside from the disgusting stained seat, I though it was rather pretty. It is more or less sturdy (no wobbly legs) and made of what looks like mahogany—just needs a bit of sanding and some finishing oil. No problem!

We huffed it home and I took it apart to inspect the seat. It had four layers of totally disgusting fabric and about fifty billion disintegrating staples, which I pried out with a screwdriver. Joshua came to check on me an hour or so after I had started and was surprised to see me still bent over the seat-back, pulling bits of metal out and swearing (well, he wasn’t surprised about the swearing). Look at this fabric; can you even imagine the splendor of what once was? The mind boggles.

Here are the seat covers I removed, each more stained than the previous layer. As I picked broken-off staples out of the crumbling fabric, I thought about a lot of things. Ancient diaper leaks, spilled chicken juice, bedbugs; and I ask you: what sort of person picked out the striped yellow fabric and said, “Yes. This is the one.” It gave me the shivers.

Of course then I had to sand it. Because I didn’t have a vibrating sander (left it in Texas), we had to go out to the hardware store and buy one. Then I made Joshua bring home paper because I guess I used all the paper I thought I had at home, or else I lost it. Then I sanded and sanded and sanded out all those nicks and scratches and asked my dad for refinishing advice and discovered that I should sand at a finer grit so I resanded and resanded and with a tear in my eye had to ditch the sander and use my fingers and bent-up bits of paper and I sanded and sanded and bitched and griped about how easy it is to forget how much one hates sanding all those weird little nooks and crannies and that dry scritchy flimsy bits of paper. But then it was finished and I got to apply the finishing oil (I had to go to two different stores before I found the right stuff, naturally). Putting oil on wood is so satisfying, like creating jewels out of dust. I painted on the oil, painted on more and sanded it wet with really fine grit black paper, then wiped it off and painted a final coat the next day.

Et voila! I thought Ronin would dig the fish.

Soooo pretty. Totally worth all that sanding.

Chicken Walk

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

Not only do our neighbors have a penchant for home-grown vegetables, but they also seem to enjoy fresh eggs. In our immediate neighborhood there are at least six backyard chicken coops with two or three chickens apiece. Ever since Ronin learned what chickens said, we’ve made it a point to make the rounds of the visible coops so Ronin could look at all the bok boks.

A few blocks up the street we come to the first of the backyard chickens; Ronin actually does not let us walk past this alley without stopping to visit. There are three that live here and they pretty much have the run of the yard. When they see us coming, they usually cluster around the fence hoping for snacks.

Ronin pretty much picked out her outfit today.

The second coop we visited was not opened yet for the day and we couldn’t really see the chickens so we moved on to the third stop, a nice, easily accessible backyard coop with viewing windows.

Ronin discovered that if you run your fingernail down the dingy glass, it makes a sound that makes the mama’s head shatter. What fun!

And the chickens, also hoping for a handout. Every so often I have to prevent Ronin from poking her juicy grub-like finger through the chickenwire.

After I took this photo, the camera decided to totally break. It was bound to happen; five years of very heavy use and abuse. So, now we’re in the market for a new camera. Any suggestions? We’re eying the Canon G11.


Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

I actually have memories of fingerpainting myself. Unfortunately, those memories are not made up of feelings of excitement as my artistic self was awakened, of the infinite possibilities before me as I contemplated my paper and palette. Sadly, the memory brings back a fingers-on-the-chalkboard sort of cringe as I remember how it felt when you ran out of slimy paint and the thin skin on the inside of my knuckle dragged against the scratchy dry paper. I have goosebumps right now as I’m writing this; I’m not kidding.

Nonetheless, I decided quite suddenly the other day that Ronin’s brain was going to shrivel up and fall out her ear if I didn’t get her some Craft Projects immediately. Enter the fingerpaint. Maybe she’ll like it. Maybe it’ll be a mess. I’ll certainly use better paper than they gave babies back in the 70s. Plus, I’ll make pretty colors (I also remember the paints being dark drab colors: forest green, navy blue, burgundy, brown—bringing home papers with a slurry of blended green/brown/black smeared in the middle).

I found this recipe on the internet and cooked up a batch earlier this afternoon. Cooking it was fun—sort of like making cream of wheat where you stir and stir and stir for a million years and still it is just watery milk and then, suddenly, in the span of 15 seconds, all hell breaks loose and you suddenly have a pan full of porridge. Corn starch and water is a very curious porridge indeed.

After it cooled, I portioned it out into baby food jars and added food coloring. That was fun. It’s pretty thick with the recipe above so I added more water to make it a more paint-like consistency and stirred it all up with a chopstick. Even more fun, Ronin discovered the food coloring tubes and how to twist off the caps and while I was off neglecting her, she opened up the red, blue, and purple and squirted the stuff all over her hands. I was sort of flipped out and she repeated after me as I ferried the food coloring tubes out of reach “ssit ssit” (bad mama!).

The setup. All neat and tidy with cool and warm colors separated by dinner plate. I stripped her down and planted her in front of the paper.

Ronin tests the waters. Hmm. Colors pleasing… Paper smooth…

She was a little weirded out by the Stuff! on her hands!! It can be nice having a neat-freak toddler (she is a relatively tidy eater—partly because she doesn’t like to eat) but it is also alarming to take said toddler to the beach all, “BEHOLD: THE BEACH,” and have her totally freak out when a grain of sand gets stuck to her hand. She mellowed out a bit but I got her some tools anyway.

Palette knife and paintbrush.

Paintbrushes are for lamers.

Of course, nothing is better than simply cutting to the chase and eating the paint straight off your palette knife.

I’d say it was a success mostly. I’ll do it again at least despite the fact that food coloring does not just wash off of hands (or anything else) and her fingers are now stained purple-green-pink. Hopefully this fades quickly. I have to get better at ‘letting go’ as far as smearing paint in hair and eating it is concerned but I’m working on it. Ronin seems to enjoy the painting just fine but the real standout is getting to stack and rearrange the plates (between sneaking nibbles of turquoise or fuchsia), dumping the paper out on the grass and then arranging it back on the blue bin. And I sit back and dream wistfully that her future memory of fingerpainting will be happy, cathartic, and with zero spinechills.

Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell