Thursday, December 30, 2010

One last look at Christmas

boat1 127, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

I did not even want to put up a tree this year. We have so much going on trying to get the boat ready, figuring out what to keep, what to sell, what to toss, keeping up with a now mobile baby etc. that it just seemed like yet another task. Maura took great offense at this. She felt very strongly that it wouldn't be Christmas without the tree.

Maura convinced Mark to allow her free reign over the Christmas decor. I came home to find the tree erected and decorated. Maura was thinking ahead and put only non-breakable plastic ornaments on the bottom 3 feet of the tree. All the pretty glass baubles were well out of baby's reach as were most of the lights. Well done Maura! Now if I can just get you to be so motivated to take the thing down...

I have to give Maura credit because the tree provided Kitty with much amusement. What could be more fun thatn endlessly removing the ornaments on the tree only to have your Mum replace them- over and over.

This is our last look at Christmas 2010. Here's hoping yours was merry and bright. Onward to 2011! And may the new year bring us all health, happiness and adventure.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Maura and Kitty Christmas 2010

Maura and Kitty Christmas 2010, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

Maura woke everyone up at 5:30 am. I had to tell her that there was no Christmas before 7 am. And certainly not before coffee!

We were very aware that we did not want to accumulate a bunch of stuff that we would have to get rid of once we move on the boat. There might not have been a lot of gifts, but the kids were thrilled all the same.

Kitty received a lavender stuffed Ginger cat ( to help her sleep!), a carton of plastic eggs with little chicks inside, a baby tool bench and a chatter phone. Yep, the same chatter phone you had as a kid. She loves the phone, though I did realize that she has no reference for it. The only phone she has ever seen is a cell phone.

Maura received an art kit, 2 games for the Wii and the Mother of All Christmas Gifts- Rebecca Rubin from American Girls. If you do not have a daughter in the 5-13 year old range, you do not understand how coveted these things are. Maura has desperately wanted one for several years and Santa finally came through for her.

We had a great, if quiet Christmas. Kitty was more entranced by the paper and ornaments hanging just out of reach than anything and Maura's dreams of Rebecca came true so everything else sort of pales in comparasion. I'm pretty happy that the kids have learned that more is not necessarily better and one really wished for toy can absolutely make your Christmas thrilling.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Kitty's First Christmas

Kitty's First Christmas, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

Maura thought Kitty would look more festive in her pajamas on Christmas morning with a hair bow. You can tell how thrilled Kitty was by this and by the grown ups who thwarted her attempts to touch the flickering candles. "You people with your no, don't touch and this ridiculous thing on my head". The candles were lit for approximately 10 minutes before we decided it was cruel and unusual to tempt her so.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Christmas to all!

Fiona Christmas 005, originally uploaded by CidnieC.
We missed seeing Santa and his reindeer in Kemah. Sadly, duties and our wonky schedule prevented us from heading back to Santa before his schedule got a bit tricky. That's a fairly typical occurrence for us. We aren't so good with time tables and schedules.

Fortunately, Santa had a stopover in the suburbs and Kitty was able to pose for the requisite First Christmas portrait. Kitty either instantly likes people or instantly dislikes them. There is no in between with her. Santa was deemed to be A-Ok in her book though she was a bit put off by his elves. So long as the elves kept themselves at a distance, she was happy.

Maura is at an age where waiting in line to tell Santa what she'd like for Christmas pales in comparasion with being able to hang out with her friends discussing astronomy, Greek mythology and Justin Bieber. So its just the wee girl in this photo. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh these are the people in your neighborhood...

Let's face it, refitting a boat in preparation of cruising can get real spendy, really quickly. How is a normal person supposed to accomplish this without breaking the bank? The answer might not be blowing in the wind, but its probably lying under a blanket of dust in a dim corner of your local (or not so local) marine resale shop.

I spend about the same amount time digging about piles of used boat equipment looking for items on our refit list as I used to spend in searching out deals on cocktail dresses and shoes. (I used to be wedding coordinator, the splashy clothes were work related, I swear!) There are several great shops whose inventory I check regularly online. Then there is our local shop- .

Boaters Resale is a favorite for several reasons. First and foremost, when youclimb the steps up to the "show room" you are greeted by Doree the dog. All good, salty shops must have a dog in residence. Likewise, no bookstore is worth your time unless there is a cat in residence. Scruffy, fierce little dog- check.

The next requirement is that items must be grouped by type. I've been in plenty of resale shops where everything is randomly put into piles. Yes, Boaters Resale has piles but they are not random. Sails are stacked with other sails. Winches are with other winches, galley equipment,  foul weather gear, gauges, radios, radar, etc are all grouped together. You are still going to have to dig a bit, but at least you know where to start. Semi-organization- check.

The final requirement is that the staff be willing to help you if needed, but not get all up in your business. Also, the staff should not be wearing name tags, uniforms or insincere smiles. If you want that, go to West Marine and be ready to pay extra for this! The staff is friendly, but happy to let you poke around to your hearts content. Unobtrusive staff- check.

I've still not found the many items we are looking for, but the hunt is part of the fun. I'll continue to poke around the dusty shelves and give Doree a scritch behind the ears. If you happen to see a harried looking woman, digging through the shelves with Starbucks in hand, be sure to say hello. Thank you. I'll be here all year...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Kitty does her part

Kitty sleeps, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

During this week's work fest, we all did our part. Kitty helped out by being an easy, snoozy little baby. She did not complain that her bed was nothing more than a random piece of foam thrown into the pilot berth. She did not complain that her Dad was running loud power tools just 20 feet from her. She did not complain that it was cold. She did not complain that her Mom and sister were noisly tramping about the boat right over her head. She slept. Soundly.

Good baby.

Maura warms up

Maura warms up, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

Maura and I washed down the decks while Mark worked on the next bulkhead and Kitty slept. It was colder than we had hoped and we've not managed to wash the boat without getting ourselves wet as well. This means that Maura was cold, wet and maybe not the in the best of moods.

Being the kindly sort of Mom that I am, I told her to go below to warm up once we were done. I don't think Maura was impressed that every cushion has been removed from the boat while we work on the refit. Maura was a little less cold, a little less wet but sadly bereft of any cushiony softness upon which to repose.

Poor thing. Not only did she have to wash the boat, but she had to admit that her Mom was right when she told her to bring a warm jacket, wear socks and her boat shoes. Too bad that she didn't listen and had to learn through experience that cold feet, wet jeans and no heat are a less than fun experience so it pays to think ahead.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now that's a pretty chainplate!

Now that's a pretty chainplate!, originally uploaded by CidnieC.
All that is left to do on this chainplate is to match the antiskid deck paint. Mark built up an island of epoxy to help keep the bulkhead dry. One down, only 5 more to go...*sigh*.

No rotten bulkhead here!

No rotten bulkhead here!, originally uploaded by CidnieC.
This bulkhead is now free from rot, recored, reglassed, painted and ready to do its job- keep the rig UP!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Alligators and snakes and birds oh my!

I like going into areas where certain death awaits.
Not really, I'm more than a bit of a chicken at heart. Having grown up around the Gulf Coast, alligators and snakes seem par for the course for me. I used to go canoeing with a girlfirend of mine regularly on a nearby creek and we would hear the alligators when we got too close to their nests. We didnt panic, we just got out of the area quickly.

I try to keep in mind that you get used to what's around you and learn to adapt to your neighbor, even if your neighbors have sharp and pointy teeth. That doesn't help much when I consider Mark's desire to go to Australia some day. I am convinced that the entire continent of Australia is looking for a way to kill you.

I suppose if I can become mindful but not freaked out about gators and snakes (which terrify our friends from middle America) I can become comfortable with the idea of sharks, deadly bugs and tiny jellyfish that can cook your goose before you know what hit you.

Ok, I'm still working on that.

Bay Sunrise

Bay Sunrise, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

I managed to spend a couple of hours traipsing about the Bay at sunrise, which is one of my very favorite things to do. Usually there's no one about except the birds to keep me company. I kind of like it that way.

Waiting for Breakfast

Waiting for Breakfast, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

As the tide rolled in, the birds waited in the shallows for breakfast to arrive. This bird looked so pristine, I swear she was posing for me. She would angle herself every time I would move to present a better profile. Show off.

Bay Bird

Bay Bird, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

Doesn't he just look stern? All of the other birds were congregating as the tide came in to grab their breakfast. This fellow looked like the school bully- no one wanted to eat breakfast anywhere near him.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today we learn to varnish...

Table in progress, originally uploaded by CidnieC.
Maura was off with her cousins, grandparents and aunts and uncles enjoying a Thanksgiving holiday filled with laughter, fun, hot cocoa and pancakes. Back at the bay, we spent Thanksgiving working on the boat and boat related projects.

Our bayside house will eventually be our home base. Right now, its a staging area for projects and is furnished with a couple of sofas, a bed or two and lots and lots of tools. That's it. No tables, no internet, tv, curtians or any other furnishings. We didn't want to spend any real money furnishing what's really a work site, but we do need something to eat on and I do need to learn how to varnish on something that if it goes poorly, won't matter so much. So we purchased a birch door with the intent of sanding and varnishing it and attaching some Ikea legs to it. The end result will be that we have a place to eat and I will have the skill set to be turned loose on Ceol Mor's bright work.

We ate Thanksgiving dinner with some friends on a plastic covered slab of birch supported on saw horses with random chairs about it. I would like to point out that I managed to make a very tasty dinner with out burning a single item. Dinner was good because I did not make turkey. I've yet to cook a turkey that did not have the texture of shoe leather. I made a standing rib roast. Everyone raves about my rib roast. The thing is, you can not mess a rib roast up. You rub it with salt, pepper and fresh rosemary pop it in the oven at 300 degrees and leave it the hell alone for a couple of hours. That I can handle. I'd like to thank Mark for having the gas turned on at the house just for this occasion. No more making pasta in the microwave for us!

The day after Thanksgiving, it was back to work on the table. Sanding, staining the edges and more sanding. We are now ready for varnish. I am regretting not getting the varnishing done already. Having to entertain and care for a baby while working on a project will slow you down. My reason for regret is that Mark has made a friend at the marina who has a boat with "immaculate brightwork".

How did it get so immaculate? Apparently this chap has perfected a varnishing method that requires 20 coats of some epoxy type varnish, copious amounts of sanding and additional buffing of the finished bright work. As if the old method of varnishing and sanding wasn't time consuming enough, Mark has to meet the one guy in the marina who likes to over do things as much as he does and now has a "superior method" for me to perfect. Le sigh. I have never been so thankful for the limited amount of brightwork on Ceol Mor as I am just now.

My trusty lil sander

My trusty lil sander, originally uploaded by CidnieC.

Why are you using a hand held block of sandpaper instead of a much more efficient power sander you ask? Due to my tendency to be over enthusiastic about a project but not being 1/3 as meticulous as Mark I am not allowed near power tools. Hmph! No one is as meticulous as Mark. NO ONE!

I managed to get the sanding done without any blemishes, gouges or damage to the birch. This means that I will be allowed to use Mark's power sander in the future. Hurray!

I would like to point out to Mark that we have plenty of power sanders available in the shop and no, we do not need to purcahse another one and no, a power sander is not on my Christmas wish list. Yours will work just fine.

More sanding...

More sanding..., originally uploaded by CidnieC.

I'm laughing because Mark cracks me up. I was sanding away, getting the stained portions of the wood to a silky finish when Mark stated that I was making enough progress and doing a throrough enough job that I might actually be allowed to varnish the brightwork on the boat. This is funny because if he doesn't let me take care of the brightwork, it will never get done and if there is one thing Mark hates its messy brightwork on a boat. So with his workload, he has no choice but to turn it over to me. Me for the win!

Kitty watches the work and laughs...

Kitty watched my sanding efforts and found it something less than entertaining. She did enjoy watching the rain fall outside the window and listening to her dad's critique of my work. She laughs at Mark's directions in good humor just like her Mama.

Day after Thanksgiving- no one was sailing in this slop

I thought I might be able to slack off for a few hours and take some photos of boats out for a sail the day after Thanksgiving. We had such miserable weather- cold, rainy and just blech that no one was out. This shot was taken on Clear Lake. Galveston Bay was even choppier and yuckier. (Is yuckier even a word? Oh well, it is now)

My couple of hours of photography fun turned into a cold, miserable few minutes grabbing a quick shot while trying to keep the gear dry. I decided I would rather work in the heated confines of the house under the watchful eye of Captain Bligh than to stay out in this mess.