the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Friday, May 22, 2015

bowed, bent, broken

Once again, apologies for the delay in posting. Here's what's been going on, mostly in photographs.

My dockmate next door left so I moved into his slip to get a smidge more privacy. The engine still won't start, so I rounded up a slew of sailors more experienced than me and they moved me on the lines. I put the dodger back on, so the cats quickly gave their approval to the new napping spot.

The new view from the bow.

An obligatory selfie.

Pup dog was nervous about the finger pier.

Moving my cable TV and high-speed internet was a nightmare and left me 5 days "unplugged" from the interwebs. But--thanks to the old gods and the new--it was back up and running in time for Game of Thrones. The Comcast tech was a good sport having to get on the very tippy work float to repair the cable at the new slip.

Installing the portable air conditioning was a nightmare and it is no where strong enough to keep us cool. It's still hellish and 80 inside if it warms up outside at all. And naturally rain still gets in the port light despite all my creative efforts to stop it. I will probably have to get a window unit to help the other one (that cost my last $300) and just put it in the companionway. Meh. I can't leave the boat to work in DC and have the pets sweltering.

This set up was so-so. Then I tried venting to the engine room, which was a total fail. Back to the port light but with gobs and gobs of insulation foam stuff and duct tape. But it still doesn't freaking stay, keep the water out, or cool the boat enough. Can we just catch a break over here!?

I used a piece of plexi to make a rain shield but the problem is the water still settles in the sill and doesn't drain out. I've got a new plan for that to work on this weekend. But I did drill through the plexi successfully after earlier having an idiot guy try to show me a stupid way that would have cracked it. Now I feel I will be able to drill into my plexi temp hatch (that leaked buckets of water during a recent storm)... just takes patience and a brain, things that guy sorely lacked. There's a story to be told there, but quite frankly, he's not worth the effort so I won't.

Pup dog wasn't loving the new slip and boarding so I bought new mats for her since she's afraid to walk on bare decks. These still slip a bit, but are better, and very squishy (they are kitchen mats not door mats).

The smaller piece on the side deck kept sliding and apparently went overboard one day when the dog walker took pup out. C'est la vie. Pup is much more confident jumping to the finger pier since I nailed down some door mats, which were too slippery on the decks anyway.

Since I've become a dock queen against my will, I decided to embrace the suck and have a deck garden. I have a black thumb so the pink flowers already look sad compared to the photo. But I planted some zucchini seeds and have basil and mint.

The eisenglass on the bimini was cracked and yellowed, so I just cut it all out. Now it's just sort of a bizarre canvas skeleton.

I took a Mother's Day selfie with my fur-baby. I would've been a great mom; oh, well. I've got awesome pets so I'm blessed.

Basically everything on the boat is broken, and that now includes the fridge. So I had to put everything in a cooler. Now I'm trying to get by with block ice in the icebox but it melts so fast, is expensive, and probably doesn't keep things cold enough to be really safe. A guy has said he'd drop off a mini fridge but I've learned the hard way that there is only one person in the world I can rely on--moi

But, hey, my baby zucchinis are sprouting! Yay! I planted these seeds and now they are turning into real plants and I haven't killed them yet. Miracles happen!

The batteries are still not fully installed and the technician I hoped to have come work on that and some other projects doesn't respond to my emails (though I always paid him promptly and even offered cash). I'm trying to pay people and still they don't come through. I'm killing myself commuting to DC to work but it takes a week of work just to pay for the cost of the commute (bus fare + dog walking). Another week of work to pay for the slip. I can only get six hours of sleep a night with the commute/work schedule and no exercise, so I'm falling apart at the seams. Just impossible to make any headway. Somehow I have to get the boat in decent-enough shape to get out of here and get her somewhere more affordable and where there is potential to have a life.

I'm going to try to be better to myself. To go do some of the things I want to do and stop spending my little "free" time doing things I'm not excited about. So back to flying solo! Two bands I like are playing tomorrow night at two different spots downtown so I might just get all dolled-up and go out a bit if I can get enough done not to feel overly guilty. We'll see. 

Everything in my life seems to be broken, but somehow I manage to bend, and roll with it, and keep going without breaking. I'm not sure how, and sometimes I just get so tired. But every night I tell the boat how much we love her, how she has saved our lives literally and figuratively, how I am trying, how I am so sorry I haven't brought her back to her former glory. We just need her be resilient a little longer, to be patient a little longer, until we can breathe new life into her. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

close hauled

Sorry for the delay in posting... life has been hectic and I've been sailing upwind literally and figuratively.  I managed to get out for a sail on Easter... not on my boat but on a J/80 at a local boating club where a friend I work with is a member. We headed out again a couple weeks later. The wind was very light at first but kicked up as the afternoon progressed. I only wrapped the jib sheet counterclockwise on the winch once. Doh!

The big project I am thrilled about is the removal of the old RV HVAC unit from the cabin top. It was hideously ugly and so embarrassing. And I couldn't see over it when sailing. I can't afford the proper replacement hatch ($1049 for the Bomar 100 Series hatch on Defender), but I have a piece of plexiglass over the hatch as a temporary fix. The plexi didn't take well to the old 4200 we tried to use, but it isn't leaking and before I try again with black silicone I may see if someone can build a wooden hatch top without breaking the bank since the prior owners had left the old hatch bottom piece in place when they put in the air conditioner. Here are some photos of the old AC unit and my new temp plexi fix.

Of course I am currently without air conditioning which will become intolerable for me and the pets in about a week. I'll likely have to spring a few hundred for a portable room air conditioner and figure out how to vent it out a hatch without letting rain in. 

I also made it out fishing on the second day of trophy rockfish season. I caught the only fish of the day, a big girl just shy of 36". We ran 16 trolling lines, 14 off planer boards. For the fisherman: the keeper was caught on a white parachute on a tandem rig. 

I caught up with one of the charter captains from that marina and gave him my card. Lo and behold he called me a few days later asking if I could work charters this Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, but I had just picked up a project in DC and had to decline. I was definitely disappointed to turn down the chance to go out on another boat since every captain does things differently, which is a great chance to learn. And getting paid to spend the day on the water fishing is never a bad thing. Hopefully I will be able to sync up with him at some point this season when I am between DC gigs. 

The next project I began tackling was stripping the chipped, yellowed old Cetol off the teak. I hate the look of it and that it is all chipped and peeling makes the boat look shabby. It will be a labor-intensive, time-consuming job, but if I can knock out little sections for a couple of hours here and there I'll eventually get it all off and be able to start lightly sanding and then sealing the teak. I definitely do not see varnish fitting into my lackidaisical lifestyle and I actually like the soft gray of weathered teak, so I am thinking about using clear Semco sealant to give the teak some protection without changing the color. We'll see; I was all psyched up to knock it all out quickly since I wasn't expecting any projects in DC until mid-May, but I just picked up a small project and with the cost of all the boat projects I can't afford to turn it down.

This past Saturday I had my old batteries removed and new ones delivered. It was so worth paying for a couple of young guys to deal with removing the huge, heavy 4Ds! I was definitely maxed out lifting the new 6V batteries that are going in and those only weigh 64 pounds each. The battery box needs some work and the water pump is (crazily) installed right on top of the batteries, so my friend doing the install just hooked up two of the 6V batteries and the new group 31 dual purpose (i.e., high cold cracking amp and deep cycle) starting battery. We'll relocate the water pump, fix up the box, figure out a good strap system to keep the batteries from sliding around when sailing, and set the bank up properly. The four 220AH 6Vs will be two series that are then paralleled together to make one bank with 440 12V amp hours. Knowing it is bad for batteries to ever be drawn down more than 50 percent, that gives me a maximum electrical budget of 220 amp hours before charging, but I will try to avoid ever cycling them down that far. My single biggest electrical draw (outside of heat or air conditioning, which are only possible when hooked up to shore power anyway) is my 12V fridge, which draws 5 amps when running. In the heat of summer that could add up to as much as 120AH if the reefer is going 24/7. Power management is probably the hardest thing for people to adjust to moving aboard and so critical. Luckily I went into the process knowing that and never buy any electrical appliance without asking how many amps it draws (which always raises eyebrows with non-boaters). Here's a photo of one of the old 4Ds and then my shiny new batteries.

The battery replacement project was primarily driven by the need to get the engine to start. Unfortunately, when I tried to start her up yesterday it was the same sad sound of the starter just not making anything happen. So now I've got another mystery to solve and project to tackle. I just want to get her out of the slip! It's incredibly frustrating being a dock queen when I want to get her out as much as possible. As usual, I either have the time to work on the boat but no money for parts and labor or I am making money but have no time to get to the projects. I'm just trying to find a balance and plow ahead to make progress as best I can. 

Yesterday I went to the spring sailboat show. It was the first show in Annapolis when I could actually buy something. Every other time I've gone I'm broke. I usually buy one overpriced Painkiller from Pusser's and a couple of sail ties. This time I could spend up to $200. I was hoping to find a nice pair of flip-flops and a good foulie jacket a little lighter weight than my offfshore one. But the spring show is just so small there aren't very many vendors. I also went with friends who are boat-shopping, so we spent most of the time climbing on used boats for sale. I don't normally look at any of the boats at the show since I already have a boat and seeing fancier ones just makes me feel bad. But going with a group makes it much more fun. So all I ended up spending was a $5 tip at the complimentary Paladar rum and food tent and $12 show ticket. 

Lots of projects ahead and an upside-down hectic life as usual, but I still wouldn't trade it for the world. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

going nowhere

Apologies for not having written more frequently. There simply hasn't been anything good or particularly interesting to report. Being here is being in a state of going nowhere. Which is exactly what I don't want or need. I wanted to be leaving this place today, so feeling stuck here, in this nothing place, makes me feel hopeless.

In hindsight, Annapolis was not a good choice for me. I've accomplished nothing in my time here and simply continued the decades-long trend of every year being a little worse off than the last. For a time I felt this stop along the way was a necessary respite, a chance to get centered and heal after horrible relationships I finally escaped. But if that was the case I have long overstayed my time. There is no opportunity for me here, nothing to keep me here, nothing that even moves me to leave the boat any given day other than the the need to walk the dog. If only I'd had the sense to buy a boat and sail away seven years ago when I had the financial wherewithal to do it. But, alas, hindsight is always 20/20.

I am grateful nonetheless for the handful of good friends I made by coming north and for my beloved boat, which has saved me literally and figuratively. But the time to move on has come and gone and the migration must become a priority. Life kicks me around and I do get down, but the one constant in my life is my resiliency. And I guess deep down I wouldn't trade that for success, or money, or love.

The winter has been long but now spring is beginning to bloom. Gone are these eerie, foggy mornings with chunks of ice covering the Bay.

Once the ice thawed in the marina and on the creek, there were so many dead things floating by. Dead fish, dead ducks. As if surviving the disgusting polluted Bay wasn't hard enough, the winter had to stress everything just that much more, including me. 

Three months without work, particularly over the holidays, was rough and depressing. Gratefully a few projects have come through here and there recently. Nothing long-term or permanent, but nothing along those lines ever works out for this stridently independent gal anyway. I have to chart my own course or things quickly go to hell. If I can keep netting little consulting gigs here and there to keep fed and gradually get the boat in cruising shape, that's all I really need. The only reason to have money is for the freedom it buys. The stuff, the things, they are all a trap and an illusion. All I want is to be free.

I am close to being able to replace the house and starting batteries aboard, which is critical since I have been stranded in my slip since last February. Then come solar panels. I have some repairs to make for which I already have the parts but need to figure out how to do the wiring myself or hire some help, and I will need help getting the chart plotter installed. Then I need to remove the awful old HVAC from the cabin top and put on a hatch (about $500 for the hatch, ouch) and I could do to replace all the running rigging (about another $500). So, yeah, freedom ain't cheap. I love how people think it's inexpensive to live aboard because dockage isn't as pricey as renting an apartment. I just figure the people who make that comment have never looked at the prices at West Marine. 

From the "people suck" category: There is a house in Eastport that we sometimes pass on our walks and the owner kept a jar of dog treats out front for passersby. They were labeled "Puppy Pause." They were just a cheery, neighborly thing that made pup dog happy. But someone stole the Puppy Pause treats. Seriously? Do people have no sense of right and wrong any more? From little things like that to all the atrocities in the world, it's just disheartening that people are so mean and dumb. As one friend of mine says, "We've done too much to interfere with Darwin." Amen. 

So as if I didn't have enough projects to tackle, for which I generally lack funds, ability, or both, now my galley sink was clogged and while draining better, it is still slow. I'm not looking forward to taking everything apart again to try to snake it farther down the hose. I'm hoping that eventually the combination of treating it with boiling water and Super Digest-It will clear out the rest of the grease. I wish I could say I did the initial job my self, but I'd probably still be trying to get the damn PVC connections loose. No, I sunk really low and played the damsel-in-distress card and flashed a smile at a neighboring powerboater who took the pipes and hoses apart much faster than I could have. Here are some photos of the mess. When I let that grease go down the drain and it hit the cold temps it formed a perfect sealant with coffee grounds mixed in for good measure. Live and learn. Very stupid mistake that I won't repeat.

In other news, since I finally had a couple bucks to my name I headed for a haircut after five months since the last one. I chopped seven inches off my hair. The curls are so much happier and I may take a few more inches off next time. I want to say I was raised by wolves, but that would be an insult to wolves. But, yeah, it would have been nice to have had a mom to teach me girly things like that I have naturally curly hair that I have spent most of my life trying to make straight. Ugh. Anyway... I love the new cut and if I get it to dry with happy, bouncy curls I can even sleep on it and have it look presentable enough for a couple days. It seems like winter hasn't quite left us, but in Maryland it's pretty certain that I'll need air-conditioning within a month so having less hair to stick to me in the humidity will be pretty cool. My hair hasn't been this "short" in a decade so, as you may have surmised, this is a big change for me and I'm excited. And, of course, it'll grow back if I freak out. I may not be free yet, but trying to at least let my curls be. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

all clogged up

So... I have to admit to a major F-up with my galley sink. I put coffee grounds down the sink every day and know others who do as well, and in two-and-a-half years this has never been a problem. But last week I cooked up some ground beef that was 80/20 instead of my usual super lean 94/6, and I decided I needed to drain off that grease. And it just didn't occur to me in the moment that putting that grease down the galley sink was a huge no-no. I saw it start hardening in the sink and tried to wipe it up but too much had already gone down the drain. Very rookie mistake... I was just too caught up in my cooking and not thinking things through.

A few days later... the sink drained more and more slowly and for the last three days it has been fully stopped. I have poured boiling water and plunged, to no avail. I tried one of the other tips from The Boat Galley, baking soda and vinegar, but it just foams up into the sink instead of down into the clog. I won't have any cash until Wednesday, but then I will try to pick up some Super Digest-It enzyme-based drain cleaner that will, fingers crossed, eat through the grease. (Normal household drain cleaner will eat right through the hoses aboard so that isn't an option.)  
The PVC to hose connection looks to be on the permanent side, so I think if I have to disconnect them to clear it, I will have to invest in new hose and PVC... more of a project than I really wanted to add to my plate right now. I scooped and turkey-bastered all the water in the two sinks into a bucket and then tried the baking soda and vinegar concoction again, but if that doesn't help, I'll have to keep doing dishes in the bathhouse sink this week. Not fun. 

Yep, living the dream...

Monday, February 16, 2015

arctic blast

If you need any motivation to sail south, here it is. Even with one of my two little space heaters aimed into the engine room, this latest arctic blast has the water pump frozen yet again. It's been over 24 hours without running water and no end in sight with another storm coming tonight (allegedly 5-10 inches of snow coming overnight) followed by several more frigid days. (Anyone in Annapolis want to loan me a spare oil-filled space heater?)

The storm on Saturday night was awful, and stressed me and the pets much more than Sandy, which we mostly slept through. I took an extra pill to try to help me sleep but we were sailing in our slip and the noise of the wind whipping everything outside kept me up most of the night. The worst feeling is when a gust hits and my stomach is in my throat fearing a crash into the dock. We had sustained winds around 40 knots and gusts of at least 47 knots, likely more. I heard some terrible flapping above the v-berth as I tried to sleep and had images of my headsail completely unfurled, flogging wildly, being ripped to shreds by the winds. A few inches of snow had fallen and everything outside was iced and slippery, so with the ferocious winds and a decent chop in the marina's icy waters, I did not want to risk going topsides in the middle of the night. I popped my head out the companionway about 1:30AM. Miraculously the sail was fine. I was likely hearing three flags ashore that are basically just above my bow. The bimini cover I had slung over the boom and secured with bungees was a noise culprit, however. One bungee had worked its way free and the fabric was thrashing about. From the companionway steps I managed to reach the other bungees, unhook the fabric, and pull it inside. 

One of the main challenges with these rough north winds is managing my lines. The north winds blow all the water down the Bay, dropping the water level easily 3 feet instead of our normal 1 foot lunar tides. When the water is low I'm aground and can't move the boat closer to the dock. So I want the boat as close to the pilings as possible so I can climb off the boat, but I also don't want to be banging into the dock in the high winds. So, it's a delicate balance and a gamble every time. This time I lost the gamble. When day broke the boat was actually not badly positioned by the dock. But my lines were completely tight, which overly stresses deck hardware. So I loosened one of the stern lines. In my defense, I hadn't had my morning coffee yet. But I gave slack to the absolute wrong line. I must have been thinking I didn't want to loosen the one keeping me from hitting the dock, but by releasing the other line, which kept me close to the dock, it allowed the boat to move. Except that we were already sunk into the mud, which is why I probably thought it wouldn't matter. 

And nothing happened right then. But by the time I had made my coffee and I was all bundled up to walk the dog, the boat had leaned over to port enough that at the boarding gate I was now a couple feet away, (and a few feet below), the dock. No way I could climb over to the dock. I put the dog ramp from the cabin top to the dock and sent the dog ashore to piddle on the snow. The dockmaster put her back on the ramp to come back aboard. But I was stranded. Inside, things on the starboard side of the boat were sliding to port and I struggled not to roll off the settee. Thank Poseidon for my gimbaled stove.

In the afternoon I knew the dog really needed another break and I was almost out of water for tea, cooking, flushing, et cetera. I needed to get ashore. I tried using a winch on a line to pull the boat upright, as if I was going to be able to grind a 20,000 pound boat upright. Not likely. I saw someone ashore and asked if they'd hold the dog ramp steady for the dog to get off since it was stretched as far as possible but just barely reaching across. Pup made it, but what about me? The dog ramp is not intended for people use. Even though it supposedly can handle a 200 pound dog, dogs are on four legs and lower to the ground. I didn't see any other way to make it happen so I crawled on my hands and knees on the ramp. It was pretty terrifying, but going back was worse. Only one corner was really resting on the cabin top. I convinced someone to hold onto the dock end, (one corner was tied to a cleat, but it could still fall away from the dock), but I was risking my weight causing the ramp to retract. The icy mud below with no ladder nearby is a very frightening prospect. It's not that I'm afraid of heights... but I am absolutely terrified of falling.

I went to bed early but luckily awoke a little after midnight and popped my head out the companionway to see if there was any slack in the lines. The water had risen enough to slack the line and bring the boat mostly back level. I hurried out and took in the slack in the line while I had the chance. This morning it was still just too far to try to get across and up to the dock. The only way I might be able to reach is to stand on the toe rail but at that spot it has a stainless steel track that is very, very slippery. I sent the dog over her ramp, took a deep breath, and slowly crawled over on the ramp. I thought I'd be able to sit on the dock, stretch a leg down to the deck, and launch myself down to the boat. But it was just too far for me. Maybe I'm a total scaredy-cat, but I don't just jump a couple feet down onto my boat, especially not when the deck is covered in ice and one misstep means falling between the boat and dock into the ice-covered water. So I risked the dog ramp again, which was especially scary with no one to hold onto the ramp to keep it from sliding off the dock. But I made it; whew.  As you can see from the photo above, the water is now covered in a sheet of ice except across the fairway where the ice-eater can only keep one slip clear.

Now I'm hoping the tide comes up a bit and makes it easier for me to get ashore. One of the cats peed on the bed at some point last night so I have to wash all the bedding. In case I haven't mentioned it before, making the bed in the v-berth is my absolute least-favorite boat chore. It is an unmitigated pain in the ass and is certain to end in tears if I don't have a couple adult beverages before trying to make the bed. If I ever have any money I must get fitted or drawstring sheets for the sake of my mental health. Since we are in for our biggest snow storm so far this season beginning late this afternoon, I'd also like to get in a run if possible. I ran 30 miles last week and the plan is to maintain that going forward. I'm down a couple pounds and half and inch so I don't want to lose momentum, especially since I've had to eat carb-heavy stuff like pancakes, rolls, biscuits, and dumplings since the pantry is close to bare (other than flour) and I'm still weeks away from making any money. But I just don't know if I can face running in sub-20-degree weather and snow this week. I can't afford to join a gym to run inside and I did one run last week on the "dreadmill" at a friend's gym and it was awful. I'd rather run 10 miles outside than 5 on a treadmill. I need to be doing yoga anyway, but an hour of yoga will only burn 150-200 calories, versus a good 700 calories if I run 6 miles. We'll see. My feet are still cold from walking the dog 3 hours ago, so I have a feeling when I finish writing this I'll climb ashore for a hot shower and admit the run isn't going to happen today.

Dear weather gods... please let it be spring. Not summer, because I don't have any air conditioning. Just spring. Just 70 degrees and no humidity and sunny every day.

P.S. I'm trying to be better about posting on Running Rabbit Kitchen; so if the cooking / food porn stuff interests you, check out the "what's cooking" link now and then or subscribe to receive new posts via email so they just come right to you.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Being a hoarder and a liveaboard are not particularly congruent lifestyles. I've had a problem with hoarding for a long time. And I'm not just being facetious when I use that term. Anyone who saw my various homes before moving aboard can vouch for that. Why do I still have unopened mail that is a decade old? Why do I have every little random knick-knack or pair of spare shoe laces or two-year-old grocery store receipts? It's a sickness and it is unbelievably easy to get so buried in "stuff" that it seems impossible to dig out so you give up and learn to live among piles and stacks and towering clutter.

But I have been on a mission to get organized, clean up the boat, and downsize. I gave away beautiful, expensive shoes but it was very, very hard. I gave away six pairs of shoes in one fell swoop a few weeks ago. That's more pairs of shoes than a lot of guys even own. Along with them were sweaters, some running tops, and a cute sundress. Just an hour after taking the deep breathe and putting it all in a box marked "free" by the recycle bin at the marina, some friends dropped by for drinks. One of them said to me, "Hey, there's a whole bunch of great stuff someone gave away and I thought you would like it!" He proceeded to try to hand me back half the things I had just painfully let go. I yelled at him "Oh my God, what are you doing?! Get that stuff off the boat; it was soooo hard for me to let all that go, don't bring it back in here!" We got a good laugh out of that.

I think a lot of the saving every little thing is that I have never had any financial security in my life. Things are boom or bust, usually bust. Every year I am more broke than the last. So to toss out a sweater because I don't have space for it right now is as if I will never have another sweater. Many cruisers have plenty of money, even if they talk as if they don't. They eat out, they buy sails when they want them, and they don't worry about having enough money to do laundry. That is not my life. I can't buy a space heater for the season and then just toss it and buy a new one next year. Not only is that wildly wasteful, I simply can't count on having the money next winter to buy another $30 or $50 or $120 space heater. So I tend to hold onto every little thing lest I need it tomorrow or next week or next year.

I am definitely past the sentimentality of having things. They really are just things and getting rid of the things does not mean getting rid of the memories that went with them. But I still struggle with keeping things out of financial fear of not being able to replace them. I don't know that I will ever be able to cure myself of that. But I need to be free of all the clutter and unnecessary stuff. I keep reminding myself that having a peaceful, uncluttered environment will help me in my efforts to have a peaceful, uncluttered mind and spirit.

So, what's the impetus for this post right now? I need cash and could save myself $57 today (and each month going forward) by bugging out of my storage unit. So, I had to light a fire under my ass and make it happen.  Here's the time-lapse of the storage unit each day before I started sorting, tossing, and hauling on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. (Huge thanks to my dockmate Stan for letting me borrow his car to get this done!)

I bartered away my big printer/scanner/fax for lunch, dinner, and drinks. I donated nine pairs of designer shoes, a Litter Quitter, and a couple designer silk blouses to the local Lutheran Mission Society (don't even get me started on how Goodwill is evil and unworthy of your donations or business). Cardboard boxes were emptied, broken down, and put in recycling. Four big black garbage bags were filled and put in the trash. Below is Saturday, start and finish, and a shot of the ninja who apparently stole all my stuff. 

At the end there was a cardboard box with three Christmas ornaments, a set of mantel stocking hangers that spells "J-O-Y," and a spritz cookie gun. They will either be donated or given to my friend who is letting me store the last boxes in his basement. (Big thanks, Karl!) He also gets the laundry basket, the car clothes-hanger, and a beautiful mirror I kept telling myself I could find a way to mount in the boat.  That leaves me with an inflatable mattress, a box of CDs, a dinette cushion, a box of files and office supplies, and a box with an old-school film camera, diplomas, and all my running medals. That's it. Everything else I own is aboard. Well, my dodger frame is being stored by a friend and there is a box of all my photographs from childhood onward, but that is missing-in-action and may be gone forever. That would be a shame, but not much I can do about it. (Fingers crossed it's in the back of a closet at a friend's house but he said the closet is too packed with stuff to see.)

As for the boat, I have been making a bit of progress. I think a week ago was the first time a couple of my friends came for dinner and were actually able to sit and eat at the newly uncluttered dinette table. I had gotten down to a short-list of more manageable organizing projects I planned to tackle day by day: nav station (a biggie), bookshelves, clean the head and better organize toiletries, organize and stow the huge bag of clean clothes. Unfortunately, I just added two boxes and five shopping bags of stuff to the mix from the storage unit. Sigh. Just over a week before I start training for the new job so every day will have to be productive. I was getting used to my new de-cluttered living space and I cannot go back to what it was like before.

I still have my work cut out for me getting things organized aboard, and my boat will never be austere and empty because it is my home, but being out of the storage unit is a huge relief. And in our hyper-materialistic society, declaring my independence from all those things is a defiant and revolutionary act of freedom. Nothing is left to tie me down.

Monday, January 26, 2015

counting the days

Almost three weeks after Hunter's surgery, he's healing up nicely and seems to be doing well. I started him on a daily "calming treat" with L-Theanine, the compound in green tea that is relaxing and also an ingredient in my melatonin sleeping pill. I'm hoping it will help him relax and not lick that bald patch on his back. The fur actually does seem to be growing back some. The vet didn't really think he'd let them take his stitches out, based on what a terror he was the day of the surgery. But last Thursday I gave him a little morphine cocktail to take the edge off and with me there telling him how brave he was, one tech holding his scruff and legs, and another carefully cutting the sutures, they got them all out without a single hiss. So, now it's just a wait-and-see on whether the cancer is still lingering there and flares back up.

I've been making some progress aboard on interior organizing--and even found the duffel that I searched high and low for the night before I left for the Cooks last summer--but never quite as much progress as I feel I "ought" to be making. When the days are cloudy or rainy I don't want to do much but curl up and vegetate in front of the television. I'm trying to replace that with reading. An interview on a new-to-me podcast I started listening to, The School of Greatness, suggested having a "screen curfew" (yep, smart phone, iPad, and TV) of 8pm if you want to get to sleep at 10pm, and a "caffeine curfew" of 2pm for a 10pm bedtime. Not easy, but I'm trying. I don't usually drink coffee in the afternoon, but the green tea tends to flow all day so now I'm overdosing on the one herbal tea I have right now. Can't wait to have some moolah and stock up on rooibos at Capital Teas.

Of course I've been applying for jobs day in and day out, walking around town handing out résumés at restaurants and applying online for various legal and other "professional" gigs. As usual, I've hardly had any nibbles. But miracle of miracles I went to open interviews for a restaurant slated to open late next month and within a couple hours of my interview they offered me a full-time bartending position. If I make the cut through training and all goes well, I would be able to get benefits after a few months. I'm excited to have a job on the horizon, to be part of something new, and to be behind the bar. Now I'm counting the starts in two weeks, and it will likely be another two weeks before making any tips.

While I'm grateful to have the job, I am sad that it means I won't be able to cast off the lines in April and sail away. But all I can do right now is take things day by day to try to get on my feet. Batteries and solar panels are at the top of the "to do" list, but I also have to save enough for fuel and dockage while I head down the ditch and there are myriad other projects, large and small, that I need to tackle aboard. Right now I have a whopping $14, (unless I can save myself $57 and get out of my storage unit by Saturday), but bills are paid until about a month from now and I've probably got enough food aboard to get by, even if it eventually means eating pancakes three meals a day. I've done it before and I'll find a way to pull through. (Fingers crossed my last jewelry that's worth anything sells on consignment quickly and nets me some decent coin.)

I am certainly tired of just surviving instead of thriving, but life has its ups and downs and I just have to ride the wave back up. Actually, that sounds far too passive. Some people just let life happen to them and others act upon the world. I'm definitely in the latter camp. But sometimes knowing how to tuck your head and fall safely is critical to being able to get back up and dust yourself off. Anyway, despite all the crap life has thrown my way lately and being broke, I'm not broken. I'm building my running mileage back up, 20 miles week before last, 23 last week, targeting 25 this week, and then 28 the next. Once I'm back to a solid 30 miles a week my energy will be up and my figure will slim down and I'll be feeling better all-around. I'm working on some freelance writing that won't pay much but will be something and help me build my portfolio. I'm trying to get focused on some bigger writing projects, as I've had a couple of book ideas swirling around for years but never forced myself to sit down and focus. If I'm going to tend bar to cover the nut, then I need to be focusing on moving other projects forward for the long term, like finding ways to support myself through writing and support myself working remotely. I do not want to live my life in one place or tied to the dock. I ordered the passport with extra visa pages for a reason--I want to fill it before it expires.