Westerly Library and Wilcox Park

Izzy has her last rehearsal of Seussical Jr. at the Granite Theater in Westerly. Opening night is tomorrow, and all week is evening dress rehearsals. Susanna and I have been taking turns dropping her off. In reality, it is only 30 minute from home, and the rehearsal is 3 hours, so I could make it home for 2-hours, but that adds an hour in the car, so we have both mostly been staying in Westerly while Izzy rehearses.

I had been taking Hoagie to the Westerly dog park for the rehearsals that started earlier in the evening. However, the park empties out at 6pm, so I would have two hours with the dog to wander around until it is time to pick up Izzy. Plus, Hoagie has learned how to jump in the kiddie pools at the dog park and pee in them. So, tonight I left Hoagie at home and took a walk around Wilcox park to take some pictures before landing in the library to kill a few hours.

Stairs, Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI
Wilcox Park, Westerly, RI
Downtown Westerly, RI

Sailboat Drop Off and Memorial Day Parade 2024

Will and I had originally planned to drop off my Blue Jay sailboat, Cookie Monster, at Pettipaug yesterday morning and race in the opening race of the season. Unfortunately we had to turn back before we got far and didn’t get to sail yesterday. This morning we made the trip to Essex with the boat and dropped it off. Izzy and Hoagie joined us for the trip, which adds a little bit of stress, but is worth it.

Will and I spent some time at the club trying to figure out how to get the upgraded/extra-large jib to fit on the boat without much luck. When Will gets back to work at the loft at Farrar Sails on Tuesday, he will talk to Kevin to see what we need to adjust on the mast to get the jib to fit. The demonstration sails Will borrowed should significantly increase the sail area on the boats, and should be good in the light wind on the Connecticut River.

This afternoon, Susanna’s preschool class marched in the Ledyard Memorial Day Parade. She invited Izzy and I to join the group and help hold the sign and pass out candy. Last year my nephew, Matthew, joined us and we brought Hoagie. This year we didn’t have any house guests to join us and I didn’t want Hoagie to walk on the hot pavement today. Izzy and Susanna got dressed up for the parade. Izzy’s best friend, Evelyn, was there as well, which I think was the real incentive for Izzy to go. It is always fun to walk in the parade and hand out candy (and for Izzy to meet all the dogs along the way).

Susanna and Izzy dressed up for the Memorial Day parade in Ledyard today!
Izzy standing in the shade waiting for the parade to start. I used the new Lightroom adaptive AI to clean up the distracting cars that were in the background.

Slow Progress on the House Projects

I’ve been really taking my time on the the front porch repair. Last year we replaced the ceiling, which wound up being a larger project than I expected. The project sat dormant for most of the winter. Earlier this spring, Susanna ripped up the rotten stairs and porch decking in front of the door. I had planned to make the decking from some white oak, but the rough stock I got was too thin, and it was going to be a lot of work. So I stalled and found other projects to work on.

A week ago I went by Koszela Lumber to see if they had anything already milled to match the existing flooring. The original floor is a solid 1-inch thick tongue-and-groove Fir. They had a very close match. The boards were the correct thickness, but not quite as wide (maybe 1/4″ shy of the original boards). The deck is painted, so I decided to go for it and hoped it would look good.

Last week I cut the boards to length and rounded the ends. Today I installed the floor repair, with the final board having to be cut thin to meet up with the existing deck. The next step is to finish the steps.

Front porch floor installation in progress.
Front porch floor repair installation complete. Now to sand and let Susanna paint it to match.

Tuesday Morning in D.C.

I had to head to Washington, D.C. this week for work. I was able to get a hotel downtown, only a few blocks from the White House. My flight home on Tuesday was late morning, so I had a chance to take a short walk for breakfast around sunrise and get a few pictures. I’ve stopped doing the long trips with my current job and no mostly go to Washington D.C. or State College, PA. I miss some of the exciting trips, but I am enjoying more time at home.

Even though my phone camera takes decent pictures, I think that next time I’ll have to bring my camera and better walking shoes so I can get out a little more and take some nice pictures.

Building facade, Washington, D.C.
National Christian Church at sunrise

Sailing, Almost Sailing, and Boat Improvements

Last weekend was pretty wet. Okay, it was very wet through Saturday. However, Will had an opportunity to crew on a Buccaneer 18 sailboat at the 2023 Buccaneer North American Championship in at the Niantic Bay Yacht Club. He had a practice race on Thursday and then sailed all day in the cold rain on Friday. It was a tough day, but they didn’t capsize and they finished all the races. He was feeling sick on Saturday so they skipped races then, which sounded like a good plan, several boats capsized during the race on Saturday.

The rain and cold weather ended on Saturday night, and Sunday was a beautiful day. On Sunday they completed the remaining races in the morning. Izzy and I took our Blue Jay, “Cookie Monster” down to Niantic to sail in the “Frostbite Series” Blue Jay race that day. We were next in line for the lift when the Buccaneers came started coming in and using the lift. It was going to take over an hour to get the Buccaneers out of the water, so we decided to de-rig Cookie Monster and just wait for Will get get in. Will reported that the sailing was much better on Sunday, and they came in 3rd overall in the B-series race.

Izzy Watching Will take the sails down on the boat, “3 Eagles,” he was crewing on.
Will and Izzy bringing the trailer to the lift to retrieve the Buccaneer.

Hopefully the weather on Sunday will allow Izzy and I to race in the next of the Blue Jay series, though I’ll probably take the boat home after the race and end the season.

Cookie Monster came with a board designed to hold up the boom when the boat is being stored with the mast on. The board needed refinishing, so this week I sanded the board clean, used the laser to engrave the hull number, a Blue Jay logo (at least one I found on the internet), and a compass rose on the board. I am currently in the process of putting the last coats of varnish on the board. It will be done just in time to be stored for the winter. Next project is to clean up the rest of the woodwork on the boat, and hopefully get a new set of sails this winter.

Boom support board, Side 1.
Boom support board, Side 2

Sailboat update – out with the old and in with the new (to us at least).

The past few weeks have been pretty busy in the boat department. Will decided he didn’t want to fix up the Wildfire dinghy, so he listed it on Facebook for free and it was picked up a week later by some new sailors looking for a project and cheap way to get on the water. It seems fitting that we got it for free, so it was fair to give it up for free.

In the place of the Wildfire, we bought a Blue Jay from one of the other members at Pettipaug. The boat came named as “Cookie Monster” and has a paint job to match. The boat is in beautiful shape and the sails, though old, are from a good/fast batch by Kevin Farrar and are currently sitting at the sail loft to be measured so he can duplicate them. We have to decide if we will keep her as “Cookie Monster” or repaint her an rename her. Izzy wants her to be called “Alessandra” after Alessandra Mele, her current favorite singer. I’ll see how much work I want to do on painting this winter. The simplest thing to do would just to refinish the woodwork and keep the paint job for next year. But a Blue Jay isn’t that big so wouldn’t be too difficult or expensive to repaint if we go that route.

The new sailboat at home sporting a pretty good “Cookie Monster” paint job.

Mystic Seaport

Yesterday, Izzy met her friend Evelyn at the Mystic Seaport. Evelyn and her mom were going to the seaport for the Fire Fighter Festival and to see the fire boat use their water cannons. The Izzy and Evelyn haven’t been able to see each other in over a month, and Izzy has been really missing her friend. We arrived around noon, and enjoyed three hours walking around in the hot/humid weather.

Picture of Izzy taken by Evelyn.
Mystic Seaport
Lighthouse, Mystic Seaport
Reflections, Mystic Seaport

Sweden, Part 2.

I’m entering my second week here in Sweden. We have settled into the annex/guesthouse at Susanna’s parent’s house in Sävsjöström, Sweden.

On Saturday we took a pretty easy day and enjoyed the nice weather. In the morning, Susanna, Izzy and I did the short loop down the lake to the cabin and back up the road.Susanna’s mom, Charlotte, and I took a longer (5km) walk through the woods in the afternoon, passing an old tar-production pit on the walk. That afternoon we went to Susanna’s sister’s house for dinner, and for me to setup Minecraft for Isabella’s cousin on the laptop. This will hopefully allow them to play and talk online when we return to the US.

Sunday we went to an Allsång (sing-along) in Åseda to watch Susanna’s uncle, Johan, sing. An Allsång is a concert where the audience members are encouraged to sing along with the songs, and although I didn’t recognize any of the Swedish songs, there were a few in English that I had heard before. It was a fun afternoon and Susanna’s extended family was there. We finished the evening with dinner at a Thai restaurant in town and took Izzy’s cousins (Olle and Ebbe) back with us to spend the night.

Allsång at Åseda Folkets Park

Olle and Ebbe stayed with us on Monday. Susanna’s parents watched all three grandchildren for the day, so Susanna and I had the chance to go out together for some sightseeing. We visited the oldest fully wooden church in Sweden, Granhults Kyrka, and had lunch back in Åseda at a very nice cafe, Linas Butik & Café. We then went home and enjoyed a quiet (as quiet as possible with 3 kids) afternoon.

Granhults Kyrka

Dan and I took a walk around his property before dinner. We have always taken a walk though his woods when I’m here. Some day I’ll be able to easily tell the difference between the tall (pine tree) and gran (fir tree), but not today. We walked through woods with 100-year old trees and woods that he and Rebecka planted not too many years ago. He pointed out possible building sites with a view of the lake, and we talked about Susanna and I possibly buying a plot of land for a summer home from him. I think we have agreed on a spot across the road from his house and up the hill a bit, and will look at 3-4 hectares. This is part of Susanna and my plan for my retirement – a move to Sweden after Izzy finishes 8th grade in the US. We shall see about the land – there is still a bunch of years before I can retire and we need to think about it for a year or two before we buy land.

Enjoying a coffee along the lake in the morning before Izzy and Susanna get up.

Today, Susanna, Izzy and Susanna’s mom took the train to Stockholm. They are going to a music festival tomorrow. Izzy’s favorite artist, Alessandra Mele, is playing. Izzy is fanatical about Alessandra, who represented Norway in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest with the song, “Queen of Kings.” Everyone in our household has heard that song way too many times.

I took the day to drive to Kalmar and walk around the town at my own pace and take pictures. The weather was partially overcast which made for great lighting for pictures. I returned home mid-afternoon and enjoyed a ride down the lake and back with Dan on his boat.

Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Sunset along the lake

Sweden, Part 1

I’ve been in Sweden for a little over a week, and am almost half-way through my vacation here. Until yesterday, the weather wasn’t very pleasant (cold and rainy – I left summer in Connecticut for this weather?). But yesterday afternoon the rain stopped, the sun came out for the first time in a while, and it warmed up enough I didn’t need a sweater.

The first few days I spent in Stockholm. Susanna reserved a room at the Haymarket by Scandic hotel for last weekend. It was to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, and to go see Håkan Hellström play a concert at Stockholms stadion. I’m not a big fan of the music, but he puts on a good show and the venue was pretty cool (built for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm). I had more fun that I had expected and would be willing to go again (just don’t tell that to Susanna).

View of Stockholms stadshus (city hall) from Gamla Stan (old town).
View of Stockholms stadshus (city hall) from Gamla Stan (old town).

Despite the weather, we had a great weekend. The rain held off for the concert and we enjoyed good food and visiting Susanna’s sisters. We spend on day taking a boat tour of the Stockholm Archipelago and several hours walking around the city.

Enjoying a boat tour of the Stockholm Archipelago
S:ta Clara kyrka (St. Clara’s Church), Stockholm
S:ta Clara kyrka (St. Clara’s Church), Stockholm

On Monday, Susanna and I headed south to Alvesta. Her dad met us at the train station and took us to Växjö to pick up our rental car and then to meet her mom to pick up Izzy from her first day at 4H Camp. We have been spending the week at Susanna’s parent’s house in Sävsjöström on lake Alstern.

Izzy was signed up for summer camp for the whole week. On Tuesday Susanna and I looked at neighborhoods in Växjö before picking up Izzy from camp. We are planning on moving out here after I retire and before Izzy goes to high school, so we are starting to talk about what that would look like. Right now we are leaning towards a small two bedroom apartment in the city and a small vacation home here in the country if we can make the two places work.

By Wednesday, Izzy was tired. It was raining in the morning, so she asked to stay at home. I took her into Växjö to walk around at the mall and do some shopping, though she is saving her money for next week (she is going to a concert in Sweden with Susanna and Susanna’s mom). However, Thursday morning she was rested and enjoyed the last two days at camp (the improving weather helped as well), and has made a friend at the camp. We will see if she keeps in touch after this week.

On Thursday and Friday, I helped Susanna’s dad and uncle install windows in a house in Älmhult, and today I can barely move. I’m not used to so much physical work, but I enjoyed doing something different. We even had lunch at the IKEA Museum in Älmhult, which is as much of the museum that I have any desire to see.

If the weather had been nicer this week, I would have probably picked up a paddle board and spend time exploring the lake. Maybe next time!

Lake Alstern, Sävsjöström, Sweden.

A Sunday Morning Sail

The oppressive humidity and heat was pushed away last night. The cooler weather trailed behind a line of thunderstorms that passed through around bedtime. The high today was in the mid-seventies. It would have been a perfect day to try to catch up on projects around the house. But what is the fun of that when Long Island Sound beckons.

I was invited to join Kevin Farrar (of Farrar Sails – where Will works) to join him sailing on a customer’s boat out of Westbrook. They were doing sea trials on with a new mainsail that he had recently built for the boat. The day started uneventful as we motored out from the marina. However, the engine stopped and wouldn’t restart once we were in the sound. We completed a shake-down cruise with the new sail and then headed back to the marina. Getting a tow was going to be pricey, so we opted to sail all the way up the channel to his slip. Luckily the wind was in our favor. If we had waited another 15-20 minutes the wind would have picked up in a direction that would have pushed us off the dock, making the return much more difficult.

We returned in time for me to be home for a late lunch (and then start house chores).

The view from the cockpit as we sail into Long Island Sound