What I’m reading tonight…

Posted on

I finally finished Moon Wind at Large, Sailing Hither and Yon by Matthew Goldman aka Constant Waterman (Breakaway Books, Halcotssvile, New York, 2012). I have been spending too many evenings watching TV or playing on my iPhone and not enough time reading.

It is way to easy to put the book down and pick up something that will deliver entertainment to me. The iPhone or TV hands me the full experience. I don’t have to work for it. A good book (and even a not so good book) makes you work for the experience.

I have started reading “Fishing in Utopia:Sweden and the Future that Disappeared” by Andrew Brown (Granta Books, London, England). It was a wedding gift from Susanna’s friends, Anni and Fia. Digging though the bookshelves I have found a couple of other books that I haven’t finished, so I should be good for a couple of more weeks. Assuming I can stay away from the electronics.

Of course, I’m playing on my computer writing in this blog instead of reading right now. But in being human, a little hypocrisy is expected; but hopefully not too much tonight, so I’ll finish up this post and turn back into my reading.

A self-made scrapbook of sorts for the boys

Posted on

I started blogs for Will and Ben 18-months ago. They are a scrapbook of sorts for the boys, but using their own words. I plan on having the blogs printed into a book every year that they write in them (I already printed them books for last year). Currently the blogs are private and can only be viewed by registered guests. Of course it is more fun to play than to write in their blogs, but I have worked it out with them that they write a couple of days a week when they are at my house. Even Will has grudgingly admitted that it isn’t too bad to write, and it is cool to go back and look at what he has written. So an update on the blogs:

Will has 166 posts over 18 months, he wrote all but a handful of them. He has written 5,656 words with an average of 35 words per post.

Ben has 129 posts over the 18 months, and he also wrote all but a handful of them. He has written 4,752 words with an average of 38 words per post.

Great job boys!

Pictures from Sailing

Posted on
Will, Ben and Tyler enjoying the ride up the Thames
Will, Ben and Tyler enjoying the ride up the Thames

This afternoon I took Will, Ben and Will’s friend, Tyler, out on the boat. They wanted to go swimming up river. The wind was from the south, so we hanked one of the headsails and rode the breeze upriver to almost the highway 2A bridge over the Thames. We then dropped the sail and motored back down to our previous swimming spot. We dropped anchor in about 12 feet of water and spent the afternoon playing in the water. We headed home around 5pm and got home by 6.

I tried to get some pictures of the boys jumping into the water:

Ben jumping off the boat
Ben jumping off the boat
Will jumping off the boat
Will jumping off the boat

Transition Day

Posted on
Ben relaxing on the couch
Ben relaxing on the couch

Transition days are difficult. Difficult for Susanna and me; we have to get re-adjusted to either having the boys or having an empty house. But of course, most difficult for the boys; they have to adjust from living at one house to another. It is tough to watch them need time to adjust. It is difficult for the dogs. Okay, maybe not for the dogs; just extra exciting when the full pack is here, and normal exciting when not. I’m pretty sure nothing in life is too difficult for the dogs.

Today is no different. The boys take time to adjust. This morning they took time to write about their week at their grandmother’s house and are now taking time to relax on their electronics. But not for too long. It isn’t raining yet, so will be good to get outside and get some energy out.

I’m sure everyone works transitions differently. It is one of the stresses of a divorce. But one has to hope that two houses where the boys can find peace is better than only one house where there is no peace.

This week should be fun. So far the summer has been going very well. We will try to get some sailing in. Maybe visit Six Flags. The boys can have friends over. Susanna and I are only working two days each this week, so we should have lots of time to do family things. Maybe I can even convince the boys to help me weed the flower bed. But probably not.

Garden Trellis Completed

Posted on
Garden Trellis Completed - just waiting for netting to tie up plants
Garden Trellis Completed – just waiting for netting to tie up plants

Yesterday was my day to take off and enjoy sailing. Today was a day to get work done around the house. Susanna spent the day rearranging the library, and I took time to finish building a trellis for the vegetable garden.

I had glued up most of the legs over the past week. Today I milled the remaining lumber and assembled the trellis.

The structure is made from 1″ thick maple. Not because maple is good for exterior projects – it is terrible. But I have a ton of maple under the workshop that I had purchased to make a floor for the wedding reception. It was pennies per board-foot and isn’t worth saving for furniture building. But it is perfect for outdoor projects (and burning in the fire-pit).

The legs are glued up from three pieces of 4-inch wide boards. I only milled the boards as thin as needed to clean them up. I didn’t bother jointing anything – it is a construction project to sit out in the garden. Anyway, trying to joint a 8-foot long board sucks, and wasn’t worth the effort. This wasn’t fine furniture.

Trellis detail.
Trellis detail.

The top stretcher is connected to the legs by a bridle joint. I simply cut the center of the three pieces for the leg shorter than the two outside pieces – leaving room for the long stretchers to slide into when the legs were glued up. The connectors between the sides are attached with pocket-hole screws. The three top pieces were assembled with a slot cut in them so they just slide onto the long stretchers and can be moved.

Overall this is a quick weekend project if the lumber doesn’t need to be milled. Actually, with dimensional lumber, this is a morning project. The only trick would be cutting the bridle joints at the tops of the legs.

I have ordered netting to hang from the three cross beams. Hopefully the netting will arrive tomorrow so I can finish tying up the plants in the garden before the summer squash take over the tomatoes.

There wasn’t a lot of design thought that went into this project. The dimensions were based on what I had for lumber. I think the top stretchers could be longer, but I couldn’t rip a board that is longer than 8-feet long on the table saw without moving the saw. The wood is still a little green, so I’ll let it dry out in the sun for a week or two before I put a finish on it. The question is, should it be painted to match the house, or just put a clear coat on the wood?

It is nice to finish projects. Of course, it is still easier to start them than finish them. But I am thankful to have a partner that encourages me to finish things. It is amazing how much Susanna and I have been able to get done with the house over the past two years.

And of course, I had Tucker to keep me company outside all day:

A mostly useless Tucker
A mostly useless Tucker

Fishers Island Sound

Posted on
Sailing past New London Ledge light
Sailing past New London Ledge light

Today was a perfect day to sail. Calm seas with 10-15 knot winds from the south. Not too hot. Not too cold. However, Susanna had to work, so it wasn’t totally perfect – I had to sail alone.

I motored out of the marina and down river against the wind. At least I could ride the ebb out of the river and into Fishers Island Sound. Just south of the bridges I put up the mainsail. I tacked my way through New London Harbor. The wind was reasonable and steady, but not strong enough to push us along under main alone. Around Eastern Point I climbed forward and hanked the jib on, trying to not get tangled up in the sail or knocked overboard. I got the sail mostly on right. I beat my way out past New London Ledge light and caught a left into Fishers Island Sound.

The wind  remained steady from the south and picked up a little bit. I picked up speed on a close reach towards Fishers Island. We were making over 5 knots (over the ground), but I think we had a little push from the ebb tide to help. I pointed towards North Dumpling Island and held the course until about a half of a mile short of the island. I turned around just short of the New York state line and cruised back on the Connecticut side of Seaflower Reef. I made the turn around Pine Island and Black Rock back into the Thames before the wind mostly died.

With sunset ninety minutes away, a weak wind, and fighting the end of the ebb tide, I decided it was easiest to just motor up the river and back to the marina.

Overall today I spent 6 hours out on the water and maybe 4 of them under sail. The trip to North Dumpling is 18 miles as the power boat goes. Needing to beat upwind added several miles to my trip. I only bumped into one buoy, and only added a small tear to the mainsail. I was able to get the jib on mostly right and stay onboard the boat the entire trip. Overall, it was a successful outing.

I also answered one of Will’s questions this trip. He had been asking if there were jellyfish in Long Island Sound. I sailed through miles of jellyfish in the sound.

View of North Dumpling, Fishers Island New York
View of North Dumpling, Fishers Island New York

Furlough Day #3

Posted on
Our lunch spot on the Thames River
Our lunch spot on the Thames River

It is difficult to be forced to take extra time off in the summer. But I am suffering through the days off this week by spending time with the family. Yes, life is good. In reality, while it may suck to lose the money, at least they didn’t furlough us in the winter.

The view of the sailboat at anchor from our picnic spot
The view of the sailboat at anchor from our picnic spot (with Susanna and the boys swimming nearby)

Today we had originally planned a Six Flags day. However, the forecast heat helped us decide that a day on the water was better than a day waiting in line to get in the water. So, this morning, we headed down to the boat picking up lunch at Subway on the way.

We again motored upstream. The wind is all downstream in the sound, but the boys prefer to swim in the river. And the trip downstream is much longer. We went up farther than we had on the past two occasions. Past Allyn Point in Gales Ferry on our right.  On the way past Allyn Point we passed an outcrop of rock (across the river from the factory) that looked promising to stop for a swim and lunch. The chart showed a shipwreck not too far north of the outcrop, and we decided to check out he wreck first. The boys thought it was cool to find an airplane wreck in the woods behind our house last summer, and find a shipwreck this summer.

We did find the wreck. There isn’t much left of it, though we came a little closer to some of the underwater portions of the boat than I had hoped (but we didn’t hit it – so all is well). After the sightseeing we headed south to our anchorage.  The river is warm and the current was pretty weak. The heat made it a perfect day for swimming. It is hot enough to be comfortable in and out of the water.

Ben exploring the rock outcrop
Ben exploring the rock outcrop

Susanna swam (or rather walked, the water was shallow) the cooler from the boat to the shore,and the boys explored the rock outcrop. We enjoyed lunch in the shade of some of the trees, and spent more time playing in the water after lunch.

We pulled up anchor and headed back mid-afternoon, and were home by 3pm. It was the best day out on the water to date.

Upon returning to the marina, we found that a family of swans was occupying our slip. The approach to the slip is slow, and they had plenty of time to swim out of the way, but they were not happy. It was a whole family of birds (parents and young swans), and the bigger birds didn’t like us disturbing their swim. Swans are mean birds.

I was able to improve the swim ladder by lowering it a bit, but it is still difficult for the boys to climb back in the boat (but at least now they both can climb in without assistance).  I think this weekend I will head over to Defender and look for a better boarding ladder. If we are going to spend this much time swimming, it will be well worth getting a good ladder.

Susanna and the boys playing in the water.
Susanna and the boys playing in the water.

Furlough Day #2

Posted on
Susanna watching Will swim next to the boat. Anchored on the Thames River in Gales Ferry, CT (just north of the Yale boathouse)
Susanna watching Will swim next to the boat. Anchored on the Thames River in Gales Ferry, CT (just north of the Yale boathouse)

I did not get any house projects done today. I scheduled today’s day off (as well as tomorrow) to spend with the family. Plus, it is too hot to do anything. We did try to weed the garden a bit this afternoon, but gave up after cooking in the sun for a few minutes.

This morning we took a quick boat trip. Again, no sailing (all under motor). We motored up to almost the place where we had anchored previously. It was low tide, so I was a bit nervous about running aground. I shouldn’t have worried, the boat has a very shallow draft (around 2-feet). We were able to anchor a very short distance from the shore (close enough to have the boat sit in the shade).

The water was shallow enough that the boys could stand next to the boat. It was shallow enough for me to walk out and move the anchor when the boat drifted too close to shore. Next time I’ll have to bring my water shoes – walking to shore on the rocks is tough on the feet. We hadn’t brought lunch, so we headed home after swimming for only 30 minutes or so.

The plans tomorrow were going to be to go to Six Flags. However, it is forecast to be nearly 100-degrees up at Six Flags tomorrow. That is way too hot to be enjoyable. Maybe we will decide to go sailing in the morning and bring lunch.

After sailing for a half-dozen trips, I have a mental list of winter projects for the boat. They include a much better ladder, some drink/cup holders, shade for the cockpit, and a way to organize the lines in the cockpit. However nice it is to dream about a bigger boat (it is an ADHD thing to always want something different) – I think we will stick with the same boat for another season or more.

A cool afternoon swim.

Posted on
Ben and Will enjoying the short trip up the Thames River
Ben and Will enjoying the short trip up the Thames River

It was hot today. Not just a little hot. Hot enough to cook the bottoms of feet on the driveway and hot enough to appreciate living near the ocean. Though not quite St. Louis hot. But, I have been living away from the middle of the country for long enough to no longer tolerate St. Louis heat. But at least it wasn’t as humid as last week. Last week was miserable.  If I wanted to live in Florida, I would live in Florida.

Anyway, today was hot enough that the boys didn’t want to play outside. So, after work, I took the boys down to the marina and we took a short trip north (up the river) to find a place to anchor and go swimming.  There was scarcely a hint of a breeze today, so we motored the entire time.

The water is perfect this time of year. Cool enough to be pleasant, but not cold. We anchored up near Gales Ferry (just past the Yale boathouse). There was a little bit of a current where we anchored, so I tossed a rope in the water for everyone to hold onto while swimming. We were tied up and home in time for dinner.

The trip up the river was pleasant. I haven’t traveled far upriver before. The channel is wide, and we didn’t find the bottom. Even with only my iPhone to navigate the way upriver. Once out of sight of the submarine base, the river feels much more secluded, with only the sporadic powerboat passing by to disturb the peace. 

Will and Ben swimming astern of the boat while at anchor in the Thames River.
Will and Ben swimming astern of the boat while at anchor in the Thames River.

Furlough Day #1

Posted on
Filling the screw holes from the original hinges on the door to the sun porch
Filling the screw holes from the original hinges on the door to the sun porch

Today was the first day of my 11-day summer furlough.  I have to take (on average) one day every week for the next 11 weeks. My goal is to get some projects finished with my furlough time.

However, today wasn’t the most productive day. But at least I got something done. I didn’t get started until about 10 AM.

The morning was spent taking a load of bulky waste to the dump. Not the most glamorous of projects, but it makes a big difference at the house.

After lunch I weeded the garden and worked on replacing the hinges in the kitchen. The door hinges in the kitchen are one of the (I’m sure many) small unfinished projects around the house. When we painted the kitchen, the hinges no longer matched. And they always looked like crap anyway. So a couple of weeks (or maybe months) ago I ordered new hinges. The hinges have been sitting on top of the refrigerator since they arrived. At least I didn’t lose the hinges (it is the little improvements that help).

Today I took off the old hinges from the door to the sun porch. The new hinge screw holes didn’t line up perfectly with the old ones. I took a small dowel and used a knife to whittle the dowel down to fill the hole. I hammered the plug into place with a little wood glue, and then drilled the holes for the new hinges. It took under an hour to replace both hinges and rehang the door.

Now to replace the hinges on the two remaining doors in the kitchen…