Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tiny Techno Toy


I have a new techno toy – it’s the cutest, handiest, and cheapest ipod speaker.
I often want to listen to my ipod nano but unless I need to be quiet for others around me, I prefer not using earphones.
This easy plug-in runs on just one AA battery. Obviously, the sound quality might mar the best musical choices but it is fine to broadcast my favorite podcasts -- Listening to Sunday's Puzzle and Wait,Wait, Don't Tell Me (NPR -- you do know that they are free downloads from the itunes store, right? Can listen from your computer or load to your MP3 player.)
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Underway - We Cast Off


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Writing this now while underway...
started the ICW trip just yesterday.
Using our aircard for online connection and an inverter to get juice to my laptop....boy, this tech life is a hoot.

Your boating the "Icey double-u"? What's that?

Here goes...Lesson 1

The ICW, aka The Intracoastal Waterway, is a protected inland waterway, built so that vessels don't have to travel on more exposed bodies of water (like the Atlantic Ocean). Although officially routed from MA at the Annisquam River snaking all the way down the east coast and across the Gulf to Texas -- THE PIECE THAT MOST PEOPLE REFER TO IS THE SECTION FROM NORFOLK, VIRGINIA TO MIAMI, FLORIDA.

News update -- Right now, via VHF radio, Alan is calling the North Fort Pierce Highway Bridge tender to request that he open the double bascule bridge to let us pass through. Our boat height is approx. 35 feet and the bridge's vertical clearance is 26 feet.

By starting our trip in Hobe Sound we bypassed a gaggle of low bridges but there will be some along the way. Here, the bridge tender was able to let us pass within five minutes but many bridges are on a restricted schedule -- and will only open every half hour or hour upon request and occasionally less so in rush hour traffic above, on the bridge's roadway.

So, back to the basics...we are boating north from FL towards Virginia. We have allotted four weeks for the trip, with plans to pick up our (beloved) van and boat trailer from storage by the end of April.
We could make it all the way to Norfolk if we kept on a strict schedule...but that's not the point. Let's see what the route offers...where we may stay based on choice or necessity; our moods and the weather are also important determinants.

An end note for Lesson 1...
Alan and I both like the line, "If I had an outfit, I'd be a cowboy too."
Most vocations and avocations are identified by their "outfits' -- the accoutrement, the clothes, and the language.
So...ahoy, matey... grab your boating cap and join us for this part of the journey.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Third Part Begins with Provisioning

The Dream Year seems to be a three-part harmony. Starting with our great cross-country trip out west in the Roadtrek (aka the van, the RV), this mid-section of going back home and then spending special time with family and friends in FL., ending with a boat trip north on the ICW -- from FL towards Virginia -- which starts tomorrow!

We are in a county campground moving stuff from the RV to the boat with plans to put the van with the boat trailer in storage and launch the boat from Hobie Sound.

Looking forward to the adventure but reluctant to give up my landlubber living in our small traveling home.

And one might wonder about the order of things...
as far as living space (but not by the calendar and weather) it would have made more sense to begin in the boat and then move into the van, which then would have felt so spacious.

Alan and I continue to share this small RV space well...but we are moving into an even smaller space with less amenities. Less bathroom, less kitchen, much less storage, etc.

But we'll have our own "front porch" or, depending on how you look at it, back deck...as long as the weather is good, we spend a lot of time in the cockpit, piloting, eating, reading, relaxing, water and sky watching.

One of the things both of us like about boating is that you approach towns and neighborhoods from the back, rather than the front. Backyards can be more telling -- sometimes prettier, sometimes more cluttered (toys and laundry), less trafficked and just more personal.

We'll keep you posted!
What's up where you are?
Is spring welcoming you?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dock Friend Dave & NY Times

A few weeks ago I wrote about going shrimping with our dock friend Dave Yoo and his family at Pennekamp Marina.
I also mentioned that Dave is an author...

and I just found out that his most recent book just got a thumbs up from...the NY Times.
Below is the review from the March 13 children's section of the book review:
(( So, let's all go out and buy the book. -- Even if it's not yet available on my kindle))
Yeah, Dave!

By David Yoo.
Hyperion. $16.99. (Ages 13 and up)

It wouldn’t seem possible to make high school jocks, popular girls and losers fresh and hilarious, but Yoo does it. His Romeo and Juliet story is a winner (outcast Albert Kim with popular girl Mia? No way), but it’s Albert’s ice-dry telling of his tale of woe that sets it apart. From his uncool Korean parents with their “legitimately tragic childhoods” to the angry little kids next door (“a barrage of iceballs arc overhead like grenades”), Albert views growing up with all the comic sweetness and unsentimentality it deserves.

And The Day Ends


From beach walks to sunsets at Bahia Honda State Park, FL
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The Day Begins


in Bahia Honda
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Flagler's Folly in FL

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Went on a ranger walk this morning -- theme of the railroad built from miami to key west in the early 1900's. The relatively new ranger laughed about portraying an Irish conductor -- with his spanish looks and accent.

Notice -- that the group seemed to drift away from the ranger and program...and settled by the fence overlooking the water, after a few participants sighted two rollicking dolphins.

Yes, it was a folly...and Flagler was one of those interesting man I'm glad never to make acquaintance of...another resourceful, arrogant yet fanciful entrepreneur who probably would undermine any of my observations because I am female (where does this historical projection come from? Maybe I've been reading too many historically-reconstructed novels). But I love his bridge. The broken bridge. The pilings are more secure than that of the newer bridges on the Keys. It is a beautiful spot to watch the sunset and the break in the bridge is a wonderful focal point for photographs. (I like the one in a previous entry with the framing of the full moon).

After the United States announced in 1905 the construction of the Panama Canal, Flagler became particularly interested in linking Key West to the mainland. Key West, the United States' closest deep-water port to the Canal, could not only take advantage of Cuban and Latin America trade, but the opening of the Canal would allow significant trade possibilities with the west.

Initially called "Flagler's Folly", the construction of the overseas railroad required many engineering innovations as well as vast amounts of labor and monetary resources. At one time during construction, four thousand men were employed. During the seven year construction, five hurricanes threatened to halt the project. Costs were estimated at between $20 million and $40 million.

Despite the hardships, the final link of the Florida East Coast Railway was completed in 1912. In that year, a proud Henry Flagler rode the first train into Key West aboard his private railcar "Rambler", marking the completion of the railroad's overseas connection to Key West and the linkage by railway of the entire east coast of Florida. It was widely known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World."

my note -- good timing on his part; he died not more than six months later after falling down a marble staircase

Much of the Overseas Railroad in the Middle Keys was heavily damaged and partially destroyed in the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935, a Category 5 hurricane which is often called "The Storm of the Century". The September 2, 1935 storm killed between 400 and 700 people and devastated Long Key and adjacent areas. The FEC's Long Key Fishing Camp was destroyed, as was a FEC rescue train which became swamped at Islamorada.

Already bankrupt, the Florida East Coast Railway was financially unable to rebuild the destroyed sections. The roadbed and remaining bridges were sold to the State of Florida, which built the Overseas Highway to Key West, using much of the remaining railway infrastructure. Many of the original bridges were replaced during the 1980s. The Overseas Highway (U.S. 1, which runs from Key West to Fort Kent, Maine) continues to provide a highway link to Key West. Many old concrete bridges of the Overseas Railroad remain in use as fishing piers and pedestrian paths.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This vacation in warm weather continues...

Alan had a great week sailing with the guys...even if it rained a few times and the wind was strong and in their faces or nonexistent and some other tribulations boaters face.

And I had a lovely, leisurely, connecting week with my brother and sister-in-law...activities like the art class and ikebana exhibit (last two entries) and movies, bicycling, eating, shopping, etc....and chatting more than ever -- about politics and economics, books, friendships, art, and family and neighborhood memories. A special time.

And now, Rebecca has joined us for a week and we are back at the marina at Bahia Honda State Park (the Keys). Although the snorkel/tour boat hasn't gone out for days due to high winds and chop, my intrepid boaters have taken Dream On out this afternoon to test the waters.
So I decided to stay land-based, a walk on the beach and this break on the Roadtrek to write to you all.

How are things back home? What are you up to?

Ikebana & Origami


Enjoyed this demonstration and show of local ikebana school and origami. The man who makes the paper jewelry, is a multi-talented artist, who sculpted the bowl (no glue or adhesives; just folded water-colored paper) and it was purchased by my sister-in-law.

The ikebana demonstration both demystified the process (start with three elements and place them in such-and-such proportions at 15/45/and 75 degree angles) BUT THEN mystified it again with some of the more subtle and not-so-subtle rules for these seemingly simplistic creations. Sometimes the vases and vessels are just as interesting as the flowers themselves.
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FL - Bonita Springs Art League Class


My artist sister-in-law Phyllis is taking a wonderful class about...collage, installation, creativity, with the incredible side-effect of creating an interesting and supportive great of women artists.

The assignment for this particular class session was to create three projects using fabric -- one piece that would be exhibited on the floor, one on a wall, and one from the ceiling. Diversity of responses. And the "artist at the easel" -- was one woman's combined answer to this challenge -- Lulu, the painter, hung from a strap while working on a canvas on the easel, with a decorated floorcloth beneath.

Phyllis, my s-i-l, is pictured sitting at home working on her woven bowl project. The finished piece -- with a handwritten note about the sharing of arts and crafts, asked the viewer to participate, as the woman in the bright pink shirt is doing by knitting a row on the collaborative project. And the bright-pink shirted woman also created the bright pink hanging.

And Grace is pictured with her wall project and that hanging scarf mobile is hers too.

All fun and truly inspiring. As the instructor, Jennie, summed up -- these artists are now empowered to create without obstacles of presentation.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

sailors & beach waking





from Bahia Honda
first photo -- those small silvery jellyfish are "deceased" but the odd puffy thing held by the ranger is a man-of-war -- which can be a true super-villain. Even if you try to steer clear of them in the water, their tentacles octopus out....to about twenty-five feet. When Alan went snorkeling with a tour boat last week, I didn't go -- the water was too cold and rough for me. Four folks got seasick and a man was stung on his bald spot by a man-of-war.
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FL Update

Really enjoyed the both parks and marinas we stayed at in the Keys -- Pennekamp and Bahia Honda.
Then we returned to the Miami area to begin two weeks of activities with family and friends. Stayed at Black Point State Park and Marina and had a delightful conversation with the dockmaster there. Only problem -- the wonderful all-outdoors restaurant there gets raucous. We had been used to sleeping with the boat open...catch the breezes, see the night sky (had fabulous full moon) but if we did that at this marina, we'd get loud lousy music and a greasy french fry smell. So slept with hatch closed and the AC on.

And now, Alan and I have parted ways.

We are not together --
for a week. Pre-planned and fun.

We both liked the idea of him keeping to his annual tradition of boating with a couple of his close friends. Donald and Isaac flew down and the three of them are now off on an adventure.

I am staying with my brother and sister-in-law in their lovely home in Naples, FL. Although I wondered what I would do here for a week...it seems like we won't have time to take advantage of all the wonderful possibilities.
Yesterday the three of us rode bikes about five and a half miles through Naples, lunched at the great Dock Restaurant, and then biked back (I find pedaling after eating more difficult).

Today I was a solo woman of leisure -- went for a haircut, to the library and out to lunch, and a matinee. Finally saw (and loved) Slumdog Millionaire.

More activities planned -- I get to go to a collage class with my artist, sister-in-law Phyllis and to a gallery opening.
I'll post some of her paintings.... but you can also check out her website.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Click Bored


so many internet ways to waste time
and to be creative?
if you follow this link -- of divisibe shapes -- you might lose ten minutes of work OR ?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009



I'm included...my short essay to be published in the anthology..coming out soon. Just in time for the 40th anniversary.

Just got photo of the cover but haven't read the other entries yet. What a hoot!

Today's Catch - The Atlantic View

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(you can click on the photos in the collage for larger views)

The Continuing Adventures of Lady Landlubber and Captain Waterboy

When I mention this part of the Dream Year -- us traveling with the boat for the next few weeks with friends and family and our plans to motor/sail up the ICW from FL to Virginia in April -- there are those who are impressed. Some actually get starry-eyed, envying us the adventure. But many of you have told me -- I'll continue to read your blog but I'm not a boat person. True confession – neither am I.

Years ago, in a NH craft co-op, I bought a lovely painted tile. The scene of a woman reading cozily in an overstuffed chair by an open window, the curtain blowing in a slight breeze. Her view is overlooking a sailboat out on the nearby water. Ahhh...my perfect vision because I love to be by water, near water, overlooking the water. I like the sights and sounds and smell of the ocean, rivers, lakes, and ponds. And sometimes I like being in it -- splashing or snorkeling or some water sports, espec. kayaking.

But I can't swim, hate cold water, don't like being damp at the end of the day, and get both seasick and sick from motion sickness medication. As for sailing...I don't understand the wind, can't read a chart, and definitely don't like the run in heavy winds with the boat keeling over.

So how did I end up here?
As you know, the captain loves water. Thrown in the pool by his father when he was eighteen months old, rather than form a lifetime phobia or a relentless resentment at the potential abuse, Alan swam. And took to boats like, well, of course, -- a fish to water. He owned boats before I knew him and jointly owned a 17 foot day sailboat when I meet him in graduate school. Yet for years, we didn't talk much about boats. After all, we moved upstate NY-- not close to boatable bodies of water.

I don't know exactly how and when it happened but some of our vacations became boating holidays. I initiated the first family outing when I signed Alan, Rebecca, and I up for a few days on a restored racing yacht out of Camden, Maine. During that lovely time on the water, Captain Jory taught Rebecca the card game Go Fish, we were served simple and delicious vegetarian meals, and we caught the local Shakespeare in the Park right across from the dock as we disembarked.

We also sailed in Canada. And I encouraged Alan to go off with sailing buddies which he did to FL and the Caribbean. In 2001, the semester after the last college tuition payment, Alan asked me to go shopping with him. We make a good negotiating team and purchased a brand-new 26 foot trailerable MacGregor sailboat with a 50 horsepower engine.

Over the years I’ve certainly been initiated into the boating life and had some harrowing experiences on boats including our own, Dream On…we endured an engine fire, we dragged anchor in a lightening storm, we’ve run aground, motored through three and a half days of rain, and were hit by another boat – at dock while we were sleeping.

I am a fair weather, calm water type of boater. I like leisurely motoring on a canal, approaching a city from its waterway, exploring towns from their ports, chatting with other boaters at marinas, and the sensations of the outdoors, warmth and breezes, viewing the sunrises, sunsets and night skies.

I look forward to new sights and experiences along the ICW as well as enjoying how much Alan enjoys being on the boat, and how he looks younger and laughs more when he is sailing. It’s obvious…a major reason to spend more time on the boat is because I love the captain.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Day at the Park

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Bahia Honda FL State Park and Marina
(click on collage for larger views)

Seduced to go Shrimping




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Dock friend, Dave, enticed me to go shrimping by noting it was definitely a bloggable event...and as you can see, it was. Alan and I joined the family, Dave and Jess and Sugar and Bob, and the volunteer group from the Univ of Toledo on Alternative Spring Break.

Humans armed with nets and flashlights pointed into the water, those poor little critters never had a chance.

And then I missed the last part so no photos of...pinching off their heads and cooking the headless bodies for three minutes in boiling water.

I admit, I really do like shrimp cocktail!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Signs of the Times



Loving signs, subtle and overt, and campground views.
This hot pot on the dock (photos above) and words on the side of a truck (no photo available):

"Have breakfast with an international diplomat and a rock star fresh out of rehab?"

Hmmm, I read -- what's that about?

Next line... "We'll drop them off early?"

Did you guess yet?
It was a sign/ad for a newspaper. Clever indeed.
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Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo FL

I am sitting in the van in the parking lot next to the JPennycamp Marina.
Alan is going out on the boat with a lovely couple from the Boston area in their 30s who we met here. She's a clinical social worker and he is an author of young adult novels and a fiction writing instructor.
(Check out his website:
I'd have bought his books today but alas, they are not available in ebook/Kindle version).
I don't want to be out on the boat today but will probably go kayaking later with Alan like I have done for the last two days. Beautiful calm protected waters for small boats but they will be out in bigger waters.
We will probably come back here when Rebecca is visiting in two weeks.

Yesterday was an incredibly lovely day.
Our upstate NY friend, Eve is down visiting with family and she and her sister and brother-in-law came to spend the day. I had prepared a picnic lunch. They didn't want to go out on the big boat but four of us went kayaking. Eve's sister was initially reluctant and Alan is great encouraging folks with those hesitations. Now she loves kayaking and would go again and would buy one, etc.!!
She and Alan went out in our inflatable and Eve and I rented a two-person sit-upon.
(I left my camera in the van).

Later we got a recommendation for a restaurant from the man who runs the marina and it was great. Sundowner in Key Largo. The whole thing including a small band singing about the sun going down as we were watching it from an incredible vantage point, at an outdoor table. (Photo below) The fish dinners were very good and Alan and I are doing a test-taste of key lime pies....
We wonder if there is a company named "Best" who distributes to all the restaurants in the Keys because so many places have signs -- Best Key Lime Pie.

FL - Pennycamp and Key Largo




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