Monthly Archives: December 2007

Happy Holidays

Good morning everyone and a very happy holidays to all of you. We are waiting for the kids to rise and the chaos to begin. But joyous chaos it is. They have been camping out in Courtney’s room since 0330 waiting to come down stairs, Courtney in her mattress on the floor and Sawyer lying on the floor by her side. We spent the better part of an hour trying to get them to settle back to sleep. I peeked in on them and the image of his bare feet sticking out from under the thin single blanket will stick with me. Even without a whole lot of sleep we count these as the best of the best moments.

The kids made a snow man in the yard yesterday. As you can see this is no ordinary snow man. From the depths of their imagination came the magic, the magic that is our Christmas, where snowmen can water ski! Courtney lost another front tooth last night and so we were visited by the Tooth Fairy and Saint Kick all in one night. Does it get any better than that. So with all the fears that we as parents have about our children valuing the magic of Christmas, giving with love, and receiving with grace, I think we do OK. Our children shine with the light of the season.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good. Enjoy the magic.

Bottom of the Tide

Good morning everyone. It is a rather warm morning here created by low pressure passing to the west of us and sweeping with it moist tropical air right up the coast. Seems like winter is taking a rest according to the forecast and rain is predicted to fall tonight. We have a few roofs with 18″ of snow on them which need to get shoveled off today.

Today is the full Cold moon. With the winter solstice and the moon at perigee (closest to Earth in its orbit) just yesterday the tides are responding predictably. So here in New England we are at the bottom of the tide, figuratively and literally. The light begins to return. We have gained a minute of light and the sun has gained a minute of declination on its northward journey since yesterday; all these celestial events according to the Old Farmers almanac. The tides in Camden are the biggest of the year. 13.4 feet of tidal range separate high tide this morning from low tide this afternoon in a place where the average tide is closer to 9.5 feet. But the ebb and flow of the tide is mirrored in our psyches. I know the light is returning and with it my spirits lift. Sailing is on its way! Imagine… sitting on the rail soaking up sun and laughter and the smell of an ocean breeze. We will enjoy the cave of darkness for a few months yet but by the end of February we will be positively chomping at the bit to tear the cover off and bend on sail. Ah, patience young firecat. All in good time. May the returning light fill your soul with warmth to carry you through the darkness ahead.

Have a great day. Be well. Be good.

A Quick Ride

Hey Y’all. Good morning everyone. I just returned from an unexpected trip to Texas taking a very long plane ride to take a very quick boat ride from Galveston to Texas City to bring Elissa from her year round berth at the Texas Seaport Museum to the Bollinger Shipyard for several weeks in the dry dock.
Somehow as luck would have it I was able to sneak out between snow events and enjoy a day in the sun. Once again the volunteers and museum staff made my job a simple one; just 9 miles up the channel to the yard and back her in to the dry dock. There was the usual assortment of moving targets to avoid: ferries, crew boats, tankers, and shrimpers. Why is it that the most shrimp seem to be found in the very middle of the channel? The Houston ship channel is one very busy place. As you can see Elissa is high and dry. For the next few weeks the Coast Guard will have a chance to give her a very thorough inspection and the ship will receive new paint below the waterline. The propeller, which gets fouled after months of sitting idle will get buffed and look like new. You know I was just writing and dreaming last week about going for a boat ride and the feel of being aboard a moving vessel was just the fix I needed. It took all the discipline I could muster not to take a right out of Galveston into the Gulf of Mexico and set sail. Wouldn’t it be nice to go for sail?

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Cookies for Santa

Greetings everyone. It’s definitely feeling and looking like Christmas here. The kids are in full swing with school activities and playing elves here at home. Their stockings are hung by the fireplace and the cookies are baked. They wanted to share one of their favorites with you. So here is a “quick and easy” cookie for Santa. We promise, they are quick and easy! Enjoy and happy holidays!

Festive Shortbread Logs

1 cup buter (no substitutes), softened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¬Ω cups semisweet chocolate chips (or milk choc bars)
4 teaspoons shortening
¾ cup ground walnuts

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioners’ sugar. Add vanilla. Gradually add flour; mix well. With lightly floured hands, shape tablespoonfuls into 2-in. logs. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes or until edges and bottom are lightly browned. Cool for 2-3 minutes before removing to wire racks.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle chocolate over half of the cookies. Dip one end of remaining cookies into chocolate, then sprinkle with walnuts. Yield: 4 dozen.
(Sawyer likes to add crushed peppermint candies ontop.)
This is from:
Taste of Home’s Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook 2002

Windjammer Elves At Work

Good morning everyone. The little windjammer elves are at work. It may be Sunday but with Christmas just around the bend the pressure is on to get the cards in the mail and cookies made for the neighbors. We are having quite the snow event here with snow easily falling at the 1″/hour rate, maybe even faster this last hour. Bring it on! You know we love the snow. I just came in from shoveling off the shop roof. I am not sure how much more weight the sagging spruce pole rafters were going to take. One of my winter projects is to get new rafters and metal roofing on the shop. The good news is that it only leak when it rains.

I rowed my way through the skim ice yesterday afternoon to double check the chafe gear and the bilges. All is well aboard the schooner. I gave the lonely rocking chair a little pat. The harbor is lovely in the darkness and all was very quiet. I really just wanted to keep rowing for a while. There is a bright white star atop Mt Battie that is lit all through the holiday season. I would love to see it from the islands. I think I am starting to get hungry for a sail on the bay.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Weekly Windjammer Work Update

Good morning everyone. It is hard to believe that the thermometer is reading just 8 degrees this morning when yesterday morning it was well up into the 30s. Taking advantage of the broken up ice on the harbor I went out to check the schooner. All is well there.

As you can see Mary’s new wood shed is coming along nicely. For those of you who have ever had the joy of rifling under a snow covered tarp to get to your firewood, well, you know how luxurious this shed will be. Mary already has her boxes of gardening supplies lined up on the kitchen floor headed for the storage side of the shed. We should finish up the roof boards today and start in on the trim, the precursor to clapboard siding. For the curious, yes, Mary will be returning to sail another season. I can hear the angels singing from here.

Back on the home front Elisa and Jen are balancing office, firewood, kids, and family Christmas preparations. As some of you are seeing Jen has created a cool newsletter. We spent the weekend stamping and labeling. With all the post office has on its hands nowadays it is amazing that these get anywhere but we are already hearing from some of you making plans for next year. The annual calendars should be in the mail very soon.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Thumpety Thump

Good morning everyone. A very light snow is drifting down onto the several inches we have received over the last few days. It looks like it will be a white Christmas here on the Maine coast.

We made our annual offering to the forest creatures at the Giving Tree just out at edge of the swamp behind our house. The kids lay down a sweet feast of apple slices for the beings out there. With snow this early I am sure that everyone out there will be thankful for the offering. Seems like a silly thing but to us the Giving Tree, a very large hemlock with wide sweeping branches, reminds us that we are not alone on the planet.

During the sailing season we have the constant and magnificent reminders; seals basking on the ledges, eagles calling from the island woods, porpoise surfacing for a breathe in the darkness. These moments touch our hearts with the thrill of connectedness. With the new moon just past the stars have been especially brilliant at night. I look up and feel like a speck only to be brought back to earth by the call of a barred owl in the woods. And my heart goes thumpety thump again. Last night we spent the evening making crafts with friends we do not see often enough. Thumpety thump again. The thrill of connectedness finds us in surprising places. I hope you notice when your heart goes thumpety thump today.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Mary’s Shed

Good morning everyone. A very chilly 3 degrees here this morning. The stars twinkle more brightly than ever. First light is coming over the ridge. Today we pause to remember the events at Pearl Harbor. On the way home from work yesterday I had a myopic driver on my tail and was thinking of a bumper sticker I would like to put on my truck, “Slow down…Life is fragile.” I should thank that driver sometime for reminding me of what I value most.

Bruce and I are pounding along, literally, on Mary’s new shed. The walls are all framed up. The building takes a little more form. Mary warmed the day with steaming hot blueberry muffins for coffee break. I told Mary she could start moving the wood in any time she wanted. We are all taking a day to attend to our other jobs. Bruce is a caretaker of a small island summer cottage while Jen and I have a meeting this morning. We will get to the rafters and roofing next week. We are having fun and that makes the chilly days as warm as Mary’s muffins. If you have ever had a chance to sail with Bruce you know he is full of stories. Ask him to tell you the one about the chalk line.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Good morning everyone. Well we had a great snow storm here yesterday. (11″at the official Schooner Mary Day Global Headquarters/Appleton Weather Circus measurement station, the barbeque on the porch.) Actually it is still snowing lightly this morning. The kids had a chance to stay home from school and play in the snow all day. We took advantage of the day to set up the Christmas tree and catch up on office work. (Yes, crew your sea time letters are in the mail at last.) Is it me or have you ever noticed that having a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree is right up there on the list of holiday cool. Well our indoor tree is a long way from Currier and Ives but we love it just the same and it has lots of cool factor. Hanging all those homemade ornaments that the kids made in pre-school is a joy. Made with pipe cleaners, construction paper and lots of glitter they make the tree complete. Nadie got to put the angel on top, an honor worth fighting over in this house! Our outdoor Christmas tree stays lit year round. We let nature do the decorating. Now that has all the Currier and Ives one could ask for.

I took a long walk in the woods yesterday afternoon under the guise of hunting. The woods were quiet and the snow deep. The kids and I plowed late in the afternoon. Nadie actually fell asleep in Sawyer’s lap while riding shotgun. Very cute.

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.

Winter Arrives

Good morning everyone. Well it has been a while since my last entry. No excuses. Just taking a break here in my random musings. This blog thing takes time and energy both of which have been scarce since the end of the season. I appreciate your patience. I do not always understand how much a season takes out of us. The end of the season let down hits differently every year. We give as much as we can and love every minute of it but it does leave us with an end of the season hangover. Remember the tapes thing I mentioned last blog. I was inspired by Ed who posted a new tape on YouTube. What I appreciated about Ed’s video of still shots was the way he made a new tape of sailing Mary Day. It got me thinking that I could re-visualize some old tapes by inserting new images. Thanks Ed!

We spent the last few days getting ready for the big snow event. A last minute check of the schooner, all well, bilges dry, chafe gear in place. Get firewood loaded in to the house and barn. The second round of leaf raking will have to wait ’til next spring. The bees are wrapped in tar paper to give them a little solar gain. I did not get a chance to wrap the fruit tree trunks to protect them from girdling by mice and will have to go down to field this morning before the snow gets too deep. We hiked out in to the woods to get our Christmas tree late yesterday afternoon. The small boats have finally been covered. And 7 cords of firewood are sitting in the wood “pit” waiting for splitting. Elisa has been knocking that out for the last week.
The barn needed a new wood stove installation which was completed last week. Bruce and I have just started building a firewood/storage shed for Mary. With the looks of the forecast I don’t think we will be back there until Thursday. The website has been updated. Let us know if you see anything we have missed. The newsletter and Christmas cards are at the printers and should be sent before the end of the year. Just in time for the new brochure which we have been working on as well.

So as you can see we have been a little busy. All this and hunting season too. I have spent a fair amount of time in the woods these past few weeks, early morning and late afternoons in particular. The Appleton Volunteer Fire Department had our first chimney fire of the season at 5 AM this morning. Thankfully things have been quiet with the ambulance but the slick roads today might change that. Drive carefully out there, please! For those of you admiring the 4′ wreath on the schooner, our friend Tracy tied that one. It makes all other wreaths look anemic in comparison. Thanks Coach!

Have a great day. Be well. Do good.