Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas in the Keys

Christmas in the tropics can be a little surreal when the only thing white is the sand on the beaches, the parades all involve boats, and the temperatures rise into the 80's. Even the lights here are different with palm trees, dolphins, flamingos, and elf-eating alligators...and not a pine tree or a snowflake in sight. But it is still Christmas and still a time to be celebrated with friends [in lieu of family] and good food. Our Christmas Eve involved a 16lb prime rib [purchased the day before at the GFS Market in Key West] slowly rotating to perfection in the rotisserie while friends gathered on the boat and Rudolph led Santa's sleigh across the harbor sky...really. He flew right over us. We all saw it.

Christmas morning found us opening presents from care packages from home and I donned a bikini top while making the dressing for dinner. It was warm.

A huge celebration was held here at the marina sponsored by our harbormaster, Richard Tanner, and his wife Arla. About 250 boaters-away-from-home showed up and brought a dish to accompany the turkeys, hams, and potatoes provided. Jeff and I opted for a quieter dining experience and after making the rounds through the marina to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, we joined friends from Louisville who had their RV in a park just the other side of the 7-mile bridge for turkey and all the fixings.
So, it wasn't cold, and it wasn't white, but it was a very, merry Christmas.
We hope yours was too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I know all of you with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures will truly appreciate the latest "cold front" to make the news here in the Keys. It made it all the way down to 57 degrees overnight! Brrrrrr......
We are on the warming up side of it today and temps will rise to the mid- 70's.
The tourists and new arrivals have become very easy to pick out. They are the ones still sporting shorts and t-shirts while all the locals are walking around in long pants and are bundled up...although most of them are still wearing flip-flops.
In our defense, it does seem colder on the water and 57 is a little chilly to wake up to. Showering is a brisk experience and somewhat unpleasant once you come out of the hot water.
And it was in the high 80's just last week.
Cold is all about perspective.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Out of Order

I have been a little hard on my cell phone. The conditions here are not ideal for electronic devices. The salt air alone is quite treacherous. Then add to it wet dinghy rides, sand, and long drops from my pocket to the garage floor and you can imagine the toll it can take:

My poor phone has taken it's last abuse.
First, it would randomly power itself off. Then the screen wouldn't light up. Now, it refuses to power on at all.
So, if you've placed a call or a text in the last few days...I probably didn't get it.
But never fear! A new phone will soon be on it's way!
A nearly indestructible phone at that...
Hopefully it will be able to withstand life on the S/V Exposure.

It's the Samsung b2100 and it's considered a "tough" phone.
It also features an MP3 player, FM radio, and a built in flashlight.
We shall see just how tough it is.
Wish me luck.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Angela's Visit

My friend, Angela, and I share the same birthday [albeit hers came several years after mine] and we've known each other for at least 12 years now. She visited the S/V Exposure and the Florida Keys for the first time last week. She flew in from Dayton, OH, leaving the cold and dreary and arrived at FLL Thursday afternoon to temps in the high 80's and sunny skies. I met her at the airport with a refreshing, tropical drink and we spent the time on the way back catching up and getting reacquainted. We arrived in Marathon well past sunset and Jeff was waiting to ferry us back to the boat. I had planned ahead and made up a dish of stuffed shells topped with meat sauce before I left for the the only thing to be done was to pop it in the oven and enjoy a nice dinner on the boat.
The next morning we were up early [apparently we do that a lot here!] and while Jeff headed off to work, I took Angela on a tour of the harbor in the dinghy and then we headed out Sister's Creek for the beach. After a stroll on the beach, we decided we were hungry and headed back to get some lunch at Burdine's, a quaint waterfront eatery known for their their hand-cut french fries. After lunch, I decided that Angela's pale self had had enough sun so we opted for some indoor souvenir shopping and a quick stop at Daffy Doug's Discount Dollar. By then, Jeff was finished with work and we all went back to the boat to relax and enjoy the sunset. For the evening's entertainment, we decided to head to Castaway's by boat for some excellent sushi and great music by Dan Sullivan. Saturday morning, Angela and I headed to yoga and then the Stuffed Pig for a late breakfast.
The weather took a stormy turn for the worse as we headed back to the boat so we took the opportunity to take a bit of a nap until the rain stopped. Normally, Saturday night would mean music at the tiki hut but the weather just didn't accommodate. So, we had a tasty dinner of pork & sauerkraut on the boat and turned in early.
We woke up to a beautiful day on Sunday and decided to take the boat out for a spin. There was no wind to speak of, but the motor needed to be run and we needed diesel.
We picked up a few friends on the way out of the harbor and while at the fuel dock, a fishing boat pulled in and I managed to procure us several spiny lobsters for dinner.
I haven't mentioned it yet, but Angela is a great photographer and since we didn't want her skills or her camera going to waste, once we were out of the channel we launched her in the dinghy to take some photos of the boat under sail.
The photos turned out beautiful...don't you think?

It would have been a great time to see some dolphins swimming along with the boat, but unfortunately, the only wildlife we saw was one of the more illustrious [ read: thinks he's a viking. ] harbor residents had gotten completely plowed and decided to take his homemade boat for a spin.
We all got a huge laugh when he finally figured out where the "voices" were coming from and looked up to see our 37' sailboat circling his 10' dragon boat. We convinced him to hoist the sails for a photo op and then left him to his own devices. Don't worry. As hammered as he was, he dropped the sails, started the outboard and actually beat us back to the harbor.

On the way back to the ball, we dropped all our extra guests off at their respective's amazing how much driving the pump-out boat has improved Jeff's abilities to navigate this boat in tight places! Not that he was ever bad at it, but to watch him pull up right beside another boat while the other person jumps on or off is pretty spectacular.
Once we were securely tied up, and after another amazing sunset, it was time to prep the lobsters. I, off course, elected Jeff to do the dirty job of cleaning the spiny, little bugs...which involves separating the tails from the other bits and then using an antennae to devein. Ick.
After spending a little time under the broiler, the lobsters were delicious served with some buttered noodles, fresh steamed broccoli, and a bowl of hot, drawn just doesn't get any better. Yummy.

Monday brought us another beautiful day here, although Angela had reports that it had snowed back home. Her & I donned our tennis shoes and headed for the old 7-mile bridge. I had heard that if you walked it on a calm day with the sun high in the sky you could see rays and sharks...and we saw both!

We came across at least a dozen huge, spotted eagle rays, a couple of different rays, and one very large nurse shark.
Once we reached Pigeon Key, I sought out a shady spot while Angela very slowly, and very carefully traversed the somewhat suspect ramp that leads to the island. I told her not to look down, but she apparently couldn't help herself.
Then, since we walked to the island, it was mandatory that we walk back...and at high noon it probably wasn't the most fun Angela had. But we made it and then headed straight to Porky's for some sustenance and lots of iced tea! It was nice just to sit and peel the tennis shoes & socks off...although probably not proper restaurant etiquette.
Tuesday morning came way to soon and sadly it was time to take Angela back to the airport. But the fun wasn't over yet. We stopped at Robbie's and fed the tarpon and wandered the little shops, then made a stop at the Blue Marlin in Key Largo for huevos rancheros with chorizo, cuban toast, cafe con leche [cuban coffee], and fresh squeezed orange juice.
We made it to the airport without any delays, and although it took Angela a little more time than expected to make it back to Dayton...she did make it home safe and sound.
We think she might have caught a bit of Keys Disease while she was here and hope she'll come back soon!

All pictures by Angela Koch
Click on photos to enlarge...can you find the shark?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Work

We originally thought we'd be finishing up the new battery bank this weekend but we came up 2 feet short on wire and no where open to buy more until Monday. So, with that project coming to a screeching halt we dug in and took on a couple more.
Jeff recently acquired a rowing dinghy that had been left here by a former resident 6-8 months ago. After making a phone call, the owner was surprised to hear the boat was still floating and since he had tried to give the dinghy away before he left, he said Jeff was welcome to have it. So we towed it back to our boat in it's water-logged condition and Jeff got in the water and scraped off the reef-like layer of fire coral, tunicates, and barnacles that probably weighed more than the dinghy itself.

After a couple of weeks of drying out in the sun, the boat was ready for some sanding. Jeff took care of that in the garage...making a huge mess with fiberglass dust everywhere.

I remained a save distance away.

In anticipation of the chore I needed to complete, the previous day we had taken the inflatable dinghy to the beach and scraped the bottom clean so that we could haul it out of the water without making a huge mess. Then after running an extension cord half-way across the marina, I went to work with a heat gun and a scraper to remove the expired registration numbers. Next step...paint on the new ones.
So now our registration is legal and with any luck the numbers and letters will stay where I put them.

Jeff still has quite a bit more work to do on his free rowing dinghy and we'll take pictures of his progress along the way.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Dark and Stormy Night

Alright, with all the lightening that was going on it really wasn't that dark. But what a night it was! It started off with rain, which advanced to severe thunderstorms, which turned into a water spout [read small tornado over water] that tore through the harbor somewhere close to 3 am. I'd been awake for a while listening to the rain and boat noises...I finally looked at the clock at 2:26 am and then things got weird. There was a roar and you could hear stuff sliding around the top deck plus several things crashed inside the cabin. The boat shook and tilted dramatically to the port side. We were both up and out of bed and holding on. The dog slid from one side of the floor to the other. Then another roar and the boat shook and tilted again. All in all, the scary part was over fairly quickly. We then turned the VHF radio to 68 to see if anybody was on [68 is monitored here in the harbor during emergencies and weather events such as what had just occurred] and it seemed as if the entire harbor was awake. People were recounting events as they happened to them and checking on neighbors and friends to see how they had faired. It was then confirmed, that yes indeed, we had had a water spout pass through. Someone else came back to report that the previous gust of wind had registered 106.1 knots...which by my calculations is 122 mph. Eek. Next were reports of a boat being loose and drifting through the mooring field coming to rest at the seawall on the southern side. It smacked a few boats on the way [& came very close to us!] but no serious damage. Later, when the wind shifted the boat was on the move again. A harbor resident, monikered Fiberglass Dave, announced that he was headed out to secure the run-away boat and of course Jeff volunteered to assist. I knew he'd been chomping at the bit to go take care of it but knew he couldn't tow it with our 3.3 motor. At least Jeff isn't the only boy scout in this harbor and the two of them quickly secured the boat on an empty mooring. And in the meantime came the damage reports: ripped canvases, broken or missing wind generators, lightening strikes and fried electronics, a cap-sized trimaran [no one on board],and dinghies missing or flipped upside down - motor and all. Our neighbor in the houseboat sustained quite a bit of damage with the refrigerator toppling over as well as shelves, cabinets, and computers. He and his wife were fine although they had to avoid quite a bit of broken glass and debris. The only thing damaged on the S/V Exposure was the wind generator. We didn't break any blades or lose it, but it did lift off of it's base and is no longing producing electricity. Hopefully it's just a wiring issue. We lost a few items off the decks...all of which have been recovered this morning. My flowers look as if they've been been mown down - and I guess they were - but I think they'll recover when the sun comes back out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Birthday Company

Jeff turned 44 this past Sunday [Happy Birthday, Jeff!] & his momma, Denise, & her husband Kelly came to the boat for a nice long weekend to help celebrate.

The adventure started for Jeff and I on Wednesday. It was Veteran's Day, so Jeff had the day off. We planned ahead and made a Dr's appointment for the day off, booked a hotel near the FLL airport, and picked up Denise and Kelly when they arrived in the sunshine state Thursday afternoon.

Then it was back to the Keys for all of us.
Once off the mainland, we opted for Card Sound Rd. and made a pit stop at Alabama Jack's...a truly rustic slice of old florida. We found the food and drinks to be quite satisfactory...fabulous fish spread! And then we headed on down the road. Next stop was the Caribbean Club for a bit of history and to say hello to our favorite bartender. A quick visit to the African Queen, then, on to Marathon where we had a date with an entertainer. Dave Johnson had arranged to be playing at Porky's Bayside where we finished off our day with dinner, good music, and a bottle of wine.
Friday morning we started off the day with coffee @ sunrise. Then we all got dressed and headed out in the dinghy.
We had 2 errands to run. The first was a birthday delivery to a harbor resident who turned 72 November 12th. He's on a fixed income with no family so we took him a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, cupcakes, cheap cigarettes, and a 12-pack of Budweiser...our good deed for the day. The next stop was at another local boat to pick up a couple of freshly harvested sea sponges [gifts for mommas, aunts, and myself.] We dropped our loot at the boat and then into the docks to the car. We had a surprise planned for Kelly, an avid golfer.
We told him we had a tee time for him to shoot 9 holes and then took him to Boondocks for miniature golf. He says he figured out we were pulling his leg way before we ever got there, but he let out a chuckle when he saw the sign and knew for sure. We started off with some lunch in the Keys largest tiki hut. Denise and I split some lobster corn cakes and roasted asparagus with melted blue cheese and pine nuts. Jeff had a burger topped with chili and Kelly enjoyed a taco salad. Then it was off to the golf course...the Keys only miniature golf course. The weather was warm and beautiful and the coarse was just as beautiful - landscaped with tropical foliage, palms, and blooming mimosas. We had a great time. Kelly won. Denise and I tied for 2nd and Jeff brought up the rear. The highlight for me was hitting a hole in one...and then winning a sno-cone at the ball return.
Back at the boat, Denise and Kelly taught me a new card game while Jeff relaxed and read for a while. We ate a light dinner and called it a night.

Saturday morning we all woke up early and headed to the Cracked Conch Cafe for some breakfast. We hadn't eaten there before, but we were interested to learn about their late-night until midnight 7 nights a week.

Afterwards, Denise and I headed to yoga & the boys went to the gym. Then it was back to the boat for a little lounging around time.

There was a party/pot-luck planned at the marina to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the Marathon Cruiser's Net, the VHF radio program here in the harbor. I didn't want to feed our guests pot-luck, so I threw together a mac & cheese and cooked a slab of BBQ ribs in the rotisserie. We headed in for the end of the party and the beginning of the music at the tiki hut.

If you look closely, you'll notice Jeff's birthday present from his mom & Kelly clipped onto his shorts. It's a tiny battery-powered amp by Marshall and he loves it! Especially the distortion feature that makes him sound like a rock star.

[Thanks also to Uncle Bill for helping to find it!]

The night was a little chilly as you can see by all the fleeces and jackets, but still perfect weather for fall. A good time was had by all who, shaker eggs, and drums in hand.
We turned in fairly earler and went back to the boat to have dinner.

Sunday morning we awoke to another beautiful sunrise. We started off with coffee and I made some orange-cranberry scones from a mix I had picked up in NC from the Old Mill of Guilford. They turned out well...although how could they have been bad when the recipe calls for a whole stick of butter? By midmorning, we had moved on to bloody marys and then dressed and got ready to go for the next outing. We were off to Robbie's to feed the tarpon. Denise and Kelly had never taken the time to stop there and we ran out of time on our way from the airport. Upon arrival, we bought our buckets of fish and headed out to the docks. One difference from the last time Jeff and I stopped in was the presence of some very hungry, fairly menacing pelicans. We had visited prior to their annual migration south. This time you had to pick and choose where you tossed the fish food or else it became bird food.

Once our buckets were empty and the fish were full we headed to the surrounding booths of wares for sale. We all picked out pairs of cheap sunglasses and selected several pieces of artwork for boat, home, and gifts. Then we all piled back into the car, made a quick stop for lunch, and headed for the harbor. Back on the boat, we all took it easy for a while then played a couple hands of cards while watching the sunset. For dinner, we chose the Key Colony Inn, a favorite restaurant for tourists and locals alike. When we were all stuffed to the gills, with enough food left-over for us all to have another meal, we headed back to the boat for the night.

Monday morning came way too soon as Jeff headed off to work, and Denise and Kelly prepared to leave. It was my day to "controll" the net -- the VHF radio program -- and so at 9 am I did my radio thing then we left to pick up the rental car. A quick breakfast at Stout's and our company was on the road back to Ft. Lauderdale to catch a plane. We had a great time over the long birthday weekend and hope Denise & Kelly come back soon!

And since I couldn't squeeze one more photo into this blog:
Birthday Weekend Album
For best results, click on slideshow or flip through the photos in the album if you are so inclined.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Camera

And my reward for being a complete idiot and losing the camera?

A brand new, even better camera!


Check out what it can do:

It's shock-proof and water-proof and has all kinds of neat features.

I promise not to lose this one.
Thank you, Jeff!

Beware of Dogs

Beware of SUNDOGS, that is. I had never heard of, let alone witnessed a sundog until Thursday morning when someone pointed out a huge, rainbow colored ring around the sun. It was a beautiful, sunny morning and the ring around the sun was quite a phenomenon for an hour or so until the sun rose higher on the horizon. Sundogs, scientifically named parhelia meaning "beside the sun", occur most often at sunrise or sunset when the sun is low. They form when sunlight is refracted through ice crystals in cirrus clouds and often indicate that a drastic change in weather is on the way. Our drastic change has come as extremely windy conditions for the last 4 days [and running] with gusts of 25 - 30 mph. Today we have a wind advisory [gusts of 31 - 39mph] on land and a gale warning [39-54mph] on the water as well as small craft advisories. I just heard on the radio that a cruise ship has canceled docking today in Key West because it's too rough for them to come in. Whereas this would be just a windy day on land, it's quite blustery here on the boat. We've had to secure everything that could possibly blow away or bang around. I have the kayak lifted out of the water and secured to the side of the boat...although, I apparently did not have it secured well enough to start with as I noticed on one of trips outside that the kayak was actually flying along side the boat during an especially big gust. Getting off the boat is a little challenging with the water in the harbor being quite choppy. It's a wet and bumpy dinghy ride into the docks. Staying on the boat provides it's own challenges...all my tuperware lids have blown off the dish drying towel and my McDonald's coffee cup just won't stay put... and a little fancy footwork is required when the boat shifts. We've had a little rain, more mist than anything, and it's still a balmy 80 degrees. Hurricane Ida [recently downgraded to a tropical storm] has blown past us with little to no effect and things should be settling down later this afternoon.
Note: The picture shown is not mine, and not of the actual sundog that occurred on Thursday. It is extremely similar to what I saw and provides a visual on what a sundog looks like.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fantasy Festival 2009

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Jeff and I went down to Fantasy Fest for our first time for the pinnacle event, The Captain Morgan Fantasy Festival Parade. Although a big festival for Key West, coming from Louisville, Kentucky and dealing with the Derby Festival every year with crowd numbers well into the 100,000's, this crowd didn't seem too bad or too big. We arrived in Key West around 5 PM and parked the car very close to where we would have on a normal day and paid about the same amount. A quick walk down Caroline to Duvall and we were in party central. And talk about an eye full! Everywhere you turned was someone in costume or body-paint with varying degrees of nudity. The one thing we figured out right away is that you don't have to be THIN, YOUNG, PRETTY, or even TAN to walk around mostly naked during this festival. The costumes ranged from comical to wild to bizarre...with everything in between. We saw women of all ages, topless, with their breasts covered in paint in a wide variety of themes...pumpkins, apples, flowers, butterflies, flames, cat's eyes, or just splashes of color airbrushed on in littering swirls. Some of the painted had props to complete their ensembles as nurses, flight attendants, belly dancers, football fans, devils, angels, Daisy Duke [with short shorts literally painted on], vampires, witches, tigers, and several Eves made appearances with fig leaves painted in place. Men were dressed and painted as well as vampires, demons, devils, construction workers, indians, Homer Simpson, Aunt Jemima, Beetlejuice, the Riddler, Santa, the Pope, just to name a few.
We ended up staking out a great place to watch the parade -close to Captain Tony's so that we were close to a bathroom and refreshments. Then we just took in all the sights. I played photographer while Jeff stopped different interesting characters to take a picture. Everyone was in good spirits and everybody wanted to have their picture taken. One guy, dressed only in a strategically-placed, miniature hardhat stopped to ask if he could have his picture taken with Jeff [whom he referred to as "a sexy, little fireplug"]. What a HOOT!

The parade had about 50 some odd floats with different themes and sponsors. Most floats were accompanied by loud music & manned by costumed and nearly-naked people throwing beads into the crowd. Jeff and I caught our fair share. The parade ended on an odd note with a group of Jesus freaks letting us all know if didn't change our ways we'd all go to hell...and even that was entertaining.

At some point, we decided we'd had enough [talk about sensory overload!] and headed back to the car so we could grab a little dinner and head back to Marathon.
Once we were back at the car, I slid the camera off my wrist and set it on the car to take off my backpack. And that, tragically, is the last we've seen of the camera! I must have left it there as we drove off and it fell off somewhere. I've placed ads offering a reward for the return of the memory card...keep the camera...but have had no response yet.
So - no photos!
I did a little looking around on the net and found photos that others have posted. I chose photos for the slideshow that are either people we actually saw or are similar...just so you could get the flavor of the evening. This album [click on slideshow for an easy way to see all the photos]has a lot of good shots of the parade and this one has more pics of the night.
Despite losing the camera, we had a FANTASTIC time and are already making plans to go next year.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Fantasy Fest has been going on all this past week in Key West. It started last Friday with the crowning of the King & Queen and ends tomorrow when the fat lady sings...literally...@ the festival's final event, The Fat Lady Sings Tea Dance. Tonight, however, is when the largest event occurs, the Parade, and they expect 55,000 revelers to be along the route. Jeff and I are going to head that way around 3 this afternoon with the parade starting @ 7pm. That will allow us a little time to find a parking spot, check out the street fair, and maybe have a pirate punch @ Captain Tony's. Jeff and I are both Fantasy Fest virgins, so we will just have to see how much of the madness we can stand. There are a couple of webcams available so you can see for yourself and a parade cam as well. Originally conceived in 1978 as a way to boost the local economy in the slow season, Fantasy Fest has come a long way from it's humble beginnings as merely a street fair. The 10 day festival now includes a coronation [precede by several months of campaign events], balls, parties, parades [pet & people], masquerades, body-painting, costume contests, and a wide variety of other events - all with an air of debauchery. I have to get dressed now, but check back to see how this whole thing turns out. I'll be taking lots of pictures!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I think I have been perfectly clear in previous blogs that I don't measure...not well anyway. The cooking turns out just fine, baking not always so well, and I pretty much avoid sewing all together. But this evening, before settling down to watch the sunset with a cocktail and the Best of Bob Dylan [Thanks, Deb!] we had one more chore that needed to be accomplished & since Jeff was off at his guitar lesson - [YES, Jeff is taking guitar lessons! Very cool...a nice way to fine tune his playing and boost his confidence.] - so that left me to do the deed. What needed to be done was mixing the fuel for the dinghy. Since it's our only way to shore outside of swimming, it was important not to run dry. I packed up the jerry cans earlier and headed for the filling station. We have a 2-stroke motor which means oil has to be proportionately mixed into it before it goes into the tank...ah ha! Did you catch that word "proportionately"? That means I have to measure! But never fear. I did it perfect and exact and even discovered where my errant measuring cup has taken up residence. I even added just the right amount of stabilizer - very important in this salt air to keep the motor running& STARTING - and now I'll be headed back to that sunset...

Monday, October 19, 2009

On the Ball

Friday evening when Jeff got off work, we made the move to the mooring field. We chose ball N-1 for the time being but may pick a closer ball when one becomes available. Right now you can see us on the webcam but it's not a close enough shot to really recognize anything on the boat. We are the first boat in the first row to the right [or west] of the channel just past the new dinghy docks.
There are pluses and minuses to being on a ball. There's no more AC, but fortunately, the weather was cooperative and dropped 20 plus degrees during the night Saturday. There's no more electricity except for what we make with wind, solar, or the generator. So, power management just became very important. Water conservation just became very important as well because we only have so much in the tanks, and then you have to haul it out to the boat 6 gallons at a time. Getting off the boat requires a ride in the dinghy and more careful don't want to get all the way to shore and realize you forgot the car keys. Likewise, you don't want to get all the back to the boat and realize you are missing a key ingredient to dinner.
Saturday we got halfway in before noticing we'd forgotten the shopping list. We decided to "wing it" instead of turning around.
While it is certainly more work, the pluses outweigh the minuses. Our first night out provided us with a beautiful sunset that we wouldn't have seen from the dock and all the hatches are open now letting fresh air spill into the boat.
The boat gently rocks from side to side out here in the harbor as we shift with the wind around the ball...makes for good sleeping. Things are more peaceful and private. We've spent more time outside enjoying the view. Saturday I saw a turtle swim by and 2 water spouts in the distance. Normally, there's dolphins swimming around out here, but I haven't seen any yet. I'll be keeping an eye out for them.
Now, I don't want you to get the wrong impression and think we're roughing it out here. Right now, I have a pot of chili I just made on the stove, there's banana bread baking in the oven, there's ice in the ice maker, hot water in the tank, and tunes blasting through the stereo. All that, and I am twisting in the breeze with the water gently lapping the side of the boat and a panoramic view of the harbor. Life really is a ball!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lipstick On Your Collar

In order to get ready for the big move off the docks and out to a mooring ball, I did all the laundry yesterday. I'm usually pretty good about checking everybody's pockets because you never know what you're going to find in Jeff's but this time it was my pocket that was the culprit. I left a lipstick in a pocket...brand new, clinique, baby kiss, my favorite. It made it through the wash undetected and into the dryer which resulted in catastrophe. Little spots of lipstick on everything. All of my new Eddy Bauer shorts, eek. And 2 of Jeff's work shirts, double eek. So, I rushed to the grocery for a spot remover that promised to take out lipstick & came back to the boat and started spotting. It didn't seem to be working, but I was optimistic. The directions said for stubborn stains to let it soak for 4 hours or longer so I treated and let the load sit overnight.
Today I headed off for the washing machines with degreaser, detergent, spray n' wash, a tide stain lifter packet, and high hopes. How could any stain survive all that?
The lipstick barely budged. My wardrobe still looked as if it had had a run in with the Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2. I was forlorn. I checked No more shorts available. My mood accelerated to truly depressed. So I asked Jeeves what he would do to get out lipstick.

The results were many home remedies that had never occurred to me to try: denatured alcohol, toothpaste, hairspray, ammonia, & dish soap. First, I tried toothpaste and all it did was make the shorts smell minty. Not the result I was looking for. Dish soap was the next handiest thing. Eureka! The stain moved! After a little work with a toothbrush and it was almost gone. Yeah! I proceeded to retreat every spot of baked in baby kiss and then headed to the laundry room for one more load. The clothing came mostly clean with just a few remaining faded remnants. I'll retreat everything the next go around and I'll be adding dish detergent to my laundry kit. Jeff remained a good sport through the whole process...he's not very fond of those particular work shirts to begin with and this is not the first time his laundry has been affected by my lip-wear. Poor guy. But all's well that ends well, thanks to dish soap!
Who knew?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Movies in Marathon

Marathon has a movie theatre albeit a SMALL theater. It's one movie each choices...that's it. As a result, if you hear anyone in town talking about having gone to the movies and you too have gone to the movies, you have seen the same movie. This week's feature film was District 9 directed by Peter Jackson [think Lord of the Rings and 3 time academy award winner.] It was billed as a sci-fi mock documentary about alien [the Outer Space variety] refugees in South Africa and although the description did not appeal to me, here in Marathon, if you want to go to a movie you see what's showing. It was Sunday, I was bored and felt like getting off the boat for a little while. Since South Florida is currently under a "heat dome" which is pushing the heat index up well past 100 degrees, going to an air conditioned theater sounded like a good way to spend time. I called my friend, Karen, to see if she was game and we headed out for dinner [Lencho's] and a movie. Although large, loud, action-packed, and at times brutally bloody & violent, the movie ultimately had a serious premise paralleling the unjust racial segregation and the cruelties that occurred during the forced evictions of District 6 in Cape Town, South Africa during the apartheid.
My friend, Karen, on the other hand, saw the movie in a totally different light. Things struck her as funny and she laughed...out loud. Throughout the entire movie. And, because laughter is contagious, I laughed, too. We were the only ones. People thought we were odd. But, it made for an entertaining evening that her and I are still chuckling about.
So, District 9, a terrifying depiction of the human condition or, aliens as comedic relief? You'll have to decide for yourself.
It just goes to show, everyone may see the same movie in Marathon yet not see the same movie.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Boat Noodles

Living on a boat can sometimes be a challenge
when it comes to managing power, especially
when it comes time to cook dinner. Do I run
the generator so that I can run an electrical appliance [and heat up the boat] or do I use the grill or the propane stove? Right now, because we are plugged into the dock, I use the toaster oven, rotisserie, and microwave at will, but that will change when we move back out to a mooring ball.
At that point, propane will be the cooking fuel of choice.
I recently discovered a product at the grocery that was not only delicious, but lends itself to a live-aboard's sensibility as well. While looking for lo-Mien noodles for a recent night's dinner I found Tinkyada white rice spaghetti. The cooking instructions were simple yet intriguing:

**Cook 1 -2 minutes in boiling water. Switch off stove. Cover pot for about 20 minutes. Ready to serve.**

No extra propane.
No extra heat in the boat.
And the noodles promised to be "not mushy al dente," and "extra smooth."
And do you know what?
They were just as promised with a slightly chewy texture and light flavor.
I probably wouldn't have tried the rice pasta if I weren't making an oriental dish, but I thought they were great and wish that more of their products were available at my grocery store such as lasagna noodles and elbow macaroni.
Next time, I'll try the brown rice spaghetti, but between the flavor, texture, and energy saving cooking method this may be the only brand of noodle I buy again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dogs Night Out

One of the great things about being in the keys, is that there are quite a few places that dogs are welcome to tag along and encouraged to hang out. Janus has been to one of the best [and the oldest] restaurants in Key West, Pepe's, as well as several other fine establishments such as The Schooner Wharf Bar, B. O.'s Fish Wagon, and Captain Tony's Saloon. He's also wandered around the Home Depot [in Key West only - Marathon location unfortunately has a "No Dogs" policy] and was allowed into the Ace Hardware as long as he rode in a cart. He's also been to several places here in Marathon such as Dockside and Burdine's, where the dog got served a drink before the waitress would even wait on the humans at the table. Dogs are also permitted on nearby Sombrero Beach, which seems to be a situation that is getting rarer and rarer to find.
We recently expanded Janus' doggy horizons by taking him to the Caribbean Club after our long, rainy day trek to Miami for a Dr.'s appointment. There was already one dog in attendance at the Caribbean Club, and he and Janus made friends while Jeff and I sat at the bar and watched it sprinkle out the back door. Then, Janus enjoyed giving everything he could his own little sprinkle as he toured the water-front backyard.

The next night, we met some friends at Porky's Bayside for some dinner and live music. Porky's is a local eatery that specializes in BBQ, although they also offer Sebastian Inlet clams which I find I simply can not resist.
After a photo op with the evening's entertainer, our friend and neighbor Dave Johnson, Janus settled in and waited for the food to come. He behaved himself the whole time, met a new dog who just wandered through the restaurant, and was rewarded with several french fries & a bit of BBQ.

A good time for dogs and people alike!

Friday, September 25, 2009

It Could Have Been Worse

It's not pretty. It's still brown. It's still gooey. The cake did not rise to an appropriate level, and the slices of kiwi are not where I left them.
I guess, it could have been worse. Some how. In some way.
I still have high hopes that'll it taste good...
I realize now that I may have left off out a crucial part of the recipe:

" *Put on your apron - mix yourself a drink. Maker's on the rocks is nice. "

I'm sure that integral step would have improved something, even if it was only my disposition. And I don't mean the apron...what kind of sissy actually wears an apron?

The good thing is I already had a fabulous dinner planned for compensate for a sub-conscience premonition of imminent doom?Perhaps. Eh, who knows?!
Last night's dinner will be hard to top, but tonight's is definately at the very top of my favorites list: Perfectly marbled, ribeye steaks; baked potatoes w/ butter and sour cream; and a fresh green vegetable - which this evening will be locally grown, organic zuchini sliced in half, olive oiled, seasoned, & grilled. Mmmm. Accompanied by a nice red wine blend, the only thing that would make this meal any better [besides a dessert cooked the way it's supposed to be] would be a nice lobster tail and the only reason I didn't go procur a couple of those is that I thought it would be just too much food. Knowing I could have lobster makes me happy enough.
So, lessons learned?
~Live & learn.
~Play to your strengths, stick with what you're good at, & leave the baking to the apron-wearers of the world.
~Don't be too hard on yourself the first time you attempt something new.
~Just go ahead and ask Jeff's Momma for her recipe.
~And always bake with a little bourbon...maybe even add some to the cake!

Let Him Eat Cake!

So, I told Jeff I'd make him a cake today. It was totally my idea although right now, I'm wishing I had just kept my mouth shut. I am not a baker. I do not follow directions well...if ever. What was I thinking?
It all started because someone sent me a link to a blog that I might like. Well, I did like the blog. The latest entry was about cake [among other things]. I was inspired. I had also brought home from the buying club a whole bag of kiwis. New Zealand kiwis - as if there were any other kind. What am I going to do with a whole bag of kiwis? Ah, ha, I thought, "I'll make a kiwi-pineapple upside down cake!" Jeff loves pineapple upside down's his favorite and he hasn't had one since the last time his Momma made him one. I decided I would do it on Friday, and never gave it another thought. But now it's Friday...cake-making day. So, I looked back at the recipe that started the whole thing. It required separating eggs. Why, if all the parts are going into the mix anyway, must I separate them first? Eegads. It also required baking that anything like baking soda? I have baking soda...powder is a stretch. A mixer? Forget about it. My egg whites will have to remain un-stiffened. Alright, plan B. I ran for the nearest search engine and typed in "easy pineapple upside down cake recipe."
Ah...cake mix! Long live Betty Crocker!
But I still have my doubts. There's that whole topping thing...which is currently the bottom thing. It's brown. And gooey. And I just don't know.
I'm going to go stare at it though the oven door...that should help.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


As of the Equinox on Tuesday, fall has fallen even if the temperatures here have not. Although there are no visible signs of the change in seasons, something in my psyche has noticed the shift and has manifested itself in my cocktail preference. Normally, rum would be the drink of choice here in the islands. Boats and rum have gone hand in hand throughout history ever since the Royal Navy captured Jamaica in 1655 and made rum part of the daily rations. But rum isn't what flows into my cups these days. Since the arrival of Autumn, I've switched to bourbon.
Maybe it was remembering touring Woodford Reserve Distillary with family while the leaves were changing colors or maybe it was the season opening UofL vs. UK game...always a good day for sipping bourbon no matter who wins although, I am very disappointed to add that UofL lost 27 - 31. Maybe it's wishful thinking on my part that by switching to my cool weather cocktail the weather will have to follow suit.
I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Will Work 4 Veggies

You're probably getting a little tired of hearing about vegetables, but it's my blog and you'll have to humor me.
It's not our week to get a share of produce from the buying club. We're on a by-weekly basis. But, I had stopped by the health food store, Food for Thought, to get a book [Anne Bishop's 2nd book of the Black Jewels Trilogy] & some Happy Hen eggs and I asked Ellin [owner/proprietor] if she was going to need any help the next day. She thought she had it covered. Later that evening, Jeff's phone rang and after answering it, he handed it to me. It was Ellin asking if I could lend a hand after all, but instead of just volunteering for free, I'd get 1/2 a share of veggies.
I arrived as the truck was just finishing unloading and got to work sorting, counting, and weighing. For about 2 hours of work...which I LIKE doing anyway...I brought home a bag of broccoli, kale, peaches, pluots, green beans, grapes, strawberries, purple onions, 3 bulbs of garlic, and 1 golden kiwi.
So, I work for veggies!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, me maties!
Today is National Talk Like A Pirate Day!
So don your gold earrings, eye patches, and peg legs and go out and plunder something, damn ye! Arrg!