Friday, January 29, 2010


You may remember from a previous blog entree, way back in November, the 1/2 sunken, rowing dinghy that Jeff procurred and then pulled out of the water. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the dinghy in its derelict, couldn't-even-give-it-away-state. But believe me, it was atrocious with its stinky, black sludge swishing around on the inside and the gooey mounds of unfettered growth on the bottom. It was missing a corner and most of it's paint and in desperate need of repair.

Well, it has finally hit the water again...resurrected from the dead... after months in the garage and hours and hours of Jeff's time. With it's Hatteras white interior, burgundy hull, black bottom paint, stainless steel oarlocks and lifting eyes, new transom plate, and new aluminum oars the small boat has gone through a vast transformation and has turned out to be quite striking. It's still missing it's sleek black rub rail because it's just been too cold to get the material adequately warm to be pliable enough to form to the hull contours and stretch over the bow. Jeff decided to go ahead and launch it without the rail and pull it out once the weather warms a bit.

With the dinghy splashed and tied to the docks, we stood admiring the shiny, new paint job and assessing the waterline from across the canal. Within minutes another dinghy carelessly crashed into the tiny red boat hard enough to make us both cringe. No damage but is hard for a dinghy! So, on second thought, we may opt for the not-quite-as-pretty padded side rail and keep the damages done by others to a minimum.
For now, she's [all boats are women, right?] safely tied behind the sailboat.
Jeff says his rowing skills are a little rusty at the moment, but he's looking forward to the wind settling down a bit and taking the little red row boat out for a spin.
We haven't given it a name yet...any suggestions?
See a slideshow of the work in progress~

Or try here...& then click on "slideshow" [upper left] for a bigger, better view.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Australia Day

Yesterday was Australia Day and one of our harbor residents, Peter Barker , who hails from the Land-Down-Under celebrated by "dressing" his sailboat, Bowtie Lady, with brightly colored banners & making huge signs that said "G-day!" Both signs and boat were then strategically placed at the seawall to be viewed by the marina webcam and hence, Peter's friends & family back in Australia. He even decorated the pump-out boat with one of his messages to home. Peter is a great guy to talk to with his aussie accent and quaint phrasings such as "Good on ya" when you've completed a task or his polite "G'day, Madam" as he greets you in passing. His colorful display brightened the day and put a smile on everyone's face.
Happy Australia Day!

And speaking of Australian's...
If you haven't checked out the blog of 16-year old Australian, Jessica Watson, who plans to be the youngest person to solo-handedly sail around the world then you should! G'day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

asdfjkl; ?

The asdfjkl; keys on the new Dell Inspiron laptop have mysteriously stopped working. They suffered no trauma or spills, and no other keys except those known as the "home" keys have been affected. Weird, huh?
I did a restart.
I did a system restore.
I ran the virus software...again.
@ some point, I figured out how to pull up the on-screen try to communicate without your home keys! It's only slightly worse than trying to type with the on-screen keyboard.
I did a google search. It came right up: "asdfjkl; keys not working" but everyone had theories, no answers.
I contacted Dell through "Live Chat" & waited while 74 other people received assistance.
Zaheer [of course], my Dell representative, seems to think it's a hardware problem & is sending us a new keyboard which I will have to figure out how to install. Zaheer says it's easy. Zaheer barely speaks english that I am capable of understanding...he had to call me once he remotely disconnected my internet connection...yet he has the utmost confidence in my abilities.
We'll see.
& then we'll see if it truly fixes the problem.
In the meantime, this on-screen keyboard sucks.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Concert in the Harbor

Yesterday evening, the sailboat Maggie M performed a concert here in the harbor from the back of their boat. Boaters were invited to dress warmly, bring a beverage, and raft up behind the stern to listen to french folk songs, classical guitar, and opera. It is the third such event that they have hosted, the other 2 being in the Bahamas.
I took the opportunity to play with the panorama setting on my camera to try and get the whole scene. [Click on either of the above pictures and they'll get bigger.]
It was a fairly good turn out considering the cold, the wind, and the lack of sun. Boaters are a hearty lot and not likely to miss out on a cultural event right in our own "backyard."
The music was quite delightful and I captured just a small part of it to share.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

When I was a kid, I would always wish for snow [and the subsequent school closing] on my birthday...and for the most part I got my wish for there was only a year or 2 in my scholastic career that school was not snowed out on January 11th. This year, it seemed as if the snow were trying it's best to find me here in the FL keys and as a result it was very cold indeed, with the longest running cold spell in history and record low temperatures.
So, not only was it too cold to do much of anything fun, but my birthday fell on a Monday this year... un-argument-ably the worst day of the week. Egads & ick. Jeff and everyone else I know had to work, but I decided to make the best of it on my own.
Since Monday is my day to do the net [VHF channel 68, 09:00], I shamelessly let everyone know that it was my birthday. The result was happy birthday wishes from almost everyone on the radio - a good way to start off the morning. Someone even decided to be a real funny guy [Tim Banse] and presented the trivia question: "What year was Misty Henning born?" I guess I asked for that one and since I don't care if anyone knows how old I am, after a few wrong guesses I provided the answer to the question - 1969.
The rest of the morning was spent sipping hot tea and lounging in the nice, warm boat reading a book [Gone With the Wind] and watching a movie [Management] while waiting for the sun to warm the day up a bit.
Around noon, I decided it was warm enough and ventured out. My first stop was to procure a bottle of champagne...because it's just not a birthday celebration until there's champagne! The Martini & Rossi Prosecco seemed festive enough and I poured myself a glass and then crossed the 7-mile bridge in nice, bright, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky sunshine with the sunroof open and the heat blowing on my feet. Next stop, the Cracked Egg in Big Pine for a basket of their yummy fried mushrooms...a birthday treat indeed. Someone had recently told me of a gallery/gift shop in Big Pine called Out of the Blue and I decided to check it out next. I was not disappointed. Out of the Blue is a quaint shop jam packed with fabulous jewelry, artwork, and Key-sy gift items. I took my time and looked around since there was so much to see. One of the first things to catch my eye was their selection of larimar jewelry. I love larimar for its rarity, metaphysical qualities, and ties to sea and water so I picked out a pair of MarahLago earrings for another birthday treat. The nice lady behind the counter gave me a good deal on them and no tax as a birthday present. Sporting my new ear bobs, I headed back across the bridge to Marathon as it was getting close to the time Jeff would be getting off work. For dinner, we ate at one of the best spots on the island - our boat! I had a hunk of the Christmas prime rib [the part that wouldn't fit in the rotisserie!] thawing in the fridge all ready to be seasoned and skewered for the rotisserie. Karen [Magna C] joined us, and we ate rare beef, baked potatoes, bread, and salad in the warmth of the cabin.

The next morning, Jeff and I headed for Key West. He had a few things to finish up for his Captain's license but we hoped to be done in time to have a little fun as well. After struggling to find the places we needed to be and waiting until it could all be done, we wandered around the GFS Market and Ben Franklins [2 of my favorite places!], made a pit stop at the Green Parrot , detoured into Fast Buck Freddie's, and arrived just as our friend Brian Paul was beginning to play at Captain Tony's.
As luck would have it, the same peg-legged pirate [Captain Timothy Stitch] that I had my picture taken with on my 39th birthday [see picture right] was hanging around the bar and I got to have my picture taken with him again...this time accompanied by his blue & gold macaw, Honey Belle.
[See picture left - and what a difference in the attire?!] What fun.
After a pirate punch or 2 and a few songs from Brian we headed back to the car [and an expiring parking meter] and headed out of Key West towards home. We stopped at BobaLu's Southern Cafe at MM 10 and had a great [albeit a bit of an odd combination] dinner of chicken livers, fried okra, and pizza. We ordered one of their specialty pizzas, "Garbage Pie" - sausage, pepperoni, bacon, onions, mushrooms, and a substitute of jalapenos instead of green peppers - and it was delicious. We'll definately be back for more southern cooking and pizza.
After dinner, we headed on up the road, back to the boat and out of the cold. Fired up the Mr. Heater and climbed under the covers.
That was enough birthday fun for me!

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year in North Carolina

My mother [Sarah], my brother [Keith], his wife [Jolene], and my 1 year old niece [Maddy] all live in Greensboro, NC and I decided to brave the cold and pay them a visit over the New Year holiday. I have very few winter type clothes on the boat outside of tennis shoes, blue jeans and fleece, so my brother provided a winter coat and my mother rounded up some sweaters, long pants, dark socks, and shoes and so I could stay warm and still look presentable during my stay. I left Ft. Lauderdale at a balmy 80 degrees and arrived at RDU to a not-too-terrible-as-long-as-you-stay-out-of-the-wind 50. My brother found it quite amusing to not unlock my door and leave me shivering outside the truck. Sadist. I vowed then to remain inside for as much of my stay as possible.

When I did venture out, I saw one of the coolest things I have ever seen. One of the neighborhoods, Sunset Hills, started decorating with lighted christmas balls several years ago and it has since become quite the phenomenon. It's very hard to get pictures of what it's like to drive down these residential streets with hundreds of colored balls of light strung throughout the trees, so this YouTube video gives you a better idea and the story of how it got started and what it's turned in to.
Very cool.

But the very best part of being in North Carolina is my niece, Maddy. She's changed quite a bit since I saw her 6 months ago for her 1st birthday. She has teeth in the plural whereas, last time, it was tooth in the singular. She's added quite a few words to her blossoming vocabulary and she's got her sign language down for when she's hungry, wants more, or has had enough - done. I saw her take her first wobbly steps on my last visit, but this time she's fully mobile and pretty fast. Her laugh is contagious and to her, most things are pretty funny so, we spent a lot of time giggling over not much of anything.

Here you can see her sporting both presents I gave her: a hand-knitted scarf [mom got a matching one] and a FL Keys t-shirt [dad got a matching one in green] - "Everyone Needs a Porpoise in Life."

We had an interesting New Year's Eve when our simple plan to stay home, eat snacks, play games, and watch the ball drop where interrupted by EMS taking my sister-in-law to the emergency room after a violent bought of vomiting came on suddenly and left her deathly dehydrated and unresponsive. I met the EMT's at the door with directions to the bedroom upstairs and shhh'd them all so they wouldn't wake the baby...who slept through the whole ordeal. They pumped Jolene full of fluids at the hospital and sent her home weak, sore, and very tired.

So we had a New Year's Eve do-over Sunday night with more snacks and some Wii bowling. Having never bowled on a Wii before and very rarely in real life, I tied for last on the first game but came back with respectable 179 to win the second round and a another win on the 3rd round as well. I am currently trying to figure out how we can fit a Wii on the's pretty fun.

It was 20 degrees when I left NC on Tuesday. In the meantime, a cold front was residing here in the Keys, and my very first day back was the coldest day of the winter with a low of 46. A bit of blame has been placed on me by friends here in the harbor saying that I drug the cold air back with me when I traveled south. We're expecting even colder weather next week with wind chill advisories for Monday.
I had a great time in Greensboro and thoroughly enjoyed the time spent with family.
Happy New Year, Everyone!