Friday, April 30, 2010

Rumble, Rumble, Boom.

It's official:  we're nice people.  The new neighbors told us so. 

"You're so sweet!"

Well, really, we're not sweet at all.  We have been impatiently waiting for 25 years for the property next door to step up to the plate and deal with the shoreline issues.  After we had put the equivalent of a university education ($$$$$) into our property's protection, storm after storm cut away the bank next door and eventually began working in behind our stonework.  Fences tumbled, gabions shifted, sink holes developed.  Groan.  Now, at long last, new neighbors.  New outlook.  New money!!

That's one BIG shovel.

Here's a rumbly part.

Do you think these things ever tip over?

They dug a road down the bank to the shoreline, and have a cat at the top and one at the bottom.

First row is temporary to prevent soil pollution.  Here they are digging in a second row of permanent armor stone, with filter cloth behind it to prevent loss of land.

Yes, it's noisy, dirty and all of that, but it is a very good thing which we welcome with open arms.  We're sweet that way.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I've Been Tagged!

Sarah at The Breathing Post tagged me.   This one isn't too hard, fun even.  I have to go to the 8th file folder in my photo department, choose the 8th photo to post, tell the story behind the photo, and then tag 8 friends.

So here's the story:  4 Years ago, my husband took me on a Royal Clipper Sailing cruise in the Caribbean for our 31st Wedding Anniversary.  We had a blast.  We absolutely loved the ship and would recommend it to anyone.  Our new resolve is to never sail on those biggie Carnival type cruise ships anymore, and  hold out for the more intimate and romantic sailing vessels of this fleet. 

On the first evening out from port, there was a big production of raising the sails, all 42 of them!  Obviously, this photo was taken right at the beginning.  Music, hors d'heurves, drinks and the ocean breezes made this a wonderful event.

Now the 8 friends: 
Southern Institute for Domestic Arts and Crafts
The Snyder 5
The Boob Nazi at How Could You Not?!
Carol at Songberries
Hiccups in Time

I will do the rest later, because company is coming for dinner and I have to run quickly or have a mess in the oven. 

Okay, dinner's over, the dishes are finally done and I can finish up on the eight friends part of my tag.

Things that I can't Say
Britt at God and the World and Me, and
Last-But-Not-Least:  Veronica at Of Mice and Ramen.

Have fun girls.  See you later in the week.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Swan Lake

Mr. Blue Jay displays his plumage. Being very gallant, he feeds his lady-love the choicest morsels from the bird feeder. He is saying:

See how beautiful I am?
See what a good provider I am?
Let's make babies!

It's official. It's spring. My eyes are itchy, my nose is running and I am sneezing my head off.  The air is heavy with pollen.  In the still of last evening, I went out to capture some photos of the cherry blossoms in the back yard.  I found a wonderful surprise instead--a swan, dallying in the shallows at the foot of our bank.  What a treat.

Tranquility.  Swan Lake at home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Follow

Can it be?  Friday already???

It truly was a very busy week, to have ended up here again so quickly.  Last week, I got an early start on my FF blog post.  Only 200 some listed when I started.  After doing battle with the system for about an hour, I was a number well past 600.   This is a very popular event.  Who knew?

Midday Escapades
One 2 Try
Hearts Make Families
our sponsors for friday fun fantastic.  Here!  Here!  Check them out.

Then follow my blog to see how a water-loving, sea-voyager, boat owner makes due in the off season.  I would love to meet you and get to know your world too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Earth is Moving

The vacant property next door sold for 8 times what we paid for ours 26 years ago.  We have been enjoying the tranquility of no neighbours, no noise and no nonsence lo these past 30 months.  Suddenly, it's:  Lights.  Camera.  Action.  In reality it is:  Saws.  Boulders.  Machinery.  Dust.  Noise.  And did I mention? The earth is moving,  the windows are rattling and the house is quaking in its boots.

First the arborists arrived to take down two century old trees.  One was almost completely rotten inside, so there is no loss there.  The new house planned for the site will have at least one fireplace, ergo a stockpile of wood for the grate.

The chipper machines (two of them) went at it for two days, distributing a fine sawdust fallout over the entire neighbourhood.

Because the property is on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency had to make studies and recommendations regarding shoreline protection.  No wonder the property sat vacant for over 2 years.  So many factors are involved in the equation of keeping consistent waterlevels throughout the Great Lakes:  erosion and flooding concerns, commercial navigation, recreational boating, hydro-electric concerns, and natural environment (flora and fauna).  The new property owners were mandated to wait construction of shoreline protection until after waterfowl mating and chicks reaching maturity. 

The boulders for the project are arriving one by one.  This monster is bigger and heavier by far than a whole car.  The engineer will design a construct that will fit pieces together like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle and then back fill with smaller and smaller rocks and stone.

I know.  I know.  It's not every day one gets to take photos up close and personal with an earth mover.  Sorry, I kinda got carried away.

This is what the bank looks like today.  A jungle of scrub, weeds, garbage, and decomposing vegetation form centeries of garden dumping. The pitch is about 18 degrees top to bottom.  If you are into big boy trucks, this will be a super fun project.  If you are like me and prefer the ground under your feet to stay predictably solid and unmoving, Steadfast, then we could be in for a season of moaning and groaning around here.  I'll keep you posted. 

Are you into trucks?  The kinds with wheels taller than a man? 

Wouldn't you just love to dig, push and lift tons of earth with the flick of an enormous power shovel?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cocktails At Sea

When a fellow cruiser calls on the VHF and asks  you over to their boat for drinks, it helps to know the unwritten rules of coctails at sea. 

  Always bring your own grog.
  Polite cruisers always bring their own snacks and are usually asked back again.
  Leave before supper hour unless things are otherwise indicated.

There are also a few idioms it is helpful to understand before you acquiesce to cocktail invitations.

  "Light hors d'heurves" means small snacks that won't spoil your dinner.
  "Heavy hors d'heurves" means lay it on--this is the meal, and you had better bring something good.
 "Do you Farkle?" means you will be asked to participate in games.
 "They've just come over" means that the people on said boat are straight from the mainland and have fresh provisions, like good cheese, fruits and veggies, and possibly cookies.  Don't miss this event.

Last summer on Long Island Sound, our friend on S/V Tosca (who has never cruised the Bahamas) invited us aboard his sailing vessel for cocktails.  We went with the usual bottle of wine for me, a container of rum and coke for Buz and a plate of nibblies to share.  On our arrival, our host was completely taken aback. 

-Why did you bring all that? 

-He's just being polite, we thought.

As he ushered us below, a sight like none I've ever seen on a cruising vessel met my eyes.  Soft jazz serenaded our ears.  Delicious aromas got our noses twitching and the spread laid out before us was spectacular.  It was supper.  Our Tosca host prides himself on his Italian cooking skills and his sommelier nose.  One of his hor d'heurves that night was

Beets With Spiced Cheese.

Here is a representation of my efforts to reproduce said beets for my dear husband last night.

The humble beets.  Choose ones small enough to be cut into bite-size slices.

Boil beets in water until soft, but not too soft.  The water turns deep red.
Of course, one could use canned beets, but celebrity chef Jamie Oliver would not approve.

Slice to no more than 1/4 inch thick and garnish with spiced cheese. 
Boursin would be perfect, but I used Philadelphia Cream and basil leafs here.

Where's my lemon juice?


The not so willing taster.  "You know beets are not my favorite!"

The reaction.  A picture is worth a thousand words.
Needless to say, I ate all the hors d'heurves for supper along with my meat kabobbs.
They were sweet and delicious and I heartily reccommend them to those who do not have prejudices against them.

Oh, and by the way, here is your standing invitation to cocktails aboard M/V Steadfast next winter.  Unwritten rules apply.  :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Follow Fun, Fun, Fun

I seem to have been missing out on the fun of Friday Follow every other week or so. So often things pop up on this day that keep me away from my computer. Last week I was out west visiting family. This week it's a funeral in Scarborough two hours drive away. Always good or important things, life goes on. I will get caught up on Saturday if I don't catch you today, promise.

There have been good posts this week from my reading list, entertaining and informative. It's a great priviledge peeking in on the lives of others facing the challenges of daily life in the NOW. One gains perspective seeing things thru other peoples' eye once in awhile. Thank you to those who have come by to visit my blog and leave friendly comments. Friday Follow is an opportunity to meet new people and learn about life from a different perspective. Make sure I can follow you back by leaving your contact info.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Steadfast Garden, or How to Include a Boating Theme to a Land-based Blog.

Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz.
I wonder where the flowers is?

Every year my Dad would throw off this line.  Every spring I think of him and smile.  I have been savouring the blog posts thrilling to the arrival of spring so many have written.  Surely it will come here too before I give up waiting for it.  All winter my only gardening outlet was a single pot of basil.  Outdoor plants on boats need special care as the salt in the air and in the waves that splash the decks kills them faster than a speeding drought.

This is what my garden looks like so far.

Until things get on with the show, I am focusing on my indoor blooms.

The orchids have re-bloomed on the same flower stalk since I've started using liquid feed for them.

This Christmas cactus has been blooming non-stop since November.  My secret is powdered Orchid food in the watering can.  All my plants love it.  Even the asparagus fern has put forth little red berries.

We are raking the lawns, pulling the dead stuff out of the flower beds and mowing down the bank.  Our property falls away to the shore of Lake Ontario and the bank is a challenge.  Soon we will be doing the picnic thing out there, hoisting the sun umbrellas, lounging in deck chairs and using the binoculars to spy on boaters, fishermen and waterskiers.  Bring on the sun.

Don't you just feel the pulse of new life every spring?


ok, Folks, that long code is supposed to be my signature.  No wonder Sami Joe wished me luck.  I am just so techno-challenged.  HELP!!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Amazing Things Happened to Me Today.

I took Nelson to the beach and as there were
a) no people and
b) no other dogs there,
I let Mr.Loves-to-Run trail his leash chasing ducks, geese, sticks and anything else I could find to throw for him.

We did the whole thing in one direction and then we did it again in the other.  Wonderful!  You do remember how much he LOVES the beach?  Why was no one there today?  Were we unusually early?  Hubby did wake me up at the delightful hour of 5 am.

Well number one amazing thing is:  I collected a pocketful of beach glass.  Who knew?  I'm on Lake Ontario now, not the ocean, and there's an abundant (relatively speaking) supply of colourful glass fragments worn smooth by the water and sand right here in my own back yard.

The stash of necklaces and earrings I make with this sort of thing has all been given away right now, so no photo.  Just imagine. 

Number two amazement came while I was shopping at "Winners".  A complete stranger came up to me and commented on my grey hair.

"You're an inspiration" she enthused.

She liked the colour.  She liked the cut.  She liked that I was brave enough to take the plunge.  She totally blew me away.  It's still so new to me that I was very flattered by her remarks.  I need all the affirmation I can get.  Amazing!!!

I remember doing the same thing to others when I was still too chicken to make the move and stop dying my hair.  It wasn't as hard to do as I thought it was going to be and I love that I am saving over $100.00 a month at the salon.  Come on in, Girls, the styling is easy.

What amazing things have you found lately?
Has anyone said anything amazing to you in the last little while?

ps. Is there someone out there who can help me get a widget for a signature.  This photo insert is hokey.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Go, Granny, Go!

Goodbye 84 degree, sunny, Bahamian beaches.  Hello -8 degree Calgary blizzard hazards.

Bliss to drama. 

I realize there is a tendency to over-dramatize my writing.  Still, this written account captures the surreal of my latest adventure.

Travelling with an infant and a 4 year old, dream material if ever there was such, we were the last to leave the plane, laden with backpacks, bags, toys and coats, leaving one arm free for baby and little hands.  First stop:  the public washrooms.  My motto is inflight toilets are to be avoided at all costs.  Did you know babies can be changed anywhere but new Mummies can be particular and were you aware that 4 year olds are terrified of the automatic flush feature?  Accommodations had to be made.

Just as we finished up buisness at the far end of the washroom (timing is everything) the power went out.  Complete and utter darkness.  Each of us instantly got a death grip on a child, then located bags and bundles by the braille method.  When we found our way to the concourse, standby generators had illuminated every third overhead florescent.  Not bad at all.

The baggage carousel managed to spit out our bags just moments before the power went out for good--everywhere.  Now we were in a large, very dark area, surrounded by strangers.

"Watch out for zombies," my daughter warned.  What movies has she been viewing lately?

Our drivers, brave souls that they are, ushered us into vehicles encrusted with snow and ice and we were away.  Howling wind, blowing snow and icy roads made for an adventurous (read: white knuckle) drive home.  The mayhem on the roads had cars and trucks in ditches, entangled at intersections and just plain lost.  Leaving the darkness of the airport for whiteouts on the highways was no improvement.  We drove blind.  Rather, my son drove and I prayed.

The warming sight of a blazing hearth and the delicious aroma of dinner welcomed us home. A good night's rest, a leisurely sleep-in next day, and Grandma Roe was ready to head off again. 

So the tally is:  three weeks, eleven stops. 

 Has spring sprung where you live, or are you still shovelling out of the ubiquitous snow banks?  There is hope--the calander is on our side and with all the talk of global warming, it's sure to warm up sooner than later.

How is it for you?   Are you staying in one place, or bouncing around like me? 

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Big Haul Out

A new adventure.  River Forest Yachting Center (AKA: The Hurricane Club) is Steadfast's new home for the next 9 months.  So sad to say good bye to our darling boat, but she is safely berthed in a "hurricane proof" pavilion, where she will gently rest in climate controlled comfort until we see her again next November.  This marina comes with all the latest amenities.

Nelson and I watched 50 kayak paddlers training on the St. Lucie River while Buz was changing the oil on the engines.  We worked hard for two full days getting things ship-shape for storage.  Nelson was very hard at work taking walks, chasing balls, basking in the sunshine on his fake grass mat and demanding we play with him.  I had the galley to strip, the linens to wash, the bilges to pump out and clean and various odd and assorted jobs on my to-do list.  Buz had the lion's share of the ugly work:  outboard engine to mess with (read: who knows what he was doing?), generator oil change and other "stuff" (which falls into aforementioned category.)  He changed the oil and filters on both Yanmar main ship engines. 

 I got an emergency page from below.

"Help me quick!"  An oily hand emerged out of the depths clutching something weird.  "My filter wrench broke!" 

A word to the wise for future reference:  make friends with the crews on big boats.  They are unfailingly helpful and have HUGE engine rooms, LOADS of nefarious tools and OODLES of spare parts they always seem willing to share.

Second word to the wise:  It is almost always more helpful to send a woman in a bathing suit to ask for help than to go yourself if you are covered in sweat, besmirched with grease and in an ugly mood.

Not only did Wesley from m/v Surya offer a bigger, stronger wrench to match the job, he came himself and spent 45 minutes crawling around in our engine room helping out a boater in dire need.  Bless his sweet heart.  We gave him homemade cookies and the harvest from our basil patch.  He will be rewarded, as is his due, in heaven.

When everything was as clean and tidy as we could get it, it was time to be hauled out.  If you have never seen it done, it's exciting.  If this is a usual practice, it's old hat, but still worth a picture or two.

In the water, a 47 foot boat doesn't look that big, but check out the man standing near the back tires....our boat looks enormous in proportion to him.

Now we come to the BIG QUESTION

The focus of this blog has been the cruising life, away from winter, in the Bahamas.  What happens to my blog now?  I can keep writing and taking pictures of boating things from home.  I live on Lake Ontario, and there is a marina within walking distance of our house.  Still, life is different on land.  Now it's all about gardens, dogs, the buisness, and life in general. 

I love blogging.  Let's see what people say.  Should I keep it going?  Should I wait for the next boating season?  Do I have to start all over with a  new blog? 

 Comments are very much needed now.  If ever you thought about writing here, now is your big chance.  I need to know.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Look Who Came to Visit

We welcome all kinds onboard Steadfast, but sometimes, there are visitors who do not wait for an invitation.  Not standing on ceremony, these little guys just flew in and made themselves at home.


They are called Bananaquits.  They are about the size of Chickadees, but just a little bit less plump.

Nectar eaters in the wild, these chappies seem to have adapted to the cruising lifestyle.  They will investigate and try anything.

Finding their way in didn't seem a problem.  It was a different story when it was time to leave.  After a few days, the novelty wore off, the droppings on our furnishings could not be ignored, and it was time for drastic measures.  Flapping arms competed with flapping wings. Giggles became noisey "Out, out, out!"

I guess this comes under the heading of Interspecies Communications.

What wild life would you invite into your home?  What other species would you like to communicate with?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Friday Follow

Greetings Fellow Bloggers!

It's Good Friday.  Why is it Good? 

Because of Jesus. 

He became a man, lived among us, showed us Who the Father is, then on this day, He willingly submitted to death by crucifixion to atone/pay for the sins of the whole world.  This one act became the benchmark for what is "good".

In just three more days, we get the rest of the story.  Stay tuned for Resurrection Sunday.


Due to travelling for the past two weeks, I have missed the fun of Friday Follow.  It's been fun where I've been too, but I missed you guys.  I love meeting new blogger friends.  Now I get to chat with guys and gals from Malaysia, Israel, all over North America and Britain.  It's better than a Ham Radio set.  Why can't we be friends too?  Join the fun and sign up.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Good Bye Bahamas, Hello Florida

Crossing the Gulf Stream is a piece of cake--sometimes.  Sometimes it's a whole adventure in and of itself.  The lead up to this crossing was what gave me pause. 

Day One:  Nassau to Lucaya was in those rolly, steep, following seas that I told you all about in a previous post. 

Day Two:  Lucaya to West End made me so sea sick Buz had to single hand the docking.  Yes, I am an old hand at discretely barfing into ziplock baggies, but this time, discretion went to the wind.  I turned inside out, brought up my toenails and died. 

Day Three:  My insides were still roiling when we hit the Stream.  Bread and water for breakfast and away from the dock by 6:24 am.  The crossing took about 5 hours with relatively calm winds and 2 - 3 footers.  You know how it is:  take the window when you can or else sit and twiddle your thumbs for a week waiting for another opportunity. 

The Florida Boating Experience.

Dolphins,   pelicans,  
manatees,   no wake zones,  
bridges,   locks.

Our destination took us another 2 and a half hours from the coast at dead slow speed, across the ICW and up the St. Lucie River.  Several miles in, we had to "lock through" to a  higher elevation.  This also meant that we got out of the salt water--a very good thing.  If not exactly fresh water, the coffee-coloured water of the Okeechobee Waterway gave Steadfast's engines a reprieve.  She sighed a huge expression of relief to be bathed with a liquid other than brine.

Three Canadian Boats locked thru together.

We rose 13 feet...a whole new level of fun.

A 20 minute process, we were then free to go.

The sun was shining, it was 84 degrees and we had said good bye to our winter get-away.  Canadian spring flowers and garden chores await us back home--a good trade in.