Saturday, December 16, 2006

Letting go

Another old journal entry -
November 24, 2004 6:14 PM
Interesting end to the day – a nice piece on All Things Considered by a guy who built a log cabin in Maine with two friends back in the late sixties. He told it well, about the work and the friendship, about getting the materials and tools to a site without a road. The friends grew up, changed jobs, moved apart. One friend, the owner of the cabin, sent the writer a letter about how he planned to burn the cabin down – no one used it anymore except vagrants and he was afraid of someone getting hurt. He took pictures of the fire. The other friend, on hearing of the event, sent a Japanese poem that I remember as:

I see the moon so clearly
Now that my storehouse has burned.

This brought tears to my eyes. The whole thing – hold on but don’t be attached. I love you all.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sailing 101

Saturday, December 2, 2006
Hmm . . . this running aground is getting to be a theme. Did it again today, but in my defense it was out in the harbor where you’d have thought there was plenty of water. Well, some of us would have thought so. We had this great temperature swing over the last 24 hours – a front has been coming across the country dumping snow everywhere. Yesterday the temperature here was 72 or 75 degrees – a record for the date. Today it was in the low 50’s. The front also manifested itself in a strong W and NW wind. It was blowing about 15 this morning. I thought I could just hop out onto the harbor for about an hour of fast tacking. Wrong. It was just about 45 minutes to low tide when I left the dock, and that NW wind was blowing the tide out. I was out of the channel in the area in front of the Harbor Cove development (World’s Largest Houses). I felt the bottom start to catch the boat – I was sure the centerboard was up but I checked it anyway. No damage, the bottom being mostly mud out there. Black, black mud. Chuck called me on the cell phone. Jack Sayre had seen me run aground and called him. Small town, eh? He offered to come out for me if I needed it. I thanked him but said I’d try a few things first. I had the jib up but not sheeted in, so I tried trimming it to see if the extra pull would get me off. Nope. I hoisted the main to try to heel the boat over and still possibly sail off, but that didn’t work either. I called Chuck back and told him that I thought I’d just sit tight and wait for some water to come back in. It was just after dead low at that point. I took down the jib and main, heaved the anchor to windward and set about cleaning up the lines. The flogging had ripped the ring off the release piston of the snap shackle on the main halyard. I put a different shackle on the halyard and repaired the bronze snap shackle. If I’d had my cordless drill with me I would have gone ahead and installed the mounting blocks for the navigation lights. I tried to fold the jib in the V-berth but there wasn’t enough room and it was definitely too windy to try it on deck. Giving up on that, I dug out one of the New Yorkers I’d stashed on board and started to read a short story. Up against the bulkhead in the cockpit I was out of the wind and the sun felt great. It would have been nice to just doze there for a while, but that was just too far out of the program. I read and kept checking the tide indicator on the GPS. I jotted down the coordinates of my position so that I could tell if I started to pull the anchor. I had no way of knowing whether I’d get blown into shallower water if I pulled. The anchor held (probably assisted by the broad hull resting in the mud) and after a while I could feel a little rocking that told me there was more water under the boat. I had the motor running and put it in gear – forward motion! Yay! I pulled up the anchor and made a turn back toward Devil’s Reach. Thanks – another lesson learned, only 67,481 left in the Intro To Sailing.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The learning curve.

Okay - I've been obsessing about sailing for just about a year now. The last time I owned a sailboat was more than 25 years ago. Last October a friend called with a tip about a boat being auctioned on Ebay - it was in Cape May and slated for destruction if not moved/sold. I got the boat and over the course of the year it has displaced just about everything that previously held my interest. Especially work. Learning about sailboats in general is now beginning to give way to learning about sailing, and I'm looking up the slope of a steep learning curve. I took the boat out single-handed a couple of weeks ago. It was just the second time out under sail. The first was with my friend Milt, who is my primary source for sailboat wisdom. My solo trip was under mainsail alone - not confident enough to try my hand at jib and main. It went well enough until the end. My docking technique continues to evolve, but that evening I ended up in the harbor when I found myself unable to stretch between a boat drifting backwards and the piling I was holding onto. Major Lesson 3A is about having your cell phone in your pocket when you fall into the harbor. (Hint: don't)
Ahh, the expensive lessons that pile up at the bottom of the learning curve. The fifth and most recent trip on the boat was when I took my sister, brother-in-law and nephew out for a couple of hours on the bay.

That sail was fun, though uneventful. Learned about the speed of the current that accompanies the falling tide (fast!) and also that 5 - 10 knots of wind is a bare minimum for the Westwind.
My friends Bob and Anna tell me "The wind and waves favor the skilled sailor" - I'm working on that 'skilled' part, my friends. Still got a ways to go.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lettuce Zen

If y'all can't forgive me for pulling these old bits out of my journal . . . well, too bad.

Sunday, May 29, 2005
I’m getting this ‘page-a-day’ calendar by email, a Zen stories calendar. This is today’s:

Three wandering monks, Seppo, Ganto and Kinzan, had lost their way while making a pilgrimage through the mountains. Then they spotted a green vegetable leaf floating down a stream, which meant that someone was living up the mountain. But they decided that anyone careless enough to lose one vegetable leaf was not worth meeting. Just then they saw a man with a long-handled hook racing along the stream, looking for his leaf.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Westwind #72 hit the water on Monday. She floats! She crossed the harbor and settled in at her new home with help from my friends Milt and Chuck. She was here in our driveway for just over a month - next to old #13 who has been here for almost a year. Suddenly - because I can't see her from the kitchen window - it seems that we possess her less. I suppose that'll change once we've sailed her. There is still rigging to do, motor controls to organize, dozens of little things . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Spiritual GPS???

Okay, my friends, another entry from the journal . . .

Thursday, November 11, 2004 7:34 AM
A little bit of the sleepless-in-the-middle-of-the-night last night, and the ensuing
‘will-I-panic’ thoughts. The time when I’m forced to consider what are the boundaries of the world. What keeps the cart on the track? Day to day, I have nothing but assurance that life is as it should be. It is just those times, usually in the middle of a semi-sleepless night, when I doubt the things that I usually accept. Kind of hard to describe, but the feeling is an irrational fear that none of the things that I know as true will be sufficient to keep me – hold me – in place. ‘Place’ meaning that you are in alignment with all of the connections, assumptions (etc.) that identify the world for you. Almost like you must hold a position in space – like a planet – for the alignment of things to have meaning. If you slip a little out of that alignment the interrelationship of everything is thrown off and then a doorknob is no different from a verb or a cousin or a Christmas morning. What is needed is a serious piece of machinery – a spiritual GPS.
I guess that is what I end up reaching for when I’m thinking of - ?
I think of Dad. I think that, in a way, I carve a little stone god of him – or at least whittle a little wooden god of him – and put it up on the windowsill as a totem or a good luck charm. In the most basic way, I am placing my trust in my idea of him. I am desperately asking him for guidance.
I’m one of those people who begins to gag when I listen to evangelical preachers (or whatever fundamentalist types) talk about that absolute faith in the words written down in the Bible. It all just seems so weak-minded. But in the middle of the night (wow, there’s a metaphor that’s hardly been used) sometimes the mind – the intellect - doesn’t seem like a strong enough - or absolute enough - post to hold onto.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I try my hand at technical writing . . .

When our toaster oven died a few years ago I bought a simple sort of retro looking toaster from the supermarket. If “died” is too anthropomorphic a term, how about “ceased functioning"? Sorry. Anyway, the retro looking toaster works just fine although things like English muffins lay too far down in the slots to be easily retrieved when the toasting has been accomplished. My solution to this problem is to give the raising/lowering/toasting handle (hereinafter called the Master Toasting Lever) a rapid partial lowering immediately followed by a rapid raising against the upper handle stop. The momentum imparted to the toasted halves of the English muffin causes them to be carried up and out of the top of the toaster. A deft grab usually prevents one of the halves from falling back into the toaster. I have never managed to grab both halves on the fly at the same time. A repeat of the lowering and raising of the Master Toasting Lever is required to retrieve the remaining muffin half. A too-vigorous performance of this routine may result in the remaining muffin half becoming airborne, as was the case this morning. The second half landed on the counter and rolled – as disc-like objects are prone to do – behind a flowerpot next to the sink. It would make this little story almost worthwhile if the muffin had come to rest in a pool of water by the sink. Wow, wouldn’t that have been ironic, after all that work? When I located it behind the flowerpot this was what I feared, but no! Happy Ending – the muffin was dry and now it has been buttered, slathered with Boysenberry preserves and eaten. Thanks for letting me tell you that.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Small Pleasures

A group of short consecutive entries in my journal:

My father was a giant of a man, well over five feet tall.

January 8, 2006
Yah – life is good. I’m sitting at the counter in the kitchen, morning light streaming in through the South-east facing windows and door.

I had a dream that I was being hanged. By the neck. Until dead.
In the dream I was thinking, “You’re about to find out what it is like to die”

Friday, August 18, 2006

How I spent my summer fixation

Uh-oh, another Ebay boat. An Eboat. I bought a sailboat on Ebay last Fall. It's what we call a 'project' boat. I've been working on it, pulling parts off, building new parts, getting missing parts - sometimes finding them on Ebay. While searching for parts a couple of weeks ago I came across another boat for sale. Same mfgr., same model and - surprise, surprise - in better shape.
This one was 400 miles away, though, instead of just around the corner like Eboat #1. A highly qualified friend made the trip with me to fetch the boat. A solid day's labor - no food breaks - got it onto the trailer. Eight hours later (1:30 AM) we were back at the bottom end of New Jersey and called it a day (!!!).

Eboats 1 & 2 are Paceship Westwind sloops designed by Ted Hood. #1 is a 1967 model, hull #13. Eboat #2 pictured here is hull #72, year unknown at this point.

how did i get here?

Got an email from an old friend - Bob Leming - a couple of weeks ago. Just got around to checking out the things he'd linked to in the email, one of which was his new blog.
Right here is where I tell you that "concatenation" is one of my favorite words.
I read the recent posts on Bob's page (The Reckon Crew) and was trying to leave a comment on one of his poems - I was prompted for a username and password - turns out I didn't have those things, which is sort of how I ended up here. I assume that I can now post my comments. And more.
See you around.