02/07/2013, Texarkana and St. Augustine
Bud has been gone for a week now. I've spent about 52 hours alone with Adler and three dogs, including Fuzzy who is demented and takes 6 pills every day and needs to be taken out 3 to 5 times twice a day after his one pill. It's been no picnic. On Saturday I went out by myself and shot nine holes of golf. I dawdled behind a threesome that were taking their time. I told them I didn't want to play through because I took so many shots per hole. They were slow, but it gave me time to take a few shots of the golf course that I put in the gallery.
Gary did send me some pictures of Bud at the boat. This is Bud with his head and shoulders under the galley sink replacing the seacock (valve) to the seawater faucet. When you're out where the ocean is clean you can use salt water for a lot of cleaning and save the fresh water in your tanks for more critical uses (like drinking). But neither our seacock nor our foot pump was working last season, so we had to use fresh water for everything. Bud is also rebuilding the toilet in the forward head (the 29 year old toilet needed a new shaft) and the hand pump to pump the forward holding tank overboard when you're out at sea (there are almost no pump outs in the Bahamas). He's also finished waxing the hull.
Bud said the boat is in good shape, generally, not suffering at all from the seven-and-a-half months of storage. He's enjoying being back in Florida despite the work. He's been staying with Gary and Karen because it's been pretty cool there at night, but I think soon he's going to spend at least some nights on the boat because Gary has to make a business trip for a few days. It has really improved Bud's outlook to be back on the boat, and we are more determined than ever to get Earendil closer so we can get aboard on a regular basis. Although I am very jealous, and very tired, I'm still glad Bud made the trip.
01/31/2013, Texarkana and St. Augustine
I forgot to take a picture of the little red Ford Focus Bud ended up renting to take to Florida for three weeks to work on the boat. I was too busy saying good-bye and feeling bereft, even as he drove out of the driveway. Adler offered to draw me a picture of Grampa to keep me company. It's the green guy amidst all the other scribbling on his white board. When he finished the long, jointed arms Adler declared it Robot Grampa, and said he would take care of me.
I'm hoping Gary will take pictures of the progress on the boat and email them to me so I can include some photos with the progress reports. Bud hopes to drive to within a couple of hours of St. Augustine today and then finish the trip tomorrow. He left at about 8:30 this morning. He has a list half a page long of things that need to be done on the boat. He also is planning to go fishing with Gary. I told him to have fun, but not too much fun, since I couldn't go. It will really be good for Bud to get back to the boat for a while, and good for me to know that we aren't just neglecting her.
So this is almost a sailing blog again for a bit. At least it will be about that ever present effort of all sailors..."working on the boat".
01/21/2013, Texarkana, Texas
We had a really nice day here yesterday and I didn't have to watch Adler, so Bud and I went golfing. There are two courses here that offer memberships and are not country clubs, just golf clubs. One has a gorgeous layout and is quite near where we live now. It's a bit more expensive. It's also challenging to play. The other is a simpler course, nice, but not as pretty, less expensive and easier to play. Since I haven't played golf in ten years, and was really no good when I played pretty regularly, and since Bud hasn't played in five years or so, and wasn't much better than I, we'd decided to join the club at the less challenging course. Yesterday we played our first game there.
What a comedy of errors! I'm actually not much worse than I ever was, except that the greens were incredibly fast. Nothing in soggy Western New York had prepared us for a green where a moderate stroke would send your ball from 5 feet off one side of the green to 10 feet off the other. And forget chipping onto the green from anywhere close. My balls never loft enough to drop almost vertically, which is what they'd need to do to stay on those greens. Between us we had about 4 good holes. Otherwise we either dropped repeatedly into the water (mostly me), lost balls to the right and left (mostly Bud) or got nicely onto the green only to take four strokes to sink it.
But it was a lovely day and was very nice to have something to keep us outdoors, occupied and laughing for four hours. I'd have to disagree with Mark Twain, in that I think golf is a good walk not quite spoiled. We had fun.
After the round, and learning how much the single round cost, we went back in the clubhouse (brand new) and talked to the nice young woman we'd met there before. We had thought to wait to join until after Bud came back from working on the boat, but since playing just 3 times a month made it cheaper to buy a family membership, and since she assured us that Adler was welcome to come along in the cart and try his hand at hitting a ball now and then, and since she'd refund our greens fees for the day, we went ahead and joined.
I took Adler there today (a much colder, cloudier day) to show him the place and take a couple of pictures, as I of course forgot my camera yesterday. The picture here is behind the eighteenth green, right behind the clubhouse. It's not the most picturesque hole, but I didn't want to go wandering all over the course with Adler and my camera as a few hearty souls were out golfing in the cold (just under 50 degrees with about a 10 mph wind). You'll notice the greens are all quite brown. I hope they soften up in a month or so as the grass greens up again. They probably will as soon as we get used to putting on the present indoor/outdoor carpet-like surface.
I also put a couple of more pictures in the gallery, two of the clubhouse and one of Adler using his play tunnel as some sort of alien being costume.
We're going ahead with our plans to move the boat. If it works out that we can we'd like to move it to Galveston. I'll keep you posted as things progress. Golf was fun, but I'd sure like to sail!
01/06/2013, Texarkana, Texas
January is going to be a tough month, but as you can see from the photo, it's not all grim. I have made friends with a mom and a grandma and their charges. Here we met in the large playroom of Adler's friend Alex's grandma. She was working, but Grandpa said come on over, so his daughter (my friend) and her boys and the other grandma, whose grandson is in town, and Adler and I all descended. They had had visitors over the New Year holiday and still had the air mattresses up in the playroom. The three little boys were climbing up on one mattress that was angled against the wall and jumping onto the other, laughing and giggling the whole time. One of the ladies said she wished she had a camera and made me realize that I did. So I managed to get the three boys to pause for a few seconds and "say cheese" and got this photo. That's Alex on the left; he'll be 5 in May. He, his mom and his older brother Evan live in Texarkana. They are the ones we play with most often. Evan, Alex's older brother, is autistic, so Alex's mom often has to go and follow him as he makes his way around whatever park we are at. I stay with Adler and Alex. The little guy in the middle is Walter. He turned 4 in October. He's from Alabama but visits his grandma here in Texarkana for a month at a time. It was Walter's grandma that met Alex's mom and persuaded her that she should bring Evan and Alex to the park regularly and that it was fine to have Alex and Walter play together while she watched them. I inherited the job when Walter went back home and it's worked out great. Of course the boy on the right is Adler. He's the biggest by a hair, but will not be 4 until next June, so he's about 15 months younger than Alex and about 8 months younger than Walter. There are times when that's a problem, but mostly they all play together well.
The reason January will be difficult is that Jamie is doing the second of her three medicine rotations for this year. This month she works all month at one of the two hospitals in town. There are 5 residents to cover all their internal medicine patients in both hospitals; three are at one and Jamie and one other are at the second. The national guideline for the number of patients an intern should have is eight. The other day Jamie saw 17 patients. She's been working from 5:30 AM until 8 PM, and this weekend she chose to do her weekend of rounding, visiting each patient on her list to check on them and revise their orders, if necessary. It's possible, with a normal load, to finish rounding by 9 AM. Jamie got done at 1:30. I've been getting up each morning at 5 to be awake in case Adler wakes up when Jamie leaves. The first three mornings he did, came out into the living room, found I was there, and lay back down on the couch and slept for another hour or so. It makes for long days for Grandma, too. Thankfully he slept in the last two days, so maybe he's getting used to this new routine. Every month the routine changes, which for a little one is challenging. That is one of the main reasons we've decided to stay. Adler needs as much consistency as he can get in his life.
We have made a couple of decisions about our lives going forward. First, after seriously considering selling Earendil we have realized that we can't do it. If we sell her now we'd never be able to get another offshore cruiser and we aren't ready to let that dream go. So Bud will be going to Florida, probably in February, to spend some time getting her shipshape. Then we will have to move her. Our friends Rick and Tracy, appalled at the thought of us selling her, suggested Earendil come back to Buffalo. Storage is cheaper and the sun and humidity are not so hard on the boat. We may do that. We may also try to bring her closer to here. We're considering bringing her to Galveston Bay. It's about a five and a half hour drive from here, certainly doable for a long weekend or in an emergency. We should have more free time next year, as Jamie's schedule gets easier, and would hopefully be able to get down and check on her and even sail a bit. Keeping her in the water is better for the boat, except for the bottom paint, and we found dockage that was a lot less than we're paying for storage now. The challenge in both cases is moving her, but Rick has generously volunteered to help again and I can help during the weeks Jamie has vacation.
The second decision is more immediate and not so momentous. To try and keep us sane and healthy, we have decided to try golfing again. (From my last foray into golfing, it is a dubious route to sanity, which shows you how desperate we are.) There are some very reasonable courses around here and they are open all year. We ordered clubs and they are due here tomorrow. So this sailing blog will have golfing entries for a while.
Bud and I took advantage of one of Jamie's last days off in December to do a little more exploring. There are "public use areas" all around the lakes and rivers here, and you never know exactly what you'll find. We drove up and visited a golf course on Millwood Lake in Arkansas, and then drove over to the Patterson Shoals Public Use Area on the Little River, northwest of where it's dammed to form Millwood Lake. Although it looks a bit bleak in the winter, it's a pretty little area with two rather primitive boat ramps and some equally primitive campsites. As you're coming into the area you pass by the strip mining operation of Hansen Aggregates, taking construction sand and gravel. It's a huge area of mounds of raw earth, you can see it on Google Maps if you look up Ashdown, AR and then look just to the northwest. It's hundreds of acres of eyesore, and I told Bud that I thought the public use area was a concession for the ugliness of the mining. I took some pictures that I've added to the gallery. I'm starting a new album for 2013; the pictures are in there. I hope it's not too long before I have some boat pictures to add!
12/27/2012, Texarkana, Texas
This is a picture of Bud on Christmas day. He told me the title of this photo should be, "What's wrong with this picture?" The answer is (again according to Bud); there's no umbrella in his drink. Those who know us, and know of our aversion to snow and cold and the lengths we went to to get out of both, realize how much else is wrong with this picture.
Anyway, we're still in Texarkana and, just for us, Texarkana had a white Christmas. According to a friend I've made (yes, a friend! a mother of two sons who meets Adler and me in the park most mornings) this is the first white Christmas in Texarkana in her lifetime (43 years). Adler was delighted. We had pouring rain in the morning, complete with lightning and thunder. In the early afternoon it got cold and the rain turned to snow. By the time Adler got up from his nap (a late nap since Christmas festivities kept him up well into the afternoon) there was two inches of snow on the ground. We all went out and Adler and I built a snowman. I had to retreat since my foul weather jacket, ordinary shoes and borrowed gloves weren't up to the task of keeping me warm in this weather, but I did take some pictures which I put in the album.
To briefly bring you up to date after my long absence:
After six months of Jamie's residency and all that has involved for her professionally and personally, we are now committed to staying on in Texarkana for the full three years. Her schedule is so irregular that even next year when things are a bit easier, she would have to have Adler shuffle from preschool to daycare to babysitters to cover hours that include at one time or another seven days a week and 24 hours a day. We don't want that for our grandson, so we'll stay. That means we'll have to figure out how to handle Earendil, as she should not stay on the hard (on land) that long. I started looking at charter management options, but we are afraid our dear boat is too old and complex for those outfits. We are open to suggestions. We will keep boating in our lives one way or the other; we love the water, boats and boaters too much to let it go. We have found out the Red River is navigable all the way to Shreveport, LA, about an hour and a half from here. Not sure if it's reasonable to bring Earendil that far, and there's only one marina with 15 slips, so it's not exactly a cruisers haven, but it's something.
As painful as it has been to decide to stay on, it's good to have a decision made. Planning how to address the next years and the years beyond will give some structure to our lives. And as much as we miss our boat and the clear warm ocean water, we do realize how lucky we are to have a delightful grandson and wonderful daughter to help.
So if you want to see how the next stage plays out, stay tuned to this space. I'll try to get back to posting at least weekly.
08/26/2012, Texas and Arkansas
I know I haven't been writing in the blog as regularly as I should. I find it very difficult. This is supposed to be a sailing blog, and as much as I'm enjoying getting close to my grandson, Bud and I miss the boat, a lot. It's hard to be this landlocked, and in a city where we know no one.
Well, we have done some things over the last couple of weeks so I'll fill you in. A week ago Friday, the 17th, Jamie had off so she and I took Adler to the zoo in Tyler. As things worked out we didn't have the time to tour the city, so we just drove straight to the Caldwell Zoo, which is on the northwest side of the city, so we didn't really get into Tyler at all. But we did have a nice time at the zoo. It's not huge, but well done and has a good representation of animals. We ate at their little café, which has outdoor seating under a huge trellis, so we watched the elephants while we ate our lunch. Besides the regular zoo animals, they had a "wild bird house" which was filled with parakeets, budgies and cockatoos. You walked right inside the enclosure with the birds and could purchase a seed stick to feed them. I bought one for Adler, but as soon as the first bird pecked at it he no longer wanted to hold it. Jamie and I took turns feeding them. We ended our visit where we started it, petting the goats. I have a couple of picture in the album.
That Sunday Bud and I again set out as tourists. I'm surprised Bud agreed, but we took a drive about an hour from here to the town of Washington, Arkansas. A good part of the town is a state park. We paid the fee to tour the buildings that were open that day. There are over a dozen buildings, but besides the visitors center, which is an old courthouse, only four or five buildings are open for tours on any one day. We toured a doctor's house, the print museum, the gun museum, and the house of a Jewish businessman. One of the things we learned was that one of the doctors in town had been the benefactor of John Smith, the blacksmith that made the Bowie Knife. He made a number of knives for Jim Bowie, all forged by his special process. Those knives became famous and he made hundreds of them over his career. In the end he went blind and lost his business. A doctor in town took him in. That same doctor is described by one of his former slaves as a brutal man. He insisted one of his slaves fire up the steam driven cotton gin when the slave told him the boiler needed repair and was not safe to use. Fittingly, he was leaning close to inspect the boiler when it blew. According to the slave there was not enough left of him to bury, and she was shedding no tears. I put some photos of the town in the album, including one of Bud under Arkansas' biggest magnolia, planted in 1839.
On Monday it seemed a bit cooler here (I'm not sure it hit 90) so Bud and I tried something new. We biked a bit later in the morning and took Adler in his trailer and Fuzzy in the front pack. Bud had Adler and I had Fuzzy. I had wanted to bike to a park near here that we often go to in the mornings, but Bud thought that was too ambitious for a trial run (a bit over 10 miles, round trip). Bud said the trailer definitely made it harder to pedal; he was about two gears lower than normal. I found the front pack got in the way, so I bumped Fuzzy with my knees and often had to bike one handed while I supported him with the other. So we're going to get a basket for my bike before we try it again. Since we couldn't bike to the park we decided to take the car, later. We did a picnic lunch and Adler tried fishing. He's only three, but he can cast a lure or hook about 30 feet out into the water. He cast a few times, but lost interest as we saw no fish. We ate our lunch, tried the slides, which had no shade and even on this relatively cool day were too hot to use. He dug in the dirt a bit, tried a couple of more casts and then we headed home.
This weekend Jamie was on call. She worked from 5 AM until 10:30 PM yesterday. Bud and I decided to take Adler to the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park. We'd passed near it on our way back from Hot Springs and when I looked it up I found out that not only was it the only place where the public can search for diamonds in a known diamond mine, but it also has a water park for the little ones. We didn't rush off in the morning as the water park didn't open until noon, and we didn't figure Adler would last too long digging for diamonds. The mine area is an open field. Over 30,000 diamonds have been found there over the years, you can keep whatever you find. Most are very small and you are advised to look for smooth, oily feeling stones that are white, yellow and brown. Bud and Fuzzy sat in the shade while Adler and I went out to dig. I took this picture while he was still enthralled with the whole thing. For about fifteen minutes he attacked one little spot or another saying over and over "I'll never give up until I find a diamond." Suddenly he declared, "Gramma, there's no diamonds here, let's go to the water park." I got him to stay there with me for about another 5 minutes and then we went back, washed up and went and got some lunch. Adler and I ordered and carried it out to a picnic table where Bud and Fuzzy were waiting. After lunch we went to the water park. We almost didn't get to go in. Just as we arrived it started to pour. The rain was hard enough that they closed the pool, but they opened it again in a few minutes when the rain let up. The pool was only 3 feet deep at the deepest, but it had all kinds of sprays and falls and fountains, and in the center a small water slide. There were two other water slides that were closed because they were short staffed. We got in at a reduced rate and Adler had plenty of fun and I got thoroughly soaked, so it worked out. Bud again waited patiently with Fuzzy (they napped in the car). We left at about 3:15. By 3:25 Adler was sound asleep in his car seat, so he had a nice nap for the hour and a half it took to get home.
Today is Sunday again, and as Eric always has Sundays off, so do Bud and I. This morning we rode our bikes (we haven't missed a morning since the day we went to Caddo Lake) and then showered and headed out. We wanted to eat breakfast at a restaurant, but as we had Fuzzy along we had to settle for take-out at McDonald's. We decided to explore the southern shore of Wright Patman Lake. We have been using the iPad with the Blue Tooth GPS we bought as backup for our chart plotter on the boat to navigate the roads. We have a Verizon device that gives us connection to the Internet underway and the GPS will report our position right onto Google Maps. It works great and we found two little used parks. Jackson Park on Wright Patman Lake is another Army Corps of Engineers park with a boat launch ramp and some primitive camping sites. We had a slight glitch navigating to the next park. The county road we tried to take (dirt) was blocked off a mile or two from where we turned onto it. We did a bit of back tracking, but did find Thomas Lake Park, a very simple park at the end of several dirt roads on a little bit of lake that Bud said looked pretty "fishy". I think he'd like to go back and try fishing there when the weather's a bit cooler. We've about decided there's no use fishing when a cool day is 87 degrees. I never thought I'd so look forward to fall! I've put the photos from all these days into the album.