January 25, 2015

Harbor buddies

I know they look small, but there are a lot there.  Also, I took this a while ago, when there was still ice in the harbor.

During the winter, when most of the boats are gone, several harbor seals haul out on the docks of the harbor we live in.  They are skittish and tend to dive into the water when people walk by, but I managed to get a shot of them from above.  On this day I counted 42 of them.  They make super creepy noises at night, both above and below the surface of the water (hydrophone).  They are fairly heavy for the aging wooden floats, but they certainly don’t do the damage that California sea lions do to the docks in Oregon.  Mostly these guys just swim around and look cute.  I have gotten to watch them fish several times, and it is super cool.  They swim in a figure eight or two, then roll over so their stomach is facing the sky and force the bait ball closer to the surface, where they take a big bite.  It is really neat to see.  The harbor seals are graceful in the water, whereas on land they move around like giant sausages, always ready to slide into the water at the slightest hint of danger.  I am happy that I get to see them every morning as I head to work.

Closer, so you can see their little sausage bodies.  Seals are much less terrifying than sea lions, especially from a kayak.
We had a busy week.  On Tuesday we went to see a show where live actors read the parts for a graphic novel that was projected onto a giant screen (http://theintergalacticnemesis.com/).  They also had a piano with someone improvising background music, and my favorite, an awesome sound effects table with all sorts of toys.  It was quite entertaining. 
On Thursday we went to a play that was based on interviews done with community members about homelessness in Juneau.  I was worried that it was going to sound contrived, but it was great.  It was well-written and well-acted, and very important for people to see.  I heard that it was sold out every night, so hundreds of people did get to see it.  I hope it sparks some good community action.
On Friday night we went to the first event of the season for the local sailing club that we are members of.  It was a chance to have dinner and drinks with fellow sailors and to start getting geared up for the next season.  We are already signed up to crew a race this summer!  I hope we get many more opportunities to practice sailing.
On Saturday we went to a friends house for dinner and ended up hanging out and talking until almost midnight.  On Sunday we went to movie night with the theater people and ate waffles and watched The Knights of Badassdom.  It was a good(ish) campy movie.

That is a lot of off-boat socializing for us.  It was fun, so hopefully we can keep it up.
I hope you all (hahaha) had exciting weeks as well.

January 18, 2015

Cabin trip

To celebrate the opening of Ernie’s latest show, and because we didn’t go anywhere for Christmas, we decided to take a couple of nights and stay at a cabin out the road.  That way we would have a chance to unwind, out of reach of cell phones and work, and also have a tiny adventure.  We decided to go to Camping Cove cabin in Point Bridget state park, because we had never stayed there before.  We thought it might be a little more sheltered than other cabins if the wind blew out of the north, like it often does in winter here.

The cabin. We didn't get around to playing darts (because we were soo busy).

We had hiked the trail to the cabin once before, at the beginning of what turned out to be a long and treacherous trip around the point.  In our memories this section of trail was very short and easy, even in snow.  When we headed out, on Sunday afternoon, the weather was still just below freezing and there was a lot of snow on the ground.  The first half of the trail was in good shape, mostly following the coastline.  Then we veered into the forest, where recent trail work had been done.  The second half of the trail was a little more difficult than we remembered.  It had some steep sections made even harder by the fact that we were carrying things in our hands and couldn’t grab on to roots and rocks to help balance.  Also, my microspikes decided that they didn’t want to stay on my boots.  Overall, conditions weren’t too bad, but we couldn’t remember what had possessed us to keep going that day two years earlier, especially when we had plans for that evening. 

The cabin itself was comfortable and cozy, but we were lucky that it was relatively warm outside, because I don’t think the kerosene heater was very powerful.  We got ourselves situated and started to relax.  We packed heavy, bringing along many things we didn’t need.  Ernie brought his ukulele, and a couple of song books.  We brought a cribbage board, glow sticks, and my new laser fingers.  There were a lot of toys.  And enough food for four.  And some bad, bad whiskey. All of this contributed to the luxurious feel of our mini vacation.

The sleeping area.  It's probably big enough for 6 adults or 14 kids.

The snow that we hiked in on was melting under the heavy rain, so we spent the night and the next day lazing around inside the cabin, playing ukulele, and reading, and doing yoga, and playing card games, and sometimes just staring out over the water.  At one point we used an emergency blanket like a giant tent umbrella and threw the hydrophone in the ocean, but after several minutes of hearing nothing but raindrops (which was still cool), we went back inside to dry off.  After we got home, we hooked up the hydrophone on the boat for a while and listened to the resident seals grunting under water.  There was also (I’m guessing) a distant pod of porpoises that passed by.  I got a tiny amplifier for Christmas, so now I’m ready to take the hydrophone show on the road.

The stove.  The table. The pants.  The ukulele.
One of the reasons we brought so much food was to test homemade backpacking meals.  I made a couple of mixes where we just added hot water to a the contents of a ziploc bag to make a meal.  We also had some backup meals, in case the homemade ones sucked.  The winners were griddle scones and instant burritos (surprise), but there was a tamale-like meal that was pretty bad.  I wanted to make instant pad thai, but it turns out that there is no lime kool-aid in Juneau right now.  Maybe next time.

Look!  It was sunny part of the time! This is the view from the cabin.
The hike out was a lot better, mostly because we weren’t carrying things in our hands, and our expectations were more realistic.  We even managed to hike out during a dry spell, but the trail was all rivers and ponds after the rain, so it was good that we wore our rubber boots.  As we drove back to our boat, we felt a very slight feeling of dread, similar (but much, much less) to heading back into Portland after a hike or a weekend at the beach.  But more, we felt relaxed and happy.

January 13, 2015

better late than never

Happy 2015!! 

We wish we could have made it to Oregon, but this year it was not to be.  Ernie worked every day during the holiday season, except for the 25th and the 26th.  I worked at the theatre a little bit too, on a sewing project.  I was able to take a few days off from my job, and it was very nice to relax.  One of my days off was unexpected, because I got new brakes for Christmas!  My front calipers froze, and I may not have taken it in as soon as I should have because I was waiting for the problem to fix itself.  It didn’t.  It just caused more damage.  I guess I am glad that experience wasn’t more exciting, but I didn’t really want to get new brakes.

Patterns in the ice next to our boat.  Ice is soo cool!!  Hahaha!
Other than working too much and car problems, we had a fun holiday season.  We had a nice solstice fire with some theatre friends, and went to friends’ houses for both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  I made my grandma’s rolls to take to both places, which made it really seem like the holidays.  New Year’s Eve was pretty quiet.  We just stayed home and watched a movie.  I got new skis and mittens for Christmas, but it has been pretty rainy this winter.  It got cold for a couple of days, and I almost made it out ice skating on the lake, but not quite.  Then it snowed about 10 inches and started raining off the next day.  It was beautiful, but we didn’t make it out skiing, and now most of the snow is gone.

Ernie’s latest show opened up on Friday, so we went to see it and make sure that everything on the set worked.  It did, with the minor exception of a sticking doorknob.  The play was The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, and it is a fictional representation of the last conversation that Martin Luther King Jr had, with a maid in his hotel room.  It was very well-written and not as sad as I was expecting.  I still cried though.  I always cry.
The glacier on one of the days when it was cold out.  I decided not to go ice skating by myself.

After the play had safely opened, we headed out to a cabin at the end of the road for a couple of days of off the grid relaxation.  I am hoping to have time to write that trip up in the next few days.

I hope everyone had a good holiday season this year!!

December 01, 2014


View from the harbor this morning.

 Yesterday we finally got some snow.  By the time the storm was over we had around 10 inches of dry white powder on the ground (and everything else).  Our cover worked beautifully to shed the snow, again, and we spent most of the day cozy and warm in out boat.  I have to admit, this year I was hoping for less wintery weather, but now that it is here I am pretty excited.  I just have to pick up a pair of cross country skis.

View from my office this morning.  I know, it's amazing.

Today was clear, and tonight another storm is supposed to roll through, giving us about 4 more inches.  Then the weather is supposed to turn to rain, like it does.

We had a very good holiday weekend.  Our Thanksgiving feast was wonderful, and we got to try some new dishes this year.  Ernie's favorite was a casserole made from canned pineapple, cheddar cheese, and ritz crackers.  It wasn't my thing, but I had a bite and it was better than I thought it would be.  I hear it is a popular in the south.

On Friday we took advantage of the clear, frosty weather and went on a hike to the beach on the Point Bridget trail.  We brought Ernie's intern with us because she likes hiking and hadn't been out the road yet.  We saw several whales feeding off of Eagle Beach, which was the first time that the intern had seen whales, so it was a day of new experiences for her.  It was a good hike, made easier by the fact that the ground was frozen and therefore less muddy.  There has been some good work done on the forest part of the trail recently, and it looks like things will be nicer during the mud/flood season too.

I managed to coax one picture out of my camera battery before it froze to death.
On Saturday we joined the rest of Juneau in shopping at the public market.  This year I made good on my $7 entrance fee and bought quite a few things.  I am nearly done Christmas shopping for the year.  Sunday we relaxed and too care of chores.  I baked brownies, and then we braved the snowy roads to go to movie night, where we watched Grizzly Man. 

November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

November 03, 2014

We have been slacking at phone calls lately because we have been so busy during the hours that most people are awake, so I wanted to give you a little update.  I have been forgetting my camera most of the time lately (which is good for you, because today's photo would have been the gross and disintegrating pumpkin that is just inside the front door of my work) so no pictures this time.

Travel:  I desperately wanted to be in Oregon for Christmas this year, but it is not going to work out.  We will likely be sending our son instead.  At this point we don't have concrete plans for travel to Oregon, but we are hoping to get down there this winter or spring, May at the latest.
We are going to Petersburg this weekend.  I have never been there, and Ernie hasn't been in over twenty years, so we thought we would go check it out.  Many people have mentioned that there is nothing to do in Petersburg this time of year, but that happens to be the point.  We are planning to wander around, look at things, and relax.  If we like it, maybe we will go back for the Little Norway festival.  It sounds pretty out of control.

Theater:  Chicago is opening on Friday!  This has been a huge show for Ernie in his new position, and he has learned a lot.  And put in a lot of hours.  It looks like it is going to be amazing, and I'm really excited to see it.  And to get my husband back.

Snow report:  no snow

Music:  We did get a chance to take a break last week and go see the UK Ukulele Orchestra.  They were very good musicians, and ukulele music is always entertaining.  It was a super fun night, and I think it inspired Ernie to start practicing his ukulele again.  I may even give it a try.

That's about it.  We are not very exciting people.  We didn't go out for Halloween, and of course, no good parent sends their child trick or treating in the harbor.  Too much danger.  We got some candy though, just in case

October 28, 2014


This past weekend Ernie and I covered our boat for the winter.  This is a challenging ordeal, for a variety of reasons.  The fact that we are trying to cover a roundy sailboat with a rectangular piece of plastic is the first reason, of course.  Also, there are often issues with timing and weather.  We are usually scrambling to get it done, and it gets dark earlier now so there is even less time.  If the weather is clear, then it is nice and warm during the day, but as the sun sets, it gets really cold and all of the jackets and gloves are trapped inside the boat that is now covered in a layer of plastic with no door.  If it is raining or snowing, then it is wet, cold, and unfun.  And hopefully not windy.  The other big challenge is that Ernie builds things all of the time for fun and profit, and I do not.  He has plans and ideas of how things should be done, and in the absence of direction, I just make things up as I go along.  And I get distracted easily.  I am not a good flashlight holder.  That is Chris' job.  Also, I am not psychic.  So when we start to build he expects me to do things without telling me to do things and then gets frustrated when I don't do them.  It takes a little while for us to figure out our groove.

This year took us about 2 half days, which I think is the current speed record.

Our current protocol (updated every year):
  • a framework of pvc pipe is installed to hold up the plastic.  Hoops are formed by bending the pipe across the top of the boat
  • reinforced polyethylene sheeting is put over the hoops, cut to size, and stapled to a row of wooden battens along the bottom (just under the cap rail)
  • straps are run under the keel in several places to pull down on the plastic 
  • a door, windows, and a stovepipe are added
 It takes longer than it sounds like it should.

The first day we got the pvc skeleton (which we reused from last year) in place.  We also got the cover on in front of the mast.

The framework.  The bent pipes fit into another pipe running along the deck of the boat.

The first day.  The rain tarp is back on for the night, and I think it looks a bit like a covered wagon.

The second day we finished covering the boat aft of the mast, and added the fittings so the stovepipe for our diesel stove could go through.  Due to technical difficulties this did not get done last year and we couldn't use our stove for heat.  It will be nice to have it this year, especially if the power goes out.  We also got coverings up for a window on each side of the boat.  They are super nice to have, so we can see what is going on outside without leaving the boat.  We also got the (first) door up.  We decided to try zippers, like a tent fly.  They might work out, but we may have to add in a wooden door.  The cat is disappointed about the cover, since it separates her from fresh rain water and her crow friends, but that's life.

The finished product.  Ernie is really a master at getting the plastic tight and even.  Our cover always looks the best.

So the cover is on, and my car is at the shop waiting for snow tires.  We are just about ready for winter, although we haven't had any snow yet.