Friday, December 4, 2009

Travellin' Times

Y'all. We never meant to leave on a sad note. We just got busy moving and seeing our therapist for several hours a day because we had to move back to land. But we're OK now. We have adjusted back to life on land. Baths, ovens, central heating: such luxuries!

We are currently landlocked and snowbound in Alberta. That's right, I put all the dogs on a plane and we flew across the country to spend an extended holiday season reconnecting with my landlubber family.

If you've never been to my site before, please start at the beginning. If you're an old friend, thanks for reading. We will be back in the Spring for more adventures. And if I cook anything up in the meantime, I'll let you know. Happy holidays kids!

The original travelling Yorkie packed up his Hobo suitcase and hit the road:

Sadie chilling in the prairie grass, the usual complex inner dialogue running through her head:


Monday, November 2, 2009

Moving Day

And so we piled everything into the car and headed for land.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The drama of the brokenhearted

I feel like a high school girl spending the last week of summer with a boyfriend who's heading off to university in the fall. The young lovers spend every moment together, memorizing the lines of each other's body, the pitch of a laugh, never wanting to be far apart whether they're doing something or nothing at all. It feels just like that, except the object of my affection is a boat. In about four or five days, the boat will come out of the water for the winter. Every morning I languish in bed a bit longer than necessary, knowing I'll be waking up without her soon, on land, in a bed that doesn't rock and sway. And when I get up in the morning then, no one will yell across the dock to invite me over for breakfast. My morning pee will take place 10 steps from my bed, not running down a dock with my legs crossed to the warm bathroom trailer. This afternoon, I dozed in the sunny cockpit listening to Stuart Maclean on the CBC, feeling every story was precious. Not because I'll never listen to Stuart Maclean again, but because it will never be this moment again, with my boat, and the dogs on their sides in the sun. It's hard to keep me on land for any amount of time right now. Leaving the boat is time I'm not spending with her, time wasted. And I'm disproportionately happy when I come back to the boat, even after a few short hours away. Regular chores make me maudlin. Is this the last time I'll fill her water tank before it's over? Is this the last time I'll spray dirt off her sagging aft deck? Oh, how I'll miss scrubbing seagull shit off her wide bow. Indeed, I have been reduced to a lovesick teenager by an old boat made of fibreglass, faded vinyl and rough wood.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Functionally drunk

I have always enjoyed a few stiff drinks. And I probably drink more socially than my contemporaries, those with children, mortgages and full time jobs. People who have prioritized the latter over spending an afternoon in the pub telling tall tales. I've also been known to drink antisocially. To each their own. And boats and booze just seem to go together. I remember reading somewhere that boating is no place for drunks, at least for drunks who are making a go of being sober. I climbed out of the cabin this morning and was immediately invited for coffee and Amarula by one of my remaining neigbhours. It was 9 in the morning. Of course I accepted. We hugged warm boozy coffee mugs sitting at the picnic table, red and orange leaves dancing around our feet. I wasn't always a morning drinker; I mistakenly used to believe that was the domain of hardcore alcoholics. No one civilized drank before noon. BAH, what did I know then. I don't drink any more now, but I don't drink any less. I just drink smarter. I have become enlightened to the allure of a few white wines with lunch. Millions of wealthy divorcees sitting around restaurants at noon downing Sauvignon can't be wrong. Yesterday I swilled half a bottle of Campari at 2 in the afternoon, feet hanging over the dock, watching a friend drain their oil and dry their spark plugs. It just made me more helpful. And what's wrong with a stiff martini before work? Why wait till after work like everyone else? Every passion has its learning curve. I may have become a better sailor this summer, but I also became a better drinker.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Can Haz Cheezburger

Yep, that's what it's come down to, a gratuitous kitten photo. Who in their right mind can resist a little baby kitten? No wonder they fool the humans so well, making their way into human homes, only to grow into cats. This little devil recently joined a marina family. By next year, kitty will be stalking rabbits and bringing dead mice aboard.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Full Time Jimmy Jams

A blissful Saturday morning here. I went over to my girl friend's boat for breakfast. We ate eggs and bacon in our pyjamas. And then I danced to Lady Gaga with a 10 year old boy. These days, I only change out of my pyjamas if I'm going into the real world. In fact, someone just said to me, "you're like Hugh Hefner, always in your pyjamas." Maybe next year I'll get a paisley silk robe and wander around the marina, leaving no further doubt that I have indeed lost my mind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicken Soup for Boaters

Being sick on a boat doesn't have much to recommend it. And having a cold on a cold boat during during cold weather, even less so. At full blast, my little ceramic heater has managed to get the temperature up to about 11 degrees inside. That's 9 degrees or so less than room temperature. It's sort of like being sick in a walk-in cooler. I am sitting under a pile of duvets huddled with the dogs, trying to remember the good times. And all I can remember is being sick another time on a boat under less than ideal conditions. I contracted Norwalk Virus while sailing the Caribbean on a tall ship. Our boat was moored in St. Kitts for a day or so, right next to the Queen Elizabeth II, which was quarantined 2 weeks later for a Norwalk epidemic. TA DA, I was sick 24 hours after being moored next to the QEII.

The normal smell of marine toilets is usually enough to make me dry heave. But it's even worse when you're hugging a marine toilet during rough seas and the holding tank is full of other people's waste, stinking and sloshing about 5 feet from your vomiting face... Need I go on? Not pleasant. But I think I would trade this cold for that Norwalk virus. After the Norwalk, I was 5 pounds thinner and swimming in the Caribbean 5 minutes after it ended. This cold isn't as promising...

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Angry Risotto: A Parable

Late one afternoon, near the beginning of the season, I made some risotto for an open air communal dinner. I tried something new, a sweet potato, spinach, feta, and pine nut risotto. A very vegetarian dish to be sure. Before I started cooking, in the middle of a perfectly enjoyable afternoon, I received a blood boiling text from the ex. I fumed as I started to cook, chopped the potatoes, sauteed the onion and garlic, boiled up the vegetable stock and roasted the nuts. And boy did I roast those nuts. I had been looking forward to cooking the risotto, but now it was just a chore I resented. In the movie 'Like Water for Chocolate', a heartbroken woman prepares a dish for a wedding banquet, all the while crying into the large simmering pot in front of her. When the guests eat the dish she's prepared, they all start to cry, thinking of their own lost loves as they consume her tears. My risotto was not sad, just very angry. It was received blandly by those who ate it, no one raved. Someone suggested it lacked flavour and that I should have roasted the nuts differently. There wasn't enough 'stuff' in it. I was just glad there was no fighting among the diners after they ate the angry risotto. But when you mix that kind of anger with vegetarian risotto, you get something sort of dull and unsatisfying, like anger itself.

Fast forward to now. On a recent trip to the grocery store, I walked by a beautiful display of Italian ingredients: squid ink pasta, expensive balsamic vinegars, and things I'd never heard of before. I spotted a charming little jar labelled "Crema Tartuffo": white truffle cream. The ingredient itself was unfamiliar to me, but what a thing to build a dish around I thought... And so I decided to make white truffle risotto for our dockside Thanksgiving dinner. I googled the recipe and found a variety of ways to make this dish, which the internet unanimously hailed as decadent and delicious. On a brisk and sunny Sunday afternoon, in great spirits, I poured myself a tall glass of Pinot Noir and set about cooking the risotto. Paul Simon played in the background, upbeat and infectious. I felt calm, confident and in charge. I used more chicken stock then I normally would for flavour. My shallots and garlic were finely chopped. Lots of wine. Heaps of mushrooms. Lashings of butter went in. And so did a big pile of expensive grated parmesan. A generous pour of full fat cream. And to finish it all off, a whopping dollop of white truffle cream. This was a luxurious and heartfelt risotto with nothing spared. It should have been served with a side of Lipitor. And it was a hit. The hostess had two servings, one for dinner and one for dessert. It's difficult to draw attention from the bird of honour at a Thanksgiving dinner, but women from the end of the table came up and raved. What is that dish? What's the seasoning? I said it's white truffle risotto of course; pigs find truffles buried in the ground. Well it's divine they said. So rich. Simple but extravagant. Understated but over the top. And that's how my risotto evolved in the course of a season. And me too, Grasshopper.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Great Weather for Huskies

Here's one of our local banshees, Calliope. She seems practically animated as she just finished devouring the snout of a cooked pig at the pig roast.

And the most recent weather warning from our boys over at Environment Canada: "A large bubble of Arctic high pressure will settle across the lower lakes tonight accompanied with generally clear skies and light winds. This will produce ideal conditions for ground frost as the mercury is expected to dip below the freezing mark in most localities." Bring it...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Marina's Most Wanted

This is one of the little urchins causing mayhem around here. There seems to be a bold and rampant population of juvenile raccoons, probably born during the garbage strike when pickings were good. Now pickings are slimmer and these little coons have become public enemy number one. They are on everyone's boat, eating whatever they can get into with their tiny little opposable thumbs. I was walking by the garbage the other day, a lidded wooden enclosure about 5 feet by 4 feet. The Yorkie started sniffing at it and subsequently lost his mind. I hesitantly opened the lid and sure enough, two teenage coons were nestled inside a garbage can. A woman I know came along and had a look too. Then some of the menfolk stopped by to see what all the fuss was about. One of the guys took the garbage can out and shook the raccoons loose. Methinks that if it wasn't for the female presence, these young coons would have met a sudden and violent end rather than returning to the wild.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Storm before and after...

Storms blow in pretty quickly around here and they can blow out just the same. During a recent pig roast, a whopper descended without notice, wreaked havoc and then took off for Buffalo, like a drunk person who crashes your party while everyone else is still sober, eats all your food and then passes out on the pile of coats.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Moral Outrage in Leslieville

Toronto is very much a brunch town. On the weekends, everyone stumbles out of bed and heads for that deliciously lazy hybrid meal named after breakfast and lunch. I was among the bleary eyed and hungry searching for sustenance on the weekend. My friend and I went to our usual place, Edward Levesque, but they had a lineup out the door, no thanks. And it was only noon. Their food is urbane and their Pinot Grigio cold - a couple of glasses make for a perfectly genteel brunch time buzz. I am also strangely attracted to the surly and unhappy servers and a menu that wittily discourages both children and cell phones in their place of business. Alas, we wandered down the road and found a textbook greasy spoon, the Leslieville Diner. I Urbanspooned the Diner on my iPhone and saw a couple of comments like 'terrible service' but 'reliable and average food'. We were getting pretty hungry so we went in. The vibe was strange and dingy in this small place and the servers seemed harried. We sat for a few minutes unnoticed, but my friend noticed that there was no liquor license and we both admitted to craving a spicy Ceaser. We started mulling over the possibility of leaving. After all, there were plenty of other places to dine along Queen Street. When we got up to leave, a server finally appeared and I said, "Sorry, we're going to leave. We see you don't have a liquor license." We had been temporarily seated next to a table of what I can only describe as crusty old farts. Four senior men who'd probably been sitting in the diner for the better part of the morning relaying useless facts back and forth. As we passed by their table to leave, one of them said loud enough for everyone to hear, but didn't address us directly, "It's a little early to start drinking don't you think?". We were impervious to this brunch time judgment hurled our way and tumbled out of the Diner laughing. We happened upon a most charming spot up the road at the OK Diner. We were seated immediately, brought two Ceasars and served a delightful little brunch. If I wanted judgment on a Sunday, I'd probably skip brunch and go to church.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

How Quickly We Forget

Marinas often have an informal book exchange located in the laundry area. I haven't found great quality books in ours, unless I want to reread Cujo, but I do find a few magazines. Recent Hello mags offer guilty pleasure. Old National Geographics are good for rainy days. Fresh Macleans supply snappy reportage on current affairs. Yesterday I found a couple of big glossy sailing and boating magazines. I like to refer to such publications as 'boat porn' because like regular porn, they often leave the reader drooling and fantasizing about completely unattainable vessels. In Yachting World I read an opinion piece about why we keep going back to sea; apparently it's because we have short memories. And I quote: "Sailing follows a mathematical formula. While this varies from individual to individual, based on the voyage type, the pleasure quotient is generally agreed to be 70 per cent anticipation, 30 per cent reality and the ratio of fun to non-fun days is 2:1... the start of a voyage, the end of it and the bits spent secured to land are the most interesting." In essence we forget the bad parts of boating and only remember the good. 'Never again' means 'maybe next year'.

The Vendée Globe is regarded by many as the ultimate in ocean racing; the only single-handed non-stop race around the world without assistance. In the 1992 Vendée Globe, Bertrant de Broc had to stitch his own tongue back on without anaesthetic after accidentally biting it off. In 1996, Peter Goss was forced to operate on his elbow with a head torch and a hand mirror. I'm not even going to pretend I endure comparable hardships. All I wanted to say is that I'd totally forgotten how cold it gets on a boat this time of year. I mean completely and utterly forgotten. And I swear, as I sit in the cockpit writing this wearing wool socks and pyjamas, a sailor preparing to haul out just walked by and said, "Are you STILL camping out?" I said, "Sure, this is just when things start to get interesting..."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hard Old Eye Candy

Boating is a macho and male dominated pursuit. At most marinas, it's safe to say that men outnumber women at a ratio of 10:1, probably more. I am not counting couples in this wholly unscientific statistic. Of the 30 or so boats moored on my dock, there is a lesbian couple down the way on a sailboat and a woman who owns a powerboat and frequently stays aboard with her boyfriend. 'Single' women owning and/or living on boats are rare. In the entire marina of about 300 boats or so, I know of 3 or 4 other women who live aboard alone or own their own boat. That puts the ratio at about 100:1 around here. Startling, even if it's actually half of that - a situation akin to Alaska where men outnumber women and women become a sought after commodity. I am going somewhere with this...

One of my neighbours reminds me of a Tony Soprano character; late 40s, Prada sunglasses, Italian loafers, social visits from the cops and a predilection for entertaining chainsmoking bottle blondes on his boat in the middle of the afternoon. Whenever I pass by, he's all "How you doin' sweetheart?" and "Darlin' where you been?", a real smooth operator - about as subtle as a ten ton truck. I was walking down the dock a few weeks ago and the smooth operator was in the cockpit drinking beer with a few friends. I saw him nudge his buddies as I approached. Then he jumped onto the swim platform and started chatting me up in front of his pack. I asked a young guy I know what this sort of male behaviour meant. Why was he nudging his friends before I approached and shamelessly chatting me up in front of his pals? My young friend said, "I think you must be the dock eye candy." This is not the answer I was expecting...

I am a woman in my late 30s who could stand to lose 20 pounds. I don't make any pretense to being a sex symbol or a femme fatale. But I guess from a biological perspective, primates will be primates and if there's a shortage of females to court, you take what's available. Around here, that makes me eye candy. So if you want to feel alive go to a cemetery. If you want to feel thin, go to a weight watchers meeting. If you want to be eye candy, come to a marina. My young friend suggested I remind the smooth operator that candy might taste good, but if you bite it the wrong way, it can break your teeth.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tempus Fugit: Even the Monarchs are skipping town.

My neighbour said, "I think we're calling it a day" as he and his wife hauled stuff off their big old Sea Ray. And then there were just a few reckless souls living aboard. The countdown has begun to the official end of the season. Boats are being hauled out of the water every hour. Staff has been whittled down. People are no longer eating outside. Even the mosquitoes have called it quits, thankfully. But there are still a few Monarch butterflies left, stragglers on the big annual migration to the warmer climes of Mexico. I think the Monarch has the right idea.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Morning Has Broken

Oy, someone didn't want to get out of bed this morning (love those little tic tac teeth)...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Men Overboard!

Creepy. A body washed up right next to the marina yesterday afternoon. When I was Googling for news on the event, I discovered that a surprising number of bodies wash up in the Great Lakes. Unidentified bodies. How does it get to the point where you disappear into Lake Ontario and it barely makes the news? And then I got to remembering an old statistic from boat school somewhere down the line. More than half the men found in the water have their pants undone. That's because they often fall overboard while peeing. Men, be careful out there. I am the first to acknowledge that those extra dangly bits of skin come fraught with all sorts of problems and danger.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Complacency in the Wild

The raccoons are a pretty regular event onboard now whether I leave garbage in the cockpit or not. Hell, the dogs don't even bark anymore when the coons climb on the boat at 3am. The other night I heard quite a commotion. When I looked into the cockpit, there were three very large coons throwing my rubber boots around, tossing the dog bowls into the air and flinging the garbage bag to and fro. When I opened the door, they jumped off the boat and stood by the dock box looking at me the way teenage boys look at a parent who turns down the volume on the stereo. I am now sleeping in the santized and re-functioned aft berth, formerly the poop deck. The aft berth is underneath the cockpit. Most recently when I heard the roving gang of reprobates come aboard, I couldn't even be bothered to get out of bed. I just kicked the ceiling of the aft berth a few times, like a parent banging the ceiling with a broom handle when the stereo is too loud upstairs. And I heard them slowly shuffle off the boat.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Well Hello Boys...

I spend a lot of time and energy training the Yorkie NOT to jump on or off boats by himself. At the beginning of the season, we had it down pat. And then I got a bit lax, allowing him to jump on and off a tugboat or my boat now and then. Dogs don't understand the concept of 'sometimes it's okay'. They subscribe more to the school of 'give me an inch and I'll take a mile'. And so now, much to the Yorkie's confusion, our original rules have been reinstated. The danger doesn't come from jumping; the danger comes from missing, especially if he's not supervised. Or if an engine is running. But during our morning pee today, we came across a big red Canadian Coast Guard boat moored up right in the middle of the marina. Ira trotted over to the boat, sniffed a crew member's leg and hopped aboard. The Yorkie's casual style indicated he was very comfortable aboard Coast Guard vessels. I expected the dog to start regaling the crew with stories about all his years in the Navy or some such. Ira was duly reprimanded for taking liberties with Crown Assets, but I had to credit his taste. Maybe I can send him on a tour of duty protecting Canada's Arctic sovereignty.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Marina CSI

I am certain that on occasion, true romance is forged from the rough collision of metals; like a love match resulting from a fender bender during rush hour. But gentlemen, I can assure you, the drunken destruction of a woman's property is not usually the way to her heart. We prefer the immense pressure placed on carbon for millions of years that creates diamonds. But I digress. On Saturday morning I got up and noticed skid marks on the dock by my boat and a mat like the one you'd find on a car floor. I didn't think much of it until I went to open my dock box and found the clasp and lock already smashed off. I rummaged through the dock box, searching for the things I'd rather keep than lose. Everything was in order, but something was afoot. I sprung into Marina CSI mode with the clues I had at my disposal. It slowly dawned on me that there must have been a collision between my dock box and the drunken would-be Lothario who drives his scooter up and down the dock. I walked down to the end of the dock and made a positive match between the mat lying on the dock and the scooter parked next to Lothario's houseboat/den of iniquity. The scratch marks on the scooter were also consistent with the height of the scuffs on my dock box. I had managed to solve a mystery at 7.30am, faster than Nancy Drew, all while operating on a serious sleep deficit. Impressive.

And just out of curiosity, I waited a couple of days to see if the perpetrator would come forward himself. Human nature rarely disappoints; a confession was not forthcoming. But when confronted, he was sheepish and quick to admit to the collision. He was even a bit flirty, but not outrightly lewd like he had been a couple months ago while making a gamey proposition at a dockside party. When he came to fix the clasp himself today, I made myself scarce, not wanting to lead the Lothario on to believe that this incident might open the door for a great romance, let alone any brief or indecent coupling. I issued a flat thanks before leaving and went on my way, reminding myself not to be effusive since this wasn't the same as a favour from a man who fixes something of mine that he didn't actually break.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Long Weekend or Nobody Pees on Baby

A small photographic retrospective of the Long Weekend. They say time flies when you're having fun, but I find it almost stands still. And so it did this weekend in what turned out to be the longest weekend in recent memory. I took three separate trips to the island on two different boats. Good times were had. Pictured below is the view from the wall over on Hanlan's Point looking back toward the city. I was standing on two of three boats rafted together. Watching the annual airshow from the beach, the dogs were forced to sit under an occupied beach chair for shade. And they had to *gasp* touch. The strung out half asleep dog doesn't seem too bothered. We were front and centre for the airshow with jets flying at dangerously low and deafening altitudes over the beach. While out for a swim, the lifeguard rowed over to say we couldn't go past a certain point because we would be in the 'crash zone.' But I had to wonder if an extra 30 feet would really make such a difference if a jet hit the water or the sand. And isn't defying all the laws of gravity, physics and common sense half the fun of an airshow?

Nothing beats a reflective Husky surveying the city on the way back from the island Monday night. We had some city slickers onboard for the third and final trip to the island. They wandered off the beach to seek shade because they were wearing jeans, motorcycle boots and other non beach attire in temps of 30 degrees. When we couldn't find them, I suggested maybe they were reading a wilderness survival guide over in the bushes. My friend quipped, "Yeah, it's called 'How to Survive a Day on the Beach.'"

Monday, September 7, 2009

Battling the Stink

I'm in love with the weather right now. Constantly sunny and about 25 degrees. The perfect temperature for hauling Sadie's mattress out of the aft berth and scrubbing the foam and cover on the dock. I came home last night and there was a pervasive smell of mildew, poo and dog hanging about in the cabin. And the other day, a little girl came onboard, stuck her head in the aft berth and declared, "It stinks in there", the way an adult never would. That was the last straw for me. And maybe it stinks because the Yorkie uses the aft as his personal toilet if he's not under supervision. All my scrubbing and spraying and covering the mattress over the months has done little to allay that smell. Mix in a bunch of nighttime humidity and voila, you've got a poop deck! Getting the mattress out of the boat was like wrestling a Sumo. Then pretty much everyone has to come over and see what you're doing. What's that crazy dog lady up to now? Stay tuned, who knows what she might do next...

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Indifferent Muskrat

Lately while walking down the dock at night, the dogs catch the scent or sight of something and run off madly chasing the phantom scent or sight until it disappears noiselessly into the water. My human eyes and nose are not privy to whatever this creature is lurking around the dock. I assumed it must be a rat. And I was close... I was chatting to a new employee Dave, who walks up and down the docks checking for visitors to the marina. I told him about the dogs' behaviour. Dave said it must be the muskrat. He continued, "Calvin (another employee) hates that muskrat something fierce." I wondered what could provoke someone to hate a muskrat. Dave concluded, "But I think the muskrat is pretty indifferent about Calvin." Indeed, I concurred, I'm sure the muskrat is quite indifferent.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Fall from Grace

Now that I no longer look like America's most wanted, I wanted to celebrate with a nice post about the Fall: the ephemeral nature of the seasons, the winding down of a glorious time onboard, great friends and good times, blah blah blah. What can I say, I was lacking material because of all the sunshine and butterflies flying out my ass. And then the boating blog gods sprang into action. While vacuuming the endless supply of Cocker Spaniel hair in the cockpit, the stair I was standing on collapsed. I smashed my leg and hit the fire extinguisher release lever, spraying toxic yellow powder all over EVERYTHING. Maybe it was the chemical poisoning that got me thinking about a few of my boating mishaps...

Injuries I have sustained living on a boat: too many bug bites to count, endless cuts, bruises, burns and infections, two dog bites, a cat bite (which landed me in emergency via the Police boat), a near drowning, a few insults and a concussion. All in all, nothing too serious.

Things I have lost living on a boat: a phone (everyone drops a phone in the lake at some point), shoes, a frying pan, a couple of boyfriends, a laptop, and an actual boat. The brand new laptop was an interesting story. I fell off a crooked dock after two large scotches aboard a boat with some noisy old parrots and the self proclaimed mayor of the island. Had I foreseen the future, I would have just foregone the brand new Mac Powerbook and sidled up to one of those fancy big city scotch bars and ordered two rarefied shots for $1500 a piece. Hindsight and all that.

But, come November 1, they will still have to drag me kicking and screaming back to land...

Monday, August 31, 2009

I am Not an Animal

Apparently, I'm going to have to start sleeping in a beekeeper hat. Something nasty bit my face last night. Imagine waking up next to this. Worse, imagine being this. Now I know how the one-eyed Tilapia feels. Maybe wearing an eye patch around today will add to my allure. So far this morning, popular consensus says it's a spider bite. Popular consensus is two people drinking coffee on their boat and one guy carrying a new fish smoker down the dock.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Now I have a Jewish mother and that's how it goes...

I was thinking about calamari all day. So I popped by Loblaw's on my way home and got some flour, panko crumbs, eggs, and canola oil but Loblaw's was out of calamari. I returned to the marina with everything I needed to make calamari, except the actual calamari and I couldn't get that squid off my mind. So I bummed a motorcycle ride from my friend Mark to the Chinese grocery store, TNT. Neither of us had any plans, so we stopped for beer and wings on the way to TNT. A couple beers and a pound of wings later, we finally headed to TNT to buy the calamari. Once there, I texted a friend to see if they were having dinner on the dock. A few minutes later, while I was staring at a one-eyed Tilapia in the live fish tank, my phone rang. It was Esther, our marina matriarch. She was animated and high pitched: "Where are you guys? What is taking you so long? Dinner is almost ready. Get back here right now." I was confused because we had not made any dinner plans. We rode back to the marina and found a group assembled ready to eat. We were gently admonished for being so late. While I was cooking my calamari in a frying pan on the BBQ, I said to Esther, "I don't understand how I can be an hour and a half late for a dinner I wasn't even invited to". Esther said, "Now you have a Jewish mother. That's how it goes."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Dog Time

It must be the approaching autumnal equinox. I've been so sleepy the last couple of days that I've assumed dog time. That means sleeping for nine hours, getting up to pee, sip some water, and then back to bed for a two hour nap, possibly in a sunny spot. Then get up for a walk and eat some lunch. And that's when our schedules divert. I shower and go to work. They go back to sleep, naturally...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Not Keeping Up Appearances

On my way into Canadian Tire to pick up some mosquito netting and a tarp for the boat, I noticed there was a sale at Mark's Work Wearhouse. I've bought winter boots and wooly socks there, but lo and behold, they had some nice looking summer clothes on their clearance rack. I guess retail marches into Fall despite daytime temperatures still reaching 27 degrees. I picked up a few tshirts, a pair of shorts and a dress. The dress is made of some miracle fabric resembling linen, patterned with brown flowers; a strappy number with a plunging neckline, an empire waist and a little ruffle around the bottom hem. I was surprised to find such a dress at Mark's Work Wearhouse, but the fact remains, the dress is from Mark's Work Wearhouse. It's hardly couture. But from the reactions I received dockside while wearing the dress, the ohhs and ahhhs, I might as well have been a debutante my at own cotillion. And my sad realization was not how great I looked, but how utterly awful I must look the rest of the time to ellicit such reactions of shock and surprise and amazement by wearing a simple dress from Mark's Work Wearhouse. I know my dockside fashion sense falls somewhere between second or third hand Nautica and homeless chic, but I had no idea wearing the dress would cause such a commotion. A couple days later, back in my cut off shorts and faded tshirt while doing laundry, one of our local bachelors asked me if I was carrying that smashing dress in my laundry bag. I had to laugh...

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fill yer Cupholders

They say the happiest two days for a boater are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell your boat. About a week ago, Barb had a party. She sold her old Chris Craft after 15 years aboard because she wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren. And I would certainly imagine that grandchildren are considerably lower maintenance than a 40 year old wooden boat. And a week later, Steve had a party because he bought Barb's boat. Suffice it to say that one boat has been responsible for a fair amount of revellry around here lately.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Death can go Suck It.

This is a shout out to one of my readers and condolences for the loss of your dear friend Iromi. In Iromi's honour, I'm posting two photos of a tenacious little Jack Russell named Big Al. I found him today in front of a local firehall loving it up with a stick 10 times his size.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh What a Night...

I wasn't even on board last night when the tornadoes finally did hit the Toronto area. It's probably for the best or I'd have some kind of mad adrenaline hangover today. But in an effort to keep the boat dry in the impending storm, I tied a nice white trash tarp over the cockpit and canvas before I left, thereby contravening both marina rules and the standard rules of good taste. I was impressed with my solid knots and engineering insomuch as the tarp was still attached when I got home. My neighbour warned against such a tarp in high winds, so I assume I just got lucky. However, when the rain blows sideways at 60 kilometres an hour, the tarp does little to keep the boat dry and off to a soggy bed it was. And with a steady breeze blowing, I looked forward to a cool mosquito-less sleep. At about 2am, I woke to a stampede of dogs running roughshod over me in the Vberth to get out the half open door. A creature had come aboard the boat to rummage in the wastebasket. I assume this creature is the same small raccoon who has been climbing in through other people's hatches in broad daylight to feast on chips and crackers, leaving messes akin to the aftermath of a frat party. If the door had been open all the way, methinks there would have been a serious commotion in the middle of the night. When I finally settled back into bed, I could hear the mosquitoes buzzing my ears. The breeze had disappeared, ergo, no more respite from the squitters. So I got up again to drape everything in mosquito netting and settled back into sleep around 3am. Another restful night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Scene of the Crime

I'm not embarrassed to admit that sometimes I cry; big fat tears of sheer frustration. The old girly tears start running down my face now and then when it just gets to be too much. Days when your hands and feet are swollen with bites, you are covered in sweat, crawling around in a hot tiny berth, retching, cleaning up dog diarrhea for the third time in 12 hours. Intellectually, you know it's not exactly the end of the world, but you just get beaten down sometimes. Every single thing is 10 times harder on a boat. At that moment, when the faucet turns on, you forget about the times you're out on the water with just blue skies, feeling absolute freedom, when nothing else matters. Or biking home in the dark down the long winding road to the marina when the bay is still and shiny, feeling lucky that you live here, every single time. And so you just cry it all out and keep scrubbing. Oy, the glamour.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gravity Creates Intimacy

With a bit of speed, the bow of the boat tips up, putting the whole boat on a slight incline, meaning the dogs actually have to touch when they're sitting in the only spot they can under power. The boat has been plagued by a series of mechanical problems this season. But touch wood, she's running now and made it over to the island for 24 hours of eating, drinking, sweating, swimming and swatting mosquitoes. No trip to the islands would be complete without a swim at Hanlan's nude beach. And with temperatures in excess of 30 degrees, going swimming was actually mandatory, not just a nice leisure time activity. While I was in the water, Sadie managed to wander off. The combination of knowing we were on an island and that Sadie was wearing my phone number on her tag meant I wasn't too worried. And sure enough, about 15 minutes after the old lady disappeared, I got a call from a woman who said she had my dog. The woman said her group was sitting by the lifeguard station so off I went to retrieve the nomadic canine. I couldn't fault Sadie's style once I spotted her. She had wandered right into some kind of Calvin Klein ad full of exceptionally bronzed and good looking naked people. And now I'm back at the marina, languishing in the heat on the boat, stained, burned and bitten, like some kind of ad for the Red Cross.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Banned in France

Ira, normally a fierce proponent of the secular model a la Sarkozy, is spotted sporting a head scarf late at night on the boat. Captain Ron was onboard drinking beer when he soiled his favourite t-shirt. I promised Captain Ron that if he left the shirt with me, I would use my super human stain fighting powers to return his shirt to its semi pristine state. In the meantime, Ira wrapped himself up in the shirt and said "Allahu Akbar. What's the fuss?"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Whisper This, Cesar

Ira's inner monologue: "Oy. The human got another Dog Whisperer video from the library. Here we go again with the 'ccchhhing' and the behavioural modifications for a week. Why do the humans revere this tiny Mexican man with wheels on his feet? When will the humans recognize me as their natural leader? Oy."

The Complexity of a Cocker

Sadie's Inner Monologue: "It's hot. I like kibble. Maybe I will spin in circles on my bum later. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Static."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sadie's Choice starring Meryl Streep

Yet another storm. Here's the weather warning on Environment Canada's website right before I hightailed it into the main bathroom with a quivering Yorkie tucked into my raincoat:

"A line of severe thunderstorms is moving through and may produce wind gusts of 100 km/h along with torrential downpours giving 50 millimetres or more in under an hour. Remember some severe thunderstorms produce tornadoes. Listen for updated warnings. Emergency management Ontario recommends taking cover immediately when threatening weather approaches. These storms have the potential to produce torrential downpours and damaging winds."

And my all time FAVOURITE QUOTE EVER from Environment Canada at the end: "An isolated tornado is not completely out of the question."

Leave it to a Canadian government employee to completely and politely understate TORNADO risk. I mean he's writing about a TORNADO, not how he replied when his grandma asked him if he'd like a cup of tea. I need to know if the END IS NEAR. And I'm not ashamed to say that when we bolted to the main bathroom (constructed out of cement) for cover, I left Sadie behind on the boat. She's heavier, not as fast or cooperative. She doesn't understand how to flee in terror. The Yorkie and I are more citified and highly strung creatures. I mean Sadie's tail was still wagging when it went black outside. You could Van Gogh Sadie's ear and she still wouldn't react. When she fell off the dock the other day and nearly drowned, she wagged her bloody tail after I hoisted her out of the water, not showing a hint of trauma. And after everything she's survived, how could a tornado be the end of her?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Permission to Buzz the Tower

Apparently we are deep in mosquito season now. Some nights I have to get out of bed when I hear that maddening high pitched squeal in my ear, the telltale flyby of a mosquito like Tom Cruise buzzing the tower in Top Gun. Nothing puts a girl in a sleeping kind of mood like a bit of swatting and killing before bed, except perhaps a glass of warm milk. I duct taped some screen over the hatch, but duct tape doesn't stick too well to the carpeted ceilings. I wake up to more bites and dogs with pieces of duct tape stuck in their fur. I have taken to wearing my Hunter boots, instead of Deet, to communal dinners when it's perfectly sunny, much to the amusement of my neighbours. Dusk is never far off once a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio go down the hatch. Let's see the mosquitoes try and bite through rubber.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Holy Heck Toto, Hang on Tight

Crikey. That was some kind of storm. When I first saw it tracking across the radar on NOAA, it looked small and mean, like a drunk little man itching for a bar fight. Lots of red in the centre of the blob moving across the screen, tracking right toward Toronto. And red never bodes well. I started getting nervous when Environment Canada began issuing Severe Thunderstorm warnings. Then I read about tornado warnings on another site. By the time the storm hit, we were all huddled in the aft berth hanging on for dear life. The wind was whipping the canvas right off the boat and all I could see out the window was white spray. In my mind, we were goners. Certainly a mast would come crashing across our bow when the tornado hit. Or the dock would fly through the air with the boat still attached, tossing us upside down in the middle of the lake, trapped and dramatically dead. I started composing my own tragic yet flattering eulogy. I honestly can't remember the last time I was scared of weather except driving through a very serious snowstorm in the Rockies in a tiny little Honda. During a lull, which I perceived to be the eye of the storm, I called our driver Fekadu, packed up the dogs and we got the hell out of dodge, favouring our odds on land. And what do you know, we survived.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Best. Mood. Ever.

After a long week working, you have to love a day that conspires with you like a single girlfriend at a party full of good looking available men. You wake up from a perfect nine hour sleep, sunlight beaming in through the hatch. Luxuriating in crisp and mostly clean cotton sheets as you roll back and forth, knowing you don't have to get up for any reason except to pee. After the business that cannot be denied any longer is taken care of, you sit in the cockpit, smoke a cigarette while the dogs lay flat out enjoying the heat. You flip through a Conde Nast magazine you found in the bathroom, reading about St. Lucia. On a day so full of promise, you promise yourself a visit there, whenever. And when it's time for a coffee, the best one you've had all week, you blare Luba's "Let it Go" on the speakers, dancing in the cabin by yourself. You don't really care about the family that just walked by and saw you dancing. Most of the dock already thinks you're an eccentric/hermit/lesbian/pothead/weirdo. Not that there's anything wrong with that... You spill said coffee all over your leg, but who cares, cause it's time to change into your swimsuit and head over to the island where anything goes...