Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We Surrender to our Spider Overlords

Boats and spiders just seem to go together. The first few nights I lived aboard, I was covered in spider bites. I could actually see the fang marks on my forearm with one particularly nasty bite. I started my campaign against the spiders. I spider bombed the boat when we were gone overnight. I sprayed the dock lines every couple days. I sprayed a lot of places. And it seemed to be working, for awhile. But then I'd step out into the cockpit in the morning only to walk through an enormous web. I started seeing spiders on the outside of the boat, webs were popping up overnight like Starbucks in gentrifying neighbourhoods. I was losing the battle. Just the other days, I was sitting in the cabin with my laptop open when a little spider dropped down from his long single thread right between me and the screen. I heard him ask, "What are you doing, updating your status on Facebook?". In May, I couldn't bear the thought of a spider in the same room with me. Now, I grabbed that nosy little spider in my fist and squeezed tight, merely wiping the carnage on my jeans. As the season wears on, you become a lot less squirmish about all kinds of things.

Monday, July 27, 2009

April Fresh Thundering Jesus

Nothing beats the smell of fresh laundry. It sure the hell beats the smell of mildew, wet dog and soggy parmasean cheese on carpet. And it seems I'm not the only one who agrees. After days and days of pouring rain, the marina laundry room is a hub of activity. Usually by Monday morning, all the weekenders are back on land using their own washing machines at home, leaving the marina to the full timers. I loaded all the wet stinking things into the washer, including the sheet covered in dog blood from when we slept on our friend's boat over on the island. Sadie ripped out a claw attempting to ascend a ladder into our berth. I said to my friend, it wouldn't be a real visit from us if we didn't leave some blood or other bodily fluids behind, our proverbial signature in your guest book. We have a day or two to dry out before the rain comes again. And no one could be more thankful that the storms are over than Ira. He is a tiny ball of trembling wide-eyed terror while the thunder claps overhead and the boat bangs into the dock.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nobody Likes a Snitch

Word travels around a marina fast, like Peyton Place on meth. The list of marina rules and regulations is long and thorough. And like most rules, they are intended to protect the smart people from the stupid people. There are the obvious rules like you shouldn't fill your gas tank on the dock. One could construe this particular rule as a marina money grab, meaning you must buy more expensive marina gas rather than buying cheaper gas over at the gas station and bringing it here. But I don't mind a rule like that, a rule that prevents the stupid people from pouring flammable gas around willy nilly on the docks. I had a look at the rules the other day for the first time and was pleased to find I had broken a good deal of them, least of all, the leash rule. Rule #17 states that all dogs must be kept on leash everywhere on marina property. 95% of the dogs around here are well behaved and so that rule is frequently bent without incident. But there is a snitch among us. An anonymous tattle tale took a picture of two dogs offleash from a secret and undisclosed location and mailed it to the marina office. The rule violator owns two of the most well-behaved dogs in the marina but he received his 'first and final warning' as a result. Said rule violator unleashed his dogs for the homestretch down the dock to his boat, a distance of probably 100 feet. Grow some balls snitch cause when I find out who you are, I'm going to follow you day and night until I catch you cheating on your taxes, cheating on your wife, cheating at Scrabble and you are done for!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Six Months in a Leaky Boat

It feels like it's been raining for days but what's left of my short term memory says it's only been about 12 hours. That's long enough for everything to become thoroughly soggy. Clothes, carpet, bedding, dogs... And there's nothing like curling up in a soggy bed with two wet dogs for the night. We got caught in the start of the onslaught on our way home last night. And so it is further disheartening to wake up to a pool of dog vomit on your favourite pillow when you've already been sleeping under a leaky hatch the whole night with two wet dogs and a drippy duvet. And by favourite pillow I mean the only dry one you rest your head on. The pile of wet dirty things is mounting, bringing me perilously close to doing a load of laundry. And the weather forecast promises days of more rain. I've got a little old ceramic heater I found by the garbage running in the cabin to make a small dent in our dampness. We are going to round up a pair of raccoons, swallows, spiders, gnats and coyotes and launch our ark this afternoon. And because I opted to celebrate happy hour rather than buying groceries, rations are low. Instead of cereal, toast and a frothy soy latte for breakfast, it's two tomatoes and plain green tea. That would be a great breakfast if I was at a yoga retreat in India, but I'm trying to launch an ark in Lake Ontario, dammit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marina Life is for the Birds

I can count upwards of 20 birds in the picture above, taken while looking down onto my bow from the cockpit the other morning. And that's just the sparrows. Let's not forget about the geese, the ducklings and a random swan thrown in for good measure. I can assure you that 20 sparrows chirping 4 feet from your head through the hatch at 7am in the morning works better than any alarm clock on the market. Get the geese up in arms about something (it doesn't take much), and the cacophony grows even louder. H10, the swan, is new on the scene. Methinks he might be the offspring of George the surly swan. H10 is a young swan; you can tell by his brownish coloured head and the fact that he has been recently and unceremoniously tagged.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dog Climbs Tree

To say that Ira is a bit of a ball fanatic is to say that Mussolini was a bit of a fascist. The Yorkie found a tennis ball in the bushes over on the island. He always seems to find a tennis ball, like his prune sized brain has the same set of neural receptors as Roger Federer. He cajoled, whined and prodded the men of our camp into playing fetch for upwards of five hours. When enough was decidedly enough for everyone except Ira, I put the ball up in a tree. Even Sadie looks on in disbelief as spiderdog defies both gravity and his species to climb vertically up the tree and retrieve the ball.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Feral Flotilla

We have amassed a flotilla of boats to head over to the wall at Hanlan's for the weekend. The people who were unobstructed by that four letter word 'work' have been over there for days. The rest of us are heading out at happy hour. You will find me wearing white linen on the deck of a yacht, sipping a martini. Indeed, that's somewhat of an exaggeration. You are more likely to find me covered in sand, dirt and twigs in a couple of days, holding a half empty bottle of rum, having completely eschewed showers and all other vestiges of civilization. The dogs will be running wild on the beach, digging holes to hide fish carcasses, generally reverted to feral behaviour. WOOT WOOT!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hippie Chic and the Littlest Homo

We are back in the water, whew. Yesterday we loaded a few children, dogs and responsible adults onto a tug boat and ventured over to the Toronto Islands. The nude beach on Hanlan's Point is one of the more interesting features of Toronto's waterfront scene. On any given day, hundreds of naked gay men can be found showcasing their hardware on the long expanse of sandy beach. And the Yorkie, no stranger to gay culture, is happy to prance among men, splashing and cavorting in the water with the best of them. As we pull up to dock on the wall, his nose starts twitching and the whining begins in earnest. The synapses start firing in his brain like cheerios bumping together in a bowl of milk: 'We have returned to the magical place where the love that dare not speak its name can yell and shout and bark out loud." When I toss him off the boat, he's off in a flash, like a one dog pride parade on poppers. Sadie sits demurely on the beach, spaced out on sun and sand and the Joan Baez songs playing in her head.

Friday, July 10, 2009


We have been relegated to land for the time being because the boat has been commandeered by a pirate. Oops, I meant a marine mechanic. The engine is farked (a technical marine term) and had to be pulled out of the water to get fixed. We are supposedly 'on the hard' for less than a week. So we occupy ourselves by chasing balls on the beach and sleeping in other people's beds. I've tentatively been offered a gig cat sitting on a yacht which might get me back to the water sooner rather than later. Who knows where that could lead, just the dinner party conversation alone: "What do you do?" "Funny you should ask. I cat sit on yachts." Inscrutable silence ensues...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Fierce Policy of Indifference

When people see the two dogs together in close quarters, they invariably croon, "Oh, they must love each other so much." Wrong. Theirs is a case of familiarity breeds indifference. Ira was around for nine years before Sadie came along. And now he wonders how he got shackled to a hefty old blond at this stage of life, his figurative ball and chain. The dogs are not 'cuddled' together in the back of a car because they love each other, there's just nowhere else to go. Ira spends a lot of calories searching for resting spots that are physically higher than Sadie. Indeed, one often finds little dogs elevated as high as they can get above sea level; it does much to ease their cute little Napoleon syndromes. Ira's policy of indifference is a vast improvement over the state of affairs when they first met. Any accidental touching on the part of Sadie was usually rewarded with a fierce snarl. It doesn't help that Sadie is clumsy and not familiar with the concept of 'play'. She might pursue a more meaningful relationship with Ira if she had an iota of canine emotional intelligence, but for now, their relationship seems destined only to the realm of tolerance.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Exhibitionist Cat

We don't even pretend to try and understand cats. What other creature would plop itself down in front of strangers, start rubbing up all over the cement and purring with pleasure. If an old man in a raincoat did the same, we would call the police.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Feeding Time at the Zoo

Feeding time at the zoo is an elaborate ritual for the dogs starting with the first pangs of hunger, which prompts the staring, which usually rouses me to get the bowls, open the fridge, mix up some food, and crinkle crunkle the kibble bag. By this point, the pack is in a near drooling frenzy. Any dog whisperer would tell you that the dogs need to be in a state of submission before being fed. And because there is no actual jumping or whining involved, I would call their state just a highly anxious state of submission. Once the bowls are loaded, Ira is a delicate little eater, nibbling on each grain of rice. Sadie remains feral in some matters like food and gulps down her Senior Kibble almost before the bowl hits the floor. Then she waits patiently for the Yorkie to finish his food, for the final scene, whereby she sneaks in to lick Ira's bowl clean, in case he forgot anything. She is usually rewarded with a few grains of stray rice. And then Sadie goes back and licks her own bowl. Then back to Ira's bowl. Repeat ad infinitum until the bowls are removed by the pesky human.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Beaver Fever Update

Sadie was so excited by the phone call from the vet saying we tested negative for Giardia that she started spinning like a whirligig in the V-berth. What can I say.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

At the Pub between a Rock and a Hard Place

Sadie, the old lush that she is (projection anyone?), sometimes accompanies her genteel master to the local drinkery. The dog waits patiently for festivities to end, tucked quietly into a corner or sitting her ample bottom upon a patio step. On the other hand, the Yorkie spends his time at the pub waiting for a server to inadvertently drop a piece of bacon off a plate or stumble and spill glorious french fries in front of him.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Beaver Fever

Except for six year olds, nobody really likes to talk about poop. And nobody likes collecting stool samples and putting them in little baggies to take to the vet. But after a couple of weeks of on again, off again diarrhea with the dogs, indeed, it's time to get a professional opinion. At this point, my unprofessional opinion leans towards Giardia, or Beaver Fever. I just like saying 'Beaver Fever'. All that swimming in the suspect waters of Lake Ontario may have finally caught up with us. Luckily we were on land last night which made this morning's mess a bit easier to clean up. Cleaning poop off the ceramic tiles of a bathroom floor is considerably easier than washing load after load of soiled bedding in the marina laundry room like last week. Results should be in tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mini Whisperer

Our young friend C. spent a good portion of the marina Canada Day party leading the dogs around the parking lot on leash made of boat line. C. is a serious young lady and undertakes all her responsibilities with understated authority and diligence. Before whispering the dogs in the parking lot, we spent some time ferrying them around in the dinghy and cannonballing off a tug boat. All in all, a rather spectacular Canada Day.