Year: 2015

Knock Knock Knock, Penny

My new/old boat obsession is the Flicka 20. I say “new/old” because it was my original obsession, but I gave it up ages ago because I thought Flickas were too small. I’ve changed my tune on that after realizing how long it would take to save up for a Dana 24, and after getting to hang out on a Flicka and seeing how salty and roomy they are for such a wee little yacht, and after realizing that fibromyalgia makes a small boat very appealing. So, once our current boat is sold, our search for a Flicka begins (who are we kidding; I check Yacht World daily – hey, did you know they have an iPad app?).

Anyway, sometimes, on these late winter nights, when I can’t sleep, I add to my list of Future Possible Flicka Names. Tonight, I thought how we ought to name our future boat Knock Knock Knock Penny. That way, any other boat hailing us would have to call into the radio:

Knock Knock Knock Penny
Knock Knock Knock Penny
Knock Knock Knock Penny

This Christmas’s diversion: paracord bracelets

Every Christmas, to assuage the holiday stress and overwhelm, I pick up a small hobby. Novelty makes a great distraction. This year, making paracord bracelets accidentally became my project. My almost-11-year-old daughter came home from school a few weeks ago with a paracord bracelet craft kit she’d picked up at her school’s book fair. “Aha!”, I thought. “That’s what I’ll get her for Christmas!” I bought her three bags of paracord, a book, a wooden device for making bracelets, and some shackles. I hid it all in my office.

A couple weeks later, I ask how the paracord craft kit she bought is working out, and she tells me that it was fun for a couple days, but it isn’t something she can see herself doing as a hobby. I laughed out loud, which brought a look of confusion from Beth. “It’s just…..” I said, “……I might have based a few Christmas gifts off of that idea.”

She laughed with me, and then clearly wasn’t sure what to say. She’s such a sweet kid. I could tell she didn’t want to appear disappointed, but at the same time, I imagine she wasn’t looking forward to getting a bunch of supplies for something she wasn’t into. I said, “No worries, Boo! I’ll figure something else out for Christmas!” And I did!

Meanwhile, although I knew I could send it all back, I thought why not see if I could make one myself. None of it was crazy expensive. I opened it all up last night, and after watching a few YouTube tutorials, ended up making seven of them. My son and husband are wearing one, and I have a bunch more that are sized to my own (big) wrist, although I’d be happy to give a few away. How many paracord bracelets does one person need? I’m about to find out.

It’s a colorful, tactile activity, that doesn’t take take a lot of concentration, and unlike my knitting, if the cats try to join in, their potential for destruction is much less (I worked the bracelets last night while wielding a squirt bottle). And the finished product, especially the fishtail weave, is very pretty.

How I got started:

I didn’t like the book I’d bought, Paracord Outdoor Gear Projects: Simple Instructions for Survival Bracelets and Other DIY Projects. It assumes too much prior knowledge, and the diagrams weren’t complete enough for me. I went online and found YouTube videos, instead.

The best one I found for doing the basic bracelet is this:

But after I’d done a few of those, I wanted to learn how to do a fishtail weave, so I ended up on this video:

And there I stayed, making fishtail after fishtail.

I now have several:

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Blues, purples, and greens are my favorite, although I need more pink in my life (the pink one pictured is a little too pink, so I’ll probably give that one to someone else). The silver shackles look big and clunky, but they’re surprisingly comfortable. Last night I accidentally wore a bracelet to bed, and I didn’t notice until I woke up this morning.

Next up: I want to try a belt. And maybe a dog leash. And a monkey’s fist:

If you want to try playing with paracord, I highly recommend YouTube. A few channels to start you off (between these four you have hundreds of videos to peruse):

Go forth and knot things! And have a lovely, stress-free holiday season!

Let the Hawaii photos begin

In late November, we took a family vacation to Hawaii to celebrate mine and Greg’s twentieth wedding anniversary. I have dozens of photos, and if I don’t start posting a few now and then, I’ll just store them away and forget.

We stayed at the Lawai Beach Resort, and this is the beach right across the street. You could swim there, snorkel, or just stare off into the sunset, which we did every evening (joined by a dozen or so others). I took this photo with my GoPro 3. November 2015.

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Kauai, Hawaii

Hawaii is paradise born of fire.  – Rand McNally

 

Remembering Bodhi on his birthday

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Rest in peace, sweet boy. Today would have been Bo’s 4th birthday. We lost him on June 14th of this year. In terms of grief, I think we all turned a corner in the last couple months, but his birthday has hit us hard. It’s been a rough day for all. This afternoon, we piled in the car and went to Bo’s favorite cafe.

A lovely man, who was sitting alone at a large table, nose-deep in several books about the gospel of Luke, looked up, and saw that he was occupying the only table at which our large party would fit. Immediately, he stood straight up and offered to move to one of the single tables. What a kind gesture. I told him that Luke is my favorite gospel, and we talked for a moment.

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We all got coffee drinks, sat down, and talked about our memories of Bo. How he loved people, how he’d be so sad if we he went for a walk and a person he passed didn’t stop to pet him. How much he loved to cuddle, to hug, to lean. How kind he was to puppies. How much he loved going with Greg to Omnigroup every day. He had a whole separate pack of loves at Omni, especially Rachael and Andrea. What a big heart he had. How much he loved his routine.

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As a youngster, he learned the phrase, “Make it work.” He’d come over to the couch where we’d be sitting, no room left for the dog. He would stare at us, imploring us to let him cuddle. We’d pat our legs and say, “Make it work,” and that was his permission to haul himself up and land wherever he wanted, sprawled across us, squishing us flat and loving every minute of it.

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We shared all the things we could think of, all the small details. There were a lot of tears around the table. And then it was time to go home.

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Bodhi was a unique personality, a perceptive, patient dog with a heart of pure gold. We all thought of him more as a person than an animal. He’s the reason I went vegetarian. I don’t know why I’m writing this. I guess I just want to say, if you have lost a dog, even if it was years ago, have a hug from me today. If you have a dog you love, go hug that sweet pup. Aren’t they special? Aren’t they wonderful? Dogs are magic.

Three and a half years wasn’t enough with Bo, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. We will always remember him, and we will always love him.

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Stories like this make me feel re-connected to the world, and to the part of me that trusts that we have the will and the ability to take care of each other.

My first experience at the Port Townsend Ukulele Festival

This year I attended the second week of the Port Townsend Ukulele Festival. I think folks were saying this was the festival’s third year, and that it’s the first year they had two sessions.  It was my first time attending.

What did I think? I loved it! That’s the tl:dr version. Brisk and sunny fall days, warm and friendly people, excellent ukulele instruction, delicious food, deer running around, open-mic nights, impromptu jams, and a teacher’s concert that was unforgettable; yes, I’m coming back next year!

Off to Port Townsend

Port Townsend is only a couple hours from Seattle, it was an easy drive, at least for normal people (assuming you believe those really exist). Me, well, I often get anxious while driving, so I wanted someone to drive with. One of my good friends, Honora,  signed up to camp with me, and we’d planned on sailing or driving together (see map below), but she got some difficult news and it turned out she’d be unable to make it.

I owe all of what happened next to Honora’s sweetness. Despite she stress she was going through, instead of just calling Centrum and asking for a refund, she told me, “You should see if someone wants to take over my ticket, and find someone fun to drive with, that way you won’t have to drive up alone.” At first I thought, nahh, I can drive it myself. Then I had second thoughts, so I put out a call for co-pilots to the Seattle Ukulele Players Association mailing list, and the first person to respond was Chontel, a woman I hadn’t met before, but who co-ran her own ukulele group. We figured out all the details in email, and then we met when I pulled into her driveway to pick her up.

We had a great time driving together. Not only that, Chontel was so kind and sensitive, both about my fears that I might get anxious while driving (I didn’t on the way up, but on the way home in the dark I did get pretty anxious, but it worked out just fine), and about my having fibromyalgia. We had great conversation, we listened to great uke music, and over the four days we became real friends. I’m so grateful to Honora for urging me to find another co-pilot, and to Chontel for answering the call.

Anyway, I love to make maps, so here’s one for fun:

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The green route is the one that Chontel and I actually drove. The blue route was the first idea that Honora and I had for how we’d get up there – why not sail? That seemed like a great plan back in June. By October, after an entire summer only sailing a few times, I was frustrated to realize that it was too big of a trip for our britches. Honora has always been a great crew member on the boat, and we’d have had Greg with us, but still, we didn’t feel comfortable getting up there by sail. I estimated the trip would have been about 8 hours, and require decent navigation and chart reading. Our longest trip is an overnight to Kingston, and that was two years ago – we hadn’t really been honing our chart reading skills since then. And Greg would have been coming up just to help us sail, he’d have had little to do all week. So, we opted to drive, and that was the right choice. Still, next year, I’d love to try going by sail. We’ll see!

This is what our rooms looked like:

IMG_6059 I thought it was very cozy when I opened the door. After the first night, I realized two things. One; the walls are paper thin. Not only can you hear your neighbors cough, but if they want to practice their new uke skills, you won’t be able to take an afternoon nap.

Two; the mattresses are terrible. For someone with a normal body, this is fine for a few days. For someone with fibromyalgia, especially when you combine the bad mattress with the inability to find a quiet place to take an afternoon recovery nap, it was bad enough that I lost significant amounts of sleep. I was a zombie by the time I got home, though it should be noted I was a very happy, ukulele-music-filled zombie.

Still, Chontel and I both agreed that next year we’d prefer another location for our sleeping. Maybe a bed and breakfast, or if we sail up, I can make our beds on board very comfy.
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Fort Warden is beautiful. It’s impossible to take an ugly picture here. Everywhere you look, it’s nothing but quaint white clapboard buildings set against a bright blue sky. I suppose when it’s grey and rainy, it might be less inspiring, but our whole trip was gifted with beautiful weather.

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Walk far enough, and you reach the water, where you can look out over Admiralty Inlet, and wave hello to Whidbey Island. I spent some lovely hours at here, practicing uke and watching the ferries go by.

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One of my classmates in Aaron Keim‘s fingerpicking class had this nifty coil in which to rest her pencil. GENIUS! She said she found it on the Shar Music website, but I couldn’t locate it. Maybe they don’t carry them anymore. I did find this iPad holder which I could really use…(taking notes for Christmas list).

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I met a lovely woman who had two(!) stunningly beautiful DaSilvas. Since I began playing uke a few years ago, I’ve always preferred the sound of resonators (I have a brass Morton tenor) to ukes made from wood. This goes against tradition, of course, and I don’t usually admit it. It isn’t that I think regular ukes sound bad, it’s just that the resonators are so much more…resonant. Loud? Volume is part of it, but it’s also that twang-y quality. Not a banjo, but not a uke, either, somewhere in the middle. I love it!

The DaSilva was the first wooden uke I played that made me think, Oooooooo, I’d buy this. It sounded like a harp! It was gorgeous. Both to look at, and to play. A real work of art. I’d love to save up for one. Someday!

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When I arrived at camp and saw the list of classes and teachers, I didn’t recognize anyone except Aaron Keim and Del Ray. This isn’t saying anything – I haven’t explored the ukulele word much beyond Jake Shimabukuro. On our schedule were some classes with Craig Chee and Sarah Maisel.

I ended up taking Craig’s class, Ukulele Bootcamp, and learned a ton. I learned more in his class than in all the others combined. Chontel took some classes with Sarah and loved those, too. I had lunch with Craig and Sarah one afternoon, and talked to them a few times outside of class, I found them both so friendly and funny. I hope they come back to the festival next year.
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The food was delicious, plentiful, and quite varied for someone without food sensitivities. However, if you’re vegan or gluten-free, you can eat about half or less of most meals. If you’re vegan and gluten-free, you’re in trouble. In that case, I’d bring extra food, or go without the meal plan and prepare your own meals entirely.

IMG_0838A jam with Del Ray!
IMG_6049These happy faces were the regular scene in all the classes and jams. The whole festival was a very laid back, happy place, like you might expect. It was a great experience!

I’ve had this post sitting for a few days, writing as I have the energy.  The fibromyalgia has been especially bad this week, and I’m extra tired. I can see that it shows in my writing and descriptions. I didn’t do the trip justice, but maybe I can write more later.