Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Fall Tally

Completed this weekend:

6 jars of peach jam processed
2 jars of peach baby food processed
6 jars of pear jam processed
3 roosters sent to freezer boot camp
2 bush cords of wood stacked (by Daddy & Chuckles)
1 chicken coop shoveled out
Several gardens fertilized with said chicken droppings
1 child outfitted for school
1 toddler begun toilet training

We need a weekend to recover from our weekend.

Monday, 30 August 2010


5 Motherease newborn to potty training diapers: $17.50 (retails for about $13 each)

5 Kushies 10lb to 22lb diapers, new in package: $20 (package retails for $50)

1 Kushies “butterfly” style diaper cover: $3.99

5 Gerber Nylon pull-on pants: $2.50 (haven’t seen these retail, so not even sure if they’re sold anymore)

1 Kushies Training pant, lined & with nylon: $2.50 (retails for about $11)

Buddy is actively toilet training. Last Thursday while dressing him, he told me “no more diapers.” So on Friday night, we switched to underpants. The daycare said to send him with a stack of underwear, & a stack of clean pants, and they will take it from there during the day. The Teacher also said she’s helped train almost every child in his class. So she has a bit of experience. And really, with that resource available to me…. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of it? I asked her if I needed pull ups (was really NOT looking forward to needing to buy those), and she said, if he’s asked for no diaper, she wouldn’t… they’re too similar.

So we are using the lined Kushies training pant for car rides, and regular underwear otherwise. The Gerber pull-on pants (they’re similar to the old ‘plastic pants’ that used to go on cloth diapers), are backups, also only used in the car etc.

We’re still diapering him at nap time & overnight, so I may try to find some more of the Kushies pants for that, just so we can be DONE with diapers (don’t really want to keep going back & forth with them, I’d rather switch & be done!).

Hi finally peed IN the toilet last night... while Mommy & Daddy were on a date, & Chuck was bb sitting.  She was waiting for us on the front porch when we got home to share the news!!  Apparently, we need to go out more often, and leave her with him!

He is in the preschool class at the new daycare... with 24 kids in the class, the majority of which are toilet trained.  I'm hopeing that the daycare will have more luck than I have, if only due to the peer pressure of everyone else peein gin the toilet!!

As for Thing Three…. We will for sure be cloth diapering. I still need to find diaper covers (I’ve found that Bummis whisper wraps are highly recommended, regardless of what liner is used). I can get a starter kit of Bummis, with 24 prefolds & 6 covers + a few extra items for $150, which is about three months worth of disposables. But I am going to wait to see what else I can find used first. Especially since I’ve also read that, since all babies are shaped differently, sometimes, the diaper that works great for one baby may not work for another, so it’s a good idea to try different brands to see what will work best, and then purchase enough of that brand & re-sellt he rest on Craigslist etc.

So far, I only have the one ‘butterfly’ cover, so that is that is what I am looking out for most. Also, I’m watching for a few All-In-Ones, mostly for babysitters, Chuck, traveling, etc.  But with 10 diapers sized for a newborn, we are off toa good start.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Just imagine....

That right here, is a pretty picture of a hen climbing the chicken roof, to the top of the fence:

Now, in this next picture, she is climbing along the edge of the fence:

Next, we have a picture of mama trying to use a field hockey stick to convince the hen that she needs to go back INSIDE the enclosure:

Said hen freaks out, and flys down, OUTSIDE the enclosure.

Meanwhile, while al this is happening, Mama is muttering under her breath "Sh1t it would have to be a hen, wouldn't it."

Eventually, after running around after the en like a crazy woman for a few moments, mama catches said hen, who is actually happy to be caught at this point, and returned to her friends.

I think the chickens heard us discussing freezer boot camp, and were re-enacting "chicken run" in the backyard.  Unfortunatly, I was too busy chasing the hen to take a picture!!  Too bad the hen didn't realize that by virtue of her being a her, she would be spared boot camp!!

(We bought ten straight run Chanty's... meaning unsexed, expecting about five boys & five girls.  We got seven boys & three girls.  The poor girls are starting to walk funny, and the boys are freaking them right out, which is why she was trying to get away.... the poor thing needed some peace!!)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A Busted Pole, a torn sail, and weekend of racing ahead

Well, the total damage to Iris from the night sail has been tallied. The most painful pain from the adventure has to be the damage we suffered to our mylar tapedrive headsail. Whenever I raise that sail, Iris goes like stink. In light wind, that sail will make us move better than Exlax after a bowl of prunes. We pass boats with the big 155% sail, and are rarely passed by other boats in our class. But maybe not so much anymore.

In the night race that sail took a helluva beating. it was flailed out of control, whipped, snapped, and overloaded. The sail was buried in the water and raked across the spreaders. At some point in that race, the sail took more than it couild handle, and it looks like a spreader punched through it. It now has a tear about 8" long in its upper section. I may be able to patch it, but the sail will be of limited use now. Very unfortunate.

Our other challenge is with the broken whisker pole. I need to get to re-drilling it and cutting off the broken end. I think it will be useful, and possibly even better than it originally was. "Half a pole, half a pole, half a pole onward..."

This past weekend, the guys at the marina walked through tuning my rig with me, such that the mast is now more raked, and the boat more powerful than it was before the night race. Once the rig was tuned the challenge went up to beat "The Screach," a sworn enemy on the water and genuinely nice guy on land. I hope I can, but I'll have to do it with half a pole and minus my favourite sail.

Beyond that, Chuck has invited a handful of her friends to come sail the race with us. We better do well, preteen girls are hard to keep happy and I'll have to get off the course in a hurry, or be the uncoolest Dad ever.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Decisions, Decisons....

I am currently pricing & debating the merits of cloth vs. disposables.

I figure I spend for Buddy about $50 per month in disposables.

cloth will cost about $350 to get started... that's a big chunk of change up front, but a long term savings.

BUT, will I get fed up with washing them, wringing them, etc??

AND, how long will each size last?  If I need to spend $350 every six months for the next size... well, I'd be better off just using disposables.

some things to think about.....

Monday, 9 August 2010


In the past I have said that DNF is the worst result you can get in a race. DNF points to poor preparation and judgement, poor seamanship, and a lack of the steely nerves needed to be a competitive sailor. I still feel that way, and I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit all those things came together to produce that result last night.

The night race has come to have a reputation for both magic and horror for me. It's like a blockbuster movie that moves from romance to chainsaw style decapitation, and does it without blinking. This year the switch was so smooth and quiet, it could have been deadly.

Let's start at the start. Crew selection. A few weeks ago I started lining up crew for the event. I had a crack shot skipper sign on, and some new crew, myself, and Chuck. It looked really good. The four of us could sail in two shifts, with reserve crew working as called on waiting for their turn in action. Then the spare skipper got called away on work, and my spare crew got busy with life. More folks were called upon, but by race day it was down to Chuck and I.

Then Chuck decided to give crewing with Newfie Screach a try. I had no problem with that since life experiences are great and everything, but it meant I was going alone.

I've single-handed Iris many times, and figured this would be no different, just longer. I thought I was up for the test, so I wished Chuck luck as she sailed off aboard "the Screach".

Before the race started, the weather radio was calling for heavy winds, but not until about midnight, so I put up my #3 jib. The working jib is a smallish sail that is used when the wind is strong, but not overpowering. I was being prudent and safe. Out on the lake, winds were light, and most of the fleet had big Genoas flying. I ignored them, after all, I was being the safe one.

In the prestart, I hung close to the line, and had a really good start, first or second over with a PHRF Lo boat right next to me. As soon as we were over the line, he started pushing me back into the starting area, allowing the rest of the fleet to pass us. I pointed out to him that I wasn't even in his fleet, and he replied that he didn't care, he just wanted to get in clear air and this was how he was doing it.

By the time the other boat was clear of me, I had been pushed back to the middle of the fleet. So much for my great start. With the smaller sails up, I was having a hard time catching up to the rest of the fleet. I couldn't even get a whisker pole up without losing ground. Things were bad, and I dropped back further and further as everyone else advanced ahead of me.

It wasn't long until a big Hunter 38 came up behind me. I felt a little like a chicken being followed by an ostrich as his huge sails stole all the wind I could get. And he sat there all the way to big bay point. By the time we reached the top of Kempenfelt bay, I was 3rd last, he was behind me, and a third boat trailed in the distance. Things were not good.

After we rounded Big Bay Point, The Hunter held his overlap, and started playing with me on the pointing leg of the race, eventually pulling clear of my boat and leaving me alone. I had almost caught up with "Shoal Mate" and felt comfortable in the gathering night. It nagged at me that the big boat had felt the need to mess up my race so much, abut at least I was still moving. Although I was moving very slowly, and the winds were very light.

I thought about the rest of the fleet so far ahead, and about the wind warning. When I had mentioned it ashore, I had been laughed at, and been told there was no wind in any other forecast. Tonight was about having the biggest sails to a lot of folks. Maybe they were right. Maybe I was losing because I had made a bad decision in my sail selection. I decided to go up in sail size and took down the 110% jib to put up my 155% Genoa.

I lost a little time in the sail change, but overall it went well. And I started gaining on the boats ahead of me right away. The big sail was hard to gybe, and it got hung up on the rigging a lot, but it was definitely better. I patted myself on the back as the boat picked up speed, and started running faster and faster.

Running wing on wing you can't really feel the wind the same way you do when reaching or pointing, so its funny how the wind can build without you being aware of it. I went from moving at 0.5 knots to 1 knot right away, and attributed this to the new sail. Then the boat speed climbed to 3, then 5, then 6 knots. Then I started surfing waves, and fighting the wind as it shoved the boat across the inky black water. Eventually I could feel the wind moving faster than the boat, and saw waves breaking around me. Then I knew I was in trouble.

To change a sail to a smaller size with crew is a formidable feat. It involves one sailor with steely nerves going on the bow, pulling down the sail, and then hanging over the water to undo hanks while the boat pounds up and down on the waves. A second person goes below to receive the sail through the foredeck hatch, and stows it below, while a third person holds the boat into the wind, fighting the seas and winds, always on guard in case anyone goes overboard.

All of this is done with the boat facing dead upwind.

I was alone in the boat facing dead downwind. To change the sail I would need to turn the boat around, then go below and open the foredeck hatch. With it opened, I would have to run above and pull down the sail. With the sail down I could undo all the hanks and shove it below, then run down a stow it, sealing the hatch. Once all that was done I could think about putting up a smaller sail. If I didn't change the sail, it would be a heck of a bumpy ride in the howling wind. I decided to take down the whisker pole as a first step before evaluating my chances of reducing sail.

I eased the sheet forward to release the pole, and the wind took over. In an instant, the sail was snatched from my control, the whisker pole whipped forward and wrapped around the forestay, broken and useless, impossible to remove without leaving the helm.

I ran to the front of the boat and released the pole from the mast. Once it was free I came back to the tiller, and got the boat back under control as much as I could. The big sail was pinned to the forestay by the broken pole, billowing in the wind and pulling theboat madly sideways and down into the water.

A second sprint to the bow pulpit and I got the pole off the forestay. I let it drag from the corner of the genoa in the water beside the boat while I ran to the tiller to regain control before the boat crash-gybed. The sail flaied in the wind, whipping the pole back and forth like a bullwhip in teh night. With every gust it threatened to smash through a side window, or hook on the shrouds as we pounded through the surf.

A third trip forward and I got the pole off the sail and the sheets untangled. I almost threw the pole overboard, but had second thoughts, and instead dragged it back to the cockpit with me. Once in the cockpit I hauled in the sheets and got the boat sailing under control again. With the big genoa she wanted to round up or lay on her side, but there we were, Iris and I alone in the night, fighting the wind to stay alive.

I was 0.4 miles from the downwind mark when I broke the pole and started my fight with the wind, but now I was far off course since the boat had careened to find an upwind course each time I left the tiller. I felt battered and beat up. My big genoa was still flying, and it was a fight to keep the boat on its feet. Iris and I shared some words and I swore at the big Hunter that had helped me lose focus earlier. Then I swore at the boat that had pushed me back after my great start. Then I swore at my own poor judgement for coming out alone in this weather.

Then I decided DNF was better than an obituary.

There was no way to do a sail change alone in this wind. I had already proved that working alone my best bet was to hold a course. Any course. As long as it took me out of the wind and waves. I looked at my GPS. The nearest port was Hawkestone Yacht Club. Its entrance is tricky though and in this weather I wasn't up to chancing it. Next closest was Lagoon City, Downwind on a reach, which would be a fairly reasonable ride, but would mean a much farther sail home tomorrow. Next closest was my home port - 8 mile on a close reach, a bumpy ride, but no tacks or gybes and with it being on the south side of the lake the waves should get smaller the closer I got. The finish line of the race was the farthest port from where I was.

I hove to and had a head clearing session with myself. Heading home was easy, but was it the right thing to do? How much was this series worth? I had just broken a $400 - $500 piece of equipment. How much more was going to break out here? Could I even reach the weather mark in reasonable time? Could I finish higher than last place with the lead I had lost earlier? Did all that matter? Could Chuck get home without me making it to Barrie? What was tomorrow's weather like? Would we have an equally miserable ride home tomorrow?

I got on the radio with Tabasco and asked if they could get Chuck home. They answered that they could - they had broken some stuff too, but thought they were going to finish. I thanked them, asked them to radio the race committee that I had withdrawn, then turned Iris for home.

A couple times after that I almost turned back. The ride home was bumpy, and Iris was definitely over-canvassed, but once in the groove, she behaved quite nicely. Iris buried her rails and nose regularly in the steep chop and breaking waves as she pounded out a rhythem across the lake. Together we made a beeline for the marina, and from 8 miles out never had a question about where we were going or how we were getting there. The boat struggled against the waves, holding her course nicely but never approaching hull speed, happy to get up around 5.5 knots but never much more than that.

The waves took on a personality of their own as I sailed across the lake, and the spray coming off the tops of them looked like hands reaching up to grab me and pull me off the boat. The saying that the water wants to kill you has never seemed so real as it did in my tired mind that night.

As I pulled into the harbour, I heard Newfie Screach on the radio with Tabasco talking about getting Chuck home, and I tried to hail them back, but I was too far out of range and the radio's batteries too weak. I tied up Iris, put on the mainsail cover, and left her a mess to be dealt with later.

I drove home and collapsed in my bed, sleeping like a stone.

In the morning, Chuck arrived at the door and I let her in. She went straight to bed as well after not having slept all night, and then SWMBO and I returned to the boat later in the day. The damage to the Whisker pole was worse than I had thought, but it looks like I may be able to cut the end off it and have a shorter, but serviceable pole. I am not sure. I still need to take out the genoa and see if it needs a repair or not.

So I have my first DNF in the LSIS series. I should have really kept Chuck on board if for nothing else than that critical sail change. I shouldn't have entered the race without the crew I had signed up at the beginning. I should have listened to the little voices saying to go with the smaller sail when I was alone.

I should have done a lot of things, I am also glad I at least gave it a try.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Someone tell me....

What would possess my two year old to think that pulling the dirty diapers out of the garbage, dipping them into the toilet, and then taking them TO HIS ROOM and putting them in a nice, neat pile was a good idea??

**edited to add, he was using the diapers as a scrub brush... the toilet is actually quite clean now....

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Who needs Playdough toys......

when you've figured out where Mommy's utensil drawer is?

The Garlic press makes great playdough hair....

Wooden spoon for serving.....

And rolling pin of course!!

And the cooler makes a great Buddy-sized table!

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and Lolli

No Tank-tou naptime Mommy, No Tank-tou.....

I get the impression, that despite his protests, he was a little bit sleepy.....

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Its time to light the middle.

"My candle burns at both ends, It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light." ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

So sooner or later, I figured there would be a collision between real life and sailing on this blog. Most sailors find themselves interpreting one through the other anyhow, and that collision made itself pretty clear back in the winter with my Changes post.

Here is what is going on right about now. We are navigating confused seas. The wind is blowing in from the east while the current is heading west. This is piling up waves that are hard to manage. At the same time, percussion waves are rebounding off the shores and tossing the boat about. I am working the tiller hard while striving to keep wind in the sails and not get pulled back by an 8 knot current in a 4 knot boat. And I'm not giving up and turning around, 'cause the easy way isn't always the best.

In the past there have been a couple choices I made that were right if for no other reason than because I made a choice. Changing Careers, staying in Brantford, Changing relationships, leaving Brantford and having kids are among those choices. Conscious control carries a reward of confidence and surety that going with the flow cannot offer. I made a choice like that back in December, and now I am working through its outfall. The choice was to leave a great employer and to stretch through new challenges. I left to work for the city, and then in short order leveraged that position for another with a third employer, where I am now.

All this change has resulted in a house of cards effect that hasn't stopped since. SWMBO has been recruited to come and work with me at the new job. Buddy is changing childcare to be closer to us while we are at work. We are also expecting a third kid. Chuck is discovering boys and independance. We will be selling the house (I L-O-V-E that house) and moving in the next year. I have a forced timeline to complete a series of renovations and projects that are only half started. Iris will either move this fall or next to Lake Ontario. On top of all that our chickens (yes, we have chickens) are getting to an increased demand stage as they mature enough to start laying.

Are we busy? Yeah. Just a little. Its a no-nonsense time right now. Too much to do and not enough time, or energy, or desire to do it all. I face my list at home, and know that getting stuff done means selling the house (I L-O-V-E that house) and that doesn't sound appealing. Hard to get your spirits up for something like that.

But you know, if I don't man-up and get going on all this, then the waves and currents and winds are going to push me wherever they please, and the decision I made in the first place just won't matter anymore.

So what is it? Tack? Gybe? Hold course? As I said to Jamie not so long ago, it doesn't matter much how that candle is burning out at the ends; its time to light the middle, or as Uncle Vince would say, "git'er done."


Dear Baby:

We are now in the second trimester. During the second trimester, Mommy is supposed to be feeling better than she was in the first, not worse. Now, I know that the first trimester was actually pretty easy. Considering the ride your brother took me on in those first few weeks, it was a trip to the park. However, it would be appreciated if that could continue. Mostly so that I can continue chasing said brother around.

Love, Mama

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

A Quick Update...

I haven't been as fastidious about updating the goings on of sailing this season, but let me say things have been going well thus far.

I have been lucky to have good crew in Judy, and with her help in races 1-4 of the LSIS series, I have managed to hold on to first place in the White sail High division this far. So far on the season Iris has taken 1 yellow flag and 3 blue flags. But I am as nervous as a sheep with a lonely farmer.

Here is the thing, Newfie Screach hasn't been in winning form thus far in the season. He missed race one and two altogether because of work, then had his motor mount break on the way to race 3. He managed to make it to race 4 with a cutting board for a motor mount, and now is determined to sweep the season in order to maintain his place as the winningest boat on the lake.

I Am Canadian is also trying to broadside me with whatever he can. Canadian has two yellow flags to my 1, and just like last year, I find myself having to beat him in order to stay alive. How familiar does this sound - it doesn't matter how I place as long as I place ahead of Newfie and Canadian. Man, its like a replay of last season.

Now lets add to the stress. A couple new boats are looking at joining the LSIS series late in the season, and I can't be sure whether they are joining as spinnaker boats, or in my class. There are at least 2 that I worry about. And all this is keeping me up at night. All night. Ok well, it will keep me up all night on Saturday.

This Saturday is the Harris Steele Overnight race. The longest race of the season, and I don't have enough crew as of right now. I meant to ask around on the weekend, but the opportunity never presented itself. Harrumph. I thought I had a kick-butt crew pulled together for the race, but then the secondary skipper I had got called away for work, and my sure bet fourth didn't work out. I may end up going solo.

I hope there is a tonne of wind. Solo in light air would mean a very long race, and I can't be sure how I would fare. Whatever the conditions are, I need to finish ahead of Newfie and Canadian and whoever else thinks they are going to beat me. Dammit, I need more yellow flags.

Playing with my Cousins.....

We're all a bit bigger than last time..... I can even (almost) keep up with them!!