Thursday, August 21, 2014

Homeschool Freedom Day!

I didn't make up that holiday; a friend of mine did. She says that if you homeschool, then whatever day the local schools around you launch into their new school year and return to the classrooms, THAT day is a holiday for you, dear homeschooler. It's your "Homeschool Freedom Day"!
These two! They were adorable, sitting together in the surf, chatting.
We decided to go to the beach on Homeschool Freedom Day to celebrate. There were no school kids on the sand today. Adam went along too. He generally dislikes the beach but has decided he would rather be with us in the nasty sand, then be apart from us without the sand between his toes. Bless him!
 The Neuse lay flat as we crossed on the ferry. I've never seen so many bird sitting on the water.
Julia gave me That Look when I snapped a picture.
 We settled into the ride and engaged ourselves in our activities:


I'm not sure how much sketching she got done.
At the beach I began my usual shell hunt. Slim pickin's today.
 I looked for large broken ones to use a shards in the bottoms of my big herb pots.
And I found this:
 He's quite big. In spite of the wind I painted for a while, and I painted him. He graciously posed, perfectly still. It helps that he's dead.
This is part of a Scotch bonnet shell. I've never found a whole one myself.

 Adam spent most of the time in the surf, sitting, working his weakened hip and leg muscles.

 We saw our friends, the gulls.
 This fellow tried for about 30 minutes to get his parasail up and running, but it kept collapsing on him. He gave up. I was looking forward to a show over the water, but all for naught.
 These lettered olive shells are broken in half. I wrote a short (rather bad) poem about them, and penned it in the back of the Gladys Taber book I'm reading presently. I didn't think she would mind.



 Someday I shall try to get in the house and find it's full of seashells, with no room for humans. It's an issue.
Well, we left the beach just in the nick of time, before the storm hit at 2:00. Folks were fleeing for vehicles, coolers and chairs in tow.
 It didn't seem like much of a storm, but we've had lots of rain lately and I suppose some of it was a deluge. Anyway, as we drove along hwy. 70 away from the beach, the flooding in parking lots was significant. Some stores were clearly overcome.
 Quite a few emergency vehicles flashed past us, and our lanes of traffic slowed to a standstill. At last we came upon the hold-up:  a patch of road (in all four lanes, both ways) covered with deep water (rushing in a current!). We did as others did -- stopped, viewed the water, viewed other cars attempting to cross.  We decided we would not risk it, pulled into the opposite lanes and returned the way we came. We found another route home, thankfully.
This little church is near the ferry. Each year they do something rather unusual.
 In the side yard, they have a big pile of ...
 Sweet potatoes! Lots and lots of sweet potatoes.
 This year we stopped to look. All of them were either huge or tiny. But they are free for the taking, for anyone wanting potatoes. I think it's a kind thing to do. The pile sits there for weeks, slowly dwindling.
We noted the school buses making their first-day deliveries of students at 4:00 p.m.
 Julia was a bit worn out. We don't actually start school until Monday, but I think this was a successful homeschool holiday.
(Disclaimer: nothing in this post is meant to be insulting or derogatory of other methods of education. We are simply noting the joys we find in the mode of education we've chosen -- celebrating our school, as all other types of schools do too. I hope everyone is able to choose the kind of education they prefer.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Beauty All the Year

 Here's some autumn pretty from Oriental. The color of these tall grasses is a soft metallic pink.
 It's only August, but some of our trees are turning and dropping leaves. We had a solid week of rain, and I think that contributed. I'm not sure, but I think these were from a tulip poplar. I found them at church.
 A lone dead tree juts above the soggy marshes across Whittaker Creek.
 However, a few intrepid summer roses insist on one last bloom.
 And a very pretty bloom it is!
Adam pulled a few quarts of honey in June, as you recall. We use a little to eat on toast, but at last I decided to take a few jars to the farmer's market to sell. They should go quickly.
Here's a boat we saw the other day. It's a sailboat, but it has a center console cabin, with those wooden slats on the side -- very interesting boat. I like it.
 Pretty wooden detailing makes this a lovely boat.
 A new power boat called the "Shellback" recently joined the ranks out at Whittaker Marina. She's very nice.
 Boats have all different shapes of sterns, and here I've tried to capture three shapes for you. The boat on the far end is a canoe stern, and you can see why.
The boat in the middle has a slightly raked (sloping in at the bottom) stern, or transom. The dark blue boat in the foreground has a transom that slopes the other way -- a reverse transom or stern. It's not a sharp reverse. Some power boats with easy access to the water for swimming will have a long, sloping reverse transom with steps down to the water -- almost like a skirt hanging off the back. Here's a chart I found online with the various types:

 Here's the website the chart came from, if anyone's interested in stern shapes.
When a town has boats, there's always beauty, whether spring, summer, autumn, winter. I'll be sharing more seasonal beauty with you as these cooler days approach ... or as my friend PomPom calls this time of year: "The Coming Season of Cozy." I like that!

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Dream of a Boat ...

Adam and I often walk along the docks at Whittaker Creek Marina. It's a quiet, romantic spot. It's perhaps the junkiest marina in Oriental, but there are interesting boats, and boats for sale.
Loving a boat is a bit of a disease. Sailors are crazy people. And when a particular boat wriggles its way into your mind and begins to capture your imagination ... watch out.
This massive old bark has caught my eye for quite a while. It's nearly a wreck.
She's long, about 45 feet, Adam estimates. She's for sale, but she's not listed on the marina's website under "boats for sale." Probably she was abandoned here by her owner, with years of slip fees due, and she sits, rotting gently away. It feels like a crime.
She has two masts, and as you see below, she's quite broad in the beam. I look at her from behind and think of all the fun a group of people could have on that much boat.
The cockpit is in the middle, and she has a rear cabin, and in the forecastle a main saloon and cabin also. Lots of space for comfort.
I know Adam and I could never, ever handle a sailboat this large, especially with two masts and all the sail area that would involve. It's unmanageable for us in a multitude of ways.
The cockpit isn't huge, but all the sides are for sitting. The wooden door panel on the right goes into the aft cabin. The flat wooden panel on the left is over another companionway that leads to the forward saloon and cabin. The cockpit is a mess, with old cushions pulled out of the boat, moldering away in the rain and heat.
The boat's in bad shape. Here you see some of the lines rotting on the deck. Years have passed since she's been out in the wind.
This port light is particularly bad. Rain has undoubtedly gone inside. I wonder how much water is in her hull, and how much damage has been done inside. You also see how the side has bashed against the dock, breaking the paint and damaging the fiberglass. It's not severe yet, but all this would need repair.
She's been sitting so long that the wood on her deck has lichens.
Some boats (even large ones) are free to anyone who will take them away. Sometimes a marina owner simply wants some moorage fees taken care of. But the obstacle is truly the work needed on such a boat. Adam says the sails, if they've been inside the boat all this time, would almost certainly be worthless. It would cost thousands of dollars to replace them on such a big boat. The motor and batteries needed on such a boat -- it's a huge cost! The bottom paint alone is prohibitive. Someone wealthy would have to fall in love with her, to salvage such a vessel.

Adam dreams of living on a boat -- even if he didn't sail the oceans, he likes the idea of living aboard in a slip or anchorage and simply cruising around when time allowed. I can see the appeal of such a life, although I can't imagine living without my piano nearby. Even though such a dream cannot become fact for us, we allow ourselves to dream. Dreaming is pleasant. Dreaming keeps the heart alive. I didn't used to understand this. I allowed myself to be only practical, nothing else. I felt dreaming was dangerous, even sad, if I knew the dream could never come true.
Here's the marina where she lies, the water she would pass through if she could go out to sea again. Because we cannot step foot on the boat without a broker, and the angles of the docks don't allow us to see the entire hull, we don't know her name or what kind of boat she is. Perhaps I'll give her a name just from me, a name for a dream. Many of our dreams, Adam and I save for the next life, when there will not be so many limitations on what we can realize and attain.
On the New Earth, I think Adam will build a wooden boat that large, and we will sail away together for a hundred years. When we return, we'll take some friends along for the next century of sailing the world. Anyone want to come? We'll drop you at Tahiti if you like.

Hail, Lime Julius!

Susa Branch calls this Basil Lemonade, which is a fun name. But since you hardly taste the basil, and there are no lemons ... well, I chose a new name. The flavor that kicks you in the teeth in this recipe is LIME, and lots of it!
My photo is NOT as pretty as Susan Branch's.
Begin with a simple syrup, and here's where the limited basil makes its entrance.
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 healthy, fresh basil leaves

Heat this on the stove and then cool in the frig.

Pour it into your blender, add:
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
4 limes chopped in quarters
2 cups cold water


Then pulse your blender on high until the limes are cut up nicely.

Pour the entire mass through a sieve into a container or large-mouth pitcher.
Add another 2 cups of cold water into the blender to swish it out, and pour that water through the sieve also, and mash the pulpy mass of limes with a spoon so you get ALL the flavor from them into your drink.
If you drink it straight, without the crushed ice,
it's a wee bit strong.
Chill well in the frig, and serve over crushed ice if you have it.