Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ponderings of the day…

Traffic has set me so far behind schedule that I’m taking a brief air-conditioning break before heading back into the shop (garage) to resume my fiberglass preps. But hours spent staring at brake lights around me left me to ponder these thoughts and more.

Why is it that people chose to drive very pricey high end automobiles, yet ignore that those vehicles are driving on bald tires?

Why is it that various drivers neglect to look under their hoods until after they’re stopped on the shoulder of the highway with the family and a week’s worth of luggage packed into their car, temperatures have hit triple digits, and a mushroom cloud is rising from what remains of their engine? (At which point they still have zero idea what they are staring at or why, only that it is not good.)

Why is it that people fail to realize the moment their vehicle, which is not accustomed to idling with the air conditioner cranking in triple digit temperatures in a parking lot of traffic backed up behind aforementioned breakdown will now join the Over-heated Car Club.

Why is it that Audi drivers with uni-directional tires often have a single rear tire mounted in reverse of the direction it is meant to rotate. They call them ‘uni-directional’ for a reason. Your mechanic/tire place should know better, and so should you. It bugs me whenever I see that.

Why is it that people driving cars worth four times that of my Jetta can’t seem to Blue-tooth their cell phones? If my car can talk to my phone, I’m sure yours can, too. Read the manual. It’s that little book in the glove box.

Okay. That’s my five minute rant. I’ve cooled off, and I’ve much work to do. Deeper ponderings to come on Monday. Everyone, have a safe, fun, pre-4th weekend. But please, look under your hood before you hit the highway, and check your tires, damnit!


Still itching…

I’m a bit behind schedule today, but that’s mostly because my schedule, once again, is non-stop. I’ve been going since 4:30 a.m. … okay, technically 5:00, if you want to count actually functioning as opposed to merely waiting for the caffeine to kick in. It’s another one of those days with more to do than I have day to do it in, but such is my life.

As for the primary task at hand, it involves prepping to wrap up the final fiberglass work within the salon. It’s one of those big-scary jobs, the sort that once you start, there’s no turning back. Every last detail must be in place and waiting, because as the saying goes, once it’s mixed, resin waits for no one. And laying up three successive layers of glass on a very contoured overhead surface… well… that just adds to the challenge.

Last weekend was spent very meticulously discussing, planning and diagramming every detail. Measuring distances and profiles, debating various approaches to fiberglass lay-up. Which pieces overlap where, in what order they’ll go up and how we’ll go about it. Below, the ribs, now with filets faired out and sanded.

Then crunching all those numbers and measurements into a roadmap of sizes and layup order…

Then once again verifying that every last number is absolutely correct, so I could begin cutting 20+ yards of fiberglass cloth into various boat-size pieces.

A quick note for anyone attempting an undertaking such as this. The ‘rotary’ style razor often found in the quilting section of most fabric stores, (it resembles a pizza cutter, only with an actual razor blade serving as the wheel,) cuts fiberglass with smooth precision and makes this task immeasurably faster, neater and easier than either scissors or a utility knife. Explaining precisely what I’d be using that rotary razor for when asked by the curious saleslady in the quilting section… well, that was amusing. I suppose I’m making a quilt, of sorts, actually, though I don’t think it was the type she had in mind.

Each section, once cut, I wrapped in its own piece of plastic, which will serve both as a fresh surface to wet it out, as well as a neater way of laying it out overhead. Every section I labeled to its corresponding number on our paperwork, and sequence of layup. Those numbered and pre-wrapped pieces I grouped into bags, ready and waiting for their round of layup.

Ultimately, we’ll be positioning seventy-eight pieces in total, and from the first to the last, there will be no stopping. I suppose this might be the point to say something clever about how preparation is half the job, or make some analogy to how it connects to writing or something else in life.  But right now I’m more preoccupied with double and triple checking every number, while watching the weather forecasts, which predict excessive heat, and figuring how we’ll rig an air conditioner into the cabin to keep temperatures in the cabin within optimal working range.

Decisions, decisions…

Emails and comments awaiting replies.  Things to be read, even more to be written. And 20 yards of lovely, silky(ish) fiberglass cloth to be cut into boat-sized pieces.

The above photo and the briefness of this post should make it obvious where I’ll be spending most of my day.  I shall return once this task is complete, somewhat itchier but more focused.

Me? Strange?

After reading yesterday’s post, my dad called and informed me, “Now everyone is going to think you’re strange.”

I would have figured anyone reading my blog would have reached that conclusion long ago.  I wouldn’t say ‘strange’ so much as ‘different’. Okay, maybe strange works just as well. I have a dark streak, a warped sense of humor, and a skewed way of looking at things. Personally, I don’t think that makes me a bad person, though I’m sure there are a few people out there who might hold differing opinions. Oh, yeah, and I don’t give a damn what people think of me. Including the many strangers I held up when I parked my car sideways in the middle of a busy road in Paramus the other day, blocking traffic in both directions so I could herd a garbage-lid sized snapping turtle safely through the traffic he’d happily wandered directly into. A massive snapping turtle is a creature to be reckoned with, and he ambled along with that attitude, but I suspect if it came down to turtle vs inattentive Escalade driver, the Caddy would have won. So yes, that was me, standing in the road just clear of any retaliatory snaps as I waved my arms and shouted “Get out of the road!” while my fellow drivers, unable to pass, likely were yelling the same at me. And more, I suspect.

Yeah, I might be strange, but I’m perfectly happy that way.

My kind of day…

It’s a lovely Monday, grey, foreboding and overcast, with wave after wave of thunderstorms rolling through. My kind of day.

No, that’s not sarcasm. It might sound strange, but I’m not a big fan of daylight. I prefer whatever subdues the sun’s glare, be it the night or a thick, ominous blanket of clouds. At night, shadows wash over everything, obscuring details, blending and softening the world’s harsh edges. Everything grows quiet in those early hours before dawn, when most night-owls have finally turned in and the early risers are yet to venture forth. The darkness is energizing. There’s virtually no one out and about, and it’s a great time to recharge, to really think, without distraction or interruption. I can walk the darkened streets without encountering a single soul. Only a rare, intermittent car passes and I step back, unseen as my dark attire blends with the roadside shadows. I can be invisible.

Rain has a similar effect. It keeps people indoors, and if they do venture out, it’s with heads ducked down as they dodge puddles and scurry from one doorway to another, or hunch beneath umbrellas and hoods. People pay less mind to those around them. Sunny summer days, on the other hand, draw most people out. They raise their faces to the sun’s warmth, they look around…they interact. And for a textbook introvert like myself, someone who for the most part avoids interaction and cherishes solitude, sunny days can be downright exhausting.

If any of this sounds reminiscent of a certain character in my stories, there’s good reason. Many of our characters draw upon pieces of who we are. Left to my own devices, I likely would have shifted to a nocturnal schedule years ago. I could turn this into a discussion regarding the nuances of an introverted personality, but there are already plenty of excellent discussions on that topic, such as this one. It suffices to say, a nice stormy day like today is my idea of perfect.

Please stand by…

I’d meant to post something yesterday and today, but things got hectic. I did, however, post to Write on the Water yesterday, so for anyone who missed it, here’s How did you guess?

It’s the weekend, which means another round of limited internet access and itchy fiberglass/epoxy fun. With luck, by Monday I’ll have some interesting pictures to post and the interior structure of the cabin will be complete at long last.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

Once this burns off, we’re in for a hazy, hot, icky, sticky day.

You’ll all forgive me but with far too busy of a schedule today, I’m reposting a previous post from Write on the Water. I was discussing this very topic with a friend only yesterday, how, as the thermometer climbs to unpleasant heights, more than anything, I’d love to take a nice, refreshing dive into the Hudson.Yes, the Hudson River.

I know. People hear ‘Hudson River’ and they immediately imagine a stew of sewage and toxic waste, with mobster disposals, tires and God only knows what else floating in on the tide. But thanks to the efforts of the kind folks at Clearwater and Riverkeeper, along with countless other grass-roots environmental groups, the Hudson is a vibrant and healthy river, alive with blue crabs, record-setting striped bass, sturgeon, eels, and even sharks. During the winter it’s not unusual to see seals frolicking and basking on the vacant docks while bald eagles nest on the cliffs, osprey plunge down for fish, cormorants crowd the rocks and night herons patrol the shores. Occasionally deer decide the grass is greener on the other bank and you’ll see them swimming across. Foxes and coyotes are not uncommon, and Bear Mountain lives up to its name. But those unfamiliar with the area look at the brownish water, murky with natural silt in the same way as the Mississippi, and assume the coloration equals pollution. But I’ve long known, it’s some of the best swimming water you could imagine.

We have cool prehistoric fish!
Photo from Hudsonriverkeeper Blog

Bear swimming at Bear Mountain – Image from

First off, that silty water has many wonderful qualities. For one, it holds warmth, so the water reaches a pleasant bath-like temperature much earlier than the Atlantic, and retains it well into fall. It’s brackish, not quite as harsh as pure salt water, but still retains those wonderful buoyancy-enhancing abilities. And that silt seems to have a ‘clay bath’ quality; a nice soak in the river leaves skin feeling soft and rejuvenated. After a lifetime of swimming in that opaque water, I’ll admit I’m almost suspicious of any water I can’t see. But I still get odd looks from those who don’t ‘get it.’ I still recall the time a transient boater at our boatyard, heading up the brown river, regarded my daughter and I in horror when they discovered we’d actually been swimming. I told them we’d both been swimming in the Hudson for our entire lives with no ill effects, though they regarded us strangely and looked far convinced. It wasn’t until later that I realized why they might have been a bit skeptical. My daughter was in her teens, at a point where she had been dying her hair a lovely shade of vivid blue, and I even sported a few cobalt streaks for fun. We still laugh about that.

But the funniest ‘swimming in the Hudson’ story will always be the ‘dead baby’. Trust me, it’s not as bad as it sounds, in fact it has gone on to be a family joke. Just stay with me on this one — I can assure you no infants were harmed in any way. We had dropped the hook at Croton Point, one of the most popular anchorages in the area, and we had some guests aboard. It took some coaxing to convince them the water was indeed safe for swimming – they were certain it lived up to every horror story they’d ever heard. Finally they went below, changed into swim suits, then proceeded tentatively to the swim platform… and that’s when the screams of horror erupted. One of our guests was incoherent, she couldn’t even relay what had set her off, it was so unspeakable. But her companion pointed overboard to the oblong ten pound shape, clothed in sodden white fabric and gently bobbing, half submerged, a few feet astern of the boat. “Dead baby…” he stammered, clasping the transom to steady himself. “There’s a dead baby in the water!” At which point, my entire family began laughing.

Yes, I come from a warped background. Shocking, I know. But we’re not *that* bad! (Okay, maybe we are, but let’s stay on topic.) We reassured our guests it wasn’t a deceased infant floating on the tide – it was dessert. Let me rephrase that – it was a watermelon. With limited room in the icebox and no air conditioning aboard, we’d found the best way to keep the watermelon fresh and chilled (or at least somewhat cooler) was to place it in a laundry bag, secured by line to the boat, and float it in the river while at anchor. We’d done it for years, and never once thought about how it might appear to someone unfamiliar with the process. But from that day forward, that ritual was referred to as ‘floating the dead baby.’