Welcome March

It’s almost here, and I hope it comes in like a lamb!  We just got word from our oil company that we are dangerously low on oil and that the truck cannot get in our driveway due to the closed gate.  No one can get that gate open when there is so much snow piled up on either side of it!

There is not much to report here.  The weather window for heading out of Florida has closed so nobody is leaving which means we are still anchored back in the mangrove swamps.  The herons and egrets and pelicans have good hunting back here and are wonderful to watch.  It seems that everytime they strike at something in the water they are swallowing a tasty morsel.  The juvenile eagle ray swims by Pandora at some point every day.  I think he must also find good feeding back here.

Our older son Rob came for a visit this week after having some business in Miami.  It was wonderful to see him!  We spent a day together in Key West, using his rental car for the trip.  As you know there is only one road that runs down the Keys, US 1, and that road has only one lane in each direction.  Much of it is causeway going over water.  When there is an accident it pretty much closes down the ability to move in any direction.  If you are stuck on a causeway there is no getting off.  That is what happened to use on the trip back up to Marathon at the end of our day in Key West.  It was a bad accident and had the road closed for most of the day, so in the long run we were pretty lucky.  I’m sure lots of folks never got to their destination that day.

Here are Rob and Bob enjoying some cool refreshment on a pretty front porch in Key West, at a bar called “The Porch.”

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I have a good crop of mint growing in my window box– along with cilantro and bright red geraniums– and we used the first mint harvest to make mojitos!  Yum!

It was quite hard to say goodbye to Rob, not knowing when we will see him next…. and quite hard to learn the news that Chris has decided to move to San Francisco temporarily in order to make some connections out West for his banking start up.  This vagabond life is a little hard at times like this.  It’s hard enough to get enough time with my kids without also disappearing off the grid for months and months.  Sigh…

Our dinghy got damaged several weeks ago, and although Bob bought a repair kit, the fix was not to his liking.  We decided to have it re-done professionally.  Here it is going back in the water after a day at the shop.

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We had to stay ashore for the day while the repairs were done–no other way to get back to our boat.  I found a beautiful spot for us to pass some time while we waited….and have lunch as well! This lovely resort is on the other side of Marathon so we were looking out over the Gulf.  Some dolphins came near shore to entertain us during lunch.

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Today will be a quiet day onboard.  I have plans to make bread and get back to weaving!

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Serendipity

How do I account for the ‘fluther’ of Portuguese Man of War that drifted into our little mangrove creek yesterday?  It has to be serendipty.  Bob jumped in the dinghy and got lots of photos for me.  Now I have plenty of good images to draw from for my tapestry.

The poor things will die back here as they tangle with the mangrove roots.  We will have to be very careful going under the lines we have tied in the mangroves as we go to and fro in our dinghy, as well as when we leave and Bob pulls in those lines. At low tide the lines droop down in the water, so there is a good chance the lines have poison on them and can sting Bob’s hands when he pulls them back aboard in preparation for leaving. We’ve put dishwashing gloves on our provisioning list.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe water is a very weird color back here in the mangroves–a milky green.  We think that it’s caused by something the mangroves themselves produce and leech into the water, but we have no certain knowledge about this!

What I do have certain knowledge about is the collective word for jelly fish: fluther! A fluther of Portuguese Man of War.  I love collective nouns; they are so evocative.  A ‘murder’ of crows is one of my favorites.  A “bloat” of hippopotamuses, a  ”kindle” of kittens, a “parliament” of rooks. Last night when I went searching for a collective word for jelly fish, I found that a ‘gaggle’ of geese is for geese on the ground.  When they are flying they are called a ‘skein’ of geese.  I love that! Ducks also fly in a skein.

Just now Bob called me up on deck to see a small spotted Eagle ray– a juvenile.  Isn’t he beautiful?

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I’ll end with a shot of Bob I took yesterday.  He was attempting to befriend a pelican.  Not successful!

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Hope and Possibility

Those are big concepts…. and words that come to mind for anyone who is at the beginning of a new project.  Excitement for the new idea and the commitment to try it jostles with the anxiety of entering the unknown and doubts about one’s ability to tackle this new idea.  In the case of weaving, and especially weaving tapestry, there is the calming process of making the warp, spacing the warp threads and weaving a header.  This process involves relaxing repetitive movements with your hands that help chase away the negative doubts and worries.  If you are very lucky–and I am!– you are holding a bobbin made by John Moss, a beautiful tool that you know was made with great care and precision and feels good in your hand.

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I am trying a continuous warp this time, where I have all the warps on both front and back of my copper pipe loom and will advance the warp around the loom as I progress.  Normally I make a continuous warp that has half the warp on the front of the loom and half on the back and I bring the two together with a shedding bar.  Making a warp the way I have this time allows me to weave something twice as long as my small loom.  The downside is that when I advance the warp around the loom I will have to be very careful about keeping things straight!  I have been meaning to face this fear for years!  I also have to keep the back warps from distracting me so I have inserted a card so I will only see the front warps!

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There is just nothing so soothing as the look of a brand new warp.  There is no other time in life when things are so neat and tidy and every warp thread is perfectly parallel with its neighbor, with even tension across the whole surface.  Life is certainly never as even as a warp!

Several weeks ago I made an acquaintance with a tapestry weaver from the Baltimore area, Ann Booth, whose works I’ve enjoyed seeing online.  I’m using up a data this year keeping myself inspired by looking at artworks online and staying in communication with other weavers.  Next year Ann and her husband may be out here sailing down the coast and across to the Bahamas.  I hope our paths will cross.  Perhaps we can even weave together!

When I mentioned that I had only met one other weaver during our three years of cruising (and that woman, a Canadian, had left her looms behind and brought only knitting along for her trip), Ann introduced me to Doris Florig, who is currently living on her sailboat in Guatemala.  Doris is such an inspiration!  She reminds me of the enthusisam and quest for knowledge of my younger self, when I was so intrigued by learning everything from the ground up: spinning my own yarn, dyeing, weaving cloth.  It was in my young adulthood that I learned these techniques.  Somewhere along the way I have lost the wonder of these things.  I still spin and dye and weave, but over time that original awe and wonder has left me.  Doris is still cultivating and nurturing that spirit of adventure.  The main saloon–or cabin– of her boat is not very different from my own on Pandora, and she has set up a large tapestry loom in that space.  Wow!

I can tell Bob is worried I’ll want a set up like this soon!

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We sailed from Miami to Marathon, with a one-night stop at Rodriguez Key near Key Largo, over the past couple of days.  The wind has been extreme but mostly at our back which is far better than sailing into the wind.  It was a hard couple of days for me since I get seasick easily, but even Bob found the long days hard going.  He has to do all the hard work by himself.

We are now in Marathon, and it is the most crowded harbor I have ever seen in the US!  You’d think every boat from the US and Canada is here.  There are no moorings available for rent, which is no surprise.  We are #32 on the waiting list for a mooring, and I thought that would mean we had small hope of getting one before June, at least! The bigger surprise was that there is no room to anchor in the harbor.  We arrived late in the afternoon, not long before sunset and I was quite worried when I saw how crowded things are.

Here’s a layout of all the moorings, now full.  All additional space is taken up with boats on their own anchors.  Sheesh!

We motored up into a creek off the harbor that leads into a mangrove swamp.  There were already about a dozen boats up there “Med-moored”–short for Mediterranean moored– to the mangroves.  This is a technique where you put down your anchor in the middle of the creek and then back the stern of your boat toward the mangroves and tie your stern onto the trunks of the mangroves.  The boats end up lined up next to each other like in a parking lot.  There was less room than we’d like between boats, but we managed to squeeze ourselves in.  Luckily the two boats on either side of the spot we chose were very welcoming! We barely got ourselves settled as the sun went down.

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Tied to the mangroves!

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The wind is still howling, but we’ve learned that once the wind stops there will be gazillions of no-see’ums.   I guess I hope the wind stays up! There are some cautiously optimistic weather predictions that March may come in like a lamb this year.  If the weather truly does get milder many of the boats here in Marathon will head off to the Bahamas.  We do not plan to go yet, so that may leave us room to move into the harbor. Maybe we’ll even get a mooring!  Early next week we plan to meet up with old friends who have a 2nd home down here, and our older son is planning a visit next week after he finishes a business meeting in Miami.  I am really looking forward to that!

On our first trip to shore yesterday we encountered this manatee.  Shortly later we saw a group of four floating together in one of the small canals.  Amazing creatures! The water is very green in this harbor.

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So, now that I have done all the preparations I will start weaving today.  I want to explore some ways of depicting water in cotton thread, and attempting the Portuguese Man of War that we saw in Boca a couple of weeks ago.  For those of you who have seen my past postings you know that I plan to weave a large tapestry of a Portuguese Man of War.  I’m looking forward to playing with water images today! Hopefully I will gain some insight on what I can do with the larger tapestry that is waiting for me at home.

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Domesticity Onboard

Who would imagine it could be so chilly in the Keys in mid-February?  At the end of last week Bob and I spent a few long days at the Miami Boat Show, and so I rummaged through the back cabin where I store all my ‘supplies’ to find something small to work on while ashore.  Nothing is worse than having idle hands while stuck ashore for hours and hours on end at a convention center.  So I found a ball of sock yarn and started a sock.

Now, just a few days later, I really could use a nice pair of wool socks for my frozen feet!  First one is just about done….better get craking on the second.  I just cannot get over how cold it is most days.  We left a small harbor just south of Miami Beach this morning and headed about 45 miles south to Rodriguez Key which is right near Key Largo.  Poor Bob had to stand at the wheel all day in gusty northwest winds.  Tomorrow promises to be colder, barely 60 degrees, and the wind will be considerably stronger at over 30 mph.  Try standing outside in gale force winds in the low 60s with no warm clothing and see if you don’t get hypothermia.  We surely thought by now, down in the Keys, we’d be warm!

One way to keep warm is to turn on the oven!  So a couple of mornings ago I made the King Arthur coffee cake that is on the unbleached flour package.  There is a crumb mixture made of sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and walnuts that gets sprinkled in the middle of the batter and then on top before baking.  It made the whole boat smell terrific.  I did not have walnuts so I used slivered almonds, and I put a little almond extract in the batter, but kept the vanilla in the crumb mixture.  Great recipe– It’s a keeper!IMG_0181And one evening I made a dinner that I used to make quite often–in fact decades ago–when Bob and I were in college in the 1970s.  It’s from the book The Vegetarian Epicure–who rembers that gem???  It’s called RussianVegetable Pie.  The wonder of the internet is that I don’t even own that book anymore, but I was able to find the recipe online.  I may not have the sharpest memory anymore, but the recipe looked very familiar and the finished dinner was as good as we both remembered.

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This recipe starts with pastry crust made with both butter and cream cheese.  There is a layer of cream cheese on the bottom, then a layer of hard cooked eggs.  Next you add the layer of cabbage, onions and mushrooms that were sauteed beforehand.  Place the pastry top and in the oven it goes!  If this brings back good memories of the 70s, you can find the recipe here

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Dinner is ready and the cabin is warm!  Luckily there was enough for two nights, so I got to turn on the oven again to reheat it the next evening.

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Seems that I’m on a roll of beating things to death these days.  Must be brain freeze.

Speaking of cooking onboard, since I cannot bring all the cookbooks I might want to have on hand, I have been on the lookout for years for how to have recipes onboard.  Writing or typing out my favorites to put in a notebook or recipe file was absolutely NOT a solution.  Last year I discovered an iPad app called Paprika.  You can type up your own recipes in it (but that’s not for me) or you can take recipes off the internet and store them in the app.  This way you can access recipes even when you cannot go online.  I have been collecting recipes from various magazine websites–my favorite being Cooks Illustrated– and various blogs, such as Orangette and Dishing Up the Dirt.  I even have my much loved and vintage Russian Vegetable Pie in the app.

When we arrived in Rodriguez Key this afternoon I had hoped to make my next tapestry warp, but I am stuck on how to do it.  I want to do the kind of warp that can be pulled around the loom as I progress.  I normally tie the first and last warp of a continuous warp to the bottom of my copper pipe.  If I do that I cannot make the kind of warp that can be advanced.  I am stumped!  I tried checking the internet, but had no luck with that.  Maybe I’ll remember how to do this in my sleep tonight…..or maybe one of my Wednesday Group friends will come to my aid!

So instead of warping, Bob and I took a dinghy ride in to Key Largo and as we headed in to the harbor we saw the African Queen coming out.  We were freezing but we had to take a detour and follow her so we could document the moment!

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And Now for Something Completely Different!

We’ve been in Miami for a week….hard to believe since Bob does not usually sit still that long!  While the weather has not been quite tropical, it’s a far cry more pleasant than what is going on along the East Coast farther north of here! But I can’t help thinking about this year’s winter in parts of the world where violent weather is the norm.  And that brings me to Scotland….

Various tapestry weavers in New England, along with tapestry weavers from Ireland, Australia and Denmark, are– at this very moment– sending off  small works themed “Postcards from Home” to an address in Scotland.  The tapestries will have a little tour of northern Europe, starting with a show at Northlight Studio, in Stromness in the Orkney Islands off Scotland in late March.

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Our tapestries may take a ride like this on the Stromness ferry.

Roughly a decade ago I became acquainted with Elizabeth Lovick from Stromness, and ordered a Ronaldsay fleece from her.  At the time she wasn’t certain if the fleece would ever make it to me in its unwashed state, but it did, and I had a happy few months spinning yarn for a fisherman’s gansey for our younger son Chris.

knitting Chris sweater back detail

Since then Stromness has fascinated me.  I’m intrigued that now a little piece of my work is headed over there!

Here is a video taken just a month ago on Fair Isle in the Shetlands.  This makes me appreciate that not all sheep are….well…..sheep!  These are really tough animals, not easily intimidated!–certainly not by violent weather!  Tommy Hyndman took this footage and had this to say about the weather:

Fair Isle, Shetland – January 10th, 2015 – Gale rages to hurricane level as seen about the Isle on land and sea. Peak storm levels were at night, but it was still very outrageous weather, with strong gusts of winds almost knocking me off my feet several times, especially in the north of the Isle.

Fair Isle has a population of 60 people, 1200 sheep, 20,000 puffins and a few very rare birds. Hmmm….is that ‘rare birds’ of the avian type?…I’m thinking all 60 human inhabitants cold easily be ‘rare birds.’

I’ve always said that I’d never want to go sailing off England or any of these islands in the North Atlantic, even in summer!–though certainly the rewards for such hardship would be great!

I can’t help thinking of the nonchalant manner in which the Scottish talk about weather.  Even Archie, who has hardly spent any time on the water compared to me, is a far hardier sailor than I’ll ever be, just by virtue of being Scottish!  I can hear him saying any one of the well worn phrases about weather, such as this one:  ”In Scotland there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

So when this recent article by Nigel Calder crossed my path, I had to laugh.  What timing!  Just when our little tapestries go winging across the pond to Scotland to get on a ferry boat to Stromness, one of the most respected circumnavigators has written an article about the very area.

His photos from the trip are beautiful, as you can see below, and his tale is compelling. Check it out!

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Mean Miami

What a bizarre experience to arrive in Miami by water!  The bright, almost acid green color of the shallow water in Government Cut juxtaposed with all the high rise buildings of Miami.  It looks like a computer generated set for a sci-fi movie.  I don’t think I could ever get used to it.

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 We are getting first hand experience of what we’ve been hearing about for several years: that boaters are not always welcome in Florida waters.  With year long mild weather, some boaters have become rather like vagabonds, living on derelict boats that can’t actually leave a harbor to go sailing because they have become so run down.  These boats sit at anchor in harbors for years unable to leave.  Naturally, homeowners in the various coastal towns don’t want to look out at their water views marred with old, rotting boats.

It is a dilemma because no one owns the water.  The homeowners don’t want their mega-million dollar views marred by boats that never leave, but we crusising sailors have achorage rights in any place with enough water for anchoring.  There have been some contentious moments over this situation, and we witnessed one just the other night.  At our particularly beautiful anchorage in Sunset Lake in Miami Beach, a homeowner came outside just before sunset and began yelling obscenities at a boat in the harbor.  It was hard to tell which boat he was verbally attacking!  No one was visible on the few boats anchored here in Sunset Lake except for Bob and me who were relaxing in Pandora’s cockpit!  I was very concerned that he was yelling at us, although he seemed to be looking toward a Canadian boat right next to us.  Eventually the folks onboard this Canadian boat came up from down below and it became clear that the homeowner was yelling at them.  He threatened to sink their boat numerous times, and all his threats were garnished with profanity.  It was quite uncomfortable for all of us.

Bob motored over to the Canadian boat in our dinghy to explain to them that they were not violating any rules, and that this anchorage is written up in all the guidebooks, in case the Canadians might be unclear about anchoring rights in the US.  The Canadians decided to move anyway because it had been such a distasteful experience for them.  Bob decided to call the police since the number is given in our guidebook with a warning to expect some problems with various homeowners.  The police officer who took Bob’s call said this man has caused problems in the past so he is well known to both boaters and the police.  The officer said someone would go out shortly to give the homeowner a warning.

We later heard that this same homeowner became enraged at a boat that was anchored here on Christmas Day, and that he began shooting paintballs at the boat.  Can you imagine that?  And the police were called out then too, but just gave him a warning.  I’m wondering how effective these ‘warnings’ are.

So, here in Miami there are almost no places where boaters can go ashore.  Yesterday we had to tie our dinghy to a stone wall at an empty lot under construction, and then walk along a path strewn with debris.  It made me feel quite unwanted here.  Since then we have scoped out various other options for getting ashore, and the best one looks to be a floating dock along the canal that runs next to Dade Ave.  The Publix market that is right across the street may have put in this dock, which is quite commodious.  However, when you get off the dock you find yourself on a very busy 6-lane road with no cross walk or traffic light.  Well, it’s still our best option, so that is how we’ll get ashore today.

Our lovely anchorage on Sunset Lake.

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Along North Bay Drive, where we have anchored, the houses are certainly beautiful and have stunning gardens as well. Here is one house and garden wall that we passed after getting ashore.

Just inside this gate is a courtyard where we saw a vintage Bentley parked.

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 While we were in Ft. Lauderdale, we made a new friend!  (Her parents are quite nice too!) Cricket and her family are from north of Montreal and are sailing to the Bahamas on their Nonsuch 36.  It took numerous visits for Cricket to warm up to me, but I was smitten with her  on our first meeting!   Isn’t she adorable?

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On her 3rd visit she curled up against me and I was so shocked that I was hesitant to touch her.  I figured she didn’t really mean to get this close to me!  Her ‘mom’ said she almost never gets that close to a stranger.  Eventually I put my hand down on her and began petting her, and she stayed curled up against me!  Friends at last!

In the past week I have done quite a bit of lace work, and enjoyed every minute of it.  These hearts are from a book of heart ornaments by Lene Bjorn, 24 Hearts in Bobbin Lace. After doing several projects that have taken me years to finish, and being thoroughly lost numerous times along the way, it feels great to just sit down to these hearts all by myself!.  I hope to have a small collection of these for next Christmas.  They will be wonderful ornaments on the tree.

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They are actually little baskets.  So the diagrams are for double hearts that are folded in half to create the basket, and they even have lace handles.  I’ll be making yards and yards of handles at some point!

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Well, I think I’ve beaten this subject to death!….but I couldn’t help it!  It’s thrilling to me to be doing lace without a lot of handholding!  One more…

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And my tapestry will go off on its journey sometime in the next few days.  Yesterday Bob and I headed off on a 4-mile walk to the post office in Miami Beach, only to discover when we got there that it was the Presidents’ Day holiday!  Duh!  That’s the cruising life for you….we’ll try again today, or I might have to wait ’til we get to Marathon later in the week.

I did manage to do the finishing and mounting work, never my favorite chores.  But all is well at last.  I used the half-Damascus finish from Peter Collingwood’s book, and I’ve mounted the tapestry to a small mat board that had holes punched along the edge every 1/8 inch or so.

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Please note that to weigh down my tapestry I am using our heaviest book onboard, Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook.  On any cruising boat anywhere you are likely to find a number of Nigel’s books, including this one.  He is a well known English sailor who has circumnavigated a number of times with his wife and with their children when they were younger.  I have a bit more to say about him next time!

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Chores and Other Unpleasantries

There should be no surprise that when I avoid chores as well as I have lately, they just pile up more and more.  I really love to make things and, for some reason, detest finishing things.  My little tapestry is still waiting to get the back threads trimmed and buried and have its warp ends finished in some way.  While avoiding this tedious chore I have been knitting the “For Irene”sweater.  As of this afternoon, it is now also completed and that means it also needs finishing.  Not sure which I detest more: finishing tapestries or sewing sweaters together.  Ugh.

I had one of the worst night’s sleep ever last night because of high winds blowing through our anchorage.  When the wind is blowing Pandora is much like an anxious dog.  She tends to tug as hard as she can at her anchor line, first pulling as hard to port as she can, which includes heeling over a bit.  Then she’ll pull hard to starboard and heel over there too.  Back and forth… all night.  When it gets really windy it feels like I might fall out of bed.   Who could sleep through that?

Shortly after we got up this morning a really nasty squall came through.  Our middle of the night wind was nothing compared to this.  Bob thinks the gusts probably hit around 70 mph.  We both thought we would drag our anchor right across the harbor and crash into either a mega yacht docked in any of the mega-mansion back gardens or one of the other traveling boats anchored along with us.  Other boats around us did drag rather significant distances, and we all felt lucky that no one bumped into each other.  Bob thinks we were probably a bit closer to one of the mega-mansions with mega-yacht than we had been the night before.  During the big blow there was a solid wall of horizontal water coming at us.  Poor Bob had to go out in the cockpit during this squall in order to keep vigil in case he had to deal with an emergency.  The whole storm lasted less than 30 minutes, but it was NO fun.

Afterward we saw some lawn furniture float by from one of the mega-mansions, and Bob saw what looked like the entire top of a palm tree in the water.

I have been meaning to mention that although I never did get afternoon tea at the Breakers, we did have a fun time there.  We did not find afternoon tea, but we made do with having an afternoon aperitif!  Most expensive drinks ever!  Bob had a draught beer and I had a glass of house wine, and the bill was over $30!  Still, there aren’t many places where the actual bar, where you rest your drink, is an aquarium, and right in front of you is a wall of glass for admiring the Atlantic Ocean.  Sometimes you have to pay for a view like this.

I’m pretty certain that the hotel is closer to the water’s edge than it was a decade or so ago when Bob and I stayed here for one of his business meetings.  Hmmmm….

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This year is our first visit to Boca Raton.  We have anchored in Lake Boca before, but for some reason we did not go ashore.  Now we have seen a bit of what we’ve missed!  It’s a lovely town for walking….lots to do!  Naturally I found some gardens and houses that I couldn’t resist photographing.  The mailbox seems so completely out of place at this house.

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I loved this pale lavender house with green plants and planters and the deep rust of the gate.  Great color choices!

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We also happend on a beautiful florist along our walk.  The arrangements on display would have fit right in at the Breakers.  I guess lots of people have foyers on that scale.  For Pandora I just needed a tiny arrangement.  It was hard to decide between cut hyacinths or spray roses.  Finally it was the yellow and pink that won out over pale lavender and purple hyacinths….but it wasn’t easy to decide!

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At the dinghy dock in Boca we saw a flock of very tame ibises who are used to having their photos taken.

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Most interesting of all to Bob and me was that we found a Portuguese Man of War floating between the dinghy dock and the ICW bridge.  I think it’s pretty unusual for them to come in from the ocean.  Seeing it made me wish I had my big loom onboard so I could continue to work on my PMoW idea.  Sigh….  If you look closely on the left side of the creature you can see his tentacles.  Menacing tentacles!  I love what happened with the swirling water in this photo….very painterly!

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So, now it is mid-afternoon and we have arrived in Ft. Laurderdale at the anchorage we have visited for the past three years.  It’s considerably more crowded than we’d like, and I keep thinking about squalls brewing.  It’s still quite windy and now the harbor is narrower and more crowded than Lake Boca, and I wish the wind would calm down a few notches.  Sewing my sweater together is not looking like such a bad chore now.  I think I’ll get on it.  Hopefully I’ll take photos soon!

 

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Enjoying the Palm Beaches

First, I have to admit that I have forgotten to bring a LOT of important stuff onboard this winter.  Each week I am discovering something I meant to pack.  This does not induce confidence in my aging mental capabilities.  So the most recent thing I regret not having with me is Peter Collingwood’s book Techniques of Rug Weaving.  I need it for all the finishing options for the edges of my miniature tapestries.  I don’t even know the name of the edging I wanted to use.  After a decade of Archie and Susan style finishing I have very little experience of these other techniques.

I was hoping to find some instructions for Damascus edge, half-Damascus, and Philippine edging online, and certainly a few videos on Youtube.  But I didn’t!  I found a PDF of Collingwood’s book, but when I uploaded the file I found I only had the first 120 pages of the book, not the part with the finishing techniques!

Tommye Scanlin came to my rescue within moments.  First she sent me a scan of the half-Damascus technique which is the one I am most interested in doing.  And she let me know that the whole Collingwood book is available, in 4 pieces.  I had only gotten the first section.  Whew.  I’ll be back ashore later today to visit a wifi café to get the rest of the book.  Thank you, Ralph Griswold and Univ. of Arizona for making this available!

I spent the 2nd half of yesterday enjoying downtown West Palm Beach!  What a spot!  There are some amazing choices for restaurants, so it was hard to choose just one for dinner.  There is a huge linen store full of stunning bedding and household linens.  Quite drop dead gorgeous….

The best find of all was a very large old fashioned fabric store, right in the center of the downtown area.  You don’t find that in many places these days.  It was a feast of incredible fabrics, from upholstery to fine silks for ballgowns.  Embroidered silks and linens and heavy upholstery fabrics, and aisles and aisles to walk down and swoon over endless ideas.

Here is an aisle of nautically inspired fabrics.

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The aisles were arranged by color, and I might have had the most fun in the orange aisle!

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There were two fabrics that happen to be fun weaving structures that I love.  This deflected double weave is my favorite, but I had to pass it by at $98/yd.

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I also loved this design, but I reasoned with myself that I’d have more fun weaving it myself.

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I could not pass up this incredibly happy blue onion china print on an orange ground.  This will become a large tote bag for me for spring/summer.  I could even get started on it now since Bob has his sailmaker’s sewing machine onboard.  I’d have to make peace with using sailmaker’s heavy Dacron thread, so I think I’ll wait.  I want to use the bright blue color of the onionware for thread….

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So, if you ever find yourself in West Palm Beach, check out Mac Fabrics!

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And here are some views of West Palm Beach at night.  Lovely!

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Our view of West Palm from Pandora at anchor.

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Today we will take a long walk across a bascule bridge to Palm Beach.  I will visit the famous Worth Ave and perhaps the Breakers for tea?  ….if they serve tea!  And then back across the ICW via another bridge and back to our little anchorage.

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Nomadic Winter

For years I’ve been intrigued with miniature tapestry, and clearly its a growing trend.  In Wednesday Group classes, Archie often talked about exploring how little it takes to convey the essence of something:  a face, a gesture, a mood.  Then came the biennial small format tapestry shows which I found endlessly inspiring!  So many little tapestries conveying so many varying images and ideas.  And then came tapestry diaries, an idea started by Tommye Scanlin.

Susan Martin Maffei has a body of work in miniatures as well, which I have always enjoyed.  One of her pieces, “Travel Series: NYC to Mendocino, CA,” is a long horizontal strip of tiny tapestries depicting images from the long train ride across the US.  There are wonderful subjects in these tiny works: farmland, signs from nearby highways, railroad tracks, water towers.  This long piece is a gem of how much can be conveyed in a small work. And she worked on a very small loom which she could hold in her lap on the train.

Since I’m traveling on a modest size sailboat, I also need to work with a small loom!  I often tell people that we are living small with a very large view!

With that in mind, I began the first tapestry, a small 4” x 6” with warp set at 10 ends per inch.  This is the finest tapestry warp I have, and after struggling with this piece I placed an order with Joanne Hall at Glimakra USA for some 12/6 seine twine which can bet set at 12 epi.  I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with a slightly finer sett. (I won’t bore you with how hard it is to get mail when you do not have a permanent address.)

My series will be called “Nomadic Winter 2015.”  Here is #1:  “January fog on the St. Marys River”

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I’d like to do a small landscape for each month from January through April, but right now I have another January image from the St. Marys River that I’d also like to do.  I guess I can do whatever I want since it’s my series!

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Still Not Tropical!

It’s still a bit chilly down here at the top of the Gold Coast of Florida.  Bob keeps posting photos on Facebook, saying how cold we are, and you can imagine the responses from friends living in New England!  They are NOT sympathetic!

However, we are cold!  Try living outside in 50-degree temps with near gale force winds.  There is no going inside for the day when you are under way; you simply must stand in the chilly gale in order to steer the boat and navigate.  Then after 12 – 14 hours of this you can go down below which is the same chilly temperature, but at least without wind, and try to warm up.  In the long run we get into bed each night as cold as we’ve been all day, and get up each morning still cold.  Oh!  And I should mention that at least half the days onboard there is no hot water, so I also have to wash up with 50-degree water in my tiny 50-degree head (boat-ese for bathroom).  It’s not all bliss down here!

But I admit it looks pretty blissful….Pandora on a mooring in Vero Beach….she’s the boat at center in the distance.

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But the sea life, the birds and the plants don’t seem to be suffering.  We still see dolphins playing around us every single day as if life is very good indeed!  Yesterday Bob missed the most exciting photo opportunity of this year. We were several miles offshore, sailing from Ft. Pierce to Lake Worth, and at one point we passed a giant sea turtle!  It was right near the boat! The turtle’s shell was almost 5 feet in diameter, and his head was like a cantaloupe!  Bob said he raised his head and looked right at Pandora!  I missed this auspicious moment because I was in a stugeron– induced fog due to always being seasick when we are offshore!

Such lush ivy growing on a wonderful tile.  The climate is certainly mild enough for tiles outside!

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Doesn’t this palm frond make a lovely headdress for Bob?

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 Every year Bob and I plant a window box of herbs and flowers that becomes my little garden onboard.  It’s my one little connection to life on land.  This year I could not get to my favorite nursery in Ft. Pierce, so I’ve had to make do with plants from the Lowes that was right on the bus route in Vero.  I’ve got a small mint and parsley plant and two red geraniums.  I hope they will thrive as well as the plants in previous years.  This little bit of green and red makes me so happy!

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I need to knuckle down on my little landscape tapestry.  Time is growing short if I am to finish this in time to send it off to Scotland for an exhibit of miniature tapestries called “Postcards from Home.”  First it will travel to New Hampshire where it will be boxed up with other tapestries before it goes on its journey across the Atlantic.  Doing this piece has made me realize that I’d like to do a series of miniatures based on the changing scenery we find as we head south each winter.  It will be a nomad’s view of winter along the US East Coast.  But first, I need to stop weaving/unweaving and just finish #1 of this series!  At this point I am not ready to photograph it!  It still has so much that disappoints me….hopefully soon it will be looking better.

And I’m making good progress on the Carol Sunday sweater, “For Irene.”  There was a glitch with the sleeves, but once again, Carol came to my rescue very quickly.  I had gotten an email ages ago saying there was a corrected version of the pattern available with a link .  When I followed the link and downloaded the new pattern I really couldn’t see any differences between the two, but I figured I just wasn’t looking carefully enough.  Well, it seems I have two copies of the un-corrected pattern.  Carol very nicely sent me the corrected pattern as an attachment.  It does mean that I had knitted most of a sleeve where I kept fudging the lace pattern in order to get it centered.  I have set that aside to knit the correct version and am now nearing the end.  I will then rip out the first sleeve and knit it again.  If I can just make some good progress on my little tapestry I will get this sweater done in no time!  And if it does get done soon I’ll be wearing it too!

Bob and I vacuum packed our down coats and wool sweaters about a week ago.  We regret that but haven’t yet taken the plunge to dig them out.  We did UN-vacuum seal one of our blankets though since we’ve been very cold at night after all the long hours of standing in the wind and chill each day. That means we hae 3 lightweight blankets on us at night! Anyway, I’ll be happy to have another new sweater to wear!

I’ll close with this morning’s sunrise.  I was up for it, but it was Bob who took the shot!

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