Anacortes Sail Boat Racing

For all the experience I have with sailboats (staying on one in the Caribbean, sailing 2200 miles to Tahiti, our family having owned one, etc.), I know surprisingly little about sailing. Yeah, if you tell me to pull the jib sheet, I know what to do. Or if you yell "Jibe Ho!", I'll duck. But if anyone looked to me for what to do, we'd find ourselves up against the rocky shore in no time.

Despite all that, I still found my way onto a boat for Wednesday night Anacortes Sail Boat Racing. The weather couldn't have been better (from my perspective. True sailors would have wanted a good bit more wind.) with a cloudless sky above and a calm sea below. We tacked and jibed our way to 3rd place and had a great time. My job started out as ballast* but was promoted to running-back stay switcher* guy once the captain got tired of me asking too many questions.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time. The whole experience (complete with BBQ at the yacht club afterward) led me to think that maybe I have boat life in me yearning to get out. Sure I don't know how to sail, occasionally get seasick, and am not inclined to perfection, preemption, or patience (all valuable inclinations in the boating world), but the spirit of it all lives within me. Here's hoping for an upcoming adventure involving boat life!*
Saturday June 6 2009File under: Anacortes

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Oats!

I'm growing oats! or at least attempting to. As part of an experiment I'm calling "Plants Grow", I've cleared a small plot on our land up in Sedro Woolley and planted oats. I'll touch more or the experiment later in the year once I have some conclusions to draw.

As for why I chose oats, I wanted to find some source of local grain to widen the offerings at this year's local food party*. Oats can be made into flour*, used in granola, and of course oatmeal and oatmeal cookies*.

Finding oat seed is not an easy task. After calling all over the county, I found one place that had some, but I had to buy an 88 lb. bag of the stuff. Since my Sedro plot only required about 3 lbs of seed, I have lots left over*. And while it only used about 1 lb. more, I planted a mini oat field here on the home front (with the help of the neighbor boy*), which will also serve as a good control group for my experiment.

Anyway, here's hoping for oats come fall!
Saturday May 30 2009File under: Anacortes, food

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A Weekend with Punksto

Punksto, superstar that she is, was good enough to grace Uma's house here in Anacortes with her presence this weekend. I don't get to spend nearly enough time with my niece, so having some good chill time was wonderful (even if she was running around like a banshee* and could barely pull herself away from playing with the neighborhood kids to humor her poor lonely uncle).

We jointly decided that since BdW adventure is rather low these days*, we'd work up a Punksto post. And since a post isn't a proper post without pictures, these are what we got: a portrait in red, putting the dollies to bed, and beach time after playing with charcoal. The real highlight, though, was her new found affinity for Valley Girl culture.


Monday May 25 2009File under: Anacortes

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Cross-Blog Babysitting Adventure

You often hear horror stories about babysitting gone wrong. "I lost the baby", "The kid #2ed all over the house", or "You're supposed to feed kids!?!?". I offer this as a counterpoint to all those horror stories.

Last night, I had the honor of watching the IHJ kids* and let me tell you, they were super stars. No crying, they ate all their brussel sprouts, they went to bed right on time with no whining, and Calvin even changed his own diaper*. That left plenty of time for such valuable play lessons as "How to throw a frisbee" and "Let's touch the sharp thing".

Not only did I have a great time and was super happy to begin to return the many favors the IHJ crew has shown me, but the experience was good mind-brain fodder at a particularly apt time. Yeah, I might even consider a career change* if I thought all kids were as good at being babysat as Jonah and Calvin.
Monday May 11 2009File under: Anacortes, misc

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Sleeping Outside Season

When the weather starts to get warm and there is a relatively small chance for overnight rain, nothing beats sleeping outside*. [Pictured here is the coveted sleeping outside spot, on the deck upstairs. Notice the view of Mt. Baker in the background, but high enough railings to block out any street lights.]

Last night was my 2009 inaugural outdoor snooze and it was awesome. Sure the birds start chirping at some ungodly hour, it gets bright well before I even consider getting up, and there's no Morning Edition to lounge and listen to, but the clear cool air makes up for it all. There is just something so primitive (in a good way) about sleeping under the stars.

Yep, sleeping outside on the deck is one of the [many] awesome parts about spending summers in Anacortes.
Tuesday April 21 2009File under: Anacortes

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Solo Kayamping

I've always respected those people who can do things by themselves. I'm not talking tie their shoes by themselves or eat a whole large pizza by themselves*. I'm thinking more about those people who get out and do stuff, not letting the lack of people who are willing and/or able stop them–whether it be checking out a new restaurant, going to the movies, or travelling.

The movies and restaurants I've conquered, although it was tough at first. My travels, while often times in practice a solo event, always have some non-solo aspect to them, usually people I'm visiting or meeting up with. It works as a nice balance, but I imagine someday I will take a truly solo trip.

Anyway, with all the respect for and thoughts of true solo travel in my head, I recently set out on a mini- solo kayamping adventure. I kayaked out to Cypress Head, a 4.3 mile paddle, in calm seas and minimal wind. With my recent camping experiences in parking lot style state and national parks, arriving at Cypress Head to find no one else around was a pleasant surprise. I hiked around a bit, collecting firewood and admiring the rare beauty of a secluded island on a gorgeous fall day in the NW. When the sun when down (at 4:30!), I started possibly one of the best fires of my firemaking career*. After 11 hours in my one man tent and a strong hike to the island's deserted airstrip in the morning, I paddled back to Anacortes.

In the grand scheme of things, this hardly ranks as a true solo adventure. But it gave me reminders of what traveling alone really means, both the good part and bad. And while I am glad to get this experience under my belt, I think for my next adventures, I will continue to seek travel partners. After all, it is so much friendlier with two.
Wednesday November 19 2008File under: Anacortes

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Vote YES for TRANSIT!

We all know that I love public transportation, right? So it only seems natural that I do what I can to help out our local public transit agency as they try to pass a proposition to raise some much needed funds through a sales tax hike.

Step 1: Put up a sign in our yard. I know 20th isn't a super busy street, but at least the neighbors can see.

Step 2: Doorbell. This morning, I went doorbelling (for the first time evar). We basically just dropped of literature and asked them to review it before they voted, so no heated debates on doorsteps. It was an interesting experience and one that I'm glad I had. How much difference it will make is yet to be seen.

Step 3: Implore friends. If you are a registered to vote in Skagit County, please vote yes on the Proposition 1 Transit*. Otherwise, I might just be calling you when they cancel the bus routes that allow me to lead my [mostly] car-less existence.
Saturday October 11 2008File under: Anacortes

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Blackberry Pickin

I like blackberries. They are perhaps my favorite fruit. My like for them comes not only from their taste (which is scrumptious), but also from their egalitarianism. They are available to anyone: no special farming required, no payment for u-picking, no secret locations*. Anyone can just walk to their nearest abandoned lot and likely find more berries than one person could possibly eat.

That's exactly what I did this weekend. The neighbors and I grabbed our bikes and a few tuperware containers and headed for the industrial area of Anacortes, the best location for abandoned lots. Deanna was on a mission to make jam while Logan and I were merely there to fill our maws to the brim. While I picked enough berries to trade for one jar of the resulting jam, I also found time to play a little version of basketball using berries as the ball and my mouth as the basket. (I contend that I am a champion tossed-food catcher. If anyone wants to challenge me, I'm in.)

Anyway, I hope to get at least one more berry picking session in this season. It is a treat that satisfies the taste buds as well as the mind. Yum!.

(Of course there is the whole issue of blackberries being a crazy invasive species and taking over almost any area it comes across, but as far as invasive species go, at least it gives something back to the community it takes so much from.)

((Then there is the song lyrics that always go through my head when out blackberry pickin': Jimmy Buffett's Life Is Just a Tire Swing. ...Blackberry pickin, eatin fried chicken/And I never knew a thing about pain'/Life was just a tire swing))
Monday September 1 2008File under: food, Anacortes

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Local Foods Party 08

This year marks the 3rd annual local foods party at casa du Wren, et al. (previous coverage: year 1 and year 2). As always, it was fun, inspiring, yummy, educational, communal, and more. This year's festivities were markedly more cozy* than previous years, partially due to improper organization on my part* and partially due to extenuating circumstances*. Nonetheless, it was a great time among friends new and old.

For a comprehensive list of the food and drink served, check out the menu. I will, however, call out a few of my highlights. Firstly, it warmed my pea-picking heart* to see that we had 3 different people include their own homemade butter in their recipes! Butter, along with salt, is always what I tell people about to help explain what this party is all about. I'm so glad the enthusiasm is spreading. (Speaking of butter, here's a picture of me making mine. Excuse the somewhat staged nature of the photo. Ma framed it to showcase her fancy new kitchen.) Along with folks getting on the butter bandwagon, I wasn't the only person to make my own salt this year. Keith's efforts put mine to shame with loads of nice clean salt. (My efforts were carbon neutral, though.)

A few great dishes that are highly worthy of calling attention to:
*Linda's zucchini/mint/[something else green] bisque served cold with goat cheese and tomatoes. In fact, I'm about to go ladle up some leftovers right now!
*Keith's dehydrated onions: as simple as it sounds but way better. Great for munching on before hand (and luckily he left us enough to keep for hikes, etc. too!)
*Goat's milk yogurt dressing: salad dressings have always been an issue in the past. This year, Ma came across local goat's milk yogurt and fashioned it into a great dressing for her summer squash salad. Then River threw together an impromptu dressing for his green salad that turned out great as well.

Yes, it was another great celebration of the season and the place we live. Thanks to all that joined in the fun. To the rest of you, I hope to see you here next year.

(Oh, and some photos from the feast: Ma's description of her dishes, the spread, the chilluns wait patiently to eat while the grown-ups goo and gaw over it all, plated goodness, post-feast mingle time.)
Thursday August 21 2008File under: food, Anacortes

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Ten Year Reunion


The 10-year high school reunion is an institution, a rite of passage, a tradition. It appears in movies and is something you have in common with everyone "of a certain age" you pass on the street (even if it is only comparing notes on why you didn't go, why you didn't hear about it, how your high school sweetheart looks so happy now, or whatever). This myth - lore, expectation, curiosity - led me to greatly look forward to my 10-year reunion. I'm pleased to say that it didn't disappoint.

While some of the cliches applied (there was a drunkard or two that made a fools of themselves, and a few people that had "swelled"*), in general, I was pleasantly surprised at so much. Lots of people showed up, way more than I was expecting (across the 3 events, I would say about half of the graduating class was represented). Most people looked really good. The conversations were much less stale than I might have thought (quickly getting the location/marriage status/job stuff exchanged and then finding a commonality; not nearly as much reminiscing as I feared). But possibly the most pleasant surprise was most people's seeming willingness to leave behind cliques, old grudges, etc. and eagerness to re-meet the people with whom we all share a common past. And while often unsaid, the openness, acceptance, and inclusion displayed signified to me an appreciation and camaraderie the stemmed from that shared experience.

My only real disappointment* was the lack of more than a few notable faces. As I pointed out in my earlier post, "the more, the merrier" couldn't be better applied than to a class reunion. Those who chose not to go made the experience that much less complete. During the showing of the senior class video* when a non-attending classmate was featured, you could hear murmurs from the crowd. Why isn't Siri here?, I wonder what Jeff is up to., or I was really hoping that Aron would be here.. Alas. While not the same, perhaps those questions will be answered at the 20-year. See you in 2018!
Sunday August 10 2008File under: Anacortes, misc

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