Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Sad Bit of Luck


Adelaide playing with the Irish Band

The low sun shown through the large windows warming the room as the local Irish band  played a few feet away. Before me lay a culinary wonder inaptly called a Stuffed Sriracha Blue Cheeseburger sided with peppered fries and barbeque sauce. Adelaide was playing her fiddle with the band; she had joined them only a few weeks prior and was thoroughly enjoying the experience of playing in a group. My mind wandered to all the happy times I had spent in one of these stuffed leather chairs gazing out these windows at the harbor watching the fishing fleet come and go. The memories could not shake me from my sadness, for this was to be my last Stuffed Sriracha Blue Cheeseburger, my last Guinness at an Irish Pub in Ketchikan. The building had been sold and Willie was being evicted, the new owner wanted to replace O'Brien's Pub and Eatery with another coffee shop. Gazing at the faces of those gathered it was apparent that I was not the only one here paying my last respects to one of Ketchikan's finest gathering spots. It left me wondering if I would ever darken these doors again.
 
Katie and Anna
So many memories this past year are tied up in this little place. Date nights when Peter and I would come to share our dreams of the future and talk of the far away places we longed to visit. Other times we'd walk in stressed from a problem that needed discussed & walk out with the solutions written on a napkin. The afternoon we took Elaine out for her birthday & Willie put on the music from Riverdance for her to dance to and everyone clapped when she finished. Or the evening we kidnapped my friend Cammy and brought her here with us. The time spent with the Bowi Band from Seattle who graciously spent time playing for the kids and including them in the show. We always left happy, thankful to have a place to spend an evening together... except today.


At least we got a glass!
Last week found us preparing for or participating in some of the many activities surrounding St. Patrick's Day... surrounding O'Briens Pub. Two years prior Willie had decided that Ketchikan needed a St. Patty's Day parade, when filling out the paper work for the parade he'd hoped that a few folks would show up and put down fifty in the blank marked "number of participants". When the day arrived he was taken back by the turnout; hundreds had shown up to help him celebrate the Irish holiday. I think one of the police officers summed it up best when he turned to Willie and said with a chuckle, "I think there is a few more than fifty people here." The parade was to start downtown and travel past the pub a few blocks to a local grocery store, but nobody made it past the pub; the parade was over where it had begun in the heart of one Willie O'Brien, he had poured his heart into this day and he had been rewarded in kind. The band played, the sun shone, and the people were happy. Yet all of that feels so distant now!

Willie with Adelaide and Molly
Staring at the cars passing out front my mind had so many unanswered questions: would there even be a St. Patty's Day parade next year? What would really be the point of having one with no Irish Pub to end at? Why did the new owner honestly think we needed another same old same old when he had a successful business already in place he could have just renewed a lease with? Where were Peter and I going to go now for dates? The Irish band had finished and Adelaide was putting away her violin; it was time to go. Adelaide and I hugged Willie and thanked him for all the good times and made our way to the door. Looking back as we left I knew that I would probably never sit in one of my favorite chairs again, even if the new restaurant was to keep them.

Good bye O'Brien's Pub and Eatery 2012-2014

                                                     

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Tea Time Tradition

I am terrible about collecting what is not necessary (or useful) on our boat, most especially since we've been in one location for about 2 years. Vintage kitchen items, colorful fabric, and old teacups & saucers that I will sneak past Peter to stash in odd corners. We've begun the exodus of all the superfluous stuff now so that we'll have the summer to work on the boat in preparation of leaving this fall. While I can let kitchen items go back to the thrift store and try to use as much of the extra fabric in projects before giving it away... the tea cups, well those hold a memory to strong to give up.

My Stash!

Today would have been Peter's Grandma's 99th birthday. An adventurous woman who began married life in a remodeled chicken coop, later lived summers in Southeast Alaska on a small cabin cruiser with Grandpa & their 5 kids and once bought a house with a hazelnut orchard while Grandpa was out sailing the Pacific. (She also bought the property, on which they gave us a part to build the house, again while grandpa was out on the ocean.)

The path to Grandpa & Grandma's house

She had a china hutch that not only had sets of china tea service but many individual ones that she would let us pick from to have tea with her. The sets she collected to give her granddaughters, even I received one.
Grandpa pushing little Annika on the porch swing
Once we moved onto the property, beginning to build the house it wasn't long before a path was worn between our places. Grandma was always available to sit and have a cup a tea. We both loved fabric, old quilts, vintage books, canning & preserving, baking and all those other homesteading related activities. Grandpa usually kept the kiddos busy reading them stories, looking at his photo album, pushing them out on the swing he'd hung on the porch or watching steam train documentaries. The hours spent with them rich, now beyond price since Grandma is no longer here.
 
So all the tea cups I've gathered from the thrift shops will stay for now, to be used or given to others we may meet to create special times and memories.

Grandma playing the piano with Addy watching

The following poem I wrote in 2002 while living in their small travel trailer while we framed & dried in the house on the acreage they gave us.

Tea Time at Grandma's

Tea time at Grandma's
what a special treat!
Each of us young ones
finding some little sweet.

The kettle is singing,
once we walk through the door.
Grandma is preparing
to seat us all four.

With delicate tea cups
and a tea pot to match,
She serves fragrant tea, and chocolates
from her own cupboard stash.

We talk of their old times,
our future, their past,
Each memory a story,
and stories will last.

From gardens and herbs,
and birds with their seed,
We talk through the subjects
with growing speed.

There's plenty to say
as we all gather 'round,
Until in the den
we hear an odd sound.

Which child is it,
that found Grandpa's toys?
The one in the dress
or the curious boy?

Next to the piano
we each choose a song,
Grandma to play
with the harmonicas strong.

Both children are sleepy,
time to head for the farm,
Daddy with one child,
the other Grandpa's arms.

How grateful we are
for these sweet hours shared,
Tea time at Grandma's
with grandparents who've cared.

Grandma, Katie, Addy, Grandpa, Annika, Caleb

If you were to ask us if we had any regrets about leaving land to live on a boat we would tell you we have one: Grandpa. He still lives in the house across from the one we sold where children no longer run down to see him. Poor financial choices on our part made it so that selling was our only option out. Maybe if we'd saved from the beginning, never taking out a mortgage, after he was gone we might have sold to fulfil the dream to sail, but not before... no, definitely not before!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Burns Night Supper

Welcome to Burns Night

As the sun heads south for the winter and Ketchikan is left in relative darkness. The community awakens from the summer madness to entertain themselves with a myriad of events and productions. It is really quite amazing what a small town nestled on a rock in the middle of nowhere can put together to stave off the winter blues. There are a variety of concerts, parties, fashion shows, and every holiday that is a holiday or not gets some recognition as a means to celebrate.

Playing Scotland the Brave
I am a lover of poetry and have a collection of several old books from which I like to read. Unfortunately I am of the persuasion that poetry should be enjoyable; Robby Burns most often used a strong Scottish brogue in his works that I found hard to follow, so I didn't spend much time on perusing his poetry. One gem I did find was this bit of prose he wrote on the Bible leaf of a young lady at church one Sunday. He thought she was taking to heart to much of the fire and brimstone qualities of the sermon:
  
 Far maid, you need not take the hint,
      Nor idle text pursue;
   'Twas guilty sinners that he meant,
      Not angles such as you.

Adelaide fiddling

So when my girls' highland dancing teacher told me that they would be performing at the local Burns night supper and that I and Molly should come, I wasn't too excited...  well I should have been! It turned out to be one of the highlights of this winter and will be a fond memory for years to come.

The Highland Fling

Highland Pirate?

It was an evening of music and laughter, dancing and food. Adelaide played her fiddle with the Celtic band and all of the girls danced the highland fling. There were the pipers (I did discover that bag pipes were meant for the outdoors and hearing loss can occur when listened to them indoors) and the sword dance. The haggis was presented with much ado and the accompanying meal was fabulous. While I was a bit hesitant to try haggis I put on a brave face for the kids and dug in, and will never turn down the offer of haggis again; it was great! As the meal was coming to an end the poetry began and when it is recited with the proper accent and by a man in a kilt it takes on a life of it's own and though I could not understand everything that was said I enjoyed it immensely!


On the cab ride back to the boat Molly turned to me and said, "You know I think we should celebrate Burns night where ever we go." For something that I had no interest in a week before I couldn't think of a better thing to do in the years to come no matter where on earth the day finds us.

Bringing out the haggis

So, mark your calendar for January 25! If you are anywhere near us be sure to swing by as we recite Address to a Haggis before digging in!


Friday, February 14, 2014

New Videos!

We have finished a couple of new videos; you can find them on the side bar if interested. We will try and get a blog post out soon now that the videos are done. Please feel free to give us feed back on the videos we would like to improve them as we learn.

Thank you,

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Naha Bay


Lines. They aren't what really keep your boat from leaving the dock. No... it is ourselves with excuses, schedules, activities, worries, fears... and just being plain lazy.  ~ Molly

Sunshine ahead!
Since arriving here in Ketchikan life it seems has conspired against us to keep Nadejda secured to the dock.
Sure there were the desperate runs to the fuel dock for more heating fuel to stay warm through the long winters, but those were few and not particularly enjoyable or scenic.

I started work two days after arriving in Ketchikan and kept a busy schedule through out the first summer leaving no time for exploration. Then came the first winter when making a singular trip to refuel uncovered that for some reason our trusty old Detroit Diesel wasn't developing any power. Spring had me employed again and stripping the engine down to the block; I cleaned and went through all the miscellaneous engine parts preparing to go south in the fall. In my usual fashion I was pressed for time in reassembling the engine just to find out that we had a bigger problem! The Detroit was determined we wouldn't be leaving Ketchikan and instead I would be disassembling the engine further than before to rebuild the cylinder head. That is all behind us now and the long stay at the dock found us with a different problem...  We we comfortable where we were!
Ketchikan astern!


I knew that we had to break the dependency of perceived comfort and leave even if for only a few days. The weather was clearing and I had wanted to visit Naha Bay, a small dock attached to shore about 25nm north and east of us. The morning we were to depart broke cold and foggy with both Molly and I feeling as we were coming down with something. We lay in our bunk trying to come up with a reason to stay. The next day was Monday and Monday meant
Clover Pass 
swimming for the kids so I decided to put going or staying to a vote hoping they would chose swimming; they unanimously voted to leave!!

After some last minute preparations we started the engine, cast off the lines and disappeared into a wall of fog called the Tongass Narrows. Twenty minutes passed watching the radar and sounding the underway signal horn before the fog broke to a beautiful clear sky ahead and grey fog behind. The children decided right there and then that Ketchikan must be cursed as everywhere around it was bathed in sun while it was covered in gloom. We made our way north around the island through quiet passes and picturesque scenery.

Gabe and Michael enjoying the scenery.
We ended up spending three days in Naha Bay before making our way back to the dock. It was three days of peace and tranquillity, of realization that we did not start this life to have a permanent slip in a marina and live out our lives on a floating home. We started all this to see new places and not always be comfortable but to always be free.






Nadejda moored at Naha Bay dock.
First sunrise at Naha Bay.
Trail map at trailhead
The neglected beginning to the dilapidated trail.
Stairs along the trail.
Part of the trails board walk
Kids playing at the Orton Ranch
Trumpeter Swan sign at lagoon.
Trumpeter Swan takes flight.
Trumpeter swan.
Being watched!
Stairs through the rain forest.
Gabe relaxing on moss covered stump.
The lagoon was like a mirror.
Trail through the moss.
The girls kayak to the lone island in the lagoon.
Bench Mark Survey from 1930.
Out flow from the lagoon.
Foam from the rapids.
The foam filled the bay.
Leaving Naha Bay.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Making Paper Disappear... A Digital Recipe File

We have way to much "stuff" on our boat. I am one of the biggest culprits too with my library of cookbooks, recipe file and baking pans. I won't include my sewing and fabric collection stashed in various locations at this point as I want to share how excited I am about turning a portion of my galley digital. (Maybe the exodus of paper will help justify my crafty habit...)

The local library started me down this road with access to check out ebooks. I discovered a couple cookbooks available and scrolling through them found it wasn't that bad and took so much less room... imagine how less cluttered my galley would be! It even takes less space on the counter, and about half of my cookbooks are available in Kindle editions.

Some of the clutter that is now gone!
Looking online for an app to put on the Kindle to store my recipe cards I came across this free one by PepperPlate. I wasn't opposed to purchasing one but all I could find required a yearly renewal; I'm trying to stay away from those darn bills. After signing up on their website I began storing recipes with just one click! Most of my recipes are from Taste of Home 10 years ago and are all online now! My how the world has changed! Some recipes I had to copy & paste in as they weren't in their supported site list. That's still way easier than having to type the entire recipe in, which I'll have to do with a handful of passed down family recipes. I even have the option of naming the categories to find them quicker.  The other cool part is that when the Kindle dies it's all stored on the website so the recipes won't ever be truly gone.

It's at least a start to downsize & declutter the boat... definately five stars to the designers of PepperPlate!