Monday, November 27, 2006


I have been especially thankful these past few weeks to have a studio onshore, where I can spread out painting materials, and leave them spread out from one day to the next. There has been time and space to finish a few paintings begun while traveling - like this one from Colorado. Time and space - the greatest of luxuries.
We are both thankful for the rich experience of Eagle Harbor in November. Stormwatching, visits with Seattle friends, lots of movies and videos and books. Maybe the penultimate November experience was coming home from the movies in the snow last night. Rural Bainbridge Island was a winter wonderland, and the only tracks in the snow on the dock were those of a Great Blue Heron.
We must admit we are both also thankful that we leave at the end of this week for several months in Mexico, where we will study spanish and enjoy warmer weather.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Winter Storms, Summer Calm

When traveling on the boat during the summer, we pay close attention to weather forecasts and barometer readings. In past winters, on land in the city, we tended to be more cavalier, going about our business with little concern for the weather.
But not this year. Since we are living on the boat, the barometer is front and center, and it has given us a new appreciation for the power of winter storms. Until this month, we have never noted readings lower 1000 mb in our logbook; now we have seen readings as low as 960 mb. We are also seeing the barometer’s “tippy boat” symbol (shown above) pop up often. This appears when the barometric pressure changes more than 4 millibars in 3 hours, and we have only seen it twice in the past three summers of sailing. Over the past few November weeks, as half a dozen strong storms have rolled through the Seattle region, the tippy boat has popped up repeatedly. The wind rocks the boat at the dock, and we can see waves crashing on the point that marks the harbor entrance.
We have a new found appreciation of just how benign the Pacific Northwest weather is in the summer, and how different the weather patterns are in the winter months.

Monday, November 13, 2006

McNabb's Ferry

Eagle Harbor:
One of the views from our current moorage is this old ferry, The Olympia, now retired from the Washington State Ferry fleet, and gracing the outer dock of the marina. The ferry belongs to McNabb, our landlord, and over the years it has developed an interesting patina of rust and salt and a poinant sense of faded glory. When we were first tied up here, I found it a bit depressing. But familiarity drew me to the curve, the colors, and the odd features that only appear on car ferries. It begged to be painted.
The weather has also favored painting from inside the boat. Storm after storm has passed through. We've taken to reading the weather forecaster's discussion, which is posted on the NOAA website. Yesterday, the forecaster on duty predicted that today would be very stormy, but Tuesday would be dry. New paragraph, which began with the word "Alas": "Alas, another major storm will approach on Wednesday. The boat feels like an ark, bobbing around on the water and - so far - impervious to leaks.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rain, Condensation, and Fruit Flies

Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, WA
After venting my frustration with paucity of artifacts in southwestern national parks, I found some great photographs on the national parks website. Here is my favorite of Anasazi pottery from Mesa Verde.
We got back to Portland last Wednesday, and by Thursday morning it had begun to rain steadily. It rained through a weekend visit to the Oregon coast, and as we drove north to return to our winter moorage near Seattle. It rained all of Sunday and Monday, bringing widespread flooding to coastal Washington. Today, Tuesday it stopped raining, the sky has cleared, the temperature has dropped, and we can see the moon (see also the phase of the moon on the righthand sidebar).
This sudden drop in temperature and some energetic onboard cooking have precipitated (a pun) the worst condensation we have ever seen inside the boat. Every porthole, hatch, and window are weeping moisture, and the above water surfaces that are close to the hull are visibly damp. This must be one of the realities of living onboard in the winter months.
A second odd on-board problem is fruit flies. We left the boat at the beginning of October as pristine as we could, but somehow the tiny critters have been breeding for a full month. We humans have become possessed, as we constantly are swatting and batting at the fruit flies.
So here we are in Eagle Harbor living on the boat in the winter, mopping up drips and swinging at fruit flies. And looking at the moon. Loony?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Geography of Family and Friends

There is lots to recommend a geography based on family and friends. Last weekend, we were in Santa Fe, where we hung out with my sister and brother-in-law, and my neice and her husband. This weekend we are on the Oregon coast with old friends observing an annual celebration of November birthdays.
This geography isn't big on cardinal directions or maps to scale. It's like a diagram of warm, pulsing dots connected by skinny little lines.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Over the past week we have made a loop around Four Corners, visiting Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah. In between visits with family and friends, we traveled to three renowned sites of prehistoric Indian habitation: Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon, and Canyon de Chelly. The physical ruins are compelling in all three places: Mesa Verde especially because of the precipitous cliffside location of the ruins; Chaco Canyon because of the number and size of the various ruins and the long period of habitation they represent; and Canyon de Chelly because of he beauty of the canyon and the still present agriculture next to the ruins.
We were awed by the stonework and the petroglyphs, but frustrated by the small museums in each location. Only at Mesa Verde is there much Anasazi pottery or other artifacts on display. Each museum boasts its own disclaimer that its exhibits are out of date and require revision. Recently, archeologists and anthropologists have come to believe that the people who inhabited these sites – collectively referred to as the Anasazi – did not just disappear, as previously thought, but migrated east and south to settle in pueblo communities in Arizona and New Mexico, eventually becoming the Hopi, the Zuni, and other tribal groups. With this change in theory came the change in attitude toward archeological findings: human remains were ancestral and must be returned to the descendent tribes, and all artifacts that were found in burial sites were sacred and must not be displayed.
The ruins are starkly beautiful in their own right, their locations remote and wild. It is difficult to conjure up an image of what they were like when heavily populated. Each artifact enriches the imagination. We wish there had been more of them to see.