Sunday, November 29, 2015

A grand Thanksgiving

Frances began what amounted to a very long day of cooking by producing what very well might be the best apple pie on the planet. And, she was just warming up.

She followed that with a 10 lb. turkey that was cooked to perfection and contained stuffing that Bill would be very happily eat all by itself.

 Producing a feast of this size is a lot of work, as everyone probably knows. Frances takes the holidays very seriously and plans every ingredient carefully. Our refrigerator begins filling up several days in advance and this year, we had to move our bread to our enclosed front porch which probably surprised the post man but made a fine storage place.

The apple pie came first and once again, it seemed as though she could put it together blindfolded.

Once the pie was out of the oven, it was time to start on the turkey. Bill actually helped this year, his job being to hold the turkey open while Frances packed in the stuffing. It was - and continues to be as we write this - a perfect Thanksgiving dinner that we will continue to enjoy until the last few bits are gone.

The table was set - with candles - and that made a perfect place to enjoy our dinner.

Once again this year, we set up a cam and let Frances narrate as she put this wonderful dinner together. If you know us, you'll probably enjoy F.H. at her best, doing something she loves to do.

  Working off some of that food
Bill's back has slowly been getting better and on Thanksgiving day, it looked like the right time to get outside and do some real work for a change. No, not on the boat, but on the old Ariens Snowblower.

This thing is probably 40 years old and rather than expect it to work after after not being used for eight months, it made sense to give it some preventative maintenance and adjust the skids so the blades weren't scraping the sidewalk.

 Time to order some new skids, if we can find them, but for now, we were able to make the right height adjustment.  Once done with that, we fired up the engine and it ran perfectly. It also felt good to be outside and do something that required a little knuckle-busting for a change.

We have some fun and learn about goats
On Sunday of this holiday weekend, we followed a clipping from the Hartford Courant and visited Beltane Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut to attend a cheese tasting. That would be goat cheese, by the way.

First of all, Lebanon is really Connecticut farm country and the drive there was beautiful.  Once we arrived, we toured the goat-milking area, learned about how goats are raised and what goes into making some really great cheese. It turns out that goats are really friendly, make great pets if they are raised properly and are as cute as hell up close.

Here's Frances getting to know one of the older residents.

Beltane Farm is really worth visiting if you like great cheese and people who respect animals and the land we all live on.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pump'in the pink stuff

If you have a boat with a fresh water system and you live in New England, it's always nice to see the pink antifreeze filling all the pipes and fittings before the weather gets really cold.

On Saturday, that's what we did even though the temperature outside was in the high 50s. This is always a tedious process since we have to make sure that antifreeze is everywhere, including the shower sump, the water heater, the head and holding tank and even the air conditioning.

So, we pissed away another 10 gallons of the pink stuff and now we're ready for winter.

Frances did the heavy lifting since Bill's back still isn't quite up to it. Bill's back is much better but Frances decreed that for that healing to continue, she'd take charge of anything that weighed more than five pounds. And she did.

We also took a few more things off of the boat, put away lines and fenders and generally made things ship shape.

The docks at the boat yard were almost empty and that's good because the place is full of winter storage boats once again. There was lots of activity among the boat owners with most doing the same thing that we were.

The old girl is back in her accustomed spot between our old neighbors. We have a list of things to do over the winter but thankfully, no heavy engine work.

Looking back at the summer's log book
It's always interesting to see how far we traveled and what all that cost. No complaints from us; We used the boat for five months as our summer cottage and if we never moved it at all, that would still be fine.

For Summer, 2015, we traveled 228.3 miles and used 364 gallons of gas at a cost of $1,217. We ran the engines for 31.4 hours and over the entire May-to-November season, averaged just 7.3 miles per hour.

Costs not shown in the log book include kitty litter for Pooka, the boat cat, who had a wonderful summer basking in the sun and looking at birds he couldn't catch and of course, some Vodka for Bill. 

We're looking forward to doing it all again, next summer.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The reality of autumn sets in

The boat came out of the water this week and we went down on Saturday to check things out and see just how much more stuff we'll take off before it's time to start loading it back on again

It was cold and the wind in the boatyard was blowing up little dirt devils everywhere.  We put away the docklines and generally made things shipshape. Frances collected lots of things she wanted to take home. We still have to winterize the water lines and we'll get to that shortly.

Meanwhile, at home, the maple trees finally gave up the last of their leaves. Most of our neighbors had raked all of their leaves to the curb for the city pick up, which they did earlier last week We've learned to take it slow when it comes to leaves because many of those leaves in our yard will blow away, leaving us with fewer to rake. We also know that the city will return in a week or so and pick up everything remaining. It's one of the few real benefits we get from Hartford's high mill rate.

As you can see from the picture  above, We began hauling our leaves out to the curb on a tarp. That always works for us and, if there are a few leaves left, they can wait until spring when we'll mulch them with the mower.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Taking stuff off of the boat

 To those of us who keep a boat in Portland, "Top Dog" is a familiar sight. Parked right there on Route 66 from spring to late fall, this local couple with their beautiful Checker cab and hot dog trailer feed lots of locals and passing truck drivers every day. If you could look inside the cab, you'd see an elegantly dressed female manikin sitting in the back seat.

As we arrived on Saturday, the Top Dog crew was closing the awning and getting ready to quit for the season. I guess we got the hint.

 Taking the last few things off of the boat
It's never fun but it has to be done. The docks at Portland Riverside aren't as steady as the ones we're used to in Norwich, so it's pretty much a one man job.

 There wasn't much, really. Just four or five trips up to the car to get the last of the things off that might freeze. After a week of temperatures in the 70s, Saturday provided a cold wind which didn't make this chore any fun.

Next stop for the boat: haul out, power wash the bottom and then into the shed.

Removing the "string of pearls"
On Sunday, we drove back down to Norwich to retrieve the black fenders that we keep between the dock and hull of the boat. Unlike past years, they were partially encrusted with small shells and we scraped most of them off before loading them into the car. It was a nice bright day and we were in high spirits to have this job behind us. Of course, we had to do a little shopping on the way home.

We shot some video of our weekend and in this chapter, Frances makes her debut as narrator for part of it.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Walking Wounded

Saturday was the day to winterize the boat engines and we accomplished that in a few more hours than we remembered.

A few weeks ago, Bill tried to pick up a large air conditioner and in so doing, did some damage to his back. With some rest (and no heavy lifting) it really felt a lot better, better enough to tackle to winterizing of the two engines. That was a mistake. We left at the end of the day really hurting but the engines were fully protected.

Luckily, it was a really nice day and the engines sucked up the needed antifreeze. It was nice to see them both run so easily as they warned up.

After the engines were nice and warm and we had the oil filters changed, we hauled out the old oil extractor and pulled out the old oil in just a few minutes.

What remains to be done now is to winterize the boat's fresh water system. That shouldn't require much heavy lifting so between now and next weekend, we'll take it easy and see if we're up to it.

Anyhow, you know we'll get this done.