Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Trial Run

I sailed on Tuesday for the first time. The boat, a Caprice, was about 14 feet long, made in the early 1970s in Canada, blue fiberglass, with some teak wood trim. We went to Nimasilla reservoir on Portage Lakes because they do not allow gasoline engines. I would have taken pictures, but my phone got wet and malfunctioned. I'll go ahead and list some of the terms I learned.

On a boat, rope is called a line. When the line is attached or otherwise associated with a sail, it's called a sheet. There were two sheets on the jib, starboard (right side) and port (left side). We controlled the mainsail with a system of pulleys (three in all, I believe). We lowered the keel because the wind was a bit gusty. The keel was controlled by a rope and pulley: the idea there is that the keel lowers into the water under the boat, and helps keep the hull on an even tack when you're sailing against the wind. When you're sailing with the wind the keel can be retracted to lessen drag and increase speed. The keel also helps the boat stay upright, which we needed on more than one occasion.

"Hanking on" is when you're attaching the jib to its stay (forestay) with "hanks." These are little spring loaded hooks much like those found on a dog leash.

A batten in a long, thin strip of wood one uses to stiffen the mainsail. No, it's not the same batten for the hatches.

Coming about is when you switch directions, and therefore, have to duck the boom. We did this a lot, which is the trickiest sort of thing to manage, I think. You've got the tiller, the main sheet, and you're trying to switch seats, hoping all the while 1) the boom doesn't knock your mate into the drink, 2) the boat doesn't tip and throw you both in there, 3) you can keep on tack, which is difficult, because the tiller is very long, and you can't step over it because of the boom, and sometimes you end up catching it with some part of you as you're switching sides.

Sailing was a lot of work. It was also a lot of fun. My phone, once it dried out, works better than ever. I'm hoping to go again sometime soon.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where's the Magic?

During the course of all this manual labor I have stopped writing (besides this) and I haven't been able to really read anything. It's like another part of my brain has taken over. I don't know if it's just post MFA blues or the allure of summer, but I feel a bit jaded with my writing. Whenever I plan to get back to the novel and redraft it, I think, "why?" I haven't even been able to publish anything! Who's going to want a book from me? I'm not sitting on the pity pot, I'm writing this down with the hope that, once expressed, these feelings will disappear. I guess I need to get my head into something new and forget about publishing or not publishing.

On a semi-related note, I just looked at the New York Times top 10 bestseller list and realized I have never read any books by any of these authors. and nor do I really plan on it. The #1 seller is a book by James Patterson, with (of course) another writer, called The Bathing Suit.

I'm (slowly) reading Just After Sunset, and trying to finish Death on the Installment Plan. In the meantime, I read The Zombie Survival Guide. Maybe I need to lighten up and try the NYT bestsellers?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I tore out some wooden sofit today under the front porch eaves with the intent of replacing it with vinyl. 7-5-09

Update: I replaced most of the front sofit with vinyl. I bought another saw. A Craftsman mini-circular saw. This thing is awesome! 7-6-09


I've decided, after watching My Name Is Bruce, to list ten reasons why I think Bruce Campbell should be canonized:

10) When children dream of superheroes, they all have Bruce Campbell's face

9) Who else from Michigan owns that many Hawaiian shirts?

8) "Gimmie some sugar, baby."

7) Your primitive intellect wouldn't understand.

6) He's the only man in the world better with a saw than me.

5) He did deliver us from the Deadites

4) Without direction, his instinct is to flip off the camera.

3) Could YOU defeat your evil twin?

2) All you existentialists, can you think of a better name than Ash?

1) The man starts a chain-saw with his teeth, okay?

Well, there it is. Critics please e-mail me at, or feel free to post here. I'm sure I forgot all kinds of information that may be valuable to the Catholic church. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I spent Tuesday morning pulling the benches away from the garage. I had been dreading this only because I consider the deck sacred. It came away without too much fuss thanks to the carriage bolts we used. If the whole thing had just been screwed together... or worse, nailed, it would have been a nightmare. As it was I'll probably need to replace the only board that I had to remove (the top railing board) because backing out the screws caused some damage.

This freed up the garage space, so I started there with the 1X3X8 furring strips. I've been buying them at Lowe's. They look a lot nicer than the ones I got at Carter. Lowe's is a little bit of a hike, and they cost 10 cents more there, but they're straight and have clean edges. So, the Alero has been behaving well as my impromptu work truck. I can fit 36 boards in it. That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't, as you can see from the pictures.

After all this wood cutting I broke down and bought a miter saw. I went with the Ridgid 10" MS1065LZA 28513, which should make cutting those pesky furring strips much easier. Also, I bought an Irwin plywood blade that I plan to use for cutting the vinyl siding. Apparently the more teeth the better, so the blade I got has 180 teeth, and I guess you're supposed to turn it backward so as not to splinter the vinyl. I'll let you know how it works.

I ran into a few difficult spots yesterday after the garage was finished. There's a trim board along the gables I'm stuck working with. It's nailed onto the house and catches the nails from the roof decking too, so removing it is not an option. It shouldn't be that big of a deal, but it extends out farther than the furring strips. Also, there's flashing above the brickmold on all the windows. It's going to take some time to finagle that stuff... I don't want to tear it out.

All this work as made me 1) sore 2) aware of the fact that building, or remodeling, is like writing. How, you ask? Everyone does things their own way. If you want 15 different opinions on how something should be done, go to the hardware store. However, at the end of the day it's you and your saw, or you and your hammer and the only person you're trying to please is yourself. But you start off as an apprentice, I suppose. I don't know. It's weird.