Late bloomer.

I planted a 2-gallon sized Pride of Barbados shrub yesterday.   It’s a bit late in the season, but I’m hoping that planting it now will give it a good month or so to acclimate to its new home before the cold weather hits.  That should make for a good winter’s nap before spring.  We’ll see.  If this one doesn’t pan out, Monte’s starting a few from seed.

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Birdies above. 

At home I am feeling the absence of the little birdies and squirrels lately.  They started making themselves scarce about the same time a hawk was spotted swooping around the trees in our yard.   Hopefully this won’t last long. 

In the mean time, I was thrilled to see a flock of 20 or more Monk Parakeets flying around the Lamar & 51st street area as we headed home from dinner tonight.  We stalked them for a while but didn’t get a great shot. 

This is a picture of them near one of their nests.   I count 16 or so in this shot.  Kind of reminds me of a musical scale with the birds as the notes. 

Subterranean Jazz. 

I met some girlfriends downtown last night to listen to a band at The Elephant Room –  Kris Kimura’s Wasabi Grande Big, big band.  Now, that’s a big band!

Low-light shot of the back of the room. 

Boat repair.

A week or so ago, we were at anchor and rafted-up in a cove with another boat when we experienced the largest boat wake we have ever seen on Lake Travis, courtesy of a motorhead who is ignorant of the damage that his wake causes other boats and docks along the lake.  We never saw him, but his wake caused our two boats to smash into eachother, resulting in our port-side gate stanchion breaking.

The next day I got on the phone with Catalina Direct and ordered a replacement.  That was the easy part.  The fun-part remained:  figuring out how to access the nuts & bolts below deck to make the repair.  Suffice to say that it was not a Catalina 320 design point to make access to the stanchion bolts easy or straightforward.  The Catalina 320 owners’ association discussion forum was a helpful resource, with some threads describing the repair.  I decided to document our experience, along with some photos, in the event it helps another sailor down the line.   This is a two-person job, as screwing and unscrewing the nuts requires one person above deck, and one person below.  Oh, and the below deck person needs to be small enough and able to contort his/herself in a very confined space for the duration.  This repair took about 4 hours.   While this post documents replacement of a port-side gate stanchion, I imagine it would be a similar experience for replacing any other stanchion, but the location will dictate a different set of steps to gain access.

In the photo below (new part on the left, broken part on the right)  you can see that the threaded rod of the port-side gate stanchion’s aft leg was broken off at the deck.  It’s actually a great design, in my opinion, because even though the stanchion was bent significantly enough inboard to pop the weld on the threaded rod, there are no outboard through-deck bolts to damage the deck by being pulled out when the damage occurs.  Another thing worth noting is the width of the “h” on the new stanchion was about an inch less than the old one.  You can kind of see that in the photo.  But we were able to remedy that by a gentle, but firm, pull on the legs to spread them enough to make the bolt holes line up with those on deck.   Don’t forget to order the new nuts/bolts/washers that are recommended in the listing for the stanchion on the Catalina Direct website.  They have to be ordered separately.  Our old bolts were bent pretty good, and the washers were cupped a bit.

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The life lines on our 320 connect forward at the bow pulpit.   Easy enough to remove for the repair.

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Now for the fun part.  On a 320, the bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion are located behind the aft galley cabinet.  The bolts for the forward leg are behind the middle galley cabinet, where the microwave sits.  You’ll want to open both of them up to gain access.   I recommend taking the divider wall between the two cabinets out as well to make maneuvering a little easier.  There is a molded fiberglass cable chase/run behind the wood trim inside the cabinets.  You will need to cut away part of that to access all the bolts.  A previous owner of our boat had cut some of it away for some other repair or installation.img_1147

When I first opened things up to see what I could see, this is what I saw in the aft cabinet.   Some of the fiberglass panel had been cut away already, but not enough for this repair.

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I used a Dremel tool to cut away another 4 inches or so.   BE CAREFUL to not damage the cabling behind the fiberglass panel!  Also, take precautions to not work around live electric cables, to avoid damage/death to yourself.     I also recommend eye protection and wearing a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while making the cut.   And, beware, that cut fiberglass edge is sharp.img_1142

This is an upclose view of the 3 bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion.   The big one is the broken outboard threaded rod.  The 2 inboard ones are the smaller through-deck bolts for the aft leg.  I had to lower the cabling that was fastened below deck to get access to the bolts.  I found that there was no clearance below the threaded rod to allow me to use a socket of any kind.  So I had to use a wrench to turn the nut, little by little.  As I did, the top of the broken-off rod rose slowly above the deck, eventually enough to be able to put a vicegrips on it above deck, to keep it from turning as I removed the nut the rest of the way.   I also will note that the recommended bolt/nut/washer kit that we ordered contained new stainless bolts for the inboard holes of the aft leg that are about an inch longer than the old ones.  That might make using a socket difficult, if you don’t have a deep enough one.

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This picture shows all 5 bolts – the 3 of the aft leg, and the 2 of the forward leg.  It also shows how nice it is to not have the dividing wall between the cabinets there.  It made reaching through with tools easier.img_1143

We first removed the inboard bolts of the aft leg.   Monte unscrewed the bolt above deck, while I held the nut below.

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This is a shot of the deck with all the bolts removed, and the old adhesive scraped away.   We used fresh marine adhesive, liberally covering the area of each foot.  All that remained was to install with the new hardware.

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Voila!  repair complete.

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Garbage-pail pasta before & after.

Garbage-pail pasta is a quick dinner dish that I throw together using whatever is in the fridge.   Last night’s version featured:

  • leftover chicken breast meat from the day before – diced (8-10 ounces)
  • 1 onion – diced
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp each of kosher salt & ground black pepper
  • 2 cups of mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 8 ounces of dry bowtie pasta, cooked before it is added to sauce
  • 1 cup of half & half
  • 2 cups of baby spinach – coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces of grated parmesan cheese

Pre-cook pasta in salted water.   Save the pasta water to use it to thin the cream sauce later, if needed.

I use a 4-5 quart saute pan/pot to make the sauce, so that it is big enough to hold both the sauce and the cooked pasta when it is added later.

Saute onion, garlic and mushrooms in olive oil over medium heat, until soft.   Add in the pre-cooked chicken, salt & pepper, and stir for another few minutes til chicken is warm.  Add flour and stir, to coat meat and veggies (this will help thicken the cream sauce later).

Add half & half and stir until sauce begins to thicken.   Add small amounts of pasta water if sauce gets too thick.  Stir in parmesan and spinach, for a minute or two.  Then turn off heat under sauce.  Add drained, cooked pasta to the sauce and stir.

Before:

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And after:

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Not bad.  This dish would easily serve 4.  Next time, I’d add more mushrooms.

A day in the life of the sky.

We spent Saturday & Sunday nights on the lake this past weekend with Marty & Sue.   As I looked back over the photos I took, I was captivated by the different colors in the sky from shot to shot.  These are several from a 24 hour period, Saturday evening to Sunday evening.

Saturday sunset:

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Crescent moon and Venus in Saturday’s twilight:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunrise on Sunday:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thunder-boomer building Sunday night:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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And the crescent moon again, Sunday night:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Life is good.

Swallow-ed tail?

Walking back and forth through the backyard yesterday, I spotted a yellow butterfly snacking on some lantana.   I went in the house and got my camera to try to get a shot or two.  This is the clearest one.   I believe it is a kind of  swallowtail butterfly.   But it appears that something has nipped the tail end of his wings.   I’m sure he has some stories to tell…

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Covering (my little corner of) the Earth!

We chose Sherwin-Williams paint when we renovated our home.  I can’t believe a decade has flown by since we repainted every wall, ceiling, door and piece of wood trim in the house.

Well, in the midst of the 100+ degree mid-August heat wave, our large AC/heat pump failed.  It was 22 years old, so…. it wasn’t unexpected.   We decided to replace the system.  After the HVAC guys were done with the work, the wall alongside the closet containing the new air handling unit was pretty badly dinged and marked up.

So I popped in to our local Sherwin-Williams and asked for a quart of the wall color we used.  They still can blend up any of the original colors we used.   But, the sales guy said they have changed their line of latex paint and their color/tinting system in the ten years since we bought the original color.    So, he wasn’t sure if it would match for touching up spots in the existing ten year old paint job.

Well, it matched perfectly!  Thanks SW!  I’ll keep coming back.

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