Leaf me alone!

I truly enjoy the trees in our yard.  But, there are many of them, and they collectively drop billions and gazillions of leaves every year. Over the last day or two, we raked and scooped up 5 or more trailer-loads of those bad boys – a good workout. Our new pile-o-leaves (and future garden soil):

I can’t complain though. It has been lovely outside. Today the temps were close to 70 degrees F. Thankfully, cedar pollen levels are below the threshold that triggers my allergies. As I sit here, sore and tired, I’m sipping a glass of wine listening to the news guys report on the cold and snowy weather up north. Yeah, I’ll take yard work in the winter in Austin over that any day.

2019 moments.

This year sped by, but it was jam-packed with short adventures, wonderful visits with friends and family, lots of good food & wine, and a few projects squeezed in.

A quick breakdown:

  • States traveled to/within:  Texas, Florida, Washington, Colorado, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia
  • Countries traveled to/within:  US, Bahamas
  • Siblings visited:  Noreen & David, Brian, Colleen, Fran & Art, Susanne, Gene & Jo
  • Nieces & nephews visited:  Rachel, Julie, Neil & Miranda, Jared, Rebecca, Aaron, Jacob, Pat & Nga, Dan & Erin, Patricia & Florian, Michelle, Amy Lee & Chris
  • Great nieces & nephews visited:  Diego, Tionna & Alex, Will, Nick, Grace, Aly, Mae, Austin, Copeland, Anna Sutton
  • Great-great nephew visited:  X’ander
  • Births celebrated:  great-great-niece Aubrielle
  • Iron-men cheered on:  Jamie
  • Weddings celebrated:  Neil & Miranda, Dan & Erin
  • Friend & family visits to Austin:  Noreen & David, Susanne, Rob & Owen, Asha, Fran & Aaron, Rachel & Becky, Irene & Liz & Keith, and Noreen (one more time) 🙂

I’ve picked one photo from so many enjoyable moments of each month below:

January:  Sailing from Venice, FL through the Florida Keys, to Biscayne Bay; on a mooring ball at Garrison Bight Mooring Field off of Key West.  This was a magnificent trip.  The Keys are amazing.  We had enough time to really enjoy Key West and see the sights and maybe have one too many cocktails.  We hopped up the outside of the Keys, anchoring a few nights.  If I did this again I’d spend many more days in the Keys. We ended anchored outside of No Name Harbor near Miami for two weeks, which sounds like a long time but I thought it was a really nice place to be stuck, waiting for a weather window to go east to the Bahamas.

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February:  Sailing from Florida to Great Bahama Island and through the Abacos; dolphins in the Great Bahama Banks.  We enjoyed a really tame crossing to the West End from Miami, then spent several days making way through the bank and through the Abacos to get to Marsh Harbour.   It was a real treat to be back there for a while. Sadly, Hurricane Dorian devastated the Abacos this hurricane season, and they will rebuilding for the foreseeable future.

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March:  Springtime in the Hill Country means wildflowers.  I simply LOVE spring in the Hill Country.  Monte has cultivated an amazing bluebonnet patch at the chez.  I can’t wait to enjoy next year’s bloom, only 3 short months away.

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April: Spring migration means birding trips; a visit to the bird blind at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge.  I spent much less time birding this year than I would have liked.  But I did make several trips to the coast at the peak of migration, and will definitely do it again this coming year.

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May:  A visit to the Pacific Northwest; a view from Mount Rainier National Park.  I have always loved Mount Rainier.  We picked a nice, though not an absolutely perfect day, to go up to the mountain.  The views on the way up and down are almost as stunning as the views from Paradise Visitor’s Center. I also made it back to the Bahamas for a week in May, but this trip to Washington was the highlight.

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June:  Roadtrip to Colorado and back; one stop was Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo.  We had fun on our trip to Estes Park.  And on the way home.

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July:  A two week trip up the ICW from Charleston, SC to Portsmouth, NC; the full moon rising just as we anchored near the Neuse River in North Carolina.  It was an amazing experience to take this trip up the Intracoastal Waterway.  I learned much, saw many birds, enjoyed the changing scenery along the trip, and never tired of the company.   If you ever have a chance to do something similar, just say Yes.

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August:  Summer heats up in Austin, lots of fun times on the lake, including enjoying Cupholder back in the water.  We enjoyed having both Nirvana and Cupholder on the lake this summer.  We love having boat guests for the day and / or night.  We enjoy our boat friends immensely.  And we really need to spend more time out on the lake next year.

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September:  One of several visits with out-of-towners to Barton Springs Pool to cool off.  I have my own custom tour of Austin for friends that are visiting.  Sometimes we walk around doing it.  Sometimes we do an express version by car.  But I love sharing my town with my friends and family when they come for a visit.  If the temps are anywhere near 100 degrees F, then we must visit Barton Springs Pool.

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October:  Let the boat canvas and sail projects commence!  I finally organized my various and sundry craft/project supplies in my new, amazing closet workspace.  Looking forward to knocking another couple dozen projects of my to-do list next year.

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November:  Enjoying the Christmas decorations going up at Donn’s Depot.  You can walk in the door a Grinch, but as soon as you enter Donn’s Depot after Thanksgiving, you can’t help but feel the Christmas Spirit warm your heart.

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December:  A trip south along the coast from Charleston, SC (Rainbow Row, below) to Brunswick, GA, via Beaufort, SC and Savannah, SC.  Our last trip of the year took me to a place I used to live MANY moons ago, and a few places I’ve never been.  I would like to make a followup visit to these parts again.

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So many great moments!  I’m looking forward to the ones 2020 brings.

Quick trip.

Last week, Monte and I flew to Charleston to meet up with Lori, to crew for her as she moved S/V Trident south to Brunswick, Georgia for the rest of the winter.

Trident in her slip in Charleston is in the foreground, to the right, of the picture below, with 2 tankers getting ready to pass nearby in the narrow Cooper River ship channel just outside the marina, and the Ravenel Bridge in the background.  The two-masted schooner at the dock to the left is the 140′ Spirit of South Carolina.  We finagled our way on board her to watch the Charleston Christmas Boat Parade up close the night before we departed.

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After we landed in Charleston, I had the Uber driver make a side trip to my old house.   I moved many times when I was a kid.  When I lived in Charleston, I was around 7 to 9 years old, and I think it is the first place I lived where I have lots of my own, real memories – as opposed to memories from snapshots, stories, or individual moments in time.  The old chez:

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After provisioning and finishing the short pre-departure list of boat chores, we had a chance to walk around Charleston a bit, and sample its great seafood, which was nice.  I would like to come back with more time to see the sights.  The Pineapple Fountain in Waterfront Park:

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Colorful housefronts along Rainbow Row: IMG_9837

We took the Intercoastal Waterway from Charleston to Savannah, anchoring one night in a creek just off the ICW, and staying at marinas in Beaufort and Savannah.  We strolled around Beaufort’s oak-lined and moss-draped historic streets, making a stop by the house where The Big Chill was filmed.  We had a lovely visit with our niece and her family in Savannah.  Amy Lee gave us the best car-tour of its historic downtown, as a slow rain fell.  Then we took the outside ocean route overnight from Savannah to Brunswick.

It was very COLD overnight on the ocean, but we made it!   Another adventure in the books.

 

 

 

 

About town.

Noreen and I did some shopping yesterday, then headed to the University of Texas campus.  We went up in the UT Tower on a tour.  Monte and I have done this once before but it was a dark and rainy day, so I was looking forward to getting a better view.

As a part of the tour, you can go outside and walk around all 4 sides of the top of the tower.

My town, looking south from the UT Tower:

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The UT Tower, viewed from the Turtle Pond just north of the Tower:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The UT Tower with the UT Tower Memorial in the foreground, a remembrance of the victims of the shooting that happened over 50 years ago:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After the tour, we grabbed lunch on the drag, and then mosied over to Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon to experience chicken shit bingo.   We didn’t win 🙂  But it was fun to cross that off my bucket list.

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Back home, we mournfully watched the Seahawks lose to the Rams.   Keeto is very broken up about it.

Grace.

Monte and I spent the morning at ground zero for Kyle’s Challenge. There were a dozen or more smokers and grills cooking up about 50 turkeys at a time. Sides and desserts were being stockpiled as they arrived. They’ll keep this up through the night till everything is cooked and ready to be plated tomorrow.

God bless these good people.

Pie day.

Today was a baking day. I signed up to bring two pies to Bill & Yvonne’s house tomorrow. They are in the seventh year of organizing and executing a massive community effort to cook turkeys and all the fixings for Annie’s Way Thanksgiving, providing a couple thousand meals to families in the community.  This year their goal is to cook over 150 turkeys tomorrow, to be packaged up and delivered for Thanksgiving Day. They call it Kyle’s Challenge, which the Austin American Statesman featured a story on here. It’s quite a commitment.

All set!

All done. That third pie in the back is for Monte. 🙂

Getting into the spirit.

Last night Monte and I met Joel downtown.  He’s been a friend of ours for about as long as we have lived in Austin, and he has enjoyed (?) some of our most exciting moments sailing on Lake Travis.  And,  he STILL wants to hang out with us!

We bumped into a couple of our friends, and Joel bumped into a couple of his friends, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy yourselves, and enjoy the friends and family that you are blessed to share it with.

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Across the years.

My high school friend, Irene, was in Austin this week.  She and a colleague and another friend were headed for San Antonio for a conference and made a side trip to Austin.  We karaoke’d, texmex’d, BBQ’d, imbibed, touristed, selfied, and enjoyed catching up.  Then I drove them all to San Antonio for the conference and stayed at their hotel on the Riverwalk.   I even squeezed in some birding while their conference was in session.

Irene and I were besties in high school.  Life happened.  We ended up on opposite coasts and fell out of touch until rekindling our connection in the last 10 years, in which I have really enjoyed our rendezvous.  The years melt away and what is left is pure friendship.

Singing and dancing…

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Tour of ATX…

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MEAT! @ the Salt Lick…

IMG_9502Pretty views along the Riverwalk boat tour…

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A lovely night along the Riverwalk…IMG_9598

Hotel room view of the Alamo!IMG_9601

See you again soon, Irene!

 

Pretty boat.

Over the weekend, we took out Nirvana and Cupholder at the same time.  Monte wanted to get some photos of the catboat underway.  Kurt came along to steer while I stood on the bow and took photos.  The light was lovely, with a slight northerly breeze.

Taking 4 years to build, starting in 2000;  launched in Lake Travis in 2004; heavily sailed and thoroughly enjoyed for years; hauled out in 2012; driven to the coast for its saltwater christening and to sail the weeklong Texas 200 in 2013; lovingly restored over the course of a few more years; relaunched on Lake Travis in 2019.  Monte has taken great pains over the years to keep her looking and sailing like new.  A pretty boat, indeed.  Also, still the best dancefloor on Lake Travis.  🙂

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Companions’ cover.

I think I’m on a roll with this boat canvas thing. I made a companionway cover for Marty & Sue’s boat. I love the color. It’s insulated, with a layer of Reflectix between two layers of marine Sunbrella. Stitching it was a bit like wrestling a bear at times, but my new machine handled it well. 🙂

Septemberfest.

Monte and I rang in our anniversary with a trip through the Texas Hill Country.   We had our own mini-Oktoberfest exploring Altstadt Brewery and spent the weekend in Fredericksburg.

We enjoyed the wine and brews of the region and some local good-eats.  We also did our share of antiquing and mantiquing and each brought home a little sumpin-sumpin.

The Longhorns have an off-week, but we caught them chilling in the shade near the Pedernales River:

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We did a number of laps down Main Street in Fredericksburg.  Next week is Oktoberfest in F-burg, so GET DOWN THERE! IMG_9329

You gotta love the Texas wine trail… grape vines and live oaks.IMG_9333

And zinnias as far as you can see…IMG_9336

Happy Anny to us!

So, sew.

I’m slowly working down my boat sewing project list. I made 5 winch covers for our jib sheet winches, house top winches, and windlass. I used Sailrite’s pattern and instructions as a guide. My takeaway: it is not easy to sew a circle onto a rectangle.

I also replaced our frayed and yucky bimini straps, having to sew a loop and attach the fastener-buckle thingie before installing.

Bring on the next project!