Exchange of DIY ditties.

Monte asked me to make him a mask, since the ones he’s been using are either too small or uncomfortable.  So I finally knocked out my first homemade COVID mask, custom made to his specifications.  🙂

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I then asked him to make me a frame for a piece of art that our niece, Laura, drew and sent to me.  He knocked it out, custom made to my specifications. 🙂  I just LOVE this drawing.  Laura requested people to send her photos of their quarantine workspaces, which she then drew in watercolors.  I sent her a picture of my craft space in my office, which is where I sat to make Monte’s mask.

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Keeping busy in the time of COVID….

 

 

One head is better than none.

Monte completed the install of our new head on Nirvana this week!  The work was interrupted by this shelter-in-place for a couple of months.  But he made several trips this week and declared it done yesterday.

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So today we went to the lake and took her out.  We anchored and jumped in and floated in the lake for the first time this year.  Water temps were still a tad chilly at 79 degrees F, but we sucked it up.

Nice Thursday!

Twin antennas.

We cut the cord a few years back, and have been watching TV since then using over-the-air (OTA) antennas, which can pick up a number of local HD television broadcasts.  That, in addition to a few online streaming sources, works well for us.

We aren’t big TV watchers.  But, we do have a large TV in our game room.  And I have a small one in my office over the treadmill.  Last year Monte found a design online showing how to make an antenna that might give better reception than ones we’ve tried.   He made one for the big TV and christened it the HD3000.  It works great, much better than any of the others we’ve bought over the years, and it nearly doubled the local channels picked up.  I’ve been waiting patiently for mine, and this week Monte made one for my office TV.  We installed it up in the attic right next to the first one.  We simply screwed the coax cable from each antenna into the existing coax cable that was already run through the attic into the room of the TV to be connected.   It works great!  Now I can reliably tune in KXAN to watch the weather alerts during severe weather, which we’ve had much of, lately.  Yay!

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If you’d like to know how many (and which) channels you can receive where you live, check out this website:  antennaweb.org.

 

This might take a while.

I ordered a paint-by-number kit a month ago to help me pass the time in self-imposed quarantine.  It took a while but arrived today.   Perhaps I should have picked something smaller…  No matter, I will start tonight and take my time.  Wish me luck!  🙂

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All in a day’s work.

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During this prolonged shelter-in-place, when people ask me “what did you do today?” I usually go blank.  But I have been busy!  Aside from the household chores, cooking, and yard work, I have found contentment in these online diversions, which fill my day.

Photography

Nikon is offering their curriculum of 10 online photography classes to be streamed for free until the end of April.  How cool is that?  Link here.

Birding

High Island on the Texas Gulf Coast is one of my very favorite birding destinations during migration in April.  But not only is travel not in line with the current stay-at-home order, but the sanctuaries are also closed.  Thankfully, Houston Audubon, who owns and runs the High Island sanctuaries, is live streaming video footage from their Facebook page at 8AM and 3:30PM every Thursday through Monday.  Their Facebook link here.

Guitar

Fender is offering a 90-day free trial of their online guitar, bass, and ukelele lessons.   I’m a poorly self-taught guitar player of nearly 30 years and I’m learning new things by following their lesson progression, and more importantly, practicing again.  Link here.

Exercise

Lori recommended some beginner yoga sessions on YouTube, from “Yoga with Adriene.” I’m a yoga-newbie and am enjoying them very much.  Link here.

I use an app called “30Days” to help me to do higher and higher reps of traditional strength exercises like plank, situps, pushups, etc.  You pick the exercises, set your starting point, and for 30 days the app will gradually increase the reps, giving you days-off every few days.  I’ve used their app for years, on and off.  I’m 27 days into my latest 30-day stint and am back up to planking for 3 minutes.  🙂   The app isn’t fancy, there are prettier ones out there, but it’s free and it works for me when I use it.  Link here.

Amy recommended an app she used to train herself from couch-surfer to running a 5K over the course of 8 weeks.  They also have a 10K version which takes you from couch to 10K in 14 weeks, which is the one I’m using.  I’m on week 4 and am still enjoying it. They are both free to try for 7 days, and then you have to pay to upgrade to unlimited access.  The provider, Fitness22, actually has an entire collection of fitness apps.  Link here.

After 6 years, I am still wearing my fitbit One tracker every day.  I need to upgrade to a watch soon.  Either way, I use their app daily to track my activity and food.   Link here.

Things to listen to

Amazon Music, one of the perks of Prime membership, has a great selection of music; 2 million songs from their 50 million song library are free to listen to for Prime members.  You can search by song, album, artist, or listen to existing playlists and curated stations for something that floats your boat.  Keeto enjoys George Winston.  Link here.

Amazon Music has a channel on twitch.tv where they are hosting live-streamed webcasts.  Look for #togetherathome hashtag.  I listened to Hayes Carll play live for an hour on his patio last night.  The audio was very well done.  Link here.

I’ve gone overboard subscribing to and listening to podcasts, true crime is my addiction.  I have new content to listen to each day.  I use the Stitcher app to listen.   Link here.

Foreign Language Learning

I still use the free app Duolingo to practice my Spanish every day or so.  Link here.

Things to watch

The British National Theatre is streaming previously recorded theater performances every Thursday in April, on their YouTube channel.  We watched the first one, a comedy called One Man, Two Guvnors, last week and really enjoyed it.  Link here.

The Metropolitan Opera is streaming videos of previously recorded opera performances, a new one every day.  Link here.

Acorn.tv is offering a 30-day free trial of their British TV shows’ episodes (which we enjoy very much) for new subscribers, instead of their normal 7-day free trial.  Use the code FREE30 when signing up.  Link here.

Videochat

Ok, hands down, I’ve adopted Zoom for video chat.  The free version allows unlimited video meetings with a 40-minute time limit on each, which works for me.   Link here.

Online multiplayer games

We have spent many hours playing online games with friends and family.  I think that trickstercards.com and boardgamearena.com are both well done for this.  We combine them with a zoom video chat.

Food & Drink

Virtual wine tasting from Becker Vineyards.  What’s a virtual wine tasting?  Well, Becker is selling different 3 pack bottles of different varietals each week, which you can order to be shipped to your home.  And then a few days later, you tune into their Facebook Live sessions to participate in a group tasting of each bottle with experts from the vineyard.  I just bought the 3rd tasting pack.  It should be good!  Link here.

I posted previously about my ongoing on-line grocery shopping adventures for delivery and/or curbside pickup.  I’ve been pretty good at keeping an order scheduled a week to 10 days ahead of time, to keep fresh food in the house.  Let me say, again, HEB is awesome!  Link to my previous post here.

 

 

 

 

Hunter, gatherer, … e-shopping commando.

I am taking this social distancing thing seriously.   But that means getting food in the house is a challenge.  I’m not really concerned about the amount of time it would take me to shop in these current times, with lines and limitations on the number of people allowed in a store at a time.  But I would really like to remain outside of COVID-19’s chain of transmission for a while.  Not to bring it home.  Not to pass it on to multiple other people.  So, I have taken to the interwebz to find delivery service and/or curbside pickup service options for my nearby grocery stores.  It’s not as simple as I thought.

In-store inventories are low, though continually being restocked.  So, even if I am able to find an item in a specific store, it may not be on the shelf when my real-life-shopper-hero goes to find it.  So there will be items substituted for the ones I wanted; some of which I get to pick, some I just have to live with.  Different grocery stores, even of the same chain, carry different items.  So, I have had to search individual stores to find specific items.

The bigger challenge has been finding a delivery window or curbside pickup window.  Most of the stores and services I have looked at in my busy corner of Austin have either no open windows at all, or the first ones are a week to 10 days out.  So I’ve had to be patient and persistent.  And, I have taken to placing an order ahead of time for each week and it is working ok for now.  Once an order is in the queue, I can add a few last-minute items to it before it is fulfilled.

I am using a combination of Shipt.com’s delivery service, from HEB, and HEB curbside pickup.  I’ve been happy with both.  Target also offers drive-up (in their parking lot) delivery, which has to be initiated from their app, not the target.com website.  I haven’t tried it yet.

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Wine and beer aren’t being delivered by most grocery stores, as that would require interacting with the delivery person to check the recipient’s ID, and the delivery companies are really trying to make each delivery interaction-free to keep their employees safer.   So I wanted to find an alternative source that would deliver alcohol to the house as well.  Solution:  Costco delivery!  Thanks for the tip, Lori 🙂  Costco uses Instacart.com for their same-day deliveries.  I had to wait a day and a half for any delivery window at all to appear, but one eventually did this morning.  It is 5 days away, and I grabbed it.

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There have been a couple of food items that have been extremely hard to locate, but I stumbled upon Amazon.com’s Amazon Fresh store online, available for Prime members.  Yesterday I ordered found a couple of items I haven’t located anywhere else, and they were delivered within 2 hours!

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I know I am one of the fortunate ones to be able to afford this luxury.  And I am thankful for that.  I hope my using the service and tipping well helps the workers on the front lines.  My goal is to try to avoid placing a MEGA grocery order for things I really don’t need right now.  And, rather, place several small orders, spaced out over the next few weeks to get only things we need, leaving the rest in the store for others to buy.

Shop on!  And be well.

P.S.  I just love HEB.  They are more than a grocery chain to Texans.  They are integrated into their communities across the state, especially in times of disaster, be it a hurricane, mass-shooting, or pandemic.  Their motto is “No store does more than HEB.”  That is the truth.  Here is a great article on their preparations for the times in which we find ourselves:   https://www.texasmonthly.com/food/heb-prepared-coronavirus-pandemic/

 

New tricks.

Social distancing is turning into social isolation. To keep my sanity, I’ve been trying to find new ways to play with old friends. Like making up new games to play on zoom video conferences and WhatsApp group chats. Here’s one: an endless game of “picture UNO.”

My sister is going to teach me how to play Settlers of Catan together using zoom video conferencing.

I found a surprisingly well done website for multi-player card games like pinochle; it’s called trickstercards.com. You can play in a browser or on a mobile device using their app. Tonight we played 4-handed pinochle with Doray and Tom from our respective bunkers.

Now I need to find one for cribbage.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Distantialism.

Distantialism; a word I made up to capture the way of life we have all been suddently asked to embrace due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in touch via technology:  We have been keeping to the house for the last week or so, even before the City of Austin declared a shelter-in-place order last night for the next 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been using video chat apps like zoom and skype to keep in touch with multiple groups of friends and family at a time.  Alternatives didn’t meet my needs; Facetime doesn’t run on non-Apple platforms, and WhatsApp only supports chats amongst 4 people at a time.

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My niece introduced me to the marco polo app, which I can only describe as a group texting app, except instead of just asynchronously texting eachother, you can send video clips to eachother which can be viewed by the recipient(s) at their leisure, and then subsequently responded to.  You can also use it for real-time communication, though, in which case, as my niece describes it, it works kind of like a video “walkie-talkie” where each person takes turns “talking” by sending small video clips.

Grocery shopping without going to the grocery store:  I have tried using our local grocery chain (HEB’s) delivery and curbside services.  I can’t say how that has gone, though, since the first delivery slot available when I placed my order 8 days ago, was for tomorrow.  So I get to wait another day and see what actually gets delivered.   Their curbside pickup/delivery timeslots are booked 10 days to two weeks ahead of time now, so I’m not sure how much more experience I’ll get with them.

I signed up for Shipt.com, in the hopes that I could schedule a much sooner grocery delivery.  The membership fee is about $99 for a year, or $15/month.  They had an opening for the next day, so I decided to try it out.   It actually worked well.  My shopper texted me when an item that I wanted wasn’t available, so I could pick a substitute from the available items.  There was a bit of a snag on the delivery end, but it all worked out in the end.  🙂

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Entertaining myself:  I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood and nearby parks, streaming TV shows and movies, watching the many now live-streamed instead of in-person events, gardening, and whatever else my heart desires (that I can do in the confines of my house and/or yard).

I hope you are all faring well.  Take care.

Rainy day project.

I knocked out a quick project today as rain soaked the yard. It’s a bag to hold a 3L boxed-wine bladder. Boats don’t much like things made out of cardboard; roaches do. So we don’t bring cardboard on-board. This bag will hold, hang, and dispense the wine instead, so we can toss the box for recycling. Yes, that’s right, I just ooze class. 🙂

Swing into spring.

I just finished a new canopy cover for my friend, Irene’s, garden swing.  I popped over this morning and we put it on.  Looks great!

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Ready to sail.

Time has flown by since we took Nirvana’s mainsail home at the beginning of December.  But we’ve not been idle.  We’ve had a lot going on; a few visits from family and friends, an Atlantic coast boat delivery, the holidays, the bathroom remodel, yardwork, life, etc.  But I think I’m almost ready to start repairing the main.

I’ve made a scale drawing of the sail and all its detail (including seams, layers of dacron, batten pockets, luff and leech tape, direction of the warp & weft/fill – or weave – of each piece of the sail’s construction, etc).  On top of that, I marked the location of the damaged areas that need to be repaired.  Using this, I can figure out a strategy of what pieces to replace, the dimension of each piece, and then lay them out on scale drawings of 54″ wide dacron yardage so I can figure out how much I need to cut out all the pieces with the weave in the required direction.

Nirvana’s sail is a bit unusual – at least for a US boat – in that it has a furling boom (a Forespar LeisureFurl furling boom).  It’s a very nice upgrade that is reportedly prevalent in Australia and New Zealand sailboats.  We like the convenience and the fact that our furling boom allows us to have full battens in our main.   As I’m preparing to repair the mainsail, I’ve learned that sails for LeisureFurl booms are built with multiple layers, or plies, toward the leech end of the sail, which is required to ensure proper furling of the main.  It just makes things a bit more interesting (complicated), as that is where the majority of the damage is.  I’ve also spent time on the phone with Sailrite and Forespar to ensure I use the right weight of dacron for the replacement pieces.

The repairs I plan to make to the mainsail include:

– Replacing the bolt rope tape on the luff of the sail.  This goes into a track on the aft-side of the mainmast as the sail is raised and lowered.  It is well worn due to wear and UV damage.

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– Replacing the dacron tape along the leech of the sail.  This is well worn and cracking due to wear and UV damage.

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– Replacing areas of varying widths along the entire leech of the sail where UV damage has degraded much of the top ply of dacron.  The previous owner neglected to replace a worn sail cover before selling her, probably for a couple of years, resulting in a wide swath of cracked and torn dacron that remained exposed to the sun when the main was furled.

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I’ve been taking my time, as sail work is new to me, and I have a lot to learn.  The first 2 sets of repairs are straightforward.  The third set of repairs is non-trivial and essentially requires replacement of much of the top 2 plies of the sail.

The picture below shows the drawing I’ve made of the port-side of Nirvana’s approximately 13 1/2′ x 38′ mainsail.   The brown lines represent the batten pockets that are on top of all the layers of dacron and the luff & leech tape.  I essentially need to remove and replace the pink and blue layers of dacron on the aft-end of the sail.

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Because of the order in which the parts of the mainsail are sewn,  I’ll have to pull up the existing batten pockets to remove the worn pieces of the sail, then sew in the new pieces of dacron, and then sew the batten pockets back down, before sewing the luff and leech tape on.  I’ll also have to replace a couple of the numbers on the sail when all the repairs are done, as some of the sections that need replacement are under the sail numbers.

This is definitely more complicated than the repairs I made to the jib a few months back.  But, I’m cautiously optimistic that I can do this.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out.

 

 

 

From leaky to squeaky clean.

Several months ago, I noticed water leaking from our 10-year old GE front-load washing machine while doing a load of laundry.  Upon inspection, I saw that a little piece of the rubber seal between the drum and the door had been torn away.

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For a while, a temporary repair involving tape worked.  But the leak returned and eventually got worse.

After a little internet research, I found and ordered a replacement part – a new rubber door gasket – and found a couple of videos walking through how to replace it step by step.    I suggest watching more than one, as each one highlights slightly different things.  These are the 2 videos I found.   I decided to give it a shot.

The part came in last week, so today was the day to install it!   The videos are only about 15 minutes long.   My total elapsed repair time was around 3 hours, though, which included collecting the tools I needed, moving the washer out to where I could work on it, cleaning everything as I went, and playing/pausing both videos as I proceeded from one step to the next.

The patient, with new door gasket sitting on top of the machine:

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While the videos say the repair is an easy one, it does require you to disassemble much of the machine, or at least more than I thought would fall into the “easy” category.

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New door gasket part-way installed!IMG_0176

I think it went pretty much as the videos showed.  Removing and reattaching the second clamp was not as easy as the videos made it look, but I went very, very slowly and it eventually worked out fine.  I’m doing the first post-repair load of laundry as I write this, and I don’t see as much as a drop of water on the floor.  Thank God.

The machine is fixed, it’s clean inside and out, and I finally leveled the washer after ten years of having it wobble a bit.  Bonus!

 

 

Uber oops.

When I was catching up with Lori in Charleston, one of the things she mentioned was that Mike had left his phone in their Uber on their last trip.  I sympathized as I listened, thinking what a pain it would have been to try to get it back.  Well, as luck would have it, I ended up doing the exact same thing three days later!!

We had just tied up at the marina in Savannah.  I took a quick shower and tidied up.  Then we all bundled into an Uber in the rain to get to Amy Lee’s office to meet up with her and Chris.   We enjoyed a really great tour of the historic building that they had restored in Savannah.  Then Amy Lee drove us around, giving us a wonderful car-tour that only a decades-long Savannah resident could conduct.  Eventually, I patted my jacket pocket, dug through the day-pack that I brought from the boat, only to realize that… I couldn’t find my phone.  Lori called my number.  We didn’t hear it ring.  It wasn’t in our car.   Most likely scenario… it probably fell out in the Uber that I had summoned with my phone an hour or two prior.

How was I going to get my phone back?

– Amy Lee called her offices to see if I had dropped it there.   Nope.  And then she graciously continued our car-tour, while I tried to figure out how to locate my phone from the back seat, and get it back before we had to depart for Brunswick the next day.

– I borrowed Monte’s phone and installed the Uber app, and tried to logon to my account, but I couldn’t recall my password (seriously?!).

–  Then I tried to logon to my gmail account via Monte’s phone to see if I had received a message from Uber about my phone.  But I couldn’t recall my gmail password (OMG!).

– In the meantime, I sent my phone a text from Monte’s phone saying that if someone found my phone, to please call Monte’s number.

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– Then, Lori asked me if I had Find-my-iphone service installed on my phone.  Yes, I did!   A quick google search told me that I could use icloud.com/find to logon to my apple ID via a web browser and it would help me locate my device.  Mercifully, I was able to remember the correct password to my Apple ID.  So I was able to logon and quickly saw that my iPhone was in the vicinity but on the move.  Brilliant!  We tried to track down my phone’s Uber based on the phone’s location, but it was moving faster than we were.  So, I used the iCloud.com find-my-phone utility to ping my phone, which sounded an audible alarm on my phone, wherever it was.

Within 5 minutes Monte’s phone rang.  A person in the Uber had heard the alarm, found my phone wedged between the backseat and the door, picked it up, saw the text message I had sent, and called Monte’s phone from their own phone.   A few minutes later we met up at an agreed-to location for me to get my phone back.   I was very lucky.  And I was oh so thankful for the outcome. The ordeal had lasted about 30 minutes.  I tipped the Uber driver again when she handed me my phone, and we went our separate ways.

Take from this story what you will.  Turn on your phone’s find utility if you have one.  commit a few passwords to memory.  Make sure your phone is secure in your pocket or bag.  And travel with a friend with a phone.  🙂