Fall sailing trip

Fall sailing trip

Our rough plan for our fall trip was to sail to Annapolis. I was really looking forward to taking the tour of the Naval Academy, but we’ll have to do that another time. Instead, we spent some time on the Eastern Shore and had a really lovely time.

Our trip started out on a beautiful day. There were boat races going on out by Solomons, which was cool to watch as we slowly made our way through the spectator area.

039That evening we walked through the Holiday Inn parking lot on our way to pick up some beer. On the way through, we saw two of the racing boats and their crews cleaning things up and getting ready to go home. We got to look at the boats up close and the kids got autographed pictures and hats, and we got a pair of koozies from them. It was pretty neat.

That night our propane system failed when we started to fix dinner, so we stayed in Solomons another day to get parts and fix it. That delay is the reason we didn’t get all the way to Annapolis. It turned out to be a pretty happy change of plans.

We headed to Oxford, Maryland the following day. Oxford is just a lovely, perfect little town. We so loved just walking around the town in the perfect September weather.

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The kids loved playing in this beautiful park. As we watched them, the church bells in the church next door played beautiful music at noon for ten solid minutes. It was just unbelievably idyllic.

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The Oxford Market had everything on our list that we were looking to pick up. I was actually already thinking the town was perfect before I found Mystery Loves Company, Oxford’s very nice new and used bookstore.

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We enjoyed lunch at The Masthead and the ice cream was amazing at the Scottish Highland Creamery. We also did a little bit of boat shopping while we were there…

After spending a couple days in Oxford, we decided to move on and head to St. Michaels. We went in the back way, anchoring in the San Domingo Creek. Quite honestly, St. Michaels did not impress me. It was crowded and touristy and mostly nothing but shops and shops and more shops. There was one real gem we found in St. Michaels, though. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was really, really wonderful. Unfortunately I forgot my camera on the boat that day, but seriously, if you go to St. Michaels, check it out. Lots of good stuff for everyone, and it’s spread out over a large area – there are many different buildings and outside exhibits, so there’s plenty of sunshine – you’re not spending the whole time in one big building. The museum gives you a comprehensive overview of life on the Chesapeake Bay: history, culture, boats, fishing. Plus, the Hooper Straight lighthouse is there, and we always enjoy checking out a lighthouse!

After a day in St. Michaels, we started heading home. It was a long, wet, rough ride back to Solomons. We were all ready for hot chocolate by the time we anchored.

126131And now we find ourselves in the market for a new boat… but that’s a story for another time. Anyone in the market for a Bristol?

Puppy love

Puppy love

It was only a few weeks after we got engaged that Alan called to tell me he had a “new little buddy.” Some random person had offered him a puppy, the last of a litter he was trying to find homes for. And so we ended up with a German Shepherd/Rottweiler mix, a fuzzy little bear of a pup.

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He was always a sweet dog, although he showed his naughty side often enough. He was a sucker for a chance to go exploring. As he got bigger he would knock me over to push through a half open door or pull his collar or leash right out of my fingers (or drag me behind if I was too dumb or too dumbfounded to let go) to tear off into the neighborhood. I was always afraid he’d get into trouble. He could look scary to someone who didn’t know him. Luckily, he never got hurt, although he did come home in the back of a police car once, and there was at least one dead chicken with some pretty convincing circumstantial evidence that may have pointed his direction…

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He settled down quite a bit in the last few years as his snout started to grey, although I still always saw him as that same crazy, excitable young dog, and he certainly played the part when the kids wanted to play. Late this summer he developed a tumor in his abdomen, and last week he died. It was so hard to see him fade away in the end, acting nothing like my Buddy.

The kids wanted a new dog right away, an impulse I do understand. I really, really didn’t want a new dog right now. I have bad childhood memories in this area. After my beloved golden retriever Sandi died, I wanted a new one immediately. We got another golden, Maggie. Maggie was a sweet dog, but inevitably, she was very unlike Sandi. I really kind of resented her for a while. I didn’t want to repeat that mistake.

It was awful lonely around here without a dog, though. Especially those nights when Alan works. Buddy was my companion once the kids were in bed. When things went bump in the night I could always figure it was nothing to be concerned about if Buddy wasn’t disturbed by it. I also tend to stay up way too late on those nights, working on various projects, but Buddy always made me go to bed at a fairly reasonable hour because he would start going nuts if I didn’t get into bed. Now there’s no one keeping an ear out with me, no one making sure I keep an eye on the time. I’ll concede that the cat does keep me company, but goodness knows he wouldn’t lower himself to show an interest in my activities.

And then… Alan started looking into breeds that we might look at. I happen to be a sucker for mutts. So I started looking at rescued dogs to see if any fit the kind of dog he was thinking about – just to throw the idea into the conversation, really. And then I happened to find one that seemed to be just what we were probably looking for, even though I didn’t really want to look yet. And now I find myself about to go meet a new dog tomorrow – a new puppy, really. A new 70 pound, 9 month old puppy that we might be taking home with us. I want to be ready for this, but I really don’t know if I am, or if any of us are. The great thing about most dogs, though, is that their hearts are big enough to compensate when ours fail us. It may have taken me a little time to completely warm to Maggie, but I surely did grow to love her just as much as I loved Sandi. Just maybe a new, big-hearted puppy is exactly what we all need.

Being a hooker is hard

Being a hooker is hard

So I found a crochet pattern that I would really love to make as a Christmas present.

Aside: No, all those knitted Christmas presents I had planned aren’t going to get done… I have been off of knitting for so long. I totally burned myself out with all the projects I did last year. I’m only starting to feel like picking up my needles again. Perhaps next year.

So anyway, I found a certain crochet pattern that looked fairly simple. It’s all one stitch, and I think it’s supposed to be a fairly basic one. I figured, I’ll learn some crochet basics and give it a shot…

So, I watched this introductory video. With its instruction I made a nice little swatch of single crochet.

135Not bad, right? Okay, so I started with 20 stitches and ended up with 19, but that’s a reasonable beginner mistake. My knitting experience helped me get the tension pretty good, so it doesn’t have that total rookie sloppy look.

So, at my next opportunity, I moved on to part 2. And then I got lost. I watched the section with each stitch multiple times. I could do each one as I watched it, but I needed more practice with each one in order to actually remember which was which.

When I learned to knit, I started with squares for a sampler afghan. So I thought with crochet, a simple granny square might be a good first project to practice the stitches so I could get a better handle on them.So I found this granny square how-to. I can’t tell you how many times I tried it and ripped it. I only got as far as the first round. It never looked like the one in the picture. I looked up videos on the stitches to make sure I was doing them right… but I guess I wasn’t.

I think this is not going to come as easily as I thought it might. There are (approximately) a zillion different stitches! How does anyone learn them all??

I ordered some books on the subject, perhaps they’ll be more helpful… or I may be hunting down some of you crocheters out there for some assistance.