Saturday, May 31, 2008

Opening Day 2008

We won something. It took a long time to get here. If you know anything about SWIETENIA, then you know that she arrived on the scene in less than stellar shape. We bought a POS, about two seasons short of the chainsaw, but being young and foolish we plunked down the big $5,000. That was down from $8,900 after having the boat surveyed and hearing these phrases over and over: "Little soft here." "Could use some refastening here." "You'll want to replace this." "This won't pass your Coast Guard inspection..." The "salty" old guy we bought her from was happy to get rid of her after hearing from the surveyor the full scope of the damage he helped inflict but we were awestruck by the possibilities of owning a Chris Craft! And a really classic looking one at that. Older than dirt: 1941. One of the last Chris's delivered before they switched over to building landing craft for the Navy. There's a little more history to how we found SWIETENIA (Formerly EPIPHANY, BLUE INTERLUDE, NO LONGER BLUE) and how many boats we looked at that were EVEN WORSE, but that's a story for another post.

There are things we thought we'd fix right away that we still haven't fixed... Other things that we didn't know existed and still don't really know what they're called but we've fixed them multiple times. Just think: Five years in and we've gone through 5 batteries, two carburetor rebuilds (and counting), a hundred spark plugs, a thousand gallons of gas, countless quarts of varnish, paint and other hazardous chemicals, probably a thousand sheets of sand paper, two sanders, two vacuums!, 10 boxes of band-aids, a hundred gloves, thousands and thousands of fasteners, accounts at Fisheries Supply and Dunn Lumber, visits to very strange and sometimes shady places of business on the south side like Alaska Copper and Brass, Blanchard Electric, SmartGlass, and three haul-outs. Sheesh. Oh, and always ask if they'll do a cash deal. They usually will.

But it's all worth it. Opening Day was a nice ending to a very long winter. We hauled the boat out of the water on December 21st and began a grueling two months on-the-hard at Jensen Motorboat and then 3 more months trying to put it all back together. When it was finally over last month I sat down with the log book and started writing down all of the work we had accomplished. Four pages later I was still writing but the funniest part was that right at that moment, the boat wasn't running! All that work, the boat looked better than she ever had, and we couldn't take her out of the boathouse. Carburetor. Jerry my mechanic Jerry-rigged it and we were able to parade later that week and parade we did, right into a 3rd place win. 3rd place you say? To place at all is a big achievement considering my competition. Much more flashy, larger, even older and more "classic" looking boats are in my parade class. To even place - I'm still happy about it. Ginger is too, but might roll her eyes when I talk about it...

Special thanks to our Opening Day crew who all showed up in the proper attire and saluted the judges in perfect unison. Ginger, Tracy, Laurie, Diane, Noel, Jon and Matt you guys looked perfect - our Commodore in the Classic Yacht Association even mentioned our "presentation." Boom.

Also special thanks to Andy Carlson for, once again, having the specialized tools and the expertise to save my bacon as the expensive boatyard clock was ticking.

"That thing still floating?" "Looks better than the last time we saw her." "Boy that's come a long way." "Must truly be a labor of love." "You missed a spot..."

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Porch redux.

How do I start this conversation? You see, I had NO INTENTION of starting the porch project this season. This year really. We're fresh off 6 months (yes, six months) of solid non-stop work on SWIETENIA. More on the old boat - a lot more - in later posts.

I was looking forward to a tranquil weekend of boat rides and BBQ's, maybe some weeding in our aforementioned 100% drought tolerant parking strips. But Ginger wanted to open up what I knew to be an ENORMOUS can of worms. I knew the posts were rotten, that the sill plates were shot and I knew it would be a long, expensive, and difficult project. Much like what we just went through with the boat. Which won 3rd place in the Opening Day parade, BTW. See I'll get everything in this post...

Let's look at a before picture:

Acceptable-looking sort of. but enough for another year. Yeah I know there are problems but the layman doesn't and probably wouldn't even notice the death-lean of the step walls. The insurance company doesn't know there aren't any railings. But, alas, Ginger wanted to get rolling on it, so on the hottest May 17th on record, we get going on a project that I predict will last the next six months.

Upside: Chainsawing down that craptastic old lilac was highly satisfying. Thank you STIHL.

What I didn't know was this: That it would take five dump loads - so far - and that good ceiling boards are $0.71/LF right now. We only need, oh, 900 lineal feet or so of those. And a new front door. And a new deck. And a new railing. And new steps. And new step walls. And we have to completely start over on the columns save for a little bit of trim. And the column foundations need a skim coat. And the step walls need a new concrete foundation. And we need new CDX sheathing on everything. And the price of gas was $4.15 today. And this is why I might be grumpy sometimes.

Why are house projects so much less satisfying than anything else? I can sand the boat all day. As tiring as that can be, I guess that IS better than raking petrified raccoon poop out from under my front porch in 90 degree heat with a respirator sliding off my wet, dirty, sunburnt face... Yeah, I'll take the sanding.

"Is this the path to self-actualization?"

Parahebe perfoliata

I'm a big plant nerd. Huge plant nerd. Love the plants. Chlorophyll, baby. Gimme some Resonance Energy Transfer w/ a side of tasty Thylakoid membrane. Mmmm, photosynthesis.

I once uttered this phrase to no one in particular while thumbing through a native plant guide as my friends were chatting around the campfire about other topics: "I love plants. And remembering plants." Yup, conversation stopped and my official plant geek status went from moderate to high.

So, here begins the Plant Of The Week: Parahebe perfoliata. This baby is off the hook.

I think it looks particularly good against the backdrop of our orange car.

Also known as Digger's speedwell, this drought tolerant semi-woody perennial blooms from May until September in Seattle. This will look particularly good once the yellow Coreopsis verticillata comes in next to it and the orange Agastache rupestris gets rolling next month. PAPE (all the real plant nerds abbreviate the Latin names) will get about 2 feet wide and high, maybe a little wider. The only drawbacks are early season aphids on the flowers and some interior stem die back during the season. We plan to never water this plant again, or anything else in our drought tolerant parking strips - more on these later.

I can't wait until I can geek out again next week in the another installment of POTW. I probably can't wait a week. Pretty sure I won't.

The First Post.

So I figure our first blog post should probably be about posts. Porch posts, to be more precise, or perhaps the lack thereof. We've begun our summer project by lugging approximately 3,220 lbs of detritus to the transfer station over two weekends.

Load number two - yes, Andy's truck is on the sidewalk.

That's five full-sized pick-up loads, if you're keeping track. So what do we have to show for this?

All done for now!

Well, we've got some very rotten posts, some rotten ship lap, some really nice original cedar siding painted a really rotten green, and a little less nasty yellow vinyl siding that will sit in the landfill and never rot.

Also, we met a lot of neighbors while Andy's truck sat on the sidewalk. One of whom then asked us to dogsit for her.

The very best part of the whole thing was this: the largest, heaviest load? The one that consisted only of stuff that we found UNDER the porch. 1,160lbs of stuff, to be exact. I'm sure that saving all that stuff seemed like a good idea to whoever put it under there, but I'm not sure that short ends of 2x4's, the previous set of steps (rotten, what a surprise!), and old, damp, nasty bags of joint compound are my idea of useful. Although the raccoons sure seemed to appreciate it at some point in the past.
I'll let Mark tell you how much fun he had with the chainsaw.