Saturday, December 31, 2005

Christmas, Part III

We finally finished our nautical-themed Christmas tree at home on the 27th, and hung the star lights in the windows (Shannon's favorite decoration, which may stay up all winter.) Beckymom (Caitlin's term for Shannon's mom) arrived Friday night. Saturday morning, we awoke to a surprise from Santa under the tree - a replica of the Schooner America to occupy the spot previously occupied by a model boat on loan from Andrea and Rick. We opened gifts- lots of stamping supplies for Shannon, a cordless Weedwhacker and other toys for Mark, and a flat-screen computer monitor for Becky- then enjoyed a leisurely brunch.

Mom's cats, Bingo (tortoiseshell) and Domino (black and white) were such well-mannered guests. They never bothered the Christmas tree or star lights in the windows. They were much too busy watching the birds at the window feeder, and the squirrels in the nearby trees.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas, Part II

On the 26th, Mark's extended family joined us for a celebration at his parents' house. We had the secret Santa gift exchange, another Christmas feast, a brainteaser quiz that Mark I won (barely) and piled on the big couch downstairs for a movie. The boys also shot off the world-famous potato cannon outside, but Sandy and I sat that one out.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas, Part I

We spent Christmas eve and Christmas day with Mark's family in Leesburg. Mark's sister Andrea and her husband Rick came down from New Jersey, and we had a peaceful and fun time, with lots of running in the woods and cuddling for Sandy, and lots of good food and downtime for the rest of us.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Super birthday

For my birthday, Mark gave me an XM satellite radio and kits for the car and house. It has made my commute much less painful, especially in the morning. Local morning show DJs love to have listeners to call in with stupid stories on stupid topics, rather than play music. With dozens of stations (hundreds if you like sports or talk radio, which I don't,) I can always find something great, and unlike with my MP3 player, I get exposed to new music and that exhilirating feeling of finding a great song on the radio. -S.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Visit with the Dinoias

We spent the weekend in Pennsylvania with the Dinoias, who left behind even colder weather in Iceland. The occasion was a sad one (Jen's mom Judy's funeral.) But we were so glad to get to see them. It's only been six months since they left, but it felt like forever! Caitlin and Kelsey crafted this snowman-they're experts now.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown

Part One, Annapolis to Chestertown- We set out early Friday morning for Chestertown. Winds were light, but we did get some sailing in. It is about 2 hours across the Bay, then a long, winding trip up the Chester River to Chestertown, Maryland. Chestertown is the home of the Schooner Sultana, and other tall ships join her to celebrate the end of the sailing season every November.

Part 2, Anchored (and not) in Chestertown- We arrived around dusk Friday night. As the boys set the anchor, and the dogs whined to go ashore and "do business," Shannon shot pictures of the tall ships and other boats in the anchorage. The Schooner Sultana, Schooner Virginia, Lady Maryland, skipjack Stanley Norman, Kalmar Nyckel, and Schooner When and If were all tied up along the Chestertown docks. At dark, they were all lit, a beautiful (although eerie) sight.

After the dogs were dinghied ashore, Buckley set the table and Ben made an excellent dinner of ceasar salad and lasagna. We toasted the tall ships with Count Choculas, a mixture of hot chocolate, dark rum, and creme de cacao, then hit the sack.
Saturday morning, we awoke to find ourselves much closer to the boat ahead of us than we remembered. We had drug anchor. The anchor did stick in the new spot, but unfortunately it did so on one of several cables that run along the river bottom. Ben and Mark couldn't budge it. So they tracked down a scuba diver, who did the job. Sandy was upset by his disappearance beneath the water.

Buckley was upset that the guy took the dinghy, which he considers his own personal boat. Once the anchor was freed, we moved further down the river and re-anchored, and Sandy and Buckley reclaimed the dinghy. After a gorgeous sunset and yummy dinner, we all enjoyed a walk around downtown Chestertown Saturday night.

Part 3, Chestertown to Annapolis- Sunday morning, we set out on the return trip home. Shannon took the helm, and realized why color GPS is so necessary, after all. With marine charts loaded in, it gives the helms(wo)man the location of the deep water channel and all nautical markers. The weather was beautiful, but the VHF radio warned of a small craft advisory for the northern Bay, so the boys donned their foul weather gear (for the spray that accompanies high winds), and Shannon and the dogs ducked below. (Lest you think she wimped out, Shannon reminds you that this meant rolling around below decks, being buffeted by one very large dog and one very bony-elbowed dog.) The winds did indeed build, but just enough for a wonderful sail back. We sailed under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge as the sun was setting and the crescent moon rising.

This just about says it all.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Sunday Sailing

Around Annapolis, many people choose Sunday sailing over Sunday driving. This Sunday, we went out with friends Ben and Jen, their visiting friend Dave, and their dog Buckley, who loves sailing probably the most of anyone. It was a gorgeous fall day, and we sailed out of Back Creek to the Bay Bridge, then motored into the harbor and Ego Alley, before returning to port and an amazing dinner Jen made. You'd think this was our nostalgic last sail of the season, but you'd be wrong. We're headed across the Bay next weekend (with both dogs along for warmth) for the downrigging of the Schooner Sultana in Chestertown. Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 23, 2005


The plan was to join Shannon's vet school classmates Ally and Kim and their significant others, Mike and Johnny, for camping near Ally's house in central Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the plan, and the people involved, were flexible, as it was rainy and cold most of the weekend. We drove up Saturday morning, piled in Ally's truck, and toured the valley in which she lives and works (as a farm vet.) The leaves at that higher elevation were beautiful, and it was interesting seeing the farms, many of which Ally visits regularly. There are a number of Amish farmers in the area, and their pride in their farms is evident. We visited Ally's show calf, Valentine, at the farm where she will someday earn her keep as a dairy cow.

After a stop at a local winery and the Whitehall market (part 7-11, part Amish market,) we returned to Ally's for sloppy joes, whoopie pies, and dog cuddling. Ally and Mike have three dogs between them (Girl, Jake, and Dempsey.) Kim and Johnny brought Daisy, and of course Sandy accompanies us anywhere where there might be squirrels. The wonderful men built a bonfire in the rain, and made a dinner of "mountain pies" (see Mark's ode below) while the girls carved pumpkins and sipped warm spiced apple wine from the winery. Mark and I "roughed it" on an air mattress on the living room floor, and Sandy took one of the (many) dog beds in the living room.

On Sunday, we woke up to sunny weather and French toast. Kim and Johnny had to hit the road for a long drive to Ohio. Ally and Mike drove us a short distance to a gorgeous spot to go hiking with the dogs. The views were breathtaking, or maybe it was just us being out of shape and hiking uphill. The dogs, including 12-year old Girl, put our endurance to shame. Ally and Mike will be married next September in "Big Valley," and we can't wait for that excuse to go back! -S
Perhaps the most life-changing introduction for me was how to make a "mountain pie". This requires a special (very manly) tool and an open flame (as all great cooking does). Basically you have two small skillets the size of a slice of bread on a hinge at the end of two long handles, so that while closed it makes a little pocket or oven that can be placed in the hot coals of a campfire from a safe distance. Two pieces of bread are liberally buttered and filled with any of a multitude of different fillings, including pizza makings, ham and cheese, sloppy joe mix, etc. It can even be used for a dessert, by filling the bread with pie filling, or our personal favourite, a marshmallow and a dark chocolate bar. The only limiting factor in our case was that we only had one of these "mountain pie makers" for 6 people and 5 dogs. And there was some debate as to whether it was considered "proper" to open the handles to 'peek' while the pie was cooking to check on its progress, or whether you should "just know" when it is done. We are already beginning our search for our own pie maker, so that we may return next year, better equipped. (plus, in the mean time, it may give a viable reason for starting a fire in the yard.) -M

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sandy gets her license

Recently, Sandy's dog license came in the mail. She mistook it for a license to drive, and immediately hopped in the Miata. She had perfected parallel parking and was singing along to the radio when we found her.

Anniversary v1.0

We were up early Sunday the 25th of Sept. for a convertible ride to church, except we had the top up (only the 2nd time) and we took Sandy to the Popes to stay for the day, then we met them at Grump's for eggs benedict. After church we went downtown for the 12:30 sail on Woodwind. There was a great wind and the sun came out by the end.
I received a call from the guy that I had delivered a boat to on Saturday, saying he was missing a piece. I knew the highest probability was that it was still in my jeep. So after the sail it was a drive back home, and then a nice convertible ride (top down this time) to Severna park to give him the final mast section that he needed. And a nice convertible ride back to the B&B for some relaxing before dinner.
One thing I always wanted to do was take off from my wedding on a beautiful evening in a convertible on the way to a honeymoon. Well the real thing worked out much better, with the sunset, moon, and classic Rolls, but this Sunday, we got to take a nice convertible ride on a beautiful evening to our anniversary. Really it worked out much better this way.
Dinner at Cafe Normandie was exquisite. Starting off with a "french martini" (with chambord) French onion soup, veal with mushrooms, it was really, really good. And we could walk there and back.
The B&B is wonderful and we had a relaxing morning and great breakfast as usual. After another convertible ride we headed to the beach to launch the catamaran and sail it around to the ramp to pull it out for the winter. It was pretty windy and a fast ride, we didn't stay out long, the water is getting cool fast. We spent the rest of the day putting away boats and stuff which now crowds our house.
It was a very restful weekend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Open Air

Much like there is only one way to get to Cantler's Crabhouse on Mill Creek, there is only one way to make it to Pirate's Cove for the Wednesday night sailboat races.

And just as most of the trips I have made to Cantler's have been by boat, many of the trips to Pirate's Cove in Galesville have been in a car with no roof.

After owning the Jeep Wrangler for a couple of years I knew I really enjoyed riding around in the open air... as long as it wasn't raining. And since I would completely remove the top from the Jeep in the summers, those rain squalls that would come up on any given afternoon would often catch me 'with my top down'. I thought that a vehicle which carried around a well-fitted top at all times, and which could be deployed in minutes, would definitely be the way to go. After selling the Jeep last year, I immediately began to miss driving around and being able to see the whole sky.

So this summer, having been relieved of paying the yearly tax bill on a second house, I decided to make alternative use of the funds, and after clearing the potential purchase with the proper authorities, went out in search of a Miata, which I felt would be the perfect solution to my "no-top envy." This one must have had my name on it, it was just advertised the same week I started my search, it was less than 5 miles from my work, and it had everything I was looking for and then some.

And it was far more exhilarating than I had even imagined. I think the Mazda website describes it best:

The original roadsters were designed for one purpose: the pure, unadulterated enjoyment of driving. With light weight mated to a lively engine, precise handling and a drop-top that left nothing but a windshield between driver and the rushing wind, the roadster provided the thrill of the road like no other vehicle.

The car was designed for one thing, the enjoyment of driving. From its road-hugging stature, to its quick acceleration and tight handling, to its completely open feeling, it is simply a blast to drive. Simply driving to work, the grocery, anywhere, now becomes a little mini vacation, out in the warm sunny summer air. Each trip I have taken so far I have not wanted to end, I wanted to just keep driving. Not since I was 16 have I been this excited about simply driving somewhere. It truly is life-changing.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Corduroy Cruise 2005

We just returned from a cruise with friends Ben and Jen on their boat Outre Mer. Outre Mer is French for "overseas," in case you were wondering. The boat is a 40-foot Jeanneau, a French-built boat with fun labels on things, like "GAZOLE," where you put the fuel.
She's a wonderful boat, and Ben and Jen were generous to have us aboard (Sandy included) for a cruise to celebrate the recent removal of the tan corduroy that used to line the interior.

Outre Mer has a guest cabin which we found quite comfortable. Sandy often joined us for a morning cuddle.

We left Annapolis Friday and sailed with what sailors call the "iron wind" (the motor) to St. Michael's, Maryland. We docked at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum and on Saturday celebrated Mark's birthday at the Museum's Big Band Night.

Sunday morning Mark captured this gorgeous sunrise.

Ben kept cutting up... did the dogs.

Sunday, we biked to Bellevue, stopping at an amazing Italian restaurant and market for lunch. We took our bikes on the ferry to Oxford, and biked around town. We stopped at the general store for ice cream, and then returned to St. Michael's.

Sunday night, we joined Ben and Jen's friends Wayne and Sheila for a sunset cruise aboard their boat, complete with up-close views of the waterfront mansions and a sumptuous feast Sheila provided.

Monday, we sailed to Herrington Harbor South, a resort-like marina on the Western shore of the Bay. We lounged by the pool and had a great dinner to celebrate Ben's birthday (33, we're told) and Ben and Jen's anniversary (13th;they must have married very young.)

Tuesday, we sailed north to an anchorage on the Rhode River. There was a small island nearby, to which we ferried the dogs in the dinghy (which Buckley considers his boat) for play and potty time. Not satisfied, Buckley demanded a pleasure ride on the dinghy afterwards.

Wet dogs drip dry in the cockpit. We all had such a great time!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Men in Bulk

They say a good man is hard to find, but apparently you can get a good deal if you buy in bulk quantities.
Shannon found these somewhat cryptic signs all over Edgewater here, and a picture was definitely in order. After taking a wrong turn one day on the way to visit my family we found ourselves at a light with camera handy...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Family resemblance

My brother Bart, sister-in-law Tracy, neice Sara, and mom Becky all joined us for a weekend at the beach house. Check out the family resemblances-same hair, same squint, same hats. As my dad would have said, "Silliniess runs in our family, practically gallops." -S