The house is a mess. The To-Do List is long. But I’m checked out already — I’m mentally gone.

I’m a short-timer.

Leave it to Seldovians to come up with an expression that so perfectly captures the state of mind you have when you’re trying to get out of town. I’m sure other people and other places use similar words — travel isn’t unique to Seldovians, after all — but in a seasonal community like this one, it applies to so many of us that it becomes a collective vibe sometimes.

You’re on short-timer status.

It’s implied that you aren’t available for a long conversation. You’ve got packing to do. You’re distracted and busy. Everyone understands: the fridge is getting bare, just a few eggs and carrots left. You don’t buy any fresh stuff during that last week. Whatever is left over will go to the neighbors who are staying home. They’ll give you their eggs and carrots next time they leave town. Cooking becomes more challenging than usual. Want to go to the Linwood for a burger & brew?

You’ve got the short-timer’s disease.

It’s understood that all projects are now on hold. Board meetings, proposals, and paperwork become unbearable. Decisions get deferred until your return. It’s the best when you can say, “There’s no internet where I’m going. If you don’t hear from me, that doesn’t mean I’m not interested/engaged/committed.” They get it, you don’t have to explain. You shift the weight to those who are staying behind. Next time they leave, the weight’ll get shifted back to you. Together, we hold it all up.

You’re short-timin’ it.

Chuck and Vivian just returned from the desert, and are headed to Europe soon. Joe and Carla are going Outside for the rest of the winter. The French are in France, but will be here in the spring. Kate and Caleb are headed back East for a family gathering. Valisa’s home from Dutch, but on her way to Bolivia. Simon is someplace cold and windy. Slough is back from Hawaii, brown as a nut. Stan was here for a few days, but is on the Slope now for work. Suzie’s in California, but will be home in February to get her greenhouse warmed up. Erin and Hig and the kids are climbing around at Macchu Pichu. Camille is on the Tusty; she doesn’t know her schedule, so no one else does either.

It’s catch as catch can. We are opportunistic visitors, and get caught up when our time overlaps here at home. Potlucks, beach fires, birthday parties, and group dinners get squeezed into the short spaces. Some of us are retirees and travel for fun, or to get away from the cold. For those of us who work, Alaska employment is so often seasonal: dependent on the fish openers or the ferry schedule, tourism time or the two-on-two-off pattern of the oil industry. Many of us have family in the Lower 48, and we’re able to have extended visits in the winter because we’ve worked hard during the summer. I’ve lived here for almost five years but have only spent one summer at home. (As in most things, I have to be “different” and go the reverse way of everyone else.) One friend, Betsy, spends her summers here. I met her in June 2013 and have never seen her again since.

You’re a short-timer now, aren’t you?

Let me give you hug, in case I don’t see you again before you go. But this is a small town. You tend to see the same people over and over that last week. You say goodbye many times. You give and receive lots of hugs. More hugs can be expected when you get home.

I’m okay with that.

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Tsunami Alert

Just another day in the neighborhood, when you’re a slough-monster living on the Ring of Fire.

I must admit, I live in a dumb place. My house, known as The Shack, is over a hundred years old, built out of scrap wood and cast-offs, sitting on ancient spruce pilings that rest on a gravel beach. When the tide is high, fish swim under the house. When the tide is low, birds fly through that same space. I keep a keen eye on the tide book, the wind, and the barometer, and put my ukulele up in the loft when I think I might get my socks wet. So far, I’ve been lucky, and the place hasn’t flooded while I’ve lived here. But it did flood once within the last twenty years, and probably will again some day.


My house is the little blue one in the middle. I like to say “I live in the postcard.”

If a tsunami decided to roll in, The Shack would be one of the first buildings to go. My neighbor Walt, who thinks about how things work, figures that if you left the doors open the buildings would simply flood, rather than lift off the pilings and float away. I’m not sure which would be worse.

We had a chance today to test out Walt’s hypothesis, although — fortunately — the experiment did not actually take place. This is how our tsunami drill went:

After splitting and stacking wood all day, I was tired and went to bed early last night. I’d been asleep for two or three hours already when the bed started to shake. “Earthquake!” I said out loud, before I was even fully awake. It was a gentle one, but seemed to last a long time. I lay there in my comfy memory-foam bed, counting, “One thousand one, one thousand two…” Wondering, should I get up? It’s probably safer to just stay put, since climbing down the ladder through the loft hatch could be slightly hazardous. “One thousand 50, one thousand 51…” How long is this thing gonna last? It doesn’t seem to be getting any stronger. The wine glasses and pots and pans aren’t even clinking and clanking against each other. “One thousand 80, one thousand 81…” Alright, finally it seems to be stopping.

I look at the clock. It shows 12:36. I’m relieved, then say out loud, “Tsunami.” Guess I should get dressed.

I climb downstairs and turn on the computer, look at (will it be operational, during a gov’t shutdown?). It shows where the earthquake epicenter was, and yes, indeed, that a tsunami alert is in effect.


The absolutely terrifying “travel map” posted on right after the earthquake. According to this map, it looks like I have about five minutes to get the hell out. And look out, entire Pacific Ocean!

At 12:42 I get a text from my friend Carlin: “Please monitor for tsunami. You are the first low-lying beach troll I thought of. Be safe!” Ahem. What did you just call me?

Turn on the radio. KBBI is playing some kind of elevator music. Grab the essentials: passport, cash, wallet, phone & charger cord, headlamp, water, extra sweater, camera, laptop, tide book, Peanut.


I’ve had this little stuffed dog, Peanut (left), since I was about three years old. I used to put him in my pocket and take him to school with me when I was feeling insecure (basically, almost every day.) The real-life Peanut (right) is my friend Melanie’s dog. She was not named after “my” Peanut, but I believe the live Peanut is a velveteen rabbit-like REAL version of my toy dog Peanut. Anyway, I put Peanut in my pocket and he came along with me when I evacuated The Shack.

I go next door. Walt & Sachiko are up. They don’t seem especially alarmed, but they are packing a few things into backpacks. Walt asks if I have any food, offers me a banana. We wonder if we should bring beer. Food seems like a good idea, so I go back to The Shack, and pack Round 2: Dried fruit, granola, toothbrush & toothpaste, contact lens solution. It’s hard to fit it all in my daypack. Wondering why, for the Nth time, I don’t have a disaster pack sitting by the door, ready to go. I realize I don’t have a knife, any fire-making supplies or even a lighter, or probably a lot of other important survival equipment on me. I don’t have any coffee! And my end-of-the-world safety gear (boat, bicycle, fishing pole, firewood) would all disappear in a tsunami. There is a flaw in my plans, I see.

A high-pitched siren goes off. It’s the tsunami warning, telling us to evacuate.

I turn off the propane in the shed. Then I’m standing on the boardwalk, watching snowflakes come down, eye-balling the level of water in the Slough, when a car pulls up. It’s Cassidi, our City Manager. She’s been driving around, checking on folks, making sure everyone’s awake and that we get to higher ground. She tells me the school is open as an emergency shelter, and I feel a wave of relief (ah, terrible pun!) wash over me. I’d imagined huddling under a spruce tree, somewhere uphill, shivering in the cold. Cassidi says the tsunami warning will be in place until 2:55 AM.

Walt & Sachiko and I start walking. Walt leaves The Barn door open. I leave The Shack door closed. We’ll see what happens.

They stop to get Walt’s Model A pickup, and head out the road to their friends’ place. I arrive at the school and join about 30 other folks in the carpeted multi-purpose room. I think about the custodians, Renee and Stacy, and how they’ll have a heck of a mess to clean up after all this, since none of us took off our boots when we walked in. It’s been almost exactly an hour since I was awoken by the earthquake.

I join a bunch of friends at one of the tables. Everyone is in mild disarray, hair uncombed, various layers of pajama, fleece, and wool showing. Half of the folks forgot their glasses or hearing aids or both, so there’s some friendly shouting going on. I try to use my laptop to get on the internet, but the school’s wifi is restricted. People with smart phones can use their data, and a few updates from the outside world trickle in. Rumors of water being sucked out of the harbor on Kodiak. Questions about aftershocks. Reminiscences of the devastating 1964 Good Friday earthquake. Andrew, the volunteer fire chief, sits down next to me for a while. He tells me all the emergency vehicles have been moved up to higher ground near the school. The police chief, Robin, and the harbormaster, Layla, have checked the harbor. We can only think of two people currently living on their boats right now, and hope they’ve been contacted and told to leave. But they aren’t here with us at the school, so we don’t really know if they’re ok.

After about an hour, boredom sets in. Everyone’s yawning. The kids are playing Yahtzee, and occasionally a ping pong game starts up. Dogs are out in the cars in the parking lots, probably getting cold by now. I go for two walks, one to take Bianca, my Schnauzer friend, for a stroll, and one to call my parents. At least my cell phone works.


Ping pong at the Susan B. English School, 2:10 AM. 

Around three, Joe starts to agitate, wants to go home. We talk him down. (“Don’t go now, it’s right when the wave is supposed to hit!) At 3:12 AM, the tsunami warning is cancelled, and downgraded to a tsunami advisory. “I don’t know what ‘advisory‘ means, but I don’t think I want to go home yet.” I say out loud. Tania immediately invites me to her house, and puts me to bed in a cozy room with clean sheets and a dyne (Norwegian word for duvet.) It takes a while to fall asleep, after all that adrenaline and social interaction, but soon I drift off and sleep so soundly that I miss a couple of texts from friends, trying to find out if I’m ok. When I wake up, it’s almost 10 AM. We’re so fortunate: the power is on and the house is warm and dry. Tania & Tobben feed me a full Norwegian breakfast with coffee and soft-boiled eggs and pickled herring and Jarlsberg and codfish caviar pate and homemade bread and jam…. we talk about books and travel, sailing and islands, earthquakes and dogs, hiking and trails. It’s all quite leisurely, until I suddenly realize that my Facebook post from ten hours ago was a cliffhanger. There are probably people who are wondering if I’m alive!

I start walking home. Town is quiet, a few snowflakes falling on the deserted streets. I come around the corner and see it: The Shack is still standing. Judging by the high water mark from this morning’s high tide (17.1 feet) we didn’t even get a surge. It all looks pretty normal.

What the heck do you do after a tsunami alert? I’m sleep-deprived but jangled. There’s still half a cord of wood to stack, but before I get started my friend Valisa texts to tell me that there’s been a Surf Scoter hanging around by the mouth of the harbor. I’d like to get a photo of one, and a recorded sighting for town (usually these sea ducks are farther out and can’t be seen from the harbor), so I grab my camera and head outside. Yes! I’ll go birding. That’ll make me feel more normal.

Right outside the door I notice weasel tracks in the snow, on the porch, and all over the boardwalk. I follow the tracks toward the Barn, and see a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. This little critter is fast and agile! I’m very glad I am not a vole, chicken, or squirrel. I’m very glad to be alive. I’m very glad that the tsunami did not arrive.


I went looking for a Surf Scoter but got this weasel instead.


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Captain’s Log 13 – Bubbly

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 3:30 PM: Le bateau est fini!

I finished painting the boat yesterday, and today I peeled all the blue masking tape off of the fittings and the trim strip along the rail. Walt helped get me set up to install the hatch cover. He picked out all the tools I needed, found some stainless steel screws in his collection, and gave me a tube of “The Right Stuff,” sticky gasket goop. Then he left me alone in his shop so I could do it myself. Perfect!

That was the last step; so I guess I’m done? It seems impossible, after working on this project for the last five weeks. And maybe a bit anticlimactic. Like any big project or undertaking, the loss of momentum at the end can be a bit disorienting. I’ll be keeping the fire going for a few days, using the last scraps of chainsaw carving competition wood in the barrel stove, hoping the paint will harden up and cure. We set the date for Friday to move the boat out of the Barn.

It’s hard to tell, with it under fluorescent lights, what it will look like when it’s outside in the sun. And of course it’s perfect and spotless and so clean right now, almost like a shiny new toy. I do like how the anti-skid surfaces turned out, on the deck and the seats. It looks really good, professional. The paint has a high gloss to it, so under the artificial light it glares so bright the colors are almost not visible — just the shine. It needs some beach sand, bird shit, and fish blood to make it real.


Chuuchki, all clean and shiny.

Maybe it feels anticlimactic because, really, I should be able to splash her later this week, instead of putting her on a trailer for the winter. She will be parked at the end of the street, not to be used until spring. So sad.

December 6: Boat drying/hardening. Keeping the fire going.

December 7: The boat is still drying. Birded town, worked on French vocabulary (birds and maritime terms). Did household chores. Had a French lesson. Watched a movie. It’s almost back to normal life. But I feel a bit lost, without my sense of purpose.

Friday, December 8, 2017: 10:00 AM. Joe, Walt, Sachiko, Jean Luc, Cecile and I rendezvoused at the Barn. We flipped the boat over onto Joe’s trailer, Walt tied it down with some fancy fisherman’s knots, and we rolled her out across the glare ice to the neighbors’ yard. Cecile took photos. I used the very last chunk of chainsaw competition wood as a block under the trailer tongue. No champagne, no launch… it just didn’t feel quite right!


Joe, Walt, Jean Luc, Sachiko, me. Ready to “launch” the boat — to her winter parking spot. (Photo by Cecile.)


Joe performs very well, even with three supervisors watching. (Photo by Cecile.)

We had a Gingerbread People Party at Joe & Carla’s tonight. Carla baked some giant gingerbread cookies; each one filled an entire cookie sheet. Jean Luc and Cecile brought a bottle of Italian “champagne,” Prosecco bubbly. I set it on the deck outside the back door, so it could chill in the winter night air.

Fourteen of us enjoyed each others’ company, roasted hot dogs over the fire in the fireplace, told stories, laughed. The little ones (and a few of us oldsters, too) decorated the gingerbread people. The kids got a loopy on sugar, and played a game of hide and seek, dodging behind the living room chairs. At just the right time, I retrieved the bubbly from the deck, popped the cork, and shared toasts all around. I think I said something like, “To Chuuchki! And to all of you, my Seldovia family. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

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Captain’s Log 12 – Clothespins

Monday December 4, 2017: I can’t believe I forgot about the clothespins! When Megan and I were crossing the Atlantic on Roger’s boat, Vittoria, we found some clothespins on board and were hanging laundry out to dry on the rigging. Roger came flying out of the cockpit, yelling at us, “Not the green ones! Never use the green ones!” We were momentarily taken aback, until he explained to us that it is terrible luck to have anything green on board a ship. (Obviously, green is the color of land, so you’ll run aground if you have green on a boat.) I had to be cheeky, of course, and point out that Roger was the one who had the green clothespins on his boat, so, since they were here already, why not use them? “They came as part of the set; I can’t throw them overboard because they’re plastic. Just leave them in the box and I’ll get rid of them in the next port!” We obliged — he was the captain so we had to do what he said, no matter how nonsensical it might seem to us — and only used the pink, blue, and red clothespins after that. Sure enough, I started looking around the boat and couldn’t find any other green object on board.

I was reminded about all this today when I was over at Joe and Carla’s this morning. We were standing in the kitchen and Joe said, “Why’d you paint it green? Didn’t you know green is bad luck for boats?”

I think I actually smacked myself in the forehead. I remembered the clothespins. As Captain Roger would say, “Further Training Required.” He was of the firm belief that any neophyte should be told a new bit of information only one time, and then remember it forever. How could I have forgotten the lesson of the green clothespins?

So, here I am, having just finished painting my boat green and grey today!

Because Chuuchki is a rowboat, and she will be used for gunkholing (not bluewater sailing), and she will be dragged up and down beaches, and she will most likely be “docked” on the beach itself, she may be exempt from this No Green rule. I’ll just be sure never to whistle while on board or bring any bananas or step onto the boat with my left foot first or start my journeys on Fridays. That should do it. I think we’ll be okay.


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Captain’s Log 11 – Go Green!

Sunday December 3, 2017: It was a momentous day today. December’s full moon, the highest tide of the year, and pouring rain. My neighborhood make-up shifted again, as Walt and Sachiko came home and Jean Luc, Cecile & Ulysse moved out of Walt and Sachiko’s house and back to their boat. It’s great to have Walt & Sachiko back, but I will certainly miss the French folk. This project would never have happened without them.

…And, I painted Chuuchki today!

I started out by making a To Do List and the sequence of tasks, to keep me on track. I wonder if one can absorb paint fumes through the skin? Because, even though I’ve been wearing a respirator and long-sleeve shirt and nitrile gloves, I sure feel spaced out. There seems to be a bit of confusion and short term memory trouble. So, on the back of some scrap paper, I made a guide for today and tomorrow’s tasks:


I love how this says “WRONG WAY” right in the middle there. I hope it’s not an ominous portent!

Built a fire in the Barn, first thing. The giant piece of chainsaw-carving scrap I put in there yesterday is still burning. That piece will have lasted two full days by the time it is entirely ash. Sifted all the sawdust through the hand-crank sifter. Sanded everything topsides, with 120 grit sandpaper. Wiped it all down with acetone. Cleaned off and re-taped all the fittings, oarlocks, etc. Cut in the grey paint on the sides, seat supports and deck. Thankfully, the grey paint is a bit darker than the primer, so I can see where I’ve painted. It’s a nice grey, much prettier than the primer.


The topsides paint is shiny and a bit prettier than the flat battleship grey primer.

Rolled the sides and deck grey, then sprinkled sawdust onto the surface for the anti-skid. My hope is that the sawdust will stick to that first layer of paint, and stay put when I roll the second coat. It was hard to get it nice and even, but I think I did an ok job. It worked best if I held just a tiny amount of sawdust with my fingertips, and sprinkled it from up high. There’s a slight breeze in the Barn, from the fan I’ve had running constantly. It caught the sawdust and spread it like seeds on the wind.


First coat of topsides grey finished, with anti-skid sawdust on deck.

Then, the moment of truth, the beginning of the end: I opened the can of Jade Green, and started cutting in on the seats. My first thought as I laid down the color was, “Oh no! People will think this is an MSU fan’s boat – Sparty colors!” Now, if you are not from Michigan, this maybe doesn’t mean anything to you. Let’s just say that the Michigan State University Spartans and the University of Michigan Wolverines have an epic rivalry.


Sparty chompin’ down on a U of M Wolverine.

People coordinate the colors of their wardrobe, their cars, houses, bathrooms and so on in their school colors, to reflect their loyalties. MSU is green and white, U-M is maize and blue. I’m probably one of the few people from the Mitten State who is in neutral territory on this issue. So I certainly don’t want to paint my boat Sparty colors. It never occurred to me when I picked out the green, which I’d hoped would be a nice contrast to the pale turquoise hull, and perhaps would draw out some of the turquoise’s green. At least Chuuchki’s interior is grey, not white, and I think the Jade Green is a richer, brighter green than Sparty Green.


Chuuchki’s colors on the left, Sparty colors on the right. Oh, crap. I guess they are pretty similar.

Maybe the Sparty theme could be minimized if I leave the seats grey, and only paint the rail green? Cecile insists that the seats should be green. “I know I’m right,” she said. She’s French, so of course she has excellent fashion and design sense, and I trust her implicitly. So I rolled the seats and sprinkled a bit of sawdust (not as much as on deck), and cut in and rolled the rails green.

Walt and Sachiko got home from Japan today, right as I was finishing up the painting. Rosanna and Rob and Zach stopped by to do a High Tide Welfare Check on me (to see if the Shack was flooding), and they all said yes on the green seats. Jean Luc happened by and peeked in, just said, “You do?” I said, “Yes, I do. I’m doing it!” He said, “Nice,” but nothing else, so I don’t know whether he approves or not.

I took off the respirator and helped Walt and Sachiko unload groceries and luggage and beer from Green Betty (Walt’s vintage pickup, who is definitely NOT Sparty green), and breathed great gulps of fresh air while we carried stuff down the boardwalk. The air smelled insanely good — Sitka spruce and seaweed, high tide ocean freshness. Let it flood all my blood cells and wash them clean.

Tomorrow: One more coat of paint! Then put the hatch cover on and I’m done.

Ulysse stuck his head in the door of the Barn and had this reaction to the green: “Why you paint it this color? I do not like this color. Why not test on a piece of wood first?” Great. Thanks for your vote of confidence, kid. I guess I can paint it something else in the spring, if I decide I don’t like it. Maybe I’ll switch to maize and blue, instead.


Chuuchki’s first coat of paint, with anti-skid sawdust showing on deck. Only one more coat of paint to go!

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Captain’s Log 10 – Sifter

Saturday December 2, 2017: Sanded the first coat of battleship-grey primer with 120 grit sandpaper. Wiped everything down with acetone. Painted the second (and final) coat of primer. It took exactly the same amount of time as the first coat (1 hr 15 minutes), but used a little bit less paint.

Tested the green paint (it’s a bit darker than I thought it would be but maybe it will look good in the sunshine?) and tried the sifter with the sawdust. The plan is to paint the first coat of deck paint and sprinkle the sawdust on it while the paint is wet. Then paint over it with the final coat of deck paint. This will provide some traction on the deck, to prevent slips and falls later, especially when wet.


Sifting sawdust from Joe’s shop, trying to get just the finest bits to use on the deck as anti-skid texture.


Sprinkle-test: will this sawdust work with the paint? Also, that Jade Green is much darker than I thought it would be.

I thought I’d be able to sprinkle the sawdust by holding the sifter over the deck, and turning the crank. But the little metal bar that rotates inside the sifter dumps out a whole bunch of sawdust at once, then none until the bar comes around again. So, I will have to hand-sprinkle it. This reminds me of planting seeds, grassland restoration, farming. Not for the first time during this project, I am surprised by some random old life-skill coming into play while I’m working on this boat. Farming: seeds. Quilting: patterns and cutting fabric. Seabird grubbing and yoga: proprioception. Cooking: mixtures and recipes. Baking: how to use a sifter. Painting rooms and houses: cutting in and rolling. OSHA training and oil-spill preparedness: knowing how to read material safety data sheets and which personal protective equipment to wear. My thoughts have started to drift in a meditative state while I’m working, making connections, feeling inspired: a sure sign that I am “in the zone” on this project.

Or maybe I’m just high on paint fumes.

It’s dump day today, so I recruited Joe to give me a ride out there. I collected all the trash from the project (mostly yogurt containers) and emptied Walt’s Barn trash can. He’ll be home tomorrow and I don’t want his shop to look completely trashed. I had burned a lot of the stir sticks, paint brushes, acetone rags, and paper towels as I went along, so there really wasn’t that much garbage. Turns out it’s pretty handy to have a woodstove in the shop, in spite of those fears of explosion and destruction by fire. I also cleaned out Walt’s shop vac and even wiped it out with acetone to get rid of the fiberglass dust. Nasty stuff!

Two coats of paint to go, then I’m done!

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Captain’s Log 9 – Ceilidh

Friday December 1, 2017

It was a huge, busy day in the Barn today. Got up early so I could bake cornbread in the morning, then flipped the boat at 9:00 am with Jean Luc & Cecile. [I’d never have been able to do this project without them!] I spent an hour and a half sanding the patched rail, breaking a sweat, and then Jean Luc walked in and said, “Why you waste your time? Just use the machine.” This is the third time he’s said that to me!

We inspected the repairs and decided that we needed a bit more “pasta” for the damaged rail, as well as the cracked starboard rear corner. This was more of a fine filler, though, not the sawdust/epoxy/fabric mix like before. The stuff had a part A and part B, and all the instructions were in Korean. (Jean Luc bought it there.) Luckily, he knows how to mix it, without having to read the instructions! We applied that, and I left around mid-day to go in search of sawdust to use as anti-skid for the penultimate layer of paint on the deck and seats. Jean Luc suggested fine sawdust, and I knew right where to find it.

Joe’s shop: seems like it’s been ages since I’ve visited. Usually, this time of year, I would be over there every day, working on Christmas presents. But I’ve been a bit sidetracked this year by a little boat project…

Of course, Joe had some sawdust that I could take, and even had an old hand-crank flour sifter I could borrow, to get just the finest textured dust. I will experiment and see whether it will work. Carla came out to the shop and the three of us stood there by the wood stove for a while, visiting. For at least twenty years, Joe has kept a big rock on top of his wood stove. It heats up as the wood burns, releasing all those summers of sunshine. The top of the rock is shiny and smooth from years of Joe warming his hands on it. As we stood there chatting, I placed my over-worked, aching (dare I say, arthritic?) hands on the rock. At first it is agonizing, way too hot for my winter-chilled skin. But soon the cold leaves me. And then the heat soaks into the meat of my hands, then the tendons, the joints, the bones, and finally, the marrow. After five minutes, I feel like I’ve been to the sauna, the spa. I walk back to my boat project, renewed.

In the afternoon, I sanded EVERYTHING topsides. Big job. I finally figured out — just go straight to the grinder, skip the hand sanding. I don’t want to hear Jean Luc say it again. There was still a little divot in the rail repair, so I scrounged around on Walt’s shelves and found some Bondo.


Wood, screws, wood shavings, fiberglass bits, resin, fiberglass cloth, Korean pasta, Bondo, and lots of sanding — the finished rail repair. I should have taken a close-up. It reminds me of the Painted Desert.

Vacuumed the whole boat, then wiped everything down with acetone to get the sanding dust off. I slosh that stuff around so blithely these days, “low flash point,” whatever.

Masked all the trim pieces, oarlocks, etc with blue tape.

Started mixing about a quart of the epoxy primer at 5:00 pm. I did 8 ounces of Part B, poured into Mom’s grape jelly jar almost all the way to the top. Poured the Part B into 32 ounces of Part A (measured in a quart yogurt container), mixing it all in a Nancy’s 64 oz. plain yogurt tub. What would I do without yogurt containers!?

I let the Parts A and B “induct” or “sweat in” for the appropriate 15 minutes. Started cutting in with a chip brush at 5:15, and finally rolled it all. Finished up at about 6:30. That amount of paint was just about perfect. Had a little bit leftover.

She looks good! Grey all over now, goodbye bright blue rail, goodbye nice-looking wood showing on the deck. Almost sad to see it go. Chuuchki suddenly now looks almost like new, except for the “piercings” from previous attachments and accoutrements. I’ll have to figure out where to put my gimballed beverage holder (birthday present from Carla), and Joe’s big halibut-line cleat will go back on the middle seat, of course. Other than that, I think I will keep her pretty clean. Maybe add lights eventually.


First coat of primer. Looks like a battleship or something. This makes me think of the Cleadale Crofting Museum on Eigg: the man of the house had worked in the shipyards, and, being a thrifty Scot, much of the interior of the house was painted with battleship grey. 


The damaged rail, repaired. Sure, there’s a little wiggle in it, but I doubt anyone will ever notice. Plus, it’s stronger now than it was when it was new!

Kari stopped by this afternoon, peeked in the door and said, “It’s a vintage boat.” I hadn’t thought of it that way, and really like the idea. Maybe I can find some 1968-period cushions for the seats. She speculated that it’d be a real slug to row, but I said my experience so far has been otherwise. (My little Chuuchki secret!)

Joe came over a bit later, to check on my progress. “I like to see you fixing up this boat, taking care of it,” Joe said. “Usually these skiffs just get used up and thrown away.”

I’m high as a kite, but not in a fun way. I wish I had other cartridges for my respirator, as I think these are probably no good anymore. I wonder, not for the first time, if I get enough oxygen breathing through this thing? Joe sent me a text late in the day: “Did you succumb?” I assured him I was still alive, but would be a bit late to the dance.

After cleaning up the painting tools, I had to rush, take a shower, get dressed, grab the cornbread, and hike up to the Sea Otter Center for the potluck – Billygoat concert – square dance. In other words, the ceilidh. Pronounced “kay-lee,” this is a Scots/Irish word for a dance party. It was a “dry” event, but I felt drunk and even a bit hysterical. Ah, toxic fumes… it helped to dance and sweat it out a little bit and drink lots of water, but still… it feels like poison. I’m glad I’m almost done with that stuff. Hoping the two coats of polyurethane aren’t as bad.

Billygoat played lots of good old-timey fiddle tunes, and Mark Janes was our caller. We did the Virginia Reel and the Texas Star, and lots of standard moves like do-si-do, promenade, swing your partner, and so on. Andrew was my dance partner and every time the spin came around, we would hold on double-handed and spin, really fast, and just yell exuberantly in each other’s faces while we were going around. The little white Christmas lights strung up around the room streaked by in a glittery blur, just Andrew’s face in focus. I never fell down, but a few times I felt my face scrunched up while I tried not to bust out shrieking with laughter. Fortunately, it was a fairly raucous gathering, so I think we actually blended into the crowd pretty well. The last dance featured pairs of dancers, one in a wheeled office chair, one doing the wheeling. I doubt any ceilidh in Scotland has ever seen the like.


A photo of some random people at a ceilidh, spinning. But this is what Andrew and I must have looked like.

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