Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

A Remedy for what ails you

Wishful thinking department

There are two ways to look at boats for sale and avoid buying one. First, you can look at boats that there is no way you can afford, with the idea that it’s wishful thinking for the future. That’s one of the things we did yesterday when we looked at
Remedy, a 45-foot Hunter that is for sale but at a much higher price than we can afford. Ed was kind enough to give us the royal tour, which involved more than just looking at how pretty the boat was, although we certainly did a lot of that. Pat was also interested in things like how the boat’s systems worked, and this boat certainly has a lot of fancy stuff. It’s big enough to have a huge salon and two spacious staterooms, both with great heads. The forward head is electric. And attached to the master stateroom is a tub-shower – that’s right, this sailboat actually has a bathtub! It also has air conditioning and plenty of other amenities. It wouldn’t be too difficult to live on this boat. It would, however, be difficult to buy the boat. Something like Remedy would be part of the future retirement plan, in which we sell the house in Albuquerque and make Five O’Clock Somewhere our main home, and use the proceeds from the sale of the Albuquerque house to buy a boat, which we would then keep as our second home someplace warm.

The other way to look at boats for sale is to go to the yacht brokerage at some time when it is closed. That’s what we did after looking at Remedy. We wandered around the boats at a brokerage in Seabrook, where we saw such things as a 31 foot Bombay Clipper outfitted for sea voyaging for a mere $27K. Way too dangerous to look as such a boat when the brokerage is open; it might just follow us home.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Chez Gerard, Houston, Texas

It’s good to have good friends.

After many days in the twilight world of relying on public Internet access, we have arrived at the new home of a childhood friend of Pat’s. The house itself is something of a work in progress, since Gerard and Rhonda have been working on remodeling the place since they bought it a year ago. But their computer system is working well, and they have high-speed Internet access, so I can get online at speeds greater than I am accustomed to.

The house itself is something of a marvel. It was originally designed by an architect in the 1960s, and it retains some of the flavor that might be observed in an early James Bond movie. The remodeling has removed some of the more dated clichés, but Gerard has had a lot of fun installing such fun features as cinema-style lighting throughout the house (computer controlled dimmer switches and stuff that take some getting used to, but boy are they fun). The bathrooms, also, are still works in progress, but they are also playgrounds of technology.

Oh, yes, the kitchen is also – or will be when it’s finished – a fantastic blend of technology and fun.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

They Call Them “Winter Texans”

I think about half the Upper Midwest must be down here.

Here in South Texas, many businesses thrive serving those who come south during the winter to escape the vicious cold weather elsewhere. These escapees, mostly active retired people, are known sometimes as “snowbirds,” but the generally preferred term is “Winter Texans.” That term implies that, for at least a couple of months of the year, these people consider themselves citizens of the Lone Star State. Throughout the Rio Grande Valley, one can see car license plates from many points north; in just half an hour today, I saw plates from Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Delaware, New Hampshire, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario. Oh, and of course, New Mexico.

Nearly as numerous is a category of visitors who aren’t escaping from northern climates. Their license plates are from Tamaulipas, Neuvo Leone, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Chihuahua, Veracruz, and Districto Federal. These visitors are typically found concentrated in the vicinity of malls and major stores, and they are known as “shoppers.”

Edit: Added photo, fixed grammar 12/31/05

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 12

More revelations

I’m off the grid except for occasional encounters with whatever Internet connections I find on my travels. Still, the weekly Wizards episode is better late than never. Now Sarah and Pierre are learning some new details. Watch out for those fortune cookies!

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 12

Pierre went to the armoire and opened it to reveal a computer work station and a filing cabinet. “I’d been hunting for Eliza for a long time,” he said. “I need to show you what I’ve got so far.” He powered up the computer. “I’d pretty much given up on the search a few years ago. I’d been hitting nothing but dead ends for so long, I’d lost hope. Then two years ago, you showed up at the docks, and something should have rung a bell.”

“I just went down there because I was curious. I didn’t know that I’d get hooked on sailing.”

“And then when you went to get a boat of your own, you got one just like mine!”

“Technically, it’s not really mine. I couldn’t afford to buy one. Runyon lent it to me.”

“And why did he lend you that particular boat, and not some other? He’s got plenty.”

“Okay, it sounds hokey, but as soon as I touched it, I felt it vibrate. It seemed to be calling to me, ‘I’m yours.’ Now I know it’s the magic, and that boat was really meant to be mine. Runyon must have known it, too.”

The computer finished starting up. “Let me show you why I’ve been such an idiot. I should have known you when I saw you.” He made a few mouse clicks, and the computer’s disk started whirring as it launched a program. “This is the software that missing-persons organizations use. It takes a child’s photo, then combines the image with the parents’ adult photos, to predict what the child will look like as he or she grows up. Here’s Eliza as a two-year-old, the last picture I have of her.” The photo was a portrait of a dark-haired, dark-eyed toddler with an elfin smile. “At the time I gave up the search, I had put in my photo, and Dora’s” – here he brought up an image of a fair-skinned, dark-haired woman with movie-star good looks – “and I got an image of Eliza at eighteen. Let’s see what happens when I age her to twenty-two.”

Pierre made a few more mouse clicks, and an image drew itself on the screen. Suddenly I realized I was looking at – me! The hair was longer, and the skin was a bit paler, and the girl on the screen didn’t have the little scar on the left cheek that I had gotten in a childhood bicycling accident, but that girl on the screen could have been my twin. “God,” I said, “it looks like you may be right.”

“Please, don’t call me that. I may have magic, but I’m no deity.” Pierre reached out and took my hand. “It’s funny, really. All those years I was looking for Eliza, I was wondering whether she would love boats. I imagined being with her, and teaching her to sail, and hoping she’d take to it. And it turns out that for the past two years, I have been teaching her to sail!”

“But wait, we don’t know that for sure. Maybe it’s all just a coincidence. Surely there are a lot of girls out there that look like me. I’ve been Sarah all my life, not Eliza.”

“Look, I’m sure. When my second wife ran away with you, she must have changed your name and hers, as part of her plan to escape from anyone who was searching for the two of you.” He reached out and hugged me. “That’s why the magic was drawing us together. Yes, we were meant to be together, because you’re my flesh and blood – mine and Dora’s. And you’re a whole lot like her, too. She’s the only one who could ever beat me consistently in match racing – until you came along. Just like you, she seemed to know what move I was going to make even before I knew it.”

“Well, if I am your daughter, I guess I’m glad I inherited Dora’s nose and not yours,” I said, pointing to the image on the computer screen, of the woman with a slender nose, high cheekbones, arching eyebrows and full lips. “She was gorgeous. How did you two get together?”

“We did make rather an odd couple to look at. We were both on the Olympic team that wasn’t. We met, and one thing led to another, and before too long we were married and had a baby daughter, and we were leading the perfect life.” Pierre’s face clouded over. “That is, until the cancer took over. It happened so quickly; one day she was all right, and just a few months later, she was dead.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Don’t be. That was a long time ago. And I do now have you, and that’s a reason to celebrate.” He went into the kitchen, where he got a bottle of Dom Perignon out of the fridge and two crystal champagne flutes from the cabinet, while I settled on the sofa in the living room. Pierre popped the cork, poured two glasses, handed one to me, and raised the other in a toast. “To finding what was lost!”

As our glasses clinked together, I looked into Pierre’s face and saw the biggest smile I had ever seen on it, not merely happy, but out-and-out jubilant. I took a sip of the champagne, which was lightly tangy with tiny, tingly bubbles. Almost instantly, I felt the dizzying effect of the alcohol in the bubbles. “Whoa, I don’t think I’ve had champagne like this before! Is this another magic thing like the clothes?”

“No, nothing like that. This is simply the magic of very high quality champagne.”

“Well, if I am your daughter, I guess I could get used to a higher-quality lifestyle.” I took another sip of the champagne. “But I’m still not sure about this whole thing, though. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t call you ‘Dad,’ at least quite yet.”

“Since you’ve always known me as ‘Pierre,’ it wouldn’t be fair to expect you to change that. And I’ll keep calling you ‘Sarah,’ as well. It’s how you know yourself.”

I looked over to the dining table, where our mostly finished dinner sat, and I saw the two fortune cookies. I went over and picked them up, handing one to Pierre, and we went back to sit on the sofa together. “Let’s see what our fortunes have to say,” I said.

Pierre cracked his cookie open and pulled out the slip of paper. “Lost is found, and found is lost,” he read. “Well, I get the part about lost being found – that’s obvious now. It’s that second part that worries me.”

“It is rather cryptic, isn’t it?” I said. “But then, fortune cookies are supposed to be inscrutable.” I broke open my cookie and looked at the slip inside it. “Make the most of a new day,” I read out loud.

“Now, that, I can agree with,” Pierre said, picking up his champagne glass in a toast. “To a new day!”

Pierre dimmed the lights, and we sat together on the sofa in a light hug, sipping champagne in silence, watching the lights on the bay and the half moon, made large by the optical illusion of being close to the horizon and orange by the atmosphere, setting among the boat masts.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hillcrest Inn, Kerrville, Texas

There’s no place like home, but some places can come close.

Pat and I have been regular guests at the Hillcrest for about 20 years. We first came here when Pat’s grandmother lived in Kerrville and his uncle lived just outside of town. Now, his grandmother is dead, and his uncle moved to San Antonio, but Kerrville is a good stop on the way to visit his dad in McAllen, so we still stop at the Hillcrest when we go.

The virtue that originally attracted us to the Hillcrest was that it not only allowed pets but welcomed them. Back in the old days, we had a 14-pound orange tabby cat named Shere Khan, and he often traveled with us; he enjoyed riding in the car the way many dogs do. So it was good to find a place that we could take him. It didn’t hurt that the Hillcrest was also affordable, an important criterion when we were starving young college students.

The place isn’t exactly fancy, but it’s clean and the people who run it are great. It’s actually rather similar to one of our other favorite lodgings, the Charles Motel in T or C – in fact, the fixtures in the bathroom and kitchenette here are identical to those in the “new” part of the Charles, late 1960s American Standard (also just like most of the houses in the neighborhood I grew up in). And both places are run by people who know us and are interested in how we’re doing. The people here made a special point of seeing WCMIK and commenting on how much he’s grown, and remembering when he was a baby.

We had supper at another favorite place of ours, the Lakehouse Restaurant, which features southern style cooking and catfish. Lots of catfish. Catfish with grilled chicken. Catfish with fried chicken. Catfish with shrimp. Catfish with pork chops. Catfish with steak. Catfish with chicken-fried steak. Catfish with catfish. OK, if you look at the menu real hard, you can find some things you can order that don’t involve catfish – and, in fact, we all had non-catfish dishes this evening; the sirloin was excellent. But the catfish is so good, you can’t go wrong with that, either. The breading is exactly right, not too thick, but perfectly crispy, and the fish is cooked perfectly, with no raw bits but also not overcooked, moist and flaky and not the least bit rubbery. And if you’re really hungry, a mere eleven bucks gets you all the catfish you can eat (plus shrimp and other stuff as well).

Back at the motel a short while ago, I was writing at the table in the kitchenette by the window, and I heard a sound outside. At first, I thought it was a dog barking, but it was the weirdest dog barking that I’d ever heard. Then I realized it wasn’t a dog – there were wild turkeys out there, just as there are at this time of year at Five O’Clock Somewhere. The Texas Hill Country is swarming with hunters, all complaining about the difficulty of tracking down the elusive game, including turkeys, and here are a bunch of them right out back of the motel room. It’s the same way in Rio Arriba County, and maybe everywhere else where hunting is a major activity: The turkeys, deer, or other game animals are extremely elusive out in the field, but anywhere hunting is not allowed, it’s hard to avoid them. Don’t ever let anybody tell you turkeys are not smart.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays

Ahoy, Santa!

When I got back to Albuquerque from Five O'Clock Somewhere yesterday, I discovered that Pat and WCMIK had put together a Christmas display using our fleet of Sunfish.

Feliz Navidad from the desert sea.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Accidental Voyage

What is accidental, really?

I spent a large part of today in the kitchen, doing holiday cooking. I baked a loaf of pumpernickel bread (very successful) and a chocolate mocha mousse cake (far from perfect, but it was a new recipe, and I now know what to do differently next time), and of course, I made the tamales. Once they were steaming away, it was time for me to relax. I noticed in the newspaper TV listings that one of Fuego’s movies was on, but then I discovered that the channel it was on wasn’t part of the package we have from our satellite company.

I then noticed something called Los Gitanos del Mar (The Sea Gypsies) on one of the Spanish-language channels, so I decided to take a look. A lot of times, the Spanish-language channels will offer English subtitles on the second channel of closed captioning, but that wasn’t the case this time. My Spanish is rudimentary, so I couldn’t really understand the details of the plot, but at least I could enjoy looking at the pretty boat. However, the movie was also extremely hokey and unrealistic (kid falls overboard, rest of family doesn’t notice for some time, then father turns boat around without doing anything to the sails, amazingly, they end up back where the kid went over, pulling the kid out of the water is no problem – anybody who’s done proper MOB training would know it’s way hard even with a floating dummy head – and when the kid arrives on deck, he’s bone dry). So I went channel surfing and found this series called Accidental Voyage on the R&R Channel.

I’d been a wee bit miffed when the satellite company dropped the Outdoor Life Network and replaced it with R&R (I can’t remember exactly what the abbreviation stands for, but it’s something like Resorts & Recreation). OLN had been good about showing sailing; it carried nearly all of the racing in the last America’s Cup, for instance. R&R tends to focus more on things that go vroom, like hydrofoil racing boats.

However, Accidental Voyage is definitely NOT about things that go vroom. It is the chronicle of some sailors wandering around the South Pacific. The title comes from the history of the South Pacific: When a ship encountered an island that had not previously been charted, the incident was called an “accidental voyage.”

The cinematography is amateur, but the adventures are real – things like hiking up to a sacred waterfall on Nuku Hiva or visiting a black-pearl farm at Ate in the Tuamotus. I was pleased when at the end of the show, there was an announcement that there was a website to go to for ordering DVDs – I need to find one last, last-minute Christmas gift. Alas, the website appears to be under construction. Right now, it has one pretty picture and an email address to send comments to.

Oh, well.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Latitudes, Altitudes, and Attitudes

There are a lot of factors in this thing we call climate.

What first got me thinking about this idea was something I touched on in an earlier post, how the climate is so different in the two places we usually sail – here at Five O’Clock Somewhere on Heron Lake, and during the colder parts of the year, down south at Elephant Butte. The difference in climate comes both from altitude (Heron is about 7200 feet above sea level, while Elephant Butte is somewhere around 4000 feet) and from latitude (Heron is at about 37 degrees north; the Butte is about 33 and a half).

That led me to think about the various correspondents to this blog, to compare their locations, not just for sailing, but for general thinking about where they are. For locations in North America, I was able to get information from the American Map/Discovery Channel 2004 Road Atlas on latitude, although not on altitude. My southernmost regular is at 27N, and is probably barely above sea level. Definitely a warm place. I don’t currently have any regular commenters from San Diego, but if there were, they’d be just shy of 33N. Then there’s another regular at nearly 36N, inland enough that there must be some hills, but probably still fairly low altitude. My northernmost North American regular is a bit below 41N, and although not too far inland, the map does indicate hills.

Now for the really cold stuff. I have a few regulars in Europe. People tend to think that the United States and Europe are pretty directly across the Atlantic from each other, but that’s not the case – Europe’s a lot further north. The year I lived in a village in England, near Didcot, we looked at maps and found something interesting. If one starts in Didcot and travels due south until one gets to the latitude of Los Alamos, one is in Tunis. And if one starts in Didcot and goes due west until reaching the longitude of Los Alamos, one is in Saskatoon. Among my regular visitors, there are two at about 50N and one about 60N. I’m guessing both locations are fairly low altitude, but they’re still likely to be pretty darn cold.

There is currently a beer commercial, and before that, there was a song (by you-know-or-should-be-able-to-guess-who) about changing one’s latitude leading to a change in attitude. Presumably, being in a more southerly place also leads to a more laid-back approach to life. Well, yes, my southernmost regular is definitely a relaxed guy, and my northernmost North American regular is absolutely a go-getter. But my overall northernmost contributor is another really laid-back person. But wait, I may hear some of you saying, he’s an American transplant, so really, the latitude he came from is what counts. Well, if that’s the case, he’s from 43N.

So mellow isn’t necessarily related to being in a balmy climate. It probably also isn’t related to drinking a particular brand of beer – although a lot of that does happen at 50N.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas Tamales

A sweet tradition

Many years ago, when my grandfather was seriously ill, in El Paso, Texas, he and my grandmother hired a medical student from the university in Juarez, Mexico, to help take care of him. Julio was a wonderfully giving, caring person, and one Christmas, he brought a gift of tamales to the family.

In many Hispanic families, making tamales for the holidays is a special event. Whether the family is in Mexico, or has been in northern New Mexico for centuries, part of the family holiday festivities revolves around the tamales – all pitching in to knead the masa, or dough, and to assemble the dough and the fillings and wrap them properly in corn husks. Julio’s family in Juarez was no exception. He and his brothers and sisters and I have no idea how many other relatives got together to make the Christmas tamales. And that year, he shared those tamales with our family.

About half of the tamales were the usual sort, filled with meat that was highly seasoned with chile and spices. But the other half were not the usual sort – instead of spicy meat, these had raisins and dates and nuts, and they were seasoned with cinnamon. Instead of salsa, the garnish for these tamales was honey. They most definitely weren’t the usual hot tamales. Julio explained that those tamales were special for Christmas.

Since then, I have learned to make sweet Christmas tamales. Most people don’t understand them until they taste them – I remember one time I took them to a potluck dinner the theme of which was Christmas celebrations in other countries, and people kept relocating my tamales from the dessert table to the main dish table.

But I keep making those Christmas sweet tamales every year, and I remember Julio. He brought his family’s love to our family that year, at a time we really needed it.

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 11

Some Important Background
What you thought you knew, now you don’t know.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 11

When I woke up, the apartment was in darkness, with a faint afterglow of the setting sun in the sky beyond the bay. I was lying down, with my head in Pierre’s lap, and he was stroking my hair. “Good morning, sleepyhead,” he said, smiling.


“Well, actually, it’s about 8 p.m., but you did have a good long sleep. Last night, you did battle against the Others, and that’s always draining. Sometimes, after a battle, the combatants fall asleep and can’t be roused for 24 hours. And you did all of the fighting this time, without training, and without any help from me. You desperately needed the sleep. How are you feeling?”

“Better. Um, hungry. Were you just sitting there that whole time I was asleep?”

“From here on, I’m taking that guardian angel thing as seriously as possible. Actually, it was a pleasure.”

“Funny, even after what happened last night, maybe especially after what happened last night, I do feel safe.”

“Meanwhile, let’s do something about the hungry part.” We went to the kitchen to see what was in the fridge. It wasn’t much, unfortunately – some cheese and cold cuts, a couple of shriveled-up apples, some jars of long-expired condiments. The only things plentiful were beverages, the same large assortment I had seen on my previous visit to Pierre’s place. Beyond the fridge, the story was much the same – the elegant canisters on the counter for flour, sugar, and such were empty, and so were most of the cupboards. The pantry was absolutely bare.

“Is it too late to get Chinese take-out?” I asked. “I could go for some kung-pao chicken, and then tomorrow I can send you out to get proper groceries.”

Pierre was on the phone in an instant. “I want a pint of kung-pao chicken, a pint of sweet-and-sour shrimp, a quart of hot-and-sweet soup, two egg rolls, and steamed rice, not fried.” He paused a moment. “Yes, same address, same credit card.”

“Always the resourceful gigolo?” I asked.

“Hey, Chinese delivery is way better than Chinese take-out, if you don’t want to break the moment. And I always give the delivery boy a big tip, so he’s glad to make the delivery fast.”

Oh, that smile. Not a big grin, but a twitching upward of the corners of the mouth, and a pinching of the corners of the eyes; maybe – I wasn’t sure – there was a bit of a wink there. I could tell why so many women would want to take up with Pierre, despite his reputation. Even a short-term fling or one-night stand with him would be enjoyable, with his wit and sense of humor and all-over enjoyment of life. I realized that I was getting what possibly hundreds of women wished for but knew they couldn’t have: Pierre, indisputably and indivisibly mine, at least for the time being. Of course, there were a couple of flaws in the situation. The liaison wasn’t Pierre’s choice, and sex was off-limits.

The food arrived, and Pierre, as he’d said he would, tipped the delivery boy generously – about three times what would be normal. We set the dining table; Pierre’s fabulously expensive china and silver made a striking contrast to the cardboard and plastic containers the food came in, and the plastic chopsticks that it came with. Pierre served up the soup in his elegant soup bowls, and on the plates, he dished out rice, chicken, and shrimp, pouring the vividly red sweet-and-sour sauce over the shrimp. We ate in silence for a while, enjoying the food; it was definitely the best Chinese food I’d ever had, with red pepper and ginger and other spices I couldn’t identify, strong but well balanced.

“You know, there’s something that’s been bugging me,” I eventually said, “about the magic stuff and sex. I mean, if taking away virginity takes away powers, how come you still have yours? You’re not exactly a virgin. And then there’s Runyon and Sylvia. …”

“Well, there are definitely exceptions. Like, ninety-nine-point-nine percent of virgins lose their power when they lose their virginity, but even those who don’t lose it completely lose most of it. And for those of us who have training, there are spells of joining that preserve power – at least most of it. That’s how Runyon and Sylvia joined. There are rumors that sometimes joining even increases the power beyond what the two individuals had to start with, but I’ve never known an actual case.”

“But you never even knew you had power until long after. …”

“I’ve always wondered how much power I might have had before, if I still have as much as I do now. I’ve also thought maybe Dora was also one of us and didn’t know it, too. When we got married, maybe the vows worked sort of like the joining spell. Of course, the spirit of the joining also has an effect.”

“How so?”

“Love and respect increase the chance of the powers’ not being destroyed. But some circumstances can be disastrous. Rape, for instance. Not only does the victim lose all power; all of the power that the victim might have wielded in her lifetime is concentrated in a one-time backlash against the perpetrator, who, if lucky, will die a painfully agonizing death.”

“If lucky?”

“More often, the perpetrator goes insane, and spends the rest of his years in a state of complete mental torment. I can’t even imagine it. And then there’s incest – both parties end up insane and powerless.”

“Well, at least we don’t need to worry about that, do we?”

“Do we? … Now that I think about it. …”

“No, it can’t be.”

“Sure, it can. Look how many times people have said how alike we are.” Pierre was beginning to talk louder and faster, and he was trembling a little. “And your powers. If my first wife was also one of us, you would have inherited them from both sides, so that would explain why you’re so gifted. And there’s your sailing – any daughter of mine would definitely be at home on the water!”

“But I never even touched a boat until two years ago. My mother was so afraid of water, she never even wanted to live near the coast. I grew up as far inland as possible, in the Midwest, for Heaven’s sake.”

“Was she really your mother? Do you know for sure? And your father? You told me that neither of them really loved you. Maybe they weren’t really your parents!”

“I – I don’t know. …”

“And that explains a lot about last night’s attacks. If the Others could have succeeded – and face it, they came awfully close – that would have destroyed us both. It’s a good thing your powers were strong enough to break through so that even though you didn’t know about how the magic works, you felt the terror and got out.”

“It does almost begin to make sense. But, no, really, I can’t be your daughter. Wouldn’t I feel it if I were?”

“What do you feel?” Pierre asked.

I sat and thought for a moment. “Well … I want to be close to you. I want to do things for you, and touch you, and I want for you to be close to me.”

“Couldn’t that be the feelings of a child for a parent?”

“Well, I never felt that way about my mother and father, or about anybody else. How I feel is, um, well, maybe it’s love; I’ve never felt it before. But I don’t think it’s that kind of love.”

Pierre jumped up from his seat. “Come here and let me show you something,” he said, leading me into the bedroom.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The First Team Meeting

Excitement is building.

Today (Saturday), we had the first meeting of the women from the New Mexico and Rio Grande sailing clubs interested in forming teams to compete in the Adams Cup sailing race.

The plan is for the women of both clubs to work together, rotating boats and crewmates, with lots of coaching, pretty much every weekend from now through May and whatever midweek occasions we can manage, with the goal of putting together two excellent teams by the May 6 area finals. (Our area consists of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.) What has me really charged up is how much support we are getting from how many people. We actually have an organized coaching staff, with some very experienced sailors who are giving their time to help us all to get in shape and coordinated. A couple of our best racing skippers have made themselves available so that any time any of us can get to the lake, they will make time to come and help us, which is especially useful for people who can get extra time to work on building skills.

There is a huge time commitment involved in this whole racing team thing. Through some sort of odd karma or fate or cosmic alignment of the universe, I’m actually going to have more time than usual this term – every single weekend will be a four-day weekend, because I not only have Fridays off (aside from the occasional faculty meeting), but I will also have Mondays off, too. Two of the other sailors on the team – one trimmer, one foredeck – are retired and so don’t have to worry about the work week, and so it is likely the three of us will be doing a lot of work together.

However odd it may seem, right now, the concept of racing actually doesn’t look so hare-brained. Having a bunch of truly awesome coaches helps. They have more confidence in me than I have in myself, and I’m getting the idea that maybe I really can take the helm of a racing boat and do something with it.

Back years ago, when the all-women’s America3 team was sailing in the Americas Cup, Pat, Gerald, and I were coincidentally in the right place at the right time and got invited to join a behind-the-scenes tour for VIPs and big-money contributors, and we got to see things like the sail loft and the gym, and we saw the team come in from practice, with the crowd cheering for them. Now it feels like I am on the other side of that – I’m one of the ones getting cheered for. I sure hope I don’t let the fans down.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Poetry Corner: George Gordon, Lord Byron

The Navajos had the idea first, but Byron expresses it well.

Somewhere around chapter 30 or 32 of the Wizards, Sarah gets a makeover – not heavy-duty, but essentially polishing her already good looks. She shows up in a very sleek, midnight blue evening dress. Pierre, romantic that he is, immediately thinks of this poem – he is very much like Byron in many ways. There is a lot going on here, the beauty of darkness when balanced with the light in the darkness, and also the beauty of not being corrupted by the material world.

She Walks in Beauty

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o’er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek and o’er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

New poll: What to do with the Wizards

I’m at a crossroads right now.

I’m proud of the Wizards of Winds and Waves. I love putting up a new episode every week, in hopes that my loyal readers will enjoy the new developments in the story.

But I am disappointed that in recent weeks, every episode has continued to have that dreaded “0 comments” at the bottom. I don’t know whether that’s because nobody bothers to read the Wizards, or because people do read but don’t comment. Perhaps part of the problem has been that, while the readership of this blog is overwhelmingly male, the Wizards, of late, have been getting more touchy-feely, more like chick lit. Rest assured, more action is coming. It just takes time to get to it. This is a novel, after all.

Another issue also arises. When I first started to serialize the Wizards on this blog, the story was extremely vague and unplanned, and there was absolutely no way it would possibly be a marketable manuscript. Since then, I have found more of a focus, at least for the first two thirds of the novel. If I keep publishing the Wizards on the blog, I lose marketability, since publishers want to have the first rights to everything. However, I don’t know whether losing marketability would really mean losing that much. At an extremely wild guess, I would put the odds of the Wizards ever turning into a marketable novel at about 5%, or possibly less.

So I want your input. Do you want to continue to get a weekly episode of the Wizards? If so, would you like for me just to assume you like it, or will you post responses? And if you don’t want me to continue with the serialization of the Wizards, is that because you think it has commercial potential, or because you don’t enjoy it? Please be honest; the poll is anonymous.

My current plan is to continue to post episodes for four weeks. Then, I will look at poll results to decide what to do next.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 10

A Peaceful Interlude
What do you do when you’re running away from the bad guys? Well, if you’re our characters, you set up housekeeping in a well protected luxury condo, of course.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 10
So the three of us went to Pierre’s condo overlooking the marina, and Runyon made sure that Pierre and I were both going to stay put and follow orders before leaving. Pierre showed me how to operate the alarm system keypad – I noticed that the numerical code for it, 7486, corresponded to the letters in his personal magic code. “This isn’t an ordinary security system,” Pierre was saying. “It has all of the usual security for non-magic protection, but it also has magic protections as well. As long as you’re here, I’m keeping those set to the maximum settings. It’s a very bad idea for you to leave the place.”
“But if I’m staying here, I need some of my things.”
“I have plenty of stuff here that you can use – not just toiletries, but clothing items. But I understand if you’re not into the sort of garments I stock. I can go and get things from your apartment.”
“I need to go, too.”
“No, you don’t. Give me a list. I know women well enough to know what to look for. We can’t risk you being out in the open. Meanwhile, let me show you around the place.”
The parts of the condo that I hadn’t seen yet matched the parts I had. The bathroom did indeed have a fancy multi-nozzle shower, and a separate spa tub big enough for two people. The bedroom was huge, with a king-sized bed, a sitting area in the corner with armchairs and ottomans, two dressers – one for Pierre’s clothes, and one for “loaners” for his guests – two walk-in closets, similarly arranged, a plasma-screen television mounted on the wall where it could easily be watched from either the bed or the sitting area, and at the foot of the bed, an odd piece of furniture that looked a bit like an old-fashioned fainting couch, but not quite. “You can have the bed,” he said. “I’ll take that.” He pointed at the unusual piece of furniture. “It’s a slave bed, where the Southern belle’s slave would sleep, so she would always be available for whatever her mistress needed in the middle of the night. It’s about the most appropriate possible place for me.”
I also noticed that it was about the only piece of furniture in the entire apartment that had any sort of character to it, with a frame of rough-carved mahogany and upholstery of Oriental-style tapestry. “It’s different from the other furnishings here. Is there a story behind it?”
“I bought the condo furnished; this was originally the model unit. I didn’t have much of my own furniture, so it made sense. This belonged to my first wife, Dora, and it’s about all I have left of her, since my second wife took our daughter.”
“So she wasn’t even the kid’s mother, just her stepmother, and she still took her away?”
“She was evil, although I didn’t understand that at the time. During and after the divorce, she wanted to hurt me the most she possibly could. So one afternoon at the daycare center, she got there before I did, took Eliza, and vanished. Early on, I had law enforcement from five states, plus a private detective I’d hired, searching for them, but the trail was cold. And after a few months it wouldn’t have mattered anyway; my life was falling apart, and no court in the world would have seen me as a fit parent to award custody to. Too much wine, women, and song – self-destructive wine, women, and song.”
“Don’t get so down on yourself. You’re not a bad person, you know that, and I know that.”
“Still, the slave bed’s what I deserve.”
“Never in a million years.”
“Well, enough gloom and self-recrimination for now. Get me a list of the stuff you want, so I can go fetch it from your apartment.”
After Pierre had left, I decided that if I was trapped in this gilded cage, I might as well take advantage of the comforts it offered. I went into the bathroom for a shower, losing myself in steam and rich, vanilla-perfumed suds over my body and even in my hair. Ordinarily, I never bothered with hair conditioner, but this time, I decided to go for it, with creamy goop that matched the soap/shampoo’s vanilla scent. After I got out of the shower and toweled off, I found more vanilla in the form of a scented oil to spray on. Then I went into the bedroom to see what was in the “visitor’s” closet.
I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, there were plenty of scanty, filmy garments, but there was also a good selection of comfortable sportswear. I selected a pair of Capri pants and a matching polo shirt with designer labels that indicated that one outfit cost more than my entire wardrobe. I found serviceable, comfortable underthings in the dresser, got dressed, and completed the outfit with canvas deck shoes. I was astonished how well everything fit – surely Pierre was in the habit of entertaining women of more than one size?
Pierre returned as I was tying my shoes. “I see you found something suitable in the closet, after all,” he commented. “I do try to accommodate a wide range of tastes.”
“But not a wide range of sizes?”
Pierre smiled. “There are a few things magic is good for besides saving the world. Whoever walks into that closet, the clothes self-adjust to fit.” He came closer and took a sniff at my hair. “Ah, I’d always imagined you as a vanilla sort.” He set the box he was carrying on the dining table. “There’s still more stuff to bring up from the car. You can start putting these away.”
I looked into the box. In it were nearly all the pans and utensils from my kitchen, certainly all of the important stuff – the coffee maker, the sauté pan, the can opener, the egg beater I used for a mixer, and more. Those hadn’t been on my list! Still, I realized I would be glad to have everything – a touch of home. As I put things away, I also realized Pierre would be glad to have everything too; aside from some very expensive but characterless dishes, glassware, and silverware, his kitchen was practically empty. I had to laugh to myself at the thought of equipment fit for a third-rate student hovel being used to equip a shiny, modern, first-class kitchen.
Pierre returned with a second box containing my clothes and toiletries. “I ran into Mrs. Bullfinch while I was at your place,” he said as he took the box into the bedroom. “She seemed astonishingly glad that you’re taking up residence here.”
“You’re kidding.”
“No, absolutely true,” Pierre said, coming back to the great room. “She said she’d seen a couple of shady characters around that gave her the creeps, and she was afraid they meant some sort of harm to you. She said she wasn’t sure what sort of trouble you might be in, and she didn’t want to know, but as far as she’s concerned, it’s way better for you to be in the clutches of a dirty old man than in the path of those ‘evil types,’ as she called them. She even packed up the kitchen stuff for you.”
“Good old Mrs. B.”
“She’s going to keep an eye on your place and let us know if anything more happens. She’ll be bringing your mail over every day, so you don’t miss anything.”
“Bless her. She’s the closest thing to a mother I ever had.”
“I thought you had a real mother until you were sixteen.”
“She never much cared for me. I think she regarded me as some sort of burden. My father was even worse; he tried as hard as he could to pretend I didn’t exist. I almost wanted to send a thank-you letter to the drunk driver who wiped them out. I went through a bunch of foster homes – wonderful, loving people who couldn’t understand why I didn’t miss my parents – and then I ended up at Mrs. B’s place.” I had finished putting away the kitchen equipment, and we went over to the sofa to watch the bay.
“Look at the two of us,” Pierre said. “What a pair we make, broken souls with messed-up pasts.”
“Might the magic forces be responsible for us finding each other? I do get this feeling that really, in the grand scheme of the universe, we belong together – we’re meant for each other.”
“I get that feeling, too. I’ve had it almost since I first met you, but I couldn’t really test it until Runyon ordered me to guard you. And look how badly I botched that.”
“Forget about it.”
We sat together in silence, hand in hand, watching boats sailing up and down the bay. It was a good day for sailing, partly cloudy, with a steady breeze that sent sailboats of all sizes skimming back and forth gracefully in and out of the shadows of the clouds. I wished I could be out there – and I knew Pierre wished it too. Gradually, the exhaustion of the night before overcame me, and I found myself nodding off to sleep.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Oh, No …

What am I getting myself into?

We were at the New Mexico Sailing Club meeting and Christmas party. The meeting covered some important issues, such as voting to accept an offer from a marina company to replace a portion of the docks that were too seriously damaged by being grounded for two years to be used again. Also, the election results were tallied, and, as expected, Pat is the commodore for the coming year.

But something else happened, too, over dinner before the meeting. We were sitting with another couple who are active in both the New Mexico and Rio Grande sailing clubs, along with some other women sailors, discussing the upcoming Adams Cup regionals. New Mexico is allowed two teams, one from each club. The Rio Grande club is well on the way to having a good team with Sue at the helm; however, the New Mexico club is still working on it, and in particular, they’re searching for someone to be helmswoman. They have quite a few people who are willing to trim sheets, or sit on the upwind rail, or work the foredeck, but they don’t have anybody who actually wants to drive the boat … or, at least, they didn’t. The conversation went something like this:

“Would you like to be on the team?”
“I might.”
“Um, uh … yeah. Sure. Why not?” At this point, I thought I detected a gleam in Sue’s eye.

Uh, oh, learning curve, here I come. It’s probably a matter of overcoming fear more than anything else. I am at least a bit flattered that Sue thought I could potentially have the aggressiveness to take the helm in a race and do reasonably well. Looks like I’ll be spending the spring series races on J/24s rather than the committee boat. And Pat has some credit with an airline for some non-refundable tickets he had to cancel when he was called for jury duty – he’s now talking about using that credit to send me out to J/World. Yikes.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

December at Five O’Clock Somewhere

The true meaning of cozy

For some unknown reason, when we set off from Albuquerque this afternoon, WCMIK packed the laptop computer, even though there is already a computer up here. However, now I’m glad to have it.

As I type this, I am not in the office; rather, I’m sitting in a rocking chair in the den, in front of the fireplace, in which a fire is burning, creating a wonderfully warm glow. To my left is a cat tree, which this weekend lacks cats – we’re not up here long enough this weekend to make the journey worth it for the cats, especially as we had and have detours to make on the way up and down. But other than the lack of cats, this is quite a pleasant place to be sitting to type. I have on my sheepskin slippers, and my alpaca shawl, and I’m quite comfortable. The rest of the house is chilly, since the heat was turned down while we were away and it takes a while for the furnace to catch up. Outside, of course, things are even chillier. According to the thermometer at the front of the house, the temperature was in the low 20s when we got here, and the prediction for the overnight low is 5. There’s some snow and ice on the ground, especially in the shady places.

Laguna Vista, where Five O’Clock Somewhere is located, and Elephant Butte, where we do our sailing this time of year, exemplify the huge range of climates we have in New Mexico. Up here, we’re in the mountains, almost in Colorado – which is why when we had the place built, we built it to Colorado standards. In a good year, we get good snow; officially the annual average snowfall is about 90 inches. Meanwhile, down at the Butte, we can sail even during what, in much of the rest of the country, is the dead of winter. The lake is quiet, without the hordes of jet-skis, water skiers, power boaters, and turbo-charged bass fishermen that flock there in the summer. It’s often just us and the grebes, charming black-and-white diving birds that come down every year to escape the bitter winters in places like Montana and Minnesota. Often the days are sunny, with the occasional exception when a front moves through.

During the summer, our boat, Syzygy, like the grebes, migrates north. When the Butte gets crowded and the temperatures range from the high 90s to the triple digits, we head for the mountains and Heron Lake, our summer haven, where the temperature seldom rises above the mid-80s, jet-skis are prohibited, and power boats are restricted to no-wake speeds. Because of the restrictions, everyone on the lake is either sailing, or fishing (minus the turbo-charged boats), or kayaking. It’s wonderfully peaceful and quiet.

This time of year, it’s a different sort of quiet. Right now, it’s a silent waiting for the snows to begin in earnest. And when the snow does finally come, it creates its own quiet, muffling everything, shushing both the outer sounds of the world and the inner worries and nagging thoughts that get so much in the way of feeling truly peaceful.

So I sit by the fire, watching the flickering flames, thinking peaceful thoughts. WCMIK just brought me a fresh IPA, and all’s right with the world.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 9

Some questions are answered.
Yes, that last episode was a bit upsetting. Here, we learn some new information that might help us deal with that other stuff.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 9
When I awoke the next morning, Pierre was already up. “I took the liberty of preparing us breakfast,” he said, holding up a familiar paper bag. “Sausage McMuffins from the McDonald’s around the corner. I hope you don’t think they’re too fancy.”
“No, they’re just right.” My brain was still feeling a bit foggy, but the memory of the previous night was painful, and I welcomed the opportunity to put it out of my mind with food that was completely, shamefully, bad for me. I did, however, draw the line at the coffee. The brew from the fast-food place was so vile, it was only drinkable when it was too hot to taste. I got out the carafe and brewed my own, showing Pierre how to do it so he could handle the task in the future.
“Hey, that’s easier than it looks,” he commented. “It’s funny, I find an electric coffee maker too much to bother with, but you don’t even have an electric coffee maker, and the manual method is just about as easy.”
“Yeah, it’s funny. Something else I don’t have: an electric can opener. It doesn’t do anything a hand can opener doesn’t do, and it takes up an awful lot of room, which is something this kitchen doesn’t have.”
After breakfast, we went down to the marina. Neither of us was feeling terribly cheerful, but activity, in the form of sailing, would probably be good for keeping our minds off of our worries.
What had happened last night? To start with, I had never felt anything like the sensations I had been feeling. Never before had I experienced those inner earthquakes, and while I knew enough to know that those physical reactions were more about biology than love, the physical and the emotional reactions were building upon each other, and I knew, somehow, that there wasn’t just a physical attraction between Pierre and myself, but also an emotional one. I wasn’t sure yet whether I could call that emotion love, but there was certainly the feeling of wanting to be with him as closely as at all possible, of trusting him, and even, yes, jealousy, wanting him all to myself. More than a craving for a man, any man, it was an intense desire for this man, and no other. And it was a yearning to be with him, not just for a night, or a month, but forever. I didn’t want him as a bodyguard, a temporary guardian angel; I wanted him as a partner to be with forever. I’d had boyfriends in high school and college, but absolutely none of them had moved me in any way, emotionally or physically. Pierre, on the other hand, in just a couple of days, had worked himself into my very core. And for all of his reputation as a ladies’ man, master of the one-night stand, I somehow knew that this was different for him, too.
But then – what? I was mystified about why, suddenly, I had seemed to fill up with ice. Did I have some underlying fear of intimacy? Was I afraid of the pain that was supposed to be involved in the first time? No, I didn’t think that was it – I was apprehensive, maybe, but I knew Pierre would have been as gentle as necessary, and that mild apprehension couldn’t explain the suddenness and intensity of that freeze-up. If anything, the apprehension was adding to the emotional buildup, that little bit of fear that adds to the excitement of the greatest adventures. I didn’t think it involved any moral scruples, either. I’m not particularly religious, and I hadn’t been in a church since my parents’ funeral. Pierre and I were both consenting adults, and I really didn’t think that his position as my guardian constituted taking unfair advantage of the situation.
Instead, that icy feeling almost seemed to come from some source outside me. I had a mental image of a science fiction movie in which a person is put into suspended animation, flash-frozen in a fraction of a second. Was this the work of the Others, or had I detected their presence in some way and reacted with that extreme freeze-up out of terror of them? If that was the case, had Pierre detected them too? He didn’t seem to, but then, we’d hardly spoken. This time, I found his silence troubling, rather than amusing.
When we got to the marina, Runyon was waiting for us by our boats, the worried expression on his face replaced by a relieved but tired smile when he caught sight of us. “Man, I’m so glad to see you two are all right,” he said. “Let’s go someplace it’s safe to talk.” He led us to his big boat and ushered us down into the cabin, where we settled down in the teak-paneled gloom. “We can talk here; I have shields set up.
“We detected a major wave of evil last night, and echoes of it ever since, and I was afraid the Others might have found Sarah. You look like you must have had a really hard night, but I’m glad to see Pierre was on the job.”
“Oh, no!” Pierre moaned. “I, uh, forgot!” He sank his face into his hands. “I wasn’t even aware. …”
“You mean Sarah saved herself? When I felt the wave coming, I summoned everyone else, and we went into the cave and pooled our strength. We could tell there was some sort of enchantment that was taking control over you both, we couldn’t tell to what end, and we were pushing against that force, but we weren’t able to overcome it. Then, suddenly, one of you broke loose – we thought it was Pierre, since he’s the one with training – and gave the extra boost to kick the force away.”
“God,” Pierre cried. “I didn’t know there even was an attack! I’ve been so stupid. I’m supposed to be protecting her, and instead I was, I was … I should have known better!”
“Whatever it was that you did, it wasn’t you at the helm. The Others had control of both of you. And Sarah broke out before you did any harm. She’s alive, you’re alive, and that’s what matters.”
“You don’t understand. I almost took her!”
For just a fraction of a second, Runyon winced, but then he recovered. “So they’d rather see her power destroyed than try to turn her. This is both good news and bad – good, because it means they don’t think she’ll turn, but bad, because now she’s in even more danger. They’re likely to try to kill her now. We’re going to have to have better protection.”
“Any protection would be better than the sorry job I did,” Pierre commented glumly.
“What was that about my power being destroyed?” I asked.
“You know some of those stories about virgins having special qualities because of their purity?” Runyon asked. “Well, there’s some truth in them. You would lose all of your power, or maybe not all of it, but it would certainly be diminished.”
“As much trouble as this power thing is, maybe I should just get it on with Pierre and have done with it. I’m getting so tired of all of this protection and talk of danger and all of that. I just want to go back to school, finish my degree, and live a normal life.”
“The Others would love for you to do exactly that,” Runyon said. “But yours is the greatest talent any of us has ever seen, and we’re going to need it to fight the Others. We need to get you into our school as soon as possible, where you’ll be protected. Meanwhile, you’re going to have to leave your apartment; you’re too vulnerable there. Pierre’s place has extra protections.”
“I just almost blew everything, and you’re still going to leave me in charge of her?” Pierre exclaimed. “Isn’t that like continuing to employ an incompetent nanny?”
“You’re the best possible guardian for her precisely because you slipped up before. You’re certainly not going to let it happen again. And you do love her, so you have more motivation than anyone else.”
“What good is loving her if I’m a bumbling idiot?”
“You are neither bumbling nor an idiot. And we have no better place to put her.”
“Wait a minute. I don’t want to go to his place. I like mine just fine.”
“Spend another night in your place, and it’s likely the last night you spend on this Earth. You’re going to his if I have to drag you there.”

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Life gets tough when someone you thought the world of may not be so worthy after all.

It’s been a couple of very stressful days at WCMIK’s high school. It’s an urban high school, and it has its share of problems, but one of the factors in its favor was its principal, a hard-hitting but compassionate man who kept up good relationships with the students, and with the parents, and with the school board. He was the modern model of the perfect high-school principal.

This past weekend, he was arrested for, among other things, cocaine possession. It’s been awfully hard to deal with. Nobody – absolutely nobody – had any sort of inkling he had any sort of problems. He had a reputation of being scrupulously honest – as one parent put it, an absolute Boy Scout. He was well known for taking at-risk students and helping them to straighten themselves out. So how? … why? … what happened?

Yes, under the American system, we must assume he’s innocent until proven guilty. But the arrest alone is enough to shake many parents’ confidence. What hurts the most, I suppose, is that we believed in his honesty and integrity. We saw that he was doing good things with the school. We met him at parent meetings, and we knew that he really cared about what was best for the students.

And then – this.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Oh, What a Weekend!

Even when things don’t go as planned, they can go right.

Yesterday was originally planned to be the Kris Kringle Regatta – match racing between pairs of closely matched sailboats. We were going to have two Etchells, two pairs of J/24s, two J22s, two Catalina 25s, two MacGregor 26s. But, in the face of weather predictions of high winds and other situations, very few boats turned up – one of the Etchells skippers just plain didn’t show up, two of the J/24 people had family emergencies, one of the MacGregor 26 skippers was carpooling with one of them, and both J/22s were no-shows. There was some thought of our MacGregor 26 replacing the other, but in heavy weather, Syzygy would have been absolutely no match for Mac Goddess – our sails are so severely blown out that we could beat a J/24 in light air, but in stiff winds, our leeward lifelines would have been in the water, while Mac Goddess has a full set of new sails.

So the decision was made to scrap the match racing, and instead we were just going to hold fun races. We on Syzygy would be committee, and the racing fleet tended toward bigger or more seaworthy boats – a Hunter 34, an S2 32, a Ranger 31, and two J/24s. But when we got out to the race course, conditions were too rough. Even trying to maintain position, we were getting hit by big enough waves that we were getting drenched. The lake was covered with whitecaps. Winds were steady over 30 knots, gusting to well over 40. Temperatures were in the 60s, but wind chill and cold water took their toll. Well, at least, I got the soot rinsed off my lucky Aussie hat!

So we bagged the races and found other things to do. WCMIK spent the afternoon helping the Hunter 34 skipper with boat repairs, dismantling and reassembling the traveler, and cleaning and maintaining some other hardware. This is the guy who, a couple of weeks ago, commented that he was going to lubricate some winches – this time, he asked WCMIK to replace a couple of cam cleats, and when the bolts provided proved to be insufficient, WCMIK asked, “Can I get a longer screw?”

Pat and I, meanwhile, returned to the motel, which is also a bath house, to clean up and relax. After a long soak in a private tub, getting rid of a week’s tension, we got dressed up for the sailing club Christmas party, another great sailing-related event, where a good time was had by all.

Today, the weather was much better for sailing – colder (in the 40s, maybe low 50s), but with a reasonably steady wind at about 15 knots. We had the Etchells Constellation, S2 Cultural Infidel, and two J/24s Kachina and DOB racing, with Syzygy as committee boat, and we got in three good races, all full upwind-downwind courses, with all boats finishing in under 45 minutes. I got more than 2000 words of background for the Wizards written, even without the laptop – I’d been planning on not writing anything this weekend and resting up from NaNo, but I had some inspiration overnight and sent WCMIK out Saturday morning to get me a yellow pad to scribble on. Total for this weekend: 2000 words of background for the Wizards, 500 words of Wizards themselves, and this blog post.

Addendum: The racing trophy went to Kachina, with its all-women crew. We hauled Syzygy out for the next couple of months, during which we plan to replace the depth sounder – an important piece of hardware for boats that sail in lakes whose water level can fluctuate greatly. We’ll also be doing some fiberglass repair, and we might put on a new coat of bottom paint as well. We headed home via the Socorro Springs Brewing Company, putting a cap on a fantastic weekend.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Critters at College

Here’s an interesting question for all of you pet owners out there: If your pet were to go to college, what would he or she major in?

I figure Dulce either for business administration or political science. She’s very good at getting people to do things – HER way. She’s the one who really runs this household, for sure.

Tres is a little trickier to figure out. He’d probably be on an athletic scholarship for track, given his love of running. Academically, maybe he’d go into psychology, where he could use his empathy to become a therapist. Or maybe he’d go into transcendental philosophy, since his mind often seems to be in a different universe.

So, all of the rest of you out there: What would your pet(s) major in, and why?