Saturday, February 25, 2017

So now I guess we have a Fleet...

My sanity has always been a tiny bit on the questionable side...
It took a turn for the lunatic in 2008.
I didn't realize it at the time.
Of course, that's what they all say.

What happened in 2008 you ask?
Well, my husband decided it would be fun to build a small sailboat from a kit.
Never mind that we neither one know how to sail. Or that we live in the middle of the country where there is very little sailing, compared to, oh say Maine or the Caribbean. 

Nothing But a Breeze was built in 2008 and took it first trip to the Gulf of Mexico in the back of a rental truck in 2011 where we were the entertainment for everyone in Destin harbor.
And a sea turtle.

It was a short keel-haul to phase two: 

A 15 foot sloop built from plans. Blue Skies took a little bit longer to build, beginning in 2009 and launching in June of 2013. Later that year she got her first taste of salt water, again in the Gulf at Destin where we entertained everyone in Choctawatchee Bay.
And some dolphins.
And a guy in a HUGE yacht who thought it was funny to cruise really really close to us, causing us to surf down his wake...
Fast forward to 2016.
We have been sailing for 8 years now. We both have US Sailing 101 certifications. Rob has ASA Sailing 103-104. We have rented and sailed 24ft to 39ft mono-hull boats on both fresh and salt water.

And in December of 2016 we kicked off the holiday season by purchasing this:
Cool Change. Thankfully an acceptable name. It is a whole big deal, not to mention bad luck, to change it. And that isn't cool...
Cool Change.
A C&C24.
A 24 foot mono-hull sailboat with a v-berth built in 1976.
A fixer-upper.
We pondered the purchase of this boat for nearly a year -, first taking a glancing look at it in the fall of 2015 then again in the Spring of 2016. I was against the purchase while Rob was for it. Then I would be pro-boat and he would be against.
We both knew that owning a boat, docked 3 hours away, would mean many weekends away from home working on projects. But it could also mean owning a boat 3 hours away from the hub-bub that is staying home on a weekend.
It was on the drive back up US 1 from Key West to Miami last November, coming home from a vacation where we sailed several days with friends on our own 'personal' sailboat that we both, nearly simultaneously said – 'remember that old sailboat...'

And after much negotiating and a fortuitous price drop we became the proud owners of a floating project.
I am still not sure if the seller was more excited that he had unloaded the boat or amused that we actually bought it.
We spent the first few hours of ownership taking turns climbing in and out of the hold, unloading everything that would fit in the back of our car for the trip home. The plan being to spend the cold winter months beginning the rehab project.
Things have moved along quite nicely. 
We brought back the table, companionway doors and tiller. 
The fold up table is going to get a re-design. Hopefully with a little storage and a more efficient, modern style.
The companionway door. In serious need of refinishing rebuilding. Unfortunately, the bottom is rotted away. Rob has cut a new door of some poplar and is currently debating which color stain to use in order to match the remaining good wood on the boat. His preference would have been oak, but there was none to be found when he was at the wood shop and he is itching to get things moving.
Tiller, sanded down with one coat of varnish. We weren't sure what sanding would uncover - the wood was sadly neglected and a very weathered grey.

A SCREEN DOOR!! We jokingly commented what a good addition a screen door would be. And then we found one on the boat!

My only contribution so far has been to help unfold and refold the sails and convince Rob to replace ALL the slugs on the two main sails. The boat, for reasons unknown to us, came with FIVE sails - two main, one jib and two genoas. Genoas being extra huge jibs, for really catching a lot of wind, especially should you wish to race...
Here is what FIVE sails in a family room look like: 
Sails, cushions and a sunshade in need of dying.

Sails, sail bags and cushions.
 My other contribution has been to over-dye the cushion fabric. Originally we thought about completely re-doing the upholstery but on closer inspection the fabric, while faded, was in pretty good shape. The cushions are firm and not at all musty. This is a huge savings this year. Upholstery fabric is a little pricey and cushion foam is crazy expensive. Eventually I have plans for a Pintrest worthy fabric re-do. But for now we will be happy with Navy blue.
The original v-berth fabric. Had to tell in the pic but it was pretty faded, especially after washing.

To our surprise, this is the original fabric, found under the navy material. Quite stained, but the fact that is was not smelly and still pretty much in one piece does speak to how well the boat had been maintained in its day.
after washing. before four bottles of Rit navy blue dye.
The v-berth cushion after dyeing and re-upholstering. Sorry the pic is upside down. The computer is fighting me.

As we get closer to Spring, we are both getting more excited to get down and actually spend some time inside and out. Rob has a first hand, splinter to splinter knowledge of the two boats he has built. This one remains something of a mystery. The owners manual, while extensive, is no match for hands on living. I have only been inside twice, the second time while the boat was on stilts - not very conducive to planning. My dream is to have a beautiful, functional albiet tiny living space where we can retreat on weekends.

Next big project is restringing the sheets to the mainsail. 
And repainting the hull prior to putting her in the lake. 

Stay tuned for more This Old Boat!!

Sunday, February 12, 2017


I have a palm tree necklace.
It set us back a whole ten dollars, purchased on the boardwalk in Destin, Florida during the first trip my husband and I took alone after our children were grown.
Its multi-colored rhinestones were the most sparkly of all the rhinestones in the kiosk, set up to attract tourists hoping to capture a moment in time.
I have written about this necklace and its significance to me. The strength I garner when I wear it; the joy it brings me to see it sparkling in a mirror; the smile it draws from total strangers when they take notice of the out of place symbol of tropical sun on a cold snowy Midwestern day.

But my necklace has lost a little sparkle. First one beige trunk stone, then a green frond stone. Looking at it today I see a second stone from the trunk gone.
I never see these stones disappear.
One day they are there.
The next they are gone...

We lost a co-worker this past week.
He was there on a Friday, being his typical quiet smiling self.
And on Monday we learned he was gone.
Just like those rhinestones, mysteriously disappearing.

But unlike those worthless stones, we do know when and where he disappeared.

With one selfish, violent act.
The pull of a trigger.
This sweet, gentle man disappeared.

Yet that knowing doesn't help.
My co-workers and I wandered through our work week slightly off-kilter, missing that bit of sparkle.
Disbelief and anger the undercurrent.
Questions unanswered.
Potential unfulfilled.
A life ended as the result of a selfish, violent act.

As healthcare workers in an urban environment, we see the effects of gun violence. It is seldom random, yet in the two times it has struck our work family the victims were innocent.
That's two co-workers in the ten years I have worked in the city. Three victims in all, who I have known. The third being a friend and co-worker of my husband, in his law enforcement days.
Three in ten years.

It's tiresome.

There is nothing honorable about gun violence. It is selfish. Pure and simple.
You have something I want.
You said something I disagree with.
You are with someone who should be with me.
You aren't the color
                        class....I feel is best.
So a trigger is pulled...

and another sparkling rhinestone disappears...

From now on, when I look at this necklace, I will first see those missing stones.
One for my husband's co-worker. Our first experience with violent crime. He died in the line of duty, while apprehending a known dangerous felon.
One for the co-worker who was nearly killed but survived.
And now one for the dear, quiet man who was here on Friday...

But I will not only see the empty spaces.
I will see the sparkle of the remaining stones and remember the brightness each of those men brought to our world.
I will remember the strength of the palm tree, how it bends in a storm, sways in the breeze, shades a weary person on an unbearable day.

Life is too fragile to do otherwise.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Boom Boom Boom Boom

a literary, dramatic or musical work
intended to cause laughter...

I admit it.
I am a Lost Generation, Great Gatsby-esque addict.
The clothes, the lifestyle. Beautifully refined with a little dirt showing around the edges...
So when I heard about the Boom Boom Room here on the Coast of Illinois, it was pretty obvious where we would be going for our anniversary.
Washington Ave by instagram filter.
The Boom Boom Room, billed as a 1920's speakeasy with a modern twist, it sits on the corner of 14th and St. Charles street. Just at the edge of the glitz that is Washington Avenue.
Red velvet curtains part as you enter...
Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway serenade as you are lead to your table...
If you let the management know you are celebrating an event you get balloons, fedoras and tiaras!
We chose the dinner and show package.
Our table – linen cloth covered – sat in a corner, slightly elevated which gave us a great view of the stage. Actually, there are no terrible seats. The stage sits center of the room and is surrounded by tables for two and four. There are larger tables slightly elevated on the outer edge, still within easy viewing of the show, although the table of eight next to us needed to turn slightly in their chairs.

The drink menu offers a handful of cocktails named for some of the performers. I chose the Vera Valentina, a slightly tart take on a cosmo. It was a nice way to start the evening.
The drink menu also has a variety of wines – red, white and sparkling. Most mixed drinks were $9-10 each as were the wines by the glass. Bottles are available as well.
Oh, and there is beer.
But come on...a drink named Lolita Love or a beer???

Dinner is served in four courses.
A nice mixed green salad started. Nothing fancy to look at but the vinaigrette was spicy and delicious.
Second course was salmon en papillote.
Oo la la...
A piece of salmon atop sliced zucchini roasted in parchment.
We are both fish lovers but weren't quite sure how a restaurant would get by serving a room full of diners all the same fish. In fact, a couple of women at the table next to our quietly voiced their hatred of fish, prior to the arrival of the plates. Not that I was spying but I don't believe I saw any plates left untouched.
The fish course was also served with a side of Lulu La Toosh...
Mademoiselle La Toosh, whose French accent was clearly from the south side...., introduced the Burlesque Bombshells -three women and one very attractive man- while belting out the opening number from Chicago. The only thing bigger than Lulu's voice are her boobs. But only by a tiny bit. She sang and joked and held the audience captive. Especially the very tall, handsome man sitting directly in front of her...
But anyway,

Third course was an unbelievably tender and tasty braised short ribs atop mashed potatoes, green beans and a side of dance... 

 The evening ended with a showstopping fire dance and dessert of what I can only describe as a stripped down S'More. 
 (Get it...stripped down...)
A smear of toasted marshmallow held the richest, creamiest square of chocolate fudge ganache with a crisp graham cracker base.

As the house lights came up, the dancers graciously posed for pictures and circulated through the room. 
Did I mention the very attractive man?...
We left pleasantly surprised at how delicious the meal was, how tastefully entertaining the show was and convinced that we would return...with our friends who were TOO CHICKEN to go with us!!
I mean, come on, this isn't Hollywood on the East side. There were no pasties until the dessert course...
Our waitress Coochy Capone.
 The Boom Boom Room is located at 500 North 14th St in St. Louis.
They are open Wednesday-Saturday 6pm-1:30am with dinner shows on Friday and Saturday.
Dinner show tickets run $16-$23 for the show. Dinner is billed separately and averages around $50 per person, not adding in drinks. Seating for the dinner show begins at 7pm and the evening is over around 9:30.
There are also late night shows starting at 10pm, priced at $19-$23. 
We did hear a rumor that beginning on Mother's Day there would be a Sunday Brunch show...because nothing says I Love You Mom like a burlesque strip show and what I can only assume will be a buffet of deliciousness.
For more info go to their website:

(As always, I must disclose that this review is purely my opinion and was not sponsored by anyone.)
 I had hoped to get pictures of all the performers but on review most were just to fuzzy to use. You will have to take my word for it, they were all fantastic!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Love is in the Air...Why is it so Cold...

I love February.
Oh sure, its grey outside. And cold.
This is what winter looks like on the Coast of Illinois
But think about it...

January is the worst. (Except for our daughter's birthday which is the BEST).
It's cold. It's grey. It's dark.
I mean, come on. I get up at 0530 – dark. I get off work at 1830 (6:30pm for you non-military/hospital peeps) – dark.
Try explaining this to our cat, who is dark grey and wants, no DEMANDS, to go outside in the mornings. The light and his coat are the same color and unless I turn on the nuclear reactor light by our back door – which the neighbors have sanctioned – he is invisible.
The month is THIRTY-ONE days long!!! That's THIRTY-ONE days of 'new diet and exercise' the dark...

But February...
Cold, grey February.
It's spelled weirdly which makes it fun to say – Feb- brew- airy!
It's only 28 days long. But sometimes it's 29. And then it's 28 again. Like a lottery power ball, or a Hollywood Starlet who just can't quite admit she's aging out of the high school cheerleader rolls.
Tiny green things begin popping up in the gardens after the evil January warm up which promptly turns into thunder snow-ice storm-even more frigid cold than before.
It is followed by March. Which is a pretty fickle month in and of itself, but in my brain calendar March is the revolving door to Spring, which once you manage to escape the rotating glass, puts you smack into April which is such a happy name that you just know things are looking up.

February plays host to two of my favorite events.
Groundhogs Day.
A day celebrating a fat mid-sized rodent.
Like all good, weird holidays, its roots are in religion. Candlemas to be exact. Which has exactly ZERO groundhogs in it.
February 2 is also our wedding anniversary.
Suffice it to say, NEVER let your fiance pick the date....
But after meeting in a airport disco on a Sunday night and several dates revolving around sky diving it just seemed appropriate.
please note, this is not me. these are my guys on our son's first jump and my husband's 50th.
 I have jumped zero times.
Of course, with that scene stealer Valentine's Day jacking up the roses and chocolate prices I have become accustom to anniversary gifts far less fragrant and delicious but way more meaningful.
Although I am not quite sure what meaning to assign the tickets to the dinner and burlesque show* which is our celebration this year...

The other great thing about February is Mardi Gras.
February always falls smack in the middle to end of this homage to fun.
Ah, Mardi Gras.
A holiday based on nothing but food and parties. The more debauchery the better.
It's probably a good thing I didn't grow up in Louisiana. I would have to take the entire Mardi Gras season off work.
We began throwing Mardi Gras parties when our kids were little. It seemed like a fun excuse to have friends over when no one could afford to go anywhere. Those little gatherings evolved into a full house of people complete with a Hurricane machine, pounds of fried alligator and a turkey fryer full of seafood.
We only host every other year now, it takes me so long to recover.
But by the end of the month on non-party years I am a little sad that I didn't bite the baby and fire up that deep fryer.
There is no expectation around Mardi Gras, besides good food. I cook nearly every day anyway. Why not just cook extra and have a few folks over...
That's such a simple way to let people know they are important to you. 
where do you get YOUR gator...**
Gumbo. Only way to make it is for a crowd...
And nothing makes a cold grey month better than filling your home with those people who are important to you.***

Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!!

This is one of two burlesque supper clubs in ST. Louis. We go this evening, more to follow...
I have ordered  gator and a variety of other mardi gras items from this site. always great products and service. 
***I should note - we are not doing the party this year. I am still recovering from last year and the Giant Jenga tournament which went with it...
nothing says party like 100 pounds of wood blocks