Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #74 Happy (We Hope) New Year

So it’s now 2007. Wow. Cliché that it is, we ask that age-old question: Where has the time gone? This year our daughter will be married, Caloosa Spirit will turn 10, and Jim will be eligible for Medicare. Life is certainly marching on.

On the other hand, the answer to the cliché question is really not that difficult to fathom. The time went while we languished in Indianapolis a year ago awaiting the outcome of my liver tests, while we waited for repairs and parts in North Palm Beach and Marathon during the late winter and spring, while we frenetically began making wedding preparations during the summer, and while we dealt with Jim’s diagnosis, surgery, and recovery through the fall. Even with all the waiting the year sped by.

Last night we welcomed the New Year in a quiet, uneventful manner with only a nod to the dropping ball and Times Square revelers. Our sincere hope is that the rest of 2007 will continue to be quiet and uneventful for us—especially compared to 2006. Correction: we expect next summer to be anything but quiet and uneventful as we move into full wedding mode. Lauri and her fiancé Alex have assured us that nothing will prevent the wedding from taking place. After already spending several boat units on the joyous event, we welcome that reassurance.

As many of you may already know, the new year brings us a new website address. Our son Mike and his two partners are the proud owners of a web-hosting business, AOSoft Internet Services, Inc. (www.aosoft.net), and as a Christmas gift he presented us with a domain name that’s all ours. (Our previous website was piggy-backed on Alex’s.) While Mike was visiting us he renamed the website, transferred it to AOSoft, and gave us a family discount (100%!). Even without the discount AOSoft’s services are very reasonable and the service can’t be beat. For anyone who hasn’t yet gotten the memo, here’s our new website address: www.caloosaspirit.net. The old one will continue to work for another month or so, but it will then be defunct.

A pleasant walk can almost always lift the spirits. This apartment complex is a pleasant place to walk, so we’ve done that somewhat regularly. Since the sun was shining brightly today, a walk seemed like the right thing to do. Walking is the best way to get a look at the birds and squirrels, since they don’t seem interested in the food we put outside our window for them.

Okay, a show of hands. How many out there have ever had a day when they just knew they should have stayed in bed? So far today has been that kind of day for me. Maybe I can chalk it up to not enough sleep—too much chocolate, wine, or something. In any case, my mood wasn’t the best when I set off for tomorrow night’s dinner party provisions. I hadn’t had an opportunity before today to browse the 75%-off Christmas section, so that took a few minutes. Then I had to browse the 75%-off sweater section and, of course, try a couple on. As I checked the time I was sure I had plenty before returning home so that Jim could get to his lunch date with a friend. I quickly headed for the grocery section, only to discover that I had left my list sitting on the table at home. Well, I thought I could pretty much recall most of the items on the list, since I had my menu all planned. So I hurried up and down all the aisles so that I wouldn’t forget anything. Of course, most of us know that surveying all the aisles takes twice as much time (or more) than we think it should. Approaching the produce section I checked the time again—and was shocked to see that I should at that moment be leaving the store. Oh, dear—Jim will not be happy. I raced through the area picking up the last of what I needed and headed for the check-outs.

Ah, the check-out lanes. Do they ever have enough open so that you don’t have to stand in line? I think there’s a formula out there somewhere that guides the store managers in deciding just how many cashiers to have on duty so that there’s always a line at every lane. So, sure enough, I wasn’t going to be zipping out of the store as speedily as I needed to. But wait! There’s a self-serve lane with no one there! With a hard ninety-degree turn I whipped my shopping cart into that lane and began scanning my own items—until the scanner refused to acknowledge one of my meat packages. “WAIT FOR THE ATTENDANT,” shouted the scanner screen, effectively shutting down my hasty exit. Tapping my foot I waited impatiently for the attendant to work her magic so that I could complete my purchase. She, on the other hand, seemed to be in no particular hurry whatsoever. With the self-service lanes mostly unoccupied, she seemed to revel in having something to do. Hmmm. Now why would the self-serve lanes be mostly unoccupied? Could it have something to do with them actually being slower than the cashiered lanes? After what seemed like an eternity I finally got all my items scanned. The attendant had moved on from bagging my stuff to help someone else (those pesky self-serve scanners again), so I jammed the rest of my purchases into some bags and raced for the door. I had almost made my escape when I heard someone behind me attempting to get my attention. The attendant ran up to me and said something about my not paying. What the…? Oh, yeah—I was supposed to pay for all that stuff, wasn’t I? I tried apologizing profusely while explaining that I was in a big hurry, but I could tell that she was highly unimpressed. After hustling back to the lane I had used and running my bank card through the scanner—once more getting stalled by its quirks—I was allowed to leave the store. Hurrying to my car I quickly said a silent prayer of gratitude that I hadn’t been hauled off to jail for attempted shoplifting. That would have REALLY delayed Jim’s lunch date.

Since safely (thank you, God) returning home—to Jim’s credit he didn’t grumble too loudly—I’ve tried to sit relatively still. On such a day as this I could easily break something doing just about anything. I found my shopping list right where I had left it on the table, and—you guessed it—I forgot a couple of important items. I think I’ll wait until tomorrow to go get them.

So you may be wondering how tonight’s dinner party went after yesterday’s shopping-trip-from-hell. Said shopping trip, by the way, morphed into the shopping-trip-that-would-never-end as I had to make two extra trips to get forgotten items—in the rain, which is just what I was trying to avoid by going yesterday morning. Yeah, rain. I think we’ve had all of two sunny days in the last two weeks. January is a dismal month in Indiana.

But I digress. Getting back to the dinner party, let me start by saying that any occasion when we spend time with old sailing friends can never be anything but enjoyable and renewing. John and Pat of Tusen Takk and Mark and Linda of Nakyowin both currently sail the fresh waters of Lake Michigan, so we no longer get to visit with them on the water as we once did. Our boats have all grown in size over the last 20+ years, but we share the memories of sailing our Catalina 25s on Lake Monroe in Indiana for much of that time.

Serving six people in our tiny apartment takes some flexibility, since our table and chairs will only seat four. But the rented coffee table is quite large and we have enough seating in the living room for six. So a simple menu that could be easily eaten in a casual manner seemed appropriate. My recipe for Round Steak Sauerbraten with a spinach salad filled the bill. Several years ago I adapted the sauerbraten recipe for the pressure cooker, and on the boat the pressure cooker is a much more efficient cooking method than the 1½ hours of baking indicated in the original recipe. For our 3-month sojourn here we brought many of our kitchen utensils from Caloosa Spirit, but my new-ish 6-quart pressure cooker was one item too many. Not to worry, though, because I had given my old one to Lauri and I knew I could borrow it from her. I had to double the sauerbraten recipe to serve six, so into the old 4-quart pressure cooker went three pounds of meat and almost four cups of gravy.

In the 30+ years that I’ve been using a pressure cooker I’ve usually taken heed of the warning, “DO NOT FILL MORE THAN 2/3 FULL”. It didn’t look more than 2/3 full. Okay, so it looked 2/3 full, but not MORE THAN 2/3 full. Okay, so I’m a lousy judge of space. Moments after John and Pat arrived, before we even had time to serve them drinks (horrors!), the pressure cooker decided to have a nervous breakdown from too much pressure. If you’ve ever seen Old Faithful you get the picture. Fortunately, the pressure cooker didn’t blow its top, other than for the pressure regulator, but that was sufficient for it to spew gravy all over the stove, the cabinets, the floor, and—wait for it—the ceiling! Cleaning up the mess was bad enough, but worse, the sauerbraten was probably not done. Mark and Linda were delayed, so dinner wasn’t really behind, but I was unsure about how to finish cooking the sauerbraten. Well, maybe if I just put it back on the burner at lower heat that would do the trick. Okay, so I’m also a lousy judge of heat. How was I supposed to know that the gravy collected in the burner pan would ignite rather than just, you know, simmer? While Jim and I were attempting to wipe the gravy goo off the floor and cabinets, Pat very calmly announced that we had a fire on the stove. Quick action kept us from having a problem more serious than under-done sauerbraten, but not before the smoke alarm began screeching. We wondered if the next fiasco would be the fire department at our door, but things settled down after opening the door to air the place out. Eventually, the sauerbraten finished cooking (the pressure cooker behaved itself), Mark and Linda arrived, and we all had a delightful dinner and evening. Oh, and John and Pat finally got their drinks. A more thorough clean-up awaits tomorrow.

To paraphrase an old song, another year older and—thanks to our extended stay in Indy—deeper in debt. I got the gifts of sunshine and a celebratory dinner with some of my favorite people—Jim, Mom, Lauri, and Alex.

Alices birthday
Alice’s birthday dinner

Wow! Three days of sunshine in a row! But the temperatures have certainly been more winter-like. I’ve always been happy to leave the driving to Jim, given my not-so-good judgment of space. But in our current car (which we’ve had since August) only the driver’s seat is heated, so these frosty days I enjoy driving more than I used to. Mmmmmm. It’s like sitting on a hot-water bottle while driving. Getting cut off by other drivers isn’t nearly so stressful.

So now we’re waiting for the rain to stop once more. It seems that each day’s weather forecast says something about colder temperatures and possible snow, but neither seems to materialize. Continual rain is the norm. Presently we’re hearing about dropping temperatures in the next couple of days, but snow predictions are disintegrating. While I don’t relish the idea of driving in snow or ice, it might at least give us some pretty pictures—if winter ever really settles in.

Well, I decided to put the old pressure cooker to the test one more time. We hadn’t had Lauri and Alex join us for dinner for a while, so we made a date for tonight. With some trepidation I dumped a pot roast and numerous vegetables into the somewhat battered tub, and then watched over it like a mother hen as the unpredictable burner brought it to pressure. For those of you out there who read with relish about our foibles and failures, this brief vignette may be a vexing disappointment. The pressure cooker dutifully and docilely hissed and huffed for the appropriate time, and dinner got served with nary a mishap. We love it when a plan comes together.

Wow! Sunshine and snow in the same day! Who says we don’t live right?

Snow at Rosewood Commons
Snowfall at Rosewood Commons

Our snowy front door
Our apartment exterior

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

Posted Wednesday January 17, 2007

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