Do you need more eyes on your blog?

Here you go!

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Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been at the computer for what seems like days editing video and slideshows for a corporate town hall meeting. It all goes down Wednesday, so hopefully we’ll have some nice blogs for you next week.

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Can you identify this flower?

Mary and I came across this plant with very interesting pink and yellow flowers while taking a walk last weekend. We want to plant some at the house. Can any of our brilliant readers identify it for us?

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Meanwhile, Mary’s vegetable garden, which we planted on February 1 is doing very well. Looks like we’ll have plenty of fresh kale, spinach, peppers, carrots, onions, cucumbers, squash, cauliflower and tomatoes this year.

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We keep discussing how to combine gardening with boating, but there’s not much space on Gimme Shelter for tomato plants.

Lessons taught in toes

This morning my toe is still purple, but the swelling has somewhat subsided.

This is not the first time my toe has been purple. I spent last summer with a purple toe on the other foot after walking right into a dock cleat. You’d think that would have taught me a lesson to either wear shoes or watch where I’m walking.

Once again we were docking, once again I was barefoot, and once again I was rushing to grab a line. However, this time I was on the boat, so I wasn’t worried about dock cleats. Instead I walked right into a block for the jib sheet.

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This time the lesson is learned. Watch your toes while sailing!

Playing with light

If you haven’t figured it out from the blog, I’ll just go ahead and admit it now … I’m not normal.

Over the weekend our boat neighbors gifted Mary a string of LED lights that she thought might be neat to install under the counters in Gimme Shelter. The lights made it home with us, and they were just sitting there in the living room, so I HAD to play with them.

Mary didn’t even seem surprised when she called me to dinner and found me in the living room wrapped in the lights dancing around in front of my camera. However, I was surprised when she volunteered to be wrapped in the lights, so I could continue experimentation with long exposure light painting.

After about a dozen tries with 8-second exposures and an off-camera flash, we were able to create a dress (or at least an artistic facsimile of a dress) from light.

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To create this effect, Mary had the string of lights wrapped around her torso and waist with about four feet of light dangling from her waist to the floor. She would strike a pose and hold it, and I would start the exposure. After hitting the button on the camera, I would pop an off-camera flash, which would expose her face and arms. As soon as the flash had gone off, she would bend over and wave the 4′ of dangling LED rope in front of her to create the “skirt”. We found that if she didn’t bend over, her face and arms would continue to expose in the upper part of the frame causing blurs and ghosting.

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It’s always satisfying to learn a new technique and create something unique. Of course, I was still in long exposure mode this morning when I rolled into the office, so I snapped this 24 second exposure of the sunrise out of the window before grabbing some coffee and jumping on my conference call. Yes, it looks pretty much exactly like the last long exposure I did out of my office window, but hey, it’s still cool.

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Sailing in February

After five weeks of trimming sails on other people’s boats, I couldn’t wait to get out and pull the lines on Gimme Shelter … and we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful February weekend.

However, we couldn’t skip the most important meal of the day, so Mary fired up the Origo and made some eggs.

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When we left around noon, the sun was shining, winds were a steady 10 knots, and the thermometer was hovering around 65. Our original goal was to sail to Redfish Island and then anchor for a picnic, but with a prevailing south wind, and no real desire to beat hard all afternoon, we ended up just practicing adjusting sail trim and tacking back and forth across the bay instead.

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The dogs, as usual, were not impressed with the magnificence of the open water and settled in for naps.

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Dixie Belle has fallen off multiple docks and multiple boats in the past few months, so just to be safe we put the life jackets on the dogs. Dixie actually likes wearing clothes, so she’s always excited when we pull them out. However, Tex HATES his life jacket and basically just mopes the entire time he has to wear it.

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Mary spent some time at the helm while I raised sails. It was the first time I’d gotten to play with the whisker pole on our boat. It’s not new, I just didn’t know how exactly to use it before crewing with other people. The whisker pole was never discussed in Basic Keel Boat Sailing 101. I’m still trying to decide if I want to add a spinnaker crane to the masthead and rig another halyard for a drifter or not.

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After a couple tacks, Mary and I switched jobs, and I went back to the helm while she pulled lines. This was my first trip out since installing the new Garmin GPSmap 741x, and I have to say, I really like it. I noticed that along with my speed and heading it also gives me the battery voltage. That’s actually quite a handy feature. I can tell when the alternator is charging, and I can tell when we need to shut off the refrigerator because the batteries are too low.

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Although it was seasonally warm, it’s still February, so when the sails were blocking the sun, it got a bit chilly. Luckily Mary had no shortage of dogs willing to snuggle with her.

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One of the more interesting moments of the sail was when I went to trim the jib, and I found we had a honeybee on the line. I have no idea what inspired him to fly out into the middle of the bay, but he seemed quite tired and not the least worried about me messing with the lines.

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In fact, I managed to untie the line, trim in the sheet, and re-tie it without him ever flying away.

He rode along with us for about 20 minutes, then I looked back over, and he was gone. I hope he made it back to shore.

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Saturday was “Yachty Gras,” the name Kemah gives to its Mardi Gras boat parade, so we headed back to the marina around 4:00, so we wouldn’t miss it.

Our neighbors on Friday Yet were in the parade and spent the entire day decorating. Their krewe theme was The Great Gatsby. Their makeshift steam pipe on the upper deck not only lit up, but it also made steam.

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We spent the rest of the evening grilling burgers and enjoying the sunset with friends.

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Hopefully we’ll get to do it all again next weekend.

Sunrise

Not every morning gets to start on the water, but we still had some nice sunrises in Houston last week.

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One thing you can’t do from a boat is long exposure photography — at least not if you don’t want everything blurred. I was in the office extra early for a conference call, so I was able to snap this 8 second exposure of the morning commuters on I-10 heading to work just as the sun was coming up behind the Houston skyline with the 90mm Elmarit from the window at the end of my hall.

After the call I couldn’t resist taking one more photo of the downtown Houston skyline with the 135mm Elmarit.

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By the way, today is Mary’s birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY!

Good luck charms, new slips, and the end of the icicle series

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Saturday marked the last race of the 2015 GBCA Cruzan Rum Icicle Series Regatta. I was able to crew four out of the five races this year, and although neither Hippokampus nor Antares placed, I had a great time. The next series doesn’t begin until May, so we should have plenty of weekends to get Gimme Shelter out on the water.

We were excited to hear from the office this week that a slip we’d had our eyes on along the western bulkhead near the pool was opening up. Maybe we’re lazy, but it’s really nice to be able to step out of the car and onto the dock. It’s also really nice not having to walk a maze of docks when the dog has to go out at 3 a.m., and it’s 30 degrees outside.

We’d gotten a spot on the bulkhead in the fall, but we were stuck in the corner, so getting out of the slip was a little tricky. We also had so much trash and debris collecting around us that I was worried it was going to clog the strainers.

Our new slip was about halfway down the pier, so I went to check it out Saturday morning. That’s when I found poor Bugs.

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So when you find a dead rabbit in your slip, is that a bad sign or is it considered good luck since there’s not one but FOUR lucky rabbits feet? Either way, we hoped he would float off by Sunday when we moved the boat.

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated incident, one of our other neighbors bought a dozen pigmy rabbits at the 4H sale and slaughtered them on the back deck of his boat Saturday evening. I guess it’s not that much different than gutting fish, but I’m glad I wasn’t there to witness those bunnies getting clubbed.

It was just an all-around bad weekend for rabbits.

Sunday happened to be my birthday, and there was no better present than waking up to a sunny, 70-degree morning. We moved Gimme Shelter to her new slip, had some coffee with friends on the Tina Marie.

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I spent the afternoon shoveling horse manure for Mary’s vegetable garden. Don’t be surprised if you see some blogs from her about gardening very soon.

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Now it’s off to watch the Superbowl. Hope everyone has a good week.