Sunday on the Bay

We tried something new last weekend. For the first time we loaded up all of Mary’s sewing stuff, and we set up a tent at the monthly Galveston Market near the strand.

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Unfortunately, weather wasn’t too great, and we didn’t have much traffic. We did manage to break even on the purchase of the tent and tables and even made a few dollars to put towards our annual WordPress renewal fees, but if we were having to pay ourselves, it would be far less than minimum wage. Now there are a few more bags and business cards out there in wild, so hopefully that will spur more online business for Mary. However, I think we both decided that sitting in a tent for seven hours isn’t our thing.

Thankfully the weather cleared up Sunday, so we had a few friends join us and got off the dock for a few hours.

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I have no idea what race/practice was going on, but there was a line of J boats going back and forth. It was quite interesting to see. I wish we’d been in the right place when they all turned around and popped their spinnakers. It would have made an amazing photo.

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There weren’t many boats out at Redfish Island. Our buddy Tony brought his inflatable SUP and impressively paddled his way to the island against 17 knot winds.

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None of the rest of us were brave enough to try it as we were all pretty sure we’d be swimming our way back to the boat.

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Eventually we had to weigh anchor and head back to civilization. I envy those who can cruise with no schedule, but for now it’s back to the office for me and back to sewing bags for Mary.

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Wandering Paris

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Léa Seydoux, Midnight in Paris (2011)


I dashed across Avenue de la Grande Armée and ducked under the awning of Café de la Terrasse just as the rain re-commenced Friday evening. If Paris really is most beautiful in the rain, I’d already experienced a full week of beauty.

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The waiter presented me with a menu featuring specials for “happy beers” and “happy wines.” Perhaps it was just a poor translation by the copywriter, but I liked the idea that the drinks were as happy as the hour.

We’d spent the past three days exploring strategies and innovations meant to cut costs and streamline workflow in a declining industry, and we weren’t just happy to be having a drink, we needed one. Despite the intensive brainstorming sessions and extended dialogue, one important question had remained unanswered — was I or was I not supposed to eat the flower?

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Cigarette smoke wafted over the sidewalk tables as my colleagues from France, Scotland, Italy, India and Malaysia took turns asking me questions about Donald Trump and whether or not I owned a gun. Yes, Trump and guns, this is the cultural impact the US has upon the rest of the world.

As we all said goodnight and headed back to our respective hotels, I was left alone in Paris. I had no big plans this time, just a day to kill. I usually travel the city via Metro, but as the rain had finally stopped, I decided to walk. I passed the Peugeot headquarters and this curvy, winged car called out to me, but unfortunately the museum wasn’t open.

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I made my way to Trocadero where a quartet of troubadors were strolling café to café around the circle hoping for tips. They were mostly just having their pictures taken by tourists (myself included).

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For the first time all week the sky cleared, and the Eiffel Tower came into view in sync with the golden hour. I stopped to snap a photo since my previous attempts at a nice tower photo came with brown smoggy skies.

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I made my way down to the bridge watching both the tourists and the dozens of peddlers with their wares spread out on blankets. They still had models of the Eiffel Tower in many different sizes, but this year they were also hawking small robotic dogs that bark and walk, which I haven’t seen in the US since the 1990s, and of course, selfie sticks.

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The smell of crepes fills the air around the tower. I’ve never actually tried one, but I do enjoy the aroma and plenty of people were lining up for both crepes and ice cream.

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Since I had no plans, I decided to stick around and do some people watching. I guess I looked trustworthy enough that I wouldn’t run away with a camera as three different couples asked me to snap their photo in front of the tower.

I’d already done the Seine tour dinner cruise on a previous trip, but I always enjoy checking out the various boats — big, small and stationary.

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At 9:30 p.m. the tower finally lit up, which was the photo I really wanted to capture. I snapped a few shots and then walked through the night back to my hotel.

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Never underestimate how lost you can get even when there should be a large river to block you from going too far in the wrong direction.

Saturday morning was gray and dreary. I set out down the same road towards the Catacombs, but I must have taken the wrong exit at one of the roundabouts.

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However, as I wandered through the streets I got a nice insight into a Parisian Saturday. I passed soccer fields full of kids running and laughing while parents looked miserable on the sidelines. I watched people walking their dogs, trying to keep them from peeing on the motorcycles parked along the street. I saw young people carrying home bags of groceries while older people pushed their groceries home in strollers. I even discovered how new refrigerators are lifted into those tiny apartments.

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When I finally made it to the Seine I was two bridges down from where I was supposed to be, but I did get a nice view of the Statue of Liberty. The French version is a bit smaller than the one they sent to America.

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I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the catacombs — aside from a long line. Only 200 people are allowed in the tunnels at a time, so there gets to be quite a queue. My plan to get there early had been self-sabotaged by wandering the streets for an extra two hours.

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I think I was hoping for a spooky experience, but I didn’t feel that at all. The first section is an exhibit regarding the geological history of Paris and the formation of the limestone with a few fossil casts. Then several boards detailed the excavation and history of the catacombs. Then you finally reach the bones.

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I don’t even know how to explain how many bones are in these tunnels. If every man, woman and child I’ve ever known were entombed together, it wouldn’t come close to matching this number of bones. In some places the stacks are 10′ high and go 20′ back. And those were just in the tunnels open to visitors. There were more tunnels shut off to the public. There’s an estimated six million skeletons in the catacombs.

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In case you’re wondering, Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, is the man who can be thanked for the creative stacking of femurs and skulls. I thought this skull heart was a nice touch.

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Once I finally returned to the surface, I started the walk back to the hotel and stumbled across this interesting army surplus store.

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But just as I was about to go in, I got distracted by this table of people cycling by while drinking beer. I’m not sure what kind of tour that is, but I think that’s the one I want to take next time I visit.

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My first week living on my boat

This week Fred was in Paris for work, so not having anything tying me to the house I packed up the dogs and headed to the boat.  My schedule for the week included two job interviews, plenty of applying, and some sewing I needed to finish up.  Everything I needed fit in the car — but just barely.

My nav table turned out to be a really great workstation.

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So here are my first impressions of many of the daily activities I needed to do aboard this week compared to what it’s like doing them from home.

Job interview– This was surprisingly easy. I left my suit in the car and just changed right before I left.  I already had all of my paperwork printed and ready, but that would have been a small obstacle as we have no printer aboard.

Cooking– I had no issues at all cooking aboard.  I didn’t do anything fancy, but then it’s just me.  I did end up buying this amazing Magma cooking set.  Not because I needed it though but because it was on sale.

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Provisioning– This was a much bigger issue.  Being aboard more than a weekend made me realize that if I was to live aboard it would mean going to the store every other day or so.  No freezer means fresh meat, and small fridge means limited supplies.  This also translates into me not buying only what is on sale in bulk therefore higher cost.

Dogs- The dogs were amazingly well behaved, but walking them was a big chore.  I needed to walk them four times a day for about 30-45 minutes each time in order for them to be tired during the day on the boat.  I was also all sweaty after each walk.

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Clothes– One thing I noticed with my longer stay was that it was a lot harder to tell what clothes were clean.  A $1 hamper I purchased at a garage sale on Saturday should solve that problem though.

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I’m really glad I spent this week aboard.  I was pushing hard for us to move aboard before this and my experience this week will make me take a second look.  I really enjoyed being in the marina and hanging out with my friends in the evenings.  I also loved sewing and working in the boat.  The hard work of dog walking and constant trips to the grocery store though are making me think staying in the house for a bit longer might be nice.

Our $250 Bathroom Remodel

Recently I was laid off from my job in Oil and Gas, so I have been trying to get all those things done that I wanted to do “if I only had more time.” One of those things was to get rid of the terrible fish wallpaper trim we had in our bathroom.

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Fred pointed out to me that if I was ever going to replace our clam shell sink, now would be the time to do it so that the paint matches up. I decided that seemed reasonable, and after I did a quick google search to confirm new sink prices, we agreed that had to go as well.

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I’ve been wanting to try the new Rustoleum cover all no sanding paint in our kitchen.  I thought this might be a great time see if it covers as well as it claims. And so with that thought the demo began. I began by scraping off the wallpaper, but while I was up there I thought “I wonder how hard this popcorn ceiling would be to remove.”  And with a small area of it cleared I was committed.

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The debris began to pile up.

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Lots of wet popcorn and scraps of sticky paper fell into my eyes and hair.

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Taking out the old sink and counter was surprisingly easy.  Just switching off the water, unscrewing it, and yanking it off.  Fred removed the toilet tank as well to make my life easier while painting.

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A little before of the medicine cabinet.

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Fred always has issues with the paint colors I pick out.  It’s harder than it looks!  So i sent him a quick screenshot of our options for the cabinet paint.  He gave me the choices of seaside, cabernet, and charcoal.  To be fair none of the options on the box were what I wanted. Here is our first expense $35 for Rustolium furniture paint.  I went with the “furniture” paint instead of the $100 “cabinet” paint.  I’m guessing difference is square footage.

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While Fred was at work I got to putting on about 15+ coats of paint on this cabinet.  I wanted it to be perfect!  I also decided to paint the side where it was not previously painted and the foot.

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With that done we set to painting the walls and ceilings.  The ceilings were not as bad as you’d expect.  Interior Paint $17

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Fred sealed on the sink with some Kwik Seal Plus kitchen & bath caulk, and we got to work on the plumbing.  New sink and counter $150

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When we looked under the sink it turns out the drain pipe did not exactly match up with the existing plumbing.  Fred had to saw off the old plumbing and return again to Home Depot for some more PVC pipes to make it all fit.

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New faucet $1513128619_10101728358827162_1265561156_o

Here are the final before and afters:

If you’re wondering why everything only added up to $217 its because I also broke the vent fan when I screwed it back in with the wrong screw.  Hopefully you won’t do that.