Category Archives: 2016


In 1986, we were lucky enough to see the traveling exhibition of French Impressionist works at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in D.C. It was essentially eight mini-exhibitions, with each new NGA gallery devoted to one of the Parisian shows of the 1880s. We were particularly taken by the works of Monet and Seurat.

Monet, early Spring at Giverny

Over the years as gardening increasingly captured our interest, and especially Ikebana where Janet was concerned, we started thinking seriously about a visit to Giverny, the garden home and studios of Monet just outside Vernon. It only took 31 years to get there.

What follows is a largely un-captioned celebration of color and remembrance. While Monet lived on the edge of starvation in his early years (as most impressionists), he became wealthy after conceiving of “series” paintings which captured the changes brought to images by the changes in lighting as morning passed to evening. Much of that wealth went into land acquisition and gardening, and oh, what a garden. As we arrived with Spring in France, the garden is between Winter wild and Summer spectacular. Should you get to Giverny, be sure to visit the Musee des Impressionnismes there. It may be one of the best in its size class anywhere.

Back At It Again, Cruising, That Is

late spring 800 (4)

Seeing Us Off

It’s amazing how a “few months” can turn into nearly two years.

We moved ashore this time of year (or so) in 2014. The plan was to get moved in and sorted out in time to return to the Bahamas in the Winter of 2015. OK, it wasn’t a plan so much as an idea. As ideas go it was butter sculpture. Things melt faster here.

What we hadn’t counted on was an underlying layer of burnout when it came to the boat. It was mostly driven by frustration with weather windows and the excessive amount of time spent in marinas. The local natural limitations on sailing (water depth and channel width*) and the lousy Florida attitude toward cruisers didn’t (and still doesn’t) help. *[Last year, we took the boat for a haulout and bottom job some 15 miles north of here. We ran aground in the marina channel five times. Inside the marina, we had to plow the keel through muck to get to the haulout slip which we couldn’t enter for several days. This was with the cruising guides and the marina owner assuring us six feet were available to the slipway.]

We almost went to the Bahamas this winter. We almost went to the Keys. Weather thwarted one and water depth the other. We talked about catamarans, centerboard boats and powerboats. None of those do anything for the Florida attitude which became legislatively worse this winter. Florida has criminalized anchoring in several locations and will, no doubt, add many more.

But the sailing itch was returning in a big way. The house and its surrounds are pretty much the way we want them. The boat is subjected to the Florida climate, day in, day out. We are still healthy and vigorous, but for how long?

So, We decided to give the Keys a look see for ourselves…and then friends with a sister-ship returned from there with a report that left us ambivalent (-). So, we decided we’d check out the Indian River Lagoon — where we learned to sail and race 43 years ago, where we live, where I volunteer. Kind of like taking a Sunday drive to see what’s changed.

We set a departure date. Hah!

The air conditioning cooling pump failed the day before we were to leave. I yanked the old one out and made some wiring changes dictated by the new one I had ordered online with premium shipping (ching, ching) which arrived on the same day non-premium would have. Of course, the mounting pattern didn’t match the old pump’s.

Then it was oops. We need to charge the bluetooth headsets we use when anchoring/docking. They failed to recharge, and three calls later I was told by the manufacturer “if they fail in warranty we replace them, if out of warranty, no repairs are available.”  They were about two weeks out of warranty. The dealer made good on this though. But they didn’t arrive in time for our departure, so we were back to hand signals.

A few nits and noys popped up and were dealt with in the longer wait for the pump.

Finally, off we went.

late spring 800 (3)

Perfect Conditions

We sailed from Wabasso all the way to our Eau Gallie anchorage half the way north toward our destination — The NASA Causeway to watch a Falcon 9 launch. Janet refused to relinquish the helm, and the wind was perfect for a staysail and full main all day.

And then the anchor windlass failed. I would press the toe switch and maybe the anchor would go down (or up) and maybe not. Maybe waiting half a minute made a difference and mostly not. I got out the hand crank and discovered cranking a couple of links of chain almost always solved the problem. So it seems as if the motor has developed a dead spot. This would become problematic in a few days.

The Falcon was scrubbed, and we bid The Oehler’s on OUR DREAM (another sister-ship) adieu as they headed back north into what would become tropical storms Bonnie and Colin.

The next evening we watched the launch from a semi-sheltered spot farther south.

So far, the weather had been wonderful. Sailing breezes, warm days and open hatch nights with only a sheet needed from 0400 on.

late spring 800 (1)

Not So Perfect Conditions

Then we anchored near Melbourne for our first squall line as daily thunder was back in the forecast at 80%. The anchor was well set, but the wind shift was 180 degrees and jumped from zero to 30kts. We gained enough momentum in the 200 feet we traveled on the shift to pop the anchor out of the bottom. Gorged with mud, it could not reset, and we were headed for causeway rocks. With the windlass unreliable, I jumped topsides and fired up the engine and motored us into the squall, balancing between over-riding the anchor chain and the damage that can do with not drifting into a field of crab pot floats and the possibility of getting caught up…all this while under a barrage of lighting, the closest about 500 feet off our bow.

It lasted 20 minutes. When done, the plotter track looked like a drunk had been playing with an Etch-A -Sketch. We put out more chain, a lot.

For the remaining days, the Florida Boomers went either north or south, and most evenings were punctuated with lightning flashes and distant rumbles.

late spring 800 (2)

One of a dozen or so that rode our wake.

And so we spent 10 days out and about. We stayed north of Vero Beach because there is no there there for sailboats to the south in the Lagoon.

We are back to planning for the Abacos, and with no schedule it’s so much easier.

Did I mention the eleven year old microwave oven died on the first attempt to use it? (…and none of the replacements we can identify fit the space the old one went in.)

Or that something large and avian landed on our masthead wind indicator and destroyed it?

It’s a boat…


When I was in college 45 years ago, we had an Argentine student in our department who ate his mess-hall steaks with the strangest green sauce from home. (He got a bottle once a month.) Being an adventurous eater, I tried some, and Wow.

Years later, I found a bottle of the green stuff in a gourmet deli (= $$$). It didn’t hold a candle to my memories of piquancy, herbaceousness, and unctiousness. The Argentine restaurants that popped up here and there serving meat, meat, meat offered it, but it still wasn’t what his family had sent him (and thus me).

Last Sunday, I made a Cuban Pork Roast for Easter dinner, and we had enough left over for two more meals. We decided a sauce was in order, but I didn’t want it to compete with the rub and marinade I’d used. So we prepared the following and realized after the fact we had made Chimichurri. We “pulled” the pork before adding the sauce. It’s not strictly Argentine, but it is GOOD.

1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp roasted garlic
1/4 cup fresh finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh finely chopped basil
Splash Rice vinegar
Splash Agave syrup
Lime juice
Double splash Olive oil
Tbsp Melted Butter

Mix well and heat in microwave to release spice oils. Allow to sit for a half hour.  Adjust the acid-sweet balance. Makes enough for 2-3 five ounce portions of meat.


First, Badia “Redfish Blackening Spice” has been re-labelled (here, at least) “Seafood Seasoning Creole Blend.”

Second, we have gone for more nuanced heat by mixing one measure cayenne with one ground chipotle with one smoked paprika which we call Smopacachi

The recipe is now:


*7 Badia Seafood Seasoning Creole Blend + 1 oregano + 1 ginger + 1 basil +1/4 Smopacachi

Works great on veggie chips and popcorn too.

Evolutionary Cornbread

GreenCHilliesMade the emergency cornbread again, This time added a small half-drained can of fire roasted green chilies and folded them in. Baked for 14 minutes (+2). Bread had an almost souffle-like texture. Yum!

Emergency Cornbread

emercrnbrdReturning from our Christmas vacation, we were tired of eating out and knew we had some frozen Brunswick Stew at home (our traditional way to use up turkey left from Thanksgiving). We had no trouble convincing each other it would be best with some cornbread. Oops.

The pantry was bare — the cornbread mix we knew was there wasn’t. So we pulled out a favorite scratch recipe. The pantry didn’t contain cornmeal, and the fridge has never had buttermilk in it as far as we  know. So, having been in Scouting and Camp Fire Girls, we MacGyvered.

Janet remembered we had some lime tortilla chips being saved for nachos. These I crushed and then ran through the blender until they were cornmeal again. I remembered we had some Greek Yogurt (5 oz), and this we topped off with fat free milk to 1 cup plus a tablespoon.

Emergency Cornbread recipe

  • 1/2 cup AP flour,
  • 1 cup finely ground corn chips (consider all the variety this offers)
  • 5 oz  Greek yogurt, topped to 8 oz + 1 tbsp w/milk
  • 1 tsp sugar (or agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • salt from chips + 1/2 tsp (or 1 tsp if using cornmeal)
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk.

Mix wet ingredients. Mix dry ingredients. Mix together (I use a whisk for this). Allow to sit while preheating oven to 425 deg F. Preheat pan (pref cast iron) in oven. When oven is at temp, remove pan and grease/oil it. Pour mixture into the pan and level it. Cook until toothpick comes out dry from the center of the cake — about 12 minutes).

The result was excellent. It was a Johnnycake, hoe cake, cornmeal crumpet, that really complemented the stew. The left over cake sliced horizontally and toasted made a great breakfast.  As usual, this experiment has led us to think of other ways to use this recipe.  With onions, garlic, peppers and chopped seafood, we can see it as a great fritter mixture.