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w December 16, 2002

The Rude Wind's Wild Lament

It seemed an appropriately seasonal title for the current weather we've been enjoying in northern California...for those of you not in the area, we have been getting lashed by the tail end of a typhoon from Guam. It kind of reminds me of that line from "Good Morning, Vietnam", where the evil lieutenant is getting transferred to Guam and he freaks out, saying, "GUAM? There's nothing in Guam!!!!!!". Well, no, now it's here.

I braved the elements on Saturday to go Christmas shopping, and it wasn't too bad, albeit a bit soggy, but I came home to a power outage. Graded papers by candle and firelight, feeling much like Abraham Lincoln; when the power popped back on 2.5 hours later, it rather startled us, but then again, it was a relief. We had a respite for most of Sunday, getting hit again about 1 am...and this time the power stayed out for nearly 11.5 hours. Showering by candlelight is not as romantic as it sounds.

My wonderful school of employ had nothing today...no heat, no power, no phones. It was all most Laura Ingalls Wilder, a fact that was mostly lost on my whingy students, but we got through it. Wore our coats and did pretty low-tech work, but got through it. Tonight another doozy is scheduled, but at the moment, it's looking rather pleasant out, at least compared to the last two days. Stay tuned to see if we're afloat later in the week.

In keeping with the randomness of this blog, the title came to me because I have sung various snippets of Christmas carols to Bean in her bath as of late, and being the classy baby that she is, Good King Wenceslas was a great favorite. Jingle Bells didn't even rate a smile, but that Bohemian king and his page, well. She also grinned widely at Latin and medieval and plainchant, further confirming my bias that she is already an insanely cultured and highbrow child.

It won't be a white Christmas at Casa Hoffman, but neither do we want it to be a wet one...everyone cross your fingers and squeeze your eyes shut and wish mightily for a break in this tropical Santa's sleigh of windy, rainy delights.

by Heather Hoffman at 8:56 PM

w December 04, 2002

Adventures in Boating

Many moons past, my husband got a distressing glint in his eye, that, looked at closely, rather resembled the outline of a proud sailing ship. We got a boat. And took it up to the Sacramento River Delta last summer; now, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of being in the Delta in the summer, let me assure you...it's HOT. Really, really, really hot. Our original boat had neither air conditioning nor a particularly comfortable shower. It was a nice little boat, definitely, just not exactly equipped for multiple days in that sort of environment.

After a few soggy and faintly whiffy trips up there, I told said husband that while I had no problem with boating per se, it wasn't going to be my favorite activity until I could stay reasonably cool during the summer and I had the option of getting clean in some degree of comfort. So, because my husband is a dear and usually honors my requests, we are now the proud owners of a 47-foot Bayliner, circa 1995, renamed Carolina Pacific, complete with lashings of champagne and a ceremonious "purging" of the old name (hurling a metal spoon with "Corporate Therapy" written upon it into the deep for Neptune to strike from his record of vessels).

Carolina Pacific was trucked out from Lake Michigan to Anacortes, WA, and G brought it down to Tacoma to wait out the winter (and the 3-month California Tax Colony penalty for an imported vehicle). We hiked up to the Seattle area to spend Thanksgiving sur la mer, and it was actually really fun, although we certainly had a few misadventures. Thanksgiving was spent in Port Townsend, WA, a charming little port town even shuttered for the holiday; we managed a rather good turkey dinner and walked up an appetite for it cooing over the sweet (well, perhaps twee) shops along the main street in Port Townsend, and capped it all off with a spectacular sunset to the soundtrack of low ferry horns. It was all most convivial.

Friday we shot up to Victoria, BC, on the tip of Vancouver Island. Now, I am a one-generation-removed British Columbian (my father grew up in Vancouver, as did my grandfather), and yet the last time I was in Victoria, my great-grandmother was still living there. Vancouver has always been my favorite West Coast city, but I have to say, Victoria is giving it a run for its money. Victoria is, not surprisingly, THE most English city in Canada, and it's quite charming in a gently colonial way. I consider myself pretty much entirely American these days, but whenever I go to BC, I get just the teeniest bit homesick. People actually stop at crosswalks and let you cross! People are NICE to you! They say "sorry" when they bump into YOU! The only pity was that we were unable to have tea at the fabled Empress Hotel...next time.

Well, then we went to Seattle for Saturday night and Sunday day. And Vancouver and Victoria clunked into second and third place, mostly due to the allure of Pike Place Market. If I could, every weekend, go and get fresh produce like we saw, handmade sausages, fish that is thrown at you, those amazing little donuts...well, I'd be a happy girl. Granted, the weather pretty much sucks, but such a small thing! No, I'm quite happy to visit. It's just so lovely that three of my very favorite places are in such close proximity to each other. Just gives you kerwollops.

My scariest misadventure was when the foredeck sunpad flew off via the stern, and yours truly got to go fishing. I was teetering on the swim platform, brandishing the boat hook, watching this damn pad bob gently just inches too far, and it dawned on me that a) that water was awfully close b) that water looked awfully cold and c) I was awfully stupid to not have put on a PFD. We managed to snag the pad and drag the waterlogged little &**$*%! back up into the cockpit, but I got my first "boat bite" on my knuckle. And let me tell you, boat bites HURT. Still, I feel baptized now.

CP will enjoy its Puget Sound holiday until the spring, at which time G and a small crew will putter it back offshore so that we can enjoy summer in the Delta. With air conditioning. Y'all come on out!

by Heather Hoffman at 5:21 PM