Wednesday, December 17, 2008


We had an open house and nobody came.

That's not entirely true. Beth, our realtor's office manager, stopped by. She brought each of our realtors -- Jim and Dana -- a small St. Joseph's statue. As the tradition goes, you bury the statue upside down in your yard and it brings you a buyer.

Not being Catholic, I looked up St. Joseph to see what his deal is. Turns out he's Jesus' stepdad! Mary's husband, the dude who raised Jesus. (I wonder if god paid child support?) Wikipedia has more than I wanted to know about Joe and is totally sketch about what we really want to know: how did little Joe become the upside down, subterranean saint for real estate transfer?

Who thought of this saintly torture? "Okay, Joe, i'm putting you head first in the ground until you sell my house."

My feeling about this and most religious/superstitious traditions (feng shui, sage burning, clapping, etc.) is, hey, they can't hurt.

Dana and I promptly planted the little guy in the front yard, arse over teakettle.

My favorite part of this whole episode is the source of our little icon: I bet the St. Joe kit is the only thing involving "home sales" that's booming.

Monday, December 15, 2008


"I love beach glass so much that I bought a tumbler." -- a wine shop customer

Let's ponder this choice:

a. Go to the beach, day after day, walking along the ocean's edge scouring the shore for those little bits of sparkling treasure, the only time nature conquers human litter to create something beautiful. Breathe in the crisp ocean air, let the water lap around your feet, the wind ruffle your hair. Repeat. Repeat.

b. Break glass, throw it in your tumbler. Turn it on.

Sure, in the end you might have something that closely proximates sea glass, but what have you traded?

Never sell patience short. Impatience rarely pays dividends.

Daily reminders from the universe for those choosing to pay attention.

--got all the outlets in Isabella working
--installed the newly varnished wood on the boom crutch
--decorated the house for Christmas
--took turns the last 2 1/2 weeks being sick

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Chip and Tammy should:

a. Wait until their house and business sell before cruising.
b. Keep the business, rent the house and cruise on Isabella (current boat).
c. Sell the house, keep the business and buy an Island Packet to cruise on.
d. Sell the house, and live on the boat until the business sells.
e. Fill in the blank

That's the question we've posed to the universe. The last option is there just in case we're not smart enough to figure out the right option on our own.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Oh, ick. I'm gagging at that title too. And, now that you mention it, I meant fable, not fairy tale.

That old saw about the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race, came to mind this morning as we were discussing our plans.

I'm a burrower. When it's time to wait for a sign, I just hunker down and wait. A hurricane can pass overhead, and I'll stand planted in one spot and wait, quiet as death.

Chip's a builder. When it's time for a sign, he'll paint one. If a hurricane passes overhead, he'll build a shelter, invite friends and cook a feast. There will be drinks, music.

The burrower and the builder. Vivre la difference!

So here we are, a whole plan laid out: sell everything and move onto a boat, and we're stalled on that first half: sell everything. Now what? I'm prepared to hunker down and wait it out. Chip's agitating, wondering what we're doing wrong, what we can do differently.

My experience with fables is that they're rarely true. That one about crying wolf? We all know that it's the squeaky wheel that gets oiled. And I don't know of any race that can be won by being slow.

We've scheduled another board meeting (with drinks and music) to decide whether to be slow and steady, to squeak, cry wolf or all of those things.

If you're looking for us, we'll be at the table fable-making.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


"The unexamined life is not worth living." --Socrates

If we examine it a LOT does it become more worthwhile?

Our two prospective business buyers phased themselves back down to phase one this week. No one has looked at the house in almost a week. We both have colds. The economy continues being sucked down a black hole. Terrorists attacked Mumbai (which, before this week, I would have sworn was in Africa. Call me Sarah.) The big three automakers have downsized to the tiny three and are groveling before Congress begging for money. (Oh sure, now you decide to drive hybrids.)

We were both feeling feckless, aimless, lost, so we took a page out of Fortune 500 and called a board meeting. (Oh yeah, carmakers! We walked to our meeting.)

The universe had apparently issued us an intermission; we felt we should find ways to use it productively -- other than playing cribbage.

For the small picture, we identified a few more projects and planned an open house next week.

But more importantly, we added a big picture item: reconnecting with friends. We've been lousy friends since we opened the store -- just ask them. And now that we've spent the last few months with the wagons circled, we want to turn our gaze outward, tightening the bonds that are what truly keep us afloat.

And then we played cribbage.

Monday, December 1, 2008


... must be prepared to have patience in difficult times
and to know that the Universe is conspiring in our favor,
even though we may not understand how.
--Paulo Coelho

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Have you ever noticed how we measure everything? our language is rife with quantification: inches, feet, yards, miles, ounces, pounds, tons, dimes, quarters, dollars, points, percentages, grades, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, decades, millennia. We measure time, money, age, distance, square footage, height, weight, stock value, temperature, home value, retail sales, anything, everything.

But now that I have something I'm dying to measure, I find there's no tool or unit of measure that applies.

People ask us almost daily when we're taking off, a practical question that begs for a definitive, yes, measured answer, a date and time so we can all mark the days. The future without markers is mysterious, incomprehensible and a little bit frightening.

But there's no time deadline for when the house and business will sell. We long for a ticking countdown clock so hours, days, weeks would become relevant.

There are no projects left to mark our progress.

There's no partial sale of property to show headway.

Each time somebody looks at our house, we do mental math: if we get an offer today, that would be a week to get a contract, 45 days until closing. We would be out by January, February, March.

After a prospective buyer has been in the house, we scour the aftermath for clues. Did they move the curtains to look at the back deck? If not, they must not like the place enough to see the view. Did they take one of our flyers? If so, surely they like the house.

This type of measured guesswork is full of pitfalls and false positives. The people who looked at the house yesterday took both the house flyer and the boat flyer. The curtains had been pushed aside. Three points! We were ecstatic.

Turns out they LOVED the house, but felt it was too small.

Today our ghostly visitors neither took the flyers nor moved the curtains. Minus two points.

Three points forward. Two points back on a scale of all or nothing.

Friday, November 28, 2008


It's there. Our house is on the New York Times Web site. Ours is the one listed under Kill Devil Hills and is the photo on the left with a purple wall.

Honestly, that wall only looks bright purple when you use flash photography. The rest of the time it's mostly dark and muted. Really. It's not garish. Really.

The house is featured in a column in their Great Destination real estate section called "What you get for $XXXX." They choose a price and go to groovy destinations photographing houses you can buy for that amount. They randomly chose our house based on the MLS listing.

The pictures they took are lovely, but they made a few odd choices. Like, I wonder why they would put a picture of that bedroom with only a couch and not the beautiful master bedroom?

But that's just me .... maybe someone will LOVE that couch room and buy the house!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


We often focus on being poised at the brink of something new, but the spot where we're standing ain't so bad either. We have three healthy, happy kids. Two of them, Dylan and Brett on the right there (okay, he's our acquired son), are home for Thanksgiving. They used to be tiny boys, and look at them now. We're very proud. Casey stayed in Asheville, but we get to see her next month.

We have an amazingly successful business, a beautiful house -- that's being shown tomorrow! We have our families, our health, our friends, our senses of humor. What else could one want?

Some pumpkin cheesecake perhaps: great recipe and it's South Beach friendly!

Sunday, November 23, 2008


We borrowed our friend Lawrence's sewing machine to put a 15' zipper in that sail cover there on the right. somehow, between the three of us, we couldn't get the sewing machine to work right. We'll call the dealer tomorrow in hopes of getting some help.

Lawrence's machine is a Sailrite -- a model we might buy for the boat. With a portable machine onboard, we figure we can make some extra money repairing sails and canvas, not to mention making our own repairs.

Tomorrow, we're going to have a look at the Moorish Idol. It's not a religious icon -- or a fish. Actually, "Moorish Idol" is a fish, but the one we're seeing is an Island Packet 35', the one we visited last week in Great Bridge, Virginia. This time we're making an appointment to see inside.

Does it seem like we're "about to" do a lot of things?

In the meantime we're learning to play cribbage, a card game that appears in much sailing literature. We were curious, so we got our friend Coffee John to teach us. It's not too involved but complicated enough to hold your interest, you pone.

--attempted a sail cover fix and failed
--packed up the Froli bed springs from Isabella and stowed all the future boat stuff in closet
--started packing boxes to ship to New Mexico
--polished the brass instruments to put back on the newly varnished bulkhead (photos soon)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


We gave away $10,000 yesterday. That's what it felt like, anyway. We reduced the price of our house by $10,000.

The theory goes: if we stay in the house another 6 months, we'll be spending $10K++ paying interest. Likely buyers will be around in the next 6 weeks, after that, we'd be stuck until May.

The New York Times is coming tomorrow to do a photo shoot for their column "What can I get for $$$." We'll be the "what can I get for $350,000." they focus on 'destination' locations so their readers can dream of living somewhere else. Maybe someone's dream will come true.

A someone is looking at the house Saturday. We'll spread fairy dust around before they get here.

Both of us have this feeling that everything is at hand ......

--obsessed over staging the house for the photo shoot
--reduced the price of the house
--watched the stock market continue its freefall

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


As we field questions about our new life, it has become clear that we know a lot more than others about how this will work, which makes us leave out some important details that we think are obvious. Here's a short synopsis of how we imagine cruising life unfolding.

We are selling everything: business, house, cars, furniture, everything that won't fit on a 35' sailboat, which has two cabins, a living area, a bathroom and a kitchen. That's a picture of the Island Packet 35 salon.

Part of the money from cashing out will go to purchase the boat for about $100-120K (remember, it's our house). We will allow ourselves to use the interest from the remainder of the cash, but the rest has to come from gainful unemployment. Ideas for that are still forming.

As of now, November 18, we have the house and the business on the market. We're starting to get serious action on both. Once we sell the business, we expect to spend up to several months training the new owner. It's likely to be 4-6 months until we are ready to float.

The sailboat will be our full-time, year-round home. We'll travel from place to place, much like in an RV but on the water. There's an engine we can use to motor in and out of marinas, through tight places that are too narrow to sail and be a backup if there's no wind. The goal is to sail as much as possible, because wind is free.

Some amenities will be similar to living onshore. for instance, cooking will be about the same only with propane instead of gas. Others will be more akin to camping. For instance, we will charge the batteries with the engine and solar panels, but we will have to use power sparingly since it takes a while to renew. Also, we will wash clothes either by hand or at laundromats onshore.

The boat we hope to get is beautiful, spacious (to us) and comfortable. there is an onboard shower (tiny) and a toilet that flushes into a holding tank that has to be pumped out regularly, like an RV. Eventually we plan to install a composting toilet, which naturally decomposes the waste into fertile soil, which can be dumped safely just about anywhere -- eliminating one more land tie.

It will have holding tanks for more than 100 gallons of water, but we plan to add a watermaker. Onboard watermaking gives you more freedom without worrying where your next source of drinking water will be. It also eliminates the hassle of carrying bulky and heavy containers to and from shore to fill up your tanks.

We will most often anchor the boat rather than being at a dock, because anchoring is usually free. However, that leaves us at least 20 yards, sometimes more, from shore. We will have a small boat or "dinghy" with an outboard motor for ferrying to and from the boat. Everything that goes on or off the boat will be hauled with the dinghy, which will be raised and lowered from the boat using either pulleys on the stern (see on left) or using the same halyards used to raise the sails. The dinghy rides on either the pulleys or on the deck.

We will have folding bicycles that we will carry to shore in the dinghy and use to run errands, sightsee and buy groceries. The bikes will be stowed belowdecks either in the back cabin or in a locker in the cockpit.

Ideally, we hope to be as green and as self-contained as possible. It will take a while to get there, but that's the goal. We will buy diesel fuel, which is available all over the world, and food as needed, provisioning long-term for passages and unexpected periods of either no access to food or only to food that's too expensive for a cruiser's budget.

Where will we go? The beauty of this is that we don't know and don't have to know. We will likely start by heading north if hurricane season is at hand. We'll spend time in and around D.C., the Chesapeake and New York visiting friends and family while we get to know a new boat and fit it out before heading offshore.

Once hurricane season has passed, we will head south to Florida and across to the Bahamas. Our first season will be spent island hopping in the Caribbean. That's as far as we've planned. Eventually we'll Cross the atlantic and cruise around in the Mediterranean.

Any questions?

--ordered a zipper for the sail cover

Monday, November 17, 2008


Lisa Todorovich and Rick Porter
November 15, 2008
Richmond, Virginia

It was a privilege to witness such happiness.

On the way home we looked at three Island Packet 35s, two in Deltaville and one in Great Bridge, Virginia. All our homework is beginning to pay off. When we step into a boat now, we can make a call in about three minutes.

It sounds corny and literary, but every boat has a personality. It may be more the spirit of its owners, but there's a definite vibe. It becomes obvious as we look at boat after boat that should be cookie cutter replicas. One feels warm and welcoming, peaceful, the next cold and tense.

The boat in Great Bridge was under pine trees, covered in pine needles. The day was brisk, a little cold, yet something about that boat was warm and welcoming, almost homey. For just a moment, Chip sat in the cockpit with his feet up, sipping his coffee. When I turned and saw him there, it transported me to that day soon, when the boat will be our own and the dream will be at hand.

"No heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams" -- The Alchemist

--cleared out a few more things in the house
--started cleaning and clearing the boat to take interior photos
--gathered data for a prospective buyer for the store

Thursday, November 13, 2008


No, that's not a serious bike accident. It's seriously on purpose: a folding bike.

We've been looking at, riding, pondering folding bikes for several months. I prefer the Dahon, which I rode at the boat show. Chip likes the Downtube, whose inventor lives just south of us in Avon. We went to visit him a few months ago and rode these Jetson-like bikes. We were like kids on Christmas morning when it arrived yesterday, the big box, the shiny new bike inside.

It opens up to a full-sized bike and, more importantly, folds down to a compact mass of metal and wheels. It has two important features for our salty boat environment: all stainless steel construction and gears enclosed in a drum. It has one feature that makes me rethink the Dahon: front suspension.

We'll play around with this one until we decide if we want another Downtube or a Dahon. In a continued effort to avoid all matching gear, we've decided if I get a Downtube, it will have to be red.

Oh, one other feature, Chip's favorite: the bell.

--third coat of varnish on Isabella's bulkhead

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The teak. I started stripping the bulkhead in Isabella so long ago now, it's hard to remember. Then we had a beer festival.

Today, rested and renewed, I got back to it. Chip helped me sand off the last of the varnish. After a couple of sanding rounds, I got the first coat of 50/50 varnish on and cleaned up all the teak dust. What a mess. Tomorrow will be coat two and, if I get an early start, coat three as well. By the end of the week, we'll snap some interior photos and make some flyers. If it doesn't sell by January, we'll list it with a broker.

Remember those beautiful toe rails? They've started deteriorating around the edges, damn it! If the warm weather forecast next week comes true, I'll sand and get some more varnish on there. I guess six coats wasn't enough. Sigh.

We'll be looking at another Island Packet on Monday! Maybe that will bring our dreams closer. We're both feeling far, far away from the cruising world. Far, far away.

--got the first coat of varnish on the bulkhead
--Chip ordered his Downtube bike!
--varnished the boom gallow wood
--cleaned the teak dust out of the boat

Monday, November 10, 2008


Waiting has made us watchful. We look for signs. Signs that the waiting is worthwhile, signs that we need to change course, signs that we need to keep steady.

Some cultures think a praying mantis can direct a child home, point toward Mecca or even raise the dead. We just hope it means good luck.

The day we listed the house we found a praying mantis perched on the front porch. Last Saturday I found one in front of the store. And that night as we sat on the back porch with cigars and port, I saw a shooting star.

Quick! Make a wish.

Friday, November 7, 2008


As history unfolds around us, we maintain daily life and attempt, when times allows, to dream.

Three people have looked at our house in the last week.

More prospects for the business have emerged. It's a little reminiscent of the early presidential field. You look at a lot of candidates and wonder who will remain standing at the end. Or maybe it's just that time of year ....

In all this, we try to keep focused on the true goal. We have an appointment a week from Monday to see a boat in Deltaville, Virginia. It will be a good reminder of what we're working toward.

And that's my plan next week on my days off: get my head back in the RIGHT game.

Monday, November 3, 2008


This election has been as slow in coming as Christmas to an 8-year-old. Right now, 25 hours before the first results come in, the whole country, maybe even the whole world is listening for Santa to land on the roof, wondering if he'll be the usual old gray-haired guy or a Santa of a different stripe.

Chip says if McCain wins he'll denounce his citizenship. (Actually, I think he's serious. He's been country shopping.) I say if Bush wins a third term, I'll denounce mine.

So what do we do? Go shopping. We bought Chip some pants to wear to a wedding next week and those hot hiking boots. It's all part of the buy-while-you-have-an-income plan.

He's also been bidding on Downtube folding bikes on Ebay. They cost $459 new, so he's trying to snag one for $350 or so.

Me? I've been working on my election spreadsheet. More on that tomorrow.

--bought Chip's hiking boots!
--did some more house staging

Sunday, November 2, 2008


In the evenings we sit on the back deck, have a cigar and a drink. We talk about our lives, what happened today, what might happen tomorrow, our progress toward our goal. It's no easy task measuring progress in units of waiting.

What constitutes a waiting unit? 24 hours? I waited one unit today. Do we get extra waiting points if we wait nicely?

We are admittedly bad at this part, this waiting thing. We worked so hard to get trimmed, slimmed, planned, ready. And here we sit.

We talk about the order. We want the boat to sell first, because if the house sells first, we don't have a place for the boat. But if not the boat, we want the house to sell first, because it costs money. If the business sells first, we don't have an income.

First: boat
Second: house
Third: business

Or simultaneously, of course. Unlikely. So we wait.

--painted the bowsprit
--installed the back porch light
--stripped the wood on the boom gallows
--looked longingly at the new Island Packet 35s on the market.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


How to buy our business:

Phase One:
Talk to the broker. Get preliminary information.

Phase Two:
Submit financial credentials. Sign nondisclosure agreement. Get P&L statement and company profile.

Phase Three:
Make an offer.

Our broker notified us that somebody moved to Phase Two this week.

We're still in a deep haze from the beer festival. Alas, it's not from drinking. It's from fatigue. Looking forward to some days off this weekend!

Monday, October 27, 2008


The beer festival is behind us now, and the universe is stirring.

After one month on the market and one person looking at the house, it's time for some action. The New York Times called our real estate agent this morning. They want to use our house in their What You Get column.

Then someone called for an appointment to see the house Wednesday morning. Then someone called for an appointment on Friday morning.

It must be house week.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


In boating it's important to watch and wait for weather windows. You can't plan a passage based on the calendar. It's more complicated than that, at least if you're smart.

You have to wait until all the right conditions converge that will allow a safe passage.

Unfortunately, when you plan a beer festival you have to base it on the calendar and hope against hope a weather window will open up around you.

The weather forecast for the week is clear except for pouring rain on the day of our beer festival.

There's a window there, but we can't see out for the rain.

Last year, it didn't rain from the end of July until October 27th, the day we had our first beer festival.

Let's review: the first year it rained. The second year it's supposed to rain. We're beginning to wonder if somebody's sending us a message here. Have a rain festival? Include mud wrestling as a stage event? Hire ducks as parking attendants?

But maybe, just maybe that little rain cloud will move on to another day.

In the meantime, we wait.

Is it just me, or do we seem to be doing a lot of waiting lately?

--checked the weather about 15 times
--got a bid on another big tent

Monday, October 20, 2008


In August my dream of cruising was so close it was tactile. I think my eyes were red from the salt and sun, I could hear the water gurgling while I slept. Or maybe that was the toilet leaking.

Either way, cruising seemed close enough to touch.

And then a huge monster loomed up on the horizon, snorting and foaming. We call it Pig Stein, our annual beer and bbq festival hosted by us and our friend Will, who owns High Cotton BBQ. This year we have 25 pit masters competing, 48 breweries coming, and we expect more than 2000 people.

My days are spent drawing diagrams of the festival site, ordering tents and porto potties, arranging for dumpsters and trash cans, scheduling radio interviews, recruiting volunteers, and most stressful of all, watching the weather forecast change from 40% chance of rain to 20% chance and back to 40.

What's that proverb about knowing what you can change and what you can't and totally freaking out about the latter. That's a paraphrase.

The good news is the festival is this Saturday. What I will change is my focus. Starting on Sunday my thoughts will be consumed by gentle tradewinds, the warm, warm sun and water as deep as forever.

--sold the banjo
--got the generator working
--put the boat on and wilmington craig's list

Thursday, October 16, 2008


More boat shopping. Seven Island Packets in one day. That's Nan Shan in the photo. It was a great boat at a great price, but we don't want a centerboard.

What those seven taught us:
>We still don't want a 38.
>Centerboards are a steal if you want them.
>The 35 v-berth is plenty big for us both.
>They all have stern access so a scoop is an expensive luxury we don't need.
>Just because it's an Island Packet doesn't mean we'll want it. We saw some pretty rough boats.

We think we're ready to buy a boat. Now if we just had some $$$.

--decided what boat we want (!)
--started varnishing the bowsprit seat and grate

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Dude, we went to the Annapolis Boat Show with hundreds in cash ready to drop and run. Foul weather gear, life jackets, folding bikes, even anchors. We were armed and dangerous.

Here's what we bought:
RAGZ -- those clothes on the right, shown sitting on the couch without us

Okay, we also bought a Chesapeake Bay Cruising Guide, but seriously, that's it.

We amused the sales reps of all the major brands of foul weather gear by trying on the offshore jackets and testing all the adjustments. It's not too unlike putting on a straight jacket what with all the velcro and zippers and adjustments. One jacket required a team of two to get me deployed. I'm not sure how you accomplish that alone on a rolling boat. They really should have put me in a moonwalk with 20 jumping kids for the true test. All jackets considered, we preferred Gill but passed on the 'deal,' since the only foul weather in our immediate future can be viewed from where those RAGZ are sitting.

An anchor line reel tempted us. It was on deal for $225, which was about half price -- the reel deal. But that's such a luxury, not in the top 10 (20 or 30). pass again.

We almost rode away on a Dahon folding bike. I was smitten by the air pump hidden inside the seat shaft. The next morning we had a bad case of un-buyer's remorse and tried to call the rep. Denied.

We're still armed and apparently not dangerous. But one thing worries me. We've promised each other two things:
1. We'll never dress alike.
2. We'll never dress up like pirates.

Apparently we missed the Blackbeard costume booth.

--decided on our brand of foul weather gear
--chose Mustang life jackets but need to find a good deal
--narrowed down our boat search (more on that tomorrow)
--learned a lot from show reps
--found out there's no way we can afford web connection via satphone

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Our past boat show visits have been fun but dreamy. We could only walk about and think wistfully of cruising sometime in the distant future. This year, with cruising so close at hand, there will be no wistful walkabouts. No, we're shopping.

Since we don't have our cruising boat yet, we're looking for all the accoutrement that is not boat specific: foul weather gear, solar panels, composting toilets, watermakers and harnesses.

On Monday, our broker has scheduled seven boats for us to look at. Seven in one day. What a luxury. It's almost time to decide between the Island Packet 350, 35 and 37. We get to see all of them side by side.

As a bonus, we can take a break from watching the stock markets plunge, watching our house sit idle and keeping the beer festival bandwagon on track.

Other forces in the universe are moving. More on that later . . .

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Wow, this blog could use some happy-ing up.

But, what can I say? We trimmed another 678 points off the Dow Jones today.

A presidential election with no incumbent is four weeks away, and the campaign is taking a backseat.

There's talk of the financial crisis overshadowing Christmas sales. The government of Iceland has seized three of its own banks to avoid bankrupting the entire country.

Our story is getting all intertwined with history.

--shredded more files (I'm starting to feel like I'm in the Nixon administration)
--sanded the bowsprit seat some more
--prepped the bowsprit for painting
--got rid of the last of the wood under the house

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


If we've learned anything in our journey together, it's that we must do the hard work of getting ourselves ready and, then, lie very still until the train comes into the station. The grace of waiting comes when the station is cold and deserted.

No, we didn't lose our minds and get two puppies. Chip sent me this photo in email this morning, a morning when we had to get up extra early to make a meeting about the beer festival. A morning when we'd been out late at a going away party after a power trip to visit Dylan in Wilmington. A morning when coffee wasn't enough.

All the email said was, "That's how it will feel for the first three weeks." He was referring to our imagined first three weeks anchored down in Ocracoke, the first three weeks after the waiting ends. What it didn't say is, "I'm so damned tired, I don't know how long I can do this." It didn't say, "Why did we take on this much? It's too much." It didn't say, "I want to sleep next to you until we can't sleep any more."

But it did.

--shredded miles of old tax files and paystubs
--sanded the bowsprit seat
--got the book "the cruiser's handbook of fishing," loaned to us by our friend rob
--continued the waiting

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The Dow Jones continued its plummet today, 508 points. Britain is trying to prop up their banks. The financial world is in a tailspin.

And yet, things are agitating in a good way in our world. Just today, somebody actually looked at our house, we got an email about our boat, and we sold our futon couch, sewing machine and kunga. Our business broker dropped by to tell us he's had a lot of inquiries, even though there have been no offers.

We talked to a kindred spirit today, a friend who is a little bit ahead of us on the road. He has already dispatched all of his belongings and plans to leave for his new life in Hawaii on Sunday. He's the first person we've talked to in months that truly understands exactly what we're doing, the paring, the piling, the gifting, the sacrifices, the joys.

Bon voyage, Shane. lead the way, we're not far behind!

--we clicked through a third of the vendors that will be at the boat show
--finalized plans to see 7 boats in Maryland next Monday
--unloaded more stuff in Wilmington
--moved a dresser out of the house and to a new home

Monday, October 6, 2008


We're in Wilmington attempting to escape for a few days. Instead we're at the hotel watching Wall Street collapse and the aftershocks reverberate in Europe. sigh.

There's no escape.

Our house has been on the market for nine days, and there hasn't been a single call. Not one. Every morning we make the bed, fluff the pillows on the couch, put away all the dishes. At night we come home, and everything is exactly how we left it.

Let's hope somebody looks at how pretty it is before the flowers wilt and the weeds grow back.

Big forces are moving in the universe. There must be something good in store for us. There always is.

--mounted the last dorade box
--started planning our attack on the Annapolis boat show

Thursday, October 2, 2008


One of my favorite belongings went away last Saturday, and I'm very sad that I don't know whether someone bought it at the garage sale or it got donated to charity. Why didn't I give it to someone who would care for it?

The 'it' was a palm-sized wooden box with delicate inlaid wood on the lid, a gift to me when I left my first grown-up job at Texas Tech University. When you opened the lid, it played "Try to Remember the Time of September," a lovely, bittersweet song I've listened to for 24 years.

The whole point of this blog is to remember. As I look back at my entries, they're mostly light and sweet, not so much bitter. The truth is, I've been reluctant to record the times I don't really want to remember.

But let us not forget August, a record breaking sales month at the wine shop. We were getting up at 7:00 a.m., working for two hours on the boat -- in the boiling sun -- then going to that crazy treadmill at the store, short-staffed, open late, answering stupid questions (yes, there are stupid questions). After the store closed at 9:00 p.m., we would work into the night putting stuff on Ebay, clearing out closets, sorting through belongings, copying CDs onto the iPod, shopping online for boats. I've never been a crier, but twice in August I was reduced to tears. Not those attractive soap opera tears that pool up and delicately spill down a gently blushed cheek. No, this was full-on, ugly face, Holly-Hunter-in-Broadcast-News bawling.

What could be worse? September. Once we got August out of the way, it was time to get serious about putting the house, boat and business on the market, which unfortunately meant hard labor, some of which is documented in this blog. Our days "off" were so labor intensive that "work" at the store felt like a vacation. September also launched the countdown to our beer festival, a many pronged event that requires a lot of time and coordination. And to stir it up, let's just throw in economic Armageddon and a couple of hurricanes. Tears would have been welcome, but in September the stress settled in my stomach. On two separate occasions, my stomach hurt so bad that I spent several hours throwing up.

Try to remember THAT time in September.

--had the packing gland fixed on the boat (it's an engine thing and if it fails, the boat sinks)
--finished the port side stanchions
--emptied and cleaned several cabinets in the kitchen
--gave away a few treasures to friends
--going to watch the debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden. do you think that will be memorable?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This journal of our plod to the water is meant to remind us of all the trials and foibles along the way, some more memorable than others. When we look back we want to remember not just the bright colors but all the shades in between. We want to remember how hot it was the day of our first garage sale, how ridiculously hard it was to box up that office chair we sold on Ebay, the days and days of labor to varnish the toe rails on Isabella, how long it took to put those CDs on the iPod.

Someday we'll look back and say, "Remember the week we put our business and house on the market, and the entire economy went to hell? Ha ha ha."

"House Rejects Bailout; Markets Plunge"
"Dow Suffers a Historic Drop, Falling 778 Points in Single Day"
"He [Paulson] warned that inaction would lead to a seizure of credit markets and a virtual halt to the lending that allows Americans to acquire mortgages and other types of loans."

If timing is everything, what does this mean?

We could fret, but we're not. We've done the hard work, the part we can control. The rest will be delivered when the time is right. All we have to do is wait and laugh.

We asked for a sign, and it says FOR SALE.

--put generator back together after repair
--the economy survived another day
--took final pictures of the house for the listing
--got a lot of beer festival stuff done. oh, yeah. in addition to everything else, we're planning a beer festival.

Monday, September 29, 2008


It's been an entire week of "lasts." last time to mulch the beds, last time to have a garage sale. And yesterday morning I told Chip we better eat up the last of what's in the pantry. When I went to make my lunch, what could I do but eat my own words? Although the pantry still holds tea, rice, cereal and some tiny jars of truffles, a lone can was waiting: Pace refried beans, FAT FREE. I spread it on corn tortillas with a little cheese. Not bad, really.

I've been procrastinating on another last: the very dregs of a whole office full of files and piles and keepsakes. It was a short pile among many, but this particular one, culled and handled at least four times, was too random and seemingly too hard to deal with when there were bathrooms to clean, stacks of junk to price, curtains to hang and gardens to mulch.

Today, I gritted my teeth and rifled through, sorting, deciding. I found my immunization records, which will go with us, or at least a copy. My college transcripts will wait for us in New Jersey in one of our two storage bins. A diary of my first trip out of the country goes in the New Jersey bin along with my first passport. A poem called Green Tennis Balls & Muddy Creek Water will go in my childhood scrapbook headed for my mom's in New Mexico. The poem was written by an almost forgotten classmate named John Parker, who obviously had a sense of humor and some time on his hands. It ends with "Oh, Tammy, come back, but this time bring some friends." I hope he's not still waiting. The poem was on top of a one-inch stack of my old writings from the last 15 years. I didn't have the energy or the guts to read through the pages -- be they masterpiece (SO unlikely) or trash (I'll take bets) -- so that's going to get pushed around until at least bedtime. zzzzzzzz.

There was a letter my grandmother wrote to me when she was 88, and I had just left the Southwest to live in the Outer Banks. It's a perfect distillation of her country charm and razor sharp wit in a chatty form of letter writing that now seems quaint. "Dear Tammy," she writes, "I haven't turned your picture to the wall yet" -- something she threatened to do if I moved to Europe. She hopes I've found a job and am enjoying "the colors" on the East Coast, as she referred to the leaves changing. She enjoyed the colors when she visited once but "was homesick ever night." She puts in a small report on the "folks" assuming they're o.k. because "I haven't heard otherwise." She gives a health update on her sister's dementia: "Sis is eating more and her head is better. She has gone to church the last two Sundays." I can't help but pronounce it "SUNdeez," as she would have done.

In an apology about her penmanship and spelling she offers: "If you can't read this let me know and I'll send you another one like it." Never one to ramble on, she ends the one-page letter with "Take care of yourself and come back home soon. (I mean to stay)," a failed campaign she continued through my final visit with her at 93.

I still haven't decided what to do with her letter -- or that nest still resting on my office windowsill.

Finally, the pile had nine pictures of my father when he was a teenager in the navy (he lied about his age to get in). I threw away four of the photos where he was too tiny to identify, put one in my scrapbook and the remaining three with his black-and-white, smiling face at the helm of the captain's boat will go with us on our own boat.

And that's the last bit of my very last pile.

--bought a light fixture for the back porch -- which doesn't fit
--bought a filter for the air conditioner intake -- which doesn't fit
--bought bins to store the photos to be stored at Chip's mom's. They fit!
--painted the stanchion bases
--fixed a leak in the water pump in the boat
--plowed through 13 years of taxes throwing away old receipts. Whew!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


The last garage sale is over! The Junk Road Show was a success.

We took four carloads of stuff to a friend's house for the last round. It was a ramshackle gaggle of objects: an ironing board, a machete, golf clubs, body boards, a wet suit, a Tibetan flag, a wine rack made out of rudders (really), quilting supplies, blankets, CDs, a Polaroid camera and two propane tanks. Maybe we could write a song .....

I put $5 on a nice $30 fan, and a man offered me $3. I'm like, are you kidding?

People kept asking me if I'm sad to get rid of all my stuff. I'm like, are you kidding?

It's all gone now. All of it. A 9-hour day, one trip to Goodwill and $180 later, we're free of all that stuff. We're FREE.

It could have been $183 if I just took the $3 for that fan .......

--ticked all but two items off of our "BEFORE WE LIST THE HOUSE" list
--bought tickets to the Annapolis Boat Show!
--got the stanchions and lifelines on the boat
--found the coolest mosquito repellent:
--found a place to live when the house sells!! and it's on the beach!!!!!