Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Monday dawned all happy and YES, YES, YES.

I got an email from a prospective boat buyer telling me he had finally sold his boat and wants to come see Isabella.

A prospective business buyer emailed me with a few questions, because they are preparing to make an offer.

We didn't hear from any other house prospects, so at 10:30 p.m. last night, we signed on 823 dotted lines with confidence, utter joy and rum.

This morning, in celebration of having the house under contract, I flung my clothing all about the house, left celery leaves all over the kitchen counter and scoffed at the unmade bed.

Our realtor dropped by this evening to measure the downstairs bedrooms. One of the previous prospects wants to make a backup offer since we're under a contingency contract. Sheesh.

--We made a full lap of varnish: toe rails, companionway, garage and drop boards. A few more coats and I'll be DONE!
--Prepped for a photo op on the last soft spot in the deck. We're putting together a HOW TO article.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Some days come with labels. Today's was NO.

Have you ever watched a dog run full tilt to the end of his lead and get yanked to a painful halt? That was Sunday. From the very first thing I attempted until I stopped trying, I kept hitting the end of the lead. I've made a chiropractor appointment to repair the damage.

First thing, I tried to print out a simple document for the business prospects we were meeting at 11. The document wouldn't open. Then no matter how or where or what computer I tried, the damn thing would NOT print.

At one point, Chip walked into the office to find me crouched under the desk holding the laptop at arm's length.

"What are you DOING?"

"Don't ask!" I snarled ungraciously. "STOP TALKING TO ME."

No. Never did get it printed.

Despite the pall of the day, we met with our realtor late in the afternoon to ponder the offer on the house. It has a contingency on their house closing in a few weeks, which also has a contingency. The domino effect. Should we sign? While we were debating, the phone rang. Someone wants to see the house tomorrow at 11.

Really? Someone's calling on Sunday at 5 p.m. to look at our house on a Monday morning? Really?

Okay, LOUD answer. NO.

That's good. We don't like subtlety.

Friday, June 26, 2009


Okay, we got an actual offer on the house. It's not a bad one, although it has contingencies. It would close July 28.

I can't feel anything. What's wrong with me?


On Tuesday we had a conversation like this:

Me: Have you checked your email?

Chip: No, why?

Me: There must be an email about the boat. We're getting noise on the house and the business.

It's so routine now, the regular bouts of noise, only this week it's particularly loud. We had two showings of the house scheduled this week. The first one went like this:

I prepped the house, like I always do, but instead of leaving, like I always do, I went on the boat to continue my varnishing regimen. The people came out to the dock and I struck up a conversation, which I NEVER do. I'm about as likely to strike up a conversation as Joe Biden is to hold his tongue. So, they ask me why we're selling and in telling them I mention we have our store for sale.

"Really? We're moving here from Northern Virginia and want to buy a business."

Their agent made an appointment to bring them back to see the house, because it's in their top two.

The folks that came at 11 this morning are coming back at 5 with an offer. In the meantime, our realtor called with two more appointments to show the house tomorrow.

Some business prospects from D.C. -- the ones with 30 years of wine experience -- are coming to see the business Sunday.

Last night I got an email from the guy in New England who needed to sell his Catalina 30. He asked about our nearest airport. His email was a couple of days late ....

Speak up. I can't hear you. Loud. Very loud.

--All these house showing have upset my varnishing routine. It's been almost 48 hours since I put any varnish on anything. Maybe this evening ...
--In an effort to live in the moment, I've gone to the beach three days in a row now. I saw dolphins yesterday. Loud.
--Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett died in unrelated incidents.

BREAKING NEWS: It's now 3:39. There's a new appointment to show the house at 4:00. Got that? Showing at 4. Showing and offer at 5. Showing tomorrow at 10:30. Showing tomorrow at noon.

Oh, and Michael Jackson is still dead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'm back at it. Varnish, that is, hell's tea.

After that near-fatal varnishing incident a few weeks ago, I hadn't been able to walk the planks, so to speak -- until yesterday. How hard can this be? I know, I keep saying that. Truth is, it's a pain in the ass. However, when things go well, the end result is almost worth it.

Since it was unseasonably cool, I prepped the garage and companionway hatches. With some trepidation, I slathered on a layer of varnish with fair results. That bug loved it. I thought it was spotty, so this morning I went at them with 320-grit and had another go.

NOW we're talking.

I put one more coat on the companionway and taped the toe rails. If the stars shine right, I'll get a coat on those tonight and/or tomorrow.

--Two appointments to show the house this week. Yeah, don't get your hopes up.
--Staying open until 8 at the wine shop for the rest of the summer. Sigh.

Monday, June 15, 2009


If this were a movie, I'd be asleep by now.

If this were a book, I'd throw it against the wall.

If this were a TV show, it would have been cancelled mid-season.

This is my life.

--Have our staff almost fully trained.
--Somebody has looked at the house for the third time. A good sign?
--Business prospects coming in next week -- maybe.
--First big ad for Bayliss done. Then undone. We are limited only by imagination and second thoughts.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Chip fired me from the wine shop so I could be the transition team. One of my duties is to facilitate the sale of our house, boat and business. Shut up. I'm working on it.

Another is to develop my freelance career, so I'll have an income on the water. One step forward there. I just signed on with John Bayliss to redesign his website and handle his marketing and advertising.

Bayliss Boatworks is a thrilling story. John had been rampaging up and down the east coast for two decades winning sportfishing tournaments, but a few years back he decided to start building his own sportfishing yachts. I asked him how on earth he knew how to build boats. He said, "I'd been on and around them for years."

Yeah, I've been around cars for years, but I can't MAKE one. Seems John can. He has nine gorgeous mega-yachts already on the water and three in the making.

It's such a gas to step into a whole new world. I've been looking through sportfishing and yachting magazines, hanging out at the boatyard, watching tournament webcams. It reminds me of the time I went to the fire station for bingo night. I had no idea people were doing this stuff ...

--I'm ready to start varnishing again. We'll be finished with staff training by the end of the week, so I'll start slathering again.
--We plan to paint the decks on the boat in the next few days. Can't wait to see that. Remind me to take a BEFORE photo.

Monday, June 8, 2009


Sometimes I imagine myself in the driver's seat of my life, speeding along in what appears to be complete control. I come to an intersection and get totally fixated on what's down the road on the left. I turn on my blinker, spin the wheel left, and nothing happens. No matter what I do, even if I get out and push the car, I can't get it to go left. Defeated, I get back in, turn right and off I go, realizing at once that this was the "choice" I should have made all along. Damn it! Who's in charge here?

Our wine shop manager of two years is leaving to work on some other projects (Bye, E!), so our attention has shifted to hiring a whole staff for the summer. (Thank goodness things have actually been quiet on the other fronts.)

Blame it on the economy, but we had impressive applicants, applicants that made me wonder, "why are you applying for THIS job?"

After sorting them and then interviewing eight people, I decided on my top two candidates. I turned on the left blinker and spun the wheel.

I hired my first choice for a part-time summer position. I loved him, trained him, still loved him. He worked two days and quit.

The second guy had five years of wine shop management experience. I offered him the manager position, and he asked for a day to think about it. A week later after several hit and miss attempts to communicate with him, it was clear the left turn just wasn't going to happen.

So there I was, two weeks from our high season and our entire staff was Casey and Chip.

I turned on the right blinker, spun the wheel and 48 hours later we're training two awesome people.

Who's in charge here?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Our same bizarre pattern continues: NOISE, lots of noise, followed by weeks of utter silence. Since May 22, we've had one more day of noise that involved the house and business and our former business broker, all of which fell into a subsequent dormancy.

We listen, we wait, we reevaluate. We ask, we ponder. We hold.

One person has looked at the house in the last three weeks. We thought of lowering the price, but what good would that do if nobody's looking?

Our bevy of potential business-buyers increases almost weekly. We have several excellent prospects. All of them would have to relocate and get various levels of financing. It's a slow process. In the meantime, the summer season is upon us. We hope so save lots of $$$ this summer -- and maybe reward ourselves with a 37'!

--Chip finished all but one of the soft spots. We're going to photograph the filling of the last one.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Peyton Davis and Jeffrey Marcus
May 30, 2009
Duck, North Carolina

A few times this spring, we've been really happy that we're still at the beach. Big events that I've recorded here: babies being born -- and now a wedding. It's rare when far-flung friends bring the wedding to you. What a pleasure to have Jeffrey and Peyton here along with their families and so many of our mutual washingtonpost.com friends. A happy time. A happy union.

Note to Jeffrey: I may be an amateur photographer, but I found a way to make you look taller than Peyton!