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I finished up the mud flaps and attached them earlier today. I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

 

I also put in some new locking skewers and seat clamps on both Stella and Dark Star. Now I won’t have to worry about my wheels when I’m out and about. The new winter bike also got fenders, so no skunk tail for me! #teamfenders

I’m making some mud flaps for my friend. She saw the ones I made on Instagram and I would certainly benefit from her having them ;) We rode to Capitol Hill together for a birthday celebration and I came home splattered. Luckily it was after the party.

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I decided to make the colors a little bolder on this set. This is before conditioning. More to come.

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My friend noted that my bike was spitting at him. I’d totally forgotten that my fenders have no mud flaps anymore. The rubbery ones that came with the fenders had come loose and I’d removed them because they were rubbing on my tires. Time for new mud flaps! Just in time for the drought.

I decided I wanted to make them. I’d made from plastic before, but they didn’t last very well and don’t look especially nice after a few rides. I decided I wanted leather for Stella. She’s a good looking bike and deserves nice looking mud flaps. My roommate had leather that he hadn’t used, and he gave me a good chunk of it. I made a stencil of the shape and size I wanted and cut the leather with heavy shears.

I could have either stained the leather, or just conditioned it and it would have looked great. As I was looking up staining, I realized I’d have to go shopping, and I thought about the permanent markers taking up space in my room. I don’t use them often because the colors bleed on most paper, but they’d be great for this project!

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They are raw cow leather with a snake skin print, which I used to inspire my artwork. I let the ink sit overnight, although it probably wasn’t necessary. Next, I used Kiwi Mink Oil (which I’ve had for years and use on my waterproof leather boots) to condition them. I found that the oil wasn’t absorbing, and on the advice of my roommate, I put them in the oven for just a couple of minutes at around 175°F. That soaked the oil right in and I did that 2 more times. Again, I let it sit overnight.

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The oil did darken the leather, which I expected. I now kind of wish I’d used darker colors. Next time! These are still super cool and I think I could take a better photo of them when the sun is higher.

On Friday, I plan to drill holes in my fender to accommodate these and use some rivets that I have from another project to attach them. I may have to go get some that are longer, which wouldn’t be the end of the world because then I could get some that will match the bike better. The rivets that I have are bronze and everything on my bike is stainless or black.

All this is distracting me nicely from thinking about the biopsy I’m not able to get until early June. My doctor feels confident that the lump is benign, but we still have to check.

 

I had a very good day off yesterday. I spent the morning tiding up a few ends and pieces, then went out to the garage and worked on the derailleurs on Stella, the Kona Sutra. My front has been traveling too far–and I didn’t get that fixed, so I will need to take another look at it on Monday. My rear has been skipping and making noise, but still mostly shifted okay. Once I started in on it, things seemed a little more messed up. I realized I didn’t have the full range and that shifting was off by at least one ring. I ended up having to adjust the cable, and since I don’t have a tensioner, I had to push the derailleur to where I thought it should be, hold the cable and bolt in place while turning the allen wrench, then try again over and over until I finally got it. The cable end was pretty frayed by the time I was done. I then realized I was late and couldn’t test it.

So I took Dark Star out for a ride instead. That bike is just so delightful after riding my Kona fully loaded with commute gear for weeks on end. It’s just always ready to go with minimal worry. The brakes are always perfect, things shift just right, it’s light and fast. Add a little air to the tires or lube to the chain and off I go. The frustration of working on the derailleurs drifted away.

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I rode up to Kite Hill at Gas Works Park and met a friend. We sat and watched the people. Someone walked by below with a huge hundred dollar bill under their arm. Someone else had a picture taken in front of the chain link fence.  A young couple with kids argued about their destination, top of the hill or the playground with broad gestures.

We had lunch at the Pacific Inn and then I left him to ride up Stone Way. I had tickets for the Tilth Edible Plant Pre-sale, but that didn’t start for an hour, so I stopped for gelato and socks on the way. I do love socks.

At the plant sale, I met my best friend and we followed each other around to the different areas and chose just a few plants. I got sweet basil, mojito mint, and a variety of tomato called pineapple which is supposed to grow large yellowish orange tomatoes with a sweet flavor. These plants should compliment the seedlings I have popping up in the planters now. More tomatoes, a variety of peppers, lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, green onions and lemon balm. It’s fun seeing their little green heads pushing out of the soil.

I finished off the evening watching Star Trek: Discovery with my roommate.

The best thing is, when I rode Stella to work this morning, my rear derailleur worked like a dream.

Like many libraries, ours has been shifting attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), with a bit of art thrown in for fun and creativity (STEAM). We hired Juan Rubio about a year ago to join our Youth and Family Learning team. He is amazing and procures cool gadgets and funding for work hours to cover us learning about the cool gadgets. A few of the things he’s brought us are Geolocative Games, 3D Printing Programming, Little Bits, and Finch Robots.

So far I’ve had training on the Finch robots. We use Samsung Chromebooks with the Snap Extension. You can use the Snap without the Finch and program a Sprite to move around, so it’s worth checking out if you are interested in really basic programming. There are 4 levels of difficulty in Snap, which is useful in teaching. The picture below is level 3, which I find to have the most functionality and easier to use than level 4.

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Here’s where I warn you that I have no background in programming aside from a little HTML, CSS and XML. I do understand that the Snap commands represent a more complicated coding language underneath. I’ve even learned how to have the program show some of that language, but I don’t know what it means.

You can still teach Snap/Finches without knowing coding languages. It’s mostly logic once you get the hang of where everything is. You need a Control and a motion command in order to make the Finch do something. You can add operators and sensors and use variables to do more complicated sequences, as you can see above.

Some things were frustrating for me and the students. The Finches didn’t always behave as they should, even when the program was perfect. Sometimes the problem was that a student would have 2 or more programs running at once and they would interfere with each other. Other times the traction on the floor or table wasn’t good for the Finch’s wheels. Sometimes it just didn’t do what you told it to. Especially when it came to the sensors. I was able to turn this into a learning experience where we tried many different things to get the Finch to do what we wanted, trying different inputs and environments. The students learned that sometimes the environment is going to get in the way of what you want to happen.

I’ve had 2 groups of students so far. I do outreach at a local family housing community center, where families are transitioning out of homelessness. It’s long term housing, so they’re fairly stable, at least in having a place to live. The teens that I work with there are mostly girls from ages 11-14. For these classes, I went once a week for 3 weeks and had an hour each time. An hour was not enough and the teens have a lot of things on their plates, but we had a good time and they learned a lot. We’ll have our party in early May and students will be challenged to make their Finches dance, make music and do a light show.

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The other program I’ve had was at our branch over Spring Break. It was 3 days long with a party at the end of the 3rd day where they showed off the tricks they’d learned. This group was mostly boys, ages 8-12. They’d all had Scratch before, so understood most of the Snap programming basics. I had to modify the first few curriculum for them, then move quickly to the more advanced workshops.

My next training will be on the Geolocative Games. With that, we’ll create a game that is a digital scavenger hunt. There are a lot of ways to make this game beneficial to the community. One of my colleagues did a project with her service learning group where they researched the history of their neighborhood, then put locations named after iconic people into their game, with information to teach the gamer about the history.

It was a really fun and sometimes frustrating experience. Totally worthwhile. I wouldn’t have been as successful if I hadn’t had a very wonderful coworker at my branch who could help me with the more technical stuff. He is also a very patient and intuitive teacher and I learned a lot having him there to help with the outreach programs.

 

I had the weirdest dream last night. I don’t remember all of it, but I was on a supported ride, and I was riding alone. There was someone I was competing with, who was fairly evenly matched with me. We were racing along, taking turns at the front. At some point I lost him. Then I lost the ride itself. I ended up in sand. It was bright and sunny and I could see everyone up above, on a pathway that was paved and I was riding in sand along the bottom of a cliff.

I felt something go wonky with my bike, so I looked down. Suddenly parts of my bike were gone. The front wheel, my handlebars. I was left holding the stem. I didn’t crash, but I lost momentum and set her down gently. Suddenly I was in an urban area, climbing around an industrial building. I found a Mad Max style bike shop, thinking I could bring the parts of my bike there to get it fixed. I had to hurry though, I was loosing my nemesis.

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Then I woke up.

Raven was hauled out this last weekend, so Chris and I stayed in an Air BnB in a nearby neighborhood. It was nice to have a shower close at hand, but the bed was a bit small for the two of us.

Raven now has shiny new bottom paint and Chris was able to get a few other chores done that work best when out of water–sinking the depth sounder in the hull being one of those. Here’s a video about some of the work he did:

I finally got the ripped or degraded sections of the bright work covers mended. I ended up doing them by hand, as it was all a little too tough for my machine.

Chris was able to get out for a sail on Tuesday, while I was at work. It was a beautiful day with just the right amount of wind.

 

We are now back aboard and happier for it. We’re heading off on a trip to Mystery Bay for the long weekend. The kids have been doing a lot of practicing on the PFDs and kayaks after school and on the weekends, so they’re ready to have some fun.

Since moving to the boat, my bikes have not been stored in a manner befitting their status in my life. My Bike Friday Tikit has been a little better off, folded carefully each evening and stowed in the cockpit under the waterproof travel bag–thank goodness I bought that thing, even if it’s never been used to actually hold the bike.

My Surly was on deck under a bike cover that almost kept the water out. My saddle still became saturated and I bought a brooks cover for it, which for a while just kept the water in, but eventually saddle dried out enough for the cover to keep water out.

I was so embarrassed by these lowly forms of storage that I never took a picture of either one. I ride to work every day and no longer have a car of my own, so biking is my main form of transportation. Beats getting worked up driving and paying for a gym membership. I definitely don’t want my bikes rusting.

I was on a wait list for a bike locker, and the marina staff seemed to be having a hard time contacting people to see if they wanted one of the several available. A few days ago, after almost 4 months, I was offered a spot at the north end of the marina, with the promise that once one came available outside of our dock, they would transfer it. The Surly finally has a dry home.

And if you’ve ever wondered what the inside of one of those bike lockers looks like, now you know.

I don’t think I’ll be able to fit Lucille in there as well, even folded, but we’ll see. I won’t try until I get the closer locker. Chris found a better way to store Lucille for the moment, in our Dock Box. She just fits and stays very dry. I even leave my helmet in there to keep it from cluttering up the boat. So, bike storage managed! Finally.

We’ve been on Raven for over 2 months now and we get more and more comfortable there. At the same time, we keep finding things that need to be fixed, finished or could just be set up better. Chris has been revamping a lot of the plumbing and we recently had a wiring setback.

Our panel is old. Original probably, which isn’t surprising on a sailboat. You fix things when they break or you find them inconvenient. We hired a really awesome neighbor to fix it–and that is an awesome thing about boat life. You’re neighbors are often experts on the things you are not. We get a lot of free advice and help and we know when and who to pay when it’s time.

Chris is working on getting the sink drain fixed in the kids head along with hooking up the manual water pumps. I have been installing little battery powered lights in our dark nooks and crannies. I find that these work well:

They are bright and the batteries don’t need replacing often.

Chris and I also made a template of the area where I want all the spices today and we’re going to get some metal cut to fit the space. That will make all the space in there more useful. I still need to get more spice tins to use with it, and decide if I like the plastic or aluminum ones better. I’m also not sure about the magnets they come with, which seem unpredictable. I can replace them with these:

But I think I want to use the new metal plates first to see how it goes. I find that if I jump the gun on the next step, I often end up back tracking.

I’m also looking at an expensive set of nesting pans from Magma. We could definitely benefit from some more space in the galley, and our old Calphalon pans take up a lot of room with their handles sticking out every which way and need for multiple lids. I want to see the nesting pans first though, so we’re going to go to Fisheries later to check them out.

We are also looking at heaters and stoves. There are lots of things to take into consideration–my biggest question is “can it bake bread reliably?” We’ve tentatively settled on the Dickinson Caribbean 2 Burner Galley Range. The benefit being that 2 pans can fit comfortably, which they do not do on our current three burner range–so don’t even try a third pot.

Isn’t she shiny? It will probably be a while before we take the plunge with a range/stove. Heat should come first, and we still have a few other things to do before that’s top priority.

We moved on the boat officially last Saturday and we got a few days in without anything interesting happening. There’s a lot of condensation, so we ordered some small quiet dehumidifiers. They don’t really work though, so we need to get a bigger one. Occasionally the breaker would flip, so we have learned how much we can power at the same time.

Then, the freeze came. The temperature dipped into the 20’s and has been hovering there since Saturday morning. There was snow in my dingy! Click through for more snow pics.

Chris was adventuring in New York with his oldest daughter, so I was on my own. The cold was challenging, but manageable and the sky was beautiful and clear. The wind was a bit rough though, as seen in this video:

The propane to the stove stopped working, so I figured that the tank was empty and I figured out how to switch tanks. It turned out that something else was going on, but I still feel accomplished.

On Sunday, when leaving to pick up the crew at the airport, I had a frantic moment when I thought I had locked myself into Raven. It was so windy the night before that the swinging doors would not stay closed, so I put in the panels and slid the hatch closed. In the morning, the hatch was stuck and there was no way to remove the panels since the hatch covers the opening where they slide out. Finally I got enough friction to move it. What a relief!

Then I went to scraped the windows and heat the car, but when I got back in the door would not close. You can’t drive a car with the door unsecured. Finally that fixed itself after much pushing and pulling of mechanisms and locking and unlocking of the doors.

We had our first visitors that night. First our friends that also moor at Shilshole stopped by to see Raven and say hello. Then some of my family came for dinner. It was a challenge to cook everything in the right order, but I think that it went pretty well, and only 20 minutes behind schedule. I made black cod with basil cream sauce and green bean and cauliflower casserole. I’d also successfully made french bread that day to accompany.

Then yesterday, the water pump wouldn’t stop running, so we had to turn off the power to it whenever we weren’t using it. Chris went and got a new one and put it in and water is now running smoothly again. One thing about plumbing on the boat, everything is a lot simpler than it is in a house.

This morning the breaker kept tripping, even after we went around and turned off everything unnecessary. I finally ran into our neighbor on one of my trips to the breaker and he told me it was happening to him as well, so probably something with the overall power rather than something with the boat. It makes us look forward to wind and solar power.

We’re getting new countertops put in on Raven, hopefully to be done in a week or so. We’re going with a light color to counteract the dark wood everywhere.

This is the sample that Chris sent me. I think it’s going to look nice.

Right now we have a jumble of dishes that the old owner left and that we brought from Serenity. Some of them are ok and some are really junky. I’ve been looking for something to replace them with. My criteria are: must be virtually unbreakable and not look gross after a few washings. I had been mostly looking at malomine, because those are the ones that usually have the non-skid on the bottom. I kind of hate the idea of eating off of plastic every day and they usually get worn looking pretty quickly. I was searching the internet again today when I ran across a post from Boat Galley called Unbreakable Boat Dishes. The writer really lays out the benefits of Corelle. Now I think I want either these:

Or these:

I’m leaning towards the second ones as they’ll match our colors better (don’t I sound like I’m planning a wedding?)

And I think I’ll order these placemats in Cobalt Blue so they don’t slide on the table!

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