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I struggle with this time of year, like many. Being an atheist, I celebrate the holidays for family. It’s a good excuse to find goodies for the kiddos and to shop, which I hardly ever do anymore. I mostly enjoy the decorating and music, although certain over the top displays and opinions can send me into a negative jag.

As I embrace my life as a somewhat single forty something, I find myself enjoying my alone time more and more. I do date and have a regular fella. We enjoy each other, but we are both in a phase of our life where we are working on erasing debt, planning for an uncertain retirement in 20 or so years. Not to say this won’t change, but for now, we are not planning on a future together or even on a short term future beyond our next bike adventure. I like coming home to my bedroom where I can sleep in peace. I also like the absence of drama.

Yesterday was solstice. I had lift tickets for The Summit at Snoqualmie from their big sale after Thanksgiving. Too bad it rained all night on Friday. The snow conditions weren’t too bad, but the base wasn’t deep enough and there were runoff ruts that showed up in annoying ways, one time sending me flying. At least I got to test my new bindings. They pop out just fine, I’m happy to report. I went with my roommate and we were both testing out new skis. We had to avoid thin spots, but mostly enjoyed the short runs they had open.

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It was snowing heavily the second half of the day, so I think the base will be better soon.

After getting home, I went out to do some shopping and got most of the gifts bought. I did almost all of my shopping in my neighborhood, except some socks I’d gotten directly from Defeet. I’m not great at making a list and checking it twice, so I still have a few more things to get and I need to get a package in the mail for my son, although the main part of his gift is in the mail already. Thank goodness for shops that gift wrap and ship!

I also stopped at the fabric store and got some fleece to make myself a sleeping pillow. Not for my head, but to hug and keep my arms/hand from going numb in the night. I’ve had various stuffed animals over the years that have served this purpose, but the most recent–a blind bunny I got from my niece–has seen better days and as I was sewing up a mend the other day, I thought “why don’t I just make my own?”

On the way home, I stopped at Bitterroot, a restaurant in Ballard named after the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. My roommate, who is from Montana, met me there and I treated him to a birthday dinner (it was a few days ago, but he was neck deep in work then.)

All in all, an excellent day. Here’s a snap of the sunset from downtown Ballard on the Solstice.

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I took a long vacation, with a short work stint in the middle. Then took a long weekend. I’ve had a few adventures.

My friend and I went bike camping to Tolt MacDonald Park in Carnation WA. It was a glamping trip really, since we got a Yurt for the two nights (you have to book 2 nights). It was fun and relaxing. We spent time on the river and I rode Stella around the trails a bit. On the way back, as a way to avoid a mile of 10% grade, we took a very flat detour that added a few miles to our ride, then also added miles by using the Burke Gilman Trail rather than the 520 trail. It was very pleasant, although I am pretty sure that I was just as tired as I would have been if we’d done the hills.

A few days later I flew to Reno to visit family, especially my one year old nephew. We had a nice hike and visited a few breweries. I got to spend some quality time with the little one.

I worked for 3 days, then took another 5 days off. During that time, I did some intense Bike Bingo-ing. I often revisited locations with friends as they went around. I got a blackout and some awesome prizes.

I also attended a bike/walk rally for safer streets with a couple of silly bananas. I gave out my thank you notes for a bingo square that day. It would have been cheating, except that everyone was so interested in Bike Bingo that I think it did the job well.

Next time I’ll tell you about hiking around on Mount Shasta!

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.

I watched the weather and waited, and finally it was close enough to my vacation to call it. We were going bike camping!

It’s barely spring in the Pacific Northwest, so the weather could have been torrential rain–and it’s supposed to be starting tomorrow–but we got our window of partly sunny, highs in the upper 60s.

I’d some some research where I wanted to go. I eliminated two places I’d gone before; Fay Bainbridge and Manchester State Park. The first was too close and would be more crowded. The second I’ve been to 3 times now and I’m ready for something different and a little further away.

Looking at Marley Blonsky’s post, A Non-definative Guide to Bike Overnighters Within an Hour-ish of Seattle, I settled on Kitsap Memorial State Park. A coworker seconded my choice–it was nice to talk to someone I know who’s been there. It’s a 20 mile ride with lots of other options for exploring. A grocery 5 miles away and a convenience store nearby. The hiker biker sites have tables and a fire ring, which isn’t always the case at other places.

We ended up leaving at around noon on Saturday to get there.

The timing was good because the ferry was easy and check in time was 2:30–no problems checking in early, but there was no camp host, so no on site firewood. We got some the second night from the convenience store.

It was hard to find the entrance to the hiker biker sites, but they were nicely secluded from the car sites. They were hidden down an unmarked trail directly to the left at the entrance to the parking lot.

We spent some time at the beach and exploring the park. It’s really small, but the view was nice. We got some camp neighbors that night who were biking around the peninsula, and this was the last night out. We went to bed early, but they stayed up late, chatting by their fire.

The second day we explored by bike, taking a round about way back to Poulsbo for groceries. I do love the Central Market.

We got back, bought wood, enjoyed the beach some more, took a shower (tokens purchased from a vending machine with $1 bills) and made a fire.

The next day we had a leisurely breakfast by the fire and rolled out around noon again.

We rode back through Port Gamble and Kingston. After the ferry, we stopped at Walnut Street Coffee for a caffeine and cookie pick me up, but still the hills in Edmonds almost kicked our ass. We persevered and made it to The Yard for celebratory tacos, and then it was only a few miles home.

A really great weekend. Here are a few more photos.

Things go around. I have been micro-blogging on Google+ for the last two years. I really enjoyed the interaction there and made a few really good friends, several of whom I’ve met in real life.

Google+ is going away in a week. I’ve had a lot of time to mourn it’s passing, so it will be anticlimactic when the date finally comes. I’m not porting my posts.

I’m not sure if I’ll start blogging here again. I feel like a blog is just yelling into the void these days. Does anyone read these anymore? I don’t want to return to Facebook, and while Twitter and Instagram are fun, they really aren’t a place to post personal stories.

I’m still biking and hiking and now I’m skiing and dating. Everything is going really well and my anxiety is mostly under control. Exercise has always helped, but things I’d like to do, like meditation, I have a hard time concentrating on…because anxiety. So I started taking CBD oil, and it could be a placebo affect, but I’m sleeping better, I’m not letting things bother me as much, everything is so much easier. I still get anxious, but a manageable and maybe even a normal amount.

Photo from bike camping last summer. I finally found my way! ;)

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Today was Race Your House, where liveaboards race the sailboats they live on. They can bring crew along and claim handicaps and Raven got the highest handicap of them all–250. I have no idea what that means, except that we are slow.

We started out okay. We got our sails up and started making the calculated tacks and jibes that keep you close to the starting point. Those soon went awry as the wind failed to keep us going fast enough to finish our tacks and jibing around would cost us too much distance. Finally we went towards the breakwater too long trying to get up speed and ended up having to turn on the engine in order to not hit the rocks. Beep! we hear our starting horn and boom: we’re disqualified for having our engine running after the start horn.

We contemplated doing the race anyway, but decided that trying to get around the committee boat was going to keep posing a problem. We decided to go ahead and sail along the route and watch, turning back when we got close to Bainbridge Island. It was a very slow, straight sail. We chatted, ate and told stories, then we jibed for the return. It was uneventful, but fun and chill. Raven will not be participating in Race Your House next year, but maybe we can crew on someone else’s house.

Click on the photo to see more pics of the event.

Raven has her masts and sails now, but isn’t quite ready to hit the Sound. We’re all chomping at the bit, to mix my genres, to get out on the sea. Just a couple more weeks!

In the mean time I’ll show you the progress of the galley, specifically the spice situation. It’s still a bit out of control,

There are 5 containers of cinnamon in this rack. Five.

Hopefully I can keep this thyme and sage alive for a little while.

but I have a long term solution. This cabinet…

Closes to look like this:

And this Atomic Espresso maker…

Yum.

Fits in here!

So we can keep things nice and tidy. I plan to find more metal that magnets will stick to that is the right size to fit in the nook behind the red spice rack. Chris says he knows someone that can cut it for me. I’m finding that the magnets from the containers magnetize parts of the metal sheet in there now and make it so other magnets are repelled because of the polarity. Anyone know if there’s a trick to that? Thicker metal? Braining the folks that adhere the magnets different ways on different containers?

I went for a run yesterday and was surprised by my stamina. It might have been the magnificent view. Click on the photo for more photos from my run.

We had a few friends over for lunch today and we started talking about my friend’s recipe challenge and sharing recipes. It made me think about my messy ivy patterned recipe box and my online Drive folder where I have my most used recipes. I really need to finish switching those recipes over to Drive not just to save clutter, but to make them easier to update and share. As the rain of winter continues, perhaps I’ll use all my free time (only a little sarcasm) to put those recipes up.

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.

I just had to add a quick post because Raven is arriving today after a brief hold up in Redding California due to construction on I-5. She has been decommissioned and I feel that I should share the pictures we got of that from the broker, as it is kind of awesome to see a sailboat without it’s mast or rigging.

I don’t think I’ll make it down to see her until Friday, but it’s pretty exciting to know she’s here. Oh, and if you’re in the market for a beautiful Gulf 29′, check out this page.

Enough with all that negative stuff. Summer is going great. We’re having a lot of fun giving out books and signing kids up for the Summer of Learning. The teen program is less fulfilling, but I still love giving teens books and for right now we still have some to give, so that is wonderful.

The sign up for two of my teen programs are filling up. We have an Arduino program and a Digital Fabrications showcase planned. The rest of the summer is filled with drop-ins where teens can use our region’s new iPad mini to make digital content for our Tumblr or just make something fun with the supplies I will put out.

In reading news, I just finished the yummy new book by Scott Westerfeld that’s coming out in September, Afterworlds. A longer review will come in the next few days.

I got to see The Boy for dinner and a movie on Sunday. I took him and The Mister to see The Fault in Our Stars and it got all three of us sniffling (sorry to out you guys, but I saw you crying! :) It is a truly wonderful adaptation of the book. The Boy’s been waiting for his new job to start and the date keeps getting pushed back. It was great to see him. I wish he was closer or interested in working in Seattle.

In my biking, I’ve had 2 chains break–on different bikes–in the last month. I guess I’m just hard on them, as they both still showed signs of life when I checked them at the co-op. I’m picking up Lucile (Bike Friday Tikit) tonight after work. I had her looked over to make sure there wasn’t anything else major I was overlooking. I’ve been riding my Surly while she’s been in the shop.

I have to say that bike repairs are much more affordable than car repairs were. I certainly don’t miss that.