Dragonfly
Believe it or not, these long stretches of blog silence are SO annoying to me. I twitch every day I'm unable to post something but unfortunately, when a small block of uninterrupted time is presented... it's at 4:00am and I'm so dizzy from exhaustion, I can't type a single word.

I had a great post about my garden all planned out for last weekend but then Mr. Clean and I were taken hostage by four teenage boys. They forced us to participate in Midnight-Laser-Rock-N-Roll bowling. I would have cried "Broke!" to get out of it (because I am now old and whiny about bowling until two o'clock in the morning) but they all paid for themselves. So. Mr. Clean, Doodlebug, and I beat the pants off of them, instead.

Two things...

1) Ten year-olds at 2AM are FUNNY... until they are cranky. Then they are no fun at all.
2) Doodlebug appears to be some sort of bowling savant. He approaches the lane with a little Ants! In-My-Pants! dance, heaves the ball like it's a time-bomb, and then gets a Strike! Every. Damn. Time. We watched him Very Closely and never could find ANY sort of rhyme or reason to his methods.

To say the least, the teenagers didn't take kindly to being beaten so badly. We've now been subjected to a re-match but with black-light miniature golf instead. Yippee! That will be next weekend. (Sidebar: I have NO idea why they'd choose black-light miniature golf as the re-match when only ONE of the four have ever even PLAYED mini-golf! Go figure.)

In between all the fun, though, I've been just SWAMPED with work. Seriously Drowning in the Overtime (that I do not want). The girl who works on my team took off all last week for vacation, leaving me with my work, her work, end of month reports, and transitioning clients (which are a full-time job by themselves). Yippee. <--- sarcasm

It was therefore only right that I deserved a little mini-vacation. So. We packed up Friday morning and headed down to my Dad and M-Mom's house for the long 4th of July weekend. Halfway there, we wondered if maybe a tropical storm was making landfall and we missed the news. Oh. My. Goodness, the RAIN. It rained so hard that after about an hour I thought for sure the windshield was going to say, "Screw this," and give way. Seriously.

Of course, there is NOTHING like downtown Houston in a deluge... especially after a bit of drought. It's like Houstonians forget what rain looks like, and how the windshield wipers work, and... I don't know.... How To DRIVE. You'd think those folks had never seen rain before.

By the time we arrived down in Clear Lake, my shoulders had taken permanent residence right next to my ears and my back was screaming for muscle relaxers. There is a SOLID reason I don't drive in Downtown Houston. Thankfully, though, the rain stopped not long after and left the sky clear (if not brutally HUMID) for the fireworks.

After a quick nibble - BBQ, Jalapeno sausage, red beans and rice, and fresh corn on the cob from my garden - we headed down to my Dad's sailboat and set up chairs at the end of his pier, where we had full view of the channel leading out to Clear Lake. The cool thing about fireworks from that location is that it's a Five-For-One deal. Five HUGE displays, all staggered so you have five enormously expensive finales.

While watching the light show, we were treated to music blaring from two two-storied bars just across the way - which resembled competing piles of fire ants in a flood, they were so packed. Halfway through, we started taking bets on which top level balcony would collapse first - not necessarily from being so packed as from the reverberations of the drunken patriotic singing going on. Loads. Of. Fun. There is NOTHING like Lee Greenwood's God Bless the U.S.A. until you've heard it in full stereo, across multiple sides of a body of water.

Saturday, we headed back out to the yacht club to get Dad's boat ready for a race that afternoon. Getting the boat ready pretty much means having a nice, slow breakfast... then swimming in the pool just long enough to get sunburned... and finally hanging out on the boat until everyone else arrived. Everyone else in this case meant a girl from my Dad's office, her boyfriend, and a really nice man we'd met while watching the fireworks the night before.

Sidebar: I have this theory about engineers... They seem to have some sort of internal RADAR for each other. I can't remember a single time I've spent time with my Dad where he didn't meet another engineer in the course of the day. It's downright freaky-strange. Except for the part that all engineers seem to be the NICEST PEOPLE.

So. We packed up a metric ton of bottled water, hung Daddy's new pirate flag, and headed out to the start of the race. I should probably mention that it's a new boat and they've only sailed her a handful of times now, while still getting the kinks out. Apparently, new boats are somewhat like new houses. After you first move in, you find little things not-quite-right and needing to be looked at before you're REALLY good-to-go.

Another thing I should mention -- Shaggy was going to be showing off his sailing skills, which I had not yet seen for myself. I was along for the ride. Just the ride. NO work involved.

We started out really great -- in the sense that I was wearing my little seasick bands and was therefore NOT hurling over the edge. We circled the starting point a couple of times and then hit it just seconds off our marked time.

And then the fun started. After we tacked the first time (tacking is when you flip the front "jib" sail from one side to the other and make a turn-- sailboats don't go in a straight line, they make left and right turns in zig-zags along the line), the main sail boom (the big beam that runs along the bottom of the main sail) started up with a deep vibration, which shook the entire back-end of the boat. Holy COW. Some quick tweaks fixed it for the moment but we got to experience that little bit of FUN a few more times before my Dad figured out the issue.

As we rounded the 2nd point - a small oil platform - of the 3-point triangle, which constituted the race course, Shaggy made a mistake. We were jiving instead of tacking... and he tacked. Big. Oops.

Jiving means you flip the MAIN sail from one side to the other and then you follow it with the jib sail at a slower, more measured pace. Tacking is very quick - you release the line it's currently on and then quickly pull the opposite line and get it on the wench. Basically, all that sail talk means we had a main sail that was only half-full of wind and a jib sail that was flapping in the breeze and winding around it's main line on the WRONG side of the boat. We call that a FUBAR because we immediately went from 6.5 knots to barely 3 knots. Within less than 5 minutes, we were dead last.

To fix things and try to catch up, we started sailing what's called wing-on-wing. That means the jib sail remained on one side of the boat while the main sail caught the wind from the other. It also means that if the wind isn't just right, you don't go very fast. Still, it was a great sail and we'd managed to get the vibrations of the main boom to stop... so there was that. It's the difference between a nice sail and feeling like you're riding a slightly bucking bronco.

As we rounded the 3rd point, we got everything back together and started to really fly. Just when it was getting good though... There is nothing like hitting almost 7 knots and having your step-mom, who is at the helm, say - loudly - "She's getting away from me!"

Like I said, this is a NEW boat and therefore all her little idiosyncracies haven't yet displayed themselves. One of them is the fact that she really, really likes to catch the wind and run away with you... much like a galloping horse who's been given too much rein.

We tilted to a nice angle, which allowed everyone on the low side to get a large GULP of seawater before hauling themselves arm-over-arm to the high side of the boat. I call this angle the "Oh Shit" angle because I was on the high side already but I am SHORT. And her cockpit is BIG... so I had NOTHING but my arm strength and everything I could find to brace my feet against to keep me from flying down the slope and straight into the water. That only happened three more times. Fun!

My arms feel like wet noodles today. Apparently, I need to lift weights a little more.

We spent most of the last leg as a teaching excercise for Shaggy (who was really beating himself up about the screw-up earlier). Therefore, we tacked back and forth as much as possible, giving him multiple opportunities to practice.

Shaggy is at that stage where he's all arms and legs but not much solid weight to balance on. As such, he hasn't quite figured out where to position his body in order to get the most strength and balance.

I told him, "Surrender the booty, boy!" -- echoing the words on Dad's pirate flag. And then began singing. I'm happy to say, I only had to hit one verse of "Get your butt down low, then wiggle to and fro" before he got the idea. Heh. He responded with, "How old are you again?" I grinned and said, "FIVE!"

What he doesn't realize is that my DAD heard that little song, so he's now likely to hear it Every. Time. He. Sails. ... from now until the end of time. *laughing*

Parenting can be SO COOL sometimes.

So yeah, we came in last place but it was just a practice race... a fun race... no trophies involved. And I enjoyed a solid 4 hours of gorgeous weather, wind in my face, and NO seasickness. Hallelujah!

Unfortunately, after we arrived back at the yacht club, cleaned up the boat, and took a quick swim in the pool.... it was after 11pm and no one had had anything to eat since 3pm. You could hear our stomachs for MILES around.

A quick trip to the grocery produced frozen pizzas. And few rounds of card games helped whizz the time by while waiting for them to cook. Doodlebug didn't quite make it. He mumbled something about making a sandwich as he collapsed on the couch and began snoring.

So that was my weekend. I'd hoped to write about it a little more poetically... but seriously? I'm WIPED out. I'm sun-drenched exhausted and have loads of laundry waiting, dinner to cook, and I'm still hoping to re-build my front porch gate before it gets too dark. You know... life back to normal.

Hope all of you U.S. citizens out there had a great 4th of July! And if you're reading this and aren't a U.S. citizen... hope you had a great weekend! :)
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  1. BabySis Says:

    Wish I knew there was a party on the boat that weekend. I actually had it off, but spent it out on Northgate getting smashed with friends.... Either way, I had fun too, but sorry I missed the chance to feel out the new boat.