Ninety Percent of Everything

IMG_4295The other day we took a walk around downtown Sebastopol and stopped in the local bookstore. It always fun to walk up and down the rows of books and find something new. The children got some Curious George books, Gavin got a book about fonts, and I got Ninety Percent of Everything by Rose George.

The book chronicles George’s trip aboard the Maersk Kendal as it travels from Felixstowe, in southern England, to Singapore. Ninety Percent enlightens the reader about life at sea, and various aspects of the shipping industry.

Gavin says I’m a “bit of a boat geek.”

He’s not wrong, and I did insist we visit the Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig Museum and Education Center on our honeymoon, although to be fair, there was only so much we could walk to from our hotel in Galveston.

PICT0733I come from a long line of boat geeks, my grandfather was a Mississippi River boat Captain, and later President of the New Orleans Steamship Pilots Association. My father, grew up around river boats, and later transitioned into marine surveying.

A private marine surveyor may be asked to carry out a wide range of tasks, including examining ships’ cargoes or onboard conditions such as fuel quality; investigating accidents at sea (e.g., oil spillages or failure of machinery or structures which are not considered to be critical); and preparing accident reports for insurance purposes, and conducting draught surveys to analyze how much cargo has been lost or gained.

I spent many summers (and weekends, and school holidays) as my dad’s gopher, and later driver. The day would start around 6 in the morning and end around 9 or 10 in the evening. I’d be paid $100 a day (cash, don’t tell your mother), meals included. My responsibilities included making sure we had everything we needed — snacks, water, sunscreen, appropriate layers, hard hats, boots, protective gear, cameras, binoculars, extra pens, measuring tapes, more business cards and anything else he/we might require during our day in the port.

I got to visit exotic locations, like Calcasieu where a barge had run aground. Aransas Pass where the entire family lived in an RV for the summer because that’s where the work was. The Port of Houston and surrounding docks more times than I can count. I got to go on tug boats, barges, container ships, RORO boats, and bulk cargo ships.

I was often the only woman* in the yard, and I was usually treated with the utmost respect by the crews — both on the ship, and the stevedores and other men working in the yard. I had a few occasions were someone hit on me, but once they realized that I was not of legal age (I’ve always been tall), or I was the surveyor’s daughter they quickly backed off.

I really enjoyed Ninety Percent of Everything, as it filled out the story of where everything goes once it was loaded into the ship, and the very human aspects of the shipping industry. George talks about the day-to-day life of the crew, the risks of being out on the open ocean (pirates, weather, poorly maintained ships), and the very real issues seamen face and what is being done (Seaman’s missions, international laws). It touched on issues that I’d heard in the abstract, such as piracy, loss at sea, and traveling through the Suez Canal, and helped make them a bit more real.

Final verdict: four stars, would read again, will insist Gavin reads it, will keep and make the children read when they are older


* For lack of a better term to describe my 13-20 year old self, there were other women around, much older than me (mid-30s-50s), but they usually worked in the office as a receptionist or secretary. There were very few women on the docks themselves.

and what do you do with 400 coffee filters?

On the first day of Spring Break I cleaned out the kitchen hutch and found over 400 coffee filters that we’re never going to use because we have an Aero Press.

I did a bit of searching on Pintrest and came across two tutorials to make coffee filter flowers (linked below) that looked uncomplicated enough for me to follow. After several attempts, and plenty of “help” from the kids, the result was a festive wreath.

AVID INKLING: coffee filter flowers, sisal rope, vintage bunny from Grandma D's Easter Bin

coffee filter flowers, sisal rope, vintage bunny from Grandma D’s Easter Bin

Eventually, I’m going to find a working spray bottle and figure out how to dye these lovely flowers so they have a bit of color.

The Century Crazy Quilt

I was going to wait until the quilt was hung on the wall in the stairwell before I shared this, but as that seems unlikely to happen any time soon…

This is the the story of the Century Crazy Quilt, and how it finally came to be finished.

A few years back, Dulce was cleaning out, and she found a box with a bunch of lace and some quilt stuff. I didn’t want it, so I told her to give it to Elizabeth (a friend of mine in the area) — who likes sewing and such things. The box sat in Elizabeth’s sewing room for a year (or two?… or three?) and one day I got a call from Elizabeth, she was cleaning out her sewing room and opened the box, looked through it and decided I “really should see this” before she did anything more with it. Her dad brought the box up one weekend — he was up here anyway for some other reason. I opened the box, looked through it, decided yes, I should keep this stuff, and put it under our bed.

A few months ago, I was clearing out under our bed and came across the box and decided I really should do something about it. So I showed Sasha (a friend and our neighbor) the find, as well as another friend. We figured it was a 1960s hippy quilt based on the fabrics, and yeah, it was pretty cool and should be finished… then I asked a quilt expert, Judy, who said yes, 60s, but make that 1860-1900s, not 1960s and that’s SILK, not polyester. It was a project that I should finish.

The approximate time of 1800s seems to fit as it was likely worked on by Gavin’s great grandmother (on Stephen’s side, in Kentucky) and at least two other women (there are names on one of the squares), that’s really all Dulce can tell me about it. Judy says it is “one of the finest examples of the style” that she has ever seen, and the silk — yes silk — is in amazingly good condition.

I have finished the quilt. It is a 9-square quilt (3×3) to be hung on the wall (eventually) with two coordinating pillows — there are 11 squares total, and trying to make an 11-square quilt felt too ambitious! I picked up a lovely aubergine linen-blend that compliments the squares and really makes them all pop. Traditionally it would be finished in black, but none of the blacks felt quite right. As the entire point of finishing this project is to showcase the vintage squares I wanted something that would really compliment them and make them stand out.

As the project has been over 100 years in the works, I took my time, and I did a lot of measuring/cutting graph paper squares. There is a label on the back of the quilt which provides a brief history of the quilt — the names on it, and an explanation of the relationship of the people who started it with me.

Below is a slide show of some of the process:

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spring planting in the backyard

The other morning the boys and I spent some time in the backyard tending to the plants. We trimmed back the herbs in Herb’s Garden, and replanted the rosemary to give it a better position near the drip hose.
IMG_4301We planted some new lemon balm and lemon verbena. We also requested that the local nursery hold a quart-sized lemon grass for us when the next shipment arrives. You may notice a theme, we are selecting plants that are natural mosquito repellents.

IMG_4300On a whim I got a six-pack of starter trailing nasturtiums and we’ve improvised a trellis for them to cascade down: some modified orange juice jugs with plenty of holes for drainage. We also have a pack of nasturtium seeds that the boys and I may attempt to grow as well.
IMG_4302Hopefully everything survived the planting process and I get the drip hooked up so everything is properly watered. Eventually I plan to procure some dill and basil, but it is still too early in the season for that.

Oliver’s 2nd tooth

Oliver lost his second tooth on Friday. It came out at school, while eating popcorn during snack time. Apparently it made snack time very exciting.

11070794_592112845082_5606490445856068972_nMs. Line made sure it got home safely.

10426118_592112840092_5828732176047083325_nThe second tooth that came out with the other bottom tooth.

10922782_592188368732_5813304987235962144_nThe tooth fairy dropped the ball on Friday night, but this evening she came through with a green piece of something — the guy at the store told me what it was, and I have totally forgotten what it was. I think we’re going to need to start a rock collection.