Monday, June 29, 2015

Moving the boat, part 1: Noumea

It was tough to choose the first photo for this post. On the one hand, most of our time in Noumea looked like this:
Not a holiday.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Home Again

I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. It has been a busy month of picnicking on the beach, troubleshooting leaks, painting antifouling and moving hither and yon. And I'll tell you all about it, I will. Just give me a day or two to recover.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Papillon Question

I spent the day confirming plane tickets and stuffing underwear into a bag. Why? Because it is time, people. Time to return to Papillon. Our good old Papioni-pepperoni.

Not permanently. No, that would be too much to ask. Erik is still firmly in the grip of his work addiction, so we'll have to ride out the land life for a few months longer. However, the good people of Nouvelle-Calédonie are ready to be rid of our fine vessel, so it is time to jump aboard and sail the boat to Brisbane.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Peanut, Peanut Butter

This morning I fulfilled the usual family breakfast orders. A bowl of Sultana Bran for Indy (Raisin Bran to those of you ten time zones away), cheesy scrambled eggs for Stylish, and a slice of peanut butter toast for me. I noticed the peanut butter was getting pretty low, so I looked in the pantry for another jar. No peanut butter. I started to hyperventilate, then I had a heart attack and died.

Not really. But I could have. This is a disaster; I was sure I had one more jar. In fact, I'm going to go check again right now.

I'm back. No peanut butter. "Amy," I hear you saying, "stop being so dramatic. Get off your keister and go buy some more." Well, smarty pants, I can't. Because there isn't any. There is no more peanut butter on this island. And who knows when more will arrive?

Monday, April 20, 2015

When Everyone Else Is Nicer Than You

I have a problem. My neighbours are too nice. Specifically, they are too nice to my girls. Why is that an issue? They are making me look bad, that's why. I have enough trouble meeting minimum congeniality standards without having to fend off heavy competition from next door.

Our neighbours have been travelling lately. And when they come home, they bring things for the kids. They bring things for me, for crying out loud. When Erik travels, what does he bring home? Nuffink. If I were to travel on my own (dream the dream)? Double nuffink. We love our ladies dearly, but buying presents just because Daddy has a few days of meetings somewhere else? Dream on. When Erik comes home, any extra carry-on room is reserved for new flip flops and packets of EasiYo. Practical things. Impossible-to-get-here things. Not fun things.

And then Mr and Mrs Santa Claus - who do not share our Scrooge-y philosophy - come home, and look at the result. Look at those faces.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Things I've Learned This Week

1. Nothing makes a child happier than a new tool kit...

...especially when she gets to decorate it herself.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Get Crackin'

I've never been a huge fan of eggs. I don't have a "bad egg" story from my youth; they were just never my favourite thing. My siblings ate scrambled eggs, but I stuck to peanut butter toast, thank you very much. And I still do.

But I make an exception for Easter. (No, not an egg-ception - you will have to indulge in your ovo-related punnery elsewhere.) My family's Easter egg traditions were strictly of the chocolate variety, but Erik and his parents make fancy hard boiled eggs each year. Cut in half, pop out the yolk, add balsamic vinegar, a little olive oil, mustard and pepper, and eat with the aforementioned yolk. I'm sure it took no end of coaxing to persuade me to try this the first time, but I agree these eggs are delicious.

Once Erik and I had kids, we started dyeing our Easter eggs, too. This was clever thinking on Erik's part; eggs aren't always at the top of my mental grocery list unless I am baking something. Turning eggs into a craft not only ensured they would be in the house for Easter, but also that there would be a lot of them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Ants Go Marching

Boats are rarely pest-free zones. There and just too many places to hide. And even if you do get rid of an infestation, you can count on a new crop of eggs sneaking aboard behind the labels on your tins, or in the bananas, or on cardboard anything. We do our best to keep Papillon neat, tidy and bug-free, but it is a case of constant vigilance.

You would think it would be easier on land. Everything is open and accessible in a house - there is nowhere to hide a nest that won't be easily discovered. And, sure enough, when we moved into our place last September we found it pretty bug-free. Our major concern was the malaria-carrying mosquitoes in the area, but the air conditioning keeps them outside where they belong. So while I still tried to keep the house crumb-free and an untempting target, it didn't seem as mission-critical as once it did.

And then we went away for six weeks at Christmas. When we got back, I discovered an army had invaded our territory.

The ants had arrived.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Teeny Tiny Sailing

Hello, everyone! Sorry for the prolonged absence. My lungs and I had a serious disagreement. They decided they would be happier outside my body, and attempted to cough their way to freedom. I was of the firm opinion that we would both be better off if they stayed inside my chest. That is just the kind of hard-line organ traditionalist that I am. Eventually they saw things my way, but it took three weeks and a lot of coaxing.

By Sunday, I was well enough for an outing. Erik saw his chance. He has been determined to try out the sailing dinghies we found, and mounted a campaign of persuasion. Over the past few weeks, his conversation was peppered with statements like:
"I'd like to check whether that epoxy set properly in the dinghy."
"A couple of those dinghy sails are still in decent condition."
"I'd love to test out the rig we found, and see if anything else need to be replaced."
And, when the Well of Subtlety had run dry:
"We should try out the sailing dinghy this weekend."

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

We Dig Dig Dig Dig Dig Dig In Our Mine The Whole Day Through

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves isn't one of my favorite Disney movies. I am going to generously describe the heroine as "insipid" and leave it at that. But the film does have a few snappy tunes, among them the first half of Heigh Ho. Oh, you didn't know the beginning was a completely different (and superior) song? Before all of that boring whistling, the dwarves sing about working in their mine. To wit:

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig
In our mine the whole day through
To dig dig dig dig dig dig dig
Is what we like to do

It ain't no trick to get rich quick
If you dig dig dig with a shovel or a pick
In a mine! In a mine! In a mine! In a mine!
Where a million diamonds shine!

We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig
From early morn till night
We dig dig dig dig dig dig dig up
Everything in sight

We dig up diamonds by the score
A thousand rubies, sometimes more
But we don't know what we dig them for
We dig dig dig a-dig dig.

Back in the day, preschool-Stylish immediately took to this song, and we both learned the words. Don't ask me why, but we used to sing it in the car as we drove around on errands. This was long before Erik got into mining, so I am going to claim that we were prescient. Perhaps this was the clairvoyant version of, "if you can't beat'em, join 'em."

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Treasures at the Beach

There was a time in my life when a visit to the beach was as rare and exciting as Christmas. Once in a blue moon my parents would hook the pop-up trailer to the back of the Big Red Van, and we would trundle off to Southampton. It didn't matter if the water was cold, we didn't care if the sky was grey. We were at the beach! Seashells! Sand castles! Bathing suits 24/7, baby! Peeling shoulders, new friends from exotic locales such as Sarnia and Guelph, and hair full of sand. It was about as good as life gets.

For my kids, excitement is seeing a squirrel in Grannie and Poppa's backyard. "Oh! Oh! Mom! Did you see that? Quick, look - it's a squirrel! Oh my gosh, can I go outside and see it? I hope it doesn't run away!" There's no doubt they love the beach, but there is no mystery there. Try to entice them with a stretch of sand and the promise of some fish in the water, and all you'll get is a look that says, "Okay, okay, don't hurt yourself. It's just the beach."