Sunday, March 17, 2013

Still Wondering, or, What Have I Done?

This seems to be my go to when in the airport getting ready to
travel.  Good ol' messenger bag, water bottle, and a sausage,
egg, and cheese McMuffin.  Don't judge me.  I was up early as
all get out to catch a plane and all I had was a lousy cup of

When I stepped off the plane in Townsville I was greeted by
33 C. (91.5 F.) temperatures and 95% humidity.  This was at
12:30 pm local time.  What am I doing?  The ferry ride is quite
short compared to what I'm used to in New Zealand.  Only
takes about 20 minutes.  As we departed the terminal I noticed
they run their Coastguard here the same way as NZ.  All
volunteer.  Familiar ground.
Providence V on my first day.

Cleaning, wiping down, and re-organizing the saloon. (2 day job)

Re-painting and texturing all the hatches

My first sight on Magnetic Island was of my home to be for the near
future.  She's a beautiful all wood schooner built as a replica 1/2 size
in 1988.  Her name is Providence.  I am also made aware of what
kind of work I have lined up for me.  No small feat.  She's in need of
some general TLC and a neat freak's eye.  (Where I come in)  The
owner works for a cruise line as an engineer and spends 49 days at
sea, then 17 days at home where he tries to balance a wife, family, and
business.  What am I doing?

One of the things I have had to get used to all over again is living in a very small, restricted space.  My kitchen is the navigation station, engine access, communications station, bar, and pantry.  All in a place just over 6 ft. x 6 ft. x 6 ft.

 Yet, I still manage to cook for myself.  And healthy even!  The people on the boat next to me were jealous of veggie stir-fry.  Lizzy, you'd be proud of me!

Just when I was really starting to despair a bit,
things started looking up.  First, I spotted the
elusive Bikini Tree.
You have to get up early in the morning and travel to the far reaches of the island to observe it in its native habitat. 

In the past two weeks we have had more and more bookings for sailing.
We are currently in the tail end of cyclone season here and the weather has
been a bit fickle.  The true end isn't until April, but may hay while the sun shines,
One of the random perks of living on a boat in a marina is that you get to  enjoy your neighbors' toys and gadgets sometimes.  The gentleman on my right side and his wife have a 55 ft. launch with these amazing blue L.E.D. lights off the stern.  When they turn them on it illuminates over a 100 ft. semi-circle behind their boat.  Instant aquarium!  I have spent many evenings watching the tens of thousands of fish swimming around.  Mesmerizing, entertaining, and cheap!

Of all the experiences I have had in the past month, for good or bad, I still feel incomplete.
I am currently working on getting accepted to University of Tasmania or NZ Maritime
School.  I'm living on a sailboat on an even smaller island than Waiheke.  And Lizzy is not
here to share it with me.  To give me here special kind of insight and reality to decisions
I'm making.  This is the longest we have been apart in almost 2 years.  Miss you Lizard.

More to come.....

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzel Recipe

2 t instant yeast
1 c milk, scalded and cooled
1 T barley malt syrup or honey
2 1/2-3 c flour 
1 t salt
2 T butter, softenened
1/4 c baking soda
egg yolk + 2 T milk
rock salt

Stir the yeast into milk till dissolved (helps if milk is still slightly warm).  Add syrup or honey, then 1 cup of flour.  Stir.  Add salt, then butter, stir.  Add 1 1/2 c four or enough to get a nice dough.  Knead 5 minutes.  Cover and let rise 90 minutes.

Divide dough into 8 pieces.  Form pretzels. 

Boil 3 cups of water in a pot.  Add baking soda and stir to dissolve.  Turn heat down until the water is just at a simmer.  Dip pretzels into water for 30 seconds.  Remove with slotted spatula (or whatever you have-just not your fingers). 

Place on parchment lined baking sheet.*  Brush tops with egg yolk and milk mixture.  Sprinkle with salt or other toppings.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.*

*The parts about the parchment paper and  baking sheet, as well as the oven temperature and timing were added for using a conventional oven.   I cannot vouch for these steps.  When using the earth oven, I simply stick my arm in and if I can leave it there for about 6 seconds without the hair singing off, then it is ready for pretzels.  My nose tells me when they are done.

 On a side note......I felt two earthquakes today.  That was a first.  Sort of felt like thunder was shaking the house.  But it was definitely not thunder.  Maybe his cousin. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

View From Atop a Spider...or...Apples for Apples

In most of the communities where I've lived in the past few years I've found that many people are open to bartering and trading for services, food, clothes-whatever people are in need of.  In Washington, I even attended the well-known Okanogan Barter Faire, a multi-day festival devoted to the idea of sharing and trading goods.  This system is truly alive here on Waiheke Island.  Perhaps it is left over from Waiheke's counter-culture days or perhaps island lifestyle still necessitates it, but whatever the reason, it's great fun to give what we have in excess and get what we need in return with no money exchange.

My most recent "trade" has been with our neighbor and her horse.  Though he's just one horse, he produces way more manure than his owner knows what to do with.  On the other hand, because our land is solid clay and we collect any sort of organic material we can get our hands on, we fully encourage Spider to poop as much as he wants.  We come and collect heaps of poo to add to our compost and Spider the horse gets a clean paddock.  (Luckily, all of the wwoofers have been willing to help me with this job.)

Riding English style
In addition to us coming to visit Spider once a week to shovel poo and bring him tasty treats from the orchard, I've also been riding.  His owner often has to go to town all day and was worried about him getting a bit lonely.  Knowing that I would be too timid to offer to ride him, Chad made arrangements on my behalf, and now Spider and I enjoy each other's company each Wednesday for a sunset ride.  It's been a great learning experience for me, as well as a chance to overcome a fear.  I've always loved horses and riding, but I've never had the responsibility of saddling one myself and riding alone.  Even when I was little and had an absolute OBSESSION with horses (like so many little girls do) when I actually had opportunities to ride I'd become too nervous to even enjoy it.  I even remember a couple of times at 4-H camp when I faked being sick so that I didn't have to do the trail ride.  Of course, after a few minutes of being on a horse, I'd feel much better, but those initial butterflies were hard to ignore.

I still get those butterflies each time I ride after taking some time off, and I certainly had them when I first took Spider out.  Each time we go, however, I become more and more confidant.  Being able to ride the same horse regularly is not something I've ever done before, and I'm beginning to better understand the relationships that people form with their animals.  I look forward to my rides each week and his owner is happy for him to have some company.  And Spider loves the apples and carrots I bring him.  Win-win-win!

Flat Stanley has been staying with me for a few days now and was very excited to meet Spider.

Almost looks tropical....