Friday, December 5, 2014

Release the Kraken!

As the Great Lakes shipping season winds down this year I've been afforded an inordinate amount time off the tug. One full month. It seems like a pipe dream and I can't wait to board the flight home in a few days.  After 256 days at sea this year I'm ready to put in some more time sailing, just on our own boat. 

Last I wrote, we were heading south to Florida. We arrived quickly and safely thanks to the Waze App and proceeded to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather as we got organized and regrouped. 

I began some projects on Refuge but quickly gave up due to time restraints, then hired the boat yard to complete that work for us.  The prices were good for the excellent job they do and hopefully things are complete by the time I return from this rotation.  We are anxious to get the boat back in the water and underway.  

The kids are enjoying time with their Grands and while we handle some family issues we thought it would be wise to put them back in school. After two years of homeschool they breezed through their placement exams and will have to redo a lot of curriculum they've already covered at home. But our primary concern was having them back with their buddies. In the blink of an eye life has become a whirlwind of sports, field trips, homework, new video games, new books, birthday parties, play dates, etc... which means Jenny is in her element managing those things as well as caring for her folks. 

This beach is actually in Michigan. Looks very similar to many beaches in Florida. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Fork In The Road

It was November 10th when I received the phone call.  We were dropping off movies at the video store and a text came through that my dad needed to talk.   Deep breath.   I knew something was amiss and he had the task of informing me.  Never did I imagine that the something amiss would have anything to do with him.  

Upon a visit to the urgent care for arm pain, a mass was discovered in his lung.   

We packed up shop in Ohio and set south in a frenzy.  

For all who do not know, my father and I are very close.  He comes and visits us often, sometimes staying for over a month at a time.   Many former marina neighbors can attest to his gentle presence.  He has experienced our adventures with us and sees the beauty in what we do.

So this is the reason for our silence. 

I am the caretaker.   The kids are the light bringers.  G is the support system.   We are playing critical roles during a time of much uncertainty.  

Diagnostics are being performed this week.   

Cancer sucks.  


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Omega Block

This is what happens when a snowman meets offroad vehicle. 

The first snow of the season up North. 
Meanwhile young children are out playing and singing in the snow. 

And today my Princess celebrates her birthday. Happy Birthday Fallon. 

Even though Omega Block is trying to destroy us, we will be leaving up North for warmer climes. It's been a tough year for the family that's left me staring at the loss, but if life were meant to be a utopia we'd live on a sailing yacht in the Caribbean. Once back in Flori-duh we'll finish up work on the boat while we spend time with Grandpa. A few more days and we'll be well upon our way. See you guys soon!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Father, My Hero

 They say you pick your family and your circumstances before you set foot on this beautiful earth.  We all have paths we are meant to follow and lessons to learn throughout our journey as we grow.  Every hardship translates into an opportunity.   
  I know why I chose my dad.   He is everything I could ever hope for; a brilliant mind, a peaceful heart, a loving soul.  He provided me with an ideallic childhood, supported me during my teenage angst, and has always been there to help me through my adult years.  I am blessed. 
  My Dad and I are about to set off on a new path together.   I don't know what lies around the bend but I know I am gonna hold onto his hand and together we can do anything.  
  I love you Dad.  Everything is gonna be okay.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Home Stretch

Some of the new chainplates. 

As I type this the final touches are being done to our home. Interior paneling going back in. Chain plates reinstalled. And the final bow chain plate is being machined. The cost of this one plate was more than all the others combined. 

But it only has to be done once. The mast is also finished. All new rig and two new Harken furlers. I can't wait to shake everything down. 

We hired an extra guy to speed things along. This individual will be doing hull prep for the eventual paint which will save us a few days labor on the front side. Once we get back to the boat, it will be dewaxed, sanded, and ready for paint, both top side and bottom. All we'll need to do is roll and tip the new polyurethane and mop on two extra coats of ablative, let her cure for a couple days, then splash. 

We've been tossing around the idea of renaming the boat since the old name is coming off anyway. When it is all done, she'll be a whole new color with new boot stripe, and vinyl lettering instead of the crooked painted name that's currently on there. 

It's been too long. Originally I figured these projects might take two months but we are coming up on 5. It makes me anxious. Another few weeks though and mission accomplished. Just in time for the season. We will still have some odds and ends to do before heading out, but since we are sailing to the Keys first, I will have time to finish these small tasks myself. 

We are waiting to purchase a new central AC unit as they are cheaper during the winter months. I am changing out the old solar charge regulator for a modern MPPT type with a remote display. And the new wind generator still has to be mounted. 

One final option is a desalination plant which I am actively contemplating. The prices on these things are over the top but the boat is already plumbed for one and with three kids, I can't imagine not having one. Until now we have enjoyed an Atmospheric Water Generator which provides drinking water from the air, but these units only make about 8 gallons per day. It's enough for drinking, but not for showering, laundry, and dishes. Hopefully a good deal will present itself before we voyage far. 

This is how she looks now. I'll post new pics soon of the new paint job. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fun with FALL

Lately, we...  

Loaded up on beefy pumpkins... 

Went on a hayride or two...

Enjoyed a TRICK-or-TREAT session... With more to come...

Finished fall soccer...

And burned some leaves to tidy Dayma's yard.  

Ahhh... The joys of fall.  

Poppa's Story

As our children will look back on these posts in later years and remember these moments, I wanted to say a few words to them that their grandfather would have if he were he here.  We were blessed to be with him during his last days.

Kayden, "you will knock someone out with your first punch.  You are strong, baby."  Poppa enjoyed training you to be a boxer and captivating you with his stories.  

Fallon, "Miss Michigan".  You were Poppa's beauty queen and angel.  Poppa couldn't get enough of your sweet smile and precious way.  You received his last hand squeeze.  

Kai, Poppa would tell me you reminded him "of how he was as a little boy".  He loved when you would come into his room and want to check out his treasures or just sit with him and watch cartoons. 

And for you all, "just remember you're good lookin'!"

Remember playing harmonicas with Poppa, watching Poppa draw and getting lessons, receiving your own twenty dollar bills from Poppa, taking Poppa to see his doctors, decorating for Poppa, visiting Poppa at RaeAnne, listening to Poppa's stories, songs, jokes, and silly words like "bobba dooba", and all the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners we ate beside Poppa.

know it seems lonely without him here and you are learning a big life lesson as you process Poppa leaving us for heaven.  Poppa will always love you and watch over you.  Best of all, Poppa can be with Uncle Matti again.  

David Rufus Luhta aka Karhu (the bear), age 82, went on to heaven Friday, October 24, 2014.  
     Born June 13, 1932 to John and Edna Luhta of Fairport, Ohio, Dave roamed the beach, frequented libraries, and rode ponies in his youth.  He moved to Painesville when he was twelve, where his athleticism shined and he brought the State Champion Mile Record home to Harvey High School.   
     After graduation, he became a Ranger in the Army during the Korean Conflict.  He loved the appreciation strangers would express to him when he wore his Korean Veteran hat.  
     A man of many careers from brick layer to carpenter, janitor, newspaper reporter, deckhand, and policeman, his favorite was teaching and coaching in the Ashtabula area.  Dave touched many lives and maintained friendships with many of his former students.  
     He was blessed with nine amazing children, Poppa to nine precious grandchildren, and found his soulmate in Susan "for a moment of forever".  They resided in Haywood Beach, Saybrook Township, where "the weather was always perfect... Heaven on earth".
     Full of songs to sing and stories to share, he was one of a kind.  Dave loved a house full of activity, phone calls, superfluous vocabulary words, OSU football, Hemmingway, self-created expressions, the VCR, Willie Nelson, and Bologna sandwiches.  He marched to his own beat and made sure he always did things his way.
     Dave leaves behind his devoted wife of 44 years, Susan, and their children Lars David (Adrienne), Gunar David (Jenny), Klaus David (Krista), and Susanna Eileen (Scott).  Poppa will be missed by grandchildren Leah, Alyssa, Kayden, Fallon, Soren, Kai, and Finn.  
     Dave is also survived by his former wife, Lucille Dolce, and their children, David Rufus Jr (Patty), Johnathan Joseph, Christopher Robin, and Cynthia Joyce Luhta Reed and grandchildren, Eric (Leslie) and Adam (Sarah).      
     He also leaves behind his brothers, Fabian and Ray, sister, Enid Anderson, sister-in-law, Connie Luhta, many nieces and nephews, and best friend, Roger Freeman.
     He was preceded in death by his parents, John and Edna, sister, Elna Kristensen, brothers, Harvey and  Adolph, Uncle Rufus Tenkku, and son, Mattias David.  
     A private family memorial is being planned for summer 2015.  

Friday, October 24, 2014

So Long Old Friend.

Today my Father passed away. He was a Ranger in Korea, a cop, a sailor, a teacher, and a great Dad. He could run a 100 yards in under 10 seconds. I saw him cry one time, when my older brother left for Navy Boot Camp and Nuclear Power Training School. I saw him drink one time, with me when I graduated Army Boot Camp and Recon Training. In a dark world, my dad was a lantern on the hill. Kids from all walks of life gravitated towards him for fatherly advice and a kind ear. I'll miss you old man. See ya at the cross roads. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts On Living

Clich├ęs aside, it is SO important to live each day to the fullest.  You DO NOT know if tomorrow things could change in an instant.  It is your biggest responsibility to NOT WASTE THE TIME YOU HAVE HERE.  

So we shall pick apples.  

And we shall build teepees.  

And we shall miss loved ones.  

And we shall spend time in the ICU as Poppa Bear fights the fight of his life.  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Adventure within Adventure

The timeline for our return trip to Florida, and our floating home, has run amock. By this point we should have been sailing along and enjoying the tropical sun once more. But here we are, watching the leaves turn and the temperatures drop, as we tend to ever developing family ailments. No complaints though, there are reasons for everything. So as we tread water here in the Great White North, there are other adventures to be had. 
A little bit of equestrian stuff is always fun. I prefer ATV's personally, but these will do for now. 

Then we found a great new daycare so we could have some Mom & Dad time.

And could you believe it snowed up here already?  

One of our favorite hobbies is Geocaching. All around the country are hidden caches of gifts and other assorted items stashed in trees, under park benches, deep in the woods, or maybe in your own back yard. The relative positions of these hidden treasures are captured online and via various websites or apps you can access the locations with a latitude and longitude. We grab a hand held GPS or just use a smart device to navigate our way to one of these locations. It's a blast for the kids and great exercise for their elderly parents. 
The kids will trade out various items, we sign a logbook to stake our victorious find, and then enter the progress online. 
Geocaching can take you anywhere. Some caches are for advanced seekers while others are more intermediate for when the kids are involved. 

And then there were ducks. 

And playgrounds. 

And thats about it for now. New ETA to Florida, early November. Always an eye on the horizon. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Project Refuge Continues

It has been almost a year since we acquired this sailboat. Since that time, there has been some element of work constantly being done to her. 

Currently, skilled contractors are replacing all seacocks and thru hulls. Once the thru hulls were removed they determined that the caulking used 35 years ago had long since passed its servicable life span, and water had seeped into the fiberglass core surrounding these holes. During removal of these thru hulls, some of them basically fell out once unbolted. Fortunately we decided to go ahead with this project. 

Right now these holes in our boat are being cut larger to remove any softened glass, new mat is being epoxied in, and brand new holes, drilled. Some of them, since there were 9 total, have been left glassed over to reduce the number of holes in the boat. Our third bathroom was converted into a walk in closet space so the holes for that are no longer needed. And while writing this I sent a text to our boat guy to check our transducers as well. Probably have to replace those to be safe. 

But this is the final stage of the critical refit. From this point on, all work on the boat will be either for cosmetics or comfort. We plan to return to Florida soon, paint the topside hull real quick (9 days of labor), and then drop her back in the water. By that point our mast should be ready to be stepped with all new stainless wire stays and furling systems. Then, we set sail. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Green Bike

Two years ago, we cruised down to Key West and set up shop for the year. 

Backtracking a bit, the kids were not two wheel capable on a bike a few years before that.  They were just four and under.  It did not stop me, however, from picking up a free green bmx style bike on the side of the road as we drove by it.   Yes, it would take years before the kids would be tall enough to ride it, but it was a perfectly good bike and it was free.  I hauled said bike around for a very long time and eventually brought it to Key West.   Sadly, it became apparent that some work would need to be done on the bike and I was not the girl to make it happen.  Into the dumpster it went.  

We had many neighbors in the Stock Island Village Marina.  One couple four boats down had actually constructed their vessel from ferro cement with their own hands in Russia and sailed her to our southernmost point.  Her mast resembled a telephone pole post and her hull had a personal touch.  They accomplished a major ocean crossing with their own handiwork; we were awestruck.  Yes we had a language barrier, but nothing a smile couldn't overcome. 

We were the youngest marina crew in the vacinty.  One day after the bike dump, the captain on the Russian vessel waved the kids down.  He graciously presented them with a shiny green two wheel bike complete with a new (and lowered) seat, new tires, and a sparkle that only a through detail would reveal.  He was so proud and the kids were beyond thrilled.  He muttered something along the lines of "Someone didn't know what they were throwing away- thought you could use this"...  laden thick with a Russian dialect.   He never knew that he took our dumper bike and regifted it to us after some tlc.  The kids from that day on spent hours taking that bike up and down the marina drive much to the delight of our neighbors: entertainment for all.  

When cruising, you cross paths of many, and most go out of there way with wonderful acts of kindness.  The act of being neighborly is strong and true amongst us.  We appreciate all of our amazing friends out there and look foreword to meeting many more.   

Yes, the pic is not pertinent to the story, but this is how we spend our free time as of late... Constructing amazing forts only to take them down and rebuild them again... Plus we ride bikes or roller blade...  And we go beach combing for beach glass... Etc etc.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


We have spent the past two days witnessing the most beautiful character traits imaginable.  Our Dayma finally siezed the oppertunity to replace a worn knee after putting off a much needed surgery for more than a year.  She just coped until the timing felt right.  She went in yesterday morning and the procedure was executed perfectly.  There was bone on bone in places both expected and not, but fortunately no spurring.

  She was out of the OR for not much more than an hour when she started requesting to get up.  She was focused on healing. Though physical therapy was slow to give her clearance to be up in the hours following the surgery, just one day after, she was walking the halls like a champion.  

Amidst an itchy allergic reaction to meds, a popped staple from compression, issues with ivs, and multiple pokes to find new veins, she never once complained.  She is a fighter, not a whiner.  She creates her circumstances instead of letting her circumstances create her.   She does it all with silent grace.  We are in awe.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Party Rockers in the House Tonight

We drove into town (Ashtabula, Ohio) on a Thursday night.  We were greeted by cousins also visiting, and the first party began family reunion style.  

The neighborhood annual summer party was themed pirates this year and just so happened to occur shortly after our arrival.  Though the kids didn't have to dress up to fit the part, we crafted a costume out of some dollar store finds.  Argh!!  

Amidst all the excitement, Pip sprained her knee and had to take a time out from guard dog duties.  She had a resting party.  

We picked Gunar up near Niagra Falls and brought him home.  We celebrated with a hooray our family is complete and back together party.  

And then we honored our Dayma with a very special birthday party.

Tonight, we attended a Finnish heritage party complete with a Fish Fry put on by one of Gunar's first employers.  

These days, life goes from one party to the next.  We shall never look back and say we did not live while we could...