Thursday, May 19, 2011

Trees With Wings

We got back from our most recent (and delightful) workshop to discover some tantalizing paperwork from Social Security, suggesting that Ernie's claim is moving forward faster than expected.
Then I checked his account online, and a deposit Monday confirmed it. Still waiting for the official award letter, so we don't know what monthly amount to expect.

From juggling pre-employment costs and part-time jobs, to planning for long-postponed repairs and projects.

We've weathered some tough times these past few years. I hope we can make the transition to relative luxury with equal luck, before we buckle down to fixed-income living again.

So far we're still giddy, and trying not to make any firm decisions until reality sets in. It's weird not to have to choose between printer ink and the electric bill. I have started harping on 'boat part equivalencies' just to keep in the habit. ("Two large pizzas is worth about 3 quarts of epoxy, go ahead and order it, but not too often.") I sound like Erma Bombeck.

He wants to pay to get my teeth fixed. I want to see the official award letter before we spend any of it.

But the basics we've already lined out:
1) Pay off all outstanding debts.
2) Get the car repaired and tuned up, current on all its maintenance.
3) Start planning the big-boat building project that's been Ernie's goal for years.

Trees With Wings is the phrase that we came up with, on a trip to the coast last year.
(This seems to be the only 'trees with wings' currently on the internet, so I'll be looking into business names soon. Cool art, but nothing like the image we plan to use:

Another is "The Lifeboat Project."

The idea: To create a blue-water sailboat, live aboard, and use the boat as a platform for education programs, disaster relief, and small scale cargo or charters. To use the building, outfitting, and operations of the vessel as educational opportunities, and strengthen links between coastal communities for a resilient future.

The boat: a 40+ foot sailing catamaran, capable of transporting cargo, crew, or serving as a 'mothership' for maritime education adventures. Also capable of beaching in remote areas to assist with disaster relief, wild foods harvesting, or serve as a floating field hospital.

Building it ourselves seems necessary to suit Ernie's 2-meter height and special needs (like handholds and fewer steps).
That means we need about a 50' shed, at least 20' wide (the whole thing, assembled, is 25' wide, but we can build the parts indoors and then assemble them outdoors).
And lots of plywood and epoxy.
(Ernie ran the numbers, and it looked to him like traditional wooden boats required too much old-growth wood. Not environmentally sustainable without dedicated forest lands, given the lifetime and maintenance of the boats. With regret, since we love them, we are not likely to build a traditional wooden boat in the near future unless we can salvage most or all of the wood. We salvaged about 90% of the Tari's wood, and are adding higher-grade fiberglass and epoxy before registering her for this year's festivals.)

From a question of 'will it ever be possible,' it's become a question of, 'Where do we build it?' Do we go up to Ernie's dad's remote mountain cabin, for his invaluable help to speed and smooth the build?
Do we stay between Portland and Seattle, where Erica's family and our current circle of acquaintances would be delighted to be involved (including several very competent boatbuilders)?
Do we lodge ourselves with the friends who have the best available barn or Quonset hut, near the coast, or the other friends with on-site milling of custom Port Orford cedar?

Such pleasant questions to consider.