As I made my excuses in the last posting, I’ll try to remember what all I’ve been up to since my last real journal entry. I got of the boat in Fourchon, and had an over night stay in New Orleans where I managed to get a little bit of shopping done (a visit to one of Dazzle favourite stores) before travelling home. Early in the leave, Dazzle went down to Leeds for her second consultation with for her surgery in July, so I had a whole day with the pups. I think I tired them out playing football in the garden, or was it the other way round?? hahah I think I managed to get one or two little jobs done round the house, but main success of the leave was finally managing to get the two large trees in the lane beside the house felled. We got a local tree surgeon to do the majority of the work (at least all the climbing and chain-saw wielding!) and with his help we got the trunk and main branches chopped in to manageable sizes and I now have them stacked at the side and behind the garage to season. The original intension had been to just split the logs and use them for fire wood, but we are now thinking about whether we would be able to craft some of the bigger bits into rustic furniture. I did manage to do some painting during the leave too (you can see some photos of the new ones in the hobbies section of my web page). Before I left last trip, after doing the small painting of the “Snow Birches”, I had had primed a big canvas, black, in preparation for a larger version. So I did the bigger version, and although I had to re-work some of the snow banks later, I was quite pleased with it, though I don’t think it is as good as the first one. The second one was done with much more subtle colours than the first and I think I really need to find a balance between the two extremes. I think I may have to experiment a little on the same theme, as it is a nice painting to do with a lot of potential for colour variations for different effects, so although the fundamental process is the same, radically different looking paintings could be produced quite easily. After that I tried my first seascape. I was a little disappointed with the sky (I didn’t really achieve the “feel” I was looking for) and my rocks need a bit of work, but I was pretty pleased with the way that the sea, waves and beach worked out. I also realised, after the event, that this was the first “portrait” format painting that I had done since my second effort! I had made a go at making some frames for a few, including a couple of my very first ones, and another thing I did during this leave, painting related, was that I finally showed some of my paintings to an “outsider” for a bit of a critique.. This was something that I had been quite nervous about really. They had some quite positive things to say about some of them, particularly the first “Snow Birches” and “Forest Path”, which has been a great boost to my confidence, to the extent that I am now considering having a couple of my efforts properly framed and entered into a local event next year that is open to both professional and amateur artists. Who knows, something may even come of that? Dazzle and I spent a lot of time kicking round ideas for floor plans for our log cabin in Colorado, which was fun, trying to decide what we wanted, where. Dazzle also spoke to some builders in Colorado, so when we go over for our holiday, later in the year, we’ll be able to get together with them and go out to the site to try and formulate more plans. I had a lot of fun with the dogs during the leave, they are so funny and it always amazes me how different all their personalities are. Being away from them, then coming home again always brings their individual little quirks home to me. We did have a bit of a scare with Sassy, when she managed to wriggle out of her new harness, and take off, down the main road out of Turriff. We got her back, none of the worse for her experience (apart from our heart rates) She really is so highly strung when she is out of her “comfort zone” but she is so good when she is in her own, home, environment. Another job around the house, was that we finally got the correct panels for the dog run, so they are now sorted out and in place. After having endless problems with her computer, we finally bit-the-bullet, and bought a new machine for Dazzle’s office. We got a really good deal for it, on-line, at the Dell factory outlet. I have to say that I’m a little jealous!” hahaha Dazzle was really busy with her school, her course was building up towards it’s conclusion during this leave, so I had the opportunity to help her out by being a “body”, not only for one of her aromatherapy assessments, but also her practical first aid one. And then in the last week of the leave, Dazzle, was the first aid case when she fell and went over her ankle while we were walking Cinnamon on Peterhead beach. Cinnamon was quite funny (not that it was a laughing matter at the time) as she turned round and looked at Dazzle, “starfished” on the ground, as if to say, “that’s funny, It’s usually dad that plays with us on the ground!” The last real event of the leave was on the Sunday before I left. We went to Fyvie Castle, where, as well as having an interesting look round the castle and grounds, there was a performance from a bell ringing group, which was really cool. Unfortunately I forgot to make sure that I had my digital camera charged, so I didn’t get any pictures. I’m sure we will visit again and be able to get some photos to put up on the Grampian page on our site. Dazzle did take some pictures on film, but of course, there was no way to get them developed before I left! One more thing that I got done, though it wasn’t until I got back to the boat, was my tax return completed and filed. Again this year, I should qualify for my “seaman’s deduction” and get a slice of tax money back… cool! There was one more thing that I did a lot of, and had a bit of a disappointment with, but I’m keeping that under my hat at the moment. Apart from a one day course in the middle of the leave, work left me pretty much alone this leave, so it was a bit of a thought when I had to drag my butt out of bed (very) early Monday morning to start my journey back to the boat. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I am back on the boat now. We’re currently in port in Louisiana. The project is on a bit of a hold, so we’re busy on the boat with maintenance and modifications. The forecast has a “tropical storm” (the phrase they use that means “one step down from a hurricane”) coming, but it’s due to turn north between Florida and where we are, so it shouldn’t affect us. I’m working on night-shift which means that I’m missing the worst of the heat, but the down side is that we’re getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. Apparently, no-one has told them that we are supposed to be higher up the food chain than them! Well, thats a bit of a “catch-up”, probably the longest journal entry I’ve done for a long time.