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Well, once again Christmas is just around the corner.

I fly out later this week to Sacramento before renting a car and making the drive on over to Santa Rosa and The Valley of the Moon.  I’m flying in a few days early to spend some time with my mother-in-law.  She’s a wonderful, 87 year old woman who loves to talk, and has loads of wisdom; I simply love visiting her.  I’ll spend a few days with her before driving back to Sacramento on Tuesday, the 21st, to pick up my husband who’ll be coming in late from Houston.  He and I then intend to drive on over to Lake Tahoe, spend the 22nd taking in one quick day of skiing at Heavenly before driving back over to Santa Rosa at the end of the day.  He will fly out the Monday after Christmas while I, on the other hand, will take a flight out later that week in order to be back home before New Years.

Skiing is a “being in shape” kind of thing.  Last year at this time I was in excellent shape; this year I’ve gained a few pounds.  On the up side, last year I was almost a two pack a day smoker; this year I quit smoking on my birthday back in September…as a side note, it really wasn’t that hard to quit.  Anyway, both of us are advanced intermediate skiers, seldom fall, and both love the sport…so a day on the Tahoe slopes will be a lot of fun.  In February, we go back out to that area so that my husband can help my mother-in-law get her tax data together.  We always work in several days of skiing during that period.  I’ll be in much better shape by then.

I’m looking forward to it.  Hopefully I will be going early enough to miss most of the Christmas rush at the airport and coming back early enough to miss the New Year’s one as well.  And, then there will be the new security thing.  You know, the pat down/body scan procedures we have been hearing the uproar about.  They can do whatever they want to me and I’m fine with it.  Call me a coward if you will, but there’s just something about being a passenger on a crashing wide body jet that I’m…well…just a tad bit uncomfortable with…it’s strictly an inertia thing, mind you.  I have often thought that what they need to do is give passengers a choice:  fly on a plane in which all necessary security screening procedures are followed, or keep things the way they used to be and allow passengers to fly on those planes instead.  Thank you, but speaking just for me, I’ll be on the secure planes every time.

Speaking of taxes, I was audited for my 2006 returns.  This was my first time being audited.  A lot of money was at stake, resulting in me having to hire a CPA to represent my interests and it appears that I will prevail.  The audit revolved around business expenses I incurred while on a contract in Tonawanda, New York and has transpired over a period of almost two years.   That’s the good news.  The bad news is I received a letter from the IRS last Friday that my 2008 returns were also audited, again, with a significant amount of money at stake.  This time it had to do with gambling winnings I supposedly didn’t report.  This is a cut and dry issue as gambling winnings are directly offset by gambling losses with regards to income (even though one may have lost more than they won, they can only claim losses equal to what they won)…and, believe me, I do not and never had made a living off of gambling.  On the other hand, I do love to gamble and have won a considerable amount that required me having to file W-2s on them and apparently, in 2008, there were some W-2s that I simply misplaced and didn’t report.  Either way, now I have to go back and prove to the IRS that the amount they say I won (but didn’t report) was offset by additional losses I had (but didn’t claim).  Prior to my 2006 issues, I’d never been audited or had to deal with the IRS…they are every bit as difficult to deal with as I’d always heard.  No fun at all.

The boat restoration is coming along with most of the interior joinery finishing completed.  Everything but just three small pieces have been completely refinished.  Generally, “refinishing” has meant removing all of the old varnish/finish and/or sanding down to bare wood and recoating.  The bottom and edges of the cabin sole have two coats of penetrating epoxy and then two coats of polyurethane on them…the top, exposed floor part of the sole, has ten coats of polyurethane…with each coat wet sanded before applying the next…the passage way steps also have ten coats.  Generally, the other wood work has six to eight coats of polyurethane…all new interior wood work has six to eight coats.  It has been a lot of work…a lot of work.  I am starting my forth consecutive week of, everyday, doing nothing but that.  Considering that after the initial sanding and the first two coats of polyurethane each piece is then recoated, allowed to dry, wet sanded, wiped down to removed excess water, allowed to completely dry, wiped down a second time with a tack cloth soaked in mineral spirits, and the given another coat of poly urethane…and each and every piece of wood work from the cabin floor up is given this procedure anywhere from six to ten times…I will say again, this has been a lot of work.  The only up side is that the end is very much in sight.

This past weekend, aside from the same sand and finish routine, involved chiseling out the removable bilge boards to accept the brass ring pull fittings, coating the recess with two coats of polyurethane, and then mounting the rings themselves.  I did the wood chiseling.  There were two of them.  Just the wood removal was two hours…each.  These two bilge boards are part of the cabin sole and screwing them up would not have been good.  Each of the two boards is cut from the same piece of teak sole material and then both the male and female edges of the cut out are lined and then expoxyed in with solid teak all around…then coated with epoxy and given ten coats of polyurethane as described above.  Each board is relatively small, but a major pain in the butt to construct and finish.  A slip of the chisel would not have been a good thing at all, to say the least.  However, they came out great…all is well.

All of the finished wood, piece by piece, as it’s finish is judged acceptable, is moved to a spare bedroom to cure for several weeks in a warm, low humidity environment.  We don’t anticipate putting things back together until mid to late January of next year.  Polyurethane is very easy to work with, but even though it will dry quite hard in twenty four hours of dry weather, it takes several weeks for all of the solvent to evaporate and the finish to cure to its maximum hardness.

My husband, the mechanical engineer, is handling the mechanical and electrical part of our restoration.  This weekend he rerouted just under 300’-0 of electrical circuit wire.  We are moving the electrical panel to a more accessible spot from under the passage way (where some idiot at Hunter really had a brain fart when he decided to put it there) to just above the navigation table where the iPod/CD player, radios and GPS are at.  The hot water heater, though operable, was deemed “trash” by my guy and was removed and its rusted out remnants thrown away; its new replacement is sitting in a box along with other equipment in the middle of my living room to be installed once that part of the sole is put in.  He only likes the stereo speaker wires to run and wire chasing is over.  Only the wire has been run…no terminations or continuity checks have been made yet…and there are a lot of them to do.  The auto helm, knot meter, depth gauge, fuel gauge, wind and weather instruments will all be relocated to the cockpit pedestal…again, a lot of work for him.

After the holidays, I’ll start the interior finishing of the walls and a couple of lockers…shouldn’t require that much work on them…large flat areas.  Then we haul the boat out of the water for a bottom job, replacement of the antenna wire, lighting wire/hardware and the installation/replacement of the weather system on the 40’ tall mast.  We are modifying the settee area and my guy has promised that all of that joinery will be done when I return from California.  So, at that time, we will get estimates and order the new cushions to match the salon mods.  Kemah, where we live has the third largest concentration of sailboats in the US; there is no shortage of boating vendors in this area, most are within ten minutes or so of where we live so all of this work will be done locally and under a watchful eye.  We still have not gotten the boat’s documentation back from the US Coast Guard…as soon as we do, hopefully before we put the boat back in the water, though it really doesn’t matter, we will have the new name put on.

One can see a few photos of the work HERE Sorry, but I’m not into the Facebook friending thing…so please don’t ask.

There’s a lot going on.  I like Christmas for all kinds of reasons but, when reading, see that some will not be happy until they absolutely destroy the holiday season.  There’s the Christmas Myth thing going around and the push to eliminate Santa Clause and associate Christmas with Frosty the Snowman.  Geeeez.  Some people really need to get a life…and into the Christmas spirit.

Well, that’s the news from the Southern front.  Everyone keep in touch, tell me about your holidays and, most of all, have a very Merry Christmas and safe and sound New Years…the best to all of you.


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