Thursday, October 31, 2013

Launching The "When and If"

Yesterday everyone gathered at Cayuga Wooden Boatworks in the town of Cayuga, NY to watch the moving of the "When and If" back into the waters of Cayuga Lake. A year ago, almost to the day, I photographed this beautiful schooner coming out of the water for all manner of repairs. Now, with a new transom, new hull planking, and new decks, as well as numerous repairs, she is back in the water and under power. This weekend the "When and If" will be moved down to Watkins Glen where more work will continue on her below decks. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


macro photograph of my water glass, taken with my iPhone4 and a strap on macro lens

On the 11th and 12th of October, Nancy and I celebrate a whole host of special days in our lives. The 12th of October is the day we got married, eleven years ago. The 11th is the day that I first walked into Nancy's office and asked her out on a date. I had no idea it was also her birthday. So many wonderous things tied up in those two days.

I think that is why I struggle with reflecting on the other celebration that happens for us on the 11th of October. It is the day I woke up from the coma. This year, we did our best to not let old memories intrude on the new life we are making for ourselves. I figured, it could wait. There is always plenty of time for reflection.

Today I reflect.

How do you say "thank you" to someone who has sat by your bedside, for a month... when every day the doctors had nothing but bad news? How do you say you "are sorry" for all the grief that came afterwards....the rehab, the bills, the closing of the pottery studio, the disolution of a dream, the bankruptcy, the legal morass.. all of it?

I had no idea what was in store when I woke up four years ago. It seems like a lifetime ago now. In some ways it is. When I woke up, and looked into Nancy's beautiful eyes, I saw the look of someone who was so glad to see me, so excited to see me alive, so grateful to know I was there...and I couldn't say a word. When she saw my frustration and understood that all I could do was cry, she asked me if I was trying to tell her that I loved her. More tears.

As I reflect on the time since the coma, and the time before the coma, I often skip over the time in the coma. I have avoided writing about it for months now. I figure it is  not something most folks want to read. At this point, I think that anyone that bothers to read this blog can either skip over the scary stuff or go look at cat pictures on the intertubes. This blog has always been about my way of seeing things. Which means that as I begin more reflecting, I will begin to flesh out some of the coma stories. There is a mountain of time that passed for me.... many many years. Different places, different times, very different lives... but all of those memories are still very much a part of me now.

My hope is that by spending a little bit of time reflecting on those experiences, and sharing them, perhaps some of these memories will soften with the telling. To that end, I welcome your comments and questions as I begin to share my reflections on that very strange time in my life.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Putting It All Back Together (on the When and If)

It is all coming together. Starting with the decking.... row after neat row of teak was laid down. Then screwed down with bronze screws...whose holes would later be plugged with teak plugs. You can see Seth Salzmann flush cutting the plugs in the first image.

About a week ago, a caulking crew was brought in from Maine to drive the cotton and apply the rubber that overlays the cotton. Now the decks are nearly ready to have the boathouses reattached.

There is so much that goes into every step of restoring this schooner. It seems like a never ending process, and yet, we are getting close to the end of her time on dry land. I expect that these boathouses will be painted this week and probably reattached to the deck before next week is done. The goal is to get the When and If back into the water and moved down Seneca Lake to Watkins Glen for the winter. The locks on the lake close in November... so time is of the essence.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Bottoms Up

I realized this week that I have been photographing the When and If for over a year now. There has been such a huge change in tempo over the past month or two. There are a host of new folks working on the restoration. They had a crew of guys come down from Maine to take care of caulking the decks. While I was there this past week, they were working on painting the hull and painting the interiors of the boathouses (more images of that soon). So much has happened since summer turned into fall. Soon, the When and If will be moved down to Watkins Glen for the winter. My understanding is that by getting it back in the water soon, it will help re-swell the things that have dried out, and it will also make the boat much closer to the guys who are doing all of this work.

I look at a shape like this and it speaks to me of organic forms like the face of a great whale. It is difficult to grasp the scale when looking at photos on a computer screen. This boat is sizeable! About 60' long. Out of the water it is over 12' to the deck. As I looked up at the bow, from the ground, it was (and always is) a strange experience. Imposing, perhaps is the best word. You feel almost like as it rises over your head, that somehow, you should recognize its massiveness. I can't wait to see it from the water's edge soon!