Home Studio Tour 🎙 🔊 🎥

Home Studio Tour 🎙 🔊 🎥

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

I recently hosted a webinar about Big Enough and just before it went live, I snapped the photo below and put it on Instagram. 

The immediate response from followers was questions about the technology and tools in the photo. Today online meetings are common and a lot of people are looking for ways to make the experience better. This inspired me to share.

The setup in the photo is something I’ve wanted for years. I’ve worked from home since 2003 and have hosted all kinds of meetings and webinars, all the while wishing it was easier. I kept saying, “Once we move into the new house, I’m going to get it dialed in.” For me, that meant quality and ease of use. I wanted to be able to transition into video mode in seconds, with everything at my fingertips.

Today, I feel like I’m on the right track and learning as I go. I’ve been able to address most of what I wanted to do, but there will always be ways to improve (like using a dSLR camera). My goal right now is to look professional without spending thousands of dollars. This version of a home studio is in the DIY category compared to many.

Let’s take a tour.

Note: As always, I do not have relationships with third parties and earn no income from recommending specific products. 

Audio Quality

Microphones have been a part of my professional life since 2007 and I generally opt for a good mic that plugs into the computer with USB. The mic I have right now is quite good and affordable. I like that it can be muted with a soft (and silent) tap. It’s called El Gato Wave 3 ($150).

Video Quality

I use a camera that captures video in HD (1080p), which helps the video look crisp and clean. When side-by-side with a built-in camera, the difference is obvious. I like that the camera sits nicely on top of the monitor, has a visible indicator light when it is on, and a hinged door that covers the lens when it’s not being used. The model I have is a Logitech c920 ($70)

Lighting

Lighting is one of the hardest elements to get right. I sit by a window and usually have natural light, which is nice but always changing. To help, I acquired two small LED panels that sit atop small tripods. They have two controls: brightness and light color (Kelvin scale). I love that the lights can be powered by a cord, or rechargeable battery (purchased separately). The batteries make them extremely portable and easy. I use:

Monitor

I’ve worked solely on laptops for years and made the switch to having an external monitor that could handle more than a laptop screen. I chose this 27” LG ($450)

Speakers

I prefer sound, like media played from the computer, to be nice and clear. Often the speakers that come with computers or monitors don’t work that well, so I use nice-ish speakers that are powered by USB. Thankfully, the speakers we used for our Computer/TV in the guesthouse were impressive and I and transferred them into the new office. Creative Pebble Speakers are small but mighty. ($20)

Power/Surge Protection

The first thing we did for the office was plan for having a lot of outlets. That helps, but most of the office tech is centrally located, so I found a power strip with a flexible cord, mounting holes, flat plug, USB outlets, and surge protection. It’s been reliable and I like the design, in part, because it can be mounted under the desk. Addtam 10’ Power Strip Surge Protector ($20) I also use a wireless charging pad: Tozo W1 ($13)

Sound Dampening

I consulted with a couple of friends about reducing room noise and learned a few things. First, sound moves in predictable directions. If you are facing a wall and make a sound, the sound waves will bounce off the wall in front and also hit the wall behind you. This is the source of many echoes. I wanted to dampen the sound in the office by adding acoustical panels on opposite walls that absorb the sound waves rather than reflect them. I used two kinds, each with different looks and costs.

Rhino Acoustic Sound Panels – These are more functional than beautiful, but do the trick and can be arranged in a variety of patterns. $55 for 6 panels.

Acoustic Design Works – These are very effective and stylish. You can order them in a variety of colors and shapes. About $42 per panel.   

Background

I’ve been trying to figure out what should be in the background of my videos in addition to the colorful sound panels. I have enjoyed having a fiddle leaf fig in the shot, but fear that it will soon take over. (See above)

Silence

The office has a closing door, which helps. However, the dogs seem to get excited about me talking to someone in the room, so we sometimes usher them to the car with a handful of treats. Aside from that, my biggest problem was using a Macbook Air laptop for online meetings. It wasn’t quite robust enough and the fan noise became a problem. Now, I use a Mac Mini under the desk and haven’t heard any noise or had any performance problems since. 

Order

All the cords drove me a little crazy and made the office feel like an IT department. The problem was that the cords all had to stretch from the center of the table to the edge. My desk is inexpensive and over ten years old, so I thought it would be fun to customize it by drilling a big hole in the center of it, where all the cords could disappear from sight. Pardon my bragging, but this was a stroke of minor genius. Just don’t look under the desk!

Overall

I’m feeling more confident about the office set up all the time. Getting it right means constantly tweaking settings, organizing the gadgets, and more. Now that the days are shorter, I need to up my darkness game and there are always more ways to dampen sound. One thing that can’t be too disturbed is the space for Maybe to be while I work.

Witches on the Water 🧙‍♀️🌊

Witches on the Water 🧙‍♀️🌊

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

When you live in a small place, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of awareness. There can’t be that many secrets among a few thousand people on an island, right? After having lived on Orcas Island for a few years now, I’m realizing that the island is full of traditions that aren’t at all accessible, or obvious.

We share a chat app with a few groups of friends on the island and a couple of the women started to talk about finding paddleboards for Halloween. Paddleboards? What a weird thing to use as part of a costume, I thought.

After a bit of questioning, I found that there is an island tradition called “Witches on the Water” or “Witches Paddle” that takes place on Halloween day. Just like it sounds, women on the island dress as witches and paddle around a section of the island and back.

This was news to me and I didn’t want to miss it. There were no announcements or fliers. In fact, the only way we knew the location and timing was by asking friends. I believe this is by design. No one, I assume, wants it to be a big deal and I hope the witches forgive me for highlighting it here.

On an uncharacteristically sunny fall day, about 40 witches boarded their vessels and paddled out across the cold waters of the Salish Sea.

Photos

witches on paddleboards
witches crossing sign

All-in-all, not a bad way to spend a Halloween afternoon.

Interview with Matt Pierce at Techsmith

Interview with Matt Pierce at Techsmith

I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Matthew Pierce at Techsmith, makers of Camtasia, Snag-it, and other fine products.

Matt hosts The Visual Lounge, which is about the power of using visuals in videos and how to make them better. I was a recent guest and we discussed:

  • Common Craft as Pioneers of Explainer Videos
  • Our approach to creating and using visuals in our animated videos
  • What’s unique about Common Craft Cut-outs
  • The Art of Explanation Book
  • Dual coding theory
  • Cognitive load, and a lot more…

You can watch the entire interview below or at this link:

One Famous Sea Star ⭐️

One Famous Sea Star ⭐️

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

It started on what seemed like a typical autumn day. The weather was calm and Sachi was feeling the pull of crab traps. That feeling, which I feel too, is similar to the feeling of gambling; a rush that comes from the chance to win. Every fisher feels it, I assume, and many know that as long as you’re on the water, there’s no way to lose. 

dungeness crabs in a trap

We boarded Short Story and headed out to Deer Harbor with our supplies in a small bucket, a cooler, and a dry bag. The whole process happens by rote at this point, having gone to check the traps on most days of every week since mid-July. 

This day would be different, but not that remarkable in isolation. As one of the traps came to the surface, I heard Sachi say, “Whoa!” in a tone that was part surprise and part anxiety. It looked as though an alien had entered the trap. It was a bright orange sunflower sea star with 19 arms and we weren’t sure what to do.

sunflower sea star lee lefever

We both were flummoxed for a moment. We knew sea stars are harmless to people, but this 19-armed creature looked like it evolved to be a warning to humans, like a brightly colored spider or snake. Some scientists now believe that our reaction to spiders and snakes is innate and not learned. Perhaps, somewhere in the backs of our minds, an ancient voice was telling us that the bright orange creature in our trap could be dangerous.

In reality, we humans are far more dangerous to it.

Sea stars on the pacific coast of the US have had it rough recently. Starting in 2013, over 90% of them died due to sea star wasting disease. No one is certain what caused it, but many think the culprit was a sudden change in ocean temperatures. Sea stars that used to be incredibly common in our area simply vanished over a few years. Since then, the ocean ecology seems to have been out of balance. 

From this article.

The widespread collapse of sea stars, a top predator and keystone species, has had dire consequences for many of the West Coast’s marine ecosystems. For example, the local extinction of sunflower sea stars, which can live for up to 65 years, has led to an explosion of their primary prey, the Pacific purple sea urchin. On a single reef in Oregon, the population of these animals increased 10,000-fold between 2014 and 2019, to more than 350 million individuals.

Sunflower sea stars, like the one we had in the trap, were recently certified as critically endangered by the IUCN

I was aware of their plight and we brainstormed how to get the sea star out of the trap unharmed and back into the water without touching it. But first, I needed to take some photos. With that out of the way, we dipped the trap back in the water and turned it on its side, and with a little shake, it fell out gently and drifted back down to the shadowy depths. 

sea star in water

My first thought was our friends on the island who work for a non-profit organization funded by UC Davis called SeaDoc Society. Their work focuses on ocean science and the rehabilitation of the Salish Sea and its inhabitants. I looked forward to sharing what I thought was a good sign for sea star recovery. I put the photo on Instagram first.

A week or so passed and an idea struck. I enjoy browsing Reddit and occasionally post photos. One of the communities that seemed perfect and has over 19 million members is called, “Mildly Interesting“. I thought the sea star fit that description, so I shared the photo on Reddit with a short note about it being endangered. This is where things started to hit high gear.

Reddit is designed to be a democratic system. Once something new is posted, the members of the community can each give it one vote: up or down. When something gets traction, the upvotes outnumber the downs, and the post has the potential to ascend to the top of the community page and possibly reach the front page of Reddit itself. 

When I went to bed that night, it was obvious the photo struck a chord. It had thousands of upvotes, with new votes coming by the second. I couldn’t wait to check my phone in the morning to see what developed as I slept. 

To my surprise, the post received over 30k upvotes overnight and reached the Reddit front page at position #10. I was so excited and read almost every comment, including 100+ versions of the question, “how did it taste?” Such is Reddit.  

reddit data
reddit data

That day, I received a succinct message from someone who asked if I was interested in licensing the photo to news organizations. I agreed. He sent over an agreement and questionnaire that gave me a chance to tell the story. I was careful to promote the photo as possible evidence of a sea star comeback and its connection to ocean ecology.

These kinds of relationships are unpredictable. I figured there was no harm in licensing the photo and I might earn a few bucks. More than anything, I expected nothing to happen.

A few days later, a friend on the island shared a link that was a surprise. Fox News had picked up the story and used the photo on their website along with quotes from me, the “fisherman”. I found it hilarious.

fox news story about sea star

Then, the article also appeared on the New York Post website.

new york post sea star

Messages poured in from friends and family calling me, “The Fisherman”. If only they knew that Sachi is the real fisher in the family.  One of my favorite parts of the article is this quote at the end:

“LeFever did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.”

At a personal level, this was a fun and exciting event to watch unfold. But it’s also a reminder about how little this kind of media exposure matters. It had nearly zero impact on my career or livelihood. I did earn a $75 licensing fee for the photo, which is nice. 

The real outcome, I hope, is building awareness about the sea stars of the Salish Sea and sea star wasting disease. Every person who learns about it is one more potential advocate for taking care of the ocean.

According to Reddit, my post has been viewed over 3 million times and shared over 1,000 times in the past two weeks. The Fox news article has been widely viewed and shared as well. It was not my intention, but I count the few minutes it took to share the photo as a small part I could play in helping the sea stars get more attention and hopefully rebound. 

reddit stats

Since that first catch, we’ve seen three more sunflower sea stars in our traps, so there is growing evidence, at least from our boat, that they are coming back. Here is one escaping just as we pulled up the trap:

sea star escaping crab trap
sunflower sea star
Free Event: Ten Lessons from BIG ENOUGH

Free Event: Ten Lessons from BIG ENOUGH

big enough book promo
caption for image

I’m hosting an online event to share ten lessons from my book, Big Enough.

Now more than ever, people are reconsidering their careers and looking for options to work from home and lead saner, healthier lives.

Big Enough is full of practical tips and inspiration for building intentionally small businesses that support more than the bottom line.

  • When: Thursday, November 4th at 11am PT (2pm ET)
  • Where: Online

Event Details:

✅ What if you could build a small business that satisfies customers and promotes the lifestyle you want?

✅ What if you could work from home and earn a living without employees?

✅ What if measures of success included happiness, health, and free time, along with income?

In 2007, my wife and I set out to build a business like the one described above. We have achieved that goal and today, I’m sharing how we did it. It’s a decade-long story of hard work, ingenuity, and trusting relationships.

This 30-minute event is based on the lessons in my book, BIG ENOUGH, which tells the story of transforming our two-person company, Common Craft, into a successful business that’s built around the lives we want to lead.

It’s a story of calculated risks, business experiments, and an absolute belief that a business can be designed to promote the long-term health and happiness of its owners.

Join me in this FREE 30-minute event and I’ll walk through ten lessons we learned along the way.

What you’ll get:

  • 30-minute presentation by Lee
  • A free chapter of Big Enough (digital)
  • The chance to win a signed copy of Big Enough, plus 3 stickers, and a pair of Big Enough Socks!
caption for image

Learn more and find other resources at the book page: bigenough.life.

Thanks so much for your interest in the book!

Permanence and Permaculture 🦆

Permanence and Permaculture 🦆

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

Saturday was supposed to be rainy, which is the norm for this time of year. I thought we’d do indoor house projects, like organize the garage or get to some painting touch-ups. Then, the weather cleared except for a brisk wind that was perceptibly warmer than it had been in days. 

Sachi decided to head to the grocery store and we loaded up the car with trash and recycling for a trip to the transfer station on the way. I couldn’t help but think of the connection between her trips. Old food containers would become full again. My plan was to walk to a nearby nursery that was having a plant sale and she asked twice about dropping me off. I wanted to walk and she relented.

Not far from home is a wetland area that is often flanked with birders in the summer, who park on the side of the county road and lug long lenses along the shore. The wetland and its views are so commonplace to us that we don’t notice it often. But on this walk, I did. 

Across the road from the wetland, I noticed a little trail leading up the hill that I’d never seen before. Long branches were arranged lengthwise on the sides of the trail, which I took as an invitation. After a short hike, I found a bench overlooking the wetland and a sign that marked it as public property. 

bench overlooking wetland

I stayed on the hill for a while and took in the view. The wetland below has a story. In the 1970s, a neighbor, who was a professor of ornithology, noticed that the area was attracting a variety of birds. He worked with several neighbors, who owned the land, to create a conservation easement with the aim to establish a waterfowl preserve. They flooded the former fields and the fowl came in droves. Today, the preserve is managed by the county and is a permanent part of the island that is open to the public. 

On an island like Orcas, there is always pressure to develop. Over time, much of the island, and especially the properties with shorelines, have been purchased and developed. But there are exceptions. Multiple organizations like the San Juan Preservation Trust work with property owners to preserve wild spaces so that the island can continue to offer access to the public and provide homes to wildlife. The waterfowl preserve is one of those spaces; a permanent slice of wildlife. 

I walked back down the hill and by the preserve and eventually arrived at my destination: the nursery. Bullock’s Permaculture Homestead and Nursery is no typical nursery. It’s a destination that’s known around the world for expertise in the field of permaculture. They have been developing the property for over 35 years to be an example of a permaculture system at work. People arrive from all over to attend their design courses, become farm interns, and experience the homestead. 

Bullocks Sign

If you’re like me, you’re asking: perma-what? It’s a good question and one that seems more difficult to answer the more you learn about it. Any attempt to explain it is a risk and I’m sure some may take exception.

Permaculture is an approach to agriculture and lifestyle that is focused on sustainability, self-reliance and working within natural systems. In part, this means designing farms and gardens to work as a system that includes livestock, water, waste, energy, and vegetables. A common example is a chicken, which not only produces meat and eggs but consumes plant waste and produces manure that serves to fertilize the ground. Reduce, reuse, recycle. 

Visiting the nursery is a cultural experience. A number of people live and work on the homestead, which is a maze of houses, gardens, greenhouses, and farming equipment. The people who work there are amazingly knowledgeable and very friendly. They all seem to adhere to what seems like a standard style: dirt-encrusted farmer, and proud of it. 

I browsed one of the nurseries by the entry and considered a couple of trees that were priced at 50% off, but I was walking. Trees are popular among permaculturists, as they represent a permanent part of the garden that can produce fruit and shade, and be enjoyed by both humans and livestock. That’s part of the idea. Instead of constantly pulling plants in and out of the soil, it’s better to plant something permanent.   

At the side of the nursery, there was a tent where a couple was managing the transactions. I approached and asked about garden design services. A friendly worker said I should talk to Doug, who was further back in the property. She said, “He looks like a crusty permaculture dude.” Message sent. 

I wandered into the maze to potentially find Doug, but also see what was there. Permaculture gardens are rarely the manicured gardens you might expect at a normal nursery. Instead it feels more laissez-faire and unkempt. Weeds mingle with plants, grass grows everywhere, and the property is dotted with pile after pile of decomposing plants. This is all intentional and part of the idea. Nature is messy and unkempt and that’s how the plants like it.

compost bin
trailer on dirt trail

I finally saw Doug who was deep in conversation among the rows, so I kept walking. I could have stayed at Bullock’s much longer, but the rain was coming back, so I made my way home.  It is a fascinating place.  

That evening the rain arrived on time and I heard the now-familiar pitter-patter of it on our skylights and metal roof. I had been anticipating it all summer and wondered how the rain would sound, especially at night when it’s time to sleep. Listening that night, I thought about permanence and entropy. Try as we might to establish wetlands, gardens, and homes to be permanent, the universe eventually has its way with human projects.

But I didn’t want to think too deeply about that while sitting in a new house. To me, Flattop is permanent. It will be here longer than me and in between, all the things that we see, hear, and do, are permanent parts of our lives. The sound of rain on the roof was one of them; a bit of gentle percussion on a permanent drum that’s perfect for sleeping.

Bonus:

My friend Justin Cox is a talented musician that performs under the name Routine Layup. He lives on Orcas and wrote a song that might just get stuck in your head. Not Everyone Has to be a Permaculture Gardener. Listen below:

We’ve Got Worms 🪱 – How to Subpod

We’ve Got Worms 🪱 – How to Subpod

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

You’ve probably heard, but worm poop is worth its weight in gold. At least that’s how it seems. The “castings”, as they are called, make for amazing garden fertilizer that you can buy. As we’ve discovered recently, you can also make it yourself, or run your own little worm farm/production facility.

When we lived in Seattle, the city encouraged composting on a city-wide scale. Along with garbage and mixed recycling, we had a yard waste container that was picked up every two weeks. We were supposed to put compostable food in the container with plants and leaves. In fact, we could be fined for not doing so. 

We kept a little bucket under the kitchen sink with a compostable bag. When making dinner, food scraps went into the bucket and eventually into the yard waste container. When we first started composting, it seemed like a time-consuming extra step, but over time it made sense. Along with helping the city turn food waste into compost instead of it going to the landfill, our normal trash stayed relatively clean and less odorous.

Then, we moved to an island. In our location, trash trucks do not arrive to cart away trash, recycling, or yard/food waste. Like so many other things, we must do it ourselves and feel motivated to make it as easy as possible. Trash and recycling are easy and much more affordable than in the city. Every six weeks or so, we load up a vehicle and go to the transfer station. 

Food waste is another matter. The island waste company is in the planning stages for a facility that processes compost where residents can drop off food and yard waste along with the trash. As always, the goal is to keep materials on the island instead of having to pay to remove it by ferry. 

In moving into the new house, we needed to develop a system for our food waste. We consistently cook at home and produce a good bit of the stuff. Sachi started looking into what we could do and learned about vermiculture or vermicomposting, which means using worms to process food waste and turn it into fertilizer.

The idea is pretty simple: You put thousands of earthworms, like red wigglers, into an outdoor container with food waste. The worms eat the food and turn it into gold in the form of castings. That’s the beauty of this system. It converts waste into fertilizer for the next round of crops. Win-win!

Sachi researched how to make it easier and discovered a system called Subpod. This is a milk crate type of box with two bays for the food waste and walls with worm-sized holes.

You place the box in a raised bed with the majority of the box under the surface.

Then, you add worms, shredded paper, and food waste to the box, which becomes a buffet for the worms. The rest of the bed can be used to grow food.

Back when we built raised beds, we built one specifically for composting and sized it for two Subpods, just in case. Then, we ordered the Subpod and the worms. A few days later 2,000 red wiggler worms arrived in a bag from the perfectly named Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. We were in business.

They can come and go as they please in the surrounding soil and are likely to reproduce. Over time, the food waste turns into rich soil that can be transferred into a vegetable garden.

A lot of people build their own compost bins and they usually work great, but come with some issues. The food waste can attract pests and rodents, there can be unsavory odors and overall messiness. The Subpod mitigates the issues because it’s sitting in soil, with a cover.  

Now that the system is rolling, we collect food waste in a small bucket under the sink, grab the coffee grounds and tear up some carbon-filled egg cartons or paper, and take them to the Subpod every couple of days. The composting process required aeration, so Subpod gave us a giant screw to mix it up and an insulating blanket to keep the compost covered so it keeps temperature and doesn’t dry out. Other than that, we just wait. 

The instructions/rules for using the Subpod are handily placed on the underside of the bin:

When we give people a tour of our property, I often ask if they want to see our worm farm. And we are growing worms, but really, it’s a processing plant that processes plants. 

Livability and Laundry 🏡 🧺

Livability and Laundry 🏡 🧺

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

The idea of helping homeowners understand the construction process has been on my mind for about a year. As I wrote chapter after chapter, I was looking for some kind of unifying theme. While the explanations, tips, and advice are enough, I wanted to give homeowners a perspective or even a philosophy that helped them see the big picture. I imagined finding a name that was memorable, descriptive, interesting, and hopefully available as a domain name.

Sachi’s early input was to be very direct and focus on the problem it solves or the main value it provides. I agreed and started to look at options involving phrases like “how to build a custom home”, “understand the construction process” and “learn how custom homes are built”. It was at this moment that the challenge became clear. 

Home construction is a huge industry with well-established keywords and naming conventions. Virtually anything on the web involving “home construction” seemed to be dominated by much bigger, well-established brands that spend a lot of money to remain visible. Were we going to compete with them? No.

Even at a smaller scale, there are a wide variety of companies and individuals focused on modular homes, tiny homes, DIY cabins, campervan build-outs, etc. It was daunting to consider throwing something new into the mix.

We need to reach people who are planning to build a home or getting started. I know the feeling. The scale of the project and all the decisions that need to be made can feel overwhelming. Many of them are looking for tips and advice, but are unsure where to look. These are the people we need to reach.

I went back to the drawing board and we brainstormed ways to position this new resource. What could we call it? We asked: what is our philosophy? What do we believe about building a home? What’s unique about our perspective? 

These questions led us into familiar territory. Big Enough, at heart, is about lifestyle. I wrote it to help business-oriented people see a different perspective about building a business that supports their lifestyle. Whether it’s businesses or buildings, lifestyle is a big part of our perspective and something we value deeply. 

One of the amazing things about building a custom home is that it can be built to support the owner’s lifestyle. With a bit of planning, the owner can ensure that the house supports their day-to-day lives. A very simple example is laundry. It happens in virtually every house and a custom home is an opportunity to think about making it easy. This means thinking about where dirty clothes will collect and designing the house so that laundry is near the clothes. 

When we planned Flattop, these kinds of decisions were our focus. Our experience with other construction projects helped us think through all the details and work with the pros to build the house around our lives. To me, that’s the best-case scenario for any owner: a house that’s livable.

For example, our primary bathroom shares a wall with the laundry room and we saw an opportunity to add a laundry chute between the rooms. This way, dirty clothes never collect in the bedroom or bathroom. Instead, they can go straight to the laundry room. 

The idea of livability stuck with us. You can depend on builders and architects to make the house strong and beautiful. The pros will take care of building the house. But designing it to be livable is the domain of the homeowner. Only the owner knows their unique lifestyle and daily rituals. Only the owner will live in the house.

This idea had legs. Our brand could reference houses and construction, but carve out a niche around the idea of livability and encouraging homeowners to adopt it as a perspective in the design and building process. This means not only understanding every phase of the construction process, but doing within the theme of livability. 

I started to look for domain names and soon found that thelivablehouse.com was available. The Livable House. I liked the sound of it and so did Sachi. My only concern is that it’s not descriptive. The name does not imply that it’s a guide to the complete construction process, but that’s okay. I think of it like the popular cookbooks called The Joy of Cooking. The books are mostly recipes, but the theme is joy. 

So that’s what the new project is called: The Livable House. It can be found at thelivablehouse.com. I’d love to know what you think about the website. Please feel free to enroll in the mini-course. 

Boat Creep 🛥 🔭

Boat Creep 🛥 🔭

The post below was sent as an issue of my newsletter, Ready for Rain.

A few weeks back, I shared a story called Lee Night that was, in part, about spending an evening watching boats go by our house. I wrote:

As boats float by the house, I can’t help but feel like I’m the creepy guy on the beach watching girls walk by. Every boat is different and interesting in myriad ways.

Now that Labor Day has passed and boating season is winding down, I’m taking an inventory of the interesting boats I’ve seen over the summer. After Lee Night, I admit I became a full-on boat creep, watching from my deck as they float by, unaware of my peering lens. I collected a tiny fraction of what passed, but still captured an interesting group of boats.

Tourist Boats

This summer saw heavy traffic from boats full of tourists, usually going to watch whales. The “whaleboats” as we call them are always noticeable because of their size and speed. Few recreational boaters choose to burn as much fuel.

One that always stands out is Blackfish (which is an old name for killer whales).

Blackfish boat

Another is the Western Explorer.

Western Explorer

Sometimes the whales end up in the water in front of our house and the big whaleboats show up.

whale boats

If you crop a photo just right, you can pretend that a friendly sailboat is the only boat watching the killer whales.

sailboat and whales

Tourists are also ferried around on other boats that are more focused on destinations. This is the Puget Sound Express.

boat on salish sea
san juan safaris boat

Commercial Boats

The Salish Sea is a commercial waterway used by all kinds of boats, both local and international. In the distance, there are almost always huge ships traveling in Canadian waters to Canada.

ship on salish sea

We don’t see these behemoths in US waters our side of Orcas Island, but we see many barges and other large boats used for transporting items to the islands that don’t have ferry service.

barge with truck

You find the strangest things on barges. That’s a two-story house.

house on barge

Lindsey Foss is a fire-fighting vessel.

lindsey Foss

A local service will tow you if your boat has a problem.

Tow US

An sometimes a Canadian Warship goes by.

canadian battleship

Recreational/Private Boats

The vast majority of boats that pass our house are recreational or privately owned. Cabin cruisers are a dime a dozen, but sometimes more impressive boats pass by.

M/V Pelican is a 1930 78ft Classic wooden fisheries research vessel that recently started doing charters.

Pelican Salish Sea

Our friends Mahol and Deb live on this 65′ boat called Salish Song. Yes, that’s a lovely palm tree adorning their rear deck.

Salish Song

New Pacific is a 97′ expedition yacht that was recently refitted to have a 60kwh hybrid energy system that reduces the use of the boat’s generators.

new pacific
boat on salish sea

Other

This caravel style sailboat is one of the biggest we’ve seen.

big sailboat

Like cabin cruisers, sailboats are very common in all shapes and sizes.

sailboat on salish sea

And of course, small crafts like kayaks. Sea kayaking is one of the most popular activities in the San Juans. Jet Skis are prohibited, thankfully.

kayakers

Not a boat. Or is it?

Float Plane

I’ll miss boating season and being on the lookout for interesting boats. They’ll be back before we know it.