Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gene Hopper 1927-2010

Gene Allen Hopper, 83 of Tampa died at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, December 18, 2010 at Arden Courts Assisted Living.  He was born December 5, 1927 in Windfall, Indiana of Guy and Bertha Hopper.

He is survived by his brother James Hopper, North Carolina; a sister Caroline Stevens, Kokomo, Indiana; and a son Michael Hopper, Tampa, Florida.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Norma Hopper 1930-2010

Norma June Hopper, 80 of Tipton died at 8:15 a.m. Friday, December 3, 2010 at Miller's Merry Manor.  She was born October 18, 1930 in Tipton to Edward & Nora (Smelser) Doversberger.  She had lived in Brookville, Indiana most of her adult life, returning to Tipton five years ago.

Norma worked as a legal secretary for attorney Roger Smith of Brookville. She was a 1947 graduate of Tipton High School and graduated with honors from Indiana University East with a Liberal Arts degree.  She was a member of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Tipton and formerly St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Brookville.
Norma had been active in all areas of Brookville community life and received the Sagamore of the Wabash from Governor Robert D. Orr.

She is survived by one son, Michael Hopper, Tampa, Florida; a half-sister, Hermine Bauchle, Southport; two sister-in-laws, Maxine Doversberger, Tipton and Helen Doversberger, Columbus, Ohio.  She was preceded in death by two brothers, Gene E. Doversberger and V. Charles Doversberger.
Norma's funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. Monday, December 6 at the Emanuel Lutheran Church, 1385 S. Main Street, Tipton, with Rev. Robb Roloff presiding.  Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery, Tipton. Visitation will be from 2:00 - 5:00 p.m. Sunday at Young-Nichols Funeral Home, Tipton and from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Monday at the church.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Old St. John's Lutheran Church c/o Emanual Lutheran Church or to the charity of the donor's choice.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Horizon is growing - from a 35' Rafiki sloop into a 41' Morgan 415 Out Island ketch!  A lot has happened the past few months but the bottom line is our previous Horizon has been sold and her new owner is excitedly restoring her to respectable liveaboard/cruiser status.  That sale was a good thing for Cate and I because Horizon carried quite a bit of emotional baggage from her 23 year history with me; with a new boat comes the promise of freshly new memories.

One basic criteria for a replacement boat was to have enough room to fit lots and lots of shoes and the search quickly narrowed to a ketch or yawl in the 40-45 foot range.  I wanted a ketch or yawl because the mainsail tends to be smaller and is less likely to be too unwieldy for a not-as-spry-as-we-once-were crew.  Shorter than 40' would not have the second stateroom we wanted, and longer than 45 feet the boat starts to be more difficult for 2 people to handle easily.

My first choice in that range was a 42' Westsail ketch but there appear to only be two of them on the US east coast and they had both just been sold by the time I started looking.  There was also a yawl, purported to be Walter Cronkite's Westsail, but that needed far more restorative work than we were prepared to do.  What endeared me to that specific style boat was the walk-in engine room with workbench!

Our search led through a series of lower priced used boats until we zeroed in on the Morgan OI ketch series.  Inside, they have two staterooms each with head, a roomy main salon, and a large though only crouch height engine room.  The exterior is fairly bland with center cockpit and large flat decks with only a toe rail - I sure will miss the 6" gunwales the Rafiki had.  Built here in Clearwater Florida for the charter trade, Morgan boats used simple construction and were designed for easy and low maintenance; there are no tricky special systems like V-drives or centerboards, and accessibility to most all components is excellent.  The OI 41's are shoal draft, drawing only 4'6", making it easier for island hopping.

The one we are buying (the deal is not yet closed) was built in 1979 and shows a general lack of upkeep.  We have quite a list of work to do once financing is in place but she is definitely curb appeal challenged.  The hull has a couple dock rashes and the shear and coach stripes are mere faded suggestions of their former selves so new hull paint is at the top of her required todo list.  Luckily I found an excellent painter through coworkers.  Now, will we have the stripe painted AwlGrip International Orange or Toreador Red?

At the survey haul we found the cutlass bearing, intermediate shaft bearing, and shaft log hose all needed to be replaced.  I will add a new prop shaft to replace the pitted and rusted one and we will have a whole new drive train.  Her Perkins M60 was installed in 1995 and runs like a top so that shouldn't need special care but we will have to replace the exhaust hose and do other plumbing and engine room sprucing up.  We are not going to worry yet about the inop genset or the forward stateroom A/C unit, at least the aft A/C unit works fine and can cool most all the living area.

To those immediate and major cost drivers, we will shortly be adding "niceties" including a Raritan PHEII head and Electro-san for push button convenience, and a mast head wind instrument. 

Okay, that is as much as I can type out now.  More later as the purchase progresses.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Two years, two months, two weeks

That is about how long it has been since my last cigarette.  It was the waning days of 2007, a cold rainy December afternoon in Northern Maryland.  A stressful moment, and a quick hunt in a coat I had not worn in a while yielded an old pack; it had been 2 weeks since the one before that and I remember coughing. 

The battle has been decades long, filled with false starts, false stops, and false hopes.  That specific time I had been over a year on Nicoderm patches . . . and still sneaking a few smokes most days.  Not the healthiest of endeavors.  By the time I got back from Maryland I knew it was finally my time.  I peeled off the last patch and said goodbye to the friend that had been with me since age 15, a friend that was always there, always ready to console, a most deadly friend.

I will carry reminders of that for the rest of my life, my lungs especially, poor things.  One outwardly obvious result of quitting is a 25 pound bouncing nicotine baby in a brand spanking new gut.  A few months ago I started using, a free "all things food and diet" site that helps me count calories (or weight watcher points), monitor trends, and set goals.  Between that and time at the gym the past couple months, the tide seems to be turning.  I hope I did not wait too long to quit.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cat House

The new cat house arrived this evening and us humans had lots of help assembling it.  Within minutes they were exploring top to bottom.  No one has tried the swing yet but the hammock has been initiated.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Life in an eclectic neighborhood

Last night, or rather this morning at 1:12 to be exact, I was awakened by voices just outside the bedroom window that faces my back yard.  There were two deeper male voices and several, maybe 6 or 7, young kids voices.  I could see flashlights and hear the voices but couldn't quite make out what they were saying.  The kittens were by that point hunkered down somewhere, probably under the bed.

I dialed 911 to report the invasion and gave them my address.  They said they would send someone out.  I was nervous enough to stay low as I watched the flashlight beams play across the ceilings and walls as the people moved about in my back and side yards.  They would group, then split up and go all around the house and yard, then group again. I felt under siege and wondered if the security doors would hold up.

After maybe 10 minutes, the entourage seemed to move off down the street and I started to relax a bit.  Then at 1:36 the cops called back to say the two men were undercover cops who were looking for someone.  I asked why, if they were cops, that they were taking along a half dozen kids during their search, but got no reply.

I think I managed to fall back asleep about 5.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Milestone

Don't you love metrics?  LOL  Ever since Freedom Day, Oliver has remained aloof and has been virtually untouchable.  Rose, on the other hand, has been quite the attention hog and demands a fair amount of loving from her humans.  But maybe because she was the runt and had to do so much for herself, she has problems sharing.

Over the past few weeks Oliver has watched his sister getting all the good pets.  While his purrs start almost the same instant Rose's do, he always stays more than an arm's length away.  Any time he has unknowingly strayed too close and we do reach out to him, he scrambles away and hides.

Recently Oliver has been getting much closer to us, but he still runs when we try to consummate a feline-human connection.  When laying on the couch, for example, he has a few times tucked himself up behind a bent knee.  Well, he has until Rose sees him close to "her human" and runs him off.

Last night, though, they both climbed (clawed) in bed and Oliver actually butted his nose against my hand!  When he did it again I woke enough to realize what happened and slowly moved to brush my fingers against his back.  He stiffened for a second, then turned the purr machine on full and a moment later had tucked himself up under my chin!  We didn't stay that way very long before Rose came galloping around to run off the interloper, but it is a start.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Found 'em!

This evening we couldn't find the kittens.  Searched the house top to bottom and then again. Called their names but didn't hear a peep in return. So we went to the gym to give them a chance to consider life without the rest of their pack around.  After we got back Cate opened a drawer then started giggling.

The picture shows where they had been hiding, in a closed drawer in the night stand!  The little guys had crawled under the front edge then up between the drawers and the side to lay down in the top drawer.  Quite an impressive feat for the critters!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


(Last updated January 25, 2010)

Cate and I are cat people. The last cat I had was Pumpkin, an orange (obviously) DSH, who sailed from San Francisco to Tampa on Horizon. He went to what passes for kitty nautical heaven in 2004. Cate had a cat named Checkers, a calico DSH who was 17 years old and had helped Cate raise 3 kids. Checkers developed spinal problems and passed on in November 2009.

During Checker's final days, we noticed a feral cat with a litter of tiny kittens seemed to have adopted the back yard. Being suckers, we decided to help momma out and began leaving out food and water for her. Momma quickly got the hint and would come by several times a day with brood in tow to fill up her belly before nursing the little ones. Soon the kittens would help themselves to any food momma left. Momma is a small calico with bright green eyes, shy around humans but more than willing to share space so long as they stay at least 10 feet away. There are 5 kittens: 3 orange, a black runt, and a longer haired calico I called fluffy because her mane looked so much like a lion's.

The feral cat population in the neighborhood is huge. We decided to be proactive and catch momma cat and as many of her brood as we could and have them spay/neutered. The kittens looked so cute that we also decided we would try to adopt a couple of them.

Saturday January 2nd 2010 - We went to Animal Coalition of Tampa (ACT) and picked up four traps in the early morning. We baited the traps and set them out. Within an hour we had momma cat . . . but she was not happy . . . I think you could say she was spitting mad! We took her in and leaving her in the trap, gave her food and water. Over the next several hours we caught 2 big orange tom cats and a smaller female that looked to be someone's pet, but released them all because we had hopes of getting kittens.

By the end of the first day we had 3 kittens in two more traps. There were two orange kittens and the black runt. Oddly, the runt and one orange kitten were caught in the same trap! The only ones we had not caught were the last orange and my favorite, fluffy.

The next day we tried again but had no luck. Our house must have become known in cat circles as the death cat house and we did not even see a cat, let alone catch any.

Monday January 4th - We got the cats to ACT early in the morning and picked them up that afternoon. We decided to try to tame and keep the two kittens that were caught in the same trap. On the paperwork we named them Duff and Blathers after the two inept cops in the story Oliver Twist. After the vet kindly sexed them for us, we substituted new names; the black runt is now Rose and her orange companion is Oliver. We set up those kittens in the closet with a pet carrier for a lair, a litter box, and food and water bowls. Momma and the single orange kitten were left in their traps. The orange kitten soon acquired the name Boca, which means mouth in Spanish, because of his vocal demonstrations of resentment of captivity! How such a tiny body can generate such a huge warbling sound is impressive! The nice folks at ACT told us to keep the cats at least overnight before letting them loose to help them recover from surgery. A cold wave hit Florida about then so we decided to keep them for an extra night so they could heal more before facing the cold.

Wednesday January 6th - Momma cat and Boca were set free to make their way in the wilderness world of my back yard. Hey! We do have possums and raccoons 'round here! LOL

Within hours the remainder of the brood was once again establishing its presence in the back yard.  Even the two kittens that were uncaptured reappeared for their reunion with momma.  But none of them would come anywhere near the back porch for food we left for them.  We will see if they overcome their trepidation later.

Kittens week two

Tuesday January 12th - Momma cat and Boca have been free for 5 days and last night they finally returned to our porch for a hand-out!  It has been extremely cold and we figure momma needed some quality time to heal.  When they showed up, momma bellied up to the food bowl while Boca frolicked and rolled in the yard just outside.  They looked so cute!  Fluffy has also reappeared and has been supplementing her meals at our house for the past couple days.  We are debating keeping a trap for her (him?), but for now we are kind of overwhelmed by this wild game trapping experience.

Rose and Oliver are doing great!  Cate's son Eoin has recent experience in dealing with feral kittens so we are relying on him heavily.  He helped us set up a cage habitat for them in the living room where they can feel safe but can start to integrate with the indigenous human pack.

Last night Cate and I held the two kittens but carefully wrapped in towels.  Neither kitten seemed to mind a human finger rubbing the back of the neck so we feel better about the process.  We still want to just pick them up and hug and pet them, but it is too early in the taming process.  Oliver has begun to express himself a bit more vocally.  Rose is content to use him as the front kitten and seems purrfectly content to let him take the brunt of any attack while she sits behind and waits an opening.  Females can be sly :)

We intend to take the kittens out at least once each day but have to resist the urge for direct contact until we know they will be comfortable being petted.

More as we progress.

Kittens week three

Tuesday January 19th - We wanted to post some more pictures before we got too far along:

Rose, of course, is the black kitty.  Oliver has become a little more camera shy.

Then there is fluffy, the one that "got away" and missed the fun of being neutered!

We will probably let Rose and Oliver out of the cage this evening and see what happens.  Fingers and toes crossed!

We did get them out for a spin around the place.  Rose is going to be a real lap kitty I think.  I didn't use the towel this time, just reached in and plucked her out of the cage.  She seemed very content in my lap and her paws even started kneading slightly while I petted her.  I am still not sure if the purring was a content purr or stress purr. We have been told they sound the same but for me, the kneading makes me think she is happy.

Oliver, however, I kept in a towel while petting the back of his neck.  A couple minutes into it though he decided to bolt.  This time we didn't give chase, just let him hide behind the TV.  I put out some of the wet kitten food they love and a few minutes later he came creeping out to loot the treasure.  Shortly he decided to explore a little.  He started with the bathroom but within a minute we heard soft mews; he was in the tub and was too short to get out!  Rescued with a towel and that was it for his outside romp for the night.

Free at last!

Thursday January 21st - Rose and Oliver McHop are free to roam the house at will! We rearranged things and tried to kitten-proof as much as possible, closed all the bedroom doors then opened their cage door. About 10 minutes later a very timid but inquisitive Rose ventured out into their new realm and started exploring.  Oliver, still the shy one, waited quite a while before starting his own investigation.

It is now two days later and the two little fellas are still pretty squirelly.  When a door opens they head for the hills (under the nearest bed or behind the couch), but they soon reappear.

Rose has turned into a real attention hog.  She walks right up and turns on the purr machine and leaves no question that she wants a good petting!

Oliver remains a bit aloof.  He purrs quickly but is still very shy of being touched.  He also is the first to run away and the last to return.

This is still very early days but we think the new additions are going to work out just fine.

Hey!  I think someone here is getting a little too comfortable!

Actually, she has taken to sleeping with us at the foot of the bed. :)