Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I never tire of critters

Sometimes I think I have an abnormal fascination with animals.  I seem to "connect" with them.  Pamela calls me Dr. Doolittle because of the quick rapport I develop with animals.   Well, most animals, anyway.   I talk to them, and while I know they don't understand what I'm saying, I think the tone in my voice conveys to them that I'm friendly.

The other day, I was outside and Canada Geese were once again frozen in the ice, as I've blogged about before.

A little later, when the ice melted, one was paddling by and I called him over to the boat.  He was more obedient than Ruby.   Of course, he most likely thought I was going to feed him, which I did not.   It's said that it's not good to feed waterfowl because it attracts them and then they poop in the water.  I wonder where they poop normally?

I've seen an Osprey hanging around lately.  The other day he was being chased off by flocks of Seagulls.   When I got home from work tonight, he was perched on the top of a mast of a Catalina 22 that showed up at the yacht club next to the marina.

He was motionless, and at first I thought he was one of those plastic owls people put around their boats to scare off birds (birds poop on boats when they don't feel like pooping in the water).  He's a big boy.   I set the digital camera on the stern rail to help stabilize it and zoomed in all the way, knowing that the low light would mean a fuzzy pic.   Out of the several I took, this one is the best.

 As soon as I turned the camera off, the Osprey spread his wings and flew off.   Rats.   THAT would have been a nice pic.   Maybe I can catch him in daylight someday and get a better photo by calling him over to the boat and asking him to pose.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I swear this is true

I know no one is going to believe this, but it happened.  Wait for it.

Today was a beautiful day for boat projects, sunny and 45 degrees or so.   The first one was the hatch on the foredeck.  This old boat has a few leaks and this was one of them. 

A phillips bit on my power drill and a hammer and pry bar and I had it off in ten minutes.  I used a good scraper to peel off the old silicone that I put on there last year when I did this same job.   Not good enough, I guess, because it still leaked.

This time, I was very liberal with the silicone.   When I screwed it back down, I didn't screw it down tightly.   I left a turn or two of each screw so that when the silicone set up, I could tighten it down without squeezing it all out.

Next up, the prism.   Basically, the same deal here.  Take out the screws, pry it up, and scrape off the silicone I put on there last year when I didn't fix it right.

Then apply a heavy dose of silicone, and lightly screw the prism back down.

I hear Pam holler that Chevy was off the boat and off the docks and standing on the rock wall.  How did he get past the locked gate at the head of the ramp??  It was low tide, and I'm thinking that maybe he jumped off the dock and climbed the rock wall.   The only other thing he could do would be to crawl under the gate, which has a space of about a foot, and Chevy is a 72 pound big headed pit bull.  Pam retrieved the dog, put him back on the boat, and decided to go grocery shopping.

Next up for me, the washer.   Our boat has a washer and dryer under the bench seat in the helm station.   They both worked (much to our surprise after sitting unused for 20 years or more), but the washer only had hot water, no cold, so Pam has been going to the laundromat.   I used to go with her to help her, but she decided that I was more in the way than a help.  

I emptied all the live aboard junk that accumulates on a large flat area like the bench and lifted the lid.  Yep, there they were.  The dryer (on the left under the charts), the washer, and to the right, the ice maker.

Looking behind the washer with a flashlight, I could just barely make out that there were two water hoses attached.  I could see no way of getting behind the washer without dismantling the bench seat, and that wasn't happening.   I decided to try to find the water lines that went to the washer, and the logical place to look was under the sink in the galley.   First, I had to spend ten minutes unloading all the stuff we store under the sink, and then crawl in there with a flashlight, looking for pipes or hoses.  I saw the hot water pipe running through the bulkhead, but where was the cold water?   Did it simply come up from the engine room to the washer?   Well, after poking around in there, I lifted a floor board  up and there it was, a copper cold water pipe AND a shut off.  Which was shut off.   Time for a victory beer!  

I got the beer and sat on the foredeck with Ruby and...  where's Chevy?  He was outside just a few minutes ago.  I walk around the deck.  No dog.   I walk out on the dock.  No dog.   I go up on shore and call his name several times.  No dog.   I walk around some boats on the hard where he likes to play.  No dog.   I go up to the parking lot.  No dog.   Then, I see him, at the opposite end of the marina, running towards me like crazy.  Apparently, he decided I might be angry, which I was, and he thought he should beat feet.  

Now, here comes the unbelievable part.  Pam comes home and we decide to sit on the foredeck and enjoy a beer and sunshine while waiting for silicone to set up, and we notice a Canada Goose fight.   Apparently, two males are fighting over a female.  One large male is definitely kicking the smaller one's butt and the smaller one is trying desperately to get away, but the larger one is all over him.   Suddenly, the small one dives underwater, just like a Merganser!   Completely, totally underwater, and he's gone.  The large one is flapping his wings and squawking his head off as the smaller one pops back up.  The large one is right on him and the small one dives again!   This time, he gives the large goose the slip and pops up by shore where he scampers up into the rocks to hide.   The large goose paddles off towards the city marina, looking for the small goose.   Meanwhile, the female decides to head over to shore and is right up close to the small goose.   The small goose has his opportunity now that the large goose is not nearby, but after the whooping he took, decided to stay in the rocks.

I ran inside and got my camera, hoping for a repeat ass whooping, diving performance, but it didn't happen.  You can see the female standing on a rock in the middle of the photo, and if you look carefully to the right and up a little, you can see the little male peeking up from his hiding place.

I told Pam that no one is going to believe that we saw a plump, feathery Canada Goose dive underwater, but I swear, we did.  Really.

As live aboards, we spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying the sunshine and the waterfowl.   We saw dozens of seagulls chasing an Osprey away from their territory and other interesting things.  We stayed out until the sun dropped and we were in shadows.    I was the designated cook and fixed up some Jamaican Jerk Chicken, with horseradish laced mashed potatoes and peas.   Mmmmmmm...

All in all, a productive day.

And that Canada Goose dove underwater.   He did.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Go Ahead, Chuckle

I know Spring is supposed to be here.   According to the calendar, it's already Spring, and this morning on TV I see that the cherry trees are in bloom in Washington DC.  Here in Connecticut, there are tiny buds on the trees and I've seen Robins.   It's cold here though, only 35 degrees as I write this.  Looking out the windows, I see ice on the water, a sure sign that it was in the mid-twenties last night.

As a 40 year lake sailor, I'm still fascinated by tides, which run seven or eight feet here.   The water goes up and down twice a day, covering and uncovering whatever is on the bottom.   When a skim of ice forms and the water drops, the ice covers everything like a layer of cake frosting.

The forecast today is to get up to around 40 degrees.   So all you loopers and cruisers in Florida, the Bahamas, and Caribbean... stay put,  or take your time wandering back north.  It's still hat and gloves weather here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go ahead, laugh!

Yesterday, I wrote about the light snow we got here in Connecticut.  Well, this is what greeted me this morning.

Yep, it's snow.  All over everything.   So, for you Loopers and Cruisers down in Florida, the Bahamas, the Windward Islands, and other warm climes, these photos are for you.   Go ahead, laugh.  

You wait... someday soon, Pam and I will be down there, and you'll be up here.   And I fully expect you to post photos.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Go Ahead, Smile

I've been posting about how nice the Spring weather has been here in Connecticut, which no doubt annoyed all our friends back in upstate New York where the weather has been nasty.   This is for you, taken this morning...

I know it's hard to see in the pic, but it's lightly snowing.  It's also only 35 degrees.  In New Jersey, just west of here, some places have gotten several inches already, and it's heading this way.  I know it doesn't sound like much to our NY friends, where they measure snow in feet, but here in the metro NY area, a mere six inches can be paralyzing.  Businesses close, and all the Caribbean immigrants drive 5 MPH on the interstates.

Several people who follow this blog are "loopers" or are simply cruising on their boats in warmer climes.  This is also for you.    Yeah, go ahead.   Smile.   You earned it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ruby's Happy Dance

I've posted quite a bit about our two dogs, Ruby and Chevy.   Both are pit bull mixes, and both are wonderful, happy, friendly dogs.   Ruby can be a little too happy.

Last night, Pam took both dogs off the boat to do their business.  Getting back on the boat, I heard Pam laughing hysterically.  Finally catching her breath, she told me the story.  Coming down the ramp, Chevy high-tailed it to the boat, but Ruby decided it was time to do her "happy dance".   Ruby's happy dance consists of bouncing up and down, prancing and wagging not only her tail but her whole butt.  Well, she started the happy dance, and got happier and happier.   She bounced backwards and forwards, backwards and backwards, and forward, and backwards and backwards and backwards until she was out of dock.   SPLASH! 

Ruby loves to swim, but I don't believe she likes to do it without warning.   She seemed none the worse for it, though.  Perhaps just a bit chagrined.

Today, I was looking forward to the second coat of paint on the windlass.   I need 50 degrees to paint according to the directions on the can and it was 45.  Close enough! 

Considering how bad it looked, I think it came out alright.   The paint on the gypsy and capstan was from a previous paint job.

Since it was so rusty, I painted it with Rustoleum.  Amazing stuff.   when I paint the inside of the gunnell with Interlux Perfection, I'll paint the windlass too so it matches.   I, of course, celebrated finishing that project with a special work-project-finished beer. 

I went to the Ideal Windlass website.  A replacement for that windlass is $7,700.  YIKES!   I then had a second I-just-saved-myself-big-bucks beer.   I would have done a happy dance, but thought better of it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Painting the Windlass

I love Spring and warm sunny days, especially on the weekend.  Of course, that also means boat projects and the "honey do" list.   I imagine that honey do lists are a bit different for live  aboards than for dirt dwellers. 

I'll bet that "get rid of Whaler" and "paint windlass" aren't on most lists.

I fixed the hot water handle on the galley faucet.  It was squeaking.  This was a very exhausting project and involved removing a set screw, removing the handle, and cleaning the gunk out of the valve, and then putting the handle back on.   There's five minutes of my life that I'll never get back. 

I took the dogs to the dog park.  The dogs were very disappointed.  All the dogs there were of the little lap variety, and no one to wrestle with.   So, we did two laps around the twenty acre park, and then Dexter the six month old American Bulldog showed up, so all was good again.   Later, back at the boat, I decided to attack the windlass project.  I know, you're thinking "how does he find the energy to do this, especially after the faucet project?"   Well, all I can say is that you have to do what you have to do.  

Amazingly, the windlass works, but it looks nasty.

I guess if I sat outdoors for thirty years, I'd look pretty nasty too. 

I spent about an hour with a scraper and a wire brush getting all the rust off, and then masked it with blue tape.   I managed to get one coat of Rustoleum on it, and I'll do another coat tomorrow.  

I used a satin finish white.  One of my upcoming projects is to finish painting the boat, including the inside of the gunnell.  When I do that, I'll hit the windlass again so it matches the boat and has a nice glossy finish.

I celebrated completing one boat project (the faucet) and beginning another with a work beer.  

By the way, have you ever noticed that when you wear old clothes to paint in, you don't spill a drop?  But wear good clothes and the paint seems to jump right out of the can on you.

Pam went to the store, and when she returned she had bought a bag of mussels.   $2.99 for a HUGE bag.   It was good eating!

We ate out on the foredeck where the mussel shells could be tossed overboard.  The sun and warm 50 plus degree weather was delightful.   The dogs watched us eat with great interest so we fed them a few mussells.  They actually ate them.  Dogs will eat anything.  As soon as the sun dipped behind the office building next to the marina, it got very chilly so we beat feet inside.

Life on the boat continues to be good.  Very, very good.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Victory Beer!

I knew it was going to be a good day when I awoke to this sunrise.

My mood tends to follow the weather.  I thought this sunrise was so nice I even left the crane barge in it.  I think it adds something to the composition.   Anyway, after a shower and breakfast, I got these loads off the couch.  Who wants to go to the dog park?

That got them to at least open their eyes.   I stayed at the park for a good hour and a half.   They played with all their doggie friends, although Ruby has been kind of mopey since Pam left for Texas and didn't have her usual spunk.  She really misses her mom!

After the park, I stopped by work which is in the marina next to the park.  I had put the seized up hoist motor in the truck (see yesterday's blog) the day before thinking I might have one of the guys look at it, but I was feeling good about today.  I took it to the shop workbench and put the shaft in the vice.  I grabbed the motor and turned for all I was worth.  The shaft slipped in the vice.  I cranked down harder on the vice and turned the motor again.  Again, the shaft slipped in the vice.   I REALLY cranked down on the vice and gave it one more shot.  The shaft slipped a little, but... did the motor turn a bit more?   Suddenly, the motor gave way and it spun easily!   It's free!  Or broken, in which case it's $400 for a replacement motor.   I took it out of the vice and plugged it in and hit the "run" button.   I spun!   It spun so good it spun right off the workbench.  Luckily, I had a good grip on the control box and so I kept it from hitting the floor.

I got back to the truck and drove back to the boat.   I reinstalled the motor and the gearbox cover plate, plugged it in, and hit the run button.  Down the cable came.  I switched it to the "in" position and hit run, and it picked up the cable.  YES!  It works!   I put some motor oil in the gearbox to check for leaks and had none.   This is a two-fer! 

Since I was on a roll, I also decided to start both of Drift Away's engines.   I had tried a month or so ago and got the starboard engine to fire, but the port would not.   Today, the port cranked for quite awhile but finally caught.  The starboard engine started easily, as it always does.  So it looks like we can actually use our floating house as a boat this season and make a few trips. 

And that, my friend, is what I call a good day, and worthy of a victory beer.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Today was boat project day.  Pam is still in Texas for her son's graduation from Air Force Basic Military Training.  She called last night, and eventually asked what my plans were for Saturday.

"Maybe I'll take the electric motor off the hoist so I can see why it doesn't work", said I.   I had tried to work the hoist last year but all the motor did was hum.  Either the motor is seized up real good, or the gearbox is jammed.

"Uh huh" said Pam.

"What??"  protested I.

"You've been saying that for weeks!" said Pam.

She was right.  I had been talking about working on the hoist since February.  I want to get the Whaler off the roof so I can sell it, and use the hoist to get the BBQ off the aft deck along with the cabinet it's bolted to.   "Well, the weather had either been too nasty to do it, or too nice to waste it on boat projects" whined I.

"Yeah OK" said Pam, a bit condescendingly, I thought.  Seven times is the rule.  I need to say I'm going to do something, or be nagged seven times before I actually do it.  I'd only said I'd work on the hoist what, maybe five times? 

So Saturday morning I get up, and after breakfast etc. take the dogs to the great dog park in Norwalk, where the dogs spent a few hours playing and getting suitably tired out so as to nap all afternoon.   Back at the boat after lunch.  What to do?  I guess I should tackle the electric hoist on the roof, the one used to lift the 13 foot Boston Whaler.  I'll show Pam.  So up I go, tool box in hand.

13 foot Boston Whalers are not only good boats, but make good storage boxes too.

I examine the motor.  It's held on with a half dozen hex bolts.  I remove them and try to pull the motor off.  It won't come.  Something inside the gearbox is stopping it.  I have to remove the gearbox cover, but first I have to unbolt the electrical box.  No biggie.  Within minutes, the electrical box is dangling from the motor.

Next, I remove the hex bolts holding the gearbox cover on.  I pull on the cover.  It doesn't budge.  I tap it with a screwdriver and my make-do hammer (a big socket wrench.  I never actually use a hammer for much of anything).    The cover starts to separate from the gearbox.  I know this because gear oil starts pouring out, lots of it.  YAAAAAAH!!  Gear oil spreads over the deck, which is rounded so rain rolls off and into the gutter and then into the water.   Gear oil headed for the water!!   I have visions of Encon storm troopers massing over my boat, writing tickets with big fines!  I look around for something to catch gear oil.   The only thing I can find is the back cover for the hoist, which has three holes in the bottom, but it seems like it's better than nothing.  I stick that under the drips and dash down the ladder to below.   I grab a small waste basket and a roll of paper towels and fly back up topsides.   The gear oil is spreading but it hasn't made it to the gutter.  Quickly, I unroll big wads of paper towels to head off the spreading oil monster and thrust the waste basket where the oil is leaking out of the gearbox.   Whew.  BP has nothing on me!

Surveying the damage... yuck.  I spend a half hour mopping up oil with paper towels which I deposit into the waste basket.  I can't get all the oil up.  It's soaked into the fiberglass, I think.

With most of the gear oil gone from the box, I removed the cover and the motor. 

There's a worm gear on the shaft.  No wonder I couldn't get the motor off.  The worm gear is bigger than the hole through the cover the shaft passes through.   The inside of the gearbox is very cool, with all sorts of gear-type things.   I can rotate the gears by hand so the problem isn't the gearbox, it's the motor.

Now what to do?  I put vice grips on the shaft and try to turn the motor.  It doesn't turn, not a bit.  Twenty years of sitting uncovered probably has it full of crud.  The motor is probably toast, and a replacement is $400.  I decide to do something.... Dave-like.  With nothing to lose, I fill the galley sink with water and submerge the motor.  Hey, Pam's not home.   She'll never know.  Maybe the crud will dissolve and the shaft will turn.

Yeah, I guess I should have emptied the dish drainer first.  The electrical box and control were covered in gear oil, even though I wiped them down.  Knowing I'm a clod, I put them in a plastic bag so I don't make too big a mess.  I left the motor in the sink for a good hour.  When I removed it, the shaft still wouldn't turn.   I put the motor on the foredeck to dry out while I consider my next course of action.

By the way, the little rug stuffed through the hawse hole is chafe protection.  Living on a boat when the wind blows 50 MPH sometimes requires diligence.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How to subscribe to a blog

Many people follow blogs by clicking on the "follow" button.  This is fine for blogs you want to follow when you have free time to do so, but what of blogs you don't want to miss?  Perhaps a family member or friend out cruising the Great Loop?    For these, consider subscribing.

The process for subscribing is pretty easy.  Some blogs, like Drift Away, have a prominent subscribe button someplace on the page.   Ours is on the right.  

Other blogs have a small link at the bottom of the page that might say something like "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)".   Click the subscribe button and you'll be brought to a page that states...

"You are viewing a feed that contains frequently updated content. When you subscribe to a feed, it is added to the Common Feed List. Updated information from the feed is automatically downloaded to your computer and can be viewed in Internet Explorer and other programs."

Below that will be a link that says "subscribe to this feed".   Click it.   A pop-up window appears with the blog name and feed location.  Leave these be.   Check the box that says "Add to favorites bar".

If you use Internet Explorer, you'll notice a new icon with the blog name next to it.   

When you click on the button, a list of blog postings will appear.  Ones you haven't read will be bold, and ones you have read will be grey.   Now here's the cool thing.  The feed will automatically look at the blog and if a new posting is made, the name of the blog will be bold, so you'll know that there's something new to read.   You can change the title of the button by right clicking on it and clicking on the rename function.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On a boat, everything must have a place.

It's even more important when you live aboard. Our trawler is pretty big as boats go and it has a lot of storage space, and it can be a challenge to find things sometimes. I've been boating for 40 years and learned long ago how important it is to be organized and to have things where they need to be when you need them quickly. It's been a challenge to get Pam to learn this. "It doesn't matter where something lives", I told her, "just as long at it has a home." She's been trying really hard, but because she's the kind of person that simply puts something down when she's done with it, it's been a struggle.

Pam's son Sean is graduating from Air Force basic military training this weekend. She's very excited and bursting with pride, and Pam, Sean's sister Megan, and Sean's girlfriend Amirah flew down to Texas for the big moment in Sean's life last night. Pamela actually started packing last week, making sure she had everything, organized and "in its place".

As Pam and I were leaving for the airport, I went through a quick check list of the really important stuff. Credit cards? Yes, in my pocketbook. Cash? Yes, in my pocketbook. Passport for airport ID?  Yes, in my pocketbook.  Cell phone? In my jacket pocket. Cell phone charger? In my bag. Camera? In my pocketbook.  Wow, I'm so proud of her!

Their flight got into San Antonio about midnight last night and they had to be on the base at 6AM to get Megan a pass. Knowing Pam likes to sleep in, I got up early to give her a wake up call. I dialed her cell phone number. Her cell phone rang in a jacket hanging in the helm station. She wore a different jacket.

I recently wrote about how all our critters climb into bed with us, and so we often depart for another stateroom to sleep (an advantage of having three staterooms for two people).  I was reading in bed last night, and Ruby and Chevy the dogs, and Smudge the cat came down to join me. 

I'm lucky I got the little corner of the bed that I did.   And yes, the book "Honey, Let's Get a Boat" is all wrinkled from getting wet.  You'd think the authors of a book about boating would make it waterproof.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It Helps to be Crazy

You don't have to be crazy to live on a boat, but it helps.

Last night was a tough one, sleep-wise. The dogs have taken over the aft master stateroom and Pam and I escape to the mid-stateroom.   I sometimes have difficulty sleeping and I awoke at 2:30.   I moved myself to the aft stateroom with the dogs to find something boring to watch on TV.  As I opened the door, I heard wagging tails slapping the bed.   Thankfully, they knew it was me and not a cat burglar.

Chevy and Ruby pretty much take over the whole bed, sprawling both on and under the covers.  This is typical sleep style.

I managed to wiggle my way in and started channel surfing, finding something appropriately dull and boring.  After an hour or so of Chevy snoring loudly and Ruby running in her sleep, and Smudge the cat sleeping on my chest and purring loudly,  I decided to move upstairs to the couch with a book.    Within five minutes, Chevy was on the couch next to me.   ~sigh~

Back downstairs, quickly followed by Chevy the dog and Smudge the cat.   Back to positions everyone!   I finally fell back asleep around 5, and up at my usual 6 AM.

Coming back from the showers, I was met with this sunrise... I love living on a boat.

Pam has replaced her daily workout in the marina gym with walking the dogs to the nearby beach.   She said she saw geese that she hadn't seen before, with a funny kaa-ronk call.   A check of the bird book shows it to be Brant Geese.    Cool.

Then, back on the boat, the dogs assumed the couch position of using me as a pillow.  Both dogs are sound asleep.  The old bald dawg wishes he was.

It looks like I'm staring off into space in that photo.   I'm actually watching the Today Show, incredulous that an investment advisor just told a sixty year old Utah woman that her $750,000 in retirement savings isn't anywhere near enough based on a 4% investment return, without asking about the woman's lifestyle.   Maybe she lives on a boat with a couple of dogs and cats.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Nature Thrives in the City

Most of us know that living aboard puts one in close contact with nature.  It's one of the cool things about living aboard.   What I didn't realize was how much was around us.   I've written previously about the Canada Geese, Sea Gulls, Hooded Merganzers, Mallards, and other waterfowl.   We've seen deer here at the marina, which is surrounded by the city, and a nearby park even has turkeys.  I've also written about Monk Parrots (sometimes called Monk Parakeets).    Yesterday (Saturday), walking the dogs, I passed by a ginko biloba tree with a Monk Parrot nest.

Several squawky pairs let me know they didn't like me or the dogs.

We crunched through oyster and clams shells that littered the path.   Sea Gulls will fly high above the paths and parking lots dropping shells to shatter them below.   It would be wise to park your car under a tree when visiting the beaches here.

I let the dogs off leash on the beach.   They love to run and wrestle.   There's a sign that says that dogs aren't allowed on the beach, but I'm guessing that's only during the summer.

Pit Bulls certainly look vicious when they play, but dispite the fangs and biting each other's necks and legs, they've never so much as left a mark on each other.

I am sensitive to the fact that many people don't like dogs and some are afraid of Pit Bulls because of their reputation, so I keep them away from others when off leash.   In reality, they're both sweethearts.

They both like the water.   I had to call them off the sea wall with my gruff voice NOW!

Back at the boat, the wind really started to kick up.   It was even ruffling the feathers of the Canada Geese.

This morning (Sunday) brought another very nice sunrise.  I rated this one an 8 out of 10 mainly because of the low scudding clouds.

Behind the low scudding clouds are big nasty rain clouds, so I got the dogs off the boat for a good romp to tire them out.   Getting back on the boat, Pam and I saw what I think was a mink.   It swam from the far shore, behind our boat, and into the rock wall.   It disappeared before I could get the camera.  I'll have to be on the lookout for him.

So the rest of rainy Sunday living aboard will probably be some movie watching, some book reading ("Honey, let's get a boat" by Ron and Eva Stob), and some jewelry making.

Pam has a large collection of sea glass that she's accumulated over the past couple of years.   She has decided to make jewelry with some of it.  She practiced with german silver, and then bought some silver plated wire.   She bought a couple of small diamond drills for the Dremel, and putting the glass on a small piece of wood in a pan of water, successfully drilled holes in a few pieces.

The secret is to not apply pressure, and to let the drill do the work.

I think these are very nice pieces, colorful and interesting shapes.   Pam has a good eye.  The one with the ladybug is for a friend.  I wonder if she can make a manly one for me?