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Moms, Friends, and Mom's Friends

IMG_0002Happy Mothers’ Day to (as I said in a recent SSCA newsletter) all Moms, Bonus Moms, Grandmoms, and Special Aunts.

This goes out to all of you, especially my Forever Friends. Every single day I am grateful for my very special women friends. Every day.

I have been so fortunate to have a friend for life whom I met in 5th grade, a friend for life from our first day at UMO, two friends for life from our working days in Portland, and a number friends of for life I’ve met on our cruising adventures.

I am a very fortunate woman.

I am also a very fortunate daughter.

It is only as I’ve aged that I’ve realized Mom also had “friends for life”, some of whom she met as a young woman on her own in the 1940’s while living in the big city of Portland, Maine.

My friends and I have been able to stay in touch easily via email, Facebook, Skype, and unlimited calling plans, but my mom only had the occasional visits, letters, cards, and expensive long-distance calls. In fact, I know I didn’t always realize how much she cherished her friends simply because I couldn't see her with them often in Real Life or on the phone.

My mom’s been gone well over 15 years, but one of her friends’ for life just passed this spring.

Colleen Reed was a remarkable woman and an inspiration to many. She also worked to stay in touch with me after my mom’s death.  In fact, 6 years ago Colleen drove from Westbrook to Brunswick to take me to lunch before EW and I sailed away from Maine.

That visit has been a cherished memory ever since.

Colleen’s niece, Aileen,  friended me on Facebook and kept Colleen up to date on our travels.

This year, Aileen let me know that Colleen was ill and not likely to survive and then a few weeks later she let me know that Colleen, my last link to my mom’s generation, had passed.

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

20170511_093312

20170512_123431This week I received a note from Aileen, who has spent weeks cleaning out Colleen’s apartment. (With help from her brother, a cousin, and a friend for life.) With the note, she sent my birth announcement and a Christmas photo card from 1959 when I was three. Colleen had saved them because she loved my Mom and that’s what forever friends do.

As we’ve traveled from port to port since 2010, my friends have sent photos of their kids, their dogs, their grandkids, and themselves. Every one of those photos is downloaded into a file under the appropriate year. That file is labeled “Back Home”. It’s my friend and family photo album and I make sure to back it up regularly.20170511_093304

On this Mother’s Day Weekend, I am grateful that I am the daughter of a wonderful red-headed mom.

I am grateful that she had awesome friends like Colleen.

I am grateful that by modeling her friendships, I have been fortunate to have my own “forever friends”.

And finally, I am incredibly grateful that my friends and I have all embraced new technologies so that we can more easily maintain contact and share our joys, triumphs, challenges, and sorrows.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has loved a child—their child, a bonus child, the child of a sibling, the child of a cherished friend, or the child who needed them.

Happy Mother’s Day to every woman who has modeled love and friendship to the next generation.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, because you have all made a difference.

 _________________________

The photo at the top—my mom and me—on the first Thanksgiving EW and I hosted after we got married. ('80's perms.)


Achieving Joy and Black Holes

NO! This is not about the recent election. (Though someone may want to co-opt the title.)

For over a year now, we aboard La Luna have been working on what we “lovingly” call the “Joy Project”. (EW has no love for the “Joy Project”.) Way back in 2014 I stumbled across a little book written by a young, slight, seemingly OCD Japanese woman. “The KonMari Method, The Life Changing Habit of Tidying Up” resonated with me (and made me laugh). After some discussion EW agreed (He. Did. Agree.) to join me in working our way through the boat in the KonMari method in order to get rid of things, resettle  in a joyful way those things we kept,  and reassert control over our boat, our stuff, and every single drawer, cupboard, and storage area. I would keep careful records of our successes, the “Joy” achieved, and the challenges, to use in a future new book about our cruising life.

IMG_3414While we are joyful people, we suck at getting “Joy” by using the KonMari method.

A case in point.

Those who follow me on Facebook know that with all the moving from boat to friends’  home, to  another friend’s boat, and back aboard La Luna during and after Hurricane Matthew, I lost a bra. How does anyone lose a bra? Well, I have found said bra; it had fallen in the space behind our hamper. (Despite that one flaw, the hamper does bring us “Joy”.) When one brings “Joy” in the KonMari method, one works in categories and takes a number of months (or in our case, evidently, years) to go through one’s abode category by category. So far we’ve done clothing, cooking, and assorted other items.  We suck at this. In doing clothing, while we got rid of a lot,  we still  had to find places to store the winter stuff during the St. Augustine summer. Fall has arrived with 57 degree nights and I have not been able to find my jeans. I imagined that I had taken them to Goodwill during the “Joy Project”. This was not a Good Thing.

As the Net Controller for the St. Augustine VHF Net, I am responsible for the lovely burgees that we sell to raise money for …. whatever. One of our newer liveaboards asked where he could obtain said burgee and I jumped up and down and waved my hands on our Facebook page and told him that I had them for sale for $25.00. He gave me the money when he saw me on shore and I now owe him a burgee. (Trust me, this all ties together with—mostly—Joy.

So yesterday, I blithely went to the Master Stateroom where I had been storing the burgees for about 6 months. No Joy. I tore the area apart—five times—No Joy. I ultimate had a hissy fit (I can still attribute those to Hurricane Aftermath for about four more days, at which point we will have been back aboard for a month and I have to move on.) No Joy from the hissy fit either, so I proceeded to tear apart the quarter berth area, and somewhere in there the forward door to the shower … BREAK  If this boat were filled with “Joy” one could actually walk in a circle from Maine Salon to Quarter Berth to Shower, to Aft Head, to Master State Room, to Galley, and to Main Salon. That has NEVER happened on La Luna. It would bring me great “Joy”.

Anyway, the door to the shower popped open and a number of full plastic garbage bags tumbled into the Quarter Berth area. To my “Great Joy”, these contained......(no not the Burgees) my winter clothes! Yippee. Hip Hip Hooray. Warmth. Long pants. Fleece. Joy.

Now let me tell you about the shower. For 5 years in the Caribbean, this shower was my friend. I could take warm showers and cool showers. Naked. In the privacy of my boat. Often, we still showered on deck in our suits (we are not from France, after all), but I love our shower stall. Here in Florida, we shower on shore because we can and because we can take “Hollywood” showers, a luxury of leaving the water running for your entire shower. Now that brings me great joy.

Again this ties in.

P_20161114_102523_HDRWhen we worked together on the “Joy Project” those months ago, we came up with a lot of things we no longer needed and evidently we did not take anything to Goodwill. Instead, we stored them in the one place on the boat we aren’t currently using: The Shower. It is the Black Hole. There is a pile of things we intend to give away or sell, the brand new man overboard pole EW wants to keep out of the sun, and my few items of dress clothes hanging on hangers. (Hadn’t used hangers in 5 years. Using hangers does not bring me joy.) In addition, there is a dish tub of cleaning products I never put back under the head sink when I “Brought Joy” to that area of cleaning supplies. This is not an approved method of obtaining “Joy”. (Though I love the new sink organization and maybe don’t need that stuff in the tub at all.)

This morning, I took a new storage tub (another story in its own self), emptied a cupboard on my side of the bed in which I had put all my big sewing stuff,  lovingly folded my winter clothes in the approved “Joy” method, and gave them a home in the Master Stateroom. Said tub went into the Black Hole, along with the cleaning products, dress clothes, old and new man overboard poles, and numerous bags of stuff that are supposed to be OFF THE BOAT.

Whew.

Told you we suck at this “Joy Project”.

Now, some of you may wonder, “What about the burgees?”

I had an epiphany, about a half hour into during all of this fussing and hissying, and emptying cupboards. When we moved off the boat before the hurricane I had packed up a bag of precious things and taken them to Joe and Deb’s in Elkton. Since we were going to be refugees for a few weeks, Deb offered to keep the precious bag until I had time to take it back. The burgees are in the precious bag in Elkton.

So part of me resents the lost time yesterday. Part of me realizes that without the “lost” burgees I might not have found my clothes for weeks and finding my clothes brought me “Great Joy”. All of me realizes that we have to get cracking on the “Joy Project”. EW will not be really happy about this. Stay tuned.


Have You Seen My Funny Keyboard? I Seemed to Have Lost it Somewhere.

I think funny.

I often talk funny and tell funny stories in a funny way, including things that have happened recently.

I dream funny dreams.

I Facebook funny. In fact, I crack me up on Facebook almost every day.

Writing lately, not so funny.

This live-aboard boater has misplaced her writing mojo and she wants it back. She wants it back RIGHT NOW!

I take notes for future blog posts. The notes are funny.

The posts, not so much.

I practice by telling a story to a friend during a long phone conversation. She roars.

I write it. Meh.

Or worse, I sit down to write one of those informative yet humorous posts and something else appears on the screen apparently typed by my own fingers. Something a tad melancholy.

From whence did that come?

I am not often without speech. (OK, I am NEVER without speech.) (Rim shot, but low hanging fruit)

I am definitely not a doom and gloom person.

I am, however, a cruiser who is not cruising and that has been a problem for me.

We are liveaboards. We are not currently cruisers. We may even (Gasp!) take our sails down and store them for a few months. Why let the big old sun shine down on them if we aren’t going to use them?

We are cruisers who are living aboard. I haven’t been thrilled with all things St. Augustine or many things Florida. (I saw TWO snakes here, which is two more than I’ve seen in the past five years. What kind of a state is this?)

Yes, we are cruisers living aboard and we like living aboard. We have no desire for a house. Life isn’t bad.

In fact, it’s good. Since we left Maine in 2010 things have gone very well. Let me count the ways:IMG_0966

1-100.   All the places we visited from October 2010 until December 2015. (That’s a rough estimate and includes multiple visits to various islands. OK. Really, it’s a guess. It’s a literary license kind of thing. Going back to counting now.) Sure we liked some places more than others. And sure, there may be one or two we will bypass the next time, but overall, this was a blast and I wouldn’t have missed any part of it. (Except for EW’s bout with shingles. That can go to Hades.)

101-972  (Also a guess) All the people we we met along the way. It doesn’t matter that I pull up IMG_4665some boat cards and have no idea who those people are. Neither does it matter that we can tell a wonderful story about world cruisers we met in Nassau in 2010. We can provide you with very detailed accounts of a number of their experiences, the washing machine they called, “The Guest”, what she was wearing when we were invited aboard for cocktails, and what they served for snacks. Yet we have no idea what their names are. It doesn’t matter. Everyone enriched us. Also every local person—from the angry guy on the dock in Atlantic Island New Jersey, to Dingis Gennel, and Carmel in Grenada, to the interesting, helpful, non-English speaking alternator repair guy in Colon Panama—left an impression on us. If not a great impression, one that salted our stories with reality. Every cruiser— from the Canadian in New Jersey who gave us the keys to his car so we could get to West Marine to the newbies and the circumnavigators we’ve met in St. Augustine—have all enriched our lives and encouraged our dreams. Many of them have shared their wonderful stories and more than a few have helped us create wonderful stories together.

973-1,963 (A low estimate) Stands for all the big and little things that went wrong, broke, wereIMG_9977 lost overboard, or purchased in error. We fixed most of them, went without others, and are creating joy by tossing others (figuratively) from the boat. It wasn’t always pretty, but when La Luna’s parts had issues, we took care of her, and she brought us safely back to the States.

1,964-2,252 Are all (approximately) the family, friends, and acquaintances who waved good-bye, accepted that we were going to be gone a long time, and helped us in both tangible and intangible ways. A surprising number of them have been faithful readers of this blog.

2,253. EW. He’s not first on this list, but he’s first in my heart. He infected me with his dream and I IMG_9937have no regrets. None. Even the endurance crossing. (Though I do regret not getting the propane tank filled in the Canaries. My bad.) What a ride we’re having.

2,254 & 2,255. The two years we will be here, enjoying all St. Augustine has to offer, working, and providing La Luna with required TLC.

2,256. The next cruise, encompassing the Yucatan, Cuba, Eastern Caribbean, the Azores, and (fingers crossed) mainland Portugal, with side trips in Europe.

2,257. The United States of America. Even during a nasty, crazy election, I am delighted to be here and proud of my homeland, my heritage, and my country. (Some of the people, not so much…but that also goes for cruisers and local folks we met every where. People is people.)

Things weren’t perfect on the first cruise, they won’t be perfect on the second, and they aren’t perfect here in the US, or here in St. Augustine. But I am happy, incredibly fortunate often funny, and usually grammatically correct.

Now if I can just find that mojo.


What Are You Reading?

IMG_4631We have purchased few books in the past five years, fewer still in the past two. We’ve relied on book sharing with other cruisers, which tends to be both limiting and surprising. I love reading books on  my Kindle but pretty much abhor paying the full hard-cover price for an e-book. This had been a Facebook discussion among writers a couple of years ago—a discussion I didn’t have the data time for doing much other than putting in my two-cents, so I don’t know if they came to a consensus.

Consequently, while we have never run out of reading material, the majority of our options tend to be genre books enjoyed by other cruisers. That’s OK. We like genre books though we like to supplement them with non-fiction, biographies, and (especially EW) historical non-fiction. Thus, we discovered Lee Child. He became our new Robert Parker. (Back in Maine, with successful careers, we bought the new, hard-cover Spencer for Hire books because we just couldn’t wait for the paperback version.)

Since early Jack Reacher books are frequently on sale or offered at reasonable prices on Amazon, and since “Santa” purchased a couple of the newer books as e-books, we are nearly caught up with the series. A couple of weeks ago, I perused the lending library in the Marina lounge and found the hard-cover of  “Make Me”, which had been published in September of 2015. Score!

I immediately began reading it while the laundry was tumbling in the dryer.  Shortly afterward, a distinguished looking cruiser came into the lounge and also looked over the offered books, picking one to read. He saw what I was reading and asked, “Did you just get that from here?” I tried not to crow as I answered in the affirmative, and offered to make sure he got it next. “You going to be here a few days? Both my husband and I will have to read it before I pass it on.”

He slumped. They were heading south tomorrow, but would return in a month or two. “No worries. I will save it for you.” We exchanged boat cards just before his wife walked into the room. “Oh! Is that the new Jack Reacher?” Her husband and I laughed as he related what had been discussed moments before.

The next morning, I opened an email from them, saying they had put another Jack Reacher novel on the lending shelves. Since EW and I had read that one, we left if for the next person, though I checked when we went ashore to find that it had been snatched up. While we try not to keep many books and few hard-cover ones on board, “Make Me” has a temporary place of honor in the main salon, with the boat card from M/V Erban Renewal taped inside. It will be waiting for you, Julia and Steve.

IMG_4634As for my next book, I was delighted to find a paperback copy of “Wild”. Even cruisers who’ve been somewhat out of touch know about this book and the subsequent movie. Or at least, I did. I’ve been reading it slowly,stopping to savor, do something else, and enjoy later. This bitingly honest book resonates with me. I don’t know whether I would have liked Cheryl Strayed when she was in her 20’s, and certainly wouldn’t have approved of many of her choices, but her struggles were not my struggles, and her lessons are not my lessons. I am awed by her decision to walk a huge section of the Pacific Coast Trail in the 90’s --- alone. And I see parallels with some cruisers I’ve met and read about who also survived and succeeded despite a lack of knowledge, insufficient preparation, and incorrect gear.

I wouldn’t recommend anyone to undertake a cruise, a hike, or another feat without more understanding of what is needed. Still, this seems to have been the right choice—and perhaps the saving grace— for Cheryl and most of those sailors I mentioned. I am struck once again by the knowledge that I am not the person who would have set sail in my 20’s, with little or no technology. And I am once again in awe of those who preceded me, showed me the way, and fed my dream.

And perhaps I was wrong about the difference between what Cheryl and I needed to learn. As Cheryl said at the end of the book:

“That it was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was…That it was everything. It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close. so very present, so very belonging to me.”

What are you reading?

 

P.S. Note that in the link at Amazon, an e-book copy of “Wild is   $0.81 MORE than a new paperback copy. That is just wrong.


Lonesome Socks

Many of the memes that show up in social media were themes of cartoons, writers, and essayists long before Facebook came on the scene. Take the mystery of lost socks, dryer eating socks, lonesome singles socks, etc.

PinterestFor the past five years, we didn’t have that problem. You don’t lose what stays safely folded in the drawer and we rarely wore socks. When we did, it would be for a day’s hike, so laundry day would include exactly four socks. You can’t lose one of four socks as easily as you can lose one of 14 socks. (It’s also more difficult to lose socks when you wash a few clothes in a bucket, wring them dry by hand, and hang them on the line. Evidently losing socks is also a first world problem.)

Now that it’s warmer in St. Augustine, where the spring weather apparently goes from 90 to 60 in a 24 hour period, I have begun to prepare to launder all the wearable fleece and warm blankets prior to storing them under our bed for the next (fingers crossed) nine months. Over the past three months, I have frequently returned home from the laundry with one or more lonesome socks.

Let me be the first to say, that part of this may be a result of a new storage method I am trying. Instead of rolling socks into a ball and folding one over the other, I am letting them truly rest, to thank them for warming and protecting our feet. I fold them into little bundles and store them upright in plastic containers, a la Marie Kondo, author of The Kon-Marie Method, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Unfortunately, while our socks may be better rested, they don’t stick together as well. I suspect that sometimes (often) we will pull one sock from two pairs, wear them, and find after washing that we don’t have mates when we match them up for their relaxing bundles.

The other week, EW asked me how long he should hold on to his bereft, lonesome socks. “It’s not giving me great joy to have them in my drawer.” Joy is another of Marie Kondo’s words, or that is the word her translator used to describe her technique. EW does not utter the word, “Joy”, with actual joy in this context. In fact, it was “said sarcastic”, as they say in Maine.

IMG_4636I recently did a monster load of laundry and decided to pull out our sock bins as I stored the freshly washed and appropriately folded clothes. Guess what? Every sock now has a mate and has been repatriated to its appropriate sock bin, folded gently with his or her buddy.

I also found my long-lost yoga pants. Clearly I have not yet mastered the Japanese art of tidying, but my socks have great joy and are no longer lonesome. EW is thrilled. (And that’s a very soft, lower-case thrilled, with some mild satisfaction but no real joy.)

And for you inquiring minds out there, now you know: Briefs.


Back in the U. S. of A. with Technology, Hair Salons, and Snakes

It has not been a quiet week in St. Augustine. In fact, this place is as social as our first year in Grenada—and we are trying to earn money, pay bills, and fix the boat. I’ve had to decline invitations to kayak in order to write. Plus, despite reaching our third month anniversary of moving here, we are not acclimated to being back in the U.S. Of A:  this new state, new technology, daily news, old technology we hadn’t mastered, seeking a job, snakes, weather, any technology, snakes, getting haircuts in salons, and more.

Land dwellers we meet here worry about how we get groceries and do laundry. After five years of cruising among many island communities, we are old hands at dinghying, busing, and walking. We have a cart and aren’t afraid to use it. I drive the dinghy as well as EW, and will go anywhere he would go with it. We can dinghy to one dock near a Win Dixie and one near a Publix. Getting to the stores isn’t the problem, buying too much, stocking junk food, and finding the best deals and best produce: these are my first world problems for weekly provisioning. (We had to ask someone what a “BOGO” was—”Buy One and Get One (Free)”. It’s up to us to find out whether that is really a deal or not.)

technology and snakesTechnology, as you may have surmised from the second paragraph, has been a challenge. We are so ignorant and there are so many choices that we really messed it up. (Mostly I messed it up. EW just went along for the ride.) Seriously, it seemed that every week we were spending at least half of one day, researching, traveling to the stores, and purchasing a phone or a data plan. After a bit of backing and filling and one restocking fee, EW and I purchased cheap ZTE AT&T Android phones that do everything your $500.00 phones do, though with less clarity. We can live with that. Heck, we were in Panama for 6 months; clarity has not been a option for us for a long time. We have bundled everything (two phones and the I-pad) into an AT&T account with 15 gigs of data each month. We have unlimited talk and text in the U.S. of A., Mexico, and Canada, and very limited data.

Did I mention snakes? I’m sure I did. When Cathy and I went to Naples to visit Kathy (a dear Maine friend), Kathy with a K (obviously) made sure to always park where we could get out of the car without stepping in the grass. Because.. snakes. I remembered that but didn’t internalize it. Fast forward to going on a walk with Kirsten, a member of our cruising posse here in St. Augustine. Kirsten is from Anchorage, but spent time with their boat at Green Cove Springs last year and got introduced to snakes and their ways. Walking along AIA  where there was no sidewalk, she suggested we opt for the bike path walking towards traffic so we could avoid any snakes in the grass. There it was again. “Snakes in the grass.”

In the Caribbean, I got my hair cut on shore at various salons, and by (former) cruiser, Lee Ann, aboard “Two Much Fun”. My last haircut by Lee Ann was in May of 2015. From then until November, EW cut my hair and I cut his. Let me just say, we both made the right decision years ago when neither of us considered hair styling as a career. I had a professional cut by a so-so stylist in Key West who didn’t have much to work with in terms of starting with even lengths. And I had another cut here in St. Augustine in January by a very nice stylist who said it would take a couple of cuts to get it right. She is located a good 45 minute walk from the marina, and finding time to get there, get a cut, and get back was a problem, so I sought and found a reasonably priced stylist closer to the boat.

(Trust me, this all comes together like a Garrison Keeler story.)

Ashley is my new Darlene in Maine. (I’m sorry Darlene, you are still my favorite of all time.) Ashley has blue hair (this week) is an artist who paints with acrylics, and does great hair. Before I know how successful this would turn out, I was torn about changing from the more distantly located stylist (with whom I’d booked an appointment) to Ashley, so I phoned another member of our posse, Jody, from S/V Tarentella. Jody and Jim and their two dogs tootle up and down the coast from New Bern to Florida and the Bahamas. This year, they’ve hung around because St. Augustine is too much fun. Jody has a great laugh and burst out with it when I told her why I was calling (on my new, AT & T phone) while I walked around in the neighborhood of the then potential new stylist’s shop. Jodi convinced me to change stylists. (Most men and many women are snoring. Get over it. This was an issue for me.)

Early in the conversation, I had walked out of a parking lot to the sidewalk and into a neighboring parking lot, where I paced while talking with Jody. As we neared the conclusion of our conversation, I headed back to the new salon to make an appointment with Ashley. I was focused on laughing and talking with Jody and not the fact that I am now in Florida, when I innocently stepped off the parking lot onto a five-foot swath of lawn between lots, to see a snake slither from beneath my raised foot to the safety of a near-by bush. Poor Jody. She is hard of hearing in one ear and I wasn’t kind to her good ear when I shrieked “SNAKE!” “SNAKE!” before saying, “Oh. Sorry Jody.” Once she stopped laughing she assured me that her ear was fine.

Snakes and TechnologyOf course everyone has asked what kind of snake it was. I have no idea. It was covered in scales and had no legs. That’s enough for me. But then I thought about it and decided that it was time to put on my big girl pants and learn about the reptilian fauna in my new home state. DID YOU KNOW THERE ARE OVER 100 DIFFERENT TYPE OF SNAKES IN FLORIDA? (There are only 10 in Maine and none of them are poisonous—assuming New Hampshire’s timber rattlers stay on their side of the border.) This is when snowing in Maine for Easter doesn’t sound so bad to me. Ten non-poisonous snakes vs. over hundred, some deadly, snakes seems like a no brainer.

And there you have it: technology, hair-cuts, and snakes. Three of my most difficult transitions, all tied together. 

And for those of you who care, I love my haircut. Since the hair cut/snake incident happened on St. Patrick's Day, we were easily enticed to join Jim and Jody, and Rocky and Kirsten at Scarlet O’Hara’s. There, we discussed snakes and hair cuts among other things. I had fun showing how my hair fell back into place after shaking my head, and was asked to “perform” for Rocky when he joined us. After watching the shake and fall, he was asked whether he liked my new hair cut,

“Well it sure is active, he replied.”

And finally, yes, the amphibian in the above photo is not a snake. I don’t like snakes, and didn’t want to put one on my blog. Fortunately, the photos on this very nice Florida website change every few seconds. I just waited for a non-snake before taking the screen shot.


Button, Button, Where is the Button?

Plastic Buttons

Yes, I know the actual (very ancient) game is “Button,  Button, Who Has the Button?” but bear with me.

There are two kinds of people in this world: People who lose things and people who find them.

That may be a bit harsh. I lose my reading glasses regularly. I also find them. EW rarely finds anything I’ve lost. EW rarely or never finds anything he has lost. Heck, EW can’t find the jar of pickles in our tiny boat fridge. Witness a conversation on the night in question:

EW, as he paws in the fridge: What are the pickles in?

Me, from the master stateroom: The clear glass canning jar.

EW, only slightly sheepish: Oh. There they are.

Did I say our fridge was tiny? It’s a boat fridge. There is a top door in the counter and a bottom door for the lower section. EW was correctly looking in the top section. It’s probably 2X2X1.5 – if that deep. We aren’t talking a lot of space here. Yet, he couldn’t find the pickles.

But this isn’t about pickles. This is about our strengths and weaknesses, and about belief. I believe that I can find anything EW has lost. He believes that something he can’t find, is lost forever. This is not new. I have been finding things for EW for over 30 years. You think he’d believe in my abilities by now. But no, if he can’t find it, it can’t be found.

I was out of sorts on the evening in question. I’d hadn’t accomplished much on my “To-Do” list and was feeling uninspired. Technology had foiled me again and again. I was a bit grumpy, a little chilled, and had a stuffy nose due to spring pollen on this cold February in Florida. EW has a thumb drive (do we still call them that?) that includes guitar picking lessons he has been anxious to try. Due to some of the technology issues, he can only view that drive on the Dell—the same Dell upon which I write. Since I was pissy and not writing, he opted to practice Lesson One.

IMG_3888

 

Afterward, he put away the guitar, his massive notebook with pockets, his tuner, and his capo…and lost the all important thumb drive. I heard him huffing and puffing and exclaiming under his breath. I let it go for a while, but couldn’t ignore it as there is no peace on a boat when one of those aboard is huffing and puffing. (Or sneezing, or snoring for that matter). “What’s wrong?” I asked from my comfy nest. “I just put everything away and I can’t find the thumb drive!” I was not in the mood. “You’ll find it. If not, I’ll find it tomorrow.”

A couple of hours later I was more sociable and enjoying a glass of wine with EW in the main salon, and he started up again, looking in improbable spots for the drive. This is what always gets me. When he looks for something he looks in the places in which it is less likely to be. It’s painful to watch. Or he looks exactly where it should be, as in the pickles in the tiny fridge, and can’t see it because he isn’t looking for a clear glass jar with pickles in it. (To be fair, these are refrigerator pickles that I made and first put in a LockLock. But we had an actual conversation about my moving them to the clear glass jar through which one can SEE THE PICKLES!)

OK, maybe that doesn’t sound as fair as I intended. EW wants me to inform you that the top wasn’t clear. Whatever. He can get his own blog.

Moving on. There I was, curled up under a fleece blankie, sipping wine and reading and he starts searching in all the wrong places for his thumb drive. “Stop,” I said flatly. “Just stop. I’ll find it.” And I flung the fleece from my body and flew off the settee. (That may be my all-time favorite sentence.)

“Don’t trouble yourself,” EW said with not a little exasperation. “Really.” I said, nearly as exasperated. “ I’ll find it in less than five minutes and we can move on with our evening.”

I started the search first with EW’s awesome music notebook that has pockets and a couple of thumb drive holders. He hovered and huffed. “I’ve already looked  there!”

This is a common theme to our (my) search missions. EW has a searching disability. It’s not his fault. If something is not exactly where and how he expects it to be, he doesn’t see it. (Remember the pickles in the clear glass jar?) This is not a male/female thing, or a Hart/Huff thing (like being on time), or an age thing. As long as I’ve known him, he hasn’t been able to find things. Fortunately he married a woman who is really great at finding things.

Back to the search when EW was hovering.

“Don’t hover,” I said. “It doesn’t help. You know I search by starting where you’ve looked. Go away.” (Remember, I wasn’t feeling up to par and perky.)

So he went away, and I searched. He was right, it wasn’t in the red notebook. I moved to the forward cabin and his guitar case, where I was surprised not to find the capo and tuner in the little cubby under the guitar neck. Those were perched atop some of his music books in his blue music book tote. Aha! A clue!

I pulled the tote into the light of the main salon, and dug into spaces around the bottom of the books, pulling out the tragically lost thumb drive. “Here you go.” I didn’t expect much of a response beyond  the normal, “Where was it?” followed by his sincere thanks. I got both, but first he said, and I quote, “I need to stop the timer.”

Yep. Once I had grouchily stated that I would find the damn thing in five minutes, he stalked three paces to the galley and set the kitchen timer. This is a noisy, beeping, process that I missed while I was digging in the red notebook.

“You timed me?!” I may have screeched.

‘Well yeah. You said you could find it in less than five minutes” He grinned, winningly. ”You did. You had one minute and forty-seven seconds left.”

After thirty years, he may not be able to find anything but he can still surprise me and make me laugh so hard I have to cross my legs.

I love EW.


Women Who Cruise

IMG_0415We have met women who are solo sailors. We’ve met women couples who cruise. And we’ve been very lucky to meet Maria and Cathy, an intrepid couple of thirty-something sailing women who decided not to wait for the “right” man, but to buy a boat together and go cruising. I have such respect for all of those women (and am delighted to call many of them friends).

It is no secret that I sail because EW is a sailor, and that I cruise because I adopted and fully embraced his dream, and this is true of biggest majority of cruising couples we meet.  In some cases they learned to sail together, and in some cases they formed the dream together, but most we meet who are our age are cruising because the guy wanted to cruise.

P8100785So women adapt. Some keep their home or a cottage to call home. Others opt to leave the boat during the summer to visit friends and family (especially grandchildren), and others like me are “all-In”. Our home is the boat and we stick with it for most, if not all, of the year.

IMG_3456Some folks chug their way down the inland waterway. Others sail outside, hopping from port to port and waiting for the best weather to sail to the Bahamas. Intrepid sailors head straight from New England or Virginia to the Virgin Islands, while others opt to put their boat on a ship and send her down alone.

We all make it work, and we all sail until it doesn’t work for us.

P8100730I still love this life. Sure, we’ve made mistakes, we’ve been caught in bad weather, and boat parts have failed, and we need to make some money to fill the cruising kitty and to fix the boat. But I love this life. So far, I’ve loved living in St. Augustine on the boat, where I’ve gotten to meet many women who sail: Women from Alaska and Santa Cruz, and Maine, and nearly every state down the Eastern seaboard; women from Australia, Germany, and Belgium; women who are retired, women who have taken a sabbatical, or women who are still working as they cruise. In short, I’ve met women from all walks of life who may have nothing else in common but the dream to travel aboard a small sail or power vessel..

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We never run out of things to say to each other. We can never do enough to help each other. We never run out of questions to ask each other. And if we are lucky, we form strong friendships, nurtured via email and Facebook and the occasional phone call—and the dream of meeting up once again in another port.

This was not why I embraced cruising. This is my bonus.

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Transitions!

IMG_3460Are we still Cruisers, or are we “Live-aboards”?

So far, we are still Cruisers at heart and have been able to share some of our stories with excellent boat guest, Mike, former Grenada Cruiser, Lee, and a number of Cruisers who are passing through on their way south to warmer temperatures and adventure.

While we envy them, we know we are incredibly fortunate to have had five excellent years At Sea.

And while we look forward to cruising in the future, we are happy to be here, closer to friends and family, where EW can work on the boat with the expectation of easily finding parts and help, and where I can earn money to fund our projects and future adventures.

We wish it were warmer. Somehow we missed the memo that stated the winter weather pattern includes temperatures from 37 to 80, in cycles frequently book-ended by rain or heavy winds. I was talking to one of the marina staff who discussed the recent heavy winds from the north and the expect not-quite-so heavy winds from the south.  “The south winds can be easier on the boats,” he said, “but when the winds are north at least the bridge acts as a strainer to keep loose boats from crashing into the docks.”

I immediately imagined a giant strainer, letting water and wind through but preventing boats. It was not a comfortable image, but I appreciated his colorful word choice.

EW has put new chafe guard on the mooring lines, we have two separate lines—not one line used on two sides of the boat, and we check for chafe every day.

We’ve lived on the boat for 13 years and I’ve not yet tired of it. We’ve lived mostly at anchor for the past five, and I’ve not yet tired of that either. So, getting ashore in the dinghy isn’t a problem for me.

For the past five years, we’ve shopped for parts and provisions by walking and riding in a a variety of local buses, so riding the clean, warm, local bus or the Port of Call Cruisers’ Bus is a joy.

We have found an excellent farm stand just a one mile walk away, so I have good quality fruits and veggies at very reasonable (if not Grenada) prices.

The locals are friendly, even if many are nonplussed by our cheerful “Good morning/afternoon/evening!” We were taught well by friends and strangers in the Eastern Caribbean, and still greet nearly everyone with whom we make eye contact. (OK. I admit it. Sometimes I just do it to be different or perverse. It’s kind of fun.)

So, it’s been a month. How is our transition going?

  • We are finding our way around.
  • We are learning (with help from former Grenada cruiser Lee) where the best music venues are.
  • We like the marina and its staff.
  • EW is taking a guitar class on Monday evenings, and has started on the boat projects. that can be accomplished in cold weather.
  • EW also wins the “Attaboy” award for finding two extra blankets at the Animal Shelter consignment store. One is brown fleece, and the other is a Jacksonville Jaguars quilt. (As long as their luck or lack of it doesn’t rub off on us, I’m OK with it. I also cover it during the day with a blue fleece that matches our décor.)
  • I am still looking for a job. If you know a small to medium company who wants remote help in hiring key personnel, let me know. We don’t want to move to Jacksonville, and we don’t really want to get a car, but there are many fewer jobs here than we anticipated. I’m applying for retail work, registering with agencies, and networking my socks off (not really, it’s too cold to go without socks). I have to remind myself that it’s only been a month and that nearly two weeks were during the holidays. Evidently transitions require patience too.

We are good. We are still cruisers, but are currently staying in one location.

I’m OK with that, and I know I will be warm again.

One day.


Your Moment of Zen

We miss the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. To be fair, we’ve yet to see an episode with the new host, but we miss Jon Stewart. We like to laugh. We like to laugh at smart stuff and at dumb jokes. We laugh at ourselves and, more often than is probably kind, we laugh at each other.

The other day, EW and I walked out to Winn Dixie on Route One for a few groceries. He went one way, and I went another. As began to pass an aisle two middle-aged men, each pushing a cart, bumped and jostled each other in fun. As soon as they saw me, an older (dang it!) middle-aged woman, they stopped and looked sheepish. I laughed. I also shook my head in that “men will be boys” manner we women have, and laughed some more as they parted the carts to make way for me. A third man, obviously their friend delighted in their embarrassment and laughed as much as I did.

Ten or fifteen minutes later I headed to the snack isle for popcorn to see their friend and one of the “perpetrators”. “Here she comes again!” the innocent man said. I laughed a bit and wished them a good morning, and he came up to me. “It’s so nice to see someone laugh,” he said. “So many people walk around with sour faces.” I agreed and said, “We laugh a lot. Maybe because we live an unconventional life.”

“Oh,” he said, waiving his hand toward his friend. “We live on boats.”

That explained it. One was on a sailboat and the other was a power boater. Evidently all three lived in the small marina behind Theo’s Greek Restaurant. We all agreed that sailors and power boaters could be friends. We shook hands, exchanged boat names, and moved on smiling.

Last night, EW and I played our new favorite board game, Tock. (Thank you Travis and Quincy from S/V Party of Five.) It’s a game for four, but Travis taught us that two people can play two colors and we’ve been having matches almost daily. I started to notice how often we laughed during the game—usually when “killing” or moving our rival’s marker. At one point we were laughing so hard I couldn’t count my move. That’s pretty cool for a couple married over 30 years.

So, for the first post of 2016, your moment of Zen, an oldie but a goodie. My attempt to enter the dingy via the “Gavin Method.”  

Enjoy.

Helping you laugh more in 2016. It’s good for you.