Our good friends LeeAnn and Peter aboardTwo Much Fundecided to become charter captain and crew last year and offer couples the opportunity to enjoy the Virgin Islands aboard a lovely catamaran with Peter’s music, Mimi the dog, and LeeAnn’s excellent cooking. Prior to cruising LeeAnn owned her own business employing 20 or so people, and is accomplished in many ways – she’s also the perfect charter host with an unflinching eye for detail. While LeeAnn was visit family in Florida between charters, Peter posted the following on Facebook, directing it to LeeAnn.
Peter shared Mom Always Finds Out's photo.
How to make Easter Bunny Shaped Rolls - Easy!http://momalwaysfindsout.com/2013/02/easter-bunny-shaped-rolls/
I refrained from commenting, but a few minutes later he posted the item below, again addressing it to LeeAnn:
I could no longer remain silent.
www.origami resource center.com
Barbara Hart These is just reasons 345 and 346 for why we don't charter La Luna.
When LeeAnn returned we met up at Tickles, where Peter, LeeAnn and I had a good laugh about folded toilet paper and bread bunnies. Turns out LeeAnn already folded the TP and was looking for a new design. (Of course.) She’s like that, but she’s still a very nice person.
A few days later we were excited to host friends Ed and Lynn from New York. They aren’t sailors, but are great sports, and have known EW for 60 years – well Ed has. We invited Peter and LeeAnn and our friends Keith and Jaime from Kookaburra to come for dinner. LeeAnn insisted on making dessert. (She’s like that.) Later that afternoon I saw them on shore and she told me she was going to bring bread too. (Of course.)
Here’s the bread:
Note that while LeeAnn’s definitely had mouse ears, she had included peppercorns for eyes. Some of them fell out so we had blind mice. Yes, someone sang the song. There was also a discussion about voles and moles and which one of the two had a tail and which one was a vegetarian. Cruising conversations are like that.
All but one of the mice was consumed that evening.
It was a great evening. I asked LeeAnn for her carrot cake recipe, and I’ll make it.
But I will never make bread mice, bunnies, or voles and I am never folding our TP.
So, we don’t charter on La Luna, but we’ll welcome Lynn, Ed, and other friends who can accept life aboard without such amenities.
If you want to enjoy this area aboard a terrific boat with a charming couple, and folded TP check out s/v Two Much Fun. It’ll be a vacation to remember.
Here’s an update on Donnell as he takes Boston by storm.
As many of you know, Donnell is an outstanding young violinist and singer from Grenada who auditioned for Berklee School of Music in Boston and was accepted. Unfortunately, they do not offer scholarships to freshmen students and Donnell’s family didn’t have the money for his tuition and other expenses.
With a nudge from Inga in Land-Not-Yacht Homeward Bound in Grenada, a cruiser turned landowner, the cruising community in Grenada during the 2012 hurricane season held and attended various fundraisers for Donnell. We did all we could, but he didn’t have the money for college so he deferred for a year. During that time, the country of Grenada arranged for a private foundation to pay for his first year tuition, and his sister and her husband said they could chip in for board. We wrote blogs and spread the word and many, many of you re-posted, copied and pasted, and helped with outstanding ideas.
Former and future cruisers, John and Dora on S/V Windrifter, are currently living aboard their Westsail 42 at Constitution Marina in Boston, while they are working for an unspecified number of years to build up their cruising kitty. (And, if their co-workers or employers read this – just note that they are young, love their jobs, and don’t plan to get back out to sea for years.)
John and Dora are also dear friends of ours, and in fact purchased their vessel with the help of EW in his Yacht Broker days.They also lived aboard next to us in Maine through a few interesting winters and a couple of really bad storms for which they never blamed us. We left Maine in October of 2010, and they followed their own path behind us, finally catching up with us in St. Lucia. We had lovely times together during our first season in Grenada and we miss them.
So, after my last pleading Facebook message about Donnell, John called to find out more about him. John is one of those brilliant technical people who appreciate fine music and who used to study the violin. John and Dora are without a doubt two of the nicest, most even-tempered people one could ever meet. They live on a boat with only one stateroom, still they invited Donnell to move in with them for “a month or two” until he could find appropriate space on shore.
They met him at the airport. They taught him how to live on a boat. Since the weather has turned chilly – 50 degrees in Boston this week – Dora has discussed long underwear and fingerless gloves with Donnell, who arrived in Boston for Freshman Orientation on August 30. A week later, Dora called me with an update.
“He’s delightful! Last night we came home to a hot dinner on the table. He made us mac pie!” Mac pie is the Grenada version of macaroni and cheese. Dora loves it. Heck, I love it. Donnell has offered to cook more and Dora will be shopping on her day off for foods he likes to prepare.
He has landed a work study job, and he has found a home with a houseful of young male Berklee students, at a rent he can afford. Money will be tight and help will be appreciated. Dora and John kicked in $50.00 for his first month’s cell phone bill, and a huge chunk of his savings went to vaccinations and the mandatory laptop with the installed Berklee programs. Still, he’s doing great.
Dora heard him on a SKYPE call to friends in Trinidad.
“No, Trinidad does not get that cold.”
Response from Trinidad
“No. You are too close to the equator, you have never experienced this.”
They haven’t yet heard him play the violin, but are enjoying the new-to-them music that he prefers. He recently sang in a jam session and came home elated, telling John and Dora, and his family and friends on SKYPE that he “Shredded it!” Dora said, “I’m not sure what that means, but I think it’s a good thing.”
Evidently, once you are accepted at Berklee, you still have to audition for certain courses. The professors were so astounded to hear Donnell’s unique style of jazz and pop in addition to classical music that they sent an email to Ms. Beth Wolfe, Donnell’s music teacher, mentor, and champion in Grenada saying how impressed they were with Donnell’s “broad skills”.
PHOTOS: Beth’s business, Island Violin and their recital hall.
In addition, he’s already making the contacts and getting the information he needs to apply for a Berklee scholarship for next year. Donnell is bright, engaging, and talented. Many back in Grenada have asked him why he wants to pursue music, telling him he could have easily gotten a scholarship for medical school in Grenada or to earn an engineering degree in Trinidad. He decided to take the harder (and colder path) and to follow his dream in Boston.
He’s an outstanding person and a very talented musician, and he is intent on following his dream. This is why John and Dora and we have joined with the many Grenada cruisers who have helped Donnell.
Plus, he cooks.
If you want to help Donnell, he could always use 50.00 to cover his phone bill, or some extra cash for fingerless gloves. I asked Dora about the gloves, and she replied, “You don’t expect this generation to stop texting when it’s cold out do you?”
I guess not.
Sounds like Donnell is fitting in just fine.
This photo is from a very recent Facebook Post by Donnell. The caption: “Yeah. I live on a boat.”
A few photos from a fundraiser Grenada cruisers held for Donnell in 2012. Two of his brothers helped to put together a band for that night on short notice. Inga, below left, Lilly –in blue -- from s/v Tiger Lilly and Kathy from S/V Oceana – in red shirt at right are three cruisers who made that evening happen.
During a delicious dinner and a lovely evening aboard Kookaburra, Jamie and I realized that both couples had twenty-something wedding anniversaries coming up. How nice. I love every year added to those we’ve shared together and I love hearing about others celebrating wedding anniversaries. (As I write this, Rebecca and Mike from Zero to Cruising are celebrating their 10th. Congrats!)
Jamie brought up something else that she and Keith had noted on their recent trip back to Massachusetts, most of their long-time friends have marriages that have lasted. I think she said that there is a group of six from college days, who are all still happily married.
My two closest friends from college, my two most long-standing forever friends, Cathy and Kathy have also remained happily married for over 20 and over 30 years, respectively. In fact, when I was reminded of Kathy’s 30th – four years ago – I was aghast. “That can’t be,” I said. “You got married the year we graduated college.” Kathy knows me well, smiled, and patiently broke the news, “Barb, our 30th year reunion is this year.” I got over it. We were 10 when we graduated.
The day this posts, EW and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary. One of the reasons our marriage works is because most of our friends and family – including our sailing friends – have also been able to keep their marriages, strong and predominately happy for many years. Positive reinforcement, encouragement, and establishing expectations help us through the less fun times. And that positive reinforcement has been provided by our divorced love ones as well. Heck, I married a divorced guy. That’s how I got Favorite, the bonus son.
But I digress. In addition to the modeling and support noted above, there are at least three other main reasons our marriage and this lifestyle work for us.
So, here they are – in reverse order of importance:
We both like this lifestyle, and have fully embraced it. But you know what? We fully embraced the “Fixer Upper” lifestyle as well. Once we decide on something as a team, we pull together as a team. Come hell, high water, Cape Fear, or mudding sheetrock.
We each have our own creative outlet. EW has his music, and I write. We make sure to plan some time for each activity every week, we listen to and encourage each other, and we absolutely enjoy and celebrate the other’s progress and successes.
And the number one reason --- drumroll please --
We both have an extremely developed sense of humor and share it often. When I was talking with Jamie, I told her about the deal EW and I have. When we first met, he was never getting married again, so we moved in together. I told him I’d only live with him for two years without a marriage proposal and then I was gone. He proposed after one year, but qualified it. “I’m not sure I can be married for life,” he said, with brown eyes twinkling. I glibly replied, “that’s no problem, but I want a 50th anniversary. When I was young, a number of my aunts and uncles celebrated Golden Wedding Anniversaries and I want one.” “OK,” he said, “but then I may be out of here.”
Ever since, on our anniversary, EW has always mentioned, “One down, forty-nine to go.” or “Twelve down, thirty-eight to go.” Somewhere in there, I let him know I wanted first refusal on his next fifty years. We call that “the option”.
Come this anniversary, I fully expected to hear, “Twenty-eight down, only twenty-two to go.”
The day before this anniversary, EW gave me a passionate kiss before leaving for his captain’s job, leaned back, looked deep into my eyes and said, “I’m thinking of taking you up on that option.”
Twenty-eight down, infinity to go.
□ 1. Selling your home and nearly all of your belongings; moving most of the rest, including an 85- pound Black Labrador, aboard a new-to-you 47-foot boat; and living aboard, year-round, in Maine for 8 years.
□ 2. Cutting the dock lines, leaving Maine, and setting sail for a Cruise of Indefinite Length in that same boat and with that same spouse. (We lost Jake, the Lab two years prior to setting sail.)
AT RIGHT: Our former home.
If you thought as I did that moving aboard, and living on the dock through eight Maine winters would be more stressful than living on the hook on a familiar and loved boat, with a familiar and loved spouse -- you’d be wrong. The difference is the marketing phrase: 24/7. There is comfort in that phrase if you’re talking about convenience stores and emergency rooms -- not so much if you’re talking about life on board with one’s beloved spouse. Trust me.
ABOVE: One winter on the docks.
BELOW: On the hook in the Bahamas. (Yes, I am aware that I have nothing to complain about.)
Much of my blog during our first year as cruisers focused on two issues: Boat Projects and Our Relationship. Both issues could only be kept in perspective through humor and love, and humor may have been the more important of the two. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary the year we left Maine, and I believe that we fought more during our 26th year of married life than we had in all of the prior years. I tried to explain this to a couple from our yacht club back home who met up with us a few months into our second year as cruisers. They took a one-year sabbatical, sailing down from Maine and making it as far south as Guadeloupe, before heading back home. When we last talked, they said that they were glad to have done it, but that they weren’t ever going to cruise full time. I tried to tell them that the first year was the worst, and told them how much better things were in Year Two. It’s true. We still undertake planned and unexpected boat projects, but not to the extent that we encountered in our first year at sea. And we still have some disagreements, but they are much fewer and farther between than the epic fights of our first year. Good thing, or I’d have had to kill him. (Just kidding. Violence never occurred to me. Really.)
My sweetie, EW , and I moved aboard our 47-foot Cheoy Lee cutter in May of 2002. We had a five year plan, during which we would live aboard year-round, on a dock in Maine, while we worked to prepare the boat and our finances for the Cruise of Indefinite Length. Five years turned into eight years of sailing on weekends and vacations in the summer, and actually enjoying the challenges of Maine winters: northeasters, ice, record-breaking tides, sleet and snow, breaking docks, and living under shrink wrap. When we first lived aboard on the dock, EW would set off every morning for a 45 minute commute to his office up the coast, and I would depart a bit later for my 10 minute commute to an office just across the river. Life was certainly more interesting than it had been living like normal people do, but we never experienced what we called the “Oh. My. God!” moment, when one or the other of us would realize that we had made a big, huge mistake. We, and our black lab, Jake, took to living on the water with good humor, mostly realistic expectations, and the willingness to “get her done”. In the winter, EW schlepped fuel down in jugs, we worked with our neighbors on Saturdays to get water via hoses lying on the bottom of the bay, hosted parties with the other live-aboards, and organized storm procedures. It was a great neighborhood, and our marriage thrived. Sure, we still had moments of discord, but that was no different than when we lived as normal people do in a home on land.
In fact, the move from home to boat was only a move of one mile from our home of 15 years to a marina in the same town. We voted in the same place, shopped in the same grocery stores, ate in the same restaurants, and participated in life in southern Maine much as we had before. We no longer could host our large Thanksgiving celebrations, but were exempt from hosting the much larger family Christmas party. Life was good, and we were working together toward a ginormous goal -- leaving our jobs, setting sail, traveling to distant shores, and living on the hook -- just the two of us, together -- twenty-four/seven. How romantic!
Not so much.
Before we even left Maine, I was shocked to discover that our future life at sea wouldn’t always one of romantic harmony. In the spring of 2010, five months before our planned departure, we opted to save money and “practice” by leaving the dock and taking a mooring near EW’s Yacht Brokerage office, forty-five minutes north of Portland. For the prior five years, I had been working as a consultant, with an office on the boat, and could fairly easily work from Brunswick as I finished my last client obligations. EW would commute to work by dinghy, giving him more time to tackle a boat project in the evening. He was delighted. As was I, until he began to come home for lunch - in my office! I would be working on the laptop, or talking on the phone and he’d clamber aboard, bang around in the galley, and sit down at the other end of the dinette, munching and crunching on a sandwich and chips. I was chagrined to discover that I resented his presence, and a bit appalled when I realized that this would be my life -- this invasion of my space. This lack of control of when lunch occurred, this lack of alone time, and this togetherness was what we had been working towards for the past eight years!
I handled it by writing a blog post in which I confessed one of my hidden quirks. I thought it was a funny post that poked one of my foibles. When EW read it, his feelings were hurt. “You mean you don’t want me to have lunch with you?” Well, that wasn’t the message I had intended, but truly I didn’t want him to come home for lunch every day. However, this break was important to him, so I adapted. Some days I worked off the boat at an Internet café, and when I did work from home, I broke for lunch whenever EW arrived.
Over the next year, we worked out many other things - most with humor and compromise, but more often than I would like to admit there were harsh words and tears before the humor. Still, we never had the “Oh. My. God!” moment at sea, either. This living on the water is an excellent lifestyle for us. Here’s how we make it work:
1. We apologize more often and more quickly. We still may snap or snark at each other, but we take it back or say “I’m sorry” and move on, usually within minutes.
2. We’ve forgiven each other for old news and past issues.
3. We each have embraced the opportunity to develop new passions, and fully support each other in those activities. EW has his music and I have my writing. I never tire of listening to him practice and can enjoy endless repetitions of the same song or chorus while writing or reading. When he participates in an Open Mike Night or Music Jam, I almost always attend, take photos, and proudly act as his “Band Aide”. I write for my blog, have self-published a book about our first year at sea, and have written a number of magazine articles. EW edits, praises, gives me the time and space to write, brags about me often, and -- most important -- cheerfully accepts his role as “The Topic”.
4. We find a few ways to each have some alone time on the boat. I may go grocery shopping alone, or play dominoes in Trinidad or Grenada, or meet with other cruising ladies for a walk or day trip. EW will go to another boat to practice music or help with a project, take the local bus to seek parts for something, or even participate in a poker night. What the one left does aboard isn’t relevant. We may read, watch a movie, make a SKYPE call, or write or play music. We may actually tackle a boat project. A little time alone on the boat is precious to each of us.
5. We love to laugh, and can easily laugh at ourselves. For us, this makes this 24/7 lifestyle work.
Instead of the “Oh. My. God! What have we done?” moment. Our life is full of gratitude and wonder that we are able to live aboard and fully embrace and enjoy this lifestyle. As we often say when sitting in the cockpit at sunset, “This does not suck.”
ABOVE: 2011 in St. Lucia
AT LEFT: 2011 26th Wedding Anniversary, St. Lucia
Finally, this is my first post for Raft-Up, a site that offers boating bloggers the opportunity to blog about a particular topic each month. This month's topic is Relationships at Sea, one of my favorites. For other takes on this topic, check out Raft-Up.
There’s an old Gary Larson cartoon that tickled EW and me. In the first panel, under the title, “What We Say to Dogs”, the dog owner says, “OK, Ginger, I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage. Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage or else!” In the second panel titled, “What They Hear”, we see, “Blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
On a recent evening, I decided that sometimes communication between wife and husband is similar to communication between owner and dog. Yes, I just compared EW to a dog, but I love dogs. They are cuddly, and loyal, fun to have around, and they keep the bed warm. (Not that a warm bed is important to me in the tropics and semi-tropics.) EW is also cuddly, loyal, fun to have around, and he too, (unfortunately down here) keeps the bed warm. But I digress.
When EW talks, I listen, and I respond. Communication is a two-way street and I travel it at warp speed. I can’t tune him out, even if I want to. If EW talks, I listen, and I respond—not always in the way EW expected or in a way that is conducive to effective communication—but I do communicate, dammit!
EW tunes me out. Or, if he is listening to something and decides it doesn’t need a response, he doesn’t respond. On one memorable moment, I said, “Just because I talk a lot doesn’t mean I have nothing to say.” That caused us both to pause and laugh.
Sometimes I want to stand in front of him and wave my hand and say, “Anyone home? Hello?” That isn’t conducive to effective communication, either. That happened on the recent evening in question, and I immediately thought of the Larson cartoon. Fortunately, I didn’t share that thought with him, nor did I get ticked off – because, really, what I was saying may not have been effective communication to begin with. (OK, it was a mini rant that began with “After this, I’m done with (whatever we were talking about) and ended shortly after the sentence that began with “You should…”) Yep. Can we all agree that isn’t effective communication? (And it is sort of reminiscent of the owner’s rant to Ginger.)
EW didn’t call me on it, and he couldn’t argue with me because I was right – in a be-witchy way. (You know what I mean.) He just went about his business and didn’t respond at all, as if I hadn’t spoken. Since I was doing the dishes and he was shutting the boat for the night we weren’t having a face-to-face, look-into-my-eyes kind of conversation, so I was easy to ignore. Me. Easy to ignore. Go figure.
Two thoughts came to me simultaneously:
One was the Gary Larson cartoon. We’ve had two wonderful dogs and I know they heard “blah, blah, blah, COOKIE”. This felt exactly the same.
The second was, “Oh my gosh. What if ignoring me sometimes is the best thing to do?
That can’t be right. Can it?
If it is right, what if I just ignore some things that he says? Instead of taking umbrage and getting on my high horse, as my mom used to say, what would happen if I just let some things roll off my back with no response? No response and no repercussions or left-over gotcha anger.
If he can do it, I can do it.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Turn about is fair play.
None of these phrases effectively communicate my real intention here. In fact, they all contain that “gotcha” feeling. What if I choose to ignore meaningless stuff rather than get defensive and sling back a sharp retort?
“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, Barb.”
I’m all over it.
NOTE: Both photos above are of Jake and Me. Jake was our second lab. Coffee also enjoyed boats and human beds.
We have ordered a new dinghy from West Marine. It’s not likely to be in stock in time for us to get to Puerto Rico, shop, and be back for Christmas, so it will be a New Year’s dinghy. In the meantime, EW has tried twice to repair the new leak in the inflatable floor.
Yesterday, I was not the image of Patience as I waited for the repair to cure so I could go ashore to take photos. In truth, it was time to be off the boat by myself for a bit. EW and I had begun to fall into the old anti-communication habits and we needed a break. He was a bit short with me, I was a bit impatient and short with him, and neither of us was fully listening to the other. That means it’s time for a solo excursion ashore. I was ready.
Well, I thought I was ready.
EW decided that the floor needed more time, and agreed that I could take the dinghy in without the floor. He did ask me to use two area rugs and the yoga mat to protect the bottom of the dinghy (and help to keep me out of the water). So I loaded those into the dinghy, strapped on my camera and jumped aboard. Now that we attach the dinghy safety key to the key for the security locks, I never forget the safety key--without which the motor won’t start—so I jumped in and started her up. EW obligingly untied the dinghy and handed off the line and I headed for shore.
Tum, dee, dum. I’m going to shore. And the motor died. It sputtered, I looked back at it as it stopped and ….. I discovered I’d forgotten to load the gas tank into the dinghy. Of course it was out because EW had to take everything out in order to remove the floor. I knew that. So, there I was drifting toward sea with no gas, no gas tank, and no oars. The seat is broken and we only have one oar, so why take oars?
Dumb and dumber. I let myself drift (like I had a choice) until the dinghy neared a mooring ball, and then I secured the camera, leaned over the bow, and paddled like hell for the mooring. Having tied on, I waited. A short while later a sailboat came into the mooring field, and I thought they were heading for “my” mooring. I called to them, and they pointed beyond me. The woman called back, “Do you need help?”
“Yes, please. My motor died and I’d like a tow to our boat.”
Pointing to her companion, she said, "He’ll be over as soon as we tie on.”
They nosed up to a small sailboat on a mooring and the man jumped into the dinghy to attach their boat to that one, leaving two on the mooring. Then he came over to me. Now, it’s telling that I have few photos of this debacle. I know I take a plethora of photos for any of EW’s “adventures”, but the bottom of the dinghy is wet, and it’s bouncy, and I didn’t want to get the new camera out of its safe bag. Imagine an older gentleman in white shirt and white shorts, driving a large, older inflatable. He deftly secures my dinghy painter to the stern of his boat and asks me to point out La Luna. I did and he turned toward my home. No other words passed between us.
As we neared our boat, I called out to EW who appeared in the cockpit. One glance and his face fell. I knew he believed that he’d have to tackle “Another” Project, but I had no intention of easing his mind in the presence of the kind stranger. “What happened?” called EW. The stranger was facing forward , and I was still behind him, so I put my finger to my lips in the “shhh” sign and EW (amazingly) stopped talking. He took my line and we both thanked the nice stranger, who immediately went back to the two boats.
There I was, sitting in a bouncy, damp, bottomless dinghy, and I looked up to EW who was standing on La Luna’s deck. “I forgot the gas tank.”
Once he stopped laughing and could form words, EW said, “You better blog this!”
So I did.
If the situation had been reversed, I wouldn’t have let EW out of the dinghy until I’d snapped his photo. Unfortunately for him – but fortunately for me—he doesn’t think like that. (Poor EW.)
Here’s a photo of the dinghy taken after I finally made it to shore. Imagine the red gas tank gone, and you’ll see how I set off the first time.
News about EW – my partner and captain.
Early EW. Before my time.
(The photo below is from our honeymoon.)
I always knew he had a magnetic personality. Now he positively glows. As you may remember, last week, I got caught in a storm while in the dinghy when EW was aboard FoxSea, helping them to take her to the travel lift. It was a fierce storm and lightning struck a couple of businesses in the area – and EW was jolted as well. He was standing on FoxSea, holding on to the handle of the bimini and the guard rail on the binnacle. (Both are metal). ”I felt a jolt and it went right through my arms - hand to hand – across my chest. Then I heard thunder. My hands were buzzing and I sat right down. It was quick.” I first heard the story from Vicky, who told me I’d better “watch him.” I have no idea what to watch for – twitching, hair loss, religious conversion.
When telling the story, he takes his hat off and exclaims that his hair turned white. Long pause and then he laughs. (NOTE: When we met over 27 years ago, he was so grey then that I wondered how old he was – I can assure you that lightning did not turn his hair white.) Two days after the strike he was approached at the mall by missionaries who want to introduce him to Jesus. He’s a lapsed Catholic and I think it’s going to take more than one lightening strike for him to convert. Just sayin’. So far he’s not twitching, either.
Color me green for envy. He is in great shape and he doesn’t seem to work at it. We both lost weight at the start of the trip, he continued to lose more weight after Hampton, Virginia. I did not. I’m happy for him, but a slimmer body has presented problems. Before we left he had purchased three sets of swimming trunks in Maine and he’s been complaining that they are now a little loose, but that hasn’t been a problem when we swim off the boat and snorkel. However when he attempted a manly lunge out of the pool at Port Louis Marina, he placed his hands on the edge and launched himself up into the air. The trunks did not follow. EW felt a draft and immediately fell back into the pool but not before he had mooned everyone. I’ll probably have tailor his trunks a bit.
Getting back to above his shoulders, some of you may have noticed that EW looks a bit scruffy in recent photos. Yes, he’s due for a haircut and finally he’s going to go to a barber and get a professional cut – the first since Maine.
But it’s more than a shaggy head of badly cut hair.
EW is growing a beard.
We are past the “Oh my god that’s prickly!” stage and I quite like the feel of it now. It’s a good kind of tickle and very useful. ‘Nuf said.
Though I am clearly affected by this growth on EW’s face and neck, I wasn’t consulted. It took a few days to realize that he did not intend to shave for the foreseeable future. I didn’t have any power regarding this issue, and from chatting with other cruising wives I’ve found that this is a common occurrence – particularly by men of a “certain age”. They don’t want an earing or tattoo so they show their cruising freedom by ditching the razor.
Most of these men have nicely trimmed cruising beards. Once EW’s beard has enough hair to shape/style/trim he says he’s going to do all of those things to make it look good. In the meantime I’m married to Captain Scruffy – and that’s OK. Of course neither of us know how to shape/trim/style a beard. This should be interesting.
The currency of EW. Astute readers will have notice that in the Carnival post I listed the price of the package as $70.00 EW. I’ve fixed the typo, but “King EW” was mentioned, and I think he’d like having his own currency. He may be a scruffy sailor with a magnetic personality, but he’s my scruffy sailor.
If you know this, you can stop now. For new readers ..when we lived aboard year-round in Maine, we were frequently interviewed by local reporters looking for a new human interest story. One of them spelled our last name incorrectly and I was not pleased. When a different paper approached us a week later I was insistent that the young reporter get it right. “He’s an EW Stewart”, I said – with some force. OK with a lot of force and insistence and I may have said it more than once … or twice.
When the article appeared my husband had become “E.W. Stewart Hart” and was referred that way through the entire article as in, “E.W. Stewart Hart is ..” and “E.W. Stewart Hart said ..” So, on Twitter and in my blog, he is EW.
Thank goodness my scruffy, svelte, kingly sailor is a good sport.
Twenty-six years ago today, EW and I were wed at Holy Cross Church in Portland Maine. I became a wife and a step-mother, and had a lot to learn about filling both roles. We all had a lot to learn – and EW and I still work at it. Having been married and divorced when we met, EW at first flatly refused to discuss marriage, saying he was never getting married again. When he proposed, I was so surprised that I asked him if he were serious and threatened bodily harm if he “took it back”. Not the most romantic response, I know.
We both very quickly got used to the idea – in fact I picked out my dress the very next day! EW began to set limits, “I’m not sure that I can be married for life,” he said with a sly grin. “That’s fine”, I said, “but I want a 50th wedding anniversary. Can you handle 50 years?” He said that sounded OK; this morning he (predictably) mentioned that he only had “Twenty-four to go.”
We’ve had our ups and downs – still do, even on the boat – or perhaps especially on the boat – but we’re committed to being married for 50 years and I’ve taken an option on the next 50. Priorities and lessons change with each year, month or day; today I am sure of three things that will help us reach that Golden Anniversary: first, a sense of humor is vital (see above) second, we don’t have to agree, but we do have to forgive; third, sharing a dream and working to make it come true adds spice, excitement, and a reason to make things work.
Many years ago we both attended a course led by Ivan Brunell founder of International Personal Development. We learned a number of techniques that we try to put into practice, though both of us have had times when you’d never know it. Ivan said that if you still get angry about something that happened in the past, you haven’t forgiven the other party, no matter what you tell yourself and others. And you know something? Two smart, creative, strong people will never, ever agree about everything. Relationships create conflict and it’s how you manage that conflict that determines whether you move forward fully or not. That was brought home to me recently as EW and I “discussed” an old issue that was creating new conflict because I couldn’t let go, accept what is, and move on. I’m working on that. It’s my belief that the inability to truly “agree to disagree” and let it go destroys many marriages. I’ll not let it destroy ours.
We are living our dream and that is a wonderful thing to share. Though having a boat and sailing to distant ports was a dream EW brought to the relationship, he made it abundantly clear that he would be happier at sea if he could share that dream with me. Through the years this became our dream and we worked, plotted, read, asked questions, attended boat shows, and visualized our shared adventure at sea.
Last year, late in June, I was stunned when he expressed concern that he hadn’t thought of something exciting to do for our Twenty-fifth anniversary. I told him that he was taking me to sea in a few months – that was excitement enough! Now, one year later we’ve weathered squalls off Cape Fear, fixed the boat in beautiful harbors, met others who were living their dreams at sea, and traveled from Maine to St. Lucia. No life is perfect, no relationship sunny every day, but as I write this with rain beating down on the deck, I know that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, with anyone else.
The view off our stern at Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Not a bad place to spend a wedding anniversary.
Memorial Day is big in my family. When I was growing up my folks ordered plants for the concrete pots on the family grave sites. We'd travel to Athens, Maine for my Dad's family and Farmington, Maine to plant flowers for my mother's family. Frequently, we'd spend time in Farmington seeking the stone of one of our anscestors. Beginning in junior high and continuning through high school, I marched with the band every Memorial Day. We were a consolidated school district and six towns had Memorial Day services, so the junior high would march in three towns and the high school band in the other three - swapping towns every year. As my folks aged, EW and I would travel to Athens and Farmington in their place and some of my best memories are the couple of years I was able to coordinate those visits to the cemetery with those of my cousins and my aunt. As we got more involved in the boat and EW began to work on weekends, I did not travel to their graves as often, but my mom and dad and others who have passed remain in my heart.
Here we sit on the hook in Deshaies, Guadeloupe and this morning a Facebook entry by one of my cousins moved me to tears. I love what her minister said about God Moments. Fran is certainly one of those people who create God Moments for others. To her credit, I know that she felt this adventure was a God Moment for her, as well. Here's Fran's message to me for Memorial Day.
Best wishes to all and please, watch a parade for me on Monday and water some flowers on a grave this week. It counts.
Hello, thinking of you on Memorial Weekend. We have had a 68 year old student minister who asks us to look for the God moments in each day. I had more than my share today and it involves you. I said Barb must be thinking of going to the cemetery but cannot. So as it happens Ken and I happened to be going through Athens today. We were on our second three day (more like 48 hours) part of our 40th Anniversary trip. Ken's Mom has been very ill and we were not comfortable going far so this part of our trip took us to E. Millinocket and Greenville.
Coming home I said wouldn't it be nice if we visit the Huff lot for Barb. Ken did his version of eye rolling and reminded me we had tried this once before and hadn't even found the cemetery. I plowed right ahead; now I had technology on my side. I will call Barb's sister. Try getting the free 411 operator to understand Pat's last name. Well it worked but they weren't answering. So to my new GPS and only one cemetery comes up in Athens. (I found out later there were 3.) The road name was different than "Lena" knew but after our first pass by she found the cemetery for us. Then the non-eye roll again.
Ken: Do you know how many stones there are here?
Fran: But it is quite new and see how many old ones plus I remembered it is on top of a hill.
Ken: And why would I trust your directions? (Barb here: Ken says this with love – some exasperation, but love. I know Ken.)
I see a man about my age 50+ lbs overweight with no shirt mowing. I follow him for a while. Too noisy to hear me. Stand almost in front of him. He shuts down the mower and stops. You have to know we have had about a week + of rain. Grass is very tall and he is trying very hard to get the grass cut before Memorial.
Mower: Huff- which one there are about 30 here? Marguerite sounds familiar. Where is it?
Fran: On a hill.
Mower takes me to about three other Huffs on a hill. I apologize for disturbing him and offer to look on my own.
Mower: But I really want to help you. We don't even have a chart. By now he has put his shirt on and is moving at a good clip over the cemetery saying Marguerite I remember her, I think I helped bury her.
I look up and there is your folks’ gravesite. He insists on waving and yelling to Ken to bring him to the grave before he leaves. As if a slightly hard of hearing person 10 rows away could hear him. Someone had left a very nice window box of flowers. I went to the car. Picture 80+ and we still have winter jeans on wandering all over the cemetery.
Fran: Take a drink fast. Ken Double non-eye rolling and I grab his bottle and mine and empty them in the window box. Now for all the hay on the graves from grass being so long when mowed. Well Ken just happened to have purchased a new rake on our trip. So back I go up the hill and rake. Ken: So what are you going to do with the grass?Fran: How about in the woods? (Barb here: We always put the dead flowers and grass in the woods. Their site is pretty close to the woods. ) He agreed and then we left to go to a convenience store to get some water.
Later, Ken: Good night.
Fran: I will be a minute just writing to Barb.
Ken: You aren't telling her everything are you?
Fran: Of course! We all have our adventures...
One more moment from today, a man whose 86 year old Dad who has had a stroke came up as he couldn't find his grandfather’s grave that his Dad had sent him to find.
New man: Do you work here or are you tending a special grave?
Fran A special one but if you stand in front of the mower over there.........