Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Yoga in the Park, June 21, 6:30 pm, Oronoco Park, Old Town Alexandria

Y'all come! People of all ages and abilities welcome; bring a mat. FREE class. Giveaways. A local celebration of the United Nations-designated International Day of Yoga, held in conjunction with events worldwide on that day.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Sailor's Life: Work Work Work Work Play Work Work

Are we ready yet? What month is it? Is there a Dark 'n' Stormy on board?
Captain Pope and First Mate Amber, getting the boat shipshape and ready to sail out
Holiday Hill Marina in Edgewater, Maryland, on a sunny day in June; sailors working on boats everywhere

The 2016 sailing season is well underway at our marina on the west side of Chesapeake Bay--and I have finally begun to set foot on our sailboat, Echo II. Captain Pope has worked on her almost every day since February, on the hard and later in the water: new rigging, new antenna, new batteries, rewiring radio, upgrading GPS, fixing leaks, engine maintenance, cleaning holds and tanks. He finally took her out in June, for a couple of single-hand races.
All work and no play, as long as it's on his baby Echo II, makes Pope a happy man

Being only the first mate, and a fair-weather and mildly reluctant sailor to boot, I've been on the boat only five times since the boat went in the water in April. My jobs: cleaning mold and stains and bilge, inventory, unpacking from winter storage, provisioning, sewing, hold the wrench or pass the screwdriver for Pope.
Scrubbing ceilings means hours of reaching overhead, soap dripping in your eyes

Laying on my back in the tiny v-berth (remember those blog posts back in Fall 2013 about living aboard a boat?) to get to the tight spots where mold grows thick and black

If you remember from my early blogging days, my fantasies of living aboard a boat in Paradise didn't last long after a few weeks of rockin' and rollin' and cleaning and repairing on our way down the coast toward the Bahamas. It was a lot of work! It's easy to forget when she shines so brightly in the sun, resting calmly on her mooring in Whitemarsh Creek.
Echo II looking bright and shiny with her new jibsail

I like it when she's sitting still! It's the sailing--and heeling--in strong winds that make me cringe and sometimes go below and hide under a pillow.
Why can't I stay calm like this confident mariner? (Because she has nine lives!) Boat cat at Holiday Hill Marina; lives aboard one sailboat but is adept at hopping on and off all of them

Pope will confirm there has been little letup in my fear of boating and sailing. Last week he took me along for a brief spin down the Rhode River in order to clean the bottom in slightly cleaner water. Mission aborted: water too cold. But not before causing me one or two minor panic attacks, though: anchoring near a shoal, anchor chain tangled, scanning the water anxiously for my submerged partner.
Where is the rest of Pope????

Ah, there he is, still breathing but too cold for serious underwater scrubbing!

In return for doing most of the work, Pope has most of the fun. Of course, he loves the whole life; he's a lifelong sailor. Since his father lived on a sailboat (shipwrecked off the coast of Florida with Pope aboard), it's in his blood--unlike the sheltered urban upbringing of his landlubber partner and first mate. He does 90% of the sailing, 85% of the work, and 5% of the worrying (that's my job).

Keeping Echo II on a mooring instead of in a slip at the dock means he also has to travel back and forth in a kayak to shuttle tools, parts, and provisions, bringing the boat to the dock only to pick me up when I come to the marina to help out.

Using a little boat to get to the big boat; who needs weight-lifting when you're carrying 10-pound drills and 40-pound kayaks?

In return for my 10% of the sailing and 15% of the work I get to attend parties. Socializing is a big part of the boating life, and the part that has made my adventures and worries worthwhile. Last week, after a long day of scrubbing in the hot sun, we cooled down with a brew at Eastport's "Latitude Adjustment Party." It was an annual send-off for mariners leaving the next morning for the annual Annapolis-Bermuda race. Cross half an ocean? No thanks; I like being in sight of land.
Don't let the empty tables fool you; these sailors are seriously drinking in preparation for days at sea
Mike Lange's Tiki Barbarians band features an island sound, a la Jimmy Buffett

This weekend, Pope returned from a single-handed race on Echo II with a bent stanchion an a few new bumps and loose screws. And so the work continues. And for what adventure are we, especially Pope, spending these seemingly endless days working, working, working, without pay and mostly without play?

Funny you should ask. Just today, I heard someone mention the possibility of another winter in the Bahamas.

Toddler Shoots Mom; Found Gun in Drawer (Or: A Grisly Adventure Into History)

Today marks a dark day in human history. Another mass shooting. Another indication of the ready availability of weapons of mass destruction of human beings. What struck me as one of the saddest headlines is this one: "The gun used in the Orlando shooting is becoming mass shooters’ weapon of choice."

Is gun violence really increasing at the rate it seems to be? Perhaps. Just as many headlines, however, seem to be about the incidental and, in many cases, accidental use of firearms.

Pope likes to post link on his Facebook page to headlines like "Toddlers have shot at least 23 people this year" (Washington Post). "Churchgoer killed in fight over seat at Sunday service" (NY Daily News). "Tragedy on the highway: Witnesses say child got hold of gun, shot woman driving on Hwy 175" (Fox News). What he probably doesn't realize is that this is not new news!

Folks, hang onto your hat (so it doesn't get "blown away"). To assuage your low humor on this gray day, join me on an enlightening adventure into some historical trivia about gun use, mis-use, and accidents in the United States--a reminder that guns have been a problem for a long, long time.

Flintlock rifles were in use for almost 200 years, from the early 17th to early 19th century; they produced a reliable spark from striking flint, and were easy to make. We have seen them in the movies--slung across a saddle in a Western, brandished by pirates, or drawn in a duel. They are still in use by historic re-enactors and by "black-powder" hunting enthusiasts. 

When I saw this book on the library shelf, I just had to pick it up for Pope: "Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck."
According to the author, Peter Manseau, incidents of guns accidentally causing people grievous harm instead of protecting them--whether inadvertent suicides or bad aim with a hunting rifle--were labeled "melancholy accidents." The accounts in newspapers of early America did not often mention the type of gun. Apparently a gun was a gun was a Gun. Otherwise, however, the accounts were colorfully descriptive and widely reprinted:

We have Advice from Lunenberg, that on the first Instant, a very melancholy Accident happened there. A number of Men in trying a new Gun by firing at a Mark against the side of a Barn, one of the Bullets struck upon some piece of Iron and split it (the Bullet) in two, one piece of which flew to a considerable Distance from the Barn, and upon a contrary line to its natural course, and struck one Dr. Rice (who was travelling the Road) in the Forehead or Temple, which wounded him to such a Degree, that he died about Nine o'Clock that Night. That piece of the Bullet that struck Dr. Rice was found in his Hat, the other piece (which flew quite a contrary way) fell down by the Rev. Mr. Stern's Door where some Persons were standing but did no Hurt. However, Mr. Sterns sent the piece to the Men who were firing, with a desire that they would take more Care for the future.
- As reported February 13, 1739, in the New England Weekly Journal, Boston Massachusetts; from "Melancholy Accidents"
Even in the 1700s, innocent children were often involved, just as they are in the current headline-shouting news accounts:

NEWPORT--Last Sunday happened a most melancholy Accident at the House of Mr. Benjamin Dunham, at the Point Ferry-House, at about half after Two o'Clock in the Afternoon, viz. One of his Sons, a Child about Seven Years old, was sitting upon a Table, at which Instant another of his Sons, a Lad about Fourteen Years old, being in the next room, chanced to take up a Gun loaded with Goose Shot, to view it, when it immediately discharged, pierced through the partition, and shot the youngest in the Forehead, and some of the Shot came out at the back Part of his Head. He lingered till about Six o'clock, and died.
 - As reported October 29, 1765, in The Newport Mercury, Newport, Rhode Island; from "Melancholy Accidents"

We hear from Leicester that on Tuesday last a very melancholy Accident happened in that Town: A Son of Mr. William Henshaw, about 6 Years of Age, and another Lad being in a Chamber playing with a Gun, which they tho't not to be loaded. The Lad put the muzzle of the Gun to the Ear of Mr. Henshaw's Son, when it went off with a whole Charge of Partridge Shot, which tore his head to pieces, and killed him instantly.
- As reported June 19, 1772, in The Connecticut Journal and New Haven Post Boy, New Haven, Connecticut; from "Melancholy Accidents"
18th century hunting rifle; photo from blog of Italian gun manufacturing firm of Davide Petersoli

A century later, reports of such mishaps continued:

A Little Girl Shot--We have just been informed that a little boy, son of a Mr. Evans of Cass county, residing some ten miles south of this place, accidentally shot his little sister. The following are the facts as we have learned them. The little boy aimed to shoot a bird, not noticing his little sister, who was in range of the gun. The ball entered the back and passed out at the breast, dangerously wounding her. No hopes of her recovery.
- As reported on June 14, 1860, in The Plymouth Weekly Democrat, Plymouth, Indiana; from "Melancholy Accidents"

Hunting, of course, has accounted for a large proportion of both deliberate and accidental gun discharges historically--leading to planned and unplanned deaths and, some might say, the hijacking of the Second Amendment to "protect" one's right to kill animals as well as to defend one's self and one's community from invasion.

In the 1800s, the increasing demand for meat, as well as the demands for wildfowl feathers to adorn womens' hats, led to the rise of professional hunters and new forms of mass weaponry.
A single shot from the heavy and cumbersome punt gun could kill as many as 50 birds at once, helping to meet the increasing demand for meat and fashion. The firepower was so great the whole boat would recoil. Punt guns were banned in most states by the 1860s because of depleted waterfowl stocks. Photo from Rare Historical Photos.
The wildly popular feather hat accounted for the slaughter of millions of birds, leading the Massachusetts Audubon Society to successfully lobby for the first federal-level conservation legislation, the Lacey Act of 1900. Photo from the blog Sociological Images by Lisa Wade
There are plenty of vintage hats with bird feathers for sale on eBay and Etsy--such as one from the 1940s with colorful pheasant feathers, and one with a "dramatic feather spray that frames the face" from the 1930s; however, it's not necessary to delve into history to find such hats, because they are still being made: according to her hatmaker, Princess Kate Middleton's creations can take up to three days to make. She wore this one to a wedding.

Among the many and varied reports of gun uses, mis-uses, and accidents over the centuries, there is none as heart-wrenching (yet satisfactory) as those of the just-plain-fools who shoot themselves with their own guns. First, there were the historic fools (if it weren't for the historical newspaper record, I would have guessed this to be a fake account, crying out for debunking by Snopes, on the basis of the name alone):

On the 2d inst. a young man belonging to Waterloo, Monroe co., Ill., named Constantine L. Omelveny, accidentally shot himself. He started from his father's on a gunning excursion, and previous to loading his piece, unconscious of its containing a load, placed his foot upon the lock to raise it, and put his mouth to the muzzle for the purpose of blowing in it to ascertain if it was clear; his foot slipped and discharged the whole contents into his mouth, killing him instantly.
- As reported August 25, 1843 in The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, Louisiana; from "Melancholy Accidents"

And, finally, there are the current, 21st-century fools, slaves to new technology but still fascinated by the old. According to Fox News in St. Louis, people believe that a 15-year-old in Overland, Missouri, died last week after accidentally shooting himself in the chest while trying to take a selfie with a loaded gun. He found the gun on the top shelf of a closet, with no safety catch.

Some things never change.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life": Monty Python

Oh, woe is me (said Job, in the Bible--and me, recently, when health issues left me feeling blue).

Dear readers, I know that aging and suffering from the blues are not the kinds of adventure tales you expect! Thus, I feel compelled to keep the lamenting to a minimum while continuing to regale you with adventure stories (all true) of traipsing around the world with a broken foot, risking my life on boisterous ocean voyages, carrying out retirement projects, perfecting my musical acuity, saving the environment, changing the world, and otherwise pushing the limits of a human's physical and mental capacity. How many Americans can claim that? (In overseas travel alone, no more than 5% of Americans, even in our peak year.)

Keeping that in mind, I nonetheless feel justified in adding a few never-mundane yet somewhat less awesome activities from the past few weeks, all performed while laid up with a foot injury, chronic skin disorder, and...well, you don't want those unpleasant details. You want the tell-all tale: how many worthwhile pursuits and sundry affairs can one accomplish while hobbling around in a boot, if one sets one's mind to it?

1. If you can't dance, sing. Well, OK, this one IS kind of momentous rather than routine. Saturday night I took the stage for the first time to sing Cajun, leaving the partnering and maneuvering and moving around the dance floor to my fellow dancers. Despite my earlier fears of performing I did OK, in my humble opinion, and judging by comments from the audience. Here's a short video clip; longer clip on my Facebook page (may not load in all browsers):

Momentous accomplishment on May 21
2. Plan something fun. Agreed to help organize and publicize a Cajun dance in my Capitol Hill neighborhood on Friday, July 8, featuring our local Cajun band. I plan to make a guest appearance singing one of my favorites. Hope y'all will come.

Flyer by Brendan Bailes 
 Beautiful wooden dance floor at The Corner Store
3. Train. Returned to Results Gym three weeks after foot surgery, sticking to Pilates and weight-lifting moves that work the core and spare the feet. Felt great to be back after three weeks of slouching on the couch.
4. Get cultured. After a delightful repast at the National Gallery of Art's garden cafe, hobbled across the Mall to the Hirshhorn for some mind-popping abstractions. The next day, back on the bus to the Hawaiian festival at American Indian, in honor of the Hōkūleʻa traditional canoe having arrived in DC, after sailing across oceans using only traditional navigation by the stars. Mmm, mmm. I have not previously enjoyed the treat of young, fit, handsome Hawaiian men doing the hula. Nice hip rolls. Alas, must leave the details to your imagination, having forgotten my camera.
Watching over the delighted diners at the Garden Cafe

Robert Irwin's Untitled at the Hirshhorn
The Hawaiian canoe Hōkūleʻa arrives in DC; photo courtesy of Polynesian Voyaging Society
5.  Fix, mend, and repair. Finally got around to gluing my shoe sole back on. Searched the house for those tiny screwdrivers to tighten my glasses (where do they disappear to?). Sewed up the fraying edges on the boat curtains, threaded the machine for Pope so he can sew his sails and racing flags.

6. Polish public speaking. Further tested my appearing-in-public mettle by actively participating in meetings of the Lone Star Toastmasters Club on Capitol Hill.

7. Volunteer. This has been an ongoing theme for 6 or 7 years, mostly as a board member and hard-working volunteer at the nonprofit Yoga in Daily Life center in Del Ray, Alexandria. Tried teaching yoga previously; now focused on administration and event planning (such as the classical piano concerts in February featuring a member of Yoga in Daily Life from Croatia). This month, a lengthy board retreat to work on strategic planning, and preparation of follow-up reports. Make it worth my while--come on down for a class sometime!

Are we done yet? Am I done yet? Why, no. Also cooked, cleaned house, read library books, watched movies, lunched with friends, practiced guitar... even began cleaning out and donating "stuff" hiding in the backs of closets. Whew! My days CAN be productive and fulfilling if I get up off my butt and stop moping around the house lamenting.

Sit still, just because of a little pain and feeling blue? No. Set those blues aside or sing them out! I say. Just around the corner there is something fun, or at least worthwhile, clamoring for my attention. And I owe it to my readers to push on.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Battling My Fears (or, It's All in the Mind)

Last night, the demons caught up with me in the half-century race. The demons of the mind.

Here's what happened: I organized a practice session with musicians whom I have invited to perform with me later this month, at a house party. I had practiced to perfection my set list of tunes--singing and accompanying myself on guitar.
My repertoire of scribbled songsheets

Arrived at the practice, confident and bright. Began to play. And stumbled.

Clearly, I was thrown off by the presence of other people--even a couple of friends that I play with elsewhere. This time, though, it is MY performance at stake. I tried again; started over. Fingers failed to cooperate.
Practicing on Capitol Hill with Pearl on harp and Joel on accordion

What handicap is this, that has plagued me for five decades? The fear of making mistakes. Once upon a time, it destroyed any hope of a professional music or speaking career. (Did you know I studied violin, keyboards, classical guitar, and public relations?) Because there are no second chances in speeches, or in music.

Fortunately, writing is more forgiving--you can revise until you get it right! (That's why I prefer email to phone, FYI to my friends.)

Twenty years of delivering Toastmasters speeches, leading seminars over and over ... and over ... at work, and singing and playing with a group at Cajun jams have boosted confidence. But the verdict is in: still guilty.

Somewhere in the cell signalling sequence, being in front of an audience triggers "fight or flight." My grey cells haven't entirely adapted, even to years of practice.

Beyond public speaking and music, other threats abound. Venture beyond the four walls of my room, and it's a minefield. Some errors are hard to avoid, though fortunately rare in a carefully managed existence. Such as buying a house with hidden problems. (I only did this once, fortunately.)

Others are more frequent and more tangible: Wearing a shirt inside out, or socks that don't match. Losing a wallet. Not selling a stock before it crashes. Breaking a foot by stumbling on a curb.
Hmm, same color but not quite right

You know I am an adventuress (hence this blog). My closest friends know also that integral to all those adventures is driving myself hard, to the point of perfection. Why? To avoid the consequences of imperfection.

Psychologists are very familiar with this phenomenon. It is deeply rooted in childhood, left over from taking a beating for getting dirty or breaking a lamp. From hearing a hundred--or a hundred thousand?--times that my nose was too big and my legs too crooked. From being banished to the corner of a classroom for talking.

Maybe it is also embedded in genes. The odds, however, favor environment over evolution.

A logical plan of action, at this stage of life, is to stop racing the demons down the path of perfection. One option is to accept the inevitability of errors and let go of letting them bother me. A second option is to acknowledge and honor my limitations: Listen instead of speaking, and turn down invitations to lead.

Hmm. That sounds attractive! And easier! And that option logically leads to a simpler, less threatening mode of music: singing and playing guitar in my room, alone. Just as I have done, successfully outpacing the demons, for half a century.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Grabbing It While I Can Get It

A few months ago, when I was feeling blue because of some medical problem, a dear friend, Lisa, suggested going “shopping” online. “You’ll feel better!” she insisted. I took her advice, and it worked. I cheered up. I can’t remember what I ordered that day; however, I suspect it had something to do with svelte black leggings or a pair of size 9 Enzo Angiolinis, because clothes and shoes have long been known to be the magic elixirs for easing all sorts of womanly traumas and dramas.
My favorite flats. Please don't ask me how many pairs I have in my closet...how many times have I sung the blues???
Fast forward to May 5, 2016. Cinco de Mayo. What did you do to celebrate the Mexican tradition today?
I went shopping. This morning, I drove to Arlington to buy a used Martin backpacker guitar from my friend Terry. I was excited to find a high-quality mini-instrument that can be stowed in a plane’s overhead compartment and carried onboard for our sailing charter in Maine this fall. As you may recall, not playing guitar for many months--i.e., giving up a segment of my soul and losing my callouses--was one of the many little sacrifices I made for our Bahamas boat trip.
My new Martin, with full-size strings and a rich, deep tone--not bad for a skinny mini!
That was late morning, about 11:30 am. Later this evening, around 7:30 or so, I resumed shopping. I whipped open my laptop and, in quick succession, ordered a “little black dress” (females will know what I mean by that) from Lands' End, in size Small/Extra Tall; some homeopathic anti-inflammatory capsules from Amazon; three sets of Martin guitar strings, Bronze/Extra Light, for the new guitar; and several re-manufactured black ink cartridges for our Hewlett Packard printer, at one-fourth the price of new ink cartridges--a trick I learned from our neighbor Larry. 
Shopping--for anything, even a simple set of guitar strings, apparently--helps alleviate depression among women, as borne out repeatedly in the very latest controlled scientific studies. At least, it works for me!
Whew. A lot of acquisitions for one day. And to what did I attribute this sudden and intense interest in consecutive shopping sprees? Why, the blues, of course. Because this afternoon, around 4:00 pm, I went under the knife in the orthopedic surgeon’s office. That's enough to make anyone depressed!
Among the repercussions of breaking my foot a year and a half ago, I developed a bone spur and “scarred” ligaments. Today, we dealt with one of the two. The bone spur was shaved--in a technique that I won’t describe because it’s very scary! Hearing about it from the Doc left me feeling queasy and drove me to jam my fingers in my ears and cry out, “Don’t tell me any more! Just shut up and do it!” Even my partner, Pope, got squirrely when I told him. (Oh, by the way, Dr. Ferrell, I'm sorry about the screams; hope I didn't scare away any patients!)
Tonight, I am back on crutches, ice, and prescription narcotic pain-killers.  
Let's dispense with any critiques of the photo quality, ok? This selfie was an especially difficult one to capture--just you try it on crutches, under the influence of narcotics!

No zydeco-ing to Jesse Lege this weekend, I'm afraid. I'll be lucky if I can drive my stick shift, let alone waltz around a dance floor, in the next few weeks. Plus, this surgery followed a couple of other bodily traumas this week: a biopsy for a skin condition, and slicing the skin off my thumb while cutting vegetables. (Am I earning your sympathy yet?)
I could have postponed today's surgery; I didn't go into the appointment expecting anything traumatic, and the doctor gave me a choice: now or later. But I usually find that there's never a better time; there will always be a reason to postpone. And can you imagine what the anticipation would be like, once I had heard that breath-stopping description of the technique?
I don’t get a lot of sympathy at home. Despite his admirable qualities, which include gentleness, generosity, and being an excellent sailor and handyman, Pope is somewhat lacking in the ability to empathize, or feel another's pain. He says he doesn’t believe in whining; that everyone experiences pain, and that whining about it and seeking sympathy is like “grabbing” all the pain for yourself.

I don’t share that view, and am perfectly comfortable moaning and groaning and accepting all the warmth and caring and hugs and prayers that others are willing to share. I'm a whiner by nature. Just ask my friends.
 The door to my heart is wide open this week. Warm sentiments and good vibes welcomed within!

I assure you, however, that it's only for tonight. And maybe tomorrow. Dear readers, you have my solemn pledge that I am only "grabbing all the pain" for a brief moment and that I will not burden you with my whining and pleas for sympathy forever. In a day or so--promise--I will be ready and willing to hear your own tales of woe and suffering and to offer you my heartfelt love and caring. And loads of hugs.

I'll be sure to call you. Just as soon as these narcotic pain-killers kick in.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Spring Fling...or Bahamian Bust?

This blog post is not about me. I am not in the Bahamas. It is mostly about Pope and Albert, some tomato seedlings, and the way relationship can stretch and bend in certain circumstances, depending on the personalities.
First, let me just admit that I am a classic boat widow--that is, a spouse frequently left behind when a partner runs off to a spiritual soulmate of the floating variety.
Yes, it's true. Two weeks ago Pope left me a note on the kitchen table: "Went to see my mistress."  (That really is his handwriting. I am NOT making this up.) Fortunately, I know how to interpret his literary meanderings. He is not racing to burrow his nose into the breasts of a curvaceous blonde; no, he is racing to wrap his loving arms around the mast of a cold, hard hunk of fiberglass. He spent a lot of time with his mistress this winter. He worried about her endlessly, crying out her name in his sleep.
Echo II being slung back into the water after a long winter of repairs
The important point here is, Pope loves sailboats and sailing. He is currently in the sunny Bahamas for a Spring fling, crewing on someone else's boat. I, on the other hand, am enjoying nights out with the girls, wine parties, gym classes, yoga teacher training, Cajun music jams. Lonely widow?? Nah! So which of us is having the more delightful experience? Judge for yourself...
Amber joins other volunteer teachers in training workshop at Yoga in Daily Life USA, Alexandria, Virginia, March 2016
Remember our month in early 2014, holed up at the Rubis gas station dock in Nassau while our auxiliary engine was removed, refurbished, and reinstalled by Albert the diesel magician? Of course you do! Admit it--it was your favorite story; or maybe the only story that kept you from nodding off while slogging through my tiresome blog about misadventures in the Bahamas.
Bidding farewell to Echo II's auxiliary propulsion unit, January 2014; bye bye, see you in a month!
Albert the diesel magician in his shop, ordering essential parts from the US for Echo II, January 2014
Well, what goes around comes around! Is that the appropriate phrase here? Or is it DEJA VU??! As I write this, Pope is holed up at the Rubis gas station dock in Nassau, on a broke-down boat, while Albert the diesel magician is being solicited (skids greased with some Jameson whiskey, most likely) to take a gander at its internal mechanics. Will Pope and his skipper see other islands? Will they snorkel and swim, or even sail? TBD. Pope's latest email: "I have no idea how long we will be stuck here at the good ole Rubis station. Lots of problems."
Not a day older: Albert the diesel magician, still running his shop of miracles (and illusions) in Nassau, March 2016
Divine justice for running off to the islands without me? Poor planning, or poor maintenance? Or is Pope so attached to that old wooden fuel dock with its charter fishing boats and laid-back vibe that it serves as auxiliary soulmate? We did have a good time there in 2014; the gas station manager at the time, Daniel, shared his breakfast, joked with us, let us use the internet, and instructed his staff to unlock the toilet for us at all hours, on request.
Street view of our Nassau home away from home, January 2014
The infamous--and increasingly familiar--dock, January 2014; Echo II is the (only) mast on the left
Thus our respective activities in the Spring of 2016 continue to unfold. Now, about those tomato seedlings: while Pope shoots the breeze with Bahamian gas jockeys and Albert's assistants, day after day, with the potential for becoming week after week, he moans that his newly planted tomato, pepper, basil, and parsley seeds in the little brown pots in our front window could die without their "parent" to nurture and nourish them. His lament: "They need love. Without me they are screwed." Well, I can only do my best. Every day I water them, gaze fondly at them, puzzle over how to keep them alive, and even sing Cajun songs to them. As far as I can tell, they are not yet screwed.
As you have probably figured out by now, Pope and I have a strange yet wonderful relationship, able to endure interesting twists and turns that could never even be conceived of by normal people.