I Ain’t Raising No Street Walker.

 

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Flashbacks are a funny thing. Funny, not in “ha-ha” but funny in the purpose they serve. And funny because the dividing line between reality and flashback is like the tide; sometimes it’s apparent and other times I’m squinting my eyes wondering, “Is the tide coming in or going out?” Is this a flashback or is this reality? Throw in a bit of Deja vu and things get even stranger.

Last week, two flashbacks converged at about the same time. One flashback was my mother saying, “It is because I’m not raising street walkers.” I was about 12 and had asked my parents if we could move to town. The answer was no.  My other flashback was from when Capt. Chameleon and I sailed from San Diego to Turtle Bay, Mexico. After losing our autopilot the day before, we were taking constant turns at the wheel. Into our third night of crossing, with strong following seas and going downwind at 20 plus knots, being a novice, I was functioning outside my comfort zone (scared!) and the endless darkness was casting a scene. As Captain Chameleon was sleeping I was basically hallucinating at the helm. As though it happened yesterday, I clearly remember believing that on my port side the shore was in hollering distance, and that I was seeing marina lights and boats, and that it was imperative that I dodge crab-pots to sail Seamore Pacific through a tight channel. In reality, I was far from land and my mind was playing tricks. Maybe the delusion of being close to land is what kept me from panicking. Anyway, I’ve carried that scene with me until last week when I instantaneously realized that it wasn’t real! The shore wasn’t close, I wasn’t seeing marina lights, and there were no crab pots to dodge. It was all in my head. In truth, I was fatigued, feeling alone, and fearful of how the boat and rudder lifted out of the water with each rising wave. I was resisting any semblance of being a tiny speck on the dark ocean. Truly, besides the cockpit, the only other things visible were the stars, moon, and an endless silver froth of tumbling sea water. It was definitely a new experience for me.

The flashback of my mom saying she wasn’t raising a streetwalker? That was real. No delusion, except that growing up, I would have given…as my grandmother used to say, “My eye teeth!” to have the chance to live in town, and walk the streets of Marshfield, Missouri- looking pretty like Julie McCoy, cruise director of the Love Boat, or Ginger from Gilligan’s Island.  But instead of living in town, we lived thirteen miles outside of town. Thirteen miles is exactly 68640 feet.  I was over 32,500 steps from the town square. I might as well have been living on the planet of Pluto.

It was funny when these two flashbacks converged…get this…it was last week when I was riding around the town square, perched on a bale of hay.  Yes! Celebrating my 30 year class reunion, a dozen or so fellow classmates rode on a float in the Marshfield, 4th of July parade. We rode past crowds of town folk,  faded buildings, distant places, and hometown streets that sent my mind into motion with a flurry of memories. It only took a city block for me to recognize that I had changed from the girl that I once was.  That there were no marina lights outside Turtle Bay.  And that I’m glad my momma didn’t raise a street walker.  Sorry about that Julie and Ginger.

Flash forward….counting down to January when Captain Chameleon and I plan to return to Seamore Pacific for more Sea of Cortez adventures.  Seriously, no hallucinating this time.

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Dad making homemade ice cream on 4th of July

Dad making homemade ice cream on 4th of July

Summer Bee

Summer Bee

Mom's flowers

Mom’s flowers

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Arrived back in Arizona to find Monsoon had beat us.

Arrived back in Arizona to find Monsoon had beat us.

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Serendipity Dance

At Sunrise.  Coming into Sunrise Aid Station 24 hours into a 100 mile run.

If you get the choice…I hope you dance. Lyrics by Lee Ann Womack. Photograph by Seamore Nautical Spirits.

In some ways, my ITunes playlist resembles my land based closet. It contains more songs than I really need.   I go through phases where I only listen to the same songs, over and over. Then by serendipity a song I haven’t played in a very long time catches my attention and it’s like uncovering a forgotten pair of sandals or an old favorite bikini. I hit the play button and our attachment to one another is rekindled.

The song, I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack is one of those songs that had dropped off my playlist favorites. Back when I downloaded the song, the inspiring words and tempo took the edge off of an otherwise intolerably long, lonesome, and blazing hot Phoenix summer time run.   Preparing my legs and mind for a 100 mile endurance race, the simplest way to log a bunch of miles was to run close to home rather than use time driving to a premier running location up in the cool, crisp air of Flagstaff. But, it was inevitable that 6-8 hours of running in an oven would lead to fixating on quitting. A cool comfortable house with a backyard swim has a mighty pull over gritty, hot, asphalt pounding.   Resisting the voices in my head to skip the miles, go home, and chill out were overcome by the voices of Lee Ann Womack, Jimmy Buffett, Lady Gaga, Guns and Roses, and Cher. Oh, and the boys at Circle K.

A very hot afternoon of running, I stumbled into the store and was greeted by two guys who took a cross eyed look at the sweaty, scarlet faced, salty heap coming through the door. With one finger on the 9 of 911, the other suggested I cool off in the Beer Cave with a Big Gulp of Mountain Blue Blast Power Aid. Hallelujah!  Lee Ann’s words, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance,” were my cue to leave the cave for another round of craziness; reluctant, but none the less willing to keep running.   I credit the Beer Cave and a host of songs for helping me keep it together that summer.

Mexico Photos by Gail 022This summer my runs are too short to warrant time in the Beer Cave; my closet is in need of major organizing; and I’m rediscovering songs on my ITunes playlist. Still replaying the events of sailing Seamore Pacific with Captain Chameleon, from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez, I listen to the words of I Hope You Dance and relate to it differently than I did as a Beer Cave tenant. “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean” is a humble reminder that ME, MY, and I are trivial… at a comical level. There is nothing that I bring to the ocean or take from the ocean that tops another. My affinity for the ocean and a seafaring life is teensy tiny potatoes. Yet, with social networking and the attention that comes with it, I can be fooled into thinking that what I am thinking and doing is super interesting. But it took years for Captain James Cook to map the Pacific Ocean, disclose the discoveries that he made, and receive “great job!” (a.k.a Facebook Like). His life and accomplishments are truly amazing; in the super spud category.Trail

 

So why the deep thought about social networking, potatoes, and the lyrics of I Hope You Dance? Well, just after I found the song buried on my play list, Captain Chameleon and I met up with friends in California for old fashion, face time. Enough Facebook visiting, I wanted person to person visiting. The event was the San Diego 100 mile Endurance Race. A special friend was there to run her fourth 100 mile race and a friend I met through her was also going to be there. It was a choice to be with friends and enjoy life outside the status quo.  To be in Cleveland National Forest at 3 am, looking up at the stars, waiting for frayed, tired runners ascending from a canyon in search of boiled potatoes for nourishment, blister relief, and encouraging words like “great job,” was a rush. I silently thought to myself as I looked around at fellow star gazers, “We are out here dancing to one of Life’s tunes.” Instead of sitting it out, we were here in Cleveland National Forest, under the stars, feeling small beside the ocean.   I don’t own a smart phone so I couldn’t share with the world what I was doing at that very moment. So, undistracted by any gadgets, I simply sat there under the stars, listening for my friend’s voice and shuffled steps to announce her arrival from the canyon.

Until my friend crossed the finish line, I had time to marvel at others choreographing their own style of dance; volunteers, parents, spouses, and children cheering the runners onward. Some danced with experience, others not so much. I came home from our weekend in California with a renewed conviction for simple kindness, simple adventure, and simply being present.Haul it

 

Three days after meeting our friends in California, Captain Chameleon and I drove to Missouri for my cousin’s daughter’s wedding. It was great to be in the presence of family and friends. Facebook time had afforded me information about what was generally going on with each person but I had missed their voices, their expressions, their nuances. At the reception, before things started winding up on the dance floor, I had a rare chance to visit with Uncle Blondie, a quiet, hardworking man who married my Aunt Blondie. The mother of the bride and I were little girls when Uncle Blondie married our Aunt in the city park. We thought the wedding was SO romantic and that Aunt Blondie looked like a princess in her baby blue wedding dress and Chantilly lace veil. Catching up, after talking about blue wedding dresses, and before the evening’s champagne toast, he talked about a recent stressful event in his life and the ire’s of going from working for himself to working for someone else. He referenced a line from Lee Ann’s song; “Where one door closes, I hope another opens” as a belief he holds onto. There you have it…serendipity.

Blades of grass

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Others who I admire for their dancing:

  • My brother and sister-in-law for shuttling their kids to practice and private pitching lessons, and cheering them through hours, and hours, and hours of baseball and softball games. They have beautiful tan lines and great kids to show for it.

 

  • For Maw and Papa for driving 8 hours because their eight year old granddaughter really (really, really) wanted to go to the wedding. She looked beautiful dancing with her Papa. If you ask her what the best part of the evening was, she would say that besides dancing with Papa, she got to talk and dance with the bride.

 

  • Our friends Geo and Ni, they plant trees, a garden, and fruits of love with their 18 month old daughter.

 

  • Our sailing friends Happy Dance and Magic Carpet, both are scattered about the Sea of Cortez. We enjoy reading of your adventures. Unless we see you before then, make room for Seamore Pacific in 6 months.

 

  • Running buddies.  Without them…I’d have sat it out and missed the dance.

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Francis and Henri Matisse

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Nature’s dance

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Drilled Beach Glass

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A Seagull Ate My Homework

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“How is your daughter? Is she excited to be out of school for the summer?”

“Arhggg,” my co-worker replied.

Oh no, I thought. “What’s up?”

“She was making A’s and then stopped turning in her work. She is super grounded, is now enrolled in summer school, and…”   Her life is ruined.

 

The conversation went on for a bit longer, but I had checked out. Still nodding my head in empathy for a mother whose daughter had gone wayward, and half listening to know when to nod, but mostly I was tuning out.   I could relate to her daughter. I had walked in those same flip-flops. There was a time when my better judgment could not possibly let me complete a “busy work” assignment. As a result, here I am 30 years later and my dream of living in Hawaii or New York City never came to be. It must have been because I didn’t hand in those two assignments. Damn Seagull. If he hadn’t eaten my homework, my life would have been different.

DSC01966Like many seniors in high school, I couldn’t wait to get done with school and start living. That last year was painful. However, a silver lining to growing up in the Midwest during the 80’s was that Home Economics and Vocational Agriculture were as important as math, science, and reading. Dreaming of living in New York City as a fashion designer or in Hawaii as a hula girl, I decided to take Wardrobe Planning my senior year. The class was a two for one deal: plan and sew a wardrobe. The bump in the road happened when we were assigned to make a sewing-sampler.  What is a sewing sampler you ask?  Well, I admit my understanding is based solely on what I read in Laura Ingle Wilder’s book, The Little House on the Prairie. So, I chose to pass on the assignment and didn’t really get much information or details about the homework. Not a choice my teacher liked. She threatened me with lowering my grade. I was sorry to make her job rough, because she was one of my most favorite teachers, but I didn’t budge. It was B-U-S-Y W-O-R-K. No one in New York City or Hawaii would give a flip about a Sewing Sampler.

DSC03060Fortunately I was allowed to graduate from high school, sans the Sewing Sampler.   One week later I was enrolled and attending summer school at Southwest Missouri State University. All was well. Finally, I was out of high school and getting a taste of real living. Being on a large campus was exhilarating. I told myself that navigating around a large campus of strangers was preparing me for when I moved to New York City or the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was smooth going until English Comp. 101. Giddy and shallow, the instructor explained that 1/3 of our grade would be based on keeping a journal and handing it in weekly. In the third week of class, I realized that the sole purpose of keeping a journal was to entertain our instructor. Her nosiness was creating busy work for me. Nope. Not going to do it. I got a C in the class and a huge amount of satisfaction for not going along with busy-body work. The next semester I fell into one of the best teachers in my whole academic experience. He was genuine, inspiring, and practical. Besides being a terrific American Lit. Professor, he was a master story teller. He told us stories of his tour of duty in Hawaii and the Pacific Islands during World War ll.

Back to my conversation with my co-worker about her daughter whose life is in shambles for not turning in homework assignments; “She can’t even give a reason for why she didn’t turn in her work!”

I know why. A seagull ate it. Probably the same darn bird that ate my homework. Seagulls, they are pesky and they keep up with the times: pencil, paper, and sewing samplers in the 80’s. Excel, Word, and I Pad in today’s classroom.

SeagullIf you are out there Mr. Seagull, I have one thing to say to you. Thank you for eating that silly sewing sampler and TMI journal.   It’s ok that it knocked me out of my dream of living in Hawaii or New York City. But hey, I learned enough to sew tropical linen halter dresses, and I am equipped (more or less) in formulating complete sentences for SeamoreNauticalSpirits.com. The End.

PS.  Another co-worker this week shared that she grew up  in Hawaii.  I could have sat there all day listening to her talk.  I suppose she turned all her homework assignments in on time.

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From Los Conchas (Puerto Penasco, Mexico):

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Osprey with a fish

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Sitting on the Patio in Phoenix this morning:

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Reflections

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Francis appears just as I pull out dress material:

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Trying to sew

Francis in the middle of my sewing

 

 

Last weekend in Puerto Penasco, Mexico:  We walked along the beach near the Mirador.

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Day sailor last week in Mexico

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No Running Back

beth4Once both feet are outside the door, it’s anybody’s guess as to if the short 3 mile run will free up my thoughts. To keep it simple and because it’s one less thing to have to make a choice about, I always leave my house, turn right and run to the end of the park.  When the park meets the road, I hop from the sidewalk to the asphalt pavement, twisting left, in one smooth Nike leap.  I am now heading south.  Once I reach Circle K, I pause, cross the street, and head home.  Maybe it’s the predictability of my running route, or maybe it’s because I grew up on a farm with two brothers who joined me in “make believe” in the alfalfa fields, but today’s 3 mile run took me back to the day I graduated from nursing school (25 years ago today), then to how much things in nursing have changed, over to Florence Nightingale, eventually to Pitbull, and finally…this is where it gets strange…imagining Pitbull singing about Florence’s accomplishments in the advancement of professional nursing and healthcare improvement.  Sure, I’m bias because I’m a fellow nurse, but Florence rocked it!

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Florence drove change.  She saw the value of making rounds at night to check on her patients, to modifying the patient’s surroundings to promote healing, and to lead a reform for improving sanitary conditions.  She is a hero for saving lives and believed, heart and soul, in the vocation of nursing. Wikipedia Florence Nightingale

Today, it took only a mere 3 short miles to figure out that Pitbull and Florence are a complimentary match.  They understand each other.  The Queen of Nursing let herself imagine what would happened if nurses mixed art with science.  She termed it: The art and science of nursing.  It’s what fuels my passion for nursing. Pitbull on the other side of the century is what I love to dance to.  I appreciate his musical talent.  I smile that often times his vocals and influence are meant for back-up to the main artist, but in the end, without Pitbull it isn’t much of a song to dance to.  Wikipedia Pitbull

When I left the house for my typical 3 mile run, I wasn’t thinking of Flo or Pit, but rather how some nurses in healthcare are dismayed by ever constant change.  I’m challenged with that notion.  Why on earth would one remain in Healthcare and be reluctant over change.  At that crazy moment a new song started and I had my answer….”To understand the future we have to go back in time.”  Pitbull, strutting the lyrics were an easy leap for my highly imaginative mind….he might as well be singing about nursing, the fight against germs, saving patients, and the Lady with the gun…I mean lamp.

Music video by Pitbull performing Back in Time. (C) 2012

Wouldn’t you have made the same conclusion?

 

 

Pictures from the past:

Yardsale find

My Lamp

 

Old vice

Faded Icon

Generational

Wasted Caffeine Fein

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The same yesterday, today…and hopefully tomorrow.

Found on Spring Break

Found this while walking on the beach

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Pretty doesn’t mean perfect

No Shoes No Shirts on Spring Break

Leave your shoes at the beach, please.

Nurse Graduate 25 years ago

Nurse Graduate 25 years ago

 

 

More or Less is More

boat great one!

It’s been 10 weeks since we left Seamore Pacific and returned to work.

Maintaining a healthy balance is stressful and it requires a lot of effort. An attempt at 45 minutes of Mindfulness meditation and prayer, 45 minutes of running, extra time for wholesome food preparation, 30 minutes twice a day for sitting on the patio with Francis, Ruby, and Capt. Chameleon, early to bed and early to rise, consume 8 glasses of water, go to work and give 110% effort, and it’s no wonder there isn’t enough time to complete my core strengthening exercises. That alone is discouraging because my understanding is that core strength helps with resilience and physical balance. What will happen if my core strength fades away? And so I begin to fret on how to fit more harmonious activity into the day. Can’t I just take a pill for this? Like a multi-vitamin is to disease prevention, isn’t there a pretty multi-balance capsule that erases the oxidative damage of rat-race living and fools us into thinking we are balanced? 6 months ago I didn’t fret over such things.   Without hyper fixating on how to create it, it simply evolved. My theory is that less is more and balanced living isn’t necessarily equal parts work and recreation.

The live-aboard cruising lifestyle when it is off the grid, small on space, and slim (emaciated) on spending, seamlessly forms mind, body, and spiritual balance. Want water? It’s easy. Just pull off the settee cushions and wood covering to access the water maker, go topside to hoist a 40 pound gasoline Geri-jug over to the Honda Generator, holding on tight so as not to drop it overboard, then lifting it gently, pour it slow and easy through a 2 inch hole, pausing frequently to peer down the hole and gauge how much more fuel before it overflows. Crank up the generator and water maker, and then pull out a good book to pass time. For the next 3 hours the rumble of the generator, the hum of the water maker, and the disheveled interior sole is salt water becoming 99.9% pure water; 60 gallons for drinking, bathing, cooking, and laundry.   Depending on how extravagant or conservative I am with this precious resource, we will repeat the process in 2 or 3 days.

As inconvenient as it may sound, managing and producing water aboard Seamore Pacific gave us a sense of accomplishment, tremendous gratitude, and respect for natural resources. And without a second thought, the physical work strengthened our body, the reading enriched our thoughts and minds, and the omnipotent power of the ocean made us silly with happiness. We sometimes needed to reach up and slap ourselves. How did we ever get here, living our nautical dream 6 months out of the year? Was it from looking into the eyes of Captain Morgen plastered on the label of his name sake rum, trying hard to imagine the days of rum running via an old wooden schooner? Was it from listening so closely to the melodic ballad about Caroline Street that I honestly could smell the shrimp, the bars, and the air? Or, did I believe that every boat in a marina stood for adventure, balance, and mystery?  More or less, I think it was all of these.

Maintaining balance: Captain Chameleon and I spent the weekend at Corona Del Mar (Puerto Penasco, Mexico) enjoying the wind, sun, and sea.

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Windy

Balance

Good times

 

Beach huts and board

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sail boat

Francis a.k.a. Neighborhood Watch Cat

Francis a.k.a. Neighborhood Watch Cat

 

When Does a Story Begin?

DSC02768I believe stories are remembered and shared because they hold meaning for someone. Sometimes the plot of the story is so significant that it starts the clock on when to celebrate an anniversary. April 24th is the day that Captain Chameleon and I met and it is when our story begins. We met on a dock in the Florida Keys.  He was chilling with a friend. I was tired from being a tourist with a fellow nurse traveler. A little bit like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, the Captain and I stumbled into one another, and low and behold it was a perfect mix. But for the purposes of this discussion, what if I were to start our story the day before Captain Chameleon and I met? When chocolate was a bar and peanut butter was in a jar?
I haven’t a clue what I was doing on the day before I met Captain Chameleon and yet, just thinking about it is thrilling. So many times in life a moment jumps up and takes our attention, stealing all the thunder from the previous day. If I focus real hard, I can remember the weeks that ensued before I met Captain Chameleon. As I recall it, I heard the name Jimmy Buffet for the first time. I discovered Key West, spent a night in the youth hostel on South Street, was invited to dinner on Smather’s beach by friends that I didn’t bother to ask their name, and was just beginning to realize the ocean could be my address.

Tonight, Captain Chameleon and I celebrate our anniversary of the day we met.  We celebrate a day early because it’s exhilarating to think that neither one of us had a clue, a remote clue, that the day before we met our world was about to change.  I would learn how to sail and he would learn about cats.  For this special occasion we selected Styrofoam cups, over our Waterford crystal flutes, to raise a champagne toast to “the day before.”  Ok, so we didn’t actually think, “Waterford? Styrofoam?”  It came down to a long day of work, a desire to celebrate, and no energy to pull out the Waterford and rinse off the dust.
I guess the point to this is that one’s personal story begins even before the first sentence is spoken.  I love listening to  stories and reminiscing over my own stories.  But if I were to compare a story to a Reese’s Cup, I’d say it’s the chocolate bar and peanut butter in the jar that I enjoy the most.

Lost in the moment

Lost in the moment

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In Full Bloom

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Contrast with Yellow

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Missed the Boat

 

S/V Seamore.  Boot key harbor, Florida Keys.

S/V Seamore. Boot key harbor, Florida Keys. ~1999

“I miss the smell of teak,” said Captain Chameleon.

It was 2006.  I should have known that Captain Chameleon was missing our boat from the Florida Keys when he brought home 4 teak benches, 2 teak steamer lounge chairs, 3 teak chairs, and a teak table. Our Phoenix home is just shy of 1500 Square feet.  Where were we going to fit 10 pieces of teak furniture?  Without doing the math, I knew we were headed for heeby-jeebby-vill.  Seriously, how many pieces of teak can fit into an urban desert dwelling?  Not ten.  In hindsight, Captain Chameleon was missing his boat, Seamore.

14 years earlier, I almost missed the boat, so to speak. 1992, it was a blustery February day in Missouri when I accepted a job in Homestead, Florida.  Finalizing the details went something like this…

“When can you start?

“Hmm.  Well.  When is a good time?”

“Yesterday.”

Not the answer I was counting on.  Smack dab in the middle of the semester, I had imagined the phone-hiring process for a nurse (traveler) position would take another few weeks.  Torn between a job in Florida or obtaining a degree in art/design, I opted to withdraw at mid-term and not tarry getting to Florida.  This was my chance to live by the ocean and nothing else mattered.  Certainly not a still life painting of stacked boxes placed a top a velvet cloth. The timing wasn’t great, but it was ok.  It was time to leave behind my studies of light, dark, form, function, and perspective.  Else, I’d miss the boat.

Now, the Captain and I are pretty much back into a routine of balancing work and play.  When people ask about why we took 6 months off from our jobs to go sailing, the question invariably comes up;  “Do you miss the boat?”  Certainly.

It will be several dozen weeks before we return to Seamore Pacific and sail to the eastern shore of the Baja. Until then, I don’t want to miss the boat on urban composting (new experiment), beach glass art, sewing linen halter dresses, family, friends, and work.  Regret would be to return to the boat, untie the dock lines- then realize that we had not spent our time on land wisely; instead of being mindful about the present, we were stuck thinking about the past and the future.

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Beach Glass from Sea of Cortez

 

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Pleasure Boat

 

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Work Boat

 

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Sunset/Full Moon