When Does a Story Begin?


I 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


In Full Bloom



Contrast with Yellow


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?”


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.


Beach Glass from Sea of Cortez



Pleasure Boat


Taylors 8th birthday, 2009 006

Work Boat


Digital StillCamera

Sunset/Full Moon

Thirteen Days To Go.


This year has been surreal.  Thirteen days and then we Ha Ha (Baja Ha-Ha XX) and from there go on to sail parts of the Sea of Cortez.  It was a year ago that Captain Chameleon and I visited San Diego for the 2012 Baja Ha-Ha weekend kick-off.  For two days we walked around Shelter Island for glimpses of boats flying the Ha Ha flag. We attended a seminar for cruisers entertaining the Pacific Puddle Jump and we rehashed to each other, our ‘once upon a time’ life of living aboard Seamore in the Florida Keys.  On the way home Captain Chameleon was all smiles when he inquired if I enjoyed the weekend.  “Yes, if watching other people live their life is fun.”  Hmmm.  It wasn’t the answer he was expecting, but the one that needed to be said.  It was time to stop dreaming and start doing.  There are three things associated with being a hospice nurse that Captain Chameleon has come to expect from me: he gets less than half-an-ounce of attention for colds, scrapes, and cuts; every new mole, bump, or pain becomes a ‘this could be cancer’ trip to the doctor; and a belief that dreams die when not given life.  Captain Chameleon’s kind and ordinary question caused us to reconsider things and make a few out of the ordinary decisions.  So here we are, breathing life into a dream.  This week’s breathing feels like we are running uphill but I’m enjoying it all the same.


Thirteen days to go and we have found ourselves down to the wire on finishing up projects.  Seamore Pacific is in the boatyard for usual boat maintenance. The adrenaline is kicking in and productivity is going up.  Captain Chameleon is a bit weary and stressed at this point.  So, what does one do when the ‘to do list’ is a nautical mile long?  Add slip covering to the list.  Seamore Pacific from the very first look has had a neat vibe to us.  However, the dated cushions have gone way pass nerve grating.  As one would expect, Captain Chameleon popped another Tumms when I casually mentioned getting her cushions re-upholstered.  In all honesty, with the budgeted money flying out the portholes to get her ready to live off the grid, I couldn’t justify the cost and time involved to have all new cushions made.  However, slip covering might be an option.  It was my triple lucky day that within 5 minutes of entering the upholstery store that my eyes would fix upon fabric that had me day dreaming about hitching a boat to Hawaii; and it was on clearance, plus marked down.  All of this joy for $2 a yard.

The silver lining to making slip covers is that oddly, memories of a few teachers from high school broke through the constant zig-zig-zig hum of the sewing machine.  Cutting and pinning the fabric, I was reminded of the velour burgundy suit I made in Mrs. Smith’s Wardrobe Planning class.  Then, out of nowhere came the cautionary words from George, guidance counselor and every student’s buddy, for passing up chemistry to take Mrs. Turner’s Journalism class.  From across the desk his baritone voice bellowed, “You are making a huge mistake.  Huge.”   How big of a mistake, was my unspoken question.  Fine, I’ll live with the consequences.  Little did George know it wasn’t the journalism that I was interested in, but rather the gentle tenacity and gladness that Mrs. Turner brought to the classroom.

Gentle tenacity and gladness are what I’m thinking about these days, as we make our uphill run to October 28th.  I’m glad for many things, including the folks at Shelter Island Boatyard for approaching their work with great pride.  Today they are starting repairs to the propeller, grinding out the few blisters in the keel, drilling a thru-hull for a new depth sounder, checking the rudder tension, and working with Captain Chameleon on the electrical installation of the water maker.   Hopefully, all will be finished by Thursday, bringing our boatyard living to a close.