Monkey Sea, Monkey Do

DSCN0607I cut off my eyebrows when I was four years old.  Asked for a Dorothy Hamill haircut when I was eleven.  And purchased vienna sausages, a gallon of water, and a flashlight because Hurricane Andrew was coming to town; I was twenty-six.  Agree, none were wildly successful moments, but in hindsight they became my stepping-stones to the sea, where half the year Captain Chameleon and I live aboard s/v Seamore Pacific in Mexico, and the other half of the year we live in a house in Phoenix, go to work, buy food, and consider whether our hair is too long.

Some people do well in life by setting 5-10-15 year goals.  They have my complete respect, but I tried that approach once and it felt awkward.  Awkward as in walking on the beach in high heels or sailing a skiff up river.  The Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do approach is natural feeling. An alternative to goal setting and it takes little courage to execute.  One minute there are eyebrows and the next it’s, “look at me mom.”

So how does Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do work?  Well, one day I saw my mom cutting hair and perhaps tweezing her eyebrows and it made sense to combine the two.  It had a long-lasting effect.  My brows didn’t fully grow back until my late teens.  By that time I was years past copying Dorothy’s spins on our kitchen linoleum floor.  Whether it was the drag of sock feet on linoleum or the limp texture of my hair, I never succeeded in getting my hair to lift to the heavens in a spin like Dorothy could on the ice.  Sadly first one, and then two strikes against the monkey.

The third time was a charm though.  On August 22, 1992 I received a frantic call from mom to say;  “There is a hurricane headed your way!  You better leave Miami now. Now, little missy.”  There was actually more to the conversation that I’ve edit out to make this a G-rated blog.  But essentially it came down to my not having any experience with hurricanes. Having moved to Florida from Missouri a few months prior, my interests were in soaking up the afternoon sun, pool side; working the evening shift at Homestead Hospital; and exploring area beaches and dating Captain Chameleon on weekends.  Life was good and it was about to get more exciting.  After hanging up the phone with mom, I headed over to K-Mart to see what others were doing to prepare for Hurricane What’s His Name.

Hurricane Andrew made landfall August 24th.  Just as my mother predicted, I took a direct hit.  Fortunately I wasn’t alone.  On hurricane lockdown at Homestead Hospital, my co-workers and I faired well and I am proud of the work and commaradery we displayed in caring for our patients in the ICU.  Once the eye of the storm passed the National Guard moved in and secured the area so that we could air-evac the patients out.  36 hours after reporting for work, I left tired, befuzzled, and grateful that I was merely a traveler and didn’t stand much to lose. My landmarks were gone.  A new kid in town, I wasn’t sure where I needed to drive to get home. I headed my hurricane ravaged truck north and followed the leader.  Monkey See-Monkey-Do wasn’t so bad after all.  I eventually made it home to find Captain Chameleon.  He had left the Florida Keys to avoid Hurricane Andrew and ironically met him face to face.   Despite the complex being in shambles, under guard, and without power we slept soundly that night.  The next morning I called my travel recruiter to discuss options.  He suggested I head north to Deerfield Beach.  No jobs in the Florida Keys, he said.  Hmmm.  Hmmmm.  Hmmm.  Going north didn’t feel right.  It felt awkward, as in walking on the beach in high heels or sailing a skiff up river.  But, just then I saw a monkey sailing south to the Florida Keys.  My life took a U-turn to paradise and it didn’t take any courage, goal setting, or big bank account.  It was the Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do.  If others can move to paradise, why can’t I?  So I did!  With Captain Chameleon.

That’s my story of how I ended up in the Florida Keys.  I believe with all my heart that I was destined to be in the Keys and eventually I would have made it there on my own (I watched a 60 minutes program on Key West when in high school and felt a connection) but to get there fast, I followed someone and took their lead.

The Captain and I are 4 months and a few days away from heading back out to the boat.  Landlocked, this weekend we reminisced about Hurricane Andrew, pulled out our provisioning list for Seamore Pacific, and briefly chuckled about our long hair adventure.  Captain Chameleon let his hair go long 18 months ago and it looks super great.  Pepper and a bit of salt, his hair is gnarly and appealing.  My hair is also long.  Longer than most women my age.  The Captain likes it.  I like it.  But is it “age appropriate?”  Do I continue with long hair, knowing that many say it’s a sign I’m chasing my youth?  So many silly questions….  All I need to do is what I’ve done so far; Monkey-Sea-Monkey-Do. Here is to long healthy hair at any age!

I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher



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Look & Sea. Photo by S. Baker/ Retirement Legs

The Wino & I Know…


There is nothing quite like it, when a song instantly takes me somewhere.  Somewhere can be anywhere.  Somewhere might be a memory, a distraction, a ‘gee wouldn’t that be neat’ feeling, a catalyst for change, or clarity about something or someone.  10 years of private piano lessons and 7 years of playing a clarinet in the school band did little to move the needle on my musical talent.  But, pop culture music sent me packing.  It was Southern Cross by Crosby, Stills, and Nash that actually got the needle to move.  The needle moved me to Miami and in the path of Captain Chameleon (and Hurricane Andrew!).  Captain Chameleon has a similar story- private violin lessons did little for him other than maybe entertain the notion of cutting off his own fingers so that he could be released from practice.  But Jimmy Buffet songs are relevant and hold meaning for Captain Chameleon.  Like the ice cream man who’s a hillbilly fan, a wino, and a farmer that knows the pain of his pick-up truck rusting- Capt. Chameleon knows the joys of the ocean.  The Wino and I know remind me of Capt. Chameleon’s story of enjoying the ocean; on a 26 foot Columbia he set sail from Houston.  Taking his time along the Gulf coast, he eventually sailed to the Bahamas and then back to the Florida Keys, where we met.

The Wino and I Know

007The water maker for Seamore Pacific just arrived.  A song isn’t coming to mind that offers any real inspiration for Monday’s project of installing our little oasis.  On second thought, having ample amounts of clean water aboard and not dying of thirst does wonders to inspire me.  I can do it.  I can face our next romantic boat project without a song.  Uh, oh.  A song just came to mind…Boat Drinks by my hero Jimmy Buffet.