One of my tugboat man’s many ukeleles…he makes music in the wheelhouse during those long and lonely midnight watches.
Preparing for Santa Tugboat Man’s arrival this evening — I’m busy busy busy baking and cleaning AGAIN.
Such is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife.
Looking through old pics, I found this one of Angel Boy with our best and smartest Border collie, Stella Rondo, named in honor of one of my favorite writers, Eudora Welty, from her short story, “Why I Live at the P.O.”
Was there ever a more adorable fashion-forward little boy?
This is what it’s like being married to a professional mariner who’s also a surfer.
My erstwhile and often absent tugboat man is trying to program his work schedule for the rest of the year based solely upon future winter swell forecasts, and NOT about being home for the holidays.
On his regular daily call, I was forced to listen to a thirty minute diatribe (while he’s studying a calendar) about these pressing issues:
“If I come home now, I’ll miss the next swell but if I stay a bit longer, it’ll put me in the perfect position for that potentially big December surf.”
Nice to know I’m such a high priority in his thought process, right?
Welcome to my world, friends.
And don’t even think for ONE MOMENT that I’m not contemplating either jewelry or a new dress that will look FANTASTIC with those new Loubies I’m getting because of his previous infraction.
When my tugboat man goes out to sea, communication is limited to email and cell phone, and even that depends upon what part of the world he’s in. Sometimes, there’s no cell at all and I’ll only occasionally receive a call from the vessel’s sat phone. And sometimes the boat’s computer stops functioning and I don’t get email. And that’s when I start to worry.
Since he’s a fairly quick learner after twenty-plus years of training, he tries to call or email at least once a day, the obligatory “I’m still alive” type of thing. Read more about that HERE (if you don’t call, I think you’re dead, and that’s why I’m getting a pair of Loubies)
Every so often I attempt to spice things up and venture beyond the boring…here’s a verbatim transcript of pretty much every call,
“Hi, honey, what’s up? How are you today, did anything break down, is the car OK, anything come in the mail for me, anything I need to deal with, what’s the surf like, and oh, by the way, I miss you.”
it’s a definite struggle to maintain that thread of mystery and personality in a three-minute call or a few words tapped in black on a sterile white background.
A lot of the time, one or both of us’ll say, “I got nothing else” and the other will say “I got nothing, too” and then my tugboat man’ll end with “Lock and load” which is our secret code for “don’t forget to turn the security alarm on before you go to bed.” always ending with “Love you” and “Love you, too”
So far, this this time he’s been away for about thirty days — he’ll HOPEFULLY be home before Thanksgiving, which totally sucks ‘cos I thought he was gonna be home by Halloween. Nature of the biz and all that.
To try to inject a little fun into our convo yesterday when he called, I asked him if he was sitting down ‘cos I had something really serious and important to tell him:
“You might want to sit down ‘cos I gotta tell you something that might shock you and I don’t want you to faint.”
(It was a total set-up.)
He gets this super cute, super serious tone in his voice,
“What is it. Is everything OK?”
And then I hit him with the shocker:
“I washed the car today”
Maybe y’all don’t get how earth shattering that news is, but you have to trust me that it could cause hub’s heart rate to skyrocket and blood pressure to explode.
I don’t like to spend the $$$ or the time to take it to a car wash and I don’t EVER wash it — I mean EVER — but there I was in the driveway with a bucket of soapy water and a hose.
With neighbors watching in case hub needed witnesses to this miraculous event.
He laughed so hard it was totally worth it to wash that stupid car.
And then there was more.
“Are you sitting down?”
“For reals? Where are you?”
“In the wheelhouse, but we’re tied up at the dock right now.”
“‘Cos there’s more.”
“I went to a gas station and filled the tank with gas.”
“Oh. My. Gawd. Stop the presses. Was it running on fumes? Had you depleted the Reserve tank like you usually do?”
“Nope, I had about a quarter tank, but I drove by a gas station with cheap gas, and thought it’d be a good idea to take advantage of it.”
“Shocked, huh? Speechless?”
“I’m more shocked that you actually thought to fill it up before you were stranded and forced to call triple A; that’s the part that’s boggling my mind. But good job! You go, girl! I’m proud of you!”
And that’s how we keep our love alive around here, or in other words, how we torment our husband and have a little gentle fun at his expense.
Just another day in the life of Princess Rosebud and Her Tugboat Man…
And so it begins…
Tugboat man withdrawals. Cold turkey.
I took him to the airport at 4:30 a.m. yesterday.
Once again there’s that lonely ride home.
This time he’ll probably be gone for a month or so.
I pointed my camera straight up because the sky was so blue, more blue than I’ve seen in a long time. Not a cloud in the sky.
And nope, I can’t go with him, in case you were gonna ask.
Sky blue, SO BLUE — can you believe this is an un-retouched pic I snapped in our backyard? Kind of heart shaped, can you see it? If you tilt your head just a teensy bit to the left, can you see it now?
My old friend, Willie Nelson, singing “Blue Skies” by Irving Berlin
Yet again, I’m preparing to drive that arduous forty minutes to our airport to pick up an arriving tugboat man.
This is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. They’re always going or coming.
Here’s a snippet of our conversation last night:
Me: “I had to put gas in the car.” (Imagine that I said it in a reproachful manner, kinda whiny, cos it’s a chore I HATE and tugboat man usually does it for me.)
Him: “Well, I hope you at least filled it, ‘cos I’m sure the only reason why you fueled up is because you were on empty.” (In a slightly know-it-all voice.)
Me: ” You are so funny. NOT. I did NOT fill it up. I only put in about twenty dollars, ‘cos I got bored standing there and plus it’s not my job. It’s stinky and dirty. And yes, Mr. Smarty Pants, it was on empty and I would’ve run out on the way to the airport to pick you up so you can see it’s all your fault.”
Him: “I just don’t get you. If you’re there with the pump in the tank, would it kill you to stand there for an extra couple of minutes? It’s only logical, right? Makes sense, right?”
Me: “Logical? Me? Who do you think you’re talking to?”
Although he was gone the entire week, continually bemoaning the fact that he missed the giant surf, this time he wasn’t out to sea.
Did you know that professional mariners need to attend lots of continuing education classes?
That involves everything from keeping up with USCG (United States Coast Guard) licensing requirements, enhanced security procedures, managing a crew, practicing medical lifesaving techniques (because captains are the medical officers onboard tugboats), fire safety and prevention, and radar.
There’s lots more but I can’t remember it all right now.
This time he was learning and being certified in something called Dynamic Positioning.
He often trains with simulators; probably this time, too. I forgot to ask, ‘cos our conversations mainly consisted of his whining and moaning about missing out on surfing epic waves.
Here’s a bunch of random words strung together in sentences that makes absolutely NO SENSE to me whatsoever, but is a detailed explanation that I hope y’all comprehend. (‘Cos I surely do not.)
Dynamic positioning (DP) is a computer-controlled system to automatically maintain a vessel’s position and heading by using its own propellers and thrusters.
Position reference sensors, combined with wind sensors, motion sensors and gyro compasses, provide information to the computer pertaining to the vessel’s position and the magnitude and direction of environmental forces affecting its position.
The computer program contains a mathematical model of the vessel that includes information pertaining to the wind and current drag of the vessel and the location of the thrusters.
This allows operations at sea where mooring or anchoring is not feasible due to deep water, congestion on the sea bottom (pipelines, templates) or other problems.
Dynamic positioning may either be absolute in that the position is locked to a fixed point over the bottom, or relative to a moving object like another ship or an underwater vehicle.
One may also position the ship at a favorable angle towards wind, waves and current, called weathervaning. [Source: Wikipedia]
Confused? So am I…
This is a simpler explanation that even I can understand:
Sometimes when a tug is working on a project rather than simply being underway from point A to point B, it needs to stay in one specific location and not float around. DP is an advanced method to hold a tug stationary.
That was your lesson for today. There will be a quiz at the end of the day. :)
Have a lovely Friday!
I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.
There’s a very good reason for this.
I almost burned our house down and my husband’s firefighting training was the only impediment to potential disaster.
One very tranquil evening last spring after dinner, I lit every candle in the bathroom adjoining our bedroom and proceeded to take a leisurely shower. There were candles on the countertop, candles on the bamboo shelf above the toilet, and candles on another floor shelf unit.
Normally I extinguish them when I’m finished, but this time I didn’t because the room looked and smelled so lovely.
Wearing a black silk kimono and feeling quite frisky (if you know what I mean) I went out to the family room and snuggled up on the sofa to watch the Daily Show with a glass of merlot and hubs.
After a bit, he took the remote and muted the sound.
He cocked his head like he was listening for something (he looked very puppy-like and cute LOL) and said,
“Do you hear that?”
Me: “Hear what?”
Him: “I think I hear something in the bedroom, or wait, did you leave the water on?”
Me: “No, I didn’t. What do you hear?”
Him: “You’re not making popcorn, are you? Do you smell anything?”
Me: “Nooo….no popcorn, I can’t really smell –wait, I do kinda hear something, I wonder what… ”
Suddenly, he takes off running toward the bathroom and I stand up but I swear, I’m totally paralyzed, I can’t move a muscle to follow him or anything. (I’m not a real take charge kind of girl in any emergency. I’m the one whose limbs turn to stone. I don’t react. Don’t count on me.)
So…the next thing I hear is a lot of “Oh sh***t” and “F**k F***K F***K F***K!!” and things crashing, and for a split second I think someone broke in and they’re fighting.
It was soooo crazy.
I’m still standing two rooms away and my feet are like in cement; I mean I know I should DO something, but I just can’t. I can’t even move to the phone to call 911 or anything.
Then I heard the sound of the shower being turned on and sizzling sounds. I was finally able to triumph over my fears and pry my feet loose, and tiptoed toward the bathroom.
What I saw was a disaster. The bathroom was filled with smoke; smoke was beginning to fill the house (later we figured out that the smoke alarm’s battery had died.)
My personal fireman hero was soaking wet — apparently the noise I heard were his huge biceps ripping the engulfed in flames bamboo shelf off the wall and tossed in the shower. What a hero! He had the presence of mind, not to mention the strength, to prevent a major tragedy.
As you might imagine, fires on boats are a potential catastrophe, and professional mariners constantly train and drill in the event of a fire in the engine room or anywhere else on board. I know that my mariner takes it very seriously, and I am SO glad.
Watching him in action was very reassuring (and VERY sexy).
Here’s what happened…
One of the candles was on the bottom shelf of the bamboo unit above the toilet and next to the shower. The heat from the flame ignited the shelf right above it, which also had a candle going, and that in turn ignited the shelf above that and finally the whole thing was ablaze with foot-high flames, searing the ceiling, coating it in a horrible black smoky sooty mess. The ceiling stayed too hot to touch for hours, and it was just plain luck that the attic didn’t explode in flames; it was that hot.
The burning bamboo set off little flaming arrows of fire all over the bathroom, burning the floor, the rug, and everything it touched. Cleaning the bathroom was a nightmare. There was congealed candle wax covering every surface, including the shower and the countertop, the sink, the mirror, and even the ceiling. It took forever to scrape it off.
The burnt bamboo shelf
This wasn’t my first brush with a candle-related disaster, however.
We have an entertainment unit in the family room that has beautiful glass shelves.
I lit a candle on the bottom shelf (déjà vu, right?) and left the room (déjà vu again, right?) and we heard a sound like an explosion, ran in, and found shattered glass everywhere. The shelf must have heated up and cracked. Wow. Everything on the shelf crashed and broke, too.
The replacement shelf had to be custom-made, and the expensive lesson learned that time was not to light any candles under glass shelves.
But I guess I didn’t learn the ENTIRE lesson or I surely wouldn’t have walked away from a roomful of candles!
I am ever so grateful that hubs did not bring up the previous incident as I felt bad enough without being reminded of my carelessness.
So…it’s no surprise that I avoid any candle lighting until my personal fireman is here.
Before he leaves to go out to sea, he forces me to perform –fire drills. (Head OUT of the gutter, people!) I think it’s more to make him feel better about leaving and hoping that I have the tools and knowledge to act appropriately in an emergency.
Well, that’s probably not going to happen.
The fire extinguisher is in the garage, and I know he’s shown me a zillion times how to make it work, but I don’t remember a single thing he says. Considering that my response time isn’t so good, the darn thing is heavy and unwieldy and it’ll be next to impossible to react at all when my feet are pinned to the floor, unable to move — I guess I’ll have to be content with a picture of a candle until he comes home.
That is NOT a rhetorical question. Or is it?
Duh, whatever, the answer is a resounding “NO!” unless it’s being the recipient of a gift…or multiple gifts sent by an absentee husband.
I realize that most of the time I’m talking to YOU as if you know all about ME, and for those that aren’t familiar with the backstory, here’s a brief overview…I’m really and truly the wife of a tugboat captain, a professional mariner, a proud member of the Merchant Marine.
He goes out to sea and I stay home. And shop. And clean. And glue seashells. And shop. And go to the gym. And did I already say shop?
I am an unashamed shopaholic.
And while there’s really nothing better than a daylong shopping spree, finding a box of treasures delivered by my friendly postman is equally exciting.
While I’ve been caring for my son and helping his recovery from emergency life-saving surgery and then discovering that the sparkles in my left eye were due to a retinal tear, not diamonds or rhinestones even (so unfair) — my tugboat captain husband had to leave and go out to sea.
Yup, he left me and to add insult to injury, he departed ON MY BIRTHDAY. At least he had the foresight to take me shopping at Bloomingdales before he left so that I could pick out my special birthday gift, a pair of Chanel sunglasses that I LOVE LOVE LOVE.
Because he was unable to be here for the laser surgery to repair my torn retina (fingers crossed that it was a success) as he’s in the middle of one of our oceans (can’t say where exactly), but he had a couple of hours in a foreign port (can’t say which one) and what did he do with his free time? He bought his Princess Rosebud a whole bunch of presents ‘cos he knows how to bring a smile to my face and a sparkle (not that kind) to my eye!
You can kinda tell that he’s somewhere beachy, somewhere maybe hot and possibly Pirates of the Caribbean-y?
Jewelry!!! You can never have too much, right? One butterfly bracelet in happy oh-so-bright colors. This will look gorg with a maxi dress and a sexy suntan, don’t you agree?
Now it’s time to resume being Cinderella and scrub the floors…my tugboat man is on the final leg of his assignment and should be home at Casa de Enchanted Seashells before the 15th. Yay!
U.S. Merchant Marine had highest casualty rate during World War II, yet received no GI benefits…
The U.S. Merchant Marine has rarely received its due recognition in helping the Allies win World War II, although mariners were the first to go, last to return and suffered the highest casualty rate of any group that served.
One in twenty-six mariners was killed in World War II; by comparison, one in 34 Marines was killed.
The first American victim of Axis aggression was not at Pearl Harbor, but a Merchant Marine ship two years earlier.
By the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, 243 mariners had already died from Axis attacks on the ships that shuttled materiel to U.S. allies already at war.
The Merchant Marine suffered its own Pearl Harbor at the Italian port of Bari, Dec. 2, 1943, when a German air attack sank 17 Allied merchant ships with a loss of more than 1,000 lives. The attack released a cargo of 100 tons of mustard gas bombs.
The conflict claimed 8,300 mariner lives at sea and wounded 12,000. At least 1,100 of those wounded succumbed to their injuries.
One in eight mariners experienced the loss of his ship, and more than 1,500 Merchant Marine ships were sunk during the war.
In 1942, on average, 33 Allied ships went down every week.
Until the middle of 1942, German submarines were sinking merchant ships faster than the Allies could build them.
Many of the crews who perished in these sinkings were blown to death or incinerated. Thirty-one ships simply vanished without a trace.
These casualties were kept secret to avoid providing the enemy with information and to keep supplies flowing to soldiers. A soldier at the front required 15 tons of supplies. Most of those supplies moved on ships.
Who were these 250,000 seamen who kept these supplies moving?
The volunteers ranged in age from 16 to 78. Many, like Tom Crosbie of Saybrook Township, dropped out of high school to serve their nation. They were often rejected from other branches of service because of a physical defect – one eye, heart disease, a missing limb.
It was the only racially integrated service during the war.
The end of the war was not the end of their service; 54 ships, including one on which Tom Crosbie was serving, hit mines after Japan and Germany surrendered. President Roosevelt, upon signing the GI Bill in June 1944, suggested “similar opportunities” would be provided to mariners.
That hope died when Roosevelt passed the following spring.
Mariners were denied everything from unemployment to medical care for disabilities. It took years of court battles for the mariners to finally receive partial veteran status in 1988, too late for many of those who had served.
They continue to seek full, official recognition for themselves and their spouses.
In honor all of our United States Merchant Mariners, and especially my very own tugboat captain..we are so proud of you!
Presidential Proclamation — National Maritime Day, 2014
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…A PROCLAMATION
America’s open seas have long been a source of prosperity and strength, and since before our Nation’s founding, the men and women of the United States Merchant Marine have defended them. From securing Atlantic routes during the naval battles of the Revolutionary War to supplying our Armed Forces around the world in the 21st century and delivering American goods to overseas markets in times of peace, they have always played a vital role in our Nation’s success. During National Maritime Day, we celebrate this proud history and salute the mariners who have safeguarded our way of life.
Today’s Merchant Marine upholds its generations-long role as our “fourth arm of defense.” Yet they also go beyond this mission, transporting food where there is hunger and carrying much-needed supplies to those in distress. Thanks to our dedicated mariners, people around the world continue to see the American flag as a symbol of hope.
To create middle-class jobs and maintain our leading position in an ever-changing world, we must provide new marketplaces for our businesses to compete. As we expand commerce, we do so with confidence that the United States Merchant Marine will keep our supply lines secure. Because just as America’s workers and innovators can rise to any challenge, our mariners have demonstrated time and again that they can meet any test. Today, let us reaffirm our support for their essential mission.
The Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day,” and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2014, as National Maritime Day. I call upon the people of the United States to mark this observance and to display the flag of the United States at their homes and in their communities. I also request that all ships sailing under the American flag dress ship on that day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.