On The Way To Yellowstone: Princess Rosebud And Her Tugboat Man

This summer, we embarked upon an Odyssean journey to fulfill my life’s dream of seeing the wolves of Yellowstone National Park.

It was an amazing ten days of a ife-changing, life-defining adventure, made bittersweet by the current slaughter of wolves in America.

Hub was the driver; I was the navigator, photographer, and keeper of a journal chronicling the three-thousand mile round trip.

We returned home and hardly had time to unpack and reminisce about what we saw and experienced when my merchant mariner got called back to work sooner than anticipated.

Such is the life of a tugboat captain’s wife…

Photos of magnificent peaks near Zion National Park on the way through Nevada and Utah.

roadtrip2 roadtrip1 roadtrip3……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Stop Wolf Hunts Now

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Ghandi

POETRY: Ebb and Flow

serene-ocean-and-vast-horizon-under-cloudy-skyWith my tugboat man so far away somewhere in the vast, vast ocean, I’ve been reading a publication my son sent to the tugboat man as a birthday gift.

Lapham’s Quarterly / Volume VI / Number 3 / Summer 2013

Title: Sea Change
“Standing on shore, we struggle to understand its fury; Lewis Lapham explores the mystery and power of the sea.”

It’s a lovely publication; a compilation of sea stories, excerpts, and poems from Homer to Melville to Marquez to Conrad.

I discovered the beauty of this poem and yeah, I’m missing that big tugboat guy just a bit.

Ebb and Flow

 

Vacuum, Mop, Paper Towels, Wax, and Windex…Do You Know What This Means?

What did YOU accomplish this past weekend?

This is what my Saturday and Sunday looked like…h-armstrong-roberts-woman-with-mop-and-bucket

  • Washed, ironed, re-hung curtains.
  • Washed all the windows; inside and out.
  • Moved all the furniture in the family room, waxed the tile, put it all back.
  • Vacuumed and then wiped sofas and chairs with a barely damp cloth.
  • Dusted and polished all the furniture; piano, and way too many shelves displaying my bounty of seashells.
  • Cleaned out the refrigerator.
  • Started a grocery list. I don’t eat much more than smoothies, hardboiled eggs, salad, and hummus.
  • Created a computer folder of favorite recipes; definitely making Lemon Meringue Cupcakes  – they were THAT good.

fireworksDo you know what all that hustle and bustle was all about?

I’m sure you’ve guessed it by now--my tugboat man’s coming home! 

After six weeks; forty-two  LONG days and nights.

Not sure what day exactly, hopefully before the 4th —  fingers crossed anyway.

The remaining days are set aside for welcome home decor and THE VERY IMPORTANT personal maintenance that MAY have been lacking whilst my mariner was out to sea. (Sometimes there is no better word than “whilst” which implies a certain wistfulness, don’t you agree?)

I don’t know if this is how other wives of mariners feel, but I seem to miss him most just before he comes home. It’s like the “missing” part gets put on hold until I know I’m going to see him again.

A little Carole King and James Taylor “So Far Away” is perfect right now.

http://youtu.be/urt2cy7AqFs

And how ’bout some INXS “Tear Us Apart”

http://youtu.be/Vr-I5xX_BFk

And yup, I confess, I missed that big surfer — A LOT…The Carpenters “Close to You”

http://youtu.be/6inwzOooXRU

Burning Down the House–The Story of My Tugboat Man and Fire Drills

pier-1-scented-seashell-candlesI love candles. I have candles covering virtually every surface in every room of our home.

I don’t light candles while my tugboat man is gone.

Not anymore.

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.

OH -EM-GEE.

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

burned 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.

entertainment unit

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.

candle

Four Reasons I shouldn’t have left the house today

funny-grumpy-cat-meme-monday-goodTugboat Man Update…
Day 19: That’s how long my tugboat man’s been gone. He’s been out of cell phone range for more than a week which means I haven’t heard his voice, but the satellite email works, so I’ve been sending him all the news about Boston and the earthquake in China and the avalanche in Colorado, along with a daily surf check to let him know what he’s missing — including me, of course.

It was a weird day to be out and about. Here’s what I’m talking about:

Reason #1plumbers crack 1

My neighbor is driving me cray cray with his second childhood. OK, it’s getting warm enough here in SoCal for shorts and flipflops and stuff, but I wasn’t mentally prepared for the shorts-only look that greeted me when I stepped out my front door. Picture a sixty-something slightly overweight man wearing ONLY a pair of delightfullly low slung shorts bending over his hot rod.  I’m not talking plumber’s crack here, I’m talking the whole damn Grand Canyon. His wife must have been absent ‘cos all weekend long he had his male friends over and they were playing with their stupid cars, revving them up, moving them around, screeching up and down the street like teenagers. If this is the buttcrack of male menopause, my tugboat man better watch it. I won’t put up with any of that shizz, I can promise you that.

Reason #2

I had a few errands to run which is really just a roundabout way of saying I wanted to go shopping at my fave secret consignment shop where I’ve previously come away with the treasure of a vintage Valentino. I’m kinda sorta looking for a new outfit to wear out to lunch on Wednesday with a few ladies from Generation Fabulous so I tried on a bunch of clothes –nothing, nada, yuck. I guess it wasn’t in the stars today. I just HATE when I come home with nothing. My life has no meaning. Only kidding.

Reason #3

text some cardIs is ‘cos it’s Monday? Is it ‘cos the sun is out? Who knows what the reason is, but drivers were absolutely horrible today. Texting, on the phone, making turns with barely one free hand, speeding, cutting me off, tailgating, straddling two lanes, running stop signs, almost running over a pedestrian  – geez, it’s the Wild Wild West out here, y’all. You’re taking your life in your hands if you’re on a bicycle, too. I drove along Carlsbad Blvd. observing several close calls with cars and bicyclists in the BIKE LANE. Who needs helmets? You need full-on body armor around here if you ride a bicycle. Check out the articles below — it’s dangerous.

And then I came across the crazy car, which is Reason #4 that I should have stayed home.

crazy car carlsbadThis car is always parked in a different location in and around Carlsbad but I never see anyone with it or in it. The messages are never the same but this is the first time I’ve noticed a website: thatgreencar.com  Tell me what you think. It’s a WordPress  blog!  I’m still shaking my head. This is one of the comments: “`Who are you? What are you on? What dream world, 5th dement-tion are you from??? You are reeedicalous!”

How was your Monday? Was it manic?

Countdown to Sexy Time – Part One

My fall–not from grace but off the counter–didn’t slow me down, but it certainly kept me on terra firma for the remainder of my pre-tugboat man welcome home preparations.

I thought you might like to accompany me on my journey of self-imposed indentured servitude over the last couple of days:

  • Washed the windows, inside and out, including taking the screens out and washing them.
  • I paid special attention to the patio door tracks. I hate dirty tracks, don’t you?

    Window Washing

    Tools of the trade: toothbrush, skewer, bleachy stuff, glass cleaner.

  • Mowed the lawn
  • Reseeded the lawn
  • Cleaned out the pond, filled it with water, and plugged in the pump
  • Trimmed the vines on the arbor which involved standing on a three-step ladder but I was very careful. :)
  • Washed our deck with a mop and Murphy’s Oil Soap; it got messed up during our rain last week. (See, it does rain in SoCal!)Rain in SoCal

I have a great vacuuming tip…
Before a special event like my always gone husband returning or guests are coming, or you just want a lovely smelling home, saturate a cotton ball with your favorite scent. It could even be vanilla extract or lavender, but I spray “Chance” by Chanel on the cotton. It’s a bit extravagant, but lasts a long time. The next step is to actually vacuum up the scented cotton ball and commence vacuuming! Your entire house will smell absolutely delicious. You know how the bag can get that really icky smell? The scented cotton ball freshens the bag, too!

Tugboat Man Update:
It’s less than forty-eight hours until I leave for my billionth trip to the airport. His flight arrives Thursday at 3:15 p.m. I’ll have to leave at 2:30 or a bit earlier if there’s traffic.

Stay Tuned for Part Two on Wednesday
Baking and perfumed sheets…I bought him a couple of shirts for a welcome home gift and I’ll be hauling out the welcome home signs.

Smooth sailing? Not always.

The Continuing Saga of Princess Rosebud and her Tugboat Man

Day 30…thirty days and thirty long nights since my tugboat man has been away.

He’s on the move–closer to land–and his cell works! He called last night. Other than the five minute satellite telephone call on our anniversary a couple weeks ago, this was the only time we’ve spoken. It was so unexpected. What a surprise to see his name pop up on my screen!

I always ask the same thing, “When are you coming home?” The answer this time was the answer he usually gives me; he doesn’t know, it could be now or in a month. “…you’ll be the first to know.” Dry humor.

The unpredictable life of a mariner

Some mariners have a regular schedule: three weeks on, three weeks off or two weeks on and two weeks off or even a month on and a month off. In the world of ocean-going tugs, there is no such certainty. One of my captain’s recent assignments was estimated to last  two months and it dragged on for a full four months due to several factors–including weather related issues.

Weather

There’s always weather. Right now, the project he’s on has had a lot of weather delays. If there are storms, high winds, and high seas, it’s neither prudent nor safe for a tug to proceed, and that entails a wait or what they call “on standby” until it clears.

What do you think about that? Do you think that uncertainty is a relationship hardship?

Things weren’t always so idyllic for us.

Did you think it was?

Before we met (at the company where we both worked), the captain had plotted a career move to Hawaii. His goal; good surf and work, probably in that order. Our company was setting up operations in Hawaii and he was tapped to head up that division.

Guess what? A year later, he left. He did. He really did.

I do kinda still hate him for that sometimes…wouldn’t you?

I took him to the dock and had to say goodbye. I mean a real goodbye, maybe a forever goodbye; he had packed up all his belongings and they were on the boat with him.

It was horrible at the time and it makes me sad now thinking about how I felt that day…so alone and bereft.

Us–we–it didn’t end. Over the course of several months, we visited back and forth a half dozen times. I was unhappy with the whole situation–I had done my work, made my list, and he was IT. Hawaii’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love paradise–but that wasn’t part of MY plan.

Oh yes, he was IT for me but I couldn’t figure out how to persuade him to move back and allow our relationship to blossom. I was running out of options.

What if he met someone else?

One day I had just had enough. I was sick and tired of having a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not boyfriend. It wasn’t what I wanted. And do you know what I did?

I changed my telephone number.

That’s just the way I roll. My home number was a landline and I called the telephone company and changed it. I figured that when he called, he’d get the recorded voice saying, “The number has been disconnected and there is no forwarding number” and he’d become so distraught when he couldn’t reach me that it would be the catalyst he needed to come running back to me!

MotorolaPager

I didn’t have a cell phone. I had a beeper, a pager–remember those things? Now I think only drug dealers use them LOL. He had one, too.

I waited for him to beep me. I waited all day. I was DYING to know if he had TRIED to call. This was 1992-ish; email was in its infancy–I don’t believe we even had a home computer, and the computers at work didn’t have internet access.

This is the funny part.

I started power paging him; over and over again. I mean, like twenty times, thirty times.

WITH MY NEW NUMBER.

I went to so much trouble to change my phone number and I couldn’t wait twenty-four hours. When he called, I asked him if he had tried to call the old number and he said he had (still not sure of that) and asked why I did something crazy like that. I can’t remember my response–I WAS crazy at that point.

[The quick end to that story is that I flew to Hawaii the following weekend and from there we went to Kauai and he said that I had wasted my time changing my number because he had already come to the conclusion that he couldn't live without me and he didn't want to live without me and he proposed and came home for good two months later and we were married nine months after that.]

Fast forward to yesterday’s phone call.

After we said our initial hellos and all that, I asked him,  “Do you ever get worried that I”ll change the number again and you won’t be able to reach me? Like when you’ve been gone a really long time and I’m getting tired of it? Like NOW?”

Him: (Laughing) “Not really, or if you did, you’d just call me right away to give me the new number like you did before.”

HA HA.

Now he’s turned into a sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not HUSBAND. The difference is that he always comes home–to me. Oh, and his paychecks come here even when he’s not. Hee Hee.

Final Words

It cracks me up when I hear “Somebody That I Used to Know“.  Gotye sings, “No you didn’t have to stoop so low. Have your friends collect your records and then change your number“…

Another Grateful Monday along with a Sad Goodbye

Monday

In the midst of the cyclone that is this house–the detritus of planning and packing for my Merchant Mariner’s long assignment–it’s as good a time as any to share a little gratitude, this time to everyone who submitted recipes for the “last meal”.

It was dark and extremely foggy when we made the thirty-five minute drive to the airport at 5:30 a.m. It takes a day and a half for my tugboat man to reach his ultimate destination, and he was worried that a delay could mess everything up, but he just called to let me know he arrived at the first leg of his journey with enough time to catch the next flight.

I should be cleaning but I’m sitting on the sofa watching Jewelry Television based out of Tennessee. It’s fun to watch the low budget sets and extremely nasal Southern accents of the hosts. I promise…just five more minutes and I’m gonna start on the mess. Do I really NEED 3.20 carats Round Mystic Topaz stud earrings? Do I? They’re $39.99. I think NOT. Really. It’s a little too soon to justify any retail therapy.

Sunday

WTF??We walked to the beach before the Superbowl–a six-mile round trip. This is what the sun looked like. WTF???

I snapped a pic of this nasty little rodent, perhaps a cousin of the ones who tormented me in the backyard.squirrelbeach

When we got home from our walk, I prepared Guapola’Stuffed Mushrooms  and Benzeknees  Spinach Salad along with Guacamole and Vegetarian Refried Beans with Flax Seed Chips from Trader Joe’s. He loved all the yummy food!
stuffedmushrooms spinach salad

Many thanks to Running on Sober for her eggplant recipe and Marsella’s Book Ends potato salad recipe. I’m saving those for hub’s welcome home dinner. 

OK, the dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, are they?
A little tugboat music…

Sir Isaac Newton: The Universal Law of Gravitation

AppleGravity…and other Laws of Nature.

  •  What goes up must come down.
  • The sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
Sextant (source-Wickimedia.org)

Sextant (source-Wickimedia.org)

  • The earth revolves around the sun, which might be true for you and me, however, in my husband’s world of celestial navigation, the SUN revolves around the EARTH. 

That’s right! A paradigm shift! Just for you!

With regard to celestial nav, you would take the opposite view–you see the sun move from left to right–or right to left–depending on one’s perspective.

In order to properly take a celestial sight of the sun, you need to treat the sun as if it were revolving around the earth! (The captain used to teach celestial nav, so if he says it–it’s true.)

My World

And in MY world–as you’ve prolly realized–in this world that revolves around ME,  there are my very own Laws of Nature.

  • Just like the tides ebb and flow, my tugboat man will come and go.
  • As Archimedes‘ Buoyancy Principle is true for water and solids, it’s also a truism that a tugboat man who comes home must go out to sea again.

All the things that were new are now done in reverse.

The welcome home becomes the farewell.

That first apple pie becomes the last apple pie.

veuve clicquotThe first flute of Veuve Clicquot to toast the end of a journey becomes the last glass raised of leave-taking and hopes for a safe voyage.

The hello kiss becomes the goodbye hug, holding tight as long as possible.

It’s that time once again–being the wife of a tugboat captain–one half of a married couple who are apart as often as they’re at the same latitude and longitude.

Sigh…

Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, line up! Yoo hoo, Pinterest, I’m calling you!

I was inspired by other topnotch decorators who so kindly blogged about their DIY Christmas tree masterpieces.

In fact, I was so inspired and so thrilled to be stuck here all alone for the millionth time during the holidays that I created a masterpiece of my own, just for you, my loving internet family. S

o, Cousin Fur and Aunt Cheeky and Second Cousin Far Removed Tracy F for Fantastic, this one’s especially for you guys.

As I looked around my house, the elliptical seemed like it had the best “bones” to adorn.

Plus, it had a ready-made beverage holder!

I didn’t have any Maxi-pads or other feminine hygiene products–’cos THAT ship has sailed–if you know what I mean. {Hey cool, a nautical reference jauntily tossed in. Damn, I’m good!} 

I added a toilet paper garland, a couple of Sophie Kinsella novels, two glittery seashell ornaments, a bottle of wine in the beverage holder, a white plastic poinsettia, a few EMPTY gift bags, and a festive plush Hello Kitty toy.

You can’t really see it very good, but there’s a chocolate bar too, which I luckily don’t have to share with anyone! I’m such a lucky girl! This is the best use I’ve found for the elliptical. Hanging freshly ironed shirts on it is a close second.

Carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in. Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical decorated elliptical