A recipe and a request…from a tugboat captain

The wonderful FurFiles (meow!) is back from her Jamaican vacation, and it’s about time!  I’ve missed her astute blogging and pithy commentary, like the many ways I can exact revenge on my tugboat man should the need arise.

ex=lax signNo, I’m not going to put ex-lax in his food. Not this time, anyway.

Ms Fur has furrily requested the recipe for another version of carrot bread I made last night, loosely based on a recipe from my 1970s Laurel’s Kitchen cookbook.

I’m not the magnificent artist of decor and whimsy like Judy at Petit4Chocolatier  nor do I possess the versatility of (bakery owner in another life) Tonette of tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily but I have my most consistent success with everyday, homey, mom-like healthy breads, apple pies, lentil cookies, and black bean brownies.pastry bag and tips

Confession: I’ve been known to wield a mean pastry bag to build roses with tip #12 and #104 on flower nail #7 (as well as shells and garland)  but I save that skill set for special occasions only.

A Schwarzwälder kirsch kuchen similar to one I made to celebrate my son’s graduation.

Black Forest Cherry Cake

Black Forest Cherry Cake dripping in kirschwasser

 

First the request...I’m conducting an interview of my resident mariner for a future post. In the wake of today’s ferry accident in New York and other recent vessel related incidents, it seems timely.  

Anything you’d like to know?

I’ve tortured used my not inconsiderable powers of persuasion to convince my tugboat man to put up his surfboard for a moment and consent to an interview. The convincing involved all sorts of things like I need to wear nothing but a pair of six-inch heels and red lipstick and must refer to him as Most Exalted Master Seaman, but that is my cross to bear, not yours.

It was his idea to take requests from my readers in the wonderful world of blogging and Twitter and FB and I agree that’s a great idea–which should prove to doubters (and children) that hubs does have an independent thought once in a great while.

He’ll entertain queries about maritime-related stuff, what it’s like being married to me(!), technical stuff about boat handling/boat restoration, marlinspike seamanship,– ask away!

Certain things can’t be revealed of course, but he’ll do his best to answer all questions. He’s a USCG certified instructor, so you know he’s got the cred and he’s not just another pretty face.

You’ll discover the funny side to life as a seaman–they have a weird sense of humor–creating witty rhymes such as, “It’s not gay when you’re underway…” [urban dictionary]

I’ll credit the question with a link or you can remain anonymous–your choice.

And now for the recipe….carrotraisinbread2 carrot raisin bread

Carrot Raisin Bread
It’s moist and delicious with a rich texture! The difference is in the process. Try it and let me know what you think about it. Hubs loves it!

Ingredients
One cup grated carrots
One cup raisins
3/4 cup honey (I didn’t have a lot of honey so I used 1/4 honey, 1/4 agave, 1/4 brown sugar) Maple syrup would be yummy, too.
One teaspoon each: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Two tablespoons vegetable oil
One egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, not sure how to do the conversions.
In a medium saucepan, cook carrots, raisins, honey/sugar, oil, and spices in the water for about ten minutes. Let cool. When cool, add beaten egg and mix well. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and add to wet ingredients. Pour into one or two loaf pans depending on size. I made mine in one large loaf pan. Bake for about 45 minutes but check carefully so it doesn’t over bake. Let cool before slicing.

 

Just a Cup of Coffee – Part Two

Just a Cup of Coffee…the true love story of Princess Rosebud and her tugboat man.

Click to read Part One HERE

(This might take a while, grab your hankies, it could have been broken up into three parts, but I didn’t want to prolong the happy ending.)

Fast forward to a year later, the following September 1991.

Yes, I kept my promise; no dates and no mistakes. There was the excruciating lure of nubile and suntanned young surfers but I stood firm in my resolve in spite of the half naked, salty-skinned–oh crap. Living in Southern California is sooo like opening up a fresh box of candy. It wasn’t fair, but a deal’s a deal.

box of chocolatesIf only I could have had just a teensy-weensy bite here, a bite there–oh, SO yummy–that one has a caramel center, or that other one’s coconut-filled, or a tart juicy cherry embraced by dark chocolate, or full of Baileys Irish Creamer–you get what I’m sayin’?  I’ll just bet you do. On my towel, surveying the beach, I wanted to take a little bite out of each one, so to speak.

But….I had to go cold turkey and avoid them all. Not one lick, not one taste.

I had a goal, I had a vision; I had my list–clenched tightly in my hand–WILLPOWER–it’s all about the willpower.

Here’s where serendipity might have had a hand in the convergence of our lifepaths.

In the beginning, I THOUGHT I first laid eyes on the captain when I was hired for the marketing department of a local cruise line.

Aside…because the whole idea of me and boats is a joke. I’m not what you’d consider sea-worthy. I’d only been on a couple of boats previously and became violently seasick on both of those trips.

OK, now read this – could it be the hand of fate that brought us together? Was our eventual connection forged a decade before ?
_________________________________________________

Was it luck or serendipity? 

On a romantic evening In front of the fire with a couple snifters of Courvoisier, my tugboat man and I concluded that our paths did cross, not in a prior life, but…

In the 1980s he captained a charter vessel in our local harbor–tours of the bay, dinner cruises; that kind of thing.  

In between going out to sea for four to six months, he’d come back to SoCal for a break and to surf-and worked locally.

Around that same time, my mom and I took my then five-year-old son on his first boat ride, a tour of San Diego Bay.

At that time, there was really only one boat company that offered daily excursions.

It wasn’t until we had been married for probably ten years or so– looking through an old photo album–when he saw a pic of my mom and me on “his” boat — that the subject came up.

(That’s part of me and the Coronado Bridge. Obviously, my mom couldn’t take a decent pic.)

Since there were only two captains, and the time of day we were there was during his (remembered) shift, it’s highly possible that we spoke–or made eye contact. As captain, he always greets and counts the passengers while he collects boarding passes; especially because we had a child with us. Always concerned with safety, my captain.

Our ships DID, most likely, PASS in the night (day).  

What would have happened if we had talked? I was married with a little boy–the timing was absolutely not right.  

Did we each hold on to a momentary glance or imprint on our subconscious so that our path to romance was pre-determined? 

Why did I become employed at a cruise line when I don’t even like boats?

I still have no idea.

That we met in 1991 and felt an instant connection might be interpreted as luck or serendipity. 

Which do you think it is?
_______________________________________________________________

Back to the story:  Was it merely coincidence–meaninglessly simultaneous occurance–or  synchronicity?  We agree that it was meant to be. We’re two peas in a pod, me and him.

We mirror each other.

One of my first marketing duties was to attend a downtown trade show. I vividly recall my ensemble–and before you get all judge-y and everything, let’s take the year into consideration–1991–please be kind.

You know you looked exactly the same.

You KNOW you did.

I wore a short split skirt (dare I say skort) of silky polyester-type material (I know, I know) imprinted with brightly colored parrots (cringe), a turquoise blazer, and four-inch-high red heels. Oh, and they were LARGE parrots.  I’m five-feet-tall with very curly dark brown hair. You can imagine the style when I tell you it added five inches to my height. Nuff said–stop laughing, I have nothing to apologize for; it was the decade of big hair.

The owner of the company walked by our booth and introduced me to his senior captain. I played it cool; I’m good at that–just a quick handshake and then I turned my attention to the marketing materials like I was very, very busy.

I only allowed myself a passing glance his way, committed as I was to making a good impression on my boss. Plus, I was fully dedicated to my promise to celibacy and just because he was ADORABLE was no excuse to give in to temptation. Not even with those green-gray eyes. Not even.

Since I was on a “man diet, I transformed him (in my mind) into a rich chocolaty truffle chocolate truffleand successfully used my powers to resist–at least on that particular day. During the next few weeks, our paths crossed many times; at the office with brief hellos in the hallway, and with overt scrutiny during cruises when I accompanied some of the charters. (When I wasn’t stuck with my head in the toilet. I told you the truth, I’m not a natural seawoman.)

As much as I tried to deny it–I can’t lie–there were those familiar little tingles, goose bumps even, delicious frissons of attraction. On one hand I was fighting it with all I had, yet on the other hand I spent more time in the office than I really needed to.  A little extra makeup, perfume, a few new outfits–you know how it is. OK OK, I admit it! A smile from him did something to my insides, that fluttery butterfly sensation I willed myself to ignore.

I carried The List in my handbag and referred to it in moments of weakness, and for a while I was able to avoid temptation.

Here comes the good part, y’all.

In mid-November, I met with a client at one of the boats to plan a large corporate event. As we walked up the gangway, I discovered the captain was on board in the wheelhouse. I had no idea he would be there, and resolved to ignore him, except that everyone always wants to meet a captain, (too much Love Boat) so I was forced to be polite and make the introductions.

Here’s where it all went wrong-or right-depending on your point of view.

After my meeting ended, I did not immediately leave. I stalled, meandering around the small area of shops located near the harbor. I was so mad at ME; I tried to talk myself into leaving by going over The List and telling myself that I should be writing up the event details.

Just GO, I said to myself! But guess who didn’t listen? I found myself furtively looking around to see if the captain was still there. Since the whole chocolate visualization thing didn’t seem to be working anymore, I turned him into as a gooey, cheesy, spicy pizza and I used all my willpower to stand firm–to stay focused–recounting all the reasons why that delicious piece of heaven is not worth the calories.

I swear to you, I had every good intention of leaving and driving to the corporate office, I really did, but cosmic forces had grabbed hold of my good sense.

I was powerless. The hand of fate had me in her grip–and that chicka had been working out with the heavy weights.

Finally, I could find no further excuse to drag my feet and delay the inevitable departure.

I very reluctantly and slowly walked to my car, parked in front of a coffee shop, and as if by magic, the captain appeared.

I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant in spite of the fact that my heart was racing.

“Where are you going? Why didn’t you say goodbye? “What’s up?” “How about buying a co-worker a cup of coffee?”

I demurred, saying I had to go, I had another appointment (not true); uh, I don’t buy guys coffee, and he kept badgering me,

“C’mon, don’t be stuck up, don’t you have fifty cents for a cup of coffee?”

(That was before six-dollar lattes and Starbucks on every corner.)

“You don’t want me to think you’re a snob, do you?”

[pause]

That did it.

Of course you understand why I wouldn’t want him to think any of those things, right? RIGHT? It was a matter of pride; once he turned on his charm, I was hooked. I unearthed a few quarters from the bottom of my handbag.

Yes, I bought the coffee. It’s something I can’t believe myself.

My other credo had always been, “Princesses don’t pay. Men pay.” But buy the coffee I did.

Honestly, I was borderline pathetic. Not even borderline. I was hanging on to the cliff with my fingertips.

It’s like sparks were flying off his body. I made every excuse in the book to lean over and oops, accidentally brush his arm and cop a sniff. He smelled heavenly.

It’s that damn pheromone thing. I was–still am-hopelessly–magically attracted. He’s irresistible. And he knows it.

We took our coffee outside and sat at a cement patio table. It was one of those perfect SoCal November days–balmy even. For a few moments we said nothing as we sipped from our coffee and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.

Red lights flashed on and off in my head.

DANGER AHEAD! STOP THE MISSION! RUN!

Less than a foot away from me he straddled the half-moon shaped concrete bench. His thighs were encased in soft worn jeans and my thoughts were heading into hazardous waters.

His hair was wet and looked like he just had showered.

“What are you doing here? Did you know I was going to be here?”

“No, I didn’t, I had to update the logs, and I surfed a bit earlier.”

Ah, that’s where the wet hair came from.

“So…you’re a surfer?”

That is most definitely NOT on my list.

“I like to think I am.”

Scintillating conversation, huh? I thought that was a bit arrogant, a bit–AHEM–cocky.

Later I learned that he had spent much of his youth in Kauai and he really was/is a great surfer, but I didn’t know much about him — only what I was feeling.

As the conversation unfolded and we chatted–he told me where he lived and where he had gone to college, and–those thighs, oh wait–no, not that–of course I meant what kind of music he liked and that he loves animals–I found myself listening to his voice but not hearing the words.

This is where it gets weird.

And pinky-swear, it’s all true, it all happened exactly like this. It was REAL.

He looked at me and smiled.

I felt lit from within.

My heart melted. (Even now, his smiles affect me the same way.)

I sighed. He sighed. I sighed again.

That was IT.

Everything became quiet and a calm-before-the-storm sensation enveloped me. I placed my hands on the bench because I was suddenly lightheaded–I needed support because I felt like the ground beneath shifted;  waves that triggered that falling phenomenon just before you completely succumb to sleep–like a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch.

Faintly, I sensed the planets tumble into position, the clickclickclick… of stars aligning in the heavens; the sun, moon, Venus, and Mars at that moment were singing in the universe.

Did we just have an earthquake? I jumped off the bench like it was on fire. I ran to my car, unable to deal with the intensity of the moment. He was right behind me. He was so annoying!

“Where ya  goin’? We  should go out sometime.”

I was having a hard time breathing and fumbled with my keys as I unlocked the car. I leaned against the door for support and turned to him,

“When? Tonight?”

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not known for being subtle.

“I have to work a charter later, I’ll give you a call.”

And with that, I drove off.

Of course, I never went back to work. Who could blame me?

I raced home and power-called all my girlfriends.

I was in panic mode.

I reported every detail to one friend after another. I needed advice, I needed explanations. I needed to be talked down. But no one had experienced anything comparable. No one knew what to do.

I was on this voyage alone; no rules to follow. I was in uncharted waters.

That evening I did what we are warned not to do, what mothers counsel daughters against.

I was nervous and jumping out of my skin, but also determined to be 100% honest (also on my list). How else would I know if he was “the one”? I called and left a message on his voicemail. Remember way back when we used voicemail?

“Hi, can you give me a call when you hear this message? There’s something I need to ask you.”

He called a couple hours later. I was  on my bed, reading a magazine, pretending I was not waiting for the call…dreading the call.

“Hi there, it’s me. I got your message, but I was planning to call you anyway. What’s up?”

I took a deep breath and decided it was now or never–I needed to go for it…take that chance. DO it.

”Uhh, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about what happened at the harbor…I never felt anything like that EVER, and I think… I think…”

I took a deep breath and the words tumbled out,

“IthinkIamfallinginlovewithyou
andwonderifyoufeelthesame
way–orifitisjustme.”

“I mean, I really need to know.”

[Pause]   [More pause]

Oh boy. In that single, painful, heartstopping moment I wished I could hit delete and erase the last five minutes.

Palms sweaty, heart pounding, OMG, I am a total f-ing idiot–what have I just said–I’m insane, he’ll think I’m a freak or I’m exhibiting psycho pre-stalker tendencies–and then, finally, it seemed like hours of silence had gone by–I was gonna hang up and hide under my bed if he didn’t say something–he said,

“Umm, no, it’s not just you. I’m feeling the same exact way. Something happened to me today too,  and I can’t explain it either.  How about us going on a real date and let’s talk about it?”

I released the breath I hadn’t been aware I was still holding. That last planet locked into position.

I discovered my soul mate, my tugboat man.

There’s lots more to this story; some twists and turns and ups and downs, but the thread that ties it all together is how we found each other and fell in love.

Today: I wait for him to come home. And wait. And wait. And remind myself, “Don’t count the miles, count the I-love-yous”

Christina Perri, “Miles”

All I want for Christmas is you…and a credit card with a high limit.

While I’m hard at work on a new post–or maybe it’s a chapter of my book...please enjoy the musical interlude.

 

It’s a dedication–of sorts–to the physical representation of the disembodied voice of my tugboat man. And while the lyrics might say, “all I want for Christmas is you” and that IS true in an existential way, it’s not the only thing I want for Christmas/Hannukah. Yes, I did get my Chanel Grand Shopper Tote, I mean, I could hardly represent my hood without it. Yo. But now I need the matching wallet. And although the GST is a roomy, serviceable day bag, I still very much need the 2.55 with the gold chain for all of my sparkling evening events. Which right now is zero, but once Tina Fey realizes that I am going to be her most prolific, witty, banter filled writing and producing partner, then I’ll be showing up at all the MAJOR parties. Maybe, just maybe, if I’m very, very good, I’ll be able to negotiate with my tugboat miser man and work out a mutually satisfactory deal, if ya know where I’m going with that. Wink. Wink.

P.S. And if you’re thinking to yourself…well, try this…imagine me imagining you with a thought bubble, “Is she really this shallow?” and maybe you’re getting a bad taste in your mouth about this whole “enchanted” person and her apparent obsession with Chanel and shopping, what if I was just a really good writer–but I’m a seventy-year-old MAN–or what if I was really the mariner, and I’m the one on a tugboat, and I have a scruffy blondish/silvery beard and all the boy parts and this is my secret persona–WHAT THEN, huh? Paradigm shift? Could be, ya never know…

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Here’s today’s Daily Prompt Challenge: Hindsight.  Now that you’ve got some blogging experience under your belt, re-write your first post.

This is MY deja vu–my first blog re-do–obviously my life is a deja vu redo Groundhog Day repeat. The captain was gone again, I was alone for a very long time…I’ve learned to use tags since then–maybe THIS time it’ll get read! 

My First Blog Post

“…We sail tonight for Singapore, don’t fall asleep while you’re ashore” Tom Waits

Day 60: Alone again! It’s 8:00 p.m. on a Sunday evening and I just completed a copy editing assignment for a brilliant young neuroscientist. Since my first pink lock and key diary at the age of eight, I’ve filled notebooks and journals with my thoughts and observations, and even minored in creative writing in college, but the hardest thing in the world for me to do is to let go of my own words. (I’m a word hoarder. Hah!)

Update: Now I’m a word spewer–since I started blogging, I can’t STOP writing!

Although I easily re-write and proof and edit the work of others (and love to do it), my own words seem to be trapped somewhere; I am never quite satisfied with the finished product; I always feel that one more re-write is always needed—just one more, and then another and another–and I am determined to overcome this obstacle by blogging about my life as a wife of a Merchant Mariner. To other MM wives, I’d love to share our experiences, problems, frustrations, and solutions. There are thousands of us around the world—let’s create a community and help one another. What do we all do when our guys are gone? In what ways do our lives change when they’re away on assignment and when they’re home? How do we cope with the work-related absence of a spouse, whether it’s due to the military, MM, or any other career that involves a lot of travelling? Are you sad? Maybe relieved sometimes, if you were to be completely honest?

Update: Still hoping to create the community of Merchant Mariner Wives. I’ve met Snipewife who’s awesome, but there has to be others! Come out and play! 

Also, from time-to-time, I will review either a product I’ve used or a book I’ve read and share my opinion. I have great things to say about Sally Hansen Smooth and Perfect nail polish. I have it in Satin 04. It claims to hide ridges and imperfections with a “breathable porcelain-smooth finish.”  The website says it’s enhanced with ginseng, camellia oil, and lotus to promote stronger, healthier nails. I was really impressed with the finished product and it really does give a professional look. I’m going to try it in other colors and will let you know. Update: it worked great, very shiny, lasts a decent amount of time, and is inexpensive.

Here’s a mini-version of my back story: I’m a (was a) stay-at-home mom; when my son left for college, I stayed home. Don’t you think that’s funny? I do. That’s my standard joke/response when I’m asked what I “do”. Some people think it’s funny, some people think I’m obnoxious. Story of my life.

I’ve been married to a Merchant Mariner tugboat captain for about eighteen years, nineteen in February 2013. For the first fourteen years or so, our life was pretty ordinary and except for a few assignments that took him away for a week or so, his schedule kept him working in local ports.  In 2009, he changed companies and became the kind of Merchant Marine who goes out to sea for extended periods of time and travels to the four corners of the globe. When I tell people that my husband is a MM, most either think he is a “Marine Marine” or they don’t know what a Merchant Mariner is or what they do. My guy is an academy graduate (he won’t let me say which one ‘cos he’s paranoid that someone will figure out who he is) and has been working in the industry since graduation.

merchant marine sealWhat exactly is a Merchant Mariner?? For those of you who don’t know, the United States has a fleet of  Merchant Marine vessels,  ships which are owned and registered in the US and fly under our flag, but are separate from the military. (We are proud supporters of American-flagged vessels.) For example, car ships carry cars (obvs!), container ships hold cargo of TVs, bananas, soda ash, or even sand and gravel.

tug barge

NOT the captain’s tug, but a good photo of a tug pushing and pulling a barge. Tugs are hard little workers. I think I can, I think I can…

The Merchant Marine supplements the military in times of war, transporting goods and equipment to areas where it is needed. The people who crew Merchant Marine vessels are known as Merchant Mariners. Perhaps you remember hearing about the Maersk Alabama, a container ship seized by pirates a few years ago? Tom Hanks stars as the captain in the soon-to-be released film of the Navy Seals’ rescue of the ship and her crew. People who work on tugboats are called Merchant Marines. My guy is a tug and tow Master, although he has decades of experience on yachts, passenger vessels, and just about every type of boat, excluding fishing. No Deadliest Catch stories here! Tugboats pull (or push) barges all over the world, assist all types of ships in and out of their berths, and work in marine construction and the oil industry. It is really more complex that than, with a rich history and great anecdotes, but I am only the wife of, and my perspective is a different one.

Update: I begged and pleaded and guilted and flattered my captain to get him to audition for the Tom Hanks pirate film–they liked his initial video audition so much the casting director even sent sides (that’s a script to those of you who are NOT in the know like I am), but he didn’t get the part. He really should have. I was totes planning to go as his personal manager to Morocco where they were filming.

Back to my story…this lifestyle has been quite an adjustment. When he’s home, he’s a 24/7 at-home husband, just like being retired, and a different routine ensues–one of compromise and diplomacy. When he’s away at sea, I become a sort of “grass widow” (a woman whose husband is away from home frequently or for a long time, as on business) and have learned to structure my time alone to stay occupied while waiting for my best friend to come home. We modern mariner wives are really no different than wives of a few hundred years ago whose husbands went out to sea. We might have email access and satellite telephones, and are able to stay in touch more frequently than the occasional letter posted from faraway ports, but we are essentially on our own for a great deal of time. We have to be completely independent and solve problems and fix broken washing machines and cars and take out the trash and mow the lawn by ourselves, unless we have kids still living at home on whom we can foist these chores.

My confession du jour? I fully rely on retail therapy to help me cope. That doesn’t mean I actually PURCHASE a lot and spend a lot of money, rather, I am an accomplished fashionista BROWSER, (which should be an Olympic sport, as far as I’m concerned.) I have endurance and I possess stamina. I’m a hunter AND a gatherer. A shot of wheatgrass and I’m good to go for hours in my quest for a treasure, a good deal, or something I just have to have, and can’t live without; the next get. You know that Shopaholic film? I’ve seen it about a dozen times; it’s like a training film for me…  A day or so after my MM leaves, I fortify myself with a protein drink, a double shot of wheatgrass, and lay out my itinerary with quasi-military precision. I first make the rounds of my local stores; TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, Target, Homegoods, just like a warm-up in my boot camp class, and then move on to H&M, Anthropologie, White Market/Black House. After that, I venture further away to the Nordstrom Outlet, DSW (yes!!!), and then our local mall for BloomiesNieman Marcus, and the boutiques-Tory Burch, Hermes, and the holy grail at South Coast Plaza in the OC…Chanel…Chanel…Chanel. I want/need a Chanel 2.55, the original black quilted bag with the chain strap. I am saving for a pilgrimage to Paris to pay homage to Coco at the original location. I. can’t. wait.

Update: I just can’t do it to y’all again, I know I’m probs on your last nerve with the whole Chanel thing, but it was cool for ME to tell myself, “Hey girl, your dream DID come true! Way to go to think it, believe it, and it will happen!”

Today, I was on the hunt for another blazer; blazers are super trendy and forever a classic fashion staple,  but it has to be the right blazer in the right color and cut. I ended up at a local consignment shop and while I didn’t find the desired blazer, I discovered the treasure of a Tory Burch sweater with gorgeous logo buttons. I found a similar style for around $250, and I got it for $40. It’s in perfect condition and looks like it’s never been worn. The pic doesn’t do it justice; it’s a rich cocoa brown with TB logo buttons and totes adorbs. Update: This is the same consignment shop where I just scored the vintage Valentino.tory burch sweater

Well, it’s back to editing for me and building my Etsy store where I can sell all the ropework jewelry and beachy décor we create. I hope you’ve enjoyed this first glimpse into my world.

Update: STILL working on that Etsy store! Almost done tho, hopefully so I won’t completely miss the holiday season…

Thanks to one and all who’ve read me and followed me and commented and offered guidance and humor and friendship. The world still revolves around me, I suppose it always will…alas, that’s the cross my long suffering tugboat captain must bear…And if you’ve un-followed me, don’t forget that Santa could leave a lump of coal in your stocking, so maybe y’all need to rethink that decision. Right???

 

Building a paper Titanic

This seemed as good a time as any to revisit a previously written post. This one’s about one of the captain’s hobbies. He def likes to keep busy. He’s gone again, missing Thanksgiving, which is one of his fave holidays cos he likes to eat and it’s a day that I don’t police his consumption.  He’s a surf-aholic and this time of year usually brings good waves. Right now there’s a High Surf Advisory from an Alaskan storm. It’s about 5-6 ft. –maybe more– and my son’s here with DIL and sister wife. They’ve been surfing twice a day, which leaves me time to clean up from all their meals and start prepping for the next one. I’m really missing the captain but there’s so much to be grateful for in spite of his absence. I have so much admiration for the wives of our deployed soldiers. They are apart for much longer periods of time than this wife of a Merchant Marine, and have to be incredibly brave and stoic–and hope their loved ones come back alive. Although being a tugboat captain has its elements of danger, being shot at or bombed is not one of them.

When he’s home,  after he catches up on his sleep, my captain lines up projects to keep busy, whether it’s around the house or something creative. Unless there’s surf. In that case, I become a surf-widow and only see him when the tide drops or he’s hungry.

He’s made some awesome shelves in the living room and our bedroom, done a whole lot of house painting (inside and out).  The last time he was home for a few months, he found a paper model of the Titanic (he’s fascinated with anything Titanic) called Build the Titanic at Barnes and Noble and holed up in his man cave working on its miniature parts, gluing and painting. It’s more than two feet long and pretty much to scale. There’s a great little book that came with the model written by a female captain, Meghan Cleary, who lives aboard her thirty-five-foot sailboat.

I don’t normally watch daytime TV on any regular basis since All My Children went off the air. My mom and I started watching it together when it first began.  She was a stay-at-home mom until high school and then she went back to work part-time, as an RN. She was charge nurse for Women’s Surgical at a local hospital and worked the 3pm to 11pm shift, so we would hang out during summer vacation before she left for work.

When my son was born, I used to nurse him during All My Children, One Life to Liveand General HospitalThree hours, that’s right. I would switch him from side to side every twenty minutes or so, ‘cos my mom told me to nurse him as long as he was hungry, so we  had these marathon sessions. Plus, I read somewhere that breastfeeding burns tons of calories, so it provided value added options for me. I could lose baby weight, bond with my child, feed him, and watch TV at the same time!  That’s what I remember I was doing during Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981.

I was working on a small proofing job and caught a few minutes of The View, muted ‘cos that one blonde chicka has a voice that could turn milk sour, geez, but what in the world has happened to Barbara Walters’ earlobes? I have enough of my own personal body image issues so that I do have empathy, but they are ay-may-zing specimens. I know she’s like eighty or something, and gravity happens, but WOW. She was wearing gigantic button earrings (ring, ring, 1983 is calling!) but even those monstrosities could not hide her elephant-sized lobes. It was fascinating and stomach-turning at the same time; I couldn’t turn away, I couldn’t look, I expected them to start flapping in the breeze. C’mon girl, you are obvs no stranger to plastic surgery-for the love of all that is holy, pullease nip/tuck those things! At the very least, have your hair stylist do a little cover-up. Pull-ease. It’s funny–for the hell of it I Googled “Barbara Walters’ ears” and discovered a lot of internet commentary, so I am not the only one who noticed. Like I said, aging is sad for so many, many reasons.

It’s now 9pm and I’m watching So You Think You Can Dance. Got a call from my captain, but it was such a bad connection and kept breaking up, so we didn’t get to have any kind of conversation besides the usual, “How are you, is everything OK?

“Yes, I’m fine, are you all right?”

“I can’t really hear you, I’m breaking up, I better go, I’ll try and call again in the morning if we’re near a cell tower. Love you.”

“I love  you, too. I miss you lots.”

At least we were able to get the important things said.  I am fanatical about ending conversations with “I love you”. With my son, ever since he spent his junior year abroad and continues to travel all over the world,  I always end every single telephone call or Skype that way.  No matter how brief the conversation, I want those to be the last words and the last thought I leave with him.

More bitches, I mean, chicks– on tugs

Picture a tugboat. You’ll have to use your imagination as I’ve been admonished to never divulge any of the captain’s specific information. For some reason–I’m sure I don’t know why–he thinks that if anyone connected him to Enchanted Seashells, it would be VERY embarassing. In the world of the Merchant Marine, that is.  For that reason, you need to conjure up a tugboat’s shape. I hope this little picture is helpful in a generic way.  As far as tugboats go, the one the captain’s on is a pretty big one at 127 feet long, 36 feet wide.  In general, tugs are NOT five-star luxury floating hotels. Living, sleeping, eating places are stark, cramped,  functional, and devoid of all the comforts of home, (including seashell embellishment, well, unless I was on one.)  The crew usually rooms together; only the captain has a private space unless it’s a smaller crew. I wrote a post a while back Chicks on Tugs, and now it’s happened again.

On this assignment, there are nine crew members– TWO OF WHOM ARE FEMALES. I am yelling that. THERE ARE TWO CHICKS ON THE FREAKIN’ BOAT! At most land-based jobs (if memory serves–it’s been a while),  there are separate bathrooms for men and women, and at the end of the day or a shift, everyone departs to their respective homes (or local watering hole), their individual lives, and return the next day. On a boat, the crew is thrust together 24/7. And yes, I chose the word “thrust” with all possible definitions that word evokes. The boat becomes their workplace AND their home for the length of each assignment.  They eat together in the galley, watch TV together, sleep near each other, and share a bathroom, even do laundry together and smell touch see silky little undergarments. (None that belong to the captain, I should clarify.) When he told me there were TWO WOMEN ON THE BOAT, I asked him what happens when they menstruate and get all PMS-y although I actually said time of the month ‘cos it’s a subject he finds particularly icky and not a regular topic in our “two peas in a pod” conversations.

Then I started peppering him with all kinds of questions: “Are they cute?” Are they lesbians?””Do they work out and do they have good bodies?” “What about their butts?” Are they firm and tight?” “Why are you looking?” “Are they blonde?” “Are they flirting with you?” “Have they ‘accidentally’ allowed their towel to fall when they emerged from the bathroom after taking a shower?  “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were there…” “Do they rub up against you in the wheelhouse?” “Do you think you might love them more than me?”  Quantum leaps and bounds. Yes, I go there. I’m not shy. I have no filter. We have an understanding. He is the rational one and I’m the one who’d go all Lorena Bobbit on his ass.

The thing is, he doesn’t have a whole lot of privacy, so it’s impossible to really respond to my interrogation. He has to be politically correct but I think it must put undue strain on the male crew members that have to work that much harder to accommodate a female crew. I’m a total feminist, but tug and barge work is super physical and demanding and I don’t think the women I’ve seen who work around this industry are really capable to handle it–handling lines, tow ropes, wire, winches. It’s not fun and it’s dangerous. But that’s just my opinion. He says there are lots of women who are as competent as any man. It’s just not my cup of tea-or martini-or glass of champs.

I’m waiting for the captain’s daily telephone call and New Girl is getting ready to start. My car is dripping some red stuff that looks like blood and something’s making an annoying chirping sound every thirty seconds somewhere in the house and I can’t figure out where it’s coming from and now I think it’s that stupid Spirit Squirrel come back to haunt me or else someone’s trying to sabotage my mental health, ‘cos if I have to hear that sound for one more day, I’m gonna burn the house down.

By the way, was anyone else disappointed by Gossip Girl last night? It was so booorrrinnng.

WTF! Welcome to my world… guess who’s gone again!

<a href=”http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/4073728/?claim=hwj6xnttt4x”>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I‘m on Bloglovin now, come and check me out! I’ve noticed other bloggers doing the same, and thought I’d follow along–same with Facebook and Twitter. Please like/follow me, and I’ll do the same for you. We’re all in this same (blog) boat together!

Hey, who wants to go to the airport again? Not me, but there I was at 5:30 a.m. this morning, once again driving El Capitan to the airport to hop a plane to board a boat to go to Puerto Rico for a week or so.

The dreaded call came in late yesterday afternoon; we had just gotten home from a lovely and romantic trip to the dump with our trailer full of yard debris. BTW, the dump was very crowded for a Thursday afternoon, who knew that was such a popular destination? I always go along for moral support; I’m kind of useless with a shovel but I provide good conversation and companionship. And because it seems like I hardly ever see him, a date is a date, even if it’s to the dump!

The captain was asked to relieve or replace (not sure which scenario) someone, and he accepted the assignment. I know he was supposed to be home for a long time this time, but duty called. Literally.

Last night was a swirl of rushing around to go to the ATM for travelling cash, gas up the car, do a load of laundry, make dinner (salmon burgers, which were delicious), have a glass of wine, pack up a couple of suitcases, and go to bed!

We were awakened at 4:15 a.m. by a couple of chattering raccoons somewhere in the yard, which gave us just enough time to go back to sleep for 45 minutes, until all of our alarms started chirping. He’s a multiple alarm kind of guy–his phone, my phone, the clock radio–he does not like to be late, and can’t be late for a flight, especially since we live so far from the airport.

For me, the rest of the day includes cleaning the house which looks like it was hit by a cyclone, figuring out how to complete my Etsy store so I can have a grand opening and a Facebook contest (I’m going to give away one of our awesome marlinspike rope work bracelets), and think of other projects to fill up the hours and days until my wandering captain comes home again.

WTF!!!!

No waves, no bueno, says Captain Cranky

El Capitan, as he is sometimes affectionately called, spent his final hours at home sulky, moping, sad-faced. Why?  Because once again he was leaving the love of his life? Because the idea of being apart for even two or three weeks was too much to bear? Because…No, not even close. Mr. Turn That Frown Upside Down was going to miss out on a huge swell (no, not that kind, either).

A south swell from the southern hemisphere is going to hit our beaches on Friday through the weekend. Captain Cranky was going to miss some big surf. There had been no surf to speak of for the entire time he was home. Boards were freshly waxed and at the ready. Many surf checks on the internet and driving back and forth to the beach did not cause any rideable waves to appear. It was Lake Pacific, and you could actually see all the way to Hawaii (not really).

Stop the presses.

So I had to contend with a grouchy twelve-year-old attitude in a fifty-year-old body. I did not sign up for that. Isn’t fifty a little young to be going through a second childhood? How do you deal with a grown-up Gloomy Gus who’s crabby because he can’t play in the water?

I finally had had enough. We went on yet another surf check—still nothing–stopped for a shave ice, and walked around our little village. I had high hopes that a location change would take his mind off his misery. What a sad sack, sighing, dragging his feet, and going on and on and on about how he was going to miss this great swell and he hadn’t had any good waves in such a long, long time. OMG, I am usually a super supportive surf-wife, but this is too much. Too much. Way too much.  We walked into a little jewelry store where the owner had brought her adorable dog–a rescue. We chatted about the dog and she told a story about how she acquired it—not an abusive situation—but rather the owner had cancer and had planned for some time to find a nice home for her pet, and when she did, she walked into the ocean and that was that. That was that?

What?? I had hoped that the chat would take his mind off his “troubles”, but this was going in a direction I hadn’t anticipated! Once she found out that Captain Crunchy was a man of the sea, we were privy to a lot more of the details. That tragic story didn’t do much to cheer him up. At least the dog had a happy ending.

Back home, I tried cajoling him, I tried setting time limits on his bad behavior—OK, you can be mopy for one more hour and then snap out of it—I tried plying him with alcohol–that didn’t work either—I tried telling him that there would be more waves in the future—and then I told him if it meant that much to him, he should just stay home. I know he loves to surf, he lived for a while in Hawaii, but this was ridiculous, right?

I said, “You need to think about the things that you are grateful for, all the good things in your life, and really, really, knock it off, ‘cos you are getting on my last nerve!”

Finally, probably because it was getting dark and any thought about surfing was moot, his mood lifted, and we had a pleasant evening.  All in all, he’s a pretty even tempered guy, and not normally ornery,  so I’ll let it go this time.

Quite a few years ago, we had a fight about something–I can’t even remember what it was  about–and I wanted to prove a point, so just before he got home from work, I put his surfboard out on the sidewalk with a sign that said, “Surfboard for sale. Surfer included”.

He got the point, and we had a good laugh. Maybe I need to recreate that scenario the next time Captain Cantankerous shows up.

 

 

How to become a Merchant Marine

Here’s how my captain did it. He grew up around water his whole life; his dad took him sailing on major voyages to Europe and up and down the eastern seaboard. I know he thought about teaching as a career, but he chose to go to a maritime academy. (I can’t say which one.) Some people start out by working on fishing boats or join the Navy, Coast Guard, Military Sealift Command, or attend other maritime schools.

In my opinion, it would be a good idea to find out if you are prone to seasickness; otherwise you’ve wasted a lot of time and money.

I think you have to be pretty good in math and sciences; you need to learn GPS and radar.  Before there was GPS, all mariners needed to become experts in celestial navigation; navigating by the planets. You need to learn to be proficient in reading charts (that’s what they call maps of oceans and other waterways and coastlines). Even though a captain’s job is to navigate and drive the boat and manage the crew, he (or she) needs to have a lot of knowledge about the engine room. If something goes wrong in the engine room, or the engine needs maintenance, the captain must know how to diagnose and work on these problems, even though there is an engineer on board. They need to know a lot about weather conditions because they are very affected by adverse weather. All the high-tech tools that boats are equipped with are still at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Just yesterday, my captain called to let me know they are having bad weather (usually that means it’s really windy) and they will take a detour and “hide” near some islands until the winds “lay down”. That means he won’t get my package for another day. I hope the brownies and granola are still fresh!  (See the granola recipe below. It’s super simple and so much cheaper than buying the packaged kind!)

If you’re thinking of becoming a mariner or you know someone who is considering it, I believe it is important to  bear in mind that as captain and crew of a United States merchant vessel (whether it’s a car carrier or a tug boat) one should professionally represent our country. It’s no longer the days of Tugboat Annie or Max Miller’s I Cover the Waterfront. There’s tons of stuff I’ve left out–these are my observations and what I’ve learned from my MM. I don’t think I’d want to be the cook; they work super hard providing three meals a day and all the clean-up!

Most importantly, you need to have a wonderful spouse or significant other, am I right? The one to come home to.

Homemade Granola
4 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
1/3 cup  pure maple syrup
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1TBS cinnamon
1TBS fresh or dry ginger
In a large bowl, mix maple, agave, oil, spices. Add oats, mix well to cover. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. It makes clean up easier. Spread oats on baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for about 2o minutes or until lightly browned. Don’t let it burn!  When it’s coolled, I add raisins, chopped dried apricots, sliced almonds. Use your imagination and add your faves.  Sometimes I add flax seeds or chia seeds; depends on what’s in the pantry.