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

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”

Just a Cup of Coffee – The Love Story of Princess Rosebud and her Captain – Part One

Today:  Sometimes he’s here, sometimes he’s not. That’s the life of a tugboat captain’s wife. Right now he’s not..

weddingpicture

Yup, the secret’s out. I’m married to Johnny Depp

The Wedding: February 21, 1994

Our song, our first dance as husband and wife. “Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
http://youtu.be/wkVuQGgx7d8

The Beginning…This is the love story of me, Princess Rosebud, and the tugboat captain.

We met when I was a year into my deal with myself to stay celibate until I met someone, uh, worthy…

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010… At 3:40 this afternoon, I was in the threshold of our garage door that leads into the living room where I had dragged in a ladder to help with my latest project–painting the living room walls a divine shade of seafoam green–to stay busy when the captain’s out to sea. I mean, I can’t shop ALL the time. A girl has to take a break now and again, right? I set the ladder down and went back to close the garage door. At that precise moment, the glass vases on the shelves surrounding our fireplace began to vibrate and wobble. Here in SoCal, I’ve endured a handful of quakes, but never such intense shaking.

Through the open garage door I saw the bicycles that hang from the ceiling sway back and forth. As I attempted to process THAT information, the crystal lustres on my grandmother’s antique porcelain candelabras clashed and clinked. Terracotta tile flooring in the foyer seemed to roll back and forth as if I was on a sailboat in San Diego Bay, and I had a difficult time standing.

Feeling dizzy and unbalanced, I grasped the doorway for support.  My poor kitty gave me a dirty look like I had interrupted her nap on purpose. So much for the concept that animals can sense an earthquake–not this spoiled little brat.

I ran up our oak-planked steps into the family room and through the patio doors onto the deck and shouted out to the neighbors.

“Look at your pool!”

“I know, this is crazy! Are you OK? Any damage?”

“I don’t think so. A couple seashells fell off the shelf in the family room, but I was so freaked, I didn’t want to stay inside, so I ran out back. I don’t know if we should stay in the house or what we should do!”

“Us either! Let’s see what’s on the news.”

This quake was so violent that it caused the water in their pool to slosh over the sides like a mini-tsunami. We each went back in our respective homes and turned on CNN. We discovered that there had been a 7.2 earthquake in Mexico. The first reports that came in revealed a lot of damage near the epicenter in Mexicali, but no major problems in San Diego; only broken glass and falling cans at grocery stores, which seemed pretty miraculous considering the earthquake’s size.

Still spooked by the shaking and some pretty strong aftershocks, I surveyed the house, removing anything unsecured and potentially dangerous.

This is as good a time as any to confess something.

I’m a shell-aholic.

seashell mirrorI’ve got shelves and shelves of seashells in every room–including the bathroom. Everyone collects seashells, right? One here, one there, as a memory of a great beach or a fun vacation, right? Well…I’m a seashell hoarder. I want ALL seashells–there are never enough seashells to collect or buy. I make things out of some of them–picture frames, mirrors, boxes–they line the walls in our two bathrooms and even our front door, but mostly they just hang out–in bowls, on shelves, anywhere and everywhere. There is no empty space in our house, and if there is, it’s quickly filled with a shell–or a rock.

After a couple decades, we have come to an understanding, the captain and I. He thinks I’m crazy and obsessed with shells and rocks and driftwood, and I don’t destroy his surfboards if he doesn’t give me a hard time about it.

I anxiously emailed the captain who’s half a world away in the middle of an ocean. I figured that if anything would cause him to cut his four month assignment short, this might be it. The way that emailing works in deep ocean situations is through a pretty inefficient satellite; sometimes it takes hours to complete the process. If there’s a real emergency, I have a phone number to call, but this didn’t really fit the definition. I wasn’t hurt and the house wasn’t damaged or anything. When he finally read the email and wrote back, he told me to “standby” at the house phone because he would try to make a call from the boat’s sat phone. When he called, I used all my powers of persuasion to convince him to come home, but to no avail. He simply wasn’t going to call the United States Coast Guard to fly a rescue mission a thousand miles from land to bring  him home because the kitty and I were scared.

Well, I know where I stand in his list of priorities. Hmmm, I wonder if this is when I hatched my plot to get that Chanel. Hmmm, I wonder.

After that stressful event, and many aftershocks later, some pampering was definitely well deserved. That evening, I drew a bath in the upstairs bathroom we call the spa because it’s decorated in earthy tones with seashells and beach glass surrounding the mirrors and along the walls.

(I know what you’re thinking, and I don’t care.)

I lit a fragrant and calming lavender candle, eased my body into the almost too-hot-to-stand-it water, and trickled in ginger and lemongrass aromatherapy oils. Sipping from a glass of merlot, I leaned back, closed my eyes, and my thoughts wandered.

Experiencing an earthquake; the dizziness, the weightless feeling in a tub of warm water; it all reminded me of falling in love. It all felt the same… and it all started with a fifty cent cup of coffee.

Newly divorced in 1990, I speed dated a few guys, including one totally boring and slightly scary man who immediately wanted me to meet his parents after the first (and last) date, along with a couple of total idiots whose combined IQs prolly didn’t equal my Border Collie‘s. Those unsavory experiences became flashing red lights–STOP! NO! THINK!–impossible to ignore–that I seriously needed to take some time off the dating circuit.

It was the perfect time for a list.

I’m an inveterate list maker; I prioritize my errands and even list groceries in the order of where they’re located in the store– like my own custom board game–where I start at the entrance and finish at the cash register.

I wrote this particular list with the hope that if I documented the qualities desired in a significant other, the universe would deliver the right one when all the planets were aligned. Or so I dreamed.

At midnight on August 7th, 1990, with a bottle of wine to seal the deal, I made a promise to myself–I would not date (or do anything else) for a very long time, and the next one would be “the one”.

The List
1. Must call when he says he will. This is non-negotiable.
2. Must show up on time for dates.
3. Must love pets. Also non-negotiable.
4. No cigarettes. No smoking, and of course, no drugs.
5. Likes to exercise, work out, eat healthy, etc.
6. Must have gainful employment.
7. Must be nice and polite and honest and trustworthy.
8. Fidelity is of paramount importance.
9. When the time is right and he meets my son, my son has to like him. Also non-negotiable.

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

Tomorrow:
Part Two…Just a cup of coffee, the love story of Princess Rosebud and the tugboat captain

Shopping Tips From Princess Rosebud. More Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife.

Shopaholic Tip #1 Save your receipts.

Shopaholic Tip #2 Make sure you are well versed in the return policies of each and every store in which you shop.

Here’s why: The other side of being a shopaholic is buyer’s remorse.  Sometimes it happens as soon as you arrive home and unpack all of your treasures — there’s a little seed of doubt growing roots in the other side of your brain no longer high with shopping endorphins — maybe you’re just not as enthralled about the colors or the cut or the style  — maybe the way the color looked under harsh florescent lighting is different that you imagined it would be; say for example, the cornflower blue sweater isn’t exactly the shade of cornflower blue you thought would be such an amazing pop of color with a specific blouse or maybe the shoes that you tried on for a moment in the store aren’t comfortable and would NEVER be worn.

Or if you’re like me and really hate the confines of a dressing room, you chose a bunch a couple outfits that you thought would fit ‘cos it’s your size and all that, but when you actually tried them on in the relaxed and serene (and clean) confines of your bedroom, you discover that the cut of the jeans is unflattering or has an unnaturally low rise. Come on people, when will fashion designers STOP manufacturing women’s jeans based on the body of a  prepubescent boy and remember that most women possess waistlines as well as child-bearing hips and we’d like our trousers to fall somewhere close and not be so obscenely low as to reveal our Caesarean scars? Hmm? It’s not that I don’t have some great Joe’s jeans and skinny jeans from Anthropolgie that fit perfectly right, but I’m talking generalities here.

Anyhoo, this is a running topic of contentious conversation with me and my tugboat man.

As soon as I tell him I went shopping, he asks me how soon it will be until I take half or all of my purchases  back. And then he laughs. Ha ha. NOT. It’s his little (tired) joke to bet me which items will not make the cut, so to speak.

Poor tugboat man. He thought that same psychology would work with any of my Chanel purchases, but sadly for him, this Princess is way more clever.

Have you EVER heard of anyone returning an iconic 2.55 Chanel quilted handbag with the chain strap because it didn’t fit? HAH! He’s not as smart as he thinks he is. I threw him a shady eye for even suggesting that it might go back. That’s crazy talk, Captain. He really doesn’t know who he’s dealing with. Really.

So, of those four pairs of shoes I purchased last week, I’ve kept two of them. The Asics went back. Why? Because upon detailed inspection at home, I discovered that they were NOT the same style as the ones I had originally purchased for $120.00 and they were not as comfortable. And I take my work out/walking shoes VERY seriously because I live in them. A heel or a wedge doesn’t need the same criteria because they’re worn for shorter periods of time and let’s face it, you don’t even think about hiking in a pair of Louboutin heels, right?

That’s why it’s UBER important to save your receipt and all the tags and make sure you know there’s a decent return policy — not as I’ve found with some shops in tiny print “exhange or store credit only”.  No SIR. I want my $$$$ back.  I do NOT want my money held hostage and  forced  to choose something else. That store goes on my list of places to NEVER again  frequent. It’s not that I don’t understand the nuance of a small business — I’ve owned a couple of them myself — but it’s a negative no matter what the reason, that’s all I’m saying.

I’m still shaking my head…return a friggin’ Chanel??? Does my tugboat man have ANY idea who he’s married to? I mean seriously, where has he been for the past twenty years? I suppose it was wishful thinking on his part, but COME ON.

I can’t even form the thought, “I’d like to return my beautiful Chanel handbag that I’ve lusted for and dreamed about my entire life.”

That’s a whole lotta crazy talk.

Hee hee. :) Have a lovely Sunday and remember to save your receipts!

Is There Anything Better Than Shopping?

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.

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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?

Pretty silvery wrapping paper, but it just made it that much harder to get to the treasures. I ripped ‘em apart like a wild animal…giftbagmess

First things first. Hard-working hub combed the beach “somewhere” for these seashells. A couple of them broke, but I appreciate the effort. Broken shells are better than no shells at all. jshells

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?

btrflybrace

The more the merrier is the way my hub thinks. Check out this dragonfly  bracelet. Think white skinny jeans, a skimpy top, and cork wedges. Oh, and a fruity cocktail. Maybe two…dragonflybracelet

 

braceletsideContinuing with THAT logic, if one pair of earrings is good, four is much better, right? Do you have the feeling that they were possibly on sale? Hmmm, no worries, I love them all!

They are all mother-of-pearl and various shells. ADORABLE!
earrings1 earrings2 earrings3 earrings4

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!

 

 

In Which Princess Rosebud Gets Her Groove Back.

As in shopaholic heaven.

As in a daylong shopping frenzy.

On a roll, guys. On a friggin’ roll.

The sun is shining, the sky is blue, the birdies are singing.

Picture me sitting cross-legged on the floor, surrounded by bags and boxes and fresh crackly tissue paper. It’s Christmas in May!

I hope you are as snappy happy as I am that I haven’t lost my touch.

It’s been so long since I spent a solid day doing nothing but shopping — and I’m proud to say that I was firing on all cylinders, whatever THAT means.

I whipped out the plastique so fast there were tendrils of smoke swirling from its little slot in my (Chanel) wallet.

Must haves, every single one.

The only dark spot in an otherwise stellar day was a grave situation with the rack of undergarments at Kohl’s.

Simply put…a 32A bra should not be situated anywhere near a 42G bra on any rack at any store. And stop laughing at me. It was traumatic.

This is merely an observation from someone less — uh — ahem– less endowed.

Here’s the story: I was searching through the racks of sale bras at Kohl’s  –  and this is just a random thought…but could someone PLEASE organize them so that the 32A bras are not ALL lovingly nestled inside the 42G brassieres? There’s a whole world of sizes in between those two ends of the pectoral scale. Geez, it’s embarrassing enough to seek out the teeny tiny size I wear, but to be overshadowed by a brassiere that will eventually embrace two proudly gigantic mammary glands is almost more than I can bear…Those ginormous over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders were taunting me, I swear it. Taunting me!!! [sobbing now]

Ahh, but even THAT couldn’t dampen my spirits!

Today was a great day, my friends, a great day!

It all started with the seashells. Aren’t these enchanted?

newbottles

Michael’s had a sale. These guys were 50% off! Yippee!
Seashells are the best, right?shellbottleThat’s when I strolled over to Kohl’s in search of a new spoon rest; I didn’t find that, but look what was on sale! (Oh, and I did finally locate a couple of miniature brassieres, thank you very much.)

My super favorite brand of work out shoes —  Asics — and half the price that I paid a few months ago at Footlocker, so of course I needed twice the shoes — four shoes for the price of two!  Such a deal!

asics

Since I was totes feeling it, I stopped at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Cole Haan. These lightweight beauties were hiding in the secret back room clearance area. Did you know that most Cole Haan shoes boast concealed Nike Air technology? These do too, and are soooo comfy. Originally in the $200.00 range, my final price was $69.00 Cha-ching!

  • Heritage weave detailing on vamp straps. (LOVE the word “vamp”)
  • Jute-wrapped detail at midsole.
  • Stacked platform and wedge heel.

colehaaan

Another shopaholic in Cole Haan was wearing the most adorable sandals so of course I asked her where she purchased them after I complimented her excellent taste in footwear and to my surprise and delight, she pointed right around the corner at Nine West. As soon as I completed my purchase at CH, I scurried over to NW. Could you just DIE? These are the mostest totes adorbs; could be my favorite sandal EVER. Can you make out the sparkles? Sigh.

sandalsAt another store, can’t even remember the name of it ‘cos I was on a M-I-S-S-I-O-N,  y’all, I stocked up on discounted Kiehl’s. It was at that point I wished I had someone with me to carry all my bags, or at least another arm or two.

The new Kate Spade store was open and really crowded. I tried on a couple of cute dresses, but nothing spoke to me in a demanding tone of voice, so I left with nothing, but that’s OK, too.

I’m resting up for tomorrows adventure, my favorite Nordstrom Outlet!

I’m Happy, Happy, Happy!

 

Gallimaufry. What’s That? Today’s Confused Hodgepodge.

Gal·li·mau·fry  [gal-uh-maw-free]
…a hodgepodge; jumble; confused medley.

That’s today’s title and a great descriptor…a little bit of everything ‘cos, well, just because.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Update on my son...

Staples removed (20+ of them!!) thanks to my good friend’s doctor hub whom we’ve known since our boys were in first grade and we used to go to aerobics classes together…he’s a topnotch internist at North County Internal Medicine.

A while back they added something special to his practice, NCIM Aesthetics — specializing in state-of-the-art laser skin laser technology PLUS my personal favorites: Botox, Juvederm, and Radiesse. Give ‘em a call @ 760-726-2302 or email NCIMaesthetics@gmail.com

So far, the only hitch in Angel Boy’s recovery was a by-product of taking Augmentin for an infection he got in the hospital…another really awful stomach bacteria called c. difficile, but with a switch to Flagyl and some high quality probiotics, his fever and the infection disappeared. He’s finishing up his recovery in SF with DIL. Alll he needs to do now is build up his strength and gain back the nearly twenty pounds he lost over the last month.

Me (‘cos it’s always about me, right? I mean, even when it doesn’t seem to be all about me, it’s really ALL ABOUT ME.)

Suffering from writer’s block again, so I’m watching back to back episodes of Say Yes to the Dress, Real Housewives of Orange County (or New York), and Sherlock —  all very successfully helping me NOT create a post — or writing — of any value. There’s no real writing inspiration, just escapism.

Honestly, I don’t know who I’m crushing on more: Randy Fenoli from SYTTD (I’d kill for his eyebrows) or Benedict Cumberbatch as the ultimate Sherlock. I love them both! But not nearly as much as I’m lady boning for Richard Roxburgh as criminal lawyer Cleaver Greene in Rake, (the original Aussie one), not the US version, on Netflix.

Watching SYTTD and Housewives is something I can ONLY do when my tugboat man is out to sea; it’s one of those pesky non-negotiables when he’s home.

He literally REFUSES — says, “Im outta here” as he leaves the room, so I save them as my guilty pleasures when he’s thousands of miles away.

A successful marriage is all about compromises, right? Do I want to have a fight about a stupid TV show? Nope, not this Princess.

With my very empty nest, it was time to put on my comfortable shoes and flex my weakened shopping muscles. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent the day as a little retail butterfly, flitting from one store to the next, checking out the offerings and laying down the “plastique”; I’m a bit rusty and needed a warm-up before attempting one of the big malls or my own personal mecca, South Coast Plaza.

After a great hour-long boot camp class at 24 Hour Fitness, I checked my watch, 10:00 a.m. and I was off! First to Target for essentials, then Trader Joe’s and a vacuum store for a new powerhead belt, on to Marshalls to test my shoe-spotting and ability to browse both-sides-of-the-aisle-at-the-same-time skills.

After the one hour mark, I was a bit tired and thirsty so I stopped to eat an apple and grab a bottle of water — it’s imperative to stay well-hydrated and nourished whilst shopping.

Revived, I meandered downtown to get my glasses adjusted and stopped at my favorite consignment shop where I’ve previously discovered Valentino and Missoni treasures –not so lucky on this day, but I didn’t leave empty handed; there was a sweet and comfy chartreuse bathing suit coverup  that called out to me.

This practice shopping excursion ended with a visit to Lowe’s for vegetable seeds, a pomegranate tree, and mesh to cover an apple tree that’s being eaten by nasty ground squirrels, presumably cousins of the elusive Spirit Squirrel™.
Click here to read all about it.

Still all about me, but on a serious note…

I was just diagnosed with vitreous detachment in my left eye which is sad because I thought the sparkles I was seeing was once-and-for-all proof positive of my Princess-ness.

However, I was wrong. Here’s the info from NIH (National Institutes of Health) in case you ever see sparkles and it’s not the optical or silent migraine type of lights.

It’s definitely NOT something to ignore…

What is vitreous detachment?
Most of the eye’s interior is filled with vitreous, a gel-like substance that helps the eye maintain a round shape. There are millions of fine fibers intertwined within the vitreous that are attached to the surface of the retina, the eye’s light-sensitive tissue. As we age, the vitreous slowly shrinks, and these fine fibers pull on the retinal surface. Usually the fibers break, allowing the vitreous to separate and shrink from the retina.

In most cases, a vitreous detachment, also known as a posterior vitreous detachment, is not sight-threatening and requires no treatment.

Who is at risk for vitreous detachment?
A vitreous detachment is a common condition that usually affects people over age 50, and is very common after age 80. People who are nearsighted are also at increased risk. Those who have a vitreous detachment in one eye are likely to have one in the other, although it may not happen until years later.

Symptoms and Detection
As the vitreous shrinks, it becomes somewhat stringy, and the strands can cast tiny shadows on the retina that you may notice as floaters, which appear as little “cobwebs” or specks that seem to float about in your field of vision. If you try to look at these shadows they appear to quickly dart out of the way.

One symptom of a vitreous detachment is a small but sudden increase in the number of new floaters. This increase in floaters may be accompanied by flashes of light (lightning streaks) in your peripheral, or side, vision. In most cases, either you will not notice a vitreous detachment, or you will find it merely annoying because of the increase in floaters.

Treatment
How does vitreous detachment affect vision?

Although a vitreous detachment does not threaten sight, once in a while some of the vitreous fibers pull so hard on the retina that they create a macular hole or lead to a retinal detachment.

Both of these conditions are sight-threatening and should be treated immediately.

If left untreated, a macular hole or detached retina can lead to permanent vision loss in the affected eye. Those who experience a sudden increase in floaters or an increase in flashes of light in peripheral vision should have an eye care professional examine their eyes as soon as possible.

But enough of THAT stuff, right?

On that happy note, I’ll wrap up this Wednesday gallimaufry and try to focus on a submission for Erma Bombeck Workshop all because I opened my big mouth on Twitter and kinda sorta got dared to do it. SCARED! Wish me luck, y’all!

ermabombeck

 

 

Then All (Spider) Hell Broke Loose and That’s Why I Needed Some Retail Therapy

Suggestion for the day: Use Grammarly’s plagiarism check because if anybody copies anything that my brilliant Yale Professor Angel Boy writes, they are gonna have to deal with ME, the fiercest Mommy Monster EVER. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BLOG WARNING: If spiders freak you out, pour your favorite adult beverage and take a sip or two before you continue. Keep refilling as needed.

Last night in the middle of the night; was it a dream or was it real?

I don’t know what sleep state I was in, but I FELT something crawly on my arm.

You know how sometimes dreams can be SO real?

Like when you have to pee but you’re not sure if it’s just a dream or for reals and your subconscious says if you don’t wake up RIGHT NOW YOU ARE GOING TO PEE THE BED and then you’ll remember next time that you should have listened?

No? Just me?

Too much? 

Well, this time I dragged myself out of whatever level I was in and woke all the way up and saw that I was holding my left arm with my right hand, which was pretty amazing in its own right, right?

I ever so carefully turned over and flipped on my bedside lamp with my left hand all the while holding firm with my right hand to my left arm. Get the picture?

Can we say awkward?

Slowly, ever so slowly, I cautiously spread apart my fingers  — which by now had a major death grip on my left bicep.

OH HELL NO.

YUP,  IT WAS A SPIDER.

IT WAS A MOTHERF***ING SPIDER.

BIG AND BLACK  WITH EIGHT NASTY HAIRY BLACK LEGS.

www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com

http://www.outback-australia-travel-secrets.com                                           It wasn’t this big, but that’s how big it SEEMED.

(Thank goodness it wasn’t a black widow, but I wasn’t thinking about that at that moment.)

ALL HELL WAS BREAKING LOOSE IN MY HEAD.

A SPIDER WAS ON ME.

How did he get there?

What would have happened if I hadn’t awakened?

What if it bit me? OMG.

What do I do? What would YOU do? I didn’t know what to do.

With the tugboat man out of town for the week at some stupidass seminar, I couldn’t  punch him out for — well, who cares for what– just for being there, I guess. Of course it was his fault somehow. ‘Cos that’s the way it works. No matter what, he gets blamed for it ha ha.

I had to deal with this by myself. Alone.

My heart was beating so hard that I thought it was gonna pop out of my ribcage and I simultaneously started swearing and hyperventilating.

I only had two arms and two hands and they were still clenching each other and trying to contain the dinner plate-sized SPIDER from moving anywhere. (It wasn’t that big, but you know, that’s how it FELT.)

I mean, what the hell do you do in that situation?

If I took my hand away, he would continue on his merry way up my arm to who knows where, and if I smashed it ON my arm, I’d have a dead spider with spider juices all over my arm.

Quite the dilemma I was in, don’t you agree?

With my agile toes, I grabbed the tissue box that was on the floor conveniently nearby ‘cos I’d been having allergies and was sniffly.

With my right hand still virtually superglued to my left arm, all those years of ballet training came into play as I plucked a tissue from the box with the toes of my right foot and very gracefully (NOT) brought my toes and my mouth to meet, kind of contorting in a forward fold OVER my arms.

Envision a human quesadilla.

Good to know I’m still as flexible as a twenty-year-old, I noted to myself with pride…

With the tissue secured in my mouth, in the blink of an eye, I lifted my right hand, grabbed the tissue, and scooped up the probably by now brain damaged spider where I believe he’d been paralyzed in terror, ran to the bathroom, threw the spider-filled tissue in the toilet, and flushed.

Bye-bye spider. On to the afterlife for you.

Who could get back to sleep, right? I was traumatized. I grabbed my laptop, Tweeted about the incident and composed a list of things to do the next day, which always calms me down. List making is like that.

Which brings us to retail therapy.

Because my tugboat man’s been home for a while, I’m out of practice– and like any sport, it’s imperative to drill on a regular basis and stay in tip top shape with consistent training to hone and sharpen skills.

I’m gearing up for a daylong shopping excursion to South Coast Plaza (OMM) and thought it’d be good idea to start with a little local therapy.

I mean you wouldn’t run a full marathon without first trying out a half marathon, right?

After Boot Camp, I hit all of the local spots in an impromptu training sesh  – Target, Michaels, World Market, Tuesday Morning, Marshalls —  flexing my shopping muscles and getting my groove back.

I was pleased not to have lost my quick reflexes; whipping out the plastic in 2.5 seconds, tying my former record.

A couple of necessities, a tray adorned with roses (how could I resist), pink push up bra, cutest ever flip-flops, card for our anniversary…not too bad, nothing spectacular, nothing major, even a couple of one dollar books from the library.

No Chanel, no Louby heels, no jewelry…baby steps, baby steps.

It felt good, though…real good — to get back in the saddle.

It really is just like riding a bicycle, you never forget.

And the retail therapy successfully helped to erase the psychological trauma of sleeping with a spider. 

shoppingtrip

annivcardThe inside text: “Listening and Understanding…The key to every good relationship. Happy Anniversary.” Pretty funny, huh?
My tugboat man’ll like that. 
flipflops Who could resist gold + sparkles + a bow? Not me.

Next time, watch out! South Coast Plaza, here I come.

(FYI I get a $20 gift card for using Grammarly.)

Best Christmas Decorations EVER-Haters, Line Up! Yoo Hoo, Pinterest, I’m Calling YOU!

 I hope you enjoy a repeat of one of my most clicked on posts of 2012 while I spend a little time with my tugboat man and my son, Angel Boy.
…..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     …..     

It was last year that 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.

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 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 hanging on it is a close second.

Now you can carry on with your day; just take a moment to let it all sink in.

The moral of the story is that it might not be a good idea to leave Princes Rosebud alone for long periods of time.

Don’t HATE…Emulate.

Decorated for Christmas elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

decorated elliptical

Property of Enchanted Seashells, Confessions of a Tugboat Captain’s Wife

Cleaning Naturally — A Review of #Earth Brite

EarthBriteFlipping though the stations, this product caught my eye on HSN — ShopHQ, as it’s now called. A little name change, a branding re-do — to confuse the armchair consumer and blur the lines with another shopping network, QVC. Is that playing fair? What do you think? I’m not sure how I feel about it, or if I even really care — but as a marketing professional, I’m always fascinated by branding and new directions in marketing from an established company.

I don’t often purchase from these TV shopping shows: first and foremost, I’m a natural skeptic, and unless it’s a VERY GOOD DEAL like the Canon Rebel camera (that I’m impatiently waiting for),  I normally bypass this method of shopping as I’m a touchy-feely kinda gal; I want to see it, touch it, smell it–before I buy it.

However, on this day, two very excited and animated hosts were scrubbing and smiling, telling me all about how Earth Brite’s natural, clay-based all-purpose product cleans, polishes, and protects everything from silverware to tile to boats and RVs, while the XR51 degreaser helps remove grease and grime.

Intrigued by the spiel; I thought I’d spend twenty dollars to test it out myself. I checked out the product information online and this is what I learned:

Earth Brite’s natural, clay-based all-purpose product cleans, polishes and protects everything from silverware to tile to boats and RVs, while the XR51 degreaser helps remove grease and grime.

When it arrived, I put on my trusty yellow rubber gloves to see first-hand if those claims are true.

  • I used it instead of Comet on my porcelain sink. Earth Brite did indeed work, but I had to scrub a lot harder to get the same results.
  • In the bathroom, I scrubbed the shower floor and glass doors, which is a big test here in SoCal where we have SUCH hard water that it sometimes takes a chisel to get the shower clean. The results were OK but not “earth” shatteringly better than plain vinegar or any of the other array of products I have around Casa de Enchanted Seashells.
  • The final test was an old Revere copper-bottomed saucepan. Again, Earth Brite shined and polished the copper, but with additional elbow grease, and it wasn’t as easy to shine as the TV hosts told me it would be.

Not a spectacular shine, right?earthbritepan

Product Review:
In the final analysis, I was hoping that this all-natural product would replace most or all of my chemical-laden cleaning supplies, and it has not done that. I’m happy that it contains ingredients that are healthier for my family and for the environment, but I was disappointed that it did not live up to the live on-air demonstrations that initially compelled me to make the purchase. However, the companion product, XR51 Power Cleaner & Degreaser Concentrate turned out to be a wonderful surprise and it’s become part of my daily cleaning — and it smells great, too.


Here’s What I Received:

  • (2) 10.5 oz. Earth Brite All Purpose Cleaner
  • 2 Round applicator sponges
  • 8 fl. oz. XR51 Power Cleaner & Degreaser Concentrate

What The Website Wants You to Know:

  • Work All Purpose Cleaner into wet applicator sponge before applying to any surface. Failureto thoroughly wet product may result in scratched surfaces.
  • Always use the application sponges included.
  • Apply light pressure and increase pressure only as needed to clean surface.
  • Rinse thoroughly to avoid possible clay residue after cleaning.
  • After each use, let the All Purpose Cleaner paste dry before closing the container.