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.



Beyond the Sea…again

Oh boy, he’s leaving again– the day after tomorrow.

Sometimes he has to make his own flight plans; the company doesn’t always pay for his comings and goings–and a one-way flight at the last minute is super expensive, but that’s the way it is.

He’ll only (only) be away for about 21 days, and I hope that when he returns, he’ll have at least a month free. I know he’s thinking about organizing that surf trip he promised my son and daughter-in-law as a present for their Ph.D.s, but it’s almost impossible with everyone’s schedule to secure a time when everyone is available at the same time.

We spent most of the day shopping for things he needs for this new assignment; protective shoes, socks, and sturdy Carhartt working pants.

I just made one of his favorite meals: homemade marinara sauce with spaghetti, focaccia, and a garden salad. Check out the cute seashell salt and pepper shakers and a freshly picked bouquet of alstroemeria (they are so easy to grow).

After dinner, we went out on the newly refinished deck and sat on the swing and he serenaded me with songs on his ukulele.  Well, at least until we got eaten up by mosquitoes! That kind of killed the romance, ya know? My favorite happy-sad song was Bobby Darin’s Beyond the Sea.  It’s ever so sad to see him go again, after being home for only a handful of days! He always takes his ukelele with him when he’s away; it’s small enough to bring in his carry-on, and when there’s no TV or he gets tired of watching DVDs, he plays and practices new songs.

Somewhere beyond the sea
Somewhere waiting for me
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailin

Somewhere beyond the sea
She’s there watching for me
If I could fly like birds on high
Then straight to her arms
I’d go sailin’

It’s far beyond the stars
It’s near beyond the moon
I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon

We’ll meet beyond the shore
We’ll kiss just as before
Happy we’ll be beyond the sea
And never again I’ll go sailin’

I know beyond a doubt
My heart will lead me there soon
We’ll meet (I know we’ll meet) beyond the shore
We’ll kiss just as before
Happy we’ll be beyond the sea
And never again I’ll go sailin’

No more sailin’
So long sailin’
Bye bye sailin’…

This focaccia recipe is deceptively easy; it’s so good that it should take hours to produce something so tasty.

from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
makes 2 9-inch rounds, or one large flatbread
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose white flour
scant 1/2 tsp dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil

1 to 2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
cherry tomatoes
parmesan cheese, fresh basil, finishing salt
Using a heavy-duty mixer or food processor (or a strong arm!) beat together all of the dough ingredients for about one minute. The dough will be very wet and sticky, but resist the urge to add more flour. When the dough has become elastic – you will notice a certain stringiness – scrape it into an oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it aside in a draft-free area until doubled in volume, 2 to 3 hours depending on the temperature. The slower the rise, the more flavorful and chewy the focaccia will be.
When the dough has doubled, preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and make two rounds (or one large rectangle). To make the rounds, divide the dough into two equal parts. Flatten each piece of dough into an 8- to 9-inch round. Dip your fingers in flour and dimple the top of the dough. Brush on some good-quality olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary, salt (and garlic or other herbs, if you like). Transfer the rounds to a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal and let rise for 10 to 15 minutes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.
This is best eaten the day it is made, but day-old focaccia can be revived by warming it in a hot oven for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

No Rest For The Weary or How My Captain Spent The First One-Hundred-Forty-Four Hours Of His Homecoming

Monday at midnight: Yet another godawful thirty-five minute drive to the airport, albeit no traffic and not too many drunk drivers weaving all over the road, thank goodness. I wore an animal print maxi-dress, nothing elaborate this time, no “theme”. I could barely keep my eyes open, but my car seems to know the way without much intervention from me, so that helped. I waited in the airport cell phone parking lot, which is not well-lit and has the most disgusting Porta-Potties. I mean DISGUSTING. And to make matters worse, they have no lights at night, which means—well, it means that it’s a nightmare for me.

When a girl has to go, a girl has to go, ya know what I mean? I was at critical mass.  But I am a smart and resourceful chicka and brought a camping headlamp to use so that I could see how nauseatingly filthy it was in there. At least I could see what I was doing—there were no seat covers, so I used three layers of toilet paper on the seat before I dared sit. No squatting on the sides this time; not enough room for two feet. OMG, could anything be more ghastly.  What were the previous 645 people DOING IN HERE!!!????  Got the call, picked him up, moved over to the passenger side—no snacks to hand feed this time. That’s what he gets for giving me no notice at all, but yes, very glad to see my captain anyway. I just like a bit of time to properly prepare an appropriate welcome. He’s lost a bit of weight, but still has those incredibly gorgeous blue/green/gray eyes.  He’s tired, but very glad to be home.  After a late dinner of leftover chard quiche,  it’s off to bed by 1:30 a.m. I am a harsh task master and make him get up at 7:00 a.m. with a cup of freshly ground French roast and we are off to the gym for my regular Boot Camp class. Hee hee, he doesn’t have much energy, I mean who can blame him; he told me he had two hours of sleep in the last two days, but I think he needs to work through the pain. I whipped out my project list and he was willing to meet my demands without too much whining and pleading and negotiation.

I really, really wanted the upstairs bathroom to have new floor molding. For some reason, he had previously installed some gray rubbery looking molding and it always reminded me of a nasty Greyhound bus station bathroom, which was totes at odds with my enchanted seashell and beach rock persona, so it was off to Home Depot! Got the floor molding and a commitment from my nice husband to completely remodel the downstairs bathroom the next time he’s home for a few months. Yeah!

He got right on the molding…see how lovely?

My 1983 Mercedes odometer stopped working about a month ago, so my hard-working husband took the instrument cluster out from under the dashboard and discovered that a couple of teeth had broken off the gear (I’m repeating what he said, I have no idea what he’s talking about) and MacGyver’d a solution. He glued small pieces of a toothpick to the gear where the teeth had broken, and voila! Success! He is a very ingenious captain, that captain of mine.

Next…I wanted to replace a swing arm lamp that was a creative project gone wrong. I had painted it black and glued seashells on it. This was not one of my better ideas, I have to admit. I don’t have a picture of it ‘cos it’s too embarrassing to view a failure, but I did take a picture of the beautiful new lamp my ever-so-nice husband installed for me during his first seventy-two hours not out to sea.

The weather here has been so very hot that our vegetable garden was suffering. My ever long suffering husband covered the garden in shade cloth.  Of course he did a much nicer job than I would have. He’s very detail-oriented. Just what you’d want in a good captain.

On Saturday we walked to the beach and back, about six miles. The weather had cooled off enough to make this endurable, but the last mile back is uphill and quite challenging.

Not done yet with projects; he decided to sand and varnish the deck. This was not on my list, I really hate when he does it, ‘cos sanding makes a mess and I have to close all the windows or I end up with a fine coating of dust everywhere. You can definitely tell he knows his way around boats; our deck looks like it could float away on its own.

Sanding while wearing the proper dust mask

Welcome aboard! “Stand by to cast off!”

Now he’s taking a well deserved nap with the remote still lightly clutched in his hand…

High School Friends, Cupcakes, and Driftwood

One of my son’s best friends from high school is an artist. We like to support any creative endeavor; here’s one of his pieces and a link to his website:

Doodle 4
Once he heard island music, now it’s full of clothing.

Lovely and delicious Zucchini Cupcakes with garden strawberries on a plate from Anthropologie.

I don’t have a pic of the Zucchini Pie because it got eaten so fast and I forgot to take it before.
Zucchini Pie
3 cups grated zucchini
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup all purpose flour or ½ whole wheat
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tbs fresh basil
cayenne to taste
3 beaten eggs
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup cheddar or jalepeno cheese

Mix onions, zucchini, eggs, oil, cheeses, spices, mix flour and baking powder, fold into wet mixture.  Spoon into oiled 9×9 square pan and bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes. Delicious hot or cold.

Beautiful driftwood from Carlsbad beach I found while I was watching the kids surf.
Horseshoe crabs from Cape Cod we mounted on driftwood from a trip to visit my son last year.

“Mom, I’m hungry!”

That’s the rallying cry from the moment my son and daughter-in-law’s plane touched down (an hour late at 12:20 a.m.) until the moment they left Sunday on the red-eye.

And I had such a great story to tell until my words disappeared. I thought WordPress automatically saved drafts, but not this time. All the pithy, witty, funny, poignant commentary is gone-vanished-poof-a chimera that was. How could a draft be deleted? I went through…Oh well, it was an overview of my weekend in which I went back in time to when mom and maid were synonymous, they both start with“m” and who can tell the diff?

I cooked and cleaned, and cooked some more.  Our tradition is to bring a snack for the long (thirty-five minutes) drive home from the airport. Being late meant they were super hungry, not just hungry hungry. They gobbled up the cheese and crackers and grapes and ginger tea like they hadn’t eaten in days. My mom-ESP was on high alert so I had made a Zucchini Pie earlier in the day, as well as Zucchini Cupcakes and Brownies. This hot weather we’re having caused all the zukes to ripen at the same time, so I had to find recipes to accommodate the harvest.  After a 1am feeding, they went to bed. That was just the beginning…the next morning I drove them down to the beach to go surfing and waited and watched-it was a gorgeous day–after a couple hours we came home and while they were showering, I made Breakfast Burritos and a fruit salad. An hour or so after that, it was time for lunch of Tuna Melts and then a mid-afternoon snack of guacamole and chips, and then dinner (we went out for sushi), and an after dinner snack. Sunday was a repeat of Saturday except I washed, dried, and folded all of their clothes and removed a stubborn stain from a pair of my daughter-in-law’s white jeans. I’m the go-to gal for stain removal.  It’s a gift, what can I say. I used hydrogen peroxide and bleach and enzyme release and baking soda with an old toothbrush, and we were able to salvage the $200 jeans.

And just to be clear, they are 31 and 29 and both have their Ph.D.s in Germanic Languages and Literatures (my son) and Neuroscience(DIL) so it’s not like they’re totally helpless. It’s just a mom thing. And what can I say; it gives me great pleasure. I’ve observed that there are two types of Jewish moms: the ones who have maids and cooks and travel a lot and are removed from the daily deets of their childrens’ lives, and my kind of mom who lives and breathes for every breath and word that radiates from their being. Talk about unconditional maternal love! I take it to that uber-level. I still like to hear him say, “Mom, mom, did you see that wave I caught?” or “Mom, I’m hungry”, or “Mom, sew up the hole in my pants, (shirt, sweater, jacket…)” So, it’s just an extension of that uber-Jewish-momness to include his wife under my wings. It’s still nice to feel needed, no matter how old they are.

It was 3:00 Sunday afternoon when I had a moment to check my email. The kids were on the deck enjoying smoothies and cut-up fruit. I’m not exaggerating when I say my son eats from the moment he wakes up until he goes to sleep. He’s a little over six-feet and weighs about 150. He’s not hypoglycemic or anything-no medical problems, just a highly functional metabolism  I’d hate him if I hadn’t given birth to him. He eats anything that 1. isn’t nailed down, and 2. isn’t breathing.

My eyes can’t believe what I’m reading, travel arrangements for the next day–MONDAY–for my captain. Are you kidding me? Tomorrow? Not only was he going to miss seeing the kids, but I was absolutely not at all prepared for a proper homecoming!!! He wasn’t supposed to be back until October, but when we finally talked a bit later,  he was coming home because there was another assignment they wanted him to take, so everything happened fast. Right.  There would be no perfumed and ironed sheets this time. I had loads and loads of sandy towels to wash, the house was a mess, and so was I.

After I returned from yet another drive to the airport, I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the sofa with a glass of proseco in my hand. I woke up around 1:00 a.m. without having spilled a drop (!) and went to bed, setting my alarm for 6:00 a.m. It was going to be a long, long day until my husband’s arrival at midnight…


Birds on Boats

Last year, somewhere in Alaskan waters, a remarkable thing happened on my MM’s boat.  A bird crashed onto the deck of the tug, and he thought it was badly hurt and might not survive.  He said it seemed to have been knocked unconscious for a moment or two, but  then shook its head, sat up, and surveyed its surroundings. My captain wrapped it in a towel and put it in a big crate in a protected area near the bow. He called me ‘cos I’m the one everyone goes to to help any kind of animal. He described it as having a crest and webbed feet and we figured it must be a seabird.  I did a bit of research, and based upon his description, it appeared to be a Crested Auklet.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife (2006), a Crested Auklet is a small, peculiar-looking seabird with a bright orange bill (during breeding season) and an eye-catching crest ornament, which is present in both sexes. Males and females prefer mates with large crests and have a distinctive tangerine odor to their plumage.
During the breeding season, this bird is found only in the Bering Sea and adjacent North Pacific Ocean, and nests in colonies on remote coastlines and islands.
Summer foods include marine invertebrates and less frequently fish and squid. Crested Auklets often forage in large flocks. To capture their food, birds dive from the surface and pursue the prey in underwater “flight”.
In Alaska, Crested Auklets are found in the Bering Sea, on the Aleutian Islands, and on the Shumagin Islands.

He chopped up some sardines and put it in the crate along with some water, and the bird seemed to be very comfortable and even alert. After a day or so, I thought the tug might be getting too far away from its habitat, so I called the Audubon Society and they put me in a touch with a bird rehab center. They suggested creating a bathtub with seawater so the bird could take a dip, and that it probably had a head wound. If the bird did not fly away on its own, when the tug got into a port, they would fly someone down to claim it and bring it to the rehab center to recuperate.

Apparently this happens frequently on boats that crisscross oceans. Most of the time, however, they don’t survive the contact. I’ve been on a few tugs myself and hit my head and stubbed my toe often enough to know how much it hurts!

The happy ending to this story is that the auklet flew off the next day and hopefully has learned to stay away from boats.

Building a Paper Titanic

When he’s home,  after he catches up on his sleep, my captain likes to have projects to keep busy, whether it’s around the house or something creative. 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 Live, and General Hospital. Three 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 the wedding of Charles and Diana 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.

Swimsuits And Cellulite, Oh My!


Could this day have been any more discouraging…I think not.

At the gym; stupid instructor – well, not the regular one, but a substitute — didn’t show up to teach Boot Camp because apparently she went to the wrong location and that left about thirty pissed off women with nothing to do but shop for groceries or shop for clothes or shop for jewelry or do all three.

We were all at loose ends, complaining about our entirely wasted morning.

But something was bothering me; I was preoccupied– the thought of what I had to do was haunting my very existence.

I attempted to put it out of my mind—it was essential that I take a deep breath, gather all my courage, and dig down deep inside for all the moxie I could muster. I could not put this task off any longer.

“You can do it, I know you can”.

I could just hear my husband cheering me on as if he was right here with me.

I will meet this challenge with fortitude and resilience.

I am made of sterner stuff, I’m a trouper.

I’m pep-talking myself, and since I’m sitting in my car in the parking lot, no one can really see how crazy I am.

I will overcome my fears.

I must. I have to. It’s now or never. Do or die. DO IT NOW.

There is no other option.

OK. Here it is. I have a real (totally not irrational) fear of trying on swimsuits.

This time I don’t have a choice.

The last one I bought was in 1995 and it has actually disintegrated. The material is threadbare and falling apart.

The elastic is so stretched out, the bottoms fall off.

If that hadn’t happened I’d still be wearing it ‘cos for me, there is nothing more humiliating and depressing and ego-reducing and self-esteem deflating than trying on a swimsuit.

It’s a nightmare scenario.

The reality was every bit as bad as I thought it would be.

The last time I liked the way I looked in a swimsuit in a three-way mirror was like never, and it’s even worse now.

I warily approach the racks of sparkled-up, fringy, polka dotty teeny weeny bikinis.

It’s go time. It’s now or never.

I’m not really a one-piece girl; I’ve never ever worn one; they’re just not flattering on me.

I sighed, whispered to myself an affirmation about being happy in my own skin, and grabbed a handful of suits and ran off to the dressing room.

I’m determined to come away with a purchase.

To give me a bit of confidence, I tried on a cute top and was able to take a quick peek in the mirror and not be reduced to a mass of melting ego.

So far, so good. I turn around so I can’t accidentally catch a glimpse of myself before I’m ready and slip on the bottoms of the first suit.

I don’t even bother looking—it’s too tight, and all I need is to see any excess fat hanging over and you might as well just put me away for a three-day psych eval.

This whole time, I have this dialogue running in my head – don’t give up, it can’t be that bad, you work out a lot, you look fairly good in clothes, people do this all the time. You go, girl! So, I pulled up another bottom and these don’t feel too tight.

The dreaded moment of reckoning was upon me.

Stupid three-way mirror.

Stupid fluorescent lighting.

If I squint, it won’t seem so bad.

I start the viewing in safe mode at my ankles and raise my eyes ever so slowly past my knees to the part of me I hate the most, above my knees and below my hips,

I can’t even say it, you know what I’m talking about.

Aww geez, it’s worse than I thought.

How in the world did I amass such ugly body parts?? Craters of cellulite, a lumpy bumpy mess, a horrible mass of horribleness, just hideous.

How did this happen?

Three-way mirrors ought to be banned. I should never have to see that rear view.

No one should.

But it’s too late to turn back now.

I am 100% committed (I know, I SHOULD be committed) to seeing this thing through.

Maybe if I put a ton of self-tanner on, it will hide it all.

I need a drink, I need chocolate.

I needed to get out of there before I had a complete meltdown.

I grabbed the suit before I could change my mind, and the first thing I did when I got home was to cut out the size label.

I never ever ever ever EVER want that as a constant reminder of one of THE most humiliating experiences I’ve endured.

Not that anyone will see me in that suit because I’ll most likely wrap a pareo cover up or scarf around the offending/offensive parts.

At least I won’t have to endure this particular brand of hell  for another seventeen years, and for that, I’m grateful.

The Pony Express

I have a problem with the United States Postal Service. I am really frustrated with their inconsistent delivery. I mail a lot of packages–to my son who has worked and gone to school in Germany and to his and my daughter-in-law’s home back east–and of course to my captain when he is near a port long enough to be able to receive mail. Care packages from home mean so much to him.

The most recent problem came on August 3 when I mailed to him a Medium Flat Rate box full of cookies, Deadwood second season DVD, and a variety of teas. I added a Delivery Confirmation so I could track its progress.  I mailed pretty much the same exact box to my son. For both of them, the “expected delivery date” was August 6. Great, right? The cookies would still be fresh! Well, my son received his box as expected on the right day. My captain’s box seemed to disappear along the way. I went online to see that it could be tracked to a certain point and then it stopped. I called the 800 number on Saturday and they were kind of unhelpful in that they couldn’t answer the question about what happened to the package, but yes, it should have arrived, and a postal service representative would call me on Monday and she gave me a case number to initiate an investigation. As it was, no one called me at all, but I called (‘cos I’m a great believer in following up) and spoke with someone else who said the “expected delivery date” is not a guarantee. It basically doesn’t mean anything. WHAT???? Then, what does it mean? When I asked why that is, and why is the delivery sometimes so prompt and sometimes things never get to where they’re going (another story) she did not have an answer for me. I think she was getting frustrated with me because I really wanted to know why their service is so inconsistent and her responses were unsatisfying and didn’t really address the issue. We should be able to trust that any mailed item would reach its destination.  I guess I’ll try FedEx next time. They seem to be more successful at prompt delivery. Oh, I finally discovered the package got there yesterday (Sunday) but home baked cookies are best eaten right away, not ten days later. My captain still doesn’t have it, however, because he had to leave to deliver some equipment to another port and won’t be back for two days. How annoying! The USPS financial problems and loan defaults are all over the news, and I really wish they did a better job!

P.S. The package that was completely lost was probs the most important thing ever: the books for my son’s dissertation. Last summer, he attended a seminar here and I mailed his research books back to him on the east coast so he would have a bit less to carry while he was travelling. The books never got to him. Ever!  After an exhaustive number of telephone calls and letters and forms filled out, three months later a piece of the box was mailed back to me. Yes, a piece of the box. From a tiny post office in a tiny town in Massachusetts.  It made it most of the way, I guess. No books, however. When I pointed out to yet another USPS employee that the Pony Express could have gotten from coast to coast in less time than that, they did not share my sense of humor. Some of the books belonged to Yale and Brown and there were library fines incurred and the other books were integral to his dissertation and needed to be repurchased. Even worse was the file of handwritten notes that could never be replaced. More stress is the very last thing a graduate student needs especially near the end of his academic journey. As a last resort, I wrote our congressman, outlining each and every detail of each and every book and of the entire debacle (one never stops being a momma bear), and was very surprised when a staffer called me back, and even more surprised when we received a check to cover the repurchase of the books and library fines. If I had not been so very diligent, my son (I mean me) would have been $500 poorer. If only I could be paid for the hours I spent on the telephone, composing letters, filling out forms, emailing and mailing them back, I would be able to get that Chanel handbag I so want…I mean, need.

Hot Days and Blue Jays

Skinnny Cow ice cream. 150 calories and delicious. Nuff said.

I had a very productive day in spite of the fact that we’re having record breaking heat. We don’t have air conditioning because there are typically so few days a year that are this unbearable. We have ceiling fans and a standing fan, but right now they are merely moving hot air around.

I couldn’t stand it any longer and went shopping, where it was air conditioned and also crowded-obvs everyone else had the same idea of cooling off. I got a lamp that’s a perfect size for the piano and a pack of eighteen velvet slim hangers. I have been on a mission to replace all of my ugly plastic hangers with this new version and I’ve pretty much completed my clothing; this time I was working on the captain’s clothes.  It was a very satisfying task to line up all his shirts facing the same direction with matching hangers.

Every morning and afternoon a family of scrub jays comes to visit and eat; they love raw nuts. They’re such smart and friendly birds. Every year they bring their new batch of babies so we get to meet the entire family. If they come by and we haven’t put their nuts out, they look in the windows and squawk until we do.