Sassea Sails



October 2020

To Anchor or To Shovel, that is the question…

The night before my guests were to be at the airport for an 8:04 morning flight home, we decided to drive closer to Colorado Springs. It was a bumper to bumper slow go. Darkness fell along with the falling snow. We were grateful that Rick took the initiative to keep the ice from forming on the windshield. Nicole and I sang Christmas Carols.

Rick scraping ice off windshield along I-25 Sunday night.

The next morning, after leaving Rick and Nicole at the airport, I found myself on the interstate driving ever so slowly with the other foolish drivers. We were determined to get to our intended destinations. Cautiously, between 20 and 40 mph, I made the 100 mile drive in five hours. This time included a one hour brunch stop at the Village Inn off exit 102 on I-25 in Pueblo. It was a luxurious lunch. I took my time to sip hot coffee, eat a scrambled egg, with a slice of crispy bacon. M-m-m the good life, I thought.

Continuing from Pueblo to Walsenburg I drove in white out conditions. It wasn’t as treacherous as the white outs I experienced years ago in New Hampshire. There I couldn’t even see the side of the road. It was scary not knowing where the edge was. At least during this excursion I was able to see the sides of the road. Considering some areas of the interstate were bordered by substantial drop offs, I convinced myself that seeing the roadside markers made it safe enough to get myself home.

Drifting along I-25

I drifted along about ten car lengths behind a semi-tractor trailer. The day before, my visiting friend Rick, taught me how to use the manual shift. That allowed me to use the transmission rather than my brakes to adjust my speed. An occasional gust, of unknown velocity, blinded my view for a second or two. In contrast, there were a few times when my view was as clear as a sunny day (minus the sun).

Not exactly a welcoming site at the Walsenburg Exit

Approaching my hometown of Walsenburg I called ahead to ask friends what the conditions were leading to my driveway. US HWY 160 was open for traffic, as was my turn off onto County Road 510. Before breathing a sigh of relief, I was confronted with the four foot pile of snow left by the plow at the entrance to my street. I shut the engine off. Shutting my eyes I chuckled. It was hard to believe I safely drove from Colorado Springs to the edge of my property. Now, at the intersection of CR510 and Buffalo Drive South I couldn’t get to my driveway. I closed my eyes and sighed.

Looking onto Buffalo Drive South from CR 510. My property is on the right.

When I opened my eyes, I noticed the street to the north had obvious tire tracks. “Hm-m,” I reasoned. “If I follow those tracks I can visit my friend Phyllis.” I started the engine, put it in the lowest gear, and stepped lightly on the gas pedal. Like the little train that could, my trusty super Subaru, with its full time all-wheel drive got me up the small hill.

Looking onto Buffalo Drive North from CR 510.

Past the mailboxes and water tower, I discovered that the tire tracks lead to someone’s driveway. They did not lead me further down the road; no visiting Phyllis. Without enough room to turn around, I discounted a plan to back down the road. Doing so would have left me stranded at the intersection of CR 510, Not a good place to leave my car for the night.

What’s a woman to do? Well, this gal took the opportunity to introduce herself to the neighbor I had not previously met. It was embarrassing, but necessary. Pulling about two car lengths into their driveway, my super Subaru, had the power but not the clearance to make it further. Although the tire tracks were packed down to a few inches, and my tires had plenty of traction, the snow under the body of my super Subaru was too high. Happy that my engine allowed me to go forward. It also dismayed me when the snow lodged under the belly of my car leaving us solidly stuck.

With the temperature hovering around 16F, I bundled up. I had to force my car door open. The snow was at least two feet deep. With a huff and a puff, I pushed, closed the door and pushed it open 3 or 4 more times. Finally, I opened the door enough to get my, wish it was slimmer body, out. 

I stepped with my left foot which sunk to my knee. That wasn’t bad. But – t – t as I put pressure on it to get my body and right foot out of the car, my left foot sank to my knee. Puzzled about what would happen next, I burst out laughing as I proceeded. What happened next? I sank to my crotch. 

One foot, two foot,

Persevering, I managed to get all the way out of my super Subaru. Step by step, I followed the tire tracks down their twisting, turning driveway. It was a welcome site when I spotted their Bronco with a plow attached to the front end. Their house appeared. I knocked fervently on the door. A nice lady answered. I gave her my phone # and apologized for blocking her driveway. I told her I’d be back the next day. 

The walk home was amusing. That is, if you call walking about 400 feet (Or is it 400 yards? ) from the corner of my lot to my mud room door.

7000 feet above the sea

Thankfully, Rick and Nicole, my friends, who I took to the airport on this welcome to winter morning were helpful guests. Before leaving they filled up my firewood buckets so I’d have a week’s worth near the front door. All evening I sat, in front of a soothing fire, until I fell fast asleep.

Thanking Ron for our toasty warm wood stove.

Waking the next morning to a beautiful sunrise, I chatted with my endearing moral support group, Norine, Phyllis, Debbie and Judy. The owner of the house, Gary, where I left my super Subaru, called. He said he was sure I could get my car out. Slipping into my ski pants, wool gator, and gloves I was ready for the 1/4 mile trek back up the hill. As I stepped outside, a chunk of snow slithered off the roof and doused my head. It was 48F, warm enough to unzip my jacket and remove my ear muffs.

With total abandon, I shoveled part of the driveway entrance. Not wanting to expend all my energy, I sludged my way up the hill.  Wearing my snowshoes I sank about a foot into the snow. As luck would have it the strap on the left snowshoe slipped off my heel. Leaning over to fix it landed me face down in the soft powdery snow.

Reaching my car was like crossing the finish line of a long grueling foot race. I was elated. The icing on my cake was when my new neighbor showed up riding on his big boy tonka truck. With a smiling face he finished plowing the entrance to my driveway.

A most welcome smile.

It was an ‘a-ha moment when I was back inside my house. While my Florida friends ask, “Marlene, are you having fun yet?” I realize how this Norman Rockwell landscape is every bit as challenging, tranquil and beautiful as the most alluring anchorage. 

Appreciating the challenges, tranquility and beauty of life at sea or on the frontal range of the great Rocky Mountain Standing Waves.

Loneliness, Inspiration and Boredom

Writing my autobiography is more emotional than I considered. I began this project as a means of moving out of denial into acceptance. From childhood to old age, I felt the need to document my life’s experiences. Like Jimmy Buffet said about making his music for him, I write for me. Since my girlfriend JoAnne went away to college, leaving me behind to fulfill my parents idea of how my life should be, I wrote profusely. For two years I wrote to JoAnne every day.

When a guy, I thought was my boyfriend, went to Korea to serve our country, I wrote to him everyday, too. My unknown claim to fame was a story I wrote. It was about 20 hand written pages. Every sentence had the title of a song. One day, I hope to recreate a similar vignette.

What surprises me about writing my autobiography is how emotional it becomes. It seems each experience leaves me laughing so hard I feel silly or overcome with grief. Alone in my loft, alone in my house, alone to live out the rest of my life, an outsider might think I am ‘nuts’ if they suddenly walked in and saw me laughing like a fool or huddled in a fetal position.

My writing coach reminded me that Sally Fields spent 7 years writing her autobiography. I can see why it takes so long. Aside from getting the grammar correct and the order of things in order, the emotional response by putting events on paper, takes its toll. After each experience is documented, I need to take a break, go for a walk or call a friend. 

Still I find writing an effective way to deal with three things. Loneliness, inspiration and boredom. Loneliness, with its negative connotation goes against my usual sense of humor and carefree lifestyle. Inspiration aggrandizes hope. It allows me to think of what experiences lie ahead. Boredom, something boring people indulge in, just isn’t for me. I crave something to do. Something with a bit of a challenge. Whether it be shopping for a piece of furniture, landscaping our yard, or fixing my vacuum cleaner, writing is the perfect escape from tedious chores, and negative thoughts.  

Hell, I’m only 72 years old. I got a lot of living to do and new experiences to write about. 

Meet Ted and Toodles

Inspired by my sailing friend Suky Cannon’s facebook page of her buddies Margie and Doris, I decided to introduce Ted and Toodles. Ted, aka Teddy, has been with me since my first birthday. This makes him 71 years old. Santa brought Toodles to me when I was about 8 or 9 years old. Both Ted and Toodles have had an adventurous life. More than anyone else, they are the ones who know everything about me. From as far away as Jeffreys Baai, South Africa, to life aboard my 35 foot tri, these guys have been my calm in every storm and my joy in every day.

Ted, recently had a make over. In a future blog I will compare his original 70 year old look. I was determined to preserve him. His fur and material was so frayed I could pass a sewing needle through it without piercing a hole. Just passing the needle between the threads made it fray more. An acquaintance suggested I use baby socks to cover him. It worked like the charming bear he is. Stitching buttons from an old collection, to stitching his tiny smile took patience. One of these days his ears will be perked up. The original bell inside his left ear was replaced. When he has his ear implant his bell will again ring.

Toodles, is pretty much the same. Her skin is a hard plastic. Her dirty face is as clean as bleach will get it. Her left eye is sometimes sleepy. She used to wet her pants. Her worst accident was the result of rambunctious play. Her head popped off when she was only a day old. Inside her body was a red tube that connected her mouth to her hi knee hole. Changing diapers was never my thing. I was just as happy to throw the tube away. (Actually, I don’t recall what happened to the tube.) Feeding her fake food and pretend water has been my preference.

I have a great video of Toodles riding on the forward crossbeam of SPRAY while cruising the Bahamas. Ted was destined to stay below on cabin duty. He is too frail and small to risk riding on the deck. Even the cockpit is off limits.

Now, living in rural Colorado, as bizarre as it may seem, Ted and Toodles give me a sense of security, that despite the loneliness, I crave. Stay tuned for more in the lives of Ted and Toodles. You will eventually meet their brothers and sisters, and even their pets Bunny and Bear.

We Don’t Know

Before you tell me, “at least he died peacefully,” please consider what you don’t know. 

The mind is made up of complex mental processes, thought and consciousness. While we 

We caan speculate on what someone else is thinking. we can never know for certain.  The sad clown is a classic example. Laughing in front of people, painting an exaggerated smile on their face, and even playing practical jokes are characteristic of the funny circus clown. Do we really know what is behind the mask? Mental, emotional pain can be as frightful and horrific as physical pain. I know people say things to ease their own discomfort when talking about the deceased, I just wish they stopped making assumptions about things they know nothing about. 

Sure the thought of someone peacefully asleep is more pleasant than the vision of someone mangled from a head on car collision. Moments before the car crash the now deceased could have been the happiest in their life. It sounds gruesome but whether a person dies in a horrific crash or at home in their bed snuggled with their loved one, we don’t know what really goes on in the mind of someone else.

Maybe I have been alone too long causing me to think these thoughts. It just struck me when the other day someone said, “At least Danny died peacefully.” For some reason, I questioned whether or not he died with loving thoughts of his dad, his grandma or even me. Maybe the guilt he carried because he wasn’t home when his died was haunting him when he laid down for a nap.

I don’t know. I may never know. I just hope other people realize there is so much we don’t know about the mind and about death. Assumptions may help the living cope. We don’t know for certain. I certainly don’t know.

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