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Naturally Weird

Being a two-timing widow is weird. If others have had this same misfortune, I would certainly like to hear from them. You marry someone and spend many wonderful years together. Then, after a peaceful sleep together your husband doesn’t wake up. It sounds so simple, so easy to comprehend. You go to sleep, your heart stops beating, you die. Life is over.

Digital image

Unlike life which eventually ends, time continues. You discover someone else who you take a fancy to. In turn, they like you. Why not build a life together? Each person brings an inner joy to the other. You set up housekeeping. You dance together, you read stories to each other, and eventually you share the same bed. Then, after a peaceful sleep together, feet entwined, this person with whom you pledged to live together with until you die, doesn’t wake up.

How can this be? How can this happen? How do you deal with more of life’s seemingly simple things? I have my favorite picture of each of these fine men hanging in a prominent place. Today is Ron’s birthday. Friends graciously invited me to spend the day with them celebrating his life. Every June I have done something special to appreciate Dan. Now, I have two birthdays to celebrate. I guess it is like celebrating the life of a mom and a dad, whom you love both, equally. I just never met anyone who, like me, has woken to two different lovers, who left silently in the night.

It all feels so weird. So, f_____ up. To be lucky in love twice. To be widowed twice. . .


A Single Day, A Single Life

The misty, snowy day faded into dusk. It was a subtle transition as yesterday’s clouds dulled the colors of the tall pine and juniper trees. In contrast to the darkened tree trunks, the snow’s whitest white presented a Norman Rockwell painting. 

The slightest amount of sunshine hid behind wispy clouds. This caused the snow to dissipate into the ground. There were no puddles of slushy snow. From inside our house I could see the ground cropping up from beneath the snow. The brown dirt and low lying bush-like plants emerged as if pushing themselves up through the moisture filled snow. 

With nightfall approaching I turned on the living room light. It cast a soft romantic glow. The wood burning in the stove allowed another log to join its glowing coals. I turned on the stove’s fan and opened its door an inch or two. This expelled the heat into our living room. It got so hot I moved further away from the crackling fire. Outside the birds were off to their nightly retreat. Darkness fell. Upstairs the loft was quite warm. Yet, my preference to watch the fire’s glow kept me on the ground floor. 

Tears filled my eyes for the loved ones who died: my dad, my brother Harry, my husband Danny, my friend’s daughter Nicole, and more recently my life mate Ron. Thoughts of these people moved me from the Costa Rican rocking chair, that my sister gave me, to the soft cuddly couch that came with the purchase of our house. As I folded a blanket so its double layer stretched from under my chin to the bottom of my feet, an unwelcome pity party showed up. 

To thwart the self-indulgence I listened to a podcast sponsored by TED TALKS. It was an uplifting tale told by a lady who praised her single life style. At age 63 she never married. Me, well, I wouldn’t trade a single day of my married life with Dan, or a single moment living with Ron during his life’s last chapter. This morning when the sun cast its light onto my awakening eyes, I felt the embrace of a challenging life ahead.

Uh-oh, I Hit My Teacher, , ,

      In the middle row, in the front seat of our sixth-grade classroom sat Eddie, the class clown.  About three seats back and in the row to the left, sat I. Our teacher, Mr. Matthews, sat behind his desk which was placed front and center facing the class. At the beginning of each day when Mr. Matthews stood up we knew it was time to say the Pledge of Allegiance. He followed the pledge by reading a passage from the bible. Then, the class sang the first verse of My Country tis of Thee. On this particular day, our usual English lesson was postponed.  Rather, Mr. Matthews told us to clean out our desks. 

            One by one I took a book out and placed it on my seat. I was kneeling in order to get eye level with the inside of a dark mish-mosh of school related stuff. Spelling papers, with 100% printed in red at the top, along with unfinished math worksheets were pulled from the rubble. Notices that I was supposed to have taken home appeared. An overdue library book, with its cover now bent, slid out. After indistinguishable papers, broken pencils and crayons were retrieved, I reached my arm into the recesses of the dark corners of my desk. 

            “EWWW,” I felt something squishy. I wriggled my nose and with trepidation I used the ends of my fingers to maneuver whatever lurked inside. I knew I had to get it out. When it was almost outside of my desk I squirmed. It was a scrunched up brown paper lunch bag. Despite my hesitation, my curiosity got the best of me. I opened it. “Phew,” it was a moldy peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Instinctively I squashed the mushed bag shut. Hoping no one saw it, I shoved it under the books and papers already surrounding me on the floor. 

            Suddenly, I heard Eddie shout, “Here, take mine too!” As I looked up a pile of papers hit me. Gravity fell them to my feet. Angrily I waded up some paper and made a really tight ball. Then, I mustered up as much strength as I could. I pitched the best pitch of my life. The ball was streaming right toward Eddie.

            Eddie ducked. My perfect pitch hit Mr. Matthews right between his eyes. No one was more stunned than I. In a soft voice, barely above a whisper, Mr. Matthews enunciated these words, “Go  to  the  Office.” 

            Sheepishly my head hung down. I stared at the floor that led me out of the classroom, down the hall and into the Principal’s Office. I was scared. Next, I remember dad escorting me to the car. He muttered something about having to leave work to come and get me. I didn’t know what to say. The indignation of it all silenced me.

       A few months later I became the only one in our class who Mr. Matthews did not pick to sing in the Christmas. Was the teacher getting revenge? I’ll save story for another blog. 

Sassea’s Home

Home, Home on the Range 12/5/18

             It was 5:30 am when I was overwhelmed by the sight of the snow-capped Spanish Peak Mountain outside my driver’s side window. With Orion in the western sky surrounded by a display of sparkling stars I pulled over to catch my breath. Here it was on this year’s 4thday of Chanakah when little old me was surrounded with such beauty. I was so blessed to have the sweet side of our bittersweet world embrace me. There wasn’t a single other car, truck or van on the road. I took a few deep breaths before easing my mini home back onto the road.

            Being awake during my favorite time of day I vowed to enter our driveway at first light. I turned up the volume on the radio. ZZ Top was blasting out their hit song proclaiming what I have a propensity for, ‘A Sharp Dressed Man.’ After all it was Ron wearing his baggy tan pants and Dan wearing his surfer digs when each of these fine gents stole my heart (years apart of course).

            This morning’s joy was such a contrast from yesterday’s doldrums when I eased along Highway 82 between Amarillo, Texas and Raton, New Mexico. I was thankful to be off the interstate system on which I had been driving on since leaving Jacksonville, Florida. The hilly stretch of a backroad boasting a 75 mile an hour speed limit surrounded by miles and miles of pastureland and cotton fields was delightful. There is something about wide open spaces. Despite my complaint about maintaining our home so far from the sea, it was a peaceful end to my 65 days on the road visiting friendsamily* and boat shopping.

            To those folks who I did not see, I apologize. Everyone who I have ever met during my short lifetime, has a place in my heart. To all who I had a chance to spend time with, know that it was quality time at its best.

            My inherited mini home, Ron’s van, became the perfect vehicle. I can back that sucker into the tightest spaces, change lanes without flaw, and cook up gourmet meals. The onlytime I slept in someone’s house was Thanksgiving night when I was at the home of my neice. The onlytime I paid to stay at a camp ground was during my four days in Cedar Key. The only regret I have is referring to the van as the consolation prize. Indeed, it is the most cherished possession of all Ron and I embraced. On equal footing, is the precious money Danny and I accumulated.. There better be a heaven for these handsome wonderful men. 

            Now, sitting before the fire anticipating fun times with my Coloradofriendsamily I feel good. Got the wood stove stoking, brand new electric blanket warming, and a cup of the coffee that, as always, is good to the last drop.     

*friendsamily = friends +family when individually these fine folks becoone in the same..

Cedar Key November 2018

Peddle, Sail, Motor Your Way–new prototype 

Rain, Rain, Don’t go Away

While the epic children’s song wishes the rain would go away, this adult is hoping it stays. I want a day to be by myself, to write, to read, to think. Typically I schedule things to that involve other people.  Mostly, I enjoy thecompany of others. Sometimes, though I want to make writing a priority. On this road trip between boat shopping and visiting, I have let my fitness and writing routines wane.

My lack of staying physically fit reared its ugly head yesterday. A sailing friend, Phil lent me his sunfish so I could participate in a regatta held at the Melbourne Yacht Club. Ten women entered the competition. Several I recognized from my sunfish racing days nearly ten years ago. Several new faces emerged on the course. Whereas it should have been a delightful time, and whereas I did pride myself in not flipping over in the 25 knot gusts, at the end of the day I retreated to my mini home. I just felt out of shape.

When morning came I boiled water for coffee, went inside the clubhouse to take care of ‘morning business’ then returned home. With the forecast for thundershowers I thought about packing up the boat but decided to wait for a lull in the rain.

Being out of synch with the boat’s instability, especially when having to jibe in windy weather,  made the racing more of a learning experience than a competitive event. Dinner’s typical regatta food of reheated thick noodled, cheese laden lasagna sat in my stomach like a lead ball. Everyone but me seemed content to sit and chat. No doubt they were tired from five races and enjoyed sharing their personal wins and losses of their day. Feeling emotionally disconnected from crowd, and to ease my bloated stomach, I went for a stroll around the neighborhood.

I didn’t even put my headphones on and play itunes. As I walked around the familiar territory I yearned for days gone by. The yacht club, racing, and interacting with these folks used to drive my every day’s plan. Thoughts of Bill, my sunfish coach and dance partner, who passed away a few years ago, wasn’t here. Danny, who died on Nov 17, 2010, wasn’t at home waiting for me to share our day’s events, and Ronald, that big smiled guy who brought organization to my life left me to finish our life together alone. And, now with the rain washing the road dirt from the top of our van, tears trail down my cheeks. Maybe, just maybe the rain will stay today to flood my plans with happy thoughts of yesterday.  And maybe, just maybe I will get some exercise and writing done,,,

Walking Away

I am compelled to copy a short paragraph from page 56 of Deb and TJ Akey’s book, “How NOT to buy a cruising book. Just two days ago I cried for for an hour after rejecting an offer I made on a CSY 33.  I convinced myself it was the perfect offshore cruiser for me. A thorough inspection was done by a professional surveyor and by two experienced circumnavigators on a CSY 44. Reading the surveyor’s report and hearing what my CSY expert friends told me, I knew I had to decline the purchase at the agreed upon purchase. Before I put my phone back in its case after telling the broker I was cancelling our contract my eyes welled up with tears. For the next hour I cried while driving away from Miami’s Dinner Key Marina to visit a sailing friend in Port Charlotte. I finally calmed down when remembering the Melbourne Yacht Club was hosting their annual adults in prams race that night. I changed course and headed north.

The next day I resumed my internet boat buying search. I also looked for more information on buying a used boat. When I read page 56 in the book by Deb and TJ Akey I decided to reprint this paragraph in hopes of reminding myself and others that walking away is the ticket to finding the perfect boat.

 Yup, walk away from that first real prospect.Shed a tear if necessary, but 

  walk away. It is good practice. It will set the proper head, harden the heart,

 and give the broker a chance to earn his or her cut. Look at some other boats.

 I’m not saying that the first boat can’t be the boat in a week or month.

 In all likelihood, it will still be around. …. Good boats do grow on trees.

 Another deal will be along shortly If the broker is any good he or she will

  know about it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Am I Confident

While staying at the house of my sailing friend, Dorie, I picked up a two year old copy of one of her professional journals.  A picture of a handsome bearded man caught my attention.  Apparently he was a journalist turned screenwriter. His name is Mark Boal and like me he asked himself a rhetorical question, “Am I confident?”

Unlike Mark’s answer to this question, which was ‘no,’ I am at least somewhat confident. Mark asked himself this question during an interview with Vanessa M. Gerari for a Fall/Winter 2016 article in the Columbia Journalism Review. Mark explained his position in these words. “You hit your thirties and you go fuck it. It’s now or never.”

Considering that I am 70, I had to laugh at his youthful spirit. If an interviewer asks me if I am confident about continuing my quest to sail alone to faraway places, my honest answer is ‘well sort of.’ My confidence is a mixture of yes and no.  I am certain I can afford to purchase a seaworthy sailboat. I am certain I can leave my house for a few years. I am certain I can sail.

Sailing and seamanship are different. I can make a boat go upwind, trim for speed, tack, jibe and drop an anchor.  Seasmanship requires much more than that. Am I smart enough to predict counter currents, weather and foreign aids to navigation? Sure, I safely entered and exited harbors alone while I transitted the Bahamas, Turks and Dominican Republic. My GPS was dependable.  What if it breaks and I have to rely strictly on visual navigation? Just writing about my seamanship insecurities is causing stress.

Pardon me while I take 5 deep breaths. 

In through my mouth, hold a second or two, exhale slowly. 

Again and again then two more iterations.

Wow, now in a more relaxed state I remember what John Marples, designer of my previously owned trimaran advised. Unhesitatingly he said, “Buy 2 or 3 portable hand held GPS units for back up.” Sounds like a simple solution (as long as the batteries stay charged).

Speculation about the myriad of wrongful possibilities leads to prevention planning. What better place to plan than here inside my 24-foot land yacht, outfitted by my beloved Ronald O, which his family generously left for me. So it is that my indomitable spirit proclaims it is now or never.

(PS, that is BEAR in the picture. He is my land yacht companion gifted to me from Colorado friend, Norine. He certainly looks better than a selfie of me at this hour of the morning).

 

Update October 14, 2018

About 15 days have passed since I ventured into this journey from my comfy country cabin in southern Colorado to the world’s best humidifier (Florida). Boat shopping and hanging with girlfriends and family has been a whirlwind. Regardless of how my days are being planned the norm is driving a minimum of 100 miles.

This journey’s purpose transformed from a vision into reality on September 28. After two days of drive/rest/drive/east in an iterative relaxing rotation, Bear, Teddy and I safely arrived at the Blue Water Bay Marina Complex in Niceville, Florida. Spending the night in their parking lot provided a welcome respite. I have all the essentials in my 24 foot long Mercedes sprinter van. The twelve day preparation period for this journey, as you may have read on my previous blogs, was an emotional nightmare.

From the daily trauma of waking up each morning in widowhood to budgeting for a preferred future, to appreciating family and friends, the journey reminds me I am a lucky gal. Those who I believe are my friends, are acting like friends. These woman live intriguing lives. From my sister who has become my best friend, to my sailing/dinner making friends Pat, Linda n Maryanne, to my ladies coffee and wine Wednesday crew, to my teaching colleagues and to my newest, most musically inclined cowgirls n hiking buds, Debbie, C. Phyllis, Marsha, Polly Judy, Mary, and Deb G.,,,,I am blessed. —oh yea and my cousins Ann, Necee and Nori are the best!

Just so everyone knows here is the immediate plan.

Nov. 4- 7 dentist and friends

Nov. 8- 11 sailing conference

No. 15 – 18 sailing conference

Between dates I am shopping for the next legendary sailing craft and visiting folks not yet on the schedule.

Also so you know this is the minimum boat criteria:

35 to 45 feet in length

cutter rig

bluewater, structurally sound

ready to sail,,,NO fixer upper

1stchoice – trimaran    2nc choice – catamaran                                                                           3rdchoice – solomaran….:-)

 

 

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