We are Mark and Judy Handley. We have been writing about our experiences on this website for almost eleven years now. For six of those years, we were sailing around the world on our 42-foot sailboat, Windbird. During those six years and the five years since our circumnavigation, we have posted a log almost daily. We lived aboard all of those years and loved every minute. But we have now sold Windbird and are living in a harbourside apartment in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. The website title has been tweaked just a bit to reflect our new status, “The Voyage of Windbird . . . and Beyond.” We decided not to change things totally because we want to leave the three and a half thousand daily logs and all of the accompanying photos on the website for anyone who might be interested. But for those who would like to continue to follow the current “Voyage of Windbird”, her new owners have a website that will chronicle the adventures. We are proud to introduce you to Sam and Dawn Weigel whose blog “Weigels on the Water” can be found at: http://wotwater.blogspot.com/

NOTE: Due to Google upgrading Picasa to Google Photos, many of our old photos are now broken.  We are actively working on fixing this – thanks for your patience!

Life After Windbird, Day 44: Taking Care of Business

Life After Windbird, Day 44: Taking Care of Business
Date: Sunday, September 25, 2016
Weather: Sunny, but Chilly and Windy; High 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

Yikes! It is suddenly very chilly here. I spent my entire day sitting at the dining table taking care of business and wearing a polar fleece jacket. It is a little hard to adjust to the sudden drop in temperature. But I was warm enough as I sat for most of the day sending out evite’s to friends to attend the October 4th celebration of life for Mark hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR). I still have a few more people to contact, but the inviting is mostly done. Tomorrow I hope to talk to Scott McPherson at NHPR to touch basis about the program for the event. But today, it was cathartic to just sit here and work on the computer. So that made it an easy day. I took breaks to measure for the possibilities of buying a tool storage unit for the bedroom, to eat lunch, and later in the day to watch a little political news on MSNBC. I haven’t watched television news since Mark died, but it is now time to get back into the fray. I also had a long telephone conversation with Sam Weigel, Windbird’s new captain. I helped my next door neighbor, Kat (short for Katherine) move some IKEA boxes containing bookshelves into her apartment, and then finally, I gathered up things that belong to the Goldstones and took them to their house. When I got there, I heard someone blowing the conch shell. That usually means dinner is ready, but this evening it was Ollie learning to blow the conch. He did a great job. I tried and still can’t do it. There must be some ‘trick’ that I’m missing since a four year-old can do it quite well. It was time for dinner there, so I gave the boys kisses and snuck out quickly.

It is just about two weeks to the minute since Mark died in my arms. Life goes on, but it is very, very different and difficult. I just feel empty. But I’m looking forward to the arrival of most of my nieces and nephews from my side of the family this Friday. That will make for a lively weekend. Then I head to New Hampshire on Tuesday, October 4th, for the celebration of Mark’s life hosted by New Hampshire Public Radio. Windbird’s new owners, Sam and Dawn, think they are going to be able to fly in for that event, so that will give me one more thing to look forward to. In the meantime, I need to get photos and stories gathered for the New Hampshire Public Radio event. Working on that will help me move forward one baby step at a time.

Life After Windbird, Day 43: Frustrating Day

Life After Windbird, Day 43: Frustrating Day
Date: Saturday, September 24, 2016
Weather: Drastic Drop in Temperature; High 62 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

It was a frustrating day, even though it started out great. Lee, ME, and Steve arrived about 8:30 am and we headed to Heather’s house. They said their goodbyes to the Goldstones and then we were off for Logan Airport in Boston. It was wonderful having Mark’s family here with me this week and I will miss them so much. We said our farewells at the airport and then I headed home. That’s when the frustrations kicked in. I had planned a couple of shopping stops along the way. With a 20 degree drop in the temperature from yesterday to today, I was reminded that I don’t have regular shoes that fit me—only sandals. So I stopped at the South Shore Mall about 10 miles south of Boston to go to The Walking Company, the shoe store recommended by the podiatrist at Mass General. But that was a complete bust as they don’t carry shoes in wide sizes. That was the first frustration. Then I looked for a couple of other things and didn’t find those either. That was the second frustration. After three strikes, I left the mall and headed to Home Depot. I wanted to buy a big tool storage unit to put all of Mark’s tools in. But that was a bust as well as I had forgotten to measure the spot where I can put a tool storage unit and I decided eye-balling just wasn’t going to do it—third frustration. But there are two Home Depots within thirty minutes of here, so I can measure and go to one of those to get the unit. I did find the few things I was looking for at Costco (hurray) and then I was on the way home.

I had planned to spend the afternoon figuring out which bills are paid automatically through bill pay, and which ones need monthly approval. Mark did all of our finances, so I knew I would need to spend some time learning this system. What I didn’t expect to find is that I no longer have a checking account and that our entire online bill pay system has been cancelled. Heather and I spent time at the bank last week making sure this would not happen, but somehow it has. I was on the phone for a very long time as the phone representative needed to talk to her manager to see if there is any way to retrieve the information that was in the bill pay system. But after a long wait, the answer was no. She opened a new bill pay account for me. I can go ahead and try to add the information back in, but I don’t have account numbers for some things because we no longer get paper bill statements. But even if I can figure out how to get the information into Bill Pay, it will do no good at all until I have a checking account. First thing Monday morning, I will be at the bank to find out where the account and the money in it has gone. How frustrating. But I took a deep breath and headed to Olivia and Terry’s for dinner. We were celebrating Bruce Woodin’s birthday belatedly and Jane’s sister Ann’s birthday a couple of days early. Olivia cooked a great Indian dinner that was appreciated by all. So the beginning and the end of the day was great. The middle part I could have done without. But tomorrow is a new day. And hopefully one sans frustrations.

Life After Windbird, Day 42: The Day After

Life After Windbird, Day 42: The Day After
Date: Friday, September 23, 2016
Weather: Mixed Sun and Clouds; High 80 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

The day after sending your soulmate’s ashes out to sea is the day when you start moving forward, one little baby step at a time. It was also a day with family and friends. Justin, Jo, and I got up at 5 am to get them ready for their return trip to Puerto Rico. After having them here for two weeks, it was very, very hard to see them drive away. But Coco and Ziggy need to return to school and Justin and Jo need to return to work. Things need to move back toward the normal. I had contacted friend Rick Smith to take them to the airport for their 10:45 am flight and I went back to bed for a bit. I got up for the second time at 8:30 to go with Lee to return the rental car. With Justin and Jo gone, we no longer needed two cars. At 9 am, ME, Lee, Steve, and myself met with Alan and Helaine Kanegsberg at Betsy’s Diner for breakfast. We all returned here and when the Kanesbergs left, the rest of us headed to Woods Hole for a little tour. The day flew by so quickly and mid-afternoon we took Mary Ellen home for a little nap while Steve, Lee, and I went to Heather’s to do a little backyard clean-up after last night’s celebration. We also took Chef Roland’s platters and bowls back to him. I came home for a short time to take care of some business issues and then at 5 pm, I went to Mariner’s Point to have happy hour with the Handley-French crew. We came back here for dinner that had been delivered by Bruce and Jane Woodin. They brought us a wonderful beef stew and it was so delightful to be able to just sit around and remanence about happy times we have spent together instead of having to cook dinner. Thank you, thank you to Bruce and Jane.

ME, Lee, and Steve fly back to Florida tomorrow. I have decided to drive them to Boston to the airport so that I can spend just a little more time with them. Once they are gone, I will have a week alone before some of my nieces and nephews fly in to visit next weekend. It is comforting to know that after a few days alone, I will once again be surrounded by family. Of course, I always have Heather, Jed, and boys, but it will be nice to have family staying here with me.

But the most important thing tonight is to get to bed a little earlier than I have been for the past few nights so I will have the energy for the drive to Boston. I’m going to do a little shopping on the way home and then go to dinner at Olivia and Terry White’s tomorrow night. Now is a time to be busy. After months of fighting with Mark for his life, always hoping for that miracle, but always knowing that eventually I would have to face the inevitable, I think for me it is best to stay busy for a time. Eventually I will slow down and reflect. But now is not that time for me.

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Life After Windbird, Day 41: Celebration of Life for Mark

Life After Windbird, Day 41: Celebration of Life for Mark
Date: Thursday, September 22, 2016
Weather: Sunny and Warm with Calm Seas; High 80 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

Today was a beautiful day in all ways. I was surrounded by perfect weather and loving family and friends as we headed out into the Vineyard Sound to send Mark’s ashes out to sea. We had one little glitch when one of the two engines on the boat wouldn’t start. But the captain just announced that we would have to move from the Islander to the Patriot Too. The Patriot Too is a smaller and slower boat, but it was dependable and we made it to Tarpaulin Cove. There we cut the engines and drifted while Olivia White led a beautiful memorial service. It was probably a bit long for the grandchildren, but they were all so good and patient. There were moments when I just couldn’t hold it together, but I just took a deep breath, looked at those beautiful grandchildren, and got those tears under control. Matthew Porat, son of friends Detta and Tom Porat, flew in from Utah, and he read a favorite poem of Mark’s by James Kavanaugh entitled, “There Are Men Too Gentle Too Live Among Wolves.” Mark’s brother and brother-in-law read remembrances from the Handley family, and my niece, Candice Todd, read part of letter she sent to Mark about a month ago that symbolized the way all of my nieces and nephews felt about Mark. Bruce Woodin read one of Mark’s favorite quotes from The Wind and the Willows by Kenneth Grahame: “There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as just messing about in boats.” And Mark’s other favorite quote was printed on the back of a card given to everyone present. I’ll end the log with that quote, but first I’ll complete the description of today’s memorial. We ended with the song that Mark sang to his children and that we still sing to grandchildren today. That is “Simple Gifts”, a Shaker song. Matthew Porat played that on his violin as we sang along. While Matthew continued to play, Heather, Justin, and I dropped the packet of ashes off the back of the boat and everyone present threw over a long-stemmed yellow rose and a rock with a message written on it for Mark. The grandchildren distributed the rocks and permanent markers for people to write their message which gave them a purpose. And kids just love rocks, so that was a great recommendation of Olivia’s. I think the whole program worked nicely and I think Mark would have approved. Our oldest grandchild, Sam, requested that we record the latitude and longitude where the ashes were sent out to sea. I think it was Alan Kanegsberg who got the position from the captain–not sure about that. But the position I was given was:
Latitude 41 degrees 28.841 minutes N
Longitude 070 degrees 43.713 minutes W

When we got back to Falmouth Harbor, we all headed to Heather and Jed’s for what the caterer told me would be a ‘light’ dinner. Everyone had the same reaction. If that was ‘light’ we would hate to see ‘heavy’. There was way more food than we could eat but it was really delicious.

This log is probably making no sense. I am really tired. Justin, Jo, and kids leave at 6 am, so we are getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning! I sure am going to miss them, but I’d best get to bed so I can at least rally in the morning to say our farewells. Once they leave tomorrow and Mark’s family leaves on Saturday, I will have my first test at how I am going to react to life without my soulmate. He would want me to be strong, so I’ll give that my best effort.

Life After Windbird, Day 40: Mark’s Family Arrived

Life After Windbird, Day 40: Mark’s Family Arrived
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Weather: Rain Early, Then Clearing; High 81 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

Too late and too tired. So this will be very short. Mark’s sister, brother-in-law, and brother arrived today. I drove to Boston to pick them up and did a little shopping at Costco on my way up. I also met with the caterer before leaving the Cape, so I think we are all set for Thursday. We have a charter boat and a destination, a person to lead us through our little ceremony, good friends and families that are going to attend, and a caterer to feed us at Heather and Jed’s afterwards. There are more details to attend to tomorrow, but at least I will have Mary Ellen, Mark’s sister, her husband Lee, and Mark’s brother Steve to help me. Heather, Jed, Justin, and Jo will get things ready at Heather’s house and it looks like the weather is going to cooperate. So things are looking good. Now to bed.

Life After Windbird, Day 40: Red Sails at Night . . .

Life After Windbird, Day 40: Red Sails at Night . . .
Date: Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Weather: Gorgeous Day, Great Sunset; High 78 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

“Red sails at night, sailors’ delight.” This rhyme has been used by sailors for over two thousand years to predict the weather. So I was elated tonight when there was a red sky indicating that we will have a good day to be out on the water tomorrow for our celebration of Mark’s life. But today we were busy with a bit of getting ready. We will be out on the Islander for two hours in the afternoon tomorrow and then we will return to Heather and Jed’s for a light dinner provided by a local caterer. We needed to get serving tables and chairs set up in Heather’s backyard, buy miscellaneous items, and order some others. Steve, Mary Ellen, and Lee did the running and buying—drinks, napkins, silverware, etc., etc. I ran errands in the morning and then helped get the backyard set-up, went to buy some mums, and actually went out and did a little shopping for myself. Jo helped Heather and Jed so some house cleaning. After school, Justin and I took the Fab 5 to Mariner’s Point, the motel where ME, Lee, and Steve are staying, to swim in the outdoor pool. Then they treated us all to a fabulous pizza dinner while we watched that beautiful sunset. Mariner’s Point is adjacent to a huge field that runs all the way down to the water—a great place for kids. There are lots of picnic tables and the weather was just perfect for an evening dinner outside. A big thanks to Mary Ellen, Lee, and Steve for hosting us. Unfortunately Heather and Jed could not join us. Tonight was Meet Your Child’s Teacher night at East Falmouth Elementary. Heather is co-president of the PTO and had to be there to greet parents and invite them to become more involved in their child’s education by coming to PTO meetings. That left Jed to go meet Sam and Jonah’s teachers. We missed them but understand that they were doing the most “importanent” thing. “Importanent” was Justin’s way of saying important when he was a wee one and I still love that word.

I have been spoiled by having Justin, Jo, Ziggy, and Coco here for almost two weeks. It has not been the visit they were expecting, but it has been a blessing to me to have them here. They leave on Friday and I’m already trying to figure out when I can fly down to Puerto Rico to visit with them.

Now off to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a tough one. Thankfully I will have my family and many good friends here to support me. Tomorrow is the fall equinox, so as does the earth, I will be entering a new season without the love of my life. So hard.

Life After Windbird, Day 39: Stormy Weather

Life After Windbird, Day 39: Stormy Weather
Date: Monday, September 19, 2016
Weather: Rain, Rain, Rain; High 76 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

We finally got some much needed rain today, but it came down so quickly and in torrents that much of it washed away. But that is better than no rain at all, which is what we have had this summer. Justin had to work today, I had an early morning chiropractor appointment, and Jo started walking with the kids to catch the bus to Woods Hole. When I returned from the chiropractor, it was beginning to rain really hard and I saw Jo, Ziggy, and Coco walking down the sidewalk. I stopped to pick them up and drove them to Woods Hole where they hung out for the rest of the morning. I came home for a short time to get ready for my meeting with friend Olivia who will leading Mark’s memorial on Thursday. I called to secure the Islander, the boat we will be going out on, tried to reach a caterer with no success, and then headed to the hospital for an annual mammogram. When that was done, I called Jo and found that she was still in Woods Hole. I had showed her the wrong place to catch the bus back to town, so they were waiting for the next one. I had time, so I drove down to pick them up and bring them home before meeting with Olivia. I wasn’t really prepared, so we’ll continue working on this over the next two days. But Olivia was so very helpful in getting me focused on what needs to happen. Tonight Justin, Jo, and kids went to see Pete’s Dragon. Ziggy came home and was soon ready for bed, but Miss Coco Belle is still running around in her very special impish little way. What a little character that one is!

What I didn’t get done today was pinning down a caterer for the ‘after’ party at Heather’s on Thursday late afternoon. I tried to reach them with no luck. If that continues tomorrow, I’ll just have to order things from the deli at the market across the harbor. It won’t be super fancy, but it will do. Tomorrow I also drive to Boston to pick up Mary Ellen, Lee, and Steve—Mark’s sister, brother-in-law, and brother. It will be wonderful to have Mark’s family here to complete the plans for Thursday.

Life After Windbird, Day 37: Finalizing Plans for Mark’s Memorial

Life After Windbird, Day 37: Finalizing Plans for Mark’s Memorial
Date: Sunday, September 18, 2016
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, High 80 degrees F
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

This is going to be another short log. Basically I spent a great deal of today planning for Mark’s memorial service on Thursday. Family and friends will be going out on a charter boat (not a sailboat) to a favorite family location in Vineyard Sound. We will then go to Heather’s for food and drink. It will be simple, but I am so glad that we are going to be able to take some of his ashes to a favorite place to send them out to sea. And more importantly, we will be on a boat. That’s the important part.

Heather, Jed, and boys came over for dinner tonight. I have never been the one to do the grilling in this family, but for the second time this week, I found myself at the grill to fix dinner tonight. Grilling was always Mark’s job. But I am learning, ever so slowly, to do this. Other things that were never “my job” were dealing with mail, bills, and electronics. The mail and bills are pretty straight forward except that bills are done electronically. So Heather and Justin are trying to spend some time with me bringing me up to speed. There was a time in my life when I was fiercely independent and could not imagine that I would ever need this kind of help. But children came along and we were so busy that we had to divide jobs. Once that was done, it stayed that way until now. Thankfully I have children who can help me with this transition.

Life After Windbird, Day 36: Soccer, Beach, and Planning

Life After Windbird, Day 36: Soccer, Beach, and Planning
Date: Saturday, September 17, 2016
Weather: Partly Cloudy, High 75 degrees F—Beach Perfect
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

Today was all about soccer, a walk to the beach with grandkids, and planning for Mark’s memorial service. The weather was beautiful and we all enjoyed watching Ollie and Jonah play soccer. Sam’s game was about an hour north and west of here in the afternoon, so we sent Jed and Sam on their way alone for that one. Jonah, Ziggy, Ollie, and Coco just wanted to play. But after a bit they got restless, so I walked with them down to the beach. We didn’t get in the water, but just relaxed in the glorious September sunshine. Falmouth Heights Beach has a concrete sea wall that is about five feet high. The Fab 5 minus 1 decided that running along the wall and jumping off was a fun activity and thankfully no one got hurt. But Coco did something I have never seen anyone do at that beach. Heather had come to make a drinking water delivery and we were standing on top of the wall. Somehow Coco scaled the wall and climbed up on top while wearing her little lace dress. She certainly shocked both of us. We think she must be part monkey.

We are still deciding exactly what we want to do for Mark memorial service. We know it will be on Thursday afternoon, and we are hoping it will involve a boat ride out to sea to scatter ashes. But beyond that, we just aren’t sure. I don’t think any of us are thinking clearly, but I’m confident that we’ll pull this together.

Life After Windbird, Day 35: Full Moon Bonfire

Life After Windbird, Day 35: Full Moon Bonfire
Date: Friday, September 16, 2016
Weather: Beautiful Cape Cod Fall Day
Location: At Home in The Studio #8, Falmouth, MA

It was a good day. Ollie couldn’t go to school since he had a fever yesterday and the school rule is to not send a child who has had a fever within the past 24 hours. So Heather dropped him here on her way to work this morning. Ollie was not totally recovered, but he was certainly feeling good enough to go with Coco, Ziggy, and Jo to the Heritage Museums and Gardens to play the day away in a beautiful setting. Since Jo had Heather and Jed’s van and Jed had a medical appointment and was not going to Woods Hole first thing this morning, Heather needed a ride to work. I took her to work and when I got back, Jo was ready to leave with the little ones. Then Justin did a bit of work and I did a bit of straightening before we both took off on separate ventures. Justin walked down the street to the Bank of America to set up some business accounts. I did some much needed shopping, went to the funeral home to pick up death certificates that are needed by Social Security, the bank, etc., stopped by the bank to deal with opening and closing various accounts, and by the time I was finished, it was time to go back to Woods Hole to pick Heather up and take her home so she could pick Sam and Jonah up from school. I then spent the rest of my afternoon seeking out possible venues for our seaside memorial event for Mark. I have some possibilities, but there are just not enough hours in the day to do all that needs to get done. But we switched gears for the evening and will start again tomorrow.

We had dinner at Heather and Jed’s again tonight. Heather and Jo had talked about having a bonfire, so I fixed dinner at Heather’s so we could then move to the backyard for the bonfire. Jed had prepared the fire before dinner, so we moved from the dinner table to the backyard and really enjoyed the fire. And what’s a good bonfire without making s’mores? So, of course, we did that. Justin played his new guitar, Ollie played Jonah’s ukulele, a neighborhood friend brought over a bottle of champagne to share, and we just generally enjoyed the beautiful full moon evening.
01-around-the-bonfire-ollie-plays-ukelele-while-uncle-justin-plays-guitar
Tomorrow is ‘Soccer Saturday’, so I’ll start my morning by walking to the soccer field to watch Ollie’s first soccer practice. He has a 10 o’clock practice, Jonah as a 12 noon game, and Sam and Jed head to Fall River for a game in the afternoon. Hopefully, in between all these activities, all of us will have some time to just kick back and relax this weekend. I think we all need that.