2021 Life Logs, Day 51: Winter Wonderland

2021 Life Logs, Day 51: Winter Wonderland
Date: Saturday, February 20, 2021
Weather: Snow Overnight, Mostly Cloudy Day; High 33, Low, 20 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

When I took Shadow out late last night, we were welcomed by snow. And by this morning, our world looked like a winter wonderland with snow laden branches bending under the weight of the heavy snow. I think we got another inch or two of the white stuff. It is so beautiful, but those bird songs I hear on my walks with Shadow are beckoning spring. It is a long way off, but I’m hoping that at least this is the last of the snow. Shadow, on the other hand, would probably like snow all year round. He loves to dig tunnels in the snow with his nose. I don’t know what he is looking for under there, but he sure was funny looking this morning when he emerged with a white, snowy face.

I spent a bit of time this morning trying to figure out how to make an appointment for a Covid vaccine. Unfortunately, I didn’t know until Thursday evening that the 65+ group can now make appointments in Massachusetts. The announcement was made Thursday morning and almost immediately the state website crashed for a couple of hours with so many Baby Boomers trying to make an appointment. I did try yesterday with no luck, but I had gotten some advice from a member of a Newcomers group I am in and thought I’d give it another go. The advice didn’t help. All available appointments in Massachusetts are currently booked, but the websites do say to keep checking as things could change from day to day. Some people who unsuccessfully tried all day on Thursday got up at 4 am on Friday and found success. I’ll be patient and keep trying, but I must admit that this is a frustrating process.

After striking out in my attempt to get a Covid vaccine appointment, I headed out to do some chores in town. I did a little shoveling to make a path from the road down the driveway to Heather and Jed’s front door, delivered the two pans of lasagna to their refrigerator, changed the guinea pigs’ bedding and fed them, did a couple of errands in town, and drove to water plants for friends who are out of town. I didn’t get a lot of writing done today, but I certainly enjoyed rereading the logs I wrote on our three-day passage from the eastern Caribbean to Bonaire. The first night’s log was entitled, “Somebody Left the Porch Light On.” On the first night of that passage, I’ll never forget coming up to the cockpit for my first watch and searching to find what light Mark had left on. The full moon was that bright. Sailing on the ocean offers so many wonderful experiences. And today while I was watching my gardening docu-series, I was reminded of the expanse of the world’s oceans. They contain 97 percent of the water on earth. The episode today was about the importance of water to plants. Not sea water, of course. But the focus was on giving plants the water they need without wasting a drop. There was this quote by scientist Sylvia Earle, “No water, no life. No blue, no green.”

I got a text from Heather around 5:30 pm saying they were a few minutes from being home. She sent a couple of photos of the happy winter vacation crew. They shared the rental in Bethel, Maine, with the other family in their pandemic pod, the Simpkins. The five boys looked very happy, but in one photo four of the boys were pointing at Sam’s feet. He was outside and barefooted. That’s our Sam. I’ll be anxious to talk with them tomorrow to find out all about their week skiing and snowboarding and to hear the result of the lasagna cook-off.

2021 Life Logs, Day 50: Happy Island

2021 Life Logs, Day 50: Happy Island
Date: Friday, February 19, 2021
Weather: Icy Rain; High 33, Low, 27 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Instead of snow today, we got icy rain. Thankfully, the temp was just enough above freezing that it mostly melted when it hit the ground and wasn’t as slippery as it could have been. It looks like we might get a little snow overnight and then I am ready for this to end. Watching the gardening docu-series is making me long for warmer weather.

As with everything in my life, I never seem to get as much writing done in a day as I had hoped, but I did finish Chapter 6 of The Voyage of Windbird and will launch into Chapter 7, Onward to the Pacific, tomorrow. I’ll share one little bit from Chapter 6 here.

“A unique experience we had while in Clifton Harbor in the Union Island anchorage was our visit to Happy Island. It is still there and when you Google ‘Happy Island Caribbean’ you find exclamations like “The World’s Coolest Beach Bar.” Happy Island is a very tiny man-made island just out on Newlands Reef which was in front of the Union Island anchorage. It is not everyone that decides to build an island, but a Union Islander named Janti Ramage did just that. He had a bar on the main island in Ashton. But few tourists got over there. He also worked for tourism and was trying to clean up the town. One of the major problems was all of the conch shells the fishermen left on the beach. So, he brought the conch shells to Newlands Reef, built his island, and opened his bar and restaurant in 2002. It was a barefoot kind of with water lapping all around you. If you let Janti know ahead of time, he would prepare a dinner for you, or you could just go out to enjoy the setting sun with a rum punch or a beer. The cost per drink was $10.00 EC (Eastern Caribbean dollar) which is about $3.75 US, twice the price of anywhere else we had been in the Caribbean, but it was well worth it. Happy Island is a little bigger now than it was in 2006 when we were there and Janti built has built a home next to the bar. Hives on his little island full time. In a current YouTube video he says he has gained his independence and lives a life free of stress. Janti, entrepreneur extraordinaire of the Caribbean.”

2021 Life Logs, Day 49: Snow, Perseverance, Compost Tea, Laundry, Lasagna, and Snorkeling

2021 Life Logs, Day 49: Snow, Perseverance, Compost Tea, Laundry, Lasagna, and Snorkeling
Date: Thursday, February 18, 2021
Weather: Snow (about 2 inches); High 32, Low, 22 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

What do snow, Perseverance, compost tea, lasagna, and snorkeling all have in common? The answer is me—my day. It is not every day that I can attach a title like to my daily log. I didn’t really get a lot of writing done today as I had planned, but I did finish writing about our time in Bequia and got us to the Tobago Cays where we had a fabulous snorkeling experience. This was enough to keep me warm today while the snow was falling outside. The rest of my day was filled with researching lasagna recipes and making the meat sauce, doing a laundry while feeding the guinea pigs, learning how to make compost tea for my gardens, following the successful landing of Perseverance on Mars, and walking and playing in the snow with Shadow. Oh, and I worked on my jigsaw puzzle. Basically, it was a day that included a little bit of everything.

I spent a bit of time this morning looking for a good recipe for lasagna with béchamel sauce. I asked Heather on Sunday night how her experiment of making lasagna for the boys went. It was an experiment because lasagna is not something they had ever eaten—too many things mixed together. But I was delighted to hear that both Ollie and Sam liked it. With that, I offered to make lasagna for them as a welcome home gift when they arrive back in Falmouth on Saturday. Lasagna used to be a staple food in our household, but I make it rarely these days. I looked forward to making it for the Goldpebbles. But then Heather added that the lasagna she made was a lasagna with meat sauce and béchamel sauce. Uh oh, I’ve never made béchamel sauce. Don’t even think I’ve ever heard of it. But I said I would give it a try. Then Sam chimed in and said he thought I should make two lasagnas, my special recipe and the lasagna béchamel. They could have a lasagna taste test. So, that is what I am planning to do. But this morning I was having trouble finding a recipe for a meat sauce-based béchamel lasagna. The béchamel seems to go with spinach lasagna. So I am just making up my own recipe. That will be tomorrow’s activity, although I did make the meat sauce tonight.

After my recipe search, I started writing. But at some point, I looked up and saw that it was snowing a little earlier than I expected. I knew I had to stop and go into town to feed the guinea pigs right then in case the roads were unpassable later. And while I was at it, I was going to put in a load of laundry. Last night I fed the guinea pigs later than usual so I could go mid-day today and just make the one trip due to the anticipated icy roads. Good plan, but the snow came so fast and so hard, that by the time I fed the g-pigs and did some grocery shopping for the lasagna cook-off, the drive home was a little dangerous. I just made sure I kept far away from other cars and did make it home safely.

I had already done my daily mile walk with Shadow, so when I got home, I brought him out to play in the snow. By this time there was almost two inches. I cleaned off the car again and did some shoveling while Shadow played and then I went in and got back to work. I finished watching yesterday’s gardening docu-series about making compost tea to feed your plants and I learned about biochar which can help your soil retain moisture. I need to learn more about this. And then it was time to check in on the landing of Perseverance on Mars. After traveling 293 million miles, this rover that is about the size of a car landed successfully on Mars. What an incredible feat. I then got the lasagna sauce on to burble for about an hour while I continued writing. It was so exciting to go back and read my log describing the day of snorkeling on the outer reef at Tobago Cays. I felt like I was right there discovering a whole new world underwater. I look forward to continuing to write about it tomorrow.

2021 Life Logs, Day 48: Christmas in the Caribbean

2021 Life Logs, Day 48: Christmas in the Caribbean
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Weather: Beautiful Winter Day; High 36, Low 23 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

It was a beautiful winter day here today, but ‘winter day’ means it was cold. And just reading about what is happening in Texas is frightening and making me even colder. My sister that lives outside Nashville, Tennessee, has power, but the streets are still snow covered, the temperature is below freezing, and they are expecting 3 more inches of snow tonight. She is feeling very cold even though she has heat. I am so thankful that our weather here is not as severe. Still, it is cold. So, I warmed myself just by writing today. I am currently writing Chapter 6 of The Voyage of Windbird and the title of that chapter is ‘Christmas in the Caribbean’. At this point in our trip around the world, we had been delayed for a month in the Chesapeake Bay area while installing a new engine. Then once we left Norfolk, we had a truly rough passage to Saint Martin in the Caribbean. In this chapter, things are looking up. We are in the Caribbean putting all of the bad experiences of the past two months behind us and enjoying a visit by our children, Heather, Jed, and Justin. This was before Justin met Jo. They flew to Saint Lucia to spend Christmas in the Caribbean with us. We snorkeled, we went diving, we hiked to waterfalls and in the rain forest, we sailed and anchored in spectacularly beautiful places, and it was hot. Most days were in the 80’s and we were all loving it. Once the kids flew home, Mark and I sailed to Bequia in the Grenadines where we spent time researching and planning our trip through the rest of the Caribbean. While in Bequia, I was introduced to Skype by a German cruiser in the internet café, I ran into Martha Stewart in a wine shop, and hiked and explored that island. Then we sailed to the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines and snorkeled ‘til we dropped. All these things kept me warm while writing today. When I give my presentations about sailing around the world, I never really mention the Caribbean. I had forgotten how wonderful it was at the time. I must thank my son Justin for encouraging me to write a daily log as we traveled. Without that daily record, many of the wonderful memories would be lost because there were so many wonderful memories during the six years of sailing . . . too many for one mind to store. So, thank you, Justin, and thank you for giving me the nudge a few weeks ago to start writing again. I am really enjoying it.

I also did all of the normal daily activities. This week that includes going to Heather and Jed’s twice a day to feed the guinea pigs. And today I walked with Shadow, played ball with Shadow, worked on my current jigsaw puzzle (going really slow, but making progress), watched the latest episode in a gardening docu-series, rode my daily 6 miles on my exercise bike, and spent a little time cleaning house. But I must admit that I rush through all of these things to get back to writing.

Something I rediscovered today was a poem sent to us via email the day the kids flew home. It was entitled ‘Twas the Day After Christmas. It was written by our dear friends Detta and Tom Porat and their two children, Matthew and Sarah. It perfectly captured the nine glorious days we had spent together. It warmed my heart. Hope it warms your heart as well.

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all ‘round the yacht
The water was warm and the sun was so hot.

The children lay tanning—Heather, Justin, and Jed
With memories of reef fish aswim in their heads.

A parrot was hung by the GPS with care
In hopes that a mooring in Vieux Fort would be there.

With Pa in his swim trunks and I in bare feet
We’d just settled in for a long windward beat.

When out on the deck, there arose such a clatter
I peaked out of the cockpit to see what was the matter.

Then what to our wondrous eyes did appear
But rainbows in our wake and flying fish oh so near.

As we sailed to the north and splashed through the waves
We remembered rain forests, reefs, and bat caves.

We’ve snorkeled and scuba’d, we’ve hiked and we’ve fished
This Christmas we all got more than we’d wished.

To family and friends we wish could be here
Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

HO! HO! HO!

2021 Life Logs, Day 47: Odd Weather Day

2021 Life Logs, Day 47: Odd Weather Day
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Weather: Warm and Windy; High 53, Low 23 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

With many places in this country so much colder than normal, we had an unusually warm day today. The morning was overcast and very windy at times and warmish. In the middle of the day the sun tried to peek through the clouds, so I chose that time for Shadow and I to walk. And as soon as we got back home, it was overcast again. Even though it was windy, it was nice to have the warm day to melt the icy snowpack off the driveway. It was getting hard to walk on without slipping. So nice that nature took care of that. But the warmth went away as the day ended and overnight it will be freezing again. I continued writing today but spent a lot of time running errands. I’m also into the second day of a gardening docu-series that takes over an hour of each day. The days come and go too fast!

2021 Life Logs, Day 46: Presidents’ Day 2021

2021 Life Logs, Day 46: Presidents’ Day 2021
Date: Monday, February 15, 2021
Weather: Miserable, Misty Rain; High 37, Low 36 Degrees F
Location: At Home in The Cottage, East Falmouth, MA

Presidents’ Day happens on the third Monday of February these days. And that was today. Originally it was established as a holiday in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington whose birthday was on February 22. Then Abraham Lincoln got wrapped into the mix with a birthday on February 12. Then in 1971 the holiday was shifted to the third Monday by the Unicform Monday Holiday Act meant to give Americans more three-day weekends. But I couldn’t celebrate on this Presidents’ Day. As more Republicans that voted to acquit our 45th President come out to say that Donald Trump was absolutely guilty as charged but that they couldn’t vote to find him guilty on a technicality, I get more depressed. Trying to overthrow our government was not just your everyday impeachment charge and I really wish more Republicans had voted their conscience. But they didn’t, so on we go.

The weather here today was what I term miserable. There was a misty rain all day, more misty later in the afternoon, but Shadow and I did find a mostly dry time to go for our walk. I did more editing and writing and will continue with that tomorrow. I talked to my sister in Tennessee tonight and she says everything there is frozen. But not as frozen as it is in Texas. This polar vortex event is wrecking havoc in places that are just not prepared for this extreme weather. Hopefully there will only be a few more days of this and things will warm up a bit.