Curious Tidbits

© 2012 Tami Stewart Contact Me

Lost in Work Mode

Focused on making it through

focused

Robby reprimanded me severely for my lack of recent blogging but during an owner onboard period I’ve barely time to think much less compose a coherent sentence. But I’m back. Owners left Sunday at 6 a.m. and the rest of the day was spent in bed. Normally we at least get up for at least a swim but not this time. We laid around exhausted for a full 24 hours waking up relieved (if not quite 100%) on Monday. Now I will get back to pondering and scribbling – trying to make sense of this crazy yachty life. Thank you for your patience.

Dawn Cameron & Tony Fergusson Web

Can you think of anything more romantic?


Dawn & Tony

Dawn Cameron & Tony Fergusson Wed

As Robb and I trip through this yachty existence, we discover interesting people who turn into friends. Robb is Mr. Social with a capital “S” and keeps me from my solitary existence of books. One of his favorite activities is inviting people out for a bit of dinner and the obligatory bottle of wine or two. Through another boaty pal, we met this delightful couple Dawn and Tony. I write it their names in that order specifically to hinder comparison to Tony and Dawn that 70s trio, which brings up frightening visual images of big hair and elevator sap.
On some of the larger yachts, relationships between crew are verboten. One can only imagine the drama that ensues when young, sexy, people join each other in tight living quarters in warm climes that require little clothing. Add to that a bit of alcohol and Yachty Melrose Place blossoms (read, Tami and Robb). To stave off that drama, larger yachts will fire people if they seek a life partner from within. So what do Dawn and Tony do, they sit down like rational, intelligent creatures (you can tell they are not from Texas!) discuss their relationship criteria, compare, contrast and quit! They actually quit their posh yachty jobs to love and travel together. Isn’t that romantic? This was a year ago and last month they flew off to New Zealand, Tony’s country of origin to say, “I do, I do to you”. Simple, elegant and lovely with a bit (well more than a bit) of wine thrown in. Can we all sigh with a bit of romantic longing?

72 Hours in FLL


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Robb and I are headed back to Nassau after 72 jam crammed hours in Ft Lauderdale. We flew to Ft Lauderdale to begin the new job search. The majority of vessels are in transition to the Med so the job options are scarce. I interviewed for one stewardess position that I would love to take but the timing just does not click. Taking the position would mean four long months away from Robb and both of us would regret that decision. It would be a great opportunity as it’s a very high-end charter vessel ($170,000 a week) with every bell and whistle you can imagine. You would not believe the complexity of running a boat of 160’ (interior is 8200 sq feet with butt ugly bed covers – ew!) The chief stewardess has been in the industry for twelve years and could teach me a thing or two about the white glove service. Some of these gals are clearing $12,000 a month. You live and breathe the boat but for that kind of money I could do it for a year or two (but without Robb? What fun would that be? Besides the captain gets the best cabin).
We go back to Nassau with another week with just the two of us onboard. It is always a time to clean, spit shine, buy food and fix things but at least it’s just us crew and we can take off for a scuba dive any time. Nice life. Traveling mercies to all - T

Shrimp Curry

Yumma Do!


Shrimpcurry

Hey guess what? I’m going to create a page with recipes. Since I’m supposed to be learning about cooking and I’m trying all kinds of things perhaps it would be helpful to share yummy discoveries? It will take me a few days to put it up but I like it. People could also email recipes they want me to try; I’ll make it and then give a review as to how it was received. The first recipe would have to be the Shrimp curry recipe I found surfing the Internet. The first time I made it I snapped a photo – it’s bleary from the humidity out on the back deck but you get the general idea.
Cooking on a boat without a broad repertoire necessitates surfing the Internet and searching cookbooks for inspiration. My criteria is simple, do I have the ingredients? Does it look interesting but not too interesting? And is it spicy? We like spicy. The Shrimp Curry was a huge hit with all the women asking for the recipe so give me a few days and I’ll post it.
Traditionally it is plated with sweet potato fries but I did not want to try the whole deep fry thing on the open ocean. Robb and I some at the Blue Bar in Harbor Island and next time I’ll take the risk. They are definitely worth it.

Those Proud Texans!

Those proud Texans


Texas flags

We are in the Bahamas right? Texans don’t care they are loud and proud. As we pulled into Marsh Harbor a fishing tournament was about to big. People come from all over, year after year to catch and kill the big one. Why oh why? Anyway, as we gazed down the dock the Texas flags dominated the landscape - that and fishing poles which closely resemble battleship armaments. Hm? What you can count on is the Texan down the dock always saying, ‘Hi, how ya doin?’ Music to my ears

My 44th Year on Earth!


Scuba Gear

My first thought this morning – I miss my family and friends. Yes, it’s my birthday and it will be a great day but my greatest wish would to host all my family and friends (dogs included) to a big party. Ames and Betsey would battle it out for best margarita. The yummiest Southwestern/Mexican food restaurant would cater and we would dance all night. Hey I can dream can’t I? All the dogs would have to get along so the dream continues. Alas, it’s not to be so my prayers are for all those I love that their lives would be filled with celebration and laughter.
As far as my bucket list goes, my shark dive is put on hold AGAIN due to weather. Darn that wind – do you think God is trying to tell me something? Normal underwater visibility for this area is 115 feet but with all the wind we were barely about to see 20 feet, still amazing but not the pinnacle. We dove a few days ago and out of the blue haze glided a six-foot nurse shark. At the time four-foot groupers weighing in at 200 pounds surrounded us. We were diving in a marine sanctuary and the fish seem to know they are safe. They swim right up to you to say HEY! I was surrounded by yellow fin the entire dive. Not too bad but not the shark experience I’m hoping for. We will continue to pursue the dream and hope the weather calms down. Robby presented his birthday scuba gift a month ago – he struggles with the whole waiting thing. He kitted me out with all a girl needs to dive the deep blue seas. (I model above). Oh my the places I have seen and will see but nothing is more precious then those I love. Blessings to all - T

Almost My Birthday!

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I love my birthday! As it usually means, weeks of dreaming about something extra special to do and the cool people I have to celebrate the special day. Then on the particular day my family calls and sings me happy birthday. We all laugh at what atrocious singers we are but the ritual inevitably produces more laughter then cringes. It’s also a day to reflect on where past birthdays were spent and to dream of the coming year. Bucket list seems to have overtaken the common vernacular so I incorporate the new vocab here. As most people who know me are aware, I’m not very good at planning my life but I’m very good at planning my vacations and birthdays are vacations (at least in my mind). So this year, I’m checking off a long-standing bucket list item; I’m going to try to swim with sharks. This was a goal for my South African trip a few years ago but alas the weather did not cooperate and this year who knows but I’m going to make the effort. One previous scuba dive included a shark sighting but it was a four-foot nurse shark that swam quickly away when she spotted us. This time I want to watch. As you know from reading my “Inspiration” page, I’m focused on the shark issue and want to swim with them before they are all killed for their fins. In the Abaco island area there are all sorts of shark dives and I’m signing up for the least intrusive to the shark habitat, no sense feeding something that might eat you. I just want to see them glide by and wonder at their coolness. What are you doing for your birthday?

Decorating Choices

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A confounding, bizarre, and just plan blah! Aspect of this industry is adjusting to other’s decorating choices. Anyone who has visited my humble abode at 6348 knows I’m drawn to yellow, periwinkle, blue, and violet, what I consider happy colors. My office mates will recall the periwinkle palace; the entire office might be painted poop brown but not my space, thank you very much. But now I have offered up that freedom in the name of sailing the seven seas. What confounds me is defining what means what to the other person, an example: When someone asks that flowers be purchased I think happy flowers such as stargazer lilies, baby’s breath, Gerber daisies but how wrong I am. Nope their choice is greens. I sure wish I took a picture of my purchase for comparison but alas I did not think it noteworthy until I was corrected. An example of greens is pictured above, now who should we vote off the island?

Hallelulah!

Everyone Has Gone Away!!

Dead1

All guests left today and as you can tell I’m flattened. I need about two days of sleep and quiet. Then it will be my birthday and I’m ‘stuck’ in Marsha Harbor. Oh wah! More after I recover from guest shock.


Where are we Today?

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Harbor Island, Bahamas

Oh so pretty!! Guests arrived Saturday and we were off. We docked yesterday at Harbor Island and today no meals to prepare. There were some hateful comments this morning about my inability to do laundry but who the hell cares when I’m watching the turtles and walking on pink tinted beaches? Made luscious apricot carrot muffins this morning and last night air lifted my first chocolate souffle. Feeling loud and proud! Love you all.


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When Do You Pray?


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When do you find time to pray? For me, it is often quick snatches as I run through my day. Prayers are desperate pleas of help me, help me. This new life altered my life in a myriad of ways – both good and not so great. In my past incarnations, prayer, exercise and rest were integral pieces of my sanity. Now these elements are snatched out of time as I dash about in frenzied activity. So I grab moments of prayer when I stare at the ocean, glimpse another gorgeous sunset and as I slowly come to consciousness in the early morning. Help me see, I pray just help me see. Let me see truth, let me see hope, let me breath light, let me remember the gifts. I will pray that for you too.

Salvation from Audio Book Hell!


Barbara Kingsolver to the rescue

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After two dismissal audio book listens, David Ellis’s Company of Liars & Catherine Coulter’s something, I was desperate for a refreshing distraction. In walks Barbara Kingsolver with Pigs in Heaven. Let the Mormom Tabernacle choir sing. Cleaning toilets, making beds, creating meals and living with others requires pleasurable distraction. This audio book is a breathe of delight.

Let there be Bread


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When I asked people about bread making, they all responded with peshaw, who needs it? Well, when docked in the outer islands with no Central Market or Whole Foods or even a Piggly Wiggly in sight, bread is essential. I have a cookbook on making whole grain breads so I just dug in and gave it a go. This one is whole wheat bread with rum raisins and walnuts. What a revelation. It lacked sufficient salt and would benefit from a touch of molasses but otherwise it was scrumptious. I don’t even eat bread but I’ll eat this bread. Feeling loud and proud in the Bahamas outer islands.

10 April 2008 - Location Bahamas



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It would be difficult to compare all the benefits of Judy’s situation in Denver - amazing friends, meaningful work, a beautiful home, opportunities to ski - just to name a few but boy the weather here is certainly an improvement. Love you Jud!!










10 April 2008 - Location Denver


Denver 10 April 08_1


On or about 10 April 2008 my sweet friend Judy Becerra sent me a picture of her backyard in Denver CO. No text with the message but the picture spoke volumes. Brrr!!!

Off to the Outer Islands

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It’s 5 a.m. do you know where your children are? Anybody else remember that commercial? Seriously, it’s 5 a.m. what the hell am I doing up? Who knows. Wanted to let everyone know that we are off on charter for a week. We will be in the outer islands which means no blogging and no emails but please continue to communicate. It’s reassuring and heartwarming to click open missives from my pals when I return from the voyages. We will be back in Internet communication next Sunday. Love to all - THighborne Cay East Shore_jpg

April 4, 1968

What have you done with 39 years?

MJKmlk

Martin Luther King died at 39. How well he used his time! He was murdered on April 4, 1968 and yet he is still so alive. Hear that voice and you know he lives. The dream of so many he articulated so well has yet to reach fruition. Laws are written but it is what lurks in the hearts that resists alteration. What do you see when you see black man? What first pops into your mind when a black man a Mercedes drives by? Drug dealer, pimp? Do you hold your bag close? The dream of justice and peace for all lives in my heart but what else lives there?

Cinderella's Schedule

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A friend asked the other day how I spent my days. I wrote the daily duties when owners are onboard and thought I would share it with a larger audience. Any takers? 
Morning -  
The owners get their own breakfast I just have to get everything set up.  The owners (O2) onboard now don't get up until 9 a so I have this extra time.  They like coffee, smoothies, cereals.  If I have time (or if I'm feeling nice - usually the first few days of the charter), I will bake fresh muffins or suggest omelets.  The other owners labeled (O1) are early risers and expect two types of coffee and oatmeal fixins.  They want fresh blueberries every morning, which is going to be a real bitch in the Bahamas when blueberries cost $6.00 for a small tin. And let’s not even talk about trying to keep them fresh while we sail the outer islands with no Piggly Wiggly in 100 miles. Anyway, O1 usually has four guests onboard so I set out cereals and fresh muffins and fruit for them as well.  All different types of guests come onboard but all have been super.  The guests are always happier about things then the owners so I tend to focus on their positive energy.  Everybody gets up at different times so I just make sure nothing runs out and everyone has what they need.  In the background I empty the dishwasher, clean the glasses from the night before etc.  O1 insists that the back deck cushions be out when he wakes up at 6 a. so I'm usually up throwing those 15 cushions around and uncovering the flag.  The flag was a huge deal on the last trip as it was ripped in the storm and we did not think to replace it.  Huge finger shake on that one.  It was a small rip!!! And we forgot.  As most people who love me know, focus is always difficult and the details sometime slip away.  If you can believe it, Robb is even worse - eh gads what a pair.  While breakfast is going on and people are reading the newspapers, I head down to make all the beds and clean all the bathrooms.  Usually at least two staterooms (normally three) are filled (there are four total guest staterooms are on the boat) so that means 2 beds and 2 heads.  It's called heads and beds in the yachty world.  I don't really mind cleaning the toilets it's arranging all those damn bed pillows just so.  If we are moving to a new location (in the Bahamas we move every two days are so), I help with the move, i.e. putting the tender on top, the bicycles, the power lines, the gate, this and that all have to be stowed.  Then lines are thrown, fenders (the cushy things on the side that keep the boat from rubbing against pilings) are pulled in and we are on our way.  Usually there is much running to and fro during this time and lots of yakking on walkie talkies, esp. if there is wind.  Robb's poor hearing is a factor as is the number of walkie-talkies that have ended up in the water during the dashing about.  After we sail away, I start cleaning up from breakfast and preparing for lunch.  In the smaller islands, my frig is it so they usually eat all meals onboard.  Lunch is a wide range of whatever, fish tacos are awesome, O1 enjoys wraps so that makes it simple.  Often I will do a soup or salad or sandwich.  Nothing can be repeated on a trip so I have to keep in mind what I served last week and the available stores.  One member of the O1 couple only eats seafood - no chicken, steak etc, which complicates matters. You wouldn’t even begin to imagine how hard it is to acquire fresh fish in the Bahamas – how odd? Usually, I make a huge Costco run before we leave the mainland so our frig is crammed before we begin but those stores fly out the galley. The larger boats or boats with owners who are real foodies will fly in specialty stores at a huge markup.  If you want Kobe beef and you are in Highbourne Cay (a very small tiny little place) you can get it if you are willing to pay for it and even then only on Friday when the mail plane arrives. 
After I do lunch clean up, I usually try to lie down for one hour - usually it's a forced lie down as my body refuses to function.  It feels great.  The afternoons are spent with laundry, cleaning mirrors (which I suck at) and preparing dinner.  If I'm lucky I will get to go snorkeling or walk on the beach during the afternoon but not if dinner is going to be complicated.  If they are going out to dinner, then the above mentioned two activities are a definite.  Last week I got to snorkel for about one hour but it's always with the owners so you must make sure they have everything they need and aren't drowning themselves.  I never forget that I'm on duty.  Dinner is served at 8 p and usually takes at least two hours to prepare depending on what is being served.  Dinner is always three courses, sometimes four. The whole preparing yummy dinners thing is going so well the guests never want to leave the boat. Eck! There is something to be said for not cooking too well.
Opps I forgot to add that about 5 p I have to have snacks out.  Snacks always try my patience and besides do people really need to eat this much? Snacks range from Brie en croute, something in phyllo dough, chips and dips or the good old standby cheese plate.  Living alone I never imagined how much food six to nine people can consume in a day. Yikes!
Anyway back to dinner - it's often a salad, followed by meat, starch and veg, ended with some type of decadent desert.  There is always much wine involved and the fresh bread I've prepared.   I've been reprimanded severely for my poor napkin folding skills, as setting the table is my responsibility as well.  My brain just does not work that way and besides there are people starving in the world who cares how the damn napkin is folded.  O1 enjoys eating on the back deck which we love b/c they are far away from the kitchen so I can play my music and scream damn it when I burn myself on the oven which I inevitably do every night.  O2 always always wants to eat in the dining room, which is a pain in the ass.  The dining room is flush with the galley so no music and no damn it.  There is a door that can be closed b/t the two rooms but gets stuck on it's track more often than not.  While they are eating the main course, I run down and turn down all the beds and set water out by the bed.  Usually I'm cramming pillows hither and yon, as I'm tired and very grouchy by this point.  I've also gotten in trouble for putting pillows in closets b/c it takes up too much space? Whatever, I mean why do you have so many damn pillows in the first place?  Back to the galley for clean up.  I'm working on the whole clean while you go thing but have not mastered this skill.  Usually the galley looks as if a cyclone has blown through.  After clean up is complete I fall on my face.
I loved the movie Gosford Park and it is an accurate picture of things. Blessings we have no bells on the boat. I’m tired just reading all this crap. I’m off for my nap.

Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks
5sharks
You ever met those girls who didn’t like other girls, whose goal in life was to destroy, defame, disdain? Have you ever met those women who do not know how to show respect for others of their sex? Their fear and pain results in vainglory, competition and slanderous snips? There is no excuse for this violence and it is such violence. Acres of space must exist between this type and myself. A no trespassing sign stands at the edge of my sphere. No evil beyond this line shut the door as evil reaps only destruction. Now we all know there are men of this ilk but I do not dwell on those today. No I focus on the female ones who believe they must live in constant competition to stay on top, in control, above those they deem less. You might think there are no women such as these on this boat but you would be mistaken. This darkness comes in all forms and it lives here on this tiny bit of space. You might consider a 100’ foot boat a vast arena but when evil morphs it seeps into every crack until the impulse is to swim with sharks – it would feel safer.
Sharksmall1

Disneyland on Crack


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It always strikes me odd where people will drag their children. We have all witnessed the 3 year old at the “R” rated movie, the 5 year old in the bar or how about the annual family sojourn in Vegas? Remember when the Vegas PR firms tried to sell that? Bugsy is rapidly rolling. Add one more destination to the pseudo kid friendly environs. Atlantis is touted as “the” resort in Nassau but to me it’s like taking LSD and heading to Disneyland with Vegas wrapped inside. Close your eyes and imagine thousands of drunk people with minimal clothing, garish lights, casino desperation and the hard sell at every turn? In its defense Atlantis comes with several extremely cool pools and one of the best aquariums on this side of the planet but do you really want to cart your children there? We were docked there one night and I’m still recovering. All right, I don’t have children – never have, never will – so maybe my disdain is unwarranted? Vacation is defined by dreams but this one gives me nightmares.







Sampson Cay Club


i_aerial_lg

Who knew there were so many islands in the Bahamas. It proves the adage that to really know you must go. Yesterday was a full on thunderstorm and it looks like we are up for another one today. No matter, there is water all around and the marina is very protected. We have two owners onboard and three crew. Does the crew always have more fun than the owners?

Pass the PEDS


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I crave performance-enhancing drugs (PED). Where would one acquire such products? Are they illegal? I’m not Barry Bonds or Marion Jones. I don’t compete so I can’t be a cheat. Or can I? Hm? It’s a dilemma. Who doesn’t want more energy, more memory, more muscle to do more, be more and well, not to have more – more stuff just means more of a headache but just to enjoy more. Who said we needed to sleep? And isn’t coffee a performance enhancing drug? I don’t want to hit a home run I just want something that can give me a bit more pep. When the owners leave after two weeks and we are ‘stuck’ in the Bahamas I just want to enjoy it. Can’t sleep simply be an option among many, like scuba diving? Any ideas?

The Boat on our Own

Moving from Bimini to Chub Cay

It is Tuesday March 18 and we are lumbering away from Bimini. We are scheduled to dock at Chub Cay this evening and then on to Nassau tomorrow. We pick up the other set of owners on Friday having waved goodbye to the primary pair this morning. We are never sure how many guests will arrive in tow but for now we focus on the NOW. Now means lovely music drifting through the speakers, no uniforms and no performance anxiety. Not much happens in Bimini but the water is the full spectrum of azure blue and the angelfish are never far below the service. The tarpon are six feet long and hang out below the dock. The clarity of the sea is such that you can see the sand 20 feet below the waves. Today is windy running 10 to 15 knots. The spray flings itself onto the windows so much that the wipers are required even though it is not raining. We are cruising at 15 knots with no other boats in range. These cruising days are relaxing as the boat is rocking to the point that sitting upright is all one can do (or napping).

Headed to Bimini


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We finally are heading somewhere outside the bounds of the USA. Just a short 50 nautical miles east lie the islands of Bimini. We are prepared to depart on Tuesday or Wednesday depending on weather. It is not clear when we will return as the owners are not sure when they will return. It is possible we might be ‘stuck’ in the Bahamas for a month. A little bit of cleaning, a whole lot of cooking and some serious scuba. What will be lacking is a reliable Internet connection and what is expected to be exorbitant roaming charges on the phone. So be patient, send love and I’ll yak when I get back. Love to all - T

Richistan by Robert Frank

Do you feel secure?

richistan

A study by PNC Advisors, a wealth-management firm, shows a surprising pattern among Richistanis when they’re asked how much money would make them secure. They almost always answer that the amount they need to feel secure is twice their current level of net worth or income. Those worth $500,000 to $1 million said they needed $2.4 million. Those worth $1 million to $1.49 million said $3 million. And those with $10 million or more said $18 million. In other words, people’s definition of ‘rich’ is subjective and is usually twice their current net worth.

Books are my Life

Just rec’d my new Oprah mag.  The boat boys mock my O but who cares if it is cheesy and silly? To say nothing about the Oprah’s picks for must haves, $50 lipstick? Oh yeah right!
But I love flipping quickly to the section on books and the monthly missive titled ‘books that changed my life.’  Every month a luminary offers up five or six books that changed their life.  Given that it is Oprah most are women.  Every month I read this column and ponder, ‘what books would I chose?’  What books would I consider life altering? Normally, the spotlighted books are profound, deep, ‘hard’ books, i.e. nobody picks a John Grisham novel.  John Grisham novels and their ilk do not alter your life; they offer a respite from it (which is a highly valued attribute in my opinion).  My first thought this a.m. continued my pondering last night, what books would I choose?  For someone who reads voraciously this is too difficult, especially because I have no bookshelf to reference.  Books are also precious during particular times and moods so one book at this moment would not offer insight tomorrow – is this a version of ‘when the student is ready the teacher will appear?”. 
One book that crosses all boundaries is the Bible, (alright all you eye rollers just stop).  The truth is that the Bible did change my life but not in the way many would assume.  It’s the only book I continue to read repeatedly not because I ‘have to’ but because I my soul hungers for it.  Another book that ‘changed my life’ was Let’s Go Europe. It was the Bible for my first foray into foreign adventure.  Books have always been about educating me how to live, where to go and how to think.  Let’s Go is a literal passeral into Europe.  Every time I see it in a book store a delighted smile springs up, what a great adventure it offers.  Usually Oprah’s guests pick a book of poetry but I can’t.  How embarrassing to admit that reading poetry does not do it for me – listening to poetry by the writer now that is when poetry flowers.  The whole slam poetry contest thing jazzes me as it offers an opportunity to hear poetry from raging, passionate poets.  One more book comes to mind today, it’s a ‘story’ book, the Secret Life of Bees.  It sticks with me particularly b/c it’s told from the perspective of a 14 year old girl/women and one line that sums up something so profound, “people who saying dying is hard have never tried really living.”  Isn’t that true?  
What books changed your life?

Tatum, Tessa and Tayla

A Bevy of Blonde Beauties!

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How cute are these little girls? From left to right it’s – Tatum (4), Tayla (9 months) and Tessa (2). The parental units - Tamara and Tyler are missing but it seems that once kids reach a certain age parents chose to absent themselves from photos. Who decided that parents should no longer be in the pics? Maybe the parents are too busy trying to get their kids to focus and smile to be in the photos?
Aren’t you glad someone out there is trying to raise decent, upstanding citizens? Doesn’t it give your heart a bit of joy to know there are dedicated parents who are working to teach their children about love, service, generosity and family? It’s a relief in a way, a bulwark against all the horror we hear on the news.
What puzzles me is that my age is marked by other people’s children’s growth. Wow, my sister’s kids have achieved high school and college ergo I’m wracking up years as well. I realize the passage of time in a general sense, my body sort of sags in various places and my laugh lines have become permanent (better than frown lines) but these kids remind me that life is whizzing by. Wow! It is a good thing lest I forget to be grateful, to laugh just a bit more and never say one day I will have fun. No, heavens no, today I will share the joy that’s plopped in my lap and be thankful.

The Venitts

Some families send Christmas cards, but the Venitt family sends love cards.

Venitts
Venitt family from left to right –
Buddy – Looking like a supermodel which is in strong contrast to his normal hell bent on discovery, hyperactive, scared to death mode – it’s an odd combo but he suffered early childhood trauma so we offer grace to his chaos.
Sandy – Looking very svelte and lovely as always.
Alice – Queen Alice who would reject this photo out of hand, “Eh Gads my tongue is hanging out! And my gray is showing! What is mother thinking?”
Betsey – QBU – Queen Bee of the Universe and a wonderful friend.
Joe – Who is tugging at his leash, thinking “What the hell? I’m outside why am I not peeing, pooping or chasing the ball? Let me go, let me go, let me go so you can scratch my bum!”
Happy Valentine’s Day from the Venitt fam.

The Mazzie Diaries


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No one or Nothing and I do mean nothing can replace Wy. I still dream of the perfect dog God arrange especially for me. But we did have a brief visit from Mazzie, a 5-year-old golden retriever who comforted my longing heart.
Four people own a share of this vessel. The two primary owners are allergic (highly allergic) to dogs. The two secondary owners love their dog. Hm? What is the crew to do when on Thursday the secondary owners phone to say they will be arriving on Saturday for a week charter to the Keys with dog in tow? Yikes! They actually drove from New Orleans to Fort Lauderdale just to bring the dog – what is a girl to do? As everyone knows I’m in love with dogs so I would never have said no BUT as we all know when there is dog there is dog hair everywhere. And this dog is afraid of her shadow and does not like bathes – doesn’t even enjoy water – odd? But the dog was on board for one joyous week and I loved it. Now I’m not so in love with it as I find hair in the sink, in bathtub, in the engine room – she didn’t even go there. Can you imagine what will happen with the primary owners show up in March for the trip to Bimini and they start sneezing? We did alert them but who is going to hear about it when the dog hair comes floating off the ceiling? Did anyone else read the Nanny Diaries? It’s the Mazzie diaries on this vessel.

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Crew Alterations

Who is that fellow with the curly hair?
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Welcome Julian! Well sort of at least for a bit, he only does day work. Our grouchy engineer is now being grouchy somewhere else. What a dust up. Crew is a sticky wicket. Remember all your roommate nightmares? Well they are revisited in loud refrain when you sign on for a yacht of certain dimension. Robb and I are forced to get along as we picked one another but crew joining us is wholly another matter. They choose to like us or not and at the end of the day, can’t we all be a bit insufferable at times? People are wiggy, all people are wiggy and working and living, 24/7, in a high performance oriented situation is a whole wiggyness in itself. Some boats run with 16 crew and more. Yikes, can you imagine? It would be like a wacky little village crammed together in a very small space. Let the drama commence. So Julian is joining us for a short time, not live aboard so Robb and I run around naked every chance we get. Ah the freedom of personal domain.
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Little Palm Island


Little Palm Island

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When we docked at Little Palm Island, a private 5 acres just 28 miles east of Key West, FL we encountered peaceful bliss. Our sojourn was limited to a couple of hours as the previous evening we were forced to take shelter by the nefarious waterspout. In this business one gets to enjoy the water, the sun and delightful islands absent of the roaring hordes.
Happy Valentine’s Day to us.


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The Man Look Phenom


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What is this phenomenon of the man look? “Where is…?” is the constant refrain on this vessel. Is it true elsewhere? When I discover four bottles of stain remover, I ponder why? Why when there are three bottles of stain remover present do the gentlemen on this vessel purchase more? The answer is found in the man look. It is the brief glance, perhaps a movement of the head (never a movement of the hands) and alas it must not be there. Either the shouting of where is…happens or worse, particularly on a boat with storage issues another is purchased. Heretofore, my experience with the man look was very limited but now I’m somewhat of an expert. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. Does anyone remember those very clever “man law” beer ads? As my viewing of sports programming is limited I only caught a couple but they were so spot on. I’m afraid I missed the one on the “man law” of looking but not finding. Is it genetic something imbedded in the X chromosome? And what do they do when there is no Y chromosome around to answer the all important question of “Where is…?” And then why does this willingness to ask this ever-present household question not manifest itself when managing transportation issues?

Mazel tov to the Markos

Welcome Maxwell Anthony Markos


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Does Amy have her hands full or what? I sent an email out complaining about the lack of pictures of the new addition but realized “Holy Poop!! Ames has got to be pooped”. I apologized profusely. Max was welcomed on 4 February 2008, Ames’ birthday no less. (for your friends it will still be all about the Ames on your special day!) He was 20 days early and interrupted the best Super Bowl in years. What does this portend for the future?


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Which Criterion Determines Your Vote

Which criterion determines your vote?

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This election is of great interest. Robb and I are paying close attention to the twists and turns and revelations. Who will win that coveted and controversial role of ‘leader of the free world’? The power this one person and his minions possess is frightening. One of my greatest concerns is how each espouses to end the horror in Iraq. Almost 4,000 United States soldiers and over 85,000 Iraq civilians have died in this “victorious” war. How many more must die before someone calls an end to this madness?

Blessed are the Peacemaker


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So I flew to Dallas a couple of weeks ago to visit family and sell my car. Gratefully the car went quick, which left me with ample opportunity to sit
back and enjoy my hometown milieu. My first morning I was greeted by the headlines on the new ‘castle’ law in Texas. Now I don’t have all the ins and outs but suffice it to say any wacko can shoot someone entering their home. Hm? Makes me a bit nervous but I usually do not enter people’s home unexpectantly so maybe I’m safe. BUT added to that law is the codicil that ANYONE can carry a gun in their car. Oh yeah, as long as they are not involved in gang activity – what defines gang activity? And they are not breaking the law – does driving 70 down the freeway constitute law breaking? Anyone can carry a gun in their car in Texas. This scares me. How many times have you mockingly shot a pointed finger at someone who cut you off? Since I’m usually the one cutting you off this kinda freaks me out. I’ve met these people who drive around on the city streets. These people are not sane. Now they legally carry guns with them? And can shoot me if they feel threatened? What!!! I feel threatened. Hey maybe I’ll buy a gun too and we can all shoot each other. Scary. (I know all the gun advocates are hurmping!) Have we become so fearful of fellow humans that carrying a gun is the only solution? And I bet many of these gun toters are card-carrying church members. To illustrate this assumption, I witnessed a vehicle, which carried the ‘real women pray’ bumper picture with a woman bowing before a cross on her back window and a sign advertising her all weapons firearms training on the side window. Oh goody, we can pray and then practice how to blow someone’s head off. I know the whole WWJD thing was a commercial nightmare embarrassment but the question remains. Would Jesus be a loud and proud member of the NRA? Does anyone remember a little old sermon titled Sermon on the Mount? Lord have mercy on us all.
P.S. Blind persons can get hunting licenses in Texas – nosh on that for a bit! Wouldn’t want to discriminate now would we?

HBO: Alive Day Memories

Consider the Cost
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The solider pictured above suffered multiple injuries to include the loss of both eyes. He placed the diamonds of the ring his fiancée returned to him in one glass eye. She called off their engagement, as she could not live with his injuries.

The HBO special “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq” documents soldiers who suffered severe injury during their service in Iraq. Due to advances in trauma surgery, 90% of the wounded will survive their injuries. The show documents stories of soldiers from their enlistment to life altering injury. Timothy Greenfield Sanders photographs these soldiers allowing the many to confront the sacrifice of the few. The photographs allow the viewer to contemplate how she would manage without eyes, an arm, both legs. It is not only the physical injuries but also the mental injuries that shape a soldier’s postwar life. The New York Time recently ran a series of articles on violent crimes committed by Iraq vets. The financial cost of the war is in the billions; the personal cost to the United States soldiers and society has yet to be fully determined.



Friday Night Knitting

A Cuddle Kind of Read

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I seek books that send me to another space and time. It does not always work out but sometimes there are books that create an internal sigh. A place of rest and an attitude of gratefulness as they remind you of the love so present in your life. The Friday Night Knitting Club is such a book. It’s like a warm cuddle from someone you love. You will not learn a practical skill or broaden your educational horizons, you will simply relax and enjoy. What a treat.

Living the Dream


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At least I want to try. Maybe I won’t get all the way around, maybe I’ll hate it, maybe I just don’t know but I at least want to try. My friend Ann & her husband, in their sailing vessel pictured above circumnavigated the globe in seven years. Seven Years on that little boat in the great big ocean. Sure they could have completed it sooner but why? Her stories are absolutely grand, filled with surprise encounters, gentle acts of kindness from strangers and moments of lunacy. They actually fit 150 bottles of brilliant South African wine in that vessel! Can you image? They must have slept with them. So many people dream the dream but very, very few make the sacrifices to live the dream. Maybe God will grant me the opportunity to try.

Dial Down the Testosterone, Please!

The Boss Of Us



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Can someone dial back the testosterone on this boat please? Ugh! I’m living with a petulant, arrogant 13 year old. I assumed that when I made the choice to not have children, I would not be living with such a gruesome facsimile of an individual. Parents put up with petulant 13 years old (or not depending) because they are linked by blood and history. Adolescent behavior (for most) is a stage that passes into agreeable adulthood. As for the deeper meaning of why people have children that they know will turn into petulant 13 year olds I have not any real clue as I chose to opt out of that lovely human passage. Anyway, our engineer, first mate whatever you want to call him is in a snit. This snit began around the time we returned from up North, Oct 1 and continues today. This is way to long for a snit, let’s call it a personality take over or perhaps a personality revelation. Perhaps he played nice for a certain period of time and this is his essence revealed? Eh gads, no wonder if does not have a girlfriend. If he sneers at me one more time I might just have to use the F word. Can you envision the perfection of the 13 year old eye roll, lip curl of a 33 year old male?
Yet, my psychologist’s mind attempts to find the deeper psyche reasons for his angst. Why I waste my time I haven’t a clue as you can lead the horse to water but whether he drinks or not is his own business. Despite that reality, I entertain myself with the whys of human behavior. In this case, I conclude that the behavior is sourced in (as perhaps all 13 years old behavior) in “You can’t tell me what to do!” Robb is the boss of us. I’m okay with this as when Robb and I disagree on the way of doing things I can acquiesce (he is the boss), throw a fit (as I did yesterday) or tell him to do it himself (used that one yesterday too). I have power born of communication and strong emotional ties. Our fractious engineer is a silent minion of resentment. Robb is one of the most laid back persons I have ever met but he does have his quirks. Some things are his way or no way. This is true about all of us at least anyone with strong identity issues (can anyone imagine living with me?) So the engineer struggles and I suffer (Robb ignores him). At the end of the day, Robb’s the boss of us and we must comply. Have to run make the boss his mocha, pant, pant. Love your beloved galley slave.

Johnny & Susan Come to Play


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Robb’s Dad (Johnny) and his stepmom (Susan) came to play in January. Robb and I were thrilled to have visitors and esp. these. What a treat to hang with family in our current area of residence. It gets lonely here with just us two as we both love that family and friends connection. Johnny and Susan took off on a cruise to the islands but spent a few days wandering around FT L before departure. Johnny ran into 85 on the cruise and I so hope to have his mental and physical dexterity when I hit 85. They love my most favorite adventure, which is going to the bookstore and poking around the stacks. They buy and I write down titles to retrieve later from the library. If I ever see Ben Franklin, I will give him a huge smooch for creating the lending library. The space and money he saves me, oy vey! Johnny is up on all the new books and we threw back and forth the latest book reviews in the New York Times. Johnny also queried my religious beliefs on the concept of soul. It is good to rip open my mind again. It reminded me of how much I enjoy studying theology and pondering the deeper questions of how we should live. They invited back to Salt Lake City where they live. Susan is a doctor and works long hours as the head of a huge complex dept at the University Hospital – not too sure which one. I want to visit to see pictures of Robb with a mountain man beard, oh my goodness – just say no to facial hair. Why would he ever want to hide that cute face?

Photoshop Hell!!


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Last weekend, I went home for a few days. Loads of fun visiting family, eating Mexican food, watching movies and alas selling my beloved Honda. The car was rotting away in my sister’s driveway so it had to be sold but I was sad. It was my independence car, my zoom, zoom Wyatt machine. Life changes are splendid but letting go is poignant.
While home family members asked, “why no blogs recently?” I attribute it all to Photoshop Hell. My parents gifted me with Photoshop for Christmas, which was thrilling BUT it came with a not so pleasant surprise. This is not a user-friendly program. You know all those people that have told you through the years to read the directions? Advice my sister and I scoff at yet…Elements requires directions. Not only do you have to read the directions but you have to read the book, watch the video and spend a multitude of hours trying to figure out what the hell you are doing. People are creating vast revenues of wealth simply teaching the neophyte Photoshop user how to play. Bah! Above is a sample of the pinnacle of my Photoshop usage, alright no snickering – it’s harder than it looks. Layers, smayers!

The More...

The more I give to thee...the more I have...
Shakespeare


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We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.
Ellen Goodman

Are you Listening?


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If no one is listening, just SCREAM!
Punk music can be so confusing. It is loud, angry, almost frightening in it’s pissed offedness. I wonder if it is because no one was really listening. Haven’t we all experienced that tingle of awareness when the person in front of us is not really hearing us? Our intended audience is simply shutting us out. A typical response is to speak louder as if that would help. This does not aid the listening process but results in a turning away whether physically with a back turn, an internal wall that is revealed in their gaze or their returned scream. I have sympathy for those enraged punk rockers, I too want to scream, stomp my feet and ram into others. Are you listening? Are you hearing me? If you will not listen I will get louder and louder until you are broken by my thunderous sounds.

All Things Dead


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Beyond the Body Farm
So much of what I read is sick twisted death stuff. Why do we love this? CSI, Law and Order, Criminal Minds is what I watch and what I read mirrors these good guy pursing bad guy story lines. Even the lousy reviews did not keep me from putting the new Patricia Cornwell on hold at the library. Forewarned is great but even a lousy Patricia Cornwell is better than much of the schlock out there. Recently I finished, Beyond the Body Farm. The author is the original Grissom (CSI: Las Vegas). The Body Farm is the research facility that answers those haunting questions of what is the manner of death, time of death and sometimes even who the heck is this person? They catch the bad guys – who doesn’t love that? Dr Bill Bass is the guy who began the research facility is the go to guy for all the high profile, weird, odd cases that come up. The book is a recounting of some of the strangest. Why does this stuff fascinate me? Some people say it is because death is the ultimate mystery? Nah, it’s just cool to know all this esoteric stuff about maggots!

Alligator Alley


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Last Sunday, Robb and I went to seek adventure. The Everglades are calling so we throw the bikes in the back and head west. The powers that be finally decided to protect a small portion of the Everglades and it is now a World Heritage site. All conservation issues aside for a moment, we took the 15-mile circuitous route through Shark Valley. No sharks just alligators by the dozens. All signs warm that humans are not to come more than 15 feet from the critters but sometimes it was tough. The alligators just lie by the road or in some cases on the road gazing right back at all the tourists. I tried to get a photo of the alligator threatening Robb with the mouth open hiss action but I was not quick enough. Alligators can ‘run’ up to 30 miles an hour for short distances but this alligator seemed no more impressed with Robb than a fly. Later on in the ride when I was too tired to take photos one alligator was laying right on the road. Robb wanders over flaunting danger and the alligator takes one look and turns around to present his bum. The birds are numerous and huge but the alligators are the star. Another day, another adventure.BabyAlligator1

Under the Tucscan Sun

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Did anyone read this? I saw the movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed but the book, oh the book. It is a radiant picnic lunch of luscious ripe peaches, marvelous cheeses and fruity red Shiraz. Frances Mayes is a lyrical writer. Her descriptions of Tuscany flood the senses with golden sunshine and the pleasure and richness of homegrown ‘real’ food. If given the opportunity who wouldn’t want to transform a 100s year old farm in Tuscany? Who wouldn’t want to grow bountiful herbs and shop for only the best of what Tuscany has to offer? At times, my heart ached so deep with longing I had to shut off the IPOD and force myself to breathe.

The Women of Gee's Bend



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Have you experienced these women and their art? At some point their story moved through the cultural hodge podge of our media world but I couldn’t say exactly when. I heard the story but did not expect to experience the quilts first hand. Serendipitously, 40 of the quilts were on display at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. On Thursday evenings admission is free so Robb and I walked right in. We were rewarded by art that shimmered with soul. Art as a strict definition is elusive. One person’s art is another’s person uh? This truth was brought home on our recent interaction with Art Basel in Miami. But these quilts I experienced as art as difficult as it is to adequately define what that is. A community of persons who chose to painstakingly create, that which is beautiful in the face of darkness. They utilized materials worn by persons who toiled the dry parched earth for sustenance. Their art kept them warm in the winter and comforted their souls. Critics laud the artists and their quilts but critics laud all sorts of things I find baffling. But these quilts hummed with the soul of creation and my understanding of art is enriched through their prism. What a treat.
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