Monday, June 29, 2015

Another flashback ...

Another 'replay' of an older dispatch. I like this one ;)

" ... I was at the tail end of the trail ride, eating the dirt of the preceding horses: 20 clip-clopping hooves stirring up the chalky loam on the track to Rainbow Falls in the Eastern Sierra. I rubbed my tongue over the grit covering my teeth, as the rolling, tumbling clouds of dust blocked the guide from my view ... "

Read the whole thing HERE

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Making whoopee

Reprinted from my WackyWahine blog  6.16.2008

Making whoopee

It was bound to happen.
Considering my ambition to get in the water if I’m near a get-in-able body of water that, in particular, I’ve never been in before -- the Indian Ocean, St. Maarten’s Great Bay, the Sarapiquí River in Costa Rica and several beaches in Mexico come to mind, along with more recently the Tuolumne River and Pinecrest Lake -- my 'toe in the water' dogma has finally caught up with me, fostering a little souvenir I never intended to take home: a colony of single-celled parasitic squatters whose common goal is to ‘party hardy’ in my small intestines, while creating copious amounts of gas.
Yes, I am a walking-talking whoopee cushion ... continued

Monday, February 16, 2015

Memories Unearthed

FEB 16 2015

Tonight I made soup (it has gotten that cold – after the weekend’s scorching weather) and seeing it is, technically, a holiday (although there’s no such thing as a holiday for a self-un-employed writer) I am taking the evening off; not stressing about the many deadlines stacking  up like jets into LAX, or Christmas shoppers outside of Walmart ...

Instead I’m unpacking and sifting through boxes of ‘stuff’ – a menagerie of treasures that have been stowed for years, moved from place to place, or hidden, dusty and sneeze-inducing, in storage.

Unearthed, after a couple of decades: a keepsake box with remembrances from Transpac 1993, ‘95 and ‘97. These were the days prior to sailmail and other satellite communications, so the only messages we had were the letters and cards I’d collect from the crews’ family and friends – and scatter in random ‘mail calls’ during the week(s). I sifted through letters, cards and pictures from friends, family, co-workers ... so many from my mother I was taken aback (including one of a naked man – REALLY taken aback by that one Mom!).  Her love, and concern, were palpable: particularly since I left my little princess in her care. She must have thought I was nuts (well I know she thought so – she told me as much). So many cards from Coco – the first mere scribbles (1993) ... the outline of her little hands (1995) ... her 6-year-old scrawl saying ‘TRIM FOR SPEED’ (1997). From my Dad, two priceless letters, written on lined notebook paper, I can hardly read through tears. "Maybe it’s the mystery and attraction I had for airplanes and the sky that you inherited – but only for boats and the sea ..." that goes on, pleading us to be safe.

There was a dialogue between my two guardian angels, from my now deceased friend Rosalie. A note from Amanda reminding me to "hide the good stuff from the other watch and make sure you give them a really hard time." Another, from Bill (who introduced me to sailing) saying, “The only good thing about standing watch at 4AM is that dawn is coming soon, and there hasn’t been a bad sunrise yet. Every one is a reaffirmation of the beauty of life on this planet."

There were poems and jokes a cassette tape, and this excerpt from THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD, from my sister-in-law: "Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board for some they come in with the tide. For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing, until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time. That is the life of men. Now, women forget all those things they don’t want to remember, and remember everything they don’t want to forget. The dream is the truth. Then they act and do things accordingly."

Well surely I have not had my dreams mocked to death by Time.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Through the Canal and on to Bocas

To Bocas del Toro

The Atlantic welcomed us warmly. After the canal transit, and a night at SBM marina [with showers! a bar! a pool! electricity! wifi!] outside of Colon [which even the Colonese people tell us is doodoo] we finished our get-ready-to-go chores and left.

Almost immediately we had all sails set – full main, jib, staysail – and were sailing pretty sweetly along at 6k in 9k of breeze. gentle seas, no big swells, pleasant temp. It was gorgeous – the most idyllic sail. I napped on deck a while, feeling the perfect motion of the boat through the water; listening to the water bubble and hiss; and thought of how much I love this life; and how perhaps I need to date only sailors ;-o

The night – not so pleasant. When I came on watch storms loomed ahead, illuminating the sky with lightning, and threatening with the distant rumble of thunder. In theory the breeze should have been pushing the squalls away from us, but instead we collided in the night. Clouds overtook the starry sky [although I did see one shooting star] ... I smelled rain, faintly, and shut the hatches, waiting for the storm to hit –  hoping I might skirt through.

But at the end of my 3-hour watch it was looking gnarly: it would have been cheesy to abandon Paul, so I stayed up. The snippets of clouds we had been dodging amassed into one, big, Australia-shaped (and sized?) storm – a huge pink splotch on the radar. And no matter how far or fast, or in what direction we went, it hovered over us like our own personal weather system. I felt like Pigpen, with his scribble of storm overhead. Bolts of lightning flashed more frequently- and close; so brilliant (and random) it was absolutely blinding: so much so, that after about ½ an hour, I felt a headache coming on and put on my sunglasses! The rain came; lightly at first, then the deluge; pummeling the cockpit where we huddled under the dodger. Finally we decided to steer perpendicular to the storm (and our course) and turned to port, hoping it wouldn’t continue following us! As we got to the edge of the storm it subsided, some. Still it continued to sprinkle, and lightning flashed all around – but the rumbles of thunder faded.

I went to bed around 230am ... I slept soundly – chilled even, when the rain finally subsided enough for the hatches to be opened, and I groggily groped for a pareo.

I awoke around 7am to the best possible scenario: the engine lulled and sun beamed in the hatch overhead; so I jumped presuming we were near our anchorage – but it was even better! Pamela had a fish on the line – and what a fish! A huge silvery angry fish, with gaping jaws and sharp, sharp teeth. She brought him in hand over hand as we wondered how to land him ... but with a sudden “CHOMP!” he was gone – taking the cedar plug with him. Damn!

Now we are at the anchorage – Isla Escudo de Veraguas – famed island of snorkeling reefs, white booby birds, 3-toed sloths. We anchored off the sw shore, quickly went in. This ends up being one of the most amazing islands I’ve ever been to – and I’ve seen plenty. Even cheap ($3) local lobsters – we each got two!

More later. Too much to enjoy here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bears, Burning pigs, and other wild-life

We had a most interesting dinner tonight, inviting Oskar the Spanish scientist who is studying the coexistence (or not) of indigenous and non-native plants in the wild hills of the Santa Ynez, to join us for chicken, ratatouille, and salad (served European-style, post-dinner). The rambling halls of the ranch were chilly, but warmed nicely as this charming (and handsome) young Madrilenian spoke of his work (in near perfect English) and we lay persons tried to comprehend his postdoctoral efforts.

Susan and I are celebrities of sorts here, having seen a bear on our early morning walk – an exceedingly large black bear (actually deep brown & shaggy, but black bear species) ambling through the valley. The workers and volunteers at the reserve are flabbergasted and in fact quite jealous: more than one said, ‘I can’t believe I’ve been here x-many years and have never seen a bear and you see one the first day.”

But we did, and as we finished dinner Eric, our house-mate and maintenance man, came home and joined us, and we found out he’d seen the same bear the prior weekend. Impressively huge and lumbering, the bear has been coming increasingly close to the house. Because he can. He is absolutely HUGE, with an acorn-stuffed belly that brushes the ground as he strolls across the valley.

A bigger concern is mountain lions and Eric said he’d seen two green eyes gleaming at him in the pre-dawn hours yesterday. And the pigs. Yes, feral pigs that terrorize the reserve in packs. It’s illegal to fire a gun on site so hunting is forbidden, but they can glean the passel (learn what you call various groups of critters here) with bow & arrow. A couple of 250-lb angry pigs tearing up the turf in your direction can be mighty scary though, Eric confided, and during his last encounter his arrow only grazed its mark. With nowhere to flee (up a tree being the escape of choice when surly swine are charging) he was relieved when they retreated (telling us his alternative was to do a jumping jack over the pig if it continued, which had me – fairly clumsy – fantasizing about landing on a bristling bristly hog, backwards, like a mutton buster ...). Our conversation led to other methods of culling pigs, which is how we conjured up the image of tasering one of the feral creatures, and potentially having a burning pig scurry through the dry chaparral, trail blazing (most literally) -- the first annual ‘burning pig festival’ and probably setting all of Santa Ynez on fire.

So goes our thought process. And we’d only had a wee sip of gin.

Now it’s pitch black; just our few bedroom lights burning. With its antique build and drafty windows the house is cold: I’d planned to shower but ... may just crawl into my sleeping bag, pull the extra blanket over my head, and fall asleep ‘til the coyotes start scampering and howling outside.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Not your typical mother-daughter outing

Yesterday was a layday ... it seems to work out better when we girls plan. We went to the zoo (very tired and dodgy, with pocked walkways and itty bitty cages. they house native rescue animals for the most part: we were taken by a three-legged bear, and a couple of raccoons who tumbled in a kiddie pool, while a porcupine watched enviously from another cage), did a little shopping and then embarked on a mother-daughter triathlon: Coco won in all three events – horseshoes, ping pong, and swimming.


Today resumed with an exciting zipline excursion. Coco – surprisingly – was quite nervous. Right off the bat the guys singled her out:  calling her Pinky (for her pink zebra print shirt) and also point out that she, being so short, would be on tippy toes all day; as they clip you on and off the cables. I’ll admit even I (a three-time zipliner) had a racing heart and case of the willies, but all told it was exciting and a nice feather to have in your cap.


We threatened to go kayaking but were too lazy ... instead we hung at the hotel, swam, and I captured the ping pong title after a lengthy (really lengthy) game. Then we walked to Murray’s Saloon in the village. We couldn’t discern where to go, and Murray’s had good YELP reviews, so we strolled the dark and empty streets to the pub. It was really noisy and raw; we grabbed menus from the bartender and took a seat in the corner, and for a while, debated leaving ... but the bartender (Jenny) was friendly; the reviews had been good; and they had Delirium Tremens on tap. ‘Glad we stayed. Within about 20 minutes the vibe improved: Jenny stayed on top of the tables despite the busy bar; the karaoke singers began (some great, some truly tragic – like the guy flatly singing Donna Summer’s “LET’S DANCE” ... ) and the food – especially the $10 seared ahi with grilled veggies - was outrageously good. We chatted with some locals until finally, reluctantly, we left. Tomorrow is a busy day: checking out early and heading toRedlands where we’re going to shoot some clays, then go to Newport Beach and enjoy a duffy ride with friends. Maybe not your typical mother-daughter outing, but a good one for us. 


Bedtime now, over & out!   

Monday, August 19, 2013

Road Trip!

Our Coco-cation was delayed by six hours and several hundred $ however finally, at 5:38PM, we pulled onto the freeway; Coco ceremoniously put in the Official Road Trip CD (first selection: Icona Pop’s song I LOVE IT -  “...I crashed my car into the bridge. I watched, I let it burn ...”  ominous choice?)  and we were underway. We and our four spanking new tires and alignment (I went in for an oil change – prudent I thought, before a road trip – and was advised I urgently needed new tires and alignment. Is this because I’m a woman? Blond? Both?), drove many smooth hours on broad, overly populated freeways until we finally climbed the 330N, and just as the setting sun was painting the sky candy-colored blue and pink, with a plump, very howling-worthy moon rising, and the LA basin fading into a blue-gray mist, we arrived at Big Bear Lake.

At a late hour we dined on El Pollo Loco and brownies, and sipped pink wine as we dangled our polished toes in the hot tub, letting the altitude help us along. Here at 6,800 ft the rosé is a wee bit more potent (even our bags of potato chips are voluminous) and we are now chilling and looking forward to our coming adventures.