Rainy nite but that’s allright

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The warm fresh spring rain soothes the senses and eases the daylight onto the soft velvet of bright yellow tulips bursting from the ground,  now resting until dawn.  I breathe a deep sigh of relief as another work week comes to a close in a job I love in a city so busy.  I rest in the quiet belly of OMOO.

She rocks gently in the trickling waves gliding past the hull, gathering momentum with the tide change.  Then silence, beautiful silence as the water slowly haults it’s endless journey, but only for moments.

I’m fast asleep before the ebb flows again, and the darkness takes me away to a deep deep slumber.  I’m feeling refreshed as the morning sunbeams reach into the galley and the aroma of coffee wafts up to the cockpit when I open the hatch to greet the day.

“Hello World”  I call out as I rub the sleep from my eyes and the skipper calls back, “Hello Ruthie. ”  It’s one of my favorite dorky routines we have.  We’re both more than excited, for this day we will make the first sail of the year with our new crew Lexi and Kristin.  Well, they don’t know they’re crew yet, but we’ll put them to work as soon as we can.

Lexi is back from Australia, where I dragged her quite willingly in January.  She helped me then with a couple of geezers we had to keep track of, and she’s a good sport at it.  She’s a treat to have around, with whatever we get up to.  When  I saw her last she was bent over in the hot sun, paint brush in hand, earning her keep in the Gramma suite at my daughter Malena’s house in Perth, and chasing some young cousins and the odd kangaroo around.  Her Mama’s glad she’s back, but I’m not sure that’s gonna be a thing.

She’s invited an unsuspecting friend from home to join us on the West Coast for a little adventuring with Aunty Ruth.  Well, we did see the dark side of Vancouver the night before, so not to scare Kristin away we promise to take it easy on them.  They only had to make 3 or 4 trips up and down the ramp with the full wheelbarrow to help us move some gear around.  But hey, I’ve seen Lexi running uphill pushing a wheelchair, ya, a loaded wheelchair, so I know she’s up for the task.

The Skipper is once again the happiest man on earth as he guides OMOO out of her slip and out into the bay.  It’s a long winter and we’ve dug him out from under his projects yet again.  His lovely boat is as ready as he is to shake off the dust and get into the wind.  Mother Nature performed on command with a gentle breeze under brilliant sunshine and blue blue skies.

Harold gives the girls a lesson in navigation as we power out to Stuart Channel, then the sails go up and we’re away.  It’s perfect conditions for a couple of new sailors from the prairies.  It doesn’t take long for everyone to relax and soak up some rays as we shake the winter off of OMOO.

We’re off to Thetis Island for fuel and a few supplies.   We have another lovely young lady joining us for dinner, Anna, Harold’s niece who’s been working in Berlin and several other countries developing her “App.”  Such an interesting evening to look forward to, catching up on all her news.

Of course there’ll be happy hour on our return,  with all our lovely G-Dock family.

All in all, it’s a perfect day in May.  Come along, into summer sailing 2019 we go.  YIPPEE!!

 

BEEF JERKY & SAUVIGNON

 

Flying across the prairies, snacking on beef jerky, lentil crackers with hummus while drinking sauvignon blanc, chilled over ice of course is a cultural experience.

From spring to summer and back to winter again in ten days, that’s April on the prairies.  The sights, smells and sounds surprise me all over again.   At 4 AM the “cheeseburger” bird starts it’s tunes (you’ve never heard of the cheeseburger bird?) while trains whistle across the miles.  The warm sun is breaking through and melting  the last of winter snow drifts trapped in the shade of bushes and ditches.   There’s a whole day to play and run with my sweet grandson.

 

 

The earthy smells of fresh grass and musty dust rise up along the path through low hills into the valley.  Overhead comes a strange sounds like geese honking, but more raspy, almost chortling.  As the sound gets louder and more puzzling I spot the scraggly  V’s of snow geese, with their long necks and wide wingspan.  They circle around, tumbling into the flocks behind, like a soft slow dust storm silhouetted against the gray prairie sky.  They start free falling with grace to rest from their day’s journey, gliding to a field near a thawing lake.

A softness rises in lavender hue, the crocus surprises the old straw grass.  The fresh spring breeze kisses the soft gray fur of fresh buds on the willows near the creek which tinkles over melting ice.

 

The grass turns greener and the days lengthen,  more time to take with this little one.  She’s up and down, the playground is fun.  She curious, precious and won’t be little for long.   Watching her grow and getting to know the world is a Gramma’s thrill.

 

Suddenly the south breeze is chased away by a harsh northern gale.  Stinging rain falls from low angry clouds, and turns to ice pelts and then snow.  The geese hunker down with nowhere to go.

It could be winters last blast but you never know.   One more glass of chardonnay and my flight breaks through some mist to greet the mountain tops of the west coast, then sparkling ripples of the Fraser River winding through the city I call my work home.  Next door is the sweet smell of the ocean and it feels like home.

Family is what takes me back to those unpredictable prairies, all 24 of us from age 2 months to 80 years gathered around the sprawling farm table for a few hours while the kids run in and out of the sun and mud.

It’s been said that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl, and I would have to agree that it’s pleasantly true.

 

 

In Between Seasons

Some family time comes before sailing season, and the instant summer on the prairies is just perfect.  It’s plus 20 under the Saskatchewan sunshine, the crocus’s are out on a hilltop bathed in warmth, and the pussy willows are swaying in the breeze down by the creek.

It’s Max time with days getting longer and a few free days off work which makes for a very happy Silly Gramma.  We hit the trails running this morning, finding some rocks to take home to paint and some walking sticks that turn into magic swords.  Gramma gets to be Wonder Woman when we all the sudden turn on our super powers.

My grandson has alot of imagination, and there’s never a dull moment.  But in the words of my little girl (who’s 33) when she was 4, “a girl without an imagination is like a car without wheels.”  And so it goes with little kids, it’s play time all day.

I think of the big city where I work, with all it’s busy craziness, and the ocean with all it’s vast beauty and compare it to the open prairie sky, and feel so so lucky to be in this beautiful life.

Spring means Easter Egg Hunts all over the country, and Silly (the other name I have besides Sideways Sally) made it in time to help play the Easter Bunny.  We all met at Barry and Karen’s (my children’s father and his lovely wife) for the hunt, with Max helping little Wendy find the goods.   It was all so so so cute,  the video’s a little long but I couldn’t help myself.

Grab your morning coffee and enjoy.  Happy Spring to everyone!!

MAX AND WENDY, APRIL 2019

 

 

Spring Chicken

SIXTY-ONE AND STILL HAVIN’ FUN!!  It’s been a birthday week!!

Nothing better than Kelly’s Paella and Bday dinner with this crew!!

Kelly and Jen, Ken and Tanis.

Sideways Sally has been trying to impersonate a spring chicken!  She’s feeling motivated and determined to look and act like a 30 year old, (29 in the dark) hehehe.  Along with doing an online beginners Pilate’s program, and boat projects all weekend, she still managed to crawl into work on Monday morning, her limp was almost undetectable.

Having spent the month counting calories in order to shed some extra feathers she gathered over the winter she’s decided to cut back on wine… she’s very grateful for vodka.

 

 

Sideways is enjoyIng many signs of spring on the short version of G-Dock.  There is rebuilding going on, with a new dock hauled in last week.  The recovery from some harsh winter storms commences, but it’s too quiet!!  Most of the live aboard community has been displaced onto H dock.  So far away!!

Meanwhile…

The dock walkers have no choice but to turn around just beyond OMOO, which of course allows the Skipper to hook some unsuspecting passers by with a story or three.  However a few old faithfuls have stopped by and the deck chairs come out in a big hurry.  It’s only the beginning, G-Dock loves spring time and soon all the boats will be sparking in the sunshine once again.

See you all soon on G-DOCK!!

The day I never left G-Dock

 

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When I turned 45 I picked up and moved from the prairies to the West Coast.  I had been married for 25 years to a very nice man, had three wonderful children, a great nursing career and a dread of dying of boredom.   Fifteen years into my married life I decided I would one day make the break, and it terrified me.  I put it off for ten years, weirdly believing that somehow everything and everybody would be better with me in the picture “till the right time.”

I remember standing at the kitchen window in Brandon, Manitoba, staring out at my favorite tree, mindlessly washing the dishes and thinking, “why can’t I be happy here just like everyone else?”  It pains me to say this for the fear of hurting yet again the sweet souls of my wonderful family and what I put them through in my crazy attempts to make sense of my life.

Near  the end of my married life I took a motorcycle trip out to the west coast to look for a job and meet up with friends.  A job interview took place the same day I made an offer on Nomad, a 1979 27′ Coronado sailboat.  She belonged to a friend of a friend who took me out sailing on a day of golden sunshine, blue blue sky and smooth sparkling ocean .  I was in heaven and  had fallen in love with sailing.

I’d kept my little sailboat “Nomad” on Saltspring Island  and learned as much as I could from the sailing community I met there.  I enrolled in the Power and Sail Squadron course and learned the basics of safety and sailing on the ocean.

I went everywhere in that little boat.  Being old, she had 1/2 inch fiberglass and was bullet proof.  I ran into rocks going to Jedediah Island,  sat out 45 knot winds anchored in Desolation Sound, and was stranded on a calm day when the 9.9 Honda engine wouldn’t start.  My friends rescued me and towed me back to SS.  The old tiller broke off in my hands in the middle of a gale where I pushed it a little too hard into the wind.  I steered her back to the mooring with what was left of it between my ankles.   The adventures were just what I longer for and I had found my happy place.

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Five years later I sold Nomad with the hopes of living aboard a bigger boat.   I’d put my name on a list for moorage in Victoria where I was working, gave notice on my apartment, and  made an offer on a sailboat that didn’t pass the survey.   She was a beautiful old wooden boat with brass rails and an ornate interior.   She was a rotten old classic.   My plan fell apart and I went to live with a friend who rented me a room close to work.  I realized there must be more to learn about boats and living aboard so I postponed my plans for a year and went sailing with friends on their various boats.

Unbeknownst to me at the time somebody was looking for a lady to sail with, and possibly more…

Carol was a colleague, she was the Social Worker on the unit where I was working.   I would occasionally hear her on the phone in her office talking to a man she was dating, whom she had told me a little bit about.  He was from the East Coast and was living on his new sailboat.  They had met via internet dating.  One day I walked into her office during one of these calls to overhear her saying, “Well you should probably throw out some of those old t-shirts, especially that ratty one.”  (I now know exactly which one she was talking about.)  Not wanting to interrupt her I sat quietly waiting for what I needed to talk to her about.  She then said, “Will you be coming to see me later?” followed by, “Well, then I guess you’ll be wanting to go sailing again soon instead.”   (I now know he hates leaving his boat.)  Soon after this Carol invited herself along to one of my exercise nights at the local pool.  She started asking me more about my sailing life, and more about my love life,  both of which were nonexistent at the time.

I’d just come through leaving someone whom I loved deeply but who loved alcohol more, and I had to get “off of that sinking ship.”  I told her I’d dated a few guys I’d met on internet dating sites, but that it felt like “shopping at Walmart, there’s lots for sale but nothing of real value.”  so I’d given up and was just going to have fun doing things I enjoyed.  She then explained that the relationship with the man with the sailboat wasn’t really going anywhere and that he had this really strange sense of humor that she didn’t get.   However, they wanted to keep sailing (she was a ferocious sailor).   This guy had asked her to bring friends sailing, as he was new to Vancouver Island and didn’t know anyone.  So one day she invited me to meet Harold and sail on OMOO.

I had sailed on a few boats by this time, but was thrilled to get on the wheel of this Jeanneau 43 DS sailboat.  The first time I sailed her we were blasting past Sidney Spit on a broad reach.   I had to keep her away from the shallow water and still catch the angle of the wind to maintain our great tack.  I was focused and got her going perfectly.  The skipper noticed.

We went sailing a few more times and she sailed like a dream.  We would have a little happy hour when we got back to the dock.  The skipper would tell stories of how he moved across Canada, working and living in rooming houses so he could save money for his dream lifestyle.  He wanted to live aboard a boat that sailed well and he could stand up in.  He’s 6’4″ tall and has trouble fitting on beds.

He described some of the people in these rooming houses who were  drug dealers or mentally ill,  and how the police would show up, and how he’d lock his door when things got wild.    I laughed and laughed so hard I had to lie down on his settee.  “You’ve been living with all my patients” I said.   We’d tell each other our stories and jokes,  cracking up while Carol sat looking at us like we were from Mars.

When we met, OMOO lived in Sidney, at a marina surrounded by “Gin Palaces,” big empty power boats, mostly owned by Americans.  The skipper wanted to find a community, so he followed another skipper he’d met to Maple Bay.

One beautiful spring day in Maple Bay the skipper needed a hand measuring  his anchor chain so he gave me a call.  I was on Saltspring Island hanging out with my sailing friends.  I love to do anything that has anything to do with boats so I met him at the next ferry.  We worked away under the warm sun and when the job was done Harold asked me if I wanted a beer, so I said sure, “if you’re having one.”  He replied that he wouldn’t drink cause he was driving me back to the ferry.    I went below to use the head and thought “I don’t need to go back to the ferry.”  I brought up two beer and without saying a word we opened the beers and  I never left the boat.

The rest is history.  We’ve been this wonderful wacky trio of OMOO, Hershey and Sideways Sally going into our tenth year now.  We’ve gotten to know each other’s family and friends, have been tossed around in some life and death health issues, and have celebrated our home on the water every chance we get.  We take trips every summer  to the most amazing destinations on this vast West Coast.   We’ve met people everywhere we go and make lasting friendships that we value immensely.   We have a friendship and understanding that I’d always dreamt of.   Hershey is gentle soul with deep insight, always curious about what’s going on in the world, and keeps me grounded when I’ve had a wild ride in the trenches .  He listens to my stories when I need to debrief  from work.  On the boat he is a teacher, a stickler for safety, and the most experienced sailor  I’ve met.  Thank you for taking me along on your life long dream of living and sailing on the ocean.

To my Skipper, my best friend, my mentor, and my safe place to land.  I love you to pieces my favorite nutbar, Hershey.

Captain Passage is the very first video I made of our adventures.   It’s long one so grab a coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy.

 

Wait for me: A note from OMOO.

 

It’s that time of year again when I start to think about getting my bottom inspected.  It’s been a long cold gloomy winter and one thing I know for sure is that things grow in the dark.

The guy that lives in my belly all winter is always scratching around, poking and prodding in odd places.  Now she’s starting to come around again, and I can hear the two of them laughing and giggling, then things get really serious when it comes to who cleans what and where they’re gonna put stuff.

The Skipper that lives in me is called  “Hershey” and is pretty damn chill about all of this, he likes to keep things “calm and cultured.”  However, the one they call “Sideways Sally” doesn’t always appear to have time for that.  She likes to get me sorted out, cleaned up and spit and polished NOW, like there’s no tomorrow.

I’ve never quite understood how they make it work but one thing I’ll tell you for free, in the end I look pretty damn good.

It starts with uncovering me, I’m thanking my lucky stars about that one.  There’s been some gawd awful flapping and flinging of what’s left of those gray tarps trying to keep winter off of me, like that’s supposed to work.  Then I’m gonna get a bath with that loud machine which kinda stings, then the scrubbing starts.  It all feels so good when it stops.  Music is playing while I get my rub down with some smooth waxy polish, it’s kinda romantic.  Then I have a soft glow, and I’m sitting pretty again.

The Skipper likes to rev up my engine, which is the part I love the most.  He’ll  get me all lubed up and stroke me in all the right places.  He’s very diligent about that and he always leaves me clean and tidy.  This is also his favorite activity, so it makes us both very happy, and I run well.  All my Yanmar 75 turbo charged parts never skip a beat, maybe that’s why they call him “Skipper”.  I don’t know, or care, but I do wonder what his last name is sometimes.

Sideways gets down to business pretty quick, sometimes she kicks him out “to go take a break and get some stuff from town.”   By the times he comes back he can’t find a thing and she is completely happy, and I smell good!!  Then she usually invites a bunch of people over and they all drink wine, or tea if it’s before three.

OK, I know this part is weird, the Sideways Sally lady is always talking about how much she loves to clean my bottom.  In fact, she’s gotten several marriage proposals from saying that out loud.  Not from him tho, he knows how crazy she is, from these other guys that come around.  She gets so excited about bottom cleaning that she even requests to do it for her birthday.  She truly is a strange one.  But when she gets geared up for the job, oh my propeller, is she one hot lady.  She kinda overdoes it sometimes though, insisting I need to be all scrubbed down… down there with sand paper, then washed down with acetone, if you can believe it.   She gets down on her hands and knees for parts of the job, then gives me a make over with the brush and rollers.  It’s all black and goopy for awhile, but feels fresh and smooth when she’s done.    Sometimes there’s lots of people around while this is going on, so I’ve gotten quite used to exposing myself.  Actually it feels kind of risque, but in an attractive way.

Knowing I’m soon to be completely naked with my bottom showing, I’m off to the boatyard for my date with the slings.  They give me a lift and I’m on the hard.  I like to be handled gently, but I don’t mind the hard.  Then the words to this song keeps playing in my head “wait for me.”   I’m in a super vulnerable position when I’m on the hard, and without all the help I would never get finished in time for the summer season.

The other guy who is a regular named Ken has gotten pretty good mucking around under my hull as well.  Sometimes he brings another lady, Tanis and they all get dressed up to join the party.  They  get the job done pronto!!  There’s lots of laughs going on when they get into the beer.

Part of this routine gets quite technical when it comes to the Skipper and my propeller, there’s something special about it which requires lots of attention.  Different tools and lubricants come out and it seems to attract  people that come over to make sure it’s all getting done perfectly.  This is a big deal for the Skipper plus he kinda likes an audience.  Talk about risque!!  He gets this big grin on his face the whole time he’s making it all clean and shiny.

Once I’m all dry and spiffy they put me back in the water where it’s soft and cushy and I can move around and get comfy again.  Finally when everything is organized and the crew can find stuff  again we all go chasing some wind, which is my favorite thing to do.

 

 

 

2019 Family Trip to OZ

 

Week 1 – Vancouver to Melbourne

I was determined to get a blog up each week, but here we are on week 3 of our trip and I’m grabbing a few moments early on a beautiful Aussie morning to try to catch up.  It has been an amazing journey so far with no major glitches in our travels.

We had one minor glitch at the airport with Barry’s visa because I put in my ex-husband’s birthday (who’s name is also Barry) instead of Barry Bromley’s.  I must have been doing this after too many over-time shifts at work.  However a quick re-do and 15 minutes later we were cleared for boarding.  WHEW!!

The best way to travel turns out to be with a slightly disabled person.  I say slightly because Irene can get around very well, especially getting to the AO (Aussie Open), I’ve never seen her beetle so fast as getting to the Rod Laver Arena to enjoy live tennis!!

We did not have to navigate our way through airports as we’d arranged assistance.  The kind and efficient staff scooped us up for fast security check through and whisked us away to the gate.   Hong Kong was a dream with the porter taking us right through to our hotel.   The ladies in Melbourne wouldn’t even let Lexi and I take our own luggage!!  And no line ups!  It was fabulous!

Next time I travel I’m borrowing that cane!!

The first day of tennis in Melbourne we took Barry and Lexi with us on a ground pass while we got our bearings and learned the transit system.  It was easy to get around on the tram once we got Barry away from measuring the track and onto the tram.  It was an amazing number of people moving around the city and attending the OA but it all went very smoothly.

We had no idea who we would end up watching but we did get a thrill out of seeing Serena Williams, Rafa Nadal, and the Oz female player Barty, among a few others. It was fun to be in the “Barty Party” and enjoy the Aussie fans.

Irene said what struck her the most is how quiet the crowd is while the volleys are on.  You can hear a pin drop, while she’s used to watching on TV when the commentators are talking the whole time.   It was fun and interesting for me to see her enjoying live tennis, and an educations as she knows ALOT about tennis and all the players, their wives and girlfriends, and any nonsense they’ve been up to.

Barry and Lexi toured the aquarium, went on a river cruise, and then took a day trip with a steam train ride out into a nature reserve.  Of course it was “not set up for us steam engine fanatics,” according to Barry.   He only had fleeting moments of measuring and examining things before getting yelled at to board the train.

Day 3 in Melbourne and we got on a tour for the Great Ocean Road.  The pictures explain it much better than I can.

Now it’s many hours later after another day of exploring this huge and interesting country.   We are off to go diving in the morning so I will post this for now and keep working on updates.

Cheers from down under.