Saturday, July 31, 2010

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
I'll stand on the bow, feel the waves come crashing
Come crashing down, down, down, on me

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart
Let the light shine in
But don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

When I awoke today, suddenly nothing happened
But in my dreams, I slew the dragon
And down this beaten path, and up this cobbled lane
I'm walking in my old footsteps, once again
And you say, just be here now
Forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin
Let me throw one more dice
I know that I can win
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

Any minute now, my ship is coming in
I'll keep checking the horizon
And I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call
It's gonna happen soon, soon, soon
It's just that times are lean

And you say, be still my love
Open up your heart, let the light shine in
Don't you understand
I already have a plan
I'm waiting for my real life to begin

--Colin Hay


I am tired of this week.  It has been a very long one.  I have always said that I'm not a very good alone person & this week has just proven that in spades.  I like to be around people & be socially interactive--I'm not saying that I cannot be alone--I just don't enjoy it as much as being with someone or a group of someones.   Normally my approach to difficult times is to continue to have a positive outlook & push through but that is under normal circumstances.  With my son away, work over for the summer, etc., etc., I feel adrift.  If one aspect of my regular structure were in place--say, summer work were one more week, I think I'd have been in much better shape because I'd have some focus.  I am a person who requires regular structure--I don't know what to do with myself when there isn't.  I must say however, that my support system of friends has been phenomenal.  They knew that this week would be a toughie, & they went out of their way to hang in there with me--through my funks & frustrations.  It is funny--most people long to just have nothing to do--vacation, etc.  For me, I like to have something to do--which is one major reason why I choose to work during the summer when a lot of education folk take off.  I know myself & this week has been a good example of what I try to avoid at all costs.   Last year I had Amsterdam to focus upon when I knew that work would be over & I would need to find something to occupy my time--also racing on about 7 different boats helped as well--this year I have one boat for the most part (I'm not complaining because it has been great) & so I'm more limited in the races I do.  This imposed exile is coming to an end--and I will be better. Pretty soon my son will be home from camp & we will establish our rhythm once more. But tonight & most of tomorrow still loom--sigh. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday Night With a Twist

Had a very cool opportunity last night while racing.  I was able to bring my BFF(J) down to the West River & join our boat.  We had pretty decent wind too so she had opportunity to actually pitch in--when you are short crew members--makes you an instant asset, even beyond just being "rail meat".  It is always cool when you bring someone outside of racing (she is a windsurfer & kite surfer so she's not a total noob) into the "fold" & have them experience the excitement that is sailboat racing--especially if there's actually wind on the Chesapeake in July like we had last night.  I also was anxious for her to meet people that I've come to enjoy spending time with--consider them friends & not just "the boat that I sail on."  Plus, as time progresses, I have also forged relationships with other folk on many of the other boats & I look forward to dinner after the race to talk with them as well--good to share with my BFF(J) a part of my life that folk up here in Baltimore just don't see.  And since Xing Fu is away this week, it was much easier to orchestrate a time to leave & not have to be concerned with coordinating with three people--also helped that her children, as well as my son are all away at overnight camp so no worries about who's going to watch the kids (not that they necessarily need watching at their ages).  I hope she decides to join me again--I think she learned a lot about this racing--vastly different then her experiences on another friend of her's boat--I believe a Benehuntalina--ie., cruising.  No triple-time need for speed there.  I know that it was difficult for her as well--so much new vocabulary that one must digest quickly--can't just say, "put that rope around that thingy & pull!"  Need to explain the winch, the handle, the self-tailer, the direction that you need to wrap the line around the winch, etc., etc.  When cruising, there is so much more time to explain, or when there's little wind.  The learning curve is way steeper when there is heavier wind during a race.  But my BFF(J) was able to do a little jib trim at the end of the race as we came to the finish & the land sheltered the wind enough for her to get a little feel for what the sails should look like.  I'm glad that my skipper gave her that opportunity.  

An aside:  feeling a bit like a "Sidedish Friend" these days. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fake Camping Enthusiasm

 I wrote about the Screwpile Lighthouse Challenge in my last blog post & I mentioned that I was camping during the days I was down there.  Xing Fu & I decided that to save money it would be a good idea to find a campground & pitch a tent.  Sounded like a great idea to me except for one little thingy....July heat. But we decided that perhaps an addition of electrical & a box fan might help.  The tent was something I'd purchased 10 years ago in the hopes that my ex-husband & I might find some way to work towards saving our marriage--it obviously didn't work because it has been sitting in storage under my house completely unopened.  And it's a great tent--6 person dome with 2 "rooms".  So I found it, dusted it off & now it has a new life.  My mom said to me that I had "fake camping enthusiasm"--meaning that I was too much of a princess & that roughing-it was decidedly not my way of doing things.  She really doesn't know me all that well.  I have camped before--I do like it & I was truly enthusiastic about camping out during Screwpile--sure beats $150 a night at the Holiday Inn for 3 nights.  Plus the bathhouse was very nice--rustic certainly, but clean & serviceable--and if necessary I can really rough it--bucket use has not been ruled out in the past--I am not really such a girly-girl.  Even after sailing all day & then partying later, it wasn't too difficult to come back to the campgrounds & chill.  But this camping adventure had even more meaning to me:  another test.

Xing Fu & I have decided that we don't shrink away from testing the boundaries of our relationship quite often.  It seems to be a trend in fact, starting from the very outset.  Remembering back to the huge snow storm (now that it is a blistering & record-setting 100+ degrees, it seems soooo far away) in February very early on in our relationship, we were stranded together for 3 days.  That was a test--so early--I remember writing about it.  Certainly our recent road trip was yet another test & now here we were camping out for 4 days--could we pitch the tent, & take it down without killing one another?  What about the rain?  We did have a thunderstorm the last night & we had to take down the tent after the rain--certainly more difficult.  As has been with everything we've thrown up to pluck the ties that bind us together, we are both as even-keeled & goal-oriented--therefore no drama.  Xing Fu asked what else are we going to do to test our relationship?  I said mebbe we should give it a rest--but I think we both agree that these "tests" are more adventures & explorations and have brought us closer rather than farther apart.  There has been some discussion about camping this fall in the Shenandoah when the leaves are turning....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Screwpile Regatta--Strike Papa

(Solomons Island)
 (Screwpile Lighthouse)

 Nope, not some off-beat sexual position but a sailing regatta that lasts three days on Solomons Island in typical July Chesapeake heat & no wind (or very light air).  Of course, most sailing terms could be considered sexual....but I digress.  I spent 4 days down on Solomons sweating buckets & baking myself in the sun.  But unlike another blog post that I saw (whine, whine, whine) about the regatta, I had an amazing timeYeah, it was blistering hot most days & I got pretty dehydrated, & yeah, we had serious equipment failure on day two, but my team rocked!  Especially on day 3 when our crew was down to only four people (6-7 is favored for the J-30). I was just so damn happy to be down there--last year I got bumped off the boat I was to race on less than a week before the race, and on my birthday no less, which majorly sucked--so this year I was greatly anticipating...including the fact that Xing Fu would also be racing.  Altogether a great few days.  
So a recap of sorts:  On Saturday Xing Fu & I drove down to Solomons & pitched a tent (more on this in an upcoming post).  There had been an overnight race from Annapolis to Solomons & a lot of folk were already in, but my boat had just taken Saturday to motor down from the West River.  Sunday was the first day of Screwpile and we knew it was going to be a scorcher--light winds, etc.  But, luckily it was not too bad--we had a good crew on board--6 of us, including a guest appearance from an old buddy of mine--Seamus.  As I've mentioned previously, he is a great sailor & tactician & his joining our team led us to a second place.  It was great fun to catch up with him.  
The entire fleet was divided into 3 courses: North (our fleet), South (Xing Fu's fleet) & West.  Our Race Committee was phenomenal--they really were an excellent team.  I loved hearing them over the radio, "Strike papa, raise delta" just before start for the one minute warning.  My understanding was that not all of the courses had as good an RC.  Our courses were windward-leeward (four legs).  As for my boat--we executed beautifully on day one & ended our day very hot but happy--hopped in the pool at the marina to cool off & then joined the party under the tent at the Holiday Inn.  Big Party--lotsa rum drinks, Spinsheet Birthday--15 years.  I purchased a t-shirt & a long sleeve tech shirt with our boat's name listed along with the other competitor's names on the back.  

Day 2 was not such a good one--we had sustained 18-20 knot winds which is actually really good but as we were reduced to only 5 crew it became very difficult--in addition, we had some problems with equipment namely that our spin halyard broke, the traveller lines broke as well as the boom vang...time to go back & visit Marine West for some needed repairs--we cut our loses after the second race & returned to port--swimming & party--a girl can get used to this.  We also visited a few restaurants on Solomons--I had a great crabcake the second night at Stoney's Kingfishers.

Day Three brought even more challenges--further crew reduction to 4, had to repair the damages, blistering heat--but I gotta say that we kicked ass--not only did we get the boat around the course very well but we put some serious pressure on the leaders--they covered us & watched us quite closely--a tip of the Mount Gay Rum red hat to the underdogs!  Speaking of red hats--as the core 4--we received the red hats for this regatta...nicely earned.  After the last race, we pulled up to another boat in our class & I hopped aboard as we were sailing...had to slow power as much as possible to bring the two boats together but we did & I scrambled on for my ride back to shore as my boat pulled off for the long trek home. 

I must say that I truly enjoyed the entire experience at Screwpile this year & am looking forward already to next year's--Xing Fu says that Screwpile is the height of his sailing summer--he looks forward to it all year--I agree--we had a blast & got a ton of sailing in too.
Believe it or not, I came back for more yesterday--it was the Wednesday Night Series after all. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Call On Me

 Call On Me                                            

Well, baby, when times are bad,
Now call on me, darling, and I'll come to you.
When you're in trouble and feel so sad,
Well, call on me, darling, come on call on me, and I'll help you.

A man and a woman have each other, baby,
To find their way in this world.
I need you, darling, like the fish needs the sea,
Don't take your sweet, your sweet love from me.

Baby, when you're down and feel so blue,
Well, no, you won't drown, darling, I'll be there too.
You're not alone, I'm there too,
Whatever your troubles, honey, I don't care.

A man and a woman have each other, baby,
To find their way in this world.
I need you, darling, like the fish needs the sea,
Don't take your sweet, sweet love from me!

Please! So baby, when times are bad,
Call on me, darling, just call on me.

--Janis Joplin

The Quest for Piggly Wiggly & Other Stories From a Packed Weekend

 OK, weirdly I decided that this was a great logo & I wanted a reusable bag to carry my groceries from the Piggly Wiggly's.  We don't have them up here--so I was on a quest.  Sometimes I just get on these tangents, but in all honesty, we needed breakfast stuff so I had a legitimate reason to go there.  Sadly, the PW we went to in New Bern had no reusable bags.  The cashier was very helpful though--she said that they had bumper stickers (not the same but still fun), again we struck out.  I now am in possession of 2 regular plastic grocery bags--ah well--perhaps online is the option.  I must say that I'm very happy that Xing Fu indulged my quest & didn't make too much fun of me.

We'd driven down to NC & I'd been a bit worried--all those hours in a car--how would that work?  Boredom?  Irritation?  Nah--all of us did quite well & aside from the nasty rain at one point, we made it down to Oriental in fairly good time.  I'd found these cabins right on the river in this town & they were really quite charming--the cost per night was an amazing value & it was quite a comfortable night.  The next quest was of course the one for a good bbq--every time I'm down in NC, that's what I look for--and happily found--two times this year.  One was Moore's in New Bern--great NC style stuff--we'd been last year & I knew that another visit was in order.  After dinner we went back to Oriental & walked along the docks--it was quite a magical evening--a hot, sultry July night with the stars shining after the storms pushed through, surrounded by sailboats, & listening to the fish flip & play in the water.  My son decided he'd rather watch TV than go look at a bunch of sailboats in the dark--OK, so I guess that is a bit over-the-top--the sailboats in the dark, but in my mind there's nothing more peaceful than listening to the gentle swaying of the masts & lines gently bumping.  Plus there were a lot of great boats to look at--even in the dark.  (yeah, ok--my son says I'm sailing obsessed--guilty as charged)
                               Oriental, NC

The next day we dropped the kid at camp (and yes, I cry every time) & Xing Fu got an opportunity to see this great sailing camp--watch my kid summarily dismiss his mom, & then we took off to meet a couple of Xing Fu's friends from college.  It was very cool because I had an opportunity to sit back & watch the interplay--I think I learned a lot about Xing Fu & the type of friends he has--it was a great experience for me--I enjoyed being the fly on the wall at one point--glad that these guys were comfortable enough with me to go about their discussions & normal interactions without altering their behavior because "a woman was there."  I continued to indulge my best bbq quest & we all enjoyed a great meal--& I also was able to satisfy my desire for grits too (mebbe there's a bit of southern in me--does the fried okra give it away?)  I guess it makes sense that I'd like his friends as well.  The next day we left to make the long drive back up to Baltimore & still no Piggly Wigglys...

Driving home was another opportunity to grow our relationship--the hours passed & as I usually despise long car trips, this one passed in a blink--again reaffirming what I've known all along--we are a good fit--that we don't run out of things to talk about.   Recently read a brief article in Redbook that states that "good relationships are built on daily loving interactions."  Can be a look, a hug, whatever, but the daily connections are key.  So far, we manage to do that even on the evenings we aren't together--and when we spend long hours in a car...and it has been easy.   

We needed to get back to Baltimore because we had tix to see Counting Crows & Augustana at Pier 6.  Yet another concert--one of three for this summer--coming up Arcade Fire & Spoon (!!!! again!!!) & then David Gray & Ray LaMontagne.  Hopefully add the Virgin Festival as well.  It was a great evening of music & rounded out my birthday (yup).  Oh, did I mention that the 12th was my birthday?  This one was one of the better ones & unlike last year's, no disappointment in sight.  

It was a great jam-packed weekend--forgot to mention the racing on Friday night (imagine that), & now to get ready for the next series of events: one of my buddies from college is in to visit on Friday (we're going to the ballgame  & maybe, just maybe the Orioles will pull out a win--a girl can dream) & then on to Screwpile....and then maybe a few days off....but I wouldn't trade this--it has been wonderful.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

PHRF B? (Not Quite a Sailing Post)

 It has been hella-hot around the B-more area these past few days--so much so that BCPS(S) has closed summer programs for the past 2 days (I'm not complaining but I don't get paid on the summer days that I don't work) and it has been nice to just have to focus on getting the kid packed for camp.  We leave to take him to camp on Saturday & it should be an interesting & fun trip.  And then next weekend is Screwpile...more on that later.  It will be less than a week that I see my kid--back now from France (he had an amazing time) & off to camp for a month on Saturday...must be nice.  I'll miss him but he'll continue to have an amazing summer.

So last night was a Wednesday race evening.   And did we race????   No way!  Well, mebbe....It was so hot with a spotty breeze--my skipper pulled up in her little runabout powerboat stuffed full of water skis, a board, & a big tube & said that she'd rather swim & ski--how did the crew feel?  Some of us were game to race (Xing Fu & myself, along with others who, if pressed may have acquiesced), but we then thought about the downwind leg & decided that perhaps tooling around in a motorboat was far more preferable than bobbing on a hot sailboat for hours.   I had brought my suit in anticipation that the race may be called & we'd swim so I was all set..changed on the sailboat & dove was a great evening--team building a bit, a bunch of sailors enjoying an evening on the water.  We motored over to the start with our PHRF B flag flying & registered for the race & then went around to our competition hitting them with a watergun.  Later, after we'd tubed & skied, as we watched the boats begin to die on the downwind leg as predicted, we decided that for once we'd finish the race in first place.  One of our crew got on the water skis & flew the PHRF B flag from his hand as we crossed the finish line & got the gun from the RC.  Finally, a first in our class--without the spinnaker!!!  We finished the evening at the skipper's house for a bbq. She had brought back pre-mixed Dark n' Stormys from Bermuda--they came in soda cans--very cool & quite good for a pre-done drink. Looking forward to Screwpile & 3 days of craziness on the water with my boat.  But it isn't a total loss this week--Xing Fu & I will be racing Friday on a new boat for the AYC Beer Can series.  Non-spin, but still racing...