Sunday, September 27, 2015

Autumnal Aquanet

There is no messing with Mother Nature.

After what has felt like a ridiculously short summer, autumn has arrived.
The air is beginning to have a twinge of coolness in its breeze.
Pots of chili are popping up on Facebook and Instagram.
Catalogs feed our dreams of cozy, cushy sweaters.
Birds are beginning their migrations.
Summer flowers are bursting forth with their final bright blooms as reds and rusts and yellows begin to dominate the autumn palate.

Oh wait.
I mean the Summer Hairnets are bursting forth their final bright blooms...
It is a little known fashion rule. No red Nets after Labor Day.

And are slowly going to seed....
A rare Heirloom Black-Eyed Suzanne Net. Remarkable staying power. This one has been waving for 4 weeks solid. Look out when it finally lets go.

Wave on little Hairnet!
We'll see you in the Spring!

(Thank you to astute reader Liz for the rare red net photo!)

And - a big Coast of Illinois hug goes out to Laurie at  A Square of Chocolate she gave me the blogging equivalent with a Blogger Recognition Award! Please check out her site for some delish recipes and a laugh or two!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just Nurses

Yet another celebrity has put her foot in her mouth and peeved off an entire profession.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to let this go.

First a Miss America contestant stands up on stage and gives a monologue about being a nurse as her 'talent' portion of the program.
I didn't see this. I did see the posts on Facebook but didn't bother watching it. Seemed like a whole lot of blah blah – how sweet – blah blah. (I did finally watch this, before writing this essay which is why I am posting the link.)

Next some women on a daytime talk show attack said contestant, questioning her performance of a monologue as an actual talent, questioning her profession as an actual talent, commenting on her 'costume'.
I didn't see this either. In fact, I had no idea what was going on until I got to work this morning and was shown the subsequent Facebook page in support of said profession.(I did finally watch this. Although it wasn't easy, without morning coffee and a gun to my head. Which is why I am NOT posting the link to that site. Outside of the Today show, I have no use for morning talk shows.)

Then I got tagged in numerous posts regarding this incident and suddenly found myself defending the supporters in the midst of a discussion over being overly sensitive and too easily offended.

And last, as expected, the talk show mouths put forth something they called an apology but really sounded more like a slap in the face and an accusation of inability to take a joke.
I DID see this little gem.
And then I spent three hours reading posts on the supportive Facebook page.

Because I am a nurse.
I am not a nurse who considers her profession a 'talent'. Although I have worked with many nurses who truly could make this claim.
I do know a little bit about writing and performing my work in public. THAT is a real talent and the Miss America candidate should be congratulated for not only giving a unique performance but doing so on a beauty pageant – but we are really a scholarship program – stage.

It seems that the women on The View questioned why the contestant was wearing a 'doctor stethoscope' on her 'costume' and was simply reading emails.
These comments sent the nursing world into a frenzy.

Which is why it was suggested to me that maybe we as a profession was being too sensitive.
Well, world, let me explain.

That 'doctor stethoscope' probably cost the nurse wearing it at least half a 12 hour shift's wages. Stethoscopes are not provided. We have to purchase them and good ones cost a lot of money. We buy good ones because the patient and the doctor are counting on us to really HEAR what is going on in heart, lungs, grafts, bowels. Many times we are the first to hear changes and report our findings to doctors who are trusting us to do just this very thing.

That 'costume' is called scrubs. And guess what – they are usually not provided either. And, shocker, they are not very cheap. We have worked hard to wear those navy blue pajamas. (Some of us worked really hard to wear those white dresses with matching hose and caps!) But in a way, those scrubs are a costume. Because when we put those clothes on we leave behind our families and our friends and for 8-10-12+ hours we do things we never imagined: hold pressure to stop bleeding, insert hoses in orifices that should never have hoses inserted into, compress hearts to make them start beating again. And again.
That 'costume' gives me the strength to NOT cry as I listen to a woman my age lament the fact that she has been told she won't live another year, leaving behind her children, who are the same age as mine. That 'costume' gives me the strength to understand it's out of fear that an irate family member gets in my face and curses me because they do not like the outcome of their loved ones diagnosis.
But shedding that 'costume' does not mean I leave those things behind at the end of my day. Everything I experience in my scrubs becomes another stitch in the fabric of me. Some days those stitches begin to unravel and I wonder if I am just going to fall apart. Yet in the morning I get up and pull my scrubs on and those stitches pull tight for another day.

Miss Colorado, Kelly Johnson, performed a monologue about her experiences as a nurse. Her monologue was not 'emails'. Click here to watch. It was an essay. And my guess is, it was written as part of a professional nurse development program at her place of employment.
What's this?
A professional nurse development program is just what it sounds like. It is a way for nurses to develop themselves as professionals. At my hospital that program requires at least one essay be written a year. The theme of those essays revolves around what the nurse has done to improve a patient's experience through care they have provided. This is only a portion of the program.
I have watched many nurses who participate in this program take real ownership of their careers.

The women on The View touched a nerve by singling out these things in an attempt to be topical and funny.
It backfired.

This is a Facebook page which, in less than 24 hours, has gained over half a million members. Not just nurses, but doctors, EMT, paramedics, respiratory therapists, students and all the other members of the healthcare team.
All in support of nurses.

Which leads me to the folks who suggested that nurses were being too sensitive; that perhaps why is it worse to insult a nurse?

It is not any worse to insult a nurse than to insult a politician or a sports figure or a television talk show host. Taken at face value, the comments made on the View were just silly, poorly crafted attempts to be topical and cutting edge.
Why has the nursing community reacted so strongly?

There is the real question.

I can only speak for myself here.
I did not become a nurse as part of a calling. I became a nurse because I knew it was a dependable job which paid well. There have been many days, especially after 30 years, that I wonder if I had been 'called' then maybe these days would be easier somehow.
I am proud of what I have done as a nurse. But not because I AM a nurse. I am proud of the strength I have found within myself to do things I never thought possible; see things which are un-see-able; connect with people whom I would never have met in any other life. I have learned as much about myself as I have learned about medicine.   
The nursing profession has changed in so many ways, for better and for worse. We have more responsibility than ever before. We care for sicker patients. We work longer hours. We are active participants in meeting the ever more difficult criteria for financial reimbursement to hospitals: keeping readmission rates down, keeping infection rates down, keeping patient satisfaction up.

I feel nurses and the nursing profession are hitting a critical point.
And the women on the View made a fatal error in attacking one of our own.
We have allowed society to make jokes at our expense for years – the nurse on the soap opera who is scheming to catch a doctor, the 'sexy' nurse costumes at Halloween, the vindictive Nurse Diesel and Nurse Ratchet. Not to mention the millions of raunchy 'head nurse' jokes out there.

But we know those things are just in fun because we know that those things are not completely real. Of course there are nurses who marry doctors, there are nurses who are 'sexy', although none of them wear ridiculously short skirts with crinolines, and as tempting as it might be, we do not act vindictively.
And we probably tell way dirtier jokes than the general public can imagine.

But, women of the View, you attacked our realities.

So we are going to post photos of ourselves proudly wearing our stethoscopes. We are going to post silly memes. We are going to dissect every word that has been said. When you need medical care we will provide it to you, reprimand free. Although we may make a joke and ask you how to use our stethoscopes.
And tomorrow we will return to work a little stronger and a little prouder.
Because we are more than just Nurses. 
Thirty years ago

and today.

For more thoughts on nursing click HERE or on the It's a Living link above.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Why is it so Crowded in Here?

Ah September.
Do you remember...

Sorry. I can't help it. I here 'September' I hear 'September.

It has been an entire month since I have updated the Coast of Illinois. Probably not the smartest marketing plan for a blog but personally this was a wise decision. Nothing bad going on. I just needed a breather.

Don't get me wrong.
I love writing and I get a huge kick out of writing this blog and interacting with other bloggers out there in the world of cyberspace. But for all my enjoyment, every time I sat down at the computer I seemed to draw a blank.
Oh sure, there were plenty of ideas spinning around in my cranium. They just couldn't seem to circle the drain long enough to flow onto the computer page.

Every time I attempted to write and came up empty handed my internal editor, who sounds an awful lot like Ed Asner as Lou Grant would start up.
'What's the matter with you?'
'You can't come up with one lousy page?'
'Where's Sue Ann?'
This would activate my inner Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards and I would burst into mental tears at which point Lou would shout, 'Mary!!!' and Mary would plaintively cry, 'Misterrrrrr Graaaaaant!' At which point Marlo Thomas as That Girl would enter and begin to reprimand Lou, who would get in her face and just when it became certain that That Girl's questionable boyfriend Donald would show up but instead the mental door would open and Valerie Harper as Rhoda would enter, begging for help tying her super cool headscarf as she regaled the room with her latest dating antics, bringing everyone to question, not only her fashion sense but also her moral fiber. Eventually the whole crew would file out to the tune of the Dick Van Dyke show and I would be left exhausted and without a single word on the page.

I gave myself permission to take the month of August off.
Ridiculous, I know. Giving one permission to stop doing something which, at this point in my life, is essentially a hobby.
(Don't get me started on the heated discussion that transpires when I make that 'writing as hobby' mental comment. Let's just say there is an awful lot of Ernie challenging everyone to fight and then inviting the entire cast of my mental breakdown to Africa to shoot lions. At which point Marlo Thomas and Valerie Harper, as themselves, throw a monstrous shit fit and call in Betty White as both herself and Sue Ann to challenge Ernie to a duel....)

Anyway. You get the idea.

I spent the first four weeks of August fending off moments of guilt for temporarily abandoning something that I love. I slowly moved on and began channeling my creativity in other directions.

I cleaned out my fridge.
Lay your eyes on that baby! Makes me wish Shape magazine would call and do one of those 'what's in your fridge' stories on me. 

I reorganized my clothing drawers, after much discussion with a friend over the proper cosmic way to do so. 
Yes. Everyone of those t-shirts gives me joy. Don't judge.
I rediscovered sewing and made a skirt:
wrap skirt. couldn't be easier. unless you bought it already made.

And I created my interpretation of Marion Cotillard's dress in Midnight in Paris. (I also rediscovered why I quit sewing for myself after trying on said dress only to discover that, while I cast aside vanity and used the actual pattern measurements the dress is still a little too tight in the midsection. A problem which could be remedied by the use of a dressmaker's mannequin. However, owning a dressmaker's mannequin would result in hours of me running through the house in a panic in the middle of the night when I caught site of the 'stranger' standing in my sewing room trying on my clothes...) 
the movie dress is drop waist but I think I captured the overall feel - innocent yet sexy; classy yet trashy; delusional yet...oh wait, that's only me, not the movie character.

this is the back. in case you were wondering.

I attended two amazing concerts. (Blog post to follow.) I got to visit with my Great niece who is actually my GREAT niece! (No blog to follow. She wishes to maintain her privacy. One year olds. Really.)

 I read Stormy Weather and LuckyYou, both by Carl Hiaasen. (Hello NETFLIX? HERE is the material for the next NETFLIX original blockbuster series. Seriously. These are the most hilarious books I have read in a very long time.)
I also started reading ADangerous Summer by E. Hemingway, after watching the running of the bulls everyday for a week on the Esquire Chanel. (Not a big fan of the bullfight but I have to admit, the pageantry and tradition behind it is amazing as is the lifestyle of Hemingway and his crew.)

Sadly there was no sailing during my hiatus. Hot August weather does not lead to winds which play nice on the lakes in this area. (It does lead to an awesome album by NeilDiamond, but I already promised Earth Wind and Fire the video spot so you are going to have to take my word for it.) The lack of actual sailing did not stop me from studying sailing via my husband's ASA Cruising Handbook. It also didn't stop me from committing to making pirate shirts for our invasion of Jamaica later this year.
I can't seem to flip this the correct direction but I think you get the gist. There are four men and four women in our invasion. Oh, and I am nuts.
What happened next really surprised me. I was afraid that after a month away from writing anything longer than my Target Cartwheel list there would be nothing left to miss.
But, by the end of August, my head was spinning with new ideas which were just itching to fling themselves into the computer.
And let me tell you. It feels great.
I have plans for several blog posts stockpiled and notes to actually begin, for real, a novel I started years ago. I can't say, at this point if the novel will ever be complete or available on Amazon but it's September.
And as Earth Wind and Fire so eloquently put it:
Ba de ya, never was a cloudy day!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


It has suddenly become summer here on the Coast. My yard is dried up green. My flowers are faded. The squirrels have built a raft and refuse to get out of the birdbath. My hair is so frizzy I must turn sideways to get through the door.
And my brain has shriveled to prune size. Not 'dried plum'. I am talking withered and wrinkly prune.
I have no hope of seeing a beach. But my swimsuit hangs at the ready. 
It is so lonely and not salty here by the door...
See you again, soon!
Oh! PS- you can now check the Coast of Illinois out on Instagram!! @coastofillinois

Monday, July 20, 2015

And This is Why You Can't Take Me Anywhere

Or, maybe this is why you should take me EVERYWHERE...
So, you know how it is.
When it's Friday and your husband picks you up after work for dinner.
 And you go to your favorite local Tiki Bar – Taha'a Twisted Tiki – for some delicious chicken skewers and the best Hemingway Daiquiri on the entire Coast of Illinois.
It is no wonder Hemingway was such a good writer....
You have no intention of staying very late, its been a long week and you're pretty beat.
But the SEVENTY-SEVEN year old lady next to you strikes up a conversation and before you know it your husband has ordered a second round of the best Hemingway Daiquiris on the entire Coast of Illinois. And you have learned that the SEVENTY-SEVEN year old lady is a retired Air Force nurse who is there with her daughter (who is attending a scholarship foundation get-together, the attendees of which the lady feels she has nothing in common). She is getting ready to move into a retirement community and convert her 10 bedroom home into a boarding house of sorts for returning military women who need a place to stay until they find permanent housing. You meet her daughter, who is delightful, and as they say their goodbyes you consider doing the same.
But then a DJ begins to play music and next thing you know Charlotte Sumtimes – the MC and hostess of the Twisted Variety Show takes the stage, and well, now it would just be rude to walk out.
The hostess with the mostest.
So you sit back and prepare to be amazed by burlesque dancers Sofie de SadéParis Amor and Bryce Bordello. However, your husband is sitting sort of behind you and when the Hostess asks for volunteers, he points to YOU. A fact that you learn much later and for which he is still paying.
This is Sofie preparing for her balloon dance. The balloons don't stand a chance.
And suddenly you find yourself in front of the packed room at your favorite Tiki Bar – Taha'a Twisted Tiki – along side a lovely woman a good 30 years younger than you and an attractive man, also a good 30 years younger than you – as contestants in a dance off.
So, you implore the Hostess to please, please, please play a song you know as you beg the four other people in the place over 40 to be kind and support our team. And you know that you just have to jump in with both feet and never mind being embarrassed and if the worst happens you can always find a lesser Tiki Bar and make your own lesser daiquiris at home.
But the Hostess is kind and suddenly Like A Virgin by Madonna begins and you muster up your courage and your minor degree in 80's dance moves and work your way along the narrow, packed aisles, shimming here,  feigning a kiss there until you manage to make it back to the front where the attractive man, a good 30 years younger, has now re-appeared without his shirt yet still wearing a tie so you grab the tie and begin a tastefully dirty dance until you both break free, leaving you a few final moments to do a little swing with the guy in the Hawaiian shirt who is more age appropriate.
All the while your husband is trying not to fall off his seat while rolling with laughter at his little joke.
The music ends and the Hostess asks for applause to judge the dancers and while the audience is polite and well-behaved you are prepared to give the most gratefully modest bow and wander back to your chair in defeat. But...
When it is your turn for judgement the crowd erupts into cheers and applause and a chorus of 'MILF-MILF-MILF' and even your competitors, the darling woman and the attractive young man a good 30 years younger, is turned your way, grinning a big grin and applauding like crazy. And while you hope they are truly applauding your sweet dance moves, you know deep down they are probably just easing some of the Motherly Guilt, knowing that if it were THEIR moms were up there they would hope the same nice things would happen to her.
And since Hostesses have mothers too, she declares you the winner!
You do your most humble 'and scene!' bow, sweep your hands wide to embrace the throng as you throw your own applause back to them and scurry to your seat to google 'MILF' and collect your free drink.
Which now really needs to be water.
But turns out to be one more of those darn daiquiris. (The best Hemingway daiquiris in all the Coast of Illinois.)
And that is why you just can't take me anywhere. (Thankfully, I am blissfully unaware of any photographs of the actual dance-off.) 
Tahaá's Motto. Not a bad lifestyle when you think about it.

We ended up staying for the entire show, leaving Taha'a a little after midnight. Which is probably the latest I have stayed out in a year. And while the thought of attending a burlesque show might be off putting to some, I must emphasize what a wonderful group the people involved were. 
The dance troupe (The Kiss and Tells) was professional and talented. (There were several other equally talented dancers whose names I did not catch. I apologize and blame the daiquiris.) The crowd was respectful and engaged. The staff of the Tiki Bar, as always, were working their butts off. (You see, the Tiki Bar specializes in mixed drinks like Zombies, Mai Tai, Daiquiris and Volcano Bowls. All labor intensive drinks. It would be so much easier for these ladies to work in a place where they just had to pour a glass of wine or draw a beer. But the fact is, they take a great deal of pride in making these authentic Tiki Bar drinks. And believe me, it shows.)
To be able to spend an evening with such a diverse, unique crowd of people. To watch as everyone laughed and just enjoyed themselves. Well, that is exactly why I like to brag on what a wonderful place we have here on the Coast of Illinois.

Oh, and as we were walking to our car, the attractive young man who was a good 30 years younger them me, waved me down and again told me what an awesome job I did in the contest. I, of course, had to take his picture. 
Adorable and polite. What more could you ask for!
And if you need the recipe for making Hemingway Daiquiris at your own Tiki Bar:
1.5 ounces white rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce marachino liquer
1/4 ounce grapefruit juice
Pour all over crushed ice, shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Sit back, write a great American novel and enjoy.
But it still won't be nearly as good as the ones at Taha'a.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~

Happy Fourth of July!!!

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


This is how I have taken to responding to anyone who wishes me a Great 4th! I am not sure why. It just seems the thing to do this year. Honestly, I don't remember ever being wished a 'Great 4th' as many times as I have over the past few days. 

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


I sort of like it.

I'm not sure if it has to do with everyone here on the Coast of Illinois being so happy and grateful that it finally stopped raining. Or that, constitutionally, there is actually a little reason be proud of our government. Or the fact that we are all getting a little bit older and long for the carefree days of youth when people were free to play Jarts with real pointed metal ends, not the wimpy plastic ones out there now. 
Old School Ice-Cream making at Grandma and Grandpa's farm. When else would you get the chance to eat rock salted ice chunks? Please note the bare feet - mine. And the milk carton under my Dad's hand. It is a frozen junk of ice which he is preparing to smash with the ball-peen hammer, next to my little brother's feet. GOOD times. (DO NOT take note of my overalls, or my hair. Please.)
 The Fourth of July has been something of a secondary holiday around our house. We always tried to do holiday themed activities with our kids when they were home. You know, BBQing dogs and brauts. Watching the neighbors as they shot off fireworks. Taking bets on who was going to wind up in the hospital with second degree burns from sparklers.

We had many happy evenings watching fireworks from the Arch grounds, then Jefferson Ave, when the trees got too tall and the crowds too large. 
This was taken just a few years ago, from the top floor of a fancy riverfront hotel The ONLY way to watch fireworks!

There was a super fab year when we braved the Midwestern Migration to Destin, Florida with some friends and were treated to 2 hour drives to get exactly 4 miles down the road to dinner but the fireworks over the bay more than made up for it. (That and the trouble THEY all got into for having a water gun fight from our fifth floor balcony with people in the parking lot. And the trouble SOME PEOPLE got into while allowing their children to play hide and seek, unattended in the hallway of the condo. Seriously, we were on vacation. Our kids NEVER got into trouble and they were thrilled to be the 'bad kids' for once!)

I was saddened at our semi-successful attempt at croquet, not easy in our sloping, bumbey backyard. I grew up on a flat, cornfield-infested farm. My sister and I spent HOURS playing croquet as kids. I could slam that striped red ball through a wicket, bumping her striped green ball from it's perfect set-up shot, from 100yards. Of course, she was a wiz at blackballing me into the garden. (That's where, as a penalty, you get to set your ball next to your opponent's, steady them with your foot and WHALLOP your ball, thus, through physics, sending your adversary's game winning shot down the proverbial toilet.)

Our kids never quite got the feel. We played barefoot – it was important to learn precision. Our kids were pampered. They never left the house without light-up sneakers on.

I ask you, where is the motivation to not slam a swinging mallet into your baby toe???


As everyone in the house aged the Fourth of July has become less of a big deal. I was the only one scrambling from window to window to catch a glimpse of neighborhood explosions. Brauts and dogs were replaced with more healthful tilapia.

It just felt right that this year I bring back a little of the fun that was the 4th. Thus my awesome Fourth of July greeting.

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


Yet, while out shopping with my daughter on Friday, she gave me the fashion-appraisal once over, then did a self-eval and noted that we were both very 'patriotically dressed'. She in a faded red t-shirt and jeans, me in a faded red/white jersey and jeans. Her shoes were blue, mine white.

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


This morning I dumped my yogurt and fruit into a bowl and noted:

I swear, this had to be subconscious. Also of note, the bowl is sitting on my kitchen table which sports a Fleur-de-Lis, the universal symbol of guillotine wielding Frenchwomen and St. Louis, MO.

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


Perhaps the Fourth of July never really lost it's significance after all.

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~


Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

From the Coast of Illinois

~Ker-Pow!! Sprler-Whoosh!!~

Okay, one more family photo. Me-Dad-Grandpa holding my brother, my Sister leaning in. All of us in front of a car which could sleep 10 comfortably.  I am going to just embrace the overalls. I believe they actually had a little skirt attachment, for wearing to church or other formal functions. Also, they had not invented 'hair product' so I was stuck with Dippitey-Do and pink hair tape. My hair laughed at this. As did everyone else.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sailing and the Tropical Depression formerly known as Hurricane Bill

You would think, as long as I have lived on the Coast of Illinois, that I wouldn't be surprised by anything that happens around here. But then, this happened: 
To quote Bob, from What About Bob: I'm sailing!
I know. I have been talking about sailboats ever since the Coast came into existence. But I have to be honest. While I knew the reality of our wooden boat was inevitable, I really never believed that one day I (capital, italics, bold, exclamation point) would be steering anything larger than a modified bathtub.


Rob, who clearly has way too much time on his brain, has nurtured the idea of learning to sail these big boats in preparation for round two of our lives where we charter and sail every body of water out there including but not limited to Gulfs, Seas, Oceans and Sounds. Oh, and Lakes of Greatness. Being the supportive wife, I have let him ramble on about boat types, mooring balls, tidal maps. I was more than happy to take a trip to Tortola and earn my Sailing 101 certification. But the thought of taking the more difficult 102-103 classes, where you learn things like navigation and diesel engines gave me a strong desire to go shopping and have pillow fights.

Using the 'Gilligan didn't have all that book learning' argument, I bowed out of round two of classes, which he opted to take at Lake of the Ozarks, a mere 4 hours away. And, because one must practice what is learned, I found myself the proud renter, for 24 hours, of a 26 foot sailboat.
Only that boat was not available when we arrived. So I found myself the proud renter of a 32 foot sailboat.
Only that boat was drenched, thanks to the tropical depression formally known as Hurricane Bill. It seems that an elderly boat's window gaskets won't hold up to one week of torrential rain. This interesting turn of events landed us in a 36 foot Catalina sailboat. 

The Mariposa

For those measurement challenged out there – 36 feet is the length of a telephone pole, twice the height of an average giraffe or five times the height of Shaq – that would be 5 Shaqs, laid end to end.
This was one big ass sailboat.

We rented the boat through the Ozark Yacht Club. (Okay. I know. Brings to mind a group of those Baldknobbers People in overalls with one strap, a hat with a hole in it, a corn cob pipe and a whole bunch of bass boats. Well, stop it.) The Ozark Yacht Club is just off the Bagnell Dam Strip (where there ARE Baldknobbers in overalls plus nearly as much neon as Las Vegas and the largest population of salt water taffy west of the Mississippi. The club is nestled in a wooded cove, down a frightening hill. It offers several beautiful rental cabins as well as a wine bar, an award winning cafe, a small beach, a swimming pool and a full service marina. 

The Lakeside Cafe. Yummo breakfast, lunch and apre-sail snacks. Also, lovely shower facilities upstairs.

It is also the home of some enormous, expensive boats. All of which I was certain would zoom from their slips and into our path as we maneuvered our boat for the day out of, then back into it's slip.
I am hiding in the cabin so as not to see the huge, expensive boats we are not crashing into.

After Bert from the marina gave us a tour and run down of the boat's controls (it had a diesel engine and AC/DC power although the galley and head were not functional for our visit) we grabbed some big ass sandwiches from the cafe and prepared to cast off. Once out of the marina and in the main channel, I put the boat in irons and Rob hoisted the main sail. 
This is when it started.
I was at the helm, the boat pointed directly into the wind. As the sail went up the boat began to gently, but firmly move. I made constant adjustments to keep our direction. We wanted to start off slowly to get a feel of the boat's capability. It was quite clear. Mariposa wanted to sail. The power of wind and vessel is impressive. It demands respect.
It had taken hold of me.
Sails from the bow.

Rob took the helm and turned us to a close reach, wind over the port. I hoisted the jib and we were off. Not too fast, but moving.
No motor.
Just wind.
There is no feeling like it.
More sails. I can't help it.
This is where the Tropical Depression formerly known as Hurricane Bill comes in. You see, Missouri, Texas and it's Hurricane are only one panhandled state apart. Which means the Coast of Illinois hosted tropical depression rain for five days straight. Including the Wednesday we were planning to sail. In fact, it rained on us for the entire 4 hour drive. I kept repeating 'rain before 7, stop by 11'.
And it did.
Until 3pm.
Maybe 1pm, I really have no idea. By this point I was so wet my eyeballs were blurry. Thankfully, there was no lightening and the wind was quite gentle which was a good thing as we were already under sail. (Safety Police alert – Rob had done his captaining work and triple checked the weather, reviewed our plan with the marina people. There was a radio on the boat. We had raincoats and life vests at the ready.)

For nearly four hours we shared the lake with two other sailboats and a couple of jet skis. The lake was calm, the wind fairly steady but gentle. We topped out around 3knots. Not very fast, especially for a big boat with it's sails full out. But plenty fast enough for someone who is incapable of judging distance on the water and has an over-heightened fear of destroying someone else's very expensive boat, dock, house on the shore.
As Rob pointed out many many times, I can drive a car. If something is coming at me in a car, I turn. Same with a boat. But here's the thing. A boat doesn't have a break. I can't slam on the pedal with both feet and STOP. Sure, I can turn the boat into the wind (in irons) or just drop the sails and it will stop (nearly)dead. I have had a lot of experience doing this, by mistake.
I spent an equal amount of time grinning like an idiot because I was so happy and wishing I had a prescription for 1million Xanax because my anxiety over destroying something was higher than the 40 foot mast.
This is something I may need to come to terms with.

The desire to continue on past one more cove, around that next corner was strong. So was the wall of rain we could see further down the lake.
We returned to the marina without incident. Unless you count my sudden urge to BUY the boat, which just happened to be for sale.
I got over that as Rob listed the number of things needing 'upgrading' and the cost of each.

Our hope had been for a full live-on-a-boat experience. 
interior shot. sort of a floating camper in need of a little love.
As the boat was not outfitted for showers and cooking, we used the club facilities. (No. Not an outhouse and garden hose.) The Ozark Yacht Club provides it's members, and boat renters, a fully equipped club house. We had our choice of several private bathrooms – each extremely clean. The club also has a full service kitchen and a club room connected to a long balcony with tables and chairs. (These amenities were not part of our access, which is not to say I didn't 'investigate' them. All very clean and void of anything made of corncob.)
We had dinner at Lil' Rizzo's, an Italian restaurant about 15 minutes away. We have eaten here several times on trips to the lake, each time finding the place completely by accident. I can only believe that Lil' Rizzo's is actually a mobile figment of my imagination which just pops up when I am starving. House salads, light, flaky, herb-y dinner rolls, spaghetti with meatball, supreme pizza, a glass of wine each – yum!
On the way back to the boat we stopped and grabbed desert at Pete's Market– chocolate covered graham crackers.
Rob and I both spent time in the Ozarks as kids. We have both skied the lake behind power boats until our arms were ready to fall off and our hands couldn't let go of the tow rope then passing out dead asleep in shared cabin bedrooms or tents.
That was the kid us.

The grown-up us spent the remainder of the evening on deck with a glass of wine, reading and just enjoying the quiet lake. Oh, and this:
 And this:

And for about 30 seconds, this:

Because of the threat of rain overnight, we opted to sleep on the fold-down table bed in the center of the boat where we had a fan. We chose to ignore the fact that the metal mast (lightening rod) ran through the corner of the bed by Rob's feet.
Our morning looked like this:

Rob went on a coffee run and I sat on deck with my book, watching a fish jump and a duck quack its way around the shore. One of the best mornings ever.
And that's when it really happened.
I know now. Deep down, so much that I actually read and enjoyed an article about installing a water maker on a sailboat, that this is something I want to do. Not because someone else wants it.
But because I want it.

That is an amazing feeling.
Sort of like sailing.

Of course on the way home, this happened:
The Mississippi Ocean. The Arch can be seen mid-right, if it were SUNNY.
Who knew the Coast of Illinois would actually become a real Coast...

For the purpose of full disclosure – I have no financial gain to be made from any of the mentions above. Sadly. I would even be willing to be paid in boat rentals. And those flaky, herb-y dinner rolls.

Check out the Sailing Page – there is an awesome video documenting our evolution to sailors, courtesy of my Dad. Thanks Dad! Oh, and one of my favorite songs – Morning Coffee - by my brother, musician, Karl Schloz.