Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Spring!

March 21...Spring.
Just as that fickle groundhog said, but honestly, who amongst us believed him. That Spring would be here in six weeks.
And here on the Coast of Illinois, Spring arrived with a gentle breeze and 70 degree temps. (Sorry East Coast. But maybe you shouldn't have pissed off the Groundhog. I recommend a steady bribery diet of berries and weekly rubdowns for next year's groundhog. Personally, I let ours live under our deck so I feel I have an in.)

Twenty-nine years ago I was learning to ski in Switzerland with my husband of one year and his best friend. It never occurred to me, as I listened to a Swiss man who spoke no English singing Billy Joel tunes at the hotel piano bar, that I would one fine spring day be hoisting the main sail to glide across a silent lake.
Life is funny that way.

No more daydreaming over Islands and Cruising World magazines.
It is time to take the sailboat out. 

Being about one thousand miles from an actual island and limited by a stupid two day weekend, we decided on Rend Lake, a 90 minute drive, as it is a little larger and less busy than either of the closer lakes. It only took us three access roads to find the one lake access open on the first day of Spring. Which was good as it forced us to try a new boat launch and we discovered a nice picnic area for possible future get-togethers.
Setting up a sailboat in the land of powerboats and fishermen is always interesting. People watch in awe as we hoist the wooden mast. They sigh in disappointment when we don't drop it on top of the car. We were warned numerous times not to fall in the lake as it was still frozen just two weeks ago. I'm not sure what they thought we were going to be doing out there. Do I look like an America's Cup racer? Or someone who wants to freeze to death on the first day of spring in the middle of Southern Illinois?
(The average person can survive maybe ten minutes in 40 degree water. I looked it up. No thank you.)

I haven't been sailing since my November lessons so I was pretty excited to practice the skills I learned. Thankfully, there was no puking. But we did give rudderless steering a go. Not because we lost the rudder. But because we could! And it worked! Holding the rudder steady and letting the jib luft will actually turn the boat. Even in our 3-6knot East by South by Northeast gusting out of the West winds.

We had the lake nearly to ourselves. A couple of displaced bass boats raced past us heading to the bass boat party at the north end by the bridge but otherwise we were alone. With the waterfowl.

Herds of waterfowl.
And they were not happy with our slow and steady appearance. At one point a flock of over 200 birds took flight in front of us. It was amazing. What started as one flapping bird became two then twelve then one hundred. The sound was that of a small helicopter. I tried several times to catch the sight on camera.Listen closely, you can just barely hear the flapping.

At the end of the day we were slightly wind-burned, a little chilly and completely refreshed. I was reminded again of how lovely it is to fly silently over the water while interacting with the weather and the boat.

Happy Spring Everyone!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

You've Been Nepotised!

It has been a busy time here on the Coast of Illinois.
I would like to claim that all the hub-bub is what has kept me from writing the remainder of my Caribbean adventure. I have tried to also blame the weather, the time change, the fact that I am exercising again. But honestly, it is my lack of discipline.

And it is also all the hub-bub.

You see, this year, this weekend – Pi Weekend – is a biggie around here.
My little sister is getting married!
My baby brother is celebrating a birthday!

I imagine most of you have figured out that makes me the oldest. By five and ten years respectively.
As a five year old, I was foolishly excited to get a baby sister. I recall the awesome tiny jelly packets Dad brought home to me from the hospital. And the annoyance that the ball of blankets they brought home was completely unable to hold a Barbie.
Five years later, my excitement to have a baby brother was tempered by experience and the fact that the tiny ball of blankets our parents again brought home was born two months early and looked more like a monkey than any baby I had seen.
But there were those awesome jelly packets.

I must admit, never felt that super close Marcia/Jan Brady bond to either sibling.
My sister and I shared a room until I got married so there is that geographical closeness. And we played a lot of games with our little brother. Games like 'Scare that Karl' where we would lie in bed and bet how many of our own screams it would take to make our poor brother scream in return. We went on countless family vacations, staying in a pop-up camper where you can't help but know one another intimately.
But we never really confided in one another.

Until we were grown-ups.

My brother graduated college and moved himself, alone, to New York City in order to pursue a musical career. There were phone calls and postcards and thanks to Karl and his apartment in Queens, I got to fulfill my dream of visiting the Big Apple. And although I have always loved writing, it was Karl's advice – 'just write' – which nagged at me for another five years before I finally began putting my random, ridiculous thoughts out into the world.

It was about that time that my sister, back here on the Coast, voiced a desire to become involved in a writing group I belonged to. This mutual desire to entertain ourselves and others brought us close.

My brother and his family now live in Berlin, Germany. He is a jazz musician.
Which brings to mind the old joke:
What's the difference between a jazz musician and a pepperoni pizza?
A pepperoni pizza can feed a family of four.
He is one of those rare people who has pursued and maintained his dream. He is a working musician playing jazz guitar and recording for a variety of artists. He writes and sings his own songs and his work has been nominated for numerous awards.
Karl, you are the pepperoni pizza of jazz!
And this weekend is his birthday. Love you brother!

My sister is a bona fide scientist. Her work in pulmonary research has been published through the lab in which she works and makes me feel really stupid just trying to pronounce the titles of those papers. For example: 
She has raised an amazing son. She writes beautiful poetry and crochets like a crazy person.
On Pi day she is marrying an equally annoyingly smart guy who builds incredibly detailed boats and as best as I can tell, works as a spy. They are a perfect match.
Congratulations sister. Love you too!

Bubby, me and JenJen. I know. Too adorable.

And thus concludes the nepotism portion of the blog. The sun is once again shining here on the Coast of Illinois. There are tiny green leaves sprouting from the earth and my basement palm tree is itching to move outside.
Tales of the Caribbean, here I come.....

Monday, March 2, 2015

Maybe that Spinning Wheel is Hypnotizing Me

I am sure I am not alone...(as I write this I am hearing the words in the voice of Frank Underwood, ie Kevin Spacey) ...when I say that my time is rarely my own. By this I mean, my time is divided between work, family, writing, fun and now House of Cards.

It is my belief that Netflix is in cahoots with Kevin Spacey to overturn any semblance of civilization and responsibility in my life and quite possibly the world by releasing in one fell swoop, the entire third season of House of Cards.

I admit, I was late to the table with streaming Netflix. But I did my civic duty and managed to watch the first two seasons of HofC over a week and a half. This is no small feat as the only other person in my family who would enjoy the show is my son and he is no longer living at home. Which means I watch House of Cards, American Horror Story, Magic City and the occasional reality show when I am home alone.

I watch Walking Dead on Sundays. I mean, come on. This is how we survive.

But, I digress.

I wish I could explain what it is about HofC that appeals to me. I tend to avoid politics and drama. But the combination of Washington DC, the journalism angles, the beautiful clothes, the beautiful people and all the wheeling and dealing are just too much. I feel as though I am getting a crash course in how Washington works. I feel my knowledge and paranoia have increased exponentially.

And don't get me started on Kevin Spacey.

The guy inhabits my dreams.


After watching anything with Kevin Spacey in it, including but not limited to those E-Trade commercials, I will dream about him. Sometimes they are goofball dreams where nothing really makes any sense but more often than not they are dark, intriguing dreams which leave me with a sense of, not unease but not exactly anticipation...

Yet now that I am watching multiple episodes of House of Cards I have found that my Kevin Spacey inspired dreams have become nearly non-existent. It seems that four hours is the Kevin Spacey Saturation Point.

Sorry Mr. Spacey.

Which is one of the reasons I had to watch four episodes of season three today, my only day off this week. Sure, I needed to clean the bathrooms and I had intended to begin the official outline for a novel that is desperately needing direction and attention. I did force myself to not turn on the television until I had accomplished a few of my tasks – laundry, linens, bills. But as soon as my lunch was ready I parked in front of that damn spinning Netflix wheel for episodes three and four.

And then I felt guilty so during episode five I cleaned out and organized our Cds which just happen to be right next to the television.

My other reasons for watching, besides KSSP – (Kevin Spacey Saturation Point)? "If we never did anything we shouldn't do, we'd never feel good about doing the things we should."*

The newly organized CD cabinet. Of note, the alphabetical classification with special interests in easy to reach stacks, the mini-Easter Island heads, anniversary clock, moose picture, as seen on TV push-lights and the ecologically acquired coral next the the hand thrown clay pot. 
As you can see. It is a far busier cabinet than the one in Washington.

*Francis Underwood, House of Cards, Chapter 17