the adventures of a girl, her dog, and two cats.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


The first frost arrived and pup dog was wary of hopping off the boat. I still have to see whether the stern is close enough to the bulkhead to run her dog ramp so she doesn't have to brave the finger pier when the ice and snow arrive. Luckily, it has been an unseasonably warm December. Unfortunately, I have heard January is supposed to be our usual cold and February is supposed to be much worse than usual, with heavy snowfall. I try to keep telling myself that this is the last winter, at least for a while, and we simply have to hang in there and get through it.

Pup dog has been very spoiled having a guy who will throw the ball far enough and often enough to tire her out. He even bought her a Chuck-It. If only she would retrieve a little better--she has a habit of dropping the ball about 15 feet away. For years I have worked on getting her to bring the ball all the way to me, so she has this funny routine where she keeps nudging it with her nose to roll it toward me as I keep telling her "closer, closer." We took her along last weekend when we played disc golf and only about half way through the 18 holes she was slowing down and eventually "lost" (or more likely hid) the ball so she could rest.

School ended in early December for fall term and I was relieved to have made my "A"s in both Swedish Massage and Anatomy and Physiology. I also managed to avoid being massaged by the total creeper who was in the Swedish Massage class and who was incapable of being professional or appropriate. Many of us in the class were disappointed that the program didn't take any real action to remove him from the labs, instead giving him useless warnings. If by some miracle he passed and ends up in the Deep Tissue class in the spring, I'll refuse to work with him and either leave the program or the school can have a legal battle with me. I came to dread the massage class but feel I'm already committed to finishing since the time and money already invested are completely wasted without a license. So, we'll see what happens.

Not exactly news, but I have too much stuff. I’ve gotten rid of 95% of my worldly belongings, but still have too much. I know I’m only supposed to care about people, not things, but I am such a Cancer--my home is so important to me and some of my “things” are part of what makes it feel like home. Then there is the bigger, deeper issue that I feel I am unlikely to have the financial wherewithal to replace things or acquire new things. I’ve been living with piles of stuff everywhere and although it bothers me it wasn’t mission critical to deal with it since the boat isn’t ready to head anywhere yet. But now I have the surfer living aboard with me and I want him to have space to feel at home. I bought him a hanging shelf and added it to the main hanging locker so he would have a place for clothes and I got rid of the mini fridge to make more space and have a better spot for his guitar. I need to do a lot more organizing, cleaning, and paring down so he doesn’t feel like a houseguest and knows he has his own space. But somehow we are juggling the Rubix cube aboard and fitting two people, two cats, and pup dog on this little boat.

Although I gave up the mini fridge, my marine fridge is still not working. We’re sucking it up right now and using block ice; at least it’s cold out so it doesn’t melt nearly as fast as it did in the summer. But once I get the car paid off and tuition covered, repairing--or more likely replacing--the refrigeration system will be a priority. Although a new compressor will be pricey, I have a feeling it will be more cost effective than paying for hourly labor to troubleshoot whatever is wrong with a 20-year-old unit.

I’ve only been out running twice since I fell back in September and scraped my knee badly, but I have made it out ice skating a few times. A few years ago I was skating 4 or 5 days a week but the past two seasons I only made it out once or twice. This year I spoiled myself with a 30-skate pass, one of my Christmas presents to myself. I do love to skate and I’ll enjoy the pass, but I quickly remembered why I stopped skating at Quiet Waters regularly--rink rats and jerk parents who raise brats. I have to force myself to be on the ice right at 9AM if I want to get any time to skate before the a$$holes and their kids arrive. Sigh.  

My other Christmas present to myself was three discs for disc golf. I didn’t expect to enjoy playing stoner frisbee and initially just went along because the surfer really likes it and I wanted to spend time with him. But I’m not terrible and the surfer is a great coach, so we try to play as often as our schedules and weather permit. His discs are mostly better for someone bigger, stronger, and more experienced than me, so I picked out three different discs, a distance driver, a fairway driver, and a mid-range, better suited to my level and my backhand throw. One of my Christmas gifts from the surfer was a bag for my discs.

The holidays have been very stressful as usual. I never have much of any money and am always missing my father. This was the first Christmas in four years (since my father died) that I exchanged any gifts and while I enjoyed picking out some surprises for the surfer, the financial and emotional stress of the gift exchange process overwhelms me and fills me with dread. We did finally put some Christmas lights up the day after Christmas. I managed to get through the weekend and now just want to get past New Year's. I'd say "maybe 2016 will hold better things" but usually each year is worse than the last and hoping otherwise is likely to jinx me. But just maybe this coming year will be full of health, wealth, and love. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


I've seen a saying about how salt cures everything, whether from tears, the sea, or salt-rimmed Margaritas. We all need salt to survive, to make our neurons fire. I think the salt that cures the most for me goes in my body on my french fries and comes out as sweat while I run. If I sweat enough I figure there won't be anything left for tears.

Cut my hair again trying to give those curls some bounce.
I apologize for the lengthy lapse in posts. The juggle of school, work, and my heart has left me sleep-deprived and frantic most days. Gratefully, I finally got back out for a run after being sidelined for several weeks since the unpleasant incident between my knee and the sidewalk. Four little miles this past Saturday and I was sore for 36 hours. I hate having to start back over, but I know I can get back in my running groove if only I drag myself out of bed and head out there. The payoff in mental health and getting trim will be worth the pain; I just have to keep reminding myself that when my warm bed doesn't want me to go.

School. It's one of the very few things I happen to be good at. I agonize over every quiz and test, belly-ache that I haven't studied enough and will tank my grade, and more often than not still manage to get an A. Thus, the sympathy seems to run thin for my plight when I have procrastinated my studying and homework to the bitter end. I'm something of a test-taking machine, though I did do poorly on my second test in Anatomy & Physiology--a 79%. Ugh; I do not believe in getting Cs, in being "average." But it was a lesson learned that I needed to read more than one of the three chapters we were being tested on. I got one more lackluster B in A&P but have otherwise pulled off As for six of eight tests thus far. Why must I have an A in the class? No scholarships or graduation requirements turn on it. I just need passing grades in my 29 credits for the Massage Therapy certificate program and I can sit for the licensing exams. But over the years I have kept up a streak of straight-As in community college courses so now it's become a "thing" that I can't let go. So if I tank the last exam in A&P and get a--gasp!--B in the course, the sky will probably not fall and angels will probably not lose their wings, but somehow I will be a failure in my heart of hearts. When I am critical of others I really do feel awful; I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. I try so hard to stop expecting perfection everywhere. Yet I keep expecting it, never finding it, never achieving it. I guess I need to cut myself a little slack, too, because I seem to klutzily fall off my own pedestal about a thousand times a day.

A big chunk of our exams is identifying parts on models.
Anatomy and Physiology is challenging. Academically, Swedish Massage is far easier. But the challenge in massage is learning the techniques and the mental grounding, more than in learning muscles and their actions. Ironically, the part of the massage classes that most people like best--giving and getting a massage each class in lab--is the part I dread. It has become rote at this point in the term but the bigger stressor for me and many girls in the class is the one creeper guy none of us wants to work with. My fingers are crossed that he finally dropped the class yesterday--the deadline to do so without a bad grade wrecking his GPA. I think after 12 weeks of class he could probably only identify one muscle: the gluteus maximus on which he seems quite focused. I had to work on him once, but at this point I will flat-out refuse to work with him again. He's failing the class, can't perform a professional health screen (asking girls if they've had any "recent pregnancies" rather than if they are currently pregnant and even asking one girl if she'd had any recent plastic surgeries). But beyond his simply dangerously not knowing what the hell he is doing and being incapable of acting professionally, he is one of those guys that just gives you the creeper vibe. No girl is going to talk to this guy at a bar much less pay him to massage her. The whole idea is preposterous but the school has no balls to give him the boot. I can't imagine he passes and makes it into Deep Tissue, but if he does, I will likely leave the program and transfer my credits elsewhere. This girl has a strong self-preservation instinct and is tired of letting schmuck creeps get a pass when they need to be called out and shamed. So, that's school. Not my favorite place to be these days, unfortunately.

Yep, this happened. I did the makeup. Note the little skull barrettes, so adorable.
I've been cooking and baking often now that I have someone to cook for. The surfer loves my cooking, or at least tells me so. He's not what I expected but probably exactly what I needed. He makes me laugh and smile, serenades me, and holds me tight. And perhaps what I need most of all, he lets me take care of him and he takes care of me. This past nine-and-a-half-weeks has had its challenges, but I think we came out the other side stronger than we started. I could dish all sorts of sweet nothings and challenges, but as I said before, I don't ever want him to feel he'll be dissected here, so I'll keep it sparse for the time being. But I'll leave you with this: Good cooks know that salt is a critical ingredient to bring out the flavor in a dish. It doesn't change the flavor, but it opens up your taste buds and lets the meal blossom. This guy, he's like just the right sprinkling of salt that brings out the best in me and makes life taste just that much more satisfying.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Sometimes the stars just align. Even for klutzy, crazy girls like me. After plenty of roller-coaster riding and hanging in there, the universe has cut me some slack or rewarded my resilience and sent some blessings my way. Normally, I might be worried that bad tidings are on the horizon with so much good feeling around me right now. But I'm too busy feeling energized, hopeful, and grounded to let worry harsh my mellow.

A friend convinced me to take a little cruise across the Bay to Kent Narrows to meet up with some friends for drinks and live music. It would be a 20 minute drive from Annapolis, but a five-hour sail. I hesitated to spend the bulk of the weekend in transit when I had studying to do, but with Labor Day weekend likely being the last opportunity to make such a trip with my friend before winter sets in, I decided to just go for it. 

We made good time, raised all the sails, and burned off stale diesel. It was my first time "cruising" Ambrosia away from her home dock overnight. A baby step, perhaps, but a start, a great shakedown sail, and the cats made it there and back with all their bodily fluids kept in check. 

Kent Narrows may not be an exotic location, and at about the same distance perhaps "We sailed to St. Michael's" sounds more sailor-y. But not long after docking we were at The Jetty and those rum runners went down so smoothly. The early band at The Jetty was fun, but we found out the later band would be hip-hop so rather than have to guard my tush from jerks grinding their junk on me without invitation, we decided to find another spot for the night's eats and drinks.

A group of us enjoyed the marina pool, jammed out a bit aboard over drinks, and then looked at our watches and realized it was getting late. Not having eaten, we now had to find a fun spot with a kitchen still open. I figured Ram's Head Shore House would have live music and a hopping scene, and the kitchen would at least be open until 11pm. We piled in a car and headed out, but when we arrived there were literally two people there other than the bartenders. Then they said the kitchen was only serving appetizers. I felt terrible having convinced the gang this was the spot where we wanted to be. But there was a pool table and my friend is a pool shark, so the games ensued. 

I needed another beer and headed over to the bar to order something. More people had arrived, but still there were only two or three people sitting at the bar at that point. I could choose any spot along the bar to find the bartender, but I "might" have picked a spot near a cute, floppy-haired surfer guy, just because. He quickly struck up a conversation that lasted until my friends came over and said they were heading back to the boat if I wanted a ride. My friend had been the consummate wingman and let me enjoy my chat uninterrupted. I said my goodbyes and gave the guy my card. Some twelve hours later he texted me that he wanted to continue our chat and the rest is history as they say. I could dish all kinds of wonderful things about him, but I don't ever want him to feel he'll be dissected here. Let's just say he's a great tipper, a Southern Gentleman, and makes me want to sing for him, bake for him, and take care of him.

Trying to keep up and build up my running, I headed out last Saturday for a six-miler. I was killing it for just shy of the first four miles until this happened. Gratefully, a cyclist and some drivers stopped to see if I was okay, and the kindness of strangers got me home alright.

I may be bruised and bloody, but I always bounce back. The scars just remind me that I'm out there, living life, seizing the day, and seeking out adventure. I would take a thousand scars over a day of the zombie-like life I escaped. 

Finally, among the blessings that have come to me of late, my friend sold me his old car. So after over a year without a vehicle, at last I have the freedom to get to work, school, the store, and fun when the whim strikes me. The car and I are tight; she wants to be driven fast and decisively and has plenty room for pup dog and a massage table. 

You never know where great friends will come from. Someone who was once among the "friends I haven't met yet" became a true friend in "real life" over time and only because of that friendship did these blessings find me, Ambrosia's first cruise, the freedom of a vehicle, and meeting a wonderful man in whose arms I've never felt so safe and at home. And so I am starry-eyed and so very grateful for the blessings that have fallen like shooting stars at this mermaid's feet.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


The past month has been marked by waves. Waves upon waves of sadness, though eventually the sets grew farther apart and now there is just an occasional light chop on my heart. But there have also been waves of joy. Water, life, they ebb and flow, bringing bad tidings and good, but ever changing. Knowing that a high tide will come and wash the tears, blood, muck, and hurt back out to sea makes the low tides of my days survivable. 

First things first, I owe you photographs of my beautiful new battery box. The wooden box was custom fabricated and epoxied. It holds my house bank of four 6V "golf cart" batteries and the black box in front is the group 31 dual purpose start battery. The bottom photograph shows the water pump relocated forward near the engine rather than laying loose atop the batteries as in the past.

I finally removed the stand-up portable air conditioner and returned it. It never condensed any water and just operated as a glorified fan. The boat is actually cooler without it! I have the window unit running over the forward hatch and it keeps the v-berth frosty and the rest of the boat comfortable enough. 

I had to finish sanding the brightwork on my own. It was both physically and emotionally tough to spend several days on a project that the Midshipman and I were working on together. I can call him that now, because, sadly, now that's all he'll ever be. The Mid had done all the parts that were easy to reach with the 5" orbital sander, so I was left with all the difficult portions that had to be tackled with a multitool or by hand. Here are snaps of the brightwork, before, during, after, and one of me after the final 8-hour day of sanding. I haven't finished the hatch, but can't currently afford the mural I want painted on it, so I figure it's better to leave what varnish is left as protection until I can tackle that project properly.

The new batteries and wiring didn't solve my engine problems, so the electrician removed the starter and took it up to Best Battery in Baltimore for testing. It failed the test so they did a rebuild. Before and after:

In the midst of all the repairs, the electrician had to disconnect and reconnect the water pump frequently to access the starter. Something must have jiggled loose at some point and the pump ran continuously, dumping half my water tank in the bilge. Below is the icky old automatic bilge pump that wasn't doing its job. Now there is a beautiful new automatic pump running well (donated by Doria, thanks!). It gives me peace of mind when I see the red light come on the electrical panel and the pump gurgle for a few seconds to clear the bilge (while my galley sink drains overboard, the head sink drains to the the bilge is always getting a fresh influx of water when I wash my face or brush my teeth, yuck.)

I received a lovely bottle of port from a reader. Thanks! (Also pictured a bottle of Italian red I haven't opened yet, a gift from a dockmate). 

The electrician installed the rebuilt starter and miracle of miracles, the engine started right up. Of course, I had 45 gallons of old diesel in the tank I was worried wouldn't cooperate, but I gave it a good dose of tank cleaner and haven't had a problem. (Knock on wood.) Friday the new starter went in and Sunday the boat was out of the slip for the first time since the end of February 2014. 

A friend came to help me on the adventure--a trip down to Thomas Point Light, anchoring out a few hours, and then the hardest part--docking! Coming out of the slip we had our first big surprise. I had the wheel hard a-port but the boat was heading hard to starboard. I freaked out, backed her back in the slip, and fretted a bit. My friend hopped off to look at the rudder and indeed, the steering had gotten reversed. Apparently when my old mechanic and I installed the new engine control cables a year ago and the chain slipped down into the binnacle, we lost the twist in the chain that is needed for the correct steering. We didn't let it stop us, though it made for stressful moments when dodging shoals, crab pots, other vessels, and when docking. 

We went almost to the lighthouse and then headed back north looking for a spot to anchor. Everything shallow enough to be feasible was a minefield of crab pots but we managed it. We anchored out for a few hours, had lunch, and enjoyed the sun and breeze. Enjoying some waves of joy getting my beloved Ambrosia away from the dock at last.

We took some decent waves right on the beam--unable to turn into them quickly enough due to crab pots-- which caused the mini-fridge to tip open and spill its contents everywhere. The fan on top of it tumbled to the floor, pulling the power strip and the computer monitor connected to it to the floor as well. Luckily, nothing was broken, but since every surface on the boat is cluttered, I have a lot of work ahead of me to clear all those surfaces and secure appliances and such with shock cord to prevent mishaps in choppy seas or when heeled over. This was, however, the first cruise when no cats puked. I put them together on a towel in a pop-up dog crate so they wouldn't be able to get sick in some remote locker unbeknownst to me, and so they would be safer from falling objects. It was a good plan that worked out well.

On the way back north we opened the jib and got an extra knot and a half. Naturally, the furling line got fouled beneath the drum rather than wrapping onto it, so I had to go forward and unwind it while carefully jumping back whenever there was slack since the sail would take the slack and fill, spinning off the furler with force. Yes, that is my lovely hatch A/C in the photo. It is too much of a hassle to remove it so we just let it be. And, yep, below you can see the ratty weathered bungee cords keeping my main halyard from slapping against the mast. Don't judge me.

Docking was a major challenge and I freaked out quite a bit. I really don't want to hit another boat so I get very trepidatious in close quarters maneuvering; this is a tight docking situation and a slip I'd never docked her in before. The reversed steering situation didn't help. Gratefully, the dock master was waiting on the pier to throw lines and give advice and we eventually made it in unscathed. But I think next time I will try backing all the way down the fairway and into the slip. I really need someone very experienced to come help me spend three hours going in and out of the slip over and over until it's in my muscle memory and my crocodile brain. But all in, a great trip, a huge relief to get out on the water, and some much needed waves of joy and relaxation.

Here's a nugget of truth to remember: bad tippers are bad lovers (and bad bosses, friends, ...). As soon as I saw that the Mid was a bad tipper I knew we would have problems. I should have heeded that right off the bat. People who are stingy and selfish in one area of life, like money, are often also stingy in other areas of life--in bed, with their affection, and with their time. The same goes for people who cut in line, cut people off in traffic, and generally seem to have missed the message about the Golden Rule.

I had been planning to end things with the Mid because he was more into material things than into me (or anything real) and, most importantly, because despite my attempts to gently coach, he would not make the slightest effort to meet my needs in bed. I did so enjoy his body, but I knew how to use it and I know my body well. But it was long past time to take it up a notch and he had no interest in making the effort. I knew he didn't care about me when he didn't even think about picking up my suitcase after my sleep-deprived sailing trip, didn't open doors, didn't carry groceries. Little things, perhaps, but very telling. So whenever I get sad and missing him I remind myself of him saying to me "you good?" and the incredible restraint it took not to slap him.

But despite knowing in my mind that I deserved far better, my heart was still wrecked when he left.  I was overwhelmed for some time with waves of sadness hitting me over and over. He had been the person I shared my day with, the first one I wanted to see in the morning and the last one I wanted to see before I slept, who I wanted the best for, wanted to take care of. Without someone to take care of, what purpose do I have? For a week I barely ate... running in the heat but only getting 600-1000 calories a day. Looking at some of my favorite dishes and feeling my stomach turn at the thought of eating. It took a couple of weeks before I could get through a day without breaking down in tears. But I was heartbroken over the idea of him, not the reality. All the promises and plans, sailing and anchoring out together, cooking au naturel, ample sex, a fearless team, I definitely grieved the loss of that, illusory as it all was. It makes me so sad to know that all the times I was making love to him he was just fucking me. That all the sweet nothings were just plays while it was convenient. He just didn't like me for anything serious. He liked the boat, the cats, he just didn't... and I cut him off before he could finish the sentence that he just didn't like me. It just wasn't what he wanted. I don't even know what it was or what he wanted. We never defined anything and he never shared with me after our first weekend together. What a complete change. That first weekend was with a sweet, sexy, funny, vulnerable, real guy who showed me some of his gooey insides and smiled when he saw me. The other times together were with a military robot, a shell of a man, only interested in cars, guns, and sunglasses.

The tragi-comic part of it is that I broke my "no military guys" rule to be with him. The last relationship I was in ended five years before I met the Mid. That guy is a Marine, like the Mid hopes to become. He was full-on crazy, discharged from USMC on a full psych disability, and psychologically abusive to the point I fled Maryland for Oregon (and yet still got back together with him).  I finally managed to end it when a co-worker said to me "You know how the orca throws the seal around for a while, not quite dead, bloodied, plays with it before the kill?" "Yeah." I replied. And he said, "You're the seal."  That is why I frequently write on the mirror: Be the lioness, not the gazelle. I have to get back to that, channel my inner strength and power. Because no guy should be able to make me feel like a gazelle bleeding out on the savannah.

It would be funny if it weren't so true: hippy mermaid seeks loyal, authoritarian stud to bring order to her world. I keep thinking that military guys will be like my father, have real character and honor. But that generation of military is long gone. It was a terrible setback for me, being with the Mid, but at least I've learned I probably cannot be with someone quite that young. Eventually they will want children I cannot give them; although I would've been a great mom I have a blood disorder that doctors said means I'm a high risk of bleeding out in childbirth. And I would rather have the freedom to travel the world with my partner than be tied down by children. But it would be nice to be an aunt again; perhaps someday. And so it's been another tough year, marked by three very regrettable one-night-stands and two months of long-distance sweet nothings during a twelve-night stand, the first three with an amazing guy with so much potential to become a great man, and the rest another terrible mistake selling my body, heart, and soul far short. Many waves of sadness, but eventually they have to lay down, right?

While I spill my insides all over the Internet here, the funny thing is how very edited this is. I've been told that in "real life" I have no filter.  Believe me, this is very filtered, and primarily to protect the guilty.

I needed to distract myself from the Mid somehow and made an OkCupid account. Within 30 minutes I was overwhelmed by messages and wanted to delete the account. But I decided I should sleep on it. I figured I should at least give it a try despite my horrible experience with eHarmony almost 6 years ago. But after too many messages, some of them snarky because I ignored the guy's messages, and with it seeming like more scammers and fake accounts than real potential matches, I disabled my account after nine days. The two guys I would most have liked to meet in person I never did meet up with though we did exchange numbers and text a bit. C'est la vie. The whole online thing is just too overwhelming and the reality is it is just too difficult to determine if there is any chemistry from online messages and a smattering of profile photos. It's much better to be out and about living life, going to the store, going to bars, going out for live music, and if a guy makes my head turn, then see if the chemistry is mutual. 

I've been running a fair amount, though not back up to my desired 30 miles per week. But I am trimming down, building muscle, and getting faster. Running is my meditation, my church. I listen to Matisyahu, take in nature, feel the connection of my body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by grief and have a panic attack and hyperventilate. But it happens less and less now. So many days I just want to stay in bed, don't want to head out on that run. But I always feel better that I did it, even if it was slower or shorter than my goal. I need to focus on taking better care of myself physically, emotionally, and financially. In a sense, my body is all I have and I have to make taking care of it, making it the best it can be, my priority. 

I started school this past Monday. It seems crazy to be going back to school yet again, but at least this path (massage therapy) feels like it has potential both as something I can do while traveling and that is actually in demand (which is not the case with law). And after many years of lawyering and hating it, it will be nice to do something that reduces the level of stress in the world rather than increases it. Law is just a soul-sucking endeavor and I feel like I need to do something with a far better karmic balance. And it turns out that colleges are full of cute, young that's not so bad, either. I am juggling only being able to get in 30 hours a week of legal work in DC, so that's a $1,000 a month less income when I need it most. So, I need to make a better push to find something local and lucrative that will accommodate the school schedule for this next year.

But more seriously, I am nervous about whether I will be any good at massage, because if I'm not great at it I won't succeed. But I am also nervous about getting through Anatomy and Physiology, which will be the toughest course in the program and I am taking right now along with Swedish Massage. I've been a professional student, had an amazing memory, was a test-taking machine. That's how I got through law school, an MBA, three bar exams, and into a couple Ph.D programs I abandoned along the way. But since all that I've had two serious concussions. My memory has never been the same. The effects of a traumatic brain injury are so cruel and unpredictable. There are times I look at close friends and for the life of me, I have no idea what their names are. So, more waves. Waves of sadness at the loss of a skill I was very good at, at the loss of memory, at the effects I may never shake, but waves of joy at the potential for a new life, at some new chance to find a purpose, meaning, bliss.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

scrapes and bruises

Although I came home black and blue from bumping into mast steps, low overhead spaces, handholds, and the list goes on, I made it home safe and sound from the Block Island to Annapolis trip. A friend of mine was the delivery captain and invited me along as volunteer crew. (A huge thank you Fred and to Eric as well!) We only had sails up and engines off for two hours of the trip, with most of the journey motor-sailing and the final push through Delaware Bay, the C & D Canal, and down the Chesapeake being straight motoring. The boat had AIS, so that made watches a little easier being able to find out about ships around us and where they were headed so we could adjust course if necessary. 

Lumpy seas off Montauk left us all queasy, amplified for me by the diesel fumes. But I spent several hours on lookout during the day and then took some motion sickness meds, which made my 10pm to midnight watch survivable, though it was a strain to stay awake. The morning watch back on at 4am was nice getting to watch the sun rise over the sea. 

The offshore portion of the trip was certainly simpler, with less traffic or depth to worry about, though we did get caught in a severe thunderstorm that pelted the guys at the helm in the face with hail as I hunkered down beneath the dodger. The anemometer registered 48 knots before snapping and hanging limp off the mast. Our other hiccups along the way included the engine overheating and needing to add fuel from jerrycans while underway. The fueling project took all three of us and we still could have used another set of hands to manage it, but it's a good thing we did it or we would have been a couple gallons short of making Cape May--right in the middle of the thunderstorm.

We docked in Cape May for a night and waited for the fuel dock to open in the morning so we could fuel up and head out for the final leg of the trip. I didn't sleep much or well and opted for an early morning shower and then breakfast at the luncheonette at The Lobster House while the guys were sleeping. The other patrons at the counter surely thought I was crazy when I exclaimed that it made my day that my rye toast had arrived buttered. That is absolutely as it should be, but unfortunately few restaurants still do it. Here's a snap of my huge omelette and home fries. I definitely recommend grabbing breakfast there if you find yourself in Cape May.

The most stressful part of the trip, but the most useful for me, was transiting the upper Chesapeake at night. Trying to line up the range lights, decipher the multiple marks, each flashing in a different sequence, stay as far to the right of the channel as possible to give ships a wide berth, but not come too close to marks, was all a definite challenge. We were on autohelm the entire trip and "steering" not with the wheel but with adjustments to the autohelm bearing. The autohelm was not linked to the chartplotter, so my friend was teaching me to look around, then make sure what I was seeing made sense in connection with what the charts were telling me, then make any necessary course adjustments on the autohelm. I'm terrible at spatial stuff and regularly mix up my right and left, so it was mentally tiring but such a great lesson and I will feel much more confident navigating at night (and by day) from going through that exercise. 

Here are my photos from the trip:

We arrived in Annapolis at 3:30am; it took twelve hours from leaving the fuel dock in Cape May to leaving the C & D Canal, and then another seven hours down the Chesapeake to Annapolis. Once we were tied up, hooked up to shorepower, and the trash had been taken ashore, I managed to get a quick nap before the guy came to pick me up a little after 5am. 

I wasn't going to be able to make it into work so after getting a few hours of sleep we seized the opportunity to head over to the Eastern Shore on a weekday with less traffic. I wanted the guy to see a shooting range I was pretty certain he'd like. Because that's the kind of girl I am--if I'm dating a gun nut (a term of endearment) I plan a shooting range play date. We made a side trip to grab lunch in St. Michael's, and stopped for slushy drinks at The Jetty before crossing back over the Bay Bridge on the way home, but it was definitely checking out the range (and learning that the owner's grandson is at school with him) that he enjoyed.

While I was gone, pup dog went to sleep-away camp, i.e., a friend's house, and the guy stayed aboard and looked after the cats. He's great with animals, so I know the cats were less stressed having him around even if they missed me and pup dog quite a bit. We stayed in touch via text and he seemed sweet and looking forward to my return. 

Unexpectedly, the guy jumped into some projects aboard, scraping and sanding a good portion of the chipping old Cetol off the brightwork while I was away. I want to believe that taking on such projects was a reflection of caring for me, nesting, investing in a shared space aboard. Unfortunately, I think he just wants to stay busy and tackling projects for and with me doesn't reflect any particular investment in "us," which is a shame and makes me sad. I hope I'm wrong about that because there's nothing more attractive than a guy building a nest for and with his woman, and I deserve that.

But we did make a lot of progress on the teak last weekend, even if I did add to my list of cuts and bruises and smashed some toes into a shroud and then a stanchion. Hopefully I can finish up the rest of the teak with a heat gun and scraper this weekend. There are a lot of places the orbital sander can't reach unless I remove the jib track (uh, nope). What I really need now is a multitool, but that is out of budget. Also on the chore list this weekend will be pressure washing. My dockmate who gifted me his old dink also loaned me his pressure washer, (many, many thanks, Tom!), so need to knock out that task and get the dink pumped up and off the rack. Naturally, the list of boat projects is endless but at least I am making some headway.

I tend to prefer the look of weathered teak and it is clear that varnish is too high-maintenance for me, but whether I let her go gray or apply a sealant, I am glad she'll no longer look like some cheap girl with chipping-off red nail polish. My beloved Ambrosia deserves better than that.

While I was gone on the delivery, the electrician fabricated a custom battery box, coated it with epoxy, and installed it in the engine room. What I saw looked beautiful, professional, and built to last. I haven't climbed all the way down to fully check it out and get photos, but that will be a top priority this weekend and I'll be sure to include some photos in the next post. He is done with the battery and charge controller installation together with new wiring to the engine, smart switch, and main panel. If you need an ABYC certified marine electrician in Annapolis I definitely recommend Bob Blood.

He also relocated the water pump further forward in the engine room, but we still haven't figured out why the galley sink is just a trickle while the head sink has full pressure. I actually brought the garden hose down into the galley to do dishes because the trickle was never going to cut it. I would swap out the faucet in case that is the problem, but discovered that only a mouse could get behind the sink to disconnect that faucet! I have no idea how I'm going to tackle that, though I hear they make special wrenches just for reaching behind tight sinks. But the electrician may have already fixed it--he texted me to try the sink when I get home! [Update: Looks like some kind of restrictor in the line had clogged and turned the flow to a trickle over the last several weeks but he removed it and now it's full throttle from the galley faucet; yay!]

The starter is stubbornly corroded in place so he wasn't able to remove it yet to see if the solenoid is the problem with getting the engine to start. When I arrived home it took a minute for me to realize what the smell was, then it dawned on me--PB Blaster! I had suggested maybe soaking the area where the starter was stuck with some to see if it would loosen it up. I did find a mechanic who may be able to come by next weekend and look at the engine, so fingers crossed. I just want her to purr again and get us out of the slip! 

These adorable ducklings we watched while grilling get to spend more time on the water than I do. But aren't they cute? 

I have been very much looking forward to sailing and anchoring out with the guy, but unsure it will come to fruition. The guy is so passionate about guns and cars, which is fine, but unfortunately if he has even half as much passion for me I don't hear about it. Now that he is back in the dormitory he'll likely become scarce. 

I wanted so much to believe him when he said he knows he's found a gem, that he's glad he's the only one. I sleep so well, feel safe and at peace, curled up beside him with his arm around me. People show their caring and affection in different ways, so I have been patient and tried to see the helping as an expression of affection. Me, I wear my heart on my sleeve and show my caring physically, in my cooking, and by orchestrating little surprises.

I enjoy being with him, whether tackling a project, spending the day in bed, or just walking the dog. Most guys bore or annoy me in short order. This one piques my curiosity. I want to know what makes him tick and who he really is; I want to protect him and lift him up. I have no interest in fixing him or changing him. I am done fixing birds with broken wings. But as much as I could invest in him deeply and passionately, he just doesn't seem that into me two months into whatever it is we're doing. What happened to the guy who chased me down on the bridge to ask me out? Who made my heart go all pitter-patter when he said he'd pick up all the dead things for me? Affection and attraction breed more of the same, but if you don't feed them they wither away. (In reading this article I definitely reflected on how I am re-bidding less often when he turns away or makes an against bid...). I'm not interested in being a fling or in being used (for a crash pad, parking space, or lay). I deserve someone who won't flinch at the danger of falling in love, someone who will consciously, willfully choose me every day, someone who is as crazy about me as I am about him, someone who won't put an expiration date on us.

I need a man who lives for danger, because I'm a girl who eats danger for breakfast. I need a man who is going to love me like his life depends on it because I'm a woman who gives a fuck. For the ballsy women and the men who love them, here's a good little read:

I'm used to being black and blue on the outside. Between being a klutz and a runner, I'm usually a little banged up here and there. But it's only the scrapes and bruises on my tender heart that really hurt.