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s/v Skylark
It's Always An Adventure
Furry yachties and new friends
07/31/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

Happy posthumous Birthday to Jules (my father).

Luna is trying hard to make friends with all the area animals. We have already told you about Holly on s/v Spirit, and now we'd like to introduce Loki on s/v Liahona. The 3 of us went over to Liahona for sundowners yesterday evening and the two furry yachties got to know one another. Luna was well-behaved, allowing Loki to sniff away without leaping up into her play-bow position which cats rarely interpret correctly. That's the routine between Holly and Luna which has gotten them nowhere fast.

Saying Goodbye
07/29/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

This post is dedicated to a close family friend who passed away yesterday after suffering a massive stroke. Bud Strom was a retired Brigadier General with the United States Army, a rancher in Arizona where my parents lived for many years and a well-respected cowboy poet. As my mother said in her email notifying us of his death, Bud lived a fine life. He will be mourned, missed and remembered. Our family is among many who are sad to be saying goodbye.

When I learned Bud was under hospice care, I thought back to when I last saw him. My parents had lived just down the hill from Bud and Joan, becoming fast friends, as did their grown children and grandchildren who lived all over the country. About 5 miles down the highway from their home, close to the Mexican border, the Strom's bought a sprawling ranch at the base of a mountain range. Our family had a couple of horses to add to the Strom's collection, and the two couples worked together in a communal garden, collected daily eggs from the resident chickens and entertained visiting family in a multitude of exciting ways. When my parents sold their home and moved back East, I made a final visit to the ranch to say goodbye to The General. I told him what he'd meant to all of us, saying I figured it might be the last time I saw him, which was hard for me to get my arms around. Bud was kind and open to me, as he was prone to be, but he didn't seem to view saying goodbye as something to be sad about. I told him I knew he'd spent much of his life in the military making connections and then disconnecting. He had been orphaned as a youngster which had to have impacted him as well. In comparison, it wasn't easy for someone like me who at that point in time spent my entire life in just two states, one during my "formative" years and the other as an adult with only a handful of people coming and going in significant ways. I walked away from that encounter with the understanding that Bud was comfortable saying goodbye in a way I was not.

When Ed and I first set sail in July of 2011, we spoke at length to two long-term sailing couples who mentored us in the many aspects of cruising life. One of the issues I talked about with both women was how to get accustomed to making close friends with other cruisers knowing full well it was just a matter of time before we would say, "Fair winds! Safe sailing!" when one or both of us lifted anchor toward new horizons. It's a small world, meaning we stand a good chance of seeing at least some of our friends again. But I wanted to know how anyone got used to this coming and going, attaching and detaching, temporary and fleeting world of friendships? How would we ever become comfortable with it as cruisers? Our mentors could only say, "It is often the hardest part about cruising".

It makes sense to me now, having had to say goodbye to many old and new friends, how Bud viewed this. He understood that we enjoy the relationships we form along the way. They are meaningful, rich, informative and hopefully fun or interesting. And then we leave. Or they leave and we stay. Or we both leave and head in different directions. Our hope is to run into them again, which we occasionally do. But not always. Bud knew how to say goodbye with grace and acceptance. I'll try to follow his lead, though I am woefully bad at this part of life.

As a final thought, I confess to struggling mightily over the ending of this post. If posts had minds of their own, this one would be begging off from having to say goodbye. It might fade off without a proper ending, or pretend it was in the "to be continued" category of things. We all know it has to end. We say goodbye and wait for time to bring us something new. I suppose I am saying goodbye to Bud. I think it is the only way to close.

07/29/2012 | Kathryn Sain
Oh Elizabeth,

I can feel the breath from your lips as you grieve Bud. This post is poignant and captures beautifully Bud, you, your family, what he meant to you and his model for saying good bye....and also lets us know that Bud HAD to learn how to be Ok with good byes early in his life; perhaps in a way many of us never loving arms surround you.. I love the photo of Bud. Thanks for including that one.
07/31/2012 | Betty Hutcheson
Oh, Elizabeth
I remember stories you've told about the General...
How sad to say good-bye to such a meaningful and defining person in your life. And what a fabulous tribute to him via your blog.
I love you, Elizabeth and can hardly wait to see you. Sadie is proving to have a Luna-like temperament. Yes, I think we hit the jackpot!
07/31/2012 | Jan Keny
When someone touches you as deeply as The General did, it makes me wish I had met him too...what a marvelous picture, capturing his zest for life and spirit. And what a lovely and fitting tribute to who he was and a slice of what you learned from him. It is so hard to grieve from afar, without your community of support and love and knowing, and being apart from those who loved Bud too. There is much else to occupy you there, but grief is a companion for now too. Hugs and love from afar but not that far, really.
08/02/2012 | Susan Hunt
E, your post about Bud's saying goodbye was instructive to me on many levels. Letting go is often the hardest thing we do in this life. You've had your share in the recent past.
Bud is a great mentor for me on how to let go with grace. You said it very well. Thanks for your words about your friend, Bud.
08/09/2012 | nj
Dear One, Finally just read your touching and beautiful tribute to Bud and I know it is also a tribute to a long and rich and wonderful chapter in our family's life. Thank you for being such a wonderful writer of words, thoughts, feelings and ideas. i love you. p.s. I still make margaritas just the way Bud taught me to!
Companionway Steps Are For Napping
Elizabeth (photo by s/v Spirit)
07/27/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

Stairs, tables, settees, floors, berths, cockpits....perfect for unmotivated, fluffy, beautiful cats with hearts of gold who just need a good snooze. Her person says she snores. How can a cat with such delicate features snore?

07/28/2012 | Annie the Cat
All is forgiven
Tables Are For Napping
Elizabeth (photo by s/v Spirit)
07/27/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

Annie continues to send photos proving she is not lazy. Or fat. I'm trying really hard to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Lazy? I Think Not (Annie's Response)
Elizabeth (photo by s/v Spirit)
07/27/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

Annie the cat on s/v Spirit has demanded a retraction of my last blog post. She has been in a tizzy since I wrote about her; her feelings are hurt. Given that I love all animals and would never, ever knowingly be callous, even in jest, I promised her person, Bobby I would make her comments public. She sent this photo with the caption "Lazy? I think not!" Seriously, does this look like a lazy cat? Well, Annie says she's NOT lazy, she's just unmotivated. She adds that the gentle rocking of the boat causes drowsiness. OK, I can relate to that. She also insists she isn't fat, she's fluffy. Really, really fluffy. Her friends down the dock say she has a heart of gold. She looks quite lovely upside down.

Luna and Holly
07/25/2012, Chaguaramas Bay, Trinidad

Luna has a new friend, sort of. She and Holly on s/v Spirit are curious about one another, but have yet to form a firm friendship. They stare at each other from a distance Holly deems acceptable which means she stays on her yacht while Luna reluctantly hangs out on the dock. Holly gets up from her lounging position whenever Luna comes around, approaching the life lines on the edge of the boat with a tiny "meow" greeting. If Luna gets in her "Let's play!" pose, Holly backs off with a less tiny hiss. I predict they'll become friends but not before Holly strikes out at Luna for good measure. Holly wanders the docks when all is dark and quiet. We figure she's been to visit Skylark in the wee hours but can't prove it because we're down below with the companionway door closed. She's welcome anytime, but it's slow going between the two "wanna be" friends. Holly has a feline sister on board, Annie. Annie is fat, lazy and uninterested in Luna. I'm sorry, but it's true. She's really fat and really lazy. If she's smart, I wouldn't know. She might be runner up for the Best Cat in the World Pageant but she sleeps all the time so no one would be aware if she's in the running. I can almost guarantee she is isn't stalking the docks after hours.

07/29/2012 | Kathryn Sain
Love this funny , clever post...good to read it and catch up ...back from retreat. beneficial, surprising and wonderful
Group Photo
Elizabeth (photo by Bethany, s/v Cape)
07/23/2012, Trinidad Taste of Trini Tour

The July 20, 2012 Taste of Trini gang.

Fresh Produce Stand
07/23/2012, Trinidad Taste of Trini Tour

Hot pepper sauce hanging above the fresh fruits and vegetables. Avocados, $2 each. Juicy mangos and bananas were plentiful.

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