01 May 2014
tonight our fellows are
and a lone Canadian
by passport only
how my sphere has changed
my community expanded
and my interests reshaped
no longer worried about
or flight times
it’s different now
and I am different for it
we talk of the weather
but not in that chit chatty way
no, in the way of necessity
we talk of destinations
and their desirability
to determine whether to anchor
or tie up
or move along
to a more pleasing port of call
we talk of politics
not to debate ideologies
but to ascertain if a waypoint
remains on our route
or is temporarily put aside
for a future season
we talk of governments
and their efficiencies
or lack of
to log visitors
or track Visas
when we talk of celebrities
they are sailors
and the odd, notorious Harbor Master
we talk of food
sometimes a restaurant
only found by foot
fish only, no menu
but mostly of provisions
where the markets are
whose stall has the best almonds
the old woman with the cheating scales
which islands have Lidls
and those with Carrefours
what a lovely party tonight
the smell of fresh rain
us huddled under the patio
smelling the grill
bits of this and bites of that
as varied as the company
and equally as delicious
Chick Chores vs Man Chores
01 May 2014
Disclaimer: Yes Ladies, we can still be feminists while recognizing that the following is the norm in most of our households. You can argue that your man does laundry or cooks, but let's face it...when the tire needs changing I'm not about to roll up my sleeves first. Are you? And when the dog has just vomited, is your man a Johnny-on-the-spot with the cleaning bucket? I thought not.
First, let's define Man Chores. Man Chores include fixing, creating or major cleaning of things, all of which are fulfilling. Oh I know, they can be back-breaking and frustrating - even dangerous or disgusting (although those typically turn quickly into Chick Chores) . Whatever. At the end of the project (and they're all called projects aren't they?) you, Mr. Man, get the satisfaction of a job that significantly changed something. Something you can sit back with a cold beer and admire. Something you can show your buddies or brag about at the water cooler. Something that you can ask for aspirin or a neck rub or...
Chick Chores however are never-ending and without the least bit of fulfillment. (I'd expect even more so are Mom Chores). Most are cyclical in nature, with no end in site. Dishes. As soon as one dish is clean another is dirty, many times at exponential rates. Dust. Sometimes I wonder if I'm dusting with a glue-like product. I can wipe down a shelf and it seems as if the dust mockingly sits in the air until I turn my back and then it slyly falls right back onto the shelf. Cheeky buggers. Toilets. Is there a gal alive who gets any satisfaction from cleaning a toilet? Although I guess I do get some pleasure from its complete sanitization, but it is fleeting. Because within a nanosecond my man is making Rorschach-inspired skid marks. It's like his olfactory and intestinal organs are keenly linked to the smell of Lysol. Now let's talk laundry, because I am nearly convinced that there are gnomes that like to come aboard and wear our clothes in the middle of the night. There is no possible way that Steve and I are making this much laundry by ourselves. Impossible. And the penultimate, never-ending Chick Chore - marketing. I am often stumped, baffled, stymied, and at a complete loss as to how we take on far more weight of groceries than is "leaving us". (Yes, I am no fool. I know some of these groceries have manifested themselves on our waistlines, however, I can't account for this much of a discrepancy!). I bring home a shopping cart full of groceries nearly every day and I know between trash and...well, there is not an equal amount coming off the boat.
As if Chick Chores are not mundane enough, I then get "advice" on how to perform such tasks - possibly what order to clean in or perhaps what solution would work best to scrub the toilet. Even letting me know that hot water cuts grease better. Really?! Well, thank you. I was scratching my head on that one.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about the arrangement. As I've said, I certainly would rather be cleaning the toilet rather than repairing it. However, wouldn't it be great to walk down the dock and proudly talk my girlfriends through how I rather smartly hung my laundry to dry. And wouldn't it be nice to be cooking or cleaning and be able to shout out requests for utensils or scrub brushes? Honey, can you hand be the large santoku knife? That'll be the day.
Renewing Our Vows
01 May 2014 | Marina di Ragusa
Sicily and I are in an old, stale relationship. I know we used to be fond of each other once upon a time, but nowadays we just look at each with exasperation. Would it hurt her to clean up a bit? Paint a few walls, pick up after the dog, pull a few weeds. Oh, she’s so stuck in her ways. Why doesn’t she yearn for innovation like I do? I’m not talking anything revolutionary here. But would it be so bad to import Ziploc bags or cooking spray? And really, do we still need three-hour siestas in this day and age? It’s not like workers look very taxed. Mostly they seem as though they woke up from a hard night and they can barely get through the day. Hence the unending breaks to toss back espressos.
And, don’t get me started on her driving. She’s in no hurry to do anything until she’s behind the wheel. Then, look out. She’ll just as soon run you over than put down her cigarette and cell phone (oh, I’m sorry...mobile). And let’s talk about the rules of the road for a moment. Yes dear, there are rules. Those lines aren’t there for decoration. Neither are the one-way signs or curbs. Curbs are what you parallel against to park. It’s not a willy-nilly, wherever-my-car-lands guideline. Ugh.
She says she’s not so thrilled with me either lately. Says I look like a slob, which she says is especially embarrassing on Sundays when everyone is out strolling. I argue, “what’s the point of strolling anyway? You’re not going anywhere special or doing anything productive.” She says that’s right. It’s time to catch up with family and friends, without an itinerary or agenda. Maybe I should try it sometime, she says sarcastically.
“And another thing”, she goes on to ask me why I expect perfect service when I don’t even try to speak the language. That my pantomiming and sheepish smile don’t make up for the fact that I have lived here for months and can’t even remember when to Buongiorno and when to Buona Sera.
She claims that I don’t understand how to dine either, that I simply “eat out”. That dining is meant to be a long, leisurely process. Well it’d have to be with all of those courses. I mean, how do they eat all of that - antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, insalata (who wants a salad AFTER they’ve eaten?), dolce, caffe and finally digestivo. Of course it takes three bloody hours!
I complain to her that I have to go to at least six places to get the grocery shopping done. There’s the butcher, produce market, bakery, fishmonger, cheese shop, local bodega, and finally the parapharmacy (because why should the local bodega carry shampoo and feminine products, when it’s so much more efficient to put these items in a separate store?). Why is this necessary? She says I just want a huge warehouse where the fruits have been cold-stored for months, the meat coming from who-knows-where hermetically sealed in plastic, and a package of toilet paper that lasts for a year.
All right, all right. Enough of this pettiness. We need to get back to why we came together in the first place. I wanted a different life with adventure and to experience new cultures. She took me in with open arms, wanting to expand her interests as well. I vow to be less judgmental - to remind myself why I fell for her in the first place. She is beautiful and welcoming. Her beaches and waters are alluring. She has a fascinating history and ancient ruins to explore. Charming towns abound with majestic cathedrals and centuries-old walkways. She has it all - imposing mountains, green valleys, even an active volcano. Oh, and don’t get me started on the gelato.
Oh, my sweet Sicily...ti amo amore mio.
03 April 2014
It's difficult to grasp when someone you know has passed. You can distinctly recall them talking, laughing, smiling, and now they are simply no longer here. No longer will he enjoy the laughter of his precocious daughter or relish the taste of a cold glass of champagne with a warm baguette. He will no longer feel the embrace of his adoring wife or pat the back of his strong sons. And he will never again feel the wind on his face and the smell of the salt that comes with a perfect sail. Roland, we will miss you. We cherish the time we spent with you. You have become part of the lexicon that Steve and I share and we smile each time we speak your endearing phrases. Steve and I no longer take a walk but rather we "step now". We remember so fondly when you would come looking for "Schteve" while sharing a dock in Les Sables D'Olonne. When you would need time to think of how to say something in English you'd beg, "moment". We too now ask each other occasionally for a "moment" using your charming accent. And we giggle at the memory of you loudly announcing to me at dinner, knowing we had hot water issues, that I may "douche" on Josefine anytime. Of course there is no forgetting your incredulity when you realized that we used our refrigerator space for an ice maker. Steve asked you, "you don't drink cocktails with ice?" And you stood up straight and firmly replied that "No. I am German. We drink beer!" Oh, these are but a few of the lovely memories that we will cherish always. Thank you dear Roland for having been part of our lives, however briefly. You made an indelible imprint on our hearts. May you rest in peace friend.
Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves (#shoutouttoacertainthirtyyearold)
20 March 2013 | Fullerton, CA, USA
Sidenote: I am trying to look cool by using the new hashtag vernacular however I think it just comes across as #nohopeforoldladyvananda and #lookwhostryingtobeahipster. Perhaps even #whodoesshethinksheis or #askherifsheevenknowswhyweusehashtags. #youtellme.
The Van Anda gypsies are on the road again. Sounds far less pretentious than; the Van Andas, after wintering in Southern California, are now traveling to their yacht in Italy to prepare for a summer in Greece and Turkey. On their travels home they will layover in the UK, for some well-deserved respite from their hectic winter schedule (pronounced shhedjule).
It’s the end of March and we’re off again. Still can’t believe that this is our life. It’s our third year and I’m still not used to it – the saying goodbye again, the extreme packing (as if I’m headed to the depths of the Amazon, rather than Europe), the changeover from house-living to boat-living. It still feels so foreign (hey, maybe that’s why they use that term).
This winter visit was great and I have some wonderful memories to carry me through until next winter; coming home to my sister in Denver (#loveyousis), seeing some of my old friends & colleagues, Bellinis at Jelly (look it up), real haircuts from a professional (and sweetheart), football with Bob & Cleo, playoffs with 49er fans (aka brother, father & sister), Chris & Dan’s wedding!, oyster bar at said wedding, TURKEY DINNER, frittatas & French toast with Gina, giggling with mom and Kathy at the kitchen table, laughs with Uncle Bill, being with The Boys at Wang’s in Palm Springs (pretty much being with them anywhere), slumber party with Stace, sledding with Xavier (I was trekking, he was sledding), YORKSHIRE PUDDING at Christmas Dinner, wine tastin’ and crab eatin’ with The Bryant Clan in SLO, Fish Night in Flagler Beach with Steve-O, Beth, Darren, Tracy, Brady, Gus-Gus & Chelsea (formerly known as Bubba Chelsea Frisker Baby), Wedding Dress Shopping Slumber Party in Miami with The Tres Amigos, CHAMPAGNE (at all hours), reading a book with Carly and her wit (that kid slays me!), smooching on Travis & Xavier (please don’t let them get any bigger), surf & turf with Gina and Molesy, seeing Bill enjoy a martini & oysters at their 50th Wedding Anniversary, and finally, the pups…Chelsea, Abby, Cleo, Toshi, Rigby, Gus-Gus, Louis, Neeney and The Cash Man.
Foods I will dearly miss in the next eight months; peanut butter, chips and salsa (anything Mexican really), cottage cheese, cilantro, sushi, anything at Trader Joe’s, In and Out Burgers, good BBQ, Bob’s Blue Cheese Dressing, Buffalo Wings, and mom’s coconut cake.
Foods I will not miss; lima beans, freakishly large chickens, and liver. Well no, not goose liver. Duh.
Even though I’m looking forward to another great season on At Last, I will miss our friends and family back home. Thank you to all that enrich our lives. We love you and miss you dearly.
The Trek Home [to] At Last
04 April 2012 | Marina di Ragusa, Sicily, Italy
While the planning was arduous, the trip home was fairly easy. Or at least if I had kept my head screwed to my neck it would have been. Business Class on British Air...fab! Even better than the flight, was the baggage allowance. Three bags each up to 70 pounds! Enough to bring back a water maker and 17 pairs of shoes (not listed in order of importance). No hiccups in London during our layover. Although boarding our Rome flight we were asked to step aside into an adjacent hallway where a security guard had one of our "special ops" cases with him that contained the control board of our water maker. He graciously asked us to explain the nature of this device. After some eyebrow raising we were cleared for departure. Phew. We were halfway home.
If you've ever arrived to Fiumicino airport in Rome, you'll know exactly what I mean when I say it's usually chaotic at it's best. However, we were shocked to see that our bags were already making their way around the carousel after we had passed through immigration...another "phew" since technically we weren't allowed to return to the EU for another couple of months based on our Visa.
One black case, two black cases, YES, the water maker made it. Now for our other 3 bags. Yes! They made it too. Off to Hertz to get our "wagon" to fit all of this luggage. Oh good, that unpaid traffic ticket made no difference to us renting a car. Now, load the bags. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...where is our 6th bag?! What?! OK, so I run back through the octopus-maze to find which exit we had come from. No, not that way, this way. But how am I going to re-enter baggage claim through customs? After some gesturing and some sweat that may have been mistaken as a tear, I showed my passport and ticket then entered a mini-security entrance. (Interesting security hole, but that's for another topic). I ran to our baggage carousel. Of course the never-efficient-except-for-today baggage handlers had swept away the unclaimed baggage. Luckily, these baggage handlers liked big American breasts (frankly I don't think they were distinguishing of breast's nationality), and escorted my breasts to a back room where my little orange case, full of shoes, sat patiently awaiting our reunion.
Back to the wagon, another catastrophe avoided. Off to the hotel. Oops, forgot to get directions. Well, the Hertz guy said all of the airport hotels are in this area, indicated on the non-descript map they gave us. Shouldn't be that hard...aren't most airport hotels just near the airport? After 2 hours and three more sets of "directions" from overly helpful (or in this case, not-so-helpful, Italians), we finally made it to our fancy Marriott Courtyard where the restaurant was closed and the only room left was the "accessibility" room, with a toilet that I had to nearly tiptoe onto. Whatever! The bed was clean and we were happy to hit the sack.
I did remember to bring directions to the ferry in Naples. I did not, however, expect there to be absolutely no signs that remotely matched those that Google provided. Again, how hard can it be? Drive to Naples and head towards a big ship. Yeah, ok! A few wrong turns but we make it way ahead of departure time. Good, we can head into town to pick up a sim card for my phone. Then we'll have directions and translation at our fingertips.
Has anyone reading this been to Naples? It's a PIT. But not only is it a pit, but it apparently rivals Venice as the worst pick-pocketing capitol. No, we didn't get robbed. We walked the four blocks to the mobile store, and a nice gentleman, after admiring Steve's watch, promptly told him to put it in his pocket if he wanted to keep it. So, no strolling in Naples for us. Went straight back to the ferry and waited to get on.
The ferry was interesting. Couldn't figure out whether they use it for longer passages in the "season" or whether the economy has just taken it's toll. There was an emptied pool, unopened restaurant, kid's area and entertainment lounge with no entertainment. A bit eerie really. But, the cabin seemed clean and there was a bed with my name on it. After a quick bite in the cafeteria served by the guys who had led the cars onto the ferry, we took our boxes of wine and headed to the cabin for some sleep. Morning came without any interruptions. A quick spritz in the mini-shower (not luxury but I was happy) and then we were docking in Catania on the east side of Sicily. Nearly home!
This should be a breeze now that we have directions on my iPhone. Oops...except for the fact that my phone has cleverly retyped Ilea instead of Ikea, unbeknownst to me. So off we head to Ilea. Through the city traffic and then halfway down the sea road before I realize that we're going the wrong way. Back through the city traffic and finally to Ikea, where Steve is now in no mood to shop. Boo!
Well, for once I didn't load the cart up. Maybe it's a sign that we're really settling into our new home. Or, maybe I listened to the voice of reason (aka Steve) that said, "there's no way you're gonna get that in the car". At least I thought of a way to squeeze a pressure cooker into our rental car!
It couldn't have been a prettier day for the last leg of our trip. Two hours of countryside driving that ends with a 50 km road sloping straight down to the ocean where At Last was waiting patiently among her other marina friends. It was a coming home as good as any I had ever felt. Coming down the pontoon, friends would greet us and welcome us back with a quick chat of our time in the states. At the end of the pontoon we were finally here, at At Last. When we opened her door, it was as if there was a gentle sigh of relief, either from her or from me, I don't know which. "Welcome Home!", she whispered.