A Letter to a Dear Friend
13 February 2011 | Written in Marmaris, so long ago
Yat Marine, Marmaris Turkey
Dear Kenmore stackable washer-dryer,
I miss you more than I could ever say. After having your support for all these years, I'm having a hard time coping without you. If only we could have brought you along with us! But the truth is, you just wouldn't fit in here. It's not just the cultural differences. Our living conditions onboard Aisling are very cramped, and I think you'd have a hard time dealing with the power and water rationing. I want you to know that we would love to have you over here some time, but unless we get a bigger boat, it's just not doable.
Kenmore, I realize that at times I've taken you for granted. There have even been times that I've actually resented spending so much time with you. You've heard my grumblings but you've never let me down. Now, I finally understand why the children come back to spend time with you so regularly. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
I think of you fondly in almost every port. Even at our first stop, in Horta, I was beginning to realize that my life had changed forever. The long slog to the laundry room, the line-ups, the dread that a pair of panties might fall on the floor.... Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Is washing sheets in a bucket just part of experiencing the cruising life? Say it isn't so.
You'd be really surprised, Kenmore, at the number of problems a simple load of laundry can present over here. Some places have mysterious rules. In Port Vell it is "Forbidden to Wash Robes in the Washing Machines". (When I saw that sign, I realized that they really didn't speak our language there.) In Marmaris, if you accidentally mix your unmentionables in with your washing you'll get on the wrong side of the laundry ladies and be back to washing the sheets in the bucket. And as for Sicily, let's just say that if I'd had you with me at the dock in Trapani, I could have earned enough money to fill the cruising coffers for a month!
I must confess, though, that this temporary separation has given me the chance to experience some things I would have hated to miss. If you'd been onboard, I would never have gotten that tip about where to buy the wonderful Greek olive oil, would never have met Sabina from Germany, or Helena from the Algarve, would never have explored the back streets of Antibes in search of a laverie. And during the times when we simply couldn't find a way to make it work, I've had the perfect excuse to shop.
I'll be home soon Kenmore, and once again, we'll be spending lots of time together. In the meantime, look after yourself. I can't imagine how I would ever cope without you.
How We Spent Our Summer Vacation!
31 August 2010
Bonnie-On the Way Back to Turkey!
Sorry for the long silence on this blog. The main reason is that, with the exception of one ride on the Englishtown ferry and one Wednesday night race with our friend Hans, there has been a woeful absence of sailing activity in our lives during the past eleven months.
When we climbed down Aisling's ladder last October, we didn't expect to be away for so long. We've missed her, but we picked a great summer to stay at home. For one thing, the weather in Halifax was spectacular. Hot and sunny most of the time, with just enough rain in between to keep everything green. And by being home, we were able to take part in a lot of activities we would otherwise have missed.
My brother James (Jim) was made a Queen's Council (an honorary designation for lawyers, first held by Sir Francis Bacon- "Her Majesty's Council, learned in the law". We are tremendously proud of him- and I suspect that our mother was more excited than James.
Our niece Liz's graduation from Halifax Grammar school (she is now off to study engineering at the University of Tennessee)
The Bluenose half-marathon, for which the weather finally cooperated and I managed to squeak under my goal time of two hours by (ahem) eight seconds.
Mother's Day with the Salsman family and my Mom
Kathy Morrison's retirement party
A celebration of Rick's Dad's birthday
The opening of Rick's new and improved store in Sydney (Cape Breton)
A trip around the Cabot trail (if you haven't done it, you must) and a celebration of my Mom's birthday
There was lots more, but it would take up too much space to tell it all here..
The big news is..we're finally on our way to Turkey! We'll arrive in Marmaris in the evening of September 1st. Aisling is already in the water and with a little luck we'll be throwing off the docklines before the week-end.
We'll keep you posted!
12 May 2010
Although it's not quite Istanbul, Montreal is truly one of the world's great cities. From Halifax, a two-hour plane ride takes you to another world. I've made the trip dozens of times and my feelings on arrival are always the same. The sensation hits me just around the time I reach the luggage carrousel at Dorval. That "Oh-so-gauche, can't speak French-doesn't even own a pair of stiletto heels or a boa" kind of feeling. Fashion Embarrassment. Sartorial Shame. Not a good feeling. In spite of that, I love Montreal, possibly more than any other city on the planet.
I've heard Montreal described as European, but it is so much more. It is a unique mix of cultures, neighborhoods and languages. Timeless elegance with just a touch of grittiness. In winter the bone-jarring cold can make your eyes water and your hair snap. In spring, the melting snow and budding shrubs will make you want to stay forever; make you long to be a student lounging on the lawn at McGill (and for the privilege of living in Montreal, you wouldn't even complain about the sordid student accommodations that lurk behind the fine facades of some of the buildings). Montreal is French wine and fine restaurants that rival anything you will find in New York or Paris. It is Fairmont bagels and smoked meat and steak with cherry coke at Schwartz's. It is the view from Mount Royal. It is once-smoky jazz bars, nowadays with air as pristine as the air in a California library. It is young Orthodox Jews appearing from the back room of a jewelry store to wish you Shabbat Shalom and flirt with your daughter. It is breakfast at Beauty's and a tiny girl with jagged bangs and a missing front tooth picking up "a piece of Montreal" from the sidewalk and keeping it in her jewelry box until suddenly she is 26. It is the city that once had the greatest hockey team in the world, who would regularly delight their fans by tying the score in the last seconds of the game and going on to win in overtime. It is shopping on St. Catherine's street, it is the old-world feeling in the streets of old Montreal; it is (according to Rick) the city with the most beautiful women in the world.
For over 30 years, Rick travelled to Montreal almost every month, to do the buying for his clothing business. It became almost a "home away from home" for him, and he knows the twists and turns of it streets and culture like the back of his hand. During the past few years, since delegating the buying role to Stephanie, he has made the trip less frequently. During this trip, he plans to reconnect with some old vendors and explore some new lines. Since I am simply along for the ride, I hop out of the car at a metro station and take the subway to downtown. Bad luck that my cellphone rings just as I am emerging from the underground onto University St.and I spend the next five hours in our hotel room at L'Appartement on Sherbrooke street, working. By the time I shut down my laptop, I have exactly 29 hours left to enjoy the city. It will not be enough.
I have just enough time for a quick reconnaissance mission to a few of the stores on St. Catherine's St. before meeting Rick and Stephanie for dinner. I return to the hotel with only a tablecloth and placemats, purchased at my favourite Quebec department store, Simon's. Tomorrow, Katherine (who is in Montreal visiting her "petit ami" Jamie) will help me shop for clothing.
Renne at Mavi has recommended Garde Manger in old Montreal for dinner, and although the only available seats are at the bar, we decide to give it a try. The setting is typical old Montreal--distressed beams, dim lighting-- but the place throbs with music and atmosphere. Rick and I share an appetizer of "lobster poutine" and it proves to be a bit too rich and heavy for my taste (but then, I should have known that anything with poutine in the name was bound to be!). Rick's short rib looks like something Fred Flintstone would eat, my sea bass is very good and the people-watching is outstanding.
The following morning, Rick and Stephanie are off to early appointments and I take a long run along Sherbrooke St., up St. Urbaine and into Mount Royal park. I love the feeling of running through the familiar neighbourhoods, but my legs complain about the long uphill climb and the fast downhill return. After a quick shower, I grab a cab to U-n-Me Noodles on the corner of St. Catherine's and St. Marc St., where Katherine and I are meeting her old boyfriend Tim for lunch. This was a favourite haunt back in the days when Katherine was a Queen's student and Tim lived in Montreal. An hour spent with Tim is never dull and the noodles are as good and plentiful as we remembered. After an entertaining hour, Tim hops into a car with his friend Patrick to drive to New York for a design conference and Katherine and I finally make our foray onto St. Catherine's street. We are determined not only to shop, but to insist on speaking French while we shop. This will be a bigger challenge than you might think.
As most of you know, Quebec is renowned for its efforts to protect the French language and culture. Beginning in 1977, the notorious Bill 101 mandated that French- and only French- could be displayed on commercial signs. This presented an interesting dilemma for bastions of English-Canadian privilege like the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (and, as you can imagine, an even bigger dilemma for the restaurants in Chinatown). Although the law did not apply to cultural activities, even tourism signs were generally French-only. International visitors would stand in bemusement in front of monuments that were clearly of important historic significance, with absolutely no idea what they were seeing. Although the law has since been modified to allow other languages on signs (provided that French is predominant) the battle of the languages is alive and well. So with all this effort to promote the French language, can anyone explain why Montrealers immediately switch to English at the first glimmer of an English accent? In my case, it might be because my English accent is obvious before I even complete a sentence. It might be because I get a certain "deer in the headlights" look when confronted with the rapid-fire nasal tones of Quebec French. My friend Regis claims it is because the Quebecois cannot bear to speak French at the slow pace required for conversation with an Anglophone. But none of these explanations should apply to Katherine who, having gone from Grades primary to 12 in an immersion program, speaks French beautifully. Today we have some small successes, and at least no one says "I speak English Madame" with that down-the-nose sniff one sometimes encounters in France.
By late afternoon, our shopping mission complete, we meet Rick at the hotel and drive through the streets of Westmount to pick up Jamie for dinner. (We pass the amazing Oratory of St. Joseph- how could I not have seen this before?) Jamie has just been transferred to Montreal (lucky lad) and has barely settled into his new apartment near the corner of Cote des Neiges and Queen Mary- an interesting neighbourhood that looks like it would be fun to explore. We head for "Papas Tapas" - a Portuguese tapas martini restaurant (?huh?) on St. Laurent- half price martinis before seven! (Rick and I opt for Sagres beer instead, and reminisce about Portugal.) Great food, and the price for four people is about half what we paid for three people the previous night. We say goodbye to Katherine and Jamie on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, return the rental car to Stephanie (who is staying for a few more days) and head for the airport in a cab. The driver is listening to the hockey game. Against all odds, the Habs are in the running for the Cup!
We've packed a lot into two days, but we forgot to buy bagels. I wonder if Katherine can find room for a few dozen in her suitcase?
NOT in Turkey :-(
15 April 2010
April 15th- launch day! Or so we thought. We were booked to fly from Toronto to Istanbul on April 12th, and had hoped that Aisling would splash into the waters of Marmaris Bay sometime before sundown today.
Instead, we are still in Canada. Rick's company is midway through a couple of large projects (a new store and a new information system) and it isn't feasible for him to give these things the attention they need while sailing in Turkey. So our launch is on hold, although we still hope to get back to the boat in late May or June.
It is disappointing of course, but there is a silver lining. Nova Scotia is having an early spring and for the first time in three years we will see our apple tree and lilac bushes in blossom. It will be nice to be at home for Mothers' Day, my birthday and maybe even Katherine's birthday. And our dog Shakespeare, who will turn 13 on the famous bard's birthday (April 23rd) and really doesn't like boats much, is very pleased with this turn of events.
At the moment, we are in Montreal (Rick is here for business and I am on a critical mission to replace the large part of my summer wardrobe that I left behind in Marmaris). We are only staying for a couple of days, but the change of scenery, pace and language is fun. Maybe I'll write a blog about it- but not today.... I've got a few other things to do!