04 August 2020 | Katama Bay
09 May 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
24 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
14 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
07 April 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
30 March 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
03 February 2020 | Chamela Bay, Mexico
28 December 2019 | Havana, Cuba
21 December 2019 | Havana, Cuba
28 February 2019 | Paradise Village Marina
21 February 2019 | Punta de Mita
31 January 2019 | Paradise Village Marina
27 January 2019 | Banderas Bay, Mexico
25 January 2019 | Banderas Bay, Mexico
18 January 2019 | Banderas Bay, Mexico
03 January 2019 | Martha's Vineyard
24 May 2018 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
The Great Getaway
04 August 2020 | Katama Bay
Photo by Dana Gaines
It has been over four months since "shelter in place" was put into effect and although it is no longer officially an edict, Jay and I still find ourselves adhering to the restrictions; wear a mask, wash your hands, stay away from large gatherings. Simply put; we're bored. Sometimes I feel as if I am in the movie "Groundhog Day" where every day is the same.
Disclaimer: I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I live on a beautiful island. I am healthy. Our families are healthy. I have no real right to complain. Nevertheless, here we are.
Some days, I walk around the house in circles. "I have to do something!" I tell Jay. "What?" He asks. "I don't know, anything. Something different."
We don't do much because there are way too many people on the island. Staying away from crowds is difficult. Even walking on the bicycle path is like the 405. (A major highway in California that is always stop and go traffic.)
When we walk, we look for sparsely populated areas like the farm. We bike. I go to the grocery store every two weeks - at 6:00 am. Whippee! And now that it is so hot and humid, wearing the mask is, frankly, annoying. But wear it we do.
Our great getaway is the boat. Skipjack is our lifeline to a world where we were once free to move about as we please. With no need for a mask, I can breathe in deeply. Nothing better than fresh air off the sea. I can feel the wind on my face. In the words of Christopher Cross...
"Well it's not far down to paradise, at least not for me. If the wind is right, you can sail away and find tranquility. Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see, believe me..."
Stay safe and healthy. We miss you all.
Floating in Air
09 May 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
May 9, 2020
Day 45 of Shelter in Place due to Coronavirus
Today is a spectacularly beautiful day. The air is crystal clear. Large, white, puffy clouds sail across a vibrant blue sky. Dogwoods have bloomed and the cherry blossoms are rushing to keep up while the wind billows through their leaves. I fear their petals will be found on the ground tomorrow, shortening what joy we get from the spring flowers. Especially now. I have always loved witnessing spring turn into summer but sitting on my couch day after day, I am particularly attentive and appreciative of the seasonal change. It brings light. It brings a smile. It brings hope. Much needed hope.
The island is coming alive too. There are more cars in the driveways. There are more people taking walks and riding their bikes. I am at once both delighted and fearful. I want so much to be able to hug a friend or go to a restaurant or simply walk along the docks without the worry of bumping into people. On the other hand, I feel it too soon. And so, I must be patient.
Ours is not a difficult task, really. We are just told to stay put. I’m not on the frontlines. Our family and friends are safe and healthy and relief dollars are finally showing up. And yet...sometimes I feel as if I am floating in air, with nowhere to go.
Jay has decided to paint the ceilings and closets which has forced me to do some much needed spring cleaning. I am more focused than ever at getting my book completed. We continue to take walks and I am back into my yoga routine. These are good things. Other things, not so much. Like my gray roots are demanding equal time to my bleached hair. Its strands are longer than I would like and are looking rather shabby. Jay is working on a man bun. I don’t dare take the scissors in my hands. It would not go well. Trust me.
I still have bad days. The other day, my daughter talked me up. She shared her optimism and encouraged me to not worry. “We will be okay.” She said. I felt much better when I got off the phone and pondered how roles have changed a bit. It used to always be me (the mom) talking her (the daughter) through bad times. Now it is she who comforts me. The cycle of life.
I keep waiting for some profound realization in the form of a life lesson. Maybe it is not going to come to me in some grand explosion but rather in small doses like watching the flower buds slowly open. And so, I sit on my couch and look outside as the island inches back to life, contemplating and dreaming of not so much what is to come, but what is right now.
24 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
Morning Glory Farm Porch
April 23, 2020
Day 30 of Shelter in Place due to Coronavirus
Nothing much has changed, yet everything is different.
It has been a cold and wet spring here in Martha’s Vineyard. The other day, I slept in until almost noon. Fourteen hours in bed! When I got around to getting up, I made it to the couch. And there I stayed. All day. What a waste of a day. On my behalf, it was raining, no, pouring, which lends itself to being lazy.
The following day, the sun came out. It was still terribly cold but it was beautiful with white puffy clouds soaring through the sky. A nor’easter on its way. I was determined to make use of the day.
At 7am, I jumped out of bed and decided I would drive over to one of our nearby farms, Morning Glory. I had gotten an email the previous night that they had replenished some of the items they put out on the porch. I was able to get a dozen fresh eggs, a bag of Yukon Gold potatoes and some mixed salad greens to plant in our yard. It is on the honor system. I put the dollars in a box through a slot.
I no sooner arrived at home when I announced to Jay I was going for a walk. Usually, we walk toward the bay and/or the beach. Instead, I went into Edgartown proper. I think I was looking to connect with…what? I’m not sure. Being in town did give me a sense of hope but also longing. Longing for the excitement spring brings to the island as shops and restaurants open up in preparation for the throngs of summer visitors. The unknown leaves me uneasy.
While I was walking into town I found I am so used to silence, human voices startled me. I looked behind me. How close were they? Were they wearing masks? Was my scarf tight enough around my nose and mouth? Should I cross the street? I couldn’t really smile at them. I mean, even if I did, they couldn’t see it because of my covering. I waved my hand. Said a muffled hello. I wanted them to know, I’m not really afraid of them (because that is what it feels and seems to look like). These new dynamics between people upsets me, but it’s just the way it is now.
Another interesting note about sound; I was baffled to hear machinery. More to the point, I realized how long it had been since I had heard the everyday noises of construction. Usually, there are living souls up and down the street, not just taking advantage of the bike path, but building and repairing. Gone are the landscapers who beautify the lawns. So, what was this noise I was hearing? It turned out to be a tree trimmer, cutting down a tree that was invading someone’s home. Essential? I don’t know, but happy for them to be working. It seemed harmless enough. I stopped and watched for a long time. Would I have done that if things were normal? Or would I have walked right past, not even noticing?
I must say, “sitting by the dock of bay, watching the tide roll away” really did lift my spirits. So much so, after I went back home, I got Jay and we went back. I wanted to lift his spirits too. I wanted him to see we are really here, on this beautiful island and that is something to be grateful for. Cooped up in the house day after day one can get tunnel vision. After all, when the highlight of our day is when the UPS truck doesn’t pass us by seems rather pathetic.
Today is another sunny day in a week forecasted with cold winds and more rain. We are going on a six-feet apart walk with one of our friends. Who knows what we will find? If nothing else, a little companionship can go a long way. I miss our family. I miss our friends.
The Big Pause
14 April 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
April 12, 2020
Day 19 of Shelter in Place due to the Coronavirus
Today is Easter Sunday. I went to mass via my phone while in bed. I have always found the idea of television evangelicals and those who watch them uncomfortable. This was not that. This service was held at our church, St. Elizabeth’s in Edgartown. This was our priest, Fr. Nagle, preaching to an empty room. It was familiar so it felt strangely comforting and isolating at the same time. I wonder if it felt as surreal to Fr. Nagle as it did to me. Mass is meant to bring the congregation together. As I watched him partake in the Holy Sacrament of Communion, I couldn’t help but wonder if communion will ever be the same for me again.
Jay and I continue to take walks as the weather permits. The other day, we took a walk in the woods. We came across two people walking toward us. They raised their masks across their faces. We wrapped our scarves tighter across our mouths and noses. Instinctively, we drew apart, crossing paths as far away as possible. If this is the “new normal” I hate it. Human beings are meant to connect with one another not repel as if repulsed by the other. Intellectually, I understand this is to keep us safe. On a purely emotional level, I can’t help but be saddened by this.
After two weeks of self-isolation to be confident we didn’t bring the virus home with us through our travels, it was time to go to the market. I called Stop n Shop in Edgartown and asked about the senior hours. I was told not to come during those hours as the store is packed with people. The store clerk suggested I come later. She was right.
I anticipated a line of people outside waiting to go in. There was no line. I wore my mask and gloves and sanitized the cart. As I walked inside, I saw lines on the floor; tape used to direct customers to travel through the store in a one-way direction. The store was not overly crowded. There was room to stay six feet apart. Most everyone followed directions but for this one man who hurried up the isle the wrong way and bullied his way to the cans of tuna fish. He had no concern for anyone but himself. I almost said something but didn’t. He wasn’t worth my while.
There was food but there were empty shelves too. I was able to get almost everything on my list. I packed the cart full so I wouldn’t have to go back for at least two weeks if not more.
We hear rumors about the cruisers in Mexico who decided to stay and wait out this crisis on their boats. Many headed to the Sea of Cortez where there are beautiful coves to anchor. Some are finding they aren’t welcome. I suppose it is fear driving the Mexicans. They don’t want strangers bringing the virus to their small villages where there is little, if any, medical care. One can’t blame them. We hear of ports being closed. If allowed in, the cruisers are checked for fever and told to quarantine for two weeks. Others are told to leave. There are check points on the roads and the Navy patrolling the beaches. I think Jay has finally agreed that coming home was the right thing to do.
Some days I don’t want to get out of bed.
Other days, I can’t stay busy enough.
I cook. I clean the dishes. I put the dishes away. I cook. I clean the dishes. I put the dishes away. I cook…
I watch the news. Maybe I should. Maybe I shouldn’t. I don’t know. But I watch the news.
I continue to write but find it difficult to focus.
It is like I am suspended in time.
Governor Cuomo of New York calls it the NY Pause. Every day between eleven and noon, he holds a press conference. He delivers facts. He explains the situation he is facing in New York which is a mirror of what all communities are facing or will be facing. He has a team of professionals that are working all angles to contain the virus, support the medical workers, and find a way back from this nightmare. I have to say it again, he addresses these problems with facts. And compassion. Governor Cuomo is the epitome of a true leader. He gives me hope for our country. In fact, if it not for (most) of our governors, I don’t know where we would be in this mess.
Our prayers continue to go out to all those who are suffering and for all those who are helping us through this nightmare. May we all have the strength to do our part. Even if it is simply by staying home.
On the Sidelines
07 April 2020 | Martha's Vineyard
Sunday, April 4, 2020
We are on day twelve of our fourteen-day self-quarantine from traveling. Today the sun is shining. A nice respite from the dreary, cloudy, rainy and cold days of the past week. The weather hasn’t helped my mood. That and the constant flow of confusing and depressing news. Here on the island, we check with the hospital daily. So far, only eleven cases of Coronavirus accounted for. All are at home. No one is in the hospital. Like everyone else, we pray there is no surge here. Martha’s Vineyard Hospital has only twenty-five beds. I’m not sure how many ventilators but I understand there are few.
I have baked bread, made soups, and pasta sauce. We have learned to eat less and throw away nothing. Honestly, we probably should have been doing this all along. I try to be creative with what food we have but sometimes it just gets boring, not to mention my lack of appetite.
Our friends, Lynda and Jimmy, did the grocery shopping for us when we arrived. Our local farm has meat and eggs we can order online and then go pick up our groceries on the porch. Morning Glory Farm is putting veggies, meat and eggs out on the porch as they come available. It is all on the honor system. We hear the fisherman in Menemsha are selling scallops and lobsters off their boats. Unfortunately, by the time it was reported in the newspaper, all had been sold. I haven’t been to any markets, but it sounds as if there is plenty of food. Especially with spring planting and all the summer vegetables that should start to arrive shortly.
We take a long walk every day it isn’t raining.
We have been reaching out to family and friends via phone and online. Talking on the phone is best. I find hearing my loved one’s voice gives me comfort.
Jay is writing music. I am writing words. Ozark is our latest guilty pleasure on television. When we need a laugh, we go to the old Carol Burnett series.
There are so many reasons for me to be grateful. Our family is safe and healthy. We are safe and healthy. We have a roof over our heads and a warm place to sleep. Food on our table. We even had wine delivered the other day! I have no right to complain. That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a few really bad days when the tears flooded my hands.
We live on the southeast corner of our island. It is very, very quiet here. I like the quiet, just not for extended periods of time. On our walk today, we heard the birds singing. We saw daffodils blooming. The sun was warm and the light was bright. A sign that spring is arriving with new birth and hope for a new beginning. It is amazing what a little sunshine will do.
The Journey Home
30 March 2020 | Edgartown, Massachussetts
March 29, 2020
One week ago today, I was in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico walking across the deck of my boat with a wine glass in my hand reflecting on the past month. The sun had set and all was quiet. Very quiet but for the wind through the rigging. It is a sound we are used to hearing, but this night it was particularly haunting.
I don’t remember when, exactly, I became affected with the Coronavirus culture that we are all experiencing. I am not ill. I do not have the Coronavirus. And yet, it has permeated my entire being. My thoughts have been consumed with little else. How bad is it? Should we stay or should we go? Can we even get a flight? Have the ferries shut down? Can we get home? How will we get food? Are our children and grandchildren okay? Have they lost their jobs? How will they eat? Maybe we should stay on our boat. But what if we get ill in Mexico? Do they have the facilities to care for a pandemic? Does anyone? We live on an island with a hospital that has only twenty-five beds. Is going home the smartest move?
We watched as people slowly disappeared. The guests, in the hotel alongside the marina, were checking out. No one was checking in. The hotel employees were standing around with nothing to do but wonder what the future held for them. The few people walking the docks were the workers, disinfecting the hand rails and trying to keep their distance. The security guard carried a thermometer, checking temperatures.
Meanwhile, there were all kinds of conflicting reports in the cruising world. Suddenly, after years of preparation, those who were about to set sail for the South Pacific were told they could no longer go, the borders were closed.
Suddenly, Mexico wasn’t distributing any Zarpas (permission forms to take a boat out of the country). Rumor had it that if you sailed up to Ensenada maybe you could get permission to leave the country. That is, if you could find a slip. The marinas were filling up fast. Information was changing hourly. Some people were flying home. Others couldn’t get a flight and drove to the border. Some decided to stay on their boats. Ride it out in Mexico.
For several days we went back and forth with my son who was in Los Angeles as to the pros and cons of staying or leaving. For the most part, he was urging us to come home but while we decided he got on the phone and called all around Puerto Vallarta trying to find us N95 masks. He found them in the Romantica Zone in a paint shop in Puerto Vallarta. I took a cab and was able to get one box for us and one box for our friends, Casey and Diane, who were making plans to fly home too. I found gloves. I couldn’t find hand sanitizer so I made my own. And we were washing our hands constantly.
We finally decided to try and get home. I wanted to go home. If this was to be a prolonged event, I wanted to be home. Besides, we were in a country where we don’t speak the language fluently. We don’t have medical coverage in Mexico. Jay was not entirely convinced going home was the right thing to do, but honored my feelings and agreed. If we could get a flight out, we would go. If, for some reason, it all fell apart, we would stay and make the best of it.
Before this all started, we had a flight booked for April 9. We cancelled that and moved it up to March 24. Three days before we were scheduled to leave, on March 21, American Airlines cancelled our flight. We rescheduled. But it wasn’t as simple as getting online or even making a phone call. For some reason, our phones would not call 800 numbers no matter what combination we tried. We had to get in touch with a person as we already had booked four flights and didn’t want to add yet another two flights on our credit cards. We were dishing out a lot of money to go nowhere.
We eventually charged our “burner” Mexican phone. We had a 100-peso card so we could get minutes on the phone. We dialed the 800 number. We got through. We rescheduled our flight. Two hours later, they canceled that flight.
After three or four cancellations, (I lost count) and two days of stress, (also known as knots in my stomach) we finally got a flight. We had seen pictures of the PV airport full to capacity with passengers from cruise ships who were told to get off the cruise ship and go to the airport and fly out. The lines were long and everyone was packed in tight. Not the six feet we were told to adhere to. Would we find those same lines when we went to the airport on Monday? We could only be as prepared as possible and then left it in God’s hands. I mean, what else could we do?
Monday morning, we left for the airport. Fully dressed (By that I mean long pants and long sleeves.), with masks, gloves, glasses, etc., and carting three suitcases, two backpacks a camera case and a purse, we were sweating up a storm. We entered the airport to find long lines but somehow, we got through without any wait. The porter that helped us saw that I had printed out our boarding passes so he took us straight up to the Priority desk. One, two, three and we were checked in. We were over the first hurdle now for a three-hour wait for our flight. Our flight was on time and only one-third full. All good there.
Our next concern was the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport. We had also seen photos of long lines there. Yet, when we arrived there was only a “two-minute wait” in customs! Yes! The angels were with us.
Our connecting flight had many more people than our first flight but we had no one sitting in the aisle seat and the people across from us were in the window/middle seats too.
Three o’clock in the morning, we arrived at our hotel in Boston. (It is virtually impossible to get from PV to Martha's Vineyard in one day.) We wiped everything down and fell into our beds, sleeping until 10 am the next day. We checked out in an empty lobby but for one person behind the counter. Outside, the streets were quiet. A few joggers ran past us. From a distance, I could see some cars on the highway.
Our driver arrived at 12:30 and promptly reported he had wiped down the car. He drove us to the ferry. Those who drove on board the ferry were asked to stay in their cars. There were three other passengers besides Jay and me on deck. Jay then had the foresight to call a cab (they were no longer waiting at the ferries) who picked us up and took us home. A woman without a ride went up to our cab. “No mam. I only take one party at a time.” He called for another cab. We thanked him for keeping us separate and therefore safe. Hopefully she found her way home.
Having traveled through all those people, Jay and I decided to self-quarantine for two weeks. Our good friends, Lynda and Jimmy, have been supplying us with food and the much-needed wine. We are well, physically. We take walks. I have been baking bread and cookies and making soups.
Emotionally… well, today, it just all hit me. I think the stress of the last month and the unknown future, being separated from our family and friends… I am sure you all are feeling it too.
I just want to say for the both of us that we love each and every one of you. Stay safe. Stay healthy.
Hugs from afar.