March 31, 2006

I Feel, Therefore I Am

What are your feelings on luck? Do you believe some people just "fall into" good things or do you believe something else (like fate or destiny) is at work? How have you seen luck (or fate) at work in your own life?

I've never given a great deal of thought to destiny or fate. I can hear myself saying, "You make your own luck." Rather pompous of me, considering the luck I enjoy.

I mean, really. Just look at my life. From start to finish, it is the life of a lucky woman. Seriously. Just take a look. Parents who accept me for who I am and who love and support me without reservation. Friends who not only tolerate my at-times absurd behavior, but who actually seem to appreciate it. A wonderful woman with whom to share my life. An incredible son. And that's just scratching the surface.

I haven't consciously done anything to deserve the riches I enjoy. What else could it be besides luck?

I've known people who, no matter what they do or how they do it or how hard they may try, consistently have things blow up in their face or just plain turn out badly. Is it bad luck? Bad karma? Perhaps. Destiny? Fate? For their sake, I hope not. But I wonder. The same way I often wonder why I am so lucky.

In my life, I feel the least I can do is share the wealth, pay it forward and spread it around by being kind to others. That's my version of making my own luck. Yet I often knock on wood to ward against it slipping away. Making one's own luck is a nice theory, but a little cosmic backup never hurts!


March 30, 2006

Play to Your Strengths

My workload Tuesday was light, a typical end of the month Tuesday. I ran some errands, visited a jobsite to pick up paperwork, and headed home to hang out with the dogs.

Because we've been travelling so much on the weekends, it was nice to just be around the house. It was a warmish sunny day. I did some outdoor cleanup with the chainsaw and would have done more, but I ran out of gas. Literally. Energy I had, but the chainsaw does not run on energy alone. It demands liquid nourishment. Going to the gas station to get more seemed like too much trouble, so I cleaned up what I had accomplished and stashed the saw for another day.

Inside, I turned on the stereo and popped Avril Lavigne into the CD player. (What does it say about me that I really enjoy her song "Sk8er Boi"? I am such a dork.) I bopped around the kitchen doing a little of this, a little of that and a bit of the other. With the quiches in the oven, I spied the pile of dirty, very dirty, clothes on our bedroom floor from when I had unpacked the day before. "Ah ha!" I thought. "I'll surprise Wendy and do that laundry. But first I'll wash our sheets and comforter."

Most of you know I am not in charge of laundry at our house. There is a reason for that. But I did laundry for years before I lucked into my dear Wendy, the Laundry Queen. I know how to do it. Step one is, of course, sorting. I ended up with five loads: sheets, comforter, jeans and sweatshirts, other colored things, and whites.

The sheets were in the dryer when Wendy arrived home. Doggedly, I continued the cycles despite her protests that I should just leave it for her. I was determined to finish what I had started. But by the time I took load three out of the dryer and filled it up with load four, I'd about had it. I left the whites in a pile by the laundry room door, folded the clean jeans and abandoned the clothes currently in the dryer.

And that, my friends, is one reason I'm not in charge of laundry at Casa de Lesbiana Suburbanas. I rarely finish the job.

When Wendy came home last night, she headed to the laundry room. "Suzanne?" I heard her call up the stairs, "What's with the sticky stuff smeared all over the inside of the dryer?" She sounded remarkably calm. I giggled nervously as I headed down to take a look.

Sure enough, sticky splotches liberally dotted the dryer drum. "Looks like you may have left a piece of gum in a pocket," she opined.

Reason two I am not in charge of laundry. I forget to check pockets. We laughed together as I scrubbed out the mess.

After I finished, Wendy gave me a hug and said, "Honey, we really should stick to playing to our strengths, okay? And laundry just isn't one of yours."

That Wendy. She's a smart one.


March 29, 2006

Queen of Vegetables

No, not me. I'm not the Queen of Vegetables. Asparagus is. So say people who know such things.

Inspired by my desire to do something nice for our neighbor, I baked a couple of quiches yesterday. One for us and one for her. As she is a quasi-vegetarian, I chose to use asparagus as the featured ingredient.

The asparagus available at the grocery store was a product of Mexico. I've never seen how they grow which set me briefly thinking about other stalky things, like celery. But celery grows in a clump all connected at the bottom, whereas asparagus are individual spears. What does a field of asparagus look like, I wonder. Evidently the spears grow from the crown of the plant and must be harvested by hand, one reason they can be so expensive.

A fact gleaned from the label on the bundle I brought home informed me asparagus has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a tonic and to stimulate hair growth. The label does not indicate where hair is stimulated to grow, hence it could be a good or bad thing. It supposedly has other medicinal-like properties, from easing a toothache to curing cancer. Who knew?

There was no mention of how or why it makes one's urine smell so... pungent. I'd really like to know the science behind that phenomenon.


March 28, 2006

The Right Stuff

I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. There are many tasks awaiting my attention, but I'm not particularly inspired to tackle much right now. Oh I've skirted the edges, done a bit of planning, but in reality I'm sliding by doing a whole lot of nothing.

Outside of helping my mom, that is. When she calls, I jump. I'm determined to be there for her as she adapts to the changes life has dumped on her.

But am I doing the right things?
I'd like to say yes, yes I am.
But part of me says no, no I'm not.

Wendy and I spent Saturday night and Sunday working around her house, doing things she needed done. Then Wendy went home and I stuck around for another night because she wanted me there for a meeting on Monday. All good so far, right?

But when she excitedly asked if I was going to watch Desperate Housewives with her, I said no. I went to bed instead, because it is what I wanted to do. Yet instead of going to sleep right away, I lay there feeling guilty for not keeping her company while she watched the show.

I know she's spending lots of time alone. Watching TV alone, cooking and eating meals alone, taking out the trash, sleeping, making the bed, doing laundry, sweeping the porch, watering the plants, and on and on with the endless cycle of tasks that make up life on this planet. Yes she has family. Yes she has friends. Yes she socializes. But no one is there to keep her company or lend a hand at home.

Knowing that, I still couldn't find it within myself to put off my personal quiet time long enough to watch a TV show with her. Instead I selfishly left her there alone, watching by herself.

Sure, I'm doing things for and with her, but am I doing the right things? I wonder.


March 27, 2006

Thursday Thirteen, Monday Style

  1. The Boys were back in town for another overnight last Thursday, which of course begs the question "Did they keep their shirts on this time?" Of course they didn't. Our house standards are laxer than a certain Texan we know. And on that note, I am wondering. Other parents of male children, please chime in. Do you care if your offspring sit around the house shirtless? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Two, yes two, people brought doughnuts to the office Thursday. I ate three. After having devoured those three doughnuts, I was informed it was also Pizza Day. Pizza Day is a revered and cherished tradition at my office. I ate three slices of delicious Bugsy's Pizza for lunch. Bugsy himself delivered.

  3. Last week after work, the mild outdoor temperatures found me running around with the dogs outside after work. Pixie loves to race around, turning tight corners around obstacles and flying across the open, uneven expanse of our backyard. I clap my hands and urge her on. She's fleet, graceful and born to run.

  4. While out there, I began a bit of spring cleaning: picking up sticks. Picking up sticks in our yard should be a constant chore, but we're lazy. Who knew trees shed sticks at such a rate? No trees I've ever had before did. Fat sticks, thin sticks, red sticks, blue sticks. No fish sticks.

  5. The weather turned cool again, just in time for us to dispose of those sticks in the fireplace rather than bundling them for curbside pickup. A veritable mountain of sticks we have burned! There is something oddly satisfying about toting an armload of sticks inside and feeding them one by one into the fireplace until it's blazing so fiercely we are forced to back away until it burns down.

  6. American Idol. Buh-bye to the boy with a decent voice but little else. Katharine's dress for Tuesday's performance: yeeoza! She should leave the bra at home every week.

  7. Houston police are using undercover policemen and arresting people for being intoxicated---while in bars! Supposedly this exercise is an attempt to reduce the instances of driving while intoxicated. Pre-emptive strikes? Modern America. It's not a good thing.

  8. My hair has been falling in my eyes all week. I've never experienced that before. It's an interesting sensation. I think I like it. I said to my mom last weekend, "Didn't you notice I'm letting my hair grow?" She looked at me blankly then asked, "Why would you do that?"

  9. Our American Idol pool ended up with twenty-eight players. As soon as I saw the chart, I immediately wanted to sort and analyze it, adding percentages and ratios for who picked who and in what position. What is wrong with me? I forced myself to not waste my time on such a silly task. I settled for scoping out how many predicted the same winner I did and immediately felt a closer kinship with those people. The majority have chosen Chris. I wonder how many actually vote?

  10. You'll never guess where we went this weekend. What's that? You guess we went to my mother's again? Bing bing bing.... not a very challenging question, was it? Maybe I should offer my readers fake points like Gina is dispensing for answering questions. Man, I want me some of those fake points!

  11. While we were away, a rash of vandalism hit our neighborhood in the form of someone shooting out car windows with a beebee gun. Fifteen automobiles were damaged. Yikes!

  12. I think I did a bad thing. I spoke my mind to someone about their behavior. I hope I didn't make the situation worse, but it was solicited in a round-about sort of way. I tried to be kind. The story is too, let's say personal, and yet not personally personal enough to be told here. I'm sitting here at the moment thinking I should have just kept my mouth shut. Oh well. Too late now.

  13. This past weekend was spent cleaning out my mother's garage and tackling the destruction of my stepfather's workshop. I call it "destruction" because that's what it felt like. That room, outside of his sailboat, was the heart of him. So many memories on every surface, in every corner: the plane he used to fix our bathroom door, the decorative pulls on the light cords he crafted on his lathe from scraps of wood, his sockets neatly stored on a handcrafted holder, the scraps of wood on which he had practiced his "signature" for his finished projects, the pegboard walls and shelves housing tools with names and uses I can only imagine. The worst part was picking up after the projects in process or yet to be begun. He left too soon, he did.

March 23, 2006

Youthful Interaction

A young lady, a friend of a friend, recently shared the story of a rather unusual accident which resulted in a broken foot and her first cast. She had followed a friend into the men's room and stood on the toilet in the stall next to him to peek over to see him pee. Why? Oh who knows. I strongly suspect alcohol was involved. When she stepped down from her toilet perch, she slipped or tripped or something and voila! Broken foot. Instant karmic retribution for spying? Totally.

She was quite enamoured with her cast. Evidently she had broken the same foot twice before but repair did not require the plaster masterpiece she now sported. She spoke dreamily of mounting it in a shadowbox after its removal. She said, "I waited a long time for this cast!"

I said, "I'm 43 years old and have never had a cast." (I did not mention I have never had a broken bone either, but as the thought entered my head I discreetly knocked on wood lest my words come back to bite me.)

That's when another young lady, seated just down the table from me, exclaimed, "You're 43 years old?! I thought you were much younger than that!"

Yes yes. I'm certain she said "younger." Although it could have been "older." Sometimes we hear what we want to hear.


March 22, 2006

Who We Used To Be?

"We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization."

Can you name the U.S. President to whom this quote is attributed?

This was, at one time, the voice of our government, spoken by the leader of our nation during a trying time for our country. I wonder if he was speaking of citizens of the world, or exclusively citizens of the United States. I'm not sure it matters. America felt strongly enough about the sentiment to preserve it in stone.

To some Americans, these words have not lost their relevancy.
I'm one of them.


March 19, 2006

No One Can Find the Rewind Button, Girl *

Another weekend gone. Whoosh. I blinked and that's all it took.

Friday night The Boy and his roommate stopped by for an overnight on their way to the Big Apple for their spring break adventure. We had the chance to feed them, catch up on gossip and enjoy a bit of youth in the house. The Boy did his own laundry.

Wendy and I had to duck out fairly early on Saturday for a visit with my mother. We left the boys slouching bare-chested and unshaven on the couch, dogs in laps, remote control in hand, surfing cartoons on cable. I wished we could stay home.

Saturday evening found us with my mother for Saint Patrick's Day dinner at the yacht club. Hal was being honored with lifetime membership. The club has been around since 1932. Hal is only the fifth person given such a tribute. They miss him too.

Sunday morning we were in cleaning, hauling, and sorting mode as we continue to help my mom organize and prioritize a lifetime's possessions while preparing for her future. Will this fun ever end? Of course it will. We're working with a deadline these days.

Now we're back home again, poised on the brink of yet another week.

Round and round we go. Familiar yet changing places, faces and routines illuminated by flashes of the past at every turn. For that, I am grateful.

* Post title borrowed from the song "Breathe" by Anna Nalick.


March 17, 2006

Subsets and Terminology

Crystal A. Fox, M.Ed. commented on a recent post:
You used the word "homosexual" in your post. Is that your chosen word for the LGBTQ community (when referring to them/us as a whole)?

Doesn't it seem too clinical and slightly reverting back to the older days in psychology when "homosexuality" was an "illness" that needed curing (in the 70s)?

My first thought was, "Why that young whippersnapper! Is she implying I'm an old fogey using archaic terminology?"

That was followed quickly by, "Hey, she tossed a 'Q' at the end of the LGBT community grouping! What's up with that? Queen? Queer? Quotidian?"

Then I thought back to the context where I had used the word "homosexual." It rarely occurs to me to speak as a complete community grouping rather than from the subset to which I belong. There was no consideration of "us/them as a whole." Does that make me small-minded? It might.

I like the word homosexual. It's easy to type, not gender specific, and can be quickly shortened to "homo" when one is in a hurry. I don't associate any definition other than "likes to sleep with members of the same sex." It's simple. I'm simple. When the whole LGBT(Q) community is considered, definitions get much more complex. Or is it just me?

I rarely use the word verbally. I'm more likely to say "gay" or "lesbian." I do, of course, reserve the right to use other appellations freely at any time or place, future or past, written or oral.

Like you, Crystal, I am curious as to what others think about it. And by others I don't mean just the LGBT(Q) community. I mean all people.

People, what do you think about it?


March 16, 2006

I'd Rather Eat Cake

I'm all caught up on paperwork. For the moment, anyway. You know how paperwork is, so cyclical. One minute I'm current, the next minute the cycle begins anew. The rhythm is gonna get me.

Some of the paperwork was annual, like filing the FAFSA. It shows the Federal Department of Education how poor I am so The Boy can take advantage of low cost federal education loans. Even as cheap as money is these days, those loans are extremely handy. The cheapest of the cheap.

Funny thing is, The Boy wouldn't be eligible if Wendy and I were allowed legal recognition of our family status. It doesn't matter that our family finances are joint, that her income is my income is The Boy's income, that our assets are shared and shared alike, that our resources available to pay for his education are far greater than the data collected on said FAFSA indicates. When viewed as the entity it is, our family doesn't look bad on paper. But when divided by legal status, we appear, for this exercise, conveniently destitute.

I don't feel the slightest bit of guilt at how this works to our advantage. Here's where I thumb my nose at our government and those who feel my commitment to Wendy is unworthy of legal acknowledgement. It is a rare instance of our family benefiting from bigotry. In fact, it's the only instance.

It doesn't come close to making up for the mountain of societal and legal restrictions imposed on homosexual families in America, but I'll take the crumb. I'd gladly give it up for a bite of the sandwich other citizens are served.


March 15, 2006

Minor Confession

Wendy and I watch American Idol.
We enjoy it.

There. I said it.
Now I feel even more cheap and common.
Eh, not really.
But feel free to mock me at will.

This year when a group of our friends proposed an American Idol betting pool, well, we jumped right in. With a $5 buy-in, each player submitted a list of who they think the top five will be and in what order they will finish. Points are assigned to each correct answer, most points wins the pot at the end of the contest. Last count, there were 23 of us in the pool.

Without further ado, I bring you my top five.

5. Lisa Tucker
4. Taylor Hicks
3. Mandisa
2. Chris Daughtry
1. Katharine McPhee

Katharine's cleavage pushed her above Chris on my list.
See how much thoughtful analysis I put into my picks?
I'm nothing if not shallow.


March 12, 2006

Something Suspicious Indeed

Evidently some folks feel the English language does not already get butchered enough. We denizens of the DC area are being instructed, nay, encouraged to mangle it even more.

I bring you a vocabulary lesson, fresh from official signage printed in large bold type and posted on trains in our Metrorail system:
Sumpnspicious (sŭmp • ən • spĭsh • əs) n. Unattended package or odd, unusual behavior that is reported to a bus driver, train operator (via intercom at end of rail car), station manager or Metro police at 202-867-5309.

Because it's really hard to say "something suspicious."
I don't know whether to laugh or cry.


March 9, 2006


My nose started running Tuesday evening. It hasn't stopped since, gathering steam on Wednesday, adding frequent sneezing and a rough raw feeling in my throat. Who has time for a cold? Not me.

I stayed at work all day despite feeling shitty. See, I work at an office where calling in sick is considered a character flaw. A direct quote from the employment manual: "Man up, Nancy! Get your ass to work no matter how crappy you feel or contagious you may be!" Ayup, I'm pretty sure that's the attitude that exposed me to the cold I currently have. Such a policy is, in my own humble opinion, counter-productive, but since I don't sign the checks I try to play along.

Indulgently I crawled into bed almost as soon as I got home. The TV remote cradled in one hand, a wad of Kleenex in the other, I snuggled into the pillows to soothe my misery with a bit of channel surfing.

I pushed the "on" button. Nothing. I was aware the batteries in the remote needed replacing because it had been acting finicky for a week or so. I pushed the button again, harder this time. Still nothing. Again. Harder. Nothing. Rinse. Repeat. I fought the urge to hurl the remote at the TV.

Did I get up and look for new batteries? Oh hell no. I whined until Wendy did it for me, which wasn't long. Why oh why does she tolerate such juvenile behavior? As soon as those fresh batteries were in the remote, it jumped to life and I relaxed.

It's those little things. Like plenty of Kleenex, a TV remote that works, and a girlfriend who babies me when I'm feeling icky.

I heart those little things.


Never Hurts to Ask?

The $39 Experiment: Clever idea and/or/but too much time on his hands?

The concept intrigues me enough that I'll be checking back to see how it progresses.


March 8, 2006

Hair Control

Control is a recurring theme in my life of late.

Of late?
Oh who am I kidding. I've always had control issues.

I popped by my friend Tina's house last week to pick up some groceries.

What's that? You don't go shopping at your friend's house? Well I wasn't actually shopping. She had shopped for me. At Costco. A dish of chicken enchiladas for dinner and two large cans of coffee. Kirkland coffee is a bargain and it's quite good. I had also run out of coffee filters, so she supplied me with a short stack from her pantry. Yes she spoils me, my friend Tina.

As I was leaving, she asked if I had considered wearing a headband or using clips in my hair.

Both of my hands flew to my head.
My crazy long hair!
Her first mention of it!
Was this a positive mention or one into which I should read a more sinister truth?

"Tell me the truth, Tina. Please. Does it look horrible?"

She paused as if considering a tactful response. "No, no. Not horrible. Just kind of fly-away."

I, of course, heard "wild" "messy" "crazy" "out of control" instead of fly-away. But then again, how else can "fly-away" be interpreted?

Our phone rang the next day. It was Tina, saying she had something for Wendy and me to play with. "Oh?" I queried, knowing with her that could mean just about anything. (If you know her, you know what I mean. It's all good.)

"Remember we talked about your hair? I picked up some things for you to experiment with."

Tina, the ultimate caregiver.
She's a mother hen with an expansive brood.

I've never really had enough hair to use clips or headbands or accessories of any sort. I'm oddly excited by the prospect. Is that my inner girly-girl peeking out?


March 7, 2006

Through the Ages

There is a seven year age difference between Wendy and me. It used to bother me, but it doesn't any more. We're meant to be together despite the gap. Or because of the gap. I stopped thinking about it years ago.


On our recent New Years beach trip, we were playing a trivia game about the 1980s. Our friend Marcie, the one who just celebrated her 24th birthday for the fifth time, said, "In 1987, I was eleven years old."

I followed with, "In 1987, I was a married suburban housewife with a two-year old."

We all laughed.


Today is my friend Tina's birthday, the day she catches up with me and we are the same age for a few months. Happy birthday, Dirt. Don't stand too close to the cake or your hair will look like your husband's did after he ignited the yulelog this past Christmas.


We had dinner Saturday with the only other lesbian couple we know locally. They are both 53. The conversation turned briefly to hot flashes. Wendy and I both posed interested questions. Then it dawned on me if they are having hot flashes and are 53, I'm closer than I like to imagine to hot flashes of my own.


Folks I've known while I was an adult and they were children are now becoming adults themselves. Once they either graduate high school or hit 18, whichever comes last, I expect them to quit calling me Ms. *insert my last name here* and start calling me Suzanne. The transition is easier for some than others.


Our neighbor is an older woman. She has children my age. No no, strike that. She has children Wendy's age. I want to be an old lady like her: sharp, capable, independent and caring.


There's not really a point to sharing these tidbits. Except to say I'm fortunate enough to have the influence of friends of many generations in my life.

There's something to be learned from everyone, no matter their age. Best be sure you're paying attention.


March 6, 2006

To Whom It May Concern

Subtitled: What Makes Strangers So Bold?

Yes, I am a lesbian. But I am not a know-all source of information for how to be a lesbian. It is pointless to ask me for advice on how to determine if you are gay, what you should do if you think you are gay, how to tell your husband you are a lesbian, or about the mechanics of making love to a woman. I am not an instruction manual.

On the flip side, if we are friends I'll share my personal experiences and opinions within reason, as friends do with friends. But still you must think for yourself and do what's right for you.

That is all.


March 3, 2006

Cruise Control

I'm starting to re-think my entire philosophy about driving. Like maybe I should walk instead.

See, I got pulled over again last weekend. For speeding. I know, I know. I was all like "WTF?" too! I went seventeen years without even talking to a policeman. Well. Except the years I lived next door to one. But that was idle neighborhood chitchat. Those conversations never began with, "License and registration, please" or "Do you know how fast you were going?" These days I'm like a magnet for any cop with a radar gun.

We were tooling down route 33 in rural-ish Virginia on the way to my mom's. Midday, sunshine, no traffic. The posted speed limit was 55 mph. Ever since my recent license debacle, I've been uber-aware of how fast I drive. Or so I thought.

The state police car was parked in the median. In plain view. Still he snuck up on me. I could not believe it when he pulled out behind me, his blue lights flashing. "Was I speeding?" I asked Wendy incredulously, "How fast was I going?"

Oh yeah. That's me. Uber-aware.

The policeman told me he had clocked me doing 68 in the 55. He asked if I had a reason for driving so fast.

Ah ha! The same question I refrained from answering the last time I was pulled over! It didn't help me then to be meek, so this time I spoke up.

"Well Officer," I began hesitantly, "I am a bit surprised to hear that. I really thought I was paying better attention to my speed."

Oh yeah, baby. I'm one smooth talker. I wondered how much this one was going to cost me.

He asked if I had had my cruise control set. I said no. He informed me he would be issuing a citation for 68 in a 55 and, with my license and registration in hand, headed back to his cruiser.

I sat there, unable to even make eye contact with Wendy. This was completely humilating, moreso because it was again entirely my own fault. I sighed deeply as Wendy grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze. Eye contact was easy then.

I snatched my hand back when I noticed the policeman returning. For some reason I felt it would not be a good idea for him to see us holding hands. For some reason, sure. We were in rural-ish Virginia. It would decidely not be a good idea.

"Ma'am, I don't usually do this," he said. "But I'm not going to give you a ticket this time. I think you were telling me the truth and too many people don't. We all make mistakes. But I do suggest you be more careful. And use your cruise control!"

Gratitude poured out of my mouth with assurances I would.

He didn't give me a ticket!
He didn't give me a ticket!
He didn't give me a ticket!

Yesterday on my way to work, I flipped on my cruise control while on the GW Parkway and set it for six miles above the posted speed limit of 45 mph. Cars flew by me at an alarming rate, their driver's necks craning to see what kind of fool was driving so slowly.

I just smiled at them and thought of the fellow who didn't give me a ticket.

Does this mean I'm reformed?


March 1, 2006

The Ship Has Sailed

Okay well, it's not really a ship. It's a boat. Hal's boat. His pride and joy, the Pearson 424 ketch he christened Sea Duty.

My mom found a buyer. Or rather a buyer found her. He's a younger fellow who knew Hal and is quite excited about owning the vessel that belonged to my stepfather. Hal was rather a legend in his sailing community: well respected and knowledgable, active in teaching others how to safely survive a bluewater voyage.

My mom never shared his joy of ocean sailing, but she loved puttering around in the Chesapeake Bay or the Caribbean. For many years, Hal led sailing rallies to both Bermuda and the Caribbean, sometimes sailing his own boat or hiring on to captain someone else's. My mother would hop an airplane and join him once he had arrived in the islands. They'd spend the winter months island hopping and socializing with their boating friends. Rough life, yes? Believe me, they earned it.

Just about every room in their house boasts a beautiful view of the creek, the sailboat moored at the dock creating a picture of tranquility. This morning, Sea Duty sailed from that dock heading for a shipyard to be pulled from the water for her pre-sale inspection, called a survey in the boating world. There's little doubt she will be given a clean bill of health as Hal maintained her in tiptop condition.

My mother had been dreading that moment. That moment when the boat left the creek for the final time, another captain at the helm. Interestingly, when her gay-hating neighbor saw the boat leaving, she phoned my mom to make sure she was okay. They are narrow-minded bigots, yet they can also be kind. That shit confuses me.

Now to share something that feels creepy if I overanalyze it but also feels so right in other ways. While Wendy and I were visiting last weekend, my mother asked Wendy put some of Hal's ashes into a small watertight container. We sealed it tightly and labeled it "Captain Hal." It's now stashed in the chart desk aboard Sea Duty. The young man who is purchasing the boat enthusiastically embraced the idea of having a piece of her recent Captain remain aboard.

I think Hal would also approve.