Monday, December 3, 2007

Home. Change.

He's home and he's changing jobs. Recently I was asked, "when does your husband go back to sea?" The honest answer is of course, " I don't know" , but to many that answer is not suitable, not comprehensible. "You don't KNOW?!" they exclaim. I then must launch into my practiced dialogue about why I don't know and more specifically why I must not pretend to care too much about when my husband will leave home and return to sea. "He could be leaving as early as this weekend and heading to the Gulf of Mexico for two or four weeks. Or, he might be headed to the coast of Africa for anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months. He will not be home for Christmas, most likely, though that may change depending on his new job schedule, so I can't plan on it anyhow."

And to the question of "Do you have any plans this weekend?"' I must always smile and say casually, "Well none specifically, just a quiet family weekend." When what I really want to say is that ,no, how could I possibly make plans for this coming weekend, when it may turn out to be the only chance to celebrate Christmas with him this year. Likewise I must be sensitive that it might be his fathers LAST Christmas.

The invitation of "Dinner next week?" is often replied with a more polite version of the following ... "Oh how nice of you to ask I will get back to you within three to five days and we may or may not even be able to commit at that time, could we just play it by ear and maybe have you over for pizza but then cancel at the last minute because he's leaving tomorrow."

And yet though all of this I have never been happier, never felt luckier, and never been smiling so much for so long. Each minute, each hour we spend together is the most precious thing to us and we make it count. Each fight, ends with passionate apologies and promises to come to a compromise. Each laugh is drawn out, and an appreciation you can only find in a best friend is fulfilled. There are times, when I am unsure of my ability to accept this lifestyle, but THIS time, right NOW, I am HAPPY.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Dear Husband at Sea

I wrote this to him in an e-mail tonight. Things have been going pretty well, but sometimes we all have bad days. He called tonight because it was his Dad's birthday, and his Dad's health is... well, not so good. I detected a hint of sadness in his voice over the satphone and it nearly broke my heart, so I wrote him this:

"Do not be sad that you are not here, for you are at sea supporting your family. Who wants to be another nine-to-five guy, that's not your style, not your groove. I know this has been a rough hitch, because you were not home long enough last time, you know it too. This is just our life baby, it's what we've chosen to do. I'm trying my best to stand tall and be tough, but when I hear your voice waver, I falter too. My tough skin exists only if yours is tough too. Your family loves you, and misses you so much, but at least when you are home you are HERE and not somewhere far away and out of touch. I know it's hard babe, I've worked on ships too, but enjoy your adventures for someday you will yearn for them again. Hop fully the sadness I heard in your voice was just a passing mood, a brief fall from grace. "

Passion is something we must all be thankfull for. I don't subscribe to any particular religion, but I thank GOD every night to have a husband so strong and so passionate.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Winds Blow

The fall winds are blowing the leaves off the trees here in New Hampshire. It's absolutely beautiful to see the swirls of bright yellow, gold, fiery orange, red and brown mixed up and dancing around to the rhythm of warm southerly wind. The windows are open, though we replaced the screen door with glass today. We also called the oil company to set up delivery for the coming winter and we talked about finances for the next four weeks.

He is leaving tomorrow. Heading to Panama this time. It's been a short three weeks that he's been home this time; too short. For some reason three weeks is just not long enough... it's like a long school vacation, an extended absence from work, or a brief tour through a foreign country. It's not long enough. However, LAST hitch he was home for five weeks... so that is the trade off. I took part of the day off today to spend time with him. We didn't do anything too special... just to be near each other for a few more hours. I'm not choking up. I can't allow my self to feel sad. This is not tragic. There are millions of things in this world that are tragic but this is not. This is not tragic. This is a common cold among cancer. This a paper cut next to a lost limb. I will bring him to the airport tomorrow and he will be back in 28 days.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Comfort of the Sealife

I miss the early morning breeze, the fresh salt air, and the structure found aboard a ship. From the simplicity and necessity of a ships daily ritual comes a comfort which I have never been able to replicate ashore. No where but on a ship have I ever appreciated a bed so much. In the belly of a wooden sailing ship a narrow coffin like space, lined with a 3 inch thick foam mat, and with a thin slightly mildewed curtain has been for me a place of shelter, tranquility and calm it is as a mother kangaroos pouch must feel to her baby. In the narrow forward cabin on a small research ship with the bow thrusters waking me when as the ship struggles to keep station, I have found peace unmatched by the enormous queen pillow topped mattress which we recently purchased off the show room floor. No amount of pillows nor any thread count of sheets will ever match the safe and serene sleep I have found on ships.

Thinking about this comfort now I hope my husband is feeling that same comfort as he settles into his bunk, on his ship. He arrived on board early this morning after a long flight to Trinidad. During our brief phone conversation this afternoon on the sat phone he mentioned being terribly sick with a stomach bug similar to one I had weeks ago. I was so lucky he was with me to help me through it and now I wish him a speedy recovery and comfort in his bunk. (Most call them racks, I call them bunks... it's habit I never dropped from my time traditional sailing ships.)

After dropping above mentioned sailor at the airport yesterday I proceeded to deal with his departure in the best way I know how. Cleaning. I started with the dishes in the late morning around 11 and then noticed that the silverware sorter needed a scrubbing and so did the entire drawer. Then it was on to the kitchen floor which received a sweep and a hand scrubbing including the spot underneath the recycling container which often gets skipped when in a hurry. Then as the floor was drying it was outside to water the plants, dead head the flowers and dammit if the car didn't need a good shining up as well. The car, engine, and tires all scrubbed it was only logical to move on to the interior of the car but the shop vac was in dis-repair so a quick Internet order later and the missing part is on it's way. Since I couldn't vacuum the car the laundry presented it's self next and managed to keep me busy for a few more minutes. When all this was done I looked at my watch and noticed it was only 1:30 pm. Drat. Time goes so slowly when you are counting down 28 days. Well a lawn chair, nail file and Glamour magazine managed to relax me a little bit and ease me into the late afternoon and begin to enjoy my time alone. A long brisk walk with the dog topped off the day and made me tired enough to rest my eyes at bed time.

Keeping busy is what you do on a ship, the ships clock never stops and the routine begins again every 24 hours. I'm happy I'm not at sea but I hope I can bring some of the structure, the routine and the comfort of ships life in to my home life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


We've been married a little under two years. It has been like nothing I could ever imagine. Through I don't know what I envisioned marriage to be like, it is better that I could taken from any fairy tale with knights and princesses (those stories are just about lust anyhow).

Last night we went on a date to a local beach arcade. We played skee-ball ("Fun for the WHOLE family!") till our eyes crossed and driving games and shooting games. Them we went to the taffy store for freshly made saltwater taffy and ended with pizza on the beach watching the full moon rise over the Atlantic Ocean. I don't know if life gets any better than that. He wanted to take me on this date and show me this attention, not to right any wrong doing or to make up from a fight, just because he wanted to show me a good time. This is LOVE.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

He's Leaving

He's leaving. On Wednesday ( we think... you never know untill about 48 hours before the flight) my husband will fly back to his ship which we think (again, all things subject to change) will be in Trinidad. We have had a wonderful time while he's been home. It's summer in the Northeast so of course it's really busy; sun, sand and all the things that go along with it. Last weekend we spent three days traveling through Vermont and New Hampshire on the most wonderful and romamtic "getaway" anyone could imagine. I started a new job last Tuesday after recovering from a bout of food poisioning. Thank god he was home for that... I'm not sure how that would have gone if he wasn't around to help me get through that. The new job is going really well and I'm excited to ease into fall with a new routine.

He's been having a little trouble with his free time. It's difficult for most people, I think, to have a set amount of free time during which you must relax before the free time ends and work begins again. He's very good at staying busy, but to the point where (here we go with the wife nagging) some of the things that must get done are passed by. Fishing trips take precedence over changing the oil in the car, etc.

About three days ago I started thinking about him leaving. My moods began to swing a bit more toward the unhappy and my paticients began to slowly thin like a piece of bubble gum streached tight. Friends and family poking fun at me have been met with a stern glare and a snappy and defensve retort insead of the usualy friendly banter. He's leaving. He'll be gone for 28 days. It's time to put on my armour. No one else will be around the walk the dog, no one else to do the banking if I'm at work, no one to come home to at the end of the day. Things change, I will watch trashy television and eat popcorn for dinner instead of watching Discovery Channel and having a complete and well balanced meal. It's not bad really, I LOVE popcorn and trashy TV and I think everyone should be so lucky to have that sort of time to them selves. I think becoming a bit of a grouch is just a result of trying to deal with the impending transition.

This is the life we've chosen. It's not a bad life. Just a different one.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Early Morning Fishing

This morning we went fishing at 5am. The fishing part was his idea and my idea was to see the sunrise and be on the water in the early morning, which I hadn't done in a while. We brought mugs of steaming coffee, the dog, five fishing poles, and two tackle boxes. I'm not sure yet how I feel about fishing, but here is what I do know:
I like being on the water.
The sunrise was beautiful.
I like to eat fish.
We didn't catch any fish.
We never catch any fish, or if we do we throw them back...something about being too small.
I don't like to catch fish, and then not eat them, it does not make sense to me.
Perhaps in the future a more conclusive opinion about the act of fishing will develop, but for now it's sort of a gray area for me. My husband on the other hand has a strange attraction to fishing that I can't decipher. The thrill of the hunt? When I was a child, my dad and I would go hunting for rabbit. We usually caught one and we always ate it. It was delicious and it was the only meat we would eat, store bought meat rarely crossed our table. I understood hunting with my dad, it was exciting, and there was an end result you could eat. But this fishing obsession I am struggling with.

Anyhow, we motored about the Piscattaqua River, through the back channel, past the old Wentworth Hotel and back up the mouth of the river. I stopped casting after about an hour mumbling something about my arm hurting. Just as I was settling onto a cushioned seat with the dog and my coffee, I was asked to take the wheel and "just hold us here for a few minutes". Well a few minutes turned into 45 and then the constant barrage of directions on how to "just hold us here" made it seem even longer. So much for my coffee. A few sighs and eye rolls finally got me relieved of my helm duties and we headed out of the protected harbor and onto the ocean. The sun was above the horizon but behind clouds, still low in the sky and the colors of a new day were drawn out a few minutes longer. We sped up and rode through the swells, all annoyance of the past 45 minutes lost with the first deep breath of salt air. How many people have written about this exact feeling, the flushing of salt air as if cleansing every cell in your body. I don't need to concentrate on a deep yoga breath, the sweetness of the air forces me to drink it in slowly, turn my head into the wind and let each hair be resulted just slightly so as to create a tingling feeling on my scalp. Nose up slightly to catch even more of the wind in my nostrils, slow grin on my face and all the while watching the colors of the sky, listening to the sound of the water rushing by, smelling and tasting the sweet salt air and feeling cleansed like a first baptism. But this isn't the first time I've felt this, and it's far from the last. I will go early morning fishing anytime.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Chapter One: He's home

He surprised me three days early. It was a nice surprise, however I hadn't had time to clean the house and grocery shop and otherwise eliminate the evidence of my single girl life style. But none the less I was happy to see him.

This is my first blog. I am nervous. Who will read this? Will anyone read it? I think EB White had the right idea when he wrote this:

"The essayist is a self-liberated man, sustained by the childish belief that everything he thinks about, everything that happens to him, is of general interest. He is a fellow who thoroughly enjoys his work, just as people who take bird walks enjoy theirs. Each new excursion of the essayist, each new "attempt," differs from the last and takes him into new country. This delights him. Only a person who is congenitally self-centered has the effrontery and the stamina to write essays."

About me: I wear stained Carrharts, clear Mabeline Mascara, and Channel Lip Gloss. I am a graduate of a Maritime Academy in the Northeast. My husband "ships out" which means he goes to work on a boat for extended periods of time. I stay at home.

The intention of this blog is write about my unusual lifestyle for the entertainment and benefit of others, as well as to provide a creative outlet for my literary self. You will find many spelling errors and even more grammatical errors. I have my writers Harbrace on the desk and each mistake you point out I will gladly learn from.

Back to being a Seawife: He is away for 28 days at a time and home for 28 days. Now, I fully realize that this is NOTHING compared to what some seawives endure. Many in the Merchant Marine ship out for 4 to 6 months at a time. Furthermore, there are wives of those in the US Military who are gone for an unspecified amount of time with greater risk and probably less cash. ( I won't get into the war at this point, as I'm sure there are thousands of other blogs which cover that.)
However, our situation is still far from normal and as EB White so eloquently said above, I am certain everyone else is interested.
This is it, the first entry. Thank you for reading, tune in for the ride anytime.