Tag Archives: life

reading the fine print

There is much medical research that touts the benefits of eating a diet high in Omega 3s and DHA, especially during pregnancy. One of the best places to get your Omegas is through fish. Not only does eating fish help lower depression during and after pregnancy, but it is also shown to aid in eye and brain development of the baby. Okay. I’m on board. Time to eat my omegas.

Except…except…I don’t really like fish. I loved fish when we were sailing in the Caribbean and we hauled fresh tuna and mahi aboard for sushi and tuna tartare. But big game fish are off limits during pregnancy due to increased levels of mercury and other toxins. I’ve tried wild caught salmon, catfish, tilapia–yuck, yuck, yuck. So what about taking fish oil supplements? A recent study (which, for the life of me, I can’t find) argued that you have to actually eat the fish to get the benefits. Other studies now show that there is no correlation between enhanced levels of DHA and baby brain development. I say tomatoe, you say toematoe?

Regardless, eating fish is a healthy, low-fat way to get protein. I’m trying to make an active effort to get some canned tuna (ok as long as it isn’t albacore) or sardines in my diet a couple times a week.

open-face sardine melt on homemade whole wheat bread. Cabot, seriously sharp cheddar.

I was excited when I found this new brand of sardines in the grocery store: Wild Planet, wild sardines. The box and their website purports that they are “sustainably caught along the California coast.” Great. But then turn the box on its side and look at the fine print: “processed in Vietnam.”

Are you kidding me? They sustainably catch the fish off of California, ship it to Vietnam for processing, and then ship it halfway across the world to Philadelphia where it ends up on my plate? Sure, they may be practicing sustainable fishing methods, but Wild Planet is not practicing sustainable processing and delivery methods.

Don’t even get me started on the canned yellowfin tuna you can buy at Trader Joes.

 

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I’ve been thinking about trash.

I’ve been thinking about trash lately. How much we make; where it goes; how to make less; what happens when it gets to its destination.

We save plastic shopping bags from the grocery store and use those as trash bags. When the space under the sink is filling up with plastic bags, we take canvas bags to the store. When we’re running out of plastic bags, we leave the canvas bags at home. When the trash needs to be emptied, we take it up to the marina trash room and dump it in a big trash barrel. Once a week a trash truck comes and takes the trash. Recycling? Nope. It’s 2011 and there still is no recycling at this marina.

But is there a way to reduce my plastic use. A few months ago I read a quote by a guy who was talking about the food industry’s tendency to wrap cheese in plastic. We are wrapping something with a shelf life of about 3 months with a wrapper that will last much, much longer. Why not wax paper? The same holds true for my trash bags. A lot of my trash is biodegradable: paper, food waste; yet I stuff it in plastic bags where its chance of biodegrading is slim to none.

How about using paper bags for trash bags? Well, all the wet trash (food scraps) would make the bag soggy leaving me with the great risk of dumping a bag load of trash on the marina dock before making it up to the trash room. Plastic bags for food waste? But that defeats the purpose. The biodegradable stuff would be wrapped in plastic.

Any ideas?

bubblers

If you’re from New England, no doubt the word “bubbler” will make you think of the filtered water cooler in the office. Unless you live on a boat. Marinas in colder climates run bubblers all winter to keep ice away from the boats. A bubbler is a plastic cylinder with a fan that is submerged in water and spins and pushes the water around the boat. The surface of the water appears to bubble, hence the name. They keep the ice away, sometimes. But when the temperature is consistently below freezing, mother nature shows us, once again, that she will always win.

Large sheets of ice are flowing down the Delaware River from northern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and they all crowd the entrance of the marina, pushing to get a spot in our calm waters.  High tide, 4:36AM. Knock, knock, knock on the hull. We’re surrounded by ice sheets. I’m beginning to think it would be better to be completely iced-in. Hungry and wide-awake, I went outside and turned on our bubbler. I ventured onto the foredeck with the boat hook and tried to push the ice away but ended up just swearing at it. (something along the lines of “don’t you know I’m 7 months pregnant and need my sleep?  A little common courtesy please ice.” I probably didn’t say please.) I gave up, came inside, ate a bowl of granola, and crawled back into bed. At least the bubbler provided some white noise to mask the sound of the  ice knocking on the hull.

I asked Hans if next winter–when our 3rd crew member will be sleeping up in the vee-berth (site of the majority of the ice knocking)–will the baby get woken up by the ice? He said: “Maybe. And then we’ll be dealing with knocking ice and a screaming baby.” I crawled further into the down cocoon and told myself that maybe the ice isn’t so bad after all.

 

how saving sheep sucks my time

I’ve never been that interested in video games. Usually, I only care about them when I can’t play them–like when my brother got a Nintendo when we were kids. He bought it with his own money and could therefore control who got to play when. (Pretty much he could play it, whenever he wanted. My sister and I could play it maybe once a month for 30 minutes.)

Video games also become very interesting when I shouldn’t play them. I got addicted to Civilization for a couple months and I played tetris with great devotion while I was procrastinating writing those term papers in college. That is basically my video game history.

Until now. Now I feel it is my moral duty to save the sheep. Hans downloaded a simple little arcade game called “Madness” onto his ipod Touch. I am addicted. And I keep thinking I’ll grow out of this addiction, but I haven’t. At least not yet. I’ve been playing for at least two months now, and I have to get in at least one game a night. I know it’s getting bad when Hans told me the other night that I can’t get mad or frustrated at the video game.

I have a bag of knitting sitting at my feet. A stack of library books on the coffee table. A number of sewing projects in my mind. Yet I spend an hour or so each evening saving the sheep. (From the aliens, of course.)  Luckily for me (and for the progress of my novel), Hans brings his Touch to school every day so the sheep can’t distract me from real work.

If Hans didn’t use his ipod Touch for school, I would be really tempted to toss it overboard. Instead, I need to get a grip. Get some self-control. I hate video games. Really, I do.

Did you really just ask me that?

Or, How do you answer inappropriate questions?

 

near Fairhaven, Maryland

 

I like to think that I’m fast on my feet; quick to retort; ready with an answer. I have, after all, spent about 11 years going back and forth with the idea of going to law school. But sometimes I’m caught off-guard and my best answer to a question gets stuck in the recesses of my brain leaving me, five minutes later, thinking: why did I say that? I didn’t need to answer that question.

Being seven months pregnant lends me to a lot of unsolicited advice, comments, and questions. This weekend, a person I had only known for about 20 minutes asked me, point blank, “if the baby is a boy, are you going to circumcise it?” I blinked twice and answered. Five minutes later I was mentally kicking myself. That is a personal question that not even my family or closest friends have asked me. Yet I answered this stranger. And, maddeningly, I came up with twenty different responses I could have used, had my quick thinking not failed me at the time.

So my question is: how do you respond to inappropriate questions, comments, or advice? I’m sure Emily Post has an answer or two–most likely along the lines of “thank you for your concern/interest but I am not ready to share that information yet.” A third grader would be more direct and say: “mind your own beeswax.”  What is the middle ground between those two? Sure, I could be polite, but part of me also wants to tell respond by saying: hey, back off!

America is the land of political correctness. I would never call an overweight friend “gorda” (fatty), like they do in the Dominican Republic, or “flaca” (skinny), nor would I call out to the blonde woman who just dropped her glove in line in front of me at the post office “rubia” to get her attention. I would simply say, ma’am.  The generic address of ma’am, while more socially acceptable and polite, is imprecise and boring. But it is politically correct and it will not offend, heaven forbid.

PC-ness goes beyond the labels we use to refer to other people–it is ingrained in our daily interactions with strangers, colleagues, and acquaintances. When is the last time you were completely honest with someone without beating around the bush? And how did that go? Did it require an apology, clarification, or further discussion? Or did it make your relationship more open and honest? I’ll guess the former. But what if we were a little less PC and a little more straightforward? I think our relationships would be more honest, more open, and more real.

So the next time someone asks me an inappropriate question, will I refer in a way in which Emily Post would approve, or will I point out the inappropriateness of the question and decline to answer? (Or, will I answer and then kick myself later?)

documenting my life

My first journal was a confirmation present from my parents when I was 13. It was white with light pink flowers and the edges were gilded in gold. It had a small gold lock. My journal-writing days began. That journal lasted for years. By the time I went to college, 5 years after starting the journal, it still contained blank pages–but what 18 year old is going to bring such a girly journal to her freshman year? Certainly not me.

In high school I started a “holiday journal” with the goal of writing an entry on every holiday and birthday. That lasted about two years and five entries.

College? I don’t remember writing in a journal. If I did, I can’t wait to find it!

2002: Hans and I set out in our Toyota Corolla for a 2-month cross-country road trip from Massachusetts to Montana. I learned that it is much easier to document your travels than it is to document daily life. We kept a journal, which we wrote in, together, every night. We used a camcorder (yes, a real camcorder with a VHS tape). We took still photographs with Hans’s dad’s old Canon SLR. We aren’t going to forget that trip!

2005: We are given a travel journal as a wedding gift–we wrote an entry every day of our honeymoon.

2006: Hans and I set sail in s/v Whisper for the Caribbean. 4 years later and what a technology boost. We took photographs with our tiny Canon PowerShot SD 1000 (which I still use). And we wrote in our blog, almost weekly. I tried to write regularly in my black Moleskin journal.

2009: I started a new holiday journal: Christmas – gifts received, gifts given, cards received, cards sent, highlights at the end of the year, and New Year’s resolutions.

2009 to present: Philadelphia. I am still filling in the blank pages in the Moleskin I started in October 2006.

2010: I start this blog.

I am a writer. Ask any writer for their advice on how to become a better writer and their answer is: write. Read. And write. Write daily. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write daily. I can write in this blog, in my writer’s journal, in my personal diary, in my novel. Anywhere. But I have to write. (Oh, and emails and facebook updates don’t count!)

If my only outlet for writing is a journal, my history shows that I will fail miserably. I have consistently owned a journal since I was a young teenager, but I have a hard time writing frequent entries. Since I’m not a very private person, the blog format is the perfect place for me to work toward writing every day. I know people are reading it (okay, maybe only 10 or so, but still!), so I feel a responsibility to keep it updated.

2011: I am working on starting a Baby on a Boat blog. I want to document my baby’s life beyond quick digital snapshots and I want to document my experience as a new mom. A blog seems like the perfect place. I could start a new cloth and paper diary, but, hey, look at my track record. I’d skip months of my child’s development. The best solution for me is to air all of the dirty diapers on the internet.

Writing. Every day. It can be a challenge, but, if I gather all my media, I’m up for it. Who knows, maybe this year I’ll fill in the last blank page in that 2006 journal!

the reward

I believe that a gorgeous sunrise is nature’s reward for waking up early. This is what greeted us this morning as I fried up eggs and sipped my hot tea.

I saw my favorite sunrises at sea while we were on passage on s/v Whisper. Passage sunrises were the reward for a restless, sometimes sleepless night, sharing 3 hour watches. Passage sunrises signaled the end of a long, cold night and brought the promise of hot tea and coffee.

en route between Dominican Republic and the Bahamas

Sunrises in Sweden in the summer are amazing. Sunset turns into sunrise and the event lasts at least seven hours. (If you want to see the sunrise, you need to stay up from 11PM to 6AM–and how do you tell when the sunset stops and the sunrise starts?)

3:00AM, Holmsund, Sweden

If you’re watching the sunrise in Philadelphia in the winter, don’t let your eyes stray from it for too long because it quickly turns to a cold, gray winter sky.