Tag Archives: life

Caribbean dreaming

It’s that time of year again. The thermometer is consistently dropping down to 20 degrees every night and stays in the mid-30s during the day. We’re forecast to get snow tonight and tomorrow and I’m constantly wearing 2, if not 3, layers, top and bottom. The fingerless gloves my mom knit me for Christmas are worth their weight in gold. Ah yes. Winter. Not my favorite season.

So what do I do? I dream of the Caribbean. I start looking at future cruising boats.  Wait for friends down island to update their blogs so I can get a fix. Read Caribbean news blogs. Look through old pictures and wish my hair was still bleached blonde and my skin was still dark brown. Stand in front of the fish monger and grumble at how expensive and stale the tuna and mahi-mahi are.

After about 20 minutes (okay, maybe sometimes an hour) of messing around on the internet I snap out of it and think of what I like about living in the frigid north. In no particular order:

  • sourdough baking
  • proximity to family and friends
  • access to quality news: NPR, PBS Newshour
  • internet: 24/7
  • red wine (not so much now, but it was vital last winter)
  • cozy bars and pubs (ditto to above, although they’re still nice even if I’m just drinking hot tea)
  • hot tea
  • new friends
  • setting down roots in a new community
  • coffee shops
  • Reading Terminal Market
  • local, organic food
  • the public library
  • Trader Joes
  • my Kitchen Aid stand mixer
  • my sewing machine
  • spring
  • fall

So, the frigid north is not all bad in January. At least the days are getting longer.


it’s always snowy in Vermont

Or at least it’s always snowy at Christmastime in Vermont. We crossed the border from New York State last Wednesday around 2PM and as soon as we got into the mountains we were greeted with a snowstorm. It snowed 6″ overnight in north/central Vermont but the roads were dry by the time we made it to southern Vermont the next morning.

A few days later and we were hit with the Christmas blizzard: we woke up on Monday morning to 16″ of snow on the ground and and estimated 3-7″ to fall before 4PM.  Hans got to practice his snow blowing skills while my mom and sister got out the old snow shovels. My nephew, Chase, and I tromped through the snow and took turns lying in the deep powder.

Everyone inside for hot chocolate!

the Christmas list

To do lists: I rely on to do lists on a daily basis. Sometimes my to do list is very short and simple (laundry, post office, bake bread); other days it is seemingly never ending. Enter the Christmas to do list. How many people have a Christmas to do list? I’ll guess a lot.  It seems like every time I cross a task off my list, I add two more. And suddenly my to do list is not keeping my stress level at bay but rather is acting more like a billboard of all my tasks left untouched. And I begin to feel a little daunted that I won’t get it all done. (Pregnancy hormones–and the little person standing on my bladder–certainly don’t help as I wake up at least once every night, wide awake and my mind starts wandering.)

I have re-evaluated my list and realize that even if I do nothing on the list, everything will be OK.  How many of my items are voluntary tasks? Wishes for Christmas, but not requirements? Instead of racing against the clock today to check these tasks off my list, I will let the day lead me. If I’m still in my pajamas at 11:30–oh well. Don’t bake that pound cake? Oh well. Haven’t knitted four squares for the baby’s blanket? Oh well.

In other words, I need to re-adopt Island Time. Besides learning how to tie knots, take a third reef, and read the depth of Bahamian waters, the most important lesson I learned while sailing around the Caribbean for 2 1/2 years is a concept I call “Island Time.” My stress levels were nearly non-existent while we were cruising. Certainly there were times when stress and anxiety were present: a rolly night in a bad anchorage, getting caught in a squall, using that eyeball navigation over a coral reef, another boat dragging into us at 2AM. Yes, there were stressful times on our Caribbean cruise. But, while the stressors were large enough to cause us to worry about our safety and the safety of our boat (and home), they were few and far between. It was very easy to put all of the other small stresses of daily life in perspective and realize they were not make or break. No milk for tea in the morning? Oh well. The internet connection is down (again)? Oh well. I adopted Island Time. And my overall well being was good. Excellent in fact.

It is hard to adopt Island Time living in a big US city. The hustle and bustle gets into my bones and, before I know it, the small stressors become a major deal. I was talking to my pastor about this and he agrees. Why does a trip to the post office suddenly seem like a major task?  Why does the pile of unwashed clothes seem so daunting? Are we hiding our major stressors behind our small stressors? Perhaps my Christmas to do list isn’t as important as I think it is, but I am using it as an outlet for other stress I am feeling in my life that I don’t want to deal with.

I am giving myself a day off today to do what I want. I will not worry about my novel. I will go to yoga at 6PM if I want to. I will bake cake if I want to.  I will only look at my to do list if I am sitting on the couch staring at the wall and twiddling my thumbs. Island Time. This is my early Christmas present to myself.

pregnancy cravings

lunch in 8 minutes...can I wait that long?

Pregnancy cravings. Are they real? Or just a real good excuse to eat what you want?

A little of both I think. At 25 weeks pregnant, I’m hungry almost all the time. (Yes, Mik, this is different from pre-pregnancy!) But now when I’m hungry, I need to eat within ten minutes or, or . . . I don’t want to know what I’d do. Perhaps start eating dirt and fabric softener? That does happen to some women.  And when my stomach isn’t growling, I’m still thinking about food and dreaming about what will be good to eat. (Again, this is different from pre-pregnancy, I swear!)

These days, my food dreams revolve around cheese, eggs, salt, and bread. And the beauty of pregnancy is that I pretty much can eat whatever I want. Luckily I never want to eat McDonalds, chips, or other junk food (Ben & Jerry’s has calcium). So when my stomach growls, I need to eat. And since I’m always thinking about food, I always have a food dream that needs to be fulfilled.

Is that a craving? Yes. But is it a scientific event happening in my body? I don’t think so. I crave food because I think about it all the time and I’m hungry about 80% of the time. So, when I get a craving, I usually satisfy that craving.

Does this make any sense? I don’t think so. I’m deliriously hungry as my Trader Joe’s box mac & cheese boils on the stove. I rarely eat box mac & cheese, but I’m hungry, I’m pregnant, and I got a craving. So I’m ignoring the sodium content and focusing on the organic label. They cancel each other out, right?

What I’m trying to say is that cravings are not specific to pregnancy, but pregnancy is a wonderful reason to satisfy those cravings. Nearly guilt-free eating!

I’m thankful for . . .

I’ll venture to guess that it’s a pretty common tradition at Thanksgiving tables for everyone to take turns sharing what they are thankful for. I know my family did this when I was growing up and I’ve shared Thanksgiving with other families where this tradition is also practiced.

Recently, the idea of gratitude has popped up in the context of happiness studies. For example: UC Davis, a Science Daily article, this article by Philip Watkins, and a post of Psychwiki, to cite a few.  The theory is that if you spend a minute each day thinking of what you are grateful for (in this season, what you’re thankful for), your overall level of happiness will rise.  Encouraged by Pastor Michael Caine’s sermon yesterday in church, I am going to put this to practice. Every morning, while I’m drinking my tea, I’ll do a quick blog posting about what I’m thankful for. I don’t mean this to be a place to brag about how great my life is, nor evangelize, nor a post to show-off how lucky I am, but rather a simple exercise to recognize the good things in life.

November is a hard month. The days are getting shorter and colder and winter is knocking on the door (or, in my case, on the hull). What a perfect time to start thinking of what is good in my life–to start being thankful.

Monday, 22 November 2010

I’m thankful for the warm down quilt on my bed.

living on the Delaware River

Delaware River just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge - Philadelphia skyline

The Delaware River originates from two branches that start in the Catskills and converge near Hancock, NY. By the time it reaches Trenton, NJ, it starts mixing with tides from the Atlantic Ocean and becomes a tidal river.  Philadelphia, located south of Trenton and about 87 nautical miles from the Atlantic Ocean, has a mean tide of about 6 feet. What does this all mean? How does this impact my life afloat on the Delaware River?


Chuck, the harbor master, tows a tree out of the marina this morning

A strong storm blew through Philadelphia last night and we were woken up at various points in the night by knocking on the hull.  Were we hitting the dock? Nope.  It was logs. Sometimes we get stumps and other times we get logs. I walked up to put laundry on this morning and saw an entire tree floating on the other side of the dock. In the winter we get ice floes (shudder). And on a daily basis we get trash: plastic bottles, old shoes, condoms (yuck), plastic bags–you name it. It’s amazing how many different odds and ends float down (and up) the river and work their way into the marina.

21 weeks and healthy

I’ve read in numerous books, online forums, and blogs that women often remark that they have never felt more healthy than when they are pregnant. Writers, by sharing this sentiment, are implicitly acknowledging that pregnancy is not accepted as an inherently healthy condition. In online forums women write: “I’ve never felt healthier!”–as if they were expecting to feel unhealthy.

In contrast, the only feeling I would share on an online message board would be: “I’m not feeling healthy. What gives?” This time in my life is naturally my healthiest time. I have never been more focused on my body and its health. No alcohol. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Extra protein. Emphasis on whole grains. Exercise. Lots of exercise.  Happy. Excited. And this is all easy for me because, at the risk of sounding self-righteous, I am not doing it for myself, but for a completely vulnerable human being.

I recognize, of course, that I am in an enviable position. I work from home on my own schedule  thereby minimizing my daily stresses. I have a supportive husband. We know that we want this baby. We are ready for this baby. I felt far from healthy  in my first trimester, but now, well into the second trimester I feel great.

The same cannot be said for other women. They may be uncertain if they want a baby. Perhaps they are single or in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. Nausea and feeling uncomfortable may persist throughout the nine months. Money may be an issue, creating stress. I understand that many women many not feel healthy during pregnancy for a variety of reasons.

What I don’t understand, however, is the widespread belief that a healthy pregnancy is an exceptional pregnancy. Pregnancy is not a medical condition. It is merely a  stage of life that many women experience in many different ways, but automatically viewing it as unhealthy or as a challenge does not need to be the conventional wisdom.