26 September 2016

Whales, Crazy Ladies & Microfilm

My great-grandmother, Margaret Chadwick, was born on a whaling ship in Taioha'e, Nuka Hiva in the Marquesas Islands in 1883.

Those of you who are good at math have figured out that either: (1) I'm freakishly old and should be subjected to extensive medical tests to determine the cause of my longevity or (2) there are a number of "greats" missing in that first sentence. I kind of wish the former was the correct answer because that would mean that I look amazing for my age. It's actually the latter. Why clutter up a sentence with lots of "greats" when I can just write an entire paragraph explaining why they're missing?

Margaret's mother was the wife of a whaling ship captain. Back then it was perfectly acceptable to hunt whales. Nowadays, not so much. 

Whaling wasn't for the meek. Imagine trying to harpoon one of these massive creatures. I don't read German, but I think this whale is saying, "Don't mess with me. I'll smash your ship to smithereens." Sadly, the whalers often won the battle.

This whale looks scary until you notice the pom-pom sticking out of its blow hole. I think the artist meant for this to look like a water spout, but all I can picture are whales waving their pom-poms around and yelling out cheers. "Give me a W! Give me a H! Give me an A! Give me an L! Give me an E! What does it spell? WHALE!! Go WHALES!"

When the whaling ships left New Bedford, Massachusetts, they would be gone for years. I guess Margaret's mother had a choice - stay behind and wait or join her husband on the whaling ship. She, like many other whaling captains' wives at the time, chose the crazy option - she went with him. Can you imagine being the only woman on a boat full of whalers, giving birth to your children on board and praying you would survive storms at sea?

Was she crazy or adventurous? Maybe a little of both. 

My mom assigned me a task to track down Margaret's birth certificate. I'm not sure why I got this particular task. Maybe because I can read a little bit of French. Although my French is pretty limited to saying things like pain au chocolat and haricots verts. Useful words if you want to eat lots of gooey chocolate pastries and then feel better about your gluttony by polishing off a plate of green beans, but perhaps not as useful for reading historical records.
I headed down to the Church of Latter Day Saints in Palm City on Saturday to visit their Family History Center. Mormons are really into genealogy and have done a phenomenal job compiling all sorts of historical documents. 

I had a look at some of the Tahitian records on microfilm which have been digitized online. Isn't the handwriting amazing? I wonder if they even teach cursive and penmanship in school anymore.

The microfilm that I need hasn't been digitized yet, so they're sending it from Salt Lake City. Then I'll get to spend a few hours huddled over a microfilm reader trying to find Margaret and her sister's birth certificates and imagining what life must have been for two small girls and their mother living on a whaling ship.
Are you into genealogy? Would you have wanted to live on a whaling ship back in the 1800s?

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Images courtesy of The Graphics Fairy. 

23 September 2016

Morning Coffee | Random Thoughts & Oddities

Paul at Lat43 does these hysterical Morning Tea blog posts which are a brain dump of whatever pops into his head while he's writing them. I decided to steal his idea. Except, I'm drinking coffee while I write this and he drinks tea, so it isn't really stealing, is it? Fortunately, I'm not the only copycat out there.

So, here we go - all of the random nonsense floating through my head while I sip on my morning coffee.

  • I wonder if Paul will read this. I wonder if he'll sue me for stealing his idea. He's American. Americans like to sue each other.
  • I think Paul's American. Maybe he's Canadian. Sometimes, it's hard to tell the difference. If you're not sure, ask them to pronounce "about" and what their favorite coffee and doughnut shop is. If they say "aboot" and Tim Horton's then chances are they're Canadian.
  • The Canadians should start heading back to Indiantown Marina next month. During the high season, it's about half Canadian here. Maybe more. They're fun people.
  • When I moved back to the States after years living overseas, I was reminded how different things are here. Everything tastes sweet, including the bread. And the election cycle goes on for far too long. 
  • The first presidential debate is next week. I don't have a TV so it looks like I'll be missing it. I can't decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
  • She made them in an Omnia stovetop oven. I want one of those, but I don't want to pay for it. They're pretty pricey. I keep hoping one will end up on the free table at our marina.
  • People shouldn't post pictures of yummy looking treats on their blogs unless they plan on coming over to your boat and sharing with you.
  • I used to catch the 6:00 AM flight from Portland to Salt Lake City on a regular basis for work. The only thing that made getting up that early bearable was the fact that I would get a cinnamon scone fresh out of the oven at the airport.
  •  That's a lie. The cinnamon scones didn't really make getting up that early bearable.
  • When I would travel from Scotland to Portland for work, I used to catch the 6:00 AM flight from Edinburgh to Amsterdam. That was a drag. The scones at the Edinburgh airport weren't that great. That was a really long flight. Well, three flights really. At least I got to fly business class on the company's dime.
  • I'm having oatmeal for breakfast. Not as tasty as a scone, but still pretty tasty especially if you put  brown sugar, raisins and peanut butter in it. Kind of like eating an oatmeal raisin cookie with a spoon.
  • People in other countries don't get peanut butter. Americans get peanut butter.
  • The WiFi keeps cutting out. I wonder if I'll be able to post to the blog today.
  • I need to get another cup of coffee. Don't go anywhere.
  • Okay, I've got another cup of coffee. I take mine with milk. No sugar.
  • I like how they say, "Do you want a coffee?" in British English speaking countries. Americans say, "Do you want some coffee?" Something to do with countable vs. uncountable nouns. Grammar can be fascinating at times.
  • I started reading a Regency romance set in Sierra Leone for my Around the World in 80 Books challenge. I think it's the first Regency romance I've ever read. So far, I've haven't learned anything about Sierra Leone. But I have learned that buccaneers are very dashing and irresistible to the ladies.
  • I visited Sierra Leone when I was 19. That was a really long time ago.
  • I'm not sure what a buccaneer is. Are they different from pirates? I could ask my friend, Mr Google what the difference is, but the WiFi went out again.
  • Some people who live on sailboats are into the whole pirate thing. They dress up in pirate costumes.
  • I don't like costume parties.
  • I want to try to write 3,000 words today.
  • I had to have one of the sheriff's deputies do a VIN inspection on my vehicle. He was a very serious fellow. He was pleasant enough, just really serious. I wonder what he was thinking about - maybe cinnamon scones?
  • The deputy's uniform was really crisp. Not a wrinkle on it. I've noticed that about law enforcement officers (not that I've run into that many in my time, mind you) - their uniforms are always wrinkle free.
  • What's the difference between a police officer and a sheriff's deputy? The WiFi still isn't working.
  • All of my clothes are wrinkled. I don't own an iron. That might have something to do with it.
  • My coffee cup is empty. I better go try to be productive and see if I can find WiFi.
  • I got the graphic of the kettle from the Graphics Fairy. A great site for copyright free/public domain images. 

What random thoughts popped into your head today?

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21 September 2016

Wordless Wednesday | Old Sailing Book

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - When we downsized and moved onto our sailboat, we had to get rid of a lot of things including an old Adlard Coles sailing book. We took pictures as a memento.

2 - I love the old advertisements. I want a pair of those beach ballet shoes.

3 - We don't fly any burgees on our boat. 

4 - Since we don't belong to a yacht club, maybe I should make our own burgee. I think I'd have our symbol be a plate of brownies.

What words does this picture bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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19 September 2016

5 Frugal Things | Keeping The Cruising Kitty Happy

Katy at The Non-Consumer Advocate regularly posts about five frugal things she's done. Some things are big, some things are small, but they all help keep her spending down and her savings up. I've shamelessly stolen her idea (as many others have) and started to share my five frugal things on occasion. It's a great way to inspire me to keep looking for ways to top up our cruising kitty (fancy sailing talk for savings). Maybe it will inspire you to find ways you can save for your personal goals and/or stretch your income further.


1 - Flip-Flops

Pretty much the only thing I wear on my feet these days are flip-flops (aka jandals or thongs). I've found that the 99 cents flip-flops from Walmart last far longer than the more expensive ones. Walmart always has a big tub of them on sale but the stock has been getting picked over lately and I'm not sure if they'll be restocking. So I grabbed a couple of pairs while I could to tuck away for when I need them. And the best part is, one pair rang up as a children's size (they still fit me) and only cost 50 cents. So two pairs of flip-flops for $1.49. Bargain. Not necessarily the most attractive shoe out there, but a bargain nonetheless.

Frugal Lesson - Sometimes, it's worth stocking up on something when the price is right.

2 - Dominoes

I have a group of friends that I get together with regularly. One of the great things about this gang (and there are many great things is that we're all living on relatively tight budgets. That means we're all happy to visit over a game of dominoes and have a potluck, like we did this weekend, rather than go out someplace to eat or pay for entertainment. Sure, I lost, but I still had a blast.

Frugal Lesson - Having fun doesn't have to cost a dime.

3 - Coupons

I don't normally use coupons as I generally don't buy the types of things they have them for. But when I was at the store the other day, as I was putting a package of chicken sausages (surprisingly, they're quite tasty) in my cart, I noticed it had a coupon on it. $2 off any Minute Rice product. Okay, I know what you're thinking - Minute Rice? But, seriously, this stuff is magic. It cooks up in minutes (clever name, they've got) which saves on propane. A box of brown Minute Rice costs $1.98 which means that it was free. Free is always good. But, wait, there's more! The Minute Rice had a coupon on it for 75 cents off of a can of Dole pineapple. While I normally buy the generic version, the Dole kind came out cheaper with the coupon. I like pineapple. It's a happy sort of fruit.

Frugal Lesson - Sometimes, brand names can be cheaper than generic, especially with coupons.

4 - Chop, Chop

Okay, here's a way that I've saved money for the past year. However, before I tell you about it, promise me that you won't try this at home. Consider yourself warned. Are you ready? Here's the secret. I haven't had my hair cut professionally in ages. If you saw my hair, you would know that this isn't necessarily a good thing. I made the mistake (aided by a couple of glasses of wine) of cutting my own hair last year. I saw this video about putting your hair in a ponytail and chopping it yourself. Seemed sensible. It probably wasn't. A friend evened it up for me later. Since then, I've just been letting it grow out, wearing it up pretty much all the time  and trimming my bangs as needed. Maybe one day I'll let a professional have at it, but in the meantime, just think of all the money I've saved! It's a good thing I never really liked my hair to begin with. At least that's what I tell myself.

Frugal Lesson - Maybe being frugal, isn't always a good thing.

5 - Star Trek

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I haven't seen the new Star Trek movie. I had planned on going to a matinee at a nearby movie theater but for some reason they stopped showing Star Trek only a few weeks after it opened. It was playing at another movie theater, but ticket prices are higher and it's farther away (more gas to get there), so I made the brave decision to skip seeing it in the theater. Eventually it will come out on TV or I can check it out of the library or somehow score a DVD at some point. Crazy, huh, what folks will do to save a buck.

Frugal Lesson - Good things {or cheaper things} come to those who wait.

What things have you done to save money lately? Any frugal tips and tricks to share? How much do you normally spend on shoes?

You can find more links to blog posts from ourselves and others on how much we spend and how we try to save money on this page.

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16 September 2016

Eek, I Pressed Very Scary Button!

I have lots of buttons, switches, levers and the like on my boat.

Some are pretty ordinary, like the one on the back of my alarm clock which you press to turn the annoying beeping off. I can't remember the last time I set an alarm. Ah, the blissful life of the intentionally unemployed.

Then there's the tiny on/off switch on the overhead light fixture. Yep, I know, it's definitely showing its age. I bet this looked really snazzy when our boat was built 29 years ago. You know what's been on my boat project list forever? Changing out the light bulbs to LED ones. One of these days.

This is one of my favorite buttons. You press "power" and it makes cool air magically flow through your boat. Absolutely essential if you're going to spend the summer in southern Florida.

This is a very important button. When the water tanks on my boat are running low, sometimes the fresh water pump keeps running, desperately trying to get every last drop out of the tanks. This is not a good thing. The last thing we want is for the motor to burn out and for me to have to add something else to my boat project list. The easy solution - turn off the water pump at the board.


But the buttons on your computer can be the scariest of them all. They're the ones you press when you want to submit something online. Usually, I'm okay with it, especially when I'm buying something fun on Amazon.

But the other day, I used my computer buttons for evil. Okay, maybe not evil. That's a bit dramatic. I used them for torture. That might be closer to the truth. Torturing myself, mind you.

I decided to submit a short story to the online Critique Circle. You willingly put yourself out there and ask people to critique your work. See, that's a form of torture. You wait and wait and wait, hoping someone will critique it. Torture. Then you panic when you realize someone has critiqued your story, but you're afraid to read what they said. More torture. Then you have to take what everybody said on board and make more revisions to your story. Extreme torture.

Stupid button.

What kind of buttons do you have in your house, boat, RV or where ever you call home? Have you ever asked anyone to critique a story or other creative endeavor? How'd it go?

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14 September 2016

Wordless Wednesday | Weird Stuff

Wordless Wednesday is supposed to be about posting a photo(s) without any words. But, I'm a rule breaker, so here are a few words:

1 - Sometimes, you see some really weird stuff.

2 - Weird stuff should be photographed whenever possible.

3 - Looking back at pictures of weird stuff can bring a smile to your face.

4 - Smiling is good. Try it. You'll like it.

What words does this picture bring to your mind when you look at it?

For more Wordless Wednesday fun, click here

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12 September 2016

An Ordinary Day In Indiantown & Gratefulness

Greece - where we were headed to on 9/11

Yesterday I was thinking about the fact that fifteen years ago Scott and I were waiting at the airport in Portland, Oregon for our flight to JFK. From there we were due to catch a connecting flight to Athens, Greece. Needless to say, that trip didn't happen. We sat in the airport watching events unfold on the TV monitors in shock, grateful that we were safe.

With the events of 9/11 in my thoughts, I spent the day yesterday trying to be mindful of all that I have to be grateful for. It was a very ordinary day. Nothing special. Nothing too exciting. Just ordinary. But even in the most ordinary of days, if you pay attention, there are things to be grateful for.


Like food storage...

Even when I haven't been to the grocery store for a while, I know that there's always plenty to eat squirreled away on the boat. I might not have the fixings for a gourmet dinner, but I can always find something to throw together, like canned soup and Ryvita crispbread.

That sentence there - "I can always find something to eat." That's something to be grateful for. So many people struggle to find anything to eat on a daily basis. The only hunger I've known is self-induced from some crazy diet. I've never experienced true hunger, for which I'm grateful.

And meeting interesting people...

I was hanging out at the communal kitchen at our marina yesterday with some friends and met the most interesting couple who were passing through on their boat. They shared stories of their Cajun culture and what it's like to live in Cajun country in Louisiana (which I learned has nothing to do with New Orleans). They painted such a vivid picture of large family gatherings, big pots of gumbo and dancing to zydeco music.

It made me grateful for the reminder of the rich cultural diversity we have in the States and the importance of valuing that diversity.

Getting frustrated with writing...

I spent much of the day endlessly revising a short story and getting very frustrated in the process. And then I thought about a friend of mine who struggled with dyslexia growing up long before they even knew what dyslexia was. Reading and writing was a real challenge for him in school.

So while I tore my hair out yesterday trying to find the perfect words and turn of phrase, I reminded myself that many people struggle with dyslexia and literacy, with basic reading and writing. I was lucky - reading came easily and I choose to write stories for fun. A good reminder that my frustrations are of my own making and that they're frustrations others might be grateful to have instead of the true hardships that they face on a daily basis.


So, that's what was on my mind yesterday. I know, not the usual silly fare that you've come to expect from the blog, but sometimes it's good to just take a step back and reflect on things. But don't worry, I'll be sure to make it up to you later in this week when we get back to our normal programming.

What does an ordinary day in your life look like? What are you grateful for?

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