'Til the butter melts

Pursuing the cruising dream in 32' of sailing ketch

Good People Lessons

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There is progress being made, really!

Now that Nicki and I have settled into our new, temporary home (thanks to the loving blessings of our land-people, Kathy & George, who have GIVEN us a place to stay while this eye thing sorts itself out) and have learned – all over again – how to survive in a climate that is seriously hostile to water infused carbon-based life forms, we have a few minutes to look at where we are and really reflect on our New Year, thus far.

Gratitude: That’s where we’re at.

This whole trip has been a surprise, of course. The eye was supposed to remain stable for months yet, we were “good to go” wherever, and “see you in the spring.” Our northern home (the RV) was carefully closed up for the winter and uninhabitable, our southern home (Sionna) was welcoming and familiar and oh-so-warm, most of the time…

So how does one undo all those careful arrangements?

Well first thing, of course, is that you panic. I always find that a good dose of panic, (seasoned with a touch of anger, denial and resignation) sharpens the mind wonderfully. I become hyper-focused on all the details I can’t do anything about, all the obstacles to a positive outcome. I become a proper fear-based creature, survival mode only.

And then I stop.

Not instantly, no, but gradually. My Ego (God how I hate him) stops screaming to take a breath, which generally gives me a chance to stuff a sock in his gob and wrap some duct tape around it, just to be sure…

And then I sit for a bit.

I get pretty quiet at this stage. You might, if you saw me, think that I’m deep in thought, but mostly that’s a ruse.

No, actually, I’m just trying to remember how to breath. You know, breathe in, breathe out, repeat.

Then I start to let go, and ideas flow. My mind is actually pretty good at this, if I don’t think about thinking too much. If I can have some quiet, away from Mr. Ego screaming “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE! THIS IS THE END OF LIFE AS YOU KNOW IT!” and all those other unhelpful things he likes to say, ideas come. Solutions bubble to the surface. The sun comes out a bit.

Friends offer to store our boat at their dock for free. They’ll watch her, check her bilges, adjust her lines, give her a little love.

The airline has a special rate on Christmas Day flights to Maine. $84 each, one-way.

A big fat nasty winter storm rips through the northeast, but our destination gets just a few inches of snow, the flight is early, and Uber is running anywhere in town we need to go.

Friends back in Maine hear that we are coming back, and why, and say “We’ve got a tiny apartment upstairs you can have as long as you need, no charge, glad to help…”

So that got us to Rockland, Maine. It’s cold in Maine. It’s cold almost everywhere in the US, actually. But the apartment is warm and cozy (most folks would say it’s claustrophobic, but if you’ve lived in a 32” sailboat, this feels positively palatial), and we are with dear friends in familiar surroundings.

Of course, the unexpected still happens. Due to a snafu with our health insurance, we have begun the year – and the initial steps of setting up the surgery – uninsured. When you live as close to the line financially as we do, that’s not a little thing.

But that appears to be working itself out. I have had several very good (if disappointing) conversations with folks in doctor’s offices and insurance offices, and all agree that, strange as it sounds, company and industry policy really ARE more important than the possible loss of vision.

Yes, Mr. Davie, we are comfortable increasing the risk of you loosing your right eye rather than adjusting the effective date of your policy by a few days.” Ah, America, where healthcare is a privilege, not a right.

Enter those friends who said “Keith, don’t you dare delay getting the care you need. If you need money, we have it and you can have it, no strings. Go get it done.” These are not rich friends, mind you. These are folks with a little nest egg who choose to share.

See a trend here? I do, and I still get teary-eyed, recalling it. Maybe we won’t need to tap that offer, maybe it can sit in the bank and do nothing but collect dust. We hope so. But knowing the offer is on the table, feeling the love and care that comes from people who are just being good people because that’s who they are…

Priceless.

I’m not good at asking for help – never have been. And maybe there’s a lesson in there for me. When you’re in a corner, when it’s really dark, when the cupboard is bare: say something. Forget about what’s on the TV and in the news and in your fearful dreams, and ask.

Good people are still good people, and they still outnumber the less-enlightened by a considerable margin.

I’ll take that lesson and run with it. Happy New Year, everyone.

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10 Things to Know Before You Go

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I don’t often share another blog directly on this page – I kinda prefer to use my own words.

But once in a while, someone writes something and I think “Dang, I wish I’d said that!’ Melissa on s/v Galapagos has done that, on their blog “Little Cunning Plan” – so here you go.

Little Cunning Plan – Ten things to know before you go.

Always looking for that perfect Fun:Suck ratio!

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