Monthly Archives: August 2009

Heroic Husband

I try to tell him often how thankful I am for all he does, but I’d like to brag about Jay publicly for a moment. Over the past year, he has shown me again and again why he is not only the perfect husband for me, but also why there’s no one else I’d rather go adventuring with. I mean, the dude can fix anything. You name it, he’s done it: plumbing toilets and sinks, water tanks, electrical, water heater, air conditioning, engine repair—even epoxy and Awl Grip are no match for Jay.

It is true he is not the most romantic or communicative man around, and we all have our areas of weakness, but he is so good at plodding along, one foot in front of the other, toward a goal. I admire his ability to detach emotionally from a problem and find a way to solve it.  (Maybe that’s why he’s no Romeo—I am a bit like a problem that needs solving, sometimes…) I know it is hard for him to balance work, projects, and family time, not to mention selling a house, traveling cross-country and trying to enjoy a little time on the water.

The tasks Jay takes on are often Herculean, but with his sensible nature, he reminds us all that slow and steady wins the race. (Can you tell we are studying Ancient Greece in our homeschool right now, with a focus on myths and fables?) Someday, our home will sail into the distance because he, little by little, discovered what makes this boat tick and repaired the things that don’t tick quite right. I just love that man.


Today I mark the passing of a friend. Sibyl was someone we met here, a friend of a friend on our dock. I will miss her greatly. I wrote this poem in tribute; she was a bird lover, an ornithologist as well as marine biologist. Her two cockatoos, Scout and Spike, were favorites with my kids. 


For Sibyl

I hope it doesn’t sound absurd
To say my friend was like a bird:

Often fussy, known to preen,
But sensitive to things unseen.

Sometimes silly, sometimes wise,
She had the knowing kind of eyes.

Always friendly and gregarious,
Loved to cackle, often hilarious.

Ruffled or flustered, would sometimes brood,
Needed some coaxing to alter her mood.

Had a gentle and caring way about her—
I can’t imagine the world without her.

Sometimes she tired of her earthly cage
And flapped and battered clipped wings in rage.

I wished for nothing more than this: that she
Could fly from her troubles and be free.

Fly free, my friend, fly free.

Moving Day

We always move the first week of August—it’s tradition.  So I wasn’t really surprised when Jay, upon reflecting that the summer was almost gone and we weren’t making any forward progress, declared that it was time to move.  Sunday, August 2nd (our twelfth anniversary, incidentally) marked the last time we packed up our things after visiting the boat. Monday we made it home. Although there are logistical challenges to making this kind of move, the real test is a mental one. Yesterday the house on dirt was called “home,” and today the floating house is called “home.”  We drove back and forth all week, loading and unloading the boat, and the house, and made frequent slips, saying, “I’m going home to get such-and-such, I mean, I’m going to the house…” Or, the kids, asking, “Are we going home yet?” and I unsure how to answer. 

All that confusion has now come to an end. After a year of flying between two nests, the mama bird has come home to roost. I write from my now-tidied and organized, cozy, little salon. The galley is crammed with kitchen gadgets I have learned to live without, and now appreciate more than ever, and the bookshelves are loaded with my most prized possessions, the few that are left after a savage culling. I have given away 15 boxes of books, so far, and will have to store the leather-bound volumes an old friend left to me when she no longer needed them. I brought only what I considered “necessities” but Jay’s condemning look as he loaded my homeschool boxes was almost more than I could bear. What have I weighed us down with that I really could do without?  I don’t know the answer to that question, because I’ve never done this before.

What is really mortifying is how much stuff we have left over. Anyone who knows me knows I seek to live a “simple” life—we don’t even know the Joneses, let alone try to keep up with them. We moved back to Florida to downsize, donating everything from our Atlanta basement, and have continued to make regular trips to drop things off at the Hospice Thrift Shop and Salvation Army. So it is truly shocking to see what is left after I have been hard at work for two months giving things away. Now that we are out of the house, I have been ruthless, but still, every time I open a closet or kitchen drawer, more stuff grins out at me. Where did it come from? Did we really think we needed it?  I feel that I am a great hypocrite (which I surely am): I who profess to be un-materialistic, have amassed a quantity of material things.  Many of these things are gifts which we graciously received, or duplicate sets of things from living in two places at once, but many were purchased frivolously, lumped into the “grocery” budget because Costco sells oh-so-much-more than food.  You know how I love a good sermon, so here’s one for me, “But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:8.  Only in trying to get rid of it have I seen how much more we possess than we need.

My one great joy in this cleansing process has been that so many have come into our lives needing exactly the things I am giving away.  That has made it easy to part with things which I would otherwise begrudgingly donate. We have all made small sacrifices to pursue this dream—giving away toys and books is hard for our children, too. The only “things” we haven’t yet parted with: Sugar and Spice, the family cats. I don’t think they want to spend their golden years surrounded by water, but we won’t be satisfied with less than a happy home to which to send them. Maybe someone out there is lonely for a pair of spinster cat sisters—I just hope we find that person soon!