Alabama Gulf Coast · divorce · dogs · Fairhope, AL · Government · Gulf Coast · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

We did it! The little engines that could…

Ava and I officially live aboard my new boat! A few weeks ago, I came across a 38′ Rhodes Seafarer. The Rialto Zephyr had been well taken care of for a girl her age and I couldn’t pass up the deal. She’s large enough that Ava and I are able to live comfortably aboard. We’ve now fully moved in and it’s been interesting to say the least! Ava has adjusted to ship board life fairly well. I did however discover that I MUST close the hatch covers before I leave if she is staying on board. She has learned how to push them open and jump out! A few times I caught her out making friends with other boaters.

Life is different now. Not bad different, but different none-the-less. I’ve met some very interesting people at the marina. Sailors, Gypsys, Nomads. We have a lot in common. I love their stories, their personalities. They reflect a kaleidiscope of colors in our society.

Our journey through the intercoastal was incredible. Well, until we hit Point Clear, and by hit I mean literally hit a sand bar about 1 1/2 miles off the beach. We were watching dolphins play around the boat. What we didn’t realize was they were actually running the fish into the shallow sand bar. An hour later, we were able to free the Rialto Zephyr only to run aground again. I’ve learned that you if you see dolphins swimming fast towards the beach, you should probably go the other way. They are running the fish into shallows and your boat will end up in the shallows too if you don’t haul ass out of there!

It’s been an adventure to say the least but one that I’ve loved every second of.

Ava and I are starting to get back on our feet again. I was able to get a job working in the marina where my boat is. I love the boatyard and the work that happens there. Watching the guys resurrect a derelict boat and handing the client a beautifully painted work of art is amazing! Unfortunately, my job and my home has been a fight for the last two months. The city of Fairhope voted to take the marina over. Since part of my contract with the marina was that I have free slip rent, I’ll be paying the city that now. I’ve ruffled some feathers over how the city has handled the take over and I’m sure I’ve made enemies. I just can’t sit by and watch them run over the little guy or in my case, girl. Catherine, my boss, was handed a disaster. Her father had run the marina for years and not necessarily in the best management practice. The marina definitely needed repairs and upkeep, but Cat came in with a plan. Sadly it seems the city had a plan as well and that has been to shut her down. I’ve never been on to get into politics but I felt like I couldn’t watch this happen without voicing my concerns. Now it seems I’m being played out as the disgruntled employee, angry about her free lease ending. The city strategically took out sources of revenue at the highlight of the season by tearing down the fuel dock, then they voted to take the marina over, and now it appears they have secretly emailed clients telling to to demand their money back in order to pay rent to the city.  While it may not change my situation, if nothing else I want answers for our clients and residents of this city. Did the people of Fairhope write a blank check to the city for the renovations of a project that will cost over $2 million?

Enough of my work rant, other than the above mentioned struggles, Ava and I have made friends, found a new church, and maybe found a little piece of heaven here in Fairhope, AL. I wake up every morning to the sounds of rigging, clinking and tinkling, the bay lapping at the shore and boat, and beautiful sunrises. At night, I’m rocked to sleep by the waves and the gently tinkling of the rigging again. I can’t ask for more right now. I am healing.


divorce · dogs · Pets · Uncategorized

Navigating Separation: 10 Things NOT to say to your friend during a Separation/Divorce

So I know this is a travel blog and yes, it’s primarily about my dog Ava, but I want to be real with my readers, the few of you that there are LOL! I am almost officially at month 4 of being separated from my husband.Never thought it would get to this point, but here I am and NO it’s not any easier.

I wanted to take a moment and address some of the mistakes I’ve had happen along the way. Not necessarily things I’ve done, but things well meaning friends and family have done or said to me. I probably would have made the same mistakes if roles had been reversed so this isn’t a blast but a “hey if you want to be encouraging or helpful DON’T DO or SAY this”. Here we go:

1) Most of you know I’m a believer, a Christian. While sending verses and encouraging messages is helpful, I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with the “God has a plan” bit. I know He has a plan, I know it’s a great plan but right now this part of the plan hurts. Somedays it’s physically painful and on those days it doesn’t feel like a great plan. It feels like one of those plans that some how went awry like a Chevy Chase National Lampoon’s Vacation plan. I know people mean this in a way to say that God will see me through all of this and that He wants good for me, but most days I wish we could have just stuck to the ORIGINAL plan which was that my husband and I stay married forever.

2) “You’ are strong. You’ve been through worse/or even better this is the second time you’ve experienced this, you should know how to handle this.” THIS IS QUITE POSSIBLY THE DUMBEST, HURTFUL THING SAID YET.  Yes, this wasn’t my first marriage. Yes, that marriage ended up in absolute disastrous flames, but it was an entirely different situation. When that ended, I was downright THANKFUL that it had. I do not feel that way about my husband right now. Yes, I know this type of hurt, but you know what it’s DIFFERENT. Do I know that I’m strong? Yes, I know, but somedays it would be nice for someone to acknowledge that somedays it’s ok not to be strong. It’s ok to breakdown and want to eat ice cream and potato chips and drink soda and cry.

3) The “girl he don’t know what he’s missing” campaign. While I get that this is meant to empower me, make me feel good about myself, most days it actually has the opposite effect. Maybe he doesn’t know what he’s missing. Maybe he isn’t missing me at all. Maybe he knows and he’s decided he doesn’t mind missing it. At any rate, I hate when people say this to me.

4) “I’m jealous. You get to start over and live YOUR life”. What’s to be jealous of? The fact that if I wanted to live “my” life is that I wouldn’t have remarried. You’re jealous of legal issues? Or maybe it’s the endless nights I spend awake trying to figure out what went wrong. Don’t tell me you are jealous of my freedom when in reality I’m a slave to the what if’s.

5) “I hate him”  Here’s the thing I can hate him, you can’t. I love him, still love him, maybe will love him for years to come. There are other ways to share your frustration with what I already know to be a frustrating situation. Instead you can say you understand it’s hard.

6) “I don’t know how you are getting through this?” GUESS WHAT ME EITHER!

7) “Let me know if you need anything”- I don’t like asking for help so if you’re offering be specific. It could be something as simple as asking me if I’d like to have dinner or chill out and see a movie. This is the vaguest statement and I will feel as if I’m burdening you because I feel like my situation is a BURDEN. It certainly is for me.

8) Who cheated? OMG guess what NEITHER OF US DID!

9) “Why did this happen?” You know what I have no idea. See above sleepless nights and what if questions. Besides do you really want to know? You are only going to get my side of the story and quite honestly it’s filled with some pretty big questions.

10) Last but not least “THERE ARE MORE FISH IN THE SEA” Do I look like the Gordon’s Fisherman? I don’t care if there are more fish in the sea. The assumption that I’ll just get over this marriage if I find another relationship is STUPID! Maybe I wanted this person! Maybe the thought of being with someone else is not only revolting but frightening and right now the feelings of LONELINESS are pretty dang high. So this doesn’t make me feel confident, or excited to meet anyone new, or even consider meeting anyone new.


Ok, so I’ve probably come across as a pretty ugly word at this point, but I am trying to be helpful to those who maybe know someone in the situation I am in. Really right now what I could use is a friend to spend time with, to make my life feel somewhat normal. Just getting my mind from dwelling is a welcomed break. Don’t think we have to talk about my separation, we don’t. But, don’t think it’s not ok to ask about my husband because it is. I want to know that this is real. That the loss I’m experiencing is real, but sometimes it’s ok to be able to watch Bridget Jones’s diary with a bottle of red wine and reenact the opening scene because I am all by myself and I don’t mind embracing the absurdity of it.

Maybe this will be helpful to some, maybe it will make me out as a huge jerk, either way time keeps ticking on.


divorce · dogs · Pets · Uncategorized

Tea Time: Heartfelt Memories

I was never a big tea drinker. For a southerner, we had an usual tea deficit in our home. Our drink of choice was Kool-Aid, which I now account for my ADHD addled mind. When Ken and I met, he was an avid tea drinker. I remember unpacking box after box of empty and half filled Teavana canisters and realizing he might have a problem. This knowledge was solidified when I discovered he had over 4 different style tea pots. His obsession became one of our most cherished routines. After his stint in rehab for substance abuse, he quit drinking alcohol for nearly two years. Instead of a night cap, it became a tea cup. As I would put the kids to bed, Ken would brew a pot of tea and create an assortment of snacks; olives, cheeses, fruits, crackers. He would arrange them on a little wooden tray and then carry them to our room. I remember climbing into bed and sitting cross legged with him as he poured our cups. We would discuss our day, our good and bad, our dreams and vision. To this day it’s one of the most romantic sweet memories I have.

I wish we could go back to those simpler times before everything fell apart. Have you ever had one routine that no matter how many times  you’ve tried to disassociate the emotion from, you just can’t? That’s tea time for me now. Instead of the peace that holding a steaming cup of chamomile gave me, it now sends tears down my face. Tea time shouldn’t feel like this. It should be safe and warm, comforting.

Ava enjoyed tea time as well. It was a signal to the end of our day. She would always nestle at our feet. I guess it was peaceful for her as well. Her ears twitched back and forth as Ken and I talked. She listened attentively to our conversation. I guess the tone of our voices were soothing. She’s more restless now. At night she becomes anxious around 9pm and begins to whine. That’s about the time we would begin our tea ceremony. I don’t know that she realizes this or if it’s just time that she knows we would have been settling down for the night. Either way, the sadness that this creates for me crashes over me like a wave. I can’t explain to her why he no longer comes home or why nothing smells like him anymore.

Life goes on though and maybe one day the tears won’t flow down my face. Maybe Ava won’t whine and remind me of our sorrow. For now though, I’ll muddle through like everything else. I hope Ava understands the best way a dog possible can.




dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Sailing with a Large Dog:


When I first started dreaming about living aboard a sailboat, one of my largest concerns was how would Ava adjust to the small living space or even really being on a boat all together. While she loves the water and has been around it most of her life, she’d NEVER been aboard a boat. I wanted her to get used to the idea and also to start going over some of the ABSOLUTE rules. Let’s face it, Ava’s a big girl and one of my reoccurring nightmares was that she 1) knock me overboard, 2) that she fall overboard because it’s really hard to get back up on the boat for me. I can’t imagine trying to drag her 115 lbs. body from below. I started by taking her over to the marina with me when I’d go to clean. I always make her sit while I pull the boat closer to the dock. I also almost ALWAYS have her board before me. I’ve found that if she is onboard and steady on her feet I can ask her to move back and she happily jumps down into the cockpit.

The picture below shows her standing on the stern of the boat. This was her first favorite place. The cockpit of the boat isn’t all that large but from standing on the stern she can see me in the cockpit and the cabin. As I’ve mentioned before, Ava likes having me in her line of sight ALWAYS. She tends to get nervous if she can’t see me. On the first day, she was really nervous about how the boat would get near the pier and then float away. She couldn’t seem to understand that this didn’t mean to jump off the boat every time the pier was close enough to reach. Eventually she ignored the bumps of the pier and the rock of the boat. After a few days of learning how to wait till I pulled us to the pier, she really settled down.

Once I thought she was comfortable enough getting on and off, we started to explore the cabin and the bow of the boat. She wasn’t particularly fond of the cabin at first. While there is more room in the cabin than the cockpit, it’s a small narrow space. Well that was until she found she could lay on the cushioned seats! Now whenever I walk into the cabin she happily jumps down the companionway onto the seats. IMG_1457

She very cautiously made her way to the front of the bow yesterday. I don’t think she would try to go up there by herself just yet, but when she saw me climb the and sit at the pulpit she joined me. There is definitely more room there so she was able to walk around and stretch out.

There are definitely some disadvantages to having a large dog on a sailboat, but I think if you take the careful time planning it can be an enjoyable experience. Ava and I are mostly day cruisers, spending time just here locally on the Bay. She is not ready for anything longer than that right now. I would eventually like to be able to spend longer time at sea, but that will involve potty training her for the boat. Another issue for sailors who long distance sail with large dogs is that many marinas don’t allow large dogs. You always want to contact the marina you plan on docking at and checking their policy or you might get a surprise when you arrive. If your dog is too large for you to carry, you might want to work on training them to get into a smaller boat or dinghy. Many marinas will have you anchor out and have a service to pick you up. I’ve been extremely lucky that the marina where I dock is very pet friendly. There are grassy areas for her to “take care of business” before we leave and since we just sail for a few hours, that works for her. I’ve read some tips on potty training your dog for long distance sailing. I’m going to research that a little more and then I’ll let everyone know how it goes. For now Ava is learning to be a sailor and I’m happy to have my sweet girl join me on the water.

divorce · dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

I Like Big Cups and I Cannot Lie: Southern Grind Coffee Shop at the Wharf


I decided early this morning to get out of the house. I was in a bit of a funk yesterday and I knew if I didn’t SNAP OUT of it, I would remain that way for an indefinite amount of time. I’ve really been missing the friendship of my church family in Salem, NH ( For anyone in that area CHECK IT OUT) so I thought I’d visit a church I’d heard really awesome things about. Church, however, has become a painful experience for me lately. Ken and I were faithful and volunteered in several ministries. We served beside each other and I loved every second of playing the keyboard while he played bass guitar. Now, I’m usually brought to tears at worship songs that we played together and attending church nearly brings me to hysterics. So, I talked myself out of going, which made me feel even worse actually. My mom had seen the mood I was in and suggested that we head over to the Eastern Shore of Alabama to the Orange Beach or Gulf Shores area. The weather was beautiful and I thought well at least I’ll get my mind off my troubles. I’m so glad I went because we explored the Wharf, a shopping and dining stop, that offered everything from beach style bars to home furnishings. It’s also the home to my new favorite destination coffee shop, Southern Grind Coffee Shop. (

Southern Grind is the CUTEST, ocean/beach themed coffee shop I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. The cool turquoise and sand color palette immediately created a very serene atmosphere. The shop is filled with sea inspired decor, candles and artwork created by the owners themselves. Not to mention, they are DOG FRIENDLY! The outdoor seating area is fittingly called the “Pooch Porch”. There are water bowls, treats, food dishes and if you are in need of anything, don’t hesitate to let the baristas know and they will take care of you and your four legged friend!


I didn’t have the opportunity to dine in, but opted for a coffee that was spot on. The only downside of this little gem is that for me, it’s a little out of the way. However, you can bet that if I’m in the Orange Beach area I’ll be stopping by. Several of the dining venues offered pet friendly outdoor seating. The Wharf itself has a boat dock, an amphitheater for amazing concerts, mini-golf, and an arcade. It’s a great place to take the family for some fun!  If you’re looking for some “down-time”, they also had several spas to help you relax and get your beauty on. I was really impressed and will definitely make the Wharf at Orange Beach one of my weekend entertaining visits.

For more information on The Wharf at Orange Beach you can check out their website at

Thanks for a great cup of coffee and a delightful find Southern Grind! Can’t wait to see you again!

dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Uncategorized

Share Your World-July 3, 2017

For your main meal do you prefer sweet and sour, hot and spicy, ,spicy and sweet, bitter, salty, bland or other?

I more of a hot and spicy or salty kind of girl. I love curry and if I’m in a snacky mood, you’ll find me reaching for a bag of chips. I’m not big on bitter things and bland food.

Where do you hide junk when people come over?

Definitely in the closet! Or clothes in the bathtub with the shower curtain pulled.

What daily habit would you like to introduce to your life?

I want to get into the habit of doing yoga everyday!

If you were to perform in the circus, what would you do?

I would love to be the girl who performed with elephants. I’ve always loved them and their costumes were the most beautiful. I’m terrified of heights so the trapeze is out for me!

Optional Bonus Question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am extremely grateful that last week I was able to watch my son Brandon participate on a mission’s trip with our church, Granite United (Salem, NH) in Jamaica. Brandon has been looking forward to this trip for several months. I am so proud of the work he and his team did in Jamaica. They built a home for a man who was living in a shack but giving away everything he had to those in need. They volunteered at a school and helped out in an orphanage. I know this has been a life changing experience for him. This coming week he and his sister, Kaitlyn, my youngest daughter are home for the summer visiting me. I’m so happy to be with them again. I miss Kendall my middle daughter so much, but she’ll be joining us next month. I’m also looking forward to more work on the Deja Vu, my 32 ft. Allied Rhodes Seafarer. I can’t wait to take her out on Mobile Bay.  

dogs · Pets · Sailboats · Sailing · Travel · Uncategorized

Introducing my newest project

Here she is, the Deja Vu! And that’s me with my happy “what have I gotten myself into” face. Tomorrow I’ll start cleaning the outside and seeing what needs to be done to repair all the teak. From the look of it, it’s just dried out and needs to be cleaned and oiled. The outside will need to be scrubbed and then I can begin the full remodel on the inside. I will have before and after pictures as well as some of my DIY attempts. Dang it, I really wish I’d paid more attention when my Granny tried to teach me to see. I have all kinds of ideas for cushions and the V-Berth bedroom. Till then it’s time to dream a little before the really hard work starts!