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.
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.
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.
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 (www.graniteunited.com 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. (www.thesoutherngrind.com)
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 http://www.alwharf.com
Thanks for a great cup of coffee and a delightful find Southern Grind! Can’t wait to see you again!
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.
I guess you could call me a little old fashioned, but I still take great pride in the country where I have been blessed to be born and raised. I wasn’t brought up in an extremely patriotic family, but as I grew up I developed my own sense of patriotism and love for America. I’ve always been a history enthusiast so learning about our past is something I enjoy. America has always stood for what I believe to be many of my core personal values. Sadly though, I think we’ve taken some of our ideals to absolute extremes. Our country was founded on liberty, justice, and freedom. Where is the limit in these ideals? As our country has aged and our morale values and ideals have changed, has it become common place to use the excuse of liberty and freedom to push our personal beliefs on those who don’t agree?
I was raised in a very conservative home. My parents passed their beliefs and morals on to us. Eventually I formed my own way in the world and while I did expand some of my core values, I find that many stayed the same all these years. Yet while I know that most of my ideas are against the popular opinion these days, I would never treat anyone badly because of their beliefs or values. The reason is because above my own personal opinion I attempt as much as possible to follow the biblical principle that Jesus taught us long before America was even dreamt of in that time. “Love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, body and soul.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is a great deal of interpretation in the latter of the two but I feel like more and more everyday I’m watching as people from all different walks of life are getting away from loving our neighbors to a point of barely tolerating each other! I see this on both sides of the political and social issues. We believe what we believe and we can’t get past our issues to see deep down that we all need to be LOVED the way we love ourselves!
So I wanted to point out somethings as a Modern day American we can all be proud of and maybe even meditate on tomorrow as we celebrate America’s birthday:
- We live in a country that despite what you believe religiously, morally, or socially you are not being killed for those ideals. Sure you might not get along with everyone but you’re not DEAD.
- We are one of the most generous nations on the planet.
- America is truly beautiful. Our nations different regions hosts everything from gorgeous coastal cliffs and beaches to mountain peaks and deserts.
- Opportunity! While we might not agree on the disparity of certain racial groups there truly is opportunity in America if you are willing to work hard!
- America has such a diverse culture! It’s richly woven into the fabric of our history. From Chinatown to Little Italy, our cultural background is a beautiful tapestry!
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!
So much has changed in my world in the last two months. yesterday it changed even more. I bought a boat. I purchased a much loved 32 ft. Allied Seafarer sailboat. She is beautiful! The Deja Vu is my new baby. I’m a little concerned that Ava will be a little big for enjoying her at sea but for now she’s enjoying watching me refinish this girl!
The boat really wasn’t in bad shape. She had been cared for by the same owner for over 25 years and age is the only reason he was sailing this beauty. Her lines are absolutely gorgeous. She needs a bath, all of the wood will need to be sanded down and stained, and the inside will need to have some minor remodel work, but in my opinion she is PERFECT. Ava enjoys laying on the deck and watching me as I wash and clean. I think she mostly just enjoys being outside. I’m interested to see how she will do if were were to get underway. I will definitely be looking into getting Ava a life jacket. I’ve heard ok things about the life line netting but she’s so large she could jump overboard if she cared too. Thankfully, she’s happy to lay here thumping her tail in joyful exuberance.
My disposition has become a little sunnier since purchasing the Deja Vu. I guess she gives me something to dream about and to keep me busy. Things between Ken and I have not changed. I only communicate with him via text messages and when I do it’s just him letting me know something else he feels I should be responsible for. I need to get back on the career track soon or no amount of work I put into my new baby will matter because I won’t be able to afford her! For now though, she makes me smile and dream, something I’ve not done in awhile. I never realized until just recently how I have operated under so much stress. I don’t even really know how to relax. Even when I’m laying out by the pool, soaking in the Vitamin C, my mind is racing and I have to tell myself to take deep breaths, listen to the ocean, SLOW DOWN! Not something I am accustomed to. I think it’s what pushes me though to keep moving. If I slow down, if there is no momentum I feels as if I’m wasting my life away. I need to learn that rest is not waste and I need it sometimes.
I hope to have some before and after pictures of the remodel of the Deja Vu. I found her name rather fitting. Here I am finding myself in the same place I always am. This time I’m going to do things differently. This time instead of trying to fill me life with people who love me I’m going to learn to love me, because quite honestly I don’t like the girl in the mirror most days. I’m too hard on her often for choices she was forced to make, not ones she really wanted to. I want to be able to make choices because they are right for me not out of the necessity of being something or someone everyone else needs. That’s rather frightening territory after 20 years of living for others.
Time to get back to work, sailor! Happy Hump Day!