Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day of the Dead, Personalized

                                                  November 1st is the Day of the Dead.

It is celebrated in most Latin American countries. It kind of has a sketchy reputation here in the US.

And I'll admit I was a bit creeped out by it myself. So I looked into it. It turns out the reality is not very scary at all. On the night of November 1st, families simply pay remembrance to their loved ones who have moved on. They acknowledge their memory. They celebrate their lives. They even have a party!

Many Mexican families also light candles on the graves of their loved ones and spend the night praying for their souls, telling stories, recalling fond memories, shedding a few tears, etc.

Actually, I think this sounds like a beautiful holiday and tradition. Here in America, when someone dies  it sort of feels like we rush to bury them and then move on with our lives as quickly as possible.

I don't know about you, but for me, those loved ones whom I have lost are always with me. I think of them often, and wonder what their lives would be like now if they were still alive. Even though they are gone, they live on in my heart and mind, with love, every single day.

So, in honor of The Day of the Dead, I want to share about a group of people no longer on this earth who made a gigantic impact on me.

                           In the 1980's I was a young pediatric nurse. I was invited to be
                        a nurse at hemophilia camp (I'm in the back row, 3rd from the right).

These boys, as you can imagine, were in heaven at Camp Blood Brothers, as it was affectionately called. For a full week, they could run, jump, swim, hike, climb trees -- basically do all of the things that the parents of little hemophiliac boys always tell them to NOT do.

       I was a nurse at hemophilia camp for four summers (I'm peeking my head out in the very back row). Each camp was fully staffed with doctors and nurses.

We basically let the boys fall and injure themselves, then with gigantic smiles on their faces, they were carried to our outdoor treatment center to be patched up and infused with IV clotting factor.

As we infused them with factor and tended to their bleeding wounds amongst the oaks and pines, they would laugh and joyfully tell us the stories of how they fell on their head or smacked their back on the diving board.

We simply let them be boys.

Unfortunately, in the early 80's this clotting factor was chock full of the AIDS virus. But nobody knew it at the time. So nearly every young man you see in these photos was HIV positive.

The camp counselors were young men with hemophilia. In their early 20's -- the same age as me -- these guys were unlike anyone I had ever met. Not only were they mentors to the little boys, they were just amazing human beings. They knew their days were numbered. They were scared to death. But they were determined to have fun, to live meaningful lives as long as fate permitted, and to help the young ones somehow find their way.

                         Most of the hemophiliacs you see in these photos have since died of AIDS.

When I volunteered for that first hemophilia camp, I had no idea what a profound, life changing, and yes, heartbreaking -- experience was in store for me.

As a pediatric nurse, I've always said that every year I've lived past the age of 21 have been gravy. I've been unspeakably blessed with a full life, full of love, a supportive family, meaning, laughter and diversions.

So on this Day of the Dead, I remember you, Marshall. And Steve. And Mark, And Eric...All of you. I celebrate your short lives. You will never know how many countless loved ones you inspired, and continue to inspire, to this day.

Because of you, I understand how fleeting life is, and how much we need to appreciate every joyful minute.

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Cook, Wine and Drinker: Boat Names from Hell."

Men have named their boats since that ancient day when they first figured out that you could carve out a log and go kayaking.

Men have also named their other modes of transportation. For example, when I was a girl my parents named our family Country Squire:


However, for whatever reason, naming cars has never really caught on as it has with boats. The importance of a boat's name cannot be underestimated.

There are several different categories of boat names. 

There are guys who name their boats after their jobs: 

"Hook, Line and Sphincter." Sadly, I can almost guarantee this is a gastroenterologist. Please, let it be a gastroenterologist...

District Judge? Wow. Hi-LARIOUS (not).   

Corporate raider

A military man

This nice looking guy thinks he's the first dentist to name his boat "Mental Floss." Sadly, he is not, and he won't be the last, either... :-/

Then there are the macho names:

the nonsensical names:

the names in very questionable taste:

(Please Lord, let this not be a gynecologist?!?!?!? Unfortunately, I'm at the point where nothing would surprise me...)

(this could be another gastroenterologist)

OK, this is a fascinating one. This girl posing next to this boat looks like such a nice person. But she also looks a little big scared. I would really like to take her out for coffee and ask her what she is doing going  to sea with a guy who would name his boat "Good Time Bitch." Escape while you still can, sweetheart! In fact, I wonder if she was ever seen or heard from again after this photo was taken? 

(Urologist? OK, OK, I'll stop picking on my esteemed doctor colleagues now... :-)

Consider yourselves warned, ladies...

You just know this is a Havasu boat...

Then there are boat names with really bad karma:

It's always a crap shoot to name your boat something like "Life is Good." I have a hard time with overly flowery and ultra-happy-happy, nothing-could-ever-go-wrong names like this. Because for some strange reason, boats with these kind of names tend to end up washed up on the beach. It's as if you're taking it all for granted. It's Karma.

Or, if you have the balls to call your boat "Rock Busters," then don't be surprised when your boat ends up washed up on the rocks!

Go ahead. Name your boat "Success." I dare ya...

                    My favorite boat names tend to be some combination of cleverness, simplicity, honest insight, playfulness or meaning:

                                                           Or our boat name.  "Espiritu."

I like it. It means "spirit" in Spanish. It's meaningful, but it's not too corny. And even though it's in a foreign language,  you can figure out what it means even if you don't speak Spanish. It's optimistic, but not pompous or ridiculous.

                                      In my humble opinion, "Espiritu" is juuuuuuuust right.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Just Do It.

                                               It's Crunch Time. One week 'til shove off.

You know those last weeks and days before a giant undertaking, like a big move or a big vacation?

Preparing for our sailing expedition is like a big move AND a big vacation, all rolled into one. So many financial issues to get arranged, as well.

                       Our to do list has shrunk from thousands of items to finally less than a hundred.

One problem is, certain things were knocked off the list, but then they crept back on again. Like our head (AKA "the toilet" in boat speak).

                          Ours isn't quite THIS utilitarian. But there are exposed pipes involved.

Anyway, poor Chris has repaired it like 4 times in recent months. I've heard that the head is the bane of every sailors existence, and we're finding that to be true.

Chris had it fixed again only last weekend, good as new. Last night at 0400, I heard frustrated moans and groans coming from the bathroom. Oh, no. On the fritz again. 

I had to go to the ladies room, so I needed to make the long walk up the dark dock to the marina restroom. 

I started hearing shuffling and noises all around me as I walked alone alone in the early morning darkness. 

We do, don't forget, live in San Pedro.

 Nervous now, I kept walking, despite some VERY loud noises coming from a nearby bush.

Finally,  the perp made himself known.

Oh.!    :-)

At night, our dock is swarmed with a small tribe of raccoons. 

They come down from the hill to feast on the shellfish living on the rocks and along the dock.

I've learned that the way to deal with raccoons when you come upon them at night is pretty much the same plan as if you should come upon "bad guys." Just nod your head, hunker down and keep on walking.

Anyway, I'm trying to fight the temptation to postpone our departure just because every little thing isn't perfect. 

Perfect does not exist.

Have you ever ran a competitive race or climbed a mountain? 

I have, and I'll tell you that each time I never felt as prepared as I could have been -- as I should have been.

But each time, by pacing myself and by conserving my energy, I did better than I feared that I would. I made it through.  I made it to the top. WE made it to the top. Together!

There is always an excuse for inaction. But the fact is this: Chris and I are as ready as two people can be to do this.

So, the lesson is this: