Friday, April 30, 2010

Unexpected Rage

Sibari, Italy---Something really strange happened on Tuesday as Shirish and I waited with others for the van driver to take us to market. As we stood against the railing separating us from the water below, the man from the boat tied up behind us stopped in front of Shirish.

Cheerfully Shirish said, "Are you coming with us?"

Then what followed was baffling. The Czech man spoke English well enough and "went off" on Shirish about what he felt Shirish was at fault for. Invading personal space, the man rambled on about letting water run when people around the World needed water. (huh?) Claiming Shirish's kids broke the lounge fridge and left the lights on all Winter (what? Shirish was there for 7 months, he showed up a week ago). Shirish tried but could not get a word in until he ran out of accusations. Finally, Shirish calmly tried to explain about Wintering there with little water usage, the water runs brown at first, it has served as our drinking water and our water filters are delicate...besides "is washing your boat a good use of water? We never wash our boat, the sea does that"...but the angry man didn't want to hear a thing.

It was nothing less than rage.

Then he threw in the "You Americans..." statement and I let out a big "Hey!" feeling extra defensive as well. The others in the crowd stood in stillness shocked at this display of anger.

At one point, I think I could have measured 3 inches between their noses as the Czech yelled and Shirish tryed to defend his boys and his actions.

The Czech was good friends with the Mean German who had recently shown up as well. He sited "witnesses" to all this claims and turned and stormed away.

Shirish was almost shaking with the anger that comes when you are not allowed to defend yourself. Having loaded onto the Van, we discussed the fact that Juno, makes electricity with 2 windmills, fresh water at sea with a water maker (converting sea water to delicious water!) and none of the accusations we remotely correct. He was just an angry man with an American chip on his shoulder.

When we returned from market, the Raging Czech's boat was gone. Moved, I'm sure, away from the "Americans."

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Sibari, Italy--- We are ready to leave for Greece and showed the Marina the charts that Shirish has been working on showing the depths of the channel. Every morning and night, Shirish and one of the crew has gone out on the dingy with a borrowed depth finder to chart the progress of the Italian workers digging us free.

Sometimes he has gone out three times a day. The entire channel from the Locks to the sea is only about ¼ mile. The tricky part is only the last 500 yards with the opening being only about 40 yards wide. But he has a route that he believes can get us out.
He showed this to the Boat Yard manager and the Marina manager and was told no. No one leaves until the Harbor Master, in another town, who is in charge of several marinas (Sibari being his smallest) must officially declare the channel “open.”

Our hearts just dropped when we were told no. There is a weather window perfect for us to leave on Sunday. If we don’t, a front is coming through
and it will be another week or even two if more sand gets pushed back into the channel.

We are ready to go, held captive by the Italians telling us we can’t.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An email to Sheri: I need to learn to cuss in Italian.

Dear Sheri, I only get on line every once and a while and then I have to choose: banking, facebook, my blog, read yahoo mail. If I KNEW I'd be in Italy this long, I would have bought a broadband stick for here, but every week we think THIS is the week we will leave, but then we check on the dredging and still, we wait. When we leave we head to Ithaca!!!! and then go thru the Corinth Canal!!! YESTERDAY I borrowed the Marina bike and 2 miles from HERE is a archeology dig!!!! 380 meters of a Roman road in great condition and Greek and Roman ruins. The Museum only 1/2 mile has 600BC metal plaque for an athlete from Sibari winning the Olympics. In 600 BC! Are you kidding me! OMG. They (Italian's) are like, "oh, look what we found in our back yard, (yawn) but it's ours. ours." it is mind boggling.

My Italian is terrible. One day I announced Bon Jovi instead of Buongiorno (good day) then I constantly say Prada instead of Prego (your welcome/please). So I'm walking around saying "American rock star and Italian eye and shoe wear" instead of anything THEY can understand.

Worse yet, yesterday, I let a business man, who looks like a cross between Mr. Wiffle and Rush Limbal, and lives at the Marina (a gated community) give me a ride (in his Mercedes) in his fine business suit and pin from the Masons on his lapel, to the Internet cafe (1 mile). I had met him before when he pulled off the highway and asked me to coffee on my 20 mile bike ride. This time, I thought, "just a shore ride, I don't want to hurt his feelings." I did not know what he was saying. I asked him what he did and he's either in healthcare, hospital or hospitality. I was saying "excuse me, I don't understand, thank you, thank you" in my bad Italian, until he (while driving) reached over and grabbed my right boob. HOLY CRAPPO. I yelled "no" and go for the international "I'm going to jump out of the car" gesture, wondering if my lap top would break my fall and he slowed down, continued to chatter on and kept his hand on my knee for another 2 blocks when I spilled out of the car at the cafe, bag, water all tumbling out. With talk around the Marina that the Italian Mafia owns the complex, I'm seriously afraid of pissing anyone off so I just rushed away saying "excussee, no, no gracie, no" and ducked into my internet cafe/hotel. I feel so stupid. Dirty Old Man.

I think I'll stick to walking and I need to learn to cuss in Italian. Love, Edee

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What is prosperity? A Frenchie, 2 Greeks, an Italian and a couple of Brits.

Sibari, Italy---Also staying at the Marina, are the most amazing couple of people; Jane and Neil from Britain. They live aboard an enormous old wooden fishing boat that they have re-rigged to travel aboard. It is brightly painted in pastel blue, red and yellow. The boat’s name is Prosperity and in the short time I knew them, I came to realize how well that name fit them.
They have lived this boating life for a very long time. I think Neil mentioned it had been 30 years since he slept in a house aside from visiting friends. They’ve each had other boats. The lifestyle fits.

When I first met them, it was just a hello and short chats in passing. Then I found myself intrigued by their stories and wishing for more, but afraid to overstay my welcome.
Jane wore her dark curly brown hair in braids on each side with her dangly silver earrings swinging as she talked. A petite silver nose ring did not look out of place. With her sharp wit, her eyes sparkled with her cheerful disposition. Neil looked like a cross between Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger, his long straight brown hair falling to his shoulders would make any man our age envious. His comments were always given with a laughing smirk and his dry humor had me beat.
Everyone in the Marina would know they were there before even seeing them. That’s because of the yelling. Not at each other, but mostly at Brian.

Pip, Harry, Brian and Spud (photos in order) are their dogs. Not small dogs either. All adopted along their travels. Add one male cat named Doris, yes, Doris, and you have a boatload of fur and a hysterical view when their dingy goes to the beach, appearing as if the dogs were in full control of the vessel.

There were tales of a Chicken that went to the Sea (sorry, couldn’t resist)… poor chicken drowned. And other animals but only Doris started with them.

Pip is a French dog, adopted in France because she followed Neil to the boat and wouldn’t leave. Next came Harry who was found along a path in Greece, barely alive, obviously dumped. So small he fit in Neil’s palm and his tiny legs dangled as if he were dead. They took him to the vet and pumped him full of liquids. It was touch and go, but aboard the boat it was Doris the Cat that planted himself next to the dog, never leaving his side and took on full guardianship of Harry. Harry is now a good 75+ pounds and to this day, the cat comes running to his aid if another dog challenges Harry! Then came Brian, nearly a repeat of Harry. Found in Greece, close to their boat, they had to decide; could they walk past this dying puppy for the next few days or add another dog? Brian made 3. Barely alive his nose had not even developed. After MORE Vet bills, Brian grew up to be a rambunctious, funny dog. His bark was the always the first, followed by the yell “BRIIIIIIIAAAAAN”, in unison by the Jane and Neil. Then came Spud, the Italian dog. Found just recently at the Sibari beach area. While running their dogs on the beach and a stray puppy joined them. After this, they packed up the dingy and headed back to the boat leaving the puppy on the beach. He looked healthy enough. But Spud had other plans, he swan after the dingy to the marina. At this point, they decided that a dog in the boatyard would have a better chance than not, so they helped him up the banks. Four adopted dogs, they thought, would make it harder to travel knowing that each country required doggy passports and papers on shots. Some require confinement. But that night, the puppy jumped in the water and swam around their boat scratching and yelping his way into their hearts. The next thing we all noticed (besides his very large paws---ah oh!) was the red collar on the light yellow puppy. Spud had a home.

Obvious to the onlooker, these two travelers lived with conservative means, like us. Doing repairs themselves and recycling anything possible. Living under their terms. Loving the water.

But besides rescuing all the dogs, their huge hearts showed through by their eagerness to help us out with everything from information, giving us specialized paint, books and maps, to lending us tools. Now that’s prosperity.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Finding peace in Pain

Sibari, Italy---After getting the news about my father’s death and the immediate emotions, I sulked around the Marina for a couple of days feeling a bit lost. Was not going to the funeral wrong? I now have no parents alive, how does that make me feel? Am I doing the right thing?

By Monday, I really had the need to leave the boat and just get away. Easier said than done when living on a boat with 3 others. So I borrowed the Marina’s bike; an old white one speed with a white basket on the front that was barely connected by one screw that you needed to tighten each time you stopped. I should mention that the wide tires would only inflate part way.

But I was off. Peddling down the road that turned into a small county road, that turned into a two lane highway. I had observed enough about other bicycle sightings and the crazy Italian driving habits to know partly, what I was in for. Imagine Interstate 4 as two lanes and both lanes honk and ANYTHING while using the yellow line in the middle as a passing lane regardless if there is room or not. Dangerous, yes. Going to stop me, no.

So there I was, sitting very upright like old bikes position you, looking a bit like the Witch in the Wizard of Oz before the house fell on her with my basket full of water and a backpack instead of Toto.

Two miles away, the archeological dig was closed on Monday, so I turned around and headed towards the town of Sibari, about 3 miles away. I decided to keep going and just peddled and peddled. The physical pain felt great. At the boat I had cried but really couldn’t yell and scream and pound my fists against anything. I couldn’t throw myself on the floor, cry and fall asleep on the cold hard dock without concerning my boat mates. So I peddled and poured all my grief into the pain. I headed to the mountain town of Villapiana but decided half way, to turn around and go see the sea from this angle. I was about 10 miles from the Marina.

Instead of the green-brown water locked in our Marina’s harbor, the water was the Mediterranean Blue. Beautiful. As I made my way back “home”, it came to me that my Dad, while volunteering with the Merchant Marines whose ship crashed into the dock in Greece, had rented a bike while stuck there for the two weeks it took to repair the ship. I felt a connection to his experience. It felt good imagining his exploring the countryside in Greece as I was doing in Italy, knowing that his future was not yet planned just like mine.

And then it was okay. Life is a circle; we all go round and round. Grabbing as much as we can in the window God gives us to enjoy this amazing planet.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dealing with my Father’s death

Alvin L. Dalke: September 25, 1923-April 22, 2010

Sibari, Italy---I had made a plan. But when the captain got the text from Mary Beth, handed me his Internet key and said “You need to Skype your sister right now,” tears welled up.

I knew the message I was about to receive. My ailing father who suffered another mini stroke the week before I left, had passed away.

It was good to have the ability to see my sister via Skype, and hear the news from her. We reviewed the plan; who would do what, cried and talked about our feelings now that it was real.

No one can really prepare themselves for how they are going to deal the death of a parent. I thought it through, a lot. I imagined getting a call someday. I went to California before I left to say goodbye in person (see blog post: Dec 4) I sorted through the feelings of not being at the funeral, I discussed it with several people including my self-adopted dad/hero/mentor, who is a Pastor in Tulsa, Ok. But when it really happened, nothing seemed to feel “according to plan.”

It was 9pm my time, nine hours ahead of California. He had died on the 22nd but in Italy it would have been the 23rd of April. After the Skype Video call, I climbed the companion-way stairs and said, “I’m taking a walk,” back towards the captain, tears rolling down my cheeks.

And there, walking around the marina under the stars over Italy, I let myself cry and cry. I have no idea how long I was gone but I ended up on a bench overlooking the sparse amount of docked boats, only to have the British couple and their 4 dogs walk by. Seeing my distress they sat down on each side of me and we chatted, one patting my back. As virtually total strangers, bound by the common thread of elderly parents, and a lifestyle far from home.

The one emotion that surprised me was the love I felt towards my Dad. I say this not to say I did not love him, but because of the dynamics of my family and his oddness, I always thought I loved him out of “duty” and “respect that he was my blood father.” But what I was feeling was real love. It took me this long to know.

Included are two writings. His basic eulogy and a story about him I wrote a couple years ago. Read on if you would like;

Alvin Levi Dalke was born September 25, 1923, in Henderson, Nebraska to Agnes and Peter Dalke. His father was a farmer there. During the Great Depression, when Alvin was about 5 years old his father took the family to Detroit, Michigan seeking work. They had no car so they got a ride with someone else. They settled in Garden City (Detroit suburb) and his father went to work at the Ford Factory. He worked the production line stamping parts on the Model T.

Alvin went to school up to the 11th grade in Michigan. At 17 he got a job with the Post Office delivering mail for about 3 months. He took a train to Hillsboro, Kansas to finish high school at Tabor Academy. He finished his 12th grade class in 1 semester which meant taking History class all day Saturday. He graduated from Tabor Academy.
He then went to Henderson, Nebraska and worked on a Farm for 6 months. He went back to Hillsboro where he was drafted for World War II. Due to working for the Post Office in his past, he had to prove that he was a Mennonite hence, a conscientious objector. Once he was investigated, he was sent to the Conscientious Objector (C.O.) Camp in Colorado Springs.
Note; like the Amish, Quakers, and several other religions, Mennonites are pacifists.

C.O. camps were set up as a way to serve the country without going to war. At camp, he volunteered to be a test subject for typical pneumonia, a government test in Pinehard, North Carolina for 3 months.

He volunteered to go to Greece for relief work. He joined the Merchant Marines do this. They left Houston, Texas on the S.S. Charles Woster with 150 pregnant Mares. The farmers in Greece needed the horses. Greece was very poor and suffering very hard times due to the war. It took 21 days to get there. There were no storms. At the port, the ship wrecked against the pier and it took 2-3 weeks to fix.
They returned to a port in Maine. He hitch hiked back to the C.O. camp center to get re-assigned. He only had 2 more weeks of service left on his record. They forgave the time owed and released him.
He went back to Garden City, Mi but no one would hire a C.O. due to the resentment associated with being a pacifist so he started a surplus business.
His father went to Newton, Kansas and bought a trailer park. Alvin followed and ran it for him. He met and married Adina Funk. They married July 24, 1956. Alvin and Adina lived on the grounds of the Trailer park in a 10’ x 20’ cabin and had 2 daughters: Ruth Loree in 1957 and Edith Louise in 1960. The 4 of them lived in the cabin until 1963 when he bought property on the edge of town in Newton.

In 1968, Alvin had a terrible accident when a car he was working on fell on him and pinned him for 5 hours. Near death, the neighbor boy found him and men from the neighborhood rushed to lift the car. His injuries were to severe for the local hospital so he was transported to a hospital in Wichita where he was in Intensive care for 1 month, followed by the hospital for another 2 months. With lots of internal injuries, 6 broken ribs, and a crushed leg, he was on the kidney machine for a period of time. The medical doctors informed him that he would never walk again. However, Alvin had other plans.

Refusing a regular wheel chair, he was sent home in a chair with 4 little wheels forcing him to use his legs to move. Slowing he recovered with Chiropractic care and prayer. A proud day for him was reporting to the Social Security Office to cut off the full benefits our family had gotten due to his disabilities. When walking out of this office, the two women who had helped with the paper work commented in astonishment, “And he doesn’t even limp.”

Most of his married life was self employed was a brief job at Hesston, Corp as a welder. Finding various things to buy and sell, he supported the family the best he could while Adina worked full time and most often 2 jobs.

He was a founding member of Keorner Heights Mennonite Brethren Church in Newton, Kansas.
Five years after the death of his wife, Adina, he met Glenna. They were married and moved to her home in California. Alvin has enjoyed 6 years with Glenna seeing the mountains and the ocean many times and doing things he never thought he would get to do. As his health deteriorated they decided that he would live in Kingsburg Care Center near their home in Selma, Ca. Here he got good care with the freedom to leave with Glenna for Church, time at their home or mini vacations.
Alvin was a devout Christian man who fought a lifetime of mental challenges. On April 22, he left all the earthly struggles to join his heavenly father.
Alvin is survived by a sister; Alma (Mitzie) Baker and her daughter Susan Finlayson of Williamsburg, Mi, His daughter Ruth Dalke Krause and her children Benjamin Krause and Anya Krause of Kansas City and His daughter Edith (Edee) Dalke, currently in the Mediterranean crewing on a small sailboat until summer of 2011.

My father was a Salesman, By Edee Dalke, 2008

My father did not have much to say...unless he was selling something or had an idea to sell something. The 5 hour trip to see relatives in Corn, Oklahoma from Newton, Kansas easily took 8 hours if Dad was driving. The extra 3 hours? They were spent stopping at small towns along the back highways from Kansas to Oklahoma. Dad would inevitably have the car’s trunk loaded with this or that and he would find a business open to go in and try to sell something to. My sister Ruth and I would stay in the car with our Mother who had been blessed with more fortitude and patience than any human I knew.
Thus began my first memories of My Dad, the salesman. I never thought that much about it, assuming everyone grew up with an entrepreneur father, determined to make a million dollars with every new idea.
And ideas, they were a plenty! I’ll review some of them:

Waffle Stompers.
One year, Dad got a “great deal” on new hiking boots nick-named Waffle Stompers. These were the predecessors of the modern day Hiking Boots. These boots made any foot look about double its original size with its brown bubble shape toe and large tire treads. By their weight alone, they could easily double as a weapon if say, being attacked by a bear while hiking in these. Somehow, Dad had bought dozens upon dozens of pairs. All sizes. We had a great deal of fun testing the tread on slices of bread to see if they indeed made “waffles” or not. After very few sales, Dad decided to outfit the extended family and welcomed anyone that could find their size to have a pair. I believe the rest sat in boxes for years and then were donated to Goodwill. Dalke Sales was out of the shoe business.

Dented Groceries.
Somehow, Dad discovered a place that sold canned food that had been in a train wreck. All he had to do was go pick them up in a warehouse somewhere near Kansas City. Dad’s idea was to mark up the price some, which was still way below retail, and sell it at Auctions and to poor people around town. The only problem was, they were mostly gallon cans that were dented and many had lost their labels. Tomatoes, Corn, Beans, Peaches and Pudding by the gallon! Dad found a talent for shaking the cans to try and determine their content, but it wasn’t an exact science. The prices were so good that people didn’t mind the dents. But this meant our family inherited all the unlabeled cans. I still remember Mom’s anticipation as we got out the can opener…there was no telling if we were opening a gallon of corn or a gallon of pudding for supper! Since the prices were so low, he had a good following of clients. I, his youngest daughter had less responsibilities on a Saturday, and would keep him company on many of his Auction trips. He would park, open the back doors of the old red van and we would be open for business! He assumed where a crowd was buying other things, they could warm up to canned goods as well. He did fairly well, the demand was there but supply ran out. Turns out, groceries that were in train wrecks were not an everyday occurrence! Dalke Sales ran out of canned goods.

Barrel of Chocolates
I will never forget the challenge my dear Mother had the day my Dad brought home the 50 gallon drum full of Chocolates. Yes, chocolates. Not the wrapped up, labeled kind. No, that wouldn’t be a challenge. We’re talking unwrapped-mixed variety-mystery filling-chocolates. It was like someone took 500 boxes of Russell Stover chocolates and dumped them in a barrel! From peanut clusters to caramels, they were in there. Oh, and did I mention they were aged enough for most of the chocolates to have a white color around the edges. Needless to say, this barrel was kept in the garage, lid tight. But that didn’t stop any of us from indulging. And since this episode occurred in the fall, Dad insisted that we bag these chocolate has-beens and hand them out for Halloween. Can you imagine being handed this at the door! As much as I begged for store-bought candy to hand out, we became the house on the block that “handed out a baggy full of melted together, clumped up, turning white, aged chocolates.” After we had each gained a proportional amount of weight, the barrel ran dry. My Mom begged my Father to not find more barrels. And Dalke Sales was out of Chocolates.

Drill Bits
Long before I was a home owner and appreciated any tools around the house, I was exposed to the value of a drill bit. I was 11 years old and Dad had bought a large quantity of brand new drill bits. The twist on this find was they had been exposed to a fire and the wax casing that they were housed in had melted around the metal and there was no way to tell what size the bit was. This became my summer job. For 10 cents a drill bit, my dad paid me and a neighbor girl to scrape the wax off them and shine them up, ready for him to sell. This was also my first exposure to child labor because it sounds easy enough but it wasn’t. Each drill bit took about 20 minutes to get to perfection. I have never looked at a drill bit the same since.

And More
And yes, there were barrels of glue, sheep, a school bus, a barbecue pit invention, the scrap metal business, many, many vehicles bought and sold, and so many ideas and purchases it could fill a house basement, a garage, sheds, a shop, two semi trailers and several acres of land. And it did. In all the selling “adventures” Dad put our family through, my Mother continued with her steadfast faith that things would work out, and get better. And between her 2 jobs, she held the family together. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that my father’s eccentric style and his un-dying belief that the million dollar idea was just around the corner was really the signs of some mental illnesses. However, my unusual childhood has provided me with certain advantages in the business world and how I see things. And if anything; many funny memories.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always."

"More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always." Claude Monet

Sibari, Italy---Flowers of Italy

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The first motor I have ever wanted to kiss.

Sibari, Italy---We have had a dilemma on the boat that I did not want to write about. There is a part called the Windlass that stopped working for them somewhere between Gibralter and here.

The Windlass is an electronic device that can pull up our 130 feet of heavy chain and a 65 pound anchor: all by stepping on a button at the bow.

Regardless, it MUST be fixed before we can leave. We have been working on it for over 2 weeks. The Captain did not think it was going to be this much drama or he would have started sooner. He has contacted New Zealand, England and America and gotten emails from even the son of the designer giving advice. Unfortunately, no one’s advice is the same! The motor is not in production so it’s not replaceable. Replacing the entire Windlass would be very expensive ($5,000+) and take at least 2 weeks to ship from New Zealand.

The motor that runs this is a simple small automobile motor, a brand called Lucus. Through this motor’s electric turning under the top deck, the wheel above on the deck has teeth which match up to the chain links pulling the chain from the anchorage and sending it down an opening that piles the chain into the locker below. This means we can pull up the anchor without being a professional body builder. It’s a wonderful thing.

The captain googled the Lucus and found on some discussion sites, the designer is referred to as the “prince of darkness who holds a Paton on short circuits.”

Great, just great.

After spending hours inside the tiny anchor locker at the front of the forward cabin’s bunk, taking it off, trying a few things, reinstalling, testing, taking it off, trying new things, reinstalling, testing, and so on and so on. Nothing was working. The Captain at one point starred it down like attempting a Volcan Mind Melt for at least a half hour. Seeing his anguish over not being able to fix it or figure it out, I started referring to the Windlass as “the part that is not spoken aloud aboard this boat”

Listening to him speaking harshly to it, I suggested to the Captain that we try what I call “the Tara method” and send better vibes to it, encouraging it to start.

Finally we began to seek professional help. On market days, we took the motor, which I started calling “the baby”, wrapped in a carry bag , to several motor shops. Ford (yes Ford) seemed the most promising. First we were SURE it was two sodoring points that needed redoing so we asked them to redo it. No, that wasn’t it. Three more trips to try different things. Finally, the Captain pried the seal off the connection and freed the motor from the casing. We then took the entire motor to the auto shop. Four days later, we picked up what the Captain witnessed to work in the shop environment.

Since, this was one in two things that have held us back from leaving Italy, I have not written about it without the happy ending we desired. But today, with great care we reinstalled the motor and nervously went thru the start routine.
“Breaker on,” one of the kid’s voice rang from the cockpit.
“Are you ready for me to step on it?” another kid’s voice was heard above us on deck.
Under this voice, the Captain and I, halfway crammed in the anchor locker, on our backs, looking up at the motor.
“Yes, go,” the captain shouted as we both took a deep breath and held it.
And at that instant, a whirling noise filled the locker and cabin.

It was the most beautiful sound; the sound of success and the sound of leaving for Greece becoming a much closer reality.

Now, if only the channel was cleared of sand. So, one down, one to go and yet still, we wait.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Running the Italian Countryside

Sibari, Italy---Villas and farms can be seen in the foreground surrounded by a background of mountains. Fields of wild flowers and trees cut back to let Spring takeover with new growth. An asphalt road that is traveled only by people knowing their destination: a gated Marina complex named Laghani Di Sibari. A Welcome sign in four languages, at the beginning of the long the narrow road leading to the guard shack, is one of the first thing you see.

There are so many more details you can notice when you are out for a run, instead of zooming past in a vehicle.

Running is something I have done in my life as long as I can remember. Granted, I am not fast or by any means a “runner” in the elite sense of the word. But from a very young age I discovered running would help the asthma I was born with. In high school it was track that earned me a letter and one high school record. In College and my Florida years I was the 2-3 mile beach jogger. It was not until I trained with Team in Training and the Leukemia Foundation in the name of Adam Smith, my friend who died in 2000, that I trained for a marathon and discovered distance running and how much I loved it. Now, after 4 Marathons and 8 half’s and more 10-15K’s, my body rebelled with a list of injuries and I had been on a rest since October’s Tower of Terror race at Disney in Orlando.

But I brought my gear for my new life and decided to head out on a bright sunny afternoon. For some reason, I felt like I needed to put some space between me and the Marina Complex. So I headed towards the countryside. If felt great to watch the boat yard get smaller in the distance. My first marathon was San Diego where we started down town and ran to the Naval Base. At mile 23 I turned and looked behind me shocked to see downtown San Diego the size of a quarter on the horizon. Now, 8 years later I’m running along a country road in Italy.

A few days later, I tried out running on the beach. The sand is soft and mixed with gravel but the scenery with the gulf and mountains was exhilarating.

I missed CJ, my best running partner and the Galloway running group I had spent 3 seasons with. Any runner knows how it clears your head. I was overwhelmed with the exhilaration of freedom and possibilities.

I hope to run in each country we visit. And just like the idea of finishing 26.2 miles, the idea of this trip originally seemed impossible. But by putting one foot, or running shoe, in front of the other can produce goals or life dreams. If I can do it, trust me; I’m not special, anyone can do it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reflections: 3 weeks/April 19

Sibari, Italy---When the sun is out, the mountains in the distance seem reassuring. I am a foreigner here, yet my soul feels at home.

When I arrived by train from Naples, I was nothing less than traumatized from everything that happened before I left and the weight of this big of a change. I knew that there would be an adjustment period mentally and told myself to be gentle on my self-lectures.

Filled with so much emotion when I arrived, it took me 3 days to cry. But I needed to, so I did---as silent as I could inside a 44 foot sailboat, in my bunk, at night with the captain at a loss as to what to do.

My emotions have been mostly predictable. Some days are so busy I don’t make time to think about things, but more days, I spend a lot of time reflecting and thinking…maybe too much.
Is it better to zoom through life filling it with friends, family, deadlines, obligations, good times and bad times without the time to reflect? Or screech to a screaming halt every once and a while to determine: am I happy and what do I want?

I’m really not sure.

The time so far has been a mixture of brief periods of happiness that I don’t remember having in a long, long time. The kind of happy that you felt as a kid on the first day of summer vacation, with so much anticipation of the future you could just explode. Countered by stages of, “OMG, what have I done? I closed my business! I’m where?” Insert my personality as I go through the day with silliness and jokes, all avoidance techniques of thinking too much. Then inject brief periods of nothing less than depression, which I choose to call “being bummed out”. And back again to all the excitement and anticipation of being in the Mediterranean for the rest of this year and on to the Caribbean for 2011.

It’s been good to stay here in Italy, in one spot, for the beginning. Soon we will leave for Greece. We know leaving is pending the opening of the only canal leading to the gulf, and the repair of one important boat part; both not in our control.

I guess because every day is new and significant, it seems like a LOT more time has gone by. But, I remind myself, it’s only been 3 weeks.

Friday, April 16, 2010

"We work only on Fridays and on Fridays, we have the afternoon off."

Sibari, Italy---“We work only on Fridays and on Fridays, we have the afternoon off”

This is what I imagine to be the schedule for the men operating the heavy machinery that are digging out the canal.

Italians seem to not be in a hurry. Ever. Except while driving. Then, I imagine, after racing at unregulated and unlimited speeds on their narrow roads where passing between the ongoing car and the existing car is not a daring move, they get to where they are going only to slowly go about their day with no apparent deadline for anything. Afternoon siestas however, may be the only schedule that they honor with dedication.
A daily trip from our dockage to the beach via rowing the dinghy or bike allows the progress to be tracked. Our first clue can be determined from the boat: “Do you hear machinery today?”
The sand and soot in the canal is a winter occurrence, and the digging out is a yearly event. Since Laghni Di Sibari, our marina complex, appears to be a big tourist destination especially during the summer, we know that there are a lot of boats being prepped in the boatyard to be hauled out soon.
But first, the canal must be opened.

Photo: a view looking towards the gulf with the sand and mud that blocks the way.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Long Distance Doggie Love

Sibari, Italy---I have a great advantage with who I left my 14 year old dog with because I get to see him almost every day! Skype is a wonderful thing.

Mary Beth, my friend, the captain’s wife and the boys’ mother Skype’s every day. During the week, it happens at noon our time which, due to the 6 hour time difference, means MB has just woken up and we see a sleepy, coffee drinking MB on the other end of the computer connection.

They usually talk at least 30 minutes and she chats with each boy and Shirish. I am now added to the lineup and although I have already overheard how often Turbo wanted to go out during the middle of the night to the others, I get my turn and she moves the camera over to him and gives me the updates.

He spends his days with Kitty in their big back yard with a doggie-size Villa under the split level house. Actually, it sounds like he is getting spoiled and she is getting manipulated: multi dog walks with him, not her, leading the way, throwing his head in her lap to get extra love, and being restless at night in order for more attention.

She is getting wise to it.

He has taken his guard dog role by standing at her front door which scares the living daylight out of the mail man, as well as proclaiming to all passer-bys “there is now a large bark coming from this house so don’t mess with me.” Yet knowing full well what the police officer said to me after my home was robbed a few years ago:
“I have a dog but he was at a friend’s house,” I had said.
“Mame, is that your dog?” the reporting officer said looking through my French doors.
“Mame, that dog would only wag someone to death,” he joked.

And then the phonebook on the table caught fire from the candle burning next to it…but that’s another story. For now, Turbo and Kitty are doing really, really well.

Note to Kelly: Mary Beth also sends a big thank you for the sponsorship.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Market Days

Sibari, Italy---I bought hand lotion for hair conditioner and eucalyptus ointment for honey, market days are always a learning experience.

Twice a week; Tuesdays and Fridays, the Marina has a van that will take patrons into the town of Sibani, 4.5 miles away from Laghni Di Sibari, our Marina complex. Aside from the fact I must close my eyes several times during the trip due to the crazy drivers, it breaks up the week and provides a nice routine.

Our first stop is the outdoor vegetable stand. Overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables we select what will be needed for the next 3 or 4 days. I have never seen Romaine lettuce as huge as what is produced here; one leaf is the size of a small watermelon. The red peppers are inexpensive and sweeter than I have ever eaten. Fresh, not dried, garlic is a must as well as red onions, yellow onions, squash and huge plump white mushrooms. We have added strawberries lately because we made a contraption with 2 pans to mimic a double boiler and have been enjoying melted rich Italian dark chocolate over them. Bananas are the familiar Chiquita brand and I have been sampling all their versions of fresh apples. Our bill is usually about 8 Euro. ($10 dollars-ish divided by 4 people)

Next, is a strip of shops with the main destination Conades, the grocery/department store about the size of two 7-11’s. Things are limited but you can find all basics. One entire row, both sides, is dedicated to pasta (of course)…not counting the fresh pasta in the refrigerated section.
Meats are not pre-cut. The butcher will slice to order from huge mounds of meat. We discovered early that they DO NOT cut steaks thick like the states, even after requesting a thick cut it was barely 1 inch. Last week I forgot and my 1 kilo of steak was handed to me in 5 slices barely ¼ inch thick. Crunchy fresh bread, amazing prosciutto, spicy salami, cookies with real chocolate and standard salty chips are weekly standards. Our bill is usually around 40 Euro . (twice a week/80 Euro or about $100…divided by 4 people)
I can sneak over to the shop next door and for 1 Euro get an amazing cappuccino.
Next to this is a pastry shop where last visit I wanted to surprise everyone with some wonderful pastries. After the purchase I realized that one of the boys has a severe egg allergy and I needed to ask.
“Speak English?” I asked.
“No, no,” one of the bakers replies
“Egg?” I question holding my hands in an egg shape. “Egg!” I repeat thinking he just hasn’t recognized the oval shape I was making. “Bock, bock, bock, be-cak,” I cackle with my hands under my arm pits and head bobbing, making my best chicken impersonation.
“Ah! Conades,” he points towards the grocery store thinking I want to either buy eggs or he wants this crazy cackling women out of his shop soon.
“No, no. Eggs?” and I point to my pastries that they are wrapping like a Christmas gift with tissue paper and then a pretty paper wrap proclaiming the name of the shop: ”Dolci Momenti” (Sweet Moments).
“Ah! Se, Se,” he confirmed the pastries all have eggs.
Well, I will have to explain to my boat mate, knowing all the while, that just means more for the captain and I.

It’s not Publix, Dillions, Target or Walmart but in this small town, it’s just fine.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wanted: Clothes Dryer.

Sibari, Italy---Apparently the Italians do not believe in clothes dryers. While we are enjoying all the amenities of a Marina, we have a washing machine but no dryer. All drying, I find out, is to be done outside, on a dry day, all day.

The washing machine is connected to its own laundry soap dispenser. For 1 Euro, we can select up to 40 Celsius of heat (about 104 degrees) yet for 2 Euro you can buy a load at 60c (140 degrees). We select 40c.

The load takes 1 hour and I have insisted that we separate whites from colors, a new concept for my boat mates, it appears, as the captain looks at me like I’m crazy.But since I’m doing the task he lets it go.
With the first load done, and the boat a good distance away, I borrow one of the kid’s bicycles, grab a couple bungee cords and wrap the bag of wet clothes to the child’s bike. Finding that there is still room to pedal with my knees sticking out like a wobbly clown in a circus act, I manage to not go into the water and get the clothes on board.

Juno has been fully equipped with lines strung about the deck from wintering here and a zillion clothespins brought from the states. We hang the clothes as a brisk wind begins to claim their dampness. Hanging cloths outside was part of my childhood, living on the edge of a small town in Kansas, that’s just how things were done then. Our 4 lines attached to a pole and crossbar, spread out like electric wires through the country side. It provided long straight rows to hold a full week of laundry. Many imaginary adventures were played out between the hanging sheets and towels as Mom would yell at us to stay out of the clean laundry.

Now, here I am, seeing no adventure between the clothes, I look at the boat laden with laundry, feeling more like the Beverly Hillbillies on water.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sailing mates: The Family

Pictured from left to right; Orion, Rigel and the Captain/Shirish. Their mother stayed home to advance her career and he fulfilled his dream to take his boys to the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

“You can take only 1 pair of jeans”

Sibari, Italy---I’m freezing here. I was advised to pack for warm weather which will be in Greece, but staying in Italy longer than expected has presented me with a surprise. I’m cold.
I was consulted to only take 1 pair of jeans. I snuck one more pair but they are white jeans. Packing for a year was difficult enough thinking of only one season. The captain casually mentioned that we are the same latitude of New York and that this weather is fortunate.
Now, understand, cold to me is in the low 60’s as I layer up to 5 tops in the morning. I even broke out my foul weather gear jacket about the heaviest thing I brought. I do however have a 20F degree North Face sleeping bag that keeps me toasty at night.

Finally I broke into Mary Beth’s supply of winter cloths aboard for her when she visits every few months.

Optimistically, I keep predicting the next day to be mid to high 70’s with no wind.
I’ll keep wishing for either the dredging to be completed so we can leave for Greece, or my weather prediction to be correct.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yummy Pizza...It's Italian!

Sibari, Italy---Within the Captain’s routine for his family, every Saturday is Pizza Night. Who am I to buck the system?! So, for the last several weeks, we have frequented La Taverna Del Marinaio, a 5/8th mile walk; I know this because, in his usual precise ways, the Captain measured it. This is where, he says, after a winter of research and taste testing, “the best” pizza is made.

Although it is called a Pizzeria, the d├ęcor is somewhat formal. Theme colors are orange and red using double table cloths with accent orange cloth napkins that mark the place settings, including 2 wine glasses and silverware that includes two forks.

I found this not to be unusual because my wifi location is also a pizzeria and their dining room is set exactly to the same formal feel.

While there are chandeliers, the wide strips of glass hang down in circles, presenting a modern feel verses an elegant feel. The walls are covered, to my amusement, with fake bricks that seem to be sold in large stick-on sheets. It presents a wonderful oxi-moron to the feel of things. Framed photos of people eating pasta fill the wall with intermittent autographed photos of pudgy faced celebrities that I don’t recognize.

A wide screen TV is turned on and I am informed that all restaurants must have TV’s in case a soccer game is being played. Not having the game on would mean no business. But our first visit had no game and Casper the Friendly Ghost, the movie, is being played in Italian. Italian McDonald’s commercials influence small minds here, as they do back home.

There are no 2 tops, the smallest table seats 6. More are 8-12 representing the large families and groups that commonly dine. I am told that showing up any earlier than 8pm would not allow service, so shortly after 8, we are always the first to sit. By the time we are leaving, more parties are arriving at 9-9:30pm, many include small children.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” I think to myself as they sit without boosters of any kind, leaving the table to be at eye level.

I have ordered the Vegetariana each time, the safest version of pizza I can find and, of course, cappuccinos each visit. I tried to order something new and the doubtful look the captain gave me, I rescinded back to the original veggie, only to find out later, I had ordered a “Pizza with Crab”, and since I am deathly allergic to crustaceans, I am lucky to be alive. And since I don’t travel with my 2 large Epi-pens in my purse, death by pizza in Italy would be really embarrassing.

Adults are expected to order their own pizza, which by my standards is a small or medium in the states. My cost was 6,50 Euro, plus a 1 Euro “cover charge” and a 1,50 Euro cappuccino (about $10 U.S.). The turnaround is under 8 minutes and soon, before me sits a thin crunchy crust, cheesy, brick oven baked pizza. Either I am really, really hungry every time we are there, or this pizza was made in Heaven. Everything here is real and unusually flavor packed. Mozzarella is not shredded; it starts as a round ball and settles in a top the sparse amount of mushrooms and eggplant that makes up the Vegitereiano. The sauce is potent and perfect. I am indeed, in pizza heaven.

Note to Charlotte: Thank you for the sponsorship but sorry, no Orzo but I did manage to get eggplant in my teeth. Does that count?

Friday, April 9, 2010

On the Hard: hard work

Sibari, Italy---They call it "on the hard" I called it "on the rack" but now, I think they had it right all along and "hard" stands for hard work.

The day we were hauled out we starting immediately, taping the water line and laying down the first coat of toxic, heavy bottom paint. First it would be two coats of blue on all friction points, then two coats of black. Everything else got one coat of each.

Decked in five layers of clothing due to the cold chill, I covered my hair with a bandanna and between my pink socks and very baggy boat working Capri's, I looked like a cross between Aunt Jamima and a bag lady, but I painted, and painted. The second day I tried my running cap which managed to get paint on it.

I couldn't resist a few messages on the very bottom (as seen in photos) which did not thrill the Captain-on-a-mission attitude Shirish had, but he took it in good humor.
Living in the Hard means that you must climb up and down a 15 foot ladder to get up top, even at 3am if you have to go to the bathroom, which is now about 3 blocks away. (...and did I mention night temps are about 50 degrees?!) We all still felt like she was rocking. If she was, we'd have a real problem, but it was only what all boaters feel after being on the water.
Our muscles ached and yet we pushed on, finishing the last coat on the third day with enough time to take a break. Juno is beautiful. Now we are back in the water, with a stealth-like bottom ready to take on any sea creature who approaches.