Saturday, August 23, 2014

Provincetown July birthday sailing trip

Friday, July 18th is a sunny beautiful day with no wind, but we put put up sails anyway and motor sail. It's great to have a working autopilot finally. Autopilot makes sailing a lot less tiring for old folks. You can pretty much let the boat steer itself, although someone still has to be on watch. The autopilot wouldn't know if another boat suddenly decided to cut in front of us!

Scituate is still a cute little town. We walk the dogs and stop for some ice cream. We have a dinner on the boat of shrimp, pasta, and salad. Beets and lettuce are from the garden, but no tomatoes yet.

The next morning is still, foggy, windless. It is time for our new sailing adventure, across Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown. We turn on the AIS so we won't run into a freighter, but not the radar since we really don't understand how to read it yet. We are out in deep water, no rocky outcrops so there is very little danger except for other boats and the fog starts to lift anyway. With the GPS we always know where we are and like good sailors we always double check things on the paper charts too. We are learning!

Provincetown is on the the outermost point of Cape Cod. We thought perhaps we would be out of sight of land for a bit on this part of our journey but actuallly we can always see land somewhere, either behind us, to the south along Cape Cod, and eventually Ptown itself.

As we approach Ptown we see a huge fish blow steam skyward and leap through the water. A whale! We watch it leaping over and over. Today is Lee's birthday and this is the best birthday present he could possibly ask for. We see several more whales before this day's sail is through. Lee takes a video and several pictures.

Ptown harbor is huge, but kind of wide open. There is a seawall, but unfortunately our mooring is not behind it so we we are in a pretty bouncy location. On our first time into town we take the dinghy but Flyers has such a good launch service that we decide to just take the launch instead for the rest of our stay.

Saturday at Ptown is a hoot, boy is it a "LGBT friendly tourist destination, with a thriving gay community". We are a distinct minority but we are not alone. We walk the main drag, hike to a hardware store to get a part for the boat shower, stop for ice cream. There are lots of dogs for Harper and Cosmo to greet, lots of people that have to pet a Westie.

In the evening we get dressed up and take the launch into town for dinner at Johnny's Hideaway. It's a good restaurant and hard to get a table so we end up sitting at the bar. This turns out to be really fun, with good bartender/waiter and interesting people sitting beside us. We have lots of fun talking to Frank and his boyfriend from Philly.

On Sunday morning I go for a run through town and along the Cape Cod National Seashore. It's a beautiful run, I almost wish I was running farther! I meet Lee and the dogs on my way back and decide to take Harper with me for the last part of my run. She hasn't run with me in awhile but she is really gung-ho except for the last 5 minutes or so when she thinks that's enough! It's so funny how she catches right on that the beeper tells us when to run and when to walk.

Monday it's time to sail back to Scituate. It's a cloudy day with not a lot of wind. At about 10 miles out we think we should be able to see the south shore, but we can't see a thing. It gradually dawns on us that we are surrounded by fog! It happened so slowly that we just couldn't see it, or just didn't know what to look for. Another thing to learn I guess, the Many Faces of Fog. But unlike the fog we hit on our sail to Cuttyhunk , this time we are prepared. We have AIS, which allows us to see any other boat with this equipment. We go ahead and turn on the radar, but it's old and sort of funky, although it does show us some things. Lee plans on replacing it next year. And we have an excellent GPS, which clearly shows where we are, and which way to go. It's nice actually that we are out in the middle of Cape Cod Bay, and that Scituate harbor is uncomplicated, with an easy approach. We see their seawall, and the buoy that marks the entrance, when we are about 100 yards away. Even the harbor is completely socked in, but the launch service leads us straight to our mooring ball, so all is good.

This time we decide to use the Scituate launch service to go ashore. Well silly us! It turns out that their launch service is also excellent and they have comfortable showers to boot. This makes this little town even more of a favorite sailing destination than before.

We go ashore that evening and eat dinner at a restaurant called Riva's. Another good meal, and we sit outside on the patio so the dogs can join us. They are so good, sitting quietly under the table while we eat our meal, even with another dog not so well behaved a couple of tables down. A couple of small bites of potato chip don't hurt, either.

The next morning it's bright and sunny, and gee, it's my birthday, I go for a run along the shore while Lee walks the dogs. We grab a breakfast sandwich at our favorite coffee shop and then head back to Salem.

There is a little wind so we put out the jib, mostly for show. The slowly rolling seas make for a rhythmic motion to our trip, a little TOO rhythmic for my tastes. I don't normally get seasick but this sort of slow rolling sea means that it's better for all concerned if we stay out of the cabin in the fresh air.

As we approach Marblehead it appears to be kid sailboat racing day. There are clusters of small sailboats everywhere, racing from point to point. I'm a little envious of these children, learning to sail when they are so young that it will be instinctive for them, unlike me, who has to really think about what she is doing!

It's good to be home, where my flowers and veggies are going gangbusters, and I'm slowly trying to catch up on various tasks. I have a new turtle out in the yard, and new Westie flip flops too. Not too shabby for a 62 year old woman!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Selkirk, Ephesus, and Home

I didn't mean to abandon my report on our trip to Paris and Turkey. I have one more entry to post, about our visit to Ephesus, an ancient city as amazing as anything you might find in Greece or Rome. Here we go....

In the morning we fly to Izmir airport, a huge new empty airport that serves this area south of Istanbul along the coast. This time our driver picks us up without mishap and we go for an hour long drive through the Turkish countryside. We see fields and distant mountains, set amid an arid Mediterranean landscape. We see rain storms in the distance, but above our heads the sky is blue.

Selkirk turns out to be a small city at the edge of the ruins. Our hotel, Bella, is an antique itself. Our room is tiny, with barely enough room to move, but we're not planning on spending much time there. We climb the stairs to their pleasant terrace restaurant overlooking the local ruins. After a late lunch we go for a late afternoon exploration of the citadel and ruins of St. John's basilica. We start to get a sense of the layers of history here, Pagan, Greek, Roman, Christian, Muslim.

After exploring the fortress and the remains of the basilica we walk down the street to the old mosque. Along the way a little old man asks if we want to see his little mosque too. A comedy of sorts ensues. He tells us with hand gestures and broken English that he is the meuzzin for the little mosque. He shows us the prayers he will say, the times he will say them, even sings a bit as a sort of preview, showing us the English so we can follow along. I'm charmed and amused; is he trying to convert us?

We have dinner on the terrace, watch the flaming lanterns from a party below us, talk to a friendly family from San Francisco, admire the stocks and their nest right on the other side of the balcony. The only thing is I don't sleep well that night. I'm kind of itchy and hot and feel like I'm getting Lee's cold. Oh well!

The following day, Tuesday, June 10th, is a day of intense touring. After a short run along a pedestrian walkway and a quick breakfast off we go. First stop is Ephesus with a guide. His English is good but heavily accented and full of strange colloquialisms. "Of the people, like that" repeated just about every sentence. Ephesus is a lovely ruined city with marble streets, baths, temples, marketplaces, houses. Our favorite part by far are the terrace houses, elegant apartments on a hillside where the remains of mosaic floors and painted walls can be clearly seen.

The library and the theatre are the most magnificent remaining structures. It's sunny, and hot, and a cruise ship, or maybe several cruise ships, have descended on Ephesus. Neither of us can take in any additional knowledge. Time for lunch.

Nazmi, the owner of hotel Bella, has arranged for us to eat lunch at a tribal (native Turkish) outdoor restaurant. The make baked flatbread with various fillings, thin little hot sandwiches. Nazmi orders for us, one sweet that tastes a little like peanut butter and honey, and one with something like spinach and cheese. Interesting. Then we go back to the hotel for a bit to rest and cool off.

Finally we go to Nazmi's carpet shop. He buys carpets in nearby villages for resale in his shop. He explains how each family in a village has their own pattern, handed down from mother to daughter. How the carpets are created, some for sale, others for the daughter's dowry. We really have no intention of buying another carpet, and in fact are not sure exactly where we will put it, but I find one of the smaller village carpets irresistible.

We have a late flight that evening back to Istanbul. Lightning flashes decorate the sky along the mountains to our left on the way back to the airport, A brief thunderstorm delays our flight but eventually we are back in Istanbul. A short taxi ride takes us to a sleek modern hotel for a late room service dinner and a brief sleep. We have to wake up at 3 am to make our flight home in the morning. Istanbul to Frankfurt to DC and finally Boston. It's been a great vacation but I'm ready to be home.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thank You Mom

The call finally came, the call I had been expecting, and dreading. We could do this, we could do that, but it will only prolong her death and may not help at all, the doctor explained. I know she has a DNR, he said, but are you sure? I'm sorry, he said, but I have to ask. No no no I stated calmly. No more suffering, no more pain. Her wishes were clear. But....she is afraid to die, don't let her be afraid, I begged.

I called the nurse's station one last time, asking them to put the phone to Mom's ear. Hello mom, it's Lynn. I love you I love you. I will be there this afternoon. She made small noises on the other end and then silence. We listened to each other breathe for a bit and then I said, I will see you soon, and hung up the phone.

I didn't expect to get to St Louis in time. But my mom is so strong, and stubborn. Just because the doctor said one to three hours I knew she would try to prove them wrong one more time.

I had to change planes in Chicago. When I called Nancy I fully expected her to say that mom was gone but no, of course not, she was still alive.

Landing in St Louis I flew to Mom's condo, dropped off my bag, picked up her car. Calling Nancy again to see if she wanted me to pick up anything for her before heading to the hospital. No no, she replied, don't stop anywhere. Get here as fast as you can.

Mom's hospital room was quiet. I went to her side, found her hand, held it tight. She squeezed my hand. Her breathing was shallow, her eyes closed. Cody was there too. Nancy cried, said goodbye to mom, her cousin and her best friend.

Cody and I continued to sit and watch. Breath in, breath out. Hands held. I felt like I could stay there forever. My fear and anxiety about what awaited in St Louis fell away. I was so glad to be there.

Around 7 pm Cody and I were hungry. For some reason we knew that death wouldn't come while we were gone, or at least that if it did it would be because that's how mom wanted to go. We went up to the corner to Panera's, the same Panera where I had gone to get mom sandwiches and potato soup to break the monotony of hospital fare.

Back in the hospital room I told mom I had her favorite sandwich. I took a few bites but couldn't eat it and set it aside. Time passed, breath in breath out. Her hands were slowly growing colder, a sign, the nurses told us.

Susan's plane landed late that night. My cousin Michael picked her up at the airport, brought her to the hospital. Susan brought a brief rush of energy into the quiet room. She took the place beside Mom's bed and held her hand. I curled up in the recliner. At some point midnight came and the next day arrived. July 31st, 2014, mom's 86th birthday.

Susan exclaimed, mom's hand is warm! Feel it! I felt it and she was right. I know my mother knew that both her daughters were at her beside.

As I drifted off to sleep in the recliner once again, the nurse came into the room. Your mother's heartbeat has become very slow she explained apologetically.

I stood at the foot of the bed, Cody on one side, Susan on the other. We watched as mom took one small breath, and then another, and then one more. I put my hand on her foot. One last breath and then no more, but her heart continued to beat. The nurses could hear it on the stethoscope and we could see it on the monitor. So strange because she was no longer breathing, but my mother always loved life so much, it was hard to just let go I'm sure.

When it was over we knew. Suddenly my mother was no longer in that hospital room. The body in the bed was not her. Her presence could no longer be felt. The nurses told us to take as much time as we wanted but all we wanted to do was get out of there. I took one last glance at the body on the bed, but my mother was gone.

My mom did not have an easy life. She had more than her fair share of trouble and challenges, but she always found a way to be happy, to find some joy in life. And she tried with all her heart and soul to be the best mother she could to my sister and I. She was far from perfect, but then none of us are.

And there at the end she gave us the most incredible gift. From watching her peaceful painless death, I now feel less afraid of whatever death might hold for me. I am so grateful that she didn't suffer and that she waited for us to be by her side. Thank you mom, thank you so much. I love you and I will miss you forever. Thank you.


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