OUR END OF SUMMER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Summer has a different meaning to Tom and me than it does to most people. We are boaters, so to us, summer simply means ‘boating season’ and it lasts for six months. We start getting our boat ready to go into the water in late March or early April. It’s still chilly and there are no leaves on the trees, but for us, ‘summer’ is starting and our mindset shifts from land to sea.

Similarly, our boat isn’t taken out of the water till November 15. So despite the falling of the leaves as well as the thermometer, and even after daylight savings makes it dark before 5 PM, we still cling to the concept of summer because our boat is still afloat. We often spend time on it when it is mild in October and November, which has been often the past few years.

Our boat, Serenity.

On November 5 this year, we emptied all the food off the boat and in a few days it will be ready for its shrink-wrapped hibernation in the parking lot of the marina. So our summer has finally ended and we’re prepared for our landlocked existence for the next half a year.

Our life is quite different when the boat is the focus of our life and when it’s not. Once the boat is in the water and ready for its close-up, all our social life takes place on the boat – rain or shine. We recently built a lovely patio outside our kitchen but no one ever gets to see it except Tom, because the grill is out there. We never have dinners or parties on our patio when the weather is conducive because we’re always on the boat during these warmer months.

The living room on our boat

We love taking guests on our boat for a ride but often the weather doesn’t cooperate and our friends just hang out with us at the dock (which is quite lovely). We have entertained on board through thunderstorms, pouring rain, gusting winds, and extreme heat and cold. We almost never move the party to the house because of the weather.

During boating season we only travel on the boat. We take short trips (under two hours) to other marinas nearby and stay one or two nights. We also take longer trips to the Connecticut River, Montauk, Block Island, and even Martha’s Vineyard, and live on the boat for a week or more with the dogs. We usually get on a plane only when there’s no boat to travel on. And then we go visit our daughter in LA, friends in Portland, Oregon, and Disneyworld in Florida. Next April we’ll be going to London for ten days. The exception is when we plan a big trip to Europe which only makes sense for us in spring or fall when the weather is great but it’s not prime tourist season so it’s not too crowded.

Dining area on the boat

Another difference in our lives when the boat is in or out of the water is how much ‘together’ time Tom and I spend. Whenever he can, Tom will spend the afternoon on the boat rather than at home. He has the same TV and video games set up in both places and the same Wifi service. So he’d rather be looking out at the water than the woods.

I usually choose to stay home during the week except when the weather is ideal, so Tom and I spend a lot of time apart for six months of the year. The rest of the year we’re in the same house most of the time. I think this bifurcated system works well for us since it dilutes the time we share in the same living space and makes us appreciate being together when we are.

Boat kitchen

So now we are finally transitioning into ‘winter’ mode. We’ll start lighting fires and having friends over to the house. Tom will immediately start pining for the next boating season. On the other hand, I’m a homebody and I don’t mind the cold (I have lots of sweaters) so I’m just as happy with my ‘winter’ existence as I am with my water-based life. Variety is the spice of life!

So welcome to winter and toasted marshmallows!

R&R WITH OLD FRIENDS – Garry Armstrong

It was our time for a bit of R & R in the lush Connecticut woods, far from the madding crowd. It’s another world where we can recharge our life force and mental batteries.

Home

Our hosts are the kindly friends for whom we are grateful. We’ve known Tom for more than 50 years dating back to our days in college when we and our world was young. We’ve known Ellin – it seems forever – or since she married Tommy and immediately improved the quality of life for all of us.

Our mini-vacation included time at the marina where everyone seems utterly relaxed — except when they are rehabbing their boats for another summer on the water. The much-maligned weather put on a good face for us.

Ellin

Tom

Sunshine and summer-like temperatures were abundant. It was warm but not uncomfortable. The breeze from the water made it almost perfect as we relaxed for an afternoon of doing absolutely nothing.

Marilyn and the camera

Garry at pier’s end

Tom apologized for not taking the boat out because the water was a bit too choppy for his taste. No worries, we repeatedly told him as we soaked up the afternoon sun, chatting about stuff that brought giggles and contentment. Really. NO worries!

I enjoyed looking at the names of the boats in the marina and wondering about the folks who owned them. I’ve never wanted to own a boat but have fantasies, thanks to Bogie in “Key Largo” and other movies which romanticize the boating life.

Ellin socializing on the pier

I’ve always thought I’d name my boat “The Busted Flush” after fictional detective Travis McGee who chased bad guys in his trusty little houseboat which also provided room for romantic interludes with his miscellaneous yet somehow dubious love interests. Hey, just a passing fancy.

Tom has schooled me in the difficulties of keeping “Serenity” in running condition. I’m good being a guest.

There’s so much to see just relaxing with Tommy and Ellin in the Marina. The setting is soothing. You can drift off mentally without a worry. No obsessing about what’s happening in our politically-challenged world. That stuff is blocked out for a few precious hours. I could actually feel my heartbeat slowing. Just what the doctor ordered.

Tom and Ellin on the boat

Back at “La Casa Bonita” of Tom and Ellin, it’s more of the easy life — at least for us, the guests. The conversation ramps up during the evening “News Hour.” Imagine sitting between two guys who’ve logged 80 years in network and top market TV News.  The old, war stories fill the air spiced with profanities that befit we who ducked idiot management suits from the “Tricky Dick Era” to today’s “Follies of Donzo.”

We can name drop with the best of them. Hell,  Tom and I have probably sent myriad suits seeking psychiatric care because we refused to tolerate their idiocy.

Tom is the master of his impressive entertainment room. He’s introduced Marilyn and me to shows and movies we never knew existed.

Tom, the telly, and Remy

One thing that impressed me — I looked and looked around the walls and notices no awards reflecting Tommy’s long and accomplished career at the highest level of TV News. I know he’s been in the cross-hairs of some of the biggest news stories over half a century. No collection of hardware — unlike me.  Tom doesn’t need any stinkin’ bodges.

Lexi

Marilyn and I were very reluctant to leave Tommy and Ellin and the comfy good feeling they bestowed on us, but our dogs were calling us homeward.

We have an invite to return with Tommy taking us for a trip aboard “Serenity” when the seas are smoother. I’m already dreaming about it.

A FEW PICTURES FROM HOUSE AND SHORE – Garry Armstrong

I took most of the pictures. Marilyn was off-duty this time. There are a lot more, but this is a little taste of our weekend with Tom and Ellen.

We didn’t go out because the sea was a bit high, but we had a fine time just hanging out in the marina.

Cleaning the boat

Still cleaning the boat

On the dock – Ellin’s in blue

Along the dock — Can you spot Tom?

A little cloud over the Curley’s house

MADE FOR YOU AND ME – Marilyn Armstrong

Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

This land is your land, this land is my land

From California to the New York island;
From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me, a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign, it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

That ribbon of highway ...

That ribbon of highway …

I saw above me, that endless skyway ...

I saw above me, that endless skyway …

I saw below me that golden valley ...

I saw below me that golden valley …

Navajo Big Sky

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps, to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts …

This land was made for you and me ...

This land was made for you and me …

VACATION AT HOME – BY ELLIN CURLEY

We were supposed to go to Italy with friends this July. We had to cancel the trip because I’ve been suffering from a chronic condition called Poly Myalgia Rheumatica. I didn’t feel up to traveling so far away and didn’t feel I could handle sightseeing every day.

So we headed for the marina, our home away from home. We decided to live on the boat for five days as our ‘vacation’ for the month. I forgot how quickly we fall into a boat routine. We’re less than half an hour away from home, but we feel like we’re in another world. There’s something about living in miniature, on the water, that relaxes us instantly.

I think that part of the reason everything feels so different on the boat is that all the logistics are different than at home. To use the oven, we have to move everything off the countertop, open the cover for the stove and then we can turn the oven on. To find anything in the refrigerator, we usually have to take everything out, shelf by shelf, until we find what we’re looking for. The frig is packed that tight!

To take a shower, we have to remove all the towels and the garbage can from the shower area and move them into the bedroom. At home, the dogs have a doggie door. On the boat, we have to walk the dogs regularly. Good exercise. But it takes some getting used to. We are totally spoiled vis-a-vis our dogs! So life feels truly ‘nautical’ on the boat. Our house also rocks periodically, which is very cool.

This week, we had guests from New York on the boat with us. We also visited with friends on the dock, so it’s been a more social week than we would have had at home. People love visiting the boat. Even if we can’t take a ride, people just love being on the water.

One of our friends stayed overnight with us on the boat. That doesn’t happen often, so it was a special treat. Like camping out with friends! She stayed overnight the night of the local 4th of July Fireworks. We got to enjoy 180 degrees of fireworks! Most of the fireworks were done by local individuals. But the town of Stratford does a 20-minute display done by professionals. It is truly awesome!

Tom loves fireworks and looks forward to this display all year. It’s worth the wait. We have a clear view from our boat and it looks like the display is being done specially for us.

So this ‘vacation’ week turned out to be more fun and more restorative than we had expected. Even the dogs were chilling out (That may have also been because of the extreme heat).

The longer we stayed at the marina, the more distant our ‘land’ life became. We extended our stay by a day. And we may be coming back for a few more days soon. Now it really feels like summer vacation!

HARMONY ON HIGH

HARMONIZING ON THE WATER AND DEEP IN SPACE


It’s not just about music. Harmony can mean the harmonious coöperation of … well … you name it. Harmonious, as in smooth. Without a hitch or fights. No arguments, pulling, shoving. No disharmony.

Our most extremely harmonious host and hostess …

These days, life is full of pulls and shoves, so when things are going well — as they have for the past few days — it is harmony through the land! Ring the bells of jubilation!

Photo: Garry Armstrong — And “Serenity,” a totally harmonious boat …

I should mention for you gamers out there that I got a unique try at playing a whole game of “Star Trek” on the virtual machine. Running a star ship is a lot more work than I imagined. I was exhausted when I finished. I felt like I’d really been running a space ship! Tom says “Skyrim” will be even more awesome. It makes earlier efforts seem slightly primitive. Each generation of this technology is a leap over the previous version. While the “humans and sort of humans” look very realistic, they don’t yet look entirely real. But I’m betting in a year, maybe less, they will.

I absolutely know if I got one of these machines and a game? My blogging days would finish in a hurry. Lucky for everyone I haven’t got that kind of money or blogging be damned … I’m off to see the universe and blow up some spare moons!