Being Back, Vodka Truth Serum, and Adjusting

It is very good being back, though the noise of a city was assaulting and being afloat but not being on the hook was and is confusing.

When I go to sleep here at Lee’s Landing, I don’t make any note to check the anchor, but here on Lake Union we bounce when either some leisure craft comes by creating an (illegal) wake or when one of the very large barges or ships from the dry docks comes by. Bouncing at a dock was quite rare on the trip.

Bouncing from waves that strike the side of the boat is a danger signal that we’re dragging the anchor and cause for instant action.

A boat throwing a good-sized wake heading through the Fremont Bridge to saltwater.
A boat, throwing a good-sized wake, heading through the Fremont Bridge to saltwater.

Early one morning, when I sat up in bed, Jennifer asked, ‘‘Do you know where we are?’’ I took is as a real question, indicating she didn’t know, either.

When I answered ‘‘no.’’ She said Seattle, and after a few minutes the fog cleared and I realized where we are.

I didn’t really want to return, and wouldn’t if the business of life didn’t require it.

Jennifer is glad to be back and will welcome the move to Phoenix. Living in these tight quarters with Hilary never more than an arms-length away is difficult for Jennifer. It is also more difficult here to keep Hilary’s routines, so the bed is wet a much higher percentage of the time than on the trip.

Our first night back, in celebration, we went out for a burger at Nickersons, the bar cum restaurant at the corner of 4th and Nickerson.

The burgers were a disappointment – for what it’s worth the best burgers we’ve had in a very long time were at Quay West in Campbell River.

One of our friends had been drinking Vodka. Somehow the blog came up and the our friend commented, ‘‘Enough of the stove. No one wants to read it. It is the most boring thing I’ve ever read,’’ or something like that with contextually correct profanity inserted to make the point.

It was amusing to hear this, but it did bring up the question, who am I writing for?

At first, I thought that perhaps I was writing for me: A self-indulgence, but I already keep a journal* where I can self-indulge and write whatever opinions I want. Admitedly, in anything written for publication, there is a some amount of quest for glory.

I have a varied audience. I was surprised to find I have any audience at all, other than close friends. The number of people I meet that reference this blog is humbling, though I admit so far everyone I have learned about who follows the blog has no more than one degree of separation.

There are gear heads out there, like my friend Erwin, who are actually interested in the boring stuff, like the stove and the electronics.

But, the long and short of it is that I write about what interests me, and try to write in a form that will interest other people, and inform them. Who do I write for? I hope everyone who comes in contact with the blog. The act of blogging, I hope, makes me a better writer.

When I was very young, I wanted to be a writer, but thought that writers were magic people who were beyond anything I could even strive to be.

By college, I was writing letters to my friend Shirley Ann at university in London, Ontario. The letters were long things written over a pitcher of orange juice late at night in my parent’s living room.

In one responding letter, Shirley mentioned that the other women on her hall looked forward to my letters. I never wrote another.

Somehow during college I lost the knack. Love letters to the woman I eventally married came easily, but when I started working, even a simple business letter was beyond me. But, my professional life demanded papers. By the middle 80s, I could easily generate thirty-page studies that were instructive, and my business grew as a result.

About four years ago, my friend Peter Coleman asked me to write for his publicationn GXPress, a newspaper-industry pub for Asia Pacific.

During one of my attempts to stop working, I realized that as someone no longer looking for clients, I could stop worrying about offending potential clients. I threw caution to the wind and wrote whatever I damn well pleased. The response was wonderful, telling me that when I was transparent as a writer, I write things that are interesting – I also at that time started using Dragon Dictate, which taught me to think and write in complete sentences rather than in phrases. On Caro Babbo, I have returned to typing as Hilary finds dictation too confusing.

I write for anyone who finds this interesting and I strive to make it as interesting to as many people as I can. I write because it is a skill, or perhaps a craft, that I want to get better and better at.

In the middle 1990s, I was working at a group of newspapers in the Chicago area with some soon-to-be long term friends.

I asked the managing editor of one of the pubs, Sue Schmitt, about writing articles for newspapers. She was kind and taught me what kind of money she paid for stories for her suburban weekly. It would never be enough to  live a decent life on. I had known, but never realized the extent that being a writer is like being an actor: the chances of making enough money to actually live on is so remote as to almost be chance – Or really, really hard work.

So, except when I have written the up the results of work I have done and marketing materials I have prepared for clients, I have only written without pay. GXPress is a free gig, which I am thankful to have.

Good writing seems to be about developing a voice. It seems to be about, like singing, developing one’s natural voice. I hope I have found mine.

Being back, we’ve noticed a bunch of things: We’re taking in less calories, for example.

I am trying to achieve retirement – or the act of not working. What is the balance between working hard on projects and feeling relaxed without stress?

My productivity has dropped significantly since we’ve returned it seems, though a surprising number of items are disappearing off my to-do list. The majority are tasks that I was sure I would easily accomplish on the trip.

[I’ve been writing this during our morning routine. Hilary has been seated across the table from me, drinking coffee and eating a couple of pears. Jennifer has given Hilary her pills. In recent days, Hilary has forgotten how to take pills. Once in her mouth she doesn’t know what to do with them.

This morning at 5.30, I returned from visiting the ‘‘shore head‘‘ and stepped, barefoot, into the urine-soaked mush that was the absorbent material inside Hilary’s underpants. She had gotten out of bed, removed the wet material and returned to sleep in the wet bed.

We are off routine a bit, Hilary is generally up at 4.30 to use the bathroom. We change her underpants, and if necessary, change the bedclothes. This morning I cleaned up the wadding and mistakenly dumped it into a bag of apples I picked yesterday for an apple crisp I will make for breakfast this Sunday.

I let Hilary continue to sleep, and then changed her clothing and bed clothes while Jennifer showered. This is a not much different sequence of events than would happen living in a house, only it happens in about 150 square feet.]

We’re moving towards a normal shore existence and catching up on things that can ony be done here, like visiting doctors and friends.

This past Sunday we made breakfast for our marina. The weather coöperated and the food turned out well.

In the next few days my brother Chris’s son, Vince, arrives in Seattle as part of his move to the west coast. He’ll be the center of the breakfast with folks coming to meet him.

The next blog post will most likely be about the stove, I’ll try to title it appropriately so that you can skip it, if the trials of cooking on board are not what you’d like to read about.

*Surprisingly, I made no personal journal entries that entire five months we were gone. I’ve thought about reconstructing it from the ship’s log that Jennifer has religiously kept, and may do that so I have some continuity. Part of the purpose of the journal is as a reference, ‘‘where was I on that date?’’ Something my life style has made more necessary than I would have thought, looking forward as a young man.

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

6 thoughts on “Being Back, Vodka Truth Serum, and Adjusting”

  1. John, take heart, I also enjoy reading about the stove, the electronics, the engine, and all other missives about your sailing experience. Please continue! 🙂

  2. I love everything you put in the blog! And even before I got to the
    next paragraph I had committed to commenting that I enjoy all the
    comments about the stove, the engine, and the electrical system.
    My apologies to the less technically oriented among us!

    Like a musician who will play whether he gets paid or not, I am
    an engineer who builds and fixes things whether I get paid or not.
    Its sort of like breathing.

    Looking forward to helping on the next nautical improvement,
    and the next voyage!

  3. John,
    Reading your blogs is “like” mom and I talking to you over breakfast after you returned from one of your trips.
    For us, a look into a different new world.

    Always interesting always exciting.

    In the old neighborhood it was, “screw the world, just talk to me!”

    Your biggest fan


  4. Hey John,
    Today Mom would have been 87. Just imagine!!!!!

    In 22 days (If I reach it) I’ll be 89…..Who’d a thunk????


    1. My financial planner asked me how long I expected to live. I told him given your life style, I expected to live forever.

  5. Hi John, just caught up with your latest post (from Vienna this time, for the Expo) and delighted to be able to do so. I suspect many will read your blogs for many years to come, as people still read cruise books, and to vicariously enjoy an adventure they wish they were undertaking themselves. That goes for me. Meanwhile, thank you for the plug, and the ‘free gig’ remains open when you’re ready to take it up again.
    Best regards, Peter (and Maggie)

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