July 6, 2006-November 15, 2018 With gratitude to Oliver for his noble and gentle spirit. Companion in “empty nest” and during lonely call nights; eager and athletic frisbee competitor; courageous hunter of chipmunks, toads, and snakes; and enthusiastic welcoming face—and tail—to dozens of violin students. Thanks for the laughs and the cuddles. Missing you, Buddy.
January 8, 2019
This afternoon finds us back at the previously ill-fated Sumpter Recreational Area near Aliceville, MS, where Steve had a miscue with our anchor windlass last September and had to find a ride to an ER for stitches. We return on our way back down the river system to loop around Florida this winter. It is a beautiful spot, and we welcome the opportunity to replace those memories of fear and vulnerability with positive ones. And what better day to do it! It is 74 degrees under a mostly blue sky strewn with wisps of mares’ tails and a shiny golden ball that makes us squint and of which we have some vague memory. We shed our long sleeves, shoes and socks and are lounging on the flybridge, pretending for one hour that lounging is all we have to do, before a scurry, albeit a low-key one, of stowing things from our recent return to the boat and dinner to prepare. The enviable scene is short-lived, however, as tomorrow the high will drop 20 degrees, and rain is forecast for the week end.
So, where have we been since Thanksgiving? Well, mostly back at our “dirt home” in Goshen. After our wonderful Thanksgiving during which our five adult kids and my amazing 92-year-old dad were with us, we returned to the boat. Not having been on the boat for more than 30 minutes, I received a phone call that Dad was in the ER and was thought to have had a heart attack. Three hours later, having learned that his troponin levels had increased, we decided to return to Indiana, a 1400-mile roundtrip. Dad was released from the hospital several days later, and as he continued to have angina, we decided to stay put. We had not anticipated celebrating Advent in any of the traditional ways this year, but that’s precisely what we did: we put up a tree, attended festive dinners and concerts, entertained and socialized, and even spent a week end in Chicago for an opera at the Lyric. Christmas Day was a quiet one with the honor of hosting our three parents. They were good and congenial company for each other, but it was a very different Christmas without Mom, without our kids, and missing Oliver.
Dad’s heart seeming to stabilize through the holidays, we started thinking about resuming our Loop. Good friends Wishart and Mary Bell offered to schlep us down to Mississippi, and the thought of their joining us for a couple of days on Red Pearl was compelling. On Jan. 5 we packed all of our kitch, a big cooler and 2 new counter stools, into their Honda CRV; and with four drivers it was not difficult to make the drive in one day. It was a production to figure out how and where to park their car a day’s journey downriver so that they could join us for a leg of the trip, catch up with their car, and drive home from there; but with the assistance of a rental car and the marina courtesy car, we made it happen. Wishart and Mary were great help, lovely companions as always, and the perfect folks to help us discover some perameters that make it work to have overnight guests aboard our little boat. We had great fun and look forward to their visit again, as well as others of you, our friends, too. So this is a tentative invitation: Bring your sleeping bag, a towel (we do have guest sheets and towels, but this made it so much easier!) and boat shoes, and we will see whatever is in the vicinity through the “back door,” water-side. We will watch sunsets and sunrises over the water, share and ponder one another’s stories, joys and challenges, and eat well! Do consider a visit!