Deep breath. You can do this, Heidi. You can focus and get back into that groove, that happy place, where words come easily and you pull stories and recipes and musings about living aboard out of your brain and heart and soul (and yes, sometimes it seems, out of your ass!) and they flow into your lightning-fast typing fingers onto the page. You’ve faced far worse challenges where you felt like you were drowning and always burst through the waves for that big gulp of fresh air and a fin-flip to take you in a new direction. So why not NOW?
For two solid years I posted at least once a week on this Blog. If I knew I’d be busy, I’d write the posts and schedule them to go live so I wouldn’t miss a week. Not a single week for two years … over 100 posts and now at nearly 200. I had a nice following of people from around the world that read my writing and the feedback was always positive from friends and family. I would joke to my husband that I was an “International Blogger” and I had to keep up my Blog so as not to disappoint my “Fans.”
I wrote daily and scheduled time to write. I went on writing retreats, met with our writing group at local coffee shops, and found inspiration all around me. I submitted my work in competitions and read it aloud in front of live audiences. After not believing that I was good enough for decades, I proudly proclaimed myself a “WRITER.”
Then COVID-19 swept across the globe. Life turned upside down. Our plans to go cruising were put on hold. Again. I became the caregiver and Head Schoolmistress for my beloved grandchildren. I had to cease swimming at the gym and working out with my personal trainer. Grocery shopping was more for survival than for enjoyment so meals became boring. We watched the terrifying news of the infections and deaths as they rose and panic and fear were the prevailing emotions. Add the election, with so much hatred from the Trumpers, and there seemed to be very little light in the world.
They needed someone to blame for the course of nature. And so they chose a black stallion as the horse that I would ride to my death.
It was a grey October morning and I watched the sun rise slowly over the wide expanse of forest from my prison tower window. Those trees and the life within had been my home since I could remember. My entire family had died of the plague and the town’s spinster herbalist took me in as her own before I could walk.
I thought about the creatures and plants, the changing seasons and the incredible joy I felt within the dense woods. Mother Martha, as I called her, had taught me the secrets of the earth; which species could heal and which could cause death. I had learned well and succeeded her when she left to die alone in her woods two falls prior.
I had been called to the Queen’s bedside to help with the pain of delivering the first heir to the throne. I knew from the moment that I arrived that the child had already died and it would be an arduous task to expel the fetus from her body. I also knew better than to announce the death as I would be called a “seer of evil.” I would do what I could to ease the birth and leave the decree to the royal physician.
She took the pictures from the back of the closet and placed them in a box for the movers. She promised herself that she wasn’t going to look at them, but she couldn’t resist and turned over the small one that used to sit on her makeup table. As her fingers stroked the glass her mind drifted back to that magical day.
It went precisely as she had planned. All of their family and friends were in attendance, the sun was setting just as the ceremony ended, and the reception tent was aglow with twinkling white lights. So much love. So much joy. So much promise.
She was Cinderella marrying her Prince Charming and they were going to live Happily Ever After. That was then, back when life was easy breezy.
Both of my parents were born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the majority of my family lives in the United Kingdom. I am first-generation American and proud of my Orange-Irish heritage and can’t wait to one day sail “home” into Belfast Harbor.
Many who know me well have been schooled on St. Patrick’s Day on the difference between being Orange and Green Irish. I DO NOT wear green on St. Patrick’s Day as I am absolutely sure my father would look down with disapproval. The Orange Irish celebrate Orangemen’s Day with bonfires kicking off the festivities on July 11th and parades on July 12th. Homes and buildings are adorned with bunting and people crowd the streets waving the British flag. Read on for a wee bit of history about the holiday.
Ireland has a tumultuous past, to say the least. The picture above shows the flags of Scotland and Great Britain, represented by the Union flag, the Red Hand of Ulster, representing Northern Ireland, and the flag of the Republic of Ireland (Southern Ireland), the Irish tricolour. Much blood has been shed in religious wars for territory and power between these countries over the centuries.
Merrow packed her overnight bag thoughtfully. This getaway coincided with the Lover’s Moon. She would welcome a masculine presence, real or mystical, yet she wasn’t expecting any revelations as her morning tarot reading was unclear. The Star card served as a reminder to keep the faith and the Moon card predicted the existence of illusion. The Lover’s card showed up in reverse, which could be interpreted as conflict and the need to make a decision. She pondered the complicated meanings of the cards as she prepared for her journey.
“Got the survival kit packed: wand, broom, cauldron, chalice, crystals. Need to pick and bind new sage. Candles? Damn. Have to stop for a fresh pack.”
Merrow’s organizational voice carried on a conversation with itself as she placed clothing and toiletries alongside her spellcasting tools. She was an old soul and many ancestral spirits coexisted within her, each rising to the occasion when summoned and more often of their own accord. They had started as whispers and as she learned to listen and heed their advice, they had revealed themselves in signs and thoughts. Great Aunt Zelda, always the romantic, encouraged her to pack a pretty nightdress so she tucked a seafoam green silk chemise next to the altar cloth.
It had been a long night filled with people crowding our house and talking all at once. My mother alternated between crying and wailing, giving me a headache. The television blared the local station, flashing scenes from the Rockford Files with the occasional news update interrupting the program. Everyone jumped when the kitchen phone rang and hushed to hear who was calling. The cacophony returned when it was determined to be someone wanting to know if there was any new information. There wasn’t.
Outside, the storm raged. Branches blew from the trees into the pool, the patio chairs were on their sides and the umbrella was gone, but no one noticed except me. I sat alone in my father’s home office, looking out at our huge backyard overshadowed by a hill. Lights from the house illuminated the ripples on the dark water; a sharp contrast to the mild evenings of the past week.
It was New Year’s Eve and I was cruising up the Pacific Coast Highway in my Dodge Colt. On a whim, I’d decided that morning to ring in 1987 back home in the Bay Area instead of San Diego, where I had been stationed in the Coast Guard and still lived. My SoCal girlfriends would be whooping it up at the Country Bumpkin, our dive bar of choice, two-stepping and shooting tequila and kissing every cowboy within reach at midnight. A year ago I was matching them shot for shot and kiss for kiss, but not this year.
I was pregnant.
This wasn’t part of my plan. I was 22, carefree and looking forward to a long military career as a Radioman. Children weren’t anywhere on my radar. I’d just started dating a Navy Gunnersmate after ending a relationship with a fly-boy. It seems I had a thing for sailors even back then.
Mariah set the radar alarm for a 20 mile radius, stretched out in the cockpit and closed her eyes. She had trained herself to take cat naps instead of sleeping multiple hours at a stretch. Solo-sailing required a skipper to be on constant alert.
A soft bump woke her with a start. She sprang to her feet and scanned around the boat. Only inky darkness and the soft lapping of water against the hull. A low cloud cover had descended, blotting out most of the stars and the navigational instruments showed no objects in her vicinity.
Wondering if she’d hit a piece of driftwood, Mariah flicked on her headlamp and glanced over both sides. Nothing there. Clipping onto the lifeline, she made her way to the bow.
He was never physically abusive. But he was mean on a regular basis. Over the course of their 10-year marriage it eventually drove Felicia to therapy. It wasn’t couples counseling, of course. Joe didn’t think there was anything wrong with their relationship.
He provided well for them as a computer engineer. She was the consummate housewife, keeping a tidy home, working part-time at a little boutique and always having dinner on the table at six sharp.
They took vacations to warm beachfront locales: Florida, Hawaii and San Diego were generally the destinations as Joe didn’t like foreign languages and unidentifiable food.
Dr. Zelinsky didn’t just offer good advice to her therapy clients, she walked the walk. When she felt her patience level and usually upbeat attitude dipping she booked a weekend at her favorite spa.
Tranquil Vines was a little spot tucked behind a family vineyard in the Santa Cruz mountains. She’d have privacy yet enjoy the company of others with family-style meals on the patio. She could choose to partake in yoga sessions or meditate alone. And she always looked forward to sipping new varietals in the winery.
“Dr. Zee! It’s been a minute. How are you?” The winery and spa owner worked all aspects of the business, today pouring in the tasting room.
I live aboard a 42 ft Tayana Vancouver sailboat, hull #5 laid in 1979, with my husband and little dog. We are preparing to circumnavigate the globe in Fall 2020 and I enjoy blogging about our preparations for our journey, cooking in my tiny kitchen and writing short stories.