Friday, January 27, 2012

Life among the natives.

Last night we were just thinking about going to bed when one of our immediate neighbors got a bug up his butt (or too much beer in his belly) and decided to test his diesel engines.
Both of them.
Fumes rolled through our boat and after a few minutes Hans was ready to have a talk with him. I asked Hans to just let me handle it and reminded him that Neighbor had promised us another batch of his homemade clam chowder and I really didn't want to mess up a good thing. Neighbor finally shut his engines down and since our cockpit door was still open he hailed me from the dock. He was indeed three sheets to the wind and he came over bearing gifts. I waited until I had the grapefruit and key limes he offered in my greedy little hands before I asked him what the hell he was doing running his engines so late. I can't remember exactly what he said but I told him I didn't care how 'pure' his diesels are, they still stink. I got a happy wave and a "Good night, Sweetheart," in return and Hans said he'd like to know what goes on during the day when he's not here.

Then this morning I woke up earlier than usual when Luvvy BadGirlBadGirl got her daily ass smacking much sooner than normal. With such an early start I've no doubt it wasn't her last one of the day either.

Hans and I love our marina and we're certainly enjoying sunny skies and 70 something temperatures all the while knowing it's gray and cold back home. What we're trying to get used to is adjusting to having one vehicle. I know that sounds spoiled but if Hans takes our one remaining car to work that means Wilbur will not get to the dog park (4 miles away and NO! I am not walking him all the way there) and he will therefore spend his day and unspent energy outsmarting me (not a difficult task I assure you). Since Hans' accident, Wilbur has scarfed down an entire loaf of my homemade banana bread and just yesterday he dug into the bottom of our garbage can and gobbled up the double bagged carcass of a chicken I'd boiled for a homemade batch of chicken soup. I came upon the chicken carnage yesterday after returning from a mere fifteen minute absence. After opening the cockpit door, I was greeted to the sight of shredded plastic bags, garbage, and a guilty pit bull cowering atop of our refrigerator where I've no doubt he was searching for more banana bread.

Digestion can be an exhausting activity.
When I was young I never dreamed I would spend my middle years intently inspecting the output of a pit bull's intestines, but that's exactly how I've spent far too many hours since Wilbur came into our lives.

Wilbur feels quite strongly about the misunderstanding of pit bulls and he demands that all laws banning his beautiful breed come to an end!!

He would probably be taken more seriously if he could just remember his pocket protector.

I'm glad we brought our bikes with us since it's a lot easier and faster for me to get my running around done when Hans has our vehicle. But this also means I'm spending more time out among the local population. A couple of days ago a man hailed me from the parking lot of a medical institution and since he was so insistent, I was stupid enough to stop. He wanted to know if I would like a part time job. I could work from my home. He thought I should know that I'm very attractive ("Nothing personal," he added). He could pay me in cash (he whipped a wad of bills out of his pocket), or he could give me a check (he then tried to impress me with his business acumen by adding that he'd provide me with a 1099 tax form). He certainly hoped he wasn't offending me (something he repeated many times during our bizarre encounter). He also deemed it necessary to fill me in on tidbits of his life; like how when he was a foolish teenager he managed to knock up his girlfriend (now ex wife and current meth addict) and that his daughter only contacts him when she wants money. I squelched the temptation to ask him why he didn't offer this peachy job to them so they could at least earn their money, but my desire to end this impromptu interview was stronger. His shirt was unbuttoned to the waist and in addition to the thick chain around his neck he wore two watches, one of them a huge gold (no doubt knock off) Rolex, and a ring with about a thousand (fake) diamonds. And gee, only just last week he'd made over two hundred thousand dollars. He also kept roughly bumping into me which really made me nervous and I was glad I was on a main drag of highway. After giving me a generic Wells Fargo business card ("That's where I bank," he stated proudly, and I didn't bother to tell him that here in Florida, it's where everyone banks) with his phone number scribbled on it, he pointed to a condo off yonder. "That's where I'm staying," he told me, but by now I was desperately trying to get away so I wasn't looking. He nudged me again, "I said that's where I'm staying," and then added, "I'm in room 309 but I don't want you bothering me."

I have no idea what the job was (or maybe I do!), but can you believe that I'm not going pursue his exciting offer?

As for Hans; on the days he leaves our vehicle with me, he gets to ride the bus. And riding the bus here is very interesting indeed! It's not quite like Europe where thanks to the cost of fuel (not many can afford to pay $11.00/gallon), public transit is the norm.

For some reason the buses were running way off schedule one night so Hans got to sit in the bus shelter longer than usual and it took him over an hour to make the seven mile transit home. The bus shelter is just as interesting as the bus, and it's a great place to bond with your fellow passengers before boarding. You get to share beer, cigarettes, and stories about your last incarceration. Poor Hans, since he doesn't smoke, he doesn't quite fit in.

I'm going to ride my bike to the beach today (and the beach is a whole different story believe me!), and you can be sure that after I get rid of our garbage and hide the brownies I made last night, I'll be peddling like mad and giving room 309 a very wide berth!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life continues

After Hans' accident, we're enjoying our rather mundane existence here on the boat. Especially since I could easily be planning his funeral.

Random images pop into my head now and again from our evening in the emergency room. Like when I first spotted Hans on his gurney. He was facing backward and all I could see was his bald head, but I knew it was him and I was so relieved to see him sitting upright. How at one point I noticed that his eyes were red-rimmed and he looked so puzzled and vulnerable which is just not like him. And he would say again and again, "All I saw was a flash of red." "I never saw it coming." And like I said, he'd repeat this over and over. His bruises have grown even bigger and have changed from a lovely shade of magenta to an ugly yellow and in some areas, nearly black.

Last night I finally let Hans take the wheel of our remaining vehicle for a one mile drive to our marina and it nearly did him in. He was shocked at how much it took out of him and how his chest (which is now a hideous mustard yellow) protested from the exertion.

Since Hans only took one day off from work (I would have needed a month) due to this whole fiasco I made sure he did nothing today. And for the first time since we moved here, we never set foot ashore once. I don't think a sloth could grow moss faster than us and so far we've eaten our way through fried eggs, corned beef hash, home made fudge brownies with walnuts, chicken wings, and oven baked macaroni and cheese (I love our propane stove).

Wilbur also jumped on the band wagon and has only ventured into the cockpit a couple of times to take a pee, even though he knows I'm waiting for him to get rid of the entire loaf of banana bread he inhaled when he was left alone while I drove Hans to work. Wilbur (whom I found cowering in our berth) claimed it was a sacrifice on his part as he's very concerned about what that wonderful propane stove is doing to his mama's hips.

"Who, me?"

Our entertainment this weekend has consisted of too many political shows, football, and listening to each others arteries harden.

We're continuing to find out bits and pieces of information about what led to the accident Hans was in that caused so many injuries and damages, and it's very disturbing.
We now know the police were not chasing an armed robber. They were chasing a purse snatcher. And it's not like he was some sort of serial purse snatcher who spent his days running about willy nilly and knocking little old ladies to the pavement thus shattering little old lady hips.
What this dude did was steal money out of the purses of family, and family friends. Of course these victims then ran shrieking to the police about the heinous crimes committed upon them and then stated that 'Junior' swore he'd never be 'taken' and would only go out with a fight. This so reminded me of stories my dad used to tell at the dinner table. Years ago Dad worked with a woman who would complain about how some dirty SOB stole her TV set and it would turn out that the SOB was her father. She would eventually get the TV set back only to have some other SOB steal it (usually a brother or a nephew). These people spent their lives stealing from each other and calling the police more often than we call for take-out pizza.

So this piece of crap is what four policemen felt the need to chase at high speeds through a semi residential area during rush hour. And I have to wonder what went through their minds when they heard the explosion of metal on metal and witnessed pieces of vehicles fly through the air as a direct result of their chase of this desperate criminal.

We've since read in the paper that if the police recognize a perpetrator by name and knows that finding said perpetrator will only be a matter of time a chase is not necessarily warranted. But purse snatching, even if the perpetrator is unarmed is worthy of a chase.

Dear God I'll never jay walk again. I would imagine that's a crime punishable by death.

But only if there's a police car nearby.

Can you tell I'm pissed?

I still think someone has some 'splaining to do!

Especially this dude.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

It's always something!

A few years ago a seat belt warning light came on in Hans' car and even though it would cost a chunk of change to fix, Hans had it taken care of anyway.

Actually the mechanic told Hans that he was fixing it whether Hans liked it or not.

Monday night that seat belt repair was put to the test when our car and 270 pounds of force (Hans) came up against an airborn car traveling at approximately 60 MPH. I'm relieved to report that the seat belt and Hans survived, as did the handful of other people in vehicles who were hit by the car that was speeding down the wrong side of the road while being chased by at least four police cruisers.

However, our vehicle and the passenger of the speeding car did not.

All Hans remembers is driving through a semi residential neighborhood on his way home from work when out of nowhere he saw a flash of red and a fraction of a second later he was sitting stock still, air bags deployed, looking down at his legs and thinking, "I guess I'm alive." When he couldn't open his driver's side door he crawled out the passenger side. The flash of red he'd seen was a car and its remains were now resting on the front of our car where it eventually came to rest. Lying in the street a few feet behind Hans' vehicle was a man covered in blood and apparently the driver of the red car. We later found out (via the newspaper) that the passenger was dead and pinned between the red vehicle and Hans'.

This is what we've been able to piece together:

The passenger in the red car was apparently wanted by the police. They saw him sitting in the passenger side of the red car and gave chase.

Four police cars and a fleeing suspect speeding through rush hour traffic in a 35 MPH zone? Let's face it there was only going to be one resolution to this, the only question being, how many cars and/or pedestrians would become victims.

The red car was traveling in the wrong direction in Hans' passing lane when he hit a pick up truck directly in front of Hans (Hans never even saw this it happened so fast). This spun the red car sideways and partially ejected the passenger who then slammed into an SUV. The car continued to spin and was airborn when it landed smack in front of Hans car where Hans T-Boned it and apparently crushed the passenger. A car behind Hans was able to jump the curb and keep from rear ending him. Luckily no one was on the sidewalk. Just down the street however a little girl had been riding her scooter on the sidewalk and her father who was watching her said it sounded like a damn bomb had exploded.

The police were driving so fast they went right past the wreck and had to turn around.

This happened around 5:20 PM, I got to the hospital around 6 PM, and I was allowed to sit with Hans in his little emergency room cubicle. These cubicles consist of curtained partitions thus allowing for absolutely no privacy. I am a very queasy person and for the next few hours I was entertained by the sound of gallons of phlegm being sucked out of a poor mans lungs in the cubicle about a foot away from me. On the other side of us a man started demanding drugs before they even finished wheeling him in, during the insertion of his catheter, and before and after he puked. Hans got to leave for X-Rays and then later a CAT scan while I stayed behind and tried desperately not to throw up too.

I'm not being cruel, I just know I could never work in a hospital.

Except for the nasty bruising that was already showing up from his seat belt, Hans was deemed healthy enough to go home and so we left the hospital sometime after 10 PM. Echoing down the halls behind us as we departed I could hear the escalated cries of our neighbor as he called out, "Dear God would you just give me my drugs!"

Hans took yesterday off and needless to say he's moving around pretty carefully. His left elbow and right knee are very sore and his bruises have expanded and are now a lovely shade of magenta. He's also started in on the fun task of dealing with insurance companies etc... At one point one of the insurance people asked Hans if the offending vehicle had insurance or not and Hans told her he was really sorry but they hadn't exchanged niceties and she'd have to ask the police that question.

Which reminds me. While Hans was getting X-Rayed a woman came in and told me Hans had a $200.00 deductible and how would he like to handle it. I started to say I wasn't sure and then all of a sudden something came over me. I told her Hans was damned lucky to be alive, we no longer have a car, this accident should never have happened, and while I know they deserve payment, as far as I was concerned we weren't giving them a penny, someone else could just cough it up. I then told her my ears were on fire I was so mad. She really was a sweet person though and asked if we were part of that awful accident. She then asked me if I had a police report number yet (we didn't) and she said to make sure we got one from the police before we left. We did.

So today I took Hans to work and we drove past the accident site. It's just feet from the intersection where Hans was going to turn to come home and I can't believe those cars were able to build up such high speeds. They had to have flown through the intersection and we wonder if they actually had a green light!

The blue car is (was) ours and the body of the driver was a few feet behind it. As far as I know he's still alive.

I'm not sure where the red car's engine ended up, and supposedly the body of the suspect is between the cars.

There have already been a lot of questions raised about the necessity for this chase.

While we were at the hospital we were led to believe that it was the result of an armed robbery in progress. And boy oh boy, if the driver lives he's in a lot of trouble including homicide, we were told. We then heard that the police happened to drive by the red car and recognized the passenger as a wanted suspect. In that case was a high speed chase really necessary? They couldn't have radioed that the suspect was spotted at such and such street and was northbound? If four policemen were so close by (and there was at least one unmarked car in the chase), they couldn't have taken turns and drove a few cars behind (this was a very bright red car) until they were in a safer, less congested area? And I have a feeling they would have found him again at some point anyway as he continued living here during his purse snatching, ripping off pawn shops, life. And so far no one seems to know where and when this robbery occurred.

Other's have said that we have to expect some collateral damage when the law tries to keep us safe from criminals.

That's well and good until you or your family become the collateral damage.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

More liveaboard stuff

So life continues to march on at our marina.

When we skidded to a stop here this past August there was just a handful of boats bobbing around. It's now January and we pretty much have a full house, and most of us are liveaboards.

I make the rounds almost every day which involves walking the full length of the marina in order to get rid our garbage, pick up the mail, get ice, and once a week do our laundry. During my little sojourns I have a chance to visit with whomever is out and about and Wilbur usually accompanies me, except for the days when I have a full load and little patience.

Depending upon who's awake, above board, new to the marina, all of the above and/or sober, I may be gone for a few minutes or a few hours because the one thing I've discovered; most cruisers like to talk. And talk. Even more so than me if you can believe that!

And of course I get a kick out of those with pets aboard. One newly arrived and cute young couple has a dog named Luvvy. Luvvy is an adorable Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix and even though I've been assured that she's 'trained' she spends a great deal of time jumping ship every time another dog (especially a certain hunk o' burnin' love named Wilbur) ventures past her boat. Luvvy's boat is directly across the marina from ours and while Hans has gone to great length to explain to me (with his scientific brain) about how sound travels over water louder than it travels over land, this much I know; Luvvy's full name is Luvvy BadGirlBadGirl because I hear her being called this all day long.

I guess this means that everyone in the marina knows that Wilbur's full name is 'Wilbur GetOutOfTheGarbage'.

And thanks to Hans' scientific explanation about sound waves I'm pretty sure everyone here knows that poor Luvvy BadGirlBadGirl fell overboard yesterday and had to be fished out of the yucky marina water.

I also know that Luvvy BadGirlBadGirl gets her ass smacked on a daily basis.

I no longer try to do our laundry on the weekend and let those who don't have time during the week to do theirs. And that brings me to the 'what do I do with someone else's clothes that have been sitting in the washing machine all day long' dilemma. Normal laundry rules state that if you find wet clothing in the washing machine you have the right to remove them and place them on a table. I knew this rule yet was hesitant to take action one day upon finding both washers full of wet clothes, and then another live aboard couple took care of that situation for me and the guilty party got all pissed off at them instead of me. When all was said and done, Guilty Party (whom we discovered had gone out to breakfast after starting her laundry) accused the other live aboard couple of stealing the quarters she'd supposedly inserted into the dryer (I mean c'mon! who puts money into the dryer ahead of time?!). The live aboard couple was furious at this accusation and in a very dramatic fashion threw Guilty Party's wet clothing into a dryer and slammed a bunch of their own quarters into the slots.

So laundry room drama aside, what I'd really like to know is why Guilty Party (a live aboard here for over 6 years) has air conditioning units running 24/7 all year round on her boat, even in January, when the rest of us are huddled around our space heaters.

Hmmm, when was the last time anyone saw Mr. Guilty Party?

I'm just asking.

One of our neighbors is a disabled vet and he bought a refurbished sewing machine a few years ago with the hopes of replacing some of his interior furnishings. As of tonight, his machine is now in my possession and tomorrow I'm going to try to figure out why 'the sonofabitch keeps jamming'. But only after I dump the garbage, get mail and ice, hit Beall's outlet store to return a couple of shirts (Monday is Senior Citizen Day and I insist on getting my 15% discount), take Wilbur to the dog park, and hopefully get about four loads of laundry done.

Just in case anyone feels like giving me a hard time at the laundry room, I'm taking Wilbur GetOutOfTheGarbage with me. Who's gonna argue with a crazy lady and her pit bull!

You can see for yourself why he's to be feared.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Perhaps we deserve this.

Now that's some cold beer!

I'm talking about the current weather situation here in good ol' sunny Florida.

You see, when we first announced to family and friends that we were moving to Florida, we received a lot of not so encouraging remarks about what we might expect to find here. And once we did arrive I did nothing but bitch about the insufferable heat. Fall finally showed up along with cooler weather and we became a bit smug. Every night after work, Hans would get online and announce the temperatures from back home and we'd laugh and laugh. "Oh boy," we'd say, "Twenty degrees and snow!" "You know it's gotta be gray there all day long!" "By the way, did I tell you I rode my bike to the library today?" "Are we heading out into the bay this weekend because I'm not sure if we have enough sunscreen?"
Shame on me. I should have known better.

It's like when I warned Wilbur that he should remain humble and not brag to his friends at the doggy park about his recent a mani-pedi (that's how he refers to his nail clipping trips to Petco), and he ended up getting his butt kicked by a poodle.

Don't lord what you have over others because in the end it will come back to bite you in the butt big time!

We woke up a couple of nights ago to a howling wind, loose halyards (not ours!) slapping at their masts with a nerve wracking rhythm , and feeling ourselves being jerked from side to side in our slip. We arose the next morning to cold air and no hot water. Normally we only need to turn on our hot water tank once a day and our water will actually stay hot all night long. But when the weather gets cold so does the water in the tank. Sadly, we can't use our space heater and hot water tank at the same time as they draw too many amps.

This has made my lazy life a tiny bit complicated and I threw in the towel today and took my shower in the bath house since it was too cold to even think of taking one on the boat. I couldn't decide on whether I wanted warm air and cold water... or warm water and cold air.
Far too confusing for me.

Poor Wilbur has truly become a hot house flower and this morning after Hans left for work, instead of lying down on his Steeler's pillow, Wilbur raked one of his big pitty paws down my side as I sat next to him on the settee. What the...? He did it again. I felt like Lassie was pawing at me in order to let me know that poor dumb Timmy had fallen down a well yet once again. Then I realized the big stinker wanted under my blanket. But I have to tell you I'd already draped a fleece blanket over him but was this enough for our Little Man? No! He crawled onto my lap and nudged his head under my blanket, heaved a deep pitty sigh, and went back to sleep.

Where's Wilbur?

I can't imagine what he'd do if he had to go out in the snow to do his business, as it is he doesn't even like to leave our warm cabin and take a few steps to his very convenient potty patch located on our stern!

"You want me to go out there? No thanks, I can hold it!"

By the way, if you like getting attention everywhere you go, from the dog park to the grocery store, wear your Penn State sweatshirt. Yes folks, when I purged my wardrobe for our trip south I donated every stinking sweatshirt minus one!

I may not leave the boat until spring.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Foggy New Year's Eve

I'm sure a lot of people are pretty foggy after celebrating New Year's Eve but that's not what I'm talking about here.

After flying to Pittsburgh on Christmas Eve for the holidays, staying in a different hotel every night (in addition to one very fun night at an old friend's home), eating too much, longing for a minimal amount of family drama, not enjoying the cold gray skies and hoping we wouldn't end up in a ditch like lot of other travelers we drove past on the Interstate during a particularly slicker than snot snowfall, we finally landed back in sunny Florida.

Hmmm, we wondered, what should we do for New Year's Eve?

We decided if Mother Nature would cooperate we'd go ahead and anchor out for the night and relax.

Check it out.

No snow, no gray skies, and no winter coats.

Only sunny skies and a smile!

We only went a few miles out into the local bay and by 2 PM or so we dropped the hook and realized it's been at least seven months since we last anchored.

Another couple in our marina also headed out for the evening and we ended up anchoring next to each other. Rich dinghied on over shortly after we anchored and the general consensus was that we'd all go ashore later on and enjoy some local sights.

At one point we happened to glance up and realized the far shore line had disappeared and it was only about 4 o'clock. And just like a horror movie we watched as a dark gray cloud rolled over the water headed right in our direction gobbling up all boats in its path. It was moving along at a pretty good clip when Rich decided it was time to head back to his own boat.

Then a sail boat appeared out of the mist and we watched them try unsuccessfully to drop their anchor several times. Perhaps they thought we looked like we wanted company because the next thing we knew they were right beside us and the captain ordered his crew to drop their anchor. Hans quickly got their attention (I very seldom hear Hans yell and yes indeed his voice carries through fog!) and let them know they needed to move on along. He also told them there was tons of room directly astern of us but instead they continued blindly on into the anchorage.

I have no idea where they ended up.

By 6 PM we couldn't see beyond our life lines nor could we see one anchor light. I'm just glad we anchored so early, I wouldn't have wanted to be underway in that mess and needless to say we never did go ashore.

But by 9:30 or so, the fog lifted and we were treated to a beautiful view of a perfect half moon, tons of stars and anchor lights, and an unobstructed view of the shore line.

What we didn't enjoy were the fireworks because we never saw any! There were a few small displays far inland but that's not what we'd been expecting.

Wilbur gave Hans his New Year's kiss early. After a day on the water and only being able to use one light inside since our house battery bank informed us that it too would like a vacation, we were in bed and asleep by 10:30. This is the first time I can remember in my life that I didn't ring in the New Year.

Wilbur enjoyed his stay at Doggy Day Care while we were gone but was glad to get back home and hit the water. He's a true Salty Dog.

He was kind enough to hold this pose while I ran to get the camera. He knows everyone looks forward to pictures of his handsome pitty self.

It was an interesting year for us but thankfully we got through it and somehow I don't think this year will be any less crazy.