Friday, August 19, 2011

New Job for Jeff

Jeff's last official day of work here at the City Marina was June 3rd. It was a personal choice. Life had become too political and complicated for a guy with a pension, so he resigned. There were several boat chores that needed doing, and some much needed R&R. But he was not deigned to be unemployed for long. A fellow harbor resident came to him with a tip that the charter company that she works for needed a captain - ASAP. Jeff went and talked to them the next day and shortly after he was making practice runs to see if he could handle the boat and/or wanted the job. He didn't hit the bridge and could get the power catamaran easily in and out of the slip.

So now Jeff runs the snorkel boat, "Starfish," out to the reef with passengers on a regular basis.

I had the privilege of being one of the passengers quite recently and plan on making it a habit on my days off pending availability and weather.

The day I went, it was a beautiful, sunny, calm day. With a light breeze, the trip out to the reef was quite pleasant and much cooler than being on land. It was a full boat and I was barely able to squeeze in, but the boat has a capacity of 40 passengers and there were 39 paying.

Jeff cruised through the narrow span of the 7-mile bridge without noticeable concern....the only point of the trip that is particularly hairy or potentially dangerous.

Then we were in the open water dodging lobster and crab traps.

Out at the reef, Julie - the first mate, made quick work of getting the boat secured to the mooring ball and then it was everyone in the water!

I found a comfy place to lay on the nets to soak up a bit of sun and scenery and stay out of the way.

All was well until a couple of little girls were stung by jellyfish and screamed their full heads off. Jeff and Julie administered what first aid was possible and the girls finally quieted themselves when Julie produced a bag of oats to feed the myriad of fish surrounding the boat.

The reef was somewhat inundated with moon jellies, and while quite beautiful to watch swim by, can pack a powerfully, painful sting.

Soon enough, it was time to gather all the snorkelers and head back to shore with a pleasant boat ride to the bayside.


this is pretty much what a day at the office looks like for Jeff...

Congratulations, Captain.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Maddie Time!

July 26th was my niece, Maddy's, third birthday and I recently made the trek to Greensboro, NC to be a part of the festivities. I left Marathon on a Thursday morning along with my friend, Megan, who needed a ride to Daytona. It was nice having company for the first 8 hours of the trip and the stops at Robbie's of Islamorada for trinkets and The Blue Marlin in Key Largo for breakfast.

Then I was on my own. I stopped for the night in St. George, SC and then finished up the trip the next day.

Upon my arrival, I walked into my brother's house to a great big grin on a three year old who immediately broke the ice by announcing she had a wedgie...then promptly went about removing the offending article of clothing from it's delicate position in a bout of giggles.
The rest of the afternoon followed suit with lots of giggles, tickles, and hugs.

My father and his wife, Barb, had arrived on the scene the previous day. Now I just had to wait for for my brother, sister-in-law, and mother to get off work. We spent a jovial, family evening together...ordering carry-out from Elizabeth's Pizza and taking turns entertaining Maddie.

The next day was the big event: The Backyard Birthday Bash!

10 a.m. Saturday morning the party-goers started to arrive. Everyone was shown to the backyard which had been transformed into a party wonderland complete with play-set, tot-sized picnic tables, and 2 wading pools, along with an assortment of bubble-wands, squirt bottles, balloons, and snacks.

At some point, the cake arrived and shortly afterwards all our little guests were gathered up and taken home.

With just family left in attendance, lunch was served: a grand buffet of just-smoked brisket and pork shoulder, beans, slaw, and 7-layer salad. Delicious!

Afterwards, there were presents to be opened and little Miss Maddie could hardly contain herself. The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging about in good company, with a bit of an outing to some of the local shops, and then a rousing game of Whist with my mom, my dad, and Barb in which some of the rules were suspect and quite possibly completely made-up by my dad.

Sunday morning I was up bright and early and asked Maddie if she would like to do some jumping jacks with me. Her response was enthusiastically affirmative. So, I did my Insanity workout with a 3-year old which proved to be truly insane. She grabbed my leg while I did leg lifts, sat on my back for push-ups, "got me" during several inopportune moments, and decided to switch to Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman part way through the DVD. Somehow, we got through it and while she ran off to get dressed, I hopped in the shower.

We were going to the farmer's market!
But, our first stop would be breakfast at the Moose Cafe.
After a yummy meal of biscuits, gravy, sausage, eggs, and bacon we set out to peruse the farmer's wares. I had big plans to buy some homegrown tomatoes since I hadn't had a good one since this time last year. Maddie held my hand as we strolled about gathering all my market favorites: grits, crackers, cheese curds, spices, a ham hock, and most notably - cherokee purple tomatoes!

It was during our shopping that Maddie learned to use the word "cooperate" even if she didn't totally grasp it's meaning. She loves to hold on to 2 adults and swing in the middle as we walk. My brother, Keith, obliged for several such swings and then dropped Maddie's hand in search of produce. Maddie looked to me for a solution to her swinging dilemma and I shrugged my shoulders and told her that daddy simply wasn't cooperating. Without missing a beat, she grabbed Jolene's hand and said, "Cooperate, Mommy!" as she threw her weight forward resulting in the desired swinging effect.

With our shopping complete, we headed back to the house.

Later that afternoon, I ventured out to Morning View, the assisted living facility that employs my mother, to give her a hand with calendars and bulletin boards. Then it was back to the house for me for a fantastic dinner of BBQ pork and a myriad of fresh veggies and tomatoes from the market.

Monday morning came early to the Henning household as everyone set out in different brother to work, Maddie and Jolene to daycare and work, and my dad and Barb to take the scenic route back to Indiana. I worked out in the peace in quiet - unmolested this time around - and ran a few errands. But, it was quickly back to the house for me for Maddie's 10:15 arrival. After her swim lessons, I had her for the rest of the day!
And what a busy day it was!
My mother arrived around 11:30 to find Maddie and I soaking up some rays and splashing about in the princess pool. By then, we had already played with play-doh, watched approximately 30 seconds of 4 different DVD's, covered a multitude of paper with watercolors, and had a snack.

While Maddie and Sarah went upstairs to get on some dry clothes, I made us some lunch.

Next, we made dog biscuits and baked sugar cookies with sprinkles. Then we played a game, stuck some stickers, went for a walk, had a snack, painted more watercolors, read a couple of books, got out the dominoes, dumped the building blocks, and lots of Maddie's favorite activity - playing with my phone.

We were all happy to see Jolene/mommy when she got home but for entirely different reasons.

I could have certainly used a nap at that point, but it was a great day!

Tuesday rolled around much too soon and it was time for me to say good-bye... and saying goodbye to Maddie was certainly the hardest.

After she headed off for school, I packed the car, made one last trip to Target, and went over and spent a bit of time with my mother. Her and I had lunch at Brixx's Pizza and then I hit the road.

But, it wasn't quite time for me to start off for FL. Instead, it was a 2 hour trip to Kenly, NC, to visit with the Smiths - family from a previous marriage. It was great to see my niece, Josie, my nephew, Zachary, and Mark and Anne. We had a great time at the local Mexican restaurant with good food and drinks and a variety of friends.

Unfortunately, this was to be a rather short visit - although a little time spent together was better than none at all.

The next morning, I was merging onto I-95 shortly after 5am.

I would like to say that it was an uneventful ride and that I made it home in the expected amount of time, but that was not to be.
I noticed on one of my stops to get gas that my rear tire was low. I filled it to the appropriate pressure and hopped back on the road. An empty tank later and the same tire was low again, only this time I go to air it up and the valve stem comes off in my hand. I immediately think that this is not good, so I use the GPS [Thanks, Jensina!] to locate the nearest repair shop. I call the top one on the list and am informed that I have contacted a mobile service and after listing his exorbitant fees for his assistance, he told me that there was a Wal-mart nearby that would probably do the trick.

Well, Wal-mart was not as close as I was led to believe, and after another stop to make sure I was headed the right direction I decided not to risk driving any further on my lame tire and change to the spare. This is when I discovered that a very vital piece of my jack had gone missing. Luckily I had a bit of help from a gentleman who very graciously changed my tire using a part from his own jack. I proceeded to the Wal-mart rather anxious and ambivalent about my impending repair bill, but my mind was immediately set to ease when the technician behind the counter told me that a flat repair would be $10.
I was expecting something much worse.

The boys at Wal-mart made quick work of fixing my tire and stowing away the spare and then the final bill came: only $2.12 for the broken valve stem!
I couldn't ask for better than that.
A quick run through a drive-thru and I was back on the road with 4 tires holding air and only 2 hours behind schedule.

I left the mainland hit Highway 1 just as the fading sun set into the purple sea. I had one more stop for gas and the Arby's that I had promised Jeff. I arrived at the marina after a long 16 hours in the car and boy, was I happy to be there!

I slept very late the next morning and then had a nice trip out to the reef with Jeff on the snorkel boat...but that's another blog entry entirely!

So traveling is all well and good, and I had a lot of fun with family and friends and all those I love in North Carolina, and I especially enjoyed my Maddie time...


Home is where the boat is!