Tag Archives: Ciara

YEAR END 2021

POSTED: January 1, 2022

2021: Well there is a year to kick to the curb! What a bust. Like everyone else I started the year not believing this was to be going on indefinitely and looking forward to my shots. Got the shots. One, Two, Three.  Feeling better about the future. Then omicron.

Traditionally I do  a round up of the letters I have received over the year. On ones that are focused on topics that are hopelessly personal I respond to directly, but most are of a general nature and if more than one hit on the same topic I respond here.

There is this crazy thing that has been going on with this website for the last several years. Each year there are more and more regular readers and each year there are fewer emails. One day I may succumb to the use of social medial platforms but not to this point. So, if I haven’t made it clear to date you can reach me at djangobisous@bell.net

Here goes.

Are you going to be stuck in Malta for 2022?

Stuck! Stuck? Malta  is quite a special place, with some great people, a really multicultural vibe and a fantastic climate. While it is true that I had never envisioned myself staying in one place this long,  Malta is a damb nice place to hang out. I have also carved out a very enjoyable life here, something that had escaped me until just a few years ago. I get to teach some simple cooking classes, do the cooking for Malcolm, Martha, Gerhardt and Gabrielle and in exchange they pay for the groceries and wine. So with some sales from the Django Store (you can go there after reading this posting, LOL) I am actually getting a bit of money ahead for when En Plein Air will need some attention beyond the usual upkeep. Based on that  I fully expect Ciara and I will stay here until things really do improve with this pandemic.

For a while you were on a real rant about U.S. and other politics and now you seem to have changed the channel – what’s up with that?

Well, when I was doing that critical analysis and political review (ranting)  Donald Trump was very much on the scene and with him in office, and Putin in the Tsars thrown, it was hard not go down that rabbit hole. The world today is not really much better – the climate is a mess, most countries are inching to the right (although it was nice to see Chile move to the left), Hong Kong and Ukraine are about to fall, the spread between the haves and have nots has been growing, and oh yea- we still have this pandemic and much of the world is focused on its own well being and not on that of pandemic in the third world.

Beyond those world events, this year, like most Canadians I was beaten up by the whole discovery of all those indigenous children who had been abused and died in Canadas Residential Schools. This is not ancient history, in my time  kids were still being sent to these places. The Turks hang their heads in shame when they think about what the did to the Armenians, the Germans when they think about the Holocaust, and the Americans and others, slavery, and this is right up there with those awful acts. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a start.  Reading their Calls To Action is a good place to start if you are not familiar with this: calls_to_action_english2.pdf (gov.bc.ca)     The Canadian Government is working toward  various restitutions, reconciliation and compensation. Almost all churches and religious groups involved have apologized and are taking steps to acknowledge their roles. Yet the Roman Catholic church continues to refuse to apologize. Perhaps its time to tax the church properties.

So yes, I am still mad as hell, disappointed in my generation, and totally at odds with uncontrolled capitalism, but I am not going to dwell on politics in 2022.   I have  stress based neurological disorder, and other than my concerns about these topics I now have carved out a nice life. Some people have helped with that, but I am now almost self sufficient. I get to enhance peoples lives every day both here in real life and from the emails I get from people who like what I write. And most of the emails I get are ones from people who are struggling with understanding life, just like I am, and if some of my ramblings have helped them that really makes me try to be better each day.

Your cookbook reviews are interesting and quirky. Many more of those coming up in the next year?

Quirky? Quirky?  Thank you.   There are so many fabulous chefs, writers, and food reviewers out there that I don’t try to do the straight review. I just tell what I think of a particular cookbook or how to approach a dish and that’s it. One review that I have been meaning to get to is based on those really out-there cookbooks that are fabulous at covering some really off beat topics. Some are the favourite recipes of famous people, so you get a bit of insight into how they think. Others are really off beat cooking techniques like manifold cooking. My buddy Jim has a stack of them, and I can spend hours with a bottle of wine going over them. I did that one afternoon and evening when in Canada in the fall and took some pictures and notes and am working on some of the recipes.  So yes, expect to see that in 2022.

You have described your life during Covid as “hiding under the bed with a bottle of wine” – is that the forecast for 2022 now with Omicron?

Well Ciara and I, and almost everyone I know has there three shots, and have a good set of protocols for living in quasi – isolation. With that said at my age I don’t want to piss away any of my remaining functional time on the planet so I have some personal goals for the year ahead. I am not really one for New Years Resolutions ( I have a bunch of unused ones that are in a box under the bed and when I am hiding there with the wine they are sort of right in my face) but I do like to set some goals for the year.

A few weeks ago, before we knew we were going in for another round of this Covid business and starting to let a bit of optimism creep into our lives, I was out for a walk and was chatting with a fellow who seemed to be a bit older than I who was walking his Beagle in the park. He seemed like a nice lad and we had a good chat. When I asked him about when he had received his booster he laughed and said a long time ago – “one of the advantages of being old”. He told me he was 92. That is old enough to be my dad!

Now this is a guy who is very lucid, could probably beat me at backgammon and was out doing his regular walk with his dog. I had to ask what the trick is. He of course talked about moderation and a getting a bit of exercise but talked more of enjoying each day while making plans for the future.  He doesn’t like the idea of not moving forward, even though we are in a pandemic,  so he has some goals for the upcoming year.  Some were quite modest, but some were it seemed to me somewhat ambitious. He says he has always objectively looked at his skill set and experience and set goals that are just one little notch above what he has done before. He also tries to not repeat what he has done before in travel, initiatives, or adventures. Wise fellow. I look forward to running into him again.

I am thinking through my thoughts for the next year. Its easy to just slide into the notion that we have to sit and wait to be told its safe to come out from under the bed, but my meetings with people from my reunion last year and a variety of conversations with friends going for the big sail or renovating a lighthouse have me ready to take on something new this year.

And before wrapping this up I was sent a picture by a buddy who is a bit hyperactive and who historically has lived for making plans for the future. He plans house moves and trips and his finances and what to have for dinner next month so for him Covid has been a really scary thing. He has been learning that he can’t plan anything as so many things change. It has been good for him, I think.

The image he sent me was one of him poking fun at himself as he has taken to using the term pencil booked as everything he plans he has to be able to erase with the changing Covid situation. His Delta erasure has seen a lot of action, and he now has a fresh, new, Omicron one. While he is  a bit more of a planner than most, I think it says it all for most of us.

See you on the other side.

Django

FORTY-EIGHT

Posted: August 1, 2021

In the spring of 1973 I graduated from Champlain High School in Ottawa, Canada. That was forty-eight years ago. And about a week ago I received a note from my longtime buddy (and classmate) Jim H. who still lives in the Ottawa area, letting me know there was a movement afoot to have a reunion on October 2nd , the first for our year.

Wow.  A high school reunion. There are few things that conjure up such a mix of emotions. I know that for some the nine weeks from hearing of this until the actual event will be the period to: lose 40 pounds, get a facelift and win a Nobel prize for physics. Well, I never was much good at physics. Physics and a few of the other sciences did various cameo appearances on my high school F column with the regulars Math and French. Yeah French, and I have a French heritage. I am kind of squeamish when it comes to surgery so that puts the face lift out of the question for me as well. Forty pounds? I think it might be easier to get that Nobel prize in the nine weeks.

Now while high school is a pretty crazy time in the evolution of teenagers it was particularly strange in that period when I was there – 1968 to 1973. Yes, that is a five year period because at the time Ontario Canada offered a four year high school diploma for anyone wanting to pursue the trades or community college and a five year diploma for most people who aspired to go to university or had parents with such aspirations for their offspring. I had such parents.

And what was happening in that 1968 to 1973 period? Well at the beginning of that period the Cold War was still hot, the war in Viet Nam was heating up as both a war and effectively a civil war in the United States as well, and  Martin Luther King had just been murdered in April of ’68.  In 1969 gay rights in Canada were opened up, the Americans put a man on the moon, and by October 1970 the War Measures Act was used in Canada to try to manage the FLQ,  a Quebec liberation group. Women were fighting for their liberation, race relations were poor, particularly in the U.S., and as we now know, the Canadian Government with the Roman Catholic Church ramped up both the Residential Schools and the forced assimilation of our indigenous peoples with the sixties scoop. Shameful. It really was a very screwed up time on most fronts and many of us had parents who had no idea how to cope with the perspectives their teenagers were developing regarding many of these issues.

In contrast to those turbulent times the soundtrack for our high school life was amazing. It started with The Beatles releasing The White Album and then Abbey Road and the Stones releasing   Beggars Banquet and Let it Bleed. Led Zeppelin was formed.  By the summer between grade 9 and 10 we had Woodstock. If you are new to this website you may want to look back in the archives ( MY VERY FIRST POST,  posted December 14, 2013) to Jim C’s Woodstock experience and the recent follow up to that  (WOODSTOCK: 50 YEARS LATER, posted August 15, 2019). Every week a new album would come out that today would be considered epic. And as if to celebrate our graduation in 1973, Pink Floyd released The Dark Side Of The Moon.

Of course, that flood of new music was also reflecting growth on some amazing music from before and I have great memories of sitting at Jim H’s living room listening to Gene Vincent Rock and the Blue Caps Roll, or his fathers Dave Brubeck albums.

And that’s the really fun part of memories. It is not just the music but the link of that music to what we were doing at the time.  I have fond recollections of lounging in the dark listening to the Moody Blues in Myles C.’s basement after a warmup joint outside, and singing along to The Who, Rush  and Black Sabbath  while riding in Bo M’s amazing Datson 240Z with the music just loud enough to have the whole city turn to listen.

Ahh, the cars. Bo always had a nice ride, as his dad was in that business and Bo would clean the cars and sometimes bring them home. Jim H’s parents had the ’66 corvette stingray fastback, and Steve Z. got a brand-new Corvette for graduation. The rest of us mortals, rode bikes, motorcycles, took transit, walked, borrowed our parents’ cars or had really old junkers. I had an 80 cc Yamaha motorbike, that spit and coughed and farted all the way to wherever I was going. My main man Jim C. had saved a lot  so that in January 1970 when we both turned sixteen, he had bought a three-year-old Volks Beetle  and drove it to the driving test – Yeah, don’t ask.  He delivered pizza with it part time and loved that thing. But one sunny Sunday morning in August  of that year on a tight bend near his parents’ cottage he rolled it.  That turned him on to doing autobody and worked on a lot of other guys cars over the rest of High school.

For some of us we did not do high school well. At the time, what we now call Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder was in its early stages of identification and treatment,  and the confusion for most practitioners was that some inflicted with this had  a big attention deficit while others had not as much but a lot of hyperactivity. For most of us with it , the identification only came much later than high school, after some seriously disastrous experiences. I have ADHD but unlike my buddy Jim C. who was given an extra dollop of the H part I got an extra dollop of the AD part. It meant that I was laid back and identified as “mentally lazy”  and he was identified as “overwound”. I just cruised through high school failing stuff and for him the behaviors are as if you took  a regular kid, gave him a bunch of amphetamines, a couple of double espressos and send him off to school each day.

He channeled it into track and field – literally to run it off. I, on the other hand, would self medicate. Both of these techniques work to a degree but only partially. Each of us only figured out we had this later in life and much too late to have a very positive high school experience – at least academically.

Our high school  was a little weird as well. We had a real range on the socioeconomic front – some not very well off, some exceedingly well off and most of us in the middle. When we were in grade 10 the school board decided to turn our school into a Francophone school and the English school would be phased out. We were the second last graduating class as the year behind us was the last intake of the English students.  I think it was a Canadian application of the U.S. bussing program that had been so successful. LOL.

The result of this phase out of the school’s intake was that each year the scale of the student body dwindled, and as normal attrition was also occurring with some families who would move away, the number of students in our year also went down in size, as no new families moving to the area  could have their kids join us as this strange orphaned school.  There were positives to this small size of course in that we were a tighter group and could do some things that at the time were unique like moving the whole bunch of us (students, teachers, admin people)  to camp together, but in general we could not put together a football team or have as many extra curricular clubs etc.

Looking back over almost half a century is also scary. We look at the choices we have made, the experiences we have had since high school and how we might have done things differently. I spend a lot of time writing on this website  reflecting on life, looking back and looking forward. I think if this reunion happened twenty years ago I would have been pretty uptight about it,  but now it has been so long it is just a novelty that we have made it this far and will be fun to get reacquainted. But it has taken me this long to get to that point that I can see my high school years more  objectively and pull out those positive memories. It is as if over the years I have gone through a set of slides and year after year thrown out one or two of the bad memories only to be left with mainly slides of the good times and the positives that have come out.

Forty-eight years is a long time. That number has significance for Jim as he retired on his forty-eighth birthday and significance for me as the trip we did in June 2004  was En Plein Airs forty-eighth trip moving people to safe points as I described  in THE NEW MILLENIUM, posted March 26, 2017.

My buddy Jim C. has a lot of travel points and has got me a ticket to come over, see my doctor, dentist, and go to the reunion. The flight is by way of Ireland so Ciara is joining me for that leg as both of us need to sign statements at the police station regarding the death of her ex husband and then she is staying on for a few weeks as she needs to do something to keep up her medical accreditation. I will be in Ireland for just a day and then off to Canada for a few days of quality time with my doctor, dentist, and people I have not seen in about five decades.

I am now off to the library to sign out a bunch of physics texts.

Django

High School Django

P.S. As regular readers know I don’t usually put in pictures of myself as I like to keep a low profile but here is one of me from my high school days in grade twelve or grade thirteen. I am going to spend some time trying to find some images of my classmates and if they are cool with it, I will post them here as well.

PAIRING

POSTED: June 1, 2021

Everyone knows how sound travels over water. And proximity is also a pretty significant factor as well. So, the opportunity to really sleep-in when on a boat in a marina, located not very far from others  is often a rarity. While sleeping-in may not be in the cards it is not de rigueur for someone to move up the wake-up time with any extra noise. This rule is pretty universal in marinas where any liveaboards are moored.

A few weeks back that unwritten rule was broken.  An older lad, Andrew, who lives on an exceedingly beat up old keel boat a few docks over decided to dust off his bagpipes. He also got it in his head that it might be nice to practice first thing in the morning. YIKES.

I make a point of not putting pictures of myself out there on the internet, but trust me – I am a guy who needs his beauty sleep.

Now anyone who reads my  pieces regularly will know that I am more of an independent spirit than a leader but somehow, Ciara, Malcolm, Martha, Gabrielle  Gerhardt and a few others got it in their heads that I should speak to him. This was on the line of thought that because he had taken a course with me (Cooking For Leftovers) that I knew him. Well, he is a nice enough lad, but I didn’t really get to know him much as he was not very vocal in the course, but I took up the challenge.

Andrew is a very big guy but a quiet sort and well over there on the shy spectrum. He is a borderline recluse and does not have a cellphone, a computer or most other modern devices but seems to have books in abundance. His boat floats, but its not clear to me that the sails have been out in a long time, and the hull is covered and really looks like a high school science project. None of the wood details have any colour left as they are all grey, decayed or missing. I have never seen him hanging with other people and he seems to keep to himself a lot so I really did not know how it would go.

My buddy Jim, who made his living negotiating transactions, tells me that there are a lot of different techniques for negotiation. I went with the tried-and-true technique of taking a gift to open the door to a dialogue. Before dinner I made up a bunch of canapes, and Malcolm armed me with  a nice bottle of Spanish Rioja Gran Reserva, that could keep up with some of the more  spicy canapes and a French Sancerre to pair with the more delicate ones,  and I strolled over to his slip.

He was very pleased to see me, and we spent some good time chatting, eating and drinking. We have both had our first shots for Covid and stayed about a metre and a half to two meters apart.

I had the opportunity to talk to him about food and wine pairing and how well the two very different wines matched with the different canapes. It was a shameless introduction to talking about other pairings that work really well and some that are not as good.  This got us to the notion of pairing bag pipes with my morning sleeping schedule.

The meandering chat covered a lot of ground and as I had  consumed a warmup glass of wine before leaving En Plein Air to fortify my negotiation skills, and I think he had consumed a few beers before I arrived, a transcript of our dialogue would not be helpful here.

But some good ground was covered. The key thing that we established was that there are two pairing issues with his bagpipes. The first is that they are a piercing bit of auditory chaos at the best of times and best appreciated when fully awake. The second (and I take full credit for this bit of brilliance) is that it was not Andrews fault that the traditional bagpipe repertoire is more suited to a royal wedding, or the bestowing of a military honour, and is not up to his true musical capabilities. I had brought with me some sheet music of a song from a fellow Canadian, hoping that Andrew knew how to read music and as it turned out he did, having studied the piano as a kid.

He was really pleased with the ideas I presented and agreed that in these difficult Covid times playing something like that tune at about five pm would be a signal to everyone that we had collectively made it through another Covid day, and it was time to relax.

I went back to En Plein Air quite pleased with my outing and to prepare dinner for the little group that we eat with. Over dinner I did not share with any of them any details of our discussion, only that I was hopeful that the next morning would be quiet.

I awoke at the crack of nine the next day, feeling refreshed with no bagpipes to be heard. All day I lived with the anticipation of what might happen at five. And yes, at about 5:10, a little scratchy at first, but then really getting its momentum, Leonard Cohens Hallelujah came wafting across the water. It was like a call to arms and much of the marina was clapping and cheering when it ended.

It is now almost two weeks later, and Andrew has become the popular kid in the schoolyard. On a regular basis people are bringing him sheet music and bottles wine, and many now are seen sitting out with a drink, for the 5 pm ish piping out  of the day.

Its all about the pairing.

 

Django

P.S. While Hallelujah has become a regular, the range of sheet music he is getting is quite formidable and last night While My Guitar  Bagpipes Gently Weeps   was a crowd pleaser.

Earlier today, Martha just took him some Coltrane music, so we all live in anticipation of that.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM PETANQUE

Posted: August 1, 2020

Now it would be easy to think that I never leave En Plein Air, and that is largely true. But sometimes I do leave to get some exercise, and do some chores. During Covid 19 I am largely on the boat, on the marina slip or in the nearby park. I keep two really nifty and horrendously expensive fold up bikes on the boat, courtesy of a British couple who thought they could run out without paying their bill after a four-day weekend last year and forgot to take their bikes. I still smile at that bit of justice. So I get out on one of those sometimes.

Yesterday I was at the park beside the marina and playing Petanque with Ciera and it got me to reflecting how much that game is a metaphor for our current times. If you don’t know Petanque it is game played like the much better known ball game of Bocce. The scoring and many of the rules are the same but the key difference is that the Frenchman who came up with this fairly new (1910 ish) game thought of, in contrast to Bocce is that you don’t need a court. Bocce is played on a nice level court with little walls you can grace the ball off, and the predictable surface, and consistent width and length or court, makes playing it a skill. Watching talented Bocce players coax that ball around other balls on the way to its destination close to the little Cochonnet or Jack ball  is a thing of beauty.

And just to stay with Bocce for a minute the image below is a bit whimsical. When I was in Key West visiting Janice and Jim last time we went out to their local Bocce court and played a game. In Key West, play is regularly interrupted for either the feral chickens running through or one of the huge iguanas sauntering across. Crazy place.

Iguanas at Southernmost Bocce Club, Key West

So Bocce, and British Lawn Bowling for that matter is this refined pastime played politely on tidy courts. Petanque in contrast was invented to be played wherever you have the space – on gravel, on grass, with a slope or even on sand. Steel balls about the size of tennis balls are used instead of the larger resin Bocce balls.  Petanque is not as much a rolling game as an underhand throwing game to get close to that little Coche or Jack ball.  There is significant skill involved of course in getting your ball to fly through the air to get close to the target, ideally with a little backspin to keep it from rolling too far, but because it is played on an irregular surface that irregularity is a great equalizer.  Just a little bump in the ground from a root or stone can humble a good player. So in that regard if Bocce is chess, Petanque is backgammon with that roll of the die to add an element of chance.

Parenthetically I should add that I think to play Petanque according to true French tradition you must have a baguette, some cheese and wine also on hand. This also equalizes the quality of play!

The use of a beret and French sailors stripped shirt however will just get you laughed at.

So why do I think this is a metaphor for our current times? Well, Bocce is predictable. You do certain things in a disciplined way and the outcome is pretty easy to forecast, even if the chickens and iguanas have messed up the court a bit, because once they pass, things are largely back to a normal surface. So in life, you study or learn your trade, you work hard and employ good discipline and behavior and pretty regularly your career or life works out.

Petanque has that crazy bumpy surface with roots and stones that makes every throw a new adventure. I think that is where we are right now.  Some have hit a nasty bump and lost their incomes, their jobs and in the extreme cases, their lives. Some have had their business fail that not only takes away their livelihood but their nest-egg and crippled their plans to sell the business and retire one day. Some have hardly noticed the effect of this pandemic financially and are just enjoying so much take out food. In general it has been very bad for the poor but randomly unpredictable for everyone. I see it here with some losing their boats, while others are excited by the buying opportunities,  and for some a certain thinking that with the world at an end – anything goes.

OTTIMISTA

The only stocks I buy are stalks of celery, but when I hear people in the financial worlds talking I know that the conventional wisdom is that in a down market you buy to get your average cost per share down and your dividend yield up, and in an up market you sell to harvest the yield from your earlier good buying discipline. But this may well be a different time. Some will benefit I am sure from that old strategy and some of the “smart” money will do well but just as some people made money in the early days of tech and the early days of legalized cannabis, some lost everything in both of those sectors.

Certainly it is a time when lots of people are experiencing some changes in their lives that while not positive, have some positive elements and ones they never would have experienced voluntarily.  Slowing down, spending more time together, evaluating what is important in life are all things we see happening all around us, and those are positive trends.  The most common response I get when asked what someone will do when this is over? Hug a friend.

PESSIMISTA

I think any of us who chose to continue on the planet are at some level optimists. But I also  think that most complex things are not as binary as that.  We may be optimists on personal growth and pessimists on financial security. Or pessimists for the short term prospects and optimists for the longer term. And those of us who are on the wrong side of a certain age have seen enough to be cautiously optimistic, or pragmatically pessimistic. Experience counts, and some of us have the knowledge that we don’t have the time left to get some of this wrong so we may be quite positive in attitude but make decisions to protect ourselves if we are wrong.

This post has truly been a bit of ramble, but I think we can learn a lot from the game of Petanque.

Django

A TRIP TO IRELAND

POSTED MARCH 9, 2020

Europe, even southern Europe, is not very hot in winter. The south over the winter is at best, temperate,  and if you are from a northern climate while it is nothing like the extreme cold in Scandinavia or The Baltics, it’s not the season anyone is looking to pay to go out on a rickety old boat in the ocean. So sometimes I use the time to get some things upgraded or repaired on En Plein Air as we did last year in Greece, but other years it’s the time for me to catch up on some things, like going back to Canada, seeing some people, seeing my neurologist and doctor and dentist.  I look for an inexpensive place to moor for the winter season, and now that Captain Ciara is on the scene she is part of the decision making as well.

So my plan for this year is to do that Canada trip in April but right now, as I write this, I am sitting on a train, and using the train’s wifi, on my way to Ireland. Ciara is staying on the boat, which is currently moored in Malta, and she has one of her female doctor friends visiting from Medicins Sans Frontieres.  That’s the organization Ciara worked with for many years when she had to get away from her ex-husband. I don’t know if her friend is more than a friend but they certainly seem close so I hope they have a good time while I am away. Malta is not hot in March, but relative to Europe it’s pretty nice. The temperature when I left was about 17C but sunny so if you are doing anything where you are moving around its short sleeve and shorts weather but not first thing in the morning or later in the evening when the sun goes down.

My trip is to satisfy one of those wishes that “Django the Gennie” agreed to grant Ciara when she agreed to join me as captain. I have referenced before that her ex is a bit of a piece of work. Well, I am not going to detail all of it but from the stories she tells, he was always abusive, and when she “came out” first to herself, then to him, it really got bad. That’s when she left him which was not long after they had married. She has gone her whole adult life since that time trying to function with him ignoring court orders, being physically and verbally abusive to her, and threatening to her friends and family. She left the practice of medicine in Dublin when her mother passed and joined MSF, but still, he would on occasion find her and she would move on. What a way to live.

We all have choices in these matters – fight or flight and Ciara has made a lifetime of flight. Now you might think in this sad story this is the point where there is a turn – a point where our hero/heroine decides to fight – well that’s where you would be wrong. My task in going to Ireland is to lie to the guy and give him back the wedding ring and tell him that she has died just to get him off her trail. It’s not really the underdog winning story we all want but it’s a choice she has made in response to the reality she lives in. So I am off to a little place in southern Ireland where he lives a rural life, does odd jobs as a carpenter, and generally hangs out with others like him.

I am traveling with just a small backpack with some overnight stuff, Ciara’s wedding ring to give back to him, and a bottle of Bourbon – yeah he likes Kentucky Bourbon more than Irish whiskey so you know he is a bit messed up by that alone.

If you surveyed most people who know me, on where I fit on the Macho/ Normal / Wimp measure of fearlessness, most would put me somewhere in the Wimp category unless it is for a cause I believe in, which would push me up into the Normal category. For the task at hand, I have quite a bi-polar perspective – I am mad as hell at this guy and scared as hell as to how my dialogue with him is going to go.

I am going to have lots of free time when I get back to Malta so you should see several posts this winter. I really have a few good ideas for some food-related ones.

Django

CAPTAIN CIARA

Posted January 5, 2019

Usually, my posts are thought out and a bit more reflective, but I am pretty bogged down with lots going on so this one is going to be tight and without as many of my usual diversions.

I got my new captain! From my post last summer about Captain Kyle post you know that I had my eye on her for some time but she had other commitments, so I muddled through waiting to get her on En Plein Air. The wait was worth it.

Her name is Ciera and for those of us who are not Irish its pronounced Kee-ra. She is about ten years younger than I am -ok I will help you with the math – she is in her mid 50’s. To be brief, she is a medical doctor, a bit on the run from a nasty husband, and lives in the moment. She is a great captain, much more like Captain Sven, so I can just not sweat how the boat is handled.

She is from County Cork and her dad was a sailor. He didn’t do much fishing but used his boat in season to take tourists out and tell them stories about the region. In the off season, he would write but was never published. Her mom worked a bit with her dad on the boat but was a textile artist who at times just made really kitschy pieces for tourists but in her later life was recognized for her landscape quilts and had some pretty big art shows.

Ciera was not artistic and unlike her parents, she was focused on science, which eventually led her to a degree in medicine. Much of her adult life was not very nice and I will have to leave that to another day to tell you about.

So all through her life, she sailed with her parents, and that skillset and a healthy respect for the moods of the sea, made her the captain she is.

The deal I cut with her is pretty straight up. Everything we earn goes first to the boat – repairs, dockage, fuel, any hookup charges, and also includes our personal food and wine. The rest gets split between us. So what this amounts to is that in slow months there is nothing left to split and once we get to some good months there will be a bit, and of course, this is getting her and me our room and board covered in the boat costs. But she has a pension and some money that she can access when she needs to and I have my little Canadian allowance so life is pretty good and when things are slow she will be able to go traveling a bit and with someone to look after the boat in slow times I will be able to make plans to get back to Canada to see my neurologist, my dentist and a few friends like Jim and Janice.

Everything I just described in terms of our arrangement is what I proposed and she agreed to but she had one other stipulation that I agreed to. Whenever she wants and for three times, she can ask me for a big favour. And she made it clear they are big – like donating a kidney big.  I have a good sense of one of them and even though this is a really open-ended commitment on my part I agreed. Life is a gamble and from the exposure I have had to her over several months I trust her.

She is almost as tall as me, attractive with long grey hair and is not overweight but solid and probably stronger than I am. I understand through her whole life she has worked out which makes her quite a contrast to me.

So before you all start getting excited about this as a new romantic relationship in my life (that was the first thing Janice said when I sent them an email about her) you should also know she is a lesbian. So this is my business partner, captain, and buddy I am introducing.

I will fill in more details later but for now I am in a bit of a scramble as we are off to the southern coast of Greece having some mechanical work on the boat done in the off season.

Django