August 25, 2008

Hey now, let's sail!

Freakin' wow. Those folks at the TSA are serious. One little joking, thought-I-was-so-funny comment from me while passing through Southwest Florida International and, wham, there I was, basking in enemy combatant status in the Lee County Jail until I could coordinate with my attorney to es-PLAIN my deconstructive sense of humor and what I REALLY meant by those comments about the end of G.W. Bush's reign. Yikes. Send lawyers, guns and money.

That's the short version to explain my absence. But no worries, I'm back in Chicago now, enjoying late summer sailing.

With pictures.

Oh, sorry no, not pictures of the Lee County clink. Sailing pictures. Like this one:

Now, take note boys and girls, this is the sort of enthusiasm I appreciate while we're under sail. The adorable moppet is my colleague Matt's son Frank. Frank is three (though he'll insist he's five) and one of the best pilots we've had on board. He approaches the wheel with unmitigated joy. Clearly.

Frank, his lovely mom Jenny, and Matt were first-timers aboard Smitten for a post-workday sunset cruise a few weeks ago. I love having newbies on board, especially three-year-old newbies, because it lets me re-experience the pure awe you feel the first time you sail a boat. The wind is moving us! Point the boat this way and the wind moves us! Holy smokes! It's an odd feeling of power leveraged by vulnerability. Are you harnessing the wind? Or is the wind simply (and, we ever hope, benevolently) toying with you?

Matt thinks this picture is so funny because he looks like such a wise old hand at the wheel. He fell victim to a game Dave and I play, particularly when we have newbies aboard, which is to take advantage of all that newbie awe and energy and make them do all the work of sailing. And then we kick back and drink wine. Ha! Life is good.

My oldest-friend-in-the-world Mariah (which is not to say she's my oldest friend, but the friend I have known the longest ... you know what I mean) joined us in June for some R&R aboard Smitty. I'm kicking myself because I realize I don't have a picture of her from that outing. So pretend she's sitting on a boat, not a bike, in this photo, and you pretty much have the same look of joy that she displayed the entire time she was sailing with us.

Mariah was either just starting out or had just completed a 45 mile ride in this photo, which makes her an IronWoman in my eyes.

This pic of mom-in-law Joyce and her handsome fiance Chuck was technically not taken while we were under sail, though Joyce has logged many hours on the water with us:

The pic was taken while securely tied off to H Dock in DuSable Harbor on the occasion of my aforementioned 50th birthday party. Which reminds me that before the end of sailing season, we need to get Chuck out on the boat so we can celebrate that time-honored Keelhaul-the-New-Guy tradition that has been merrily practiced by Great Lakes mariners for many millennia.

Among our most beloved veteran sailing guests are Dave and Margo, notably because they sailed with us on one of those remember-for-the-rest-of-your-life trips we took a couple of years ago to Greece, where we sailed the Greek islands with a flotilla of like-minded adventurers. That's Dave aboard Smitten with my Dave and Chicago, not a Greek island, in the background:

And here's Margo with my Dave:

Excellent cooks (and staunch vegetarians), the deal was Dave and Margo would be in charge of provisioning and cooking during the course of the Greece trip, and my Dave and I would be in charge of sailing. But being inquisitive people with appetites for new experience, provisioning/cooking Dave and Margo soon took over sailing detail, and my Dave and I...drank Greek wine.

Our other favorite veteran sailing guests are these members of the Keene Clan:

This is Todd falling prey, again, to the old let-the-guests-do-the-work scam. Todd's well familiar with the game and happily plays along. Like everything he tries, he does a great job at the wheel.

His sister Erin, shown here with droll friend John, has over the years perfected the art of relaxing aboard Smitten.

I hesitate to play any sort of rating game when I think about all the guests we've had on board, but if I did, Mother Victoria would certainly rate VERY high on the list:

Here she is with Dave, and Todd (to whom she is married -- I introduced them so I get to bask in their perfect couplehood). For her endless enthusiasm, high spirits, and fantastic provisioning skills that include delectables like gorgonzola-stuffed pears, nutless cheese balls (hard to explain), and the sort of mini chocolate cupcakes that will make you sob with joy, Vicky should probably just be given the keys to the boat and with any luck she'll let us aboard to drive her around.

Come back soon. I promise I'll be here (in my Helly Hanson and my topsiders, not an orange jumpsuit with LCJ emblazoned on the back) because I've got a couple more groups of funseekers coming aboard and they're all wielding cameras.

Happy sails to you...

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