Category Archives: Live-aboard

Redundancy, clogs and gall bladders

What a couple of weeks that’s been. A whole year’s bad luck compounded into two weeks and then the cherry on the top last week – the other half being made redundant with immediate effect after finishing the project he was on. Three weeks before Christmas. Ho Ho bloody Ho.

Really though, after the initial shock, panic, horror and mopping around imagining that I was Mrs Cratchit from The Christmas Carol (although I think even Scrooge didn’t actually sack Bob Cratchit) things have worked out, dare I say, for the best.

It means Daddy Pig is now working on island again which means we see him more and NO MORE BOAT.

Some of you may wonder why I’m so excited about NO MORE BOAT and that would probably be my readers from the UK rather than the US. I don’t think Mainers would need to be told much more than the boat has lots of single pane glass and there are actually lots of open gaps to guess how freaking cold it could get. Fantastic and breezy lovely April through October. The Winter? Not so much.

For those of you that aren’t aware how inhospitable Maine can be in the winter, I’ll set the scene a little. The other day I took the dog for her walk and it was so cold her drool froze, three of my finger nails snapped off and my phone stopped working. And it hasn’t even got properly cold yet. Properly cold last year saw temperatures of -25 with a wind chill of -30. You throw a glass of water it of the window and it freezes before it hits the ground. Or, dog poo freezes in under ten minutes. Which is handy.

Add to that the fact that the docks and walkways could be sheer ice at times and I have to say my nerve was beginning to go. Carrying a wriggly baby around on ice over water that would give you hypothermia within minutes would un-nerve most parents let alone OCD safety Mum.

So we’re somewhat happily back to a life of grueling ferry schedules and icy cold beach trips for the foreseeable.

To make ends meet now, the other half is mainly chainsawing. I have to be honest, this scares the living hell out of me. A: we don’t have life insurance, B: he can be a bit cavalier with a chainsaw, C: we don’t have life insurance, D: he insists on leaping around in clogs and no protective gear and E: we don’t have life insurance.

The upside of this is that he’s looking all buff, won’t get all porky and pale like he would have done sitting in a shed with no windows most of the week and is not such a miserable shit as he’s getting vitamin D again.

I write this in almost our third week of self imposed quarantine. After ten straight days of no sleep due to the bug from Hades I’m not chancing anything stopping us getting on a plane to the UK on Tuesday for Christmas.

We did get out for a walk with friends yesterday but when she wheeled her buggy up to mine so the boys could say “hi” I kind of snarled and got a twitchy eye so she backed off quickly. Good to cement these quirky aspects of your personality early in a friendship.

It’s funny how three weeks without much adult interaction can skew your perception on things. The other day I had an hour long panic about running out of goji berries. Then I had an hour long panic about becoming the kind of person that could have an hour long panic about a weeks dearth of a berry most people haven’t heard of.

How most of Maine doesn’t end up on hardcore medication by February will always baffle me. Last year I got stuck inside for such a long stretch I lost it around mid February and ran outside in my underwear and made snow angels. Whilst crying.

At least in the UK I’ll be stuck inside due to rain and we’ll have proper chocolate and tv for Christmas. Downton Abbey, The Queen’s Speech (it’s a speech made by our actual, REAL Queen not some crap film and while I’m at it- it irks me that people in the US think Maggie Twating Thatcher is some kind of saint based on nothing but that awful Meryl Streep film rather than see the long lasting damage she inflicted on Britian.)

And Christmas pudding, mince pies and crackers. Which I’m yet to have had in the States. Although when it comes to decoration the Yanks win hands down. And it’s done with so much more taste dare I say it. Nice little twinkly lights in handmade wreaths and arty decorations. The layer of snow helps the feel no end obviously.

So I’ve made and sent my Christmas cards (the smugness I gained from being such a domestic goddess as to make my own cards WITH A BABY) has unfortunately been overshadowed by the embarrassment of spelling the other half’s name wrong on a fair few and mixing up some of the cards and envelopes. At least this year it’ll get blamed on only getting 2-4 hours sleep a night rather than being a bit drunk. And at least people are spared the long ‘what a great friend you are’ drivel inside.

I’d better wrap this up, I can hear screaming downstairs and I can hear shouting such as “mouse”, “sick”, “GET THE BABY” and, best of all, “oh god I’ve stepped in it’s fucking gall bladder!”IMG_8112.JPG

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Happy First birthday, Gregorian calendar lies and defrosting umbilical cords.

The big event this week was my little sunbeam turning one. It’s been very hard to write a blog entry that wasn’t purely over sentimental boasting of how my wonderful little lad has turned out to be the most perfect, funny, sweet being in the universe so I’ve confined myself to keeping it in the first paragraph.

I actually had a very misguided conversation (argument) with the other half when we were at Three Tides (a wicked cool pub in Belfast, Maine attached to a brewery) about how the whole concept of birthdays was bullshit anyway and we are all blindly conforming to some guy’s idea of time. Why should I be a slave to the Gregorian calendar just because some scholars decided there should be roughly 30 days in a month and there should be twelve of them?

After letting me have a loud rant about being sick of listening to ‘the man’ and not being an autonomous drone anymore the other half amusedly pointed out the whole thing about the sun going round the earth determined the modern day calendar and that it’s based on irrefutable science.

In my defence I think the Maine free living, anarchic attitude is getting to me. And the chocolate martinis there are very strong.

Anyway, the past week we’ve again been half boat, half island which is still proving to involve lots of frantic packing and rushing for ferries. It’s only a matter of time before I forget the dog (please, please NOT the baby).

We spent one incredibly cold night on the boat which saw the other half being forcibly ejected from the freezing, floating palace to go find heated blankets and fan heaters with the threat of immediate divorce if the temperature didn’t rise above not-being-able-to-sit-on-the-toilet-seat-without-having-a-small-heart-attack by bedtime.

There definitely needs to be some kind of winterisation and extra heat source. The large gaps of fresh air and single pane windows are not going to cut it with a -15 gale screaming up the Passagassawakeag river (yes that’s actually it’s name and one of the reasons I love Maine as they have lots of the original names for places).

I want to shrink wrap, he wants a wood stove. Apparently we can’t do both as there could be some suffocation issue. We’ll see.

Another amusing little happening this week which I debated whether or not to include in this post (for the sake of both good taste and people thinking I’d lost the few marbles I once had) was taking re-possession of my umbilical cord.

Well, obviously not mine. A 37 year old umbilical cord would definitely be weird and even more definitely unpleasant.

After having an unmedicated home birth (the first on the island we live on in 30 years as I proudly tell anyone that will listen long enough), I had been ferreting around in the murky waters of natural parenting and heard lots of great things about placental encapsulation and it’s many alleged health benefits. Getting right in to the swing of living in Midcoast Maine and channeling my inner hippy (I was named after an Afro-American slave despite being very white so my parents can pipe down with any ‘oh God why is she eating her own afterbirth?’ comments as it’s clearly their fault), I had a local lass carry out the process of drying and grinding thus making it more palatable than whacking off chunks and eating in its raw state. This I was not prepared to do.

After reading more about ‘things hippies do with by-products of childbirth’ I saw a sweet suggestion for burying the umbilical cord under a tree. Being December in Maine you aren’t getting anything into the ground for love nor money so I asked aforementioned lass to ‘hang on’ to the cord until we could meet up and I could take it off her hands. As I was busy, new, deer-in-the-headlights Mum and her having her own baby shortly after, we never met and I sort of forgot about it.

Until I actually met her a month ago at a local baby group and this week she casually handed me a ziplock with a ‘glad to get this out of my freezer at last’. Not wanting to terrify any of the present Mummies I hurriedly stuffed it in to my nappy (diaper) bag and promptly forgot about it until that evening. I realise that not all of the people reading this will be as strong stomached as the company I keep so all I’ll say was on discovering it my husband was a little traumatised as it had defrosted, the ziplock had leaked and it was, to say the least, messy. Daddy Pig’s expression (scream) was “JesusFuckingChrist it’s like something from one of those really nasty Japanese horror films you like.” So it’s sitting in the freezer on the boat awaiting planting. Or maybe some kind of sea ritual.

So this week is Thanksgiving. I’m still not really used to it but am getting in to the swing of the nice message of being thankful for your blessings and the year’s harvest rather than the more controversial aspects or thinking as most Brits do that it’s just Americans eating the turkey on the wrong day.

I’m not sure yet if we’ll be spending it on the boat on or on the island but do know that after the last week of party/moving stress if the cooking is left to me we’ll be eating toast. Just as long as it not some miscellaneous meat product from the freezer…..

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Snot, scary tug boats and dodgy Pad Thai.

Most of the last week has been very dull. We’ve been pretty much shut in on the island with productive colds. Productive in the ‘loads of snot’ sense rather than the ‘getting lots of things done’ sense.

In fact I think the only thing I managed to get done was get little man addicted to Peppa Pig (amazing British children’s tv show about a family of pigs who are friends with other families of different animal species. Daddy Pig the blithering idiot being my favourite.) And only 5-10 minutes a day while I was distracting him from his snot sucking before anyone starts quoting horrific AAP, ‘your child will become an insular, troubled nincompoop if you subject them to any screen time ever before the age of two’ statistics at me.

Well that and giving wee man his first haircut which unfortunately made him look like either Adolph Hitler or Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber.

So the dullness ended on Sunday when we did the big move. The big move consisted of having half an hour to throw as much crap as we could into the back of the other half’s pick up truck and my car to make the last ferry of the morning. And remember important things such as the dog and baby. Which we did. Just.

I’d like to say we did it in style but we probably looked pretty pikey. (American word equivalent being something like ‘trashy gypsies’.) Definitely compounded by the huge, cheap, leopard print suitcases I bought to emigrate with. Purely for the amusement factor of the other half having to fly back and forth with them.

In retrospect it wasn’t the best laid plan. The boat hadn’t been cleaned yet, it was frigging freezing (actually, 6 below freezing) and we were meant to be at a party by 2pm. Just to add a little more stress to the affair.

After lugging our copious amounts of stuff on to the boat I’ve since decided a large amount isn’t needed and now needs to be taken back to the island. Oops. I say we, obviously I did nothing bar bitch and moan about how it was all being lugged on and how I’d be doing it much better.

After a few hours the smell of diesel had cleared and it had warmed to a balmy freezing so we settled down for a night in.

Being able to walk out and get a take-away is something I have missed so so much from London. Not all the time, just knowing that you can. The island we live on has two stores, the nearest being 20 minutes drive away and shuts at 5.30. Oh and it’s shut Sundays. Then that’s it. You need anything and you’re looking at a four hour long round trip to the mainland. And the last ferry off is 4.30 so that’s not even possible.

This is especially hard when you’re pregnant and decide you have a craving for something. Tough shit love, crave away.

Although the other half did do an incredibly sweet thing when I was pregnant and craving McDonalds. (I know, I know.) He called in some favours, got a taxi to pick some up on the mainland and got it flown in. I’d like to point out before he starts looking like superman, that I was in a huge rage with him at the time. He’d probably done something horrific like not use a plate to eat toast or look at me funny (I had wicked bad pregnancy rages I’m ashamed to say). Anyway, it’s safe to say it’s the first warm Maccy D’s that’s been eaten on Islesboro. And hopefully the last.

So after a joyous Pad Thai which only bore a passing resemblance to a Pad Thai (Maine’s ethnic cuisines sometimes lacking a tad on the authenticity front), we bedded down for the night.

All was going as swimmingly as it ever does these days having a co-sleeping baby- nurse, slap, snore, nurse, slap, snore, when we got catapulted out of our cosy little aft cabin nest due to the fact that some twat (guess who that could have been, Daddy Pig) had docked us right next to two honking great working tug boats who had to warm up their 500 million horsepower engines for an hour before roaring off to see some ship up the bay. At 1am.

This apparently was exciting and cool. It wasn’t. We shall be moving the boat this evening…….

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I’m going to live on a boat. In Maine. In the Winter. With a baby and 70 pound dog.

Well not full time. On the weekends we’ll be returning the equally cold island we live on.

I’m a fairly recent (2.5 years) transplant from London, UK to Midcoast Maine. They sucked me in with the Summers for a few years. Then after making the big move to be with my now husband I noticed people shaking their heads and snickering when they’d find out I was about to endure my first Winter here. I notice him desperately making the “stop, she’ll leave if she finds out before the snow actually physically traps her” face at them and wondered what the hell I was in for.

Given that I’ve found the four-odd months of below zero temperatures (proper temperatures in Celsius although, I shit you not, it goes below zero in Fahrenheit too), I’m still in shock as to how the other half has convinced me to spend part of my life on a boat. A boat that floats on cold water in the cold wind in cold Belfast, Maine.

Add to this the increasingly mobile and quick-to-bore 1 year old and horrifically energetic, stubborn and ignorant 70 pound Pyrenees mix we have and I wouldn’t be insulted if people were to question whether or not I’m just plain batshit crazy.

And just for shits and giggles, incredible at some things that he is – house building, anything creative, cooking, buying things- my husband likes to break stuff (including himself) on a regular basis, digging big holes, chainsaw anything that looks vaguely tree-like and sometimes has the common sense of a dead flea. Think of him as a highly domesticated and cultured Fred Flintstone.

I’m thinking it will be nice to pop out for a coffee, supermarket or to meet friends without an hour of frigging about catching ferries. I’m thinking it will be nice for my baby to see his Dad more than an hour a day. I’m thinking it will be nice to have time for a shower more than once a week. Most of all I’m thinking, I hope this won’t result in hypothermia, divorce or be one woman’s story of the rapid loss of her mental health and marbles.

So. The boat (it’s a 58ft, wooden, Matthews motor yacht for anyone that has a clue) is now docked in her final resting place in Belfast having brought her up from Boston and after a few minor details like steps so I can get on the damn thing and heat, is awaiting our arrival…….

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