Friday, December 2, 2005

Don't Fence Me In

Okay, DO fence in my back yard.  Please.  The fence guys are here right now, getting some post holes dug.  Boudreaux is going to be one happy dog; and his parents are going to be happy people.  Every night we get ready for bed, and one of us slaps our foreheads and remembers that we have to take the dog for a walk.  These frosty evenings have made the chore even more of a pain.  Of course, the exercise isn't hurting us any.  Usually I walk the kids to the bus stop in the mornings and then take off with Boudreaux for a nice brisk walk.  I know I'll get lazy and throw him out in the yard once the fence is built.  And seeing as my cholesterol report just came in yesterday I really need to keep up the exercising.

I just found Melanie with a box of fudge-covered Oreos that she had snuck upstairs and had for breakfast.  Well there were 5 left.  Sneaky little thing.

When I was five years old my dad was transferred to Tokyo, Japan (is there another Tokyo somewhere?  That's like saying "Milwaukee Wisconsin") to open an office there.  My mom has always had a fear of flying; she usually started out flights with a glass of Scotch and two Valiums.  On our first trip to Japan, my dad noticed that the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese in Louisiana (where we had lived) was on the plane!  Mom was relieved somewhat, (thinking maybe that the Bishop's presence would protect us?) but flying was still difficult for her.  (Ironically several years later, this same Bishop was killed in a plane crash in New York).  Mom took it on herself to try and find alternative ways of getting across the Pacific.  She found out that some cargo ships will take a few passengers.  After our first summer home leave in the States, we left from San Francisco on the MM Dant.  The crossing took about 8 days, and believe me it was no Carnival Cruise.  There were two families on the whole ship, and there was no floor show or cruise director.  It was booo-ring.  The other family had children, too, and so we kids would put on plays for the adults (Rumpelstiltskin was one, I remember coloring 1000 sheets of paper yellow for the "gold")   We would always eat dinner with the captain.  But the most frightening thing of all for me was the lifeboat drills.  There we were in the middle of the largest body of water on earth, which is the deepest, darkest color of blue you've ever seen.  The ship's horn would be blasting, and we would all have to put on our lifejackets and stand next to the railing, where they would let the lifeboats down almost to the water (all this while we're moving along at 10,000 knots per hour, or however you describe speed in ship lingo).  I was scared to death that we were actually sinking -- I missed the memo about it only being a drill.  Hey, I was only 6 years old!  All I could think of was how dark that water was, and that there wasn't a body of land within 1000 miles of us.  Talk about fear!

We made several crossings in the three years we lived in Japan, mostly on the Presidents Line, where each ship was named after a President (go figure).  One was the McKinley, but I can't remember the others.  Once mom and I did it alone, while my two sisters got to fly home alone - that was a big deal.  It was so boring that to this day, I know about 1000 ways to play solitaire, because that's about all there was to do.  On one ship there was a huge world map on the wall, and mom would send me off to find the capital of country after country (probably to keep me out of her hair).  This is why I always did pretty well in geography, I think.

But for some reason I have always been afraid of the ocean.  Probably because of those blasted lifeboat drills, and the day after interminable day of being on those ships.  It wasn't all bad, though, it was a unique experience, for sure ... I remember the humming of the ship's engine that would put me to sleep at night, and the excitement of going to bed at sea and waking up the next morning in port.  The way the steward went around banging on a little xylophone to announce that dinner was ready.  Learning about ships in general.  One interesting thing my dad told me about was that they put these round metal "discs" on the ropes that tie the ship to the pier.  That is to keep the rats off the ship that climb up the ropes onto the ships.  (I'm sure you could have gone another day without knowing that!)  The way the ship would rock from side to side in heavy weather and scare the dickens out of me.  One time Dad saw mom and me off at Yokohama, and we waved to him as the ship pulled away.  I remember throwing an apple over the railing to him, as he was hungry and had a long drive back home.  I saw flying fish around the prow of the boat, and porpoises would follow us, prancing and jumping around the boat. 

But to this day, I have never been comfortable at the beach or even at a lake.  I am a pretty good swimmer, but give me a nice swimming pool any day.  Poor David missed the memo and took me to Hawaii on our honeymoon.  I tried to put on a good face, and really did enjoy hiking through the mountains overlooking Hanalei Bay, but he didn't see me putting my toes in the ocean too much. 

I don't mind ships ... we went on a cruise several years ago with the kids and there was no fear ... but I get chills just thinking about being IN the water.

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