Friday, April 30, 2010

THROUGH THE CROWD: Heading South Day Two

Annapolis 38°58.630N | 76°29.168W

We're not fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants, devil-may-care, insert-trite-phrase, sailors. In fact, we work hard at being good Boy Scouts, making sound decisions, weighing the facts, consuming all the data, planning our route, waiting for weather windows.

For this trip south, we've made an effort to employ all the navigation devices onboard, we mapped out our route on paper charts, found the waypoint coordinates on the laptop and then punched them in on the GPS.

Last night when Chip entered today's waypoints, he named each one with a letter of the alphabet, in order, so I could easily work through them by following the alphabet. However, he started with Z and went backwards. Since I'm the one who runs below to check our heading and set waypoints, I expressed, shall we say, surprise at his choice of letters. He claims he couldn't find A, but I'm pretty sure he was testing my sobriety.

Right about at waypoint Y, we stumbled smack damn into a J boat regatta. Dozens of racing boats clustered together, headed in no particular direction (apparently the regatta had not started), and no two in the same direction, spinnakers flying.

Since we were heading straight into the wind, they were all tacking back and forth across our path. Add to that the fact that we were under power, and they were under sail, which meant we had zero right-of-way. We sped up, slowed down, idled, did a 360. It was just plain comical. 

By midday, the regatta a pleasant memory, we were kicked back in the cockpit, feeling confident in ourselves and our vessel. Using dead reckoning, we verified that our GPS waypoints and autopilot headings were correct. With each hour, we gained a little more trust in the purring engine. We even felt wise and seasoned when we raised the staysail to smooth out the ride -- and were delighted to see that we had installed it on the furler correctly. Ah, yes, we were awesome.

That's when we got the radio call, "Sailing vessel headed south, this is the northbound sailing vessel passing you to starboard. There's a partially submerged barrel in your path about one quarter of a mile ahead."

No words passed between us, no eye contact. At the helm, Chip threw back the throttle. I leaped out of the cockpit and hit the side deck in a full-speed, Fred-Flintstone-midair pedaling, running crouch.

For the next 20 minutes, I stood on the bow scanning the water, scanning, scanning, scanning, fearing the deadly barrel was right in our path, and I might not spot it.

'Nothing,' I shouted back to Chip, "I wish we'd see the #&$ thing, so we'd know we passed it!"

But, there was to be no such reassurance. We bobbed along 45 minutes before powering up, our confidence at a very low ebb. We expend so much energy conquering the things we can control, and now here was something new we hadn't even thought to worry about. At least the Titanic knew to watch for icebergs. And how do we give right of way to an object we can't even see??? If there was one barrel out there, did that mean there were more? What else was lurking out there just beneath the surface?

We did not know the answers, and so we motored on.

In the early evening, we approached our last waypoint and a perfect parenthetical closure to our day, ending up in the midst of fishing tournament boats coming in for the night. Dozens of them. Zipping all around us. At one point, two sped by, one on each side of us, at full speed, careening us into an impressive 30-degree heel -- one way and then the other.

We tied up side-to at a quiet dock in Solomons, the end of a long, carefully planned day spent dealing with things for which there is no plan.

Solomons  38°19.680N | 76°27.477W

Thursday, April 29, 2010

FLYING THE COOP: Heading South Day One

Rock Hall 39°08.481N | 76°15.710W

We did it! We broke the bonds of Rock Hall.

The conditions weren't ideal, but boy, were we ready to go, all three of us. When we took the port breastline off, it was almost completely chafed through.

On our way out, Rock Hall had one last gambit for us. The marina is in an L shape that is tighter than Beyonce's jeans. To get out, we had to back out into an area just longer than the boat, turn to port and make an immediate 90-degree right turn -- in gusting wind. We started by having a minor squabble about how to untie and shove off, surely brought on by fatigue, stress and nervousness, but once we threw the lines, Chip did an admirable job. We didn't hit anything, always goal number one.

After we cleared the marina, and headed toward that bridge I'd been watching longingly for TWO WEEKS, Good Company performed flawlessly, clearly showing off for us.

We left Rock Hall under a gray, hazy sky, blowing and cold. We had taken to calling it Alcatraz after another "rock" that's notoriously hard to escape.

And four hours later? We pulled into Club Med. We slid into downtown Annapolis under bright clear skies, temperature in the low 70s, the water still as a sleeping baby. We tied up to the bulkhead in front of Starbucks, walked to Pusser's for lunch and two extra large Painkillers.

Heaven, if not a little disorienting.

That evening as we were lolling in the cockpit pinching ourselves:

thinking all first-day-of-the-rest-of-our-lives, I looked over and saw a young couple posing for photos. They were angling to look like they were onboard our boat, so I offered to let them come aboard.

As it turns out, they were taking their engagement photo. A sweet and perfect ending to our first day cruising. New beginnings for everyone, brought to you by Good Company.

(The photographer Gil Seo, has an exhibition in New York at SBD Gallery starting May 29.)

Annapolis 38°58.630N | 76°29.168W


So many years we have made the pilgrimage to Annapolis for the sailboat show, daring to dream of a cruising life, hoping to be more than magazine sailors, to stop posing and start sailing. Year after year we were would-be cruisers buying books and charts, dreamers picking out folding bikes and bed springs, attending seminars about navigating Caribbean waters.

For many years in a row, we stood not three feet from where Good Company is tied up, watching the same demonstration of a tiny sail going up and down on nylon lines, the very system that we now use to effortlessly drop our main.

Just last fall we stood outside the sailboat show staring at an Island Packet bobbing at a mooring, silently chanting, maybe next year. Maybe next year.

It is not planning that brought us to Annapolis, the first destination at the beginning of our cruising life, because that would be contrived and even maudlin. Instead it is that uncanny circle of our lives that turns oh-so slowly but unfailingly comes back around in a perfect loop, tying up our hard-earned efforts in a big, red karmic bow.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


We're still in the grips of Rock Hall. It's blowing all right. Straight across our beam accompanied by two foot swells. The motion of the boat makes me wonder how loud music purloined the term "rock and roll."

AND it's cold. The wind chill drops down in the 30s at night.

"We gotta get outta here," we keep repeating. Today it seemed even more urgent as the wear and tear on both us and the boat began to show.

I want to leave so badly, I peeled the tape off the starboard rail in a 30-knot blow, freezing. Chip offered to help, but I excused him from the nasty task and crawled on alone. There's never pictures of the good stuff.

When the boatyard closed we took their truck and puttered around town like two bored teenagers, looking for anything to keep us from our rocky, rolly, noisy home out there.

For a while we huddled in the hospitality room, me sleeping on the couch, Chip watching American Idol. Pitiful.

Good Company is begging us, "Get me outta here!"

National Highs/Lows
7 day Rock Hall | Rock Hall
Chesapeake Wind Forecast
Maryland Tides
Virginia Tides
NOAA Coastal Waters Forecast

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Does it seem like we do a lot of waiting?

That's where we are again. Waiting. Chip's back. We're ready to go (sort of), but the weather calls for high winds the next few days, so we'll lay up in Rock Hall until it passes.

We could have made it across to Annapolis today, but the boatyard had to make a final trip up our mast to fix the light they forgot to fix last time. By the time they came back down, it was too late to start.

In the meantime, we've put ourselves on a system-a-day plan until we get it figured out.

While Chip was gone, I tackled the water heater and AC/heat unit.

Today is the navigation system. Chip brought an adapter to make the GPS talk to the laptop, so we're poring over Nobeltec software and the Garmin GPS -- and their manuals -- attempting to find ourselves and our route easier on the way south.

Our days are filled with packing glands and Y valves, bilge pumps and water filters. One at a time.

I only got through half the toe rails before the weather moved in. I've left the starboard side taped in hopes of getting another coat on before we untie.

The wind blows. And so we look longingly out across the water. And we wait.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


About 11:30 last night, I thought, "Well, Mr. Automaton, where's your big-time storm?"

A few minutes later, as I was brushing my teeth I heard something that sounded like a tractor rumbling down the dock. I turned off the water and cocked my head sideways, like a beagle, listening. 

At the same moment I identified the roar as wind, the boat made a sharp heel to starboard, the lines groaning at the shift.

"Really? Zero to 30 in the time it takes to brush my teeth?" I asked.

In answer the starboard rail squished the bumper into a piling with a loud SCREEEEK.

I realized in that moment, that most of my attention had gone toward keeping the boat away from the dock on the port side, to the complete neglect of anything that might push us to starboard, like a 30-knot wind at midnight.

That's when the gusts turned into a steady blow, and my guts turned to jelly.

The rain started pelting on the fiberglass roof. Lightning flashed. The boat started rocking in earnest, bang, bang, banging against the dock lines and screeching on the bumper. It sounded like I was lying beneath the tracks in a busy subway station.

This boat weighs more than 10 tons, and in that moment the whole of it was resting on my shoulders.

It was not the storm that scared me. No, this was much bigger.

This boat has been on the water -- and around the world -- for 10 years. Now in my first week as caretaker, is it doomed to break apart on my watch? Am I actually capable of taking care of a 40-foot boat -- by myself??? Have I finally taken on more than I can manage?

And worse, if I can't manage tied up to a dock, how will I react in the big, wide ocean? Will I even survive? 

I was having an existential crisis with a thunderstorm as the soundtrack.

I called Chip. 

"It's blowing. I don't want to go out there. What if a line breaks? What if I loosen the line and the wind gusts and the boat gets away from me?" I babbled.

He calmly talked me down, or in this case, up.

"It always sounds worse than it is. Just put in some more bumpers if you can't pull it off the piling."

So, I took a deep breath, put on my big girl foulies and went up there. As advertised, it wasn't all THAT bad. It was cold and raining, but it was the foulies that got wet, not me. During the previous week, I had learned how to unwrap the dock line from the cleat part of the way, wait for a little break in the wind, then haul it in before the next gust. And that's what I did, hauling in the port breastline, between gusts inching by little bits away from that starboard piling.

But, just in case, I jammed in one more bumper before going below.

And by morning, I had conquered a few more items on the checklist:

30-knot squall at the dock: CHECK
Existential overreaction at midnight: CHECK

There are never photos of the good stuff.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


If you made a quick scan of this blog, you'd think boat life consists mostly of sanding and varnishing toe rails. Sometimes it feels like that too.

Today, I was back at it yet again.

Last week we flew through the sanding and got two coats of protectant on before we had to return to the Outer Banks. After it rained yesterday, I could see water seeping into the cracks, a sure sign of needing more coats.

Tape, wipe, coat, and look at that beading! I got two additional coats on the port side and one on the starboard side before the temp started dropping.

My friend, the automaton on the weather radio, is droning on about a big storm headed this way. Rain, wind, thunder, lightning. Sometimes I wish he'd get jazzed up a bit when the forecast calls for it. He announces "winds 5 to 10 knots, waves 1 foot" with the same monotone as "Category 5 hurricane, wind 125 knots, waves 80 feet." Come on, man, emote!

I added a stern line, restrung the spring line for easier access and added another breastline -- just in case. It's just me and Good Company, ready to rumble.

Friday, April 23, 2010


After my first night alone onboard, I was chatting with a local and mentioned "that storm last night."

"Huh, I didn't even notice," he said.

And that's the kind of storm it was, the kind that passes without notice on land. In a house, with the doors and windows closed, with the heat on, it's easy to sleep in total ignorance of what transpires just beyond the walls. But on the water, a thin piece of floating fiberglass separating me from the wind and water, I live at the whim of nature, unable to shut it out.

I watch the barometer for changes. I check the tides, the wind prediction, the radar. Three times a day, while preparing meals, I turn on my new talk radio: marine radio channel 1, DJed by a cold automaton droning about wind direction and wave height and small craft advisories.

I've settled into the sounds of my boat and the water on her hull. My ears have tuned to the new normal and prick instantly at change, an unexpected bump or a wind shift.

My sleep is at the same time soothed by the roll of water passing by and peppered with alert for the midnight call of my boat needing assistance.

My muscles are sore from constant motion, subtle as it is in this quiet marina.

All my senses are adjusting to a totally unfamiliar world.

Sometimes I peer out the port, 30 yards down the dock, at that other world and ponder lines and crossing them, waves and wind, and what a difference a few yards can make.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Boats are a noisy business. The wind plays a soulful, murmur overhead answered below by the random clanging of water, a constant reminder that I'm sitting in a floating fiberglass tub. The lines groan in the cleats, and the occasional halyard raps a metallic drumbeat, the boom squeaks on its hinge. Throw in rain clacking onto the fiberglass deck, and it raises quite a racket -- especially on your first night alone at the end of a long dock.

Chip returned to the Outer Banks yesterday to take care of the wine shop for a few days, leaving me and Good Company to take care of each other.

Once the darkness settled over us, and the storm moved in, the volume went up.

CREEAKK. "Oh no, what's that?"

SPLASH. "Oh no, is that a leak?"

POP. "Oh no, are we hitting a piling?"

That was how my night was going.

Along about midnight, I was lying in bed when a sharp KNOCK, KNOCK brought me straight up, hair standing on end. For all the world, I could swear someone had just reached up out of the water and knocked on the hull -- right by my head. BWAAAAAHHHHHH.

Forcing myself to think through what just happened, I realized it was the spring line rubbing against a stanchion, something that happened several more times in the night. Each time it knocked, it was a little less frightening.

The noise is part of this very big learning curve I'm climbing. I don't know yet how to filter the sounds, which ones are just your run-of-the-mill, regulation boat noises, and which require my immediate attention. So, for now, they all do.

That's me. Relaxing in the din.


Chip and I both have tree hugger tendencies, not in a tree hugging way but more in a reduce, reuse, recycle way -- except for hating that song. (THAT sentence could use some editing.) One of the things that attracted us to sailing was the potential to go mostly off the grid. 

We'll use some diesel fuel when we can't sail. We'll fill up our water tank until we install a watermaker that converts salt water to fresh. We'll use propane to cook. After that, we're on our own.

Reduce is not so much a concept as a constant awareness. The second I started filling the water tanks myself -- with a hose -- and monitoring usage on a gauge, I became much more aware of my slovenly water habits. I no longer let the water run like a Bernini fountain. I wet my hands, turn it off, lather and turn it on for a quick rinse.

When we're not plugged in at a dock (which we won't be when we're cruising full time) we rely on batteries that have to be recharged from either running the engine or using solar panels. That too can be monitored, including our current amp usage. No more blow dryers, no more leaving lights on when not absolutely necessary. No more microwave, TV or toaster. We now have a hand-crank coffee grinder and  a hand-crank blender. All other kitchen gadgetry is gone. And, you know what? I don't miss it at all.

We now have to search out places to dispose of trash, which makes me more careful about producing it. No more paper napkins. The same fate awaits the paper towels when we leave land.

Soon we'll even abandon those carbon-emitting cars and fly on the wind.

Happy Earth Day, Earth!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Moving onto a boat is messy.

Good Company has tons, really tons of storage, and it's all hidden, which in the awesome category means all your crap is hidden from view. In the not-so-awesome category, it means all your crap is hidden from view. It takes some real organizational skill to find a logical place for everything and then, just as importantly, remember where that logical place is. We have to either work together, keep a list or give each other tours of our stowing. Otherwise it's a big, not fun game of I Don't Spy.

This week has an extra large learning curve. Fortunately neither of us knows much about the systems on this boat. Fortunately? Yes, we're on equal footing here. We learn it together and then we both know how to use it, start it, stop it, furl it, fix it, raise it, lower it, dewinterize it, everything. There are no reluctant, "dragged aboard" members here. (And since you brought it up, can we stop with the sailing mag articles about reluctant female sailors?!?!)

So far:
--Dewinterized, cleaned and filled the water tank. Great water pressure!
--Turned on the refrigerator/freezer.
--Puzzled over the bilge pump until we realized, it doesn't work. Got it fixed.
--Got a quick lesson in our packing gland from the helpful guy who repacked it.
--Learned how to furl sails on Harken furlers. Only had to redo one of them.
--Rerigged some of the furling and jib lines. We'll see how that works out.
--Put on the dodger and bimini. For a while we were wearing a big Sunsail shroud, but we got it eventually. I do hope someone was watching.
--Learned how to use the dinghy davits and hoisted the dinghy -- after pushing it across the street on a dock cart, pulling it through the water and over a floating dock.
--Played with the GPS enough to navigate around the GPS. Now on to the bigger picture.

Our original hope was to cross the Chesapeake to Annapolis today as a shakedown, but the boatyard forgot to fix the masthead light when they went up this morning. IF they get to it later today or first thing in the morning, we might be able to cross.

Monday, April 19, 2010


We arrived in Rock Hall at Good Company today hoping to find her ready to go in the water -- or perhaps already there.

A big NO on that. The boatyard had not yet replaced the strike plate on our newly finished toe rails. The packing gland had not been repacked. Never underestimate the value of being there, face-to-face, OR bringing along a free Chip's t-shirt to the yard manager.

We left to eat lunch and run through our shopping list at West Marine. That run-through cost a whopping $735, but if you're ever planning on visiting us onboard, we bought you two really nice life jackets on sale @ $119. Cheap for saving our lives this month and your life on down the water. (Instead of spending the $250 times two on offshore life jackets with harnesses, we decided to buy the less expensive in-shore versions. We'll drop the $$$ on the other ones once we're close to going "offshore.")

Back at the boatyard, we found this:

We're in the water -- and without me fretting and freaking as the put her in the travelift, drove her a block and dumped her in. Just as well.

It'll be this spot overnight, and a run up the mast by the boatyard to fix some lights in the morning.

We're in the water! It's official.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Last Sunday when we arrived in Rock Hall, we carried the Froli bed springs from the car, up the ladder, over the transom and into Good Company. Frolis are plastic springs made to go under the cushions on a boat to take the place of box springs. You assemble a base that adjusts to the odd shape of your bed, and then attach the springs, different colors represent differing firmness, so you make it soft under your shoulders (me) or firm under your hips (Chip). It's sort of the cheap, marine version of the Dial-a-Bed.

Since we bought those springs -- at the Annapolis Boat Show in 2007 -- we moved them into Isabella, out of Isabella, to the beach apartment, to the rental house, and now, finally, into Good Company.

And Sunday, as I was hunkered down in the v-berth, hooking little plastic pieces together, I asked myself, "Why am I so friggin' happy?"

My self snapped back, "Well, duh! You've been totally disassembling your life for the last three years. Now you have finally started rebuilding."

And, damn, if my self wasn't right. I was experiencing utter joy at having turned the corner and plopped right down in my new life. My days of tearing apart and breaking down are behind me.

Now, I am home. Cleaning, building, nesting. Finally.

And when I finished assembling little plastic wheels and springs, I had exactly one left over. A perfect fit.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Monday -- We cleaned, cleaned, cleaned and rinsed the rails. Then hit it with teak brightener and rinsed some more.

Tuesday -- The weather forecast was rain, rain, rain. We discussed the impending rain over the sound of palm sanders at the boat next to us. Duh. We hopped up and got in a good hour and a half of work before it started pouring. Might as well get used to the weather controlling our lives.

We used the rain as an excuse to hose down the boat one more time, just before welcoming our friend, John, who came for a sleepover: our first overnight guest!

Wednesday -- We topped off all the rinsing with a round of hand sanding with either 150- or 120-grit, depending on how bad the particular spot was -- all with the help of John -- future guests, take note.

Then we taped and started coating with the magical Flood. One coat (above), then two coats (below) then a third coat on the outside, vertical piece.

See in the photos, the red, red board on the left? That's teak treated with the dreaded Cetol. I can't wait to strip and refinish those cockpit combings.

So how do you top off eight straight hours of sanding and painting? How about a six-hour drive home? Whew.

Monday, April 12, 2010


Remember when I said I would count the teak plugs in the toe rail? Remember when you smirked and thought I was being overdramatic? You make the call: 260 plugs.

Okay, that's just on ONE SIDE, not counting the transom OR the bowsprit platform. No wonder Island Packet sells plugs by the bag full. Seriously, Mr. Johnson?

So the guy who sanded our toe rails did a decent job. He stopped short of sanding us down to the heads of the screws. There were a few gray streaks (see photo), so we pulled out our secret formula (so secret, we had to look it up on this blog dated August 21, 2008). We scrubbed the rails with a mixture of Wisk and bleach, let it sit, rinsed. Then scrubbed with teak brightener, let it sit, rinsed. They aren't perfect, but I've sworn to leave my perfectionist ways behind.

Tomorrow, we'll start early with a quick 200-grit sanding to knock off the grains that were lifted by all the scrubbing. Then we'll wipe, tape and float on the magical Flood -- as many coats as we can get on in a day. More photos to come.

Does this day seem remarkably free of drama? Well, we had a big fight in the grocery store buying Wisk.  It was the culmination of the fight that started at the boatyard, continued on the drive to the store and finally dissipated at West Marine.

I have to admit stomping out of the grocery store and fuming in the car for a bit. At least there was no varnish involved.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


I don't know what I've done to piss off the teak gods, but have a look at that unfinished toe rails on Good Company (top). Sigh. So much for all that fabulous boat karma I was banking on Isabella (bottom). At least there's no varnish to strip.

There's a very long list of things I love about the Island Packet 380. The toe rails are not on it. To begin with, they are a good 6" wide (at least) and made, not from one plank of wood, but four. Yes, four narrow planks of teak. So every 12-18" there are four screw holes and bungs. When I get up to Rock Hall, I'll count them for the record. AAAAHHHHH.

Then, every 12" inches or so, sometimes less, there's some kind of hardware that you have to work around and/or tape off. Add to that a stainless steel strike plate that runs around the entire exterior edge, and you've got a 6-inch by 91-foot torture chamber.

There are two bits of good news. One: we hired someone to sand them. Some poor soul removed the strike plate, cleaned the wood and sanded it. I'll have my first look at their work tomorrow. Keep your fingers crossed.

Two: Chip may have discovered the antidote to varnish. It's called Flood, made to protect exterior wood from the elements. As far as I can tell, it wasn't intended for the marine environment, but Chip experimented with it on Isabella to great results. He put it on the boom gallows, the bowsprit and the dorade boxes, and they held up great for several years with very little upkeep -- all during not one, but two complete refinishes on the toe rails. I frequently glared at those dorade boxes as I crawled past on my knees, covered head to toe in teak dust.

The heavenly Flood is water based, so prep and cleanup is a breeze. You clean the wood, paint on the Flood, let it dry, paint more coats until water beads up. A few months later, need some more? Just clean the surface and paint it right on. No stripping, no sanding. Can you hear the angels sing?

Flood permeates the wood, so no worries about chips, dings, peeling, patching, seams, lifting. It's everything Cetol got us so excited about -- and then failed to deliver -- and without the muddy finish.

Many before and after photos to come, and probably a few entertaining DIY disasters along the way. The fun begins tomorrow.

p.s. -- Have I mentioned that the 380 has a teak eyebrow?

Friday, April 2, 2010


Boats are a mystery to me. Just as surely as they are made of wood and fiberglass and metal, inanimate parts held together with nails, epoxy and screws, so also they are inexplicably alive, coursing with their own spirit, an undeniable presence. They can be on the one hand exuberant, compliant, gentle, or on the other cranky and obstinate.

It is left to us to adapt to their personality, to accommodate their foibles and idiosyncrasies. Eventually, the adaptation complete, we have a new "normal."

"Oh, you don't have to hold your mouth this way and wave your left hand when you start your engine? Strange."

"You don't have a plastic washer on the forestay to keep the staysail from jamming? Weird."

But just as we conform to the ways of our boat, she gives back in equal measure. On the water, we are utterly dependent on her for survival. She in turn takes care of us, our sole protection against the elements.

It should come as no surprise that over the months and years, affection for our boat turns into something akin to, dare I say it? Love. Even the saltiest old crabs among us can go soft and weepy about our boats.

I have a sentimental streak that sometimes grows wide enough to lose the title 'streak,' especially when it comes to boats.

This morning Isabella's new owners came to get her. I wanted to be there to wave goodbye when she left, not 1800 miles away. I wanted to salute her, to raise a glass, to delight in her beauty, to sit one last time in that bowsprit seat, to run along the dock with balloons, something, anything.

What kind of person feels guilty for not being there to say goodbye to a boat? The answer is blowing in the New Mexico wind.

I only miss you every now and then
Like the soft breeze blowin' up from the Caribbean
Most Novembers I break down and cry
'Cause I can't remember if we said goodbye   --Steve Earle

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Symptoms: confusion, delirium, nightmares, memory loss, agitation.

Diagnosis: urinary tract infection.

Really? This sounds like an April Fool's joke.

The doctors and nurses acted nonchalant about mom's symptoms, "We see this response to urinary tract infections all the time in the elderly."

"The link between dementia and urinary tract infections was made nearly 20 years ago, while general awareness is improving, it should be better."
Actually, the correct term is 'delirium,' which arises quickly and is temporary, as opposed to 'dementia,' which has a slow onset and is permanent.

Any sudden change in elderly behavior -- agitation, memory loss, inability to perform usual tasks -- should be a red flag that an infection can exist. The good news is that once the infection clears up, so do the symptoms.

Mom has been on antibiotics now for a week and is making a great comeback.

If this problem is so prevalent, why had none of us heard of it? Consider this the beginning of an awareness campaign. Spread the word.


My week has been something like this:
Palm Beach --> Baltimore --> Norfolk --> Outer Banks --> Norfolk -->Dallas/Fort Worth --> Roswell

My mom took ill over the weekend of the boat show, so I've come home to Roswell for a week to help take care of her. (Maybe I'll rest in May.)

That's not really mom in the photo. Sorry. As tiring as "that alien" thing is for us Roswellites, it is just flat irresistible. I wrote about it many years ago at (None of the links work any more, so don't bother clicking.)

We're still trying to figure out what's wrong with mom. Maybe she swallowed a weather balloon.