Monday, August 23, 2010


Manteo, NC -- Our long-awaited engine has arrived. You might recall, we took it in for repair, which took two weeks. They called to tell us it was ready as we were leaving town for two weeks. So, now, four weeks later, the engine has come home to roost.

Chip paired up the dinghy and the motor (with the help of a small crane we found onboard), and we're in business.

The dinghy will serve as our car, sort of. For the most part, we'll be anchoring out, because, well, anchoring is free. We'll lower the dinghy off its davits (brackets that hold it up on back of the boat), use the small crane to move the engine from the cockpit rail to the dinghy, and off we go. The dinghy will wait for us on shore while we're messing around on land.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Manteo, NC -- We're feeling a bit wistful on returning to an empty beach. Our kids, Casey and Dylan (and Brett!), left for college while we were in New Mexico. We had hoped to be here to send them off. Instead, once we get things situated here, we'll be heading west again, this time to Asheville and Boone.

In the meantime, we're hard at the last-minute preparations for our watery departure, the one that has now been delayed by at least three weeks.

The big items on our short TO DO list:

--Order the Tufted Topper for our bed
--Get solar panels and install them
--Buy and install electronic navigation equipment
--Fix the water filter
--Sort out my folding bike

For that first item, we had to cut a pattern in the shape of our mattress. That sounds easy, right? Few things associated with boats are easy. Since there's no space big enough to lay the mattress out on the boat, we had to get it off the boat and onto the dock. Fortunately we were able to manage this without dunking either the mattress or ourselves, although not without making ourselves look silly. The pattern is now wending its way to get us a poofy pad to soften our sleep. So long aching shoulder!

Our work was done in time to avoid this:

Friday, August 20, 2010


Asher, Sally, Ben and Zeke

Albuquerque, NM -- How do you know when it's time to leave? We didn't. I just made a plane reservation, and we're flying home tomorrow.

Mom is able to manage fairly well on her own now. She lives alone, so we made her act as if we weren't there the last few days. She has showered, dressed, made her own meals (mostly) and gone for short walks. Her strength is slowly returning just as we're leaving.

Flying out of Albuquerque used to be an annoyance until my nephew Asher moved there with his family, Sally and their 2-year-old twins Ben and Zeke. Now it's a blast!

The six of us hopped a train this evening and had dinner in Santa Fe. The 45-minute ride back turned into a 2 1/2-hour ordeal when our train hit a pedestrian. The pedestrian was barely injured, but the paperwork took hours.

Ben and Zeke kept us entertained -- in fact the whole car. Zeke came out of the bathroom and announced, "I pooped in the potty!!"

The train attendant put him on the intercom, "I pooped in the potty!"

Fun times.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Roswell, NM --

Chip: Our relationship needs a tuneup, some attention.

Me: Are you feeling tense?

Chip: Funny.

Me: Didn't you say there's too much tension?

Chip: No, "some attention."

Me: Oh. yeah, I have a hard time emotionally multitasking in this kind of situation. I suck sometimes.

Chip: Yes.

Me: You're not supposed to agree with that!

Chip: What? That "it sucks sometimes?"

Me: No, I said I suck sometimes.

Chip: Oh. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Roswell, NM -- ... to recovery, that is. Mom is making great strides now that she's home. She is still on oxygen but is getting up and dressed on her own.

We gave her a silly marine whistle that sounds like a goose to call us when she needs help in the night. She rarely needs it now and instead uses it to scare the bejeezus out of us when we least expect it. That's progress.
tamale |təˈmälē|
a Mexican dish of seasoned meat wrapped in cornmeal dough and steamed or baked in corn husks.
Chip has discovered the tamale. He now orders at least one everywhere we go.
sopaipilla |ˌsōpīˈpēyə| (also sopapilla |ˌsōpə-|)
(esp. in New Mexico) a deep-fried pastry, typically square, eaten with honey or sugar or as a bread.
I have rediscovered the sopaipilla. They are what makes New Mexico the Land of Enchantment.
enchilada |ˌen ch əˈlädə|
a rolled tortilla with a filling typically of meat and served with a chili sauce.
WRONG. In New Mexico we don't roll enchiladas. We make them flat and put a fried egg on top.

Chip and I are making the most of our time here, the most weight gain.

Long live the green chile.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Roswell, NM -- While living on a boat is fabulous, fun and fulfilling and sometimes other "f" words, I have found that "I live on a boat" is an endlessly handy excuse.

I'm not dressed appropriately? Sorry, I live on a boat.

My luggage doesn't match? (What luggage?) Oh, I live on a boat.

My clothes are wrinkled?
I'm taking too long in the shower?
My hair looks a mess?
I smell bad?
I don't understand your cultural references?

It's a bit of a reach but worth a try for others:
I was speeding officer?
I forgot your birthday?
I can't remember your name?
I caught your hair on fire? Sorry. I live on a boat.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Roswell, NM

When people ask me where I'm from, I change the subject.

If asked again, I give a vague regional reference, like, "I'm from the Southwest." Only under harsh interrogation and Klieg lights do I divulge the inconvenient truth: I'm from Roswell.

And I think my truth is much more inconvenient than Al Gore's, because I'm from the UFO Friggin' Capital of the World. And if you're me, that's really inconvenient.

What is my own alma mater, Roswell High, known for? Not academic excellence. No, it was the setting for a paranormal, science fiction TV series. I wonder if that renders my diploma invalid?

Although I have not embraced my UFO heritage, the town certainly has. Here is their logo:

My thoughts on UFOs? Here's a reprint of a column I wrote for in 1996.


My Paranormal Life in Roswell
by Tammy Kennon Hudson Production Manager
June 21, 1996

To some, my hometown, Roswell, may be just a sleepy little dot on the southeastern New Mexico plains, but for fans of the "X Files" and flying-disk buffs called "ufologists," it is the UFO capital of the world.

Yes, it's true. If you haven't heard of Roswell, you must not watch "Unsolved Mysteries." It seems that back in July of 1947 some wayward little intergalactic craft, or a weather balloon, depending on who you ask, was zipping across southeastern New Mexico near Roswell, and took a wrong turn. Down, that is. It crashed into the only thing it might encounter in the plains outside Roswell: the ground. The rest is, well, quasi-history.

The UFO vein runs deep in Roswell, even in my own family. Long before the 1947 "Roswell Incident" began to get attention in the late '70s, we were well versed in our own UFO lore. There was the story that my mom's friend told about her relatives who cowered in their northern New Mexico ranch house while a UFO zipped around outside. Another favorite was the huge, mysterious glob of colorful wire that hitched a ride on my cousin's car in the desert outside Las Cruces. And, even better, there was the chilling story about my sister's close encounter while camping in the woods near Capitan. This UFO actually flew in and out, making the lights flicker on and off in her camping trailer.

The relationship between Roswellites and space has always been a strange one. On the one hand there is the legitimate relationship. Robert H Goddard, the father of modern rocketry, launched his first prototypes from the plains outside of Roswell. My mom and her siblings would surreptitiously watch him drive past their place in the country. They thought he was crazy. He always had mysterious paraphernalia hanging out of the back of his truck. They would hear strange explosions coming from his land just over the horizon. 

Then there was Edgar Dean Mitchell, who went to Berrendo School with my mom. He turned out to be a real, live space traveler -- a NASA astronaut.

But on the other hand, there's the "UFO thing." Just ask around in Roswell. If the guy you ask hasn't seen a UFO, his aunt has, or maybe his neighbor or his girlfriend's second cousin has. The way people talk, you'd think Roswell is some kind of intergalactic Stuckey's -- you just have to stop. There is so much terrestrial interest in these cosmic tourists that Roswell now sports two thriving UFO museums.

Last year one of my old high school buddies told me the "real" reason all the UFOs are buzzing the Land of Enchantment. You see, she heard that those industrious extraterrestrials are running an interstellar mining operation. They're getting something in New Mexico that their own planet can't produce (green chiles, perhaps?).

Regardless of the reason for the visitations, the Holy Grail for a Roswellite is definitive documentation, actual proof of extraterrestrial existence. Every Harry, Louise and Mabel has a video camera at the ready, hoping to be featured next week on "Inside Edition" and make an all-expense-paid guest appearance on Oprah.

In the quest for documentation, it is my uncles who lead our clan. One year my family was all atwitter because my Uncle Bob took an actual Polaroid snapshot of a UFO. Sure enough, there it was for all us earthlings to see: a flying silver disk hovering just above the trees in Uncle Bob's back yard. Turns out he had glued two pie pans together, thrown it in the air like a Frisbee and got his daughter to snap the picture.

Then there's my Uncle Dow, who features a UFO in his annual Christmas light display, which is so elaborate the Roswell Daily Record featured it one year. Well, old Uncle Dow spotted a real UFO zigzagging around in broad daylight last year. Last time I was in Roswell he invited me over to watch a videotape of it. Despite great effort on my part, all I could see was a brilliant blue sky with patchy clouds. In the background I could hear my uncle saying, "Oh look, there it goes again!" Then, the camera operator, my Aunt Hazel saying, "Well, Dow, I just can't see it in the view-finder!"

As a kid, it never occurred to me that all the UFO lore was, shall we say, paranormal. Maybe I've been gone too long, but I couldn't help smiling recently when my sister complained to me on the phone about the growing UFO hoopla in Roswell. 

"This UFO thing is just getting out of hand," she said. "It's bringing some real weirdos to town!"

Friday, August 13, 2010


Albuquerque, NM -- We found it. The store of our dreams.

Okay, maybe that's an overstatement, but we often walk through entire stores without seeing anything relevant to our lives, usually leaving without buying anything.

And then we went to REI. First there was the bike department. Then the backpacks and bags, and then the high-tech fiber clothing and then the hats with UV protection. A few hours and several hundred dollars later, we came out with that amazing bike tool, which has everything we don't know how to use to repair our bikes, two tire patch kits, a little bike saddle bag that fits under the seat, a couple of hats, a foldup Sherpani backpack, a computer bag for Chip....

Mom's been released from the hospital now. She's making quick progress. Hospitals are no place to get well. We're all staying in a hotel, still taking turns mom-watching, spending the remainder of the time that we're not at REI with my nephew and his awesome family. It's unplanned family time and perhaps more precious for that.

Cruising offers us more time to spend with our families, but otherwise takes us so very far away from them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Albuquerque, NM -- Days pass in the foggy existence of hospital life. We laugh, we sit, we talk.

They ask mom what day it is, and we all glance at each other, uncertain. They ask her what year it is. I can tell she doesn't know, so she cracks a joke to steal time.

She's stable now but weak. They promise us parole soon.

"I'm sorry I interrupted your plans," mom says.

"I'm sure I interrupted yours a few times over the years," I reply.

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Albuquerque, NM -- I sit in the eery light of the nighttime ICU. The whir of machines, the beep of the heart monitor, my own nervous watchfulness keep me from sleeping.

Mom has been here for a week. I just arrived tonight.

Sometime during the night I heard her stir. I rose from my makeshift bed on the recliner to see if she needed help. She reached out with her eyes closed, took my hand and gently stroked, stroked, stroked it, for those few moments spinning us back through time. I stood beside the bed in my socks feeling small and weepy.

We're keeping a schedule, my sister, Chip and me. One of us on watch around the clock. It's always the nighttime when mom gets restless, when I wonder if she misses my dad, wonder if she feels alone, wonder if we're enough.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Drop boards in bad need of refinishing.
Waiting doesn't have to be unproductive. Today we taped the toe rails and I slapped on another two coats of finish -- and while I was at it, I decided to sand down and coat the companionway drop boards (our front door).

Could someone please remind me to take "before" photos? I'm lame at that, but the photo there shows pretty much how bad they were. Now they're shiny and lovely along with the toe rails.

Today was not a good day for mom. They opted to do another emergency procedure to clear some of the blood clots from her left lung. The lung collapsed on Wednesday night and has not recovered.

Drop boards refinished.
After a tense (on my part) hour, they emerged successful. Our hope is that she will now stabilize. We've purchased one-way tickets to Albuquerque leaving on Sunday, two days from now.

p.s. -- "You know what happens tomorrow," I told Chip yesterday. "The dinghy motor will be ready." Sure enough. The doors are opening.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Two weeks ago -- and two days before I was going to list my car for sale -- I backed out of the parking garage and peeled the rearview mirror off the driver's side door. ARGH.

I took it to Luke, our awesome mechanic, with visions of a $300-400 bill. He fixed it for $180.

Yesterday a young man called to ask me if my car was for sale. He took a cursory look and called to say he would buy it.

This morning I met the guy's dad and mom (who turned out to be customers from the wine shop) at the bank. They gave me my asking price in cash. I signed over the title, just like that. Done.

"How did you hear about the car being for sale?"

"Luke our mechanic."

Aren't broken mirrors supposed to be bad luck?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


The new, undamaged grill has finally arrived, the grill we've been admiring at the boat show for 8 years.

One more thing checked off the list. We now have a second kitchen in the cockpit.

Mom continues to have complications and procedures, far away in New Mexico. Every day, every hour her condition changes.

We check flights. We make checklists for leaving the boat. Then we wait.

And grill in the cockpit.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Last week we grappled with why we couldn't make the break, leave our home waters. No matter what we tried, something prevented us from leaving.

"The universe took one of our spark plugs," I told Chip about the dinghy motor landing in the shop for 10 days. We can't leave without it.

It's now clear in hindsight why we were waylaid here in Manteo. This impending trip to New Mexico would have been so difficult if we were already in the Chesapeake. We would have to find a safe place to keep the boat, find people we trusted to keep an eye on her. And then we would worry.

One of the things we like about cruising is that we are able to help our aging parents. The last five years with the wine shop, it was not possible to leave on short notice or stay indefinitely. Now we can. Sooner than we thought.

We monitor mom's condition from afar, judging the best time to make the trip. Our hope is to arrive when she goes home so we can be there to help her get back on her feet.

The struggle we face is her continued life-threatening complications. My sister and I confer on the phone, but she is the one who is there to make the life and death decisions, to listen to the litany of hideous things that could happen as a result of the procedures she approves, spending her nights on a recliner in ICU.

One thousand eight hundred and eighty-five miles seems infinite.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Our daughter, Casey, and our 5-year-old friend, Townes, slept over with us on the boat last night. We played games, romped in the playground and went on an "adventure." Sweet times.

Everyone was quietly in bed at 10:00.

Soon thereafter I got the first call.

My 78-year-old mom was coughing up blood and being flown from Roswell to Albuquerque.

By 4 a.m. she was having emergency surgery to repair two tears in her left lung, in danger of bleeding out at any time.

After four hours of surgery, they gave up on repairing the second tear and planned to go back in this afternoon.

By 4 p.m. she had stabilized and apparently the other tear is healing on its own. She is on a breathing tube and heavily sedated, therefore content and resting.

We will see what tomorrow holds.

A trip to New Mexico is in our near future.

*That image is a card Townes made for us, by himself, while his parents were sleeping. He doesn't know how to write cursive, so he found a Cara Mia shirt and copied the text. We love you, Townes. You will always have a home on Cara Mia.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Perhaps we underestimated the steely grip of the land.

Little things pile up and together become big things. Chores that should take an hour grow extracted and take many times that. Others get done but create five more in their wake.

We each had a list of people interested in buying our cars, but when we were ready to sell, the people disappeared.

The damaged grill had to be sent back and a new one shipped (slowly) to replace it.

The topper we ordered for the mattress will be here in three weeks.

That engine for the dinghy? Still waiting.

Ah, we wait -- a wait riddled with good times and good friends and no schedule. We are not suffering.