Sunday, April 16, 2017

Avast, ye maties! Aargh!

I am one of the leaders for the young men at church, and as such am always looking for opportunities for new things and getting them out of their comfort zone.
Luckily I have a kind and generous brother, and luckily he has a sailboat, as well as lots of other fun things to do at his house in Maryland.  Five of our young men and I traveled to his place for a couple of days this week to coincide with Spring Break.
They took full advantage of the opportunity.  They fell off kayaks.
They fell off jet skis.
They fell off the climbing wall in my brother's barn (don't worry, they were harnessed and belayed).
They fell asleep on the sailboat.
They did fall-away shots playing midnight basketball (all right, all right, enough falling).
The weather was great for sailing, with good wind and weather.
Everyone got a chance to captain the boat,
some with more style than others,
and some more intently, as he refused to be distracted by the ones that had climbed in the dinghy being towed behind.
To add to the adventuruousnessability of the trip, the motor on the little Zodiac dinghy decided to pout, and no, the young men did not actually save my life when I was ferrying them to Shark Tooth Island in heavy chop and winds when it heaved over and they shifted to my side and I fell over backwards over the side and had to grab the transmission in to neutral and they had to pull me back in because the sides were oily slick and there was nothing to hang on to and luckily I had thought ahead and left everything non-waterproof back on the boat.  They did not actually save my life, but they helped a lot.  Not enough to warrant their claims for full tuition at private colleges and to be included in my will, however, that's clear.  And don't let them try to persuade you otherwise.
The dinghy motor problems were solved, and the young men took advantage of the quiet cove anchorage for the night, and practiced their skills in the Zodiac.  They need more practice.  Trust me.
The anchorage afforded a comfortable night, giving time to fake yoga on the pulpit.
As I have said many times before, my brother is one of my heroes, being generous, funny, and always looking for things to learn and adventures to conquer.  He took all of this calmly, even napping a couple of times while my erstwhile sailors threatened our very mortality at the command of the vessel.
The guys enjoyed living aboard the boat for a couple of days.  The accommodations were not this crowded.  This was more like "How many young men does it take to stuff the fo'c's'le of a sailboat?"
It was indeed a great adventure,
with a happy ending.  Something about kissing 'terra firma' or whatever.
We hope that your adventurousness trips turn out as well.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

You can only be young once....

but you can be immature your whole life!  Yee Hah!
Paula and I have windsurfed for literally 30 years, and every year for 20 years, until 2011, we traveled to Cape Hatteras in the fall and occasionally in the spring to do so. The Pamlico Sound is shallow, but subject to ocean winds, and so it's a superb venue for such things, and getting together with my brother and a great friend from medical school and their wives is just a great, fun, immature week.
Our friend, an ophthalmologist from my medical school class, began kiteboarding eight or nine years ago, and my brother and I started playing with it a little bit before we left town for a while. There are a ton of crazy physics involved, but it's a graceful-looking sport, and we wanted to learn it.
I was just starting to maybe understand it a teensy bit, had bought a kite, and then, whoosh! Paula and I were off to South America for five years.  Meanwhile, my brother and my friend kept at it, and are now expert.
Even when the wind doesn't blow, the Outer Banks are a great place to be.
And it's fun hanging out with my brother and our long-time buddy.
Would you let any of these guys a) laser your eyeball, b) deliver your baby, or c) replace your hip?  Heck, no!  Run!
We hope that your friends are as fun, and that I can get better at this stupid sport, even though I'll never catch up to them.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The stuff that matters

       I received an e-mail from Ashley late last night letting me know that they (though not their luggage) had arrived safely back in Tajikistan, and that even though it was 6:00 AM in Dushanbe where they live, they were all going to bed.  Wimps!  Just because they had left here some 42 hours earlier to begin their trip?!  Sheesh.
       So now the house is quiet again.  Paula has let her Inner Orderly Person run wild, and all the sheets have been washed, the bedrooms vacuumed, the Legos detected ("Ouch!  My foot!") and put away, the miniature pair of tights extricated from between the sofa cushions, and the pacifier reached from under the bed.  
       Was it therefore terrible when the Legos were strewn about, or when the cover finally fell off Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, because after thirty five years it had been read one too-many times?  Is it better now because Joseph's interminable questions no longer need addressed?  ("Does the little red car go fast because you put gasoline in it?  Is it my turn to smash the cans for the recycling?" etc., etc., etc.)
       No, it was, and is, not better.  
       The things that matter happened in the midst of all of that.  It matters that Grandpa didn't blow his stack about the book, but instead said, "Yeah, it was getting old. It's a great book, isn't it?  Your mommy liked it when she was your age."  It doesn't matter that there are no longer pages of sketches strewn about, but that Sophia heard Paula say, "Wow!  You're really getting good at drawing people!" It doesn't matter that someone started playing the piano at 6:00 AM sharp every morning, but that joy was found as small fingers caused something beautiful to occasionally occur.
       It doesn't matter that chaos reigned at 7:30 in the evening - it matters that once night gowns and pajamas were in place, dad read a few more pages of Harry Potter and the Whatever, and that the day ended with everyone kneeling in family prayer.
       It mattered that everyone knew that they were loved, and that they knew that they were part of a family that intended to be good.
       So, yeah, the house is clean and quiet once again.  But it was the other stuff that mattered.