More about the joys of sailing and travel

I also thought the following might be of general interest.

Today I got an email from a friend from high school who paid me a very nice complement on my writing skills. I responded withthe following. Which was written to answer HIS email to me, so sounds a bit odder than my usualy ramblings. But, hopefully you will understand. His part begins with >

>First he complimented me for my writing…

Many thanks for the kind words on my writing skills. I appreciate the praise and I’m very glad you enjoyed it. Actually, I had a terrible time in English class. And the computer does my spell check for me. Otherwise, it would probably be beyond humorous, spelling wise. It would be getting into the stage of, “What word do you suppose he was trying to spell here?”

I assume that in high school they were trying to improve our reading skills with the reading assignments they gave us. However, it seemed to me that most of the books were very difficult reading. I still remember, “Heart of Darkness.” Very, “negative reinforcement” for me at that time in my life. I didn’t really discover how much I enjoyed recreational reading, until long after I got out of school.

Even then, since I’d had such a bad introduction, it was slow to get started. I had actually been reading with my newly discovered interest for a couple of years before someone innocently asked, “What authors are your favorites?”

It took me a moment to understand that, he was trying to gently point out that, if I like to particular author’s book, then there was a good probability that I would like other books by the same author.

What a great idea!

So, you see how naïve I was.

But, back to sailing.

There are lots of exceptions to the following rule, but, it seems to me, that most people that are cruising, are pretty egalitarian. We all have in common our love of cruising. And, so quickly become friends. Regardless of financial or social status.

There are, of course, other yardsticks to measure status in this community. Where you’ve been cruising. How long you’ve been cruising. Have you circumnavigated? Sailed the Northwest passage? Stuff like that.

But, over the years, we have met and become good friends with people that barely had to nickels to rub together, but were certainly not dead-beats. And friends that had three million-dollar yachts, with a LOT of money left over to enjoy life with.

Certainly, not everyone out here cruising is friendly or nice or anyone that I would really want to meet. But, the vast majority are.

>Even though I’ve rarely sailed, I certainly understand the “bug”. I’m also beginning to understand the downside(s).

>But to me, a MAJOR part of the enjoyment is the learning process. For example, physics, chemistry, math, languages, etc.

Thank you very much for reminding me of the pleasures of the learning process. I forgot to mention that in my letter. And it is such an important part of the joy I get from cruising, that I will go edit my blog post, as soon as I finish with this. I completely agree! I certainly am not interested in every single thing in the universe. But I have very wide tastes in what does interest me.

I frequently wish that I had one of my friends that is expert in a particular subject with me. I might be sailing past a rock cliff, that has a very peculiar geological formation displayed. Since the cliff is a cross-section of the land behind it. I would like to ask my geologist friend, “What the hell made that?” Because I’m sure that there is an interesting and fascinating story there. If I just knew how to understand it.

Or when I see an interesting tree, or bush, or plant, or insect, I wish I knew more about it. And usually, I am again reminded that, “I bet that there’s a whole galaxy of information here that goes right over my head. Edible or medicinal plants. How this insect interacts with the other animal and plant life in the area. And so on. I wish I knew more.”

And, I have questions about the dark side, such as, “Which of these plants are poison ivy??” I have figured out that cone shells (a particular class of seashells) have a deadly stinger, so don’t just go frolicking along like you thought you were still in ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.’ And the ‘stone fish and ‘lion fish’ and which sharks are dangerous in this location.

Earth is such a fascinating place to live. It certainly a good thing that it is so big. Otherwise we would’ve totally ruined it much faster. I sure hope some adult supervision shows up that can teach us to be better occupants.

I always liked the joke, which is now, perhaps 40 years old. It was an eviction notice from God. She didn’t like what the present tenants were doing with the earth. She wanted to evict us. She had some better tenants.

>I have acquired a habit recently: I wonder if I have missed something! So I’ll scan a map (or my world atlas) that I have looked at hundreds of times in the past, looking for something I may have missed. Or I’ll walk every shelf in my small branch library, looking for new subjects that I would like to learn about. Etc. “Irrational”, but fun.

I also troll through libraries, stores, groceries, hardware stores, looking for things that I have missed. Eating my way around the world has been a lot of fun. Janet and I used to really enjoy seeing how new places prepared their food. They often had totally new and alien ingredients, but they also often combined old ingredients in new, and amazing ways.

For example, here in Turkey, they have a whole class of food, that I believe is correctly called pekmez. Basically, they take fruit juice and boil it down to something very much like molasses.

That is a double edged sword. In that it becomes far more similar to molasses than you would think. So, the many different kinds of pekmez all have relatively similar flavors. Even though they are made from pomegranate juice, grape juice, etc.

I am told that carob pekmez is quite good. But I have not recognized it in the store, because the Turkish name is unrecognizable to me. I need to print out the various Turkish names and search more carefully.

As more examples of different ways of doing things: the Turks often eat pekmez and tahini (finely ground sesame seeds. Really sesame seed peanut butter.) for breakfast. Or, they will have just a hearty lentil soup as their breakfast, accompanied by what is the Turkish equivalent of ‘French’ bread. A third, extremely common breakfast, is, one hard-boiled egg, a large tomato sliced, a large cucumber sliced, some ‘Farmer’s cheese,’ a variety of fantastic cured olives, some kind of jam or marmalade, and some more Turkish ‘French’ bread.

America is getting much better about olives. I remember when the only olives I had ever known were green olives with pimento in the middle instead of the seed, and black olives that had virtually all of the flavor and the seed removed.

I was quite pleased to get to Europe, where it would be common to walk into a store and find, perhaps 40 to 80 kinds of bulk cured olives in open vats, and who knows how many more that were packaged in jars, cans or special plastic packaging.

The Turks have a whole class of foods, called meze, that would be vaguely similar to appetizers in America. The Spanish have a whole class of foods, called tapas, that are even more similar to American appetizers. Or what the British call ‘starters.’

The mezes are usually vegetarian. The tapas often are, but be more careful. One I particular remember, was that they would take some mild Padron peppers, that were physically like a jalapeno pepper, but usually very, very mild. Like perhaps in Anaheim pepper.

They would sauté these, whole, in olive oil, just a bit. Not till they were soft and squishy, but not for only five seconds either. They would then sprinkle coarse salt over them, and put them on the table.

It was kind of like Russian roulette. Spanish roulette? The Spanish obviously have a sense of humor. You would eat these things, and they had a very nice flavor especially prepared in this matter. But, there were two or three very hot ones, somewhere on the plate. It was never any secret when someone found one. There would be a lot of careful, but forceful breathing, perhaps wiping your eyes, and the prayer that that was the last hot one in the batch.

Google >spanish tapas peppers salt<

I’ve been an ovo-lacto vegetarian since about 1972. And Janet preferred that diet, but, wanting to be polite, when we were invited somewhere, she would eat whatever was put in front of her. Up until about 1995, when she decided that she, also, was going to limit herself to ovo-lacto vegetarianism.

So, we used to spend hours walking through ethnic supermarkets, buying strange and mysterious things, that did not contain meat, and taking them home and trying them out. Of course, this did not work out very well because we usually had no idea how to wisely use the product. But it was fun nonetheless.

I still do things like that, but it was a LOT more fun with Janet.



Wikipedia can help you understand all of the above. And of course, the Google search engine is is still pretty fantastic. However, I feel like it is gotten a lobotomy. It seems to me to be just a faint shadow of what it was only a few years ago. It used to be FAR more useful. Now, at least in my universe, it usually brings up a huge amount of junk that I have no interest in, and definitely has nothing to do with what I searched for. Many of the words that I am searching for are nowhere to be found on the webpage I’m sent to.

So, on several levels, I am incredibly lucky to have been born when I was. The biggest thing was that I got to know Janet, of course. But, I was born at a time that I was old enough when it became much easier to sail around, here and there, and a sailboat. But before humans had totally trashed the planet.

“Paved paradise and put in a parking lot.” Is peanuts compared to the poisoning of the oceans and other nightmares that have occurred during my lifetime. So, I would say, “Get out there and do it now! We are definitely on the downhill part of the Bell curve.”



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