Our Boat

Caloosa Spirit

Catalina 42 mkII

Log #61 Stalled In The Doldrums

Happy New Year! In Florida the sun is warm, the weather balmy, the water lapping gently against the hull. At least, we think that’s the case. We don’t really know for sure, since we’re still in Indianapolis. Surprised? So are we. Our flight reservations had us returning to Ft. Lauderdale on January 4th, but the plane took off without us. Not by accident, mind you. We missed the flight on purpose.

For the last few years my (Alice’s) doctor has been concerned about some slightly elevated liver enzyme numbers in my blood tests. Alcohol has never been a big draw for me, but for the last six months I’ve been “on the wagon” in an attempt to determine the cause of the problem. Granted, I’ve indulged in miniscule amounts of alcohol on a very few occasions during that period, but surely not enough to cause the numbers to continue to rise. So, now my doctor wants a specialist and perhaps some tests involved in the diagnosis. Waiting until we’re back in Indy in the summer may have been an option, but I’d really like to have some answers sooner than that. Another option might have been to return to Indy in another month or so, but that would mean the expense of another flight plus more dockage fees. Loathe though I was to cancel the flight reservations, we decided that the $200 change fee would be worth the expense in the long run, especially since Caloosa Spirit is presently sitting in a secure, affordable place.

When I called the recommended specialist, hoping for an appointment sometime within a few weeks, I was told that the next available appointment was on—are you ready for this?—SEPTEMBER 12th!! Yes, folks, that’s September 12, 2006—more than eight months from now! At that point I wasn’t sure I’d live that long! After another consultation with my doctor, he assured me that I’m not in any imminent danger of any serious illness—quite a relief under the circumstances. In fact, I have no symptoms of any illness and I feel completely normal—whatever that is. Equally chagrined at an eight-month wait, my doctor gave me another name to call, and I now have an appointment next week.

So here I sit, gazing out at the gray, gloomy skies—typical Indiana winter weather and one of the main reasons we left. The Bahamas are waiting, but hopefully they’ll still be there in a few more weeks—or months.

Well, the gray, gloomy skies are brighter today, but it’s still cold. And, okay, so my fantasy about the warm sunshine in Florida turns out to be just that—a fantasy. The predicted high for today in Stuart is about 61 or so. Brrr!! At least here in Indy we have central heat, so there is an upside to this delay.

Another birthday. At this point I’m trying not to count them. We celebrated with a movie—in a movie theater, even. The gray, gloomy weather (yes, it’s back) didn’t lend itself to any outdoor entertainment. We’re really missing Florida weather.

Now the gray, gloomy skies are weeping. I’m afraid their sadness will soon settle onto me in the form of SAD—seasonal affective disorder. I need some sunshine!

Finally the sun shone—all day in fact. And finally I got an answer about when we can return to the boat—well, relatively. I saw the liver specialist today, and he indicated that the mild elevation in the enzyme numbers is most likely nothing to be concerned about. He ordered some more extensive blood tests, and we should have those results early next week. If the results are as benign as he expects, we could be back in Florida by the end of next week. Tonight we’re cautiously celebrating. Of course, while we’re waiting for the medical diagnosis, we’re also waiting for a computer diagnosis—again. Jim has been trying to get a problem with the battery straightened out, and the tech he took the laptop to was just sure that replacing the system board was the solution. After a second try (because the first part didn’t fit correctly), it’s still not fixed. What’s the correct solution, you ask? Time will tell, we hope.

There are some rewards to being stuck in Indy. At church today we celebrated the 100th birthday of our church’s “official” grandmother. Such are the church family events that we miss as we travel.

With boredom settling in we decided to visit the RV show in town. We’ve often thought that we’d like to do some land cruising some day. After all, some of our country’s most beautiful treasures are inaccessible from water. And with hurricane seasons becoming longer and more ferocious, we think that Caloosa Spirit may be spending more time in port or drydock over the next several years. A recreational vehicle is certainly not in our budget presently, but we were curious about the options. We now understand why many snowbirds live in one through the Florida winter. “Lovely” and “spacious” don’t begin to describe many of the behemoth vehicles. We lean more toward something easy to drive, park, and maneuver, however. By exploring the offerings we got a taste of what we may pursue sometime in our future.

No word yet on the blood tests, and the computer is still in the hospital. We’re still several days from the Florida sun.

We finally saw another reward for still being here. We awoke this morning to two inches of snow! Yes, that is cause for some celebration. Unless you’ve experienced the drab, dreary, depressing Indiana winter, you probably can’t appreciate the sentiment. There was snow on the ground when we arrived last month, but since Christmas we’ve been looking at only bare, colorless trees, frequently through rain. The snow on the trees reminds us of God’s tender, soothing touch on a hard, brittle world.

Welcome to winter
Welcome to winter

The morning sun on the snow brings a warm—well, chilly—glow. A walk with the sun on my face did much to lift my spirits. The results of my blood test indicate that a liver biopsy is called for. I’m not thrilled. The doctor informs me that the procedure is only mildly uncomfortable, and that it’s quite likely that there’s no real problem. If there is a problem, it’s most likely a disease treatable with chronic medication. I’ve heard nothing about anything potentially life-threatening. Thank you, God, for that. The biopsy is scheduled for four days from now, and we’ll wait for the results for the rest of the week. And the computer isn’t back yet. The Florida sun will have to wait a while longer.

The biopsy turned out to be pretty much a walk in the park. After several admonishments that I’d be in some pain and discomfort afterward, I was prepared to be in need of pampering and coddling for a couple of days. Not so much. I felt tired from lack of sleep, but nary a twinge has yet set in. Here’s hoping the results are as benign as the procedure.

Yes, we’re still without a computer. The current word is that it should be fixed in the next couple of days. The lesson here is to never expect replacement parts to actually work. Apparently, the concept of testing parts before shipping them hasn’t yet found its way into IBM’s quality control manual.

The wind is blowing at about 20mph today. We can’t really appreciate the stiff breeze while we’re sitting on land. It just makes us colder.

So what do we do all day while we’re dirt dwelling in the north, you ask? First we get up and have breakfast. Then we read for a while until lunch. In the afternoon we might read some more or watch a video with Mom. Some days we make a quick run to the grocery store. (We’ve also done some computer shopping—just in case.) Along comes dinner time—usually something simple, sometimes with Lauri—then a little TV and bed. Sounds exciting, huh? Well, yes, it still beats going out to work every day. I once answered this question about our life on board by describing the laborious tasks of grocery shopping and laundry. And most regular readers are well aware of our time and effort oft consumed in boat maintenance and repairs. Here at Mom’s apartment there’s no maintenance or repairs for which we’re responsible, the grocery store is a short drive away, and Mom has a washer and dryer en suite. Yes, life here takes less effort than life on board, but we miss the activity. We miss having something to do and some place to go.

Spending the extra time with Mom and Lauri has been richly rewarding, and the rambunctious, voracious squirrels in the nearby woods are a joy to behold. But this interminable waiting has begotten a life of listless limbo. An image of drifting for days or weeks on a windless, glassy sea comes to mind. Surely, it must come to an end sometime, but when?

Checkers with Mom
Checkers with Mom

Unexpectedly, the doctor called this morning with the biopsy results. All appears normal with no evidence of disease. YESSSSS!! The questions and concerns about my liver seem to be laid to rest for the present, and our lives can return to normal. Well, normal for us, anyway.

We haven’t yet made flight reservations, though. You can probably guess why. The latest part that was supposed to fix the laptop? It hasn’t yet arrived, and there’s some question about whether it’s even been ordered. (Groan!!) As long as this repair is taking, we won’t schedule a flight back to Florida until we have our laptop in hand, and we know that it’s working properly. Since the weekend is at hand, we see several more Indiana winter days in our future.

Special friend
A special winter friend

Another week has passed, and we’re still computer disabled. Yes, the part finally arrived; no, it didn’t fix the computer; and, yes, another part had to be ordered yet again. Somehow the system board keeps frying. Or else the “quality” control at IBM has hit an all-time low. If today’s fix is unsuccessful, well…the screams we’ve been stifling may resound throughout the cosmos. We’re doing some more computer shopping just in case.

We understand that Punxsutawney Phil scurried back into his burrow upon spying his shadow this morning. Not that the overgrown rodent is any whiz at winter weather predicting. As mild as this northern winter has been, six more weeks may hardly be noticeable in any case. Still, we’d rather be spending the mild winter in an even milder climate.

You didn’t hear any primal screaming from our direction, you say? We must not have bellowed loud enough. Our laptop is now back in our laps, but… Well, let’s just say that four weeks and as many boat bucks later, we’re right back where we started—the battery isn’t charging. After some manipulation and downloading we’ve managed to get the system working adequately, but we still have no battery power. Now we have to decide whether or not to fight to get our money back, or just chalk it up and head south. We feel the sun calling.

“Then falls the miracle of snow.” That was a line from one of my favorite songs back when I was studying voice in college. It’s truly one of God’s greatest beauties, and can soothe the soul almost as much as the warmth of the sun. The operative word here being “almost”. We still long for the soothing sun.

The miracle of snow
The miracle of snow

Fair winds and a faithful wake until next time,
Alice & Jim Rutherford
s/v Caloosa Spirit

P. S. Don’t forget to look up Alice’s book, Reaching a Far Horizon, at www.lulu.com!

Posted Saturday February 4, 2006

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