Friday, May 31, 2019

This story ain't over

Lots of exciting things going on. Not with me, mind, but in general. My horizon is currently limited to the deck of the HQ. We're free for the night, and it being a nice afternoon since I woke up from my nap, I'm going to do a little painting outside. We're stuck in the corner of a container terminal in Newark, so there's no shore access, anyhow, but that's OK, as I can't spend money here.

 Or can I?

       Unfortunately, the day after I make my second mortage payment on my new house, the fridge dies. As it came with the house and is 10 years old, it's not worth trying to fix, as the compressor and possibly the coils are smoked. Either way, it's not a fun time to have to buy a fridge.
 So, $2000 and a consult with Inappropriately Hot Foreign Wife later, and I have a new fridge on order and my tickets home for the end of this trip.
 So, that was a serious dick punch, but not much I can do about it. I had hoped to avoid being house poor, but between my (concrete) house being attacked by a retarded woodpecker with a stucco fetish, some dry rotted trim pieces under my roof and the fridge, as well as interior decorating, there's a squeeze on. So it goes.No overtime available in my scheduled time off, which was also a bit of a surprise.

      So, I spent yesterday pretty bummed out, as I expected hiccups when I moved, but they exceeded expectations and I couldn't work extra to tread water. I spent the watch looking through shit-colored glasses, I guess, finding negatives and wallowing in them.

 Today, well, I bit the bullet, bought my fridge and tickets, and when I get home that woodpecker is going to have hisself an accident.  I will now have time to oppress him thoroughly. And since I am not going to miss a week of my time off, I have time to get things done now.  And yeah, that damn fridge, but no use crying over spilled credit. I can work on my tan, swim, and get shit done in the house.
 Silver linings.

Painting or needle-gunning is my go-to stress relief activity at work. So I've got something like 15,000 square feet of empty deck space, piping, and 8 million trip hazards that I can paint. I'll find peace before I run out of shit to paint, for sure.

 In a funny parallel, here's how a real writer handles real stress, not the 'oh, wah,' variety that shuts me down, and sends me looking for pearls to clutch.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


The deck of the HQ is not known for it's natural wonders.

         Point in fact, one of the best parts of getting ashore is that for half the year, there are some living things to be seen- not people, I mean, but nature- trees and flowers. Even in the New York metro area where we've been for 6 long years now, I can see some trees and plants and such when I get ashore... but not at work. At work there is steel and sea water, rust and noise. For a guy who doesn't much like being indoors, it's not so easy sometimes.

 So, when I do see animals beyond seagulls and Canadian geese (who are universally assholes by inclination), I like to take time to see them. I have always been an animal person anyhow, and birds in particular hold my interest. So it has been nice this year that a pair of Osprey have been moping around one of the oil terminals in Bayonne NJ, one of our regular haunts.

   This morning before sunup, one of the Ospreys was really haunting the dock where we were, crying and squealing (they have a really unpleasant call) just over and over again for an hour plus, and circling overhead. It got to the point where it was actually really really annoying, and I wished the damn bird would go someewhere else... until some time in hour two, when I near to shit myself as a squirrel shot out from under my feet when I walked close to one of our cargo pumps. Guess I startled him, though for the life of me I have no idea where the hell he came from.

 The Osprey picked him off once he was about 30-40 feet away. And I mean that bird hit HARD. The squealing had stopped, and I was still recovering my footing when I saw the bird flash down and he hit that squirrel and the deck hard enough to make a BOOM noise, rapping his knuckles pretty hard in the process, I would warrant.

    I don't mind squirrels, don't like them much either, they being hairy tailed rats to me. Still it was amazing to see the display when the bird struck. And so close to me! It was very cool to watch.

      The squirrel was just flipping out, as you'd imagine. The osprey shot over to the next berth, landed on the dock's deck crane, and proceeded to have breakfast, which didn't work out too well for the squirrel, but from my perspective it saved me from having to deal with having our trash ripped up and scattered every day on deck.

 At any rate, it was something new, and here at the halfway point of this trip, new is good.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Nothing much to write about. I've been uninspired this past week. Just plodding along at work. All is relatively well. We're fairly busy now, plenty of thirsty ships lined up, etc. I find myself distracted with thoughts of home, and things I wasn't able to get to in setting up my new house, stuff my wife'll be waiting on for me to get home.  Nothing dramatic, you know?  Still, it's enough that I'm distracted slightly.

      My corner of the web has been pretty shitty of late, too much noise and whining. I've stepped back a bit and rather than join in on the fun, I've been reading a book, trying to remember that life is about more than making sure that the people I don't like knows I think they're an asshole.

 I'm pretty sure they already know, anyhow.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


Painting season has begun. I didn't get a painting budget last year, and I'm assuming I won't have one this year either, but such stocks as I have, and with favors, stockpiling and plain old horse trading, I have a little paint put by, so I've been poking my head outside 2 hours a day and doing a little therapeutic painting. I find it very relaxing. I can turn my brain off and get into a zen mode until the bucket is dry.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Back on board

Well damn me, I am BEAT.

      Had a hell of a night. My employer changed hotels that put us up for the night before crew change, and the new hotel is further away, in a far worse neighborhood, and incredibly LOUD. Plus, instead of Somalian refugees in the other rooms, like our old hotel, it's gang members, whores and assorted other lowlifes who like to party all night. So that was fun.

        I had a super domestic two weeks, moving  and all, but my new house is liveable, and comfortable. Not finished. I never had time to hang curtain rods, shit like that (we have blinds too, which help), and the guest bedroom and my office are pretty much storage, the usual sort of things that happen in a move. My garage is a disaster, as my tools are scattered, which sucked becuause of the roof situation, not to mention the most satanic bullying woodpecker ever.

        I bought the house as-is, and the only real beef was that the decorative fascia under the roof was rotted in a couple of spots. My brother set aside a Saturday to help me cut and scarf in a new fascia board, which should have been a matter of removing the gutter, cutting out the old board and scarfing in a new one. Instead, we ended up on a 2 1/2 day nightmare of working 25 feet in the air on a ladder, reaching over our heads, in 90 degree sun, high humidity and occasional severe thunderstorms.
 It sucked, we got it done, 2 1/2 days for replacing a 6' section of decorative board and repairing and rehanging a section of gutter. It was so bad that we'll surely have some laughs about it in the future. My brother being an experienced builder, it wasn't like we were slowed by ignorance, but rather by a series of nothing going right. Twice we got chased off the ladder from lightning strikes nearby too.

         So that was annoying. The woodpecker was comical, if infuriating.

 Along with decorative fascia, my house also has decorative trim- it's southern Florida, so the house is stucco over concrete. The decorative trim is also stucco... sprayed over, it turns out, styrofoam.
   Seriously, the builder made styrofoam trim molds, put them up, filled them with liquid polystyrene, and then after pulling the molds, the stucco guys got in there.

 Some asshole woodpeckers figured out that if they can peck through the stucco layer, they can carve out a nice nest in the trim, which is about 8" thick. So they do. EVERY single house on my street has 4-5 woodpecker holes put in it each spring, then, in May, they fill the holes with grout or plaster, or in my case, hydraulic cement.

 My brother filled in three holes before I even got home last time. I spent one day chasing the woodpeckers all over the place. The little bastards are protected, and I don't know the neighbors much yet, so I didn't dare shoot the fuckers. I just swept up the rain of styrofoam particles and then patched holes at sunset, painted them the next morning. I did hang little mirror pieces on some fishing lines at the corners of my house, which scared them off. I guess they don't like the motion and reflection. Two of them spent a morning bitching at me from one of my trees, which made me feel good. I plan on cultivating a shit reputation among the neighborhood pests.
    Still, I wrote about lots of negatives, and there were mostly positives. We had a good time, there was mother's day, and I turned 45 yesterday, so we celebrated that before I left home. All in all, damn good.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Moving in

It's been a hell of a week.

    I got home last Wednesday, and Friday night was the first night we slept in the new house. It's been a whirlwind of heavy lifting, sweat and hundreds of annoying details. As a capper, I picked up a cold somewhere, and there's just something obscene about sniffling and coughing in 90-degree sunny weather.So, this has been a 'do your job' sort of time, where each day I get my sore self out of bed, and get going. We're seeing results, though. The house looks like a house. And I have a pool now, so I can throw myself in there in the afternoon when I get too uncomfortable. All in all, I'm happy with where things are going, even though I can't really say I'm enjoying myself, which is a damn shame, but there it is.
 I've been self-medicating, fighting this cold with traditional remedies. Last night I had a couple of hot toddys.  But they weren't hot, they had ice. And didn't have honey. Or lemon. OK, fine, I had a couple of big glasses of Jamison. But I slept well, at least.