Happy New Year 2018

Here’s to hoping 2018 is a better year than the last one!

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Christmas on the St Louis Express

We made arrival in Norfolk early in the morning on the 24th. We were all fast by 0315. I slept in til 0630. Got up for breakfast and watch at 0800. We spent the day securing the port accommodation ladder, sending crates down to the engine room with the crane, putting the port lifeboat in the water and putting primer on the catwalks where we’ve been chipping.

Since it’s a weekend, we get overtime even for working on watch. It’s nice to get OT again. I’ve gotten so used to working in the oilfield where there is no such thing as overtime. We work 12 hours every day (or more). No such thing as a break for weekends or holidays. It’s very nice to go back to a traditional schedule of 4 hours on/8 hours off (except that I am here working as a “day man” so I work 8-5).

Today is Christmas, so I took the afternoon off. I think most of the crew did the same. Some of the crew went ashore last night and today. They say there are a few shops right outside the gate (we still have to call for a ride to the gate).

Santa made it to the ship! Actually, it was the local seaman’s center that brought presents for the crew. You have no idea how much it means to all of us working out here to get something like this. So many sailors are working for months, even years at sea without ever seeing their friends or family. It means a lot to know that someone cares enough about us to make the effort to bring these presents to the ship.

Santa brought presents to the ship!

I opened mine this morning. It had a nice Christmas card on top with a thoughtful comment. It’s full of candy, shampoo, shaving cream and razors, lotion, soap, q-tips, etc. All things you need and might’ve forgotten or run out of on a long voyage.

Christmas goodies from thanks to the seaman’s center

The stewards department was really the only one that really had to work today. I have to hand it to them, they put on quite a nice spread for both lunch and dinner.

We had ham, turkey, deviled eggs, corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, green peas, fresh bread, cranberry sauce, and then apple and pecan pie. 🙂

Cooks are happy they made it through the holiday

Not counting the salad bar and freezer full of ice cream. 🙂

For dinner, they had super tender filet mignon, home made crab cakes, shrimp and again all the rest. I was so stuffed, I couldn’t even finish my steak.

It’s cold (37) and really windy here, but no snow yet. Tomorrow we’ll be back to work as usual. The ship is due to sail at 1900. Sadly, I won’t be going with her.

I hate to admit it, but I guess I’m just not as young as I used to be. I took this job as a day man, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Big mistake! Since a large part of my job is running the cranes (4 of them), and the controls are very high up there, I had to face the facts and ask for a replacement.

I’m sure if I’d have shipped out as a regular AB. A watch standing AB, I would’ve done fine. I’m frustrated with myself that I took this job without finding out more about it, but it’s like pulling teeth sometimes trying to get information out of them at the union hall. I was really looking forward to making this trip. Crossing the Atlantic and seeing Europe again. From what I can see, the regular AB’s have it made on here. I’d have no problem doing that job.

I hated to ask the captain for a relief. I don’t like to give up. I don’t like to be a quitter. But, I also have to take into account that I am getting older, I still have not lost any weight, and climbing up and down straight ladders more than a couple of times a day is killing my legs.

I’m bruised all over my body, I keep smashing my knees into the ladder rungs going up the cranes and I’m afraid one of these days I’m going to fall off while I’m cussing out my kneecaps. I have to remind myself that there is no way I can afford to get hurt and if I keep on climbing those cranes, there’s a pretty good chance I would hurt myself before the ship returns to Houston and I’d be due off.

So. I’ll be getting off tomorrow and flying home to Houston. I don’t have any idea when yet. I may be working all day tomorrow and just have a few minutes to throw my gear together. Or maybe they’ll let me know earlier so I have some time to clean my room and get ready.

I’m just hoping they can find me a cheap ticket, since I’m told they will be deducting the price of the flight from my pay. Looks like I may’ve wound up working pretty much for free this trip. 😦

Lesson learned: NEVER take a job as a day man!

 

WISTA Sista’s Help Santa with Seafarers

Tonight was the annual get together of the Houston-Galveston area WISTA Sista’s to ready the Christmas care packages for our local seafarers. The Houston Pilots let us use their facility to organize the assembly of the boxes.

One side of the room had tables filled up with supplies for the shoe boxes: pens, mini-flashlights, pads of paper, snacks, candies, razors, hats, gloves, toothpaste, cards/envelopes, calendars, tissues, etc.

The other sides tables were filled with supplies for the assemblers (us)! 😉

Trays of cheese and crackers, sliced turkey and salami, pickles, olives, fruits and dip, sandwiches, tiny little cheesecakes, sodas, coffee and wine. 🙂

A few of us filled up the boxes, while others wrapped them up and tied ribbons. I’m not sure how many we made up, but we filled up 2 trucks by the end of the night. Half will go to Houston, and half to Galveston.

I’m not that much into Christmas. I usually work over the holidays. In fact, up until the last 2 years of this horrible downturn, I’ve worked every Christmas but 2 over the last 40 years! It’s great to be home with friends and family. To enjoy all the holiday spirit, traditions, good cheer and company.

Out on the ship, it’s hard to deal with the holidays sometimes. You miss all that’s going on at home. You may or may not have communications with your family (some ships still have no internet access for the crew and cell phones usually don’t work unless you’re in port). Most ships try to do something special for Christmas. They’ll set up a tree, put up some decorations and cook a special meal. Santa may even show up at the ship! 😉

You have no idea how much difference these little shoe boxes can make to a ships crew at Christmas. I’ve seen guys break down and cry. It does make you feel good to know that someone out there is thinking about you. Someone who you don’t even know, that wanted to make sure you had something special for Christmas.

I’m hoping I’ll be back at sea by Christmas! I don’t know if I’ll see Santa this year, but I know that there are people around the world who care for the seafarers (not just Houston, I know Freeport’s seaman’s center does and other seaman’s centers do too).

PS- WISTA is an organization of women in shipping and transportation- there are men members too, we call them WISTA Mr’s 🙂 We had a couple of students from Texas A&M tonight (male and female). We had women who work in insurance, logistics, trading, piloting, training, and sailing. The maritime industry covers a lot of ground, there are all sorts of jobs on shore and on the sea.

Five Days in New Orleans

I decided to make one last big effort to find a decent job. I flew up to New Orleans to attend the Workboat Show and search for work. I picked up my rental car and made my way down the bayou. First stop was at GOL in Raceland.

I was able to talk to the hiring manager there (he was an old friend), but they had no work since most of their boats were still laid up, so I said my goodbyes and continued on down Bayou Lafourche.

I stopped in at every boat company I could find: Alliance, Cheramie, C&G, GIS, L&M Botruc, Odyssea, Jambon, Chouest, Candies, and more. They all told me pretty much the same thing (except for one old boy who still insisted they ‘don’t have facilities for women’). They had so many of their boats stacked up and good people laid off. They had long lists of people they were hoping to get back when things picked up.

I picked up more applications and moved on.

By the time I got back to New Orleans and turned in my car, it was already dark and I was ready to check into my apartment. Yes, I rented an apartment (through hotels.com). It was really nice. It had a separate bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen/living room. It even had a washer/dryer in a closet!

I had a full kitchen with a full sized stove, oven and refrigerator, all the glasses, dishes, etc. Coffee maker and coffee, a blender, spices, etc. All I needed to cook a nice meal. Too bad I couldn’t find a decent grocery near by.

I spent the rest of the evening working on applications, emails and enjoying the view from the rooftop over the skyline. It was cool to watch the fog roll over the lights from the skyscrapers.

In the morning, I headed over to the Convention Center for the Workboat Show. I picked up my badge and a list of the vendors and sorted out my priorities. I tend to concentrate on electronics (DP systems, radios, ECDIS, charts, etc), crewing/employment agencies, and training/education providers.

I always make a point to go by and visit people I know who are there with booths too. This year, a lot of them were missing. The show seemed smaller to me this year. I suppose because of the long lasting downturn in the industry. It’s already been more than 3 years now. 😦

I did get to meet Captain Edgar Hansen from the TV show the Deadliest Catch, and I attended an interesting “Dock Talk” about women in the maritime industry: why aren’t there more women out here, what can we do about it, and why should we? Wish it was better attended, but at least someone is thinking about it.

I met up with an old friend for a couple of hours and we caught up on things as we wandered around the isles. We had a quick lunch at the food court (I do not recommend the BBQ! $3.50 for a bottle of water was a huge rip-off IMHO). I continued on visiting the vendors after my friend had to get on the road and head back home.

During the day, I was invited to a couple of parties. That’s where the best networking goes on. I’m not into partying nearly as much as I used to be, but I still hate to pass one up. I went to the LOC party at the World of Beer. It was pretty nice. Not too crowded. They had drinks and snacks we could order. Their tacos were pretty good. Plenty of beer. 🙂

I ran into a few friends there and met some new ones. It was nice to hear what everyone has been up to. The party ended fairly early, so I wound up going with a friend to the Texas A&M party at the Fulton Alley. That’s a cool place. It’s a bowling alley, with a bar. Drinks, snacks, music, etc.

Funny, but I ran into another old friend. Another captain I used to work with was there with his wife. They were in New Orleans for business and happened to be at the party. They live in the next town from me here in Texas. 🙂

I didn’t stay late, but I did meet a couple of guys who were telling me about a ‘sure thing’ job. I had already applied there, but considering what everyone was telling me; ‘go in person and you’ll get hired’, I started re-thinking my plans for the next couple of days.

Thursday I slept in a little bit later and then had breakfast across the street at the Ruby Slipper. It was really good and I was stuffed by the time I finished. I walked down to the Convention Center and then spent the rest of the day wandering around and talking to all kinds of people there. I ran into some more old friends, met some guys from Oceaneering (where I used to work) who hollered at me about my shirt, spent some time talking to the crew at Oceanwide (where I still work when they have any).

By 1700 my feet were getting sore and I was getting tired. There were more parties to go to, but I really wasn’t feeling up to it. I took a detour through the Riverwalk next door and wound up eating Chinese food from the food court while watching all the traffic on the river pass by.

I walked down the river to the Hilton and then cut across to Harrah’s casino. I figured I’d play a few games of video poker and head home. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose much and was home by 2200 and to bed not long after.

Friday morning, I picked up another rental car and headed over to Covington to see if they were right about going in person. I was lucky to get to talk to someone in person and we had a nice talk. Of course, they had a lot of their boats tied up too, but they do have at least some work and I’m still hoping they’ll be able to find something for me there.

It was a gorgeous day and I decided to stop for a picnic before heading back over the bridge into New Orleans. I picked up supplies and headed over to Fontainebleau State Park. It was such a nice day, sunny and cool, light breeze. I had the whole place practically to myself. The lake was calm and sparkling in the sun. The beach was inviting, but I wasn’t dressed for playing in the water. 😦

I walked around the pond, looking for alligators (didn’t see any), and then drove over to check out the old sugar mill. Interesting history to read about. It got me interested to visit the nearby town of Mandeville, but it was getting late and I decided that would have to wait for another time.

I made it back to New Orleans in time to meet another friend for dinner. We had a nice time catching up over dinner by the river and then hit the casino for a couple of games. He had to get back home and I was ready to quit, so I headed home for the night.

I wanted to hit the Ruby Slipper again for breakfast Saturday, but the lines were halfway down the block on both sides! Instead, I went for beignets at the Cafe du Monde at the Riverwalk (much closer and much less crowded than the main one at Jackson Square). After my beignets and cafe au lait, I walked over to the Roosevelt Hotel to check out their famous Christmas decorations.

I had thought about having a drink at the bar, but the place was packed so I didn’t stick around. I took a walk over to Bourbon Street since I hadn’t even seen it yet this whole trip.

Glad I hadn’t tried! They’re doing construction all the way down Bourbon Street. The entire street is blocked off and you have to stay on the fenced in sidewalks. I can only imagine how that would be, packed full of rowdy loud drunks with nowhere to puke! Yuk! I’ll skip Bourbon Street til they finish up the construction!

I did finally get to try out my membership in the Bourbon of the Month Club. I sat at the bar at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House and watched the oyster shuckers at work. I don’t like oysters, but it was pretty entertaining to watch anyway.

 

After I finished my taste, I got to see the fresh shrimp being delivered, straight from the boats to the cooks. Nice, big, fresh shrimp. I really ought to try getting into seafood again. Seeing all that in New Orleans makes me think I’m really missing out.

By now, it was just about time for the Christmas Parade. I always try to see that when I’m in town. The Krewe of Jingle really puts on a great parade. They have some really cute costumes and dance troupes. The marching bands and miscellaneous characters all add up to make a fantastic show.

I always enjoy my time in New Orleans. There’s always something going on that’s fun and interesting. But I always wind up coming home to chill out for a while too. That’s what I’ve been doing since I got home Saturday night. 🙂

 

SNL- Dysfunctional Thanksgiving

Yeah, I know it’s a little late. Thanksgiving is over already, but I was looking at youtube tonight to get some info about teaching in Ukraine. I watched the weekly TEFL webinar and they got me curious about how it is over there and they recommended I watch this youtube video. These SNL videos were posted all along the side of the page.

I hope your holidays don’t go like this, but mine were fairly similar when I was growing up. Anyone today would say I had a very dysfunctional family life when I was a kid. I’m glad now I have good friends with ‘normal’ families I can hang out with. 🙂

Thanksgiving Funnies

I hope everyone is having a happy Thanksgiving. I’m already home from my friends house, where I stuffed myself with a delicious dinner. 🙂

The kids stepped up and made the stuffing, gravy, banana pudding and even mani-mahi (first time I’ve seen that done for Thanksgiving). We also had mashed potatoes, broccoli rice casserole, ham, turkey, hot rolls and roasted vegetables. That was all before the desserts: Sue’s fabulous apple cinnamon cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pecan pie and pumpkin nut bread (with chocolate chips).

I got home and forced myself to take my walk before I fell asleep. I’m trying not to take another nap! I don’t want to get my sleep schedule all twisted again. I’m trying to get back to normal- up in the daytime so I can get things done.

I want to spend this weekend working on a few projects I’ve been putting off (just too tired to get to them). I got a few plants on sale last week. They’re mostly still alive so I need to get them in the ground! I want to finish up the last chapter of the book I’ve been working on. I need to choose a few good photos for the Houston Maritime Museum, I’m hoping they’ll let me place a few there and maybe someone will buy a couple. 🙂

Here are a few more cute cartoons I found online for Thanksgiving. Enjoy…

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, spent with friends and family.

If you’re offshore, I know you’re thankful to still have a job (I would be). Enjoy the great food and camaraderie out there. 😉

SNL: Vincent Price’s Halloween Special

More fun for Halloween!

Do you remember Vincent Price? I do. He was a favorite of mine in those old Saturday morning Creature Features and assorted horror movies.

I can’t say I remember Gloria Swanson. She was before my time and I never have seen Sunset Boulevard. I’m not up on James Mason either, tho I do remember seeing him in quite a few films. Seems kindof out of character from what I remember, but maybe I’m thinking of the wrong guy.

I love how Vincent (Bill Hader) tries to keep the show ‘PG’, safe for the kids. Liberace gets in a few good ones too. It’s hilarious.

Maritime Monday for October 30th 2017: Lumber Hooker

Here’s the latest maritime news from Monkey Fist and gCaptain. There’s always something interesting in the mix. This week I really liked the Halloween story of the Boston “Ghost Ship Harbor”. I love that kind of stuff!

The articles about the Voyageurs, the Enigma machine and the code breakers was all pretty interesting too.

Check it out…

Europa, later SS Liberté, was a German ocean liner built for the Norddeutsche Lloyd line (NDL) to work the transatlantic sea route. She and her sister ship, Bremen, were the two most advanced, high-speed steam turbine ocean vessels in their day, with both earning the Blue Riband.  more Leave it to Boston to create a […]

Source: Maritime Monday for October 30th, 2017: Lumber Hooker – gCaptain

Two More Days til Halloween!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (the other is St Patricks Day). I love all the costumes, parties, and candy! I don’t bother to decorate my house, it looks like it’s a Halloween House year round anyway, but I do buy some extra candy now for the trick or treaters who might come by. I’m too paranoid to go out to any of the parties anymore. 😦

I thought this video was kind of cute. I do like to read horror stories and I get a kick out of those campy old movies with the zombies and werewolves. I’ve seen a couple of the Saw movies, a few of the Elm Street movies, a bunch of zombie movies too.  I remember Michael Jackson and the Thriller video when it first came out. I loved his dancing. Sad that he died so young.

Poor Freddie, his jokes weren’t going over too well. The werewolf has his own take. He’s cute. 😉

CFFC: Tombstones or Cemeteries

Here’s my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tombstones or Cemeteries.

I took these photos (and a lot more) at a meet up for the Brazoria County Models and Photographers group. This one was at the cemetery in honor of Calaveras Day (Day of the Dead).  I haven’t been to many of their meet ups yet, but they seem like a fun group and I’ve enjoyed them so far. I wish they would have more frequent meet ups!

Another Busy Week

And not accomplishing much of anything. 😦

I’ve been working on all the usual stuff around here. Still looking for work. Spending hours filling out online applications for any offshore job I happen to see posted. I’ve been talking to one company for a couple of weeks now, but they don’t seem to have any idea of when they might (or might not) need me. It’s very frustrating, but at least they’re still talking to me. That’s more than I’ve had in over 18 months now!

We finished up working on one apartment and got it ready to rent. I thought we had it rented before we even finished working on it, but that fell through. I think it will go pretty quick (I hope so). I’m still waiting for the roofers to fix a leak and the levelers to honor their warranty (good luck!!).

I have one more apartment over there that needs work, but I need to wait til the rents start coming in before I can afford to start on it. It doesn’t look like it needs as much work as the last one, but I never know what I’ll find once I get started. 😦

I had some good friends come down and visit. We pigged out at the Chinese buffet and had a good time catching up on everything.

Other than that, I finished 2 paintings in class on Tuesday. I took them both to Hobby Lobby to get them framed. One of them was finished in time for me to enter it in the People’s Choice show (I’m always amazed at how many really talented people we have around here in this area). The other won’t be ready for at least another week. I think they both turned out OK, but especially with the lighthouse, not really what I was trying to do with them.

I wasn’t quite finished with the lighthouse when I took this photo. I’ll get another when I get it back with the frame.

I went to my usual political meeting Tuesday night. We’ve decided to re-start our project to get the BWA to remove the fluoride from our drinking water. It really doesn’t do anything for your teeth by drinking it. It only helps if you apply it topically (like with toothpaste). It’s really not at all good for you. Yeah, I know, most people will read that and think I’m just another tin foil conspiracy theorist. I think there’s more than enough evidence to show it’s not really necessary for good teeth (or any other reason).

So, I spent some time researching that. I also got a writing assignment for Great Escape Publishing. Whoo-whoo! Another byline!! I really need to find the time to query more publications. But that takes a HUGE amount of time! I was very hopeful when I applied to Big Grey Horse when they said they were looking for Texas writers. I think they would’ve contacted me by now if they were interested. 😦

I’ve been working on my yard the last few days. In between the rain. I’ve got the front yard about 25% finished now. It makes a big difference when I pull all the clematis vines off and put a little mulch out. All my citrus trees are starting to bloom. The grape vines are starting to leaf out. The strawberries are coming back!

Today I took a break and went to the movies. I go to the matinee when it’s cheaper. I wasn’t sure what to watch, either Logan or Get Out. I decided to watch Logan. It was pretty good. One of the X-Men movies. A pretty good action movie featuring Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine fighting the forces of evil in the shape of another mutant (Boyd Holbrook as Pierce).

I don’t want to spoil it, since it really was pretty good, but it’s not all blood and guts. There was actually a pretty good story. I’m sure there will be more sequels down the road. 🙂

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year around here. St Patrick’s Day Parade at Surfside Beach! I have to get up early so I can get down to the beach in time to check everything out before the judging. Take a look here. Once the parade starts, I’m done with that! Time to wander off to the various parties. 😉

I hope the weather cooperates. It’s calling for 90% chance of rain tomorrow. 😦

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year everybody! Here’s to hoping 2017 turns out better than 2016. I’m sure glad to be looking at that one in the rear view mirror. Whew, what a hell of a year!

Will start out tomorrow with the traditional black-eyed peas, cabbage, corn bread and sausage with friends. No, I’m not going out to celebrate anywhere tonight. Did better than I did last year and at least managing to stay up til midnight tonight. Only a few minutes away.

What are you all doing to celebrate? Parties? Fireworks? New Years resolutions?

Whatever you’re up to, I hope you have a great time tonight and a great year coming up! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

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Just wanted to be sure and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. 🙂

No, I’m not a Christian, but even atheists like to get together with friends, family, and have a good time. 😉

Pirates Christmas

Getting into the Christmas spirit around here. It’s Christmas Eve already- wow! Here’s a fun little video by Tom Mason & the Blue Buccaneers. It’s another Song of the Sea too. 😉

Yo Ho Ho (Pirates Christmas)

‘Twas the night before Christmas

And out on the sea…
Continue reading

Maritime Monday for December 19th 2016: Minced Oath

Another week’s gone by already. I’ve hardly noticed. It seems I can keep busy doing absolutely nothing useful. 😉

I did try to keep up with my emails through the week, if I don’t I just have to delete them all, they just get overwhelming. I always enjoy reading the Maritime Monday emails I get from gCaptain.

This week, there’s some interesting stuff about Christmas (of course) and maritime history. I really liked the cool wrapping paper!

Royal Navy pilot Jock Moffat – credited with launching the torpedo which crippled the Bismarck in …

Source: Maritime Monday for December 19th, 2016: Minced Oath – gCaptain

Calaveras- Dia de Los

In between trading out my photos and paintings at the Brazosport Art League gallery and hanging out at my booth at the Sunset Sip in Freeport Saturday night, I went to the photo shoot with the Brazoria County Models and Photographers.

It was a lot of fun. I loved the makeup and the whole idea. We were at the cemetery, which was a perfect backdrop for the models with their ‘calavera‘ makeup. We got started a little late, after 4 pm, but the light was perfect- even with so many shady trees.

I hated to leave so early, but I needed to get over to Freeport for the Sunset Sip. It was my first time to do a show like that and I didn’t want to be late (I was a few minutes late anyway). I wish I could have stayed longer. I missed out on quite a few of the models.

Here are a few examples of what we were up to.

I really hope they do another one like this. It was fantastic and I did get some beautiful shots. Thanks to the organizers and all the models and make-up artists! 🙂

Oilpro Halloween Photo Challenge

I just entered the Oilpro Halloween Photo Contest. It’s supposed to be for work, but since I’ve been laid off for a year now, I couldn’t post any photos of scary co-workers or office decorations.

I did the next best thing. I posted a couple of photos I took at the National Museum of Funeral History last week. They had a pretty cool Haunted House.

Check it out.

http://oilpro.com/gallery/1808/23697/scary-pirate

Any of my offshore peeps, feel free to join in here.

Halloween Villain Video Conference

I love scary movies! And not just for Halloween. I really liked this little video. Can’t you just imagine this happening? Enjoy. 🙂

Mermaid Parade

This sounds like my kind of thing! I always wanted to be a mermaid. Or a dolphin. 😉

Don’t forget, today is World Oceans Day. 🙂

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Sorry I won’t be able to attend the parade (this year). I only just found out about it. I don’t remember this from when I was spending time up in that neck of the woods. I guess they hadn’t started it yet. If you’re going to be anywhere around NYC, you should plan a trip out to Coney Island. The 34th Annual Mermaid Parade is on for June 18th. It looks like a blast!

Anybody going?

Info on The 34th Annual Mermaid Parade, June 18, 2016, 1pm, including Registration, FAQ, Judgeship, Sponsorship Opportunities and Parade Route!

Source: The Mermaid Parade | Coney Island USA

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