“Spring has returned. The Earth is like a child that knows poems.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke



“Keep growing, silently and earnestly . . .”

“Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Well, we achieved a major victory of sorts yesterday: We sat down to Easter dinner at our dining room table, completely free of clutter, all of the chairs put together. It was an Herculean effort on Corey’s part to get it all done, but it was completely worth it.

Alexis came over, but her boyfriend Mike had to go back to work and was unable to join us. So it was Corey, Eamonn, Brett, plus our pseudo-adopted son Josh, Alexis and me. The only thing that I regret is that we couldn’t use the fine china and silver as that is packed up pending the completion of the renovations.

My China Pattern: White Nile by Royal Doulton

I was trying to remember the last time that we had done that in our home, and Alexis said never, which is not quite true. The Thanksgiving that my dad died, I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, and we set up two folding card tables in the living room and covered them with table cloths. That was 2001.

Our usual eating routine is probably that of many families. Everyone takes their plates to their rooms, and eats while doing whatever it is they happen to be doing. Usually, I’m in the middle of writing my post, so I stop temporarily, and turn on MSNBC while I eat.

I like the table idea much better and am going to try to promote it for regular meals, not just special meals. I think that eating together helps to keep a family closer, and I have really missed it.

We eat together when we go to my Mom’s house or my other mother-in-law’s house, and that is always nice, but a little stressful, just because my Mom tends to heighten my stress level without really trying. It’s just my innate response to my mother. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother, but she isn’t the most tactful person in the world.

But I realize that I need to be patient with her because I truly wouldn’t know what to do if she were gone. Your mom is your mom, right or wrong.

But I digress . . .

The front part of the house is gradually getting rid of clutter, which is wonderful for me as I tend to trip over things and then hurt my back. But now that the table is up, I would really like to paint the living room and dining room and put up the crown molding, but that will have to wait until Corey goes back to work.

“We see the brightness of a new page where everything yet can happen.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Speaking of which, keep a good thought on Thursday. Corey is going to an open house at a shipping company that is looking specifically for mates and captains. He has a good feeling about this one, so I’m really, really hoping that this pans out.

In the meantime, he has applied through some program in Hampton Roads that helps unemployed people to get training that will help them to get jobs. Of course, the Virginia Employment Commission did not tell Corey about this program. One of the people at the school where he was registered told him about it so that he could take his courses.

Needless to say, if we had known about this program months ago, Corey could have taken the courses that he needed before now; however, I am not going to look a gift horse in the mouth (what an odd saying), no matter how frustrating it may be to know that all of this might have happened sooner.

twic_card_technologyWe have to wait for the paperwork to be processed, but his chances of getting this funding are pretty good because the training that he is applying for is directly related to his field and would definitely help him to get a job.

Then there is the new card that he has to have by April 15. It’s some kind of TransportationWorker’s ID that merchant marines must have, probably has to do with Homeland Security or something like that. This new card costs $175. Such a ripoff. But at least we don’t have to travel to Maryland to obtain it at the Coast Guard processing center.

Our last trip to Maryland was too eventful, and I would like to avoid a repeat of that experience.

“Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke 

Alexis started a new job last Monday witha shipping company. She isn’t doing what she did with the last shipping company. Right now she is working in customer service; however, she has a good chance of moving into the department that processes the documents associated with receivables and deliverables, which is what she was doing at the other shipping company before they went out of business.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out okay for her. Fortunately, two of her former co-workers from the other company are working at this company, which should help her chances of obtaining a permanent position doing what she did before.

I know that she is happy about the change, as am I. She is very bright, and I would hate for her talents to be wasted. However, I truly believe in her and know that she will succeed in whatever she attempts to do.

swallowEamonn got his second tattoo. Not the angel wings that he wants, and not the Latin phrase. He got my father’s name tattoed above his heart: Exequiel, which is another form of Ezekiel, but is pronounced Ex-ee-kell, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Eamonn wants to get a swallow to go with it, since my father spent so much time at sea (swallows are a common tattoo for seamen who have crossed the equator).

I did not suggest this tattoo. It was completely Eamonn’s idea. I have to say, though, that it really impresses me that he did this. All of my children were very close to their PaPa and I know that they still miss him. So Eamonn’s tribute really touches my heart. Deep down, below that 18-year-old smart aleck demeanor, is a very loving, caring person.

Brett is going to be spending spring break learning more about Nikita Khrushchev and catching up on his math. I know that he is absolutely thrilled.

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

"Lovely Vase and Cup of Tea," by Jamie Paterno

I realize that I’ve been going on about nothing terribly significant, but sometimes, that’s where writing takes you: on a winding path that doesn’t really go anywhere. But on days like these, I like to take the advice of one of my favorite writers: 20th century poet Rainer Maria Rilke, whose poetry and prose was filled with metaphors, symbolism, and contradictions. I’ll close with this wonderful passage from Rilke’s “Letter to a Young Poet”: 

There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: Ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: Must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.

Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don’t write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: They are the hardest to work with, and it takes great, fully-ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty—describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity, and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember.

I’m off to drink a cuppa tea. More later. Peace.



Captain Corey
Captain Corey

After being home with me for many long months, my husband is about to go back to work again. We are both conflicted about this change. I know that it is well past time. He has been increasingly antsy and impatient, and we have been sniping at each other over insignificant things since I finished school. It’s not that we don’t enjoy each others company, but he had a mission before when he was out of work: to help me get through school, and that mission has been accomplished. And he has accomplished his own mission–to finish the training that he needed to upgrade his license so that he could get back on a boat. So we both know that it is time. But after being together daily for such a long period, it is going to be quite an adjustment for the whole family.

I used to say that the only reason that my parents stayed married for so long was because my father spent so much time at sea and so little time on dry land. He was in the Navy for 20 years. He retired and tried to work at a job on dry land and hated it, so he joined the merchant marines. He sailed all over the world; his boat was even hit during the Viet Nam war. He worked on big boats until he was 67. He tried to retire when he was 62, but he just couldn’t do it. Not working drove him crazy, so he went back to work for another five years. He finally retired at 67 and spent the last six years of his life fishing and gardening, and he and my mom spent that five years in an uneasy kind of detente. It worked for most of the time, but then there would be flair ups, and I would be the U.N. It was like that for most of my life, but by that point, I had gotten really good at it. But my father was never comfortable anywhere except at sea. Anyone who really knew him, understood that about him.

I wouldn’t say that about Corey. He doesn’t sail on the big boats for months at a time. He is on near coastal tug boats for weeks at a time. That I can handle. I can understand the call of the sea myself. I am comfortable on the water. I love driving over bridges and looking out over the water when Corey is out and imagining where he is at that moment. The sea is alluring and hypnotic. I even toyed with the idea of buying a boat and living on it when I was in college–a Tartan 27′. To this day, I still wish that I had done it, but the more practical side of me won out. But that is why I understand why Corey likes his time on the water and enjoys his job, and I don’t begrudge him that time. I do worry because it isn’t a typical 9 to 5 job in any sense of the word. But I know that’s part of the appeal for him. And so I know that he needs to go back to his boats for himself just as much as he needs to go back to work for the family.

Which brings me to another point. My sons love Corey intensely. He has been there for them since they were in grade school. My older son in particular relates to his step-father very well, and he is at an age at which he would rather go to Corey than me when he has a problem because, well, I am female, and therefore, I supposedly do not know anything about his problems. I understand my son’s reluctance and am glad that he feels this closeness with my husband, his step-dad. It was one of the things that endeared me so much to Corey, how well my children adopted him. That was a prerequisite for my bringing someone into our family in the first place. But it was my oldest son’s easy love for Corey that showed me what kind of man he really was.

The separation from their father was very hard on all of us, and I did not date anyone seriously before Corey. In fact, I only went on a few dates as I really was not looking for nor expecting anything, so my connection with Corey was unexpected and surprising, mostly because of the difference in our ages. I deliberately did not introduce him to my children for a while as I did not know where things were going, but once I did let him get to know my kids, they began to open their hearts to him after their initial trepidation, and he did the same. I won’t try to tell you that the road has not had its bumps and curves because of course, it has. But he has learned from them, and they from him. So when he first started to go to sea, it was an adjustment for all of us, and they would count the days just as I did.

Now that he is going back, part of my anxiety is how Eamonn will act with Corey not at home. I am hoping for the best, but not expecting it. But I will try not to be a pessimist and give Eamonn the benefit of the doubt, so I must wait and see how things play out. Things will be new for all of us. Corey will be with a new company. I will be taking care of my own health problems and the house and the boys. The boys will be handling things with just me, just mom as mediator. And for a few weeks at a time, it will just be the boys, the dogs, and me. I’m sure we’ll be fine, and if not, I’m sure you’ll hear about it . . .