Damn you Mercury Retrograde!
Mercury retrograde, when the planet of communication reverses course, can cause disruptions to communications of all kinds. This includes verbal or written communications- e-mail, snail mail, phones, computers, etc… Sometimes it’s effects are minor, other times catostrophic. This one, which officially started October 13th, has been a doozy for me!
We were set to get our boat Friday morning at 11 a.m. Zeke woke up early, more excited than a kid on Christmas morning. In truth, the excitement was mixed with some degree of anxiety. Zeke’s last experience captaining a boat had been in the ’80’s, when the extent of his boating prowess involved taking his Dad’s boat (The Tenacious) to and from Sundays on the Bay. And he always had problems docking.
I grew up in Gables by The Sea, on a canal and my Dad had a boat from the time we moved there in 1967. I never had any interest in driving the boat- was either water skiing behind it or, in the cabin sleeping or reading. I do have fond memories of going to gas up the boat with my Dad at Matheson Hammock and never felt as free as when I was standing on the deck, flying through the water with the wind in my hair. Still, at this point, I wished I ‘d paid more attention to operating the boat, instead of just being a passenger.
As we drove down to the Keys, something happened with my cell phone, where I wasn’t able to send or receive phone calls when out of range of the house. Nevermind, we were getting our boat!
You’re finally living up to your bumper sticker.I said to Zeke on the ride down.
I’d gotten him a “Salt Life” bumper sticker that he put on his car; the girls had given him s**t about. Now, we were about to fufill our dream of actually becoming Salt Life people and we couldn’t wait!
Around 11, Nick from Unique Marine arrived.
“There’s our boat!” Zeke said, seeing it being pulled in on the trailer to the launching dock, from our unit.
He hurried down to the dock as I scurried to put together a boat bag with sunscreen, a hat, drinks and lip balm. I videoed our boat being splashed for the first time and my childhood friend, Mike Brill, who’d helped us get the boat at Unique Marine, joined us on our maiden voyage.
“Never go faster than you want to hit something,” was Nick’s first piece of advice.
Mike, who used to be an actual ship captain for a cruise line, talked about the pivot point of the boat and how it changes when you reverse the boat. I feverishly made notes in my little notebook as Nick went through all the features of the boat and we practiced anchoring. Zeke was nervous about docking, but when he brought us into the Sanctuary dock, he did just fine. He did have two guys there giving him advice on how to do it- “Use your outside engines.”
We dropped Nick off and went out with Mike to get some more sea time and go to lunch at the O.V. On the way back, Zeke drove and Mike and I talked about my Dad and growing up in Gables by the Sea, where he was our next door neighbor and would just walk in our front door without knocking, like one of us Rice kids. He told me about how my Dad came to visit him when he was captaining a cruise ship in the islands; my Dad Butch and his Dad Larry went on the cruise, with Mike as Captain, for a week. My Dad had just gotten diagnosed with lung cancer and he’d gotten his ear pierced, as a big FU to cancer.
“After all the shit he gave me for getting my ear pierced in High School!” Mike lamented.
He showed me a photo of my Dad from that trip- he was wearing a t-shirt, knotted in the front, exposing a beer belly, with his ear sporting a gold hoop and a shit-eating grin on his face, looking like some kind of deranged pirate.
The next day, Zeke and I took the boat out ourselves. We drove to his friend Doug’s house, anxious to show off our new baby. Doug, however, was watching “Game Day” on TV, so we made the trip to John and Kelley’s home at Venetian Shores. It’s not that easy finding things from the water, as it is from the land. There are no Mile Markers and everything looks different from that perspective. We did find their house, however, and docked but no one was home. Disappointed that there was no one around to see our new boat, we went to lunch at Bayside Grille, near our condo. I cheered myself up with a “Lime in the Coconut” rum drink and a tuna tower appetizer.
Zeke did a good job docking, this time alone. According to Todd at Unique Marine, the only time you need to look good on a boat is leaving the dock and arriving at the dock. Emma must have heard this bit of info, as she showed up for her boat ride the next day in Leopard Shorts, a fancy black top, a little strappy purse and mirrored Aviator sunglasses. We took her and Gui out on the boat to go get some lunch. While I’d been Zeke’s first mate, keeping an eye on the depth finder the past two days, on this day, I was upfront talking to Emma and Guillermo.
We went into a waterway off the intercoastal and some guy in a flats boat gave Zeke a “What in the hell are you doing?” arm gesture. As I looked behind us, we were churning up mud.
“Zeke! We’re in shallow water!”I said.
He stopped the boat, which immediately caused us to sink further into the mud. When we started up again, there was an awful sound of metal on rock. We finally got out of there, when the Coast Guard, and its orange and white boat appeared, aiming right for us. Did we do irrepairable damage to a protected Coral Reef? Were we in trouble? Were we going to be arrested and thrown into the Coast Guard pokey? I was worried.
“Have you ever been boarded by the Coast Guard?” the young, cute Coast Guard officer asked.
“No, this is a brand new boat,” Zeke said.
“It looks brand new,” one of the six guys on the Coast Guard boat said. None of them had masks on. The guy explained this was a routine stop.
“Before I board, do you have any weapons on board?” the main guy asked.
“No,” I said.
“Yes,” Zeke said.
He asked the question again, with the same response from both of us. I was beginning to wonder what weapons Zeke had that I didn’t know about, but Zeke thought he’d said fenders– the rubber things to buffer the boat.
“No, I don’t have any weapons. Do you think I have a bunch of guns on the boat?” Zeke asked, thinking he was making a joke. Which I’m pretty sure the Coast Guard didn’t find amusing, kind of like saying “bomb” at the airport. But the guy was nice about it and two of them boarded.
We had all our safety equipment, but not our registration, which we’d left with the mound of paperwork in the condo. We got a warning, which the guy said meant nothing, and we’re good for six months.
“Did you notice all those guys were my age?” Emma asked, after they left. “I feel like we just got pulled over by a Fraternity Party.”
Lunch at Lorelei was good, docking a little trickier, as we had to reverse out of the narrow canal. That was Sunday and Emma and Guillermo left for Miami. As we pulled the boat out of the water and onto the trailer, I could see the skeg was pretty chewed up from our encounter with shallow water and the bottom. Luckily, the prop was unharmed. We were both tired, so spent the night in the Keys. I made ravioli with an arugula salad and garlic bread and was asleep by 9:30.
Back at home, our Miami Herald had stopped coming. The subscription had expired, but I still could read the New York Times on my phone, so felt I could at least keep up with current events. Monday morning I was at Pinecrest Gardens, handing out boxes for our Garden Club’s succulent Zoom workshop on Tuesday, which my daughter A.J. conducted. Kelley looked at my phone and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Neither could Emma and they are my technology whizzes, so I figured it must be something really bad.
I finally broke down and took it to AT&T on Thursday, after a fun tennis match. After checking everything out, updating my settings and replacing my Sim card (and two hours later) the affable guy at AT&T told me it still didn’t work. He said it might be that my antenna was broken, since it couldn’t get any signal. I didn’t even know cell phones had an antenna- it must be very small! I imagined this miniature antenna, like the pistol of a tiny flower, slumped over and dead inside my phone, unable to send or receive signals. I called Apple and they set me up with an appointment for Saturday morning.
I decided to spend the night in Miami Friday, since I had the appointment Saturday morning. Zeke went down to the Keys without me. In the meantime, my phone now wasn’t getting any reception- no texts, news or updates- so I felt really incommunicado. Then, just as I was getting ready to make dinner, a violent storm came through our neighborhood, knocking out the power. Before, I’d figured even if I didn’t have my phone or the paper to get the news, I at least had the computer, but now the internet was out as well. No T.V., not even our land line (yes I still have one!) worked, so I couldn’t call Zeke and tell him what happened. Alone and in the dark, I ate my cold spaghetti squash noodles with pork in peanut sauce dinner, by candlelight.
The Apple store in Dadeland opened last Thursday, but there was still a line and Security people directing traffic. When I finally got up to the window (the rest of the store has been blocked off) the woman took my phone, ran tests and declared it D.O.A. Luckily, it was under warranty, so I got a brand new phone.
“What was wrong with it?” I asked.
“We may never know,” the Apple girl answered.
What was my week of being utterly out of touch trying to tell me? Maybe a message from my Dad, whose motto was “Shit Happens”, to get off the phone and onto the boat? A May Day from the Great Beyond to stop Doomscrolling and letting these constant political shenanigans and dire predictions by both sides, drive me crazy? A celestial S.O.S. to stay in the moment and enjoy life to the fullest? I may never know, as well.
Unfortunately, Mercury Retrograde lasts through election season (early voting and vote by mail) and the Presidential Election on November 3rd. This probably means the winner won’t be decided right away (something we kinda already figured). The last time Mercury was retrograde during an election was the Bush-Gore fiasco of 2000. Oy vey!
On Monday, I made a Moroccan Butternut Squash soup with Garbanzo beans, which sounded good but was just ok. Tuesday I made Trader Joe’s Butternut Squash Pasta (I’m on a butternut squash kick) with their Autumnal Harvest Sauce into a Baked Pasta dish with Mozzarella on top. Not really successful, a little dry and not enough flavor. The pumpkin shaped pasta fell apart upon boiling, so they looked like deflated pumpkins, the Harvest Sauce tasted more tomatoey than pumpkiny. Not a repeat.
The meal of the week was definitely Wednesday night’s Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde (Food Network Recipe). Pork tenderloin is pork tenderloin, but the sauce took it to a new level and luckily, I had most of the herbs in my garden. I used the leftovers in scrambled eggs and they would also be excellent on roasted chicken or fish. The recipe suggests serving it with crusty bread, but I served it with carrots and an asparagus, mushroom salad with roasted red pepper. Quite delicious!
Here’s the recipe:
Pork Tenderloin with Salsa Verde Food Network Recipe
- One 1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
- kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
- 3 shallots, slices
- 2 garlic cloves
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle the pork generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat until very hot and then add the tenderloin. Cook the pork, flipping occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the pork until just cooked through, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 150 degrees, about 15 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.
- While the pork roasts, put the parsley, cilantro, vinegar, chives, tarragon, shallots and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the herbs are minced. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 2/3 cup oil with the motor running until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slice the pork tenderloin and spoon the salsa verde over top. Serve with crusty bread for soaking up all the juices.
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