New Blog, New Sunday, Swabbing the Deck

Okay, I’m back. I stopped blogging for awhile because I knew I was going to move the blog to my own website. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to figure out how to move the whole thing properly, and indeed, I did end up moving them one by one (twice…don’t ask).

Anyway, the problem is that the comments didn’t come over with them. Sorry, My Faithful Readers, but I just couldn’t get the upload thing to work.

It’s a new day, a new blog, a new season with the Little Water Buggy.

I took the cover off a few weeks ago and it immediately started raining. Go figure. I’m supposed to sand the seat bases and paint them. Yesterday I swabbed the deck…really!!! Hah. Gotta love where life takes you.

Anyway, the deck is all dirty even after I mopped it. I’m going to have to buy something tougher than what I use on my kitchen floor, or I’ll have to get on my hands and knees…yeah, right, that’s gonna happen.

Any suggestions from the boaters among you?

I want to put another coat of paint on the deck in addition to painting the bases for the seats so I can get this buggy in the water. Still need to get new gas. That’s today’s project.

They weren’t joking when they said this thing would be time consuming, the one thing I don’t have: time. Okay, well, money either, or …. forget it.

Anyway, I’m getting on that today. Hopefully will have it all ready to go by the end of the week

So, hopefully, I’ll have more stories for you soon.

Should be just as embarrassing as last year. How do I know? I got a little utility trailer…geesh. You should’ve seen how hard it was backing it into the driveway.

I never did do the blog on backing into the driveway, did I? I will, I will. It’s CLEAR THE ROAD, HERE COMES CAPTAIN BETH WITH THE BOAT. All my neighbors have to move their cars off the road, the sidewalk…anyplace that is near the road. Don’t have a clue what I’d do if there’s a parked car without a driver handy to move it. I guess it’ll happen eventually, and I’ll be sure to tell you about it.

Meanwhile, in the off-season, I started a Day Tripping Series in the paper ( I’m going to showcase all the great places we can go to and enjoy for one day. No packing, no hotel costs, just up and go for the day, have a mini-vacation, and back in your own bed at night. I already went to Martha’s Vineyard (see 5/16/13 issue on our archives page), and Nantucket will be in this week’s issue (6/27). Longer stories with more pictures will be available on Nook and Kindle for 99 cents; visit for links.

Here’s a quick taste of what I saw on Nantucket. Of course, I took five pictures of these two that I saw across the street from the Madaket Bike Trail, only one wasn’t blurry.

Ah well.

DSC_9563 DSC_9564

So be sure to get this week’s issue. We’ll be taking our two-week break after the 27th, but hopefully I’ll be blogging about my vacation adventures and ranting on politics every now and then. I’ll still be taking day trips for the series, so we’ll be able to run a few when we return on 7/18.

Until next time, then..

See Ya,


Happy Epiphany

First posted on 1/6/13

Midnight just passed, and so it is now January 6, the Feast of Epiphany. I just left the Epiphany party at my cousin’s house, opting to be home for midnight.

In my Lebanese community, we have always celebrated Epiphany in a big way, calling it “little Christmas.” It was on this 12th day after Christmas that the magi, the wise men, got there. Epiphany is also, apparently, a celebration of Christ’s baptism, but I don’t remember hearing about that growing up. I only remember hearing about the magi.

My aunt, Terry Coury, held the Epiphany eve party back in the day. The Courys owned the big yellow house on the corner of Willis and County Streets in New Bedford. This was back in the late 1970s, and probably into the 80s. Their party was huge, legendary, filled with life and dancing, singing, drinking and merrymaking to the ultimate degree. The house rained food and drink, and they always had a 30-foot Christmas tree in the large foyer.

Everyone went to the party. All my aunts, uncles, cousins, sort-of-cousins, extended relatives, politicians (my Uncle Ed Coury was a state rep), movers and shakers in New Bedford, and all the people they decided to invite along showed up for food and drink that never ran out and entertainment that came from the guests.

After they moved, the party moved to my Aunt Norma’s. That was always lots of fun, too, but smaller, because she has a normal house, not a 30-room mansion.

Now, my cousin hosts the big event, but not always on the 5th. He usually works it out for the weekend. This year, we got the 5th on a Saturday, hence, a full house.

It’s always so much fun to hang with my cousins. And now their children are getting older, driving themselves to the party. The next generation is going to be every bit as entertaining as the one before it.

We are the story of immigrants from a small village in Lebanon. The couple that started this crew arrived in New Bedford in 1914. They had 13 children, two died as infants; the remaining 11 daughters went on to have 32 children, only 8 of whom are male — my cousins, the grandchildren. The grandchildren are now becoming grandparents, with a whole new crop of infants and toddlers crawling around at our family parties, the third generation born in this country.

I dare say our grandparents would be bursting with pride. We’re a fun group, every single one of us sharing in the promise and possibilities of this great country. I often thank my grandparents for leaving when they did.

Epiphany is a time to think about the next year. It is the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the new year. We make fried dough, big batches of it for eating, and small crosses for placing in the refrigerator and maybe over the front door. Definitely in the refrigerator, where the food is. The tradition is to make the big batches of food, especially the dough, so that the home and those in it will have plenty in the year to come. The Arabic expression, “dayem dayem,” that we say to each other at midnight means (loosely translated), as you are now, so shall you be. As you can imagine, couples made sure to be cuddling closely at midnight; and those who were making love to the toilet instead of each other got a lot of ribbing for the next few weeks.  So, I opt to be home at midnight now, although, when I was younger, I was sure to be partying at midnight.

Since I’ve owned my house, it has been nothing short of an adventure to make that monthly mortgage payment; so now I am home at midnight on Little Christmas, with the hope that for the next year, I will still be here, in my little converted camp on my little patch of paradise, with plenty of food in the fridge, my little woodstove burning, and my fingers clicking away at the keyboard.

Dayem dayem, Everyone.


Between Christmas and New Year’s

First posted on 12/31/12

Happy New Year’s Eve Day!

We had our first real snow on West Island yesterday. I waited until the afternoon to shovel and clean off the car…big mistake. It was icy and hard as rock by the time I got out there. The good part about its being so hard is that it’s still pretty out there, not slushy and muddy. The bad part is that it’s so hard to do clean-up. I hope it warms up enough to clear it all out so next time I’ll be smarter about it.

I hate it when the old snow is hard as cement under the new snow, it creates a nightmare for shoveling. Been there a few times, a few years, not looking forward to it again.

Guess I was just playing “on vacation.” I don’t usually get to sleep half the day away, putter around the house, and not do anything. Not for long, though. Tomorrow I cover the Polar Plunge at Fort Pheonix in Fairhaven (10 a.m. sharp), and then it’s back to the grind getting next week’s issue ready.

I hope you all had a great Christmas, or other holiday if you celebrate something else. I also hope you were able to be around young children. I feel so blessed to have spent some time with a bunch of young cousins of all ages, from newborn to college aged.

One of my cousins, who has four children from 1 year to 10 years, moved into a new apartment just a few days before Christmas. What fun to be part of that chaos!

A bunch of my other cousins showed up at my sister’s on Christmas Eve for a very short, but very intense party: kids back from college, the working young’uns off for the holiday, the rest of us just having a blast (that’s a 70s word for a really good time). All in all, it was a great Christmas, hope you can all say the same.

Now, it’s onto the new year. I hope 2013 is prosperous and fun for all my readers.

Stay positive, people, there are enough grouches out there.

I start the new year without the big fir tree that has been in my front yard since I moved here 18 years ago. We had to take it down in September. It was pretty much dead and a danger to the house and other trees. What a shock it was when it was gone. Wow. So much light. So foreign.

Some people tell me it looks better, the yard is bigger, and we all have more light. I don’t know. I’ve decided to go through one whole year, four seasons, before deciding if I should replace it. It provided a lot of privacy, and it was where my fairies stay when they visit. I felt terrible destroying their little inn, but I had no choice. The gnome trees are still intact, though, and look pretty healthy.

The fir tree was pretty old, although we didn’t count rings….hmm….the trunk it still out there. Now, if I were a really GOOD writer, I’d run out there, scrape off the snow and count rings. But, it’s too cold out there. I’ll wait for the thaw.

The tree was old when I moved here, I’ve been here for 18 years, and it took about 20 minutes to take it down. Twenty minutes to destroy years and years of growth.

Before and after pics…



Big difference, huh? Still not sure I like it. Have to decide what to put there, though. I can see right inside Isobel’s house now! And when Gail’s mother was hanging out on the porch yelling into her cellphone at 6 a.m., I could hear every word. I even went flying out the door to see what the problem was. Never heard her when the tree was there. Ah well.

Also said “good-bye” to Dusty, the old CB350 I had. He served me well. We (my sister and I) got him when my cousin’s husband died in the 90s. The bike had been sitting in the basement collecting dust for about 8 years, my cousin told us (hence the name). And it didn’t have a mark on it, except that one little dent “that you put on it, Beth,” she told me.

“In 1978?” I responded with surprise.



Here’s a picture of old Dusty, leaving my house for the last time.


The 1971 Honda CB350 was a toy for Jess, my cousin’s husband. We’re not sure, but we think he got it new and we think he got it just so he could take it apart to see how it worked. Those Hondas were very cheap in the day.

So, when I visited them on Bainbridge Island (which isn’t really an island) in Washington state in 1978, Jess let me ride it. It was before the casino on the island. It was sparsely populated, very rural, and everyone knew everyone. I didn’t have a motorcycle license, but Jess just balked at that.

So, I took the bike out for a bit, reveling it every second. What a feeling! I didn’t have a bike back home, but I had ridden dirt bikes before.

I pulled away from their house, accelerated up the road a piece, took a right, up a hill, to a very quiet intersection. I slowed a bit too much on the turn, and…yup, you guessed it. I dropped the bike. I was a skinny little thing back then, about 100 lbs (don’t ask how much I weigh now). I was only 21, no need to work out or anything. Just a skinny kid. I watched that bike go down, ever-so-slowly, not able to stop it. It was just too heavy.

Shoot…now what?

No cell phones in 1978.

Not a human in sight on Bainbridge Island in 1978 in the middle of the morning.

Not a house in sight.

Can’t walk back, too far.

Will just have to pick that sucker up.

Somehow, I managed it. Got back to the house and there was Jess, with a pile of cigarette butts at his feet on the side of the road where he watched for me.

He said he was trying to decide if he should go look for me, but was more afraid we’d miss each other. Then he was trying to figure out how to tell his wife that he lost her cousin.

When we got custody of Dusty in the 90s, he went to my sister first. Then she upgraded and I got him. I only sold him recently to someone who is going to try to restore him. I hope so. He was a great little bike and I had a lot of fun with him. I only took him off the road a few years ago.

So, I start 2013 with a new motorcycle, a boat, and a few new pounds.

I still have some stories to tell about my first season with the boat, though, so stay tuned. Oh yeah, and the Coast Guard Auxiliary boating safety course. Now I know why they laughed so much at my boat posts.

Until next time, then…

Happy New Year to you and yours!




Sandy Hook and the Loss of Possibilities

First posted on 12/19/12

I have a cousin who lives in Connecticut. She and her husband run a gourmet food shop on the coast. I emailed her after the tragedy in Sandy Hook, saying I knew it wasn’t that close to her, but that if something like that happened anywhere in Mass., I’d think of it as very close to home. She told me that it was quiet, very quiet in her shop and around town.

The quiet is very telling, isn’t it? It’s a way of sharing in it. It’s a way of showing we are all affected by it.

I couldn’t be quiet for too long, though. I spent some time with my cousins and their kids, altogether seven children under the age of 11. There’s no such thing as quiet with that crew.

But the adults knew. We said not a word, lest the older ones hear. But they knew, too. It’s the quiet that binds us.

I wish the know-it-all, so-called pundits would just shut up and be quiet, too.

I don’t want to hear about gun control.

I don’t care what his diagnosis was.

I don’t care if you think she was a bad mom or a good mom or if they were divorced or rich, or if he was a skinny awkward kid. All of those things are true of millions of people and they don’t kill anyone.

Just tell me what happened. I want to know that. I want to know how the kids are. I want to know how their parents are. Some people say the constant coverage makes the murderer a hero and people will copy him. Really? Murder little children because you saw it on TV? Surely it takes more than that.

I want TV coverage, lots of it. This is how we share the experience in the modern age. It doesn’t take three days for the Pony Express to get the word to us. CNN does it instantly. I want that. I need that in a tragedy. I want to know that other people are asking the same questions I am. Just spare me the speculation about the workings of his inner mind. And especially stop talking about “indicators” or we’ll end up incarcerating every awkward teenager who doesn’t laugh on cue or cry hard enough.

There’s a piece making its way around the Internet: “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” by Liza Long, although that wasn’t the original title. I was mortified when I read it. She lumps her son in with mass murders because he has violent outbursts. People who like the piece say it’s about the failure of our mental health system.

One of my dearest friends and I have been going back and forth on email about the article. My friend insists the writer is brave and honest. I insist that her son will think his mother’s greatest expectation of him is that he will be a mass murderer. She says I’m blaming his mother. I say, she’s simply hurting his feelings. She could’ve left that paragraph out and still made her point.

I’m not saying this writer is wrong. Maybe there is no hope for her child. Maybe he is doomed to be a loser. But does he have to hear it from his mother? Pray tell, how does that help? Who does that help?

I know it’s compli­cated when a child has severe problems. I’m willing to admit that my thinking is simplistic. But lots of parents with children who have violent outbursts expect their children to live full, productive lives. They know how extra hard it will be, but they keep at it. They are not clueless and in denial. They are being advocates and insisting that their children have the chance to be all they can be, whatever that may look like in the end. They would never allow their children to think that being a mass murderer was in the mix with tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor. They look instead for the spark that will grow into a light that will lead the way to a happy life. And when they find that spark, they make sure their child can see it.

We all need to let our young people know that they have possi­bili­ties, because they do. They have all the possibility of America. Our politicians need to stop talking about our decline and how our kids will be miserable and hopelessly mired in debt.

If this man had seen possibilities in his future, would he have thrown it all away to become infamous? His fellow classmates say he was brilliant, maybe even a genius. Why didn’t he become a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates? That’s the possibility of America. Why didn’t he believe that he could be president? That’s the possibility of America. Why didn’t he get a great job in New York like so many of his neighbors? That’s the possibility of America.

If the corporate life didn’t appeal to him, why didn’t he start his own business. Pet rock anyone? This is America. Anything is possible. If the suburban colonials of his hometown didn’t appeal to him, why didn’t he understand that he could go anywhere in the 50 states by just…going? No papers, no passes, just a ride. So many possibilities awaited him, on the ocean, in the great big country out west, in the mountains, in the cities.

So many possibilities. All wasted. All gone.

Twenty small children killed. Six women killed. He killed his mother first. That surely will mean something to the shrinks. But what? And does it matter? Will it help prevent another young loser from doing the same thing?

Possibilities. They need to know that they have possibili­ties. No matter how screwed up they are, or how unintelligent the tests say they are, or how off-the-charts-brilliant they are, or how awkward they are, or how hard they find it to read, or how hard they find it to sit in one place, or how much they hate their lives, they need to know that there are possibilities for them.

We have to make those possibilities real for them. No more leaving people behind because they can’t do something just the “right” way. Everyone can make a contribution of some kind. Just ask anyone who works with the so-called disabled.

We all have possibilities.

It’s time we started pointing them out to those who think they have none, so they stop stealing the possibilities from innocent little kids whose possibilities were still as wide as the world itself, whose sparks had not yet even been defined.

What’s next, asked Dr. Baldwin (page 4). There is no next, he said. “I don’t know what can happen lower than this.”

Surely, we can map out greater expectations for our young people than aspiring to be the lowest of the low.

Little Water Buggy: Fishing on the Briny

First posted on 9/29/12

The gray-blue beast that is my Atlantic Ocean. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred to it as that, in my letters to the editor, in op-eds, in conversation. It’s funny that it never occurred to me to use that expression in the blog until my last post. Maybe I was just afraid to remind myself of what a beast the ocean can be. Rather strange. Rather Freudian. Dontchathink?

Anyway, I’m starting to lose track of the trips! That’s a good thing, I guess. It means I’m getting out there in the boat. I really should get on the stick (or keyboard), though, and start writing up each trip right away.

No matter. I’m thinking the world won’t come to an end if I mix up a loading-the-trailer episode with a backing-into-the-driveway episode.

Back to our series…

It’s “cavitation” not capitation! Thank you Andy J for letting me know that. Cavitation: 1. successive formation and collapse of bubbles in liquids by mechanical forces, as from a ship’s propeller. 2. a pocket formed by this action [from the Oxford American Dictionary].

Except…that sounds like what a propeller’s SUPPOSED to do, doesn’t it? Ah well. Onto the next adventure.

We went fishing! Tammy S and her friend Scott W brought all their fishing gear and know-how and we went fishing. They usually fish off the causeway or from shore somewhere and wanted to get out away from the land a bit. I wanted to catch fish…to eat them.

So, we made plans to get out there. They came by with all manner of poles and bait and gear and loaded up that little boat. Then we headed out the driveway.

I backed the trailer down without much drama and Scott helped me figure out how deep to go and all that. Scott’s a big guy, so he helped. Plus, he’s had boats before so he was able to combine know-how with strength. Again, getting it off the trailer wasn’t a big deal.

I was still pretty shaky on the motor, though. But, by that point, I had stopped trying to figure out how to back all the way to the dock and swing the back around and all that. I backed off the trailer a little way and then flipped the motor into forward and swung around back to the dock. There’s a pretty high rock just to the south of the ramp, but it’s got a bunch of seaweed on it, so even though it’s usually submerged, you can see it easily enough.

I swung around and we tied up. I moved the car and we were off.

Ever since I started hanging out at the landing with Jimmy and those guys, they told me the closest and best place to fish near Hoppy’s Landing. You want to know where it is, don’t you? Well, to be honest, I just typed up a description and then deleted it. It’s every fisher for himself (or herself) out there….the guys told me, but I’m quite sure they didn’t want me blabbing it all over the Internet. Come see me in person and I’ll tell you where it is.

Anyway, we anchored out there and started fishing for stripers and bluefish. Unfortunately, something kept stealing our bait. A good guess was scup. So we faced a choice: head out to deeper water and try catching the bigger fish, or switch bait and tackle to go for scup. I like scup just fine, so we switched.

In a matter of just a few minutes we had a keeper (at least 10.5″). I didn’t have anything to measure (oops), but Scott fishes all the time, so he just kind of measured it out by his hand.

Then he said….are you ready for this? Hold your breath…

“No blood, it can go back.”

Excuse me? Go back where?

In the water. We don’t keep them.

Say what? You don’t keep what?

The fish. We don’t keep the fish. We throw them back.

THROW THEM BACK? NOT FROM MY BOAT! I thought you said you had a cooler with ice and everything.

Yeah, for drinks. We have drinks in the cooler.

Don’t you dare throw that fish back. 

Okay [looking a little scared, all 312 pounds of him].

So, he grabbed the anchor bucket and filled it halfway with water and threw that baby in.

I fish to eat, not to play.

But play we did, too. We had a great spot. We caught 18 keepers and a bunch of smaller ones that we had to throw back.

While we were out there, I took a moment to look around and take in the scene as we sat anchored in one spot, fishing and just chatting a little. The ocean stretched out to the Elizabeth Islands, people were on the beaches, kids were jumping off the causeway (shhh…don’t tell the harbormaster), the hot sun shining from above, the cool ocean below. We were pretty close to shore. Honestly, if we sank, we’d probably only have to swim for a 100 feet before we would’ve been able to walk to shore. But we were still on the water, and it was a beautiful thing.

Until that idiot/moron/fool/jerk/bully/asshat of boater swamped us. We were not in the main thoroughfare (if there is one there), there was plenty of room off to the east for the big boat to head into Hoppy’s Landing without coming within 100 feet of us. And, there was NO reason for him to be going that fast, unless it was to knock us around on purpose. We could see him coming from a distance, but at his speed there was no way to pull the anchor so we could maneuver out of his way.

We watched him come, in 20 or 30 very long seconds. I put out may hands and said “what are you doing?” I couldn’t see the captain in his little cabin, but the other people on the boat, particularly one person on deck near the stern, looked right at me with a “what’s your problem” look. I was pretty damned mad.

They flew by us just a few feet away, and a huge wave from their wake dumped a bunch of water onto our bow. Scott, the big guy, was sitting there fishing and got soaked. Tammy and I were in the middle of the boat. That poor Little Water Buggy took a bit of a nose dive into that wave, but then to my relief, it popped back up. The water slid to the stern and we were okay. I was watching Scott and the water. By the time I looked up to catch the name of the boat, they were way too far away. I don’t know how fast they were going, but they kept up that speed. We kind of hoped they would get hung up on the sandbar for some kind of poetic justice, but they didn’t. They did send those bigger boats at Hoppy’s to straining against their mooring lines, though. The amount of water wasn’t as much as it had seemed when it came over the bow. It settled into the little well near the plug, but didn’t need to be bailed out.

I can’t even tell you how angry I was. Those little creeps on that boat never even looked back to see what their wake did to us.

On that same day, several other boats went right by us, all much bigger than us. Some had been tooling along at a speed, then slowed down when they saw us. Some had been just chugging out from shore anyway, and kept it slow until they passed us.

I learned in my USCG Auxiliary class that anchoring for fishing does not make us the stand-on vessel (the one that does not have to get out of the way). Really? Really? So, who makes up these rules? How the heck am I supposed to get out of the way if I’m anchored? On the other hand, all boaters are responsible for their wakes. Big deal, that’ll show HIM as we get tossed around and dumped.

So, what I’ve learned so far in class is that it’s all just….don’t hit each other and you’ll be fine. That’s okay, USCG Auxiliary. I knew that part.

I wish we had gotten the name of that boat. I’m not sure what I would’ve done with the information, but you can bet your last cent it would appear here in this blog.

But, alas, we didn’t.

We also didn’t sink. And that’s a good thing.

So, we kept fishing, and catching scup: 18 fish, 3 people, that’s six each. Not bad for a couple of hours of work. Except Tammy and Scott didn’t want theirs. Turns out Tammy never even ate a scup. But we fixed that.

I knew my sister-in-law would be thrilled when she learned we had 18 scup. She’s from Lebanon and really appreciates fresh fish. My sister and her husband were still staying at the cottage on Goulart, so I knew we’d all enjoy the harvest from my Atlantic Ocean.

So, I took the 18 fish to the cottage. My brother-in-law cleaned them and my sister-in-law cooked them.  She fried them in the fryolator. She didn’t even scale them, just have to peel the skin off after and….oh, they were yummy. We had all kinds of cool side dishes, much of it made with vegetables from their own gardens.

Now that’s island living.