Birth Week 2019, Day Ten: Sunday Public Sail


. . . And so concludes my Birth Week 2019! Sixteenth one overall; fifteenth one for which I took the week off work as a vacation; and in reference to yesterday specifically, the thirteenth one Shauna has participated in, since 2006. Now granted, some of those early ones were a week removed from my "official" Birth Week and a lunch during a workday when we still worked together at PCC, but whatever, I'm still counting them. The only year she skipped since starting in 2006 was 2011. I can't remember at all why.

Also, 2016 was sort of a cheat; I only saw her that year during my Birth Week as part of my then-regular biweekly grocery shop she would pick me up to do at PCC during the years Shobhit lived in Los Angeles. Every year after that, however, we've actually done a day-excursion of some kind, the first before I even starting giving my Birth Week a theme that turned pretty much every day of my Birth Week into an excursion. In 2017, we took a day trip to Wolf Haven. In 2018, we visited Chateau Ste. Michelle. And this year, she joined me for the Center for Wooden Boats Sunday Public Sail.

This was also the longest I've gone without seeing Shauna since I met her in 2002. The same could have been said of when I saw her for my Birth Week last year, but between 2017 and 2018, we saw each other for dinner at least once, at the Veggie Grill in the U District. This time, we didn't even see each other once during Birth Weeks! I had not seen her since the Sunday ending my Birth Week last year.

And, she was the last of the people I officially made a plan with. I didn't even know who I would do the Sunday Public Sail with until the Thursday of the week prior -- the week before last. I hoped I could get her to come, but had no idea if she would be interested in getting on a boat with me. But, when I texted her to ask if she had plans on Sunday May 5, she replied that she did not. And when I asked if she wanted to join me for this, she responded with surprising enthusiasm: Yes!!! That sounds awesome! What time?

And indeed, the scheduling part remained kind of tricky, right up until yesterday morning itself. Because you see, the Sunday Public Sail is a free service run by volunteers, and you can only sign up day-of, starting at 10 a.m., first-come, first-served. I knew it was best to get there even earlier than that, which Dave, Karen's husband who actually works as a boat mechanic there, had passed on to me through Karen. I walked down there to South Lake Union yesterday morning, shortly after Shobhit left for work, and got in line by 9:30. There were already about forty people in line ahead of me.

Shauna, who lives in Lynnwood, left home shortly after I got in line. And her timing was nearly perfect in arrival, as she got there literally a couple minutes after I got to the head of the line after they opened the doors at 10:00, and I got the boat I wanted, the largest one, with its first sail at noon. I also aimed for that launch time because it was what Nancy and her friend Bill had gotten on. And it was quite easy to get on, as this was the one boat that took twenty passengers, and Shauna and I were maybe #7 and #8 on the sign-up sheet.

Oh, who's Nancy, you ask? Nancy G, who used to work at PCC but left in 2014 (six years after Shauna did). When I arrived, I was walking the docks toward the old Center for Wooden Boats wood building where the sign-ups were happening, and she happened to be standing in line at a small coffee stand I was passing. "Matthew?" I heard her call out. "Oh my god!" I said. She came over and gave me a hug. And then we were kind of amazed to realize we were all there for the same thing. They were actually already in line, she said -- they had chairs with a spot saved and were just getting themselves a drink. She was pretty excited to hear Shauna was coming. I'm not sure the two of them had seen each other since Shauna left over ten years ago.

So, in the end, the boat ride largely included Nancy and her friend Bill, who's birthday was yesterday as well. I was still celebrating my own Birth Week, my actual birthday having been the previous Tuesday; Shauna, as it happens, will turn sixty a week from today. I told Nancy I'd like to get a picture of all of us with the boat, and she balked, saying she didn't like getting her picture taken. I kind of ribbed her about it later on the boat, after I took this shot of her taking her own picture of Shauna and me, while Shauna was also taking a picture of her. Shauna and I thought it was pretty funny. (That's Nancy's friend Bill in the shot, standing up to the right.) When we all lowered our phones and I looked at the photo I took, I called out to her, "Don't worry Nancy, your phone's obscuring your face!" She sort of chuckled.

But, as the ride wore on, as well as immediately after, she seemed to lose her hang-up with getting her picture taken, and we even all posed for a group selfie with the boat behind us after we de-boarded at the end of the roughly one-hour ride.


This shot I took with Shauna walking away from the boat on the pier, just a couple minutes before taking the group selfies, actually shows the boat itself way better, as it also shows the height of the masts. I also took this shot of the informational sign on a little podium on the dock right next to where the boat is moored, with lots of technical information about the boat. Most notably, its full length is 63 feet, and it's a schooner sailboat, entitled Lavengro.

Later when I posted to social media about this sailboat ride, Laney posted this comment: oh my goodness, Lavengro, at one time, was operated by Evergreen State College and it is the vessel on which Jessica Williams fell in love with working on the water! Small world. She has lots of wonderful memories about Lavengro. (Jessica has been working as a deckhand for several years now.) Whoa! Small world!

I actually might have tried to include Karen and Dave in yesterday's activity somehow, given that it would seem an obvious choice since Dave actually works for the Center for Wooden Boats. But, Karen could not participate in any Birth Week activities this year, and particularly not this past weekend. Anita, who had been about to be a Junior in high school when she was at our wedding in 2013, just graduated from college. So, Karen and Dave were in Portland for that.

It was kind of a fun, random surprise to get Nancy added to the mix yesterday, though. When we were still standing in line before sign-ups, she walked over to chat with me for a few minutes, and we reminisced about older days at PCC, and she kept referring to people lots of employees hated (most of whom I liked fine), and would speak in weird code about them: "The Big L," or "The Big G." Who the hell is that? And she would scoff as though it should have been obvious. Nancy herself wasn't exactly everybody's favorite either, but I never had anything particularly against her. I remember she was the one person who engaged me in conversation at the first PCC holiday party I ever attended, which I want to say was in December 2003. And somehow it became relevant in the conversation for me to mention that I was still a virgin -- an admittedly odd thing to bring up while schmoozing at a company Christmas party. I never forgot that though. She didn't act weirded out or anything that I would bring it up, though. I think we had somehow gotten onto the subject of dating and relationships; maybe she asked if I had a significant other.

--Oh, wait. Here it is! My old LiveJournal entry in which I wrote about it. The conversation was actually more detailed than I remember, and sort of more instigated by her than I realized: "Well, obviously you've had sex." Not exactly! Why was I remembering this backward? If anyone should have been weirded out by the direction that conversation went, it should have been me! But whatever, I was always very open about being a virgin (until I wasn't anymore, when I met Shobhit when I was 28).

But I digress! Yesterday's full photo album on Flickr includes 43 shots, two of them short video clips, including the one embedded below that probably isn't working. Click here to watch that one if necessary; it's fun! Shauna got to help steer the boat, and call out commands, and the video also features the shifting of the sails from one side to the other to catch the wind on the other side. Shauna was very excited about it all, and even though this was the third time in the previous nine days I had been on Lake Union, there is a uniqueness to the photos of this boat ride because it was the only actual sailboat I was on. All the other boats were either motor-powered only, or in the case of the pedal boat on Greenlake, foot-powered.

Although I posted twelve numbered boats for posts to social media, that included the two ferries Shobhit and I took as the "Birth Week prologue" day trip to San Juan Island on April 20. Within the confines of my official ten-day "Birth Week" proper, there were only ten such posts, and that included both models or sculptures I managed to climb in, or just boats I was near, such as the marinas in Olympia or Magnolia. So, of those ten posts, eight of them were boats I actually touched. Really drilling down, during my Birth Week proper, I took a grand total of six bona fide floating boat rides:

1. Fremont Brew Cruise with Laney on Friday, April 27
2. Heather and Tim's boat on Saturday, April 28
3. Washington State Ferry Kennewick from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island on Sunday, April 29
4. Pedal boat on Greenlake with Shobhit on Tuesday, April 30
5. Argosy Locks Cruise with Shobhit on Friday, May 3
6. Schooner sailboat with Shauna on Sunday, May 5

I really would have liked to include more, but whatever -- I guess six is a pretty good number too! And, when boat rides could not be in the cards, I did the next-best thing and went with people where boats would be -- so, six different waterfronts visited:

1. Downtown Port Townsend with Auntie Rose on Sunday, April 28 [where I also posed in a model Victorian sailing ship]
2. Bellingham Bay with Ivan on both Sunday April 28 and Monday April 29
3. South Lake Washington for dinner in Renton with Danielle on Wednesday, May 1
4. West Bay Marina for lunch in Olympia with Dad and Sherri on Thursday, May 2
5. Edmonds Boardwalk for dinner with Lynn and Zephyr on Thursday, May 2 [where I also posed on a sculpture of a bunch of kids in a row boat]
6. Elliott Bay Marina for brunch in Magnolia with Shobhit on Saturday, May 4

So! That leaves 13 total photo albums for my Birth Week this year (one less than last year), for a combined total of 533 shots (9 less than last year), 18 of them video clips (16 more than last year).

Next year, with the theme being a State Parks tour, I'm really hoping I can manage at least nine state parks, one for each of the days off I get for that weeklong vacation (including both weekends at either end).

Anyway, you can browse the photos for more on yesterday's Sunday Public Sail. We parted ways with Nancy and Bill after returning on the boat, which only went about a third of the way into Lake Union before turning around, and then Shauna and I went and had lunch at Veggie Grill. Shauna said she would pay for lunch, but I told her she didn't need to because I had a gift card. (I paid for it months ago myself, but whatever. It still meant I went all day yesterday without spending anything that would have to go toward my Birth Week budget -- the only day that was basically free, I think, for my Birth Week. On the plus side, I actually made a liberal estimated budget of $700 in costs, and by that standard I closed out my Birth Week about $300 under budget -- I already have the $400 in spending money set aside now, that I want to take to Canada and New York at the end of May. I'm all set for that one! That makes me happy.

Shauna gave me a ride home and we promised to see each other again before another whole year goes by. I processed the photos for a couple of hours. Shobhit got home from work and we spent a pretty long time making eggplant squash and a garbanzo bean dish, which we made enough volume of to last a few days, and we ate while watching Game of Thrones. We tried to watch Barry and Shobhit fell asleep halfway through. We'll have to pick up on the rest of our shows later. I think Shobhit working two jobs again is tiring him out.


[posted 12:24 pm]

My tweets

  • Sun, 22:46: #BirthWeek Boat #12! “Lavengro,” a 63’ schooner sailboat first launched in 1926, ridden with Shauna as part of the “Sunday Public Sail” ( Nancy G and her friend Bill, whose birthday is *today* (mine was last Tuesday; Shauna’s is a week from tomorrow), just happened to be going as well. So we all got on the same boat!