Happy Solstice


Earlier this year I sat at home (home sweet Hilo home) and watched the sun rise on the Equinox. 

Now, I find myself in Korea watching the sun rise over a car carrier.  Marking the Suns progress through the seasons feels decidedly great no matter where I am. 

Our ancestors had so much respect for the sky - they watched it closely and were very much in tune with what was going on above them. They marked time, celebrated through the seasons and looked closely for new phenomena. 

I decided at the Equinox that it would be fun to track the sky more often on the blog - so I wrote about the Harvest Moon. 

Now here we are!  Officially ringing in Winter.  

Today is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Henisphere and longest in the Southern.  

The declination of the sun when rising was 23.5 degrees South. If you were standing on the Tropic of Capricorn the sun would be directly over your head midday.  

Decembers Solstice is when the sun is at its southern most point. 

The Stonehenge in England and Machu Picchu in Peru were presumably built to track the Suns annual progress. 

Today though, I've been wondering if I'm a little biased. I was a sun baby. Isn't it a little presumptuous to assume it's all about the light?  Maybe it's equally appropriate to celebrate the dark. Maybe in today's world we just don't get enough dark.  

What I remind myself about the Winter Solstice is we need the dark to stay balanced. 

I always find myself feeling grumpy about it - shortest day of the year?!  Less sun?!  How's that a positive?!  This article really got nw thinking about the importance of darkness.  

I think we have forgotten what darkness is for. Sleep, story telling around fire places, cuddling, and in general simple togetherness.  

Have you ever heard the word Hygge?  I hadn't until very recently. It's a Danish word that is hard to translate but means roughly 'togetherness' or 'coziness'.  I learned the word when happening upon this article.  The article expands on the concept of Hygge and suggests it is our answer to enjoying the darker winter months. 

Light your fireplaces.  Burn a candle. Snuggle up on the couch. Drink a hot cup of tea. Find a good read.

Enjoy this long night. 

Pink Glow


A couple mornings ago I was enroute from Shanghai to Pusan. Leaving Shanghai in the rear view mirror always feels pretty good but, I had a couple of abnormally busy watches. (To say you've had busy watches in or around Chinese Waters basically means the traffic was insane.)

I was feeling fried, super cranky and just over it.  

Then, for the first time in days we got 'good clouds' and a little sunrise.  

That pink glow in the horizon was so incredibly welcome.  

It never fails to amaze me what 'picks me up' and what 'gets me down'.

I find my 'pick me ups' are usually so simple, so easy and so attainable. Which means I must ask myself:  why don't you do those things more often?

Two seconds to watch the sky lighten changes my day.  

What are your go to pick me ups?  What is your pink glow? 

Aloha Friday v7

This is actually my favorite song of all times. It's the only Hawaiian song that I've learned the hula for and, strangely enough, it's the only song I've told my Mom to at at my funeral in a worst case scenario. 

If I'm feeling uncomfortable - like I'm in a dark cargo hold or am walking in the ships tunnels - and I don't have my iPod to drown out the creaks and groans - I'm probably singing this song out loud.  

This version is sung by a duo called Hapa. Their version is the first one I heard and holds fast as my favorite.  

Please note:  because I'm on the ship I haven't actually watched this video. Hope it's okay!

A week into shipboard life.

I'm a week and a day (or so) into this current rotation at sea.  Hypothetically, if I complete all the time allotted to my contract I'll be aboard for 126 days.  My plan is to avoid taking a trip off (like I did last time - so that I could move out of my place in Houston) and just get all three West Coast - Asian trips done in one clean swoop.

Doing all three trips isn't necessarily the best option for my mental health but, it's definitely the best option for my bank account and annual timeline.  It's definitely a mindset and I'm working on attaining said mindset right off the bat.  I think it was one of the reasons I packed so many 'extras' this go around.  I mean honestly, I'm looking forward to my daily chocolate out of my advent calendar!  Looking forward to small things goes a really long way.  Hence the extras.

It's been radio silence around here.  I attribute that to a small dose of 'hibernation' (ie I've been taking more naps than required....maybe just a touch of 'joining the ship blues'), limited internet (can we all agree I should be grateful just to have a small amount of internet in the middle of the ocean?!) and, plain old laziness.

Here's what the past week looked like:

First things first - setting up my bed with comfy flannel comforter and bottom sheet.  Aaaaah.  Cozy.  I love cuddling up.

November 23rd.  

November 23rd.  

Next on the agenda was getting used to early morning wake ups once more.  Of all the watches, 04-08 / 16-20 is my favorite.  Most times you get the sunrise and sunset.  

November 24th.

November 24th.

Our first morning out of Oakland was foggy yet sunny.  I'll take it.

November 25th.

November 25th.

I tried to get back in the groove by documenting my coffee with a sunrise.  You know....my signature shot.  I got foam blown all over my fingers.  I had to laugh out loud.

November 27th.

November 27th.

Dutch Harbor on arrival = Gorgeous.  Dutch Harbor on departure = snow blowing sideways and an aborted undocking due to high winds - the ship couldn't breast off the dock.

November 29th.

November 29th.

The exciting thing about December First was being able to dig into my Advent Calendar!  Thanks Trader Joes.  Those little chocolates are scrumdiliumptious.

December 1st.

December 1st.

This morning was gloomy.  So, so gloomy.  It was also Thursday instead of Wednesday - after all this time I STILL find the International Date Line confusing!  It's official folks, I'm in East Longitude.

December 4th.

December 4th.

There you have it!  A week in a post!

I hope your Thanksgiving was lovely and that you're gearing up for the Holidays with style!

Packing Light. Or not.

Do you know what I've never been accused of?  Packing Light. 


I'd love to say that after almost ten years at sea I'm a light packer but that couldn't be further from the truth.  For years I had to fly to meet my ships - most times flying Internationally - my luggage was severely restricted.  That being said, I was returning to the same ship over and over so I had a serious stash of goodies that I stored in a storage locker.  

I'd love to say that I had a list that I followed scrupulously but instead I usually fly by the seat of my pants.

See that blue backpack in front?  Wanna know what's lashed to the bottom?  Coffee and a milk frother.

See the target bag hanging off the red duffel?  Wanna know whats inside?  My work boots.  Because my bag was so stuffed I couldn't fit them inside!

See the orange duffel?  Full of food.  Oatmeal, nuts, dried mango, tea...

See the blue shopping bag in the back?  Christmas.  Lights, narcissus bulbs to force, candy to make goodie bags for the crew, a Gingerbread House Kit.  I mean come on, you can't go to sea for Christmas without a Gingerbread House Kit!

So what?  I didn't pack light.  I'm currently snuggled up in a flannel duvet cover (that took up a lot of room I'll have you know).  It's the little things.

Mettle Makers - GOING BIG

so blessed i can't contain it

I have favorite things about this blog.  Of course.  Some things I love sharing, some things I really think hard about before posting, sometimes it feels like pulling teeth when I sit down to write and sometimes, it just feels effortless.  One thing I always love is sharing are Mettle Makers.

The history of the Mettle Maker - somewhere around two years ago I got my first Chief Mates job.  I was frazzled.  To say the least.  I had quit a job without having anything lined up.  Somewhere around that time Bridget left a comment giving me kudos for mustering my mettle (I looked really, really hard for the original comment and just ran out of time).  The word mettle stuck with me and I decided to keep it around.

The word felt old fashioned and sweet.  It also felt so strong - it can't be a coincidence that it sounds like Medal and Metal.  


a person’s ability to cope well with difficulties or to face a demanding situation in a spirited and resilient way.

”the team showed their true mettle in the second half”

synonyms: spirit, fortitude, strength of character, moral fiber, resolve, resolution, backbone, grit, bravery, valor, daring, courage
— google

Before I knew it I was making mettle.   

I've decided it's about time I start making my own Mettle Makers instead of searching through Pinterest for images - and well, if I'm making them I better be sharing them!

My plan is to deliver them straight to your inbox as a thank you for being my friends!  You all have no idea how much you've helped me through the years.  Providing me with moral support, encouragement, a quiet listening ear and a judgement free zone to just figure things out.  I appreciate it more than I can effectively articulate.

If you think this sounds like fun or something that could perk you up every now and then please take the time to fill out the little form below to receive bi-weekly Mettle Makers in your inbox.

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