6.19.2012

This Wonderful Man.

This Salty Sea Dawg I'm married to! We are embarking on a special anniversary next week and Lord Willin' we will have many more. It's been fun and interesting...and fun. Cappy definitely is the "Cappy" and he has to be while he's out there on his boat. He likes everything on his boat to run well for the success and safety of his crew, himself, others out there on the water, the company he works for, and for their customers. It's a large responsibility, but it's the job he loves. He's so funny and gentle by nature that when he has to talk in his "Captain tone" to his crew, it's surprising, but it gets the job done. One time while on the phone with him I accidentally overheard him having to talk sternly with a couple of the guys in his crew. Apparently they had left ropes "dragging" all over the barge deck, which is something Cappy says can be very dangerous, so insists they be stowed properly. "I can only tell 'em so many times in a nice way, then I gotta let 'em have it". So he told them to report to the wheelhouse. Suddenly all I heard was high-pitched whiney voices from two different people in the background, then Cappy abruptly interrupted them with, "Now I thought I had called two men in here to talk to, not two teen-aged girls! I want no excuses! I want the job done that I told you to do in the first place, and I want it done right. You go back out that door...do NOT slam it, and go do the job you were hired to do, but first, you stand here like a man and tell me, politely to my face 'yes sir', then turn around and go do what I told you to do!" (yow.) I hadn't expected to be privy to that, but it was a window into another part of Cappy that I'm not all that familiar with. A lot of time if I'm on the phone with him, we might just be spending time together, not even talking; him out there doing his job, me here at home doing mine. Sometimes I hear him talk to other captains about how things are going out there on the water or at home. I don't really pay much attention to all that, but one time Cappy was talking about some new computer they were trying out a few years ago. He said, "Yeah, the thing has buzzers and whistles, fruit loops and automatic hiney wipers, but we don't need all that....". (He ended up liking it.) He'll often describe to me what he sees along the banks on his journeys up or down the Mississippi River, or it's tributaries. Mostly birds or animals, and he often takes great pictures of them. He tells me of families out boat riding or out fishing for the day, or picnicking. One time he mentioned a big ol' gold Cadillac pulled up on "top the levee", parked there, and inside were a couple of chubby grannies all dressed up, drippin' costume jewelry, wearin' bright red lipstick, sharin' a bag of potato chips".
  Out there on his boat, the living quarters are small, but they all manage...mostly just fine. I asked him what it was like living in such a cramped space like that. He shrugged and said, "It's okay. We feel like one of those styrofoam peanuts that are part of the packing material of life". So that's the Cappy I know when he's at work.
  The Cappy I know here at home, when something is amiss blames "us"...we share the blame, if there's blame to be had. It's usually some goof-up that I did tho', that "we" learned a lesson from and "we" won't do it again. That was such a foreign concept to me at first, but welcoming, for sure. And I sure do try to keep "us " out of trouble now, too. Right now I can't think of any examples of what I did that got "us" into a jam...uh...see, this is all about Cappy anyhow right now, not me. (where's one of those weird little "smilie's" when you need it?)
And, the Cappy I know here at home loves to have fun. He loves to sit around his firepit at night, beer in hand, "da blues" blaring on the outside speakers, his dawgs sitting in the chairs on either side of him, enjoying the beautiful starlit sky. I stay out for as long as I can, but I just don't like cold or mosquitoes, so I'm usually sitting in the house feeling all guilty for leaving him out there by himself, so I puntuate his evening with short buzz by's with my mosquito racket in hand. Sometimes he'll call me from the yard out there on his cell phone just to say "Hi Sweetie". Awww. Now he's gonna wanna keel-haul me for telling you this next one. One miserabley hot humid summer night, (even with the air conditioning "cranked"), nobody else was around, so Cappy decided in his own home to walk around in his 'drawers' and why not? Well, I was soaking in the tub, and because of a previous prank of having ice cubes sent over the top of the shower curtain one time, I now lock the door. As I said, it was late at night, and Cappy apparently grew tired of waiting for me to come out, so I heard him say to SparkyBear his faithful, sidekick dawg, "C'mon Sparky, we're goin' outside, potty behind the shed and scandalize da neighbors,...even in my tighty whitey's, ...'cept dey aint so tidy and dey aint so whitey". (I nearly broke my neck getting to the door before "dey" did.)   
  Another thing Cappy loves are "ROAD TRIPS!!!"  Except that the seatbelt on his side of the vehicle always sticks and is a "why you MISERABLE thing!!!"  He said, "I'd like to meet the evil genius who invented this thing; I'd like to kick him down the road for a couple of miles!" A year or so ago, on one of our road trips, we found ourselves way, wayyyy back in the back woods of Tennessee for a Ramp Tramp Festival. I believe we wrote a Blog post about ramps, which are wild onions like no other. They were always a 'had to do' up in western NY State all my years of growing up. They are luscious, extremely stinky, and a wonderful Spring Tonic. I missed them so much, as they don't grow this far down in the south, so Cappy surprised me with this jaunt "north" to Tennessee to a festival that honors the smelly weed. He told me to pack his old bib overalls, but all I could find that were presentable and had no holes were his new ones. When we got to the wonderfully decrepit motel, where I had made reservations for the weekend, he was thrilled! Old, heavily varnished golden oak panels floor to ceiling, wall to wall, with the windowed side of the room hanging right out over the lake, and the floor slanted right down toward the water, as well. He said, "It makes sense that this motel is out in the sticks...it's made of 'em" We were so far back that he thought there wouldn't even be a phone or internet service, so he said he should have brought along a tin can and string, and he could send messages by smoke signals, 'cept "I'd end up burning down the whole place and the forest". But he loved the place, even when in the morning he was looking for his shoes under the bed, he said, "There's dust bunnies under there big enough to steal my  hat!" He bitterly complained about the bibs I had packed for him. He said, "They're gonna think I've never worn bib overalls before and that I just bought these to 'fit in' with the ramp crowd". He was right. We left the motel and drove another ten miles or so up a steep, extremely narrow, winding paved (paved??) one lane 'road' with lines painted up center of it, as though other cars would come down around at you. Deeper and deeper into a dark secluded forest. Finally we made it to a clearing where several hundred cars were parked, and indeed an outdoor happening was "happ'nin", with wood and barbeque smoke filtering up through the very tall tree branches and leaves to welcome us. And there they were...old fellas, prit-near every one of them wearing faded well-worn bib overalls. One seventy year old, grizzled, long...lonnng bearded, hardly-any-teeth'd smart-aleck had to go and say something to Cappy about his new pants. (I got a "Cappy" look outa dat deal.) Mostly there were regular, nice people that you'd meet anywhere. There were a few formidable-looking characters lurking around hither and yon...and yon wasn't far enough for Cappy, who said he was having misgivings about his brand new overalls when a Bluegrass band inside the main building where we were headed  immediately started playing, "Dueling Banjos", the theme from the movie "Deliverance". He harshly whispered, "I look like a big juicy Cajun morsel. If they think Ned Beatty was attractive, I'm a goner". We made it inside and Cappy got his first taste of ramps. Cooked, raw...every way there was to have them, he had them. And he had the white beans and coleslaw as the 'sides'. (Because I didn't know how they were prepared, I didn't do all that, but mostly ate what I had brought with me that didn't contain wheat or gluten.) Ohhhh, Cappy was loving those ramps! They were his new-found love.  And the music, and the people....it was magical. One lady said to us, "You know you're in redneck country when somebody offers you ketchup when yaint even got no french fries".  We have to go back again sometime. We stayed another night at the motel and I slept through a tornado right outside the window by a few hundred feet or so!! Cappy had heard it and prayed that I'd not wake up, because he knows how I am about bad weather. I didn't question him about why he had been awake and heard it, but, it was because he was up and down running to the bathroom during the night, having become acutely aware of just what a fine and dandy Spring "tonic" ramps are. Once he got to sleep again, such a hideous stench woke him back up. It was so bad that he swore one of us had messed the bed. Lying there awake in agony from belly pains and the intolerable wafting "bouquet" of ramps merrily digesting away in the bowels of his bowels, he just couldn't take it anymore. He finally got up around six thirty, dressed, stepped outside, quietly closed the door behind him as to not wake me, and with blessed relief, let go a thunderous blast.  Each step across the still morning air of the parking lot to the motel's restaurant, was accompanied by a very loud involuntary honk. The restaurant was not open yet, so he went to the open kitchen door and asked if he could please get a cup of coffee. He didn't even go in...he just stood very, very still waiting for his coffee. He marched back across the parking lot, keeping time with a cadence of loud bursts, each "note" bouncing off the sleepy walls of the motel. Not wanting to wake me,(because he says I have no appreciation for potty humor in the least...true) He tooted and tooted and tooted with each step as he walked down the long set of stairs beside the motel, down to the dock. Standing on the wooden dock, 30 ounce cup of coffee in hand, he looked all around, surveying the light mist coming up off the peaceful lake, hearing and seeing noone and deciding he had to get rid of the painful bloat in his gut, he just had to let it all go and let nature run it's course. He looked heavenward as an unholy and powerful trumpet sound broke the still silence, followed by a series of bangs, pops, and probably a few squeaks. ( Now, where's the "buzzers, whistles, fruit loops and automatic hiney wipers" when you need them?) He stood there for 15 long, loud minutes emptying the coffee from his 30 oz. cup and emptying his lower body of the explosive fumes, and cursing himself for eating those four plates of ramps and stuff up there on that mountain with the other ramp revelers, and then enjoying the two raw ramp sandwiches he'd made for himself back at the motel room. At long last, out of coffee and tired of entertaining the lake loons with his outbursts, he thought he'd come back to the room to see if I was awake yet. He turned and there on the steps, not ten feet in front of him was the lady who ran the place with hose in hand, watering the flowers along the edge of the stairs. Evidentally she'd been there for most of his performance, and he had unwittingly "serenaded" her as she had watered all the way down to the bottom of the stairs. He was mortified and said it felt like his face was beet-red. She only smiled sweetly and asked, "Enjoyed the ramp festival did you?"  Shortly thereafter we found ourselves having breakfast at the motel's lovely restaurant which also over-looks the lake. It was truly a spectacular view. I just felt so bad for my honey. He could hardly sit still. The folks at the restaurant somehow knew where we'd been; they'd seen it (and smelled it) all before and said so. That 600 hundred mile road trip back home was really something. Cappy said, "You can leave me along the road, Peg; I don't blame ya. If I get in trouble, least I'll know which way to stumble". Another hundred miles or so down the road, after another potty break, he muttered, "...And I'd like to know what sadistic sumbitch came up with the idea to throw beans and cabbage into the mixture and wash the whole thing down with bacon fat for a more interesting effect". I don't know who was suffering more at that point, him or me.
  Sooo...mostly the road trips are local ones. Still, we 'set sail', music blaring, Cappy and me singing loudly and superbly awful, having the best time of our life. Since we only live 'down the road' from New Orleans, we tend to frequent the places in that neck of the "woods". Woods?? The streets are wide, they don't care how you dress, but the denizens can be just as wonderful, or just as formidable as the country folks. (And never forget 'you got your shoes ON YOUR FEET' in case anybody along the streets of New Orleans wants to bet you money that they can tell you where you got them.) Sitting in New Orleans listening to the various blends of music, smelling the various blends of Creole/Cajun foods, watching the various blends of people, some from 'here' some from all over the world, studying the variety of rich architecture, and knowing the marvelous history of South Louisiana, Cappy waxes philosophical: "Once you experience New Orleans Jazz, it's music and it's rhythm beats through your soul forever more...The night-time spirit of the French Quarter, once tasted, lives on in your soul and flavors the rest of your life with it's spicy personna...Once someone spends a week here taking it all in, they will forever be homesick for the Southern Charm". When he was younger, Cappy used to play a very, very mean trumpet. He used to march in a lot of what they call "Second Line Parades". (If you don't know what that is..."Google" it.) He said, "One summer we played Jazz for tips in Jackson Square every weekend. We'd play Friday all day and Saturday, drink and party, go to Mass, play for a few hours for enough gas money to get home. We'd sober up on coffee and bignets."  This serious boat captain I'm married to. (And I'm serious about that...he takes his job very seriously.) I just fell in love with him all over again. I was in the bathroom getting ready for us go out somewhere, doing the 'makeup and puttering around' thing. I rushed out to fetch one thing or another and ran right into him. He was standing right outside the door. I asked him, "Did you need to come in? Was I holding you up?" He said, "No...I was just standing here listening to you moving around in there, loving you and just realizing that you are really here".
  To some he may appear to be, as he calls himself, "A scruffy ol' boat captain", a dime a dozen down here in South Louisiana. But he's so, SO much more. Wouldn't you say? How very blest I am.
 P.S. As Cappy was loading the SUV with all the suitcases, etc. back at the old motel in the woods, and trying to walk and juggle all the luggage on top of everything else, the lady with the hose said to Cappy, "Looks like you've got your hands full". I said, "I sure do" :-D
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