July 10, 2004
Happy Birthday Fred, our Chief Scientist! Late last night with our improvised flare, we decorated Fred's laptop computer with a birthday lei made out of purple gloves, centrifuge tubes and ginger candy! It is such a privilege to be on a cruise with Fred, we all agree. The Captain even mentioned to me how smoothly things go with Fred as Chief Scientist. Fred gets his work done, and has such a fun way of doing it that we hardly know that we are working. With Bob Marley playing in the background, I check on my tub of oxygen bottles and begin titrating. My results give a standard deviation of 1.13271, which Richard says is within the accepted range. We hear three buzzes over the intercom and rush out to the fantail of the ship! Brian Popp, from the University of Hawaii, just caught a Mahi-Mahi!
This reminds me of the Introduction from The Log from the Sea of Cortez, where John Steinbeck describes the Mexican sierra. Steinbeck counts "XVII-15-IX" spines in the dorsal fin but also sees the fish alive and swimming, plunging against the lines, and even finally eating it." 1 I wonder what we will have for Fred's birthday dinner.
Experience has taught me that it is helpful to have a ritual or format for writing, and to take time to write every day. So I grab my journal and green pen and note what people are doing. I meet Ron, the guy with the camera, who is the Chief Engineer. He keeps the ship cool. This can be a major miracle, since the air temp is 31 degrees Celsius outside and the water temp is 30.5, and the humidity can be as high as 90%! He shows me how to run the air conditioning in our cabin and opens the vents for fresh air at night, so Ida and I will not wake up with headaches! Thanks to Chief, we are comfortable now. We also depend on him to send the electronic email transfers every day keeping our connection to the outside world. I know my mind would reel if he outlined what he does to keep the ship running. Being still fuzzy from sea motion, I plan to ask him for the real tour when I am more alert.
The sound of "You Make Me Feel like a Natural Woman" pulls me into the galley. I smile as I hear Aretha Franklin's voice joined by Mark, and wonder if I am the only one who thinks this is comical. There is more to smile about as I see this tall (everyone appears tall in the low-ceiling galley), handsome man singing this song and dancing as he makes potato salad. Pol, the Senior Cook, is slicing sashimi from the Mahi-Mahi that Brian caught. The meals mark our days - all delicious and yet each distinct. The galley is my favorite place in the ship because of the sweet aromas of blueberry pancakes, lively music, and sense of home. Mark's carrot salad somehow makes me feel at home, even though it is not a Brooks' family recipe. I am convinced that the cooks are the healers aboard ships. Nodding, Ron interjects that they are the ministers, doctors and psychotherapists, too, keeping everyone healthy and happy. Tonight they also are our entertainers, as we sing Happy Birthday to Fred while he makes a wish, blows out his candles, and passes us a piece of that chocolate cake. Later on deck, as I watch the green flash, I wonder if Fred's wish will come true. We pass the white beaches of Cabo San Lucas. We are making progress.
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