Such a Happy Birthday!

I have had the best birthday week, and I’m going to ignore any pesky ideas that birthdays are supposed to be single day events.

The birthday-eve celebration was hosted by Tanya and Rafael on their boat Isabella Grace. Since we could easily fit three of our boat into theirs, it’s a much more suitable party locale.  We ate tremendous amounts of food – roasted shrimp cocktail, lasagna, and two kinds of dessert – and drank and sang and danced and talked…we’re some talented talkers…

Here are a few photos:

Not-so-early the next morning, James and I did breakfast at Jimmy’s…but I don’t recommend it.  We’ve enjoyed breakfasts-past from there, but these (cause we went again the next day) didn’t treat us so well.  Anyway.  We had thought we could do a big museum trip, but really – who can fit a bunch of museums into a single day?  I mean, maybe if you’re running laps in the place, but that’s not how we roll.

On my birthday, we went to the very, very well done National Aquarium.  I loved many of the exhibits, and especially enjoyed the rain forest mock-up.  The birds didn’t look like they’d spent much time beating themselves up trying to escape (I’ve been to a place like that), so I was able to get into it.  The other thing I liked a lot was the design on the smaller tanks, with water partly filling them so that you had multiple habitats in each.  The glass was lensed in such a way that you had a great view of the whole interior without distorting the creatures.  And looking for the frogs was fun!

When we left there, it was already well after 3pm.  We wanted to see all four of the historic ships in the inner harbor, but there wasn’t nearly enough time.  Dedicated to coming back the next day, we chose to visit the submarine first – the USS Torsk.  What a strange thing – those subs are strongly built, of course, but I come from an electronic age, when I expect things to fail for no reason.  This was built at the pinnacle of the mechanical age, when a valve worked or you took it apart and fixed it.  And I seriously doubt they had a lot of equipment failures on these old subs – too many people with time on their hands to get behind on maintenance!

We gorged ourselves at Ra Sushi – they have a happy hour with half-priced appetizers and some sushi.  And $2 sake.  So we got toasty and full and finished my birthday with a cozy evening together on the boat…and the celebration continued.

We didn’t stop with the birthday just because it was no longer December 1st.  Why stop a good thing?  James had more time off, so off we went again, to see the other three historic ships.

The USCGC Taney was next in line.  Though she was built in the 1930’s, she saw continuous service through 1986 and so was updated and upgraded often.  She seems like a thoroughly modern Coast Guard Cutter in most respects, and goodness gracious – she’s the lap of luxury when compared to the submarine!  She was in Honolulu when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and was unscathed – even downing Japanese planes and protecting the city as much as possible.  She kept the major city power plant untouched, which enabled Honolulu’s hospitals to be powered and run through the attack and in the aftermath, with so many casualties to be seen to.  After other, similar stories, she came to be considered a lucky ship and (now, this isn’t how the guide told it, but I think it’s funny in a snarky kind of way) was therefore chosen as the host ship for the high brass – admirals and such-like people.

Lightship 116 was next on our list.  James has a long-standing fondness for these vessels, due to a pirate radio station that was operated from on board one.  They’re perfect for such things – designed to anchor through every type of weather and mark the channels for other vessels, it was important that they be sturdy and stubborn.  This one – the Chesapeake – maintained station through two hurricanes that broke loose its anchor and forced them to motor into the storm in order to keep position.  Amazing vessels – read up on them!

And last but certainly not least…the USS Constellation.  I can’t even tell you all about it.  You’ll just have to come visit.  What I can say is this – the wood used in the construction of this vessel does not exist any longer in tree form.  There will be no more of these ships made, and when they are allowed to fall apart, it’s a hard slog to bring them back.  So support these efforts where you can, okay?

On the presents tip – I’m the kind of person who likes to drag it out.  I got one present fairly early.  Rafael and Tanya gave me a cookbook called Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.  It had been Rafe’s mother’s, and I’m honored to be hosting it and cooking from it now!  Second, I got my favorite pen ever – the space pen.  It’s easy to carry in a pocket while being extraordinarily easy to write with when the cap is on the back end to extend the length.  Love it.

Morning of my birthday, I resisted some small urgings by James and only got one more of my presents.  MY WATCH!  I hate having things on my wrists, and James got me the perfect outdoorsy watch – it clips to a belt loop with a carabiner type clip.  It has a compass and altimeter and tells me when it’s going to rain.  I love this watch – and I killed the last one.  This one is even fancier and ought to stand up to my rough-housing ways pretty damn well.

After we did the three ships, we went to the gym for a hot tub extravaganza and then home, where…I got an iPad!  This thing is fascinating, but I haven’t been online with it yet so I can’t speak to all its abilities.  I’ve downloaded the Navionics app, and I can’t wait to see if it will really locate me…the GPS functions are not quite clear to me.  It took all my music and photos and the photos – wow.  They look so great that it makes me want to create presentations and try for sponsors.  With a tool like this, I think I could really sweep people off their feet (and hopefully the wallets out of their pockets!)…

I plan to write more about my iPad experiences once I’ve worked through it a bit more…stay tuned…



  1. I would expect no less of you than to carry the celebration out at least a week…and you deserve every moment…miss you as well lovely – J

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