Red, white and blue.

Walking the dog this morning I heard a commotion overhead of the jet-engine variety. Glancing up, I was fortunate to catch a long glimpse of one of these bad boys, which was either a B-2 bomber or the Batplane. As an American taxpayer, I felt deeply grateful to see my investment in action (flying, not bombing); the B-2 is lethal but lovely, and I have a soft spot for lovely. Sometimes I think the most pleasing sights in the world are man-made creations doing the things man made them for. This includes domestic animals, selective breeding being one of our great strategies to master the planet. If you’ve ever seen a herd of well-bred Angus cattle or a bird dog working a field, you know what I’m talking about.

As for the B-2 bomber overhead, well, it was the Fourth of July, so the chances of it hurrying to an al-Qaeda assault on Grosse Pointe were remote. I’m sure it was doing parade flyovers, a thought both comforting and irritating. You don’t breed a bird dog to decorate your hearth, and you don’t build a gazillion-dollar airplane to drop jaws at parades. On the other hand, the B-2 is not much use in Fallujah, either.

Sigh. Running the Pentagon must be hard. All those blank checks, and the stores never have what you need.

The long weekend did me some good. Kate and I got out and about on Saturday, while Alan tuned his mast and shivered his timbers and whatever else he had to do. We went to Eastern Market, then into downtown for some exploring. We ended up at Campus Martius park, having lunch in the Hard Rock Cafe, under Marvin Gaye’s shirt. Kate remains utterly unimpressed by popular music — by most music, for that matter. The HRC plays videos nonstop, giving you something to watch if you don’t feel like watching your kid peruse the Little Rockers menu. They played Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself,” which, you’ll recall, features Mr. I being pursued by zombie-like creatures. “Who are those people?” Kate asked. “Why are they chasing him?”

I thought of explaining the early days of rock videos, when the visuals frequently had nothing to do with anything in the song, but seemed to feature whatever loose props and other crap were lying around the studio where they were shot. I didn’t, though. I said, “I dunno.” Which was the truth. That’s why Pop-Up Video was such a hit. It gave you something to pay attention to.

So we finally shook down the Mary M. A few days ago I said that half of my marriage has been spent squabbling over stupid things. “Why are they still together?” you may be thinking. I’ll tell you why: Because the other half has been spent doing battle, as a couple, locked arm-in-arm, one fight one purpose one soul, I tell you, with…outboard motors. If I had $5 — hell, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen my husband jerk at a starter cord, I’d be retired to Barbados by now, where I would have inboard diesels maintained by white-shirted mechanics who would polish them daily.

Which is to say, our maiden voyage was delayed an hour, when we got within sight of the open lake and realized the motor wasn’t going to get us safely out there. And certainly wouldn’t get us back. It would run 45 seconds and die. Then one minute and die. Then 30 seconds and die. And then it quit altogether.

This is frustration: You can see the lake. You know you don’t need a motor to get around on it. And yet, if you want to get back to your slip, if you want to clear the incredibly narrow channel and get out into the water where it’s safe to sail, you need the stupid 8-horse outboard to just do its little bit of work, which is not asking for very much. But which, in this case, was too much to ask.

The good news: It was a $5 part, fixed in two minutes. Eventually, we got out there, and it sailed beautifully. It was my first experience handling a boat with a full keel, and it has a certain gravitas, like driving an Electra 225 over a bumpy road. It rocks, but it doesn’t roll. If that makes any sense.

The bad news: We went to the park today, a perfect day for sailing, with storms coming from far away and a hot wind blowing out of the south at a nice clip, and the motor was up to its old tricks. It’s now in Alan’s trunk, bound for the shop at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Ah, but we’ll always have our memories:


Posted at 10:25 pm in Uncategorized |

2 responses to “Red, white and blue.”

  1. Jeffrey said on July 5, 2005 at 9:49 am

    Nancy –

    Don’t tell Alan we’re having this conversation….nothing a guy with a boat hates more than someone “standing on the dock” offering advice!

    It sounds like it might be fuel system issue and I recall reading that the boat was shipped from Cleveland. Some junk may have worked free during the transit and gotten into the system, filters, lines, etc. Or if it sat for a while it may be moisture, etc.

    Just a thought – here’s hoping today’s part was only $5 too!

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  2. Nance said on July 5, 2005 at 9:59 am

    Actually, Jeffrey, the phone just rang with good news — it was the fuel system. The guy at the shop replaced the fittings, it’s running the way it should, everything’s tight and, best of all, NO CHARGE.

    So I hope we’ll be sailing again today or tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow — it’s supposed to rain off and on all day, but a cold front is moving in, so here’s hoping.

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