Serendipity, a Sailing Story

When you head down to the boat and you cast off the dock lines for a day’s sail on the Bay, there are a few things that you can expect to find along the way. The boat will be there looking sparkling and welcoming when you arrive. There will be sea birds about, eating, diving, just floating. There will be Angel Island, Alcatraz, the bridges and the City Front all looking as spectacular as always. Other things are a bit more iffy – perhaps you will find wind to sail by, or perhaps instead a glassy sea will invite you to do as the sea birds are doing – just float. But yesterday as we caught wisps of breeze across the Bay we encountered something we could never have expected. A letter … to Santa.

We had been out for a few hours, enjoying intermittent breezes, always just enough to avoid using our motor. Anna and Lydia had just gone down below to watch a movie as we turned our bow back toward our home marina in Emeryville. I (Jen) was at the helm overseeing ‘Otto’s’ work (Otto is our autopilot – sailors often name that ever-useful machinery that can take over driving the boat anytime we want) and Christian was looking out over the water toward Alcatraz. Something was floating there, he said, and I took a look. It was small, very low on the water, and orange and white. We really have no idea why, but we just felt compelled to head over there a take look. Normally we wouldn’t have done that – usually there’s a lot more traffic, the water is a bit choppier, whatever, but we usually wouldn’t have altered course, which requires re-trimming the sails on a sail boat, to see what a little floating orange-and-white-thing was. But, alas, we did. 

There was very little wind at the time, so we just sort of drifted toward the ‘thing’, which quickly revealed itself to be a pair of balloons floating in the water, one orange the other white. Christian grabbed the boat hook (a long, extending pole with a hook at the end), and hooked the balloons by their strings as we continued to drift past. As he raised them from the water, we could see that tied into their strings was a white envelope with writing on it. A message? On a balloon? Veerrrryyy Innnteeerrressstttinngg!  The ideas came pouring out – Well wishes sent off during a wedding? A “rescue me” plea from some poor far-off prisoner (just kidding). A love note? When we laid the note on the cockpit table, we started gently to open it (the girls came up now to help). The writing on the envelope was faded and smeared by the water, but we could tell it seemed to be in Spanish. Inside, the page with the note was intact and legible. On one side was more writing in Spanish, about two lines, then scratched out in pen. On the other side was writing in English. We started reading: “Dear Santa, I would like a star…”. And what followed was just that – a letter to Santa! Attached to balloons. Found 2 weeks after Christmas in the middle of San Francisco Bay. It was all just too … cool! 
The girls, and Christian and I too, got a kick out of it, and the girls wondered what happened to that poor child whose letter never made it to Santa. Of course Santa knew what that child wanted for Christmas anyway, girls. After all, Santa’s magic!

Finding the letter was exciting, sure, but more than anything we were compelled to just appreciate the serendipity of it all. I mean, it’s just a simple matter of finding balloons in the Bay, but how interesting that a stranger somewhere unknown set this all-important letter off into the wind with hopes that it would magically arrive in Santa’s hands, only to be found by, of all people – US, simply because we had nothing else going on at the time. How far had the message come? How long had it drifted in the wind attached to it’s helium-filled balloons before touching down in the water. Serendipity like that just makes you stop and think, and appreciate. Appreciate what? Well, chance, for one. Life’s inter-connectedness, too. We don’t know this child, and most likely won’t ever, but we are now somehow connected anyway. Just serendipity. 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Where has this time gone? It’s crazy to think that 2008 is so close to being over, and 2009 is in just a few hours. A new year, new adventures. We look forward to the new adventures with excitement, and also hold onto the routine too. So Happy New Year to all! 
The Philips’

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The new name…


Hi friends and family! – it’s us, back to the blog habit after a much extended hiatus. Most of you know what we’ve been up to for the past 6 months, so giving a summary would probably be redundant. In fact, that begs a question about the purpose of a blog in the first place, doesn’t it? Of course, there are infinite raisons d’etre for the modern “blog” – random thoughts, vacation journal, waxing philosophical, social commentary, world news, and so on. Our reason? We do indeed have friends and family that we sadly don’t see on a regular basis, who live in other states or countries and probably get something out of our blog entries. And though to some extent they/you must love to read a bit on something going on in our world, most often it is not entirely news to you, since we do talk on occasion too. So if the reason for our blog is not ONLY to keep our family and friends informed on the days of our lives, what IS it? 


Here’s what I think, and this leads to the new title for this blog “Go Stand Next to That!”. How to explain… The phrase “Go stand next to that” is something a person might say to another when getting ready to take a picture of something particularly cool to them – a monument, let’s say. They are traveling and see the lovely and important monument and want to remember it, they want to record it in their memory, so they whip out their camera. But then it occurs to them that a simple picture of an important monument might not be all that interesting in the long run without something else in it to say “we were here!”. So, as a solution, they tell their companion to “Go stand next to that!”, at which time their companion takes the required position in front of the monument, smiles, perhaps raises a hand in a wave, and the moment-saving frame is snapped. They needed perspective in their picture, so they ‘stood next to it’. 

Christian and I have been saying that phrase to each other in jest since, probably, our 2nd date. I picked it up from a friend back in my UC Santa Cruz days, and passed it on the Christian when we met. It has become our “thing”, in a way. We laugh when we say it in a kind of touristy way, perhaps with a Southern accent and a shrill to our voice. So, why not name our blog after it, right? Well, partly. The other partly goes back to that story of the monument and perspective. Without getting too very deep in the well of depthness, isn’t it true that life must be viewed from the proper angle to be correctly interpreted? It’s the forest-for-the-trees thing – you stand too close to the trees, all you see is a lot of confusing trees, and nothing of the forest they belong to. Stand back, look again, and you see a beautiful forest, you make sense of all the mess, or at least the darn leaves stop falling on your head. Perspective is about looking back on life’s events and making some sense of them, putting them into the greater picture. It’s also about taking a current event in your life and putting it in it’s proper place, allowing it to be the monument it might be without just being a monument – instead it’s a monument that means something to YOU, that gives meaning to other things in your life too. Oops, getting too deep!

Anyway, thus the blog title and sub – gaining perspective one adventure at a time. We live and we try to learn. That’s life. That’s our life, and we hope to not only share it with you, our family and friends near and far, but also to gain some perspective for ourselves by “going and standing next to it.”

– Jen

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Is that my big butt in that Sailing Magazine?!


Is that my big butt in that Sailing Magazine?!

Yes dear, I’m afraid it is. 


And so goes our experience with appearing in a major sailing publication. What, you say, am I talking about? Let’s go back in time, to February of this year, when Christian and I boarded a plane and, with notebooks and sunscreen in hand, flew out to Miami where waiting for us to arrive was the worlds “largest” sailing catamaran boat show. Dozens of huge catamarans (two hulls, instead of just one), complete with nice brokers to explain the nitty gritty of bilge pumps and anchor rollers, it was Disneyland for us! Anyway, long story short, we had good fun. Flash forward many months … I was sitting and flipping through one of the many sailing magazines that decorate the surfaces of our home, perusing the articles, glancing at photos, when I did a double-take on one particular photo. It was a photo of a catamaran that we were lucky enough to have taken a test-run on during the show, one that boasts an all-electric propulsion system (distinct from the typical diesel propelled engines of most sailboats). Realizing that we took a ride on that boat, I looked closer at the photo, and was shocked to see Christian and I standing right there on the boat, in the picture. Now isn’t that too cool, I said to myself, and jumped up to show Christian. Want to know what my husband said? Mind you, he’s a man, a confident guy with no self-image problems that I know of. But, despite this, what he said was “Is that MY BIG BUTT in that Sailing Magazine!?”
– Jen

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Wiz of the West!

What do you do when your 2nd grader is cast as the title role in a school play? You take LOTS of pictures, that’s what! It’s true – last week the Missoula Children’s Theater arrived in town, bringing with them everything needed to cast 60 of Mt. George Elementary School’s kids in a full musical comedy. With Missoula, the auditions are on Monday, and by Saturday the play is on! It’s incredible.

Last year, Anna played one of a group of “Foresters” in Robin Hood. She had a line, and had lots of fun. THIS year, well, let’s just say she must have caught the bug last year, because she wowed the directors! (No, we’re not biased or anything!) She was selected for the role of “The Wiz” in The Wiz of the West – a funny, old west version of Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy is “Dotty” and the “Tinman” is “Tinhorn”. The subtitle read like this: “There’s no place like home … on the range!”

So with crazy excitement Anna went though a week of after-school rehearsals. Each day, she rehearsed with her co-stars until 7 pm, then dragged herself back to school the next day to do it all over again. By the end of the week, we were ALL exhausted! But, no time to rest – the show day was here! Saturday begain with a dress rehearsal at 11 am – the kids’ first chance to do the whole show from start to finish on the stage. Then, two performances for audiences of 200+ at 3 pm and 7 pm. And, we can safely report that the whole show was great!

As for Anna, well we’re so proud of her! Her “Wiz” part doesn’t come until the end of the play, so for the beginning of the play she also played the “Tarantula Queen”, which involved much running, flapping of many arms, and coordinated dancing. She then ran backstage and changed costumes, and readied her booming “Wiz” voice. The Wiz, like the one in Wizard of Oz, hides behind a curtain and pretends to be big and powerful. Then, when the curtain comes down, he is revealed to be a little, normal person. All that self-discovery stuff then ensues. Anna yelled as loud as she could through a mega-phone from behind the curtain, then came out looking oh so small, compared to the 5th graders playing the Dorothy & Friends roles. So in the end, it was a great performance, both by Anna and by the whole school.

See the pictures here! I’ll add a video soon. Enjoy!

01-19-2008 Anna in Wiz of the West

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Our own "12 Days of Christmas"

Reporting from another Holiday Season survived with few scars, it’s us! How do we do it to ourselves? We go in with a “new plan this year” – toned down, calm, not over-done, just enjoy the meal and family. And we did that…plus lots more! And so, our own rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas begins!

On the first day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Tutu moved to Napa.

On the second day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the thrid day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the fourth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the fifth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the sixth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the seventh day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the eight day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Wrapping christmas presents, Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the ninth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Christmas morning mayhem, Wrapping christmas presents, Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry birthday party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the tenth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… Christmas craze at gramma’s, Christmas morning mayhem, Wrapping christmas presents, Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… After-Christmas playdates, Christmas craze at gramma’s, Christmas morning mayhem, Wrapping Christmas presents, Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

And on the twelth day of Christmas, our schedule gave to us… A much needed day on Calypso! After-Christmas playdates, Christmas craze at gramma’s, Christmas morning meyhem, Wrapping Christmas presents, Santa Train to Yountville, Anna’s birthday at gramma’s, SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP! … Anna’s jewelry party, Lydi’s winter show at school, Anna’s winter show at school, and Tutu moved to Napa.

Whew!
With love to our family and friends! Merry Christmas!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Little white lights everywhere!

It’s time for the Holidays! The air is turning brisk, the smell of fireplaces and wood stoves fills the air, and, all around town, little white lights are appearing to sparkle us through our days and nights. True to the oncoming Christmas spirit, our own house has become a full-on sparkle fest! White lights dazzle the eves of the house, a pair of trees covered with white lights garnish our front deck, and the yard would not be complete without a white sparkling deer moving his sparkly head up…and down. Inside, our Christmas tree is covered in lights (all white, of course), the girls each have their own little white sparkling ‘advent’ trees, and Lydi’s bedroom is dazzling with a string of white globes. Ok, so Anna has rainbow lights in her room – a break from tradition!


Truly, we are having a beautiful Christmas season. With the coming of the season is our own first big event – Anna’s birthday! This year she is 8! In two days is her jewelry-making party extravaganza! A friend of ours through both of the girls’ schools is a jewelry maker, and she does parties for little girls where they each get to make their own bracelet and necklace. Anna’s friends and Tutu (recently arrived from Hawaii for an extended stay in Napa) are coming to our house for cake and fun. Then, the next day, we’ll celebrate with Grama and Papa at their house.

Then, on to Christmas! We love to wrap the presents and pack them under the tree, then sit around with a hot cup of coffee on Christmas morning watching the girls open their new stuff! Then, we head over to Grama & Papa’s for the rest of Christmas day, more presents, and a huge meal.

And with the Christmas spirit, we think of our family and friends, near and far, and we wish for a happy and healthy Holidays for all.


1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized