Category Archives: Stuff that Grows on Docks

My Love of Pockets

Stuff that grows on docks (not really) part VII

I guess I have a thing for pockets. I was mining my notebook for nuggets of entertainment, humor or trivia (slim, very slim) when I came across this little bit about things I carry in my pockets (Elmo undies, sleep caps, dog poop bags, tissue).

A Pocket for Corduroy was my favorite book as a child (so glad I could solve that little mystery for you).

There are times in life when pocket space is at a particular premium, like when I travel. When Paul and I were on our 8-month, round-the-world honeymoon, my pockets were always stuffed. In hot climates I carried a sweat rag. I carried room keys, luggage locks, bits of paper with addresses and locations, translations for cab drivers, bus tickets. The most valuable tool was the compass that Paul carried. We both have a terrible sense of direction. We got very good at reading maps, retracing our steps and communicating with locals in hand gestures and puppetry when all else failed (little games of charades all over the world!). Anyway, where was I?

Yes, parenthood is another one of those times when pocket space is at a premium. There are snacks to carry and sippy cups, barrettes and beads that are pulled out of hair on long car rides. There are little toys, mini monkeys that little girls get from coin machines at diners where their daddies take them. There is lip balm for the chapped-lip types like myself. There are napkins and used bandages and some unstuck stickers in case a certain little girl uses the potty. You get the idea. There’s a lot of stuff to carry but that’s not my point. There’s another point I’m getting to here…

The most valuable pocket tool of all time: the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “dirtiest” and “cleanest” conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The top of the list contains produce that, even when grown conventionally, doesn’t carry a heavy load of pesticides. The bottom of the list contains the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. You can lower your pesticide intake by 4/5ths if you avoid the conventionally-grown versions of the 12 most contaminated items on this list.

Take a look. Do you see peaches, apples, strawberries and blueberries at the bottom? Berry season is here and the peaches, the peaches are coming. Print it off. You don’t really have to carry it in your pocket but I would recommend carrying it in your purse, or your wallet, or wherever else you carry things because it’s important.

On Not Being Shipwrecked

Stuff that grows on docks part V.

Doug and I have been racing small sailboats on and off together for about twelve years, since right after I moved back from Chicago, a punk kid talking trash about roll tacks and gybe angles. (No, you don’t need to know what these things mean to understand this post, just appreciate how those words sound together.)

We went through a period where we bickered like teenage sisters – yelling at each other at starts and mark roundings, anytime things got a little stressy. Then something happened. Maybe it was maturity. Maybe we’d learned how to communicate from our significant others. Maybe we started talking to each other on and off the water. Maybe it was all of these things.

He’d tell me what he expected as the skipper, the decisions I should make, the information he needed about wind shifts, compass headings and fleet position. I told him how much notice I needed and the tone of voice I required.

We’d just started the sailing season five years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer. My oncologist told me I should try to keep doing things that brought me joy, even while (especially while) I was in chemo. Since I sailed every Tuesday night, I scheduled chemo for Wednesday mornings so Tuesdays would be my best, strongest, least nauseous day. I marched through the summer, a freaked-out skeleton, covered in sun screen and topped with a wide-brimmed hat. Sailing was, and has always been, my thing. It was one of the few things I held on to.

I don’t remember talking about cancer on the boat. I couldn’t. I had to sail. When we’re on the boat it’s all about wind pressure, sail trim and right of way. It‘s complete immersion that demands physical and mental devotion. It was my only escape, the only time when my long-term survival drifted to the back of my mind. I didn’t miss a single night that season.

I happened to be having coffee with Doug this winter when his doctor called to tell him he had Medullary Thyroid Cancer. We talked and emailed over the following weeks and months through his surgery and follow up scans and blood work, about the world of cancer in general and his cancer in particular. Our diseases were different but the ever-present fear of recurrence is now something we share.

The 2010 season started a few weeks ago. Doug is through with treatment and cancer-free. He’s light a thyroid now, his upper body strength isn’t what it used to be, and his vocal cords were jimmied enough during surgery that he has a hard time speaking loudly, but we were out there. We didn’t talk at all about tumor markers, scans or surgeons, only about lifts and headers, lay lines and mark roundings. We spent some time working on the coordination of our roll tacks – pushing all our combined weight to one rail to turn the boat then jumping to the other side to flatten as the boat accelerated. Even when our coordination was completely off, everything felt right. We were doing exactly what we should be doing, watching the wind move across the water, and holding down the rail of that boat.

Too pretty for just one picture.

Good News for the Hystericals

Stuff that grows on docks (or doesn't anymore) part IV.

Breaking news: John Oliver of the Daily Show reports chilly neck breezes to be the leading killer of British people.

I could write a post about the importance of scarves or, as John Oliver argued, ascots, for everyone, not just the British. Some days it seems like almost anything can be proven hazardous or healthful if the right study is conducted by the right (or wrong) people.

But I’m not going to write that post because I can write about this: last week, President Obama’s cancer panel  filed a report stating that the contribution of chemicals and pollutants to the growing rate of cancers has been “grossly underestimated.” New hope and validation in the land of the hysterical.

The report also said that “With the growing body of evidence linking environmental exposures to cancer, the public is becoming increasingly aware of the unacceptable burden of cancer resulting from environmental and occupational exposures that could have been prevented through appropriate national action.” Appropriate national action… That would be so awesome.

This from a Washington Post article: “Children are particularly vulnerable because they are smaller and are developing faster than adults, the panel found. The report noted unexplained rising rates of some cancers in children, and it referred to recent studies that have found industrial chemicals in umbilical-cord blood, which supplies nutrients to fetuses. ‘To a disturbing extent, babies are born ‘pre-polluted,’ the panel wrote.”

The end result was a recommendation that the government overhaul the laws regulating the chemical industry. Wouldn’t that be something? 

Go to Bed

I give the people what they want - stuff that grows on docks part III.

I was thinking about my last update when I came across this New York Times post reporting that people who sleep more eat less. Specifically: when a group of men slept 8 hours they consumed 22% fewer calories than they slept only 4 hours. In case you weren’t already inspired enough.

I’m going to bed now.  You should too.  

Suspense (and BPA-free Canned Tomatoes!)

I know you’re all dying for another weekly installment in the stuff that grows on docks series. I did a lot of crawling around on slippery wood to get these pictures. People thought I was crazy, but I think I got a few good ones. You’re all in for a real treat.

Do you see how the moss follows the wood grain on that top plank?

In other news, there’s an interesting conversation about how to avoid BPA in canned foods going on here in the comments section. Rachel provided a source for BPA-free tomatoes. Thank you Rachel! Of course, they’re not organic. Sigh.

I made this for dinner on Monday. It was really good. I made enough for two dinners but Josie and I ate all the mushrooms the first night. I guess I should make more mushrooms. Maybe I could find some growing on docks and harvest them.

Oh, and look here, I’m famous. Me, Wednesday night, just after finishing my photography expedition.

Who’s in Charge Here?

A perfect start to the sailing season

Josie was sick today so I didn’t write the stuff I’d hoped. But I did manage to make it to the first night of racing on the lake, and I did manage to take a picture of these ferns growing between the slats on the dock. I think maybe I’ll start a new series of photos called: Stuff That Grows on Docks. I’ll make a book and sell it.

Dock ferns

Hey all you gardners, anyone know what this is?

Mystery plant

You remember that green carnival on gardening that I said was going to take place on April 5, well it was posted today (you should really fact check my work I’m totally unreliable). Anyhoo, apparently Anna at Green-Talk thinks maybe I’m some kind of plant identification expert. I hate to let people down. Can you help me out?

I’m off to work on my new shit that grows on docks collection!