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We saw the wardroom, the Chief Petty Officers’ pantry and mess, with its perpetual POW/ MIA table to honor those still imprisoned or missing, the crew berths, sick bay and the galley.
The cots in Sick Bay actually looked comfortable, but the “racks” where the crew slept are indeed “racks;” three high, hung by chains with thin mattresses. The area where they manufacture torpedoes is next door to one of the berths, and torpedoes moved through the bunks on a regular basis.
The Engine Room
Laura introduced us to Shirley, the fore engine. This is pretty far below-decks (we were actually below the waterline). The steam pressure in the engine rooms reached 600 pounds per square inch and temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Engine workers often carried brooms; not because they were tidy, but because you could not see a steam leak, you could only hear it. You methodically waved around the broom until the straws of the broom-head sheared off; then you knew where the leak was. Better a broom than your arm.
The Hornet desalinated and distilled 900,000 gallons of salt water daily. The primary use was for the steam engines; cooking, drinking and showers were next. Modern aircraft carriers, with 6,000 people on board, desalinate about 1 million gallons a day.
Points of Interest
The ship had a huge galley, of course, a bakery, a laundry, a brig and so on but it also had a print shop. I should not have been surprised, but I was, a little.
Compared to the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers that hold 6,000 crew including flight crew, the Hornet, with 3500 people aboard, looks quaint and small, but when you are walking it or climbing up and down ships ladders, I have to say it seems plenty big. And my calves certainly think it was big enough.
Tribes of the Hornet
There was a crew of about 2500, a separate flight crew, and a group of Marines, the designated law enforcement group. Each group tended to be separate and in fact, the Marine space was off-limited and legally, the Marines could shoot anyone who encroached. To Laura’s knowledge, they never actually shot anyone
And the Ghosts?
Supposedly, the Hornet has 200 ghosts. Laura says it has been host to many “ghost shows” including Ghosthunters. I asked if she had any person ghost experiences. She said she hadn’t seen any apparitions, but one time when she was present a group did the experiment with the twist-on flashlights. The light would come on and off without human intervention, usually responding to yes/no questions. She saw this happen, and the lights responded to questions in a way that were congruent. Laura, scientific soul that she is, did not present an opinion, but, as she said, “I saw the lights. I carry a button flashlight now, not the twisty kind.”
I’m only two-thirds of the way through Embassytown, China Mieville’s newest novel. Reviewers will try to tell you it’s “about linguistics.” Don’t listen to them. There are linguistics in the book, sure, but that’s not what it’s about, or all of what it’s about, anyway. It is about language, and truth, and imagination, and addiction. People–well, beings, are addicted to each other in ways most of us could not imagine.
There is a lunar eclipse this solstice. My dad has been dead for several years now, and he suffered from profound dementia for three years before that, so I feel like he’s been gone for a long time, but I imagine him this solstice, standing outside on the deck of the home he shared with my step-mother Faith. It’s on a hill on Orcas Island, Washington. He would have his telescope set up. He’d probably be wearing the dark green sweater I got him for Christmas one year, and the navy blue Green fisherman’s cap Faith bought for him, and maybe a scarf my mom knitted. He’d be fiddling with the scope, watching the moon and its earthshadow, writing notes in a tiny notebook, notes that would be hard for anyone but him to decipher later. Periodically he’d mutter “Goddamn it,” or, if grandkids were around, “Dang it,” if something didn’t go just the way he wanted. But he would love the eclipse.
Dad and Faith visited one time when there was a lunar eclipse and we all sat in patio chairs on the front lawn, watching it. One other time they came down when there was a comet visible. The three of us walked over to the nearby regional park with our binoculars and searched through the sky until we found it.
Love you, Dad.
Winter solstice is supposed to be a celebration of family and another turn of the wheel of the year. The “yule” log represents a wheel, that’s what dedicated pagans will tell you. I think it’s another excuse to drink wine and party. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a fine thing. I do, however, find myself thinking about family and friends this time of year, mostly family members who have moved on. It isn’t depressing. It’s a chance to think about them and the impact they’ve had on my life.
My mom died when I was twenty-seven. That’s actually fairly young to lose a mother, although I didn’t know that then. For a long time, most of my thirties, actually, I didn’t think I got much from my mother, other than her body type. In my forties, though, I started realizing that I inherited, or learned, a lot from her. She loved nature and collected things (a bad habit I’ve retained) so there were always little bowls of sea glass or bits of driftwood, interesting seedpods or colored rocks. I have her sense of humor. She was a quiet leader who could take charge when she had to, but preferred to be behind the scenes if she could. I can relate to that. I’m a better cook than she was, but it takes an effort, because I inherited, or learned, her complete lack of interest in cooking.
Mom was a devout Catholic. When she was growing up, the Vatican still put out periodic lists of books that it recommended good Catholics not read. My mother and grandmother awaited the list anxiously. They would get a copy (from their priest, I assume), sit down to look at the reason the Pontiff had “banned” each book, and decide which ones they were going to read first.
My mother liked to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. When I was a lot older I figured out that this was so Christmas day was uninterrupted. When I was a kid, it was just what we did. I was always in that languorous state of almost-sleep, inhaling the incense, my half-open eyes dazzled by the glow of the candles and the colors on the altar; green, red, gold. It was like a dream, a dream with music, and is the closest I ever came to feeling any mythological power during a mass. We would come home and my dad would read us the story of the birth of Christ from the book of Matthew (I think, anyway, it’s the one everyone knows, with no room at the inn, shepherds tending their flocks by night, and so on). We would hang up our stockings and go to bed. I don’t know why that rather ordinary ritual seemed infused with magic now, but it does.
On winter solstice, I try to find a few minutes to light a candle and think about friends and family. Sometimes I pick a handful of rosemary sprigs from the plant out front and weave them into a circle. Rosemary is not historically accurate for winter solstice I’m sure, but it’s pretty, and it smells beautiful, and Shakespeare tells us it’s for remembrance, so there.
I have actually gone to two big winter solstice rituals, performed by a famous local pagan writer named Starhawk. They were both interesting but just too crowded and kind of, I don’t know, canned? Commercial? Not satisfying, or at least not as satisfying as circle of rosemary and a candle.
Enjoy your solstice. If you have clear skies, enjoy the lunar eclipse on Monday night. If you can, seize Solstice night as a night of rest, since it is the longest night of the year. Light a candle. Dream of old friends and loved ones. Pause. Breathe deep. Reflect. Then get ready for Christmas, the new year and the challenges of 2011.
So, as most of you probably already knew, the best day to go shopping for Halloween decorations is the day before Halloween. Everything was at least 25% off and one store had things marked down by 40%. That store, by the way, was across the freeway from Dianne’s, where I was headed to pick up my costume.
After I got it–and it looks great!–I stopped at a shop in eastern Santa Rosa called the Classic Duck. It used to be in a mall at the north end of town but it moved. It is frou-frou, which is a phrase I usually use to be denigrating, but not in this case. I love this store! They have Christmas stuff and autumn stuff and jewelry and Thanksgiving stuff and table stuff and stuff for your deck and stuff for gifts and stuff for you mother-in-law and. . . it’s a great shop.
And their Halloween stuff was on sale, so I went a little crazy. This may have been a case of post-costume euphoria, a rare but documented medical condition. Possibly I should not have been driving while under the influence of the costume.
I had a very helpful clerk who searched through the back storage room twice to find something I was looking for. Then he and I went scavening through the store and finally found one in a distant corner. He was ringing me up. I had bought a number of tiny Halloween ornaments. Yes, that’s right, ornaments. I was using one on a gift package and picked up a few more as hostess gifts for the party. He admired them. “My Halloween tree’s already filled, or I’d get a couple of these pumpkin ornaments,” he said.
Um, Halloween tree? I read horror, so for a second, that conjured up a very gruesome picture! Then I figured it out.
He said, “Do you have one? What would you use?”
“I don’t have one, but I guess I’d look at manzanita or a piece of driftwood,” I said. I used to have a driftwood grape root, and I hung my necklaces on it. It was great.
“Manzanita!” he said. “Of course, you’d need a permit. . .”
I could see the wheels spinning in his head as I gathered up my bags.
About the costume, here it is on a hanger. Here you can see the buckle a little better.
If you like high fantasy, urban fantasy, or alternate-time-line stories, and you have a Kindle, check out Blade’s Edge at the Kindle store. My friend Mark Schynert wrote and self-published this.
It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I remember some of the ingredients vividly:
- A compelling schizophrenic street-person hero
- Strong women characters
- An enchanted knife that is, well, let’s say soooo not Excalibur
- A convincing villain with a point of view you can understand, even if you don’t share it
- Mark’s dry-as-a-good-martini wit
- An interesting magical system
Mark is one of those irritating people who knows a lot about a lot. Whether it’s the military tactics or the visioning of how technology would develop in an alternate timeline, the world-building is detailed without being obtrusive—and yes, he has military tech and magic in the same book.
I really enjoyed this when I read it. I don’t have a Kindle yet, but if you do, I think the cost is about $3.00—half of what you would pay for a less original fantasy work bound in paper. Yes, Mark’s a friend, and this is not a “review.” It’s just a suggestion. I think you’ll enjoy Blade’s Edge as much as I did.
(PS–It’s the one with the simple gray cover with a dagger; not the live-model cover with the young woman who looks like she’s playing the violin.)
707.861.9030 • 9890 Bodega Highway Sebastopol, California
I’ve read glowing reviews of P-30, but never been able to stop there before. The location, on Highway 12 between Sebastopol and Bodega, is a little difficult to get into, it’s small, and they don’t take reservations for parties of fewer than five. Late Sunday afternoon seemed like a good risk, though, so Kathleen and I chanced it.
We got there about twenty minutes to five. It was open; the bar was serving but the dining room didn’t open until five. The friendly women behind the bar directed us to a set of sofas in one corner. The bar was narrow, running the length of the building, which is a cross between a storefront and a 1940s bungalow. We could see down the hallway that ran at right angles to the bar and while we waited, a man walked in from the back dining area with a bunch of just-picked chives in his hand, and went into the kitchen. The hostess asked us if we wanted drinks, and said they were printing the menus right then, but they’d have one ready shortly. A long, long dining table was set up in the bar, clearly ready for a large party.
The young hostess had blond hair with a flower in it, an outfit so fashion-forward it bordered on costume, a big sparkly necklace of iridescent silvery white beads and a friendly attitude. The other two servers also had flowers in their hair. I wondered if it was the uniform.
The hostess brought out the menus. At the top it said, “Not small plates, but not overly large plates, more of a grazing menu, as it were.” They had starters and main courses; the whole 1960s redux food that’s so popular right now like pork chops, fried chicken—with a waffle, very southern—and burgers. This is also called “comfort food” and to us aging boomers it conjures up home cooking as it should have been. It never was, but this is how we imagine we remember it.
They offered chicken noodle soup under Main Courses. That seemed, well, a bit lame. On the other hand, under the Starters menu, macaroni and cheese was listed. Before we were seated knew what I was going to order.
The dining room is at the back in the “house” part of the structure. We walked down the hallway past the tiny kitchen. From our table we could see the two patio areas and beyond them, a large garden. I don’t know that it’s attached to the restaurant but I assume so, mostly because of the chives.
I ordered a salad and the macaroni and cheese, and Kathleen ordered the soup. We shared the salad; bibb lettuce, candied pecans, gorgonzola cheese and ripe pear in a light vinaigrette. Our server was fast and friendly, keeping our bottle of water topped up and checking on us without being intrusive. Shortly after we finished the salad she came up and set a French coffee press in front of Kathleen. It was about half full of some dark liquid. I hadn’t heard Kathleen order coffee. “I’ll pour that for you in a minute,” the server said, setting a good-sized soup bowl in front of her. The bowl was filled with large chucks of glistening, succulent-smelling chicken, caramelized onions, wide fresh noodles, slender new carrots, greens and some other vegetables. A buttermilk biscuit perched on top like a beret. The server set my mac-and-cheese in front of me, and picked up the press. Kathleen quickly rescued the biscuit as the server poured the liquid, a rich, savory broth, over the chicken and vegetables. One of the most impressive soup presentations ever, and I’ve been to St. Orre’s.
Kathleen let me try the soup. The stock had multiple layers of flavor; spice, chicken, onion, some earthy herbs I couldn’t place. She said the chicken appeared to be roasted, not boiled. The server said that the noodles were home-made on the premises. “It’s my favorite soup,” she said.
My mac-and-cheese came in a ramekin about the size of a cereal bowl. It is hard to imagine how this could be a starter with an entrée to follow, unless it were for two. The first bite brought me the crunch of crumbled seasoned croutons and the thick layer of St Jorges white cheddar that enveloped the elbow macaroni. The cheese was tangy, the creamy sauce that permeated the whole dish a little less so, with bits of crunchy bacon scattered throughout. The textures varied from crisp to velvety, silken to crunchy, while the flavors revolved, tangy, peppery, sweet, salty, milky. It was perfect, and paired with the salad, a perfect meal for a cloudy fall day.
We ordered coffee. I thought it would come in the small glass press the broth had been delivered in, but instead our server brought out two silvery-colored contraptions that looked like something George and Jane Jetson would have drunk their pressed coffee from. “This needs to steep for two minutes,” she said, “And I’ll be back to pour.” Kathleen and I exchanged a silent oh, really? glance across the table. I decided that after three minutes, when she wasn’t back, we’d just press our own, but she was back!
“This gets labor intensive for you,” I said.
“Not really. I love these presses,” she said. “I didn’t like the other ones because they break too easily. This is a fun. It’s a fun place to work.”
It did seem like it was a fun place to work. The hostess came by a few minutes later and asked how the meal had been. She said the bar had gotten busy and crazy. She was young enough to be the daughter of either of us, but the conversation didn’t feel forced or obligatory. All of the serving staff seemed genuinely friendly and genuinely glad to be there. It just added to the pleasure of the meal. When we left we agreed that the bat was indeed busy; the huge party of twenty, and people two-deep at the bar.
Most reviews talk lovingly of P-30’s burgers, so some day when I’m really hungry I will go there and order one. On the other hand, fried chicken and waffle sounds intriguing too. And I haven’t explored their desserts yet. They are pricey, on the low side of expensive, if that makes sense, and I’m not enough of a foodie myself to know if they appeal to the foodies, or just the cool young people who drink Scotch and martinis, work in the City and eat beef. It seems to me that this tiny little eatery is big enough for just about everybody. I recommend it.