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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Retired First Mate Turned Author

In Paperback and eBook

While we lived on Nothern Star, I learned that there are many people living on boats who write. Some live part-time on the water and some, like me, no longer live aboard a boat but still identify with that lifestyle and appreciate that network of friends. There is a wonderful Facebook group just for us called (WWSWW) Women Who Sail Who Write. There were 786 members last time I checked. It's a great group of women.

An update for them and everyone else about what I've been writing since CoVID barged into our lives. I wrote a historical novel called Driftless. The title may lead one to think that it's about our sailing life, but it is not. If this is disappointing, I am sorry. It was, however, the book that I needed to write and I'm receiving very good feedback about it. It's about mental health treatment in the 1940s, specifically in rural Minnesota and the old Rochester State Hospital. Driftless also won the 2021 Writer's Digest Self-Published eBook Award in the category of Contemporary Fiction.  

It's been two years and four months since we left Northern Star on the hard at Jabin's Yachts in Annapolis. We made her shiny and clean, and with some melancholy, hoped she would find new owners who would take good care of her and enjoy her within the next year, hopefully

And then CoVID arrived. Remember where you were when it so rudely moved in? We had just moved into an apartment in Memphis. We'd only met a few people in our new land-life community when we were thrust into learning a new vocabulary and with it, the world rapidly changed. 
On the ICW

Those of our sailing friends that were still on the water scrambled to get settled in a country or island where they could safely stay for an unknown period of time. They sailed as fast as they could to reach those places before the borders closed. Some went to Grenada. One couple was in Dominica and was not allowed to get off their boat for a very long time. Locals brought food out to them. Another couple was "stuck" in Portugal for four months. Before we say, "lucky for you," they weren't allowed to travel anywhere either. It would have been the same for us had we gone on to Central America, instead of the U.S. when we did.

 There we were, transplants in Memphis wanting to start our land life in a new place. What we found was a "new reality." So much terminology. There were hot spots,  "essential" workers, Corona "parties" (for those who took a "light-hearted" approach to the pandemic), spikes, variants, refrigerated semis--mobile morgues, mass burials, lock-downs, stay-at-home orders, closed borders, empty shelves, and ZOOM meetings. Airplanes were empty for a time because the borders were closed and as it turned out, not all business meetings have to be in-person. America's carbon footprint decreased for a time.

Our new home base on land

The first shortages took us by surprise: hand sanitizer, face masks, ventilators, N95s, ICU beds, toilet paper, and various other things, but what became most alarming was the shortage or rather, the absence of vaccination. 

Even big businesses developed or expanded strategies to keep things running: online orders expanded everywhere, curbside pick-ups, no-contact deliveries, vet's offices take the dog inside while you wait in the car, paper menus replaced with QR Barcodes, streets were even blocked off to enable outdoor seating in Chicago and elsewhere. Customer crowding was reduced by taping 6-foot markers on floors. I don't know what's going to happen with all the empty office space around the country, but I am glad there is a little less traffic on the roads.

Drawn to the water. Gulf Coast 2022
People have been creative. They've developed strategies to get along at home during our new normal. Some were unavoidable changes: they worked remotely or became unemployed, resumed full-time parenting, became product hoarders, sewed face masks for others, and developed businesses that were not needed before CoVID. Graduation "parties" became graduation "parades" in cars. Many people threw themselves into outdoor activities: biking, hiking, RVing, kayaking, boating, hot tubs, camping, and even sailboating.

Because of CoVid, Northern Star sold faster than we'd have expected. Good news for us and if CoVID has had any positive side-effects, it may be that the pandemic has made people think about doing things they'd always wanted to do and hadn't gotten around to it. 
Our Border Collie in Lake Michigan.

The new owners are good people and very excited about sailing and about Northern Star. They even decided to keep the name which I think is pretty cool. CoVID did make it difficult for them to take possession of the boat, however. They are from the west coast of Canada. Non-essential travel outside Canada was not allowed for quite some time. Thus, they'd owned the boat about a year before seeing it for the first time.

As my photos suggest, we are still drawn to bodies of water. Not a day goes by that I don't spend some time remembering life aboard Northern Star.


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pinterest Board Accompanies Historical Novel, Driftless

Driftless is an historical novel. As such, I have attempted to represent the place and period as much as possible. As a companion to my new book, I have made a Pinterest board to illustrate something of the time and the setting for this story.  Rural southeast Minnesota in the 1940's and 50's. 

A family dairy farm in 1948 is the primary setting of the book, Driftless. The farm lies atop Hawk Ridge (fictitious name) within the southeastern MN bluff country and is part of the Norwegian-American community there. The family in this story milk Brown Swiss cows, raise pigs, chickens and they use workhorses to farm. Small children roam the farm and play in the woods barefoot. They attend a one-room country schoolhouse in rural MN

Visit the above Pinterest link for more photos depicting the farm life of Driftless

Blogger Writes Historical Novel, Driftless


The paperback version of Driftless is finally available!  Yay!  I am so glad, and so thankful to my editor and mentor, Deb Akey, for all her work despite CoVID. She's my hero. See Amazon link below author's photo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Author, Ardys Brevig Richards, grinning after receiving 

the first paperback proof of Driftless. A second proof 
followed, and finally the paperback was published 9/01/2021.
Order eBook or paperback through Amazon. Link is below.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Two Happiest Days

There’s an old saying that boaters like to say. It goes like this, “The two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day she buys a boat and the day she sells it.” A man said that to me yesterday. I answered noncommittally, “hmmmm.”

I can go along with most pithy sayings, but that one I’ve never liked.  First of all, I think that the saying makes too many assumptions about me. I’ve never been fond of sayings that demand wholehearted agreement.  I don’t want anyone to know what I will say, before I say it.

In Minnesota, for example, a common saying is, “Well, is it cold enough for ya?” Clearly, the correct answer is, “Oh, ya, it’s pretty darn cold, isn’t it?” Having a touch of rebellion left over from adolescence, I have tried going with a different kind of response, “Well, I actually like the cold…good for cross-country skiing,” or some such thing.  People just look at me funny after that, with one raised eyebrow that I interpret to mean, “O-K. You. Are. Different.” (“Different” in Minnesota-speak means something more than just a “variation from the usual.” No, in Minnesota “different” means something that the speaker is not in agreement with, is displeased by, or finds unappealing. Not to be confused with “unique” or “creatively inspired.”

Here’s what I would say about the two happiest days of a boater’s life.  The two happiest days of a boater’s life are the day she moves onto the boat (filled with great expectations of travelling by wind and water and in so doing, seeing things to be amazed by) and the second would be the day on the water that was so perfect that she couldn’t help but say these words aloud, “Now this is why I live on a sailboat.”

I’ve had both of those days already.  Many times.

Buying the boat was frankly, a little scary for me.  I had committed myself to the plan, but the reality of buying the boat felt enormous. And moving aboard was nearly a year after the purchase. Moving aboard was a whole lot better than the purchase. We’d retired by then and made all the arrangements to live aboard. It was exciting!

Having it sold will be a relief, I’m sure, so that we can move ahead with something more permanent on land. But that’s not the same as being the happiest day. And moving off the boat is definitely not the happiest day.

We are in the thick of that moving off process now. Our boat is in a slip at Bert Jabin’s Yacht Yard in Annapolis. We’ve rented a 5 X 10’ storage unit in Annapolis so that we can box up and remove every personal item that we’ve been carrying around with us on the water.  During this process, my husband has told me many times, “Just throw away anything that’s junk.” The thing is, I already did a lot of that over the course of the last year onboard. The physical sensation of tossing something into the trash barrel seems to comfort my spouse, however, so I agree now and then that he may discard something that I wouldn’t exactly call junk, but that I’m sure I can live without. I think it’s like a “symbolic cleansing” of the soul to discard things. Anyway, we did find some things that we gifted to others like child-sized life jackets, reading books, and a variety of Chart Guides to the Caribbean, which we gave to friends.  That felt good.

As of today, there’s little left on the boat, and a lot in the storage unit here. We have another storage unit is Duluth (10 X 20’) that is pretty well filled up. Our belongings in there will stay there until we figure out where we will live permanently. For the winter, we are going to rent a furnished apartment in Memphis. See how it feels to live there until the boat sells.  With a visit to Minnesota now and then.

This week, we moved off the boat for the very last time. Although we still have workmen coming to take care of some minor maintenance issues prior to putting on the market, and though we are still working on cleaning everything inside and out, and polishing all the brass, and the stainless, and fiberglass, we must move off because of two important things that will happen. One is that it’s late in the season and the boat must be winterized. Once that happens, we can’t live aboard because there will be no water. The other thing is that our boat broker was scheduled to come aboard Friday  to photograph the interior of the boat. His advice was, “Make it shiny,” so that’s what I’ve been working on. Plus some canvas repairs. Carl has tackled some things that will never shine no matter what…such as the bilge. Anyway, we can’t be living on the boat when it’s photographed. It must be pristine, so that means minus the detritus of Carl and Ardys’ habitation.  

For the short-term remainder of being in Annapolis,  we are renting  a Winnebago RV. It’s an older Winnebago and we won’t be driving it anywhere.  We’re just sleeping in it, while it sits in the backyard of an older couple (okay, just a little older than us) here in Annapolis. It’s an economical alternative to an AirBnB.  Should be interesting. I’ve never stayed in an RV, and certainly not in something that’s even smaller than our sailboat. While I do not have great expectations about the RV, we are already accustomed to narrow traffic lanes in our living quarters, so we should be able to take that in stride.  Once in the RV, we’ll start researching furnished apartments in Memphis.  I’m thinking about an industrial loft apartment, something without internal walls. Something completely out of the ordinary, you know what I mean?  Someplace where I would never think of living.