The Real Deal

It's kind of nice when things work out as well as hoped.

It started with a message: "So when are you going to invite me to go sailing on Minuet?" Which made me realize that a real-life invitation was in order to my digital friend Sharkey. After some date juggling back and forth, we settled on a plan: a sailing trip to Kingston, Ontario and the Limestone City Blues Festival.

Sharkey arrived on Thursday evening, and he was - ta da! - just like I pictured him! Of course, there have been some messages, some videos and a couple of phone calls along the way to flesh out his self-portrayal in pixel form. He had less to go on, mostly words both written and verbal, but I am happy to say that I portray myself honestly, and I was much as he expected.

The mystery man in all this was R., who neither blogs nor reads blogs. I've filled him in from time to time with information about the friendships I have made in my on-line world, but they are my world and my friendships. And Sharkey knew little about R. The two of them had no problems in finding topics of mutual interest to talk about. This particular friendship has now grown to include all of us.

The trip from Clayton to Kingston was an easy sail, four hours of sailing with the wind. We got down to Kingston in good time and set up our home-away-from-home at the day docks at Confederation Basin Marina. That's Sharkey clambering on board.

The view from the stern of the boat. Those windmills are going to be part of the landscape in this part of the world for the rest of my life.

We enjoyed some music in the park on Friday afternoon. A band I love, Hard Pushin Papa, was the first one we heard. This band is a trio led by Pat Johnson, a songwriter who specializes in a 21st century mentality - he has written blues about Internet addiction. You can here some of his tunes here. We also heard Agent Blue, Sharkey's favorite band of the weekend.

There was also a foray for baked goods and cheese at Pan Chancho, and a wonderful dinner out at Aroma Restro and Winebar. Mmmm, I had Ontario wine and grilled pickerel, and was a very happy lady. R. is looking pretty happy here, too.

Lots of rain Saturday, and the afternoon concerts in the park were cancelled. We went out for lunch at an Irish pub, Tir Nan Og, in a large company of fellow boaters. We have been meeting up with a couple named Sam and Neil for years now at various marinas in the area. We sailed past them earlier this summer, circled around each other and called out from our boats, and confirmed that we would all be at the Blues Fest this year. Sam is a networker par excellance, pulling together groups of people where-ever she goes. I knew why we have always like each other so much when Sam and I met up in the park and both pulled out iPhones to exchange information.

Saturday night was the big concert under the stars. The sky cleared, and the party was on. The headliner was Shemekia Copeland. Earlier that week I had heard her tune "I'm Never Going Back To Memphis" on The World Cafe, and thought Wow, she is gonna be good. She was, though just a few clicks too loud. If these bands could just dial it back a wee bit, their sound would be much clearer and less distorted. She did the Memphis tune. Yeah. Her climax, though, was the tune "Ghetto Child". At the end, the band took it down low, and she stepped away from the mike, and wailed the chorus to the sky above. We heard every note.

We then trucked way down the road to hear the Chris Chown band. We try to catch him every time we go to the Blues Fest. As we walked into the bar, a couple of women outside told us, "the guitarist in this band is HOT!". R. and I said, yeah, we KNEW that. This young man has been playing professionally for more than a decade, and is totally at one with his guitar. He can do Jimi Hendrix tunes with style, conviction and credibility, and has some stunning parlor tricks with his guitar, like playing it behind his back. I bought a CD during the break and asked him to sign it. He said he recognized me from past audiences. Well, that just about made the whole weekend for me. Sam later said in an email, "Chris is a charmer", and that took me down a peg. It could be he says that to all the ladies who ask for his autograph who tell him they have heard him in the past.

Sunday we decided to take the long way home, via Lake Ontario and entering the St. Lawrence at its mouth. The weather was gray and windy and cool and threatening rain, and the guys in the party were in the "bring it on" mood. We beat our way through the chop and into the teeth of the wind to get out onto the Lake. I would have been just fine, except I had to go below to use the head. Motion sickness took the edge off the thrill for a while for me. I did recover as we had a fine sail on the lake, where we got to enjoy a beautiful long reach. We sailed 42 miles.

Sunday evening the mood was tired and happy. Even the two chatterboxes were quiet. Guess who they were? And we saw a rainbow on our way home.

And Monday morning, we all returned to our regular lives.


  1. I am so jealous ! Sounds like a perfect time , all the things I enjoy . Someday ~!


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