A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty-One)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Once she has cut through three stems of dogweed she swims up with them.  On the surface she uses the isobue technique of the Ama.  She blows out whatever air she has left making a high pitched whistling sound.  She passes the dogweed to ‘One Eye’.  Taking in another deep breath she dives back down.   

Ten more times she returns to the surface with three long stems; each time making the high squealing sound.  There is no more dogweed nearby so she cuts off the stems of some seaweed instead.  The fiber of the seaweed will be made to make strings for the bows and repair rope for the sails and anchors.  The leaves will be used as salty herbs for ‘Unibrows’ soup to ward off scurvy.

On her twentieth time returning to the surface ‘One Eye’ shouts to her, “Full!”  ‘One Eye’ helps her on board as Zala and Chesah lean to the other side as counter balance.

Umi sits between Zala and Chesah to use their body heat to get warm as ‘One Eye’ puts more wood on the embers.

“Tomorrow, if weather is good, I teach Zala and Chesah,” Umi says as she helps the girls tie the stacks of dogweed and seaweed.

“When you’re ready ‘Ship Protector’,” ‘One Eye’ says as she passes around battered salted fish between sliced Hardtack biscuits.  She uncorks and hands Umi a clay jug full of beer to drink from first.

 “We try sushi tomorrow!” Umi says with a devilish laugh as she puts her kimono robe back on and ties it tight with the sash.   

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog twenty)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Umi sees ‘One Eye’ drops an anchor on the port side and another on the starboard.  Once the boat is gently bobbing more-or-less in place Umi slips her awabi-okoshi through her fundoshi or as ‘One Eye’ calls it, a chastity belt in case a dolphin tail male seeks her out.  The long handle of the awabi-okoshi was originally used by Ama to scrape abalone off surfaces.  She keeps it to scrape off whatever grows on the outside of the hull.  Next she slips a Nihonto Tanto knife through the fundoshi; a gift from her dying father after he fought off three of Barthadrow’s men.  She grimaces at the memory of him thrusting it hilt first towards her as blood poured out of his numerous wounds.  Memories of all the horrible things Barthadrow has done and caused makes her blood boil.  She spits into the water. 

Lastly she ties a thin but strong rope around her waist.  Next she ties the other end onto the handle of a wooden basket caulked so it floats.  At the bow of the pinnace ‘One Eye’ ties another rope through an eyehook a top the gunwale to the basket then places it onto the surface.

“One pull I’m coming up, two pull me up,” Umi reminds Zala and Chesah.

 She rolls her shoulders back and lifts her heels alternately off the bottom of the boat while taking in controlled breaths.  When it feels right she takes in a deep breath and dives into the water.

It’s cold but also refreshing as it covers her mostly naked body.  She doesn’t wear clothing because it absorbs water and captures air.  It also keeps the coldness in when she exits the water.

She’ll cut off long lengths of the dogweed first.  The hope is that the weed will keep both its strength and flexibility for the bows and arrows the Captain wants made.  The rope to the portside anchor is taught and near her.  As she cuts near the bottom of a dogweed stem with her Nihonto Tanto she feels a gush of water against her back.  She glances back but doesn’t see anything.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part four: Blog nineteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

As the Nagua moves beyond the visibility of the city Umi’s thoughts turn to the next day when she will dive for the wooded plants ‘Dizzying Blade’ wants for the bow and arrows.  “You will come on the boat with us tomorrow Zala and Chesah.”  She smiles at the others.  “The rest of you, we try next time.”

She hears the other girls grumble that they won’t be going.  Umi smiles at the sight of Zala putting her arm around Chesah and asking her if she’s excited about the coming morning.  Only a few of the girls are willing to swim.  Most are terrified of putting their head below the surface.  She chuckles under her breath at the memory of the ‘Harlot’ telling her, she would rather eat ‘Unibrow’s’ wormy fish meal, like they were forced to years ago, than learn to be an Ama.

The Nagua is anchored about a mile from the shore of an atoll.  Umi is wearing a kimono robe with images of the leaves from a sakaki tree stitched on.   She closes her eyes and takes in deep, even breaths of the salty air. 

She opens her eyes and sees ‘One Eye’ who isn’t currently wearing her eyepatch looking back at her from the bow of the pinnace with a lopsided grin.  “We’ll keep the embers going while you dive,” ‘One Eye’ says with as she swipes away one of the flying insects that live near the shore. 

Umi stares into the yellow sky.  Pelicans with their long thick beaks swoop nearby.  She can also see frigatebirds with their thin pointed beaks and long tails.  Nearby a yellow beaked masked booby, with its wings drawn in, dives into the water.  Most of the other birds she has seen on this world keep closer to shore.  She remembers the Captain saying she wonders if they’re originally from Earth and were resting on the ships when the whirlpools pulled them to this planet.

Before her, in a cast iron box made from one of the unused cannons, are the embers of a fire.  She’ll need the warmth when she leaves the water.  She undoes her sash and lets the sun shine on her mostly bare skin.  She ties a tenugui over her head to keep her hair out of her eyes.  She is already wearing a fundoshi below.  Over the side she can see the sunlight piercing the water.  About two fathoms down the tops of seaweed flow back and forth in the current.   Growing in-between the seaweed are the hard and straight stands of what the Queen of Pirates named dogweed.

To the stern of the pinnace sit Zala and Chesah rowing.  ‘One Eye’ is navigator.  Zala’s eyes are bright and observant.  Chesah appears a bit squeamish. 

“First Mate Olanis knows that if I tug the rope once, I’m coming up, but if I tug twice I’m to be pulled up,” she tells the girls.

“And if we see danger we tug twice, wait for a tug back from Umi, then pull her back to the surface like Crazy Bumbee would,” ‘One Eye’ adds.

Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and the importance of Communication, Teamwork, Praise, and Leadership that Earns Respect

Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and the importance of

Communication, Teamwork, Praise, and Leadership that Earns Respect

By Dan Watt, Fitness Trainer and Author

For years I had heard about Hell’s Kitchen and seen Gordon Ramsay on talk shows.  I didn’t really pay attention until became available on Prime Video.  I decided to see what it was all about. 

As I started watching Season One of Hell’s Kitchen my impression was that Chef Ramsay, who once played professional soccer, is one of those male soccer players who crumble to the ground, fakes being hurt and cries as he points an accusing finger at the other team.  I noticed he was allowed to swear at the contestants but if they swore back they were chastised.  It didn’t seem he understood if you dish it out you have to be able to take it. 

His attitude was also similar to how I imagine a captain of an ancient galleon would behave: terrible and all powerful.   As I continued to watch Season One and other seasons I realized the bathrooms must have a lot of liquid soap for Chef Ramsay and the contestants.  If I owned a swear jar on the show I would be very rich right now.  However, it’s better to relieve tension by getting it out by swearing than holding it in and exploding in violence.  The contestants get to express their true thoughts and feeling in separate interviews, suggesting Chef Ramsay isn’t afraid to be criticized outside of the kitchen.

The winning teams are always rewarded with amazing prizes that include visiting restaurants, helicopter and plane rides, and numerous activities, such as surfing.  Chef Ramsay becomes Gordon outside of Hell’s Kitchen and a much more enjoyable person to be around.  The prizes have at least two important purposes.  See what fun you can have if you work hard and succeed, and an introduction to fine dining with the introduction of wine and food tasting.  A good palate is extremely important to Chef Ramsay when he’s looking for a chef to run a restaurant.

Chef Ramsay also educates the contestants (and the viewer if they pay attention) by demonstrating how to make different dishes, such as crêpes.  He also shows his love and respect of the cooking industry by bringing in guest chefs to judge the food, and food critics to be included during dinner services.  Fire fighters, military personnel, kids and others are invited to breakfast or lunch, and in some of the shows, food trucks are used to serve construction workers.  There’s an interesting point made about what foods to serve; knowing your customers preferences leads to better sales and customer returns.  Type of work, what city, and time of day all can have a bearing on a customer’s food preferences.

For those who choose to look beyond the drama there is a great deal to learn watching Hell’s Kitchen.  As Chef Ramsay says in one episode, great chefs are imaginative, think on their feet, and understand the importance of combination, execution, and marriage of foods.  Using that knowledge they are also willing to take chances.

The importance of having a good palate and tasting food to make sure it’s the right food being served is drilled in constantly. 

Chef Ramsay has contestants wear blindfolds and headphones than gives them a variety of foods to taste in a competition between teams.  The point is a chef must have a great palate and be able to taste the differences between foods such as beef and chicken, and distinguish one cheese from another.

The contestants need to work as a team to prepare a plate of food properly.  That means calling out cooking times constantly to each other.  The contestants need to know how long it takes to cook chicken, beef, and pork to perfection compared to how long it takes to cook potatoes, broccoli, and garnishes properly so all of it can be served at the same time.

As a dreaded vegetarian I greatly appreciate that Chef Ramsay demands certain foods are not cooked together.  He also makes it clear mixing foods can be a health issue because of potential food allergies.  If food isn’t cooked correctly he’ll call the contestants up and tell them in the most colourful language why it isn’t.  If the contestants can ignore the yelling and name calling they’ll learn a tremendous amount about proper food preparation.

I also appreciate that he has contestants who lose a competition sort out recyclable food waste from non-recyclable and makes them aware of how much food is wasted when it can’t be served because it’s under or over cooked.

His decisions don’t seem to be based on who is the most experienced but on other qualities.  I second guessed whose jacket he would take and tell to leave Hell’s Kitchen until I started to notice a pattern.  He’s looking for who improves the most, who has the best palate, who works the best with others, who shows the greatest leadership qualities, and who shows the most passion to succeed.

The show is a reminder that during busy times there isn’t always time for niceties.  Minds are racing to remember orders, and how long to cook food at what temperature in unison with the other cooks’ preparations.  Hearts are pounding with exertion to get the orders delivered on time.  However, it’s also imperative to commend those who do a good job, show improvement, and to let go of anger and frustration once the orders are done.  The swearing is for effect on the TV Show.  Swear words will escape out of frustration or exhilaration but should be avoided using towards another individual.  However, it’s better than bottling up to let out as violence towards someone else, especially an innocent bystander.

The four vital factors I’ve been reminded of by Chef Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen are: communication, teamwork, praise when deserved, and a leadership quality that earns respect.

Stay Strong and Stay Safe!

D.W.

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part Four: Blog Eighteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

‘Ship Protector’ Umi stares over the starboard side of the Nagua.  The Captain insisted she only have five girls with her, including Zala and Aarini.  Zala and Aarini would have to learn the secrets of the Ama just as the Captain had insisted Umi teach her, ‘One Eye’, ‘Storm Caller’, ‘Wheel Turner’, and ‘Dizzying Blade’.  She knew, as the other leaders did that the Captain planned on obtaining another ship from the monster Barthadrow’s fleet.  That would mean splitting up the crew.  The idea both excited and saddened her.  This crew was her family and she knew the rest felt the same.

The other girls she chose included Chesah from the Philippines.  Chesah is short like Umi and grew up near the sea.  Next she chose Bayu from Indonesia.  She too is short.  Her final choice was Hayami, another girl from Japan.  All the girls are around twelve to fourteen.  Old enough to learn the ways of the Ama.  There were other girls she wanted to bring.  Amelie was born in Southern France.  Tall, lean and fearless but still needs maturity.  Arsema, from Eritrea.  Arsema is also tall and very clever.  Umi didn’t invite her because ‘Dizzying Blade’ has had her eyes on Arsema as an understudy.  ‘Dizzying Blade’ is the only gaijin who reminds her of the samurai that terrified her whenever they entered her village.

“Does it matter if we talk?” Chesah asks in a whisper.

“No.  However, maybe some of you remember when the Captain had a knotted rope attached to a cannon ball lowered towards the orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  At fifty fathoms the cannon ball went no lower.  Do any of you remember what happened?”  She asks with her eyes wide with mock terror.

“No,” all the sisters reply in unison.

“Something or things pulled on the lowered rope so hard,” Umi spreads her arms wide, “So hard that the ship nearly capsized.  We were in great peril!  That’s when Helmswoman Sadie ran up with an axe and with her great strength chopped through the rope.”  She peeks over the gunwale.  Through the water she can see the bright orange glow of a Deep Dwellers’ city.  “Look!”

The girls scramble to look.

“Let your eyes adjust and you’ll see things moving inside.  We have not been here in years so I could not show anyone before now.”

“There are tiny things moving inside,” Zala says, stretching her long body farther over the gunwale. 

“According to the dolphin tails the fish tails inter—inter-act with the Deep Dwellers, and say they are hugeous,” Umi says struggling with the English but emphasizing every word anyway. 

“Is it the only city of the Deep Dwellers?” Chesah asks peering even farther over the gunwale.

“No but it is the only one we see from the surface so far,” Umi says so all the girls hear her reply.  “The dolphin tails say there are many more but they are so deep their light never reaches surface.”

“Why don’t they come to shore?” Zala asks, as she too leans farther over the gunwale.

“The dolphin tails say the Deep Dwellers cannot survive above a hundred and fifty fathoms because there is not enough water above them to keep them alive.”  Umi sighs.  “Carrying a weighted stone I have never dived beyond ten fathoms.”

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Seventeen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

The deck is filling up with most of the girls.  Sadie hears ‘One Eye’ playing her mandolin as she instructs Aarini how to turn the wheel.  “Straight ahead, for the wind is directly behind us,” ‘One Eye’ instructs in a sing-song voice.

Umi is at the starboard gunwale with a few of the girls pointing out into the calm waters.

“Ship Protector Umi,” she calls out, “a word.”

 Umi says something to the girl and comes over to her.  “Mornin’ Master-at-arms.”

“Mornin’ to you as well.  Need more seaweed for the ‘Harlot’ to make bow strings.”

“I’ll get ready,” Umi replies, “as soon as we’re near the shallows.”

“Bugs and birds,” Sadie says with a groan.

“Aye, and all sorts of sea creatures,” Umi adds.  “I’d think the Deep Dwellers homes will be visible tonight.  Do you think you could put in a word with the Captain to let me show some of the girls?”

“Will do,” she replies.  “Pick the girls you want.  I’ll talk to the Captain first than teach some of these motley sisters how to fight and hoist the sails.”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com;

Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor;

Fire & Steel for the Medieval Rapier:  http://fireandsteel.ca/

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog Sixteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

She inhales the mixed scent of fish guts and baking bread once more than turns to one of the long tables where the ‘Harlot’ is chatting to Althea.  They’re making string from the kelp that ‘Ship Protector’ Umi brought out of the sea. 

“Grab the string and stretch your arms apart so it’s tight,” Sadie says to Althea.

Althea grimaces as she holds the string apart as hard as she can while Sadie pulls on it.  Turning to the ‘Harlot’ she says with a nod, “Not bad.  We’ll test it with wood in about a week from now.”

“The ‘Ship Protector’ will need to get us more,” the ‘Harlot’ says with a sarcastic grin.

“I’ll let her know,” Sadie replies.  “Betty’s your aunt and she’ll bake you a pie,” she says as a further compliment.  She turns towards the kitchen and shouts out, “I don’t want any bones in my soup this time Nippie!”

“Aye, aye ‘Dizzying Blade’,” Nippie shouts back with an accent no one’s been able to figure out yet.

As she steps out of the galley she hears Mesi cry out, “I’ve knicked me ‘self!”

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne or Joannegosling22@gmail.com

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fifteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fifteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Sadie can smell raw fish and baking bread as she steps into the galley.  In the very fore of the galley, past the few long tables and fixed chairs where the ‘Harlot’ and Althea are sitting together, she sees a single window with a wide serving ledge.  To the far right is the entrance into the kitchen itself.  She knows from helping Nippie out when she was younger that there’s a stove, and a pantry with flower, spices, and salted fish.  The kitchen also has a distiller, an oven, and grills.  

She hears Mesi complaining to Nippie about Janet hitting her wrist with a spoon instead of just telling her when she guts a fish wrong.  As she steps closer she hears Nippie say in her boisterous caustic voice, “Janet doesn’t talk she only sings.”  Sadie peeks through the window.  She sees they are gutting large fish that have the length of a pike but the shape of a wide mouth bass. 

Janet has her head turned slightly towards Mesi.  Janet is a tall girl.  She wears a mix match of clothing under a robin egg coloured apron.  The sleeves of her white cotton shirt are rolled up.  Although her shirt is worn loosely it still can’t hide her ample bosom.  Nor do the loose fitting brown capris hide her round hips.  Her hair is the colour of flax and escapes the plain olive green bandana that covers her head.  Her face is smooth and brown with large pouting lips.  The simple string necklace the ‘Harlot’ made for her dangles loosely from her neck.  The one with the tooth the Captain obtained from the young rascal, who tried to take Janet without her permission. 

Janet glances back at her and Sadie realizes that from a distance its Janet’s body that draws attention first, but up close, it’s the green iris of her eyes with the faint circle of brown around the pupils.  Janet received the best physical attributes from her Creole parents.  Sadie wonders what Janet would have been like if Barthadrow hadn’t captured her when she was a child.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Songs from Bard — Tessler the Jester

Tessler the Jester

The quaky wacky was no sappy

Though most found his comments obnoxious

If they had listened closer they would find sad truths

Intermingled with ironic humour

Quacky wacky was no sappy

He was a real man with a sense of vision

Telling his Lord of ensuing chaos

But the Lord only laughed and slapped him on the back

Quacky wacky could have been more tactical

Should have been less problematical

But should and could have planted their seeds

Poor Quaky must now act wacky forever more

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part three Blog fourteen)

A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates!  (Part three Blog fourteen)

By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris

Master-at-arms ‘Dizzying Speed’ Sadie stands beside Zala on the foc’s’cle with her mouth wide open in awe.  She’s completely engrossed in the fight between the tiny, busty Filipino girl Althea, and the tall wide hipped Egyptian girl Mesi.  The two girls are screaming at each other in a mixture of English and their ancestral language.  Suddenly Althea trips over a bucket.  Mesi grabs Althea’s hair and yanks Althea back to her feet.  Althea jumps to her feet smashing the crown of her head under Mesi’s chin.  Althea starts crying while holding the top of her head while she points an accusatory finger at Althea.  At the same moment Althea is rubbing her chin with one hand while pointing the finger of her free hand at Mesi. 

“Sir?” Sadie hears Zala says but waves her off.

Mesi is staggering and shifting her lower jaw side-to-side while Althea is pointing at the top of her head and crying while she shouts at Mesi.  Mesi punches Althea in the stomach with her thumb wrapped under her fingers.  Both girls cry out.  Althea is now holding her stomach and Mesi is rubbing her thumb.

“Shouldn’t you be breaking this up, sir?” Zala says, her voice a bit louder this time.

“But…,” Sadie says.

“They might hurt each other sir,” Zala warns her.

Mesi charges Althea with her head just as Althea slips on the wet deck.  They both crash into a very angry looking ‘Unibrow’ Nippie whose wielding a ladle.

“I’ve never seen such a horribly bad fight,” Sadie says in awe.  “Not even a pretend fight,” she continues as she climbs down to the deck.

“Great fight,” she hears ‘One Eye’ cackle across the ship from the Helm.

“Absolutely amazing,” Sadie agrees absent mindedly.  Her very concise mind is still pondering how two people could fight with such imprecision.  She knows some of the other girls are Egyptian and Filipino but none of them fight as horribly as these two.

“Mesi!  Althea!” she shouts out at them then after a moment of thought continues, “And Nippie!  Stand down!”  She walks briskly towards them.

‘Unibrow’ is snarling at the girls as she taps the spoon of the ladle against her palm.

“We wish to duel sir,” Mesi says with her chin held high.

“To the death,” Althea adds.

“The problem with that,” Sadie says in a quiet, mocking tone, “Is that you would probably kill yourselves instead of each other.  Mesi, you’re to go with ‘Cook’ Nippie and work with her and Janet in the Galley.  Althea, you’ll find ‘Harlot’ Thelma and help her make strings.  Now!”

She hears ‘One-Eye’ laughing from the helm.  “We could send them to Barthodrow if he wasn’t such a bilge-sucking rapescillion,” ‘One-Eye’ shouts.

“That would make it too easy to defeat him,” Sadie shouts back.  “Everyone’s got a talent.  Well met sailing sister, got to go and carve bows so they shoot arrows that sing like banshees.”

“Keep sturdy on your feet,” ‘One-Eye’ says as she turns the wheel counter clock-wise.

With thanks to Joanne Gosling (Navigator ‘Storm Caller’ Master Jo Anne): Joanne is an Interior Decorator who specializes in closets: Jgosling@calclosets.com Calclosetsjoanne

And Leah Weir (Helmswoman ‘Wheel Turner’ Synthia): model and cover editor

Fire & Steel (medieval rapier): https://fireandsteel.ca/