The Captains and the Kings Depart.

Sine Die!  The 2010 Session of the Florida Legislature is over, and I have got my wife back.  A drafter for House Bill Drafting, she reckons that this has been the most grueling session in all of her 21 years there.  She's so tired, poor thing, after 14 and 16-hour days at the end.

It is also the end of term at our two universities, FSU and FAMU.  Graduation ceremonies are Saturday morning.  Next week, tumbleweeds will be rolling down our (relatively) deserted streets, and the halls of the  Capitol, as Tallahassee enjoys a sleepy summer reprieve from lawmakers and college students.

I couldn't have hoped for better weather during my week off.  Every day was sunny, dry, and cool.  I felt restored, working outside most of the day, letting Claudius out for a romp at the end, showering, mostly having supper with Ronda, (in this I was surprised, but she was able to get away briefly every night but one), and spending my evenings reading until she returned home again from work.  I was able to get a lot of leaf-moving, pruning, and weeding done.  And then today, when no more than light showers were expected, if any, they gathered in late afternoon into a genuine soaker, still in progress now at 11, with distant, rolling thunder.

My Vespa ET-4 150 has been in the shop this week.  A troublesome, weak battery has had me putting the charger on nightly to ensure that it would start, every day ever since our severe cold spell in February.  It also needed a new rear tire and a general checkup.  I had bought a new battery last fall from All About Scooters, mainly because they are so much closer than the Vespa dealer here in town.  I was impressed by their customer service and by their focus on scooters.  Roy Smith, who owns All About Scooters with his wife, Susan, serviced my Vespa with diligence and an eye to cost.  It turned out the battery they'd sold me had a bad cell, and Roy gave me a credit toward a new battery.

They called me today to say it was ready.  I was stuck at home.  Ronda couldn't get away to give me a ride to pick it up, and they were going to be closed tomorrow.  Susan sent her son, Matt, to give me a ride.  We settled up, and I rode off on my refurbished, purring scooter.

I stopped by the library to get the sequel, Artemis, to Julian Stockwin's sea novel, Kydd.  It was ML's last day.  Tomorrow she starts at our Northeast Branch as manager, so I said my goodbyes.  I had brought my poncho with me, and as I left, the rain resumed in earnest, so I put it on for the ride home.

Stockwin's Kydd novels take a different tack from the other series of "wooden ship" novels.  Usually they chronicle the progress of a more or less privileged man from midshipman up through the officers' ranks to admiral.    Here, Thomas Paine Kydd is spirited away from his life as an apprentice wig-maker in an English country town by a press gang to serve  on a Royal Navy ship-of-the-line.  Encouraged by the experienced sailors to make the best of it, he decides to learn the trade and qualify as a seaman.

Kydd reads, um, "woodenly" at times.  It is a first novel.  But Stockwin has done a lot of research.  He wants to show what it would have been like for a man to be pressed into service in the Royal Navy in the 1790's.  He is out to restore the dignity of the working sailor, whose duties were complex, and required considerable training and skill.  It has often been said that sailors in those days were the "dregs" of society.  Stockwin, a veteran of the British and Australian navies, disagrees.  Sailors, he maintains, were proud of their occupation and traditions, and were valued by the officers, who relied upon them to sail their ships.  I like that.

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