Scuba Diving Class 2 – Two Open Water Dives

This is Part 2 in a Series. Read Part 1 HERE.

Did I mention how terrified I am to scuba dive? No? Well, rest assured that I told my instructor. And Zach. And Kate, the other student diving with us. Here I am, yesterday morning, having problem after problem with pool gear. Mask too tight, respirator too difficult to breathe through, can’t get properly weighted. Bleh. Still. Not giving up yet.

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Then we spent time calculating nitrogen concentration in one’s body, safe dive times, etc. I liked this because it was math-y, and also showed that dive sickness is avoidable, and not just a matter of chance circumstance. We got onto the boat for a 40 minute ride out to Sand Key, part of the coral barrier reef 7 miles from Key West. I cannot imagine a prettier day on the water. Calm and glassy and teal.

The crew had the tanks all lined up.

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We squeezed into wetsuits and hoods. This is Zach making his “THIS IS AWESOME” face.

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This was the view off the side of the boat. Those greeny patches? They’re corals 20 feet below.

1-pre dive water view

My nerves kicked in while strapping up. I actually had to put on a ton of gear and then just JUMP off the side of the boat. It took a full 2 minutes of hyperventilation on the “gangplank”, and ultimately I asked Rick, the first mate, to push me off. Once in, I had a bit of a panic, until Zach saw a loggerhead sea turtle 20 feet away on the surface, and I realized that I needed to get under that water. Here’s a bit of bubbly surface panic, but check out those fish! They kept coming close, giving me curious side-eyed looks:

2 surface panic 2

I clutched the rope, all the way down to 5 feet, adjusting and readjusting my mask, my respirator, and finding all my gauges. I hovered there with Duane, the instructor, while Zach sort of paddled around nearby, getting his bearings. I realized I needed to cry, and then prompltly discovered that there is no crying in scuba diving. I surfaced, jittery, breathed a bit (but didn’t cry!), then went back down. Slowly, slowly descending to 16 ft, whimpering and grasping at my teacher’s jacket, bug-eyed with terror.

2-dive bug eyed terror

Duane had a tablet for communicating, so he wrote encouraging things like “slow down, you’re doing fine” and “no drills yet, this is the fun part”:

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It took me ages to relax and let go of that rope, and then I was only willing to swim in circles around it. Finally, I calmed down and we set off to see all sorts of fishies and corals.

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Zach gave me the camera, which was soothing, and took my mind off basic breathing. Time was almost up, so we went to the back of the boat and rested with our knees on the sandy bottom. Zach did his drills, taking out his respirator, getting it back in, and clearing the water from his mask:

2 respirator

We surfaced and I said something I never thought I’d say “I didn’t want to come back up.” We climbed aboard the Sea Eagle and the crew switched up our gear for fresh tanks.

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Then we cruised to our next spot. I noticed that my hands were really itchy and tingly. Duane said this was from hydra stings and fire corals that grow on the ropes. A good lesson…I won’t be clutching the rope next time. The second plunge was much easier, though I still asked Rick for a tiny push; it’s psychologically pretty difficult to jump in with that much gear on. It just seems impossible that you’re going to float.

On this dive I got comfortable faster, and did my own drills of taking out my respirator, tossing it behind me, relocating it, and putting it back it. Then we just cruised and swam and took pictures of pretty things. Our coral reef is gorgeous.

2 reef

I didn’t think I could do it, truly. Zach says he knew I was capable, despite all my worries, because he’s seen me work through all kinds of fears.

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A brave new adventure! Two more dives next week, then I’ll be a card-carrying, PADI-certified open water diver. This time, I can’t wait to go back under. Zach was glad to send his 20s off with a bang. Happy 30th birthday today, mister!

4 after diving

Scuba Diving Class 1 – Pool Time

This Friday is Zach’s 30th birthday, and in a few weeks, my 38th. So we decided to get scuba certified, something we’ve been talking about for at least a year. Let me just be clear that I am scared to death of scuba diving.

Yesterday morning, Zach had to take off his mustache.

shaving to scuba

Then we biked over to the Captain’s Corner dive center, and found this behind a white picket fence:

scuba path

We waited patiently for our instructor to arrive:

waiting to scuba sara

waiting to scuba zach

After paperwork and intros, we watched videos and reviewed text for a few hours. We took a stretch break and popped over to a new Italian coffee shop that is open until 10 ish at night. Newly established, it’s the only late-night coffee shop in town! The delicious latte helped us power through the rest of lessons.

Then, it was time to squeeze into wetsuits and gear up for a pool dive.

zach squeezing into scuba wetsuit

Turns out that one wetsuit wasn’t warm enough for either of us, so we both put on a balaclava-looking layer.

For the first 10 minutes, I struggled against having my mask flood with water whenever I took out my respirator and put it back in. Duane, our instructor, got me a smaller mask and I was OK.

sara scuba ok

Then, I struggled trying to sink to the bottom, so Duane added more weights. Here’s a video taken about 45 minutes later, after I stopped panicking and finally caught on:

Zach went diving for the first time last year in Israel, and he was a natural.

zach in the scuba pool

But needed Duane’s help getting out of the heavy gear!

heavy tank zach

A friend had the Boogedy for the afternoon, so after dive class we took ourselves to Santiago’s Bodega, one of my favorite restaurants in town.

Happy Birthday to us!

santiagos after scuba

I went home and the real panic attacks started during the huge lighting/thunderstorm we had last night. I kept imagining all the horrible things that could go wrong! I’m not giving up yet, though, because I haven’t even seen any good stuff. The bottom of a pool isn’t exactly thrilling, but I’m sure seeing dolphins, sharks, fish, and coral will be!

Dive Class 2 happens tomorrow. First pool time, then books, then our first open-water dive. I’m not so sure about this yet….

Cashmere Heart

I’ve been wanting to make this anatomically-inspired heart for a while now. This great pattern can be found on Ravelry and Knitty. I used Artyarns Cashmere 1-ply from a previous lace project. So soft, it’s like knitting with water.

My friend Paul is dating the nicest man, Christopher, who is a physician in Seattle. He happened to visit town while I was knitting this and he told me that this heart is the size of a 12-year-olds.

I think this is supposed to be the ventral aspect (maybe?).

heart 1

Which makes this the dorsal aspect?

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I knit this for a friend back in Salt Lake City, a lovely woman I used to work with. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I wanted her to know how much I love her.

May trip to Chicago

At the beginning of May, we headed up to Chicago so that Zach could go to a work conference. We went early in order to visit his sister and her family over the border in Indiana for a few days. Here are some photos of our adventures.

Our first visit to Lake Michigan. The Boogedy couldn’t believe that water got that cold without being ice.

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Zach and The Boogedy and Cousin J jumped all over the giant dunes at Indiana Dunes State Park.

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We went for a short hike at Coffee Creek, where we found an earthworm and offered Zach’s sister Sarah $50 to eat it. She declined on the grounds of being vegetarian. Later, though, she confessed that worms just give her the heebie-jeebies and it was all she could do not to gag at the mere thought.

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I picked dandelions during a walk through the neighborhood and braided them into a sticky crown for Prince Charming.

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The next evening we went back to the lake with the whole family and searched the pebble zone for perfect “skipping stones.”

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I can do it:

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But Zach has better…style:

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After Zach left for the Windy City, that left me and the Boogedy with a few days to spend with the cousins.  We went to iCream, where you can design your own ice cream. You choose your base (ice cream, non-fat, soy, yogurts), your favorite flavor, your favorite color (it’s very popular to choose the “wrong” color for a familiar flavor), and toppings. Here is the Boogedy, and cousins S and J, waiting for their treats. The little boys are thrilled. Anyone with a teenager knows that the big kid is playing video games.

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Here the worker is adding the custom mixture to the Kitchenaid. On the left you can see the vapor from the addition of Liquid Nitrogen (!), which freezes the ice cream fast.

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I chose Key Lime with graham crumbs on top, dyed purple. You know, because that’s just not right. I got the serious jitters from this snack. And I mean bad. I wonder how much sugar or chemicals this had! Aside from the fun-factor, I wasn’t impressed at the deliciousness.

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After the treats, Sarah and I took the boys to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which was very nice. I loved taking a spring vacation. Before I moved to the tropics, spring was always my favorite season. Nowadays, I don’t get to see tulips, daffodils, and chartreuse willow trees. It was lovely!

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Sarah drove us home via the scenic route, along Lakeshore Drive. She used to have an apartment in the John Hancock building, the one with the two antennae.

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These boys are the giggly-est, and did great on all car trips.

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Sarah, Todd, and I hung around drinking Lattes (from Todd’s super-fancy espresso machine) and Greyhounds (fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and vodka) and letting the kids play. We’ve known each other for about 18 years, and it’s always fun to catch up.

On our last day of vacation, we all headed back into town to meet up with Zach and walk through Chicago. We loved The Bean, though I kept losing track of my kid. It was very disorienting.

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Then, we walked along the Magnificent Mile to the John Hancock building, where we rode the elevator to the 96th floor for drinks! I look relaxed in this photo but I was WRECK. I don’t care for heights and the view was, literally, breathtaking.

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I love visiting family. Thanks for hosting us Sarah and Todd! I am looking forward to a big family reunion in scenic Southern Utah later this month, and short jaunt afterward to Texas to visit my sweet mom and sisters.

Chicken Fight at the Blue Angels!

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Here we are: me on Zach’s shoulders and the Boogedy atop Diana a few weekends ago at the Blue Angels Air Show!

The air stunts were awesome and amazing and superlative, but my camera was no good at capturing them. If you want to see great shots, try this facebook link for the Key West Naval Air Station. The views of the Keys from their planes are the best!

After watching the show, the Boogedy and I jumped on the bungee trampolines. Back flips! Double back flips! This was great fun. Then I got off and realized I was a little dehydrated, overheated, had craned my neck to the sky for the last hour, and hadn’t done any situps in…um, forever.  My head and abs were so sore.

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The kid figured out how to do flips immediately and had a blast. HE never complained about any pains at all.

archo jumparoo

Cabled Sweater for Baby L

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Today is Baby L’s first birthday! Happy birthday smiley guy. This post is really LATE. These pictures are from December!

Lev sweater 1

His birthday jogged my memory enough to tell you about this sweater I forgot that I had made. Here is Baby L with Big Brother O!

Lev sweater 2

Every stitch of this sweater was a pleasure, as was every moment I spent with Baby L way back in September (it’s hard to live in a different state from your best friends and their children). I miss you, Paul and Shea!

For knitters, the yarn is Swish, from KnitPicks; the color is Dublin. On ravelry, the project is here. It can be found in a book called “60  Quick Baby Knits . I modified the sleeves to have XO cables up the center, for LOVE. I also modified the neck, after making some sort of weird mistake.

Jake’s Mittens

When I was up in Washington DC earlier this month, I told my brother-in-law Jake that I’d make him some mittens like the ones I made for his daughter, if he bought the yarn. That’s a standing offer I make to family and friends…you buy the yarn, I knit the thing. The caveat is that you have to pick yarn that I also like and can stand to knit with.

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He picked charcoal grey. If you know anything about me, it’s that I’ll never knit with grey if I can help it. So he conceded that I could put in an acid green stripe, “if you want”. I started these mitts on the airplane ride home and finished up a few days later. I have to admit that I’m pretty proud of the clever shaping where the palm meets the thumb gusset.

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Jake’s wife Stacy took the photos of him wearing the mitts. That’s another rule of knitted gift-wear. I have to get a photo of the recipient wearing the item. I have a blog to maintain, after all.

Here’s a picture of a mitt on me before I sent it. I think it shows a more accurate idea of the colors used. I will also grudgingly admit that I enjoyed making something grey.

fingerless mittens

For once, knitters, I made a project without Koigu. I’ll admit, though, that I thought is WAS Koigu when I picked it up and have no idea what it actually is. WAIT…The chartreuse IS a scrap of Koigu that has been in my stash for years, so no…I lied. Stacy bought the grey at a charming and friendly yarn shop in Bethesda, MD.

I’m currently working on a pair for Stacy, too, though she bought something colorful and RED and gorgeous. I can’t wait to show you once they’re finished!


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