Posts Tagged 'amazing'

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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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Watercolor Beads and a Twisted Stringer

Here are the beads I made last week with Debby. First she taught me to make “watercolor” beads, where I start by melting a white core, and then “paint” on top with various transparent colored rods.

Next she taught me to pull a stringer (the twisty coral/turquoise strip in the foreground). Then I made a transparent, pale aqua bead and melted that stringer onto (and into) it.

Actually, Debby made two of the beads pictured, but I’m rather proud of myself that it isn’t immediately obvious which ones :D

 

Late July Adventures

I checked out this awesome book from the library,  because Zach is going through a ‘no-white-flour’ kick. It’s the first cookbook I’ve ever read that truly addressed the challenges of cooking with whole grains, and not just substituting 1/2  a cup of whole wheat flour but still making essentially fluffy white breads.

Thanks to this YouTube video, I now know how to make a 6-braid challah! I also know now that I don’t really care for poppy seeds on top of bread.

Here is the poor Chibberty in my shirt, which I had heard can calm a dog down in a thunderstorm. I don’t believe he was calmed by our laughter or this photoshoot.

In our little town, the moving of this house from its place by the cemetery, across the busiest intersection in town, and into the lot next door to the cupcake shop, was big news and a spectator event.

Hee Hee. A modification of the Fleming Street sign downtown where the road begins.

I bet my Walgreens is cooler than yours. Formerly the Strand Theater. The place where I spend buckets of money on athletic tape for my poor, injured footie.

As a reward for learning to swim, the Boogedy received Perplexus. Possibly the coolest toy ever invented. We are all addicted to this game. As Zach says “there’s no better reward for a physical workout than a toy that will put you on your butt for hours”.

Detour to West Martello Tower

We were walking from our house to Higgs Beach, and we noticed that the Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower was open! We’ve been peering through the fenestrations for weeks, but always manage to have bad timing.

This was a civil war fort and now it’s a lush tropical garden that is free to the public. It’s the first place we’re taking friends who come to visit. Map boy will tell you where to go.

He will lead you to the hanging orchid “room”.

I love this one.

It is very important, when you live in a tropical climate, never to look up. No matter how large your computer monitor, I guarantee it cannot display this overhead web full size.

Here is the maker of this web, the Spiny Orb Weaver. This spider is the most common one I’ve seen in Key West. This is a super close-up, she’s no bigger than a pea. Again, I will say it: Never google Florida spiders if you live here…*shudder*

These guys are also everywhere, but they don’t give me the willies. We even find them inside our house, and once there was a gecko that only Zach saw.

There was even a funny assortment of pool noodle arrangements. My sisters will think this is as hilarious as I did.

This is a strangler fig or maybe a banyan growing over the archway.

and a lovely banana flower pendulum.

Out the archways and on to the beach!

I know this is my first blog post from Key West. It is absolutely amazing how quickly we have adapted to island time, and find the hours just whittled away each day and week.  I’ve resolved to post more about this great place we stumbled upon, and will get my camera out more often.

Family Weekend

On Wednesday, the Boogedy was babysat and we walked to our beach for a lovely sunset

And went to dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, where they cook the food on the grill at your table. I did not photograph the chef, but will show you the fountain outside.

On Thursday, we found a listless frog on our porch. He allowed his head to be pet, and I picked him up and placed him under the bushes. He wasn’t there on Friday.

On Friday I took Zach a picnic lunch at work. It was pouring rain, so we asked permission to sit at one of the tables outside the coffee shop, under the eaves.

On Saturday, we rode our bikes hard for 8 miles, then stopped at Thomas’ Donut Shop across the street from the beach.

And tried something I’ve never seen in donut form, Red Velvet.

We bought an umbrella because the rain has started to be just a little chilly, and it looked like it wouldn’t stop.

While we were at the farmer’s market picking up raw milk, the Boogedy rolled down the grassy slope in the rain, getting completely soaked.

There was some puddle twirling and jumping.

And we grabbed Pizza at Brunos, which has the most wonderful garden/swamp in the back of the building.

To finish the day, the dog was wrapped in blankets and piled with pillows.

And dad was forced to take his own medicine: The Bravery Test.

Fingerless “Blitz”ens

These wild-lighting mittens have to be the prettiest thing I’ve ever knitted. And they have the added bonus of being for ME!

Problem 1: They’re really snug, but maybe they’ll stretch out a bit…please?

Problem 2: I’m moving to Florida, where I doubt I’ll really need these wooly wonders.

And before you ask, no, you can’t have them. They’re too small for you, too!

They’re coming to Florida with me. I’m hoping for another freak winter that freezes the iguanas out of the trees in Miami.

For the knitters: I used less than one ball of Schoppel Wolle Zauberball in color “fuchsienbeet”. That color name cracks me up. I used size 1 needles, knit the mittens flat, and seamed them. I made up this pattern, and it was really easy.

Update: I didn’t take them with me to Florida. I faced the music and admitted they were too tight. I gave them to a teenaged niece and hoped she wouldn’t outgrow them too fast! I have never needed mittens since moving here.  I did, however, bring the leftover yarn! Check out the baby hat I made with it here!

Outing with my mom and sis

In the spirit of this post at Earth and Living, I am showing you the very best from my outing with my mom and sis last week. We visited Gardner Village, a sweet little collection of shops in the southern part of the valley.

Shown: bleeding hearts by the cooking store:

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Not shown: The huge, scummy koi in the pond there. I’m sure the fish are gorgeous, but haven’t yet shed their winter algae.

Shown: Forget me knows in the shade of the knick knack shop:

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Not shown: Our flavorless lunch at the little bakery.

Shown: The dots and stripes M bought and shared with me. The florals mom bought to make a bag for her friend:

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Not shown: The mess of construction cones on the road getting in and out of the Village.

Shown: The most glorious flowering tree I’ve ever seen. I don’t even know what it is, but the buds looked like pink marbles and the blooms like petticoats. This first photo is just begging to be made into quilting fabric!

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Tung Oil Floor

Because I work for a school, I actually get to take this thing called “Spring Break”, which I’d only ever heard about when I worked more corporate jobs. In the past, Zach and I have traveled, or camped, or otherwise vacationed. This time, though, Zach was determined to take care of the last, biggest project of home improvement: refinishing the hardwood floors in two adjoining rooms on the main floor (used to be three rooms before this renovation).

This is what the floor looked like in two rooms before we moved into the house (Zach had to completely clean the whole place…that was part of the reason we got a good deal). This was one of the only places the floor was even visible beneath the garbage:

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One room was covered in pee-soaked gray carpet with cigarette burns. Underneath the carpet was awful linoleum tile that Zach pried up early on. He had to sand down glue squiggles. Last year we painted that floor a glossy chocolate brown as an interim solution to the UGLY. Here is a great “before” shot showing the state of the hardwood floor, the chocolate dining room floor (now showing a lot of wear), and the new patch Zach had to make in order to replace a piece of plywood that had been acting as a temporary patch and “lid” to our crawlspace. View: southwest.

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Zach spent days sanding the floor (all red oak), and putting wood putty into every little flaw and crack. For perspective, just behind that black garbage can you can barely find the floor patch. View: west.

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Then, each day for 5 days, he spent 5 hours on his hands and knees, removing every little dog and cat hair and then rubbing tung oil into the wood. Here is the first pass of many. View: north.

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We are so pleased with how the oil made the wood grain pop, and how shiny it is now that it’s finished!

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Oh, the work, though. It never ends. Mouldings are next. I am so thankful to have such a hard-working husband!

Snakes and Frogs Birthday

The Boogedy’s 2nd birthday was actually in February, but the house was in shambles under construction, so we opted to wait and hold the party once the house was decent again. It was part birthday, part grand re-opening of the house party. The theme was snakes and frogs, inspired by this great hat I made for the Boogedy and a cute froggy invitation we sent to everyone.

Here is the awesome coral snake I made using two chocolate bundt cakes and cream cheese frosting. This was ideal for our family, most of whom do not care much for frosting. The dark sections are unfrosted. This snake is enjoying his frog dinner.

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We played a great balloon stomping game where everyone tied a small balloon to their ankle and took off their shoes. Then, they tried to pop everyone else’s balloon while keeping their own balloon safe. The last person to remain unpopped is the winner. This was really fun, but the little kids in attendance were a bit overwhelmed.

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Then, we played pin the fly on the frog, using a frog face modeled on the invitation we’d sent out and using hand-drawn flies.

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We had visited the wine store the day before and picked out wines based on their labels (the wine specialists on-site do not approve of picking wine by our criteria). Here were some of the possibilities:

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We couldn’t find any with snakes on the label! Lots of bicycles and kangaroos. Lots of estates and abstract color blocks. Lots of hoofed animals. But no snakes. So we went with the Nathanson Creek because they had white and red wines for a good price.

We put out some decorations:

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And I made a baked potato bar with lots and lots of toppings. About halfway through the evening, Zach lit a bonfire in the backyard firepit and sent someone to the store for s’mores fixins. The weather was just right for sitting outside at night, just nippy enough to appreciate a fire.

It was the nicest (and biggest) party we’ve ever held, and the Boogedy received so many adorable presents. Thanks everybody!!

Spring Picnic

Zach and I took Mosca and the Boogedy to our friend’s house last night, ostensibly to take a walk with them and their dog. Once there, though, I completely lost my steam.

Shea took charge and decided we would have a picnic instead. I had packed a few snacks for the walk, in case my little boy got hungry. Paul was making a Mediterranean feast, so I added my stash to the fare. We packed our blanket and walked out to the back of their property, which  sits on the Jordan River.

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We unfolded this great feast, honestly the best meal I’ve had in ages. Shea and Paul order fantastic fair-trade olive oil from Palestine, and this entire meal was flavored with that yummy liquid gold.

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We took turns taking the Boogedy to the river bank to throw rocks and sticks for the dogs. Here is Mosca, intently trying to figure out if that is a plastic bag stuck on a log or a duck swimming in the middle of the river.  (Plastic bag, unfortunately for him and for the river).

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