Posts Tagged 'holidays'

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.

IMG_3698

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.

1-tanks

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

1-pre dive zach wetsuit

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”:

3 dive notes

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.

3 blue fish

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.

kate 7

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.

3 feeling groovy

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

Xmas Knitting and Pottery

I started this rainbow scarf when I was in Salt Lake City this summer. My sister Jeaka flipped over it, and asked for it outright. This was supposed to be a lightweight scarf for my occasional Key West chilly days (like today…53 degrees!).

But how could I keep it for myself when she begged for it shamelessly?

All any knitter wants is a properly grateful and gushing person to wear and show off their time-consuming handiwork!

For my mom, I knitted something ghastly. I used a beautiful minty green, super bulky, nubbly, spun-cocoon-looking yarn. It made the most lopsided, lumpy, misshapen “purse” one could ever knit. I struggled with it for weeks before finally chucking it as a failure and buying her this lovely bowl instead.

It was made by my friends Adam and Kelly at Honest Works Pottery here in town. They are famous for their boisterous use of color and their rooster mugs are hugely popular. Roosters always make me think of my mom, who made the mistake of mentioning that she loves them and that they remind her of her own mother. I am not the only person always tempted to give her rooster gifts.

Roosters are Key West’s pests and icons; well photographed by tourists and hated by anyone with a bedroom window. I frequently photograph the prettiest ones when I’m out and about.

I’ve started making Key West christmas gingerbread roosters (becoming an annual tradition).

For knitters: the scarf used three balls of Koigu PPPM (no, I don’t have any clue as to the color numbers) and this Churchmouse linen stitch pattern. This was an excellent exercise in forcing myself to knit continental, because the constant switching between k, p, and yf, yb would have taken even longer if I had “thrown” my yarn the whole time.

Tales of a Bad (Overconfident) Daughter

felt hollow (Small)

A tale of woe. A tale of overconfidence. A tale of yet again saying “how hard can it be?” only to find out that I should have read up on it a little more.

So. I saw this beautiful tutorial over at Kleas. Felted beads…so easy that the preschoolers were able to do them. I thought, this is great, these are gorgeous, I will make these for my mom, who always wears interesting necklaces to coordinate with her outfits.

Such is my confidence in my fiber-wrangling abilities, that I waited until Mother’s Day morning before starting this project. My friend Kristin came over to help (I also consider her a specialist in wool control). She made the puffs.

felt tufts (Small)

I wetted and rolled a puff with a tad of soap. Ok, maybe too much soap. I labored alone in the kitchen, whining and wheedling that this was taking longer than I thought it would, and that the snakes weren’t felting properly. And that jeez, this is not working! Kristin felt certain that I was doing it wrong, so she came to the rescue:

felt process (Small)

She had no more luck than I did. Our snakes never did get firm enough; one felt hollow in the middle and the other had a permanent slit up the side.

felt snakes (Small)

When we cut the beads up, they were not as pretty as I had hoped. Worse, they started falling apart almost immediately. I am not as talented as the preschoolers at that other blog!!

felt beads (Small)

I ended up giving my mom a baggie full of vaguely bead-looking fuzz stuff. Happy Mother’s Day from your not-so-talented daughter.

Zach kept teasing me that I should have glued them and some gold-painted macaroni to a piece of construction paper and told her the Boogedy made it for her.

My mother, bless her heart, oohed and aahed and tried to think of ways to salvage them and still use them.

A good mom praises a good effort.

Easter Recap

easter-cake-small

Forgot to post these pics earlier…

On Easter Sunday I got up and made a lemon cake with cream cheese frosting, coconut flakes, whopper eggs, and some kind of gross edible easter grass. This was more sugary and less “whole food” than I usually do (especially considering I used box mixes), but the end result sure was pretty!

I went early to my sister’s house to play Liar’s Dice (Perudo) with my niece and nephews. I did some trash-talking about how I was going to kick some butt and take no prisoners, etc. But I wasn’t there for the warm up rounds and my family is merciless:

easter-liars-small

I lost all my dice and was completely out of the game on my second turn.

So, I gave up and put the Boogedy down for a nap, fell asleep myself, and didn’t wake up until the lasagna came out of the oven and the garlic bread needed cutting. A yummy meal!

I will have to whollop those nephews at dice another time. mwah ha ha. One can’t be a dice-shark without a humiliating loss to make your naivete more believable!

Ginger-Pumpkin Spice Chiffon Pie

This really should be better than it is. It was a three-day process to make these pies.

Monday, I baked two sugar pie pumpkins that I got at the farmer’s market.

Tuesday, I scraped them out and pureed the flesh with a hand-blender. I also made the pie crust…by Sort Of following this Cooks Illustrated recipe for vodka pie crust (meaning I altered so much that it was absurd to think it would work). I’ve tasted this crust before; my sister-in-law Natalie made a peach pie last year that was the best I’ve ever had.

I tried to make a 1.5 recipe (not a straight double), and my math may have been off. I substituted half of the flour with homeground whole wheat that I made that day using the kitchenaid attachment. I used coconut oil (solid at cool room temp). I failed to chill it. The dough was sticky wet and I ended up adding lots more white flour. Wet and pasty before I ever added the vodka.

Wednesday, I added the vodka/water to the chilled crumbles. I rolled out a sample and baked it up with cinnamon sugar and it was yummy. Nice and crisp. So I formed my crusts (the dough didn’t hold together great and I had a few tears) and put them in the freezer.

Then I stirred up the pie filling Kind Of following this “old-fashioned” recipe (we’re trying to cut out canned stuff, so I was avoiding evap. milk). I substituted the sugar for honey and molasses, mixed. I cut some of the milk to account for this extra moisture. I used too much molasses. I used eggs from our chickens, and milk from a local dairy. I baked them forever in order for that light custard to gel.

This pie should be GREAT. It was more like a fluffy-light, OVERLY spiced gingerbread souffle in a crust. But Pretty. It IS pretty. and tasty enough when served with a whole pile of lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Here you can see it’s homely stepsister in the background.

Chompers and Watchers

Cool: This craft project is hilarious! Thanks so much to BitterBetty for her creativity, a great blog, and for this excellent tutorial. Here are pics of the assembly line:

And photos of more creepy plants. The orchids “watch” the front door. The chomper guards the water fountain.

Dissapointing: I invited 5 people to my little craft party on Sunday, and everybody but my mom cancelled. Tis the season, I know. Fall means everybody gets sick. The way I usually structure these get-togethers is to have everyone pay a small (like $5) materials fee to offset the costs. So after my mom gave me $7 (she’s a good tipper), it meant I spent 23 bucks on styrofoam, paint, pipe cleaners, my first glue gun, silly vampire teeth, etc. About $18 More than I would have with my tight budget, if I’d known it was just going to be us.

I spent tons of time shopping for this project, and hours ahead of time pre-painting everything. Zim’s is going out of business, so I saved $$). I was really looking forward to social time with my friends around the hot glue gun, and potluck snackies. I don’t like sounding whiny, but making 36 chompers practically by myself was exhausting. Mom and I only finished two “watchers”.

Oh well. More chompers for me. Anybody have any pointers on making craft parties successful?


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