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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Audubon House
by Marianna
January 19, 2007, 2:04 pm, Key West

We went to the Audubon House in Key West this weekend. It was very nice. The tour was very interesting. A docent gave us a CD player with the tour in it. So you walked around the house and garden listening to the Geiger family like you were a guest in their house. Mrs. Geiger would show you the garden that needed watering and Mr. Geiger would tell you how he built the house like a ship with no nails or screws so it would be hurricane proof.

So as you walked around listening to different family members they would tell you where to go next, or describe a picture on the wall or the tea set. They also described why it was called the Audubon house since it was really the Geiger's house. Mr. Audubon lived with them for a period during his trip to paint birds in Key West.

When the tour was over we looked around the gift shop. Every thing was very expensive. One copy of Audubon's pigeons that was eight by twelve inches was over one thousand dollars! So in the end we didn't get anything. The one thing I wanted was a book of most, if not all, of his paintings. But it is most likely the most expensive book in the shop.

Bayside Seafood Festival
Sunny, light breeze
January 18, 2007, 12:28 pm, Bayside Park, Key West

On Saturday Marianna and I scrounged a few bikes from under the barracks that the last SF class had left behind and we ventured out into Key West for the first time on bicycles. First stop was the Bayside Seafood Festival for Peel and Eat Key West Pink Shrimp. So very yummy! Lots of street performers hanging out, doing their thing. Our favorite was this young unicycler even though I knew he was going to crash into our tent or set it afire. (Of course, he didn't.)

Fueled up, we rode over the the Acura Key West Race Headquarters (link is to 2006 photos, 2007 doesn't seem to be up yet) to check out the boats. They were set up right beside the old Turtle Cannery so we toured that sad piece of history. They did have a small live green turtle in a tub for viewing.

In the same area were the dingy docks. I think it is so funny to look at the various tenders piled so closely together, everything from brand new shiny purchases to the most dilapidated barely afloat antique. Interesting.

After riding about town and taking note of the coffee houses and WiFi spots we were ready for another local delicacy - Golden Crabs. Mmmm! There seems to be much more meat than on a Blue Crab, though there is a tougher skin under the shell of the Goldens that a knife would be nice to use on - versus a plastic fork and a wooden hammer!

Irish Pub Fun
January 17, 2007, 10:06 am, Finnigan's Wake, Key West

Some of the best times this past weekend were spent in the garden at Finnigan's Wake playing Chess and Yahtzee. All three of us highly recommend this place. Hal due to the huge draft beer selection - 26 varieties! Jennifer for the amazing Jerk Chicken Wings and Marianna for the cool game tables on old rum barrels in the garden.

She had a cheering team and a line up of people eager to play chess! So if you're ever in Key West and you visit this Irish pub and a dark haired lassie is stomping the competition in the back garden, stop and say hi, ya hear?

Birds, Birds, Birds!
January 12, 2007, 7:58 am

The Bird Studies continue!

This week Marianna and I shared a lovely tea with birds as our theme, of course! Notice the beautiful table cover with the English Robins? I'll let you in on the secret behind it - it's leftover Christmas paper! Wrapping paper, in my opinion, makes some of the best disposable table covers around for use with children. No worries about a little frosting smeared or hot chocolate spilled! And the variety of colors and patterns available is extensive. Marianna chose a yummy cheesecake that is very reminiscent of a bird's nest, the almonds around the side give it a nest-like appearance with the strawberries masquarading as the eggs!

We read and discussed Jane Yolen's poetry in Bird Watch, deciding the poem Great Blue Heron was our favorite.

a painted hunter
upon a painted pond:
the brushstroked eye,
the slash of bill,
the pencil-line of legs.

the head strikes,
spiking the water,
splitting it apart
with a splash
and an odd wriggle...

a painted hunter
upon a painted pond.

Marianna wanted to include it in her Nature Journal so we set up the table in the cockpit and brought out the paints and art supplies. This week we've been painting birds in the Japanese Sumi-e style.

While we were diligently painting birds and eggs, finding inspiration from An Egg Is Quiet and Bird Egg Feather Nest a pelican landed on one of our dolphins! (3 pilings together form a dolphin) He, it was most definitely a mature male pelican, hung around eyeballing us for quite some time finally taking flight as a cormorant surfaced nearby with a fish clasped within her jaws. She tossed it wriggling up into the air several times to get it positioned just right and swallowed it quickly. The water has been so clear that we can see the cormorants swimming underneath the boat! This, of course, attracted the ever present seagulls who proceeded to drive all the other birds away.

Solution for a dreary, dreary day
January 10, 2007, 6:43 am

It has been so dreary here this week. Tuesday and Wednesday both were cloudy and windy, no rain just low slung, fast moving clouds. One day of this sort of weather is fine. We can pretend we're in England on the wind swept moors, but two days of it and we're comatose on the settee, moaning for the sun!

As an aside, would you believe my dh bought full spectrum lights for me when we lived in a certain "Misery" state? I suppose that is what is needed when one grows up under those blue, blue Colorado skies. His other solution was to move me south and ever further south!

My solution last night was to root through the Christmas tub that was still in the cockpit and pull out an unused strand of lights. They are icicle, a mix of mostly white with a few colors scattered randomly around. Twisted up over the companionway the cockpit became bright and cheery. We ate our grilled chicken breasts with mushrooms and melty blue cheese while playing Yahtzee last night and retired to bed in a much brighter mood!

Dawn of School in the New Year
January 8, 2007, 4:12 pm

Today began our schooling in the Year 2007. While History was our emphasis in the Autumn, Science will be featured this Spring. So we will lead off with this week's Science !

Marianna and I will be using the Jason Project, VII: Adapting to a Changing Sea as it features the Aquarius. Hal may no longer work there but it is still one of the neatest things in the world. How can I resist when someone gives me the Jason VII curriculum and the Aquarius is three or so miles from where we are docked?

The first part of Jason emphasizes the Florida Penninsula water shed, otherwise known as the Everglades! We will supplement with the Florida Water Story even though I'm not entirely thrilled with it. It (and Jason VII) are over a decade old and things change, especially in science!

Birdswill be definitely be studied, they may no longer blot out the sun for minutes at a time as John James Audubon so famously stated, but the Everglades are still synonymous with birds! Audubon will be our Biography this week, Into the Woods is charming and his prints are in the public domain so it is easy as pie to find and use them. We will most likely stop by our local hospital as I've heard they have an Audubon Gallery somewhere within.

To continue on this Everglade bird theme this week we will read and be inspired by An Egg is Quiet, (beautiful egg paintings) Bird Watch, (Jane Yolen's poetry for Tuesday Teatime) Wings Along the Waterway, Everglades Forever, Ospreys, Bird Egg Feather Nest, and She's Wearing a Dead Bird on her Head! We have watched Winged Migration (gorgeous stills there) and will watch Fly Away Home this week too. It was neat to see the real Bill Lishman in the special features of Winged Migration!

After all this reading Marianna and I will take our sketchpads out to The Florida Keys Wild Bird Center which is very close by on Bayside, therefore facing the Everglades though not, officially, in the Everglades. I also see a trip up the Stretch soon and we will be traveling in the Everglades then and may even stop by the Main Entrance, if all goes well!

Favorite Christmas Tree Ornaments
January 6, 2007, 1:25 am, Happy Epiphany!

A very brief tour of our tree, brief as it is only a foot and a half tall!

Our newest ornament this year came clear across the country from a lovely lady on the opposite coast! Robynn (Lavenderfields - love the name!) thank you so much! Isn't it delicate? Such tiny stitches with three of the cutest flowers on the front. As Marianna observed one for each family member! Marianna is very much into fairness right now, if one of us cuts dessert; the others get to choose first...

The second ornament is one of my favorites, a Diver! It looks just like Hal when he drags his drysuit and helmet out for special occasions - like Halloween! I slip my shimmery scaly tail on and load up on ropes of pearls and we are set for a crazy evening! Dancing with a diver who wears 17 1/2 pound boots on each foot is really good practice actually for dancing on a sailboat! You definitely don't tango...

The third ornament represents a precious commodity in the tropics, ice! This is just about as close to real ice as we want to get, unless it's in a boat drink of course!

There! A very brief tour of a very short but beloved tree before I take it down, which involves unplugging it and shoving it in a tub with our lights until next year! There are benefits to tiny fake trees...

Ten Things I Love that Begin with T
January 5, 2007, 7:05 am

Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight has inspired us again. Not this time with another brilliant craft; for craft inspiration check out her post on the Most Holy Name of Jesus this week. Tissue paper, blue and gold paint, paper plates and glitter in her hands become a keepsake. Rather Dawn inspires with a fun new meme.

She kindly assigned me the letter "T". How providential! Could she have guessed that most of my favorite people share a surname beginning with "T"? You know who you are - consider yourself hugged this morning, but in the interest of blogging anonymity (yeah, right!) and a list that won't make your eyelids droop by #2 (Don't tell me they are drooping already! Go get some caffeine for goodness sakes.) I'll forgo a listing of half my relations.

1. Tea Hot or Iced, tea is wonderful! Yesterday one of my dear IRL homeschooling friends brought a thermos of hot water for tea to our Park Day! What a lovely surprise as the sun began sinking and a slight chill blew in off the ocean to be handed a steaming cup of tea.

2. Tropical Breezes I know I am finally home from a long journey inland when I step out of the car and the moist Tropical Breeze caresses my face. Scented with jasmine, plumeria and that ineffable scent of the sea, no scented 'Seabreeze' candle can equal the real thing!

3. Tell-tales Sailing! Need I say more?

4. Tangs The most vibrant blue on the reef. Go ahead and think of Dory in Finding Nemo, she's a Pacific Ocean Tang.

5. Transubstantiation The best T-word to represent our Catholic Faith would be what really sets the Catholics apart from other Christians, I suppose. The belief in The Real Presence.

6. Tasha Tudor My Great Grandmother, Omi, gave me my first Tasha Tudor book, A Time to Keep many, many years ago. The more I learned about dear Tasha the more I grew to admire her. We all sit around and moan about modern society and how it's gone to the dogs. What do we actually do about it though? How do we get beyond the moan and groan stage into actual action? Some may join a Back to the Land movement, others may become politically active but Tasha decided to travel back in time. She bought herself some land, built her ideal house and brought her children up as if it were the 1830's or so. Fascinating solution!

7. Tessellations Making Tesselations is one part of Math I really enjoy. If I really devoted some thought to it, the textures that can resemble the repetitiveness of woven textiles is most likely what exerts the draw.

8. Textiles I still find it hard to resist giving the weaver's handshake when I come across fabulous textiles! Don't even let me near a yarn store! Mom and I spent what felt like a few minutes in one while in Minnesota with our dear husbands. When we emerged with our chosen skeins we found Hal and Dad had set up lawn chairs in the shade of a tree and were watching a parked hybrid car.

9. Thyme Herbs! One of my original career choices was not to be a Doctor or a Firefighter but rather to grow herbs. I even found a school (mail order style) that gave a 'degree' in herbal medicine. My alternative career plan was to play in season with the Denver Symphony and be a world renown Rocky Mountain Plein Air Painter in the off season.

10. Time I love the time I have to spend with my daughter, homeschooling, playing Skip-Bo, sketching, riding bikes and not rushing to slip her onto a yellow school bus by 7:00 in the morning! Now that Hal is spending the weekdays in Key West I treasure the time we have together on the weekends. Time that is all to fleeting but treasured dearly.

And that's 10 to the "T" power! If you'd like to participate leave me a comment and I'll assign you a letter.

Happy Holidays!
January 1, 2007, 8:53 am

We are entitling this post Happy Holidays rather than Happy New Year for a very specific reason. Those of you who received Christmas Cards from us this year may have noticed a break with tradition - no pictures!!!

This was an incredibly sad choice made by me at the last minute. I had my pile of cards in the car, the camera card in my purse and stamps ready to go! A quick stop at CVS for photos and we'd be set.

Unfortunately, the machines at CVS couldn't find any data on the card. The photo people at CVS couldn't find any data on the card either and they told me to bring in a card with photos on it (very helpful suggestion!). So being very depressed by this time, (do you know how many pictures were on that card?) I sealed and sent the cards sans pictures this year.

I then came home and inserted the card which worked fine and still had every single picture available. Aarrgh!

Anyway. Marianna and I had the best time staging our own little photo shoot. The wind was whipping, the light was actually subdued for down here as we'd had cloudy weather and intermittant showers for a few days. The beach was empty since the schools were still in session.

We hope your holiday season was filled with warmth and happiness!

Bob and Fluffy's Light Show
December 31, 2006, 4:06 pm, 2 slips down from us.

Bob and Fluffy have the most amazing lights this year, the photos do not do it justice! It would need to be video as Bob has synchronized all the light strands and they flash and twinkle and fade and run very impressively.

Apologies for the slight blur, we tried all sorts of settings to take these photos, Sports setting did result in crisp images but they were very, very dim. All the other settings blurred a bit since we are having gusty winds and boats move, you know!


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S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen
Who: Capt. Hal, Jennifer, and our daughter Marianna, a great photographer!
Port: Boca Chica
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