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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
Tremendous Storm and Tremendous News!
April 16, 2007, 3:54 pm, Boca Chica

A tremendous storm moved through in front of a cold front this weekend. We knew something was up when people began coming into port for the weekend rather than leaving the dock. When a new-to-us family with 3 little boys (Homeschooled! Hurray!) showed up on Dock A and told us they'd cut short their time in the Dry Tortugas in anticipation of the blow we got out the extra dock lines and tuned in the weather radio.

Which, if I'm being honest here, I detest. You have to wait for the robotic voice to cycle through in his disjointed, jerky sentences that I tend to tune out, realizing that I've done so just in time to miss out on my location and instead hear something completely irrelevant to the situation like the location of the Gulf Stream. Click on the Wunderground Button in the sidebar, folks. When you get to Key West's page click on the Marine Forecast if you're interested. In 10 seconds you can be up and away from the computer filled with the knowledge you need.

So after checking the location of the rainbands Marianna and I attended a fabulous mass on Divine Mercy Sunday with a guest priest, a Dominican! I thoroughly enjoyed his homily on Perpetual Adoration and Marianna especially liked seeing his habit (Is it called a habit on a guy? Total mind blank here.) white with extremely long rosary beads tucked into his belt. It hasn't changed much in the 800 years the Dominicans have been around. We vowed to check out our Perpetual Adoration Chapel this week.

By the time she and I arrived home the sky was beginnng to darken and the wind was really kicking up. I helped Hal stretch a dockline across the neighboring slip to help hold us off our finger pier and we closed all the hatches and zipped the isinglass just as the skies opened.

As I was descending the companionway an intense bolt of lightning struck a light pole on the bridge which is not nearly far enough away for my comfort! Especially as it was very hard to tell with my light blinded eyes if it was a light pole or the mast of a sailboat in the anchorage for a few moments! Our favorite little island was also reported lightning struck though I did not witness that, I was buttoned up safe below by that time!

And just what might we have been doing below decks? Holding our own little celebration!

The S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen won!!!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the support you have shown us, I've gone about in wonderful warm glow ever since that has nothing to do with our Geographical Location, and everything to do with you!

Friday Freewrite
April 13, 2007, 11:59 am, Our Beach

Over the past year or so we've worked aspects of Bravewriter into our life. One of the most successful things is the Friday Freewrite. Marianna and I agreed at the very beginning to make our Friday Freewrites completely different from any other writing that we do.

How did we accomplish this?

*Special Green Journal
*Use a pen

The last is obviously the most important! At our last dockage Marianna had found two places in particular that she liked to write, a hammock between two palms and a swing under the Tiki Hut. We're still exploring our latest marina, but the beach is an awfully nice place to address the writing prompt: What things do you think are BEAUTIFUL?

If you think some of the things you've read here are rather beautiful (or at least thoughtful, or humorous, or shall we say, Keyzeee!!) don't forget to vote at the Homeschool Blog Awards by midnight tonight! That's right, it is Friday already. Where has the week gone! The two categories the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen has been nominated in are the Best Geographical Blog and the Live-What-You-Believe Blog.

It's been one of the most exciting weeks! You have kept us in either First or Second Place the entire week in the Best Geographical Blog category! It is such a close race right now, 19% to 18% that I would greatly appreciate any last minute votes you'd care to place for the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen!

Thank you and know I sending warm thoughts (Okay, steamy! LOL! It is sooo very humid today!) your way!
Because maps look best...
Huge bands of storms have been moving through with wind gusts up to 40 mph! That rocks the boat, let me tell you!
April 12, 2007, 6:22 am, ETA: Make that 60 mph!!! Official report.


Pirate studies continue along with serious math time. Why is it just the smallest break allows all mathematical knowledge to drain out of the ears? I speak from experience and if you don't believe me, ask my long suffering mathematically inclined father who spent many, many years with a crying daughter at the kitchen table! It has not gotten quite that bad here, yet, (with the next generation that is) but it is always the simple things that mess up the big problems, isn't it? So frustrating! Bring on the flashcards!

The pirate studies have been much more fun, a Jolly Roger is in the works, and a great looking map - of Greece actually! Greek coastal waters works for us as we are starting our study with a few days of Ancient Pirates because, as you know, I said we were studying the Ancients this year and what's better than one rabbit trail that leads right into another? It is really quite fascinating, did you know Julius Cesear was kidnapped by pirates once? He wasn't very happy about it. In fact, once he was ransomed he came back and utterly destroyed the pirate outpost. Taking a look at the Greek and Roman Pirate ships is really neat, seeing how things have changed and yet how similar some things are.

Locally we are planning two big field trips in the near future, one to Mel Fisher's Maritime Heritage Museum and one to Pirate Soul!

Don't forget that voting continues up to Friday on the Homeschool Blog Awards! Also on Friday, Dawn's Field Day! Today is the Loveliness of Easter Fair at Divina's. Busy, busy time in the blogosphere this week!

I managed to upload the buttons for these events in my side bar but they are not clickable! Why? Why?? Why??? Arrgh! Technology!

Check out our sister ship's new galley!
April 11, 2007, 6:59 pm

Eddie and Micha on the S/V Miss Emily have been tearing up their galley and is it ever amazing! Hal and I have just been chatting, this is one of the nice things about a boat, you can gut it if need be and rebuild it as you want it. Living in that fiberglass is not the nice part at all though, eh Micha?

Have you ever seen a sink placed amidships? Of course you have but only on wider beamed boats. What a revolutionary thought! That broad expanse of countertop to starboard is rarely seen aboard a narrow beamed boat like ours. (10'2") We have a better solution...upgrade to a bigger boat to get your bigger countertop!!! I know, I know, that's cheating. But we still look!

PS - Nice stove! But now for the important question, does it have a Charlie Noble?

Easter Blessings!
April 11, 2007, 1:45 pm

What a tremendously beautiful Easter we had!

Holy Thursday began the holiday weekend for us, and I know I've said it before but I just LOVE my new parish! The service on this night was spectacular, concelebrated by three priests and a deacon. The procession of the Blessed Sacrament was so moving and it was jarring to end the service with no real ending, just a stripping of the altars and a blowing out of all candles until the church was left in utter darkness except for a few candles in front of the Blessed Sacrament which had been set up at a side altar swathed in purple for the few hours remaining to midnight.

On Good Friday we returned to the church to open the Divine Mercy Novena at 3:00 followed by a Passion Play, the Veneration of the Cross and a Communion Service. Though this began at 3:00 in the afternoon there was standing room only! Again, a jarring service with no opening this time, just the priests suddenly approaching the altar and prostrating themselves.

Holy Saturday found Marianna and I bringing a basket of food in to be blessed by our Polish Father at 11:00. We were quite excited as we'd never had this opportunity before and it was amazing! There must have been 50 or maybe even 75 baskets in front of the altar and tons of young families and, most surprising to me, quite alot of 20-Something Singletons, men and women, that brought beautiful baskets filled with ethnic sausages, artisan breads and gorgeous eggs to be blessed.

We looked online to find out what to fill our basket with and used some of the ideas from a Swieconka Basket as a guideline. We included our Easter Bread, Bacon, Kielbasa, Cheese, a Candle Marianna decorated with a holy medal, and our very best Eggs. We drew a white cloth over the top for the ride to the church. The other baskets were beautiful and ran from huge elaborate panniers for entire families to little itty-bitty baskets filled with just one Peep and jellybeans!

We returned that evening for the Easter Vigil bearing in hand our version of Alice's Easter Vigil Notebook which we'd assembled during Holy Week. It brought such depth and meaning to the service to have studied it previously and to be able to follow along in our own little booklet. Thank you, Alice! Such a beautiful idea to bring to fruition!

The most fabulous part? For once everything I prepped Marianna for happened - the priests began the New Fire outside and with flint, blessed it, brought it inside stopping three times to chant and light additional candles - all the elements were there! But the very best part? The homily was based on John Paul II's famous quote "The future starts today, not tomorrow." which we had just studied in conjunction with the anniversary of John Paul II's death and the Loveliness Fair hosted by Sarah.

I just love connections like that.

We wrapped our weekend up with Easter Sunday Mass in the Stations of the Cross Garden and a great egg hunt, actually we are still hunting one egg. The boat is not that big! Where is that egg???

You remember that Marianna did a great job of cleaning for Holy Week? Well, I'm doing a great job of cleaning for Easter Week! Ack! I keep repeating additional words of wisdom from John Paul II to myself, "Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!"

I will not despair, the egg will be found!

Our Faith
Piratical Plans
April 9, 2007, 11:34 am

If you had just spent the morning solidifying the plans for the Pirate section of your study of Key West, which because of one super cool book, Piratepedia, suddenly doubled from one week (which was a ridiculous estimate but a good place to start, iykwim) to at least two, and in the midst of writing really cool things down on the planning cards (like write and illustrate a logbook entitled "The Journal of Captain Marianna Alvida de Ching" or build an Astrolabe) a timid knock sounded on the hull and two girls were looking down the companionway asking for your student to go explore the flats in a dinghy would you

A. Scowl and growl and drive them away with your handy cat o'nine tails a la the Royal Navy?
B. Hand over the student without a peep in your best "Calico Jack" impersonation?

Knowing that we "Live-What-We-Believe" here in "The Florida Keys", is this picture at all a surprise?

There will always be time to sit and read a few good books but opportunities for three girls to explore Flats and Mangroves and Pine Islands with really cool features recently named Cancer's Cave and Leo's Lair (after celestial features of course, and btw, did you see the Beehive in Cancer the other night?) always receive precedence here. So off they went, bearing ham on cuban bread, oranges and jellybeans for sustenance and leaving me to blog about it!

In other news today, the Homeschool Blog Awards have opened the polls! Since several of you have asked for direct links, I'm happy to oblige. Here is the Best Geographical Blog section and the Live-What-You-Believe Homeschool Blog section. It is so exciting and such an honor to be nominated! The field of contenders is awe inspiring. I can't wait to explore a few more blogs myself! The voting will continue untill Friday and a handy FAQ on Voting is available.

So off ye go now, place yer mark alongside o'the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen and good fortune shall follow ye all yer days!

Water: Past and Present
April 5, 2007, 5:58 am

We found time the other day to ride our bikes by The Pirates Well just off of Duval Street. In a verdant front garden of a very interesting cottage is a fairly shallow rock well. Marianna narrated this information later in the day.

Key West was considered dry of fresh water like the Tortugas, so few ships came. Then fresh water was found in the seventeen hundreds. Hearing of the fresh water Galleons came to refill and the Pirates who followed them came too. It became known as the Pirates Well. The well did not just bring Galleons and Pirates, it helped to colonize Key West and the other Keys.

We went to see it the other day on our bikes. There is a sign that says Pirates Well: First fresh water found on Island and used by Pirates in the 1700s. It does not go very deep and has some small fish inside of it. They definitely did not get there by themselves. Can anyone guess why they put little fish in there?

Later that day we learned that the water restrictions for the Florida Keys will be elevated to Phase Two this Friday. What does this mean? According to the report, the Florida Keys must reduce their water use by 30% and our drinking water will be mixed with additional salt water, even to the point of being unfit for human consumption!

Finding a Water Maker just leapt to the top of the list.

I've mentioned our water trials and tribulations before. The latest water adventure is about to begin on Good Friday and all I can think about is the Wild Cat from Arthur Ransome's Peter Duck and how very nice it would be to have their fresh water ballast.


I've never been fond of the idea of water makers. I think I've mentioned before that I am somewhat of a Luddite and one more piece of machinery that I can break just by looking at it simply seems like a bad idea. I've even read an article entitled the Water Maker that Killed the Cruise or something along those lines! Who needs it? Us, apparently. Water makers, from my point of view, are rather like composting toilets, they both need an exhorbitant amount of care and feeding.

But if we have to start buying bottled water we might as well buy a water maker. At the price of drinking water down here we'd have a top of the line water maker in no time at all!

Pink Cruising Excitement
The Tarpon are back! This monster (5-6 feet) was under the boat this morning.
April 3, 2007, 9:27 am

The Pink Cadillac (or Buick as Hal has informed me!) will be cruising Key West today! We have so much to do:

* "Sunschoolers" Meeting (that's what I'm going to call them!)
* Investigate Artisan Bakeries for Easter Breads
* Buy Egg Dye and other goodies
* Library Books are in!
* Brief Field Trip to undisclosed location that Marianna spotted this weekend. (stay tuned!)
* Grocery shop for Holy Week (this will be in the car as we leave Key West though.)

Now for the oh, so exciting news! My blog has been nominated for the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards in two categories! 'Live-What-You-Believe' Homeschool Blog and the Best Geographical Blog (Anywhere on Planet Earth!). You can check out the nominations here. There are so many fabulous blogs listed and still several days of nominations before voting commences on April 9!

Thank you to the kind people who nominated me!

Cleaning out my holds.
April 2, 2007, 4:30 pm, Boca Chica

Today and tomorrow are the traditional days to clean your boat ( And yes houses count too but they take ten times longer.) before Easter. So I got down and dusty in the holds underneath my berth. They are now as organized as you could wish!

All of the life jackets are neatly on top of the Life Sling, and the flares are placed on top of them all. Of course that will all change when we go out sailing and will need the equipment accessable quickly. But for in dock it is a good spot for storage. We also have wetsuits masks, fins,and snorkels also stored in this hold.

Now for my closet...

Neverending Chores that come around and around...
Lent at the Speed of Sound
Is this an F-16? Do F-16's travel at the speed of sound??
March 31, 2007, 6:49 am

This Lent has sped by on the wings of a F-16! Can you believe it is nearly Palm Sunday? After Palm Sunday comes Holy Week and after Holy Week is Easter! I know this shouldn't be a shock, but where in the heck has Lent gone too?

I feel like I haven't even chosen my thing to give up yet! Marianna on the other hand is doing terrific. She chose her thing - Oreo's - in, like, January and has stuck with it since Ash Wednesday, even on Sundays! This is one proud Momma here! Adding things in has worked well though, I've managed my Latin Rosary maybe half of what I'd hoped to do, which leaves room for improvement during Holy Week, right?

So the other day I made a mad grab for my Spring Martha's, tossed in a few Bon Appetit's and pulled up some great websites to began to rectify this non-planning problem.

Holy Week is baffling to me right now. I think this is the stumbling block in my planning phase right now. There is so much I want to do with Marianna but I see the wisdom in the less is more philosophy too.

I'm torn. I don't know the traditions at our new church yet. Space on the boat is limited, definitely don't have room for everything I want to make and do so I'm forced to choose and I hate that. I want to do it all! But choose I must. That is what I'll have to really sit down and plan about in the next few days.

Food, on the other hand, is easy! Food I can talk about all day long. Last year we tried Lamb for Easter and I really think I am more of a Ham sort of girl. It's what my sisters and I grew up with and simply tastes right for Easter! Lamb tastes great, it just seemed like we were missing something or pretending to be more posh than we are. So a basic Ham is on the list, must have potato salad with it, and some other fun side dishes as yet undetermined, asparagus perhaps! And little rolls of some sort, with an oven I'd try Clover Rolls, so cute! I know there are several artisan bakeries in Key West, I think we'll have to make a point to explore those this week. For dessert Marianna is wanting to try a Key Lime Mousse with Lime Curd Pie, should be very refreshing!

Easter Eggs and Baskets are also easy, I really like the plaid eggs from Martha, and though we've never done "theme baskets" Marianna has found one that I would love to leave out as decor. She adores the Clover and Eggs Basket, though I'm thinking a Thyme and Eggs Basket is more appropriate. I think we need more 'Thyme' around here! ;)

Our Faith

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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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