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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
Mixologist, Cocktalian or Bar Chef?
September 24, 2007, 10:46 am

I got the job! Hurray! Doing a happy dance here! You do know you can dance on a sailboat, right? LOL! We do all the time! Great practice for crowded dance floors, actually. ;)

Anyway, I've put in three shifts now, my regular times will be Saturday Night, Sunday all day and then floating throughout the week.

Don't you love the cool picture? My dear sister, Michelle, got a little crafty and pasted me behind the bar in a happening Kansas City joint. You can read the article online at the Kansas City Star. This very informative article has led me to quite a dilemma, what shall I call myself? Bartender is obviously so-o-o-o last century. Mixologist, Cocktalian or Bar Chef are a few of my favorites now, so help me decide!

Vote today in the comments and thanks in advance!

September 19, 2007, 12:29 pm

Marianna and I were super excited to take Veronica up to the Everglades last week, we were certain she would love it being the bird loving gal that she is!

We'd last visited the Everglades in late January during the height of the birding season. This trip we saw fewer birds and smaller gators and no 17 foot long bulls, thank heavens! But we heard some interesting things this time. So let's begin, shall we?

This is the start of the Anhinga Trail, nicely paved or boardwalked the entire way. I personally like it best when we get to the elevated boardwalk part as I like walking over the gators better than beside the gators. Just a personal preference. ;)

Could it have something to do with this sign perhaps?

Or the fact that this particular alligator

Could be gotten much, much closer to?

Sorry for the slight blurriness there, especially after the last post about our favorite photographer. Could have had something to do with me turning around and screeching at her as she was stretched out on her belly hanging over the boardwalk trying to get a good photo. Just maybe I startled her?

Here's my style of nature observation. A mango-like tree beside the boardwalk.

Or how about a nice lily?

Okay, so this Raven was pretty neat but not quite as neat as...

this Limpkin! This is the first time I've seen one and I'd love to hear its call. It was one of the featured bird songs that was left in the old Tarzan shows that were filmed in Florida. You can hear the call here on Cornell's All About Birds site.

Even though we didn't hear the Limpkin call we did hear the alligators' mating calls, very deep grunting noises and as we were leaving the boardwalk for the paved trail we heard baby gators chirping!

So cool.

Nature Study
And the Winner is...
September 14, 2007, 10:32 am

Gosh! We have been so very busy lately that I have so much to share on this poor neglected blog! So I think I'll start with a very exciting Marianna happening.

She entered and won a photography contest! The Keynoter and L'Attitudes Newspaper was running a summer contest for Kids in the Keys, you can see all the entries here and the two articles naming the winners here and here.

Her Cat's Eye won two Honorable Mentions, for Most Mysterious Object and for Best Close Up while her Green Anole won Best in Show.

We are so very proud of our photographer!

Congratulations, Marianna!

We Are Now Certifiable
September 8, 2007, 3:16 pm

SCUBA Certified, that is!

This week has been spent under the water for Marianna and I. Pool work and four Open Water Dives as well as a final test have completed our YMCA SCUBA course!

We are SCUBA Divers now!!!

Do you want the details? 'Cause I'd love to share them!

Our first dive was in the afternoon on the Benwood Wreck. The ride out aboard the Ocean Diver dive boat was lovely, the seas calm and the skies sunny, as we say down here - a Chamber of Commerce day. Marianna and I suited up and stepped off the back of the boat into the 86 degree water with visibility that was about 35 - 40 feet. We swam over to a nice sandy patch and settled down to demonstrate things like flooding and clearing our masks and buddy breathing.

We then took off to do a bit of exploring! The Benwood was a Norwegian merchant marine freighter that sank in 1942 after colliding with a tanker, the Robert C. Tuttle. Both ships were running "lights out" to avoid German U-Boats during WWII and while they did avoid the Germans, they did not avoid each other!

The ship is now mostly flattened out upon the bottom with very interesting little holes you can peep down into that the fish love to hide in and a nice rib structure that is visible. Our deepest depth on this dive was 37 feet and we stayed on the bottom for 47 delightful minutes.

Dive #2
We then moved on over to French Reef and stopped at the Christmas Tree Cave dive site. This site has neat Coral "Swim-Throughs" and canyon-like formations to wind your way through. The name Christmas Tree Cave does not come from the Christmas Tree Worm, my first guess, but rather from the highest coral formation at the site which is cone , or shall we say, Christmas Tree, in shape!

This is a spectacular site with tons of cool areas to explore. The canyon-like channels are rather challenging to swim through as none are wider than your arm span and many are tighter than that. We were able to visit one "swim-through" which was long enough to be considered a cavern. It was coated with cool fish exhibiting a bit of Bioluminescence in the darker waters of the cavernous "swim-through". Our depth on this dive was 40 feet and we were down for 52 minutes in water with 40 easy feet of visibility.

Dive #3
Our third dive was a morning dive from the Santana dive boat. As we left the dock a broken rainbow appeared in the sky. There had been heavy downpours at dawn and most of the people on the manifest cancelled due to the rain which we thought had moved further south.

As we cleared Crash Corner and exited the canal however, we could see very dark clouds about and our captain, Craig, made the call to transfer our dives from our expected locations back to the Benwood and French Reef.

I actually really enjoyed returning to the Benwood and seeing it a second time. We moved over to a neat sandy patch with a colony of Yellow-headed Gobies at 50 feet, our deepest depth for this dive. Gobies are fun to watch as they emerge from their holes and slip quickly back in, tail first. After 40 minutes in water with 40 feet of visibility we surfaced to spitty rain and rough seas and visibility that was much worse above the seas than below!

Dive #4
With the seas kicking up we secured our gear and got underway quickly. By the time we got to French Reef the seas were 4-6 feet and very confused. (This is a very rough ride for the Keys.) Captain Craig didn't even slow down as an intense looking storm cell was bearing down and we continued on to Molasses Reef with a boat load of very ill divers. Dive Master Trace got the two worst guys positioned in one location and then very nicely cleared everyone else's dive gear up to the cabin area as the aft deck was awash as we plowed through the waves.

By the time we arrived at the Winch-Hole dive site on Molasses Reef the rest of the passengers were moving ever so slowly toward their equipment so we three were the first in the water and once we gave the OK signal to the boat we immediately sank below the roiling seas to the calmness of the reef.

As we swam toward the large, iron winch that gives this particular site it's name a brillant flash of light caught our attention. As no other divers were yet in the water it couldn't have been their camera's flash and we later found out that the Marine Buoy we moored beside took a direct hit of lightning! If you click through to this site you can see the conditions we were in on that day, from 10am till 11am the wind was 24 mph as the storm cell moved through.

It was really neat to watch the huge drops of rain strike the ocean from below and the waves rush past while we were nicely protected 33 feet below the surface. At the peak of the storm the visibility dropped from the usual 35 feet as the skies darkened and the light faded but came back once the darkest part of the storm passed.

This dive was just as spectacular as the previous three, perhaps more so with the contrast between the storm tossed seas and the calmness of the reef. The large winch was neat to see as well as several other iron artifacts. We again settled into a sandy patch and Rick had Marianna demonstrate Buddy Breathing again, making sure to emphasize maintaining physical and eye contact at all times. He then released us to explore or do what ever we wanted.

I settled down to observe a wall and Marianna laid herself down beside me on the bottom and proceeded to "sleep" snoring bubble rings toward the surface. After her "rest" she shook herself awake and played gazelle for awhile leaping from one sandy patch to another.

As we moved around the reef, some of us swimming and some gracefully leaping about, we traveled in a stacked formation with Rick leading, Marianna leaping about below and I just above. Which turned out to be a very good thing as her weight belt and she parted company. She bumped up into me, immediately dumped all air as I grabbed onto her and dumped the air from my BC too. We settled right down beside her weight belt which landed on the sand and got her belt back around her waist and then continued our dive. After 50 minutes we reluctantly surfaced to seas that were still confused but calming as the storm finally moved off.

So many neat things were seen, a nice sting ray flying over a coral formation, lots of Midnight Damselfish, Parrotfish, Queen Angels, Purple Sea Fans...we haven't even settled down with our Reef Fish book to formulate a list yet!

Marianna and I are so very happy and proud of ourselves for completing this dive course. The conditions on the last two dives were quite extreme, our Dive Instructor said they were pushing the limits of anything a Sport Diver should be out in; we handled an equipment malfunction beautifully, again according to our Instructor; and we both thouroughly enjoyed ourselves! I wish we had more pictures to share but on the check-out dives additional equipment is not brought along, but if you click through on the links above you can see several pictures and additional information on each of the dive sites.

It feels fabulous to be able to call ourselves SCUBA Divers now!

The Promised Photo Collage
September 6, 2007, 1:10 pm

Wow! Over a week since last posting! What have I been thinking/doing?

Plenty, I suppose, as evidenced by this collection of photos...

Picking up beloved sister at airport in totally rad rental vehicle.

Delivering beloved sister promptly to ocean so that she can dip feet in the Pacific and the Atlantic all within one week.

Joining beloved sister in water that has waves.

Look! It's a wave!
I refuse to divulge how many eerily similar photos we now have.
Thank heavens we live in a digital age.

Me, rinsing sand and a very earnest Buddhist whom I had no idea was behind me at the time.

First ever drive by beloved sister in the totally rad convertable.

First ever ride by beloved sister in the totally rad dinghy.

Return of said beloved sister in totally trashed dinghy.

Actually, not too totally trashed. Just a little seam separation. Nothing a little Gorilla Glue won't cure. A tiny bit of advice for other boaters - skip the Shoe Goo and just go straight for the Gorilla Glue. You can see the results of the Shoe Goo around their ankles. Yes, that water is calf high and the gas tank is floating.

So there, now you're caught up on the first, ummm...two days, maybe? Goodness!

Busy times...
A Few Nice Things...
September 1, 2007, 10:17 am

this morning since I have the chance to post BUT I sent the camera with the card in the waterproof case out in the dinghy pictures available! Darn! The coordination is lacking this morning, I guess. I think it comes from splitting the same amount of coffee between three people when we are used to splitting it in two. It is a theory anyway, a caffeine deprived theory perhaps, but a theory just the same! ;)

Let's see, first off I've contacted Tim at SailBlogs about the difficulty people have been having leaving comments here, his response:

The comments system has been getting hammered by spammers over the past two weeks. There is a block in there for ip addresses, and as these get tagged it is affecting other users (i.e. if an IP address of a main system, like AOL, gets tagged). I'm working on a slightly smarter system that does not have such blanket blocking. I have to do it carefully, tho.
This is not really related to the maintenance we're doing, but rather a spike in traffic that is occurring for a few blogs.

Thank you so much for emailing me and letting me know there was comment trouble happening!
Hopefully Tim will be able to hammer out the slightly smarter system in no time at all! Think hammocks, not blankets!

Dear, nice, Dawn at By Sun and Candlelight awarded the Nice Matters Award to me this week!

A (slightly modified) description of the award:
"This award is for those who are nice people; good friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our world."

I am going to break with tradition a bit here and award this Nice Matters Award to some real, close to me, people - Hal, Marianna and Veronica! It has been a very nice week so far, we are all still alive, no one has been deep-sixed and very few if any tears have been shed!

They truly deserve this award and if you want to play along grab a tape measure and mark out a 35 ft by 11 ft space that is kinda pointy on one end. Stand in that space with three of your nearest and dearest loved ones and imagine moving all your possessions into the space with you.

Nice really does matter in a situation like this!

Now, just for fun, when I was over at By Sun and Candlelight to grab the Nice Matters button I went ahead and took the Accent Quiz I found over there and the results were scary accurate for this Denver-born and California-raised girl!

What American accent do you have?
Created by Xavier on

Western. Like Midland, Western is another accent that people consider neutral. So, you might not actually be from the Western half of the country, but you definitely sound like it.

I hope your Labor Day Weekend is off to roaring start! Hopefully the camera will return and be filled with exciting photos to share! Stay tuned...

Please Welcome
August 28, 2007, 6:00 am

Our newest Crew Member!

Today we are off to Fort Lauderdale to pick up my sister Veronica, who will be joining the crew of the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen temporarily, until she finds a vessel of her own!

You may recall she spent her Senior Trip with us earlier this summer, what we didn't share at that time was that she spent allot of time helping Hal work on boats and showed an innate mechanical ability as well as a definite work ethic that is stellar in the Florida Keys! So inspired was she, that she proposed a business partnership to Hal, who after much consideration, accepted her proposal.

So not only will we be gaining a 4th person into our 35' home, but a business as well!

If you live or are passing through the Florida Keys and are having problems, or simply need some detailing done on your yacht, drop us a line!

Navigating the Changes
A picture that I really like taken by Marianna, photographer extraordinaire!
August 27, 2007, 7:13 am

In this on-going discussion of Changes aboard the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen that I've mentioned every now and again, today I want to share a major change that may be happening in my life.

I've been asked to work! Not by my husband but by MWR (Moral, Welfare and Recreation). I blew it off as a joke for the longest time, who ever heard of a company asking a person to fill the job? I thought you had to apply and fight off contenders and such. But, evidently MWR works differently than school systems do. ;) So I did eventually fill out their application as they literally placed it in my hand one day and I've now been told that they will be calling this week for the interview. So, I do not have the actual job yet, but I am in the running as it were, and as the folks I'd be working with are announcing to everyone that I'll be starting soon, I guess I now feel that I could mention it here.

So what is the position that I may be filling?

Bartender at the Navigator's.

You read that right! The little beachy bar and grill here at the marina is losing one of its bartenders as he is shipping out for Afganistan soon and I just may be replacing him.

Have I mentioned that I have never in my life held a job similar to this?

And that I'm just a tad nervous about it?

But it is really the most ideal job I could ever imagine. Great pay and tips, the shortest walk to work, it is not Duval so everyone who comes in will be either active duty or retired, Marianna can hang out on the beach or inside. No problem there as she probably spends more time at the Navigator's than Hal and I combined do! She is quite excited about the idea, and the fact that I will be the one giving her 'Free Water' now! "Lots of ice, Mom, if you please!"

I am feeling confident this week about the job, even the regular patrons have been told that I'll be the replacement so I feel like I may just have the job. What I am not confident about is the fact that I may be working during a certain football night. When I asked Hal if this was the game played with the black and white round ball or the one played with that brown oval-ish ball his eyes got a little twitchy for some reason. ;)

So I may need to run through a crash course on football! The last time I watched a game the people in the room with me were wearing orange and blue and the dude kicking the ball didn't have a shoe on even though it was snowing on the field. Oh, and the quarterback didn't own all the car lots in town. And we didn't win that big game even though we tried like, three years in a row. So it has been awhile.

I'm open for advice.
Football or Bartending advice, both will be fairly new to me!

Do you ever have one of those nights?
August 24, 2007, 9:25 pm

Everyone has had a bad night...Sometimes you wonder "What did I do to deserve this?"
You know, one of those nights where one of the foil wrapped corn on the cobs rolls right off the grill? Only because the grill has been listing to the bow about 1 degree every night since cooking began on this particular grill.

But our grill is positioned over water.

So then you grab the boat hook since you can't find the boat net and start trying to either balance and lift it or, alternately pretend it is a golf ball and the neighboring stink pot of a power boat is the putting green...

When in one instantaneous moment the boat hook is snatched out of your hands and the foil wrapped ear of corn disappears?

And then your dear husband turns to look at your shocked face and grabs the cherry red lid to the listing grill and drops that lid overboard?

And after that splash you look around for your daughter (it is instinctive) and find 3/4 of her body hanging off of the cement dock as she reaches for the boat hook...

which she just happens to grab...

and hands to you, who calmly hoses the salt water off the joints in the boat hook and sends the girl, who has rinsed her hands in the hose after all, below decks for the big knife to slice one of the remaining cobs in half?

Dinner was delicious and the company was even better.

P.S. We're thinking Barracuda but the totally cool thing is that the foil wrapped ear of corn never surfaced again! It ate it whole!

P.P.S. This has been co-written by all three members of the crew of the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen and is not a gripe session but rather a commentary on how we prefer to live our lives. We could have gotten extremely upset over so many of the happenings of tonight, the lost corn, the hook, the freaky barracuda, but rather decided to look on the positive side and share what we had and rejoice in the fact that all three were gathered around the table enjoying fabulous food.

Peace and Fair Winds,

The Crew of the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen

Breakfast of Planners
The fuel for this conversation, white peaches, black plums, a scone and cappuccino - lots of cappuccino!
August 24, 2007, 8:03 am

I know I've been promising huge posts regarding changes coming up here on the S/V Mari Hal-O-Jen so let's talk about one of these changes - Our Schooling.

Which after much (much!) deliberation is actually a non-change or perhaps it would be clearer to say, a change-back.

Confused yet? Boy I was for awhile! Paralyctically confused and caught in a downward spiral of planning. Each morning I would wake up and grasp a new idea and by afternoon have an entirely new year laid out for Marianna - seriously!

I now have extensive plans for a Lord of the Rings Lit-based study, a Medieval study with pertinent books marching across our virtual shelves in accordance with our time-line (can't read a book out of order, can you?), a Lord of the Rings unit study emphasizing the Medieval and Christian themes contained within, blah, blah-blah, blah.

Actually the last four words is exactly how I felt about the whole thing. I'd scribble all these ideas down quickly, quickly, quickly and then start thinking about how this would look in a typical week, knowing that no week is ever going to be typical this year. What were the first things to be written in my planning pages, the ones that truly excited me and didn't fill my head and heart with dread?

Art Studies
Nature Studies
Science Experiments
Plans for Handwork and Crafts
Liturgical Teas
Field Trips

Very CM, right? Why cut out the things that filled us with joy? If the "wheel" on this "school bus" is rolling along just fine, why reinvent it?

Why indeed, I wondered, was I feeling this overwhelming urge to change things up when I was so very happy with how things were? More importantly, Hal and especially Marianna, were happy too.

The conclusion I reached?

Now don't laugh, you Moms of older homeschooled kids, but I have a Seventh Grader this year. Last year she was a Sixth Grader and I could pretend she was in one of those schools where Sixth Grade was still part of Elementary school. But this year - we've moved up to Junior High, baby! I panicked and froze just like a deer caught in the high beams of an on-rushing car (better make that a semi-truck, a Mack semi-truck).

Not pretty at all, much less beautiful.

I decided it was time to plan less and listen more. I began by looking through my own blog and keeping my eyes off others' work. I bravely asked input from the ever present girl looking over my shoulder and I tried to really listen to what she said as we reminisced. The things she remembered and the things she had wanted to do that got swept under the carpet received mental stars next to them on my planning list, the list that was shaping up to look very similar to the one I shared above.

If those were the things we really enjoyed, how in the world did they end up on the cutting room floor in the first place?

I began to think in terms of fitting our "basics" around those items. But before I could do that I imagined the worst day possible, one of those days where the outside world sticks it's head in the hatch and hands down it's own list of things to do that day. When such a day happens, whether it is full of chores in town or hurricane prep, what would I consider a successful schooling day? Reading, Writing and Arithmetic easily jump to mind.

When I began to plan from the standpoint of these three things and these three things alone for everyday I found that Writing was easily worked in with the items we loved and missed. As a single example, our Art Studies follow Penny Gardner's example of oral narration on Monday, sketches on Tuesday and Wednesday and written narration on Thursday. Could a similar base be found for the other days of the week too? The answer, of course, is YES!

That left Reading to cover for the basics. I could easily brush this off with the comment that you've never seen such a voracious reader...but I really do want to challenge and encourage my voracious reader and I think that is best described through a quote of Charlotte Mason that I found inspiring enough to use as the title to my 4th post on this blog.

"Education is a life; that life is sustained on ideas; ideas are of spiritual origin, and that we get them chiefly as we convey them to one another. The duty of parents is to sustain a child's inner life with ideas as they sustain his body with food."

Grand ideas, life sustaining ideas, ideas that are of spiritual origin. If I look at our book list for this year with this as my criteria and recall how when we followed a purer Charlotte Mason Term we implimented a slow reading of a few chapters a day of selected books and the resultant exchange of ideas, the discussions this sparked, the excitement when there was time to digest what was read, and anticipate what was coming, it makes me quite eager to return to this style of reading versus the gulping of many books. Plus - as a little boater comment - the thought of toppling towers of books again makes me seasick! We don't really need to read every book the library has on a chosen subject, so this year I am committing to going deep, not wide. I'm thinking the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, not the Platte River!

Oh and Math? That was easy, we're Saxon people. My mathematician of a father chose Saxon for us girls when we homeschooled and I see no reason to change that for Marianna especially since she thrives on it. Math we can leave well enough alone with one addition - Living Math Journals.

Now that I've yammered on much too long, I thought I'd share some things that were helpful to me in this time of pondering and thinking once I could look at other's work and not turn as green as one with mal de mer.

The conversation on Nuturing Beauty over at 4Real and Elizabeth's blog posts on Rhythm and Beauty and Creativity.

Leonie's posts on a Swallows and Amazon's Childhood and her Unschooling and Planning Series were very helpful.

Lissa's Rule of Six and the resultant Carnival that exploded last year also her concept of Tidal Homeschooling.

Penny Gardner and the ABC's of Charlotte Mason are two of my quick and dirty go-to sites when I need a quick refresher course on CM.

As a little exercise to end this post, which originally wrapped up in quite a wistful manner, hoping to one day write my own Rule of 6, I instead buckled down and committed myself to coming up with 6, right now, not this afternoon or next week or the first day of school opening exercise but right now. I mean I already had 3, surely I could come up with 3 additional ideas I would be happy with and you know, I did!


And then because I can't leave lists alone, I played around with it trying to make a word or a pattern or a poem and came up with FARWEB which will do for now. Hmmm...a FAR flung WEB bracketed by Faith and Beauty might not be a bad Rule of 6 to have as we raft through the deep canyon of knowledge this year!

Do you have a Rule of 6 this year?

Charlotte Mason

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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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