Candle from Christmas
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Our homemade calendar candle garden, decorated with seeds and things we found at the Botanic Gardens just up on shore by the moorings. And also some Nissen (Danish elves) a friend in Denmark made.
At this point we needed some more special green grass from the Gardens. We had to make a stealth mission at night to go pick some more from one of the landscaped beds.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Malou in her role as Mary
Joplin photos online
Angela Rose Aquino
A link to a Joplin photo blog that I came across today. Joplin, Missouri, my home town. Photos take by a college student.
revised: Jan. 6th
I meant to say this next part earlier, but will add it now after Clint's observent comment. Thanks.
These photos are not representative of Joplin as a whole; neither are they images you might see in a Chamber of Commerce brochure.
They don't show the beautiful historic homes, tree-lined boulevards, the thriving parts of town or the newly built medical complexes, shopping centers or fancy neighborhoods.
I really like the theme of these photos.
I like them because the detailed views of some dilapidated downtown areas contrast interestingly with the shot of the simple and beautiful natural surroundings. They contrast, but the shots elicit similar responses from me: appreciation and familiarity.
Appreciation for the quirky parts of town...quirky like a location for a David Lynch movie. Some of the photos show places I went with friends; places we didn't think our parents knew about or at least would ever go... (not Union Station though) I never went there. The 'Chat Piles' on the edge of town could be a magical landscape on a moonlit night in the summer, the white chat from the mines reflecting the moonlight like snow.
The photos also capture some of the clear low light of winter days and the fall leaves on the tracks, and the sculptural quality of the trees after the dangerous but beautiful ice storms.
Happy New Year! w/addendum
01/01/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2009.
What's on my mind as we start the new year? Well, a lot.
You might be sorry I finally decided to write. Maybe I just needed to put some things in print. So...
The following views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the rest of the crew of the s/v Radiance.
Addendum to previous posting:
I do not profess having perfect manners.
I think good manners can suffer when one becomes defensive.
To show good manners even when one is defensive is probably a sign of good upbringing, training, or breeding, possibly mixed with an even temperament.
I feel I have been put on the defensive by those I have met who carry definite assumptions about the United States and about Americans. I'm inserting here a key issue in international affairs. (Is the United States a sum of it's citizens, and is an American necessarily representative of the United States? In other words, what is the distinction between personal identity and national identity?) Another blog posting.
I sometimes make them even though I know they rarely stand up to close scrutiny.
I do not believe, however, that I would make statements like the following: "Don't most people in your county carry guns?", or "We have heard that Americans do things 'over the top'".
Like one, like many?
Steen, Malou and I went to a social gathering last month. I won't say what gathering because it might not be fair to that 'group of people' we went to see. Anyway, as Americans visiting Australia, we were guests, in a way, at this gathering. Within twenty minutes of our arrival, a man from the club told me the following story.
"I knew someone who worked in America. He came back (to Australia) with some stories... none of them good. He said while he was working there he met a woman from Boston who seemed educated; she was doing the New York Times crossword; and she said to him, 'So, if it's summer in Australia when it's winter in the U.S., then what month is it there now?'
Then he told me another story about one of his friend's American business contacts from Houston. The man from Houston was going to be moving to Australia with his wife and children for business reasons. The American apparently said on the phone to the Australian, that he hoped his kids would be able to pick up the new language ok.
The man telling me these stories thought they were very funny and for some reason assumed I would also. I didn't. I told him I would be quite surprised if either story had even a hint of truth. I thought to myself... even if they had been true, I fail to see why anyone would begin a conversation with a visiting American with such insulting material. I lost interest in conversing with this person after that.
Out and about:
Steen, Malou and I went out looking for a really good hamburger. We walked all over downtown looking for a promising restaurant or café. There are at least two McDonalds downtown, probably more, and I sometimes like McDonalds, but this day we were looking for what you might call a serious burger. Lunchtime was slipping away and we finally found a little café, with a counter inside and seats outside, that had burgers on the menu at a fairly decent price. I went in alone and ordered two cheeseburgers, a coke and a mocha. (Malou had fallen asleep on Steen's lap outside.) The girl behind the counter taking my order looked at me a little too long, so I clarified by ordering two hamburgers with cheese. (The menu board said hamburgers... and near the bottom said for cheese, add 80c.). Then another woman behind the counter came and stood beside the first girl and said to me with a very serious look, "We don't make McDonald-like cheeseburgers here."
I just gave her a blank stare back. Okay, I'm thinking, why would you say that to me?
All I could say was, "I'd like two of Your cheeseburgers", as if that hadn't been quite obvious since I had just ordered them. The place was full of customers waiting for their order. Apparently I was the only one speaking with an American accent, which apparently told the woman behind the counter that I would only like McDonald's cheeseburgers. And, no she wasn't trying to be friendly or funny. She was quite serious. I was glad we were eating outside because this minor little episode happened one week after meeting the insulting gentleman at the social gathering, and I was not really in the mood to be stereotyped. The burgers came and were gorgeous; exactly what we had wanted. At least that bit turned out all right.
You see, it's these little remarks, over and over, along with statements I've received from some cruisers that go something like, "Yes, I've known boats who've tried to stay away from the anchorages where the Americans were."
Can you imagine that remark in reverse; an American cruiser saying anything like that about boaters from another country? I can't.
So, I apologize for my bad manners. Everyone displays them sometimes, but I haven't recovered from the hurt I've received, (and I've left out the bad stuff), from careless and callous remarks about my country and my countrymen.
Is this a cyclical phenomenon, this Anti-Americanism? Maybe, but that doesn't justify it and it doesn't mean that when the cycle turns, if it does, that those interacting with Americans will be any more unbiased.
To end: of course, most of the cruisers and locals we met in the islands and elsewhere were positively wonderful. Should I just ignore the rest and not be affected by their words? No. Because this current Anti-Americanism is not based solely on our foreign policy, on our national stance on the environment, on Guantanamo Bay, on Iraq, on Israel. No, it's more overarching. Some of the negative remarks I've received have had nothing to do with our foreign policy. They touch on our culture, our television programs, our food, our physiques, our social policies, our educational systems, our clothing, our holiday traditions, and on and on.
I haven't quite worked out my thoughts on the possible dangers of this type of stereotyping, but I think it's dangerous.
Personally, I know the United States has some problems. What country doesn't? I know that we use more natural resources than we should. I have fought to change that. I could list many examples of national policies that I don't agree with, and of course, many that I do.
But, my words to those from other lands: Don't insult me; talk to me. Don't pre-judge me; get to know me. And don't think that just because I may not agree with every action of the United States, that I will think it's ok for anyone to insult my heritage. Simple manners would suffice.
So, what do you really think?
That's all for now.
Happy New Year!
12/31/2008, Brisbane, Australia
Random topics to start the new year:
Biomimicry in architecture; look up the CH2 building in Melbourne and the Eastgate Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The Biomimicry Institute in Montana
Manners: an article to start the new year:
The author Alexander McCall Smith, who, in my opinion, understands good manners.
A question to be explored:
that of whether or not it is good manners to treat an American travelling abroad as guilty until proven innocent. In this case, an American cruiser who has opinions on American politics and culture, of course, but does not appreciate constant negative opinions about the United States from foreigners who, as it often happens, have not even been to the United States.
The phrase 'stereo-typical American'. How insulting is that phrase for it is spoken with a negative connotation. I would counter, of course, that if there exists a 'typical' American, they are likely to be generous, kind, hard-working, honest, and polite. And let's not forget intelligent and hospitable.
I love the United States and I can't wait to return there for some good old-fashioned politeness and manners and home-cooking, and outdoor fun, and intelligent conversation with friends and family from all kinds of professions and interests and hobbies.
There are many reasons why I hope to have a good 2009.
Many of them are tied to the things I love about the United States.
The people are amazing for one. Most people around the world have a similar level of integrity, I think. But, not all peoples of the world share the same definition of manners. Most people of the world will probably help you if you are in need; but not all, in my opinion, are as accepting and welcoming as "the typical American".
I look forward to meeting people from different parts of the world, and welcoming them to my homeland, on my own turf, into my home.
I will not be asking them to explain their country's political actions or foreign policy. I will not be expecting them to account for the actions of their government. I will not be assuming they are uneducated and wasteful, or ignorant of their country's position in the world.
No, I will ask them what their interests are, how do they take their coffee, would they like to take a walk or a drive and see some of the beautiful scenery, or maybe would they just like to chat and get to know each other. If I want to know about their country, then I think a good place to start is to get to know THEM.
That's what's on my mind this New Year's Day.
Merry Christmas from Team Radiance and the Koala
12/26/2008, Brisbane, Australia
Best Wishes for the New Year.
Compression Post Christmas Tree
The week before Christmas.
Waving the big flag.
11/05/2008, Brisbane, Australia
Excerpts from Election night speeches of Senators John McCain and Barack Obama
10/26/2008, Garden Point Pile Moorings, Brisbane, Australia
Senator John McCain:
"A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.
To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.
In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.
I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too."
Excerpts from Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.
It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.
... It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.
... I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you....It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and 10 dollars and 20 dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy...and from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, ...This is your victory.
I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.
...The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.
...And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down, we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security, we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright, tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.
...For that is the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow
...America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves: If our children should live to see the next century... what change will they see? What progress will we have made?
This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time: to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism and doubt and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:
Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America."
10/26/2008, Brisbane Airport, Australia
Glad to see Daddy.
Malou in Paradise
10/18/2008, Manihi Atoll last year
Malou in Paradise.
A little of Manihi
As you may know it has been more than a year since we left the Manihi atoll. We have been writing on this blog posting from time to time since. We want it to feel like we did at Manihi, but it impossible for us to do. So here is the first part of our notes from Manihi. They are not as finished as we would have liked them to be.
...a continuation of a posting made JULY 10th, which read:
[...Shortly after anchoring, a local man came up in his open work boat, welcomed us to Manihi, and handed Steen three fresh baguettes. "Fernand", a bread baker in the morning and a black pearl farmer in the afternoon, looked about 40-something, but said he had five grown children, the youngest 12. He invited us to his home, and offered to pick us up the next morning his work boat. Surprisingly, we are the only cruising boat here, and so we have this part of Manihi, (the beach combing and snorkeling), all to ourselves...It should be a good week.]
First we will say that it was a VERY good week, an amazing week in fact. We were treated with a level of hospitality and kindness that made us redefine our concept of generosity. Generosity in the Polynesian culture is a concept different from the generosity we know. It ties to a much looser sense of ownership. To grossly simplify this sense of ownership one could say that, anything you have, that I ask for, you are obligated to give me. This includes possessions from yams in the ground to your children. If you have some time, look into this on the internet. It is very interesting, and gave Captain Cook a lot of trouble.
We experienced many of these acts of generosity in the week we spend in Manihi. One morning on the wharf Angela noticed a lady with a hand-made lei that she was wearing around her head. It was made of little pieces of bright orange fabric, and it was beautiful. Later that day we meet this lady on the street. Angela complimented her on her lei. With a big smile the lady put the lei on Angela and said, "I am glad you like, it is yours". A similar thing happened to me after church. I had noticed that Ferdinand's oldest son was wearing a very nice tie with a beautiful tropical print. When a complimented him on his tie he said, "I have made it myself. I am very happy you like it. It is yours". I tried to refuse the tie, but got a look from Ferdinand telling me not to be disrespectful. Just a brief glimpse of a culture.
and now for the story of a few more days of our stay at Manihi:
(Our second day in Manihi and we thought Fernand was planning to show us his home, but his invitation turned out to be to his black pearl business on 'his' motu (small island) separated by shallow water from the rest of the atoll; the atoll is basically a series of low-lying motus strung together in a big circle like a necklace, surrounding a lagoon; the remnants of an ancient volcano. The villages are built on the largest motus and Fernand's business is on one of the smaller ones.)
Steen: Around 10:00 am, Fernand picked us up at Radiance in his large workboat to take us down to his motu and pearl farm. The mile long boat ride there took no time at all with his gigantic outboard motor, (all 90 horses running at full gallop). Malou thought that was great fun. Fernand's wooden dock extended out over the reef, and the fish in the clear shallow water looked exactly like what you would find in a big city indoor aquarium. I know that is a pathetic benchmark to have for coral fish, but never the less that was what I thought of. His daughter, son and niece were busy pulling up oyster lines from the dock and at the same time fishing for dinner.
Angela: The small buildings on stilts where Fernand's family operated their pearl business was not actually the 'pearl farm' itself, but rather the place where they did the delicate 'oyster operations' you have to do to eventually end up with a black pearl. The only 'farm' associated with the pearl business is four meters beneath the water a hundred yards from shore.
Steen: We were introduced to Fernand's wife Stella at her workbench. Stella places a mother-of-pearl made from Mississippi abalone, in a little pocket she cuts in the oyster. She places a small piece of black oyster meat in with the pearl, in exactly the right spot. Without this little piece of 'meat' the pearl will not turn black. How anybody figured that out the first time I do not know. Stella has been working with these pearls for many years and can place a pearl in the oyster in 15 seconds. From her workbench the oysters are tied to ropes and suspended 4 meters below the surface out in the lagoon. Every 4 to 5 months each rope is taken to the reef for 2 days. In that time the reef fish completely clean the growth off the rope and the oysters. After 15 months in the water, voila! a black pearl.
Both Angela and I found it very interesting to see how these black pearls of the South Pacific were made. Malou, however, was more interested in a little yellow puppy named Rusty. Malou loved him so much that when we got back to Radiance she named a coconut 'Rusty'. We drew on a face and ears with a marker and he has a bungee cord for a tail. Malou takes really good care of Rusty.
Steen: Fernand had told us that he had plenty of water on the motu and that we were welcome to do our laundry there. So we brought some of our laundry and intended to do it by hand as we had become accustom to. We were very surprised to see that Stella had a 24V washing machine, out back behind a little house. Everything on the motu runs off solar panels. They even had a 24V full size refrigerator.
Lunch began with delicious fresh coconut milk straight out of the nut with a straw. Then we had fresh oyster with lime. We had no idea that Malou liked oysters so much. We looked away for a moment and Malou had eaten half of them. We had to move the plate away from her in order to enjoy some ourselves.
Next Fernand had a dozen fresh sea snails that he cracked the shells on and cleaned in the shallow water right before eating them. They were so fresh that they were still wiggling on plate. Malou was less crazy about these.
Fernand would like to put in 5 mooring buoys outside his motu. Each buoy would be chained to a large coral block. (The biggest headache when anchoring in these lagoons is getting your anchor fouled in coral. Not only is it a headache, it also damages the coral when the chain is pulled free. A mooring buoy would solve both problems.) He also plans to have a small dinghy dock so cruisers could get ashore and eat at the small restaurant he wants to open. Very industrious.
We were surprised to learn that a pearl farmer from Manihi could be so well traveled. Fernand had been to the United States twice. One time on a 40-day coast-to-coast-north-to-south tour. He has seen more of the States than most Americans.
So where does a family from Manihi go on their annual vacation? New Zealand, where it is nice and cool and green. Fernand has taken his family to New Zealand 7 times and had only good things to say about the country. We are looking forward to going there ourselves later this year.
As we motored back to Radiance, Fernando cracked open a fresh oyster, rinsed it off over the edge of the boat and handed it to Malou. She popped it in her mouth and ate it as fast as she could. He was so impressed that he brought 'Malou' two dozen fresh and sliced oysters the next day. We had oysters for lunch and dinner.
Today we went exploring the outside or ocean side of the reef. It is a strange place to be. You are walking one millions of years of accumulated coral pieces piled up on the rim of a volcano. The inside crater of the volcano forms the shallow lagoon. The outside of the volcano drops straight into the ocean. When you stand 50ft from the edge of the outside reef you can through a piece of coral into 600ft of water just outside the reef.
The outside reef is full of life both in the sallow water and in all the small tide pools. Both Malou and Angela found many pretty coral and shells to bring back to Radiance. Instead of walking along the beach back we thought it would be easier to cut across the motu to get to the dinghy. We were very surprised to find dense and tough vegetation across the 150 yard wide atoll. It took a while to get back across. We wished we had our 'old' dog Hank with us. He was a very good bush wackker and would quickly have found the easiest path back.
Once we got back to the lagoon we wadded back through the shallow warm water towards the dingy. There were colorful fish everywhere. This was a great place for Malou since she could walk in the water while looking at the fish. Malou and I did not have the camera and was getting ahead of Angela since she was taking many pictures. When we were almost back at the dinghy a small black-tip reef shark swam by us and over towards the coral block Angela was standing by. I tried to tell Angela where to look, but was so excited that that I got my left, right, up and down all confused. By the time Angela finally looked the right way the little shark was far gone. We have not seen many sharks yet. There was one swimming around Radiance in Nuku Hiva chasing a large school of fish. I saw a 4ft black tip reef shark while diving along the steep cliffs at Nuku Hiva. So I was a little disappointed that this little guy got by Angela without her seeing it.
That night we went to dinner at Fernand's house and saw a local dance performance later that night.
The following days Steen went fishing on the outside of the reef with Fernand and caught his first Yellow fin tuna. Angela helped Stella with baking for the local French pastry competition. We made friends with George and Isabella on a Canadian boat. We exchanged farewell presents from Ferdinand's family.
More about that in a later posting
10/01/2008, Between Fiji and New Zealand
I have added an other YouTube video. This one is taken on the second to last day of our trip from Fiji to New Zealand. Our little home going up and down.
I think this was the day we caught this yellew fin tuna.