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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tim - 16

SPECIAL REQUEST: ice cream cake from Dairy Queen!
To think that at sixteen I was just a mere twit and that my son, now 16 as of Saturday, is practically an adult. I owe it to many things, but mostly I think cruising has had an effect on my eldest that has empowered him in ways that I could never have imagined at his age.
His confidence.
His articulate communication.
His rationale.
His desire to lend a hand.
He is capable.
I am so proud!

Birthday breakfast at Panama Restaurant - singing senoritas delivered Tim a cupcake. He hates me right now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Letter to a Former Cruiser

Yes, the duct tape is charmingly atrocious, but Jimmy Crack Corn!
I sent an email off this morning to a friend back home who was a live-aboard years ago. I know that she (and any other past or present cruiser) will understand the pure joy and rapture that I experienced on the first night of summer. Being in Mexico in an area where you can't jump into the water takes the meaning of 'humidity' to a whole different level. And it's not even that hot yet! Here is my note:

Hi Debbie!

Guess what Jim just installed???
An air conditioner!!!!!!

Being as how we are on the dock and will be here probably for the entire summer...
and being as how I refused to get off the boat much because I was a human sweatball...
and being as how I believe hot flashes have begun to visit me periodically...
Jim wised up and spent the $160 (would have been more like $75 in the US, but oh well!) and brought home a window unit.

My new UGLY best friend! I'm lovingly installing weatherstripping
around its hot spots this afternoon!
As you would know, the unit didn't fit in the hatch we wanted it to. So, we moved it to the forward cabin where the kids sleep and ran dryer hoses to vent the air into the main salon and where Jim and I sleep. It looks archaic and ridiculous, but I don't care! And the fact that I can't latch my closet back anymore because there are these monstrous hoses blocking the latch doesn't bother me a bit. And I don't mind that Jim's and my privacy has been interrupted because we can't close our berth off from innocent young eyes as I lie in front of the fan in my most natural state soaking up the fresh, vented, icy breath that roars through those monstrous hoses. And if I can't hear anyone talking to me because the background noise is so loud, who am I to get upset? Less negotiating!

I'm actually on my way to take a shower... I actually CARE now that I don't have to use my clothing to sop up the sweat that poured off my body. I've also started getting up early and walking again while listening to my Spanish lessons on my MP3 player. I might even use the oven... yes, the OVEN... and bake my man a cherry pie!

knew you would understand!

Missing you!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

¡Hablo español!

Fred Laphen, 669-984-8010 or 669-106-0305

My biggest disappointment having lived in Mexico for three years now is that our children are still not fluent in Spanish. I had this huge dream that all of us - the entire family -  would be blabbering away... speaking 'Mexican' at rapid rates of speed and using present tense AND past participle - regular and irregular verbs.

I have said it a million times, "If it is one thing that my kids get out of living in a foreign country it will be that they are fluent in a second language."  I truly believe in my heart that speaking a second or third language is paramount when it comes to employment, especially in this time of economic crisis.

With that being said, why - why - WHY are my children still not speaking Spanish????

We are nomads. We move our home around depending on the weather. It is very difficult to live a nomadic life and be in one place long enough to develop relationships and establish routines with local people. We hang out mostly with other cruisers. And, cruisers in these parts means that our friends are mostly gringos from Canada and the USA who blabber away in English. Now that we are 'stuck' in one place for more than  a few weeks, es un buen oportinidad a aprender espanol! Carpe diem!

For our homeschool cirriculum, we have the kids studying Spanish. We use several programs. For me, my favorite is the Pimsleur Spanish I-III Speak and Read Essential Spanish audio CD's. I have the lessons on my MP3 player and I listen during my walks in the mornings.

Pimsleur is not cheap. We paid full price at Amazon back when we had jobs and an income. The second and third we thankfully got used and given as gifts. There are also downloadable formats for Ipods and MP3s. I recommend going to Ebay or Craigslist to see if you can get a bargain.

 We also have Rosetta Stone, a computer CD which is more visual... pictures and corresponding audio. That is great supplemental, I think.

However, if you can swing private lessons, that's the way to go.
I just spent a week in an intensive Spanish class. I began at 9am and worked on Spanish for 4 hours per day for 5 days. I will say that at the end of my 4 hours I was ready for a stiff cocktail and a siesta, but because it was too early for the cocktail I ended up going home and taking a nap. The classes were intense, but it was phenomenal.

If you are considering spending some time in Mazatlan, I highly recommend calling or visiting the director, Fred Laphen, at SPANISH AND ENGLISH FOR ALL. My teacher, Maria Elena, is a Mazatlan native and university professor. She was wonderful! I was in a class with one other person who, although could not speak as fluently as I, could write and read the language much better than I. It was a good fit.

Fred is very flexible - arranging teachers to coincide with your schedule and arranging classes so that you are in an appropriate level. He wants you to get the most out of your experience.

The price is roughly 100 pesos per hour for one-on-one Spanish lessons or group lessons. If there are more in your family or you have a group of friends that want to come together, Fred will give you a discount. For Tim and Carolyne to take a class together, for example, it will cost 180 pesos per hour. They start next week!

The school is located at - 230 Angela Perralta - just a smidgen south of the Gran Plaza mall and Mega grocery store. From the marinas on the north side of town, you can take either the Cerritos Juarez, Playa Sur or Torreo bus at just a cost of 6 pesos per person each way.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Breakdown of May Cruising Expenses for Three Years

$49 in US postage stamps, a standing oscillating fan to cool us off, a part we purchased from Cruise R/O to repair the alternator, a $20 late fee because I forgot to pay the credit card bill on time (grumble-grumble), a trip to the Aquarium, a movie night with snacks for the kids, and all of Jim’s medicine + Dr.’s office visits (the surgery expense was put on a credit card and will be shown next month when it is paid)...

The month of May was a good month... better than I thought. 
We still have the marina charges from La Cruz that haven’t shown up on the credit card statement yet. Next month will be agonizing with Jim’s surgery/hospital bill and the La Cruz marina charges.

We have been eating out quite a bit, but I’ll tell you a little secret. 
We rarely take the kids with us anymore. 
Taco stands or hotdogs, sure. But, dining out with our two kids at a sit down restaurant costs us around $35US each time... even in Mexico. Hey - prices are going up here, too. 
And our kids are perfectly happy to fix crap food for themselves and eat: hotdogs, macaroni & cheese, burritos, pasta... and then watch a movie on the laptop while we’re on a date. 
Sometimes, I think it's date night with Jim that keeps me from losing my ever-lovin’-mind.


2009 20102011

Groceries    556       665294
Boat Hardware     392913
Transportation          55149
Dining Out/Tips     131 109311
Internet/Skype       68
Tourism                 11927
Laundry     2034
Mail                     10050
Extra Tips                12
Marina/Mooring    530
Computer Hosting         60
Booze                   123103
Medical                        20256
Boat Repair            4,963165
Gifts               40         1192
Dinghy Dock                  
Boat Fuel      41           32
Propane            4       613
Boat Equipment        20822
Fabric/Crafts             2111
MISC                  118968

Friday, June 3, 2011

Why Practical Jokes Should be Left to Land Lubbers

I'm just reporting the facts. Practical jokes are hilarious... until someone loses an eye... or worse, has to take the head (toilet) apart. "Funnyman Floyd" would be a great alias for my story, but alas, Just-Plain-Ole-Jim-the-Joker will have to do... and it's not an alias at all.

It all started when I saw this cute little handbag at a craft fair. It was made out of soda and beer tabs. I loved it and wanted one. But being both cheap and creative, I decided I could save money and be clever by making it myself. My inspiration grew and I began thinking that a bikini out of beer tabs would be even cuter. But, because I won't stick to a diet- the idea of collecting so many beer tabs for my bikini seemed too ominous. I decided to stick with the handbag - it would take far less beer tabs. (Here are some examples of super cute handbags.)

Bad Kitty doesn't like the black hose to the shop vac; she hates it. Bad Kitty becomes big and puffed up, growling and using kitty curse-words, before launching herself out the companionway like a scary Halloween demon whenever Jim pulls out the hose for some good old redneck entertainment. This is one of Jim's favorite tricks. Another delight is hiding my cup of coffee in the wee hours when I'm groggy so that I get confused. Sneaky up from behind and placing a cold beverage on my backside sends Jim rolling when I shriek, yell and go for Advil to tame the brain freeze (or I-Scream-Headache) he's given me. He's a barrel of monkeys.

We were anchored in Mazatlan's Old Harbor last month when Jim came up with a new prank... sneaking a few beer tabs from my cute handbag collection into my britches. I discovered his new found fun when I sat down to eat lunch and felt an uncomfortable jab. I fished the tab out of my pants and then had to throw it away. I rolled my eyes as he busted a gut across the table from me. He says he's been getting compliments lately that he looks 25. Well, he may think he looks 25, but he most assuredly behaves like a 12 year old.

Well, I'm the one that got the last laugh. Yep... you put two and two together. Not one... but two of those tabs ended up in the head and got flushed down into the mechanics and clogged the works. Jim had to take the head apart and fish out the obstruction. When he discovered what it was, he came out of the head and held the two chewed up tabs in front of my face and said, "Look at what you did!" I won't tell you what I said because I'm polite. But, I am laughing still even as I write this down.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Radio Etiquette and Four Steps to VHF Happiness!

I just hate it when someone starts Holier Than Thou diatribe. But, at the risk of sounding petty, sanctimonious, and like a big, fat Little Mama... here it goes:

Step One to VHF Happiness: Face-to-face is full of grace.
Let's all face it - cruisers who use the VHF radio as a platform to humiliate other people and Tattly Natalies who broadcast problems over the radio that can be solved more efficiently with face-to-face conversation should be stripped from the waist down and spanked with a dirty, wet fly swatter!

Step Two to VHF Happiness: Spread news sweetly; not stinky feet-ly.
The VHF is a tool - similar to the old-fashioned telephone party line way-back-when. It is a way to have a community conversation, to include friends, to a party... to a potluck... to join in fellowship and fun... a way to spread the word... to make others aware of imminent danger (notice I used the word 'imminent') and to get recommendations of good places and people... not spread rumors... not to hash out disagreements or personal rifts on the Nets. Because let me tell you... I don't want to hear that garbage first thing in the morning. Wait until I'm hot and sweaty in the afternoon without A/C and sitting very unlady-like in front of the fan... like now... and then, maybe I'll even join in on the grumbling. But- not first thing in the cool and tranquil morning while I'm sipping my coffee and loving life.

Step Three to VHF Happiness: Be prudent in your words; they're listening in herds.
Another thing - if you wish to exchange personal information or discuss things that are private over the VHF radio, you can bet that there is more than one person listening. You can get defensive all you want- say it's bad manners to 'lurk' in on a conversation and that the 'lurker' is the one who deserves to have hurt feelings. I disagree. It's foolish to think you are having a private conversation - you're not. Use the phone if you want private or send an email. Better yet- walk, row or motor yourself to the person you wish to speak with in private and shut the companionway... and the hatches... and the portholes.

Step Four to VHF Happiness: Talk first; avoid the worst.
AND... (write this down if you need to) - I'm reiterating Step One with more vigor:
if you did not have a private conversation with 'the offender' first BEFORE you put your grumblies on the radio for the whole world to hear... you ought to be stripped completely naked and spanked with a dirty, wet fly swatter! (And those of you who think that sounds fun are just plain sick, by the way.)

Seriously, an attitude of kindness and helpfulness goes a long way. As Carolyne's kindergarten teacher used to say, "Find a way to be a problem solver, children. We already have too many problem makers in this world."