Did I say that already? I am so out of it without the beloved laptop.
Anyway, I have a new niece! Her name is Kalia (said like Kaliyah) Elise. Kelli had her on Friday and went home from the hospital on Monday. I talked to her on Tuesday and she sounds like she's in love: "Kalia is a little honey." Kelli wanted a girl really bad but thought she was having a boy - she had opted out of finding out the sex from the ultrasound, so was working on instinct. Everyone else thought she was having a boy, too. So this was a big surprise. After the C-section, she was all groggy, and kept asking, "Are you sure it's a girl?" :)
I guess Kyle is just in love with her, too. Kelli was worried he'd be jealous, but instead he's just a good big brother. Gets all concerned when she cries and stuff. Too cute.
I'll be going home to see her and the rest of the family in August. Hopefully I'll be able to resist the temptation of stealing her.
Actually, hearing Kelli had a little girl - this happened in Bimini - made me realize even more that I wanted babies. Now. Of course, it can't happen now, so I'll be patient, but ahh!
Thinking about it over the course of a few days, I came to the realization that having kids with Chris will ensure that I will never be the favorite parent. Seriously, Chris is just so sweet and patient... Then I thought, "But hey, the dogs follow ME even when he's home." But then it hit me that they only do that because I'm the one that's more generous with food and treats. I don't know how well that will work on kids.. I mean, you can bribe kids with candy and stuff when you're an aunt (it is a tactic that has served me well), but it probably wouldn't be so wise to do that as a parent. Health of the kid and all. Ah well, I guess second place isn't so bad.
I was also thinking of this thing that Maggie Mason said, which stuck in my head long ago: "When I was single, I decided I wouldn't marry a man unless I could be proud if we had a son who turned out exactly like him." Let me say, although I've always been partial to little girls, the idea of having a baby Chris makes me very happy. :)
And now so you can all have an "aww" moment (all three of you):
How cute is this kid???
Alright, enough of this hormone-fueled post. Back to regular programming... Hey, did I mention that Oreo pissed on the dog bed the other day? :)
We left Friday morning. Smooth water (well, reasonably smooth) on the way there.
We went diving Friday at the Sapona. I got a nice pic of that wreck before, which is sticking out of the water. It's super-super shallow... Most people just snorkel it. But it turned out to be a really, really nice dive. I got pictures, so I'll have to post them.
We swam back to the boat underwater, and while inspecting a conch shell right by the anchor, I noticed that not only did it have a conch in it, but there was a SEA HARE hiding next to it. In front of our anchor, so it would've dragged right over them. Eeeeh! I so don't like anchoring, for this reason. So I lugged the anchor to be in front of them underwater so we wouldn't hurt 'em. And I was so delighted that I got to see another sea hare - I had only seen one once, on a night dive in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, years ago.
Yesterday we got up later than we should've... I didn't have much sleep the night before and Chris always is too nice with letting me sleep in, so yeah... Anyway, got out on the water finally. It was beautiful. We went on a dive at Tuna Alley. The current was ripping, so it wasn't as relaxing as I like it, but it was still interesting, as dives always are. The safety stop was a bit tough, having to hold onto the mooring line. Chris had gone out in the open water to do his and he started to get pulled away from me, which made me nervous, so I held out my hand. I was holding the rope with one hand and his hand with the other. After about a minute of this, I had to point to the rope so he'd grab on since my arm was ready to pop out of its socket. CURRENT. Finally we got back in the boat and I discovered that something stung Chris - bad. He had a burning rash on his arm and shoulder. He thinks it's from the rope on the way down. Again, CURRENT. (You normally don't hold onto anything to go down, but it was necessary this time.) I'm buying him a skin.
He was dived out at this point, on account of his burning-hurting arm, so we decided to go to Honeymoon Harbor, which Joel The Boat Guy had told us about when we stopped in the shop on Thursday. He said there were lots and lots of stingrays there and that they were tame. And GOD am I ever happy he told us about it. There were lots of boats there, as he warned there would be... One was a party boat filled with binge drinkers... Girls standing on the boat pouring alcohol into people's mouths in the water. REALLY loud music. But it was so gorgeous we didn't even get annoyed. :) We snorkeled around.. Stingrays were EVERYWHERE. I guess people feed them there, which explains why they come as close as they do. I didn't have any shrimp, sadly. I stayed in the water until all the heat was sucked out of my body.. EASILY an hour. Probably more like two. Ever the dear, Chris went back to the boat to check the weather as it looked like it was going to rain, and then just hung out. His attention span for looking at hermit crabs is much shorter than mine. Later, he said the boat looked so nice since he cleaned the outside of it off. "When did you do that?" I asked. "Back at Honeymoon Harbor." Cleaning his boat off so I could continue to paddle around in the shallows.. SUCH a love.
There were conch shells everywhere that I was checking out... Fish hiding in some, crabs in others, in the very shallow water there were actually CONCHS, and even an OCTOPUS in one. So cool! Often when I would look up from peering into a conch, I would realize that a stingray or two were RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Waiting for shrimp, no doubt. We saw lots of rays even from the boat, and a really cool shark I have to look up.
It was nice. I fed the fish half our oatmeal and some bread and bits of apple and I loved it, maybe more than them. While I was rinsing our breakfast dishes in the water this morning at the marina, the sergeant majors came up and were swimming IN the bowl to eat the leftover bits. It reminded me of Gretchey. :) Then they nipped my hands, a bunch. It was fun and funny, even though it was a tad startling.
The water today was super calm, so the ride back was a million times better than it was the last time. And we managed to avoid the thunderstorms, too, so yay!
Pics to follow soon. Hope to get that computer in shape this week.
I don't know why I got to thinking about him tonight...
But do I ever hope he's OK.
I still figure that he must've just walked into someone's house, the way he did mine. (And my old neighbors', I learned.) Ate their dog's food, rubbed against their leg and their dog... and with that, made himself a new home.
Otherwise he would have come home.
I just can't stop kicking myself for not being a better cat mommy; if I had been, I'd still have him. I got too comfortable with the fact that he would come home... Which was fine, before we moved.
I pray he didn't get lost... isn't hungry... isn't the tiny cat he was when I first started feeding him.
I like to think that the people who have him saw my LOST CAT posters and decided he was such a good cat that they'd keep him anyhow. (Seriously, if you knew this cat, you wouldn't doubt that at all.)
I just hope, hope, hope, hope that he is happy and healthy right now. He was absolutely the best cat... I hope someone appreciates him for that.
I was searching for directions the other day and noticed this "Street View" thing. I could click on each turn and it would show me the intersection. So cool.
Later, I did a search for our place. It actually showed the house two doors down, but you can press the arrows to go where you want. So here's our house! You can go across the street, down A1A... It's so cool. I'm a bit disappointed that none of the cats are rolling around in the driveway, like they usually do. The door is cracked on this picture for the cats. We don't do that anymore; they've all mastered the doggy doors at this point.
Oh, the computer... I gotta restore, which means I have to go buy this thing at Best Buy so I don't lose all my music & pictures. Yay. And re-install everything. Double Yay. So I am guessing the laptop will be out of commission for a while longer. We're tentatively planning a weekend in Bimini, depending on what the weather (Gulf Stream, namely) is like. I spent 3 hours on the phone with Dell today, so I'm in no rush to spend MORE time on this thing. For right now.
Instead of getting souvenirs for my family from the Galapagos, instead I had some prints made and framed them, with mats and all. I think they turned out pretty nicely. And will probably be appreciated more than a gift-shop trinket.
I had some other pics printed - a crab, iguanas, a tortoise - but figured that they would appreciate the cuddly sea lions and booby more than the silly things that I like so much. Those prints will be going up at my house, I guess. :)
She was at Patty's. We got the phone call at 6 a.m. or so. Patty said she was foaming at the mouth. Chris, thinking quickly despite having just woken up, told her to hose Gretchey's mouth out. Patty did, and Gretch stopped foaming, but she kept licking and licking her lips. Patty then took her to the pet ER and was told that she did well, and that Gretch was OK. THANKFULLY - dogs can be paralyzed or die from the toxins in the bufos here.
I went to get her from Patty's this a.m. and the big question all day has been, "How's Gretchey?"
I think this picture illustrates that Gretch is back to her usual self.
She went swimming earlier today, and just now I heard some rustling in the kitchen so ran out and found that Gretchen decided to clean out the bottom of a cat food bag and got her head stuck. She was running around the kitchen with this thing on her head. The camera was in reach, so I snapped this before I pried the bag off.
Gretchen didn't seem relieved; she only wanted the bag back so she could make sure she got all the crumbs out.
Yep, she's back to normal.
The previous tenants of the condo left this there, so we brought it home. Chris asked Patty if she wanted it, but she said no because Buddy would bark at it.
Soon after, Buddy, who was visiting, noticed this dog. He started running at it, jumping backwards scared, and barking at it. He ran in circles around it, barking.
The other dogs sniffed at it, but he did not disappoint in acting Buddy-like with it. :D
It looks immensely better.
The BEFORE pic is on Flickr.
I'm really happy! Now we just need stuff on the walls!
No longer empty!
Sad the dogs left their space to fight, but it sure looks nicer. Too bad we have to put sheets & blankets on all the furniture as it would look better without, but then everything would get dirty and furry.
More photoshopping tonight meant another batch of Galapagos pictures went up. :)
I basically forgot how much I liked living by the ocean until the past couple of weeks, during which I've visited Chris's condo a bunch. Last night, the ocean was a bit angry and you could hear it from inside, with all the windows and doors shut. That used to be a constant sound. Then today, look at it! Super calm. I just wanted to jump off the balcony and run in the water with my clothes on.
Of course, living in a condo also means dealing with security guards and condo commandos, neither of which are conducive to that "home" feeling.
And that is a fact I have to strongly remind myself of every time I look off this balcony at those slowly lapping waves.
This is very long, but I like to document stuff for my own memory's sake. So here goes my dive report.
I didn't do much diving in the Galapagos, but this was a memorable one. Chris had warned me that this dive had a lot of current - a lot - and that you basically just descend and find a rock to grab onto, then watch things swim by. The description did not disappoint.
So, we descended, and thankfully there were rocks everywhere so it wasn't too hard to find something to latch onto. A few minutes later, our divemaster, Ruly (nickname for Raul as he was a Raul, Jr.), motioned that we should swim out, away from the safety of the rocks. I followed, but omg.
My buoyancy was so off since I was really struggling with my weighting. See, when you dive in the Galapagos, you gotta wear a much thicker wetsuit than you're used to. I went from my normal 3mm to a 7mm wetsuit, with hood and all.
Bundled up! I don't usually wear a snorkel as they very much annoy me. However, on a dive in waters like this, you kinda gotta suck it up and wear one anyway. In case you get separated from the boat or something. (Which also is why I have a whistle and safety sausage, neither of which are part of my Florida gear.)
The more mm you have, the more buoyant you are. Also, the water in Galapagos has very high salinity, which adds even more buoyancy. So you add a bunch of weight onto your belt (or your pockets, in my case) and hope you have enough. On the checkout dive, the panga drivers had lots of extra weights along so they could pass them over to divers who hadn't taken along enough. I had him hand me, like, three weights. I wouldn't sink without them. Since I didn't get any chance to work out the kinks with the weight over the course of the week, I was still trying to figure that out on Saturday's dive at Gordon's Rocks. I had dropped a full 3 lbs the day before, after feeling much too heavy on the dive, and thought that would do it, but I was still too heavy at Gordon's Rocks. Trying to compensate with air in my BC was slow-going, since I didn't want to overdo it. My formulaic add-one-puff-of-air-right-before-I-hit-the-bottom plan from home didn't work there, to say the least.
So anyway, we're out in the water and I'm HEAVY. I am trying to add air but not too much. It's a major struggle to just stay at 50 ft, since I don't want to sink down to the bottom at 70. Also, I'm uncomfortably vertical in this struggle, it seems, and feel short of breath from being sick. Yay.
This is when Ruly points out the hammerheads in the distance. This is cool. I finally get enough air in my BC to hang out without kicking with all my might. This is good.
Then we swim back to another section of rocks. The current is strong, but not THAT bad. I start looking at the rocks in front of me, and realize that lots of the empty barnacles are filled with the barnacle blennies I had spotted in the Galapagos fish ID book from the night before. This makes me very happy as they are ADORABLE. Look at 'em! I love me some grumpy-looking animals.
Holding onto the rocks, staring at fish, probably much like the one at the top there. Chris laughed when he showed me a series of five or so shots in a row, since he likes to make fun of me for always looking at the small stuff (and risking something really cool swimming by in the process). "There's you, staring at a rock. This one is of you, oh look! Staring at a rock!"
At some point, Ruly motions for us to follow him again. We start to swim and the current, I dunno, picks up? All of a sudden, although I'm trying to go straight, I end up being swept to the right. I look over and see that I will at least hit the safety of rocks again, and that I'm not being carried out into open ocean. I try to swim straight, but honestly the current will not let me. I decide instead to let myself be carried to the right while trying to swim a little, and know I can pull myself ahead on the rocks.
We hang out for a bit longer. Again, Ruly asks us to follow him with a motion of his hands. This time, as the current is so strong, only a couple of people try to follow him. The rest are creeping along the rocks, not venturing out into the current as they know it is pointless. This isn't small current, the kind you can swim against; this is the kind of current that carries you away. Chris was ahead of me and told me later that even Ruly gave up on swimming and came back to the rocks.
Gordon's Rocks, from the boat. On the dive, we were swimming around the foundation these peaks.
As we head back in the direction we came from, the current is insanely strong. There were gaps in the rocks, so I would have to let go of them to follow Chris and the rest of the group. In between the rocks, I wasn't swimming so much as BEING LIFTED, like falling. I would scan the rocks in front of me for a good place to grab. I started hesitating when I thought of all the things living in the rocks, which made everything more difficult. At home, I touch NOTHING, so changing my mentality to GRABBING while diving is a big change, and unaccepable when eye-to-eye with the little faces of the barnacle blennies.
Yet, I don't have a choice, so I try to pick the best spot I can without touching anything I shouldn't. While following in the current, I realize that the longer I am in the open water, the faster the current takes me, so I have to grab onto every rock that I can to slow it down. You let go for 5 seconds, you're moving fast; but if you let go for 10 seconds, you are streaming at a frightening pace. Having to grab onto the rocks for dear life sucks, especially after one of them had something that seemed like an anemone of some sort. I pulled my hand back and shook my head and there I decided that I did not like this current. All in all, I'm pretty sure we didn't really do any damage by touching the rocks... These fellas probably just sank back into their barnacle spots and waited 'til our gloves pulled away. But still, it was uncomfortable.
Chris and I sat out the second dive at Gordon's Rocks, as did most of our group. Only something like 6 of the 14 divers went back for a second shot. The English fella sat it out since he and his buddy literally got pulled away by the current on the first dive, and were hopelessly separated from our group. I think it was he that wrote "DIVE OF DEATH" under the Gordon's Rocks heading of the dry-erase dive plan diagram.
The dive plan, pre "DIVE OF DEATH"
I didn't sit out the second dive because I was scared of the current or anything like that. It's just anxiety-inducing to be FORCED to grab onto rocks, when you are so worried about what you're grabbing. If the rocks had been devoid of life, no problem. But I didn't want another 50 minutes of being uncomfortable with what I was doing.
However, I am very glad I got to dive there, to experience what it was like. To experience current that lifts you and makes you feel as you're falling through the water, uncontrollably. It's an experience, for sure.
But wow, am I ever going to be feelin' chill and happy to be back in Florida waters when the ocean calms down, floating nearly upside down so I can stare at a google-eyed fishy that I have found - and no hands.