Month: July 2015

Soaking. Wet.

Posted on

I woke up at 1am again, and after tossing and turning for a bit I got up and walked out on deck, to sit and soak up our beautiful surroundings. It was a full moon and the marina was so still. It’s interesting to listen to the difference between day and night here…during the day, parrots fly noisily overhead, toucans made the sound of someone smashing two rocks together, pangas and dinghies work their way in and out of the marina, people are chatting as they work on their boats, and last night, not a sound was heard. The silence was thick like the humidity, almost as if a sleeping spell had been cast over Red Frog Marina, and I was the only one awake to witness it. It was beautiful. I loved knowing that below deck my children (6 of the 11!) were tucked in and sleeping peacefully.

FullSizeRender-111       FullSizeRender-110

I finally fell asleep about an hour before I had to wake up, and I awoke to heavy thunder and lightning. I cooked a big pot of oatmeal for everyone for breakfast, and we prepared to head into Bocas to see if the starter was done being repaired.

The water taxi ride in was a blast and a half! The panga pounded down against big waves and rain drenched everyone on board, so that by the time we reached Bocas, none of us had a dry spot on us. There was flooding down the streets as sheets of rain kept coming down, and that is how it continued for the entire 3 hours we were there, as well as for several hours after we returned to the marina.

FullSizeRender-113     FullSizeRender-116

The first thing we did was walk the little flooded path past the witches house to the mechanic, to find that he had fixed the starter.  He told me it was going to be $85 for parts and service.

IMG_1093

I told him we would go to the ATM which was about a mile away and withdraw the cash and be right back.  People were standing under shelters along the street and the creatures and I made our way to the bank out in the open since we were already drenched.  We got some funny stares.  For those who know me, you know that I LOVE puddles. I had so much fun jumping and splashing in them, kicking water up to the creatures and running through them all along the streets. A stray dog came to play with me and as I ran through puddles, he ran along side and jumped around with excitement.  We had so much fun together!

FullSizeRender-115        FullSizeRender-117    FullSizeRender-114

We got the starter, picked up the groceries we needed and then sat down together and ate pizza.

FullSizeRender-112

At one point we saw a life guard walking down the street, so I told the creatures that it was raining so hard, they even needed life guards to make sure no one drowned in the streets 🙂

The water taxi ride back to the marina was freezing! We had already been soaked for 3 hours and the rain felt like hail against our skin as we sped across the water, and the first thing we all did back at the boat was change into something dry and warm. I wore leggings and one of Danny’s big t-shirts.  Leggings in Panama! Jude then made 2 big bowls of popped corn while I made a big pot of caramel, and we all enjoyed caramel corn this afternoon. At one point, Dennis, the fix it man stopped by to finish working on a hose in the head, and we sent him home with some caramel corn. It didn’t take long for word to get out in the marina, and before we knew it, the assistant manager was knocking on the boat saying his wife saw caramel corn walking past and was wondering if we had extra. We gave them a bowl and then in order to keep peace, took a bowl over to the manager too!

FullSizeRender

Finally now the rain has stopped and night has once again brought with it a peaceful stillness. It’s been a beautiful day and I am so grateful for rain, and the wondrous puddles it leaves behind.

I am also grateful for the news Danny shared with me today…it looks like if all goes well, he’ll be home on the 3rd! What a magical reunion that will be!

A day to relax

Posted on

IMG_1062

Emma did ‘surgery’ on my foot this morning. I’ve had a splinter for a few days now and we finally had a chance to work on it. She is so cute with the tweezers and needles etc as she works away, and is able to get them out every time!

IMG_1063

We all relaxed for a while, Aundrea sang to us on the Uke, and we read and relaxed more while it rained.  I finally got to work doing some more organizing from yesterdays shipment, and then when the rain stopped we figured it was time to go on a Stand Up Paddleboard adventure.

GOPR4893     GOPR4891

GOPR4895    GOPR4894

GOPR4892

We paddled for quite a while, meandering through the mangroves, under tunnels of arching mangrove branches and and into beautiful little enclosed areas. After a while we got goofy and tried doing head stands, jumping jacks and cartwheels on the boards – always ending up splashing into the water.  We swam around and played for a couple hours, then lay relaxing in the warm sun as we floated with the current. It was heavenly. I kept thinking about how I want to bring Danny to the places we were.

After getting back home again, we all became involved with little art projects, and Aundrea read us a story.

FullSizeRender-107    FullSizeRender-106    FullSizeRender-105 IMG_1071    FullSizeRender-109 FullSizeRender-108   IMG_1077

IMG_1078

My Father in Law emailed me the most hilarious story, (given my recent encounter with a jelly fish),and I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing it on the blog:

Rob is a commercial saturation diver for Global Divers in Louisiana. He performs underwater repairs on offshore drilling rigs.

Below is an E-mail he sent to his sister. She then sent it to radio station 103.2 on FM dial in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, who was sponsoring a worst job experience contest. Needless to say, she won.

Hi Sue,

Just another note from your bottom-dwelling brother.

Last week I had a bad day at the office. I know you’ve been feeling down lately at work, so I thought I would share my dilemma with you to make you realize it’s not so bad after all.

Before I can tell you what happened to me, I first must bore you with a few technicalities of my job.
As you know, my office lies at the bottom of the sea. I wear a suit to the office. It’s a wet suit. This time of year the water is quite cool. So what we do to keep warm is this: We have a diesel powered industrial water heater. This $20,000 piece of equipment sucks the water out of the sea. It heats it to a delightful temperature.

It then pumps it down to the diver through a garden hose, which is taped to the air hose. Now this sounds like a darn good plan, and I’ve used it several times with no complaints.

What I do, when I get to the bottom and start working, is take the hose and stuff it down the back of my wet suit. This floods my whole suit with warm water. It’s like working in a Jacuzzi.

Everything was going well until all of a sudden, my butt started to itch. So, of course, I scratched it. This only made things worse. Within a few seconds my butt started to burn. I pulled the hose out from my back, but the damage was done. In agony I realized what had happened.

The hot water machine had sucked up a jellyfish and pumped it into my suit. Now, since I don’t have any hair on my back, the jellyfish couldn’t stick to it however, the crack of my butt was not as fortunate.
When I scratched what I thought was an itch, I was actually grinding the jellyfish into the crack of my butt.

I informed the dive supervisor of my dilemma over the communicator. His instructions were unclear due to the fact that he, along with five other divers, were all laughing hysterically.

Needless to say I aborted the dive. I was instructed to make three agonizing in-water decompression stops totaling sixty-five minutes before I could reach the surface to begin my chamber dry decompression. When I arrived at the surface, I was wearing nothing but my brass helmet.

As I climbed out of the water, the medic, with tears of laughter running down his face, handed me a tube of cream and told me to rub it on my butt as soon as I got in the chamber.

The cream put the fire out, but I couldn’t poop for two days because my butt was swollen shut.

So, next time you’re having a bad day at work, think about how much worse it would be if you had a jellyfish shoved up your butt.

Now repeat to yourself, “I love my job, I love my job, I love my job.”
Now whenever you have a bad day, ask yourself, is this a jellyfish bad day?

May you NEVER have a jellyfish bad day!!

Thanks for the laugh Dad. I thought it was hilarious.

To close a fantastic day in a wonderful way, I did one of the things I really love to do, and that’s bake bread. I baked it using the wheat that the creatures and I ground, and everyone enjoyed it nice and hot with some delicious strawberry jam.

IMG_1075     IMG_1076

I am so grateful for another day of life in which the creatures and I could experience more of the beauty that surrounds us. I am also grateful for the opportunity to communicate with my Sweetheart – even though he’s so very far away. Life is good.

Exhausting (but fun) day!

Posted on

I awoke at my usual 3am and lay listening to the thunderstorm outside. Lightning flashed so often it seemed like the skies heartbeat, and I thought of how much of an adventure this day was going to be if the rain didn’t stop.

At 7:30am it felt so good to leave the dock and make our way out of the marina. I told the creatures that we were all going to be drenched for a while, and to dress accordingly, and my goodness did it pour! When we first left it was drizzling, but the closer we got to Bocas the harder it rained.  It was gorgeous.

FullSizeRender-85    FullSizeRender-83

FullSizeRender-81      FullSizeRender-84

When we reached Bocas we attempted to anchor close to where the ferry comes in, but it was so choppy and windy, that the anchor just wouldn’t set. We could see the ferry coming closer and I was supposed to be on land when it arrived, so Jonathan and I hopped into the dinghy and went to shore, leaving Captain Jude at the helm to cruise around until we found out where they wanted us. At this point Emma had bailed out the dinghy several times because it kept filling up with water from the downpour.

FullSizeRender-89     FullSizeRender-88

FullSizeRender-91

I finally met the driver, the port captain and the customs agent that were overseeing our shipment, and we unloaded all our stuff onto the dock.

FullSizeRender-87      FullSizeRender-90

Our good friend Gustavo, who is a water taxi driver, met Jonathan and I, and we loaded our belongings onto his panga. Aidan, Emma and Aundrea came ashore so they could paddle the stand up paddle boards back to the boat, and Jude used her ninja sailing skills and found a place to set anchor.

FullSizeRender-97

Finally after 3 hours, we were able to set sail back to the marina.  We were all so drenched and exhausted from lifting all the heavy things and fighting the storm. The boat was so full of boxes and stuff and more stuff!

FullSizeRender-100      FullSizeRender-98

Here’s my advice to anyone who plans on going cruising:  Before shipping a bunch of stuff you think you might need to your boat, first live on it for a month and decide what you really do need. We didn’t do terribly, but there are most definitely some items we are rolling our eyes at and saying, ‘oh brother!’

Our marina family was worried about us coming back and having to dock in the wind on one engine, so Tony, who owns a catamaran but had never docked on one engine, and Gordon, who owns a mono hull, came to meet us in their dinghy as we entered the marina. Tony jumped on board so we could dock together and Gordon acted as a tug boat.  It worked like a charm and before we knew it we were safely tied back to the dock. I love my neighbors and how everyone watches out for everyone else.

After working for several hours on reorganizing Tanda Malaika, the twins and Aundrea went exploring on the SUP’s.  They had a blast. I’m going to try them out tomorrow.

FullSizeRender-101    FullSizeRender-103FullSizeRender-104

In the mean time Mycah and i installed the SUP racks onto the boat.  They look pretty spiffy.  We purchased the ‘Suprax’ brand through West Marine. We will be able to put two boards on each side of the boat.

FullSizeRender-102

This evening I made the creatures gnocci’s and french bread for dinner and then followed it with home made pina coladas.  They all lay around in a comatose state afterward.

Today’s accomplishments most definitely were achieved due to a group effort.  Everyone worked hard – even in pouring rain, and I am so grateful for and proud of our sweet creatures!

For the second day in a row, Danny saved the day even from 10 000 miles away. Yesterday Emma and Aundrea texted him when I’d run into Bocas, saying they were stranded in the dinghy and couldn’t get it to start.  He coached them through it and they got it going, and today the generator kept going off and the boat kept telling me the batteries were low, so I called Danny and he talked Jude though what to do while I continued to man the helm. He is such an amazing husband, even when he’s not here physically, he’s still very much a part of our daily activities.

Steve and Debbie arrived back safely this afternoon. We were so excited to have them back, but not nearly as excited as Libby was! They were both so tired and immediately went in to bed.  After being taken care of in 2 different hospitals, 2 nights stay, 3 different blood pressure prescriptions and a half hour water ambulance ride, their entire bill came to $180.00!

Getting things done

Posted on

I slept in till 5:45am! I almost felt guilty for being so lazy.

There was the possibility that the starter would be repaired by today, so I took the 9:30am panga in to Bocas to check. Rico the parrot joined us on our ride. When I finally caught up with the mechanic, he told me that he wasn’t able to find new brushes for it in Changanola, and is now waiting for them to be brought from David – which is a bit farther away than Changanola. This means that tomorrow when we head into Bocas bright and early to get our shipment that has arrived from the mainland, I’ll need to practice my non existent ninja captaining skills and dock the boat with only a starboard engine.  No problem….I’ll pretend my handsome husband has my hands in his and is guiding me 🙂

FullSizeRender-79

While in Bocas I ran a bunch of errands, including going to the bank, the mail stop, the fruit stand and grocery store.  I even found a little store called Hawaii.

FullSizeRender   DSC_0002-6

FullSizeRender-77

At one point I was walking on one of the back roads, and I saw an older, extremely obese man standing with several black garbage bags that were filled to the brim with empty cans.  He was trying to empty all the contents of one into a different bag, and somehow ended up with a couple hundred cans all over the road. I quickly put my bags down and gathered up all the cans while he held the bag open, and the entire time he was thanking me over and over again each time I dumped more cans in. When I was done he was all teary eyed and in broken English said ‘thank you senora, but why did you help me?’ I gave him a big hug and said, ‘because I love you.’ He buried his face in his hands and cried. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to help him.

I sat on a bench in the park for a while afterward, to enjoy the breeze and people watch – one of my favorite things I love doing with my Dad. A little girl sat singing at the top of her lungs as her mother worked close by selling beaded bracelets.

DSC_0001-5

A group of school girls, all in uniform, sat in a circle giggling and whispering. Several men stood together and chatted loudly, laughing hard periodically, and a policeman stood talking with some young boys by his cruiser. (4 wheeler)   I love these Panamanian people.  They don’t have much concerning worldly goods, but they are happy, compassionate and humble.  What a great combination of characteristics, which we can all learn from.

Debbie called me when I was in town with an update on Steve. She was very teary with worry and sounded exhausted, but she’s ok. At first the doctor thought he had for sure had a stoke but after running tests, they found that Steve has an enlarged heart, and crazy high blood pressure. The doc said that when we saw him stumbling with stroke like symptoms, because we immediately lay him down, his blood pressure was able to lower enough to not go into a stroke, then when he walked from the golf cart to the water taxi and showed stroke like symptoms again, it’s because he was once again headed for a stroke but then we sat him in the water taxi and calmed him down and he didn’t end up having a stroke, but is on the verge. They want to keep him there tonight again to keep monitoring his blood pressure, and then hopefully send him back home here tomorrow.

Libby is missing her mom and dad but she’s doing fine. She receives lots of love and attention with us, and periodically sits on the starboard stern and looks down the dock to see if they are coming.

FullSizeRender-78       FullSizeRender-80

Danny’s hotel is in a great location in Paris, allowing him to explore the city and admire the beautiful sights.  I hope he doesn’t decide to stay!

I’m pretty tired tonight so I think I’ll get some sleep so I’m prepared for our early morning start into Bocas with Tanda Malaika, and the creatures are watching a Starwars movie. I am so grateful for this beautiful world, and the people in it with whom I am blessed to rub shoulders.

Medical Emergency in the marina

Posted on

My day started at 3am as usual. For some reason my body clock is set for that time and there’s no going back to sleep from that point on. At 6:10am I went for a walk/run on the 4 mile loop I’ve come to love. I saw a family of about 6 monkeys who were chattering, swinging, and throwing pods and sticks down to the ground. I wished them a good morning and carried on on my way. There’s just nothing like working up a good sweat in the morning!

When I got back to Tanda Malaika, the creatures were awake and lounging around as well as some preparing breakfast. We all read for a while and relaxed, and after some time, Aidan, Jude, Mycah and I grabbed our next door neighbors, Steve and Debbie, who we’ve come to love so much, and went crocodile hunting!

It was so relaxing to stroll through the the jungle.

DSC_0021-3    DSC_0022-2    DSC_0031-1

DSC_0032-1

We found a path close to some buildings that was lined with bottles.  It looked pretty cool.

DSC_0023-2  

At one point Aidan yelled,’Crocs, I found crocs!!’ We hurried to look and found these!

DSC_0024

Before long we found a pond and sat quietly and watched the banks and the water, and then there it was…a beautiful crocodile about 5ft long, slipping into the water.  He had been laying in some tall grass, and his back was shiny with wet mud.

DSC_0027-2

He lay still in the water for quite a while before descending, watching us as we watched him.

DSC_0029-1    DSC_0028-2

DSC_0030-1

(Not great photos, but it gives you an idea.)

We started our walk back, which was a little over a mile, and Aidan and Mycah were about 20ft ahead, then Jude close behind them.  They were all barefoot of course. Debbie and I were walking next with Libby (their dog) pulling on the leash, and Steve was behind us.  As Debbie and I walked and talked we noticed Steve slipped farther back and we turned to wait for him, and noticed he walking off kilter and starting to wander into the foliage.  I threw my camera to Jude, told Mycah and Aidan to run as fast as they can for help, and Debbie and I grabbed Steve and lay him down.  I took his pulse, which was thready, and asked Debbie some of his medical history while checking him out. Very quickly he began to droop on the right side of his face and had trouble raising his right arm.  We knew it was a stroke. Aidan and Mycah ran so fast, and got a golf cart headed our way, as well as notified the marina manager to get a panga ready so he could be taken in to Bocas. There is a local guy who has a fixed wing airplane that could fly them to Panama City to the bigger hospital but he didn’t know how low he was supposed to fly, so I called Danny and he informed us of the recommended altitude and gave more medical advice. It all came together quickly.  We have their dog Libby with us, we sent them with Judes cell phone, and we are taking care of their boat. The last we heard, he was on a fast panga to Chenganola where they have a great doctor.

This evening we are going to lay low, snuggle up with Libby and distract ourselves with ‘Mrs Doubtfire.’ I am grateful for kids who can run fast on rocky ground, for fast pangas, and for medical care.  I am also grateful for wonderful friendships.

Work and play

Posted on

This morning we all worked really hard. The creatures did their chores and I cleaned, all while it was raining outside.  We thought we’d get things done so we could go on a hike, but when we were done it was still raining….so we went for a hike anyway!

DSC_0002-5    DSC_0001-4    DSC_0003-4

We wanted to take Aundrea up high in the rainforest to show her the red frogs, and as always, we weren’t disappointed. The jungle is so dense and beautiful and filled with life.

DSC_0007-4    DSC_0008-6    DSC_0009-5

DSC_0015-4   DSC_0006-6  DSC_0011

We found the red frogs and Aundrea loved them just like we do.

DSC_0013-4       DSC_0017-3

We showed her the ‘stairway to heaven’ and she slowly climbed it saying, ‘this is sketchy guys.’ She’s as adventurous as the rest of us and wanted to climb anyway.

DSC_0014-4

I showed the creatures a gecko egg I found at the base of a tree. Emma wanted to bring it home and hatch it, but we convinced her it was best to leave it in the jungle.

DSC_0018-4

By the time we got done with our 4 mile hike, we were drenched in sweat and blue skies were overhead, so we stopped at the beach on the way home, to cool off.  The water was incredibly refreshing!

DSC_0019-4     DSC_0020-3

When we got back to Tanda Malaika I dove in to try find our hammock that blew off the bow, and the farther I descended, the more it looked like I had entered a room full of bubbles….but they weren’t bubbles, they were 100’s of jelly fish. Most of them were females with long stinging tentacles flowing behind them, with a few scattered males. I dodged them as much as I could until I was completed surrounded, then finally felt that invigorating sting to my left thigh. At that point I’d held my breath as long as I could and my search was over, so I surfaced. I was still surrounded by several jelly fish so I carefully made my way back on board and washed my leg off and applied the vinegar.  That really intensified the sting, but now, a couple hours later I have no pain. Just a pretty little welt.

Danny arrived safely in Paris after being awake for 26 hours, and is now snuggled down in his hotel room bed. I am so grateful that he arrived there safely.

It’s clouding up again and I think tonight after dinner I’ll make some caramel popcorn and we’ll all watch a movie together. Life is good.  I love my sweet family and I love this beautiful world we live in.

More Terrible News

Posted on

For those that know my parents and brother and sister and I, you know that we are a very close family.We have so much love between us and some pretty tight bonds. My brother and I are close in age, and grew up building the most awesome forts, climbing trees, playing on the beach, playing with match box cars out in my mom’s flower beds, and and getting up to all sorts of mischief that every kid should. As we have grown older we have continued to be best friends, and even now, my siblings are some of my most favorite people ever. I always know that when my brother calls he’s going to address me by some insulting name, and I do the same back to him.
He has diabetes and over the past several weeks has been feeling more and more ill. When i was visiting my parents recently, he complained of a constant headache and some dizziness, and we thought it was probably his diabetes. I texted him last night and asked how he was and he said he was dizzy, his left side of his body was weak, he had been vomiting and sleepy and his headache was still there. I begged him to go to the ER and threatened to catch a flight and drag his butt in. He told me he’d go. I stayed awake all night, texting him periodically to make sure he was there and following through, and after several hours in the ER waiting room they took him back and did a scan of his head and found that he has brain tumors on both sides of his brain. I am so scared and so sad, and just want to go back in time and build one more fort with him. Please keep him in your prayers. He is at my parents home in Idaho now and fast asleep with my Dad.

IMG_0988

My Dad had a procedure done this morning where they put him under anesthesia and injected one of the two nerve bundles in his back, by inserting a needle in the area of his 5th vertebrae. These nerve bundles once deadened will hopefully block pain to his organs.  I hope that he receives great relief from this.
Since I was up all night I was a bit of a Zombie today, so our day was pretty mellow. I made a potato salad for our marina pot luck tonight and Emma made a delicious chocolate cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. The creatures and I decided to draw and paint chameleons.  It was fun to work on an art project together.

FullSizeRender-70      FullSizeRender-69

FullSizeRender-71       FullSizeRender-73
After lunch I decided to take a nap, and the creatures took off on an adventure. When I awoke I walked over to the next dock to chat with my neighbor and saw the kids coming home. I love the way they never tire of adventuring together. They always have such a great time and get along so beautifully.

FullSizeRender-76
The manager of the marina ran into Bocas for some business this morning and checked on the starter for me. It sounds like it will be done on Monday. Also, the driver that is driving our crates from Panama City to Almirante and then ferrying them to Bocas, will probably be arriving in Bocas with everything on Tuesday or Wednesday. It will be fun to have all the paddle boards and scuba gear here. Everything else we sent we can do without!

There were 100’s of female jellyfish in the marina today. They are fascinating.

FullSizeRender-72

I watched the most beautiful little 2 year old lying in a dugout this evening. His brother, who is 10, was rowing and he was lounging happily without a care in the world.

FullSizeRender-64
Our marina party was a huge success tonight. Most everyone showed up and we ate like kings. It was great to be together as one big family and socialize. Several people came up to me and expressed their love for the creatures, saying how impressed they are by them and they think they are the greatest kids they’ve ever met. I’m so proud of them all.

FullSizeRender-65     FullSizeRender-68

FullSizeRender-67      FullSizeRender-66    IMG_0986
My sweet Darling is busy flying to Paris right now. I miss him and hope he will be safe. It’s been a long month without him. The gorgeous sunset tonight reminded me to keep focused on having faith, loving unconditionally and staying positive…so, that’s what I’ll do. After all, there is always far more good and beautiful in the world than bad.

FullSizeRender-74         FullSizeRender-75