Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Shoes, Bees, and Ants

In the last 24 hours I've blown out 2 pairs of rubber flip-flops. What bad luck. But the good news is at about $1 to 2 bucks each they were a bargain seeing as I wore them everyday and left them outside in the tropical sun for years.  So today we took our little boat over to town and I searched thru the open air stalls and stores for new shoes with success - a blue pair and a brown pair. I'm good for another couple of years. Clothing expense isn't an issue for cruisers in these warm climate areas.

Now, this is why I saw bees swarming as I was knitting outside the other day - a BIG beehive is in a nearby tree. You can even see the combs that make up the structure in this photo. The entire outside of this hive is covered in live bees. We estimated this to be a least 2 feet high and 1 foot wide. It's good to see the bees thriving, but I sure hope they stay away from me.
This is a papaya tree that we came across when out walking yesterday. If you look at the upper part of the trunk you will see the oblong green papaya fruits hanging right off of the trunk. When they turn orange they will be yummy! When green, you can put a couple of slices in when you cook beef and it will tenderize the meat. Yep, papain is the enzyme from unripe papayas that is used in commercial meat tenderizers.

The leaf-cutting ants were really busy! Under each of the green pieces of leaf in this photo is a strong ant.  They march in the same exact line for so long that they actually wear trails through the jungle floor or grass.

Yes, there's been knitting going on too. This is the bundle of wool yarn that I won at the knitting retreat last month. There was a contest to see who could correctly identify the most yarns out of 100 samples. They were numbered and we were to match them to a list of yarn brands & names. It was hard! I wasn't too interested in "playing" until I saw the prize! That's a whole sweater's worth of bulky weight super soft merino wool in 6 skeins of coordinating colors! On size 10 needles the knitting is zooming right along.

More boats have left the marina, leaving us behind. Fortunately, some folks are only just now returning from the states or Canada to begin a few months of cruising so we are seeing new faces too. Some people we'll see out there in the islands in the coming year and others we'll never see again as they are headed for adventures elsewhere. We're planning to linger in the western Caribbean for another year and enjoy all that it has to offer. With the tropical islands, cool high-altitude villages, city shopping opportunities and the beauty of Guatemala, we're not in any hurry to leave.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Turkeys in Paradise

Yes, we are still in paradise (Guatemala), but we're not the turkeys I'm talking about. It's the five delicious Thanksgiving turkeys that were pit roasted for the potluck here at Mario's Marina. There's Jonesy checking out the pit. The birds were wrapped in aluminum foil and put down by the hot coals sometime early in the morning (when we were snoozing). We just had to take a peek underneath the corrugated tin roofing material which covers the pit and check them out.

The turkeys were cooked to perfection and had a mild smoked taste in the white meat. The dinner was fabulous with all the fixings including two new to me items; cranberry sauce with horseradish and orange-ginger carrots. I have to get the recipes before these folks to go out cruising!

Speaking of which, we are NOT leaving tomorrow. No biggie. I need to visit the dentist for a cracked crown and she is totally booked up until December. I tried to go in October, but the electrical power was off in town for the whole day and then I flew up to the states.

Then, we still can't just leave just yet because there are no high tides in the morning until later in the month. We need a high tide to be able to glide across the sandbar that blocks the exit out to sea! We're talking just an additional foot and a couple of inches difference, but it may make the difference between getting out and getting stuck. And we need it to be in the morning so we can check out of this country and get to a safe harbor before dark.

No hurries, no worries. In the meantime, I'm working on my bamboo knife rack and knitting needle holders. Well, not "me" exactly, but Innes is hard at work sawing the bamboo into different sizes. He sure worked up a sweat even while working in the shade. I'm thrilled with the results! Now, it's time to get creative with jute rope and twine to bind some of these together for the rack.

Oh! A giant Blue Morpho butterfly just flew by! I'm sitting up in the thatch-roofed palapa right now to catch the breeze and there it went. The leaf-cutting ants are hard at work chopping up the hibiscus plants and carrying the bits down to their underground fungus farm and I'm watching a swarm of bees up in a palm tree nearby. So much to see.

KNITTING: I knit and gifted a baby blanket to a new young mom who works here in the marina. Luckily I gave it to her the day before she had the baby! Unluckily, I was in such a hurry that I neglected to get a single photo. But, I did write up the pattern and it is being test knitted for next year's Holiday Mystery Gifts knitalong.

Then, I just finished test knitting a project for another designer. Very cute. Can't share yet, but I will soon. It's drying on a (stripped-of-leaves) hibiscus bush in the sun. The high humidity means that it takes a long time to dry wool knits.

These last few days, Jonesy has replaced our raw water wash-down pump, installed more LED amp-saving lights & bulbs diagnosed & repaired the faulty battery meter, and replaced the engine room exhaust fan. At least that's what I've seen him working on. There have likely been more jobs but he likes to work on the boat when I'm off somewhere so I don't fall down in the bilge (again). As such, I'm sometimes oblivious to the work. He knows when I've been working...because he gets to eat. We have blue jobs and pink jobs on the Niki Wiki.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Busy Busy

With the date set to leave the safety of the marina (Nov. 27th) we've been busy working on our chore list. It was like a birthday bash for Jonesy when I unpacked my suitcases and presented him with all of his new boat parts. New impellers for the heads (toilets)! Pumps! LED lightbulbs! Water-maker maintenance kit! 2 depth sounders! and much, much more.

So, now that he had this pile of good stuff, it was time to get busy with the repairs. First, he replaced our amp-sucking incandescent bulbs with super efficient LED bulbs. This will mean that we can run lights at night for knitting! Next was a big repair - the replacement of the gear in our electric windlass (big thing on the bow which pulls up the heavy anchor & chain from the seabed so we don't have to).

Then, there was the Margarita Party down the dock onboard the motor vessel Kimtah. Is it possible to laugh for 3 hours straight? Yep. We all voted this to be the best party of the hurricane season!

Friday was a BBQ party up by the pool where we grilled some fabulous 1-inch thick pork loin chops and vegetables. Saturday morning was the swap meet up in the Cayuco Club here, followed by the Prime Rib dinner at the Rio Vista marina restaurant ($8 per person). Today, Sunday, right now Jonesy is up at the club watching the Formula 1 race on the big TV, then we have the usual Mexican Train domino game in the afternoon. Tomorrow is the Cruisers' Potluck. I'm making enchiladas so we'll have to zip up the river to town in our launchita (small boat) and pick up some fresh handmade tortillas.

Then maybe I'll start to work on my chore list...or maybe not.

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Motherless Child Foundation Christmas Project

This is the nonprofit organization that raises funds for the kids in the orphanages in Kazakhstan for whom I knit all the socks, hats, and mittens. Take a look at minute 2:33 in the lower left hand corner of the screen you will see MY SOCKS!!! The red & yellow wildly patterned socks being held up by the little boy were knit by me a couple of years ago. They are from my Caleta Socks pattern. What a thrill to see them matched up with a happy face!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Back Home in Guatemala

The return trip:
The giant pile of boat parts, special candies, spices, enchilada sauce, brand-name medicine, yarn, turkey baster, books, and more boat parts had to be loaded into 2 suitcases not to exceed 50 lbs. each. Success! Each bag weighed 49.5 lbs.

One of the house cats, Loki, enjoyed exploring the empty boxes and made quite a pest of himself. Now, everything else had to be stuffed in the 2 carry-on bags. Balancing out weight versus bulk was the trick here. Hmm...seeing as I don't need the PJs in the tropics, I threw them out after my last wearing, and then wore layers of clothes for the trip rather than packing them. It's a good thing that I lost a little weight during my visit!

After a shuttle van pick-up in Sacramento at the god-awful time of 3:15am, 3 airplane flights and a 5 1/2 hour bus ride, plus a short boat ride, I arrived safely back to the boat 36 hours later. I left Tuesday before dawn and managed to make it to the marina in time for a quick nap followed by the Wednesday evening all-you-can-eat taco buffet! From autumn in northern California to snow in Salt Lake City to who-knows-what-because-it-was-dark-during-the-6-hours-I-sat-in-the-Los Angeles Airport to nippy high-altitude Guatemala City to the tropical heat of the Caribbean all in one trip. It was a welcome pleasure to be able to relax and enjoy tacos with Jonesy and our many friends here at the marina. The "Hurricane Season" is winding to a close and already some boats have left for their adventures. We will leave on Nov. 27th . . . unless we don't.

So, here are some photos from the Knitting Retreat in Lake Tahoe back in October. That is a whole room full of 60 women talking, knitting, eating, drinking, and knitting some more. I led a "make 'n take" session of my little Ribbon Candy Ornaments pattern. First I had to wind into tiny hanks 4 different colors of fingering weight yarns of 4 different lengths and label the baggies with the color designators (A, B, C, D) for each of the 60 kits. This pattern is now in the "Knitting: 2011 Day-to-Day Calendar" box of patterns which is available at book stores and yarn shops.

These are two Ribbon Candies that I knit and
wore as earrings
just to show everyone what the end product should look like - these can be tree ornaments, package ties, or yep, earrings.

Another knitting event I attended while visiting up in the states was a Lace Shawl Design Workshop taught by Amy Singer, Editor/Publisher/Founder of Knitty.com online magazine. Amy led us through the various shape options for shawls, and guided
us on
stitch pattern selection and placement. Fun stuff! After buying some beautiful alpaca laceweight yarn, I re-read the supplies list for the class and she specified a fingering weight yarn. Oh my! That meant I needed to run (actually walk) down to the nearest yarn shop and buy another shawl's worth of yarn - and a new lace stitch dictionary,
oh, and the right size needles. I DO like to have the correct materials for school.

Here's my feeble beginnings of a top-down, starting at the center-back triangular shawl. The yarn is Melody Superwash wool by Jojoland. So where's the lace you might ask - well, I wanted a solid stockinette top at
the upper back which will somehow morph into lace. It's the "somehow" that will be the challenge.No, I did NOT wimp out...this is planned. Really.

Guess what I met at the class! TWO pairs of socks
on the feet of knitters made from
two of my patterns! First, I saw the Medallion Cable socks in red, then the light colored Cozy Cables Socks were presented for viewing.

So, here I am with my knitting buddy Sandi, and Amy Singer. In Amy's arms is her electric ukulele. I didn't even know that there was such a thing until then.

I've sent a YEAR'S WORTH of knitting for the orphanage in Kazakhstan to the folks who will hand-carry it to the kids at the end of this month. 36 pairs of socks, plus hats, mittens and gloves. The last pair of socks were a challenge as I ran out of yarn! My knitting buddy Sandi gave up some of her leftover sock yarn so that I could finish the pair. A kid with big feet thanks you Sandi!

These are a new design of mine that was just released to the Holiday Mystery Gifts group - AKKOL MITTENS. The actual knitted mittens were tucked into the boxes I just sent off. While I was in Sacramento, I knit 10 more 7x7" squares for the guild's afghan project for the VA hospital and two more chemo caps for a local medical center. Just doing my part and enjoying the process.

These next couple of weeks we'll be busy with the final boat projects and provisioning the boat for our adventures. We will first sail up to Belize. This will be new territory for us! Whooo hoooo! Let the cruising begin!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?