Thursday, November 30, 2006

Diving... I Live!

So the story of the diving... Dave and I went diving Monday afternoon for the first time in a year. Last year we got one dive (a shore dive with the same dive operation) in during our vacation before Hurricane Wilma sauntered by and ruined the weather (and diving) for everyone. This year we had high hopes for a lot of good diving, but that was before I got sick. Monday was the big day.

First dive, the divemaster said before we got off the boat "Don't go below 130 feet, don't stay down more than an hour, and keep at least five minutes on your time to decompression." I guess he figured that since we all had dive computers (provided as part of our dive) we couldn't kill ourselves. The dive was billed as a cave dive, but what it really was was a dive through a series of twisty coral overhangs and swim throughs. If I wanted to do agility, I would become an Australian Shepard and develop a taste for kibble. We emerged from the tunnels (those of us who did them--Dave was not one, he swam above) and soon after had to turn around as one of the divers was at the halfway point for air. The diver was Dave and the divemaster made me ascend with him after only 20 minutes of diving as we were "buddies". I thought we were all a group of divers and I was surprised to be forced out of the water with 1200 psi of air out of 3000 left in my tank. I understood the necessity of just swimming around the anchor point and not heading off, but I saw no need to get out of the water completely with two divemasters in the water with us.

The story only got worse as the next dive I couldn't get below six feet. I was too congested and my right ear wouldn't pop (the Sudafed I took before diving had worn off). So Dave buddied up with the divemaster and he got a good long dive in (as did the other 13 divers) while I tanned grumpily on the boat.

I know they say you have to get right back on the horse, but I was depth-shy. Tuesday we talked about shore diving but I weenied out. I wanted to give my cold and my ear one more day. We were scheduled for another boat dive Wednesday, but I still didn't think I was well enough and canceled Tuesday afternoon. I tried to cancel the boat dive we had scheduled for this morning, but I called too late and they had already sent the van into town for the night to pick us up in the morning. So I was guilted into trying a dive.

I barely slept at all last night. Nyquil doesn't have a decongestant so I took Dayquil instead. My heart raced from 2 am till 4 am and I had nightmares about the dive. Note to self: no Dayquil at night. We finally got up at 6 (Dave wasn't sleeping too well either) and I was still severely congested. I was resigned to dying on the dive, or at least blowing an eardrum. Not being able to regulate the pressure by popping your ears can keep you from diving. But what about inability to regulate pressure when you are already down and need to come up? We learned about it in diver certification. It's not pretty.

So we get on the boat and out to the first dive site. I suit up and get in first. I get down to 15 feet fine and have hope. I hang out there and wait for everyone else to get in the water and we head down towards 100 feet. However the ear balked and could not be coaxed any lower than 70 feet so there I stayed. The rest of the group was spread out below me, but I had the last laugh: the deeper you go, the more air you use. So by staying at 70 feet I was bothte first one in the water and the last one out. I actually ran out of time before I ran out of air and got in an hour dive.

The second dive was shallower and at first I couldn't get past six feet down before the ear pain was unbearable. I ended up going back to the surface to get out, but the boat captain convinced me to try one more time and that time I made it down! And I got another 60 minute dive in. Too bad there wasn't much to see. But I made it up and out alive, and that's what counts. Tomorrow: Captain Marvin and Stingray City!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Live from Treasure Island!

We are on Grand Cayman having our first and only family vacation of 2006. We in this case is made up of Me, Dave, Jessie, my mother and father newly back from Ecuadora dn the Galapagos Islands. Dave is rather newly back from the bachelor party madness in Las Vegas, and he arived home sick as a dog. At the end of a three-day incubation period I, too, had succumbed. Jessie is in school so she will just go from cold to flu to sniffles and back until she hits puberty and I can't tell if she actually has this cold/flu or not.

The flights passed for me in a Dayquil and codeine haze and we spent the first two days here sleeping, relaxing, and lazing with a good dose of napping thrown in. Yesterday the "vacation" began with a visit to the turtle farm followed by a trip to Hell. The stores at Hell were all closed (it was Sunday) so we took a few touristy pictures, admired the two roosters and the lone hen who ran over to greet us (looking for food?), and then mosied back to our condo. Our accommodations are a three-bedroom beachfront condo (third floor). Last year we were on the first floor as hurricane Wilma passed by on her way to Mexico and the waves came up into our room. We are trying to avoid a repeat--it gets dark with plywood over all the patio doors.

Yesterday afternoon we tried a bit of snorkeling but there is some freakish, fine, sea moss in the ater right now that obscured all visibility and covered every inch of our bodies as we emerged from the water. After much swearing and hosing down we managed to remove the moss from our private areas and our suits. Blech. Diving. Today (and every day till next Friday) is slated for diving. Friday we are snorkeling as a family--it will be J's first ocean snorkel trip--and feeding the rays at stingray city. More pics from the trip can be found on Flickr. Tomorrow: the saga of the diving!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Life, Actually

The day before yesterday it was 74 degrees and sunny. Yesterday it was grey, blustery rain. Today it is sunny but cold. Fall sides gently into the beginnings of winter. There was just enough wind today to strip many of the leaves off our maple in the front yard. It was one of the last trees to turn and has only been a glorious red, apricot, gold for the past week. The dogwoods and crepe myrtles have long since assumed the stark elegance of grey, winter branchings. Their neighbors, the somber pecans and water oaks, slowly, silently rain leaves.

Today I cleaned a little, read a lot, rested, relaxed and cuddled with my daughter. We had a sleepover last night and today was a day to laze. Right now she is snoring gently in my bed and has been for almost two hours. I am letting her sleep as long as she wants as we are going to pick Dave up at the airport at midnight when he returns from the bachelor party debauchery in Las Vegas.

J had a sleepover last night for her birthday party. The invitees were her best friend Grace, Grace's Mom (and my friend) Stacy and Grace's baby sister Alice. The Moms drank champagne and talked till midnight, and the girls played and then drowsed around us. It has been a birthday of long duration for the J. Pretty cool. She received well wishes and many cool gifts from friends around the country. There were Barbies and boots, books and bangles. But two gifts really stuck out for me: the bag J is holding in the photo at right (described at left) and four music cd's created especially for her by our friends "Aunt" Vanessa and "Uncle" Bryon It was Bryon's bachelor party in Vegas for Dave for the past five days. You might think five days is pretty long for a bachelor party but Dave is the Best Man and had loads of responsibilities (and vodka tonics).

I used to love to make special gifts for people myself but time and tide have reduced me to Thoughtful gifts, but never touched by my own hands. When J opened the present from Bryon and Vanessa and there were the hand-knit bag with the personally made tag and cd's with personal labels and specially created music lists, I got choked up by the care and attention that had gone into the gifts. I had thrown money at the birthday and fulfilled my gift obligations with Barbies and a Barbie carriage, a dvd and a couple of books. I was amazed and humbled at the effort that good friends with equally busy lives had gone to to give Jessie something special to mark turning five.

I am looking forward to a slower pace next year. Gardening, time with my family, meditation, yoga, long walks with the dogs. I have been very successful professionally this year. I could follow that success up by pushing my limits and working harder. But to what end? Where do I wish to go professionally? I need to ponder that question as this year comes to a close. I do know that I don't want a big business with employees and seven day-a-week obligations. Much of this year passed in an exhausted blur from which I am just now waking. Life is too short.

I close this post with the playlists from J's new cd's. Music to shape a young mind.