No, it isn’t a shark. It’s a spoonbill from Mermet Springs.
You might have noticed a new check on our To-do List… With a second trip to Mermet Springs in three weeks, I’ve finally earned my PADI Divemaster certification. It was quite a relief to finally be finished, to be honest. Kyle and I had been working nearly every weekend since May… taking tests, completing practical exams, assisting pool classes, grading quizzes and tests, guiding tours, assisting with student training dives, and anything else a dutiful dive shop slave does.
We will definitely still be doing most of those things, but at least the rush is over. We didn’t want to say no to any opportunity to complete a part of our certification requirements due to the fast approaching winter (and no diving for the warm blooded… water so cold your head wants to explode isn’t fun). Each time I assist with new students I am amazed at how far I have come in such a short time. From worrying about not banging into the coral/rocks to flawlessly floating through a submerged Boeing 727, I’m a much better diver than I was a year ago when I was in the Caribbean. I love being able to help students discover diving and improve their own skills.
I still have much to learn about diving and teaching diving, especially as I hone my skills for the instructor class, but it feels great to have attained professional diver ranking.
So where do I go from here? The eventual goal is for scuba to be able to provide some supplemental income while we are cruising. The best way to earn money in scuba is instructing and leading dive tours. As a divemaster I can already lead dive tours, but I am severely limited in the independent instructing I can do. Next up are the Instructor Development Course and the Instructor Exam.
Our first batch. Those strawberries were delicious!
As you may have figured out by now, I don’t exactly consider myself the “domestic” type. This would certainly include my cooking skills or lack there of. My father-in-law used to joke that my best dish was bagel-bites and that wasn’t really an exaggeration. That is why you will find “Learn to Cook” on our To-Do List page. My best dish is no longer bagel-bites but I do still have a long way to go before I could peruse a Julia Child cookbook with confidence.
At the beginning of the summer, I heard an ad on the radio for a local crop share program which ran once a week from May through October. I figured this would be the perfect way for Dan and I to get a taste of what it might be like to only be able to cook items that are readily available, instead of relying on out of season fruits and vegetables. We know that there may be a lot of new foods in our travels that we haven’t eaten before and so we wanted a little practice with finding new recipes and getting out of our comfort zone.
Well, it sounded good in theory anyway. In the beginning of the season, we were doing pretty well trying out arugula in chicken breast with sauteed radishes. We had some fabulous green beans and spinach, fresh garlic and blue potatoes, corn on the cob and delicious blackberries. However, those were all the things that we had eaten before and already knew that we liked to eat. When we started getting shipments of squash, parsnips, turnips and beets, we were significantly less successful in our enthusiasm. Mostly, we would just drop off our whole box of food at Dan’s parents’ house and go out to eat. Not exactly what we had hoped but I guess that’s life.
I’m not sure if we learned more about cooking or about ourselves in this exercise. We certainly know that we have a long way to go before we could live reasonably on $1000-$1500 a month, which is our eventual goal. Maybe we’ll just start by eating bagel bites and move on from there.
Dan recently took this photo while on his day off with Carter
Recently, I had the opportunity to be part of a leadership seminar through my department at work. There were many excellent points discusses throughout the entire course of the seminar, but the portion on change is what really hit a chord with me. Hmm, I wonder why? The speaker, Chuck Stoner*, spoke specifically about the fact that every change in life comes with a sense of loss and grieving, even when the change is something positive that we are looking forward to.
When change comes, there is always a different path that will never be available to us again. Dan and I are currently standing in that divergence of choices and the other paths that we will be walking away from are so clear to me I can almost physically see them. I can see Carter at his first day of kindergarten, baseball game, and a host of other things that every mom cherishes and it does fill me with a sense of longing for that path. I can see that our grandparents are getting older and know in my heart that there is a very real possibility that being gone for 5-10 years or more means we might not get to see them again before they die. We may miss births of nieces and nephews, friends’ weddings, and a lot more events that we can never get back once they are over. We will be moving away from Dan’s very close-knit family that we spend time with multiple days a week.
All of these things and more impose a real weight to the decisions that we are making. They give more value to the good life that we are leaving behind to follow our dream of cruising. Does that mean that we will regret the choice to leave? I don’t think so. The excitement of moving forward and doing something new is far too great for us to look back wistfully for very long. But it does make me appreciate the time we have left a little more.
Follow your Dreams. Follow the Horizon.
*Dr. Charles Stoner and his speaking partner Tom Bower gave one of the best seminars I have ever attended. If you ever have a chance to go to one, I would highly recommend it. Also, you can find some of Chuck’s books on business and leadership here.
Let me just say that I am not a clean freak. In fact, that is probably waaay understating things. I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a grungy person or think that I live in a cesspool or anything that extreme and you won’t ever see my house on an episode of “Hoarders”, but Mr. Clean and I aren’t exactly best buddies either. My problem is I find myself going to two very different extremes when it comes to house cleaning: either every single speck of dust has to be gone or I’m just not going to bother. That attitude coupled with the fact that I work full-time and have a 1 year old means that the later has been my general philosophy for most of my married life.
Anyone that has sold a house can tell you that the number one thing to get your house ready to sell is to clean and de-clutter like nobody’s business. The “staging professionals” hired by our realtor described it as “clean like your grandmother would clean.” I like to call it June Cleaver Clean. The kind of clean that no house, car, or office of mine has ever experienced before. That is the level of clean that a house should be in before putting it on the market.
Well, our house is on the market…and I’m still working on the clean part. I’m pretty good at getting rid of the junk in the house, probably more so now that I know we can’t take most of it with us anyway. We only have 2 trunks full of stuff that won’t be coming with us that we would like our families to store. Things like my wedding dress and nice china. However, getting rid of all of our junk took a lot longer than I would have thought, even for my house that I like to purge of junk every 6 months or so. Our basement was especially bad, as we never used it for anything other than a giant junk dump. Our garage and laundry room are still not what I would consider up to par, but they are getting close.
That being said, having a house free of junk does not make it June Cleaver Clean. That part came this last weekend, as I took to the bathrooms and wood floors with my arsenal of cleaning products and waged war on grimy corners and scummy walls. It was a long hard fight, but I was victorious! And where was Dan during the War on Grime? He was fighting the good fight at 50 feet below in Mermet Springs. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.