Monday, January 23, 2006


We never thought we'd see the day.

The Seattle Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl.

Grown men cried. Fans took hours to leave Qwest field. Pioneer Square rocked through the night. And in the Maier household, voices were lost, rats were frightened by all the noise, and sleep was hard to come by.

Our favorite sign in the crowd: "East Coast Media -- How do you like us now?"

Hats off to the whole team (but especially the defense)!!

See you in Detroit!!

Manhandling Rampage
Detroit Ticket Packages

Monday, January 16, 2006

Percolations 2

Here are some more previously unreported (I think) moments from our almost-cruise, in rough chronological order:

** Girls swimming alongside the dinghy at Cat Island. On one of our trips to shore, Marjie and Chloe decided to swim back to the boat ('though Chloe felt a bit nervous about being in the water with all the dolphins that had been around that day). It was a pretty long way, so Frank and I put-putted alongside them in the dinghy. When they got tired or we got bored (which came first, I can't remember), the girls grabbed on to the sides of the Tender, and we towed them. It was thrilling for all -- for them because they liked the speed and face-splashing, and for us because we felt like we were trolling for sharks with our daughters as bait. ;-)

** Getting turned away from Gulfport by the police boat. We stopped in there hoping to top off the diesel before the passage, but they met us at the harbor entrance and told us to go away. The harbor was completely closed due to Katrina damage.

** How good food tasted during the passage (once we quit barfing). For instance, we had one fabulous lunch – truly, one of the most delicious meals of our lives – consisting of crushed tortilla chips, Ritz crackers, salsa, and refried beans directly from the can. YUM!!

** Naples is a really pretty city. At the time, coming as we were from hurricane-ravaged Slidell, we were mostly aware of it being whole and undamaged. But now that we look back on it, having seen quite a bit more of Florida than we ever expected, we can “see” better how nice it was. It’s what people think of when they fantasize about winters in Florida, with pretty homes and quaint businesses; clean, palm-lined streets; a feeling that the whole world is on vacation; and an unmatched level of civic pride. I assume all that will soon be true again as they recover from Wilma.

** Walking to the Naples West Marine. When we pulled into the guest dock in Naples, they gave us a little city map. It says right on it, "Map is not to scale," but we figured it couldn't be *that* much off. It was. We set out one day to walk to West Marine, a distance of maybe 10 city blocks by the map and about 100 miles in reality. Okay, not 100, but it was a LONG way, and it was REALLY HOT. When we hit our moment of worst discouragement, lo and behold, there was a Joe's Crab Shack. We went in and had gigantic lemonades and a shrimp platter. You should have seen the waiter's eyes pop when he came back three minutes after serving our drinks to find that Chloe had emptied her lemonade glass already. Much refreshed and armed with the knowledge that we were actually close to West Marine now, we made the rest of the walk in good time and good spirits. A taxicab later returned us to the marina.

** Talking to Chiara. We miss our Italian daughter tremendously, every minute of the day!! But our phone conversations with her made for some of our best moments of the trip. The most memorable was that one lovely day at the Dry Tortugas. Totally fed up with being out of contact with her, I said, "I don't care what it costs!" and fired up the satellite phone one morning. We all took turns talking to her, and it was a happy, festive time. Afterwards, I was a little weepy but felt actual physical relief for having spoken to her. Then Frank and I got in the dinghy to go ashore and check the Wilma predictions. The forecast that morning said that the storm wasn’t coming to the Keys. It was erroneous but nicely timed to give us one lovely, relaxed day at Fort Jefferson.

** We aren’t the only clumsy sailors around. I had some moments on the passage of feeling like a pretty inept sailor, so it was kind of nice to sail to Key West with Delfina and see somebody else make some sailing errors. It was nothing major -- they made a couple of inadvertent tacks -- but it was reassuring.

** Visiting the Key West Municipal Library. My best friend, Stephanie -- who used to live in KW -- had a dream that we went to the Key West library. Not ones to ignore psychic vibrations, and since we had plans to go there anyway :-), we soon became regular patrons. They gave us a library card in exchange for $15, which seems pretty cheap now considering all the books, movies, and Internet time we got for it.

** Rain drills. Rain is always a major event on a sailboat in the tropics, because you typically have every port and hatch open in order to get some much needed ventilation. On the Zombie Princess (and a good percentage of the rest of the sailboats down there), this is compounded by a few leaky ports. So, every time it started to rain (once a day, on average), we had a mad scramble, "all hands" effort to close everything up and set out absorbent materials (diapers) under the leaky spots. We've been home for a month, in our nice waterproof house, and I still tense up and get ready for action when I hear it start to rain (17 times a day, on average). (Did I mention that we are currently enjoying a rain streak in Western Washington? It's rained at least once every day for something like 30 consecutive days, and rain is predicted for every day this week.)

** The Zombie Princess is one tough little boat. But I suppose you had all managed to figure that out, reading between the lines of this blog.

    P.S. This may be the first time in my life I actually managed to follow through on a New Year's resolution!


    Our nephew-son (Jerry is Frank's sister Judy's son who lived with us for his junior and senior years in high school) is in the Marines, currently stationed west of Baghdad. We spoke to him yesterday. He says he's doing all right, except that they're all freezing right now. Seems the nice warm clothes the military provides don't fit real well under body armor. Fortunately, Jerry usually gets to stay in the warm truck with the radio.

    Their base has been rocketed a couple of times since his arrival there in December, but the attacks went somewhat wide. He did send us a photo of a blasted toilet seat. The guy using the head at the time the rocket hit was unhurt.

    There is some hope that Jerry's unit will be rotated out in the spring. Keep your fingers crossed for us. We really, *really*, REALLY want him out of there.

    Monday, January 9, 2006

    Photo of Chiara (because we really miss her!)

    Here's a photo from Chiara's graduation party, not long before she went home to Italy.

    We miss you, K-Dogg!!!!

    Maddie, Chiara, neighbor Alecia, Marjie

    Photo from New Year's Eve (by request!)

    I was woefully neglectful of the camera at our New Year's Eve party, but I did get this one of Marjie and Ella asleep together on their pallet in the basement.

    Ella and Marjie

    Sunday, January 8, 2006

    Still here?

    Just in case anybody is reading this now that our lives are ever so much less fraught with danger, here's what we've been up to.

    With the holidays done, we have stepped up our efforts to complete our big bedroom swap. Marjie is essentially moved into Chiara's old room, and as of two days ago, Chloe is essentially moved into our old room. Now comes the hard part: cleaning out 13 years of kid stuff from the upstairs bedroom. We've got the main room emptied, but that still leaves two closets, the toy shelves, the little alcoves that were Marjie's and Chloe's private spaces, and the 3/4 bath. It's all my fault for being a packrat and passing on the tendency to my kids!

    Frank has moved up our bedframe and boxspring, and he cleaned the carpet up there. He accomplished these things on his own because I managed to slip on the stairs while moving Chloe's mattress down to the basement. My ankle is well sprained and quite colorful, but there's definite improvement already, and I'm being careful not to re-injure it. Frank's fancy Mardi Gras walking stick has come in handy and provides a much more dignified form of transportation than the crawling I was doing initially (much to the girls' amusement).

    We held our annual New Year's Eve sleepover with all the cousins (eight girls this year, ranging in age from 2 to 13). It was the usual madhouse festivities, complete with musical chairs, ice cream sundaes, movies, and sparklers and shouting at midnight, even though we had to hold the party on Dec. 30th because some of the girls had a wedding to go to on the real New Year's Eve (our congrats to Tony and Jennifer!). Our neighbors thought we were nuts when we all went outside to count down to Dec. 31st. :-) Two-year-old Ella was the star of the show and probably the one who had the most fun, even if she did burst into tears when her mom came to pick her up the next morning, giving every impression that we'd spent the night torturing her.

    Our actual New Year's Eve was a quiet one, 'though we had to struggle to stay awake that long. At midnight, we went out front to count down again and ended up receiving an impromptu invitation from our favorite neighbors to go hang around their backyard firepit. I was really dragging and left after only a short visit, only to get caught up watching Kate & Leopold on late-night TV with Chloe.

    After two short nights, it was exceedingly difficult to get up and watch the Seahawks lose in the morning game on Jan. 1st, but we did. I wish Sean Alexander had been in Seattle when he broke the single-season touchdown record. As it was, the announcers barely commented on his performance, choosing instead to speculate endlessly and pointlessly about Brett Favre's likely (and one-season-too-late) retirement. East Coast bias rears its ugly head.

    I return to work at Microsoft on the 17th, and Marjie and Chloe (and Frank) are preparing for a stint dogsitting Angelo for Grandma and Papa, who are traveling to Mexico. Frank is also preparing for some Ty Pennington time, since both girls have big plans for platforms and things for their new bedrooms.

    I still have more Percolations to write up, quite a few of them, actually. Posting some of them before my return to work is one of my New Year's resolutions. ;-)