Archive | February 2013

Doing Peyote

What does “Doing Peyote”  have to do with my obsession with the sea?

I know.  It sounds more like an illegal desert activity than something water-related.  I’m not talking about THAT kind of peyote though.  I mean the bead weaving stitch called peyote or gourd stitch.  I am making myself a sea turtle bracelet with peyote stitch.  Well.  I was.

I have trays of seed beads in pretty much every variation of green and blue.  I have brought them back and forth between Florida and Minnesota for 5 years.  I had them for 5 years before that.  Ok maybe 10.  I used to know how to bead weave on a loom.  And a little bit off loom.  So I decided to pick it back up again.  I found some super cool sea turtle beads and got inspired.

I couldn’t remember exactly how the stitch went so, of course, I goggled it.  There were lots of directions… yada, yada, yada.  Too much reading, not enough art.  I sorta got it, so I just dove in.  It’s an artform right? No wrong way.

First my thread kept tangling and breaking.  I started over a few times before Rollo suggested the thread might be disintegrated from sitting so long.  I tried a fishing-line type.  Still tangled.  The beads just seemed so small.  I think they shrunk from sitting so long.   Can that happen?  I went to the local bead store for some answers.   This is Naples, so  it’s a “couture” bead store.  I wasn’t exactly sure what that mean and I wasn’t exactly sure they would let me in.  But they did.  And they suggested a new sort of thread-Fireline-that I don’t think was invented when I beaded before.  They also suggested that, perhaps, it was my eyesight rather than the beads that had changed.  Maybe I would like to try a larger size?  One I could see?  Just till I got my beading mojo back on.  Ok.

So I found some new beads that looked only slightly smaller than the plastic ones I remember from kindergarten, got my Fireline and tried again.  It went ok at first.  I got the rythmn of the peyote stitch back once I could actually see what I was doing.  But then I got fancy.  Maybe not that fancy.  I just tried to add the turtles.  With no idea what I was doing. How hard could it be?

I planned to go Freeform. The turtles are meant to be swimming up through the holes in the work.   I added the lovely ruffled edge to look like waves.  yeah that’s it. They are not mistakes.  The loose threads you see, seriously, just need to be burned off, but I didn’t want to set the thing on fire before I took the picture.

Here are the results.  Now, I have been interested in some form of art or another forever.  Pastel painting, photography, writing…and I have heard the quotes.

There’s no such thing as bad art.

Bad art is better than no art.

You HAVE to make bad art to make good art.

I have never believed them and I still don’t.  But I finished the thing. I might even finish adding the the edging to the rest of it.

If any of you are dumb gullible enough to believe that this is really freeform or that the lovely wave ruffle is not hiding the hideously crooked edge, this thing is yours.  That is, if your wrist is not much larger than a toddler’s.


Monofins, Mermaids, and Uni-Lards

Monofins?  I had no idea there was such a thing until recently.  Where have I been?

They have been around since the 70s.  Used by free-divers and “finswimmers”.   I think I saw them mentioned on a website for an excursion to swim with wild dolphins.   This makes sense because you use a technique called dolphin kick to “power” your fin.

I googled it and found mermaid shaped fins for kids.  Pink.  No thanks.  For us (semi) adults Finis seems to be the place to go if you want a monofin.  And I did.  I got one for my birthday.  While I was waiting for it to arrive, I walked  laid around… on the beach, on the couch, on the floor… and tried to make like a dolphin.  Or a wave. I was more like someone that needed an appendectomy.  I couldn’t seem to get it.

Finally, the package arrived.  I got goggles and a nose clip too.  Happy Birthday to me.

Getting the monofin on was a challenge.  Strapping your feet together and jumping in the Gulf of Mexico might not be sane.  Especially when you can’t get the hang of the kick.  Never mind.   The monofin and the dolphin kick were not meant to be practiced on dry land. (duh)  Add water and it’s MAGIC!

Since then I’ve been experimenting.  Trying it out in the pool.  In the Gulf.  Under water or on top of the water.  Snorkel gear or not.  I even jumped in when a mamma dolphin and her baby were headed my way.  She steered junior in a wide berth around me.  I imagine she  might have even covered his eyes.

I’ve been online more too.  I’ve found out some swimmers can go 8 mph with a monofin.  I watched a guy jump out of the water life a dolphin (YouTube).  All interesting.

Then I found  the Mertailor, Eric DuCharme.  As you might guess by the name, which I love, Eric makes mermaid tails.  I’m not even gonna try to describe how fantastic they are.  You gotta look for yourself. You’re probably gonna want one.  I know I do.

But the most fantastic of them are $2729.50.  That doesn’t include stripes or spots for your fluke or tail.  Or, for that matter a top.  At my age, I want more than the two seashells.  Something like the Dueling Octopus maybe? Add $344.50.

I think it might be worth it myself.  But I’m not sure Rollo agrees, so I won’t be expecting one for our coming anniversary.  Or checking my stocking next Christmas.

This price tag is what lead Rollo, ever the bargain shopper, to suggested I (we?)might make my own.  His thinking was that the monofin covers the working end of things – so why can’t you just find some decorative something to pull over the rest?  I least I hope that’s what he was thinking.  He says now he had something like a leotard in mind, but with a single leg.  He says now he thought a one-legged leotard would be called a Unitard.  What he said then was Uni-Lard.  

His exact words were “Can’t we just get you a Uni-Lard?”

 I don’t think it was an accident.  I think it might have been a comment on the size of my tail.  I don’t care.  Big tail, little tail, dolphin, mermaid, or manatee-someday I’m gonna glide through the water.


Walking on Water – Jesus and Surfing

I started seeing what looked like surfboards on cars around the neighborhood in Naples a few years ago.  I sort of snickered.  Surfing here?  There usually aren’t waves.

Then I saw someone paddling one of these boards out the pass at “our” beach -Wiggins Pass – and gliding up and down the shoreline.  Hmm.  Somewhat cool.  But I kayak the same area and I get to sit down.    Then I saw the dolphins following the boards and I was really jealous. Confession: I was only pretending to brag about sitting down in the kayak.  I really really doubted I could stand up on a board on the water, let alone paddle one.  I’m not all about balance.

Back in Minnesota last summer, our friends Dave and Cherie England let us try SUP (stand up paddle boards) on a lake.  Dave is executive director of Mnsupa – Minnesota Stand Up Paddleboards Association.  They are a nonprofit that uses paddleboards to clean the garbage out of waterways to preserve them for more paddleboarding.  Cheri races paddleboards.  They were excellent teachers.

And I stood up.  It was SUPer fun!  lol.

Getting ready to make the annual haul to Florida, Rollo thought the gas mileage might be better if the woody wagon wasn’t hauling kayaks.  We decided to leave them home and get some paddle boards.  I was skeptical.

We went to a SUP warehouse to pick some out.  Stability (yes please) versus speed, rockers and rails.  Who knows?  How did I choose?  I got a pretty green one that was on sale.  We bought them from a surfer dude from California who asked us if we were going to surf with them.  I just stared at him.  Huh?  He said “Of course, they are still surfboards.  Are you gonna surf?”

What do they smoke out there in California? I’m almost 50, and not even sure I can stand up on a board.  On land.  Let alone on water.  Sometimes I fall up the steps in my own house.  And I’m gonna surf?

I was only a little worried when we took them to the beach.  In the car on the way to the water, I wondered if the waves at Wiggins Pass were bigger than I thought.  I remembered losing a shoe and a really good hat there after getting hit by a wave.  And I was sitting in a kayak at the time. The worries didn’t last once we hauled the boards into the waves.

And I stood up.  ON THE OCEAN.

There were no worries.  No thoughts.  Just peace and waves and the zone.  And sea turtles and dolphins.

Now I get why Jesus walked on water.  What a view!  What a feeling.  Course I’m not sure if how he walked was the same (being he didnt need a board)  Did he stroll or power walk?  Some sort of slide…maybe like a moonwalk?

And did he surf?  Cause now I’m asking the question “How old is too old to learn to surf?”







The Sign of Water

I was born in the sign of water…and it’s there that I feel my best. Cool Change, Little River Band

That’s the song I’ve been singing (if you can call it that) all last week – my birthday week. I am an Aquarius, but I guess I’m not much of an astrologer. Aquarius is not the sign of water. But, I don’t care – I am claiming the Sign of Water anyway. Or maybe letting it claim me.  Because over and over again, water-especially ocean water has drawn me – back to where I feel my best.

I’ve also been warbling Jackson Brown’s “Rock Me on the Water.” The part about “I’ll get down to the sea somehow…”

**BTW, I think these are two of the best ocean songs ever. And I have a list. **


It hasn’t always been easy, practical, or even possible to get there- down to the sea.  There have been years I haven’t seen the ocean, times I have tried to tell myself it’s not that important.

But, I’ve always returned again and again, back to where I belong.

These days, getting down to the sea is as easy as hopping on my bike. It’s only 2 miles away. But more and more often, I get grumpy if I don’t go every day. And I don’t want to just see it; I want to be in it, on it, under it, a part of it.

It’s like a religion.  And, if nature has always been my church, then the ocean is a cathedral.

At 17, I wanted to be a marine biologist. I knew one and he was cool. I’d been scuba diving in California and I was hooked. Then, in my early college years, I met physics and calculus, keg parties, and people who told me I would never get a job as a marine biologist and I wouldn’t make any money if I did, and even then I’d probably only get to work with algae.

Hmmph. I didn’t have a plan B. I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to be. (Nothing I dare mention-writer? Artist?) “Are you sure you don’t want to be a nurse?” I was asked. I was sure. I didn’t. So I quit school.

And went to a cattle ranch in Wyoming. I liked horses, heck, I drove a mustang. Career cowboy could be my plan B, no school required. I knew a cowboy -my aunt J.C.- and she was cool. I stayed awhile. I liked it. But the landscape was sorta dry and brown…and white. Brrr. There was no ocean. In fact, the only water was a stock tank.

So I sold the mustang and bought a ticket to Spain. There was no plan C, no career idea, no educational benefit, but I did get to see the ocean in another country.

When, I got home, I had no car, no job, no degree, no place to live and no plan at all.  I moved in with my mom.  Hmmph. “Are you sure you don’t want to be a nurse now?” I was asked again. Still no.

What could I do that had water, preferably salt water, animals …Hmmph.

I got a job as a bartender. Then I saw the info-mercials on daytime TV for veterinary technician school. Good pay, save animals, the commercial told me. Sounded good. I loved animals. (BTW, Never believe the info-mercials).

I had another great idea. I would be a vet tech at a ZOO. They had dolphins there. A dolphin nurse or even a trainer is close to a marine biologist. Maybe. So I did an internship at a zoo. And I got to swim with the dolphins. I think it was probably the first time I even SAW a dolphin short of TV. And when the internship was over, I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with the zoo. I didn’t even go to a zoo for years.

I became a dog nurse. In intensive care. That’ll wear you out -what with all the rainbow bridges and being indoors.  In Minnesota.  Lots of water, but it’s not salty.

I settled for getting my ocean fix on visits to family in Florida. There was the ocean, but somehow it didn’t seem as real as the one I remembered in California. Not as wild. There were lots and lots of people and strip malls and I hate shopping. But I keep going back and getting salty. And, I finally saw dolphins how they should be. Wild.

Life took some twists and turns from there. Ok, lots of twists and turns. Now I’m the secretary for a blacktop paving company. Eight months of the year in Minnesota.

I’ve been back to California. and back again. and again.

Florida is now home all winter and I’ve found the wild side of it.  It was there all along.  Behind the strip malls, there are sting rays and manatee, sea turtles, and lots and lots of wild dolphins.

The more time I spend near it, the more the ocean seems to be in my blood- it never let go of me.

Here’s what’s goin on lately as I attempt to get closer to it, in it, on it, under it…all the while ignoring this blog.  And my book.

The book I’m writing is about the ocean.

I dream about water all the time.

I carry a blue marble in my pocket.

Joining a shamanic dolphin whisperer on a swim with wild dolphins vacation is on my bucket list.

I asked (on FB) if you would rather have wings or gills or fins.  Why can’t we have them all?

I’ve gone from kayaking to paddleboarding to asking the question “How old is too old to learn to surf?”

I’ve been scuba diving and snorkeling in the past, but just got a Mono-fin.  Which makes me ask the question “Would a mermaid tail make me look fat?”

Don’t ask.  Stay tuned for future posts.  There will be photos.