Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ethan Michael Kissell -

For those of you who aren't on Facebook - here's our new Grandson.

  • Name: Ethan Michael Kissell
  • Born: 4/28/2010    1:01 PM EDT
  • Weight: 8 lbs 5 oz  (3.77 kg)
  • Length: 21 1/2 " (.55m)
  • Demeanor: Angelic (could you expect anything less?)
 Say Hello to Ethan.  I haven't taught him English yet, maybe next week, but it's obvious to even the casual observer that he'll understand.

Here's a before picture - Ethan enjoying the waterbed.

Another before picture - with Mom and Dad 2b in the beautiful room prepared for Ethan.

Proud Mama and Papa - Ethan's about three hours old here and already has learned how to capture the center of attention.

A happy, happy man.

A sore, exhausted Happy Mama.

Grandma Janie 

The Grandmas Two - Suzi and Janie

And Grandma Suzi (to be known as Gammer) gets her turn.

The Ol' Gaffer gets his turn.  He took this opportunity to spend a few minutes to teach Ethan to read.  The kid is amazing - he doesn't even move his lips.

His vocal chords are incredible - he can hit two octaves above high C - most men can't even hear it.  Which is why the ladies always take care of him in these cases.

Now this - this is when the men know how to take care of him.  He isn't into talking sports yet - but we know he likes hooters.

I taught him to count to two already.  In this photo he is up to number two.  We are so proud!!

Some of the girls at the hospital were already leaving off their phone numbers for him.  Soon we have to have a talk...

Here's one of the girls now - this is Sherry - taking the vitals.

This is the result - always trust your computer.

Gammer gets him again.

More tests - but he passed with flying colors - absolutely brilliant baby.

So dad says, "Whadaya think; time to go home?" "Yawn, yeah, pops", he says. I taught him to say that.  

So the little bugger gets tucked in - we heard him mutter - "I think I've had enough, take me home.  You drive."

This is Ethan's first set of wheels.  Mom's teaching him to drive.

This is it, Mom, you're on your own from here.

Sore but happy Mama struggles into car.

Finally, almost home.

Thanks, Sis, for being there for me.

Offloading precious cargo.

Helping Mama up the stairs.

"Houston, the Stork has landed."

Ethan's first formal dinner at the dining room table.

Gammer Suzi teaching Ethan how to whistle.  He's not into melody much, but the little rascal has got a wolf whistle down really well.

This photo was taken using a special camera lens filter which enhances the celestial spectrum frequency - proving that Ethan is a perfect angel.

Ethan's first Gal - ain't love grand?

Go away and leave me alone.  I'm teaching Ethan how to say "Arrrrgh!"

A one, and a two.  Yep, I got both down just fine.

The Ol' Gaffer hits me with one shot o' rum....

This is my imitation of Winston Churchill.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

2 1/2 Months at Marathon - Boot Key Harbor, Florida

Well, we finally left Marathon after a 2 1/2 month, very enjoyable, albeit cold winter.  And I want to tell you this: Never, NEVER go there.  You'll hate it.  There are many scary things there.  It's terribly confusing.  And nobody would like you much.  We can't wait to get back ourselves though, but if everybody went, it would be too crowded, there wouldn't be any moorings available.  So rest assured, you wouldn't want to go there - for our sake.  

Did I mention scary?  Here are some of the scary things you'll find there:
Our first day there - walking innocently across the grass - a vicious killer banyan tree suddenly attacked me, wrapping its merciless limbs around my innocent and less than corpulent body (thanks to a vigorous exercise routine involving photoshop).  Thanks to Suzi who stabbed the tree repeatedly with a fingernail file - the only weapon she had available and coincidentally the only object that killer banyan trees fear - other than axes, chain saws and the like which the ordinary visitor seldom carries with him - I was saved.  It's bark was clearly worse than it's bight.  You'd think the locals would warn you - but all I heard were giggles.

 A short while later, a vicious local bird landed on this man's hand, his claws piercing his hand and causing a painful grimace, which I photographed, instead of helping.  After the banyan tree incident, I wasn't going to take any chances.  Suzi whipped out her bark-scarred fingernail file and saved his life.  He didn't seem terribly grateful though, muttering something about how expensive pet parrots were.

Next on our little stroll through wonderful Marathon, we found some people torturing children, tying them up with ropes and flinging them into the air.  Perhaps they were withholding important information involving national security and I didn't want to get involved.

But when I saw them flipping these innocent children I couldn't hold back and started to take action when...

They unleashed this dragon on me and frightened me away.  My outrage overcoming my fear, I turned back but...

They sent evil coconut monsters against us.

Nobody, NOBODY can stand up against an onslaught from these brutal, cold-blooded killers.

Skillful dodging and darting, thanks to my years of practice outrunning the law, allowed your heroes, Saltwater Suzi and Captain Larry, to evade these monsters when, out of breath, perspiring, exhausted, we turn and run into a...

And yet another - who was so fearsome, he claimed he was afraid of only one thing, the monster who took his eye...

his wife.

Escaping all these perils, we made our way back to our dinghy and through the mooring field and back to our boat, passing, on our way other beautiful (but no doubt deadly) sailboats such as this.

and less than beautiful boats such as this - no doubt a victim of either pirates or a scurrilous attack of the evil lethargy.

We passed boats belonging to friends - this one Walt and Pat's whom we met in Charleston.

And this one with a funny name.

That night Suzi had nightmares of pirates.

...and I of mermaids.  You didn't think you were going to get away without mention of mermaids.

Later, back ashore, having learned to avoid the local treachery, we enjoyed some music as did these two dancing girls - one of whom ( we know not which one) you may recognize from a previous photo where she was being tortured for information. 

And the locals engaged in strange ritual dances which we were discouraged from joining.  (Not by the locals but from our old bones, still healing from all the running and scardyness of the previous day.)

This is the Marathon Cruisers Meet and Greet Pot Luck Dinner held every Wednesday night.  There was a lot of meeting and greeting, a small amount of luck and absolutely NO pot.  We met many people but after awhile, I just kind of tuned out.  One of the conversations went like this:
Suzi:      Larry, I'd like you to meet George Howe.
Larry:     Who?
Suzi:     No, Howe.
Larry:     Nice to meet you.  How are you?
George:  Yes, I am.
Larry:    What?
Suzi:    That's him over there.
Larry:    Who?
Suzi:     No, Watt - Henry Watt.
Larry:    Watt?
Henry:   Yes?
Larry:    How are you?
Henry:   Fine thanks, How are you?
Larry: (getting into the spirit of the ever degrading humor of the conversation) No, he's how?
Henry:   Where?
Suzi:  No, this is Pete Ware, 
Larry and Henry:  Nice to meet you Pete.
Pete:  And I'd like you meet my friend Harry.
Larry:    Not Harry Johnson!  If you introduce me to Harry Johnson, Im leaving.

 And I left.  The next Meet and Greet was held outside because the Marina was closed. For Marathon, Florida, it was C O L D.  It was a record cold winter - getting down to as low as 38 degrees.  Everybody was making a hobby of freezing their asses off.

 I had stopped into a Salvation Army store and they had there (inexplicably) a pair of ice skates.  The next time I was there, they were gone!  Now I feel badly for you guys up north putting up with your unusually long, cold winter, and many of you have made fun of us for complaining about the cold here in 'Paradise', but I would like to point out that you have heat in your homes and heat in your cars and you didn't travel 1200 miles at six miles an hour and face killer trees, and ferocious coconut monsters, and parrots, and pirates.

Mike and Bev on Walkure (there are two dots over the u and the W is pronounced like a V if that helps) also froze their asses off.

This is Allen and Kate on Mendocino Queen.  They also froze their asses off.

This is another pirate - a friendly type - and he still has his ass.  So if you need one, there are many asses running around loose in Marathon.  

This is the Hurricane Restaurant.  We ate here several times, reasonable prices, good food, and it's fun to say that you calmly had lunch in the Keys in the middle of a Hurricane.  I even sang here once - most of the clientele has returned though.  Photos on this later in this blog - but no skipping ahead.

Many buildings in the Keys have neat murals.  Some a little scarier than others.  

The Key's electric service is supplied on these posts - a bit unsightly, but probably necessary and they run the entire length of the keys - sometimes taking shortcuts through the water but mostly along this road known as the Overseas Highway which connects all the Florida Keys.  This is really boring information but you should know it because there may be a test later.  

This is the sign for the very famous Barracuda Grill - Stop in for a Bite! But we never ate there because they didn't open until 5:55 pm and we are, you know, old, and eat supper at about 4:00 PM to take advantage of the early bird specials famed throughout all of Florida.  Notice the straps around the sign to hold it together in case of high winds.  We should all have had those straps to help keep our asses on during the cold weather - which, by the way killed many, many fish and adversely affected the coral reefs.  (More test material.  I hope you're taking notes.)

Marathon is kind of a laid back place - this soft rock and roll guitarist (the rock and roll wasn't soft, the guitarist was) was recently the Mayor of Marathon.  I never heard of any elections or anything but there is this tree near the marina where people gather and speak of things writ large on the soul of humanity.  It is known as the tree of knowledge - or maybe it was the tree of wisdom.  They wouldn't let me sit under it because I am known for saying things writ small.  You are reading such a thing.  I think he became Mayor accidentally under this tree.  It may behoove the Congress of these dubiously wonderful United States to meet under such a tree.  If any of them would be allowed in.

Many came to sit and enjoy the former mayor and others perform.  I took this picture of them just to prove that they showed up.  Many didn't look as if they were enjoying, so the congregation may have been required by laws passed while the guy with the guitar was mayor or maybe the tree people.

Suddenly a pirate appeared along with his wench.  In Marathon, many notable and notorious pirates hang about.  Not from ropes, like they did in days of old, they're just there because there are no laws against piracy.  The Tree of Knowledge people can't think of everything.  Unlike our Congress who have a law against everything.  Many of which we all have unavoidably violated.  So your arrest is pending.  I live on a boat and keep moving around so they can't catch me.  You, however, are doomed.  Consider this a warning.

A Happy Pirate - perhaps a gay pirate - hard to say.  We, however, did wonder if fruit stands in Key West were like fruit stands  everywhere else. 

This is the famed Howard Livingston and the Marker 24 band.  The genre is 'Trop Rock' which is Jimmy Buffet kind of music.  I wish I could think up a genre of music - or anything for that matter.  I did have a thought once, but have no memory of it.  It has been successfully expunged by the rum.  More on that later - after I've been to the liquor store.)

This is a guy in the audience who was watching H.L and the 24 M M band.  Quick quiz - do you remember what that means?  No looking back.  Hah! So you've been into the rum, too.

This is Lee.  I didn't know that when I took the photo but we met her later.  She claims she is 67 and deeply in love with the guy on the left.  Isn't rum wonderful?

This is Mike and Bev again.  They were freezing their asses off last time you saw them.  They're dancing.  To the Trop Rock Music.  It looks, from his expression like she's goosing him.  But he's just singing along with the music.  At least I think that's what was happening.  I can't see her left hand.  And the music was kind of loud to be able to hear him for sure.  This will definitely be on the test.  But it will be multiple choice and more of an opinion poll than a test.  Goose or song?  Your opinion.  Think about it and I'll get back to you later.

This guy is trying to decide - goose or song.  In the Keys, these are the important issues.  Very little else really matters.  Unless it's really cold and you can't locate your ass.

We helped her locate hers. 

Sometimes my camera just has a mind of its own.  I was too busy deciding whether to pull on those tassels to be bothered taking a photo.  Suzi was busy making sure I was keeping my hands to myself.  Thank the Good Lord (or Nikon) for telephoto lenses.  You're welcome guys.

This is Tom.
This is Tom getting goosed. 
This is Maureen (on the left) and Tom (on the right - the only place left)  She is not the guilty gooser.

The guilty gooser is the pirate guy who accidentally backed into Tom.

All was forgiven and the pirates all went up on stage because that's where they had the World's Only 1952 5 HP Johnson Margarita Blender.  (Hey, I don't make this stuff up.  Well, some of it I do.)

So they auctioned off a Margarita and it was for a good cause, I don't remember what, and this lady 'won' the auction and paid $500.00 for a Margarita.  There may have been alcohol involved in the bidding process, but I abstained - there is not enough money in the world to make me spend $500 bucks for a Margarita.  Wait, that makes no sense - nevermind.  The important part was they gave out samples of the world's most expensive margarita and I got some.  And that's what's important.
Later that evening, the had a sunset.  It is required by law.  One of the Tree of Wisdom and/or Knowledge Laws.  Sunrises, however, are optional.   And rare.  I've never found anyone in Marathon who claims to have ever seen one.  Locations of the sunsets are also optional, westish is kind of traditional, but most compasses are not in 100% agreement on this.  Timing is a bit iffish, too.  I once saw one sunset about 2:00 PM.  But I had been drinking my lunch and not everyone agreed.  But I swear...
 Earlier that day, or one of the days  - does it really matter?  Suzi and I took the dinghy to Sombrero Beach.  I asked why they call it Sombrero Beach and got quite a few odd looks from the locals.  One of them finally told me they called it Sombrero Beach because that's it's name.  I got to thinking about it and decided that that's probably why they call me Larry. 

 If you look into the water at Sombrero Beach you will see really tiny baby sharks.

 Both of us went wading though, in spite of the fact that the baby shark's mom was probably lurking nearby.  We were careful not to step on any.  We're brave, as you knew from our experience with a banyan tree, pirates and mean coconuts, but we're not stupid.  At least not measurably.

See?  There's Brave Saltwater Suzi wading all the way up to her ankles and not being measurably stupid.  Photos don't lie.  Well, not this one anyway.

There are many things you might see on a beach.  This is one of the less interesting.

This is another thing you might see on Sombrero Beach - a nice seagull picture, an old guy with a back cleavage and a lady with something over her head and her top down using the less obtrusive face down method.

This is a male palm tree.  Can you figure out how I can tell?

Beach, Ocean, Sailboats, Sky. They require the scenery to be in alphabetical order.
There are a lot of laws like this.  Almost as many as there are bottles of booze under the very famous (by now anyway) Tree of Knowledge and/or Wisdom.

There are many things you might see at the beach.  This is one of the more interesting.

Sidewalk, Suzi, Tiled Bench, Trees - you can't look at this picture any further because it starts getting out of alphabetical order, and that would be against the law.

Here, again, is that moonscape they imported from outer space -which I reported to you earlier in this blog in the fun and fantastic episode of Tara's visit.  They even let you walk on it.  

Sometimes they have this guy that comes in and spray paints background scenery.  He's good, too.  I'll show you some more of his work later.

Sky, palm trees, hammock, beach, Atlantic.  Reverse alphabetical order  - this scene was upside down.

Here's Suzi, blowing off a little steam.  No, just kidding, it's that sky spray painter guy again, hard at work.

I think he works for the people who live in these houses.  They can probably afford him.

They have their own cannons to keep the pirates (and us riff-raff) away.

They even have winged dog people with big boobs to guard their benches.

And they live in places like this.  This is one of those places which you can only describe as 'Holy Shit!"  I, personally wouldn't because I'm much too urbane, sophisticated, cultured and refined.  In spite of this, the people in this particular house took one look at me and said, "Holy Shit!"  

So Suzi and I made an offer on this place, right next door.  That'll teach those peasants a lesson. 

 We took two pictures of it so we could find it again and move in if we ever get back down here.

This is a Pelican taking flight.  His name is Henry Winkler.  All Pelicans are named Henry Winkler.  They think it's cool.  

I just sorta liked the picture.  

This sunset occurred just about dusk - it was right on schedule, almost to the minute.  At sunset, everybody that has one blows a conch horn.  It sounds like a herd of crippled elephants.  Then, this guy with a loudspeaker on shore plays 'Taps'  and just as that is finished he plays Bobby Vinton's 'Mr. Lonely.'

Remember earlier I mentioned the Hurricane Restaurant?  If not you can go back and check it out, I'll wait, I've got all the time in the world.  But you'd best be back in five minutes, cause I've got better things to do than to sit around waiting for you to refresh your memory. 

Back already?  Okay, this is part of the inside of the Hurricane restaurant - the Tribute to Elvis Alcove.  From the left: Walt and Pat on Waves of Grace, above Pat, is Elvis, not nearly as dead as he has been for awhile,  then Lorrie and Gordon on Mystic.  Then Suzi's arm.

Here's a closeup of Walt and Pat and Elvis's arm

The wind was blowing like it was January in Pennsylvania.

This is Andy and Sally, friends of ours from up north - they're also on a Morgan - not the same model as ours and a lot newer.  They have sailed across the Atlantic and enjoyed the Mediterranean. And Andy used to have a lot of hair.  But the winds of Marathon blew it all off.  He used to be really handsome, too.  And taller.

Just when you least expect it - another sunset.  Right in the middle of a reasonably coherent conversation.  And then conch horns blew and taps played and again, Bobby Vinton's 'Mr Lonely.'

One night, at the Hurricane - remember the Hurricane? - they had open mike night.  And our friend Mike went, and they didn't open him, but he was the opening act.  Mike's pretty good - he plays 'Trop Rock' stuff.

The second act was me.  It may look like there was camera motion and poor focus - but it was just me - moving real fast and not cause it was a fast song. 

I was dodging the rotten vegetables being flung.  You have to be a talented dancer and filled with a strong instinct of self-preservation to play in a bar that attracts crowds like this.   But I persevered, was only injured slightly, and I hear that most of their clientele has returned.

This is Richard.  He is my fan.  You can tell by the slightly glazed and crazed look.

"Sit down and shut up, Larry, you, fool."

"Come, Mike, let me at him, let me hit him with my caracas."

No, Bev, I paid good money for those caracas.  A girl shouldn't be waving her caracas around a bar like this anyway!.

So that humiliation out of the way, we went for dinner and drinks on Pat and Walt's beautiful boat,Waves of Grace.  Wonderful folks and a great dinner.  And nobody threw vegetables at me.

A ride in our dinghy startled this egret.

And turned this manatee to stone. 
Manatee get stoned easily.
There is only one reason for this photo being here and that is to separate the manatee picture above from the Larry picture below.  Just so no comparisons will be made.

Oh, shut up.  I heard that.  You're just jealous cause my boobs are bigger than yours.

But I had to dress this way to scare the barnacles and the rest of the eco-system we had collected off the bottom of our boat.  I was in long enough that I collected a few barnacles on my bottom - and now I find it very uncomfortable sit down.

When it was near time to try to leave (notice that use of the word 'try' more on that in the next post) we decided we should take a few pictures around the area to share with you, Yes, and you, too, sitting over there in the corner feeling sorry for yourself because you feel we've been neglecting you.  Straighten up.  Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments.  Stand up and be heard.  And while you're up, bring me another rum.

This is the outer dinghy dock.  Our parking lot. It's usually full as is the inner dinghy dock.  So there's no room for you, so please just stay home.  Unless you bring plenty of rum. And warm weather.  Then welcome, come on down, we still love you.

There are some unusual boats in the mooring fields in Boot Key Harbor.   This one seems to use a back door for a dinghy platform.

These are Ibis - long curvy bills.  I like their bills.  Cause I don't have to pay them.  I'm sorry, that was a very bad pun.  Will you forgive me and read on if I promise not to do it again. It's not much longer, I promise.

Before leaving, we had another eco-system to remove off of the bottom of our dinghy.  We beached it at the beach (where else?) took the engine off and turned the dinghy over and scraped the bottom.  It was too disgusting so we didn't take pictures.  Besides, we forgot.  Which is the real reason as you well know we are not above posting disgusting photos for your perusal.

Blue water at Sombrero beach.  Yep, it really looks like that.

Saltwater Suzi  at the helm with no hint of the trouble that's going to attack us after we leave.

Okay, here comes the secret part.  I kept this for last because I knew that only my good, trustworthy friends would read this far.  Any foreign operatives, scalawags, traitors or terrorists would have given up, dropped off to sleep or been bored to death.  My friends can take it.  They're tough.  They're used to it or they would have left me long ago.



Is anybody there?

Well, here it is.  There are four antennas like this one pictured here.  It is used by the U.S. Government to transmit propaganda (and ads for dangerous, defective products) to Cuba.  There is also a blimp on a small island near Key West known as Fat Albert.  I thought at one time that that was just an alias, that Fat Albert was not its real name, but I checked and sure enough, it is.  Anyway, they send Fat Albert up to watch the waters in the Straits of Florida to see that Cubans aren't trying to escape to America, or that Americans aren't trying to smuggle in Cuban Cigars.  (Really dumb, because you can buy them legally in Canada.) 

Now here's the really weird one:  if Cubans can get to America and get one foot on shore, they are immediately welcomed and granted political asylum.  However, if we can catch them off-shore, even a foot or two, we send them back to Cuba.  In Miami, they hose them down with fire hoses to keep them from coming ashore until the Coast Guard can get there and pick them up.  I simply do not understand American policy.  No amount of explanation can explain or justify actions such as these.  And yet, supposedly intelligent statesmen, and government officials support, condone or mandate these actions.