Sunday, May 31, 2009

Still in Bahia del Sol

Yesterday Suzi and I were whining to one another about circumstances beyond our control. Today I received this email, along with the above photos of Mandy departing Bahia del Sol, crossing the infamous bar.
- Kris

I have a much better perspective this morning ( and even last night after meditating and glancing across the glassy estuary up to the volcano and puffy clouds). I am a very lucky person in the middle of an awesome trip, learning a hell of a lot about myself......again. I do need some time to myself and I'm hoping that David will make the trip into San Salvador to pick up the generator and check out the marine store with another boater-surfer. Daniel is going to ship to us a new battery charger for the generator and a new antenna, and, since we will be waiting for that stuff, I hope we will at least do a little surf trip up to Libertad and "the rock" on Tuesday with two other couples who are surfers. We met a young surfer who teaches up there, and it would be great to see him again. I will find the time to read Shantaram this week and begin to pay attention to learning the language once again. The staff here are so helpful, and I have been very lazy, not remembering the palabras they have taught to me. I am going to visit Jan's school tomorrow and help her teach English while the kids teach me Spanish.

In spite of the chlorine, I have been exercising in the pool each day and so far it has not bothered me much. We went out in the ponga this morning to help guide a vivacious young couple, Michael and Jody on their 46' Gulfstar, Savannah, get back out the bar and head south. There was some surf, but between sets the seas were glassy after the rain this morning. All is well and it was fun being out there. Rejuleo, the guide is wonderful.

Last thoughts [about] saying good-bye to Mandy one more time. This time it wasn't quite as difficult because I do believe we will find them again in Costa Rica. Virginia left me with a beautiful poem which has uplifted my spirits and has reminded me of why I am on this journey. I am sending it with this email. Thank you, Virginia. May the weather gods be good to you until we see you again. I am sending some pictures of Mandy leaving; she tossed and turned but with Rejuleo's guidance, once again, made it out safe and sound.

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep seas, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese high in the clear blue air
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting,
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New pictures

For those of you concerned about the impact that the earthquake in Honduras might have had on our traveling friends: they didn't even feel it. Above are photos of a trip up the estuary of Bahia del Sol, where they have been staying for the past couple of weeks. I also just added pictures of Tacuba to the post from May 21 (so scroll down and look at the pictures, even if you already read that blog). Below are some added thoughts about both trips from Suzi. -Kris

The little town of Tacuba and the people we stayed with were wonderful, even though our original guide did not show up as I said earlier. There are a few pictures of the little hostel, the garden, the animals, and our host, hostess, and staff. Lydia, mamma, and the girls took great care to see that we were healthy and well-fed. Osirus, papa, took us four-wheelin' up to the "short-cut" trail to Luna Falls. Amel and William guided us carefully down the trail, especially helping David to stay upright and as free from pain as possible. We swam and ate yummy Bimbo ham and cheese sandwiches, and thoroughly enjoyed a relaxing time with all. We ended our afternoon at the hot spring pools, a wonderful melting of the sore muscles.

Our next adventure was up the far side of the estuary to the Rio Limpio, gliding by dinghy through glassy water surrounded by mangroves. We took a few "wrong turns" but had a marvelous time and we ended back at the first restaurant we had passed on the way, Manuel's. We all enjoyed lots of very cold beer, garlic shrimp, and laughs. Richard and Virginia went in Serg's dinghy, Rick and Kim in another, and Danny, Paula and Bubba were eventually towed by David. David to the rescue! It was very fun, and it is what makes life special. It is great to play with others. I miss you all but we certainly are finding ways to smile here.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Stolen Blog

I stole this entry, beautifully written by Virgina, from the Crosses' blog. I justify the theft and reproduction here by the fact that Suzi and David accompanied Richard and Virginia on this foray inland; thus, sharing seems appropriate. I hope I will be forgiven this act of plagiarism by all four of the travelers. I just couldn't resist. -Kris

Our recent travel into the interior of El Salvador helped us get to grips with some of the nuances of the country's history and politics. William and Osirus live only half an hour's bus ride from each other, both are devoted family men in their late fifties to early sixties. Both men are generous and attentive hosts and surround themselves with the things they love which include enviable gardens and breathtaking views, but here the similarities end.

William is an "Ameriphile" (my word) right down to his boistrous sense of humor. He served in both the U.S and El Salvadoran military as a helicopter crew chief which, over his long career took him to Germany and Japan. He has a framed and signed photograph of Ronald Regan in his sitting room and he upholds the belief that Regan was the best president the U.S. has ever had. Two years ago William had his own business in the States but chose to return to his roots in Ahuachapan with his family to protect their integrity. The family lives in a gated community under the watchful eye of armed guards with sawn off shot guns on their shoulders, a residue from the civil war. Their 4,000 square foot house is protected by heavy wrought iron bars across all the doors and windows and once inside the residence it seems one has been transported to some grand suburb of the United States, for the style and antique décor is straight out of "Home and Gardens" magazine. The Neo-Georgian swimming pool sparkles amid clipped emerald lawns and the orderly flower beds almost call out rank and file as William and his gardener pass by in conference.

Osirus (after the dog-headed Egyptian god of the underworld) also has a beautiful garden surrounding his home. It is a random profusion of fruits and flowers. The walls of the sprawling compound are painted deep blues and oranges with childlike butterfly decals adorning every one. This is the "Hostal de Mama y Papa" in Tacuba. The town is set in the shade grown coffee highlands near to the border with Guatemala. It has seen its share of revolution, conflict, poverty and recently gang activity, but now the streets are filled with families and children at night and there is a palpable unity that has survived the decades of strife.

Osirus and his bustling wife Lydia have opened their home to the world. The hostel with its three guest rooms surrounds a verdant courtyard. The living all happens under covered patios filled with multi-coloured hammocks and Spanish colonial style furniture. The front door is flung open to the street, allowing friends and guests to pass easily all day until the last light goes out in the cabins. Dogs, cats, chickens and ducks move at will with the residents around the hostel's cozy perimeter and the guest book speaks for the delight and relaxation found there by all.

Nowadays Osirus moves at his own pace. His daughter is well married and his kinetic son Manolo runs high energy "Imposible Tours" throughout the Parque National El Imposible. It is not unusual to find Osirus kicked back in a hammock with his guitar and a favorite pet duck in his lap who sings along with the languid ballads, but he can switch gears with ease and take up the slack when Manolo gets double booked. Osirus is no beginner when it comes to 4-wheel drive mountain tours through mud.

It is disturbing to witness El Salvador's rigid dependence on the United States but if it were to dare make its own way in the world, it would not only be a brave move but also an organic one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

They're Back!

We had a very fun time in the coffee plantation highlands and forests of el Parque Nacional de Imposible, although, if you talked to David about it, he might not call it fun. We arrived in the outlying town of Ahuachapa on Monday, where we needed to catch another bus to Tacuba. We decided to find the restaurant owned by the woman I met here at the Bahia Resort, and as we were walking, her husband drove by, stopped, introduced himself, picked us up, and drove us to the restaurant. Being the only gringos in town, it was quite obvious to him that we could be the people Cyntia had described to him the day before.

We had a delightful morning visiting with them. They ended up taking us on a tour of their home in a gated community close by and eventually drove us to a picturesque little colonial town named Ataca. We hoped to meet up with them again the next day and try their food, which looked wonderful, but that never happened. We wandered about, got rained on, sauntered by the colorful mercado, found a tiny local restaurant for a delicious lunch and caught the bus back in time to catch another bus to Tacuba.

Once in Tacuba, we walked the town and found the Hostel de Mama y Papa. What a beautiful little home with several rooms and a gorgeous garden of reds, yellows, purples, oranges, and greens. Flowers and plants were everywhere. But no Monola, the guide we were to meet. We had been led to believe we might be able to take horses into the park, which was a mystery to Manolo's dad. His parents took royal care of us, even taking us to the "shortcut" trail down to Luna Falls, and we visited some great hot mineral springs in the late afternoon. We had two young guides who did the trail with us, and they were great, although they spoke no Ingles. Papa knew of David's sore knee but perhaps didn't really understand how serious it was and because he could drive us part of the way, he may have figured that the two miles straight down and back were doable. Another delightful couple from Santa Monica joined us on this venture. I think we were the only gringos in Tacuba.

While in route, David was dying. Our young lead guide cut him a cane de cafe and that helped him tremendously. There were many steps which were slick with mud and thanks to the roots of jungle trees and our gortex boots, both David and I made it down very slowly. There was a spectacular waterfall cascading into a gorgeous swimming pond, and we all dove in to feel the tingle of the cold refreshing water. The water under the falls next to the rocks was wonderfully warm, and when we slithered out on the huge rocks, the sun soaked into our souls. We ate Bimbo bread sandwiches of ham, cheese, and black beans and cheese and ate small sweet bananas.

The trip out was straight up, and the exercise felt great to me. We were very thankful that David could actually walk the next day and seems to be fine now. It was very challenging and painful at the time. Cold beers and the hot mineral springs helped to bring relaxation to our weary limbs, and we all slept well that next night, in spite of the dogs barking and the chickens cockodooing each hour of the morning. We left yesterday for San Salvador and finally found ourselves back in the marina by dark, but it was a very long day. That is another story. Sorry not to be more exciting, but perhaps I will have the energy to get into the feelings and sensations of our experiences when I get a chance to send pictures. I will try to do that tomorrow or even tonight. We must go give Sidewinder a bath and re-anchor. Love to all. Our trip was very special in lots of ways............. to be continued.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Checking Out El Salvador

We hitched a ride in the back of Collette's truck to the village of San Marcelino just up the road a bit, a bit farther than our bike ride, and caught the crazy bus back later in the afternoon. Major drumming and dancing masked characters greeted us on the main street of the little town; they were celebrating their day with costumes you'd find on the streets of Laguna Beach on Halloween. No one could explain to us the significance except that each village has their own day to celebrate their essence. Wish I had the camera; it was definitely worth taking pics.

We sauntered down the main street on the way to a well known restaurant on the beach. Bright eyed smiling women with multi-colored aprons, only seen in El Salvador, welcomed us with yummy watermelon, mangoes, shaved ice, roasted cashews, and whatever else you can imagine for sale out in front of their neatly swept humble abodes. As we walked, the parade of teen-agers followed with dancing, celebrating, smiling, drumming, and cheering. We had a marvelous lunch of fresh fish, ceviche, clams, and beef and were entertained by the parade of kids who followed us. They inspired us to dance with them, and the celebration was very festive.

We later walked the beach and meandered through the neighborhood. Again I wished for the camera; it was amazing how neat each home was adorned with flowers and obvious tender care. A blind old man with wrinkles eched in strategic places on his face, smiled with deep satisfaction as he pumped water from his well. He was oblivious to our admiring glances. Of course, another photo opportunity missed, but a grand time to think of what it is that truly makes us happy. His face told me that life was so good; perhaps he was reveling in the delight of being able to have clean water in his own backyard, across the street from a beautiful beach, surrounded by all in his village whom he has known forever.

Community is the essence of what brings joy to people here. Each morning I wake up to the roosters crowing the light of day and the turkey gobbling good day. The fishermen have already brought in their very early catch and are getting ready to go back out to sea; they are cleaning their fish together and the fires are going, getting ready to cook the first meal of the day I suppose. Through the binocs, I can see kids sweeping the dirt, doing their chores with gusto and the women are both cooking and part of the fishing crew. The young women wear tights and their fancy aprons on their hips, which seem to show some kind of freedom. They are not just in the kitchen cooking these days; they are fishing, cleaning, cooking, moving across the estuary in their canoes with a beautiful rhythm, and enjoying somewhat of a sense of freedom, perhaps newly found. This is all just observation and perhaps, wishful thinking. I have been trying to watch and learn as much as I can through careful observation. There is so much to know.

Yesterday David and I met a very cool little surfer guy who is the lifeguard at the beach in front of Bahia del Sol. We went out with our fins and did a bit of body-surfing and when we came in, he greeted us, wishing he, too, had fins. He teaches surfing off of La Roca surf break during the week and works out here on the weekends. He was so cool at teaching us how to say what we wanted to say en Espanol and we taught him the English words he wanted to know. What a cute guy; he is twenty-six years old and so enthusiastic about life.

We brought Sidewinder into the marina this afternoon and will keep her here as we venture into the mountains. Our plan with Richard and Virginia is to catch the bus from the peninsula at 5 A.M. and head to San Salvador. We will change buses and make our way to the small town of Tacuba, which is near the Ruta de las Flores. There is a small colonial town named Ataco, and we're hoping to have a bite to eat there. We have emailed a guide in Tacuba who lives with his family and has a place to stay where we will have meals and safe quarters. Hopefully we will be riding horses into the Parque Nacional El Imposible made possible by Manolo.

I met a woman yesterday who works with students at the secondary schools around the area to recruit and help them get into college, and surprisingly enough she knows our guide and has a restaurant with her husband up in that area Small world, eh? We are leaving Sidewinder here in the marina because the refer has a mind of its own these days and we don't want to come back to dead batteries. This afternoon looks a bit like rain, and it is cool. We will be back late Wednesday. I will catch you on Thursday. We will have pictures to share!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Next Project

Today we are going to San Marcelino, a little town down the road which is supposed to be quite nice and of course we will do some food tasting. We're working on creating an awning with the Sunbrella material I bought in Manzanillo, but Virginia is working on her own covering right now, and her machine is the only one around. Wish I had mine down here; if I had only known!

Because of the rain and intense sun, the covering becomes an important part of your boat. It needs to cover the deck enough to allow you to keep the hatches open during rainstorms because life inside Sidewinder immediately becomes very steamy. In fact, we had a thunder/lightning storm last night which fully reminded us of what is to come. Luckily we have no major leaks. Wish us luck figuring out how to make it. Life certainly continually changes and challenges. Have a great day!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kris as Fear-Monger

Mother Hen that I am, I sent Suzi and David the front page article from yesterday's LA Times about violence in El Salvador. Suzi wrote this response:

We did read the article and already knew that San Salvador is not a city in which to hang out and explore. It is a good place to find what you need, and when it comes to provisioning for the next leg of our trip, it will be a necessary visit, hopefully with Jan, who goes into town weekly. Yesterday we went up to the poor little town of Herradura, bought fruits and veggies, and ate a light meal. It was fun going up the river, but the town is very poor and pretty depressing. Of course, the people are doing the best they can, are working to stay alive, and we received smiles from everyone. Last night we had a nice casual evening with other cruisers eating barbecued chicken by candle-light at Jan's place on the island across from where we are anchored, and all contributed to Jan's English school funds. It was great. Today is a workday on Sidewinder. Love to all from paradise.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cumpleaños Felices

My birthday was a huge success smothered by tons of emails reminding me that I am such a fortunate soul to have such fantastic friends. Early in the morning just as I plugged into the internet, I received a wonderful birthday call from Kris, Marc and Tori, singing a sweet reminder to me that I am always surrounded by love. It was too cosmic and obviously set the tone for a day of celebrating my blessed Beingness.

Dear David was a saint (if you can believe that!), allowing me to spend hours emailing friends, and then we ventured off down the river to clear water and a delightful afternoon swim. We explored a colorful fishing village on the far side of the bar and found a cool little restaurant out in the middle of the estuary to visit again yesterday.

We returned to Sidewinder, and Virginia and Richard came over for cocktails, bringing with them more birthday energy. I blew out candles strategically placed on the salsa, and we laughed our way through the evening, ending with more delicious pupuscas and fish-head soup at Mar y Sol. Another moonlit ribbon ride back to Sidewinder, along with warm breezes, reminded me again of how special my life is. Thank you all for being there for me!

Today we are going up river to San Luis La Herradura. Late afternoon is a barbecue over at Jan's place on the island across from where we are moored; she cooks for everyone in support of her school for teaching English to the local kids. There are some wonderful people here who have dedicated their lives to helping the local gente slowly work themselves from the bottom up. It's another beautiful day in paradise. I love you. Suz

P.S. I forgot to mention that Virginia, too, is a an awesome friend. She gave me a beautiful magical mermaid angel and read mermaid tarot cards for me late in the evening. How very cool is that? I'm such a lucky girl!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Feliz Dia de las Madres!

We are spending the day here next to the pool, enjoying the breeze, the available outdoor showers, and the internet connection, along with beers and cold water. David, Virginia, Richard, and I ventured down the Costa del Sol peninsula on our bikes this morning when it was fairly cool. It was great exercise and a wonderful way to catch a glimpse of life along this portion of El Salvador.

People are very poor in their little hovels of wood and cement, sweeping very carefully with great pride their dirt yards, tending to their gardens, and selling whatever they can to other locals going to the beaches on Mother's Day. Along this stretch of road, with beach on one side and estuary/river on the other, there are many rancheros, large homes, and estates, along with many small restaurants. Last night the four of us dinghied over to the Restaurante Mar del Sol very close to where we are anchored and stuffed ourselves with pupusas, thick hand-made tortillas some stuffed with frijoles and queso, queso and shrimp and some with pork.* We were fat and happy as we followed the full moon ribbon back to Mandy and Sidewinder. We ended our evening staring at the full moon and a fantastic lightning storm in the distance; there was no disco, just tranquility with a natural zap of electricity every now and then. This is a lovely place to stop for a while and rest. - Suzi

*Pupusas are similar to corn tortillas, only thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat. The pupusa originated in El Salvador, but it is also popular in neighboring Honduras. The pupusa is so fundamental to the cuisine of El Salvador that the country has even declared November 13th "National Pupusa Day." - Wikipedia

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bahia del Sol, El Salvador

We arrived in Bahia del Sol yesterday afternoon, and crossing the infamous bar was more intense from the preparation and anticipation than from the experience because we caught a very mellow set. (That's Mandy getting ready to cross the bar in the top photo.) It is absolutely incredibly beautiful here; I think that our stay in Puerto Madero-Chiapas has now made us acutely aware of what paradise really is! There is a delightful warm breeze flowing continually as I sit in this little bar at the yacht club next to the dinghy dock. David is taking a shower, there are palm trees gently blowing, a pretty swimming pool in the distance, dollar beers whenever we want, and internet connection for a week's fee of $14.00. What more could we ask for?!!

We are anchored out in front with Mandy, along with quite a few other sailboats, and the people, once again, are very friendly; the port captain and resident doctor actually met us on the dock yesterday to be sure we had all our appropriate documents and were not carrying swine flu. We now have tourist visas for El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua which are good for 90 days, so I think we are set.

Our trip to El Salvador was fabulous although we could have used more wind. We did have about five hours of wonderful afternoon sailing Thursday with 12-14 knot winds, deep blue seas, white puffy clouds and warm winds pushing us along. The morning was glassy and still and perhaps the most incredible turtle day yet; we could spot a dozen turtles at one time, and the water was such an intense deep clear blue that when the turtles would dive, you could see them go straight down forever. When the dolphins came, it was easy to watch them play so freely with each other and our wake. What a magical trip. When we needed Perkins, he was right there, and although the droning engine hum can get to you, our new appreciation for him is foremost what comes to mind. -Suzi

For photos taken by Suzi of Mandy crossing the bar, see

Monday, May 4, 2009

Leaving Mexico

I spoke to Suzi via Skype this morning. David had gone shopping for "a small Honda generator, beer, tequila and a bolt" in preparation for tomorrow's departure for El Salvador. Mandy is leaving with them. The trip will take several days, so the next time they will be able to communicate easily will probably not be until the weekend. - Kris

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Suzi Explores the Mountains

Hi there! Richard, Virginia, and I have just spent the day with a wonderful family who invited us to go to the mountains with them yesterday when we were here in this lovely town of Tuxtla Chico. David stayed on the boat to get some things done today, and I think he needed some space. Unfortunately he missed a very fun day with Dina, Renee, Luis and little Rene. We rode in the back of a very nice pickup truck up the side of the volcano through several villages, one being Union Juarez and the last, Talquien. We then walked up farther into the village of beautifully colored houses surrounded by exotic flowers, shade grown coffee plants, and lush green hillsides.

It is Sunday, so all the families were out and about, smiling and enjoying their lives just as they are. I had flashbacks of being in the mountains about to trek our way into Tibet. If I were to walk onward into the mountains, I would eventually end up in villages of Guatemala. How fun it was to be in the cool montañas de Mexico. On our way back we stopped to eat a meat-eaters feast with handmade tortillas and delicious cheese, salsa, and guacamole. Of course it was the only restaurant for miles that was completely full, just like Richard´s find in Z'town at the Pazole hideaway. David will surely be disappointed he missed this carne affair.

It was cloudy most of the day and looked much like rain, but the sun is shining now, and we are back, waiting for our taxi driver, Primo, to come pick us up. This community in Tuxtla is very colorful in terms of clothing, buildings and culture, and the mercado we meandered through yesterday was filled with artistically displayed fresh fruits, veggies, and everything else you could possibly want. The people couldn´t be more friendly and helpful, and even though they all want to sell something, there seems to be no competition between them and a great deal of fun to be had. Maybe it is the simple life which inspires this attitude. Why did Dina offer us her yummy coconut chewies for nothing, and then invite us to go with them to the mountains? This adventure was a wonderful reward after again dealing with mechanical difficulties in a very polluted, manky*, sludge-filled lagoon we are calling home. David is again the hero, pondering and pragmatically solving the solenoid problem. He is amazing. Enough of this chatting about friendly warm people, eating food, finding new places to go! I know it is the same ol' same ol'. It still was a very delightful day in paradise, and I´m lucky to be alive. We leave on Tuesday so we´ll talk once more before we leave. We´ll send some pics tomorrow. Bye for now, Suzi

*Manky. M-A-N-K-Y. Not monkey - manky! It's a regional usage. I've heard it in various parts of the north of England and up in Scotland too. It has a whole range of meanings. When you hear somebody say 'my torch is all manky', it means it's not working properly, it's worthless, it's defective, it's a bit inferior. And then, I've heard people say 'oh, he's got manky socks' or 'that baby's nappy is manky' and that means it's grimy or dirty, it might even be a bit smelly - that's another usage of the term - 'bananas are manky' or 'that dustbin is manky' - it means it's rotten, it's disgusting, it's got a smell of some kind. And it generalizes from there, too, into personal feelings - if you're feeling under the weather for instance, in some parts of the country, you can say . . . 'I feel manky today'. And then up in Scotland especially, it's used quite nastily, as a term of abuse - . . . somebody might say 'you manky so and so', that's really quite harsh.
-From a BBC site dedicated to "Keeping your English up to date"
(As a result of hanging out with Richard and Virginia, Suzi is apparently now speaking British.)

David's Thoughts on Boats & Marriage

Suzi and I spent the better part of five years getting Sidewinder ready for this trip, and I really thought she was "shipshape," but how wrong I was! So far everything we had repaired, replaced or created has functioned trouble free, but some of the older systems and parts, the ones we took for granted, have reared their ugly heads and shown their age. This has made us become jacks of all trades, and believe me when I say the learning curve has been a long one. However, even though this learning process has been hard, with bleeding knuckles and oil stained clothes, it has also been rewarding. We have become mechanics!

Don't get me wrong: we sure wouldn't make much money at it, but we have been able to blunder through a few challenges lately that have ended well and kept us heading down this adventurous road. We have learned how to remove and replace flywheels, bell housings and power plates. We have removed starters and solenoids and learned how to test them for their proper functions. We have removed and replaced fuel lift pumps and bled the multiple parts of the fuel system, ridding them of air locks. We have become a team, chief mechanic and assistant, with the assistant in this case being more vocal and opinionated than is normally the case.

This relationship has been rocky at times: male egos are hard to overcome in the world of wrenches, and mine is probably larger than most. But after seeing women's logic pay off a few times, even I have opened my ears to suggestions, and damn if they didn't turn out to be good ones. So along with increasing our knowledge of Sidewinder's working parts and feeling better about being able to keep her systems working, we have added another aspect to our relationship and the respect for each other that comes with it. I know there will be additional dilemmas to tackle down the road, but I sure feel better about our chances of dealing with them.

Recently Kris suggested I practice more love during these crises, and she was right. As an old jock I get pissed off at adversity; if things get shitty, I get shittier. (You know the saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going.") That philosophy may work if you are breaking up a concrete wall, but if you are trying to re-install a raw water filter with your wife as your helper, it doesn't work all that well. So just as Suzi's mechanical knowledge has grown, so has my knowledge of how to work harmoniously with my soul mate. And that's the whole key: keeping it all in perspective. Smiles should be the order of the day even if it's hot down in that engine compartment and your leg is cramping up from being forced to bend ways it wasn't designed to, smiles and anything else that can lessen the intensity of the moment, because after all, this is supposed to be fun. Now if only I can remember all this .......