Axis Mundi. Our Mandala House

After weeks of creating the intricate pattern of a sand mandala, as a meditation on impermanence, the sand is brushed together and placed in a body of running water to spread the blessings of the mandala.

Today I have disturbed all the spiders in our house. Some got their long legs twisted beyond repair while I was reaching for the farthest corners. (Stumbling cripples, so fragile they are.)

The world’s point of beginning: a connection between Heaven and Earth where the four compass directions converge, a place that is sacred above all: our house, has been disturbed.

We are leaving our house forever. The house where a bird once entered trough the open window two years ago, frantically flapping her wings, terrified, creating commotion for a brief minute before finding the open window again. The house where, four years ago, we placed the two rocks we found at the two ends of the continent: one white and perfectly oval like a dinosaur egg from a beach somewhere near Halifax, the other black-red, scorched by the belly of the under-earth, we found somewhere in California. The house where Maya, purple, was born, nine years ago. The house where my father came after so many years and stayed for a night. Is no longer our house.

One by one, every object disappeared. Every object we have so carefully placed in its place. Other people are having dinner at our table tonight. Maybe mashed potatoes or soup made out of snails. Kids I have never met are sitting on our couch watching a film on our TV tonight. A man and a woman who were born in Alger will make love in our bed tonight and the night after.

Tonight, I am sad, so sad. I never thought it would be so painful all this leaving thing. Leaving everything almost, except a few clothes, a few books, a few board games, and a photo camera.

From now on, we will live on a boat, and the boat will be our new mandala.

The boat we named: Fata Morgana.

rock

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Marine Survey and Back

From Key West, FL to Montreal, QC the distance is about 1800 boring miles. Baba Ghanoush, cautious and focused as a mule, is capable of going at not more than 50 miles per hour, which means about four long days of driving through three different types of climates, going from tropical through moderate to continental.We have done this trip many times in the past aboard one of those commercial trucks, and so we don’t think it is a big deal. Plus, we have a stop in the middle.

In South Carolina, we detour from our rout to visit Brian and Joyce, our neighbors from Bois-des-Filion and good friends (the guys who helped us repair and clean Baba Ghanoush in October, and prepare for the trip), who are snowbirding in a nice three-bedroom-three-bathroom condo in Myrtle Beach. We spend there two days and nights, enjoying the condo and all its comforts, a walk on the beach, some discount shopping in OldNavy, and Joyce and Brian’s exquisite cuisine&company.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

We are now driving back north on Interstate 95, somewhere in New York state. The heater is on. The sky is the same color as the highway: dirty-grey. So are the leafless trees and the dead grass, and so is our mood. We are even starting to see patches of grey snow. The tiny transparent ants who descended from a tree somewhere in Jacksonville climbing aboard our RV in the beginning of this trip are nowhere to be found. Either they abandoned the premises knowing deep in their guts that we are heading towards below zero temperatures, or are presently hibernating in some cosy unknown to us place in Baba Ghanoushe’s old body.

Going back from Key West, Florida to Canada in the beginning of March sucks. It is like going back from summer trough fall into winter. But we have to return to Quebec and deal with our bank, our house, our stuff, and then go again to Key West by the end of the month to take possession of the boat, and basically, to move aboard.

Her name is B&B Adventure but that will change soon. She is a 2001 Robertson and Cane Leopard 38 owner’s version, which means, she is 38 feet catamaran and has three big cabins. Built in Cape Town, South Africa in 2001, these boats are heavy and stable, not as fast as other catamarans the same size, but very roomy and comfortable. Which is more important to us, as we are not going to race her, but live aboard, spend lots and lots of time in the galley and the salon, in the cabins and in the cockpit.

Haul-Out for Marine Survey

Haul-Out for Marine Survey

We did a marine survey and a sea trial in Key West a few days ago, and we have signed the acceptance papers. The survey showed a number of little things that need to be fixed, and a few bigger repairs, but nothing major or urgent (or that is what we are thinking right now, optimistically…). Still, my head hearts just thinking about what are we getting ourselves into… For sure, every (used) boat needs some taking care of; being a boat owner means also a permanent state of fixing, maintaining, and upgrading (or paying for it). But before the repairs, we need to worry about bank transfers, vessel registration, cruising permit, etc. So, Montreal, here we come!

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Maya’s Corner

I am so happy, I got a flute from a guy named Phil.  And I keep practicing but it is really hard and I loose my pacience. But I know with practice I will be an expert someday. Phil has at least a dozen flutes and he plays them at the beach at sunset. He has all kind of sizes and some very special ones. There is one made out of turquoise. Mine is wooden and has a bison on it and strings made out of bison skin. Phil lives in a very very big RV with his wife Margie in Turtle Beach. Thank you Phil!

Maya and Phil at sunset, Turtle Beach

Maya and Phil at sunset, Turtle Beach

Sometime ago I was on Skype with Anne-Sophie, a very good friend of mine from back home. I always call her Anne-Sou for short. She speaks French. Back home, we play a lot wii, we ride our bikes and we do sleepovers. Me and her together we have a huge imagination. I miss my old friends and Anne-Sou… I love meeting new people and making new friends, but the worst part is every time we meet new awesome people they go away like after three days or after e few hours, or we go away.

In Turtle Beach, Mia was my new best friend for a week. Me and her were always together. In the pool we were splashing, playing with balls in the water, it was so fun! The second day after we met we thought about a sleepover. So we asked her grandma, and she said yes, and my mom said yes too! So we rushed to our RV and we packed up my PetShops, Bubba, my teddy bear, and my swimsuit. We planned what we were going to do at the sleepover all the way back to her condo. There, we had popsicles and we went back to the pool. After, we played PetShops all day and a bit of the night. Mia always sleeps with crossed legs and she sleep-talks. It was so funny. We wake up, and first thing’s first, we play PetShops.

Maya and Mia

Maya and Mia

The last day before Mia left, our families got together for dinner and Mia and me made a performance: Clown Act, Goblin, Ballet, Shower, and Restaurant. It was funny.

A bad thing happened:

We were supposed to meet Bear Grylls at the Boat Show, but the stupid RV broke down so we couldn’t see him. It was going to be the best day of my life but it turned out to be the worst day of my life… And I am pretty upset to write about it because it reminds me.

The drawing Maya made for Bear Grylls. (It's him standing next to a volcano)

The drawing Maya made for Bear Grylls. (It’s him standing next to a volcano)

The message on back of the drawing.

The message on back of the drawing.

But every time something bad happens, something good happens too. If the RV haven’t broke down I would meet Bear Grylls, but I wouldn’t meet Jasmine. She is my other best friend for a few days. Nickname- Jazz. She made me dice nail polish, white with black dots, and glitter nail polish on my toes, rainbow color. We watched movies together. Once we watched a really scary horror movie, so scary I almost peed my pants.

Jasmine and Maya

Jasmine and Maya

Dice&rainbow nail polish designs by Jasmine.

Dice&rainbow nail polish designs by Jasmine.

Next subject:

Two dogs wrote to me. Their names are Joppe and Tango. I like Joppe because he is funny and he said he can pee when they tell him to. Tango is cool too, he likes eating and he even eats carrots. I really wished I had a dog too.

I sell pot holders $2 each and two for $3. And it is $2 minimum, which means you can give $3 or $4 or more if you want to, but I am not forcing you. I don’t buy them, I make them out of my shirt sleeves and they can be pretty handy sometimes. I was thinking to buy me a skateboard with the money, but now I don’t know what will I buy, I am still thinking about it. I only sold one for $2 so far. I also found lots of seashells at the beach and I was thinking to start selling them too.

Maya's Pot Holders

Maya’s Pot Holders

When i am pretty bored I go swinging for like half an hour or more and I also sing when I swing. I sing about what will happen in my life or what already happened, or what I’d like to happen.

I love traveling. I loved the Everglades. It is fun to see all the trees and gators, it’s so cool.

I also like when my dad makes freshly squeezed orange juice. My dad is my favorite member of the family, he takes good care of us.

My favorite guest from the trip is Mia and this guy named Ray. He is awesome! He brings us lots of pizza and he has amazing stories. Once, when he was 17, he needed to go to California with an airplane but he ended up in Spain instead! It is a long story but a good one. He gave me awesome cookies! I gave him one of my pot holders.

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2013 Miami Boat Show

The Miami Boat Show is considered also The Greatest Boat Show in the World. For five days over 3,000 boats and 2,000 exhibitors from all over the globe can be visited on three locations in Miami Downtown and Miami Beach. It is truly overwhelming. The show features not only boats and marine products, but also seminars and special events.

Catamarans at 2013 Miami Boat Show

Catamarans at 2013 Miami Boat Show

We hoped to be able to go the first day, Thursday, February 14, and meet Bear Grylls at the Convention Center promoting life rafts. He is Viktor and Maya’s Number One Hero, Ivo’s as well (and I worship him too, I have to admit). We have all his shows and when we have nothing to do, and when we have electricity, we watch them over and over again. So when we learned he will be there the first day, we were so excited, and Maya prepared a drawing and a hug for him. But, alas, our RV broke down and we couldn’t meet Bear… Maya cried…

Here Bear Grylls was standing just a couple of days ago...

Here Bear Grylls was standing just a couple of days ago…

We had to deal with Baba Ghanoush the next three days, so we were only able to go to the Boat Show on Sunday and Monday, the last two days. We spent our time mostly in the Strictly Sail section, visiting all the catamarans, from 34 to 82 feet! Each time we had to deal with a broker trying to sell us a boat. It was exhausting, I don’t know if I will survive another Boat Show…

Catamaran Interior (a big catamaran, over 60 feet)

Catamaran Interior (a big catamaran, over 60 feet)

Down bellow, one of four cabins.

Down below, one of four cabins.

Besides visiting boats, we also bought three books on cruising, catamarans, and galley secrets, and we we went sailing on a 2012 Leopard 4800 for two hours, after the end of the show.

Getting valuable books and advise from Corinne C. Kanter, 15 years cooking aboard a catamaran!

Getting valuable books and advise from Corinne C. Kanter, 15 years cooking aboard a catamaran!

Oh, and we also met the broker for a 2001 Leopard 38 Catamaran we are interested in, and we got ourselves an accepted offer and a signed contract! Next week: marine survey, and sea trial. If all goes well, we will have a boat by the end of March.

Sailing on a 2012 Leopard 4800. Lots of wind and waves- fantastic!

Sailing on a 2012 Leopard 4800. Lots of wind and waves- fantastic!

Ivo steering the Cat, shining with happiness...

Ivo steering the Cat, shining with happiness…

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Mi Casa Su Casa

We leave Turtle Beach, direction: Miami Boat Show 2013, right?

We get to South Beach February 13th around 7 p.m. and our old RV (Baba Ghanoush) stops in the middle of Michigan Avenue, not far from the Convention Center (where the boat show will start the next morning), coughs, gasps, and, without any particular reason, dies. We push her large lifeless body away from the middle of the street to the side, in front of a fire plug (the only free parking spot near by). We sleep there, with one eye open, waiting for the police or the parking enforcement guys to show up any minute. Plus, it is humid and hot as hell, it’s South Florida…

The next day, still no parking ticket, the manager of the near-by building complex passes by and we tell him about our misfortune. We tell him not more than a few confused hurried words, trying to explain that we don’t want to take the parking space in front of his buildings, but we are kind of stuck. And than the most surprising thing happens: the manager, Azael, who doesn’t know anything about us except that we have two kids with us, invites us to take shower, use the laundry and even sleep in one of the vacant apartments of the building, furnished, luxurious, with two big bedrooms. For the first time in almost four months we sleep in normal beds! For the first time in almost four months we take showers in a private bathroom, and not in the beach, marina, campground, or sailing school public showers! For the first time in almost four months we have a private clean toilet, and we don’t have to run to the park, Walmart, or any other public restroom! And running water, and electricity, and a laundry machine! All those things people usually don’t even think about, made us so happy. We stay there for three days.

After three days and a few unsuccessful attempts to fix the RV problem ourselves, Baba Ghanoush gets transported to a service center by a tow-truck for $350. It’s Saturday, the service center is closed on Sunday and we have to wait until Monday or maybe Tuesday before we will see her again, running. So we are homeless again.

We go back to the apartment for two more days, before our Baba Ghanoush is finally resuscitated, for a total of $1, 035.

Bad things are always sudden and unpredictable and tend to occur in the worst of moments. But thanks to our RV’s little fit, we got to meet Azael, his beautiful wife Sonia, and their three kids, Shaun, Jasmine, and Kevin, who thought us a lesson of kindness and humanity.

And the boat show?

Well, that’s another story.

Azael and Sonya

Azael and Sonia

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Morning. Routines. Our Life in the City Park. Part 3

Our Saint Petersburg mornings in the park are filled with little routines. They begin very early with other people’s little routines which wake us up. You see, we don’t sleep in a campground like any normal tourist family with a motor home, but in a city park next to a swimming pool, the only free place we found where overnight parking is not forbidden. Early swimmers come here around 5:30 and inevitably start splashing and cheering next to our sleeping Baba Ghanouche. She wakes up reluctantly, shakes the morning dew and the little yellow seeds brought by night birds off her back, and gracefully drifts through the quiet purple city towards her daytime spot at Demens Landing Park, about a mile away. This is all the distance she traverses back and forth in a day lately.

Lotus and Hibiscus(a fictional physically impossible morning exercise)

Lotus and Hibiscus
(a fictional physically impossible morning exercise)

There I make myself a coffee and watch another sun slowly emerging from the sea. Viktor and Maya are still sleeping or just about to wake up and ask for breakfast. Maya tells me the ending of her dream, she never remembers the beginnings.
A bird made a wish and Jackie turned into a bird. I ate one popcorn, only one, and blew on a dandelion. She became Jackie again. She was crying and she gave me a hug.
Jackie is a new friend but a truly good friend, especially to Maya. We will miss her one day when we leave…
Ivo is already near the piers exercising. Ringo the cat is keeping him company. Soon I join them as well. We believe that physical exercising in the morning is a good way to start the day.

Lotus and HibiscusReincarnated

Lotus and Hibiscus
Reincarnated

The January breeze caries smells and sounds of seas and palm leafs. The air is already hot but fresh. Back in Canada, it is snowing for sure…

One would think that besides the occasional jogger or an early dog walker, there is not a living soul in the park. But it isn’t so. Saint Petersburg is invaded by hyperactive skinny squirrels and they proliferate in high concentration here in Demens Landing. The last squirrel census for this park alone came up with a number in the thousands, but since then they have surely multiplied. Squirrels have babies 6 times a year! And with tender dedication they teach their young the same bad manners. Thus, the savage traditions of trash cans scavenging for leftover french fries, of stealing the peanut butter  and jelly sandwiches from absentminded picnickers, of fiercely chasing each other up and down the palm trees emitting peculiar heartbreaking cries, are inevitably passed down the generations.
After we finish jogging and exercising, I find a 20 dollar bill all wet from the night, stuck on the wooden pier. I enjoy finding it, although I am also sadly conscious of the fact that as soon as I find it, I start loosing it, cent by cent, the same way we loose everything else that we ever find, including friends.
Next, we go back to the motor home dodging hysterical squirrels on the way, and prepare for sailing.

Ringo arrives

Ringo arrives

RingoReads about catamarans and drinks coffee

Ringo
Reads about catamarans and drinks coffee

RingoPurring

Ringo
Purring

I can do two pull-ups! It is tough being tough

I can do two pull ups!                                                                                                                                                                                                   This is a good exercise for the arms, chest and back

This one is for the back and shoulders

Hanging with arms spread.                                                                                                                                                                             This one is a good exercise for the back and shoulders

A morning egret on the rocks near the pier in Demens Landing.

A morning egret on the rocks near the pier in Demens Landing.

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