Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sailor Attacked in Fiji
By Michael

Unfortunately, I just learned that a fellow cruiser, a singlehander, was recently attacked with knives aboard his boat at anchor in Suva, Fiji, about 200 miles south of where Del Viento is now (in Savusavu). Here is a link to the story and a way to donate some money to help with his medical bills:

I don't know Jim Van Cleve (Kalokalo) well; we saw him around Savusavu while we were there and talked to him briefly several times, but my friend Meri (Hotspur) does know Jim well and she set up the site (5 hours ago, as I publish this) to aid him. Please donate if you're inclined.

It's the kind of news I hate hearing, especially because it feeds the misperception that stems from our 24/7, "if it bleeds, it leads" media, the misperception that the world is such a dangerous place that you're only safe parked in front of your TV watching everyone else get robbed, blown-up, assaulted, and raped. But the truth is that while I feel generally safer in the places we've spent time cruising than I generally feel in the U.S. (and my friend Behan just touched on this), crime happens everywhere, to varying degrees.

Jim Van Cleve

Monday, January 23, 2017

Marching Two By Two
By Michael

Eleanor with her sign. She was inspired
by someone she saw online. Her sign
says, "This is not about politics, it's
about basic human decency. --Michelle Obama"
Living on our sailboat in another country, our lives are intertwined with people—both on land and aboard other boats—who live, sound, and think very differently than our family, friends, and peers back home. It’s perhaps the most stimulating aspect of being abroad. After years of living this way, the view back home changes as our personal perspectives evolve.

Funny thing is, the view is similar from here in Ajo. I mean that we are literally on the frontier, in the middle of nowhere, in a sea of desert on the perimeter of the continental U.S. We can pick up only one radio signal: 96.1, Tucson’s Real Classic Rock. Ajo feels a bit like a mirage, something unknown, unvisited, and untouched—for good and for bad—by the rest of the country. In many ways, being in Ajo feels like we’re no closer to home than Fiji.

Yet, the day after our new president took the oath of office, Ajo seemed connected to hundreds of other cities around the U.S. that marched to broadcast support for the things they fear might be marginalized by the new administration.

Eleanor and Frances we’re revved up to march and Windy is in San Francisco through the end of the month, so I took them down to our beautiful plaza so our three faces could join just over 200 others in a sign-waving walk through town.

It was a good time under clear skies, as the photos and video below make clear. Only one thing was peculiar.

Ajo has a pretty diverse populous, both racially and socio-economically. According to the U.S. Census, of a population of roughly 3,800 people, 1,500 are white, 1,500 are Latino, and 800 are American Indian. Yet Saturday’s march didn’t reflect the diversity of Ajo’s population. And I think my girls may have been the only kids present.

From the plaza, the marchers headed up the street towards
our house.

I'm with her.

As an English major, I'm with her too.
People can do illegal things, but they
really can't be illegal.

Yeah, partisanship isn't very helpful.

That's what I tell my girls.


Top-notch entertainment in the plaza for the Ajo marchers.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Castle in the Sand
By Michael

Demolition Mama.
“It smells like poop.” One of the girls said this. These were among the first words uttered when we entered our 1931-built Ajo house. And it did, it smelled like poop. After tracing the smell to the ill-fitting toilet in the front bathroom, it was an easy fix. Nothing since has been easy.

Our house is a little gem that’s been neglected and futzed with. For decades nobody positively addressed exterior drainage issues and leaking roof issues, nor the resulting mold and termite issues. We’ve been gutting and gutting until we’re down to studs and siding and foundation.

And that’s where her gem-like qualities become apparent. The house has a nice layout and said studs and siding are (mostly) solid redwood. Because we’re nearly gutting the place, we feel free to move walls and relocate whole bathrooms to make the space work really well. It’s going to be a nice home, someday.

But there is so much still to do before we get on a plane and return to Del Viento, still afloat in Fiji. We’ve been tackling the back of the house and evidence points to a more challenging job when we get to the front. The slab foundation is only underneath the back half, probably added on in the 1950s. In the front half, we’re still walking on tile floors that feel spongy and think that the foundation is wood-on-dirt, we’ll see, we’ve been afraid to discover too much in that realm just yet. After all, we’re living (camping, really, camp stove and everything) in this place while we de-construct and construct, so there is a necessity to isolate the work areas (best we can) and eat this elephant in chunks.

It’s an adventure, and what we bargained for, and what we paid for. The biggest question when buying this house sight-unseen in a place we’d never been wasn’t whether we’d like the house, but whether we’d like this little community out in the middle of nowhere.

We like Ajo very much. It’s a charming oasis in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. It’s filled with interesting people and stepping outside our yard we always find a welcome respite from the drudgery of home renovation. I’ll write more about Ajo in my next post.


This room where I piled the bags of concrete is
the future master bath. We've big plans for this
relatively big space.

Windy is the Mold Abator. Here she is
scrubbing a Borax solution into studs.

This is the inside of a stripped room looking out,
through the hole created where I removed the
base plates, cut off some studs, and pried away siding.
This is what termite damage looks like.

This is St. Shaun, my brother-in-law (recall the truck guy)
on the roof re-attaching the live wires that feed the house.
This is the tail end of replacing the main panel. He's a
master electrician who drove out to work with us for
a week and get the electrical started. He's been knighted.

From the second bedroom looking up into the attic.
See me up there?

See the mold on the back of that drywall?
That is just a sample of what we've found.
Note the vines growing inside the walls.

Windy supervising a rock delivery for her landscape vision.
See that big agave in the foreground? I found it and another
at the dump. We planted them and they're doing great.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...