Jan/Feb 2009 Letter

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March 1, 2009

We have returned to Barcelona after being in Southern California for over two months.  It was wonderful to be home for the holidays and get to spend time with our loved ones.  

Now we are back on the boat and dealing with all the little 'issues' of getting Aquila back in ship shape.  During our absence, the refrigerator warmed up (pew), the engine battery died, and a serious windstorm bashed our stern into the cement dock.  Fortunately, the stern damage was very minor; only a scratched surface on the stainless steel band at the bottom of the swim step, and a crimp in the stainless steel which may prevent our swim ladder from being lowered.  We'll have to figure out how to get that straightened before summer.  We are getting estimates for a new battery, and the refrigerator repairman is scheduled to arrive tomorrow.  We also have a diver cleaning the bottom of the boat now.  I can't believe this guy is free diving without a wet suit in this freezing cold water in the marina!  After sitting in a marina all winter, we wouldn't consider leaving without having the prop, shaft and thru hulls scraped.  The growth that accumulates on the prop and rudder can seriously hinder the boat's maneuverability.

When we left here in mid-December, we stopped in Madrid for several days on our way to California.  We kind of enjoyed touring Madrid as it was decorated for the Holidays, but we were just so darned cold.  It didn't help that it rained and sleeted while we were there.  I also think we were so excited to be going to California that we just wanted to get home, see our family, and get warm.  For whatever reason, Madrid did not leave much of an impression on us.  Barcelona is a much more exciting place to be in Spain.

As luck would have it, California was experiencing a cold snap when we arrived.  What?!  I couldn't believe it!  It was freezing!  Soon, Southern California returned to the weather we love and expect.  It was such fun seeing how much the grandchildren have grown and changed in the 8 months since we last saw them.  We got to attend their sports events, school programs, and award ceremonies.  This was our first meeting with our new grandson, Brady who was born last June.  What a precious little cutie he is!  'Little' is probably not the right word to use for him.  He is so big!  He already had 5 teeth and could crawl and stand up at 6 months old.  With those big blue eyes and that dimple, he's a knock-out.

We jammed in as much activity as we could; family gatherings, parties with friends, eating at our favorite restaurants, shopping for the things we can only find in the U.S., and various doctors' appointments.  Oh yes, the dreaded dermatologist check-up.  Sure enough, that odd little red spot on my face turned out to be basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer).  Surgery was required and our flights back to Barcelona put on hold.

The good news was that we got to spend 5 more weeks with the kids.  The bad news was that I would now have a long scar down the front of my face!  I was scheduled for Mohs Surgery, which is a specialized type of surgery enabling the least amount of healthy tissue to be removed.  It is typically recommended for facial surgeries where you want absolutely the least amount of tissue removed.  It still turned out to be bigger than they originally expected.  I ended up with 25 stitches.  I'd post a picture, but I'm afraid people would think that is morbid or gross.  Now I'm like an old person who wants to talk about all their surgeries and show all their scars!  I'll fight the urge.  Just like I fight the urge to talk endlessly about my grandkids.  What?  You think I don't fight that urge very well?  I could have itemized the sports events, school programs, and award ceremonies (and I wanted to).  Instead, I just made that one sentence!

Now we are back in Spain.  We want to give a special thank you to Matt and Beth Baker for letting us drive their Suburban the entire time we were in California.  We are very grateful for your generosity.  Also, the dinner party at your beautiful home was a blast.  Thanks for having all of us over.  And a warm and snuggly thank you to Sally Ziegeler for the beautiful homemade blankets.  You're a lifesaver!

We're getting back into our Barcelona lifestyle.  We attended a fantastic guitar concert and also a Tango concert.  We take long walks through the winding alleys and along the beach boardwalk.  We shop at the open air markets and eat at the little cafes.  We sleep in and stay up late.  Our friends Frank and Patty from Tortola are coming to visit next week.  We have a zillion things planned, so next month's update will be filled with pictures of many new places.

(Click here for this month's Photo Album)


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