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I am not sure what the thing is with me and bones.  Maybe I’m so fascinated with them because my own are so far from view.  You could see my brother’s bones growing up and I bet he would like to see them again now that we’re a wee bit older.  Mine were never even close to the surface.  No knobby knees, no swooping collar bones, no dangerous elbows. Totally padded from the get go.   I wasn’t even thin when I was broke.   I mention it because one of the questions in the grandparents book was were you ever in financial distress.

Oh yes we were.   I have to say we, because my two boys lived it with me.  I divorced an alcoholic who had even more ominous issues which I won’t go into here, but in any case, both my boys were in diapers and my LPN wages weren’t even enough to cover daycare at the time, and this was not a scenario where there was going to be joint custody, visitation, although we did get fifty dollars every month social services could track him down,  when he got out of jail.

I leaned very hard on all of the social services that were available to help us get through.  There was a wonderful counselor.  There was a support group of other women and I remember them all so fondly.  I still feel bad about getting tears and snot in one girls long blond hair in one particular meet up.  We used food stamps, we stood in line at the food bank.  We knew the bus drivers names and they were like family.  We got packages from volunteer organizations at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  My family was compassionate and we even lived in my brother’s basement for nearly a year, when I started taking college courses.

We actually have some dear memories of that time, and are likely much closer to his sweet family than we otherwise might be.  We called the basement “downtown” and had story time together, often with tea and sometimes with food related to the story.   Eventually, when the kids were a bit older, I started back to work with the gentle encouragement of my brother’s wife, who knew I could do it because they were raising four kids and took turns putting themselves through college.

Back to the bones….the bones in the photos are from our diving expedition to Carmen Island two days ago.   Another question from “The Grandparents Book” is what activities do you and your husband like to do together.  We both really enjoy diving and plan on doing as much as we can till we can’t.  I almost thought I was at can’t my first dive two weeks ago, which I had to abort.   Lots of heavy gear because the water is actually pretty chilly here.  Heavy gear to keep warm means you need more weights.  It was really choppy out and we had a great rollercoaster boat ride but when I got in the water I didn’t seem to have enough weight to go down, and the divemaster was tending to R’s weight adjustments while I, for some reason seemed to be having trouble staying afloat at the choppy surface.  I wasn’t sure what all was going on but I had so much anxiety that I asked them to put the ladder down on the boat and got out.   Come to find out there was an “0” ring missing in my BC (my floaty vest that the big tank goes in) and it wasn’t holding air, so it was a really good thing I didn’t get down because I might have gotten into trouble trying to get UP again! (actually, in such a case, you dump all your weights and just swim up, but you really don’t want to be in that position.)

This last dive was much better, I wore lighter gear, my weights were perfect and my BC had been repaired.  And the surface was nice and smooth.  It started out with a big surprise when we’d barely left the harbor;  A beautiful baby whale shark, colorfully spotted,  but still pretty impressive.  They don’t eat people, or anything big at all, but still have amazingly big mouths.   At full size, they are the biggest of the sea mammals.  R and I rushed to get our snorkels and fins on and they let us slip quietly over the edge to get close to it for a few moments.

Later, at the first dive site, there were three foot long parrot colored parrot fish chomping with their smiley white teeth on the white coral.  The dive master, Oscar wanted to show us black coral (more bones) which were, when alive, an amazing safety green color.  Zebra fish,  Big groupers,  lunch plate sized scallops masterfully disguised with the neighborhood seaweed.  Sea cucumbers, which when held to the sun sprout delicate brightly colored tentacles on one end, something I’d never seen.

I must say however, I think we enjoyed the geography and findings on the Island just as much as the dive.  Sandstone with imbedded fist sized rocks of red and blue and green and yellow.   Pastel walls leaning high out of the sea, like a subdued rainbow.   Limestone icebergs, limestone bones, like house sized vertebrae.  Abandoned salt mines with houses made of coral, abandoned church with bell intact, school house with a door decorated with rock and coral.  A beach as white and soft as the pillow on your bed.   Another  beach of the tiniest smoothest dark pebbles, graduating to uniform palm sized rocks colored like brick and olivine and pottery yellow, glamorous under the glasslike water.  And beautifully sculpted bleached bones; the hardware, the essence ( I feel it in my bones) the revelation of creaturely identity, scattered all around, unburied, sunning themselves still;  smiling pufferfish,  a snakeskin belt, without the skin,  a Monster which was actually a Morey Eel in it’s youth, a hammer head shark who’d lost his head over SOMETHING and never recovered it.   Just left it on the beach, hoping it would relax and come back when it felt better perhaps.

We couldn’t help but take photographs.   I hope they weren’t embarrassed to be caught in such a state of undress, but I really think they are beautiful.



    • Thanks so much for your note Shari! We just got back across the border at Tecate today. Our trailer hitch broke before we crossed the border which will make for a good story, but just now it is a rum and my first unsalted bath in several days! Miss you very much.


  1. I started following your blog kind of late, but I’m looking forward to catching up. Just got your snail mail today. Thanks! I’ll send you a catching up email soon.



    • So glad to hear from you. Relieved actually. We just got to USA today. Trailer hitch broke in Tecate. Will make a good story, but right now there is rum involved and my first unsalted bath in several days!


  2. Gorgeous, poetic writing, Julie. I feel like I’m right there when you describe the moment, whats’s in front of you, what you’re feeling. The photos are amazing, too. The one of the coral school house (or church?) reminds me of a village on one of the Penghu islands in Taiwan that’s made out of local coral, too. So innovative. Keep these photos for your memoir, love.


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