I do like my technology.  And even though I say that, it often seems to run amuck in my life.  This past week was a case in point.  Shortly after moving to Sol y Mar, I installed a webcam at the house.  As you probably already know, this was as much for my viewing whilst traveling, as it was for friends and family.  Well, as I have already written about in previous letters, the picture had gone all wonky a while ago.  I am pretty convinced that this was due to salt spray from the Mediterranean, and have tried to clean the lens repeatedly.  The end result was that the picture looked as if I was directing a movie starring Doris Day…a hazy, out of focus picture is an understatement for what I could see.  So, after contacting the lovely (sarcastic comment for sure) people at Panasonic, I broke down and bought a new camera.  If you are one of those who take a look once in a while, the webcam address is….

With that solution in hand, I began thinking about doing the same thing for Amélie.  Putting a webcam onboard a boat that is typically on a swinging mooring out in the middle of the harbour in Andratx was a bit more complicated.  I did find a solution, and through a friend of mine, bought a webcam that functions with a mobile phone SIM card.  I was in business, or so I thought.  After taking delivery of the camera-thingy, and looking at the installation instructions, I whimped out and asked my friend Graham to set it up for me.  He did so, and the other day I actually installed it onboard Amélie.  This part wasn’t all that difficult, except for the part about stringing 12VDC cables behind hidden panels and up to where the camera would be mounted.  With everything set, I turned the camera on.  My plan was to have it point toward the bow, so that if I was traveling, or even just at home, I would be able to view the weather environment the boat was in. The only minor glitch was that all the windows on Amélie have summer screens over them.  These screens – made of substantial white woven plastic – allow you to see out, but keep the summer sun at bay.  And as much as I had wanted the camera to ‘see’ through the forward screens and focus on the sea, the screens are a bit distracting.  So my revised plan is to simply remove one screen so the view is unobstructed.  Excellent solution, and the picture was crystal clear.  So after finishing all this installation work, I set the camera to ‘on’ position, and came home.  As you might imagine, the very first thing I did after returning to Sol y Mar was turn on my computer to play with my new technological tool.  I remembered the website, and entered it into my home computer.  I entered the ‘user name’ and ‘password,’  and waited for the picture to pop up on my screen.  What popped up was pitch black.  Hmmmm, that didn’t look right, so  I refreshed the picture, but again it was black.  And it was then I realised that I had put the camera lens cover on before leaving the boat.   Daft idiot.  Needless to say, the next day I was back on the boat and removed the lens cover. 

Don’t mis-understand me, I have been doing things that don’t require massive technology.  More scarves have arrived from Italy – a very good thing; and I have been cranking out new designs with a passion.  I still haven’t made the decision whether to make this project into a proper business, but that isn’t all that important quite yet.  Don’t worry…I will let you know once I know.

This week I am planning on moving Amélie back to Andratx.  Well, at least that is my plan.  I am still waiting to hear from the man who will put the mooring back in place in the harbour.  He was stranded in the UK due to the recent eruptions of the volcano near the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier (don’t even think about expecting a pronunciation guide from me for that city in Iceland) Shortly after the volcano went off, air travel in most of Europe was cancelled due to the ash floating around in the skies.  I can understand that nature is often chocker with surprises, but I do think it was rude for Mother Nature to kick that sucker off when I am waiting for Terry to fly back to Mallorca and re-set my mooring.  Buggers.  But with some luck, he should be back this week and Amélie will finally be back home.

Update:  It is May Day.  Yes, that’s right, the first day of May, and this can conjure up all sorts of images in one’s mind.  My mind always seems to fall into one of two pictures:  either an flower-filled alpine field, complete with a tall May pole that has ribbons wafting down from the top, and young children running about.  The other picture is a bit different, as it is the annual May Day parades from Eastern-block countries during the Cold War.  Rows upon rows of soldiers doing some precision goose-stepping along a wide boulevard followed by what appeared to be a never-ending stream of massive tanks and rockets showing the rest of the world how strong those countries were.  But today’s May Day images are different.  This May Day was the day that Amélie finally went back to her swinging mooring in Andratx, and even though it was dead overcast most of the way over, the sun came out as soon as she was moored…and I was smiling.

There have been some other non-technology-related things occurring lately here.  A good Welsh friend here on the island had asked me a couple of months ago if I was going to participate in this year’s Europa Day event.  I think I replied at the time that I would consider it, but didn’t know what he was even talking about.  Right…after a short verbal tutorial, I found out that Europa Day was a celebration of sorts on 9 May in Palmanova (a sea-side town not far from where I live).  There would be artisans of all types displaying their wares I was told.  So I contacted the event people and on Sunday did just that.  As the past couple of years at Sol y Mar have been rather creative for me, I didn’t have to worry if I would have enough things to bring.  After the DrJBR sorting and culling process, I ended up taking along some of the new pañuelos, some of the Cuadros Doblados I have been making, as well as a few of the aquarellas and pen-and-ink drawings I have made since coming to Sol y Mar.  My expectations weren’t high, as I assumed that Europa Day’s typical exhibit would be more like 3 candles for a euro instead of 200 euros for a scarf or 850 euros for a Cuadro Doblado; but I had thought that this would just be a fun day along the sea…which it was. 

More importantly than the fun, of course, was that the day was wildly successful.  The feedback that was received was extremely positive – “que chulo” was heard repeatedly (roughly, ‘how fab’). Some pretty great friends helped out, bringing all the Cuadros Doblados and panuelos to the site, staffing the La Antigua Design exhibit, and bringing everything back to my house after it was over.  Pacha, Cris, Richard, Kim, and Fernando’s help was very much appreciated. (note to myself…having two cars is great, but having two small cars and making large pictures doesn’t mix well.)  

There was a dark side to the day, however. Well, not so much ‘dark,’ but ‘big and pink.’   Throughout the day, Pacha and I were gobsmacked at the number of overly obese (if that is even possible) and sun-burned tourists that were strolling along in various states of undress.  Not a pretty sight.  Big and pink are mild adjectives for the state of much of the humanity we saw.  But we did desperately try to avoid making cheesy comments under our breath.  No really, we did try (but often failed miserably).  Overall a good end to a great week.


finally, the return of clarity


just a great archway over a local iglesia (church)


just a great yellow cala lilly


okay, so maybe I didn't NEED this, but....


one of the new arrivals from my Italian craftsmen


sound advice even today

(a British government poster from 1939)


the Studio at La Antigua road show


just enjoying the day

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley