last day alone

March 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

For my birthday this year, I spent two weeks traveling with my parents on their first trip to Central America, went on a site visit to repair a septic system for a US-built former radio tower in the jungle, tagged along with a visiting friend to a phenomenal tropical-design home in the mountains, got repeatedly lost in the confounding elevators of the building formerly known as Trump Ocean Club, checked in with the Panama chapter of the #PrattMafia, did a self-directed windshield tour of the Areas Revertidas, bumped into a friend I had not seen in six years while hiking up a trail alone, touched up the paint on the boat, received (affordable) medical care for a parasite that had taken up residence in my foot, sent out my first Spanish-language CV, spent a day on Barro Colorado Island, jammed to Panamanian band playing Nirvana covers, went on a dinghy ride with the cat and heard kids calling out his name from the pueblo, got Rolfed, hung around the Smithsonian cafeteria eating soup like a spy scientist (a spyientist), dropped and did pushups any time I felt insecure, and had a deep conversation about the biblical precedent for ecological conservation at a private home in the neighborhood of Diablo. My husband went and did his own damn thing during this time (one month) which was the best birthday gift of all – the time and space I needed to do all this, which I did not know how badly I needed to do, but man did I ever.

I have never been married before, and I am fully grown. Sometimes I think I am already too set in my ways to successfully integrate my life with this whole entire other person’s life. But then our friends and family (in my opinion the whole point of a wedding at all is to send out the bat signal to everyone that you need their help with this thing going forward, in perpetuity) are generous enough to remind us that what we are doing (self-exile in a plastic bottle) is extreme. So relax already.

It’s wonderful to feel the wheel turn just one click. Happy birthday to me!

on expedition

December 19th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Jack, my 7 year-old nephew, recently asked us to help him clarify a challenging concept: “What is is like where you are?” His teacher had asked each student to inquire with a family member or friend who lives in a distant place about what winter is like where they are. Jack had to report back to his class with the data.

We received the question as we were suffering from cabin fever waiting out the very last rains of the monsoon, and so we sprang into action:

I recently wrote here that one of my hopes is to crew a research or expedition vessel. F asked me, “You have a boat. Why not make IT into a research or expedition vessel?” The science challenge from Jack solidified it. Word came back from the schoolyard that our reportage was well received. We nailed it.

We have (some) gear, we have adventure, and we have the means to document it. Suddenly every device has a potential magnification or recording capability. Does this fit with that? Can I waterproof it for submersion?

As I write, F is enjoying a solo meal of octopus. I can’t eat them, because even dead, they look like this:

If I had better bandwidth right now, I would post the video of how, even in death, the creature still has rippling colors running up and down its skin. For now, just look at that picture and shake your head around.

For a few days we had a tiny grasshopper on board, who was hanging around one spot by the window. Out came the microscope to inspect its mouthparts. In spanish, “mouthparts” are armadura bucal, lit. mouth armor.

I have some new devices! #photomicroscopy

A post shared by kate zidar (@plankton_every_day) on

I see it!

Even the documentation we already have is full of citizen science blurbs, and although he is an octopus eater, F has also become an ardent observer of “around the boat”, a place full of birds, fish, and sounds.

This reminds me that to wait any more or procrastinate is to just delay feeling great. Cheesy, I know, but I am saying it anyway. Now just isn’t the time to wait. Its time to hit the “extrude” button on that Ron Popeil Pasta Maker.

time capsule

November 8th, 2017 § 1 comment § permalink

We have the habit of making highly questionable decisions in November. Multiple times we have ended up offshore in the North Atlantic about this time of year…or later. This year, we are staying put in the tropics, fiddling around with the boat and exploring Panama by land and sea. Perhaps our decision-making is improving?

To honor this progress, I offer a short video of me keeping watch last November…

…in contrast with this photo of our current neighbor, Ms. Sloth.


I will leave it up to you, Dear Reader, to determine if we are headed in the right direction. I honestly can’t tell if this is the right way or what. For now I suppose the thing to do is make like a sloth and hang in there.