Monday, December 30, 2013

Scintillating items in my life

Well it’s not the new year, so I’m not making any resolutions. Yet. Maybe not at all. But I am getting more excited about our cruises coming up. I’ve been reading on Cruise Critic all about various river cruises that are, more or less, going from Bucharest to Amsterdam. It’s especially cool to see my daughter posting on the same sites that I am posting. She has pointed me to an interesting site that has maps of all the cities we’ll be visiting. I’ve already downloaded it to my phone (Android, but it’s available for iPhones as well).

So that got my travel juices flowing again! So I’m thinking about the ocean cruise as well and have set myself a goal of going through all the posts on our ocean cruise on Cruise Critic and making a list of the tours being offered. Right now there are so many that I’m getting confused, especially since another person is offering the same tour that I am!

Meanwhile life goes on for me and it’s difficult to find time to do all the fun things I want to do vis-à-vis our cruises while doing all the other things in my life:

  •          preparing a sit-down dinner for 16 on New Year’s Eve
  •          teaching a CPR class
  •          presenting a Living With Urban Wildlife program
  •          designing a powerpoint presentation for early in February
  •          getting out the newsletter Symbiosis in early January and early April (that HAS to be done by April 1 since we’re leaving the house on April 5!)
  •          and the ordinary stuff like dinner every night
  •          surfing the internet for interesting stuff for our cruises

How on earth did Randy and I ever find time to work and raise a family? We’re RETIRED and seemingly haven’t enough time to do everything we want to do!

This ISN’T a resolution, but I am really, really going to try to find time to write about my preparations for the cruises and other scintillating items in my life on a regular basis, MAYBE every week?

As an aside: I just noticed that I have almost as many views for New Zealand as I do from the US! (see the little flag counter to the right) I have no idea why that is, but since I love New Zealand (and Australia!), I'm glad I have at least a few viewers from there!

97 days until we leave for Fort Lauderdale! Whoopee!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Musing on cruising…

Why isn't it Muising on Cruising? But I digress.

By this many months before our last—uh, make that most recent—cruise, in 2012, I had already organized a couple of tours and the rollcall on had about 400 messages. This roll call (you’ll have to become/be a member, but it’s free and I’ve never gotten any junk from them) only has about 75 messages so far and we’re about four and a half months out!

Nonetheless, I’m excited about this cruise. But then, cruises are what we get excited about! All those new cities and experiences and we only have to pack and unpack once per cruise. Heaven! And we are waited on hand and foot.

Aside: (friends know that I am easily distracted and almost infinitely curious, hence, I often have several asides in my blogs) Where does the expression “wait on hand and foot” come from? I’m still a bit of a Luddite in that my first thought is to go to some of my books (yes, I still have reference books), such as Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins and Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable but neither of them seems to care a whit about being waited on hand and foot so I had to go online. The best of the websites seems to be the StackExchange which explains it thusly: “So far from my research, this seems to be the basic idea; that a person being "waited on hand and foot" has handmaids and footmen (or their equivalents) to perform any manual labor the person would otherwise have to do on their own.
The term may have different but related origins; it could be related to a similar term viewed from the other side, that a person is at someone else's "beck and call", responding immediately to any gesture by the person being served. An extremely attentive servant or corps of same could respond not only to obvious hand gestures, but by more subtle movements of the feet.
Lastly, it's perfectly valid to think of it in the more modern sense of being pampered physically. To "wait on" someone or something is to be immediately available to answer any need. The term may thus have originally been "to wait on someone's hand and foot", thus meaning to have no other duty but to address any need of that hand and/or foot, be it heat, cold, an itch, or in more general terms responding to its every move including as a gesture having meaning. Over time the possessive may have been discarded.”

So, cruising allows us to just enjoy and not have to worry about laundry, doing the dishes, cleaning up after a party, or much of anything except getting to the next activity. So decadent. And yet there actually are people (gasp!) who think cruising is supremely boring. I might agree with them during our first seven days on the ocean cruise when we spent the time merely (!) crossing the Atlantic. Seven days with nothing to do but
·      get a suntan by the pool (well, it IS the North Atlantic, we probably won’t be spending a lot of time by the pool)
·      play bridge (there will be a bridge teacher on board and there will be much time devoted to bridge)
·      go to cooking classes (there is a dedicated kitchen on board just for cooking lessons)
·      party (we’ll be in a suite; see above on cleaning up!)
·      look at the art on board (Holland America has world-class art on board each of their ships and some ships have $2,000,000 worth of said art; they even have a curator who gives tours)
·      gamble (well, we don’t gamble so that probably won’t be on our short list of stuff to do)
·      watch movies (there is a large movie theater on board)
·      laugh, sing-along, and enjoy the various performers that perform every night on board
·      learn to knit, crochet, use Photoshop, draw, paint, etc. (most classes are free)

We won’t be bored, I can assure you. And within one day Randy will have trained the bartenders on how to make the perfect martini (stirred, not shaken [sorry, James Bond] and with just a whisper of vermouth and a single pimiento-stuffed olive).

Oh, yes, and today is our daughter’s birthday! She was born at the Bangkok Nursing Home (a luxurious place to have a baby!) an unspecified number of years ago, in Bangkok, Thailand. Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spanish? again? But I’ll have to learn to say Bar-thuh-LONE-uh…

I’m getting behind on my blogging! As I wrote, our next trip is a cruise across the Atlantic on Holland America. It will take 27 nights and 16 ports and culminate in an orgy of Spanish ports. Of all the ports, there only two that we have been to before this trip, Barcelona and Lisbon (where we got ourselves hilariously lost with three other couples and GoCars; read all about it , not counting Fort Lauderdale and Dover, the ports where we embark/disembark.
So, yet again, we are trying to practice our Spanish but I’m sure the Spaniards will fall on the ground in hysterics, especially since we will be speaking not only very halting Spanish, but Mexican Spanish not Castillian Spanish. About all I know of Castillian Spanish is the the ‘s’/soft ‘c’ are sounded like ‘th’ so Barcelona becomes Bar-thuh-LONE-uh. Spanish is a very musical language; we’ll just be sounding a bit off-key!

The best part of the river cruise is that our children and their spouses will join that trip in Vienna (and 2/3 of us will see the Lipizanner horses at the Spanish Riding School). I’m not at all sure what we will do for the fourFOUR!days we will stay in Vienna. Luckily, the River Princess includes several tours at each stop in the cost of the trip. How nice is that!

It’s still 168 days until departure and yet I am going into full-blown, what-will-we-do-in-[fill in the city name] and what will I wear when we’re there. One thing we did on our world cruise last year was overpack. I will NOT overpack. I have to repeat that: I will NOT overpack. That resolution is helped immensely by the fact that even though we are flying first class from London to Istanbul, Turkish Air only gives you one, count ‘em, ONE free checked bag. So Randy and I have resolved that we will not take the seven (yes, I’m embarrassed to say, SEVEN) bags we took last year. We will take one checked bag and one carry-on bag. Each. It will make life so much easier!

Soon I will start thinking about perhaps, maybe, possibly, shopping for ? Clothes? Camera equipment? A new computer to take with us? That’s aside from the computer I will probably have to buy for Randy as his is having more and more BSODs (blue screens of deathall you Apple people can just shut up. I KNOW you don’t have those things. And nobody hacks an Apple. Etc, etc, etc. I’m a PC person and shall always be a PC person. So there.

So, off to peruse the internet to find tours and clothes and cameras and computers. And, oh yes, a new Corvette! Red, of course.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The hows of air travel…

A couple of days ago we did our aerobic exercise by walking up hill and down dale in downtown Seattle. Actually we walked down Pike and up Seneca and boy, was it indeed way down to the waterfront, including a stroll down the Pike Hill Climb—there actually was a sign!—all the way to the harbor and then back up. The hotel valet warned us not to go downhill, but we ignored his advice. Got our 10,000 steps!

Today we managed to fritter away the whole morning in Seattle by doing…well, we don’t exactly know what we did, but pretty soon it was 11am and we needed to get to the Hotel Deca (our home for the next 7 nights) so we could catch the tour that the Renaissance Hotel set up for us to Boeing (Paine Field). As in airplanes, as in “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”

Somehow the brochure about the tour made us feel as if we needed to have this escorted tour if we wanted to see how Boeing makes its airplanes. We didn’t and we could have saved ourselves a bunch of money if we just drove ourselves to Paine Field, but then we wouldn’t have had the experience of riding a bus as the only passengers with a very entertaining man (Greg) doing a lot of talking on our way up and back to Everett, WA (the home of Paine Field and the construction of 747s, 767s, 777s, and 787s). We learned a lot of very forgettable stuff—but very interesting, forgettable stuff!—about Bill Boeing on our way up to Everett. And the driver learned that a 247 is NOT a pressurized airplane. He’ll probably forget that.

The tour itself was absolutely fascinating! We have no pictures because we were not allowed to bring a purse, backpack, fannypack (for any Aussie or Kiwi readers, that’s not a bad word, it’s a bum bag) anything electronic or mechanical with us on the tour unless, as Greg-our-guide said, it ran our pacemakers or opened our car. So, off to the (for a dollar) lockers.

We watched a short movie, the quality of which rivaled the best Hollywood production (if that production was only six minutes long, that is) then out to the busses for the fairly short drive past the DreamLifter and dozens of 7xx airplanes in various states of paintedness to The Building. I call it The Building because it is just so BIG! Actually it is the largest (by volume) building in the world; Greg-the-guide said it could hold five Empire State buildings, or two and a half pentagons, or the whole of Disneyland Anaheim and still have 12 acres left over for covered parking.

We watched 747s, 777s, and 787s being built, the 787s on a moving assembly line. Pretty cool!