Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Port day 2: St. Thomas

Port day 2: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

We were late to port this morning, wind and a late departure yesterday (people late back to boat) slowed the schedule down 2 hours. Lucky for us we had chosen a 1pm excursion so weren’t effected by the change.

Carm went up to the top to watch us come into port while Jo Ellen, Don and I watched from the comfort of our balcony. The air was warm and humid which nicely distracted us from thoughts of the impending December 1st with Christmas soon to follow.

A sort of light lunch was enjoyed at the buffet (I had some sort of sandwich and Carm had a Reuben) then it was off to our excursion.

The open air bus drove around like crazy, from one lookout to the next, each festooned with all sorts of touristy gift stands. The heat and humidity had us sweating like crazy, but you didn’t hear a word of complaint from any of us Canadians: we were happy to be out of the snow. It was a fun day (but not as much fun as yesterday), but I can’t say the excursion was wonderful. I suppose there just isn’t that much to see.

The bus dropped us off at the shops at the end of the pier and we made our way slowly back to the ship, stopping at a few shops looking for a pandora (like) charm for my braclet. I found one for $5. We almost got talked into a $200 bracelet, but I was strong. It was pretty though and I’ll probably regret not going for the ½ price deal.

We met up with Jo Ellen and Don on our balcony and enjoyed the view while we sipped wine. Can’t think of a nicer way to spend some time, especially on Nov 30th!

Supper, balcony, wander around downstairs, a great show (musical impersonator), drinks in the Piazza, back to balcony to watch the cast off, and here we are. Ready to do the fastest internet post - at $1 per minute there is no lingering!

1st port day: Amber Cove, DR

First port stop: Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic

I’m behind a day, I was so exhausted after a long day that I fell into bed and slept through ‘Batman vs Superman’.

The alarm clock had rung at 6am (yes, me, 6am) and we rushed out to see the docking. Oh my, this is going to be a this and that with not much interesting post. We saw the ship pull into port then grabbed breakfast at the buffet. We couldn’t dilly dally as we had to be at the exursion meeting spot at 8:10. As it turns out, we should have gotten there earlier as we were near the back of the bus, which required much waiting to get in and out at every stop.

The guide was informative, giving all sorts of information about the DR, but unfortunately I don’t remember a thing. Oh, the bus had wifi which is why I was able to do a quick post on FB and to touch base with Pat.

The first stop was the rum factory… two tastings later and we were on the bus for the next stop. The little shop (probably the guides friends or family) had lots of pretty larimar jewlery and I  got sucked into a necklace. We were treated to some kind of rum, wine and honey brew that was lovely and packed a punch. We were ready for the next spot.

The home of the man who liberated DR from the Spanish was interesting and full of history. I’m afraid I tend to tune out after a while and don’t remember a thing (did the 3 rum drinks have anything to do with this?) There was a tasting of coconut rum at the end of this tour. Please know that they aren’t pouring you a big shot, but only a sip or two!

Unfortunately it started raining when we got to the gardens of some person or other. I didn’t get any photos but there were some amazing orchids. We had a traditional DR lunch here, on the second story underneath some clear panels. It felt like we were in the tree tops and defineatly not at home.

We made it to a the ruins of a fort. We looked around a bit, but unfortunately I wiped out on the stairs going down from a tower and didn’t much feel like looking at anything else. While we were there we picked up another necklace of larimar.

Back at the ship we visited in Jo Ellen and Don’s cabin for a bit then went to the buffet for an early supper. Apparently the buffet has everything that is on the dining room menu, but we get to choose an assortment. Eating in the dining room was nice, but it is more convienient to go when we want.

We went early to the theater so that we could grab some good seats and was entertained by another great show. It is amazing that the dancers can do their thing on the rocking stage. We had a pretty good swell last night so the boat was rocking and rolling. I wondered if I might get nausous but was thankful not to.

And there we have it, a busy day with lots to see and do. The weather was so so: mostly cloudy with some showers. Where is the Caribbean blue sky?

oh, my tablet is not reading the card from my camera so no photos until we get home.


I feel like I am suspended in a void  where neither time nor space exist. I feel disconnect from everything. We spent much of yesterday (Monday), inside due to the wind, and even though we tried to find windows, the expanse of water around us made me feel like I was in a Dr. Who episode.

Not to say we didn’t have a lovely day - we did. Our morning was seperate from Jo Ellen and Don as we are later risers, so Carm and I had breakfast at the buffet alone. Not really alone as we were sitting next to Julie and Dave from St Louis. After a pleasent conversation, which did nip into politics (not Carm’s doing!), we wandered around the ship, checking out the exercise deck and doing some laps, Carm shot some hoops. Back down into the guts of the ship we stumbled on Don and Jo Ellen. They had snagged comfy sofas next to a window.

The day passed much like that, highlighted by a relax at Happy Hour, followed by a nap in our cabin. That brought us to the time to get dressed up in our fancy clothes for formal night. Carm looked dashing in his new suit, and I accompanied him in a well worn dress, and sporting cleavage.

We met up with Jo Ellen & Don downstairs in the Piazza to watch the champagne fountain. Waiters were circulating with glasses of champagne which I happily accepted. I’m sure my steps were weaving due to the rolling seas.

At our reservation time we were escorted into the restaurant to a table for two. As we were about to sit down Carm and I both said “oh, I was hoping we’d be sitting with other people”, at which point the two men beside us said “so were we”. We had a congenial evening, with just a quick deek into politics (again, not Carm’s doing).

And so it went. A lovely dinner in beautiful surroundings, excellent food and nice company. But wait, the day wasn’t over yet, the theatre was yet to come :-)  

You’ll have to excuse my blathering, it has been a long day and I’ll write about that tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2016

the love boat

It was a day of hurry up and wait. It started early (for us), with an alarm at 8am so that Carm could go to book our shuttle to the cruise port. I loitered in the shower until I finally made it out to meet everyone for breakfast.

Then the first wait… 2 hours till the shuttle and no where to go. We’d already walked the area the night before and it was no great hell - lots of traffic at high speeds. Instead of a walk we sat on a bench outside, visiting with the hotel employee that arranges the transportation. He was a nice chap from Colombia.

The shuttle came… and went… only two seats left and we were four. Wait, wait, wait for the next one to arrive. Finally we were on our way. Palm trees were everywhere. It was so strange to see such different fauna.

A maze of checking in, security, and who knows what else waiting in line and then we were walking the gangplank into the ship! I felt a welling of excitement: we were here.

We found our stateroom and unpacked while we waited for muster, an emergency drill. After that we walked around the ship, trying to get our bearings. I feel certain that I will never know where I am: port, starboard, fore, aft, I was all turned around.

We met up with Jo Ellen and Don to watch the cast off and then since all of us were starving since breakfast had been hours before we went in search of food. It was too early to wait for the dining room, and too late for lunch, so we sidled up to the buffet and enjoyed the blue hair supper looking out over the ocean and watching Ft. Lauderdale disappear.

More walking around, a comedy show at the theatre (with some dancing girls first), then a quiet visit with Jo Ellen and Don with ‘Love Boat’ showing in the background.

The wind blew like crazy outside and it was none too warm.

I fell into bed exhausted and was rocked to sleep by the gentle sway of our transit through the ocean.

It is ½ way throught the next day (today), but I’ll do this later.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

getting there

After a morning of futzing around the house we decided to leave a bit early for Mom & Dad’s. It was a step closer to being on our way and that made me calm down a tiny (tiny) bit. I told the pets that it would just be 8 sleeps so hopefully they got the feeling that we’d be back soon.

A quick hug for Pat and we were out the door.

Mom & Dad were home and Erik & Juliette arrived as we pulled into the laneway so it was nice to catch up with everyone, even if it was only for half an hour or so.

Our luggage was shlepped over to Mom’s van (and counted twice), then we were on our way to the airport. We said our goodbye’s and wheeled our luggage inside. The check in machine gave us some trouble, so we ended up at the end of a longish, slowish line to get our boarding passes and check our one suitcase. That was the first line up, second was security. We bumbled our jackets, cases, purses and shoes through the scanner then moved to US Customs. The custom guy was ½ Italian so Carm and he exchanged a few words of solidarity.

A wait at the gate - longer than expected as the boarding was late, and now here we are: 34,000 ft and at the moment of writing this not far from Augusta, Georgia (home of the Masters golf tournament.

Bumpy air.

Time to put the tablet to bed until the hotel.

Sunday morning: just finished breakfast and now there are a few hours to kill until the shuttle to the ship. I’ll use part of it to finish this update, and the rest of the time looking at palm trees. Sweet.

The bed was comfortable but I hardly slept a wink - between thinking (worrying) about the pets, and worrying that the alarm wasn’t going off it was a restless night. Hopefully once on the boat I’ll settle down.

It is strange to be away from home. Even when we are on a camping trip we have our home with us, like a giant turtle, or the giant snail in ‘Dr. Doolittle’. I never could find the name of that pink mollusk. I wonder if I need another coffee?

Friday, November 25, 2016

expectation of happiness

We are almost ready to go… tomorrow I just have to throw Carm’s new suit into the suitcase, grab all the chargers (5!), kiss the dogs and Grace good-bye, then we’ll be out the door and off into the wild blue yonder.

I’m pretty excited. This is like no vacation we’ve ever had, an adventure in eating and seeing new places, and spending time with friends. Seven nights of pampering will be a treat.

Pat, the pet sitter, came over yesterday afternoon to spend two nights while we are at home. This is giving everyone time to get to know each other. Spike is settling down but has periods of weirdness (he just spent 5min on my lap shaking). He seems to know that something is up. He’s too smart/sensitive for his own good. Strangely, Kabira is the one acting most normally.

We’ve had a few good meals together, including last night’s evening with Trudie & Leo.

“..that sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself”
~Jane Austen

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

harsh and cold

The snow has stopped, leaving a white blanket on the ground - I wonder if it will stay or maybe we'll have a green Christmas like last year. The sky is grey, but a bit of light reflects off the snow making the gloom slightly less depressing, although the light is harsh and cold.

I've been spending a lot of time on facebook these last few weeks. I thought that when the election was done the outrageous posts would stop. I feel an obsessive need to know what is happening as the bigotry and hatred comes into mainstream America. And Canada. People who have been quietly racist have come out of the woodwork. I feel saddened and stressed that the US will go backwards with human rights and equality. It seems like I'm in a bad dream and I can't wake up. The cruise will be a good break from the constant deluge…

I will admit to lazing around the last few days. Quiet puttering to move us towards the weekend and having the house ready for Pat. So far no racing around from here to there, spinning in place as I try to do too many things at the same time… that is sure to come on Thursday and Friday.

Huge mugs of tea keep me going. Earl Grey, Chocolate Mint, Spicy Chai, Lemon Thriller, all keep me feeling warm and comforted. But oh, a couple of hot buttered toast with New Zealand honey would cap off the comfort. I'm trying to keep away from bread, all calories really, to get ready for an eating extravaganza. At the end of it all I have to fit back into the same clothes as many of them are going to NZ with me. Assuming an earthquake doesn't swallow up the runways in Wellington.

I still haven't found those pink headphones.

A trip to the grocery store was a short diversion. I don't normally go with Carm but I needed my fix of crack… crack maple bacon popcorn that is. That stuff is wickedly addictive.

"November--with uncanny witchery in its changed trees. With murky red sunsets flaming in smoky crimson behind the westering hills. With dear days when the austere woods were beautiful and gracious in a dignified serenity of folded hands and closed eyes--days full of a fine, pale sunshine that sifted through the late, leafless gold of the juniper-trees and glimmered among the grey beeches, lighting up evergreen banks of moss and washing the colonnades of the pines. Days with a high-sprung sky of flawless turquoise. Days when an exquisite melancholy seemed to hang over the landscape and dream about the lake. But days, too, of the wild blackness of great autumn storms, followed by dank, wet, streaming nights when there was witch-laughter in the pines and fitful moans among the mainland trees. What cared they? Old Tom had built his roof well, and his chimney drew.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, November 20, 2016

a call to arms, chubby arms

Tick tock goes the clock… slowly, slowly inching towards next Saturday. I've been daydreaming on pinterest, every piece of advice has been noted, the location of bars and restaurants have been memorized, I'm ready to go. Yesterday we did a trial pack and weigh so we could figure out which suitcases and/or carry-ons we need. Everything fits and we are well under the weight restrictions. Two carry-ons would do the trick if we didn't have dress-up clothes.  Fuss and fidget.

Today is a day for doing not much of anything other than drink tea and stare out the window at the white stuff coming down. It was already falling when I woke up, but wasn't sticking around. Slowly, as the day has moved on, a white layer is icing the trees and ground. It is the inevitable abominable that comes with living someplace where it gets cold.

Yesterday we joined Trudie & Leo, and their friends Dave & Wendy, at a local theatre for a live production of 'Calendar Girls'. Carm and I both enjoyed it immensely. The ladies were brave for their peeps of nudity. I'll admit to tearing up a few times during the production - it was sweet and sad at times. I don't know if I'd have the nerve for standing naked, even for a minute, and even behind some well placed props. I am influenced by a good measure of self criticism and bad body image. I should work on that (and not just by starving myself).

Most women that I know are terribly critical about their bodies, but men seem not to care about their pot bellies and sagging bottoms. We've been brain-washed into believing in the unattainable.  Do you ever pass a mirror and say yuck, I'm too fat, or whatever? It is time to stop.

I did venture out this afternoon for a little bit. The dogs ran around for a minute, then Kabira retreated to the front deck, shivering and shaking. The rest of us did the short loop around the field - I had my hood pulled tight around my head. The poodles ran, almost naked, through the driving snow. When we were done, I didn't have to ask Spike twice to come back inside. Sometimes he is a little bug…. devil and is slow to respond.

"Step Away from the Mean Girls…
…and say bye-bye to feeling bad about your looks.
Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others.

This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you're too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.”
~Oprah Winfrey

Thursday, November 17, 2016

toward the November sky

The sun has hidden itself behind the clouds for the majority of time these last few days. I've been making sure to do things on my 'what to do if I'm feeling blue' list and it has been working. It's past mid November and I'm feeling fine.

Sunday we got our act together for a trip into the city for some grocery shopping at a store we rarely get to, a stop at PetSmart to replenish Grace's supply of pellets, and finally to drive the long, long way home. It was a nice outing and lucky for me, the sun shone. Kirsten and the girls were on my mind as we drove. Early in the morning I'd be awakened by some text messages from her, letting us know there had been an earthquake and that they were alright.

Monday was poodle day. Snip snip, buzz buzz, and they were naked and cold. I really did a number with my scissors when I trimmed their head and ears. Wowzers, Spike looks like a dork. Thankfully hair grows back…

Tuesday we cleaned the house a bit to get ready for Pat's visit. 'Pat the pet sitter' came over to see how Grace is fed, but also for a visit and beer tasting. Spike was nervous at first (we think he associates Pat with us going away), but settled down as the evening wore on. Pat offered to come here to stay for 2 nights before we go. This is fantastic as we will all feel confident, and the dogs will start to think she's part of the family.

Wednesday I went with Trudie to Morrisburg to get my haircut (again). I wasn't thrilled with my last cut which was just a few weeks ago, so I decided to join Trudie and get my hair done by the lady who I know always does a good job (she did). After the cut we poked around the area, checking out the local thrift stores. I snagged a beautiful red jacket. It is a deep, rich red that I couldn't pass up, and at $6.00 it was a great find.

Today I putzed around the house in the morning and then we went out for a drive to run some errands. I try to get out every few days as I think that helps my mood stay good, plus I wanted to wear my new coat ;-)  I had in my mind that I wanted us to get two new toilet seats… fun eh! First though, we stopped at the bakery for apple fritters.

"The wild gander leads his flock through the cool night,
Ya-honk!  he says, and sounds it down to me like an invitation:
The pert may suppose it meaningless, but I listen closer,
I find its purpose and place up there toward the November sky."
~Walt Whitman

Saturday, November 12, 2016

the leaves dead are driven

It is one of those lovely afternoons when Carm is visiting his mom, leaving me to the peace of the house. Not that I don’t like him around. I've got some Leonard Cohen playing and Grace is whistling along. She doesn't seem to think it is dirge music, but I have to disagree with her. I'm waiting for one of my favorites to come on: 'Joan of Arc' never fails to make me weep but the poetry is so beautiful that I listen to it over and over again.

I haven't just been sitting and listening though, I've been on a quest. A never-ending quest, one that I started a few months ago. I started looking for the red box my phone came in a few months ago. I looked high and low for this distinctive package. Up and down and it seemed like I looked in every nook and cranny. I knew it was in the house somewhere - there hasn't been a box that has passed the threshold that has been thrown out. I drove myself crazy to no avail.

A few weeks ago I started looking for a pair of pink headphones. They weren't with the others. They weren't in the box of wires, chargers and what not that go into the camper. They are not to be found. I've looked all over the house, in every drawer and cupboard that I can think of… multiple times. I've wracked my brain till I got a headache. I've tried just letting it come to me. Nope. I've started looking inside pots and all sorts of places that are not logical. Guess what I found. The red box. It was in a dresser, at the back of a drawer with a paper on top of it.  I feel like I'm going insane. I probably put it somewhere during a manic phase and therefore have no real memory. But I've looked everywhere, except where it is.

My other anguish today is that my tablet is acting funny. Not funny 'ha ha' but funny sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I use this darn thing everyday. I NEED it. Asus has not made an upgrade. Google has something similar but it is mega pricey. I don't know what I'd do if it crapped out.

If only I could send Spike on a ‘find it’ task…

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being.
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing."
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, November 11, 2016


I stood silent, one hand resting on the shelf in front of me, steadying myself against the wash of emotion. It was silent, or should have been - some people took a while to catch on that we were having a moment of silence, their voices harsh against my ears. As the last notes of the 'Last Post' died on the air I looked around. It took a few moments to reconnect with my space, the tall shelves loaded with goods seemed out of place and strange.

We were in Liquidation Warehouse, not the best place to respect our fallen soldiers, but since I had to have blood work done we were in the area. We usually watch the ceremony at the War Memorial on TV, that's the closest I've been for a long time. Not out of lack of respect or care, it just works out that way.

Back at home, Facebook came alive with posts about the American election, but also of Leonard Cohen who passed away a few days ago. His music, poetry really, filled our home and those tears from this morning were no longer held back instead they ran down my cheeks and made the back of my throat hurt. His music is emotional at the best of times, but today is a perfect storm than rages in salty teardrops.

I'm sitting on the sofa with my legs curled beside me, the sun is beaming in through the west window. It is high enough to be blocked by the top edge of the window. It feels warm. The music has stopped playing and a pile of kleenex sits on the coffee table ready for the garbage. I have a cup of lemon thriller tea cooling. I think how lucky I am.

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love...”

~Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

second autumn

We had a brief reprieve from November weather - the last few days have been sunny and warm. Today it was over 17C with a strongly shining sun.

Are you watching the US election tonight? We have some snacks ready as if it were the Super Bowl. Will it be as exciting? I hope not… Watching the pregame show, the surrogates are sure that Donald will win. My stomach dropped at the possibility. Got any investments? Tonight will be a yay or a nay.

Sunday morning we were up early (not really, but with the change from daylight savings time the hands of the clock were earlier than I'd been used to). With the 'early' rise we decided to have brunch at Winchelsea, a specialized restaurant that generally only serves brunch on Sunday. With eggs benedict and waffles on the menu I was happy - both my favs on one plate! Hurrah.

After brunch we drove down to the Bird Sanctuary to learn about the new winter camping. There were only two campers there, but I suppose that is a start. They have to get the word out for all the other camping zealots. It was a beautiful day for a drive.

On the way home, Carm dropped me off at Trudie's so I could help her go through some garage sale boxes from the Acapulco - there was lots of junk, but I am sorry to say that I brought a few things home. All in all we got through the boxes quickly so I was hope in time to have a rest before going back later for supper.

Monday we drove into the city again (gosh there have been a lot of shopping trips), this time to look for new shoes for Carm. He has a nice pair of tan shoes but they look horrible with dark pants… so… we were on the hunt for black shoes that are comfortable and can pass in a pinch with a suit. Luckily we only had to go to two shoe stores to find what we were looking for. He's got some dancing shoes now! My honey will cut quite a swath.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

glory terrestrial

Where have I been and where am I going? I'm not really sure about either. Through the blur of the last week (or is it even longer), I can pick out a few highlights, but otherwise the days have been steadily marching to darkness. Tonight is the switch to daylight savings time where the darkness will come in the late afternoon. Blah.

Last Saturday night we got dressed up - me, not Carm - and drove to the Acapulco for a Halloween supper. I couldn't think of a good costume and finally settled on a lumberjack, but in honour of Monty Python I added a big string of pearls. I don't think anyone got it except Carm.  I stuck with my regular hair and couldn't even bother to dye it pink. I suppose lumberjacks, even Monty Python ones, don't have pink hair.

Like last year, Glenn was there with his karaoke setup. There wasn't a big crowd at the restaurant so it seemed a bit pathetic despite his best efforts. Karaoke is one of those things: 'when it is good it is very very good, but when it is bad it is horrid'. Not to say that it was horrid because it wasn't.

Later in the evening the music got rocking luring people out onto the bit of floor that had been cleared of tables. I waved my axe (cardboard!) around and grooved. Neighbors Vashek and Marie kicked up their heels which is really good as Vashek has Parkinson's and doesn't move around very well. The music seemed to flow through his nervous system and gave him long lost vigour, at least temporarily. Music is primal.

We left early as we had to be at the Greek Orthodox church early Sunday morning for our friend Jim's mother's memorial service. We got there a bit late and stood in the vestibule waiting for a good time to deek into the church. As we waited hordes of people came in to buy candles and other stuff I didn't understand - there was much commerce going on back there.

We eventually found our moment and snuck into a pew. I am always interested to see the decorations of different churches and faiths. The church was well decorated with stained glass, carved wood and much artwork. A feast for the eyes. Which was a good thing as the service went on for ages - it might have been 1 1/2 hours… Interestingly the entire service was sung in Greek. The chanting flowed through my limbs, relaxing them for the first half hour, then my attention span wavered. I did say to Carm after that if he could sit through this, he could surely sit through a showing of 'Les Miserables' with me. It is in English, and there is more action in Les Mis too.

Monday (I think), we went to Costco to look for new pants. Carm picked up a few pairs of black dockers, and I got a stack of jeans to try on (the problem with Costco is that there is no changing room to try things on so you basically have to buy everything you want to try and return it later). In the end we each ended up with a pair that fit.

A few days later - I can't remember which one - we went into town to the shopping centre to get our new pants hemmed. While waiting we strolled into the Bay to see about a new sport coat for Carm. The sales were good and we found a really nice one. Before we were finished we were swept up by the salesman and Carm had a pair of matching pants and a nice shirt to go with it. Carm wasn't the only one to score - I got two nice summer tops on a terrific sale. It was an expensive day!

With a new suit it seems obvious that we have to pack for a formal night on the cruise! We hadn't planned on it but I think it will be fun. I have a nice dress, although I was mightily tempted to try on one at the Bay, but even with the sale it was over $300! I don't think so! I'm not a dress person but this one really caught my eye and I still think about it. It rates with my coral sequin dress that doesn't fit at the moment (I double checked).

"But there is always a November space after the leaves have fallen when she felt it was almost indecent to intrude on the woods…for their glory terrestrial had departed and their glory celestial of spirit and purity and whiteness had not yet come upon them.”
~L.M. Montgomery