Thursday, November 30, 2017

come sail away

We are taking a break from the hub-bub in our cabin, soon the safety briefing will commence and we'll take our lifevests to our muster station: the stinky casino.

It was another long day of hurry up and wait. We both woke up just after 7am (well, I had hardly slept), showered and went down for breakfast. There was a neat pancake making machine - I gotta get me one of those! Carm left me to finish my coffee while he ran across the street to pick up some more toothpaste and some wine. We got our bags repacked and sat down to wait.

Then we hurried downstairs to check out and then wait for the shuttle. Rush to get on the bus, wait. Get off the bus, wait for suitcase, rush to end of line, wait as the line snaked through all the check points. Hurry up and into the ship. We made it! We quickly found our room, unpacked, then went for a quick lunch - yes, the eating festival has begun. Oh boy.

I made it sound all bad but in fact it was a lovely time and we met some lovely people. First there was the young couple Natalie and Shawn that we met on the shuttle last night. Then there was the couple where he had biked around Europe extensively. Then the couple from Texas whose house had been just a few miles from the flood. Then on the bus a delightful couple (Dainette and Scott). She had a smile that would light up any room. Finally, at lunch we sat with Linda and Tony, a lovely couple from Edmonton.

At the muster we sat with two sisters and a husband who were from North but they grew up in New York City. They were from Italian descent so there was much in common. Linda, Diane, and Skip were delightful.

I don't know if it is because this is the first day or it if will always be like that but no matter where we turn we are meeting new people. It is fun but honestly it will get to be tiring. There is something to be said for travelling with friends!

My head is spinning from all this socializing! We took a few minutes to relax down on the mezzanee where we watched a few couples ballroom dance. We kicked oursleves that we hadn't practiced our moves - bad bad oversight.

We took a short rest in the stateroom after we cast off, but not long as we were planning for the blue plate special 5:15 supper in the dining room. Early I know, but we wanted to catch the early show (which we did and more of that later). In the line up we started talking with Lana and Peter, a couple from Kingston and joined up with them for supper.

After supper we all went to the theatre for the show: some dancers and a comedian (not together). We had some pretty good laughs.

It's now past 8pm and we are in our room. My head is spinning from the eventful day. I'll get this posted then chill with a glass of wine before lights out.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

on our way

It's 9:30 am and we are sitting at the gate, hours and hours before our departure time. Why so early? Well, "they" say to get to the airport 3 hours ahead of time. Not to mention, I get antsy and restless until I'm actually sitting at the gate.

I'm starting to get over the upset of leaving home. Spike was a mess, shaking and hiding, until I said something that sounded (to him) like he was coming with us. That perked him up plenty. My heart broke seeing his sad face as we shut the door behind us. Poor wee thing. He's smart and knows we are going away for a while, but not smart enough to figure out that we'll be back.

Pat, the pet sitter, came over last night to join us for supper and give the dogs a chance to get comfortable with her again. Plus I could show her where all the food is.

We dropped the car off at Mom's and she was good enough to drive us to the airport. A quick visit with my parents was a great way to start the day off.

Mad dash through the airport... scarf is missing, did I leave it at security? It turns out no, but I'd dropped it on the floor and a shop keeper picked it up. Lucky save! This scarf has accompanied me around the world.

Two thirty and we've been  here in Montreal for a few hours. The flight from YOW to YUL was quick and easy. We flew over our house! We bumbled through security and customs and arrived at the gate with time to spare. Lots of time to spare. We must have been travelling in a 'hole' as there have been no lineups anywhere. We hardly needed the convenience of NEXUS.

I got lots of steps on my fitbit getting from one gate to the other - gosh it was far. Luckily we had lots of time and didn't have to run. Nothing like running in the airport for your flight.

We are here! Let me tell you when we got on the plane and found out they'd changed our window seat for the middle my spirits sunk... the middle... YUCK. The plane was packed with people squeezing all manner of luggage into the overhead bins leaving little space for ours. With a shoehorn and a bit of luck we got it stowed.

Sat down (me in the middle of the middle) and the guy on my right is hanging all over the armrest leaving me little space. And he was a heavy smoker. I almost choked. I reminded myself that it was just 3 1/2 hours and that I'd survive, and after all wouldn't it make for a funny story.

As it turns out, we started chatting, discovering many common interests, the time went by quickly. Bob is a businessman in his late 60s travelling with his son (across the aisle) for business. He is divorced after 44 years, lonely, and not sure where to take his life.

Maybe I was just charmed cause he said how good I looked for my age and that Carm and I are lucky to have each other. He's right. About the lucky  part. But our trip went quickly and before we knew it we had touched down safely.

Carm has just run out for some big macs and then it is time for bed. We've been on the road for 13 1/2 hours and I'm beat!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas Train

My nose turned bright red with the wind whipping at my face. I had worn the wrong coat too - a fleece jacket just doesn't stop the wind, Carm was better off in his leather jacket. Brrrr... I tried with not much luck to snuggle into my coat. Luckily I had my crazy faux-fur hat to keep my head warm.

Chooo whoooo! Clackity clack, clackity clack. Slowly she approached us. Decked out in christmas lights (that would be wonderful in the dark), the train passed us and pulled to a stop. The Christmas Train was here!

We admired her restored passenger cars and then headed back to our car, with its heated seats and windproof windows. We were back home before we knew it.

Did you watch the Grey Cup game last night? I was cheering for Calgary and was on the edge of the seat for much of the last half. (I just may have stood up a few times). Too bad for the Stampeders but darn it was a good game. Years ago we would have had a big celebration with lots of tasty treats to fuel us. We haven't done anything like that for ages - this year would have been a good one to reinstate that tradition as the game was played in Ottawa, complete with snow.

Two more sleeps till the 12 hour marathon day of hurry up and wait.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.” 
~Laura Ingalls Wilder

Another Test - this time of offline publishing

Today I'm trying to write a draft offline and then test to see what happens when I publish offline as well. Will it keep the post in a buffer to be published as soon as internet access is restored? Or will it just give an error.

With a few jumps through hoops I've managed to get the bluetooth connection between my phone and my tablet working. This will enable me to transfer photos from my phone without any internet access - handy for setting up posts on our trip.

I'll try to add a few more random photos to test the publishing speed.

Wish me luck!

(note: publish failed and it didn't keep it in a buffer to repost later. Will have to post from here with an active wifi connection).

"Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.” 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 24, 2017

Some more testing and already packed

Some more testing and already packed

I've exceeded my past performance and am now already packed... we don't leave until next week. What will I do to burn off the excitement or channel the anxiety? There are some things that I can't work ahead on: dusting and vacuuming have to wait till closer to leaving time. Pat's room is all ready for her, clean sheets and fresh towels await. I've been gradually making up containers of Grace's favorite foods to have in the freezer (which reminds me, I should make up some kraft dinner for her.)

The blog writing tool that I downloaded is a little awkward. You enter the contents in sections, each of which can have one or more photos at the top. Sections can't be re-arranged or re-ordered so I'll have to do a bit of advance planning when I sit down to write. I pretty much just blurb everything out though. It will take some getting  used to.

Hopefully, all in all, it works better than my old method which was to write in Google Docs, edit the photos to resize, back in Google Docs I would insert the photos, then I would copy and paste the whole shebang into Blogger and publish. It worked okay, but the photos ended up small in the printed copy of my blog. And it was a lot of steps.

This lets me add the photos without editing them, but I won't know how they print until into the new year.

Also, the old method wouldn't post the photos on the slow internet of the ship. I have high hopes for this app to work better. In a few days we'll know! And if it doesn't work I'll have to jump through some hoops when I get home.

It is above zero today, but the thick clouds and blustery wind make it slightly unpleasant. I did get the dogs out a few times though.

We had a lovely supper at my parents last night, visiting with my cousin Pam and her husband Ron. I don't know her very well as she lives on the west coast and her's was a branch of the family that we rarely visited. It was great to reconnect with her.

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” 
― Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Test of blog on new tablet, plus new app

I got an early Christmas present - the deals are so good right now, and since my old tablet is starting to get a bit wonky we decided to get a replacement. So far I like it, although I find the cursor a bit jumpy at times, maybe I'm just getting used to the new keyboard.

Aside from setting up my new device we did some entertaining. Dave, Trudie and Leo joined us for a spirited evening last night. Dave got lost (again) so the soup turned to stew but I guess it was still okay. Regardless, it didn't stop us from sitting at the table for ages discussing everything under the sun.

One bad thing: no spell check again :-( And for someone who is excessively spelling disabled this is a bad thing.

I've added a few random photos to test the functionality of Blogger dashboard. Usually I write my blog in Google Docs, then add some really small photos, then paste it into Blogger app. Adding the photos in the dashboard might work better, but I'd better test without internet access (like I'll have on the ship), and with photos from my camera's memory card. Wait. I already know the answer: it won't work because blogger dashboard is a website. Darn. I used to have an awesome blog writing tool but it aged out as the developer no longer supported it. That was years ago and since then no better apps have surfaced.

(a while later) I've downloaded a new app and it seems to work(ish).

Monday, November 20, 2017

soup will cure

By 10:30 this morning both instant pots were coming up to pressure. By 12:30 seven containers of minestrone soup were ladled out into matching containers. Oh bliss to have more comfort food stored in the freezer. When I reheat it, I’ll add in some pasta and chopped mushrooms to transform it into an Italian classic: Pasta Fagioli.

While the soup was cooking, I started organizing stuff for our trip (aka packing). I wanted to make sure Carm had enough smaller shirt to wear, and to see what fit in our carry-on bags vs the big suitcase. It is still a week and a few days away but I’m all for advance planning! The packing spurred Carm into a reorg/purge of his corner of the closet (which I’ve been suggesting for weeks).

We took a break in the middle to re-energize ourselves with a little bowl of soup - had to make sure I got the herbs right ;-)

All in all it was a satisfying day. I loved seeing the freezer with uniform rows of neatly labeled food. And seeing another large bag leave the house for the thrift shop warmed my heart.

The sun has finally peeked out from the nasty snow laden clouds and I stuck my nose outside for a few minutes. The trees were glittering with a sparkle from the ice that coated their limbs, and as I walked down the laneway a flock of geese flew overhead. They were low in the sky so must have been looking for somewhere to spend the night. For a few moments I enjoyed the beauty of winter.

When I called the dogs to go inside, they raced full-speed up to the door. They had fun being outside, but were more than happy to get into the warmth. Rosemary, thyme and oregano flavoured the air as I stepped inside the house, warming me through and through.

Once back in, the dogs fell asleep in the sun and I cuddled into the little sliver that hits the sofa. I looked out the (dirty) window and saw the trees sparkle with ice, all topped off with some fluffy white snow. The legions of butterflies that flitted in the clover this fall came to mind. It is going to be a long slog till spring - especially without a trip to New Zealand to break the winter up.

The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
~John Steinbeck

Sunday, November 19, 2017

star bright

Gosh, it has been ages since I last posted. It’s not like I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to put fingers to keyboard, it is more like the connection from brain to finger is broken. No, not that. It’s the brain that’s been the problem. A fog has wrapped itself through my head, leaving me dull and thoughtless. It’s not a depressed kind of fog though (thankfully), just a cognitive one.

Now I’ll try to detail some of the highlights as I don’t want to forget them.

I’ll start with the mundane. The poodles got a haircut last Wednesday - they are shorn so short we can almost see their skin. Unfortunately I wasn’t handy with a brush for the last while so their tails and ears had mats in them - off all the hair came, leaving them totally puff-less. This morning it didn’t come as a surprise that they didn’t want to spend time outside in the newly fallen snow (our first this year). Even Spike was huddling next to the door to get inside quickly.

This weekend Mom and I went to Montreal to help with my 5 ½ year old niece while her mother, Tammy, worked at the school fundraiser. We had a great time with Freya - I think both Mom and I were happy to get some one on one time with her. Funny story at the school fair: we were in the ‘craft room’ and while Freya was busy we started talking with her teacher. She immediately assumed that both Mom and I were her grandmothers. WTF!!!!! I tried not to show the horror in my face but immediately corrected her that I was an Aunt. I realized later, with a little counting back on my fingers, that I could be a grandmother if life had been different. Oh boy. I’m that old now :-(

Last weekend Carm and I went to Montreal for a night to spend with my brother Olaf and his family. It was a beautiful day for a drive and we had a lovely evening with them. Sunday morning we all packed into Olaf’s car for a drive deeper into the city. We were going to a pre-screening of the latest movie Olaf had been involved with. ‘The Star’ was a delightful animated film about the birth of Jesus. It was funny, warm, and touching - it even brought tears to both Carm and my eyes. If you have a chance to see it, look for Olaf’s name in the credits :-)  (I was the proud sister as we met his team and other co-workers).

I haven’t done much cooking over the last week and a half: supper at Trudie & Leo’s, lunch @ Jo Ellen and Don’s, supper 3 times @ Olaf & Tammy’s, chicken shawarma take-out one night. It’s no wonder the scale hasn’t budged in a few weeks. And it will be less than two weeks till we feast again on the cruise. Oh boy - good thing I have some stretchy waist things :o/

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Friday, November 10, 2017

Optimism is the faith

A week has passed since my last post and much has changed. The last of the leaves have fallen, except for a few remaining on the lilac bushes and the odd hanger-on from the Catalpa. We’ve had our first killing frost, and last night, a bit of snow. It was -11c overnight. I can no longer hope that winter will pass us by.

I bundled up for a few walks in the field, my hood pulled tight over my head and my hands stuffed in my pockets. I am NOT ready for winter and wonder how I will even bear it.

I can’t think of what we’ve done except for a few highlights. Jo Ellen and Don came for supper on Wednesday night. Spike loves Jo Ellen and greets her with wild abandon, but Wed after the greeting he went into the bedroom by himself and stayed there for most of the night. What is going on with him? I would love to get into his head to see the world from his perspective, but what would I see? Does he think in pictures? Or is there some sort of doggy language going through his head. I wish there was the technology to see.

Last Saturday we went to the theatre with Trudie & Leo. It is a local group that puts on a few productions a year - we’ve seen two others (one of which was Calendar Girls). It was a musical show about a trailer park in Florida: funny, and once you got past the singing it was good. Not for kids though :-0

Then on one of the days this past week we closed up the camper for the winter. Slides have been retracted and the hitch is out of the truck so we are really stuck for the winter.

We are on the countdown for our Caribbean cruise: under three weeks! As usual I’m having anxiety about going and leaving everything. Sometimes I think it would be easier to stay at home. Thankfully we have Pat to take care of things.

My energy is still better than it was, but I don’t seem to be 100% yet. I’m making an effort and getting on the treadmill most days, but it is harder than it ever has been.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
~Helen Keller

Friday, November 3, 2017

thank you and farewell

Yesterday was my last appointment with my psych doctor as she is retiring. We had a pleasant 45 minutes with some of the time discussing what I should do if my mood fluctuates - I’m on my own now and it is a scary proposition. Of course my family doctor will step in if things go really off the rails, but that is not the same as her calm, professional care.

She is the third doctor that I’ve had since getting sick in 2004. After a few years, my first one suddenly moved to BC, leaving me in the lurch. I was still unstable and needed someone so I saw my family doctor for a recommendation. He eventually was able to find my the second doctor. I saw her for a few years before she also left town. Which led me to Dr. N at the end of 2010.

Since starting with her I have steadily improved. There were slight adjustments to my meds over the years, but more than that, I have better learned the things I need to do to keep well, including keeping daily records of things like sleep, activities, and medications. She taught me when I needed to up a dose and that it isn’t a bad thing to do so (I used to be reluctant to take anything extra). She helped me to deal with so many upsets in my life. She was always calm and elegant.

I’m not being very eloquent, but suffice it to say, I’m going to miss her.

Today Carm closed the pool (with only a tiny bit of help from me). Of course we haven't been swimming since mid September but we needed to keep the filter running to keep a high enough level of chlorine to keep the water from turning green. It’s cold enough now that not much will grow in the frigid water.

Couldn’t pick just one quote today…

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien

“To part is the lot of all mankind. The world is a scene of constant leave-taking, and the hands that grasp in cordial greeting today, are doomed ere long to unite for the the last time, when the quivering lips pronounce the word - 'Farewell”
~R.M. Ballantyne