Saturday, December 30, 2017

the march toward 2018

Usually when the thermometer reads -21C the sky is blue and we are treated to a blazing sun - well, as much as a sun can blaze in December when there is an icy chill…  Not today though. The sky and earth blend into each other with a smudge of grey, a light snow is falling, and it looks like an ice fog is adding another layer of gloom. I am snug in our house and have barely even stuck my nose out the door.

Today the preparations for New Years Eve start: a bit of cooking to get ahead of the game; and the most difficult, clear out the 3rd ‘bedroom/clothes drying/catch all junk room’ so that someone can use the hide-a-bed tomorrow night. I’ve looked at it a few times and have cringed away… I think I need at least one more coffee before I can move even one thing.

It’s now 4pm… I’ve made 3 things that required onions and/or mushrooms and even got into the room for some organizing. It’s not pretty with vases of flowers and beautiful linens, but it will do the trick for an overnight. I have far too much stuff with not enough places to store it so it is still in piles in the corners of the room.

I even made it outside for a few minutes this afternoon.

“What do you need in the New Year? You need a dream; your dream needs an action; and your action needs right thinking! Without right thinking, you can have only unrealised dreams!”
~Mehmet Murat ildan

Thursday, December 28, 2017

hospital visits

Well… it has been an eventful last few days.

We made it into town for Christmas lunch with my family. The roads were treacherous, but I can count on Carm’s good driving and our Subaru to get us through the snow safely. Lunch was nice, but unfortunately Graham was in a lot of pain so didn’t join us for much of the afternoon…

Boxing day morning I got a text - Graham was in the hospital with a burst appendix :-(  It seems like it burst a few weeks ago so has had lots of time to get infected… Not a good situation. Carm dropped me off at the hospital so I could spend the day there. Same thing yesterday - he dropped me off while he and my brother Olaf went to see Star Wars. I would like to see the movie at some point, but wouldn’t have felt right leaving my mom by herself with Graham.

My mom flitted around the room, fixing this, and adjusting that. She always has lots of energy but being a mother seemed to conjure up an additional burst.

Graham came home today - I don’t know what the rest of his story will be as they still haven’t operated and I don’t even know if they will.

The weather turned on Christmas day so now instead of precipitation we have brutal cold. I believe with the wind chill it was -39C last night!!!! Yes, our thermometers go down that far. The dogs are dashing out to do their thing and barking to get back inside if we aren’t immediately opening the door for them to get back inside. I can’t remember them ever barking for that, especially Mr. Naughty who likes to linger outside. I’m glad their haircuts have grown back somewhat.

There is one good thing with the cold: it is sunny, and the sun is blazing into the house creating nice sunspots on the dog’s futon. The sunspot stretched over to the sofa so I hung out there for a while this morning :-)  See, it’s not all bad!

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
~John Steinbeck

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all. I’ve shovelled the front deck in my pjs and Carm is snowblowing… yes, a bit more snow to make it feel like Christmas. Our last guest left a few minutes ago and now we’ll finish the cleanup before going to my mom’s for brunch.

Last night we did something different and had a few friends over for Christmas Eve supper. Pat and Dave didn’t have anywhere else to be, and if  you remember from last year I was at loose ends too, so dinner seemed like the perfect solution.

Both instant pots, a crockpot, and the actifry were on the go getting a turkey dinner ready. Not a whole turkey, but one of those frozen breasts. It normally cooks for 4 hours in the oven and can come out dry but I did some searches and found a recipe to cook it in the instant pot - 45 minutes and a 20 minute natural release - perfect. Well, it could have used another 5 minutes, but it was moist and tender. Yay instant pot. The other pot had sweet potato soup, the crockpot had green bean casserole, the actifry had some sweet potato cubes, and finally regular potatoes on the old-fashioned stove for mashed potatoes. Whew!

We had fun, but I did miss the traditional ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer’ - maybe tonight instead of the Sound of Music, which is not Carm’s favorite Christmas Day tradition.

Spike was calmer about Pat’s visit so he has either gotten used to her taking care of him, or he knew we weren’t going anywhere. I do see him walk into the spare room occasionally to look around - that’s where our suitcases get packed, and it’s also where Pat sleeps so I don’t know what he’s looking for.

Oh, yesterday, as well as getting ready for company, Carm and I made lefse. Mom & Dad had brought a tortilla press in Mexico thinking that it would work well on the soft dough. And it did! No rolling pin wars with soft potato dough sticking onto the pin and the counter. Just a simple press and voila :-)  Carm had 10 spots going on the stove and griddler so I could barely keep up. We made a double batch in just over an hour (not counting making the potatoes, finding all the pans, cleanup, etc.) I still managed to get flour and bits of dough through much of the kitchen ;-)

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2017

whiny little

The snow is coming down, not softly, inviting me out to play, but whirling around, icy crystals lashing at my face. It’s cold and dismal. I got the dogs outside for a few minutes, but they have even less stomach for the cold than I do. Maybe I need to dig their winter parkas out of storage.

Visions of the Caribbean have been replaced with a fantasy of taking the camper down south. We could all go, except Grace, which would simplify our trip to somewhere warm. The dogs proved that they are good travellers a few years back when we drove out west.

Today is friday which means it is only a few days until Christmas eve on Sunday. I don’t have a single decoration up, not even my pre-decorated tree. Going back from our trip with a cold took me out of reality and into a coughing cocoon - I’m still wearing flannel pj bottoms. I can’t get past my anxiety of leaving the pets. Instead of getting better I’m worse and almost paralized with worry. I try to rationalize my fears, I mean I know they are safe with Pat, but I’m not having any luck at feeling better.

I need a way to get Spike over his separation anxiety. He even cried when I went to the dentist the other day. Do you have any suggestions? Has anyone had any experience with anti-anxiety meds for dogs?

I did make the dough for a batch of shortbread yesterday, and today I’ll roll them out and make pretty stars. I wonder how many will make it to the tin?

… a while later… shortbread is baked… and burned. My %$&* oven is so out of whack that I’d better not try any more cookies.

Time to dig out my copy of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas”, a yearly tradition. It was a bit of a tear jerker, in fact I didn’t make it through the first credits before I was choked up. It’s a movie I associate with Kirsten and the girls and gosh, I miss them so much.

Carm just read this and said it was a whiny rant but I can’t find a way to cheer it up, so excuse me if today I don’t find any pleasures. It’s not as bad as all that, but...

Saturday, December 16, 2017

wonder and admiration?

It wasn’t sand I was kicking at the 98 pound weakling… no, the sun wasn’t shining and my feet weren’t bare… instead I had heavy green farmer’s boots lined with thick felt on my feet and I was kicking snow. Instead of sunscreen I was wearing a fluffy down jacket that went almost to my knees. Bah humbug. The first time sticking my head out the door after our return was a shock to the system. By the time I got back in the house my legs were frozen and my nose was cold. Oh to be back under the Caribbean sun.

Last year was our first time going south and I think it was a big mistake. Winter no longer seems magical and beautiful with sparkling snow. Instead the leaden grey sky feels like a shroud and I feel cold as death. How I long for sunny skies shining on blue water, a sheen of sweat making me glow. And with no trip to NZ in my future it seems even more bleak this year.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I’m still fighting off this cold. I can’t see farther ahead than the end of the day today - even my dentist appointment next week seems far off. Christmas isn’t even on my horizon.

Oh, the dentist. Well, on the second night at supper I felt a worrisome crunch in my mouth and discovered that a big chunk of tooth cracked off from over a filling. I was pretty worried at first as I’ve had one really bad experience with a tooth that left me in the hospital for two nights, but I was lucky and it didn’t bother me much. I couldn’t get it fixed this week (cause how can you get a filling when you are hacking your lungs out), but have an appointment next Wed. It seems there is always something to challenge my good nature.

All of that was from yesterday. Today, Saturday, the sun is shining so it doesn’t seem as bleak. I could even fool myself that the sparkling snow was beautiful. It wasn’t as cold out and the wind had died down so I actually went outside on purpose and took some photos. I even felt well enough to get in the car to go to the village so that we could check out the sales on a furniture shop that is closing (note: the prices were still ridiculously high so we didn’t buy anything, not that there was anything we really like or need).

“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in winter.” ~John Burroughs

Friday, December 15, 2017

under the Caribbean sun

Now that I've blurbed out all my frustrations on our travel day, with a good dose of exaggeration for effect, I will now wax poetic on our lovely vacation.

We had a lovely time and enjoyed the ship very much. Our big discovery this time was the pool. Bobbing around in the sloshing water was a wonderful way to spend the morning. The big movie screen was fun - it played a few concerts, some Cirque du Soleil performances, and the odd movie. I caught some of Beauty and the Beast while in the pool (we watched the rest in our room the next day), and a bit of Grease which was fun. Maybe there were more but I do have a bit of blurring of the mind.

We usually ran into Lana and Peter in the pool and met lots of other people as well. There were all shapes and sizes (actually not that many skinny ones) so I didn't feel out of place in my bathing suit. It was easy to not be self conscious when so many others obviously had no image problems - it seemed pointless to bother about things like that.

We also had our first beach time... we liked! I think our next hot weather cruise will include some beach excursions (with plenty of sunscreen of course).

Food was a highlight: most lunches we ate at the buffet except for the one pub lunch and once in the dining room. We tried to keep things light, but honestly it was impossible.

We ate supper in the dining room every night. After the second night Peter reserved our table by the window for the remaining nights. We ate early (5pm!), but that got us better service and gave us time to catch the earlier show. Our servers, Vanilson and Milica, were fantastic and made us feel very pampered. The meals themselves were outstanding. Beautiful presentation and freshly made food were several steps in quality above the buffet. Taking the time was easy because our excursions were only 1/2 day but I'm not sure how it would work with a more demanding schedule - I might not have the energy for the dining room then.

We used the stairs extensively, even taking them to get to the 16th floor Lido deck (pool & buffet). Despite all the eating I only gained a pound - actually today I am right where I was before the trip. I think it took several days to get rid of the extra weight from all the salt.

We met Lana and Peter on the first night while waiting to get into the dining room. It was serendipity as we got along great and spent much of our boat time together. They are charming and funny and from a nearby city so hopefully we'll be able to keep in touch.

Our room was the same as the other cruises. Our room steward, Robert, was very attentive. Our room was taken care of twice a day and I don't think I had to use a facecloth more than once. Our room had a little sofa which was nice for chilling on during our little breaks from the hub bub.

Excursions were good but paled in comparison to Europe. We toured each island and saw the highlights. Volcanic rainforests to coral deserts enchanted us. Our tour on Martinique was wonderful and terrible at the same time. We were in a big, air-conditioned bus that could barely make the turns on the snakey road. It felt at times that we might fall into the gorge below us. I wished I had gum as the trip around the volcano lasted 1 1/2 hours. It seemed like forever. One lady called out for a plastic bag...

We visited a rum factory at the end of the ordeal which was interesting and in beautiful grounds. A few other stops and we were back to the boat.

But I'm repeating myself... I wish I had been less tired when I wrote each day's blog, as it was I could barely string a few words together and didn't convey the essence of the excursion. I needed more coffee!

I can see doing the same trip again as the weather was fantastic and honestly the time by the pool was a highlight. Next visits we will probably choose a few beaches instead of land tours.

I did have a problem with exhaustion though... by mid trip I was tired and homesick. I didn't enjoy myself for a few days as I just didn't have the energy for all of our activities. I guess I got a second wind though as by the end of the trip I was feeling a bit better. (even though I was coming down with a cold). I knew the pets were in good hands, but I couldn't help but worry about Spike. He has some separation anxiety from me, even crying sometimes when I leave the house and Carm is home. He associates Pat with us leaving and gets really upset when she shows up. It broke my heart to leave him like that, but I guess I can't let a little dog tie me down to the house... I might look into some anti-anxiety drugs for him (and maybe for me!) for next time.

"Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.” 
~Roman Payne

Thursday, December 14, 2017

journey through the centre of the earth, or so it felt like

My abs feel like they’ve done a million sit-ups from coughing so much. My head is filled with cotton wool. My nose is like sandpaper. I feel like sh!& and the memory of our trip seems distant. I don’t know if I feel well enough to try to blurb out the last few days of our trip, including the trial of our trip home, but I’ll try.

Thursday… well, I didn’t get any further than the first paragraph. I’m still under the weather but good enough to look at my tablet and even type out a few words. I had a cold at the end of our last cruise (the Mediterranean), and now with this one I’m feeling a little trigger shy.

I might as well cover the rest of the horror of our trip home, the cold, the snow, the shock of not being in the hot sun.

Our trip home started with a 6:30 alarm which gave us plenty of time to shower, have a last breakfast, hang out in our room for a bit, and then get off the ship. Everything went smoothly and quickly. Our shuttle to the airport turned up in good time and before we knew it we were at the baggage check kiosk in the departure area.

This is where things started to go wrong, although we didn’t know it at the time… They convinced us to check our carry on bags, which we weren’t expecting and didn’t think of taking our sweaters and coats out to carry with us.

Got through security.

Found seats in departure lounge, though far from our gate - with 5 cruise ships loaded with people trying to get home the place was packed. Read and relax. Get message on phone that plane was delayed 55 minutes. OH NO! We only had 1 ½ hours to make our connection in Montreal.

Start freaking out about coats - what will we do if we aren’t in Ottawa to get our luggage? Can’t get in touch with brother Graham. Text Pat to let her know what was going on.

Find seats closer to gate. Hear announcement about delay.

Plane arrives ½ hour late. Deplanes. Starts to load up, starting with 5 severely disabled people in giant electric wheelchairs, and then 6 regular wheelchairs. Takes at least ½ hour to load them. Finally get on plane. Potential mechanical problem. Resolved. Wait 15 more minutes for clearance. In the air 1 hr 45 min late.

Cold medicine partially working but one ear is blocked. Freak out remembering entertainer who went deaf in one ear in same way. Groggy from said medicine.

Land in Montreal. Pulled aside for new boarding pass. Read it. Departure time 7:40 THE NEXT DAY. There are 9 of us.  No compensation for hotel. No coats. Where is our luggage? They say it will be on the carousel. Wait for luggage. No luggage. Carm goes to baggage claim area. I text Pat to see if she can stay another day. She can’t, but will let the dogs out that night, and the next morning. Baggage guys say to try standby so we run through customs, security, and forever to the gate. Told there is no room and to go to another gate. Run to other gate. No seats but the lady is helpful and suggests a bus. But we don’t have luggage. Back out to baggage claim. Talk to guys there. They call around and find suitcases. Put on carousel and we have our bags. We have our light summer windbreakers and a sweater - they will have to do. Run to bus kiosk. Only 7 seats but there are 9 of us waiting. One couple pulls out and says they will wait for next bus (bless them).

Bus is 20 minutes late but finally it is here. Walk on bus. Step over puke on the bus floor. Could it get any worse? Find seats. We are on our way home.

Graham was a sight for sore eyes when we finally got into Ottawa. He picked us up and took us to Mom &  Dad’s where our car was. Heavy winter coats - yay. Finally driving home. Finally in the laneway. Finally in the house. Dogs go crazy. We were home.

Lessons learned: carry coats on person; take direct flight when possible, don’t try to save time by doing a connection; people in same boat are nice - we all pulled together to get a resolution; book Pat an extra day; bring good supply of cold medicine on ship and remember to take it out of carry on bag.

Biggest lesson though: Don’t stress so much! It will (likely) work out somehow.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Photos of Curacao

This morning after the pool we wandered the ship, eventually settling on a British style pub lunch in a cosy dining room (no buffet for us today, except for a couple of cookies of course!).

Now it is time for some deck time and maybe a nap.

This might be sent sometime in the future as it isn't posting...

Another test post, this time on our sea day

I did a post of photos from Curacao this morning but haven't gotten it to post yet.

Curacao our last island

Our excursion in Curacao wasn't until 1pm so we spent some time in the pool this morning. Cirque de Soleila was playing on the big screen. Since it was a port day the pool was virtually empty and we even had the hot tub to ourselves for a while.

We had a quick lunch (way too huge) and then got off the ship to look at a few little shops and get in line up for our excursion. Today's was the least interesting of our trip. 'Made in Curacao' was the theme - we went to the Curacao factory, then a micro brewery, and finally an aloe vera farm. The island is mostly flat and dry with cacti showing up around the city. The houses are colourful.

We got back to the boat in time to change for supper and meet Lana and Peter at 'our' table. The food was fantastic: goat cheese souffle, scallops in a citrus sauce, and we shared an extra plate of gnocchi, dessert was a trio of chocolate delicious bites. I'm so full. (belt buckle gets loosened one notch).

After a short rest we went to the theater for perhaps the best show of the cruise. Tom Franek was a fantastic piano player and did all sorts of tricks. Very entertaining. Oh, he has an online presence on youtube etc.

It's 11:15 am on Friday now, I'll post this without photos and add them later. We've already spent some time at the pool; Grease is playing on the big screen. Not sure that this is the right demographic, but I enjoyed it. We got to the pool at 9:30 and already most of the deck lounges were staked out. People put a towel and a few personal belongings on their chairs and then don't show up for hours. Very annoying...

As it was, we were back and forth from our chairs a few times. Heat up in the sun, dunk in the pool, repeat. The pool wasn't too busy until we left, then it was filled with bobbing bodies.

Might do some shopping now and then it will be lunch time. Tonight is formal night so we'll get dressed up again :-)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Granada spice trail and Bonaire

It is now Wednesday, our tour in Granada was yesterday, but I was too tired to write last night. We are still underway towards Bonaire - we are expected to arrive at noon today.

Our tour in Granada took us into the heart of the island to a jam factory and then further to a herb and spice garden. Our final stop was a rum factory in a beautiful setting. The island is lovely with lots of flowers, banana trees, and pretty pastel coloured homes. Lots of dogs relaxing on front steps. It is hilly but not as extreme as Martinique. We did go up and down a few hills that were certainly more than 15% grade. It felt like we were going straight down!

The bus was a small 30 seater, more nimble on the curving roads than the big one from Martinique.

We met a nice couple at happy hour, had a quick rest, then met Lana and Peter for supper in the dining room. I managed to stay up for the show, but gosh, I was tired.

You can probably tell from my blog posts that I am getting more and more tired. I'm exhausted. I don't know if I'm cut out for such an active vacation! Plus I'm terribly homesick. I miss the dogs and Grace.

I think, no I know, that I'm gaining weight, despite all the stairs. I'm talking 25+ flights of stairs every day. But still, I shovel food into my face at an alarming rate. Lets see, yesterday for breakfast I had smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and melon; for lunch a few ribs and some pasta; for supper a black bean soup followed by a shrimp and rice dish. Oh yeah, and creme brule for dessert...

Carm is having a grand time. He's been restrained with political talk, although I left him upstairs at breakfast talking with a couple of Floridians - they were of like mind.

The weather has been fantastic. Except for the rain in Granada, which only lasted 15 minutes or so (we were standing outside in the spice garden huddled under an umbrella with a couple from Richmond, which is just outside Ottawa. This morning I passed by the pool and was tempted to forgo today's excursion and instead spend the day by the pool.

It is almost 11:30, (45 minutes before our excursion in Bonaire), and I am back from the pool! A 'quick' swim seemed like a good idea after all and with lots of time before we had to disembark it seemed crazy to deny ourselves. The pool was the busiest we've seen it: around 8 people floated around watching a Cheryl Crow concert on the big screen. We ran into Lana and Peter, not literally, although almost, in the pool.

It is now after our fantastic excursion into the mangrove forest, a wonderful supper, and a great show in the theatre. Time for a quiet evening with a movie in our room: 'Beauty and the Beast', which we caught parts of from the pool a few days ago.

I'm glad for a bit of a rest.

I'll post photos of Bonaire tomorrow or the day after, depending on internet speed.

Grenada and getting into Bonaire

I'm having trouble posting again... not sure if it is the ships wifi or the blogaway pro software... anyway... we are still having fun although I am getting more tired by the day! I'll need a vacation from this vacation.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

St. Thomas a bit of shopping

We are in hot and sunny St. Thomas. We took a stroll around the shopping area near the port - I was on the hunt for the bracelet that I didn't buy last year. I think I found it, or at least a close facsimile. Happy me :-)

After our little walk we came back to the ship for some pool time. A Santana concert was playing on the giant screen by the pool so it was very pleasant to lounge and listen to the music.

More eating... oh my big belly! I'm pretty sure I'm gaining weight despite the hundreds of stairs we are doing. We are even taking the stairs to the 16th floor most times.

Happy hour... Pina Colada for Jo Ellen again. She's making me drink too much!

Supper... tenderloin and huge shrimp for the main course. Delicious. I'm really getting into this dining room thing. The food is better than the buffet and the service is impecable. White linens and silver cutlery make for a luxurious experience.

After supper we found seats and watched people ballroom dancing. We made a pact that we'll practice before our next cruise - we've made the same pact before though.

Unfortunately we left too late for the theater so couldn't get seats together. The show was a comedian who was pretty funny. I sat next to a jeweler who pointed out that my bracelet was pao shell and not blue opal. Well dumb me. As soon as he said it I knew he was right. Oh well, I have a nice necklace anyway and as a bonus it matches a few of my necklaces. The bad thing is I paid way too much... must put that out of my head.

We had cheese and crackers back in our room and then it was bedtime.

A good day.

Martinique 10x Kirstens road

We docked in Martinique today. It was slightly cloudy with heat and humidity.

Our excursion today took us around the island on roads that rivaled Kirsten's road in New Zealand. Except we were on it for 1 1/2 hours! One lady called out for plastic bags part way through the trip - I could hear her heaving in the background. I managed to keep my cookies down, but gosh it was a challenge.

One of our stops was in a town that had been wiped out by a volcano in 1902. There has been some rebuilding but the town has never fully recovered. Interesting ruins of a theater that had lovely views overlooking the volcano.

Our last stop was at a rum factory. After the tour of the premisis we sampled a few varieties before choosing one to bring home. 

We had supper in the dining room again with Lana and Peter. Chateaubriand for me - I'm sure getting my fill of beef!

After supper Carm and I had a quick swim before getting dressed for the theatre. We got there 1/2 hour early, but already nearly every seat was filled. We had to make due with seats right in the front row. As usual they put on a fantastic performance.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

At sea splishn and a splashn

I don't know if you can tell or if my posts just seem wildly disjointed, but I write a few paragraphs throughout the day.

Now it is 12:30 pm - we've had our breakfast and for the first time cruising, been to the pool.

My self-self-consciousness of being in a bathing suit soon dissipated as the parade of other bathers passed by my lounge chair. We stretched out and luxuriated in the hot humid air, until eventually, we were warm enough to make the plunge. The salty water was cool and moved with the roll of the boat making us bob like buoys in the ocean. Back on deck I tried to stay out of the sun - no sunscreen on and hot Caribbean sun is not a good mix for fair skin. Lots of tanned people around - I look like beluga whale amongst all the brown bodies.

I don't know how many times we said "this is the life"!

Now we are back in the room for a short rest and to do a bit of laundry. We don't have enough clothes packed to make the whole cruise without washing a few things as the days pass.

Somehow the time between breakfast and lunch flashed by. After putzing around we dashed to Crooners to get a seat for 4 - we were meeting Lana and Peter for happy hour.

Tonight was formal night so we spent some extra time getting ready for supper. The silver dress and Carm's suit came out of the closet (none the worse for wear after their travels) and we got all dolled up.

We met Lana and Peter at 5pm for an early supper. Peter reserved a table by the window so we watched the water pass by as we enjoyed a delicious supper.

This is the line up at the dining room door :-o

After dinner we went to the theatre for a production by the Princess dancers. It was a great show. One of the numbers was a male singer singing 'Somewhere over the rainbow' in the style of that Hawaiian performer - I love that song. Shenna, I thought of you when we were watching the dancers!

Okay, I'd better end it here as I've totally lost my words and can't remember all the scintillating tidbits that I was going to share. Good night!


my post for yesterday (at sea a splishn and a splashn) didn't post and I don't know why. This is a test to see if it will work without any photos.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Princess Cays - water wings

We woke up bright and early after a good nights sleep. A peek out the window showed the island of Eleuthra gliding by in the distance. We weren't scheduled to anchor for an hour and a half which left lots of time for Carm to run on the track, showers and a delicious breakfast where we met some people from Michigan. Vicky and Dave were our age (unlike the majority of other sailors - there are more wheelchairs and walkers than you can shake a stick at!), and we had a delightful conversation.

Back in our room we got into our bathers and prepared for a morning on the beach. This was our first beach experience in the Caribbean and it won't be our last. The tender took us over to Princess Cays (pronounced Keys), a private resort. We found a few lounge chairs in the shade of a tall palm tree and settled down to get hot. It wasn't long before the blue waters tempted us to wade into the warm water. Oh bliss.

Thoughts of home vanished for a while as we bobbed in the gentle waves. The water was so clear that we could see there were no sharks nearby so we bobbed a while longer. We didn't see any fish though. Perhaps if we had snorkeled a little farther out from shore.

Rinse and repeat. More lounging and people watching (we both feel tiny), and then another swim. More lounging, a pina colada for Jo Ellen, and we were ready to come back on the ship.

I kick myself that I didn't fork out for a water camera. It would have been so fun to get photos of the ship from the beach, and us splashing in the water. I would have loved to capture the blue waters - it was an impossible shade of blue.

Apres Happy hour:

We are back in our room for 1/2 an hour - just enough time to write a few words and then get changed into dress-up clothes. Not fancy, fancy, dress up (that will be tomorrow), but black jeans and a fancy top. Carm will wear dress pants, a nice golf shirt and horror of horrors: shoes and socks.

We met Lana and Peter at Crooners for happy hour, (Jo Ellen and Don - we missed you). The wait staff have changed since our Med cruise but have been replaced with equally friendly workers. Our server was a charming Grace.

We met Lana and Peter at the dining room for another blue hair special. The food was fantastic and the company pleasant. After supper we hung around in the piazza until it was time to find seats for the show.

Tonight it was a cheezie old time singer/entertainer. Mark Preston's specialty was old classics, like the ones Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra would sing. The person in the seat next to me (not Carm), clapped like crazy and was soon singing along... wait. what? is that my voice too? Well, yes it was. I love nothing better than a bit of cheese and in all honesty this guy was pretty good.

Now it's time for bed. I'm beat and am sure to fall asleep quickly tonight.