Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Pub Lunch

On some sea days when traveling on a Princess cruise you have to option to eat a "Pub Lunch" in the Wheelhouse Bar or the Crown Grill (depending on the ship). It's always busy with a line usually extending out of the venueThe menu items listed are free, but drinks (other than water) are extra.
We usually have the fish and chips with mushed peas. It is all so delicious! Yep, even the peas. Who would have guessed smashed up peas would be as delicious as mashed potatoes? (Although the times we've gone right before closing time are the times the peas haven't been nearly as fresh and tasty.)

Only once have we veered from the fish and chips. Hubby went for the bangers and mash. Delicious, but too much food.
Dessert is usually bread and butter pudding. And we've never ordered it. Always a next time.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Different Kind of Cruiser

Cruising is our vacation of choice. It's our own floating hotel. We can head out for a week and visit four or five countries without having to unpack but once. A lot of people take cruises for the ports, the entertainment, the food, or the activities on board. The reason we cruise has nothing to do with any of those things.

We cruise for the crew.

You may think working on a cruise ship could be somewhat glamorous. Travel the world, meet new people, have room and board paid. But the reality is a bit different. Crew members work up to 11.5 hours a day. Every single day. While they may get a couple hours off a week to go ashore, most of the time they are either working, changing their uniform for their next shift, eating, or sleeping. There isn't a lot of free time. A bar steward may finish off his long day by helping close down the bar at 2 AM and then have to turn around and be on wheelchair duty in the morning at 6:45 AM.

Over the course of our travels we've seen how very hard they work. We see how grumpy passengers treat them. We see how supervisors with an attitude treat them. We know how much money they make. Which is why we cruise for the crew.

And call ourselves the "have chocolate will travel" cruisers.

We bring chocolates and hand them out to the crew, going through at least one bag of chocolate a day. It took us a while to get a handle on how much to buy ahead of time. We've frequently used it up sooner than expected and have had to do a candy run in port. I was just thinking about it today. We've made candy runs to:

*Walmart in Ketchikan, Alaska, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
*Kmart on the Island of Kauai and on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
*Target in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Seattle, Washington
*CVS in San Francisco and Rite Aid in San Pedro, California
*A liquor store type in Aruba

Thanks to the chocolates we have crew members who remember us from the different ships. Just recently hubby had a crew member come up to him and say, "Hey, I remember you. You're the candy guy!" (Yep, from two years before!)

Some of the crew members hold a dear place in our hearts. When we are ready to travel, we check with them to see which ships they are working on and then choose those ships for our trips. We hang out with them in the area where they are working, take them out to eat ashore, we go to the beach with them, and sometimes go drinking with them. And bring them gifts from home.

And if we can't travel to see them? We send them care packages.

We love our crew.

Monday, June 19, 2017

All for the Kid

The things we do for kids and pets.

Babysit dog and kitty.
Make a toaster cover.
Make a cover for a KitchenAid mixer.
Make six coasters.
Repair the puppy's cape - the one I just made last week.
Pull weeds.
Play fetch with Superman.

A busy two days spent at kiddo's house.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Bucket or F*** It?

Not too long ago we heard Scott Jones, a TV host and writer, do a Ted Talk. Scott had a stroke. After the stroke his friends encouraged him to make a bucket list. But Scott wasn't interested. Instead he decided to make a list of things he didn't have to do anymore. Things he didn't want to do anymore. So he created a F*** It list. (You can see his presentation here.)

After listening to his anti-bucket list, hubby and I are finding a F*** It list fits us well, too. We have just a few things on our list.
*No early mornings.
*No buying stuff we don't need.
*No engaging in stupid conversations we don't really care about.
*No need changing clothes every day if we don't want to. (Who cares if we wear the same clothes two or three days in a row?)
*No going anywhere we don't want to go.

It's liberating. Knowing our time is limited, why spend it doing things we don't want to do?

Not on our F*** It list? Hanging with our daughter's growing boy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

No Other Place

We've had a rough go of things these last few years. With aggressive rheumatoid arthritis, one working lung, two torn rotator cuffs, two knees needing replacing and being very obese, a mobility scooter was the only way I could get around anywhere. While my rheumatoid arthritis treatments have been discontinued and my lung will never get better, I did have two knee replacements and two rotator cuff repairs and lost a huge amount of weight. No more mobility scooter. Yay! Then there is hubby. Born with cerebral palsy, he had a bout of kidney failure and was hospitalized for a length of time and had to relearn to walk. His kidneys are a bit better and while his stamina is still low and he needs assistance with some of his daily activities, he is somewhat mobile again.

It would have been easy for both of us to give up, throw in the towel. Believe me, we've done our share of moping. But between those weeks where we couldn't get ourselves dressed and out the door even if we wanted to, there are days we push ourselves out. Thanks to our friends from around the world, we have a reason to leave the house and now have a book full of no other place places. 

No Other Place places? When I am somewhere, doing something, with someone (or sometimes alone) and say to myself, "There is no other place I'd rather be than right here, right now." And then I take a picture. Many of the pictures are of boring things - the time hubby put clothes away, the time I was sewing Christmas stockings for charity, the time I had my feet up at the end of the day - but many of the pictures are of our travels over the years. The amazing things we've seen and the amazing people we've met is just, well, amazing. Amazing enough I made a photo book out of all of them.  

Every time I take one of these pictures I wonder if it's the last one. Is this the last time we will see something like this? Is this the last time we will see this person? Is this the last good day we will have? So far, the Universe has been on our side and allowed us to keep moving forward. 

And allowed up to meet up again with some of our favorite people. One of the no other place pictures in the book is from the day we spent with our Indian and Serbian friends. We are so blessed.

No Other Place.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Indecisiveness Continues

At the time of my last blog post (several months ago) I was deep into indecisiveness. Unfortunately things haven't become much clearer. Conflicting thoughts keep popping up in my head.

I want to start the blog again. I don't want to start the blog again.

I want to write my next book. I don't want to write my next book.

I want to make tutorial videos again. I don't want to make tutorial videos again.

Which leads me to the bigger question.

Now what?

With me not working anymore and spending my days at home with a hubby who does nothing but sit in his chair and watch television all day long, what comes next? Until I know what to do, I guess I'll at least post a picture today. And hopefully will be back tomorrow to post another.

I have done one thing this month. I'm fostering some baby kittens again. This is Axel. You'll meet Vinny tomorrow.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My Boy Vinny

Temporarily, that is. Just until he hits neuter weight.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

First Time Flyer Adventure

My husband used to read the blog when I was writing everyday but now that I'm more sporadic he doesn't visit it anymore. So tonight I was reading one of my recent blog posts to him and found several mistakes.

I've always tried to read and re-read the posts to cut down on those mistakes. But being that I find myself doing more of the writing during the middle of the night I am not nearly as cautious. Some of the mistakes are pretty stupid. It will be a surprise if I later don't find a few mistakes even in this post.  Another late middle-of-the night writing.

Actually, I haven't yet been to sleep.  An afternoon-evening-night of adventure for me.  An even bigger adventure for my son-in-law.

Two mechanical problems on two airplanes. Two delayed flights. A period of no working toilets while sitting on the plane waiting for repairs. Once off the ground, almost three straight hours of pretty nasty turbulence. A medical emergency onboard. A safe but late after midnight landing. A scarcity of cabs. A long line for hotel check in. Finally receiving our room key, putting it in the door, and finding it not to be working which then necessitated a trip back to the front desk at 1:30 in the morning.

For us, all part of the ups and downs of travel. While we have experienced each of those things in our travels, we have never had them all wind up happening in one trip. It has been quite the day for us all.

I'm not sure what our son-in-law is thinking right now. He is on this adventure and today was his first airplane ride ever. Poor guy. Sure hoping it hasn't scared him off.

Local time here is after 3:00 AM and all I can say is what an adventurous day we've had.
What an amazing picture of the Phoenix area from above. I think one of my best aerial pictures yet.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Other One

Who or what is the other one? It's the other blog.

Last year when I finally published my book on cruising, I gave the whole social media presence a go. A halfhearted go, actually. Twitter, Instagram, and a blog dedicated to cruising. But it didn't last long. I was forcing myself to have this Internet thing going on. Except it wasn't me. I was trying to intertwine travel and cruising and gratitude. And I gave up on it.

So back to one blog. I'll gradually start moving things from the other one to this one. (But who knows? Maybe I'll change my mind again and go back to two. Why am I so indecisive???)

The first move-over is a post I wrote about gratitude from last year. Looking back it was more about money than gratitude:

Whenever I talk to people about cruising, I talk about the value. Compared to a night in a hotel, cruising can be downright cheap. A year ago we paid a total of $549 (not per person) for seven nights on a cruise ship. That ship took us to Belize, Cozumel, Mexico and Costa Maya, Mexico. With that price we received lodging, meals and snacks, entertainment, beautiful scenery, and transportation to three different ports. We also received $250 in credit to use on board. For one full week.

I'm wishing we were on a cruise right now. Because today I walked out of a hotel we just spent the last six nights in. In the city we live in. In a room with a king bed and a very limited breakfast. For a price of $1027.31.

Why in the heck would someone as smart as me pay such an outlandish rate at a hotel? And not even in a fun, new destination? We're just a few miles away from our own home. And we're doing it again, in a different hotel, in our same city. But this one is (thankfully) being paid by our insurance company. In fact, they will be paying for us to stay here for at least a couple more weeks. (They reimbursed us this afternoon for that $1027.31 bill. Whew.)

Let's get to the bottom of this with some more questions.

Ever heard of the word mitigation? According to FEMA, mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. I hadn't heard the word until last week.

Did you know the bottom of a hot water heater can leak? Did you know it can flood the area around it? (In our case that area included the closet, the bedroom, and the bathroom.)

Did you know that manufactured home floors are made of pressed board? That if those pressed boards get really wet they don't dry well? In fact, in some cases they need to be pulled up?

Um, yeah.

Hello, bedroom floor.

Hello, living room/dining room/kitchen.

Hello, mitigation.

Wonder if I could convince the insurance company to send us on a cruise instead of paying for an overpriced hotel. I'm sure I could find us a voyage that will be cheaper than the payment they will be making to the hotel.

Yeah, probably not. Grateful for insurance anyway!

Saturday, February 4, 2017


Yesterday I was thinking the last month wasn't all that productive for me. I take that back.

I taught a dog to fetch. To sit. To stay. To walk on a leash. To shake his paw. Not bad for someone who doesn't like dogs. (Except for this one. He's a keeper.)

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Friday Five

With February here I was thinking about how I've spent my 2017 so far and have boiled it down to five photos.

#1 Snow, snow, and more snow. Thankfully after 54 straight days with snow on the ground it is finally starting to melt.

#2 Charity quilt making.

#3 Puppy dog and kitty cat babysitting.

#4 Ebay sell-off of some of my fabrics.
Dozens of boxes are now down to just a few packages.

#5 Protein shakes. I'm not sure how many cases we've been through in the past month but it has been more than one.

A sort of productive year so far.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Big Helper

This week's project? A Valentine heart wall quilt for my daughter.  This week's helper? A dog named Baloo.

Monday, January 30, 2017

We're Still Frozen

The weatherman on the radio this morning tells his listeners here in Boise, Idaho We're still frozen. While I wouldn't typically be in my car listening to the radio in 10 degree weather, I have puppy duty today so a drive is required.

And thank goodness because otherwise I would have missed an inspiring sight in my driveway. Something about a sunrise being reflected in my speckle-frosted car window makes the day a bit brighter. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Done is Better than Good

Recently I've been checking out ebooks and audiobooks from my local public library. Because I mostly never leave the house unless it's puppy sitting time being able to check out an electronic book and have it downloaded on my device without ever having to leave said house is AWESOME.

Today I finished listening to a book by Elizabeth Gilbert, the Eat, Pray, Love lady. I listened to Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear to get me motivated to get back into the writing game. She makes several great points and I took mental notes of many of them. One of her mom's sayings was, "Done is better than good". It is a pretty freeing thought. Getting stuck in perfection isn't a productive place to be.

Except when it comes to my colorful contribution-to-society project from the other day. This one:
This colorful project, after the cold water wash, now has a middle section that looks like this. See all the red blotches?

Despite all the color catcher sheets, despite the cold water and the delicate cycle, the one color I hadn't prewashed - the red - bled through. And won't come out. So the question I'm asking myself...Is done better than good?

Perfection or no perfection I just can't send this off to The Painted Turtle Camp. So change of plans. It will go in the thrift store donation pile. I'm certain someone will purchase it and be able to make something out of it. Heck, if I saw something like it in the store I would probably buy it and work on it.

I can't believe I just talked myself (actually wrote myself) out of giving it up to the thrift store. I can figure something out, figure out a way to fix it. 

So yes, done is better than good. I guess it's just not done yet! 

Saturday, January 28, 2017


I'm rusty. Not just my joints, but my writing. It has been a long, long time (a year maybe) since I've written anything or even spoken more than a few sentences to anyone. So apologies ahead of time if this blog and the writing you've been reading seems choppy.

It's a practice thing. I promise to practice. Daily. Please be patient, I (think) I'll get back to writing clear, coherent, grown up sentences.

Today might not be the day.

Today might be the day I remember the old days when I published two books with Amazon. Oh, those were the days. Hopefully again...someday...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Contribution to Society

Over the years there has been one important requirement in my life - to make a contribution to society. For 20+ years it occurred through my work in the public school system. Since I'm no longer - and probably won't ever be again - employed in the school system, I keep working with my number two contribution-to-society activity. Sewing for charity. 

Something I've done for years, my sewing for charity has continued despite some pretty bad times. I still plug along on it, just quite a bit slower than in the past. I almost always have a project I'm working on and right now I'm on one that has taken me several months to complete. Thanks to Paul Newman.

Did you know it was his birthday yesterday? He would have been 92. He was the co-founder of The Painted Turtle, a camp for kids with serious medical issues. I've worked with this charity before, sewing turtle pillows for campers. This tim around 've been working on more turtle pillows as well as bed quilts. I'm finally nearing the end of the how-did-I-get-myself-into-this? project.

One of my brighter quilts is a quilt-as-you-go project. You'd think as long as I've been quilting I would have tried out the technique before but not until now. A new and yet different small contribution to society.

(To clarify... it's not technically Paul Newman's fault it is taking me several months to finish this project,  It's my fault - my hands' and shoulders' and back's fault - that I'm taking so long. But it is because of him I do have this project to work on!)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Caught in the Surf

As someone who likes to swim and snorkel in the ocean I have some experience with how difficult it can be getting out of the water. Sometimes the sand is firm and the slope is gentle, making it easy to get in and out. Other times there is a ledge either before the waterline or just under the waterline making a graceful and easy entry and exit (especially with two fake knees) a struggle. And sometimes the extra time it takes to plan your escape has you sinking deeper into the wet sand. Quicksand at the shore line? Sure can feel like it. Talk about hard to get out of.

And then there are those times when a wave catches you. If you haven't timed it correctly - and even when you have - you can find yourself being slammed by the surf. Occasionally once or twice, but sometimes several times in a row. Then just when you've finally fought through all the waves, and gotten past the "shelf", and pulled your legs out of the "quicksand" and are just about on dry land, another wave may hit and knock you on your bottom again.

Just like a chronic disease.

When I last posted to the blog, I was riding high working on the 50 by 50 list. Feeling good, accomplishing physical feats I never thought possible. The sand was feeling firm under my feet and the slope gradual. It was only a matter of time before a wave knocked me on my bum. Again and again and again.

In those situations - at the shore and in life - you can't give up. You have to keep fighting. So, following my own advice, I guess I'm back to blogging. Maybe it can help support that fight and bring me back to the living yet again.

Better than when I've been doing lately. Like the time in Antigua with a beautiful beach, beautiful water, beautiful day. The time/energy/effort to even think about getting into the water had been too much so I just stayed in the lounge chair, feeling miserable, wishing I had the strength to go in, longing for the days I used to be able to make it. Instead I drank a strong rum punch and slept in the chair until time to leave.

Here's hoping for less sleeping, less drinking, less feeling miserable, less longing for old days, less feeling inadequate. And hope for more living - and writing - instead.
The photo of the beach in Antigua was my background picture for quite some time
before I had to finally delete it because it was too depressing. Reminders of my inadequacies and all.
As to why I thought 4:30 in the morning on a Wednesday was a good time to start blogging again...I'm not sure.