Sanna's Bag

“I never seem to have what I need when I need it. I’m going to make a belt-bag that’s bigger on the inside than on the outside, and just carry everything with me.”

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I bet you think I forgot my knitting

Sixty miles west of the coast of Oregon on September 29th, sunrise slipped up shyly. It was cold outside, and I was naked, so I just put the lens of the camera against the glass door. Kind of a fun effect.

We have breakfast delivered to the room (free) eat in bed, nap, finally rise to put on our swimsuits and go up to the thermal spa where we bask like lizards on hot rocks, enjoy a stint in the eucalyptus steam room, a cool down in the rainforest shower, a soak in the mineral pool, then went back to the room where we fnally get dressed and head out for lunch. After we have dined, we pick up my knitting, and take it on a tour of the ship. You can come too.

The atrium is the center of the ship where the main desk and central offices are located. Comfortable couches and elegant appointments are arranged conveniently. The knitting had a chance to frolic with nymphs. (the blonde SIL adores flamingo pink. I am making a cotton sweater for her. Knit from side to side through the body to make vertical stripes, then with sleeves and shoulders added afterwards to make horizontal stripes.)

The knitting caught some rays by the pool on the Lido deck. there is a roof that can be slid over the pool so swimming is possible even on the coolest days.

Then DH and the knitting lounged on the bed in our cabin to watch a movie on the TV.

The cabins are smaller than a motel room - just barely wider than the bed is long. There's about 24 inches of space to edge past the foot of the bed, then a small love seat on one side, a little desk with mirror and TV on the other. A tiny bathroom. You could soak your feet in the tub while sitting on the toilet. Three shallow closets. Very little storage space. BUT - how much time are you going to spend in the room?

The ship's tour concludes with a lazy sprawl on our own private veranda. On the Caribbean cruises, I pretty much live on the veranda, but it's just too chilly out there right now. Even with a sweater, and a blanket over my legs, the breeze of our passage burrows into my bones in about half an hour.

Dinner time, we left the knitting in the room and went to the Pinnacle room for a special date. The furniture is fanciful, the china is by Bulgari, the crystal is the thinnest I have ever handled, and the service is old-school superb!

They even do a flaming baked Alaska!

Usually we have our meals in the dining room, but DH thought we ought to have one special, special, special treat as long as we were indulging ourselves.

Finally, back to the room where our steward has left a little towel origami for our amusement. (The eyes are little chocolates that would otherwise have gone on the pillows)
At 9 PM of the 29th, the internet service went south without us. There was no connection untill after five PM the next day. I couldn't blog or check e-mail but these things happen. We went up to the media services desk to find out what was happening, and got in line behnd a bunch of rich old tycoons who demanded that the IT specialist fix it all right now. So when I got my chance to talk to her, after hearing her explain repeatedly that it was a satelite connection problem and the experts were working their hardest to fix it, I said to her, "I expect you to transcend the laws of physics, time and space, and personally ensure that I can check my e-mail because, as a guest of Holland America, I am entitled to miracles. " She looked blankly at me a moment, glanced around at all the pompous curmudgeons around us, then nearly imploded trying to suppress her laughter. she needed every chuckle she could get yesterday.

It was a surreal, suspended sort of day. A day at sea with lots of fog. A smooth gray ocean disappearing into a fuzzy gray mist. Back to the thermal spa and more basking on the hot rocks. When I need a meditative image, I will go back to that experience with serene flute music and the sound of running water in the background, total physical comfort, a hint of eucalyptus in the air, and the view through the floor to ceiling windows showing silver and gray.

Today, we have full sunshine, and we are anchorinf off Santa Catalina Island, then using the lifeboats to tender passengers in to the dock. Tomorrow (oh it hurts to say it) DH and I disembark in San Diego. But today, we play in the sunshine!!

My traveling knitting is some "Knit for the cure" cotton. My DH's sister adores flamingo pink, so I am making her a cardigan. Vertical stripes for the body, horizontal stripes for the sleeves. skein after skein of stockinette.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

the elegant Oosterdam

For those folks who know the north Pacific coast, think of it: Late September + Astoria+ sunbathing. Just does not compute, but truely, this was one of those halcyon days when the fog burns off and the sun shines down and the temperatures just keep rising.

DH and I. however, did not set foot off the ship. We did a bit of wandering and exploring. At every turn there seemed to be some new artefact or object de arte.

How about a four foot tall urn in an alcove?

A little bench near the elevators.

And how about those elevator doors? They're like this on every floor.

There is a lot of blue and white tilework in keeping with the Holland theme. This is in the thermal suite. I want to move in to the thermal suite. There is a eucalyptus steam room and a mandarin orange steam room and a sauna and access to a warm mineral pool. And of the 1500 guests on board, only 100 of us have passes to the thermal suite. It was woth the price of the pass. DH and I spent most of the day in here.

Huge windows lettinng in lots and lots of light, a fountain of mineral water for sipping, and . . .

Do you think a glass-tile mosaic loune would be uncomfortable? What if it were heated? I was just like a lizard on a hot rock, basking in unthinking bliss. Of course, I got a good start on it all. At 8 AM I had a lime and ginger exfoliating massage. The therapist gave me a par of disposable paper panties and asked me to lie down on my face on the foil blanket. Then she drizzled me with a thin, gritty paste that smelled good enough to eat (lime and ginger!) and gently scrubbed it in from toes to collarbone, front and back. Next she folded up the sides of the foil blanket, covered me with a couple of towels, and left me to marinate for a few minutes. Then she gave me a luxurious body wash and had me shower off all the scrubby stuff. Finally, she spent half an hour massaging my muscles till I was smooth as buttered silk; not a knot to be found in body, mind or soul. I think it was at least two hours before my feet touched the ground. I just sort of glided around, carried on a pink satin pillow by tiny cherubs.
DH had a foot massage and declared it to be, "Alright." He's just not into the self-indulgence the way I am.
We had lunch at the day-long buffet.Among othr attractions, there was a taco bar. You could have soft or crispy shell, beef, chicken or pork, lettuce, black beans, chili, re-fried beans, tomatoes, onions, salsa in mild, medium or hot, jalapeno peppers, tomatillos, cilantro, and sauerkraut. Do you put sauerkraut on your taco? I have never heard of it. Sort of a Mexican/Dutch treat I guess. Refried beans and sauerkraut? I dunno.
We did dinner in the dining room. And since we decided that most folks aer interpreting "Smart Casual" as, "Wear just the small diamonds," we dressed up a bit. I wore the "Sporty" string of my pearls. I have finally split them into a sporty necklace, and a dressy necklace.

The light isn't right here to show up the colors well, but it gives yo an idea of the basic layout. The pendants include two fire opals and the first pearl DH ever bought me.

The colors show up a bit better here. I'll try to get daylight photos of them later today.
Todday and tomorrow are days at sea. 'm going to a cake decorating demo at 9, and a Dutch Royal Tea at 3. And I lost my hairbrush, so I'll have to pop in to the ship's stores and look around a bit. I HAVE to!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


On embarkation morning, a sliver of sunshine wedged itself between the clouds to kiss me good morning. Is this a good omen for the day or what?

We had breakfast - so civilized. DH had a cup of hot chocolate.

Our ship was docked right alongside the hotel - so handy!

The Oosterdam is something like 350 feet long. It's a good hike from one end to the other.

We did a little shopping. Had to get some tea at Murchies' - Empress Blend has be re-named Afternooon Blend. I guess the Empress is no longer politically correct.

We stopped at a shop in the hotel and admired the knitwear.

Then we packed our bags, checked out of the hotel, and took the elevator down to the cruise ship dock. And before you knew it, we were on board. The rest of the day passed in a bit of a blur. We had margaritas, and tequilla makes my brain shut off.

We spent some time in the room, watching people passing on the dockside. I had nonchalantly tossed one foot over the rail and was lounging casually with my cocktail, and this couple came along, waved, and then he mimicked me. I laughed so hard my water broke and I wasn't even pregnant.
Today, we are docked in Astoria. I'm going tospend the time wandering around the ship and taking photos. And I had a lime and ginger exfoliating massage this morning. I feel like polished silk!!! I may have a nice nap this afternoon. And I'll get a shot of my more upscale attire tonight. Don't want to look like a total rube amidst the retired diplomats and heads of industry here.
DH and I are youngsters on this cruise. At 55 and 60, we are YOUNGSTERS!

I'm going to have to upgrade my look for dinners. Smart Casual evidently means well co-ordinated ensembles with a touch of bling. Holland America is a big change from the Carnival cruises we are accustomed to. Carnival is like Las Vegas, all Neon and chrome. Holland America is more like Monte Carlo - old gold and understated opulence. An oversize silk sweater and a pair of capris is not Smart Casual.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vancouver is a beautiful city

We made it down to the breakfast buffet with a whole half hour to spare (we almost never sleep so late) and I had a chance to appreciate how very beautiful the Pan Pacific Hotel is. DH, the clever lad, got us a wonderful discount on the rooms or we could never afford to stay here. Celebrities and royalty stay at the Pan Pacific. I don't think I saw any, but who knows?

Breakfast was fit for royalty. I started out being so good and getting a plate of fresh fruit, and a bowl of muesli with yogurt. But THEN, the eggs Bennedict, the sausages, the flakey croissants all started beckoning, and since Sunday IS a feast day, after all, I succumbed. And the tea - it was as if my tongue was covered with tea receptors, and as soon as the first sip entered my mouth, those tea receptors popped open and /sucked/ the tea directly into my system. I don't remember actually swallowing at all.

Then we strolled around the hotel for a few minutes, appreciating the features and letting the breakfast digest. Here is a fountain representing the Pacific Rim. The water emerges from a fountain outside and flows through vvarious channels, under bridges and at last swirls down into the pool at the bottom here. Little kids go mad with joy scampering over those bridges and pattering around the channels.

the Pan Pacific is built above a section of the Vancouver Convention center. An adjacent section (with a grass roo - how green can you be?) is accessed via a spacious tunnel. do you feel that you are swimming downstream?

Vancouver is full of art and beauty. this lovely lady watches over the stairs to an elegant boutique.

Here is a memorial to local boys lost during WorldWar I . In the US, they usually put up a cannon or something martial. I really like the loving angel.

And for Alwen, PK, and any others interested in quirky steam machines, here, in "Gastown" is a steam clock. The pipes on top play chimes at the quarters of the hour.

Close up of the works.

A nearby fountain

And this statue is in the window of a shoe store called, "You are Weird."

Ah, the beloved spouse is stirring now. tim to rise and shine. Later, I'll show you pictures of all the mounties I saw. Today, we are headed for Chinatown.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The journey begins!!

It was a day like this. Indian summer - warm and sunny and the leaves just starting to turn.

We drove the car to the airport and left it in long-term parking which is secure, and will position the car quite conveniently for our return. And here are our intrepid adventurers, ready to set out.

So we did private car to airport shuttle to light rail which took us downtown to the regular rail station. While on light rail, we were sitting across from a nice young man with a map out. I asked if I could help him find something. He was from Glasgow, arriving two days early for a week-long seminar on wind farms. We showed him where to get off the light rail and how to get to his hotel, and suggested a number of things he might do while he was in town. the committee in the back of my head was adding things up and said, "Glasgow. He will want to go to a soccer match." So I told him to ask the conierge if the Timbers were playing while he was in town. His face just LIT UP! "There's football here?" If there's no pro game, I hope the concierge can get him to a college match. The University of Portland girls are world champs!

Fool that I am, I didn't get photos of the train station, which is really an imposing edifice, and the sort of thing that model train enthusiasts spend thousands of hours trying to duplicate. It was far clea ner than I expected, spacious and elegant, and oh so well organized. I was excited about our adventure and shared my happiness with everyone we encountered, and they smiled back and added suggestions to make sure we had a good trip. "Get your seat assignments right away so you can be sure of sitting together." And the fellow assigning seats said, "Oh, then you'll want seats on the side next to the water so you can enjoy the view. " How right he was!

We started out on time, but had two rivers to cross, and river traffic takes precedent over train traffic, and bridges were up,so we were twenty minutes late to our first stop. But after that, we just hauled!

Even though the rail parallels the freeway, it avoids the cheesy freeway billboards and signs. It was a glorious trip! The light had that late September hint of amber, the trees were just starting to turn, the views were pastoral, or as was often the case, glimpses of river through the sheltering cottonwoods. My heart just hopped up and down for joy.

Near Olympia, I looked out the other side of the train and got a shot of Mt. Ranier across the fields. Actually, I had been getting lots of shots as we went along, but usually a tree jumped in front of the camera as the lens opened, or the train jiggled just a bit, or - well, suffice it to say that it is difficult to get good pictures from a moving train.
I wanted to jump out and get pictures of the different stations we stopped at, but since we were running late, There were no pauses. People lept on or off, and with a whoosh, the train was in motion again. (Very smooth and quiet motion may I add!)

Soon we were cruising along Puget Sound. Islands began to appear.

Bridges came into view, then slipped past.

So many fascinating bridges!

Outside of Tacoma, I got another decent short of the mountain. Mt. Rainier stayed on our right, and Puget Sound on our left for hours and hours of comfortable travel.
I kept wanting to fasten my seat-belt every time I sat down, but there were none. The bathrooms were wheel-chair spacious, and immaculately clean. The dining car was more of a coffee-shop sort of car with pre-made cold sandwiches and salads, hot dogs, microwaved burgers, that sort of thing. But I have no complaints. I really hadn't expected white linen and real silver service in Orient Express style four-course sit-down dinners. I dined on hummus and chips and was quite content.

The sun set as we were standing in the station in Seattle. Briskly, efficiently, the Amtrack staff shuffled pasengers off and on, and soon we were on oour way again. The dark brought clouds, and the further north we went, the more the weather settled in. We crossed the
border of Canada in a light rain storm, and by the time we arrived in Vancouver, there was a pleasant steady drizzle.
DH tells me that , Since I was playing solitaire during the actual border crossing, I missed the six Mounties waving flags while seated on white horses who were singing (the horses were singing. The Mountnes were looking stoioc) "Oh Canada!" And Wayne Gretsky was waving a hocky stick at us. I think it's time to get him off to breakfast. He's hallucinating again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

drilling pearls

I told you how DH spoils me by taking me to the place where you can buy an oyster that's guaranteed to have a pearl? These places are all over, and I have acquired a mess of pearls over the years. It costs $10 -$15 each to have someone else pierce them, if you can find anyon who will do it. The places that sell the oysters make their income by marking up the pretty settings and charging you to make jewelry from your pretty pearls. Some of my pearls are worth upwards of $80 and we paid only $13 for them. But then, the pearl place wants to sell you a $50 pendant and a $30 gold chain and son of a gun, you have paid right through the nose for your $13 pearl.

So DH set me up with a Dremel tool (a little drill) and a press to fit it in, and a set of little bits, and I visited my friends Julie and Jerry who are lapidarists and who taught me how to drill my own pearls.

Here is the set-up, ready to go. See that nifty rectangle with windows in it? DH built me a pearl-drilling jig! This way I can drill halfway through, turn it over and drill the other half, meeting precisely in the middle, producing a neat, straight hole. If you start at one end and drill straight through, you risk blowing the nacre off the back. It's heart-breaking when you do that. I have cursed and bellowed my rage and frustration over this more than once.

The jig has a pair of cavities with holes precisely in the middle of each. There are two jigs in my fixture, and each is a two-part device. One half is moveable, and one half is not.

Put the pearl in the bottom half.

(Black pearls are my favorite! They have the most fascinating lusters to them - green or chocolate or cinnamon or purple!)

Then put the second half of the jig down on top ot the pearl, catching it firmly between the two little cavities.

Drill halfway down from the top, flip it over, and drill halfway down from the bottom. Voila, another pearl for my eccentric string!

This jig is just the coolest thing ever and he is the cleverest, kindest, most thoughtful and indulgent man in the world for making it for me.

You can't rush this, because the pearls can overheat and fracture if you go too fast. ( Did that once. Had to go outside because the cussing was upsetting the cats). It takes about fifteen minutes per pearl, and I still haven't perfected my system. It would go a lot easier if I had three hands . . .

So I spent much of yesterday drilling, and now I am re-stringing. You want to tie a knot between each pearl. If, God forbid, the string ever breaks, the knots keep them from all slipping off and running away all over the street or the ballroom or wherever. And of course you want to get the knots tight up agains the previous pearl so there aren't gaps of naked silk thread to get grubby with wear. So this takes time. There's also the thrilling problem of arranging all these colors and sizes in a way that suits me. Pre-planning is essential. But, if I wind up unhappy with my results, I know I'll be adding to the collection next year. Every year it's a whole new necklace.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

hair today

Sunrise on the last day of summer. It turned out partly cloudy all day long with big fat sheep-like cumulus clouds wandering across the sky.

It was a day to savor, with a definite flavor of fall in the air, but a nice
kiss of sunshine as well. Some trees are even starting to turn, though not the neighbors' maples yet.
So I took myself to the hairdresser for the first time in three years. Here is the old hair, bed-head, to give you an idea of what she was going to be working with.
And Janette, I wear this wool and silk shell all the time. A Christmas gift greatly appreciated!!

And after an hour with the scissors and a healthy blob of a product called, "Boing" here is the result. DH is not impressed. The curly girl is not at all what he had in mind. I'll wash out the product today and see what I can do with the natural hair. But I bought a bottle of "Boing" because I enjoy the look, even if it does make my hair feel gunky. And it sure beats the mad attack with the nail scissors trims I've been giving myself.
Meanwhile, DH has quit getting haircuts until I got one. I don't understand that boy. Do you think it might have been a more effective thing to do if he had told me what he was up to? Or if he had just said, "Why don't you give yourself a treat and go get your hair styled?" I'll have to remind him that I'm not a mind-reader, and that I welcome his input.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Got my mojo back!

Every evening, DH brings Squirrel out of her hidey hole of the day and encourages her to sit with us while we quietly watch TV. Here, she is pretending to be a parrot. The conflicts are settling down. Pepper is becoming less hostile as Squirrel learns her place. Now Ben is trying this intimidation thing on for size, but even though he's bigger than Squirrel, she's still feistier than he is.

So while we're sitting on the sofa, watching TV with our Squirrel, I have been knitting. I got this much done since Sunday. (Thass my foot to give things scale. Size 10 narrow) When I have finished a square in the mitered units, I will then crochet around and around the edges to use up the leftovers. Aunt Lydia's Sugar and Cream cotton. Mostly yellow,white, green held double, but occasional squares with one strand yellow,white, green, and one strand of yellow, white, OR green. There's a green square under my foot. Und in the top right corner. And on the right side, a yellow dominant square. I am just feeling the kinttiy LOVE on this one!
This morning, I am gonna sit down with "Dancing with the Stars" and my knitting while my robot servants wash and dry my clothes. At noon, I'm going to the hairdresser for the first time in years for a professional cut. And taking my knitting. And this afternoon, I plan on xploring Xfinity again and continuing to knit like a mad thing while watching free movies.
Yesterday I got a wild hair up my back, put on my work pants, and went outside to clear the backyard. Wish I had taken before and after shots. I whacked down a small forest of suckers coming up from the roots of the plum tree we had taken out this spring, and pulled weeds that had grown up among them (a couple days of rain have made weeding reedonculously easy) and whacked off dead branches from the walnut tree that is shading out the plums, and made three huge piles of yard debris. Our garbage company takes yard debris in a seperate can and recycles them into compost. So I went to the front of the house for the yard debris can, and found it full of grass clippings. Looks like I've been forgetting to put the can out for recycling for, - how long since we last mowed? - Three weeks now? Soooo, on Thursday I will put out the yard debris can, then as soon as the studmuffins come to empty it, I will drag it around back and fill it up again and put it right at the curb so it can be picked up the next Thursday. Don't want to bother the house sitter with this.
Oh, yeah - house sitter. Why a house sitter? Well, we're going on a trip. Every year we go to Southern California and spend time with DH's family. He hates the madness that is LA almost as much as I do, but family is important and we do like seeing them, so we gird our loins and make the annual hegira. Thiss year, he figured a way to sugar coat it. He found a killer deal on a re-positioning cruise from Vancouver BC to San Diego. (Re-positioning cruises happen at the end or beginning of the summer cruise season when ships are moved up to Alaska or, as now, moved back down south for the winter.) Since it's a short cruise (5 days) and one way rather than round trip, the cruise lines don't charge as much. All the merchandise in the shops will be Alaska souveniers, and the staff will be at the end of the season, so may have a bit of a short-term attitude. SO, we can get the cruise for almost the price of two first class plane tickets. We are taking the train up to Vancouver (How Exciting!! It's been fifty years since I rode on an American train!) then catching the ship and spending five lazy days sailing down the coast. We will cross the Columbia River bar - the most difficult passage in the US, for a stop in Astoria, Oregon. Since we could drive over to Astoria in 90 minutes any time we want to, DH and I will loll around the ship and maybe indulge in discounted spa services. Then a day at sea. and a day at Catalina Island, which DH has never been to, though he spent his entire youth in LA. Then our beloved brother-out-law will pick us up in SanDiego and convey us to our hotel in Manhattan Beach where we will stay for four days of intense familial bonding. Then home again. On an airplane.
So we need someone to watch the house, feed the cats, take in the mail and papers. Thank you Lisa! Thank you, thank you!
I asked Lisa what I could bring her from LA. She asked for Johnny Depp. I said I would do my best. She then asked if she could have him chocolate covered, as she wanted to lick it off. My reply, "Milk or dark?" her response: "Bittersweet, of course." She can lick it off, but I get to paint it on.