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.”

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Next week we are getting the floors refinished which means that we have to move everything out.  We and the kitties will have to stay elsewhere for a week while the floor folks sand and seal.  Then we have 2 days to move everything back before we bring guests in for a week. 

So, since DH works full time and I work part time, guess who gets to pack things up?  I am building a rolling fury over all the STUFF we have.  Who brought all this stuff into my house?  And where am I going to put this stuff?  Where am I  going to put THAT stuff?  Where am I going to find more boxes to put the stuff into? 

We are ordering a POD - a storage container that the POD people will deliver to us, then pick up and take away when we are done.  We could, if we wanted, have is sent elsewhere and unpack it there, or just leave the sucker stuffed full and store the whole ball of wax indefinitely for a small fee.  It's like a temporary storage shed.

So I have been schlepping and sorting and trying to organize myself all day, and I'm now too stupid to continue.  I don't know what comes next.  We will be living here until Monday, so I can't just start at one end of the house and sweep through.  And since the refurnishing will be so fast, I sort of have to plan what can be left until later (July?) to be moved back in.  Also, there are pieces of furniture that will require the assistance of some high-school gorillas to move in and out.  Try to organize for maximum efficiency because high-school gorillas have short attention spans. And by now, so do I.  If I go into the same room three times and still can't remember what I wanted in there, it's time for a cup of tea and a good self-indulgent whine.  How many people in the history of the world have had a chance to whine about having too much?

The kitties were delighted to have us back.  They all slept with us!  I was too tired to set up my CPAP last night, so slept without it.  I am even more tired today because the sleep wasn't that good, and I snored like a strangling goose all night long.  Now I know what I need to do - time to set up my breathing buddy. 

Hope your June 1 will be wonderful!

Monday, May 30, 2011


On the way to the beach we pass McMinnville where the Spruce Goose is now.  You know - the giant all plywood airplane built by Howard Hughes.  As if that weren't attraction enough, the also took a passenger jet and added it to a water slide.  It opens in June.  I gotta go!

 Boiler Bay
Sea lions in Newport.  An old bull and his harem hanging out on the dock.

 There was a beautiful sunset the night we got in.
 Simultanelously, in the east, a rainbow!
We cruised out beyond the bridge.

 Chuck, my oldest brother, an avid fisherman.

A group portrait of everyone but Roxie who went  out on the boat.  They were on the dock, waiting for the boat to be hosed down, and just lined up,  watching the water.  I keep saying my fam-damily is bass ackward.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mom's farewell

Unbelievably for the Oregon coast, there was sunshine all day.  It even got so warm that DH was walking around in a t-shirt.  We got all 14 of the participants gathered at the dock, and after a bit of a wait while the crew hosed down the ship after the morning fishing trip, we embarked.  My niece, who had organized the whole weekend, had leis for all of us, and my nephew's wife had roses and calla lillies.  Everyone who was prone to seasickness had taken their dramamine, and so we set out.  Astonishingly, it was fairly smooth untill we crossed the bar where we encountered 20 ft swells.  In a 16 ft boat with a canny captain, it was like riding a rollercoaster, and the teenagers were whooping with glee!  When we got out to the selected spot, my niece opened the cooler and brought out the Crown Royal and Coke - Mom's favorite beverage.  All the adults got a tiny cupfull.  The kids got apple juice.  My oldest nephew read a wonderful farewell he had written, then I got to scatter the ashes. We played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."  I had saved a dash of Crown and Coke and poured it in with her, then we scattered her last remains in the place she had always been the happiest.  The white ashes (which are more like sand) hung in the water.  I had expected them to sink right away.  We threw our flowers and leis, and as we motored away, they were rocking gently in the sunshine.  I had been prepared for wind and rain, a churning chop and bone-chilling cold.  It was as if the elements had combined to welcome her. 

Upon our return we gathered for a sandwich buffet and reminiscing.  I tried to get Mom's brother to tell us about her youth, but she was 8 years older than he, and she married Dad when she was only 15, so he couldn't come up with much.  But it was good to be together with the family, and we shared lots of the old stories and no one was mournful.  I could wish for such a ceremony.  Mom had outlived most of her friends and peers.  You don't get a lot of people telling stories about the youthful exploits of a 97-year-old woman.  But I bet she had a few.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Family reunion

Fourteen of us are taking a charter boat out to sea to scatter Mom's ashes where she was happiest.  Haven't seen some of the great nieces and nephews for years. Last time, I was hiding Easter eggs for them, and now they're graduating from highschool, getting married, joining the army.   I wouldn't have recognized them if they had run into me on the street.  And my brothers - good grief they're getting old!  I've got some great photos - sweet sunset last night, with rainbows on the opposite horizon.  However, I fogot the camera cable.  Guess I'm getting old, too.

I had oysters for breakfast - oh yum!  And today is the time to pull out the brownies.  Fatness.  Getting the crew organized and wrangled - My posts are going to be brief and choppy today.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Counting blessings

Did you see the video of the semi truck being ripped apart by a little tornado?  It's knots my stomach every time the media runs it.  And the utter devestation of Joplin Missouri appalls me.  And yet - people are helping one another.  No one is sitting around saying, "Why doesn't the gummint DO something?  We need help"  Everyone is pitching in and doing what they can to help one another.  I hope, when it's my turn to face disaster, I can do so with such courage and grace.

I am SO glad I don't have to face tornadoes!  Or floods that will cover the entire town 15 feet deep in a toxic soup of diesel oil and sewage.  I am SO grateful to have just a day - maybe ten degrees cooler and a few centimeter's wetter than average, but just a day when I go to work and come home and nothing has happened.  What can I do to help those not so lucky?  How can I propitiate the fates to maintain my run of luck?

In our writing group, when something good happens, like getting an agent or having a poem published or something of that ilk, the lucky writer must bring chocolate.  Partially, this is to share the celebration, but partially it is a sacrifice to the muses, to keep ill-fortune away from us.  I will be doing a reading and book signing on June 3rd and feel it's time to sacrifice a bag of Lindor balls with my fellow followers of the art to please the muse and bring lots of customers in to the store.  And maybe a little bowlful of Lindor balls to give out one with each book . . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Blogger is being a bitch

Is anyone else having trouble posting comments on Blogger?  I had comments for all my regulars, and blogger won't let me post at all, or posts me as anonymous.  Even so, cat lovers should go check out Murr's blog on velociraptors.  LMAO.

Anyhow, I had so much energy yesterday that I got most of my tasks done and even went out in the yard and pulled a debris can full of weeds.  Now, my friend Lisa runs a yard maintenance service, and often fills her pickuptruck with weeds more than once a day, but I'm a fat old woman, and I'm not in training for this stuff, so I am allowed to brag a bit.  Yay me!  I pulled weeds.  And I clipped blackberry vines and made morning glory vines feel unwelcome.  Now for the moss growing on the bricks alongside the house. . . .

I have about 8 pounds of brownines.  Think that's enough for 10 grownups, 4 teenagers and a 9 year-old?  Yeah, maybe one more batch . . .

I am 2/3rds of a sleeve away from a finished sweater.  What next?  What to knit for the long weekend?  Hmmmm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thank you!

You guys are aces!  You are dear, awesome, wonderful friends and I love you with all my heart.  Those who want cookies or brownies, please file flavor requests and addresses.  Lisa, when shall I come clean your bathtub drain?  Linda, Thank you ever so for posting me on your facebook!  Now THAT'S what I call networking!  I am selling books!  Yayyyyy!!!

The brownies are coming along nicely. Evidently the universe has been checking my blog, because the local paper just published a piece about brownies and techniques used to make them.  There is baking in my plans today!  With peanut-butter chips. (? since when could you chip peanut butter?)

The wild dreams are abating, and if I just remember to keep myself hydrated, I am waking with more energy and ambition.  I even got caught up on the laundry yesterday.  OK, I didn't get everything put away, but it's washed, dried and folded. (I ain't an irionin' woman.)

There are only 7 things on my to do list, so I might even finish it today if I don't get too lost in the laptop.  Yeehaw!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

please buy my book

I am getting requests from people for the second book in the Sanna series, but Puddletown, understandably, wants to sell a few more of the first book before they take the time and money to bring out the next. 

 Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice is now available for a paltry ninety nine cents from Amazon.

You can get free Kindle software from Amazon and read Sanna off your computer.  Easy-peasy!  Fun!  I'll give you cookies if you do.  Write a review and I'll bake you a cake.  Please, guys, I'm begging here! I'll clean your toilet.  What will it take?  Please, please, please buy my book.  I'll pay you back if you want.  I really want to get the rest of the series out so people don't forget me in the meantime.  Please?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What dreams there be

I must have been running fairly short on REM sleep because my nights are now packed full of dreams!  I wake up with bits of them falling away as if I just burst through a stained glass window. The pieces dissolve as they rain down.  We were riding giant green pigs across the English channel to escape the Nazi vampires.  And there was that house on the cliff with the livingroom cantelievered out and made to bounce every time you moved. Something smelled orange to the sound of ukeleles . . .  It's fading but it was so wonderful . . . vanishing, trailing away.  I want so much to slide back under and recapture those stories, but I know that if I'm dreaming about large bodies of water, it's time to go to the bathroom.

The built-in humidifier doesn't seem to be working.  I have to call them on that.  I think that's why I'm SO groggy when I get up.  Either that, or the dreams are just exhausting me.  Yesterday was glorious, sunny and warm.  I hung up my sling chair under the apple tree and lay down in it, DH, put Fly cat on my lap, and two hours later it was time to wake up and go to dinner.  The cat and I were snoozing together in the soft, warm air, with birds yelling all around us and neither of us had bothered to stir a whisker.  Any afternoon you can nap in the sun for two hours, is a freaking good day in my book.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

recipe 4 - win!

Ghiardelli brownie mix with the addition of caramels and pecans.  I could have eaten the whole batch by myself.  Wrapped it up in saran and foil and froze it to take to the assembly.  I don't want to wait till the last minute to do the baking because when I get tired, I get careless.  Next batch, Ghiardeli mix with butterscotch chips.  I'm not wasting mix brownies on the locusts because I know the mixes always turn out well.

I got my CPAP machine yesterday.  We had a group training session. The teacher stepped out for a minute, and we started sharing information.  We each had a print-out of our sleep study results.  Most people had breathing interruptions an average of 28 times an hour.  I topped out at 37 interruptions an hour.  On the other hand, I didn't get significantly oxygen deprived, so it's not as worrisome as it might be.  Anyhow, I had my first night with my breathing buddy and woke feeling quite groggy.  The instructor had warned us about "bounce back."  The breathing problems can interfere with REM sleep, and when you start getting that necessary dream time, you can really wallow in it till you get caught up.  I would LOVE to crawl back under the covers, strap on my headset and noseplugs, and sleep through the rest of this sunny day.  It was a bit difficult to relax and fall asleep, but I'm sure the novelty of the situation will fade quickly.

Looks like today will be a glorious warm and  sunny day!  I'm going to be working indoors for 9 hours.  And I bet it will be a Slooooow day as well. We have been craving that sun for so long, everyone who remotely can, will blow off their tests till a later date.  Oh well.  I'll need to be there for the grownups.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Brownies recipe 3 - WIN!

Chocolate horsepower brownies with cherries, "Disappeared before first break.  The only critique - 'they are almost too rich.'"  So, thanks to Lisa Nowak, my family will be horsepowered for Mom's memorial.  I gotta start baking and freezing batch after batch to have them ready.  May will be over before we know it.

Tomorrow, at 1PM, when I would otherwise be enjoying our writer's group, I will be getting trained in using my CPAP machine.  No brownies, ladies.  Sorry. 

The farm report tells me that the strawberries that I adore - the Oregon "Hood" berries, will be about six weeks late this year.  The bad news is that we have to wait.  The good news is that there will be hood berries for Fourth of July!!  I intend, some day, to eat myself into a stupor on those little bites of bliss. Right after I get all the raw Quilcene oysters I can hold. (hasn't happened yet.)

It's raining a lot on the East coast.  "What's a cubit?"

Monday, May 16, 2011

Recipe 1 & 2 - moderate fail

The first brownie recipe I tried was from the 1932 American Woman Cookbook, and since I didn't know how much powdered baking chocolate equalled 4 bars, I used some high cacao eating chocolate and guessed.  They didn't turn out much like brownies, but the locusts where DH works raved.  Then I made Alton Brown's plain old brownies recipe.  He gave a frosting  recipe, but I thought it was optional.  Silly me.  The locusts prefer a sweeter brownie and needed the frosting.  DH brought home leftovers!

Now, Lisa's Chocolate Horsepower Brownies (with cherries) are cooling on the counter.  This has been the most satisfactory recipe so far.  Good quantity, clear directions, and lots of variations.  They smell divine!!

I have been quite remiss in my photos of the year of seasons.  But here is old Adam's Apple tree, sprouting for all it's worth.  Amazing the persistence of life!  I know that arborists use a variety of methods on trees.  cutting the top off and letting it re-sprout is called pollarding.  the poll is the top of the head, so I can see where this term comes from.  Then there's the practice of coppicing, where a tree is cut down, and all the shoots that spring up around the stump are encouraged.  You get long, straight, strong poles this way, suitable for hoe handles and bean trellises and cricket bats.  Things you never wanted to know - right?

Knitting continues, though I don't deserve that it should. I'm working on a sweater. took it to work, and forgot it.  And I had to have something for the May meeting of the Portland Purls, so I quickly grabbed some oddballs and began a perfectly mindless triangle.  I ran out of yarn here, and discovered that it makes a nifty  little scarf.

Well that was so much fun that I made another.  Green is not my color, but they'll go in the box for the orphans.  Quick and cozy.  Would you buy a used car from this shifty character?  Hell, would you accept a drink of water from her?  She doesn't look trustworthy to  me.                                                                                                               

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I promised to bring brownies to the memorial service we are having for Mom end of May, so I am trying different recipes.  Doncha wish you lived with us?  Anyone in the area want to volunteer as a tester?  There will be about thirty mouths to feed, (counting each teen-aged boy as three.)  The recipe from the American Woman Cookbook  (1932) calls for squares of baker's chocolate.  What sort of accurate measurement is that?  Alton Brown wants me to weigh everything - even the eggs.  ultra accurate measurements!. Lisa Nowak, the superb writer of young adult fiction with a stock-car racing setting, (Wide Open) makes "Horsepower Brownies" with cherries.  That's the next recipe to try. I can always take the easy road and pick up some box mix at Costco, then add goodies to it.  Chopped up peanut butter cups.  Chopped up caramels and pecans.  Chopped up peppermint patties. Butterscotch chips.  cinnamon.  What's your favorite variations?

I am writing in the kitchen with the laptop balanced on an open drawer so I don't get all lost in the words and let the baking burn.  I might try this more often.  Writing in different locations sort of freshens and sharpens the focus.  I know a treehouse I want to borrow.  Poetry from a treehouse is bound to be fun!

DH is feeling Russian -Quite Shitsky.  He went to bed at five and except for a couple passages to the bathroom is there still.  Cold, achy, and fatigued.  Hope it's just exhaustion.  That we can fix.

Wednesday I go in to pick up my CPAP breather.  Life is just one new adventure after another, but everyone who has gained a breathing buddy tells me it makes a huge difference, so look out world, I'm ready for a comeback.

Friday, May 13, 2011


 I finished my traveling knitting, thanks so much to the kindness of Willow and MammaMia!  This is another of the bamboo and tencell scarves I have fallen in love with.  Teresa Ruch dyes the yarn, and my hands have fun, fun, fun playing with it, and then the finished scarves snuggle up so nicely to my throat.

I had this notion of makinag a cowl with mitered squares joined in a spiral so there was one corner loose at the start and one corner loose at the finish.  AS with many offspring, it was charming in conception, but not so satisfactory in actuality.  So I declared one edge the outside, and grabbed my crochet hook.(Yes, I am also conversanat with the dark arts of crochet.  I ave many skills.)   I worked ch3, skip 1, sc  all the way around.  Next row was ch4, sc in loop all the way around, and then ch5, sc in loop till the yarn was gone.  It made a nice frill.  It's wearable, but I just don't love it.  Maybe if I add some beads.  I'm easily distracted by shiny things.
Here's a closer up of that basic unit, the mitered square.  Cast on 15, place a stitch marker, and cast on 15 more. *Knit to the stitch marker, slip it. Knit the next two stitches together. Knit to the end of the row.  Turn.*  Repeat till there is one stitch left on the needles. 

Counting that stitch as 1, pick up 14 more stitches along the edge of the square. Place stitch marker, cast on 15 more stitches.  Continue as for first square.  Repeat till there are 12 squares. Next square, pick up 15 stitches along the side of the square, place stitch marker, pick up 15 stitches along the top of the first square.  make a second row of squares picking up along the edge of the square just knitted, and the top of the square below.  Cut yarn and draw end through final stitch.  Sew in ends.  Wear or embellish as you please.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

AssWatch Wednesday

DH and I were in this lovely pub in Vancouver, having lunch, and I notice the bartender had a nice southern exposure, so I said, "I'm going to ask the beertender if I can take a picture of his backside."  DH, being the wonderful man that he is, said "Go ahead."

I went to the bar and he came over, smiling kindly at me.   "I would like to ask you to do me a favor," I said tohim, lying cheerfully through my teeth.  "I belong to a knitting group.  We call ourselves'the Bad Grannies.'  Whoever posts a picture of the best bum on Ass Watch Wednesday gets free Margaritas at our monthly meeting.  May I take a picture of yours?"

Looking quite puzzled he said, "There are some really interesting bums out on the street."in an American accent.  Then the penny dropped.  He blushed.  "Oh, you ARE bad Grannies!"  Then he turned and flexed obligingly.

I didn't even tip him.  What a BAD granny I am!

Monday, May 09, 2011

lost my - - - round things - you play with them on the ground - -

- -Marbles! Yes, I've lost my marbles. I've lost everythiing in the unpacking, including my will to laundry. I spent an hour on my knees scraping cat shit off the floor because I wouldn't allow our cat-sitter to deal with the temper tantrums of the crap-weasles who wanted to punish us for going away. Next time - corks all around! BAD kitties!

At the Pan Pacific Hotel, they took care of you.  They even changed the rug in the elevator every day so you knew when you were.  Now I have no idea what time or day it is.
  We rolled out at five AM and caught our 6:40 train, got settled and admired the high class graffiti those polite Canadians have.  The rudest word I saw was "Crap" in shades of pink and burgundy with silver highlighting.  And "Kemel is a winker," or perhaps it was "wenker"  Hard to tell with that elaborate multi-colored script.  Mostly it was just names.  I think.  

This is a view from our train window.  The train trip was so delightful.  We were in business class, so we got the wifi and electric outlet, and very comfy seats.  If you take this train, be sure to ask to be on the water side of the carriage.
When not enjoying views of Puget Sound,  we enjoyed pastoral scenes.

But mostly it was water.
Lots of water and lots of clouds.  Occasional sun, but mostly clouds.
And trees coming into leaf.  It was soporific.  DH and I napped.  So did everyone else on the car.  Soooo peaceful.

As we were coming in to Portland, it was a delight to see the West hills leafing out between the evergreens.  It's so verdant here!

We just caught the light rail and jumped on without buying tickets.  So DH, being the honorable man that he is, bought the tickets when we arrived.  I love him SO much!!

We stopped for food on the way home, dragged our suitcases and weary carcasses through the door at 5PM, and I was headed for the bath within half an hour.

So today I get to come back to reality.And why didn't I think to throw out the chili and hoagy rolls before we left?  I don't know whether to scrape or comb them.  On the plus side, our cat stitter left us Mother'sDay balloons! And it was so good to be back in our bed with our kitties again.  I have had three furry shadows purring at me all morning long.  Guess I can forgive their shitty response to being left at home.  It's not like we'll take them next time, but I can forgive them this time around.

The October cruise is booked already.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Home again, home again, clickety clack

AmTrak runs a  decent operation.  We got our tickets processed, our bag checked, our seats located and we are now on the last leg of the journey.  (The trip from the trainstation to the car park will be the ankle of the trip, and the drive from the carpark to the house will be the final toes - right? "And this little piggy has to stop at the grocery store to get something for lunch tomorrow, and this little piggy needs to feed the cats, and this little piggy is going to bed!")

We spent a great deal of yesterday hanging out in the room.  The view was fantastic!  we could watch the rain and hail squalls march across the harbor.  The snow-covered mountains played hide and seek in the clouds.  Boats and seaplanes and freighters came and went.  The hotel provided binoculars so we could check out everything in greater detail.  Seagulls and ducks and one grumpy pigeon flew past the window. At sunset, someone fired a cannon in the park across the way.  DH's back is better. 

Not expecting a bathtub, I hadn't packed bubblebath, but the hotel provided L'Occitane bath foofoos, and lemon verbena shower gel makes marvelous bubbles in the tub.  I took both bars of soap, as well as the mini shampoo and conditioner.

Oh wow!  We just passed a bald eagle sitting in a tree by the track!  If you take the Vancouver to Seattle trip, you need to make sure you're in the side by the water!!  It's lovely under today's heavy clouds, and on a sunny day it would be stunning!  There's the ocean!  there's the ocean! Wow, oh wow!! 


 DH on deck during one of the last sunny spells.

 Roxie all ready for the formal dinner.  I wore the one black dress to all four dinners with different accessories and felt quite smart!
 A happy towel animal awaiting or arrival back in the room.
 A quadraplegic octopus.
 Roxie blogging in private nook.
 We went up to the prow on the top deck and found that they had put up windshields.  I'm Queen of the world!  (And really, this is one of the foxiest figures among the passengers.)

Aren't these fancy plates?  It's the china for the elite dining room.  I think you can buy the china on line, and I may just do so.  Just a cup and saucer.  and maybe a desert plate.  Maybe. 
And so to Victoria:  I wish I could have gotten pictures of our approach to the city.  We sailed down the strait of Juan de Fuca with Washington state to the south of us and Vancouver Island to the north of us, both playing peekaboo through the fog.  It was like a scene out of Lord of the Rings with mysterious adventures just out of sight.

Now many years ago, we met Jim and Margie on a cruise, and began to e-mail one another. We have a great deal in common. Worst of all, we find the same things funny and have inexhaustible supplies of jokes. So when DH and I learned that our ship would dock in Victoria, we let Jim and Margie know. And being the gracious, generous, warm-hearted people that they are, they took time off from work to meet us at the dock and take us to their favorite pub , then back to their home for an afternoon that was the highlight of our trip. We’ve done tea at the Empress and the horse and carriage tour of downtown Victoria and Butchart Gardens and all the other touristy stuff. We wanted the native’s view of the city. Words can not express how much we enjoyed ourselves. We saw where Jim works and the gorgeous drive he takes to and from through the farms and woods. We saw 6 deer in the woods. Jim saw a blackbear on his drive home one day. What kind of city tour would take you where you would see deer standing among the trees beside the road? We had lunch at Margie and Jim’s favorite pub, then went to their home where we met their darling dogs, and their quite awesome cat. We drank beers and talked and felt like we had known them forever.

And then DH’s back went out on him. So we bundled him back to the ship. I fed him a couple
Tylenol PM, he got a sandwich from room service, took a really hot shower, and went to bed. Today we dock in Vancouver and disembark. He feels better, but dopey from the drugs. We disembark at 9 and can not check into our hotel until 3. We had planned to check our bags at the hotel and just walk around for 6 hours, with occasional pauses for tea and lunch and maybe a half-pint of the fiercely drunken Canadian beer. Now - well. Ideally he would lie down and sleep most of the next 24 hours, then at 4AM we would rise, dress, and catch a cab for the train station. I would hope to get him adequately mended befor that 9 hour train trip. We’ll just have to hope for the best.

Later:  Squeeee!  Hoping for the best can turn out better than you can imagine!  We got off the ship and walked over to the hotel to see if we could leave our luggage till checkin time.  The clerk at the Pan Pacific said, "Well, since you are here so early there are some very nice options I can offer you.  For $$ I can upgrade your room to the 23rd floor with free wifi, free breakfast, free evening hors d'oeurves, free access to the fitness center, and we can let you have the room immediately."  Well - yeah!!  The view is awesome. the room is spacious, and there's a bathtub!!

We can watch seaplanes landing and taking off.
The view is sublime, clouds or not.  There's a chevron station just below the center of the photo.  One of the women sitting next to us in the customs line was asking, "How can the cars get out there?" 

Friday, May 06, 2011

coming in to Victoria

The connection is vastly better and I can try a longer post without fear of being dropped.

Two days at sea has left me blissfully relaxed. The cruise ship is huge, and fully equipped with stabilizers, and even the rough water just produces a little rocking. We moved through a storm front with 50 mph winds, ten foot swells and serious whitecaps, and all it did was make people sway and stagger as they walked along the hallways. DH, who gets seasick on a damp bathmat, is perfectly comfortable. And I frankly love being rocked on the cradle of the deep.

One disappointment we have encountered is that they have oversold the thermal suite with the warm ceramic lounge chairs and the mineral bath pool. They have put a twenty minute limit on the lounges, and the pool often is as full as the local public pool on a hot August day. We have gotten to use the lounges only once since we got on board. Probably won’t invest in the spa pass next time around. Not getting our money’s worth.

But we have booked a room for the October re-positioning cruise. This is soooo addictive! Anyone want to join us? It’s excellent value for the investment. Heck, just in food expenses alone, we’ve gotten our money’s worth out of the fare. And again I say, travel while you can! There are so many folks on board with their wheel-chairs and oxygen tanks who are too old to digest the glorious meals and too infirm to do much more than play bingo.

There is a squad of leather-skinned ladies who stake out the lounge chairs by the pool about 9 AM, and spend the whole day in their matronly swimsuits, basking under the glass roof, reading and napping. I can see them 30 years ago as bikini-clad babes and trophy wives, and having found a gig that works for them, they have stuck with it. These are gals who wear diamond bracelets and earrings at the pool.

Then there are the gals who feel that, when it comes to makeup, more is more. Scarlet lipstick feathering out into the wrinkles around the mouth, full foundation and heavy powder, blusher applied with a lavish hand, lots of frosty blue eyeshadow, thick black eyeliner, and false lashes out to here! And when our vision starts to go, the symmetry and blending suffers.  I've seen a woman with one eyebrow (I suggested she might want to check her makeup in the bathroom.)  And any number of beldames with blush painted on in random, unmatched swatches. Luckily, the men they hang out with don’t see any better, so the gals probably look just fine.

Speaking of makeup, one of the receptionists at the spa had a striking look yesterday. She has skin the color of good milk chocolate, and that gorgeous blue-black hair that Asian and Indonesian women are blessed with. Her makeup was subtle and understated except for her ruby red eyelids. It was not unattractive. Dramatic and arresting, but she had the bones and the poise to carry it off.

And one of the passengers I met yesterday had her silver hair streaked with blue, teal and purple. It was PRETTY. Wonder if you can get a temporary treatment to do that? Bet I could carry off a few blue streaks.

Today, we dock in Victoria, BC for several hours. DH and I will meet our friend Jim and his wife and see Victoria with a native guide. Having already done tea at the Empress, I’m looking forward to a pub experience. But I must remember that thte Canadians put alcohol in their beer, and moderate my intake accordingly. Compared to most of the other passengers on board I am feeling like quite a hot number, but still, no one wants to see me dance on the tables.

The nice thing about the Holland America cruises is that DH and I are the youngsters.  One way to feel like a kid again is to hang out with people who are 20 and 30 years older.

The knitting is going gangbusters.  I had an inspiration for making a cowl with mitered squares and oh it's working!  Woohoo!  Photos to follow.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Day at sea

It has taken me 37 minutes to get on line because the sattelite keeps dropping the connection.  but you guys are worth it!

How to spend a day at sea.

1. Loiter.

2. Linger over breakfast, chatting with the lovely new friends you just made (a retired California lawyer and his well-kept wife, a retired accountant, and his still accounting wife)

3. Look through the shops.

4. Take a couple of Laps around the lower deck where the wind isn’t quite so brutal.

5. Loll in the hot tub

6. Lunch

7. Lounge in a secluded window nook working on the book while DH gambles a bit (he’s $40 ahead so far)

8. Libations with DH by the covered pool, appreciating the sun roof and laughing with the people playing cruise-ship pool games.

9. Ladies take longer to dress for formal dinner. Time to start

10. Luscious dinner (I had the veal chop, DH had the prime rib.)

11. Leisurely stroll through the public areas, enjoying all the party clothes and happy people.

12. Early to bed. We have another equally busy day tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Embarkation, first morning at sea!

Sweet Mary Rose brought me knitting needles and a crochet hook but was able to spend only a few minutes talking with us. Embarkation was swift and simple which was a darn good thing because neither of us got much sleep the night before. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Bayside, right across from the cruise ship dock, about two blocks from the train station. Uncomfortable bed, frequent trains, and about four AM the attack and defeat of the ahhhoooo bay monster. Heaven alone knows what made that haunting noise, but it woke both of us from the closest we had gotten to a sound sleep. Needless to say, we will find someplace else to stay next time.

The Oosterdam, our cruise ship, is glorious. We are trying an inside cabin for this cruise because it’s too cold to enjoy a balcony, and inside cabins are soooo cheap that it covers our 4 day pass to the thermal spa. The thermal spa is a room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the ocean with six ceramic lounges that have hot water pumped inside them. The effect is that of lying on warm rocks, while the ocean unrolls before you. Soft music plays in the background. Every so often, someone opens the door to the eucalyptus steam room or the citrus steam room, and a gentle scent wafts through the air. I could live there for days I think, but there is also the mineral pool with jets, high intensity showers, and an underwater lounge with air jets. It’s profoundly luxurious.

Our room is compact, but we manage quite nicely. We discovered that we have assigned seating. I have one (1) dinner dress with a variety of toppers. I figured that no one would ever see me twice. Oh well. Our table companions are a charming couple from Vancouver, originally from South Africa, and will be much too gracious to comment on the fact that I’m wearing the same damn dress every night with different accessories. After all, both DH and I have packed for the whole trip in one suitcase, with a knapsack for the laptop and electronic chargers. There’s a limit to how much you can pack and how much you want to wrangle a herd of luggage. Less is more.

I’m not going to be posting pictures while we’re on ship because it’s a dial-up connection, and they charge fifty cents a minute. Any photo requests for posting when we get home? Roxie standing with her back to the prow and her hair blown into an imitation of an enraged, attacking duodecapus? (twenty legged octopus)

DH lying by the pool on a lounge chair under the glass roof, warming his belly in the sun? A nice shot of our cozy room with towel animals on the bed awaiting our return from dinner?

Two more things I have to share before I close. I had a massage last night with Thai and Chinese herbs in a heated poultice that I get to keep and it was the best massage I have ever had in my life!

And for breakfast this morning, I had the Japanese breakfast with grilled salmon, white rice, and hot miso soup. YUM!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Bless you sweeT Mamamia!

Willow reads my blog.  Willow has a daughter who lives in SanDiego.  Said daughter (Mamamia) is going considerably out of her way to bring me a crochet hook so I can finish my scarf!  Are knitters the most wonderful people in the world or what?   Mamamia and her momma Willow are saints!!

Here's a picture of our ship - Holland America Oosterdam.

And here's a picture of the rear of the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier from WWII which you can tour.

DH and I walked about a mile in the lovely cool morning air to a restaurant he read about called Richard Walker's where we feasted sumptusously.  I had a cinnamon and pecan pancake, DH had a strawberry wafffle.  Yum!

The city of SanDiego has sculpture all over the bayfront.  In the "Greatest Generation" Park we saw a statue of the iconic sailor kissing the nurse at the end of WWII.  Other sculptures along the way run the gamut from classical marble nymphs to the turkey carcas on a stick sort of abstractionism done in rusty rebar. 
On the way back, we came through the Sea Village shopping center and spotted, in a pond, this happy family on an outing!  Ooooo - baby duckies!

 I may not be blogging from the ship because the wifi is not reliable.  Pictures and more to come later!

But This has been a glorious morning!

Monday, May 02, 2011

in San Diego

 So wed got up dark and early to catch the gteat silver bird.  On t  he drive to the airport, i whipped out my knitting.  All was well.  We parked and got on the shuttle.  I pulled out my knitting again.

Look carefully.  What is wrong with this picture?

My thrice cursed all nylon circular needles Freaking BROKE!!  And of course i didn't bring a spare.  Who expects all nylon needles to break?

Undaunted, by God, I carried on!  As the pen is several sizes larger than the needles, I am getting a very interesting fabric.  But eventually, the work has gown too large for the pen to hold it all.
We landed, and began the search.  found the hotel with no problem.  I can tell we're in So. Cal.  The sky is blue.  The air is warm.  DH and I both had to shed layers immediately upon landing.  And the bright thing is fierce in the heavens.  Moreover, they have these silly trees that look like they were  crafted by a Hollywood set designer with a crate of green ostrich feathers and too much sangria on board.
Next to the train station is an walkway which is a illustration of perspective in action.  They are growing bougainvilla on it.  I am blown away!  If they tried something like this in Portland, the slugs would devour it in a week.  Bouganvilla, though quite lovely, just doesn't seem like a real flower.  I would not be surprised to see it on the racks at JoAnnes or Michaels with the paper daisies and silk orchids.
We hiked around the bay-front and the gaslamp district, savoring the sun, the cool breezes, the interesting views, and all of life's rich pagent.  DH explains that there are more odd souls here than in Portland because they don't freez in the winter. 
But search as we might, we did not find a set of knitting needles.  Nor did we find anything resembling them.  Nor a crochet hook.    DH says that if there's anyone in the neighborhood who would be willing to come to the Bayside Holliday Inn with a set of knitting needles (Size 8 or so) we will buy you dinner.  The boat doesn't leave till 1 tomorrow, so if that would work better, we will buy you breakfast.  Call me  503-652-9025.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sunday afternoon

The most soporific two words in the English language are "Sunday Afternoon."  DH and I are loungingin the unaccustomed srping warth on our back patio.  He's reading the paper.  I'm lollygagging my way through blogs, and trying to identify various lawnmowers by their song.  To the north of us is the manly, full-throated throb of a Briggs and Stratton.  Across the street, the modest hum of an elderly Sears electric.  From the next block, two John Deere's are competing for the interest of a weed whacker and ... what's that?  Can it be?  I never thought I'd hear that again but I guess that, like the bald eagle and the timber wolf, they are making a comeback from extinction.  There's the alluring "whick, whick whick.  Whickwhickwhick whick, whick." of a reel mower!  One of our tree-hugging liberal neighbors is actually putting his beliefs into action.  I feel like taking him lemonade and cookies! 

We, on the other hand, use a gas-guzzling, air pollutiong Honda.  But we make up for it by not using it too very damn often.  With the spring we've had, you pretty much had to put the lawn mower on floats.  Run it over the low spot in the yard and the engine floods out.  Not that I'm complaining.  Rain is nothing compared to tornadoes, snow storms or brush fires.  And this morning I rejoiced in one of the delights of living north of the 45th parallel.  The sunrise wanders around all year long, and today I saw that it's shifted well to the north!  In the winter, it rises south of Mt Scott. (a local alluvial mound.)  Summer, it shifts clear north of it.  For some reason, the fact that sunrise brackets the hll over the course of the year just pleases me no end.