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, April 29, 2014

Home at last

When we got home, Pepper purred so hard I thought she might come apart at the seams.  She has been my lap companion ever since.  Laundry has been initiated.  Unpacking is sort of started.  We've been through the mail pile.  We both have crummy colds and are at something of a post-climactic ebb.  Kyle got out and about and bought necessary groceries.  I remained in my bathrobe, doing my world-famous impression of seven dwarves:  I was Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey, Achey, Whiney, and Snot.

I mentioned the decor on the ship.   Here you see the second level of the Bacchus Dining room.  The clusters of "grapes" are chandeliers of lights, each about a foot across, painted mauve and arranged in concentric tiers.  More of the grape lights are festooned across the ceilings and walls.  You can see that the railings have a vine and leaf motif.  The plates feature borders of monochrome Regency damsels --not at all bacchanalian.
Here is one of the ceiling paintings.  I was especially taken with this cherub who evidently has the sun shining out of his backside.  What an unlikely place to put a spotlight!

Disembarkation was quick and easy, and we got off quickly enough to catch an earlier train, so we got to enjoy the ride home in the daylight.
A lot of work has gone into the Seattle train station, dropped fiberglass ceilings have been removed, and former glory has been restored.  It's now a pleasant place to wait for your train or your arriving guests.

In Vancouver, spring was just getting started.  In Seattle, it was in full bloom.  By the time we got clear south to Portland, the tulips are gone and the rhododendrons are in bloom.  The  train ride was exquisite with sun and fat fluffy white clouds, and green fields full of red cows in front of tall white mountains.  I LOVE this part of the world!!
 The Tacoma Narrows bridge.  Right about here, my phone ran out of power.  but there is free wifi on the train so I got to blog and start catching up on everyone.  Boy, two weeks when you are reluctant to use the computer will really put you out of touch!

Rose took superb care of the kitties!  Thank you Rose.  It was so good to know they were happy and spoiled while we were away.

Kate Woodward wanted a fox cowl, so I knit one up for her in exchange for two teacups.  Here are the beautiful teacups she sent me, plus a splendid whie and blue mug, a purple scarf, a pewter leaf-shaped magnet, and two bars of peanut chews.  Oh MY!  Thank you Kate! Those cups are perfect!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Free wi-fi and photos from the ship.

 We are on the train home from Seattle, and business class gives you free wi-fi and electrical outlets, so at last I can do a post that doesn't cost 16 cents a minute and drops the connection three times out of five.  On our last night on the ship, the cabin stewards left us a towel ram.  Baabette was smitten!  So we left her in the cabin to canoodle while we walked around and got a few photos of life on the ship.
 One of the quiet places to sit and spend time is clear up in the bow of the ship.  As you can see, those who are young and limber can enjoy the light and views from the portholes.  The ship had arts and crafts classes every day, and ended with handing out counted cross-stitch kits which mom and her two girls are diligently working on here.  Is this a memory or what?
I, meanwhile, occupied myself with knitting.  I finished four scarves and am most of the way through a fifth.  The blue scarves are bamboo and silk.  The pink scarf is sugarcane.  I do love these miters.  No thought necessary so I can chat nicely and keep my fingers off the throats of fools.
 I had to share a photo of a small part of the chocolate buffet.  It was difficult getting a clear shot of any part of the buffet, because the crowd had descended like ants on watermelon.
As you can see, here, it was cheek by jowl and devil take the hindmost.  This was the only time I saw such fierce determination and greedy speed.   Usually, we little piggies were content to wait politely in line.
 Once on board the ship, some people decorated their doors.  Perhaps to make it easier to find the room for the children and inebriated in the party.  Perhaps because they just like to express themselves and make things pretty.
An anniversary cruise.  So sweet.

There was more formal displays of art all over the ship as well.  The stairwells were decorated with blown glass vessels.  I suppose you could have put flowers in this.
 You certainly couldn't drink from this one.  The artist exigently had a lot of fun making those blue slugs, because they were applied liberally and at all possible angles to many of the sculptures.

This kind of looks like a cookie jar with  - uh - buds?  Wolf-eel jaws? lips?

This was my favorite because the colors were pretty, but near as I can tell, it's just a big youdust'em.  And you know, people paid a  lot of money for these.  There is no accounting for tastes.

And then there are a series of acrylic mock-Monets and faux-Chagals.  I know people (Tim) who can paint way better than this.

The ship's name was Miracle.  I'm sure it was difficult to follow a theme that was not specifically religious.  The corridors were decorated with illustrations of fictional characters. The public areas were rife with Rennaissance-ish depictions of gods and damsels.

And this lady was duplicated on every set of doors on every elevator on the ship.  It took me three days before I realized she was leafing through books, rather than hoisting her skirts for reasons of her own.

And the theatre - The Phantom theatre had large bas-relief sculptures on every wall of a half-mask hearkening to the Phantom of the Opera.  The proscenium was flanked by two quasi-Jovian figures with speakers inserted between nipples and loin cloth.  The ceiling was supported by ranks of hermaphroditic figures, and the chandeliers on the ceiling were huge and vastly twinkly.  Oh, and the ceiling was painted with a repeating motif of zodiacal creatures, but not all of them.

I nearly forgot - One of the bars had huge representations of Greek athletes in the nude, but they had all been, ahem, altered so as not to offend.

OK, so this is why they make chocolate and vanilla.  One man's Mede is another man's Persian.  Just because the decor was not to my taste, it doesn't mean I didn't have fun.  I had a grand time and will be posting photos for weeks.  The staff couldn't have been kinder or more helpful. The trip was safe, comfortable and purely luxurious.  I give Carnival two thumbs up for the Hawaii cruise!

Friday, April 25, 2014

homeward bound

Days at sea, for passengers, are like ropes fastened at one end , swinging loose at the other.  For the staff, the days are ropes stretched taunt, both ends fastened securely in schedules, tasks, hours of work and hours off.  I have no idea what day it is.  With the time changes as we move east toward the west coast, I’m not even sure what hour it is.  There is a daily ship’s schedule placed in every cabin every night, but the print is so tiny that I have to put on my glasses and squint and even then I get things confused.  I, who excel at sloth, am in my element in these loose-swinging days.  I’m drifting in blissful peace, enjoying the passing experiences, eating when hungry and sleeping when warm and full.  If you want to create the comforting structure of a schedule, there are regular daily trivia contests, arts and crafts classes, and lectures. Every day I see groups of people gathered to play dominoes or cards or some game with dice.   People have their regular time in the gym and the scheduled massage or facials or mani-pedicures.  Kyle and I meet Linda and Gene most evenings at 6:30 in the dining room for dinner.  Other than that, it’s mostly a blissful whatever.
Yesterday though, we had a fixed point.  We took a guided tour “behind the scenes.”  We got to see the theatre, the galley, the laundry, the engineer’s control room, the staff and crew dining rooms and public spaces, and the bridge. Wow!  I don’t have words that are big enough. Just, freaking wow!
 I’ve been in big kitchens before, though never this big.  They have separate walk-in freezers for poultry, fish, and meat.  They have to store, keep track of and use up hundreds of thousands of pounds of food a week.  Every restaurant I have ever worked has a neglected corner hiding a freezer-burned box of tenderloins and the bosses emergency cash stash wrapped in foil and buried in frost.  Not this place fer darn sure!  Every shelf gets cleared and cleaned every seven days without fail.  There are two monster dishwashers that are big enough to clean a motorcycle if you put it on its side. There are many purposeful people going about their precisely rehearsed tasks, taking just a moment to smile and say hello as they pass.  It’s a tightly choreographed dance, and when dinner hits, I imagine it’s rather like those close-order mounted drills where the horses race headlong toward one another and then slide through the openings that materialize at just the right moment. 
The laundry rather blew me away with the speed and quantity of material they process.  They have three hundred pound washing machines.  They have a mangle where two guys stand at the front, pulling wet sheets out of a bin, stretching the sheets between them, and sliding them between the rollers.   Forty seconds later, the sheet pops out dry and FOLDED, and another guy picks it up and stacks it neatly on a set of rolling shelves.  The hundreds of pool towels are washed, dried, and run through “Towelzilla” which folds a towel every three seconds.  The bath towels are all folded by hand, but I bet they’ll figure a machine for that soon. All the laundry for the whole ship is handled by twelve people working two twelve hour shifts, seven days a week, for six month contracts.  Uniforms for the crew, tablecloths, napkins, bedding and towels for over two thousand guests.  O.M.G.
The engineer’s domain was all computer screens and monitor lights.  I sort of glazed over with the number of kilowats and mega gallons of heavy fuel oil and statistics that engineers revel in.  The second engineer was more of a showman than the first engineer.  He kept saying that the bridge was the brains of the ship, but the engines were the heart, and that means they are the most important.  He was a curley-haired, bright-eyed Sicillian, so when we left I stopped to ask him, “If the brains are in the bridge, and the heart is here, where are the cohones?”  He laughed, blushed and said, “We got them right here too!”
Staff and crew life all goes on below the water line.  We saw their dining areas and the spaces where they can hang out.  Human Resources provides on-line classes for anyone who wants it.  There are bingo tournaments and ping pong competitions and even an occasional swap-meet.  They get medical and dental care, training in their chosen job, and even counseling for personal problems.  Human Resources helps them with resumes, career planning and keeps them as entertained and happy as you can manage with people from 27 different nations who are all working ten hour shifts, seven days a week for six month contracts.
The bridge, again, was all computer screens and monitor lights, but they have a much better view and snazzier uniforms.  The captain is a charming Italian fellow who told us about the North Pacific Gyre, through which we were sailing.  It’s a trash patch the size of Texas, eddying in the middle of the Pacific.  Plastic and Styrofoam,  debris from the Japanese tsunami, abandoned boats and bits of docks.  It doesn’t cover the surface of the water in a thick layer, but you can see bits of floating garbage anywhere you look.  He was quite passionate about how bad it was.  We got our pictures taken with him afterwards.
Today, Kyle and I packed clothes we know we will not be wearing again.  Shorts and sleeveless shirts and so on.  It’s chilly today, and the staff and crew have changed from their tropical whites to their Alaska cruise sweaters.  It’s harder to get in my steps now.  When I was strolling the deck in the warm breezes, it was grand.  But from here on in we will be struggling into a stiff headwind in ever colder climes.  And if someone places a warm chocolate melting cake in front of me, I will eat it, no matter how little exercise I have gotten.  (I have also gotten the recipe for the warm chocolate melting cake.  Now if I can just find 24 ramekins, I can serve it for the ladies’ tea.   I’ll start checking Goodwill.)  So the weight watching is slipping.  I can avoid the frozen yogurt machines now, but I have discovered the gluten-free grahm, grits and rosemary bread and it is SO delicious that I have had a slice every day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Baabette writes

Baabette writes:
I have really enjoyed Hawaii.  Everyone is so smiley and friendly everywhere we go.  But people keep mistaking me for a bunny.  I guess it’s my elegant ears that confuses them.   Linda adopted a chicken from Kauai and we had a blind date but it didn’t go very well.  We just didn’t have much in common. I was raised on the herb farm, and he was raised in the jungle.  He was very nice and quite handsome for a chicken, but we just couldn’t get a conversation going.  I do have to admire his spirit of adventure, though, getting up and going to a whole different country to live.  His Hawaiian name means “Great protector of Kauai.”  It’s a lovely long name, but rather hard to remember, so Linda is trying to think of an everyday sort of name for him.  Maybe FreeRange, or Brewster the rooster.
Everything in Hawaii seems different. Even the grass is different. The sparrows look just the same as at home but they seem meeker.  Even the doves bully them.  And the heat and humidity is a whole new experience for me.  When Roxie went to the Twisted Turtles yarn store in Kauai, I got to see some wool spun from Hawaiian sheep.  It was mostly guard hairs.  They don’t need to grow a downy warm undercoat because it never gets all that cold here.  The dyer who colored the yarn was really good, but Roxie decided she needed other fibers for her stash.
Roxie keeps eating ice with syrup on it.  She calls it “shave ice” and she thinks it’s funny the way it numbs her mouth and tongue when she eats a lot of it fast.  I think it’s a way for her to get extra water into her system.  Boy, she sweats a lot! She ties a bandanna around her forehead before she puts on her hat, and within an hour it’s soaked clear through.  After two hours, it’s dripping down her back and she needs to take it off and wring it out.  Eeew, gross!  I’m lucky to be far too ladylike to sweat.
Yesterday was our last day on the islands.  Roxie has an Uncle there, so we visited with him and his new wife.  Older humans sure drive funny., and they get lost a lot.  Traffic in Honolulu is scary enough without riding in a car where the driver decides to change lanes without looking.  It was very sweet of them to pick us up and take us out for lunch, and Roxie was so happy to see her uncle again.  She really loves him, but she said later, “It’s like that joke about how I want to die quietly in my sleep like my grandpa, not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.”
Kyle started the day with a brisk 4 mile hike to a nearby store to buy bottled water for the trip home..  Kyle is a hero!  The ship has bottled water available, but it’s expensive.  And the tap water tastes sort of boiled.  It’s desalinized seawater that has been purified to within an inch of its life.  Perfectly safe to drink, but you just don’t WANT to.
Now we have five days at sea, then docking in Vancouver, BC and a long bus and train ride home.  I’m sort of starting to miss the green, green grass.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Arriving at Oahu

Good morning my darlings!  Sorry I have been less than regular with the postings.  I can't seem to sail to this state without coming down with some mysterious fever.  Yesterday, our day in Kona, I spent the whole day in bed with a fever and all the aches and whines associated.  Kyle went out and had a wonderful walk but didn't get many photos.  He did, however, get all sorts of drugs and useful nostrums for my comforts.  He is a man with his priorities straight!

The day before,Easter Sunday, we were in Kauai, and I did get a few photos.

We docked in Nawiliwili harbor, a very tricky harbor to negotiate with a narrow, twisty channel.  The pilots for this harbor earn their pay!!
Every time we go to Nawiliwili, I MUST go to the Twisted Turtles yarn store.  She has the most wonderful selection of fibers and colors.  Most are appropriate for hot weather, but still she carries wool, alpaca and cashmere because everyone has family in northern climes.

Kyle was especially taken with this notice.  And while I was in there shopping for yarn, he was going through a bowl full of pins with mottos like, "Come to the dark side.  We have yarn." and "I knit so I won't kill people."

The top skein is from the fifty%off table because, damn it, I can't resist a sale.  The next two skeins are from an independent dyer on the island.  That pink and yellow just sang my name so dulcetly!  And the aqua silk - how could I resist?

And then, there's a skein of lace weight alpaca in a blue that is perfect for Lynn Baker.  I'm going to knit her a scarf for Christmas.

One of the things you will see in Kaui is chickens.  Everywhere.  I got a photo of these Easter chickies in a parking lot. Then I walked up to them and picked one up.  I just bent over and gently closed my fingers around this downy ball of insouciance, lifted it up to eye level, feeling how fragile and warm it was.  It looked at me as if to say, "Yeah? What?" very calm and unconcerned.  Then the mother hen darted up to me looking worried and said, "Please may I have my baby back now?"  I put the little one down and he wandered off, peeping with his brothers and sisters.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Still in Maui

Baabette amidst the bougainvillea
Lamb in a banyon tree.

Today Kyle and I walked to the nearby swap-meet.  Gee we had fun.  And Baabette went just nuts.  She wanted every piece of jewelry and every dress out there.  And half of the t-shirts as well.  Kyle got 3 new t-shirts.  I got a new dress.  We got some home-made marinades and sauces, and figured the back pack was heavy enough.

 I have 11237 steps so far today. Usually I have salad for lunch, but today I had lamb and pasta and strawberry frozen yogurt.  I was soo hungry!

Now it's time for a nap before dinner. Cruising is hard work, but someone needs to do it.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Maui - photo heavy post

 This morning at 8AM we docked in Kahului on Maui.  Kyle and I were going to take the Rainforest and Waterfalls Hike.  We had paid $136 each to do so.  We got to the dock and were told that the cruise ship company had oversold the tour and there wasn't room for us.  Our money would be refunded, but - sorry - we have nothing available for your to do today.

Undaunted, we decided to make our own fun, so we walked a mile or so to the farmer's market at the Queen Kaahumanu shopping center.  Wayy cool!

These are Winter melon.  They look a lot like warty cucumbers. And in the background you can see Japanese eggplants.  There were papayas and mangoes and green onions and garlics and home-baked portuguese yummy stuff, all sorts of fresh greens, live plants, flowers, and shave ice.  Today I got PinaColada shave ice.  They gave me a gum ball in the bottom of the cup.  ;-)

For those who asked, here is Baabette in her formal wear.  You can see the pink earrings.  She was so festive!

She has been a bit of a pain lately.  She wants a pirate earring. And a date with Johnny Depp.

And, because the fibronistas asked, here is the fabric I have been unable to resist.  A jellyroll of navy to pale blue batiks.  I got these at Artistic Expressions.  I was trying soooo hard to be disciplined.

Then I found a fabric store here in Maui - I fell for a bundle of 4 fat quarters that co-ordinated with the jelly roll.  The shop is Sew Special and they are just crammed with gorgeous batiks and Hawaiian prints.  AND, they have a web site - so we can order fabric on line if we should start to run out.  (Part of my brain is saying, "You can scarcely walk through your workroom because you have BOXES of fabric stacked up on the floor!!!")

And omigawd, I found a bolt end  - a yard and quarter, that is perfect with everything else!

So we came back to the ship, had lunch, sat in the hot-tub, had cold beverages . . . I am NOT being very WeightWatching accountable.  A MaiTai is nothing but empty calories.  But I HAVE gotten in 12,003 steps and 53 flights of stairs so far today.

If only I could resist the chocolate melting cake at dinner.  Rich dark chocolate - imagine a brownie that is only half-baked so you get a little cake and then spoonfuls of warm brownie batter that is like a chocolate orgasm for your tongue.

And there is no scale available on the ship.  No way at all to weigh in.  No way to see if I am holding the line or sinking into the slow fat morass. (more ass)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Docked in Hilo

Baabette woke up feeling somewhat "seasick."   I explained that what she was experiencing was a hangover.  She says I couldn't possibly be right about that because, well, everyone knows that sheep don't get hangovers.  I told her that sheep who drink too much get hangovers.  Moreover, everyone knows that sheep don't get seasick.  Not only have I never heard of a seasick sheep, I can scarcely even pronounce it.

We pulled in to the pier in Hilo, and got telephone connection, so I was able to pull some photos I had sent from my phone.  Baabette with her pink parasol.
Baabette frolicking with a friendly towel-hound.

And here we see Roxie and Baabette relaxing in one of the deck chairs on the stern.  That was a languid, serenely slothful morning.

So, Kyle, Baabette and I got off the ship at the port and walked about two miles in to Hilo center.    It was overcast and humid and warm and I loved it.  Kyle was chipper as a mynah, and Baabette was complaining as only a sheep can.  ALong the way we spotted a couple of kittens playing in the brush alongside the road.

 In the center of the photo you can see the little grey baby peeking back at us.
And here's the tiny tiger.  They were so dear, but sooo timid.  They wouldn't even come out to play with Baabette.

We walked and walked and walked, and when we finally got into town, the first place I wanted to stop was a shave-ice shop.  Coconut, passion fruit and mango is my favorite, favorite shave-ice. My mouth and tongue were nearly frozen before I finished, but it was worth it!!

We stopped at Artistic Impressions fabric store.  I have to stop there every time we get to Hilo.  They have the most awesome asian prints and quilt kits and finished quilts that just inspire the heck out of me.  I know I don't need more fabric.  I really, really don't.  But you know how it goes.  At least I didn't buy more than I could carry.

We stopped at the farmer's market and bought 3 papayas for a dollar and an avocado the size of a softball for $2.  I love farmer's markets in Hawaii!

Baabette and I  posed on the way out of town.  I love these big wide-spreading trees!!

I wound up with blisters on the balls of both feet, so before we went to the ship, we caught a bus to Walmart and picked up bandaids, gel insoles, and, since it was just across the street from Hilo Hattie's, we also stopped in and bought a pearl.  It was PURPLE.  Oh, it's beautiful!  On the way out, this guy tried to sell us insurance.

Tomorrow, Maui for two days.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baabette writes!

Woo hoo! I mean, oh baby, call me Baabs .  I’m the ewe on the loose! We went to a party on board and Roxie let me come along.  Kyle said I couldn’t come because I hadn’t been invited by name, but Roxie snuck me in because she is wooooonderful!  And she even shared her drink with me. 

And then ---- oh and then, --- oh bleeeeeat!  We got up on stage and danced!  Woohoo!  We kicked our heels up.  We threw our hooves up, we got to SHOUT ! 

That's Roxie in the purple shirt right up front, and that's meeeeeee having funfunfun!
This is Roxie and me with the cruise director who led us all in dancing.  He was very nice and thought I was wooooonderful!
And now my head feels all swimmy and the floor keeps acting silly and I’m going to lie down for a little bit.