Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Revenge of the Pirate Lobsters

Okay, so I have been thinking back on our cruise and specifically the part about the lobster line becoming entangled in the propeller of our massive ship. And, yes, I have determined that it seems pretty far-fetched; one could even say "sketchy." Here is what is making me suspicious ...

Starting in Bar Harbor and continuing through Saint John and Halifax, we saw thousands of lobster buoys bobbing about in the water. Now, you need to understand that a single lobster trap can hold quite a few lobsters. When you do the math, you are looking and thousands upon thousands of lobsters getting scooped up out of their comfortable, cozy ocean and ending up on someone's plate. Frankly, if I was a lobster I would be plenty pissed about this.

And, in fact, I might rally some of my lobster brethren and launch a counter strike. Think about it ... what could be better than crippling a massive ocean liner!!?? The ultimate lobster terrorist strike! I picture a gang of lobster-pirates (little eye patches in place) carefully placing the lobster line all around the blades of the propeller while our ship was resting peacefully at the dock in Halifax. You know, they have very handy and dexterous claws, so this isn't at all far-fetched. Hey, the line didn't seem to be on the ship when we sailed into Halifax, now did it?? How else to you suppose it got there? Ha.

It is only by sheer luck that we didn't go down. I'm sure of it! We thwarted those crafty little lobsters, by only by the skin of our teeth (as it were). I caution vigilance if you are traveling to lobster areas. You never know what those sneaky little bastards will get up to next! They've got those periscope eyes you know...


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The High Seas

Back from vacation and not quite sure where to start... Willie and I took a 7-day cruise from NYC up through New England and Eastern Canada. It was the most eventful cruise we've been on!

So, I'll start with a brief recap of the highlights of the cruise.

Day 1 (Saturday) - set sail from NYC in the early evening - all peaceful and we enjoyed a great dinner of filet mignon with a bottle of Brunello. So far, so good. The picture is us while we were still safely docked in Brooklyn - unsuspecting and unafraid!

Day 2 - (Sunday) at some point during the night, our idyllic sea cruise turned into something else entirely - 70 MPH winds (yes, that's "gale force" in sea-speak) and 20 foot swells. And, yes, for those who are wondering - an giant ocean liner is no protection against winds and waves! We ventured up to the top deck to have breakfast (me clutching railings, chairs, and passerby's to try to maintain balance) where the ship was swaying like a willow in a windstorm. Several bites into breakfast, Willie broke out in a sweat and turned green. We retreated to our nice cozy mini-suite to ride out the storm.

During the day, our captain, who by strange coincidence was the same captain that we had on our Mediterranean cruise 2 years ago, kept coming on the PA system during the day and evening to give us updates. In this very thick Italian accent, he kept assuring us that the "shippa" was handling well and that we were still trying to get out of the low pressure system. (As he cautioned us not to go on any open decks or balconies!) When he came on at 8 pm, he assured us that we would not hear from him again this evening. He told us the same thing at 9:15 pm. And, the next morning, when we finally saw calm seas and blue skies and the Boston Harbor - he assured us that the big crack on Deck 15 was nothing that should cause us any discomfort or concern!! Yes, folks - the damned ship cracked. That entire part of the deck was cordoned off with yellow caution tape and there was a giant metal plate bolting the two halves of the deck together.

Days 3-4 - Not-withstanding the cracked deck, this part of the trip was uneventful and calm. Enjoyed our ports in Bar Harbor and St John - managed to scarf down some fresh oysters, so yours truly was happy!

Day 5 - Nice day in Halifax... or so we thought. Things started to take a turn for the worse when we noticed at 7 pm that we were still docked (ship was supposed to set sail at 6 pm). At around 8 pm, our fearless Captain Fortezze came on to alert us that another storm was moving in AND we had a lobster line wrapped around our propeller. Well, isn't that just freaking great? Oh, and by the way, the special in the dining room was lobster. No kidding.

By the time we sailed out of Halifax, the winds in the harbor were already gusting over 30 MPH, so we knew we were in for another rough night. Oh, and did I mention, we both had come down with colds by then?

Day 6 - Another day getting buffeted about the ocean. Me clasping anything I could get my hands on to avoid falling; Willie looking a bit green around the gills. we did, however, venture into one of the restaurants aboard to have bangors and mash for lunch! And we had a very nice Chilean sea bass for dinner in the Italian restaurant. It takes more than rough seas to keep us down!

Day 7 - kissed the ground in Brooklyn upon disembarking ... in the rain.

Stay tuned for my tips on surviving a cruise with only one balance nerve... !!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Four Letter Word

Yep, that's right - a four-letter word ... SNOW. On Oct 15. In New Jersey. Was this predicted in the weather forecast? Of course not. In fact, as recently as an hour ago, when I went on The Weather Channel, they said it was raining. (It's been snowing since about noon today.) I'd like to add the weather people to the same list as the TCA people. That would be the Moron List. Apparently they don't know who they're dealing with here! I've had a brain tumor, for crying out loud - you don't want to mess with me!!!

Not only is it snowing, but my dog is wearing a giant Elizabethan Collar and a diaper. Yep, that's right big ruffly collar and diapers. Everyone wants to be me.

Now about the dog - we rescued her about 6 years ago, in 2003. At the time, she was 5 years old. She's a beautiful black, tan and white collie - pedigreed no less. What a bonus for a rescue dog (or so we thought.) Turns out that Carrie had had a sort of rough life, having been bounced around to quite a few homes in her 5 years - the end up being that she's quite anxious and insecure. In a word, she's neurotic. And, as an added bonus, she's slightly incontinent and wears a diaper to circumvent dripping.

We lovingly refer to her as "Crazy Dog" and for good reason. She practically has a nervous breakdown every time I go in the kitchen (we've never figured this one out) and really doesn't like it much when Willie and I sit in the living room and watch TV. And, that's just the beginning. A week ago, apparently in some sort of nervous fit, she started licking her front leg - before I realized it, she'd licked a raw spot on it. Yuck. So, we tried Bitter Apple spray, which is supposed to repel dogs - Carrie apparently loves it. We tried covering the raw spot with a gauze dressing (which I happen to have a supply of from last year's big brain tumor adventure) which she gnawed off. So, I resorted to a big foam collar that keeps her mouth away from her paws. Look ridiculous, but it works. Don't believe me that it looks ridiculous - see for yourself.

Carrie's mom...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Flying Petri Dish

Okay, so time to back up a bit and talk about flying. No, not the kind you do in your dreams, but kind where you are squished into a very small seat and are propelled through the air at about 400 miles per hour, all the while sharing germs with every other passenger on board. Yes, I compare it to flying in a petri dish.

Think about it. A few weeks ago I boarded a flight from Newark to Seattle, flight time 6 hours. There were NO empty seats on the aircraft. And, is it me, or are they making the seats even smaller and closer together now? Honestly, my knees were pressed into the back of the seat in front of me. I wondered if I should compliment the guy in that seat on his nice spine.

Okay, so about the petri dish reference...once the pilot cranks up the engine and "closes the main cabin door" you start breathing recycled air. Yep, recycled as in - it contains everyone else's germs. In my case, I was actually seated next to Patient Zero - hacking and sneezing the entire 6 hours. No surprise when I got sick 4 days later, was it? In the old days, I might have been able to move to a seat a little farther from the epicenter of the petri dish, but in this case, short of breaking into the pilot's cabin, I was just plain screwed.

So this got me to wondering, should we demand mandatory masks for everyone flying? Should we all be issued our own little private oxygen tents? And, while we are at it, can we please require that every passenger pass a "Proper Boarding Exam"? You know who I am talking about. The neophyte traveler who insists on standing right in the middle of the aisle while he/she rearranges everything in the overhead bin - while other passengers are stacking up behind him/her. I think that you should only be allowed one slip-up on this particular issue - if you are a chronic aisle blocker, no flying for you!! In fact, you will be required to attend "Remedial Passenger Boarding Classes." So there. And while I am on a roll - no egg salad sandwiches on the plane, please! They stink up the whole surrounding area of the petri dish.

So, what do you think - what else would make flying better?

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Memory Day

I've always hoped that when I am old and gray and sitting in the rocker, I'll have full access to my memories. And, I especially want to dwell on all the happy memories I've accumulated with family and friends.

Last weekend was definitely a Memory Weekend. My friend Ellen and I flew to Seattle bright and early in the morning - a long six-hours cooped up on a very full flight. That afternoon, we drove over to the Ballard Care center to visit our friend Lynn. When we arrived, she was sitting up in bed and had very carefully put on all her makeup, including lipstick. I am not sure why, but that just touched me in a very special way. Lynn's dearest friend of over 25 years, Kura, also flew out - and we didn't tell Lynn in advance so it was a comlete surprise when we walked in the door with Kura in tow. My golden memory of this day is the look of total surprise and joy on Lynn's face when she saw Kura come through the door. Her chin literally dropped - it was priceless.

The next day, we had planned a surprise birthday celebration for Lynn - it will be her last and we all wanted to make it something special. It was also important that it be in our own "grand tradition" with plenty of gifts, balloons, champagne and chocolate. She was totally surprised as the guest started arriving, but also delighted. Ellen and I got there well ahead of anyone else, so early that Lynn had not yet "put on her face". It was a nearly indescribable joy to watch her go through the process of carefully applying her makeup. She told stories throughout, and stopped frequently to make small adjustments or just to rest for a moment. There was something so deeply sweet and normal about this small thing - it is a memory that I will always treasure.

I took many pictures which will remind me in years to come about this special weekend - and there are also those little special moments that will just live in my memory. This is what really matters in life - spending time with those you love. Cherish your own memories, and keep making more of them.