Monday, June 28, 2010

Post 6



This picture (you might want to click on this to enlarge) post should probably go under my "Arm Meat" blog. That is where I wistfully engage in discourse on motherhood, the boys growing up, and the passage of time. This summer Boy15 (soon to be 16) is playing Legion baseball for the first time. His classmates have a strong affinity for baseball and so there were enough boys this year for junior legion team (17 and under). He has gotten to start most games at 2nd base and Pat caught him in the picture below starting a successful double play.



On Friday I drove with him to Morton for a game. It was a super hot evening, well maybe not truly that hot, but since there was no shade and no concessions, only a warm water fountain, it was pretty much a sweat and sunburn fest. Afterwards, Boy15 wanted to look around some stores for birthday presents since he will not be getting the now expected CAR on his 16th birthday. He seems okay with that. Boy15 is definitely my pro social kid. We talked the whole evening and it was very enjoyable for me and I think for him. He remembers the most minute details and we had fun reminiscing about different vacations and experiences we have had.



While Boy17 was away at music camp this week, I got at his bedroom. It seems a lot easier for me to throw away other people's belongings than my own. Above you will see a large fish pillow that Boy17 had in the back of his closet. He used it for many years on his bed, but now it is just collecting dust (and this boy is on allergy meds and shots for dust and grass, kind of hard to avoid, huh?). I've found that I can throw things out easier if I take a picture when the articles have sentimental value. So here ya go.

I attended Boy17's final concert on Saturday in Urbana where he was first chair Senior Symphonic Band on trumpet. He had solos in English Folk Song Suite. One sounded just like the melody "and a partridge in a pear tree." He did a great job and again, I could see his three fingers moving on the valves and I wondered how my little baby toddler grew up so fast. They played a wonderful piece called "Satiric Dances" by Dello Joio, which the first movement was really awesome. Very fast and eerie. Boy17 said he knew I would like that one, based on our previous discussions about music. I'm sorry I didn't take my camera into the concert hall, as the students and conductor posed for a photo op. Darn. I was in a little hurry when I arrived only 10 minutes before the start of the concert and forgot it. It was a very nice day and ride home with just Boy17 and me talking all about his experiences at camp and future plans for college.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

thanksgiving 2008?


This could be 2007. At any rate Uncle Cal and I have both aged quite a bit. Maybe if I died my hair a little more frequently and Uncle put on 20 pounds we would be back to this state. haha

Friday, June 18, 2010

I Like

Dog owners who pick up their messes even when no one is looking

Herbie's 34 flavors of soft serve

When my son gets a hit (or two)

Turning my head to the right (because my muscle strain is feeling better)

Boy22's buzz cut

Earnin' a living with summer's off

Alaska

Whoever made up the stars and moon

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 11



The fam.



Adam and the Gram

As I mentioned on Facebook, June 11 was Boy22's 22nd birthday. Also, the bday of Shia LeBeouf, whoever that is. I know 'the kids' know him as some type of celebrity, but really what self respecting 47 year old woman knows who some 24 year old punk is? I just think the name is cool, but hard to spell.

Boy22 is apparently living here this summer, as he sometimes makes an appearance between 3-5 p.m. to drink a double shot of Carnation Instant Breakfast and then disappear somewhere. Occasionally he smells money in the mailbox and miraculously appears before noon to rip open an envelope, leave it on the table, and speed to the bank. The bank of Wal-mart.

I had a job interview this morning followed by a large fat free sugar free Galesburg's best iced coffee. Ran into an old friend of Pat's who did not know who I was. Today is the 15th already. I blinked and last weekend was gone.

Boy17 found an old, but in good condition, accordion in the attic. He is now self teaching on that. Can't wait to hear his first polka.

P.S. On Stanley Park, it is 10% bigger than Central Park in NYC. The first year Kathleen lived there, Betsy visited and she thought they would take a stroll. She had to keep encouraging them to soldier on. They were not equipped with proper footwear and had already had a walk before they got there. Eventually, they learned it was 6 miles around the loop.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mal de debarquement

Immediately after we finished the cruise we rented a car to drive to Vancouver. Maybe didn't realize the toll 7 days of nonstop eating and inactivity would take on our weary bodies. Full throttle ahead, Betsy drove into Canada and contacted her old friend Kathleen from Denver University for a visit. We eventually found our hotel. A converted Holiday Inn Express with dirty carpet and gaudy fixtures and an underground gated parking garage.

After shopping at Hudson Bay Company for some "official" Olympic wear (slim pickins) we met Kathleen for dinner at a small Thai restaurant (ThangThai). Wow, the food was delicious. We ordered one appetizer and four entrees and stuffed ourselves, not quite finishing all the tasty dishes. In the bathroom, though, I swear the building was rocking. Mom and Betsy experienced it, too. I mentioned it to Kathleen, and she said the technical term is "mal de debarquement" which you can see means sickness (mal) of disembarkment wherein you feel like you are still on the boat. I had it in Denmark after sleeping a boat nightly. It happens on land, more often in confined spaces where you are not in motion. Riding in a car, for example, would not bring it on. Back at the hotel, walking in the halls, I had it bad, felt like I was walking the halls of the ship. To tell the truth, I think it's kind of cool.

After dinner we went back to Kathleen's high rise where she has a beautiful view of Cypress Mountain where the arials, moguls and short runs were skiied at the Olympics. Also, the harbor and Stanley Park, a very large public park just two minutes away from her apartment. Kathleen works for the U.S. state department and has a very nice home. She has lived all over the world and collected really nice art and furnishings. This is how I kind of imagined I would live one day in my dreams.




Betsy and Kathleen

We then took a short walk in Stanley Park. It is either the biggest, or very close to it, park in the world. The perimeter is 6 miles. Needless to say, we didn't walk that. Vancouver has the "English Garden" thing going on, along with lots of rain which makes for some very beautiful vegetation.



Afterwards we stopped by the Olympic torch site. Well, one of them. The one Gretzky had trouble lighting was actually indoors at another location, but he did light this second one in downtown Vancouver himself so that people could drive by. They are working to make it a permanent fixture so it can be lit for more special occasions. In the background, you might see the new convention center with it's grass roof.



Then it was back to our hotel to sleep and drive back to Seattle. I was disappointed to see so many homeless (or at least down and out) people on the street after dusk. Hastings Street was just teaming. I will leave you with one last photo. A view of Kathleen's apartment building and downtown from Stanley Park.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Post Script

I will just mix up the dates if I try to back track. I wanted to mention our anniversary dinner. Mom treated us to the French restaurant on the boat (extra charge) for her 52nd anniversary which she was celebrating with us instead of her husband. I had some flavorful cream mushroom soup for appetizer. Betsy and I had the lamb chops. I ordered medium rare and Betsy medium well. Hers were pinker than mine, but they insisted they gave us the correct ones. I couldn't get the fork into those puppies, let alone the knife. Tough as tripe, but plentiful (huge). I finally determined these were loin chops, not rib chops. When Pat and I prepared lamb rib chops for Easter they were delicate and soft and moist and wonderful. I'm glad I spent the extra money on the better cut. Mom had the duck and sent it back for more cooking. Then it took an hour to cut it off the bone and remove the fat. She would have preferred it thinly sliced with a sauce over the top. For dessert Betsy had a magnificent Creme Brulee. This was done right. Actually our mediocre server, Floyd from Jamaica, claimed he had made it himself. Mediocre because despite the fact he only had one or two tables he had trouble remembering the orders and wanted us to read off numbers from the menu which we needed to use reading glasses for. I had the Napoleon, a dark chocolate horribly rich concoction I could only eat half of. All in all, Le Bistro was not a success, but we celebrated 52 years of marriage nonetheless.

Later that night we went to a Chocoholic Buffet which was a big disappointment. Since we hadn't had quite enough chocolate. We couldn't find the fondue, and ended up with more gelatinus desserts than one might find in a nursing home. I never want to see chocolate again.

We had the great glasses hunt several times on the trip. This is something I think Dad is familiar with. This is where mom can't find one of her three pairs of glasses: the red Sally Jessie Rapheal's for distance, the Walgreen's reading glasses, or the Rx sunglasses. Sometimes these are worn simultaneously on top of each other.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Skaguay

It is way too hard to upload pictures on this computer, so forget it. I am down to my last 3 minutes. We had a good day in Skagway. It must have been 90 degrees before the White Pass train left. Up in the mountains it was raining and about 45 degrees. When we got back to port an unbelievable wind storm had started up. People were literally being blown and thrown into the rickety railings of the gangway. Luckily no one fell in the ocean that I know of.



This is a black bear we saw scurrying up the mountain on our train ride. Some people supposedly saw mountain goats as well, but that was way far away. At best, they looked like Q=tip ends.

We are sailing back to Seattle now. And I have a spa date. TTFN. Check back later as I will add pictures and more text when I get back Tuesday.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Cruise Notes

There are 2400 cruisers on board and another 1000 employees this Norwegian Star but I have to say it doesn't feel like it, though it is a small city. I've been waking usually between 5-6 am. and getting up anywhere from 6-7 am. At 3:15 am. I woke one morning it and was still light. I couldn't get back to sleep. Starting to feel like Al Pacino in that movie where he was a detective brought in to AK to solve a murder and he couldn't sleep. Bags under the eyes, just awful.

One night there were pictures with the captain and families and couples were all dressed for it. Betsy marveled at where women find men who 'put up with that crap.' Amen sister. The cruise has meeting times set up for Friends of Dorothy (GLBT guests), Friends of Bill W. (Alcoholics) and who knows what else. BTW, if anyone knows what the "dorothy" reference is to, let me know.

My only complaint of cruising so far is a tinge of smoke from the casino and some people smoking on the deck. We went to a mystery dinner Monday night and met some nice people. OF course, we have to call them by their stage names, Falcon, J.D. (my female husband), Tanya (Betsy's 60 year old twin sister), etc. It was fun. Some got into their characters. They had tables of eight and each table had the same mystery to act out and solve together.

Mom, Betsy and I are having a great time. Mom is using some words I don't usually hear her say. She is enjoying some humor I didn't think she would find funny. We are laughing until unspeakable things happen. Don't ask, don't tell. We have enjoyed Second City, rock bands, Name that Tune, Family Feud, Dancing with the Stars and What's My Line. I submitted an unusual job I had at one time. I then had to act it out for 30 seconds and answer questions from a panel yes or no. I did stump them with my pantomime of "Bus trainer for the visually impaired." My mom yells out in the middle of, "I'm her mother, and I don't even know what she's doing."

I ate 20 prunes in 2 days and got kind of a stomach ache.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tuesday Night

Last night was a nice evening. We had dinner at one of the upscale restaurants and Betsy ordered two entrees and two desserts. I should add the first entree, Sea Scallops and cheese grits was very small, and I did help her eat the prime rib and horseradish whipped potatoes. The evening entertainment was Second City sketch comedy and improv. We went to the family and the adult shows. It was pretty good, especially considering we are aboard a cruise ship. The theater was not nearly as full as it was for Cirque Pacific on Monday night. That show was pretty high quality as far as cruise ships go, but kind of Las Vegas-y.

Juneau

Tuesday in Juneau. I'm rushing right along here. This was the day of our Whale Watch. I fulfilled my dream right off the bat when Humpbacks were sighted not 10 minutes into our sail. This is a really lame picture, but it's my whale. We got to see a mother and her calf breaching. Apparently, this is extremely rare in Alaska because it is a mating signal and they don 't mate in Alaska. This mama was teaching her baby how to do it. No, she didn't give birth, breech, in front of us. They both jumped out of the water head first, like you see the pictures. One guy on the boat did get a picture of them: mama midair and calf all the way out of the water. Have to track that guy down and see if he will share it. It was amazing. Even though I'm not entirely sure I saw it happen. My picture is the tail of the humpback diving under. They only flip their tail when diving deep. They may not resurface for 6-30 minutes.



Also, I will show Betsy with a whole bunch of Steller Sea Lions. I say they were stellar!




Okay, this set up is not going to let me put a picture in. Damn computers.

Ketchikan


A big day of shopping in Ketchikan. Very touristy, very kitsch, but I guess that's what we want. Betsy is high fiving the bear in front of a shop that she and Mom made a big buy in, rings. They are Alaska Diamonds, something like Fool's Gold, I think. But pretty.

After shopping all morning Mom was pretty exhausted so she went back to the ship to rest before her 'Lumberjack show.' Bets and I soldiered on picking up more memorabilia and the rings which were sent to get sized. Did I mention my mom got shouted at by a Russian shop keeper? This occurred when she told him she should have bought more amber in Russia since it was so much cheaper. He then went on a tirade about how the prices have gone up and he is giving the best price in the world, and those vendors in Russia were ripping her off. It was very offensive (not the way to make a sale). The only reason we were still in his shop is because his very pretty and nice niece (Russian girls seem very dramatically made up and it just fascinates me) was engaging us in pleasant conversation.

Mom was about the last one back on the ship and we were anxiously awaiting her return (as we were warned, the ship will wave goodbye to you if you are late for departure). Turns out she got off the boat for her show and went with a girl who was holding a "Lumberjack Show" sign who directed her onto a Duck boat. The vehicle then took off on a tour of Ketchikan bordellos and zoomed into the water to see some wildlife (one bald eagle and supposedly a mother eagle sitting on her nest). Did you know eagles are monogamous for life? Isn't that interesting. Even humans don't do that anymore. No show, no lumberjack, no logs, no nothing. Mom was very disappointed in her complimentary ticket.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Day at Sea

A quick recap because 1) We are approaching a major glacier 2) I am fiendishly hungry and 3) again the internet is very slow

Sunday was a cruise day and my highlight was attending a presentation of shore excursions. After the speel, they asked questions from the lecture, and I ran to the front to answer the second question (correctly) and won a DVD of the Skagway train ride and a free Lumberjack show in Ketchikan. We all agreed mom should see the show since the trip was her treat and she is only booked for one excursion. The DVD I was thinking Uncle Cal, even though he doesn't have a DVD player at his assisted living.




Relaxing in one of the window seats along the Promenade deck. I decided I would walk the promenade 4 times/4 times a day at 1.4 miles each for a total of 5.something miles a day. Well, this only lasted two days before I gave it up. I also didn't see the inside of the gym as I intended.

We had a nice sit down dinner, one of the options of "Freestyle Cruising". I found out FC means you dine when you want. It has nothing to do with your underwear choice. One of our snobbish table mates explained that FC on NCL is "nickel and diming" you. Like they couldn't afford it! That means you pay extra for some restaurants (cover charge $10-25), Bingo ($35 a card), alcohol, even Pepsi. $50 for all you can drink pop. Ha. We'll just give it up. I did drink one can out of my in room refrigerator. This couple described the Market Cafe buffet as the "War Zone" which is actually pretty accurate and we have taken to calling it that, too.

We skipped the Frankie Valli tribute. Everyone said it was great, but we poked our heads in and thought it was pretty lame. Betsy and I attended the Newlywed and Not So Newlywed Show hosted by Candi. It was pretty funny and racey and now we know some of our cruise companions, intimately. In some cases, we know them too well. You remember the kind of questions on the old gameshow?



This is Endicott Glacier. I honestly don't remember what day this was, it seemed like further along in the journey. Betsy was most interested since Nephew11 has been fascinated with glaciers lately. The ship sent a small boat out in the inlet to pick up a piece of floating iceberg. I don't know if that is a good eco-practice, but I touched it the next day. It was just a piece of ice, which I have experienced in my own freezer before.