Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Royal Clipper

We spent spring break aboard Royal Clipper, pictured here without her sails (but shown in my previous post with all of her sails). It was a wonderful vacation, and I'll take a couple of posts to tell about it. We flew into Bridgetown, Barbados, on Saturday the 21st, and boarded Royal Clipper soon after. A welcome party was going on and we took some time to have a cold drink and some goodies, to explore the main decks a little, and then went to our cabin to unpack and have a nap. We settled in for a week of adventure and pampering!

We were under full sail power approximately 40 percent of the trip, and the engines were used to help us along. One night the winds were strong, and the sails were all taken down. We really were rocked to sleep that night!

I could have taken a hundred pictures like this. I'm not really a sailor -- that's Joe's thing -- but being aboard a tall ship is different from being on a Day Sailer. The sails were huge and majestic; I think there were 30 or 40 of them. Joe would know for sure.

Royal Clipper holds 220 passengers, but on our week there were just 149 aboard. Each time we would sail out of a port, there was a magnificent ceremony of raising the sails, with beautiful music in the background. We never missed the sail away time -- sometimes it was late at night with stars and moon in the background and other times the sun was setting as we pulled out. Either way it was just gorgeous.

We visited a different island each day. All but Barbados were volcanic islands and hence they were mountainous. (Barbados is much more flat; it is a coral island.)

We visited St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Guadeloupe, Antigua, and Martinique. They looked pretty much the same from aboard ship, although some of them had distinct personalities.

Most times we anchored off the shore and rode small tenders onto the beach, but in Barbados and Martinique we pulled up to the harbor and used the gangway. The daily departure time was announced several times -- the ship had a schedule to keep and no one wanted to leave a passenger or two behind. We never did.

Our cabin was small but elegant with comfortable bed and a pair of portholes. I didn't get a photo of our marble bathroom, but it was much more pleasant that my bathroom at home (though a bit smaller!).

There were storage compartments everywhere in the cabin. Our stewardess visited twice each day to tend to the cabin and provide fresh towels as needed.

We were amused to find a different towel animal on the bed when we returned to the cabin each morning after breakfast. The first was a snake.

Unlike typical large cruise ships, there were no casinos and no major entertainment. Evenings on deck featured a fashion show from the sloop's shop, a karaoke night, a talent night, and other low-key entertainment.

During the day, there were tours of the engine room for those who were interested, mast climbing, snorkeling and other water sports. Each day there was a beach for people to visit, and one day lunch was served as a beach barbeque.

Most of the ports featured optional shore excursions, and we took advantage of several of them. Everything was outlined in a daily bulletin that arrived at our door around teatime.

We had a wonderful time.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

All Is Well

Thank you to all of you who have checked up on me.

Everything is okay (major understatement) and I am fine (second major understatement).

Details to follow, sometime on Monday or Tuesday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dignity, Anyone?

Nicole has an interesting post today and it somehow connects with my recent experience with Facebook. It is about an "Oprah" broadcast where her squad of invasive declutterers "helps" unsuspecting people who have tidiness issues.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would (a) allow total strangers to come into their personal space and weed through their possessions and (b) want this exposure to be seen on national television.

I suppose it is for money.

I have skimmed a couple of other "reality" television programs, where people swap a member of their household for a week, where they let a crew of "professionals" rifle their closets and mock their clothing, where they live among a group of strangers and collaborate on projects amidst the exaggerated interpersonal difficulties that crop up.

I don't choose to watch much television, but sometimes I'm exposed to it under circumstances that are more or less beyond my control.

Once in a hospital waiting room the TV was set to a program where a host was interviewing a family. The mom was morbidly obese and slovenly and she was screaming about why shouldn't her adult children assist her with toilet functions -- after all, she had changed their diapers when they were babies.

A couple of weeks ago at the place where I occasionally have my nails done, "Dr. Phil" was featuring a woman whose high-school age daughter had left home and was living as a prostitute. Yes, the daughter was on the show as well. The two guests argued, cried, and emoted while the host acted as an ineffective intermediary.

Fortunately, I've blocked out other examples.

"Too Much Information" has been a theme for me recently, and these television programs fall into that category and introduce another element: Dignity, or rather the lack thereof. I assume all of these people are paid mightily for exposing themselves, for what should be humiliating experiences. And that strikes me as terribly sad.

All at once, I'm feeling really old.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Joanne's Great Stimulus Package

Well, what do you know! Floribunda has written about a most amazing offer by a new long-armer, Joanne.

In a selfless effort to stimulate the economy (which puts me in mind of Kim, who for a long time was "saving the nation's economy, one box of fabric at a time") Joanne is offering a half-price sale on machine quilting. You can read all about it here.

Between following Kim and following Joanne, no one will be as patriotic as I!

Too Much Information!

Cautionary Note: Rant to follow.

I've been on Facebook for six weeks now. I wasn't certain about it when I started, if you remember. I've checked in with the site a few times each week, but haven't done much more than that with it. I've pretty much decided not to have anything more to do with it.

It's all about TMI! Too Much Information! I don't need to know that FL is about to take a bath. I don't want to know that RT called in sick at work when she wasn't. These are some of the things on "walls."

One "friend" sends me things on a daily basis: virtual candies, religious tokens, holiday observance paraphernalia. This is a woman I barely knew when I was acquainted with her and I haven't seen her in five years. And I'm not the only one she's gifting -- the home page shows me that she's sending all kinds of things to all kinds of people! She's employed full-time in a stressful job, has a workaholic husband, and three little kids. What the heck is going on with her? (rhetorical question)

Then there are the memes. I've pretty much avoided memes in the blog world. They are rampant on Facebook and I've totally avoided them there. I don't want to answer twenty or more questions about my first pregnancy -- was it planned? Did I get the gender I wanted? Holy cow. Is nothing too private to ask? To share? With 81 close"friends"? What happens to a girl who reads her mother's meme and finds out that not only was she an accident, but mom really wanted a boy? There are all kinds of these memes. I took a look at one I was asked to do -- I don't care how many pillows LF has on her bed. I don't want to think about why she has so many, either! I feel like a voyeur!

There are folks who do not seem to realize that once they are "friends" with someone, that person sees everything that they write in their "status." And that some of it is inappropriate for different audiences! The home page today showed me that a young man from my church said something terribly offensive about a fellow with Down syndrome. I didn't need or want to know that he'd said that.

In the interest of keeping irreversible decisions to a minimum, I'm not going to close down the account. Someday I might find a good reason to want to use it. But as for now, I'm going to go weed out my "friends" and delete those who really aren't. And then leave it all alone and get back to sewing!

Oh, and PS: Don't even talk to me about Twitter!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I've mentioned previously, I think, that Joe and I are not aficianados of opera. This seems odd, because we subscribe to the Philadelphia Orchestra and never miss an orchestra night when we're at Chautauqua. We like the instrumental versions of opera, but don't attend performances.

Besides Wagner's opera music, the music from "Carmen" has always been a favorite. I always turn up the radio when the Bizet's Suite is playing. Unlike people who actually go to the opera, I don't envision scenes from the performance when I hear the music.

Just to show you how old I really am, for a long time I would see scenes from the original, Walter Matthau version, of "The Bad News Bears," which used the Carmen music as the background. It was a fine movie, and the music was perfect.

Then in the late '80s, everything changed. My kids got a device that hooked up to the television and you could play games on it. It was called Nintendo, and it was foreign to me. But one night one of them said, "Here, Mom, try this. You'll like it. It's called Tetris."

My first and only insight into addiction. Tetris consumed me! I played during the day when they were at school and my work was finished. I played during the homework hour at night. I couldn't get enough of it. I would see the shapes floating down before my eyes at the most unlikely times. When I won, a wonderful selection from "Carmen" would play and fireworks would go off around the onion domes. It was glorious.

I'm not sure how it came to an end, but it did, and order resumed in our household. I note through Google that there are computer versions available. I don't dare get one: Either I'd get hooked again and chaos would resume or -- worse -- I'd discover that the charm was gone.

But golly I miss it whenever I hear that music.

Monday, March 16, 2009

[Not Really] Bodacious

Bo isn't the most affectionate cat we've ever had, nor the most sociable. He's even more aloof than other cats who have lived here. And he's not well named at all. He's the spookiest guy, terrified at the slightest sudden sound. We adopted him from the vet's office when he was about four months old; he'd been brought in with his brother by someone who had discovered the two of them living on the streets, and far too young for such a lifestyle.

This winter, for the first time in the years we've had him, he's begun climbing into my lap once in a while. He doesn't stay long, but it's kind of nice.

Tonight I found him curled up in Joe's chair, against Joe's quilt, and thought he looked mighty sweet. So I took his picture. And here it is.

Friday, March 13, 2009

My New Friend

It's been a hard winter, healthwise. I think I mentioned this before. The cough that seemed to have become as much a part of me as my freckles was so bad on Sunday night that I was in tears over it. And even THAT didn't help! Being up at night from the cough, being plum worn out from the effort of the constant hacking had taken such a toll on me. Plus the supposed remedy -- "drink plenty of fluids" -- brought problems of its own in the incompatible combination of a constant cough, lots of water, and a three-child bladder.

Saw the doctor on Monday and she put me on Levaquin (in case it is an infection) and Claritin (in case it is an allergy) and ONE of the two of them is doing its job! I still sound a little raspy in the voice and I still cough some. But last night I fell asleep almost immediately. And I had a little energy in the evening to do some major picking up and a little ironing.

Taking the Levaquin, taking the Claritin, planning little for the weekend, and hoping for the best. Thank you to those who inquired . . . .

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Foretaste of Spring

When I found out that Caeli was planning a fundraiser for the liver transplant program at the hospital where she received her gift of life, I asked how I could help. I was so impressed with my young friend's style -- no sooner was she on her way to recovery than she was planning how to keep the gifts coming to others.

We will be out of town the night of her event.

I learned about the raffle that was planned to augment the party, and Caeli's mom asked if I'd help make a queen sized quilt. Well, of course. She said that she had a lot of volunteers to make blocks; I suggested a simple block so there would be more likelihood of consistency. Churn Dash, I thought, was the way to go. So off went Cessie to the fabric store and on St. Paul's recent quilt day, she cut the fabrics and made little packets for the block makers. Sherron, Bonnie, and I made some blocks. So did many other people. Bonnie volunteered to put it all together and our local machine quilter volunteered her services. What was left was the binding, a task I really don't mind at all.

A few moments ago, I finished the hand stitching of the binding. It's a pretty quilt, and the chances are going so well that Cessie has to print up some more!

A foretaste of spring is what it makes me think of. Something all of us could use right now.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

White Oak March 2009

Our little getaway to White Oak was just lovely, cough or no cough. Honna was kind enough to drive and we were on the road by about 1:30. We stopped to shop a little bit in Bird-in-Hand and in Intercourse, and got to the Inn with time for a bit of a lie-down before Carol put out the wine and cheese.

Before dinner, I put out the glasses/rotary cutter cases I'd made. Rob filled his with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver. After the tables were cleared, we settled in for some serious sewing. I had some blocks to assemble; I'd carefully precut everything according to the directions from the pattern (which will remain unidentified for now. The block was a little bit on the complicated side and I was pretty chagrined when I found out that the three different components in this 9-unit block all turned out to be slightly different sizes! Sheesh. What a way to start a weekend. So I put them away, and turned around

just in time to see Turbo showing off her first finish of the weekend. See what I mean about this kid? She's a genius. I wish I would have taken a photo of a couple of her other finishes. She and I both were coughing and taking various kinds of drugs. She was on some kind of heavy-duty codeine kind of stuff and looked a bit glazed much of the weekend, but that did nothing to deter her production or the quality of her quilts.

I really was a slacker at taking photos. Sherron was doing amazing applique and Honna finally got her Quilt for a Cure top together and Marsha was doing all kinds of things and Judy was still fooling around with snowballs and Helen was a study in turquoise and brown and Cecelia and Eileen and Nubbin were way down at the other end, each doing interesting things.

I could have taken a lot more pictures but that would have resulted in a lot less sewing!

I really was delighted to get my CW Snowballs top finished. I love how it turned out and I wanted to get a picture of it on the fence, the way Sue used to do with her quilts. I wasn't counting on the breeze.

Once this was finished and folded, I got to work on my Blooming Nine Patch. Joe and I had picked out the fabrics about a year and a half ago, and they've been sitting quietly on the shelf until now. I enjoyed cutting strips and putting little 9 patches together. The trick for this quilt is going to be finding a place to lay the whole thing out to assemble, once all the pieces are ready. We're talking about taking over Fellowship Hall some Saturday after Easter as a White Oak Reunion day -- and that's my target to have everything ready to go on my Blooming Nine Patch.

I had a really good time, cough or no cough. And yet I'm glad to be home to my honey and my kitty and my vaporizer.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Cough or No Cough

Well, our quilt retreat weekend is here and I'm going. So is Turbo. Cough or no cough. Hard to determine which of us is the sicker. Honna and I will be leaving is just a few short hours.

We'll stop a few times on the way to White Oak. I always need to go to Log Cabin on 340 and to the farmer's market across the street (they have the best cinnamon buns!). And Honna usually needs to hit Sauder's. And then for good measure, we generally mosey up to Old Country Store. Oh, it will be lovely. Cough or no cough.

I have gifts for all of the participants. Karen posted a fantastic tutorial right here for reversible glasses-or-rotarycutter cases and I made a dozen of them in very short order as favors for my friends. I used scraps of Daiwabo taupes. I wish I would have remembered to take a picture. Alas!

I don't have a whole lot of shopping planned. One thing I want to find is some Christmas fabric -- I have two wedding showers this summer with the theme Christmas in July and I thought perhaps table runners (they always have cute table runner patterns at Log Cabin) or aprons were in order.

I've packed an assortment of possible projects. And my cough medicine.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Gift for a Friend Once Removed

Awhile back, my friend in Ohio wrote me about a friend of hers. That friend was getting up there in years, was using a walker to help her get around, and persisted in trying to carry things at the same time. It was making my friend nervous. She wondered if I could make some kind of a bag to hang on the walker so that her friend could ambulate more safely, while hauling her whatever along.

I dragged my feet a bit. I interviewed patterns on the internet, finally settling on one from about.com. It wasn't the best pattern, mainly because there were no illustrations for the steps as we went along, just a blurry photo of the finished product. It called for two layers of cotton and I thought it would be sturdier and would support a little more weight if I put in a layer of batting. My friend Kathleen put the buttonholes in for me yesterday and tonight I sewed shut the turning seam, sewed on the buttons, and gave it a good pressing.

The main part of the bag is inside the yellow and is pretty spacious. For convenience, though, the outside of the bag has six pockets in the blue fabric, three on each side. I made one narrow enough to easily hold a pen. I made a little bonus glasses case to match.

And we're good to go.

Ladies, start your walkers!

Sick Again

I've been quiet so long because I'm sick again. And at this point, I'm cranky about it. I started with a cold November 1 and the cough lingered into the last week in February. Interspersed with a 3-1/2 day bout early in February with the vomit plague. Early last week it seemed as though I was finally feeling okay. But Himself got a cold, and close family that we are, now I have it too. Started on Friday night with coughing and congestion and as of last night it involves spells of too hot vs. too cold, runny nose, sneezing, and, of course, the cough.

In the total scheme of things, it's a cold. It's not cancer. It's not tuberculosis. It's not any number of other dreadful diseases. It's a cold. Another cold. With another cough. It's been a trying winter for me, healthwise. And I'm feeling a tad discouraged.

'Nuff said.