Saturday, December 30, 2006

Okay, the cruise posts weren't all that interesting... this will be the very last one. This is Judi, looking a little bit sassy, on the first formal evening:

First Formal Evening


Friday, December 29, 2006

Disembarking from the cruise ship

I loaded the big rolling bag into the back seat of the car.

I loaded the medium rolling bag into the back seat of the car.

I loaded my garment bag into the back seat of the car.

I loaded the small rolling bag into the back seat of the car.

"What," said Judi, "is in the trunk?"

I looked at her.

"Seriously," she said, "all the baggage is in the back seat. What's in the trunk?"

I ticked off on my fingers: "Three bags of liquor, your big New Orleans bag, the big bag with the Christmas bear in it, the laptop, your garment bag, and the box with your gowns in it. That's what's in the trunk."

Judi looked again at the baggage in the back seat: "We so  do not travel light."

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

If you don't have anything good to say...

A week ago yesterday we were in St. Kitts, and Judi found a beautiful long silk gown, in blue and silver, that fit her to a tee. She left me to stand in line at checkout while she continued shopping. When I put the dress on the counter, the shop clerk smiled and said, "Is this for you?"

I slapped my stomach. "Yes, I just need to lose a couple pounds so I can fit into it."

The customer standing behind me, an older lady, said, "The colors are good for you."

"Yes," I said. "The silver especially goes with my hair."

"That's what I was thinking," said the customer.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Important things to pack when you go on a cruise

Judi made a midnight snack out of a couple of pieces of jalapeno pizza, and woke early in the morning with a very severe case of indigestion.

ME: If you were a beagle, you could eat grass right now, to make you throw up, and then you'd feel better. But we're on a ship in the middle of the ocean, and there's not grass anywhere around.

J: That's why we should always bring a chia pet on a cruise. It's decorative in the cabin, and a convenient source of grass if you have a tummy ache.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Where I've Been

Where I've Been

What was it like? Let me just say this:

I may never sail on a different cruise ship ever again.


Monday, December 25, 2006

The Miracle Christmas Bear

This is a story about a Christmas miracle. This isn't a traditional or anecdotal story. This is something that happened to us , just last week. This story is true.

We were on a cruise (more about that later). The ship's gift shop was offering a "Christmas bear" that you couldn't buy, but was free with a purchase of $100 or more. Judi wanted this Christmas bear very much. We spent the week on the ship talking about what we wanted from the gift shop, in the way of souvenirs and things, to make the $100 we would need to get the Christmas bear. Then, last Friday, the last day of the cruise, we made our decisions and went down to the gift shop to make our purchases, only to find that...

...there were no Christmas Bears to be seen.

Judi was stricken. "Aren't they offering the bears anymore?" Her voice was sounding panicky. "What am I going to do?" She really wanted a Christmas bear.

I rushed around the shop, looking for a bear. None to be seen. But then Judi found me and whispered, "There's one outside the store. It's sitting on a ledge."

I went outside and found the bear she was talking about. I grabbed it and went back inside. Even if the promotion wasn't still officially running, I hoped for Judi's sake they would let us have this one last bear if we spent more than $100. I found a store clerk and asked, pushing the bear forward, "Are you still offering the free bear with purchase?"

"No," she said, looking up at us, "that's over," then, seeing the bear, she asked sharply, "Where did you get that?"

"Outside the store," I said, still hoping they would let us have it.

"It was on the ledge," said Judi.

And then we heard a voice say:

"That's our bear."

And standing there beside us were two women: One middle aged, blond, pale skinned, wearing glasses, a little frumpy; the other older, no glasses. The middle-aged one with the glasses was speaking:

"That's our bear. We left it on the ledge when we came into the store."

Naturally I was embarrassed. Obviously I had made a mistake. Though my heart sunk, I tried to return the bear to its owners. But the lady with the glasses said, "You can have that bear. Just keep it."

"No," I said, "it's your bear. I didn't mean to take it."

"Well," said the lady with the glasses, "if you don't want it, just put it back on the ledge, and maybe someone else will pick it up."

Say what?

After a lot more confusing talk -- the lady with the glasses didn't seem capable of saying anything directly -- it turned out that the two ladies -- Ann, with the glasses, and June -- had gotten the bear earlier in the week, but that day had "decided between the two of us" to bring the bear back down to the Grand Lobby and find someone to give it away to. But there were too many people around, and they couldn't decide who to give it to, so they left it on the ledge "for someone to find." Ann spoke in a serious and solemn tone, and continually emphasized that giving up the bear was a mutual decision between her and June. She sounded something like a New Ager, at one point saying that the bear was a gift from "us and the Universe." I said, "We thank the two of you and we thank the Universe," and she looked at June and answered, "I thank the Universe every day."

I don't know what was going on with Ann and June. They never explained why they had decided to give up the bear. But consider the coincidence: That these two ladies had a bear, decided for some reason to give it up, and brought it down and left it outside the store just when Judi and I went down looking for a bear and were there to find it. It makes one give serious consideration to believing in angels. Angels with names like Ann and June. It was a miracle.

Christmas Bear
Judi and her miracle Christmas Bear

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Movies

In recent weeks, thanks to my wife's extensive collection and proclivities, I have watched many Christmas movies. Like all genres, most of these are pretty forgetable if not downright bad, although there are some good ones. However, there are two that I would really like to see that, as far as I know, haven't hit the market yet:

1. Something by Quentin Tarantino. I don't know if I would prefer "Christmas With The Reservior Dogs" or "A Kill Bill Christmas". Either one would do.

2. "A Christmas Memento". It could start with Christmas Day and work backward to mid August when the first Christmas decorations go up in the box stores.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mixed message

It is winter in Vermont which means that we are gearing up for our annual town meetings next March. Persons who want items voted on at town meeting are circulating petitions in their towns, trying to get the signatures of 5% of registered voters, which is the minimum number of signatures needed to bring a question before all the voters at town meeting.

One of the popular petitions this year is a petition to impeach George Bush. I have mixed feelings about this. I am in no way a fan of our current president (personally I think he will go down as one of the worst presidents ever), but there is no way around the fact that removing him from office means....Dick Cheney will be president. That is an even scarier thought. When I voiced my concerns to one of the Vermonters circulating the petition he explained that he doesn't actually want Cheney to become president. As near as I can figure they are either hoping that their call for impeachment will fall on deaf ears, or that George will be impeached and acquitted. The first option seems rather meaningless, and as to the second, I think the Senate has better things to do.


Friday, December 15, 2006


OK, so I was hoping that you wouldn't remember that I had promised photos, but alas.... so here they are.

Let's see.... we have the knicknack shelf, the snowman on the doortop, the salt & pepper shaker collection, the hutch in the kitchen, the Christmas scene with the three singing snowmen (featuring a rather disturbing figurine of Santa praying before the Christ child - at least it isn't the other way around), the stockings hung by the woodstove with care (we haven't made Evelyn's Christmas stocking yet, so she has a real sock up there), and the hutch. And, oh yes, a Frankenstien monster made completely out of pumpkins. Not quite Christmas, but it seemed to fit.

And, yes a tree, complete with winter village underneath.

Hope you have a great trip!


Rays of Sunni-shine

I might not be posting again until Christmas. I'm off on a little trip. Maybe my bro can fill in (weren't we promised pictures of Christmas decorations?). In the meantime, this picture might bring a little sunshine into your life:

Skye and Princess Sunni

Skye is the one on the right, with the red collar, and Princess Sunni is the one on the left, with the green collar. (You can read about Skye's journey home here, and Princess Sunni is a star in the second and third of my three beagle stories -- which, I know, Glenn, you didn't care for.)

Until next time!

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

We shall overcome!

A little while ago I posted a rant against Hummer owners, which in part suggested that, um, they, um... had delusions in the penis-size area. I am finding that I'm not alone in this suspicion. Andrea sent me a link to a terrific (if somewhat brutal) cartoon, and this morning my RSS feed brought me this fascinating post that highlights the startling links between soy products, feminization, and the underpinings of the US economy.

I think I'm part of a movement. Woo.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Thank you!

Mucho thanks to everyone who provided information for our upcoming Bay Area trip, both in comments and by e-mail. You're fabulous! And keep it coming, if you like.

For the record, we are definitely changing our plans for accomodations. And who's up for lunch or brunch?

Thanks again!


Monday, December 11, 2006


I didn't see any of this. My back was to the scene. All I did was hear. And this is what I heard, while I was standing in the mens room at a public arena:

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

Obviously an infirm person using a walker was making his way in.

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

Clop, shuffle, shuffle.

And then an elderly voice:

"Oh my gosh! This is the mens  room!"


I tell ya, if there was an Olympics for people with walkers, that old lady would have the gold for the hundred meters sewn up.


There's a little bit of Calvin in each of us

For Wen. (For those of you who don't know, it's a reference to this post.)


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Dateline: Melbourne, FL

Ducks in this small coastal Florida city awoke this morning to find that they had been reclassified and are no longer birds:

Do not feed the ducks or birds

Adding to the confusion in the duck community, it is not clear how ducks are now classified. "If we're not birds, then what are we?" asked an indignant mallard, Jack Webb-foot. "Fish? Mammals? I don't think so."

A large crowd of ducks have gathered, and some can be seen making signs that say, "Don't keep us up in the air," "Do I look like I secrete milk?", "Feather Power!", and the word "Gills" with a circle around it and a strike through it. It looks as though a duck walk -- duck march, that is -- may be forming.

"You know the old saying," said Webb-foot: "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck." As he stormed off to join the march, his final words to this reporter were, "Quack, quack!"


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

They told me there would be days like this

My work day runs generally from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm. Linda works late afternoon/early evening teaching dance and gymnastics. Although I often have to attend evening meetings, these generally start at 7:00 pm, half an hour after Linda gets off work. The point is that we have managed to avoid having to put Evelyn (now at 7 months) in day care, which means that she doesn't have to be exposed to much. However, that did not prevent her from reaching a milestone yesterday: her first cold, complete with a runny nose and little sneezes. The poor thing, can you imagine having a stuffed up nose and not know how to blow? Evelyn could sleep just fine last night as long as she wasn't laying down, which meant that Linda and I took turns holding her on our shoulder pretty much all night so she could get some rest. What did people do before 24 hour TV broadcasts?


Tuesday, December 05, 2006


We've had this under our hats for a couple months now, but we can't keep it in any longer: We are going to be spending a week in the Napa Valley in February. It's a Friday-to-Friday week, and we're going to be flying into and out of Oakland. However, when we went to make our return flight reservations, for the end of our week, we couldn't get any El Cheapo seats, and Judi has a constitutional aversion to ever paying full price to fly, so... in the long tradition of taking lemons and making lemonade, we decided to stay in Oakland over that weekend and... (drum roll) see San Francisco!

Yes, as strange as it seems, and as much as we have travelled, and as many places as we've been, we have only ever spent two short parts of days in this iconic American city. We flew in once, spent a few hours there, and then headed out to another destination (Santa Cruz, actually, to visit my brother, who was living there at the time). Then, on the tail end of that same trip, we drove in, spent a few hours in the city, and then headed to our hotel near the airport, to catch our return flight early the next day. So we haven't really had a chance to see  San Francisco, but now we will have two whole days, plus part of a third!

We are very excited!

And, on the Monday following, we will fly home in El Cheapo seats!

What more could anyone ask for?

So here's the low-down: On that Friday at the end of our week in Napa, we'll drive back to Oakland, where we'll return the rental car (save a few more $$$), and check into the Fairfield Inn hotel near the airport. Supposedly this is within walking distance of a BART station. Or so the desk clerk told me when I called. So we will be able to take BART to S.F. and back. Better still, we won't have to drive, so I'll be able to have a drink or two! Yay!

Anyway, why am I telling you this (you ask)? Because I know a few of you, my five loyal readers, live in the Bay Area, and I was wondering if you wanted to help me out with a few questions:

  1. This isn't a biggie, but if you happen to already be familiar with the area around the Oakland airport, is it really possible to walk from the Fairfield Inn to the Oakland Airport BART station? The hotel is on Edes Avenue, and the station is actually called the Coliseum/Oakland Airport Station. We aren't concerned about the walking -- I'm pretty active for a geezer with a bum leg, and Judi of course is in the Prime Of Life -- but would we have to walk along an Interstate highway or through a crime-ridden neighborhood? Don't laugh -- I don't know anything about the area, and you wouldn't want to do a lot of walking in the neighborhoods around, say, the Miami airport.

  2. Do you have any tips for riding BART? We've ridden the subways in D.C., New York, Boston, and Chicago, so we have a general idea how subways work, but we've never been on BART. Any tips for BART? Buying passes? Which stations to disembark at? Anything at all.

  3. What would you suggest we do in San Francisco? On our two whirlwind days, a long time ago, we went to Fishermens Wharf, rode a cable car, shopped in (and ate a very mediocre lunch in) Chinatown, and walked and then drove down the crookedest street. We also saw Grimaldi Square. Oh, and we visited the Golden Gate bridge. So we hit the tourist high spots. I think this time we want to spend some time in the park.... Is it convenient to get to Lands End by some sort of public transit? What do you  think we should do? Also, any suggestions for great places to have lunch?

I think we are even more excited about the two days in S.F. than we are the week in Napa....

You can either leave comments or send me a message at


P.S. Speaking of Napa, I had planned for us to have lunch at The French Laundry, after reading about it in Conde Nast Traveller , until I saw Amy That Ted's bill. Yikes! Now, don't get me wrong: Amy and her That Ted were entitled to splurge. After all, it's not often you get married. And they had thirteen courses, and were there for three-and-a-half hours. But, still... I don't know about us, now. Yikes.

P.P.S. Did I mention we are excited?


Monday, December 04, 2006

Reality check

Judi: Do you feel like the little bald-headed stepchild?

Me: I think the phrase is "red-headed stepchild."

Judi: Not in your case.

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