Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve...

Wherever you are, may you have a safe celebration tonight!

Dick and I will peddle over to Wade & Ginger's patio for a small dinner celebration with friends. I am to bring the dessert, so I asked Dick what he wanted me to fix. First off was creme brulee...that's not gonna happen! Next suggestion was banana pudding, so that is what I'll take. But first, I have to go to visit Publix and leave them a final donation for this year. My shopping list is growing.

As 2008 draws to a close, remember to count your many blessings, give thanks for what you have...and pray for our troops as they defend our precious freedom. May 2009 find you filled with happiness, health and laughter!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Super Tuesday...



YES...they haven't closed yet, so this is where we are having breakfast this morning!!! We are meeting Bill and Vickie...long-time friends from NJ here at John G's. Can't wait to see them and to enjoy eating here.

We arrived at the RV park at 3:30 yesterday, and promptly began setting up. The internet satellite didn't work; the TV satellite didn't work, but Dick, being the whiz that he is, *finally* got everything up and running. Whew.

And Ginger rode her bike over to greet us and to invite us to come over and have dinner with them. What a gift that was, not to have to stop our setting up and think about dinner. It was gonna be ready and waiting for us! And boy was it good, plus it was nice to sit and visit with them and catch up on park stuff. And family stuff. We'll go back over there for New Year's Eve for a small dinner gathering.

Speaking of, what are y'all doing to bring in the New Year? Gosh, it is almost here. Our fave thing is to watch the celebration in Times Square on TV. No way would we go there for real! That is just too much crowd for our tastes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rolling south, y'all!

Heading to West Palm Beach today...after tomato sausage gravy and biscuits! We'll really be ROLLING if we eat this too often! Sherman was the cook for this. Pat is also a great cook...last night's dinner was delish!

Happy Monday, y'all!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hello from Chiefland!

After a 4a start in the rain, we arrived in Chiefland just after 3. We did stop for a nap at 6a...Dick was ready for a break...then breakfast.

Missy stayed hidden in the bedroom most of the day...then finally ventured out and stayed under a chair. She has to get used to her new home, once again. I missed having Parker in my lap all day...........but I know he is all healed and is happy. And I didn't cry today!

Jeff and Bjarne are here at Sherman and Pat's house...it is great seeing them again (they live in Denmark--Jeff is Dick's nephew--remember we visited them in August?)...and we are about to have a pot roast dinner that smells heavenly. Life is good!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Saturday stuff...

Today will be a busy day. We both have to do our parts to get the moho ready to roll tomorrow morning. Actually, we'll probably move it over to our RV park late this afternoon in order to save time in the morning, since it looks like it's gonna be raining and messy. No cooking tonight, so that's one less thing on my mind.

And the meager Christmas decorations have to be taken down and stored. I'm sure Doodlebug will be a great help...NOT!

Oh yes, the wee girls and I had fun making the toffee, but it took longer than I had anticipated (new recipe), and they lost interest in helping, but not in the eating! I'm not sure I would make it again, since I don't care for super sweet stuff, so we may stick to cookies next year. I like them better anyway!

Enjoy your Saturday! Life is grand!!! (get it? I've got my grands here?! I crack me up!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Redneck Christmas decorations...

First, we'll check out the outside of Bubba's house...
Then proceed inside and see what Martha Stewart would probably label shabby tacky...Hmmm, do the lights improve this or what?
Instructions to construct can be provided upon request.
Come on over for some toffee later on this afternoon. The wee girls and I are gonna make some! Life is sweet!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry, merry Christmas!

Recipe for Blessings...

Ingredients:
~ 1 part of knowing HIM as your Savior
~ 1 part of knowing who you are
~ 1 part of knowing who you aren’t
~ 1 part of knowing what you want
~ 1 part of knowing who you wish to be
~ 1 part of knowing what you already have
~ 1 part of choosing wisely from what you have
~ 1 part of loving
~ 1 part of thanking HIM for ALL you have

Instructions:
~ Combine ingredients together gently and carefully, along with prayer.
~ Mix together with strong faith until finely blended.
~ Use kind thoughts, words, and actions for best results.
~ Bake until blessed.
~ Give thanks again.
Yield: Unlimited servings
Tip of the hat: Judy C.
Update: Click over here to Haley's blog!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve...

Here are the wee girls last Christmas as Angel Gabriel and Mary. They are again going to participate in the Christmas Eve pageant tonight. It is always fun watching the kids grow up, and especially good to see them participate in church services.

All the kids/grands will be here after the service for a big pot of taco soup, then we will open up all the gifts under the tree. This is an annual tradition that we all treasure. In the morning, everyone gathers at Haley's house for brunch so that the kids can show all the grandparents, aunts and uncles what Santa brought them.

Oh yes, when Santa used to visit here, he always left a new ornament in the tree that our three tried to see who be the first one to spy it. Good memories; good times, filled with lots of love. Now it is your turn...tell me about a tradition or two in your family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday stuff...


Wow, it is good to join the human race again! A tummy bug struck me down and laid me up all day Monday. I missed out on some fun stuff, but that was OK. Fortunately, I am rarely sick, so it was just my time to veg out. Over and done with...no more bugs allowed!

My birthday was great! Thanks for all the good wishes. Amy, Haley and Joyce fixed a joint celebration dinner for Jason and me...yummm...and no, dinner didn't cause my tummy problems. By missing yesterday, I didn't visit Haley's blog until today, when I got a nice surprise. Go over and check out a picture of me when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was kinda cute back then...and I sure have two pretty daughters! I am blessed...

Today I went food shopping and ran errands...now I am doing laundry. What an exciting life I lead! It is very normal. After yesterday, I am happy to be doing these mundane things.

I hope y'all are doing well and are ready for Santa, and for the reason for the season--celebrating the birth of the Christ Child. Merry Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sandy is what???

is another year older today.

Here is a slice of cake for you, my friend! Enjoy...life is good!!!

I miss the early morning phone call from my Mother, waking me up singing "Happy Birthday." But my memory replays her voice, and it is indeed sweet music in my head, and is there any time I want to relive those moments. I am blessed. Happy Sunday, y'all. My day will be great; I hope yours is too!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It is Saturday...home alone!


Another rainy day in Georgia, and I am home alone. Alone? What a strange, but good feeling. What am I doing to enjoy this time alone? Well, I SHOULD BE getting presents in bags, but that can wait. This is MY time, at least for a short while, so I am enjoying catching up on my blog reading. I've missed visiting with my cyber friends and am making a few rounds to say howdy!

And I'm scratching and loving up on three kitties. No, we've not added to our household except in the visiting sense. Brian's two girls are still with us while he has gone back to ATL for some social time this weekend. It's been nice having him home along with his girls, even if they do shed white hair like crazy. We've been bringing Missy into the office to visit with the hissy girls, hoping to hone their social graces just a tad. We are gaining, but we don't expect miracles. We still miss our Parker boy, and give thanks for our time together.

If you, like us, can't have sunshine outside, at least let it bloom in your hearts this day. Life is good!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Slow Cooker Chicken w/rosemary, apples & onions

So JC asked about my rosemary chicken recipe...here it is:

Slow Cooker Chicken w/Rosemary, Apples and Onions

2 cups sliced onions 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I don't peel)
2 pounds cut up chicken pieces (with bone), with or without skin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used dried)
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup cream of celery soup
2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)

Arrange onion and apple slices in bottom of slow cooker. Place chicken pieces on top and season all over with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle rosemary over chicken.

In a medium bowl, whisk together chicken broth and soup. Pour mixture over chicken.
Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. Serve chicken, sauce, apples, and onions over rice.

I served this with steamed broccoli, salad and French bread with dipping oil. Rave reviews! Let me know if you make it!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's a zoo around here!

Yesterday, there was a bobcat that walked across our driveway; the day before, a reddish fox ran from the lake across the driveway and on up into the woods! We've seen foxes before, but the bobcat was a first, and I was glad that Dick was here to see him/her...whatever! It must have had a sticker in its paw, cuz he sure had a wee limp.

We are frequently treated to deer sightings...eight crossed the upper driveway just the other day; two crossed there just now. And we see the occasional turkey in the yard, and woodpeckers in the trees. It is fun seeing nature right outside our window. All these critter sightings are a relief from the view of the barren,leafless trees. Wintering in South Florida is looking mighty appealing right now! And our hearts are healing a bit more each day.

I am finishing up my Christmas cards today...finally...while rosemary chicken is cooking in the crockpot. What are you doing today? Life is good!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Thanks for the love...

Thanks to everyone for the sympathy, cyber hugs and sweet words from everyone about our sweet Parker boy.

He brought such joy to our lives, and leaves behind a great big hole in our hearts. Missy and even Brian's hissy biatches seem to know that we need some extra love right now and they have been providing that. Amazing!

Parker was also known as the computer kitty. His fave spot lately was the warm exhaust next to Dick's puter. He NEVER got up on the kitchen counter, but in his declining health, I couldn't fuss at him for jumping up and posing here atop the kitchen computer.

Our next big hurdle will be when we load up the moho after Christmas to head south, and our travel buddy will not be going with us. That'll be hard.

Happy Sunday, y'all. Gotta get ready for church...then work on my Christmas cards. Life is still good!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In loving memory of Parker...

Parker’s health had been declining the past few months...the kids had to have an emergency powwow (unknown to us) while we were on our cruise to decide if it was time to put Parker down. They decided a trip to the vet to prolong his life till we got home would be in order, which gave us a little time after we got back to let him know how special and loved he was and to try to prepare for his death, which happened yesterday.
Parker showed up at our RV park back about 1995 and adopted the whole park as his domain, and all guests were just more folks to love him. He and friend Minnie were good ‘mousers’ for the park, until Parker decided his specialty was to hold down the daily paper on top of a picnic table. He was dubbed "Parker Paperweight," and Minnie was left to do mouse duty alone. This boy never met a stranger, and thought everyone loved him......and most folks did, since he was really a dog housed in cat fur. He welcomed Missy into our household, and instructed her well in how to love and behave in our family.

Friend Judy said it so well when I emailed that Parker had gone to kitty heaven:
Never has a cat had such adventures. To think he started out as just a working cat and worked his way up to fame, travel and the fortune of having you both love him so....why he was one rich cat.
I can't believe in a God that would put creatures in one place and people somewhere else, so while I know he is seeing his kitty friends and relatives, he is curled comfortably in Marge's lap and now they speak the same language so they can catch each other up on all the doin's.

I’m sure Parker has found not only Marj (Dick’s sister), but Pepper, Maggy and Callie, and is quickly rounding up more folks and critters to love and adore him. He is in Good Hands. We’ll always treasure the love and trust he shared with us. He enriched our lives, and we miss him terribly.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cooktown, AUS - Skywatch...

We saw beautiful cloud formations while "Down Under." Can't beat the combination of beach, boats and sunshine! I've just uploaded pics from this city, for those who want to see them: www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com. There are several photos from the inside of Cook Museum.

Our rain moved out last night, so there was no snowfall and that is OK. Today is sunny, chilly, and beautiful. Just another day in paradise, or it would be if my desk was cleaned off, our Christmas cards done...yikes, I've got to write our Christmas letter! Whose idea was it to be gone for a month this close to Christmas?!!!

Happy Friday, y'all! Mine will be...I'm picking up the wee girls after school this afternoon...and we got to see our little guys last night. Life is good!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

World's steepest street...

Baldwin Street, in Dunedin, NZ. Boy, is that sucker steep!


Check out the train station with beautiful stained glass windows and mosaic floors--
www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com, and the botanical garden, small but pretty.
We finally got rain here in Mayberry, which was so needed. Some say we'll get snow tonight. We'll see. It is 45 now. Life is good!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesday evening already...

Whew...everything is washed, but not all put away. Almost unpacked, then suitcases can go back in storage. My desk is still loaded with unfinished business, but I'm leaving it all, heading out to meet Joy and Carlene to ride over to Jennie's house. Tonight is our Beta Sigma Phi annual Christmas party and secret sister gift swap. Everybody brings a dessert or salad. You know when a group of gals get together, there'll be food galore. And fun. That is what our sisterhood is all about.

I did take time to upload my pictures from Wellington, NZ, so click over at www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com and check them out if you want. This yellow rose was at the botanical gardens there.

Later y'all. Have a peachy evening! I plan to make time to do my blogging rounds tomorrow. I've missed everyone. Life is good!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The wait is over! Home again, home again...

Parker and Missy have been watching and waiting...OK, Parker slept just a little while he waited, but they were both mighty happy to have us back home. Of course the leaves have mostly disappeared, now that winter is officially here, ,so everything looks so different than it did when we left a month ago. The temps are in the mid-30s, so there is none of that 'white stuff' left on the ground.

It was a looong flight home. We slept just a bit on each of the two flights. Brian met us at the train station, and we stayed at his house last night, since it was late, and drove home this morning. Unpacking is mostly done, and washing has begun. The snail mail has at least been sorted. Last week a queen, this week a slave. Welcome home, right? Life is good!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Time to fly home!!!


Our bags are packed; we’re ready to go! I hate to think of the long flight home, but it will be so worth it to get there, see our kids/kitties/friends, sleep in our own bed, eat on our own schedule, have my own laundry facilities. Oh no...wait a minute...that’ll also mean making my own bed, cooking our dinner. What am I thinking??? Oh well, despite that, we’re ready. It’s been a fabulous adventure, but there is still no place like home, where we are bringing back with us many fond memories.

Enjoy the view we had when we took off from Sydney two weeks ago, heading to Auckland. Goodbye New Zealand...goodbye Australia.......and helllloo Georgia! Life is good!!!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 13 - final sea day...

Hello from our final day at sea. Sounds good to us. We have realized that we don’t like our sea days to be at the end of the cruise; it is better to have it at the beginning, when we walk around and familiarize ourselves with the ship and enjoy the ‘newness’ of the experience. But we’ll suffer and get through it.

We were treated to a dolphin jumping contest while we had our coffee this morning...quite a beautiful sight to see. There is a brunch offered today beginning at 10a in the dining room, so we’ll go enjoy that, and whatever else strikes our fancy. Tonight is our third and final formal night. I’ve used up my package internet (cheaper) minutes, so it is a good thing this cruise is winding down! Y’all don’t get a photo uploaded today...but I’ll set up a special one for Saturday.......

A little cruise snafu info...a group of about 40 folks paid the big bucks…$655…to bus down from Dunedin to Milford Sound, spend the night in Queenstown, then be picked up in Milford Sound. That was the plan. Well, due to the rough seas, we couldn’t dock in Milford Sound. Oops…all those folks stranded…with no extra clothes, some w/o needed meds. They had to be wined/dined/flown to Melbourne, so darn, they missed a sea day. Apparently they had a blast! Rumor has it this cost the company about $40K. Hmm, wonder if Celebrity will offer this particular tour again? They probably will, as this is simply the price of doing business.

In preparation for our early departure, Dick went to the purser’s desk to inquire about disembarkation for us. We are using our ‘funny money’ for our gratuities, so mathematician Dick has the job of figuring out what goes in each of the envelopes that we’ll give out tonight. We actually have to carry our own bags off the ship (welcome to the real world), and we have to do this between 8a and 10a as that is the only time that customs is available for processing. They say we can leave our bags there (somewhere) and then go back to the public areas of the ship (lunch) if we want to (we do). We need to be at the airport about 12:30 for our 3:30p flight, so this will all be easily accomplished.

So, that is our final day at sea. How is your day? Life is good on the sea!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 12 - Melbourne tour guide Luke!

Luke picked us up from the pier this morning and showed off his lovely city, which is always better with a native. We got to see the CBD (central business district), St. Paul’s Church, the beach on the river where the rowing team practiced from, the tallest building, etc....we took the tram over to see the parliament building, St. Peter’s Church, the Hotel Windsor...lots of beautiful buildings to see here. Lunch was on the beach, followed by a drive along the beach to go pick up 8 yr. old Henry after school. He was the photographer for this picture and what a cutie pie he is! I’ll upload pics when I get home to prove just how cute he is. No surprise there, since he looks just like his dad. Luke now works for the soccer team as their physical therapist, so he goes wherever they go, all over the world, but he travels less than he did with the rowing team. Hopefully he and his family will make it to the US next year, with a visit to Mayberry included so that we can meet Jade and daughter Alex (4). We were sorry to miss them.

It was a great day, and we are now underway, heading toward Sydney. Friday is a sea day, and the time for us to pack for our trip home on Saturday. We are so looking forward to that, getting home, that is...not the long flight! Yuck!!!

A big happy birthday today to Dick’s brother Bob, way up in cold NH! Hopefully we’ll see you and Lynne in FL in about a month. Life is good on the ship!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 11 - Welcome to Melbourne!!!


Sheesh. We were 69 kilometers to Melbourne at noon...and docking at 8p. Can you say S-L-O-W? What’s up with that??? Must be some kind of docking conflict, as we were originally scheduled to dock at 8a, and then they changed it to 8p. Now we only have ONE day in Melbourne. Drat. After three days at sea, we’re both ready to get on dry land.
Prince Will is six months old today and I’m missing seeing his new trick of sitting up all by himself. And missing the good sugar from all the wee ones. Drat again.
So now I am back...we ate dinner early so that we could watch the docking. Woohoo...we are here in Melbourne, and plan to get off the ship and walk around a bit whenever we are cleared to leave! I just spoke with Luke, and he will pick us up in the morning.
Well alrighty...us and 1,500 other folks decided they wanted to go ashore...so we said the heck with that and went and listened to the Elan Strings. That was more fun than standing in line. The end. Life is very good!!! I hope y’all have a great day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Day 10 - Sea day

Auckland Harbour...

Sort of good news from home today...our thief has been caught! We don’t know the details of how it happened, but some items have been recovered. It was a neighbor down the road from us, who did the concrete paving for our driveway. He and his wife, both young, are in jail. Very sad, but hopefully they will get their lives straightened out.

Amy emailed two snowy pictures from home...and I am not referring to the quality of the pictures! It was snowing in Mayberry this morning...just a little, and it won’t last long...and can certainly be GONE for our Saturday night arrival back in Atlanta! Amy and Jason are bailing out and heading to warmer temps, so they’ll deliver our vehicle to Brian’s house and leave it. Our kids take very good care of us.

We changed our clocks back last night an hour, and will do the same again tonight to bring us up to Melbourne time. We dock there Wednesday night, and meet Luke on Thursday. We are really looking forward to seeing him.

This morning our dinner table got a special galley tour. We learned that the wait staff on each side of the ship has to pick up food from the kitchen from their side only. Great care is given for dietary needs and no cross cooking with items that are a no-no. Everything is made from scratch. There are even pictures of the completed plates that the waiters have to look at to make sure everything is literally picture perfect before taking them to the tables. Our waiter is very good, as is our room steward. We lucked out in getting a concierge class room...who knew? We have fresh freesias in our room here on the desk, as well as a rose in our bathroom. A free bottle of champagne and bowl of fruit awaited us upon arrival (we gave away the champagne), and the fruit is replenished when needed. And a plate of canapes is brought to our door at 4ish each day. I can get used to that! But, we haven’t had any towel animals. Suffer, we must. Life is still good!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Day 9 - Millennium sea day


It is already the first of December Down Under. This year has flown by, but that seems to be the case each year now. I guess that is a sign of being busy...and cruising is a great way to stay busy.
Hello from the Celebrity Millennium on another sea day, heading to Melbourne. We had to miss Milford Sound yesterday as the seas were too rough. We had a bumpy ride last night, but that didn’t bother us at all, except when the bathroom door slammed and woke me up at 3a! So our view today is water, water everywhere! At least the seas have calmed down a bit and the sun is mostly shining through the overcast.

We had an impersonator last night who was pretty good...sang, played the guitar, and threw in some humor...oops, humour, playing folks from Willy Nelson and Pavarotti to Sean Connery. Tonight is our second formal night, and we have the music and comedy of "String Fever," a husband-wife violinist and cello player. Should be interesting.

I have uploaded pics from Hamilton Island and Port Douglas to http://www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com/ and will hopefully get some more pics uploaded before we go home...Saturday! Woohoo!!!

Enjoy your day, whatever you are doing. Life is good!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 8 - Cruising the Sounds


Good day from the chilly Sounds down in Fjordland National Park. We lucked out being on the starboard side where we’ve had the best views for seeing these beautiful fjords with their many skinny waterfalls. This photo is an example of a larger one. We learned that those waterfalls put about 6 inches of fresh water on top of the sea water, which plays a bit of havoc with the ecology.
There is even snow up on some of the higher peaks as we exit Doubtful Sound where we are picking up wind, chop and now low clouds. My new fleece jacket felt mighty good out on the verandah. We have cruised totally alone through the sounds, except for a few dolphin, seagulls and terns...no other boats in evidence anywhere. Dick is particularly enjoying watching a lone tern glide just above the white caps, with nary a flap of his wings in his search for lunch. Hopefully he’ll show up nicely on Dick’s video clip.

We enjoyed breakfast with an interesting couple from Ft. Myers. Our dinner companions for this cruise consists of a couple from Canada and a widow from Montreal, a French Canadian. Haley, you should be with us to practice your French with her! The single lady from Las Vegas changed her reservation to the earlier seating, so we are a very small group.

After dinner last night, we discovered a good string quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello), and we’ll go hear them again this afternoon, as well as the a capella quartet whenever they are performing. That group consists of four Michigan College friends, who perform a little humor in between numbers...sometimes ‘little’ is the operative word, however they are cute and have beautiful voices. We’ll manage a little reading and a nap. How’s your Sunday? Life is good!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 7 - Dunedin


The sun is shining, the air is crisp...great day for our bus tour of the local area. We are docked a few miles from Dunedin where the bus picked us up at the early hour of 8a. We stopped first at the lovely rail station (shown above), where inside were beautiful old mosaics and stained glass panels, all featuring train motifs. Very interesting. Next we were off to travel the hillsides, stop at the steepest street in the whole world, designed by some guy at a desk in England who had no bloody knowledge of the hilly topography here!. Then we were off to the obligatory local botanical garden, getting low on battery stength. There was a grocery store across the street, so we made a dash for batteries in plenty of time for the bus trip up another hillside for a view of the harbour where we are docked and then over to the other side of the sheep covered peninsular to see the sea on the other side. Lovely indeed...sheep, hillsides, ocean...we love it! Interesting architecture down here...lots of metal roofs on houses, even house with 'gingerbread' on them. We've seen that all over.

We opted to leave the bus when we arrived back in town and lucked into the public library with FREE browsing offered. WOOHOOO!!! It was fun stopping by and saying 'howdy' to some of my blogging friends...couldn't make the whole round or I'd be here awhile and I don't want to hog the puter! Dick is over surfing the web, too, so he is a happy camper. We've managed well with only one puter between us.

Most of the ports we’ve visited have been piled high with logs and/or wood chips, all intended to be loaded on freighters and shipped to far away places like China, Japan, and other ports where they’ll be made into cardboard, toothpicks, etc., then sent out everywhere in the new form. A big freighter is parked next to us (Albany Pioneer) today that had all four bay doors yawning open this morning, awaiting their load of wood chips. We are now back from our tour, and two bays are closed, and the conveyor is dumping chips into the next bay. The bulldozer is still over in the chip pile pushing and shaping the mounds to get the material over to the intake place where it is then placed on a conveyor and dumped into the bays. Fascinating process. Dick is lovin’ it.

Tomorrow is listed as a ''cruising day'' through the sounds...as opposed to a sea day, which the next two days will be. In other words, we won't be getting off the ship till we hit Melbourne! That's perfectly OK...I still have photos to work on and books to read...and maybe a nap to take. Life is good on the High Sea!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Day 6 - Christchurch

Today’s bus tour took us to downtown Christchurch, another hilly, seaside town. First we stopped at a lovely park that represents the Canterbury Plains, but we only had time for just a few quick photos, then we were off to see another botanical garden, although there was no time to tour it, so we simply checked out the lovely stone buildings nearby housing museums, theaters, and art centers. Next we drove outside town up to an overlook for photos, but they probably won’t be worthy to post as it was mostly overcast...and WINDY, not that wind affects the pictures; we just didn’t want to stay out and get blown off the hilltop!

We did stop at Cathedral Square, where we would have enjoyed more time, but that’s the way it is with tours. Two guys were entertaining folks on their ‘giraffe’ unicycles and with their funny banter. That is what Dick (far L) is videoing in the picture above. Haley, we found your Tim Tams just off this square...hopefully they won’t arrive as ‘crumbs’ instead of cookies (biscuits). We’ll try.
Chunkygal, I love your Christmas cards!...no, the odds in the casino are not good (according to Dick), so he isn’t playing (and I don’t play at all)...and no, I haven’t read "Blue Latitudes," but it certainly sounds worth reading.
I have about 200 pictures from these two tour days to sort through while Snoring Beauty enjoys a nap. We leave here about 6p tonight, heading south to Dunedin where we have an early tour booked for tomorrow. Yuck, whose idea was that???
Oh yes, we were served what was supposed to be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner last night, but it was far from what would have been on my table at home! They tried. I certainly hope all of you counted your blessings...we did! Life is good!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Day 5 - A Wellington Thanksgiving




Turkey and the trimmings are promised to us for our dinner tonight in celebration of this being Thanksgiving for us Americans. It feels strange being far from home and without our family on this special holiday, but we can certainly count our blessings from anywhere...and family, friends, faith and freedom are at the top of my list for sure.
Hello from cool but sunny Wellington, the capital of N.Z. We did a panoramic bus tour this morning to see the city sights, the botanical garden, and a brief stop to go inside Old St. Paul’s Church. They built a new one, and this beautiful parish church was fortunately saved from the wrecking ball. It no longer has Sunday services, but is used for weddings, funerals and baptisms, according to the volunteer.
The flooding of a long extinct volcano crater created Wellington Harbour. The city bends gracefully around the port and the houses seem to flow out of the hills, right down to the sea. Edwardian buildings and narrow streets contrast sharply with the modern skyscrapers. The picturesque rugged hills and cable cars have often caused this city to be compared to San Francisco. Since it lies in the path of the only major gap in N.Z.’s central mountain range, the city has earned its nickname of Windy Wellington. It is on the southern tip of the northern island, and we are enjoying watching the ferry traffic going in and out, as well as seeing all the planes outside our window on final approach for the local airport. Water, planes, and ships...the only thing missing–family and friends. Y’all come on down!
Dong, this is the woods where "Lord of the Rings" was filmed! I know you said you want to come here and check out that piece of history. Dick caught me taking pictures for some fellow passengers. The triangular building is the Byrd Memorial, explorer to Antarctica...and on the side is a tile rendition of the Aurora Australis. The rest of the pictures will have to wait to be uploaded.
Know that as we give thanks today, we are thinking of EACH one of you. We are mighty blessed.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Day 4 - Napier

Napier is a cutsey art deco city that had to be rebuilt after the ‘31 earthquake that destroyed almost every building in the downtown. We took the shuttle bus into town and looked into shop windows, then strolled along the beach that contains no sand. It all left with the quake and was replaced by small dark pebbles that are not so inviting to walk on. There is a nice walking/biking path for sea viewing, however. Napier is a retirement/tourist town that is the largest crossbred wool center in the Southern Hemisphere, and is one of the largest apple, pear and stone fruit producing areas in N.Z. It is also steeped in Maori history, and was visited by Capt. Cook. Now you know.
I just received a text from our Melbourne friend. It’ll be good to see him next week. Yes, there will be pictures!
Last night’s entertainment consisted of the ship’s band and singers/dancers. Tonight we have an Aussie cabaret star. We shared the bus ride back to the ship with the music man from Michael’s Piano Club, who promises to play "Georgia" for me if we come listen to him:-) He accurately identified my accent, as he worked for a time in Atlanta.
Since we are in port, there isn’t a lot going on onboard of interest, so reading and watching a tv movie was our afternoon entertainment...activities that are in short supply when we are at home. We set sail at 4p, heading to Wellington...the nightly show begins in an hour. Life is good on the High Sea!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Day 3 at sea...

So today is a sea day and we are back in the cabin after attending a digital photo seminar that was fairly informative for us. Of course there are always folks there who hardly know how to turn the camera on, much less do anything with it, but they need to begin somewhere. I wish I had brought my instruction manual...since I didn’t I learned about some settings to look for and we have made some changes to my camera that I’ll now play with. For instance my camera focus was set too broad, so that is now narrowed and maybe will help in the dining room setting. I am not happy with the group photo from last sailing, but this was the best of the lot. That pesky wall light messed up the lighting focus...and yes, the request for Dick’s show and tell in his new hat will follow soon, even though he hates to pose. I’ll tell him it is setting research!
Our boat speed today is literally at a crawl, which means that we are at sea to avoid docking charges! The sea was pretty rolly last night, so there are quite a few ‘green’ folks today. Speaking of green, our TV color is mostly green. A green Obama looks very strange indeed! Dick just called and asked for someone to please come adjust our TV, and he got a lot of bull about ‘crossing the equator changed the magnetic polarity, making it impossible to fix.’ Helllloo...the guy didn’t like it when Dick told him we were on the Rhapsody last week and didn’t have this problem...and in this same hemisphere! We’ll survive this trauma.

Oh yes, we have a lovely verandah (did I mention that?) that we might get to use today, since the sun is now beginning to come out. I am looking across the water at mountains in the distance, and they must be 12 miles away, as that is the magic number in order for the casinos/shops to be open. You know what profit centers those are! One doesn’t get a dime outta us (casino); the other only gets a nominal amount:-)

"The Bourne Ultimatum" is playing in the cinema this afternoon, so we might go see that if we are awake. Dinner tonight is formal, followed by the Captain’s welcome party and then the show at 11p. It’ll be a late night. Like Empress Bee says, we’ll see if the show wins or our jammies win.
We are having a great Tuesday at sea. I hope your day is great!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 2 - Tauranga

Kia ora! That’s ‘hello’ in Maori. Tauranga (Maori name meaning ‘resting place for canoes’)is shrouded in overcast and mist, so obviously the visibility is disappointing. We are docked at the city, so it was only a 5 minute walk down to the shopping district where Dick found a spiffy Aussie hat to help protect his bald head when the sun comes out again.

This is a very nice ship, other than not having internet in our rooms again. So chunkygal has been on this ship before! I didn’t know that. And you saw my dtr out with some guy, huh? Well, I’ll bet I know who it was! I think she is too old to misbehave:-) Anyway, back to the ship...the staff are all friendly; food/service is good. Unfortunately, the entertainment for tonight is the same Phantom of the Opera guy we saw last week. He was good, don’t get me wrong, but we’ll pass up seeing him again this soon. And that is OK. We’ll see what other good opportunity presents itself! There is always another book to read...

How was your weekend? Cheers...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Welcome to Auckland!

Check out our itinerary for the next 14 nights...heading back to Sydney. Wait...didn't we just leave Sydney???

Who knew our hotel would be next door to an adult bookstore? Were those ‘working ladies’ I saw outside? And my companion in the elevator later on? Hmmm, I wonder.

Hello from Auckland, where we boarded the beautiful Celebrity Millennium...and are now beginning our southbound journey toward Tauranga, followed by a sea day, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Dusky Sound/Doubtful Sound/Milford Sound, two days at sea, then Melbourne, AUS, where we’ll meet up with friend Luke. He was a physical therapist for the AUS rowing team, and our family befriended him when he was in Mayberry for the ‘96 Olympics (the rowers trained in our lake). I was a torch bearer for our town, so we all got to spend quite a bit of time with Luke during the local festivities both in Mayberry and in ATL, where friend Joy and I were Olympic volunteers. After Melbourne, we have another sea day before hitting Sydney.

We are back now from our boat safety drill, feeling all secure in the knowledge that there are plenty of lifeboats for all of us, as well as life jackets. Lunch earlier was good (better than the Rhapsody), so that is a PLUS. We are now underway...walked about the ship, then sat visiting with a nice couple from Scotland in the card room. That was more fun than going to the show tonight, so we are missing that. We have late seating again for dinner...no tour planned for Tauranga tomorrow as 80% chance of rain is expected. We have 100% at the moment. That’s OK...we are on a cruise ship, enjoying a nice glass of wine and everything is lovely. Cheers!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Arrival back in Sydney...and head to Auckland...

Good rainy morning from Sydney! We’ll get off the ship shortly and walk across the pier to the train station...maybe sit and take turns walking over to the Opera House before heading on to the airport. Rough day, huh? I think we can handle the stress:-)
Amy said there were snow flurries at home and she didn’t even want to know the temp here. Wonder why?
Stay tuned for the next adventure. What are y’all doing for the weekend? Life’s short; make fun of it!!! Cheers...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another sea day...and roo, too!

Hmmm...our final sea day on this ship. Arrival back in Sydney tomorrow.


Bee/Sarge...have a great time on the Splendor. Can't wait to hear/read all about it! We are cruising the world, right? Life is grand!!!

I have posted pictures from Cairns and of Bisbane, so check out www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com and see a roo or two!

This is our final day onboard the Rhapsody. Tomorrow we dock in Sydney and depart for the train station where we’ll take turns watching luggage and walking over to the Opera House for a close-up view of it. Our flight to Aukland is 3ish, so we’ll take the train to the airport for the three-hour flight.

Last night was a hoot. After dinner, Dick and I went to see the cruise director and staff do an adult something or other...we were clueless what "Qwest" was...but we sure found out! It was an adult scavenger hunt. The faint of heart, those easily embarrassed, etc., were informed that ‘there is the door’ and you can leave. You are forewarned! Oh dear, what did we get ourselves into? We were instructed to team up in 5-8 members, young/old, men/women, and then we would be given instructions. We were told there would be prizes for the team with the most points, but to be careful on the dance floor coming up with the requested items, as the prizes were ‘crap that weren’t worth breaking a leg over.’ Three twenty-somethings asked us to join them, and everyone got in the spirit. First off, we were asked if we had a Compass schedule (the daily cruise paper), then a map. These guys had played before and were prepared. We produced and were on a roll. Then the CD wanted a guy to come up with his pants on backwards! Jared jumped up, shucked outta his jeans, turned them around, and off he went to proclaim our points! Fortunately, he was wearing nice boxers:-) And it went from there. A request for two bras, empty, had Kim and I discreetly removing ours...and Jared the runner was off and running to get our points! Jared even donned his wife’s bra, skirt, and heels (somewhat) for the Miss Rhapsody (guy) contest! I couldn’t believe all the guys up there in their skivvies!!! We didn’t win because we couldn’t produce any dentures on our team...aha...now I know why we were picked to join the young’uns! It was great fun...and no camera, darn it.

So now tonight is packing...and saying goodbye to various folks. But a new adventure awaits us. Life is good!!!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brisbane

Arrival time at 7a...departure at 6p...

Perfect day today, except it was HOT and muggy. Since it was 17 at home this morning, our kids, Joy and Jennie won't sympathize very much.

Hello from Brisbane...we just set sail...they had rain storms for the previous two days, and it is raining now as we depart, so we lucked out.

The Lone Pine Koala sanctuary was great...will sort through pics on our sea day tomorrow and upload them to to the pic blog.

Gotta run...almost time for the evening entertainment and dinner...I know you feel our pain!

Love the comments...will catch up tomorrow. Life is good on the High Sea!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sea day #3

Here we are on another sea day...heading to Brisbane........


Tomorrow is Brisbane, where we’ll have to tender again. We have an 8:30a departure for our five-hour tour of ‘Brisbane Sights and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary,’ so my posting will be delayed until we can get back to the ship. The wee girls will be excited to know that koala and kangaroo pics will soon follow, as that is what they want to see:-) This is a big country and there is much to see and do...and obviously we can’t do it all in one trip, but we are sure trying!

I am enjoying all the emails and comments. Keep’em coming! At least the internet is faster on this ship than on some of the previous ones we been on, so I plan to upload some photos to my photo blog. Check out www.ivylog2.spaces.live.com periodically and take a wee tour of this beautiful country!

Life is short...make fun of it and go cruising!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Willis Island

Here is a panorama of the Cook Museum...biggify and you can spot Dick to the R of the steps...that was about the hugest mango tree we've ever seen over there on the L...
Cruising Willis Island is what the Cruise Compass says for today. That’s it–we cruise right by it, although we may have to actually anchor to make it legal as a 'stop.' According to the captain, due to international regs we have to cruise to here to qualify this as an international cruise. It contains a meteorology monitoring station, staffed by three people. Gosh, they’d probably like for us to stop and chat awhile. How bored can they be? The island is also inhabited by thousands of masked, brown and red footed boobies–a seabird that looks alike a dressed up seagull. Now that’s a thrill for ya.

So, good morning from another sea day where we are opting not to attend beginning bridge, team trivia, nor a fine art & watch seminar. Nor the flower arranging competition. Caribbean music by the pool with our books will be followed possibly by the scrapbook seminar (who scheduled it for 1p, right at lunch time?). And we’ll miss the talent show at 2p followed by bingo. Hmm, why do we like sea days? Actually, we do go and enjoy the various musical offerings throughout the day. And we read. I just finished three Sue Grafton books, and have an FBI thriller by Catherine Coulter to read after Dick finishes it. Now that is a vacation to me–being on the water, having someone else to cook/clean, and getting to read. Dare to be dull!

I have actually been doing some photo editing, sorting, deleting, etc. I’ll take the time to do some more ship shots during these two sea days. What do we think of this ship you ask? Well, it is an older one in their fleet. I don’t like the fact that I can’t get wireless in our room. It wouldn’t cost a whole lot to add repeaters throughout the ship for guest convenience. The decor is nice...not gaudy as on some ships. Our accommodations are adequate. I was surprised there were no robes in our room (are we not in a good category?), and no bottles of shampoo or lotion as on other ships, even this same line. There is the addition of a tea kettle, which is nice, although I haven’t used it. Hair dryers are pretty standard these days, but I haven’t used that either. Storage is adequate, although no ship ever has enough hooks on the wall. I would recommend that addition, along with a night light in the bathroom. Our bed is quite comfortable, and we have both slept well...and enjoyed a few naps. The food is pretty good, but they can’t hold a candle to Carnival and their salad bar on the Lido deck. Here, they offer 3 salads a day–always Greek, a pasta, and a black bean combination. Now I do like all of those, but where is the seafood salad? Where is the true salad bar? Theirs is pathetic, but there is one in the main dining room. Huh? I have to get up and go over to the salad bar there myself to get a good salad? If I wanted to do that, I’d just go to the Lido deck. What’s up with that??? I’m gonna have to go try it just to see what is there that is not upstairs. And forget their croissants. They are not flaky at all, more like a croissant-shaped regular roll. Heaven forbid!

And I finally lost my clip-on shades for good two days ago, somewhere between security check in and our room. It still haven’t shown up at lost ‘n found, so probably it was smashed by some heavy feet in the elevator. Yes, Joy, these are the same shades that popped off my glasses and landed in your dress pocket at lunch the day before we left! I do have a back-up set of shades. This is just a minor annoyance in the scheme of things.

Our entertainers last night were quite unusual–quick-change artists! Who knew? I had never heard of such a thing. It was a high energy couple who are dancers and have won all sorts of dance contests and awards and stuff. They do incredible costume changes that are like magic! Sarge, you’ll have to add that to your magic act! They must have Velcro down to a fine art the way they go from one costume to another in a matter of seconds. Literally. All of the changes are done either behind a "wall" or inside one of those fabric slinkeys that one slips into while the other brings it up and shakes it while the person inside changes. Fast. However, the last change was the most amazing. All her outfits were skimpy except for the very first one and the almost last one. The first one covered up multiple outfits that got skimpier as the dance numbers went on. That was easy to understand. In that last number, her ‘dress’ was short, covered front and back and was more modest than previous outfits, so I knew something was gonna change. He came out with an umbrella, held it over her and when it opened, lots of long gold shimmery confetti rained down on her and when she was in the clear again, she was wearing a backless long dress! Obviously it was inside her short dress, but it was still pretty amazing. Dick sez she wasn’t hard on they eyes at all. And boy, could they dance!

Tonight we’ll be entertained by an Irish lass, who promises an evening of Irish fun, laughter and song. I’ll have to say that RCI gets kudos for their evening shows being diverse and better than average. And this cruise director is pretty good, too. Certainly no John Heald, however, but this guy is a young Brit with potential and a sense of humor, oops, humour.

So our day on the high sea is sunny and great. I hope yours is too! Cheers...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cooktown


A view of the outdoor market at Port Douglas yesterday...
Port Douglas is small...and yesterday was HOT! We docked next to a small shopping mall, which was a pleasant walk through en route to the outside market beyond it where we got the full blast of the heat. Many tents were set up, displaying jewelry, soaps, hand carved wooden items, clothing, purses, fruit, plants, etc. Of course there were a couple of massage booths, but even that wasn’t appealing in the heat. What was delightful was a large cup of fresh squeezed chunky pineapple juice...yummm. We were entertained by the colorful birds in the trees over our heads, talking and flitting from limb to limb. And of course Dick quickly became bored with the shopping and headed back to the mall to sit and at least enjoy the cool while I made a purchase for our girls.
Our onboard ship pilot was on the tender with us back to the ship, so we questioned him as to why our ship didn’t dock at the port in Cairns...and we got the straight skinny on that. The locals thought the Rhapsody was too large to dock there, although the Legend is the same class of ship and it docked just fine. Our captain called for a meeting with the local harbour folks, and they came onboard for the cap to ‘splain a few things. The upshot is that we’ll pick up the Cairns harbour pilot to come onboard and watch while we dock at another port so that he can see how smoothly our ship handles. The locals lose out on a lot of revenue when the ship has to tender, as folks have the tendency to only go ashore once and don’t get off/on the ship, therefore spending less. Our pilot suggested that those ports requiring tendering will be bypassed in the future, thereby losing ALL revenue! We learned that we have to tender in Brisbane simply because the cruise terminal is on the WRONG side of a bridge that we can’t go under. They think it is too cost prohibitive to move the terminal. Here’s your sign....duh!

I love reading all the comments, so keep’em coming! Bee, I know you’ll have a good time on the Splendor. Look forward to reading all about your cruise. I haven’t had any cake on this cruise, but I’ve had some great creme brulee..last night’s was labeled "BBB" which stood for Banana Bailey Brulee...yummm...lovely combination! Life is good!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Sunday in Port Douglas



Dick and I had a lovely day in Cairns (pronounced *cans* for some reason). A rather large catamaran did ferry duty from our ship to shore, where we were met by the typical tour bus, with Michael as our driver/narrator. He drove us past lots of sugarcane fields, blooming royal poinciana trees, stately date palms and other flora and fauna we recognize from our time of living in Florida. Many of the homes are built up on stilts, since there is frequently a flooding problem here during some rainy seasons.
We had a drive along the beach and saw lovely homes prior to beginning our climb up to the rainforest. We got to see the skyway that skims over treetops for those choosing to see the forest that way, but that method was not for us today. Well, we got to the top and I was expecting to actually be up close and personal to a tree or two...but no, we were deposited in a shopping district! Don’t you know how happy Dick was (not!). He is a good sport, so after walking the length of the shopping road, he ran into another guy from our ship and they went and did what guys would rather do than shop...drink beer! I helped the economy out by buying a tee shirt, then retrieved my wayward guy and we headed back to where the bus was parked.
Our tour next took us through some of the industrial areas, then we had a short stop at the beautiful lagoon, shown above. What a fun place to play for kids of all ages. And there were booths set up with folks selling local goods. I wish there had been more time to look at the lovely displays of this ‘n that, but we were already running a bit late, so I resisted temptation.
Sarge, you would have enjoyed the magician last night. I thought fondly of you and your magic tricks on the Blogger’s Cruise. I hope MagicMatt is practicing cuz that would be a fun job for him to do someday. Bee, I’m sorting pictures and will try to put them up on my ivylog space, even before we get home, so I’ll let y’all all know when/if I get that done. I posted a new pic yesterday on this blog, and it didn’t take *forever* for it to upload. But I may wait till the hotel stop between cruises to do that. Just so ya know.
The entertainers last night were a high energy couple billed as "Extreme Vegas." He did juggling and balancing acts; she was the hula hoop queen, keeping MANY going all at the same time. Interesting.
So today we have now docked at Port Douglas. We’ll again have to tender over to shore, and will just walk around through the market. Not much going on, since it is Sunday. This is apparently another place to see the GBR from, but we aren’t docked long enough to do any good, unless we want to try again on the flightseeing.
Hope your day is great. Life is good!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cairns...


Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Dick preferred reading to attending the sexy legs contest. I think he would’a won! And the scrapbooking session was, well, how do I describe it? A guy is in charge, can you see where this is going?, and he has a base page with cut outs clipped to it as a hand out, and everyone can just glue, cut, use the crimpers, gel pens, whatever. The page is not 12x12, so I didn’t do any glueing. He did show us how to do that little fold-out box thingy where one quarter of a small square is glued down and the rest of the square pops open to reveal an inside, hidden area to place photos. We were given a cut out of the word "paradise" and some other cut outs to cutsey up the page. Most folks had never ‘scrapped’ before, so this was a very basic class. The guy had lots of enthusiasm, and did stress that there is no ‘right or wrong’ way to do a page. It’s all good!

So what did we do at the GBR? Well, we tried to go on the glass bottom boat, but the clerk said that the water was too murky and she didn’t want to take our money and have us be disappointed! How nice was that? Next we called the airport to try to do a flight seeing, but they were all booked up till after sail time:-( We got skunked, so I guess we’ll just have to come back. Our next option was to simply hop on the free bus and ride around the small island, which we did and that didn’t take long. Our tablemates did go out to the reef, and all pretty much looked like lobsters at dinner...so perhaps I was the lucky (safe) one after all. Sigh.
The pic above is the harbour at Hamilton Island, taken yesterday. Today we are at Cairns and are heading shortly to the rain forest. Bee, thanks for letting us know that John G’s is still open. Dick has on his John G’s tee-shirt today! We’ll join you there after Christmas.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hamilton Island, Whitsundays

Hamilton Island, in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, is the largest and most comprehensive resort in the south Pacific. There are lush tropical gardens, fine white beaches and crystal clear water. There’s a Fauna Reserve with koalas and kangaroos, numerous boutiques and restaurants, and an extensive range of activities to do...or not do. Hamilton is fairly hilly, rising to 230 meters at Passage Peak.
So that is your history lesson for the day. Greetings from sunny Hamilton Island, where the open boat just left carrying passengers (not us) off to see the GBR. Note the word ‘open.’ I don’t do open boats, with this lily-white skin that pops out pre-skin cancers for a hobby. Nope. Not gonna do it. It is an hour and a half travel time to the reef from where we are anchored, not to mention time spent to float and look at the reef, then the return trip. We have to tender over into the city, so that is what Dick and I will do after all the tour folks get gone. I’m sure we’ll have a lovely day. Life is always good around the sea.
Nan, I send big hugs to you and our sibs in remembrance of Mother’s passing two years ago today. May we each continue to celebrate her life in all that we do! Now all of you go out and hug someone special today!!! Life is precious.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sea day #2

Hello again from the sea! We love sea days...they can be as active or lazy as one wishes. Today we are opting for more laid back and reading. There is a men’s sexy legs contest after lunch, but I don’t know if I can talk Dick into trying that one:-) He is up top with a book ,trying out the ‘office’ but it appears to be the cigar bar...hence stinky, so I’m not sure it will be used by moi at all. I’ll sniff him when he returns:-)
I do plan to go to the opal/pearl seminar at noon...always an off chance I’ll win the raffle, right? I won’t hold my breath. There is a scrapbooking seminar at 3, so I might check that one out.
The wine tasting was an excellent activity yesterday. We were seated with a young Brit couple that we enjoyed. There are many Brits and Aussies onboard...love hearing all the accents...and loved being greeted with a ‘hi, y’all’ at lunch yesterday–two couples from Texas at our table! That’s the closest to home folks that we’ve met thus far. Our dinner companions consist of a couple from Scotland and two from Ireland (Dublin and Belfast each). We are all about the same age, with we two being slightly elder but not by much. The dining room can be quite loud, so sometimes it is hard to hear our companions, even for me, so you can imagine how much trouble Dick has with his hearing, combined with their accents! But we are having a lovely time.
Today I plan to walk around the ship and take interior pictures. We each worked on our photos yesterday getting them downloaded onto the puter, deleted, cropped, etc. Just wish we could go ahead and upload all of them as we go! And we are doing well, thus far, in sharing one computer, although I wouldn’t want to do it forever.
We have an invitation to a Crown and Anchor member reception prior to dinner tonight, another membership perk, so our pre-dinner show will have to be cut a bit short in order to make the reception. Dick won’t mind that, since it is some guy singing show tunes! The entertainer last night was a multi-talented guy...he sang and played just about everything but the drums and guitar...and he could probably have played both, given more time on stage! He was awesome...even played TWO penny whistles at the same time. Really cool.
Tomorrow we arrive at Hamilton Island for our first view of the Great Barrier Reef. We are both looking forward to that...and have our hats and sunscreen ready for the adventure! Always!!!
So that’s about our day...a big hello to Maryan...and all the other blog readers. Thanks for your comments...I’m reading every one of them! Bee, hope Chuck’s cold is better and y’all can see him on Sunday. Tell him HI.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sea day

Today and tomorrow are sea days. We love them! Here is a 'stock' picture of our stateroom...which is a pretty good rendition of our actual room. We have the beds pushed together, of course:-) No verandah on this cruise, but we do have one on the next one...


Good morning from the Tasman Sea enroute to the Coral Sea and the GBR! After sleeping in and enjoying our breakfast on the Lido deck, we attended a briefing on the Great Barrier Reef. Other talks will be given about our ports-of-call and shore excursions. We discovered too late that there was a digital workshop, so we’ll try to see if this is offered again at some point. With our RCI ‘gold member’ status, we get to attend the wine tasting this afternoon for free ($11.45 each normally), and they offer other perks for us, such as $5 credit times two for our internet fee! Now you’re talking!!! Unfortunately, this is an older ship and there is NO wireless in the staterooms. I’ll have to take the puter to one of the public hot spots. Bummer, but better than not having it.

Yes, Sandee Comedy Plus, I saw your wave as we passed over CA...WillThink4Wine, have fun in Boston. Will you see MaggieMoo? Bee, Charlie...wish y’all were here! Along with all our kids...sure miss y’all!!!

Sydney is sooo pretty...no litter to speak of, no graffiti. We saw a City Park Ranger and chatted with him, and Dick commented that he was impressed with how clean the city is, etc., and one of his jobs is to ticket anyone throwing a ciggy butt on the sidewalk, parking tickets, etc. We both said in unison, ‘a meter maid!’ He had a great sense of humor, oops, make that humour! They drive on the left here, which also means that escalators are the reverse of ours; they walk on the left...takes some getting used to. But we are managing.

I forgot to mention that after we walked around the Sydney Tower, we did the Oz-tour, which was an interesting Cyclorama-style look at the whole continent where we sat in seats that rotated to four different dioramas of the terrain around Australia. Worth seeing. We then moved to a different room where were strapped in seats that were Disneyish...there were 180 degree screens up front for viewing as we ‘flew’ around the country.

Amy, thanks for the pics of the boys...adorable! I know they both slept well after all that playing. Brian, hope our kitties are behaving...they are also on the we-miss-list! Don’t forget to bring in the mail:-)

Phone service is spotty, so I’m gonna turn it off for now after charging it. That’s our day today. Life is good...hope yours is, too!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Let the cruise begin...

Here is our home for the next 11 nights...Rhapsody of the Seas...departing Sydney and cruising the Great Barrier Reef. Oh, the sights we'll see!


And a big shout out to all the veterans out there!!! God bless each and every one of you for your service to our great country!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tuesday here...Monday there...

Good morning from Sydney! We just made a battery and wine run. Now isn’t that an interesting combination! Dick plugged in his battery charger yesterday and fried it...so we needed a few batteries for the cameras, etc., and figured it would be better to buy now while we can. We also learned that Yellow Tail can’t be purchased here...it is strictly an import wine. Who knew? So, we’ll try something else. That’s always fun.

Uh oh, the zipper on Dick’s duffle bag just broke...traveling is an adventure for sure. He got it fixed, but for how long? It’s not the end of the world if it breaks again. Oh the tales we’ll have to tell!

BTW, we are extremely please that Haley is going on our church vestry! This is a critical year for our parish, with calling a new priest, so extra prayers are needed. We know you'll do a fine job, my dear!

Janelee, so sorry to learn of your friend's death. My prayers will now change for help with the grieving family, rather than healing. Earnestine is now totally healed!

I miss reading all my blogging friends, but love receiving all the comments, which arrive in my inbox. Keep'em coming!

Chunkygal, glad you will be along for the ride. Let me know how your ankle progresses in your comments.

We’ll be heading to the ship shortly...enjoy your day, y’all, or what is left of it! We sure will enjoy this new adventure!

Arrival in Sydney today...

After an 18-hr. flight from San Fran, we arrive in Sydney at 8:05a today, head to the hotel, and SLEEP! Will post when I can get my brain to function.

G'day, mates!




Our flight raced across the Pacific, crossed the International Date Line sometime about 4a Aussie time this morning, making us lose Sunday totally. We’ll get the day back enroute home next month:-)
First order of business upon arrival at the hotel was a shower, followed by a much-needed nap. Neither of us slept much on the plane. We woke up in time to go eat lunch in nearby Chinatown, then boarded the monorail and did a bit of touring, although it didn’t make as large a loop of Sydney as we had anticipated. We got off for pics at the aquarium area, which is where the ship will dock tomorrow, and got back on the monorail and went further along to the stop where we could go up the Sydney Tower. One picture is looking up at the Tower from the bridge near the aquarium, then the reverse...looking down on that same bridge. The other shot is a picture of the monorail.

I have blogs set up for about 10-12 days, so I’ll add more info to them as I am able. The weather is perfect...about 72. We plan to go back down to the water somewhere for dinner tonight. Where there’s water, that’s where you’ll find us! Life is good!!!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Judy and the laundromat...

Good Sunday morning, y'all! Dick and I are currently somewhere over the Pacific, so I have a guest writer today. My friend and BSP sista Judy is a hoot. She tells the most marvelous stories, sometimes about almost nothing. I love her witty style, but most of all, I love her good heart. Her DH Jerry isn't too bad either. Hugs to you both. They have moved to a new city and are in temporary housing until their new house closes next week, so she is having to use public washing facilities. Enjoy...oh yes, printed with permission:

Any aspiring writer should spend time in a laundromat, not necessarily to do clothes but to take notes. Life is at its most varied there for character studies, not a bar, not a mall, not an airport or even a hospital waiting room.

You see things in a laundromat that would make Jerry Springer call it quits. You see things that are plain unexplainable.

Today, we went there again. This time Jerry dropped me and the clothes off and went to do other errands. I was pleasantly surprised that it was almost empty, lots of machines open AND in working order, no unattended children....well almost.

There are signs in the laundromat to 'please not leave your clothes unattended.' I have been thinking about that. The mental images are almost too dangerous to report. If I left the laundromat (and my clothes), would they become rowdy and do damage? If I left my clothes, did I need an attendant to do it? That one is verging on probable. Why are there signs about attending clothes, and none about attending children?

There was a real healthy young man talking on his cell phone for the benefit of the entire county and using some truly colorful language. His lip was pierced and his biceps (large) tattooed. I gave him till I had loaded all my washers to cut it out, and then I decided that one of us present should have some self respect.

I went over to him and tapped him on his biceps. I was polite but firm. I told him that his call was not quite private and that he needed to clean up his language. This could well be the end of the story for me!

He went dead quiet, and I assumed he was just showing me how it was done. Then he said in a very polite and lowered voice, "Yes Ma'am."

No more loud or naughty talk out of him in the laundromat. He did his clothes quietly and left. Guess, my "Mother" license hasn't quite expired.

So now I was still waiting on my clothes, when a man came in to pick up laundry that had been done for him. It was a huge stack of gray, not charcoal or shark mist or battleship, just depressing mop gray toilet seat covers. Who would want ONE much less a whole stack???
I thought of institutions that might use that color, but they don't use toilet seat covers. Then a woman came and she picked up a whole stack of them, too. Lordy, I thought, prison? Nursing home? Juvie?

Then Jerry finally came back and I told him about my "tank cover mystery." He told me (without even having been there himself), those weren't toilet seat covers, those are floor polishers!!!

Then there were two women who came in with industrial sized garbage bags of dirty clothes that they had to drag. For the entire time that I was washing and drying my clothes, and believe me it's a long endless stretch of gray time, they continued to bring in bags, tubs (jumbo), and baskets of laundry. They had just finished unloading all their wash as we were leaving.

So I asked myself, where would anyone get that many clothes??? Prison, nursing home, juvie???

The answer to that mystery will remain unanswered, unless they are still there when we have to go back next week.
Hugs,
Judy

The end. I hope you enjoyed the story.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

All our bags are packed; we're ready to go...




So today begins the big travel day...hop on a plane heading to San Francisco; sit in the airport for three hours; get on another plane and fly for 18 hours, arriving in Sydney, Australia! Then the really good part...we go on TWO cruises while "Down Under." Woohooooo...this will be a terrific adventure, other than the long flights. I'll at least blog our itinerary so y'all can follow along with us. If you want to.

We had a good visit with Hank and Lois yesterday. Joy, Jennie and Mike joined us for lunch. Did anyone think to take a picture? NO...now how dumb was that? Oh well...guess we'll just have to do it again sometime!

Life is good!!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Guess who's coming to lunch?

Woohooooo....Hank and Lois are coming to Mayberry today and meeting us for lunch today!!!

Do you think there'll be lots of laughs to go with that food? You bet!

Happy Friday, y'all! Dick and I leave for Australia TOMORROW, so we are spending the afternoon packing, checking our lists, and collecting some sugah from the wee ones...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yard critters, pretty trees, and travel info...

I looked up from the puter this morning and saw these 5 deer enjoying the many acorns in the yard. Yesterday when I drove down the drive, I scared 7 (!) that had been grazing in this same spot...

I couldn't resist these beautiful trees next to a downtown cemetery...

And a shot of our old courthouse...sure wish I could eliminate those ugly power poles/lines...
Wow...look at the magic Miss Bee did for me with PhotoShop! There are a few yards nearby that I would love to have a little cheap urban renewal work performed on...My Thursday is going well, filling in as church secretary, which hasn't been a hard job (I did it for 10 years, so I didn't need much training). Now I only only fill in occasionally when our 'real' secretary takes a vacation. What I really need to do is pack! Dick and I fly to Australia on Saturday and I don't have the first thing in the suitcase yet, but at least it is out of storage and will get worked on tonight. We have that job and contents down to a pretty fine science.

What and where you ask? I know you did. We begin with an 11-night Barrier Reef cruise out of Sidney. After that, we fly to Auckland, New Zealand, for a 14-night cruise all around NZ and end up back in Sydney, and then we fly home. Won't that be fun? We've never been "Down Under," so we are VERY excited about this trip, other than the looong flights to and from. That'll be the pits, but it'll be sooo worth it.


Anybody been there? Any bloggers there??? Let me know...