Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coming Home

I'm sitting in the port area at Cherbourg using their free wifi--what a luxury. It is much more interesting than anything in town to me at least. It's Sunday, nothing much open, cloudy, and a bit cool--60 degrees.

It has been a very successful trip in every way, but as usual I'm ready to be home with all the people I love and to get reintegrated into my life there. (I can only hope that crazy gray cat has given up on me and found someone else to feed him, but my guess is he will be crying at my bedroom door. )

Whatever, even that will feel like a welcome for a while.

The picture on this post is of one of the food carvings in the Lido, exotic birds made from zucchini and carrots, I think.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

If I Were a Dog Person...

If I were a dog person, this is the kind of dog I would have. (See photo). He wouldn't turn around and give me a full face view though. He and his owner were standing on the street but when I took out my camera, he turned his head.

It's 4:30pm and the engines are revving up to pull out of Brest. The weather has been cooler and overcast, with some rain which I managed to miss. Did a little shopping at Le Printemps in the middle of the day. Then came back to the ship to eat lunch and play bridge for a couple of hours.

Met Barbara in The Crow's Nest for tea and scones. Now she's exercising and I'm blogging before dinner.

Another nice day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Final Working Day

Today was my last day to "work" on this cruise, and I must say it was a very gratifying day. Lots of people told me how much they had learned and how much they had enjoyed it. One couple of ladies who played in my social bridge group gave me a present: a key chain with an oval filled with an "ocean" and a little ship floating on it.

Not only that but three if my social bridge students played in the duplicate game: two of them came in third north/south and one of them placed first east/west with a partner that he met only a few days ago.

So, it has been a successful journey for me. To celebrate Barbara and I ate in La Fontaine and dressed up in our formal clothes. We had lobster and steak with Baked Alaska for dessert.

I have to say though that Baked Alaska is a much over rated dessert. I would rather have one of Lee's sundaes: ice cream with chocolate syrup and fresh strawberries. Especially if I had some of Vickie's sugar cookies to go with it.

Tomorrow we are in Brest. The weather might be rainy. It will most certainly be overcast and cool. I might sleep late and see if anybody is playing bridge in the card room. As I haven't played but a couple of hands since I boarded the ship.

The picture below is of the pedestrian shopping street in Lisbon with a view of some statue or other on the docks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Stash

This post is especially for Maha as well as for anybody else who loves to clothes shop. Most of what you see in the picture is from Zara, the exception is the red shoes.

Zara is a Spanish owned clothing store which caters mostly to young women who want to be in style but who have a limited budget. Maha and I first discovered Zara in Florence the year I rented that wonderful apartment in the Piazza de la Signoria.

Then when Lane and Jon and the boys came, Lane and I really enjoyed it.

There are Zaras all over Europe. Paris has three or four that are always full of young women. And the store always has knock offs of the latest fashions.

The white jacket I discovered was made in Morocco, and it is made of the softest cotton. The lining feels as good as the outer part.

You really can't see the grey linen sweater very well or the white linen top, but they, too, feel good. The silver bedroom slippers came from Zara Home, soft as gloves.

The red shoes came from a shoe store somewhere on that same pedestrian street. The turquoise blob of beads is a set of clips to hold the table cloth down on an outside table, to keep it from blowing off.

Shopping in Lisbon

Finally got to a place with some time available to shop and make pictures.

Although the picture opportunities were minimal, I fared better with the shopping, only because I found a Zara.

Didn't take long though to spend myself happy: white blazer for 40 euros, linen top for 13, and grey linen sweater jacket for 25.

Down one level in the Zara Home I found several other little items, and then I was ready to come back to the ship for lunch.

We're having a sail-away gathering in the Crow's Nest at 3:30pm, so I'll post a picture and call it a day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coming into Lisbon

We all stood on the top front deck as we cruised down the Argus River into Lisbon this afternoon about 2pm. The bridge resembles the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. To the right is a gigantic statue of Jesus the King with his arms spread out protecting the city, very much like the one in Rio.

I took a couple of shots, but they look just like every other picture of water and terra cotta roof tops I've ever shot so the picture in this post is not of Lisbon.

The image is a very blurry view of the young violin player from the Phillipines. His group, the Rosarios, perform every night in the lounge after dinner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Porta Delgado, Azores

Another small port in the Azores, very small, very old. Took a few pictures, but it was mostly cloudy. So I came back to the ship and had a coffee in the lounge and "floated" a little while I looked out the window.

I did get Ann's tee shirt with Azores written on it, red with whales or dolphins or something. However, there has been no real shopping in these two little towns. Good thing Maha didn't come on this cruise. Maybe things will pick up in Lisbon!

Sat with friends from the bridge room at lunch and enjoyed lingering over the conversation.

Tomorrow is another day at sea and I don't believe it, but I'm ready to work again. Amazing how narrow my interests are: bridge and shopping; eating and sleeping; making pictures and listening to the trio play after dinner.

I am truly a creature of habit, building a little nest and a little schedule wherever I am for more than two days in a row. Wynell knows that; in fact, I think she's the one who first pointed it out to me.

The image below is of the most interesting looking boat in the harbor. Looks more like a space ship to me.

Time for a nap.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Horte, Azores

Made land for the first time since leaving Ft. Lauderdale in a small port called Horte in the Azores, a group of volcanic islands owned by Portugal.

As it is Sunday, we were told not to be in a hurry to get off, nothing would be open until noon. So, I slept until 9:15, had a leisurely (that's the first opportunity I've had to use that word)breakfast, attended to a few chores with Missy, my boss, and got off the ship (using the life boats as tenders) around noon.

Walked around for an hour, no more, got back on the ship and had lunch. Not much to tell except that the weather is beautiful, sunny and 66 degrees. It is a small and seemingly poor island and the only source of income seems to be taking tourists on whale watching trips or up to a volcano, long since dormant.

The picture below is of one of the life boats arriving to pick up more passengers.

Tomorrow is another island close by. We'll hope for more activity

Friday, May 18, 2012

Moving Right Along

We have already been gone from home a week tomorrow and the days are just floating by at an unimaginable speed.

Bridge is settling into a routine, so much so that the same people sit at the same table in the same position. If somebody else sits in their seats, they get huffy, just like in church. Today we had 6 and a half tables.

Already we have had two formal nights for eating in La Fontaine, the formal dining room, but Barbara and I have elected to eat in the Lido because the conversation is better -- you get to choose your table mates.

I have met yet another Sandra, Sandra Millikin, one of the guest lecturers. She is American but married to an Englishman and living in England. She lectures on architecture. Of course I haven't gotten to hear her because I'm in the bridge room. We have had several visits at dinner though, and I find her very interesting and amiable.

One more working day and then we are in port for two days. I can hardly wait. First stop is the Azores.

Below is a shot I took in the Lido on our first night on board ship -- before the deluge.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

After the Storm

Today was a brighter day, both metaphorically and actually. The sun came out; the captain came over the intercom and assured us that the storm last night was such that we couldn't go around it. Reminds me of the children's song: Can't go over it; can't go under it; can't go around it; gotta go through it. And we did.

Bridge lessons and game was much easier now that I have hit my stride. And....I have the computer part own pat! So...

On to more interesting things. Barbara and I had dinner on the open deck on the Lido: lamb chops, potatoes, Baba Ganouch(sp.), cream of mushroom soup, strawberry cheese cake, and "good" bread.

After the first 48 hours on board, the virus patrol eases off, and the Lido becomes much more of a self-serve. But the polite Indonesian guys still follow you around carrying your plates.

I missed the actual sunset, but below is a shot of the sky and the water--that's all you can see in any direction.

Bonne nuit.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First Day as a Bridge Director on a Cruise Ship

Well, I think I can put you out of your misery to begin with and just say, " I survived.". But it wasn't easy.

I had a beginner's class (12 people) at 10 am; an intermediate class (20 people) at 11am; we lost an hour at noon -- strange time to lose an hour -- and it happened to be my lunch hour; and both a social bridge game (4 tables) and a duplicate game (6 tables) from 1:30 until 4:00. Whew!

Then as Barbara and I were going up to the Lido for an early dinner at 6pm, we noticed we were having heavy rain and choppy seas (we put on our accupressure wrist bands), and that the water was coming IN once we got to deck 8. It got worse the further up we went and on the Lido, the floor was an inch deep in water.

We quickly grabbed something to eat and took it back to our room on deck 6, avoiding the elevators, of course. She went back out about 7:30 and said the rain had stopped and it was all cleaned up, as if nothing had happened. So, that was our excitement for today, I hope.

Below is a shot of the game room, but it does not do justice to how many people were there. I'm going to bed.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ft. Lauderdale

Here we are, Barbara and I, after an easy trip from home in one of the many hotels that cater to the cruise traffic in Ft. Lauderdale.

There are hoards of people here, all with multiple suitcases the size of small dining room tables. The shuttle from the airport to the hotel had an extra trailer on the back to hold all the luggage.

Breakfast was the usual "diabetic making" collection of waffles with artificial whipped cream and Aunt Jemima syrup. I managed to find something to hold me until we get on the Prinsendam where there will be a spread on the Lido to put people in a good mood before the lifeboat drill. (I hope there's a drill; as I recall the newspaper's said there was none on the Italian cruise ship that tanked recently.)


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Lee's Dining Room

Beautiful Spaces Where I've Been Entertained This Week

This has been such a wonderful week for me in many ways, but what I want to talk about in this post is two of the beautiful spaces in which I have shared a meal with special people.

Several weeks ago, when Nat and Brian were visiting from Boston, Lee entertained family and a few friends in his side yard with outdoor lights and music.  The works.  Henry made pictures and Lee did a slide show and e-mailed it to all of us.  He wrote this as an introduction to the slide show:

"...and in the soft stillness of a Southern spring night, they enjoyed again for an evening, the simplest of all pleasures, being in the company of those you love."

Of course, the sharings I'm talking about occurred in the daytime, but the rest of the quote is still relevant.

Lee's Breakfast

This morning, Lee and Vicki had a breakfast for Henry and Alexandra, both of whom graduated from the University of Alabama on Saturday.  The food was hearty:  steak, pork loin, scrambled eggs, grits, cornbread, and fruit with yogurt.  Plenty of hot coffee, and cookies afterwards.

In addition to hearing about Henry's being accepted to an exclusive photo workshop in New York this June and about Harris's account of the state track meet in Mobile this past weekend, we were entertained by Vicki's new puppy, Louie, a white ball of fur who tumbles around and chews on whatever touches his muzzle.

Watching the young people -- because we have no more children in our family -- and listening to them interact with each other and with the older people was awesome (to use their language).

Wynell's Lunch

On Wednesday, I visited with Ed and Wynell at their house on Lake Logan-Martin.  They have almost finished remodeling their kitchen and I wanted to see how it had turned out.  Also, I wanted to have
one of those lunches that only Wynell can prepare.

Beautiful table (my only regret is that I didn't get a picture of it before we devoured the meal), luscious meal:  chieken pie, the best salad I have ever put in my mouth, and chocolate dipped macaroons for dessert.  Jane joined us, and after Ed retired to the bedroom to read his 800 page book (or take a nap), the three women caught up on each other's lives the way we always do no matter how long it's been or what all has intervened.

I hope your week has been as full of love and nourishment and beauty as mine has.
Wynell's Sunroom