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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Is it Asking Too Much

Earlier this week an event occurred in the house. Although I didn't witness it, I automatically blamed it on the cat. With no direct evidence, I put certain behaviors and past incidents together and came to the conclusion that he had to be the culprit. Tonight a similar event occurred and there was no doubt the cat didn't do it. When I added 2 and 2 together, and saw the evidence, it had to be the dog. I scolded Walter for being a dumb head and apologized to the cat for wrongly accusing him of something he did not do. He was so gracious in accepting my apology. As I headed back upstairs, I thought to myself that surely I wasn't the only person in history to apologize to an animal. If that is true, and others do apologize to their furry friends when we jump to conclusions, shouldn't we be willing to apologize to non-furry friends when we falsely accuse them of something, or treat them in a harsh manner?  Oddly enough, you rarely hear of people apologizing to others, myself included. I think we are so shackled by pride and self-righteousness that we can't simply bring ourselves to say..... "I over reacted, please forgive me" or "I was wrong, please forgive me." A few years ago, one of my kids told me that I had a hard time apologizing to them. Since then, I have made a conscious effort to be more aware when I have crossed a boundary (assuming it's a boundary I know I've crossed), and have been more forthcoming with a needed apology. Just a little food for thought.... How quick are you to apologize? If people can be kind to pets, shouldn't they have the capability of being kind to people.... Or is that just asking too much?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Men in My Life

This weekend I celebrate three very special men in my life

My Father: When people ask me about my Dad, I tell them that he is the closest thing to a saint that I know. He is the most kind, energetic, loving person I have ever met. He is my leading man because I grew up knowing without a doubt that I was loved unconditionally. He showed me what to look for in a husband by being an example of how a man should treat a woman. He showed me what it meant to love sacrificially. He continues to show me what it means to have, not just a good work ethic, but what it means to have a happy to serve work ethic.  He is the first man I ever loved and he is one of my best friends. He is my drinking (coffee drinking) buddy and I cherish each and every day he is in my life. I can’t imagine life without him.

My Husband: Mike is very close to being a saint as well, mainly because he puts up with me every day and he seems to actually enjoy it. Like my dad, he loves me unconditionally and cherishes me like most women only dream of being cherished. He is kind, gentle and never lets a day go by without telling, not only me, but our 3 children how much he loves them. He also has a work ethic that is seldom seen in our society. He is patient and slow to anger and I adore him. I am so blessed to for him be a father to our children, and Pop’s to our grandson. I am a luckiest girl to get to grow old with this precious man.

My Son: Who knew this energetic little guy would grow into such an amazing man? He has the ability to talk me off the edge in a nanosecond. There is just something about his gentle reason and calm demeanor that settles me when I am two breaths away from an anxiety attack.  He is a man full of wisdom and thoughtfulness. It has been a blessing to see him transition from my son, into a husband and a father. His playfulness has always made him a kid magnet, and to see him with his son is a true joy. He is a wonderful hands on dad and a loving husband. He is a blessing to everyone he comes in contact with, and he makes me so proud I could just burst. When I look at him I know there is hope for the next generation.

Beyond these three men are others who have mentored me, pastored me, friended me, and blessed me. They are too numerous to count, but in my heart I thank God for each and every one of them and the blessing they have been. If you want to be great, surround yourself with great people… I have a great life because it is filled with great people. Happy Father's Day to the men in my life, and thank you for making a difference in this girls life.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nuggets of Gold

The Alaskan cruise wasn't just about the places we visited, we had a great time while we were on the ship as well. Since the cruise was a 35th wedding celebration for both couples, one night our waiter surprised us each with a heart-shaped fudge treat which was too sweet for even my sweet tooth.  They made an announcement over the intercom about..... Well, I can't exactly say what they said because I wasn't paying attention (imagine that), but whatever they said lead me to believe the wait staff was going to sing or something. Imagine my surprise when our waiter reached over and took my hand. My eyes must have been as big as saucers when he gestured for Mike and me to dance to "That's Amore". I resisted at first.... I mean, I'm not one who enjoys being in front of a crowd unless it's my intention to do so, (like when I did a play with our local theater). But, even more surprising was my quiet husband's reaction. Mike is 10 times worse about wanting to keep a low profile and avoiding the limelight than I am. I was stunned when he didn't skip a beat and immediately took my hand and began to dance. When he saw my discomfort he tried to calm my nerves, and asked why I was frazzled.... "Because I wasn't expecting this" He laughed at my hesitation and asked..... "Do you know why it doesn't bother me to dance in front the entire dining room?" .... "Yes, I would love to know the reason for that!! You usually hate this kind of thing." He laughed and said.... "Because, see all of these people? I don't know any of them and I will never see them again, so Honey Badger just doesn't care." I had to laugh at that, because Honey Badger is our favorite YouTube video in spite it's irreverent language. I finally relaxed and enjoyed the moment. I was made more comfortable when another couple seated a few tables away were put on the spot. When they tried to resist the spontaneous dance, the waiter brought them over by us and instructed them.... "Just do what they are doing." Regardless of the amount of urging and encouraging, not everyone could be positively influenced into letting their hair down, metaphorically speaking. All I can say is those who didn't missed a great opportunity to create a moment to be remembered. Those little moments will be  forever treasured like nuggets of gold.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Princess Vacation Diaries.... Victoria BC

And then there is the crown jewel of them all. Most people do not go on an Alaskan Cruise only to be excited about the chance to visit Victoria BC.... Or, maybe they do. Maybe it's the name..... Or, maybe it's the fact that when a co-worker went, she said they hired a driver to escort them around in a car like they use for the Queen. When I heard that..... I said..... "Oh, I could totally wear a tiara".... I can hear you say.... "Oh, no, surely she wouldn't" To which I can  assure you.... "Oh, I totally did!"  I found the website with that particular car and Doretta arranged for the driver to pick us up at port and give us the grand tour
of Victoria. This was the best experience ever. Well, maybe not ever, but it was pretty high on the list.  First of all, Gilles P. Proulx, the owner of the car picked us up and treated us like royalty. The car is a 1990 Daimler Limousine. Mr. Proulx put American Flags above the headlights in our honor, which I thought was a thoughtful gesture. This Gentleman, and I say that with all sincerity, went above and beyond to share his passion and love for Victoria with us. From the minute he picked us up, he gave us as much information as possible about Victoria. He answered every question without hesitation.... It was as if
Victoria was a breathing part of him. Doretta and I had discussed prior to our trip whether we should visit the Butchart Gardens. We were only in Victoria for 4 hours so we decided against it. Mr. Proulx encouraged us to go, even though it would be dark. He walked us to the gate and handed us a map. He told us exactly how long he thought it would take for us to have an adequate tour and said he would be waiting for us when we returned. It was twilight when we walked into the gardens, and immediately we were in awe.  Truly there are no words to adequately describe how beautiful and serene it was. The beauty was so intense, it felt like we were in a Disney movie.  As the sun set, we found the surroundings just
as beautiful and surreal due to the use of lighting which only enhanced the experience. We followed the map and were very disappointed we didn't have more time to linger. I kept telling saying.... "Oh, how I wish Daddy could see this.... He would love it" With each twist and turn, we found another surprise. The sunken garden caught us off guard. We walked up to it and found the center lit up with a beautiful fountain of water and lights. The Rose Carousel like something out of a fairytale. It was made of
intricately carved animals, painted in vivid colors. When we wrapped our tour, Mr. Proulx was waiting for us, just as he said he would be. We continued around other parts of the City as he explained the history and answered all of our questions. My husband and I wanted to see Craigdarroch Castle while we were there. We knew it would be too late to tour, but we wanted to drive by. Mr. Proulx not only drove us by, he stopped and explained the history behind it, then he offered to take photos. We walked around the Castle and when we came back to the front, he said..... "Princess, it's getting late, we had better
get you back to the ship before you turn into a pumpkin." He was too much of a gentleman for me to suspect he was hinting that maybe I had visited the chocolate buffet one too many times while at sea.  I was sad to leave. As we drove back to the ship, he continued his tour and stopped to take pictures for us. I have a  bit of a time phobia, or maybe it's abandonment issues even though I've never been abandoned.  Regardless, when I saw the time I was anxious. He assured me we would be back to the ship on time. He
was absolutely right. As we were walking up to the ship, they began to take down one of the boarding ramps.... I was very close to having a panic attack, but my husband calmed me down, telling me they wouldn't leave us when they could see we were coming. He knows me well.  He could tell I was within seconds of..... "Having kittens" as he calls it (my panic attacks). Our visit to Victoria was the best memory of the trip.  Mr. Proulx's  passion was so infectious, it made us all want to visit Victoria at a time when we could stay a while. Victoria in itself is a vacation fit for a princess.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Girls Gone Wild in KatchMeIfYouCan.... I mean Ketchikan

Our final Alaskan port was Ketchikan. Mike was so sick with a raging fever, there wasn't a discussion as to whether he would get off with us, and strangely, my cousin's husband (Jerry) decided to hang back and stay on ship as well. If I were an offend-able person, which I am not, I might think he didn't want to spend the day with me sans Mike. Fortunately, I know how exactly much Jerry enjoys spending time with me. He doesn't show it in a visible way, but I can read between the lines and see there is joy bubbling in his little heart whenever we are together. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over. Doretta and I were excited to have some good ole' girl time. We hitched a free ride on the downtown bus, which to the Totem Heritage Center. We enjoyed the beautiful gardens. When we finished walking around the gardens, we caught the bus and went back downtown. Since the day we landed in Seattle, both of us had been craving crab legs. Both of our guys thought we should wait until we could got home to Red Lobster to eat crab legs. Since we had no adult supervision, we decided to treat ourselves to a crab leg feast at Annabelle's Keg 
and Chowder House.... It was delish. We walked around downtown before getting back to the ship a little early. We had a great time together, as we always do. We were a little sad, although not visibly so, that they guys missed the whole girls gone wild in KatchMeiIfYouCan... I mean Ketchikan. But a girls gotta do, what a girls gotta do, and in this case it meant a family bonding moment for me and my favorite Cuz.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Big Chill at Glacier Bay

Day 4 of the cruise meant we had been staying up later than usual, so it wasn't a mystery that we had a hard time getting up and around that chilly morning. We went on deck and watched in wonder as we passed through icy waters and into a winter wonderland. We saw whales jumping for joy, bears scavenging the rocks in search of moths, and a seal happily lounging on a floating piece of ice. The Captain dropped anchor so we could sit and watch for a while.... That's when I noticed Mike, who is typically close to my side, suddenly missing. The deck below me was the "Serenity Deck", which offered hammocks and covered lounge chairs. Mike and I had taken a nap the day before on a hammock. It was a little chilly, but we found blankets and pillows at the bar which made the isolated hammock the perfect lounging
place on a chilly day. I walked along the deck peeking through the holes in the back of each lounge chair, searching for Mike's feet or green hoodie. Finally I found him curled up watching the glacier calve into the water below. The glacier is beautiful with a perfect mixture white, gray, and hues of turquois spun carefully between the layers like icing on a cake. I was fascinated by huge holes that looked like turquois secret caves, just beckoning to be explored. The Captain said we would stay anchored for an hour or so, so I curled up beside Mike to watch the show. The crackle of ice breaking away echoed through the bay, then splashed to the water below... It was a chilly spectacle of wonder. Mike wasn't his perky self, so just before we set sail again, I suggested we go inside for a quick nap. During our nap I notice Mike was so hot that his touch practically blistered my skin. I crept farther and farther to the other side not knowing he had experienced more than a slight chill during the ice show at Glacier Bay.

Getting In Touch with the Beauty of Alaska, I Feel The Earth. Move. Under My Feet.

If anyone tells you that you have to purchase expensive excursions to enjoy the beauty of Alaska, I can tell you that is absolutely not the truth. We hadn't been at sea very long before we began to see whales. If you pay attention while you are sitting on deck, you can see a lot of things. They also have a naturalist onboard and spotters who will announce over the intercom when and where wildlife can be spotted. It's exciting to be sitting there drinking your morning coffee and spot a whale blow in the distance. Our second port was Skagway, and like Juneau, we didn't have an excursion planned. We had, however done some research and found there was a national park within walking distance of port which provided walking trails in the middle of the beautiful Alaskan landscape for the low, low price
of $0.00. We walked through town to the park and took our time strolling through the woods. We found a beautiful rocky area that looked over the water. We basked in the sun and listened to nature at it's finest. There are good things and there are bad things about letting me out in the wild. I feel like I should have a hazard warning tattooed on my forehead... "Warning, tends to do impulsive things"  I like to explore and if water is involved.... I want to be near it, or in it, or at to least touch it. We walked through the part of the park where the trail was right above the water. I really, really, really wanted to touch the water and although it didn't look like the bank was designed for you (or me) to actually go down to the water, I thought it looked like a doable thing. So, I hip hopped (which is something I've been known to do in the woods) down to the sandy gravel embankment that looked pretty stable. It wasn't. The minute I stepped off the path, the sandy gravel
gave way. Not to worry.... I figured a few more steps down and everything would become more stable..... It did not. So, I abandoned my efforts to touch the ice cold water and casually began to climb back to the trail like nothing was wrong. The problem was, the sandy gravel was so unstable, every time I took a step the earth moved under my feet. That would make an excellent song title. Just when I thought I had myself in a pickle, I managed to get back up to the trail. I would love to tell you that my trail mates were beside themselves with worry and tried in vain to help me get my footing back, but strangely they were so enthralled with their surroundings, they didn't realize the pickle I was, or almost was in. Well, even if Jerry had realized it, he would have taken the opportunity to stand on the trail and hurl lame remarks at me while I was vulnerable..... That's the kind of love affair we share and I would happily to do the same for him, only my remarks would be more witty. Unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, we didn't happen upon any furry friends eager to the petted. If I couldn't touch the water I at least wanted to pet a bear... Right? Dangit! All in all, unlike the hustle and bustle of downtown and it's many jewelry shops, the park offered exactly what we wanted..... The chance to get in touch with the beauty of Alaska..... And that we did, although not quiet as close as I would have like.... I just wanted one little touch of the water.... Put it on the bucket list for next time.

This with Me and Butt.... I mean Jerry (Not Pictured)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Big Business in Alaska

The four of us decided in advance that we would not book excursions due to the prices they charged. Everyone we talked to assured us that Alaska's beauty was in itself a trip of a life time. Our first port was Juneau, which is a quaint mining/fishing town. Upon first glance the downtown store fronts looked as if they would transport us back a few years. As we strolled down the main streets I noticed an unusual amount of jewelry stores whose employees stood at the front door beckoning tourist, seducing them with free charms. I may be different from most tourist, I love to shop but I don't enjoy shopping for souvenirs. As we walked down the sidewalks, I wondered out loud why such a
quaint town with rich history would have so many jewelry stores. I was surprised when the gentleman in front of me turned and said.... "If you want the truth, I can tell you." He pulled a card from his pocket and said.... "I'm a tour guide, and all of the jewelry stores are owned by the cruise lines." That was the moment the lightbulb went off for me. The morning before, the ship had a informational talk on how to select the perfect stones in port. The tour guide connected the dots for me which made me fume.  Mike and I looked at each other and he said..... "Oh, it's a profit thing" If you're a fan of the movie, The Jerk, you'll recognize that quote. Mike and I often talk in movie quotes. I am somewhat baffled by why someone would go on an Alaskan Cruise to shop for jewelry, but when
the only souvenirs available are tee-shirts, mugs, and jewelry, they probably do a good business. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe people travel to Alaska for the beauty, the wildlife, history, and culture. I find it hard believe that big business can't find an effective way to blend business with the beauty of Alaska and it's history, while keeping the integrity of both. I get that tourism is a huge part of Alaska. but I was so turned off by the commercialism of the ports, I vowed to never take another cruise. To be honest I felt a little cheated and somewhat scammed... Not by Alaska, but by the cruise lines. I'm sure Alaska bought into big business in an effort to survive, and that isn't unusual.  I read somewhere that "They've prostituted themselves to tourism".  It was probably a slow fade.... A
slippery slope. It's like a drug dealer offering you just a little buzz only to find yourself months later being someone you never intended to be. Don't get me wrong, Juneau, and the other ports in Alaska are beyond beautiful, but I left Juneau with heavy heart and a since of loss. Behind the glass
windows of the jewelry stores, behind all the tee-shirts and mugs, is a culture that is drowning in waters it was never meant to swim. America has prostituted itself out in so many ways. I was hoping I would find authenticity in Alaska that is missing everywhere else. I don't mean to be a Debbie Downer,  I just wish the lightbulb hadn't gone off until further into the cruise, or even when I got home. It seems that no matter how far you travel looking for authenticity, it becomes more and more difficult to find. Still, the beauty of the Alaskan landscape is better than anything you will find on Main Street... Even those without Jewelry

Friday, June 3, 2016

Air Guitar Wonder of the World

Day one of the cruise was laid back, getting settled in, and of course getting acquainted with the essential amenities of the ship..... AKA where all the food happens. Mike's number one mission was to scope out the hot spots for musical enjoyment. First thing we did was gather for a serious game of Putt-Putt. When Mike and I were first dating, we frequently paired up with my cousin and her husband for a competitive game of Putt-Putt. I would put on my 4 inch golfing stilettos and if memory serves me right, we kicked butt on the Putt-Putt course. Jerry and Doretta may have a different version of events, but neither of them have a blog so my version trumps theirs.  This practice match was pretty evenly divided, but I'm certain with my creative score keeping, and the fact that it's my blog, we may have ended on top again. After dinner we found a nice pub that offered live music so we picked a table and took up some space on the dance floor.... Well, Mike and I did. According to Jerry..... Jerry don't dance, which is too bad because that would have been double entertainment. Later in the evening, the cruise director came into the pub and announced the beginnings of a "Air Guitar" contest. People didn't volunteer as much as they were dragged kicking and screaming onto the dance floor with instructions to play like there was not tomorrow when it was your turn to "Air Guitar". Mike was the first reluctant contestant, followed by three women each differing in age. Sadly, Mike was first up. The Cruise Director told him to play "Air Guitar" like his life depended on it, to which he replied.... "I don't play guitar, I play bass." She responded... "Not tonight you don't." Being slightly less dramatic than myself, he put decent effort into his Air Guitar performance. He definitely took a step outside his comfort zone and embraced the adventure of memory making and for being an all around good sport. The next lady did a fair job, but I wasn't impressed. Then a tall, leggy blond stepped up and with the first strum of the guitar she dropped to her knees, laid flat on her back and began to twirl around on the floor while rocking her air guitar. That was the moment I knew the coveted bottle of champagne, and ship on a stick would not be going back with us to our cabin.... And rightly so. Had Mike dropped to his knees like that, I'm certain of two things.... A) He would never be able to get up and B) He would never walk again. The leggy blond was very bendy, an asset coveted by less bendy people like myself. Mike had nothing to hang his head in shame over. He stepped up to the plate when asked and gave it his all. That's what vacations are all about. Stepping out of your comfort zone, doing things you've never done before and leaving with precious, and sometimes hilarious memories to have and to hold (unlike the ship on a stick and bottle of champagne I didn't get to hold) . It doesn't take an Air Guitar wonder to make a wonderful vacation, but it sure does help and one of the reasons having him around makes every vacation special.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Shipless in Seattle

Our Alaskan Vacation started in Seattle. I was excited about visiting Seattle because I am a huge Sleepless in Seattle and Grey's Anatomy Fan (insert scene where Annie goes to Sam's house)..... Awe, that's something I'll have to put on my Seattle bucket list for next time.... Rabbit Trail!  We stayed at the famous Edgewater Hotel located on the waterfront. The Beatles, along with other music icons, have stayed there. The most famous picture of the hotel is one showing the Beatles fishing from the balcony of their room. Our room was nice with a cozy fireplace, a very expensive stuffed bear footstool, and a balcony we could have fished from had we the urge to do so. Strangely, the urge did not hit me, but the urge to purchase the adorable footstool did..... For a nanosecond, maybe longer as I tried in vain to justify the $450.00 price tag. Seriously, how often do I find the need to prop my feet up for a while. Plenty! But even I, the impulsively ridiculous shopper that I am, could not find sufficient reason for such a purchase regardless of the cuteness factor (trust me I tried really hard). After checking into the hotel, we walked down the waterfront. We ate lunch beside the Seattle Great Wheel, and strolled through Pike Market. Pike Market is fascinating. It is an open market of fish, flowers, and every other imaginable thing. Before heading back to the hotel, we stopped by the original Starbucks. By the end of the evening we were exhausted and shipless in Seattle. What better way to start a great vacation?