Archive for February, 2013

Just knitting

February 28th, 2013 Comments off

or maybe a shawl. I brought about six balls of the Schoppel Gradient with me.



started it a couple of days ago and just finished it up along with a hat. In worsted weight it seemed to take more time to do a picot bind off than knit the edge pattern.

Categories: Knitting Tags:

St Thomas

February 27th, 2013 3 comments

is US Territory (Virgin Islands). I think I have been here before, but maybe not. After a while, most of the Caribbean Islands blur together if you want the absolute truth. What is interesting is the British side of the road driving.

Ships in port:
MSC Posie
NCL Epic
Carnival Glory

Haven’t decided if I am going to bother going back after my camera or not. The older part of Charlotte Amalie is interesting but unfortunately at this point is completely converted to jewelry shops (and souvenir stands and …..) and packed with people (see ship list above)..

Headed out of town in the opposite direction – I skipped all the fancy stuff in favor of just wandering around town. Free Wifi in front of Kmart – who’d of thunk it?

Meanwhile – yes, am knitting!

Underwater Garden is the pattern

Underwater Garden is the pattern

Categories: Travel Tags:

Been here before

February 26th, 2013 Comments off

This is the first port for this cruise – the lovely tourist trap of St Maarten. It is the wonderful French/Dutch shared island that has fared so much better over the years than the other more infamous Dominican Republic/Haiti combination.

The ships always dock on the Phillipsburg side of the island where there are more people getting off ships on any particular day than there are residents of the whole region.

Besides the NCL Epic – also in port today are
1) MSC Posia who is bound for the Mediterranean. Last minute bargains on this ship included balcony rooms for under $400/person.
2) Club Med 2 – tiny in comparison to the be moths
3) Adventure of the Sea
4) Celebrity Reflection

bringing the total number in port to a cast literally of thousands most of whom have absolutely no idea where they are going.

My plan for today is simple – hit the drug store for lotion, hair conditioner and a hair brush (remember that locked suitcase?) and then get on the internet at one of the cafe’s. Considering that you are reading this, I obviously succeeded. In fact I am relaxed with my ice tea sitting at Pirates in Paradise where $3 gets me till my battery dies on the laptop!

Categories: Travel Tags:

A quiet corner

February 25th, 2013 Comments off

These are the stats for this ship –

who is on the ship

who is on the ship

which translates to a lot of people (mostly English and Spanish speaking Americans) all over the place. So far the easiest way to get away from everyone is to hike the stairs between decks. No one, not even the kids bother to take the stairs. As is common to many ships, there are not enough deck chairs, sitting space or places to go where you can avoid the sales pitches.

There is absolute sense of chaos and people and lights on this ship. As someone said when explaining why they liked NCL better – they didn’t like things quite as staid. What is noticeable is how many first time cruisers there are on this ship – I think it is well over 1/2 (as apposed to those TAs I was on last fall where well over half of those on board were Diamond or Diamond +).

I did a ship’s tour – provided free of charge to the Platinum Latitudes members which went to the Gallery, the Spiegel Tent (dinner theater with acrobats) and the bridge observation room. The galley is always interesting, the rest not as much since those are things you can pretty much see without supervision.

the senior chef for the two main dining rooms

the senior chef for the two main dining rooms

prep ares

prep ares

prep areas

prep areas

my fav snack

my fav snack

loaves rising before heading into the ovens

loaves rising before heading into the ovens

fresh baked bread

fresh baked bread

And the bridge observation area –

NCL Epic - 2010 to the present plaques

NCL Epic – 2010 to the present plaques

But most of all – I needed a quiet corner which I finally found. The aft stairway has sheltered locations, no seating but no people and lovely fresh air. I saw no one for about three hours while enjoying sunshine and a mild breeze from an extremely blue ocean. Complete with knitting I was happy camper.

sun, sea and no one else!

sun, sea and no one else!

my quiet corner

my quiet corner

Categories: Travel Tags:

It is really cute

February 24th, 2013 4 comments
yes, my desert arrival night

yes, my desert arrival night

Ok, so I have now tried the Studio rooms on the NCL Epic. Even though they are now advertised for the solo traveler, that is not for whom they were originally designed. Some bright person had this idea that they would be low budget interior cabins all aligned parallel to the corridors maximizing the use of otherwise potentially wasted internal space.

Along with the studios, There is also the Living Room” the Lounge area with key card access restricted to those in the studios. The important thing (besides the tables and chairs) is that there is the same kind of coffee machine that you find in the Lufthansa lounges allowing you to make your own lattes. cappuccinos and expressos effectively saving a lot of money.

But anyway – the original concept didn’t work. The cabins are in no way are big enough to have a parent (or so) in one cabin with monsters offspring in the small connecting cabin. There is simply hardly enough storage space for me with my one carry on suitcase, let alone someone with a normal size suitcase. The idea two peoples’ stuff is just ludicrous.

So anyway, this is the cabin.

sleeping end of the cabin

sleeping end of the cabin

The fact that I can easily fit the whole room into one photo has to tell you something.

the shower and lav end of my cabin

the shower and lav end of my cabin

In reality, I have lived in smaller single dorm rooms. Since all of them had single beds they did have more floor space which meant that you could have that all critical item – a desk. Here they have a small table which fails to have a drawer making it almost useless for any items since the clearance between it and the mini shelf directly above is less than 10cm. Some of the storage is kind of cool – the small stool that goes with the table has a lid that pops off so that you can put things inside. There are also a couple of wicker bins that fit under the bed.

Since the bed is a normal size bed made up in the usual ship fashion from two singles with a filler piece to make a full size bed there is plenty of room under the bed to slide suitcases.
It is interior, it is safe. And did you notice the walls – I have finally arrived …..

yes - a padded room

yes – a padded room

Categories: Travel Tags:

NCL Epic

February 23rd, 2013 3 comments

In case you hadn’t guess – I am headed to see again. By the time this post gets released by the server I should be seeing the lights of Miami fading behind me.

I haven’t been on a ship this size before and it should be interesting. Have arranged to have supper with some cruise critic folks prior to a show tonight (some of the venues are too small for walk-ins so you actually make reservations – like Blue Man Group…..)

Tomorrow is a sea day so I may not be on line again till Tues.


Sat Feb 23 Miami, FL 4:00pm
Sun Feb 24 At Sea
Mon Feb 25 At Sea
Tue Feb 26 St. Maarten 8:00am 6:00pm
Wed Feb 27 St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 8:00am 4:00pm
Thu Feb 28 At Sea
Fri Mar 1 Nassau, Bahamas Noon 7:00pm
Sat Mar 2 Miami, FL 8:00am
Categories: Travel Tags:

Knitters everywhere

February 22nd, 2013 5 comments

After waking up at a perfectly reasonable time – for Heidelberg I gave up on sleeping and puttered around till catching the 0430 shuttle to the airport.

The United Club is hands down (way down) a sad excuse for a Star Alliance Gold Airport Lounge. I think it has to do with all the free passes, the willingness to sell passes and the awarding of passes with United Credit Card Usage. Anyway – it was a mix of obvious business people with many who could have easily competed with the slovenly dressed and behaving of last week….

But the WiFi was blazing fast for the first hour which let me salvage a significant number of old purchases off of iTunes which the nice person had reloaded for me (one time download).

But then there were the flights.

I wound up sitting next to a couple of Coast Guard people which was fun. But more fun was when one of the cabin attendants stopped by and commented about my knitting. When he stopped a second time and showed me a couple of shawls he had knit for friends (iPhones make wonderful photo galleries) I happily handed him the package of crazy zauberball (greens) that I had sitting in my lap. I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do with, and it obviously had been waiting for a chance to go be a shawl for a red-headed woman.

Later when I went to the back to get a glass of juice one of the other flight attendants said – oh, you are the one! He has been showing that yarn to everyone and is just thrilled.

So in spite of a long day complete with lounge in Dulles packed to the gills, full flight of screaming kids to Florida and all the transfers involved in shuttle bus->Tri-Rail->shuttle bus to MIA -> shuttle bus to hotel it was a good day.

Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

No, it didn’t

February 21st, 2013 7 comments

After almost hysterically discussing the situation with George, I elected to take a different suitcase. Of course, the clothes that I wanted to take are no longer available all tucked carefully and safely packed. The good point was that there are neither yarn nor prescription drugs inside that suitcase.

Oh, sorry, one partly completed hat on a really good needle but it is not like I don’t have a squillion other needles in every size anyone could ever want. Even a pair of 35mm needles that I don’t remember buying or needing.

Anyway, checking on the website – it says “take it to a dealer” which is simply not possible at 2200 at night nor is there one closer than Frankfurt or Stuttgart. If I take it, the only chance of getting it open would be if a TSA6 key might work. But if it doesn’t I have hauled along a suitcase that I can’t open. Clipping off the closure tags voids the warrantee (5 years, any and all repairs for defects or damage not caused deliberately) and leaves me with twist ties holding the tabs together (stupid).

He swears that he will take it in sometime in the next month and bring whatever I want to California in March. Thinking about it after I packed the second line of clothes, there are only about a dozen things I really want (second swimsuit, flip-flops, two shirts and a great pair of hiking pants). The list will be short. I can take the neglected clothes to Australia as a consolation prize….

So I have the carryon and the small yarn duffle and my backpack with electronics (cameras, laptop, phones, charges, mini, chips and cables….)

Cab to train station (hey, I am not walking at 0500 in the morning and besides it is really cold out there), train to Frankfurt, lovely time in the shiny lounge, plane flight (spent some of that hard earned mileage for an upgrade which means I probably have enough to get me to the UK and back this summer for a trip up to Iceland).

On the plane I finished a hat in fingering weight yarn, 1 1/2 audio books, a ZuZu’s Petals in worsted weight Schoppel Ombre Reggea Rainbow and started a matching hat.

La Quinta bed looked pretty good this afternoon.

Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Will it open

February 20th, 2013 5 comments

I am organized. All the documents that I need are printed up and in my binder. The electronics (except for the computer) area safely stowed in my backpack. The yarn bag is stuffed and everything fit neatly and securely in my suitcase.

My suitcase is one of those fancy, high end models with a combination lock. Which I found, when I went back to add one more thing, doesn’t want to open…….

Flight is at 1000 in the morning. Now the key question is – repair place along the line or TSA key……

Categories: Travel Tags:

shouldn’t have gone?

February 19th, 2013 1 comment

A friend of mine and I staged an escape today. I decided it was a reward for having made it through a morning of being literally frozen in more than four dozen places by my favorite dermatologist, getting a number of on post errands run and managing to get two smashed up pairs of glasses turned into one functional pair.

Shanda & I headed to Schoppel. Now I will acknowledge having been there last week and buying yarn but I just couldn’t resist especially since I won’t be around for a couple of months and she is PCSing in early June. Headed to Colorado, her husband is retiring.

So anyway after stopping at her house for a warm soup lunch we hit the road. Not even bothering with the GPS we just headed off, me driving and she knitting.

Some kilometers after the Weinberg Drieck, not even sure where, the traffic started to slow to the inevitable stau. Not being completely stupid, I switched it on and we headed off road carefully following directions. Crossing back over the A6, we could see traffic extending as far as we could see.

And then I forgot about the whole thing figuring that it would be over when we headed back especially since there didn’t seem to be any problem with the west bound traffic.

We shopped, chatted and otherwise had a great time stuffing our handbaskets with yarn, then the bags in the car.

The traffic, however didn’t clear out as we found to our dismay on the return journey. Stupidly we got on the A6 only to slam to a stop about 3 km later. The GPS meanwhile saying absolutely nothing. My iPhone (lovely browser that!) informed me that there was a mulitple vehicle accident and that A6 was closed in both directions for hours. Remember what I said about no problems with on coming traffic?

Anyway, we managed to get out the back gate at the next rest stop followed by over an hour’s worth of traipsing across the back country of Germany somewhere between Bavaria and Bad-Wuertemburg attempting to by pass an area of autobahn without parallel local roads. Meanwhile, the stupid lady kept trying to send me back to the autobahn. She didn’t even bother to tell me about traffic when I had been in the first stau for over 45 minutes.

It was dark when I got back to PHV. It was even darker when I made it home only to find that I had left my purse at Shanda’s. Forget it – I am going to bed!

Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Nicer digs

February 18th, 2013 Comments off

I am sitting in the lounge at the Vienna Airport. The Senator lounge is lovely. Unlike the United Lounges which barely give you peanuts this lounge has two fridges full of beverages (non-alcoholic as well as beer), wine & whiskey, a great coffee machine, soup, salads, a hot entree, several deserts and fresh fruit.  Is it any wonder I like sticking with Lufthansa and its partners?

I might have mentioned taking  the upgrade for cheap offered when I checked in. As a result, I was able to use the executive lounge up one floor from my room. It didn’t get me free internet access but did give me the very nice buffet breakfast and extensive snacks in the evening which more than substitutes for dinner. The increased cost was well less than the cost of two meals aday. Now if I drank it would be an even better bargain.  What I also found, on the vary last day was that if you wanted free wifi in the hotel lobby you had to go to the desk and ask for a log-in slip. DUH!

The reason I am thinking about all of this relates to cost per day.  It can cost more per day to stay in a hotel in Vienna than it does as a single occupant in a Junior Suite for 15 days of a transatlantic cruise. On the one hand, you are in Vienna. On the other you have your transportation, room, meals, entertainment (ship) and fellow travelers…..

I think I am going to run an ongoing cost comparison and see where I am at the end of the year. I have this feeling that it is probably like speeding on the autobahn – the incremental cost is never worth it, but it does add up at the end….

and yes – I managed two hats and a scarf at the conference…


Categories: Travel Tags:

One Health

February 17th, 2013 3 comments

Even though it is a major initiative well past first blush of implementation, I would be willing to bet that almost none of you have heard of  One Health.  The idea – establishing close links between human and veterinary medicine make absolute sense. People affect the environment (wildlife as well as climate in their roles as anything from pet owners to farmers, developers, explorers and tourists) while animal health is key to both the food supply as well as infectious disease.

I have borrowed the following map to give you an idea of some of the newly emerging problems. Some diseases are shared between animals and peoples with one or the other serving as host. Others are a simple, inadvertent spill over into the other population.


It is a concept whose time is probably long over due. Established in ~ 2007-2008 it has spread well beyond the founding at University of Iowa (yes Virginia, there is actually life and good works in the middle of the corn belt) and has seen buy in at governmental, NGO, grass roots and private foundations.  The CDC has jumped on the band wagon, using the concept to further progress in Med-Vet interface as well as flu surveillance while the EU has to a large extent gone in the direction of biosecurity.

In any case, the idea is that professionals from a wide spectrum of backgrounds work together on common interests and grounds with the idea that the interface should provide some synergy and accelerate progress on some of the more complicated challenges.

If the whole thing leaves you thinking “blinding flash of the obvious” please remember that we make progress to a large extent through research. Academicians make their name by becoming expert in a very specialized field. That tend toward highly specialized interest starts before graduate school, is further guided through PhD research and encouraged by the whole publication process. Multi-disciplinary is not a familiar concept to most.

In practical application it means that slaughtering off large numbers of poultry infected with H5N1 (HPAI) is not really done for the benefit of the farmer (who loses the flock prior to being able to slaughter and sell the birds) but it prevents spread to others and  humans. At the same time, the impact of the loss of protein to the population will have implications for human health well beyond the small risk of infection spread.

It means that surveillance of West Nile Virus needs to include entomology (the mosquitos), local bird flocks (wild life management), horses (vet services) and human case reporting (encephalitis). Any single one of these will neither give the whole picture nor the extent of the disease impact from either infectious load or economic cost.

See! I do listen as well as knit….

Categories: Medicine Tags:

People Watching

February 16th, 2013 11 comments

or perhaps I should title this one “business attire.”

I think you all know that I am in my early (!) sixties which means that my opinions of what is proper to wear for different occasions are informed from growing up the fifties augmented by being at University in the 1960s. You also have heard my rants about inappropriate dress in the main dining room on cruise ships.

I can remember professional medical meetings from the mid-1970s. Everyone was in business attire and by that I specifically mean sports jackets/suits on the men and blazers with skirts or pants (or dresses) on the women.

This experience was followed by years of attending various assorted conferences and meetings either sponsored by or paid for by mililtary services of one country or another. Again, a uniform or dress code was the standard of the day. To a certain extent you and your professionalism was judged on the way you presented yourself.

I don’t know when fashion changed. I can actually understand not seeing many people dressed up at a travel medicine meeting. One of the things that unifies those who are travel med is their personal adiction to travel and dress seems to reflect travel and recreational modes. You will see plenty of hiking trousers and fleece.

At regular medical meetings I guess I expected a bit more. Causal and slovenliness is not uniform across the board. Those from various Asian nations are uniformly well and conservatively dressed. Almost all those non-caucasians representing various African locations are also in jackets and ties. Those over 60 and most over 50 are dressed conservatively which just leaves especially those under 40 from Western Europe and North America.

Jeans, t-shirts and the occasional sweatshirt seem to be the standard. Sandals and falling apart chucks on the feet. Now it is one thing if you are sitting in the audience for the main meeting but if you are one of the presentors?

Is it me? Am I reflecting old trends which say appearances count? Does how you dress impact your audience; show respect? Or are those totally irrelevant concepts to today’s young professionals. And I do emphasize professionals. The minimal educational level in this group seems to be a master’s dregree with a huge number having a doctrate level degree in one field or another (medicince, public health, stats, epi, lab sciences, modeling, vet).

Ah well. I will continue to wear a blazer and look how I think an adult should appear. Of course, I suppose that some might object to my knitting……

Categories: military, Travel Tags:


February 15th, 2013 6 comments

It was early this morning (0428 train) to Frankfurt in order to catch my 0705 flight to Vienna. No, I didn’t need to fly that early but three guesses as to which flights are the least expensive… From this afternoon through to Monday I am attending the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance which is being held in a really nice hotel (the Hilton) in Vienna (great city).

Given that it was right around freezing it didn’t surprise me that we ran through de-icing on the runway while learning from the pilot that Fraport has 53 of the purpose built trucks at a cost of .5-1.2ME each as we rolled between the rows of spraying trucks. Delay there was much less than trying to land in Vienna where you couldn’t see the runway for the ice, snow and fog – and that was as we were rolling to our outer parking position having lost the gate access because of the delays.

If you haven’t used the CAT in Vienna, I can highly recommend it. A non-stop train that leaves the airport every 30 minutes and ends at the mid-Vienna trainstation. The cost round trip is less than a portion of a shared taxi one way with non-of the frustrations of traffic. Since the meeting location was the Hilton, I was able to just walk across the street and be there.

International meeting – 700 people from 100 countries (countries of current location and not, I suspect country of origin) from about 60 different academic/educational/employment backgrounds. It is fun seeing the epidemiologists with the docs, vets, economists, engineers who work for NGOs/Governments/UN/Universities/private foundations/consulting groups.

And an evening in Vienna after the meeting – what more could I want?

Categories: Travel Tags:

Not even 60

February 14th, 2013 4 comments

George took the call from Reiner this afternoon.

We met Nina Fink in In the summer of 1994. Out in one of the small towns near Heidelberg at a Fest and there was a group of spinners. One of them was Nina. She reached out to this fairly lost American and made me feel welcome in the local spinning guild. Over the next several years she and I got to know each other better at various spinning demonstrations and Spinntreff. Our families got together for various picnics and other events. My eldest has been good friends with their eldest for years and we have known their youngest since birth. George and Reiner have collaborated on some projects.

Since they live off the end of the earth (train or car to Eberbach then head up into the Odenwald till you feel like you have traveled back decades. The old house in which they live used to be a guesthouse complete with hof, barn/stables/carriage house and a huge room for parties. The place was packed on her 40th birthday (14? 15? years ago).

What with the distance and my retirement, the last time we physically saw each other was at our home in May 2011 (Been there, Done with That party).

Nina in the yellow shirt and her son Tim. Nanawolf is in the middle

Nina in the yellow shirt with her son Tim. Nanawolf is in the middle

Apparently she started feeling ill and developed what is often called “the dwindles” about six months ago. Repeated doctor visits didn’t come up with a cause. But Nina was her own person as well; German by birth she became an Australian citizen when they lived there 25 years ago. Didn’t matter to her what the local Amt had to say when she returned about residency permits and the like. Aussie she had decided to be, and Aussie she was. So you might say a bit stubborn. She turned down the advanced diagnostics offered.

Last Thursday, 7 Feb, she took a sudden turn for the worse and went the “stop breathing, ambulance, resuscitation, hospital, intensive care” route but nothing worked.

Reiner called tonight to tell us. It turned out to be disseminated cancer. There will be a memorial service in about a week.

Bright, funny and extremely capable, her loss will be felt not just by her family but all the rest of us who knew her. One of those people who helped without question and rarely asked for much of anything in return. Saying someone was a good mother, goat herder, spinner and baker might not be impressive to many in this day and age but it made a difference to her husband and children.

Besides feeling the hole that is there, I acknowledge my share of anger. At myself for not staying in closer touch since we always think we have all the time in the world. And at Nina for not being willing to find out what was wrong in the face of increasing physical illness. She might not have chosen to live her life any differently, but her family would have had time to come to terms with a future empty of her.

George and I looked at each other. We will do what we can for both Reiner and Timmy over the coming months. We also made the commitment to each other to “knock you over the head and drag you in by the hair (long, short, doesn’t matter)” if either of us gets ill. I am a believer in knowledge as a way to exercise what little control one has in this life. Denial and avoidance generally don’t have any better result than having information and can limit choices.

I can’t die in my mid-50s – I am already well past that. Losing friends younger than me? Just should not happen…….

Categories: family, home, Spinning Tags:

We went to Schoppel

February 13th, 2013 3 comments

All knitters are yarn aficionados. Some of us have an affinity for certain weights of yarn others for a particular style of knitting. Fiber content is important to somes and to others, eh? good deal is critical. For sheer fun – you can’t beat Zauberball if you are a sock or lace knitter.

A couple of years ago, Nanawolf (go see Ravelry) and I took an expeditionary drive to Wallhausen on the far side of Crailsheim to check out Schoppel’s outlet at their factory. We had a great time and I brought home more than I could possibly use. The other day I checked the stash and found that I was down to one package of sport weight yarn and a couple of weird lace color combinations.

Accordingly, another field trip was in order. Since yesterday just happened to be Faschingdienstag, two of the women from the Saturday Red Strikkgruppe just happened to be available. In one case, the office was closed. For the other – no school. And we found lots of pretty things.

We weren’t the only one’s hunting on the bargain shelves. One young woman had a huge shopping bag to fill. Apparently she is the only knitter in the family who lives near the outlet so before she heads home for Easter she had a list from mother, sisters, aunts and various others to fill. I know this because I over head her explaining very patiently for the fourth time over the phone that, yes, she was at the store. But no – they did not have that color in the remainders. Did [fill in the person] want to pay full price? No? Ok then what would they like instead? And around and around.

So anyway, I bought treasures all of which but that at the end are sock weight long color repeat yarns

standard grey/white/black

standard grey/white/black

lovely blues

lovely blues

sunset colors

sunset colors



royal and darker blues

royal and darker blues

guy browns and tans

guy browns and tans

The other yarn I picked up was worsted weight for a couple of hats & Scarves

worsted weight fall colors

worsted weight fall colors

and the start of the first hat

and the start of a hat

Great day – I think I will go again in May (grin)

Categories: Knitting Tags:

Clean Up

February 12th, 2013 Comments off

You remember that I showed you this …

packing or unpacking?

packing or unpacking?

as what I came home to find.

No cleaning fairy or otherwise kind human being had done anything to improve the chaos in the 22 days that I was on the NCL Jade being spoiled with cabin staff, concierge and butler.

Then I started looking at my task list. Among other things, I have to find my retirement orders and household goods shipping extension paperwork in order to request one more year delay. If I don’t request the extension prior to 30 April, I lose the option. Since I am headed to the states the end of next week – there is a bit of criticalness to finding the forms. Obviously it seemed foolish to search the bedroom without organizing it at the same time.

This is the result accomplished by yesterday evening.

Not perfect, but there is actually a floor and clothes in the closet!

Not perfect, but there is actually a floor and clothes in the closet!

the side with the computer is mine .....

the side with the computer is mine …..


Unfortunately, the paperwork didn’t turn up so it is back to hunting in the living room and the disaster that is my husband’s office….

Categories: home Tags:

Not having fun here

February 11th, 2013 Comments off

Oh no, not all all. You see, WordPress has been nagging me for a while to update to the latest version. Since doing that involves FTPing a bunch of files (my other choice would be to reinstall and use subversions from here on out – not an option because I would have to call the nice people in Hamburg, get passwords reset and otherwise try to figure out exactly what I did on account set up almost six years ago)…

Where was I? Oh yes, losing my mind in electronic technicalities. I dearly love my MacBook Air, but I have yet to find a decent FTP program for the Mac that offers the range of capabilites in SmartFTP. Also, there is that issue of log-in passwords and the like. All of this comes down to needing to be at home with access to an old small Acer netbook purchased back in about when I went to the UK. I know this because I remember having it in the UK plus it has an older version of windoze that works reasonably well (and still has an easy to find Command line interface).

So there I am, dragging and dropping sets of files into FTP on this tiny and hard on my eyes screen. When I finally finish I head back to my blog. It opens. I don’t like the new admin interface but that is easily fixable.

What I really don’t like is that a couple of the edit buttons don’t work. I use the “edit date/time” function to place posts ahead for the first day of a cruise. I also use it occasionally when uploading back posts for reasons of clarity. Then I find the public/private post toggle isn’t working either. Then the media uploader refuses to function.

It is time to go back to my knitting!

Categories: computers Tags:

It wasn’t all that long ago

February 10th, 2013 5 comments
Feb 1979

Feb 1979

That she was a baby. At least in mom time it seems like just yesterday instead of 34 years ago that I had my first baby, toddler,



young girl. She has risen to the challenge of multiple moves as a result of her dad’s and my careers. Changed schools, changed cities, survived the growth of our family by three younger siblings. Got her degree in Hospitality & Hotel Management and entered the job market just in time to get flattened by the post 2001 tourism slow down. Over the years she has worked in hotels, restaurants and as a professional photographer. Like me, she spends more time behind the camera lens than in front of it.

In spite of all the challenges over the years, she has maintained a strong sense of self. Since she lives in Schwetzigen I still get to see her quite often. I enjoy spending time with the lovely competent woman my Eldest has become.

definitely blue eyes

definitely blue eyes

please send her birthday wishes

Categories: family, home Tags:

Only three

February 9th, 2013 Comments off

of us made it to Red today. I had been watching the discussion on Ravelry over the last few days and was starting to believe that I was the only one with any interest at all. After one other person posted that she was going to be there, I asked George to drop me off. As it turned out, Shannon had just moved and being without internet access had not been able to let anyone know that she would be coming.

So there we sat, Brigitta, Shannon and I for a couple of hours. Then imagine our surprise when one more member of the group (Elke) arrived. Pregnant with her second child she is hoping that her daughter will consent to come out by this coming Friday. Not surprisingly, she is pretty weary of being pregnant.

Categories: Knitting Tags:


February 8th, 2013 7 comments

There are occasional flashes of insight which while revealing are less than pleasant to accept. Many of us are masters of avoidance and I think I have honestly acquired advanced degrees. And sometimes it is the mundane, ordinary tasks of living that trigger off the thought process which might have been more pleasant left unexplored.

I am doing laundry; one of those repetitive tasks requiring minimal intelligence, perseverance and a tolerance for repetitiveness. To be up front, our laundry room has become the depository for the odd bit of clothing, unmatched sock and those things which various members of the family don’t recognize as owning. The result is the floor is somewhat akin to the stream where fishermen keep throwing back their catch in hopes of hooking something legal to keep or at least big enough to eat.

There are unmatched sock, ragged towels, boxer shorts, a couple of t-shirts missing for months and other detritus common to people who have both some money and closet space.

Picking up a couple of the items intending to toss them out, I froze. The sock had been kicking around the room for years but I remembered it on the foot of my youngest dancing out the door on the way to school. Those pink boxers? They survived 15 months of Camp Doha washing machines with the cotton becoming softer and the colors fading in the summer hot water.

Stuff for me is memories. I have never particularly thought of my self as a horder. After all, we can walk through the house, I toss items, donate things and otherwise recycle on a regular basis. That which comes (we will ignore the post office for the moment) are consumables, clothing/shoes, media of all kinds and craft supplies. Considering that we have been in this house since 2001, we are not doing all that badly. There are still empty cupboards, space in the attic and space to walk.

But not everything I have is still being used. Not counting yarn/fabric/fiber which comprise the largest amount of future stores/stash, the rest of what I have, faded and used as it may be is my living memory bank.

Handling a worn object, picking up a previously read book brings back memories. The item becomes a physical trigger on a window to what was. Some items are large – like the printer which has been sitting in George’s office since I returned from the UK in fall of 2010. Others as small – pamphlets, patterns, fabric pieces, 15 gms of sock yarn carefully balled up. There is the pile of sweaters and shawls which I am committed to finding new homes.

In the back hall are three boxes of various school books and papers. All three youngest are gone off to University. There is absolutely no reason to hang onto any of it. Six boxes have become three. I keep promising myself that the textbooks can go – finding a new home or landing on the free-cycle swap shelf will a swage by guilt at not knowing what to do with books never mind that some/most are probably outdated.

If I let things go, will I also be letting go of the memories? Alzheimers runs wide and deep from my mother’s side of the family. Perhaps it is why I cling so ferociously to things which have no use but emotional context. By keeping them I both ground myself in the present and review the past. It also occurred to me that some of these fears may lie underneath my lack of interest in permanently moving back to the states. It is not the closing of a chapter of my life – it is shutting the door on the daily reminders of my past.

Of course, none of this explains (other than the reminder that I spent more than enough money at Ally-Pally) why I need almost a dozen 3.00 mm circular needles of various materials and lengths. I don’t think that is hoarding – just simple greed.

Categories: home, Prose Tags:


February 7th, 2013 2 comments

is not just the book by Jared Diamond. I now have a bruise on my left arm to match the one on my left shin.

There I was, minding my own business or better yet attempting to clean up the disaster dump that passes for a bedroom on those days when I can actually find some place to sleep.

One way to clean up is to relocate to another area of the house. Right? Not being any dummy, I planned on relocating a significant portion of the flotsam on the floor to the appropriate shelve, container or cupboard of choice. Given basic similarities of substance or perhaps states of attraction I had planned on placing yarn with yarn, scarves with scarves, clothing on shelves or laundry baskets and my trip folios on the shelf in the living room where I have been unceremoniously tucking them away since my cruise jaunting started.

and there was a second shelf about 1/2 way up.

Happily placing the latest notebooks, I was horrified to hear CLUNK and looked in to see this –

and to look in on this jumble

a lot of unhappiness later including rescuing a file container from the garage and a large number of deep breaths

the bottom of the cupboard improved and the bag has all the loose stuff


the file box now has those things which are somewhat organized….

As a reward and all else fail I will console myself with chocolate.

See? It even says that it is mine!

Categories: home Tags:

Reading and

February 6th, 2013 1 comment

computer games.

I think you have probably guessed that I have not exactly been the height of ambition since returning home. When faced by another day of dreary weather accompanied by some snow, ice and sleet I had the perfect excuse to stay in bed with a cup of tea and my computer.

So what I should be doing is telling you all about the intellectual reading/listening that I am doing.

Instead, I will be honest and call it easy listening…. and easy knitting and three kinds of naps. Except for the Pirate Solitaire and Bird Town.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:


February 5th, 2013 3 comments

Have I mentioned my love/hate relationship with salt?

First – the book. Salt by Mark Kurlansky is $2.99 last viewed on Kindle and $6.99 in audio. A journalist known for his off-beat views (who else would put forth the proposal that Cod – the fish – was key to world development, travel and certain groups domination) and interesting non-fiction.

Anyway – I have both the eBook and audio courtesy of some deal or another.

I have been enjoying listening as I knit. It didn’t hurt that for most of the book (non-fiction I listen to in spurts unlike fiction where I plow right through) I was on a cruise ship in the Eastern Med sailing past many of the ports mentioned and thinking about the Phoenicians, Greeks and other early sailors on the waters.

The other part of salt relates to everyday issues of diet and rationality. at home I don’t use salt in anything beyond the minimum needed in baking to control yeast. I don’t add it to food. I don’t put in water to make it boil quicker and there probably has not been a salt shaker in my house in decades. I don’t particularly like the taste and my guy just happens to have some issues with his blood pressure. Since he grew up with a mother who believed that “a little bit isn’t going to hurt” while on three meds and later died of a stroke, I take such things rather seriously.

Then there is cuisine on cruise ships where the cooks are young and healthy, the passengers often old and not and salt use goes by the handful not gram. Normally I come home at the same weight as I left courtesy of a bit of disciplin and a lot of time spent in the fitness center.

This time not so – I managed to trash my shin significantly in Alayna (first loop) and found that the pain and leg swelling caused by treadmill/elliptical/bike attempts simply was not worth it. So I skipped all of that. I still watched the food but was appalled to find that it appeared that I had gained a couple of kilos over the three weeks.

Not so as it turns out – this morning I was back to my pre-cruise weight. More importantly, my ankles and feet felt normal. As it turns out, all that salt certainly made an impact and even the amount of water I was drinking on the ship wasn’t enough to make up for the cooks love of the salt.

Maybe it was the lack of exercise and sweating that turned the tide? In any case, I will continue to read about salt and, disappointed, will have to watch what I eat while indulging in future cruises….

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:


February 4th, 2013 Comments off

There were various messages on the answerphone (I never listen – if it is important someone will either call back or send me an email) related to my optometry appointment. The first couple of messages were reminders and George had mentioned Landstuhl. No clue, appointment is local.

I had myself up, oriented and headed out the door in plenty of time. There was no traffic going in the kaserne gate which should have been a warning in and of itself. The parking lot was empty. Almost totally empty – the way it never is other than 0300 in the morning in the old days when there were no inpatients and the CSM was enforcing the parking rules on the staff.

Sign in the clinic? Open at 1300.

Wait a minute! It is Monday. There is a huge screen TV on the wall with some kind of nonsense about American Football. And the penny drops.

This is Superbowl Monday. Not Sunday- mind you that was yesterday. But for Europe which is six hours time ahead of the US East Coast it means that anyone who stayed up for the game would be bleary eyed and unsafe to be in PT formation at 0545. Hence – Superbowl Monday in USAREUR where the world doesn’t kick off till 1300 on that single day each year.

Anyway – I got up for nothing. But while I was up I detoured to the train station in order to review the bidding at Jack Wolfskin. It is the end of the winter sales. Nothing I wanted. Oh – if I needed a new jacket or some ski pants it would have been a great trip, but I am looking for my size in interesting tops or midrange weight hiking pants to replace the pair torn in Alayna.

Sleep and reading sound really nice right about now!

Categories: home Tags:


February 3rd, 2013 Comments off

This is the way that I normally keep my cabin on ship –

9672 on the Jade with Dani

a typical day

and this is the contrast.

the nest

packing or unpacking?

Dr Holly and Ms Chaos?

I started cleaning with really great intentions right before taking off for the NCL Jade last month. All my closets are cleaned and organized but I kind of got in a hurry with the packing and just didn’t finish.

For those of you who have seen my cabin on various ships secondary to cabin crawls or parties, I know that you are reeling in shock. But I think I have finally figured out why.

On a ship, if I don’t keep everything policed up and put away, then someone else comes in and neatens the place. Now when it comes to beds, towels and rugs I don’t care. But I really don’t want someone else messing around with my clothes, yarn, computers, cameras or knitting. The only way to make sure that stuff is safe is to keep it all tucked away. At home, if it is chaos, it is just going to take me longer to find it. But there is absolutely no chance of anyone else straightening or cleaning. So things will be where I left them – hours, days, months or years later. When it comes to dust bunnies now as large as elephants this could be frightening but I don’t have to worry about finding neatly folded pjs under my pillow (something I find also completely scary).

There is also the point where the chaos takes over ones life. I could do something about my side of the room given the desire, a few hours and laundry detergent. But since we are out – I have a lovely excuse to crawl back in bed with a book……

Categories: home Tags:

Three Hours?

February 2nd, 2013 Comments off

You have to be kidding!

Seriously, most of us (not all mind you) but most of us get to the airport quite early any more. It takes time to get through the lines, the security along with the general madness.

In the US with luggage drop off ending almost an hour before a flight and boarding starting whenever the crew feels like – arriving 2 hours at minimum for a domestic flight and 3-4 hours for International is the only way to stay sane.

Since this wonderful Irishman had managed to put together a group of us for a van ride to the airport, I cheerfully joined the group at 0800 to head off down the Autostrada. Taking less than an hour, we were at the International Terminal.

The young man at the Lufthansa desk (VIP desk no less) informs me that 1) standby is not possible for an earlier flight but I can pay 120E to leave early. No, not going there. and 2) at Rome you can’t check in more than three hours before a flight.

Huh? Three hours? You are serious?

He is serious. I wander off and find a nice place to sit and read/knit. When I head back to the counter a few hours later there is this lovely woman. I ask her about the three hours. She looks at me and says that “you are a senator class traveler, of course we would have checked you in so that you could have spent your waiting time in the lounge.”

I thank her kindly and inform her that her colleague refused to check me in early but I certainly appreciated her assistance. Two minutes and I had a printed boarding pass, an entry for the airline lounge and ticket to use the Fast Track security lane.

Lovely idea, that. Six Italians running screening for two VIP lanes. I was their only customer which means that I was essentially ignored. Dropping all my jackets, kit, computers and backpack on the conveyor, I walked through the metal detector and repacked everything. Waving a cheery goodbye, I sped off before someone could change their mind.

Lufthansa uses an absolutely lovely lounge with free Wifi, cappuccinos, pastries, sandwiches and a full line of drinkables. The plane was more or less on time and more than 1/2 empty on this rainy Saturday.

George picked me up in Frankfurt and we stopped for Thai on the way home.

Categories: home, Travel Tags:

Did I mention?

February 1st, 2013 3 comments

Chocolate? Last night was the chocolate buffet, so here are a couple of photos. A few of the critters have been around for a while (sometimes I wonder at the storage requirements. OTOH – if you haul out “decorations” every 7-11 days, it obviously makes more sense to maintain than to keep making the display items over and over…..)

After that – several friends stopped over for Munchies while we waited for Stromboli to hove into view. The eruptions were not exactly spectacular this time, but I did get a great shot of Orion in the night sky as well as the moon…..

Categories: Travel Tags: