Back at Sea

January 15th, 2015 No comments

15 Jan 2015 – back at Sea

Yesterday I returned to the ship in time for lunch. In truth I had planned to spend a bit of time in town but after a 20 min walk failed to find an ATM I decided to just hang it

There has been a significant turn over in passengers. I believe we are just about out of Russians after the 700+ from last week left. What is more important than announcements only in
English, German and Italian? Not that I really minded the French, Russian and Spanish. The age distribution has changed. European schools are back in session. So this 10 days instead of 429 passengers aged 16 and under we will be traveling only with the Auusies and the under 6 set. Ought to be a lot quieter.

I have been reading a lot. Now perhaps it is time to haul out the knitting? Really stupid to bring yarn and not to use it.

What else? Ah. Cruise Critic in a few minutes.

And Stomboli is still active. Notice the village at the foot of the peak?



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In Transit

January 14th, 2015 No comments

Back in Civitavecchia today. I have finally learned how to spell it, but can’t pronounce it when needed without stumbling. Go figure, it just shouldn’t be that hard.

Bailed off the ship early and hiked back to the hotel which I stayed at before the cruise started. The people there are lovely and I enjoyed several hours of WiFi and a cappuccino.

Unlike cruises which start and end in Fort Lauderdale, almost no one on the Jade seems to be local. Yes, you can walk off yourself but it seemed like less than 50 people took advantage of that fact. There were only about 10 of us on the shuttle bus to town. I suspect the rest had either private transfers arranged or an early ship’s transfer to the airport.

Walking through town early is interesting. There is good street lighting, but absent sidewalks where you need them most (bridge over an underpass and water). This is important because sunrise is not until about 0730.

Tomorrow will be a sea day, then we start the Eastern swing with stops in Greece and Turkey along with a stop again in Naples on the way back. I get a few more sea days for knitting and reading this time around…..

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January 13th, 2015 No comments


One can think of Naples as quintessential Italy. Or not. Like most of the port cities along the western section of the boot, its history is long, complicated and often bloody. Today it is probably best known as being the originator of pizza and the jumping off point for Pompeii. But in reality its documented history stretches back almost three millennium when founded by early Greeks.

What followed were a series influxes and invasions starting with Romans and followed by Goths (and no, black clothing and white face makeup not included) and Byzantines. Very early Middle Ages involved the Normans and became part of Sicily. From then followed a number of invaders, cultures and languages including the Schwabs, Angevins, Aragonese and Catalans by the mid 1450s. From then Naples became part of the prize booty between Spain and France with a side trip into Austrian possession.

For those who may have forgotten, Italy as a country only became a reality under the leadership of Garibaldi (1860s). You can still see damage from WWII bombings and machine guns in some of the buildings.

If you walk into the city be prepared to brave the ruffians and flocks of mopeds. There are those who bus down the coast to see Capri and Sorrento. Others take a tour to Pompeii. Last time I was here I enjoyed seeing the excavation at Herculaneum (from where just about everyone escaped due to advanced warning and being on the coast. Boats are quite useful in such a case).

I prefer just a walk in the sun.

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January 12th, 2015 No comments

It is a lovely day. Sun reflecting off buildings and water.  There are buses, carriages and a fleet of really aggressive taxi drivers just waiting to pounce beyond the gate.

English? No problem. German, no problem (note , said in English).  I ignored them all to go on my way with no particular destination or perhaps an Archelogical Museum in mind.


Not so some friends who wound up jammed in the back of a small taxi with a mad man for a driver.  They did see the main cathedral while riding white knuckled through the city.  They also found their drivers English was pretty much limited to trying to get more money than agreed and the ubiquitous “no problem”


glad that I had been on foot, I enjoyed lunch back on the ship before settling in to read on the balcony.  Unlike a few of our previous ports, we are docked at the city, facing in the direction we will be leaving   So I can sit on my aft balcony, look directly over the city and scurrying passengers.  Book and cup of tea in hand.

No postcards or magnets today. Just not willing to brave the shopkeepers


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Jazz Brunch

January 11th, 2015 No comments

11 Jan 2015 – Jazz Brunch

It is not like I have been paying much attention to either the date or the itinerary, but something should have triggered last night in my mind when I saw a mention of today’s Jazz Brunch.

In fact it wasn’t till about 0800 this morning when the penny dropped.

We are still motoring along.

There is lots of water out there.

There is a good distance between Spain and Palermo at 20knots.

Brunch … Ya think it just might be a sea day?

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January 10th, 2015 2 comments

Italy. A completely new port to me so I do what any good mountain goat should do and head up the hill for an overview. It is winter but the sun is shiny along with a freakishly strong wind. Which, with my luck is blowing down the mountain and out to sea making a light weight persons trek up the hill energy burning to say the least

It’s all narrow streets, steep angles and buildings which I think have never been repaired post WWII. There is a drone of mopeds in the background. While not demonstrating much in the way of art, I have to acknowledge a certain amount of admiration for the graffiti crew who have managed tags on abandoned walls 10-15 meters up without obvious footholds or lifts.

There are palaces of the Italian inner courtyard style and dozens of church related buildings with domes abounding. The amount of marble and granite is just astounding; reflected sunshine in a few areas is close to blinding.

The early peace and quiet of narrow streets and local shoppers gives way to the multilingual horde from the ship posing by themselves or alone complete with selfie sticks.

I’m headed back down to the city center then walk out to the historic areas along the coast. The wifi here is free and city provided. I am now about to see how it feels about uploading and downloading files.

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Day 7 @ Sea

January 9th, 2015 No comments

It is rare that I take cruise as port intensive as this. My modus operandi is repositioning cruises for reasonable prices loaded with sea days prime for work, knitting and reading. So what am I doing on the Jade? Enjoying a cabin to myself, a bed that I don’t have to make, a bathroom not shared with others (did that growing up for years and when deployed. Just no longer my thing )

And then there is the lovely continental buffet in the morning augmented by French press decaf and anything from the grill should I so desire. Evenings the Garden Cafe has Ben offering a serious selection of both Adian and Indian choices making the dining rooms irrelevant.

The Cruise Critic get together was today featuring a cheerfully disorganized group of people a number of whom I have been seeing regularly at breakfast. I met an interesting librarian from Kansas City in a conversation about leadership development and team building (320 employees, multiple branches and budget I think is the same anywhere ). Then of course there is “Cruise Geography” where a woman from Jerusalem and I tried to identify our overlapping Celebrity Cruise from 2014/2014.

After that ? A nap won over the fitness center …..

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Going nowhere fast

January 8th, 2015 No comments

docking a few minutes early I was all set to snatch a quick breakfast before heading into town

Then I decided to wait until it was light out which meant that I didn’t have to hurry quite as much. Chatting at breakfast with a lovely woman from Australia who is traveling with her mum, it was mentioned that they had homeless chocolate covered strawberries.

We simply can’t have that now can we?

Picking up strawberries, conversation and a trip back to the cabin; it is now almost 1000.I look out my balcony. The Aquarium is visible with the bridge cables behind it. From this distance one can imagine all sorts of strange objects and impressions.

Most importantly, I don’t feel a burning need to hike there. I don’t need to shop. Although aggravating, I am managing with my iPhone. So I need to go where ? $12 shuttle from this industrial port to town ? Through a rather questionable area to the aquarium ?

Or take a nap so maybe I can return to the local time zone ? Or eat strawberries ?

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Day after Dreiköningstag

January 7th, 2015 No comments

For those who might be wondering – the Christian holiday of Epiphany might be more familiar. Think of Black Friday in the US. That is right – it is the single largest day of sales in Spain and here I am in Barcelona St bling through crowds like an idiot.

Didn’t stop me from dropping through “All you knit is Love” hidden on a back street near the Picasso Museum ( no sale) or Desigual where practically everything was on sale.

I wasn’t alone in this insanity; one of the lovely knitters from the Legend this fall had dropped me a note via Ravelry. She was in Barcelona for a few days along with the owner of her local yarn store (visiting with a daughter working in a nearby country). Anyway, we braved the crowds. In fact, I wouldn’t have ventured into the Desigual sale at all if it hadn’t. Been form them.

In return I introduced them to the magic of El Corte Inglais free WiFi in the cafeteria where you can sit for hours sipping your 1,50€ cup of cafe con leche. After doing major damage to my Amazon account by purchasing a few more books by Heather Graham and pulling the audio of Foxglove Summer which was just released in the US I am headed back to the ship.

Valencia in the morning and at sea the day after.

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Toulon, I didnt

January 6th, 2015 No comments

It was a fine and crisp 6*C when we docked this morning at the commercial port 10 km from town. Amazingly enough, the ship offered a free water shuttle into town. If I was going to be cynical, I would say that there are not enough commercial buses to hire and tours make more money. The water craft hold 200+ which means more people travel at a time and fewer trips need to be made. It takes more time to board and disembark than it does for the trip.

I looked out there, clean and shiny across the bay. I thought about the weather and the cold breeze. I considered that when I was here before I saw the town, the museum of interest to me and really don’t need anything from the market.

I walked the ship, stopped in the library and took a nap, saving my energy for the hike into Barcelona from Berth A or B tomorrow.

Cabin numbering systems

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January 5th, 2015 No comments

5 Jan 2015 – Monaco

It takes more than money and style to feel comfortable in Monaco. For me, I just don’t have either the sense of entitlement or arrogance to pull it off. It is a sterile feeling place; all polish, marble and clean as if no one dares to litter, much less wear last years fashions. There are multiple pedestrian cross walks without either signals or lights. Those who live here just walk across confident that no one would dare challenge their right to go where whim directed. The stores all have consistent signage without glitz or neon. Classy one might say.

It is easy to see which of those on the street are resident here, and who commutes into the city to work. The slender, elegantly dressed with expensive haircuts and designer glasses are a sharp contrast to those dressed for obvious cleaning or construction work. The second group primarily speaking with each other in an Eastern European language, not languid French.

I walk along the route of the Grande Prix which I saw both live and on the large screens in May of 2011 which now feels like another life or perhaps the start of my current one. Along the way are all the expensive yachts complete with navigation systems and satellite communications. Homes of record are not just local or Mediterranean like Malta, but London, Grand Caymans, Sydney, Cairns of the type that start in the low seven digits.

I passed where the Christmas Carnival and Market had been held. Even in tear down mode everything was clean, well maintained and orderly, not the usually scruffiness seen by light of day.

Walking, I took a few pictures before riding the elevator down to the water front and strolling back to the ship just as hordes were headed out to explore the city. The tourists are easy to recognize. They are in pants, jeans, sweatshirts carrying backpacks and wearing ball caps and running shoes not to mention cameras hanging around their necks. Not to be confused at all with those who live here.

I don’t expect many paid the 10E + for a cup of coffee. No chain coffee shops, no pseudo-scottish restaurants here. In defiance, I headed to the eatery on ship and had tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.


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January 4th, 2015 No comments

It’s 1000 and white stone gleams in the sunlight. Tourists flock with selfie sticks and expensive cameras. The museums and the tower are about to open; I can see the lines
Just starting to snake forward to disappear inside structures hundreds of years old. Down the blocked off street is part of the old city wall with souvenir and leather good tents lined up ready to separate the dazed from their cash. Everything of course is made in Italy. Too bad several merchants forgot to remove the China stickers.

I hadn’t planned on doing anything other than wandering Livorno today. But it is Sunday and neither NCL nor the port provide a free shuttle to town. As it is a working port, although no one seems to be working today, walking out is not allowed.

Just as I was about to return to the ship I was politely accosted by a couple of Canadians from Ottawa. They needed one more person to make up a van for the day. Pisa, the countryside, a couple of small towns. And me without my camera. Also in the group, a family from Santa Barbara with a couple of delightful young girls.

The Tower

The Tower

image image image

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Mediterranean Break

January 3rd, 2015 No comments

I am detouring to NCL for the next 21 days.  Traveling as listed below in and around the Med both west and east. Solo in case there was any doubt.

NCL Jade

NCL Jade



Sat Jan 3 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00pm
Sun Jan 4 Florence / Pisa (Livorno), Italy 7:00am 7:00pm
Mon Jan 5 Monte Carlo, Monaco 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Jan 6 Toulon, France 9:00am 5:00pm
Wed Jan 7 Barcelona, Spain 8:00am 5:00pm
Thu Jan 8 Valencia, Spain 8:00am 5:00pm
Fri Jan 9 At Sea
Sat Jan 10 Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy 8:00am 5:00pm
Sun Jan 11 At Sea
Mon Jan 12 Palermo, Sicily, Italy 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Jan 13 Naples (Capri), Italy 8:00am 6:00pm
Wed Jan 14 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00am 5:00pm
Thu Jan 15 At Sea
Fri Jan 16 Olympia (Katakolon), Greece 8:00am 4:00pm
Sat Jan 17 Athens (Piraeus), Greece 7:00am 5:00pm
Sun Jan 18 Ephesus / Kusadasi, Turkey 8:00am 6:00pm
Mon Jan 19 Istanbul, Turkey 1:00pm
Tue Jan 20 Istanbul, Turkey 8:00pm
Wed Jan 21 At Sea
Thu Jan 22 At Sea
Fri Jan 23 Naples (Capri), Italy 8:00am 6:00pm
Sat Jan 24 Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy 5:00am


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Don’t ever take

January 2nd, 2015 No comments

Italian Train at night. At least not one of the long distance ones.

Back tracking a bit – in spite of my Swiss flight being delayed out of SFO more than 80 minutes we managed to arrive in Zurich close to on time. Pretty good considering that Zurich was suffering from the snow and fog that seems to be the winter norm for them.


Well, that is obviously NOT SFO

Well, that is obviously NOT SFO

Even more amazing was that I actually managed to get from the far end of “E,” through Passport Control, and to the far end of “B” in sufficient time to actually make my connecting flight! And yes, these two gates are as far from each other and in distant terminals as is physically possible while still being in the same airport. So there I am, standing around waiting to board. One of the gate personnel comes over to ask if I am traveling alone.

Yes. Oh, she says after looking at my ticket – I was looking for someone to upgrade who is traveling by themselves. Not me, I was already there. But told her that I had been standing in line behind a young woman who was traveling by herself and pointed her out. A few minutes later, this slightly dazed young woman brain dead from her LA->Zurich flight came over and thanked me. She is headed to Italy to meet relatives….she had been dreading this last leg of the flight.

Arriving in Rome, and hiking forever to Baggage Carousel 10 I thought I was just about home free. Checking at several of the transfer counters with late night charges the cost of a transfer was totally and completely unreasonable.

And here is where my saga with the train began.

It is 11E. One takes a train from the Airport to Rome Trastevere, changes to the FR5 and gets off in Civitavecchia. In theory.
1) I was told Train #3. It was actually 3343 from track 2.
2) At first I attempted to sit, but it was so crowded and the women next to me so loud I couldn’t hear the announcements. Standing in the entry way with a goodly size crowd might not have been as comfortable, but I could read the electronic station sign and actually hear the announcements.
3) I figured out which stop was Trastevere and got off. Then there was the challenge of trying to figure out which platform for the next train.
4) Italy doesn’t do big permanent placards on the platforms like -oh, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium….. but that particular station apparently does have permanently assigned platforms to certain destinations.
5) Platform 2 looked like the right place to be.
6) about 20 minutes later a train pulls in to this platform and everyone piles on. The Platform monitor only has the end destination city and no train number. The train is not displaying a number. The electronic signs in each car give the car #, the train speed, inside temperature and outside temperature and the useful information that the lavatories were out of order.
7) There are no announcements over the tannoy
8) there is no running sign of stations
9) there are no placards up indicating train route or any other useful information.
10) about three stops later a conductor comes by. No – doesn’t speak English, or German or French. but yes – Civitavecchia is on this line. And he leaves. A stop later he comes by again. I inquire “how many more stops?” He replies 4-5.
11) Another stop later he comes by and holds up three fingers.
12) three stops later I get off. Looks like the right place. Looking back at the train – the conductor is standing there nodding at me. I think he wanted to make sure that I was gone.
13) Most of the stations (including my destination) did not have discernible signage visible from either the platform or train.

So there you have it. Made calling my hotel and getting them to call me a taxi a breeze after that!

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So here I am

January 1st, 2015 No comments

at SFO in the United Lounge. So goes the year the same way it starts? Not flying United however, I am on Swiss this time and off to a non auspicious start. First, I must have left my ID card on the bed at home (meaning Heidelberg) which meant I was unable to use the USO Lounge. This mattered because my flight so far is already known to be 70 minutes delayed.

Swiss, not being completely foolish, then proceeds to open the check-in desk at 1615 rather than 1525. I suppose I should be thrilled that they didn’t delay any further than that. Suitcase was a heavy 17 kg which must be related to my two new pairs of shoes and a goodly quantity of yarn and magnets. Business class was fairly empty so they were offering upgrades at a reasonable price. I can only hope that no one with a screaming kid takes them up on the offer. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the same offer for first class…… I have always wanted to do that but am totally and completely unwilling to spend that kind of money on a flight. You know how many cruise days I could get for that kind of money?

The lounge is provided by United. I am simply grateful that they have a decaf setting on the coffee machine so that I can help myself with impunity. Baby carrots, crackers and single wrapped cheese chunks round out the available snacks. Obviously, United is cheap.

The phone and the iPad are charged. Knitting is organized. Now all I have to do is survive the slight, make my connection in Zurich and catch the train to Civitavecchia. Nine hours – I can manage nine hours times zone change, can’t I?

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End of the year

December 31st, 2014 2 comments

I won’t say that things have been completely quiet here on Hill Bezirkley; but I have been holding with the old adage that if I can’t find much positive to say – keeping my mouth shut is smart.

This leaves out visiting with Alison, Ruth and Janet. Those are good high lights. Seeing three/four off-spring has also been good. Spending time with George even better which just leaves me with my thorough dislike of Berkeley and hate of house.

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Cat Bowls

December 29th, 2014 1 comment

are not food or water dishes. They are places where cats can properly and comfortably curl up to sleep


Onyx demonstrating the proper use of a CatBowl

Onyx demonstrating the proper use of a CatBowl

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Safely arrived

December 19th, 2014 No comments

My alarm went off incredibly early this morning. Given that the extras which found their way into the “take with” pile (and the fact it is rather dark before 0600 on a December morning) both hiking to the train station and taking the train didn’t seem particularly bright.

But Lufthansa has a contract shuttle bus service from the Crown Plaza Hotel in Heidelberg to Frankfurt airport which seemed like a more than reasonable way to get to the airport. So Bev and I loaded up, took a cab to meet the bus, boarded the bus and disembarked in front of Terminal B.

We managed to get up to the departures floor after skipping non-working elevators. I dropped off luggage to include those self-same three umbrellas which I have been dragging along since Spain and then the fun began. I am headed to the US, Bev is headed to Copenhagen. I am departing from Z; she is leaving from A. Now you can transit between the two @ Gates A 14 & A 17. None the less, I was hassled by security and the Lufthansa Senator Lounge people who just couldn’t understand why I wanted to spend a few more minutes visiting with Bev and having a coffee or two while we were at it.

Boarding the plane was a snap after that. The flight was fine, once we finally took off.

This handsome guy picked me up at the airport. After that, much of it is a blur because I was pretty tired and not sure where or who I was.

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Maybe ready, maybe not

December 17th, 2014 1 comment

(try two – the first vanished which hasn’t happened to me in a while)

Procrastination has to end sometime and I hit my limit about mid-morning. Since I am leaving for San Francisco tomorrow I really need to finish packing and attempt to find places in all the luggage I am schlepping for my clothing and stuff.

Yes, I did send George with one bag of things for the kids but it certainly did not all fit into one bag. So here I am with a second bag packed for everyone else. Gummi bears, cookbooks, chocolate, various assorted fabric things, and some wool for friends in California (yes, you know who you are). The bag is not exactly light, but I can lift it. Besides since I have really excessive limits with Lufthansa, I see no reason not to take advantage of them. Duffle bag with stuff. My suitcase with some clothes, lebkuechen, nutella, a bottle of coke (don’t ask). The extra backpack as carry-on (which actually belongs to George) is stuffed with the rest of the goodies. Since the front section will hold a computer I am thinking of stuffing mine there since my normal backpack has all those essential electronic items like the extra GPS, cameras, chargers, lenses and yarn for padding. Oh, yes. Meds, cables and connectors, can’t forget those.

Now if I could just settle on which knitting projects for the flight, I would be all set. A couple of things are on fine, metal double points and I just don’t see risking losing needles to the security personnel. I can always start another hat on circs. Or a shawl, not that I don’t have enough of those.

Wait, I know! A Cowl to go with my hat! I have plenty of black and white…. which I might not be able to see on the airplane. Gee – I think 0500 is going to arrive awfully soon…..

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and it is a crown!

December 16th, 2014 No comments

Went back to the dentist today since our attempt at placing what the dental lab said was my crown had not been successful.

I like my dentist, which I certainly can’t say about all the dentists I have had over the years. She is really young (late 20s-early 30s) which is really young from my point of view. Brisk and efficient, she explains what she is going to do, why, and then does it. No fumbling, no poking or hesitation, just quiet competence which I really appreciate. Unlike some other dentists, she doesn’t seem to have the need to fill silence with the sound of her voice or chat about non-relevant issues.

Perhaps other people like a chatty dentist. But for me, I want 100% of her attention on what she is accomplishing in my mouth. I view all the rest as potential distraction (kind of like driving and talking on the phone).

This crown is different than my others. It is porcelain backed on a metal base. It means that I don’t have another shiny gold crown which is more than fine with me. Not that I care that much about appearance at this point in my life but I would rather not have it appear that my teeth could be of serious value to someone else with the current price of gold.

Walked to the dentist, walked home and managed to have a significant number of my steps recorded by my FitBit (which is one of the few that still seems to be working of those purchased in Aug). Followed by a serious dose of meds which killed both my migraine and the rest of the day.

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Road Trip

December 15th, 2014 No comments

Over the weekend I had sent Diana a message over Ravelry announcing a Road Trip today. It is not like she needed much explanation. There is only one great place to visit: Schoppel. Well actually, we could have driving to Hechigen or to Wollmiese but both of those take significantly more effort.

The occasion of the trip, or the excuse, take your pick, is the visit of Bev from New Zealand. Apparently Zauberball is occasionally available at an obscene price even worse than that in the US. So visiting a factory outlet obviously was interesting to her.

We drove without anything significant for traffic and arrived essentially as the store was opening. Bev found a few things, had a wander around and chat. She found yarn, a copy of one of their magazines in English and had a conversation with one of the management types who was delighted to hear about the yarn store in New Zealand where she had purchased their product previously.

Diana and I took a lot longer. I have to dig through all the bins in search of the Produktionsrest which is the cheapest available price. I don’t mind if my 200 gm comes in seven or eight little balls – it is all first quality and ~3E/100 gm (less than 1/3 of the normal price in Germany). And then we were also looking for good deals on craft materials for Diana to use for craft teaching (Summerfest or Aspie Kids – could be either or both).

I scored three colors in Gradient which is the only time I ever buy any weight other than fingering and about three good size batches of Crazy Zauberball.

Driving home we had almost no traffic, at least compared with the last trip which included back country, going around in small towns and practically off road in an effort to avoid kilometers of backed up trucks.

Now, do I get to start something new? Or should I finish something already on the needles……

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Living in one Room

December 12th, 2014 No comments

Sometimes I don’t understand why I get so hung up about having a house. About wanting to have rooms, and space and stuff. Well, let is back off about the stuff for the moment.

I have spent a significant amount of my life living in one room. In fact, I am willing to bet that most of you have done the same. If you are currently dealing with children, teenagers or college students – since the dawn of the electronic era, any of the above mentioned off-spring/grandchildren/etc would much rather be behind a door than out in public. Especially if it means that they don’t have to share.

Most of us growing up had a room (bedroom) which, unless you were an only or your family had money, was shared with a sibling. That room was felt to be yours and all jokes about Keep OUT! signs have some basis in reality. In either case, having a door that shut the rest of the world out at least sometimes defined your space as a room.

After high school/secondary school if you went on to college you had a room. Rarely could you afford more. If you headed off to the military, you thought back wistfully on having a room (barracks, no matter what you call them including Dorms, are not the same).

After that it varied. But the goal of most growing up was to have your own room/space/whatever. But then reality sets in. If you travel for work, that room strongly resembles a hotel/motel if you are lucky. If not and it is a deployment, well then you are stacked 2-4 high with dozens to hundreds of your new best friends. Senior enough and you might actually have your own room; something to be prized. (see 1998 comments on Hekkebine and Davidson Huts, 2003-4 discussion on trailer 1/2s and 2010-2011 about old housing areas with personal cells/cubicles vs shiny new with bunkbeds/roommates and down the hall plumbing.)

At this point you probably have no idea where I am going? I have been traveling by ship. A room there is called a cabin, but it is still that individual space. But this is not about sea going at all. It is more like my little corner of the world.

Similar to living in basically one room while in the UK even tho I had a whole house (well – never mind that no one could afford to heat more than one to two rooms which meant lots of wool and the highest indoor temps of 14*C) I find that once our bedroom is cleared out, I am perfectly happy there. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy a comfortable chair with reading/knitting light, but I have everything I need. Comforter, electric power strip for laptop and other assorted chargers. Ineffectual overhead lights are more than compensated by a really strong light near the headboard.

Since I found the second house phone charger (in the corner under a laundry basket) I don’t even have to chase down the house phone on the rare time that it rings. So here I sit, phone, laptop, iPhone, knitting, a very interesting course on networks (with math) being watched in 20 minute increments alternating with a weird audio book while I knit. I have just about everything I need.

Except George. He is in Switzerland.

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The fridge is just

December 11th, 2014 1 comment

going to have to wait till tomorrow. Since I have’t done much of anything with it for a more than is reasonable time it is not like it really matters. All the lab experiments gone wrong and the left over Thanksgiving food hopefully will not explode out of their containers to stage a zombie like take over of the house prior to the morning.

And if they do? Well I will concede the field!

You see, I had a dental appointment today at 1100. It was to be my last with placement of a crown. (note the foreshadowing here?) Since it was cold and raining it seemed like a perfect day to hike and run all my errands. Right? After all, I am the possessor of winter rain jacket, umbrella, glove and hand knit hats. It really isn’t all that far. Really.

Except for the stop at the bank. It seemed like a good idea to have Euros rather than rely on Australian, Korea, US, UK or any of the other currency currently floating around my bedside table or in my wallet. It wasn’t that far out of the way.

When the crown didn’t meet my dentist’s exacting specifications a return appointment was made for next Tues. I really didn’t care about the color but she is right about it being a millimeter too high even after fussing. Long term that just means that my bite would be wrong and I would manage to crack it.

So there I was on the street with my temp cemented hopefully firmly in place. This made it absolutely easy to hike down Bergheimerstrasse and into the city center where I could make stops at Kaufhof (Galeria and other wise) looking for light weight/non-black pants for Africa, cashmere sweaters on sale and chocolate.

Further down the pedestrian zone I found a hoodie for me on sale (and put it on). Did I mention it was chilly and raining? Nothing exciting at Wolle Roedel so my next to the last stop was the Baerentreff, AKA the Gummi Bear store. By the time I managed to find places to put all the gummis – I was seven kg heavier in packages and decidedly not in the mood to tote boxes of Lebkuechen.

Failing to find any change in my wallet, pockets or bags I started my plodding way home. It was still raining so I walked down Ploch rather than deal with the main pedestrian street, hiked up and down stairs to get to Rohrbacherstrasse and ran out of steam just about even with Kashmir Take Away. It was warm inside. The Palak Paneer was fabulous as was the Tandoori Vegetables. Finishing with a hot cup of tea I watched a family obviously new to Indian cooking try to decide what to eat as well as feed to the one and three year old. The suggestion of Chicken Korma and Palak Paneer seemed to work out just fine as the kids were shoveling food into their mouths and the parents weren’t overwhelmed by scary spices.

I stayed warm past the cemetery. By the time I was cold again our corner was in sight. Just happened to have keys in my pocket so avoided stairs in favor of the elevator. Still, it meant I was most happy to make a warm cuppa and deal with books, computer and knitting for the duration of the day curled up with a nice comforter.

Perhaps you would enjoy contemplating gummi bears in 500 gm bags?

lots of 500gm bags

lots of 500gm bags

Or the Vienna and Heidelberg chocolate collections on offer when we reach California?

scored in Vienna

scored in Vienna

today's haul

today’s haul

Categories: home Tags:

I’m excavating today

December 10th, 2014 No comments

Not in the back studio which is still full of boxes only decreased by the dozen or so books I managed to foist off on Zandra in Nov.

those pesky boxes of books still hanging out

those pesky boxes of books still hanging out

Not in the piles of papers – those have already been sorted out. Since the paperbin was emptied yesterday by the lovely trashmen from Heidelberg there is plenty of opportunity for me to fill it.

papers to be recycled

papers to be recycled

Nor am I speaking in general about a house decorated in hangered clothing –

shirts on most of the doorknobs

shirts on most of the doorknobs

No, I am tackling that portion of the bedroom which belongs to by husband. In his defense, he did start on it after we returned from Vienna. I don’t understand the tablecloth, either plastic container lid or  the  ….. but I am sure there is a good explanation

the guilty corner

the guilty corner

What I find infinitely more interesting is the contrast between men and women in hanging up shirts. It isn’t just that there are buttons on opposite sides of the shirt. I have no idea who the not-so brilliant fashionista who dictated such a thing, but it is a pain and results not just in a difference in how shirts are buttoned but which way they are placed on hangers. I would go further down that particular rant, but it really wouldn’t make any difference. It falls somewhere outside the realm of understanding. Just like the inability to button the top button on the shirt when placing it on a hanger.

one closet of his shirts

one closet of his shirts

my remaining shirts

my remaining shirts

I can understand the distaste of adult men for buttoning that top button. That is, when the shirt is worn because the only way it looks decent completely buttoned is when accompaigned by a necktie. No question why the presence of a noose around the throat is not a welcome addition. But seriously, the hanger doesn’t care. Shirts buttoned all the way up are more likely to stay on the hanger.  It also makes it a bit easier to fasten that top button when accessorized with the aforementioned tie. But what do I know? My shirts have buttons on the left and scarves are much more reasonable, especially since I need to keep those top few buttons undone.

But I have found the floor, folded most of the clothings – leaving only his suitcase ready for Sunday’s stateside departure. The empty clothing tree and a basket now full of empty hangers are still on my target list.

3/4 of the way finished

3/4 of the way finished



Bet you thought I was talking about the fridge. No, but stay tuned for tomorrow….

Categories: home Tags:

Hats with circles

December 9th, 2014 1 comment

Or Berets with circles as they are known by the designer of the particular pattern on Ravelry.

I started with this one,

Hat folded into quarteres

Hat folded into quarteres

from the top

from the top

from the bottom

from the bottom

which became mine. Knitted while traveling and worn pretty steadily once the temp dropped.

on the head

on the head

It is knit of Crazy Zauberball on size 2.25 needles. The ribbing is 1×1 twisted rib (which is not holding as well I would like).

So I did it again – in greens this time –

mostly greens with blues

mostly greens with blues

and 2x2 ribbing this time

and 2×2 ribbing this time

and since I have at least one daughter who likes bright colors –

reds/oranges and a of blue/green for spice

reds/oranges and a of blue/green for spice

from the top . ready to start the decreases

from the top . ready to start the decreases

From here I think it is on to cowls -

Categories: Knitting Tags:

Three Days in Vienna

December 6th, 2014 No comments

or is it four? I always get confused between what seems like an honest estimate of how long I have been somewhere and what one would find on a travel brochure.

We arrived mid-day on Wed and are leaving on Saturday. By a “real” count it means a slight bit more than three full days as one would count by the clock spent in this interesting city. From a tours & travel point of view I am sure it would be advertised as “Four Days and Three Nights in ……” since we arrived on Wednesday and are leaving on Saturday having spent the three night in between soundly asleep in a comfortable hotel bed.

For those of you who know my music predilections, it should come as no surprise that I spent no evenings listening to fat ladies caterwauling. For that matter, we didn’t go to any theater or concerts either. George was here primarily to work, leaving only today as his for scouting around the city. I had a bit more luxury and had spent a fair number of hours hiking around in the old part of the city.

Which lead of course to repetition today when we went for a stroll (14K+ steps…..) I neither bought nor ate chocolate but did get a chance to see Dorotheum which is probably best described as three floors of auctionable items and the Continental answer to Sotheby’s. There are more paintings on the wall than in most museums, an extensive china exhibit/items for sale, figurines galore, jewelry and weapons (rifles, pistols & revolvers – go figure). Should you have extra cash lying around – there is an auction on 19th Century Oils & Watercolors on the 9th, Stamps on the 11th and all those previous mentioned hunting/sport/collectable weapons on the 13th. Just in time for the Christmas Holiday you could perhaps invest in collectable toys on the 22nd.

None of this sounds exciting enough for me to cancel my planned trip to the US on the 18th. Which lead me to my reservation to/from Germany. Which is going to need the return flight altered since I thought I had made it for end Feb and instead it showed up as March (at which point I will be in Uganda). Oatmeal for brains or just inattention?

Perhaps everything will look better with sleep?

Categories: Travel Tags:

the plan falls apart

December 5th, 2014 No comments

I had this afternoon all planned out. When I returned back to the hotel after hiking all over in the inner city of Vienna I had a task list. Update all of you so it didn’t look like I had completely fallen off the planet. Finish up the green hat and start on the crazy orange. Consider knitting cowls to match both of the above. Put together a Roll Call for a Feb Cruise.

Unfortunately for all of the above good ideas – I stopped at Thalia on the way back to the hotel. I saw their fiction section upstairs yesterday but failed to check it out since I hadn’t see any indication that they carried anything for English Language books. Today I decided that I was willing to pick up a German version of a familiar book. So what do I find when I go upstairs? No German, but the UK versions of popular fiction: Mysteries, Thrillers, Romance, Fantasy and SciFi.

FoxGlove Summer was sitting there on the table as bold as you please.

new plan for the afternoon!

new plan for the afternoon!

Categories: Books & Tapes, Travel Tags:

survived that one, or is it dodged?

December 2nd, 2014 No comments

which was not all unexpected. Back to the dentist today for the next to the last step regarding the tooth that went crook last Nov while I was in Australia. Cavity, broke. temp filling on return needed to be replaced. Root canal etc.

It has been a long haul but all the prelim has been done and should finish up with the crown next week. I would feel more comfortable about the end being in sight if the temp cap on my tooth would deign to stay in place. Failing that – I think that toothpaste as a temp holding is probably pretty safe.

I can think of much better ways to cut down on my non-exist use of chewing gum..

On other fronts, the Lufthansa pilots strike (my bad spelling and the word checker keep wanting to insert “polite” which I just don’t think is valid) should be over tomorrow sending me on my way to Vienna. I haven’t decided for certain, but am likely going to drive up in the morning. Leaving at 0600 give me a few more hours of sleep than the 0547 train and will make it easier for George and I to get home from the Frankfurt Airport on Saturday night.

Packing took all of 5 minutes.

Remember when I sent all that “stuff” to California? I was tired. All of it went. I have cruise clothes here which means that I have almost nothing for “nice” with regards to colder weather. Glad we aren’t doing anything that dark hiking pants/jeans and a nice sweater won’t suffice.

Of course, you remember I mentioned lacking the shoe gene? It means I am also lacking anything dressy for shoes……

Categories: home Tags:

Which jeans?

December 1st, 2014 No comments

I don’t have a fashion gene, a girly gene, shoe gene or dress up gene any where in my makeup. I have no clue how my three daughters have managed to survive and grow up in site of having me for a mother.

Fashion sense? Well, lets just say that I will never, ever be invited to join the Country Club or any group of “Ladies who Lunch.” I don’t do glitter, sparkle, bling. The fact that I am completely oblivious to fashion designers has not lent cache to my desirability as a table companion. It has also spared me the fate of the shivering twits who look great, or would look great if they were’t tuning blue while standing outside in a line during winter. I get that short is cute, but why not wear a coat when the temperature is below freezing?

Anyway, there are a few basic rules that somehow sunk in somewhere along the line. White shoes are for summer, dark for winter. So as I unpack my cruise suitcase and get ready to repack the small one for Wednesday I am left with an unanswerable fashion question. Does the same idea hold true for jeans? Does it matter? I certainly don’t care, but inquiring minds would like to know if I should I be putting away my comfortable pale denim jeans away for the winter in favor of darker blues?

Categories: home Tags:

Going Home

November 29th, 2014 No comments

more than ready here to go home. There were all these people earlier in the week talking about how cheap it would be to extend since there were cabins left.

I was quiet. Doing one of those – WHY would I want to do that? I am done being a tourist in the Caribbean except as they are incidental stops on a trip across the Atlantic or through the Panama Canal.

So here I sit waiting on my flight in New Orleans. Whining because there isn’t a Star Alliance lounge in this terminal. From what I can tell, Delta seems to run the only lounge

From here I go to Newark for a plane change. My United flight to Germany just happens to be a code share. LH 403. Now, I wouldn’t do something like that on purpose, now would I ?

Categories: Travel Tags:


November 27th, 2014 1 comment

There are four ships in port today:
us on the Serenade
Oasis of the Seas
Carnival Paradise
Caribbean Princess

Worst case is 20,000 worth of passengers and crew. Normally it would not be an issue at all since there are a large number of tours and a good size area in which to spread out the influx.

Unfortunately, today is windy. Windy enough that all of snorkel and scuba tours have been cancelled, at least from the RCCL ships. The resulting herd of passengers wandering from here to there aimlessly around the port area didn’t come as a surprise.

There were a few moments, like when walking by Señor Frogs, when it was easy to identify the originating ship of the passengers. Otherwise, the port was crowded with mixed age, mixed racial distribution of individuals being blow about by the wind and trying to find something to purchase.

I hiked 30 minutes out of town or until I ran out of sidewalk (which happened first). Coming back I went an equal distance in the other direction. I had my hour’s worth of walking on shore and gratefully went back on ship windblown and in a good mood.

After all, this is the last port on this cruise. Saturday sees me back in New Orleans and on my way to the airport. By Sunday morning I will be home…..

Categories: Travel Tags: