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……

Categories: Knitting Tags:

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.

Categories: home Tags:

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?

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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:

Grand Caymans

November 26th, 2014 1 comment

It is us and the Disney Magic at anchor today.

I thought about it (for all of three seconds) and didn’t even bother to take the tender to shore and back. I spent the day finishing up a cowl, reading and watching a number of lectures.

I now know a lot more about GPS than I did before and remember why I quit math after linear algebra… it cramps the brain.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Not my cup of tea

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

I don’t know why I was so brain dead as to book this cruise. I like the ship. Don’t get me wrong on that. Rather I didn’t expect being overwhelmed by poorly behaved children old enough to know better. Or maybe I should just lay the blame where it belongs: on their parents who seem to abdicate their role in favor of being absent or “friends.” The first number I was given was 400…. but it turns out that 600 under the curfew age seems a lot more realistic. That is a significant number of school age children not in school. As it turns out – one of the Louisiana Parishes has school vacation this week. Makes sense – nothing is likely going to be learned in a three day short week. A week off now and in the spring is probably a better compromise than one and a half or two weeks in the spring. Most of the children, however, are just missing three days of school.

Now, I may not always have been the best of parents; but I have four fantastic young adults who, when growing up, were always welcome everywhere. It didn’t occur to them to run, scream and shove in public halls. They didn’t get on elevators just to hop back off after pressing all the buttons. And most certainly they didn’t spit, throw things or deliberately spill their drinks on the floor. I don’t think I can really take credit for them. Perhaps it was growing up in Europe. Maybe just that none of their friends severely acted out in public.

I just wonder what this new group of parents are going to be able to say in 10-20 years. Are they going to be as extremely proud of who their children are? Are they going to be delighted at their personalities, accomplishments and considerations of others? Or are they going to wonder why everything seems to have turned out like a Country & Western Song?

Categories: home, Travel Tags:

West Caribbean Loop

November 22nd, 2014 No comments

Originally, when I scheduled this 7 day add on, I had this dream/hope/fantasy that my dear George would be joining me. Wishful thinking. But considering how many years he had to deal with me in combat zones, I am more than willing to forgive him getting stuck at Company Board Combat. I can hardly be the sticking point when he is the only one saying “not that week” now can I? Well, I could be a complete and total pain about it, but it is more fun and productive to just whine. A lot. In public.

You get the idea.


the route

the route



Sat Nov 22 New Orleans, LA 4:30pm
Sun Nov 23 At Sea
Mon Nov 24 At Sea
Tue Nov 25 Falmouth, Jamaica 9:00am 5:30pm
Wed Nov 26 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands 7:00am 4:00pm
Thu Nov 27 Cozumel, Mexico 9:00am 5:00pm
Fri Nov 28 At Sea
Sat Nov 29 New Orleans, LA 7:00am


Categories: Travel Tags:

Tenerife, Canaries

November 10th, 2014 No comments

No exciting travelogue today, I am afraid. I just hiked around the city, ran a couple of errands followed by four hours of concentrated Internet @ El Corte Inglais. I would have purchased more than my Caffee con Leche but just wasn’t hungry. The connect speed wasn’t all that great but more than sufficient to update what I need for some presentations.

Side note: the other ship in port today is the MSC Sinfonia. She is a bit older as can be noted by the extensive collection of port hole cabins and balconies really limited to two decks. What she does have that is lovely are rear stairways and decks open to everyone. No aft cabins with balconies on this ship.

The reason I know this? In Nov 2007 this is the ship I boarded in Genoa for my very first transatlantic crossing. A friend and I abandoned our husbands and took off for 19 nights at a rate of under $50/day. The crossing ended in Buenos Aires. I returned home ~ 7 Dec to the surprise of orders to the UK.

So bringing back memories. It’s seven years and a lot of cruises and crossings later. I like my balconies and more than happy I can afford them. Now on to six sea days!


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November 9th, 2014 No comments

I was totally thrown off today by the schedule. It just never occurred to me that any reasonable Cruise Director would schedule a Meet and Mingle after lunch. Now, I happen to really enjoy this particular Cruise Director/Activities pair (married couple who were on the Enchantment in Fall 2012 and have been with RCI more than 20 years). So I took a deep breath and got over myself.

It helped that I know a fair number of the people, was able to peddle off a couple dozen more pins and had knitting.

Just like any morning there were stacks, non-alcoholic things to drink, announcements and a raffle. This particular group is rather active. In addition to the usual privately arranged tours the on ship activities include: cabin crawl, pub crawl/poker run, 2 slot pulls, craft group, scavenger hunt, gift exchange. I am sure that I have forgotten something, but one never gets it all the first time through.

The “Welcome Back Party” was held in two shifts as there is no way the theater can accommodate more than 1200 participants. Actually, the numbers are lower I think than on the Legend (where I think there were only a few handfuls who weren’t experienced cruisers).

Now all I have to do is finish up the lectures I promised to deliver and knit. And knit…. or read.

Categories: Travel Tags:


November 8th, 2014 No comments


From on the hill overlooking Malaga.


It is a brisk hike up the paths, stairs and trails in the earlier morning, prior to the crowds escaping the ship. The actual castle grounds open at 0900. Beating the tour groups is always a lovely idea.


I was able to walk the outside wall, the inner gardens and the grounds taking pictures that were people free as well as look at the model of the site

019A0851 019A0850

and the rest are just random pictures of the walls, grounds, and various architectural features.

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November 7th, 2014 No comments

Alicante was awash with Spanish sunlight this morning. Reflecting off limestone, sandstone, marble and white painted block, the city felt cheerful and welcoming. Not just to those off cruise ships, but historically those who fled other regions and countries but most recently the totally insane competing in the Volvo Ocean Challenge Race. It might make sense to some, but taking a racing sailing vessel with a team around the world through all manner of seas and weather is not my idea of the good time. Not that it stopped me from visiting the museum again, but just saying.  Don’t ignore some of the more interesting graffiti

in favor of the intricately fashioned iron balconies and the fabulous doors. There is time to see both while walking the city.

Mount Benacantil towers on behind the city.
You can go reach the Castle of Santa Barbara one of three ways – (not including paid tours). The adventurous can hike into the city, partway around the mountain and hike up the road. The early birds can put a few Euros in the ticket machine and travel by elevator from sea level to the Casitiollo.

Then there is the Mercado in the more modern section of the city. The upper floor has the butchers with extensive displays of animal meats and the occasional cheese. The lower floor is fish with a side of bakery goods and personal products. After all, this is a port town.

There are bits of history tucked here and there around the city leading you on a hunt of treasures.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Over the waves and

November 6th, 2014 1 comment

Across the Atlantic

the route

the route


Thu Nov 6 Barcelona, Spain 5:00pm
Fri Nov 7 Alicante, Spain 7:00am 4:00pm
Sat Nov 8 Malaga, Spain 8:00am 4:00pm
Sun Nov 9 At Sea
Mon Nov 10 Tenerife, Canary Islands 8:30am 5:00pm
Tue Nov 11 At Sea
Wed Nov 12 At Sea
Thu Nov 13 At Sea
Fri Nov 14 At Sea
Sat Nov 15 At Sea
Sun Nov 16 At Sea
Mon Nov 17 St. Maarten 8:00am 5:00pm
Tue Nov 18 At Sea
Wed Nov 19 At Sea
Thu Nov 20 At Sea
Fri Nov 21 At Sea
Sat Nov 22 New Orleans, LA 6:00am

and the ship is the Serenade of the Seas.

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why couldn’t it have waited just one more day?

November 5th, 2014 No comments

There are those times when you think that inanimate objects might, just might, have a life and will of their own. Rationally it makes absolutely no sense what so ever but in reality, how can you otherwise explain things that break just when you need them the most?

Case in point. We have a good washing machine. Front Loading, energy saving and really quite cooperative as long as a few basic things are done. It is always smart to empty pockets, but I know that it doesn’t always happen. Things that are water soluble make a mess, but aren’t deadly to the machines innards. Coins, on the other hand, can plug up a hose. It has happened before. College Guy fixed it.

This morning I hauled a rather large basket of clothes to the laundry room, sorted out the first load and started it. Went back down an hour later to find that the load had stopped with the digital display saying “EEEEEE [some number]“. Plus half a tug of water.

I did mention that it is a front loader? After attempting to check the filter and cleaning up the water which spewed on the floor I tried to pull the filter out. Turn counter clockwise (anti-clockwise for you Brits) and pull. Nada. Waited a few hours till the West Coast checked in by Face-Time to confirm what I needed to do. Yep, pull the filter. It was not cooperating.

When George got home he proceeded to tell me to pull out the filter. A little while later, he came upstairs. Filter was stuck, but managed to empty out about a gallon of water.

So here I am, packed for tomorrow which turned out to be a rather creative undertaking. All my normal cruise wear was in the laundry basket as well as my favorite jeans and tops. Since most of my clothing is in SF, it makes in challenging. Perhaps I should just take this as an opportunity to pack more yarn?

Categories: home, Travel Tags:

Duckie goes flying

November 1st, 2014 No comments

I forgot to mention yesterday that on entering the hotel bathroom

small yellow perched on the tub

small yellow perched on the tub

In case you don’t recognize him –

closer view with on his duckie butt

U closer view with on his duckie butt

I just thought he was cute. Not as cute as the crew displayed at the front desk, but cute enough.

This morning I turned on the shower. Standard setup – snake and head on a pole. There was water pressure. A lot. Enough that the shower head escaped, swinging back and forth attempting to drown me with scalding water and soaking everything in reach.

It took me a few minutes to mop up the worst and find poor duckie

he should have gone swimming

he should have gone swimming

Categories: Travel Tags:


October 31st, 2014 2 comments

In case you are wondering – I am in Vienna attending an international conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases. George and I drove to the airport, my flight was fine but earlier than his. The CAT goes directly to Vienna Center and the Hilton is across the street.

What I had assumed was that Halloween is essentially (in the current commercial form) a US issue with creep into the rest of the world.

In the US – with Photos supplied by off-spring not counting on redistro –

What yo get in Vienna is pumpkin soup

with a bit of bite

with a bit of bite

and drunks with/without costumes out on the street making what to them is glorious noise till all hours.

Friday – should have thought of that!

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

Off! and done….

October 27th, 2014 No comments

I felt my self become lighter and lighter as I managed to get off the Oasis in spite of there being no directions and no signage. Now I can understand why they don’t print the Gangway the night before – something might change. But is there anything wrong with signage? With something in their TV announcements?

In stead there is a button in the elevators that says “Gangways.” Ok, that works for all the people who take elevators, but what about the rest of us? Or perhaps a sign or five when you get off the elevator? It is a rather large ship and that might eliminate scads of people randomly milling around knocking into everyone else with their baggage.

Ah well, I had figured it that it was going to be Starboard (since my cabin was Port and overlooking the water) and midship figured to be a good bet. I didn’t quite dance down the gangway but it was close. Since all I had was my 19″ suitcase and a backpack self carry turned out to be brilliant. There were issues getting the luggage off the ship….

Anyway – took the shuttle to MIA. Took the Hilton shuttle to the MIA Hilton. Left my suitcase with the Bell Captain and hiked to the Post Office via Office Depot. They were out of tyvek mailing envelopes, but had bubble nylon envelopes. Since the Post Office turned out to be out of the good mailing envelopes (must not be the only one who turns them inside out…..) this also turned out to be a good idea.

The clerk at the next counter was a local young woman, my clerk with 28 years in the system is originally from Peru. We discussed hats, scarves, real winter and to remember that Lima is not characteristic of his country (big city = bit city). They both found the idea of someone walking in with $56 in change as a welcome event (me in Aspen). Meanwhile, packages to Coral Springs, Touano, Annadale, Brooklyn, Chicago and Berkeley to arrive anywhere from tomorrow to Sat.

I’m about to take the shuttle back over to the airport and hang out in the military lounge till Lufthansa opens its counter ~1400. Free Wifi is always good…..

Categories: family, Knitting, Travel, yarn Tags:


October 25th, 2014 No comments

As in the musical and Andrew Lloyd Weber. Which explains several things on the ship including the lack of availability of the theater for anything useful during the day and the tendency to front of the curtain performances at night.

Thinking back, I believe it was around 2000 when we, as a family spent a week or so in London during winter holidays. Besides seeing some of the really touristy places, riding in a London Taxi and hunting for food on the 25th – we went to a performance of Cats!  The set was spare, the costumes clean and simple, the music, singing and dancing superb. I wish I had not had that in mind when I stood in line prior to the theater opening this evening.

This performance was….busy… The set was interesting but so intricate and textured that the lighting reflected strangely depending on your seating (second row balcony). And, since it was complex and (I think) set up to resemble a trash heap or back alley – it was distracting rather than performance enhancing. Look at the scenery – what the “h…” is that @ 0200 anyway?  kind of discussions. Since the singing varied in both quality and miking – there was a need for distraction. The dancing was by far better than 80% of the vocalists, but there were simply too many on stage to pull off anything that intricate. I don’t remember 21-22 cats (not counting 3 of the main characters). Spare would have been better and showcased the talents.

If I sound a bit irritated, count me in the 300+ who didn’t bother to come back after the intermission. Overall, that isn’t a high number. But the “musical” felt more like a standard ship’s production number than a real musical. In fact – their standard “Come Fly with me” was much better. The Comedians were better – and many of you know that I normally avoid comedians like the plague. The Speakers were better. And their Jazz orchestra is by far better than the poor guy who was the entire musical support on a poorly tuned piano.

Cats? Give it a miss. I’m sorry I didn’t go to the Aqua show instead.

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Back to Sea

October 22nd, 2014 No comments

And now we start the long run to Ft Lauderdale.

Actually, I am kind of curious why the sole port on this westward journey was Vigo rather than holding off and stopping in St Maarten.  But then, I am always up for Phillipsburg.

Looking at the schedule, I am not all that impressed with the Cruise Director’s staff. There are ~5500+ passengers on this ship. The daily program is just about the same (with the addition of the sport with dedicated facilities) that you would find on any ship. Including various assorted craft activities limited to 25 participants.


Or various dance activities accommodating a maximum of 30-40 people. Several of the lectures have been standing room only 30 minutes prior to the lecture which either reflects widespread interest in the speaker or lack of other options. No clue on how well attended Bingo or gambling events have been, but my impression is that the lack of decent large lounges is playing a role. The Schooner Bar – location for all Trivias is overwhelmed. Forget ordering anything to drink, just get there early enough (maybe an hour or two?) for a seat.

I’m glad I sprung for the balcony. It means I am lucky enough to have light, air and a comfortable place to  hang out.

Categories: Cruising, Travel Tags:

Vigo in October

October 18th, 2014 No comments

Having been to Vigo before I wasn’t under a lot of pressure to bail off and explore the city this morning.

This was a stop on that Independence of the Seas circuit I did mid June. The city doesn’t see so many ships that they have to accommodate more than one ship at a time. There weren’t any issues with docking or the gangways. In fact, the local immigration, constabulary and merchants were more than wiling to insure that everyone who was interested in disembarking could easily get off the ship without incident, hopefully with wallet in hand.

Oasis docked in Vigo

Oasis docked in Vigo

The last time I wandered through town it was off the ship, past the new fancy shopping center and up the hill to the right into the older part of the city, exploring it for several hours.

This time I headed to the left, first getting a picture of the ship from the other side of the small boat harbor before going and looking for parks, museums, doors or anything that might prove interesting.

And so we have more doors – old, new and in between.


I didn’t spend as much time off ship as I initially planned, but after walking for a few hours, my stomach demanded food….

Oh, and can’t forget the knitting…….

Categories: Cruising, Knitting, Travel Tags:


October 17th, 2014 No comments

which in this case doesn’t mean Cheap & Awful (courtesy of Maus) as standing in for the store of those initials. Crown & Anchor instead, as the loyalty club of frequent Royal Caribbean cruisers.

I know that in the past I have mentioned in the past that transatlantic crossings seem to draw the frequent cruisers like flies. Traditionally it has been a combination of good prices and a lot of cruising days. More recently, it has been more about the number of days (and route) with a little less consideration to the price as it has steadily climbed. The only bargains seem to be available at the point that airfares to get to the origin or return to home skyrocket. It still is an option if one has frequent flyer miles to burn.

The rumor was that we had way too many senior cruisers board in Rotterdam to be augmented by more than 1200 boarding in Southampton with the final count being somewhere around 2400 – more than a third of the ship. The logistical challenges alone can be interesting. Where, for example do you hold your evening cocktail hour when there are that many people eligible? Celebrity had an easy answer – cancel the 1700-1900 canapé & drinks instead giving those eligible drink coupons. It does work and I didn’t hear all that much complaining from the sheep. Apparently Royal cruisers are not as kind. Even though they now have 3 drink coupons per night built into their sea pass cards (to be used at almost every lounge) it seems that there is an expectation of munchies to accompany those drinks. I mean really, what are the possibilities of going without food on a normal cruise such that snacks with drinks make a difference?

Anyway, the solution here was to hold the evening hour (which actually runs from 1700-2030) in multiple venues. There is the Diamond Lounge on Deck 4. It might hold a couple hundred packed in like sardines in a crunch. Then there is Blaze, a bar/club type atmosphere also on Deck 4 which probably can managed upwards of 300 and still be able to walk through the club. Dazzles (Deck 8/9) is a two tiered Disco venue and finally there is the Suites Lounge which is only available for the non-suite guests during the evening hours on this sailing. It is large, open, light and echoes to the point you can’t carry on a conversation. Rather than comfortable chairs, there are cafeteria like 4-tops and chairs. I am not impressed, but then no one asked me.

After attempting to find anyone I know for the last several evenings I decided it is easier to drop in, grab munchies, relax for a short while and take off. This preserves my sanity and hearing for important things like catching on on CME and knitting.

Categories: Cruising, Knitting, Travel Tags:


October 16th, 2014 No comments

Unlike what might have initially passed through your mind (yes, you. And yes, you do have a mind), my thoughts have nothing to do with late night parties, drinking, alcohol or insanity. It is more watching people start to bounce back from the boarding procedure just in time to feel lousy from sea sickness.

As it turns out, size matters only to a certain point. Even a ship as large as this one obviously is affected by “high” seas and is subject to wind, wave and staggering. That last bit a result of the above denied alcohol, ships movement and just plain mobility challenges at 2300 of an evening.

The main topic of the day was …. as you might have guessed …. the lousy boarding experiences had by everyone irrespective of Rotterdam or Southampton terminals. In many cases, I think pride of suffering more was claimed by those who had boarded in Rotterdam and attempted to go into town on their own. After all, they were also able to experience the insanity of Southampton.

All in all, it was no one’s finest hour. To make confusion even more wide spread, today’s Cruise Compass claims that this is Day 2. Ok – Rotterdam is chopped liver. Apparently this is a 1 + 12 day cruise.

I think it is time I get over myself and get back to knitting.

Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Southampton -

October 15th, 2014 No comments

second verse was same as the first. Shall we just leave the reboarding progress at “even worse than Rotterdam” and move on to other subjects?  The smart people just checked everything, went into town and came back after 1500. I, foolishly enough, finished up all my errands and headed back to the ship about 1400 to total chaos.  Seems that they forgot to plan for all the Rotterdam boarding passengers needing to reboard the ship…

At one end of the pedestrian zone you can walk around or thru this arch which amazingly appears more functional on the back side.

facing High Stree

facing High Stree

the side toward the original High Stree

the side toward the original High Stree

Continuing down the street I remembered seeing this church tower the last time I was here. It was never rebuilt after a devastating fire in  7 Nov 1837 cost the parish it’s church and the lives of 22 men who attempted to battle the blaze.

There are other churches in town. One a block away seems to be about the same era. One wonders if it was the loss of life that stopped the rebuild? But the sobering thoughts left me thinking about expectations.

Yes, I can live with the disorganization of the ship. It seems like such a small thing in comparison.

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Can you believe

October 14th, 2014 No comments

Not that I am sailing from Rotterdam to Ft Lauderdale

The Route

The Route


Tue Oct 14 Rotterdam, Holland 5:00pm
Wed Oct 15 London (Southampton), England 10:00am 11:59pm
Thu Oct 16 At Sea
Fri Oct 17 At Sea
Sat Oct 18 Vigo, Spain 8:00am 8:00pm
Sun Oct 19 At Sea
Mon Oct 20 At Sea
Tue Oct 21 At Sea
Wed Oct 22 At Sea
Thu Oct 23 At Sea
Fri Oct 24 At Sea
Sat Oct 25 At Sea
Sun Oct 26 At Sea
Mon Oct 27 Fort Lauderdale, FL 4:00am

But on this ship?

Oasis of the Seas - arriving Rotterdam @0700

Oasis of the Seas – arriving Rotterdam @0700

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October 13th, 2014 No comments

Choices, choices and no matter which way I chose this morning, the dominos were going to crash.

First up- do I take George to the train station, come home then head to the station myself? Or do I ride along for his early train? I chose company & coffee. Either way, my train turns out to be substituted and 15 minutes late.  Then we have a few stops along the way to Mainz which means that my connecting train has long since departed.

(Did I mention that I stupidly paid for seat reservations for the trip? Since there is a service charge of 15 E it means that my 9E is gone forever. Go figure, I can’t but it means that the Bahn makes a lot of money…(

I skipped the first change possibility due to severe delays on that line and figured that I would just reroute to Duesseldorf instead of Koeln. Imagine my surprise when  this particular train (25 minutes late) had gone through Heidelberg on its way here….  Next connection – not late which was why this was a good choice – was to Venlo. Next connection was directly to Rotterdam.  All anxiety aside, I arrived safe and sound, but almost two hours after my original arrival. Had this been the day of the ship, I would have missed boarding….

Rotterdam! Port, bridges, cruise terminal!

IMG_1771 IMG_1769

I ate dinner at a Korean restaurant and called it an early night.

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