Monday, January 27, 2014

CCCCCCCold and SHHHHHHriving

Back from San Antonio. Back from illness. Time to work a bit at the cottage.

So I drove up last week, intending to spend at least a week. Sister Kris flew in from LA with her wit, charm, and her specific skills in home decorating.

It is a new challenge to put together a coherent home, rooms that 'flow into each other,' that 'express (my) inner decorator' that (Kris) knows is in there, that fulfills my wish that this home will be functional, comfortable, and low maintenance.

Little sis has many gifts in this area and we worked, fun work, all week.

She popped in from 75 degree weather to what is called the Polar Vortex, Part II. From last Wednesday to today, the temperature outside has not risen above  single digits.... it has fallen to double digits below. And then there's the wind, whooshing across the lake with its fluffy cover, creating a blinding swirl of snow.

Kris was intent on going for walks..... several were minutes in length. Saturday, we got a slight reprieve and stayed out for 30 minutes. Brrrrrr.

So our days became..... rising to watch the sun come up across the lake. (Watching the lake wake up, said Kris); a small breakfast with much coffee and then errands. We found that the day was 'warmer' than the least we could see to drive. Then, afternoon and evenings were spent doing things inside and watching DVDs by the fire.

As we are planning a trip for the sisters and nieces, Kris put her considerable acumen to work and organized my loosy goosy notes. We sent out a note to our travel mates, wrote some specific questions for the travel agent, and placed it all in a folder. Kris is good with folders.

Our trips out produced paint samples, towels, and rugs for testing out the way the sun shines here and there. Kris painted strips in several rooms, in interesting corners where the light varies from time to time. And then we would discuss, hold up this picture, spread out that rug, and nod and smile.

By evening, we gathered by the fire and watched movies. Cuddled under throws, it was a great way to end the day.

Until last night, there was little to disturb us. However, last evening, the wind picked up and blew drifts all over the place while whooshing through the trees. Hoosiers are hearty but no one in tornado land likes Big Wind. So, this morning, I checked the Indiana Department of Transportation to see if the roads were passable.

Good thing I don't need to drive to Kokomo because several major routes are closed by police order. My friends from the high school continue to wonder if all of these canceled days will move the end of the school year.

Our drive to Fort Wayne followed an east/west road where the drifting was minimal. We left early and arrived at the Fort Wayne International Airport (little gem) with time to spare. On my return to the lake, I saw several less patient SUVs upside down in the middle of the highway. And another reminder to slow down.

My 'sisters' in my small group are meeting tomorrow night and if it's safe, I'm headed back to Kokomo in the morning. Then, my plans are to finish up the sorting --- what's coming with me and what I'm leaving behind --- and gather documents for selling the house and finishing my taxes.

My self-designated goal of the end of March is in sight. God is good, so good to me.  And you.
I've heard rumors of warmer weather ahead. Soon? Hope so.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Catching UP

What follows is a quick summary of a very great trip. Right near the end, I started to sniffle with a sore throat. Dang. Getting a cold.

As I was surrounded by 4000 cruisers, many of whom were children, plus my own party getting over 'something,' well, it was not unexpected.

My usual therapy for a cold: Big Bottle O' Nyquil and Tylenol Sinus. This is not a copyrighted remedy. Feel free to borrow, because it has worked for years and years. These medicines would sooth symptoms and I certainly wouldn't miss school.

(I guess I bought into the fantasy that as I was not 'at school,' I would be missing a lot of viruses.)

(looks better than I)
By Sunday, I was turning the corner. Great. Just as expected.
By Monday night, I took a nosedive. Much more ill. Slight fever. And that 'hit by a truck' thing.

As I was visiting in a house of school kids and working people, I figured I'd just sip tea and sit around and get well. Except it didn't work. So by Thursday, the doctor was called and I got some serious medicine. 5 days of doses.  It took 5 days.

I am not the most patient person, when it comes to seasonal illness. Growing up in my parents' house, the nurse-mom would suffer no fools when it came to missing school. You had to be bleeding, a lot, to even interest her in a stay-home note. A little delirium would help. And, this from the former 'frail' toddler over whom she hovered. Quite the 180 degree turn by the time I tried to play her.

Her attitude DID inform me, in my attendance at my job and my children's attendance at school. Of course, the hub never missed work. He was NEVER that ill, even when he was.

So this last week has been tough on me. TOUGH. I have flopped around, sipping fluids and sleeping. A lot of sleeping.

Yes, I know. It's going around. From my cross country contacts, it's going ALL OVER around.

The worse part of this for me is that I have crashed on one of two New Year's Resolutions: I was going to write 30 minutes a day. My goal is to write out, in save able documents, a chronology of the last 5 years. I've been cooking at this idea and then finding all sorts of reasons NOT to sit down and do it. January 1 was my first day of discipline.

I discovered, however, that when my head hurts, when my sinuses cry out for me to just puncture them, I can't think well enough to write. I hope that works. It may be just another lame excuse for writer's block.

Or maybe, God wants me to slow down a bit. I'm still pretty thick when it comes to hearing Him. It often takes 3 taps on the head to get my attention. For the last week, it took a fever, a headache, a sore throat, and a cough.

(Better now.)

Smile 'til your face hurts

I can’t describe the Disney Fantasy any better than that. But I’ll try.

I’ve been on a few cross country adventures since June. THIS was the trip with the hub’s stamp of approval. I doubt that he would have joined us but he was excited to read about all that this ship has to offer. He and I talked about taking our kids and grandkids on this most special adventure.

Gramma and Noah in the 'Duck"
Staff told us that Disney Cruise Lines decided to bring the Disney stamp to this industry. Its ships, 4 in all, are chocked full of goodies, activities, adventures and just plain old fun for children from infant to geriatric. As I walked the deck, family groups from youngest to less young strolled along. As this is vacation time from school, many of these groups had their own T-shirts in bright colors to identify themselves.

After "Duck"
The Fantasy is Disney’s newest ship and features one special thing that the others don’t: The Aqua Duck. It’s a huge Plexiglas flume that circles the upper deck, jutting over the edge just a bit. It’s a partner ride on a blue inflated mat, taking about two minutes from start to finish. I told the boys that all I wanted from this trip was to see them ride it once. If they were charging per ride, at this point, THEY could pay for the next cruise.

As one of the few who has never been to a Disney Park, I was unprepared for the highest level of quality, detail, diversity, and cleanliness all over the ship. Staff members smile. Parents smile. Babies smile. Teens smile. Grandmas smile. AND my boys, 7 and 9, keep finding new things to smile about.

My Crew
We boarded (to staff applause) and disembarked at Port Canaveral, Florida. We sailed to St. Maarten, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island.

Our itinerary was 3 days at sea and 3 in port. On this ship, there’s childcare for babies. Kiddos 3 – 14 can go to a dedicated place, the Oceanaire Club, and stay all day and into the night. If they want to skip meals with the parents, no problem. Staff feeds them, entertains them, and if it gets late, spreads out cots for the children to sleep. While boarding, each child received a GPS band that identifies him or her if misplaced.

Teens have a dedicated space and although I did not check it out (TEENS ONLY!), I did question a few kids in the elevator. They, too, were unanimous with their votes:  great. Don’t want to leave. And, no adults.

Noise and laughter are all around. There are many kiddies not yet knee-high. And, once underway, the costumes come out. I have personally spoken to quite a few princesses and pirates. Disney stars keep popping up, for hugs and photos: Pluto and Mickey are favorites. I was present at a Disney Princess Dance, where Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Bell and Tiana glided down the winding staircase from Deck 5 to Deck 3, waving those elbow-length, gloved hands and swirling a bit in their taffetas. Once at the bottom, they were greeted by many, many, many children.

Andy and Noah in a momentary chill
We have enjoyed several live shows plus some first rate (Disney) movies. On this cruise, both “Frozen (3D)” and “Saving Mr. Banks” are playing, both of which just opened in theaters.

And then there’s the food. Cruisers always talk about the food. It’s spectacular and plentiful. Disney assigns us to one of three dining rooms. Then, we rotate each night taking our service team with us. By day 2, Anthony and Terry have our drinks ready before we arrive.

Like many cruises, the food is all over the place and available almost 24/7. Up on the pool decks, you can get pizza, burgers, wraps, and etc. between meals, just to hold you over. PLUS, they have a make-your-own-cone station, with 20 spigots, half of them kiddie height, a popular spot.

Also, and this is important, there’s plenty of adults-only space, mostly at the back of the ship. (AFT) So a gramma who has had enough of the good thing can climb up, stretch out, and enjoy the sun and heat without something sticky being dropped upon her.

I found a perch in a corner cafĂ© (with very good lattes) where I could watch the interactions. Happy people meeting other happy people. And, for me, most interesting, was watching the staff. I’m not a cynic by nature but I couldn’t help looking for just a twinge of strained smile, an eye-roll after turning away from a guest, a suppressed sigh. None. NONE. Even in the kid areas where the results of diverse parenting skills are on display, lots and lots of smiles.

Got it? Smiles.

We stayed in some very nice rooms with verandahs and murphy beds (when pulled down, the ceiling is full of stars), not the most expensive on board. But there are lots of bargain rooms, internal rooms, which offer all the same fun. And on Disney, if you have an inside room, you still have a porthole: animated friends swim by all of the time.

So, I’m a fan of the Disney Cruise. We toasted to the New Year, remembering all the blessings of 2013. How blessed I am to welcome 2014 with these loved ones.

Commercial over. Cruise over. Back to the real.