Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising...

Not outside, but internally. It's really irritating to not know if the spike in body temperature that made me so sweaty at work today is a post-hysterectomy hotflash or an MS thing. I actually had to take off my boots and fan myself like mad while sweating about a quart or so. Bleah.

Outside, we've got coldcoldcold temperatures and feet of poofy, pretty snow. No snow day for the worker bees, though. The mother ship of Hyphenated Corp. is in Minnesota, and I think they kind of feel like, "Hey, we're in Minnesota, we've got it much worse, so you whiners in Cleveland can just suck it up and deal." *giggle*

I've got a book to build tomorrow, and another one on Friday. Thankfully, the one on Friday isn't about divorce law, since that is the day my friends Otterboy & Ravensstar are tying the knot. They've been engaged for-bloody-ever, in love for even longer, and they're finally getting married. Unfortunately, I can't be there, but I wish them all the love & happiness in the world.

Speaking of weddings, those of you who haven't already seen the momentous comment and follow-up post on Queen Mediocretia's blog, say congrats to Zayrina & Santa Claus, who went out and got hitched, no fuss, no muss. They didn't even have a flower dog (for which Tessa should chew up all their shoes!). Again, I'm overjoyed at this news, and wish them a lifetime of happiness together.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Giggle of the Day

BPAL story:

So on Sunday, I tried the imp of Vampire from Planet X that HLsquishymama sent me. About a minute after application, I started sneezing so hard you'd think I had a ragweed salad with goldenrod dressing for breakfast. I had to take off my clothes and wash them and take a shower because alcohol wipes didn't work.

My mom (FlannelJammies) called while I was in the shower, so I called her back, still sneezing a bit. She asked what was wrong, was I getting a cold, and I said no, I was reacting to a perfume.

FlannelJammies, alarmed, "What was in there?"

Me, disappointed, "Dragon's blood."

FlannelJammies, in a slightly exasperated tone, "Pamela."


"Dragons are not real."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Return of the Snobservation

Last Wednesday, I wore navy blue pants and a navy blue sweater to work. Over that, I wore my gorgeous new wrap from St. Thomas, which is a silky fabric patterened in royal blue and purple. One of my co-workers stopped me and said, "Isn't that supposed to be a skirt?"

Erm. First of all, yes, it can be a skirt. It can also be a shawl, a bandeau or a dress. Second, that was totally rude. Snobservations should be kept to one's own head or in a nice little blog, not blurted out to the person you're snobserving. Third, what came immediately to my mind was a snippet from the movie "Airplane."

Steve McCroskey: Johnny, what can you make out of this?
[Hands him the weather briefing]
Johnny: This? Why, I can make a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl...

I wish I had said "It can be a skirt or a hat or a brooch or a pterodactyl..."

My other recent snobservation is about a series of radio commercials for a local jewelry store. Probably to save money, the commercials all use almost exactly the same lines from four actors, two men and two women. One woman is telling the other about a gift and the conversation between the men is intercut. The only change in the commercials is what the gift was. Apparently, "Brian" has hidden a ruby ring, diamond necklace, diamond earrings and an emerald bracelet in the microwave, and every single time "Lisa" has "almost cooked it!"

Really, dude, get a smarter wife. If she is so dumb she starts up the microwave before opening it up to put food in it, you're going to have really idiotic children!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vacation Days 7 & 8: Jammies at Sea

Thursday was another lovely day at sea. There isn't much to say about it except that I felt so relaxed I was practically boneless, and I wound up reading about ten books on the cruise. Dad had paid $100 for 250 minutes of Interwebbinets time, and kept asking me if I wanted to check my e-mail or post to my blog, and I kept saying no thanks. As much as I love and esteem all of my forum & blog friends, the cruise was a complete vacation from my daily world, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Friday morning, we arrived at Disney's island, Castaway Cay. It's absolutely beautiful.

I don't know if Disney built or just re-created this island, but they don't allow you to take shells from the beach, and the lagoon has the ghost ship from "Pirates of the Caribbean" permanently installed in it. I'm pretty proud of how well these pictures turned out.

The day's plans were pretty simple--play in the water & on the beach, go for a glass-bottomed boat ride, eat lunch, go back to the beach. Phase one went well for everyone who made it. Unfortunately, Bookworm had some tummy trouble, so she wasn't able to join us, and Dad of course wasn't out of bed when we left and isn't really a beachy sort of guy anyway. The water was chilly but the whole experience was amazing. I got out there in my bathing suit and floated around on an innertube and played shark with my nephew (he was the shark, of course!).

Our glass-bottomed boat ride was cancelled owing to rough waters, but I didn't feel as if I'd missed anything. Lunch was an okay barbeque, but at least there was strawberry frozen yogurt and really amazing pineapple for dessert. After lunch, I was feeling the heat a bit, so I went back to the ship, showered and took a nap.

That evening, Mom & Dad took the kids so that the rest of us could have a grown-up dinner at the ship's fanciest restaurant, Palo. We had a great time with good drinks, phenomenal food, a cute and very good waiter and lots of conversation. As much as I enjoyed the amenities on the cruise, the best thing for me was the time spent with my family. I think I got alone time with everyone, and I do hope we do it again in four years.

The last pic here is one where I think I look pretty good, although I am eclipsed by Tinkerbell's cuteness. It was taken on the verandah of our room on Monday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Vacation Day 6: Not Enough History

Wednesday morning was cloudy and warm, and the ship was docked at St. Thomas by the time we awoke. Mom & Annabel were scheduled for a catamaran ride & snorkeling excursion, I was going to be on a "historical walking tour" of St. Thomas, and the rest of the family had a tentative plan to walk around the shops and spend time at the pool.

St. Thomas was beautiful, and I had high hopes of learning about the island. The bus took us from the dock to several overlook points.

At the first stopping point, in addition to the gorgeous view, there were guinea hens walking around.

There were chickens and a truck labeled "Joe's Fresh Fried Chicken."

There were gorgeous flowers.

There was a bus with a tag from my home state on it for some reason!

I was brave and had someone take my picture despite the fact that I looked awful.

Then we got to Blackbeard's Castle, and the disappointment started. Granted, there's a statue of Blackbeard and a big tower.

There are also lots of pirate statues on the grounds of what is now the Blackbeard's Castle Hotel, with interesting tidbits on them.

But the "tour" consisted of setting us loose in restored houses (2 of them), giving out five or six factoids, and exiting through the gift shop. I did see a very early version of a recliner, which was cool.

The biggest disappointment was the "rum factory." Despite the lovely exterior, it was purely a gift shop designed to sell tax-free booze and tourist tchotkes, and it was over-air-conditioned to the point of pain.

The "tour" was decent exercise, because we descended all the way down the hill via various stone steps. Still, I was pretty disappointed that it was more shopping than history. Mom & Anabel, on the other hand, had a wonderful time on their excursion. At least if we do this again, I know what to sign up for!

The tour ended at 11:30, and the bus back to the ship was scheduled to pick us up at 1:00. Clearly, the point of ninety minutes in Charlotte-Amalie was to get us to shop for jewelry and electronics. I got rained on, picked up a couple of presents from the open marketplace, and then shared a taxi back to the boat with a family that had been on the tour with me.

When I got back to our stateroom, Dad was still asleep and Rosa hadn't had a chance to clean the room yet. I bullied him out of bed and upstairs for lunch, and then when he couldn't reach Jeeves at his stateroom, I offered to take him shopping to get the watch he'd wanted to buy. I'd planned on a shower and a nap for my afternoon, but when Dad asked about it, I said, "I can nap every day. How often do I get to go shopping with my dad?"

In addition to the downtown shops, there were quite a few near the ships. It was about a two minute walk, and we stopped at the first jewelry store. We looked at the men's watch selection, and the saleslady asked if she could help. Dad asked if they had Seiko watches, and the woman replied that they only carried Citizen. She then said, "See the ones with the green tags? They are ecologically good, they run on light."

Dad asked if they had quartz movement, and she said, "No battery--they run only on light, any kind of light. Maybe if you leave in a drawer for two, tree monts dey die and you have to hold dem up to a lahmp." Dad decided to keep looking. He had better luck a few stores down, and not only did he find himself a gorgeous Tissot watch, he had a lively discussion with the store manager about watchmaking, the history of watches and watch repair (Dad worked for a clockmaker/repairman in high school). I excused myself, went to the store full of touristy stuff next door, and bought postcards plus two light-up shark keychains for my nephews, since I'd gotten my niece a pin the day before.

Dad & I walked back to the ship, and I had my shower while he read, played on the computer and enjoyed his new watch. I was just about to take my nap when Mom came back from her excursion, all happy and damp and tired. She said the only thing wrong with the catamaran sail & snorkeling is that the exercise made her thirsty and the only thing offered right after snorkeling was free rum punch!

So she had 2 pina coladas instead. *giggle*

That evening, Jeeves treated Mom & Dad & I to drinks in the piano bar before dinner. I had a lovely Kir Royale, which was pretty much my drink of choice for the cruise. Dinner was lovely as always, and I slept like a rock.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Vacation Days 4 & 5: Bikinis and Butterflies

Monday morning, I woke up stiff from the pullout bed, so I threw on my swimsuit and went and had a lovely, peaceful soak in the hot tub. After that, I grabbed two cups of coffee & took them down to the stateroom. Mom & I had coffee on the verandah, then I took a shower and she went off to kidnap a grandchild or four for the day. Monday was pretty much the same pattern as Sunday--breakfast, pool, lunch, nap, reading, dinner, relaxing as could be. I remember thinking that I hadn't felt that relaxed since JammiesFest.

One totally snobby and judgmental comment from me: No one, and I mean NO ONE, not even, say, Sophia Loren, who is my size and my mother's age, should be swanning around a public pool wearing a bikini. I understand about being comfortable with yourself, loving the you that you are, all that, but BLECH!

Tuesday was our day at St. Maarten, and Mom, Dad, Bookworm Mathgeek, Princess Mathgeek, Tinkerbell and I went on a bus tour of the island with a stop at a butterfly farm. We passed the biggest Ace Hardware store I'd ever seen, and made a point to draw Dad's attention to it. The butterfly farm was neat, and I'm hoping my pics came out, because a huge butterfly landed right on Bookworm's cheek as I was walking next to her (yes, I'll get off my ass and get the pics up at some point). Princess Mathgeek was chosen to carry a leaf full of tiny butterfly eggs around and show the members of our tour group, and brave enough to touch a caterpillar in its cocoon, so I got her a little butterfly pin to remind her of the occasion. The rest of the tour was probably a little too much for the girls--lots of sitting and not much chance to burn off energy, but they were still pretty good.

And yes, the pics came out!

Speaking of kids and energy, Disney's cruise ships have various age-appropriate activities for kids, and they are well done enough that none of the kids in our family really wanted to leave the "Oceaneer Club" once they'd gotten there. They also did very well at mealtimes, which was doubly impressive because we were eating at 8 p.m. Our waiter took the kids' orders first, and brought their food while the adults were eating appetizers. On the one hand, this was good from the point of getting food into my nieces and nephews. On the other hand, it meant that they had to sit at the table and behave even after they'd had dessert. They were all very well-behaved every night they ate with us.

One night, when Emmanuel was taking dessert orders from the kids, Princess said "Nothing for me." When he brought out the desserts, he had a plate for her on which he'd used chocolate sauce to write the word "Nothing." He also did magic tricks for them, and made a talking banana at breakfast on our last morning there. He was absolutely one of the highlights of the cruise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Vacation Day 3: Snobservations at Sea

The morning of our first full day on the ship there was a "character breakfast." Basically, it meant that we went to the same restaurant where we'd had dinner the night before, and ate while Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Chip & Dale, Pluto and Goofy all made brief appearances in the center of the restaurant.

As we were waiting to go in, I was people-watching, and I was a bit irritated by the guy I saw in front of me. I thought, "You know, here we all are on this nice ship, about to go in to a nice restaurant, and if you absolutely must wear your Camel T-shirt, your work boots, your jeans and your Busch hat, mister, the least you could do is wash the grease out of your mullet."

The theme of being conspicuously underdressed for meals on the ship was one that was carried out through the whole week. Every day, we got a little sheet in our stateroom telling us where our dinner would be and what the dress code was. Even on the two semi-formal nights, there were people in shorts and jeans strolling in. Mom wondered what the wait staff thought of these people.

I can't answer that, but I can say that I thought it was a damn shame to go to the effort and expense to come on a cruise and then treat the dining experience as if it was the local fast-food joint.

After breakfast, Dad went back to the room to read/nap/play on the computer, while the rest of us suited up and headed for the pool. Yes, I wore a swimsuit for the first time in twenty years, and although the straps were a bit too long, I still felt as if I looked pretty good for a fat chick.

The Disney Magic has three pools: the Mickey pool for small kids and families, the Goofy pool for older kids and families and Quiet Cove for adults only. The Mickey pool, where my nieces and nephews did all of their swimming, has a one-story curlicue slide and two black rubber mini-pools on top of the larger circular pool. There is a sign indicating that children who are not potty-trained are only allowed in Mickey's starboard ear. For some reason, that just gave me a chuckle every time I read it.

The kids swam, the adults mostly stood in the pool or sat at the edge, and I took fifteen minutes to visit one of the hot tubs at the adults-only pool. I had just gotten in and leaned back when I was joined by a gentleman who wanted to talk. Despite the fact that I had my head resting against the back of the pool and my eyes closed, he wanted to yak about his kids, his wife, his nieces, blah blah blah. Short of being actually rude, I couldn't think of a way to tell him to stfu. Enjoyable as the hot tub was, that time I was pleased to leave it when my time was up.

When I got back to the Mickey Pool, the kids were all munching on chicken tenders or hot dogs from the snack stand, and I got some lunch. After that, it was nap time, then reading time, then dinner time. After dinner, it was back to the room to see what towel origami our room steward had created, and then some more reading before bed. That pretty much set the tone for our days at sea, and it was a lovely way to spend the days.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vacation Day 2: The Breakfast Fairy

After a quiet night at the Disney complex, everyone except Dad was up early and raring to go. My brothers took their families over to breakfast early, and Mom waited while I showered and dressed, then we went over. I guess the best description of the building was a giant food court with central cash registers. Mom bought two coffees and went off to get us a table, and I got in line for an omelet & some bacon.

While I was standing in line, a woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I'm going to pay for your breakfast."

She wasn't anyone I'd ever seen before, and my first thought was that she had mistaken me for someone else. She explained, however, that she and her family were on a package tour to DisneyWorld, and they had cards for a meal plan. She had twenty-four meals left on her card and they were leaving that afternoon, so she was wandering around the cash registers paying for people's breakfasts. There was a big line behind me, so when the cashier asked if I wanted to go get two beverages which were included, I just asked for two coffee cups. We each had coffee and took three cups back to the hotel so that Dad could have some right when he woke up.

By nine our luggage was on the bus, and by noon so were we. There was another Disney infomercial for the hour and fifteen minute ride to the port, and then we checked in, went through security and boarded the ship. The Pickypants and Crossword-Mathgeek families stopped to get ID bracelets for the kids, so Mom & Dad & I went on ahead.

Like my mother, I tend to react to stress when it's over, so it was Saturday that I developed a splitting headache. As we came on board, the atrium was filled with people and noise, and I noticed a crew member was announcing the people before us as they walked in, using a microphone and calling for cheers and applause. She tapped my arm, and asked my name. I replied, "I'm Pamela, and please don't announce me, my head hurts."

She let me pass without fanfare, and the three of us found the elevators and located our stateroom on Deck 8. It was quite nice, small but with a ton of storage space. I particularly liked the separate teeny little rooms for the toilet/sink combo and the shower/tub/sink combo--it meant that one person could be using one room while someone else used the other. Plus, I prefer not to leave my toothbrush in the same room as the toilet (Zayrina will understand that).

Once we had dropped off our carry-on bags, we headed to the buffet restaurant on Deck 9. We met up with the rest of the family and grabbed a very large table to have lunch. The buffet was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There were also three sort of snack stands on Deck 9 by the pools, one with fruit & deli-type sandwiches, one with hotdogs & hamburgers, and one with pizza. The buffet and snack stand foods were all adequate in quality, but far from gourmet. However, the self-serve beverage station was available 24/7, and unlike other cruises (or so I've heard), free.

After lunch, we dispersed to our cabins because there was an emergency drill at 3 o'clock. Let me tell you, faithful readers, someone with a 38G bra size looks scary in a life vest. I had a giant orange flotation device floating on my built-in flotation devices, and the damn thing nearly stuck straight out!

There was a big party on Deck 9 by the middle (family) pool to wave goodbye to land. I'd thought the atrium was loud when I boarded, but it seemed like a library compared to the music and crowd noise at the party. The younger of my two nephews (Alabaster Pickypants) is sensitive to loud noises. I think he's got really good hearing like his dad and like me, and he's just plain miserable in situations like that. I offered to take him to the back of the boat where it was a bit quieter, and he sat at a table and listened to his IPod until we started to move. There were people waving from shore, so we waved back and said goodbye to Florida.

Saturday night we had our first dinner. There are two seatings and three restaurants that serve dinner. Our group was table 47 in the second seating, and we rotated through all three restaurants. Our waiter, Emmanuel, was absolutely amazing. Our assistant waiter was good in the service-with-a-smile department, but not so great with speed. Right now, I don't remember what I had for that first meal, but I do remember that the dessert was an absolutely magnificent strawberry shortcake.

I can't speak for the rest of the group, but I know that Mom and I were in bed and asleep by 11. It was a pretty eventful day!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Vacation Day 1: Orlando

Day one began at 3 a.m., when my alarm shrilled and I got up and shoved the dogs out into the pre-dawn darkness. An ice storm had moved in and was making a mess of the roads. Mom and Dad were at my house promptly at 4, and we loaded my carry-on bag into the car and set off for the airport. It was a good thing we'd allowed extra time, because the normally twenty minute drive took just under an hour. Once at the airport, we got everything unloaded and ourselves checked in. The plane was supposed to leave at 6, but it took forty-five minutes to de-ice, so we left late.

Leaving late meant we missed our flight from Atlanta to Orlando, but Delta was very efficient in handling the situation. Only moments after we got off the plane, there was a Delta CSR asking for our boarding passes and getting us standby on a 9:25 flight or confirmed for a 10:20 flight. We elected to go with the confirmed flight, and made it to Orlando by noon.

We caught the Disney bus to the resort, and Dad immediately wished for his TV B Gone. There were monitors throughout the bus, showing a Disney infomercial for cruises and Disney World, which made it impossible to sleep. When we arrived at the Caribbean Beach Resort, I got very excited to see a cute lil blue car in the parking lot, and pointed and yelled to Mom & Dad that Sherri was here before us.

We checked in to the hotel, and I called Sherri, who came in from the parking lot. She looked absolutely gorgeous in pink and black (her hubs has been helping her expand her warddrobe). She had gotten a birthday cake for my niece and some pink and white frosted cookies as well.

NB: My niece has now outgrown the name "Baby Mathgeek" and will henceforth be known as "Tinkerbell."

The cake & cookies were handed off to Mom, Sherri was introduced to Dad, and they headed for the room while Sherri and I headed off to her house. I got to hear a bit about her growing-up years in Florida, and after a shortish drive, we were at her house.

All five of Sherri's cats have mad cuteness skills. I wanted to scoop them all up, hug the stuffing out of them and steal them.

Nobly, I refrained.

We spent the afternoon chatting about everything under the sun, catching up, petting and playing with kittehs, and eventually, it was time for me to head back to the hotel. At first, we couldn't find building 35 (yes, each Disney hotel is that large), but after a phone call to my brother, we managed. I had intended to show Sherri the royal blue dress I brought for formal wear on the cruise, but when I opened my suitcases, I discovered I'd forgotten to pack it! To be honest, I spent the rest of the evening alternately sulking and kicking myself just to get the disappointment out of my system.

Still, Sherri and I had a good time, and she chose to leave when the rest of the family came back to the room from dinner. She did get to meet at least some family members, and Bookworm Mathgeek asked me to pass on big thanks for the birthday cake. We had a small birthday party for Tinkerbell, and then everyone headed off to bed.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Good cruise, good to see Mallie, glad to be safely home. More later.