Month: July 2017

SYW: Of cats, sons, and houses

I love the questions for Cee’s Share Your World challenge this week! So I’ve written my responses:

If you had to have your vision corrected would you rather: glasses or contacts? Or what do you use if you need to have your vision corrected?
I wear glasses. I used to wear contacts but it got too complicated. I’ve always had trouble putting them in and often would get delayed going to work or school because of my contacts. Another problem was dust particles getting into my eyes. Also, I was allergic to some of the common solutions and the one that worked for me was discontinued. But because my vision was better with contacts and I looked better with contacts, I persisted until after I got reading glasses. Having ADHD, I was prone to losing them. At school, I would take the glasses off and then forget where they were, so I started wearing them around my neck on a chain. But that didn’t work well either – I had to wear an ID on a lanyard, so sometimes when I put my reading glasses on, the lanyard would get tangled with the glasses’ chain and I looked really ridiculous with an ID hanging off my glasses! So I gave up on contacts.

Now I wear transitional trifocals! These are perfect for me because I have everything in one pair of glasses: three vision corrections (near, far, and in between) and sunglasses when I go outside. Simplicity is always best for a person with ADHD.

 

transitions lenses
Image downloaded from Google Images – transition lenses

 

Are you more of a dog person or a cat person?
I am definitely a cat person. I like dogs, but I love love LOVE cats! I love to watch them do the things they do (even when they’re sleeping!) and every cat I see I think  is adorable. Cats are not as popular as dogs because people think they are too aloof and independent. Independent, they definitely are, but the cats I’ve had are also affectionate. (My cat follows us around the house. She likes to be near us, even if she doesn’t want to be with us.) Anyway, cats are easier to take care of! If you want to go out for the evening, you don’t have to worry about going home early because you have to feed them or take them outside. It’s easier to travel when you have cats because someone can come in to take care of them but they don’t need constant attention like dogs do. And I love to travel!

I could not have a cat for 20 years because we discovered my son was allergic to cats. However, he grew out of it and by the time he was in his 20s, he no longer had an allergic reaction! So I finally got my wish 3 ½ years ago of adopting a cat from a shelter. Her name is Hazel, she is beautiful, affectionate, and funny! I love her so much!

 

This is a beautiful picture of Hazel!
Hazel in 2014 (my favorite picture of her)

If you were to buy a new house/apartment what is the top three items on your wish list?

1. A warm climate and hopefully a congenial social/political climate as well.

 

 

20170406_190744
Sunset in San Diego, California (April 2017) – the kind of place I would like to live.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Tucson, AZ – another place I’d like to buy a house.

 

 

2. No stairs, since my knees are getting arthritic.

3. Being within walking distance of most of the things I need, such as the library, bank, etc. I love to take walks and appreciate nature, so I’d like to be able to walk to places and see greenery and flowers along the way. (Of the 3 items, this is the one I currently have.)

 

20170704_112117
Balloon flowers and others in a neighbor’s front yard

What inspired you this past week? Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.
My son’s progress! He is finally living outside our house, attends 12-step meetings every day, and is staying “clean.” He has a really nice girlfriend who values him for who he is, and a steady job, which isn’t the best but it’s, well, steady! What inspires me is his change in attitude. While in the past he always complained and compared himself to others his age, he is now accepting who he is and dealing with his problems much more calmly.

 

 

20151226_192105
Happy times at a restaurant on Pier 39 in San Francisco, Dec. 2015: our son, Jayme, is in front. Behind him are his sister, Tam; cousin, Irene & Peter, Irene’s boyfriend; little cousin, Gabby.

 

 

 

Feeding the Multitudes: A Galley Tour

March 24, 2017

The second full day of our Panama Canal Cruise was the first of two “sea days.” Generally more activities than usual are planned for these days when all the passengers are on board. Today they offered a galley tour. In groups of 20, we were ushered through the kitchen and food preparation areas of the Veendam, which otherwise we never get to see. Hidden from the view of passengers, the galley is where a lot of work goes on, since on a cruise ship, food is available somewhere almost all the time!  I think almost everyone who went on the tour came away with an added respect and appreciation for our dining room stewards and the chefs we never see.

20170324_103302

The tour was really short – we just walked through and a steward told us which areas we were passing through. We also got a map and information about the personnel that work in food service.

20170324_103340

99 people are on the dining room staff, mostly restaurant stewards or servers. In the kitchen, glasses are washed in a separate area from the plates, bowls and silverware. 80 people work in the kitchen. All of the staff works long hours.

20170324_103404

20170324_103754

There are posters on the wall showing every dish they serve and how it should look on the plate. One small poster informs servers to center the food in the middle of the plate. There’s even a tool for this!

20170324_103735

 

20170324_103607
This chart shows how various dishes on the menu are to look when they are served.

20170324_143315

 

 

When the orders are ready, stewards carry them upstairs on large trays by way of an escalator.

 

20170324_103810
We left the tour by way of the escalator that the dining room stewards use.

 

On the flier that was handed out, there is a list of how much is consumed weekly. For instance, the average number of eggs used in one week is 13,500! 5,500 lbs. of meat, 2,000 lbs. of poultry, and 2,700 lbs. of fish and seafood are consumed weekly on average.

20170324_143419

20170324_143347

20170324_143425 (2)

20170324_103921

After exiting the galley via the escalator, we were also taken through The Pinnacle Grill, one of the premium restaurants on board the ship.

20170324_103911

20170324_103931

 

FOTD: Cactus Flower

When I saw this in the desert greenhouse at the Chicago Botanic Garden, I was amazed! I had never seen such a large and beautiful cactus flower! I also felt privileged because cactus flowers generally don’t last very long. The cactus looks to be a saguaro, although its flowers generally don’t look like this. Whatever it is, it’s the most spectacular cactus flower I’ve ever seen.

20170623_163010

Cee’s Flower of the Day, 7/30/17

Panama Canal Cruise, Part 1: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

From March 22 to April 6, my husband Dale and I along with both of my sisters and brother-in-law, took a cruise to traverse the Panama Canal. Of course, we stopped in other places along the way. We were on Holland America Line’s ship, the Veendam, one of their smaller ships. Our first stop was at Half Moon Cay, an island in the Bahamas owned by Holland America Line.

The ship didn’t actually dock at the island. Tenders, or shuttles, approached and came alongside the ship, where a ramp was put out for people to get on the boat. These tenders came and went, taking on and dropping off passengers at either end. They pulled up alongside right below our veranda so I could see how quickly they filled up. We were due at the Information Hut on the island at 8:45 a.m. for our walking tour, and I wasn’t sure we’d make it.

20170323_111650

From our stateroom, we could see that this elongated piece of land has an almost continuous stretch of white sand beach along its shore, where the water fades into turquoise with some dark patches where the reefs are. It’s bigger than it looks, but most of the activity takes place along a curved spit of land.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The tenders enter this canal and pull up to a small docking area.

By the time Dale, Elmer (my brother-in-law) and I (my sisters were scheduled to go later)  actually arrived at the island, it was 9:05, so we were supposedly late. The woman at the Information Hut at first said the nature walk had already left. I said, “Oh” and wondered what to do. However, then she called out to someone and we were sent across the plaza with another guide who led us to our group, which had not left and we sat down with about 25 other people to wait.

An open truck came along with seating for all of us. We filed on and the truck rumbled along a road to the beginning of the walking tour.

Our guide’s name was Shakeena; I don’t remember the name of her companion, whose main job was to bring up the rear. Shakeena was the one leading the tour. Shakeena and the other employees don’t actually live on this island; they travel 90 minutes by boat one way each day from their home on the island of Eleuthera, and return home again in the evening. So three hours of their day are spent traveling to and from work, a distance of 24 miles each way!20170323_142758

Shakeena first took us up a rocky path to see some ruins of houses from the 17th century that were now either rubble or merely standing walls. These had belonged to European settlers who arrived here often by being shipwrecked! With no means of escape, the settlers learned how to live on this land. They had no natives to teach them because the Indians of that area had already been wiped out by earlier settlers who had tried to use them for slaves and either killed them or brought European diseases which finished them off.

We came back down the rocky path and continued along a sandy path, where Shakeena stopped periodically to show us plants and what they were used for.
The 7-year apple is inedible,

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera
The 7-year apple tree

 

 

but sea grapes, smaller than regular grapes, taste OK but they are fibrous. Shakeena picked a few for us to try if we wanted.

20170323_104947.jpg
There is a vine that grows on other trees, called the “love vine” (above right). Girls wrap it around their waists to attract the guy they love.

 

20170323_105015
Tree covered with the “love vine.”

One tree is called “Farting Joe” because it has an edible fruit that looks like a bean pod and if you eat too many of them, you fart!

20170323_100704

 

 

The silver buttonwood is used for carving.

20170323_102407

She also showed us a sage bush. You boil the leaves 3 times to cure chicken pox. It only takes three days to cure it completely! She speaks from personal experience, having used it on her own son. The sage that grows in the Midwest, however, will not work for this.

Having forgotten my water bottle, I was grateful and relieved when we stopped at a shack for cold soda or water. We had to wait for a group of kayakers to leave, so we stood around the beach, where I saw some curious objects in the water. They looked like white blooms on the sandy bottom.

20170323_100955

Shakeena told us that these were actually a type of jellyfish – not the stinging kind! They lie bottoms up on the sand. She reached in and took one out to show us.

 

20170323_101106
This is the jellyfish right side up!

 

20170323_101342
When it was returned to the water, the jellyfish flipped over before joining its companions on the sandy bottom.

 

 

Finally the kayakers took off and we sipped our cold drinks and watched them paddle away.

20170323_102300

20170323_102741

We also stopped at the Stingray Adventure area where people were snorkeling in a shallow cordoned off area full of these flat, shark-related fish. We watched them gliding along under the water, their long stingers trailing behind, except one – aa female they called “Stumpy” because her tail had been bitten off in a close encounter with a shark! Having lost her means of defense, she was brought to this safe area.

 

 

 

20170323_102859
Snorkelers reach down to try to touch “Stumpy.”

We also saw sea stars and sea cucumbers.

20170323_103016

Our last stop was at a farm, where a variety of crops and flowers are grown, including a local watermelon (smaller and oblong) as well as the type of watermelon we have in the U.S. It being only March, most of the food crops and flowers hadn’t grown much yet. I imagine it would have been more spectacular a sight if we were here in June. Even so, Shakeena and the farm’s proprietor showed us each plot and explained how the crops were grown (no chemicals!) and what they were used for. For example, some of the flowers are shipped abroad.

 

Below, a local watermelon on the left, the American watermelon on the right. Of course, the American watermelon will get much bigger, but the local watermelon is fully grown.

20170323_104039

20170323_104021

20170323_104127

20170323_104556

When we got back to the starting point of the tour, we were told that it was a five-minute walk to either the left, for a barbecue lunch ($20/person) or to the right to return to the ship. We chose to return to the ship, but first I took a few pictures on the beach.

20170323_105918

20170323_105858

After snorkeling in the afternoon at a reef offshore, there was time for shopping!

 

20170323_142814
Main plaza and shopping area

20170323_125749

20170323_142838