Sunday, April 9, 2017

Meet Me in St. Louis ... er.. Orlando

So a couple of weeks ago, I flew to Orlando, via Chicago, to attend a software conference.  This was a totally new experience for me.  Not the travel part, longtime fans know all about my adventures (and the medical procedures that resulted from same).  No, the conference part was the new experience.  I'm sure I've mentioned that I'm an introvert.  Not to be mistaken for being shy, the Paxil takes care of most of that.  Introvertedness has more to do with energy, how you spend it and how you recharge.  After spending a large amount of time with people, especially large groups of people I don't know, I'm physically exhausted and I need to be alone to recharge.  I can't say that I totally understood it myself until I started reading up on it.

But anyway, as I'd written about before, I was supposed to go with three other people.  Then it was announced that we were under a travel ban, for all unnecessary travel.  So the next thing I know is that the three people going with me were no longer going with me.  This was no big deal, I've traveled by myself before, but there were nerves, of course, but it wouldn't have been me without them.

My flight left Evansville at 6 am, the butt-crack of dawn.  The airport was surprisingly busy considering the hour.  Now here is the big question:  Did Rose get stopped for extra screening by security?  HA!  Trick question!  Of course she did!  I got pulled aside to have my hands wiped to test for residue of explosive materials.  I'm guessing that I must just look suspicious.  (I've since learned that putting hand lotion can set off whatever.)  I'm told that it is 100% random, and I do not believe that at all.  It happens with too much regularity to be random.  But it has convinced me to look into the TSA pre-screening thing.  But that's neither here nor there. 

I knew that since I was flying domestic that even though I might have to trek all over O'Hare for my connecting flight, that that one time should be the only security event I'd have that day.  And I'm happy to say that I was correct!  The flights went well, I slept for most of them, and I arrived in beautiful Orlando about 1-ish.  I had to find and wait for my checked luggage and then I had to find the rental car area, get the car, find the car, and then find my hotel.  Easy peasy, right?  Well, yes, but I have to say that at this point, I would not have minded having someone with me.  

The rental car didn't have GPS, so if Jesus was my co-pilot, Siri was my navigator and they (btw, Siri is a man with a British accent on my phone), got me out of the airport complex, to a Wendy's for water and nuggets, and then to the hotel safely.  The only damage being a very strong headache.  I've been struggling with tension headaches lately, but this wasn't the usual.

The conference was very good.  Several of the breakout sessions were nothing but thinly veiled sales pitches for programs we didn't have and I couldn't care less about, but outside of those, I got some good information.  Of course, each evening, I ended up back in the hotel room, with my laptop trying to catch up on the work I'd missed that day.  Every evening except...

One evening, the conference rented out Universal Studios Marvel Adventure Island for us.  Just us, and by us I mean three buses of about 50 people each.  The rides, all three of them, were open, the gift shops, the food and drink places were open and no charge.  There were bars set up about every 100 feet.  It was nice.  I, the introvert, really just wanted to be in my hotel room, but I forced myself to go.  This was another time during which it would have been nice to have someone there with me.  I rode one ride - the "mild" ride - Spider-Man.  After almost pooping my pants during said "mild" ride, I new that the rides were out.   I did roam around the gift shops, duh!, but while I like Marvel movies in general, I am not a big fan of any one of them in particular enough to actually buy their stuff.  Now, had there been a Batman gift shop....

There were characters wondering around - Spider-Man, Wolverine, two of the Fantastic Four.  The only one that I cared to get my pic with, and that was only because he didn't insist on standing in a stupid pose during the pics, was Captain America.  Still my least favorite Avenger, but he was nice.  We had been told that the first bus back to the hotel would leave at 9:30 (2 hrs after dropping us off), so I roamed around catching Pok√©mon until it was time to find the bus.

The conference was over at noon on Thursday.  My flight out of Orlando left at 4:20 on Friday afternoon.  I originally had thoughts of finding a beach (per Google, there are like 5 within a hours' drive of Orlando) but I was tired and wanted to go home to my babies.  So I attempted to change my flight - first to the 4:20 flight on Thursday, and then, having found it to be overbooked, to 9:00 on Friday morning.  There were seats available on that flight, but to change them would have cost $400 and since I figured Berry was paying much less for me to leave at 4:20 pm, it would be best to stay put.

Friday morning, I slept in, and leisurely packed my bags.  I didn't have to be at the airport until mid-afternoon, but since I had nothing else to do, I decided to start heading over there.  Found my way there, turned in the car, went to go check in my luggage and discovered that they don't check in luggage for flights that leave more than 4 hours away.  At that point it was 6 hrs away, so I found myself a chair near a USB port and watched Dr. Strange on my iPad, all the while watching the line to get through security grow longer and longer.  Finally I could check in my luggage and get in line for security.

Security.  We can play the game again, but what's the point?  Of course I was pulled aside.  This time it was because the sweater I was wearing had metallic thread threaded through it top to bottom.  So, I'm happy to say that I may now be engaged to a TSA agent.  If not, she at least got to second base as she frisked me, maybe third.  But, it was just once - I wouldn't have to go through security again in Chicago.

I sat and watch Dr. Who for the four hours until we boarded.  The flight was fine.  We even got to O'Hare early!  My luck stopped there.  As we landed, I looked to see if my boarding pass had a gate number on it.  It did not.  So I looked on the big screen.  The big screen said that my flight which was supposed to leave at 8pm, was leaving at 6am.  Well, that had to be a typo, right?  I asked a very nice woman at a miscellaneous gate - she confirmed it was not a typo, but told me that another airline had a flight to Evansville leaving at 9:30p, so I should go to customer service and they might get me on that flight.  I did.  They couldn't.  They put me up in a hotel, gave me vouchers for dinner and breakfast.  I had to trek a country mile to get to the shuttle, and keep in mind that I'm in Chicago where it happened to be under 32 degrees, and I'd come from 80 degree weather..so I'm not dressed appropriately.

It was next to impossible to sleep, worrying about getting up in time to be at the airport for a 6am flight, you know, so I gave up and got up.  I got to the airport, and security.  Now remember, I checked my luggage, so I am wearing the same clothes as the day before; and recall that the day before, I was thoroughly frisked by a TSA agent.  Sigh..  I mentally prepared myself for another intimate encounter with security.  Needless to say, my determination to investigate that pre-screening stuff was only strengthened.

The flight finally lifted off.  I slept the entire way.  Baby Blue was safely parked in the long term parking where I left her and I made it home.  The livestock greeted me at the elevator door, and after talking to mom a few minutes, I crawled into bed.  Other than waking up for lunch, I slept until about 4 that afternoon.  Even now, several weeks later, just typing about it is making me yawn!  I think I might go have a nap.

Monday, January 30, 2017

If I Only Had a Brain!!

Back in December, when Mom and I drove up to Indy for Christmas, we drove as far up I-69 as we could.  It's very nice road, not much traffic, few cops, so it cuts the trip down considerably.  The only downside, so far, is that there are no McDonalds along the road. 

Now, I've eaten at enough McDonalds in my life, that I consider that I've got lifelong bathroom privileges.  I mean, they are generally of a certain level of cleanliness.   Having been raised in the 70's, I consider guessing the level of cleanliness of any given gas station restroom to be similar to Russian roulette.   Therefore, I always prefer stopping at a McD's.  Plus, there is the opportunity to grab a bag of fries while I'm there!

Let's return to December.  We drove all the way to Bloomington without a stop, and we needed to stop.  I realize there probably 20 McD's in Bloomington, it being a college town, but we found ourselves stopped at a gas station.  I suppose we just had to stop and didn't have time to investigate and look for one.  After we took care of business, and purchased some water and munchies - see I always feel like I have to buy something at non-McD's, we exited the building.  Their was a car parked right there, and a man was exiting it.  I saw that he had something interesting hanging from his rear view mirror and I had to know, so I asked him, "Hey, what is that?!"

Let me interject that 16 years ago, in my "pre-Paxil" days, or 16 PP, I would never go around talking to strangers.  If I end up getting into danger, sometime in the future, due to my talking to the wrong person, I blame two people - Erin Gibson and Donna Nicholson.  They know what they did.

So I asked this complete stranger, "Hey, what is that hanging from your mirror?"  He said it was a brain cell.  I understood and immediately needed one.  Thank God for Amazon. 

Amazon had two sizes - the "giant" and the "giant XL". Both seemed big, but you know I needed one, so I got the smaller of the two.  It arrived and there was no way for it to hang from anything, so I spent that evening lovingly sewing a ribbon on it, so I could use the ribbon to tie it to my rear view mirror.  I hung it from my mirror and while it looked adorable, it was just too big.

I wasn't sure what to do about it.   But in the bowels of my memory, I remember Deborah at the law firm sharing a funny advertisement a couple of years ago that said "Give your girlfriend Herpes for Valentines Day!" Or something similar.  It was from a website that sold stuff germs, so I found it humorous... bookmarked the link, but never really felt that I, as a mid-40's adult needed a stuff cold sore, or flu germ.  Let me point out that the breast cancer cell is adorable, AND part of the proceeds go to research, so if you're looking for a gift for someone....

I started thinking that IF there were a smaller version, I could probably get it there.
Unfortunately, the only small version was a keychain, which was perfect in size, but they're only sold in packages of 10 and, although some might argue the point, I didn't feel as though I need that many.  Then I saw that they also sold a five pack that contained a brain cell, a red blood cell, a white blood cell, a bookworm (?), and a kissing disease germ! 

I'm sure you can see the rest of the story, so long story short, I now have an appropriately sized brain cell hanging from my mirror. And I just love his little ganglia!

Anyone want a keychain?  You can choose from the red blood cell, the white blood cell, and the kissing disease germ! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

I Can't Blog, I'll Be Out of Town on Business.....

I recently changed email addresses.  That news generally meets the big question "WHY?"  It's not because of anything specific.  The catalyst, I suppose, was hearing, yet again, that Yahoo email had been hacked.  The reporter on the evening news was telling about it and how if you were going to switch emails, not to just cancel the yahoo account because then the hackers could reopen it and do all sorts of crappy things in my name.  He then went on to talk about how if you were inclined to change emails, that gmail and one other, whose name escapes me, were the safest.

So I opened a new gmail account - it's taking some getting used to.  I'd been using my yahoo email for probably 20 years.  It was on the resume that I used to get my job at the law firm, back in 2000!  Consequently, I receive a lot of crap - not spam, specifically, but newsletters and such.  For example, last fall, when my iPad died, I entered 50 million sweepstakes online to try win a replacement.  Spoiler!  I didn't.  But part of entering these sweepstakes involved signing up for various newsletters.  Some, I read.  Most I immediately deleted.

What does this have to do with the price a kibble?  Well, after switching the main important things, I haven't been checking the yahoo email as often.  So one morning recently, I was sifting through the 100's of emails and my eyes landed on an email about an upcoming Paralegal Cruise of some Paralegal association.  I didn't spend much time contemplating it - I've never worked anywhere that would ever consider sending me to something like that.  So I went on with my day.

Later that day, I'm asked if I'm excited about going to Orlando.  My response was, "wha..?"

So, let me back track.  As I believe I mentioned in my last blog, I've been busy at work.  A big part of the busy was that about a month into my new job, so about March of last year, I was told that I was going to be the Legal Dept's admin for the new contract lifecycle management ("CLM") software that the company had been investigating for a couple of years, and was just now getting ready to begin implementing.

One of the biggest bits of growing pains that I had to deal with after switching jobs was going from the firm where most everything (document-wise) was organized and stored in a software system - not very well, since the firm didn't use the software to even half of its capabilities, but still there was some organization.  When I got to Berry, one of the most frustrating problems was trying to figure out where something was stored or should be stored.  We had a Legal folder on the Z drive and there was just a mish mosh of folders in it and oh it drove my administrative side crazy - I wanted to just sit and organize everything.  I was told to just wait until the CLM was implemented.

In May, I participated in a solid week of training on the software.  If I try to describe this system, it would be like we bought a bunch of cabinets, but there were no shelves in it.  The software is programmable, by us, so that it fits what we need.  Rather than having cabinets with shelves already places, so you have to fit your needs into the spaces provided.  Dang, as I think of it, that's a pretty good analogy.  Anyway, the first week of training, I learned SO much, about the software, the company in general, plastics, and the sales procedure in specifics.  The training was the week before Memorial Day and I used every minute of that three-day weekend afterward to recover.  I was mentally exhausted.  But I was likewise stoked.  This was so me!

In fact, Mom asked me at one point, how I was chosen over the other paralegal for this, and did they have any clue how perfect a fit this was for me?  My answer was that I was probably chosen over the other, because I was the contracts person, whereas she has other responsibilities; and no, they probably had no clue, but they would figure it out!  Although I'm sure I mentioned some of my abilities at the interview, right?

In June we had another week of concentrated training, and again in July.  Our trainer, a man named Don, was really good, and those of us being trained all agreed that we needed to get I (heart) Don tattoos.  We haven't done that yet, hmm.. need to get on that.

The subsequent five months were spent continuing to program, training sales people, and brining one of Berry's three divisions online.  It hasn't been pretty, but we're getting there and making progress on getting other divisions and departments online, too.

So back to later in the day after I read the email about the Paralegal Cruise and my immediately forgetting it because I knew I wouldn't be going and then one of the people on the "Team" asking me about whether I was excited about going to Orlando.

Turns out the software company has a conference every year, in Orlando, and we, as customers are invited. Then, even better, it turns out that I, your favorite blogger, is being sent to the conference!
I've never worked at a place that was going to pay to send me anywhere.  At law firms, the attorneys are the ones who travel.  And frankly, during the economic downswing, that was firmly discouraged.  In my 26-ish years, the closest I've ever come to traveling for work was when BFOH sent Jennifer and me to Chicago to attend a computer trade show in order to have a live demo of some collection software the firm was contemplating purchasing.  We drove up, spent the night at the hotel, caught the demo and drove back.  Mostly it was just a fun road trip paid for by the firm.

I enjoy traveling and am pretty sure that I'm running low on body parts that can go bad during the trip, so I guess it'll be a fun trip!  And IF I have the chance to check out Disney, I'll search for that duck-butt hat I've been kicking myself for not getting 16 years ago!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

New Year's Resolution - Shine My Light into Your World More!!

I have been told by several people that I need to get back to blogging.  Well actually, it was expressed more like "You haven't blogged since April!!"  Looking at it in black and white, it's hard to convey the stress that was placed on the words "haven't" and "April," but you get the point. 

I can only blame it on actually being busy at work.  Not that I would be blogging at work (sssshh.. my boss might read this!) - although back when I had nothing to do at work, I did blog while there.  But when I'm so busy at work, first, I don't have time to think about things; and B) I don't want to come home and sit in front of a computer, and frankly I have two other computer-related obligations!  Mom would point out here that I come home and sit in front of my iPad, but that is different - I have farming to do, and such.  It's more mindless and doesn't require thought.    Whereas it actually does require a little thought to be as witty and entertaining as I am in my blogging life.

So here we are, it's a new year, and people for some reason make resolutions to do something to make them a better person, or to make the new year better.  Well, I'm already a pretty great person, so my resolution will be to try to blog a little more often to, if nothing else, make the lives of you, my peeps better.

To this end, my thoughts are that I'll start off by sharing my observations of the past few weeks to bring you up to date. 

First, Christmas.  Turns out that, along with other fabulous perks, Berry is generous with holidays around Christmas and New Years.  We receive both the big days and the accompanying Eves.  So, since all of the holidays and their Eves were on weekend days this year, we got the surrounding Fridays and Mondays off - resulting in two four day weekends!!  I realize that for my former co-workers at the law firm this is not something they want to hear, so I'll continue on quickly.  

For the actual Christmas weekend, Mom and I packed up the buggy and travelled up to Indy to visit the Sibs, their Hubs and kids.  I think a good time was had by all, even me.  The Introvert inside of me would have killed to spend the weekend alone under a blankie with a cat at the condo, but even the Introvert
had a good time. 

During the weekend, we learned that Holly's hubs,Tom, has accepted a position in Georgia, so in the next few months they'll be looking for someplace to live and getting packed up, and moving.  My observations on how their move will affect me are twofold.

First, it seems that the ubiquitous response upon learning of their move is to the effect of "well, I bet you won't miss the winter weather!"  Presumably the winters are softer down south.  Personally, I like winter - sweaters, fireplaces, snow.  It's the summer I don't like.  But my brain started percolating - Mom isn't good in the winter - she gets cold easily, isn't stable of snow/ice.  Therefore, I had an epiphany!  Mom can go stay with Holly during these softer winters.  And since she wouldn't want to play favorites and cause discord between the twins - after all, they already have to contend with ME being the favorite child - so Mom could go spend the summers with Haley in Indy.

Then she could enjoy the spring and fall at the condo with me.   

So where was I?  Oh yes, how Holly's news would affect me...  The second, and some would say more realistic effect is that Holly'll be living MUCH closer to a beach and Mom'll probably want to see Mistake #1 once in a while, so I'm thinking Rose'll be going to beach more often!!

The next item on the docket is also Christmas related.  Mom asked me a couple of weeks before Christmas what she could get me.  I told her that I didn't need anything so not to worry about it.  After all, I was getting equal enjoyment out of the Keurig I'd gotten her (and she'd opened way early, but that's another story).  At some point, I came home and she tells me that she's figured out what she's getting me for Christmas.  Now, I have to point out that we have the world's most uncomfortable sofa.  When I moved out on my own, I bought a fabulous sofa - it was deep and allowed my long legs to rest comfortably; whereas what we have isn't very deep and my legs never get comfy, especially when a handsome 15 lb boy likes to lay on them.  So, I'm like, what is it?  She says she's going to get me a recliner (or pay for part of one, as I got a very nice bonus from work).  I said that her idea sounded great and that she needed to get one for herself, too.  So on New Year's Eve, we went shopping.

I have always been the kind of person who makes shopping-related decisions easily.  I walked in, sat down, and my butt fell in love.  The only questions left being what color to get and did I want it to be an electronic chair or the "old fashioned" kind where in order to enjoy lounging comfortably, you have to move the lever yourself.  Meanwhile, Mom is looking around.  We'd already talked and decided that she needed the kind that moves and helps you stand up, but she didn't like the style and fabric of any of the choices.  I kept trying to get her to just sit in one of them, and finally, as she agreed and sat, my eyes fell on the price tag and saw the words "heat" and massage."  See many moons ago, Dad had got Mom a heated massage thingee that goes into your chair and you control the temp and strength of the massage movements.  I knew that we'd found a winner.  After sitting for way too long with an overly chatty sales lady, we ordered our chairs, AND when they deliver the chairs, they're willing to take away the couch!!  We just have to wait 4-8 weeks (well, 3-7, now).  We're pretty sure the cats will enjoy them, too.

This past week, we had our first really cold weather and even a smidge of snow.  Of course schools were closed, but otherwise, it wasn't all that bad.  Still it was cold and as I got to work, it was still coming down.  One downside of where I work is the parking.  I pray each morning that the Lord will bless me with a "good" parking spot, and by that I'm meaning a spot in the main parking lot.  On a bad day, I get a spot and have to walk three blocks.  Anyway, on this particular morning, the Lord blessed me with the best spot, other than the United Way spot, that I could have possibly got.  If I'd stood in the door to my building, I could have taken a picture, without the zoom!  I didn't because my phone was buried in my bra, under my sweater, under my scarf, under my coat... you get the point.

 About noon, someone walked by and asked me if I was going out at lunch.  I replied, "No, I am not throwing away my spot!"  Then I had to laugh - see, I've slowly yielded to the mass hysteria over Hamilton - in fact, after the conversation with about what to get me for Christmas, I told her I knew what she could get me for my birthday.... tickets to Hamilton, in Chicago.  So yes, we have tickets for a matinee on my birthday, July 22nd!  Rose is very happy.  But back to my point, I amused myself so over my wit, that I've chuckled continuously over it since.  It it probably going to rival "Hold Me Closer Tony Danza" as my favorite song lyric-related pun.

I've seen a couple of movies this past month.  Rogue One - surprise, I know.  Loved it.  Have seen it twice so far, wouldn't recommend you take your young children.  Moana, enjoyed it thoroughly even before I realized that some of the lyrics were written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame).   Sat there thinking the music reminded me of Hamilton as I watched and listened.  Take your kids.   And finally, Hidden Figures.  Don't worry, I am well aware of my shallowness and preference for movies with explosions and superheroes, preferably Batman, and I have no intention of starting to like movies that are "good for me," but this movie was historical, AND had Cookie Lyon in it!

Ok, so my carpal tunnel is acting up and Gizmo wants in my lap, so I'm going to wrap it up here.   I promise not to stay silent so long.



Wednesday, August 17, 2016

We Flew Over on the Mayflower!

As I believe I have mentioned previously, when she was pregnant with me, Mom started working on her family tree, and she continues to work on it.  I figure eventually she'll prove we're royalty or something important.  I mean, everyone who traces their roots on "Who Do You Think You Are?" ends up being uber important, so why not me?  Right?


Well, so after about 45 years of hearing stories about our ancestors, I finally convinced Mom that I would like to join the DAR - the Daughters of the American Revolution - basically women who can trace their roots back to people who fought or otherwise supported the fight for American independence.  Mom knew that we had a bunch of these guys flitting around in our family tree, so after finding out that the twins were on my side and were interested too, she caved and got to work and got all the paperwork together to get us inducted into the DAR.  My reasoning for wanting to be in the DAR?  Well, you know it wasn't so that I could attend monthly meetings with a bunch of total strangers... I figured it would look darned nice on my resume and/or obituary!


We were inducted in spring of 2014.  I'm not really a joiner and, therefore, not really good with groups, but I try to attend at least once a year, preferably the month with prime rib on the menu!  Yum! 

So as I said, Mom has been doing genealogy for 48 years now, and she has gathered quite a bit of info.  She started compiling the information she'd found into short biographies of the not-so-famous and (relatively) infamous of hers and Dad's ancestors.  She decided that I should be the editor of her book since I (at the time) had nothing to do at my job and knew more about Word, etc., than she did.

Meanwhile, about a year ago, Mom came home from a meeting about a year ago and tells me that the editor of the quarterly magazine published by the Tri-State Genealogy Society (of which she and Dad were founding members) was having to quit and maybe I'd be interested (again, having nothing to do at work), and I'd get paid a wee bit for it.  I was like, "You had me at paid."  So I've been doing that for about a year now.  This coming September, I'll be publishing my 5th issue!

To recap, I've been surrounded by genealogy all my life, but managed to just have a passing interest.  That and I wanted the DAR on my resume.  And I took a "job" as editor for the money.

On Christmas and New Years' weekends this past winter, Mom tells me she thinks her biographies are ready for me to start my editing duties.  So during those two weekends, I start the process.  But I'm looking at her bios and, maybe it's just me having a shallow attention span, but there were no pictures!  I started harping on her that there needed to be pictures for those of us who would find all those words daunting.  Her point was that she didn't have any pictures of most of these people, they were long dead before Mr. Polaroid popped out his camera.  I pointed out that she had documents that we could scan in and we could (mis)appropriate maps and other pics from the interwebs.  The rest of the two weekends were spent trying to locate, and deciding upon, pictures for the book.  I mentioned that for our DAR Patriot (Peter Smith), we could maybe put some sort of picture indicating that he was a DAR-approved Patriot.  She then said that we'd have to do the same for the others.

At this, my Spock-like ears perked up.  "Others?!"  And I was off!  By the end of the second weekend, I had supplemental applications started for no less than 4 Patriots on Dad's side (Mom pointed out that they weren't her ancestors and she was working more Supps for her ancestors.) 

The nice thing about Dad's family, and not so nice in some ways, is that they moved to Pope County in Southern Illinois in like 1810 or so, and never moved, so all of the records for most all of these people, with the exception of the Patriot himself, and his son, are in Pope County!  The reason it's not so nice is that Pope County isn't exactly digitized.  So mom and I planned that during the week that I was taking off between my two jobs, we would take a road trip (it's only an hour and a half away) to Pope County and get the records we (I) still needed for my supp app for Jacob Shufflebarger - Jacob being the Patriot who would be the easiest to prove lineage on.  But then my new job wanted me to start a week earlier, so there went our road trip. 

Fortunately Haley was interested in the whole scheme and this past July she and her hubs took Mom down there and were able to get the docs.

So here I am, after 48 years of being exposed to the madness, I have succumbed.  I'm "working" on my supp apps - I say "working" because I don't have nothing to do at this job, so I actually have to spend my free time of the stuff!  And I'm editing the TSGS quarterly Packet.  And did I point out that my being the editor also puts me on the board for the TSGS?  And I roam around Ancestry.com scoping out new info.  AND I had my DNA tested to see which ethnicity we can blame my weirdness on.  Turns out I'm of very northern European ancestry (see below).

What about Mom's book of biographies? you ask.  Well, I have successfully finished the first bio and started on the second one the other evening, but then Sophie plopped in my lap for some cuddles and, since she doesn't do that very often, I put the red pen down.

I know that Mom has always wondered what would happen to her years of research since none of her children were overly interested in carrying the family shovel after she shuffles off this mortal coil, but I think she's now been reassured that between me and Haley, at least, we'll keep it (sort of) going.



Did I mention that we have an ancestor who was one of the "founders" of the State of Indiana, and because of that there is another group we can join?  All I have to do is get the paperwork together....  Sigh.










Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Celebrate Me Home

Monday we awoke to find our ship of fools back in the real world.  Bummer.  We had one last breakfast at the buffet and one last visit to the soft-serve ice cream machine.  Then before too long, our assigned Zone number was called and we were allowed off the boat.  As we trotted off the boat, Annette and I were told to go through a different door than all the people in front of us.  My heart stopped. And I'd done so well!  Now comes the weird security stuff, and poor Annette's been sucked into my personal hell now, too!

But no, the people in front of us had a butt-load of luggage with them, so they went to the elevators.  We only had a backpack (me) and a bag (Annette) so we got diverted to the escalator and/or stairs.  Whew!

We then had to pick up our luggage from the holding area.  This was the first of several reminders that for the past several days, we've had people doing everything for us.  And now we have to lug our own luggage!  Sigh.  We, with our luggage in tow and Customs forms in hand, got in line and slowly made our way to the Customs people.  I decided that some of the best words you can hear is when the Customs agent tells you, "Welcome home."  Just made me feel good.

We had arranged for the shuttle to take us to the airport, and the very comfy, air-conditioned bus was a welcome site.  At the airport, we gratefully paid a tip to the skycap people to take our luggage off our hands and check us in.  After hitting the ladies room, we were pleased to breeze thru TSA and we made a beeline straight to Starbucks!

We had a couple of hours before our flight left Tampa.  But ultimately made our way to Detroit where we anticipated a lovely three hour layover.  I will do anything to avoid the Atlanta airport!  Turns out we were pleased we did the Detroit thing, though, because we got to see the coolest tunnel thingee between terminals.  I took a video, but it's too big for me to upload.  You can find it on my Facebook page.

We got home to Evansville about 8:30 pm and Annette dropped me off at the 'do about 9:20.  I was so happy to be home.  And the kids were happy to see me.  Although instead of welcoming me home, Sophie just decided to plop her furry little butt on my suitcase in an attempt to stop me from leaving again.  Such a sweetie.  So glad to be home!


Aye, Calypso, I Sing to Your Spirit!

Sunday was our last full day of the cruise, and would be spent at sea. 

video

There was one last session of cat trivia and I wanted that stupid trophy so bad I could taste it.  This round of questions was hard - it separated the cats from the dogs!  And I was ONE FLIPPIN' QUESTION AWAY FROM WINNING!!  Sigh.  I was bummed.  But I did learn a few things.  So it was worthwhile.  Grumble..

We discussed the options for the next cruise, and it sounds like it will be in October, and will leave from Miami and go to Key West, so the cruisers can visit the Hemingway cats.  While I would adore seeing the cats, I'm not sure I'll be able to go, for reasons I will discuss more thoroughly later.

Because there was a block of us, Carnival gave some credits that could be used by the group in a variety of ways.  One of them, and the one that was chosen, was a hour-long cocktail party for the group where the alcohol was free.  I've never been a heavy drinker, but after my surgery and it's subsequent screwing around with my metabolism, I really can't drink much.  Plus I don't like not being in control so the whole drinking thing isn't all that fun for me.  Let's just say that some of these cat people do not have the same physical limitations or psychological inhibitions as I do. 

I realize that after reading that last paragraph you're probably shocked by the fact that Annette and I went to the mixer.  It wasn't easy, but we felt like we ought to make a show of participating.  Especially since the cattier (hahahaha!) of the members had notice we weren't joining in all of the fun.  One in particular, said, as we joined the cocktail party, "Oh, sure, when there's alcohol, you show up!"  I do not hesitate to point out that she was already drunk, and, as I said earlier, the alcohol was free.  I'm too cheap to pay $10 per drink anywhere!  We did talk to a very nice couple from the Dominican Republic and we got to hear some about the others' day off the boat.

You will recall that I mentioned previously that we'd made reservations for massages - we had them in the afternoon.  Before the cocktail party.  I had signed up for the deep tissue massage and I truly thought the woman was killing me.  Afterwards, I felt better than I had all day, but during, it was touch and go.  Annette's massage was her first and I think she's a believer.  Of course, like the pedicure, our respective masseuses tried their best to talk us into buying products.  Specifically, I'm supposed to apply seaweed oil to the knots in my neck, lower back, and left shin.  But we held firm.  I was so proud of us!  

Annette and I also had decided that we would make one appearance in the formal dining room and since this was the last night, it had to be tonight.  The group had gathered a thank you gift and had a card for Anna, the girl who coordinated the whole Cat Cruise, so the timing worked nicely. 

As for the formal dining room - I am not a formal person.  I do know what fork to use, and when, but that's about as far as my couth carries me.  The ten people at our table were probably the most sober of our group, and so it was a pretty nice group.  The food was good, but it wasn't any better than the buffet where we'd been grazing all along, and it took forever.  The waiters started taking orders at one end of the room and by the time we ordered, there were some who were already eating their main course!  The waiter was very nice and told Annette and I that he was glad we came for one meal so he could meet us!  After almost two hours, I was glad for the experience, but next cruise, I'll stay with the buffet and the common folks.  Plus we had and self-serve soft-serve ice cream machine!

After dinner, we returned to our room to start the long chore of packing our suitcases, shoving the dirty clothes that somehow had gotten bigger that they were when they were clean AND the loot we purchased.  And we had to fill out the everlovin' Customs Declaration Form.  Arnold, our cabin steward rewarded us with one last towel creation. 


I watched a movie on Carnival TV and turned in for the last night at sea.