Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week 8 - Sick and Tired

There isn’t much to say about this week. I was sick enough to call in on what would have been my first day back to work after my cruise and although I was back at work on Tuesday, I was barely holding on. I was completely medicated – Claritin D, Mucinex and Flonase – and was still a mess. I made it through work every day only to go home and struggle to stay awake for even a couple of hours. I got absolutely nothing done except for going to work, unless you count the single load of laundry I did because I needed clean undies. And since swimming wasn’t an option, I got a haircut on Thursday. That’s it. So, not my most productive week.

I was on the mend by the weekend. I did some food shopping before heading home to Wahoo. Other than doing a bank deposit for Friends of the Library on Saturday, I had no obligations nor plans. I was feeling completely disconnected from the world so stopped at Andrea’s shop after I did the deposit for a good, long chat and then had some catch up phone calls over the weekend. I briefly considered driving to Fremont or Omaha on Sunday but opted instead to stay in and do some cooking and baking – brownies, cabbage casserole, a loaf of whole wheat bread and apple crisp. I did venture out to drop a big bag of scraps for Lori’s chickens, recycle and stop at the market for ice cream for my apple crisp. It was a nice day to end a somewhat lost week.

With my cold in its final stages, I have grand plans for a normal week full of friends, swimming and productivity.

Week 7 - Cruising the Caribbean

The first two days were ship days. Since we’d already explored, we headed right up to the Serenity Spa for a day of relaxing in the shade. I knitted and Connie read. After awhile, we look some laps around the ship on the Promenade deck and hung out on some loungers with a cute couple from Tennessee who were on their honeymoon – Jaime and Josh. Dinner was back in the main dining room. Tuesday was pretty much more of the same except we ended with going to the comedy club with Connie’s niece and her fiancĂ©. By this point I was ready to get off the ship and we’d booked some excursions for the 3 port days so had some fun stuff in store.

Wednesday was Jamaica and we’d booked an all inclusive beach day at a local resort called Secrets. It was only 5 minutes from the port and was absolutely lovely. After hearing the thrilling news that they had wifi, Connie and I found the perfect chairs under both a palm cabana and palm trees, thereby ensuring us shade all day. A lovely British couple sat next to us so it was fun chatting with them. Servers brought us drinks (free) so I had 3 – 2 Miami Vices (half pina colada and half strawberry daiquiri) and 1 mojita. Delicious! We had fish tacos in the restaurant but the best part of the day was getting online. I HATED not being connected so happily sent emails, updated facebook and checked in on Ravelry. Nirvana! I was determined to swim so dutifully walked over to the roped off area and swam. The only problem was the steep, rocky part you had to get over to get out. It was right were the waves broke and I just could not get my feet under me before the waves would knock me down. Connie, who hadn’t gotten in, tried to help me only to be pulled in too. Now that’s a good friend! We both floundered around for awhile before being rescued by two burley men who hauled us out. I can only hope no one had a camera because two middle aged woman laughing hysterically in a food of roiling water would have been a treat I’m sure. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Wednesday was Grand Cayman. We’d booked a private excursion with the travel agent so most of the 50 people she’d booked were heading for Captain Bob’s boat for a Stingray City/snorkeling adventure. The stingrays were amazing! The boat takes you about 30 minutes from shore to a big sandbar where there water is not even waste high and the stingrays congregate there. Centuries ago, fisherman used to clean their catches there so the stingrays went for the food and are still going there. Now it’s tourists feeding them and they’re completely familiar with humans and swim right up to you, brushing along your legs as they go by. Captain Bob picked one up and you could touch it, kiss it and get a stingray massage. Definitely something new and exciting! From there the boat went to 2 snorkeling spots at reefs – one with just coral and the other with lots of gorgeous fish. I love snorkeling – seeing so clearly and being in a world of your own. Totally enjoyable. We got a restaurant recommendation from Captain Bob and enjoyed a delicious fish lunch when we were done. I finally got to taste Wahoo, which I’d known was a fish but had never seen on a menu. Yum. Connie shopped a bit while I sat on a bench. By the time we got back to the ship, I had the chills. Now I’d been out in the sun all day but with sunblock on and didn’t appear to have a burn so it could have been too much sun or the little cough I’d had for a couple of days (lots of people on the ship had a dry cough) was turning into something. No way to be sure but after failing to muster any appetite for dinner, I opted to go back to the room and had the light turned off by 8:20. I clearly needed some extra sleep.

Friday was Cozumel and we’d originally scheduled a 7 hour Mayan ruins tour on the mainland, which included a 45 minute ferry ride followed by a bus ride to get to the ruins. We’d wised up and exchanged our tickets (nice that the Guest Services people gave us no grief even though it was cheaper) for a shorter one on the island so left for that Friday morning. We had a wonderful tour guide and I thoroughly enjoyed the 3 hour tour, which included ruins of a Mayan fertility site and a bus ride around the island that stopped at a beautiful beach on undeveloped side where we had some fresh guacamole and chips and Connie got to buy her conch shell. I was dragging a bit on the 1 mile walk through the jungle to one of the ruins butit was all good. That night was another cruise elegant night so we headed back for showers and dressing. They didn’t have lobster but the pasta I ordered was yummy. The next day was our last day.

I don’t know if it was the direction change or the weather but Friday night was the roughest night we’d had. It wasn’t bad but I did wake up many times during the night noticing the rocking. Saturday was COLD. I had hoped for a relaxing day at the Serenity Spa but being at the top front of the boat, it was way too windy. Jaime, Josh and I found the warmest spot we could find in the sun on Deck 5 but when we lost the sun, it was too cold to stay. We went to the buffet for lunch (I had 3 bites of a hotdog and stopped but did enjoy some chocolate from the Valentine’s Day dessert spread) but then split up. Connie was back in the room because she was feeling crappy so I went to check on her and ended up spending the rest of the day there watching Seinfeld and Friends reruns, which was fine. I was over the cruise and counting the minutes until we could get off the ship. We packed our bags before dinner so we could put them out for the porters to take and enjoyed our last meal with our dinner mates. I was so ready to go!

After breakfast Sunday, we headed to a lounge to wait for our debarkation numbers to be called. It was as organized as the front end and we were on the bus to the airport. I was dismayed by the hundreds of people waiting in line to check bags at Southwest but was assured I’d make my flight, which I did with only minutes to spare. I felt pretty bad at this point and was congested despite being fully medicated with Claritin D and Mucinex. Then the wifi was down on the first flight so I had less to distract me. At least I was on the way home. The 2nd flight was delayed but flew by as I watched TV on my ipad. My left ear absolutely wouldn’t clear though and by the time I landed, I couldn’t hear much at all and my ear was killing me. Only when I got to my car and was sitting with it running, did blowing my nose work. There was pain and a screeching noise in my left ear that left my equilibrium out of whack but after clutching the steering wheel for a few minutes, it’s equalized. I headed towards home at 5:30, which was when I’d hoped to be in my house but still. After a stop at the market for fried chicken and cole slaw for dinner, I happily walked into my house. My cold was full blown by then but I unpacked like a zombie because I was determined to go to work on Monday. The cruise was over and it was time for a return to normal life, which I ridiculously happy about.

So cruising is clearly not my cup of tea. I’m glad I tried it but know that was both my first and last cruise. I guess I wouldn’t rule out something more refined like a Viking River Cruise or transatlantic on a kinder gentler cruise line but Carnival will ABSOLUTELY NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN. I’m ready for Scotland in 2016 now. It’s gonna be a long wait.

Week 6 - Headed to NOLA

What’s not to like about a week that starts with a snow day and ends in the Caribbean? Nothing!

Since I’d known UNL was off before I went to bed Sunday night, I thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in on Monday and then having a lazy day of knitting in the sun while the winds blew the snow around. Not enough to need to reshovel, which was nice. The day ended with knitting at the library while we ate caramel corn and I got some fun birthday gifts from Andrea. What a perfect start to the week!

Tuesday was a busy but fun day. It started with birthday gifts from friends, soup food day for lunch, my super yummy Funny Bones birthday treats and monthly reports to make the day go quickly. I would be going home to a clean house too. It was time to start thinking about packing but I spent the night knitting and watching TV instead. Go figure. Since there was another storm that would make the morning drive on Wednesday a nightmare, I did something I rarely do and worked from home. I did all my monthly emails and was done by 1:00, by which time the snow had stopped and the sun was out. After a brief stint of shoveling, I headed to work. The reason I went in at all was the water aerobics gang was going out for dinner at Dempsey’s after swimming and I didn’t want to miss it. We had a great time with yummy food – Guinness with burgers and truffle fries. Only when I went to leave, my car was stuck. It took 2 passersby and 3 men from the bar to push my Honda out from the curb. Winter in Nebraska.

Thursday was go time for packing, which I done nothing about, not even made a real  list and I had laundry yet to do. I was actually more concerned than usual about packing because my usual mantra of “I’m not going to Zimbabwe so I’ll buy anything I forget!” wouldn’t work on the boat so I felt pressured to remember absolutely everything. I spent the evening gathering things from around the house and making stacks on my bed. When I was done for the night, I threw it all in the suitcase and went to bed, hoping I’d be able to sleep OK. I’d left a few things to do in the morning since I wouldn’t leave the house until 11:30 so wasn’t stressed about time and did manage to sleep just fine.

The morning wasn’t rushed and I had my bags packed and was headed to the airport right on schedule. There was no point in being nervous any longer. I was on my way. The flights were completely uneventful and I arrived in New Orleans on time, stopping to eat some greens and macaroni while I waited for Connie. Once she arrived, we grabbed a cab and got to the hotel with no problem. I could only hope the rest of the trip would go as smoothly.

Saturday was our day to see New Orleans. Connie’s daughter had recommended a restaurant for shrimp and grits for breakfast so after getting directions and a map from the concierge, we headed towards the trolley stop. Well, the concierge had put too many stars on the map he’d given us so we got off at the wrong stop and had to backtrack a bit to find Surrey’s. We met a local who walked with us and told us some of the local color so it was fun. We also passed a yarn shop (one of those stars on the map) and so after an amazing breakfast, I got to buy yarn. All good, right? Then we walked to the Lafayette Cemetery and around the Garden District until we’d gotten a flavor for the area, at which point we caught the bus to the French Quarter. I wanted to get to St. Louis’ Cathedral so we shopped our way towards there. When Connie decided she needed a psychic reading, I told her I’d wait for her in the The Quarter Stitch – the yarn shop just down the street. Nice. She had her fun and I had mine. Nothing like vacation yarn purchases to make me happy. We were starting to fade after walking all day so we stopped for coffee and beignets. Yum. Next stop was a parade, which just happened to be between us and the hotel. We screamed for beads with everyone else and when we had enough, we waited to cross the route and get back to the hotel. Well, we crossed once only to find we needed to recross closer to the hotel. By the time we got back, it was nearly dinner time and we were both exhausted. I had a blister too so we ate a delicious dinner at a restaurant right by the hotel and fell into bed exhausted. The next day was the cruise.

Our plan for Sunday was to have a quick breakfast at the Starbuck’s in the hotel, check out at 11:00 and take a cab to the docks in hopes we could get on the ship early. It’s a good thing we left when we did because the parade route was in between the hotel and the docks so our cabbie was able to sneak through a barricade only because the parade hadn’t started. There were many people boarding and so we joined the throngs and made our way through the lines. We were onboard and eating at the stern in less than an hour. We wouldn’t have access to our room for awhile so we explored the ship after we ate. It was crammed with people but we scoped out some quiet areas to check out later. The best thing was discovering the Serenity Spa area at the bow of the ship. It had none of the over the top tackiness of the rest of the ship and was adults only. We’d be spending lots of time there for sure. After finding out room (an interior (cheap) room on deck 7), we changed and headed up to our first dinner at our table – 8 people who all knew each other plus Connie and me. The food was decent and the people were pleasant enough, which was a good thing because we’d be seeing a lot of each other. We went to bed hopeful that we’d be enjoying the next 7 days on the boat. Time would tell.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 5 - My Snowy Birthday

Well, it was an interesting week full of training, computer problems and snow. I was also in my last week of rotating but had issues after the three 600 calorie days that left me uncomfortable and worried about my colon, which was not cool. It all worked out in the end though. : )

The work week was full of training. I was teaching 2 classes (Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons) and the vendor for the new space software was doing demos of the modules of the new release, which meant I had a morning session Wednesday then all day Thursday. With all that time taken up, the rest of the work week flew. I also took as many breaks as possible because early in the week it was in the high 50’s and even over 60 one day so I was able to take breaks and knit on a bench without even a jacket on. Nice but the payback was coming.

I was having my usual up in the wee hours sleeping problem on Thursday night so got up early on Friday figuring I’d catch up on some TV. Nope. My computer was dead. Lights came one but it wouldn’t boot up. I brought it to work and Allan confirmed that the video card was toast but my data was fine, which was a darn good thing because I had bought a flash drive to back up but had never gotten around to it. Anyway, I needed a new computer NOW so went online to Staples, found an HP Pavilion – the same model as my old laptop – that was in stock and would be right on my way back to campus from HuHot. I was in and out in 5 minutes and Allan configured it that afternoon so I left with my computer good to go. I could not have dealt with a computer free weekend. Allan is the best computer guy ever! I’ll be buying him a case of diet coke as a thank you.

I had planned to stop at the market on the way home Friday but couldn’t wait to get home and try out my new computer so skipped it in favor of making a beeline home to start the weekend. Lori was having a birthday tea for me on Sunday so I had to be productive on Saturday since it was my last weekend before my cruise. Luckily the computer was so similar to my old one that it didn’t feel much different so didn’t suck up much time.

Unfortunately I wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped on Saturday. I did get started on my chores but didn’t make a big enough dent so went to bed Saturday figuring I’d have to be a machine on Sunday morning. It was already snowing but they were predicting 1-3” so I wasn’t even planning on shoveling. Yeah, right. The wind woke me up in the wee hours and the electricity had been off so my alarm clock was blinking. I absolutely had to know what time it was (2:42) and by the time I had reset the clock, I was wide away. It was still snowing and blowing hard. I read for an hour and when I turned the light off, the electricity went on and off five or six times before I fell asleep.

I slept late and when I got up it was even worse. Clearly the weather forecasters had missed and this was more than they’d expected. The snow was coming down hard  and it was blowing and drifting. Lori wisely cancelled the tea and I hunkered down for the day, starting in on the chores I hadn’t gotten done Saturday. I had already decided to end my diet a day early so I could enjoy my tea so had some normal food even though I was having tea alone as the snow flew. It was a nice break from only healthy stuff and I’d lost 15 pounds in 3 weeks so was very happy with my progress. All good, right?

Over the course of the day I talked to a few people and listened to the constant dings as people posted birthday greetings on Facebook. Nice. I spent the afternoon making Funny Bones (my fave Drake’s Cake growing up, which went extinct when Hostess went bankrupt) to take to work for my birthday treat and caramel corn to take to knitting. I'd called Tim to get the name of someone to plow my driveway and 5 minutes with a bobcat and that was taken care of. I only had to spend 15 minutes shoveling the deck and sidewalk. Since it felt like -16 with the windchill, the less time outside the better. I showered when I got in, got right into my nightie and sat down with dinner for a night of PBS – British Baking Show (love it!), Downton Abbey and Grantchester. It’s my new must see TV.

Earlier in the day I had tried to remote into my work computer to run the tables for monthly reports but it wasn’t working on my new computer so I’d emailed Josh to ask him to do it. Just before bed, Josh emailed to say he’d run them but we wouldn’t need them Monday because UNL was closed! Well knock me over with a feather! I was floored because UNL rarely closes, never mind the night before. I hadn’t seen the email because I’d gotten so many birthday notices over the day that I’d been ignoring the dings. What a fabulous birthday present! I don’t think it gets any better. Snow day! And the best part was Wahoo had done their usual fabulous job plowing so I’d already been out to the market so would be perfectly able to go out on Monday. Yay! What a perfect end to my birthday.