Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Parade season

When you think of 'parade season' most people think of summertime. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day frequently have parades. But here in 'lower, slower Delaware', early December is also 'parade season'.

Residents of these small towns and rural outskirts love a Christmas parade!
In fact, practically every town in these parts has its own Christmas parade. Fortunately they coordinate them so no two parades are on the same day.
Of course, every vintage car owner (myself included) looks for opportunities like parades to share their beauty with the masses, so I will be driving Big Ella in 3 local parades this year:
  • Milton - Wednesday, Dec 1 at 7:30
  • Lewes - Saturday, Dec 3 at 5:00
  • Rehoboth Beach - Monday, Dec 6 at 6:00

Each parade has its own set of 'rules'. One says 'no Santa costumes' because the official parade Santa will appear at the end of the parade, and they don't want children to be confused by seeing more than 1 Santa! Another says 'no throwing anything' meaning candy, bubble gum, mardi gras beads, etc. I guess they don't want to have to send the street sweeper around after the parade. Yet another says 'Floats and vehicles MUST be decorated'. Who knew there were such politics in Christmas parades?

My friend Steven has agreed to ride with me in all 3 parades since Spouse doesn't like to 'be the center of attention'. (I told Spouse "You're not the center of attention - Big Ella is" but he still won't ride with me in a parade.)

Since the point of driving Big Ella in the parade is to share her beauty, I've decided to keep her decorations simple. I have an artificial wreath with battery operated lights that also plays 8 different Christmas carols which I'll attach to Big Ella's front grill. I have another decorated artificial wreath to attach to her rear bumper, and a velvet bow for each of the front doors. Steven & I will both wear Santa hats. That's it; just enough decoration to qualify as 'decorated', but not so much that it distracts from Big Ella's beautiful lines.

Look for photos after the parades.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Weekend highlights

Sat morning Spouse went to the new gym and had another conversation with the recovering alcoholic. Seeing his wedding ring, the guy asked Spouse about his wife. Spouse told him he had a partner named Mark. The guy paused for a few seconds, then said "That's cool." Meanwhile I was at home enjoying coffee while watching back-to-back episodes of "Sell This House" - a perfect Sat morning in my book. Once Spouse got home it was time to get busy. He helped me carry the bins of ornaments, decorations, and the artificial tree itself down 2 flights of stairs from the attic to the living room. I assembled and lit the tree while Spouse got to work on the snacks and drinks.
That afternoon the 15 guests arrived and we had a lovely little tree trimming party.
To my surprise, most of the guests ended up just eating, drinking and watching while just a few of us actually hung the ornaments.
But we had a great time and the tree is beautiful. Afterward Spouse & I went to Outback Steakhouse with Steven & Thad for dinner.

On Sun morning I finished cleaning up after the previous night's party, then Spouse & I went for a nice walk on the boardwalk. We stopped by the grocery store for a few necessities on the way home. Later that afternoon we went to Steven & Thad's to watch "BearCity" and have dinner. Steven made Italian wedding soup and we brought baguettes. Don't you love a meal of soup and bread? We had a great evening with our buddies, and a really fun weekend.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own blog post.

My friend Jared is responsible for this hilarious photo.

We had a lovely Thanksgiving with Spouse's mom, sister, brother-in-law, niece, 2 nephews, and my aunt Mary. Spouse made the beautiful turkey and dressing.His sister brought the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, corn casserole, macaroni and cheese, and brownies. Aunt Mary brought sweet potato casserole and
hummingbird cake (my all-time favorite cake). Spouse's sister-in-law dropped off pumpkin pies.
Everything tasted wonderful and we all overate hedonistically.

This morning we removed the leaves from the dining table and finished cleaning up, then relaxed as Spouse's mom watched back-to-back episodes of her favorite sitcom: Seinfeld. I sort of 1/2 watched with 1 eye as I read my book "Mary Ann in Autumn". Then we met up with our good friends Kerry & Hugh and Kerry's father George and sister Kelly for a late lunch. It was nice to reconnect with them since we haven't seen them as much this year as usual, and since so much has transpired in their lives and ours. Afterward we tidied up our room, loaded the car and headed home, arriving at 7:00. We'll unpack, relax, watch TV, and check our email until bedtime.

Tomorrow is our tree trimming party! Spouse is in charge of the food while I'm in charge of assembling and lighting the tree.

I just realized I haven't ordered my Christmas return address labels for the holidays cards. Hopefully I can order them tomorrow and they'll arrive before Christmas. I always enjoy having special holiday return address labels on my cards.

Spouse is eagerly awaiting the changes to Weight Watchers. He's done so well (down 70 lbs since July) so he's anxious to find out how the program will change.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Maid to order

When I was laid off one of the cost-saving things we did was to discontinue the housekeeper. (Insert big sad face here.) I volunteered to take on the majority of the housecleaning since I have more unscheduled time than Spouse.

Today was all about cleaning, but not because the family is coming for Thanksgiving. Unlike the last 14 Thanksgivings, the family is NOT coming to our house for Thanksgiving this year. Spouse's niece (a freshmen in college) has a part-time job and has to work on Fri, and his nephew had surgery on his knee (due to a football injury followed by a fall) and can't get around very well. So we're going back to VA to have Thanksgiving at Spouse's mom's house.

The reason I'm cleanin' like a demon is because we are having some friends over on Sat for a tree trimming party. Instead of spending hours and hours hanging ornaments by myself (Spouse loses interest after 10 minutes), I thought it would be fun to invite friends to help me hang the ornaments and have a snack and drink. So today I cleaned the entire house, all 3 floors, which took almost 6 hours.

I did take a break for lunch and met up with my realtor friend Andy. It was really great to chat about real estate and regular stuff. It was very generous of him to spend 2 hours with me, although the time seemed to fly.

Tonight Spouse & I will pack up the car and head to VA, returning Fri night.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TSA bumper stickers

There's been lots and lots of hubbub recently about the TSA body scanners and pat-downs. I don't claim to know much about the technology being used, but my sense is that body scanners are a worthwhile nuisance if they can detect just one person attempting to board a plane with weapons or the makings of a bomb.

Some people claim that the body scanners violate their civil right of privacy, yet its hard for me to believe that they honestly feel their 'privacy' is worth the risk of someone boarding a plane with a gun or bomb. Furthermore, there are many other requirements of US citizens that would appear to violate their right to privacy (filling out census info, registering vehicles at the DMV, and federal income tax returns, etc.) yet no one is complaining about these things.

It seems to me that these same people who object to the body scanners and pat-downs would be the same ones to get up-in-arms the next time there's an attempted hijacking or terrorist attack.

A friend sent me the following humorous (fictitious) TSA bumper stickers. Click to enlarge and enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend highlights

We had a very low-key weekend.

Spouse went for a work out at his new gym. While there he met an older guy who said he was a recovering alcoholic and asked Spouse all kinds of questions, as if they had been introduced by a mutual friend. Spouse found it kind of odd, but I reminded him that people around here are friendlier and more talkative than where we were raised. While Spouse learned more about his new gym buddy, I relaxed with coffee and watched back-to-back episodes of "Sell This House".

That afternoon we went for a nice, long walk around town. We walked a block over to the park where we walked around the pond, then out of the park and around the neighborhood, surveying the new homes being built, and then down the main street, across the canal bridge and down to the bay, and then back home. It was a warm day for late November; perfect for a good walk.

That evening we went to a glass-blowing demonstration by our friend and local glass artist Deb Appleby at her studio. She and her interns made some large glass ornaments and 2 lovely scallop-edge 'spin bowls'.
(Two years ago we bought one of her 'spin bowls'.) Steven & Thad met us there, and we also saw Rick & Nick there. Afterward, Steven & Thad and Spouse & I had dinner at Saketumi.

Spouse & I got up rather early for a Sun morning, and decided to go for a walk on the boardwalk. It was more chilly and breezy than we'd expected, but it was bright and sunny so we enjoyed the walk anyway. Afterward we picked up some things from the grocery store, relaxed at home for a while, then had dinner at Steven & Thad's house with our friend Thatcher. It was a very nice, fun evening!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday fragments

Welcome to Friday fragments, my weekly recap of topics too big to forget, yet too small to be their own post.

Spouse continues to amaze me with this Weight Watchers determination. Despite having been on the cruise for a week with all that amazing food, Spouse still managed to lose 2.4 lbs when he weighed in last night! Who goes on a cruise and loses weight?!?! I guess it didn't hurt that after returning from the cruise he ate soup for lunch and salad for dinner for 4 days. But still...

I've been missing Pouncer since we returned home. Spouse got rid of his litter box before we left, but his cute little ceramic food bowl (which I washed) is sitting on the counter next to the kitchen sink. At this point I don't have the heart to put it away just yet. He really was a special guy.

Today I learned that our Thanksgiving plans have been turned completely upside down! Spouse's family usually comes here for Thanksgiving, and we do most of the cooking. But due to a couple of extenuating circumstances, they can't come so we are traveling back to VA instead. This could actually turn out much better for us, now that I think of it. Usually I have to clean the house from top to bottom before they arrive, continue cleaning while they're here, and then wash 4 or 5 sets of sheets and 6 sets of towels and clean the house again after they leave. Having Thanksgiving at Spouse's mom's house means I don't have to clean the house or do all that laundry! Score!!! But the best part about it is that my aunt Mary will be able to join us. It will feel more like the Thanksgivings we used to have when we lived in VA with my aunt there.

Back in the spring I pre-ordered Armistead Maupin's new book "Mary Ann in Autumn" from Amazon. Its the latest in his "Tales of the City" series. Unfortunately it didn't arrive prior to our cruise as I had hoped, but it was waiting for me when we returned. I love Maupin's writing and find it very easy to read and get caught up. I really hate to finish his books so I try to ration my reading to prevent me from finishing too quickly. I started reading the newest book this week and have already read 1/2 of it! Yikes - I can't control myself. In case you hadn't guessed, this blog is named after Maupin's famous series.

My new laptop arrived today. For years now I'd been using my work laptop for personal computing, since our dinosaur of a desktop is practically non-functional. But since I have to ship my work laptop back to my former employer, Spouse & I agreed I should get a new laptop. We found a terrific deal on HSN, ordered it on Mon night, and it arrived today. I'm using it right now... can you tell?
Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cruise photos

I shared a summary of our cruise, then shared some of the things that happened which we laughed about over and over. Now I'll share a selection of photos. I mean, nobody wants to see all 100+ photos, right? Well, if you do, I'll provide a link to all of them later.

Here's the ship: the Crown Princess. It was enormous and luxurious.
Here we are, hanging out on one of the balconies overlooking the rear pool.
Me and my buddy Steven at the bar by the pool.
Spouse and Thad at the bar.

The Bobs on formal night.

Thad & Steven on formal night.

Spouse & me on formal night.

The chair lift on Roatan, Honduras.

Me next to a LIVE bronze sculpture. Also notice the "Goodmark" sign.

Our ship from one of our ports.

Spouse & me on our ship, with another ship in the background.

The rear pool where we hung out all week, and the ship's wake.

Eddy, Spouse, Chris and Thad form a "waffle".

We met Jorge & Don and found that they live in the city where Spouse & I used to live in VA. Once we became friends on Facebook we discovered we had several mutual friends.

Spouse having some fun with the boys!

The beautiful Grand Piazza.

The dual spiral staircases in the Grand Piazza.

Just in case these photo highlights aren't enough, you can view all our cruise photos

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Routines can be good and bad.

They're good in the sense that they give one a sense of structure. If you have a lot of small things to do, doing them in a certain order or routine helps reduce the possibility that you will forget to do something.

They're bad in the sense that they can get stale. Doing the exact same things the exact same way for a long time can become monotonous and boring, causing some to want to 'spice up' their routine now and then.

People often have a hard time returning to their routine after a vacation. While on vacation people usually abandon much of their routine, especially the parts related to going to work, in favor of a more free-style, serendipitous time. When the vacation is over, its common to hear people complain about having a difficult time going back to their routine.

In my case, I am having some difficulty defining a new routine.

As you may recall, I was laid off from my job on Oct 29. The following Mon thru Thurs I was dealing with decisions related to Pouncer's declining health as well as packing for our trip. We were out of town for 10 days, and when we returned it took me the better part of 2 days to unpack and do all the laundry. That's when it hit me that I didn't really have a routine to return to.

My formal routine consisted of showering, feeding and walking Jordan, working from 8:30-5:00, then having dinner and spending the evening with Spouse. Without a job, a large part of my routine is gone. Of course, in place of working I am looking at websites for appropriate jobs for which I might apply. I'm also making lots of inquiries regarding enrolling in real estate school. If I secure a traditional job, I'll go to real estate school 2-3 nights per week over the course of 3 months. If I don't get a traditional job, I'll take an accelerated real estate course that will be over in 1 month.

Its not that I don't have things to do; I just don't feel like I have a routine, and that makes me feel uneasy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


As I mentioned in yesterday's summary of our vacation, we shared a LOT of laughs with our friends. Hopefully I can describe some of them so you can enjoy them too.

Honey, what's this? What's happening? Why am I still sober? (Said with a Karen Walker voice)
This was a favorite phrase of mine and Steven, likely the 2 biggest Karen Walker fans, whenever there was a lull in any conversation.

Is that Standard time, ship time, or Central time?
The night we set sail, most of the US set their clocks back an hour. For some reason, the ship's clocks were not set back until a few days later. Then we crossed from Eastern into Central time, then sailed back into Eastern time again. It seemed we never really knew what time it was!

Let's not ignore the obvious
When we entered a souvenir store on Grand Cayman the female shop keeper said to Steven "The plus size t-shirts are over here" to which he replied "What are you trying to say?" Giving Steven a once-over, she said "Let's not ignore the obvious", which easily became the most repeated phrase on our vacation!

I figured as much
In another store on Grand Cayman Steven & Thad and I were pointing and laughing at the 'hooker heals' for sale. The female shop keeper asked if we wore high heels. Steven said "I don't, but he does" and pointed to me. Without missing a beat, the shop keeper replied "I figured as much." We decided Grand Cayman must have the boldest shop keepers in the Caribbean.

Red dot!! Red dot!!
Chumley Bear Cruise passengers were issued ID tags to wear which gave us admission into Chumley events and helped us identify each other throughout the ship. Monogamous couples were instructed to place a red dot on their badge while singles and non-monogamous couples used a green dot. One morning Spouse was approached by a man in the elevator on his way to the gym. Spouse's badge had flipped over so the red dot could not be seen. The man made his interest in Spouse very well known. Later as I recounted this incident to the others I said that Spouse probably flipped his badge over and yelled "Red dot!! Red dot!!"

Yes thank you please
Cruise ships pride themselves on having a diverse, international crew. One of the waiters at dinner bore a striking resemblance to Imelda Marcos and even appeared to be wearing make-up. He was a terrific waiter and each time we spoke with him he ended the exchange with 'Yes thank you please'.

Pocono Ed
One of the guys we met in advance of the cruise was named Ed who lived in the Poconos of PA. When we saw him on the ship I said "There's Pocono Ed" and from then on he retained the moniker.

Mini Bear and Howard Stern
Two other guys we met in advance of the cruise and then saw frequently on the ship were from NJ. One of them was much shorter than average so we nicknamed him Mini Bear. His boyfriends voice sounded a lot like that of radio personality Howard Stern, so we referred to the duo as Mini Bear and Howard Stern.

The fake Bobs
Very often we hung out at the pool at the back of the ship, which had 2 balconies that overlooked the pool and sundeck. From there we saw a man who looked very much like our friend Bob K and another man who looked very much like our friend Bob N (aka The Bobs). We referred to these impostors as The fake Bobs.

Fake Honduras
Our port of call in Honduras was a small island adjacent to Roatan where the only buildings were souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, and beach cabanas. No one lived there and the structures were obviously built for cruise ship passengers. For this reason we dubbed the island the fake Honduras.

The waffles on the breakfast buffet were not square, but rather, shaped like a flower. The butter served with the bread at dinner was not square either, but rather, shaped like the waffles which looked like a flower. We noticed that when 4 or 5 guys would face each other with their arms on each others' shoulders in the pool, they resembled the flower-shaped waffles so we called those male pool formations waffles.

Selling children
In a children's clothing store on Princess Cay we were startled by life-like, life-size mannequins. These mannequins didn't have the typical same color faces as the bodies, but had faces with eyes, eyebrows, and lips painted on them. They were so real looking that we joked that they were selling children instead of children's clothing. We laughed even harder as we joked about how long it takes to adopt when you can just come to Princess Cay and buy one! This went on and on until we had to leave the store for fear we'd be thrown out.

Oriental spread
One day the lunch buffet had an array of Chinese food. After eating it we were talking about how good it was. Someone who wasn't paying attention to the conversation asked what was so good, to which Spouse replied "The Oriental spread." That sounded funny, as we pictured the other possible uses of that term. Later when Spouse straddled the lounge chair we jokingly asked if he was offering an Italian spread.

Entertainment Tonight
On the last day of the cruise our group had a pool party. One of the activities was to vote on the most friendly passenger. After the competition was over, a passenger who'd been liberally enjoying drinks from the bar all day came up to us in an exaggerated disgust and said that he had been robbed of the title 'Most Friendly'. With slurred words and flailing arms he assured us that the whole story would be on Entertainment Tonight. We referred to HIM as Entertainment Tonight for his 'entertaining' behavior.

While on (fake) Honduras we saw an older woman riding around in one of those scooters with very small wheels, designed for people with mobility issues. As she was enjoying the beach she got a little too close to the softer sand near the surf and her scooter wheels got stuck. We happened to be walking past her when this happened and asked if we could help. Seconds later a young man came running over and said "What's the matter Bubbles, are you stuck?" He pulled her back to the harder sand and she drove off. Back on the ship I saw Bubbles scooting around so I said to her "Well, I'm glad to see you made it back to the ship, safe and sound, Bubbles." She smiled at me and said "I don't want to miss any of the fun."

Beryl & Beryl
Also while on the beach at (fake) Honduras we met an older couple who sat down and began talking to us. When we asked their names we found out they were both named Beryl. Now, Beryl is a rather unusual name, so we found it quite odd that 2 people named Beryl would find each other! The female Beryl later told us she goes by the nickname Billie.

Welcome Wagon Steven
My good friend Steven is known in these parts for being a no-nonsense kind of guy. Despite his teddy bear appearance he tries to portray a gruff exterior. However, on this cruise he did a 360 about face and said hello to everyone he saw! I suggested he could get a job with Welcome Wagon.

Pitter Patter Paper
The cruise ship provided us with a schedule of the next day's activities in the 'Princess Patter', slipped under our stateroom door every evening. One day while trying to figure out something about the next day's itinerary I suggested we could find the answer in the Pitter Patter Paper. The rest of the week we all referred to it as such.

Jason Alexander
A member of the Chumley group bore a real resemblance to the actor Jason Alexander so we referred to him as Jason Alexander for the duration of the cruise.

Harvey Korman
One of the ship's crew (I think he was the dining room manager) bore a striking resemblance to the actor Harvey Korman, so whenever we'd see him (every night in the dining room) we'd say "There's Harvey Korman".

Club Chaos
The venue where several of the Chumley group activities took place was called Club Fusion. Once I made the mistake of calling it Club Chaos and we all decided we liked that name better than Club Fusion, so for the rest of the week we made arrangements to meet at Club Chaos.

Kelly Clarkson
As we were wading into the slightly chilly water in Princess Cay, the cool water lapped up over my crotch and startled me so I tensed up and shouted "Aaaaaah - Kelly Clarkson!!", imitating this scene from the film "40 Year Old Virgin". Thad cracked up, and we continued the imitation but supplied other American Idol winners' names. "Aaaaaaah - Fantasia Borino!!", "Aaaaaah - Ruben Stoddard!!!", etc.

Steve rubs a stranger
Shortly after the Kelly Clarkson incident, we'd gotten used to the water temperature and were enjoying the lagoon. Steve reached behind him to rub up against his partner Thad, then all the sudden saw Thad several feet across from him. He turned around to find that he had rubbed up against a total stranger, who apparently felt no need to notify him!

Sexy by nature
We saw a guy on the ship wearing a t-shirt that read "Naughty By Nature" and Thad decided he should write a blog about how sexy his partner Steven is, which he would entitle "Sexy by Nature".

Self-induced coma
Chris meant to say medically-induced coma but instead said self-induced coma. We all cracked up as we imagined how one would later get one's self OUT of a self-induced coma!

Some of this humor may get lost in the translation, but I'm telling you these things provided us with more than our share of laughs on the cruise! Sometimes even those around us laughed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back to reality

We returned from our cruise (plus an extra day in Ft Lauderdale) last night, and after unloading our suitcases, hat boxes and steamer trunks, we met up with Steven & Thad and one of the Bobs for dinner at La Tonalteca. It seemed Mexican food was the only cuisine we didn't have during our vacation.

Jordan was happy to see us when we opened the door, and barked and wagged her tail furiously. This of course made me sad that Pouncer was not behind her, meowing and trying to lick me. Although initially I thought the timing was horrible, saying goodbye to Pouncer the same day we left on our much anticipated cruise vacation, it was actually great because the excitement of the trip kept me from dwelling on my sadness.

I'll share more details of the cruise later, but in summary I'll say that we had a great time. Thurs evening we stopped for dinner on our way to Baltimore where we stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport. We arranged to leave our cars at the hotel for a modest fee and rode a free shuttle to the airport for our early morning flight on Fri. Just over 2 hours later we arrived in Ft Lauderdale and checked into our hotel which was right on the beach. The weather was sunny but uncharacterically cool and windy. Later that afternoon we attended a pool party hosted by the Chumley Bear Cruise group, then had dinner at Tropics in the gay-famous Wilton Manors area of Ft Lauderdale. I saw Terry & Jerry there, whom I knew from back at home. I didn't realize they spent the winter there. Then went to a Bon Voyage party at The Manor nightclub.

Sat afternoon we boarded the ship, the Crown Princess, which was completely overwhelming due to its size. Imagine a 19-story hotel that occupies an entire city block, floating in the harbor! The ship was spotlessly clean and absolutely beautiful throughout. Our group of nearly 500 took over the smallest pool (1 of 4) at the back of the ship for the whole week, and in addition to all of the ship's activities, we had several activities throughout the week reserved just for us. We had a few rounds of 'The Gay Dating Game' and 'The Newlywed Game', a private screening of the new film 'BearCity', a dance, and a pool party.

One activity whose popularity with our group surprised me was the afternoon tea. At 3:30 each day we were treated to an afternoon English tea, finger sandwiches, scones, and assorted pastries by uniformed wait staff in white gloves. It was oh so very proper and fun.

The food on this cruise was delicious and plentiful. In addition to the amazing dinners in the dining room each night, there were several 24-hour buffets, a pizza and soft-serve ice cream station, and a hamburger, hot dog, bratwurst, and french fries station. Our typical routine consisted of a full breakfast about 8:00, lunch at 12:00, a slice of pizza (snack) around 2:00, afternoon tea at 3:30, and dinner at 8:15. I know - ridiculous, right?!?!

We opted not to purchase any of the excursions, but instead did our own 'exploring' at the ports of call. Our 1st stop was Grand Cayman Island where we walked and shopped our way through the village at George Town. Our 2nd stop was Roatan Honduras where we took a ski lift ride and spent the day at the beach. Our 3rd stop was Cozumel Mexico where we paid a native taxi driver $40. to drive 4 of us around the city for an hour, showing us the highlights and lowlights. Our 4th and final stop was Princess Cay, a private island owned by Princess Cruise Lines in the Bahamas. We spent the day on the beach and enjoyed a buffet lunch on the island.

The one area that didn't seem on the same par with everything else was the entertainment. There was a 'show' the 1st night that basically consisted of the cruise director welcoming everyone onboard with a canned, semi-comical schtick followed by a 15 minute routine by a comedian who'd been on the Tonight Show. Yawn. Later in the week was the 'Motor City' show which paid tribute to music that originated out of Detroit. We found it ironic that there was only 1 African American in the entire cast. The 3rd show was a crew talent show which was probably my favorite of the 3. Waiters, engineers, and cabin crew members sang, played instruments and danced.

The weather was great the entire time. We had a brief shower once or twice but nothing that altered our plans. We went to the beach or hung out by the pool everyday. In anticipation of possible rough seas I wore a small anti-seasickness patch behind my ear. It hardly seemed necessary since the ship was so smooth... until the last night. The captain announced we'd be entering choppy water between 6-10pm and sure enough, the enormous ship rocked and bounced enough to send me and some others to bed. They closed the outdoor portion of the Promenade deck to make sure no one fell overboard. But once through the rough area the ship stabilized and everything continued as before.

The group of nearly 500 bear men with whom we spent this cruise were great! We found everyone to be fun, friendly and unassuming. I didn't see any attitudes or cattiness. And although I'm not a bear myself, no one acted like I didn't belong. But that could have been because Spouse was such a star among the bears! We would definitely go on this cruise again. We met a great new friend from TX named Eddy, as well as a couple who live very close to where we used to live in VA. In fact, upon becoming Facebook friends with them we discovered several mutual friends.
And our enjoyment was certainly due in part to the great friends who went with us from DE, Steven & Thad, The Bobs, and Chris & Jason. We shared a LOT of fun and laughs! Look for details of the fun and laughs tomorrow.
We disembarked on Sat and returned to the beachfront hotel in Ft Lauderdale where we relaxed in lounge chairs and swam in the pool. Later we walked to a French restaurant and had a lovely dinner on their patio. Sun we flew home and faced the reality of life off of the cruise ship, where we'd have to cook and clean up after ourselves. We all agreed that reality SUCKS!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bon Voyage

Last evening we connected with our local friends and carpooled to Baltimore, stopping for dinner in Annapolis along the way.

Today we fly to Ft Lauderdale where we'll check into our hotel, meet up with the other gay cruisers for check-in and a pool party, and then later a 'Bon Voyage' party.

Sat we board the cruise ship and will sail to Grand Cayman, Roatan Honduras, Cozumel Mexico, and Princess Cay Bahamas. We return to Ft Lauderdale the following Sat and will stay overnight. We'll fly back home on Sun the 14th. So don't look for anymore posts from me until at least Mon the 15th. Hopefully I'll be having too much fun to use the internet cafe aboard the ship.

Bon Voyage!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

R.I.P. Pouncer the Wondercat, 1998-2010

When Spouse got home from work yesterday we discussed the reality of Pouncer's deteriorating condition and although he did not seem to be in pain, he was obviously distressed by the difficulty he had with breathing. He didn't eat anything yesterday and barely drank any water. He slept the entire day. Spouse & I came to the heart wrenching but mutual decision to end the distress. I was weepy on and off the rest of the night and second-guessed the decision many times.

At 9am today I brought Pouncer to the vet. I'd cried in the car but pulled myself together enough to enter the office. After signing a few forms, they explained that they would give Pouncer a sedative first, then the final shot after he was asleep. I could be present for as much or as little as I wanted.

So they gave him the sedative and left us in private. I cried as I thought about what I was doing, even though I knew it was for the best. I held him in my arms and scratched the top of his head lightly, sitting in a chair. Pouncer isn't fond of being held so he tried to get down from my lap a few times, but within just a minute or two he got drowsy and settled down. I continued scratching his head and holding him close to me. He was asleep. I could feel his breathing with my right hand under his belly and his head resting in the crook of my elbow. Suddenly a sense of peace and calm came over me. I continued to cry but not out of profound sadness, but rather, relief that he was resting comfortably.

A few minutes later the doctor and tech came in and asked if I was ready. I was afraid to speak for fear I'd burst into sobs, so I just shook my head yes. I stood up and gently laid Pouncer on the soft towel on the exam table. I blew my nose and wiped my eyes and told the doctor I didn't want to stay for the rest. I wanted to remember holding him in my arms as he slept. They were very nice and waited for me to gather myself. The doctor assured me that Pouncer was asleep and was not aware of what was going on. "But I am" I said. The doctor assured me they had done everything they could and I managed to say thank you as I left the room.

We got Pouncer in June of 1998 from an animal shelter when he was only a few weeks old. He had a wonderful life with us for more than 12 years. I'll miss the way he sat and waited for me to finish showering so he could lick the water off the glass shower door. I'll miss the way he used to sit on my chest with his front paws on my collar bone at night while we watched TV. I'll miss the way he'd come running into the kitchen anytime we opened a can, thinking it was tuna.
Goodbye, dear friend. I love you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Mixed emotions

Its kind of hard to believe that the cruise we booked back in March is finally here. We leave tomorrow evening for the airport, fly to Florida on Fri, and board the ship on Sat for a week's cruise to Grand Cayman, Roatan Honduras, Cozumel Mexico, and Princess Cay Bahamas.

Today I did 5 loads of laundry so Spouse & I will have everything clean when we select our clothes for the trip tonight. Tomorrow I will pack everything, run a few errands, and tie up a few loose ends.

Its very exciting to think about being on a huge, luxury cruise ship with 6 of our friends and a bunch of other people for a week of sun, fun, eating, and relaxing!

But I have mixed emotions because of Pouncer. He has been on 3 different antibiotics over the last 6 weeks but has not improved. At the last vet visit the Dr. basically told me they had done everything they could for Pouncer there, but that in order to find out what was causing his recurring sinus infections he would have to be treated by a specialist up state.

I called the specialist to inquire what the goal of the procedures would be, the expected treatment should they find a mass or tumor (which is what our local vet suspects), and the cost. It was not an encouraging call. The exam, the 2 procedures, the biopsy, and the overnight stay and related fluids and meds would cost $2,000. - $3,000. If they find a mass or tumor they may be able to remove it at the same time, depending on what it is. If its cancerous they would have to do radiation or chemotherapy, neither of which is included in the estimate above.

Pouncer is 12 years old and I do not feel it is a wise use of our money to go that route.

He doesn't seem to be in any pain, but with the way she sounds when he breaths (raspy, gurgly, congested), I'm guessing he feels a similar way as humans feel when they have a very stuffed up nose.

My instinct is to continue the antibiotics until they run out and then see how he does. If he stops eating or seems to be in distress, I would do the humane thing and have him put to sleep. But we are leaving tomorrow evening and will be gone for 10 days. A friend is going to care for Jordan and Pouncer for us, but I am uneasy about leaving Pouncer in this condition.

Once the antibiotics are done on Fri, his condition may deteriorate quickly or slowly - we'll have no way to know. Once we get on the ship we won't have cell phone reception. Plus, I feel badly asking our friend to keep an eye on Pouncer in case he seems to be getting worse.

What if he does get worse and seems to be in distress? How awful for our friend to have to take him to the vet to be put to sleep!

What if Pouncer passes away on his own while we're gone? How awful for our friend to find him and have to "do something" with him.

Part of me wants to give Pouncer more of a chance to respond to this last antibiotic treatment, but since we will be gone it puts the burden on our friend.

Part of me thinks we should say goodbye to Pouncer tomorrow and take him to the vet ourselves before we leave on our trip.

I just don't know what to do.

I want to be excited about our big trip, but my heart is heavy over Pouncer.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Job search

As I've mentioned before, I have been looking for another 'traditional' job in my industry and have also been giving considerable thought to doing something I really want to do, become a realtor.

Although this is not the optimal time to get into real estate, fortunately this area was not as hard hit as many others by the real estate/mortgage banking crisis. So I scheduled a meeting with Lee Ann, the realtor with whom we worked when we bought our house here. She's been a realtor for over 25 years and is the top producing agent for miles around. We became friends with her in addition to being clients, and she graciously gave me her thoughts and advise. I was encouraged to hear that she didn't think it was a bad idea to get into real estate, although she did warn me that its hard work.

Afterward Lee Ann introduced me to Sandy who is the broker of record for the office. Sandy & I had a long conversation about the steps toward becoming a realtor, selecting a broker/office with whom to associate oneself, how to get started, realtor etiquette, and lots of other stuff you don't learn in real estate school. It was very enlightening and very helpful!

I couldn't believe it when we finished up and I saw I had been there for 2 hours!

Although the idea of a regular paycheck from a traditional job is tempting, it is also not really up to me. I can't make a company hire me. But with real estate, if I apply myself and work hard I can eventually make a good living doing something I really, really enjoy.

Although Spouse would prefer the security of a regular paycheck from a traditional job, he is very supportive of my research into becoming a realtor. Deep down I think he agrees with what most people who know me have said: I would be a great realtor.

So now I'm looking into the possibility of getting my real estate license sooner via an accelerated school. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Weekend highlights

OMG - what a weekend!

The weekend started with Fri Night Dinner with 'the usual suspects'. Afterward, 6 of the guys from dinner (including Steven & Thad) joined me for karaoke in the upstairs lounge at Saketumi. Unfortunately, there weren't many singers since the venue just started hosting karaoke on Fri nights. That means there were only about 4 of us singing, which meant I got to sing a LOT of songs. I tried to vary the song styles and artists I chose. Here's what I sang:

How's THAT for diversity??? We had a lot of fun.

Sat morning Spouse & I drove back to VA for the weekend. We took his mom out to lunch and then visited his sister and her family at their house for a while. I left by myself and went to a choral concert where my high school choir director was one of the guest conductors. It was weird to be back in that high school after so many years. It looked exactly the same, only smaller. I arranged to meet up with an old high school friend I hadn't seen in years at the concert and we really enjoyed both the music and the chance to catch up. Shortly after returning to Spouse's mom's house, the 3 of us went out to dinner and then hung out at home.

Sun morning we had coffee and visited for a while. Spouse went to buy a new belt and I met up with my old Dominants and choir director and about 20 of her former students (most of which were also my friends) for a luncheon/reunion at a restaurant. Since the weather was very nice, we took over a section of the deck overlooking the marina.

Our director brought a scrap book full of photos, programs, letters and other memorabilia that had been given to her by a parent of a student years ago. We had a wonderful time talking, laughing, reminiscing, and even singing. Our Dominants and choir director had a tradition of having all her classes learn a piece of music called "The Parting Blessing", so despite the fact that those at the reunion were from several different graduating years, we had all sung that song. We were given copies at the luncheon and we sung it together. Many of us didn't need the sheet music, as it was still in our memories. It was a beautiful highlight of a fantastic day.

As if that reunion wasn't enough for one day, I got a Facebook message from my good friend Billy (who lives in LA now) that he was coming back to the east coast to visit his parents, who live in the same town where my Dominants/choir reunion took place. So once the reunion ended, I met up with Billy. We had a lot of fun remembering funny and happy times in our lives together, and also talked about more serious and contemporary issues. Billy and I were both raised in the Jehovah's Witness religion and both eventually left (though at different times and through different paths) so we could 'come out' and live authentic lives. We met at a cute little lunch spot where we'd eaten together many times before in our previous lives. As we talked and listened I felt keenly aware that I was right there with him, in the moment. I wasn't concerned with what time it was, if I needed to get back to Spouse, or the fact that I am now unemployed. While we were together that afternoon, that's all there was, and it was perfect. When we finally said goodbye, I returned to Spouse's mom's house and we packed up the car and headed home. We watched another 2 episodes of "True Blood" on DVD (how appropriate since it was Halloween) and then went to bed.

I feel so fortunate to have reconnected with so many people yesterday who are or were so important in my life. This day of reunions helped my heart rejoice over so much, rather than be concerned over the uncertainty in my life right now. It was exactly what I needed.