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Location: California

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Impossibly Mindless

I tripped on a poem today. Candlelight, by Tony Hoagland. It begins ...
Crossing the porch in the hazy dusk
to worship the moon rising
like ...,
All my senses were quick at once. What will he say? Shhh! Wait! He's going to describe the moments I enjoy nearly each evening, when I ponder the heavens and their gods and their stories. I'm about to visit that expanse wherein I stand so small, so frail and yet so safe.

What will he say?

The poet continued ...
like a yellow filling-station sign
on the black horizon, ....
I nearly threw up. It took but a moment to bring forth a demonstrative retort —

I think an earnest writer should avoid reducing verse with simile that can destroy an earnest reader's imaginative discovery, like beginning a joke with its punchline, or hiding a child's Birthday gift in plain sight.

Monday, October 13, 2008

At an End

Home. Tired. Resting.

To answer the hundreds wondering about finals of the DC - DC Shuffleboard Tournament, the final score was
DC 2, DC 6.

A new tournament is being planned for December.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Any Storm In a Port

8:30 AM

10:00 AM

10:10 AM

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Cork

Using metaphorical terms with this entry is not so much an attempt to be cute, but to convey my feeling at this moment. Earlier, I received news of the death of Lenore Luther Lanterman, of Flint, Michigan.

Mrs. Lanterman, as she has always been referred to by my family, became a large part of my life, and the lives of several siblings approximately 1948. She was our piano teacher, and she continued in that capacity these many years. The circle was widened as several of our children and grandchildren were also introduced to music through this great lady.

Because of her vast capabilities and experience, she was not just a "piano teacher." For many of us, Mrs. Lanterman was the guiding mentor and example of a life devoted to making music. She was our piano teacher, she was our music teacher and she was our friend.

While Island Princess navigates the storm and returns us home, the wind is taken from my own sails. It's time to put this note in it's bottle, tap the cork in place and set it adrift. Farewell, Mrs. Lanterman.

Thanks for letting us share.

DC and DC

Goodbye, Puerto Villarta

The only view of Puerto Villarta during this cruise; now sailing away after medical evacuation.

11:00am: As reported earlier (see below), Island Princess did coordinate a medical evacuation moments ago. Several hundred passengers watched as several boats arrived to transfer a group of about 6 persons, including the evacuee and all their luggage, to shore. Ship is now leaving the port and will be traveling far enough out to sea to circumnavigate Hurricane Norbert.

Cancellation of this port call was necessary to provide enough time for that change of course and to get us all back to Los Angeles on schedule.

SHUFFLEBOARD SCORE: DC 2, DC 5 (definitely with cheating involved.)

Puerto Villarta. Well, sort of ...

This entry was well underway, as follows ...
We have been well aware that Island Princess is sandwiched between two tropical storms. One minute they're being called hurricanes and the next minute they're called something else. Last evening, during dinner, a scheduling change was announced to explain that, due to Hurricane Norbert, we would cut the stay at Puerto Villarta just short enough to allow us to make a wide swing around the west side of the storm and still make Los Angeles on time. Things changed this morning
7:50am: sunlight just enough to allow sight of coastline south of Puerto Villarta. Then, we noticed the ship turning sharply to port. Within minutes, the Captain announced that this port call is cancelled. The storm is larger than previously scaled and we would require much more time to skirt it on the west.
OK. We settled for that. The several of us sharing a table for morning coffee blithered together several more lies, each trying to top the other with our own blather. Mine was of watching our wake pattern and realizing we were turning long before the latest announcement. Well - so much for that bit of news. More was in store, so this morning's entry continues ...
8:25am: noticed another change of course, another turn to port, soon the sun now on port side. New announcement: a medical emergency requires us to make Puerto Villarta after all, but only long enough for an evacuation.

Now (9:00am) we see that we have made a large, oval-shaped 360. The ship is precisely where it was an hour ago.

Shortly we will know if we can make a photo from one of the higher decks to share here. If not, there are other pictures, from other cruises. The problem for you is the guess-work. Is it real, or is it Memorex?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Wii Challenge

Danny has discovered the fun of Wii.

After bowling and baseball Wii Challenges earlier in the cruise, today Danny took a turn at a tennis tourney.
(Alliteration unintentional.) He really seems hooked.

Now, Wii requires a sizable, wide-screen monitor for optimal play. Obviously, this means a new TV at our house.

Gem of Entire Cruise

Early Thursday, after anchoring off this most picturesque of ports on the Mexican Riviera. This photo is a composite, as we had no one to take a shot of us together. (Sorry, there would be more photos but for some putz who left the camera in the stateroom when we went ashore.)


A joy to re-visit this beautiful village. For block upon block, no matter where one wanders, each turn finds new sensual delights -- vistas, smells from cafés, street singers. Within half an hour, Danny found his way to a realtor's office - just for info, ya know. Who knows? One day we may want to spend a week or so in a time-share. There's enough here to maintain interest for that long, surely.

Two miles away is Ixtapa - a very modern commercial phenomenon. Ixtapa
recently had been the site of political problems. We have not seen Ixtapa from the inside, and that will have to await another trip.

Tomorrow: Puerto Vallarta.

SHUFFLEBOARD SCORE: DC 2, DC 4 - There is talk of concerns that DC may have been cheating.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Punctuality of Utmost Necessity

What on earth, you ask, could all these seniors be lining up for each afternoon at 3:30?

Only one thing could be better than Princess Chocolate Chip Cookies....


That would be EATEN Princess Chocolate Chip Cookies!

We've been enjoying this Princess Cruises specialty for years. Formerly, this delicacy was available only late evenings and through the night. Island Princess has changed the pattern; they are now available (served with ice cream) only mid-afternoons, when more folks are likely to find them, I suppose. The cookies are brought in hot, straight from the oven. Within minutes the basket is empty and the line must wait for the next batch. And ... they don't mind waiting.

That all OK, I suppose, but it surely spoils my late night snacking.

Wednesday At Sea

Having a wonderful ride this morning. Bouncing around like a marshmallow in a hot tub.

Wondering ... is it easier to scramble them eggs?

We'll know soon enough ...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Guatemalan Pearl

It's the port that's a pearl, not Danny. In the photo above (click for larger view), Danny found a pleasant spot in the shade after caution to avoid falling coconuts.

Puerto Quetzal epitomizes the pride local residents hold for their homeland. The port appears distant from any city, so far as we could determine. This is an active seaport. Interest in putting their best face forward shows up in the area set aside to greet cruise ships.

Yes, we found the expected and numerous vendors immediately on shore, with tour buses awaiting those who had booked trips to other parts of the country. Being rather stilted travelers, we visited only the immediately vicinity, preferring to hear about those distant places second hand as our cruise partners return this evening to brag (or complain) about what they did all day.

The day is hot. We checked and got the specific temperature - it's v-e-r-y hot!

Nonetheless, it was necessary to make two trips off the ship, having remembered something forgotten during the first jaunt. The national language of Guatemala is Spanish, but English, German and French are spoken, along with about 30 Indian dialects. My personal challenge was in convincing one merchant that when I say "diez dol
áres," I mean "diez doláres."

Strong Mayan Influence

I called this woman a Mayan Madona, from the impression of her striking and smooth features.

Most of the people in this area are Mayan descendants. We were reminded, from all directions, of that influence. Clothing patterns, artwork and mannerisms resemble in no way the Spanish influences of other Central American locations.

Despite the Heat, I'm Sold!

One of many gardens placed for visitor enjoyment.

Tomorrow we will be returning to a fondly remembered port, Zihuatanejo, Mexico -- a port we have been eager to revisit. As of today, though, our brief Guatemalan experience has added another fond memory and a revisit aspiration.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Nicaragua At a Glance

What an opportunity to see the abject poverty much of humanity deals with each day. We left the ship twice to visit Puerto Corinto. During the first trek, in a heavy downpour, 12-year-old Darwin attached himself to us. After giving up trying to lead us to some place for a drink, or offering to take us to find a nice chica, and figuring we had his number when he said the weather at the beach, 1 mile away, was sunny and warm, he followed as we browsed a pharmacy for breath mints. We found only 2 boxes of TicTac ($ .50/ea) which, later, turned out to be tiny orange jelly beans all melted and sticking together. Darwin stuck with us as we browsed familiar souvenir huts (we spent $2 there) and followed us as we headed back to the ship. When we reached the gate to the port yard, we gave him $5.00. All in all, that $2 souvenir cost us $8.

These people are poor beyond poor, but it's unclear whether the people know what that means. Whilst watching about, several conditions stood out:
  • All the shops and restaurants probably close at sundown; there was no lighting, nor light fixtures in any places we saw.
  • There were many dogs wandering the streets and sidewalks. Each of them emaciated. Except for one instance, no one seemed to pay any of them any attention. At one place, an old woman had a dog up on a chair, and she was grooming its belly for fleas, placing those she found into a baggy. (It will be a long time before I'll want another poppy-seed pastry.
  • All those very hungry dogs, but no cats?

We had to change into dry clothing and enjoyed a great lunch onboard. Several friends told us of finding familiarly named cigarettes in town for $10 per carton. After lunch, we changed back into wet clothing and ventured off the ship and out of the port. We wandered many streets of murky shops, finding several shops with only one or two packs of something resembling cigarette packets, but we decided not to bite. We gave up, figuring the only full cartons of familiar names were already sold to our friends.

Back on board now. We'll try again some day in Guatemala. Oh, that's TOMORROW!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Dinner Partners (click for larger picture)

Ten of us share a table each evening in the Provance Dining Room. Today, our second formal evening, one of the couples was missing. In the picture (top to bottom) are new friends Ruby and Oscar, Adriana and Yope, Stan and Marilyn with ourselves.

This day, about 4:00 am onward, was impressively stormy. Did I mention - it was s-t-o-r-m-y ? One break in the rain was long enough for us barely to begin our FIFTH shuffleboard game. Otherwise, the main attraction for everyone throughout the day was the antics of about twenty brown boobies. (Sorry, no photos of them.)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Champagne Sunday makes Panama

This is for friends, Jessi and Jared. (We pretend to be groupies when they appear in Ventura.)

Interested folks may want to check out Champagne Sunday's web site - www.champagnesunday.com. Great music ... great FUN!

Canal Zone, Panama

Passing through Mira Fiores lock, westernmost of the locks we must transit on the way to Gatun Lake in Central Panama.

Everyone onboard is becoming sad, as are we, to know that this day marks the end of the first half of this trip. When we next see this lock, later this afternoon, we will be homeward bound - something we dred.

SCOREBOARD: Fourth shuffleboard competition evened the DC vs. DC tournament. Score is now 2, 2.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Shuffleboard Update

Tournament officials determined that Game Three of the DC vs DC games, earlier called on account of weather, should resume early Friday, notifying players and their managers to be on site at 12-midnight.

The players, while waiting for spectators to assemble, each took practice shots to assess the board condition. Though there was some concern about the partially wet track, play did resume by 12:15. Conditions hampered each player, but they managed to overcome and provided a spectacle.

DC, obviously the odds on favorite, pulled ahead for most of the play off. In the end, though, it was DC who surged out in front and finished this game handily.

Tournament Score: DC, 1 and DC, 2

Friday Evening

This afternoon, after several hours of tropical downpours had lifted, it was possible to stroll the decks without being drenched. The Sun, however, appeared to have taken leave since last seen several days ago, at Acapulco.

A mild schedule change has been announced. Now (7:30 pm) at anchor in Fuerte Amador harbour, we will remain until approx. 6:00 am tomorrow, when we will
enter the Panamanian locks. That event will mark the half way point of this cruise. By this time tomorrow evening we will be on the return leg of this cruise.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Kiss of Costa Rica

Excellent! Scenic! Friendly! God's Vacation Spot!

Now that we've dispensed with some unusable adjectives, we can get down to a brief description of Puntarenas.

Someone once said that Costa Rica faces the Atlantic. Perhaps that answers what we found on the opposite side. Solids, of course, collect along the shore. More fluid matter soaks in the bay. We suspect the ship had to wade in this morning.

Pictures Don't Tell the Story

After wandering around to find supplies for some friends, we did our own touristy thing. The shops. The sidewalk booths. The pandemonium. Visit ashore was mercifully short; we arrived back in time for early Team Trivia.

Third game in DC vs DC Shuffleboard Tournament was called due to weather. Current game score stands at 14, 7. Play resumes later today or this evening, when ever game officials believe it will be clear.

Tournament stands at DC, 1; DC, 1