"" Writer's Wanderings: January 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mrs. Noah's Cruise

As we look forward to our next cruise aboard the Celebrity Solstice, I can't help but think of Noah's wife and her cruise. Mrs. Noah was probably very excited when she heard her husband talking about a cruise—a forty day cruise no less! I can see her sitting at her kitchen table, sipping coffee and turning pages of the latest cruise brochure. Dreaming of exotic ports of call, warm sandy beaches, chilled fruit smoothies. . . And then Noah handed her a hammer.

I won't have to help build this ship and hopefully it won't rain for seven days. While Mrs. Noah had to put up with some real animals on her cruise, I find that, for the most part, cruisers are very nice people who only exhibit animalistic habits when looking for their next meal. The only animals to be seen are the ones made out of towels and placed on my bed. And I won't have to clean up a thing. My cabin steward will make my bed. The dining staff will sweep away my dirty dishes and fresh towels (not in the form of an animal) will appear in my bathroom.

Who could ask for anything more?

But wait! Each night I will be entertained in a theater and have the option to listen to several different music venues, watch American Idol wannabes in the Karaoke sessions, and/or take in a movie. If I were a real shopper, I could even do some late night shopping for bargains in the ship's "mall."

If this sounds like a commercial for cruising, it's not. I'm just counting my lucky stars that I'm sailing on a cruise ship and not an ark.

Stay tuned. I'll post some pictures and commentary from the cruise.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

In Your Backyard--Halls of Fame

A few years ago, we went out west for a wedding and had some time to kill before the evening ceremony. I think it was on a AAA Triptik or in one of their books that we noticed a Fireman's Hall of Fame and Museum. I don't remember if it was just a local thing or a national place of recognition, but it was an interesting stop where we viewed old fire engines and equipment.

Living in the backyard of the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame I guess puts us in the front yard of the National Football Hall of Fame and the Inventors Hall of Fame. Thanks to my son's curiosity, I've been to the Rock N Roll Hall but I've never visited the other two. I guess I need to follow my own "Backyard" advice and check them out.

There are halls of fame stretched from one end of this county to the other. Another that we visited out west was the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahohma City, OK. A great place for those of us who were raised on cowboy movies and the likes of Roy Rogers, John Wayne, Gene Autry and The Lone Ranger. (Roy Rogers, by the way, was a Buckeye--born in Ohio!)

At the Hall of Fame Network site there is an extensive list of places that honor not only the common sports areas but things like bookstores, barbed wire, scrapbooking, toys, quilts, and a host of other surprising interests including a lawyer's hall of fame--or was that infamy?

If there's a group of people with a hobby, occupation, or interest, you can bet there's a hall of fame somewhere near you.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In My Backyard -- Great Lakes Science Center

While we do travel to a lot of exotic places in the world, I often wonder if the people who live there appreciate what a tourist comes to see and do. Have you ever considered what you might show someone who comes to visit the area where you live?

Northeast Ohio offers quite a few things. Among them the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame which has a great museum detailing much of the history of the music. Right next to it however is the Great Lakes Science Center. It was there we spent the better part of a Saturday with our visiting seven year old grandson.

There is always a featured exhibit and we visited it first. The exhibit was about robots. It wasn't as interactive as I thought it would be but we had a lot of fun trying to beat a robot at putting together a puzzle. The robotic arm had quite a personality and sneered at us when we failed.

The other floors of the Science Center are a wonderland for the technically intrigued. Some of it was over the head of a seven year old--which in turn meant it was over my head too. But on the third floor we both came alive with all the hands on exhibits. Even if you couldn't understand the principle behind some of them (although my husband tried hard to explain a few), it was still fun to watch the cause and effect of spinning a wheel to create a vortex in a tube of liquid or the optical illusions you could create with mirrors.

Of course there's always the old static electricity lesson. Nothing like creating a bad hair day!

I think our favorite exhibit though was the space shuttle simulator where you could try to land a space shuttle. The machine was very patient and stopped you when you got into trouble. If you crashed anyway, it just told you that with a little more practice, you would become a pilot. Yeah, right, like the real NASA budget could afford to let you crash one of those babies.

What's in your backyard?
In this economical squeeze, you might want to take another look at what's available to explore. I'll bet you haven't seen it all. For a start, check out the museums or a close by science center like ours.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The "Safe on a Plane" Movie

The last time our three year old grandson came to visit from Florida, he was all excited about his plane ride and told us he got to watch a movie.

"Oh," I said, "was it Mickey Mouse or Over the Hedge?"

"No." He shook his head and then beamed his beautiful smile at me. "It was 'Safe on a Plane' movie."

I looked to his mom for help. She explained that he was quite taken with the safety video that was played before takeoff--the one most of us just brush off if we've ever traveled before. A few weeks later when we flew to Florida for our cruise, we stopped off to see our grandkids for a bit. He was excited to see us and when he realized that we had flown, his first question was, "Did you watch the movie?"

My daughter-in-law found the YouTube version online so here it is for all of you avid airplane safety video viewers. It's actually quite pleasant to watch. And CAN YOU FIND THE "HIDDEN MICKEY?" Pause it at 47 seconds and you'll see it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Revisiting my blog posts

Yesterday I went through and tightened up the labeling on my posts so that I could list them on the side of my blog as an index. It was interesting looking at some of the posts I've done over the five years I've been at this. Here are some of the things I discovered:

  • I do a lot of whining about cold weather and snow.
  • I posted a lot of whining about cold weather and snow.
  • I'm still whining about cold weather and snow.
  • Once in a while I have an intelligent and even somewhat deep thought/observation.
  • I can be humorous at times--musing about life's quirks.
  • I've visited a lot of unique places in the world--and there's lots more to see.

Well, it didn't get much writing done yesterday but at least it allowed me to watch the inauguration with my laptop perched on my knees and my feet up in the recliner. Hmmm. Maybe that should become my new office chair.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Visiting Washington, DC

Tomorrow, depending upon whose predictions you use, there could be as many as 3 million people descending upon our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. When we were young marrieds, and before having kids, we lived near D.C. and took advantage of many of the free sites and activities that took place there. Later, with our children, we returned and again enjoyed many of the freebies that abound in the city.

The largest and some of the most impressive of the free things to do and see are the Smithsonian Institution Museums. The Institution is composed of 19 museums, 9 research facilities, and the National Zoo. The museums do not charge admission fees and you can spend days trying to see them all. Art, history, culture, and science and technology abound throughout the mall area that is surrounded by the historical museum buildings and their modern counterparts.

When we visited, the things most remembered were the ruby red slippers from Wizard of Oz, the Mercury capsule from early space flights, and of course, the Giant Panda at the zoo. But the exhibit that brought the biggest smile to my face was the one we saw in the American History museum tucked among some of the technical communication products. I recognized it immediately because when it became obsolete, Bob had brought one home to save for posterity. Afterall, he had a hand in designing it. It was a credit card terminal--a very early model that was larger than an old typewriter. Today, it's that little box where you swipe your credit card.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Obama Inauguration--In Legoland

The news is teaming with anticipation of the inauguration Tuesday of Barak Obama as our next president. Meanwhile all the places where presidents are memorialized are also gearing up. I saw a brief news bite of the new wax Obama, a teaser about a painting, and now I have found the ultimate--the inauguration in legos!

Take a look at this link. At first glance it could be Washington D.C. but then you realize there's a man standing in the middle of it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Australia's Dream Job

There it was, staring me in the face. My Yahoo home page had its teaser news story set on a dream job in Queensland, Australia. While I really needed to get started with my writing for the day, I couldn't resist. I clicked.

Dream job indeed. It involves becoming a "caretaker" on one of the islands near the Great Barrier Reef for six months. The job involves keeping the pool clean at the home you stay in (for free), feeding the fish, and collecting the mail (which involves flying with the aerial postal service a few times and getting an over all view of the other islands). Add to that snorkeling, exploring, and getting a good feel for all the things available for vacationers who visit the area and reporting via blogs, pictiorial diaries and media interviews. Salary? $100,000.

Our first trip to Australia we spent time at Dunk Island which is not far from Hamilton. It was a fantastic experience and was what got us involved in snorkeling and eventually in scuba diving. The resort was beautiful, the food delicious, and the hospitality exceptional--as we've always experienced in Australia. The Aussies are great people.

I was salivating after reading about the dream job on CNN. I went to the website--or rather I tried to go to the website. It wouldn't load and I'm guessing it's because everyone else in the world is going there too as the word spreads. Tourism Queensland has certainly created a buzz. Hope it works out for them. It's a great area of the world to visit--or live even if only for six months.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Snowed In

We were the recipients of about twelve inches of snow this weekend. It's a phenomenon that gets old for some of of us who have to live with it every winter--trudge through it, shovel it, and watch it turn gray and dirty before it melts.

For the folks down South though, it's a real treat. And around Christmas time it's a bit nostalgic. Everyone wants a white Christmas even amidst the palm trees. This year just before our holiday cruise, we attended the breakfast with Santa that is an annual event in Homestead, Florida.

Each year, they turn out hundreds of pancakes and sausage for those who come. Then the kids get to see Santa as well as participate in face painting and crafts.

The biggest treat, however, is the big piles of "snow" that the city provides for the kids to play on. Huge blocks of ice are fed through a big chipper and the result is more like a giant sno-cone. Attendants get out and rake it a little here and there to keep it from packing down too much while the kids play on it. The squeals and smiles are well worth the organizers' efforts.

Ah, if only I could ship them some of this!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

White as Snow

"White as Snow" is the theme for a women's retreat coming up in February where I will be the guest speaker. It's a phrase found in the Bible in Isaiah 1:18 and in Psalm 51:7 and refers to how clean God can make us when He cleanses us from sin. If you look out our window about now, it's hard to imagine how clean that could be. Around here the snow is pretty when it first falls, but it doesn't take long for it to get gray-looking and miserable.

Why, I have wondered often in the past, would God use snow for that example?

And then we visited Antarctica.

The snow was the purest white I have ever seen. So white that when the sun shone through it, it actually looked blue. Of course, that was everywhere but where the penguins were. Wherever the colonies of birds made their roost, their mess made a stark contrast with the untouched snow. Not unlike the way our lives can become corrupted and dirtied and unclean.

Coincidently as I was working on what I am going to talk about for the retreat, we spoke with several other passengers on the holiday cruise this past Christmas who had also been to Antarctica. Each time the experience was described as spiritual. Guess God was telling me what kind of example I could use. But should I take all my pictures?

[For any ladies in the area, the retreat is at the Penfield Community Church in Wellington, OH and is February 28]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Flying Fish are Fascinating!

It was on our first cruise that I saw for real what I had only seen and heard about in biology classes: fish that fly!

We were standing on the promenade deck of the ship during our lifeboat drill. It was taking place while we were at sea since the ship had left late at night due to a large group of international travelers being delayed along their way to the port. Normally we would have had the drill before leaving port. As the ship cut through the warm waters off the Florida coast, I saw what looked like silver flashes streak across the top of the waves. I blinked. And looked again. Suddenly a half dozen more were airborne and I realized they were the flying fish I'd heard about in one of my high school biology classes.

Flying fish are actually gliders. They don't have wings but rather large pectoral fins that spread out when they break the surface of the water. It is fascinating to watch them flit across the waves. Reportedly the longest timed flight of one was 42 seconds.

On our way back to Fort Lauderdale on our latest cruise, we saw scores of flying fish through out the day as we steamed home. Unfortunately for the fish, we also were accompanied by a seagull that kept swooping down upon them. Ah, the laws of nature at work.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Books for the Road--Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity

Resting on the seventh day doesn’t fit neatly into our busy lives, but Keri Wyatt Kent provides functional advice to help pause and refresh even the busiest life overrun with demanding jobs, countless kids’ activities and getting dinner on the table. Kent combines her own life experiences as a soccer mom with her study of the ancient practice of resting one day of the week, known as the Sabbath, in her new book Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity (Zondervan, January 2009). She invites readers to rediscover the practice of Sabbath in a practical and accessible format.

Kent bases her study on Jesus’ teachings and actions and explores six aspects of Christian spiritual practice that lead to Sabbath Simplicity: resting, reconnecting, revising, pausing, playing and praying. Practicing these six actions creates space in our lives for rest and renewal.

When asked what is Sabbath, its purpose and what do you mean by Sabbath Simplicity, Kent answered:

"Sabbath, first and foremost, is a gift from our loving God. He invites us to take a day to rest from our labor, so that we might engage in relationship with him and with others. Its purpose is to refresh us physically and spiritually, to celebrate our freedom, to draw us close to God, and yet to remind us that we are not God.
"God commanded us to Sabbath, to stop. But Sabbath-keeping is also a spiritual practice or discipline. All disciplines, (like prayer, solitude, etc.) create some space for God in our lives. Just as we have a lot of latitude in other practices (we can pray any number of ways, for example), we have freedom in how we practice Sabbath. My book offers a lot of ideas, and real-life examples, of how to approach this life-giving practice.

"Sabbath Simplicity is a sanely-paced, God-focused life. It’s a lifestyle that includes the practice of Sabbath-keeping, but goes beyond just taking a day off. In a way, it’s living out what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 6:33: Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Sabbath Simplicity seeks God first."

So if you are looking for a take-along book that will touch your spiritual senses, try Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity.

[Leave a comment for the drawing for a free copy of Kent's book. I'll announce the winner next week.]

For more information about Keri Wyatt Kent go to her website.
Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity can be purchased at Amazon.com or Christianbook.com

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Caribbean New Year's

New Year’s Eve Day can be a noisy one in the Caribbean. December 30 and 31 found us at Aruba and Curacao. In Aruba, we heard lots of fireworks being set off and just before we sailed at 10 p.m., we watched a beautiful fireworks display.

There was no comparison however to the noise of the fireworks in Curacao. At times it was deafening. Our morning was passed somewhat quietly as we took a country drive with a bus full of cruisers to the north end of the island. Along the way we stopped at a former slave’s home, a cave, and a beach to enjoy some of the beauty the island has to offer.

The former slave home was quite interesting—two rooms that housed a couple and their thirteen children. As the story goes, the main room was for the husband and the children and only the mother slept in the small bedroom. The husband was only allowed into the bedroom twice a month which I guess was sufficient enough to produce 13 children. Slavery was quite a business on Curacao at one time and there are more than a dozen plantations as a result of it.

There are numerous beaches on the west side of the island—all very beautiful and well kept. They are run by the government who charges three dollars a head for their use.

The cave area along the shore was interesting for the rugged lava landscape that met the blue of the ocean pounding against it. The island is covered in cactus more than in trees but at the time of our visit, the rainy season, the landscape was quite green.

Willemstad is the port town of Curacao and is divided in two by the harbor. The two parts are connected by a large bridge for vehicular traffic and a floating pontoon bridge for pedestrian traffic that swings open when ships or boats enter the harbor. The town is colorful and delightfully quaint with its gingerbread townhouse look. I’m told the shopping is good but I’m not an expert in that area—no matter what my husband may say.

Back to the noisy celebration: As we walked through the streets of Willemstad, we had to cover our ears. Chains of firecrackers were laid out a block long and lighted in various parts of the city. It would take a good twenty minutes for them to all go off. Meanwhile large clouds of smoke rose and the air smelled of fireworks all day. Larger bottle rockets and, I’m guessing, cherry bombs added to the merrymaking. As the Eurodam pulled out, we saw preparations for what I assume was a spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

Our New Year’s Eve celebration was lively aboard ship that evening. A formal night, we were dressed in tux and gown and sporting the appropriate party hats. In the atrium of the ship hung the ship’s bell and at midnight, amidst balloons and champagne and noise makers and streamers, the bell was rung to welcome in the New Year. Crew and passengers alike celebrated the hope that a new year offers.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...