Thursday, August 28, 2014

Time for a Commercial Break

Before I switch gears from vacation to serious stuff,
I need to tell you something important.
Very, very important.
Especially if you are over...say, about 50 years of age.

I never really thought about Jack getting
even though his mother suffered from the disease.
 If that's surprising, then even more surprising is that
I had never given one single thought to
long term health care insurance.
I'm not altogether sure I'd even heard of it.

So what changed?
As I remember, it was a total God thing.
In 2000 I went to Bible Study Fellowship 
for the first time.
  In our small group we went around the circle
telling just a bit about ourselves.
The lady sitting beside me said that her
(very young) husband had had Alzheimer's Disease
for several years.
It was like a jolt of electricity to me.
I was pretty sure my husband was starting
down that road, but I hadn't told
anyone yet.


My friend had been unable to have her husband
at home for a long time.
One of the things I learned from her
was how financially devastating 
assisted living facilities are.

 It was too late to get
long term health care insurance on Jack.
The fact that he was already taking Aricept
disqualified him.
Of course, my plan did not include the need
for a facility anyway, as detailed HERE.
But I did pursue a policy for me
with John Hancock.

The yearly premium for my policy is less than
two weeks of care for Jack at Silverado.
(Not  a typo--weeks, not months!)
I do acknowledge that Silverado tips the
scales on the expensive side, but
no care facility is inexpensive.
And Jack was there 17 months.

My policy also includes provision for some at home
care like I originally envisioned for Jack.
I actually need to contact my agent and review
its provisions.
There are other benefits in the event the
policy is not needed, I believe.

Maybe many of you have this coverage.
If you don't, I hope knowing about our situation
will encourage you to check out
long term health care insurance.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"Are Your Panties in a Wad?"

I was truly like a wide-eyed kid when I walked
onto the plane to bring me home.
It was a new American Airlines 777 300 ER,
and I've never seen anything like it.
The business class seats were sort of in an "S"
configuration so that you had no one beside you.
Neither could I see the person in front of me.
Super private.
Here is my best (not very good) picture.


The TV flips out toward you at the touch of a button.
The blanket area is where your feet go when
you recline the seat to a sleeping position.

Most impressive was the fact that as I was placing
my bag in the overhead bin, the captain
(or one of the captains)
came down the aisle, greeted me, welcomed me,
and shook my hand!

Here is my best shot of the controls for the seat and TV.

I didn't have a clue.
I did manage to find my headphones, but I could
not find where to plug them in.

Enter SFA #1.  (That's Surly Flight Attendant.)
I felt like a dummy asking such a basic
thing as where to plug the headphones in,
and she certainly seemed to agree that I was.
(a dummy.)
She reached over and jerked open the door to a
 compartment beside me and gestured toward an area, 
 which I had to use a mirror to see!
Let me just say, it was neither basic nor easy.

There was also,,,SFA #2.
They were really like something straight from a 
Carol Burnett routine.
Cold, unsmiling, just going through the absolutely
necessary motions with as much UNenthusiasm
as they possibly could possibly
muster up.

Although I had no idea how to work anything
I wouldn't have dreamed of asking the SFA's for help.
Somehow I did manage to get a game going on my TV,
and a friendly male FA from the other side of the 
plane came over and acted like he was going
to make a play on my screen.
I was able to ask him how to work everything
and even got to watch a movie
on the way home.

At one point I got a water bottle out of my
I twisted the lid until my hand was raw but
couldn't get it open.
I decided to press my FA call button.
Guess what happened?
Good guess.  Absolutely nothing.
Thank goodness I didn't have an emergency.

I probably would not have taken the time to
write and complain about this, even
though it was a huge deal to me that I had burned
approximately 1 jillion AAdvantage miles
to be in 4J!!

However, when we deplaned, I learned something
that made me mad enough to compose a complaint.
The lady on my right here

was my 'idol' on the trip.
Her name is Betty Bob, and we celebrated
her 87th birthday at dinner one night!
She in great health and is sweet as can be.
She wore that cute hat which had souvenir pins
all around it from her travels.

Betty Bob had splurged and was in business
class, too, just a few rows behind me.
She fell victim to Surly Flight Attendant #2.
Poor Betty Bob made the
 tremendous, horrible, unforgivable mistake
of asking SFA #2 to help her get her bag
down from the overhead.
(Don't forget she's 87 years old.)
SFA #2: "Well, how did you get it up there?"
Betty Bob: "A gentleman helped me."
SFA #2: "Well, I suggest you get him to help
you get it down."

Okay.  That did it!  Even if I don't have my bag 
unpacked, I'm writing AA.

I received a fairly sincere sounding letter of apology
from Customer Relations,
although I'm sure the only original thing about
it was my name in the address line.

At least I tried.  I did all I could do, except...

 I just think it would have been so funny if I
had motioned to SFA #1 that I had something
to whisper to her.
She leans down, and I say,
 "Honey, you can tell me...
your panties are in a wad today, aren't they?"
Then she would storm back to SFA #2 and
say, "That woman (probably not what she
would have called me) in 4J just asked me if
my panties are in a wad!"

I'm laughing so that I can hardly type just
thinking about it!
Of course, who knows what kind of misery
they would have dealt me the rest of the flight!


Monday, August 25, 2014

Sorry I've Left You Adrift at Sea!

Blogging about this trip is taking longer than
the cruise itself did!
All aboard for the last two ports!

The Infinity entered the Geiranger Fjord early in
the morning.
Fjord is actually a Norwegian word for
"A long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between steep
slopes, created by glacial erosion."
(And there are some beautiful waterfalls coming
down those slopes!)

It takes several hours of scenic sailing to
reach the end, which is a natural amphitheater.

Entering the fjord...

The Seven Sisters Waterfall

And the Celebrity Infinity in Geiranger Fjord.

Kay and I are on tour in Geiranger.

We thought our guide, Toby, was very cute!
He called it the "Linda tour" on the
bus because there were 4 Linda's on board!

We started back out of the fjord at dinner that night.
Next stop:  Bergen, Norway.
Jack and I had been to Bergen before, so I opted
to do my own thing.
I rode this nice free shuttle from the ship to town.
I was feeling independent and smug!

Isn't this gazebo beautiful?

And I walked to this church.

It started raining!  And I hadn't brought 
either of my two umbrellas.
Hiding under a canopy--not quite sure where I was--
  I became a little less smug.
But I found this:

shuttled back to the ship, shed my jacket,
got my umbrella, and came back
to Bergen.

Saw...the fish market...

(Don't laugh--I walked blocks determined to find this!)

saw this cute tour trolley...

said "Hi" to Edvard Grieg...

(Did anyone else learn "In the hall the mountain king,
mountain king, mountain king by
Grieg a Norwegian" as a kid?
Well, you should have.  I'm holding onto the
knowledge in case I'm ever on 
"Who Wants to be a Millionaire")

had my picture taken by this pretty lake...

and headed back "home."

Look who was visiting the balcony next door!

And look what I could see from my balcony:

The church I walked to earlier in town!

Then...another wonderful day at sea,
on which I made my stage debut... 

And, before you know it, we're back on land again. 
The twelve of us had a double deck bus
all to ourselves!
I rode "upstairs" on the very front--
a unique experience!

Bye, bye Harwich.

Bye, bye English countryside!
I'm comin' home!

What a perfect trip it's been!
Pleasant--problem free!
Nothing could mar it now.
Oh, wait.  I'm on American Airlines.
That opens a whole world of
unpleasant possibilities!

Stay tuned for...
"Are your panties in a wad?"


Monday, August 18, 2014

My Favorite Port

On this trip it was the Celebrity Infinity
with this identifying mark!


I loved the flags!

Those of you who have cruised know a ship is like
a big floating small city.
 Everything one needs is luxuriously provided!
There's food without end, outstanding entertainment, 
a spa, a gym, shopping, classes of all sorts, and
pampering from every direction,
all with fabulous views.

My sea days don't start real early.
I love to sleep in the comfy cocoon of the bedding 
to the gentle rocking of the ship. 
(There was actually little rocking on this ship.
It was as smooth as being on land most days.)

After my room service breakfast,
 I would often get ready and leave the room
just long enough for Andre to clean.
Then I loved taking my tray up to the 
Oceanview Cafe on Deck 10, getting food and
bringing it back to my balcony for lunch.

One day I got five (5) desserts!
 Cookies, ice cream, chocolate bread pudding,
creme brulee (which doesn't look very appealing)
 and a pastry which I dropped!

My favorite?  The ice cream!

On the first sea day, I found something that
looked interesting on the daily schedule.

I have never seen a choir class on a cruise before.

I decided to check it out.
The 5 lead singers on the ship led a large group of 
us through fun voice warmups and then began
 teaching us Seasons of Love.
("525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year.")
I knew this song!  The Show Choir sang it at Martin!
We rehearsed every sea day and actually got to
sing on the big stage the last day of the cruise.

I carefully positioned myself on the front row for
my stage debut.  I just forgot one thing.
Those 5 lead singers were going to rise on a 
platform in front of us and sing the solo parts!
One of them was directly and perfectly standing
between me and my camera, operated by Kay!
So...I have a great video in which you cannot
see me at all!
Here is the best screen shot I can get--
I'm second from the right.
The one with the white hair and long black dress.

 I'm still working on getting the video online
so you can hear how good we were!
I know you will be waiting with bated breath!

I also went to these classes:

Interestingly, I had already learned many of the
things the expert taught from my expert,
Susannah Metzger!
I felt so cool!

 I could feel my Susan's hand on my
arm and hear her, "Be careful, Mom!" every time
I passed this spot.

And look who was on Celebrity TV!!
I know them!!

Our group at dinner:

  The beautiful sunsets came very late...

Two other great ports to come.
One is on my list of the 7 wonders of my world!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Impressive Pins on my Map

I'm really afraid that's mostly what our first 3 stops were!
We went first to the Faroe Islands,
then to Reykjavik, Iceland,
and on to the Shetland Islands.

Our world map before:
and after!
Three new pins!!!

Iceland was actually on my bucket list
(but I don't think you should necessarily put it on yours!)
When we went to Norway in 1999,
we sailed up the coast to the northernmost
point in Europe, the Nordkapp.
(You can see the pin for it on the "before" map!)
Our return was to be by way of Iceland,
our final port.
We had a medical emergency onboard, however,
and had to steam directly back to Harwich.
Didn't even get to wave at Iceland. 


First stop: The Faroe ("Pharoah") Islands
This is the most memorable thing I saw:

It is a church.
No, I don't know what kind of church it is. 
Except pretty.  It is a pretty church.

I almost forgot.  I also saw this:
They reminded me of Charleigh-Girl.
(Without her trips to the spa.)
However, unless you're convicted that you 
really want to see this church and
these doggies, just say "no" to Faroe!


Next: Reykjavik--a slightly different story--
because of this:

Now I got all excited and tried to find the movie
The Blue Lagoon for a preview!
Not only could I not find it, it was not filmed here as
I assumed, but in Fiji.

The Blue Lagoon is a unique geothermal spa in a
bed of lava.
It is a beautiful blue color, mineral rich, 
 and very warm--98 to 102 degrees F.
There was steam rising and it sprinkled rain,
actually quite a pleasant combination!
For everything except my hair-do! 

One does not "swim" in the Blue Lagoon.
One "bathes!"
Since I was the only one out of our group who
chose to "bathe," I have no pictures (good!)
As with the Dead Sea mud, there were minerals to
rub on your face and body.
I was really disappointed in the lack of
noticeable improvement!
But I did find this experience to be unforgettable!


Guess what I saw here!
No Shetland sheep dogs, but
Shetland ponies!

"Honey, your mane needs a dip in the Blue Lagoon!"

Of course, this animal lover was crazy
about these cute ponies!
This was actually the very first excursion I booked!
And now I can say I've been to Scotland!
Sort of.


Counting days at sea, this gets us up to Day 8,
believe it or not!
Many of you have asked me, "What was your
favorite port?" about this and other cruises.
I usually answer, "The ship!" 
This cruise was certainly no exception.

Tomorrow I'll tell you about some of the happenings
onboard the Celebrity Infinity!

"I travel a lot;
I hate having my life disrupted by routine."

                                            Caskie Stinnett