Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Seattle Post-Trip Report

First, let me just say that the seats on the 757s of United are much more cramped than the 737s of Southwest. I could not even open my computer on my lap once the person in front of me laid his head in my lap. I much prefer Southwest even if finding a seat is like a cattle call.

Our arrival in Seattle was greeted by the greatest traffic jam of all time. Apparently there had been a major fatality accident south of us that shut down all lanes of southbound traffic (along the route from the airport to Gig Harbor, our first destination). Traffic delays were roughly 3 hours and there was no realistic alternate route to Gig Harbor (short of turning around and heading north and waiting in line for a ferry...another 3-4 hour alternative). We did eventually get to the boat sales office before it closed and saw the boat that we flew all this way to see (the owner had just dropped the price significantly...we were interested in the boat at the higher price, so the drop necessitated quick action on our part, before others became more interested). We took the traffic jam to be our first sign that this boat was not meant to be ours. The boat itself was marginal...it had many nice attributes but the layout was cramped and it needed a lot of work.

Ultimately, we rescinded our offer on that boat and made an offer on another that was very different from the first. I think we finally tired of looking at what I like to call "classic" boats...boats that are beautiful on the outside but not always so nice on the inside, requiring lots of maintenance and upkeep. I like to call them the '57 Chevys of the boat world. While dropping off an application for the waiting list at a marina in Seattle where we hope to moor any boat we end up with, I stopped in a broker's office to inquire about a boat he had posted in his window. While that boat wasn't at his dock, he did offer to show me another that was that he "thought I might like." My husband was down at the market while I ran this little errand, but I went ahead and took a peek at the boat. While on the boat, my husband called to ask where I was..."um, I'm standing on a beautiful boat, wishing you were here." To which he responded, "come get me, I want to see it too!" So off I went to pick him up, telling the broker to keep the boat open for us to look at together. Although the boat was more modern than others we had been looking at, it had all the features we desire...a large cockpit (for enjoying picnics on the water with friends and family), an open layout, nice galley, lots of storage, simple rigging for easier sailing (preferably something that either one of us could handle on our own if we had to), and an overall comfortable feeling. I know we would enjoy living on and sailing this boat. We had never been on a Catalina boat before, so we went to our hotel that evening and did some research and found nothing but good owner reviews and other good reports on this American built boat (most of the boats we've looked at were built in Taiwan). We went back the next day and made an offer. The owner has already made a counter offer that is very generous. I pray that we make the right decision on this.

Boats aside, we had a great trip to Seattle. I absolutely love this area. In addition to the water and beautiful sailing opportunities, my favorite part of Seattle is this (I must have drooled over the beautiful and very cheap(!) flower "bokays" for hours, while nibbling on several pounds of cherries, blueberries, raspberries and figs):

(Pike Place Market - Home of the Flying Fish and Rachel, the pig)
(One of many flower "bokay" vendors - $4.60 gets you a huge bokay)
(Live Music in front of the world's first Starbucks - Three Dog Mafia)

Here are some virtual gifts for my friends, from my favorite store in the country, located in the eclectic Seattle neighborhood of Ballard (Archie McPhee's):

For Adam, at Isoglossia, a new Zombie rubber ducky for playing in the public fountain; and for Jen, the Patron Saint of Television for more quality TV!

Our timing on the return trip from Seattle could not have been more perfect. Monday at 3:00 pm PST, Air Force One landed at Sea-Tac airport. And Monday at 3:00 pm, we arrived at Sea-Tac for our economy class departure. Which meant lots of traffic (again) and delays getting out of town. It's hard to imagine living a President's life in which entire freeways have to be cleared and shut down everywhere you go. Sadly, we understand that a police officer lost his life in a motorcade accident. We only had one scare inside the airport...while clearing security, stripped of half of our clothes (or at least our shoes and jackets), we heard a loud explosion. It took a few seconds to register what was happening. We finally realized that something (a bullet?!) had caused the inch and a half thick (bullet proof?) glass wall that shielded security officers from the public to shatter and crumble to the ground. Startled airport security officers took quick action and...got out a broom to sweep up the mess. I know! What if it was a sniper? Doesn't this warrant a little bit of hysteria or something? Maybe a lock down of the area and a call for backups? I mean, the President is somewhere in the building, you know. But no. We were told to get our shoes back on (to protect our feet from the broken glass) and keep moving. My beloved husband claimed he felt "the bullet" swoosh past his ear right before the glass exploded. What a joker, that one. We still don't know what really happened.

And that, in a nutshell, was our weekend. I wish there were a lot more like that one.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sleepless in Seattle

No, not this Sleepless in Seattle. We are just sleepless in Seattle, having arrived yesterday to view a boat that we were convinced was "our" boat (same layout as the boat we liked in San Diego but almost 1/2 the price after the owner recently decided to slash the price, and it's already located in Gig Harbor, a small quaint village on the southern end of the Puget Sound which is where we would like to anchor our eventual boat). Now, we're not so sure it's our boat.

I was all prepared to write up my list of travel essentials for a weekend trip since that seems to be my lot lately and I was beginning to fancy myself an expert of sorts (and also point out some differences between the packing techniques of men and women which are not what you might expect) when I realized that 1) I did not pack a comb or a brush (nor did my husband), and 2) I did not pack an umbrella or a raincoat for a trip to Seattle (hey, the forecast said sunny and/or partly cloudy all weekend).

So we're going out looking like shaggy sheepdogs and likely to get soakin' wet but determined to enjoy the rest of our trip today and tomorrow in the Seattle area, scouting out the regions' farmers markets and maybe looking at another boat or two. I'll keep you posted.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Filling the Void

This blog has paused for a station break and will return sometime, as soon as a thought or moment of inspiration strikes. Don't hold your breath.

You Have Your Sarcastic Moments

While you're not sarcastic at all times, you definitely have a cynical edge.

In your opinion, not all people are annoying. Some are dead!

And although you do have your genuine moments, you can't help getting your zingers in.

Some people might be a little hurt by your sarcasm, but it's more likely they think you're hilarious.

How Sarcastic Are You?
Thanks to Emma for this little bit of inspiration. She gets extra bonus points for being hilarious and sarcastic.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Marcia!

Okay, so it's passed now. And I've been slow at getting around to posting anything about it, but this was the scene at last weekend's surprise birthday party for my step-mother. A good time was had by all. Only this time, it was our youngest daughter, the extrovert, who retreated to an upstairs bedroom for a brief respite.


Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm Just Here for the Dogs

When I first started up this blog, I made mention of earlier life-saving episodes wherein others un-selfishly stuck their necks out for me, so I think it is only fair that I be called upon once in awhile to give back. Yesterday was one of those days. After taking care of a few "housekeeping" chores (sitting in the overly air conditioned Panera with my husband where we started out with breakfast and finished up with lunch, using the "free" wifi to check out sailboat slips in the Pacific Northwest), we decided a short trip to the lake (10 minutes from our house) would be a fun way to spend the rest of the afternoon. It's not what I would call a "beautiful" lake, but it's fun for those with boats, jet-skis, and other flotsam to keep one entertained or at least afloat in the cool water. We each took a chair, a towel and some reading material for a little warmth and relaxation (better than doing yard work in the 95 degree heat anyway).

So there we sat, minding our own business, randomly watching various groups of kids playing in the "surf" (small kids, small kids in diapers and underwear, kids that should probably not be swimming in murky, muddy bottom lakes without life jackets on, especially when mom and dad appear to be preoccupied with setting ablaze the world's largest pile of charcoal while squirting it with lighter fluid...an act that in itself qualifies one for a Darwin Award...and let me just say that when you are sitting downwind from this particular ozone violation, the fumes are noxious...wood, people, wood...and kindling...cut it out with the lighter fluid already!). So there we sat, me reading a book on grit, gore and God, my husband reading about our next sailing destination, and each with one eye on the kids who needed watching.

And then it happened. The soccer ball rolled into the water and running right behind was the little dog that could, a little mix of what looked like dachsund and rat terrier...the kind of dog that is so ugly, it's cute. Squeaks of glee came from the little kids as they pointed at the doggie going after the ball. And Dad, up on the hill tending to his blaze, shouted to the only teenager in the group to grab the dog (I assume this is what he said...it was in Spanish and he seemed to get her attention for a minute but then she responded with something I could not understand and went back to playing with her hair). I watched for a minute or two as it seemed the dog was beginning to figure out that he needed to circle the ball if he wanted to get it back to shore, and I thought everything would be okay. But the waves kept pushing the ball further from shore. And of course, the dog was on it. He was not going to let the ball go! So I stood up and told my husband that if they weren't going to do something, I was going in. I called to the girl, asking her how far she planned to let the dog swim out into the lake. She responded that it was too deep for her to swim after him. I looked again at Dad, fully clothed, still up on the hill, ignoring the situation and decided to jump in. By this time, the dog was a good distance offshore and I worried he would get tired and cramp up, or look back at the shore and panic. So the long story short is I jumped in and swam what felt like a long distance across the lake, grabbed the dog and began swimming back to shore with one arm, the other arm holding a squiggling slippery dog (at least he didn't try to wrap all four legs around me, causing the rescue operation to turn into a bigger fiasco). For awhile, I tried keeping the ball in front of him, like a strange game of water polo, but I quickly ran out of energy for that and let the ball go...off to the lily pads at the far end of the lake. For those of you who wish to try this at home, just know that it's harder than it looks. ;-)

Oh, and by the time I got back to shore, Dad was in the water, still fully clothed and reaching out for his little dog, saying "gracias, Senorita." So I guess he did care afterall. Sheesh.

At least this time I was wearing a swimsuit. The last time I had to rescue a dog (my mom's dog tried walking across a creek that began swiftly carrying her out to sea), I was wearing overalls. Thems are hard for swimmin. Just sayin. ;-)

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Moses and the Jehovah's Witnesses

Okay, I'm back. The Nails are gone now. Well, not entirely. I still have Nails. But they are much, much shorter and slightly rounded (as opposed to the more trendy "square"), for a more natural look (and feel!). So I'm no longer disabled and can finally type again. Oh, and Jen? This time I got the gel and I do like them!

Anyway, I've been having some very vivid and sometimes disturbing dreams lately, the most recent one has been made into a movie if I'm not mistaken...it's called The Wedding Crashers. Only in my dream, it took on a little darker twist. So, I was at this very large party (because you know I love parties) and a rather morose looking man with a bruised black eye and slightly rumpled suit shows up at the door nearest where I am standing and rings the bell. The party is in full uproar mode (tells you why I'm standing near the door in the first place) and someone opens the door to let him in but doesn't ask him his name or anything. I was immediately suspicious (the guy was wearing a gun in a shoulder holster under his suit jacket...did I leave out a critical plot detail?) so I took it upon myself to ask him who he was here to see. He said he was looking for Moses. Afraid that if I just left him alone to infiltrate the group, we'd all be dead by morning, I led him through the group in search of Moses. But rather than beginning the search in the room I was in, I told him to come with me and maybe we would find Moses in the next room. When I opened the door to the next room and called out, "Has anyone in here seen Moses?" hundreds of U.S. Marshals (holding a convention?), armed and in uniform, stood up and drew their weapons to greet our new visitor...who immediately sat down and put his hands in the air. Heh, I think I've watched one too many episodes of Dog, the Bounty Hunter or something.

That dream though, was not as disturbing as the one in which my husband had to shoot one of our dogs in the head to put him out of his "misery" (the source of misery didn't present itself in my dream). That image continues to haunt me a week later and I hug poor Cocoa every chance I get. Sheesh, our brains can play weird games with us.

Or it could be the pituitary gland working overtime. I've been on a forced thyroid meltdown, thanks to my doctor who wouldn't refill my prescription without coming in for bloodwork (even though I had bloodwork done just a few months ago and normally, this is a once a year thing because I've been on the same dosage of levothyroxin since I was 20 years old!) I couldn't get into the lab until this week because of work committments during lab hours (oh, and you have to have an appointment even just for lab work). So I went without for about 10 days and now the doctor sounds surprised that my thyroid numbers "are terrible." No kidding? Did I not ask for a refill two weeks ago, just enough to give me time to get into the lab for tests? Sheesh, is this a requirement of all doctors now, to treat all patients like 5-year-olds? Like I'm not interested in my own health and won't come in unless you withhold my medicine? And the thing with a weak (but not non-existent) thyroid is that the pituitary will work overtime to keep the thyroid going so that symptoms don't quickly present themselves, which is why I went without rather than changing my work committments to get into the lab. I didn't feel bad, but I did start feeling more run down, tired and moody in the last few days. I finally got in on Monday and yesterday was finally able to pick up my prescription (the dosage has been increased now since my numbers were so bad, which means I'll be slightly hyperthyroid for a few weeks until I go back for re-testing in 8 weeks and she discovers that now my thyroid is being overreplaced...oh, bother) and as soon as I took the first pill (well, several hours and a couple Tylenol later) my headache was gone and my energy level increased, but the weird vivid dreams apparently continued, at least for one more night.

Oh, and Sunday night's festivities (per the last post) did not turn out to be quite as exhausting as I had anticipated. I did enjoy dinner with our new friends, the Ex-Jehovah's Witnesses. This is a second marriage for both of them and they both have children, his are grown now (living in England) but hers are not (9 and 13). They brought her children to dinner with them and they were the most charming and well mannered kids I've been around in a long time which was sweet. I asked about their father (still a Jehovah's Witness) and their upbringing (still Jehovah's Witnesses) and could not help but wonder how they will be affected by all this. Because of the JW's "shunning doctrine," she no longer has ties with most of her family. So now the kids will ultimately be (if they haven't already been) put in a position of having to consider shunning their mother or being shunned by their father. Not good. Very sad, actually. I've never known much about the JWs except that they go to "meetings," not church, don't celebrate holidays, and they knock on our door periodically to hand out the Watchtower. But to hear this couple talk, it is more like a cult that uses heavy handed influences like the "shunning doctrine" to keep people in the group. Does anyone else know any more than this? Are they really just extremely devout Christians, or does their theology take on a life of its own, apart from the Bible?

Regardless of which particular religious affiliation these kids and their family have, I pray for their sanity in all this. If there is one thing I have learned in raising kids from a "broken" family and being raised in one myself, it is that kids need both of their parents and parents need to 1) do a better job of picking who it is they will have kids with, and 2) do everything in your power to stay together until the kids are raised (assuming that you're not doing more harm than good by staying together). It's hard enough raising kids together in this world, but when the parents are at odds, the kids are the ones who truly suffer. /soapbox

And now, I'm off to work, fully medicated and ready to go. ;-)

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