Thursday, September 20, 2007

I was going to post a couple of pics from the Bluegrass Festival tonight, but I always first check for "comments" before I blog. I don't get many, so eagerly checked to see what comment someone had left me. Well, here it is...It's from Kely.

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They really roped me in. A Pox on you, Kely. Yup, just keeping checking your website. My check is in the mail...right along with the one to the guy that promises that my penis can be bigger. Of all the things I don't wish for my body, that's probably right at the top of the list.


Monday, September 17, 2007

I'm in the Dusseldorf airport waiting for the flight home from the annual StempelMekka show in Hagen, Germany, It's 3am, and I have about four hours to entertain myself till the flight to Heathrow.I'm hoping to get a T-Mobile connection to upload when I get there. Alas, no photos to document the weekend :-( My camera SD card decided to be a non-participant this trip, and my download cable has gone to that Black Hole in the Sky to join the endless parade of wayward car keys and glasses that are the bane of my existence. I borrowed a camera to take a pic of some of my dearest German friends, and will upload it when it is emailed. The evening has been an adventure that I'm quite proud of. I successfully purchased tickets at the automat machines, made two train and one bus transfer to get here, and took part in several German conversations in which I truly believe I did not have that Deer in the Headlights look when people start speaking German to me. One was a begger boy on some nasty pharmaceutical (he got my handful of German Euros), a drunk needing a match, and a lovely older couple on their way to Sweden. Hurray! You noticed that I'm at the right airport before my flight leaves? -- two very important factors in my well-being that contribute mightily to the current low level of bitching and whining. I'll go on about the show later, but first I want to tell what a wonderful evening I was lucky to experience with Judikins Judy and Rob, Judy's folks, Chuck and Ieky (I'm VERY sorry about the spelling), Steven and Carol (LINK) the Mekka host, Wolfgang and his girlfriend, Barbara, and two more people that I hold near and dear, Marion and mein schatzschen, Lu :-). Marion always brings me a huge bag of of sinful Lindt chocolates, and Lu makes me feel like the most special person in the world. We just went out to dinner, but most of the time we all scatter after a show, so the chance to spend a relaxed and happy evening with good friends is a rare treat. It's a memory that I'll hold close for a long time. Of course, there were a few comical moments, so now it's time for Linda's Stupid Trick. I had to take a train from Hagen to Dusseldorf, and as the plane didn't leave until 7am, I was in no big hurry to get on the road. Fortunately around 11pm, several of us decided that a bit of wine (and chocolate) would be nice -- after all, we hadn't eaten for at least two hours. I had a couple of bottles in my suitcase (generously gifted by Heidi (more about Heidi, Doris and Friedl later) and wanted to share one...but the suitcase was in the trunk of Marion's car, so she left me have her car keys. I know that several of you have a general of idea of where this is going, but no, I didn't lose the keys. This is a NEW Trick. I couldn't get the truck open with the key, so I tried to pull the trunk release lever located under the dash...but her car doesn't have a trunk release lever, and I pulled the cover off the fuse box. I had to climb in and under the dash to get it installed again, and it took quite a long time to get it back on...mostly because I'd pulled it out in the dark and kept trying to shove the poor thing back in upside down. Anyway, Marion came out and opened the trunk, and was quite surprised to learn 1. she had a fuse box, and 2. where it was, so I guess this was a valuable experience for us both. She still gave me a ride to the train station.
So now I'm on my way home. I'm eager to have clean clothes and sleep in my own bed, but this weekend has passed much too quickly. It really is a long and hard ride to get to Mekka --Anxiety over flights, hauling suitcases from train to train, dealing with a foreign language, driving in a strange land with unintelligible signage, the list could continue... but every time I leave here I am counting the time until I can return. I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity have experiences and share moments with such wonderful people, and they will be often in my thoughts until we can meet again. Oh dear, I'm getting weepy right here in the departure lounge. I miss you all so very much already :-(
I do want to talk specifically about Heidi, Doris and Friedl, but I think I'll save that part until I have the pic.
Bis bald.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I'm sitting in the O'Hare Admiralty Club waiting for my next connection on the way to StempelMekka in Germany. I always feel so special in here. There's a woman curled up in a chair near me, and she's kicked off her shoes and one sock has a BIG hole in it. This made me feel really good, which probably doesn't say much for my moral fibre, but this has been an unfortunately typical travel day for me...up at dark-thirty, grabbed everthing lined up at the door and was almost on my way, but was halted at the last moment by a ralphing Cosmos. Cleaned up the mess, swore a bit at the dog (who just stood there wagging his tail; HIS issue was over) of course I forgot my itinerary. Therefore, couldn't check my luggage all the way, and had to claim and re-check it in Seattle. Then there was some sort of security whoopsie at the airport and everyone had been evacuated from the "sterile area", so we all had to go through Security again. Just barely made the flight. Then I tried to board the wrong plane in Seattle. Yup, this is about "normal" for me. I'm amazed that I can dress myself. I'm convinced that some day I'll be found wandering some city's street lacking some vital garment.
I didn't find tie to post my pics of the Bluegrass festival, so they'll have to wait until I get home next week. it was a grand time. I took a mandolin and banjo workshops. The banjo and I are getting along fine, but this may be a love/hate sorta relationship with the mandolin. Creighton spent his days polishing the chrome on the Scotty and listening to the bands. I hadn't even noticed that the Scotty needed polishing, but it kept him occupied. He wasn't much of a Bluegrass fan previously, and I think we may have now lost him entirely. I think the Gospel Bluegrass pushed him right over the edge. "I'm using my Bible as a roadmap; Heaven is my last stop".
See ya here next week!


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Home again, home again. Pets are alive and the house isn't burned down, so it's about as good as we dare hoped.
The storm was fun, but not as dramatic as we'd hoped. Took a few pics, but they just looked like a grey day, and didn't capture the wind/wave/rain sounds. It pretty much passed through by mid-morning, just leaving the pool a mess and the ocean bottom too stirred up for good snorkeling.
So it's time again for...Ta-Da...Pet Photos Day!!

"I am the alien canine Cosmos the Omnipotent sending a Vulcan mind-meld to the puny humans. I want left-overs. Lots of left-overs. No more of that nasty dried kibble...and also, round-the-clock petting, scratching and walkies. Pay no attention to the inferior rat dog below."

"Yeah, right, Goof Boy".
We're taking the Scotty camper on it's maiden voyage tomorrow afternoon. Just 30 miles north of Spokane to a Bluegrass Festival, but it's our first chance to explore the area since we moved here in March. I'm taking a couple of banjo and mandolin workshops. Hope to post some pics here when we get back.


Sunday, September 2, 2007

This is going to be a long post, comprising most of the last week. It has a lot of pics, and I can't get the text to match up with the pics :-( And the web page is all in Dutch, so I'm a bit limited on using the web tools. We cashed in all my American frequent flyer miles and are down in Curacao. We planned a whole week of a whole lotta nuthin'. Brought guitar, crocheting, snorkel gear and a couple of trashy novels. We're staying at one of those "all inclusive" places, so you can just stumble downstairs anytime and there will be some sort of food available. Maybe not what's top on the list of cravings, but considering my aversion to cooking, I'm happy with whatever I find....AND, they clean up after us, too. What a bonus! Not many Americans down here. Mostly South Americans and Hollanders. Duh! We're 35 miles off the coast of Venezuela, and Curacao IS part of the Netherlands Antilles. Of course, everyone speaks Dutch, Spanish, the local dialect and English, leaving us, per usual, as the Anglophiles with only one language.
OK, it's a couple of parrots. Can't add much to that.

The town looks a lot like Amsterdam with humidity.

All the buildings are old stucco colonial construction that has been maintained/restored. The historical story is that a governor said the color white hurt his eyes, so all the buildings are brilliant colors of the rainbow. No mamby-pamby pastels for these folks.
Here's a shot of an alley with a way kewl 3-D relief. I guess it's cement. It doesn't appear to be molded, and I don't know how they shaped everything in situ, but it sure is pretty.

There's a water channel to the harbor that divides the town in half. They built a 600' pontoon bridge that spans the channel, and it swings open when ships pass through. It's about half way open here.

So each time a ship shows up, a long whistle blows to let everyone know that the bridge is going to open -- because they'll be stranded on one side or the other. But it's really a signal for the crowd to run like hell and either get on the bridge, or off it, before the gap gets too wide. One guy just came barreling along behind his family, pushing a baby stroller. As he got to the gap, he grabbed up the stroller and leapt to the other side. What a HOOT! This should be an Olympic event.
The hotel is right on the beach. Here's a view from our balcony.
We haven't told them yet that we have NO intention of leaving. Curacao is a mighty fine place, and I'm sure I could get used to living like this LOL
The hotel is right smack-dab in the middle of of a marine reserve, so we just wander outside and fall in the water to snorkel. Creighton has an Olympus waterproof digital camera, so we're having oodles of fun documenting the fish. Look out Jacque Cousteau. We just fill up the memory, run inside to download, and head out again (It would be nice to store to a memory card, but the bastards at Olympus designed the camera to use an expensive proprietary memory stick instead of a standard SD card). Paula and Teresa, I had to take the bracelets off. There are a BAZILLION little barracuda here that seem to find the bright and shinies facinating. They're probably harmless, but they really freak me out....and I've seen a few of their bigger relatives hanging around, so the jewelry had to go. Here are some pics of the less intemidating fish

...and one purple squid.

And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water.....

It's Karoke night, so we're holded up in the room. We gave it a try, but it was too painful, in any language. Sour notes still leak into the room, so I have the telly tuned to a Spanish weather channel while I write to you, dear readers. There are warnings for tropical storm Felix passing near here sometime tonight or tomorrow morning. The weather station shows video from Aruba, but since I don't know if Aruba is just over the horizon, or up in the northern Carribean, it doesn't do us much good. From the video, it looks like it just got very wet there. C and I are quite excited, as this will be our first tropical storm.
I'm hoping to find an Internet location tomorrow so I can upload it won't be like the postcards that arrive a week after we return home.
...later in the night....Karoke is still going strong, and they're coming around to tape "X's" on our sliding glass door. Storm is due to hit here at 5am. This is SO exciting :-)) ...
Later still. The Karoke has degraded to a group participation discord, and the bar is about shut down. The employees are busy bees gathering up all chairs, tables, beach loungers, etc, and everything else that isn't tied down, and hauling all into the bowels of the hotel. Guitar is back in its case, and stashed in the closet. The laptops and everything electronic are in a dresser drawer, so I guess we're as ready as we're going to be. I wanted to set the alarm for 4am so we'd get up for the beginning, but C says we'll probably hear it coming!!