Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm not as think as you mean I am

When we returned from our wonderful trip Back East, everything was great around the old homestead except for one bit of sad news: VCCGirl’s beloved old clunker of a car had expired beyond any possible resurrection. She was very sad, and very frustrated because she had spent all the savings of her gap year work on it. She did have it checked by a trusted mechanic before she bought it, but had been warned there are no guarantees on a car of that age and mileage. And sure enough, a mere eight months later the thing is no more than a collection of parts. One of those Life Lessons.

And now, as a college student, she is only able to work part-time and thus not able to save much. So talks with The Parents ensued. There was no begging. We don’t do begging around here because it too often seems to come in a whiny voice, so we trained our children from a very early age that negotiation would take them a lot farther than begging. (Although I must say that occasionally I require just a little begging for its entertainment value.) So Ms. VCCGirl commenced some hard negotiating. Here are a few of the dozen or so points she included in her presentation:

(a) I often have work shifts immediately after school and would not be able to get there on time if I had to take the bus. I would have to change the shifts, which would inconvenience everyone at my workplace and make me less money.

(b) My school assignments often require me to visit various sites such as hotels and restaurants that might be difficult to get to in a timely fashion without a car.

(c) I often work until 10:00 at night, and the nearest bus stop is a ten-minute walk from my workplace through a very poorly-lit and crackhead-filled industrial area.

Now, of these, (b) was not a selling feature, (a) had marginal value, but (c) made her case for her, because it is, in fact, true. I’m not so sure about how many crackheads might actually be roaming the area, but even one would be too many!

Now, RH and I have always felt extremely strongly that children should be required to be pretty much financially self-sufficient once out of high school. We figure that after throwing vast quantities of our hard-earned money their way for 18 years, it’s then time for us to get to keep our money and them to realize that the only way they’re going to get anything is through the sweat of their very own brows. We especially had always told our kids that although most of their friends might be given cars by their parents (and that is, sadly, true), we would not be doing that. A car is not a right but a privilege you earn for yourself, blah blah blah. You poor kids got stuck with the hardass, ghetto, “welfare” parents.

However. We have been negotiated into agreeing to lend VCCGirl the money for a new car. We agreed for reasons of safety, and because she has established credibility as a hard worker. We know she will pay us back without fail. To me, it strikes a balance between the tough love of wanting to teach them to fend for themselves, and the natural desire of parents with money wanting to share the wealth with kids just starting out in life, when they really need it.

It’s a very interesting thing, discussing this subject with fellow parents of young adult children. Opinions on this amongst our friends are all over the map. At one end of the spectrum, we have more than one set of friends who believe that as long as their kids are in university, they will pay all their expenses. They don’t mind them working a bit to make some money of their own, but give them generous allowances so that their primary focus can be on their studies. Some also buy their kids cars (outright, not a loan) and insure them for them. I may not agree with all this, but I don’t argue its legitimacy as a parenting choice. It’s certainly a very common one.

At the other end are friends who have not given their children a dime since high school graduation. Their kids pay all their own university tuition, and even pay their own way if they wish to go on vacation with their parents. I don’t agree 100 per cent with this, either, although it’s the way I was raised. While I was in university, I lived at home for free and had very occasional use of the family car, but other than that, I was entirely on my own financially. I expected no different, in fact preferred the independence, and it didn’t do me any harm, by gum, ya whippersnappers!

Well, as parents ourselves, RH and I come in somewhere down the middle of this continuum. Our kids have RESPs to cover their education, so they don’t have to pay for that. In fact, we agree to cover anything that might come under the heading of required for school. (VCCGirl tried unsuccessfully to debate her car into that category.) This includes things like laptop computers and a transportation allowance equivalent to the cost of a monthly bus pass. (If VCCGirl chooses to drive and pay for parking downtown, the difference comes out of her pocket.)

We do agree with the tougher end of the spectrum that adult children pay their own ways for vacations, whether on their own or if they want to accompany us. But that’s not to say that we won’t, from time to time, invite them to join us on a trip at our expense, because we can afford to do so and it is our pleasure to treat them.

For everything else in their lives, they’re on their own. They’ve had no allowance since high school, and in fact The Lad pays us to live here because he is working full-time.

As I said, I find it a difficult balancing act. They can’t be handed everything on a platter; they must learn to make their own way, but we also want to help them as they start out in life. They’ll never (God willing) need financial help more than they do now, in these first few years of their adult lives, so it does seem silly to withhold it entirely just on principle.

And so we have contributed some studio gear for The Lad, and will offer a little assistance when he goes to buy into a condo this coming summer. And we will help VCCGirl buy a much newer and more reliable car than poor old Big Bertha and ask only that she pay us back as and when she is able. We’ll probably even knock bits off the debt for every birthday and Christmas and good grades and cute haircut…because we’re simply not as hardass as we have tried to convince our children (and ourselves!) that we are.

Post scriptum: I had a thought, a memory of my own first car, my gutless wee Chevette. I bought it as a single young woman and finally sold it as a married mother with two kids. It made my heart seize up a little to think that if VCCGirl buys a fairly new vehicle this time, she could be strapping my little grandchild into a carseat in it down the road a few years!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Jog

And now I am back from my trip and it was long enough that I was quite ready to gather the cozy quilt of my home life around me again. We often complain about all the endless chores involved with being home, but the little puttering things are really a joy. Opening the door to let the cat in and out as it demands. Putting on a pot of tea. Folding a load of warm laundry. Watering the plants. Making a batch of oatmeal cookies.

VCCGirl admitted that although she is All Grown Up and there is much to like about having the house to herself (her brother being seldom here anymore), she discovered how many things there are to miss about a mom even at her age. It is my pleasure to throw together a sandwich for her when she is running late, to tell her where her keys are, to move her laundry into the dryer, to prepare the dinners that mean home to her. I’m sometimes good at coming up with mnemonic tricks to help her study and we both missed that as she went through her first college midterms.

My real specialty with VCCGirl, though, is hauling her down off the ceiling with calm words and humour when she’s freaking out (although she tells me that sometimes I have a Tone to my voice that makes her crazier than ever. I am aware of The Tone. Sometimes I activate it on purpose. I mean, we have to have some fun now and then, don’t we?) The Lad asserts his sister is manic-depressive, and seems dubious when I tell him her symptoms are merely that of being female, which is not, at least most of the time, a mental illness. (Depends on how you classify PMS!) He says, “Yeah, but some days she’s all friendly with me and other days she seems to hate me!” Hello? You grew up with a mother and sister and have had several girlfriends, and you think that’s something unusual in a woman?? Better catch on to that one, son.

So anyway. Grammar is home, puttering around and being mom, and it’s a good thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday morning, Really Early

Good morning! It is 4:45 a.m. as I sit here in the internet cafe. There is one other insomniac in here with me. It is very quiet.

I think I am probably insomniac because I know it is my last day aboard the Grand Princess and I feel a need to maximize my conscious hours. Sigh. Besides, just before I woke up, I was dreaming about the Brady Bunch. Who wants to go back to sleep into that?? I was probably dreaming about the Brady Bunch because that was one of the themes played at our TV Theme Trivia competition yesterday afternoon. (Yes, of course we won it. Not sure we're so proud of that one, though.) Do you know how hard it is to get the Brady Bunch song out of your head once it's in there?

I don't know why I love cruising so exponentially more than any other kind of vacation I've taken. There is absolutely nothing I don't like about it. I love getting to know the cruise directors, those fun, upbeat people. I love my room steward, Jaime, who greets me by name every time he sees me in the halls (practically tugging his forelock as he does so. Yes, I love that.) and I love how the towels in my bathroom are always arranged in cute shapes. I love trivia games. I love finding live music to listen to almost anytime I want. I love that there is fabulous food available to me whenever I want, and that I had absolutely nothing to do with the preparation of it. I love being entertained when I want, and when I don't, I love reading in a quiet nook by a window, watching the water go by. I love that when I want any of these things, I do not have to get in my car and drive anywhere. It's all right here.

Of course I do miss my family and friends back home. But the same way some retired people are called Snowbirds because they live six months of the year at home and the rest in some sunny place, I would love to be a Cruisebird. It is a wonderful dream, unfortunately not backed up by sufficient wherewithal or an equally enthusiastic spouse. RH enjoys cruising, but he does not share my obsession with it.

And so, after a few days in Mt. Tremblant, I will be home on Sunday, back in realityland. But for now, I'm going to go get a cup of tea and curl up with my book and wait for the rest of my crew to get up so we can go explore Quebec City. Don't know what the weather is like out there because it's still too dark to see! But I think the forecast was reasonably good. Bye for now!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, 2 p.m.

I've had a complaint about the brevity of my recent posts. That is certainly partly because I seem to be so busy, rushing from one activity to the next, but mostly it's because lately I've been having posting problems and am typing the same thing two or three times trying to get the information to go out there, and I'm afraid I get a little fed up. So the version you finally see is the Reader's Digest, Mach III version.

So today we are At Sea, or more accurately at the moment, At Gulf (of St. Lawrence). Although it is gloriously sunny, everyone is inside because with the windchill factor, it is perhaps 5 degrees out on deck. Despite this, the four of us have just played a game of shuffleboard, just to get some fresh air. But we were fairly hypothermic by the time we came in!

This morning we attended a culinary demonstration and enjoyed the dry banter between the head chef and maitre d', both of whom have worked on Princess ships for about 30 years, often together. After that, it was what has become our favourite activity: trivia! Being an at sea day, the place was packed. They made it a longer than usual game, and in the end it came down to a three-way tie between us and two other teams. The tie-breaker question brought us down to two teams. And the final question? Of COURSE we won! I know I'm harping on this a great deal and you all must be horribly bored, but we're just so tickled with this. My big contribution to today's game was that I knew a polar bear's skin is black. TL didn't want to buy that but I stood firm. (Easy to do since I was the one writing down the answers.)

Now, if I write what we're planning to do the rest of today, I won't need to update this blog unless something different happens.

There are two more trivias today: a Master's, coming up shortly, and a TV Themes one later this afternoon. Not too sure how we'll do on that one! In between, I hope to actually have a little time to read and do some crossword puzzles. Our last formal dinner tonight, so some primping time will be required. I also need to iron my dress pants, so there you go. I will actually be ironing while on vacation. Now, I COULD ask the room steward to do it, but I won't. I will iron my own darn pants.

Last production show tonight, so I will be scampering to get seats for that immediatley after dinner. That will be a chance to read my book, if no other time, as you need to be at these shows so ridiculously early to get seats this time round. After the show is the Newly-and-not-so-newlywed game. Don't know if we'll participate in that, but at least we'll watch.

Solomon asked if we have been in the pool, and the answer is no. It may have been warm enough the first couple of days of the cruise, but not since.

So that's it for Tuesday, I think. Tomorrow is our LAST DAY!!!! I think it's an excellent thing that we get a few days in Tremblant after this, though. It will help ease the transition from cruise to home.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let's try This!

I don't have a lot of time at the moment because our show starts soon, but I'll try once more to give you a brief overview of yesterday in Sydney, NS. It was a beautiful sunny day there, but RH and I decided to stay aboard the ship as we felt we had recently experienced what Sydney has to offer. So it was very pleasant aboard the quiet ship, reading, doing puzzles, etc. When TL and Ms K returned from their tour in the afternoon, we played some shuffleboard and participated in the afternoon trivia game. Third production number show last night, fabulous as usual.

Today in Corner Brook, Nfld we unfortunately lost the sunshine a little and it was quite cold. Very quaint place. Rented a car and drove to Gros Morne (I think that's it) national park. Very beautiful. At one place we parked three foxes immediately trotted out of the woods, clearly expecting to be fed. They must recognize car engine noise as signalling people with food!

Crab legs night at dinner! Bananas Foster, fresh-made by the headwaiter, for dessert. (Yes, KCL, some of us like bananas!)

Anyway, gotta go see our comic pianist show.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Hello! I want to first of all let you know that I posted a second blog yesterday -- not an edit to the first, but a second one (KCL is the only one who would care about that distinction, I think), but it has not appeared. I tried posting it again, but it still won't appear. That's happened to me once before, and the thing eventually appeared, in its proper chronological spot, long after I'd given up on it and blogged onward, so maybe that will happen this time. In any case, I can't remember a thing I said, so we'll have to hope so.

So, today. A nice busy one. It started early as we had to be on the tender to Bah Habah for our tour by 7:45 a.m. BH is a tiny place, only 5,000 year-round residents, but very pretty and right next to a beautiful national park. Our 2 1/2-hour tour took us around this park (whose name escapes me at the moment), stopping for little wanders at various scenic and woodsy places, including 1500 feet up atop Cadillac Mountain. That was kind of cool because we could look down at the Grand Princess far below, a little toy boat anchored in a pretty little bay. It was nice to do a nature-type tour after all these big cities. Ms K came with us on this tour, but intrepid TL went sea kayaking! (His muscles may have something to say about that tomorrow morning!)

The afternoon was all about games. TL made the grave tactical error of taking me on at Scrabble and then thought he could regain his self-esteem at shuffleboard but Ms K and I beat the guys at that, too. I finally got in on the 3:30 milk and cookies in the Conservatory (the upper level area above the covered pool). This guy travels around with a great tank of milk on his back and a hip container of paper cups, and dispenses milk from a hose! Cookie o' day was chocolate fudge. Yummy! Then it was time for today's late-afternoon trivia competition, which is immensely popular on this ship. We didn't win today!

French night at dinner. I had -- well, I think probably most of you can guess what my appetizer was. Yes, of course escargot. Then a pumpkin-turnip soup which I'm sure to some of you sounds vile, but was delicious. Then duck a l'orange. Then creme brulee. Rob had french onion soup, a salad, roast pork, and cheesecake.

I'm sorry. I'm a little distracted. There's a guy in the bar outside the internet cafe singing Hey, Jude at the top of his lungs. He is not an entertainer aboard this ship. And I use the term "singing" extremely loosely.

Okay. Now, the trivia is, as I said, popular on this ship, but it's nothing compared to the production shows. I arrived very early for the one last night because I like to get a good seat. I just take my book along and read while I'm waiting. The large theatre was already 1/2 full when I got there, 45 minutes ahead of time, and by 30 minutes before curtain, was packed to standing room only. I have never seen this before. In the past, 20 minutes ahead of time was always enough to get a decent seat. They did a different show tonight (unusual to have production shows on two consecutive nights!) and I scampered there immediately upon finishing dinner -- about 7:30 p.m. The show started at 8:45. The theatre was 1/4 full already, and SRO by 8:00. This is ridiculous!! I am clearly far from the only fan of this sort of entertainment aboard this ship, and the theatre is clearly not big enough! RH joined me for that show, a rock and roll retrospective featuring two of the singers doing an uncannily bang-on imitation of Sonny and Cher. TL and Ms K chose to see a comedian instead. Haven't seen them since it ended, so don't know how good he was.

I think the Hey Jude fellow may have been carted off. It's gone very quiet.

Anyway, that's it for today. I hope the blog with the rest of yesterday's info turns up soon.

Tomorrow -- St. John. The information booklet delivered to our room about this city advises us, among many other things, that Fredericton is the capital of St. John. Hmmm. We aren't doing a tour there -- kind of tired, by now, of getting up and boarding a bus. We'll just do our own thing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wednesday Evening

Hello! Yes, KCL, I know I could have done this as an edit to my previous blog, but I was afraid people who had already read that entry wouldn't think to go back and see if there was more, and I can't have anyone missing a single pearl of my wisdom.

So after lunch, I was peacefully reading in a quiet little nook in the Atrium and I took a break to scan today's Princess Patter to see what was on this afternoon. What should catch my eye but an ad for a special in the spa today: Called 20-20-20, you got to choose three of their services and have 20-minute mini-sessions of them. Huh.

Well, here's the thing. I had been forced to give up an afternoon shopping in Boston with Ms. K due to this one gigantic, infuriating, slow-healing New York blister. (I may be gaining a shipboard reputation as an eccentric because other than in the restaurants, I've been going barefoot full-time while aboard.) But anyway, had I gone shopping, I'd have certainly spent money, right? No question.

You see where this is going. I rationalized myself right back into the spa for a back, foot and scalp massage. Gosh, I was a happy little cruiser. After that, I settled back into my little nook with my novel. My hair was a tad oily, but very aromatic.

Big trivia game in the late afternoon. The Explorer's Lounge was filled with 20-25 teams of 4-6 players. Ahem. We won. Now, honesty compels me to confess we actually won fraudulently. We discovered only after everything was said and done, and trinket prizes handed out, that the team that marked our paper had ticked one incorrect answer in error. We didn't give back our prizes, though. We figured we deserved them for the handicap of Playing While Canadian.
Did you know an ant can live two days underwater? What the HECK kind of sadist tests that sort of thing???

On deck for sailaway. There was plenty of rail-room, as it was cloudy and quite chilly. Although not enough to warrant the heavy coat, scarf and MITTENS we saw one lady walking around in! (Must be from California.)

Italian night in the dining room. I had: an antipasto of shrimp, squid and mussels in a lemon mayonnaise; spinach salad; prawns in a spicy tomato sauce; and tiramisu with a scoop of zabaglione ice cream. RH had: a cheesy eggplant bake (it was called something more exotic, but that's what it was); minestrone soup; spinach salad; pot roast; some sort of spumoni-ish ice cream.

Next is the first big production show. It doesn't start for another 45 minutes but I'm going up there to score my seat. Love the big shows. Tomorrow: Bah Hahbah, Maine. See you then!


Hello, everybody! Are we already on day 3 of the cruise? Noooooooo! Still having a fabulous time. Yesterday we had room service for breakfast, then spent some time out on deck as it was a nice day. Sunny and about 18 degrees. Perfection.

In the later morning we took the tender ashore for our tour of Newport, RI. It was a 90-minute trip around a very pretty place. No buildings taller than eight stories (and only one of those). But mostly what we were looking at were the "summer cottages" of the rich and famous of the gilded age (or various gilded ages, or gilded families). These 25-30-room mansions were lived in for 7 or 8 weeks a year. Wild.

Back to the ship for a late lunch in Horizon Court (the buffet restaurant). The food on this trip is turning out to be excellent, as usual. I think we've only had one cruise where it wasn't. We're always amazed by how good the buffet food is. After lunch, RH went for a rest and I made my first visit to the spa, for a pedicure. Ahhhhh. That felt SO GOOD. (And she was very good about working around my still-healing blisters!) After that, the four of us sat around the Atrium for awhile, drinking tea and people-watching, until time to primp for the first formal night.

For the foodie fans: I had crab quiche; cream of asparagus soup; beef tournedos (SO good, VCCGirl!); chocolate-hazelnut souffle with warm sabayon sauce. RH had: crab quiche; beef consomme; halibut; some sort of cake (I forget); and a couple of the petit fours waiter Chalee "forced" upon him. Enjoyed the music in the Explorer's Lounge for awhile after dinner -- a trio playing pop stuff from the 50s-70s, as per usual for this lounge. Baby Boomer music. Very good. Then RH and I finished the evening with the viewing of a fairly lame comic/magician. (I believe TL and Ms. K went on to see a singer, but we were tired.)

So far today (it's 11:15 am as I'm writing this) we have had our 2-hour bus tour of Boston. It was interesting but we had a few annoying people on our bus. Some people who talked constantly, totally ignoring the tour guide, and a guy with a severe phlegm problem. Ewwwwww. So many beautiful old buildings in Boston. So much history. So much road construction. (But that made us feel at home!) We were glad to have an early tour even though it made for early rising because now we have lots of time this afternoon to enjoy our ship. The Grand Princess is aging a little, but it's a layout we have done several times previously so we are very at home here. And it's interesting to compare Princess with Celebrity now. Although service on Princess is very good, Celebrity does have them beat in that regard. But Princess is definitely a little more "fun". (Quite an older crowd on this particular itinerary, though. No wonder there's phlegm.) And the nickel-and-diming trend continues: you now pay even for a cup of coffee or tea anywhere but a dining room. Oh -- but there was a new thing yesterday: they came around the public areas about 3 pm with milk and fresh-baked, warm chocolate chip cookies! I missed out because I was pedicuring, but TL was very excited by this. I don't know if they'll do that every day, but I will be hanging around hopefully this afternoon!

This is not up to my usual writing style because I'm just writing on the fly. Usually I write my blogs in Word first and then cut and paste them here, but I have no access to Word on these computers. But I don't care. I have better things to do! So I'm off to find a cozy spot to read my book now. Another half-hour and it will be time to think about lunch, as we breakfasted so early... Mmmm. Lunch.

Chat with you later! Bye for now!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not that Canadian Thanksgiving was acknowledged in any way aboard ship, but somehow we managed to enjoy dinner, anyway!

But I must go back to the beginning and tell you about our New York weekend. We were picked up at JFK airport by a private car sent for us, and only us, apparently, by Princess. The driver was an older Greek fellow who, upon discovering this was our first visit to NYC, insisted on taking us a slighly scenic route to our hotel. No matter that it was 11:30 p.m. No matter that he actually didn't tell us anything about what we were seeing but instead expounded the entire 40-minute drive on Greek history and politics. It was neat to get our first glimpse of the city that doesn't sleep.
Our hotel, the Sheraton Towers, had a spectacular and gigantic lobby, but the rooms were no more than 3-star. Clean, nice. Adequate. (Excellent air conditioning, though!)

Met up with the Lawman and Ms. K about 8 the next morning and headed out in search of breakfast. This was more a matter of choice than search, of course, as there were literally dozens of places to eat within 5 minutes' walk in any direction from the hotel. After breakfast we took a Greyhound bus tour of Uptown Manhattan. Sat in the open-air top of the double-decker bus in the lovely sunshine (and nice breeze!) and thoroughly enjoyed the 90-minute trip with a worldly and clever tour guide. We had to take a few detours because we kept running into little street fairs, and one parade. We wondered if this was because it was the American Columbus Day weekend, but it seems that this happens all the time, totally randomly. This day's parade we passed was for some sort of Korean celebration.

In the early afternoon we did some exploring on our own. To save RH's legs, we did some subway and cabbing, both very successfully. It was 1000 degrees underground waiting for the trains, but the cars themselves are air-conditioned. And we quickly got quite expert at the proper cab-hailing technique. Espy an in-service cab (and they come along constantly), and fling out one arm. Don't wave, flail, or vocalize. Just the arm. Works every time, and just feels way cool.

Unfortunately I became violently ill in the latter afternoon so RH and I lost some precious exploring time (because of course my darling husband wouldn't leave me) and also missed out on our Tavern on the Green dinner. Major bummer, but I was fine by the next morning. Just one of those stupid things.

So Sunday morning we did the Downtown loop Greyhound tour, a two-hour trip and also most informative and enjoyable. Then lots of slogging around on foot in the afternoon. (Thank goodness I packed lots of moleskin!) Between the bus and on foot, we saw pretty much every New York icon you can think of this weekend. We Did New York! (We only got to do one side of the famous 5th Avenue, though, because...there was a parade going down it. Something Polish this time.)

VCCGirl -- you'd go NUTS shopping here. A gazillion clothes stores, and all huge!

Sunday evening we had an early supper and then cabbed to the Schubert Theater for our Broadway show. (Which I'd have been a lot more upset to miss than dinner last night!!) We saw Spamalot, which won a Tony award in 2004, and quite deservedly, we think. It was hysterical, outrageous, totally non-PC. And it ended with a rousing audience singalong of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life". We shared a couple of pieces of cheesecake after the show, but still couldn't find a free cab in the busy Broadway area when we were done, so decided to walk back. It was ten blocks, but the short north-south blocks, so RH was fine. Especially, he commented drily, at the pace most of it. Our route home took us through Times Square, and apparently everyone in town mistook October 7 for New Year's Eve. The sidewalks were a solid mass of humanity. But we sure didn't mind the slow pace, because although we had been through the Square a few times in daylight, seeing it at night...well, it's dazzling in the extreme. It's almost overwhelming. It's hard to breathe. I'm so glad I got to see that. I think shuffling through Times Square at night was the highlight of my trip to NYC.

So this morning we did one more quick walk around. (More of a limp-around, really, by this point.) Then Princess got us bussed out to the Brooklyn docks midday, and from the moment we got off the bus to the moment we stepped on the ship was no more than ten minutes. It would have been even less, in fact, if Rob hadn't misplaced his cruisecard within seconds of being handed it at the counter. After a few minutes of kafuffle, returning to the counter and so on, he discovered it in his back pocket. Now, the large black woman admitting guests to the gangway had observed this and decided to have some fun. After waving The Lawman, Ms. K and me through, she held up her hand to RH and commenced berating him in a loud, very Bronx voice. "WHERE is your card, sir? Do you HAVE a card? Do you understand the RESPONSIBILITY of this card, sir?" It was hilarous.

And I've gotta tell you, the minute I stepped on board, I was Home. I really could live on a cruise ship.

And so we sailed away from New York on a warm and sunny late afternoon, passing right by our final NYC icon, the Statue of Liberty. (I half expected the US national anthem to start blaring from the PA system. Thankfully, it did not.) We discovered at dinner that we have a great table for four by a window and two warm and friendly Thai waiters.

Now, Missy Moo. As per your instructions, I present you with my first dinner menu: lobster terrine; spring rolls; baked ham with a cranberry gravy; and apple strudel. RH had: spring rolls; cream of porcini mushroom soup; house salad; rockfish; and profiteroles with fresh berries. (I'm not going to recite TL and Ms. K's meals!) We all split a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

After dinner we participated in our first trivia competition. Didn't win, but did pretty well. (One of the questions was "Edmonton is the capital of what Canadian province?" We got that one right.)

So that brings us up to date. I'm going to close this off, then go listen to some music in the Explorer's Lounge for awhile before calling it a night. Tomorrow: Newport, RI!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Are we there yet?

Well, here it is the last Monday before our Big Trip. We leave on Friday, and thanks to a lull in work (and compulsive Virgoness) I am pretty much completely ready to go. The clothes are all sorted, clean, ironed and folded. (I will be wearing only the reject, not-good-enough-for-the-trip clothes between now and Friday.) The notes for the children have been prepared. So I’m completely ready to go, and I have no work. Can you say bouncing off the walls?

I can’t even burn off any energy cleaning house, because my cleaning lady is coming tomorrow and it goes against every fibre of my being to pay someone to clean an already clean house. No, she must earn her money by facing a pigsty or I’m not getting satisfaction. I’ve been known to screech at RH for, say, wiping something sticky off the kitchen floor the day before the cleaning lady comes. “Stop! Are you nuts? She’s coming tomorrow!!” I bellow. “She’s going to be cleaning the whole floor! You’re just wasting money!”

Of course I know this doesn’t make any sense. I can’t help that.

I’ve had a cleaning lady (well, a series of them, and one extremely stinky cleaning man) for ten years, which is also how long it’s been since I went back to work after being a full-time mom for a long while. A cleaning lady was the very first priority for me once I was earning my own money. (I couldn’t afford both that and a personal chef. It was a toss-up, but the cleaning won.)

The problem is that I have two completely different people living inside me when it comes to this sort of thing. There’s the side of me that could have been quite comfortable as a duchess in 19th century England with a very large staff. (Duchesses prior to the 19th century also had large staffs but I’m not willing to go any farther back in time due to other issues such as disease and general smelliness and things. And most duchesses subsequent to the 19th century don’t even have enough money to keep their estates from falling down around their heads and have to sell them to people like Elton John or Jo Rowling.)

Anyway, in juxtaposition with that duchess part of me, I have this annoying egalitarian streak which makes me feel guilty about having someone else clean my house. (Or it would, if I didn’t pay her such a lot of money to do it.) Back when I hired my first cleaner, one of my children made the grievous error of referring to her as “the maid”. I nearly bit the child’s head off. To my mind, “maid” was a term too suggestive of subservience. My offspring were forced to listen to a long lecture about how people who clean houses are no better or worse than anyone else. They are performing a service just as valuable and respectable as doctors or lawyers or hockey players or moms or any other important person.

But I didn’t say these were two equal parts of me. Of course the duchess part is stronger. You know that! Where RH feels it necessary to leave the house when our cleaner comes, I actually get quite a lot of enjoyment hearing and seeing her working around my home, doing the stuff I’m just too damn lazy to do.

Oh, I just got an email from my office. There’s work! Yay! Otherwise I would have degenerated to just typing: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet……