Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Memory

Here’s to you, my wonderful Little Red Ship!
She was the MS Explorer, and oh my! She was wonderful!

I sailed on her in 2000 and again in 2001. Those two “adventure cruises” were the best vacations I’ve ever had. Maybe the best I will ever have.

The first took us from Dundee, Scotland to the Orkney and Shetland Islands. And from there to Norway and up the coast all the way to Svalbard in the Arctic. You cannot imagine what a beautiful sight this little ship was when we were surrounded by ice and cliffs and not a living soul but ourselves anywhere in sight. She represented safety and warmth. She was the loveliest sight imaginable.

We dined in her little dining rooms with people from all over the world.

The second cruise again began in Dundee, Scotland to the Orkney and Shetland Islands – but turned back west this time and sailed to Fair Isle and to the Hebrides and the Isle of Man and to the Scilly Isles. We even stopped in Dublin and Waterford.

She carried only 100 passengers and we were treated to lectures on the marine life and tundra and many other things by highly qualified educators. Here is her cozy lecture hall:

We had wanted to take her "transition" cruise. That was the one that took her from the Arctic to the Antarctic. It took more than 30 days and it would have been wonderful. It stopped at several little islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. But we never got the chance.

And then - Disaster.
On 23 November 2007, she sank in the Antarctic.

I was stunned when I heard the news. And I was riveted to the television and the computer trying to find out everything I could about what had happened. I was beyond saddened to know that I will never get to sail on her again.

You can read about my Little Red Ship here:

Thursday, November 26, 2009


In response to Alan Burnett on his wonderful blog, News From Nowhere, I'm posting my current desktop wallpaper. (If you haven't visited Alan's blog, you must. It's really wonderful.)
This is a photo, taken by my very dearest friend in California, of a rose that I gave him several years back. He obviously has a green thumb since this rose is absolutely gorgeous and perfectly healthy. It is my favorite of all colors for roses. I never tire of looking at it.

This particular rose was the 2003 Habitat for Humanity Rose. I've never been sure of the actual name given to this rose once the Habitat for Humanity series of Roses ended with the Jackson & Perkins company who sponsored it.

This desktop photo replaced another that is very dear to me:

This completely adorable thing is my girl, Sylvie. She was only 12 weeks old in this photo and I had just brought her home to live with me. She's a Champagne Mink Tonkinese with more personality than most people I know. And she's absolutely smart. She is definitely a "people cat" and will check you out without inhibition should you ever come to visit. She is SO much help, in fact, that if I ever have workmen in the house attempting to do a job I have to put her in another room and close the door. Sometimes you just don't need so much help.

She will ride around the house on my shoulders, and sometimes she decides it's time to put some lovin' on mommy and she crawls up my chest, puts a paw on each side of my neck, and nuzzles me under my chin. She has me absolutely trained. When I put her food down, she runs to a glittery ball that is suspended from a line on a tiny pole and waits for me to come and play ball with her. After a few minutes of play, when I return the pole and ball to its resting place, she will trot over - big as you please - and eat her dinner.

As you can tell, I'm not in the least besotted by her. And, of course, she isn't spoiled at all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Have a happy holiday, everyone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Theme Thursday - Late

Somewhere on my bookshelves, tucked in beside a volume of Steinbeck, I have a first edition of John Hersey’s book Hiroshima.
It looks just like this:

If you have not read it, do. Do, and you will hear of of things you already know but don’t often think of these days.

You will read of the mission of a now-famous airplane:

The Enola Gay.

And you will hear of this:

It’s called “Little Boy” – such an innocent-sounding name for such a deadly thing. On August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” was dropped from the Enola Gay at 8:15 a.m. over Hiroshima, Japan.

The devastation that resulted was unspeakable. It was so horrible that I cannot bring myself to post pictures of the living creatures – human and otherwise – who suffered. For those, it is way too late to say “I’m Sorry.”

For those of us who are here today to read of this, I wonder. Can we learn from our past? Can we ever find peace? Will we ever demand peace?

Is it too late?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Theme Thursday - Telephone

Let me take you back to 1952.
The theatre smells of buttery popcorn and the seats are deep red velvety plush. Sometimes the floor is pretty sticky so watch your feet. If you arrive a little late, an usher in a spiffy uniform with a tiny flashlight will seat you.

The huge red velvet and gold-tasseled curtain goes up. Feature begins. Today’s Black & White Feature: “Chicago Calling” starring Dan Duryea.

Here is one of the things IMDB ( ) has to say about this film:

Duryea is out of work, and his wife takes the kid and leaves him. They are involved in an auto accident, out of town, and Duryea must wait until they are out of surgery to receive a phone call informing him as to whether they will live or die. Because his phone bill is un-paid, his phone is disconnected, and he tries in vain to earn, borrow, and even contemplates stealing the money.To make matters worse, his little pooch is run down in traffic.When the Phone Company Rep comes to pick up the instrument (this was made long before we all owned our own phones!) Duryea cons the guy into hooking him up long enough to take the long distance call from Chicago concerning the condition of his wife and kid. This is where you will really need the Prozac!Although this is downbeat throughout, Duryea gives an acting "tour-de-force" and if they ever show it again, it is well worth watching, but you've been warned!

I was hoping I could find this at Netflix but, alas, they just don’t have it. If you have seen it, you know just how good it is. If you haven’t seen it, please do if you ever get the chance. It’s excellent.

Speaking of telephones…

The first phone I can remember my parents ever having looked something like this:

We had a “party” line and it was pretty funny. I was just a kid and I could pick up the phone and hear the old lady down the street talking to somebody. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff people talked about. Well… maybe you would.

Then my parents got a “private” line and one of these:

Pretty snazzy, huh?

When I was a teenager, I had one of these:

I was way cool! At least I thought I was way cool. There I was in an oversized men's white dress shirt and jeans. Legs in the air, butt in the chair, head nearly on the floor - just like the little "princess" I was. Eat your hearts out!

Now I have one telephone in the entire house – and I never answer it. It is hooked up to an answering machine so it won’t feel too neglected.

If anyone wants me, they had better call me on this one, instead:

Bye Bye now. Nice chattin’ with ya.
Ya’ll come back real soon now… ya hear?

What? Damn!
Can you hear me now?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Theme Thursday - Castle

There are several ways to approach this week’s Theme Thursday’s “launch” word. I suppose that, mostly, when we think of a “castle” we think of a very large building that housed many people (most of whom were not related to each other) and with battlements for protection against enemies – such as this one:

This is Peel Castle on the Isle of Man. It has seen better days, I’m afraid. It is mostly tumble-down, cold and uninviting. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in it.

Here is a castle more to my liking:

This is Lewis Castle on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides.

Lewis Castle brings to mind damsels in distress or yearning young female hearts in romantic gothic novels. Maybe Mr. Rochester lives there. Or, maybe he lives here:

This is Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum in the Inner Hebrides and invokes all manner of flights of fancy when I allow myself to just take it in from the distance at which I photographed it.

Of course not all castles are huge. Some are rather small and humble – at least by our standards today – and don’t even bring to mind the word “castle”. However, two thousand years ago when this structure was built, I’m thinking it was deserving of being called a castle:

This is the best-preserved Broch in the world. It is located on Mousa in the Shetland Islands. The figure standing beside it is that of my better half. He is just over 6 feet tall – to give you an idea of the size of this structure. It is about 43 feet high with walls about 15 feet thick at the base. The Broch is built of stacked stone and without any mortar whatsoever to hold it together – yet it has stood on this spot for over two thousand years.

I am lucky enough to have been inside and even on the very top of this structure. I must say it’s a bit frightening up there on a misty grey day when the whole world is shrouded around you.

I walked this narrow walkway there at the top. I can reveal to you that I did it VERY gingerly as I could see between some of the stones into blackness. It was a sobering experience – and exhilarating. I can tell you that I was very happy to come down again.

We learned so many things on this particular trip about the archaeology of Scotland from Britain’s wonderful Graham Ritchie who is shown on the right in this photo:

You can find Graham Ritchie’s books about the wonderful ancient archaeology of Scotland on the Amazon website.

All of the photos (above) were taken in August of 2001.

Of course there is another kind of “castle” with which I am familiar:

This particular castle can cause no end of trouble – and pleasure – depending upon the circumstances under which you currently “own” it. When I first met my better half I found myself in a game of chess with him and soundly defeated him in about 7 moves. Ahhhhhh! That’s a nice memory. Over the years, however, he got better and I got lazy and today he can beat my socks off.

Finally, this whole castle idea has me thinking of one of my favorite films:

I think I will add it to my queue at Netflix and enjoy it once again.
Happy “castling” everyone!