Monday, March 31, 2008

Kitteh condo

Isn't Sylv.ie spectacular?

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

There's a box in the closet I call the Kitteh Condo. Syl.vie and B.eau have claimed it with curious glares from the other two. Last night, Sylv.ie and B.eau shared the diggs.

The best cat toys are free.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Effects of no sleep

I remember being four and having a hot pillow. My face couldn't handle it and my brain could not shut up about it. As a solution, I would begin in one corner of the pillow and gradually work my head across and around, a couple minutes on each of the eight squares I'd mentally divided my pillow top into. After those eight spots got hot, I'd flip over the pillow and begin on that nice, cool side.

This is some serious organization for a four year old, who should have been out cold and not even aware of having a hot pillow. Instead, I'd do this for a few hours.

I was always a hard wake up in the mornings. I remember standing daily for 30 minutes in front of my closet, unable to focus enough to choose a dress for school. My mother used to quip that I needed a solid nine hours of sleep. Little did she understand, as she was asleep the second her head hit the pillow, that there were reasons for me being so slow in the morning.

Many people suffer from insomnia like this. I found out another scouting parent has the same problem, only he hasn't been so lucky as to find the proper med for himself. He kinda melted when I said that Seroquel gives me a solid eight or nine hours, although I do take a lower dosage to save money and to reduce the high blood sugar risk; it also could have been a contributing cause to my tremor last fall. But can you tell how desperate I am? How desperate all insomniacs are?

Today, an opinion piece in the LATimes struck a chord: Can insomnia kill? In essence, the answer is, "Yes." Because the measure of everything in LA is celebrities, the writer mentions a number of probable sleep-related deaths from Health Ledger to Anna Nicole Smith to Elvis to Marilyn Monroe. New to me, even Eminem and Drew Barrymore talk about their sleep issues.

I don't think insomnia is taken seriously by the general population and the negative effects of it aren't understood. Gayle Greene, the author, points out that there are hotlines to call if you're depressed or have restless legs, but there's no such help for the insomniac.

Isn't that an irony? An insomniac could man lines for fellow insomniacs?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Scavenger Hunt: Old

I went around all day thinking I'd already posted. Ooops! For today, OLD! To clarify, old people and old pictures, one of which I took.

Here's who my mother learned all her tricks from, her Greek father, who died about 15 years ago of well earned lung cancer:

In a picture taken by J when he was about 6 years old, here are three generations; my grandmother died last Spring when she was almost 87 years old:
These are some old genealogy pictures, probably related to ex's family, and I have no idea who they are:






This is one of my favorite old pictures ever - my fire-headed ex-MIL with her incredible Daddy in the background.

This is my gggg grandmother. I posted her husband previously.

And this is their daughter. She is the g g'ma of my grandmother shown above.


Here's my father accompanying his mother during the funeral for his father about a year and a half ago. I was struck by how old they looked; she's my last grandparent and nutty as a loon.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I must share these gorgeous pictures

They are wonderful. J got incredible shots of fish (I'm jealous!) from our first stop, when I was trying not to drown. I got great shots of him, mostly.

His:







Here's my fish ball - not as good - but you can see the baracuda's tail to the top left of the big rock. It was so much more clear in person.




My pictures of him show how happy he was:





I bought him yellow gear for visibility to boaters - I think it worked!

Probably until later

I won't be able to post again until later, but thanks so much for your support on my last post. I'm sorry there are so many of us out there. Keep in mind, that the last decade or more have been the Prozac Years for her, and they're good in comparison.

When you visit again, the place may look quite different or be in the process of looking quite different. Can't wait!

Until then, check out my most recent back fill post about art auctions at sea - I've never attended, but I have certainly admired. And drooled.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On a theme or two

Even when I try to knock some out in advance, these two posts a day are killing me. I thought one was bad.

Today's bonus fill in is entitled Today was Progreso. It provides a lot more detail and variety than yesterday's, which will be beefed up once I get the underwater cameras developed. I think the Progreso post especially shows how much I enjoy and respect ancient cultures and traditions.

Progreso has so little written about it that when I was researching more for today's delayed post, my mere mention of it once came up near the top 10 on Google.
~

My appointment yesterday did wonders.

For example, I know I am not off base that I am chagrined/mortified/anxious/angry/put out about her videoing me getting back on the boat after snorkeling. Per her request, I had just showed her the day before how to use the video feature; I had no idea the skill would be a weapon. When she panned through pictures later that day, I saw it and politely asked her to delete it. She said she wouldn't. The next day, during the cowboy show, her camera filled up, her saying it probably happened because of the videos. I laughed and suggested she delete that video of me for the room on her card, but she declined again; she'd rather have no additional pictures on the cruise. It makes me feel that she has some purpose for it.

My therapist felt very strongly about it, how inappropriate it was to do in the first place. She said that, besides supermodels, very few women want to be videoed like that; it's not just my paranoia about my weight. How would you react if you were less than clothed and videoed without your consent? Then, if you found out about it, you were told twice it wouldn't be deleted? Gosh, I wish I'd gotten my hands on that camera. Before last week when I taught her, she didn't even know how to delete anything. And, as I'd mentioned, the camera contained pictures of her dog who died in Nov 06, because she didn't know how to download. And, yet, she in her ignorance has all the power.

See, my sister and I know we cannot tell her anything without it becoming her source of conversation around the office and with her "friends." We are the fodder for her attention-seeking. I've known it since I was a child as I kept my cards very close to my vest. She knows little about my life and it is that way on purpose. She sees me as an extension of herself, in part, that her rules rule. My desires don't matter, are considered frivolous. I remember during my college breaks her volunteering me to babysit for her friends so she could go out; my plans, even as an adult, didn't matter. In her desperation for conversation, she would have two hour gab fests in KMart with unsuspecting acquaintances, my teenaged sister and I waiting and not allowed to wander - so.many.times. I remember being in elementary school and being sick with asthma and allergies all the time; she was at home, but on the phone constantly and the school could never reach her to tell her I was ill. She has such voids within herself that she most go elsewhere to try to fill and it is at no one else's convenience.

Being an extension of her of the low self-esteem makes her value me less, too. I even saw it with J when she cut him off when he called her after we landed Sunday; she was on her way to church with her aunt and cousins, people she respects, and hearing from J that we'd gotten home didn't hold up. She didn't even try to call him back later. I know she has painted me a bitch to her cousins and aunt and then it'll go to the rest of the family. Considering they didn't even know my last name, I'm not a very strong member of the family anyway, but I'd rather my mother's mouth not make it worse.

I remember after I got married what the sense of family was, how ex's mother was, how he and his brother interacted, all in spite of his alcoholic father. In the family sense, but also within the realms of generosity, selflessness, and caring, I think of ex having raised me all over again. I do not consider my parents having raised me. I was a hollow shell. I have done so much work on myself since (mental illness has forced me to face all the demons) and it frustrates me to death to hear my mother telling silly stories of my childhood, ones in which she actually mocks my innocence, and it turns my stomach. I want to tell her that I survived in spite of her and her yelling and beating, not because of it.

I see myself entering a distance phase again. I've done it for years in the past. She's commented that, essentially, they were my immature years which happen over and over sporadically. Au contraire. They were the years that I felt no need to prostitute myself for the sake of getting along. Of course, she sees no part she's played. Later, when I could manage and felt stronger, I would and, of late, it's mostly because of my son. However, when I realized that she valued church and her aunt/cousins over a very quick talk with him, enough to make him feel listened to a bit, that notion has come tumbling down. I've had enough. I began shutting down last week.

Famous quotes from the last few years:
When she came to visit 3wk old J with 1 hour's notice (although she's been on the road two days and knew she planned to come by), I'd gone upstairs to pump in privacy before they arrived. I was coming downstairs with the bottles when she came in. Her first words to me in years were a snide, "Is that all you make?"

Almost four years ago, she came to visit and she, J, L, and I went downtown to the museums. J was walking ahead, thank goodness, when my mother suddenly turned to 14yo L and asked point blank, "Does your dad always date fat women?" Even L had the good sense to stutter and be embarrassed on her behalf.

I know I have trouble forgiving her, but she does so much stuff that needs forgiving that it's tough to keep up.

Thanks, if you've read this far. I have not railed on her in a very long time and was overdue a more detailed rant.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another Wednesday

Be sure to check out my Blog365 back fill post for last week, Today was Cozumel.

~

This morning's reading struck close to home. Are you an angry person? Or does being around your mother make you an angry person? Or does this sound like someone you know? I know dating stupid men makes be blow up. However, before P and that fiasco, I wasn't angry. I was incredibly patient. Now I hate people. Good thing I don't work. I couldn't bear to have a boss. Good thing I don't live by my mother, either.

~

While we were gone, J and I seriously missed our kitties. Norma and/or her son came down daily to care for them. Her son stayed and watched TV with them sometimes, with a few joining him on the couch. As a result, the cats weren't weird upon our return. The only odd thing, which also happened while were were gone, was that all four of them would be piled up just inside the front door waiting for the next visitor. Open the door and they're all there. In fact, Spencie, who chases Memphie, allowed Memphie into the gathering. Since then, Memphie can walk by Spencie without threat. I think this change in dynamic due to our travel is actually beneficial.

~
My back started peeling last night. It is still bright red, though. J kept shaking his head, saying how bad it is, but he hasn't seen really bad. We both missed the blister stage, but I think most of this is locationally induced, as in under my bra strap.
~
Hope everyone is having a good day. I'm about to unload at my therapist's and cannot wait. I want some validation that my anger was justified.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Weight and food

I gained 2.2lbs last week. I was expecting it to be 5, so I am pleasantly surprised.

Ex had his last leave at home before going to Iraq over the weekend, so he got J immediately after we got home from the trip. Last night on the phone, he commented on me looking thinner. Wow! It is particularly amazing considering I was wearing a huge sweatshirt I bought at the airport. So it boils down to at least my face looking thinner, but I'll take it.

The first two days of our trip, I was very careful about what I ate. Then I succumbed to desserts, sometimes at both lunch and dinner. I still ate salads for lunch, but ate what I wanted for dinner. I was generally able to leave something behind. Meals were different than on Carnival, where five shrimp would be considered an entree, so you ordered several different ones. On Royal Caribbean, an entree is a whole meal and one is plenty. The sirloin I ordered the first night was the only failure: too tough.

Our wait staff was incredible, anticipating every need. At one point, our head waiter, who strongly made daily suggestions, said, "I know you've had beef the last two nights, but I highly recommend the fish tonight." With all the patrons she served, she remembered something like that. Amazing. She's been doing it almost a dozen years, since the ship first set sail. She knows her stuff. (More on the food staff in my back fill post for last Tuesday.)

I'm not sure if I can say the food was better on Royal Caribbean than Carnival, but the service was far superior. The lunch restaurant was not better on this particular ship, because it is a smaller vessel. The Carnival one was expansive, to match the ship's size, and had a much better variety. I was left craving chicken or tuna salad and cottage cheese each day. Carnival had excellent ceviche, which satisfied me. Carnival also had the soft serve ice cream in the restaurant, so J could get his own whenever he wanted. RC had a machine by the pool, but it had limited hours of operation. I think he only got ice cream once.

All in all, the food was good to all of us and yet I kept it in check a bit. Great balance.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tip

Don't buy the new Coppertone Continuous Spray, unless you realize that you must treat it like any other suntan lotion and rub it in, plus have help with your back. The spray feature does not make it special. In fact, it lulls you into thinking that spraying will be enough.

Here I am on Monday, with a burn on my back so severe that it still hurts from last Wednesday, and I know this product does not work the way it appears to, although I loved the theory of it. Don't trust that the luxury of being able to spray your back on your own will be enough.

Oh yeah, consider what happens when you spray suntan lotion in the wind. Lotta good it does.

However, I sprayed my back indoors, Miss Sun Phobic who preps ahead of time for the sun due to extreme sun sensitivity, and it still didn't work.

Save your money. I trashed it on the ship.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

We're baaaack!

Hi everybody!

I'll post today, then back fill for the week. I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures Monday and Tuesday, so I'll have to actually write for those days!

My son had a blast. Despite him not going to any of the Kids' Club activities, he wrote in a kids' questionnaire, "This was the best vacation I have ever had." His favorite was snorkeling in Cozumel, which was actually rough going in relentless wind and waves.

(I was unlucky that my snorkel leaked and, for the first of two stops, I was just doing my best not to perish in the nasty waves - I remember calmly thinking once, as salt water went up my nose and in my mouth, "Oh, this must be what it feel like to drown." Better me than J, though, with the faulty snorkel. That second half of snorkeling, although it was just an ugly plane wreck site, was the best 30 minutes of the week. I love the peaceful sounds of snorkeling. The first site, which I struggled to see, had the most fish - many rather friendly, great variety - than I had seen at either Grand Cayman or Roatan. It was beautiful. The only other thing I didn't care for was having a guide insist we follow him. I've always been allowed to float and do at my own speed, without 15 someones and their flippers in my face. I definitely prefer the freedom. We had two underwater cameras, which I'll get developed digitally this week. I didn't spot any nekked behinds this time, but the photographs will tell.)

Many, many people on the cruise ship were seasick several days from the weather, but we were lucky. The weather was cool, but it wasn't cold for either excursion. It did rain a short while at Progreso on Thursday, but the timing worked out well.

I am still rocking as I sit at my desk and will probably rock in bed for a week. I've had a hard time finding my land legs, too.

Okay, I am avoiding talking about my mother. Much like the "lost" passport, she seemed to revel in making simple things difficult, casting her insignificant, easily remedied problems on others and making them the business of every one else. Just this morning, her ignorant approach to the airport cost us six circles of said airport, adding up to at least 15 or 20 precious, pre-dawn minutes, and put us within the one-hour-before-the-flight rule; I paid extra to check in late at the curb and thankfully they took my money. She insisted upon going to the airport post office on the way in, yet she didn't know her way out of it. She could have just gone to the post office on the way out and not potentially cost anyone a flight. She is her own priority. It was just a couple of Netflix.

She is so self-centered that it is mind boggling. She generates stress, but I held my tongue. Several days before, while we were still in FL, I told her that she was plucking my last nerve and I do believe that warning applied for the whole week. I have begun to wonder if the senility that hit my grandmother late is hitting my mother early. Her avoidances of simple things is in overload, or it makes me overloaded, anyway, when it is something that influences me. That she is always growling or grunting or sighing or scowling doesn't help. She is an attention hound, always 'look at me' or 'serve me' - she drives me mad. That she dared to sit in a chair behind me when I finally got the computer away from my son at her house Saturday shocked me; she made no bones about peering over. That she listened in to a phone call to my doctor (I needed two scripts called in down there) and dared to question me about details afterward slays me. She has no sense of privacy, no decency. I cannot tolerate her company. Used to be, I could put on my "daughter hat" or "tour guide hat" and let the rest roll off. I couldn't do it this time. She was entirely too close. I had no escape, but then I felt that before I arrived, so her presence is far reaching.

Well, I had to get that off my chest. Now it goes behind me, I hope. Next: cruising fun!

Cozumel, between Celebrity and Royal Caribbean ships at the Senor Frog dock

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Friday, March 21, 2008

Art auctions at sea

I'm a fan of art auctions. I have a dozen or more pieces I've purchased from several charity art auctions. I have loved and collected lithographs since my college days, but my most recent purchases are all seriographs. I even have a Picasso, a restrike etching, meaning he etched the plate and somebody else made the print.

On board for the boring days at sea, they do art auctions. It's eye candy for me, but so impractical to think of hauling such off the ship and on a plane. I saw several of the artists I've already collected and more that I've wanted to collect.

I wish the ones on board had descriptive stickers on the back like my others. I couldn't get the artist's names from their signatures.

The first two were J's favorites. They had tiny objects out of place that it was fun to hunt and find.


This little landscape was my favorite. I saw it Tuesday and sought it out again Friday, when I took this picture. The subject is so Van Gogh-y, like the bottom of Starry Night which I painted for the school backdrop a few years ago. I took this picture so I could paint this for myself. I could see doing it in oil or pastel.

Do you collect art? If so, how do you do it? Funny, I only have hanging three of my own pieces I've framed myself. I've just about run out of wall space, yet another reason to not sit through another art auction. I have no self control!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Today was Progreso

Hold up your thumb. It represents the Yucatan Peninsula. Now look at the upper corners of your thumb nail. The top right represents Cozumel and faces the Caribbean Sea. The top left represents Progreso, a lesser know port which faces the Gulf of Mexico.

Progreso has a pier that is five miles long. It's actually more like a causeway to nowhere. Fingers extend from it and one near the base is where our ship parked. I regret not seeing the whole pier.

The day in Progreso was overcast and it even rained a bit. It didn't dampen my spirits, as I love to see ruins.

We first went to Dzibichaltun ruins about 25 minutes from the port. They had a spectacular museum and it translates to be “The Place where there is Writing on the Stones.”
(Sorry about the flash, Mr. Museum Man. Canons think they're smarter then we [I?] are and there's no way to simply turn off the flash.)

The latter is the style of souvenir I love to buy. I find the Mayan elements very interesting - bought a circular Mayan calendar in Belize and tiny rock figures before in Roatan. This time I bought a wall-mounted pottery mask for myself with this flavor. Also bought J's step brother a similar 3D wooden plaque. And Norma's son got a stone one as a necklace. Here's somebody else's video showing the grounds beyond the museum, which actually are more impressive than this shows.

Here's a borrowed picture of the main structure, Temple Of The Seven Dolls, which is down the road from the videoed plaza:


A statue of this is what J bought his dad. Shhhh, but ex said he'd have loved a large wooden mask plaque like step brother got.

Our tour guide calling them Mayan Barbies, these are the seven dolls excavated from the temple: (Sorry again about the flash, Mr. Museum Man.)

The sun shines at 5:45am through the door of the temple on the Vernal Equinox, which was March 21. We were there the day before and, when added to the day after, you get a special time of the year for the Mayans and ruins viewing. We were there mid morning, so we missed the show. Plus it was overcast. Interesting, the winter sun shines through the left window and the summer through the right. Those Mayans were incredible engineers and this temple makes this site very important, even if it isn't the most showy.

Next to the plaza, there is a cenote called Xlaca. In this area of the Yucatan, there are lots of sink holes that fill with water. Although I'd read ahead of time that this cenote was open to swimming and snorkeling, there was a barrier up around the perimeter. It is so pretty, though, with the color and water lilies. Here are a few more pictures I took of the plaza. The first is climbing up to see the cenote to the left and to offer vantage for the other views. For the Mayans to be such tiny people, they sure did make each step very tall. From here we went to Rancho Tierra Bonita, where we had lunch and saw a horse show.
There was also shopping, singing, and dancing. J loves his wordburned wallet he got, the front with a Mayan figure, the back with his name. This video is of traditional Mayan dance and dress.

video

There were lots of rope tricks: This guy stood on his horse, lassoed the passing horse, and plopped back into his saddle before the escaping horse carried him away. At the end, my son got a short ride, too. It was a flat, wooden horn that was pretty uncomfortable. But still, a horse ride!

It was a day full of lovely surprises.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Today was Cozumel

I only have a few pictures on my digital from Cozumel. Will get the underwater cameras developed this weekend.
We woke up so early each morning. The time changes had to do with it. We put the balcony to good use.





Disembarking at the dock at Senor Frog's. Last time we were here, we were at the dock in the background.

We had to wait a while for our boat ride. Time is a funny thing on a cruise. We were dealing with Eastern Standard Time, Daylight Savings Time, Time Zones, Ship's Time, and Shore Time. By the time we got to Cozumel, we were dealing with a time two hours behind J's watch while on shore (but only one hour later by Ship's Time), but it was too confusing to be able to be lazy about it.
(I wish to goodness that I had pictues of J and I. My mother doesn't know how to unload her camera and has a year and a half of photos on it. When I showed her how to make videos, she promptly filled it up. She'll probably buy another card rather than learn to unload the one she has.)




Obviously, I had a thing for the horse and carriages. I wanted to take a ride, but we ran out of time.
We walked around some back streets seeking some new flip flops for J. He'd outgrown his, but we risked it with the old ones, because I couldn't find any around here before we left.

If it hadn't been for my snorkel malfunction, Cozumel would have been perfect. I enjoyed the lag in time, opportunity to see capitalism cruise by in many forms. I liked the shopping, although I don't prefer being 'helped' quite so much. I liked buying Mayan-oriented souvenirs especially. We bought a sun/moon wall hanging and t-shirt for J's half sister. I got some clunky bead silver hanging earrings. J bought a cat with its hiney up in the air for me; it is Spencie through and through, apparently a common Mayan style.
I wouldn't mind going to Cozumel for a third time. I have always wanted to do a dolphin encounter and am going to fit it in. Sometime. Someplace.