Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Poor Bob.

While we were gone, Bob had a run-in with a rose bush. He captured a thorn in his neck, and developed an abcess. Ouch! Looked like a goiter.

Ross took him to the vet today and had it drained. Da boyz are afraid of the vet. But, apparently, Bob was very brave. Slick cried like a girl. I expect they'll both sleep well tonight.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The rest of the story.

I didn't have access to the Internet until now and I didn't do a good job of writing down what we did every day, but here are the installments I did write . . .

Dubrovnik, the first time. (September 14.)

So now we’re in Dubrovnik. That’s also in Croatia. But you knew that.

We went through about five kilometers of Bosnia-Herzegovina. (They have a little patch of land that gets them to the coast.) But we’re now safely back in the Croatian heartland. Well, the heartland is probably up near Zagreb somewhere. But here we are.

We were on a bus all day. So far, not much in the way of actual cruising for a cruise vacation. Our whole group is starting to chant, “where’s the boat?” But tomorrow is another bus ride. We don’t even get to see Dubrovnik yet, until later in the cruise. And Dubrovnik looks very cool. From the high-walled outside anyway. You know, we went all over Tuscany looking at these medieval cities . . . but they seem to be much better preserved here.

We spent some time in a beautiful little walled city called Trogir today. It’s very complete. Yes, some of the outside towers are gone, but what a lot of other old stuff was saved. Gorgeous.
It was hot and sunny up until this afternoon. Then it turned rainy and windy. Fortunately, I overpacked.

The other confusing thing is that we’re staying in the Hotel Argentina tonight. Thought that was on a whole different continent. Hmmm. It’s beautiful, but no Internet access. So I can’t really recommend it.

Editorial comment: I didn't overpack. It got a little chilly in places and I used all the clothes I brought. I had forgotten how much we wanted to get on the boat . . . now we're very happy to be off of it. It was a little uncomfortable.

Hvar. (September 16.)

Today – Tuesday? – we were in Hvar, the town, on the island of Hvar. I’d like to come back here some day. Even found a hotel . . . the Villa Nora. Sweet!

The town was wonderfully picturesque. We walked up and down the old town. It’s a Venetian era city. That’s kind of interesting because this area used to be known as Illyrium . . . and it was where Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night takes place. We saw Twelfth Night this summer in Seattle with our friends Todd and Linda. I didn’t even know Seattle had a free Shakespeare in the park tradition. But it does. And we finally took advantage.

We spent the afternoon sailing/motoring to Sibonek. I love looking at the sea and scenery as it passes, so I was out on deck for many hours. It was great. It did get kind of chilly once the sun started going down.

Editorial comment: Those Illyrians were everywhere! Why haven't I heard of them? They sound like lovely, peaceful people. I'm embarrassed by my ignorance. Also . . . Hvar is my favorite. I'm going back.

One medieval town after another. (September 20.)

I haven’t been keeping up with this journal . . . so my memories are a bit faded already. Last time I wrote was about Hvar – which I still think is my favorite so far. But we also visited Sibonek and Dubrovnik after that. Dubrovnik is especially appealing at night, when the crowds die down a bit and the whole town is lit up.

Today we’re in Kotor, Montenegro – our first time out of Croatia except for a few kilometers of Bosnia along the road. I’m going to say that Ross and I summitted Montenegro from now on, because we climbed up to the ruined fortress. It must be a mile up. It took an hour to climb. They say there are 1400 steps. It took 45 minutes to get down. It was harder to climb, but scarier coming down. My knees may never forgive me. Thank goodness it wasn’t an overly hot day.

We’ve been doing a lot of fortress climbing. Yesterday we walked around the top of the walls of Dubrovnik. That involved plenty of steps. I believe it’s close to two kilometers of walking. We also canoed in Krka National Park earlier in the week. So this is a much more physically challenging vacation than most cruises we’ve gone on. I’m hoping it means I won’t go home five pounds heavier. But I’ve also been eating a lot of French fries, so I’m not holding my breath.

Editorial comment: I'm still eating the French fries -- and the climbing part of the trip is officially over. Although we did get to the top of the Acropolis today.

Ithaka. (September 23.)

We’re on the Greek island of Ithaka today. Not too many remnants of Odysseus around – but they talk about him a lot. I didn’t realize that many Greek islands around here (Ionian?) were devastated by a 1953 earthquake. So there isn’t much old around here.

For the past two days we’ve been in Albania. It’s pretty sad there. The whole country is hoping to win the lottery. The most memorable thing about Albania is the garbage. They seem to just throw their trash out the window. The second most memorable thing is that they want to become a tourist destination. So they’re building a kajillion hotels—and they’re all empty or in the middle of construction. We kept saying to each other, “Pick up the garbage first, then invite people to come!”
Ross and I did a little kayaking yesterday. In Albania. Huh.

Up to the present. (Now.)

So yesterday we went to Delphi and saw the navel of the world. (Ross noted that the world has an outie.) Climbed to the top there, too.

Then we cruised through the Corinthian canal which was finished in the late 1800s. Before that, they'd unload everything from the boats and cart the boats across the isthmus. I feel like I learned about that in Latin class. Or maybe in Sunday School.

This morning, we landed in Athens and today we "did" the Acropolis, visited the Plaka (old town) and just hung out at the hotel all afternoon. Tomorrow we leave the hotel at 3 a.m. to catch a plane to Frankfurt.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Let's Split!

It feels like we’ve been gone for weeks. We left on Wednesday for Croatia. Stopped in Chicago and Frankfurt. Met up with our friends there and then flew to Split. Slept on the plane . . . so showered and went to dinner when we landed.
The next day we went out to see Diocletian’s palace for a couple of hours on our own. That’s not quite as strange as it sounds, because the palace is really downtown Split. Met the rest of the boat people who came in early and had dinner at the hotel.
This morning we took a 15-minute bus ride to an archeological site – the city of Salona, where we saw a lot of Roman era mausoleums and walls. This afternoon we had the tour of Diocletian’s palace.
Okay . . . now that I’m done with the itinerary, I can move on. If I don’t get that down in writing immediately, I forget everything.
Split is an industrial town, but we’re staying by the beach and we’re only a 15-minute walk from downtown (which is built into the 1700-year-old palace walls). The hotel and beach, complete with gorgeous palm trees, plus the heat and humidity, make me feel like I’m in a tropical paradise. The downtown, with all the high-end boutiques built into the ancient walls make me feel like I’m in Siena. They’re trying to make Split into a tourist destination – and it’s working for me. A lot of the rest of the area is kind of Soviet looking . . . but if you could live and work in Diocletian’s Palace, I think it’d be a cool place to live.
We’ve done our share of walking today. I brought only two pairs of shoes and one of them started giving me blisters yesterday – so I’m glad the other pair worked for me today.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Under water.

Today was the first day of the first-ever Annual Seattle Dragon Boat Festival. My team managed to come in first in our first race. After that . . . it's hard telling how well we did because it's all about the time you make, not your place at the finish line. We raced in two 200-hundred-meter races and one 500-meter.

Then there was the 1,000-meter race. It wasn't a "real" race. It was billed as an exhibition race. While there were 21 teams, only 12 would be in the 1,000-meter race. Our team was one of the twelve. Ouch. Who wants to paddle for -- I don't know -- 5 or 6 minutes if you're really good and 7 if you're not so much?

Our team found a clever way not to paddle for the full thousand meters. Overturn the boat at about 200 meters! Wow, we're smart.

Now, I'm not a swimmer. I hope I didn't panic a whole lot (although I know I panicked a little). My PFD (personal floatation device, the thing formerly known as a "life preserver") did its job and kept my head above water. Oh, I went all the way under, I'll have you know. But getting to the surface was no problem. Getting to the boat and hanging onto my paddle made a lot of sense -- and I did that without much thinking. There were rescue boats close by. I knew that and it helped. I lost a shoe . . . but it floated (!) and someone rescued it. Since I was a known non-swimmer, I got to be the second one into the rescue boat. And it was a nice warm day and the water was fine.

Also, I had brought a change of clothes.

So, other than the inconvenience and embarrassment, it was probably easier than actually paddling my heart out for six or seven minutes.

How'd it happen? We got hit by a wave. If this had been a practice, we probably wouldn't have been oriented in a direction where a wave would broadside us. We'd angle into the waves or maybe go into them head on. I know for a fact we've practiced in much rougher water and didn't have even a close call.

We have at least three more races tomorrow. Call me crazy, but I'll be there!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy birthday, Daddy!

Today is my dad's 96th birthday. He told me all my life that my job was to keep him young in his old age. I have been claiming success for a long time now, and this year is no exception. I’m very proud of my accomplishment!

Today is also the day my dad is saying goodbye to his sister, Ethel. Her funeral is this afternoon. She was 93 years old.

My very earliest memory involves my Aunt Ethel. Here’s how I “remember” it – and if anyone else has a clearer memory of the occasion, chime right in.

We were at my Grandma and Grandpa Hansen’s house, in the living room. My “toy” was going to be Aunt Ethel’s purse. (I was an explorer back then. Had to rummage through everything. Famous for overturning wastebaskets. My dog-faced children take after me.) I was a toddler – meaning, not so steady on my feet. Aunt Ethel’s purse outbalanced me and I sat down flat on my butt. Everyone looked at me, probably to see if I’d cry – and instead I came out with my mother’s favorite expression, “Oh happy day!” They all laughed. I was delighted.

A star is born.

So, here we are. Instead of this post being about Daddy, it’s all about me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Books and food.

I like reading about food almost as much as I like eating. I’ve been talking about a book I finished last week to just about anyone who’ll listen, so I thought I’d recommend it here.

It’s Heat by Bill Buford, a memoir from a guy in his forties who’s been writing for the New Yorker and decides to learn how to cook by apprenticing himself to a famous New York chef (who’s originally from Seattle, by the way). The subtitle is An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

I read books by listening to them – so this one will forever remind me of learning how to ride the bus in Seattle, my new way of commuting. The author has a wonderful, self-deprecating sense of humor that tickled me. I tried hard not to laugh out loud while riding public transportation. He writes like he’s a joke, but he must have taken this very seriously, because he was taken very seriously by the people around him. (Apparently, once you cut up a carrot or chop an onion a thousand times, you get pretty good at it.) He ends up going to Italy several times to get more training – including training as a butcher, which seems like it may be going a little too far, if you ask me.

So if you like cooking, eating, reading and laughing, I can recommend this book. Especially the audio version thereof.

Have you read any good books lately?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Agreement signed.

The realtor just left and we have signed some kind of pre-agreement. So we really are seriously going to sell.


The adventure ahead is just so enticing that I can't be sad for the things we'll be leaving behind. But the people we'll miss is a whole different story. Which is why we're making plans for how we'll come back to Seattle and the rest of the country on a regular basis.

My daydreaming is now about the RV as much as it is about Casa Gecko. I hope that's not a sign that I'm never satisfied . . .

Monday, September 1, 2008


Ross worked very hard today . . . he cut down a tree in our front yard and cleaned up all the dead plants up on our roof deck.

I made dog cookies.

He and I also brought five big bags of stuff to Goodwill. I must be 200 pounds lighter.

Nephew Rick expressed skepticism about us fitting our Seattle house into a motor home. And all I want to say is . . . but you should see my closet!

I understand the question, though. One answer is that we both have electronic books. Plus, we had a LOT of bookshelves put into Casa Gecko. So whatever books we don't give away, we'll bring south and leave there. The piano (and piano books) will go to Mexico, too. Furniture will be sold or given away. Except desks and the futon will be moved to Mexico. Oh, and the big TV and the DVDs go to Mexico.

Yup. That's going to be one big moving van, isn't it?