Thankful

I know it seems like I’m all about grieving over here, and I guess I kind of am. But there are a number of things I’m thankful for this year which I feel need individual acknowledgment.

This year I’m most thankful for…

1. Every moment I had with my mother. No matter how difficult or emotionally heartbreaking, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

2. My aunt Karen who pretty much moved right into my house for nearly a week. Without her there is no way I would have been able to honor my mother’s wish to die at home. Without her teaching me how to care for someone in a bed, I would have had to hire strangers to take care of mom at the end, and I’m so grateful, so INCREDIBLY grateful that Karen’s help allowed me to keep mom at home and be cared for by family and not in a cold hospital bed surrounded by strangers. Karen was a rock and I will be forever grateful for all she did, without me even having to ask. She just called one night and said “why don’t I spend the night,” and then stayed. And for making sure I’m “doing things” and not just wallowing here at the house.

3. My uncle Jimmy and cousin Allison. Without their support of Karen, without their help with things like grocery shopping for popsicles and bringing whatever Karen needed from home, without them stepping up, again without being asked, things would have ended differently. Especially Allison who makes sure to drag me out to lunch on a regular basis. Even if she doesn’t listen for a YEAR when I tell her she’ll love the Kowalskis.

4. My cousin Chris for flying in for mom’s funeral. I wasn’t sure he’d get the time off, but he did, and it meant a lot to me that he was there. Congrats on your promotion!

5. My mom’s best friend of 40 some odd years. When Karen couldn’t stay any longer because she had to work, I called Susie and all I said was “I need help. Can you come?” She was camping in Mammoth that night, and without hesitation said “I’ll leave in the morning.” She drove from Mammoth down to Irvine to pack and then back to my house. She was with me when mom passed away, and I will forever be grateful she was. She was able to help me in ways I’m not even sure my family could have, because they were dealing with their own massive grief. I will always be grateful for Susie’s presence and support that night.

6. Janie and Robbie, my Godparents, for giving me a place to go when I want to run away from home. For treating me like another daughter and just doing normal things while I’m there and not making me feel like I’m a guest. Also, thanks for letting me cuddle the grandbaby Kalea. She’s adorable and will be the wooliest baby in town. LOL I know how hard it is for grandparents to hand over the grandkid, so thanks.

7. Heather for the Day of Kittens.

8. Barbra for the Day of Puppies. (Yes, the same day.)

9. My knitters Barbra, Heather, Amy, Maridee, Kara, Alyson, Robyn Robin (Sorry!), Elizabeth and Thom for being willing to listen no matter what. For not telling me to be quiet because they’re tired of hearing about my craziness. For taking time off from work to come to my mom’s funeral and when I said it wasn’t necessary, all looking at me like I was crazy and replying “Well, of COURSE we’re coming.” Thanks, too, for not vocalizing the implied “you idiot!” For being there through good, bad, and moths.

10. Alyson and Bob. OMG, dudes. You have done SO MUCH for me through the years I can’t even begin to repay you both.

11. Marilyn. For everything. For making me quilts, for taking me on vacation, for making sure I get out of the house once in a while, for volunteering to help me with anything I need help with and for not judging when “my” house isn’t as clean as “mom’s” house. Yes, I cleaned the kitty litter today. *grin*

12. Cynthia for…well…being Cynthia. For giving me space when I ask for it and realizing I’m not snubbing her. I just need space. For the tissues at the graveside and for the herding of people when I needed a few minutes. For listening when I call her crying because of an e-mail and being ready to rip people’s faces off because they made me cry.

13. Nat. My “sister”. She knows why.

14. The Magnolias. When I said I couldn’t review books for a while EVERY ONE OF THEM stepped up and asked what they could do to help. They listened when I wanted to talk, and didn’t even hate me when I made them cry. LOL. Love you, girls!

15. For all the friends I’ve made this year, both online or IRL. You have all made this year so much more bearable. You’ve made me feel like I’m not alone and have entertained me while my life seemed to be out of control. You’ve all kept me busy with new books and have made me laugh on days that truly sucked.

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Grateful Guppy
aka The Fish With Sticks

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Alaska Day 4: Mush! Mush!

My entire family (me, mom, 2 aunts, 2 uncles, and 1 cousin) all took a cruise recently to Alaska. Now that we are home and have a stable internet connection, here are long travelogues from the trip, complete with pictures.

~Lynda

Today was FAN-FREAKIN’-TASTIC. Today was the one excursion I was DYING to go on. The Dog Sled Experience. I had to be on the pier at 7:20 to meet my group, and, once again, no one at Princess or with the tour groups had ANY idea what the heck is going on or where anyone was supposed to be. 

Once on the tram though…

I met Tim. Tim was our driver. He was funny and friendly and made everyone feel comfortable and welcome, and gave the impression he really loved what he does. He picked us up in the tram, and we headed to “base 1.” 

 

Base 1 is the lowest of the area owned by this dog sled group. It is a small camp with pens for the puppies (OMG THE PUPPIES!), a lecture area, and a small gift shop, and a couple of bathrooms. That’s pretty much it.  From there we took this weird vehicle. I never got the name of it, but it looks like all those military transport vehicles you see in movies. You know the ones. Where the Big Evils go and pull back the tarps to reveal the crates of guns, but instead…BIG DAMN HEROES WITH GUNS! Yeah, that. But without the tarps. And OMG was it COLD. So up another 900 feet of altitude, to the next area. 

 

From here we get off the off-road vehicle and get into this thing that looks like a 6-seater dune buggy or golf cart, but without the engine. Attached are 16-17 dogs. SMALL dogs. I KNOW! I was as surprised as you, but these dogs only weighed about 50 pounds or so EACH. My aunt’s Springer is probably larger than these dogs. I KNOW my uncle’s Goldens are. But these dogs just whipped us around like we weighed nothing. And they did it laughing. These dogs wanted nothing more than to RUN FAST! RUN FAR! CAN WE PULL SOMETHING?? HUH?? HUH?? CAN WE?? PLEEEEEEEEEEASE?????

 

After the run, we got to meet our dogs, and they were beautiful, and you could see such personality in their eyes. I do have to say, though…it was FREEZING!!!! And after the ride up the hill, I was already cold, so this didn’t help. LOL. 

 

Once back down the road, again freezing my butt off, we got to hear one of the women talk about the Iditerod and what equipment they’re all required to carry, and what the dogs eat, how often they rest, etc. I also got to “meet” an Iditerod veteran. He was very sweet and willing to pose for pictures.

And then the puppies. OMG THE PUPPIES!!!! SO FREAKIN’ CUTE. They were about 8 weeks old, and into EVERYTHING. If they could reach it and bite it, they were gonna keep it, even if they had to pull it off you to do so. LOLOL. At one point I had a dog chewing on each leg of my jeans. LOL. They were adorable, though. The whole litter (5? 6? of them) were named after chess pieces. So we had Rook, Bishop, Knight, King, and (the only girl) Queen. I think that’s all of them. I may have missed one in the OMG THE PUPPIES!!!! frothing. 

 

Here’s Tour Guide Tim with one of the puppies.

On the way back to the ship, I saw a few interesting things. One is this street sign. Apparently when you pay for a street in Alaska, you get to  name it. This one was done years ago, and, unbelievably, the sign isn’t stolen that often!

Then a little bit farther down the road we saw this guy. All I could think was how much he looked like Sam the Eagle. LOL 

I was back on the ship by about 11:00. We waited around and all went to lunch, then back to the cabin for a well-deserved nap. 

Once again we ate in “our” dining room (Bernini) and once again I’m kind of unimpressed. The selection is decent, they have interesting things, and the wait staff is unparalleled, but the problem is almost everything has nuts (which will kill me) or chicken (which will make me wish I had eaten the nuts). Tonight was the spaghetti & meatballs which was okay. Liked the pasta at Sabatini’s so much better. After dinner it was another pina colada for me, and back to the room for a bit.

The ORIGINAL plan was for Aunt K and Uncle J and Uncle Dr J to meet us in front of the Vista Lounge for this song and dance muscial thing. Sounded like fun! Until…Aunt K called our cabin and said something to mom about Cousin A falling getting out of the jacuzzi and she had to go to medical. That was it. All we heard. So Uncle Dr J and mom and I went on to Vista ALLLL the way at the very end of the ship. Our rooms are near the FRONT of the ship. It was a long hike…only to find out there was no second performance of the show. 

Greaaaat. I called Uncle J and Aunt K and Cousin A’s room, but no answer, so I left a message and we went on to the comedy show…which was in the Princess Theater…2 floors directly under our stateroom. *sigh* He was funnier than I expected, even though he, like most male comedians, think the best jokes are centered around dicks or Viagra.

We cut out a few minutes before the end, because we knew from experience if we didn’t get to the elevator right away we’d be there for another half hour at least. When we got back to the room, I called Cousin A’s room, but no answer, so I left a message for them to call no matter what time. I called down to Medical and she said she left a few minutes ago.

I hang up the phone, and it rings immediately. My Aunt K. Apparently my Cousin, Miss Grace herself, was getting out of the jacuzzi and walking down the wooden stairs next to it, when she tripped or slipped or something on the last step. Now, for most people, this wouldn’t be a problem, but she managed to step on something and slice open the bottom of her toe, scrape up a few other toes, and even break one of them. Two days before she’s supposed to go salmon fishing. LOL. She’s mobile and okay, which is why I can mock her mercilessly.

But you can bet her mother, who broke her foot on the last cruise they went on together, will have one or two things to say to her as payback for all the rude comments and lack of sympathy Cousin A gave Aunt K back then. LOL

Okay, it’s now 11:30 and I have to get up at 5:45. *gulp* Glacier Bay tomorrow, so it’ll be worth it, but still…5:45!!! AM!!!! That’s MORNING!!!!!! I’m so glad I bought an extra Diet Dr Pepper the other day. It’s gonna be one of those mornings. LOL.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Fish Out Of On The Water
aka Fish With Sticks 

Alaska Day 1: Bon Voyage

My entire family (me, mom, 2 aunts, 2 uncles, and 1 cousin) all took a cruise recently to Alaska. Now that we are home and have a stable internet connection, here are long travelogues from the trip, complete with pictures.

~Lynda

Today, a day of travel, has been an excruciatingly long day, and it’s only 5:30 pm. LOL

It started out with my alarm at 3:45 in the morning. Any day that begins HOURS before the sun rises is sure to be long. LOL Luckily mom and I had packed, and packed well, and were on the road by 5:30…exactly when we said we would. We met Aunt J and Uncle Dr J at the airport. I was worried my luggage was going to be WAY over weight, as it felt really heavy, but when Uncle Dr J took it out of the car, he commented on how light it was. Turns out: 37 pounds. WHOO HOO! We had to laugh when we got to the dock, though, because we thought we lost mom’s suitcase. Turned out it was so small we couldn’t see it behind everyone else’s.

We got the wheelchair for mom, and headed to the gate. These airline escorts go through that place like they’re in a race! Cousin A upgraded herself to first class…the brat…Mom, Aunt J and I were on one side of the aisle, and Uncle Dr J was in the window seat across from us. Uncle J (not to be confused with Uncle Dr J) and Aunt K were WAAAAAY in the back.

The flight was uneventful, and then…SeaTac. Ahh, SeaTac. How I loathe you so. It took a couple long walks, and 2 stops on a train, and then another LOOOONG walk before we were able to find the taxi stand. 

Next dilemma: 7 people…8 large suitcases…6 decent sized carryons…and a Prius taxi. Umm…No. So we got them to send a Yellow Cab van, and while I wouldn’t want to take a road trip this way, it wasn’t bad. From the airport we headed to a state-run liquor store for the booze. Unfortunately, it’s May 26 and on June 1 Washington is doing away with state-run liquor stores and allowing the grocery stores to carry hard liquor. So…no one has any. LOL We got some wine and some gin at the liquor store, then headed to a Safeway for the beer. Cousin A emptied out 2 large water bottles and filled them with the gin. *grin* That’s one water bottle you DON’T want to gulp from. At some point we started referring to it as the Holy Water. 

Check in on the ship was relatively smooth. Aunt J and Uncle Dr J have the room next to us, and we had our Stateroom Steward, the fabulous Rosalie, open up the door between the balconies. We’ve Mustered ourselves (security lecture/life-preserver lessons), obtained our souvenir glasses for our drink packages, and we’ve been to the cafe for a little snack. By that time it was 4:00 and the last thing we ate was breakfast sandwiches at 6:30 am. We were STARVED.

Everyone’s in their own staterooms now. Mom’s napping on the sofa. We have the sliding door open and the water is beautiful. We’re still within sight of land, and I believe we will be most of the night. Well, I’m off to nap for about a half hour before we have to get ready to go to dinner. 

Later: Crown Grill for Dinner.

Next Up: A day at sea. Should be wonderful and relaxing. I can’t wait.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Fish With Sticks
aka Fish Out of On the Water

Won’t Do That Again

I went out of town on a family trip on Friday, and, despite having had only 3 hours of sleep total spread over the previous 36 hours, I took my knitting out of my bag that night at the hotel. My BEADED LACE SHAWL that I had spent the last month knitting. The one that is my favorite piece of lace so far. And even KNOWING not to knit lace when tired. And KNOWING I probably wasn’t going to knit it that night. And KNOWING better than to PUT IT ON THE BED, I did it anyway.

I took it out.

I put it on the bed.

I went to sleep.

I forgot about it.

I got up the next morning.

I packed.

and I checked out of the hotel.

Now, when I say I know better, I’m not kidding. A little over three years ago my mom was hand-appliqueing a garment for a show for our friend Rachel Clark. Mom had it in a cream colored cloth bag, and when we got some tragic news, she missed the bag when we were throwing things in suitcases to race home, and it got left behind. The housekeeping staff also didn’t see it when they grabbed the sheets. Unfortunately, it was over a week before my mom noticed it was gone, and by then it was GONE Gone. Never to be found again, even though the hotel and staff diligently searched. Ever since then, we’ve both been SUPER careful about taking things to bed in a hotel room. And when I got up at 5:00 am on Saturday morning, and took out my Kindle, I thought about mom’s garment. I know how upset she was and how she’s never had the heart to try and recreate it. So I really DO know better.

After breakfast, we drove around town for a while before we actually hit the road. When we pulled off the road to take a quick picture before hitting the town limits, I decided to hop out and get my knitting, since it was going to be a long drive to the next town.

OMG. It’s not there. I’m sure my mother saw the panic in my eyes when I turned to her and said “My Little Mermaid…it’s not here!!!” Panic. Took everything out of the knitting bag. Took everything out of my purse. Rifled through my suitcase. Not here. Not here! NOT HERE!!!!

We turn around and head back to town. I call the hotel right away, and they check with housekeeping. Anna, the head of housekeeping looks around, but doesn’t see it. I ask if I can come and check myself. Absolutely! My uncle stops for gas, and my mom, aunt and I hop out and start systematically searching the van and luggage. If I can find it, we won’t have to go all the way back.

Front seat? No.

Knitting bag? No.

Purse? No.

My suitcase? Mom’s suitcase? No and No.

The back of the van? Backseat of the van? Under the seats?

No. No. No.

Still panicking, we head over to the hotel. Anna comes downstairs and meets me and mom and takes us back up to our room to search. We walk in and Serena is in the middle of cleaning the room. Anna asks her if she found anything in the room?

Oh, yeah, she says. A little drawstring bag with some knitting in it? And a pouch with charts? Yeah, it was in the bed. I tagged it and took it downstairs. It should be sitting on Anna’s desk.

I cannot possibly tell you how relieved I was. I was practically giddy with it. Aside from the cost of the yarn and beads, it is a gorgeous piece of knitting and the time and emotional investment I already had in the piece was not inconsequential.

So I’m THRILLED to have it back in my possession, and a letter to the management of the hotel about the wonderful staff will be written.

And, Greg, if this was you? NOT. FUNNY.

Okay, a little funny.

But not yesterday.

Signed,
Lynda the Guppy
Aka The Fish With Sticks
Aka The Guppy Who Learned Her Lesson