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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in Ivy's LiveJournal:

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    Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
    9:01 pm
    What I did on my summer vacation (or why I've not been around and omg, so much has happened)
    I think I'm back.

    So much has happened this summer. Part of me was thinking of doing several posts talking about each big thing, but I have a feeling that would only interest me. Enough time has passed that I think many of the Big Events have been condensed in my memory that I can give salient points and the big picture, without being too bogged down in minutia.

    I guess the biggest thing that happened this summer is that we moved. Not very far, just a town over; actually we're less then a mile from the border of the old town, so really not far (4 miles?). The old place (which we loved, mind you) was raising our rent, and Sky was going to be moving off to college, so we decided that it was time. I figure this is good practice for our Two Year Plan, which, I guess, in a way, is starting now, since the next move will likely be in two years, when Winter is done with school.

    The thing about the move is that we did it in less than a month. That's less than a month from when we got word that our rent was being raised and we thought, "Hmm, maybe we should move" to when we were no longer living in our old place.

    The whole month was a whirlwind. Went something like this: They raised our rent. We decided to move. We spent three days looking. Found a place. I went to a Star Trek convention thingy and had a great time. I came back. We said "we'll take This One" and told the old place we were leaving. They asked if we could be out two weeks earlier as they had someone who would take the place. We said okay. We started packing. Decided that we would use the money we saved (by getting out early) to hire movers. I went to Carson City (with my friend and fellow curler, Carol) to watch our curling team's skip get married (what an adorable couple, much fun at the wedding). Got back and packed. Three days later we started moving things into the new place. Two days after that the movers did their thing and we started sleeping in the new place. A little more than a week later we were finally out. Our last day was a Friday. There were people at our house for Game Night and I was taking Sky and some friends to Orange County to see Bob Dylan (I didn't see the show, just drove). Got back home, dropped everyone off and went back to the old place to help Scott put the finishing touches on it. The whole thing was rather nerve-wracking actually.

    I love my idea of the Two Year Plan. The one part I'm not looking forward to at all, however, is the moving every two years. We really need to get rid of massive amounts of stuff if we have any hopes of making it work.

    So, Saturday morning, bright and early, we gave back our keys. Then on Monday, Sky and I went to Santa Cruz for Freshman Orientation. We drove up the scenic route and had a lovely time. Tuesday was the orientation and Sky got to enroll in classes and talk to people. She also had a very long meeting with the Disability Resource Center and got services all set up, so all in all, a really good day. The problem came in the middle of the night when I suddenly was very sick. My guess is something to do with the heat? I don't know, I just know I was really really sick.

    This made the drive on Wednesday not a lot of fun. But drive we did. From Santa Cruz we drove to the new place (about a five/six hour drive), where we picked up Scott, Winter, our friend Robynne, and our other friend Barry (Hereville) Deutsch and drove to San Diego (another three/four hours) for ComicCon. If I'd been feeling better, I think I would've enjoyed it a lot more than I did. The drive I mean.

    Normally I do multiple posts about Con. I'm not going to do that this time. Instead you get a mini report:

    Scott deemed this year one of the forgettable ones. It wasn't bad, just not much exciting happened. I don't completely agree. I had three things happen, that I think I'll remember for a very long time:

    Thing One: I had someone come up to me to say hi. Someone I only knew because she's commented on this blog. She made my day by being; A) a cool person: she was even wearing my favorite Scott Pilgrim shirt! (Favorite as in of the several I own it's my favorite) in fact I'd almost worn it that day (I wondered if she was aware that Mal- Bryan Lee O'Malley- walked up to our group while we were talking.) And B) actually excited to meet me, and called herself a fan! This was seriously cool. Thank you.

    Thing Two: Kathy Li, Sky and I were sitting around talking. I seem to spend quite a bit of my time at Con sitting and talking to Kathy Li (I was ego surfing the other day and found a comment Kathy had posted on UserNet that if you wanted to find her at Con, just look for me, since we'd likely be together: that comment was over a decade old!). Aaaanyway, we were, as is our want, reminiscing about Cons gone by, and someone overheard us and asked if she could interview us for the ComicCon website. We said sure! And so we were. I have no idea what we sounded like, if we came off looking dorky or great or what. I don't know if they got anything they want to/will use. I haven't really looked (too afraid, honestly). But I can pretend that they used it, and it was a lot of fun being interviewed, so yay us!

    Thing Three: Well, actually, I'm not going to tell you thing three. Thing three was a panel that I went to. It makes much too good a story and is far too long for me to go into here. Plus, if I told it, I would be being not too nice to someone I don't know, and that seems yucky to me. When I tell people that I went to the panel, they look horrified and ask if I'm crazy. But see, the thing is, I got to see it! Now, I get to regale people with the story of a panel that I will not soon forget. If you see me in person, and are actually interested, I will be glad to give you my interpretation of said unforgettable panel.

    I spent most of Con at panels this year, and I think they were again pretty much all comics related. The only one I remember that wasn't ALL comics was the GLBT X-Men panel, which was mostly about the comic, but had the writer of First Class there as well. That was a great panel. Wish I'd not missed as much of it as I did.

    So that was Con: The Short Version. I've left out lots of stuff (Seeing Captain America with Larry Marder, Charles Brownstien, and their friend who I really liked, but who's name I've misplaced, the fantastic Scholastic Book party, seeing panels, friends, meals... so many other things). Not the most memorable Con, but lots of fun anyway.

    We got home from Con on Monday night, and on Wednesday night, Winter and I took the redeye to NYC where she turned 16 on the first of August.

    For her birthday I was going to do a whole long post about her oh-so-memorable-birth, about what my family did for our 16th birthdays', and why, and about what Winter and I did in NYC. But I'm keeping this short, so: Winter and I went to New york. We were there for about a week. We saw some friends. My sister joined us for a few days and we did a memorial thing for our other sister. And mostly, Winter and I saw shows. We saw: Catch Me if You Can, Billy Elliot, Fantasticks, and Wicked. Winter's favorite was Catch Me if You Can, possibly because that one was a total surprise to her, she had no idea what it was about, whereas she'd seen some sort of version of all the others. Except for Wicked she stood at the stage door and managed to get a picture of herself and whoever had been her favorite performer in each show. As celebrations go, I think it was a success. I know I had a blast.

    When we got home on Wednesday, it was to the new apartment, unlike the rest of the family, I'd only spent a handful of nights there, it was somewhat disconcerting. We threw a housewarming party a week and a piece later on a Friday.

    On the following Tuesday the apartment finally got internet (too long a story for this post). Later that day, Scott and I were gone again (did you notice that I managed to take a trip with every single member of my family, as well as one with all of us and one by myself. I didn't notice till I wrote this. That's pretty cool). This time off to Australia!

    Australia was a blur of a trip. We left here late Tuesday night, arrived there Thursday morning (no Wednesday for us!). Luckily we bumped into Jim and Mary Woodring in the airport. We got spend time with them, something we haven't done in a very long time. They'd been to Australia before and knew some things to do. Which is how we wound up on a ferry to Manly Beach. I know this shouldn't have amused me, but it really did. Especially the Manly Fast Ferry (which we did not take), and before I figured out that we were going to a place called Manly Beach. (yes, I am twelve).

    We had a great time wandering around Manly Beach with Jim and Mary. After we got back the four of us found some dinner nearby. Friday, Scott and I spent with just us. We wound up walking through the gardens (amazing. And the bats. I love bats. They were beyond awesome), then to an art museum that we spent several hours at. Scott had several interviews and then there was a dinner with all the speakers.

    The dinner was in one of the restaurants in the Sydney Opera House. And that is where we spent the rest of our trip to Australia. Seriously. We had dinner in the very nice restaurant. The festival was Saturday and Sunday. Scott did a workshop in the conference type room (gorgeous room) on Saturday, then we went to as many things as we could. Scott did his lecture on Sunday. Both of Scott's things were wonderful, but then that's not surprising. Seeing as many other people talk as we could means that we got to see something in everyone of the five theatres in the Opera House. We never did get the tour (so we'll have to come back) but we heard lots of stories. We even got to hang out in the green room (omg, is that huge!).

    It was a great weekend, lots of cool people, really interesting talks, music, art, I can't say enough good things about it. I'm so glad we got to go.

    Sadly, since Scott has a book to draw, we didn't have any extra time to spend, so we left bright and early Monday morning (getting back home several hours before we left).

    Winter started back to school two days later (the girls did not come with us to Australia, maybe next time). It was a frantic rush to make sure that she had everything she needed.

    I spent the next few weeks driving Winter to school and then driving Sky places so that she could say goodbye to everyone and acquire all she needed for living away from home. Sky and I had adventures: We took a sunset sailboat ride, we spent a day at a museum, we watched movies, and Sky had going away events. There was one for Game Night, one for my folks and one for her friends. Then, this past week, we picked Winter up right after school on Thursday, got three of Sky's friends (including her boyfriend), Scott, Sky and I and all seven of us drove up to Santa Cruz together. Once there we met up with Sky's best friend, Kendra, who's also going to UCSC, and her dad. We moved the girls in, toured the campus, met a professor (and fan of Scott's), had food and said goodbye. Our friend Robynne was also in town, so we got to see her as well. Of the seven in the car that I'd taken up, only Sky and I had ever been to the school, so we enjoyed showing the others things. Kendra's dad was an alumni of UCSC so he got to play tour guide.

    We drove up on Thursday, spent Friday getting the girls settled in, all had breakfast together Saturday morning (there were 12 of us since Sky's roommates joined), and then had two tearful goodbyes. It was all rather sad. We drove home Saturday afternoon sans Sky, though we still had three of her friends.

    That was Saturday. Sunday I spent with my mom and Winter. Yesterday I didn't do much of anything (well, I did do a bit of the bills that needed doing...). My doctor is concerned about my blood pressure, so I've been going in for BP tests. had one last week, one yesterday and another tomorrow. Next week I meet with the doctor and he gets to tell me that I'm fine, really.

    And today. Today I spent writing this post. No seriously. That's about all I did. Sorry it's so long. I honestly left stuff out, I forgot all about my brother and his family coming to town and what we did, I didn't talk about all the movies I saw (I think X-Men First Class wins as I saw it at least four times), and so many other things. But, I'm back now.

    That. Is what I did on my summer vacation.

    It's somehow quieter without Sky around, and I miss her. We listened to Wait..Wait...Don't Tell Me on our way back from dropping Sky off at school. There were a few jokes that I laughed at and looked to Sky, since they were ones that pinged back to conversations we'd had, and she wasn't there. Even though there were five other people in the van, none of them got the jokes. In that moment, it started to sink in. This is my first child to leave home. I'm surprisingly okay with it, but then again, I think I've not processed it all yet.

    I'm sure there was more to say, but this has gone on far long enough. I promise that the next post's wait and length will not be nearly as long.

    I've missed you all.
    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
    6:54 pm
    Hi! I'm not really here!
    Ok, so I'm at Starbucks.

    We've moved. I've done all sorts of traveling and have all sorts of cool things I want to write about, but...

    I don't do well in Starbucks. Music is too loud I can't think. Then there are the two girls (girls as in young 20s?) that have been talking non stop since I got here (boys/relationships/omg they are so young...or I'm so old...).

    We STILL don't have internet. It is kinda driving me crazy but I've spent hours on the phone with people and we should (I hope) be getting online finally on Tuesday. Just in time for Scott and I to fly off to Australia. No, really just in time. We get hooked up in the morning and fly out in the evening. Hence, there is no way that I'll officially be back until after we get back from Australia. *sigh*

    The reason I'm breaking radio silence (however briefly) is because I thought this would be the best way to get ahold of everyone.

    We are throwing what is likely, with such short notice, to be a rather lame House Warming this Friday. And I have very few of the addresses I wanted to get the word out. If you are a friend, local, want to come, and didn't get an invite, then GET ME YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS! I will send you out my invite email asap. Or call me and I'll tell you all you need to know.

    The important part is that it's this Friday the 12th. My god, that's in two days. What were we thinking. Yes, we are clueless. I blame the lack of internet. Really.

    For those that are not local or can't make it, or, you know, not really friends who would come to our house and stuff, watch this spot sometime after August 22nd and there will be cool stories and movie reviews and news and whatever else you're used to seeing on my blog.

    Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
    10:11 pm
    I'm not yet dead
    I got a call today from a friend who wanted to know if I was still alive.

    I have spent the last several weeks telling Scott that I really need to have some time to write a blog post. I have written so many in my head, and I have so much to say, but, I have ABSOLUTELY NO TIME! NONE.

    But I couldn't take it anymore, so, shhh, while Scott's at work, I'm going to quickly let you know that I'm alive and that life is more hectic than I can remember it ever being.

    The biggest news is that we are moving. Not far. [eta: this is where there was supposed to be a discussion of The Two Year Plan. I'm looking at this as the first step. Winter has two years left of high school, so this is the first of the two year moves. Next move, in two years: Alaska! (well, that's the plan anyway...) but there was not time to write about that. Maybe next post.] If you're a Game Night regular you'll need to get the new addy from us. When we actually move, I'll do a Game Night mailing and attempt to do a change of address emailing as well.

    Our lease here was about to be up, they raised the rent, and we realized that, with Sky off to college, we didn't really need a third bedroom. So we are moving to a smaller place a bit closer to the school. On the second floor (which I like).

    The new place is available on July 6th and our lease ends on August 2nd. The original plan was to take most of the month to slowly move in. But the development we're in now has someone interested in the apartment already, and would like us out sooner. That means we save enough money that we can, hopefully, hire movers to help! Yay.

    Here's what my July now looks like:

    • This weekend I'm off to a wedding in Nevada. Get back home on Sunday.

    • Monday, July 4th, the normal picnic/concert/fireworks in the park with the kids and my mom. (if you are local and want to join, let me know so that there's enough food)

    • Wednesday we have access to the new place and the move starts.

    • One week and a few days later (Friday) we need to be out of the old place and fully into the new.

    • That same day, Sky has tickets to see Bob Dylan somewhere not here, so I need to drive her there.

    • That Monday I drive Sky to UCSC for orientation on Tuesday.

    • Wednesday we drive back home from SC, pick up Scott and Winter, without stopping, and get ourselves to San Diego for ComicCon.

    • CON!

    • Home that Monday.

    • Wednesday, Winter and I leave for NYC for her 16th birthday trip.

    We get back after August starts. Meanwhile, in addition to all of the above, Winter is going to Summer school and Sky is getting ready to move out.

    In other news. I went to an ENT yesterday to have my throat looked at. Turns out I have two things wrong with it. First; I have callouses on my vocal cords, evidently caused by the fact that I talk too much. Well, too "animatedly". The other problem is a reflux problem that's irritated my cords as well. Oh, and then there's the fact that my glands are all swollen, but she didn't tell me why. What this all means is that I'm not supposed to do much talking for the next several weeks. If I do talk, I need to talk calmly and quietly. I also need to not eat for three hours before I go to sleep, and I need suck lemons for the glands. If you know me, you know how awful all of this is.

    If I see you at Comic Con, please don't be offended if I don't shout hi and be all enthusiastic when I see you, it's not that I'm not enthused, it's just that I'm not allowed.

    Scott got back hours ago, we had dinner, I finished laundry and then I finished this post. Scott has been cleaning and packing and stuff, and I really need to go help. I will try to post before another month goes by, but under the circumstances, I'm not promising...
    Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
    1:52 pm
    Yes. I am still alive. Been awhile, hasn't it?
    I hadn't wanted to post again until I'd answered all the comments and email that I've gotten of late, but I've not come close to doing that. I was just getting started catching up, when I got word that my sister passed, and I've really not done anything since. I'm sorry. I think I'm up to starting again now, and in the next week or so I hope to reply to most of it.

    I want to thank everyone for the kind words, the emails, the Facebook comments, the phone calls, the cards, etc, since my last post. I think I'll let this suffice as a thank you for all of them. I can't begin to tell you how much it all meant to me.

    I'm still a bit numb. Don't think I've made my peace with it all yet, but I expect that that is something that takes a lot of time.

    Life goes on.

    What I really want to do right now, is spend all my time reading. I love to escape into stories. I don't read fast, so there's always far more that I want to read than time to read it in. I only mention this because I'm in a headspace where, if left to my own devices, I would be doing nothing but read. I hadn't realized how much I use that to escape. Life gets bad/sad/whatever, and I want to read.

    Or go to the movies.

    Sky and I went to the midnight showing of Pirates last Thursday. I loved it. I adore Jack as a character, but this was my favorite Jack yet. My spoiler free review: There were places in the movie when I had no idea what was going to happen next. That rarely happens to me, I usually can predict where things will go. I could predict many things, but there were places where I could see it going different ways and didn't know which direction they would head and there were times when I just didn't see THAT coming. I like being surprised. I saw it at midnight. There was one scene when I found my self drifting and was afraid that I would fall asleep, but it was a fight scene early on, and shortly after that it got interesting and I wasn't close to dozing again. We got home after 3am and I was still awake and thinking about the movie.

    For those who've been to the Disney ride many times, yet again, there is stuff for us to get excited about. And, like the others, you should stay until after the credits if you want to see everything.

    Scott was just getting back from NYC on Thursday night, so he opted out. He's still not seen the third movie and decided that he should see it first (we own it, but, somehow Scott's not seen it). Which means that I get to see it again with Scott. I will see if I like it as much the second time.

    The whole Pirates saga is cowritten by Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot. I've met Terry a few times. He's a friend of a friend. I figure I should mention that, since it could be considered a conflict of interests. It isn't. I like him, but I don't know him all that well. And besides, I'd never say I liked something I didn't because I knew the author. I would be much more likely to not say anything then lie. Luckily, I really like Terry's work so no problem there.

    I know lots and lots of writers. I thought, when I was younger, that I would know lots and lots of actors and directors and things, but, no, not really. I mostly know writers. This is because of Scott, not me, of course. I do know a lot of writers and directors in local theatre. I go to the theatre and there's a good chance someone involved in the show in someway will know me. But that's all community theatre. Not as well known as the people I know because of Scott.

    I mention this because I've been thinking of my geek status lately, and whether I have one or not. I think it was Heidi who did a piece not too long ago about actresses talking up being geeky because it was now in fashion. It got me thinking. One of the things that they were making fun of was people claiming geek status because they were a fan of Star Wars. I've frequently claimed that, so it made me worry.

    Okay, I know this is silly, but I've been thinking of this a whole lot lately. I think I qualify for geek status. Fist of all, when I say that I was a fan of Star Wars, I don't mean that I saw it in the theatres three times like most of the world did. Everyone saw it at least three times that year. I saw it 15. In the theatre. First time I saw it was the day it opened in Washington DC when it was still in the limited release. I swear (I've argued with people who worked on it, but I still say they're wrong and I'm right) that the version I saw that first time was not the same as the one I saw the next week when it went into wide release. I know for a fact that what we saw then, in 1977, is not what is available now. There have been all sorts of changes. I not only saw the movie 15 times, I read the novelization and at least another book after that. I loved that movie. I had t-shirts, buttons, posters, you name it.

    I don't think I've ever enjoyed a movie as much. Didn't love the sequels. Any of them really. Saw them all anyway.

    Today is the anniversary of that first showing. Wow. I saw it for the first time 34 years ago today.

    But my geekdom doesn't end there. Today is also Towel Day. It commemorates the life and death of Douglas Adams. He died 10 years ago. Which means I saw him a little over 10 years ago, since I had seen a lecture of his a few months before he died. I was a fan of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy back when no one in America had heard of it. I was living in England when the second book came out. The albums were being played on the Pirate Radio and I fell in love. By the time I'd left London, I owned both books, both albums, had seen the TV show(? not sure about the timing on that) and had met Mr. Adams twice at two different signings. Maybe it was three books by the time I left. All of my copies are the British editions since that's how I started, and I hated that tongue sticking out thing on the the American books.

    Have I earned my Geek credit yet? Or should I bring up Who. See, I was a huge fan of The Good Doctor way back in the '70s. My first doctor was Tom Baker. Watched the show religiously. In college a group of us would watch together. It would be years before I realized that Douglas Adams was writing some of the episodes that I was loving.

    And now, I know someone who just wrote one of the best Dr Who episodes ever. You all did see Neil (Gaiman, for those of you new to my blog)'s episode, right? It was awesome. I am so loving Matt Smith's Doctor and his companions have won my heart many times over. And Neil's episode was funny and creepy and sad and thought provoking and heartwarming and just a little scary. It could only have been written by someone who loved the show as much as we do. I am so lucky that when people I know write things they are really good at it. I don't have to lie or pretend, I just get to enjoy! Then I get to say nice things about people I like. Win win.

    And what would an Ivy post be without mentioning Sherlock, the newest show I'm obsessed with: Kudos to them for winning two BAFTAs! Martin Freeman is so my hero. And you know he's going to be The Hobbit, right? (and omg, just look at who else is in that movie!) I've seen every LotR movie the day it hit the theatres. I am so very excited to see The Hobbit when it comes out next year!

    (And if you haven't seen Sherlock yet, WHY NOT?! Haven't I told you you should enough times yet?)

    So, what do you think? Can I call myself a geek?

    And does it hurt or help that one of the movies I'm most looking forward to for this year is the new Muppet Movie? (which, as far as I'm aware, is NOT written by anyone I know)
    Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
    10:29 am
    An update
    I thought you would all like to know: my sister Pammy passed away this morning.

    I'm still a bit numb. I knew it was coming, but it still hurts. There seems to have been an awful lot of death this week...

    My plans for today had been to catch up on answering all the comments from the last several posts. There are many comments, and I thank you all for that. I only made it half way through the post that went up before the trip. I have a lot of catching up to do.

    Tomorrow I'm having lunch with Sky, so I only have the morning, but if I'm feeling up to it, I'll try. Please know that I read everything, even if it takes me ages to comment back.

    And I thank you all.
    Tuesday, May 10th, 2011
    2:37 pm
    The other happy bread, or at least peaceful bread. My week: part 3
    The rest of my trip doesn't read nearly as well as the first two parts. (for those interested: Part one is here. Part 2 is here.)

    After we visited with Pammy, we took a Megabus to Rhode Island where Holly and her partner live. On Wednesday Holly, Mom and I drove around RI, ate at an adorable diner, the likes of which are only seen in the east, and watched Youtube vids of Willowbrook. Holly and I took a nice walk near the ocean. It was a reflective sort of day.

    Late afternoon/early evening, I took off for Boston. This was the first part of the trip that I was alone for.

    I went to Boston mostly to visit with my friend Alice. Alice recently bought and moved into a condo. She had been there just shy of one month when she walked outside during a storm, slipped on some black ice and shattered her hip. Really shattered. They thought there were nine breaks, but when they operated they decided it was more like 12 or 15. Despite being the same age as me, they say she has the bones of a 72 year-old.

    This was a few months ago now. She's been home for awhile, but mostly housebound. I felt awful that I'm no longer in the area and haven't made it out to help in any way.

    Maybe it was for the best, since I didn't really help at all. She's doing much better now. I was there from Wednesday night to Saturday and mostly all I did was hang out and chat. Alice is doing so well we even managed to walk to a restaurant on Friday night for dinner.

    Getting to Alice was an adventure since I'd not been there before, wasn't sure what I was doing, and had lots of bags. It would have been a piece of cake, but... my iPhone's battery was running out. I was so afraid it would go and I'd have to beg someone to let me in to charge my phone enough to use the map or call or something. Luckily it held out and I made it there safe and sound.

    I made a few trips on my own while I was staying with Alice. I went to lunch on Thursday with two friends of mine who knew each other online, but had not met before. It was fun and geeky. When we were done with lunch, one of them offered me a ride to help me find a CVS that I could get my drugs at. This turned out to be much more difficult that we thought it would be (finding a CVS that had a pharmacy and parking was not easy). She then gave me a ride back to Alice's but by then it was rush hour, so I got back much later than I'd expected. It was fun having the time to catch up, would've been nicer if it wasn't so stressful. I did manage to get me a Chocolate Kreme Donut (which are my favorite ever). Sadly there was only one left, so I had to bring home something much more boring to Alice.

    I felt bad about that, so the next day I had my Dunkin' Donut Excursion. I seem to have these. They are much more fun in the retelling than in the actual living.

    This one started out simple enough. There was a DD across from the T-station about half a mile or so away. No problem. I'm a slow walker and there are hills so it takes me maybe fifteen minutes. I get there, and there are no Chocolate Kreme filled. There is no point to getting Dunkin' Donuts if there is no Chocolate Kremes. I called Alice to tell her and get directions to the next closest shop. This is the Boston area. There are Dunkin' Donuts everywhere.

    The next closest was about a mile away on the same road. So I headed there (well, I went a block or two in the wrong direction first, but we're not going to mention that). It took longer to get there, but get there I did. That Friday was a particularly hot day. I was really glad to get to the shop. And they were a good one! Chocolate Kreme Filled achieved! There were 5 of them. I bought a dozen donuts and started with all five of the CKs. So, now I was at the donut shop, I had a big box of donuts and at least a mile to walk and it was really hot out.This was the hardest part. Decided to let the phone pick my route, because I knew there might be a shorter way than the way I had come, and there was!

    So, I began the trudge back. It was hot. I was hot. It was now around noon and there was no shade. I'd (stupidly) left without eating or drinking anything that morning. I was not doing well. On the plus side, my phone was sending me home a different route so I was seeing more of the neighborhood.

    It was about then that Ivy's-Stupid-Luck kicked in. My phone went dead. It had been too bright for me to see that the power bar was in the red, so I was surprised by this turn of events. I reigned in my panic, but it was a near thing; A) I wasn't sure what was wrong with the phone, could've been anything. I was so afraid it was kaput. I was envisioning what I'd need to do to get a new one and how much I really didn't want one. B) I wasn't completely sure where I was. I knew what the next direction had been, but I was on all new streets. I was pretty sure that I was about to be somewhere that I'd recognize, but not positive. C) I was fighting that sense you get when you're about to black out. Or maybe it's just me. I get that way. If I'm too hot, too dehydrated, too hungry. And I really needed to pee. It starts with tunnel vision and dizziness. And without a phone or map and not sure where I was going. Not the best part of my vacation.

    When I got to the next street, I did recognize it, and I was only a couple of blocks away from Alice. Climbing the stairs to her place I felt so much like the Engine Who Could, repeating over and over, "you can do it, you can do it..." And I did. I grabbed some water, went to the bathroom, flopped onto the floor and laughed until I knew I wouldn't pass out. It was very funny.

    Then we ate donuts, and lets face it, that is by far the best part of any Donut Acquiring Mission.

    That night we walked to a pub for dinner. I figured I'd gotten my week's worth of exercise that day. And I had Chocolate Kreme filled donuts for brunch and stuffed shrimp for dinner (can't get either around here), so it was an awesome day.

    I forced Alice to see all of Sherlock. I've mentioned that here, right? Sherlock? You need to see it. It's the show I'm pimping the most right now. I, um, won't tell you how many times I've seen the three episodes already, and have plans to watch them all again soon. Yes. Much much love there. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Benedict Cumberbatch. Is that the most amazing name you've ever heard, or what?! Sorry.

    She loved it, btw, because it is awesome and everyone loves it. Except Paul Smith, but then Paul is like Mikey, he hates everything (that is so not true, but it always amuses me how upset he gets with movies that I love, but wait, I'm not talking about him yet, that's still a paragraph or two away. Sorry). Alice and I also caught up on Doctor Who. Go BBC! (both shows have much the same creative team, so really I should be saying, "go everyone!")

    My last day in Boston was Saturday. The friend that I only got to see for lunch on Thursday came and got me. She showed me her place (so close to where we used to live—if only we were still there...) then we ate some lunch and she got me to the airport. Much nicer than taking the train, and it was so nice to get to spend more time with her.

    I got home late Saturday night, Sky got home on Sunday, and Scott left town on Monday morning. It's been hectic here.

    Meanwhile, Paul (X-men) Smith had been back in our area while I was gone (he used to live here, he moved away. Did I ever do the post about him? I had planned to...). He made sure to stay long enough for me to see him on Sunday. We had a lovely couple of hours arguing about life, movies, and tv (as one does). It was a nice homecoming (and I figured out that the reason Paul and I disagree so often is because of our level of personal/preconceived involvement. He usually has way more than I, so it's much harder to live up to his expectations...).

    Since I've been back, Alice has had another awful thing happen. Her cat, Jasmine, whom we all loved, died this weekend. She was almost 18 (or was 18?). It wasn't totally unexpected, but on the other hand it was sudden. I feel so bad that I was no longer around to give support. I've been trying, but it's hard to do from far away.

    So that's it. That was the week away, and even much of what's happened since. The only thing left out was Mother's Day, and I didn't really have much of one. I took my mom out to breakfast. My girls remembered to wish me a happy, but they've decided that it's commercial propaganda, and so have chosen to ignore it. Scott came home late Sunday night and we went to see Thor (quickie review: I liked it. Loki-as always-was my favorite. It was fun. Not the best movie ever made, but fun. If you see it, make sure you stay for after the credits. Most of our crowd missed it; you really don't want to miss the last scene.). When the movie ended it was 1am on Monday.

    Now that I've finally finished this, I'm going to go back and answer all the comments I've gotten on the last few posts. LJ is hiding any comments that come from anonymous posters and I've not gotten around to making the real ones visible yet. Sorry. Now that this is done, I can get back to that sort of thing...
    Thursday, May 5th, 2011
    11:43 am
    My Week Away. Part 2: Why we went
    Yesterday was part 1 of my week away. Today. The important part.

    When I meet someone new and we get to the part of the conversation where we compare siblings, I usually say that I have one sister and one brother. Sometimes I'll pause, and say, "well, actually, I have two sisters, but..." and then I might say "sort of" or "but for all intents and purposes, I only have one". I have many friends who might have been told that I have a second sister, but since I never talk about her, they forget her existence.

    This sister was the reason for the trip.

    Most people who know me, have at least heard of my sister Holly, many many of my friends know her. Mom used to call us "twins the hard way"; we are ten and a half months apart in age and I don't remember a time when she was not there.

    In '64 our sister Pamela was born. I was almost 4 when she was born and I don't remember it at all. Pammy never came home from the hospital. She was born with Downs Syndrome. At the time it was called it Mongolism (due to the facial features); at some point, people realized the inappropriateness of the name and Downs Syndrome was adopted.

    Remember, this was the mid '60s. The information and resources that we take for granted didn't exist. My parents were counseled that they would not be able to give her appropriate care and that it would be better for Pammy to be taken care of by people who knew what they were doing. This part is all fuzzy to me, I was far too young to understand why things happened, but the upshot was that Pam was given to others to care for. First she was put in a foster home. I don't remember this at all, the only reason I know this is because I remember pictures of us visiting her there.

    From there, she was moved to an institution called Willowbrook on Staten Island. This, I remember. Vividly. We used to visit her there. It was always scary. I have lots of scattered memories of screams emanating from buildings as we passed, large patches of grass that we would all play on, horrid smells, and fear whenever I lagged behind and lost my family. I remember when she moved from one building to another. The new building was the showcase for the institution; when they wanted to show people how nice it was, this is where they took them. I think she was probably very lucky.

    The name Geraldo Rivera, to most people now, conjures up images of breaking into empty vaults on live tv. But for me Geraldo was a hero. He's the one that exposed what was going on in Willowbrook. Here's a bit of what I'm talking about. I'd like to think that my sister was never affected by the horrors of the place, that she was always in a better unit, but I have no idea if that is true. Mostly, I remember watching the Geraldo Rivera report and being horrified by the whole thing. It took awhile before they managed to get everyone out of there, but they did.

    I have this memory of being in school and talking to home. I must have used a pay phone, since there were no cells in those days. And it must have been me calling, I think I was checking in frequently at lunch or whenever I was allowed to use the phone. In my mind is the searing image of me, leaning on the wall next to the phone crying, having a hard time standing because my legs didn't want to hold me up, and shaking. I think I'd just found out that Pammy had been finally taken out of that place. I had been so afraid that the day would not ever come.

    When my family moved to Florida, my parents tried to get Pammy moved there as well. They wanted her in a facility closer to where we were now living so that we could continue to visit her. At that time we were traveling a lot and living a life that would not have been conducive to having a child with as many health problems as she had had. For some reason we were blocked. My sister thinks it was because the class action suite from Willowbrook (which she was part of) meant that she needed to stay in the state to ensure that she get the best care possible. At the time, we thought it had something to do with her having been in a state institution and that she had to stay in the state. I don't know. At this point in time, I was a teenager, but still kept in the dark about much of this.

    From Willowbrook, Pammy was moved to a foster home. We really liked the foster mom, and I remember visiting Pammy there. But we were now living far away, and didn't get up to New York all that often (once or twice a year?). My grandmother (Nana) used to visit Pammy all the time. When we went to New York, we would visit Nana and then all of us would go and visit Pammy together.

    Then Nana got sick. Alzheimer's. She barely knew who we were. Trips to New York still meant visiting Nana, but Pammy was no longer included. By now, the family had moved to California, and getting to the east coast was an infrequent occurrence at best. Time passed.

    After a few years of not seeing Pammy, it was hard to find a way to visit. It had been so long. She was moved to a group home. when she went blind she was moved to a group home on the edge of the grounds of what used to be Willowbrook. Holly visited the home there and thought it was lovely.

    I've lost track of the last time I'd seen Pammy. Holly and I kept saying that sometime when I visited New York, she would come down (she lives in Rhode Island) and we would visit Pammy together.

    This past Christmas, Pammy's heart stopped beating. They were able to bring her back. They called my parents to let them know. Holly was visiting us for the holidays and was there when my folks got the call. Holly stepped in and called doctors and tried to find out exactly what was going on. I had no idea any of this was happening. I turned 50 and got the cruise I'd always wanted, and my parents decided that I didn't need to know about all of this until after my dream cruise. They didn't want me to spend the whole time being depressed. Deep down inside, I'm glad they did this. I would not have had as good a time if I knew about what was going on with my sister, but I feel guilty even for that.

    When the cruise was over, before I even got off the ship, I got a call from Holly telling me everything that was going on. When Holly got home, she went to New York and got to see our sister. She was the first member of our family to visit Pammy for decades. She continued to find a way to visit every other week or so. The first time she visited, Pammy was upset, but she was reacting to things. Downs Syndrome is a form of mental retardation. This means that Pam never progressed much farther than the intellect of a child (I remember the visit when I realized that my baby brother was capable of higher thought processes than his older sister). When Holly visited, she was struck by how sweet Pammy still was. I truly wish I could have been there then.

    Since then, Pammy has been moving between the hospital and a nursing home. And her heart stopped again. Again they were able to bring her back, but this time, it had been stopped for much longer. They believe there was brain damage. It's hard to tell. Pammy is blind (cataracts in both eyes, when operated on, the retinas had detached), she has no teeth (they've all been removed, I'm not sure why), and her communication skills are limited. Before this, she was retarded in the true sense of the word, her development was slowed from normal. Now, they think there is brain damage. There is a difference. They suspect that she will remain in an infantile state. Not a vegetative state, but an infantile one. No one knows. I'm not sure if they even know why her heart stopped beating both times.

    I'm going to be in NYC this summer for Winter's 16th birthday, but I'm not sure if Pammy will still be around. If she is, Winter would like to finally meet her other aunt.

    This last week was Spring Break for the girls and I could get away with leaving for a bit. Which is why I took a train, with my mom, to see my sister that I'd not seen in several decades.

    I don't have a good excuse for not visiting sooner. I can make all the excuses in the world, but it won't turn back time, and it won't make up for all those lost years. There is a part of me that will never forgive myself for not doing something sooner, but I'm really glad I finally did something constructive.

    When we got to New York, Pammy had just been moved back to the nursing home. She's in an intensive care unit, which means we needed to wear gowns, gloves, and masks to visit. I really wish I could have held her hand without the gloves. She is breathing through a tube in her neck, and it was hard to tell when she was awake or asleep. We stayed for a couple of hours taking turns holding her hands and singing to her (music is important in my family). There were times when she seemed to be aware we were there, despite the fact that we were told that she wouldn't be. She is no longer talking and I have no idea if she's in pain or not.

    Seeing her like that hurt so bad. I missed the good times. The last time I saw her we had both been, essentially, kids. I didn't get to see her as an adult and happy. But I did get to see her. And hold her hand, even if it was through a glove, and sing to her, even though it was through a mask and my dreadful voice. Part of me wished her heart would've stopped again, when we were all there, together. So she could be at peace and loved.

    I don't know what's right. Or even what's best for her, we're all trying to figure things out, and there are no definite answers. Come this summer, if she's still around, Winter and I (and Holly) will go back and visit her again. If I were going with Scott on any of his trips to NYC before then, I would have found a way to visit her then as well, but I'm not. I'm in CA and she's on Staten Island. I hope I get to see her again. I hope she's happy. I wish I knew.

    I hate that it's taken so long and a tragedy before I managed to see her again. I hate that retardation was ever treated as a "dirty little secret" that we didn't talk about. I figure that that means I need to start talking about it.

    Which, I guess, is why I wrote this.

    I don't know what I'm trying to say with this post. Mostly, I'm just telling you my story. There were lots of decisions that were made that I'm not sure were the right ones. I know there's a part of me that will always regret so much of this. I also know that if she had been born today, Pammy's story would be completely different. Things are so much better now than they were then. I can't change the past. I just hope I'll do better in the future.

    Seeing Pammy is why I crossed the country last week. It was hard. I waited too long to get there and the memory will always make me cry.

    But I'm glad I went.
    Wednesday, May 4th, 2011
    9:44 pm
    I went away for a week. You get this post. Part 1
    I just got back from a trip to the East Coast. I have stories to tell. Part of me wants to tell them in the wrong order, but I’m resisting that. Because it would be wrong.

    The second part (which, okay, I admit, I wrote first) is the reason I took the trip. But this is the first part (there’ll be a third part as well).

    The trip was a sad sandwich, with happy bread (hmm, I bet that metaphor only makes sense to me).

    Last Friday (April 22nd), my mom and I got on a train in Los Angeles. We were on that train for two days, then, on Easter Sunday after a layover in Chicago we switched trains, arriving in NYC on Monday (the 25th).

    We had always wanted to take a train cross country together, and so we did. We rode coach, which, looking back was probably a mistake. Mom’s ankles got all swollen and she had trouble walking at all once we had reached our destination. A bed might have helped that.

    I had a clue as to what to expect because right before I went I spent an evening emailing back and forth with Rich Stevens. He is my Trains’ Guide (he was so very helpful!).

    I was expecting the scenery to be awesome. I think the awesome stuff was at night when we were sleeping and couldn’t see anything. Maybe. Mostly, what we saw was flat for as far as the eye could see. There was flat yellow and mostly flat red (the red was kinda cool really, just that it seemed to go on without end). I got all excited when I finally saw some green. Then it went away. I took some pictures of it all and posted them on my Twitter but they’re not exciting enough to reproduce here.

    On both trains there was a dining car, and we made sure to eat in it several times. When there are only two of you, they seat you at a table with one or two others. We met some very interesting people and had some great conversations. I noticed afterwards that we never exchanged names. With anyone. Odd, that.

    But the best part of this first part of our trip was the people that I knew already. The theme seemed to be “Seeing the Past”. Seriously cool.

    First, in Chicago, we had a five hour layover. A friend, that I had met in Toronto at a convention some years ago, lives about an hour out of town. Despite it being Easter Sunday, she drove in and arrived at the station about the same time as our train. We met up, dumped our bags in her car so that we didn’t have to carry them, and then the three of us went a few blocks away for dinner. Chicago style pizza! Great company! Fantastic way to spend five hours in The Windy City.

    The next blast from the past was from more than thirty years ago!!. With the advent of Facebook people from my long ago past have found me. One of those people was a roommate from college. We originally met on my first day at Syracuse while I was moving into my dorm room and we had hit it off from the start. When we both decided that we could not face another day with our current roommates, we found a way to get a room together. We only shared a room for one semester, but we had been friends before, and continued to be after. She went abroad second semester of the next year, and I went abroad the next year. I didn't go back to SU after London, so the end of my first semester sophomore year was the last time we'd seen each other.

    She found me on Facebook and we’ve wrote a bit. Not much though, because I’m not really ever on Facebook. But, she read that we were taking the train and asked which route. Turns out the train goes right by where she lives. I told her I would wave when we passed by.

    The last day of travel took us through New York state. I got a message from her saying, that she had a plan that would enable us to do more than wave at each other. When our train stopped at the station close to her home, she got on! She rode one stop. There was about an hour stopover at the station she was exiting at. We spent it next to the train talking. All together we got about two hours together. It was amazing how easy it was to reconnect. We’ve not seen each other since 1979, but it was like yesterday. Amazing. I just hope we don’t have to wait another 30+ years before we see each other again!

    The third blast from the past was my mom’s cousin, Eenie. Growing up, she and my mom were best friends. The stories they used to tell! When we were younger, Eenie’s daughter was a good friend to my sister and I. And Eenie’s mom was one of our favorite aunts. We loved this family. But we moved to the west coast and just didn’t see anyone anymore. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any member of that family.

    When we got to Penn Station in New York, not only was my sister Holly waiting for us, but so was Eenie! We walked to the hotel and Mom and Eenie regaled us with stories and pictures of their youth. Probably a good thing my kids weren’t around to hear. The things they did!

    At the hotel we discovered that Mom’s ankles were all swollen. It was decided that she shouldn’t walk anymore. Holly and I went to get food and bring it back to our hotel room. We ate. We cried some and laughed more. We stayed up rather late.

    It was the perfect way to end the first part of our journey. A journey that took us through our past in so many different ways.

    The next day was the reason for our trip. I figure this post is long enough, I’ll post part two tomorrow.

    Part 2 is here.
    Thursday, April 21st, 2011
    10:09 pm
    OMG, it's official; Sky is off to college next year! (And some other stuff.)
    Sky has formally filed her "Statement of Intent to Register" which is what you do these days to say, "yes, I am going to this school."

    It's been a long journey and many of you have been with us for it, so I thought I would do a post about Sky and her decision. This might only be interesting to me, but I want a record of it, so I'm writing it.

    It all started a year ago, when Sky went to Coachella for the first time. Our friend Lori went with her. Lori is an alumni of UC Santa Cruz and when Sky got back from that weekend she had decided that UCSC would be where she went to school. During the summer Sky and her friend Kendra went to Santa Cruz with our friend Robynne (who is from Santa Cruz but going to college in SoCal) and hung out for several days. Sky fell in love with the area.

    When it came time to apply to colleges, before they put in the application, I took Sky and Kendra back to Santa Cruz. They had fun showing me around, and then we met up with a friend of Lori's who had been a student when Lori was, but was now a teacher. He gave us a tour and explained all sorts of things to us. When we left that weekend, I wanted to go to Santa Cruz!

    During that weekend the girls spent all their free time working on the essays for the college apps. Sky decided to apply not only to UC Santa Cruz but also UC Berkeley and UCLA as back ups. We were all amused that Sky picked two notoriously difficult-to-get-into schools as back-ups.

    She didn't get into UCLA. She did get into UCSC. At that point, a week before Berkeley posted who got accepted, we decided to go back up north to the schools. This time we decided to visit both UCSC and CAL (which is what they call UCB- one of the things we learned when we went to visit). At SC we talked to the special needs office to find out what we needed to do to get accommodations for Sky's sight. It was that talk that inspired us to get us to have her eyes checked again, where we discovered that they had in fact gotten worse, making her officially legally blind (we now have a Handicapped placard for the car and everything). Sky also got to eat at a dining hall (vegan options!).

    Our trip to CAL was not as helpful. Spring break had just started so many things were closed, we didn't have a guide and we didn't really know what we were doing. Sky was convinced that she wasn't going to be accepted so she wasn't as invested. But it's a beautiful campus and we did get some sense of it. It was nice to be able to picture it.

    Shortly after returning home, Sky got word that she had gotten into CAL! She was now forced to make a choice. It was not an easy one to make.

    We asked for help and got lots of really great and conflicting advice. Both schools had people who had gone there telling us why it was the best. Both schools had people who went to then telling us why they didn't like them! There was also advice from people who had not gone to either school but had some knowledge of one or both of them. In the end there was no clear winner, so there was still a choice to be made.

    The one caveat for her acceptance into CAL is that it's contingent on her doing the Summer Bridge Program, which means that she loses her summer (the program starts two weeks after graduation and ends two weeks before UCB starts up in the fall). She would have to miss ComicCon and the Bob Dylan concert that she has tickets for. At first, I thought this would be a deal breaker, but though it initially frustrated her, she eventually became far more sanguine about the whole thing.

    Many people thought she should go to CAL because it is the far more prestigious school. There are a lot of advantages to going to a school that everyone has heard of. In order to facilitate a decision, Sky went to an overnight thing at CAL. She had a blast. On the way home she informed me that she had made up her mind. She had been clearly leaning towards Berkeley for awhile and she had a great time at the overnight. It's the more prestigious school, there are lots of opportunities to take classes in all sorts of different things, and with renowned professors, and it's close to San Francisco which means access to a wide variety of theatres and concert venues.

    She had made her decision, but she wasn't going to make it official until after she did UCSCs event which was their way of trying to sway students. I wasn't sure why we were going, since she'd already made up her mind, but I have come to really like Santa Cruz and was sad that I wouldn't have the excuse to visit anymore, so I was okay with us doing the trek.

    That is what we were doing this week. Sky went to Coachella again this past weekend. On Monday she came back from Coachella, got in my car, and we drove to Santa Cruz. We got there in the evening, got dinner at Sky's favorite place (Saturn Cafe; we've had dinner there all three times I've taken her to Santa Cruz) then went to bed. We woke up Tuesday morning, checked out, hung out in the city a bit, then made our way to the campus. We were scheduled for a 2-4pm tour, but we got there early. Sky was looking through the papers that they gave her and discovered that there was a meeting for prospective film students from 3:30-5. We went to ask someone about it and they told us we could get on the waiting list for the 1pm tour. We made it! So we started our tour an hour early.

    Our tour guide was adorable and just as over-committed as anyone we met at Berkeley. There was not a whole lot of surprises on the tour, but we did go to a bunch of places we hadn't been to yet, and we did find interesting things out. I could tell that it wasn't enough to sway Sky. She still loved the campus and was sad that she wouldn't be going, but she was okay with her choice to go to CAL.

    When the tour was over, we were directed to the bus we needed to get us to where the film presentation was going on. We missed the beginning, but got there in time to see some films that students had done this year. They werevery good. I had to remind myself that these were done by college students, not professionals. Then the woman leading the meeting came and spoke to us.

    And that was it. It was that meeting, and the tour of the facilities after that I think changed everything. According to the person talking to us, UCSC offers students more production time then any other film major in the UC system. They take their film making very seriously. They have state of the art equipment, and film students have great access to it all. They way they talked about film impressed both Sky and I. One of our friends (Michael B. Johnson) who works at Pixar, knows both the programs. He had said that he thought Sky would get more of what she wanted from UCSC. After our tour there, we understood what he was talking about.

    When the talk about the film department was over, Sky and I left the campus. Before heading home, we did dinner at the Indian restaurant that we had eaten at the first time we went to Santa Cruz (as opposed to the other Indian restaurant that we ate the last time we were in town). While we were eating, we decided to call Scott to tell him that Sky was seriously thinking of changing her mind and picking Santa Cruz instead. While Sky was talking to Scott, I overheard the people at another table talking. It was a guy and gal who looked to be college age. He was telling her stories that I had heard the day before from Sky. Instantly I knew that he was telling her about his time at Coachella and he'd been to many of the same shows Sky had been to! When we were done talking to Scott I told Sky that she should go over and talk to the couple. Sky was too embarrassed to interrupt someone's meal, but I wasn't. I went over and started talking to them. Sky joined me. Turns out that they were indeed students at UCSC and they were from our neighborhood! (well, actually where the girls go to school, but close enough). Sky told them why we were in town. She mentioned that she had been surprised to see that one of the groups that was playing Coachella had played Santa Cruz the next day. They told us the town gets all sorts of great music. He started naming people that had played the area.

    I think, if there had been any lingering doubt in her mind, that conversation wiped it all away. The only reason she didn't officially declare intent that night is because we got home after 1am; she needed me and I needed to sleep. Last night, however, she filled the forms out and officially declared herself going to UC Santa Cruz.

    One year after she first decided that Santa Cruz was the school for her, she chose it again. This time officially.

    She'll be at ComicCon this year after all. There's a good possibility that we will be going directly from Freshman Orientation to San Diego. If you're at Con and you see Sky, you can say mazel tov in person.

    Speaking of saying mazel tov, in non-Sky news, last night we finally had our seder. It was rushed together, but there was much fun and lots of laughter (I know, not what you're supposed to have at Passover, but with our family...).

    Here's wishing you and yours a peaceful and happy holiday if you are celebrating any (do you know I was married before I figured out that The Last Supper was a Passover seder?!).

    Oh, Words with Friends! Have you heard of it? According to Sky, everyone knows what it is. She said this when Scott and I had no idea what she was talking about. She told her boyfriend this and the day after that conversation when he was here, he asked for my phone and installed it. Then he started a game with me....Um, it's very addictive. I have a bunch of games going. I'm very slow and not great. I'm not horrible, but I'm not great. I've decided not to start a game (it's my lack of self confidence, I'm never sure that anyone wants me) but if you are interested, I'm ivyrat.

    I'm off on a cross-country train tomorrow and I'll have my phone and lots of time on my hands...
    Wednesday, April 13th, 2011
    12:19 pm
    I think April might be my busiest month, EVER!
    Sky and I had a good time in Berkeley.

    We did NOT have a good time at the Jejune Institute. We didn't have a bad time. Actually, we didn't have a time really at all. We did go. We got there at about noon, but it took a long time to find a place to park. Then we ate some food since we had been up since 4am and hadn't eaten a thing yet.

    By the time we got to the Institute it was close to 1pm. There were people doing the "Thing". The institute people said we needed to wait. They told us to come back in 20minutes. We used their restrooms then asked if we could wait there instead of coming back (since we'd already eaten and everything). They said there wasn't room. They said we should come back in half an hour. We asked about how long the whole thing would take once we got to do it. They said about one to three hours depending on how well we knew the city.

    We left the building, realized that there was no way we'd be able to do it and still get Sky to Berkeley by the 3pm check in, so we went in search of Starbucks for Sky and from there to a Boudin Bakery so that we at least could bring home some sourdough bread. We had a nice walk through the city, got Sky's coffee and the bread then retrieved the car and did the part of the trip I was least looking forward to.

    We went over the bridge.

    I hate bridges. I'm petrified of heights. Luckily we were going in the direction that put us in the lower portion of the bridge so there was a roof over our heads. I survived.

    We celebrated by getting vegan cinnamon rolls. Mmmmm.

    Then we brought Sky to the campus and she did all sorts of school stuff. She had a good time.

    The drive home the next day, wasn't as bad as I feared; I'm not fond of night time driving, but we managed to be close enough to home by night fall that I was comfortable.

    Since then, Sky turned 18! Her birthday was yesterday (Tuesday) but we celebrated it with her on Monday. When I got home from picking Winter up at school on Monday, Sky was home, I asked her what we were going to do for her birthday and she said, "I've made reservations at Lazy Dog Cafe for 6:15, and then we're going to see Paul at 7:40. Is that okay?" And I just thought, "wow, my little girl is so grown up."

    It was a lovely evening. Scott liked the movie more the second time, and both girls enjoyed it, so it was a win!

    Yesterday on her actual birthday, Sky celebrated with her friends by going to an "R" rated movie, and then a place that you had to be 18 to get into.

    Tomorrow, she's off to Coachella.

    Meanwhile, I'm about to do something I've always wanted to do, even though the reasons I'm doing it are not great. Next week, Mom and I are going to take a train cross country! The kids are out on Spring Break starting a week from Friday. Sky is going to visit my brother. Winter and Scott are staying home, and Mom and I are going off to the east coast. One of my sisters is not doing well, so we are going to see her. My other sister is meeting us in NYC, so it will be all the Ratafia women together. I'm sure I will have many tales to tell. I figure I'll be Tweeting quite a bit; TRAIN PICTURES: FTW! (If you want to follow me on Twitter, I'm: ivyratafia).

    People who live here: If you want to see me this month, I am around through this coming weekend. That's about it. I go to Santa Cruz on Monday/Tuesday with Sky, and then I'm home Wednesday and Thursday, then Mom and I leave that Friday on the train.

    We get to NYC on Monday night. We're visiting with my sister on Tuesday, then heading up to Rhode Island. From there I'm going to Boston to visit with my friend who's been housebound due to an accident for the last several months. I'm flying home from Boston on Saturday.

    Don't know that I'll have time to see anyone this trip. I'm going to be in NYC in August with Winter for her 16th birthday. I think there will be lots of time for socializing then...?

    I will try to blog from on the road, but if you don't hear from me for awhile, now you know why! I will definitely report back when Sky makes her final college decision, which should be right after we get back from Santa Cruz.
    Thursday, April 7th, 2011
    1:08 pm
    Some stuff and a movie review
    I know, it's been awhile. Life has been very busy. This means I have lots to write about, but no time to do the writing.

    I guess this is good?

    Mostly the big news lately, has all been Sky news: Sky has now been declared legally blind! This is a good thing. Yesterday we went to the DMV and got her a placard for the car that she gets to take with her (so anyone that drives her anywhere can use it) to allow her handicapped parking access. It also means that she should have no trouble qualifying for services at whichever school she chooses.

    Speaking of which...Sky is almost sure as to which school she wants to go to! She's waiting until after the visits we have coming up to make her final choice.

    Speaking of visits, Sky and I are going up to Berkeley this weekend. Well, tomorrow, actually. We are getting up very early Friday morning, driving to Berkeley (maybe going to SF to do this cool thing we heard about, if we get up there early enough to do it). Then Sky is doing an overnight at the UCB campus. I drop her off at 4pm and pick her up at 3pm on Saturday. Then we rush back home. Oy. (If anyone wants to join us for the thing we're doing in SF, let me know, it sounds like it will be fun- link is to an article about it, I did not read past the part where it said "don't read past this point", so don't tell me anything, please.)

    Since this seems to be a post about Sky, I should mention that on Tuesday, Omg, Sky turns 18. Yes, you heard that right. My first born is going to be 18. I'm still a bit stunned. She's celebrating with friends on her birthday, and we get her the night before (and a dozen vegan cupcakes!).

    Meanwhile, Scott and I will not see much of each other on the second of our 23 anniversaries since I will be driving Sky home that day (Saturday). Hopefully, on the third and final 23 anniversary (oh, it is so complicated to get married three times, let me tell you!) we will be together (it's Sunday the 17th for those who are curious). Maybe we can do something fun.

    Speaking of something fun. No Ivy blog post would be complete without some mention of a movie. This time the movie is Paul. I loved it. Scott was more "eh?" about it. I think it just proves that we were right and I am far more the fangirl than Scott is a fanboy. The movie starts and end in a place I know very well. They had me from the first frame. Even when things were wrong (clearly some of it was filmed there and some of it was pretending to be) I didn't care. It was fun and geeky and so very fannish. Sometimes there are movies and TV shows, etc, that are using fandom to make fun of it, and some are finding their humor from within. This movie was made by fanboys. There were far too many in jokes and little things thrown in to make the fans happy. They weren't laughing at us, they are us. My favorite moment (I won't tell you what it is cause I don't do spoilers) was something that cracked me up and no one else in the audience laughed. Scott gave me a "what are you laughing about" look so I told him. He said, "No they're not. Oh, wait, they are!" I don't think it made him quite as happy as it made me, but I couldn't stop laughing. I was laughing alone (Scott might have chuckled). Thing is, that moment, that was there for us, the nerds and geeks. I'm not sure that my kids would have gotten many of the jokes. There was one that Scott had to explain to me, cause it was referencing a movie I hadn't seen. I can't wait to have an excuse to go back and see what else I might be able to catch on a re-watch. If anyone wants company to see it, let me know! Of course as Scott says, it's not a good movie. They are having too much fun to care that there are problems with it. I didn't care about the problems but Scott did.

    So, that's my review: if you are very fannish and like lots of in jokes and don't care about the ways that the movie goes wrong, then you should see it. All the actors are adorable, and the potty humor/embarrassment factor is not so bad as to ruin the film (for me anyway). And BLYTHE DANNER!!!! (I love Blythe Danner).

    Like I said, very very busy this month, I will try to blog regularly though, and I promise that once Sky makes her final decision I will let you all know.
    Thursday, March 24th, 2011
    7:23 pm
    NEWS!! and last weekend. but also NEWS!!
    Today. Was a most interesting day.

    I had a post almost all written, and then Sky needed to borrow my laptop for a few minutes. I tried to save the post so that I could give it to her, but instead of saving it, somehow (because I can be oh so brilliant), I managed to erase the post instead. *sigh*

    The post was all about Sky and my trip up north last weekend.

    I have so much to say, but it's frustrating to have to say it all over again. So instead, a quick synopsis.

    1) We had a really good time, and I'm glad we went.

    2) The staff at UCSC's disability office were very helpful, and made it clear that their job was to get students whatever they need. The needs come first. This means that (assuming Sky qualifies for their help) they will get Sky whatever she needs to succeed. Felt really good about it all after we left, everyone (including the student mentor that was there) were so very helpful.

    3) We spent time sitting in the UCSC library watching the rain and reading on our Kindles. It was perfect.

    4) Sky got to eat a meal at the dining hall that she hopes to be living near (if she goes to UCSC).

    Best thing about our time on the UCSC campus: The six deer that were near the library that were just wandering about grazing. Sky and I were like little kids chasing after them and following them for a bit because they were pretty. And there were six of them (some were clearly young). But, that wasn't the coolest part. The coolest part was that we saw a student walk by them and didn't even pause to notice! OMG; six deer, walking around campus, is nothing worth paying attention to. Clearly, this happens all the time. Now that. That is cool.

    Friday night my former curling skip, Matt, and his fiancee, Maria, drove out to Santa Cruz and we got to have dinner with them. So nice to see them. I miss having Matt around (I would miss Maria too, but I don't think I met her until after Matt left SoCal to move north).

    Saturday it was off to Berkeley.

    1) Berkeley reminded us of New England universities. Very different from Santa Cruz. It also reminded me of UCLA.

    2) UCB is in the middle of a city (UCSC is its own fairy village). We couldn't park on campus (we found a place to pay, but not a place to put the car), so we parked on the street nearby and walked from there. It was a different kind of beautiful, but beautiful none the less, especially in the rain.

    3) Because it was Spring Break most everything was closed, so we couldn't get in to the library, though we tried.

    Best thing at UCB was that across from campus, thanks to Lori's friend who told us about it, we went to a place that made amazing cinnamon rolls that were all vegan!. So. Very. Good.

    That's the short version of the trip.

    Now comes the interesting part.

    Sky, in between my first draft of this post that got erased and this one, had stuff happen.

    First there was her Senior Project Presentation, which she was very nervous about. She did it for me a few times last night, and it was interesting and informative and wonderful, so I wasn't surprised that she came out of the presentation having nailed it. (I am so very proud of her).

    She had been so busy working and fretting about the presentation that she wasn't really thinking about the fact that Berkeley posted their admissions today. It was only an hour or two after her presentation that they went up.

    Sky was pretty confident that she wouldn't be accepted. I wasn't so sure. I'm a proud parent. It's my job to think my daughter is great. Well Haha! I was right!

    Sky was accepted to UCB!

    Now she needs to decide.

    She wants to study film.

    Please, if you know anything about either school (UCSC or UCB) tell us what you think and why. She has a month to make her choice. We would appreciate any info you have. Choices are hard.

    Scott is in Finland until late tomorrow. We emailed him the news and he's all proud and excited. But I warn you, him not being here means this is going up without him proof reading. All mistakes are mine.
    Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
    9:29 pm
    Family update
    I figure that a lot of our friends and family don't follow me on Twitter, or Sky on Facebook, so I thought I would update you on the big news at our house.

    Sky spent yesterday wondering what the next four years were going to look like. We're still not positive (is anyone ever really positive what the future will hold?), but we now know that all those worst cast scenarios we were concocting last night get to fade back into the ether from which they came.

    Sky applied to three schools. In a move that was so very typical of Sky, the two schools that she applied to as back-ups for the one she really wanted to go to, were both much harder to get into. Last week we got news that she didn't get into one of them. This made last night, when they posted the acceptance/rejection notices for incoming freshman at the school she REALLY wanted to go to, far more tense.

    To keep her from worrying we went to a late show of Rango (Sky was supposed to get word at 3am, and was planning on staying up to wait for it). We got home from the movie at around 12:30ish.

    I interrupt this post for a quick movie review:

    Rango was okay. It was cute, not bad, not anything I'd write home about. It did not completely succeed in taking my mind off of worrying about Sky getting or not getting into college. But I didn't hate it. Yeah, that was a pretty lame review. Sorry. There were a bunch of things I liked about it, and I adore Johnny Depp, all the voices were great, but I think I was too distracted to really enjoy it. I should note that, despite the fact that it was in part a Nickelodeon production, this movie was not made for kids. There are many kids that would be okay with it, but many more would be affected by it, or not get it, or something. Just didn't feel like a kids' film.

    Okay, back to our story.

    When we got back from the movie, Sky checked the website, despite the fact that she wasn't supposed to find out for a few more hours, but, YAY, they had posted her acceptance letter! Everything is done online these days!

    We find out in about ten days if she got into her second back-up. If she does, then we will find a way to visit both campuses and I will ask everyone which school they think is better for film (which is what Sky wants to study). I don't want to know now, because if it turns out that she doesn't get into the other one, and it's the better one, we would all just be sad.

    Oh, the two schools? She's in at UC Santa Cruz and we find out about UC Berkeley next week.

    Sky is not sure if she wants Berkeley to accept her or not to. If they don't, then she just goes to UCSC which was her first choice anyway, and she won't have to make a decision. On the other hand, whether she goes to UCB or not, getting accepted there would be cool. Something to be proud of. But then she'd have to make a choice. We'll see.

    The big thing was to get the green light for Santa Cruz and she did, so she's very happy. And we're very happy. And it gives me the excuse to take her up and visit the campus again, though the stuff that they have going on for new freshman that's supposed to be over spring break happens the week BEFORE our spring break, making it difficult for us to get there. We will figure out some way to do it. I hope.

    In other news, poor Winter has a cold. It's not that bad, but bad enough that she stayed home today. And she gave it to me, so I'm feeling mediocre at best. Oh well, hopefully it will be one of those short things.
    Thursday, March 10th, 2011
    9:13 pm
    2 stories
    These were too long for a tweet, but I wanted to tell them, so I'm telling them here. (Though because I have more room, they wound up being longer than they needed to be. Sorry)

    On the back of my car I have a bunch of bumper stickers. I have purple hair. I am used to making a statement. I have an "Obama/Biden" sticker. I have a "Real Women Read Comics" Friends of Lulu sticker, and I have three gay marriage stickers. Usually, when I'm driving and people shout things out of their car windows at me, I assume it's the marriage equality stickers that are getting the reaction.

    Last week, I was driving and a young guy in a pick up truck passed by me. I have no idea if he thought I was going too slow (he was passing me on the right, but I'd been keeping up with traffic, so...) or if it was my bumper stickers that bothered him. My guess was it was the latter. As he drove by he got my attention and then gave me the finger. I did what I always do: I blew him a kiss. This is my personal way of saying that this is all about love, not hate.

    This was not the first time that's happened.

    I have also had people writing me notes and thanking me for the stickers (that was a while ago and it really made my day), so it's not all bad.

    But we do live in a fairly conservative area, and the girls go to school in an even more conservative one.

    Yesterday when I was driving in our neighborhood I was pulling up to a light and a car behind me tried to get to the side of me. I realized that he probably wanted to make a right turn, so I edged over as I came to a stop so that there was room for him. When he got even with me, he rolled down his window a bit. Inside the rather nice Mercedes that he was driving I saw an attractive man. He made a point to nod at me, smile, and motion. I might have misunderstood, but I thought he, too, was referring to my bumper stickers. But unlike the guy in the pick-up, this guy was giving me support.

    It made me happy to think that someone that looked outwardly conservative was making a point to agree with me. Maybe there's hope for us yet.

    Story 2:

    At school there is a new parking lot. With the new parking lot comes a whole new traffic pattern. The first few days it was a mess. So they put someone in the middle of it all to direct traffic. I have no idea who this woman is, if she's a volunteer or staff, and if staff, what her real job might be. But every afternoon when I come to get the girls, she's out there making sure that everyone is safe.

    She has a grumpy, unhappy face. I get this. I've seen people be mean to her, not wanting to go where she's telling them. It's a hard job. She's there in the very hot sun, or the cold, or wind, or the rain (sometimes, we actually do get weather here in SoCal), and she always looks like she doesn't want to be.

    I treated her the way I always treat people in that kind of situation. First time I saw her and she looked grumpily at me, I smiled and waved. She didn't react, simply pointed me in the direction she wanted me to go in. But that didn't thwart me. Every day I saw her, every day I smiled and waved. Eventually she started smiling back. Then she started waving back. Then she started smiling and waving before I even had the chance. I made a friend. We never talk, we just smile and wave.

    Today, unlike usual, she smiled, waved, then walked toward me. I rolled down my window to find out what was up. She told me that I was one of her favorite parents, so she wanted me to know that she wouldn't be around for a while starting towards the end of this month. I asked if everything was alright, she said no. She's just been diagnosed with cancer and she needs to take the time off for treatment. I didn't know what to say to that. I grabbed her hand and we talked for a bit, me in the car, her standing near it, holding hands.

    I don't believe in god, so it wouldn't make sense to pray for her, but I like the idea of healing energy. I told her I would think good thoughts for her, and I will. I told her that every time I entered the parking lot I would think of her. I know I will do that. Now I'm telling you all, so if you have any positive energy to spare, you can send it out her way too.

    And those are my stories.
    Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
    5:47 pm
    I saw four movies in five days.
    And now I'm going to tell you about them!

    First off, the movies I saw were not movies that were intended for the same audience. There's something cool about knowing that I'm likely the only person ever to want to see these four movies.

    Things they had in common:

    I had a great time going to each and every one of them.
    I don't think I could wholly recommend ANY of them (though, admittedly, one of the four was actually a GOOD movie).
    If asked, I would see any of them again (in fact, I already have seen one again).
    If I never saw any of them again, I wouldn't notice.

    First: On Wednesday, Winter was not a happy camper and needed some cheering. So she and I went to see Just Go With It. It's a dreadful title, so, in case you don't remember, it's the Adam Sandler Jennifer Aniston remake of Cactus Flower. There is no way I can talk about this movie, without first talking about Cactus Flower. Cactus Flower is a Goldie Hawn vehicle from the late '60s. If you ask anyone if they've seen Cactus Flower they will say, "that's that Goldie Hawn movie, right?" For many people, it is the ONLY thing they remember about it. Now, I love the movie. I didn't have to look up the fact that that it also starred Walter Matthau, Ingrid Bergman and Rick Lenz (well, I had to look up the spelling of Walter and Ingrid's last names, but that was about it). I can even tell you Rick Lenz's character's name (Igor) without looking it up, because he was my favorite character in the movie. Winter's favorite too. When I asked my mom if she remembered the movie, she described the scenes between him and Goldie Hawn.

    There's a reason I'm telling you all this. When we went to Italy last year we had a long plane ride, and there were TVs with movies to watch. One of the movies available was Cactus Flower. I told Winter that she would really like it (it was a favorite of mine when I was about her age) and told her she should watch it. So we both did. Some time later we were at the theatre and watching the trailers before the feature and the trailer for Just Go With It came on. Just as I started to say, "it's a remake of Cactus Flower" Winter turned to me and said, "Mom, it's a remake of that movie we saw". But they didn't say it was a remake anywhere in the trailer. I guess they don't bother with that. It was months later when I finally saw the credit on a poster. Though I hadn't doubted it for a moment.

    Thing is, Cactus Flower is all about Goldie Hawn. Walter might be the star. Ingrid might be the end love interest. They might be the most important people in the movie, but the movie always felt like it was at least as much about Goldie as it was about them. This new version has someone unknown in the Goldie role, and they treat her like an unknown. She has almost no scenes that do not have Adam or Jennifer in them. There is probably less than five minutes in the movie that doesn't have Adam or Jennifer in it. Oh, and Igor. My absolute favorite character in the movie? The one that is so awesome that I still remember the character's name? The one that made me fall in love with Rick Lenz so many years ago? That character? Yup, you guessed it. Not in the movie. At all. That's because the movie is not about the unknown actress' character (sorry, too lazy to look her up. Bad me). This kinda bothered me (can you tell?).

    I laughed a lot. It was a funny movie. I hate "potty humor" and have a huge embarrassment squick, so there was about twenty minutes or so that made me cringe. Adam Sandler is not Walter Matthau. For some reason Adam thinks that he needs to be really gross to make people laugh. It is sad, since he's very funny, and his best movies are good despite the gross humor not because of it. Walter's character was a dentist, and Ingrid was his assistant. Adam's is a plastic surgeon instead, so that the jokes could be crude instead of about pain. I understand why they did it, I would have preferred if they hadn't since most of what I didn't like came from that change. They also set much of it in Hawaii. The only reason I can figure for that change is that they used it to entice the actors, "Come. Make our movie. We're filming in Hawaii!" It didn't add a thing to the movie.

    The kids in the movie were awesome. From the trailer, I thought I wasn't going to like them, but I did. They might have been the best thing in the film. There was much more I both liked and didn't. So, all in all, my review is: Some funny things. Lots of potty humor. The original (which was evidently a movie, based on a play based on a French movie, so not really all that original) was better. If you love Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and that brand of humor, you will probably like the movie. If none of that is a big passion for you, then if you see it at all, you might as well wait for the DVD.

    Thursday it was Sky who needed cheering. So this time Scott, Sky and I went to a movie together. We went to see The Illusionist. For those who don't remember, that's the French animated movie that was nominated for an Academy Award, that you thought, "Huh? I don't know that movie." Unless you'd seen the trailer, in that case you thought, "hey, is that another movie by the person who did The Triplets of Belleville?" To which, the answer, by the way, is "yes." It is a lovely movie, by far the best of the four that I saw this week, but I still found fault with it.

    It is a French movie but there is almost no dialogue. There were times when I had trouble following it. At the end, Scott and I had seen very different things. I guess that's good, but I always get frustrated when I'm not sure if I understand what's going on. Or what they were trying to say with the movie. Especially when it feels like I don't get it because I missed something, not because it was purposely obtuse (which frustrates me, but at least that's the point).

    The things I disliked about it the most though, were not really the movies fault. First, we saw it with Sky. There was almost no dialogue. This means that you need to watch carefully to understand what's going on. Despite the fact that we were sitting in the second row, Sky couldn't see well enough to understand much of what was happening. I was frustrated on her behalf. She had no idea what was going on for much of the movie.

    The other thing that bothered me about it was that it was nominated for the Academy Award. It was good and all, but I liked Tangled MUCH better. So I must admit that I harbor a bit of resentment. It was a beautiful story and all, but I've already forgot much of it without working at remembering, whereas I still think of Tangled every now and again, because it just stayed. But..that's me.

    On Friday there was Game Night, and hence, there was no movie going.

    Saturday, though, Scott and I finally got out to see Drive Angry 3D. We had decided that we should see it, and had been trying to see it every day last week, but things came up, or children were feeling down, whatever. So it took until Saturday to finally see it.

    Wow, what a gloriously awful movie that is. It is ultra violent (of the Hard-To-Take-It-Seriously mode), there's lots of sex, gratuitous nudity, sexism, and a really dumb plot. But we had a great time. Picture Kick-Ass meets The Spirit, but in 3D. If you know nothing about it, but that description sounds like something you would enjoy, then I recommend you go see it without watching any trailers or seeing/reading anything about the movie. The movie is a bout a guy (Nicolas Cage) who's trying to save his granddaughter from being sacrificed by a Devil Cult at the full moon in a few days. The movie tries to be suspenseful about something that is in all the ads, which is sad. I'll bet anything the writer or director had no idea what they were going to do to promote this (what I gave away of the plot is mentioned in the first three minutes of the movie. I'm good).

    Anyway, it's pretty dreadful, but it is a lot of fun. I leave it up to you to decide if you would like it. I can in no way endorse it as a movie you should see, but if you like big guns, cartoony violence, dreadful treatment of women (or at least if you can tolerate them in your movie), then you might enjoy this.

    On Sunday, Scott, the girls and I had lunch with our friend Lori and Patrick Farley. Fun times! All of our Portland friends seem to be showing up in town lately. This has nothing to do with movies, but I adore Lori and Patrick. We haven't seen him in ages and we haven't seen nearly enough of Lori of late, so I'm mentioning it here because it was important to me.

    Then, in the afternoon, my friend Cherie came around.

    Cherie lives on the East Coast, and we seem to see each other about once a year. She used to be my boss when I worked at the Omnimax theatre in Boston, and we have been going out to movies together for around twenty years (wow). Whenever she comes to town, we always find a film to go see. This time we went to see Beastly. Like Cactus Flower, this is sort of a remake of a remake. It is a modernization of Beauty and the Beast. It says that it's based on a book, but someone was a fan of the Disney version, because there were moments that seemed to be right out of the animated movie.

    This movie was truly awful. I love the story of Beauty and the Beast more than is good for me, and I loved this in its own way, but boy, was that bad. The script is just plain silly. The acting of the young people was stilted. We were not sure if they were trying to act a particular way, or failing to. On Monday I took Winter to see it, and even she laughed at how bad it was. It is really bad.


    It does have Neil Patrick Harris and Peter Krause who are both always excellent.

    The lead actor is trying hard to be American and frequently fails. Not sure where he's from, but it's not here. He's very cute, but when he tries to imitate the Beast from the animated movie, you just have to laugh. Winter thinks he's more attractive when he's "beastly", though I don't know if I agree (though, I thought that of the Beast in the Disney version). Oh, god, and the script. I have no words. So much didn't make sense. So many plot holes. I know there are, I sat through it twice.

    Actually, that's something that every one of the movies had in common. There were things that made me go: "Wait. Did you think that through?" Things that just didn't make sense at all. Do people not notice those things? Or are we just supposed to pretend that it's magic and, hence doesn't matter? Well, I notice. Plot holes. Everyone of them had 'em, and they all annoyed me. I have done my best to not really spoil anything, so if you've seen any of these, and DIDN'T notice the things that bothered me, ask and I'll tell you the things that drove me crazy. Or if you noticed any, let me know, we can compare notes!

    Don't know how many more movies I'm going to see in the near future. Scott is thinking about going to 11 hour work days, so this might be the last movie post for a bit (well, we still want to see Rango, so...).
    Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
    1:41 pm
    I apologize for any lack of coherency herein.
    I think I'm going to start every post from here on in with, "I am so tired." I am. So tired.

    But, I had things to say, so I decided to take a minute and say some of them!

    I did not hate the Academy Awards this year. I did not think they were the best, but I had fun. Part of the fun was who I was watching them with (Scott, Sky, our friends Megan and Jim, and at the beginning Sky's friend Holly-yes, Sky has a friend with the same name as my sister. Winter was in and out but mostly she was homeworking). We had fun. We had pizza. We made ice cream sundaes (I can't explain why that was important to me, but I was compelled to do it). We also started an hour late, which helped a whole lot. See, because we were an hour late (yay! TiVo) I was not keeping up with Twitter or radio or any media other than the Awards on TV. Because of that, I was not getting all the people saying mean things about until after it was over.

    I thought James Franco was cute but stoned and he left poor Anne Hathaway hosting on her own. She has miles of presence so she did a great job.

    Next year, my advice: get Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law to host. They were my favorite part of the show. Oh, and Kevin Spacey, he rocked. But RDJ and Jude, they were Awesome.

    I didn't want King's Speech to win, but I knew it would, so I wasn't surprised. I liked the movie, don't get me wrong, I just thought it was a good movie, not a great movie. I was rooting for True Grit, well, okay, I was really rooting for Toy Story 3, but I knew it didn't have a chance. Okay, okay, if I'm going to be really honest here, my favorite movie of the year was Scott Pilgrim (saw it 7 times in the theatre, remember) but that was sadly invisible to the Academy.

    I would have been surprised and thrilled if True Grit had won. I was neither that King's Speech did.

    Oh, well. Next year maybe they will go back to only five nominees which works way better, and maybe I will have seen them all (this year I'd seen six of the ten). I love the spectacle and I had fun. Though it would have been really cool if Hailee Steinfeld had won best supporting actress, then I could have said that my daughter had been in a show with her...(plus, I thought she was awesome, and I hadn't seen most of the other nominees).

    Sunday, the day of the awards, was the final show of the play that Winter was in. She was understudying the part that she had wanted, and the director let her perform the part twice. Once last week, which Scott had seen, but I had missed, and then again this week. I got to see it this time (Scott got to see it as well). She was awesome. I'm very proud of my daughter. She lit up the stage when she was on. The girl that had been cast in the role seemed sweet, but I was never able to hear her, and it always felt like she was trying to get to the end of her part, rather than "being" the part. Winter owned it. It was beautiful. The lead in the show was played by someone we've known forever (his mom and I did theatre together decades ago), and there was so much chemistry between them. So Proud.

    Yesterday, was one of those days. I got the kids to school, did bills, ran errands and far too soon I found it was time to pick the girls up. From school, I brought Winter home, then took Sky into LA to meet with the person who's mentoring her through her Senior Project (I adore him, he teaches film at some college or university). After meeting with him for a bit, we had to run to get me to the theatre. Scott picked up Winter and then took Sky away.

    The reason Winter and I were at the theatre is that they were doing an unrehearsed reading of the next play that the kids are putting on. I got to be one of the unrehearsed readers/actors. It was massive amounts of fun, and it was the first theatre type thing I've done in ages. The idea was to have adults to a reading of the show so that kids could watch and have an idea of who they were auditioning for. My biggest feeling, walking away after it was over, was that it was a really great script. They are doing a production of Ramona Quimby, and Winter is very excited about auditioning for it. If she gets cast, I'll let everyone know, because if the show is half as good as the script was, you will likely enjoy the show. So much fun!

    When we got home from that (and grabbing dinner) I figured I should go to bed. I did, but I didn't sleep. Then my alarm went off at 5am. I had to get up early to get Sky to school for a field trip. We just made it. Then I had to come back and pick up Winter to bring her to school (Sky had to be there at 6:30am instead of the normal 8am which is when Winter had to be there). In between taking them to school I managed to do dishes and put the laundry away.

    Milage for this week is already over 200 and I've not done the pickup for the kids yet...

    I have spent the rest of the day trying to catch up on things. I'm a bit too tired to do it all though, so I feel like it's gotten the best of me.

    For example? This was supposed to be a short post.

    Scott usually proofs my posts, but I feel like posting this one, and he's very busy, so I think I'll post with out a proof. Let me know if something glares at you (it's all getting blurry, I need to close my eyes for a few minutes: need to leave here to pick up kids in about an hour).

    Happy March all!
    Thursday, February 24th, 2011
    11:59 am
    New Zealand is so very awesome. And then we did more stuff.
    Wow, I've not been online in over a week. I have no idea what I've missed, since I promised myself that I wouldn't check anything until after I wrote this up. So, here goes, our trip to New Zealand, in far too much detail:

    On Sunday the 13th, Scott, Sky, her friend Kendra, and I left for New Zealand. The flight was about 12 hours, but because of time differences and crossing the International Date Line, we arrived in Wellington on the morning of Tuesday the 15. Thereby missing Valentines Day completely, and arriving on Kendra's birthday.

    We were picked up by our hosts from the conference (Webstock; I'll talk about them more later). Our rooms were ready for us. They put us up at the Museum Hotel which was right across from Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand. The first thing I did when we got in was take a bath in the amazingly wonderful tub that was in our room (the rooms were really great). After we felt human again, we got some food from a nearby place (it was a bagel and pizza shop, and we wound up eating breakfast there almost every day). Then we wandered around town. We found Cuba Street which is THE street to hang out on, and spent much of the day checking out the shops there.

    While we were out, we also found the venue for the conference and got ourselves checked in (and got cool schwag). From there, we went back to the hotel to drop things off. Kendra decided to stay, but Scott, Sky and I found the trolley cars and took one to the top (it climbs a hill to the botanical gardens, then comes back down). We were too late to go to the planetarium or the trolley museum, but we had fun walking the grounds. The view was amazing. We thought it was so cool, we vowed to come back with Kendra.

    By then it was time for dinner, so we collected Kendra and let her pick a place for her birthday dinner. I don't remember much past dinner, so I think we just went back to the rooms and crashed.

    The next day, Wednesday, Scott spent the morning giving a workshop. The plan had been for the girls and I to spend as much time as we could at Te Papa and then Scott would join us. Sky wasn't feeling well, and spent more time sleeping then she had planned. By the time we got to the museum, it was only an hour before we were to meet Scott. I realized we had never actually set up the exact meeting time/place. The fact that all of us found each other without cell phones and at exactly when we were supposed to, was quite amazing.

    A word about Te Papa. Picture the Smithsonian. For a much smaller country. Put it all in one museum. Use state-of-the-art technology and museum practices/interaction/etc. That would be Te Papa. It is a beautiful museum. It has exhibits on science, history, art, the Maori and more. It is an amazing place. And they have really nice cake in the coffee shop.

    We would have spent more time at the museum, but we realized that if we wanted Kendra to ride the trolley to the botanical gardens and the planetarium, that we needed to do it soon, since we weren't likely to have time any other day. So, off to the trolley again. This time, we were there earlier and the planetarium was open. Scott took the girls off for a walk, and I stayed to inhale as much of the planetarium's museum as I could (I love museums. I love planetariums. I was very happy). Then we saw the planetarium's show, which was well done and a bit freaky on two different counts. First there was a film (on the dome) which was narrated by David Tennant, in his natural voice! (for those that don't know; it's very disconcerting hearing him with such a heavy Scottish accent). Then there was the star part of the planetarium show; from the southern hemisphere! So weird seeing different stars. The Southern Cross! Hasn't been seen in our hemisphere for centuries.

    After the planetarium, there was enough time for us to get back to our hotel and change for the speaker's dinner that night. It was very cute; they put us on a double decker bus and drove us all around. At some point I twigged on to the fact that we were heading back. I was so right. In the end, dinner was in our hotel, and it was a lovely affair. It was only marred for us by Sky not feeling well. She spent much of the dinner back in the room asleep. The speakers for the conference were some very interesting people. I spent much time talking or listening to Jason Webley, David McCandless, Tom Coates, and Peter Sunde and his brother. Fascinating discussions. So much so, that when Scott went off to a gathering of local cartoonists that had gotten together to meet with him, I stayed at the party to talk more. Amanda Palmer (who was also a guest) serenaded the group as part of the "we love you all speeches" portion of the evening. It was a party done right!

    The next day, Thursday, was the first day of the actual conference, and we had hoped to catch more of it than we did, but we had things we wanted to see. We had wanted to go to Weta Cave which is where Weta hangs out (the special effects people, not the insects) but, with Sky still not perfect, we didn't want to push things. Instead, we went to Zealandia . I am so glad we did. It was pretty awesome. Did you know that the only mammal native to New Zealand is a bat? I didn't. I do now. Zealandia has a museum type thingy that you do first, but mostly what it is, is a square mile of land that is completely fenced in with bunches of trails. Let me repeat that: it's completely fenced in. Inside the fence are only flora and fauna native to New Zealand. You have to check (as in you look inside it) your own bag before you go through the double gate to make sure you're not accidentally taking in some kind of non native animal (okay, that part was a bit surreal, but we were amused). Once inside the gates it was beautiful. The animals that we saw were mostly birds but they were very cool. It felt like we were walking back in time. And because we were in New Zealand and walking through wooded type areas, there were places where I was expecting Hercules and Iolaus to show up around every other corner (um, in case you were not aware, I'm a HUGE Herc fan). If I was told that they filmed scenes there, I would not have been the least bit surprised.

    We left Zealandia with enough time to make it back to the conference so that we could see Amanda Palmer's presentation, which I was very impressed with. She actually answered questions that I'd been wondering about for ages. Definitely went into "learn something new" territory. That was the only presenter we made it to on Thursday.

    After Amanda's talk, we got some food on Cuba Street, then we went back to where Webstock was taking place to watch the game of Werewolf that had already started. I prefer to watch then play. Scott was fascinated, so when the game ended and moved to the hotel, Scott (and Kendra) followed. Sky and I took our time, taking a nice walk by the water back to the hotel. We watched the end of the second game, then Sky and I went back to our rooms, Scott played again, and Kendra hung out with Amanda for a while.

    Friday was the day that the girls and I were spending at the conference. Scott wanted to spend more time there, but he also wanted to spice up the talk he was giving that afternoon. All of us saw David McCandless, whose talk was beautiful, educational, and fascinating. After David was done, there was a break. Scott went back to the room to do the aforementioned work, Kendra stayed at the conference and Sky and I went back to Te Papa for a few hours. We would have spent much more time if we could. As it was we missed a speaker I had wanted to catch. We (Sky and I) got back in time for Peter Sunde of Pirate Bay. I was really sad that Scott missed him, because his talk was great. It was funny and interesting and lots of other good type things. In fact everyone that spoke did a great job, and I am of course including Scott. I wish I had everything. I wish there had been time to see the whole conference and the whole city.

    After the speakers were done, Amanda (Palmer) and Jason (Webley) gave a concert. It was good to go to the show with Scott since the last time I'd seen both of them on the same stage (though, that time they weren't on stage at the same time) was when we were in New Orleans and Scott was in the hospital. Nice to erase those memories. And the concert was kickass.

    And that was it for Wellington. The next morning we left for Auckland.

    Auckland was completely different. Basically we hung out with Dylan Horrocks (who wrote/drew Hicksville among other things, which is one of my all time most favorite comics) and my friend Chris whom I had met in Canada a few years ago. Dylan picked us up at the airport, we met up with Chris then got some food, then Dylan took us all to the beach where we met up with Dylan's wife and one of his sons.

    But the beach... omg... I just... floored me. I recognized it instantly, there were many scenes of Hercules filmed there, and I was there. Yes. This was a highlight for me.

    After the beach we all went to dinner, then said good night. The next day was spent at Dylan's house. He threw a party with bunches of local cartoonists for us to meet. It was great. Chris was able to hitch a ride to that as well, so we got some more time together. But not enough. With anyone. It was all too soon when the time came to go to the airport for our flight home.

    Our biggest regret for the whole trip was that there wasn't enough time. We wanted to spend more time in the museum (so much more). We wished we could have seen more of the conference. We wished we could have seen more things in Wellington. When it was time to leave Wellington, none of us wanted to go. Two days later, when it was time to leave Auckland, we were all secretly hoping a volcano would blow, not hurting anyone, but stopping air traffic, so that we would be forced to stay a little while longer. After we returned, and the earthquake rocked Christchurch (which is on the other island, we were never anywhere near there), a part of me felt guilty for even thinking of the possibility of a disaster.

    All in all, Scott, Sky and I (and I think Kendra, but I don't have her handy to ask) all fell in love with New Zealand. Scott and I have already added Wellington to the Two Year List. I'm thinking right after London. We've been trying to figure out where to go after, I think now we've found it. I truly did not want to leave.

    But leave it we did. We got home about nine hours before we left.

    And I had four messages from my brother asking what day I was available to join them in Disneyland. For some reason, Sky thought it would be a good idea to do it on Sunday. Sunday was the day that started in Auckland, had a party and a trip to the airport, a twelve hour flight in which I slept for about one, and now we were talking about spending the day in Disney. Sky and I did. Winter had a performance that day. She was getting to play the part that she'd been understudying, and I had wanted to see it but Scott went in my stead (I am going to see it, they are giving her another show this Sunday). I really wish I could be two places at the same time. When we got to Disney, by pure chance, I recognized the car of a friend of ours! Later in the day we were able to met up with her as well. It was mostly great just to spend time with my brother and his family. My brother is one of my favorite people in the world, and I adore his family. He was going to be leaving in a few days, so I'm glad that I got to spend time with him. I was very tired driving home, let me tell you.

    I made it alive. That's what counts.

    I didn't get to see Winter until the next day. But Scott said that she rocked in the show. I can't wait to see her this weekend.

    Monday was a holiday. No school. We got up very late (well, the girls and I did, Scott went to work bright and early as usual. Didn't do much during the day, but at night the girls and I went to see CAKE! We've wanted to see them forever. Wasn't sure they'd manage it, but they more than lived up to all my expectations. There was no opening band, it was just them, and they were great, despite the lead singer having a sore throat. They played two sets with an intermission between. My favorite part of the concert was when they were trying to decide what to play next that the singer thought he could manage with his bad throat. People were screaming out requests and he was trying to explain that they were going to play what he was able to sing, not what the audience thought he should. Then he made a comment about romance in SoCal and I knew (and was right) that they were about to play my favorite Cake song (Stick Shifts and Safety Belts!) I was a happy camper. I had been sure they wouldn't play that, and then they did!! I was rewarded for not shouting out at them! It was a wonderful show. They even played a second encore that felt like it was not a "mandatory" one. Great great show.

    Tuesday Winter didn't feel well, so she stayed home from school and Sky had to be picked up early. Today, Wednesday, after school there was a rehearsal for Winter, Sky needed to help a friend film things, then we were back in Simi for an orthodontist appointment, then there was meeting with my brother and his family to see Tangled. It is now unanimous for my friends, we all loved it (it was my 3rd time seeing it).

    It's now 1:00am, I need to wake up in 5 hours, and this won't get posted until after Scott proofs it tomorrow. Bed now.

    Good morning. I have so much more I wanted to talk about, but, as usual, this is so very long. There were wonderful things talked about at Webstock, and I have lots of thoughts. If you have time, you should check out some of the talks. They're not up yet, but if you go to the Webstock site, they will eventually be putting them online (well, most of them, I know Scott asked them not to put his up so as not to give it all away to future audiences). There is so much to think about my head is still swimming. (Interesting observation: there were many many more Macs open at Webstock than PCs, and every screen that I saw had a Twitter window open).

    We are living in very interesting times.

    Since we've come home, there's been a horrific earthquake in Christchurch, Dwayne McDuffie died way too young, and Nicholas Courtney (the Brigadier on Doctor Who for decades) passed after a long illness. It's been a sad coming home. My heart goes out to all.
    Saturday, February 12th, 2011
    12:07 am
    Cruise Post Part 2 (the long one)
    We are leaving for New Zealand in less than a week (Eeeeee!), so if I don't do the second part of the cruise post, it will never get done. I've decided to throw out the pages that I've written and start again. Oy.


    First off: Part One is here..

    This is Part Two.
    Ok, this is long. To be nice to those that are reading it on their flist, I'll put it behind a cut.Collapse )

    We are off to New Zealand on Sunday night. We are supposed to have internet there, so hopefully I can update as adventures happen!
    Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
    2:00 pm
    If there were reports of my death, they have been exaggerated. If not: HI!
    Hi! So, I'm not dead. Just really really busy. There have been days on end where the only connection I have with cyber space is via my iPhone. Since I read but don't respond much on it, I've been sort of absent. No, really. Busy busy busy.

    And a bit depressed.

    Oh, and there was the week there where I was sick. And there's been other medical things with loved ones (not any of the four of us) that have been keeping me upset.

    Did I mention I was really busy?

    I've seen bunches of movies, spent a day in Disneyland with the girls just for fun, spent two days getting the car fixed, the girls have been home from school more than in school and I still managed to drive over a thousand miles in one week! Yup. Really really busy.

    Had some computer problems as well. And now we are having TiVo problems (as in, it's not working at all, and I'm not sure if it's a remote problem or a box problem, but right now we not only don't have access to what we've recorded, but we have NO TV at all since the cable goes through the TiVo. Oy)

    Oh, hey, also had an anniversary. Well, sort of two, in that Scott and I got married on my parents' anniversary. Twenty three years for Scott and I, fifty one for my parents! Old. We are so old. We saw movies and had a nice dinner. Tried to buy something for ourselves and failed.

    There was also all that Coachella Drama. Which I think will be the way I refer to it from now on.

    I am working on the JoCo Cruise post. I'm finding it hard to write. There is so much that I want to write, but I don't know if anyone cares about any of it other than me. And it keeps getting really, really long. I promised that I'd put it up right away, and then life just snowballed me and nothings gotten done. So this is hanging over my head making it impossible for me to do anything.

    Winter's in a show. Have I mentioned that? It opens this weekend. She's in tech week. Rehearsals every night.

    And Sky is tech-ing Road Show (the show that their arts/tech magnet takes to the local middle schools to get kids to want to enroll) so she needs to be delivered in the morning at 6:45am instead of 8am.

    Between everything, I'm averaging about four hours sleep a night.

    Or maybe that's the depression?

    We saw movies:

    Kings Speech= Very good. Though I expect that, sadly, I will have forgotten that I've seen it in a year or two. Just don't think it will stay with me.

    No Strings Attached= Dorky, lots of fun. Not a Good movie, but I liked it enough that I've seen it twice (first time with the girls, second time the next day with Scott on our Anniversary to get over the movie below).

    Another Year= Great movie. REALLY depressing. I love Mike Leigh. If you don't know/love him, you might not like this one. It is a movie all about depression. I would call it life affirming, but it is ALL ABOUT DEPRESSION (depression could be considered the main character in the movie), so it is not a happy movie. Seeing it while depressed was probably not a great idea. Like all Mike Leigh movies, I will remember this movie for a very long time.

    I missed four friends' birthdays. Wait, let me say this again, FOUR DIFFERENT FRIENDS HAD BIRTHDAYS AND I MISSED THEM ALL! I am a lousy friend. I talked about all of them on their birthdays, does that count? Of course none of them know that. Um. Sorry. I love you all.

    Happy birthday to all of you. Please forgive me. I will try to make it up to you.

    Caroline: on your birthday...a friend of mine on Twitter mentioned how much they loved Bernstein's Mass. I told them that it was funny that they should mention that since that day was the anniversary of when I'd seen it. Couldn't remember how many years ago, but I knew we had seen it on your birthday, so I knew that it was THAT VERY DAY. It was cool. Could you feel me thinking and talking about you on your birthday? Happy 50!

    Lori: I'm sorry I missed the party! I had no idea when it was going to be and I barely found out about it, because that was the week that I wasn't online at all! So so sorry. Hope it was awesome. We were in Disneyland for the party so we spoke lots about you and wished you a happy in absentia.

    Kate and Jai, you know I love you both.

    If there were any other birthdays I missed, I'm sorry. But if there are, then I don't know, so my not wishing you a happy is due to negligence, not, as the others, due to ineptitude.

    I'd promise that I would write more soon, but the last time I did that I failed miserably. Maybe it's best not to promise.

    Oh, I've been getting a lot of spam in my comments (which I really do want to answer, but I'm DEFINITELY not promising that, because it's much more likely that I won't, so why set myself up for failure). I'm going to delete all things that I think are spam if/when I see them. I'm not going to turn off anonymous comments because I have regular readers who post that way, and I like hearing from them. If you post anonymously you might want to identify yourself somehow so I know you're real.

    We're going to New Zealand in a couple of weeks!! I'm still not completely comprehending that. Winter has decided not to go. I have no idea where she's staying while we are gone. Or how she's getting to her performances and rehearsals. Guess I better do something about that soon?

    I'll try to get the JoCo post up before we leave. No promises.
    Monday, January 10th, 2011
    9:53 am
    My amazing 50th birthday cruise. Part 1
    I can no longer say that I've never been on a cruise.

    Scott and I got back home late Saturday night. There are times when you are looking forward to something for so long, that when you finally get to do whatever it is, it can't possibly live up to expectations. This was not one of those times.

    We were gone a week. A lot happened. I had planned to write a post every night, and then post them when we got back to real internet (there was internet onboard, but it was expensive and very slow), but I never opened my laptop once we got onboard. Scott used his laptop to check mail and I would borrow it to check up on the girls, but mostly there was too much to do and if I had free time I spent it reading instead (yay, my new Kindle!).

    That means that I'm writing this all up now. My memory is not feeling very linear. Instead of going day by day, I'm going to split this up into categories. I'm starting with the backstory, (which most of you know by now, but just in case...):

    For my 16th birthday I wanted a cruise to the Bahamas. I was given a choice: I could go on a cruise for three days, or we could fly to Nassau for eight. Being no fool, I spent Christmas, my birthday (Dec. 29th) and New Year's in the Bahamas. It was a great birthday and I'm glad I made the choice that I did. I knew someday, I would get to go on a cruise, so it was win/win in my book. Years went by, and I "almost" went on several cruises. But never did. I started to believe I had been wrong, and I would never get to go on one.

    Fast forward to this past November when Scott, the girls and I all went to New Orleans to go to Neil (Gaiman, of course)'s 50th birthday party. This is the party that Scott got the pain in his chest that turned out to be his artery dissecting (not sure if you can verbify this, but I have anyway). He didn't die (if it had been a different artery...) but he was in the hospital for four days. I spent most of Neil's party in the ER with Scott, but managed to get back to the party for the last hour or so. I was not in great shape. To entertain me, Neil introduced me to Jonathan Coulton and John Hodgman, who were also at the party. It was my happy memory of that night. Two days later Neil, the lovely Olga Nunes and I were in a cab on our way to visit Scott at the hospital. I told them the story of my 16th birthday and the fact that my 50th was almost here, and I'd yet to go on a cruise. They told me about the JoCo Cruise Crazy, and told me I needed to go. They were rather persistent. Olga even sent me the link.

    Scott and I decided that we would go. Scott had lots of medical procedures done in the beginning of December, but he managed to be done with them before the holidays and was given the okay by all the doctors involved to go on the cruise. (There was a part of me still waiting for something to go wrong.) We had a lovely New Year's Eve party at our place, which turned out to be Not Lame at all, then at 1:30/2am after people left, we packed and got about an hour or so of sleep before heading to the airport. My sister came with us and drove the car back. She looked after Winter for several days until she had to head back home. Our flight took off very early, but, due to a four hour layover and the earlier time difference, we didn't get into Florida until around 1am. It was sad, since they upgraded our room, that we spent so little time in. It was a nice room. I got up early enough the next day so that I could watch the sun rise and bathe in the jacuzzi, then we were off to the boat.

    We got on the boat at about 1:30/2pm on Sunday and the adventure began.

    First time I've ever been on a cruise, remember? Looking back, it feels like there were three separate parts to it. There was the ship we were on and the things that are just part of it being a cruise; there were the days we spent at ports; and then there were the JoCo events. This post will get huge if I tackle all of them at once, so I'm going to concentrate on the cruise and ports (in other words; what would have been the week if we were going on a "normal" cruise).

    There was a boat. It was big. Okay, not really a boat. It was a ship, but the song "I'm on a Boat" was going through my head from the moment we boarded, and stayed there the whole week (thanks to it being played at the start of almost all the shows) so forgive me for thinking of it as a boat. There was food. Lots of it. Much of it was very good. I ate far too much of it. There were people who were not part of the JoCo Cruise who were there to have regular fun (they were called The Normals by all of us nerd types). There were shows to go to that were part of the regular cruise. We didn't see any of them. There was a shopping area that wanted to sell us expensive stuff and another that kept taking pictures of us for our buying pleasure. We did not spend any money in either place. The boat was really big and it took awhile, but eventually we got used to where things were. There were 11 floors, and by the time we left, it felt like home.

    There was a movie theatre on board. The seats looked very comfy and I really wanted to see a movie there. They showed a different movie every day. Of the six movies they showed, I had seen four in the theatres, and had avoided the other two. I would have dragged Scott to see The A-Team (which I'd seen, but he hadn't), but that day we were far too busy to take the time. Movie theatre: something else on the ship we didn't get to do.

    Our room was awesome. A friend, who has been on many cruises, gave us much helpful advice. One of the things she said was that we should pick a room based on how much time we expected to be in it. We picked a nice room. Not the best, by far, but still very nice. It had a veranda (it was even on the veranda level). And a couch (which I think was also a bed, but we never used it as such). The veranda had two chairs. We spent a lot of time out there sitting and reading, or just watching the water rush by. It was awesome. The room was small for a hotel, but spacious for a ship and I'm so glad we chose it.

    Best of all: the room number was 5016. Get it? Took me a day to catch it, but wow, how cool is that? For my 50th birthday I go on the cruise that I'd first almost got to go on for my 16th, and my room number is 5016. Felt like fate.

    The days we spent at sea might have been my favorite. I like being on the boat. The first "at sea" day (which was not the first day) I almost participated in a trivia contest (I watched instead) and Scott did participate in a chess tournament which he won (he only had to play two people for the honor, but he got a coffee travel mug as a prize, so that was cool)!

    But the best things we did on the boat were the JoCo things and they'll get their own post, cause there's a lot to say.

    Shore excursions:

    There were three ports of call. They were all very different. The first place we landed was Half Moon Cay (which is pronounced "Key"). This is an island owned and operated by Holland America. It was very private. There was a beautiful beach, a few bars, lots of water sports and that's about it. There were a few people who lived on the island to provide maintenance and the rest of the people that were on the island were either from the cruise boats or locals that were boated in in the morning and then back to their home island at night. Due to Scott's recent medical stuff, we kept our activities to ones that were considered "mild". For Half Moon, that meant that we went on a glass bottom boat (I really like boats, as evidenced by the fact that every single one of our excursions included, or was, a boat ride). The best part of the boat ride was the information about the island and how it operates. There was something about the place that was almost creepy in its lack of personality. It felt sanitized and phony. After the boat ride, Scott and I wandered the beach for a bit. This was the only stop in the Bahamas, but it didn't feel like the Bahamas. It could have been any island, anywhere. It also marks the only time I managed to wear the bathing suit that I spent so much effort buying. I never did get it wet, though I did go in the water, just not deep enough.

    I had spent eight days in the Bahamas on my 16th birthday. This bore no resemblance to that place at all. Someday, I will take Scott to the Bahamas. We will fly to Nassau, we will wander the streets, we will go for a boat ride, listen to music, eat in local restaurants and have a great time. This was not a trip to the Bahamas, it was a visit to a private resort.

    The next stop was Ocho Rios. This was my least favorite place we went to. As far as excursions go (the cruise has things available for you to do at every stop, you can chose to buy one of their many options or just go explore yourself), we picked the one that looked best of the ones Scott could do. We got off the cruise ship (which docked this time, both other stops we needed to be ferried from the boat to the shore) and got in a bus which took us about an hour to the Martha Brea, which is a river. There we were put on a bamboo raft with a native guide who rafted us down the river. Sort of like a gondola in Venice but flat. The ride was beautiful and peaceful. I liked our guide. When the raft was almost back to where we were getting off, the guide stops and tries to sell a hand carved cup made from a local gourd. I have no idea if he carved them like he said, but we bought one, because it was clear, this is what they do to make money. And they need money.

    Everyone wanted something. There were running jokes for days afterwards about the way the locals would try to sell you anything. It was very sad. It was hard to look at the poverty, and seemed wrong to be visiting there in such an obvious consumption of wealth. I felt very uncomfortable when we were taken to the shopping place near the port. Did I mention that the raft ride was lovely? It really was. That part was nice. There was a waterfall that was supposed to be really cool, but since going there was not considered a "mild" activity, we didn't go. The people who did, seemed to have enjoyed it.

    The last port we visited was Georgetown. I liked Georgetown. It was the place I was most happy we got off at. Again our excursion was a glass bottom boat, this time we saw all sorts of cool things in the bottom, and learned all sorts of things. After the boat ride we went exploring a bit. The town reminded us a lot of Juneau, Alaska. It was an affluent community, and didn't feel so sad. Scott and I went to their newly renovated museum, which was tiny and I adored it. There were other things I think I would have liked to see, but, as it was, we got to meet a woman named Ivy who was selling jams that she had made, so we bought some, we had a dorky lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville where the dj decided he liked me (yes, there was a dj. In the restaurant), and played a whole bunch of my favorite songs, without me asking, I should add. I guess I just looked like I liked that dorky '70's and '80's pop music? Georgetown used to be where the pirates lived, now it's home to a banking industry. Pirates were everywhere. How would I not love it?

    Our last excursion was after we were back in America. The cruise was over, but instead of wandering on our own, or heading to the airport so very early, we booked one last trip. This was to the Everglades (actually, we booked a different one, but they cancelled it). We took a bus to the water, took another boat ride on the Everglades this time, got to see alligators in the wild, then went back to their little park where we saw more animals; Scott got to have a snake put around his neck (I used to take care of a python, so I didn't bother) and then we both got to hold an adorable baby alligator (there's a picture of me with it on Scott's blog). It was hokey but fun.

    I have left out bunches of stuff that I wanted to say. Maybe I'll remember to put some of it in tomorrow's post.

    Next installment: JoCo Cruise Crazy!
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