John and I are spending all our time this week watching the US Open. It’s on about 10 hours a day and if we didn’t have TiVo, it would be impossible to watch. Really, all you people who don’t have TiVo? I can only guess that you love watching commercials. More about TiVo in another entry.

Anyway, I am looking at the players and I see some great names for tennis. Two pop out, Anna Smashnova of Israel and Sybille Bammer from Austria who played in the qualifying event. So that got me to thinking about other athletes with great names for their sports.

For instance, in football there’s Arnaz Battle of the 49ers, Tom Crowder of the Cowboys, Chad Slaughter of the Raiders and Todd Heap from the Ravens. Among baseballs major league players there are at least 6 different Walkers. The best, though, is Colter Bean from the Yankees. He’s a pitcher! Another of my favorites would be Steward Cink, the golf player. And even Tiger Woods has a good golf name. Too bad Minnie Driver doesn’t play.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve come up with lots of good first names for different professions as well. You know, like a lawyer named Sue. But I can’t use up all my good blog topics in one day.

Cruise – Day Five, Sitka

Today we landed in Sitka. Sitka has a really pretty setting with lots of little islands off shore. Our ship had to anchor out in the bay as it’s too big to come into the dock. Of course, we anchored out there with the other ships. We got to take tenders from the ship into the dock. These tenders are our life boats. I’m not sure I would want to be saved if I had to spend much time in one. I think a better name for them would be toughs.

We made our way onshore and went to see St. Michaels Cathedral which is a rebuilt Russian Orthodox church. It had many interesting icons. There were also lots of shops and a native museum. The best thing we did was to go to the Raptor Center which rehabilitates injured raptors. There were several bald and golden eagles, some hawks and an owl. We managed to get there between bus loads of cruisers and had the place pretty much to ourselves for awhile. It was really the best thing we’ve seen so far.

Later we went back to the boat and whipped some ass at trivia. Actually John whipped some ass but the rest of the team was happy to accept the prizes which were umbrellas. I think we will do this again! It doesn’t cost anything and you might actually get something. After dinner we went to the show headlined by an amusing magician. It was a good day.



What has happened to shoe sizes? I used to wear a 7 ½. Then sometime, maybe ten or fifteen years ago, the 7 ½ migrated to 8. During this time my weight fluctuated up and down but my shoe size just went up. Of course, I was sure I was still a 7 ½. So it must be that some manufacturers make their shoes smaller. I shopped and shopped. I spent lots of money trying to be that 7 ½. Okay, finally I decided, I’m an 8. There’s no reason to feel embarassed , lots of women have larger feet. Just because my mother, aunt and grandmother wore 4’s and 5’s, it’s no reason to go hide my feet in the sand.

For the past few years, I’ve been playing tennis in size 8’s. I’ve been wearing 8’s for awhile and have adapted to the fact that my feet must be bigger. Plus, I think I have elf feet. You know, the kind where the toes turn up? I have to admit it, my big toes like to search for higher ground. Recently, though, not only do my big toes hurt, but some of the others have been joining the chorus. Could it be that my feet have grown again? I have multiple pairs of uncomfortable 8’s for playing tennis. What’s more important, vanity or comfort?

If there’s anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s comfort beats out vanity. Want to sleep in rollers or have an easy hairstyle? Want to wear high heels or flats? Knee-highs or socks? Yeah, I’m going for comfort. So this week I went out and bought a pair of 8 ½’s. If I live to 100, I’ll probably be wearing 10’s.



John and I are trying out a new lifestyle, one where you are not dependent on your car for everything. We rented an apartment in Menlo Park and are now within walking distance of downtown with its restaurants and supermarkets, the library, tennis courts and a small, neighborhood gourmet market. Yesterday, we walked the mile or so to Trader Joe’s and picked up some ingredients for dinner, stopped at the hardware store, and bought a couple of bagels for today’s breakfast (not at the hardware store.) Then we walked home. The whole outing took an hour and a half. Being retired makes this sort of thing much more plausible. We do need to find a better way of carrying stuff home, though.

Another thing I like about our apartment is that since you don’t need air conditioning on the peninsula, we keep the front door open. Our living/family room is in the front so you can see outside. There are kids on hot wheels, moms (or maybe they are caregivers) pushing babies, delivery trucks, and gardeners. I feel connected to what’s going on. In our house in Pleasanton, the family room is in the back and you never see what’s going on. We seem to have gone from a front porch society to a back deck society. This whole new living situation feels like a throwback to when I was a kid.

Of course the best part is that we are near to our kids. They’ve already come over to dinner and we met Ryan and Jon for lunch. Sarah stopped by to drop something off and stayed to dinner. Another day she just hung with us for a while. Getting together used to be more of an ordeal. Is it the right time traffic-wise? Are we too tired to drive over? Do they want to commit a big block of time to mom and dad? Now it’s easy and we are loving it.

Who knows? After this year is up maybe we will have had enough of the walking, the hot days and the noise. But right now, it seems pretty wonderful.

Day Four – Hubbard Glacier

First, I forgot to mention that yesterday morning we saw whales which was pretty cool. They didn’t jump out of the water or anything but we saw fins, spouts and tails. Today is Hubbard Glacier day. Our ship waits its turn to approach the glacier. There is one ship ahead of us. We have a naturalist aboard and he is telling us all about the glacier. As we approach there are chunks of ice in the water, like mini-icebergs. The Hubbard Glacier is advancing so parts of it calve off all the time. When we get closer we are able to see big ice sheets fall off. It is hard to get perspective though – a little piece falls in the water and the naturalist tells us it was as big as a house. We must be further away than it looks. The ice is an eerie blue color. This is a really interesting part of our cruise.

We are at sea for the rest of the day heading to Sitka. What to do, what to do. Karen and George and Peggy have been playing bingo the last few days, so we try that. $20 a piece to play. Seems like a lot. (Later when George gets his bill, he realizes he has spent $120 playing bingo.) It’s not something I would ever do at home and I am making fun of the fact that we are doing it until I am within one letter of winning. But, alas, someone else wins. We play a little bridge, eat at the fancy restaurant with the whole crowd of Peg’s friends, and go to the show. Another cruise day done



Today the seas were calmer and we headed for Juneau. Peg and Ted have a helicopter trip to the Mendenhall Glacier and Karen and George are taking a whale watching boat. I am still pretty knocked out from taking the Dramamine and take a nap after breakfast. We decide to let the bulk of the people get off the boat, eat lunch and then go ashore. The lunch lines are much shorter and tables are aplenty since everyone is ashore.

Our plan is to tour around the city and meet Karen and George at 3 PM at the Red Dog Saloon. Boy, is Juneau crowded. There are 4 cruise ships docked and the streets are like walking in Times Square. There are lots of shops and some historic buildings. We look in various places and watch the floatplanes take off. We also think about taking a bus up to the glacier but it doesn’t look like it will work out time-wise. As it turns out, Karen and George are delayed and we never get to the Red Dog Saloon.

So far I have spent my time feeling not so good or asleep. We should have booked some excursion but I was afraid a smaller boat would make my mal de mer worse and I continue to be paranoid about mosquitos. Everyone who has come back from their trips have been really happy with how they turned out. Stupid, Marymom! Tomorrow, I plan to get more involved!

Tonight we had lamb chops that must have come from a giant lamb (or perhaps a sheep?) We are keeping the bartenders and the wine steward busy as we while away our time. Later we go to a show that features the Oosterdam singers and dancers. It’s quite enjoyable and I like the dancers especially the cute blond guy.

On to the Hubbard Glacier tomorrow!



Just a quick note because this is not a blog day, but did you read about what Pat Robertson said concerning assassinating the president of Venezuela?

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war … and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”

Seems a bit un-Christian to me.



Day One and Two

John and I have just returned from a Holland America Alaskan cruise through the inland passage. We left and returned through Seattle. The cruise was in celebration of my sister, Peggy’s, 60th birthday. She had a whole load of friends coming from the Chesapeake Bay area and we connived our good friends, Karen and George, to come too. We had a lot of fun this past week and it was special to be with my sister during her birthday week. But is cruising for you? There are pluses and minuses.

First of all, we had a great evening in Seattle except for Alaska Airlines losing Karen’s luggage. That was very stressful. But I think I’ll use a separate blog entry to blast Alaska Airlines. We had an evening of wine and small bites. First we went to Maximillian’s in Pike Street Market. We had a happy hour special of mussels, fries, tarte flambé and wine. Actually, it was our lunch. Nothing cost more than $2.95. It was really good. Later at the Marriott Harborside we sat in the bar area and had small plates from Todd English’s The Fish Club restaurant. We enjoyed a small flatbread pizza, little Kobe beef cheeseburgers, crab cakes and crispy scallops with tuna tartar. We all give the two dining experiences an A.

In the morning we are off to the boat, er, ship. We never quite got the hang of the nautical language and were always going aft when we should have been going fore. And drinking port instead of going left. Getting on the boat went smoothly and we had our first experience with cruise food on the Lido deck. For breakfast and lunch, you have to go around cafeteria style with a tray and select the things you’d like to eat. It sometimes is very crowded and it is hard to find a table. The food is so-so. I think the reason people think cruise food is so fabulous is because you can eat it non-stop. With so much of the food needing to be pre-cooked, you ended up with fish overdone, meat tough and vegetables overdone. Also, especially at dinner, the food often arrived lukewarm at best. It’s really difficult serving 1800 guests plus the crew. I’d give the food a C or C-.

We went to our room which was compact but with plenty of storage space. The bed was really, really comfortable. You had to stay tidy or the room could become a disaster fast. People say the room doesn’t matter because you spend most of your time away from it. But if you are like me, and need a respite from the onslaught of people, the room is important.

We sailed at 5 PM and were at sea the whole next day. It was really rocky. I had to take Dramamine. It made me so sleepy. I took a big nap the next day and missed the fun of bingo and trivia. I really thought there should be more things to do when the ship was at sea. Plus the things that you could do usually had an entrance fee or involved buying something, i.e. art auction, blackjack tournament, bingo, slots tournament. This is not a cheap way to travel.

So Day One and Day Two were not the best for me. Feeling sick and sleepy. But I hope for better things on Day Three when we visit Juneau.



OMG, I’ve just gotten back from Alaska and I see that the people who read my blog have gone from over 100 to 17!! I will never go on vacation again! Or else, I will just have to feel it’s okay to write for myself only. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll write something tomorrow, it’s only a day away. (That was so bad , I am embarassed.)

Join me for bingo and other cruise favorites tomorrow!