You Say Gra-nay-dah and I say Gra-nah-dah
Terry Duga's Report on the WebWhispers Cruise 2009
|Movies Over the Pool||Champagne Fountain|
After dinner, we go to the atrium for the Captain’s reception. The champagne glasses are stacked into a tower and bottles of, I hope, cheap champagne are poured into the topmost glass before spilling to the ones below. Passengers line up to “help” pour (they put their hand on the wrist of the real pourer and get a picture taken).
Next to the theater. The show is one of the best I have seen. High energy, and great dancing. The audience gives a standing ovation that has actually been earned (sometime I may wax philosophically about how standing ovations are given too easily, so that they lose meaning). As I exit the theater, I cough and break the seal for my hands free valve. Now, I am not complaining. This happens about 9:30 pm and the seal has held all day through heat and humidity and a shower, so it has more than done its job. I am tired and retire to my cabin.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009: On the way to Aruba
The ship rocks a little more as it makes headway to Aruba. In the morning, we have a scheduled meeting of WW cruisers who want to get together. When I arrive at the conference room, Steven Bishop is discussing health care in the UK and how the reality differs from the perception in the States. Dorothy and Tom Lennox talk about changes in Medicare that necessitated Luminaud, along with other vendors, to give up filing Medicare claims. Richard Crum is leading our discussion and we discuss what we like about cruising, where we would like to cruise, what we like about WebWhispers, how to encourage more people to become sustaining members, and then filled us in on the plans for the next IAL meeting in Southern Indiana. The location is excellent, close to the hospital, just across the river from Louisville, has a campground nearby and access to many places to see and things to do. Most importantly to many, it is affordable. I have stayed at a former incarnation of the hotel and have even attended a prosecutor’s convention there, many years ago. Southern Indiana is a lovely area. I am looking forward to the meeting and going to the area.
Lunch buffet has an oriental theme. Sushi, spring rolls, beef and broccoli, many other goodies. Pat, Peggy and I get some food. Ed Chapman joins us and we chat about WW and other things. We head up to Skywalkers Lounge to chat and wait for Peggy’s talk on shopping in the islands. After that, Pat says she “needs” ice cream, so off we go to the ice cream bar for a cold fix. The afternoon is spent reading by the pool and drinking iced tea.
I have a bit of a bone to pick with this cruise. They were not able to get all of us seated in the early dining so we ended up in anytime seating, held in a dining room that does not have assigned tables. Peggy has arranged for us to have three reserved tables at 5:30, so we can sit together and mingle each evening. I appreciate that there has to be a “B” team and that wait staff has to be trained. That does not lessen the problem that the waiters and staff we have are fairly poor by previous cruise standards. They are friendly enough, but not as attentive or knowledgeable as usual. They either do not know the food well or their lack of comprehension of English makes them poor communicators. The food is still quite good but the waiters leave something to be desired.
After dinner, I see the production number again along with the Chapmans, Yvette, Steve Bishop and Peggy. The show, once again, is great. After the show, the Chapmans, Yvette and I go to the Explorers Longue, have some drinks, watch the comedian, Cary Long who is quite funny. Then, bedtime.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009, Aruba
|Author on a bus tour|
There is a tour bus at 8:30. I shower, dress and meet people at breakfast, then, head down to the gangway to find our bus. We have 15 for our island tour. Aruba is 19 miles long and 6 miles wide and is relatively flat. While it has hills, it is a low island without tall peaks in the center. It is fairly arid and hosts a lot of cacti. Many homes have gravel yards. It is a pleasant island and our tour guide, Wendell, is very nice. He tells us the poor are subsidized by the government. The kingdom consists of three constituents: Holland, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. The local tongue is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, English, French and whatever. Schools teach in Dutch. The government will pay for students to go to college in Holland or the United States. Our tour takes about four hours. It is hot but there is always a good breeze. There was once a gold mine on the island; still there, but no longer active. Any gold in it costs too much to dig. There is also a windmill. It was a gift of the queen of Holland but never worked. However, it is attractive and caps off a restaurant. The government is planning to build windmills to generate electricity. Given the way the wind blows, this should work quite well.
|Windmill That Never Worked||Chapel|
After returning to the ship and lunch, I confess, that I take a nap. Dinner is nicer. The waiters and staff are improving. The service is good as is the food. I have the rack of veal. I am beginning to rethink veal, since this was really good. After dinner, we go to the Explorers Lounge and listen to the band for a while. The next big show is, again, excellent. It consists of a collection of oldies from the forties and fifties. The dancers add greatly to the enjoyment, a pleasant trip down memory lane. After the show, I head back to the Explorers Lounge. There I run into Betsy, my co-commissioner and her friends. I join them and listen to the band play seventies music. Pleasant. At 10:30 the hypnotist is on. She brings people on stage, puts them under and has fun with them. The show is very amusing.
Thursday, October 29, 2009: Bonaire in the morning.
I wake to stillness. We are docked in Bonaire for a half day. It is only slightly larger than Aruba. A shower, breakfast, and it is time to disembark for a morning of exploring and shopping. It is hot. I have worn my one white t-shirt, my “Bimbetta” shirt. It features a reclining pseudo classical nude lady reclining, wearing sun glasses and holding a bar bell. Now, Bimbetta is/was a great all female baroque singing group. They featured three singers, a keyboardist and a cellist. (If you don’t believe me, Google “Bimbetta” and look them up.) I have seen them perform twice. They are very talented, but have enough fun while performing to be not stuffy.
I walk into town. The obligatory shops line the streets. An open air group of stalls is also on the main road in. I look through stores to get an idea of what is available and work my way away from the port. I try to find a museum that I saw on a map, but forgot to bring the map (bad Terry). I cannot find it. I do get a view of the small city. It is hot. It is fairly early morning and it is hotter. I try to stay in the shade. Between the shade and the constant breeze, the heat is bearable. I run across the St. James Medical School. Next door is what appears to be a clinic. I won’t call it the St. James Infirmary, for fear that someone may smack me. Back to the main street. I buy t-shirts for friends and pseudo kids. I get great prices on shirts. I also buy a donkey shirt since part of the proceeds go to helping the donkeys on the island. It is getting hotter. I return to the ship for some iced tea. Hydration is good for the soul and the body.
|School of Medicine||Medical Center|
After dinner, we see two of the singers and four of the dancers on Deck 5 in the Piazza. They are very nice and we tell them how much we appreciate their shows. We try to see the hypnotist, but, alas, the Explorers Lounge is too full and we cannot get in. It is too late to see the repeat of last night’s show, so we go to Fusion Lounge for a drink and watch a bit of the World Series. There is something fundamentally wrong with having the World Series at the end of October. I’ll drink to that!
Friday, October 30, 2009: Granada beckons
Morning and we are still out at sea. I rise, shower and join Pat and the others for breakfast. There seems to be a slight Japanese flavor to the breakfast buffet. There are egg sushi, and deep fried hardboiled eggs. I try one of those but it is not very good. Now if it were a Scotch egg it would be good, though not good for you, but it is just a deep fried boiled egg, and therefore, a bit dry. Oh well, I tried new things.
I am in heaven. This morning they are giving a tour of the theater. This puppy is an 18 million dollar state of the art facility. They have 120 intelligent lights in the theater (400 on the ship). Intelligent lights are like “several thousand dollars each” pieces of lighting that move and change color and are controlled by computer. (The theater in which I work has four and is lucky to be able to afford those.) The back curtains have fiber optics in them to give pin points of light and have LED lights that make the giant light boards that can be programmed and can even play DVDs. How cool is that. They are on two Princess ships, nowhere else at this time. The scenery moves by computer. In fact almost everything is run by computer. The backstage area is surprisingly roomy. (It has more room than the theater in which I presently work. I am jealous.) The backstage, with pit and fly space, extends from deck 4 through deck 10.
At 1 pm we head to the dock and find our excursion. I have to herd some of our members and we have to find Pat, Tom and Dorothy, Rick and Nova. My bus has air conditioning that decides not to work, so we use the old fashioned way, we open the windows. There is enough breeze to make this tolerable. We drive along the west coast of the island then cross into the center, up the mountain, before returning to the ship.
To say that Granada, “Gra-NAY-da” (At least that is how Sherman, our guide, pronounces it), has narrow roads is an understatement. I have been on driveways that are wider than some of the secondary roads. Our driver, toots the horn when he approaches a curve or hilltop. This is more than just a means of being friendly, it warns approaching cars and trucks. Many times, one vehicle or the other must pull to the side to let the other one get by. Granada is lush with vegetation. It grows many spices, nutmeg and mace (which is the covering of the nutmeg seed shell), cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, and bananas. The plantations on which the various trees grow are privately owned and worked. Granada is not arid like Aruba. The homes dot along the roads. Many are built on stilts to fit into the side of the mountains. This is not a particularly wealthy island. There are buildings, ruined by the 2004 hurricane, which have not been repaired or replaced.
|Nutmeg Factory||Overlooking the River|
We get back to the ship in time to grab a shower, change clothes and go to dinner. I have to change my seal. I blew it when we stopped on top of the mountain to get a soda. While it did reseal on the way back, it broke again when I showered. Actually, I am impressed that my seals have been lasting as long as they have in this heat and humidity. Thank you, skin tac.
After dinner, I go to the theater and watch the illusionist. He and his lovely partner (who does a lot of the work) are entertaining. As part of audience participation, he gets Fred and Rachel Armani on stage. Fred is placed in a Guillotine and Rachel gets to pull the lever. Now, something told me to put my camera in my pocket tonight, so I got some pictures that did not turn out too badly, considering that they were taken at a distance with no flash. After the show, I grab some good sushi for a snack and head to my room to write and then relax.
Saturday, October 31, 2009, Dominica (and Halloween)
First, Dominica is beautiful. It is a nature preserve with people living in it. The island is volcanic and steam still rises in places. They even have a boiling lake (which we did not get to see, but I will take our guide’s word for it). We have a tour of the island to start at 9. As we wait for our tour, Ed Chapman comments that he is glad that we are not on the bus that has “driver training” on the side. Ed has jinxed us. That is our bus.
Sampson, our driver, however, is anything but a student driver. He deftly maneuvers us through the narrow city streets and, at times, narrower rural roads. Our first stop is up a mountain to a waterfall. I decline climbing for 15 minutes to see the falls. Between the heat and the fact that uphill makes me short of breath, I decide to wait. When we leave the falls, I sit in the front passenger seat to get better shots. Up and down we drive. The island is lush. Mostly rain forest, but there is a part that is arid. Go figure. The islanders do not seem to be as poverty stricken as those in Granada and the homes are in better shape. The roads are still narrow. At times, one vehicle must stop to allow the approaching one to pass. Pot holes abound. Agriculture is strong, bananas, cocoa, avocados, coconut among other things are grown. A distillery makes rum. At the end of the 4 hour tour, it is raining. I try to tough it out and shop a bit, but it is too much even for me. I surrender and return to the ship.
Dinner is rack of lamb. I am very happy. After dinner, I head to the theater to watch the juggler/comedian. He has some good moments. The Chapmans and the Armanis join me for the show. Before the show, crew members in costume roam the theater throwing out trinkets. At one point, the pirate (can you say “Arrrrrrrrrrrgh”) dumps some water on the Indian lass and the battle begins. After the show, I head to the piazza to see the Halloween celebration. Many people are in costume. The area is decorated with spider webs, carved pumpkins, and orange and black balloons suspend above everything. As I get on the elevator to go back to my cabin, Betsy and her friends come aboard shouting “trick or treat.” So, I hand out Twizzlers to everyone on the elevator (which probably exceeds the number of Twizzlers I would have handed out at home – not many trick or treaters in my neighborhood these days).
Sunday, November 1, 2009: St. Thomas.
All souls day (or is it all saints day? I get confused). I sleep in a bit (to 8), meet Pat and Peggy, the Blairs, the Armanis, and Steve at 9 to go into town and shop. We take a taxi ($4) to the shopping district. Peggy leads the way to diamonds and other treasures. Pat and I split off early and shop for t-shirt bargains. One store offers 4 for $18. We look, but continue shopping. Then we find the stalls. T-shirts 4 for $10. And they are of good quality. What a deal. We buy many. Soon, however, the heat is rising and we fade and return to the ship. We get iced tea in the buffet and I nosh on some melon. I think this is going to be one of those lazy days of reading and loafing around. About noon or one o’clock rain fell. The rain was light, but persistent. It did not last long and did cool things off. About dinner time, however, the skies became very dark. Now, it may be November, but it should not be as dark at 6:30 pm as it got. During dinner, the ship set sail and headed into the Atlantic. The ship started rolling a bit. The Atlantic is not as calm as the Caribbean.
After dinner we head to the Princess Theater to see the third full production show. This is a new show called “Once Upon a Dream.” It is fabulous. The singers and dancers are top notch. What really blows me away, however, is the tech. The “scenery” is projected on white walls that have doors in them and that move about the stage. Nine projectors, which are controlled by computer, put the constantly changing scenery on the walls. I cannot describe the effect that it has. With the ship’s movement, you sometimes feel like you are moving in the scenes. I am jealous. I work at the best endowed community theater in Indianapolis (the Civic Theater is also the oldest community theater in the country) and they could only dream of tech like this. The show repeats two times tomorrow night, and I intend to see at least one of those performances. We are starting to wind down to the end.
Monday, November 2, 2009: A day at sea
This means it can be as relaxing or as activity filled as you desire. The ship always has things to do. Or, if you don’t want to do anything, well, that is your choice. So, to start my day at sea, I will jot down some collected observations, comments, rants, and advice to offer to cruisers.
First, the rants: when the ship is rolling along in the Atlantic, one way some people cope is to stay drunk. While this is not an advised way of coping, it was the choice of some large group down the way from my cabin. Not a wise choice. If you are in the buffet section, eating, please keep your shirt on and closed. This is especially true if you are over 50 and don’t have a great body (and not that many of us over 50 have great bodies). Nobody wants to see a wrinkled hairy chest in a restaurant. Similarly, if you don’t have the body for a bikini or speedo, don’t wear it by the pool. It is not a pretty sight. On your private balcony, we don’t care. Men, if you are on a tour and are going into a church, remove your hat/cap/head covering. I know that it is a third world island, but it is still a house of worship so please show some respect. (this rant originated in Aruba when we visited the oldest chapel on the island and as I was leaving [and putting my hat back on] I observed a group of men enter with their caps on, thinking nothing of it.
If you are lucky, you will get a room steward like Ruben, the one I had this trip. Ruben is one of the best room stewards I have had. He is friendly, but most important, he is quick in taking care of the room. I leave in the morning for breakfast and by the time I return the room has been cleaned and made ready. He keeps me in ice. Sounds like a little thing, but not every room steward I have had has been as good. Princess, keep Ruben, he does you proud. Passengers, if you get Ruben or one that good, leave him a little extra over the basic tip at the end of the cruise.
Take lots of pictures. Taking pictures through the windows of a moving tour bus can be tricky. You often get a reflection that you don’t want. You also get jarred around a lot, which throws your shot off. All I can say is with digital cameras, just keep clickin’. You will get some good ones.
Driving the roads in the islands is tricky and hairy. I like roller coasters, but they sometimes have nothing over driving island roads (except speed, you can’t go that fast on the islands). Speed bumps (or more accurately, speed islands in the road) make sure that people don’t go too fast. Pot holes accent that. With my lack of depth perception, I would have a hard time driving the islands. Pros like Wendell, Sherman and Sampson, make it look easy. They know what their bus can or cannot do. This is very important on narrow roads with a drop off on the side.
When the elevator door opens, wait for the people who are exiting to exit. It is common courtesy and really makes it easier for you to get on. Conversely, if you are exiting and people are waiting to get on, then get off quickly, or have the courtesy to hold the door open for them so they can get on before the doors slam shut. If you are waiting for an up elevator and a down elevator stops with only one floor below you, just get on. Remember, Heraclitus teaches us that “the way up and the way down are one and the same.” And, sometimes, the elevator will reverse itself and just go up because no one has punched the call button below.
Many use the day to get some sun, rest, visit, and finish books. At 4:30, Pat and Peggy host a cocktail party. It is in the Wheelhouse Lounge. Actually, it is in a sectioned off portion of the lounge. The party and space is quite nice and we are all there. We all drink, thanks to Pat and Peggy.
The Captains reception is tonight. Our invites say 6:15, but we will be eating at that time. Peggy calls to get the times changed. When she goes to the office, the peon at the desk tells her that 21 people cannot change times. This is a challenge to Peggy. I don’t plan to go to the party anyway. In the past, the drinks are weak and of poor quality, and I really want to see the production show again. I found out later that Peggy took some of the others with her and they were welcomed. Plenty of room and free drinks. But, I got a great seat in the theater. The show, once again, blows me away. By far, the production shows on this ship have been the best that I have seen. Princess is doing the arts proud by sponsoring shows of this quality. First, it gives singers and dancers good steady jobs to ply their art. Second, and perhaps as important, it gives techies good solid employment plying their art with equipment that is the best in the business. Theaters would kill to get what this theater has.
One more thing that I learned from Ruben: if you put the round soap on end on the soap indentation by the sink, it not only won’t roll around, but it will also not get gloopy on the bottom. A good trick.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009, Princess Cays
This is a small islet with a land bridge to the Bahamas that the line owns. It is secluded and secure. It is set for a fun day at the beach. There are cabanas, lounge chairs, even small chalet’s as Steve calls them. There are water sports and there is sand. The water is crystal clear. Peggy has a black key card indicating good rank in the realm of cruisers. This gets us to the top of the line for disembarking. The tender boats line up, fill with cruisers and whisk us to shore. While it is hot, a breeze does blow and there are areas with shade and seats. There is even an area for children that has sand, a wading pool, and an area with awnings giving shade so that the kids don’t get too much sun. Peggy snorkels. Steve and I don’t (that silly drowning thing). We do walk the area. I last about 2 hours and then return to the ship, hot and a bit soaked.
|The Only Shade||Ready to Scuba|
Pat and I go to the Internet café to print out boarding passes for several of the group who were flying Southwest. I am a bit early, so I return later and get mine. I do pack my bags to be ready for departure tomorrow. We have to sit the bags that are to be picked up outside the door before we go to dinner. We must be careful not to pack anything we may need overnight or the next morning. The final meal has us all recounting the days and the trip. This has been a good group with which to travel. We have continued our friendships. We are looking forward to the next cruise and to the IAL meeting in Southern Indiana next summer.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009: The way back home
Six a.m. comes early. It is not really light but the sun is starting to rise. I shower, shave, dress and put the last items in my small carry-on bag. My 2 large bags would be ready for disembarkation by now.
Peggy and I go to the buffet for a last breakfast. Pat is already there. Steve joins us. We have a final breakfast (they have corned beef hash) and say our farewells. At 8:05 I am to be in the Explorers Lounge to get my permission to leave the ship. I get there a little late as the elevators are packed. I hear “Orange 5” being called. I am “Orange 4.” The announcer says that Orange 4 has been called, so go. I walk the two flights down and punch out my key card one last time. My bags are ready and a baggage helper is right there to help me. Customs is a breeze and I am out. Or, at least, so I think. Things have been too smooth. The transfer to the airport makes up for it. The bus situation is a bit chaotic, to say the least. We are moved, then told to move back. It is hot. The people there shout at us. I get a bit irate. The love boat doesn’t work so well if you irritate everyone when they are in the final leaving process.
At the airport, it is, again, hurry up and wait. When I get to Southwest’s counter, I find that we have to wait a bit to check our luggage (4 hours prior to flight time). So, I sit with Betsy and her group before I check my bags and get to the gate. Fort Lauderdale airport does have free Internet access, and stations to use, so I check my e-mails. Over 150 messages, and I had been on the one-a-day digest for WW traffic. I read and get it cleaned out a bit.
We fly to Baltimore to catch a plane to Indy. In Baltimore, we find that our connecting flight is delay of a bit more than an hour. The Baltimore airport does not have free WiFi, so I am stuck. We walk, end up talking with two teachers who are traveling to Indy for a convention. Finally, Southwest quickly gets us loaded and off the ground. We arrive in Indy only 30 to 45 minutes later than we originally were to land. I call my friend who is picking me up and go to baggage claim. My bags are among the first on the conveyer.
I will be glad to be home. Tomorrow, I have taken the day off and I can sleep in and do massive amounts of laundry. The trip was a success.
September 2010 – Alaska
ES: Air Intake with a Sniff and a Click
Support and Survival
by Ronda Kirk
In October, Pat Wertz Sanders wrote in her column about grimacing and facial expressions. I had thought some time ago, how like actors we Larys do become, all secretly longing to once again speak with a human voice, with those words emerging with a resonance and magic like quality. Wouldn't it be just like a beautiful piece of music to our ears! I was passing an acting academy shortly afterwards, when they were doing auditions for new students, and how I wished I could have joined them. However, on reaching home, I sat down and let my imagination run riot. I composed this poem, in that I had joined them, before they discovered that I was speechless.
OH TO BE AN ACTOR
By Len A. Hynds
' FACIAL EXPRESSIONS ' the test card read,
Firing orders, each in their turn,
"Look bashful" "Regretful" "Blissful too",
"Brave" "Lonely" "Horrified" "Hot".
"Angry" "Envious" "Slightly demure",
"Confident" "Smiling" then, "A lovesick fool".
In the Ashford Laryngectomee Club, we have three Nursing Sisters of the ENT ( Rotary ) Ward, who take an active part, Margaret, Barbara ( Babs), and Caroline. They are all marvelous. This poem was read out to Nursing Sister Babs Wagstaff, by one of the Lary wives at a club meeting, and she had to leave the room, with tears in her eyes. I call it.........
By Len A. Hynds
In that dream like state, twix't life and death,
Such skills they had, as they saved my life.
I knew that angels, had been so near,
As I opened my eyes, feeling so weak,
That angel was Babs, our Sister Wagstaff,
So thank-you Babs, for just being there.
I know I write, for Oh! so many,
Welcome To Our New Members:
I would like to extend a "Warm Welcome" to our most recently accepted laryngectomees, caregivers, vendors, and professionals who have joined our WebWhispers community within this past month. There is a great wealth of knowledge and information to be accessed and obtained from our website, email lists, and newsletters. If ever there should be questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to submit them to us from the "Contacts" page of our website.
Thanks and best wishes to all,
VP Internet Activities
We welcome the 19 new members who joined us during November 2009:
|Brianne Bowker - (SLP)
|Robin A. Caldwell
|Alvin Earl Chapman
|H. Michael Clark
Pembroke Pines, FL
Pitt Meadows, CAN
|Jennifer Ireland - (SLP)
Co Donegal, Ireland
|Peter Reitzes - (SLP)
West Monroe, LA
Sqaw Valley, CA
|Pamela Shuff - (Caregiver)
West Monroe, LA
|Ashely Wadkins - (Caregiver)
|Lynda Yannuzzi - (Caregiver)
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