A ‘Holidaze’ Poem . . . or Not!

by Bob Sparrow

‘Twas the week after Christmas

In a year of unrest

Let’s review what’s just happened

The worst and the best

The year started out

with a Capitol riot

And a new president,

But D. Trump didn’t buy it

 

Tiger Woods crashed his car

After one of his rounds

‘Cause he couldn’t drive straight

So he drove out of bounds

 

The news was still filled

With street gangs and shooters

And stores were still targets

For bandits and looters

OK, I was trying to write a creative and uplifting holiday poem, something recapping the year – both good and bad.  But as I scanned the Internet searching for this year’s events, I saw nothing but bad news; how the pandemic was growing, then the Delta variant, then the Omicron variant.  After reviewing this past year, all I had to show for it were symptoms of ‘writer’s block’ and I wondered if there was a shot for that – I’m thinking whiskey!

Realizing that we were mostly dividing the country only with politics, we apparently needed something else to disagree on, so up pops the Coronavirus vaccine.  Was it effective?  Was it too soon?  Was it science?  Was it politics?  Was it the bottom line for pharmaceutical companies?  We’ve been told to ‘believe the science,’ but the science seems to be on whatever side you want it to be on.  So now we’ve got people who believe the vaccine will save lives and others who believe the vaccine will cost lives.  And some that just say they aren’t going to let the government tell them what to do.

What a year!  Well, at least we ended the war in Afghanistan this year.  OK, maybe that wasn’t handled particularly well either.

Crime in most major cities reached record highs this year, based on our tolerance for looting and the notion that the police should probably be defunded.

The whipped cream on top of the year’s sundae is that inflation has now raised its ugly head – so we’ve got that going for us.  We didn’t need the Grinch to steal Christmas, we handled that on our own.  Bring back the poem!

But some good things have happened

Like my reverse mortgage biz

So I think I’ll enjoy

Pops famous ice cream fizz

As a final insult this year, I got a note from Santa in my stocking saying, I’ve read your blog and next year I’m getting you a dictionary, a thesaurus and spellcheck!

So, this New Years, rather than wishing someone a “Happy New Year”, I’m going to wish them a Happier New Year – happier than the last two years!  It’s bound to be . . . right?

 

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES AND A GIN FIZZ

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

In the musical, “Carousel”, a young couple sing a song about their future, when they can look back on a life well lived.  The song contains one of my favorite phrases:  “When today is a long time ago.”  That phrase perfectly summarizes the sentiment of Christmas for me.  The holiday season by its very nature brings forth sentimentality and remembrance of Christmases past.  As usual, Winston Churchill phrased it perfectly when he said, “Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing, but of reflection.”

 

I’ve experienced many good Christmas celebrations, including watching grandchildren’s faces light up on Christmas morning when they see, for a fact, the existence of Santa.  But the most sentimental memories harken back to days long ago.  There are three Christmases that stand out for me, in part because, even at the time, I knew that one day I would look back on them with a special fondness.  The first was in 1971, when, as the photo clearly illustrates, my brothers and I were a lot younger.  But that Christmas was special because our brother Jack and his family came home for the holidays.  His job had taken him to Canada that year, so we had gone months without seeing him and his family.  We had so much fun, finally gathered in one place again, with a renewed appreciation for being together.

The second Christmas I remember fondly was ten years later – 1981.  It had been an eventful decade, with some rough marital challenges, so Christmas Eve ended up being just our parents, us three kids, and Bob’s wife, Linda.  We had a very long cocktail hour, followed by a delicious dinner, and then someone (I think it was Bob) suggested that we go Christmas caroling in our parents’ neighborhood.  Everyone except our mom (who was more reluctant than the rest of us to make a fool of herself) serenaded all of their friends in the area.  I think we brought our own refreshments, and then people invited us in for more, and all I remember is Dad singing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” with much gusto as we wandered down the street, laughing all the way.  Remembering that night still brings a smile to my face.

Finally, in 2000, I remember Christmas with sentimentality and a bit of sadness.  Dad’s heart was weak, he had lost a lot of weight, and we knew his time was short.  We gathered at Bob and Linda’s house, Pop dressed up in a green sweatsuit, just like an elf.  Despite this rather poor photo of him, he was in his usual cheerful mood. He was very tired and early in the evening, as the rest of us gathered at the outside bar, Pop decided to take snooze in the family room recliner.  When I went into the house to check on him, he was dozing, but awake enough that he took my hand, and told me how much he loved me.  He died just four weeks later.  Christmas has not been the same since.

We pay homage to him each time we’re together, re-telling stories or invoking some of his hilarious quips.  And each Christmas we fix Pop’s Christmas Ice Cream fizz.  It was one of his specialties and he made it every Christmas morning.  It is delicious, and fattening, as all good treats should be.  Unlike Christmas cookies or pies, the fizz has the added benefit of making you feel just a little bit better.  Sometimes that can come in handy on Christmas morning. So, this year we are once again sharing his recipe so that you and your family might also enjoy this wonderful tradition.

Bob and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas.  Many of you will be able to gather together again this year and that alone makes it a Christmas worth remembering, when Christmas 2021 is a long time ago.

 

POP’S CHRISTMAS ICE CREAM FIZZ

Fill a blender 1/4 full of ice cubes

Add 6 jiggers of gin

Add 4 scoops of French Vanilla ice cream

Add 1 small bottle of soda water (the size you get in a 6-pack)

My brother Bob adds an egg, so the white adds some froth, brother Jack doesn’t add an egg.  Personally, I’d add it just because you can then claim it’s a protein drink.

Just blend it well and – voila – you have a concoction sure to put a positive spin on everyone and everything!

Our mom served them in a wine glass with a dash of nutmeg.  As we got older, we would conspire with Pop and ditch the wine glass for a chilled beer mug from the freezer. Saved having to go back for seconds…or thirds.

 

 

Tahoe – The Rest of the Story

by Bob Sparrow

(Post is a continuation from the post on November 29)

Linda at Emerald Bay

Circumnavigating the Lake

It was another horrible day in paradise – clear blue, cloudless sky on a cool crisp fall morning at the most beautiful alpine lake in the country, where we decided to take the day to drive around the lake and hit some old haunts that we’ve not visited in years.  The minute we walk out of our room we are engulfed in a butterscotch/pine smell that tells us we are not in Kansas anymore.

Going up the ‘west shore’, our first stop is Emerald Bay, where we pull over at an observation turn-out and soaked up the spectacular view.  As we cruised along the lake-side road, just before arriving in Tahoe City we turn up Chinquapin Lane and stop at a cabin that I used to own with my college roommate, Ken Poulsen.  We head up the road less than a mile and come to Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge, one of the great lakeside restaurants.  We were going to have lunch there, but it is only open for dinner during this time of year (‘this time of year’ is known as ‘the shoulder’ season – the time between the end of summer and the opening of ski season).  We head into Tahoe City and plan to eat at Jake’s on the Lake, but the  ‘shoulder season’ strikes again, only open for dinner.  We stop at the location of brother, Jack’s restaurant, The Off Shore Bar & Grill, which is now office space.

Sunnyside during the summer

Sunnyside last week

Just out of Tahoe City heading east is a condo project, sitting high above the road, called Rocky Ridge, which affords those in the front condos the most spectacular view of the lake I’ve seen.  It is where Suzanne’s and my parents’ ashes rest.  Although it has a guard gate that doesn’t allow anyone in without the gate combination, we were able to talk a maintenance man into letting us in.  We got to pay our respects to my folks.

Finally, lunch at GarWoods

We continued around the lake still looking for lunch and finally found Gar Woods Grill & Pier and sat on the deck overlooking the lake and had a great lunch before we headed into Nevada, where we were first greeted by Cal-Neva.  Well, we weren’t really greeted since it’s been closed for many years now, but still sits above Crystal Bay and was once a great hotel and casino owned in part by Frank Sinatra, unfortunately, the other part was owned by Chicago mobster, Sam Giancana.  Someday it will reopen and I hope to be one of its first guests.

We continued around the lake into Incline Village and stopped at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino to try our hand at some games of chance – some of us were luckier than others.  We completed the last leg of the trip as we were coming down the east side of the lake to South Shore as the sun was just setting behind the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  A spectacular sunset on a fabulous day!!

Genoa Lakes

Linda at Budd’s lot

When packing for this trip we weren’t sure of the weather, so we packed golf clubs and ski jackets and wondered if we’d have to play golf in our ski jackets.  We didn’t, it was shorts and golf shirt weather at Genoa Lakes Golf Club on ‘the other side of the mountain’.  Prior to teeing off, we visited our good friends, Jack & JJ Budd’s, lot on the golf course – awesome view!

After making our donations at Harrah’s, Harvey’s, Hard Rock, and various other casinos around the lake, and having seen all the old haunts, we decided that we had seen everything we wanted to see, done everything we wanted to do and lost all the money we had with us, so . . . we decided to head home on Wednesday, which we did.

It was a beautiful, short and sweet, five-day trip, and it’s always nice to get home into air that we can sink our teeth into!

 

 

 

OUR ANNUAL USELESS CHRISTMAS GIFT GIVING GUIDE – 2021

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

It’s the time of year that finds many of you in the throes of holiday shopping.  That is, if you can find anything on the shelves.  I bought some Christmas cards for the family the other day and noticed that there were a lot more “slip the money in the slot” cards this year.  Money always fits and never has to be returned, but it’s not much fun to open.  So, for those of you who like to actually give a gift, we offer the 2021 edition of our Useless Christmas Gift Guide.

It seems that everyone is on a health kick these days, trying to take off the extra pounds packed on during COVID.  We offer Kale Candy Canes as a gift that won’t be forgotten.   It’s a genuine two-fer: a candy and a vegetable!  That said, I wouldn’t recommend giving these to your grandchildren, lest you be forever branded as the grandparent that gives really lousy candy.

If you are living with someone who has put on the aforementioned extra weight, we strongly recommend that you not make mention of it.  But if you are foolish enough to do so, we suggest you stock up on bandages for the resulting scrapes and bruises.  What could be better than Bacon Bandages?  The problems may set in when you have to explain why you are wearing bacon, but hey, you got yourself into this mess so you can get yourself out.

A lot of people discover new ailments, many of them imagined after watching infomercials on TV.  If you are living with a hypochondriac, we have found just the right stocking stuffer – the hypochondriac 50 Things That Might Kill You deck of cards.  The recipient simple shuffles the deck, chooses a card, and then complains of that ailment for the rest of the day.

 

Of course, if you’re of a certain age, you can blame everything on your bad memory.  But blaming memory issues on someone else calls for a deft hand.  After all, you don’t want to insult them by mentioning their seeming incoherence, especially during the holidays.  So much like you might offer a breath mint to someone who just ate tzatziki sauce, we suggest you offer them Memory Mints.  These are extra-strength, which comes in handy if you’re hosting your in-laws and have heard the same story 50 times.  These mints could save your marriage.

 

We’ve all seen the news lately where gangs of thieves are bursting into stores to rob them.  As you are out doing your holiday shopping it pays to be on alert and to protect yourself as best you can.  To ensure your safety we suggest the Switchblade Spork.  It will come in handy as you celebrate a holiday meal but can instantly transform into a deadly weapon.  Sort of.  No guarantees.

 

And who among us hasn’t acted a bit snippy lately?  It’s hard to find good news and we’re all tired of pandemic panic.  As mentioned in a previous post, there has been a rise in rude behavior, road rage and generally bitchy moods.  Speaking with some degree of authority on this, I’m tired of saying, “I’m sorry”.  How much easier to deal with an apology if we simply use the Apology form?  It covers everything from, “I forgot” to “I’m a schmuck”.  There’s even a place to check to indicate whether you will – or will not – ever commit that infraction again.  You might want to stock up on these.

Finally, and I hate to beat a dead horse here, but it has been a trying couple of years.  Many of us could use a little polish on our social skills.  Our final recommendation is a classic: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie, and I think should be handed out free at the DMV.  Or Starbucks.  Anywhere that might get to the greatest amount of people in the shortest amount of time.  We are hanging onto civilization by a thread these days.

I hope this list helps make your holiday shopping a bit easier.  Or at least provided a laugh.  Next time:  Pop’s famous Christmas Ice Cream Fizz recipe!

Tahoe – The Lake, The Ridge and the Tavern

by Bob Sparrow

The Ridge Tahoe

About a month ago I was notified that we had a timeshare week given to us by Interval International during Covid, that was going to expire by December 24th of this year.  We had just returned from our Mexican cruise and with the ‘holidaze’ fast approaching and air travel becoming less and less attractive, it seemed as if the week would be wasted – unless we could find somewhere that we wanted to go, was within driving distance, and was available between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

As I surfed Interval’s available online options, I came across The Ridge – Tahoe, which sits on a ridge (I’m guessing that’s where they got the name) above South Lake Tahoe by Heavenly Valley Ski Resort.  Growing up in northern California, I have many fond memories of Lake Tahoe, as my family started weekending and vacationing there when I was about eight years old (Yes, that was back when the earth was still cooling).  I had my first ‘sort of’ date there when I was in junior high and older brother Jack, who was in high school, brought his girlfriend for a stay with our family at ‘The Lake’, and she brought along her younger sister, who was a year younger than me.  We met at Tahoe Tavern and watched a movie.  I don’t remember what movie, and it wasn’t because I was preoccupied with my first date, I was petrified and probably was busy eating popcorn and didn’t even offer her any.  Sorry, Meg Howard, wherever you are.

Tahoe Tavern

Tahoe Tavern was a classic!  It was first opened in 1902 as a luxury hotel just outside of Tahoe City, at the northern end of the lake. It had 225 rooms and a casino – yes, a casino in California.  You could get there by road, rail, or raft and its opulence attracted San Francisco’s high society.    The resort’s dress code for lunch and dinner became so formal that a dress and heels were required for women and a coat and tie for men.  Aside from the very high-end restaurant and theater, there was a bowling alley and a bar with a beautiful view of the lake.  Unfortunately, it burned down in the mid-60s, so I’m glad I got a chance to see this magnificent hotel.  Condos have been built on the property since and it’s not quite the same; no, it’s not even close to the same.

But I digress.  Linda and I left this past Saturday afternoon to drive up picturesque Highway 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountains.  We spent the night in beautiful Bishop so we could drive up to the lake and be in front of a television by Sunday afternoon so we could watch her Vikings play my 49ers.

Creekside Inn

We got to Bishop and had a great dinner at Whiskey Creek restaurant, which has been there since 1924.  We stayed at the Creekside Inn in Bishop, which I would definitely recommend, although I have no complements for their complementary breakfast – go next door to the famous Schat’s Bakery & Restaurant.

The Sunday morning drive from Bishop to South Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful in the state, particularly on a crisp cloudless morning which shows the spectacular snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains.  We arrived in time for the Viking-49er game, which I was a little happier about the results than Linda.

Our time at Tahoe next time

OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH TSA

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

 

People of a certain age may remember a song we sang in grammar school this time of year: Over the River and Through the Wood.  The gist of the song is that a happy family bundles into a sleigh and glides over the snow to their grandmother’s house.  In the song, it is noted that the horses knew the way, which was a good thing because they didn’t have Google Maps when this song was written.  I remember singing that song and wishing that we lived in a place that had snow, rather than our rather mundane California sunshine.

Those were simpler times in many ways, not the least of which it was a lot easier to direct a horse through the woods than navigate an airport on Thanksgiving weekend.  Now that the pandemic seems to be abating everywhere except Arizona, there are predictions of a heavy travel week ahead, both on the ground and in the air.

4.2 million travelers will take to the skies this Thanksgiving.  That is an 80% increase over last year, witch isn’t saying much since no one was traveling last year.  At the beginning of the holiday travel period last Friday, TSA screened over 2.2 million people at airport security checkpoints around the U.S.  TSA has warned that passengers should arrive early and expect long lines.  They have also reminded everyone what is and what is not allowed in carry-on baggage.  I stipulate up front that since most people did not travel in 2020 it can be difficult to remember all the rules.  But  as you can see from the photo of items that were confiscated, there are people who apparently need remedial help.  One wonders why it was necessary to take a bottle of Heinz gravy and a can of yams to wherever this person was going.  If they are flying to a city that has an airport, one might reasonably assume that there is also a grocery store, one that carries such gourmet items as bottled cranberry sauce.  Well, to be charitable, perhaps this person was afraid of being stranded at a gate for eight hours and wanted to have some provisions.  I will say that the wine is totally understandable given a) they aren’t serving alcohol on planes due to belligerent passengers and b) it’s wine.  This person might also be flying out of Phoenix Sky Harbor, where the concession employees have declared a strike for this week.  So not only will there be no food available at the airport, there will not be any Starbucks.  Between no food, no coffee, and having to wear a mask, I suspect there is going to be a plethora of grouchy passengers.

Speaking of which, the day before Thanksgiving sees more drunk driving accidents than almost any other day of the year. In fact, it is sometimes referred to as the biggest bar night in America. Others call the day “Drinksgiving.”  It is particularly popular with college-aged kids coming back to their home towns and the parents of said kids, who suddenly find their empty nest strewn with laundry and filled with music that has undecipherable lyrics.  Nevertheless, lots of people will be on the road this year.  AAA is predicting that 48.3 million Americans are expected to travel by car this week.  The worst time for traffic will be between 1:30 – 6 p.m. on Wednesday, particularly in big cities.  So if you can sneak out a bit early you might save yourself hours of staring at the rear end of a semi-truck.

Regardless of where you will be spending Thanksgiving this year, my brother and I wish you a very happy day, filled with fun, family and food.  I plan on driving this year on Thanksgiving – right down the middle of the fairway.

Imagine If YOU Handled YOUR Money This Way!

by Bob Sparrow

At a time when there is as much divide in the country that most of us ‘seniors’ have ever experienced, I will try to use the tried and true method of uniting disparate groups by giving them a common enemy.  To mis-quote War of 1812 Naval Commander, Oliver Hazard Perry, “We have met the enemy and it is us!” 

We here at From a Bird’s Eye View, rarely, if ever, wade into political battlefields, as we understand that there is no winning there, but indeed this blog is about our government.  Both sides.    Admittedly this missive was borne out a closer look at the recent staggering $1 trillion ‘infrastructure bill’ – and while it’s easy to take shots at Biden, this is a shot at our entire government, past and present.  

 Warning: If your day has been going along just fine so far, you may want to skip reading this blog as it may be upsetting to those who might think that our government is a well-oiled machine. 

 Following are just some of the places where your hard-earned tax money has gone . . . 

  • Congressional investigators were able to receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional college they created to test the Department of Education
  • $200,000 is going for a tattoo removal program in Mission Hills, CA  
  • Congress recently gave Alaska Airlines $500,000 to paint a Chinook salmon on a Boeing 737 
  • The Pentagon recently spend $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida 
  • The National Institutes of Health spends $1.3 million per month to rent a lab facility that it cannot use 
  • We spend $2.6 million training Chinese prostitutes to drink more responsibly on the job.  Yep!!
  • The Security & Exchange Commission is spending $3.9 million rearranging desks and offices at its Washington DC headquarters 
  • Lawmakers diverted $13 million from Hurricane Katrina relief spending to build a museum celebrating the Army Corps of Engineers – the agency partially responsible for the failed levees that flooded New Orleans
  • Congress appropriated $20 million for “commemoration of success” celebrations related to Iraq and Afghanistan 
  • The Defense Department wasted $100 million in unused flight tickets and never bothered to collect refunds even though the tickets were refundable  
  • More than $13 billion in Iraq aid has been classified as wasted or stolen, another $7.8 billion cannot be accounted for
  • Washington spends $25 billion annually maintaining unused or vacant federal properties 
  • Health care fraud is estimated to cost taxpayers more than $60 billion annually 

A GAO audit classified nearly half of all purchases on government credit card as improper, fraudulent or embezzled 

Unfortunately, these are small drops in a very big bucket – I don’t blame Democrats and I don’t blame Republicans or anyone in between – I blame the politicians who WE HAVE ELECTED! 

If these billions of reasons don’t justify term limits, then we’ll be stuck with the politicians that we voted for, who are making lots of money for themselves while they are irresponsibly wasting ours!

As the American journalist and satirist PJ O’Rourke once said, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” 

Have a nice day!

 

 

 

 

MISS-ING MANNERS

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Have you noticed that peopled are on edge a bit more these days?  Every morning I read an article about road rage or someone going “postal” on a store clerk or delivery person.  A friend of ours who owns a small gift shop says that almost everyone who comes in is a bit chippy.  And pity the poor flight attendants working in this environment – in the past few months one had her two front teeth knocked out and another had her nose broken by unruly passengers.  Last week a friend and her husband attended an “ABBA” cover band concert at a church.  They were seated next to two twenty-something women who carried on their animated conversation long after the concert started.  Finally, unable to enjoy the concert due to their talking, my friend turned to the woman next to her and asked if they would please take their conversation out to the lobby.  To which the young woman responded, “We’re enjoying the concert.”  When my friend said that she was not because she couldn’t hear over their chatter, the young woman retorted, “Oh, shut up!”  My friend is about the nicest person you would want to meet so she let it drop.  I would have carried on a bit, but then I’m not as nice.

Still, I do have a working knowledge of manners and I have been appalled by how rude people have become.  It has apparently become a huge problem for business owners because, imagine this – their employees don’t like being treated like chattel.  I’ve seen a number of signs outside of restaurants and stores imploring customers to be kind.  The most popular sign says something to the effect of “Our service may be slow due to understaffing.  Please be nice to the people who have shown up for work.”  Even at our golf club, several members of the board of directors were recently accosted and verbally abused by members who disagreed with a policy decision.  We’ve been a member for 23 years and that is unheard of – until now.

There was a time, not so long ago, when people knew how to behave in public.  Whole generations of kids were taught to treat others as we would want to be treated.  Somehow that concept has been lost.  Some say that the COVID pandemic has caused much of the tension, but surely there were signs of it before 2020.   One psychologist has opined that rude behavior began with the advent of online discussions.  The anonymity one can achieve behind a computer screen allows for comments that would never occur in a face-to-face discussion.  Without any filters, people feel that they can say anything.  The pandemic, and the never-ending aftermath, has contributed to the extent that it has brought people to their breaking point.  The candid, often rude, comments once reserved for online, have now spilled over to restaurants, offices and, clearly, airplanes.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about school curriculums but I don’t see much about teaching kids the Golden Rule.  Perhaps we should bring back Judith Martin, or as she is better known, Miss Manners.  She has been writing a weekly column about good behavior since 1978.  She addresses everything from how to handle picky eaters at a dinner party to sidewalk etiquette.  As a society, we would be far better off if we all learned how to treat others with a bit more kindness and respect.  Maybe we could start with Congress.

Crusin’ Through the Pandemic

by Bob Sparrow

To misquote Samuel Clemens, “The reports of my possible death have been greatly exaggerated” . . . by me.  Yes, I’m happy to report that cruising and Mexico were both safe and fun as we arrived home alive and well, albeit a few pounds heavier.  OK, maybe more than a few!

Our cruise started in the Port of San Pedro, which, as mentioned by Suzanne in last week’s blog, the docks are filled with hundreds of thousands of shipping containers, yes, hundreds of thousands; while over 150 ships wait off shore to off-load more.  Reminding me that this Christmas could be the one that the Grinch actually steals.  But we’re not worrying about Christmas yet, Linda and I are headed to Cabo San Lucas, if we can navigate through all the ships anchored in the harbor, on a five-day cruise aboard the Grand Princess.  I’m guessing that Linda is thinking “24/7” or 5 with no other couples, only my spouse – yikes”!!  Oh, maybe that was me thinking that.  She was thinking about the casino!

As we set sail, (There really aren’t any sails) we see that we are far from the ship’s passenger capacity, which is 2800; in fact we are less than 25% full at 650 passengers! The crew numbered 1,150!

Aside from nearly a two-to-one crew-to-passenger ratio and a staff, from all parts of the world, that was friendly, accommodating and professional, here’s a few more things that made this cruise a success:

  • DSB (Don’t Stop Believin’)

    Great entertainment –a British Invasion group that was awesome, a Journey tribute band, DSB, a Hall & Oats tribute band, another 80s cover band (in case you’re wondering, the theme of the cruise was ‘The 80s’, which had me wondering if that wasn’t the average age of the passengers). It was close.

  • There were so many bars on board that, one day at sea, we decided we’d do a ‘Pub Crawl’ and count them.  We only got to seven . . . I think; we lost count, but we were proud to have maxed out our ‘unlimited’ drink package, which led me to wonder, how do you max out an unlimited drink package?  Well, we did and the only ‘crawling’ we ended up doing was back to our room.
  • We met some great people – including a couple that own a dinner theater in the Inland Empire where they perform. We’ll be hitting one of their shows soon.  We also met several awesome Veterans when we attended a Veterans-only gathering on board – one Vet was 99 years old and fought in World War II.  Thank you for your service!!!
  • Because of the small number of passengers, we never had to wait for anything or worry about getting a dinner reservation or a good seat for a show.
  • There were various classes on board, we both took a ‘line dancing’ class and then we followed our passions as I took a cooking class and Linda headed for the casino.

Our one complaint would be about the food – it was marginal at best, with the exceptions of a couple of good steak & lobster dinners at the Crown Room, and the pizza, that was good enough to have for breakfast!

Oh yeah, about our stop in Cabo San Lucas. We spent a couple of hours there walking through the harbor, where we were bombarded by vendors selling everything from sombreros to their sister, and then took a water taxi to ‘The Office’ a restaurant/bar around the corner from the harbor and right on the sand.  We had a ‘good day at the office’, then headed back to the boat.

All in all, a very fun experience that further whet our appetite for more cruising. We do have an Alaska cruise on the Majestic Princess next summer, so we’ll just have to remember to eat before we go.

 

 

THANKSHOLLOWISTMAS

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

             Cargo Ships in L.A.

By now I’m sure you have read about the supply chain problem that has hit the nation.  I’ve heard various excuses for why it is happening, from no workers to unload the cargo ships to a plot by the Chinese to ruin our economy.  So once again our trip to Costco looks like a rugby scrum as we dash back to the paper towel and toilet paper aisle.  This week several media outlets warned that turkey is in short supply this year.  Specifically, small turkeys will be hard to find because, like last year,  many people are limiting the size of their Thanksgiving gatherings.  Last year, of course, we were in the throes of the COVID pandemic so it was understandable that families might keep the guest list  short.  But this year?  I’m thinking people are limiting the size because, having unburdened themselves from hosting a huge dinner last year, they realize how refreshing it is not to hear drunk Uncle Louis tell his breast and thigh joke again.  Regardless of the reason, the good folks who run the turkey companies are advising that we should buy our turkey early this year.

               

A really frozen turkey

Just how early do they expect us to purchase our turkey?  I suppose if you have a good-sized freezer you could buy one this week.  According to Good Housekeeping, a turkey can stay in a freezer for up to a year. But if you’re like me and made the mistake of purchasing a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer, we’re lucky to fit in a couple of frozen Cornish game hens.  So I thought maybe we could have beef for Thanksgiving, but then I read that meat is also in short supply.  Throw in the scant supply of bacon and liquor, and I think we have the recipe for a real national disaster.

Food is not the only thing that’s hard to find this year.  Gifts and toys for holiday celebrations are also on the endangered list.  The most sensical recommendation I read was to buy early.  If we see something we want, buy it, as there is no guarantee it will still be available a month from now.  The head of the toy manufacturers group advised parents and grandparents to “plan for alternatives”.  That sounds a lot like “disappointment” to me. Large toys are going to be especially hard to find this year because they are more expensive to ship.  That includes large Lego sets.  Having some experience with young boys who treasure Legos, I suggest you order today or risk being branded as the grandparent who gives pajamas for Christmas.

         

                What a surprise!

One pundit on TV suggested that we merge all of the holidays into “Thankshollowistmas“.  Well, why not?  Just the other day when I entered our local department store the greeter made a point of directing me to the Christmas decorations, which were right next to the jack o’lanterns. Anything related to Thanksgiving was relegated to an end cap at the back of the store.  Not enough money in Thanksgiving, I suppose. Maybe it’s a good idea to celebrate early this year.  It’s been a tough year by any measure and we could all use a little lift in our spirits.  So I say we buy all the beef, liquor,  bacon and Legos we can get our hands on.  Otherwise the “big surprise” you’ve promised your family might end up being a giant package of toilet paper.