Sawgrass Mills

I am not sure how many years ago it was that I had a back to back through Miami/Ft Lauderdale where the ship offered a trip out to Sawgrass Mills. In all honestly, it was to their benefit to get all the back to back travelers off the ship for a number of hours, especially since it was the first US port for the cruise. Translated that means that the ship has to get EVERYONE off and through Immigration before they can start the process of accepting new passengers.

I am remembering the mall as good sized but not all that complicated. It has changed. There are multiple parking garages, there are dozens of lots and extensive expanses of high end retail stores in a fancy strip mall fashion. But one could simply not admit that it was a multiple strip mall area. I have seen similar store collections in California. Again mostly with some rather fancy stores and areas limited to foot traffic.

Growing up in the mid-west, one did not appreciate outdoor entrances. It gets cold in the winter and enclosed malls are the norm. Don’t believe me? Look up Mall of America…

Anyway, the trip for lunch at a specific restaurant. It was lovely, relaxing, and prices about the same as I expected from home. Getting back to my friends place, we spent the rest of the day just relaxing, stitching, and making the occasional pointed comment about various TV/YouTube/webcams….

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Red Eyes

The best thing about taking a red-eye is that it is always the low point of the day.

It was a typical United Flight – boarding is by privilege. What I found interesting, unlike daytime business hour flights,  is that the plan wasn’t ½ full by the time that all boarding group 1. This meant that there was plenty of room in the overhead compartment for my backpack. Grabbing my window seat, I was prepared to sleep the entire flight.

We will not mention the entitled dude behind me with his leaking ear buds and tendency to continually beat the back of my seat in rhythm with something. By far more fun was the young Korean student in the aisle seat who is on her first trip to the US. We traded seats for the landing so that she could take pictures out the window.

My bags were already on the carousel when I arrived at baggage claim. Reaching my friend with whom I am staying for a couple of nights, I had time to grab coffee before getting picked up. We had breakfast at a wonderful little café before heading to the Cross Stitch Cupboard. Would you believe that I had planned this visit out enough to have a short list of floss which I could use. And then, there were a couple of patterns.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, stitching, and I was observed by the cats who were not sure at all what they should think about this invader to their place…. and I took my own red-eyes to bed at a reasonable time…

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Heading out

I am not sure ever how to react to the day I head out on another trip. When my departure is morning to midday – all of my organizing needs to be done the day before. When it is an evening/late night departure the feeling is quite different.

Early in the morning the whole day stretches ahead of me. Plenty of time to do a bit of this, and some of that. This time I haven’t left everything till the last minute. I organized all the “go, ing to be dropped off with other people” things a few days ago. This morning I attempted to stuff everything into a collapsable duffle bag and discovered that, in my enthusiasm to “share” I needed to go up a size on the duffle… Oh well- no big deal. I had planned on checking it anyway.

Did I mention that this flight is a red-eye? When I looked at getting from home to the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area I had one main goal – no flight changes. As it turns out, duh, going east from here is 5+ hours of flight time in addition to the three hours of time zone change. A lost day completely when you add in transpiration to the airport and waiting time.

And, as it also should be no surprise, you can’t fly direct from OAK which put me into looking at flights out of SFO. Which left me with the red-eye…. Oh well. I will get on the plane about 2330 and go to sleep (I am tired) and will get off cranky and head directly to coffee in FLL.

I have clothes for the transAtlantic crossings. I have $$, Euros and Pounds Sterling. I have  yarn, cross-stitch, audiobooks, several book apps. I should be completely set.

I finished Part 3 of the StarWoman Barbara Ana SAL. but failed to take a picture…..

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Today is Noah’s Birthday. Tomorrow is Miriam’s. They turn 32 and 30 respectively. Given everyone’s work schedule it seemed most sensible to revert to what we did when they were toddlers and combine the two events.

When I look at the adults they have become, it is hard to remember them as infants, toddlers, school children. I am sure that I am not the only parent who feels this way. In some ways it is surprising that I can’t imagine them as younger. One of the most favorite activities of Lev is going through all the pictures on the shelf/wall and having George name them all…. and many of those pictures involve any and all of my four as babies, toddlers, or young children.

Like many of us, with the change to digital photography that started in the mid-90s, I don’t have anywhere as many physical pictures of the younger three kids as I do of Shana.  Ah, well. They can be perfect in my memory.

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Part 3 of the StarWoman SAL by Barbara Ana was released on 1 March. I finally had a few minutes this morning and continued to work on her. The frame and uniform/wingythings are from parts I & 2. The hair & face are both part of this release. I admit, I really prefer evenly divided sections to a SAL rather than 1/4, 1/4, and all the rest. However, I am still having a good time.

I also made more progress on the March section of FoxandRabbit’s Royal Garden SAL. As with the last section, there are a lot of stitches. That border is 28 stitches wide (including in the inside & outside lines). The filled in section is about 1/3 the way across and 300 rows down…. Like I said – a lot of stitches… that Fleur de Lisle bit is the center of the side…

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Ignoring the morning

Yes, please.

I headed out early. Early enough that I was the first customer at my local Peet’s before braving the freeway, Bay Bridge and run to SFVA. It was one of those times where my inclination to adhere to traditional rule abiding German driving paid off. I stay to the right, except when passing. So, being in the right lane, I completely avoided most of the slow down on I-80 right after I entered. Yes, it was slow, but unlike the left lanes, the trucks and I were moving along. It turns out the accident was in the HOV lane. Two fire rigs, three police cars, an ambulance … and I don’t know what else. Those were just the lights I saw from the far right.

My fun in San Francisco? Dental Appointment. Enough said about that. I am not thrilled about drill and fill but am delighted that I have a great dentist and my dental care is completely covered.

I finished late enough that I listened to the UCSF Medicine Grand Rounds by phone while I was driving home. It turned out to be a good choice as it was mostly a fireside type chat.

Otherwise – I sort of attempted to sort out things for next week and put in a bit of time on Tap Dancers by LongDog Samplers.

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There are times when time zones actually work in my favor. Mostly it involves Australia and release times for stitch-a-longs. Those 17 hours don’t mean that there is any possibility of completing a section of this SAL before the calendar flipped to 1 March here but somehow it just makes the pain of a large section a bit smaller….

Let me show you –

This is the Royal Garden’s SAL by FoxandRabbit. The sucker is about 330×330. In real terms it means huge. January was the extremely large plant/urn in the center + the straight line borders to the tune of over 10k worth of stitches. I managed the interesting portion and a few hundred stitches of the edge. February featured five motifs of which you can see the largest, two tiny ones, and a bit of the small one.

And now we come to March. It is fill in the border time. From the side of the plant, across the top, and down to the start of the lower corner.  That bit filled in so far? It represents about 1900 stitches and I have about 270 rows to go…..

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The Reindeer


I am pleased. This is the last of the three winter patterns from Country Cottage Samplings Year in the Woods. Released in December, I obviously wasn’t home and didn’t get a chance to get started on it till earlier this month.  Stitching the reindeer was fun, the trees, not so much. And all those little four stitch white things? Ugh.

This is what the entire winter piece looks like:

with the fox (January) in the middle. As it turns out, the balance is actually pretty good between the first and last pattern.

Stitched on 16 ct Aida with the called for specialty threads and DMC.

I now have 9/12 complete and am looking to work on the last three when I return from my next trip.

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Fox Girl Finished

All those plants, birds, the chicken and her hat. I also did a bit of modifying on her ears. Those are such lovely fox ears, I didn’t see a reason why she would have regular human ears as well. So I brought them down a few rows…

Stitched on something or other Aida from UndertheSeas with the called for DMC.

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Fancy Folk

It is the last Thursday of the month and time for StitchNewEngland’s Fancy Folk Zoom. Pam started it last year and I have been able to join except while at sea (we will NOT discuss the low bandwidth on Windstar).

Anyway – I decided it was time to start with the beading on the Nora Corbett Zodiac Girls – starting with this morning I worked on three of them and managed 200-400 beads on each-

there are beads hanging from her horns, edging all the flower blossoms and cascading from her hands. And, as it turns out – I still have some Kreinik to add (blah)

I managed all the draping beads and along her hair and hands. But you see those three little squares up there? I have about 10 more to stitch. And bead….

Maybe next month?

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Fox Girl

She has another name, but I have been thinking of her as Fox Girl. Obviously, this is another Barbara Ana pattern.

From this morning –

to this evening –

I made progress before drifting off. Al that is left (yah, right) is her hat, and plants and….

but it balances out all the errands…

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and more stitches

So many stitches. Nothing else done…..

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We have been having beautiful sunsets –

As visible from our living room window.

I have gotten started on this month’s portion of Royal Gardens with one small motif completed and the huge one started…

with three more to go once the monster is done…

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They Won!

I shouldn’t be so surprised, but the Cal Women’t Basketball team managed to pull off an 81-79 win in overtime. The overtime was caused by some of the worse officiating any of us have seen all year. In the last second of the game, the Cal player shooting was obviously fouled and missed the shot right before the buzzer. The referee decided that the foul came after the buzzer.

Now, with the score tied, it is more than likely that Cal would have missed both free throws. ….

But the five minutes of overtime resulted in a win…..

The Band was there….

In good numbers. It wasn’t just that it was Senior’s Day. It was also T-shirt day….

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It was a long day. A really long day if truth be told. Disembarkation days are my least favorite travel days. It seems like there is always a deadline hanging overhead, made worse by all the hurry up and wait.

Example – get up, breakfast and be out of the cabin NTL than 0800. That seems easy, right? Obviously we had plac’ed luggage outside the cabin the evening before. Walk-off with the amount of stuff that a toddler requires just isn’t going to happen. Both Shana and I managed breakfast, then I left her to the fun of waking up a toddler who had spent a bit too much time partying in the middle of the night and wanting to sleep in.

Our choice of waiting areas were the theater which offered enough space to run around a bit and get in a last game of bop-the-balloon, somewhere on deck where we would be in traffic areas, or back in the Tuscan Grill area (which was my morning latte and pastry choice). The latter was supposed to be open till 0930, the former till 0915. We stayed with the theater choice as my trip back to the Tuscan for more coffee had me deciding that a toddler mixed in with grumpy people, scooters, and walkers would not be a good idea.  So the theater it was (except for a few last rides in the elevator with the young man who has decided that elevator rides are one of the best things ever..)

Since the disembarkation process was running so smoothly – everyone was evicted from the ship early…. s0 there we were off the ship right before 0900. Did I mention that our flight was at 1515??? Getting off was relatively easy. Given the amount of luggage I elected to go the porter route and we were at the curb under the Pier 93 sign less than 10 minutes after exiting the ship. Lyft worked; we would up with the same driver as drove us back from the Navigator the previous week. The difference being that Saturday meant no trucks on the road. We were at the airport less than 30 minutes later. And then the fun began with the cranky kid. Shana and I were both exhausted, Lev really needed more sleep. And it was almost two hours before we could drop off luggage.

I checked with the ticket agent – no earlier direct flights. Any other combination would get us into Oakland later than if we stuck with the original plan. So we waiting. And waited. Long Beach is a decent small airpot. We found a place all the way at the end of the terminal with hardly any other people. And waited.

Lev, of course, fell asleep less than 30 minutes before boarding. He was really good on the plane. But even if he had screamed at us, I don’t think anyone would have heard him over the kids two rows in front of us. George picked us up, we managed to jam everything in our car and set out for home with stops for some groceries and take-away. I bailed out at immediately after supper and will be a asleep long before George returns from dropping Shana & Lev off at their home.

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Sailing into San Diego

Sailing in early this morning brought back memories of other cruises. I think it was 2012, with a transAtlantic  on Vision of the Seas where the impromptu group of knitters & stitchers just made the voyage wonderful. The day before we docked in Florida, the ship’s staff held a meeting for the 200+ back-to-back cruisers without doing their homework. No, everyone staying was NOT American, in fact almist all were Brits on a package tour which included Los Vegas before flying home.  Queue fast back peddling on the staff part and a lot of homework. I mention this because from there we sailed on through the Panama Canal with the cruise ending here in San Diego. Arriving fairly early, it was easy to see both the airport from the ship. We also were able to view Coronado as we sailed in with both some Navy ships in port and their separate landing strips…

Then there was Oct 2017 when I was headed on back to back through the Panama Canal with Jill & Graeme on the NCL Sun. Leaving from San Francisco even, we were able to watch the practice for the Blue Angels in advance of Fleet week. Checking my notes, I see that we missed San Diego on that loop – both in the direction of Miami and the return which ended in San Pedro. (Thought I had been to that port once before….)

And then there was the Trans-Pacific on Celebrity Solstice (yes, this ship) in Sept 2013. The check-in for the cruise was here in San Diego. The actual ship with boarding was in Ensenada to avoid that fines that come with violations of the Passenger Vessel Services  Act of 1886 – link here . (Remember – the Jones Act is a subsection of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 and that oft quoted prohibition actually relates to cargo. I may be a lot of things, but not cargo….).  Anyway –  I was lucky enough to run into Marie and Brian (friends from the above mentioned Vision Crossing) which made hanging out in the terminal and the not so fun bus ride to Ensenada bearable.

Since this was our first port in the US after visiting a foreign location (Mexico) we all had to clear Immigration. It was by numbered group. My instruction letter said Group 3 (which I think relates to priority based on status/booked tours. Shana & Lev’s assigned group was 16….) Right. The three of us went off in Group 3 (we are all together on one reservation….) We snaked through the terminal which took about 30 minutes. Four agents hard at work (and the Discovery Princess on the neighboring pier made for a lot of passengers). From there, we headed to the front gate. Shana & Lev are headed to the Zoo – I headed back to the ship. 

So anyway, I am relaxing in the Solarium where there is almost no one. it is quiet. I am hot spotting my laptop off my phone. After lunch, I might just take a nap….

(bags out at 1800-2200 – I am going with the latest group as we will head directly from the terminal to the airport and can’t check in till shortly after 1100…..)


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The Last Sea Day

on this cruise…. I will see “sea days” again next month on my way over to Europe. Which reminds me, I still have some plane reservations to make.

I attempted to spend the day as quietly as possible. I had a migraine sneak up on me.  And once the nausea starts, meds in pill form don’t help a lot. Ah well, I wouldn’t have worried except that little bright sunshine was having a very good/very bad/wonderful/horrible day depending on the minute, second, hour, and who was willing to play balloon… otherwise bed bouncing….

The good and bad thing about electronic devices is that they can be used for distraction and quiet time. The bad thing is that small children are not at all stupid and can figure out quickly how to sucker adults into what they want for the sake of quiet.  At home, a child can scream, get time-out, have meaningful for the age consequences. On a ship? there is always the issue of other passengers some of whom are incredibly nice which balances a few who obviously think children do NOT belong….

I managed to stitch a bit on Part 2 of the current Barbara Ana SAL – Star Woman. Everything from the spaceship down is new….and some frogging still to go. I still have some of the flowers from part 1 to go…



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Back to Cabo

We sailed into Cabo San Lucas early this morning –  no whales seen, nor did I was awake enough to look for the arch.

And obviously, it is a tender port.

When you look at how crowded a harbor vs the size of this particular medium to large (but not huge) cruise ship –

the three of us took a tender to shore around 1100 and went for a walk all along the harbor till we reached a beach. After all, the choices were food, drink, souvenirs, or sand….


and then there were the pelicans…

although why the Menorah was still up was a bit beyond me. I think it may be a permanent structure.

tomorrow is a sea day followed by our final “cruise day” in San Diego.

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Ok, it is also Valentine’s Day. The ship seems to be attempting to turn this particular commercial holiday into something special. The first positive thing turned out to be some small ducks hidden around the ship. One couple found one, then gifted it to Lev.


Later in the day, we ran into a crew member who was decorating the atrium in red and white. There were balloons tucked here and there – none of which were accessible to Lev. We asked if we could have some when the decorations came down. Instead, she headed back to the office, coming back with balloons plus this particular bit of decoration left over from the Super Bowl party on Sunday.

Other wise, I had a relatively quiet day – most people seemed to be occupied here and there on the ship which is not at capacity which makes a huge difference.  I went to the lounge on Deck 14 forward this morning and had quiet before all the games/quizzes and other insanity started up. 

Cup of Frida is finished. –

Tomorrow we are in Cabo San Lucas. Unless something changes, I am not really planning on getting off the ship.

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At Sea, Celebrity Solstice

After yesterday with the tenders and all I was expecting a rather quiet day on ship. Which sort of happened and sort of not. This ship has a library on Deck 10. It has a decent selection of books and reference materials along with good lighting and comfortable chairs. The downside is that it is adjacent to the Centrum which means sound carries up and down the atrium with little to silence anything. 

I hung out there for a while with headphones for my audiobook (which I figured counted as reading) while I worked on the current Barbara Ana pattern, then headed back to the cabin about the time that I figured our cabin attendant had to be done with everything.  With Lev, we are staying out of the main dining room. I did mention that there are a total of 23 children on board – seven of which are toddlers? It does mean that most of the adults have a good tolerance for the occasional escaping happy toddler as they are not being inundated with screaming, running, and fighting children.  Anyway – it means the buffet – here named the Ocean Cafe. 

Except for this morning when I remembered that my status on Celebrity (earned before the cross-over courtesy from Royal went into effect) means that I can go to the Tuscan Grill in the morning for “coffee time.” That means it isn’t really breakfast but there are lattes, mochas, etc as part of the regular, limited menu. So it is fresh fruit, pastries, and a couple e of lattes for me in the morning….  Exploring further, there is the Spa Cafe on Deck 12 which has a limited stable menu which I figure makes for great lunch. (Fruit, quinoa salad, Udon Noodles,

Lev crashed early, so Shana actually got to get to the theater this cruise….

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