Early Morning: going to Boston today, moving my body through time and space. Maybe I'll get back to you when I plug into my host Wifi, or maybe not. Think beautiful thoughts....
Yesterday evaporated. As you may remember, I left Toronto in March, still winter. So my son Matthew segued into spring and summer without supervision. He got along very well, didn't miss me at all, apparently - "Good!" I said, "You'll get along fine without me when I die." But what about his clothes? His winter scarves and gloves and hats and mitts were piled up just as he had abandoned them. I sorted them out and assembled a pile for him to wash (have to get him some Woolite), and threw out some worn-out thing plus pants and stuff. We ate a bread-less lunch. (I'm helping him plan a menu for lunch at work, without sandwiches, to help him decrease his wheat-belly.) Then we went to a movie I wanted to see.
So did everybody else. It was the Civic, or Simcoe (in Ontario) holiday Monday and people were intent on entertainment. The theatre was full, including lots of kids, including some very young ones. Are you aware of INSIDE OUT? I've been reading about it. The five "characters" guiding the actions and reactions of the heroine are her inner emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Despair and Anger. It's psychologically valid and the concepts are adult and sophisticated: there's a Train of Thought they must catch and they keep passing Déja Vu. Little kids don't dig that, but at one pint I paused to listen and they were all rapt, not restless or bored at all, just totally absorbed in the suspense of the story, and the humour. My challenged son got it and laughed a lot. Wow. You can look it up. I recommend that you see it.
Today is going to evaporate, too. We have to get ready to fly to Boston tomorrow, to visit my daughter and son-in-law (Matt's favourite brother) soI have a lot to do to get ready. Anon, anon.
Don't you wonder sometimes where you were when you seemed to be there? Wherever. I was recalling two excursions that I took to beach resorts where it rained and we had to sit under shelter until it was time to return to the ship, once by a boat assigned to pick us up and take us back to shore, once on a bus with instructions to the guide not to come back until suchansuch a time. Beach resorts are not designed for rain. At the first one there were no chairs, only benches at tables where we were served lunch, but no place to relax until we were rescued. that is, no lounges or sun cots, no backs to lean on, nada. I was stiff the next day and I wasn't the only one. The second place had chairs with backs but the canvas under which we sat billowed once in a while and sluiced water in sheets to the ground/chairs/people below. This is not worth describing but I recalled these two trips because of the guide in each case. Do you remember my report? One guide proudly pronounced herself a Catholic and I forget why but she sang and led us all to sing (on the way back in our rescue boat) "Amazing Grace". The other guide was very large, about the biggest person I have ever brushed up against. He proudly told us that he had lost 82 pounds and was now down to 502 pounds. He also told us that he had earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and qualified to be a guide. He spoke Samoan, his native language, so his English was a real accomplishment, too.
I'll have to go back and re-read my own blogs but I remember these two people very well, not the places but the people. When tourists say they've "done" a place, that doesn't mean a thing, does it? People make the places.
Can you believe it? August already and I'm still working on April. Leading a double life, that's what I'm doing, with one foot still on the ship and one foot at home, except that it keeps bobbing back and forth between then and now.
Ah, but my BB (Beloved Balcony) is helping me re-cover. I still have the NYT online and I've been sitting out most of the morning reading and thinking. It is a constant source of ideas and blogs, also of more time and work and things I have to look up and check and follow up on: books, and movies and plays and people and words, oh my, yes, words. I'll just give you a sampling of the notes I have taken this morning:
* RBF - that's short for Resting Bitch Face. It's your face caught in an inadvertent selfie, the one you see when you catch yourself on the computer camera -- aarrgh! Apparently, this is the resting face we all assume -- not assume -- the other, public face is the one we assume. This is the one you are stuck with forever, unless you train yourself, as some women have done, to put on a happy face. Men expect it of you. I remember I was going through a boarding line-up, handing in my boarding pass, eager to get to my seat, quite early in the morning. The man who was taking the passes (it's usually a woman, isn't it?) said to me, "Come on, give us a smile." Women don't say that. And no one says it to a man.
* ghrelin (sic) My SpelChek wants to change it to gremlin. No, thanks. Ghrelin is a hormone, an enzyme produced by stomach lining cells that stimulates appetite." I don't think I want to know any more about that.
* THE BLUE ZONES SOLUTION by Dan Buettiner, a new book about the longest-lived people on earth (in five different countries), with lists and recipes from a cookbook, The Plant Power Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family by D. Rich Roll and Julie Platt. Roll was named one of the 25 Fittest Guys in the World in 2013. I checked one of the sample recipes, for potato salad. Not much different from what I do except that it used Vegenaise, an eggless mayo. Oh, dear, where do I find that? If you want to know the five countries, you can look them up on the net. The NYT reporter (see below) sampled Sardinia Stew (one of the countries). It's Minestrone and it's supposed to make you live to be 100.
* That reporter (Jeff Gordinier) called wheatgrass "penitent hedge clippings" Cute.
* "THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL (the tale of Minnie Goetze), an illustrated novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, based on her own diaries, was produced as a play first, by Gloeckner and is out now as a film earning some good comments. I love women's diaries; I have to own it.
*chatbot - it's a robot designed to keep you company and talk to you, like Siri or like HER (in the movie). Yeah, it's the stuff of movies,novels, plays, you name it, you write it.
There's more, always more, but that's enough for now. Have a good one.
"Life is so daily," says a character in a play of mine, "Why can't I get used to it?"
Much as you have lived in one day, if you survived, you have another day to live today, and tomorrow. And so on. And on.
So, HAMLET was yesterday. If this is Thursday it must be tomorrow and different things will happen today. But I have to assimilate yesterday first. Well, for starters, Hamlet was wonderful, that is, Jonathan Goad as Hamlet was wonderful, one of the better ones I have ever seen. I think The Birmingham Conservatory has paid off, the training lab at Stratford, directed by Martha Henry, that has taught actors to speak and not to recite Shakespeare. Goad, I see, was a member of the Conservatory in 1993. He is Hamlet, living in the moment, and speaking, reacting, swiftly and emotionally and of course, physically, to what is going on around him, and us. Brilliant.
I would like someone to explain to me the costume design. It seemed inconsistent but I'm sure the designer and director had reasons for their choices. A small cavil.
So this morning I read about Benedict Cumberbatch who is in rehearsal now for a limited (12 week) engagement to play HAMLET at the National Theatre. People from all over the world are buying, have bought, tickets, even some in India who have not yet secured their Visas to come to England.
Do not despair. National Theatre Live will be broadcasting a performance in October. I will be very interested to see it and obviously I am not alone in my desire.
As I have told you, I have seen so many productions of the play that I have long since lost count, beginning with my high school's production in which the role of Laertes was played (convincingly) by the school's basket ball star. I have seen the Gravediggers' Scene played in another amateur production that illustrated Shakespeare's consummate genius: that he could create actor-proof material that reaches beyond its human transmitters to reach the heart and humour of its audience.
Martha Henry was my definitive Ophelia, for all time. She was also my definitive Cordelia, and also my definitive Lady MacDuff. ("Now, God help thee, poor monkey!/But how wilt thou do for a father? ") There are no small parts, as they say.
Yes, well, I do go on, and could, for a long time. Well, and i've quoted Scarlett before: "Tomorrow is another day." And it's already tomorrow. Have a good one.
This is about HAMLET. I've lost count of the number of times I have seen it. You know the old story about the boss who took his young secretary (professional assistant?) to see it and when it was over, he asked her how she liked it. "Fine," she said, "but it was full of clichés." Scholars have counted the number of words in Shakespeare's plays that he invented or coined, that didn't exist before. Astronomical. Mind-boggling. How did they live without them ? How could we live now without them?
When I go on a diet, which is like, constantly, I say, "Oh that this too too solid flesh would thaw, melt and resolve itself into a dew..." If I got some of that wrong, you can correct me, do us both good. When I procrastinate and put off what I am resolved to do, should be doing, I say, "And thus, the native hue of resolution is sullied o'er with the pale cast of thought." When we went to see the Royal Barges in what country? - that I will have to look up - I found myself murmuring Enobarbus's speech about the infinite allure of Cleopatra, remember, I quoted it in my blog then. It begins: "The barge she sat in like a burnished throne...."
Of course, I say anon, anon all the time. Once it meant presently or immediately but now it means in a while. "Anon, anon, sir." I'm coming.
Golden lads and lasses must/As chimney sweepers come to dust." It sounds like Housman, but it's Shakespeare. On the other hand, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" sounds like Shakespeare but is really Sir Walter Scott. I looked up the golden-lads line because I wondered at chimney sweepers -- could that be right? It is. And I found a whole list of lines that have been attributed to Shakespeare and were actually said by someone else, like my title above. I have always known it was Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but apparently Shakespeare often gets the credit.
So today, as I said, I am going to listen to the immortal bard once more. Anon, anon, sir.
BB is my Beloved Balcony and I am still so glad to be home and sitting on it right now, although I would leave again on the cruise in a heartbeat. I'm looking at trees, not sea, and the air, while not salty, is gentle with barely a whiff of carbon monoxide wafting over the Rosedale Valley Road from the Bloor Street traffic (think waves). Remember that line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning"? It's from APOCALYPSE NOW, which I never saw, but the line survives the movie. "It smells like victory," concludes Kilgore (played by Robert Duval). Well, BB smells like home to me.
And the days are flitting past. I missed yesterday, just puttering: laundry, catching up on reading material that came into the house while I was away. I have to give a talk in August to the ICCT (Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto) about Icelandic books and literature and, of course, literacy, and the Icelandic-Canadian newspaper, Lögberg-Heimskringla, to which I subscribe, has had some interesting articles about various Icelandic publications, old and new. I'll do my homework on the balcony, BB, that is.
As for RFH, that's short for Roommate from Hell, and the less said, the better. As Thumper's mother said (in BAMBI), "If you can't say nothin nice, don't say nothin at all." So I won't go there. I'll write about other fellow passengers soon.
That's all for today.
This is an annual pilgrimage, the first trip of the new season to Stratford, my traditional early June journey to Bill's grave to plant geraniums. Very late this year, of course, because I didn't get back to Canada until July 8. The geraniums were a little tired but I think they'll do all right. I'll check back later because I will return.
The pilgrimage spans the summer, numerous trips to take in all the productions at the Festival that I want to see. Yesterday I saw SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER, directed by Martha Henry, who is not quite as old as I am (she's only 77), but like me, she must have seen a few productions of Goldsmith's play in her time. This one was enjoyable, quite pleasant. I mean, what's not to like about Goldsmith? The script is considered a classic by now: age- and actor-proof. Most competent, charming actors can handle it at a trot. The set was charming, by a designer new-to-me because I haven't paid attention. Douglas Paraschuk is in his 26th season at Stratford. Shame on me for not noticing.
Martha Henry has always been a favourite of mine and goes back a long way. I first saw her on the stage at the Manitoba Theatre Centre (now Royal), starring in THE LADY'S NOT FOR BURNING under her maiden name, Buhs. She was among the first graduates of the new National Theatre School and came to Manitoba to work in John Hirsch's new Young Company. She married Donnelly Rhodes Henry, son of Ann Henry, a Winnipeg newspaper columnist and sometime playwright. Martha took her stage name from her first husband and became Martha Henry for posterity, while Donnelly went on into television, mainly, as Donnelly Rhodes. How many people remember that? Martha is, as you all know, a beloved Canadian actress and was recently honoured with the The Stratford Festival Legacy Award as well as the Governor General's Lifetime Achievement Award. I couldn't afford to go to a $1000-a-plate celebration in her honour (my cruise expenses drained me), but I sent her a fan letter. She directs as well, at Stratford and elsewhere, and for many years has been the director of The Birmingham Conservatory, the Stratford institution designed to train and hone new actors coming into the Festival regime. I love her acting, and usually get new insights into the roles she plays.
I am not quite so assured about her direction. The set pieces in STOOPS did not achieve for me the silly delight I usually take in them. The funny people were not very funny, rather wooden and playing to a different sense of humour. I don't think it was their fault. It was the direction. Not to say the production was not enjoyable; it was. But I woke this morning realizing what had been missing. And not that I don't still admire Martha Henry for I do. If anything I'm grateful that I can still have some perspective about an icon.
Still, flowers for the living, as Nellie McClung would say. My husband admired Martha Henry above any actress he knew. Flowers for both of them.
I'm catching up, but not totally. I can't seem to get my head wrapped around the date, the time, and the weather. Other than that....
It's almost the end of July, which is a summer month in Ontario. Someone on the ship asked me whether we had summer in Canada in July, Well, yes. Toronto is in a temperate climate, whatever temperate means today, as the whole world weather system is going awry. Did you see that the Globe, our little blue marble in space, has experienced the hottest summer in its recorded history? Anyway, yes, it's warm here, delightful, really. I swim every morning at 6 in the outdoor pool and the air is just cool enough and the water just warm enough to be perfect. Later, the days are warm/ hot, even, but the humidity is not too high. So, yes, I accept the fact that it's summer, a lovely, bearable summer. My memory of the cruise weather is mixed: I was too cold most places on board because of the air-conditioning and carried a blanket with me most places. In my cabin I had an extra blanket for my bed and I frequently wore socks and a sweater, too. My room-mate was too hot and scoffed at me when she saw my socks or got angry when I said I was cold. So I suffered (?) from aggressive AC. On the other hand, most of the places we went ashore to see clustered around the equator, above and below, and we walked around in 98 degree Fahrenheit heat with 100% humidity. I didn't complain; it was part of the ambience and helped me to understand the people. There was one lovely stop in New Zealand where I compared the weather to a perfect fall day in Ontario. That's coming up in September and October. I guess by that time, I'll accept the date as well as the weather.
The date is something else. I'm trying to catch up with a lot of events and sort-of deadlines, like Stratford, for example. Today I will be attending my first play of this season, and also planting flowers on my husband's grave, latest ever. I always do this in early June. I'll be driving with a friend who has helped me every year since I met her, 13 years now, I think. She lives in my building and she is a self-appointed social worker, especially for cats - her avocation. She is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She left me an orange when I came home because she knows I eat an orange every day, also a planter full of morning glories because I plant them every sumer to climb up trellises on my balcony - not last year because of renovations to the balcony nor this year because of my absence. She is so good. I haven't had a chance to talk to her since I returned so today will be a catchup day with her.
I have to renew my driver's license which expired while I was gone. I think it's a clear year but I'm not sure, clear meaning I don't have to take a test, but I'm not sure. Have to find out and get it because I have been invited to a lake in August and I need to rent a car to get there.
I have to go through my winter clothes, abandoned in March when it was still cold here, and Matt's too - his whole room, actually. He didn't miss me while I was away, and it shows.
And I still haven't written all my post-cruise notes or sent goodies, tschotschkes or mementos. My primary epistolary (love that word!) activity has been to write various markets and contacts to try to sell my wares, but no one answers their mail so I have to try again. Time. I need time.
It all boils down to time, finding it and using it well.
Whenever it is.
This is what comes of puttering: too many things to follow up on simultaneously. That reminds me of Stephen Leacock's line about the man who flung himself out of the house and onto a horse and rode off in all directions at once. That's me all over, like the Scarecrow in Oz when he got torn up and his straw was scattered all over. "That's me all over, " he said.
And when it comes to books, that's me all over. I'm a magpie. Where did it start today? I received a Prime Delivery of a new book whose review I read on Sunday. I ordered it and it was delivered this morning. ONGOINGNESS: THE END OF A DIARY by Sarah Manguso, a young (early 40s-that's young) writer who kept a diary for 25 years because she wanted to "end each day with a record of everything that ever happened "- some 800,000 words. But then, after pregnancy and the birth of a child, she developed a different relationship with her (dare I say obsessive, anal-retentive?) need to document herself in time. So she wrote this short book. And I read her short book today. Ah, she is so young! Like another young (? - they don't give birth dates any more so I'm guessing) writer who came across some old diaries recording two years in her younger life, and who tries again to discover herself. I haven't finished THE FOLDED CLOCK, by Heidi Julavits; she's funny, sort of, but so far I don't really like her as a person.
Well, later today I had a normal delivery of two other books I ordered a week or so ago: Oliver Saks's new memoir/diary ON THE MOVE, and H IS FOR HAWK, a non-fiction account by Helen Macdonald, a woman who raised a hawk and wrote about it. I don't know enough yet; it was recommended by a friend whose reading I trust.
A certain amount of juggling has to go on as more and more books come into the house. I put a couple of books into our occupants' library and one into the Basement Boutique and then I pulled out a bunch of Icelandic and Scandinavian mystery/thrillers (Arnaldur Indriðason, Yrsa Guðrunsdottír, Henkel Menning) or novels (Olaf Olafson) to donate to the members of the Icelandic Canadian Club of Toronto when I give a speech to them in August about Icelandic literature (beginning, of course with the sagas).
So that led me to one of my favourite contemporary Icelandic-Canadian writers, Kristjana Gunnars. I have six of her books and I had to reread one or two of them: THE PROWLER, a novel, I guess, and WAKE-PICK POEMS, a book of poetry. I'm going to have trouble parting with them, have to think about that.
But somewhere in the sorting I picked up a book I bought a while ago, before I went away and had no time for: AN EVENING WHEN ALONE, Four Journals of Single Women in the South, 1827-67, ed. by Michael O'Brien, and I wish I had time to read it now but it's 460 pages and it's getting late. You se, I'm a magpie. Oh, dear.
I did other things today, but none so interesting or worthwhile. Well, now, that's not true; I had tea with two gifted women I swim with. I mean I don't swim with them but I see them when I swim and it was nice to sit at leisure and talk without shivering.
I knew a long time ago, sooner than most people because my husband died so young, that I was not immortal. Young people today still think they are. The recognition of one's mortality frees one somehow; nothing is as frightening as it might have been. "What's the worst could happen?" You hear people say that. Well, there are lots of things worse than death. We know that now, don't we? I can say the D-word quite casually, and I never say "passed" about someone who has died. I say died. I do like the metaphors, though, from "he has shuffled off this mortal coil" to "he has gone to that Big Boardroom in the sky."
Kenny Rogers said it in his song about The Gambler: you have to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em and "the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep." With so many violent deaths possible now, that's a fond hope not granted to many. But here's a funny thing: in the last few months I have begun to feel immortal. Against all odds, I'm feeling very full of life. It was the cruise, I guess. I've been wondering how I would change and I can see/feel that I have, but I didn't expect this.
While I was away I had news of a friend's illness, from one of her chlldren. (The ship had Wifi, of course.) This woman and I had been friends for 42 years, though we never lived in the same city, were indeed separated by many miles and very different life situations. I picked her up or she picked me up, not sure which, on fan mail. I had written the first piece about my newly fledged widowhood, published in MacLean's magazine, and she had read it and written me and asked if we could meet for lunch the next time she was in Toronto. That's how it began, and continued until as late as last February when she was in Toronto and came for lunch and wished me well on my world cruise, and wasn't it lucky that it had been shortened or we might never have seen each other again. So, just weeks later, her daughter informed me that her mother was ill. I was on the mailing list and received bulletins of fast failing health, even received a photograph revealing that shocking, recognizable mask of death on her face. And then the news came that she had died, all within about four weeks. Sic transit gloria mundi.
You see, I know, I know. Sooner or later, it's going to happen. I know that. "One out of one dies of something," as my late husband used to say. But still, I feel immortal.
I'm here, aren't I?
I have a real big blog building in me but it's too late for it now. Today I printed out ALL my blogs. My goodness, they take up a lot of paper. Quite daunting, really. Also humbling. Who am I to use up so many trees?
I'm still living in two time frames: ship-time and home-time. The one thing that reconciles me to home is my balcony, sitting out on it (and working) surrounded by trees. It's not the ocean, of course, but I pretend that the traffic noise (from Bloor Street across the ravine) is waves. And every morning (at 6) when I swim, I miss the ship pool. My pool is longer but it doesn't have the current or the under-tow, so it's not quite the work-out. Still, I make do.
Right now, it's later than it should be but I'm going out on the balcony with a nightcap and let the waves (traffic) lull me to sleep.
Tomorrow I'm going to talk about being mortal.
I fall a little more behind. How does that line go: "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get"? Not that I'm hurrying. I actually start out each day quite efficiently but as the day progresses I seem to lose initiative and end up puttering. Not that puttering isn't useful. I do some of my best work when I putter. But it's dismaying to putter when there is so much REAL WORK to be done.
I think I'm missing people, the new friends I made on the ship. I am by nature a loner and I certainly sought out space to be alone on board. But there are times of the day now when I really miss the people I played, drank, ate and talked with. It's when I pause for breath, between my tasks - and they are myriad - that I miss them, a lot. Soon I will begin to write them. Not yet. Too many other things to do, write, tidy up, sort, file and put away.
And another blog to write before I sleep.
I tried, I really tried. I have an iPadmini that takes pictures and people told me to take pictures and show them where I was. It took a lot of effort and I didn't succeed as you will know if you followed my blogs. I had to remember to take Minnie with me, and to charge it , and not to use up the battery reading the New York Times (I got it daily online), And then when I was out there, wherever, gazing at something, I had to remember to take a picture and that was even harder than remembering and then when I was back in my stateroom I had to transfer the pictures to my computer and then I had to figure out how to send them to my blog - and I often managed only to send a diagonal line drawn across the screen. And then -- after a while -- I thought, why do I need a picture of this? Aiming and focusing and figuring out what to do when I could be just looking and gazing and loving seemed a difficult choice to make.
I managed to send a few pictures and I have more and I'll try to figure out how to send them, for what they're worth. I still prefer to hold things in my memory and Ii'm getting choosier all the time about what I want to keep, not just pictures but things. I have come home determined to throw more stuff out. What about souvenirs? you ask. A souvenir, as you know, and according to the online dictionary, is "a thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place, or event." When you've lived as long as I have that can add up to a lot of things. I found myself increasingly resistant to tschotschkes as well as to pictures. My children are going to have enough trouble as it is to sort out my remains, not my remains, but my reminders -- Spelcheck just presumed I meant remains not remainders. Reminders is better.
So here is an event not immortalized in an iPad moment. I went on a river cruise of the Waluah River (I think that's how it's spelled); I'll have to check) -- remember? -- that time when I couldn't see but I could hear the howling monkeys? The trip was lovely: the heat was gently eased and dispelled by the faint breeze generated by the motion of the boat. A jungle enclosed us on either side, giant ferns and plants I couldn't name. I gazed and gazed, and thought of a cold fjord I shivered by a couple of years ago now when I circumnavigated Newfoundland. The foliage was far different, and crags and rocks vied for attention as opposed to ferns, macaws and monkeys (that I never saw). But I was there, fully there. And the two experiences, vastly different and worlds apart, layered themselves into my consciousness and into my memory.
Not, however, into my iPad.
This is the blog I tried to write the other day when I was deleted. Maybe "It" was trying to tell me something.
I evoked Nora Ephron (may she rest in peace) who first opened the door to fame with a piece she wrote on breasts that was published in Esquire magazine. She described the dismay of all flat-chested women in a society of males who prize the appearance of a woman in full lactation. I was ahead of her time, i.e. older than she. I grew up during WWI when the ideal woman's bustline resembled the nose cone of a B52. I did chest exercises every night in the bathroom, trying to strengthen the muscles around the breasts to encourage them to stand at attention. I went to a designer to have custom-made brassieres made: lace-up (the back) ones that I was taught to drop my breasts into and then lift them up, as I laced them tight. I wore empire-style dresses (we wore dresses in those days) to emphasize my silhouette.
The only times I ever had what you might call full, hard breasts was when I was nursing my four babies, about six months each. By that time I had learned to make rueful jokes about the advantages of small breasts: 1) I could climb trees, easing my chest over branches that might be awkard for a more encumbered woman; 2) I could carry books or groceries in my arms without hindrance; 3) I could snuggle close to a man when dancing, which I loved. (I have always enjoyed concave men for this reason; men, on the other hand, seem to prefer bouncing off the pillowy front of a larger woman); 4) I could see my feet.
This latter advantage occurred to me later in life as my well-endowed consoeurs developed larger assets than they were able to handle gracefully. I actually sympathized with them when I was on my cruise. An abundance of women with an abundance of "soft, protruding organs on the upper front of their bodies" (the dictionary definition for well-endowed) served as prominent reminders to their husbands as to why they were married to them, years ago. The budding brides with the attractive pouter-pigeon breasts had turned into galleons in full sail. But their menfolk, bless them, matched them pound for pound with large, protruding bellies. I don't think they could see their feet, either.
I'm just saying.
I'm still calm and relaxed, as I should be after my self-indulgent vacation. But I wonder where the time goes. I have an agenda for each day, but of course one can't plan everything. Things happen and take priority and must be fitted in. That sounds so mechanical and it's not really. There are still lovely moments in each day; there always are. I roll with the punches, make up for lost time, change my plans according to new pressures. Yeah, yeah, doesn't that sound calm and reasonable? Unbelievable, in fact. Yup.
The point is, it's the end of the day, not the bitter end, but the end of my energy. And I just don't feel like writing a blog tonight.
I need a Sea Day. I guess I'll have to create my own.
I wrote several paragraphs of a new blog and lost them. Whatever I punched, I punched it out. Oh dear: deathless words irretrievably lost. I'll leave it for now. Tomorrow is another day.
Every night I read the menu for the following day, tucked into the "Currents" newsletter with information about the next port-of-call and the day's events and right beside the bedtime chocolate. On one side, the lunch menu for the Grand Dining Room spelled out the possibilities of lunch, from frugal to gut-busting (the correct if crude term). On the other side, Healthy Lliving Choices offered a balanced menu from CanyonRanch (the franchise whose spa we enjoyed), with the calorie count for each of three courses, above a Menu Degustation, a gourmet tasting menu with the appropriately paired wine for each course. The options, from appetizers, through soups and salads, main courses and specialties with the side dishes always available, appeared on the right hand side of that page. Lots to think about: I folded the paper and tucked it into my bag to keep studying the next day as I decided what I wanted. I had to be careful not to miss the caviar frequently offered as an appetizer, either with three mini blinis and the appropriate condiments, or on a little cup of seasoned (aioli?) mashed potatoes. Other treats included gravlax, compressed into small squares with the dill mustard presented as artistic circles around the plate. (I think the plate artist must have taken a course in food presentation.) Initially I chose the CanyonRanch menu because of the calorie count and because it usually offered fish, a great variety and deliciously prepared. Just when I was tiring of fish every night, I was offered lamb chops so I hung in there. But after a while I ventured further afield, e.g. osso bucco, which I love and make myself when I can find veal knuckle in the meat section of my grocery store. I developed some good habits: consommé every night as one of the courses. Wonderfully hot with interesting little lumps in it, the consommé , whether chicken, beef or oxtail, made a good base and prevented me from eating too much. I love piping hot soup, so it was very satisfying. The salads were varied and interesting, as were the appetizers. I'd like the recipe for the heart of palm rémoulade. I opted for scallops every time they were offered: big, beautiful, lightly grilled, each one set upon a matching round of potato, which I rarely ate.
I never ate dessert, just three over the three months (a minuscule crême brulé that I ate with an Espresso coffee spoon) and one chocolate bombe that looked better than it tasted, so I left it. I am no longer tempted by dessert, I'm happy to say. I prefer a glass of wine. For dessert, if forced, I would have a skinny latté, but latterly one or two of the waiters would bring me one chocolate truffle from a cake tier of petits fours. I do like chocolate. You have to consult someone else about the desserts, specifically my most frequent dinner companion who had chocolate profiteroles every time they turned up.
There are four restaurants, plus an outdoor grill, on the Insiginia: the Waves Terrace Café with an outdoor deck, is a lavish, generous buffet with sushi every night and special menus honouring various countries and always a carving board with gorgeous meat or salmon (coulibiac!), and a wealth of choices. To me, it was a glorified cafeteria; I like to be served. The Grand Dining room is complemented by two smaller specialty restaurants available by reservations only: the Polo Grill, featuring, as you would suspect, grilled meats and fish; and the Toscana, concentrating on Italian cuisine. My favourite item, besides the crême brulé, was the roasted garlic, offered on the bread basket. I ordered another one for my dinner mates and ate a whole one myself, without bread. NUM.
I'm happy to report that I ate well, had a great time, and lost four pounds. Who could ask for anything more?
Into a routine, not a rut, I hope. Today I will have my hair cut and that's one more step to being me again. I had my bangs cut three times on the ship (in the Canyon Ranch Spa) and my entire head once - not so good. The hair didn't grow out well. I like wash and wear hair because of my daily swim. So towards the end I waited. Oddly enough, the spa charges less than my hairdresser in Toronto. I'm back in the world of spending money.
I felt so RICH on the ship. Everything was done for us. The entire staff was intent on satisfying our every need. No matter how small or ridiculous the request, every effort was made to meet it. Amazing! I have to keep reminding myself that life isn't like that, at least, not for me it isn't. And yet I am content.
I saved two of the daily menu we received with our nightly newsletter. I used to carry it around with me during the day while I decided what I wanted to eat that evening, so I wouldn't make snap decisions when presented with the dinner menu. I found two of them among the papers I saved. So tomorrow I will finally report on the cuisine of the Insignia. The fact that I lost about 4 pounds (a little bit more, depending on the scales and time) does not reflect on the food but indicates what a huge effort I made to be disciplined.
Keep on keeping on.
I do plan to fill in my travel epic with a few hindsight remarks and after thoughts and observations but the world is catching up with me and I am spinning. Or is it that the floor still rolls a little? Anyway, I went to do a pile of washing this morning (those winter sheets, among other things) and discovered my laundry room gutted. New machines are being, have been, installed and a whole new method of payment. And here I was so smart to buy a roll of quarters in readiness. Learn something every day, no matter where you are.
New Wifi in the building, too, almost finished. Have to resolve payment (refund!) among other things with my provider with whom I already have a travel bone to pick. I'm having people for dinner every night so I'm back in the kitchen.. My guest for this evening postponed just minutes before someone else called to take her place. He's going away for two weeks so I can't put him off. Nor can I continue with the menu planned as he's very picky and decides what he wants to eat. That's okay; I shopped on --what day? -- I think Friday.
And I started making appointments: haircut, dental check up, dermatologist (after 3 months in the sun), and began making arrangements to attend the plays at the Stratford Festival. I get freebies to every show each summer because my husband died in harness and I received a compassionate pass -- they had no idea I was going to live so long! I try to make up for it with a large (for me) donation every year.
Now I look back in wonder at the cruise days, especially Sea Days, when we were so "busy" but so free. I'll think about it tomorrow.