Curve Ball

8

In case you were counting (and color me very impressed if you were!), I made it through Day 47.  Neeeeearly the half way mark to my 100 Days of Blogging goal.  Then the fates decided to have a laugh and throw me a curve ball.

An angry appendix.

That’s what my surgical team called it.  It didn’t rupture and my body wasn’t reacting as if it would burst–no fever, no elevated white blood cell count–but the inflammation looked like it was starting to spread, so the surgical team wanted to take it out.  ASAP.

angry appendix

I believe my exact verbal reaction was something like “okay, great, thank you,”  while the thoughts in my head were a little lot more expletive.  Since the surgeon wanted it out ASAP, it was considered emergency surgery, however, not-so-emergency that I had to wait in line behind two other more-pressing-emergencies for the operating room.  I didn’t ask.  I really wanted to know what qualified as more emergency than an emergency appendectomy, but as the actual possibilities started swirling through my brain, I thought perhaps it best not to know.

The surgery went well.  The inflammation had not spread and about 12 hours after surgery, I was given coffee and my release papers.

appendix 2

I had grandiose blogging ideas at this point, having only missed Day 48 and 49, of getting back on track–but my body had other plans.  Despite my brain’s restlessness, I managed to sleep most of last week except when Ann very kindly brought me food or coffee or coffee and food.  You know, when she wasn’t answering a barrage of text messages from the Fam and feeding & walking the Princess Pupcicle and Evil Kitty…well, I don’t think she actually walked the cat…but point being, she’s been absolutely amazing!

Now that I’m on the mend and my restless brain is starting to win out a bit more, I realized that I owe you 53 more posts (well, 52 after this one!).  At this point I can’t guarantee they’ll be every day, but hopefully more frequently than every 10 days!

Ciao-ciao for now-now!

Advertisements

Breaking News!

2

I’m interrupting our Hawaiian trip to bring you some exciting news.  Or at least, exciting news if you live in or are visiting New York City.

The old-new South Ferry station is fiiiiiiiinally reopened!!  Tourists came and went with their only concerns being if they were getting on the correct train and which stop they needed to get to where they were going.  Meanwhile–in something resembling first time tourists in Times Square–residents looked a little shell-shocked and in awe of the spacious and updated station.

img_5490

Why all the fuss?  When I moved to New York City (in 2007) if you wanted to get to South Ferry on the 1 Train, you had to be in the first five cars of the subway train.  Then in 2009, the MTA opened a shiny new South Ferry station–one where you didn’t have to be in the first five cars and was well lit and had escalators (for those times when you just couldn’t walk up one more fucking step no matter how close you were to your FitBit goal).

Then in late-October 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit.  Water filled the new South Ferry station to the point where it was coming out of every entrance.  According to the MTA “almost 15 million gallons of salt water flooded it during Superstorm Sandy.”

It took several months of walking from South Ferry around Battery Park and up to the next subway station before the MTA opened the old South Ferry station and once again, anyone wanting to get out at the South Ferry station needed to be in the first five subway  cars.

It took nearly five years, but today the old-new South Ferry station was reopened.  This morning we were all in awe and this evening it was so nice to just get on the train without the hustle and stress of making sure you are in the first five cars–because now we can luxuriously use all ten of them!

img_5492-1

🙂

 

Kilauea

0

For the record, this isn’t what I wanted to share with you today.  But in the interest of actually getting something posted, I had to improvise (let’s just say wifi and technology haven’t been my friends this week!)

I could have easily made this picture a Wordless Wednesday post, but it was suggested to me last week that not writing in posts was “cheating”–so here’s my little blurb about this slightly fuzzy pic.

It is the glow of the Kilauea caldera from the Observation point at the Hawaii Volcanos National Park.  I’m 99.9875% sure April has a sharper picture taken with her camera rather than with my iPhone, but I’m 100% sure if I went looking for it, I would miss the deadline for posting this today!

Here are some tidbits from LiveScience website about Kilauea (click here to read more about the eruptions of Kilauea):

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The volcano rises 4,190 feet (1,227 meters) above sea level and is about 14 percent of the land area of the Big Island. The summit caldera contains a lava lake known as Halema`uma`u that is said to be the home of the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

To the casual observer, Kilauea appears to be part of the larger volcano Mauna Loa, but geological data indicates that it is a separate volcano with its own vent and conduit system. Kilauea has had 61 recorded eruptions in the current cycle, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983.

Native Hawaiian oral traditions record the extraordinary eruptive history of Kilauea long before European and American missionaries wrote about it in their journals. Scientific study of the volcano began when geologist Thomas Jagger of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology visited Hawaii on a lecture tour and was approached by local businessmen. The Hawaiian Volcano Research Association (HVRA) was formed in 1909. In 1919, Jagger convinced the National Weather Service to take over the pioneering research, and in 1924 the observatory was taken over by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Also if you’re interested in seeing What’s Going On With The Volcano, click on the link to be taken to the National Park Service webpage for volcano updates.

Aloha!

Colorful Beaches

1

When most people think of Hawaiian beaches, they probably think of something like this:

Or perhaps this:

But what about something like this?

If you’re saying to yourself : “Self, that sand sure looks black,” you would be correct!  It is, in fact, a black sand beach (which shouldn’t surprise any one who read Pilgrimage to (Coffee) Mecca).  But here’s a fun fact that might surprise you about Hawaii: all beaches are public.  ALL OF THEM. It doesn’t matter if they are on a military base or in a fancy gated community, they all have to have public access.  ALL OF THEM.

This is quite handy knowledge when you’re planning beach activities and have never been to Hawaii.  It was also information that we did NOT have at the time of planning our Hawaiian vacation.  All we knew is that we had never been to a black sand beach before and we definitely wanted to visit one while we had the opportunity.  We found several north of Kailua-Kona and randomly picked the one closest to where we were staying.  It was in Kamuela and called 49 Black Sand Beach–so it sounded perfect, after all “black sand beach” was in the name!  As we turn off the main road and are making our way down a tiny winding road, we notice that dead ahead is a gate with a security guard.  We were a little hesitant, as our information on said-beach never mentioned anything about it being private or in a gated community.  We pull up to the gate, thinking perhaps Siri was a bit lost, with the plan of asking the guard for actual directions to the beach.

Instead we were handed a visitor pass to put in the car and given directions to the visitor parking lot and were told to stay only on the visitor walkway to the beach.  So we drove to the visitor parking lot, put our pass in full view on the dashboard, and embarked upon the visitor walkway.

SIDENOTE: I just googled “49 Black Sand Beach” to make sure that I had the right spot and here’s what Luxury Big Island has to say about the community where this beach is found (aka why we had to stay on the visitor walkway)–

The community of 49 Black Sand Beach is an ultra-exclusive private enclave of just 49 custom homes and home sites nestled atop rugged cliffs on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. Inspired by its sensuous and unparalleled natural landscape, 49 Black Sand Beach overlooks the Honoka’ope Bay and its exotic and unique 800-year old black sand beach. The community as a whole sits on 60-acres of private oceanfront property, 18 of which are on beachfront bluffs with the remaining home sites found fronting the Mauna Lani South golf course. Ideal for those seeking complete isolation from the hustle and bustle of the city, potential buyers will find the community of 49 Black Sand Beach to perfectly blend picturesque natural surroundings with all the amenities and luxuries you would expect of a world-class resort.

Annnnyway…

Along the visitor walkway, we passed by some workers who were de-coconutting the trees (yes, I’m sure there is some official phrase, but basically they were disposing of all the coconuts which had either dropped or looked like they were going to drop onto someone’s car or head or small child).  As we passed by Christi made a comment about how fun it would be to crack one open while glancing at Tracy expectantly.  I’m not sure what she was expecting him to do–pull a coconut-cracker out of his pocket?


But before he even had the opportunity (he’s a magician, it could have actually happened!), we heard a voice from behind us say: I can open one for you.  We all turned around to see one of the workers weilding a large machete.  We agreed because, well, when in Rome Hawaii…and who tells someone with a machete “no”?

With a couple of well placed whacks, we had a coconut to drink!   We passed it around, so we could all try it.  It was warm but delicious.  However, it definitely needed some rum!


With our coconut in hand, we continued down the visitors walkway.  Suddenly, it opened into a span of black sand and blue water.  It was stunning.  It was mesmerizing.  It was hot.  Really, really hot.  Which makes total sense, since it was black sand and a warm, sunny day.  But it’s not something your brain fully comprehends…you just think oooohhhh…beach….let’s take off our shoes and walk run squeal and haul ass quickly to the cool water looking like an over-animated cartoon character.


We poked around for awhile, however, beach itself was a bit too warm to lounge around on for a long period of time–plus we had other things to see, places to go, food to eat, and beverages to drink! We soon headed back up to the visitors walkway.  As we passed by the workers again, our machete man waved his machete at us–which we totally interpreted as “do you want a coconut for the road?”  We just waved, thanked him again, and happily walked back to the car.  One coconut, a man with a machete, some hot black sand, and cool, crisp water made for a perfect Hawaiian experience.


Aloha!

Planning To Get Lei’d

1

A couple of months before we left for Hawaii, I got a call from BFF.  No hi.  No hello.  Just “do you want to get laid when we land in Honolulu.”  Silence.  Is this a trick question?  I mean, who doesn’t?!?! But I’m taking this trip with BFF, her hubby, and April, so I wasn’t quite sure what she was proposing here…

A big sigh from the Florida end of the phone “L-E-I, as in do you want a traditional Hawaiian greeting with a garland of flowers?”

Ohhhhhhhhh riiiiiiight…..I totally knew that.

Of course, we opted to get lei’d because a) very Hawaiian and b) it’s just fun to go around saying “I got lei’d in Hawaii.”  Although, I was a bit disappointed it was something that we had to plan, however, not as disappointed as I would have been to arrive in Hawaii and not be lei’d.  Of course there was an additional/upgrade fee to get lei’d, which then prompted a lot of “I paid to get lei’d in Hawaii” comments.

But I digress (as I often do).

Planning.  We all know how vital it is when traveling somewhere like Hawaii (or anywhere that your activities include something more than lounging on the beach drinking beer).  Except, not by me.  I don’t plan.  I throw out grandiose ideas here and there and offer a lot of opinions, but the real planning is usually done by someone else (and for that, I am exceptionally grateful!).  I’m quite capable of planning, but my planning tends to be the last-minute-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of planning, which apparently stresses out real planners and they take away your planning duties.  So unless we are in New York City or the Texas Hill Country or I am traveling alone, the planning job is almost never handed to me.

IMG_3815

But back to Hawaii.  If you’re going to Hawaii, you definitely want to plan out a good portion of your trip.  Not all of it–leave yourself time to get stuck in a beach bar while a hurricane-is-passing-nearby-but-not-hitting-the-island-afternoon-rainstorm.  At the very least pick out and schedule everything you want to see because if not, then it’s not going to happen.  I see it all the time when people visit New York City–they think “oh let’s just see where the day takes us” and then leave without seeing half of the things on their list.

In addition to all the amazing stuff there is to see, the main reason a well devised Hawaiian vacation plan is so important is because–in case you weren’t aware–the State of Hawaii is actually an archipelago of volcanic islands in the middle of nowhere smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  And by middle, I mean there is no other land around it for miles.  Thousands of miles.  Just over two thousand to the mainland, to be exact.

I think the hardest thing to decide about Hawaii is how many and which islands you want to visit.

HINT: unless you have no time or money constraints, I would highly recommend against trying to see them all in one trip.

If you’re the type who likes to just set up shop in your hotel and use it as a base of operations, then just pick one island–there are no wrong options. If you’re the type of person who likes to see more and has no problem packing up and moving hotels every few days, I would recommend that you spend a minimum of 2-3 days per island.  If you are in this group, the thing to remember is that flying is pretty much your only option for island hopping (unless you want to rent a kayak and end up missing and on the news).  Actual flying time is not long, but it does come with all of the standard rigmarole of airports and security checkpoints and arriving at the airport at least an hour before your flight.  Basically, you have to block out a large chunk of time every time you want to island hop.  If you’re going the kayak/missing/news route, you might want to block out a larger chunk of time.

How and what did we pick?  Well, thank you for asking.  Since we were thinking that the trip would be 10-12 days, we decided to go to 2 islands, leaving the option open perhaps for a third.  A bit full-on, but we were all committed.  Since there were 4 of us, we each selected 2 islands and haggled from there.  Pretty much everyone agreed on Oahu.  It was the easiest choice since it has the capital and Pearl Harbor.  Plus it is where the majority of the flights from the mainland land–so it seemed ridiculous to leave the island without a bit of exploring and a trip to Pearl Harbor.

Then the haggling started.  Someone (ahem, I’m not sure who…) was very adamant about going to the Big Island to visit the coffee plantations in Kona.  Everyone else was split between going to Kauai or Maui or not really caring.  We finally haggled our way to visiting 3 islands and the negotiations quickly concluded.  Poor Maui was out (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) and our final island selections were:

Oahu, Hawaii (aka the Big Island), and Kauai

Let the adventure begin!

IMG_3814

Aloha!

 

 

100 Days of Blogging

3

Hello and Happy Monday!

That was totally forced.  Not because I don’t mean it (I do), but because I’ve been sitting here for almost 30 minutes trying to figure out how to start this post.

You may have noticed in my post yesterday a new category: 100 Days of Blogging.  If you didn’t notice, don’t feel bad–I probably wouldn’t have noticed it either.  For those of you not familiar, it is pretty much as it sounds: posting for 100 days.  I thought it a nice way to force coax myself back into posting regularly.

As I was pondering whether I could keep up the pace of posting daily, the thing that had me pondering the most was what I would talk about.  Sure, I can talk your ear off about anything and I did complete the 100 Happy Days Challenge on ShezzaSpeak a few years ago, but would it keep you interested?  I mean, I could find funny things to post for Sunday Comics and the MWWC would provide several posts, but then it hit me (or rather, my coffee finally kicked in): a couple of weeks ago I had a chance to catch up with a friend from high school, whom I had not seen since I graduated but had recently reconnected with on Facebook.

As we recounted the last 20-something years, we realized we both shared a love of history and travel and in fact, we had both just visited Iceland.  As we were recounting our trips, it made me realize that it’s been awhile since I’ve shared any travel stories with you.  I haven’t even shared my Hawaii trip!  In fact, I can’t actually tell you the last trip I shared with you–perhaps The Fabulous Not Forty trips?  Wow…I have been a wanderlust-writing sloth!

So, here we go!  Check back daily–or follow me and have each post magically appear in your email or on your feed (whichever makes you happy!). And don’t worry, there won’t be a 100 posts on Hawaii…I mean, this is Day 2 and I did go to Iceland and Canada and a few other places as well 😉

IMG_3852

Aloha!

MWWC #33 Once Upon A Time

2

This month’s wine writing challenge (#33 if you’re keeping track or ignored the title of this post) is Once Upon A Time, which was selected by last month’s winner Wining with Mel.

wine stain

To most people, Once upon a time probably makes them think of a plethora of Grimm fairy tales or perhaps a certain tv show, but not me.  Once upon a time makes me think of college.  This is because at the time I was living with my BFF and whenever she couldn’t sleep, I would hear her yelling from down the hall: I can’t sleep, tell me a story.

All of my stories (at least that I can remember–it has been few years ago!)–started with: Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina.  If I were feeling loquacious, my stories would be rather long and involved, often based on my own travels.  If I didn’t, the story would be exceptionally short and sweet, like this*:

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there lived a beautiful princess named Christina, who drank all the wine in her castle. Unfortunately, her sommelier could not get her more wine immediately, so she had him guillotined, and then cried herself to sleep.  The End.

*This story has been changed to fit the parameters of writing about wine.  It is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event (don’t panic people: no castle has been depleted of their wine stores nor any sommelier guillotined!).

Of course, because it is a wine writing challenge, I feel if I just left you with a horror story about a castle with no wine and a guillotined sommelier, I would be banned from further participation in future MWWCs.   Plus, I’m feeling a bit loquacious…so Sissy, this one is for you!

Once upon a time in a land far, far away there was a beautiful princess named Christina. Princess Christina lived in a big, beautiful castle overlooking a pool small and peaceful lake and sprawling lands.  One beautiful morning, Princess Christina went downstairs to find her cook distraught.  The wine cellar was empty!  The sommelier?  Gone!  Neither of these were through any fault of Princess Christina (despite a previously mentioned horror story).  However, Princess Christina decided that moving forward she would be personally checking all references on job applications.

But hiring a new sommelier was the least of her worries–SHE HAD AN EMPTY WINE CELLAR!  What is a princess to do? Not wanting to wait through the drudgery of finding another sommelier, Princess Christina did the only thing she could think of: she loaded up her carriage and set off immediately in search of great wine.

Her first stop was to find a buttery chardonnay, so she headed west to California.  While chardonnays today aren’t quite as buttery as in the days of yore, she knew she could still find something delicious at the La Crema Winery.

la cremaShe was definitely not disappointed. The 2015 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, while not buttery per se (for definitions, click here!), is still very creamy and complex with oak and melon flavors.  It is hearty enough to pair with a meal, like Thanksgiving dinner, but is smooth enough to enjoy with a cheese course or simply paired with a good book while sitting by the pool small and peaceful lake.

As much as Princess Christina wanted to spend the day at La Crema, her empty cellar kept her on task.  With a few cases of this classic chardonnay loaded in her carriage, Princess Christina set off for Italy (she has a special flying carriage, don’t question–this is a fairy tale!).  Home of Italians, Chianti, Prosecco, Mount Vesuvius, and a delicious little thing called Montepulciano.

 

IMG_0947

The Tralcetto Montepulciano from Catina Zaccagnini is a great addition to the wine cellar as an Italian alternative to the traditional Chianti.  This Montepulciano is quite bold and fruity–although not as much as a zinfandel–but has a dry finish.  It is flavorful without being overbearing and because it is aged in steel then oak it is very balanced.  It drinks well with a wide variety of pastas (as any good Italian wine should!), especially venison ragù.  And in terms of pure novelty/coolness points, each bottle has a small twig of the vine tied around the neck of the bottle.

Princess Christina was very excited to add this to her carriage and as much as it pained her to leave, she still had to make at least one more stop before heading back to her castle.  There was some inner dialogue as to where her final stop would be, but she soon realized that there was only one real choice: Champagne.

IMG_2740Of course within Champagne, the possibilities were endless.  So–being ever the diplomat–Princess Christina decided to randomly pick and ended up at a quaint little house called Perrier-Jouët.  With a plethora of champagnes from which to choose, Princess Christina tried them all several times and perhaps she came home with at least a case of each.  It was hard not to do so, after all it is champagne and one can never have too much champagne on hand!  Like the Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.  It has floral and citrus notes with a nutty, crisp finish that makes it very easy to drink.

Laden down with a carriage full of wine, Princess Christina decided that she had a very good start to restocking her wine cellar and the best thing for her to do is go back home where she could sit by the pool small and peaceful lake with a glass of wine.  Her only worry now was which wine to drink first.  And as she sat and enjoyed her glass of wine and the tranquility of the pool small and peaceful lake, she reminisced on the fun of her wine buying trip .  While she still wanted to hire a new sommelier, perhaps she needn’t hire one just yet.

THE END.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Comics: Mother’s Day Edition

1

Happy Mother’s Day!

In case you are wondering, here is a list of the countries celebrating Mother’s Day today:

Anguilla, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Curaasao, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Honduras, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Suriname, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zimbabwe

Yes, as a matter of fact, I did look it up–I was curious because I know that the UK celebrates on a different Sunday than the US, so I wanted to know who else was and/or was not celebrating today.  Clare Florist has very kindly posted a calendar of all Mother’s Day celebrations around the world, which ranges from February all the way to December.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Sunday Comics if I didn’t post something funny…so I leave you with something a friend shared that is (what I consider a fairly accurate) summary of parenthood.

Happy Mother’s Day, most especially to my Momma (who, after raising me and my brother just might be cleared for sainthood)!

mothers day expectation

Chalkboard Art: Unicorn Lattes

2

New York City streets are filled with a lot of things: people, dogs, trash, mysterious things you’re better off not knowing what they are…but my favorite things NYC sidewalks offer are Chalkboard Art.

I have ABSOLUTELY NO idea what unicorn tastes like.  I have no desire to live a half-life or a cursed one for that matter, so I consider unicorns to be on my “DO NOT EAT” list.  Those who actually know me know just how short that list is–I mean, after all I am not only willing, but love to eat Vegemite and Peeps (although not together–that would be gross!)

BUT if I were to imagine it, I would think that unicorns would taste like cotton candy or perhaps marshmallow.  They would NOT taste like mango and mostly certainly not with some sour sauce added to the mix.  For the record, this description was thankfully provided by a person who has asked to keep his/her identity a secret.  Also for the record, I solemnly swear it is not me, as the only colorful drinks I allow myself to drink have rum or tequila in them!  True story…oh, except for slushies….I do enjoy a nice cherry coke slushy from time to time.

But I digress.  Back to unicorns and coffee and the reason we’re here today: Chalkboard Art.  I think the Chalkboard Art below accurately sums up my thoughts about anything unicorn flavored that a certain coffee company might offer (and a big thanks to Camilla for sending it to me because she knows that I like my coffee as black as my soul!)

Memoirs of a Princess Pupcicle: The Enforcer

0

I’ve inherited a cat.  He, being Toulouse, spent the first year or so of his life with us–so he is not unknown to Addy.  He is, in fact, her kitty.

When Toulouse first moved in, he was small enough to fit in your hand–and naturally thought he could easily take on a 90lb dog.  Toulouse would follow Addy around the house and wait patiently for the perfect moment to strike.  His favorite spot was behind a pile of books at the top of the stairs: a well thought-out ambush spot for the Princess as she came up the stairs.   The problem, of course, being that she tended to be slightly oblivious of this ball of fur and could easily knock him down the stairs with her big ol’ labrador tail.  I’m quite sure she did a time or two.

baby toulouse

Baby Toulouse waiting to ambush Addy

A couple of years have passed, but Addy, of course, still thinks of him as her kitty.  Toulouse–for some reason unbeknownst to me–will even allow her to occasionally bathe him (although he always looks mortified while she’s licking him).  Since Toulouse has moved back in, I’ve seen a lot of pouty Addy faces that some of her affection might be given to Toulouse, however, she always has my back when I’m fussing at him to stop clawing the furniture or to get off the countertop.  Addy is more than happy to chase after him, barking reminders at him Get off the counter!  Stop clawing!  Don’t make Momma yell! Come back you need a bath!

Yelling in both human and barking–double whammy!  Poor Toulouse.  Meanwhile, Addy smiles at me I got this, Momma, I got this.

toulouse tulips

Best seat in the house: a sunny window and far out of reach of a certain cold, wet nose…