Sunday, September 30, 2007

News Not About Me


Clementine Grace Diamond-Ortiz!

Born: September 22nd, 2007

5:14 pm Weight: 7lbs 12oz Length 19in.

That name just may have her swinging from poles in clear heels :) it's wrong to use the words "sexy" and "newborn" in the same sentence, but that name plus that face = Emilio and Anastasia, you will have your work cut out for you, keeping the boys away from this little sweetpea!
Congratulations!! I got Anastasia and Emilio couch cushions for a baby shower gift - how cool is that!


In even more news not about me, Congratulations are in order for Mimi, who accepted a new position at AG - long overdue!

Now, back to me! In case you missed the trip report, it's in the prior post :)

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

Honey, you taste like fish.....

Welcome back from vacation to me! Since there is just absolutely too much to write about, here's a brief with some photos of the fun we had. Here's a pic of our ship, Liberty of the Seas, docked in Cozumel. She was big - I never even saw many of the features/activities she offered.

Our trip basically circled Cuba, we were always about 90 miles away from it.

Picture above is from 7 Mile Beach in Grand Caymen.

Saturday, the 22nd: Flying into Miami via American Airlines, about 35 people were on our flight - little 3-seat across number

Kenny was instructed to make sure I didn't look too fat in this photo. Somehow he gave me magically huge tits:

Got acquainted with the Ship, found "our spot" at the Let it Ride poker table, had a nice dinner with our friends at the Main Seating (6:00) time in the dining hall.
Our room was really lovely, future trips will require a balcony. Geri would still hate this trip and the room. They're pretty snug, but I adapt okay to it. The rooms were actually better on this trip than last year, slightly bigger overall (probably due to the upgrade to the balcony), but the showers were better because they had curved sliding doors rather than the gross fabric curtains which I hate touching me - skeeves me out, to think of how many/who's butt that fabric curtain has clung to before mine.

Loved my room with a balcony! The stateroom attendant brought me in a lounge chair from the pool area so I could totally lounge and relax - and drink the champagne that my friends Joanne and Melanie had waiting for us upon our arrival!

What's not to love about this view??

Happy to be sailing.


Spent the day at sea, which I love as much as being in a port of call. Got acquainted with the casino and the bartenders, who we considered friends by the end of the trip. In fact, I think we spent more time with them than we did the folks we travelled with! But they have a baby (3 years old and cute as a button, but still....) so we were on different agendas.

Here she is, Little Leia giving us her special "smile" - she squinches up her eye and gives a Popeye grin! Her grandma Vaso kept telling her not to smile, to say "cheese" instead!

Kenny gave me his own special grin:

As luck, literally, would have it, Kenny won the progressive jackpot one night early in the trip on a nickle Deal or No Deal machine - $2,233!! He had sat down next to me to wait for a beer, slipped in a $20 and won A Major Award! Course, that's always tough to hold on to in the beginning of a trip....lots more nights to be spent in the casino. Suffice it to say, by the middle of the trip he had achieved High Roller status, which allotted a couple of polo shirts and more importantly, free alcohol in the casino. Course, by that time we had a massive bar bill already established. We like to drink and gamble. It is what it is.


Tendered in Labadee, Haiti

Labadee was beautifully landscaped, it's owned by Royal Caribbean:

Some local flavor greeted us with a Jamaican beat:

Dragon's Beach - notice the rocky conditions leading to the water. We heard a lot of "ouches" and of course it's the day I didn't bring my water shoes. Made for some painful swimming around.

Bought some Voo-Doo dolls from a Haitian vendor. I have plans for those things :) They even schooled me in the right way to use them for good vs. evil. Kenny purchased a Panama Jack hat, have to keep the sun from scorching his lily-white skin.

We lounged and indulged in the special island drink, a Laba-dabba-doozie which was one of my favorite cocktail blends. Enjoyed a beachside barbecue compliments of Royal Caribbean, which included some fabulous jerk chicken - yum!

Montego Bay, Jamaica

A very scenic ride from the pier to the activity area - we passed this jail which was run down/slummy. Maybe this is the way to inspire the tourists to be on their best behavior. We also passed a few open-air jeeps loaded up with men in camos sporting machine guns - slightly unsettling on vacation. Picture a scene from Blood Diamonds. No, I didn't risk taking a photograph, I may well have ended up with a room on the island.

Towards the end of the day a really cool storm rolled into the island. We felt a bit of rain as we shipped out.

Life in Montego Bay is very bustling and crowded:

We spied, and Kenny correctly identified this big black mound growing in the trees in Jamaica: Termites! Unfortunately, we've become experts at recognizing their habitats. The black lines trailing up the tree limbs are their "tunnels" and they live in the big mounds. They were doing the same thing with our garage....

A bit of a dirty island, not much offered other than beach, shit-shopping (which all islands are chock-full of and we avoid as we have enough shit), and Jimmy Buffets Margaritaville. We opted for that option and took the island shuttle. It was fabulous, situated right on the water and had a very leisurely pace. Local flavors. In this case, Peach!

Parrot Heads:

Blue, blue waters:

Pretty, tropical colors:

Fire eating talent:

Below are a couple of random shots:

Changes in Latitude...

7 Mile Beach, Grand Caymen - pretty, lacked the much-needed shade

We saw a couple of Stingrays in Grand Caymen:

Part of the state park in Chakanaab in Cozmel, where we swam with the dolphins, Marina and Valery:

Elvis is Second to none on Grand Caymen

Big Orange Iguana Boss, Cozumel. Too scary to try to kiss.

Dolphin kissies are the best!

One of the many dining experiences....

The trip was overall fabulous - with the Dolphin Encounter by far our favorite part. We've already left a deposit for our next vacation - we just need to decide on the "where." Our travel friends are lobbying to turn it into a back-to-back 14 day adventure, which isn't out of the question, but I need to give it some consideration. I do miss my houseful of cats while I'm gone, and I'm sure they miss me. Widda let me know the extent of her disapproval by shitting in the bathroom sink sometime last night. She managed to kick my watch into the sink before she shit for added emphasis. Ah. It's good to be back!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Kickin' It

Friday night we 'kicked it' with Kenny Crumpton at the Put-n-Bay bar in Lakewood. It seemed cool, although I don't watch Fox 8 in the morning as that would require me to be an early riser and that isn't the way I roll. Does it still count as a brush with local greatness if I don't recognize him myself? I'm counting it anyway. So there. For those who don't know me, I'm the one on Kenny's left.
Thursday the Product Management girls and I had lunch to celebrate Kristen's birthday. During the course of the conversation, Stefanie (pictured above with me & Kenny Crumpton) and I discovered we'll be on the same cruise! My Kenny is thrilled and expects hot little Stefanie to work those free drinks for us! I don't get free drinks on cruises, they always tell me, "That'll be $5, Ma'am." I get "ma'am ed"; She gets trayloads of free cocktails. So like any good friend, I'm going to use her to my full advantage! Kenny has named his new piece of luggage "Stefanie" - it's a Sirroco Spinner model from Samsonite. He calls it the Stefanie Spinner - it does very smooth 360 turns. Anyway, it is just somehow funny and wrong to call his suitcase Stefanie, but it makes me laugh out loud every time. Twinkle was laying on it this morning, so he officially "mounted Stefanie."

I bought a new coffee yesterday and Kenny just announced it tastes like pussy. Now I'm not sure I can continue drinking it, and of course it's a giant sized can from Sam's Club.

We've been busy this last week and this weekend getting ready for vacation, I'm trying hard to get ahead of the game so I'm not a stressed out nutcase on Friday night. So far I've got a lot done, most of the stocking-up shopping for the pets is done and the few vacation necessity items have already been purchased.

I have some returns I'd like to make, but Kenny is balking at it since one is to Walmart for $2.44. He says that is breaking the returning rules, and it is, but I have the item and the receipt, so why not return it. It's some sucky headbands, they don't stay on the head. He says to just throw them out. I caannnn't. I'd like to, but I couldn't throw $3 in the trashcan, and throwing these away would be the same thing. So today I will travel alone for my return.

Update: I went to make the Walmart return and the line was so long I decided to get my shopping done first and then do the return. I ended up with $52 worth of stuff in my cart while waiting to make my $2.44 return. Line was still too long. I carefully contemplated the cost of my time and decided f- it and went home, with headbands still in hand. Suck. Still have 'em in the car. Should I attempt a return at another time? It will remain to be seen.

Overall it's been a dullish 2 weeks, filled with typical ordinariness. We've seen a few movies, fully utilizing our "free pass" privileges. Last week we saw 3:10 to Yuma, the new Russell Crowe western. It is one of my favorite movies this year, I could even go see it again and I'm not much of a movie-repeater. Last night we saw Jodie Foster's new movie, The Brave One. It was not a feel-good movie, but it was enjoyable in a vigilante kinda way.

Mimi and I started a new exercise campaign this past week. Well, we talked about it and she started it. It's hard for me to commit to starting something with a vacation a week away, I feel I'll get off-track before I even get started. I have some lofty plans for using the gorgeous gym facilities on the ship (how often do you get the chance to elliptical while overlooking the sea?), but in all reality I'll more likely be sleeping late, sipping cocktails and playing bingo/gambling while we're at sea. Maybe not, but it's more probable than my getting up early and hitting the gym on vacation. Stranger things have happened, you just never know how it's going to all go down.

Geri's off to Atlanta for a weekend wedding. They still haven't sold their house and should be getting ready to move into the new place at the end of the month or early October.

Golf season wrapped up and I couldn't be happier. We were in 1st place all season, and then sucked the last couple of weeks and fell into 2nd place, losing out on the trophy. I couldn't even care less (although I would have liked another trophy), because I hated that golf Flight and just wanted to be done playing with them. This will be my last year on the corporate league for a while, next year we're going to try and find a Women's league on a short course and play. Geri, Frannie, myself and another girl Janet are so far in. Should be fun if it's a more friendly crowd and shorter courses. I haven't been able to hit very well the past 2 years, I think my surgery and my back problems have all made for questionable golfing. I would like to go to Arizona in the spring for some lessons, we're going to work on getting that trip lined up. We're hoping to find a place that combines golf lessons and gambling - if all else fails, it's always a good time with Magic Unicorn.

While we're at sea next week I'm going to try and keep the blog updated with our goings-on as we get Internet service. I normally like to send emails from wherever I may be, it's fun to hear from my friendies when I'm so far from home, but updating this site will probably be more effective for saying "hi" to everyone.
Anastasia should be getting ready to burst open with that baby - she's due next week while we're on vacation.

That's all I've got. As I've said, it's been an ordinary past couple of weeks.

Peace and enjoy the beautiful Fall weather!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Purple Socks and Puppy Love

The much-awaited long Labor Day Weekend has arrived, announcing the informal transition from Summer to Fall. For all intents and purposes, it's Fall. Stanley the Grouchy Neighbor has even pulled up half of his garden already, his tomato plants looking as straggly as mine in spite of his consistent watering. Ha, suck-ah! I won't pull mine up until probably after the cruise, they are still producing some tasty treats. I find it interesting that I haven't had one green pepper off the vine and it's September. How long do those damn things take to grow?! Well, it was a garden test I guess, and it didn't turn out to be very profitable or rewarding. But like all things (tanning, fake nails, marriages, fad diets, gym memberships), I'll probably try it again next year. The Optimist persists.

Sunday night brought a 70's flashback, chock full of swooning and girlie yelps for attention as Melinda and I attended the Donny Osmond concert at the Tower City Amphitheater. Donny was the entertainment for the Sunday night Taste of Cleveland weekend event. I called Melinda early Sunday morning to see if she was interested and she didn't even hesitate - she was In like Flynn. Whoever Flynn is. They had a lot of tickets available so Kenny suggested we wait til we got down there to purchase them, on the off chance they had some front-row seats available at the last minute, or better yet some free seats. I didn't see much chance of that happening, but the tickets were $35 with an additional $9.10 for Ticketmaster's handling charge. That's pretty expensive for Donny, but I guess it's the price for Puppy Love. That Puppy's still lookin' pretty doggone good for 50!

As luck would have it, the gal at the ticket counter DID give us free tickets - not front row, but really great seats a few rows back. What are the chances of that happening to me? I thought zilch, and was proven wrong! Kenny had dropped us off down there in between his gigs at the movie theater and the radio show, and then he came back down just in time for the start of the concert. The lady was nice enough to give me 3 free tickets, so we all got to sit together. A woman in the row in front of us was by herself and we got to gabbing and she had to pay for her ticket - she purchased it about an hour earlier than we inquired. Goes to show, just wait an see sometimes if the shows not sold out. He rocked it out for just over an hour. He was tired then. Guess it's harder to put on a long show when you're 50. I wish he would have came out in a white jumper, the likes of which he wore back in the day - that would have been classic! He did play some of his old records, which was fun, and he had a lot of snapshots on the big screens of the Osmonds back in their hayday - what a flashback! Plaid vests, Elvis-type jumpsuits, paisley shirts - just all-over loud clothing. He wore normal (aka boring) stuff this go-round.

So we Tasted Cleveland and listened to Donny. The very best part of the night was when I got carded buying beer! That's twice in the last month. I think those microdermabrasion treatments must be working. That, or it was getting dark out and she had poor eyesight.

I found this sign amusing:

I was glad for the warning, because when that Mosh Pit opened up during the Donny O concert and I entertained the thought of body surfing, that warning came to mind and I JUST SAID NO to moshing. Might have saved my life, or at the very least a few teeth. Those old ladies were wild. Many of them were waving around their Donny dollies they had purchased from the Marie Osmond collection and it could have just gotten out of control with those doll parts flying around.

Today we labored. Kenny and I cleaned the basement, making some much-needed room down there. We spent a lot of hours down there, and did a bit of work in the garage as well. There is still just so much shit, it's indescribable. We do try to get rid of stuff. We leave a porch full of stuff out every month for the Vietnam Vets. We have a new batch ready to go for September. I have plenty of my fatass cheater ex-husband Fsteve's stuff that is at least going to a worthy cause! I open boxes of stuff up and am always surprised at what I find - usually some crap that was his at one time. Today we found his waffle maker - we decided to keep that. I also found some hair clippers I was sure I didn't have (oops!) and a bunch of music cd's I didn't realize got packed. Oops again :) Well, I'm sure the Vets will appreciate the stuff!

As a reward for our hard work we enjoyed a free early-evening movie. The free part is GREAT. We saw Death Sentence with Kevin Bacon. It was a very dark movie and I welled up on more than one occasion. It left a very heavy feeling. It was good, I guess, but definitely not a feel-good movie at all. Not even the end. It was harsh. Geri wouldn't like it.

Meggan spent last weekend shopping for bric-a-brac and dining on homestyle cookin' down in Amish Country with some of her family. They took a girl trip to celebrate her mom's 60th birthday and spent the night in a little hotel in the heart of it all. They shopped at Lohmans and Meggan bought the best purchase ever - some chain thing you put in your piecrust while it bakes to keep if from shrinking. One more reason I will make her my bride: she puts a lot of thought into her pie crusts. Delioushness doesn't just happen by chance, ya know.

While cleaning the basement I found - for the 2nd time - pillows for my old and Anastasia's new couch. I need to bring those in for Meggan to deliver this week - not tomorrow, I'm already loaded down like a pack mule with DVDs for the United Way sale at work. I found a lot of crap that wasn't mine and it would make great donatable stuff. Wonder where it all came from. Hm.

My grandmother Sophie joined Melinda, my nephews Trevor and Justin, and myself at Olive Garden for lunch over the weekend. It was fun to meet in a different venue, not just sitting around the kitchen. I'm sure she's still replaying the cost of that meal over and over in her mind. She could have bought a month's worth of groceries at Aldi's for the cost of that meal.

Tuesday night Geri and I both had hair appointments at John Roberts in Solon at the same time. I had saucy Sarah and she had Sheree, who does a good job and is a good back-up option when Sarah's not available. Sarah has to be booked well in advance, there's no last-minute appointments with her calendar.

After our appointments we headed over for a later dinner and headed over to Applebees. We passed an outdoor patio and since the weather was perfect for patio-ing, we headed on in. I had been looking at the menu for a good 15 minutes or so and then asked why Applebees would have a drink called a Romarita. Well, they wouldn't but Tony Roma's would - which is where we were. Apparently I don't always pay attention. I thought it was the fanciest Applebees I'd ever seen - I chalked the fanciness up to being in Solon. It was evident that the hair dye must have seeped in deep on both Geri and I because quite some time passed and we were waiting on our food and realized we had never even ordered. We had told each other what we wanted, but that's as far as it got. The waitress was a little lax. Well, we had a nice long leisurely evening and a totally awesome pulled chicken BBQ sammich. We'll be repeat business for that sometime.

I let Twinkle outside today, keeping a very careful eye on him, and now he won't stop meowing at the door. I created an outdoorsy monster, and he's driving us crazy. But he does have a very cute meower.

There was much, much more to the week, but this is it for this blog. It was a nice long 3-day weekend, I could use about 6 of these weeks in a row and would finally be able to catch up on stuff. A little at a time.

Peace and have a joyeously short workweek.