Friday, October 30, 2009


OK - It seems like only yesterday that the trip was a long long way off. I guess time really does fly, whether you're having fun or not. There has been so much going on the past few months the time just got away with me and all of a sudden it is here! Now comes the packing, planning, last minute panic, etc. etc. I really believed that once my retirement was final I would have loads of time to just sit down and do a really good job of planning for the cruise. Not so - It is two days away and I am more or less ready.

Katelyn is already in London visiting Sasha, her PSU tennis team buddy. I will meet up with her on Monday morning at Heathrow and we fly together to Istanbul, where we board the big boat. Jon, Mary Jane and Cindy meet up at JFK and fly directly to Istanbul. I fly out of Newark, and have been wondering what my choice of transportation would be - the airport is about a two and a half hour drive from home. I had decided to drive myself and find a long term parking option at or near the airport, which would cost me around $175.00. Yesterday Mike offered to drive me to the airport - before you get all choked up over his kindness he did say that he only offered because the Steelers were not playing that day! I hope they are not playing when I return!!!!

The only thing missing now is an international incident in one of the countries on our itinerary. I am certain there will be one. As of today the weather in Istanbul on the day we arrive looks terrible, and the weather report there indicates to watch for flight delays. Hopefully that all blows over before we get there.

I have had such a fun time planning this trip and feel so blessed that some of my family and friends chose to enjoy the adventure with me. I know it will make the trip so much better. I will miss Sun this time around as she is now married and with child. I did get to spend an evening with her a couple of weeks ago and she is clearly extremely jealous!!! Sun and I have enjoyed many trips together, including our crazy adventure in southeast Asia. I think my cruise group will be great fun also.

THE ADVENTURE BEGINS IN TWO DAYS! I have really appreciated all the good wishes coming my way from everyone!

Friday, August 28, 2009


I just can't go on a cruise without enough reading material. I have begun making some choices on what to take with me to read while relaxing on my balcony or sitting in a deck chair. When I travel I like to take books that are somehow related to the places I am visiting. I also prefer light reading when I travel as I sometimes read when I am tired, or need a book that I can put down easily.

A no-brainer for me to read while in or near Venice is one of Donna Leon's mysteries, which include such wonderful descriptions of life in Venice. Commissario Guido Brunetti is the solver of crimes in her novels. My good friend Lynn was way ahead of me on this one and when I visited her on Maryland's eastern shore recently there were several Leon novels sitting on the night stand in the guest room. The one I chose is "Death and Judgment".

Again my friend Lynn and her husband Jeff rose to the occasion with their extensive library collection and actually found two more mysteries in their collection, one by Robert Harris, "Pompeii", and one by Jason Goodwin, "The Snake Stone". The latter takes place in Istanbul and the former speaks for itself. Both of these authors are new to me, so I will really enjoy getting to know them.
Another book that Lynn and Jeff loaned me is "Michelangelo and the The Pope's Ceiling" by Ross King. I plan to read this before I leave for the cruise as it is definitely not "light reading" and I want to learn all I can about the Sistine Chapel ceiling to better appreciate what I am looking at while I am there.
I think a good plane read is "The Man Who Smiled" by Henning Mankell. The PBS series "Wallander" with Kenneth Branagh is based on his books. Anyway, as you can see I believe that picking reading material for my trip is just as important as choosing shore excursions, etc. When Sun and I went to the Dominican Republic a couple of years ago I managed to read five books while lounging on the beach. Anybody out there have any good reads to recommend?

Thursday, August 20, 2009



Or I should say "women overboard". I got a very sad email the other day - Melissa and Alda Mandell have had to drop out of the cruise. Sad, but true. We will miss them.

I have had such a busy summer that I haven't had much time to think about what is it like to be a retiree. I traveled to Watertown, NY at the end of June for a graduation party for Ryan Kenyon, Graham and Rena's son. BeVard parties are always a lot of fun. I stayed an extra day to travel further north to Ogdensburg for nostalgia sake. Then spent a fun evening in Syracuse with family.

I headed down to Lewes, DE the third week of July to pick Hannah up from Field Hockey camp. We spent a couple of days in Rehoboth Beach, driving to Assateague Island to see the wild ponies, spending a couple of hours at a spa getting massages and pedicures, and riding bikes all around town. (It is true what they say about riding a bike - I had not in many many years, and got right back on and took off like a pro - well maybe not like a pro)

On Saturday the 25th we got on a ferry and ferried over the Delware Bay to Cape May, NJ and met up with the rest of the family for a week at the beach. We all fell in love with the house we had rented and didn't want to leave when it was time to go home. Jillian, Brett, Peter, and Aaron joined us from VA, Courtney from NY, and the Kelly's and I from PA. It was a fun week of relaxation and bonding with family. I guess I should mention here that my second attempt at bike riding was not so successful. I ended up laying in the street between two parked cars with multiple cuts, bruises and strains. I did, however, get up, get back on, and ride around for about half an hour just to say I did. Then I nursed my wounds.

On the way home I stopped in York, PA to attend the graduation party for Hope, Don and Doris' daughter. Then the day after I got home I drove to Syracuse for Maleka's baby shower hosted by Amy and Laurie. More pics on facebook for those of you who indulge in that recreation.

I was home for only four days, then headed to NC to visit Stephanie and Ruthie. Ruthie is leaving to live in France for a while to improve her foreign language skills and to experience a different lifestyle. We will miss her, but at the same time envy the wonderful experience she will have.

I had the added pleasure of renewing a relationship with Milan and meeting his son Lars. The five of us headed to Morehead City, NC to spend a couple of days with Bob and just hang out and have fun. Again, more pics on facebook.

From NC I drove to Northern VA to attend a surprise birthday party for an Arlington colleague of mine, then spent a few days with Jillian and Brett and the boys. Later in the week I drove to the Eastern Shore to my friend Lynn's where we spent a couple of days seeing "Julie and Julia" going to the spa, and just enjoying being together. While shopping at the outlets I bought a travel purse and a billfold that will hold my passport, credit card, money, etc. (Always thinking about the cruise!)

I am home again and have said adieu this morning to the French students and chaperone who have been visiting Tunkhannock for three weeks. School will start soon and I will know what it feels like for the first time not to be there!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Two More Shipmates!

It's only three months and a few days before we take off for the Mediterranean. Alda and Melissa Mandell have taken the plunge and signed on as shipmates. That makes 7 of us all together at this point and still room for more. Jon would love to see some male types sign on so he isn't on a "chick cruise", as he says. I welcome anyone who wants to have this experience with me.

Choosing shore excursions has been quite an experience. There are so many to choose from and not having cruised before I am new to this and don't know all the ropes. At any rate for the time being we have chosen excursions at every port. Now I have to get in shape to be able to doing the required walking and hiking without huffing and puffing the whole way. I have invested in some good walking shoes and have started breaking them in around my neighborhood, which does not lack for hills. Being retired helps because I can get out in the morning before it gets too hot.

We've had some financial breaks on the cruise cost because of the economy. Those emails have been very welcomed. The savings are both for the cruise and the flight. I guess there has to be some benefit for a lousy economy.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Retirement Party #2 and #3

On May 30 my friend Lynn gave me a dinner party to celebrate my retirement. It was a winning combination of family and friends as we managed to have a wonderful time though many of the guests met for the first time that evening. Three colleagues from my office were there as well as three family members, myself and my friend Lynn. The dinner party was held at Patsel's, one of my favorite restaurants in the area.

As usual Lynn was the perfect hostess and everything was delightful, delicious, and endearing. I am so blessed to have such wonderful friends and such a special family, who are always so supportive of family events.

Event #3 was a catered dinner at our office hosted by the school board. It was a special event and made me feel like I have had a positive impact on the school system and the people I have worked with for the past five years. I was presented with a lovely sculpture engraved with "Thank you for nurturing each child's spirit for growth and achievement". A gift I will always cherish. It is a strange feeling to be at the end of a 40 year career, one that has given me much.

Now I am officially unemployed and have been home for a week trying to figure out "what's next?" I was in New York this past weekend for my grand nephews high school graduation party. The party was near Watertown, which is an hour from Ogdensburg where I used to travel with my father when he owned an airport there in the 50's. I balked at driving up there on Sunday as I dreaded the drive back to PA after my visit. Then I realized, "I don't have to be at work on Monday, so don't have to be home on Sunday." I guess this is something that will take some getting used to. I ended up driving back as far as Syracuse and spending the night with family. Much more relaxing than arriving home tired and then having to get up for work the next morning. I think I will get used to this pretty quick.

Cruise update coming soon. I may be adding a couple more shipmates soon. Right now am working on shore excursions. FOUR MORE MONTHS.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Retirement Party #1 - CHECK OUT THE CAKE!

On May 8 the wonderful people I work with gave me a great send-off surprise party at the hotel in Wyalusing. The biggest surprise was Stephanie driving up from Raleigh to join us. It was such a lot of fun and the cake was AMAZING! It even had five flags in the corner, each one representing the countries that I will visit on the cruise. The cake was a perfect replica of the Norwegian Jade all the way down to the portholes.

Everyone knows I love See's lollipops and there were plenty of those on hand to enjoy, as well as a lot of other tasty treats. It was so nice to spend some fun time with my colleagues who I have enjoyed working with for the past five years. I will miss Wyalusing and the friends I have made there. My "Gift From God" poster was a big hit (you had to be there).

The bonus of finding this job five years ago and having the opportunity to explore new horizons and meet new challenges has been so rewarding. I have been very fortunate in my career choices and from Arizona to Virginia to Pennsylvania, it has been my pleasure.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Less Than Six Months To Go!

Mother's Day and only six more months until I fly to Turkey to embark on our adventure. We had a great annual Mother's Day brunch at Patsel's. As usual the food was phenomenal and the setting was beautiful. A little chilly and windy for May 10th, but some sunshine brightened the day. The bottom picture was taken in the ladies room at the restaurant. It is the only public restroom that Shellie voluntarily uses. It is as beautiful as the rest of the restaurant. Shellie and I got gerber daisies as a Mother's Day treat from the owners. A very pleasant time indeed. I hope all of you had a wonderful Mother's Day celebrating with your loved ones and remembering all of our Mother's who have passed this life and are greatly missed.