Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Greetings from the high seas, somewhere oout of Hilo on the Big Island, on our way to Kona, on the other side of the island. I did actually make it here. A brief recap from my last post: I woke in Morgantown to find an inch of snow on the ground and more coming down. On the way out to the car my left knee went out from under me and has stayed painful, which probably means I tore something in it once again. I made it to DC, renewed my car rental at Enterprise and met up with my ex. We had lunch and I checked into my el cheapo motel. I was feeling so beat up and my legs hurt so much that I decided to curtail my activities, and rest for at least a day or 2 so I would be able to go to my planned visit at LC and see my friend R and have dinner at her house, if not stay with her. Once again my ex was super-supportive and helpful and even ferried me to the Hill and stopped by for dessert and to take me home from R's house. The LC visit was not as helpful as I hoped but I did see some very old friends.

I made my plane to LA and then to Honolulu and met my dear MIL. We got to the cruise ship and found our cabin. I was once again feeling tired and beaten about--this is the end of the trip and my stamina is very limited. I have spent the first two days of the cruise in our stateroom (the size of a small motel room, but with a balcony) but my MIL has ventured out at each stop. I was scheduled to go snorkeling the morning after we arrived but I cancelled it. Today I went on a trip to Volcanoes National Park, which was supposed to be the most important point, and it was spectacular. Huge calderas, steam vents, jumbled piles of lava. I'll try to post photos when I get home but I am sure the scale will be impossible to grasp. We might see molten lava falling into the sea from the boat tonight, but from land you are not allowed anywhere near it. The excursion was just what I was hoping for and am so glad I did it. I have rescheduled a less taxing and smaller-group snorkel trip off Kona tomorrow but today I have been coming down with a cold despite my best efforts to avoid it. If it's bad tomorrow I don't know how you blow you nose and/or cough in a dive mask and snorkel. Thursday it's Waimea Canyon which is mostly a bus trip. I will be very sad if I can't snorkel but it really depends on how I feel tomorrow. Sailing is kinda interesting, a slight rolling feeling but this is a big ship so I can't imagine feeling seasick. A cold was NOT on the agenda.

My luggage is crammed full and hard to manage so we will try to get it from the boat to the hotel in Waikiki and then HOME! I am very homesick, if you can't tell.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am sitting in a motel in Morgantown WV (West Virginia for those outside the USA) where I forced myself off the road after too long at the wheel. I had disagreements with Mandy, ended up driving too far in the wrong direction, was driving through blowing snow all day at 75MPH (You Aussies do the maths). A recipe for an accident with monster 18-wheelers and people driving even faster all around. I stopped here at 3PM because I knew I was not going to make it to DC in what passed for daylight. Then I pulled the best trick of the trip: I locked my purse (with phone) and keys in the boot when I took out my suitcase. I phoned Enterprise and talked to a very nice man in St Louis who has friends in Perth (WA) who was diligent in trying to find my rental contract. No go. Fortunately there was a local Enterprise employee willing to drive here and read the VIN off the car to prove it was theirs so they could authorize it to be unlocked. Three hours later, I am safe and warm and typing away while drinking Gonzo Imperial Porter (9.2% alcohol) and trying to feel no pain. May I state categorically that, while the Dodge Avenger is roomy and has an aux-in jack for my iPod, it is underpowered (and therefore guzzles fuel on hilly terrain) and has the mushiest steering I ever have driven. I don't exist because I have an overseas credit card. MasterCard is going to get a very angry letter when I get home. I had this happen repeatedly throughout the US.

The last few days at BFLB's house were quiet. A little more yarn shopping so I now have 5 boxes to ship home, but there are books for an M Bag. Yesterday it snowed spectacularly to little effect, so we stayed inside by the gas fireplace and watched college football. It's spooky that I can remember gridiron tactics and plays when I haven't watched it in 20 years. College ball is more interesting than NFL anyway because people get more excited. Speaking of which I checked on the Swans fixture for 2009 and found a number of weekend day games at the SCG that are possible for Canberrans. I'd love to go back to the SCG for a match, providing it's not raining.

You might have noticed I neglected to mention The Election. I'm just so pleased to be here for this epic moment in American life (and to participate) and to watch a new era begin. I sincerely hope and firmly believe that Obama will get the best people in the country and the country is ready for change. W was apparently quoted as saying "I guess I just had one of those Presidencies" as if the entire world isn't suffering from his idiocy for 8 years. American needs to do serious work on its health care system and financial infrastructure before more people are made unemployed and/or homeless. A friend told me she was much more ready to work on any project offered her to save her job and there are lots of others not so lucky. Another friend faces major surgery without health insurance.

I listened to some good podcasts, including one a rant against a rant against boomers. Gen X etc. don't realize how much of what they take for granted (even a bi-racial President) is the result of boomers. I won't rant but the podcast ended with the Jimi Hendrix opening riff for Purple Rain so I put Jimi on the radio and cranked it up. That got the blood pumping for a while. Also listened to an interesting podcast about mythical beasts with excerpts from a new novel called The Bestiary by Nicholas Christopher. I must buy it. Both podcasts were from International Public Radio's To the best of our knowledge which were very good listening on the road. New to my podcast lists.

Thanks to whomever you are that turned me to over 12,000 hits. I hope I have amused or interested you on my Big Adventure. It's almost over but I may be able to blog from the cruise ship! I am ready to leave snow and driving behind and relax. It has been so super seeing so many old friends and making new ones. I am truly blessed by knowing some really wonderful people and will continue to be torn by loving living in Australia with all my friends there, and the delights of the US marketplace and menu, and all my friends here, the oldest I think so far I've known 48 years.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ohio is flat. This is not news but is something I forget when I've been away in more hilly terrain for years. We (BFLB and her friend M) drove up to the edge of Lake Erie yesterday to attend an open house at Just for Ewe at Marblehead. Christi has a tiny house full to the bursting point with gorgeous yarn ranging from Noro to Cascade 220 and I put another dent in my credit card. Since I bought no yarn for all of 2007 and most of 2008 and gave a box full to fellow Canberra knitter C, I feel like I can splurge a little. Two skeins of a discontinued Noro for a shrug are my favourite purchase. I've finished two pairs of socks so far on this trip and am busily working on another from Trekking wool and bamboo I bought in Virginia. It has sort of a crunchy hand but is getting silkier as I knit more and I think it will soften when washed. BFLB knits very colourful socks with pattens while I remaind a member of the "plain stockinette socks" group. The last two pair have been with ribbed uppers simply because I knew I would have plenty of yarn (Trekking and Opal are both generous in yardage).

Saturday my other brother drove over from Indiana for lunch and we had a most cheerful lunch. He and I have spent probably the least amount of time together out of the disconnected family but we share a love of science fiction. I used to love summer stays at his house because I would try and read as much as I could from his library while I was there. He confirmed my bitter memories of my parents' endless fighting, which I dreamed of running away from as a child. I was really unaware of a lot of stuff when I was young and really didn't understand what a loving family meant until I met my ex's family who welcomed me in as a daughter. It's nice to reclaim my family bit by bit even if too many years have passed when we should have been enjoying each other's company.

My health has been good except for Friday when I felt uncomfortable and out of sorts all day. In the evening I asked BFLB to take my blood pressure (had a hunch) and it was through the roof. Fortunately, whatever it was disappeared by the next morning and I was back in normal BP. Now I know what high blood pressure feels like. I have also forgotten to take my pills on a couple of occasions, no doubt because there is no routine to my life at the moment.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Yes, I am still alive. I have made it to BFLB's home in the Buckeye state without problem after spending a day and a half with my brother in Buffalo. Unfortunately, while I was there, I took a Neurontin at bedtime because my legs were killing me and when I woke up I was extremely dizzy and promptly fell down, hitting my head on the corner of their dresser on the way down. I spent most of the day resting and recuperating from that adventure, but the weather wasn't very nice and I've been to their house so many times that there wasn't any sightseeing I felt compelled to do. So we talked and looked at family photos and I feel a little bit more connected to a family that had been mostly lost to me all my life. My father kept all his children isolated and was always in the room when we got together so we never could talk comfortably. Since he died, the children have become much closer and we regret all the years we lost.

Since I've been here I've been catching up on sleep, eating far too much, and just relaxing. Friday I went to vote early absentee and so our delight but also sadly not so good for my legs, there was a three and a half hour wait in line to vote! I can't tell you how many people that was but the line moved very briskly and snaked all the way through the lobby of the building. We struck up a conversation with a nice "young" lady who wanted to learn to knit, had firbromyalgia, and was voting for the first time. My guess is that the crowd was about 50/50 white and African American and was very patient and upbeat. I hadn't realized the extent of the bombardment voters are getting, especially in a crucial state like Ohio, from mostly the "other" side of the political divide, until I got here. I am very glad I came to vote even if I did cause a minor hiccup when I got there and told them I was not allowed vote on anything but the federal ballot. I don't want any excuse for them to not count my ballot this year like they did the past 2 elections. I should look who won the ACT election which took place last week.

Other events along the trip were catching up with friends I went to junior high and high school whom I haven't seen in decades. Needless to say, there was a lot of talking at do. Then I headed off to near Utica to visit with a former work colleague who also happened to live across the street from me in Ohio and who was responsible for one of the photos I sent the Bear when we first were long-distance courting. It rained one day so we talked all day; the next day we drove to Itaca to go to Susan's where I just had to buy some gorgeous spinning fibre, even some angora which I have never tried before. But it was 50% off so how could I not? Said friend also took me to a book store which was also dangerous. Books can be mailed home cheaply, and fibre squooshes. Not so sure about the jam I bought yesterday... Utica got a foot of snow the day after I left and it was snowing lightly as I drove around the end of Lake Erie in the way to central Ohio. I was not particularly happy to see that, but lake effect snow doesn't bother much except those that live down wind of the Great Lakes.

Yesterday we bought jam, cider, wierd beer, bratwurst, et al., and went to a perfomance of music by a folk group whose soprano provides me with a Franklin County address for my absentee voting rights. Today, who knows what mischief we will get into?