Saturday, October 3, 2009

Birthdays,Outings & EP365...or Jan-Olav, what have you gotten me into.....

I'm another year older.

On my 40th birthday, my sister-in-law Julie said "Thank God....39 sounds like such a LIE" here I am at 49, wondering if people think the same thing.

No photos of me for ritual've seen them all. Instead, I will fill you in on a project for the upcoming year.

My friend, Jan-Olav, just spent the past year documenting his life in a photo-a-day. "Project 365" he called it..or P365 for short. Alix pointed out to me that if I were to do a similiar project, this year, the 50th of my existence on earth (at least this go-round...) would be the perfect time to do it. So here goes.

I plan on taking a photo a day. I won't post them daily--hopefully once a week- say, on a Friday. They won't be professional...they won't be perfect...they won't be will just be something from my life. Jan-Olav says it's harder than it looks. We'll see. Here goes.

Oh, and you might have noticed. I'm "outing" everyone. When I started blogging over TWO YEARS (!!!!???!!!) ago, I used nicknames to keep my family private. I realize that anyone with more than two working brain cells can figure out the who-what-wheres of the denizens of MaisonCouRouge. I mean-geez--go to Washington County, Georgia and ask "Who drives a blue smartcar?" "Who goes on a summer cruise with her whole family every year?" "Who lives in a house with a turquoise back door and brightly colored adirondack chairs on the front porch?"
So the cover is blown.

Funny, the nicknames are ones we use all the time.....and I'll still use them for some. But the cast of characters are as follows.....

Elizabeth, or E as she is often known
Alan, aka Grumpy Guy
AJ or Boy
Alix who is Girl

You will note that I am surrounded by "A"s....I usually sign family gifts "EA³" or "EAcubed"

Then there's
CruiseGran or Jane or Mama or Gran
D who is also DR
Larry who wishes to remain Larry (but who is really Ed)
Jula or Julie
Austin ..Dude
Rabbit and Panda, my nieces

Woo is Will (dubbed so by Austin in his toddler years)
Debo--Dena (thanks, Rabbit!)
the world's cutest nephew(formerly world's cutest baby and world's cutest toddler) is in reality named Hutch

Hmmmm- anyone else?
"Caro" Alix's best friend, is Caroline (gee that was a tough one)
the Captain, is my internet best buddy, Jan-Olav...aka "the best friend I've (n)ever met"™

Anyone else? Well, if so, consider yourself "outed"--let me know if you want me to use an alias.

And anyone who might think of using my information for mean purposes...remember I'm a Southern Girl...I'm a real good shot.............and I believe in shooting first, and asking questions later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

To Berlin

ooohhhhhh--It was E-A-R-L-Y. 4:30am. The kids had stayed up all night. Why bother going to sleep when you can sleep on a plane. Only eight of us went to Berlin, the rest of the family needing to get back to the real work and their lives...

It's never fun to leave one of the Crystal Girls behind..but when no one is stirring, it's just a touch easier....

but work never really stops.....

Because no cruise line ever wants its travelers to miss a flight, we got to the airport early...even before we could check in. Sleep came easily to the party bunch in the "under 20" set...

And, when the "grown-ups" moved the luggage...most of the kids stirred, but not all.

We considered outlining her body with chalk, like a crime scene investigation...

I guess now would be a great time to mention that, should you be an international traveler with two pieces of only get one freebie domestically in Europe....20 kilos. Not knowing this in advance, we learned it the HARD way....After a giant hoo-haw back and forth between Air Berlin ticketing, Swedish luggage handling, ATMs, Currency Exchange (remember this is all at 6am), we handed over an average of $100 EACH to get our luggage to Berlin.

Grumpy Guy and I landed in Berlin with heightened emotions. When we were last in this beautiful city, it was 1985 and there was a Cold War raging. The divided Berlin held so many memories for us, as we traveled there many times while we lived in Germany. But I wasn't prepared for the flood of joyous feelings at returning to a city celebrating the 20th anniversary of its reunification.

I've never experienced such speed of deplaning and luggage retrieval. Seriously. Every airport agency should study the procedures of Tegel Airport. We were in the van with our luggage in under 15 minutes from stepping off the plane.

The obligatory explanation to the kids that President Kennedy called himself a jelly doughnut....

And we arrived our WONDERFUL hotel...Grand Hotel Esplanade. The kids were exhausted (go figure) so GG, CruiseGran, Larry and I took off for a stroll and lunch.

The guys move faster than the girls do...

and we settled down at the Sony Center at Potsdamer Platz for lunch at Josty

Wierd feeling number one---Potsdamer Platz of my memory was an empty field next to The Wall...not some magnificent modern bit-of-everything that surrounded me.

I could tell it was going to be a wild five days.

We cabbed it home due to rain.

After consulting the concierge, we chose an Italian restaurant, Sorriso, within walking distance to the hotel for supper. The park along the way had some interesting of which couldn't help but remind us of the Arkansas Razorbacks....

and the food was so good at Sorriso, we went back the next night as well!!!

We were tired, and ready for a good night's sleep to be ready to tackle Berlin (version 2.0)!

Something about the trash bins in Berlin just cracked me up...there are about ten different versions, but here's the first one that caught my eye...

Into Stockholm

We had a nice leisurely sail through the beautiful islands toward Stockholm.

We arrived in the evening, so I had the day to wander around Symphony.

The crew had a weekly drill, and I had fun watching them trot around the ship to various muster stations...

It looked for a while like we were following a pilot ship, which seemed unusual...

A blast from Symphony's horn caught little attention. But another blast, and then another, and passengers started to look we got closer and closer and...

A reeeaaallllyyy long blast later, and someone moved over....

I mean, come ON--how can you not hear all that noise? Did the pilot have earphones on? Imagine what ran through his head when he FINALLY turned around and looked and saw what was looming up on his stern!!!

We had an early dinner, as our excursion was an evening harbor cruise of we shared "goodbye-for-now" hugs with our waiters..

And I added to my collection of "Me and My Sommelier" with photos of Bart

and Mario (yep, same one from last year!!)

Our excursion was lovely--couldn't have had better weather...

And the sights from near the waterline stunning.

(unfortunately, my camera wasn't on all the I missed the group of 4 teen-aged boys doing what teen-aged boys do best...mooning a whole boat-load of tourists!!!)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wise Words from Audrey Hepburn

Wise words from Audrey Hepburn... when asked to share her beauty tips, she replied....

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Last Sea Day

Mirth And Merriment for the Gang's final full formal sea day for 2009

Rabbit gets yet ANOTHER fantabulous face paint

While waiting for the Noon Trivia Contest, the guys work Sudokus

The Captain's Farewell Party has us looking good

Mademoiselle London gave a resounding "no" at this photo-op

The guys are looking good

Cousin Andy has a way with her

The Suttons- handsome runs in the family....

The Veuve Clicquot girls doing their Oprah chins....

All smiles

Just look at that face....

Is Dancing with the Stars in their future?

Dude gets his Beef Wellington

Rabbit and Girl (in Dress #1*)

Rabbit and Boy (with both cuffs*)

And after dinner, we pretty much took over the Avenue Saloon...

Can we already be heading toward Stockholm???????

* Yes, there is a story...ask them.