Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Long-Awaited Vacation, Part Seven

View from Breakfast Someone once wrote "Ever notice that ‘What the hell’ is always the right decision?" and I guess that maybe to a certain extent he's right but in this post, I'm going to refute that particular axiom as I made that very decision in Saint Thomas and I really think it was perhaps the wrong answer in this case!

Wednesday, March 2nd, would eventually find us in Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands but not until a little later in the day which gave Barb and I the opportunity to try breakfast in the Golden Dining Room which did Open Seating for both breakfast and lunch. Turned out that this was the best way to have breakfast on the ship as it gave you a chance to not only have a nice relaxing breakfast that you didn't have to stand in line for but it also gave us the chance to meet some of our shipmates. Now, I know you're going to be thinking that I spent my whole cruise avoiding people due to what I've said so far but that's not necessarily true - I liked meeting them in small groups just not all at once!

Breakfast on March 2nd

In the picture above the gentleman on the left was from  Ohio and he was there with his wife whose elbow you can almost see!  The lady sitting next to him was from Canada, her husband had been sitting across from her but he'd obviously disappeared when I took this.  Both couples were very nice and I thoroughly enjoyed having breakfast with them.

Barb listening closely

As you can see, Barb found something of interest to listen to in the conversation as the couple from Ohio owned a flower shop and I believe they were exchanging business owner stories!  And aren't you pleased that I brought my camera along and even remembered to use it for a change?!?  Woohoo! The day was off to a fine start.

Approaching Saint Thomas

Following our delightful meal with delightful company, Barb and I made our way out to my favorite spot on Deck 3 Starboard so that I could take some pictures as we approached Saint Thomas.  Have I mentioned how much I liked that spot?? 

Pulling into Saint Thomas

View to the TramwayRumor had it that Saint Thomas was one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean and we were both ready to get off the ship and take some nice pictures. We had even formed a plan which was to take the tramway up to a vista point where there was a restaurant where we could have a tropical drink whilst enjoying the view, take pictures there, and then make our way back down and explore some more of the island.

First though I needed to make sure I sent some postcards so after getting off the ship we popped into a nearby shop and then the Post Office which were conveniently located next to each other!  Saint Thomas being a U.S. Territory it didn't cost me anywhere near the amount of money to mail postcards there that it did in Nassau - plus we had the added benefit of 3G service on our AT&T cell phones.  It was nice to be back in touch with the people back home who - believe it or not - I quite missed.

So ... anyway ... while I finished up in the Post Office, Barb stepped outside where it had just finished sprinkling a little bit and when I came out she was talking to a gentleman who was trying to talk Barb into coming along on his tour truck to see the island that way instead of going up on the tram.  He said that if we took the tram, we'd only see one view but if we went with him he could give us numerous views of different parts of the island.  Barb told the driver that we weren't interested in shopping or anything like that but that we both wanted to take pictures and he assured us that we would be able to get great pictures if we took his tour.  Barb asked me what I thought about the idea and that's when I uttered that later-to-be-regretted phrase, "What the hell"  and threw a "Why not?" behind it.

After climbing into his tour truck, which was essentially a double cab pick-up truck with seats in the back and a covered roof, we waited for some other folks from Argentina to join us along with another couple of ladies who I think got off the Glory also.  The driver climbed in and off we went but not very far.  We came to a stop at a small plaza/shopping area still within site of the ship and the driver left us there saying that he'd be back in about an hour so that we'd have time do some shopping at the outdoor market.

Outdoor Market

Excuse me?  Shopping?  Hello?  Did we not make it clear that neither one of us were interested in shopping? What the hell? The driver told us he'd meet us back in the dusty park near a particular group of benches and off he went while I decided to take pictures of what is probably one of the U.S. Coast Guard's most coveted assignments ...

A Great Assignment If You Can Get It!

Da Island BrewAvoiding the shopping area like it was inhabited by lepers, Barb and I walked around a bit and found a spot where we could sit at an outside table and partake of a local brew while killing some time waiting for our driver to get back.  The Island Summer Ale was a'ight but it could have been a bit colder for my liking but still ... what the hell, right?

One of the things that I found rather ironic or funny or both was that the place that we ended up grabbing our beer at looked awfully darned familiar to me except for the fact that it was located on a tropical island rather than in the middle of the Maine Coast.  Matter of fact, if i didn't know better, I might have sworn that I was sitting in Camden, Maine rather than Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands!

A Familiar Sign

Oh well, I was pretty sure that were I sitting outside of Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Lobster Roll shop in Camden that I wouldn't be looking at palm trees!

Island Palm

Checking our watches, it looked like it was about time to head back over to the dusty little park where we had been dropped off at to meet up with our driver so Barb and I made our way back though not before I got a picture of some the local ambulances which sure didn't look anything like the ones I dispatch back home!

Saint Thomas Ambulances

While we waited I took a few more pictures because that's just what I do!

Island Chicks
Island "Chicks"
St Thomas Street
An Island Street
Island Steeple
An Island Steeple
Across the Water to the Ships
Our ship and two others sitting just across the bay

Our driver finally returned but two of our party didn't as the other two ladies that had ridden over with us just seemed to disappear ... they probably got a tip that they'd be better off staying where they were and walking back to the cruise ship!  Ah well, what the hell, right?  Finally starting out on our "tour" we went up a rather busy and winding road to a scenic point where we were able to pile out of the truck for about ten minutes and take pictures elbow to elbow with a whole lot of other tourists.  Again, what the hell?

View to our cruise ship

View to the other cruise ships

Getting back into the truck we continued up the windy, curvy, very busy road and then pulled off at another "scenic area" where apparently the whole idea was to try some sort of frozen rum drink and then hopefully buy one from a guy who was apparently a friend of our driver. What the hell? Oh how convienent but no sale from either Barb or myself who were neither too impressed with the view or the drinks!

View From the Scenic Area on the Back of the Island

The driver had promised to show us some of Saint Thomas' beautiful beaches so Barb asked him if were going to see Magens Bay which is one of the top ten rated beaches in the world but he gave us some song and dance about how it would cost $8 more to see Magens Bay and he'd take us to another beach instead that was free where we could go stick our toes in the water.  What the hell?

Barb and Our Tour Truck

Neither Barb nor I had any interest in sticking our toes in the water whatsoever so rather than amble down to the beach with our "tour guide" and the Argentinians we opted to stay in our truck and wait for them to come back.  After awhile, though, I decided what the hell and went down to the water to take a couple of pictures of Sapphire Beach which is where we had ended up at.

Sapphire Beach

The beach weren't much as far as I was concerned but I did like the clouds! Look how tiny they make that cruise ship look!

Island Clouds

I was particularly partial to the palms, too!

Island Palms

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time, everyone regrouped and climbed back into the truck and off we drove back towards the area where our ships were docked.  The driver dropped us off in the middle of yet another shopping area - what the hell? - though this one at least had actual buildings complete with a tobacconist where I grabbed a couple cigars for some friends back home and Barb got one for her father before we wandered back to our ship all the while wondering what the big deal about Saint Thomas was.  Barb had been there before and said that she had thoroughly enjoyed it but that was 16 years ago so she wasn't sure if things had changed that much or what the hell had made it so different.

If you ask me, I'd have to say that it hadn't changed that much but that 'what the hell' in this case had most definitely been the wrong answer! You can darned well bet that I'll be thinking twice before I answer something that way again!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Long-Awaited Vacation, Part Six

Myself and Sandee

I thought I'd start this post with a picture that I got from the pages and pages of photos that Sandee's handsome hubby Zane took during the cruise. He actually took pictures of people whereas I mostly took people of places and things so I've snitched a few (with permission of course!) to "flesh" out my posts here and there. This shot above was actually taken while we were still in port in Miami shortly after Barb and I had met up with everyone on the Lido Deck and before I got pretty weirded out for the rest of the cruise.  I'd had the pleasure of meeting both Sandee and Zane twice before on trips to California but it was fantastic to see her again.  She and Zane had an absolutely fantastic time and, unlike myself, can't wait to get back on a cruise ship again!  Of course, what else would one expect from a Commodore??

After leaving the Bahamas, Monday night was the night for all of us to go to the steakhouse on the Glory and even though I took my camera with me (as always), I think I was just way too busy enjoying the food and the company to take any pictures! Rather than sitting at a big round table for ten that you had to shout across to be heard, the steakhouse had us sitting across from each other so I was able to talk to Sandy and Dick who were across from me without having the risk of losing my voice. Barb was to my left and on the other side of her were Sandee & Zane and Bee & Charlie and a special guest of theirs. It was still hard to talk to them but everyone was dressed up in their finest and the food was absolutely delicious! I had my very first steak & lobster and every single bite was fantastic. And the service ... oh heck, you can't beat the service on a cruise ship, of that I'm convinced!  The picture below of myself, Sandee, and Barb was again taken by Zane but I don't remember if it was before or after dinner! Before I think ...

Myself, Sandee, and Barb Before Dinner at the Steakhouse

The shot below was definitely taken after dinner when we'd left the 5-star restaurant (it costs $30 each for dinner but it was SO worth it only if to be treated like royalty by the staff!).  I guess we were there longer than I thought we were as when we came back out on deck, the Lido Deck was darned near empty and the lights had all come up.  This is looking towards the fore of the ship from aft ... like how I learned all of the nautical directions??

Nighttime on the Lido Deck

Being the ever-exciting social animal that I am, I believe I went back to my cabin after this and went to bed early while everyone else went to go see a show or to the comedy club. I don't think I did a single late night on the cruise but that's okay because it meant that I could get up early and take pictures while no one else was about!

Lido Deck Elevators

For example, these are the elevators on the Lido Deck that Barb and I used - a lot! 

Lido Deck Elevator Sign

I couldn't seem to get a shot of the deck layout without light issues but I wanted to post this as Barb found these guides to be quite helpful once she noticed that they were there! My poor cabin-mate always seemed to be turned around as to which direction was which so I think she needs to go back and practice on another cruise! 

Bank of Glass Elevators

This is just a quick shot of the glass elevators as I was heading out towards the open deck so I could try to get a picture of the sunrise ... whew!  Almost missed it! 

Sunrise on Tuesday

For the shot above and the shot below, I was on Deck 10 Aft and as you can tell, there was basically no one else around as they were all sleeping.  For me to be up at sunrise when I don't have to work is pretty unheard of but I was enjoying being out and about early for some strange reason. 

View from the top of the waterslide

And of course there HAS to be a picture of my most favorite place on the ship - Deck 3 Starboard where it was usually just me, a lot of empty deck chairs, and the lifeboats. In this case there was one other person out there but that's okay, I know how to share! Everyone tells me that you generally find a favorite spot on the ship and stick to it and for me - this was it! 

Deck 3 Starboard Deck Chairs

The rest of the day was spent at sea doing "fun" things what with Carnival being the fun ship and all!  Barb and I went and played a musical trivia game and then we played a single game of Bingo where she managed to walk away with the singular $600 prize - yay, Barb!  We celebrated with a Bloody Mary out on my favorite deck!  Later in the afternoon we went to a "Bloggers' Tea" where John Heald himself served up tea (Earl Grey, please!) along with pastries and cucumber sandwiches.  It was all quite civilized and, once again, I forgot to take pictures!  If you're interested you can check out a video of Tea Time over on YouTube if you'd like and you might even get a peek at a few of us that were there but just a quick peek!

Following tea I decided that it might be a good evening to get some pictures of sunset being that I had managed to get some of the sunrise but in order to do that I had to skip dinner with everyone else in the dining room as sunset was right about the same time.  I figured I could just order from Room Service after I was done taking pictures being that I had heard so many wonderful things about Room Service on the ship.  Heck, I'm all for letting someone bring me dinner on a tray! First, though, pictures were needed so it was back down to my favorite deck!

March 1st Sunset
Sunset on Tuesday Evening
March 1st Evening
Strolling on the deck

I have absolutely no idea who the couple in the picture above is but it's one of my very favorites being that I am a bit of a romantic fool and love seeing people in love.  Not that it doesn't depress the ever-lovin' beegeebers out of me being that no one loves me that way but I do love romanticism in all of its ways, shapes, and forms.  And really, isn't that just a great shot??

Tuesday evening on Deck 3
Deck 3 Starboard

As for the rest of the pictures, they speak of a solitariness to me, especially with the fading light of evening, but considering that's how I was feeling I think that they most definitely captured my mood.  There's just something about the vastness of the ocean to make you feel small in the world and watching the sun set over the Atlantic definitely made me feel small and alone and maybe just a bit melancholy, too. However, I was actually quite good with that so it wasn't a bad thing. 

There we are!
2.322 miles deep

Going back to my cabin to order that much-anticipated Room Service which ended up being a darned good BLT made with the most bacon I've ever had on a BLT anywhere, I checked our TV to see where we were in the vastness of the ocean. A Navy friend of mine had told me before I left on my cruise to not worry as I would never be more than two miles from land ... straight down ... but in looking at the sea depth I realized that he was wrong as we were definitely over waters more than two miles deep! Thanks for the comforting words, Gary - not!

Following my tasty dinner, I decided to venture out of my cabin (gasp!) and go join the people down in the Deck 3 Lobby where there was usually someone performing.  Barb and I had sat down there on Sunday evening and listened to a duet that I quite liked as we watched couples dancing on the small dance floor.  I had really enjoyed watching the couples dancing as it's something that I always wished I could do myself though it's kind of hard when a) you're uncoordinated and b) you don't have a partner!  Still, I thought it might be nice to head back down and grab a chair and a drink and listen to the music so I did. First, though, a few more pictures!

View to the Slide
The Carnival Glory Main Elevators
View Down to the Lobby from the Lido Deck
The Bank of Elevators
Duet in the Lobby Lounge

I never did find out their names but this is the duet that I liked; they performed a lot of songs that I hadn't heard in years and the female half had a voice very much like Celine Dion or someone like that.  She was quite good as was her partner but the main thing I remember about him was that he always said "Ah, thank you!" after every song! While listening to them I also treated myself to a very tasty Tiramisu Martini but you're not going to see a picture of it - imagine that!  Trust me, it was delicious and was a nice end to a nice evening at sea.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Next Time The Dreaded 'C' Word is NOT Invited!

Earlier this week I had been trying to figure out what to do with the days off on my upcoming weekend and had tossed around the possibility of driving up to New Hampshire to take pictures or driving over to Cape Cod to take pictures or driving down to ... well, you get the idea! In the midst of all that, though, I stopped for a moment and thought that maybe instead of gallivanting around New England taking more pictures (after all, it's not like I need more pictures!) that perhaps I should see if my friend Patti was up for taking a ride somewhere and spending some time together. I've taken a couple of very nice day trips with Patti and seen parts of Connecticut I'd not seen before while always having a wonderful time but this visit would have an additional purpose in that I was hoping to take Patti's mind off the ordeal that she would be facing on Monday even if just for a little while.

Recently, Patti announced on her blog that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer - something that I had known for awhile but had promised to not spread around. When Patti first found out that she had a spot on her latest mammogram that didn't look right we had held out hope that it was simply a fibroid but further tests squashed that hope when she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma. Okay ... that was bad but according to what I read if one was going to get breast cancer, that would be the best kind to get as it's easily treatable generally with just a lumpectomy. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't the case as when the doctor did the lumpectomy she found that a full mastectomy was going to be necessary to get all of the cancerous tissue.

When I heard the news after I returned from my cruise, I was pretty upset for my friend as Patti is one of those incredibly nice people that you think should never ever have bad things happen in her life but it seems like it's been one long string of misfortunes after another that she and her husband Ralph have had to endure.  Throughout it all, Patti has kept her wonderful sense of humor but come on Lord, enough is enough, huh?  Don't you think it's time to give the woman a break?  I sure do!

Patti is slated to "go under the knife" on Monday morning and I know that even though it's going to be a very tough thing to go through, I also know she's more than happy to get it over and done with and get on the road to recovery. As part of her battle against the cancer she's joined a support group at Griffin Hospital in Derby where she's being treated at the brand new Center for Breast Wellness, she tells me that her surgeon is an angel whom everyone respects and admires, she's writing about the ordeal on her blog which is very therapeutic even though she doesn't like to talk about herself, and she also has the love of family and friends behind her. With all that I'm thinking that this cancer really doesn't stand a chance!

Be that as it may, though, I'm sure that the cancer is never far from her thoughts so I thought perhaps an afternoon out and about in New Haven might be a nice diversion. I figured that if I could provide nothing else that I could certainly try to be a distraction and buy her lunch so to that end I met my favorite Princess in the parking lot of the huge Ikea store right off of Interstate 95 and we went in search of scenery and sustenance.

The first stop of the day was supposed to be the summit at East Rock Park where there is a statute that I've been wanting to photograph for some time now - the Soldiers &  Sailors Monument which honors New Haven men who gave their lives in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. Erected in 1887, the monument can be seen from pretty much all of the city including when you're driving past New Haven on the interstate and being that I'd seen it many times in passing I figured it was time to get up close and personal for some photographs. Before heading down to New Haven, I checked the city's webpage where it said that "The Summit Drive is open daily April 1 to November 1, 8 a.m. to sunset. November 1 to March 31, road to summit is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting." Even though it was cold and windy, it was still bright and sunny so the weather should have been permitting the drive to be open, right? Wrong!

Closed East Rock Park Summit Road Gate

Well what the heck?  Thinking that perhaps things had changed since whenever it was that New Haven thought to update their webpage, I walked over and took a look at the sign next to the closed gate ...

East Rock Park Summit Sign

Uhm ... okay ... it was most definitely Saturday and it was most definitely between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. as I had met Patti at noon exactly and it only took about 15 minutes to drive over to East Rock Park but that gate was most definitely closed and there was no way that I was going to ask a woman who had recently undergone a surgical procedure with another major one looming on the horizon to hike up to a statue in 35-degree temperatures. I certainly didn't want to see the Soldiers & Sailors Monument that badly!

Oh well, on to Plan B which was to go by the New Haven Green and take some pictures of the historic churches located there.  We drove down to the Green but as I looked around at the Yalies all hanging around and the other assorted denizens of New Haven I decided that perhaps it was just way too cold and windy to be schlepping around in downtown New Haven so why not just go get something to eat instead?  Patti concurred and after a little while we found ourselves sitting in a booth at the Texas Roadhouse in West Haven ordering chicken in a steak joint!

We had a lovely lunch and chatted about my recent cruise and her recent visits to the doctor as well as her upcoming stint on an episode of Ghost Hunters which revolves around the Sterling Opera House and the mysterious lights that we saw there when myself, Patti, and my friend Amy spent Halloween Night in 2009 exploring the old opera house. Had I not been off cruising the Eastern Caribbean when the lead investigators for TAPS - Jason and Grant - were in Derby doing their thing, you can darn well bet that I would have been in Derby watching as Patti got interviewed for the show! Darn the luck for missing that one!  But I certainly won't miss it when the show airs in either April or May and I've got my fingers crossed that Patti's part does not end up on the cutting room floor!

Following lunch - which included a visit to the table by the owner of the restaurant (Mike must have been 7 feet tall if he was a foot!) who gave us each a coupon for a free appetizer being that it was our first visit to his establishment - we decided to take a drive out to Lighthouse Point Park to try to take some pictures out there being that it was still a beautiful sunny day.

Long Island Sound from Lighthouse Point

The above picture is of the view out to Long Island Sound from next to the lighthouse.  As you can see, the water was pretty choppy and that was because it was darned windy which in turn made it darned cold! It's easy to tell from the picture of Patti below that her hair was blowing around pretty good as she checked her camera to see if she liked the shot she had just taken.

Intrepid Reporter Patti

As I looked at the old lighthouse which was built out of brownstone in 1847 and named Five Mile Point Light, I thought that it most definitely was in need of a new coat of paint but then I thought that maybe they kept it that way for a more "rustic" look!  The lighthouse went out of operation in 1877 when Southwest Ledge Light (you can barely make it out in the picture of Long Island Sound above) became operational but apparently the City of New Haven sometimes offers climbing tours of the tower.  Gee, I wonder how far up the winding stairs I could get before I needed a medic?!?

New Haven Light

In front of the lighthouse facing the Sound is the below monument marking a spot where British troops landed in 1779 with the intent to burn down New Haven ... the marker seems a bit out of place, like it's just sort of been set there until someone can find the proper place to put it.

Lighthouse Point Monument

It's even stranger when you walk around and read the inscription on the back! 

Lighthouse Point Monument Side 2

Patti jokingly said that perhaps we should notify the Daughters of the American Revolution in New Haven that that their cannon was missing, something that they probably wouldn't find amusing but would certainly provide us with a laugh or two! Honestly, though, the whole thing just looks like it's been ripped off another spot and dumped where it is but this is New Haven we're talking about so I suspect it's about par for the course. Maybe the same guy who was supposed to open the gates at East Rock Park was supposed to put this marker someplace else!

Lighthouse Point Lighthouse

The above is just another shot of the old New Haven Harbor Light because - as you know - I like pictures of lighthouses and there's no way that I can write a post that contains just one picture of the same lighthouse!

Climbing back into the warmth of the car, we left Lighthouse Point behind and went back over to New Haven proper and the Ikea parking lot where we'd left Patti's car earlier in the day. Having never been to an Ikea before, I was rather looking forward to the experience as I had heard tell that they had cinnamon buns to die for and I just had to find out for myself!

Odd New Haven Building

Now, the building above is definitely NOT the Ikea but it is located next to the Ikea and I had to take a picture to share as this is one of those things that I have driven past on the interstate time after time again but never really stopped to look at even though it has always caught my eye.  As I told Patti, I can't help but look at it and think that the darned thing would never survive even the smallest of earthquakes as the top half would just collapse right onto the bottom part of the building. Patti said she'd never even thought about earthquakes and the building but I'm not surprised as Patti has never lived in California unlike myself who has lived there and been through a good number of earthquakes.

Anyhow, enough of that ... this is the main entrance to Ikea ... I bet that whole big "entrance" sign gave it away, huh?

Ikea Entrance

Upon entering the store we made our way to the second floor where there was an enormous cafeteria/dining area with big windows that overlooked the parking lot.  Patti pointed out East Rock Park across the way so I went over to the windows and took a picture of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument way, way, way across the city. See that sort of finger in the middle of the faraway hill? Yep, that's it and that was going to be the best view I had of it all day!

View from Ikea to East Rock in New Haven

As we walked around the humongous store we came upon a display of Knubbigs which are little round frosted glass table lamps that were quite cute.  Patti had been looking for a new bedside lamp and she thought perhaps a Knubbig might be nice. As she debated whether to buy one or not I made a joke about them being "Knubbig deal" - something that seemed to totally crack Patti up and may have helped her make up her mind to get one. Considering that my goal for the day had been to go to New Haven and try to get her to laugh a time or two, I was very pleased to see her doing just that even if the other shoppers in Ikea were looking at the two of us rather strangely!

Table Lamp Knubbigs

After the Knubbig display, we came across a display that portrayed a small business in New Jersey I believe it was.  The owner of the shop had used all merchandise from Ikea to set up her coffee shop and that included the cute little semi-coffee cup that I took a picture of below. Isn't it just darling?

Look How Cute It Is!

There was another set of even cuter gray half-size coffee cups with saucers but I managed to resist the calls of "buy me, buy me!" that I could distinctly hear from them. Cute or not, I need more coffee cups like I need another cat!  I did however, succomb to a couple of small purchases including some tealights, AAA batteries, a teeny tiny blue stuffed animal for Jamie called a Söt Barnslig (soft toy), and a pretty green Rotera (a small lantern for the tealights).  Patti got herself a pretty pink Rotera that I thought was appropriate considering pink is the official color for breast cancer.

As soon as we got close to the check-out counters we were overwhelmed by the smell of baking cinnamon buns - a smell I'm sure they piped into the air system at the store!  Even though I'm doing quite well at eating healthier lately, I figured I couldn't very well go to Ikea and not get a cinnamon bun after I'd heard so much about them so I bought two to take home with me. I suspect they're really, really good fresh out of the oven but I wanted to bring one home to Jamie and figured I could always pop them into the microwave for a bit if needed.

Snack Bar Choices

After we walked back to our cars, I told Patti that a picture simply had to be taken otherwise Mimi would never forgive me so she posed with her Knubbig and her pretty pink Rotera.  As you can tell, it was still pretty darned breezy!

Patti with her Rotera & Knubbig at Ikea

Patti said she needed a picture of me, too, and even though she took one of me holding her purchases, she also took this one where I'm holding Jamie's Söt Barnslig. Even though I'm a little squinty from the position of the sun, I rather like this shot and I generally hate pictures of myself! Like I told Patti, she seems to have a knack for taking good pictures of me but that's probably because she always makes me smile anyway and I'm not having to force it for the camera.

Myself and a Sot Barnslig from Ikea

Following our parking lot picture session I told Patti that I had hugs to deliver from some of her friends on Facebook so - much to what will probably be the shock of a lot of you - I then proceeded to give her five big hugs. No doubt people would probably have been looking at us strangely again were they to drive by but I really didn't give a rat's behind what anyone else thought. I've heard tell that cancer is best fought with a positive attitude and a lot of support and I wanted Patti to know that she had that support and then some. Before leaving I told her to be sure to have her husband Ralph let me know how she's doing on Monday and promised her that we'd be getting together again soon then I gave her another big hug and told her I needed to get going before I started crying as making either of us cry was definitely not my goal for the day!

As I walked across the parking lot towards my car and Patti started to climb into hers I turned around and shouted one more thing to her, "Hey! Next time we get together, don't bring the cancer with you, okay?!" Patti smiled and said that was the plan - one that I'm most definitely looking forward to!