Staying in Focus: Cruise Setting: Writing 101

If I could be transported anywhere at this time,  I would choose a cruise ship. We have taken two cruises, one to Alaska and one to Great Britain. If you’ve never been on a cruise ship you can’t imagine what they are like, but I will try to paint a picture for you.

As the bus nears the pier where the cruise ships berth, an audible gasp can be heard as the bus pulls up, completely dwarfed by the massive ships. Looking up, out of the bus window, you can’t even see the top, just deck after deck of balconies, and each one representing a room. You cue up in line to check in, fill out a paper stating you do not have a fever and pass through security as if you were boarding a plane. But this is where the likeness ends.

As you enter the ship, you get your picture snapped and then either board an elevator or climb a wide staircase to your deck. You,  exit the elevator and feel as if you are in a hotel. Corridors lined with door to the rooms and suites are a bit narrower than a typical hotel but you feel like you are in a hotel on land. You find your room, small but space efficient and if you open the drapes you will realize you are not on land, but  on an enormous floating hotel. As you explore the ship you see a beautiful, wide spiral staircase, elevators which offer you a view as they travel up and down, gold accents, rich wood paneling, places to shop, a movie theater, several pools, a spa, an infirmary  and restaurants, nightclubs, and  a theater with a stage. There are expensive perfume and diamond jewelry shops, gift shops, and clothing boutiques. Outside, lounge chairs line the decks and surround the pools. Playing on the jumbo TV above the pool is a rock concert.

After a while, you learn what is on which deck, you learn forward from aft, and most importantly you learn the Lido deck is the place that serves food 24 hours a day.

But while the setting of a cruise ship is quite overwhelming, what I love best is waking up each morning, opening the drapes and finding myself sailing into the port city of a new country almost every day. On our trip last summer we awoke as the ship pulled into St. Peter Port, Guernsey, Liverpool, England, Cobh, Ireland and LeHavre, France to name  a few. I also enjoyed returning from an excursion and seeing that beautiful enormous “home” waiting for us to come aboard.

And one more word about setting. On board a cruise ship, away from lights and land, you will see the most amazing sunsets, sailboats backlit by a setting sun, the play of light and clouds on the water.I n case my feeble attempt to describe the setting of a cruise ship has failed, here are some picture s. As you can see, the settings are most spectacular.




The Caribbean Princess

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approaching St. Peter Port, Guernsey

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purple dominates the sunset

purple dominates the sunset

rays of sunlight stream across the water

rays of sunlight stream across the water

the sun sets bringing an end to the long Alaskan day

the sun sets bringing an end to the long Alaskan day

my first sunrise at sea

my first sunrise at sea




a nightclub


approaching Cobh, Ireland

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Staying In Focus: Daily Prompt: Luckiest People/Lucky Me, Loving You

Daily Prompt: The Luckiest People

Who was the first person you encountered today? Write about him or her

The first person I saw this morning was the same person I see first most mornings, my husband of 38 years, Bill. He is the lucky one who gets to see me with my hair sticking out from my head in one place, and mashed to my skull in another place. He gets to see me before I wash my face, brush my teeth and generally make myself presentable to the world.

However, since I get up, make him an egg breakfast a few mornings a week, and pack his each workday, he chooses to look past my frightful appearance and even kiss me goodbye before he leaves for work.

I consider myself one of the luckiest people, because I have married my best friend Photo39and soul mate and the nicest guy I know. He has stood by my side during the scariest moments in my life. He was there when I experienced complications following childbirth, when I woke up after having colon surgery to remove a cancerous polyp, and sat next to me as the neurologist confirmed the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. When I dragged my feet about seeing a neurologist, he wisely reminded me that not knowing would not change anything. If it was there, it was there and we would deal with whatever the future held.

When I stressed over a job situation I found intolerable, he bought me a video of music and whales (I have a thing for whales) to calm me, and took to me to the beach that weekend.

When I joked that the perfect Christmas would be to receive a roll top desk, a fur coat (fake), and a Gone with the Wind video, he made it happen. This Christmas he gave me an official Atlanta Braves uniform shirt (I have a thing for the Braves) and a silver necklace with an Egyptian hieroglyph pendant that spells ‘ I love you.’ (Yes, I have a thing for ancient Egyptians, too). But far more meaningful than material things are the ways he makes me feel special, of his belief in me when I doubt myself.

He never complains when he is rudely awakened by my alarm going off at 6:00 AM to remind me to take my first pill of the day and by my second alarm at 7:30AM when I begin the Parkinson’s meds for the day.

He drives me where I need to go, because I no longer drive.

He took me to Alaska to see the humpback whales.IMG

He took me to Great Britain and was sure to include Stonehenge because, yes, I have a thing for Archeology.

He took me to  a Monkees Concert because, well, you know…

But above all, I have a thing for him, and always will. A few years back, I wrote him this poem, which fits nicely in with today’s prompt:

For the caring, and the sharing

and the way you kiss goodnight

for the loving and the giving                                      IMG                 

and the way you hold me tight

And for listening and supporting me

in everything I do                                                                                             IMG_0002

I wrote this poem

to simply say

lucky me, loving you!

Staying In Focus: Their Future is In our Hands

Young Archeologists at Work.

My sister hit a home run when she gave my granddaughter a Smithsonian Archeology Kit for Christmas. It consists of a rectangular sunblock, goggles, a hammer and chisel, a paint brush and a magnifying glass. The aspiring archeologists “excavate” gem stones by gently tapping the chisel with the hammer and when one is discovered, carefully brush away the sand as the gem is removed from the sand block.

Both my seven-year old granddaughter and her five-year old brother had a blast searching for the gems. They unearthed 5 of the 11 gems buried in the block so far. Evelyn declared that science was the most fun and that she was going to be an archeologist/geologist/biologist because she wanted to go tomb hunting, find more hematite like the stone she had at home and work with germs. If anyone could achieve this trifecta, it would be Evelyn’

She is currently writing a “non-fiction” article about hookworms and other parasites, after reading about them in a book on the slimy side of science which Santa brought her for Christmas.  We gave her a laptop computer for Christmas, and she is already learning how to use windows 8, and drew her hook worm using a Paint program, and then inserted it into her Word file.

Although I am a proud grandmother who thinks her grandchildren  are the smartest and cutest on the planet, I know there are millions of other bright minds out there. Children who will grow up in a world where technology has exploded in its ability to transfer information, cure diseases, entertain us with the unimagined  ability to cross the boundaries between reality and the virtual world.

But I fear we are falling behind in preparing our children for this brave new world.  Our teachers are undervalued and underpaid, held to strict curriculum that allow for little in the way of creativity. This is boring for the students, and unpalatable for the best teachers. So they are leaving the profession in droves. Latest statistics show that 40% of those with advanced degrees never enter the classroom at all. Finland is reported to have the best school system in the world. Why are we not studying this model? Are we too arrogant to admit we can learn from someone else? If so, where does that leave my two future archeologists?

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