Rome again...


11 May 2012

We arrived in Rome around 10 am after an uneventful flight from Toronto. Our B&B was a lovely 3rd floor room only a few blocks from Piazza Navona. We walked to the Piazza and then stopped at a Sicilian restaurant for rissoto. Strolled by the Tiber River. Visited the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Ate roasted chestnuts from a street vendor. And savoured gelato.

Rome is special in so many ways, but our most special treat was dinner again at Palmiro Reno's restaurant Tucci with our dear friend Dennis Cigler. Dennis is an amazing artist and teacher who has lived in Rome for over forty years. Tennessee Williams gave him his Fiat Spider when he left Rome to return to America. Dennis taught English to Fellini and Bernardo Bertolucchi, among others. We always enjoy our visits with him and Reno fills the table with unique dishes of his own creation.

Biscuit Eater Closes Today

IMG 0099

Source: Watercolor by Leslie Snidal

The Biscuit Eater in Mahone Bay closes today. I rode the bike over and Pamela meet me there. The place was hopping as friends from all over the province came to say goodbye to a community icon. We all had a tea or coffee and one of the famous biscuits and mourned the loss of our favorite gathering place. 

Rumor is there may be hope of a buyer, we cross our fingers and hope. Though we know whatever comes will not be the same, but hopefully different in a good way. Dawn, Alden, Patterson, Deb, Jo, and Robin thank you for so many wonderful memories and good times.

A Few Cruise Photos

[caption id="attachment_5442" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Rotterdam at dock"][/caption][caption id="attachment_5443" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="At sea with our wrap around balcony"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5444" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Writing the Waves Group (Cynthia Whitcomb, our leader in red boa)"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5445" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Pamela in Cork, Ireland"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5447" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Dublin, Ireland street scene"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5448" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Dublin guitarist with home-made electric guitar and amp"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5449" align="alignnone" width="334" caption="Found a pub in Dublin, wonder how?"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5450" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="London and Big Ben"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5451" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Traffic jam on the Thames River in London"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5452" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Found a theatre bookstore and another pub."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5454" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Bayeux, France"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5455" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Bayeux, France museum"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5456" align="alignnone" width="375" caption="Bayeux, France Cathedral"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5457" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Brugge, Belguim, out favorite medieval town"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5458" align="alignnone" width="375" caption="The famous Brugge canals"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5459" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Market Day in Brugge"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5460" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Spires everywhere"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5461" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Canal repose, Brugge."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5462" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Brugge is a historic swan sanctuary."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5464" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="The painted houses of Brugge reminded me of home in Lunenburg."][/caption]

Rotterdam, The Netherlands [caption id="attachment_5466" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Rotterdam a city of diminishing canals"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5467" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Our patio H2otel room beside the canal"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5468" align="alignnone" width="375" caption="Boats seem to outnumber cars in Rotterdam"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5469" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Rotterdam, a modern city rebuilt after WWII"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5470" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Modern suspension bridge in Rotterdam"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5471" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Canal side cafes in old town Rotterdam"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5472" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="Captain Pamela at the wheel in Rotterdam"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_5473" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="A few of the classic sail boats and barges"][/caption]

Creative Screenwriting Expo

Ocober 7-10, 2010 Our fourth year at CS Expo. It's a whirlwind every year, but I'll summarize a few highlights.

Shane Black makes his way through the room, escorted by two police officers and ... Lloyd!

Our dear friend, Den, asked Lloyd to be Shane's handler while Den juggled his keynote speaker agenda.

If you don't know Shane by name, you already know his work: "Lethal Weapon", "The Last Boy Scout", "The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang", among others. In the mid-90s Shane gained the distinction of being the highest paid screenwriter; he earned $4,000,000 for his "The Long Kiss Goodnight" spec script. He's also known for his potty mouth.

Regardless, Shane is a given on our agenda. Not only is he a Hollywood success, he's a funny, sincere, passionate, and likable guy. Shane and Den the moderator:

John August wrote "Go", "Charlie's Angels" (2000 & 2003), "Big Fish", "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", "Corpse Bride", "The Nines" and more. John also created and runs one of the best ever blogs for screenwriters. John and Den:

Gary Whitta and Den:

Gary is best known for writing the script for "The Book of Eli", "A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind".

We attended educational sessions hosted by screenwriting "experts" including producers, managers, story/script consultants, and screenwriters with produced credits. Our favourites: Erik Bork ("Band of Brothers"), Linda Heys, Bill Lundy, Michael Hauge, and Bill Marsilii (another record breaker: co-wrote "Deja Vu" with "Pirates of the Caribbean" scribe Terry Rossio, which sold for $5,000,000).

As always, we spend just as much time socializing and catching up with fellow writers from L.A. and from around the globe.

Best screenwriting event of the year, anywhere.


A Whale of a Time

Aug 14, 2010 Pleasant Bay, Cape Breton, NS

After the captain fiddled us a tune we were on our way and on the lookout in Pleasant Bay:

We spotted a pod of pilot whales, my favourite. Google images here.

The whales were shy and mostly kept their distance.

Once in a while they surprised us with a closer look.

Two popped up beside the boat and swam right under us then disappeared.

Captain Jay heads back to the harbour.

Pleasant Bay is one of the best whale watching spots in Nova Scotia.


Fortress of Louisbourg

August 12, 2010 Lousibourg, Cape Breton, NS

Louisbourg RV Park on the waterfront:

From the wharves we can see the Fortress of Louisbourg looming over the sea.

Louisbourg is the largest reconstructed 18th-century French fortified town in North America.

The French came to Louisbourg in 1713 after loss of territory to the English in Newfoundland and Acadia (Nova Scotia) in the War of the Spanish Succession. Louisbourg soon became France's most important stronghold and seaport in the Atlantic on account of trade and the thriving fishing industry.

In addition to arms and imported goods, livestock and gardens were integral to the community's health and survival.

By 1760 the English ruled and the fortifications lay in ruin. The reconstruction and reenactments are based on life as it was in 1744.

Red Coat and Blue Coat interpreters march, pipe, drum and fire off a cannon.

Lloyd buys bread the size, and half the weight, of a cannonball. And about the equivalent in flavour.

Jay's workout for the day: cannonball presses.

The crier reads aloud from a scroll which states that the guy in white stole a bottle of wine. The French officers will parade him through the streets, drumming all the way, then fasten him to a pole with an iron collar where he will serve his time: 2 hours a day for several days. In fact, he served five minutes before the interpreters ignored the unsympathetic crowd and let him go.

Jay writes his name with a quill pen next to the recently freed thief.

Since we couldn't elect Eric for public punishment we ordered him into the lime kiln for a time out. ;)

Back at the campsites, the boys strum it up. It's difficult to see, but Jay and Eric each trade a hand to play: Jay's left hand plays Eric's fretboard and vice versa (their right hands strum their own guitars).

In the evening we attended a ceilidh next door at the Louisbourg Playhouse featuring Jason Kempt, Beverly MacLean, Erin Martell, Lyndon MacKenzie, and Troy Young. Celtic music is expected and oatcakes hoped for, but this ceilidh included a box drum called a cajón and comedic costumed sketches too.

In the morning we had time to enjoy the sun and cereal by the sea.


Up the Canal

August 11-12, 2010 St. Peter's, Cape Breton, NS

Battery Provincial Park

After Deb and I drove around in circles, we chose a seascape and a site large enough for both busses.

All five of us took a morning walk to St. Peter's Canal, just outside the campground, and arrived in time to see the canal in action.

The bridge our busses crossed to turn into Battery Provincial Park is high enough for small vessels, like Reel Happy from Antigonish, NS.

The bridge swings open ...

... to accommodate the biggies. A park employee mans the controls on top of the bridge.

Three boats arrived close together. They're corralled behind a lock until everyone's ready to go.

Her sailboat secured by bow and aft lines, a sailor from Donegal chats with Jay.

Aphrodite from the BVIs waits her turn:

The final lock opens.

Everyone's free.

The 800 metre canal links Bras d'Or Lake to the Atlantic Ocean. St. Peter's Canal is a National Historic Site and the only functioning lock system in Nova Scotia.


Waypoint Halifax

August 10, 2010 Halifax, NS

I hoped we could explore the Canadian School of Lutherie with George Ryzsani, builder of Voyageur, a Six String Nation guitar built from 63 pieces of  Canadian wood "representing many different cultures, communities and characters from all across the country", "including a piece of decking from the Bluenosoe II, a piece of Wayne Gretzky's hockey stick and wood from Pier 21". One of goals for the Six String Nation project is "to tell the story of a country from the roots to the trunk rather than the other way around; and to encourage us to tell that story to ourselves and the world through music".

George ran luthier workshops at the Canadian School of Lutherie, a centre for studying guitar building that specializes in building hand-made, custom guitars. He has made guitars for James Taylor, Keith Richards, Sting, Peter Gabriel and more. However, George is on his last guitar building project for the centre and will retire from his line of guitars. I believe his last is the only with a built in vile of ashes--the ashes of a beloved friend and musician. The upright guitar on the far right:

George put me in touch with Jeremy. Jeremy et al were fine hosts, happy to explain their projects and processes, answer all of our questions, and allow Jay to try out their wares.

Project central:

The Faireses left feeling like they could finally tackle the guitar kit they have back home.

We left the school for waterfront Halifax and found a Buskers Festival we didn't expect. Normally, the waterfront makes for nice strolling grounds peppered with the occasional musician or painter, but festival goers crowded the wharfs.

We watched boats cruise by in the harbour and wandered the wharf for a bit.

We found some local music, but, tired of crowds, we broke away for a seat and a drink ...

at The Old Triangle, one of several great pubs in Halifax.

Jay had another chance to say goodbye to Carmel Mikol; she was just outside on the pub patio.

We had been working up to dinner since morning, when we decided we wanted good Indian food for supper. The private circle room was a perfect fit at Taj Mahal, open just two days following a six-month closure due to fire:

We feasted and waddled away.

Of course, we could spend a week or more in the city, but with just one night's stay we had time for just a few highlights.

We also highly recommend the maritime museum, Neptune Theatre, Paper Chase cafe, The Wooden Monkey restaurant, Opa! restaurant, Maxwell's Plum English pub, Pogue Fado pub, Split Crow pub, The Economy Shoe Shop cafe/bar and any live music you can find.


Peggy's Cove

August 9, 2010 One of the most photographed sites in Canada:

We love watching the waves slam and spray over the cliffs.

There's something on the horizon?

A slew of buoys caught our attention from the edge of the village.

Apparently they make excellent bouncy balls.

Not pictured: Swissair Flight 111 Memorial, a moving and haunting installation.

Back at King Neptune Campground we were pleasantly surprised to learn about the lobster pound within a minute's walk from our sites.

We didn't expect a lobster handstand either, nor a one in a million ...

... blue lobster!

We chose the less talented of the lobsters and ate 'em later with Jim and Nancy who popped over from Prospect.

Ah! Can't forget. Debbie whipped up Brandy Alexanders. Sinfully delicious. It's a 1:1:1 mix:

1 oz  Brandy (good stuff)

1 oz  Creme de Cacao

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Beat it up in the blender and it's win:win:win. :) Yum!


Folk Fest Sunday Finale

Lloyd and I skipped out on the last session of the afternoon for a recharge at The Knot. Keith's ale, caesar salad, potato skins, mussels, and peanut butter pie. That ought'a do it. The boys outside the tent: Scott, Nik, Eric and Lloyd.

Scott made us beautiful rings for my birthday, despite "no gifts" allowed. Yes, we lashed him. ;) Well, I think he got kisses and hugs from me... Anyway, we love our rings; they're carved from wood with gorgeous grains. Just our style. We've looked for rings for a while now and never did we find rings we liked so much as the ones our own friend made for us as a surprise. Thank you, Scott!

All of us seated in the wind tunnel/exit row (note the extra layers, extra blankets and extra tongue sticking out of Scott):

One more time, the Mainstage Evening Concert lineup (I guess I was too cold to take photos):

Carmel Mikol - glad for another performance. We like everything about her musically.

Tom Chapin & The Chapin Sisters - a family with local ties. Tom is a Grammy-award winner, but is probably best known as Harry Chapin's brother. He often sings Harry's "Cat's in the Cradle" in tribute.

Maria Dunn from Edmonton sang a haunting song called "We Were Good People" about a 1932 Hunger March in Edmonton where peaceful protesters were met by police wielding clubs and running even women and children off to scatter the march. View the lyrics and learn more here. Maria has a clear and commanding singing voice and award-winning songwriting talents.

Artisan - a zany a cappella trio from England.

Suzie Vinnick & Rick Fines. Suzie and songwriting partner Dan Kershaw won the International Songwriting Competition - Blues Category this year. She's said to have a "crystalline voice", even a voice "spun of gold". We like it, however you describe it.

Matt Andersen won this year's International Blues Challenge in Memphis. He makes a fitting finale, especially when joined by a variety of the festival's top performers.

As always, the festival evening ends with the singing of Nova Scotia Song.

Our dear friend, Deb, stops by for a post-festival visit and a photo opp with Jay. We miss you already, Deb!

Another Folk Harbour Festival done, another reservation at the Blockhouse Hill Campground (Lunenburg Board of Trade Campground) for next August. If you want to join us, please make your reservations soon!


Folk Fest Sunday: Jay Faires Edition

August 8, 2010 Lunenburg, NS

This one's all about Jay. :)

Surrounded by Grass Mountain Hobos.

I don't know if you can see the smiles on their faces, but they're lovin' Jay!

Huge grins all around for Jay's second performance:

A little bit closer now (look at them jam!):

I wasn't the only one taking photos. The lady in red is a journalist for PEI's (home of the Hobos) major newspaper.

Red Molly, Ken Whitelely and Ben Whiteley, The Grass Mountain Hobos, and the centre of attention: Jay Faires! Whoohoo! :D

Jay, just part of the gang.

These are just a few of the 250-300 pairs of feet standing and hands clapping for a true musical talent.

Not one, but three standing ovations for Jay! And some hollerin' and hootin'.


But it's not over.

Jay and the Hobos are ushered outside for photos.

Jay's a natural.

PEI journalist requests some fun pose with Jay front and centre:

Just the first of many photo shoots, we presume.

One more chat before the Hobos leave for home.

The topper: a new fan tracks Jay down to buy a CD. Jay wasn't selling CDs, but we think the man insisted. He wanted to be the first to buy Jay's first CD, but someone beat him to it. Still, he can say he's the second to buy Hunstville City Limit.

Jay didn't stop there. Remember, there's an After Hours Party every night of the festival. After his first "in" he was in. He was welcome and he was having a great time. We're sure jamming with some of Canada's best folk, blues and roots musicians and singer songwriters was the highlight of Jay's Nova Scotia trip and we were honoured and thrilled to witness it, and we're hoping for a repeat. What do you think, Jay?


P.S. - Jay, we miss your (live) music and your smiling happy ways. We had sooo much fun with you! Great memories. And now we wish you the best of luck at your new school. See you at camp!

No Rest on Folk Fest Sunday

August 8, 2010 Lunenburg, NS

Folk Harbour Festival Sunday begins with a rocking Gospel Concert on the Main Stage.

Here's Ken Whiteley et al with Red Molly:

Sunday's featured musicians, including Jay! You can just see Jay's jeans and black jacket (far left).

Though we were a movin' and a shakin' and a singin', we were chillier inside than those outside of the tent in the sun. We chose to sit in the "wind tunnel", the exit row, every night because it had more room, open flaps to outside and, uh hum, fresh air. We were pretty chilly at night.

Matt and his Mom sing a lovely gospel song together.

By noon things are back to normal and everyone makes for the various venues to catch final performances.

We catch the Capo Connection at the beautiful St. John's Anglican Church with Suzie Vinnick, Matt Andersen, Rick Fines and Kat Danser:

Then I zip back to the wharf for more of Connie Kaldor in the whipping wind ...

... and race back to the church for the Bountiful Bluegrass session featuring ... Jay!

Here's a sneak peek, but I'm posting other pics in a separate post. Check it out: all eyes on Jay.

Stay tuned!


Folk Harbour Fest: Friday

August 6, 2010 Lunenburg, NS

Decision making. Who to see?

We started with a "Preserving Foklore" workshop, another worthwhile edutainment event.

Next decision: easy. Cape Breton-based Carmel Mikol, whom we met at 30A Songwriters Festival in Seaside, Florida, and larger than life Matt Andersen, a festival favourite, at the Opera House.

The wharf is one of my favourite music venues, especially on a beautiful weather day.

First up: soulful, bluesy, Canadian roots music legend Ken Whiteley and band, including Ken's son Ben on upright bass.

Matt Anderson again. We just follow him around sometimes.

A sailboat settled in at the wharf during a song. Hard to beat the flow of music and sail together on a gorgeous day in Lunenburg.

Evening concerts take place on the Main Stage in the big white tent just a few paces from the campground. Friday's lineup: A Celebration of Traditional Music with folklorist-singer-songwriter Clary Droft and Jeff Davis et al, Red Molly's bluegrass and gospel harmonies, Shane Philip and his one-man band didgeridoos and drums, the return of the very funny and super-talented Mennonite family of folkies House of Doc, and also very funny David Francey. Folk Harbour is often blessed with a heavy dose of humour which keeps us laughing, even moreso on the night's CBC broadcaster Shelagh Rogers hosts the main stage, even when she's so hot she's "growing mushrooms in (her) shorts".

The most exciting event of the day happened after hours at the After Hours Party. A special, dear friend (Thank you again, D! xox) gifted us with two passes to the musician's and volunteer's party on the waterfront. Lloyd and I attended before and can tell you it's a blast. Not only can you expect phenomenal non-stop jam sessions, but free beer, great eats and fast friends too.

Friday, though, was Jay's opportunity to get in on the action. We assure you he made an admirable impression on other musicians and various festival coordinators and volunteers. Luckily, Jay (a.k.a. had a few copies of his CD on hand to share. Check Jay out (recorded in the Faires's Prevost):


That was the first of three After Hours Parties. Photos to come!


Pre-Fest Events

August 5, 2010 Lunenburg, NS

(Dupe photos)

Not to be missed: the Lunenburg Farmers Market every Thursday.

Front and centre: my lobster béchamel crêpe (WOW!) and Laughing Whale coffee. Jay and Lloyd munched blueberry-stuffed waffles:

Moving on to the cookies:

An abundance of local and organic produce to choose from:

Art too. We left with a long cherry wood tray built by our friend Jamie. It sits on our table, for my stray papers and such, and I love it. Beauty and function.

Not pictured: This year, the 25th year of Folk Harbour Festival, included a Traditional Music Conference in addition to the usual schedule of workshops and performances. A panel of musicians discussed local music history, song writing and research involved with preserving traditional music and demonstrated a variety of music like Mi'kmaq drumming, maritime sea shanties, gaelic songs and reels, sea-inspired storytellers, etc. A bagpiper and his stepdancing daughter closed out the day. Did you know you don't blow into all bagpipes? Instead of inflating the bag with breath, a player inflates uilleann pipes via a bellow pumped under the right arm. A fun and informative event that may become a permanent event in the festival lineup.

Joined by Jim and Nancy and Doug just in time for a little jam before the evening concerts:

Spoiled by fresh local scallops and dear friends:

Thursday's concert lineup: Bill Plaskett & Friends, Acadian musicians Gadelle, local banjo-songwriter fave Old Man Luedecke (looking younger than last we saw him), The Grass Mountain Hobos (Jay's favourite) from PEI, the amazing harmonies of The Good Lovelies, and The Barra MacNeils from Cape Breton.


Happy Birthday Pamela

Monday, August 2, 2010 - Lunenburg, NS

We celebrated Pamela's birthday with an all day party at the buses. We invited all our friends to come for noon to whenever and they did. John Carroll from Kingsburg was the first to arrive at the decorated buses.

Music was needed and Nik came and played with Jay and Eric.

Friends came and went throughout the day and into the evening.

WE enjoyed good music, good conversations, drinks, snacks, and cake. Debbie and Pamela gave tours of the buses and the party ended just before midnight. Happy Birthday Pamela. -L


July 29, 2010 Lunenburg, NS

Glimpses, presented by AllsWell Productions, is back for a third season at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Glimpses offers a great introduction to Lunenburg, or a refresher, on the local history and characters in a script, song and slides format. It's one of the better edutainment performances we've seen, and one of the funniest. Good times!

"All the songs are original from the pens of Hank Middleton, Vince Morash, Sherry Dean, Dave Brumwell, and (our friend) Jon Allen. Admission has been by donation with a portion of the proceeds going to local historical societies."

Jay didn't waste any time finding a jam session. Hank Middleton, the feature musician for the night's performance, jams with Jay while some of the cast grooves along in the background after the show.


Five Islands Fun

July 26, 2010 Five Islands, NS

Bacci ball

Yes, Jay is holding Eric stable. No, Eric is not drunk; he's measuring the distance between the "Pig", the small white ball, and the green and red balls to see who wins the point.

Check out that form.

Debbie and I were too curious about the clam harvesters to stay on dry land. We chose our target, the clammer with the cart. In hindsight, it was probably the worst choice, but because our route was plagued with squishy, slip-prone mud we laughed and laughed until we doubled over. And Debbie didn't spill one drop.

Jay finally showed us the way. Take the streams.

We made it.

A clam harvester clams from April to October. They look for air holes and use a short pitchfork to excavate the clam from it's mud pit. This clammer steams the mussels for 15 minutes with ocean water or salted water then cuts off the "foot" filter to eliminate all/most of the grit.

Debbie and I did our own digging, with less finesse, but similar results. The clams will squirt and scooch deeper into the dense clay if you don't catch them in time.

Obviously not a clam, but worth a pic.

Munchies by the sea at the end of the day:


Sweethearts in Haverhill, FL

April 30, 2010 Even though our European trip came to end, we had more to look forward to when we arrived back in the States.

We had a lovely visit with Wil and Antoinette Hartsuiker in Haverhill, Florida, our fellow POGgers. The weather was great and the company even better. We also enjoyed their splendid home, a sanctuary of sorts, and the bus barn too; it was the first time the barn hosted two busses and we all liked the look! :)

Our gracious hosts took us for a beautiful drive around the area and some great beer before we had to say goodbye too soon. We look forward to catching up with our Sweethearts (Hartsuiker translated) again soon!


Navigator of the Seas

April 10, 2010 A 14-night, Transatlantic cruise to Europe, a working cruise with plenty of play time, an experience of a lifetime that we hope to repeat next year... We want to share our experience with you and hope you enjoy the posts.

We left a grey day at Ports of Miami ...

... for the big open blue. Here's the view from stateroom 7274:

Nine "at sea" days. If you think that might be boring ... the ocean is vast and ever-changing. It amazes me. It's hard to realize how big it really is until it's all you see for seven straight days and again for two days more. Amazing...

We had a calm sea the entire time and just enough beam sea to gently rock us to sleep at night.

Inside stateroom 7274:

And outside. My half of the balcony. ;) I loooved the balcony.

Sixteen writers spent most waking hours in the Boardroom on Level 2, just above the waterline.

Every "at sea" day went like this:

9am-Noon - Writing workshop with Cynthia Whitcomb


1:00-5:00    -  Write on own (no talking), technically 2-5pm, but we needed every spare minute

5:05-5:20    -  Scramble to get ready for dinner

5:30-7:30    -  Lovely, amusing, inspiring dinners with our group and a little shop talk

7:30-8:00    -  Dress down, cram, grab a tea

8:00-10:00  - Writing salon: readings, critiques, problem solving

10:00-           -  Cocktails at the Champagne Bar, sometimes a brainstorm/problem solving session

?                      -  Fall into bed and lose another hour to the time zone monster


We made it to the gym the first five mornings, but after losing an hour at night, seven (AGH!) times, we cared less about gaining elsewhere. Our room attendant, Al, a giant in size and energy who was always, "As cool as a piña colada," or "As cool as the ocean breeze," said, "You're going to need a vacation after your vacation."

Pictured (L to R): Lloyd, Beryl, Richard, Joan, Joanie, Penny, and Jackie.

***NEWSFLASH*** I met Lloyd seven years ago and this was the first time I saw him wear a necktie. Doesn't he look dapper in his tie? I better send a pic to our Moms ...

One of three formal nights at Swan Lake Dining Room:

Pictured (L to R): Billy, Lorraine, Maryka, Molly, Chris, Cynthia, Jessie, Bernadette and Lloyd #2.

We were on our own for lunches and enjoyed the gourmet salad bar at Nutcracker restaurant, otherwise we preferred the speed of Windjammer, a huge buffet open for every meal. I especially enjoyed the ethnic dishes. Overall, the food was very good, the desserts were good enough to double up on after dinner, and the coffee was strong enough to fuel a Prevost.

We had little time to explore the ship, but here are a couple views:

The casino:

We have a lot more to share with you. Stay tuned!



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Friends in Warm Places

March 3, 2010 We wish we had a photo of our friends, Ed and Sandy, who we met almost two years ago at a POG rally and here and there at other POG rallies since. Actually, we do have a pic. It's from Port St. Lucie (February). Sandy's playing the mandolin and Ed's playing the upright bass:

Ed's awesome classic truck is our souvenir pic. We caught up with Ed and Sandy after Ed showed us around one of his projects, a 65' WWII mine cable tender boat he's restoring. It's a tough boat with a fascinating history.

Thank you Ed and Sandy for a lovely visit. We look forward to more soon. Maybe Maine?

It's always a pleasure to make a quick connection with someone you've never met. We met Bill at Green Parrot, a local's favourite hangout, and the bar we frequented for a lot of outstanding live music. The more we chatted with Bill, the more we found we had in common, from our preferred music to books, and travels, and even how we met our spouses. Then, we kept running into him and his charming wife, Kathy, at Studios of Key West events.

So, we thought a lunch was in order, at least. We noshed at The Shrimp Shack, a great little eatery right on the waterfront: old sails for awnings, picnic tables, a shrimp boat anchor butting the pier.

Bill gifted us with a copy of his Key West Graffiti book, which is a vast collection of quips and quotes from all over Key West, even from bathroom stalls. It's an entertaining book full of both funny and thought-provoking maxims. Also, they invited us to their 25th wedding anniversary party and we had a truly wonderful time with them and their good-humored friends. Bill and Kathy know how to throw a party! Thanks, you two, for everything! :)

Shrimp Shack/Fishbusterz seafood offerings to go:

We were doubly fortunate in that we met Ernie and Pat in the campground. Ernie and Pat's 1991 Prevost (same vintage as ours) initially drew us in. They're POG members too. Before we knew it, we talked quite some time away so we schedule a play date. ;)

Pat and Ernie took us to the fabulous El Sibone, an authentic cuban restaurant.

We shared a whole day, a nice drive through the parts of Key West I had never seen, a stop at the Waterfront Market for iced coffee and gourmet goodies, and an old cemetery. If you know me, you know I love old cemeteries (photos to come). We carried the conversation well into the evening and it went by so fast! We really hope we can meet you again at the Maine rally, you two. Thanks for the super time!

We never feel more fortunate than when we can share our travel experience with the characters we meet along the way.