Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


Leave a comment

Where Have I Been?

Where have I been for the last 12 or so days?

I have been to Alaska.

I took a cruise with a friend to the state of Alaska on the Celebrity Millennium. I’ve never been on a cruise before so it was all new to me.

I don’t need to tell you the saga of the passport, I have already done so in great detail. And really, everything else went just fine.

I got to Love Field in Dallas in plenty of time. I have the TSA known traveler number so I got through security in record time. I had a 737 from Dallas to Seattle, but the plane to Vancouver was another story! I had to walk out onto the tarmac to climb stairs into a turbo-prop that held maybe 100 people! She made so much noise you really couldn’t talk to the other people on board. I wasn’t sure she was gonna make it!

This is the airplane from Seattle to Vancouver. That’s the pilot in the orange vest.

Met my friend at Vancouver airport and took a shuttle to the Hilton. I paid for the room with points I had so it was essentially free.

Boarded the boat no problem. Stateroom was pretty small but big enough. We had 2 beds. My friend, K, took the window bed and I got the one close to the bathroom. I still had a view out the porthole.

Buffet 3 meals a day. I ate a LOT of sweets. I had desert with lunch and dinner, and often a waffle with breakfast. I miss sugar, lol. I did eat some interesting food though. We had tapas at Qsine which is apparently an international chain. The sushi lollipops were amazing. There was lobster and ceviche and steak. K got decorate-your-own mix and match cupcakes for desert. I had beignets. I also tried reindeer sausage and a yak burger. Reindeer must be a very lean meat because the sausage was on the dry side. Yak is sweeter than beef but I really enjoyed it.

The cities where we stopped were more like towns. Ketchikan. Icy Strait Point at Hoonah. Juneau. Skagway. Even Anchorage is not that big of a city, only around 300,000 people. Of course we mostly saw the tourist part of town. The buildings looked like Bearskin Neck in Rockport. There were jewelry stores all over. I tried on some amazing pieces that I would never be able to afford. I liked the colorful jewelry. I liked the Northern Lights topaz, and the ammolite which reminded me of opals. I like opals too but I wouldn’t buy them in Alaska because it’s not where they’re from. I found a gorgeous colored sapphire bracelet that I wish I could afford. I wonder, though, how do they know it’s a sapphire if it’s not blue? Isn’t a white sapphire essentially a diamond? Isn’t a red one a ruby? I guess I don’t know that much about gemstones.

What I would have liked to see, would be more First Nations art. I don’t have the budget for that either, to be honest. I would like to go back with $200 to $500 for a piece or 2 of art. I did buy some blank cards with art on them that I will be sending out to people.

We saw a Tlingit village and learned about totem poles. Apparently there are several reasons you might create a totem pole: place markers, commemorate an event, stuff you’d expect. But you might also make one to shame someone. So the Secretary of State who purchased Alaska was named Seward. The local people invited him to a potlach – a community meal – which he attended. Their rules of hospitality say that if you are invited to someone’s house, they are supposed to invite you to theirs. Seward never returned the invitation so a totem pole was made to shame him for not following the expected protocol.

I stood in the water of the Icy Strait. My feet were tired and the cold water felt good. But also, I have stood in the Atlantic and in the Pacific. Now I have stood in Alaska’s waters. Next is the Gulf of Mexico, probably at Galveston. Water is important to me. I don’t know why. I have lived landlocked for 25 years now but I am still more at home on the ocean.

My feet in Icy Strait. You can see the dirt on my legs between my ankles and my jeans.

We went on a nature hike that like to kill me. I don’t know why I didn’t think that Alaska would be mountainous! The other people who went were obvious hikers on a regular basis. I did however find out how to distinguish female bear scat from male. Females apparently squat in one place to do their business so it resembles a cow pie. Males walk while they poop so it is spread over a wider area. I think it’s a territory marking thing, but what do I know? Even with jeans and boots, I got yellow Alaska dirt on my legs.

We did see eagles, lots of them. And a really huge raven. He must have stood a solid 18″ tall and he was bold! He stole french fries from people’s plates at a local restaurant. I also saw a marmot sunning itself, salmon jumping from the ocean where sea lions were catching them, and a mama and baby whale named Flame and Bunsen. Very cool. I also found out there are 5 types of salmon, which you can remember using your fingers: thumb = chum, index = sockeye (this is the finger you would use to poke someone in the eye), middle = king (this is the longest finger and therefore the king of the hand), ring = silver aka coho (put a silver ring on it), and pinkie = pink.

We went to the Anchorage Museum which was interesting. There was an exhibit called Death in the Ice: The Mystery of the Franklin Expedition. It was an expedition looking for the Northwest Passage which went missing. Apparently cannibalism was involved. Really, the ships would get ice bound and simply be crushed. We also had a look at First Nations artifacts. There are something like 10 tribes with a common language root, though like in the lower 48, their cultures varied. Again, I would have liked a little more art, but natural science is important. I bought some notecards at the museum shop.

It was a very good trip and I hope to travel more.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Short Time

There is just a short time until I leave. I’m ready to get ready, but until the unemployment money hits, I’m at an impasse. I need the money for things like flip flops and deodorant. I just need a few things before the trip.

I spoke to my travelling buddy yesterday. She is also excited. She’s looking forward to the food, she says, because cruises always have great food. I’m just looking forward to real, fresh seafood. Which there should be plenty of on an Alaska cruise.

I also need to mail 3 purchases on my Etsy site, and pick up some postcard stamps. My friend wants to read, but I want to send postcards. I’ll do some reading too. I bought The Four Agreements to read during my down times. If I have a chance, I’ll get a couple magazines too.

I need a new backpack, my current one is coming apart at the seams. I really like it, but I’m afraid it won’t last. I don’t know what to bring out of it. My little Alaska notebook for sure, but what about my journal? It’s big and heavy, so maybe not, maybe just a little notebook, like a composition book. But what else? Do I bring a tape runner, a glue stick, watercolors, water color pencils? Probably none of those things, just keep my keepsakes and get to relive the trip putting it together afterwards.

I need to get my sweater out of the car to wash it. I need to think about what shoes to pack. I need a pair of dress shoes for dinners, but I don’t have any. Something else I suppose I could buy if I have time. Or I could buy a pair in Vancouver or Alaska. That would be an interesting souvenir.

I am hoping I can fit everything in my suitcase and still use it as a carry on. So much to bring. So much to do. And I sit here watching Lucifer since it’s only 1000 degrees today and I am overheated. Waiting for the sun to go down and the house to cool off a little.

Dinner in a minute. Then get the sweater then do another load of laundry.

Busy busy.


Leave a comment

Down to the Wire

I went to the passport office today. It was a bit difficult. At least they have planned for walk-ins.

The website said, parking would cost about $6. Not so. Parking was $10 for the first hour up to $22 for the day. I didn’t know how long it would take, and I didn’t have $22 if I needed it. I ended up parking for free at Mockingbird DART station and paying $6 to take the train. I guess I got my steps in but frankly it was deucedly hot for walking 4 blocks.

It’s a federal building so you get scanned going in. At least I didn’t have to take my shoes off. And there was a water fountain, a bubbluh as we say in Yankeeland, which I was so happy to see.

After I got into the passport office itself, I had to sit in a special section of chairs and get instructions. Turns out they want to documents stacked in a certain order. Then I had to fill out the application form again. Already I was glad I brought my birth certificate since I had been told, “All you have to do is bring the passport card.” Then you attach proof of travel itinerary, passport photos, and drivers license.

There were 2 lines, one for appointments and one for walk-ins. Of course appointments get preference, but that’s reasonable. When I got through the line, the lady told me I had filled out the wrong paperwork so I had to do that and go to the end of the line again.

I was number 141. When I sat down, they were on number 118. It ended up being a 3 hour wait. I dozed off several times since I was on short sleep. But I didn’t miss being called, and it went pretty fast. I was surprised at how speedy it was, until the lady told me I would have to come back on Wednesday to pick up the passport.

I have to come back between 1:30 and 3:00 to pick up my passport, and I am leaving on Thursday. Talk about cutting it close!

Done with the passport office, I went to support group then helped my daughter move. Then I came home to vacuum, take out trash, eat dinner and clean up. I wasn’t on my own time schedule for any of that. I wanted to vacuum while my one roommate was out of the house.

“Are you watching this on TV?” I asked the other roommate, “so I can vacuum.”

“It’s just TV,” he said, “We can pause a show if you need to vacuum.”

I didn’t say anything but I thought, “Oh you’re so cute, need to vacuum. There is no known universe where I have a driving need to vacuum. I do it because you ask me to.” And honestly I have never looked at the living room and thought it needed vacuumed. Not that I’m the best judge, but still.

I dumped out the bagless vacuum into the living room trash and it was full and the lint was fluffy so I closed the bag. I was going to wait a few minutes for my back to stop aching but the one roommate brought me the bathroom trash and the cat waste. Clearly I wasn’t going to sit down, I was going to take out the trash.

I did sit down to eat, but afterwards I had to wash my breakfast dishes as well as my dinner dishes. Finally I sat down and I had to call my travelling companion. I am just now settling in for the night. I’ve been on the go for 16 hours. Longer if you consider that I didn’t sleep last night.

Tonight I should sleep well indeed.


Leave a comment

Travel Excitement

It’s less than a week until I leave for Alaska, and I’m starting to get excited. I have so much to do before I leave.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I am having poke bowls with my daughter in honor of her birthday. It’s Hawaiian comfort food, sort of like deconstructed sushi. I know she’ll like it. I also have to request my next unemployment payment.

Monday is passport day. I need to go through my room and find the remaining passport photo, or I need to find an extra $20 and get them done again. In the afternoon is group if I can make it. I’ll already be in Dallas. I have to get up early early early Monday morning. So early I might not sleep Sunday night. I’m supposed to go as a walk-in so I want to be there when they open. Oh, and I need to print my airline schedule so I can prove I need the passport. Probably better print the cruise schedule too.

Tuesday needs to be laundry and shopping day. Shopping of course assumes I will be paid by then by unemployment. I want a book and I need some things like underwear and bug spray. And a new back pack.

Wednesday. Wednesday! I need to pack, I might need to go shopping if I didn’t do it Tuesday, and of all things, the unemployment office wants me to come in and do orientation! At 9:00 in the morning! So far that is 3 days in a row of getting up early, and I am not made for that.

But Thursday is the big day. Thursday I get on the plane and head to Vancouver to get on that cruise ship. I can’t wait. I mean, obviously I can wait because I have to, but boy is it hard! I’m so excited!

Better get started on the things I can do because there are a lot of things to do between then and now. Wish me luck!


4 Comments

Passport Drama

You may know that I am going to Alaska on July 4th. It will be a cruise, and it leaves out of Vancouver. I will be flying from Dallas to Vancouver.

If you didn’t know, Vancouver is in Canada and Dallas in in the US, and therein lies the difficulty. Canada is another country.

In the 70’s when I lived in Canada, you could pretty much cross the border with a driver’s license as proof of residence. I had a passport, but that’s because I was technically an American living abroad. Also I was under driving age.

But 9-11 has happened and border security is tighter so I need an actual government document that proves my citizenship, so I need a passport. I do want to be clear: The problem is not leaving the country, the problem is coming back in. It cracks me up. They don’t care that much if I leave, but gosh darn it, we got to be careful who we let back in.

I contacted the passport office. I mean, I was about 6 weeks out, I needed to be sure of the process. They told me go to the post office. I made an appointment at the post office, got my paperwork together, and 5 weeks out I ordered the passport.

Now in the US, you have a choice: You can get the regular booklet passport or you can get a government ID passport that looks like a driver’s license. Well I”m not attached to getting the stamps, so I opted for the card. I opted wrong.

Today my passport card arrived. I opened the package and took the card off the paper and I happened to notice something in bold print across the bottom of the paper. I looked more closely. “Not valid for air travel“.

Well.

That couldn’t be right. I mean, I am only going to Canada, surely this is a mistake?

So I called in to the helpline. Yup, to fly into Canada, I need the booklet. I sure didn’t see anything about this on the website. And of all the questions I was asked, nobody asked where I was going or how I was getting there, so no person told me there were restrictions.

“What is the card good for, then?” I rather exasperatedly asked the customer service rep.

It’s good for cruises around the Bahamas and ground crossings into Canada and Mexico. That means I could drive to Vancouver, but I can’t fly in. And if you’re just going to the Caribbean on a cruise, you’re fine. But Dallas to Vancouver on a plane? I”m SOL.

The first option is to get off the plane when it stops in Seattle and spend $30 to take a bus. I could do that. I’d only be out a couple of bucks. But since the ticket is booked to Vancouver, there is the possibility they wouldn’t even let me on the plane without the correct documentation. So that’s probably not a good solution.

The other choice is to get the regular passport. In order to do that, I need to file a missing passport form and pay $110 for the booklet plus a $65 fee for expedited service. At least unemployment finally started paying me, I have the money, but it seems exorbitant. Still, I’m in a bind, I’ll just suck it up.

Now I’m less than 2 weeks from leaving, so I qualify to go to the passport office directly. I went to the website and put in Dallas. No appointments available in the next 2 weeks. Okay, let’s try Houston, that’s only a day of hard driving, and I could bring my daughter to see her half-brother. But no, no appointments in Houston either.

I called the help line again. They told me I could go to the passport office as a walk-in. Well cool, I can do that. Only I didn’t think they took walk-ins.

Turns out they do, but you must be within 3 business days of leaving. And I’m glad I said something because they are a little stingy with the information. She didn’t volunteer that there was a time restriction, I had to ask.

So on Monday, I will go down to the passport office. It will be July 1. I am leaving on July 4, which is a holiday, so I am within my 3 days. But man, this feels like cutting it real close.

And yet, this is all first world problems. A day ago I was counting pennies for gas money and couldn’t pay car insurance. This? This is cake. I am worried about a vacation when I have nothing to do between now and then except get ready. I am already on vacation, really, just not on the trip. And it will all work out, it always does.


Leave a comment

Telling the Truth and Dating

I have had the idea of truth come up in my feed several times in the last 3 days.

I like truth. It gives me a firm foundation for basing my life. Lies are slippery and you can’t depend on them. Truth may change with new revelation, but it is always reliable. You can work with it.

I’m thinking of, for example, dynamics in a relationship. The truth of love can keep a relationship together through some pretty rough stuff. And the truth of love dying makes for an even rougher time, pretty often. I don’t know where I”m going with this. But if you communicate along the way, it goes smoother. I’m thinking of Meg Ryan breaking up with Greg Kinnear in You’ve Got Mail, where they realize that even though they check each other’s boxes, they really don’t love each other. And they are relieved! They don’t have to pretend any more. Because they reached truth.

I have had to share some truth with someone today, and it makes me sad. Now I have a LOT of truth to share, I just keep it to myself a lot of the time to make life smoother!

A guy I know asked me out. The big truth, which I didn’t say to him, is that I’m not attracted to him. I don’t know why. He’s not bad looking, he has a job, I’ve known him for a couple years now so I know he’s a good person. He just doesn’t do it for me. But I didn’t tell him that. I felt like that would unnecessarily hurt his feelings.

I did tell him, I am not looking for a boyfriend at this time, which is true. And that I’d be happy to go out as friends, which is also true. I just don’t want to lead anyone on with expectations about kissing or sex when I’m not on the same page.

So I guess I didn’t tell the whole truth, but who knows how I”ll feel in a couple of months? I assume my lack of sex drive is a combination of meds and menopause. Anything could change. I might decide in a couple of months to ask my psychiatrist about the libido issue. Since, you know, I’m thinking I might like to try dating again at some point. Just not yet. Not quite ready yet.

I still feel bad for turning him down. He’s like, someone I *should* be interested in, but I’m just not. And I don’t think he needs to know that. I like him fine, I just don’t like him like that. And I’m not in a place where I feel the need to have a steady boyfriend, or even a friend with benefits. So I have told him this plainly, and if he still wants to be friends, he’ll let me know.


Leave a comment

Small Victories

It’s been a couple of rainy days and I’ve been in the house since I got home Friday. It’s now Sunday.

I don’t have any money so I can’t exactly go places. I did request my first unemployment payment today, but they have me down for receiving checks and that means it can take time for the money to arrive. Then I have to cash the check, and send some of it to the bank.

Yes, Citibank does not have any branch offices in Texas, so I have to mail them my opening deposit. Very frustrating as well as causing delays, but once I get that initial deposit in, I can use direct deposit. As long as I can get it resolved before the second payment. The second request is right before my trip and I’d like to get paid for vacation.

I have had another sale in my Etsy shop, so that’s cool.

I finally managed to take a shower this evening. I should have done it while my roommates were out of the house but I couldn’t pull myself together. This is a small victory, but the bipolar didn’t win today. My hair is washed, my jammies are clean, my legs have been shaved. Not well, but shaved none the less. I am all girly again and I don’t smell.

You know, personal hygiene is such a struggle for me. It’s like, it’s just a pain in the ass and it feels overwhelming. I don’t understand this because once I’m actually in the shower, I am happy to be there. It just seems like getting over the threshold into the tub is nearly impossible. I don’t know why that is.

I had a shower. I took my meds. I ate. I didn’t exercise though, I am bad at doing that. And I’ll go to bed soon, which is a reasonable time for me. I don’t have any obligations until tomorrow afternoon.

Life is full of small victories. I made my own breakfast. I journaled. I made some plans. I taught that vision board class last month, I just need to find something else to teach now. I might see if I can get certified to teach WRAP.

I am hoping to hear that I’ve been accepted for coach / evaluator at work. I know it’s only been a week since I applied for it so it may easily take some time to be approved. But I am an optimist about time.

Of course I am a pessimist about the background check. I’ve been doing the job for a year now, 2 years if you count my time as a local hire. I would hate to lose it at this point because of my credit report. And I’m afraid I will.

Still, I am clean and ready for bed, and that’s a good thing. Sometimes little things are all there is.