You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

18

Okay, I can’t make the stupid score box work. click the number. See how you fare.

Imaginary Jodi alerted me to this internet sensation. It’s sweeping the nation! It’s like the hula hoop, only you don’t actually have to stand up. Or move at all, really, other than your fingers. And if you have good voice software, you don’t even have to do that.

So, first you go to Wikipedia’s random page, like so:

Gimme Random! that will bring up a page. The title on that page is your band’s name.

then, to the random quotations page! The last four words of the last quote is your album title

To get your album cover, you go here , and the third photo is your cover.

And then you get busy with your photo editor to amuse your friends and astound your enemies:

Photos! At last! I had all this written, then the whole thing crashed and I couldn’t find a draft and I was wailing and gnashing my teeth and I stormed off. Today, it came back! yay! So here it is:

If you’re on dial-up, just give up your day, ’cause here come the photos…

Maggie really wanted to go too. She thought that hunting lizards would be awesome. And maybe they’d have pudding, too!*

well over the weight limit

*for those who did not hear the tale…Because of a sale, I had six boxes of pudding mix in the basement on the shelf for excess food. Because I don’t always read well before I click “add to cart” I had about 11 boxes of ice cream cones on that shelf as well. Steve went down one night to get a bag of Trader Joe’s hot mustard won ton chips. The bag turned out to be totally empty, with a wee mousie hole in it. That’s when he noticed that ALL of the pudding and ALL of the ice cream cone boxes were also empty. We realized that the reason why the cats never catch the mice is that the mice are giving the cats pudding. in ice cream cones.

On the way from NJ to NY, we stopped at the Liberty Science Center to kill a couple of hours. From the balcony, you can see the Statue of Liberty, which impressed Lily quite a bit. In person, it seems much closer; in the picture, it looks like we were standing in Indiana.

thanks Frenchies!

There were cool interactive exhibits, including one in which you could generate a headline with a photograph to put up on a big board for all to see. This was mine:

lol

Oh for the love of Pete (Best, not Sampras), why is she not showing us any photos of the damned island?! Oh, all right. Here is the view from our hotel room balcony:

pot o gold

Why yes, that IS a rainbow over the Carribean Sea. On our first day. Those Arubans know how to treat a guest. The lazy river and pool was right below us:

totally fake

The majesty of the hotel iguanas. This one might be Octavius. Or, it might not.

Iguana rampant

I think this is Sheldon.

or, maybe not

This was how we spent the bulk of our time:

laaazy

There aren’t any photos of me in the river, so imagine me in a big ring like Steve, but with my feet propped in Lily’s little ring, eyes closed, bumping into everyone and not caring even a little. This is before I got in the pool and snagged it:

gimme dat

After the just-cooler-than-a-bath temps of the pool, the Sea seemed chilly. In fact, it was really warm:

brrr, it's barely 80!

But Ben still wouldn’t go in, so he isn’t in the family shot.

just take the pic, jeez

Did I mention before that Steve is not quite 4 ft tall? No? Well, there you go. He seems taller b/c of his shoes.

The hotel property goes down to the water, so there are lots of little umbrella tables and chairs with awnings. This photo was from one of the disposables the kids had. Disposable Cameras, the Official Last Known Photo Cameras.

grainy

(this is where the original post fell apart. So now is the actual Sunday post.)

Aruba in general was deserty-er than I thought it would be. The landscape isn’t very colorful, but everything else is. Even, as stated in an earlier post, the shopping carts. How flippin’ cute are these?

It makes the homeless more cheerful

The houses were really bright. My house is a boring old white colonial compared to the houses there:

cute!

where are the people?

That was a fairly representative shot of the roads off of the main drag through Oranjestadt. Deserted and brightly colored with an air of decay. It seemed that if you wanted a house or a business, you just build a new one. There’d be bright shiny new right next to abandoned and derelict. I’m sure we could have asked, but I wasn’t sure these guys would give us the best info:

My only regret is that I wasn’t able to go poke around a cemetery. They all had locked gates, but look how lovely they are:

bright colors and such. And all above ground, of course. I’ve lost Ben as a gravestone buddy. He just doesn’t want to poke around the dead any more. Sigh.

There an ancient volcano in the middle of everything, and that looks pretty odd:

The kids thought about working up some anxiety about it, but luckily that passed. “Look at it. Does it look as if lava has flowed there recently? And by ‘recently’ I mean ‘within the last million years.'”

The Butterfly Farm was a favorite. The kids nearly used up their disposables there. And, of course, once I developed them, I found I had about 80 photos of blurry green foilage with the occasional arm, finger, or –if the aim was true–wing in them. Here are a few of my favorites from MY camera:

lucky!

That’s a male and a female of…something. This one of the little cabinets they have for the butterflies and moths to hatch in. When they find one on a plant out in the “farm,” they carefully move them to the cabinet. They’re just a little creepy looking.

reminds me of

here’s a scarlet swallowtail that just hatched out!

We kept remarking on how butterflies, at fluttering distance, are pretty pretty! like flowers that fly! and up close they’re BUGS! GAH! I have many more photos, but I’ll spare you. For now. All bets are off if you visit.

We went to the “flea market” right where the cruise ships let off. Quality stuff. Lily checks out the lizard that will soon be hers, while Ben stands limply and complains of the heat.

“Mommy look! It has an iguana!”

hey look, Dora and Garfield are vacationing together! Seriously, copyright violation never gets old to me. It’s my favorite part of any carnival–ill-drawn cartoon characters airbrushed on the rides.

Now photos of our mediocre dinner on the beach! Look, there was a rack for our shoes:

Seriously, we were ON the water:

This was our view. It’s a house you can rent. No electricity or running water, but who cares?

And the sun set right there, much better table-side entertainment than the sax player that later showed up:

This was a couple of houses up from the restaurant. That’s the Aruban flag in his hand, so I guess it’s the guy that fought for them to have their own constitution. But damn, people, that’s some patriotism.

Abandoned playgrounds are never not creepy.

Couple of cool photos from Baby Beach, where we went snorkling:

I’m going to skip over submarine pics b/c they’re all…blue. Not very good. Once I mess with the video, I’ll see if there’s anything worth sharing. So on to Natural Bridge!

So, the Natural Bridge collapsed in 2005. It used to look like this:

Now it looks like this:

doh!

Not nearly as majestic, is it? Well, there’s a smaller version forming a few yards to the left. It looks like this:

here are the grandparents with Ben and Lily on it, to give you some scale:

As I mentioned in a previous post, there were all these stones atop other stones. Here are Ben and Lily with one WE made. Because we are horrible followers who come to the islands of others and mess up their rocks:

Ben was so happy climbing rocks. In the car, later, he sighed and said “I’m just so happy.” Which, if you know Ben, is rather a big deal. By nightfall, he was mad about something and declaring it The Worst Day Ever, but for a while, it was nice.

what time is it?

It was a wild and wooly coastline. I guess it’s coral? Really rough and porous:

Wild donkeys! They never moved, except to wiggle an ear or tail. I told the kids that they were actually animatronic. Which they believed. I sometimes forget not to lie to them.

A quick stop at the Bushiribushi Gold Smelter ruins for more rock climbing…

Last night on the island. sigh.

The girls enjoyed the sand one last time:

And Ben enjoyed his hair.

This is the sight that greeted us at the airport. Thats our plane, btw.

This collection box was at our gate. They were all over the island:

When I have the time, I’m going to add the word “terrifying” after the “are.”

There you have it. A quick picture tour. Come visit for more. and now, back to your regularly scheduled winter.

I thought I asked you people to do something about the weather. It appears to be winter here. The icky, no snow kind. Sigh. I’m in NJ, we’ll go home to Frederick tonight. Then the photo onslaught will begin. Our hair liked Aruba. I had thick waves, Ben looked like Shirley Temple. Now, my hair is stick straight and wispy. All this and frozen grass! I prefer frozen drinks, to be frank. And iguanas.

The flight was mostly okay. When we arrived at the airport in Aruba, there was thick black smoke billowing up from what looked to be a runway. Almost never a good sign. Apparently, it was a trash burn. I’m thinking a different location might be the way to go, just for traveler contentment. We had to go into a holding pattern over JFK and it was…turbulent. I was not well. I didn’t have to grab the airsick bag, but I was certainly thinking about it. All the while the kids were going “Whee!” I’d try to focus on something still, and I’d see the Fasten Seatbelts sign, all wiggly and jolty just like it is in the movies just before the plane goes down. Whee indeed.

But we’re here, safe and sound. The first blast of cold air felt good, bracing. The second one just felt cold. I stood on the airtrain from the terminal where we landed to the one where we were to catch the shuttle, looking at the people. Everyone was in black, no bright colors anywhere (but on us–Ben in red, Julianna in turquoise, Lily in teal, me in salmon. Steve was in black. joiner.) nothing but black and grey. We need some technicolor, stat. Andi, can we borrow Hazel’s sleeper?

I got three mosquito bites. I’m done. We’d gone the whole 6 days bug free, so I think they’re running me out of here. Fine. We have to check out by 10 am and be at the airport by 1 (THREE hours before the flight. ugh.). I’m doing our laundry and gathering all the bits of coral and other caribbean detritus.

Today, while I slept too long and had weird-ass dreams, Steve and the kids went out to catch the “Iguana Interaction.” We’d figured the hotel iguana wrangler would herd up a couple and give a talk about them. Steve asked at the desk “Where is the iguana interaction?”

“oh, out there somewhere between the two hotels. They move, you know.”

“And when will it be?”

“sometime between 10 and 11.”

So, “out there somewhere at some point.” Caribbean.

After lunch, Grandpa, Grandma, ben, Lily, and I headed out to the Natural bridge. The famous one collapsed in 2005, but a new one is forming right next to it. It really was a beautiful area, on the ocean side of the island–wild and rough. On the way in, we noticed that everywhere there were little stones piled on top of larger ones. Sometimes only a few high, sometimes several feet high. It was odd, like druids or aliens had been through. We asked at the gift shop. The woman told us, a bit testily, that apparently the tour guides tell people to stack a stone and make a wish. “It’s not OUR custom. We don’t come to YOUR country and mess things up.” oKAY. Just askin’, mon. I prefer the druid story anyway.

Leaving the bridge, we stopped and climbed around in the ruin of a gold smelting factory. It looked like a medieval ruin, but apparently was used until the early 1930s. Anyway, fun to climb on the rocks.

Dinner was back to Bugaloe, where we ate two nights ago. And now back. sigh. It’s COLD back there. I know, I\m the one that likescold, but tropical breezes…they are nice.

Eep! Only one more full day. I bum. Today was submarine day–it was cool. We went down to 150 feet (so they said, truthfully, it could just be a big aquarium 20 feet deep, how would we know?) and saw a shipwreck and lots of fish. Many of our favorites from snorkling (you’re right, Nell, it’s such a great word), including my beloved parrotfish, which Lily kept calling The Rainbow Fish (a hateful book if ever there was one). We saw divers holding an octopus. I learned that I do not want to spend much time in a submarine.

Home, reading, pool, dinner. We had a Thai place to ourselves. The owner (8 foot tall Dutch guy from Curacao) made the pandan ice cream from pandan he grows himself. It wa tasty. but best of all, all three kids discovered they love Pad Thai, so we can go to Thai food now and again. but not for a long time. because we are leaving all of our money here.

As they say in Les Miz, One day more!

A few things I’ve forgotten:

Andi, Hit cookies are lovely, but a mere substitute for the real deal–the Prinzenrolle. It’s the same deal, but better. And I just got some, b/c I’m in the Netherlands, apparently. (And what a great name for a country–the Netherlands. There be dragons!)

In the gift shop, I leafed through an Aruba cookbook. I’ve always found that a cool thing to bring back, but desert climates tend to be a bit critter-heavy in their native cuisine. No exception, this one. “Iguana Stew” ingredients list starts with “one iguana, medium sized.”

We walked along the beach one night and Lily was following a set of paw prints (frankly we’d pay to pet a kitty at this point. We’re so animal-love starved, Julianna and I tried to pat the fishies). Lily said “How far do you think these paw prints go?” And Steve said, “All the way to the dog, I imagine.” He has waited so long for a nice set-up like that.

If a native of Aruba went to maryland, would he think he was in a black and white movie? There is so much color here. The landscape is drab–desert, you know–but the house exteriors are colors most people wouldn’t even wear, let alone put on a house. It’s delightful. Step up, Americans, No White Houses!

First, two things (to go with the two days worth of posting)–one, seeing my house on my header, with snow in the gable creases (real architecture term) and no leaves on the trees…it is bumming me out a bit. Earlier, I was reading some P.G.Wodehouse, a love I share with Mr. Jerry and I was thinking that when I got back home and saw him at the pool, I’d see if he’d read this one too. But I will not see him at the pool, for the pool deck is covered in snow. Two–I’m typing this one on my father-in-laws grown-up sized laptop and I’m much happier. Having the weeny keyboard slowed me down enough to think and lord knows THAT doesn’t help my writing any.

So, I didn’t post last night out of a dread of the third world PC. I’ll fill you in now b/c I know you are nearly frantic at having had to wait so long. Yesterday, we decided to hit the “flea market.” Turns out it was not so much a flea market as a row of stalls selling identical crap about 200 yards from the cruise ship port. So it’s guaranteed to be quality merchandise at discount prices, right? Well, the prices weren’t horrid but the stuff was pretty ratty. Once I get home and get the photos on the ol’ Mac, I’ll have to treat you to a picture of my youngest child holding a hash pipe. Don’t panic, it was the one with the iguana on it, not the one with the supernaturally endowed Rastafarian headin’ for his lady friend’s waiting back door. The sun was insanely hot, the breeze was blocked by the buildings, Grandma was shopping, Lily didn’t feel well, the menfo’k had gone for a walk, I couldn’t find a wrap made of anything but rayon, and while I could get a backpack with both Dora and Garfield on it, I couldn’t seem to get one with both Minnie Mouse and Popeye. Disappointing. I did score a chess set which pits the Incas against the Conquistadors. Which is pretty awesome, you have to admit. Doesn’t really say “Dutch Caribbean colony” though.

Everything else does, though. I find it odd to see everyone here at the Marriott compound wearing Aruba shirts and Aruba hats and Aruba skirts/shorts carrying Aruba bags…It’s, I don’t know, it seems kind of like pinning your phone number to a toddler in case he gets lost in the train station. The urge is strong to say, “Hey, where’d you get that shirt?” But they’d just point me to the gift shop in the lobby, I imagine. Or the Flea Market. I guess my idea of a souvenir is something OF the place I’d been, a product of the island, in this instance. But I’ve really not seen anything like that. Aloe is a big product, but I don’t think burn cream is what I’m thinking of. Today we picked up a bunch of shells and some sand. White sand of Aruba to go with my black sand of Tenerife. And pictures, lots of those. Brace yourselves.

ANYway, as I was saying before I wandered off on one of my superior rants (really people, enjoy your T-shirts. If it makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, it’s okay by me. Just know that I will mock you), it was wretchedly hot and Lily was sick, so we headed back to the hotel. We thought about heading out to see what was once the Natural Bridge and is now the natural almost-bridge, but Steve fell asleep, I was reading my book, Lily was resting (which is to say, watching TV) , and Ben and Julianna were similarly unmotivated. We managed to drag ourselves down to the pool around 3. At 4, I left them with the Grands to go get ready for dinner.

Dinner! We had a reservation at a restaurant on the beach. Our table was right at the water’s edge. A boat came through, making a wake, and all the sand washed out from under us and tipped our table. Crabs came up and checked up out. It was quite a view. And the sun set right over the water…gorgeous. The food? Well, the view was very nice. The Dutch influence was strong and there seemed to be a cheese or cream sauce on everything, competing with the flavors of the food. Our waitress was an insanely cute Dutch girl we named Heineke. She had dimples and a fabulous body and a sweet waitressing gig on a Caribbean island. She is happy here. Go figure. We hung out until it was dark and the saxophone player showed up. Live music is so often my key to leave. In addition to having had a little rack on which we could hang our shoes, they had a wee footwashing station as we left. Little things please me. The food was shit, but there were washcloths for my feet! I give it a 10!

Back home, a night of indigestion and the (quick, squeamish guys look at the sidebar for a minute!) surprise arrival of my period. As always, I was caught unawares and unprepared. Grr. Oh, and did I mention that I didn’t pack underwear for myself? I didn’t. I have one pair that I wash every night. So thank goodness I had THIS on top of it.

Today, today was snorkling day. We have a new favorite thing. People can there be a better activity than just floating, still in the Carribean while tropical fish swim up to you? If we could have found a way to eat or drink beer at the same time it would have been HEAVEN. None of us had snorkled before and oh man, we are hooked. FISH! Now, they weren’t quite tropical coral reef quality, but they were a far cry from those brown minnows that bite our toes in the lake. There were big tangs that were silver with electric blue outlines, little purple and yellow fish, fish that look like that peanut butter log candy,and these great big fish with huge clearly outlined scales like they’d been drawn by a five year old. And they were just THERE. Right by my face. It was like swimming in an aquarium. My very, very favorite thing was when a school of little silver fish swarmed around me and I was just surrounded by them and they stretched off into the distance. Really magical. Loved it. And did I mention I just had to hang there? Ben and Julianna took to it like the children of lazy people that they are. Lily was utterly unconvinced that fish were worth a wet face and had no part of it.

Back at the hotel, the in-laws went out to dinner and Steve and I took the kids to a bar/sandwich place on a pier over the water. The food was okay, the view and the breeze were incredible. Just that perfect tropical breeze. And Lily danced. She twirled around in her flowing sundress and sang to herself. Steve said, “Will this ever get old?” And I said no, but I now think that it probably would be kind of sad if she was doing that at like, 35.

And now we’re sending them off to bed and I’m realizing that this was our only day without the pool. Hmpf. Tomorrow morning we have our rescheduled submarine. We might go to the park after that. Or we might just hang out here until it’s time to go. Back to the snow-covered pool deck.

So today was supposed to start with a submarine ride. We got up bright and early, got a cab because we can’t fit all three kids in the rental, and arrived at our dock. but alas, the a/c was broken on the sub so they cancelled the ride. we’re rescheduled for Friday. The assembled New Yorkers were bitterly complaining. but we are cheerful folk from the mid-Atlantic region, so we just went on our way.

We decided to visit the Butterfly farm instead, but after lunch . To have said lunch, however, we needed to go to the grocery. Howard and I headed out. I’m always uncomfortable when it’s he and I…well, not uncomfortable, but just really aware that I look like I’m his second wife. And given my age, onlookers must wonder if I’m not about to get thrown over for a new model. I don’t want their pity, damn them. Steve just called me a “second-place trophy wife.” Thanks, man.

Totally worth it, though, because we went to this great little Dutch grocery with cheerful bright carts and food with many vowels and oddly placed consonants. My German helped some, in that I could read the ingredients list and try to guess what that combination might taste like. It led me to the positive find of “coconut bread” which is candy, but it also led me to buy “hard foam” which was not tasty and freaked my mouth out a little. The staff in the store was largely Dutch, which just seems weird. but oh, how I love a foreign grocery store.

The butterfly farm was lovely. Smaller than I thought it would be, but just charming. Our guide, marco, seemed to really like working around butterflies. It would have been such a bummer to get a spiel from someone that is just sick of these damned bugs. They aren’t native, but are from all over the world. Pictures, once I get them on a computer.

I made dinner in, since grandpa went out with his first wife tonight. I’ve promised the kids we’d go on the lazy river after dark…

Sorry these posts are kind of dull diary entries, but this keyboard block my brain. I’ll try using Howard’s tomorrow.

Nice lazy day today, we hung around in the morning while the menfo’k went to buy some groceries. It’s a Dutch island, which means good cheese and mediocre beer. Around 10:30, we went down to the pool and floated around the lazy river for a couple of hours. Julianna took it upon herself to name all the iguanas. Sheldon, Octavius, and Emerald were very relieved to have names at last. You could just tell. In addition to the iguanas, there are these cool little guys that are grey-green with electric blue polka dots and/or stripes. Lizards everywhere, which is making us all happy.

We headed down to the beach for another hour or so, swimming in the Caribbean. Which, you know, cool. The back to the pool for 90 min or so. Then I napped while Grandpa took the kids to see a shipwreck. Then dinner at a really uninteresting Chinese restaurant. It looked very fancy, but was, as Steve put it, a “Long Island Chinese restaurant.” It’s just never a good sign when they put out the wonton strips and ducksauce at the beginning.

It stood to reason that it would be reminicient of LI b/c everyone here is from New York. Steve has dubbed the island “Mooks and Kikos.” Our hotel skews pretty old, too, so I get to see lots of walnut brown old dudes in Speedos. Often wearing baseball hats and smoking cigars. It’s a good look. One that pairs nicely with the well-coiffed matrons in visors and gold jewelry setting off their gilded bathing suits.

but even I can’t pull off cranky here, so you know it must be lovely. Tomorrow: submarine!

a

Stalked!
January 2008
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