Hello Stranger ….

So I’ve been lax. Going through the daily motions. Covid fatigue? Possibly. Personal rut? Also likely. And then whammo! A hastily planned vacation hits me like a thunder bolt and I’m firing on all cylinders. Who knew being retired and living life needed a jump start?? Who knew vacations in retirement are just as rejuvenating as they were during the working years?? It’s a new realization. And it’s great!

Retirement, after all, is going through your daily routine except without working. Not working is awesome; don’t get me wrong. But if you’re not careful it can be mundane and treadmill-ish. The mundane can creep up on you and suddenly you take stock and realize you’re bored of the same old. I think the covid trance is also at play wiping out live entertainment and dining options. Pointless mandates that, in addition to not working (to wit here we are 2+ years later …), are slowly killing people and their livelihoods. You want to support local business, but it’s getting old already. My heart literally breaks when I think of entrepreneurs who have had the rug pulled out viciously from beneath them. And silently thanking kismet for our lucky timing in retirement. We’d be broke and out of business for sure. Divine intervention saved our assets. No doubt about it.

But I think the tide is finally turning. People have been manipulated too far. And the push back has started to show cracks in the (to now) mostly compliant herd. Funny how the herd actually missed the herd part in the immunity factor and embraced the nanny government mandates. All the while letting our most vulnerable languish. Alone and afraid and sad. Totally unacceptable and yet we stood by.

So we went on a cruise. Just got back today. Five days of sunshine and pampering service. We loved every minute of it. But our decision to cruise at this time, not to mention our decision to winter in Florida during covid (omg …. the cases!!) was met with raised eyebrows and question marks. Be safe. Ya whatever. In order to cruise we needed a covid test prior to boarding. Rules. Safety first. Armed with our tests, vax info and masks, we board the ship. Everyone vaccinated had to wear a wristband so that they could enjoy the “V” areas on board. Yes. There was segregation. Appalling. The ship which normally held about 5000 passengers and 2000 crew, was sailing with full crew but only 1800 guests. Lucky us! It was very VIP. But the weirdness of all crew wearing not 1 but 2 masks with big indications that it was N-95. They also wore buttons with their photo under a caption reading “my smile under the mask”. There were hand sanitizer stations everywhere (not that they help … most nasty viruses fall into the .1 percent not covered by the “kills 99.9% of germs” … just ask Rudy – he got the noro virus on a ship once). It’s all optics as I’ve noticed. And still the cruise lines were under the microscope for being covid super spreaders. Hogwash.

The vacation, in spite of the reminders that things were far from normal, was rejuvenating. A complete break from the day to day routine. The cruise offered an app so you could plan your on board and on shore activities. I eagerly scoped out the possibilities and filled my calendar with exciting and interesting options. Not one of them materialized. LOL. I was delighted just to be. No yoga. Or pickleball. Or bourbon tasting. Or Pilates. It was vacation bliss! Our first beer on board was a lovely refreshment that tasted so good!

Because of the low passenger count, we got a great deal on a jr suite. First time ever for us and we have cruised a lot! The suite was on the 10th deck of 14. A huge ship. The room was 50% bigger than usual and included a walk-in closet and bigger balcony. The extra space was great and the seating area included a couch and a chaise. Very roomy and comfortable. I don’t think I will rush back to a regular cabin ever again.

For cruisers, you are all too familiar with the onboard safety seminar. They assemble everyone at a muster station and review the safety protocols including how to fasten a life jacket. However! Covid requires that social distancing is a must (except for when you’re fighting for position in the sales at the shops!!) so the safety procedures are done by video on the app; you watch the videos and it says “complete”. Even if you really didn’t watch I suspect. Clever, no?? It also meant that hoards of guests didn’t bunch up at time to get off the ship. After breakfast, return to your stateroom and wait for your group to be announced. Sure. Ok. We ignored the announcement. We got off the ship at 8 am and were in our car driving off at 8:20 am. Some of the extreme efficiencies developed in the name of covid are actually awesome. You wonder how many other efficiencies have been established … like working from home. How ingenious!

For 5 days we lounged and read and ate and, after dinner, enjoyed some of the shows. In particular there was a skating production (yes, the ship had a rink) that was quite remarkable. The headliner stage shows were also good. If you had a wristband on you could sit in the main theatre; if not you had to sit in the balcony. You could not attend the ice show. Crazy. We talked about how ridiculous that was and how it mirrored the themes in our Pam Jenoff books (if you haven’t read her novels I highly recommend!!). Non vaccinated people are second class; very disturbing to say the least. I’ve voiced my concern and disapproval to our local MPP. I’m sure he rolls his eyes. Especially since he’s leaving politics after his term (he’s had a few scandal type issues over the years) but not without his juicy pension! Who cares about rights and freedoms?!

The food, as usual, was amazing on board. Adding to the pleasure of taste is the service and the ability to walk away without clean up or dishes!! bliss!! Our waiter was from India and we were his last voyage before a 2 month break. He was going home to India and would be married. He seemed so young and so happy to perform his duties. I hope he has a safe trip. He was flying from Orlando to NYC. Then on to Doha and Mumbai and finally to Goa. I could tell he was excited and looking forward to seeing his family and his girlfriend. His name is Sykes and I wish him well.

I brought two books along. And I quickly plowed through them necessitating a trip to the library on board. I entered through the ornate wooden door on level 3 and entered the library/computer centre. It was deserted. The book shelves were bare except for three books: a Clive Cussler (no thanks … I’m not a fan of Dirk Pitt- Rudy and I jokingly call him Dirk Diggler), a book on card games (no thanks) and finally a Catherine Cookson novel which I chose. It was the most of the least appealing. As it turned out “The Parsons Daughter” was a good story that reminded me of Downton Abbey. A late 18th century British country manor; I couldn’t put it down. I must say, the Brits know how to ramp up the sultry bits!!

Before we left to head to the port, Rudy collected our mail. My dad mailed a birthday card and asked every time we spoke if I’d received it. The card was not in the box, but my book order from Barnes and Noble was there! My friend Marilyn is my book/reading guru; her recommendations are always bang on! She started me on the Seven Sisters historical fiction novels. I read the first one. Then I had to order the next 6!! Rudy suggested I bring a couple along on the trip but I felt I had enough book weight in my bag. As usual, he was right. Don’t tell him. Now that we are home I’m ready to dig in to the next installation!!

On that note, I’m signing off. With every intention of not letting my creative writing outlet either again for so long.

Thank you for watching Molly, Blair. We missed her but you afforded us peace of mind. 🐶💕

Final word: live life. Love life. Fuck covid. 💗

First beer on board.
Big space and big closet
Hello Nassau
Great balcony
Paradise Island
Afternoon cocktail 🍹
At sea

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