Thursday, 19 January 2012

Time for Toronto

As I prepare to return to the land of my birth later today, I have been spending some time ruminating over my most recent sojourn to The Southern Home. Contained below are some basic thoughts.

Things I WILL NOT miss about South Florida

  • The increasingly aggravating chihuahua across the hall. Deathtraps have begun to invade my dreams and I am concerned that I might act upon these primal emotions.
  • The slamming of doors in the halls of the condo.
  • The ridiculousness of people who dress their dogs in tutus, feed them from restaurant tables, and push them around in infant strollers. Oh my God!! They're dogs!
  • Publix on Hallandale Beach Boulevard! A gang fight just waiting to happen-walkers vs wheelchairs!
  • The Hollywood Circle. A piece of roadway designed by a sadistic bastard who obviously bases projects with visions of hell on earth dancing in his head!
  • The tragic-comedy that is the Republican primary process and the myriad of ads and robocalls accompanying it. We all know that Romney will be the last out of the clown car, so just get on with it and leave us all with some degree of peace.
  • My defective and rather noisy washing machine that seems to be planning an escape route all its own.
  • The f*#% you attitude that is so pervasive amongst so many down here-whether they be on the roads, in a store, in a restaurant, or at the beach. I understand the principles of individual liberty upon which this country was founded, but when your liberties trample upon mine I think that there is a problem. No, it isn't ok to make a left-hand turn from the right-hand lane directly in front of me. No, it isn't ok to cut in line to avoid the twelve people behind you and then swear like a sailor when called out on your behaviour. No, it isn't ok to honk your horn at the old woman with a walker who couldn't navigate the crossing in the time provided. No, it isn't ok to skunk somebody else's parking spot. No, it isn't ok to walk directly in front of me at the store and stand there figuring out what you want without any regard to my continued presence. Some civility training and basic manners reminders would go a long way.

But, all of that aside.....I have come to understand that this stuff is a small price to pay for.....

Things that I WILL miss about South Florida

  • The world existing in true colour, rather than the many shades of grey so apparent at home during the winter months.
  • The warm temperatures and soft breezes, rather than the mercury dipping lower than a high school boy's pants and winds that chill from the inside out.
  • Spending time with my parents.
  • The simplicity I have attached to life down here.
  • Reading. I read voraciously down here.
  • On Demand television. I have to say as a Bell TV customer, we miss that at home.
  • Internet shopping. Canada is still playing a huge catch-up game with the US on internet commerce. It is easy, inexpensive, and really fast down here.
  • The dolphins and manatees that have been visiting with increasing regularity. They constantly remind me of my love for animals, my love for the oceans, (even though given my seasick history, I probably shouldn't be travelling on them) and that when I watch these glorious creatures I feel heaven and earth touch.
  • My lack of socks and shoes.
  • My lack of a coat. 
I look forward to seeing my Canadian friends soon and I look forward to my timely return to my Southern Home.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


OY!! What a day I've had. You be the judge. Dayenu! (On Passover we say Dayenu!-It would have been enough. Trust me. Today? It would have been enough!)

Had I only had a decent night's sleep? Dayenu!

Had I only woken refreshed and not cranky? Dayenu!

Had I only been able to sit in the sun today reading and not fallen asleep in my chair? Dayenu!

Had falling asleep in my chair not caused a sunburned face? Dayenu!

Had my sunburned face not caused a more than painful experience in the shower? Dayenu!

Had my less than satisfying shower and cranky behaviour not caused me to drop body lotion all over my bathmat? Dayenu!

Had the unclean bathmat been easily cleaned? Dayenu!

Had I not needed to throw said bathmat into my faulty washing machine? Dayenu!

Had I not absent-mindedly closed the laundry room door after starting the machine? Dayenu!

Had my bathmat been properly centred in the machine and the machine not decided to go for a walk? Dayenu!

Had the walking washing machine not blocked the closed laundry room from the inside? Dayenu!

Had the other door on the outside of the laundry room opened and not been painted shut? Dayenu!

Had the hinges on the laundry room door been on the outside as opposed to the inside? Dayenu!

Had the washing machine been empty rather than filled with water making the machine twice as heavy to attempt to move? Dayenu!

Had this event/catastrophe happened before 5:00 pm so that the engineering people in the building were still here working? Dayenu!

Had any of the people I brought in to attempt said move had an arm reach longer than a strand of linguine? Dayenu!

Had I been born with an easy going nature rather than type A so that the idea of a blocked laundry room door with a wet bathmat held within didn't drive me to distraction as we headed out to dinner? Dayenu!

Had our dinner companions reached us to inform of their illness before we drove all the way up to Lauderdale? Dayenu!

Had I been able to ignore the situation upon my return? Dayenu!

Had I thought enough to call my 6'5" neighbour with the point guard reach 3 hours earlier so that he could reach around the door, turn off the machine, empty the water, and finally move the f*@#ing tin box away from the door so that I could finally access the room and retrieve the smelly wet bathmat? Dayenu!

Lessons learned from this experience? I need a new washer and dryer. I need a locksmith to open the other door from the laundry room. Never close the laundry room door while the old appliances are still here and when in doubt--SIZE DOES MATTER!!!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Coming to An End

It must be said that cruises are much more fun when the ship isn't pitching around from side to side like a treadmill on steroids. All of us felt much more comfortable yesterday and were finally able to enjoy our meals and evening nightlife without the threat of another sleepless night on the good ship nausea. 

The day in Grand Turk was spectacular. I love this island! All I did was lie on the stunning beach, swim in the ocean and marvel at the coral reef. As I said on Facebook, Grand Turk is the definition of wasting away in Margaritaville! I was still experiencing the not so gentle sway of the ship, so partaking in any activity more taxing was definitely out of the question, but several of our group took to the blue waters off the coast to snorkel and play with the stingrays. Highlights? I loved listening to the youngest of our group describe in vivid detail holding, touching, and swimming with the rays. You haven't lived until you have experienced new things through the wondrous eyes of a nine year old. I loved the fact that Oldest Son went snorkeling with his grandparents. My seventy-something parents swimming and seeking out the coral reef with their 24 year old grandson. Seriously, how cool is that? The Ying to my Lil Bro's Yang collected on Sister/Cousin's win at the spa yesterday and had a full pedicure treatment. It was her idea of absolute luxury. 

Following dinner the family met in one of the bars for another round of trivia, but with a twist. The category of Motown turned the entire area into a dance hall. Watching a bunch of Jews bop to the sounds of the Motor City was a hoot. Brother/Cousin's Beshert is a demon at these music categories and she and Brother/Cousin tore up the floor. My dad found a willing dance partner. A woman came over and asked my mom if she could dance with dad. Being the good sport that he is, he boogied her around the floor to the sounds of the  4 Tops and The Temptations. Pictures to follow as this is something that could only happen to  my father. 

Today we are at sea and tomorrow back on solid ground for good. Older Son and Nephew A will be collecting on the free gourmet dinner in the steakhouse   this evening, and we will all be attempting a group photo. God give me strength for that little adventure. Next stop-The Southern Home and the task of uploading my photos. What a fitting way to help celebrate 50 years of marriage-with family!!

Friday, 6 January 2012

Some More Highlights

Sorry I haven't published for a few days, but the seas have been a bit rocky and regular readers of this space know that I don't do well with motion. I haven't let it dampen my spirits, though and as we near the final days of this familial voyage, I thought it best to update the goings on of this wild and wacky clan.

Since last we met in Nassau, the ship has docked in two additional ports, La Romana Dominican Republic and San Juan Puerto Rico. While many of us checked out a small artisan village called Altos de Chacons in the D.R, The Lil Bro and his family and Sister/Cousin and her's went cave dwelling. There are some beautiful caverns in the area and the two families went to see what all the fuss was about. Truth be told, all my dad wanted to do in the Dominican was find the homes of Blue Jay greats George "kiss my purple butt" Bell and his all-time favourite Tony Fernandez. When told that they live on the other side of the country in San Pedro de Macoris, the look of disappointment on his face was so sad I almost wanted to call them myself to get them to meet the ship! Brother/Cousin took his family to the beach to see if he could actually find the gills on our youngest family member. 

This family is killer at trivia. So far we have won 4-count them 4-gold-painted ships on sticks and a gold medal. Pictures of the winning teams to follow. Yesterday following sail-a-way from San Juan, we added three more trophies to our collection. We definitely watch way too much TV, movies, Broadway musicals, and listen to our iPods all to often. I think that the poor blond crew in charge of the program is slightly tired of our Canadian faces and accents. We have entered the big on board contest. Keep you posted. 

We have also been extremely lucky. Sister/Cousin won a hundred dollar gift certificate in the spa which the Ying to my Lil Bro's yang is using today on a pedicure. Older Son attended an open bar reception last evening ( no surprise there!) and won a bottle of champagne and a free dinner at the exclusive fancy steakhouse. When asked what he did for a living and replying  in turn that he worked for a craft distiller, apparently the "not friends of Bill W." erupted in cheers.

San Juan was beautiful. The old city with it's blue cobblestones and fortress walls is a sight. Several of our group went to Barrachino's, home of the PiƱa Colada and indulged. Sister/Cousin and her adventurers went zip lining. I think that I heard her screams on Calle Fortaleza. Seriously, they had a ball. 

Today is my beach day in Grand Turk with The Husband, Younger Son, his Young Lady and Other Mother and Father, while many are snorkeling the coral reefs. So far we haven't killed each other and while I have lost weight on this cruise due to the rough seas, nobody is complaining. Speak from sea tomorrow.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Highlights Day 1

Trying to get 23 people to share their first day highlights is a bit like herding cats. Attempting to get the 23 members of my family to share their first day highlights is a bit like herding noisy, clumsy, drooling wild boar! In the interest of sanity and since I can only share what I gathered through the morass and haze of secondhand storytelling, I will try to hit the highlights.

Younger Son, HisYoung Lady and I had an up close and personal encounter with my now favorite dolphin of all time, Clifton. I think Clifton and I could make a wonderfully cute couple, but I would either have to enjoy life in the cold waters of the oceans off the coast of Nassau, or else he would have to be content living in my bathtub. Then of course there is the issue of what we would do with The Husband, but something tells me that Clifton is man enough to take him on! In all seriousness it was a magic moment that will live within me forever. Because of limited interweb access onboard ship, the photos of me with my new honey will have to wait a week. 
Sister/Cousin and her brood went parasailing and her Photographer has the pictures to prove it! Spectacular!! He is available for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. Book now! I have come to wonder about the Judaic credentials of that family. Every last one of them cries out for action and adventure that is very un-Jewish. We are a nomadic people, not a rock-climbing, bungee-jumping tribe! We hire people to do that stuff for us. That said, hearing the stories of her squealing in terror while perched on a board with her 16 year old son, had me gripped with laughter. I can't wait to hear if she passes out on the zip line in San Juan!
My Dad, Older Son, Brother Cousin, my nephew and I absolutely kicked ass at the sports trivia contest after we set sail from Nassau. Our all Canuck team blew away the Yankee competition at their own sports history with nary a single hockey question. We knew we had it in the bag when we correctly answered the question "What is the most common nickname amongst U.S college sports teams?" I will leave you to ponder that one. Answer will be provided at the end of the next post. Our prize? A gold ship on a stick which we plan to parade around like the Stanley Cup and each keep on our mantle for an equal period of time. Once again, photos to follow!!
Thank you to my friend the Choir Director who took it upon herself to fete us last evening with wine and totally blew the boxers off of my parents with special anniversary cakes. The waiters came over and sang-at least they claimed it was singing-and my mother turned all shades of red. My father drank up the attention as his nature, and the kids devoured the cakes. You are the queen, my friend!
Today we are trying to keep our ballast at sea, me more than most. So far so good. Calm seas and beautiful weather at present and ahead. Keep you all posted.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Mother of All Family Vacations

Six months ago when The Husband, The Little Bro, The Ying to his Yang and Yours Truly were faced with my parents approaching 50th wedding anniversary, we were truly stumped on a method of celebration. The folks had made it pretty clear that a big shindig was out of the question, (actually they were so outwardly forceful in their dissent that I feared for my very safety) and that whatever plans we made had to take place in The Southern Home because they had absolutely no intentions of returning to Toronto in December! When I suggested a family cruise I was met with an extremely tepid response. School schedules would never mesh, I was told. Fun in the sun is not everybody's idea of a vacation. Nevertheless I was charged with investigating and, with immense help from my dear friend The Choir Director,(she only moonlights as a travel agent!) we found a cruise that would allow all to travel at the same time with minimal school absences. It was time to ask Mom and Dad how they felt about it.

Mom: Other Parents too?

Me: Absolutely!!

Mom: Sister/Cousin and her family and Brother/Cousin and his?

Me: As long as the are willing they are welcome!

Before I had even hung up the phone, Sister/Cousin called and said that she and her brood were in. I still maintain that she was listening in on a party line! It took some doing but by the end of October, 23 of us were booked. Yesterday, we arrived at the port-wearing matching t-shirts to thoroughly embarrass my parents-and checked in for a week long stay aboard The Carnival Freedom. It is impossible for 23 Jews to agree on what colour the sky is let alone on what constitutes fun, but we will manage! We have two large tables in the dining room and believe it or not, we are not the noisiest nor are we the most obnoxious in spite of my father's constant efforts to the contrary. So far there is something for everybody. 

What has  been truly amazing to me is the constant ebb and flow of conversations. The kids have become rather spread out lately due  to university commitments, and some haven't been in the same city for over 2 years. Watching them all interact and reconnect has been my favorite part of this experience so far. It really doesn't matter if the food is great or if the shows are cheesy, what really matters is that we are all together celebrating for Mom and Dad! 

I will attempt to update a few times throughout the trip. In the meantime, pray for us that we survive the "family experience of a lifetime!!"