Wednesday, October 6, 2010


So Aunt Cracker has been on a vacation at the beach, she's been sending me pictures through email and on my phone. Gorgeous place.....she can open the sliding door from her bedroom and there is the sand...ON THE BEACH....about 100 yards from the ocean....GORGEOUS I TELL YOU.....

She tells me, come down, you can make it happen, just do it. So I do. I scurry around doing lots and lots of laundry, working out details for work coverage. Don't have to stress about Snoopy, plants, or mail because Papa is not coming with me.

I'm going on a vacation and it's so nice because I'm really calm, unlike when I usually am planning on leaving for vacation. Other than all the massive amounts of laundry that I continue to do.

But then........

something happens.......

All of a sudden Cobie Calliat is blaring by my head.


Oh No,,,,,I open my eyes.....

It's 5 a.m.....that's the radio alarm telling me it's time to get up and go to work.


No was a dream? But it was so real. I was going to the beach. It was going to be big fun.

No beach? It was so real.

But it's just Wednesday.......time to get up.

Still stinging from the disappointment......Grammy

Monday, October 4, 2010


I probably shouldn't be getting too cocky but I did it! I spent the night at the country house. Just one night, but it was A NIGHT. My first since the snake sighting.

We got out to the country house after dark Friday, which wasn't my idea but when traveling with Papa, one mustn't get in too big of a hurry.

We then went, with me carrying a flashlight, room to room searching for any evidence of the snake's return. Papa just wanted to overview all the rooms but not I. I pointed out this and that and shone the light for him to look closer--under beds and on top of shelves and in all sorts of hidey holes.

I believe this snake came in along the pipe under the vanity in the back bathroom. When Papa opened the door, it looked like everything had just been swiped over. I had just put the contents back in this cabinet not long ago and know everything was upright and stacked nicely; not anymore though. Convinced me this was the point of entry. There looked to be a small area around the pipe that a boneless being might slither through so we're going to have to come up with something to close this off completely before I'm relaxed. Papa kept assuring me that he thought it was too small but still.....

After a complete search turned up nothing, I placed cedar oil containers (recommended by the Home Depot guy as a snake repellant) under all the bathroom vanities and in the corners of the bathrooms. Then I started strategicly placing mothballs everywhere (recommended by Billy the Exterminator on A&E) inside and then saturating the perimeter of the house on the outside with the mothballs.

Feeling a bit safer, I then turned to cleaning. By midnight the house had been vaccuumed, mopped, wiped, scrubbed, and was sparkling. Only two incidents of coming out of my skin......the first when I was remaking the bed after washing all the sheets and blankets. I heard a loud rattle and a hiss and jumped and screamed waking up Snoopy who was snoozing in her dog bed. It turned out to be my Glade sensor air freshener that I had walked past, hidden behind a picture.

Finally, I was so exhausted that I thought I could sleep, so leaving both bathroom lights on and the tv on in the bedroom, I laid down. I did not sleep deeply by any means and every time I rolled over, I raised my head to take a gander in the bathroom to see if anything was moving there. So far so good.

Then I must have gone in a deeper sleep because it was 8:00 before Snoopy finally resorted to licking the palm of my hand to try to wake me up. Needless to say, this was the second incident of my flying in the air, screaming. Usually she wakes me up easily at 5:30 so not sure what caused this delay---she couldn't wake me up or she decided to sleep in.

Saturday was a routine busy work day out there. We power washed the outside of the house and hauled in all houseplants and then had to pack up to leave as Papa had an early morning Sunday baseball game in the city. Before we left though, I wanted to take a shower and with the thought that snakes can also come up the water lines, I make sure Papa was in the house and within screaming range and I positioned Snoopy right by the tub, where she shook the whole time just knowing she was going to get a bath as well. I then showered very fast, keeping an eye to drain almost the entire time. Next time, I may just plug the sucker just for peace of mind.

But the main thing was I got a night behind me and nothing adverse happened and with time, I may just relax and enjoy my country time once again.

Your Brave Grammy

Monday, September 20, 2010


So three weeks ago me and Papa were at the country house one evening. He was laying on the couch watching tv and I was in the recliner reading or whatever I do when he is watching tv. At one point he kind of jumped up and started fiddling with the cushions on the couch…..always one to blame the evil cigarette, I asked if he dropped an ember or something and was I going to die a fiery death later that night after it had smoldered for hours? No, no he said but wouldn't elaborate and so I tended to go back to ignoring his behavior and HE LAID BACK DOWN……so last week we were out there in my normal nightly routines I get up in the dark in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom and I usually get up in the predawn, DARK hours and let Snoopy out as she wakes up at 5:30 Monday-Monday, just normal nightly behavior for me.

This past weekend I stayed in the city because of obligations and he went down to the country on Saturday night to get the mail and check on things. He spent the night and yesterday we met up at a friend's house for a BBQ party. While we were there, Papa makes a comment "not sure if I should tell you or not but..." He did this in front of others knowing I wouldn't go into full blown hysterics in front of a crowd.

Continuing he says "I found a 4 1/2 foot black snake in the back bathroom this morning when I went in to take a shower." Silence... He explained also that a few weeks ago when he jumped up from the couch and I had questioned what he was doing that he had seen a snakeskin by his foot. So he checked under the cushions for snake and seeing nothing laid back down to continue his tv viewing and contemplating whether to share this information with me or not. FOR THE NEXT THREE WEEKS. Continued silence but about this time I'm feeling physically sick.

Going back to Sunday's story. No, he didn't kill it, he caught it and took it outside and left it on the side of the road……STILL ALIVE where it's probably found it's way right back in my house, probably under the covers in the bed waiting for me as I type this…..No I don't think I can ever go back there…..

And being the empathic sort he is, Papa just keeps saying………"the black snake is your friend"….

I beg to differ. I consulted the internet this morning about said "black" snake.....if it's indeed that and not an "old cottonmouth---that IS posionious, who turns dark, almost black as it ages". It is non-poisionous but has excellent climbing ability (i.e., all the better for climbing into bed with me! When startled, they may freeze and wrinkle themselves into a series of kinks. If they feel further threatened, they may flee quickly or vibrate their tails in dead leaves (a form of mimicry, to make it sound like a rattlesnake). JUST WHAT I NEED TO HEAR NOW. They are also capable of producing a foul smelling musk which they will release onto a predator if picked up. PERFECT. The female lays about 12 to 20 eggs after five weeks and they hatch about 65 to 70 days later. SWEET, he couldn't tell if this was a male or female snake but it was an "adult" and so now there is the possibilty of 20 more of these in my house! These snakes eat anything they can catch that will fit down their throats, and are highly defensive. This does not mean they will chase you, it means if you corner them they will defend themselves, if you get between them and where they want to hide, they will run right under your feet to get to their hiding spot (making people think they're being chased). Once cornered black snakes put up a vigorous fight, biting hard and often.

Needless to say I had vivid nightmares last night (before I did the above research)and I believe I'll be consuming lots of wine just to sleep this week at the CITY HOUSE where we NEVER SEE SNAKES!

Extremely Distressed GRAMMY

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Son

My son has lived in Phoenix for about 7 years now...maybe...I've lost count. At least that long and from his house to mine is approximately 1508 miles....almost 22 hours by car and approximately 4 hours by plane. Definitely a long way but my worry for him and about him is constant. A mother never stops worrying.

He left for Phoenix when he was about 18 years old. Such a baby going off on such an adventure but it's something he had to do for himself. My first trip to Phoenix astounded me. How did this young boy drive down the mountain into this town and find his way around? Get himself to work every day or find his homes? Everything was so foreign to me and him as well or what he had known or done thus far during his life.

He came to see us in May of this year and visited the cemetary where his father is buried as he does on every visit home. I looked through the pictures his girlfriend took and noticed these two pictures next to each other.

I put them in a double frame on my desk at work and look at them quite often during the day. It is a good mantra for my son.

He has made a good life for himself. He has a very good job as a heavy equipment operator that he trained for for many years. He has a wide circle of very close friends, many acquaintances, and has a wonderful girlfriend with three small children that he's grown close to. But still I worry.

He is 25 years old now. This week he started a new work project in Yuma which is about 185 miles from Phoenix. He will drive there every Monday morning, work 4 11 hours days and then 8 hours on Friday and drive home to Phoenix---for approximately the next two years. A hard job; a hard life but he's young, I keep reminding myself.

He left for Yuma at 7:30 on Wednesday night (my time). I made him call me. He did. He's a good son. He arrived about 10:30 (my time) that night. I had asked that he text me that he was there safely. He did. So I got a good night's sleep on Wednesday knowing everyone I loved was safe.

He said it's a long, desolate drive from Phoenix to Yuma. There is nothing there. Thank God for cell phones, I thought. What would he do if his truck broke down out there in desert? Call for a tow truck, he answers. A simple answer but he has had learned lots and lots from this life he lives in the desert so far away from his family and his childhood.

But he's happy.

But still I will worry, every Friday afternoon and every Monday morning knowing he's on that deserted stretch of highway driving by himself. Until I get his safe calls....for at least the next two years.

Arizona is lucky to have him.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Writing

I've been meaning to write a blog entry but regardless of the fact that I keep a notebook where I jot ideas to write about, I just don't know what to say alot of the time.

I have always had numerous book ideas slam into me at odd hours, usually in the early morning, sleepless times. I can make outlines in my head laying out an entire novel and even including that elusive first sentence that I've always struggled with on college papers. But getting started in the daylight hours is really hard.

I tend to keep notes and have notebooks of this and that--daily journal, little journals for both the P's documenting their growing up, reading journal, blog ideas, book ideas but seem to do more collecting of things I want to write about than actually doing the writing. Why is that?

Is it that I have SOOOO much in my head that I'm overwhelmed? I feel like that somehow. I'm so backlogged with the notes and ideas that I'm collecting that I never can catch up with what I need to say. How to get organized? How to start?

I'll be working on these questions now and making more plans but doing the actual writing.....? Who knows.

Stay tuned.

Grammy, overwhelmed with words and thoughts.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Cruise Wrap-up----FINALLY!!

So our last day of cruising was a Sea Day and a most uncomfortable Sea Day for me. Remember I was getting sunburned before we stopped in Costa Maya. I wore capris and one of Papa's oversized t-shirts---oh so glad I did.....because from the bottom of my capris to the top of my feet was a fire engine red when I woke up. Yes, I had on sun screen but my legs were also in the water alot of the time and so I'm guessing the sunscreen was just eventually washed off.

I had to get up in the middle of the night and I was in horrible pain. Not only were my legs on fire but they had swollen to about 3 times their size. BRIGHT RED ELEPHANT LEGS. Once I got up and walked a little, it wasn't so painful but still hurting.

Friday we spent the day just saying bye to our ship. We had breakfast in the dining room and went to the debarkation lecture with our cruise director. I definitely did not want to be in the sun whatsoever, so just kind of wandered around because like I said above, my legs were more tolerable when I was walking.

After lunch, Papa and I were watching tv in the room and starting to gather our stuff for packing and he mentioned my legs were sooo red that they looked blue and he wondered if maybe I was getting blood poison. So we decided to make our way to the doctor's area and have them take a look.

Our room was on Level 7 about mid-ship and the doctor's area was Level 0 at the front of the ship, so off we went, very slowly.

When we arrived, we found all sorts of information hanging on the wall just outside the offices and one sheet dealt with swollen legs/ankles----too much sun, alcohol, salty foods, soda, just about everything I had done. Their advice was elevate or walk (hum, kind of a contradiction but I had been doing both). We also read that for a consultation the doc charged $120. Well, it was Friday afternoon and we were leaving the ship first thing Saturday, so decided to save our money and if I were the same or worse on Saturday, we would just hit an urgent care on shore. For now I'd try walking and elevating the rest of the afternoon. Which I did.

That night at dinner it was time to say goodbye to Lim, Marco, and Klaudio.

Lim, the best waiter evah!

Marco, of the cokes and wine!!
Klaudio, our maitre d'.

We were sure going to miss them every night when we sat down to dinner. I thought, I would really miss sitting down to dinner with my family as well....

DD got quite attached to our "beverage boy", Marco.....

And we all adored Lim, our primary server.

There was more singing and dancing the last night and then before we knew it, it was all over. Some of our group went for last night partying. Papa and I went back to the room and finished packing up. We had to sit our bags in the hall before we went to sleep.

Where they would disappear during the night to be found the next morning on the luggage racks after we debarked.

The next morning debarkation was painless, another fabulous process by Carnival. We breezed through customs, claimed all our luggage and was back at the van loaded and ready to go by 8:00 a.m.

I was still in alot of pain from my sunburned, swollen legs, but decided I just wanted to get home and then I would deal with it.

The ride home was a bit uncomfortable...we had agreed to bring some of Cracker and the Weatherman's luggage back with us so they could avoid more extra luggage fees on their plane home so we were a wee bit more crowded and I really needed to elevate my legs but was unable to most of the time and everything hurt that touched my legs....I spent the trip home quite crabby and vocal but my co-travelers were pretty patient with me.

About midnight after driving all day long we were nearing our exit on the highway when we FINALLY got pulled over for speeding---I had wondered throughout the day if that would happen. SIL was in quite the hurry to get home. We were so exhausted from our day that we didn't put up much of an argument. We took our ticket and went that last mile to home sweet home.

All in all if that's the worst that happened to us on this trip---broken camera, sunburned legs, and a speeding ticket, I count this vacation as quite successful.

Thank you Dream for a wonderful time.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Cruise-Costa Maya

No, I haven't been cruising out there for the last two months. Just a litte blogcation. So much going on. Fodder for future reports.

Back to our cruise----and boy, I desparately need another one right now.

I left off just after our tour of Belize. Just read this week that a Carnival cruiser, 14 year old girl, was killed on an excursion in St. Thomas (I believe?). Caught in the middle of a gang war shootout. Wow. We believed we were so safe in all our ports of call but after discussing this yesterday with a co-worker, I could so imagine our school bus getting stopped in the middle of the Belize jungle and being hijacked by criminals of some sort. With just Mah-lisa and our busdriver to protect us. We were just a busload of naive tourists and quite lucky tourists at that. Never take your surroundings for granted.

So the day after our Belize experience, we floated on up to Mexico and stopped at what they call Costa Maya. I don't believe this is actually a town. More like a pier with quite alot of stores.

Notice in this first picture, the green by the shore and away from the shore is all gray destruction. Hurricane Dean hit this shore dead on several years ago. It was descimated. The gray are all the dead trees that still remain. You'll see this alot in the following pictures.

And I apologize for the quality of some these pictures from Costa Maya. I bought an underwater camera (to prepare ahead for the sinking of my kayak) and the quality of the film was very poor but it was all I had on this island.

So as I mentioned above, we were going a Clear Kayak excursion at this port. The night before I started getting a little anxious about it all and was sharing my fears at dinner. We were doing our floating in the ocean. I had never kayaked before and was concerned about the boats being closed top kayaks and I might turn over and not be able to exit from it successfully. I shouldn't have worried so much ABOUT THAT part. They were open kayaks, more like canoes.

So at the end of the pier we hooked up with our excursion leader who was glad to see us BUT explained the weather was kind of treacherous today with high waves, etc. and were we sure we wanted to do this? What kind of question was that? I was getting more terrified by the minute. I looked at Papa who threw it back to me and after asking "were we gonna die out there", our leader assured us we were going to be just fine but here sign an additional waiver that says "I informed you about the weather and ocean conditions releasing the tour from responsibility in the event of.......... "

Regardless of this gloomy outlook, we had quite a few people in our excursion group and so we all headed to our safari bus that would transport us to the fishing village of Mahahual.

See what I mean about the hurricane aftermath. So very sad. This was the one place that I really felt like my tourism dollars might do some good. That's all they seem to have.

After about a 20 minute bus road, we arrived at the village which is basically a long strip of stores, restaurants, bars and sections of the beach that have been cordoned off as "private beach areas". The rest of our cruise group had optioned for a private beach day at this port and so they found themselves in this area as well.

Anyway, we gathered at our "excursion bar" to lock up our valuables and went to the beach where we received our 5 minute kayak tuitorial, loaded up and started paddling.

More setting of the stage. I was getting a bit sunburned by this time in our vacation and so I opted to wear some capris and one of Papa's shirts versus a swimsuit trying to avoid an all out sun-scalding. SO VERY GLAD I DID.

So off we paddled:

and who did we pass by. The Weatherman and Cracker on their "private beach". When they spotted us paddling by, they started yelling and flailing about, amazed that I had gone through with it (after discussions from the night before at dinner when I admitted I was terrified of doing this). That's the Weatherman, front and to the right...Cracker is a little behind waving her arms.

So out to the open ocean we went. It was pretty wild. We were going out so far to a reef but as we would get closer, the water breaking over the reef was quite abit over our heads. One kayak got swamped and started sinking but it wasn't our's.....I should tell you now that there was a leader of our group who we were following and following all of us was a speedboat with our rescuers aboard. We were told that if anyone just wanted to quit, get their attention and they would pick you up or if anyone had a problem, again just get their attention and they would be rescued. By the end of our time, they had picked up 2 boats worth of folks but again wasn't US.

Now if you've been reading this blog long at all, you will realize that Papa and I sometimes see things differently and butt heads from time to time. Paddling a canoe, I found out, was something we should have done with different partners. Papa kept telling me I was paddling on the wrong side than him and not paddling fast enough, and just basically not doing it right. THIS WAS MY FIRST TIME. I was in the front, how do I know what side he is paddling? And I should be doing opposite? And this was not a race, I wanted to enjoy our little ocean voyage not come in first. And we were on the open ocean....a very wild, wavy ocean and the whole thing was just a tad bit FRIGHTENING to me. I barely had time to snap a photo here and there and no time whatsoever to apply EXTRA SUNSCREEN TO MY EXPOSED CALVES. I'm sure you can see where this heading.

So needless to say, the Bickerson's paddled along yelling at each other. It was so hard for me to refrain from knocking him out of the boat with my paddle to shut him up (only because I knew I needed him to help me get back to shore!) We ended up battling the ocean and wind and the waves and each other for about an hour but viewed no ocean life through our kayak bottoms. Our leader finally gathered us around and said we were heading back to shore, the conditions were a little bit dangerous. WHEW....and so we paddled back to shore. I was partly relieved and partly proud that I wasn't one of those in the rescue boat. I HAD DONE IT and SURVIVED.

We ended up receiving alot of free drink tickets from the bar since our excursion was cut short and were set loose on the beach, to eat, drink, or shop. Which is what we did.

We stopped by and visited Cracker and the Weatherman for a few minutes and received a serenade.

Then it was time to meet up with our group once again for the bus ride back to the the Costa Maya pier.

Those that didn't have a safari bus ride, had to use a taxi to get back to the pier. Quite the little traffic jam to get all the cruise boat (more than one at this port) passengers back to their ships on time. DD and SIL had a smashing time but it seemed to be exhausting for them as well.

That's SIL in the big straw hat toward the left.

That night was our final formal night for dinner. The winds and high waves on the ocean were a precusor to a bad storm at sea that evening, so after showering and getting dressed up, I slapped on my sea bands and took a Dramine and off we went to dinner.

Cracker and the Weatherman enjoyed their port time much so, they called it an early night and went to bed, passing on dinner. Papa almost made it to the dining room but when he passed by the sushi bar, the seasickness had it's way with him and back to the room he went. I continued on, lurching down the boat until I made it to the dining room and met DD and SIL. DD was hunched over stating she was just going to eat some bread for dinner but we convinced her to pack it in and go back to the room if she felt so awful. So SIL and I had dinner together that night and participated in some more singing and dancing with Lim, our waiter.

Then I called it a night.

Next report will be our cruise wrapup.

For now....Grammy

Monday, May 17, 2010

Belize - PART 2

So I left our story of Belize in the Altun Ha ruins. Very interesting, very hot, very bug infested...your typical jungle rain forest setting...felt very Lost-like there.

After viewing all there was to view, we boarded our bus for the trip farther inland to the "resort". Said loosely. At the Black Orchid resort, we ate, bought a souvenir or two and boarded our boat for our Rio Wallace tour. Again, Mah-lisa was our tour guide (below in the bright yellow shirt) and now we were in the blazing sun on the river instead of in a hot, shady jungle.

Leaving the Black Orchid "resort".

On our river jungle ride we saw Howler Monkeys (look closely in the tree branches).

Crocodiles of all sizes.

and Orange Iguanas.

And then we headed back out to the open sea,,,the Caribbean Sea that is

We were dropped off back at the tourist area in Belize City (again behind the gates away from the criminals) where we did a bit of shopping.

Then it was back to the ship for our usual night of dinner, shows, and bed. Papa seemed to enjoy his birthday day in Central America.

I aim to please.....Grammy.

Friday, May 14, 2010

CRUISE---Belize, CA (that's Central America)--PART 1

So after our disappointment at Roatan, we sailed on to Belize for our next stop. But first since the next day was Papa's birthday, I had arranged a surprise celebration the night before at dinner.

It was a surprise, even to me--I thought they were bringing the cake to our room that night---but Papa enjoyed it. We had made arrangements for a special dinner the next night on his birthday at the Steakhouse restaurant on the ship.

So back to our story....We were quite apprehensive about this port of Belize. We had been scared about the crime. The CD (Cruise Director), John, said if you don't have an excursion planned, through Carnival,,,,,just don't get off the boat. There is a tourist area at the pier but once you walk through the back "gate", crime is rampant....supposedly.

Papa and I, however, enjoyed Belize to the fullest. We had signed up for the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins excursion and then a ride down the Rio (that's River in their "language", English, oh well) Wallace. We were to be gone ALL DAY and we were ready. DD and SIL were going cave tubing (DD asks "Wonder if there are 'things' in the water?"). Cracker and the Weatherman didn't really have plans but we were not to worry.

But first we had to get there. Belize has the second largest coral reef in the world around the island so we had to drop anchor about 5 miles out and were tendered in from the cruise ship. Again, Carnival has this process down pat. We had specific orders to meet at various places on the ship according to the plans you made. Deboarded with our excursion group, and then we went from the tender boat straight to our excursion bus....the criminals weren't even able to access us whatsoever. We were kept safe.

Here we are tendering to Belize City.

Where the criminals reside....just outside the tourist area.....although they weren't showing their faces to us!!

Our tour guide was Mah-lisa and since Belize used to be known as British Honduras, she spoke with (as well as all the country) a very pleasant English accent. And informative. For the next seven hours, she told us about the country, the people, families, school systems, the political system, roads, economy, animals, Mayans, ruins, rivers, the ocean, coral reef, even the children's love of Fruit Loops cereal. That girl knew some stuff and I'm sure she doesn't get paid at all what she is worth as a tour guide.

Here are some pictures of the Mayan ruins part of the tour.

and did I mention I'm a faller? I was completely terrified up here and notice this absolutely horrifying staircase. The Mayans were very small people but they have a huge step. It's a wonder I didn't experience a Belize hospital during this day!

AND you'll notice Belize is going to be in Parts---it was a long I'll finish with the rest of tour a little later......

Kind of a tired Grammy....