Month: August 2010

  • Oh yeah! It's gonna be the year of the FROG! Horned, that is. >;^>

    From the Star-Telegram:

    Kevin Sherrington's top 10 Texas football programs
    1. TCU: The Horned Frogs have been building a case for years, and this is their best yet. Seventeen starters back from an 11-1 team. A Heisman candidate in Andy Dalton. The nation’s top-ranked defense two years running.

    Losing Jerry Hughes at defensive end certainly hurts, but Gary Patterson has a way of turning up players.  By the time the Frogs play a game outside Dallas-Fort Worth, in October, Patterson’s biggest concern will be whether the bandwagon runs him over.

    This Saturday the Froggies play Oregon State!  For the first part of the game I'll be at my poppets' birthday party in Mesquite, but then I'll be listening on the radio and watching on TV.  


    GO, FROGGIES!!!  

  • Yesterday was Day 16 of the cruise, and we were docked in Copenhagen!  The chaplain on board being unorthodox in his doctrine, I left the ship earlyish (for me) to see about finding a church service nearby.  The port guide, Barbara, was on the pier still and she told me about an Anglican church, a small blue building, "just past those masts" with the only English-language service in the city, a choral eucharist at 10:30 a.m.  With a spring in my step I set off briskly, to become bemused when there came a split in the sidewalk at the end of the pier.  Which way to go?  There was a tall, elaborate stone spire visible through the trees, but that didn't fit the description given.  Suffice it to say I guessed wrong, and by the time I had gone a good way in the wrong direction and curved back, it was to discover the Anglican church, St. Alban's, was indeed the one with the tall spire, and it's not especially small, and certainly not blue. 

    Still, I made it with half an hour to spare, so sat on the wooden pew - with a very thin cushion - unti it began.  As is the case with so many denominations these days, this church was clearly dependent upon females, although the pastor was a man (who's English, and only been there a year), and I saw another one helping.  There was a female priest(ess) who read the gospel and performed the eucharistic rite; the deacon was female, the choir of six or seven was composed solely of women,  two women collected the offering, etc.   The selection of music was a joy, including a hymn based on Psalms 42 and 43.  I left when communion began as my tour began at 12:30 and the meeting time was fifteen minutes prior to that and it was almost 11:30.  By the time I arrived back at the pier, my shins were hurting and my right foot wasn't fond of me, either, but I changed clothes, grabbed what I needed, and rushed to the Rembrandt Lounge.  By coming in and heading straight up to where the excursion people were, I managed to be among the first to get my bus assignment, though others had been sitting and waiting a good while. 

    Cool.  It's amazing how fast some of the elderly can be, however, and how utterly determined to be first on the bus.  Several got past me somehow on the stairs and once we exited the ship.  I still snagged the exact seat I wanted, one immediately behind the rear door, so that worked. 

    Guess what was one of the first sights to see?  Right.  The area where St. Alban's was, including the church itself.  It was only a drive-by, but isn't that the way?  It was pleasing to hear a description of the large statue in front of it (actually, it isn't attached to the church, merely in close proximity), a mythological woman who turned her sons into bulls so she could plow a large plot of land and keep it.  Though she turned right around and threw it into the sea, for some reason.  Odd story, to be truthful.  Those mythological people were a weird bunch.

    We were taken to see the palace buildings that are the home of the royal family, and the parliament, and myriad other places.  Bikes all over the place!  The guide, Michael, said bikes are referred to as "silent killers" in Copenhagen, and to be very watchful.  BTW, he was an utter delight of a tour guide, who took wonderful care of his guests, carefully counting us on the bus, helping those with walkers, taking note of where we were and herding the stragglers, plus being knowledgable about the history of Denmark and the various landmarks.

    The palace:

    The above is where the queen lives. Below is the HQ of Denmark's environmental agency, which has a map of Europe in flowers on the front!

    Above is a spire made of twisted dragon tails.  IIRC, it's a church.  Terrible how I forget everything almost immediately!  ("Did you have a wonderful time on your cruise, Anne?"  "Pretty sure.  Can't remember it now.")

    The excursion included a visit to Tivoli Gardens, which was absolutely nothing like I'd expected.  Frankly, I'd no notion it was the oldest amusement park in the world, and it has rides like Six Flags.  It has a million light bulbs, and would be treat at night!  Oh well, can't have everything, can one?  Hadn't had time for lunch, so bought a pepperoni bruschetta, and later an ice cream bar.  Here's a neat thing!  Due to the Little Mermaid statue being in Shanghai, China for some world exposition until November, the family of the statue's sculptor generously lent what's called "The Little Mermaid's Little Sister", a second statue of her sculpted in bronze, and it's in the Tivoli Gardens.  As soon as the original returns home, the little sister will return to her home.  It's never been displayed before, so I feel fortunate to have been able to be here for the six months it's available to be seen.  I hope I'll return some day to Copenhagen and will be able  to see TLM in its rightful place in the harbor, so will have seen both.

    Last night Mom and I - she had gone on a five hour tour of the five castles of Zealand - were very tired indeed, so skipped the formal dinner and ate in the lido restaurant, then rested in the cabin, except at 7:15 I went to have another 50 minute massage.  Bliss!  Complete bliss.  That, plus the time going back an hour for a change, instead of forward, and today being a sea day, means we should be in good shape for Dover tomorrow.  I'm going on an eight hour "London Panorama" excursion, while Mom's going to see another castle, IIRC.

    Today the group known as "Angels64"...that's our table at dinner....met for lunch in the dining room, as the pastry chef, James, had finally broken down to the pleading of Kathy, I think it was, and admitted he had a pumpkin pie in the freezer.   Therefore, our table was offered a dessert no one else had.  Mind, I chose another dessert, as I don't care for pumpkin pie, but it was a terribly kind thing of him to do for us.  One of the "angels" is leaving tomorrow, which makes us so sad!  About 300 passengers are getting off the ship in Dover, being replaced by another 300 for the Dover-Boston leg of the cruise. 

  • Bergen, Norway

    I'd not the least notion I'd be so enthralled by the two Scandinavian countries the ship's visited, i.e. Norway and Denmark.  Alesund, Bergen, Oslo and Copenhagen were past price! 

    Our tour wasn't until later in the day, so that morning I set out to explore on my own a bit.  Here's the sign that greeted me as I passed through the gate:


    No matter where I looked, there wasn't a fish marked "Bryggen."  ;^)  It only took a few minutes to arrive at Bryggen, however, and was entranced both by the charming buildings and the variety of languages spoken by the visitors. 

    I prevailed upon a woman who didn't speak English but fortunately had a camera and understood my request that she take my picture with a moose head;  and I inadvertently caught her while snapping a photo of a roof I admired:

    Wish I'd had the horns with me, as there was a man who had gotten into the spirit of the region:

    Next I wandered into a residential area:

    Turned out the beginning of the tour took us right back to Bryggen, which was great because the guide gave info I'd not known about the town, most of which has already been forgotten, more's the pity.  One item I do recall is that this building on the left housed the HQ of the Norwegian Resistance:

    After the walking and driving tour we boarded a boat, and saw more of Norway:

    The crew members on the Maasdam have had losses.  The nice man who oversees our section of the dining room heard his mother died a few days ago and left on an unexpected ten-day leave.  He'll rejoin us, and our table has a sympathy card for him, made by Jean, one of the tablemates.  Then "Party Planner Jackie" as she's called, who handled things like scrapbooking and tablesetting and such, also received word a relative had died, so she's gone too.  Besides the obvious sorrow at her bereavement, it's left the ship with a rather large gap in its entertainment schedule, as she usually gave two or three demostrations/lessons/whatever each day.  Perhaps a replacement will come aboard at Dover.

  • Alesund, Norway, is literally the most beautiful city I've ever seen.  It's frustrating to me that the photos I took today don't adequately reflect the beauty of Alesund, with its marvelous Art Nouveau architecture and vivid colors. 

    Mom and I took the Jewels of the Crown excursion, which began with a bus ride through part of Alesund, including a 15 minute stop at a look-out point (some friends were on another bus for the same tour, but it didn't stop for the passengers to exit and take pictures, isn't that a pity?  They were very displeased).  The Queen Mary 2 was in port as well, and mercy Maud, that's a huge ship!  When I consider how long it can take to get to our cabin on the Maasdam, it's truly daunting to think about what it'd be like to trek around the QM2.


    Anyway, here's a photo of the QM2 at the Alesund cruise pier, followed by one of the Maasdam:



    One thing I swiftly noted about Alesund - and I expect to find it's applicable to Norway in general - is the proliferation of flowers, especially roses.  The bus went past too quickly for me to catch it photographically, but there was a particularly lovely little house with lush rose bushes in front of it, and a sod, i.e. grass, roof!  The roof looked like it needed to be mowed, Mom noted.  ;^)  I regret not having been able to take a picture of it to share, and also to refresh my memory.  Oh well!

    After the bus ride we were delivered at a smaller pier where we exited the bus, and we were surprised and rather taken aback to discover that as soon as the HAL people were off, a bunch of people from the QM2 were advancing upon it, due to the Cunard woman holding a sign up.  Good thing we hadn't left anything on the bus, as we never saw it again!  The tour guide hadn't said a word about being careful to take everything off that we'd had with us, and I hope everyone did.

    So the QM2 tourists and the Maasdam tourists traded places, with us boarding the boat they'd just been on, and them getting on the buses that had delivered us to it.  The boat quickly set out, taking us to and through the Hjorundfjord, one of (the excursion guide assured us) most enchanting fjord in Norway.  It was gorgeous, and fascinating to see an occasional tiny community along the way.  One of them was only reachable by ferry in the winter, as the road closes when the winter weather arrives.

    This was interesting, I thought....due to the many hydroelectric plants along the fjord, it no longer freezes over in the winter!  It's quite rare for that to happen, though it used to be a regular occurrence. 

     It was also interesting to learn that ten thousand years ago, ice covered the area, including the mountains.  From the bottom of the fjord to the top of the mountains, ice.  That's thick ice, that is!  Then around eight thousand years ago it melted, which is when the first settlements appeared.  Gosh, you mean that enormous amount of ice melted and we had absolutely nothing to do with it?  How'd that happen?

    The Tideexpress took us all the way back to the cruise pier, which was nice.  Mom bought some postcards then returned to the Maasdam, but I spent a couple of hours wandering through Alesund, drinking it in.  Okay, and poking into various shops.  At one I found the most charming lavender shawl.  I simply loved it, but decided against buying it when it was found to be roughly $66.   The postcards I purchased cost a couple of bucks each!  The prices of things is high, although I did find a lavender knit blouse for not too much and got that.  Turns out Norway can be warm, and it was a fair bit warmer today in Alesund than had been forecast, and there I was in a long-sleeved top and carrying my fleece jacket around.  Mom kindly took it with her when she went back to the ship, so I wouldn't be burdened with it any longer.  Tomorrow is Bergen, and we've been warned to dress in layers, as it can get almost hot.