Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Glass Park

I saw a deal through Living Social where a 2-hour glass class was being offered, so I purchased it. Chelle came down and we both went. It's over on South Wayne. Eran Park is the owner and he told us the basics and showed us some of the things you could make, then gave us a demonstration by making a pendant and this really cool nonsensical clear glass thing. It started out as a thin tube of glass and he heated it and blew into it to create little bulb areas and then twisted the thin parts so it made this really interesting shape.







He said some people don't want to go behind the torch and I was like, no, we're both going-behind-the-torch kinds of gals. :)



We took turns just playing and experimenting, and then we each made something. I only kind of made mine - a marble. After I started he told me making marbles is one of the hardest things to do because it's difficult to get them completely round and smooth and even. So I kind of made a lump in the colors I wanted to and started shaping it and then he finished turning it into an actual thing.  :) 

Eran making my marble round

Chelle made the top piece for a wine stopper. She made this really cool twisty shape.

Chelle's piece, still glowing hot

We had to leave them there to stay in the kiln overnight, and Eran has to attach the wine stopper part to the glass piece, so I'm going to pick them up on Monday. It was so much fun! Women with torches! :)

Eran is also in the process of putting together this really cool glass tree. It's going to be on display at the Main Library when it's done. He was at the Maker Station last summer and people from the community came in and made leaves for the tree, about 150. Then he made about 50 more and it's going to be put on permanent display. How cool!

The picture does not do it justice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Breat Tissue Donor Bank

On Saturday, February the 9th, Chelle and I drove down to Indy to donate breast tissue to the Susan G Komen Tissue Bank. From their website: "The Komen Tissue Bank is the only repository in the world for normal breast tissue and matched serum, plasma and DNA. By studying normal tissue, we accelerate research for the causes and prevention of breast cancer. To more deeply understand the evolution of the disease, it is necessary to compare abnormal, cancerous tissue against normal, healthy tissue"

The site was the IU Simon Cancer Center. There were tons of volunteers leading you from station to station and answering questions. There was also someone giving out journals so people could enter their experience of the donation.



First, we had to enter personal medical information into the computer. We were identified by numbers, not names. Then we waited, where they were serving smoothies and coffee, and when it was our turn they took us back to have blood drawn. That was painful for me because the phlebotomist was not a clean stick, and it did bruise later.

We waited again and then went back to donate the tissue. They used this machine with a small vacuum tube on it. They numb you, then make a small incision, then insert the tube, which is about the size of a flattened pencil , and suck out tissue from 3 locations, then do a saline wash, give you an ice pack and send you on your way. I didn't even feel the incision or the sucking, but it did sting when she did the saline wash.

On the way out, the volunteers cheered everyone and gave a Vera Bradley bag (I don't care for Vera Bradley stuff, but the company is a huge supporter of breast cancer research) with our instructions, an extra ice pack, and a t-shirt.

Chelle getting cheered.

Chelle and I then went to lunch and off on our separate ways home. It was a nice day and we both felt so good about what we were doing! It was very empowering to think you could be helping someone and possibly saving lives in the future. Everyone was so nice and grateful and we kept getting thanked for being there. It was very cool.

I did get a small bruise two days later, but having the ice packs on the day of really helped and I was only sore the next day because Mom and I played Kinect and I was stretching and bouncing on my feet. :)  Overall, it was a great experience!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Day 3: Nassau

Day 3 - Nassau

Nassau was pretty much exactly as I imagined, at least the part we were in. We didn't venture out to the beaches or anything, just stayed within walking distance of the pier. As we walked away from the ship, we were approached by all kinds of people asking to give us guided tours of the city or to braid my hair, etc. At first, Kevin was being polite and listening to people and after we got stopped a couple of times I told him he was going to have to ignore them and just walk by or we'd never get away from the ship.  :)

Atlantis

We wandered through this little market at the end of the dock, but most things weren't open yet. Then we got outside and found the Straw Market right away. The Straw Market is filled with narrow aisles crammed with all kinds of junk - t-shirts, dresses, bags, hats, trinkets - and a bunch of people sitting in chairs in front of their area, trying to get you to browse their stock. If you so much as paused in front of anything, they were all over you, taking things out to show you and asking what sizes you needed. I, of course, intended to buy t-shirts and a sweatshirt, so I was kind of looking and people were offering me deals. But Kevin got overwhelmed after a bit so we went back outside to wander.



We went through lots of little shops and saw a bunch of expensive places - Fendi and Gucci, lost of jewelry stores, etc., which, interestingly enough were the only stores listed on the "map" Carnival handed out as we left the ship. We didn't even go down that street. :)

We went to the Harley Davidson store, where Kevin found a t-shirt he wanted to get his brother. And lots of other little touristy shops. One had cool shirts with the Bahamas logo on it, but they were more than I had planned to spend.



We also went to a Pirate Museum. The gift shop attached to it was pretty disappointing, though Kevin insisted he wanted a Jolly Roger to go outside on our front porch next to our American flag. I vetoed that idea, though.  :)



We went back to the Straw Market and bought some souvenirs, then headed back to the ship. We went outside to the uppermost deck and sat out in the sun. Yaay! It was soooo nice.

After a while we wandered back inside and had dinner, where our wait staff danced for us again.



Then we went to the evening's entertainment. They had a game show where three contestants would try to buzz in and answer questions to win a prize. The prizes were Carnival medallions or fake gold-played plastic Carnival mini statues.  :)  I actually got into the game show, but I was the slowest to buzz in! I realized halfway through that it was because I was holding my hand lower and the other two had theirs right on the buzzers. The emcee came up to me and gave me a pity answer so I could at least have a plus score.  :)  He did that for each of the three groups that went up.



We played bingo again, with no joy. Kevin also went to the casino that night to play penny slots, which don't actually cost a penny. He was in the positives once, but in the end he spent $20 and did not win.  :( That was okay. We didn't figure to win big, and that was one of the few places on the ship where people could smoke and it was yucky so we didn't stay long.

Next entry: Day at Sea!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 2: The Saga Continues!


I'm a bad blogger! :)

On to Day 2!

When we got up the next morning, we were pulling into Freeport. Kevin and I had booked an excursion ahead of time to go on a kayak nature tour in the National Park there. We gathered outside the ship with all the other folks who had excursions. After a short wait, we were led to a bus that was taking two groups to their kayaking destinations. One was not a "nature" tour; I'm not sure where they went.

There were 5 couples altogether: Kevin and me, an older-than-us husband and wife and their adult son and his wife, newlyweds, and a couple (who reminded us of Katie and Christer) and their 1 1/2 year old daughter.

Our tour guide was Chadwin, and he was FANTASTIC. He explained features of the countryside we were driving through, telling us why certain areas of trees were dead (the saltwater from the hurricane) and even stopping alongside a specific plant to explain its features. He also talked about the Lucayan Indians who used to live there, who were completely wiped out when Christopher Columbus came along and made them all slaves. It was also a great pirate-hangout back in the day. He also told us about this millionaire, William Groves from Virginia, came and bought a bunch of land for use in his lumber business. He was granted 50,000 acres of land with the directive to make it prosper, which he did. Chadwin had a few stories about this man and what he did, but I can't remember the specifics anymore. They were very entertaining, though!



 

When we got to our site he unloaded the boats and then had us grab paddles and line up as we would be sitting in the double kayaks. The newlyweds were standing with the guy in the front and Chadwin called him on it and then told us the men were the steering part of the boat and if we ended up in the bushes it was all the man's fault.  :)  He also warned us not to both lean to the same side at once and tip over the boat!

He then went through how to put the paddles together and take them apart, how to go forward, turn, and go back. He asked us who had kayaked before and everyone raised their hands. Then he smiled and said when he has groups with people who don't raise their hands, he never has any problems with them, but the people who DO raise their hands are the troublemakers.  :)

We then got in the boats and headed out. Chadwin was in the lead and he was setting quite a pace! My shoulders started burning right away. But then we came to an open part of the river and everyone stopped. Chadwin explained more about the vegetation and the root systems and the wildlife in the area (no poisonous snakes or spiders, no crocodiles or alligators or any dangerous wild animals). Then we set out again at a more leisurely pace; the newlyweds were in front, followed by Kevin and me.
 

The river reminded me of Pigeon River in Mongo: very smooth, shallow, calm. It got as deep as four feet in some places but in most you could see to the bottom. It did get very narrow, though. In many places it was just wide enough for the boat and a paddle on one side, and it was very twisty and turny. It was surrounded by mangroves and very quiet and still and peaceful.


Whenever Kevin and I started to pull up to the newlyweds and had a chance to pass them, the guy would put on the speed to get back in the lead, like it was a race. They did have a lot of trouble getting stuck in the trees because of his leadership. So did the older couple. The only times Kevin and I had trouble was where it got so narrow you kind of ended up in the trees through no fault of your own, but we were always able to get back out right away.

 


When the trip ended, we came up to a white, sandy beach surrounded by pine trees, with the ocean out in the distance. The tour group in front of us was loading their boats and the guides helped pull our boats ashore so we could walk along the beach for a while waiting for the others to come in. It was so pretty! The sun had come out while we were boating and it was warm and bright and beautiful. I did get a sunburn on my shins and the front of my lower right arm, and, of course, my face below my sunglasses line.  :)

 


When everyone was back, Chadwin loaded the boats and we headed to a little beach area. We walked through the woods to get there and Chadwin pointed out this very poisonous tree that makes you break out in hives and get swollen, and then a tree that has the cure for it, and other various trees and plants that they used in healing (one that helped tremendously with diabetes) and beverages (one called the 21-Gun Salute, which he referred to as the island Viagra).

We had a picnic lunch and there were sort-of tame raccoons that came up to the edge of the enclosure and begged for food. Chadwin told us we could feed them by hand and several people did. It was funny because they were trying to have their spouse take a picture of them feeding the raccoon but each one would just miss the photo op. :)  Then one man was going to try to feed the raccoon from his mouth and one of the other tour guides was like, "They're still wild animals, man. You don't want to get your face clawed!"

 


After we ate we wandered to the beach, which is rated as one of the 100 most beautiful in the world. Kevin wanted to take a walk but there was a guy laying on the sand and I was like, "That's what I want to do!" So I plopped on the sand and just laid there in the sun for a while. It felt soooooo nice! Kevin came back and went into the water, wading around. I joined him after a while; it was pretty cold between the beach and the sandbar, but after the sandbar it was a decent temperature.

 



When our time was up we got back into the little bus and drove back to the pier. Chadwin was telling us about the fauna. The pine trees there are very tall and have pines only at the very top. They are basically fire proof because they do not have limbs along the bottom for fire to climb and they also have an exploding sap that drenches any fire that starts. You could see evidence of burn marks but it only went about ten feet up the tree before it was extinguished. There were also aloe plant, which are filled with liquid, and palmettos which, he explained, have a fire extinguisher-like white powder on them that prevents them from catching fire. It was all very interesting.

He talked about the hurricane that came through and the lasting effects of that and then went on to tell us about his children, of whom he is very proud. He said he grew up in Nassau and moved to Freeport as an adult. His oldest daughter is in New York doing a residency at a hospital; his second daughter is just starting veterinary school; and his son is 16 and the Head Boy at his school and wants to double major in neuroscience and something else - some kind of engineering - that sounded ridiculously difficult. Chadwin said the school systems down there are wonderful.

He also talked about Junkanoo, which is apparently the Bahaman version of Mardi Gras, sort of. Here's a brief description from the Internet:



Bahamian dancer at the Junkanoo street carnival parade
Although the roots of the Junkanoo parade remain subject to long and passionate debates, what is agreed is that, after centuries of practice, today's cultural extravaganzas have become the most entertaining street carnivals of not only The Bahamas, but also the world at large.
With the costumes, dance and music inspired by a different theme each time, preparations for the Boxing Day, New Year's Day and summer time Junkanoo literally take months and bring together men and women from all different walks of life. (from http://www.bahamas.co.uk/about-the-bahamas/junkanoo/what-is-junkanoo)

Then we got back on the ship. We felt so bad because we had not thought to bring cash along to give Chadwin as a tip! We're planning to send him a check or gift Visa or something with a picture of the two of us, but we need to find out which tour group he was with so we can make sure it gets to him.

The Carnival Sensation was in dock next to us when we got back to the ship. We grabbed some pizza and went out on the deck and watched the sun set, and then waved goodbye to the folks on the Sensation as we pulled away.

 


After, we had a real dinner in the dining room, where our waiters danced for us. Then we went to The Palace Theater for trivia, Battle of the Sexes, and Bingo. Battle of the Sexes was hilarious - I laughed so hard my jaw ached. They had three couples come up on stage: one was newlyweds who had been married for 5 days; one was a couple who had been married for 54 or 57 years, I can't remember which; and the other was a couple who had their three young daughters with them. They had them sit back to back on the stage and the MC, our cruise director Paul, asked them questions.

For example, one of the questions he asked was directed to the men - you are going to Victoria's Secret to pick up a bra for your wife. What size do you buy? Now, the newlyweds were pretty young, in their very early 20s. Paul was walking behind the couples reading their answers and making comments and laughing. When he walked behind the young man he started laughing and said the young man put "medium" on there and then said he had to pick a real size. Then when they were giving answers, Paul read off the young man's and he had put "push-up."

Most of the questions were kind of risque, and the answers they gave were funny amplified by Paul's comments. It was a good time.

After that there was a game called 60 Seconds or Less where they called two people at a time up to the stage to perform silly tricks. Like one was cup stacking. The one that was the most funny was where they had to hold a coin between their butt cheeks and walk it over and drop it into a cup. :)

Then we went to bed, very sleepy. It was a great day. :)