Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas greetings

We're in the Christmas season! The Saintly household is having a pretty good one.

I went to the Christmas Eve service, then to a get-together at the house of Bible-study friends.

I served at the Christmas morning service, a smaller crowd. That service was celebrated in the little-old chapel, and I really enjoyed it, then had Christmas dinner with my friends Michelle and Ken.

Here are Betsy and Elvis, waiting for Santa to show. Betsy is wearing Christmas finery, because she is my Christmas dog - my Christmas gift nine years ago, from the Holy Spirit, who led me to the next county north, where I found Betsy at the SPCA. She was just a little border-Collie Australian-shepherd puppy, stuck in a pen with some big bruisers. I took her home, and she's been a blessing ever since.

Every Christmas, Betsy has more white on her muzzle. Her spirit is as loving as always. The Best Dog in the Whole Wide World is what I call her.

Elvis is now at least 10 years old. I gave him to my mother for her birthday, when Elvis was just a teeny thing - small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, but full of personality. I think that was in 1998, but it may have been a year earlier. So, he's 10, if not 11. I took Elvis in five years ago when my mother's Alzheimer's got bad.

Elvis is still spry, and he's as full of himself as he was as a little kitten — non-stop personality. We'll talk about the diet in the next post.

Betsy and Jack the Brat settle in for a nap. Betsy snuggles in a squeaky teddy bear under her arm. She got it for Christmas. Betsy loves squeaky toys.

Jack the Brat, the baby of the bunch, is now 4 1/2 years old. He came into my life just before the devasting triple hurricanes of 2004 struck Central Florida. He had been injured, and needed care. The vet asked me to foster him, and, as she planned, I couldn't turn loose of him.

So, those are the "children" of the household, each special in his or her own way, and bringing delight.

Except for the time when I have to clean up yak, or diarrhea, or kitty litter kicked all over the floor, or something shredded all over the living room. But those are minor trials.

Life is so much fuller with these companions.

Friday, December 05, 2008

St. Pat goes cruising, followed by weeks of overwork

The good news is, I got a cruise in before I got sick. That was before Thanksgiving. It was a nice cruise, a repeat of the itinerary from our 2006 church cruise, from Melbourne to Nassau and back.

We went on a different Royal Caribbean ship called Monarch of the Seas. The ship we cruised on in 2006 was retired from the fleet. Monarch was very similar, but a little newer. The coolest thing about it? Our captain was a woman, and fantastic - a real sharpie!

The very most fantastic thing about the cruise was we sailed around 5:15 on Nov. 14 — the day Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off at 7:55 p.m. Captain Karen took us out and positioned the ship so we would have a great view of the liftoff from the decks.

It was gorgeous. It had already turned dark, and there was a fulll moon, the size of a dinner plate, hanging in the sky to my right, as I waited on deck. It cast ghostly white fingers atop the water.

Then, to my left, I could see a faint orange glow on the horizon, exactly where sea and sky appeared to meet. It grew larger and brighter. It was gorgeous, a huge ball of orange and red, lifting into the sky and arcing toward us.

It cast its own fiery fingers across the water, overpowering the pale and wan moon.

I held my breath, as I always do at booster separation. Then, the shuttle continued, like a bright white star moving across the heavens. Perfect.

We went straight from dinner to the deck, and I didn't have my camera with me. I decided that was better, even though I don't have photos to brag of - I spent the minutes experiencing it, instead of fiddling with the camera.

I did get a nice photo or two the next day, as we into Nassau Harbor, though.

When we got back, I was coming down with a bronchitis plus head-cold thing that's been going around. I've been sick for just about three weeks, but am mostly over it now, thank goodness. I couldn't take time off to recuperate - I was working 12 and 14 hour days. sigh.

I'm glad I got through the cruise BEFORE I got sick, though.

I had a good time. I give this cruise a B+. The only downer was the weather turned windy and a little chilly, and we didn't stop at the little private island on the way back - the weather was too foul. I didn't mind much - we just cruised around, instead.

Now, I'm looking forward to Christmas, and another day or two off.