Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After a night of revelry in Panama City's Casco Viejo........

a morning cafe on the balcony............

We depart for Colon on the Atlantic/Caribbean end of the famed Panama Canal to check-in and board our cruise ship.

Daniel picked us up right on time; ""

For some reason he took us on the scenic route. We did see some of the back country, and feel the pot-holes along the way. But yours truly, being of an age slightly older than 21 was fatigued from the previous night's bar hopping and soon fell asleep in the front seat of the van. If D. hadn't noticed and verbally awakened me I would soon have fallen into Daniel's lap.

The boarding of 2500 cruise goers was done as orderly as I think possible. The staff were fantastic in assisting we gringos to fill out the paper work and get us through the lines in a relatively quick and efficient manor; We were in our staterooms by 1300.

we leave Colon and wave goodbye

to the ships exiting the Panama Canal and the adventure begins:

We are off to Cartagena,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Succulent green shoots
test the air
Like timid toes into the lake.

Searching for light
Feeling for warmth

Bursting forth
Like the sun on the horizon
Pale buds unfurl

Until, fulblown,
Bright yellow trumpets,
In a tide of jonquils.

Reveille, reveille
They shout:
Welcome spring!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Casco Viejo in one day
or Casco Antiguo

Cahreee..... He looked up to see the bird on the balcony across the way. "Good morning bird," he said aloud. Prancing back and forth without a hint of fear the bird eyed him with curiosity. Rel said, "we're only going to be here for a day. What's the best way to see the most that the area has to offer?"

Cahree.... Caaare.... "The owner of the place you're staying knows his way around here very well."

And right he was. JB took the 4 amigos on a tour of the old town that would put any tour guide in the book to shame. From sun up to well after sunset he showed them the best Casco Viejo had to offer as well as some of the seedier spots just for comparison.

I took a peak over rel's shoulder to get a glimpse of his journal while he was jotting down his thoughts and this is what I saw:

Do they set their clocks ahead in Panama? It would seem not if CNN is to be believed.

Beautiful sunrise over the Pacific again this morning. (I still can't get over that.)

There is a fishing junk in the bay this morning.
0635: the Kuna arrived and are setting up their wares. Today, in the parking lot rather than the sidewalk. Must be a bazaar of sorts today.

JB took us on a tour of Old town yesterday. We started around 9 Am. He makes a remarkably knowledgeable tour guide. The day was hot and we were in a constant state of sweat. Except when we stepped inside establishments offering cold drinks with which to refresh ourselves.The dichotomy between the recently restored buildings side by side with shelled out buildings is shocking. The "book" (Leigh's Frommer's) says there is a 40% poverty rate here and a walk around makes that very apparent. JB says these dilapidated buildings are being bought up by investors and are being restored according to local building codes to their former grandeur.

The golden altar is located in San Jose Church, Casco Antiguo (Casco Viejo).

Even though we spent to major portion of the day walking around and visiting all the intriguing spots of Casco Viejo, any one of the sites is within only a few minutes of JBs apartment.

We lunched at an air-conditioned restaurant, Casablanca, on a variety of tasty sandwiches and a pitcher of delicious sangria.

I mentioned to JB the seeming lack of bugs, insects, and such. His reply was that they have a pesky little mosquito in the area but other than that, no bugs to speak of. I'm thinking now that I didn't see any flies, even though we walked through some pretty run down areas.

During the course of our walking tour, the various libations together with the heat produced a lethargy requiring a nap in an air-conditioned bedroom so as to render myself at least able to fully participate in the evenings planned dinner and bar hopping to follow.

JB had made dinner reservations for the 5 of us at Mostaza restaurant for 1930. While the food was scrumptious from the appetizers to dessert and espresso, the entertainment was captivating. A trio consisting of a female keyboard maestro, a male bongo thumper, and a baritone with a truly beautiful tone singing favorites in both Spanish and impeccable English entertained us through our entire time there.

Leaving Mostaza, we amble to a nearby tapas bar where yours truly switched to soda-- oops-- before the tapas bar we went to Las Bovedas, located on Plaza Francia and it's jazz bar. They had no live entertainment so we settled for sampling the local rum, "Abuelo." JB talked about us investing in creating a cocoa bean plantation on some land he owns on the pacific shore.

At the tapas bar, El Callejon del Gato Restaurant, Leigh was in his glory finding a bartender ( Anuschka Hamann), a Panamanian girl raised in Germany, who was expert at fixing a mojito from scratch.

From there we moseyed over to a bar just around the corner where they did have live entertainment. There was a female torch singer in a white trench coat belting out one fantastic song after another. We lingered there until their first break and then made our way home, to there-in collapse in glorious fatigue with all our senses sated.

For a greater visual of our adventure click (that's bloggerize for mosey) here to visit Koffeebean.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunrise over the Pacific.

Sitting on the dock on the bay, well, close enough, he contemplates the events of the past 24 hours. The four amigos sitting in the cafe/bar across from their gate sipping wine and nibbling pizza hear every air traveler's dreaded announcement: the flight has been delayed due to low ceiling in Newark.
They were late into Newark, late into Panama city, and their luggage was still in the USA.
All of that seemed insignificant as he sat sipping fresh ground coffee, writing in his journal, and watching the sun rise over the ......... Pacific Ocean. That can't be right he thought. It must be the heat or the humidity, or both; 80 degrees and 80% humidity. Let's see he thought; Panama city is on the pacific side right? Yes, he thought, but .... maybe it's a reflection or an illusion. He decided to defer conclusions until he could confer with his amigo.
Fresh coffee on a picturesque balcony over looking the Bahia de Panama and watching the sunrise, east or west mattered little for the ambiance of the moment. To the left, across the bay is the skyscraper skyline of downtown Panama. Here in the Casco Viejo(Old City). He is witness to the stirring of day; the cacophony of birds welcoming the dawn, residents are sauntering the brick paved streets with their pets while feral cats reconnoiter the under brush for breakfast. Already, street vendors are setting up their "stalls" as it were along the sidewalks of this area that he soon realizes is a main byway for the tourist crowd that will begin passing by in a few hours.
Ah, looky there he thinks , watching a hat vendor display his Panama hats both male and female sorts. "I'll have to check his prices later," he thought, I'll need one of those sombreros to protect my bald pate.'
The tide is going out.
Across the alley workmen arrive to resume there restoration work on Reuben Blade's condo.
They don't set their clocks ahead here in Panama.
Ah. Good morning Leigh. Say, does the sun ever rise over the Pacific?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Although SNAFU airlines bracketed our vacation with the usual, flights Delayed, they failed to put a damper on the, otherwise, couldn't- be- better cruise vacation.
The only item in short supply was sleep. There were so many things to do and see that to partake of all we wanted to required us to sacrifice sleep time. Can you imagine being unable to keep your head up or your eyes open during a tango presentation on a ship full of Latin Americans?
Arrived home in the wee wee hours of the morning (pun intended) and after less than 2 hours sleep, back in the OR rendering others unconscious for their surgeries.

Therefore and so-on, bed time came at 1730 for me last night. As my sleep account is replenished I'll be inviting you to listen in as I retell tales of our trip.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Ahoy me hearties, come aboard my ship.

Be quick with ye now lads and lassies or we'll be left on the wharf while the ship weighs anchor and sails for grand adventures without us.

A few weeks, months, surely not years ago K. and L. asked us if we'd like to go on cruise with them. Shiver me timbers, we, who have never, that's right, never, been on a cruise before agreed wholeheartedly. They have been on many cruises and being old sea dogs, regaled us with tales of the pleasures to be endured by such. I reminded them that not so long ago they had been on the cruise ship that had been hit by the forty foot wave. L. said "yup, now that was a grand adventure and the best part was the free food the cruise line offered." That's my friend L.. He doesn't see the down side to too many things. :)

They had already chosen which cruise they were planning on taking and so plans were initiated and today the plan will be put in motion. I'm excited on many fronts. First we will be exploring the isles of the Dutch West Indies searching for, among other things, pirate lore. Little did they know that this is research project I sorely need, to continue with my historical fiction novel. Next, we will spend a day (Saturday) with D.'s uncle, J.B. (only a few days older than me) who is living in Panama for the winter. He has arranged for a driver to take us to the city of Colon (no snickering! As an side; the currency of Costa Rica is the colon.) which has a reputation for being a sleazy underbelly type of city full of scallywags and such. It is from this city that our Royal Caribbean Cruise ship "Enchantment of the Seas" embarks.

The planned itinerary is as follows:
Leave Panama Sunday evening and arr. Mon.:
Cartagena, Columbia. Think; Capt. Morgan and his great Pirate Army.
Tues. we'll explore Santa Marta, Columbia beaches.
Wed. All day at Oranjestad, Aruba.
Thur. explore Willestad, Curacao.
Fri. Kralendijk, Bonaire.
Sat. All day cruise.
Sun. back in Colon, disembark ride to Panama city, stay the night at J.B.'s and fly back to Syr. on Mon.

For I dream of the skull and the crossbones
I dream of the great day to come
When I dump the mundane
For the Old Spanish Main
And trade me computer for rum
Yo Ho Yo Ho
Lets talk like a pirates.
When laptops are benches
God gave men for wenches
And a sail aint a high price to pay
When timbers are shivered
And lillies are livered
And every last buckle is swashed
We'll abandon our cars
For a shipful of ARRRS
And pound back the grog til we're sloshed!

If the buccaneers, Brethren of the Coast, deem it fair we'll be back.
"Til then, Godspeed! and fairwinds.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Harbinger of spring

I learned again something new. When, in the past, someone mentioned a harbinger of spring, I'd think of things like pussy willows, robins, snow melt, streams overflowing their banks, and driving to work in the day light.
The first days of this week have certainly shown a few of these sign to me; driving to work in the daylight and balmy spring temps and bright sunny days. I haven't seen any robins yet but some folks at work have. The weatherman tells us that today will be the best day this week for a warm sunny spring like day.
Thinking it better to write a post rather than stare at a face book page waiting for someone to put up a sage comment, I thought I'd mention the pleasant weather of the past few days with as many words as I could muster and still sound erudite and or sensible. So, as is my usual habit when the thought harbinger-of-spring sprung to the forefront of my consciousness, I Googled the term:
a North American umbelliferous herb, Erigenia bulbosa, having white flowers that bloom early in the spring.
Well, ain't that special. A noun no less. Who'd a-thunk it? Not I, but of course I know you all aren't surprised at all. You knew it all along didn't you? I didn't but I do now and so along with robins and pussy willows, I'll be on the lookout for some Erigenia bulbosa and then I'll know that spring is on it's way
Embrace the day readers, if not your enemies. ;)


Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Jig is up.
"Why are you here?"
"To let some air in."

The Jig is up.
"It's simple, everything
Will be better."

The Jig is up.
"I don't care about me,
Only what could be."

The Jig is up
"And everything
Tastes like licorice."


More tales; click here


Monday, March 08, 2010

Good morning, at least to those here in the northern Hemisphere. To my friends down under; g'day!

Come in and set a spell, if you're a mind to. It's been awhile since there's been any conversation to speak of here under the microscope. Oh, I know, there've been a few pieces re: writing prompts, but really very little of the daily dialogue this blog used to noted for.

Excuses? Sure, I've got a million of 'em. Awhile back I wrote a bit about how the fault lie with a FaceBook addiction. There is also the old standby; "I don't have anything to write about." Well, if on any given day, time is limited, and for sure it is to some degree, then one can lay some blame on facebook's doorstep. But to say that one has nothing to write about is to say that one doesn't think. Now I don't know about you but thinking is one thing I do constantly, many times to my consternation. So that excuse is lame. You may not be interested in what I'm thinking, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't, couldn't write those thoughts down.

With less and less readers perusing this here blog, well revise that to say, less and less people are commenting on this here blog. That's just a fact, no more to it than that. Then, since I'm under less scrutiny, so to speak, I should feel more free to jot down my daily thoughts, no matter how inane they be.

If you spend any time browsing the millions of blogs on the internet you may have noted, as I have, that two frequent topics that fellow humans discuss, comment on or take note of are the two sayings: "time flies, and life is short." And the older the blogger the more common is aforesaid refrain.

I am reminded daily that in fact we have only the moment, not an hour, not a day, nor even a second moment. I wonder, that if we could keep that thought ever present in our consciousness, how much easier we'd find it to enjoy life; moment to moment. As a former smoker, the thought just occurred to me, If I decided to quit smoking and did so for twenty minutes and then I died I would have been a successful in becoming a non-smoker. Now while that may be seen as a radical oversimplification; is it really?
I spent last year at Massena Memorial, and today it seems but a blink of the eye. Now I'm starting my 7th week at the Harrison Center in Syracuse; seems like I just got here. Each experience is an accumulation of moment to moment interactions culminating in friendships and memories to be cherished and remembered even as I move on to new encounters. If I remember to cherish each moment as the gift it is then at the end of my time I will have had a beautiful existence and perhaps brought some element of joy into some other hearts.

The plan is for D. and I to fly to Panama next Friday with our friends K. and L.. To depart there on a cruise to various Caribbean ports for a week. While many of my moments will be devoted to bringing that endeavor about, for the moment I must leave for the work environs to ply what peace and tranquility I can to those more stressed today than I.

Is that enough rambling and sharing of thoughts for today?


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

9 Ways to Have a Better Day than Yesterday
Did you have a bad day yesterday? If you'd like to start anew and have a better day today, then read on for some tips on how to have a great day today.1. Decide that Today Will Be a Great Day. Make it real by writing it down and saying it out loud to yourself. It may seem kooky but it works. When I set my wakeup alarm on my cell phone, I have this message displayed "Wake up and smile! Today is going to be a Great Day!" Don't be embarrassed. No one needs to know you do this. :)2. Take it Slow. If yesterday was bad or if you are tired today, take it slow to "warm up" before you kick your day into high gear. If you need to, stay in "slow & steady" pace for the whole day.3. Cultivate Compassion, Don't Judge. For a whole day make a pact with yourself not to judge yourself or others. Give everyone, including yourself, the benefit of the doubt for one whole day. Even if you don't believe what you're telling yourself at first, stick with it. It will help change the mental pathways that you tread every day. What do you have to lose except maybe a little misery?4. Observe, Don't React. When you encounter things that would normally make you angry, (traffic, certain people, slow computer, etc), plan to observe these things in a detached way as opposed to reacting with anger. If you are angry a lot, be kind to yourself and figure out what is making you angry. Often reacting in anger is a habit, and the good news is habits can be broken! Start slow. Are you chronically tired? Are you frustrated with something in your life? Write it down or talk it out with a friend and then make a plan to remedy your triggers.
If it's rest you need, take some time, say before bed or first thing in the morning, to mentally review which commitments you could cut back on or delete altogether. By freeing up some time, you could get some more rest, exercise, or time to work on something you want to change
If you're trying to change something in your life to rid yourself of frustration and anger, make a plan, and enlist someone to help you even if it is to just help keep you on track with your plan.
If you are angry about things in your life that you can't control, try to make a small dent in your frustration a little bit each day. A helpful question might be to ask yourself, "How can I be at peace with this situation today?"5. Smile at People. Smile at everyone you meet. Fake it 'til you feel it. Laugh at the ridiculous things that happen in life! Humor is the ultimate for producing a sense of well-being. If humor is not your forte, seek out or call the funniest person you know and tell them you need some jokes to get the ball rolling today.6 Pay it Forward. Do something nice for someone else. Try doing this all day. Compliment people, thank people, let people go ahead of you in traffic or in line. Watch how quickly that goodness comes back to you!7. Treat Yourself! Make it a point to indulge in a favorite treat or activity, or break one of your own rules today. You know that thing you always want to do, but you never allow yourself. Maybe it's a piece of chocolate cake or maybe knock off from work early for once. You could go to the bookstore, see a movie, go to the beach. Or you could include a friend or loved one in on the fun. Maybe you and some friends could go play paintball or go to F1 Go-Carts. Or perhaps you could pick up some food for dinner, grab a blanket, and treat your spouse/friend/kids to an impromptu evening picnic!8. Count your Blessings. Even when things are bad, there are always things to be thankful for. List them out in your head or write them down.9. Get some Great Rest Tonight! You deserve it!Have a great day!


Monday, March 01, 2010

No, really wait. Not so soon; the weekend can’t be over yet. Monday already? I’m not ready! This week will be weighted down with a pall over the workplace. Vijay’s unexpected death will weigh heavily on everyone’s mind. The calling hours are tonight. Snatched from life like a candle flame is snuffed out, he will no longer be a physical presence at our side.
While the weight of waiting has been lifted from him it has grown a little heavier for those of us still in line.

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