Sunday, October 22, 2006

These are the moments that mean the most!

Last year I went to Orange Texas to sell my jewelry at the Third Annual Art in the Park. It was just a little over a month since Hurricane Rita had come thru and tore the people of Orange's world apart. But they came out and tried to enjoy a day of shopping; trying to get past the sorrows they had experienced the last month. On that day, a loving daughter named Margaret Light, came into my booth and purchased a necklace, made of Owyhee Jasper, to give her mother for Christmas.
This year I went back to Orange Texas to sell my jewelry at the Fourth Annual Art in the Park. Just before the sky completely broke loose with rain, in comes a woman pushing a little lady - it was Margaret and her mother! She said, "Mother wanted to come and show you she was wearing your necklace!" She looked at me and said, "I love to reach up and touch it. It feels good to touch!"
I did not know what to say....but thank you! And I ask this...."What could be more beautiful than that?"

Memories of Grandma's Beets....

Every year my Grandmother canned just a few pints of beets. I was the blessed recipient of one of them! I could not wait to twist that cap off and devour those deliciously sweet/sour red chunks of pickled beets! Well, just recently my mother came to visit and what did she bring to little ol' me? A small brown paper bag of fresh okra from her garden, and a pint of her pickled beets! The next day I boiled the okra, sprinkled a bit of freshly ground pepper on top, and proceeded to polish them off! Oh yes, and I added a few chunks of those wonderful beets to my plate! Sound like an unlikely pair? Perhaps. The point is, this made me remember one thing I miss most in this world.....no, not those wonderful home-made pickled beets; but my Granny Schultz. I loved my Granny so much....thanks Mom - for helping me remember!

Allen, the Chef and the Chicken

Allen, John & I attended the Culinary Demonstration & Galley Tour on Friday, September 15th. The Head Maitre D' Luigi Moretti, and Executive Chef, Josef Stummer (below), were the speakers and comedians! They kept us rolling in our seats. The two demonstrated some wonderful dishes; including an Apple Strudel, vienna style, in which the chef used the tablecloth to roll the strudel dough. There was a cookbook for sale, of course. Chef Josef exclaimed, "The cookbook is free, but my autograph will cost $28!" We all laughed, and promptly went thru the galley for the tour. Afterwards, Allen & I got in line to get the free cookbook. When we got to the chef for his authograph, he asked Allen, "Who is the cook in your family?" Allen said, "I am!" The chef took off his hat, plunked it on top of Allen's head, and handed him the rubber chicken. I was waiting for that golden photo opportunity....and here is the results!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Lobster Tail + Baked Alaska = Heaven




We sat down at our tables on the last "formal night" not knowing what delights were in store for us this evening! It was ALL Alaska tonight, so we ordered the lobster - of course! Nickolai extracted each one of them carefully out of their shells (for me)......as I remember Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman - I could see my lobster tail flying across the table landing on Barbara's lap! They were grilled to perfection and extravagantly delicious....but then the lights were turned down low, and viola, the Parade of the Baked Alaska began! They came flaming by - carried by the waiters! I now have a new "favorite" dessert. Just once in your lifetime you MUST try Baked Alaska! I believe I died and went to dessert heaven after eating this! But first, Nickolai, the assistant waiter, came and drizzled the desired amount of warm chocolate sauce right on top! One last shot of our head waiter, David, from South Africa and his assistant, Nickolai, from Romania. They were at our beckon call each and every night. This cruise gave us the lasting memory of a dining fantasy that came to life!

The Salmon Capital of the World - Ketchikan, Alaska

If I could live in any of the ports we visited, Ketchikan would most likely be the candidate, as it is such a quaint, beautiful little town; nestled in the side of the mountains. There were many little houses trailing up the steep roads. We weren't here but for the morning, so we had to pack it in fast.
The name Ketchikan comes from a Tlingit (one of the groups of American Indian people living in Alaska) phrase meaning "eagle with spread-out wings" which refers to a waterfall near town. While the rest of the state focused on gold in the early days, Ketchikan developed its timber and fishing industry-thus why it's called "The Salmon Capital of the World".



Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tracy Arm, Alaska

In recent geological times, within the last 400 years, a glacier sat at the mouth of Tracy Arm depositing large amounts of gravel & rock. This produced a recessional bar seen at low tides. The ebb flood of water into Tracy Arm has carved a narrow opening through which we navigated on this day, September 13, 2006, on the Dawn Princess. Once inside the bar, the water depths increased rapidly to over 1,000 ft.
What made this part of the cruise so, so beautiful was the tremendously steep fjord walls, hanging valleys, many waterfalls and how the rocks of the mountain glistened like they were newely polished, but really, had been done by the the glacier that pushed thru here so many hundreds of years before. The color of an iceburg, like the one above, only comes from a glacier; such as the one hanging between the mountain peeks in the picture below. The ice of a glacier never melts, giving it that beautiful "cornflower" color.....
This is what we saw as we entered Tracy Arm....we had no idea what we were about to see....no, not even a dream could have given us a clue of such breathtaking beauty!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Red Onion Saloon .....est.1898

Skagway's most exclusive bordello....
Opened for business serving alcohol on the first floor while the upper floor satisfied more than the prospector's thirst. The brothel consisted of 10-10x10 cubicles, or cribs. Each had a hole in the floor which connected to the cash register in the bar by means of a copper tube. In order to keep track of which girls were busy, the bartender kept ten dolls on the back bar, one for each girl in each of the 10 cribs. When a girl was with a customer, her doll was laid on its back. When she sent her money down the tube, the doll was returned to the upright position signaling she was ready for business.
Allen enjoyed a glass of Alaskan Smoked Porter and I a glass of Cline Syrah! It was a FUN stop with alot of action upstairs. No...the bordello is closed; only tours telling of what once was!

Skagway....Garden City of Alaska




.....our second port of call. We traced the route thousands of gold rushers used on their way to the Klondike looking for gold via the White Pass route. We rode the White Pass and Yukon Railroad! It climbs from sea level to almost 3,000 feet in just 20 miles! Because the curves are quite tight only a narrow gauge railroad could be used. Building the 110 miles of track was quite a challenge, beginning May 29, 1898; it required cliff hanging, thirty-five thousand men and 450 tons of explosives. Work on the tunnel at mile 16 took place in the dead of winter with heavy snow and temperatures as low as 60 below! It cost approximately $10 million dollars to build and was completed July 29, 1900. One hundred thousand men & women headed north, but only 30 or 40 thousand actually reached the gold fields of the Klondike. Four thousand or so prospectors found the gold, but only a few hundred actually became rich. Now that is what I call persistence!

Juneau

....our first port of call. Juneau is the capital of the 49th state of the United States. It is the only capital you cannot reach by land, only by water or air! It was beautifully crisp (56 degrees) and cool upon our arrival. The clouds hung onto the mountains like a blanket. The tiny boat harbor was like a picture....