Monday, March 31, 2008
  oh, also
she informed chris that the family will be having christmas this year at patty's house, and if he is still with me at that point, he will not be welcome there.

when i told chris this -- he hadn't read the emails -- he just laughed and said, "oh, god, big loss."

obviously, i agree... like i want to eat CHRISTMAS DINNER with this woman. but still. it bothers me that someone would be SO EVIL. i mean, even after everything she had done to me at this point, i never said she wasn't welcome at christmas. i told chris we needed to put her on probation when she stayed at our house. like, "mom, you want to stay here for a week and a half. we'll let you stay here for, say, the first three days, and if you behave yourself and not yell and make us miserable, we'll let you stay longer..."

and i wrote it wrong before... yeah, she's banished. communications from her are banished. she has not been informed of this, as it is better this way, but neither of us are going to be reading her spiteful crap anymore.

thanks for the comments, guys. i don't even know why you would feel the need to tell your son if you didn't think his girlfriend was pretty to begin with... as if this should be some hugely important trait for your daughter-in-law. whatever. but, agh, for ME to see this. i didn't need that. blah.

but anyway. thanks.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
  omigod (she strikes again)
chris came in to get me today to say that his ma had struck again... FIVE emails, did i want to read? he hadn't really read them, but he knows i get a kick out of her craziness, so i was welcome to peruse them if i wanted. it was a mistake.

i'm not going to really go there entirely, but... uhh... part of it was that i am not pretty. insert a story of a guy she knows that married a norwegian girl (yes, norwegian) that is "ten times" prettier than me whose family were dairy farmers. so yeah, not only was she ten times prettier than me, but her family took out a loan so that she could buy a house because they explained to her that in taiwanese families, the wife brings the house. is this that chris needs a second house? a third? wha? anyway, she is now learning to be a good chinese wife and can eat her whatever beef dish with chopsticks like a pro. a dig at my vegetarianism? i dunno.

lots of the emails focused on how pretty i am not. the only thing that is pretty about me is my hair, and that can come out of a clairol bottle. she brought up chris's former love, who was "a beauty queen" and could at least make chris look good from the outside. but stacey, oh stacey... what does stacey have to offer? nothing.

i know she's psycho. i know this. but regardless... to have someone say that about you hurts anyhow. a lot. it was around the beauty queen email that i got up and left the computer and went to straighten up the bathroom, which is what i do when i'm upset. i only looked at parts of a few emails. thank god; i'd hate to see what else she said about me. i don't know if it can be worse than being called unattractive and basically nothing, but i suppose she probably could think of something...

all i gotta say that, if ANY OF MY SELF ESTEEM survives this year, i'll be amazed. between school and this... um, yeah.

on the bright side, she's pretty much a banished subject. communications from her are banished. miserable, miserable person.
Thursday, March 27, 2008

sleeeeeepy sebastian, originally uploaded by estacey.

i am doing the WORST ASSIGNMENT EVER. worst.
and it's due tomorrow. (yes, last minute. it's not entirely my fault. i couldn't get the BOOK IT IS BASED OFF OF for weeks. i tried!)

i want to be sleeping. i am so tired. so. tired.

but instead i am reading crap about how hamlet wanted his mom to be a virgin. ugh. shoot me.

on the brighter side, my family is here and we went to the beach today, and that was fun. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
  Flickr pic meme
Got this off Shannon's blog, 'cause I thought it was cute. :)

1. Go to Flickr (don’t sign in)
2. Type your answer in the “search” box.
3. Pick an image from the first page.
4. Copy and paste your answer.

My first name
(You do NOT want to see some of the matches on the most-interesting first page, although I was happy to note my OWN picture was on the "tags" most intersting first page!)

My relationship status

My favorite color

My celebrity crush


What I'm listening to

My favorite Disney princess

from one of my contacts, even!

My favorite adult beverage

(hey, kids shouldn't drink coffee!)

My dream vacation

galapagos... 2 months, baby!

When I grow up, I want to be...

(happy - in everything i do) (cop-out)

My dearest love

my family - the one i was born into (and that they've grown) and the one i've found, even those that pee on the couch EVERY GODDAMN DAY

One word to describe me


I was born in:

I was raised in:

Blonde or brunette?

Favorite TV show
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
  Changes, changes
We've had so many changes around the house lately. Patty moving out, the shifting of the guest bedrooms, the new doggy gate... And this morning, we had a baby fence installed around the pool. This was set into motion when my sister planned her visit, since her son is of the age when so many kids in Florida drown -- young enough that they may not be able to swim or that they panic when they fall in the pool, but old enough to get out of the house on their own. It seems like every time I read the local newspaper here, I read about a tragedy involving a kid who got out of the house and fell into their or their neighbor's backyard pool. There's actually even a law that any pool built after X year is required to have one of these gates put up, but the ones built before are not.

We had a baby fence put around the pool, this morning

So here is ours. It's... an eyesore. It takes up a lot of the patio. The dogs can no longer run laps around the pool. But... I'm getting used to it. On one hand, we can take it down if we want. We don't have the type of yard that neighbors can get into, after all, unless they come over on a boat. On the other, if we leave it up it will be nice for the lady who cleans our house as she brings her three-year-old with her; she won't have to worry about her little one getting out of the house on his own; she would just have to re-open the panels before she left so the dogs could swim if they want. But I dunno; the jury is still out on this matter. In any case, now we have this for when people visit with their kids, which is a bonus, and for someday when we decide to make this house even more crazy than it is already.

Before I took this picture for Chris so he could see what it looked like, I cleaned up the whole patio. Dog toys, poop, leaves, dirt... It looks pretty good for our back patio. :)

About the cleanest the outside has ever been

Monday, March 24, 2008
the headache is gone! yayayay!

and this muzzle for maggie is just a wonder. she actually is kinda like a normal dog! i get home and can let all the dogs outside and they can ALL go nuts together and i don't have to worry that one of them is going to end up at the ER. she even was able to play tug with sebastian tonight... she can't play with everything with the muzzle, but certain things fit in her mouth still. she only wears it when she needs to, but oh my god it is so great having it as an option.

Can I come in with this?

sebastian wanted to bring this chunk of wood inside to chew on it. he didn't understand why i wouldn't let him. "pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease, stacey?"

and the fence guy finished the fence on the side of the house today, so now our back yard is divided into three sections: one so we can come in and out of the side gate without worrying that the dogs will make a break for it; one for the bulk of the yard; and one for a side grassy "run" area for maggie to spend her time when we're gone. it's pretty much ideal now... the lengths my boy goes to for me and these dogs. :)

also, buddy is spending his time at patty's now, except for a night here and there. and last week our two took turns spending the night over there; this week, they're both staying home. this is actually really good. having just two dogs here is, whoa, different. the dogs actually got walked! and not having to be on buddy pee patrol is a relief. she always told us that he never had accidents for her, so she couldn't understand why he always had accidents for us... but apparently he has already peed on her just-installed carpet. whoops. (not us.)

in other news:

kitten is cute, even though she insists on sleeping on the dining room table. on placemats i had just washed to get the cat fur off.

I had just washed those placemats.  Because they had fur on them.

the whole stack even. ha!
  oh my god, i so did not miss this
i hadn't had to take an imitrex since i was in costa rica. in december. and that was just once or twice, which was a huge accomplishment for me. we've been wondering why the headaches have been so much better...

is it the blood pressure medicine?

is it the fact that i've basically given up on doing exerting things in the heat? the last time i tried to run with chris at, like, 11 a.m. on a hot day, we got a mile from the house and i started to panic when the sun came out... i was fine when it was overcast, but as soon as the sun came out, i foresaw my next three days stuck in bed with a headache, so that run was over.

well, whatever it is, it's working, and that makes me very happy.

i think i got cocky about it and i think i have been sloppy about taking my headache preventative at night, the topamax. you'll notice i say i think i have been sloppy about it. i don't even know. this isn't a good sign, is it? yeah. and i was fighting a headache more or less all weekend, which officially turned into a side-of-the-head migraine last night.

imitrex was taken last night and again this morning. i spent shakespeare wondering if i was going to need to go into the bathroom to puke. wondering if maybe i should try, because it may make me feel better. imitrex always made me nauseous for a half-hour or so, but this made me feel awful from soon after i took it at 7:30 a.m. until into the afternoon...

also, i'm hungry. starving. i remember this... i was always hungry when i was having a headache. too nauseous to eat breakfast, but hungry enough to eat a real lunch (burrito!), which i rarely do, and hungry soon again afterwards, which never happens, even after a good workout.

annoying. i hate headaches. tonight, i fill the weekly pillbox. you know, the days-of-the-week thing. so i don't forget to take the topamax again.

this makes me sad, though. i don't want to take topamax forever. and, you know, i can't. hopefully it's not a lack of topamax that gave me this headache. let's operate on that assumption.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
  easter sunday!
and do you want to know how much i love my chris? i went to the easter vigil with him last night. the TWO HOUR EASTER VIGIL. two hours. at a church. by choice.

i think we were both getting kinda goofy towards the end... in fact, i noticed two people for a fact that gave us smirking, amused looks. you know, older, dad-type people that were probably thinking, "i wish i could act like that, but that's what i tell my kids not to do, so i can't." i'm glad that chris is his usual fun self at church... when i first started going, i thought that i would have to be sourpuss serious the whole time we're there, but now i feel free to nudge chris and make look-at-that eyes in the direction of the old guy in front of us, who is wearing a pair of those pants that you wear when you're traveling. you know, they zip off at the knee. and these pants were purple.

we're usually holding hands or locked at the arms during the service, and at some point chris usually sizes the opportunity of closeness to rest his rosary on my arm, as if this will convert me into catholicism via osmosis. i appreciate his optimistic persistence. :)

but anyway, it wasn't so bad, despite the fact there were no baby baptisms, as promised. i think chris said that just to lure me there. next time he wants me to go to an extra-long mass and he knows i won't fall for this baby stuff, he'll probably say they're giving away kittens or baby sloths or something. but now i'm wise to his ways. though, really, if he wants me to go with him, i still will... if church is something special to him, he probably shouldn't be sitting there alone, after all.

we've been helping patty move this whole weekend. well, i helped chris yesterday. today he's doing it solo so i can get some stuff done here. it's been raining the WHOLE WEEKEND. blah. yesterday we went to lowe's to pick up some stuff and i had to get a lock for the locker at the school gym so i can stop leaving my stuff there with just my crossed fingers to protect it. anyway, chris and i split up and when we found each other later in the plant section, we were both holding the same bright green lock. and this made me happy.

before church we headed out to IKEA for the first time since it opened here... yay, ikea! we just got a few things... 4 lamps! some tupperware (omg, cheap). some magazine files. we were going to get a rug, but it was in the $50 bin but rang up as $200 and hello. i kinda feel like i'd like to go back after doing an inventory here... chris has a lovely house here, but it's definitely missing on the details. (not that chris cares, but i'm a girl, so wish for pretty details.) we've been working hard on scaling back on the clutter (see above: magazine files) and i think it's come a long way, but now that the clutter has been cut back, i think it's time to introduce some good things. maybe time to cover up some of these bare walls, for example. i guess it gives us something to think about. maybe i should try to get some print-worthy pictures... ikea sells 'em pretty cheap, on canvas, but i could probably do something decent and get it printed. at least for the guest bedrooms or something.

ok, gotta go. but first, a story about what a great guy chris is.
i just about ran out of gas coming home from school on wednesday. i didn't have my wallet with me, i had no cash... i was screwed. so i took the slow way home from school and kept my fingers crossed and i made it. thursday night, i realized i needed to go out for gas. i didn't want to go. it was cold. i kept putting it off. eventually, it was after 9 and i'm like, "ugh, i gotta go for gas and i so don't want to." chris is like, "i'll go." this is around the time he likes to start getting ready for bed, mind you. this is after he worked all day and i stayed home, mind you. "really, you want to go?" "i don't want to go, but i'll go for you." and he did. and i was so damn thankful. he's great. :)
Friday, March 21, 2008
  cliche, but true
depressed, depressed, depressed... can't seem to shake it.
it's gotten to the point that i am seeking solace in self-affirmations. believe it or not, they actually kinda work... when you really shouldn't be upset but you are, it's sometimes good to remind yourself why it is that you really have no reason to be feel be upset. (assuming that's the case.) you know, objectively. it does help.

i still felt like shit, though, even after a round of self affirmations after my one and only class today. so much so that i felt like skipping the gym and just coming home and taking a nap, but then i would feel like shit for skipping the gym, and who wants to compound shit with more shit? so i went to the gym and worked out for an hour on the arc trainer and burned 820 calories, and when i came out, the sun was SHINING and i was in a GOOD MOOD and i thought, they weren't kidding about those endorphins, were they?

gotta remember these two methods for feeling better.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
  i just wrong the longest post...

Begging posted by vernacular

and flickr messed up. and i am SO not re-writing it. so let's just recap:

dude. this dog looks like maggie. right? so much like maggie, right down to the expressive ears and the white patch of fur on the chest and the omnipresence of EYE BOOGERS. funny enough, this dog sammy's adoptive parents guess he's a lab/boxer/pit mix. i always wondered if maggie had some pit in her, too... i've never voiced it before, because, well, i ain't a fan of the pit bulls. you can check my archives for that one. but they do have sweet eyes, and she does too.

but, really, these pics are pretty whoa... the first pic i saw of this dog was a puppy pic and i thought, "i bet this is what maggie looked like when she was a puppy," so i looked at grown-up pics of the dog and, i gotta say, i think i'm right!

as a side note, hormones suck. real bad. seems like every worry and doubt i have, big and small... they all bubble to the surface during these 1-2 days a month. thankfully, it doesn't happen EVERY month, but oftentimes. and it's a lot to deal with when it does. and i have OTHER STUFF TO DO besides wallow. like practice this damn khmer rouge presentation i'm giving in 12 hours. but i'd rather look at puppy pictures on flickr, apparently... genocide vs. puppy pictures, hmmm.
  really interesting

adoption day, originally uploaded by minicloud.

i'm a total nerd, because i find this whole chinese adoption thing just enthralling.

number one, because of the reason that there are all these girl babies for adoption. totally messed up.

number two, because omg, every one of these adoption stories is a feel-good happy-ending story, and i am such a sucker for those. because, really, we're in short supply of happy stories these days.

number three, each of the stories is interesting. and lots involve health issues, psychology issues (YOU try to get a two year old to attach to you who has never had a primary caregiver in her whole life), etc. all very interesting stuff.

and just look at this photograph. honestly, you can see the anxiousness just POURING off of these folks. this is "gotcha day" and, in just a few minutes, these now probably childless couples... after probably two years of filling out paperwork and going through home checks and making travel arrangements and writing checks and standing in an aisle at the wal*mart trying to figure out what a 9-month-old girl they have never met may like to play with back at their hotel in nanchang... well, they will be handed a baby. and they will no longer be childless. that makes this a remarkably powerful picture, doesn't it?

if you want to see some great pictures, look up "gotcha day" - good stuff.

Monday, March 17, 2008
  man, i am going to be one grumpy/outspoken old lady

see, when i moved to florida, i was a real sweet girl. so they say.

fast-forward seven years. i'm now hardened and mean. well, not really. but my tolerance for bullshit is seriously, seriously lower than it used to be.

and i know where it started, and where it ended: my old office. the one where i first got a job when i moved here.

how do i know i had a tolerance for bullshit when i started there?

well, they all hated me there, from day one, for absolutely no reason... i was fresh off the bus (well, fresh outta the volkswagon fox) from wisconsin. and i took it personally, blamed it on myself. which is really funny, because i think nowadays if i got some cold-ass attitude from the entire office clique (save for one sweet girl named stephanie)... seriously, the room got quiet when i walked in, and they would just look at me... if the same thing happened now, i'd probably have a very different outlook on the whole thing. back then, it took me years to realize that the one girl probably was harboring a great deal of self-loathing due to a hugely disproportionate ass-to-rest-of-body ratio and therefore was taking it out on the world around her. (no, seriously. the thing was like its own entity. we were all mesmerized as it walked around the office, seemingly by itself. the ass got water and caramel frappuccinos. the ass made copies. seriously, whoa.) they all came around to me eventually, except for the butt girl, which is probably because i have no ass, and therefore she cannot relate to me at all... so hey, i guess it wasn't me.

now, how do i know that i changed while i was working there? they told me as much. i think of this fairly often since i now live basically two houses away from my old boss's old house, where i used to drop off files on a regular basis. i'd give her files, she'd give me tofutti cuties, mmm.

i had to train this chick. she was old and didn't catch on very quickly. that part was okay. she kept messing up. that part was okay too. it affected my job. that part wasn't so okay, but i was being patient. i made her little cheat-sheets. "before you do THIS, check the sheet to make sure you're following the steps i laid out for you, okay?" yet, i'd call other offices to do my job and find out she had done things that had messed things up for me, sometimes badly. this is a legal job, so it's not like this was all okay stuff to mess up. and one day, after i had told her and told her how to do things, she messed something of mine up again, and i happened to be in the throes of really bad pms (i plead the P), and went over to her desk after i got off the phone.

"did you use the sheet when you called them?"

at this point, i went kind of crazy, because she hadn't followed the steps. or she wouldn't have screwed up. i yelled something to that effect. yelled in a way that probably only my mother and ex-boyfriend have ever heard me yell.

so, um, yeah, my boss had a talk with me. i apologized, and i apologized to the lady, who they fired very soon after for messing up so many times (IF THAT TELLS YOU ANYTHING). but during our talk, my boss said: "you're not the same sweet girl you were when you came here." me and my buds at work had a good laugh at that because, you know... okay, i did go a little postal on that lady, granted. but aside from that, i was still myself, only without the welcome mat on top.

but now, a few years later, i'm finding it necessary to give strangers a piece of mind more and more often. you know, the kind of thing that a few years back i used to THINK about saying, i now am SAYING. like to the lady who was basically abusing her kid in the marshalls. i really wanted to steal that little girl, but seeing how that's a felony and all.. i told her to get help, because her daughter was scared of her. it was true, and so sad.

or like the guy who ran over my foot at the airport at grand cayman with his carry-on luggage because he was running to be first in the immigration line, realized it, and still did not stop to see if i was okay or apologize. later, when we were in line, i hobbled over to him in my flip-flops and told him how rude he was, and he continued to be rude about it, but at least i don't have to sit and think, "man, i should've said something." because i did. :)

or, this is really quite funny, because it happened in CHURCH... a couple of weeks ago.

this lady and who i presume to be her mom were sitting in front of us, basically heckling the priest the whole time.

now, this priest replaced a very well-loved guy named father pat who passed away last year. i know he has struggled with being the replacement to someone that everyone loved so much... he's made references to it.

he brings the kids up during the sunday service to tell the stories and sing with them and stuff like that. so while he was telling them a story, this lady in front of me was looking at her mom and making, "do you believe this crap?" faces the whole time. then they sang a song. the father started out singing a verse while playing the guitar, then the kids joined in. the ENTIRE TIME, this lady was making sour faces at her mom and rolling her eyes. AT A PRIEST.

i mean, i'm not a member of this church, or really even of this religion, but i recognize that this man has dedicated his entire life to his faith. whether or not you like his sense of humor or his choice of song is really besides the point... he's teaching a religious lesson, and you're at church to learn it. and, for god's sake, he has the KIDS UP THERE SINGING. KIDS! and YOU ARE MAKING FACES AT IT. AND YOU'RE PISSING ME OFF BY DOING IT. i want to be watching the kids, not be annoyed that the lady in front of me who is blocking my view of them is making faces at the song that they learned for the service this week.

so when the clapping ended at the end of the song (these two old bitties hardly clapped), i said just loud enough for her to hear, "that's a really christian attitude to have." chris elbowed me. i wondered if she heard it...

a little later in the service, the time came for you to greet your neighbor, when you shake hands and say, "peace be with you" to everyone around you. she refused to turn around. (i guess she heard me.)

later on i got a good look at her face, and it seems that she has one of those permanent scowls etched on her face... after a lifetime of being a miserable hag, it's imprinted on her face, i guess. honestly, who comes to church to be negative? go to a different church if you hate this guy that much, because no one wants to see this kinda stuff at a church service, even the girl who's just here to hold her boyfriend's hand...
Sunday, March 16, 2008
  soooooo tiiiiiiiired...

BaYwaTch, originally uploaded by -ViDa-.

i love the hormones.

i slept basically ALL DAY today. seriously. slept late, then napped heavily. for much of the rest of the day, i sat and stared. so. tired. i'm sleeping almost as much as the cats now.

buddy has been gone now since, um... thursday? and it is so quiet here. it's eerie. but nice! i didn't realize how much of the noise came from him. we brought indian over last night to visit, and i think he's happier there.. at any given time, he's only one of two dogs rather than one of four. (right now it's him and sebastian.) so he gets lots of attention. and that special boy needs attention. patty said he follows her around everywhere.

back to homework. up at 1 (not by choice) because i napped all day... good going. :p

Saturday, March 15, 2008
  ahh, spring break

the spring breakers have arrived.

i live right off of A1A. to go ANYWHERE, i gotta drive on A1A. 95% of the time i go anywhere, i end up driving up through lauderdale-by-the-sea, which is a touristy little beach town. they have an ordinance that no buildings can be taller than three stories or something like that, and it really does give it a different look... little houses, apartment buildings, brightly colored motels with the name like the dolphin and ocean reverie, which i've always mean to get a picture of... then the SECOND you leave LBTS for fort lauderdale, bam! highrises. the little places look much more quaint.

needless to say, thanks to the influx of all these tourists, to do ANYTHING now takes twice as long. but it's okay... i just make sure to bring my MP3 player and, for example, today i had to run out and pick up the veggies, so i brought sebastian along for company. i think car rides are pretty much sensory overload for dogs, since they spend the entire time trying to inhale everything, but they seem to enjoy it anyway.

it's really kinda funny... i go to the grocery store across the street, and the kids are everywhere. in little same-sex groups. they all seem to dress the same. they are all buying beer.

today i was stuck in really bad traffic at the beach and was behind a car from texas. a girl was holding her camera out the window and was taking pictures of EVERYTHING. (pot? kettle? i thought it was cute, but also... so weird. this?! this is worth taking pictures of?! then i start to appreciate it all with a foreign eye. little touristy beach towns probably ARE worth taking pictures of if you don't live in one.

the family comes in three weeks. can't wait to show them the beach and the traffic and all this good stuff. :)


george & his carrot, originally uploaded by estacey.

so poor george, who we have determined is a girl, lives all alone. she just sits in her cage all day, staring. the only time she really ever does anything is first thing in the morning, when she demands a treat from me by jumping all over her cage, climbing up the walls, etc.

i've tried to make her life better...

first she got to try to stay outside with the tortoises, which she seemed to love only she got out all the time. i didn't really even mind that, as long as she stayed in our yard, but we'd spot her across the street sometimes and THAT is not good. catching her got harder and harder, to the point that both patty and i would be outside working up a sweat in the bushes to catch her... so she had to come back inside.

i would take her out of her cage and oreo and her would interact, which was good. but they seemed to lose interest in that. now every time i take george out, she jumps right back in her cage. i guess since it's all she's used to... even when i take her out to hold her, she doesn't seem to enjoy it. plus, i break out and sneeze. apparently i'm very allergic to rabbits.

so now i've really been advocating for her to get a friend. from what i've read, bunnies are very social and should have an opposite-sex friend. i've even looked into where we could get the friend neutered and would be willing to fork over the $200 to get it done. i just feel so guilty all the time, with george just laying there in the cage - what kind of life is that? to ease the guilt, i pile on the treats. granola bars, carrots, lettuce, yogurt drops... anything to give her something to do for a little bit.

but patty doesn't have time for another pet, so she said no. i guess patty is planning on taking her to the new house eventually... i really wouldn't MIND it if george stayed here, especially if it meant she got a friend. but chris ain't a fan of this idea (too many pets).

on top of this, patty and i are both total wimps who both avoid confrontation, so i ask of chris, "look at george! what kind of life is this?! two bunnies isn't much more work than one!" and he talks to patty and says, "stacey wants to get you another bunny," and she says, "but i need to study for boards! i don't have time for another pet!" and so on. so, you know, poor chris.

i got really tired of the depressing view this morning and i said, "screw it, george, you're going out." we had made some modifications to the tort enclosure, so i was hoping it would now hold her. i checked on her a bit later, and she was still there. i went to pick up my veggies, came back.... and there she was, sitting outside the enclosure. "ha ha," she seemed to be saying. "nice try." then hopped away.

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. ah well, at least while i was looking for her, i was laying on the ground under the hibiscus bushes and it was breezy and the sun was shining and i was thinking, "well, she must be thinking that this is way better than the cage."

Thursday, March 13, 2008
  alright, so she hates it...

but it has its benefits, this muzzle. she hates it... whenever she is up and running around, she starts to pull at it with her paws and rub against the ground with it. but when she relaxes, she seems to forget it's there...

they all got baths today, and afterwards they all got to laze around in the sun together. it was really a sweet picture. and tonight, i don't have to choose who's sleeping in bed with us based on the fact maggie can't be around anyone else. this is good.

not much going on here... getting back into my routine after spring break. i was actually sick over the weekend and the beginning of this week. i stayed home from school on monday. by tuesday, after umm... 10 days of no real obligations, i was so confused. the pool guy rang the doorbell and i was all annoyed (it was early; i was still in my pajamas). "why is he here TODAY? he's supposed to come on TUESDAYS." i was thinking it was thursday. on tuesday. yeah, when you don't know WHAT DAY IT IS, it's time to get back into the swing of things.

ok, time to go uhh.. go to bed, i guess. no class until 2 p.m. tomorrow (early class is canceled, woo hoo). this life is, well, really weird sometimes.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

ghost dog, originally uploaded by estacey.

it's really remarkable how much having a pet (or in our case, lots of pets) is, like, parenthood. mini-parenthood.

the reasons i know this?

well. first of all, chris is a really good dog & cat daddy. really. chris is just.. he's just the best. i cannot complain about anything. he is uber-responsible in all areas of life. back when oreo used to insist on getting up at 6 a.m. on saturday, he would get up and let her outside. (on the days i was awake to witness this, i would just lay there and think, oh my god, he's doing this for MY cat?! not just nudging me and saying, "your cat wants outside, get up.") really, really a good dude. i have no doubt about what kind of dad he would be. when i hear the "my husband does nothing" stories other women tell, i know for a fact that would not be my chris.

and then there's the fact that we actually argued the other day, over buddy and all this peeing. and that we were not seeing eye to eye on how to remedy it. chris is the strict one, see. i felt he was punishing all the dogs for what, in fact, was just what really buddy was doing. we both needed to calm down, and we did, but not before we both got mad at each other for not listening to or appreciating the other's point of view. and really, when you think about it, we have a really good thing going on: he's the strict one, and i'm the softie. isn't that usually the way it is in the mom/dad dynamic? we temper each other. if we can think of solutions that make us BOTH happy (and they are there), we'll have a really good thing going on. that got me to thinking how similar this must be to raising a kid... you gotta trust your partner's sensibilities, and you gotta give a little.

then last night, this pet/parenthood point was driven home. i went in to kiss chris good night, since i was staying up late to study. maggie went with me, since wherever i go, she goes. she jumped up on the bed and gave chris a kiss, too (of the french variety, which is maggie's specialty). only when i went to leave, she stayed planted on the bed, in a little ball, looking up at me. i came back in twice, asking, "maggie, you coming?" nope. she wanted to stay in bed with chris.

going back to the living room, i'm like, "OH MY GOD. it's happening." since i've been home for the past week, i've had to be the disciplinarian. especially with maggie, since if she's not wearing her muzzle, i make her stay right next to me if sebastian is out. (the muzzle is a new thing we're trying out so she doesn't have to be outside all the time when the other dogs are in.) and since daddy chris is just home for mealtime and kisses, now HE'S going to be the favorite... now i'm just a nag. i see how it is. and i felt really guilty for having to discipline her, even though i love on her 50x more than i make her "sit" or "stay."

then again, maybe she was just tired.

Monday, March 10, 2008
  forever lily
yesterday i went to the bookstore for a class thing.
i ended up in the education/parenting section looking up dyslexia when i happened across this book.

i finished it last night. it was a really quick read, especially after i gave up on reading the lengthy dreams she recounted throughout the book that i guess coincided with the story, but dude.

really neat story. and true! basically, this chick, beth russell, goes with her friend alex to china because alex has to finalize the adoption of a little chinese girl. after the adoption is basically complete, alex freaks out and says she can't do it; she doesn't want to take this baby home.

by this time, russell is enamored of the "spindly" little baby and has seen the baby come around wonderfully with just a few days of love and care (and food!) and thinks that there is NO WAY they can send her back to the orphanage. a trip to the orphanage cements this resolution. it is so cold there. there is just one caretaker to per 40 or so babies, and the babies are all placed in cribs, alone, or high-chair type seats where they are immobile for the day. only 1/3rd of the babies get adopted out... the folks at the orphange are not comfortable saying how many survive. those who do survive to adulthood get "trained for occupations"... russell fears that many of these young girls end up as prostitutes.

so what she decides to do is... adopt the baby herself. !!! this lady who has no children, who decided she did not want children, was so in love with this baby after two days, that she decided she wanted to adopt her. and her husband agreed to it, without her even asking.

i don't want to explain the whole book, but it was a really great story. adoption is a really great thing. :)
  agggh (take 543)
patty decided to not take buddy to her new place yet. as if to thank us for the hospitality, he pissed all over the couch tonight. not the vinyl-covered one either, but the living room couch. the good couch. and the accompanying ottoman. i discovered it rather late tonight when toddling out in my pajamas with a book to keep the still-hyper maggie company... cleaning up yet more doggy pee was not exactly what i had in mind.

someone earlier did piss on the vinyl-covered couch, on the blankets, so i got to take care of that today, too. it was a both-couch day! this goes down in the record books! i don't know who to blame for that one. possibly mr. buddy gump here, but i can't blame him for everything.

seriously. when i first met chris, we hardly EVER had issues with the dogs. lately, it's every single day. it's like... i dunno... they saw maggie pee on the floor when we got her and ever since, they've thought, "well, heck, if SHE can do it there, why the heck am i going all the way outside?"

ah well. i guess i have to count my blessings. at least it's not the CATS peeing all over everything. that would be cause for abandoning the house...
Sunday, March 09, 2008
  book project

my nephew kyle who is coming later this month is apparently scared of the water, so his mama kelli is hoping this visit will help him get over his fear a little bit. every time we've talked on the phone, we've been very happy-happy about the pool and swimming and everything. "kyle, you get to come swim in the POOL at aunt stacey's house???"

the other day i got 15 or so pictures printed of stuff from around the house, like the dogs and cats, the boat, macy on the boat from when she was here, etc. and put them in this mickey mouse photo album. i put a couple of pictures of the pool, too.

maybe it's a silly idea, but i think for a 3-year-old, a trip to FLORIDA, is going to be big. it's not wisconsin, you know? so i'm sending this book this week and he'll have some time to look at the pictures and, when he gets here, he'll at least have an idea about boats and our dogs and maybe he'll remember me and chris from the pictures and all that.

i showed it to chris and he goes, "wow, you really wish you had a kid, don't you?"

then he started reading it. the first picture is a picture of me. "i'm your aunt stacey, remember me?" chris added, "and i have waaaaay too much time on my hands." the next picture was me and chris. "remember chris from when he visited played with you and your tent at goose island, and also, i have too much time on my hands." har har har. :D

well, i hope the kid has fun here, at least. if i am never going to be around, i at least want them to associate aunt stacey with good times...

Saturday, March 08, 2008
  omg omg omg omg
lucky me, i got to skip the breakfast. chris tried to wake me up this morning... "i'm going to costco," he said. i thought this meant he had tried to wake me up earlier and i wouldn't wake up, so now he was leaving and it was too late. this has happened before. (it was 7 a.m. or so.) i'm like, "oh, okay." apparently they didn't eat anyway; chris's mom just yelled at him for an hour or so and then he snuck out. ahh, quality time.

she liked me when she met me, apparently. this was a first, chris said; she usually didn't like his girlfriends. no one is good enough. i guess that's changed. maybe since the speaking-up incident. i asked what she said today. did she talk about me? i asked. yeah, chris said. what'd she say? you don't want to know, chris answered. yes, i do.

well... she said i'm lazy, that i'm not a hard worker like the people in their family. i guess this means i'm not a DOCTOR. she said i'm messy. well, okay, i give her that one, but i do TRY. (i'm cleaning out the kitchen closet and the garage right now!) she said that my family is not like their family, that they are not hard-working like their family... this is where i just want to steam over.

she's never met my family... she actually does not know anything about any of them... they are not doctors... they do not hold masters degrees or phds... they are, in fact, mostly blue collar workers. but you can kiss my ass if you are going to act like that is anything you can put down. my pregnant sister works for 10-hour shifts on her feet and then goes home and takes care of her son and husband... how can you say that's not working hard? my other sister and her husband (who has two jobs) work very hard so they can provide for their kids and are making sure that both of them have the opportunity for an education. how the hell can you put any of that down? how can you try to tell your son that his girlfriend and where she comes from is not good enough? and then she said something about, "and i don't think she's a gold digger, but..." ??!! what the fuck is that supposed to mean?

i'm a little hurt, a little mad, a little frustrated... so all i can say is that she is lucky she is going straight to the airport tomorrow without stopping by here.
  poor little kitty
i'm sure you've all seen the story about the kitten who survived a trip in a shipping crate, right? it lived for over a month while it crossed the pacific ocean in a shipping crate. i won't mention the sad part of the story because sometimes it's good to focus on the happy, right?

i had to call chris in to take a look at this picture. see, we always tease oreo for being a hitler cat. and, um, this cat...

really kinda has her beat in the hitler-cat department.

thankfully, everyone loves a story like this and she'll probably have a hundred adoption offers so she'll have a happy ending.
  things have gone downhill since i got back from the caymans...
what is http://www.elegant/?

i have some suspicious charges on my debit card, and i used it to pay my phone bill online at the hotel computer on grand cayman. mistake! (well, it's only one suspicious charge so far. i am guessing i should just cancel the card, but i have a couple of important charges that are pending...)

you know better

THE DOGS WON'T STOP PISSING ON EVERYTHING. mainly buddy, but the others get in on it here and there. we make him wear a diaper in the house now, but he pissed on that even. so today i washed it. in a moment of being distracted today, i let him in the house (since he can't be outside at the same time as maggie now) and forgot our bedroom door open. he must've gone straight for the bedroom, because by the time i realized it he had made a puddle on the carpet and marked the bedskirt. i put him in a crate because it's the only place i had to put him while i dried his diaper and he barked for an hour straight. tonight, he pissed in his diaper again. my only consolation is that he going to live with patty on sunday. i love the little guy and all, but he's her dog after all... and she's got all those nice, bare floors. i'll be content to visit. (i think the romance ended when he started not minding wet diapers. and this whole maggie-separate-from-all-other-dogs-but-still-no-fence-built thing. that definitely complicated matters.)

also, one of the cats pissed on the living room rug while we were away. we had to play a game of "Find That Smell" to figure out where they had been bad... and sebastian pissed on our coffee table while we were gone, too. i attribute both of those rare accidents to them being mad. but honestly, can't they think of something better than PEEING ON FURNITURE to show anger and resentment for being abandoned? piercings, tattoos, a job dancing at the booby trap, date the big burly black cat down the street, SOMETHING???

i am really, really tired of cleaning up pee, and really tired of the smell of effing resolve carpet cleaner. i can't wait until this plague of piss stops so we can get our carpets steam-cleaned. and if mystery puddles come out of nowhere once he's gone, we're going back to crate-training because this is unacceptable.

can you tell i've been stuck at home with no car this week? chris's parents have one of them since they're in town... we were going to rent one but then realized i didn't have class so cancelled the reservation. today i felt like a SAHM who had a really day with the kids. seriously.

must avoid pregnant sisters

my sister who is visiting was seriously pissing me off. she wants me to do her a favor before she comes, namely find a toddler-size car seat for her with a budget of $10. this is so she does not have to check hers, as she is worried they will lose it, even though she is checking baggage. do not even get me started.

i actually wouldn't mind this if she had asked me instead of told me, and hopefully with a little less attitude. i tried, and so far have really been unsuccessful as i'm not willing to drive 2 hours round-trip for this task. she basically hung up on me today when i was trying to carefully explain to her why it would just be much easlier and more realistic for her to check her car seat. like everyone else does.

i will blame her fluctuating pregnant hormones on the enormous amounts of attitude she was throwing my way with her suggestions like, "just go to some rummage sales, you find them all the time there." like i'm gonna just spend every saturday between now and her visit poking around at rummage sales, hoping to find a car seat. ??? i will give this lady a kidney, but give up a weekend day when all she has to do is CHECK THE DAMN CAR SEAT, i will not do. thankfully, it is all resolved now. chris be my knight in shining armor and found a co-worker with a spare... :)

last meal

chris's parents have been here since last wednesday, but chris advised his mother that they would not be staying here. she was here for something like 2 weeks at christmas and spent the entire time yelling, insulting her absolutely lovely kids, etc. we really weren't up for that this time, and they're here because patty just got a house anyway, so why not stay there?

so we've managed to be parent-free this whole time... but since they're leaving sunday, we're going up to have breakfast with them tomorrow. his mom is probably still mad at me for talking back...

this is sometime after christmas. we had left the quiet safety of the bedroom to make some lunch and she started yelling at chris again and my heart just sank. chris asked her to stop and said she was upsetting me and she asked why would stacey be upset and then GLARED AT ME, expecting an answer, and i figured, okay, here's my chance. so i said in a very, very small voice that it was because she had been yelling the whole time she was there and we have a pretty happy house so we're not used to all this yelling, and we really just wanted to eat, maybe without the yelling. to this she responded something very rude which i will not repeat here and which this day she denies she ever said - and now she's been mad at me ever since, if that makes any sort of sense, but i think i'm in good company with who else she's been mad at, so hey..

well, wish me luck!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
  Jane Goodall lecture

Last Wednesday, I had the good fortune to get to go see Jane Goodall speak at FAU. She started a bit late because they had more people in attendance than they had projected. Yay, Jane!

Lots of times when I'm really looking forward to things, I worry that I won't enjoy them as much as I was hoping. Like when I saw the belugas at the Shedd aquarium: I had just cried myself through this sad, they're-doomed book, and when I saw them in person, I was kinda like, "Oh, they're cute." But it was no soul-moving experience.

So while I was sitting waiting for Dr. Jane to appear, looking at the empty podium (with that banana-eating monkey at its side), I was wondering if I would be disappointed. Or, not disappointed, but... not moved, as I was expecting I would be. After all, it was JANE FREAKING GOODALL.

No. No, no, no, no. Not disappointed.

As I've expressed numerous times on this thing, I find people's actions deplorable. I wonder how on earth people can be as awful as they are. For a recent example, how about this pro golfer who premeditatedly (he spent 10 minutes shooting balls at it) killed a red-shouldered hawk because its call was messing up the filming of a TV show? Please please please let his sponsors drop him.

This lady... she's the opposite. Not only has she accomplished remarkable things... Honestly, read up on her story and you will be so impressed. But she's just sweet as hell, and maintained this hopeful optimism in the shadow of some really horrible things*. It's people like her that make me want to be a better person (WWJGD?), and people like her that give me hope. Hokey? Maybe. But it's true. I was tearing up while she was speaking, putting my camera down so I could heavy sigh and just listen.

Oh, and don't you know that I love to read her stuff because it makes me feel like a non-oddball. In one of her books, Jane talks about how she collected seashells from the beach one day. It turned out they were still alive, filled with little sea snails. When Jane's mom told her they'd die if they didn't get back to the sea, she became hysterical and everyone helped so they could get them back to the water. I love stories like this, because then thinking back to when I would tear off tiny bits of sandwich meat for the spiders living in my closet because I was worried they weren't finding enough insects in there makes me think I have something in common with someone great. Instead of, you know, what this affinity for animals usually gets me, which is being accused of being a crazy cat lady or something.

So anyway, after the lecture, I waited in line for 45 minutes or so to get one of my books signed, but then I had to leave to get to the airport to leave the car for Chris's parents. I was thinking the whole time about the fact that I maybe will NEVER get to meet her. So after I picked Chris up, I said, "Let's go back to Boca." And so we did. Chris was really happy. Hehe.

I got a picture and one of my books signed, and I got to talk to her. My voice was shaking the whole time. I was so ready to cry; I probably sounded so silly. I basically said something really cheesy (but true), that I was happy that people like her existed, and thanked her for being her. At some point, she stopped signing the book she was working on and looked at me, probably wondering what was wrong. When I thanked her for being her, she answered in this great accent: "Thank my mothah." I giggled the whole way out the door: "Thank my mothah."

If you don't know why she responded this way, if you're gonna have some babies ever, read her story. It coincides with this picture, with the egg-laying story. As a little girl, she disappeared for hours one day because she had staked out a chicken coop to figure out where the heck eggs come from. Finally, she got to see a chicken lay and egg. She ran back to the house. Everyone was relieved to see her since they had been so worried she was gone for something like four hours, but her mother saw the excited look on Jane's face. So instead of starting to punish her for being gone, she sat down and listened to the this wonderful discovery about where eggs come from. How great is that? Her mother nurtured her and this curiosity at every step, rather than trying to hold her back. Jane tied this into what she's seen with chimpanzee mothers, how the chimps with the nurturing, protective but not overbearing mothers were the chimps that were later successful in their society, whereas the opposite was true of the chimps with the over-punitive mothers.

So anyway, yay Jane. :) Read up on her if you don't know about her already. Her Jane Goodall Institute (which I just joined; it's $35) is doing some great things, which she talked about at the lecture, including their own shade-grown coffee and micro-lending programs (she gave a shout-out to my hero, Muhammad Yunus). Go see if she's coming around. She's inspiring. :) She'll get you thinking... WWJGD?

*Although most of her lecture was very optimistic... Its title was Reason for Hope, after one of her books, after all... she did give a nod to reality. Including the fact that the population of chimps in the wild has gone down from about 1 million when she began to study them about 30 years ago to about 200,000 now. !!! And one horrible image she shared with us, when asking how people can feel unmoved to help a creature in need... A baby chimpanzee for sale in a market in Africa, its mother butchered for meat for sale beside it. Can you imagine?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008
  The Caymans!
So we just got back. It was fabulous! :)

Grand Cayman from the air
My picture, Grand Cayman from the air

We flew out Friday, after class/work. Got there at, like, 8:30... We got a taxi (which drove on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD) and went to try out the Sunset House.

Angry Cabbie
My picture of Grand Cayman's own angry cabbie

We were playing our accommodations by ear, so we went there hoping they would have space. They did, but for um... well, a bit more than the book said we would expect to pay there. Since it was late, Chris decided to just go ahead and stay there for the night, we would look for someplace more reasonable the next day, etc.

I am so glad that it worked out this way because this place was perfect! It is a little hotel resort thing that is catered specificially towards divers.

They also have a nice restaurant there, that the locals actually come to eat at during their lunch hour -- it's not just some crappy hotel restaurant. The funniest thing is that the restaurant is run/owned by Indians, so they have the usual seafood fare, but they also have Indian food, so Chris was in heaven, eating spicy Indian for every meal. AND you have the option of eating inside, or by the water, OR at the bar by the water, which is obviously less... well, stuffy. So that was great. We actually did leave the resort a few times to eat, but having all that on-site was fabulous.

Onto the diving. They have a dive shop on site, with boat dives leaving every morning from the dock at the back of the hotel. Aside from boat dives, they have shore diving -- RIGHT THERE. Like, you can walk out of your hotel room, walk down the stairs to the locker they've let you use to store your gear, suit up, grab a tank from the huge rack they have just sitting out, and walk a stone's throw (maybe two throws) to the water's edge and hop in... and you're diving. And not Lauderdale-by-the-Sea shore diving, either. We were down 25-50 feet the whole time, seeing sea turtles and groupers and all sorts of stuff. I didn't realize that we would have shore diving, so that was a nice surprise.

Divers getting ready to go out.
My picture

Obviously, we decided to stay at the Sunset House for the rest of the vacation.

So Saturday we slept in. They had warned us when we checked in that they had been experiencing some windy weather, so they weren't sure if the boats would be going out the next day. I thought, "Great, the whole vacation is ruined," thinking we were in for a windy few days. But the weather was perfect Saturday, and for the rest of our stay too. Perfect. So Saturday afternoon we did a shore dive. We started out in this little pool, since it looked like a friendly little area.

My picture

The dive was nice, and Chris navigated us right back to where we needed to get out. Right about now, I'm wishing I took notes since I am blanking on all the details... Not only of the dive, but of what we did which day.

We did see this mermaid statue, by accident. It was actually quite pretty, and very big, and Chris managed to crack me up underwater. It made me spit out my regulator. Heh. The poor mermaid... As you see, she's covered in marine growth, algae and whatnot... Strangely enough, her nipples are PERFECTLY SHINY AND CLEAN. She must get molested on a daily basis. Rubbed for luck, maybe?

Not my picture


I got my own picture of the mermaid by the pool. Not quite the same effect. :)

Mermaid like the one we saw diving.

Here's a YouTube video of the statue, which is kinda cool. It shows a grey angelfish... Chris had one of those following him on every dive, it seemed... And the video also shows a sea turtle and stuff. Gives you non-divers a little taste of what diving really looks like. Damn, I gotta get that little camera fixed; doing little videos like this would rock.

Sunday we did a boat dive, which was a big fiasco. They basically moved us onto the 1st boat (we were scheduled for the 2nd) without telling us, then blamed us for not checking the board (as if anyone told us we needed to), and Chris couldn't find the key for the locker (as you're being rushed is NO TIME TO TRY TO FIND SOMETHING)... And of course, all the staff is British (no offense) and not working for tips so everyone is being rude. But we ended up getting on the boat finally and everything is fine, although everyone is probably annoyed with us. Whatever.

The dives were really nice. We did a really cool dive... The only way I can describe it is that the underwater terrain there is really awesome. Lots of swim-throughs and stuff. We went down to 120 feet on this dive, which is by far the deepest I had ever gone, but I discovered it was really no big deal. The weirdest part was the feeling that I was "climbing" upwards as we swam to 100, then 90 feet, etc. We had tunnels to go through, walls to go up... There was a wall that you could see down FOREVER it seemed. It was just very interesting and far from just more reef and more reef. The second dive was a wreck that had basically fallen apart. The bow was intact, but that was it, and everything else was laying in piles in the sand.

Not my picture, of the Oro Verde (yes, it was used to transport weed)

Oh, look, a YouTube video of diving the Oro Verde, too.

I thought the funniest part was that, since the bow was intact, there were three portholes along the one side. I was making my way along them and peering inside, blocking the light out of the sides of my mask so I could see the fish taking refuge inside the boat.

Fairy Basslet, not my picture, duuuuuh

This little fish, just like the picture above, kept meeting me at the porthole and staring at me. The same fish, every time. Mind you, these guys were EVERYWHERE in the Caymans -- everywhere -- and it seemed that about 50% of the time, they were swimming upside down, or at least sideways, but there was just this ONE on this side of the boat. And he REALLY wanted to know why I was being so nosey. I like to anthropomorphize; it makes life more amusing. :)

Another great sight Sunday was on the first dive. There was a sea turtle and a queen angelfish, eating something off a rock (?) together. Just going crazy. All the divers got fairly close to them, but they didn't care - they just kept eating and eating.

Monday we did our boat dives in the morning, some more nice dives... Another deeper, explore-the-underwater-terrain dive, and then a go-off-in-your-buddy-pairs dive at a shallower spot. It was nice. Since we knew we couldn't dive Tuesday, after we warmed up and dried off back at the hotel, we did a shore dive there. After all was said and done, that day was a FOUR SEA TURTLE DAY. :) Chris is better at spotting them than me, since I'm usually staring at something like an arrow crab. I think I only spotted one of them on my own (maybe two; I do remember making the signal to Chris for sea turtle), and it was because we were swimming out for our shore dive and I looked down and saw a sea turtle and said, "It's a sign! This is where we go down!

The funny thing is, the sea turtles are really friendly in the Caymans, despite the Caymanians' tendency to eat them.

Apparently turtle is one of their national dishes
My picture

They let us get ridiculously close. I wasn't stupid... I didn't TOUCH them or anything, but I would swim up and look at their flippers and their shells and smile at their little sea turtle eyes and my good fortune, and they would just kinda hang out. The one did a turn at me, swimming to the side, not even half-heartedly away from me. Two of the four ended up leaving to go up for air. I was curious how long they would stay up, so I sat there, kicking my fins 10 feet off the sand and looking up. They both disappeared in the second it took me to look down to make sure I wasn't sinking towards the sand/reef. Their silhouette as they floated on the water's surface was something else, though...

Oh, let's not forget my favorite sighting on the dives. Favorite. A baby trunkfish. SO CUTE. I was so happy to see it, especially since he was tucked away in a crevice and trying very hard to hide from me. Too bad the lady with the fancy underwater camera wasn't around... Even though we saw a sea turtle on this dive, too, the first thing out of my mouth as I got on board the boat was, "I saw a baby trunkfish!!!"

Oh, another favorite part was all the garden eels. When you first look out into the sand, your first assumption may be that they're just marine weeds or something, but then it dawns on you: they're fish!

Up close:

You can't get too close to them, but it's crazy to watch them swaying in the current... fields of them. When you approach to get a better look, they disappear down their little burrow.

So the dives were great. It had been a while... I was happy to be back in the water. The temperatures were something like 80 degrees, yet I was still cold in my 3mm wetsuit, which scares me quite a bit considering Galapagos is only a couple of months away. But even when I'm cold, I'm happy underwater. However, I definitely think that 7mm is in my immediate future...

We decided to rent a car yesterday so we could explore the island a little during our non-diving day today, so we got a Swift from Andy's Car Rental. It was a GOOD MOVE.

Our cute little rental car, a Swift!

A good move not only for the sake of independence and adventure, but also for the fact that it was good for laughs. Chris didn't get the hang of the turn signal until today, so all of yesterday would turn the windshield wipers on every time he wanted to signal. EVERYTHING IS ON THE WRONG SIDE, see. I kept walking over to the driver's side to get in. He would reach down to the right for the gear shift, when it was actually on the left. Et cetera. Good times.

roundabouts are FUN.  seriously.

The Caymans are a British territory. You can't really tell, actually, except that they have the Queen's portrait on their money and on a building here and there, and there is a Ye Olde Bakery & Tea Shoppe here and there. And the whole driving-wrong-side thing. And the kids in the schoolyard were playing CRICKET. I thought it was soccer, but not even... I mean, honestly, cricket?? Do kids play cricket in Britain, even?

And then there are the roundabouts! They were fun! We only had to go around one of them twice, so I think Chris is definitely and officially a Very Good Driver. :) I would've been white-knuckled and crying if forced with both driving on the wrong side of the road, while sitting on the wrong side of the car, and ALSO faced with a roundabout, so I am very impressed.

Anyway, the driving around, yesterday and today, was really nice. We drive around most of the perimeter of the island today, I think. The Caymans are obviously not a poor nation -- I think they have as many BMWs there as in South Florida -- but we saw some of the obviously not-affluent parts today. I think some of the houses that were just wrecked by hurricanes and never built back up. Some other houses, they were just shacks on the beach... Poor folks living oceanfront. It is really a gorgeous place. Feels very much like an island. Feels very small, as it is.

Over the Edge Cafe - where we ate today

This is where we ate lunch today. I guess it got really damaged in Ivan a few years back. Look at that water! It was nice, and quiet, and not at all touristy. Chris got his oxtail, I got my pancakes; we were both happy.

I also had a little gang of curly tail lizards begging for food. Since this happens at home with the dogs, and they all know to beg from me, this was hilarious. "Chris, why are they all looking at me?" I asked. Chris answers, "You know why." Not one to disappoint, I shared my honeydew. :) We have these lizards in Florida, too, but they are non-native and detrimental to our ecosystem, so it was nice to see them in one where they belonged.

This little guy was begging for food.

I went out to give my leftovers to a dog I saw hanging around outside. Thankfully, there were only a few dogs running loose there and they all appeared to be well fed. This guy did, too, but I wasn't going to eat the pancakes, so I wrapped them up and brought 'em outside. I started petting the dog and saw that he was crawling with fleas. And I found two ticks, on just the one side. I started picking fleas off him, but it was just a ridiculous task. I felt horrible. He must've had hundreds on him; I go crazy if I see one on one of my animals. I mean, I've been bitten by a flea before.. and it ain't a good feeling. And then the ticks.. Agggh. So I pet him for a while, but in the end just had to leave, feeling bad. I mean, I'm glad the restaurant feeds him, but... I'm like, how hard would it be for SOMEONE to give this fella a bath? His fur is WRITHING with parasites! How can that not get to SOMEONE that sees him regularly? Blah.

Okay, so anyway, Grand Cayman was really nice. Chris, a spectacularly busy, energetic person, was complaining that there is nothing to do there but dive (this is pre-car rental), so I reminded him over and over that he has to learn to RELAX. (And then I made fun of him: "My name is Chris, and I hate birthdays and vacations and relaxing..." Of course, whenever I make fun of him like that, he just reminds me that I love him so, really, he can't be that bad. Dammit, he has a point.)

And, bless his heart, he did relax:


A little. :) Yes, that's Chris, sitting by a pool, reading a book. I was so, so proud. I had to scramble to get my camera out.

We actually watched the sun set every night we were there, I think.

We went to the IGA for some snacks and headed to the beach for sunset after our dive on Monday.

Chris watching the sun set.

It was good.

When we got back into George Town today, or where the cruise ship all disembark, we saw that there were two cruise ships docked. Then we saw the throngs of people.

Two cruise ships descend upon George Town, Grand Cayman.

We had been walking through this area and this whole thing is a GHOST TOWN, except when the cruise ships are in. It's eerie. There are all these stores that just open just for the cruise ships. And it's all SO FAKE. The souvenir shops, the pirate ship tour, the submarine tour, the Hard Rock Cafe, the clothing stores... After exploring the whole island for the day, driving back into THIS and the tourists walking through what they thought was "the Caymans" made us both just shake our heads. It may as well be Disney World, you know?

Funny enough, when Chris's mom found out we were going to the Caymans (which blissfully coincided with her visit to South Florida), she was semi disgusted and said, "Why would you want to go there? We stopped there once when we were on a cruise and there's nothing to do." I guess if I thought The Caymans were just another version of Key West and I didn't dive to boot...

Now we're back in Fort Lauderdale and... Well, just like when we came back from Costa Rica, it all of a sudden seems very big and loud here. I can't wait until this summer when we can spend some quiet weekends over in the Bahamas.

So anyway, to recap: Caymans = good. The people seem to be a little on the rude side, but at least they are very polite drivers. The diving is good. I don't have much to compare it to, but Chris has been diving all over the world and says it is good diving, so there you go. A car rental is highly suggested. Tada! I'm going to bed now. :)
I'm Stacey. I'm a 31(!)-year-old Wisconsin girl living in sunny South Florida. The highlights in my life are my lovely boyfriend, my aloof cats, my adorable/adoring stepdogs, my two lumbering tortoises, select family members, being outside, being underwater, taking pictures, yadda yadda. Stay tuned for lots of babbling!

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States


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Making a difference

A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and he spent much of his time exploring the seashore.

One day the boy learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand.

When the tide went out, he went down to the beach, began picking up the stranded starfish, and tossing them back into the ocean.

An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what the boy was doing. Seeing the man's quizzical expression, the boy paused as he approached. "I'm saving the starfish!" the boy proudly declared.

When the neighbor saw all of the stranded starfish he shook his head and said: "I'm sorry to disappoint you, young man, but if you look down the beach, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look up the beach the other way, it's the same. One little boy like you isn't going to make much of a difference."

The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up another starfish, tossed it out into the ocean, and said: "Well, I sure made a difference for that one!"

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