I got this email last year from my friend Mark when I wrote a post about Veterans Day. I thought this year it’d make the perfect post. Thanks, Mark! This post will write itself!
Thank you Rinda, it was a perfect reading for me none of us do this looking for appreciation. You met me after I had already served 3 years in the Marines, but I remember at Lima Senior looking around after Graduation wondering what do I do now? The Marines found me and kept hounding me for months I’m Thankful I listened, and earned the rights to be called a Marine. The most important life skill I learned was self-esteem trust me before than I lacked that, but becoming a Marine I learned these 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits that I used throughout my lifetime:
Definition: Justice is defined as the practice of being fair and consistent. A just person gives consideration to each side of a situation and bases rewards or punishments on merit.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be honest with yourself about why you make a particular decision. Avoid favoritism. Try to be fair at all times and treat all things and people in an equal manner.
FYI- Lady Justice is an ancient symbol that goes back to Greek and Roman mythology. She’s pictured blindfolded to show that she’s fair and impartial. She holds a scale to show because she balances the strengths and weaknesses of a case. And she carries a sword to show her authority, and that justice should be swift and final.
Definition: Judgment is your ability to think about things clearly, calmly, and in an orderly fashion so that you can make good decisions.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can improve your judgment if you avoid making rash decisions. Approach problems with a common-sense attitude.
FYI- You don’t have to be a judge to make good decisions. If you don’t want to make rash decisions, slow down! Breathe. Sleep on it. Talk to friends and family. Do any or all of these, and you’ll make a good decision. Don’t worry. If you do your best, that’s enough. There is no more, plus you can learn from your mistakes.
Definition: Dependability means that you can be relied upon to perform your duties properly. It means that you can be trusted to complete a job. It is the willing and voluntary support of the policies and orders of the chain of command. Dependability also means consistently putting forth your best effort in an attempt to achieve the highest standards of performance.
Suggestions for Improvement: You can increase your dependability by forming the habit of being where you're supposed to be on time, by not making excuses and by carrying out every task to the best of your ability regardless of whether you like it or agree with it.
FYI- If you’re dependable, you are like solid gold. You will never be the weakest link in the chain.
Definition: Initiative is taking action even though you haven't been given orders. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods being available to you.
Suggestions for Improvement: To improve your initiative, work on staying mentally and physically alert. Be aware of things that need to be done and then to do them without having to be told.
FYI- When you take the initiative, you could be raising your hand or sharing an idea. You’re being brave because you’re daring to be wrong. You’ll never be right unless you dare to be wrong.
Definition: Decisiveness means that you are able to make good decisions without delay. Get all the facts and weight them against each other. By acting calmly and quickly, you should arrive at a sound decision. You announce your decisions in a clear, firm, professional manner.
Suggestions for Improvement: Practice being positive in your actions instead of acting half-heartedly or changing your mind on an issue.
FYI- Sometimes it’s hard to make a decision. When that happens, I write down the pluses and minuses. Then I decide, and give it time. If it’s a bad decision, no problem! I look at the new facts and make a better one. The worst decision, is no decision. Live will choose for you. Decide! Be brave!
Definition: Tact means that you can deal with people in a manner that will maintain good relations and avoid problems. It means that you are polite, calm, and firm.
Suggestions for Improvement: Begin to develop your tact by trying to be courteous and cheerful at all times. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
FYI- It’s hard to say the just right thing, especially if you’re angry. Don’t be afraid to take your time to breathe, think, and plan. Sometimes in tricky situations I even write it down. It’s worth taking the time to keep a friend.
Definition: Integrity means that you are honest and truthful in what you say or do. You put honesty, sense of duty, and sound moral principles above all else.
Suggestions for Improvement: Be absolutely honest and truthful at all times. Stand up for what you believe to be right.
FYI- This Venn Diagram explains it perfectly. If your beliefs, words, and actions match, you have integrity. It’s something I hang onto tight. If I had to lose everything, but could keep 1 thing, I’d keep my integrity. I hope you do too.
I asked my husband for his pictures of Cienfuegos, and he sent me this. It’s my last classroom. I retired from 2nd grade in June of 2015. The picture below reminds me of how much I loved teaching. It also shows what I valued as a teacher. It's displayed around the room.
I cut that picture into 4 pieces. They’re below, the 4 corners of my classroom. Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane.
This is the back of my classroom where you’d find my word wall chart and the kids’ lockers. Do you see the ice cream on them? They’re charts for mastery of addition/subtraction facts. On the last day of school everyone got ice cream, but the kids who passed the most time tests got to put their ice cream sundae together first. YUM!
This was the left side of my classroom. I kept half my curtains closed, and I used the curtains as a bulletin board. That’s where I put the “I can” learning statements.
My favorite place in the room was my library shelf. This was the last week of school, I still had books out, and yes, I was still teaching.
This is the front of my room. It’s where I taught, where the magic happened… learning! I taught with ‘stuff’ and after 33 years I had a lot of it.
That front wall was one BIG bulletin board. If it was important, it was on that wall. On the top, my number line, counting up to 110. Kids have trouble writing numbers after 109. They want to write 1010, 1011, year after year. Really!
Below them are my Disney character/ punctuation marks. They were a gift from another teacher when we traded jobs. She went to title reading. I went to 2nd grade. They helped my kids remember what to use for 30 years. When we did daily oral language, those classic characters still helped my kids!
Start on the left wall and follow me across the room. First you’ll find my calendar. No primary classroom is without one. It matches to science and math skill standards, the things that teachers can’t teach without. I’m not sure what posters are beside it, but I think they’re math. The shelf below it was full of math and science supplies. Things like calculators and clocks, magnifying glasses and magnets, It’s amazing what I collected over 33 years.
The spelling chart came next and the smartboard. I didn’t think I was smart enough for one, but with help from younger teachers I discovered how smart it was for my students. The two tables below it were full of basic supplies I needed every day. Things like Kleenexes and pencils, student names and a tub of worksheets.
Keep going right and you’ll find a behavior chart and a workshop to keep my kids busy and learning when they had spare time And yes, I used my cupboards too! They held cards that helped kids with phonics, like OW for blow or OW for cow. I paired them up with whatever skills I was teaching in spelling. There’s also another table. My favorite things that last year…a German calendar and my last ants. Back in the day I raised ants, butterflies, hermit crabs, and frogs. I loved my critters!
Last, look at the desks. I only did this for my last year. Yes, I tried something new that year! Before putting a unit of books away, I sorted them into tubs of difficult/medium/easy. My kids had baggies with dots on them. The dots told them which tub held the Just Right Books for them. If they didn’t do workshop, they could read a book that fit their reading level. I’m glad I tried this, even if it was only for 1 year.
Wow! I taught with a lot of stuff, 6 paragraphs worth! This is the last wall. Promise! BTW- that’s what I looked like that last year.
My last 3 bulletin boards…above the computers were my classroom rules, consequences, and rewards. Next came my author bulletin board, and my last author, George Ella Lyon, is a relative. I met her when she came for a school visit in the 90’s and discovered we have ancestors who were brothers. I still I can’t believe I’m related to a real, live, published author! The last bulletin board, above the sink, was the job’s bulletin board. My kids loved having jobs!
Interesting, as I write this, I miss teaching, my kids, and my colleagues. But would I go back to daily duty? Never! I love subbing once a week, every other week. I get my kid fix, and I stay connected to my market, teachers and kids. I love having 6 days a week to write. Even though I’m retired, I usually don’t get to write all 6 days. I get pulled away for appointments or whatever comes up. Subbing that one day gives me the best of both worlds, for now.
I'm starting with a map to show you where the ship was supposed to go on Sunday after we left Cienfuegos, and where the ship actually went. We were supposed to spend a day sailing west around Cuba, and then head east towards Havana.
That didn't happen! Hurricane Michael had already popped up on the western end of Cuba. When there’s a hurricane, a captain takes his ship out to sea away from the storm. So instead of going west Sunday night, our captain took us south toward the Cayman Islands. Not all the way there, but far enough to avoid high seas.
Here’s what the weather map looked like Monday night. I found this after I got home to Ohio. Michael was a Category 1 storm with winds of 74-95 mph (miles per hour). That’s faster than your parents drive down interstate.
Michael was sitting where we were supposed to go, but I’m glad we didn’t go. His Category 1 waves were big enough for me. By Wednesday when Michael moved north to the Gulf Coast of Florida, he was a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 111-129 mph. That's hide in the basement fast! Y-I-K-E-S!!!
Sometime Tuesday the captain started sailing west on our original course to Havana. We were supposed to get there Tuesday morning, but we made it off the ship by 5PM Tuesday night. That gave us a little time to explore that night, then on Wednesday we had till 5PM. Not as much time in Havana as scheduled, but enough to time to meet and love Havana. Enough time to want to return again.
I took these pictures on Monday from the deck on the 6th floor. The ship was rocking and rolling, literally! The waves don’t look too bad, but they’re higher than they look…15-19 feet tall. The wind was blowing, about 20-30 knots. Not sure what those numbers mean? Wait for it…I’ll explain the numbers like I did back in the day when I was a 2nd grade teacher.
Why pinball? I told you the ship was rocking and rolling, but no one could walk, unless wobbling counts. I felt like I was a pinball bouncing back and forth across the passage. It was the oddest feeling. I didn’t fall over, but I didn’t wind up walking where I’d planned. The rocking sent us from one side of the hallway to the other.
Do you know what’s hanging from the rail in the 2nd picture? Yes, ‘barf’ bags! I prefer sick bags! I was blessed…I enjoyed the out-of-control sensation. I’m a retired teacher, and I prefer to be in control. This is one of the few situations where I had no control, so I decided to enjoy.
Plus as a writer, I got to ‘enjoy’ storm force wind and waves. We don’t have that in Ohio. And someone from California told me it was like an earthquake, just a lot longer. An earthquake is only about 30 seconds. We don’t have those in Ohio either. I think it’s fabulous that I got to experience a stormy sea and hyper-extended earthquake, and I didn’t have to pay a dime for the extra experience.
Remember the wind blowing 20-30 knots? I didn’t know what that meant. This link help me…
That’s about 23-34.5 mph, the speed your mom or dad drives in town, or on the edges of town. Not super fast.
If you’re wondering why an elephant’s here, it’s because my second graders had trouble figure out what measurements really mean. This is an African elephant. If you measure one from its shoulder to its toe, it’s about 8 to 13 feet tall.
Look at the side chart, it’s in meters. If a wave is 15- 20 feet tall, it’s 4.5-6 meters tall. If you don’t want to check my math, here’s a link to help you… https://www.calculateme.com/length/feet/to-meters/
Here’s another way to think of 15 feet. Take a look at your mom. I’m a mom, and I’m 5’5”. If I wanted to stand as tall as that wave, it would take 3 of me/your mom. 4 to be 20 feet tall.
A final way to look a 15 feet is to look at a classroom. In my last room, each block was 1 square foot. Walk 15 blocks forward and look back. That’s what 15 feet looks like. In my classroom, it was half my room. That’s big!
My husband found this shot on his phone. He wanted to get rid of it, and I can’t believe how happy I am to see these. It’s like pulling up great memories. I spent almost 10 years in this room. Good times!
PS- I think I'll take a travel break and take a trip down Memory Lane before I head to Havana Na Na Na!
This is a map of Cuba. Can you see Cienfuegos? Look for Cuba in red. Cienfuegos is right above it.
Welcome to Cienfuegos! This is a shot of the harbor as we sailed in, but that is not my ship. The Empress of the Sea is much bigger.
This is another shot of the harbor. Can you see the boats up front? The mountains in the distance?
I didn’t know Cuba had mountains. When we sailed around the island on the way to Grand Cayman, we saw them in the distance. It was my first view of Cuba.
Here’s one last shot. It looks beautiful from the boat, not touristy, Just land and water and nature. Beautiful!
Let’s Go Ashore
This is the tender we took to ferry us into Grand Cayman and back. It took about an an hour or two for everyone to get off the boat. Easy peasy!
Cienfuegos wasn’t! Imagine that Grand Cayman tender cut in half. That’s the boat we climbed aboard. It had one deck that held about 40 people. It took 35 trips (3-4 hours) to unload everyone from the ship. The first 15 trips took forever! Really! But we weren’t in any rush. By the time we slept in and ate breakfast we were waiting for Tender 28 out of the 35. Sleeping in is always a good thing!
This is a paper reminder that you need to get a special Cuban passport before you can set foot on the island. It’s $75 a person, $150 for my husband and me. We paid for it before we even climbed aboard the ship in Miami. In return we each received two documents to fill in.
One was from the American government. We had to pick a reason why we wanted to go to Cuba. We marked we were there to support the Cuban people. Correction- we took a third party tour from a local group.
The other document was from the Cuban government. It was much shorter and asked for basic information like our names, address, birth-dates, passport numbers, and why we were there, at least that’s what I remember. We were told that we’d have to show that document at Cuban customs, and that they would take it from us either in Cienfuegos or Havana.
When we landed in Cienfuegos, we went into the old customs building. We were packed in like sardines, waiting our turn with the customs officers who’d look over our paperwork. My husband and I each carried an American passport, a Cuban passport, a key card from the ship, and a questionnaire for the American government. The official looked over my documents and sent me through the gate. I waited for my husband to follow. Next up, getting some Cuban money! They don’t accept American dollars or credit cards in Cuba. On to the next line!
At the next gate there were 4 sets of cargo containers that worked as bank offices. We waited in line, again, to exchange our money. It was a great deal for the Cuban government. They got 13% when we traded our dollars into CUCS, and then another 13% when we trade the CUCS back into dollars. That’s 26% total, or like $26 out of every $100 in American money. Like I said, a great deal for the Cuban government.
Look at the money carefully because there are 2 kinds of bills floating around Cuba. One kind has people on it. The other has places. You want places on yours because it’s worth more. Be careful when you buy from a street vendor. Make sure you get back bills with places, not people. I took a picture of the front and back of my bills and coins. I had a 1, 5, 10, and 20 in CUCS. Those were the bills we used. Thank goodness they were all places! I’d hate to have money troubles…I have so much fun spending it!
The coins above were hard to see so they got a close-up. Sorry, I didn’t have a 1 cent coin left, but I still had 5’s, a 10, and 25’s. The coin on the top left is worth 5 cents. The bottom left coin is worth 25. The middle one is worth 10 cents. Look at the coins on the top and bottom right. They always have the same picture, on the back, the Cuban coat of arms.
Once we finished exchanging money we headed out for an adventure. This is the 1st thing we found was a train, like the ones you find at an amusement park. It costs 5 CUCS a person to ride the train. I’m in the middle with my brother-in-law on the left and my husband on the right. We’re ready to take a tour down Main Street of Cienfuegos, Cuba. All aboard!
Main Street, Cienfuegos Style
When we climbed aboard, I had no idea where we were going, but I soon discovered that we were taking a trip down Main Street. Time to explore, Cienfuegos style!
This was the 1st building to catch my eye. It was built in 1920 as someone’s house. Later it became a hotel. Ready for the name…The Green Hotel. Really! In the states, it’d probably a bed and breakfast.
Take a look at the cars parked in front. They look like they’re from the 50’s and 60’s. That’s because Cuba used to be an American territory, like Puerto Rico. In 1959, Fidel Castro started a revolution, and the US and Cuba became enemies. The Americans put an embargo on products going in and out of Cuba. It’s still in effect today.
The picture beside the red car reminds me of a road in Florida with its palm-lined center strip and 2 lanes on either side. The difference…in Florida the road would be packed full of cars.
Both of these buildings started as private homes. Both were built in the early 1900’s, The first, the Cienfuegos Yacht Club now sits next to the marina and houses a restaurant. BTW…I didn’t remember all of this. I googled it to write this post.
The second, the Palacio de Valle was designed and built by a wealthy Spaniard. It’s a little small for a palace...only 8 bedrooms. In the 50’s someone wanted to turn it into a casino, but the 1959 Revolution stopped that. Now you can take a tour and stop in for lunch.
The building above is the Palicio Azul, The Blue Palace. Why? It’s painted powder blue. I love blue! It was built in 1921 and was owned by a rich tobacco baron. Cuba is known for its tobacco and its cigars. In 2004 it was renovated and became The Hotel Encanto Palacio Azul. With only 6 bedrooms, book early to stay here.
Beside the Palacio is a more modern hotel, well modern for the 1950’s. The Hotel Jagua is one of the most famous hotels in Cuba. It looks like a great place to stay!
Let’s Go to the Park…Parque Jose Marti
Look where the train dropped me off at…Jose Marti Park. Jose was a Cuban poet and journalist who fought for independence. He died on the battlefield, a hero.
Today Jose has a park in the heart of Cienfuegos. It’s a great place to sit, relax, and enjoy the greenery. For the Cuban people it’s where they remember a hero.
I had an hour to take pictures and shop before the train returned. There are statues scattered throughout the park. The lion, above, caught my eye. He’s on a marble pedestal. When I googled, I discovered lion statues mark the entrance to the park. Find a lion, and you’ll find a statue of Jose Marti nearby. If only I’d known!
As for the other statue above, I don’t know who it is. I searched google and found this same silhouette facing the Ferrer Palace. If you visit this palace, please look up this statue and send me its name.
This building, the Antiguo Ayuntamiento, is across the street from the park. Antiguo means old, and Ayuntamiento means municipal council. It doesn’t look old, but it’s still the home of Cienfuegos provincial government. Cienfuegos is both a city and a province. The only thing I could learn about this building is that it’s supposed to look like the Capaitolio in Havana.
The Teatro Tomas Terry is also across from the park. Tomas Terry Adams owned a sugar factory back in the day. Later he became Cienfuegos’ mayor. Sorry, this wasn’t his house, but it was built after his death all because Tomas put aside to money build an Italian-style theatre in Cienfuegos. Here it is! Famous singers like Enrico Caruso performed here. I wish Tomas could have seen and heard it during his lifetime!
Here’s the last building I captured on camera. It’s the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It’s old, finished in 1819. Next year will be its 200th birthday. The Cathedral was the first church built in Cienfuegos, and it’s now a national monument. It’s a beautiful old building with its 2 bell towers, 3 arched doorways, and French stained-glass windows of the Twelve Apostles.
I found several factoids when I was googling information for this post. Cienfuegos means100 fires, but I didn’t read anything about fire in its history. The true story— it was named after Jose Cienfuegos who was the Captain General of Cuba from 1816-1819. Maybe someone in his family lit 100 fires. I hope not! Cienfuegos is also called the Pearl of the South, and it’s the only city in Cuba founded by France. The rest of the island belonged to Spain.
Shopping, Street Style This is the only picture I didn’t take. It’s the street market off Jose Marti Park. The vendors stretch 3 or 4 blocks down the street.
When I was there it was sprinkling. I shop by walking from booth to booth scanning for treasures, but a treasure must call me back. There was a toy jeep made out of recycled Coke cans that made me laugh. I was planning to go back for it.
A block or two later the rain poured down, and I’d somehow wandered away from my family. That’s scary when you’re in a foreign country, even if you’re an adult. I found my sister-in-law, who said my husband was looking for me. Ruh-roh! I’d hurried past him. I walked back slower, heart pounding, rain pouring down. Thank goodness we found each other! By then the vendors closed up to keep things dry. The Coke Can Car, gone! We waited on a covered porch till the rain stopped. We boarded the train, and luckily back at the dock, I found shopping and something to buy!
I found these booths in front of customs when we got off the train. They’d closed up for the rain and were reopening again. This time I took pictures. No Coke Can Car, but souvenir cars for kids were for sale. Next door was a booth of wooden things like statues, drums, and fans. They were touristy-cute, but nothing called me.
Next up jewelry. I glanced at the necklaces and earrings, but nothing called me here nor next door at the leather stand. Shoes, purses, baseballs, and wall hangings. When I wrote this post I thought I missed something to the right of the Chevrolet Legendario, I thought it said Buckeye, and I was wishing I’d bought it. Happily it says Bucanero so nothing was missed after all.
Finally, a treasure, something that called me back! It was a necklace made from seeds. I’d never seen anything like it so I walked back again.
The newspaper was my shopping bag. Cienfuegos is a very poor place. The street vendors don’t buy bags. They make them from recycled newspaper.
One last thing I remember from Cienfuegos were the dogs. They were thin like Greyhounds, but they were Mutts. I didn’t take a picture because I didn’t want to remember. I'm not used to seeing animals who aren't cared for.
Leaving, on a Tender
This is where I waited to leave. I was bored so I tried to take a picture of our ship. It’s not the big cruise ship. It’s off in the distance. Can you see it? Look at bow and follow it back. I can barely make it out, but I blew it up for you. Look!
See! Hello, Empress! Good-bye, Cienfuegos! Here’s to a one day sail tomorrow. Then it’s Havana Na Na Na!
The 1st map shows the Caribbean. It’s hard to see The Caymans on it. They’re inside the red circle. Cuba is above them to the north, and above Cuba is Florida. We sailed southwest from Miami, around Cuba, then southeast to Grand Cayman, Island. We left on Thursday, sailed Friday, and landed at George Town, Grand Cayman on Saturday.
This is a shot of George Town’s Harbor. You can see the boats and the buildings that hug the coastline.
The Cayman Islands are a British territory. They belong to the UK, the United Kingdom. The UK is made up of Great Britain (England), Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
This part of George Town's harbor is for shipping. Big ships bring in cargo to supply Grand Cayman. Because everything is brought in, whatever you buy is more expensive.
This is the inside of a small boat docked beside our cruise ship. It’s called a tender. Its job is to ferry people back and forth between George Town and the cruise ships.
This is a pretty big tender. It holds about 200 people. The shot you see is from the bottom level. We climbed down a gangplank from our cruise ship, then downstairs to this level. A tender isn’t comfortable. It doesn’t have to be. You’re only aboard for a very short time.
I took this shot from the dock at George Town looking back at our ship. Can you spot the tender? It’s the small boat under that blue square.
We had about 1600 people on-board the ship. With 200 passengers per tender, it didn’t take long to empty it. We still waited in a line that threaded through the one of the decks. It reminded me of a fast-moving roller coaster line at Cedar Point.
This is a final shot of a tender from the George Town dock. This one’s pretty empty. It’s waiting for more people before it heads back to the ship.
Did you notice the fencing? It’s supposed to control people so they go where they’re supposed to, and not where they shouldn’t.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Perhaps you’ve heard of the pirates of the Caribbean. I’ve seen a movie or two about them, but I found their ship in the harbor, and a few statues around town.
I googled this link and found out the truth about the pirates on Grand Cayman
Sadly it was not a pirate hotbed. Why not? The island wasn’t on the main shipping routes for the Caribbean. Port Royal in Jamaica and New Providence in the Bahamas, those were the places a pirate should be.
Back in the days of piracy the Caymans were a quiet home to fishermen and turtlers, not pirates. Can you guess what a turtler does?
But one turtling ship had a run-in with Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard. He and his crew captured it, and its crew. Two other infamous pirates, Captain Ned Low and George Lowther took a meeting on Grand Cayman. They signed a treaty to pillage and plunder the Caribbean together. It’s good to share!. Later Neil Walker visited the neighborhood to plunder the wrecks of two Spanish ships. He liked to recycle!
But back in the day the Caymans were just a place for pirates to replenish their supplies or find a retirement home. They could earn a living by plundering and salvaging the shipwrecks along the coast.
This was my kind of plunder, a Wedge Salad and Nachos from Margaritaville. That, and three T Shirts. I knew MARGARITAVILLE from a Jimmy Buffet song, but I didn’t know he turned it into a restaurant AND resort. Who knew? Not me, not until I googled Margaritaville when I got home.
The 2 pirate pictures above came from Jimmy’s restaurant. I bet you know where I found the one below.
The resort! When I took this picture I thought it was cool to find a water slide that took you into the middle of a restaurant and shopping area, but I never dreamed of this slide…hotel to pool to restaurant and shopping. Wow! I’m glad Jimmy thought of it!
Take a Walk, and What do You See?
Talk a walk through the main drag of George Town, and it’s nothing like Ohio. Pirates, open air buildings, a mural like this. Look at the painting, the colors, the animals. They all have a Caribbean vibe.
Keep walking, and you’ll find the locals pecking out a living. In Ohio chickens live on farms,sometimes in a backyard, but never on Main Street.
On the way back to the boat I found a fish market right next to the road! In Ohio, fish is sold in grocery stores. They’re either frozen or on ice. In George Town you can buy them fresh, right off the boat, right next to the street!
Shopping in the Caymans
I spotted this sign on my way back to the ship. If you read about the pirates, then you remember that turtles were once important to the Cayman Islands. I don’t think people hunt them anymore for food, or shells, but you can meet them at the Island Wildlife Encounter. It was a rainy day in George Town so my husband and I passed on it.
I didn’t see turtles in the wild, but I found a lot for sale in the souvenir shops. I didn’t buy one. I was hunting t shirts. Unfortunately mine doesn’t have a turtle, but it does have a beach and a couple starfish. I’m all about the beach, for obvious reasons!
I also found a lot of jewelry. I love ear rings and necklaces! They call me. Really! They say buy me, but I didn’t listen, not this time!
I love the crosses in the picture. Look closely. Do you see seashells? Yes, from the seashore, LOL! I didn’t buy them, but, I have a lot of seashells from all my favorite beaches. I think it’s time for a shell project. If you have some from vacation, or the store, you can get crafty too. Good luck!
I don’t think they make t shirts, turtle souvenirs, or jewelry on the Cayman Islands. It’d be too expensive. I think those products are made in China and arrive by boat. Boats bring in everything that people need for survival. I thought maybe the islands produced goods to sell, but they don’t. The citizens of Grand Cayman make their living with service industries like tourism. The islands are also tax free so a lot of financial service providers decided to make their homes in the Caymans. Financial services deal with money, and the Caymans are are home to 70,000 companies and almost 600 banks. Wow tax-free, and great weather…sounds good to me!
The down side to living in the Caymans? Everything has to be shipped in. So when you pay for a hamburger, a soda, a toy, it’s going to cost more. Ouch!
I took this picture to show you the cranes, shipping containers, and boats sitting at one dock. This is where the products are unloaded for the people of the Cayman Islands.
Leaving Grand Cayman
You must follow rules to enter or leave a foreign country. I didn’t take pictures going into Grand Cayman, but I did when I left.
I went through 2 security gates. One was outside this buiding. The other is where the the people are standing. I showed my ship’s key card to both sets of guards. It proves that I belong on the ship. If you don’t have proof, you don’t get through. If you lose your card, I think they pull you aside and call the ship to check on your identity. When you leave a country, it’s important to follow the rules, and to hold onto your key.
Remember the tenders that took me to Grand Cayman? They took me back to the ship. The last tender was at 5:30. What happens if you miss it…you miss the boat! At 6:00 the cruise ship sails to the next port of call. Being on time is important!
In this picture I made it aboard ship. I showed my key card to someone who scanned it like the clerks scan packages at Walmart. A picture of me pops up on a screen so security can check that it’s me. If it is, you head onto the last security gate. Security’s important aboard a ship.
This is the next security scan. You put all your belongings on a belt. It runs your stuff through an x-ray machine. It checks to make sure you’re not carrying anything you’re not supposed to. As your stuff is scanned, you walk through a human scanner. It makes sure you’re not carrying something you’re not supposed to either. Then at last, you’re finally free to head back to your room and relax!
On October 4th I set sail from Miami on The Empress of the Sea. The voyage took me to Grand Cayman and to Cuba. The Empress is a small cruise ship with only 10 decks, but she looks pretty big to me. Come aboard. I'll give you a quick tour.
Guess who I found beside the theater on Deck 6? Gloria Estefan! She’s a famous singer AND the ship’s godmother.
You can watch movies and live shows in the theater without buying a single ticket. Gloria wasn’t on-board, but a troupe of singers, dancers, and musicians were. I saw 3 different musical shows, plus a ventriloquist. A cruise ship keeps you entertained!
Welcome to the Pool! Deck 10 features a hot tub, a kiddie pool, plus another pool big enough for 10 people. Don’t worry! The cruse ship keeps a lifeguard on duty during pool hours.
One of my favorite things about cruising was the critters. They snuck into my stateroom most nights. (Our steward Ian made/left them when he did his evening room clean-up.) They were all made with the same white towels, but the elephant looked brighter than the others. Why? I took him into the bathroom to get a brighter light. I used the room lights for the other 3. Isn’t it amazing how light affects color?
Do you recognize the other animals? I think there are 2 rabbits up above. One’s stretched out, and the other’s all cuddled up. I think down below is a cat, but what do you think? If you have different ideas, please post a comment or message me. I’d love to hear what you think…and why!
This is my stateroom. My favorite part was the port hole where we could look out at the ocean.
My room wasn’t very big. I had a double bed that my husband thought could be pulled apart to make two twin beds.
Do you see the white square in the top corners? Those are wall beds that fold down at night, and up in the morning. Would you want to have a slumber party with 3 guests in here It might be be tight, but I bet it would still be fun!
I took this picture sitting on the bed. Straight ahead is the door. Thank goodness…with a full-length mirror! I love to see how I look from head to toe. To the right are 2 small closet doors, then a desk with another mirror. Beside it are the end of the wall beds. Like I said, this is a small room!
What’s this? It’s the inside of the first closet. There were 2 bare rods, and we used one to hang clothes. Down at the bottom you see something orange, and it’s the most important thing in the room…6 life jackets. We never had to use them, but I’m glad they were there.
The other closet had 2 rods for our clothes. Whoever designed this room knew how to make space for the things we brought along.
The bathroom is across from the 2 closets. It’s pretty small with only enough room for 1 person. There’s not much counter space, but it worked. My favorite part, the nice big mirror!
To the left of the sink is the shower. It reminds me of a triangular prism, and it’s just big enough room for 1 person.
Do you see the white dispenser? That’s the special shampoo/conditioner I used on-board. Why? Because their products are easier on the ocean. I used the ship’s soap too. It’s one small drop in the ocean, but imagine that drop times 1600 people a day, times 7 days. Using the right kind of soap is a good thing for the environment.
The second picture is the shelf above the toilet. It was just enough room to store all my bathroom products. My husband even got to have a shelf!
The TV was on the other side of the shower wall. That was my storage area. I used the drawers to store the things that didn’t fit in the bathroom. Beside the drawers was a a small table, perfect for my suitcase. I didn’t bother to unpack. I pulled out clothes when needed, and I used the top to throw the things I used everyday.
A desk and mirror are on the other side of the room. My husband used the drawers, and he hung his clothes in the closet. We stored 5 other suitcases under the bed. The stuff on the desktop, it’s mine. When you’re on vacation, I believe it’s better to bring too much, than too little.
I took these pictures back in July when the German students from Lengerich, our Sister City, visited Wapak. Every year they tour the Fire Department, but this year, I got to tag along.
I was fascinated! I haven’t been in a fire station since I was a kid. I didn’t take pictures until I spotted all those buttons on a fire truck. I immediately thought of this blog! Sorry! We visited the living quarters first, but I didn’t think to take pictures.
Can you guess what I found next? Fire trucks! This station is full of them. Really!
I took the 1st picture looking down an aisle between the trucks. In the 2nd I peeked in the front window. I didn’t notice buttons, but I was amazed by that front seat. I bet it fits 3 or 4 people, but if they’re wearing fire uniforms, probably only 2.
This pictures show a fireman’s clothing locker. Would you believe he gains 45 pounds by putting on his clothes? YIKES! Can you imagine fighting a fire while you’re wearing an extra 45 pounds? In clothes? DOUBLE YIKES!!!
So why do the clothes weigh so much? Because every bit of it must protect the firemen. Look at the helmet. It’s not cheap plastic. It resists heat and protects him from falling objects.
See the turnout pants and jackets? The fabric has two-layers to repel heat and wick away moisture. Wick? What’s wicking? It’s pulling sweat away from the inner layer next to your skin, and sending it to the outer layer. Then both layers dry fast so you can keep your cool.
This fireman is dressed for action.
See the boots? They’re made of rubber so firemen won’t slip and fall. The toes and soles are reinforced with metal to protect their feet from sharp fragments. Gloves go on the hands and stretch past the wrist. They’re made of thick leather that’s padded with lots of insulation so firefighters can touch hot stuff when they fight fires.
Firemen also have 2 safety devices you can’t see. They wear an air tank like a backpack. A hose connects the tank to a mask so firemen have 30 minutes of safe air to fight fires. Many firemen carry a PASS. That stands for Personal Alert Safety System. It’s a lot like a life alert. If a fireman taps a button, the unit signals where he is. A PASS could save a fireman’s life!
With all their trucks and equipment, firemen need lots of tools to keep everything running. Do you see their toolbox? It’s tall and red with lots of drawers. My husband, the engineer, has one just like it in gray.
Do you see all the brooms? I don’t think of firemen sweeping and cleaning, but I bet they do. Keeping things clean is a good thing! It makes everything run better.
Firemen don’t just fight fires. Most of them are paramedics. Paramedics are the guys who work in an ambulance. They’re trained to take care of you , and they also drive you to a hospital. A paramedic could save your life.
Here’s a set of tools that firemen use. Dummies! Really! But they’re not so dumb. They help firemen practice life-saving skills like CPR. Paramedics do CPR when someone stops breathing, or their heart stops beating. Did you know paramedics have to take classes and tests to become one? I’m glad. I want a well-trained paramedic working on me.
I didn’t look inside an ambulance today, but this looks like what you’d see. Did you know that firemen make more calls as paramedics than as firemen? I was surprised to hear that. When I went to Germany and toured cities that were hundreds of years old, our guides said fires were once a city's biggest danger.
Why are there fewer fires today? Hundreds of years ago people had fire inside their home to cook and stay warm. It’s easy for a fire to get out of control, especially if you fell asleep before putting it out.
Today houses are built better, with fire retardant materials that are hard to catch on fire. Houses have better wiring. Bad wiring can cause fires. Also most houses and buildings have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. I have both at my house. I hope you do too!
This is everyone’s favorite part of the fire station…the poles. If you look at the first one, the ceiling is opening. In the second one, the fireman is sliding down, feet first. They make it look so easy! I’ve always wanted to slide down a pole, but I’m pretty sure I’d fall.
Here are our class pictures. The first one has all of our German guests. The second has our German students with the 4 firemen who made us feel welcome. Don’t look for me…I was taking the pictures!
At Wapak Sister Cities we’d like to thank the German teens for being great guests. We’d also like to thank the Wapak firemen for being great hosts and great tour guides! We look forward to returning next year with a fresh batch of German kids. The best part of the exchange is introducing the German kids and their chaperone to American culture, whether it’s the Wapak Fire Station or LaGrande’s Pizza.
For those of you who are frequent visitors to my blog, I’ll be off on vacation till the 11th. Check back then, and you can find out here in the world Rinda went. Have a great week!
This is Manuel Bartsch. He discovered he was a DACA kid when he was a high school senior. Then his story got worse, much worse. Read on…and discover how something like this could happen.
Manuel’s story started with two Americans, his grandfather and step-grandfather. His grandmother was German. She had a baby girl, who had Manuel, but he wound up living with his grandmother. She had another baby, Manuel’s uncle. Life was good…until his grandmother was killed by a drunk driver in 1993.
Arriving in the US
In 1997 Manuel’s step-grandfather brought both boys to the US, to Gilboa, Ohio. Manuel was about 7 years old. He came legally, with a 90-day visitor pass…it never got renewed. Uh-oh! Then his grandfather forgot to legally adopt him. Double Uh-oh!
Manuel grew up in Ohio, as an American kid, doing American things like playing football until December of 2005. That’s when he discovered the truth. Manuel tried to get his driver’s license and register for the ACT, a college entrance test. Manuel learned he didn’t have a social security number, that he wasn’t a citizen, or even a legal resident of the United States. Pretty bad…but it gets worse, much worse.
Manuel didn’t know what to do when he got a letter from immigration in Ohio. He asked for advice from his girlfriend’s father, who’s in law enforcement. They went into the immigration office together.
Officials confirmed Manuel’s entry date with his step-grandfather. They came into Newark, New Jersey on August 21, 1997. Manuel had just turned 10. After that meeting, life got worse, much worse.
Arrested before Christmas
Those officials couldn’t find any paperwork, for either an adoption or a visitation. Without them, they had to arrest and charge Manuel as an illegal alien. It’s the law…so in December of 2005, Manuel found himself stuck in jail for 17 days. He was18 years old. I can’t imagine how scared he felt to find himself in jail as illegal alien. He had no idea what happened, no idea what to do. But that’s when things got better, a little better.
Manuel Finds Help
Manuel’s story made news around the US, and in Germany too. It got him a lawyer, David Leopold, who accepted the case pro-bono. He didn’t ask for a dime.
Back home in the Pandora-Gilboa school district, friends, teachers, administrators, and school board members needed to help. They traveled to Cleveland to speak for Manuel. They told the court they were upset, that they wanted Manuel back in school, back in Gilboa.
Their words worked! The case was dropped. Manuel was released, but it wasn’t over. He didn’t have citizenship, and he could be deported at any time. He might not even be allowed to finish high school. WOW!
The Fight Goes On
Mark Painter, father of Manuel’s high school girl friend, said, "Right now, he still has a chance. It's not a definite no…The fight goes on." Then life got better, a little better, thanks to help from lawyer David Leopold, Congressman Paul Gilmore, and Senator Michael DeWine.
In April of 2006, Senator Mike DeWine joined Manuel’s fight. He wanted to see Manuel’s status changed. He believed Manuel should be legally allowed to stay in the country. Mike took the fight to the US Senate. He asked for a report on the case. It made a difference! The report said Manuel couldn’t be deported, even if a judge ordered it.
High School Graduation
Manuel went on to graduate from Pandora-Gilboa High School, but he didn’t know about college, even though he’d been accepted at Ohio Northern University. He sat in limbo, waiting to hear back from his legal battles. His lawyer, David said Manuel grew up a lot his senior year.
The Fight’s Not Over
Manuel found another champion in Ohio Congressman Paul Gilmore. In January 2007, he introduced a bill into the US House of Representatives for the relief of Manuel Bartch, to give him permanent resident status. It never passed so the bill died. Paul died later that year, in September of 2007.
College, at Last
Manuel made it to college. Yeah! He went to Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio. Manuel was an achiever! His professor, David Hogan, said “He was in the top 2% of his students,” and that he couldn’t believe Manuel’s problem had no solution. Me too!
Manuel didn’t just have great grades in college…He was a leader too. His fraternity voted him president for 2 terms. It was a perfect fit for a political science major who dreamed of a future in government and politics.
In college Manuel was considered an undocumented immigrant, but someone believed in him, enough to give him tuition money. To this day Manuel has no idea who helped him. He has a guess, but he’ll never know for sure. On May 4th, 2012 Manuel graduated from Heidelberg with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He couldn’t understand how America could give him a great education, yet send him back to Germany, a country he hadn’t visited for 15 years.
He also didn’t know what to do with his degree. A lot of college kids have trouble getting jobs. Not Manuel! He couldn’t get a job. He couldn’t go to graduate school. He couldn’t get clearance to work in state or local government, and he still couldn’t get a driver’s license. All because of a piece of paper. Imagine! A piece of paper! Manuel was stuck, in limbo, because of a piece of paper.
This is Manuel’s step-grandfather and Manuel’s diploma from Heidelberg. Can you imagine how proud his grandfather was of Manuel? I also imagine he was frustrated…frustrated to see Manuel stuck through no fault of his own. That’s when life got better, a little better.
The Dream Act
The next 3 pictures show Manuel speaking in support of the Dream Act. This first one is in Washington D.C. The Capital Building stands in the background.
Did you know the Dream Act was originally introduced Aug.1, 2001 by Democrat, Dick Durbin, and Republican, Orrin Hatch? It was bi-partisan, with senators from both of our major political parties. It’s been discussed in different forms ever since, but never been made into a law. Not ever.
In 2012 it was one small clause of a huge Immigration bill. It was supposed to give citizenship to kids like Manuel who’d arrived in the US before they were 16.
Back then Manuel said, “I’d like to get out there, and be in the fight for things, especially on immigration. I would love to advocate for immigration and reform and passage of the Dream Act – just the passion I have for that kind of thing.”
It made sense for the kid who was interested in government and politics to get involved.
And he did…he testified in front of Congress. He tried to convince them to dream, but Congress said no to the immigration bill, no to the dream act.
It must have seemed like the worst of times to Manuel, but then that same year, things got better, a lot better.
Time for a Cover
In 2012 Time decided to produce an article and cover to support the Dream Act. This is that cover shoot. It featured 35 students from different backgrounds. Each student represented a country whose kids have been caught in the US without legal citizenship. Some people think it’s just a South and Central American problem, but it’s not. Manuel’s from Germany.
Someone brought these kids here illegally. It wasn’t their choice, it wasn’t their fault, and something needed to be done. Time decided to help, with this cover, and its matching article.
After it was shot, Time’s editors worked on computers to make the picture just right. They added words, in the right colors, in the right sizes. Lots of work went into the cover below. The magazine came out June 25, 2012.
Two weeks earlier, on June 15, 2012 President Obama signed the Dream Act as an executive order. It didn’t grant kids like Manuel citizenship, but it halted deportation, temporarily. It allowed them to work and go to school.
Manuel said, “I’m excited, and I thank Obama for stepping forward. I hope it’s more than election year politics. I hope there’s more behind it than that because it’s so important for so many of us.”
So where does Manuel stand now, in 2018? Is life better, or worse?
The pictures in this section come from the last 6 years. Life looks pretty good. Manuel married his high school sweetheart. They have good jobs, a house, and an 18-month-old cutie!
Life is good, but something’s missing…US citizenship. When I started this post in January, I remember Manuel’s father-in-law saying the law is black and white, no wiggle room. Manuel’s married to a citizen, and he’s the father of one. I thought if you married a citizen, you got citizenship automatically. Evidently not if you came illegally.
Thanks to DACA, Manuel can drive a car, and he has a job, but not in government. That’s where his passion, talents, and degree are. Manuel can’t cross the border into Canada or Mexico for vacation. He can’t visit family back in Germany. Why not? He’s afraid he wouldn’t get back in again.
Some people think that he should leave the country and wait his turn to come back. That’s hard to do with a wife and a child. It could take as long as 8 years to return, the right way. His son would be 9 by then. That’s a huge price to ask of anyone, especially a little boy.
So what’s the answer? Compromise, somehow. Everyone knows this situation is wrong, and it should be fixed. The question is how. Manuel’s father-in-law thinks our government should come up with a plan that asks these kids to do things like finish high school, finish college/higher training. Manuel has done both.
Others think the DACA kids should pay a fine in money and/or time. I’d support a plan like that, if it was reasonable. I’d write my Congress people, and I think others would too.
I wish our leaders in Washington DC would come up with that reasonable plan for these DACA kids. It’s been discussed since 2000 by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Why can’t they make it happen?
1. My interview with Manuel’s father-in-law, Mark Painter
2. The Cleveland Plain Dealer
3. The Toledo Blade
4. ABC News
5. The Lima News
6. Congressional Record
Hi! This is Beryl! She was created by my Tennessee friend, magician, and sculptor Rick Starkey. In my last post, Beryl needed to find her just right spot at the lake. She did, and she also gave me a book idea that’s sitting in my computer, waiting to be written.
Beryl also taught me how to find the perfect spot. How? By playing! I put Beryl in different positions, then kept moving her until I found the right one. I’ve always done this with clothes. I won’t buy them unless they look great, ON me. If it’s merely good, I can put it back. Really! Who knew it worked with knickknacks inside my house? Try it and see for yourself!
In Wapak, I have my favorite places to shop. Rovals is one of them. Going in and shopping is like treasure hunting. Some days you find treasure. Some days you don’t.
When I went in a few weeks ago, I saw the 2 matching vases pictured here. One was short and fat. The other was tall and thin. They called me. They whispered, "Rinda, come buy us!"
I tried not to listen, but the vases said they were unusual, that I’d never find anything like them again. They said they’d look great in my house. I asked Rochelle, Rovals’ owner extraordinaire, for help. She was supposed to talk me out of them. Not today! She said they’d look great with the giant
wine bottle I’d found at her store. It called me for a month before I'd answer yes. Then...she suggested adding sunflowers to the short one, grass to the tall one.
It was a weak moment! Wet noodle weak! Really! bought the vases, and the idea. I have to be careful when I’m shopping…I’m always tempted. I thought I’d run across the street to Moon Florist, where I’ve never, ever shopped. I thought I’d drop in and admire a friend’s arrangements. Safe? Nope, temptation beckoned, again. Tammy does great arrangements, and before I knew it, she had my vases. I’d pick them up when I returned from the lake.
The pictures to the left show what Tammy did! She’s good, really good! I love her arrangements! So did Rochelle! I stopped in for a little show and tell on my way to the car. Now, all I have to do is get them to the lake, intact. I'm ready for a road trip!
BTW…here’s the link for a post I did on Rovals in July of 2017:
Here’s the wine bottle that started this whole adventure. It’s a unique piece, 3 feet tall, 2 shelves in the middle, and a secret stash on top. I love it!
I took it to the lake, but it looked wrong by itself. So I found two geese at Casa Chic, another favorite shop. The threesome look great together. Did you know why? 3 is a Fibonacci number. When you group things by Fibonacci numbers, they fit together. Usually!
The vases made it to the lake but not beside the bottle. I tried them as a threesome. It didn’t work! I tried each vase with the bottle. It didn’t work either, even though 2 is a Fibonacci number too. Shucks! When you buy something new, things don’t always work out the way you planned.
I put the geese back. They’re just right for the big bottle. I picture them guarding it, and that makes me chuckle. Maybe, there’s a story here too!
I played with the 2 vases, just like I did with Beryl. I thought they’d work together. They didn’t! So I played with 1 vase at a time. These were my just right spots.
It’s funny, Beryl tried both locations, and they didn’t fit. The yellow sunflowers are perfect against the dark couch. The green grass shows up and fills the empty spot behind the love seat.
My take-away from Beryl, if you find something new, don’t despair if it doesn’t fit where you imagine. Play around! Try different spots. You’ll find the perfect place, and don’t forget, have fun playing!
Meet Beryl! Tennessee critique partner and chainsaw sculptor, Rick Starkey carved her, and I picked her out from a collection of siblings. I know…Oh brother! I adopted her, I have the papers to prove it! # 4521 doesn’t fit, but Beryl does. It’s just right!
Beryl needed a just right spot too. I tried different rooms, took pictures, and sent a few to my critique group. Sometimes even grown-ups need to play! The name of the game, Where is Beryl? It led to this blog post, AND a book idea…but I need to play more before I 'm ready to write. For now, can you find Beryl and tell me why each spot wasn't right?
Where is Beryl?
In the laundry room, but she didn’t like it here. She said she blended into the background, AND she’ll have to move every time I need to get in and out of the washer/drier. No, this is not her spot!
How about here?
In the kitchen, on top of the refrigerator? Beryl hated blending into the woodwork, but she loved the view. She decided to keep looking for her just right spot.
What about here?
Next to the kitchen door? Beryl could see outside and across the kitchen. But when you’re short, it’s hard to see. Her eyes barely cleared the bottom of the door. OK, Beryl, next spot!
By the couch and the stairs? Beryl loved the view of the kitchen and the deck, but blending into the couch- NEVER! Beryl likes to stand out!
In the living room, behind the love seat? Beryl thought she looked great beside the the lighter couch and wall, but she lost her view. She could only see the front door and the bedroom hallway. Boring! Beryl said no thanks!
This is the living room window. You can see the dock, the lake, and anything that moves. Beryl said no, again! She can barely see out the window, and her back’s to the room. Plus no one outside can see her. Next spot, please!
What about here?
By the fireplace? It’s nice and cozy with a great view, but Beryl said no. She blends in too much, again. Next!
On the book and toy shelf by the front door? You’d never be bored, but Beryl shook her head. Too dark she said. Beryl needs to stand out.
On top of the living room cupboard? It’s light and bright with a great view. Beryl stopped, thought, then said no. She loved a view where she could see inside and out. BUT, she couldn’t stand out surrounded by trinkets. After all who’d look at Beryl when there’s Coke to be found?
Here, Beryl? Please Beryl!
Outside on the porch? You’ll definitely stand out. You can greet anyone who comes or goes. Growl if you need to, but keep guarding that front door. Beryl looked around and said, this is just right.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!