Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bonus photo!

A Rare Find

I hope I don't sound like a broken record...

So we haven’t done much snorkeling on this itinerary....we just haven’t been that inspired and it’s been very windy which isn’t great for snorkeling. We have gone swimming a few times and it’s been lovely.

Yesterday we were at Great Stirrup Cay which is the NCL private island. We decided that it was time to try out our new snorkeling gear. So we packed up and took the tender over to the island.

When we got there we walked to the quieter of the two beaches. We found out that we had to wear a life vest which was a super bummer and it chaffed Larrance’s nipples. My nipples were safe because I was wearing a swimsuit top....Larrance goes *gasp* topless. He has no shame.

So the snorkeling was okay. The reef around the island has taken a lot of damage so we were just test driving our gear and enjoying the water. When what do I see but a medium sized very exotic fish just hanging out next to a rock. I swim over to it and realize that it’s a Lion Fish. Now, Lion Fish aren’t supposed to be in the Caribbean so I thought I was wrong until I check out our World Book. According to the World Book, the Lion Fish recently has moved into the Caribbean waters from the Indo-Pacific. Most likely they were dumped there by someone with tank who didn’t want it anymore. ANYWAY, there it was just hanging out in all of it’s spiney glory. As you may know, they can deliver quite a painful sting so we kept our distance. Enjoy the photos.....



We swam around some more and saw a rather large welk shell. Larrance dove down to take a look. The dive was deeper than he thought and his ear plug went way into his ear.

Finally, we saw a Southern Sting Ray. The ray was swimming on the bottom but the weird thing was that a fish (a spotted goat fish) was hanging out right on top of it. As the ray swam through the water, it would disturb the sand and as it did the goat fish would dart forward now and then to eat something....little fish I assume. It was great to watch.

We were in the water about 40 minutes or so. Our gear was great. The masks were clear, comfortable and they didn’t leave those awful mask marks. It was a very wavy day and we didn’t get any water in our new snorkels. Yay!

Today is New Year’s Eve. We have a show tonight. Then there’s the ringing of the New Year complete with fireworks (courtesy of the Atlantis) and then a crew party. Should be lots o’ fun....

Next cruise is a one day “cruise to nowhere” around the NY harbor. We’re doing a late show that night. Then my mom & Ray are onboard for our first 10 day carribbean cruise!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Surprises

Hello,

It’s been a bit since my last entry. I have to say that this itinerary has been a real let down after Europe. But it’s also been a let down in terms of weather, we’ve only been swimming twice. It’s been super windy and fairly chilly. Now, I know that I have nothing to complain about on the weather front what with the conditions in the rest of the country but I’m complaining anyway so there.

I had worse holiday blues this year than previous contracts. Or at least it felt worse. I missed being with my family and was worried that the holidays were going to be very depressing. Maybe it was my low expectations but Christmas was great....

The cast exchanged Secret Santa names about 6 weeks ago. I had Rance. He’s very hard to buy for but he gave me a detailed list and I mostly stuck to that. I got him a timex watch w/ a velcro band, a workout book, a six pack of Mug root beer and a reindeer tongue lollipop. I think he loved the lollipop best. Basically it was a plastic drum shaped reindeer head with a candy lollipop shaped like a deer’s tongue that you push out to suck on. So Rance got to french kiss a reindeer for Christmas....and that was actually on his list.

We had a bit of a surprise on this last cruise. We popped into the dance show one night and we looked over to see an older couple. I felt like I recognized the man. As I stared I realized that he’d been a student of mine at the Schoodic Arts Festival - I knew him. So we chatted with him and his wife and later in the cruise we had dinner with them. It kind of felt like we had family onboard even though we didn’t....it was nice to have dinner with someone not from the ship. No offense to any of my shipmates but having dinner with a “land person” gave me a sense of normalcy that I’d been lacking.

I had a funny feeling today. At the end of our season at ImprovAcadia, I frequently feel tired and not very creatively ambitious. I might do a bit of knitting or even drawing but I kind of go fallow. I know that I’m still doing shows and yes, they require creativity but not on the scale of my summer schedule. So I’ve been waiting to feel like I have a surplus o’ creativity. Today I started to get the feeling that the fallow period is coming to an end - I am filled with nitrogen!

We’re about to change itineraries which I’m really looking forward to. We have one more week of the Bahamas and then we go to four 10 day Caribbean cruises. We have a great itinerary - NYC, 2 sea days, St. Thomas, Barbados, Antigua, St. Maarten, Tortola, and 2 sea days. There should be lots of good snorkeling on all of those islands. I’ve never been to St. Maarten and I’ve only been to St. Thomas once.
I hope to get over to St. John’s and see the National Park. Larrance and I bought new masks and snorkels this year. Our masks are super fancy - they have glass that goes around the side so we have better peripheral vision. I need to try it out!

Check out my flickr site - I put up more photos.

Yeah. Uh-huh. Bieeeeee!

~Jen

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Bahamas & Dangerous Breakfasts

Hey!

Well, we’re on our third Bahamas cruise. Our itinerary is as follows: NYC (home port), Sea Day, Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau (New Providence Island), Freeport (Grand Bahamas) and then a Sea Day and back to NYC.

We’ve had three port days in NYC and they’ve all been great. It’s really lovely to be in NYC during the Christmas season. Everything is decked out in holiday decorations and the teeming city is even more teeming. We’ve mostly just wandered on our New York days. The first day we walked around Mid-Manhattan (the ship ports at 48th & 12th) and went to Whole Foods. The next time we walked to Time Square, then to Bryant Park, then 30 Rock, then the Public Library and back. We’ve been sampling various pizza places and doing a bit of shopping but mostly it’s just been about walking around the city. This last NYC they wouldn’t let us off the ship until 12:30 (we ported at 9:15am) so we just took a short jaunt to find some of our secret santa presents. Then back....

Tomorrow a few of us are headed to Islands of Adventure which is near Disney World. Normally on Port Canaveral day, we run errands and get some internet time. I’ve been using that day to post lots of photos to the blog. Port Canaveral is a very useful stop and we’re looking forward to going to Cocoa Beach.

The next day we port at Nassau. The town of Nassau is a fairly large city (250,000) and it has a nice shopping and restaurant district. You can also walk along the ocean front. I must say that everything is super expensive in Nassau. There’s a famous Greek restaurant on Bay Street, run by a Greek!, and we stopped there for some Gyros and a beer and it cost us $50. We weren’t ripped off - the food was delicious - but Nassau is pricey.

Paradise island is attached by a bridge to New Providence and the Atlantis Casino/hotel/shopping mall/ nature center/man made beach/aquarium is located on Paradise. We went there last week to look at the free part of the aquarium. It’s really amazing - they have two HUGE Manta Rays, a nurse shark, a sting ray and lots of fish - and that’s just the free part. To see the rest of the aquarium cost 30 buck so I’m not sure we’ll pop for that. There is a water park on Paradise Island and from what I understand there’s a water slide that goes through the shark tank. Obviously you’re enclosed in a tube....or at least I hope so.

We went to Cabbage beach on Paradise. It’s a public beach and it’s really very nice. It’s on the exposed Atlantic side so there’s some big waves but the beach is long and large. We enjoyed our first dip in the ocean and got pushed around a bit by the big waves.

Freeport is not such a great port. I’m sure the island it lovely but we’re only there until 1pm. We get there at 7am and I just can’t see getting up early to go to the beach. Also it’s hard to get a cab to take you anywhere but the “ship approved” shopping/beach stop. I’ve never experienced this before but the dispatcher will only get you a cab to this one area. They tell you it’s downtown Freeport but it’s a duty free shopping area and casino. Boo. And it’s a 20 minute/$5 cab ride....so double boo.

We’ve been enjoying a slower pace on this part of our contract. A little more sleep, spending less money and drinking less coffee.

The passenger profiles have changed a lot. In Europe, the passengers were pretty polite, fairly reserved and calm. Porting out of NYC, the passengers are still nice but they’re not as polite, far from reserved and you have to watch your fingers in the buffet. I must say that they make for great audiences - very responsive, and since they’re mostly from NYC, super hip to what we’re doing. We’ve really seen the difference in our improv shows - they’re so educated that they’re with us from the first game. It’s nice.

Still, breakfast on these cruises is a horror show. You come up to the Garden Cafe and they’re swarming like a pack of killer bees or pirana. They hover and they stare until they decide to swoop in and take everything. If you’re too slow, they buzz around you and nibble at your elbow. They eat massive amounts of everything. Lunch is the same as breakfast. I haven’t even set foot in the Chocolate buffet.

We’re getting ready for Christmas on the ship. The cast did a Secret Santa drawing. I’ve already completed my Secret Santa present. Larrance did half of his yesterday. Tomorrow Larrance is going to ship some packages to my family. So we’re almost ready....now if we could just ship ourselves home.

~Jen

Monday, December 8, 2008

Uh...

Okay so the link to my photos isn't a clickable link. So....copy and paste into browser window and go see photos. I'll post more next time. I have like 653 and I've posted about 40.

~Jen

Photos...

Hey,

I've had to use Flickr to post my photos. Here's the link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24686119@N02/?saved=1

You might have to join Flickr but it's easy! So do it and look at my photos...

Jen

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cappuccino, Cappuccino, Croissant......

We just finished our transatlantic crossing and are enjoying the first day of our new Bahamas run.

What happened in our final days in Europe and on the crossing? Well, I’ll tell you.

Our itinerary was as follows:
Barcelona
Villefranche
Florence
Rome
Corsica
Sea day
Malaga, Spain
Sea day
Sea day
Sea day
Sea day
Sea day
Sea day
NYC

Our final day in Barcelona, Rance, Deanna, Larrance and I decided to go and see Anton Gaudi’s La Pederera and Park Güell. They were both amazing. La Pederera is an apartment building that’s still inhabited, the roof of which is dotted with several sculptures. The whole building if filled with Monet-like murals, organic sculptures and accents (hand rails and such), and two courtyards. On the top floor, there’s a museum all about Gaudi’s works.

In the museum, I saw a film about one of his buildings Casa Batallo. We didn’t see it this time...I look forward to seeing it when we come back next year!

After we finished at La Pederera, we had to stop for coffee and a repast. We picked a local place and had spanish omelette and cappuccino's. Very good. Deanna went to a place next to the place we went and came back with some quiche and a really good looking Chocolate croissant. She let me try it and we ended up getting our own. It was so different from the croissants in France. It was heavier with richer chocolate....it was very good. Very good. It gave us the necessary fuel to tackle Park Güell.

We took the local subway (Metro) system to a stop near the Park. The subways in Barcelona are pretty great. Instead of being several cars with doors in between, they are joined by smaller connector cars. So you can look from the back all the way to the front and as the train travels through all the twists and turns you can just watch the train move. Also there’s a map of the train over the door and as you come to the stop it lights up....AND there’s a camera that shows you the train as it pulls up....it was very easy to navigate their train system.

The walk to Park Güell was long but well worth it. Park Güell was a commissioned work for a textiles baron who wanted to have Gaudi design a community for his workers. Ultimately, the community didn’t work out but the Park still exists today. The Park is enormous and filled with sculptural bridges, a plaza, and several buildings. The front entrance to the Park is based on Greek Temples and features lots of mosaics which are inspired by sea creatures and other natural items. The park is filled with outdoor merchants and tons of live music.

Our favorite act was a combo of a living statue mixed with one part Carlos Gardel and one part Edith Piaf. It was a man and a woman. They were standing up on a bench - he had a guitar and was in a suit and a fedora, she was in a red coat and heels and cloche type hat. They would be frozen until money was put down then he would play guitar and she would dance and sing in French. We were enchanted by them.

The next day we were in Villefranche again so we decided to take the bus to Nice. The bus ride was easy and quick. We wandered Nice with Rance and Deanna. We had a day with no particular agenda and yet we managed to see the Old section of town, the open air flea market, several churches and plazas. We also drank cappuccinos, ate baguettes on the beach and crepes outside the bus station. It was a great day!

As always, Florence was a big day. Rance, Deanna and we decided to go to the Uffizi to see everything. We got to Florence after about an hour and half train ride. We knew we had to....stop for coffee...what am I going to do in the US? We found this great place that had leather seated chairs, marble tables and great coffee. We enjoyed the food and headed off to the Uffizi. We go there and once again we didn’t have to wait in line or even deal with any big groups. The museum was busy but by no mean crowded. Larrance and I bought a “Official guide to the Uffizi” and it was well worth it. It gave us lots of great info about what we were seeing. Rance and Deanna also had a list from a passenger’s son who’s an art student about the 15 works to make sure you see. So we headed in and started looking at art.....it was really exciting to see a lot of the works that I’ve studied in various classes. My favorite room was the Botticelli room - in there we saw the Birth of Venus, Primavera and one I can’t remember the name of...it’s the portrait of a young florentine man. We also saw Carravaggio’s Medusa which was impressive. At some point we all hit our limit and we were ready to go, that is not an easy museum to get out of. I thought we were at the end and it turned out there were like 12 more galleries. Then we had to make it through the five room gift shop....ayiyiyiyiyiyi.

After the Uffizi, we had about 2 hours left in Florence. So we decided to go to a restaurant and really enjoy some Tuscan food and, of course, wine. We found a great place just behind the Uffizi and we feasted on Riboletto (a robust veggie soup), gnocchi, pasta, tomatoes and mozzarella, pesto and chianti. We way over-ordered - frankly the soup alone would have been enough for lunch - but undaunted we endeavored to eat everything. We didn’t manage but we made a respectable dent. After lunch, we had to get back to the train. I managed to make a quick stop to get a small Fig gelato - it was mercifully less than my gelato in Rome- onlys 2 euro and it was light and very delicious.

The next day, in Rome, we traveled with the entire cast plus one of the Youth Counselors, Kim. We got to Rome and headed to the Colosseum. They were shooting a movie at the Colosseum which was interesting to see. We had a good time trying to guess what the movie was and realizing that extras are really the same everywhere.

We decided to purchase a guided tour of the Colosseum and I was so glad we did. Our tour guide, Philomena, was very knowledgeable and her political views were on the left. Our tour started outside and I was worried we might have to wait in line but once again no line! We got in right away which was in part thanks to the tour. Once we were inside Philomena explained what we were seeing. Did you know that there was an elaborate set of elevators beneath the Coliseum arena? You did? Oh. Well, I didn’t. Yeah. After our tour was over, we split into two groups.

Mike, Larrance and I went off on our own to walk by the Forum and get some lunch. The rest of them finished the tour on the Palatine Hill. I saved it for next time.

Rome is super overwhelming and kind of confusing. Because it’s an old city it’s so far from a grid that it’s very easy to get lost. You’re always running into Piazza’s and little side streets that are not on the map...well, not on our map. So we found the Forum easily and it’s surrounded by other amazing archeological sites....one thing that I was struck by was how everything is built on the same spot over and over again. So you have a church which has obviously been built on an old “pagan” site.

Side note: Philomena told us that many of the sculptures that are in the Vatican and other sites in Rome were actually statues that were taken from the Coliseum and re-appropriated. They’ve been working to get these statues back. For example, there was a statue of a minor god who’s head was found on a statue in the Vatican and his body was found in a plaza somewhere. They reunited the head and body and the statue lived happily ever after.

We got lost several times in our efforts to find Nazionale street. It’s a big street but the path from the Forum to it were, uh, unclear. When we found it, we found a cash machine which was great because we were out of money and I was starving. I was so hungry that I was close to getting hangry. Not good. After we got money, we found a great pizzeria and had some incredible pizza and a beer. Yeah! I have no idea what I ordered, this happened to me a lot, but I got pizza with whole mushrooms and some kind of soft mellow cheese and parsley. We sat on the street and watched people walking by. We saw what was, I think, the smallest bus ever. Seriously it was a bus shaped van but it wasn’t a van. Maybe it was a Ban or a Vus...


Then we made our way back to the Train station to catch the 3:09. Which put us back in the port of Civitavecchia at about 4:40pm. So we had another coffee and pastry and did a bit of shopping...Apparently, it was lucky we got the 3:09 train because our cast mates took the 4:09 and barely got back in time. Civitavecchia is a beautiful port city and was hopping at sunset.

Next morning we woke up on the island of Corsica in the town of Ajaccio (Ah-jax-see-o). Ajaccio is a small sea side town with lots of boulangeries, pastisseries and an open air market. Larrance and I wandered the town on our own after COFFEEEEEEEEE.

We had caffe lattes across from the open air market. We watched the people and the passengers (almost like people!) walk by. We enjoyed our coffee and seeing the locals greet one another. Larrance managed to have a small chat with the owner of the coffee shop. After that we purchased some mushroom quiches and chocolate croissants from the boulangerie next door. We did not get far before we were eating our quiches.....they were amazing....I mean I have had quiche before but nothing like this. It was rich without being overwhelming and it was savory and flakey and buttery and mushroomy. AAHHHH, so good. We saved our croissants for later and made our way to the beach. The beach was on the other side of town which as it turns out was not far at all. We walked there and touched the Med on the French Rivera.

From there we tried to see the Museum (works that Napoleon stole during his exploits that his Uncle brought to Corsica), but it was closed for the season. At that point, I realized that we were standing in a French Bar Harbor. Closed for the season....yeah.

I did manage to find a French knitting store (they call it Tricoter!) and I bought some bamboo yarn. Yay!

We had a show that night so we wandered back to the ship early. I have to say that I really enjoyed performing for the Euro crowds. We only did one Stardust show (sketch show) because there wasn’t usually more than 1,000 English speakers onboard but they all loved the shows. I think that our shows are fairly unique for Europe. The audience absolutely loved the improv shows. The repo cruise was even better for us because there were more Americans/Brits/Canadians onboard. So our shows were well attended and well received.

We had a sea day which was a much needed rest.

Our final port before the actual crossing was Malaga, Spain. Wow. Malaga is great. It’s like a more relaxed Barcelona. It’s the birth place of Picasso so there’s a small but very nice Picasso museum there. There’s also the ruins of a Roman theater and some other ruins. Not to mention lots of shopping, restaurants, street performers and music.

Mike was signing off in Malaga so he could go home and visit his girlfriend. So our first order of business was to help him find the train station so he could catch the train to the airport. The train station was a bit further than we thought but we got to have a nice walk through the more local part of town. The train station itself was huge - part train station, part mall, part cafe. Mike had to find a locker so Larrance and I sat down and had coffee and croissants. How did I not gain like 20 pounds with all of this coffee and croissant action? Walking, walking, walking. We walked everywhere. After Mike dropped off his luggage we made our way back to the downtown area.

Malaga is filled with marble plazas, old buildings, lots of people and fountains. We walked around and found the Roman Theater. It was very well preserved and apparently still in use. While we were there, a group of children in costume were brought on to the stage and seemed to be preparing for a performance. Also there was a giant papier mache octopus over the trees next to the Roman theater...why? I don’t know but I loved it!

At that point, we parted company with Mike who made his way back to the train station. Larrance and I found the Picasso museum. In addition to the permanent Picasso exhibits there was a temporary Max Ernst exhibit. Both exhibits were great....

In the Picasso exhibit, they had a lot of his ceramics and his sculptural work. I saw some of his ceramics in Paris and while this might sound awful, I wasn’t impressed. I love his paintings and his sculpture but I thought his ceramics were so-so. I know, strike me dead! Maybe it’s because I grew up with a Potter/Sculptor for a Mom or I am a real jerk. You decide. Anyway, the ceramics in the Malaga museum were far more graceful and interesting. The vases, anyway, He had a bunch of platters and plates and I still thought those were “ehhh.” Jerk!

The Max Ernst was exhibit was really exciting. They had some of his sculptures, painting and lots of his illustrations done for publications. I’ve only seen a little of Ernst’s work before and I always liked them but I guess I had no idea of the breadth of his career.

After the museum, we were hungry. We knew that we wanted to eat some tapas and we knew that we wanted to eat in a “local” place. How does one find a local place? Get off the main drag, wander until you’re not sure where you are and look at the menus. Is there english on the menu? If so, no good. Keep going. We found a great place in what appeared to be an alley but we couldn’t get a table. We waited for like 10 minutes but no one was leaving and it appeared that 3 tables were just getting started. Reluctantly, we left and made our way back to one of town squares. Then we spotted an empty street passing several restaurants with english menus. We turned the corner and at the end of the street next to a building under construction we found it. You could just feel it - it pulled you. Walked to it and listened to the people sitting outside. No English. The menu was incomprehensible. Inside it was even better, piles of food being taken out, an open kitchen with a very busy chef and families and couples enjoying tapas. We took a seat at the bar and puzzled over the menu.

Now, we had limited euros and knowledge of Spanish. We were in the perfect situation for a real gustatory adventure. The waiter approached and we both realized at the same time that we were going to communicate using pointing, my broken Spanish and he bringing things and showing them to us. We wanted wine but he was of our first choice out so he showed us what he thought we should drink - we said okay. We stared at the menu and the chalkboard and I guessed at what things were. We tried to order things but they were out of things (maybe?) so we ordered Atun embollceido, Tomate and Pescado Bruschcheta.

While we waited we drank our red wine and we enjoyed the completely delicious olives. I’d seen them going out to the tables and I was trying to find them on the menu and I couldn’t find them. So then I was trying to figure out how I would ask for them...I knew we had to have them. Well, they were complimentary. Yay! They were lemony, garlicky and meaty all at once. They were perfect with the wine. Then we got our tuna which was in a lemon-olive-oil-onion mixture. Tomate turned out to be a huge plate of roughly sliced tomatoes in olive oil and salt n’ pepper. I am not a big fan of tomatoes on their own but I manned up and ate a bunch of them. I mean - we ordered it so I had to eat it.
Our final course was a fish skewer...we thought it was going to be a fish brushcetta but brushchetta in Spain means skewer...or does it? I’ll never know. I do know that our skewer was grilled and dressed with lemon juice and very good. It had salmon, squid, shrimp and more tuna (?). All in all it was a great way to end our last day in Europe.

I’m really going to miss being in such exciting ports but I’m sure we’ll save some money in the Bahamas.

The crossing was super fun. Larrance was involved in the “Bowling with the Stars” competition - he came in first place in the semi-finals but was defeated by another team and Neptune (God of the Sea) in the finals. Larrance thought he was just going to bowl for fun but he ended up with a partner who was super competitive and way too serious for his own good. But I think that Larrance had fun bowling......

The crossing started the next day with a very rough and rocky sea day. For the first time ever, I experienced sea sickness. I woke up feeling poorly - headache and generally blah. While I was in the bathroom and away from the window, I felt my stomach flip and kind of....quiver. I brushed it off and head to breakfast. We decided to sit outside where I could watch the horizon. Like and idiot I had a really weird assortment of food for breakfast but everything was making me feel kind of weird. I sat there and thought this is bad. Then I went to the office which is in the back middle of the ship - really rocky - I felt even worse. I went to our room and decided to get in bed. I was feeling worse by the minute. So Larrance, who was fine, offered to go to the Med Center and get me an Anti-emetic. He came back , I opened the package and instead of chewing it (suggested) I swallowed it. I sat there for about one second and then got up and.....got rid of breakfast. I felt better after, but wasted. I chewed one of the pills and passed out for about 2 hours. When I woke I felt completely spent but not sick....it was so awful.

The next rough day I was worried I’d get sick but I didn’t....not at all. Weird, huh?
I blame my one day sea sickness on withdrawal from European coffee and pastry.
Don’t tell me I’m wrong, just send pastry and cappuccinos!

Another phenomenon of the crossing was that it was super social. Passengers really got to know us because we did extra improv shows and workshops. So we couldn’t go anywhere without them stopping us to chat which was really nice....we met some really nice and interesting people and since we were crossing and not in port it was great to chat with them for a bit to a long bit.

Our first day in New York was short but lovely - in this order - we ate pizza, went shopping, went to Whole Foods and then back to the ship. Next week, we’ll have a bigger NYC adventure.

Whew. Big entry.
More photos to come on Monday!

xo,
Jen

P.S. Post some comments so we know you're reading!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lunch in Lucca


Lunch in Lucca
Originally uploaded by shepardjennifer34
Larrance and I at our lunch in Lucca, Italy. Beth, our Producer, took us to a wonderful lunch in a little Italian place. It was delicious.

French Lips in Villefranche

I have a whole series of photos with Mike and Larrance making their "French" face. This photo is actually in France with the lips!

Barcelona - Constitution Plaza

Larrance looking super handsome on Plaza de Constitution in Barcelona.

Origami in Barcelona

We wandered around Barcelona on our first day there. We walked a long way that day and in our wanderings we found these windows filled with origami bugs. Weird and great.

Approaching Pisa


Approching Pisa
Originally uploaded by shepardjennifer34
This was our first view of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Larrance and our tapas in Malaga

This is the first a few photos I will post today...

When we were in Malaga, Spain, we got a little off the beaten path and found a great tapas place. No one spoke english and we had a great time finding out what exactly we'd ordered....

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Family & Florence Cruise

Hey Everyone!

On our next to last cruise (aka the last full cruise before the repositioning cruise), my step sister & her husband visited. Their names are Michele & Jay.

The itinerary was the same as it has been for the last two weeks. We visited Malta on Tuesday. In Malta, we walked to Freedom Square and from there we walked to get coffee...of course! Then we decided to see the Palace. The Palace was very interesting. Lots of painted/frescoed ceilings and walls. Malta had lots of crusaders buried there so there were tons of family crests and portraits of knights. One of my favorite rooms was a room of tapestries of wildlife in South America. There were no photos allowed so I can’t show you but they were amazing and very well preserved.

After the palace, we decided to head to St. John’s Co-Cathedral . The outside was so very plain. The inside was AMAZING. The floor was made of hundreds of tombs of crusader knights. The ceiling was gold and painted and brilliant. There was a nave for each of the countries that were involved in the crusade. The naves were full of statuary, tombs, frescoes, paintings and more tombstones. The Cathedral also had two Carravaggio’s - The Beheading of St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome. They were both great. Bonus items were the illuminated chorale texts and the flemish tapestries. Really it was a great thing to see.

On Naples day, we set off for Herculaneum/Ercolano. Ercolano was destroyed in the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD but unlike Pompeii it was preserved under a layer of lava. The lava moved slowly and because it was somewhat “cooled” when it reached Ercolano lots of wood, fabric and paper was preserved. The site is not very big so it was easy to do it in a few hours. We saw lots of great mosaics, some masks and statuary. The site was practically empty which was also great. We got an audioguide and that gave us some additional info. Most of the people in Ercolano knew that the explosion had occurred so they fled to the beach where they thought they should be safe. And they were...until the giant flood of lava occurred. Yeah. Bad news.

Michele & Jay took tours in Rome & Florence. On Rome day we woke up to find out that there was a huge storm hanging over Italy. There was heavy rain, hail and at least 5 water funnels spotted on the ocean. A water funnel is basically a tornado pre-land. Needless to say, we didn’t go anywhere. Michele & Jay did get to go on the tour. Oddly, we ran into their tour in Florence by the Duomo. It was funny.

So we went to Florence as a cast. We got there pretty early. We took a quick break and then headed of to the Duomo. The Duomo was amazing. The outside is very intricate with the different colors of marble to create geometric patterns. It’s also covered with lots of statues. Across from the Duomo is the Bapistry. The Bapistry has these amazing doors that are covered in bronze (originally gold) and the door has 12 panels (?) on it. Michele told me that each panel represents one of the major stories from the Bible. I don’t know if you’ve heard of the Bible but the Italians love that thing!

While we were at the Duomo, Deanna encouraged us to climb the Cuppola. The Cuppola was designed by Bruneschelli - there were no visible supports - they’re all built inside. I can’t explain it but it’s amazing. It’s painted with frescoes of the progression from hell to heaven. The depiction of hell is horrific and very imaginative. Heaven is heaven - lovely, calm and beatific. Hell is crazy, gross, violent and awful. I have pictures.

The climb up was 486 steps. I got some great photos going up and from the top it was breath taking. We took lots of photos. Surprisingly the climb down was also 486 steps.

After that we went to the Academia to see Michelangelo’s David. November is a great month to travel. Usually there’s a long line to get in and you need to reserve a time slot with hundreds of people to crowd around David for the alloted 15 minutes.

We just walked right in and stayed as long as we wanted in a nearly empty hall.

David is spectacular as is the whole beautiful city of Florence.

The final day of the cruise, we just hung around and enjoyed Villefranche. We went to a local market in the town center and bought some jewelry, we ate some chocolate croissants, drank some cappuccinos, bought some postcards and drank some wine.

Now we’re off on our final Euro ports and then the crossing!

~Jen

Thursday, November 13, 2008

captions

Larrance with a statue of one of his "relatives" in Naples
Malta - city of Valletta
Mike, Michele, Me & Jay at Herculaneum.

Second attempt for photos - a few more



Storms make for Internet Time

Hey,

Today there was a terrible storm in Civitavecchia (port o' Rome) so we went to the internet place. I uploaded some photos but it was slow so they got uploaded in a somewhat haphazard manner.

Here's a list of what's there:

The Cathedral of Pisa - near the tower
A view of The Vatican & Rome from the bridge by Castle di Angelo
My 15 euro gelato
Tower of Pisa
Trevi Fountain - Rome - in the middle is Ocean, on the right is health and on the left fortune. I think....
Malta - slightly blurry but it took to long to upload so....yeah
Barcelona - Larrance reading the map on the Via de George Orwell
Barcelona - Constitution Plaza
Lucca - the wall and the tower
Lucca
L & J with cappuccinos

I tried to get a more photos but it didn't work. So more later....maybe later today....











Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Week Two - Oh, my legs! 11/2 to 11/9

Hey!

Last week was our first week “alone” on the ship. By “alone”, I mean without our producer, director and our producer’s assistant Monica. So there’s still the whole cast....

Here’s a quick breakdown of what we did each day:

Barcelona: We walked everywhere - the Gothic section, the old Roman section, a pastry shop and we found the Picasso museum.
Sea day: Not much. Sleep in, relax, gym and some Gloom.
Malta: We wandered to the city center. Lots of photos.
Naples: Archeological museum of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Pizza. Walked 4 miles.
Rome: We saw Vatican city, Castle of the Angel, Piazza Nuvona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Coloumno and the Spanish Steps. Walked like 6 miles. Also gelato for 15 euro.
Pisa: The tower, the cathedral, a bit of the city and purple is the color of the year in purse form. Walked 4 miles?
Villefranche: handmade soap shop, cappuccino on the waterfront, we learn about the bus to Nice.

And now for some highlights....

It was raining in Barcelona so the first thing we did was get a cappuccino and a Spanish Omelette sandwich. We walked all of the La Rambla - taking in all the sites. From there we kind of just wandered all over the Gothic and the Roman sections of the city. In the Gothic section we heard some wonderful music - a soprano singer and an excellent spanish guitarist. They were both great and the setting - the gothic section - was just magical.

The day in Barcelona was about getting our bearings. We found the archeological museum and the Picasso museum but we didn’t go in. Instead we found a lovely piazza and got a glass of local wine and later we found a fantastic patisseria/bomberia called La Colmena and got some local pastry. The pastry is great and we went back again this week.

As I mentioned above we went to the Archeological museum in Naples. The museum wasn’t very well organized - everything was labeled in Italian (of course!) but the English labeling was very random. One cool thing was they were moving a rather large statue and working on some new rooms so we got to see that. We also managed to find the room of artifacts of.....sex. Yes. It was called the Secret Room and it was filled with ribald lanterns, paintings, beds and uh, statues. The statues were very....upright.

Naples is like the NYC of Italy. I mean there are people everywhere and scooters, taxi’s cars, construction and garbage. Still, it is an exciting city. The people aren’t overly friendly but we have noticed one phenomenon. We got lost twice. Both times a middle aged man, usually dressed nicely, stopped to help us. They went out of their way to give us directions - one man almost missing his bus to do so.

Rome was a great day and a long day. As you can see from the list above, we saw a lot of sites in one day. The whole day was amazing. My favorite site was definitely the Trevi Fountain. I’ve always liked fountains and this was a fountain on a grand scale.

I did have one mildly unfortunate event happen to me. We were close to the Spanish Steps and we decided that some gelato would be good. So we stopped in a shop and Brett got a cup of gelato that cost him 5 euro. I’d spied these good looking cones with dark chocolate on them and asked for one of those. The clerk told me it would be extra and I said okay. He proceed to create an enormous cone of gelato embellished with creme freche, cookies, caramel sauce, little cones, a mini paper umbrella and a purple sparkly thing. I thought, “oh, this is nice.” Then he gave me the price - 15 euro! 15. Euro. I had been suckered. I paid for it and luckily it was excellent. I did find out that this happened to some other passengers which made me feel a little bit better. I’ll post a photo of it later.

Pisa - what can I say - the tower was great! The cathedral by the tower was beautiful. They also had several great stalls that were selling purses. I walked away with a great purple handbag. The clerk told us that purple is the color of the year.....we thought she was pulling our wallets but now I’ve seen purple everywhere!

Villefranche was an easy day which is just what we needed after Italy.

This week my step sister, Michele, and her husband, Jay, are on board. We showed them around Malta and today we went to Herculaneum. What’s Herculaneum? Well, I’m glad you asked. It’s a city that like Pompeii was destroyed/covered by the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius. Instead of being covered by ash, Herculaneum was covered by lava. The lava was somewhat cooled (relatively speaking) so some wood, papyrus and clothing survived as well as a bunch of mosaics and sculptures.

But I’ll write more next week....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Larrance on Italia

I'm pretty sure that many people that know me know that my favorite food of all time is pasta with tomato sauce. Well, I'm in Italy 3 days a week and am loving the pasta. Naples tomato sauce is lighter than Roman. Tuscan has more fresh tomatoes in it. At least from my few experiences. But it's all good with a glass of Chianti.

This European jaunt is all about history, streets, museums, cappuccino, pizza, pasta, chianti and a day in France and Spain as well for their delightful streets and treats.

Soon we cross the Atlantic and settle in New York for the Caribbean run. That's all about snorkeling and rum. I look forward to it but in the next two weeks that we have left in Europe I intend to see more museums, walk more streets and eat a lot more pasta and wash it down with chianti.

Cheers!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Things First

We woke up at 6am to find out that our next president will be Barak Obama and we could not be happier. What a wonderful feeling to know that we will have a president that we can be proud of. Yes, we can!

Okay, begin blog....
**********************************************

Malta, Naples, Citavecchia, Lucca and Villefranche - week one

Hi Everyone,

Well, we’re just starting our second week. The first week on the ship was very hectic but fun too.

The first day we got on the ship we were very tired. We had a glimpse of Barcelona from the shuttles windows but we had no energy to go into the city itself. So we settled in on our first day and went to dinner for Mike’s birthday. The dinner was excellent but I felt like I was going to fall over onto my shrimp and swordfish and begin to snore. We both slept about 12 hours that night. 12 hours. That’s a lot of sleep. Unfortunately it didn’t really refresh us but left us feeling still jet lagged.

The next day was a sea day. We didn’t meet for rehearsal until 1:30. Rehearsals went well but we didn’t get onto the stage until the next day. That night I had a horrible time sleeping. I got like 3 hours.

We were in Malta the next day - Malta is beautiful! It’s an ancient walled city and the sail in is really spectacular. As you come into port you have Valletta on one side and on the other you have Sliema. The water is a brilliant blue and the walls of the city are a light blonde stone. It looks like the city grows out of the stone. The city has the look of a Byzantine city with a lot of Italian influence. Malta is an independent country and their languages are English and Maltese. We didn’t have time to wander around but we did have time for coffee and lunch. Always time for coffee - a cappuccino! After lunch I purchased a Maltese pastry - a puff pastry pretzel thing covered with almonds, dark chocolate and more almonds. It was great.

We had some time on the stage that day. The show was coming along but had a lot of work left to do. We had the night off and I used some of that time to study.

Naples was our show day. Naples day is also known as Wednesday. We didn’t get off the ship but we took some photos from the ship. I’ll be posting photos later when I have access to fast internet so for now just words.

The rehearsals went very well that day but it did feel like we were doomed to never get a full run through. We kept getting interrupted by different events on the ship. But, you know, that’s part of living on a ship....there’s always stuff going on. This was a big week for crew events - they had the Miss Norwegian Gem contest and they had a big Halloween party. I didn’t go to either because I was busy trying to sleep and failing.
FYI - Miss Indonesia was crowned the first Miss Norwegian Gem.

We did manage to get a run through in and then we were excused to get ready for the show. We did the show and it went great. The crowd loved it and we felt very proud of our work. We all look forward to doing this show for the next four months.

That night I slept barely at all. Barely at all. Suckville.

The next morning was the planned cast trip to Rome. We just weren’t up to it. I woke up after about 3 hours of sleep and felt like crying. So I stayed in bed. Larrance went and made our apologies and we ended up hanging out in Citavecchia with our friend, Mike. There’s not a lot to Citavecchia. It’s a cute, quiet town. We had coffee, looked at the open market, got pizza (of course!), took photos, petted an Italian dog, had more coffee and returned to relax before our first improv show. The show went great. We have a great cast. Lots o’ fun.

The next day we were in Livorno which is close to Florence. Instead of going to Florence we went to the medieval city of Lucca. Lucca is a walled city with lots of great buildings, sculptures, and piazzas. To get there we had to take a shuttle to the bus, take the bus to the train station, stop for cappuccino, train to Pisa, switch trains to go to Lucca. Lucca is beautiful. I want to go back there when it’s not raining so we can ride bikes along the ancient wall and sit out on the piazza. Since we couldn’t do that we had hot chocolate (more like liquid chocolate mousse) inside. Beth, our producer, took us out to a great lunch at an Italian restaurant. What did you have for lunch? I’m glad you asked:

We had a plate of local appetizers - prosciutto ham, gombatelli (cured fat on bread), salami with fennel, chicken liver pate and some other meat. I tried everything. I ate all of the ham and the pate. All of it!

Next I had a savory tart with ricotta and mushrooms in a chick pea sauce. I ate all of it including the plate. BAM!

Then came my main course of handmade tortellini with ricotta, zucchini and tomato. Larrance had a Luccan soup made of onions. We ate all of that - double BAM!

For dessert I had pear cake with warm vanilla cream and Larrance had chocolate mousse. We ate all that - doubla BAM!

We also drank wine and of course more coffee.

Yeah, it was good. Yum.

We had our final improv show - the adult show. It was a fun show but I was TIRED. Not much sleep and lots of adventure makes Jen dull.

The final day of the cruise we are Villefranche. Villefranche is on the French Rivera. We were pretty tired. So we got up late went and had savory crepes, cappucinos and some water. Then we wandered the quaint, quiet and beautiful Villefranche. A lot of stuff was closed but it was so fantastic. The town is built into the mountainside and parts of the city are very old. So most of the walking is up narrow stairwells that open onto landings that have little gardens or private home courtyards. We finished our trip to Villefranche with the purchase of some perfume....for me.

I finally slept that night - a normal night’s sleep.

We said good-bye to our director - TJ, our producer - Beth, and her assistant - Monica that night. The next day we were in Barcelona. It was raining like sheets of rain with high winds. So we woke up for breakfast at 8:30 then went back to the room for an after breakfast nap. We woke up around 10:30am and got up to go out into Barcelona.

Barcelona is really amazing. Big, beautiful, fast, colorful and friendly. It was still raining but we walked all of La Rambla (markets, shops, restaurants). Then we got a map and started wandering. We found our way into the Roman Necropolis, The Gothic part of the city, lots of funky shops, and an incredible pastry shop. We had some amazing pastry - little almond lemon marzipan cookies and we shared a crunchy chocolate tube filled with chocolate mousse. OH WOW YUM.
We also located, for future use, the Picasso museum and the Archeological museum (see the underground city!).
We also drank cappuccinos and wine. We must have walked forever. I think I would have taken more photos but it was raining so I only took 70. Again, I’ll post them later.

Today is the sea day again and we’re starting all over. Tonight we’re celebrating Rance’s birthday. Tomorrow we’re in Malta again - we’re going to try and see the neolithic ruins and a bunch of other old stuff.

Hey, Europe! Keep it comin’!

Biiieeeee!

Jen

Monday, October 27, 2008

In the Mediterranean

We're on the NCL Gem in Europe. It was a whirlwind week. We closed ImprovAcadia on Saturday night with a sold out house and a great show. Thanks to Rich and Rebecca Sohn for a great two weeks.

On Sunday we cleaned and closed up the theater. Thanks Portia for all your help.

On Monday we cleaned and closed up the house.

On Tuesday we flew to Chicago. The Second City bought us a flight from Bar Harbor Airport and we were the only two people on the plane to Boston.

In Chicago we rehearsed the show all day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

We have a strong cast of our friends that have all been up to ImprovAcadia many times. Rance, Deanna, Brett, and Mike.

On Saturday we flew to Barcelona and joined the ship. We were jet lagged but put in a music rehearsal (there's a lot of music in the new show) and then had a dinner at the Mexican restaurant on board and toasted Mike's birthday.

Today, Monday we rehearse all afternoon. Our show goes up on Wednesday.

There are about 1,000 English speaking passengers on board so we'll only do the Main stage scripted show once to get them all into one house.

We're glad to be back on a ship and the Gem is a beautiful ship and the crew seems very friendly and cheery.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Closing Night.

Tonight is closing night of our 5th season at ImprovAcadia. We have a sold out house as we have for the past three nights. We had to close for two extra days this last week of our season because Larrance's father passed away and we had to go to Maryland for the funeral. Sad news is mixed with our hectic and exciting closing.

After closing tonight we'll spend two days cleaning the theater and preparing the house for the winter as well.

On Tuesday we fly to Chicago to prepare for our Second City show on the NCL Gem. We fly to Barcelona on Saturday and embark on our ship adventure on Sunday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And Chris makes four

We're trying to get our blogging muscle in shape to keep up with more frequent posts.

Chris Day came up for the Columbus Day weekend to join us on stage along with the Sohns.

We have one week left of our 5th season and our houses continue to be well attended in spite of Red Sox Fever, debates, economic jitters, and unseasonably warm weather. Two weeks from today we'll be on our way to Barcelona to join the NCL Gem for our Second City Contract.

Meanwhile, 9 more shows at ImprovAcadia.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

1002 and counting

We had a great sold out night for our one thousandth show with a six person cast. Jen, Mike Shreeman, Pat Shay, Mary Archbold, Rich Sohn, Rebecca Sohn.

Now we are into our last two weeks of the 2008 season and our cast is Jen, Rich, and Rebecca.

We'll see Mike Shreeman soon for our four months on the Norwegian Gem. But that's on the Sea. Meanwhile we're still on land and enjoying a beautiful and chilly Acadian autumn.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

1000 shows!

This Saturday, October 4th at 8PM will be our one thousandth show. We'll crack open some champagne to celebrate this landmark.

Our current cast is: Pat Shay, Mary Archbold, Mike Shreeman and Jen Shepard, of course.

We had a good September--up from last year. We've signed on our lease for another three years in our current space and are looking forward to season 6.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Here Comes Fall

Hello!

Well, here we are one week into our Fall season. It's finally getting a bit cold and the trees are starting to turn. September promises to be a busy month - Larrance's sister is visiting this week as is Marla's husband, James; my Dad and his wife Mary are visiting at the end of the month; and the NCL Dawn will be coming in once a week and our friends Jeff & Jeannie are on that ship so we'll probably see them pretty frequently. A month of social calls!

Last night was Sam's final night. He left this morning and left us a gift - the travel edition of Settler's of Catan! The travel edition! Wow! Thank you, Sam! If you haven't played Settler's of Catan - do it. I'd explain it but it sounds geeky than it is......or does it?

As of tonight the cast is:
Mike Shreeman
Marla Caceres
Me

Larrance had another day off this week. I'm unsure why we're actually letting him have time off work but we are. We went bike riding on the carriage paths! We were going to ride around Eagle Lake and maybe over to Jordan Pondhouse but the Eagle Lake carriage path was flooded! There were very heavy rains on Saturday and yesterday. So we rode around Witch Hole and Paradise Hill. I was very proud of myself as I rode up all the hills without stopping or walking my bike.

I'm traveling back in time but on Sunday night we had a Nacho Night. It was an epic Nacho Night - Larrance made lime daiquiris, I made guacamole and toasted corn cumin salsa and strawberry dessert nachos; Sam made Italian nachos; Marla made Cuban Pork Nachos. WOW - everything was so good! We're probably going to have another nacho night soon while Marla's husband is here.

We have five weeks left in our fifth season! Cross your fingers that we have a great fall. We've placed a radio ad on I-95 the classic rock station - it's on at approx. 12:32pm and 8:30pm - listen for it!

Jen

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day Off

Hello!

Well, yesterday Larrance had his first day off in two months! He was very excited. We went to the Blue Hill Fair (pics coming soon) and we enjoyed the Fair.

Marla and I rode the Thunderbolt and the Tilt-A-Whirl and got a little sick from so much spinning. But it was great.....and we ate fair food and did fair things.

Turn out that Sam grew up owning Llamas and Pygmy Goats so he was a great source of info about those animals. We visited the Llamas and Sam told us they hum - we heard them humming! We visited the goats and Sam said they were nice - they were nice! We had fun petting the animals and listening to stories of Sam's childhood.

We ended the day by making pizza at home, playing Pictionary Man and watching Hot Fuzzy.

It was a good day!

Monday, August 25, 2008

So I missed a few things...

August got real crazy. We've been busier than ever before so a few things slipped by the wayside....like the blog.

So a few casts have gone by without noting them, I'm going to remedy that right now:

Andy
Joe Burton
Shelby Jennings
Leah Gotcsik
Me

Then Leah departed and we just went with four performers for a bit. Then Farrell Walsh & Sarah Reule took Joe and Shelby's place so it was:

Farrell
Sarah
Andy
Jen

Then Andy left and Natalie Sullivan and Sam Super came so it's been for last three weeks....

Farrell
Sarah
Natatlie
Sam
Me

On Thursday, Natalie, Farrell & Sarah all depart and Jon Karpinos will go in. Jon's only here a short time, so until Sunday it will be:

Sam
Jon
Jen

On Sunday, Jon departs and Marla Caceres arrives so the cast becomes:

Marla
Sam
Jen

That's catches us up on casting.

Like I said, we've been very busy and we're very happy with season five.

More in the Fall when things slow down a bit but hopefully not to much....

Jen

Monday, July 21, 2008

What's up now?

We are in the thick of the busy season. Crowds have been good and surprisingly happy for July.

Our current cast is:
Joe Burton
Leah Gotcsik
Shelby Jennings
Vince Kracht
Me

This weekend Andy Eninger replaces Vince.

We had our first proposal! Rich asked Lucia to marry him atop Cadillac Mt! We're a breeding ground for love - well, they were in love before they got here but they got engaged here. So, we're a breeding ground for engagement. It's true.

I've tweaked my shoulder somehow - it hurts quite a bit. Frankly, it was either from the handstand I did (pretending to do a keg stand with the help of Shelby) or from the cat bit I did later in the evening. I was pretending to be my Mom's cat Talia after she would come in from being outside and having a good time. Yes, I hurt myself for a bit. I'm serious about bits!

We did our first Improvision at Reel Pizza about a week ago. Basically they show a movie that we've never seen without the soundtrack. We improvise all the dialogue, music and sound effects. Before we see the movie, we have an audience member pick a style from the bag of styles (horror, western, merchant ivory, coming of age, etc.) The first movie was Queen of Outer Space starring ZaZa Gabor. It went very well. We're doing our next one on August 1st at 11pm. Come see it!

More later....

Jen

Monday, July 7, 2008

Quick Update

Hi-

So we have a new cast!

Currently we have:
Rich Baker
Vince Kracht
Lucia Bonifazi
Amy Roeder
and
Me

On Thursday, Amy departs and Leah starts.

Yep.

There you go.

Jen

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who's here now

Well, it's...

Brett Lyons
Chris Day
Rachel Miller
Amy Roeder
Me

Chris leaves on Saturday - boo! But Dave Colan arrives - yay!

I have decided to leave knitting for a bit to try Creweling. Yeah, it's that exciting.

Today we're going to take a walk or if the weather holds we might go for a swim.

ImprovAcadia is quickly approaching the busiest part of the season. Already this week it's been very busy and it should just keep climbing. Hopefully July will be a super busy month...and August will be insane. Insane.

We're thinking about creating a radio spot for the fall. We have a bit of trouble getting the older crowd in for our Fall shows so we thought a radio ad might help reach an older demographic. So Andy and I are going to work on it when he's up here in late July and early August....

We're doing a new project this year. We're teaming up with Reel Pizza to create a show called Improvision. If you around Chicago in 2002 (or 03?) you might have seen Fuzzy's Cinema 2.0, and it's kind of like that. The difference for us is we won't know what movie we're going to be dubbing. Oh, and Larrance will be providing a new music score. We're going to do Improvision on July 11th, August 8th and August 15th - I think.

Okay, that's all.

~Jen

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

As of Today

Hi!

We've had a great June so far! The weather leading up to this week had been lovely but this week it's turned a bit grey and rainy.

Our current cast is:
Tamara Nolte
Brooke Bagnall
Josh Breit
Amy Roeder
& Me

We change this weekend with Chris Day arriving on Saturday and Rachel Miller and Brett Lyons arriving on Sunday.

It's hard to believe that we still have 4 months to go. All this grey weather is making it feel like fall. I feel like the ship has really thrown off my season-o-meter. Now winter is like summer and summer is like more summer so where's winter? My body is confused!

Today I'm going to move my office upstairs because we need to close up the dining room (which I use as my office) for one of the actors. Tonight we're having our second Nacho night of the season. Basically the cast divides into teams (Larrance & Me, Brooke & Josh, Amy & Tamara) and we each make a version of the Nacho. Then we eat the nachos and watch a horror movie or a horrible movie - sometimes those are one in the same. Fun times. Tonight I'm making Roasted Tomatillo Chipolte salsa over smashed guacamole with a shrimp.....shhhh, don't tell!

Jen

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oh, I didn't know...

Well, I received some guidance on what my blog entries should include from Rance "Fartface" Rizzutto. Rance asked that I list the cast as it stands right now:

Currently:
Abby McEnany
and
John Hartman

You can see their bios on our website http://www.improvacadia.com

Joining us this week - Tamara Nolte.
By the weekend - Brooke Bagnall & Josh Breit

One more thing, and this is also for ol' Fartface, fffwwwttwap.

Yay!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

ImprovAcadia is open!

Hello!

Well, we're open for season five. We opened just over a week ago and we've had a pretty good first week. The shows have been great and the crowds friendly.

It's raining today so we're unsure if this will help our house tonight or if everyone will flee the island. I don't think we've had a Saturday that hasn't been cold and rainy. Well, maybe last Saturday but that was the ONLY one.

I feel like we're settling into our summer groove. Remembering all the tasks and duties that we have when ImprovAcadia is open. It's funny the things you forget - like printing out the staff schedules. I just forgot to do it. It's been tough finding staff this year. I guess the whole island is experiencing a staff shortage. Part of this is due to the fact that the majority of work visas were denied so many businesses that rely on foreign workers were brought up short. We finally found our part time bartender and another waitress but it looked real hinky for a while.
We've been trying some new improv games this year. That's been fun to try out new stuff. I hope to add some more new games as the season progresses based on the casts' particular talents.

We add our fourth actor (with me, it's a cast o' five) next week and I'm looking forward to it. The addition of the fourth actor means we add more shows to our schedule. Next week, marks our slowly mounting climb to the height of the season. By the fourth of July, we'll be doing 2 shows a night Monday through Saturday with one show on Sunday.

So far it doesn't seem that the gas prices have affected us (knock on wood) and we're hoping that trend continues. We've been having some odd audiences though. I think people are in pretty good moods considering EVERYTHING. However, you can always tell when we're stressed as a country and we are. Still I think people are grateful to have a chance to get away and to laugh a bit. We are finding that lots of our audiences are from Maine so....we could finally get access to that elusive Maine audience. They can't get away from us so we'll just suck them in like a blackhole of comedy. Or some other more friendly image...uh, we're draw them in like a moth to a flame. No. How about? We'll attract them like teenage girls to the mall. Perfect.

I'm still knitting on that rug. I'm half way down which means I've knit 30 ft of rug. That's right, I have another 30 to go. Then I have to put in cotton cording, sew it shut, coil it and then sew it into a circular shape. I'm thinking about knitting some socks or a sweater but first I have to finish this rug.

Okay, I'm off to do laundry and go to the grocery store. EXCITING!

More later...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Two Weeks

We're a little over two weeks from opening. Things have gone crazy here....it's like we woke up and said, "Oh, right. We have stuff to do. Let's do it!" So we are...

I'm kniting a rug with all my odd's and end's o' yarn. The completed length is 60 feet and then you coil it into a circular rug. Bam!

It's hot, sunny and springy here.

This is short but so am I.

~Jen

P.S. Rance's favorite color is Hot Blue.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

One month to go..

Hi,

Well, we're one month away from opening for our fifth season. We haven't really started working on opening the physical space but we've been working on casting our season. We've got almost the whole cast in place. Now everyone is busy figuring out how they're going to travel up to the northeastern most corner of their country.

We've been working on getting the house ready. Progress on this has been slow. I've been doing some reorganzing but haven't really gotten into the heavy cleaning. I will, oh I will! Beware dust and (what I hope is) dirt! Murphy's oil soap is coming your way!

We're also working on hiring our waitstaff for the summer. I think we're almost done with that. Most of our staff is returning from last year and we have maybe one new addition. This is good news - former staff = easy to get open.

I got new glasses with the sunglass clip-on's. They were a little weird at first. The lenses are bigger than I'm used to and it's a new prescription. It felt a bit like I was in a fishbowl. Now I'm used to them. What? How do they look? Awesome!

For anyone who doesn't know, I'm a knitter. I knit. I purl. I frog. I decrease. I make one. I K2tog. I yo. I kftb. Oh, yeah! Anyway, I went through my yarn stash. Uh, I have a lot of yarn. Full skeins/hanks and many odds and ends. I need to decrease my yarnage. This will be a project for this summer. What will I make? Hmmm. Maybe a poncho...

I've been doing a lot of work in our yard. Raking, weeding, rebuilding little rock borders and planting stuff. I've planted marigolds, wildflowers (I know - they're wild but planted - more like, poserflowers! Oh, I got those flowers in the face!), lillies and lupines. Turns out that I like doing yard work. I thought I hated it. No, I like it. I think you could even say that I enjoy it.

If you have any questions about anything, post them in my comments and I'll answer them.
Serious.

Jen

Monday, April 14, 2008

Wow, that snuck up...

So here it is Monday. I meant to write this blog entry yesterday but I forgot so now I'm writing it.

We teach an improv class at COA (College of the Atlantic) on Monday and Thursday afternoons. We've just started our third week and the class is great. We're really focusing on long form improv with this group. Last time we taught at COA we focused more on short form work.

Why the change in focus?

We just wanted to teach a class on long form improv. Yeah. We're going to end the class with two groups who will both create their own original opening and perform a long form for an audience of their peers.

I've been on a big healthcare kick. Since getting back on March 30th, I've seen my doctor, been to the eye doctor and I have an appointment to see my dentist. I keep meaning to be more proactive about my health but I always put it off. Not this year! I'm going to go and pick out new glasses tomorrow - my eyes aren't that much worse but my prescription has changed. Besides I want some of those glass with the magnetic sunglass clip-on's.

Larrance's birthday is in one week - mark it in your calendars!

We haven't really started working on the theater yet but I am almost done with casting for the season. I really only have Sept. and Oct. to finish. Whoo-hoo!

Oh, we trapped a chipmunk in our house on Saturday. It was adorable but way overstepped its bounds. So we live trapped and took it to the other side of the Union River! Take that rodentia!

Jen

P.S. I don't hate chipmunks like I do squirrels.

P.P.S. I don't hate Maine squirrels the way I do Chicago squirrels.

P.P.P.S. Chicago squirrels beware my wrath!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Yeah...uh-huh

Well we're back in Ellsworth, ME. We've settled back into the house for the most part and we've started teaching our improv course at College of the Atlantic.

I was looking at my blog from last year and I realized that I really did a piss poor job of keeping up this year. I was thinking about why. I think part of it was that it wasn't all new. Also I was with a very social group this time around so I was spending less time blogging.

But now I have all these photos that haven't been seen....I need to sort them out but then I'll post some. I know what you're saying, "You said that last time and I came back but nothing had changed. You can't change!" I'm here to tell you - Sweetcheeks, this time it will be different. I promise, sweetcheeks! I'll post some photos and I'll get a job. Just give me another chance! Sweetcheeks, please!

Yes, I'm asking you not to break up with my blog.

I know last year I said I wanted to blog about the season and I do. I'm thinking I should set up a publish day....so how about Mondays. There will be a new post every Monday and maybe some bonus posts!

So, what do you say, sweetcheeks?

~Jen

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What have I been doing?

Well, not blogging obviously. Bad Jen!

I have a lot to write about and some photos to post.

Like I said, we had a great visit with my Mom and her husband, Ray. They were on for a five day cruise and we went to Tulum with them. Tulum is an anicent Mayan city right on the coast of Mexico - close to Playa del Carmen. It is a beautiful site - lots of intact structures and a picturesque beach. My Mom had her knee replaced two years ago and it was amazing to watch her climb all over the ruins.

On Grand Cayman, Ray went golfing with our castmate, Mike Shreeman. They had a great time golfing on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. They saw lots of blue iguanas.
At one point, Ray lost his ball and he went into the brush to find it. When he moved back a branch, he was confronted with a snake in the tree. Undaunted, he continued to look for his ball until he saw a second snake on the ground. It occurred to him that it might just be better to take the penalty and use a new ball.

While they we're golfing, Larrance and I took my Mom for her first ever swimming/snorkeling in the ocean--experience. We went to West Cemetery Bay which is one of our favorite spots on Grand Cayman. I took my Mom out right away. It was hard for her to trust the ocean - she thought she was going to sink. Then, to couple that with the foreign experience of breathing while your face is under water was all a bit too much for her. So we paddled around a bit and then got out to lay on the beach. I could tell that she was thinking it all over and suddenly she was ready to try again. So out we went and this time she got it! We swam around the closer, smaller reef and we saw all kinds of fish - Surgeon Fish, Tangs, Sargent Majors, Palmettos, Goat Fish, French Grunts and a couple of Squirrel fish.

After that Larrance and I swam out about 100 yards to the larger reef. We saw a spotted eel, a spiny lobster and hundreds upon hundreds of other fish including a bunch of cow fish. It was a great day.

The whole cruise was so much fun and it was a pleasure to have them on board.

Since then we've been taking it easy on adventures in the ports but we have had a few....here are some highlights:

Barbados - We went to a club called the Blue Monkey on Payne's Bay. Payne's Bay is known for having sea turtles around on a regular basis. From the beach to the site of the turtles was about 100 yards and it was filled with boats and jet ski's. Several guys tried to sell us a ride out to the turtles but we said "no thank you!"

Andy and I went first and for the first time in a long time I had a horrible anxiety attack in the water. The water was very choppy and close into the shore the visibility was awful. As Deanna said, it felt like we were in a sensory deprivation tank. Andy stayed with me and talked me through my attack - he was very sweet. Then we made it out to the turtles but there was only one! I was a little bummed thinking all my work was for nothing. Then 3 more appeared - two Green Turtles and two Loggerheads. We also saw two huge Honeycomb Cowfish and a weird thing called a Flying Gurnard. The swim back was just as hard but this time I was with Larrance so I felt very safe.

Dominican Republic - We went whale watching yesterday with Kim Beddall. Kim said that the Bay of Samana is like a singles nightclub for whales.The ocean was super rough yesterday. Luckily, I'd been told to get on the top level of the ship because downstairs was puketown. The ship was rocking so violently that every single person down there got sick - the rest of us on the top were fine. We saw one humpback whale which was very active. The whale breached, tail breached and tail slapped.

Later back on the cruise ship when we were pulling away from port, we saw like seven humpbacks in the distance. They were all breaching and tail slapping. I guess, like any good nightclub, things don't really start happening until nightfalls.


On the Ship - we've now been changed back to Crew. This is a good thing. Instead of being on the passenger list and being guests in crew areas, now we're crew again.

I'll put another update with photos up on Sunday. Sorry to my loyal readers - I hope you're still reading!

xox,
Jen

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's going on?


~Caught at Nelson's Dockyard in Antigua


Hi!

I'm still writing up an entry for my visit with my Mom and her husband as well as this last nine day cruise.

A few highlights....

While my Mom and Ray were on board, we visited Tulum. Tulum is an ancient Mayan city right on the ocean. It rained that day but we still had a great time exploring Tulum.

On Grand Cayman, Ray went golfing with Mike on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Or however you spell his name.... They had a great time golfing, seeing Blue Iguanas, snakes and the ocean.

Mom went snorkeling at West Cemetary Bay with Larrance and me. She'd never swam in the ocean let alone snorkeled. The first time out was a bit rough but by her second time she was a'snorkeling! After that, Larrance and I swam way out to a huge beautiful reef. We saw a spotted eel and a spiny lobster as well as thousands of fish...it was wonderful.

I will write more about our adventures later but here are some photos for right now!

Mom & Ray get comfortable on the NCL Jewel..


We had fancy drinks...


Then off to Mexico and the ruins


Tulum!











Grand Cayman!





xo,
Jen & Larrance

Friday, January 18, 2008

Over the Hill and through the Palm Trees

We’re just finishing up a nine day cruise. This has been a great cruise - Good weather, lots of snorkeling and fantastic shows.

Our Stardust show was changed to earlier in the cruise, we performed on Monday night this time. Our show fell on Tortola day so we just had a short day at Cane Garden Bay. The water was perfect and we played a bit of frisbee and then had some Ting’s at a waterfront bar. On our way back to the boat, we had a cab driver named Bozo. Bozo told us a lot about the surrounding islands. There’s one island that’s about 45 miles away called Anegada. It’s a coral atoll island circled by the third largest reef in the world as well as several shipwrecks. Larrance and I have put it on the list of places to visit. He also reccommended a beach for our next trip to Tortola - Long Bay on Beef Island. Beef Island is connected to Tortola by a causeway. We might go there or to a secret destination!

Our shows went great this week. We’ve really been working on the improvised musical that closes our show and I think we’ve got it! I probably shouldn’t say that but....we’ve figured out that we just have to make sure all of our characters are “of the same world.” It sounds so obvious but as improvisers we’re always trying to create something new. So we learned to just watch the first scene and pull our characters for scene two right from there. It works! We got lots of nice feedback from the passengers this week.

On Antigua, we took a tour of the island. We went to Nelson’s Dockyard, Devil’s Bridge and Long Bay Beach. Yes, they have a Long Bay too. Nelson’s Dockyard was very interesting and we wished we had more time there. We’re talking about going back on one of our future visits. Devil’s Bridge is a natural limestone bridge between two rocks - the bridge was formed by the pounding of the ocean. It was very dramatic. Long Bay Beach was a gorgeous beach in possesion of some of the softest sand I’ve ever felt. Walking on it was like having your feet on suede - it was great. The snorkeling there was pretty fine. You had to swim out a long way but there were lots of fishes out there. I spotted a Tiger Grouper which is a first this year.

In Barbados we had big plans to go and party at the Boatyard but we awoke to stormy skies and rain. So we just took an aimless stroll around town....Larrance and I went to the Bajan Cigar Factory and learned how they make cigars. Then he bought two cigars for him and Mike.

On St. Lucia we went to Marigot Bay. We’d tried to go to Marigot Bay a few weeks ago but the cab driver talked us out of it. This time we would not be swayed and I’m glad we stuck to our guns! It was fantastic. The cab dropped us off at a little pier and you have to take a tiny ferry over to Marigot. It’s a spit of land with a hotel, restaurant, beach, some jewelry stands and a bunch of rastafarians. The beach was dotted with incredibly tall palm trees and very few people. When I first got in the water, I was concerned because it was so murky. Andy, Larrance and I swam a good ways out and we got to a big wall made of rocks, coral and metal mesh wire. Andy found a way around the wall. On the other side of the wall, were hundreds of French Grunts, Damsel Fish, Brain and Fan Coral. It was fascinating just to watch all the fish swim in and out of the rock wall. But I’m glad I moved on....out beyond the wall was some great snorkeling. Huge brain coral, trunk fish, yellow tube coral, a little blue fish with teal to electric blue spots! It was great. Oh, and another Tiger Grouper. I guess that’s the fish of the cruise.

After we snorkeled for about an hour we decided to have lunch. We joined the non-snorkelers, Rance, Deanna & Mike, at the restaurant. On many of the Caribbean islands they have a local dish called Roti. Roti is a curried mixture wrapped in lentil flour bread. We had fish roti that was great. We added to it’s greatness by dousing it in scotch bonnet hot sauce. So first we looked at fish and then we ate them....seemed right at the time.

After St. Lucia we have two sea days back to Miami. Our improv shows are on the evening of the first sea day. Our improv shows also went great. This is such a fun group to work with!

Tonight we’re going to play Settlers of Catan - a game so geeky even my D & D loving brother won’t touch it. It’s perfect for the ship as it eats up like 2 to 3 hours every time we play it.

This last cruise my Mom and her husband were onboard. We all went to Tulum in Mexico. In Grand Cayman, Ray went golfing with Mike and my Mom went snorkeling with Larrance and me. I'll write a more comprehensive blog and post it in about a week with photos! Happy Fun Fun!

More to come...

xoxo,
Jen

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas to New Year’s Eve to Today

Hi,

So, long time no blog.

I had a bad cold for the last nine day. It started right before Christmas and just ended two days ago.

On Christmas Eve, we went to Brewer’s Bay on Tortola. We went in to snorkel and there were thousands (millions?) of little guppies everywhere. They were so thick that sometimes you couldn’t see anything - the ocean was also very wavy so there was lots of sand in the way.

Rance & Larrance saw a Stingray. I never saw it but I’m sure it passed me in the murky water. There were lots of fish called Palometas around too...they sort of looked like Angelfish.

We stayed in for a bit and then we decided to body surf on the big waves. I’ve never body surfed. I’ll bob around in the rough waters but I’m not big into getting into the waves.

But I thought I should try.

So I got ready for the first wave with Larrance next to me. It came and Larrance rode it all the way to the beach. Me? I got body slammed into the floor and then tumbled to the beach and when I stood up my top had been pulled down. Undaunted I tried again...only to get a free neti courtesy of the ocean, dragged to the beach and my top was pulled up again.

I kept trying, learned to hold onto my bikini top everytime the ocean grabbed me like a ragdoll and let the ocean water and the sand clean out my stuffed up nose. I know it sounds awful but it was really quite fun.

One neat thing: everytime a big wave came up, you could see all the little tiny guppies inside the wave - we were surrounded!!!

On Christmas Eve night Deanna, Rance, Larrance and I attended the Christmas sing-a-long on the ship. It was fun if a little odd. The pianst was Russian who now lives in Canada and he didn’t know or have music for the carols. He did his best but sometimes he ended up playing the wrong music...like he was supposed to play “Hark, the Herald Angel Sing...” but he played “Gloria Deo” instead. We all made do and had fun. After that we had dinner in the Garden Cafe and then went to Andy’s room to exchange our Secret Santa presents.

Andy was my secret santa - he got me some very nice things. My favorite was a set of stickers - one set is the “Jen approves” and it shows me smiling - the other is the “Jen disapproves” and it shows me scowling. Great gift. Everyone got each other very thoughtful and fun gifts and it was a fun way to spend Christmas Eve.

Christmas day was spent in Antigua. Everything was closed....and I’m glad, they should all be home celebrating and hanging with their fams! We walked around a bit and then went back on the ship since I was having trouble with the cold. Frankly I didn’t do much for the rest of the nine day cruise except rest. It paid off in energy and full voice for the shows.

By the last sea day of the nine day, I was back to my old self. On Miami day we spent the afternoon with the lovely Edward Strambio! He’s on the NCL Dawn which is in port with us on Sundays. We met at the Holiday Inn and then went to the Walgreens to stock up, then to Starbucks to caffeniate up and then to the beach to bask in the sunlight. It was a great way to spend the afternoon in Miami.

The first full sea day of this five day was New Year’s Eve. We all got dressed up and went to dinner at Azura. The menu was fantastic - so delicious and special. Then we saw Band on the Run....the JARS do such a good job and we wanted to support them on New Year’s Eve.

After that, it was up to the pool deck for the countdown to midnight. We stood on the deck, tried on goofy hats, had free champagne and took photos. Around 20 minutes to midnight, the cooks came out with an ice sculpture that said “2007.” ??? Well it turns out that they had a plan.

At midnight they pushed the 7 into the pool and replaced it with an .....8!!!! Right after that the cruise director, Paul, jumped into the pool in his suit and swam a lap. It was pretty great. We all hugged and kissed and felt grateful. A pretty great New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Day, we were on Grand Cayman. Larrance, Rance, Deanna, Svetlana, Roman and I all went to Smith’s Cove. We went there last time we were on Cayman and had a great time. This time was just as great but better!

Roman & Svetlana brought bread with them and the fish just flocked...er, swam to us. For Christmas, Rance’s mom sent him a waterproof set of fish flipcards. Rance takes photos so he gave the flipcards to me and I had a ball identifying all the fishies.

Later, Larrance and I swam over to another part of the cove and we saw a juvenile French Angelfish - it was beautiful. We also saw Squirrel fish, Doctorfish, Blue Tang, Cocoa Damsels, Tomates, French Grunts, Goatfish and some others that I didn’t have time to identify. Rance has some other cards so I’ll have to do some retro identifying.

We had our Stardust shows that night. They both went great. We’ve been struggling a bit with the improvised musical that ends our show. Just trying to find the right format and make sure it’s fun for all. I think we nailed it last night. They both rocked and we brought the house down.

Some of the JARS were at our show, I could see Jon Paul, Christopher, Phillipa & Ryan. There may have been others there but that’s who I could see. They were, as always, really supportive. After the show we went to Bar City, Deck 6 midship, and we had a drink with Christopher and Jon Paul. Then we went to the Blue Lagoon, Deck 8 midship, for some comfort food. We went to bed around 2am.

We both fell soundly asleep. Later that night I had a weird dream where I was trying to see a bulletin board but I couldn’t keep myself on the same level. I kept rising way up into the air and then dipping way down. Then the shuddering of the ship awoke me and I realized we were in the middle of a huge storm. 17 foot waves were rocking the ship and everything on the ship was rocking, creaking and shuddering. Larrance and I both were awake so we watched the storm from our porthole. But watching the storm made us both feel a little sick so we stopped. I tried to go back to sleep but the dipping and rocking of the ship kept waking me up. It was like my brain thought it needed to alert me to danger - I told my brain that it was wrong and finally fell back asleep.

This morning the ocean was still quite rough - 12 ft waves - and I guess we were lucky to make it into the port. Two other NCL ships (the Sun & Majesty) didn’t even come in - too rough. It took an hour to pull into the dock - they had to be so careful not to crash into the dock. So it was an hour of gunning the manuvering engines, move 2 inches, gun them again and move 2 more inches. They did a great job because the ship is fine. Freakin’ Disney Cruise Line waited until we were docked and then they slid into port using our ship as shelter. What a bunch of Micky Mouse jerks.

So instead of snoreking at the Coral Princess hotel, we’re sitting at the internet coffee place. We had a delicious pablano corn quesadilla and some coffee. And internet time...

Tonight we have our improv shows. We’re looking forward to them. Tomorrow is a sea day. We’re planning on exchanging photos and playing some games. Hope all is well with you!

xoxo,
J & L