Xina talks audiobooks!

Hello from my friend and fellow author, Xina Marie Uhl:

Is listening to audiobooks the same as reading? Some people say NO. They argue that the narrator affects the meaning of the story. True? I’m on the fence. But the debate can get pretty passionate. 

One thing I have noticed is that I will pay attention to different parts of the story when they are read aloud than when I read from the page. 

This may have to do with how our brains process stimuli. After all, in school we learn with reading, audio, tests, working problems, and memorization. Whatever works, right? 

One thing is certain about audiobooks. Listening is a lot safer than reading when you’re driving a car or walking the dog!

In the interests of enjoyment, safety, and just plain fun, here’s some great news … 

Two other authors and I have teamed up to present a FREE audiobook of short, amusing stories. Woo hoo!

We’ve got fantasy (gnomes and unicorns), sci fi (aliens), romance (speed dating), and humor (cats!). This collection has a bit of each.

Download now or listen on the web!

And if audio is your jam, you’ll want to check out Xina’s titles available. Each is guaranteed to make you smile, chuckle, and downright guffaw!

Have fun with the collection, and let me know what you think. 


Cooking Tips from Precious, the tortie with a ‘tude!

How to help MomLady when she is trying new recipes:

Precious: When the refrigerator door is open, be sure to climb in to smell everything.

Mom: “Kitties do not belong in the refrigerator.”

Precious: After she pulls you out of the refrigerator, be sure to sit in such a way that she can’t close the door.

Mom: “Would you please move?”

Precious: Give her one small victory by moving, but promptly jump onto the counter, preferably in the midst of the bowls, jars, and boxes of ingredients.

Mom: “Kitties do not belong on the counter.”

Precious: Stick your face in the bowl of whisked eggs.

Mom: “That’s not for you.”

Precious: After she puts you down on the floor, wait precisely three seconds before jumping up again.

Mom: “Kitties do not belong on the stove.”

Precious: Okay, okay, give her another small victory by stepping off the stove, but hover right behind the container of corn starch.

Mom: “How about you get down on the floor?”

Precious: Look at her with that infamous feline expression that says “how about no?” (You may need to practice this beforehand.)

Mom: “Kitties do not belong on the counter.”

Precious: Pretend you are giving into her demands by stepping toward the counter edge, but stop when you reach her brand new cookbook. Sit on top of the open pages.

Mom: “Sweetie pie, I need that cookbook. I can’t be making Snoop Dogg’s Orange Chicken* without his instructions.”

Precious: Blink slowly at her.

Mom: “How about some treats?”

Precious: Be sure to wait for her to actually get treats out of the jar before you allow her to complete making her dinner.

*”Orange (but really kinda burgundy) Chicken with white rice” page 90 of Snoop Dogg’s “From Crook to Cook.”

Adventures with Cat Poop

Don’t ask what boiled cat poop smells like. You don’t want to know.

And how do I know? First, let me apologize for being absent from my blog for most of last year. (I think we can agree that 2020 was a crappy year over all, and losing both my senior boys – Bender and Paco – within a few months of each other sucked the joy out of everything.) Second, let me introduce you to Precious. 

I knew that I would eventually adopt another cat after Paco died, but I wasn’t expecting the one-pound, four-week-old dynamo who came my way three weeks later. Friends at my vet clinic, Broadway Pet Hospital, found her abandoned in a box – shrieking her little head off – at a strip mall. They knew how much I grieved over Paco and offered her to me. The moment I saw her photo I was like “give me” and knew her name would be Precious (as a homage to my beloved Turtle, who died in 2013 and whose nickname was Precious). 

It had been 16 years since I had a kitten in the house. I’d forgotten how batshit crazy kittens are. (Paco, Bender, Turtle, Marian, Indy – they were never THIS batshit crazy.)  Like any kitten, or puppy, or toddler, Precious explores her world with her mouth, but unlike any pet I’ve known, she goes above and beyond: 

Carpet fibers from the cat towers, embroidery thread, pieces of cork board and paper, thumbtacks, Kleenex, paper towels, toilet paper, labels, tags on electrical cords, refrigerator magnets, pieces of wicker baskets, broom bristles, dried paint/plaster, etc. I’ve spent a lot of time chasing after her yelling “what’s in your mouth?” (Sound familiar, parents?) I knew she was chewing on weird things, but it wasn’t until the embroidery thread disappeared down her gullet in early February, that I realized we had a potentially serious problem. 

How does one find black thread in dark brown poop? Smash it, dissolve it? Hmm…I came up the oh-so-brilliant idea to collect the poop in an old plastic container and pour boiling hot water over it. And wait. It took a lot of boiling water. [Note: should you ever try this – which I don’t recommend – don’t let the poop harden – do it while it’s fresh.] I did this for three days. Smashed the melting poo with the bottom of the plastic container, spread it out, searching for foreign objects. Finally, there it was: crumpled up thread that, when unraveled, turned out to be 9 inches long. Yowza. Glad it stayed bunched up because long linear objects can bind the intestines, causing sepsis and death. 

Was that the end of it? Of course not. Two weeks later Precious started vomiting and acting like something was stuck in her mouth. So off to the vet we went and explained that I’d removed a number of objects from her mouth during the preceding days: including cork and thumbtacks from the bulletin board.  

An x-ray showed a “linear object” and something the shape of a thumbtack. But once her vomiting was under control, Precious’ behavior returned to normal. A follow-up x-ray a couple days later showed the objects had moved into the colon and, thus, were likely to pass on their own without surgery. 

So…poop watch returned. I recovered some fibers, tiny round “expanded polystyrene” pellets (the stuff inside bean bags), and an inch long piece of a bristle from my broom. No thumbtack. Could it be that the other items mimicked the appearance of one on the x-ray? Because Precious’ behavior continues to be normal with no more vomiting or difficulty pooping, the vet has taken a wait and see approach. So have I. The odious poop melting? No. I do take a quick external view of her litter box deposits, checking for weird shapes or signs of blood. So far so good. 

I continue to catch her eating weird things, like the sliver of old paint/plaster that fell off the ceiling and a small piece of paper I gave her to play with. But apparently they’re passing through her with no injurious effect. 

I don’t give her paper to play with any more. The wicker laundry baskets have been removed from the house, the toilet paper and Kleenex are in their third hiding place, the cork bulletin board taken off the wall and its thumbtacks put away, and the small refrigerator magnets have been hidden in a drawer. I’ve removed those warning tags you find attached to electrical cords and, in a preemptive strike, hidden all of my earrings. 

Of course, as curious and smart as she is, Precious continues to discover and taste new things. Her latest victim: the name tag the vet clinic taped to my cat carrier. 

If I have to, I’ll go back on poop watch. But my nose isn’t looking forward to it. 

Goodbye to my beloved Paco

“Is that a bat?” the woman asked.

We were in an elevator and I was holding a rolled up towel. Poking out of the top was a small black head with two humongous black ears.

“Meow” said the presumed bat.

That was my new kitten Paco, an itty bitty kitty with outsized ears; the woman was my supervisor; and the elevator was in our office building. (We werenʼt one of those pet friendly offices, but that didnʼt stop me from smuggling in kittens – Paco wasnʼt the first.) Of course, I was trying to be discreet and Paco was supposed to stay inside the towel but he chose the closing of the elevator doors as the perfect time to pop his head out for a look around. Fortunately, my supervisor didnʼt mind the unexpected guest for a couple hours.

When I wrote about Benderʼs passing back in January, I shared some details about Paco because the two brothers lives were deeply interwoven – more so than I realized. With Pacoʼs domineering personality and constant possessiveness (e.g., he always needed to sit in between me and Bender), I thought he would enjoy being an only kitty. But he got quiet after Bender died – not right away – it was a gradual process – I found myself no longer telling him to shut up. (No, really! He could be incredibly annoying and loud, like, all, the, time.) He still was just as cuddly and clingy as ever, but after a while, he started looking sad. Iʼd ask him if he wanted a baby sister, but could never interpret his expression. While keeping an ear out for any kitties needing a new home, I made sure to devote my time all to Paco for cuddling and love – trying to make up for Benderʼs absence.

Then in August, we had a setback: a reoccurrence of a urinary problem. He would become frantic, manic in his use of the litter box, with blood in the urine. This had happened a number of times, sporadically, over the previous 10 or so years. Typically, we went to the vet. They tested for infection: none. Tested for urinary tract blockage: none. tested for diabetes, pancreatitis, and on and on. Heʼd get treated with liquids and pain medicines, and sometimes an antibiotic (while waiting for test results). The problem would resolve. There was even at least one occasion, where I caught it when it first appeared and luckily had pain meds left over from before, and after a couple doses, it went away and no trip to the vet was needed. He was put on a special urinary diet (which meant that poor Bender ate that stuff too). In 2018, the vets decided he had Idiopathic Cystitis, which, really didnʼt change the treatment choices.

And, yes, heʼd had ultrasounds. Two, in fact, the previous August: an abdominal ultrasound on 8/16/19 that showed an abnormal region in the bladder wall that couldʼve been a blood clot, a mass, or maybe an embedded bladder stone. But after treatment, a second ultrasound on 8/30/19 showed nothing. So when we went in for the new ultrasound on 8/14/20, the vets predicted he had bladder stones. Instead, they found a large mass (large enough to distend the bladder), close to being able to obstruct the bladder neck. Inoperable.

I was in tears by the end of the phone call. Without saying the actual words, the vet seemed to be offering the choice to euthanize him then. I asked how much quality time he had left. The answer: 1-2 months before the pain was too great or the mass blocked his ability to urinate. I opted to bring him home for whatever time he might have. With plenty of pain medicine of course.

At first I thought maybe Iʼd made a mistake. It took at least two days for him to settle down, for me to gauge the frequency for administering meds, for us to settle into some semblance of normalcy. Even then, there were moments each day where he wouldnʼt cooperate with the medicine. By the second weekend I thought it would be his last. But then he rebounded. He even figured out that if he came to me and meowed in a certain way, that I would give him pain meds. So we settled into a routine. Cuddling, pain meds, more cuddling, nose rubs, face rubs, pain meds. And no matter his mood, when night came, he was quick to join me in bed. (For several years, I havenʼt been “allowed” to sleep in any position other than on my left side, so that Paco could spoon with me, rubbing his face against mine while I gently held his paws.)

But it couldnʼt last. He spent less time wanting cuddles and more time under the bed (which had been Benderʼs place of refuge when Paco was harassing him in their younger days – back then Paco was too chunky to fit). And he was so quiet. Too quiet – except when he experienced pain while urinating. I would trap him then, in the bathroom, and make sure he got sufficient pain meds. Heʼd relax – for a while.

I kept apologizing to him, sorry that I couldnʼt fix him, not this time. I kept asking him if we wanted to give up. (And I wondered, to myself, if thatʼs what happened after Bender died. I mean, heʼd had this problem so many times, and it resolved every other time, why not now? Had he been so saddened by Benderʼs death that he gave up?) I kept berating myself for not getting him a younger cat to play big brother to. And he wouldʼve been a great big brother. I shouldʼve given him the chance.

After only a month, it was clear that the pain meds were no longer enough. I knew that I had to say goodbye to him, but I also couldnʼt stand the idea of him dying without me (my veterinarian is still restricting people accompanying their pets inside because of COVID). Fortunately, my wonderful friend Steph, at the clinic, pointed me to Pet Hospice, a team of veterinary nurses who will come to your home, and ease your petʼs passing. Iʼm not even sure how long it took me to fill out the online appointment request form. I literally had to stop to cry after I typed information in each box and before I hit enter. So many times I felt like I couldnʼt breathe.

And then, I thought Iʼd made another mistake when we had one last good night of cuddling and face rubs. He didnʼt purr, but I couldnʼt remember the last time he had. We even had a good morning, with him wanting extra cuddles. But then his mood changed. He wouldnʼt cooperate when I tried to give him pain meds. He wanted to be left alone. And he was angry. I could see it in his eyes. He was even being a bit of an asshole. After I accidentally startled him as he approached a litter box, he ran back to hide under the bed. I went to see if he was okay, and after I lifted up the mattress, he glared at me as he lifted one leg and pissed all over the carpet.

We sat and looked at each other. And I knew it was time. I told him “this isnʼt your life, baby, not like this, not hiding under the bed, undignified, this isnʼt how itʼs supposed to be. I donʼt know how to fix you. Iʼm sorry.” And I didnʼt know how to comfort him, not that afternoon. I left him alone until Barb, the veterinary nurse, arrived at 6 pm. She was kind, calm, and gentle. She made sure we were comfortable, explained all the steps, and told me not to worry about rushing. (They allot 2 hours per appointment.)

Paco was clearly in pain and agitated, so she gave him a sedative and we waited until he conked out. I told her a bit about him and some of the other cats whoʼve called this house their home. And then we pulled him from his hiding spot, and I settled into the big t.v. chair where we had spent many hours cuddling over the past 16 years. I cradled him while she gave him the injection (they use a slower, gentler, drug so your pet doesnʼt pass so quickly, giving you more time). I rubbed his face and told him that it was a privilege to have shared his life. In a while, he was gone, gone so gently I could only tell when his body began to cool.

Even in death, Barb made sure he had dignity. We didnʼt stuff him in a box. She wrapped him in a blanket, and I carried him out to her car where she had a cat bed occupying the front passenger seat. I laid him gently to rest, snug in the bed, still wrapped in the blanket, and said goodbye.

Tribute to a Tabby

“Would you like a free sample of kitten food?” the receptionist asked.
“Nah, I don’t have any kittens.”
“Would you like one?”


So, that day, having gone to the veterinarian with one cat, I ended up going home with two. The newcomer was a sweet little “dilute orange” (i.e., blonde) tabby I named Bender. No, not for the robot character in “Futurama.” My guy was born with a bent tail – its last inch folded in on itself twice, almost like a curly-cue. As a result his tail was stiff, not graceful and fluid. When he got mad – which wasn’t often – and flapped his tail, it was like getting hit with a fuzzy mace. Whap, whap.

He was a bit awkward as a kitten with his long legs, but he grew into them, and into the most calm, mellow cat I’ve ever shared a home with. We did hit a rough patch a couple years later when I introduced Paco to the household. (Another day that I went to the vet with one cat and came home with two.) For the first three days I thought Bender was going to kill the 9 week old kitten – the way he stalked and hunted him while Paco explored his new home. But suddenly Bender turned into “Mr. Mom” and took over raising the newcomer the way that Annie had raised him. (Annie was still with us at the time, but was elderly and not up to her usual role as matriarch.)

Even after Paco grew twice his size (and took over as “alpha kitty”), Bender remained his sweet self, with an inquisitive “mmmrrrmmph” noise that he made – he never really meowed. He followed me around the house, especially on weekends, wanting to be near me. He loved to sleep on my legs, using my feet as a pillow. And he always responded when I talked to him, whether I was calling him “Boo” “Boo-Boo” “Boo-meister” or “Bender.” Most often it was “Boo” (not an uncommon nickname for cats, right? How many of you call your cats “Boo?”) I’m not sure if my friends know the exact origins of his nickname: Legally Blonde. Yes, that Reese Witherspoon movie. The asshole boyfriend called Elle Woods “Poo-Bear.” I thought it was cute, so I started calling Bender “Poo-Bear”, but after a bit, because his name began with a “B” it seemed more fitting to change it to Boo-Bear. Toward the end, I mostly called him “my sweet little old man.”

He had medical issues which required daily medication; he even had his own asthma inhaler, complete with an infant mask to fit over his nose and mouth. Scarier were the seizures he began suffering when he was about 8. (The vets could find no physical reason for them so classified it as “epilepsy” – an exclusionary diagnosis.) I’ll never forget the first one I witnessed: one second he was standing next to me, the next he was on his back, all four legs in the air, flailing about, twisting, whipping back and forth, as if his body didn’t know which was up and which was down. Even after he managed to get on his feet, the back half of his body continued to dance around for several more seconds. He watched it quizzically, until it stopped, then ran and hid for an hour.

That meant a quarter pill of phenobarbital twice a day for the rest of his life. Sometimes the money got to be a bit much (ever buy an asthma inhaler that’s not covered by your medical insurance?), but I didn’t mind. Those were our special moments each day as I took him aside to administer his meds.

As he got older, he developed arthritis (like a lot of us!) Boy, did he walk really slowly. For the past year or so instead of waiting for him to respond to mealtime, I had been carrying him into the kitchen. Inconvenient? Yeah, sure. But I enjoyed it. The last couple of months I had even begun talking to him en route, telling him what a pleasure it was to carry him to his food dish, and how glad I would be to do it as long as he needed me to.

I wish I was still doing it. Like I wish he was still sitting on the back of the chair behind me, with his feet touching me. (When he wanted attention, he would tap me on the shoulder.) Paco sits there now, lonely, and sad that he has become an only cat.

As scary as his seizures were, they didn’t quite prepare me for Sunday, January 12th. He was sleeping on the ottoman while I was taking care of the laundry. I’m not sure what made me turn around (maybe he made a noise), but he was crouching, leaning to the right, his mouth opening and closing several times. My first thought was “oh, god, is this it?” (Somehow I recognized it as the event that would end his life.) But then, it was over, he vomited a little, and then just lay there looking exhausted and drained. It was mid-afternoon, too late to take him to the regular vet. And I didn’t want to take him to an emergency vet. Not that they wouldn’t have done their best, but I’ve already had one cat (Marian) die in a strange, unknown, vet clinic, tended by veterinarians she’d never seen before. I thought, that if this was the end, I’d rather he go quietly at home with me.

For the rest of the day he slept. Paco cuddled with him for most of the time. (As two old men cats, they’d made their peace – mostly – and become cuddle buddies.) At night, I carried him to bed, and managed to stay awake off and on, checking on him periodically. I don’t think he moved the whole night. I was pleased to see him looking a little brighter the next day, seeming to bounce back a bit, but he wanted no food and or medicine. He’d wobble his way to the litter box every now and then, but mostly slept. I still expected that he might pass some time that day, but he hung on.

I wasn’t too successful at staying awake Monday night and so was dismayed to not find him still sleeping next to me when I woke up Tuesday morning. He’d somehow made his way to the bathroom and was hiding behind the toilet. (The only time he got cranky with me, and growled, was when I pulled him out.) I certainly didn’t want him to die in such an undignified place. It was clear to me that Monday’s “bounce” was a false hope. I knew Tuesday the 14th would be his last day.

Gradually he lost his ability to walk more than a few steps before his legs locked up, causing him to fall over. But he stopped even trying by lunch time. So I wrapped him in a towel, and held him. We sat that way for a few hours, his warmth against my chest comforting me. Even though I was sad, contemplating that this would probably be the last time I held him, all I felt was love. If we could’ve stayed that way forever, I would’ve been happy. I did not want to get up from that chair.

But as the afternoon waned, I began to worry. Worry that I couldn’t stay awake and that he would die while I was sleeping. I couldn’t stand the thought of him dying alone. Broadway Pet Hospital, our vet clinic – with staff who had cared for him his whole life – would be closing in only 3 hours. I knew I that I had to make that call, and let him go with as much dignity as possible. I put on my shoes, told Paco to say goodbye to his brother, and took him away for the last time.

The veterinarian agreed that he was ready. She was very kind, very professional, informing me of each step. (They always administered a sedative to calm the animal before the final injection.) They gave me some time before and after, of course. What I will always remember is how he purred from the moment I took him out of the carrier to hold him until the sedative was given. I know it’s common for sick cats to purr – it’s self-soothing for them in times of stress – but he looked up at me the whole time, and four or five times, he reached up with one paw to touch my face. He was saying goodbye.

Of all my cats, Bender’s death was the most peaceful (the “best” if it’s not too odd to use that term for a loved one dying). I miss those special moments that were his. I miss his little non-meow. But it was the right time for him, and I’ve come to accept it more quickly than the others. Like the others, he is still nearby – his ashes in a small wooden box that sits next to those holding his sisters’ ashes. I still feel his love.

Puppies of the Sea

Photo credit to Mark Gottlieb.


First, I must offer thanks to Mark, one of the others on my amazing South Pacific adventure last August, for sharing some of his photos with the rest of us. One was this photo of a “receiving line” greeting stingrays eager to check us out (or maybe looking for food). One of them squeezed right in between me & another passenger – sweeping against my arm – that was cool. Note: they kind of feel like wet eggplant. Someone – I don’t remember who – referred to them as big gray puppies of the sea. I’m not in this particular photo; I was with a different group off to the side.

I feel like I’m always apologizing for my frequent absences from my blog, but life does get hectic and other priorities often prevail.

So I’d like to start offering you, those of you who have Instagram accounts at least, some people to follow, not just for pictures of the South Pacific (my most recent vacation), but other destinations frequented by Lindblad Expeditions and others I’ve met on my travels.

Definitely check out:

jaydickmanphoto (Nat Geo photographer & Pulitzer Prize winner)

jackdswenson (Nat Geo photographer)

livingcookiesdream (Chris Cook, naturalist)

adam.cropp (Expedition Leader on my last trip) – he has a thing for drone photography!

Mark may also have an Instagram page, but there are several people with the same name on the site, and I’m not sure which he might be.

I’ll save more for later!

Happy July everyone!!

The Mesoamerican Context for Chaco Astronomy — Gambler’s House

Today is the summer solstice, so I thought I’d pop back in to do a post about archaeoastronomy, as is my wont. This time it isn’t about the archaeoastronomy of Chaco Canyon per se, but the larger context in which it would have developed, namely that of the civilizations of Mesoamerica to the south. I’ve […]

via The Mesoamerican Context for Chaco Astronomy — Gambler’s House

The Staff of Ra. Oops, um, I mean the Staff of (the) Orion

That’s a Raiders of the Lost Ark joke. (If you’ve ever seen a short woman walking by with her cell phone ringtone blaring the Indiana Jones theme – that was me.)

Anyway, in addition to wonderful crews, Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic is also known for having fantastic and knowledgeable staff members, ranging from from photographers, naturalists, wildlife biologists, cultural specialists, divemasters, etc.

Meeting new ones has been as delightful as the reunions with those I’ve sailed with before, like Christian Moreno Gonzalez, who was a naturalist on my 2015 Baja expedition. staff6This time he was one of the divemasters in charge of the scuba divers so I didn’t see him very often. And Jay Dickman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning National Geographic Photographer who was also on the Baja trip as well as my 2012 Antarctic expedition. I’m actually cheating here a bit because I only encountered Jay in the tiny Rangiroa airport as he was leaving and I was arriving. staff10Funny story: in 2013 as I showed Antarctic photos to my Denver relatives, before I could identify Jay’s photo, they all said “oh, we know him.” Turns out my younger brother was an Eagle Scout with Jay’s youngest son, pictured here.

You’ve already seen a picture of Doug Gualtieri,  one of the naturalists, in a previous post – he rescued my socks from a mischievous puppy. Other naturalists aboard included Tom Ritchie, who’s been with Lindblad for decades. staff9 In fact, he has his own zodiac named after him. Elise Lockton, who spends most of her time in Denali National Park (Alaska), is seen here wearing a leafy headdress given to her by one of the Marquesans.  staff3And this is Ian Strachan, the naturalist who led several of the hikes I went on, including the infamous “march of mud” up and over the island of Fatu Hiva. (We were looking for the Fatu Hiva Monarch, endemic to this island only, but never found one because of the rain.) staff11  It was a hard hike, and the group could’ve made better time without slow poke me, but it was worth it. The vistas, even in the rain and clouds, were gorgeous. In the photo Tim is standing near Ari, a guest, at one of the summits.

Adam Cropp, seen here drying off after our second visit to the grotto on Makatea (in the Tuamotus) was our expedition leader.staff5

Chris Cook, better known as Cookie, was one of our undersea specialists. He was out there snorkeling, scuba diving, etc. He also specialized in keeping the atmosphere light-hearted – he loved making faces. Staff2

Our cultural specialists were Heidy Baumgartner-Lesage, an archaeologist who’s lived and worked in French Polynesia since the 1980’s, also pictured at the grotto. Staff1

Alex Searle Pineda, from Chile, and Tua Pittman, a traditional master navigator from the Cook Islands, were the other cultural specialists. They’re pictured here with Cookie, and one of the guests, Larry Jackson (ever hear of Loudmouth Golf Clothing?) I know the photo is a little dark – I have more photos to share, I promise. And I’ll try to upload my little video clip of Tua doing the Haka. Stay tuned! staff8


The Orion crew

One of the joys of traveling on expedition vessels like the National Geographic Orion, is the crew. Because of its small size (the Orion’s total passenger capacity is only 102), you receive more personal interactions with everyone, from the other guests, to the Lindblad staff, to your cabin steward, to the head chef, and even the Captain.

The crew, primarily Filipino, works several months in a row, continuing on from one expedition to another, before enjoying an extended home leave. Many have worked on board the same ships for years, including multiple generations. We had at least two father/son duos, like Teddy “Without” and Teddy “With” (hair, that is). You can probably guess which one was the bald one. Yes, Teddy Without introduces himself by that nickname.


The galley crew

While I’ve loved the crew on all my other trips with Lindblad/National Geographic, I think the Orion crew may be my favorite. They created such a joyful atmosphere it was infectious. Then there was “Crew Night” where they put on a musical review show for us. (I got to see the show twice since I was on two back-to-back expeditions). The housekeeping staff danced to “Hands Up” (the 1981 disco hit by Ottawan) and the Galley Crew did “YMCA” for us. Most of the passengers got up and danced too. There were more performers, of course, including Cookie, one of the staffers, who got up and sang in front of a crowd for the first time ever in his life. (We provided lots of encouragement.)

Looking through my crew photos I’ve realized that most of them worked the bar. Hmmm. What does that say about me?

And (the worst omission ever), I have no photo of Teddy Without. What?? How can that be? Not only was he our waiter many nights in the dining room, on Apataki (an atoll in the Tuamotus) he loaned me his flip flops! I had been snorkeling in the lagoon and, when tired, I mistakenly exited the water on the wrong part of the beach. If you’ve never been on a coral atoll, some of those beaches are covered in rough, broken up coral. Talk about pain. My water shoes were several yards away on the other beach, so Teddy Without, seeing me gingerly trying to cross the beach without killing my feet, ran over and offered me his footwear. (Yes, they were too big, but they worked.) What a lifesaver!

Of course, you know what this means. I just have to go back and do this trip again!