Monday, November 19, 2012


The Solstice Today is the daily sheet that comes to the bedroom each night, listing the Daytime and Evening events for the next day on one face and on the other side are the following: the bar hours, the drink specials, the hours of operation of the kiosks, aquaspa, and art gallery, Captain’s Club Hostess hours, Celebrity iLounge hours, concierge services, guest relations, library, medical centre, photo gallery, pools and whirlpools, port lecturer, shops and boutiques, shore excursions and the times the sun & sea poolside shop is open.

The Solstice Today is the daily sheet that is folded on its horizontal axis and then given a triple fold, one that Greg can pull out of his shirt pocket any time of the day.  He can tell you what has gone on, what is going on, and good events still to come just by reaching in that shirt pocket and going right to the line item that tells you what moment we are at, should you not be able to remember.

The Solstice Today is the daily sheet that drives David Wood’s day as well.  A brochure came last night to our stateroom, inviting all North American Guests to a special art auction today, complete with a raffle, a $500 discount on any art that we purchase, the promise of a free lecture on the History of Art and the tantalizing offer of a glass of champagne in our hands.  “Let me check my busy schedule to see if I can make it,” David always says, pulling out his Solstice Today.

My copy of the Solstice Today has my name written on the top, though it is easy to identify in other ways.  I have important events circled, must-attend events starred and I connect links between events with arrows. I keep notes jotted in the margins – which makes my Solstice Today daily sheet way more important to me than theirs is to them.  Mine is in my bag.  I whip it out so that I don’t get lost on my busy schedule.  Other women stop to ask me to look at my Solstice Today for I can make my line items look far more important than they really are.  I kept myself on track yesterday, I laughingly told Greg last night at supper:  7 am work out at the gym; 10 am Solstice Brunch for 2 hours; 1:30 pm watch movie, then dress for dinner; 4:30 pm listen to a set by the classical guitarist on board: 5:30 listen to a set by the Big Band; 6:00 listen to a set by the barbershop quartet; 6:15 pm  Formal Dinner; 9 p.m. Acrobatic Stage show; 10:30 another movie with Dave Wood.

Actually, it was the same movie with David Wood: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (for the Elderly).  I saw the movie on the airplane to London, but only in fits and starts – going to sleep at different times of the movie, each of the three times I saw it.  So I got a full run on the movie on the on the plane, though the viewing was chuncked, and then went at night again with David for a straight run on the story.  The exploration of getting old is fascinating in the movie, as is the interweaving of the stories of the lives of the six people who find themselves in the Marigold Hotel.  You might know that we had a slight glitch with our visas – happily getting the one for Dubai, and missing the one into Cochin, Inda.  I am making myself content with India by watching that movie again and again ... and knowing that the world opens up in different ways – that India is not really off my radar.  I am just not getting there yet.

One more thing about Solstice Today.  On it was a one line item, Brunch: 10 am to 1 pm.  Having been on the boat before, I know it is a buffet for the eyes as well as the stomach.  I walk around the leavily laden tables with no plate on the first round – just trying to get a sense of the beauty of the food and I try to narrow down the food choices for me, since at first glance, I want it all.  Then I go for round two, with a plate in my hands. I try to leave white space between each item of food.

The cheesecake lollipops were in their full glory: chocolate, mango, strawberry and lime.  I couldn’t help take one each.  On leaving the dining room, one of the waiters asked, “How was the Brunch?”  Wyona likes to tease and tell them horrible and they want to know how it could be improved.  The only improvement I could think of was to know how they did those cheesecakes, so I slipped back into the Epernay Dining Room to find a waiter who knew the secrets.  Wyona had done a version of these confections at a cousin party last year.  I wanted to know why 3 of the four varieties were not covered on their bottom sides, and the chocolate one was.

“Oh, I don’t know.  I just deliver the food from the kitchen to the table,” said the first waiter.  “Go ask him,” he said, pointing to someone else.

“I don’t know,” said the second, but I will bring someone out who does. 

“I can follow you,” I say, thinking I will save someone steps.

“No. You don’t move.  Someone will come.”

And that is how I learned the following.  No, they don’t use a wafer for the coloured topping – it is white chocolate into which they have added colour and flavours, for example the orange mango one.  Yes, I am right – no bottoms on three varieties.  The odd-item out, the chocolate cheesecake stick, is made in a pan that already has a chocolate bottom into which they pour the filling and then freeze it, thus its bottom.  How are all of them dipped? Petit-four fashion – pouring the covering over the cheesecake which is on a sieved tray that lets the covering fall through through, thus avoiding skirted bottoms.

At dinner that night, Wyona asked the waiter if he could bring us a few more of those cheesecake lollipops.  I was crestfallen when he said that after every meal, even the buffet, everything that is left-over is ground up and put in the ocean for the fish.  Next cruise, we are slipping back in at the end of the buffet, making ourselves up a plate of those, taking them back to our rooms and putting them in our fridges – which we have emptied of alcohol and pop and use only as back-up for food we bring back to the room. 

Wouldn’t you love to be in our rooms for a midnight snack after any day of the week?


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