The following week involved various work activities for Jane including making plans for a Manila visit by the boss and an entourage from Singapore and Dubai. At the same time we were busy preparing for Christmas and our home leave to the US. Jane had a cold which seemed to be running its course on schedule to be gone by the time the boss arrived. If this cold resolved itself quietly without evolving into something worse requiring antibiotics, it would be the first time since moving to Manila that this would happen. But just as the last sniffles started to disappear the germs regrouped and came back in a new sinus-infecting form. Damn! No time to deal with doctors. This had to be resolved quick so it wouldn’t interfere with the boss’s visit or with the long flight back to the US. Thank goodness you can get drugs without a prescription in Manila. The sign at Mercury Drug says you need one but the reality is they never ask us for one. Since we get the same antibiotics every time this happens, Jane just asked for the full course and began taking them immediately. Problem averted! And just in time. When everyone showed up at the office and the meetings and presentations began, Jane was good to go. The packing and preparations got done by Russ in advance so when the visitors were gone we were ready to head to the airport and begin our trip.
This trip we decided to only visit Jane’s family in Florida and not travel to NJ. Good decision. Even Florida was having unseasonably cold weather and right after Christmas a blizzard hit the northeast closing the airports in the New York area giving Jane’s brother John an extra 4 days of Florida vacation before the airline could get him home.
We spent our time in Florida trying all kinds of new recipes, coffees, going shopping, visiting with family, watching the weather channel for storms in NJ and London, and birdsitting. Jane’s brother Bill and his family went to Kenya during Christmas (via London during the snowstorm that closed Heathrow for days) and left Makena, a green Jardine parrot, for all of us to babysit while they were gone. None of us know anything about birds. Luckily, she survived our ignorance. She's very sociable and wants to be involved in whatever is going on, especially at mealtime when she steals bran flakes from the bowl and tries to drink coffee. She’s very picky about who she bonds with liking Russ best and John second. The rest of us she has no use for and we have the beak scars to prove it. That is, unless we offer her food or a lift off the floor when she tries to jump from her cage and misses the table. Ouch!
We took three days of our trip to go to Sarasota to take sailing lessons with Sara Bay Sailing. It was really cold when we first got to Florida and only a bit less chilly by the time we got ready for our first lesson. Good thing we brought fleece, jackets and other warm clothes. By day 2 and 3 the weather was beautiful and even warm enough to take off the jacket midday. It was also a good thing we did some studying in advance because there was a lot to learn
. You have to understand how wind works in conjunction with your boat and constantly make adjustments and manuevers to hopefully get you where you want to go. You have to learn to fart and tap dance at the same time – Captain Bill’s word’s, not ours. Captain Bill also told us that with sailing you have to be flexible. You may actually get where you’re going but there’s always a chance you won’t. It’s about the journey, not the destination, so its a good lesson in going with the flow. Captain Bill was a good teacher but a bit of a nut. In between jokes, stories, political opinion and philosophical meanderings he’d throw in sailing lessons. But in the end we learned a lot, got good hands-on experience, passed the tests and now have the paper that certifies we know how to sail. Now we just need lots of practice to live up to the certification. We figure on a future trip we can take the next class which is bareboat sailing and takes you out on an overnight trip. Maybe that’s where they teach you about walking the plank and which side the eye patch and parrot go on. Aaarrrrrr… Russ already has a bird he can borrow – right Makena?
December was a whirlwind of activity leading up to our US home leave on Dec 15. First was the ENP Christmas Pary at the Decagon in Ortigas. The theme was Rock Stars and Divas and Jane put together a costume that looked like Ozzy Osborne in drag. It was a fun affair with really creative costumes and presentations and an excellent in-house band. Jane decided to bow out before people started embarassing themselves from the effects of all the sweet green, blue and pink shots being passed around - or maybe she left before she started embarassing HERself. Whichever. The real reason she left early was because the next morning was the christening of our driver's son which he was kind enough to invite us to attend. After a nice church service there was a reception at Chow King with a lunch buffet and Halo Halo for dessert. Chow King must be a popular spot for christening receptions since there were 3 happening at the same time all with celebratory banners, extravagent cakes and lots of music and balloons