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Jolana Malkston
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My Polynesian Idyll, Week One #Cruises #FrenchPolynesia #SouthPacific

 Serious Whimsy  Comments Off on My Polynesian Idyll, Week One #Cruises #FrenchPolynesia #SouthPacific
Oct 272018

After seeing the musical South Pacific, who hasn’t dreamed of the ecstasy of traveling to an exotic South Pacific paradise?

In our case, the ecstasy part of the idyll had to wait until MG and I endured the agony part, namely United Flight 310 to LA. United Airlines boasts the following amenities. It charges you for both checked luggage and carry-ons. Its seats have no leg room of which to speak unless you’re four feet six inches tall or shorter. Its seats are scarce on width unless you have buns the size of an anorexic runway model’s. Don’t board hungry and thirsty. UA will only provide you with a tiny package of mini pretzels (unless you’re willing to purchase an overpriced snack), and a non-alcoholic beverage in a tiny cup. So far, I wasn’t thrilled with the trip decision. Thank you, friendly skies. Not really.

After arriving at LAX, our traveling companions, MG, and I traipsed through the airport in search of a quick breakfast before our connecting flight to Tahiti. Only in LA will you find a champagne and caviar bar in an airport concourse, but you will have trouble finding an inexpensive breakfast.

We then followed an endless array of signs directing us to our departure gate. Naturally, our departure gate was at the far reaches of the airport— in another building. We had to board a shuttle bus to reach it, a fifteen minute ride.

At last, we reached the gate and boarded our eight and a half hour Air Tahiti Nui flight. It was as if we entered a portal into a fantasy world. The flight attendants wore colorful native dress and they appeared genuinely happy to see us. The jet’s interior was colorful and welcoming as well. MG and I were permitted to sit together without paying an up charge. We each received a pillow, a blanket, and a goody bag containing ear plugs, a sleep mask, socks, and audio ear buds. The movies, TV shows, video games, magazines, and music on our individual monitors were free of charge!

As soon as we reached cruising altitude, we were served beverages and a hot lunch—a delicious hot lunch for which we were not required to pay. Wine was served free of charge as well. Snacks and beverages during the flight were available any time we wanted them. An hour before landing a complementary breakfast was served.

What fresh hell was this? Perhaps it was an elaborate prank. Surely none of it was real because our tickets were clearly marked economy class.

At the airport in Papeete, Tahiti, the flight attendants guided us to the arrivals entrance. While in line to go through security, we were entertained by a native band. Welcome to French Polynesia!

Following transfer from the airport to our cruise ship, Holland America Line’s MS Maasdam, we boarded just in time for dinner, the first of many sumptuous meals on board. We stayed overnight in Papeete on Sunday.

At 2:00 pm on Monday, we were marshaled for the Mandatory Passenger Emergency Muster Drill—roughly twelve hundred perspiring bodies crammed together in the heat and humidity on the Lower Promenade Deck. Guests who refused to participate would not be permitted to sail with the vessel. Oh joy.

Finally, we sailed for our first port of call, scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. While at sea on Monday, we were treated to the first of many informative Port Talks on the islands we were to visit. We learned that most ports did not have docking facilities for large ships. Passengers would necessarily be shuttled to shore and back via the Maasdam’s tenders. Of course, this process could be subject to change depending on local conditions. Lovely.

Hiva Oa, our first port of call, fell under the category of adverse local conditions. Large ocean  swells made it impossible to board the tenders safely. Instead we had another day at sea with an alternative shipboard activity schedule. Not an auspicious beginning. ::sigh::

Fortunately, we were able to use the tenders safely enough at our next island port, Nuku Hiva in The Marquesas. When we debarked from the tender, we were greeted by three women in traditional island garb singing a welcome accompanied by a group of men on drums. I shot a bit of video of them with my iPhone8Plus. This was more like it. Things were looking up. Yay!


We spent another day at sea that also turned out to be our first gala dinner night. In other words, we had to wear our fancy duds instead of our smart casual rags. We survived it.

Rangiroa, an atoll, was up next. We took a tour of a black pearl farm there. We learned the process of producing those exotic and coveted Polynesian ($$$$$) cultured pearls. We observed a technician remove pearls from harvested oysters and then reseed those that produced pearls of good grade. Those that did not were consigned to the death row crate to become someone’s appetizer course.

That ended the first week of our French Polynesian Idyll. Soon we would visit the fabled South Pacific island paradise of Bora Bora!

Fashion Sense and Sensibility #CapsuleWordrobe #closets #clothing #downsizing #fashion #organizing

 Serious Whimsy  Comments Off on Fashion Sense and Sensibility #CapsuleWordrobe #closets #clothing #downsizing #fashion #organizing
Oct 032018

I believe a Body Snatcher Invader from Outer Space paid me another visit a few weeks ago. I’m positive she has dropped in on me before. I’m sure I wasn’t the one who purged my dresser drawers of outdated, unworn, and unwanted clothing. Organized and Tidy R Not Me.

This time, the invasion was ghastly. The Pod Person Imposter tackled my clothes closets. Yes, closets plural—I need a guest room closet for the overflow. I never get rid of anything I can convince myself that someday I’ll be slim enough to wear again. (Someday has yet to arrive. Surprise, surprise.)

The Imposter decided to get rid of everything—almost. She saw a post on the web at ClassyYetTrendy.com about The Capsule Wardrobe. It involved a minimalist wardrobe with core items that could be mixed and matched to create numerous outfits. One could save both money and closet space. The Imposter was intrigued and followed up on it. The first step involved removing all clothing from one’s closet, closets in my case, and then evaluating what to keep, what to donate, and what to toss.

The range of clothing sizes in those closets was huge. Unfortunately, sizes went up, not down. There was one outfit in size 8 (was I ever), a half dozen in size 10 (not so bad), a bunch in size 12 (uh-oh), several pants and jeans in sizes 14 and 16 (oh dear), and one pair of chinos in women’s size OMG! The Pod Person was appalled and overwhelmed. I believe she wept.

In preparation for me to pack light for an upcoming cruise, The Imposter began the monumental task of downsizing my wardrobe to capsule form. Another impetus was the impending visit of my Baby Sister, The Fashionista—and her obligatory critique of my lack of style and my overcrowded closets. The Imposter feverishly began to condemn some articles of clothing to exile.

That the Pod Person Imposter somehow managed to clear some space in the guest room closet for the Fashionista by the time she arrived was remarkable. Once informed of The Imposter’s project, The Fashionista was all in. In fact, she took over.

Ruthlessly, she pawed through my wardrobe, declaring item after item too small, too unfashionable, or too ugly to ever again see the light of day or even the dark of night. (She tells me constantly that my clothing choices aren’t feminine enough.) The items she found acceptable were few and far between. She spared a few long formal suits and dresses that had classic lines that don’t go out of style. That there were any outfits of which she approved surprised the hell out of both of us.

She didn’t stop at divesting my closets of my wardrobe. She viciously targeted my accessories as well. She tossed out most of my hats (crimes against fashion), purses (what was I thinking when I bought them), belts that didn’t circumvent my waist (what waist), gloves (was I really in need of full length gloves that no longer fit), and then there were the two dozen pairs of shoes on the upper closet shelf (out of fashion, too small to fit now, and just plain too hideous to wear in public).

As if that wasn’t traumatic enough, she attacked my stash of undergarments next. I’ll spare you the gory details. Let’s just say she rid the undergarment drawer of upper and lower foundation items that might fit a female elf but didn’t fit me. The highlight of this purge came when The Imposter tried to squeeze herself into a body suit I hadn’t worn in ages. Once partially in the suit, she became stuck. She couldn’t get it all the way on, and she couldn’t get it off either. Too much sausage and not enough casing. The Fashionista tugged as hard as she could to pull the body suit off The Imposter. They couldn’t stop laughing hysterically. Tears streamed down their faces. The Fashionista laughed so hard she had to pee. Eventually, they got The Imposter out of the body suit and it went into the toss pile.

The Imposter and The Fashionista had a productive day. They tossed out more than they donated, but they were still able to take two carloads of clothing and accessories that were in very good conditions to Goodwill. They also discovered several existing items of clothing in my closets that would work well with The Capsule Wardrobe System. The Imposter promised The Fashionista she would buy some feminine-looking items to flesh out The Capsule Wardrobe.

Before she left my body, The Pod Person Imposter reorganized my closets. She moved the clothing I wore every day or most often to the master bedroom closet. Clothing I wear infrequently or for special occasions she moved to the guest room closet. It’s much more convenient now, and neither closet is overcrowded any longer. (I wish I could have persuaded her to stick around long enough to help me declutter and reorganize my office—yet again.)

Neither The Imposter nor I thought to take “before photos” of my closets for before and after comparison. The before photos would have looked like explosions in a garment factory. The after photos are below.


Labor of Love #LaborDay #birthday #cookouts #cooking #food #celebrations

 Serious Whimsy  Comments Off on Labor of Love #LaborDay #birthday #cookouts #cooking #food #celebrations
Sep 072018

The baby of the family takes after his maternal grandfather. He loves photography, and he loves to cook. He’s good at both. Very good. His birthday occasionally falls on or near Labor Day, which is apt because cooking is a labor of love for him.

As we all know, Labor Day celebrations are just about synonymous with cookouts. Our baby boy has a neighborhood friend whose birthday is a day earlier. For the past few years, they’ve been celebrating their birthdays together with what our son dubs a “food-apalooza.” The two birthday boys invite friends and family to supply side dishes and partake in a feast that closely resembles a Roman food orgy—or an Italian family’s Sunday dinner.

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Ring-a-Ding-Ding #coldcalls #junkcalls #ringtones

 Serious Whimsy  Comments Off on Ring-a-Ding-Ding #coldcalls #junkcalls #ringtones
Aug 032018

These days, we all are on the receiving end of more telephone calls than we would like. The most annoying are the political calls, fund raisers, and cold calls—junk calls for the most part.

I can screen calls on our land line using Caller ID and an answering system. Unfortunately, I cannot stop the phone from ringing and driving me nuts while I am writing—or trying to write, as it were.The constant calls play havoc with my ability to concentrate on my work in progress. MG insists I check and answer the ones I’m not sure of just in case it might be an important call. Only once has that occurred. All the rest were unwanted intrusions. Seriously enraging are the junk calls that come up on Caller ID with my local area code but are actually from out of area. Surely the phone companies can do something to combat that.

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