ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD. SUSPENDS FUEL SUPPLEMENT

MIAMI  –  December 5, 2008  –   Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. today announced the suspension of its fuel supplement for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, anywhere in the world.

The decision reflects the recently sustained lower price of fuel.

Effective Monday, December 8, guests making new bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, will not be charged the fuel supplement.

Additionally, guests already booked on sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, will receive a refund of any fuel supplement paid, as follows:

Guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, and who are now paid in full, will have the supplement automatically refunded to them in the form of an onboard credit during their sailing.
Guests with existing bookings for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2009, and who are not yet paid in full, will have the supplement automatically removed from their outstanding balance.

The company reserves the right to reinstate fuel supplement charges for all guests that are no greater than those currently in effect.  The reinstatement would occur only if the price of West Texas Intermediate fuel exceeded $65 per barrel, on the quarterly milestone dates mentioned in the company’s October 24, 2008, press release.

The company announced on October 24, 2008, that no fuel supplement would be charged for new bookings made on or after November 10, 2008, for sailings that depart on or after January 1, 2010, unless there is an upturn in fuel prices.   Today’s announcement does not affect those previous terms.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is a global cruise vacation company that operates Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Pullmantur, Azamara Cruises and CDF Croisieres de France.  The company has a combined total of 38 ships in service and six under construction.  It also offers unique land-tour vacations in Alaska, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America.

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* WHITE CHOCOLATE CARDAMOM PARFAIT

Click here for today’s recipe

* We would like to thank Royal Caribbean for giving us permission to post this recipe from their Savor RCCL International Cookbook

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Arthur and Nicks First Walk Down-The-Aisle

wedding-invitation-25-percent

I believe that historians have had a “field day”  the first few weeks of November 2008, considering all of the historical events that have taken place.

On November 4th, the people of the United States turned out in record numbers with overwhelming votes for the first Afro American to be President, Mr. Barack Obama.  Unfortunately on the same day, the residents of California voted against Proposition 8, a measure that would have allowed Same-Sex Marriage. Then on November 12th, one of the original 13 Colonies, Connecticut, “The Constitution State”, stepped up to the plate and finally recognized that “ALL” Citizens in this State have equal rights, which extends the recognition of marriage to include Same-Sex Marriage.

I am sure we all received tons of e-mails, and news reports, but what amused me, was the number of e-mails that I received asking me to be sure to invite them to “yet another Nick and Arthur ceremony”.

I mean really, how many “anniversaries” does it take to become “legal”? We already had our “non-legal ceremony” on September 12th, 1992, and then a legal Civil Union ceremony on October 14th, 2005. So we have decided, we will just wait and re-new our vows next September.

Before I continue with this post, I should first provide you with the legal guidelines for Same-Sex Marriage in Connecticut. These guidelines apply to residents as well as non-residents:

After Nick asked me to marry him (I said yes), I thought preparing for our wedding was going to be a breeze, since I had already given several large parties in my life.

What I did not realize, during the initial planning phase in 1992, was that I was up the river without a canoe or a paddle, because I was about to plan my own wedding. YIKES

At the time, I was also the primary care-giver to my grandmother. For those of you who also do this sort of thing, you know it does take up a lot of time.

I would like to share with you my experience in the preparations for this event.

I was still in the state-of-denial, that I was actually living in Connecticut, let alone in a Republican stronghold.  Consequently, I really did not venture outside and socialize in the neighborhood that was my grandparents’ area. Listening to them and visiting them was enough of a culture shock, due to the lack of diversity, which I was accustomed to having grown up in New York City.

To be very brief, certain social topics were just not discussed, if you wanted to keep your blood pressure down to a manageable level.

In this section of Connecticut, many weddings are held in the family backyard. Since this was going to be a “non-legal ceremony” I figured this would be “the spot” and a very simple solution. The higher powers that watch over us, gave us a beautiful day, even though the weather forecasters started to mention rain showers for that week.

The date and time was decided upon with the help of friends, then the wedding invitations needed to be prepared and sent.  I went to Greenwich Village, in New York City, figuring I could review and choose a “great wedding invitation” somewhere in the area.  But, to my great surprise, there were very slim pickings to choose from, so I went for the absurd, and “lighter side” of an invitation. The invitations I choose are on top of this post.

That done, and working within a small time frame, now the crazies began to set in:

1 – I was insisting upon having a Catholic Priest.

Yes, I am aware the Catholic Church is a major force that does not support Same-Sex Marriages, but that was not going to stop me from finding a Priest to officiate at the ceremony. A major panic “set in” to find a person because the date was getting closer and closer.  I finally found a priest who agreed to officiate at the ceremony, he was wonderful and Oh, what a hoot he was.

2 – “THE” wedding cake was simple, in as much as while this area is extremely conservative, the baker was not. He created a beautiful cake, with a wedding cake topper of two males.

3 – I lucked out again, by being introduced to a Lesbian couple who are D.J’s and they were great!

4 – I have friends who have catering experience, so that part was easy.

Everything was going to plan.

As I mentioned earlier, I was the primary care-giver for my grandmother.  She often attended a local Senior Day Care Center. It also happened to be part of an umbrella organization that I also volunteered for as a “Buddy for those living with HIV”.

One evening, the Day Care Center held a “Silent Auction”. One of the items was a “Catered Liquor Cocktail Party for 50 people” that would be catered by the wives of the Board of Directors the organization. I could not pass up this opportunity, for I had heard over the years about the “fear of diversity” within the neighborhood. In principle only, I was determined to “win” this particular item.  Nick thought I was totally crazy, but he has learned over the many years we have been together that once something is in my head, I am going to do it. It really is a “small world”; a rumor got back to me, that a few of the woman were not thrilled to cater a Gay Marriage event. I made a phone call to discuss this issue with the director of the organization, and I was assured that the rumor was not true. They were going to serve drinks and be available for one hour. Much to my delight, they stayed for the entire wedding and festivities afterward, and they had a blast. I am sure several of these ladies never interacted with such a diverse crowd in their lives.  Without exception, the entire catering staff (remember, these are the wives of the Board of Directors) thanked us for letting them attend the ceremony and party with us.

The bottom line of is that as a “Community”, we need to reach out in a non-threatening manner and invite people into our lives. In the words of the famous “South Pacific” song written by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught.”

We, as a nation, have many issues ahead of us.  We are going to have to learn how to work with each other, pay attention to each other, learn from one another, and in some cases respectfully disagree with each other on some issues. But we need to learn some of the fundamentals of etiquette, agree to disagree, and to judge a person on the individual’s merits.

Marriage, as couples discover, is a learning process, like learning how to compromise, it’s sometimes not an easy venture. For example, we’re very much in the opposite attracts arena. How does one plan a honeymoon when I am a fly, land and explore person while Nick is a cruise person? I was not thrilled to prepare for a cruise, but I did find the perfect cruise on Holland America. It was a 10 day Caribbean Cruise departing from our home port.  This particular sailing had a “theme”; 1930’s and 1940’s musicals.  It was all about Busby Berkeley and Ziegfeld Follies movies and revues and they were running the movies 24/7 on the shipboard TV.  Despite my initial fear of cruising, I found myself completely relaxed.  Everything was wonderful on this Cruise Ship; we met the most charming staff and passengers.  Maybe in a later post, Nick can tell you about our entrance into one of the ship’s theaters where the last night of Progressive Bingo was going on. Yes, the passengers were totally welcoming and supportive.  Nick even won one round of the Bingo tournament.

I would like to send a special thank you to Anne Stanback <http://www.lmfct.org/&gt; and her staff and volunteers for their hard work and fortitude in educating the public about the legalities of Same-Sex Marriage in Connecticut.

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Historical Events December 4th

1619 America’s 1st Thanksgiving Day (Va)
1674 Father Marquette builds 1st dwelling in what is now Chicago
1783 At Fraunces Tavern in New York City, US General George Washington
formally bids his officers farewell.
1791 Britain’s Observer, oldest Sunday newspaper in world, 1st published
1812 Peter Gaillard of Lancaster, Pa patents a horse-drawn mower
1843 Robert Schumann’s “Das Paradies und die Peri,” premieres in Leipzig
1881 The first edition of the Los Angeles Times is published.
1927 Duke Ellington opens at Cotton Club in Harlem
1927 Dmitri Shostakovich’s 2nd Symphony, premieres in Moscow
1931 “Frankenstein” the movie opens at Mayfair Theater in NYC
1954 The first Burger King is opened in Miami, Florida, United States
1985 “Les Miserables” opens at Palace Theatre, London
1991 Pan American World Airways ceased operations
1994 Tony Kushner’s”Angels in America-Perestroika” closes at W Kerr NYC after
216 performances

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It’s that time of year: The Holiday Period Continues!

Inasmuch as I have cut down on my daily “NEWS” intake, somehow it just seems impossible to get away from the “Doom and Gloom” news reports. Recently a friend of mine decided to cancel the celebration of the Holiday period, and advised her friends and family to not expect any gifts. She advised them that if they felt the compulsion to do so, there are several charitable organizations that she supports that could use the donations.

Another friend of mine pulled a rather nasty trick on me last year and advised me she was not putting up a Christmas tree. I took the news rather badly; since she has a young daughter. I could not imagine that her daughter would wake up on Christmas morning without see the sparkling lights and decorations. She finally confessed that she indeed put up a Christmas tree.

As I view this particular holiday season myself, it maybe more of a challenge than in past years. I like to believe that of all years, the Grinch will not be allowed to try and ruin this year’s Holidays.

Trying to balance the good news and the bad news, I am sure people are struggling with these issues each day. On the positive side, there have been several historic moments we have all witnessed: First, we elected our first African-American President, Mr. Barack Obama, and on a local  issue, Connecticut voted in favor of Same-Sex Marriage. Both of these events, I do hope in time, will provide seeds of growth, opportunity, and open constructive dialogue.

Speaking of seeds, I am sure many people have heard of the devastating wild forest fires that occurred this year. I learned about the following program purely by accident when I had a death in the family. Should you wish to plant a memorial tree, go to the Department of Forestry:  then click on Can I plant a memorial tree in a national forest?

If you would like to take it one step further I suggest you contact your local State Department of Forestry  and make arrangements with them to purchase tree seedlings to be planted in a state of your choosing. It is best to work with your local area in regards to these programs because each area supports those trees that best grow in that area.

Now that I have mentioned how one can go about planting trees, I do find great pleasure in decorating a live tree. In the area where I live, there are several Christmas Tree farms. One season I actually believed I was in a scene of “Christmas in Connecticut” as my grandmother and I drove around the area. We followed a cardboard sign advertising Christmas trees “For Sale.” We drove up a dirt road, the owner came out, and asked me to hop in the tractor to pick out a tree. The whole venture and experience is one I will never forget.

If you are able to get in your car and travel to a Christmas Tree farm, it certainly is a fun thing to do, but don’t forget to bring a saw to cut your favorite tree down. Most of the tree farms do have staff that are able and gladly assist you, since not all of us are country people.

In the State of Connecticut there is The Connecticut Christmas Tree Growers Association, and their website is: http://www.ctchristmastree.org/index.html then, on the left hand side click “Christmas Trees And Products”, then again in the lefft hand column, click on “CT Retail Trees” where you’ll find:  “Retail or Choose & Cut/Harvest”.  This will give you a map of the State of Connecticut and it’s counties, just click onto the county and you will find several of the Tree Farms within the State (please note that this is not an inclusive list).  Some of these farms offer hayrides for all to enjoy and hot apple cider. It really is a full day of fun. While you can enjoy the countryside, you can also take a break and have a cozy lunch in one of the many local restaurants.  Just remember to dress appropriately, it can get quite cold, unless you’re the one doing the actual chopping of the tree.  A good pair of boots is also HIGHLY recommended.

If you live in a warmer region, or you have a yard that is not frozen yet, you can always purchase a live Christmas tree. Then when you decide to take the decorations down, you can plant the tree in your yard, and that holiday will always be remembered as you watch it grow.

The next, more imported, step is to “take care” of your tree. Nobody wants to be on the news because of a fire. Therefore, be sure to follow some rather easy steps. because you are now inviting a live plant into your home: For Care of a Christmas Tree:

Store your tree in a cool, moist place, preferably standing in a container of water, (inside an unheated garage) or (under a deck) until you are ready to set the tree up. Do not remove tree wrapping at this time. This will help the tree retain its moisture. You can store the tree for 3 to 4 weeks in a cool area out of the wind and sun without damage to the tree.

When you are ready to set the tree up in your home, cut one-half to one inch off the base of the trunk. This will help the tree to absorb water.

Place your tree in a stand and fill it with fresh water. Hot water may be beneficial but no stand additives have proven to be more effective than plain water. If you allow the water level to drop below the fresh cut, a new seal will form over the stem.

Display your tree in a cool place but out of a draft. Fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources can prematurely dry your tree.

Remember: trees are very thirsty. To replenish moisture lost during storage they may drink between 2 pints to over a gallon of water a day. Therefore, use a water-bearing stand with a capacity of a gallon or more. Check the stand twice daily and supply fresh water as needed.

One of the pleasures I get in decorating a tree in unwrapping all the ornaments that I have collected over the years. Seeing my old friends is my personal present, but this year as I see and watch the lights my thoughts are going to wander to all the possibilities and promises  for next year.

I wish you and all a most wonderful holiday, and may it of great hope for all.

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Historical Events December 3rd

1634 1st tavern in Boston opens (Samuel Cole)
1794 1st performance of Joseph Haydn’s 101st Symphony in D
1805 Louisiana-Missouri Territory forms
1842 1st performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s 3rd “Scottish” Symphony
1842 1st US child labor law regulating working hours passed (Massachusetts)
1863 Abraham Lincoln approves charter for National Academy of Sciences
1869
University of South Carolina opens to all races
1875 Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen” premieres (Paris France)
1885 American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) incorporates
1887 Anne Sullivan begins teaching 6 year old blind-deaf Helen Keller
1918 Richard Göring’s “Seeschlacht” premieres in Berlin
1923 Time magazine publishes 1st issue
1931 “Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes US national anthem
1931 Cab Calloway records “Minnie the Moocher” (Jazz’s 1st million seller)
1933 New York NY premiere of “King Kong”
1955 Elvis Presley makes his 1st TV appearance

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