September 2007

a-049.jpga-028.jpgA free trip to Hawaii! That’s what for!

My BFF (best friend forever) Lorette called me last spring. She was about to take her last CPCU exam but was bumming cause her husband Mike did not want to go with her to get her degree. This year the ceremony was in Hawaii.

Let me explain. The CPCU designation (Chartered Property Casualty  Underwriter) is an 8 part series of graduate level courses in insurance.  The exams are essay and take 2-4 hours. The subjects include accounting, economics, insurance company operations, property insurance, casualty insurance, personal lines, ethics, and law. It takes about 4 months to study for one exam. They are tough. The pass ratio is 70%.  Historically, the company you work for will pay for you & a guest to go to the conferment ceremony/convention.

I got my CPCU in 1989 and went to Anaheim California, where we had an earthquake while skipping a seminar & touring Disneyland. That’s about all I remember about that trip….

Anyway, Lorette started her CPCU studies, then had to stop to raise 2 kids while working her way to the top of the insurance underwriting world here in Maine.  So when she called she said she’d finally take her last exam, but was thinking about going next year to the ceremony in Philly, as she didn’t really want to go alone to Hawaii. Well, what was I to do? She was, after all, my BFF. So I offered to go with her. and she said YES!

So a week ago we set out for Hawaii one frosty morning at 4am. We got a flat tire on the way to the airport, but a local cop helped us FIND the spare doughnut (funny how a cop can always find a doughnut), and then put it on for us and we made our plane in Portland. Which then loaded us right up and sat on the runway for an hour, as Chicago had a lot of rain.

We just made our flight in Chicago and finally got to our Hawaii destination after 22 hours of travel. You should have seen us the first night, trying to stay awake at dinner. We were sitting 10 yards from the surf, the palm trees were back-lit, it was a 5 star hotel, the little hula band was playing steel guitars and Miss Hawaii was doing the hula .  The best coconut shrimp I have ever tasted was on my plate and macadamia nut & chocolate pie was awaiting. And we were about face down in our plates….

The hotel was facing Diamond head and had a little lanai (balcony) to sit out on, where we had our morning coffee ($18 a pot!!!) You could smell & hear the waves. It was a beautiful place with Egyptian cotton sheets that you never wanted to leave. 

When we called for the rental car each morning, it was waiting for us when we got down outside, with the air conditioner running and the bell-hops with cold bottles of water to take with us.

We toured the island with our rental car, going to the back side one day to a small village to have lunch, visiting the Dole plantation (and taking a nap in the car in the parking lot, which actually was quite delightful!). We visited an old sugar mill turned soap factory and in the same compound, a big steel building that housed the Waihali coffee factory. They buy all of Dole’s coffee beans, send them around the island to friends houses to be roasted, then package them and sell it. It was wonderful and I brought home 2 pounds.

One day we took an organized tour to a waterfall hike, 2 miles up in the mountains. The leader had studied the plant-life and was a wealth of information. Orchids & impatiens grew wild.  That afternoon we took another bus tour around the east side of the island & up over the mountains. Lots of people, and an out of control 18 month old next to us.

The speakers were great — James Bradley who wrote Flags of our Fathers spoke at the ceremony. I was so proud of Lorette when she stood with the 4900 other new CPCUs and took her oath and became official. 

The next morning we had another great speaker –  Erik Weihenmayer the blind climber who conquered Mt Everest.   Erik has a wicked cool sense of humour and I could have listened to him for hours—he was a great speaker, warm & fuzzy, and as tenacious as a little terrier.

The last night all 8000 of us went to the waterfront market, which they had closed down for us. There were food stations all over the place, 5 bands, and at the end an awesome fireworks show. The last morning we took a bus to the Pearl Harbor memorial. The lines were crushing & long, but it was a great tour. Very moving.

Then is was back on the plane and 22 hours to home via the redeye.   It was a whirlwind of activity and so much fun. Lorette and I like to do the same things, like shop a little, explore, not lay on the beach, historical things, plants, eat, and definitely need coffee in the mornings. The perfect traveling companion! She drove, I navigated, and if I missed an exit, no big deal, we just figured it out. Unlike my DH(dear husband) who would have screamed at me….

Back before kids, Lorette & I had gone to the Caribbean together. Now 35 years later, we were on another island together. It was such fun!  Thanks Lorette,for sharing your trip with me!

 If you look to the right, you’ll see the photos in the Flickr slide show.

If you look up the word ‘ditz’ you’ll find “Eccentric”, “Lacking judgment”, “No common sense” and “Deb”.

Today I made Brandon come home early, get cleaned up, put on a suit coat & tie (yes, he does own ONE tie, with sheep on it). I got out my fancy-dancy pants and a mohair/angora/silk top and put on all my jewelry and put up my hair instead of the usual ratty old scrunchie. We were off to the annual meeting of the Cooperative Extension Service for Cumberland County, of which I was just asked to be a board member.  The President of the University of Maine was to be the speaker and even the Rockefeller family was going to be there, along with other ‘important’ people in the Falmouth/Portland world of ‘important’ things.

Guess I’m not quite ready for the big time. We spent an hour driving there, couldn’t understand why the promised road signs were not in evidence, and finally spotting a huge white wedding-type tent by the ocean/marsh, flagged down a farmer-type person.  “Yes, can you help us? We’re lost. We’re trying to find the Tidewater/Extension meeting.”  hmmmmm….. He responds with a smirk “You’re not lost; you’re early. It’s TOMORROW”. Yup, I had read the invitation wrong.  Brandon, reading the invitation aloud to me in the car, just asked “Is it the 19th?” even though it plainly said “Wednesday the 19th” on the invite. I KNEW it was Tuesday but I thought it was the 19th.  Brandon KNEW it was the 19th, as I had just told him so, but had no idea of what day of the week it was.

So, we went out for Mexican food. Brandon took off the tie, though. Now I have to figure out how to get him to go back with me tomorrow night for the real event…..  I told him we could just wait in the tent for the caterers to show up with the shrimp, but he had to get back to the sheep & work.

Yup, I am a ditz…. 

Well, it’s been a normal hectic summer. The antiques shop is open 6 days a week, then I also go the Irish Ewe for spinning/knitting on Wednesdays. Throw in keeping track of all of Brandon’s business, and add some lingering poison ivy, and well…. I just didn’t have time.

Oh, did I mention we are cleaning out 2 houses this summer? Here’s what my office looks like — there are boxes coming in, going out, being tagged, etc etc. 

Office mess 

OK, now come with me for a walk around the farm and get away from that mess!

Pumpkins  Here are our unintended pumpkins which grew out of the manure pile in the pasture. When they were little, I went out with a nail and scatched them. When they healed over, they formed thick ‘scabs’ so the words would stand out. Alas, the crazy pygoras thought they’d get a nibble of pumpkin pie and  ate some of the words.  We will use them to decorate the sheep pens at the Fryeburg Fair next month.


Let’s keep going, shall we? Ashcroft  Here’s Ashcroft beside the barn. Look at those horns! He’s so handsome in his new bell. I’ve been buying antique bells and putting them on leather belts from Salvation Army. So far, I’ve got about a dozen and they all sound different & tinkle away in the flock.Ashcroft & his horns  Logan & his cashmere  Take a look at Logan, our cashmere buck. That grey fluffy stuff near his skin is cashmere and it’s not coming out! We comb & comb him but I’m afraid we’ll have to shear him to get it.

fall.jpg  Over near the road, a maple is just starting to turn. Fall is coming, yahoo! I love fall, so crispy, so clear, no bugs, no sweating, so pretty…  house Looking back from the rams pasture, the house sits up on a little hill. Hard to see under the huge maple tree but it’s so pretty.

OK, time to check the chickens. The ‘girls’ are roosting inside their little house, getting ready to sleep. nov2965.jpg  Look what they left for me today! eggs.jpg

BAck in the house I find the remains of the domino party we had last night. My dishwasher is broken (it’s been a year now) and as Brandon doesn’t do dishes, he thinks it’s no big deal and hasn’t fixed it. Now I am faced with MOUNTAINS of dishes to do by hand. No, not hard, just will take an hour out of my day… Grrrrr….messy.jpg

And in the living room, we find our newest rescue, 11 year old Maltese we’ve named Nimbus (after the fluffy white clouds that Brandon flies thru in the plane). Nimbus was given up to a shelter and now lives the life he so deserves. Guess I’ll have to sit in the wingback instead of the couch…nimbus.jpg

But wait a minute, looks like Brandon is ‘watching TV’ in my chair. Guess it’s the floor for me! watchingtv.jpg