Monday, September 29, 2008

2008 Annual Fall Dinner

Saturday was the 2008 Annual Fall Dinner at the Blalock home. I was trying to figure out if this is our 3rd or 4th year for the Annual Fall Dinner. Well, whichever year it is, it is likely our last year to have the dinner here on Saipan. It is the last one for Hozumi for a long time, too, I think. She leaves Saipan for Singapore in 9 days. We will miss her so much! So we dedicated part of the evening to a farewell for Hozumi. In the picture below, Sarah and I are finishing some things in the kitchen, and we're about ready to put everything on the table. Sarah was the chef of the evening. I was the house cleaner. This year we had the couch in the entry way. Here are a few of the guests, Rhea, Hozumi and Esther, waiting for dinner to be ready. Here's the table, all set complete with soup bowls, for Sarah's yummy butternut squash soup. Harry's grandmother's china was used again to serve our guests. We get alot of use out of the china.
Here's chef Sarah smiling over her table. We just placed the three big pumpkins on the table. Sarah stuffed the pumpkins with rice, pine nuts, zucchini, etc. and baked them for a dual purpose of centerpiece and yummy rice dish. Harry and I are ready to enjoy our guests and a very good meal. See, Chris and Sarah both smile really nice when giving each other bunny ears. Hozumi is happy to be passing the roast beef along, and Harry is happy to take a picture of me holding roast beef. No, I didn't try any. There were plenty of good veggies. This is a closeup of one of the pumpkins, stuffed with wild rice. We got the pumpkins from our back yard. Last year we bought pumpkins, and I threw the seeds off the back patio. So now we have our own pumpkin vines and fresh pumpkin. Chris in his he-man pose, ready to dive into his soup. Ha. Starting on the left and going clockwise is Chris, Harry, Kaye, Hozumi, my seat, Maggie (behind Barry), Barry and Esther. And at the other end of the table is Rhea (blue shirt) and Sarah with her back to the camera. Our 2008 Fall Dinner guests. Here's a better shot of Maggie. And here's Maggie putting the finishing touches on her fruit skewers. She chased Barry away because he wasn't arranging them correctly. : ) Esther is thoroughly enjoying her fruit skewer. Barry arranged the banana leaves on the table and centered the skewers. Hozumi took one of the banana leaves and is pretending to fan Barry. I think Barry wants to know where the girls with the grapes are. Rhea and Hozumi are enjoying some carmel and nuts to dip the apples and fruit skewers. After all, what is a fall dinner without carmel, apples, apple cider and pumpkins? Mmmm - it was all so good! Thanks for coming to our dinner, everyone. It was a really nice evening.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Girl's Night In

While the boys were at the Hyatt Golf Tournament, the girls enjoyed a "Girl's Night In". Sarah made us an amazing dinner with homemade squash soup in the pumpkin tureen, baked squash, bruschetta and stuffed mushrooms. Mmm. And yes, her stuffed mushrooms rivaled Harry's.
Here is the up and coming Chef Sarah with her soup and squash, and lovely Axe Murderer Tours apron. Ha. Close up of our delicious soup and baked squash. For dessert we had hot tea and mint chocolate biscotti - mmm mm. Very delicious dinner. We ate our dinner while sitting in my room watching "Because I Said So". Great girl's night.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Power Run

Mt. Tapochao, a beautiful spot to visit. You can see the whole island from up there. It's a spectacular view actually. I walked up to the lookout area during my last visit. I decided to take some pictures, and just enjoy the view while Harry was down at the tranmitter site refueling the generators in preparation for our many power outages. You know the ones I mean, they supposedly don't happen anymore since Wednesday. Mmm hmm, those. Anyway, enjoy the pictures from the transmitter site and Mt. Tapochao. And pat Harry on the back next time you see him, for running up there all the time to switch the generator over. Have a great weekend.

Truth Stranger than Fiction on Haze Island

This past week I almost feel like I've been living in a bit of haze. While talking current events over with Harry, we determined some things are at such a point of ridiculousness, that it's like watching a 3 stooges style comedy. Yes, life in some surreal, ludicris comedy. I just keep hearing myself say, "you're kidding me!"
Harry had the head of CUC on his radio show on Wednesday morning promising no more blackouts. I kid you not, it was about two hours later that Harry was running back up to Tapochao againnnnnn to switch the generator on because the power was OUT. Hmmm. But on the upside of that, it may have inspired Harry to write some very good fairy tales. Could just be a coincidence, though. (fft) And as a result of some superb leadership decisions, we lost a newfound friend. Yep, we met someone with a good sense of humor, kind, decent person who came out here to help out one of our business people while he was gone on vacation. He was treated with such rudeness and disrespect, he packed his bags and went back home after 3 weeks. Good job - way to draw businesses and encourage the economy. And I read about and cheered on the peaceful protestors from last night, who are seeking help with our crisis power problems. That's right, hundreds of our citizens gathered in a formal protest with the hope that the feds will have mercy on us and take over this mess, in spite of our leader's prideful foot stomping. I planned to attend the protest, but had two other obligations - one was dinner to say good-bye to the friend leaving after 3 weeks. The other was to attend the Saipan Chamber of Commerce reception for the military ship. It was a pleasure to meet the men who serve and protect our country, but also to thank them in person for their volunteer work on our island.
Yes, strange week. Surreal, like a haze hanging over reality. I think I need to go diving.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Awesome weekend

I didn't take any pictures this weekend. But it would have been a great dive weekend to snap a few shots. Harry has been taking classes in the mornings, so I've been using that time to do some of the laundry and clean the house. But in the afternoon we have been diving Lau Lau this weekend. Saturday was just awesome, with 5 turtles swimming around. I was able to come up fairly close and just watch them eat and hang out. They didn't seem to mind me at all as I sat nearby just watching.
On Sunday I caught a little extra sleep in the morning, then met everyone at Oleai for lunch. Harry, Rhea, Hozumi and I headed out to Lau Lau in the afternoon. It was a nice relaxing dive. We saw three turtles and an eagle ray. The little ray just followed us around for a while. I was stopped near a turtle just watching him for a bit, when I looked off to the side and saw the eagle ray had come back around to see what we were doing. It was just wonderful to be underwater with all the cool critters this weekend. Diving definitely helps make this a good place to live. You forget all the power outages and political nonsense down there. I am very thankful for my dives this past weekend. And yes, next time I'll take the camera along.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

More Dive Photos

It has been taking a while to upload my pictures to smugmug lately, so I'm posting some more dive pictures from last weekend, that I didn't have a chance to post yet. The next few pictures are from the Grotto. Harry pointed out this nudi. I saw this big parrotfish swimming under me. This group of small fish was all sparkly and neon blue with black. Very pretty. Harry spotted these two nudis on a big rock as we were getting ready to head back into the Grotto from outside. This one was on another big rock near the first two. Mike heading into the Grotto.This guy kept swimming in front of me, so I figured he wanted his picture taken. I have to wonder if he's the same guy that swam in front of my picture of the turtle last June. My camera was malfunctioning a bit for this photo. But here's Brad and Kathy back inside the Grotto. Some beautiful neon blue fish swimming along the wall. Ok, I think we're moving on to Wing Beach photos now. This guy was really cool looking. Wing Beach nudi, not far from the rope. Brad and Kathy heading out for their Wing Beach Crevasse dive. Brad and Kathy.
We saw this eel out feeding near the shallow corals. Harry leading the group through the crevasse.

It was another great dive morning. I'm already looking forward to this weekend's dives.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Worker drone

When I opened my computer at work today, my cool screen display and screen saver were all gone. It was replaced with a company campaign logo. They did this to everyone's computer today. I tried to fix it, but it is blocked so I can't change it back. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't want to be a team player, or that I don't like the logo - it's a great idea. It made me feel bad for some reason. I thought about it while I was at the dentist's office this morning. I determined that it bothers me because it takes away my personality to some extend. It's like I'm not a contributing individual, but instead just a copy-cat drone worker. I realize it's just a cultural difference, as far as work, being an employee, etc. It was a sad setback, none the less. But I guess it's not forever. And I did have a really good check-up at the dentist office, so yay! Since I can't have the nice picture on my computer, I thought I'd post it in my blog instead. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weekend Diving

I'm just posting some random dive photos from the last two weekends. I did two dives Saturday morning, Wing Beach and the Grotto. It was my first dive at the Grotto since my knee injury. I managed the stairs ok, but crossing over to the rock was hard for me. I felt unstable and like I didn't have enough leg strength still. So I had Harry carry my tank over from the rock on the way back, then I put my tank back on and carried it up the stairs. That worked ok. It would be nice if the steel handle at the bottom of the Grotto went over to the rock, but whatever. I guess that won't happen. Both dives were really good. Wing Beach was awesome. The picture below is Harry from the weekend before. We dove Lau Lau that time. Harry managed some good bubble rings. We had fun on that dive, very relaxing. Group fish feeding time. Awesome layered coral. I think this was at Wing Beach.Scott went freediving with us on our Lau Lau dive. That was just amazing to me how far he could free dive, then stop, take some pictures on the bottom, and resurface. Very cool. Scott resurfacing. Turtle at Lau Lau. Frogman at Wing Beach. Harry watching the dive group at Wing Beach. Kathy on her first Wing Beach dive. And Brad enjoying his first Wing Beach dive, too. Brad and Kathy.