Starting anew is always a good thing! Here is Vol. 1 of "Artful Living on the Bluff" for you to enjoy. While I am not contributing new material to this blog, please feel free to look around and then visit me at the new and (hopefully) improved "Artful Living on the Bluff" blog at

Monday, October 31, 2011

TSS Mardi Gras

Some of you may know that I was, for several years, an entertainer onboard cruise ships. I joined my  first ship in 1989 - the TSS Mardi Gras of Carnival Cruise Lines.

The Mardi Gras was Carnival's first ship, too, and she was a beauty! Unlike the monstrosities they have the nerve to call ships these days, the Mardi Gras was truly a ship. Teak paneling nearly everywhere, brass, cut glass, real wooden decks that weren't made to be something else like a golf course or a running track.

There wasn't any such thing as Wi-fi. If you wanted some entertainment while sailing (as if the incredible views and sea air weren't enough for you) then you went to the movie theater (yes, the Mardi Gras had a movie theater) to see a movie. There were usually 3 or 4 to choose from - not first-run films but it was fun anyway.

There was one casino, one disco...
I taught morning aerobics in this room! What a hoot! piano bar that was more fun than you could imagine...

...and one dining room where the waiters and busboys would entertain by dancing with flaming trays and fancy cakes balanced on their heads (it was the one night NO ONE missed dinner!)... If you didn't like what they were serving in the one dining room, you could order a sandwich and some chips from room service for $1.

As I remember, she carried roughly 800 passengers and had a crew around 150. After a week on the Mardi Gras, you really did know people and you felt as though she was home. Again, not like these days when cruise ships carry 4000 people and after a week you come to realize there are parts of the massive ship you never even saw - this was cruising the old way, the better way.

My job was to dance and sing in stage shows in the beautiful Grand Ballroom.
We actually did live shows back then - just 4 singers and the 6 piece "orchestra". Those were great days! We also hosted BINGO in this room. We would sell one card for $5 and 3 for $10, good for a set of 3 games. It's amazing... I can look at this picture and feel like I'm there. (God, I miss it!)

I worked for basically 2 years on the Mardi Gras. I loved that ship! She was ultimately sold to another cruise company I worked for - Royal Olympic Cruises. It's funny to think about it now...

Many years later, in 1998, I was hired as a Social Hostess to work aboard the Stella Solaris (Royal Olympic Cruises) and arrived in Piraeus, Greece on Thanksgiving Day. I (and my luggage) were dropped at the pier and there was absolutely NO ONE from the cruise line there to meet me and my ship was not scheduled to arrive in port until the next day. So... there I was standing on a pier in Greece, not knowing a word of Greek, with $300 in my pocket and a load of luggage. As I was standing there on the verge of a tearful fit, a taxi pulls up. From behind me I hear, "Cindy?? Is that you?". As I turn around, I see Tom, a man I had met while working on the MS Tropicale (also a now defunct Carnival ship). He had sailed on the Trop as a craft instructor and we had struck up a friendship. Here he was standing on the pier in Piraeus, Greece!! Saints be praised! He and his partner Judy were going to be teaching dance classes on the Stella Solaris.

Luckily, he had more than $300 in his pocket! He, Judy and I loaded our luggage into a cab and found our way to a nice hotel to stay at for the evening. To say my life was saved that night is an understatement!

We found out the next day that our ship was due in the early evening so we took the opportunity to visit the Acropolis and walk around Athens for the day. When we returned to the pier, the Stella Solaris was indeed there and ready for us to board. As we were making our way along the pier we walked by a ship that was being stripped and readied for the scrap yard. As we walked by, I felt something incredibly familiar about that ship. As I peered into the darkness at the top of the gangway, I felt like I had some connection to the vessel - like if I walked up the gangway, I would be home. I put it down to feeling a bit homesick - I had, after all, left home on Thanksgiving morning and it had been a rough couple of days. It was only many days later - after we had already set sail - that I found out the ship I felt such a connection to was the Mardi Gras. I broke my heart to think of that grand ship being torn apart and sold for scrap. It still does.

I'm not sure why I felt compelled to write about her - Lord knows, I have a multitude of Mardi Gras stories... memories... photos... maybe I'll scan those photos one of these days and share them here. It really was the most exciting time of my life - a real adventure - and I am ever so thankful to have had it.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Decision made :)

OK, kids! The other day I showed some components of a work-in-progress...

...asking if I should make one big, gaudy piece or break it up and make a few. Now, you KNOW how much I love the big, gaudy pieces (and from the comments I received, so do you!) but I have decided to take these bits and make a pendant, a necklace, a bracelet and a pair of earrings. Can you believe that I can get that many pieces of jewelry out of it?? Neither can I!!

Here's how it works out:

This will make an impressive pendant!
These will fit together nicely to make a cuff bracelet
I'm not sure how these will go together to make a necklace
These will make a nice pair of earrings
I'm planning on working some more on it tonight and, of course, I'll keep you posted :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting there...

I have been busy at work on a new project! I am loving it so far but am torn between keeping it within some "normal" wearable bounds (splitting up the components I have made into a few different pieces of jewelry) or just going hog-wild and making it one big, gaudy piece. Here's what I have so far - laid out for the big, gaudy look - let me know what you think :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Morning Coffee Quotes

It has been busy around here, to say the least! Watch for posts about my gallery opening, news about "Stitched 2012" and a quick trip to Silver Dollar City for the Harvest Festival. Here's a sneaky peek - I hope your lives have all been full, happy and busy, too :)

"Say not always what you know, but always know what you say."
- Claudius

"To be big! To be powerful! This is and has always been the longing of those who are little or feel they are little."
- Alfred Adler

"It's not what you tell your players that counts. It's what they hear."
- Coach Red Auerbach

"There's a big difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do."
- Potter Stewart

"The virtue of courage is a prerequisite for the practice of all other virtues otherwise one is virtuous only when virtue has no cost."
- C. S. Lewis

"A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one."
- Aristotle

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
- James 1:19

"Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand."
- Bodie Thoene

"Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true."
- Julius Caesar

"Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at any moment."
- Ira Gassen

"Some things you have to do every day. Eating seven apples on Saturday night instead of one a day just isn't going to get the job done."
- Jim Rohn

"How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?"
- Leroy 'Satchel' Paige

"Telling lies is a bit like tiling bathrooms - if you don't know how to do it properly, it's best not to try."
- Tom Holt

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell them."
- Louis Armstrong

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so."
- Lord Chesterfield

"We are all such a waste of our potential, like three-way lamps using one-way bulbs."
- Mignon McLaughlin

"Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect."
- Vince Lombardi

"Force may make hypocrites, but it can never make converts."
- William Penn

"A friend who cannot at a pinch remember a thing or two that never happened is as bad as one who does not know how to forget."
- Samuel Butler

"Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use."
- Emily Post

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Necklace

You might recall my early in-progress photos of this piece... well, now it's finished! It's already posted in my Etsy shop - I hope you will stop by. Please leave a comment to tell me what you think! :) ....oh... and it comes with matching earrings, too!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Morning Coffee Quotes

I was saddened by the passing of Steve Jobs this past week. It seems odd because I have never owned anything made by Apple. That doesn't change the fact that I see this man as a luminary and a great inspiration. He was complicated, passionate and dedicated and, because of this, he made a profound difference in our world.

"Stay hungry. Stay foolish"
- As quoted by Steve Jobs from final edition of The Whole Earth Catalog

"It is always your next move."
- Napoleon Hill

"In most people's vocabularies, design means veneer. It's interior decorating. It's the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service."
- Steve Jobs

"People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty."
- Tim Ferriss

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face."
- Mike Tyson

"Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by posterity because he was the last to discover America."
- James Joyce

"The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts."
- Marcus Aurelius

"Man was born to live with his fellow human beings. Separate him, isolate him, his character will go bad, a thousand ridiculous affects will invade his heart, extravagant thoughts will germinate in his brain, like thorns in an uncultivated land."
- Denis Diderot

"It is a rare person who wants to hear want he doesn't want to hear."
- Dick Cavett

"We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves."
- Pema Chödrön

"No one yet knows an antidote to the political disease of single-interest pluralism."
- Peter Drucker

"Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising."
- Cyril Connolly

"You cannot be friends upon any other terms than upon the terms of equality."
- Woodrow Wilson

"Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering."
- R. Buckminster Fuller

"I'm as proud of what we don't do as I am of what we do."
- Steve Jobs

"If written directions alone would suffice, libraries wouldn't need to have the rest of the universities attached."
- Judith Martin

"To be persuasive, we must be believable. To be believable, we must be credible. To be credible, we must be truthful."
- Edward R. Murrow

"The greatest love is a mother's, then a dog's, then a sweetheart's."
- Polish Proverb

"No one respects a talent that is concealed."
- Desiderius Erasmus

"Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."
- Confucius

"He is the best sailor who can steer within fewest points of the wind, and exact a motive power out of the greatest obstacles."
- Henry David Thoreau

"Eminence without merit earns deference without esteem."
- Sebastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort