Pacifica Day Three - Part One: Mission Impossible

My idea for the family today, which I proposed over a breakfast of cereal and fruit in my parents' hotel room this morning, was to attempt a bold adventure of utilizing Honolulu's public transit system to journey to a place called Hanauma Bay. It's a nature preserve that offers, for a small fee, snorkeling. It's not the optimal snorkeling area on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, due to the cancer of human commercialism that has, unfortunately, metastasized to places near Honolulu, such as Hanauma Bay. Next Monday, we may have a chance to experience a less populous and commercial free snorkeling area called Shark's Cove, much farther away on Oahu's north shore. However, there is some risk involved in that "custom" guided tour excursion (contracted at yesterday morning's tourism upsell "free" breakfast buffet at the Honolulu Hard Rock Cafe) actually yielding quality snorkelage. So this adventure today, one of our "free days" to do what we want, represented an attempt to get some generic snorkel time, in case it doesn't work out on Monday. It also served as a fun, spontaneous exploratory tropical vacation "mission" to see how accessible such tourism attractions are by way of the Honolulu public transit system. My sister had heard that the bus system is unreliable in Waikiki, where we are staying, so this was an opportunity to see how accurate her sources were. Spoiler alert: They were accurate.

After breakfast, Deborah and I prepped for the mission, filling our day packs with essential supplies, like bottled water and sunscreen. We wanted to travel light, but we had to secure beach towels from hotel staff en route to the nearby bus stop where we would hopefully catch a #22 bus out to Hanauma Bay. We met the rest of my family in the lobby of the hotel and walked the couple blocks down to the bus stop. We got there ridiculously early, because my sister consistently overestimates the time it takes my mom to walk places, but a small line had already formed at the bus stop and we jumped on it to ensure our position in the cue to get seats on the bus if it turned out to be crowded. As it turned out, our efforts were completely futile. We saw the #22 bus approaching our stop, more or less on time, and got momentarily optimistic that we might successfully complete the first hurdle of the mission, catching the bus. Optimism quickly transformed into pessimism and then downright disappointment as the #22 bus flew past our stop without even slowing down, for no evident reason. Presumably, the Honolulu bus system and Hanauma Bay snorkeling vendors do not care about making money, only about shattering the snorkeling hopes and aspirations of my niece and nephew...and me. Our mission essentially failed pretty much before it even started.
We adapted and walked a bit further down the road to a body surfing beach where we whiled away a couple hours in the sea and sun. It wasn't unfun, but it felt empty to me because I was so very disappointed in Honolulu and their weak sauce bus service that foiled my snorkeling mission. When I set my mind on a task, I like to accomplish it, but this mission was blown out of the water, literally and figuratively, by forces beyond my control (although the bus driver of that #22 bus is in for a world of karmic pain and suffering, and it is regrettable that his entire family must soon die a horribly painful and drawn out death). Granted, we could have called for a cab and split the exorbitant cost of the 30 minute drive to Hanauma Bay between us for not significantly more money than the seven round trip bus fares, but it's the principle of the thing. Honolulu, fix your bus system so that it works when it needs to, or else @#$% off.

I am one of the few remaining Americans* who still maintains high standards and does not accept weak sauce of any kind. As a travel writer, I have to give the Waikiki Beach district of Honolulu low marks and I can't endorse it as a vacation spot for any of my diehard readers, who, like me, much prefer traveling "off the beaten path," getting out into the less populated nature areas whenever they can. Weak sauce happens because people let it happen. Demand more, people! To be honest, I never really cared about going snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, because I knew it was touristy. However, going there was something to tty to do, and on paper the objective was simple enough and seemed quite manageable. That's why it's so pathetic that Honolulu did not come through for us on this snorkeling option. The conspiracy theorist in me is convinced that Waikiki tourism lobbyists have rigged the system against public transit, so that commercial business operations can maximize their profits by providing transportation. Eff those guys too. Hopefully the rest of the week here yields better outcomes.

After the sea and sun, we ambled back to our hotel, Deborah and I stopping at an ABC convenience store en route to pick up a few things. After unloading gear and changing in the hotel room, during which time I cleaned and applied antibiotic ointment to a cut on my ankle that I must have received on the "reef" while swimming (it's not a true tropical adventure until you bloody some footwear), Deborah and I chillaxed poolside. She returned to the room for an afternoon nap, whilst I stayed by the pool to work on travelogging. Eventually, I got hungry and ordered a pizza for lunch from a local joint that delivered to our hotel.

My sister wanted to go out to eat at a fish place called Nico's Pier 38, so we did. However Deborah wanted to rest some more so she didn't come. I brought her back some takeout fish-n-chips from the place. I wish she could have come because it was a neat place and a pleasant, albeit long, drive over there, through "real" Honolulu, not just the fake and touristy Waikiki area where we are staying. The service at the restaurant was fast and the food was excellent for the price. After dinner, my sister and I shopped the ABC convenience store behind our hotel and I picked up a big jug of bottled water and some dark chocolate ice cream bars for Deborah and I. I might have to designate the day my dietary "free day" for the week due to excessive calorie consumption.


Pacifica Day Two - Part One: The Big Upsell

Not unexpectedly, I woke up at 5:45 AM today, corresponding to 9:45 AM in Wisconsin, the time to which my biological clock is still set. This was convenient, since we needed to be down in the lobby of this hotel by 6:45 AM in anticipation of an "island orientation" with a complimentary breakfast that I expected would be some sort of tourism industry upsell. The brochure clearly stated it was not a timeshare sales pitch, which was good to know, although not entirely accurate, I would later discover.

I made two cups of hotel room coffee and then chillaxed on the bed whilst Deborah prepped for the day. We met the rest of my family in the lobby at the designated time and were soon greeted by an amicable local business woman who escorted us to the Hard Rock Cafe Honolulu via shuttle for a free breakfast buffet and the presentation of a number of excursionary tourism upsell options. Deborah wanted to do a helicopter tour that was offered and I said if we were going to do that, we had to commit to the ultimate extreme "doors off" experience option, which cost about the same exorbitant price as the doors on option, while putting less of a perceived safety buffer between us and the ground. I like to do at least one anxiety-inducing adventure per tropical vacation, as a general rule. Deborah agreed to this. The rest of my family jumped on some additional upsell offerings that we agreed to tag along on, so our week is now somewhat action packed with things to do, though our bank accounts are blown to @#$%.

One of the offerings we signed on for was an island driving tour that brings us close to Sharks Cove, a less touristy and free snorkeling reef on the north side of the island that a friend of ours told us we should check out. There is another closer snorkeling area that is more touristy and costs money, but I had no interest in that one. On the down side, at this time of year, Shark's Cove may have too much rough water for safe snorkeling, so it would be a gamble, but the nice aspect of that island tour option is that we can kind of customize it so that we get to spend more time at Shark's Cove if it does turn out to be accessible to snorkelers.

Although the upsell thing at Hard Rock was not a timeshare sales pitch per se, they offered us $100 off our helicopter ride if we agreed to attend a timeshare sales pitch, with another free breakfast buffet, on a different day. Sigh...we agreed in order to save the money and get more free food. We have no intention, nor the means, to invest in a timeshare, but everything is pretty pricey here, so we figured we would suffer through the sales pitch to offset our vacation costs and fill our bellies for free. Timeshares must be a scam, because the woman who signed us up for the thing said only about one out of ten people who attend these sales pitches actually invest in a timeshare. So that one person's investment pays for the free breakfasts and the $100 tourism vouchers for nine other people, which I estimate to have an aggregate retail value of over $1000. That's pure overhead for the timeshare hucksters, so they must be making ridic profits on the timeshares they sell.

I am also hoping that we can hike up the Diamond Head volcano during this trip. As I understand it, there is a bus we can take that goes right to the base of Diamond Head, though I may be understanding it wrong. At the top of Diamond Head, you can look down into the inactive volcanic crater in the middle. Doing this would be both great exercise and great sightseeing.

So far, we haven't done much sight seeing, just got our bearings and scheduled a few things. However, this afternoon, I joined my sister, niece, and nephew for a surf-n-swim in the Pacific Ocean at Waikiki Beach, which is a block from this Hotel. It was pretty fantastic to get into the warm, clear seawater and body surf the large wave swells coming in. Farther out, some people were surfing with actual surf boards. What made it all the more fun was that it was pouring rain while we swam. I just got back from that endeavor a short while ago, soaked, and started writing this post after I dried off. Deborah is napping and the rest of my family went off to see a movie, but I didn't want to squander valuable vacation time in a movie theater. I can do that any time. Writing this travelogue seemed like a better use of my time during this mid-afternoon siesta.

It has been rainy and stormy most of the day today, although the rest of our time here is supposed to yield glorious tropical weather. The timing was kind of perfect, since today was an orientation and planning day.

After the breakfast buffet at Hard Rock, we had to suffer through a very bizarre sales pitch at a place called Maui Divers Jewelery, whose primary business model seems to be exploiting rare marine life for profit from the sales of coral and pearl based jewelery. The shuttle ride back to our hotel was dependent on us being herded through the manufacturing plant and gift store of these jewelers, even though we were not interested in their gaudy products. Again, this business must be raking it in on what few sales they make, because I think most of the potential customers there were mostly just in need of a shuttle ride back to their respective hotels, not jewels. Their business model seems to be based on the philosophy that if you get more people in the door you'll make more sales, and I suppose statistically that's true, although they might get more people in the door by just selling jewelery that people actually want. Whatever...it is what it is.

Upon being dropped back at our hotel, Deborah and I walked about a block down to a divy little cafe called the Shore Fyre Grill. My sister had heard that this was a lower cost eatery for locals, but it wasn't significantly more economical than anywhere else, I didn't think. We split a quesadilla and some kind of fruit and granola cup with acai berry sorbet in it. It was decent food. Although it had been drizzling rain in the morning, whilst we dined at the Shore Fyre, a significant gale whipped up with associated torrential rains. We got pretty soaked on the one block walk back to the hotel, notwithstanding a stop at a shop to pick up a rain poncho for Deborah. It was my considerable state of saturation that softened me to the idea of joining my sister, niece, and nephew for the aforementioned impromptu surf-n-swim in the sea after we got back to our room. After all, I was already wet. The sea water was warm and crystal clear, notwithstanding the gray weather.

We dined at the hotel in the evening, after considering several other options and rejecting them on price, distance, or selection. Plus, we didn't want to get anymore clothes soaked with rain, which was still coming down. After dinner, we found a secret passageway through the hotel to a large ABC convenience store where we bought cereal and fruit for breakfast tomorrow, to minimize eating out. We did some exploring of the hotel gymnasium as well, which appeared to offer some good equipment. We might hit that soon.

I realize this post is somewhat scatterbrained and uncohesive from a chronological standpoint. I brain dump what seems pertinent and try to tie it together in a quasi-meaningful way. Hopefully you get the gist so far. As always, when I find myself on a tropical island thousands of miles from the next closest outpost of "civilization," I desperately hope for an existential global crisis that will force me to stay here indefinitely. I don't care what other people say or believe...I do not miss the change of seasons and I am quite happy with just the one...perpetual summer...which Hawaii seems to have.


Pacifica Day One - Part Three: Waikiki

Waikiki Beach and the business district around it was hopping pretty hard tonight, given that it was the Christian holy day of Christmas. My family congregated at the airport and together we shuttled to our hotel in downtown Honolulu, right near the International Market. After a brief respite from travel to change into more suitable tropical garb, we met for dinner, after which my sister, niece and nephew, and I wandered down to the beach and generally milled about. Given the four hour time change, I am currently writing this in bed just prior to plowing through a solid night of sleep. On the bright side, when we have to get up at 6 AM tomorrow morning for a thing, my jet lagged mind will think it is 10 AM (Wisconsin time). In fact, I will probably wake up before six, if I had to wager on it.


Pacifica Day One - Part Two: Skydration

When traveling by air, hydration or, if you will...skydration...is a delicate balance. Too much fluid intake and you risk having a painfully full bladder at inopportune times, such as when your plane is taking off or landing and the flight crew is militantly enforcing the Fasten Seatbelt sign. Conversely, too little hydration aggravates already fluid deprived mucous membranes, resulting in ridiculously enormous dry nose boogers.

Pacifica Day One: The Dark Forest Between Wake and Dreams

We had to get up at 4 AM today in order to catch our 6:45 AM flight to Honolulu HI by way of Dallas. We diligently and valiantly attempted to get an early night, which called upon the full faculties of my meditation skills to slow my mind down to a pace compatible with slumber. As I lay there with my eyes closed and earplugs in, waiting for sleep to descend upon me, I remember thinking about that transition period between being awake and REM sleep (when dreaming occurs). There is a period between these two states that I call the Dark Forest. It is that mysterious void the mind must travel through, where the brain is asleep - as defined by a lack of consciousness - but not yet dreaming. The Dark Forest is a timeless place, so there is no sense of traversing it, but it is the necessary (though not sufficient) boundary that must be crossed to enter the dream realm. I always try to be alert to the moment when my mind passes into the Dark Forest, but I have never been successful, because the Dark Forest is mutually exclusive with alertness.

Suffice to say, I got necessary but not sufficient sleep before Deborah's alarm woke me and the day's journey began. As I write this, I am on a large airplane, a Boeing 777-200, several thousand feet above the Pacific Ocean and a few hundred miles (I estimate) west of San Diego CA. To the extent that Deborah and I are pretty much exactly where we need to be in the time/space continuum during this transition through the proverbial dark forest of the corporate American air transportation infrastructure, one would have to say we are hitting all the metrics for an eventual successful arrival in the dreamy Pacific paradise of Hawaii. However, it was not without its tribulations, resolved with minimal aid from the air carrier we have contracted with, one American Airlines.

American Airlines (AA) is not the worst air carrier (Frontier and Delta currently are tied for this title), but that is not saying a lot. Where AA fails is primarily in the domain of human decency and ethics. Their personnel have a staunch "not my department" (NMD) policy. NMD is not a bad policy in and of itself. I have used this policy many times myself in the protection of my civil liberties, especially while working in Corporate America. However, it is wielded with brutal and unethical ferocity by the employees at American.

A good example is as follows. We dished out a considerable sum of cash to American to secure "extended leg room" (XLR) seats on this eight hour flight from Dallas TX to Honolulu HI. So it was significantly disgruntling to us when we boarded the plane and discovered that our seats were decidedly un-XLR, all the more so given that we had exercised Deborah's "handicap card" to pre-board the plane expeditiously before the rest of the hoard. This meant that I had to become "that guy" who goes against the flow of the hoard to exit the plane and go back up the gangway to the gate agent, whose will I then had to battle to get XLR seats for Deborah and me. I was successful in this battle, but there was no credit to be given to any American employees. The cabin crew washed their hands of the whole affair when we explained our predicament. They were fully prepared to go with the "there is nothing anyone can do to help you" ploy, but when pressed, the flight attendant we were engaging said we could go back to the gate, taking all our carry on gear with us, and try to get re-assigned to XLR seats, but there was no guarantee. I did not subscribe to her NMD philosophy though. Deborah remained on the plane with our gear while I, unencumbered by my belongings, navigated the hoardish slolum course back to the gate area and demanded re-assignment to appropriately XLR seats by the gate agent. She tried to blow me off at first, saying there was nothing she could do and that the credit card used to pay for the XLR seats originally would automatically be credited for the seat cost difference (which I did not believe for a second, for reasons beyond the scope of this post, but which are quite valid). I again played Deborah's handicap card and made it clear that I would not back down easily, given the ridiculously high cost of the modestly more spacious seating arrangement we had paid for. So she re-assigned us to XLR seats, even as she continued to regurgitate a pre-rehearsed spiel to me about how futile my request was...she was literally running her NMD program while actually performing the exact opposite behavior with her hands on her computer console. It was surreal. Of course, the newly assigned XLR seats were closer to the front of the plane than the originally assigned seats, so...I had to wait in line with the hoard on the gangway to get back on the plane, navigate all the way to row 27 where Deborah was waiting, and then the two of us, with carry-on gear, had to be "those people," navigating against the hoard again forward to row 15. It wasn't too horribly bad, because the new seats were on the far side of the plane from the entrance door, where fewer people had boarded. The new seats were acceptably spacious and we had no undesirable people (aka, people) sitting next to us. I had the aisle and Deborah took the window seat.

We settled in to our new digs, a bit frazzled, but none the worse for wear. We watched the movie "Baby Driver" whilst the plane took off, climbed, and settled into its fairly turbulence-free cruising altitude. A meal was served during this period as well, with a vegetarian option that we exercised. After we ate and watched the remainder of this decently plotted and soundtracked film, we started in on a second movie, a screen adaptation of Stephen King's novel, "It." Not too far into it, Deborah decided that she might like to nap a bit and so we paused the film on our respective LED screens embedded in the seat backs in front of us. That brings me to the present moment, Deborah slumbering on an airline-provided pillow propped against my right shoulder and me tapping out this post. I tried to sleep earlier, and managed to doze a little bit, but the couple of slugs of airline coffee I downed on the prior flight from Madison WI to Dallas TX were having none of it. However, I discovered upon waking that my left leg had decided to remain fully asleep, because of the way I had positioned it. It was completely non-functional for several minutes until nerve impulses and blood flow were restored to it.

I'll probably ride out the rest of this flight awake, writing and possibly reading. My goal is to plow through to a nominal bedtime and reset my biological clock au naturel. We should land in Honolulu about 4 PM Hawaii time within about an hour, plus or minus, of the rest of my family of origin (comprising my parents, sister, and niece and nephew).

Retrospectively, the morning went pretty smoothly. We left the house about 5 AM after taking care of the dogs (we have a sitter while we are gone...thanks Devon!) and getting ready. I polished off some leftover chili that was unlikely to survive our 10 day absence and made some eggs. We drove our Honda Accord to the airport and I parked it in the economy lot after dropping Deborah off at the terminal with our suitcases. Once we engaged with the airline infrastructure, our quality of life decreased substantially, but was within expected specifications. One outlier in American's global NMD philosophy was an employee who offered to lead us to our connecting gate after Deborah had been abandoned in her wheelchair by other airline agents. He was actually pushing another person in a wheelchair and I pushed Deborah's in pursuit. We tipped him, because even though he had not been assigned to us directly, he had far exceeded American's low minimum standard of customer satisfaction and seemed authentically apologetic for the NMD standard of his comrades. His effort was rewarded. Being nice to people generally always pays larger dividends than being inhumane or douchy. American Airlines has integrated and internalized the NMD philosophy to its probable demise and the detriment of its minions.

Anyway, I am going to sign off for now, because Deborah has awoken and indicated a desire to watch the remainder of "It." Stay tuned for the next installment.


Pacifica Day Zero: A Preamble to Paradise

Hi Traveloggers!

Joe here (who else would it be?).

I am about to eat a baked potato, perhaps the last one I will consume before I set off for a tropical island adventure in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

My wife, my family of origin, and I are going to Hawaii for a week or so, starting tomorrow, and I'll be travelogging it all for your right here. So, if you are looking for a vicarious holiday escape, bookmark this blog or subscribe (if you haven't already).

We are all packed.* Deborah printed our boarding passes. We have a dog sitter (thanks Devon!). I even went to the gym and got a haircut today. Boom!

The only downside is that our flight leaves at 7 AM on Christmas morning. As atheists, we don't give a @#$% about the holiday or the risk of our plane experiencing a mid-air collision with a flying fat man and his reindeer. It just sucks to have to get up at 4 AM to go to the airport. On the bright side, there should be very little in the way of obstacles in our path at that hour and the airport should be largely devoid of undesirables (i.e., other people). As long as our pilot isn't hungover from too much Christmas cheer, I will be happy.

There is some kind of a time zone shift in going to Hawaii. According to Google, it's only a 4 hour time difference between Wisconsin and Hawaii, and going there it works in our favor (we'll gain 4 hours of glorious tropical sunlight). Notwithstanding the various different ports of origin of my other family members, we all arrive in Honolulu at about 4 PM on Monday afternoon. This translates to 8 PM Wisco time. So I predict we'll all start to feel sleepy about 8 PM Hawaii time (midnight Wisco time) and if we can just push through to about 10 PM or so before taking our melatonin and going to bed, the effects of jet lag should be minimized.

This assumes a lot, of course...most importantly that no one in our party is significantly delayed due to the sh!tty air carriers involved. But that's all part of the fun isn't it? It wouldn't be much of an adventure story if we didn't encounter adversaries along the way. To the extent possible, we will punch said adversaries in the nuts (mostly metaphorically, but I am not averse to literal interpretations as well...) and continue on our way.

I have only one goal for the trip, and that is to snorkel the reefs of Sharks Cove on the north end of Oahu. Despite its name, the location of said snorkelage is supposed to be relatively free of sharks, much less the man-eating kind.

Anyway, stay tuned, my friends. The adventure begins shortly...

*Note: I am all packed. Deborah likes to draw this process out over several days, and I am not sure if she is ever really DONE done. She has valid reasons for this that are beyond the scope of this post. However, I just usually throw some stuff in a bag the day prior to the trip. I have only three essentials: my ID, a neck pillow, a water bottle. Everything else is gravy (the airlines once lost my bag on a trip to New Zealand and I wore the same shorts for a week...I realize that's TMI).

Porridge and Resolve

I use the terms "oatmeal" and "porridge" interchangeably, although technically a porridge can be made from other types of grain than oats.

This morning, I prepared a good-arsed bowl of porridge. Part of the aesthetic was the brevity of preparation time (under 5 minutes). The rest was culinary. Per the instructions on the no frills brand* oatmeal box, I put the half cup of oats, cup of water, and dash of salt in a bowl (30 seconds) and microwaved it for three minutes on high (180 seconds). To the cooked porridge I added half a banana (cut up), about 20 grapes, a packet of low calorie Stevia in the Raw sweetener, and about a half cup or so of unsweetened almond milk (90 seconds). It was perfect.

As I ate it, I began thinking about next year's New Year's Resolutions and reflecting on the ones from this past year. I was pretty successful with respect to my fitness goals, maintaining a body weight under 215 pounds, on average, through a combination of regular gym workouts and dietary habits tied to fitness milestones (I have been sitting at a consistent 212 pounds for about a week now, an inverse "plateau" of sorts). While my weight is still 15-20 pounds above my suggested BMI, it's 25-30 pounds below the weight I was carrying around before I began my fitness resolutions in ernest. My goal to get down to 205 pounds by year end seems out of reach at this point, with only about 10 days left in 2017, but I am still pretty happy with my achievements to date.

I had established a resolution to practice piano regularly in 2017, and was resolute on that for a few months. However, once summer started and I began doing more outdoor activities, combined with a realization that I suck hard at piano, that petered out. A similar thing happened with regard to my Spanish learning goals by way of the Duolingo language app. I had been doing Duolingo lessons whilst pedaling on the exercise bike at the gym during the first quarter of the year, but once I began cycling outdoors in May, I found fewer opportunities to open the app and do lessons. However, now that it is cold again and Deborah and I are once again regularly attending the gymnasium, I think I should begin learning Spanish again, because this could be very beneficial in my impending career in marriage and family therapy (MFT).

That's a good segway [sic] into the fact that I began graduate school in August of 2017, to get a clinical masters degree in MFT. About a week ago, the semester ended and I was somewhat surprised, yet very thrilled, to see that I got straight As in all four of my classes. Given that the first semester of this particular grad program - at Edgewood College - is supposed to be the hardest (I assume to determine who can cut it going forward*), I am optimistic that a successful MFT future is in my...well, future. That being said, I shant get too cocky about my drive and abilities. Part of my surprise at getting top marks in all my classes was that for most of the semester, I pretty much felt like I had no idea what was going on. It was not until the last few weeks of class that I felt like RESISTANCE was turning into MOMENTUM, and things began to click. Apparently, this is by design of the program I am in, the mantra of which is "trust the process." That trust paid off, but it was significant elbow grease, along with dogged positivity and drive, that resulted in hitting the 4.0 GPA milestone. Although the remaining coursework may have a reduced intensity, I still need to push myself to achieve high marks, and grades are only (and perhaps far less than) half the battle. As soon as the spring academic semester ends, I will be thrust quite vigorously into the practicum "internship" year of the program, where all the book learning will be exothermically converted into "street smarts."

So, what are my 2018 resolutions? Mostly they are continuations of my 2017 ones, which by the nature of their durability over time have, more or less, become integrated with my natural lifestyle behaviors. To wit, I plan to continue to exercise three or more times per week, with the modification that I want to increase the workout duration to a full hour, up from 45 minutes. I find that I like it better if I can exercise longer at a medium pace rather than cram more intensity into a shorter time. I will do Duolingo language exercises whilst I am on the exercise bike at the gym. I will continue to eat a healthy diet, with punctuated consumption of unhealthy foods tied to weight loss goals in the form of dietary "free days" after milestones are hit. That way I can have my proverbial and literal cake and eat it too.

Speaking of sweet treats, I recently discovered that I have a knack for cookie decoration. While it is not a resolution per se, I'd like to hone this skill, at least throughout the brutal wintry months of January and February in Wisconsin. What follows are some images of my previous cookie designs...RIGHT CLICK on the thumbnails to view full size or download.