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Cruising again the high seas of the Gulf

By Shirley Prihoda

The Bulletin

We are on the open seas again. The fact we are headed to the same port we visited in October had negligible effect on jumping on the amazing price offered by Carnival to come sail the high seas with them. I’m not sure if the Gulf of Mexico would be considered the high seas. My son, however, would beg to differ that it certainly could be.

His cruise began on Jan. 13 about the time a cold front was making its way into south Texas. We awakened on Jan. 17 to pack our car and head for the port in Galveston, only to find portable potties scattered by the wind in Columbia Lakes. We knew the gusts must have been intense during the night, for it sounded like we lived on an airport landing strip.

We didn’t realize how intense until we got a text from our son, saying they were safely docked in Galveston after encountering 12-foot seas. For him, and a lot of the crew hugging the railings, they would attest the Gulf of Mexico can indeed have high seas.

Our son disembarked the Breeze at 10:30 a.m., and we boarded the same ship an hour later.

As the debarking passengers gathered their belongings, while trying to remember where they had parked their car five days earlier, another group was chomping at the bit to board and not the least bit concerned where they parked their car. That’s a thought to be pondered five days down the road, or sea.

As one group disembarks, the ship’s crew springs into action, readying the ship for a new set of passengers and a return trip to the Caribbean. It is amazing to watch the precision and skill of the crew as they rapidly clean and sanitize everything while rehearsing repeatedly how to pronounce the new passengers’ names. After all these years of sailing, it still warms our hearts when we encounter the crew in the halls or dining rooms, and they remember our names.

While it’s a bonus for us to sail at reduced prices, it’s a financial liability for the cruise industry to operate with half-filled ships. The fear of Covid and the variants has constrained people who once loved to sail to avoid cruising.

Fear of the unknown often drives people who loved to cruise prior to March 2019 to sequester themselves at home. I respect the potential of the virus and wash my hands often and am mindful of germs, but I still want to have a life.

Fear, like rushing water, has the potential to alter the landscape of our lives. God knew this and talked to us about it 457 times in the Bible. Since fear is the opposite, or antonym, of faith, we should stop and consider that this may be important.

When my mother was telling me something crucial, she would always say, “stand up straight and listen.” I never could figure out why standing up straight helped me to listen better, but there are times when you know not to ask.

While I’m not sure if the directive to stand up straight and listen was actually spoken in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I’m sure it was implied.

It’s absurd to me that the local grocery store or convenience store purportedly has less germs than a well-sanitized cruise ship. But then who am I to know? I came from the generation that thought a laxative and castor oil was the answer for anything that ails you.

While there are learned people who understand microbiology far better than this hayseed from East Texas – that would be anyone who can spell microbiology without the help of spell check - I have faith in Christ, who said my life was in His hands.

This may appear to some to be a simplistic approach to a complex issue, but it is the peace of my life. I can lay my head down at night, knowing the conflicting reports coming out of the Think Tanks don’t determine my peace. Frankly, there is peace in not knowing all the possibilities.

There is also peace in this delicious dessert.

Sugar-free Ricotta Cheesecake

Vegetable spray

24 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 Cup extra-fine Ricotta Cheese

1 ½ Cups Sugar Substitute

1/3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

2 Large Eggs

3 Large Egg Yolks

Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat to 400°F. Spray an 8-inch springform pan with vegetable spray.

Wrap the entire outside of the pan in aluminum foil to prevent any water from seeping into the cake.

Make a water bath by pouring about 1-inch of hot water into a shallow roasting pan big enough to hold the cake pan. Place the roasting pan on the center rack of the oven to heat.

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, ricotta, and sugar substitute for about 1 minute, until well blended.

In a separate bowl, whisk the cream, vanilla, lemon juice, eggs, and egg yolks until blended. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly pour the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Beat just until blended; do not over-whip.

Pour the batter into the springform pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Place the pan in the heated water bath and bake for 15 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue baking for about 1 ½ hours until a soft golden color on top.

Remove cheesecake from the oven and cool on the counter for 1 hour. After an hour, refrigerate at least 8 hours before slicing to serve.

Serve plain or topped with fresh strawberries or blueberries.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)


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