The Many Indignities of Air Travel

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Image from abcnews.go.com

So I’m coming down the aisle of a crowded plane with a backpack on my back.

The guy in front of me was putting up his suitcase in the overhead bin, but the only open one was apparently past his assigned seat. Therefore he had to go back up the aisle after stowing his luggage.

But of course when he turned around I was right there behind him.

I could not turn around in that narrow aisle with a backpack on, so I had to simply back up.

And my giant butt was hitting people from behind as I backed up.

So I started beeping like a truck in reverse until I got the right spot.

People were cracking up. I’m like, Wide load, people!! Coming through!!

You know, it’s amazing how air travel can humiliate you in ways you never thought possible.

 

 

 

We’re S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G

I went shopping with my teenage daughters and ended up in the clearance section. My favorite!

I love looking through clearance items. You find some great stuff for cheap sometimes, and you find some things that are obviously marked down for a good reason.

To amuse myself and embarrass my daughters, I pretended  to try on a leather bustier, a pair of ugly striped palazzo pants, a dress with an odd useless flap hanging from the back of it, a neon tube top, and a Justin Beiber shirt.

That last one of course required some in-store singing.

But my favorite item was probably this “unhoodie.”

It was just a hood and a zipper. Weird.

I’ll bet you wish you could shop with me, huh?

Well, I have an opening; my daughters aren’t going with me again anytime soon…

An Alaskan Holiday Weekend

We just spent our first Thanksgiving weekend in Alaska. It was different.

For one thing, it’s getting darker and darker here. I have seen the sun rise more times in the last few months than I have in my whole life I think. Here’s a lovely sunrise I photographed on Friday. AT TEN-FIFTEEN A.M.!

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Also it was snowing like crazy on Thanksgiving. In the week leading up to the holiday, the temperatures had warmed and hovered around 20-30 degrees (that’s Fahrenheit, above zero). You might have thought this would be a good thing, after several weeks of consistently negative temperatures from about -10 to -20. It turns out, however, that the “warmer” weather –closer to but still below freezing– makes for more snow and much slipperier driving conditions. Who knew? In just that seven days or so before Thanksgiving we had a couple of feet of snowfall. (It’s sort of a record; you can read a news article about here if you want.) 

And then on Friday the temperatures slipped slightly above 32 degrees, and rain threatened to fall. This is of course, was a very bad thing. I didn’t have to be from here to know that having rain fall on several accumulated feet of snow and then refreeze a few hours later is no good. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

We were able to get to a lovely dinner with friends on Thanksgiving Day, and then eat more traditional Thanksgiving dishes on Friday.

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On Saturday I went to a bridal shower lunch. The party started breaking up as people noticed that the sun was beginning to set. This was at TWO O’CLOCK, by the way.

But there was a little problem when we started to leave: One of the ladies backed her car into a ditch, which she couldn’t see because of the the snow, of course. Most of the women went out with shovels and gravel to help.

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This was interesting to watch. (You didn’t think I was going to try to help, did you? I was all for waiting to be rescued.) A group of about ten women was able to dig out the trapped wheel and then pull the car out of the ditch. Girl power!

All in all, the weekend was definitely interesting!

Alaskan Activities

Everyone has been telling us that Alaska is great… as long as you can survive the winter.

Which is kind of most of the year. But I digress.

Photo by Angela Croll Bergeron

Supposedly the best way to “get through” Alaskan winters is to find something to do outside.  

I’m skeptical about doing anything outside in negative-forty-degree weather, but that’s what they all seem to recommend.

(Can I just insert here that most places you live there is not so much emphasis on literally SURVIVING any particular season? But Alaska is a different sort of place.)

So when I was at a party and a woman was telling me about outdoor activities that can make Alaska winters fun, I paid attention.

image from http://www.alaskasnow.org

“I love snowmobiling,” she said. “It’s great for the whole family.”

“Oh really?” I said.

“And it’s perfect for dates with the husband,” she went on.

My husband was standing next to us and he looked interested.  

“Yeah,” she said. “We drive all over on the snowmobile and it’s great. We both have so much fun and don’t even have to talk to each other. Best date ever!”

I laughed. My husband looked slightly offended. I stopped laughing.

She kept it up. “Yeah! I mean, when can you ever spend quality time with your husband and not even have to make conversation with the man? It’s great.”

I said, “Ummmm,” and changed the subject. 

Honey, I wanted to tell her, you forgot that we’re supposed to talk about them like that ONLY behind their backs.

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We made it to Alaska!

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So we finally arrived in Fairbanks just after midnight last Friday night.

I mean last Saturday morning.

Oh, whatever! It’s light most of the time here and it’s difficult to tell what time of day it is.

Even at 12:45 am, the sky was not really dark. It seemed to be more of an extended twilight time for a few hours, waiting for sunrise.

The airport was quite busy at that time, oddly enough, filled with excited people going on once-in-a-lifetime Alaska cruise vacations.

We were less excited, with our tired kids and our twelve suitcases, not counting carry-on baggage.

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Little Girl commented as we stepped outside into the not-really dark of summer late-night in Alaska: “Why is the air conditioner on outside?”

Oh, child. They’re about to turn that A/C waaaay up…

Cheez-its on the Airplane

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wikipedia.org

I just got back from a month-long trip that involved approximately twenty-four hours of airplane travel.

More about that later.

But here’s a quick story for now:

We were on a (relatively short) two-hour early-morning leg of our trip and I was passing out snacks to my kids. I listed the possibilities that were in my bag aloud, including Fritos, Cheez-its, mini cookies, and plain potato chips.

Apparently a nearby passenger was listening, and she started getting hungry. After about fifteen minutes, this lady turned towards me and said, “Excuse me, but I heard you have Cheez-its. Can I buy some off you for a dollar?”

I told her I didn’t mind sharing my squared-off imitation-cheese snack crackers, and declined the dollar. She ate them slowly and told me, “Ma’am, those Cheez-its sure blessed my soul.” I was pleased that she had enjoyed them so much.

When I related this story to my husband (much) later, his response was unexpected.

He said, “I’ll bet you could have gotten two or three dollars off that lady.”

Wow. It warms your heart, doesn’t it?

A Valentine’s Dinner Conversation

WAIT

My husband and I went out to dinner last weekend. Like everyone else on earth, apparently.

I thought if we went the day AFTER Valentine’s we would miss the crowd, so we waited until Saturday night. There was over an hour wait for a table, so I guess the crowd was still there.

Here’s a sample of the conversation we had while waiting:

  • Me: This is SO boring.
  • Him: Yeah. What time is it?
  • Me: Like one minute after I last checked the time.
  • Him: Oh.
  • Me: You want to talk about something?
  • Him: Sure.
  • (long pause)
  • Me: So go ahead then.
  • Him; I was waiting for you to start.
  • (long pause)
  • Me: I should have looked up those interview questions.
  • Him: What?
  • Me: At my ladies’ group last week, the chaplain came and told us how we could strengthen our relationships with our husbands by interviewing each other.
  • Him: You want me to interview you?
  • Me: Well, yeah. But I forgot to look up the questions.
  • Him: That’s okay. I do interviews all the time at work.
  • Me: You mean with your patients? (Note: He’s a psychiatrist.)
  • Him: Yeah. You want me to interview you?
  • Me: Oh…kay…
  • Him: (putting on a serious doctor-y face) So, what brings you in here today?
  • Me: In here? In this restaurant?
  • Him: Yes.
  • Me: Well, I’m pretty hungry.
  • Him: Hmmm. And how long has hunger been a problem for you?
  • Me: Um, a few hours now, I guess.
  • Him: I see. And have you had this problem before in the past?
  • Me: Uh, yes.
  • Him: How often does the problem recur?
  • Me: Pretty much every day.
  • Him. Interesting. So how do you usually deal with this problem?
  • Me: Usually? I eat something.
  • Him: Ah. And how does that work out for you, usually?
  • Me: When I eat something?
  • Him: Yes. What does that coping strategy generally do for your hunger problem?
  • Me: Um. Generally I’m not hungry anymore after eating.
  • Him: I see. Very interesting.
  • Me: Right.
  • Him: But you say the problem returns again soon after?
  • Me: Yes.
  • Him: Every day?
  • Me: Sometimes several times a day.
  • Him: Ah. So this is a chronic condition for you.
  • Me: Yes.
  • Him. Hmm. So what about your family history?
  • Me: My family?
  • Him: Yes. Has hunger been a problem in your family? Historically?
  • Me: Well, yeah. I’d say everyone in my family has suffered from hunger at some point.
  • Him: I see. So it’s quite pervasive.
  • Me: Yes.
  • Him: Well, I have some ideas about what this could be.
  • Me: Really?
  • Him: But I think I’ll have to order some labs first.

You can tell he’s a doctor….

Small but Interesting Critters

We live in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. It’s a tropical paradise, teeming with life, but you’d be surprised at some of the animals we don’t have here.

For one thing, there are no snakes in Hawaii. Also there are no squirrels. Weird, right?  And there is no rabies virus, but there are strict quarantine rules to keep it that way. But on to some critters we do see here:

Of course, I’ve already talked about the evil centipede.

Here are some other interesting little animals we’ve found on the ground recently.

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This little guy is a Jackson’s chameleon, a three-horned lizard that was apparently “accidentally” released into the wild here in the 70’s.

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This is an Oahu tree snail, and it’s native to Hawaii. Wikipedia says it’s endangered (all 40 different varieties!) but I’ll tell you, there’s an awful lot of them and they are HUGE. They don’t seemed threatened in any way.

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Ah, and this is one we like to call Exhibitionist Barbie. We found her sunbathing nude on our lawn. Judging from her pallor, I don’t expect she’s a native.

Dolphins and Penguins and Sharks, Oh My!

Over the weekend we went to Sea Life Park, which is here on O’ahu.

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(My friend had discount passes. Score!)

I had heard it was not as nice as bigger parks like Sea World in Florida but I was pleasantly surprised. It was small but there were a lot of nice animals to see. Plus the location right beside the ocean made the view unbeatable.

The dolphin show (see above) was the best part; the kids really enjoyed that. While waiting for the show to start, we passed out snacks to the kids.

My friend had packed peanut butter crackers and apple slices for her kids. (Good Mom Points for preparation and healthy snacks!)

I had forgotten to pack snacks and had instead stopped at the convenience store on the way for sodas, cookies and chips. (Bad Mom Points for forgetfulness and junk food.)

When Boo opened her Dr. Pepper it spewed sticky soda all over her lap and the surrounding bleachers. Whoops.She blamed me for shaking it up in my purse. I said, “Oh, EXCUSE me for carrying your refreshing chilled beverage through this hot park on my own back!” (Bad Mom Points for sarcasm.)

Our group sidled away from the spilled soda puddle and pretended not to notice when some foreign tourists came over and discussed the mess at length. I hadn’t brought any napkins or wet wipes, so there was nothing else to do about the spill but ignore it. (Bad Mom Points for unpreparedness.)

My friend’s kids, who had been eating their nice healthy snacks, caught sight of my kids Pile o’Junk Food. Of course they immediately began clamoring for chips and cookies.

I did make my kids share with their junk-deprived friends. (I’m not sure if that’s Bad or Good Mom Points,actually. Sharing is good, right? Corrupting your friend’s children is bad, though.)

In any case, the kids had a great time at the park and got to feed the birds, pet the sea turtle, and view the penguins, sharks and dolphins at length.

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Maybe I can have some Good Mom Points for a day of fun at a discount price…