In Retrospect - Yesterday you invented a new astrological sign. Today, write your own horoscope — for the past month (in other words, as if you’d written it October 1st).
As if yesterday were not bad enough, now you want me to write about this soon-to-be-over month as if it hadn’t happened yet — but like someone had the prescience to know what would happen. And write about it like a silly newspaper astrologer.
Well, the jokes on you because I used to be one of those silly newspaper astrologers. I quickly learned no matter what twaddle I wrote, someone always thought I’d nailed their life. A soothsayer can, it would seem, do no wrong. And really, this assignment is just a version of “What did you do on your vacation” turned backwards. Or sideways. Or something.
Hocus … … … POCUS! and WHOOSH. A puff of mist rises from the crystal ball. My eyes are wide, like saucers — small saucers like those that come with demi-tasse cups.
“Madame Zthulu,” I cry, “what does this mean?”
“You will travel far and wide,” she croaks ominously. “But slowly, very slowly. You will see everything as you pass it. Your number is … ” And here she pauses and rummages in her sack to pull out a pack of cards with big numbers on them. I’m pretty sure I can see numbers on both side of the cards.
“Hey, aren’t those flash cards for learning multiplication tables … ?” I start to question her, but she cuts me off.
“HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT MADAME ZTHULU,” she thunders. I crumble in the face of her wrath. Or is that wreath? She’s got a really nice wreath on the wall of the tent and I get up to look at it. I just love handicrafts.
“SIT!” she says, and points. “What was I saying?”
I sit. “You were going to tell me my number,” I say, humbly and quietly.
“WHAT?” She shouts. “Speak up. Don’t mumble child.” Child? She must be blind, not merely deaf.
“YOU WERE GOING TO TELL ME MY NUMBER,” I repeat.
“Right you are,” she says and pulls a cards from the pack. “Your number is 28. You will travel either 28 miles — no that can’t be right — or maybe by route 28,” and she looks at me, apparently hoping for confirmation but I shake my head. Sounds like the wrong road, but I’m probably the wrong person to ask.
“Then,” she says, certainty returning to her tone, “You will travel at 28 miles per hour and do this for many hours, many days. But the scenery will be just gorgeous, really. You’re gonna love it.”
And she puts out her hand, palm up. International soothsayer-speak for “pay me,” and I do.
As I exit her tent, I realize it’s gotten terribly foggy . I’m completely lost. Again.
What would be your preference, awake before dawn or awake before noon?
I wake up, whether or not I want to, before dawn almost every day. Then I diligently put myself back to sleep if I can. Today, I didn’t bother because we are on the road and I can use the extra time to write before we are out of here. I wouldn’t mind being an early riser — sunrise is a delicious time of day — if there were a few more hours between going to sleep and getting up. But apparently that is how my body likes it. My opinion is neither here nor there.
As long as there is coffee when I stumble out of the bedroom, I can deal with the earliness, though if I had my druthers, it would be closer to noon than dawn.
While we are discussing morning — we are discussing morning, right? — I want to mention that Bonnie stole my breakfast cookies this morning. She not only stole them, she took the napkin in which they were wrapped and she made a clean getaway in a matter of just a few minutes while I readied my coffee. I bet she thinks she got away with it, the little terrorist, but I know the truth …
If you could choose between Wisdom and Luck, which one would you pick?
I’ve given wisdom my best shot and look where it’s gotten me? So now, a change of pace is in order. I no longer am seeking to improve my soul. This round, I want cash. A nice fat lottery win. I’m going with luck, this time. There’s nothing which says I can’t be wise and rich.
Wisdom is all well and good, in its place … but luck is fun.
If you were given the opportunity for free skydiving lessons would you take them? Why or why not?
When I was younger and had a functional spine, I’d have done it. Garry enjoyed it and we could have done it together. Sadly, it’s not in the cards at this point.
Is the glass half empty or half full? What is in the glass?
It’s always half full. Of either coffee or Power Zero. Because that’s what all I’m allowed to drink and I quite literally have a “go cup” of one of these with me all the time. Okay, sometimes I sneak in an illicit coca cola. Does anyone besides me wish they’d put the coca back in the cola? Talk about your fun times …
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Grateful the weather held for our entire vacation. Grateful for the friends who invited us to stay with them and enjoy some of the best company and most magnificent countryside I’ve ever seen … or am likely to see again. Grateful for cars that don’t break down, computers that warn you before they fold their proverbial tent.
Grateful that funny noise the yellow car is making remained just a noise and didn’t prevent us from getting home. And deeply grateful to Dwight D. Eisenhower for building nice roads on which we can drive.
Next week? I’m looking forward to the end of the ongoing well and water crisis because I’m running out of places to haul my laundry. And I would really like a bath.
We all know perils await us in our travels. But which ones?
This is the airline from Hell, stranding you somewhere in Indonesia. Are we there yet?
Originally posted on Beasley Green:
If you’ve travelled a lot over the years you are likely to have had a flight delay or cancellation. It’s inconvenient and frustrating at best, at worst it creates a domino effect of personal catastrophe destroying your carefully coordinated business, work or social plans. However, you’re better late than dead and sometimes delays and cancellations are inevitable for your own personal safety. But commercial air travel is a lucrative business and over the years most airlines have tried to take the edge off the pain for passengers who have to suffer schedule changes. They will provide refreshments, compensation and cover the cost of accommodation in the event of cancellation. With any service provider, some are better than others, but in the world of commercial aviation services, there are good, there are bad, then there’s Kalstar Aviation of Indonesia.
Kalimantan is the Indonesian half of…
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We’ve been on the road a lot lately. In fact, I feel like we’ve been doing nothing but driving, though it’s not true. We just aren’t the spritely youths we used to be.
We were lucky that we did all our driving in perfect weather … not too hot, not too cold. It threatened rain several times, but never did giving us some amazing cloud displays.
And through it all, we drove across the most incredibly gorgeous, breathtaking, surreal landscape imaginable. On a scale of one to ten, the roads we traveled were a solid twelve.
I’ve read a lot of posts that wax nostalgic about the old days, of trips down country roads at a slower pace. Driving through little towns. Past farms, fields, woods, and streams. No super highways with their sterile rest stops and fast food outlets. Driving through the real America.
Those were the days, we say. The good old days which we remember from the back seat. Where we were pinching and pummeling our siblings while nagging our parents to stop for ice cream. Or asking the deathless question: “Are we there yet?”
Everyone who ever waxed poetic about the good old days of travel should take the drive from Jackman, Maine to Danville, Vermont.
It’s 231 miles from Jackman to Danville unless you travel through Canada, which we did not want to do. Just going through the customs checkpoints would have added hours to the journey. Unless you go through Canada, there’s only one route. Take 201 from Jackman to Skowhegan. Hook a right on route 2. Drive. Keep driving. Behind pickup trucks and aging SUVs veering erratically while never exceeding 28 miles per hour … the exact point at which the car changes gears. The engine lugging relentlessly as it tries to find the spot.
There is food to eat and gasoline to be pumped as you pass through all those little towns. There’s always someplace selling pizza, baked goods, sandwiches, and cold drinks. Usually a toilet, too. You will get a chance to visit every little town in the mountains between Maine and Vermont. I found myself staring at the map, hoping a faster road would magically appear.
Talk about ambivalence. It’s the middle of October. The trees look as if they are lit from within. The mountains are covered in Technicolor autumnal glory. It is so magnificent it doesn’t look real. Combine that with an overwhelming urge to find a high-powered weapon and blow one of those pokey drivers to kingdom come.
“Wow,” I say, “That’s incredibly beautiful” as we loop around an especially breathtaking curve in the road. I’m trying to control my peevish aggravation with the current slow driver riding his brakes in front of us. It’s as if they wait for us. As we are about to pass, they pull out in front of us and slow to a crawl. The beauty of the mountains, lakes, streams, trees, sky, clouds, villages, farms, towns morph into a seamless continuity as we endlessly follow bad drivers whose feet never leave the brake pedals.
It’s nearly a religious experience. Aggravation wars with appreciation for nature — and a passionate need to get where we are going before nightfall. Garry is exhausted, irritable, frustrated. I’m empathizing with Garry to the point of offering to drive. Whoa! It took most of a day to make the trip. A crow could have done it in an hour and a bit, but we don’t fly. We crawled through Maine, crept through New Hampshire, limped into Vermont. Maine is a large state.
Our most startling moment was looking up and seeing a sign — a huge, brightly painted sign — that said: “WELCOME TO MEXICO.” Mexico, Maine. There were no Mexican restaurants, or at least none we could find. Lots of Chinese, though. After we drove out of Mexico, we came upon another huge, bright sign. “WELCOME TO MEXICO,” it said.
“Didn’t we just leave Mexico?”
“Maybe,” says Garry, “this is the village and that was the town?”
“Or something.” I wondered where the rest of North America had gone. Never mind. It was time to face the inevitable. Garry and I had to fill the gas tank. Ourselves. Without help. Oy.
Back home — a town which had seemed rural and quaint, but now seemed sophisticated and metropolitan — the stations provide service. This was not the case in wherever we were in very rural New England. Together, Garry and I pondered the problem. We had to remove the gas cap, which was stuck. Garry looked at me. He was doing the driving, so it fell to me to deal with the gas cap.
I pressed. Twisted. It was the child-proof lid from Hell. Eventually, it came off. Whooping in triumph, I fed our bank card into the pump’s reader and selected the grade of gasoline. Garry, feeling his moment had come, removed the pump from its hook, stuck it in the hole and pressed. Gasoline started feeding into the tank. When it snapped loose, Garry looked at me.
“Does this mean it’s full?”
“Yes,” I exalted. “We did it. We put gas in our car!”
We gave each other a high-five and continued our journey. We have developed a deep appreciation for the interstate highway system. And lost every trace of nostalgia for the old days of travel.
Would you rather take pictures or be in pictures?
Take them … but I bet you guessed that. I don’t mind being in them, though.
What did you most enjoy doing this past week?
This was such a great week. The company, though, has to be the best part. Having peers and friends to talk to who remember the same era, the people, the way things were … without the overly sentimental “everything was perfect” glow, but with humor.
It doesn’t get better than that. And the beautiful trees, mountains, paths. It has been an epical great week.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Cameras and computers. Microsoft did me a favor by bringing out Windows 8. It’s such an awful operating system, it has stopped me from buying a computer.
It will keep me in check until they finally put out a system that doesn’t suck eggs.
Which letter of the alphabet describes you best?
I have no idea what that means.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
I’m grateful that we had a week off from the crisis and am passionately hoping the end of the crisis is in sight. Please may it be so!