2017-09-15

Journeys in an Orange Jacket and Other Lessons






Several years ago, I purchased a jacket to make a trek to the Pacific Northwest. We've traveled a lot over the years, thanks to my handsome half, so I knew the jacket would get a lot of use. What I didn't anticipate were all the lessons I'd learn along the way. I'm sure you've read all kinds of travel primers, that are polished and informative, but maybe you haven't really considered the bottom of the barrel basics. 

So, because you obviously have nothing better to do, here's my list of basics. 

Packing

We raised fairly self sufficient children, and one of the earliest lessons they learned about travel is to travel light. "If you bring it, you carry it. If you can't carry it, don't pack it." They learned the value of such preparation when they began traveling with school groups and girls that brought monster suitcases they had no hope of carrying, so expected the boys to be their pack mules. No bueno. NO one wants to carry your junk, NO one wants to help you load that beast in an overhead compartment, and most airlines prohibit their flight crews from helping because of injuries. 
A sub lesson to this one is already well known. Only bring half of what you think you'll need. Trust me on this one. If you're desperate and you didn't bring it, go to the store. That's why God created them.

Last but not least, take clothes that are flexible. My jacket also serves as a belt.




Security






Not all travel involves security, obviously, but often, even if you're traveling by car, you'll run into border crossings that call for patience. And though borders and TSA are supposed to be uniform in the way they function, they aren't. Trust me, you never know from airport to airport, border to border, what will be required of you. It's always going to be different. Be patient. These people really aren't "trying" to be difficult, some are just that way naturally. And the least you can do is not add to it. They can make your life extremely difficult. 


Restrooms


So. Just a few basic things. Obey the signs, people. I had a friend laugh uproariously at this one, but we've seen a bunch of shoe prints on potty seats over the years and these signs are necessary. The basic ones that anyone can decipher: 




And the more complicated ones obviously designed for English speakers: 




Pay attention, people. Sometimes those babies rock a little and no one want's you falling off that porcelain tower and breaking something. NO rescue squad wants that duty!

Public restrooms are bad enough, so please show a little courtesy:




Leave a tail. It makes it so much easier for the person following you. 




And for heavens sake, people, WASH YOUR HANDS!!!


Traveling "companions"


These folks are often surprising. You never know who you'll end up with in the seat next to you, in line in front of you, or waiting too closely behind you and literally breathing down your neck. The definition of "personal space" is different from place to place, and most cultures don't respect the arms length unwritten rule. Do your best with this one. Take a deep breath.




Signs


Believe it or not, signs, whether they're for warning or restricting, are there for everyone. If you're supposed to remain in a certain area, stay in that area, if you're supposed to stay on the trail, Stay. On. The. Trail. On recent hiking trips in National Parks, I was shocked to see the people tromping off into restricted areas so they could get a better selfie. Really people? I'll admit. I wanted to slap them. 




Be flexible

You'd think this would go without saying, but I've seen the melt downs. "My trip was SUPPOSED to go this way or that." Yeah, well, welcome to travel. Even in a private jet, sometimes things don't go the way you planned. Life is unpredictable. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. I know as well as anyone the frustration of being left at the gate or getting caught in traffic snarls, and mix ups in the various stages of getting around. But temper tantrums won't change things. 

We've found the most amazing things because of kinks in our travel plans. Beautiful things we may not have seen otherwise. Sweet times with our kids spent in airports because for one reason or another, we couldn't take the flight we planned. Even traffic jams have been quite entertaining if approached with the right attitude. 

While it may be hard in the moment when you're trying to fully grasp the challenges that have been placed in your path, try to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that raising your blood pressure won't change what you might be facing. And people will be much more helpful if you're more pleasant. 

Bottom line, travel.......... any kind of travel is an amazing privilege that many don't have the opportunity to experience. What do you want to remember about your journey? I choose sweet memories created by the challenges.

My jacket has a lot of miles on it. It's not in style anymore, I'm sure, but given enough time, it'll come back. For now it's still more than serviceable. I look forward to the journeys yet to come. 














For He will command His angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Ps. 91:11-12





Other projects
Resurrection Upcycle


2017-05-26

Bye, I Love You

Every time I leave the airport, I tend to reflect. This time was no different. I think about the number of airports I've driven away from, the number of times that bags have been pulled from the back of the car, the number of curbside kisses and hugs and reminders to "be safe". How many times have I said the words "I love you" amidst the cacophony of sounds of jet engines cycling up, screeching tires, and the smell of various and sundry kinds of exhaust?


  
Pinning on those wings!





The airports are all different. Some military, some civilian. Some small operations, some are of the huge international variety. I've driven away in sweltering heat, freezing cold with ice and snow covered roads, sometimes when the sun is out, but most of the time it's "0'dark thirty". We change places in the car and I get in the drivers seat, close the door, wave good bye one last time, take a deep breath and drive away. For years I've done this. Different jets and different cities, but the experience has always been universal and included the same things in the same order. 


 

Leaving the airport this time was the same as it's always been. My handsome half, dressed in his sharp uniform with 4 stripes on the sleeves and the shiny gold wings over the breast pocket, went to work. He loves his job and I do too. It may have it's challenges for both of us, but it's what he's always wanted to do, and what makes him happy, makes me happy. I can't imagine being married to a 9 to 5ver. What would that be like? He spent some time on the management side of the operation for awhile and I got a bit of a taste, but even that job included weird schedules and absences.








The man I married decided he wanted to fly at 6 or 7, actually started to fly at 14 and has been sitting in the front seat gazing out the windscreen ever since. For 47 years he's literally been seeing the world from the best seat in the house. He's explored the spaces from sea level to 51,000 feet and everything in between all over the world, experienced inflight emergencies, flown in every kind of weather imaginable; he even got the news at altitude that I was in labor and managed to make it home in time to experience the birth of our second daughter. 




It's been an amazing ride for me as well. The first time in my life that I ever flew was at barely 17 years old, on August 17, 1974 with him, my 18 year old boyfriend, at the controls. We took a 2 seater airplane on a journey to Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California. They had good buffalo burgers at the FBO on Catalina so we flew over and enjoyed a great lunch before flying home. On the way back, he turned the airplane on it's side so that I could get a good view of the boat races that were going on in the ocean below us. 




 I've gotten to do things because of his career that most can't imagine. I sat on the grass between two runways while he did touch and go's in a supersonic jet. I looked up from our back patio while he flew over the house so low that I would have sworn I could count the rivets if he'd only slowed down. LOUD. That was very loud. I stood in the cockpit while the jet did touch and go's. I've flown flight simulators, experienced in-flight vertigo, and I know what his symptoms of hypoxia are after seeing him in an altitude chamber. He made sure I understood the  controls, and the order of business so that if there was ever a need, I could land what we were flying. We've "lived a lot of places, done a lot of things, and collected a lot of stuff". I see a hashtag in there somewhere!




We dated for 4 years before we got married and today, May 27, 2017 marks our 39th wedding anniversary. As has been the case on several anniversaries, he isn't home. But I have high hopes that he'll make it before midnight. 



May 27, 1978



It's been a good life. I wish I could do it over again just for the fun of it!  I'm beyond blessed.







Intreat me not to leave thee,
or to return from following after thee:
For whither though goest,
I will go;
and where though lodgest, 
I will lodge:
Thy people shall be my people,
and thy God my God:
Where thou diest, will I die,
and there will I be buried:
The Lord do so to me,
and more also,
if ought but death part thee and me.
Ruth 1:16-17 




2017-05-13

Traveling

Because of my husbands job, we've had lots of opportunities to travel over the years. Our children grew up just assuming everyone could walk into the airport, get on an airplane and go somewhere at a moments notice. Chicago for lunch anyone? Just because. The youngest illustrated their view of life quite simply one time while sitting in the car on a rather long drive. We had gone to a state park about two hours from our home for an outdoor adventure. About an hour into the trek, she sighed heavily and remarked, "why didn't we fly?" A simple question. And I had to agree. Anyplace that took more than an hour to get to definitely called for air travel!! Flying wasn't daddy's job, it was just what he did. The same child also claimed that "My daddy doesn't work. He flies." 

Our children learned early on how to prepare for travel, and to do so quickly. No packing a week ahead of time. We never had that kind of notice. They also learned the principal:

 "If you pack it, you carry it. If you can't carry it, you don't take it." 

"Parent" was not synonymous with "pack mule" in our family. They didn't realize what a burden we placed on them until high school when the class trips began and other girls showed up with ENORMOUS suitcases that they had no hope of carrying, and just assumed the boys would do the load bearing for them. I was there to see the shocked looks on their faces, complete with eye rolling. So we raised some attitude problems. Oh well.

But even with our packing savvy, we've still never accomplished what I can only dream about. Handsome and I were preparing for a trip recently, and I was struck with two things. First of all men can get away with very little. They don't even have to take a razor if they don't want to. They can roll out of bed, throw on a semi clean pair of shorts and tshirt, and a baseball cap and look fine. I envy men for that. I'm not a natural beauty, and now that age has entered the equation, it takes a bit more "paint on the barn" to look presentable. If I rolled out of bed and donned the same ensemble as men can pull together, I'd scare small children and embarrass my family. That means I take longer to pull myself together, and I pack more. Not more than I can carry, mind you!

But I've always wanted to be like my dad when it came to travel preparation. I think he was a wannabe truck driver. He loved the sound that just the right tires made on the pavement. Used to say they "sang". The open road intrigued him and he took great pride in tying the canvas water bag onto the front grille of the car in just the right way. 






I don't remember ever drinking from one of these, but I DO remember him pouring water from it over the car radiator cap. We actually traveled through Death Valley more than once with a couple of these tied up front.

Dad talked about "Brownies", and double clutching, and other trucking things. He had an International Harvester pick up at one time and taught me to drive a stick in it. It was quite the man truck. Interesting that he always said he didn't care to travel. But I think he actually meant that he didn't like the kind of travel mom aspired to. She had a little more extravagant taste. Dad was happy camping. He was a simple guy that always wore work boots, blue jeans, a plaid western cut shirt with the pearly snap buttons and short sleeves, and a trucker cap. Always the trucker cap. You know the kind that are plastic mesh in the back and some kind of stiff foam in the front with a logo or slogan? "I'm spending my children's inheritance" or "D**n seagulls!!" complete with a very realistic looking bird dropping on the bill. That was actually my personal favorite. But I digress.....




What really intrigued me about dad when we traveled was the way he packed. It took him a grand total of 5 seconds to shove a pair of clean skivvies in his jeans pocket and he was packed and ready for the road. Needless to say, it drove............. my mom.............. crazy. I can still hear her saying "NOOOooooORRMM!! She was able to turn a single syllable name into three and voice her displeasure in considerably less than the amount of time it took dad to pack! 




I've had to resign myself to never being able to walk out the door without even a purse in hand to go on an adventure. I'll always have to carry a bag of some type with more than one clean pair of skivvies. But I'll always envy my dad's simple approach to travel.  As long as I don't have to carry my gutchies in my pocket!





 Hundreds of thousands of miles on these bags


You who ride on white donkeys, 
You who sit on rich carpets,
And you who travel on the road-----
Sing!
Judges 5:10 




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2017-01-14

Pursuits That Last

Sometimes we find ourselves in really unexpected places doing unexpected things and yielding results we never dreamed of. I think powerful lessons come from those times that are worth remembering.

Nearly 3 years ago, I found myself driving along a road that I travel often. It was one of those really odd winter days in my neck of the woods, that was actually fairly warm and incredibly windy! This particular stretch of road was lined with the little brick post war ranch style houses that are so common in many communities. And it's not unusual to find, at the end of the drive ways in front of these houses, some sort of pillar that bears a light or cement swan just to class up the place a little.  The kind of thing that someone erected a long time ago because they were proud of their little home.




As I made my way to my destination, I noticed a ways down the road what looked like a life sized Halloween statue set up next to a brick pillar at the end of one of the driveways.  I found that rather odd because it was a really weird time of year to find ANY kind of decorations out! Maybe the Christmas lights that hang all year round, but this was a big one that would surely have been put away by then. And the wind was really giving this decor a run for it's money. The statue was wearing a long white gown and had long scraggly white hair and it was all billowing straight out behind it. Other than registering the fact that it was a little strange, I didn't give it much more thought. Until I drove by it.

That's when I noticed that it wasn't a piece of decoration at all, but a VERY old lady standing next to this little brick pillar and hanging on for dear life in the wind! It's amazing how quickly things register in our brains. Like the fact that there was a guy working in his yard across the road that was completely ignoring this little old lady. 

Of course I couldn't keep going and just ignore her, so at the first opportunity I turned around and went back all the while hoping that she wouldn't blow away in the meantime! As I walked up to her, I noticed that she didn't look panicked or upset, she just had her face turned into the wind and was holding on to the pillar. I don't know how long she had been standing there, but I imagine she was pretty tired.

I asked her if there was something I could do to help her, and in her feeble little voice, she told me she was trying to fix her light. The wind was so strong that it had blown it over and it was laying on it's side on top of the pillar.




I stood quietly and watched her for a moment while she tried to repair her fallen lamp. The problem was easy to see, but it wasn't my light and she didn't even know me. The light was pretty old and cracked, but I didn't want to just walk in and take over. When I asked her if I could give it a try, she said "Sure" with a little wobble in her voice, and handed me her tools. They consisted of a rusty screw, a stick and a clothes pin. 




Of course my mind blew up. "I need to call the hubs and replace both of these lights for her. But what if her dear departed husband placed these here and merely suggesting that they be replaced would offend her! And how do I know my handsome half would even WANT to be drug into this situation!?!" And as I started to pray, the solution became obvious. I could indeed fix her lamp with just the tools she handed me. It only took the screw placed on the correct side of the fixture to make the lamp stay upright in the wind, but she thought it was important that it be "reinforced" with the other implements, so that's what we did. The stick went behind the lamp, and the clothes pin was attached securely to the rusty screw. I made sure she got back into her house and went on my merry way. 

Most times when I go past that little house I think about her and look to see if our "fix" is holding firm.  It's been nearly 3 years and she's no longer living in that little house. A young family now inhabits the place, and I love to see the evidence of children in the yard. The stick has since disappeared, but the rusty screw and the clothes pin remain intact and the light has remained upright through rain, wind, snow and ice.




The lesson I carry with me is all about what can be done if we're just willing. I asked the Lord what to do, and He not only showed me, but provided completely inadequate tools to accomplish the job. It's in His hands that the work has lasting value. I can't wait to see how long our repairs hold!




Whatever you do,
do your work heartily 
as for the Lord, 
rather than men.

Colossians 3:23









2016-12-10

Merry Christmas 10 on 10

On this day, we celebrate the birth of our youngest daughter.  I'm spending the day creating a "meme-nado" on her Facebook page because today she is 372 months old. That's how all the cool young moms count their child's age, so I just thought I'd join in. Happy Birthday Boog!
But today also officially (finally) marks the beginning of the Christmas season at our house. Last week some of our short people were here and one of them was bemoaning the fact that we hadn't set up our Christmas tree yet! 
So, that is what comprised a good part of our day. 







Every year it comes out of the basement smashed and dusty. 






 But with a few fresh candy canes, lights, some ribbon and the tried and true ornaments that we've been dragging around the country for nearly 40 years, it'll look great. It always does!





It's getting there!






The handsome half brought this nativity home from Okinawa 35 years ago and our children have never known a Christmas without it. It has wise men too, but they didn't visit Jesus until quite some time after His birth. So they reside elsewhere right now.......






.....in the room to the east of the nativity. 

"Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him." Matthew 2:1-3






We have another set that is much more kid friendly, but unfortunately, in this set Mary is a single mother. Joseph went missing a few years ago.






It just isn't a proper Christmas tree without Santa on his surf board!






And airplanes. 





Lot's and lot's of airplanes!
This one was given to us by my best friend from high school. She always had a part in setting up our Christmas tree. But since she's Jewish, we called it a Hanukkah bush!





Thanks Cherie!! 
(this is a parenthetical inclusion, and doesn't count as a 10 on 10 picture!)





"All is calm, all is bright...." 
until the horde arrives in a couple of weeks!! 
Can't wait!




For my eyes have seen Your salvation,
Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
A light of revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of your people, Israel.
Luke 2:30-32