Category Archives: Travel

Traveling with Bells

We are finalizing the details of a trip we are taking next November to play in a massed hand bell choir at Carnegie Hall. We will also play in Central Park for a short concert the day before the main concert on December 1.

We have our bell assignments, and are figuring out if we will rent bells there or travel with the bells we have here. The organizers assure us that bells do pretty well in suitcases as long as they are thickly padded, and that TSA is prepared to find bells in our luggage.  I sure hope so. I have traveled with some odd things, but I think bells will be some of the oddest.

What are some of the more unusual things you have packed in a suitcase while traveling?  What are your experiences with lost or destroyed luggage?

Silent Healers

It was interesting that, after I mentioned the traditional Lakota healer/medicine man who I know in the Bad Dream post on Tuesday, I heard from him early Wednesday afternoon.  Ed, as I will refer to him, phoned me to say he was in Sturgis and would be going through my town in a few hours and could I buy him a tank of gas?

Ed is a disabled veteran from one of the Iraq wars, and is on a very limited income.  He was on the way to a town on the reservation where husband works, so that he could do a smudging ceremony at one of the schools. “They are having trouble at the school. I am only staying long enough to smudge, and then I am heading right back because I have another smudging to do in Spearfish tomorrow”.

Ed travels all over the Great Plains doing ceremonies for different tribes and native citizens. If your brother is in the University of Minnesota Hospital and is dying, he will go there and sing and pray and do what he can to restore health. I have heard from people that he is pretty successful, and that individuals who weren’t expected to survive rally after he comes to them. He is called in when there is trouble or tragedy, and helps native families with funerals and grieving rituals.  He has an old suitcase full of his paraphernalia and he zips all over in his little white Ford,  healing and being a spiritual presence for his people.

I usually have no time in the afternoon to leave work, but I had a sudden problem with a toothache and had a dentist appointment Wednesday at 2:45 pm. Because I had no idea how long the dentist would take, I cancelled all my afternoon appointments. I was free, then, to meet up with Ed at the Holiday station and buy the gas. I suppose I could think about it as a happy coincidence, or perhaps it was the universe giving me a nudge to further Ed’s healing in this world.  It gives me great comfort to think of Ed and all the other people in our lives and communities who work under the radar, bringing hope and healing in ways most of us never hear about.

Who are the healers and helpers in your lives who fly under the radar?

The Bad Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Don’t need to go into it but it combined two things I’m not crazy about and I even know what I’ve seen/thought recently that most likely triggered it.  However at 3:25 in the morning, you just want to go back to sleep.  I turned on the TV and pulled up Laura with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews and Clifton Webb.  I know the first 10 minutes by heart because that’s about how long it takes me to fall back to sleep with it playing.  I didn’t make it 10 minutes in this time.

How to you deal with bad dreams?


Today’s post comes to us from Port Huron Steve.

I recently posted about discovering several hundred scanned slides from trips my erstwife and I took in the United Kingdom in 1974 and 1975. Most of the original slides were good, but the company that converted them to digital files did poor work. After being scanned the images were badly underexposed and had harsh tones. I spent five weeks editing the slides, making each image look nice, or at least much nicer.

Last Friday night my daughter invited me to her home to deliver a marathon slide show. I presented about 500 edited slides and explained the circumstances of taking them. I talked so long I lost my voice. As my daughter drove me home I realized, with some surprise, that I had just experienced a “perfect” evening.

This surprised me because I am not comfortable calling anything perfect. That is such an absolute word. My experience of life keeps showing me that everything we experience is good or bad in relative terms. I am skittish about absolute words and absolute judgements.

And yet the slideshow evening could not have been better. For a storyteller, an ideal moment involves telling stories to an adoring audience. For a photographer, sharing images with people who are thrilled to see them is total joy. For an old storyteller/photographer what could be better than an evening sharing old images and their stories with family members?

Actually, I learned that there is a way that such an evening could be even better. Something already “perfect” can become nicer.

On our first British Isles trip my erstwife and I spent three days in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are a region of England where the countryside and the villages are unimaginably charming. Visiting there feels like stepping into a Beatrix Potter storybook. Perhaps the most appealing Cotswold town is Bourton-on-the-water. Its homes and shops were built centuries ago with locally quarried rock. The architecture is consistent, dating to the same period, and perfectly charming. A little stream runs through the heart of town, with stone bridges arching over it. The honey-colored stone used for all buildings is offset by many by countless lush flower gardens.

Bourton has a famous model village. Local craftsmen created a perfect model of the town that includes all the homes, churches and shops just as they looked in the 1930s. Each building was recreated with meticulous detail at a one-to-nine scale. Topiary trees and shrubbery line the tiny stone buildings. The stream is there, of course, along with those cute bridges. While the model town is accurate in scale, a few buildings have been given big windows so visitors can peer inside to appreciate how perfectly the interiors have been duplicated.

Because the model village occupies a significant area, logic dictates that the model village has to include a miniature model of the model. And it does!

The cherry on top of my perfect evening was watching my grandson grasp the concept of an infinite regression of models within models. “Wait, Grampy,” Liam cried. “So the tiny town has a tiny model of the town in it? Whoa! That’s awesome! And does the tiny model of the model have its own tiny model?”

Yes! Of course it does! Liam’s smile improved an evening I thought could not be better.

What kind of day or event would be perfect for you?

Lost & Found

On Wednesday I ran three errands over my lunch hour. When I got back to my desk, my cell phone was not in the pocket of my purse where I normally keep it.  My very first thought was that I had left it at one of the errand locations.  But then I thought about it and remembered that I hadn’t taken it out of my purse at any of those places.

Maybe it had fallen out of my purse in the car or on the way from my desk to the car. I went out, searched all through the car, including moving the seats forward and back to check underneath.  Then I looked again.  I emptied out my purse twice.

Then I decided to re-trace all my steps and drove back to all three of the places I had been over lunch. Weirdly, in all three places, the same spot I had parked in earlier was open when I arrived.  I looked in the spots, looked under the cars on either side, went into each establishment and asked if anyone had turned a phone in.  Nope.

Sadly I returned to my cube and over the next half hour discovered that my phone did not have any tracking capability turned on and then further discovered that for my particular phone there didn’t even seem to BE any tracking capability. I took a deep breath and suspended service and then called the phone company to see if perhaps they could track it from there end.  All the while the cost of getting a new phone was running through my head and I was starting to make a mental list of all the information stored in the phone and how I was going to have to re-assemble it somehow.

While I was on the phone I thought I’d empty out the purse one last time. As I set the empty purse down on the desk, it “thunked”.  I felt around and could feel the outline of the phone at the bottom.  It was between the purse and the lining!  The pocket that I normally put it in had a phone-sized hole and the phone had fallen through.  The gal on the phone with me was really nice to me, reactivated my service and wished me a good rest of the day.   I was so relieved, I could feel the weight falling away from shoulders – I almost shed a tear.

I got duct tape from the maintenance department and taped up the hole before I left the office.

What was the last thing you lost? Or found?

The Beaded Warthog

Last week Steve commented that he thought there was an interesting story as to why I have a beaded warthog. I’ll let you all decide.

About 15 years ago, I traveled to South Africa to do a site inspection with a client. Like usual, I arrived a day ahead to make sure everything is all set for the client. The next morning, after I had met with the hotel and the ground supplier, I got a call from the States.  The client and the account executive couldn’t get out of Cincinnati due to a huge ice storm.  By the time they would be able get to South Africa, it would pretty much be time to turn around and head home.  Believe me, traveling to South Africa is a long haul, so you don’t want to go there to come home  immediately!

So the next six days were almost like a vacation including great food and even a little shopping time. I had already found a Nelson Mandela t-shirt for YA (this trip was the week after he passed away), but since there wasn’t a client, my driver and I started taking time to stop at roadside stands as we drove around. It was at one of these stands that I found the beaded warthog.

It’s very common to find beaded animals in South Africa. The locals use reclaimed/recycled wire to sculpt the bodies and then use little glass beads to do the decoration. Elephants make up the majority of these beaded souvenirs, but you can also find giraffes, lions and rhinos.  I had never seen a warthog before (and haven’t since either) and it struck me as hysterical because the missing client worked for the swine division of a husbandry pharmaceutical company.  I forked over the money happily and added it to the little store of items I had bought for the client.

When I got back to my office, I called the account exec to let him know that I was doing some good notes and also sending the gift items to the client. Since I thought the beaded warthog was so funny I mentioned it specifically.  There was an awkward pause and he said “You know, she doesn’t have nearly as good a sense of humor as you.”  When I pushed him about what he meant, he broke down and said that she was very sensitive about the pig connection and he didn’t think sending the warthog would be a good idea.  He was worried that this would hurt my feelings.  Ha – just the opposite – I got a great insight into a client I hadn’t worked with before AND now I have a beaded warthog!

Have you ever had a gift go wrong?