Category Archives: Travel

Whew!

We were asked to go fishing on Lake Sakakawea on Saturday with a colleague and his sweetie.  He is in his 70’s, still works at my agency as a psychologist, and loves to fish. He has a rather nice boat, about 20 feet long,  with a live well, windshield, and comfortable seating.  It had been a couple of years since we had gone fishing with him, and he was excited to spend some time with us. He has been working from home since the virus struck, and has felt rather isolated.  It is a two hour drive up to the lake on oilfield highways, and we planned to leave about 6:00 am. We were in charge of the lunch, and I had prepared Baboon Joanne’s Southwest Salad, rhubarb muffins, banana bread, and ham and beef sandwiches.

At 5:00 AM, our friend phoned and said he was in too much pain from bone spurs in his neck, and he had to cancel the trip. I felt sorry for him,  but I was so happy we didn’t have to go. I don’t like boats, I especially don’t like boats on big lakes, and I find fishing unutterably boring. Husband likes to fish, and I didn’t want to disappoint him or our friend, so I was prepared to go along and do my best to have a good time.  I may not have had any siblings, but I don’t want to act like the stereotypical spoiled only child. (Only children aren’t any more spoiled and self centered than any other children, as a rule, but we have to combat these inaccurate stereotypes.)

We spent the day in the garden Saturday and got a lot of things done around the house. We had lots of good food already prepared.  It was a good day.

When have you been relieved lately?  What do you put up with out of love and affection?

Good News – Well, For Me Anyway

Twice before in my life in corporate America, it has been rough times.  Nothing quite like this, but for the travel industry, tough.  After 911, with all the airlines shut down and folks scared, everything went very quiet in my division for several weeks.   The second time was the recession of 2009, when companies thought that having incentive programs would make them too “visible”.  All the bank programs went first (even the banks that never took monies from the government), but many followed suit.  During both of these times, management was very serious and a vice president actually said out loud that it wasn’t a time for happiness.

I’m feeling the same right now, as if joy and happiness have been outlawed and I think this is more stressful for me than the general situation.  So it is with trepidation that I announce I am experiencing some happiness right now.

When YA was six, we took that vacation to Maine for the Machias Blueberry Festival.  I know I’ve mentioned this before.  I journaled, took photos and collected postcards, placemats, brochures and anything else I thought could be useful in a scrapbook.  When we got home, I found a good supply of stickers and doo dads at the craft store; I already had a good supply of rubber stamps of lighthouses – I’ve collected them for years.

I got the scrapbook designed and in the first month or so, I managed to get about a third of my material mounted and decorated.  Then things got busy and I put all the items in a black wire basket that eventually got shunted to the top of my studio bookshelf.  As YEARS went by, I often looked up at it, but never felt like I had time to really dig back into the project.  Well, I have time now, so last weekend, I pulled the basket down, dusted everything off (cough, cough) and got to work.  It took me a bit to figure out the font I had been using and I spent about an hour sorting everything out, putting things in piles by location and eventually finding a scrap of paper in the bottom of the basket that I had used to record where we had been each day.  Gold.

So I’m happy to announce that finally, nearly 20 years later, the Maine scrapbook is finished.  I was on a roll, so I also did two little scrapbooks for Rhiannon and Zorro as well!  I have all three of them in my bedroom, where every time I notice them, I get a little thrill of accomplishment.  Wondering if I would have such a good feeling about the scrapbook if I had actually finished it 20 years ago?

Any projects you’ve been putting off for far too long?

Remaking Murder on the Orient Express

When they re-made Murder on the Orient Express a couple of years back, I made it a point to NOT go see it.  The Albert Finney version made in 1974 is a favorite of mine and you all know full well that I don’t generally like Hollywood to re-make my favorites.

But it’s been on tv lately, so I succumbed last week.  It wasn’t a good beginning as far as I was concerned and by the time it got to the discovery of Ratchett’s body (which was very weirdly and disorientingly shot from above), I was done.   Then a couple of nights ago, I thought “what the heck” and clicked it on.  By luck of the draw, it was right in the spot where I had turned it off before so I didn’t have to watch the first 25 minutes again.  I made myself watch it until the end.

For the most part I like Kenneth Branagh but his Poirot was dark and moody, something I didn’t expect.  The characters weren’t all the same and the two movies varied widely on how the interviews were done and the murder solved.  Not to mention a couple of wildly grandstanding moments like when Branagh is standing on TOP of the stalled train “thinking”.   This MOE just isn’t a good a film as the 1974.

The wide variations between the two films made me really stop and wonder.  Do I really know which of the two movies is closest to the book?  I have to admit that no, I do not.  I read Murder on the Orient Express in high school, which is when I read all the other Agatha Christie novels.  High school was a LONG time ago so I’ll have to say, except for the stunning “they all killed him” denouement at the end, I really don’t remember most of the book.

You know where this is going, right?  I’ve requested the book from the library to find out.  I’m hoping the 1974 version is closer to the book, but even if it isn’t, I’m pretty sure it will still be my favorite!

When was the last time you had to look something up to refresh your memory?  Any movie remakes that you actually LIKE?

My London Jumper

Last week, on what may very well have been the last below-freezing day we have this winter, I pulled what I lovingly refer to as “my London jumper” out of my closet. I bought this sweater over 30 years ago; it is black with various bright-colored threads woven through out – yellow, turquoise, red and blue.  It is a turtle neck and very warm so doesn’t get worn too often each winter.

When I went to London about 5 years back, I packed the sweater, thinking it might be a good thing for a chilly British evening (and, of course, it goes with anything). I did end up wearing it on the evening we visited the Aqua Shard, a restaurant on the 34th and 35th floor of The Shard, the tallest building in the U.K.   The group I was with had a few drinks and were coming down in the elevator when a young man (probably in his early 30s) noticed my sweater, or “jumper” as they say across the pond.  He gushed over my sweater, made sure everyone in the elevator noticed it and eventually put his arms around me and asked if I wanted to join his little group.  Obviously there was some alcohol involved.  I said no and at the end of the elevator ride, his group and mine went our separate ways.

I’ve told this story to a few folks over the years but last week, when someone asked me about it, they were horrified about the fact that I was “assaulted” (their word) on a work trip. Had I reported it in London?  Did I report it at work once I got home?  I feel strongly about the MeToo movement but I don’t believe that every time one person touches another, it is “assault”.  I was in a large group of people in the elevator, some of whom were with me, the young man was not aggressive, his hug did not include any kind of groping and importantly, when we got to the ground floor, he didn’t make any attempt to force me to go with his group.  I didn’t feel a moment of anxiety and I actually laughed at the time – not out of nervousness, but because I genuinely found the whole scenario funny.

So I still think of this sweater fondly as my “London jumper” as it reminds me of an amusing experience on a nice trip.

Does any of your clothing have a backstory?

Brave New World?

Tech savvy are not two words that probably come to mind when you think of me. Some folks even laugh when they find out I am the go-to person at work when things are not going well computer-wise. My co-workers come to me when files go missing, when they need to know how to do something in Word or Excel (even Powerpoint occasionally) and I’m also the head of a long-standing group that controls all the various forms that we use in the events division. That doesn’t mean that technology isn’t moving faster than I can sometimes keep up with it. I have a new computer at home and it feels slow going to get used to it and at work it does feel like sometimes the tech folks are speaking a foreign language. But even so, I generally don’t feel flummoxed when faced with technology.

So, my trip to Texas a couple of weeks back took me by surprise. I got to the hotel around lunchtime – the front desk offered to have someone show me to my room but I declined; seems a little silly to make somebody walk to my room with me. I got into the elevator, pushed the button for the 5th floor and the doors shut. After a bit, the doors opened and as I was about to step out, I looked up to see that the elevator was still on the lobby level and the man waiting seemed surprised that I stayed on as he entered. Then I saw him swipe his room key card up against a panel at the bottom of the floor buttons; you need your key card to signal the elevator to move.

Key card in hand, I approved my door once I finally got to the 5th floor. There wasn’t a noticeable “slot” to enter the key card, so I assumed you just swiped it. I held it up to the door knob. Nothing. I turned I sideways. Nothing. I held it upside down. Nothing. As I was about to go back to the desk to get a new key, I happened to very quickly move the card against the door. Open sesame!

And as if that wasn’t enough trauma in two minutes, I had to call the front desk for the wifi password and I couldn’t figure out the phone. I pushed the Line 1 button, then the Line 2 button, the speaker button and all the combinations I could think of. I eventually did get through, but I tried so many things that I don’t remember what I did that worked.

Three times in 10 minutes, I was stymied by technology at the Four Seasons. It made me feel a little old and outdated so to sooth my nerves, I took my book and sat out on my balcony for a while, reading the old-fashioned way. I left my phone and my pc in the room.

Been flummoxed by any technology lately?

Small But Mighty

I made a quick trip to Bismarck one morning a week or so ago, and on the way back I noticed that the tire light had gone on, indicating that there were uneven  pressures in the van tires.  I didn’t give it much thought as the tire light always seems to be going on in the winter  when there are lots of temperature variations.  I drove back to town and back to work and parked in my usual spot. At 4:50 pm, two of the secretaries contacted to me tell me that one of my rear van tires was completely flat.

It was one of the days when Husband was out of town on the Rez. There was no way I could change the tire myself, so I phoned Jeff’s Towing, a business about 4 blocks from my work. Jeff zipped right over with his tow truck,  filled the tire, and had me follow him to his gas station. In twenty minutes he had repaired the tire and I drove back to work.  He charged me $35 for the repair. The three square plastic pieces in the header photo are what had punctured the tire. I was amazed such small things could do so much damage. Jeff told me that front tires fling objects backwards toward the rear tires as you speed down the highway, and these three little pieces had probably been flung into my back tire with great power.

What in your life has been small but mighty? Got any flat tire stories?