Packing and Planning and TSA, Oh My!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am going to Oahu sometime next month with my wonderful step-daughter. She is a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army reserves, and goes to Oahu every year for reserve duty. Each year she has asked me to go with her, and this year I said yes!

As I have not flown since 2001, there is a whole lot of stuff I know nothing about, mainly all the TSA approved stuff. So I went online to see what I needed to do. Boy, have things changed

Mind you, I am all for more security, and have looked up what I can and cannot bring with me. I learned from a friend who travels a lot that a carry-on bag is essential, as well as checking one suitcase. I have searched for and bought the 3.4 oz. bottles for makeup and shampoo and conditioner and so on. I requested and received a note from my doctor listing all meds and supplements, just so I don’t get in trouble with TSA in any way.

Speaking of the TSA, I read that the best way to work with these dedicated and very serious folks is to listen to them and so as they ask. My one concern was the whole holding my rotator-cuffless arms up for any amount of time. I would much rather that they just frisk me. Now how to figure out how to ask this of them without them thinking I’ve gone perve-y.

I have not even looked at a bathing suit in over 20 years, so again, I went online to find one that worked for me. Did you know that you can wear amazing and comfortable board shorts to swim in? Who knew! Now I am waiting for the two tops I bought to arrive; both look like tank tops with boobs. I’ll see how that works; if not, I’ll just wear a sports bra and a t-shirt over the shorts. At my age, who cares?

I even bought one of those neck thingies in case I find that I cannot hold my head up while sitting in the plane for what will probably be around a 12-hour flight. I also bought a Kindle paperwhite to read books on to pass the time. I am still trying to figure it all out so that I know how many books I have, etc. Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to bring at least two real books with me.

I also have an Amazon Fire tablet, but since all I’ve ever used it for to date is watching old Doctor Who episodes, I don’t know if I can use that on the plane, either. Oh, I know about the “airplane” mode thing; just have to find out what button or swipe and whatever that makes the dang thing come up.

Well, suffice it to say that it will not only be the trip of a lifetime, but a real plunge into technology. Of course, I can always ask my brilliant step-daughter for help. I only pray that I don’t aggravate her to the point of putting on a parachute and jumping out of the plane over the Mid West to get away from all my questions….

Wish me luck!


A Great Song About Cats

If you like*Garrison Keillor and his sense of humor as I do, you may remember his famous cat song, “The In and Out Cat.” The first time I heard it, I laughed my head off; it says more about cats and how we react to them. If you have a cat, (or in our case, cats) you can certainly agree with their propensity to change their minds at a moment’s notice.

The lyrics follow:

“I want to go out –

Open that door if you love me

Gotta go out, want to breathe the air

I gotta get loose with the blue sky above me

I been here long enough, I got to be there

I want to come in – what’s the matter, can’t you hear me?

I want to come in, I am your cat!

I gotta get warm with the people I love near me

I been gone a long, long time and now I’m back

And now I want to go out –

I’m an independent creature I am a cat –

we’re the wandering kind!

It’s the call of the wild – I gotta get back to nature

These paws are made for walking and now it’s time.

OK, I’m back, but not for long I’ll soon be going –

Just give me a bite now and I’m on my way

Now open that door and I’ll – good grief, it’s snowing –

Open up – let me in – I’m back to stay

Well, now it’s stopped, so thanks for all your love

Gotta hop that freight, I’m a ramblin’ guy

Gotta hit that road – it’s in my blood or something’ –

I know you understand so please don’t cry

Hello it’s me – I know you’d probably miss me

And I came back, because I missed you so

But I can’t stay long, so honey come and kiss me –

I think I hear that long some whistle blow

I’m on my way, got to leave my mom and daddy –

Got to say goodbye, want to hear that highway hum

Now I’m all alone and I’ m feeling so unhappy –

It’s time that I went back where I came from

Yes, it’s time to go back, time to put the road behind me –

I drifted away, but I’m going back now.

Here’s the little white house –

Here’ s that picket fence and the ivy –

I’ll just knock on the door – meow

Open up, it’s me, it’s your cat it’s cold out here the water’s gettin’ higher

Momma please…”

*Garrison Keilor is famous for his radio show, “Prarie Home Companion” as well as many books.

Miracles Around the Pond

As we here in the Northeast haven’t gotten much in the way of snow yet, I’ve been able to walk around the pond far more than I usually do in winter. It’s a good-ish walk with plenty to see; seagulls flying and sometimes landing on the ice, the occasional set of ducks quarreling in the small area of open water (probably about how cold the water is!), and often a few breath-taking bonuses.

Just the other day I bundled up and did the pond walk. It was bright and sunny, but the wind was pretty cold. I love walking around the pond; being in all that nature makes me feel as if my grandmother is close by. It was she who taught me about the wild and shy animals that often peopled her back yard, as well the habits of the birds, whom she loved unconditionally.

She told me about how the rabbits live, and where the squirrels and chipmunks make their cozy nests to survive the cold weather. There was a lone bob cat in the meadow behind the house, and often late at night, you could hear him rumble and roar.

My grandmother’s favorites though were the birds. During the winter time she made suet balls to hang on the trees near the house. She rolled suet and seeds into balls and hung them with twine. These kept the birds full of all the protein and fat they needed to get through the winter. She also made what she called “peanut butter logs.” She had my grandfather chop 10″ pine logs and drill good-sized holes up and down the sides. Beneath each hole was a tiny peg for the birds to stand on while they fed on the contents of the holes in the logs; a nourishing mix of peanut butter and seeds. Each log was hung where she could watch the grateful birds feed.

As I walked along the trail around the pond, I remembered my grandmother’s love for birds. As I looked out over the half-frozen pond, behold and lo—there was a beautiful blue heron that soared over the pond, legs streaming out behind. If that wasn’t enough glory and beauty for one day, I also saw what had to be a huge female bald eagle flying in circles over a flock of seagulls. Her wing span must have been at least eight feet. She was brown and white and looked incredibly fierce and wild. At one point, she landed on a tree branch and looked down into my eyes—I was both amazed and humbled by her attention.

What a day, what a gift.


Where Have All the Manners Gone?

Can anyone tell me where our manners have gone? When has the following become ok:

  • Talking loudly on one’s cell phone in a public place
  • Constantly interrupting people while they are talking
  • Peppering each and every conversation with “like” and “awesome”
  • Letting one’s children screech and scream and run around in a restaurant like a tribe of mutant howler monkeys
  • Chewing and, good grief, talking with one’s mouth full
  • Coughing or sneezing without covering one’s mouth and nose
  • Not flushing the toilet in a public place (yuck)
  • Not washing one’s hands after being in the bathroom
  • Letting an older person, a pregnant woman or a disabled person stand instead of offering them your seat

…and the list goes on. However odd the above is for today’s “non-manners,” it truely cracked me up when I read that today’s “good manners” also are fiercely opposed to anyone blowing their nose at the table in a restaurant. I can understand if someone has one of those “fog horn” blows that everyone can hear. But seriously: if my own nose is dripping, I will not be running to the ladies’ room to blow my nose. As always, I will be pulling out one of my many cotton handkerchiefs out of my bag and discretely and quietly attending to my nose.

Should someone complain, I will call them out about yapping on their phones. Or letting their child throw peas at me. Or saying that everything in the whole damn world is “awesome.”

For Pete’s sake, I’m a grown woman and it’s my nose. To misquote Forrest Gump: “manners is as manners does.”

An Unexpectedly Soft Winter Day

Here in the Northeast we are famous for loads of ice and snow in winter. Ski resorts are bustling with thousands of skiers and snow boarders, and you can find ice skaters and hockey players on nearly every lake and pond.

Everyone has put away all their summer clothes, and we all trudge around in down coats, scarves, hats, mittens and snow boots. And then there is the winter wind that always finds a way to sneak its icy fingers down our necks and into our boots. Just going out of the house means at least ten minutes or so to bundle up.

But every so often, we get what we call a “soft winter.” That means little snow and ice and unexpectedly warmish days. It’s sort of a gift that you can’t always count on, and for us older folks, a soft winter is a good thing. We worry less about slipping on icy stairs or having to deal with several feet of snow. We worry less about catching a cold, getting frostbite and so on.

Mind you, it’s not an invitation to go outside in your shorts and a t-shirt. When I was in high school, the prevailing “thing” for teens was to walk around in the snow barefoot. Yep, I mean it: barefoot. Although I was generally a slave to fashion in those days, I never once did that. If I had, my parents would have shut me up in the loony bin, saying “we raised you to use your head!

But getting back to our current dry winter, it’s nice to know that I can still walk down to the pond (for now, anyway) if I want to. It’s good to enjoy the day without any extremities freezing and dropping off onto the ground. It’s sort of a spring-like feeling, even though we know that there will eventually be snow and ice.

Who knows: we may get a blizzard tomorrow. But for now, it’s a welcome soft winter day up here in the Northeast.


But For Now, Everything is OK

I think that we are all guilty of imagining the worst when we actually do not know if that something we are worried about will happen. I have wasted hours and days and weeks worrying about things over which I have no control. It’s not only a waste of time, but a waste of our valuable peace of mind.

Case in point. My little black cat, Pookie, has a heart issue which really cannot be fixed. It causes him to have intermitant little seizures where his head bobs and he often falls over on one side or the other. He has fallen down the stairs a few times, but luckily he goes limp and doesn’t hurt himself. It scares the very hell out of me, but he just shakes it off and goes about his business as if nothing happened. He may go days without an episode, or he may have several per day.

We have a wonderful vet who often offers homeopathic remedies for our cats. The ones we are giving Pookie have helped in the past, and they do seem to improve his life. His condition will eventually end his life, and we understand this.

The Crankee Yankee and I have been through this before. We had adopted a wonderful cat we named Pepper, who actually adopted the Crankee Yankee. He ran right up to him and jumped up on his shoulder. Long story short, it turned out that he had feline cardiomyopathy and there is no cure for it. For the nine and a half months we had him, we gave him meds that eased his pain and gave him more energy.

When the time came that he was plainly suffering, we took him to our vet for the last time. Pepper passed on peacefully in our arms, with words of love in his ears.

We know that one of these days we will lose Pookie, and every time I think about it I can’t hold back my tears. He is the sweetest little guy and I can’t help it; he’s my favorite of all our five cats. I keep track of his episodes, and I give him the meds he needs.

Right now my biggest fear is that he will leave us while I am in Hawaii next month. I do so want to be with him when his time comes, but no one can tell when that will come. As I always say in my prayers: he was God’s cat before he was my cat, and when his time comes, he will not be alone. If I can’t be with him to say goodbye, I know that that Crankee Yankee will be there for him.

It’s funny; I even imagine Pookie saying to me, “oh for Heaven’s sake; just go to Hawaii already! We’re all ok here.” So that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t know how long we will have our little guy with us; hopefully it will be a good long time with him feeling good.

There is no sense or reason to worry or imagine the worst scenario; things will happen as they are meant to happen. None of us may know when our own time is up, and animals are far wiser about death that we are. If they could speak to us, they would probably say, “this body no longer serves me.” Would that we humans would take that same approach!

But for now, everything is ok, and that has to be enough.

The Case For Wearing Clean Underwear

I wrote this a few years back, but it bears repeating.


We’ve all heard this from our moms or grand-moms: “Be sure you have on clean (also non-holey, non-stained, non-ratty) underpants just in case you get into an accident!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that, should I get into a serious accident, I will probably void all the orifices in my body–-all at once. So, wouldn’t it be smarter to save those really nice panties for a special non-accident occasion? If I do get into a major accident, the ER folks will probably cut off all my clothes anyway. So why waste my good stuff on people who will probably throw my torn-up clothes into the toxic waste bin?

It’s not like I have a stash of Victoria’s Secret whoopee-wow undies anyway. My short-lived fling with thongs ended decades ago. As a noted female comic once said, “I spend most of my life trying to get my undies OUT of my butt-crack; why on earth would I buy underwear that will end up there on purpose?”

At a certain age, coverage is not only a good thing–it’s a GREAT thing. In fact, as a sidebar to this entry, if I could invent the perfect underwear for me now, it would be a really good bra that starts at my thighs and goes all the way up to my neck.

But back to the whole ‘wear clean underwear just in case’ argument, I really don’t think that the good folks who save lives daily in the ER would blink twice at a pair of hole-y, stained, ratty underpants. Quite frankly, I’d a whole lot rather have them laugh their heads off about the state of my droopy-assed underpants and save my life. In fact, I may have the following phrase tattooed on my back that reads, “Save ME, not my underwear!”

Seriously, people–-let’s prioritize.