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A Closer Look

Something was wrong with the outlet adapter. My curling iron blinked when I turned it on but wouldn’t heat up. Feeling befuddled from lack of sleep, I grumbled and fussed until my daughter plugged it into a different outlet, where it did work, but didn’t have a mirror near-by.

Getting out of the wrong side of the bed can happen even while on vacation. With our five-a.m. wake-up call, I’d only had five hours of sleep. Then, instead of taking a speed train to Lourdes in southern France today, as we’d originally planned, we were riding a bus. The French train workers were on strike.

Beneath all these aggravations, was the niggling, pinching, chafing realization that today would have been my 48th wedding anniversary if my husband, Arnie were alive. I felt sad and, in a way, abandoned.

Our early morning wake-up call was not only to avoid the morning commuter traffic in Paris, but because it would take our bus longer than the train to get to Lourdes. I picked up a boxed breakfast and a cup of coffee from the hotel lobby, trying not to spill or drop either as I took my seat on the tour bus. Continue reading

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Striking Contrasts

Strong gusts of wind swirled clouds of ice crystals over the crest of a huge drift between my house and garage. I stood at the staircase window, watching and waiting. This unexpected spring blizzard had already raged for nearly 48 hours. Surely it would end soon. As I watched, the day’s light slowly began to fade. Shielded by cold, gray clouds, our warm, bright sun was dropping behind the horizon.

My daughter Tammie stepped up alongside me and commented, “It looks like it’s still snowing.”

Nodding, I answered, “The weather report is that the storm will end this evening. Anyway, I’ve noticed the wind usually settles down after the sun sets. I hope the man who plows my yard will be able to come then.”

My daughter and I needed to be at Chicago’s O’Hare airport tomorrow to take a flight to Europe. It had been good luck and a quick, last-minute decision that allowed Tammie, who lives in the Twin Cities, to arrive at my house just as the blizzard began two days ago. We’d been snowbound ever since. Continue reading

Closing Door

Rain pelted down onto my car’s windshield. I leaned forward and stared at the rivulets of water. Were there a few ice crystals in some of those drops? I pulled out my phone and texted my daughter Tammie, “It’s started raining here already. My car’s thermometer shows that it is 35 degrees. Are you still planning to drive home tomorrow?”

All morning as I did my errands, I stopped often to text my daughter updates on the weather. “It stopped raining.” Then, “The rain has started up again.” Later, “I saw a few ice crystals in the falling rain.” I’m not usually so preoccupied with the weather, but the weather service had reported a large spring snow storm moving through the Mid-West for the last two days. Both my home and my daughter’s were in the center of its path!

Having a huge storm approach Wisconsin doesn’t usually bother me, but this time I had something important to do and didn’t want the weather to get in the way. My daughter and I were planning to leave for vacation in France, Spain and Portugal on Monday. But first Tammie needed to drive the three hours from her home to mine. She planned to do it on Saturday afternoon. I was worried that the storm would make the roads too bad by then.    Continue reading

Too Much

My belly rumbled as I picked up the restaurant’s menu. Ordinarily, I enjoyed eating out, but today when I scanned the meals listed, nothing excited me. The menu was filled with bright pictures of juicy hamburgers, steaks, chicken, soups and eleven different kinds of sandwiches. It even offered all day breakfast meals, so the problem wasn’t a lack of dietary variety.

Arnie and I had been on vacation for the past week. Every single meal since leaving home was at a restaurant. When we left home I’d thought eating out all week would be like a dream come true. There would be no meals to cook, nor dishes for me to wash. All I had to do was lean back and enjoy myself.

The first thing I discovered was my dear husband had turned into a dietary camel sometime during the previous twenty years since our wedding vows. He loved to eat huge breakfasts early in the mornings, but then didn’t want to stop to eat anything else until six or seven in the evening. I, on the other hand, like to graze for most of the day. I needed at least a bowl of soup or fruit every four hours. I ended up furtively snacking on candy bars to keep from passing out.  Continue reading

Hot Fishing Spot

Sweat dripped off my face as I carried my suitcase from the bedroom to the entryway. Putting it down, I said to my daughter sitting at the dining room table, “The name and the telephone number of the fishing resort where we’ll be staying is on the table.

Fanning herself, Tammie sighed, “Don’t worry Mom. I’ll be fine. I just hope it’s cooler in Canada for you and Daddy.”

Stepping out onto the back deck, I watched my husband tighten the trailer straps holding our boat down. Heat radiated up from the wooden deck boards, making my feet uncomfortably hot. Arnie glanced over at me and said, “Thelma and Gene will be here soon. Bring our suitcases out and put them in the truck.”

Shaking my head wearily, I said, “It’s 100 degrees today. I’m leaving them in the house until we’re absolutely ready to drive away so our toiletries don’t get cooked and ruined!” Continue reading

Say Cheese

My daughter Tammie and I rushed from the moment our alarm clock went off, until the moment we completed the airport’s check-in and security requirements. After collecting our freshly x-rayed purses and carry-ons, we dropped down onto a nearby bench. A young man, woman and small child who had been churned out of the bureaucratic mill right behind us, stopped to take a selfie. They crowded together as the man held the camera phone out, giving the instruction, “Say, Cheese!”

Glancing around, I noticed this part of the airport looked more like a shopping mall. The lighting was dimmer and small stores lined the halls. Scrutinizing the wares, Tammie asked, “We have plenty of time before boarding. Would you like to shop around a little?”

I said, “Sure! I’ll get a magazine to read while waiting and when we’re on the airplane.”

In the excitement of our busy morning and our perusal of all things touristy, my daughter and I entirely forgot about eating breakfast or dinner. As our boarding time approached, I complained, “We won’t be getting food on the airplane and now I feel hungry. Our airplane doesn’t arrive in North Carolina until six this evening.”

After a stop at Starbucks for tea and coffee, Tammie said, “I saw a deli shop near here. Stay with our carry-ons and I’ll go see what I can buy. Moments later she returned with a 10-ounce cup filled with cubes of cheese. I savored the dairy product’s creamy texture between sips of tea. It was just what I needed, not too heavy, but filling. Continue reading

Off the Farm

Our airplane, dropping from cruising altitude, not only made me woozy, but caused my ears to pop. Each painful altitude adjustment dramatically lowered my ability to hear. Strange, crackly static from above my seat made me aware that an announcement was imminent.

In a smooth, suave voice, a way of speaking that I am positive is practiced in flight training, our pilot silkily purred, “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. We will be landing soon, but…”

“POP!” My left ear drum changed so painfully that it felt like someone had jammed a hot needle into it. Cupping a hand over that ear and grimacing, I turned to my travel-companion-daughter and asked quietly, aware that hard-of-hearing people tend to shout, “What did he say?”

Tammie gave me a concerned look and dug around in the seat pocket. Finding a barf bag, she handed it to me and said, “There’s debris on the runway. It has to be cleaned up before we can land.”

I indistinctly heard her words in the background of the noises my ears were making, “Click! Snap, crackle!” What she said sounded like, “There’s pee on the runway and someone is throwing up.” Continue reading