flying

I flew Delta from LAX to Minneapolis to Hartford . Red eye special . Good arrival time for my friend to pick me up , except that I got confused on the day . The day I flew in he had a gig and had to pick me up a little later . I waited in an airport bar and had a couple of expensive airport beers ,  local Connecticut stuff .

Now I’m home again . Same flight in reverse , except that this time it wasn’t a red eye .

Three hours in Minneapolis . Coming in from L.A. , I saw snow covering the parking structures outside . On the return trip , two weeks later ,  no snow . The airport is stretched out along endless concourses . Concourses . When do you walk concourses  outside of airports ? Am I missing something ? There are moving sidewalks and a tram .  Endless concourses . Food courts . Shops .  WiFi access .

I had a few mini-bottles of Scotch in my carry-on bag . They’re allowed . My friend Willie told me that last year . He gave me a couple of them to test his statement . No problem .  I showed them to the snoops , thinking that they might confiscate them . No . Willie was right .scotch

To order the same shot of Scotch during the flight would have cost me seven dollars , I think . Drinking one of the bottles during the flight I felt as if I were now out of the red , outsmarting Delta , pushing the envelope . The little bottles cost only 99 cents in Connecticut .  If I had had a few more mini-bottles I’d be sitting pretty , ahead of the game , actually beginning to show a profit . Well , almost   .

I once went from Berlin to London on Ryan Airlines . Ryan , if I remember correctly ,was the airline that seriously considered charging a fee to use the restroom . Nice .I would have gone broke .  I got to the Berlin Airport , Freuninggulingen ……., no Shaeuftshaffen ……. no Sheinifeld ? , Shoenefeld ? , at six in the morning . I had come from Poland by taxi that morning . Got there overly early , as is my way .WWI air ambulance

I was second in line . We were the only two customers to have arrived so early for the flight .  I had one bag to check . There were two conveyor belts moving luggage along : to London  and to  Ankara . I didn’t see the clerk put my lonely bag on the Ankara belt . I should have been watching , I guess . When I got to London I had no clothes . 10 days in England and no  clothes other than what I was wearing . I won’t tell you the whole sad story . My bag met me in London on the 10th day , having , I assume , enjoyed its own vacation in Turkey . We flew back to Berlin together , but we didn’t talk to each other the entire flight .

Another Berlin to London flight on British Airways was exciting after the pilot announced  over the scratchy PA system that he thought the landing gear was stuck . We were going to have to go in on our shiney sleek aluminum belly . The pilot’s voice was almost inaudible and he had a heavy English accent . One of the many . Dorset , maybe . Rs everywhere . Like old movie pirates :  Aarrh , matey ! Wharr yer headin’ ? Shiver me timbers !  Emarrgency vehicles aarrh be preparrhin’ fer arrh landin’  . Aarh.sign el monte airport

The plane was full of Germans . I , a native English speaker , was barely getting what the pilot was saying . I didn’t think that many of the Germans got much of it . But , on the other hand , maybe they had learned English from the English . Good possibility that they understood a lot more than I did , now that I think of it .

When we approached Gatwick , or was it Heathrow ? , the emergency vehicles were lined up along the runway . There were plenty of them : fire trucks , ambulances , police , hearses . Well , maybe not hearses .   I had confidence in the pilot and the plane . I don’t think anyone else in the plane could say the same , judging by their panicked expressions . Those pilots , highly trained ,  could slide it in on its fusilage belly .

Buckle your seat belt ; it’s gonna be a bumpy ride . airplane seat belt

But the landing gear came down and we all rolled to a stop .  Anticlimatic . I’m not complaining .  Billy Bob Thornton said ,” I’m not afraid of flying . I’m afraid of crashing . ”   That about sums it up .

About these English accents :

Ada and I flew from LAX to London once and I had arranged , in advance ,a rental car from the airport . I never sleep on flights and by the time we reached the car rental desk in London I was exhausted . I couldn’t , for the life of me , understand what the English girl at the counter was telling me . It was a Friday . I thought that she was telling me that my car wouldn’t be available until Monday . She wasn’t , of course . She was trying to tell me that my car would be a Mondeo .  I was losing my temper .

” Not Monday !” I said . ” Now “england

Ada had to translate . Mediate . Ada grew up in Poland .

” Tell him…” the English girl would say .

” Tell her ….” I would say .

Oh.  The car is called Mondeo. Nothing about Monday . It’s waiting for us . Oh . O.K. Why didn’t she say so ?mondeo

I don’t mind flying much . Once in awhile . It’s quick once you leave the ground .  Gets you places you might not otherwise go . Somewhat uncomfortable . Never enough leg room . And they always remind you how a seat belt works ; they show you ; give a demonstration . That comes in handy because sometimes , if you haven’t used one in a few hours , you might have forgotten .

Sometimes you should bring along an English-American dictionary , or , at least a phrase book . Several English speakers from various corners of the earth learned English English from the English . Beware .  And consider bringing  some little bottles of booze . If nothing else , it gives you a sense that you’re getting away with something .  Even if you’re not a drinker bring some  —– trade one  for a few more tiny bags of peanuts or pretzels . If you ride Ryan Air , bribe the stewardess to use the head without paying the fee . Endless possibilities . Endless.illustration 3

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around the harbor

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river odra

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wienermobile

weiner wagon 2   There was vacant land next to my elementary school way back last century  when I was in primary school .  (   Or was it Grammar school ? My friend Joe and I had a discussion about the use of those terms : elementary vs. primary vs. grammar school . )  A Hughes Market grocery store was built there . Now it’s a Ralph’s Market . Most of the space , or half of it at least , is now the parking lot , of course .  But that’s irrelevant to my story , so let’s get on with it .

Another random memory ,  emerging now  from my brain bunker  where I keep them  , uncatalogued , forgotten for decades , came back to light suddenly . I had gone to Berlin , saw a wurst stand , and began , I guess , to ponder wieners ( The name comes from Vienna , by the way , I hear ) . Unknown things trigger memories sometimes . We’ll just leave it at that . I can’t better explain why the memory came  . Doesn’t matter .

Anyway :

One day the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile pulled up and parked on the vacant land next to the school .  The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile ,  a 1930’s idea of one of the Mayers , was a vehicle shaped like a giant hotdog in a bun .  It was driven by   ” Little Oscar” , who  was a little person dressed in a chef’s outfit , traditional high chef’s hat and all .  The nuns ( Corpus Christi Catholic Elementary School  ) took the entire school out to see the Wienermobile .  Why ? How that happened ?  Your guess is as good as mine . Stranger things have happened , I guess . Perhaps . Wienermobile 6

Well , this event was memorable . Who knew there was such a thing ? Who knew that hot dogs were cooked by little happy chefs in high hats ? Who knew ?

When I was a kid I didn’t know much about the world ( Same holds  true now — a little less so ) . From time to time little bits of it would show themselves , surprising things , good or bad things . The Wienermobile was one of the oddest things to come along . Now that I think of it , it’s still an odd piece of the reality puzzle . I know that there are odder things ;  but for a seven-year-old , a Wienermobile with a small chef inside with wiener whistles  for everyone —- that was something !

Yeah , to top it all off , Little Oscar handed out little plastic wiener whistles to every student and we all whistled like crazy out there in the open ,  and then we got to play with the silly things  for a few minutes back in the classroom .   Amazing ! weiner whistle

Wiener whistles are available on eBay . Get a vintage one for $ 3.75 !

There are , evidently , eight Weinermobiles  still in operation . The drivers , recruited from the ranks of college students , are called hotdoggers . A hotdogger blog hides on the world wide web , telling of hotdogger exploits .

I had forgotten all about that old Wienermobile and my wiener whistle ( which probably broke that same day ) , and Little Oscar the happy hot dog chef .  I never missed them , I have to  say ; but ,  it made a nice break  in  that long-ago day  from reading , writing , and arithmetic . weiner wagon chef

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day in berlin

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seabourn legend

The Seabourn Legend docked here at the wharf for a day .  Shuttle busses took the passengers somewhere around town .They saw what they saw .

In the late afternoon the ship sounded a horn . It was leaving . The horn sounded again , a loud deep-toned noise : ” We’re leaving !”

Were you really here , or was it just an illusion ? Did the world change ?  Seabourn Legend ?  A  pretentious name , but  nevertheless  a magnificent vessel  .

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a quieter time

Poland park milena and felek 013     When I was a kid a photographer  used to come to our neighborhood every year with a pony . The idea was to let  kids  sit on the pony and their mommies  would pay to have  a picture taken . There is a picture somewhere of me and my brothers and sisters and a pony on our front lawn . I don’t remember who was up in the saddle . Maybe we all got to take turns , but then , ultimately , one of us is up there forever when the camera shutter snapped . Horse (willie n on city photography horse)

I was reminded of this recently because a friend of mine who is my age posted a picture of himself in New York City up on the back of a pony . I was on the other side of the country at the time .  Maybe by the time his pony picture was taken our pony-photographer had quit . At some point in time he never came around again .

The Fuller Brush man kept coming  around every year , though  . He had a box of brushes and combs .  My mother felt sorry for him and always bought some small item  . It usually seemed to be  a plastic comb , a big white plastic comb. Those combs lasted forever , too , even when you managed to somehow melt the end of them  . There were six of us kids running around the house , so I suppose one of us found a way to melt the end of the Fuller Brush big white  plastic comb . But the thing  was still around for decades , brown melted end and all .

My family  had a plastic pitcher-type thing with a melted- away edge , too .  It was always on the corner of the bathtub so we could use it to pour water over our heads to rinse our hair and wash our backs . I think that one of my sisters has it now and is still using it . That gives it a half-life of about a million years . It may be around long after the  upcoming  nuclear winter ;  the surviving cockroaches will be wondering , no doubt , what they should  do with it .boy 1912 with a hoe

At the risk of sounding like an old guy [I hear Ada saying : You are  an old guy . My friend Ivan , my age too ,  calls the two of us old grey monkeys .  ] ,  I will suggest that life was  simpler when I was a kid . I’m not sure that I had the same perception  when  I was that kid ; but , as an old grey monkey ,  I want to believe for the moment that life was simple then . Let me have that silly thought for a few moments , please . You can share it if you like , if only for a few moments . We could call our short pause from more rational thought a pit stop . Soon enough  we’ll all zoom back  onto the  track  and   into the race  again .
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Jacob’s Fair

Originally posted on HenAgain:

FAIR Szczecin 2014 111

FAIR Szczecin 2014 127I love fairs . Maybe this feeling goes back to when I was a small kid and I won a half pound of bacon at the church fair . It happened at the Fishing Booth . At the Fishing Booth we kids would hand over a ticket or two and get a pole and a bit of line with a big harmless hook on the end . The idea was to hang the hook over a sheet painted with fish an seaweed and water and wait for a fish to “bite” . Something  great would be attached to the hook by unseen hands .

I was probably five , or six , or seven at the time . I waited excitedly for my fish . Everyone eventually caught a fish . They were all different . Surprises .  When mine struck it was a big one , a whopper !…

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