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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he’s okay

I mentioned in a former post the boyfriend of a friend of ours . She made him out to be some sort of a disagreeable , unfriendly , opinionated jerk . Ada and I had a chance to meet him for the first time last night .

Well , he does seem to be opinionated . I can tolerate opinionated people . If I were to eliminate opinionated people from my list of friends the list would become extremely short . Let’s change opinionated to passionate and go on from there .

Otherwise this man was exceedingly friendly and likeable . He had a good sense of humor . His girlfriend did try to rib him and irritate him and knock him around a bit for such things as being stingy and for driving too slowly on the freeway , but he took it well enough , countering her criticisms with determination but grace .

I don’t mean to be taking sides . I just met the guy once . Maybe underneath a kindly first impression he is a monster more along the lines she had originally described . But I’ve found that first impressions usually hold up pretty well .

Ada thought that I should write all of this in my blog .

We had dinner with this couple and another couple last night . Everything was outdoors and we kept some distance apart . It wasn’t quite six feet , as constantly recommended , but it was close . Still , I was a little nervous. The conversation was good and the evening was very enjoyable .

There was a married couple there who we also met for the first time . He brought some home-made sour dough bread . I hate to admit it but his bread I’d say was better than any bread I’ve ever made , and I make good bread . I was impressed . He also makes beer , which I have done a couple of times long ago . His beer is probably better than any I’ve made , too . The only ones willing to sample my home-made beer were a particular beer-drinking friend of mine and my mother . Everyone else worried about being suddenly struck blind , I guess , or developing some fatal intestinal ailment .

I did stick a hot red pepper into some of the bottles of my beer , however . That one version of my brew even I warned people about . It heated up the beer to a dangerous level . A Guatemalan friend gave me the original peppers long ago. He smuggled them in from the home country . I planted them and have a few plants that produce loads of the little red demon peppers every year . They’re too hot for ordinary humans to use even in a minute amount , but they’re fun to grow .

I had one colleague years ago at school who used them in his cooking . Didn’t seem to bother him , so I used to give him as many as he wanted . He was the only one , however . Even the spicy-food-loving people knew better than to get involved with these little guys .

The Guatemalan guy called them ” dog tooth ” peppers . He had no other name for them. People often claim to know this variety of pepper when I describe it to them , but I’m pretty sure that they really don’t . Yeah , there are other deadly hot red peppers out there , but they pale in comparison to this one . Pale !

What does this have to do with the potentially monstrous boyfriend mentioned at the beginning of this post ? Oh , you thought I was just beginning to mentally wander off ? I think that I have an answer that should tie it all together :

Sometimes we think things are worse than they are before we meet them ……… No , that’s not it !

Don’t be jealous if somebody does something better than you do ( the bread thing ) , but be thankful that you were able to learn of this mysterious occurence and enjoy it —– No , that’s not it either. Definitely not .

You might bake better bread than mine , but my red peppers are hotter . No , that’s just useless sel-absorbed envy emanating from a dark blog place .

The guy’s okay . I suppose had the girlfriend praised him to the high heavens beforehand the real man might have been a bit of a letdown .

No , no . I guess I was just rambling after all . If there’s a unifying theme to all of this it may come to me later . Please , meanwhile , go about your business .

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papaya

papaya: a tropical fruit xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and small black seeds .

I found a strange plant growing in my garden . I decided to let it grow at least until I could recognize it as something I might not want . Some surprises are good. Things show up sometimes , come in with the compost I spread around , a homemade compost so who knows what is included in it as time goes along.

My friend Tom was around last week . Tom is one of those people who checks out everything in the yard ( or the house , before the pandemic ; now he’s not allowed in . ) right away , as if he’s casing the joint for a planned caper later or maybe he’s a government agent scoping the place out for any unreported code violations , or as if he’s part of the Secret Service advance team anticipating a Presidential visit .

” So , how long have you had the papaya plant ? ” he said . Maybe it was a trick question.

” Not too long ,” I said . “It just showed up one day . “

You see , I quickly put two and two together and figured he was asking about that strange plant that I had recently noticed . Really I had spotted another one too . Both were in pots where I had planted grape cuttings . Since the day Tom came over I have also spotted two more papayas . I put one into the ground.

Oh , I should mention that I went over to Armstrong Nursery the next day to check out their papaya plants. Yeah , Tom was absolutely correct . They are papayas that I’ve got growing . How they got there I don’t know. Ada and I must have eaten a papaya somewhere along the way and I put the remains of it in the compost pile . I don’t think anyone came in and snuck papaya seeds into my compost bin , but one never knows for sure .

” Birds ,” various people suggested when I related the story . ” Could be birds.” Yeah , could be birds . I don’t dwell on the idea , a common idea , too much . Do the birds poop the seeds directly into the compost ? —- certainly not directly into the flower pots . Do they carry them in their beaks and deliver them that way ? Where do they get papaya seeds in the first place ?

Birds ?

Maybe squirrels . We’ve got a squirrel nest in the California Oak tree . There’s a squirrel up there who stole almost all of my apricots . I saw him one day sitting up there high in the tree ; he was click-cackling in the way they do , with a nice juicy apricot in his mouth . Squirrels might dump papaya seeds around the yard just to be mischievious . I use the word mischievious in order to not use the nastier words I might should use but that will remain circling around in my brain .

Squirrels .

I think birds too often take the rap for those sneaky squirrels . Get my gun !

Oh , I don’t have a gun , truth be told . No , Obama didn’t take it away . Those lousy radical liberals don’t congregate around my front porch trying to violate my second amendment rights either , as far as I know . I better go out and get a shooting iron ( or two , or several ! ) before the New York federal prosecutor puts the NRA out of business and all of the guns in the country disappear . I’ve been reading about it in the paper .

If I had a gun it wouldn’t have to be a civilian version of a military weapon . I don’t feel an urgent need to protect myself from the coming onslaught by an uncontrolled government and I don’t need to feel macho or invincible carrying such a deadly thing around . I don’t even feel a need to prepare for a host of oncoming criminals . They already stole my baseball mitt from my car decades ago , so what else is left to take ? The TV ? It’s theirs if they want to haul that old thing away . They could take Ada’s shoes if they have a way to get all of them out . They could take my hats . That’d be doing me a favor . Same with the Hawaiian shirts . I’d hate to see them go , but it would be a new start . An unavoidable forced change to get us out of a rut . Maybe ?

I just might give that marauding squirrel a blast or two , however. The neighbors would probably think that they’d heard a car backfiring . Do cars do that anymore ? Nah , on the other hand , I’m way too cheap to spend the money on a good gun just to rub out a squirrel . And I hear the price of bullets has gone way up , too. And besides , it’s probably illegal to murder squirrels in this neck of the woods.

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pagan babies revisited

I once wrote a blog post about my memories of the grammar school I attended and the odd pehenomenon of collecting money for Pagan Babies . There was a little collection box sent from the archdiocese and classes collected nickels and dimes on a voluntary basis until we had five dollars . At five dollars the box was sent in to help ” the pagans ” and the class got to name a pagan baby .

I have to say that was pretty good motivation for us kids . The five dollar goal was within reach week by week and the idea of the class coming up with a name for a nameless pagan baby was somehow irresistible .

The fact that we only had vague notions and foolish notions of what a pagan was was irrelevant . We spent a few minutes as a class coming up with a name . The boys usually tried to suggest the most stupid name that we could and we took childish evil glee in imagining some poor kid somewhere in the world wandering around with that outrageous name . The girls in the class always seemed to suggest reasonable names . Girls at that age are of course more emotionally developed than are boys . But there were more boys in the class .

When I reflect on that whole strange Pagan Baby phenomenon at the Catholic school I realize just how odd it was . It was an effective way, I suppose , to collect some money . The underlying motivation , even though we kids mostly depreciated it , was a good one , ie. charity toward the underprivileged . Maybe some of that well-intentioned lesson got through to us . I doubt whether much if any of that collected money made it very far past the Archdiocese strongbox and I’m pretty sure no poor pagan has gone through life with any of the peculiar names we boys chose for them .

Anyway.

I wrote that Pagan Baby post several years ago about something that happened over fifty years ago. Over the years I’ve got thoughtful comments from fellow Catholic school people who went through the same experience and who offered their thoughts and feelings about the whole thing . A priest or two also commented and , of course , a few people who were previously unaware of such an oddity were to various degrees amazed that such a thing had happened .

Yes , but stranger things have happened . We all lived through the experience , had our own individual reactions to it and our own inimitable reflections , and mostly seem to have survived intact . Of course I am surmising since I haven’t followed up on all of my classmates from those days . If any of their lives were inexorably twisted due to the Pagan Baby experience , I’ll never know .

Anyway.

Today I actually got a comment on that Pagan Baby post from a pagan . Or , should I say , I got a comment on that Pagan Baby post from an actual pagan . She wasn’t happy about it . Not at all . The first sentence of the comment went after me , right off the bat , for being way off base. I suspect that she is ignoring a time gap of about fifty or sixty years and somehow seems to have lost her space on the board . She took the Pagan Baby thing personally and suddenly I seem to be representing the Catholic Church . She listed a few areas of that faith with which she , as a pagan , disagreed . I could sense the outrage in her words.

Hey , I write this blog to have a little fun. It’s mostly light -hearted stuff meant to entertain and not to offend . I sent the pagan’s comment directly to spam . Maybe I shouldn’t have done that , but I’m not a willing sparing partner for anybody who has a life issue that needs to be punched around .

And , besides , this pagan has a beautiful name . She wasn’t one of ours .

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goose

I’ve been distracted lately by the everpresent Covid-19 pandemic news . Maybe you’ve noticed too.

A friend of ours says that she intentionally doesn’t pay any attention to the news for the last few months because of this virus . The trouble , in my opinion , is that she seems to be particularily anxious because of it , bordering I’d say on paranoia .

I was talking to another friend who lives up in Portland , Oregon . We were discussing recent events downtown up there . He says that his wife is angered by recent news . Yeah , me too , I guess , but not so much that my blood pressure is affected or that I need to punch a wall . Not quite so much that steam shoots out of my ears . Not so much that my eyes pop out ahead of my face like used to happen in cartoons .

We’re waiting to meet the boyfriend of a friend of ours . She paints a somewhat surprising portrait of him : arrogant , macho , self-centered , generally unfriendly . Wow ! I can hardly wait . With those attributes and if he loves Trump then I don’t want to meet him , I told her .That’s where I draw the line . I already have my limit of Trump -cult friends . I don’t need any more .

No , he’s not , Ada said , but he’s a Republican . I don’t mind Republicans , I said . You see , as Will Rogers said , I’m not a member of any organized political party ; I’m a Democrat .

Not that the Democrats are much better than the Republicans . I don’t think that the country slides along much these days based on whether it’s more controlled by one party or the other . We’re all manipulated to be polarized and passionately ignorant and dismissive and often hateful of “the other”.

I suspect a few rich fat cats run the show . Nothing new there ; but it’s getting much worse every year . Their armies of lobbyists and mounting mountains of money are the real influencers . Politicians are the fronts and the rest of us yell and scream or cower in the corners as the multi-national corporations and the billionaires call the shots .

Now , don’t get me wrong. I haven’t analysed all of this to any extent. I just try to observe and to use my own limited and inimical intelligence to come up with theories about how the world works .

You can’t let it drive you crazy .

I’ll let you know when I have the exact truth about the complete ins and outs of the whole shooting match . There’s plenty of evidence available that should be collected . It’s an important intellectual exercise ; but if you’re one of those who ignore it all and just go about your lives , I say all power to you !

But , as for me , I’m a history guy and I’m curious how the history of the world is getting along . I’ve got to pay attention ( within reason ) so that I know what I’m supposed to fear and who I’m supposed to hate . I’d better get busy . I just heard that somebody on the internet has something infuriating to say !

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photo hodge podge for Sunday

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some snapshots

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Signs — The Coming of the Toads

No Vacancy Next Exit Yield Yellow Curves Ahead Jesus Saves 20 is Plenty Men Working Wrong Way Slow Down Beach Turnout R R Trucks Surf’s Up No U-Turn Warning Coming Merge Living Together Dinosaur Crossing Strong Odor Theatre No Syntax Call Mother Footnotes Wait Here Boiler Room Home Economics Pool Skid Row Lemonade Hardware Look […]

Signs — The Coming of the Toads

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