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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Memorial Day


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Trails opened up in the local mountains . Hoards of people roamed around . Ada and I took a hike and we encountered more hikers on the trail than we have ever seen on these trails . Ever. Pent-up people want to get out . Some of them wore masks . All of them moved aside as we passed , keeping social distancing .

Of course my mind began to wander ahead of my legs . I remembered something from Mother of Good Council School when I was teaching there . That was a long time ago . Centuries ago.

Mrs . Cotti one day offered me a compliment . You’ve done a wonderful job teaching our daughter this year , she said . Now , you should know that the Cotti’s were not my favorite set of parents . Long story .

Let me just give you one example of what I mean . The school had a neighborhood fair each year to raise money. It was usually fun and popular. As I remember a carnival company was hired , and beer companies set up booths , and there were also several home-made booths manned by students , their parents , and other volunteers . You , know : a goldfish booth and a face-painting booth and a baked goods booth . That kind of thing .

I knew a man who used to have a pin-ball arcade and who , after he closed it down , had several pin-ball machines stored away. I asked him if he would be willing to donate some pin-ball machines for a few days for a booth at the carnival. Sure , he said . I set it up with the school fair committee and it all looked good to go .

The pin-ball booth was busy all the time during the fair . I think we had eight machines . It quickly became apparent , however , that this would not be a big money-maker . A kid would put a quarter into the slot and play , and some would play and play and play on that one quarter . They were having fun and the fact that not much money would be made was okay . It was all donated and volunteered and was no cost to the fair . I tried to be there all day to supervise my friend’s pin-ball machines . It all went smoothly . Lots of kids still loved pin-ball.

Collected money was supposed to be sent to a central location every hour and I designated someone to walk the money over to the fair committee each hour. I sent what we had but it was not as much as had been earlier expected .

Mr. Cotti was on the committee . Sometime in the afternoon the person transporting the money from our booth to the committee reported to me that Cotti had mentioned that not enough money was being received from our booth and Cotti had suggested aloud that I had maybe been keeping some for myself .

Okay. Maybe it was a joke , but if you knew the Cottis like I knew the Cottis ……….. I wonder to this day if it was a joke or not , but even if it were a joke it was inapropriate to say such a thing . I figure he was about 40% joking and 60% serious . Anyway , it made me mad .

Remember , these rambling memories are swirling around in my head as I’m hiking along . What triggers them ? Why this particular memory at this time ? Maybe a smell in the air or the flash of something in the corner of my eye or a certain faint sound reminds me somehow of that day at the fair . Maybe I had dreamt something that sparked a memory . Ah , I don’t have to explore the phenomenon any further . It happens to all of us . Doesn’t really matter what triggered it . Analysis saved for another day .

So , back to Mrs. Cotti’s compliment . I was teaching her daughter at the time . The girl was smart and a good student , motivated and interested in learning . I had had their son a couple of years before . He was , shall we say and I’ll leave it at that , not so motivated .

When she said , ” You’re really doing a good job this year with our daughter ,” I was surprised . Maybe the woman wasn’t so bad after all !

And then , of course , she lowered the boom . The next sentence that slid immediately out of her mouth was : ” Not like with our son . ” Ah , fine counterpoint ! Good move , Mrs. Cotti .

Instantly the world’s balance was restored . Everything fit in place .

I looked out over the tree -filled valley , up along the evergreen mountain slopes with their fallen decaying logs and rock formations . There was a clear blue sky . Not a pin-ball machine in sight .


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blursday photos

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I’ve been trying to find baking yeast in the local grocery markets . A couple of weeks ago one of them had yeast , so I bought three packets . I was sure that by the time I used that up they would have re-stocked.

Wrong .

Since then no place has had yeast . I went on- line —- because that’s what people do these days —- and I found yeast . As much yeast as I might want . It was a little more expensive , and a lot more expensive after I pay shipping costs ; so , being the cheapskate that I am , I didn’t buy it . Oh , and most of it wouldn’t be available until mid-June .

So I figured the local stores would re-stock yeast at least by mid-June , that there must be some supply-chain problem in the baker’s yeast world , specific details of which I am ignorant , and that I could wait . Meanwhile , there are baking soda alternatives , such as buttermilk biscuits , and I began a sour dough starter . Sour dough starter if done correctly becomes it’s own batch of yeast . You have to like the sour taste , though .

The world doesn’t end because the stores don’t got no yeast . ( I think Yogi Berra said that . Maybe it was Bertrand Russell . )

Then a friend of mine whose wife bakes bread ( She uses a bread machine , but I forgive her in this time of pandemic .) called me and said that they had five pounds of yeast and , knowing that I bake bread , asked if would I like some . Five pounds of yeast ?

They found a local restaurant that was in economic trouble due to the coronavirus shutdowns and that needed to sell the yeast that they had and weren’t going to use . So , ignoring for the moment the implications of benefiting from the misery of others , my friends got yeast and had so much that they would give me some .

This happened a day or so after another friend of mine told me that she had ten pounds of flour that I could have . What would I do with it ? , she said . She doesn’t make bread . She had no other use for it . Why she had bought it remains a mystery but that didn’t interfere with my arrangement with her to take the ten pounds of flour off of her hands .

Actually , I didn’t need her flour . One local store still had plenty of flour even though the others don’t . It’s all bleached white flour . That’s not good for making sour dough starter . For that you need unbleached , or rye flour , or other currently unavailable flours .

So I asked my friend about her ten pounds of flour . ” Is it unbleached ? “

” Yes , I think it is .”

I felt like the winner of the lottery . I could make my sour dough starter ! But , in the end , all of the ten pounds of flour was bleached flour .

My yeast supplier friend brought me a generous share of his yeast . With it he had also brought along a small bag of unbleached flour and a larger bag of bleached flour . His wife had bought a lot of flour from a supermarket bakery that has closed down due to the current time of pestilence .

California’s a garden of eden ,

It’s a paradise to visit or to see ,

But believe it or not , you won’t find it so hot ,

if you ain’t got the dough , unbleached , or yeast .

Now I’m ready to bake some bread . French bread first . When the sour dough starter is ready and if it works and when I bake sour dough bread I am obligated to let the ten- pounds -of- flour- donor friend of mine have a loaf. That’s fair . That’s the deal .

So it seems in a time of crisis we can get by easier if we can rely on our friends . That’ my great insight for today . Maybe I should hone and shape it a little but I’ve never been a good philosopher , so I’ll just leave it there for now.

Stay safe .


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some old vehicles

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The corona virus has killed more Americans than American soldiers killed in Vietnam .


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