The Friendlier Skies

I recently traveled from Maryland to Portland, OR, to see my daughter. This was my first big trip (though not a long trip) since 2019. I was prepared for traveling skills to have atrophied–traveling skills too— but to my pleasant surprise, I did OK.

Packed enough but not too much, and brought the right stuff for Portland’s weather. I remembered all the necessary medications, power cords, and toiletries. Got through airport everything without setting off alarms or being paged to return to my vehicle. Had the right stuff–parking chit, rental car contract, driver’s license, hotel room key–at the right time, even though my computer died the morning of departure (and has subsequently self-revived… go fig).

So I’m pretty pleased with that aspect of the adventure. Even better, I got to see Beloved Offspring, meet her Sig O, meet her pony (she called him my grand-pony. I maintained a diplomatic silence), and had some Good Talks ‘Bout Family Stuff. Nobody knows me the way my daughter does. Nobody extant has lived with me as long as she has. I delight in her company.

And–be still my thumpin’ tail–as an unlooked for joy, my younger brother just happened to be driving clear across Oregon to see the state-wide high school cross country meet, and we managed to connect for lunch. That was so special I could just about do nip-ups.

What wasn’t so special was the actual air travel. My reading light did not work (in business class, because all those old unused miles…). The guy next to me could not get his seat back to remain upright. The wi-fi on the plane coming home was “intermittent,” meaning worthless. The food was ridiculous. The plane had no seat-back screens. Everything was “download the app,” and I consider most apps to be commercial spyware, so nopity-nope. The PA system for the pilots broadcast mostly static.

Three years ago, I would probably have been annoyed, or filled out some survey with a lot of cranky comments (writers gonna write), or said something to the flight crew. Now? I am just so happy the planes are flying, so happy I could see my kid, so happy the hotel was open and the sheets were clean… My standards have come down and my joy has gone up. I tipped like a boss, thanked everybody at the airports, hotel, and restaurants, and still just want to hug the world because I got to see my daughter, and I’m home safe and sound.

My joy has gone up , and so has my hope. Maybe I can pop out to Portland again next spring and stay for more than a couple days. Then too, it takes me no longer to fly to Scotland than it does to fly to Oregon…

I don’t like traveling in a plane that’s getting rickety in the details, but I’m no longer concerned with amenities when the main priority–safe travel–is attended to. I took for granted that I could always just hop in a plane and go see family, and I will never take that for granted again.

What aren’t you taking for granted these days? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of Yuletide Gems!


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25 comments on “The Friendlier Skies

  1. Family and Friends.
    We are having a much smaller Thanksgiving celebration this year due to our kitchen renovation. My house is full of boxes, back yard is a construction zone and the kitchen wall will be demolished in December. Daughter is eating with SO family, friend is eating with another group of friends but one friend has no one. So, he’s coming here…because he is family. I didn’t realize how important spending time here at the holidays was to him.

    I am glad you were able to visit your daughter!! And brother!!
    Have a good week.

    • My mom used to say that if you made people feel welcome and included, it didn’t matter if you served peanut butter and celery with Saltines. I think she’s right. Here’s wishing you best of luck with the renovation. Not for the faint of heart!

  2. I no longer take for granted my mobility and the ability to live independently. I have had a rough year health wise. Long Covid & a collapsed lung that put me in the hospital for 4 days with a chest tube and heavy drugs. I am still not back to where I was but I am taking restorative yoga and am hopeful.

    I also have a new grand baby who I hope to get to know even though I have to fly across country to do so. Opposite from Grace I go from Phoenix to Alexandria.

    • Oh, lordy… sorry you were laid low, Sue. Hospitals are a tribulation on a good days. I’ve had long COVID for the past year, and I cannot image how a collapse lung complicates that misery. Next year HAS to be better, right?

  3. I no longer take for granted being able to safely gather with family for the holidays. Two years ago we did manage to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with immediate family, sort of. We set up separate tables for each family unit in the family room, had an air purifier and ceiling fan running, the doors to the outside open and the heat cranked. This year, fingers crossed no one tests positive, we will gather at the dining room table, cheek by jowl, and loving every minute! Have a happy and safe holiday season everyone!

    • I wonder how many families are in the same boat–with some missed holidays in recent years, or some holidays that were off-kilter. How many families will be missing a loved one thanks to stinkin’ COVID… I am so lucky that my family held a reunion just a few months before chaos descended. Glad you are reinstating the full celebration, and I KNOW the food will be terrific!

  4. I no longer take for granted my ability to access medical care (acute shortages in my area) or the people willing to drive an hour in times of plague to make emergency runs to doctors or haul me to & from surgeries. I have no living family & realize exactly how vulnerable I am now the old systems have collapsed.

    • I’m just a few counties from DC and Baltimore, but it’s the same thing: You cannot find a primary care practice that will take new patients. Specialist appointments take months, if you can get them. We have the most expensive and most profitable health care in the developed world with some of the worst patient outcomes. What’s wrong with that picture, and how in blazes do we fix it?

  5. I am so happy for you that you got to visit with family. It means so much.

    I have a lot of worries but none too huge. I would say that I don’t take my car’s reliability for granted, and will only take it to work and back. (less than 5 miles one way) It has had major work twice in the last 6 months, and it stranded me on the road once.

    • Yikes… I don’t like the sound of that stranded business!
      I’m always a little annoyed when I read articles about how we should all be on e-bikes, and walking more… The theory makes sense, but it’s ten miles to the nearest grocery store, fifteen to one that actually has most of what you need reliably stocked. Doctor is twenty miles, nearest Barnes and Noble 25 miles.
      If my wheels gave out, I’d be in a quite fix too. This is not Uber or Lyft territory and nobody delivers groceries around here either.
      I guess we take care of the wheels we have as best we can?

  6. I can honestly say I don’t have a grand-pony but I do have a grand-cat and 2 grand-rats. If it makes the kids happy I guess. Like you I don’t take the ability to travel for granted. A couple months ago, my father had one of several surgeries and I went to help out. I was very lucky to find a rental car at the Atlanta airport. The rental garage was mostly empty.

    I also no longer take for granted that groceries won’t jump price wise between weekly shopping.

    • I guess the rentals were all just to valuable to keep in inventory?
      Portland was stocked OK, but I passed through on a quiet weekend. I’m sure around the holidays rentals will be at a premium. Glad you were able to locate wheels!

  7. I do not take for granted that there are real people cashiers in stores to check me out when I have a cart full of items – instead of having to use the self-checkout scanners. So few workers were at the big W store the other day that there was only one poor soul working as cashier. I was the last in line, and the young woman left her register, and came to tell me to tell anyone who came after me that she was closing after me and that they would have to go to self-checkout. When it was my turn to be checked out, I thanked her for being there for me and asked why there were not more workers checking out customers. She replied that a lot of folks have quit (due to rude customers) and the school people (I assume young folks who go to work after school) hadn’t shown up that day. I thanked her again for being there then told her to run hide when she was done with me. I try to support people working by going to their lines when I can and by thanking them for being there and commiserating, letting them know I used to work retail, too. And I try to be patient because I see what is happening.

    So much more, of course. Good healthcare, good husband, job for husband and other family, good use of my body and full senses, usefulness even if I don’t have a job, people to love and be with, peace.

      • Same. Not only do I want people to keep their jobs, I appreciate the chance to interact with a human. Eighty percent of Walmart’s inventory is supplied from China. You’d think they’d want to keep at least a few jobs here for the folks at home because they are sure doing their part for China’s balance of trade.

    • No one can screw up a self check-out faster than I can. If I have 2 items, I try to find a cashier. When I leave, someone puts an “Out of Order” on my machine.

  8. It’s not that I take things for granted, it’s more that I try to have positive thoughts, that things will come right in the end, that most things are good enough and not to stress on things that are very low on the important scale. Tho I think I would have commented somehow on those plane issues, perhaps on a written comment form – they should have been attended to, and perhaps have gotten you a rebate of some of those miles you used.

    • It was hard not to reason: If you can’t look after the seat capacitor, and you can’t keep track of the reading lights in first class, and you can’t get the Wi-fi or PA to work… did you spend any time doing engine maintenance? Checking the tires for wear?
      But that was the flight that was available, and I traveled safely. I’ll probably get back to grumbling soon enough.

      • You’re hilarious, though those concerns would have entered my mind also. If only all passengers could enjoy truly first class travel, without paying extra. Flying used to be a joy, but now the airlines don’t seem to care so much about their customer’s’ experience on board—they just keep stuffing them in like sardines.

  9. Love, I don’t take love for granted. There are so many different facets of love. Love for family, husband, friend, or even a career. I am blessed beyond measure when it comes to all of those. My mother is 88 and healthy. My sisters are the best, even though one hasn’t spoken to me since June I still love her like no other. I’ve got a large circle of friends that I know I can count on in a pinch. I can’t say enough of the love I have for my husband (survived not one but three heart attacks) and two children (both teens).
    In everything that is going wrong in our country, I still love it. I wouldn’t change becoming an American. It is still the best country in the world and I love it. So Love is what I don’t take for granted.

  10. I, too, feel very blessed that travel is available to us again, and was able to fly to Seattle this summer with my lovable husband of 39 years and take a cruise to Alaska. Unfortunately, we both caught Covid, but didn’t come down with symptoms until the day after we arrived home, so our vacation was not ruined, and since we both were vaccinated, we survived, which I am sincerely grateful for. I lost a friend to Covid in 2020, before vaccines were available. I have no birth family left, since I was the youngest of a small family, so I am truly grateful for my husband, daughter and son, who are in good health and happy in their careers. I just bought Yuletide Gems, so no need for a free copy, but I will never take good health and family for granted, and the ability to spend time reading books by such talented female authors as Grace Burrowes—thank you for many hours of reading pleasure!