Planted in Peoria

Today I was supposed to fly home to Florida from my daughter’s home in Illinois. My flight was scheduled for 11:28 a.m., and being somewhat anal about the whole two-hour pre-flight arrival time I checked in at, you guessed it, 9:28.

As I sat at the gate reading I received two texts in quick succession. The first pushed the flight back to noon, the second moved it forward to 11:40. No biggie. I’d still have plenty of time to make my connecting flight in Atlanta.

The flight arrived and we boarded the small commuter plane. I’d begun reading my book and barely noticed that the flight attendant was speaking. It seemed our plane needed some parts–parts that weren’t on hand, and even if they had been, there was no one available to install them.

We deplaned and now it looks doubtful that I’ll make it home tonight. They are attempting to send us a new plane (not NEW new, but new to us), but it will have to come from Burlington, VT. So, the current departure time is either five or six or maybe four or never, depending on who one asks.

The Peoria airport is pleasant, but tiny. It’s not like airports in Minneapolis or Orlando or Chicago that are basically shopping malls that accommodate air travel. I’ve already eaten at the only cafe twice and shopped at the lone shop three times. Who knows? By the time I leave the shop might have a completely new inventory.

Okay, I’m going to get up and walk. Maybe I’ll shop again.

Peace, people.

Musings from an Airport

Wondering why…

I rushed to the airport this morning only to have my flight delayed not once, but twice.

The guy who looks like an accountant is carrying a badass guitar case. Is this a new trend? Buttoned-down Rock? Calculator Cool?

The lady beside me can snore with such abandon in a bright, public space when I have trouble sleeping in a quiet, darkened room.

Some people wear their pajamas to the airport. Seriously? Don’t they know this isn’t Walmart?

I ate something spicy for breakfast. 😳

Flying seemed like such a good idea when I planned this trip. I could’ve been well down the road by now.

Peace, people!

Up, Up, and Away

There’s an airline ticket for today with my name on it. Not a paper ticket; how passé those are these days. No, mine is an e-ticket, which of course I printed out because at my age it’s still a little unnerving not to have physical proof of my reservation. Never mind that the acknowledgment of my ticket purchase is in my email, and that I also took a screenshot of it. Nothing makes me feel more secure than having the darned thing printed on something tangible.

I remember when airline travel was the purview of the well-to-do. Women dressed to fly as if they were headed to church, and gentlemen donned suits and ties. Flight attendants were all female and had to meet strict age, height, and weight guidelines.

By the time I finally got to fly, airlines were much more egalitarian. No one got all dressed up to sit on a crowded plane between two sweaty businessmen. Flight attendants, male and female alike, looked like normal people instead of models. Still, flying was an exciting event for me. It still is.

Even though I flew regularly as part of my job with a non-profit for several years, I never tired of traveling by plane. Sure, there have been trying times–lost luggage, cancelled flights, ornery seat-kicking kids in the row directly behind mine, but still I’m entranced by the magical experience of a giant metal machine full of people overcoming the bonds of gravity to soar from point A to point B.

Hopefully all will go smoothly today, and in just a few hours after taking off from the Tallahassee airport I’ll be with my daughter and her family in Illinois. Magic.

Peace, people!

The Passenger

Old cowboys don’t die

They board planes and fly away

Run down boots, no spurs

I picture his horse

Long put out to green pastures

Bent neck and swayed back

The man still stands tall

Smelling of leather and dust

Old straw hat in hand

I wrote this while waiting in line at a Southwest gate in Dallas. The photos aren’t great–I was trying to be surreptitious.

Hopefully Homeward Bound

Hurricane Michael has been a total ass. He’s destroyed lives and homes and businesses all along the gulf coast of Florida, and Michael has kept on wreaking havoc as he’s slammed inland through Florida’s panhandle, into Georgia, and beyond. See, a total ass.

My home near Tallahassee seems to have weathered the storm fairly well. I happened to be in Dallas with my son and his family while my husband, Studly Doright, and our cats rode out the Category 4 hurricane at Doright Manor.

Studly’s job as an area director for a public utility company calls for him to make sure resources and people are in the right places at the right times. When I spoke with him last night before bed he’d just ended one conference call and was preparing for the next one. It’s non-stop.

Originally, I was booked on a Thursday flight from Dallas to Panama City Beach via Houston on Southwest Airlines. When Hurricane Michael, the ass, came in so quickly I changed the flight to Friday (today as I write this). It seems I might’ve been a little optimistic. Yesterday afternoon I received a text from the airline saying the flight from Houston to Panama City Beach was cancelled.

I knew I had other options, but I wanted to check with Studly before changing airports, since he’d need to meet me there. Of course when I called him he was on a conference call and just told me to do whatever I needed to do, and he’d make arrangements to pick me up at the airport I chose. It was an easy change to make with Southwest (bless them) and I am now scheduled to land in Jacksonville around nine this evening.

Studly, however, called me back when he got my flight information, and he won’t be able to meet me. I’d anticipated that, knowing what’s going on in his world right now. So, I’m renting a car at the airport and we’ll return it on Saturday to our local airport. (It just occurred to me that the Tallahassee airport might not be functioning right now. That could be problematic. I’ll check after I publish.)

Studly warned me to be careful coming home. He says I’m going to be shocked by the amount and size of the debris around Doright Manor. For safety’s sake I might end up staying overnight in Jacksonville so I can make the drive in daylight. I’m ready to be home, though.

Thanks to all of you who’ve expressed concern for us during this storm. We appreciate the positive vibes and prayers. Keep those in the gulf coast towns in your thoughts. The damage there looks devastating.

Peace, people.

Wakulla Swim

On Tuesday morning I took our granddaughter, Dominique, and her friend, Sophia, to Wakulla Springs. Sophia had never seen an alligator outside of a zoo setting, so we had high hopes for a sighting.

When we first arrived at Edward Ball State Park rain was falling, and tickets for the boat ride weren’t being sold yet due to the possibility of lightning down the river. The girls donned their hoodies so we could go exploring.

That’s the diving platform above.

The small blue markers strung across the river are the only demarcation between swimming territory and all manner of wildlife including gators, manatees, and snakes. According to the park rangers the only real thing keeping wildlife out of the swimming area is the presence of people.

Occasionally an alligator will cross the line and have to be removed. While the girls were swimming I watched two other swimmers each pull a snake from the water. They assured me that these snakes weren’t venomous, but eeek!

Around noon we were cleared for the boat tour. The rains had cooled everything off, so while we saw a good many gators, they were all in the water.

And I managed to fail at getting a photo of anything other than my fellow passengers, trees, and swampy water.

After lunch the two Texas girls swam in the Florida sunshine for over an hour.

Meanwhile I reclined on my brightly colored blanket and read.

The girls slept all the way back to Doright Manor, while I sang along to the 60’s channel on Sirius/XM. Now, I need a nap!

Peace, people.

Dollywood Souvenirs

Even though I’m 61 3/4 I still have to buy at least one souvenir on vacation. I’m a sucker for the corny and the tawdry, and Dollywood, like every other amusement park in the world, had its share of such items.

Having said all that, I really think I scored two totally cute and cuddly souvenirs.

Meet Owlfie, my new finger puppet. I didn’t even know I needed an owl finger puppet until I saw this little guy. True, the cats think I brought him home for them, but he’s mine.

And this little girl is Owlie McGraw. She will keep my seatbelt from rubbing my neck raw. Not only is she incredibly soft, but useful, as well.

One day I might grow up, but today’s not that day.

Peace, people.

Lunch with my Cousin and a Night in LaGrange

Drive, drive, drive! That’s about all I did on Friday the 13th. I left my friend Nicky’s home in Kingsport, Tennessee, around 9:45 yesterday morning and drove to Knoxville to meet my cousin, Peggy, for lunch. Peggy is my second cousin. Her father and my grandfather were brothers. Both were handsome men married to attractive women.

Peggy and her two older sisters were the young women I looked up to as a child. All three were beautiful and well-mannered; whereas, I was a plain little girl with a tendency to rebel. Nevertheless, Peggy, who is three years my senior, was a sometimes playmate, and I have great memories of times we spent together in our younger days.

I’d lost track of Peggy for at least a couple of decades, maybe more, until a few months ago when she friended me on Facebook. After I’d accepted my friend Nicky’s invitation to visit Kingsport I began making plans to have lunch with Peggy in Knoxville on the way home.

Now I’m kicking myself because I forgot to get a picture of the two of us together. Damn. You’ll have to take my word for it, but Peggy is still beautiful and well-mannered. We did our best to catch up in the limited time we had to visit, but I need at least another week with her.

Once we parted ways I set my GPS to avoid major highways and the city of Atlanta on my trip home to Doright Manor. The resulting route took me on a scenic, yet curvy, roller coaster ride through Tennessee and into Georgia. I figured that once I’d gotten far enough south of the aforementioned Atlanta I’d reconfigure my settings to find the fastest route.

Back roads are fun, yet exhausting, and around 7:00 p.m. I decided to stop for the night in the town of LaGrange, Georgia. Now, I might’ve found the most perfect town in the world quite by accident. After checking into the brand new Courtyard by Marriott, I had a nice dinner in their bistro before setting out to explore the downtown area.

Directly across the street from my hotel was a park with a statue in the midst of a fountain.

Curious as to the identity of the statue, I crossed the street for a better look. I’d expected to see some Confederate war era general, but to my surprise and delight I discovered it to be a statue of General Lafayette.

According to GeorgiaInfo, an online Georgia almanac,

“Born at the Chateau de Chavaniac, Auvergne, France, on September 6, 1757, Gilbert Motier de Lafayette became at age 19 a major general on George Washington’s staff. He played a vital role in the defeat of General Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781, ending the American Revolution.

Later in France Lafayette was commanding general of the National Guard. Leader in the movement that gave France a republican form of government, author of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, and designer of the “Cocarde of Liberty” which he holds in his hand.

LaGrange, Georgia, was named for Lafayette’s home, the Chateau de LaGrange, on motion of Julius C. Alford, when this city was chartered on December 16, 1828…”

The statue and the surrounding park are a fitting centerpiece for this lovely town.

The First Baptist Church on the Square:

This is a museum of some kind. I’d have visited it if it had been open. Maybe on my next trip through the area I’ll have better timing.

Lots of interesting shops called to me, but again, I arrived too late:

I don’t think I’d ever seen a “Keep Off the Trees” sign before. It kind of made me want to climb them, rebel that I am.

I MUST visit this shop:

What a day, am I right? Lunch with a long lost cousin followed by a trip on scenic back roads, culminating in a stopover in LaGrange. I’m ready to be back home with Studly Doright and the cats, though.

Peace, people!

“Steel Magnolias” at the Barter Theatre 🎭

My last full day visiting my friend Nicky in Kingsport, Tennessee, was a doozie. We slept in until 9 a.m. and then drove to Abingdon, Virginia, where we had a wonderful lunch at 128 Pecan before checking in at The Barter Theatre to watch a production of Steel Magnolias on the Main Stage.

The Barter is the state theatre of Virginia, and many well known actors have performed there, including Gregory Peck, Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, Larry Linville of MASH fame, along with a host of others.

A young actor named Robert Porterfield founded the theatre during the Great Depression. He’d returned to his native Southwest Virginia from New York with the idea of accepting produce and other goods as payment to see live plays. Thus the name, “Barter” Theatre!

The theatre opened on June 20, 1933, with the proclamation, “With vegetables you cannot sell, you can buy a good laugh.” The price of admission was 35 cents or its equivalent in produce, meat, or live animals. The playwright, George Bernard Shaw requested spinach for the right to produce his plays.

Read more about the Barter here. It’s a great place with a rich history:

https://bartertheatre.com/

Steel Magnolias was absolutely wonderful. Of course I cried all of my makeup off during the final act, but left with a smile. What a great way to spend an afternoon.

We started back to Kingsport the way we’d come only to find there was a traffic jam on the interstate. Nicky directed me down a curvy backroad route, though, and we made it back to Kingsport in time to meet friends at Cheddar’s for dinner.

We were both worn out from our Dollywood adventure on Wednesday, coupled with our trip to Abingdon yesterday, so we didn’t linger long after our meal. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Nicky’s where we retired to our respective beds before 10 p.m.

I’ll start home today (Friday), but I’m planning to stop in Knoxville, Tennessee, for lunch with a cousin I haven’t seen in many years. I can’t wait!

Peace, people!

Hooray for Dollywood

I won’t write much this morning. My friend Nicky and I explored Dollywood yesterday and had so much fun.

We got home late thanks to road construction on two lanes of the busy interstate. It took us about 45 minutes to travel 3 1/2 miles, but we made good time once we were free of the traffic cones. We talked non-stop, though, so there was no wasted time.

Today we’re going into Virginia to see a theatrical production of Steel Magnolias at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon. I’m proactively packing extra Kleenex for the event.

Gotta go take my shower so we can get going. Peace, people!