Tag Archives: travel

No Lava For Us

8 Aug

A year ago we booked a cruise around the Hawaiian Islands, not knowing that two months before Kilauea would erupt. Thousands of people have been displaced. Homes destroyed. Land masses changed. Roads blocked. Luckily not many hurt or injured!

Eighteen years ago we spent a week on the Big Island. We spent hours on Kilauea walking around the rim of the caldera, going to the museum, walking through a lava tube. The park is closed now due to the eruption. We have heard that the museum has massive damage due to the many earthquakes that have assaulted the volcano area.

No one is allowed close to the volcano and the lava.

During our day in Hilo visiting a bevy of waterfalls, we were able to see steam rising from Kilauea from a distance. We were high above Hilo with a view to the volcano. Our guide told us then that the lava flow was decreasing and almost ceased.

But we thought we would still be able to get a glimpse of the glowing lava from the ocean and our ship.

That evening as the ship set sail, we rearranged dinner schedule to be able to stand in the starboard side of the ship as we sailed pass the lava flow. Hundreds joined us waiting to see the lava. It was a joyous atmosphere.

Then the announcement: the lava had stopped flowing the day before. They were hoping we could still see the glowing embers. But no, the crust has solidified and the red hot embers of flowing lava could not be seen. If it was daylight, we might have seen steam. But now nothing!

Everyone left the deck. Except a few including us. My husband lifting his binoculars and stared intently into the pitch black and stared across to the land, where there was no sign of life. No lava flow. The disappointment was keen. There was nothing to do but go inside to eat a late dinner and continue on.

I must admit two nights before I had a dream that the advent of Hurricane Hector put out the volcano. When I told my husband the dream, he laughed. He is not laughing anymore. But the good news is the hurricane went way south of Hawaii. And for the people of the Big Island, peace from Pele the Goddess of Fire and volcanoes has come.

A Touch of Jewish Philanthropy In Lincoln, Massachusetts 

30 Oct

The entrance to the museum. The house is on the hill.

I always enjoy going to Boston, as I can immerse myself in our nation’s history. And I love history.  I also enjoy going because I get to visit with my college roommate. She is my official Boston tour guide.  With this visit she decided it was time to get out of Boston and see some of the surrounding sites. It was a beautiful fall day. I am always ready for a new Museum.

Her choice was the de Cordova art museum and sculpture garden in Lincoln. With my interest in Jewish genealogy, I was very familiar with the name De Cordova or Cordova as a Sephardic Jewish name.  But searching for the name of Julian De Cordova online, there was no mention of any Jewish roots.   Just that he was a the son of a Jamaican merchant with Spanish roots.  So to me it was obvious that this was a family which left Spain due to the expulsion of the Jews and ended up in Jamaica.  I love the white wash of history.

In any case I was excited to see this museum, walk through the sculpture garden and visit with my friend.  We decided to go inside first and see the exhibits.  The main topic was screens and  the different interpretations of a screen:  television screens, screens that separate rooms,  screens that keep people out. It was interesting.   But as we wandered the through the museum, we passed a little display on a wall that discussed the history of Julian de Cordova.

Part of the house.

Julian was the son of a Jewish family of merchants in Jamaica who was able on his own merit to become a successful business man in Lincoln,   He and his wife, who was from the local Dana family,  I assume not Jewish,  traveled the world and purchased art wherever they went.  He loved going to Spain because of his family’s Spanish roots. While there,  He also fell in love with castles and so remodeled his summer home in Lincoln to look like a castle.

He also set up that when he died, this summer home, its land and his art would be donated to the city of Lincoln as a museum.  When he died in 1945, the de Cordova Museum was established.

One of my favorite pieces.

So although most do not know that this lovely estate and museum was once the abode of a Jamaican, Sephardic Jewish man, to me it added a bit of joy as I walked the grounds, enjoyed the art and the lovely setting.  It made me appreciate how immigrant Jewish families have added to our country and the arts.

My friend and I spent two hours walking through the museum,  most of our time was spent walking around the sculptures, along the paths that led to the pond and lovely gardens.   Afterwards we spent time in Concord and the Minute Man National Park.  But this little jewel of a museum is well worth the visit.

In This Time of Asking Forgiveness, I Am Donating to Help Hurricane Survivors

28 Sep


We were in San Juan, Puerto Rico in June.  A lovely island for a day of sight seeing as we cruised the Caribbean.  We took a bus to the Fort in San Juan, and then a walking tour from the Fort back to the ship.   We passed beautiful flowering trees and plants, lush gardens, We toured the Fort that overlooks the ocean and once protected the island from invaders.  We looked down the coast to see the lovely beaches.


But Hurricane Maria has devasted the island.   So many millions without food, water, housing.  Searching for a way off the island, tourists who live elsewhere are stuck, stranded away from their home.  While those whose home is Puerto Rica are afraid of the future.  When where the power grid be repaired, when will the water and the food be available again. When will the roads be fixed.  When will medical care and schools be able to return to normal.


Puerto Rico is one of many islands that faced destruction in the way of Hurricane Irma and Maria, while Florida and Texas also suffered horrors during to hurricane season, Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacted these areas.  Connected to other states and cities,  Florida and Texas are fortunate in that help can come more quickly for these impacted areas, where as the islands of the Caribbean are isolated.

Cruise ships are cancelling vacation cruises in order to help evacuate the islands and bring supplies.  But in reality, there is no tourism or vacation in some sections of the Caribbean now as the destruction of the islands’ infrastructures make tourism impossible.

I cannot go there to help.  But I can donate. I can provide tzedakah to those in need. I chose the “oneamericanappeal.org” that was endorsed by and set up by our five former presidents: Bush, Bush, Carter, Clinton and Obama: Republicans and Democrats coming together to help our citizens in need.

I know that not everyone can help financially.  But those of us who can, must.   The island of Puerto Rico will never be the same.  But perhaps it can even be better as the power grid is rebuilt and the water supply fixed…as it will be updated and modernized. The Virgin Island of St. Thomas was also devastated.  These islands are our responsibility.  The citizens of these islands are citizens of the United States.

It has been a difficult time for many.  Fires in the west and northwest are causing destruction and health issues.  The many hurricanes have devasted areas with their high winds and flooding rains. I also sent sent a donation to help with these disasters as well through the Jewish Federation.

With this season of asking for forgiveness, the time between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, I think that doing good for others ,  tzedakah and gemilut Chasadim, shows my commitment to tikkun olam.  As I ask forgiveness for all that I might have done to hurt others during the year, I send donations to help those in need. 

Memories of My Grandparents Or Why I Always Read Street Signs

8 May

I can be annoying when driving or sitting in the passenger seat of a car. Why? Because I read all the road signs…out loud…always: street signs, billboards, ads. If it is on the street or the highway, I read it.   And I read quickly. When you learn to read by reading street signs, you learn to recognize letters and words and read before the car passes the sign.

I did, in fact, learn to read, or at least enhance my reading through verbalizing what was written on signs.  Although we had plenty of books in our house, it was street signs that were important. My maternal grandmother started this habit. She read every street sign as my grandfather drove. When I was a child I did not know why, I just knew we had to read all the signs. As a teen, I realized the importance of reading signs when Grandpa was driving.

My maternal grandparents came to the US from Europe in the early 1920s. Although my grandmother went to night school and learned to read and write English, my grandfather never did. He was great in Yiddish, Hebrew and Polish. But English, he never really learned. So it was Grandma who read the papers, kept the books and read the street signs for him.

Grandpa did drive the car. I guess driver’s licenses were easier to get back then. No written tests I assume, because Grandpa could not read or write English well. He could read slowly and write his name. But overall not well enough to read the street signs. To make finding their destination easier, in the times of no GPS telling you what to do, my grandmother would always read the street signs to let him know exactly where we were: Stop, Yield, Merge were easy. I know he learned to recognize those signs over time.

But my Grandma did not stop there, she read all those street signs as to where you were and special billboards as we drove along. If there was a sign, she read it. Eventually, we just read along starting at a unusually early age. I think at times there was a race to see who could read the signs first, as my sister and my brother and my Mother also read the street signs.

My Grandpa needed it. My Dad never said anything about it. Perhaps he thought it was cute when we were children. In reality, it is a habit I cannot stop. I still do it. I read when I am driving, or when someone else is driving.   Lately the ones that really get my reading mind in gear are in Missouri. They have all these electronic billboards that say things like, “Buckle up, MODOT cares.” I read all of them out loud. I cannot read them silently. Part of reading a street sign is to read for everyone to hear. At one point while we were driving to St. Louis, my husband piped up and said, “Don’t get into an accident reading all those MODOT signs.”

My husband probably had no idea why I always read the signs. But he puts up with it and has not said anything about it in years. At one point early in our relationship, he did say something about being able to read for himself. But that stopped when our children were little. I think he thought I was reading for them. But I was not.   I was just continuing a childhood habit.

To be honest, I usually do not read the signs around our home and neighborhood. Those are not necessary to read. However, as soon as I get on a highway and, especially, if I am in a new place, I start reading those signs.  Last year we had a road trip to Minneapolis. It was a road sign Bonanza, especially after my GPS stopped working. (We accidentally popped out the little disk.)

I have a few friends who I know find it annoying when they are driving with me. I think they think I do it when I have nothing else to say, just to hear my own voice. But that is not the reason. Reading signs is second nature. I remember long car rides to the Catskills with my grandparents. I hear my Grandma’s voice as we drive along. And I know we will be safe. We know where we are going.

Oh Canada: My love of Canada Was Nurtured in High School

23 Jan

I have been fascinated with Canada ever since I read my first “Anne of Green Gables” book. The books made me want to see Prince Edward Island and the people of the island, and I loved the character of Anne Shirley. But it wasn’t till I was in my junior or senior year at North Bergen High School that I was able to really learn something about modern Canada.

At school, the administration decided to have these little one-quarter classes. You had a choice to take one or two each semester. Among the classes offered was one about Canada by Ann-Ruth Enowitz, a history/social studies teacher. For me she brought Canada to life. And my desire to see Canada and learn more about it intensified.

I loved her class. I liked her as well. We learned about the provinces, the history with England, France and the United States. We even learned to sing the Canadian national anthem, “O Canada!”. There were just a few of us in the class. I think we met in a conference room in the library.

Although I had not been to Canada, I knew that many Canadians came down to New York. It was so close to travel and visit. Many had families in both countries. But for me, the closest I came to Canada was the Canadian exhibit at Disney World’s Epcot Center. But I wanted the real thing!

The class only piqued my interest!

My first trip was to Montreal for a family wedding. My plane was late, of course, and I could not remember the name of the hotel. But luckily I had the address of the party I was supposed to go to that night. By the time the taxi got me there, the party was over. But my mom and dad were sitting on the stoop waiting for me. In the time before cell phones, they were worried and could only hope and wait for me.

Once that emergency passed, I had a great time. We went on tours around Montreal. I loved the old town by the river and visiting all the French sites. We enjoyed the wedding, and my love of Canada continued.

My next trip to a Canadian city occurred when my husband and I were living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was a hop and a skip to get to Windsor, Canada. Many people went shopping there because the dollar bought more. My friend Ginny and took a trip there to shop. I will admit I almost caused a big problem at the border, but we finally got through.

My husband and I went back for a week’s vacation, driving through Canada; negotiating the weird signs. The signs don’t say, ‘merge’; they say ‘squeeze.’ Or they did. We went to Stafford and saw a Shakespearean play.   We drove to Toronto…just missing the traffic for the Pope. We got there the day after he left, but all the barricades were still around. It was September 1984.

We made our way all the way to Niagara Falls and spent a day and night there: taking the boat ride to the falls, walking along the Canadian side. We drove back along a southern route, but stayed in Canada. We stopped at Alexander Graham Bell’s’ home and the Royal Botanical Gardens. I loved that trip.

Ms. Enowitz’ class so many years before helped me on all these trips. She had spent much time on Toronto, Montreal and Niagara Falls, discussing border issues, and the wars between the French and English, as well as the US and Canada. Who knew that we once went to war with Canada!!! But her history lessons came to life as we visited forts and cities along the way.

Houseboats Vancouver

Some of the houseboats we saw as we walked to Stanley Park.

Many years later I went to Vancouver.  My husband was there for a meeting, and I was there to see the sites. But he had some time off and we took long walks and visited Stanley Park together and looked at all the houseboats along the way. I went to museums and Granville Island with a friend.

It was just two years after 9/11 and security was very tight. There were talks of terrorist trying to get over the border from Canada to the USA. So perhaps it was not the smartest move on our part to fly home on September 11. But it was my Dad’s birthday. And my parents were staying with our children. I promised my Dad he would be off duty for his birthday.

For some reason, security focused on my husband. They checked him at least three times. And even when I went down the walkway to the plane, I noticed he was gone. I walked back and there at the entrance they made take off his shoes and were checking him again.

But we still loved Vancouver. I always thought we would take our children there, but never did; just a pass through on the way to Alaska.

Another trip to Canada with my husband took us to Montreal as we started a cruise up the St. Lawrence Seaway. We spent several days first just walking around Montreal. The first stop on the cruise was a day in Quebec City. I loved it there so much, a few years later we travel to Quebec City and spent a week there. This French and English town is so interesting. Like being in Europe, but staying in North America.

We also went to Halifax, where several important battles were fought, and the survivors and victims of the Titanic were taken to after their recovery.

However, most important part of the cruise was finally making my way to Prince Edward Island and visiting all the sites made famous by Lucy Maud Montgomery (LMM) and her Ann of Green Gables books. I told my husband in advance that we had to do the Ultimate Green Gables tour. He agreed. And my favorite part of the cruise occurred on this tour.

Green Gables

Green Gables, the Anne Shirley home!

My husband was not an Anne Shirley fan. He knew nothing about her, nor about Lucy Maud Montgomery. Needless to say he was not as excited as the other 50 or so mainly women on the bus. So when we got to Green Gables, the house owned by LMM’s aunt and uncle that the house in the stories was based on, my husband was not that impressed.

Anne Shirley's room

Anne Shirley’s “room,” at the top of the stairs.

And when we went up the tiny staircase to the second floor, the tour guide said as you get up the stairs look to you left and you will see Anne Shirley’s room. I was so excited; I exited the staircase, with my camera ready and started taking photos. My husband said, “You know, Anne Shirley was just a fictional character and that is not her room.”

I turned to say something back to him so he would understand my joy and not undercut it! But I did not need to say anything; the woman behind him said, “You know you could just go back to the bus.”

From that point on my husband was silent. He just enjoyed the rest of the tour realizing he was with a bunch of Anne Shirley fanatics. And I had pure joy.

I thought that was it. I had satisfied my Canadian obsession. But then my daughter became engaged to a Canadian. I now learned that you can put maple syrup on everything you eat and there are such things as maple syrup lollipops.

To this day I think of Ms. Enowitz whenever I travel to Canada. It was a very brief class, but one I always remember.

 

 

Museums Help Me Honor Our Relatives Who Served on Veterans’ Day

10 Nov

On November 11, every year I go over to the Korean War Memorial that was established just about a mile from my home. Years ago I put a stone in the memorial for my Dad who served in Korea as a forward observer.

A portion of the Korean War Memorial in Kansas.

A portion of the Korean War Memorial in Kansas.

The truth is my Dad loved military history. He loved reading about the Civil War, World War 1 and World War 2. I have visited many museums just to see them and to think about my Dad. In Kansas City we are fortunate to have the National World War One Museum and Liberty Memorial. It was remodeled over five years ago. My husband and I went to check it out to see if my Dad would be able to navigate its halls and exhibits. We thought he would love it. Unfortunately my Dad passed away before we could take him there.

We are also fortunate to have two presidential libraries nearby that also speak about our country’s efforts in war. We have been to the President Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, and the Eisenhower Library in Salina, Kansas.  Both have significant information about the Second World War and dedicate a portion of the libraries to the presidents involvement and service.

About 14 years ago I went to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. I took my children with me; they were then 15 and 11. We walked through the entire exhibit. That day there was a special ceremony in the lobby as veterans were being presented awards. The entire time we were there, we spoke about how much Grandpa would love this museum! I bought my Dad a book and some other memorabilia from the museum. I know he wanted to see it one day.

We also visited a small Civil War museum in New Orleans, called the Confederate Memorial Hall Museum. It has been a part of New Orleans since 1891. This small museum supposedly houses the second largest collection of Civil War items. Dad would have loved it as well.

I have been to Hawaii and visited the USS Arizona Memorial and seen the droplets of oil floating to the surface of Pearl Harbor, like droplets of tears still escaping. I have walked through the USS Missouri and saw the spot where the treaty that ended the Pacific War was signed.

I have visited military cemeteries: Arlington National Cemetery, The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and the Ft. Leavenworth National Cemetery. I have seen my father buried with full military honors including a flag-draped coffin, the folding and presentation of the flag and a serviceman on the bugle playing Taps.

The Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

The Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

This weekend in my continued efforts to honor veterans and their service, I spent a day in Fredericksburg, Texas. I was in San Antonio for a meeting with my husband. A good friend picked me up from the hotel for this field trip to the National Museum of the Pacific War. Who knew it even existed! We wandered through the halls and learned about what was happening in China and Japan that led to their entrance into the war. We saw planes and submarines.   A replica of the atomic bomb hangs from one of the ceilings.

I saw information about Manila and the infamous Bataan Death March. That stands out in my memory as my husband’s Aunt Grace was one of the nurses in Bataan. She was one of the few who were evacuated from the island on a submarine and so did not have to suffer through the march and the horrible internment. I was able to show my friend the book, We Band of Angels, which features two pictures of Aunt Grace in group photos.

The walkway memorial to presidents.

The walkway memorial to presidents.

We then walked through a memorial to our country’s presidents to the Nimitz Hotel founded by the family of Admiral Chester Nimitz. It is now a museum honoring his memory and his work as the Admiral of the Pacific Fleet. I believe I honored those who serve by visiting these museums.

And always on Veterans’ Day I think of my Dad, who served in Korea. My Uncles Bernie and Stanley who served in World War Two; My husband’s Uncles Ben and Fred who were military physicians in World War Two; His Uncle Richard who served in Korea; and his Aunt Grace and Aunt Florence who were nurses in World War Two. My husband’s grandfather served in World War 1. And not to leave anyone out, I also think of my husband’s and my cousins who served in all of these wars including Vietnam.

Museums do not tell the full story. They cannot transmit the heartache that follows a person throughout their life because of the things they saw, the odors they smelt, the lives that were lost and the changes it caused in their psyche. But for me to visit these museums, I feel I am showing respect for the sacrifices these veterans made for all of us. I am proud there are so many veterans in our family!

Saving the Monarch Butterflies

24 Aug

Excitement rules our home.   Our milkweed plantings were successful. We have monarch butterfly caterpillars munching on the leaves. And thousands of eggs deposited among our milkweeds. We are doing our part to save the Monarch butterflies.

We live in the path of the great Monarch migration. Each year millions of butterflies come through Kansas. When we see them, we celebrate. Our children, when they were young, would have such joy pointing to them and running to see the butterflies on our flowers.

Our concern started because we noticed fewer and fewer butterflies making their way through our property.   And then we watched a documentary on NOVA, “Journey of the Butterflies,” about the migration of the butterflies and how their natural habitat is diminishing. What could we do?

The docent at the Butterfly Farm in St. Maarten showing us a giant milkweed and a Monarch butterfly caterpillar. This got us started!

The docent at the Butterfly Farm in St. Maarten showing us a giant milkweed and a Monarch butterfly caterpillar. This got us started!

Then we went to a butterfly farm and conservation center on St. Maarten in the Caribbean. The tour guide/docent was very clear in his message. “PLANT Milkweed. This could save the butterflies.”

That spring when we returned home, we had a mission. Years ago we had milkweed growing. And we pulled it all out. Now we knew that was a wrong decision. We needed milkweed.

It was too late to start from seed. But we learned that the University of Kansas was selling milkweed in Lawrence. So I messaged my nephew, who was in school there, to please buy us some milkweed plants.

He arrived the next day with five plants, one of each variety being sold at the event to save the butterflies.

Planting the milkweed we got from the University of Kansas sale in 2014.

Planting the milkweed we got from the University of Kansas sale in 2014.

My husband cheerfully and carefully planted them.   But we made one error. We forgot to tell the gardener who weeded our gardens for us. A few days later we came home, and I said, “Oh, Donny must have been here.” My husband went running to the front. And then he started yelling, “He pulled out my milkweed. It is all gone!!!”

But it wasn’t all gone. There was still one plant. But it was not enough. We never had any caterpillars last year.

This year was different. My husband ordered 2,500 seeds on line. Yes, I said 2,500 milkweed seeds of five different varieties. I agree, a little over kill. I bought him seedling planters with 100 individual biodegradable cups. He planted over 200 seeds. And he waited. Soon they were sprouting.

100s of milkweed seedlings watched over by our kitten.

100s of milkweed seedlings watched over by our kitten.

First we kept them on our kitchen table in the sunlight. But our kitten was a bit too interested in them. So we moved them to a bright spot where the kitten could not get to them.

Over 100 seedlings survived. My husband pulled some out so that there was only one plant in each cup.   And eventually he had 50 good plants to put into the ground. It was not easy to keep them alive. The animals loved to eat them, especially the bunnies. And the squirrels kept digging them up. He put the plants in our flower boxes with wire screens above them.   Slowly he planted the surviving milkweed in the ground. He put up wire screens around his milkweed plantsto keep them safe.

He also gave seeds away to our neighbors so they also could plant milkweed. His aim was sincere. Everyone should plant milkweed!

Slowly the plants grew all summer. They did not flower, something was eating the flowers. And now the mature plants started to look badly. Something was eating his milkweed.

He went out to investigate. And came back with a big smile on his face.

Two of the four Monarch butterfly caterpillars eating our milkweed. Seen the wire screening we used to protect them in the background.

Two of the four Monarch butterfly caterpillars eating our milkweed. Seen the wire screening we used to protect them in the background.

Four caterpillars were eating the largest of our milkweed. We had done it! We had done a wonderful good deed! We had provided a home for the Monarch butterflies. Excitement and joy!

I expect next year we will have many more surviving milkweed plants and many more caterpillars because now we are experienced in the ways of saving the Monarch butterfly!

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/nature/journey-butterflies

http://www.journeynorth.org/

The Legacy of Woodstock

17 Aug

The view toward the stage and West Shore Road.

The view toward the stage and West Shore Road.

It is amazing to me that an event that divided a community; created havoc and orderly chaos; memories that lasted a life time, both bitter and joyful, is now the reason why the Town of BethEl, White Lake and Kauneonga Lake in Sullivan County, NY, might actually survive.

It was the Woodstock Festival that put these small towns in the eyes of the nation. I remember that weekend and the weeks that follow so well. My grandparents owned a small bungalow colony in Kauneonga Lake and we spent each summer there for my life. My grandparents had made Kauneonga Lake their year-round residence. They knew everyone. They were active in the community and the synagogue.

And I remember the hostilities and disruption that came after the festival was over and most of the people had left.   I say most because a small group stayed behind and never left the area.

I see my Dad trying to direct traffic in front our home. And letting a few vehicles park on our long driveway and front lawn.   I remember the people who came to ask if my grandfather would let helicopters land on our lawn. (That would be a NO.)

I remember the police on horseback trying to ride up the hill to the Woodstock site.

And I remember the mess afterwards. The days upon days to clean up the debris left behind.

The symbol used throughout the town of Kauneonga Lake.

The symbol used throughout the town of Kauneonga Lake.

But now that same event that caused pain for many, especial the Yasgurs, is now the reason for renewal.  It so amazes me now that the sign of a bird on a guitar that was so hated by some of the townspeople, is now redone as a bird on a leaf and is  symbol used in the town. And even a horse stable uses a take off of the iconic sign as its symbol. Wow! How the attitudes have changed.

Even a stable uses a sign to remember Woodstock.

Even a stable uses a sign to remember Woodstock.

At first the site of the Woodstock Festival became a legend and people would come up each summer on a pilgrimage to see it and talk about it. There was no monument. A group of people, the remains of the Hog Farmers who had helped at the concert, who hung out there to tell the story. Over time a monument was built, and the field was left empty.

Those who love the area owe thanks to one family’s vision, Alan Gerry and the Gerry Foundation. I believe it is thanks to him that the area is surviving the loss of income from the bungalow colonies. As the colonies closed or came under the ownership of orthodox Jewish communities, the area became desolate. But then in 1997 the Gerry family began it’s interest in the Woodstock site.

With the development of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, Bethel and White Lake and Kauneonga Lake have had a small rebirth. Each summer I come up and I see new restaurants, new stores, new houses even. On the weekends I hear the sounds of cars whizzing by our home before and after concerts.

People come to hear the music and to visit the Bethel Woods Museum. Every summer I take a journey the almost two miles to visit the Woodstock site and take a photo. I remember the blocked roads, the multitudes of people. I remember my grandfather’s reactions to all the young adults walking by our home. “Where are their mothers?” He kept asking as he shook his head.

But along with the memories of 46 years ago, I also see the new site. I have to tell you, it is wonderful!

 

Flying Is No Longer Fun!

3 Aug
The moon from our plane window.  It was supposed to be daylight when we arrived.

The moon from our plane window. It was supposed to be daylight when we arrived.

Six and one half hours. That is how long our flight was delayed.  We spent 8 1/2 hours at the airport in Kansas City in total. A very long day. I am so happy my son was with me.  His amusement and laughter made the day much more enjoyable.

It started as a simple 30-minute delay for an incoming plane. It quickly turned into a nightmare for those with connecting flights.

When the new crew entered the plane they noticed something was wrong,  the plane was extremely cold.  We did not know what was happening at the time. But I did noticed that the captain had come back up the jetway and got the woman agent who was working the desk (for what she thought would be a routine flight.) She went down the jetway with the pilot.

I turned to my son and said, “That does not look good at all.”

I have been flying a lot lately, and to me this indicated a major problem .  She came back out and immediately anounced a one-hour delay. It was a simple problem she told us, one that they would probably just look at and note. If only that was true! But it was not to be.

That one hour turned to two hours . We were told that maintenance was now looking at it and determined that they would need a part to fix a thermostat.

Those with connecting flights started to line up, making their connections would be difficult.  In the summer time, flights are often crowded, with every seat filled.  Plans to fly overseas were especially difficult.

My son was walking around the waiting area, while I read a book.  He came back to where I was sitting with our carry-on luggage.

“Mom, they are offloading luggage from the plane,” he said.  A very bad sign.  I have learned that if enough people are taken off the flight and put on another flight, the airline will cancel  the ‘problem’ flight.  I did not want to be waiting for hours for a cancelled flight.  I absolutely hate that.

I immediately got on the line. I wanted to reserve a seat in the later flight.  Which I did.  We were only 2 1/2 hours delayed at this point and the next flight was to leave in four hours, but you never know. I try to be flexible, but I also want to be prepared.

We started watching people be sent away.  I was calm.  One woman was very upset because she had special concert tickets. She was making phone calls, speaking to people and speaking to the agents.  I notice one of the two male agents who had replaced our original agent was leading her away from our gate.

The delays piled up.  The part was found, but now a team of mechanics were working on it. Instead of being an easy fix, now an entire unit had to be taken out of the plane to get the plane repaired.  It was apparent that things were not going well.

We were sent to another gate as a new plane was coming, being ferried in just for us.  Okay, maybe things would get better.  Maybe.

The line to transfer or find solutions was long, since the earliest we would leave was 4:30 pm.  Our scheduled flight now was leaving five  and half hours late. Some people went home or to a hotel. They had no chance to make any connections, so they were rescheduled for the next day.

We went to the new gate and waited.  The woman with the concert tickets was back! What happened? The flight on Delta was cancelled  so she came back to United to get on the original flight.  Needless to say she did not make the concert.

The plane came. You could feel the excitement from the crowd.  Although many had left our group,  others who were on a flight with a stop in Chicago had chosen to change to our flight to Newark.

We lined up ready to board.  The new agent asked if any of the first class flyers wanted their original lunch meals. One raised her hand.  The agent had to go to the other gate to get the food.  People moaned.

The crew got off the plane.  You could feel the anticipation as we waited for our crew to arrive.  And waited. And waited.

The agent came back on the speaker. “Ummm. Well, first I am really sorry, but the crew members were sent to the hotel and are not here.  We thought they were in the crew lounge at the airport.  But they have left.  We have to get them back.  So there will be another hour and half delay. The earliest you will leave is 5:45 pm.”

People audibly gasped! Tension filled the air. The comments and questions were flying around the waiting area: “Don’t they talk to each other?”  “How could that happen?”  “Will they really come back?”  “Is this flight actually going to go?”

My son burst out laughing. I got up to ask to transfer to the other plane. But the agent was not done.

“Also I have been told that we cannot serve the meals from first class as they have been on the plane for too long.  I am sorry.”  So first class passengers were getting no food.  Neither was my son or I or anyone else.   They had just joined us peons.  And there are not many food choices at the Kansas City airport.

My son and I  had already gone without a real lunch.  It was obvious that we were going without a real dinner.

I was first in line at the counter. “Can you just transfer us to the other flight, please.”  It was scheduled to leave one minute after the flight we were supposed to go on.  But I just was not sure we were actually going to go anywhere.

“I could” she said. “But it is scheduled to go on the original plane that you were supposed to go on, and it is still being fixed.  What do you want to do?”   I really had no choice, at least I knew this plane was in working order. I stayed with the original flight.

We all sat and waited and talked to the people around us.

When the crew arrived we all applauded.

When we boarded the plane, people were laughing.

When the plane took off we were amazed.  I actually heard a few people applaud.

The captaiin came on and apologized.

But we had been at the airport for 8 1/2 hours. The airline did not offer us food coupons. There were no snacks on the plane. Luckily I had purchased some snacks for us.

We arrived 6 1/2 hours late. Instead of 3 pm, we arrived at 9:30 pm. A wasted day. We missed dinner with my brother. We were tired and cranky and hungry.

At the luggage carousel, my son and I waited with others from our flight.  Making jokes about whether our luggage was actually put on the new plane, and what else could possibly go wrong.  However our luggage did arrive.  Our ride from the airport did show up within minutes of us leaving the terminal.

The passengers had bonded during our time together.  People who were strangers became temporary friends.  But it was now over, we were all returning to life outside of the world of the airport.

Earlier in the odyssey I told my son I was going to send an email to the airline when I got home. I was angry. But United emailed us first, apologizing to us and offering a link for a gift for each of us.   You know it is bad when that happens.  I have 90 days, so I have not checked the link yet.

Although nothing can give me back my day, which was spent watching the world from a terminal window, I do appreciate the apology.  But in reality flying is no longer any fun.

Getting Ready for The Catskills

23 Jul

Next week my son and I are going to New Jersey/New York for 11 days. It is the first time in five years that I am going back east without a purpose. I have no ailing parents anymore, as, sadly, they passed away. I do not have to clean out an apartment or a house. This is not the unveiling. I do not have any meetings plan. We are just going for fun. I have not gone back home just for fun for a long time.

We are staying with my sister for a night and then my son and I and my sister and my niece are driving up to the Catskills to stay in our family home. My brother, and perhaps his wife and/or daughter will meet us up there.   We do not have to clean the attic, basement or house out. We do not have to fill up a dumpster. We do not have to do anything but enjoy the house, the grounds and relax.

Wow. We will see our cousins. We can walk into town. We can eat at a restaurant. Perhaps we will go to Bethel Woods? Who knows? We have no plans. It will be like old times…. Sort of.

My parents will not be there. The annuals my grandparents and then parents planted so lovingly will not be planted. There is no food awaiting our arrival. No special treats hidden away in the special cookie tin. We have to buy all the food ourselves.

There will be no one to welcome us when we drive up the long driveway to the house and no one to stand outside and wave as we drive away.  We will miss their smiles and their welcome.  But I know that they will be so happy to know that we are there, and that the house is alive again.

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Our home in Kauneonga Lake is our happy place. There are so many wonderful memories. SO many stories embedded in the essence of the house. So much laughter, and some tears. So much of my being was formed by events that occurred in that house. I would not be who I am if I had not spent my summers there.

I close my eyes and see the many outside activities that reside in my mind’s eye: croquet, bocce, baseball, running in the rain, watching the stars.   Each memory is a delight. My grandfather was colorblind, each year we never knew what color the furniture would be: a crazy quilt of chairs and tables. Sitting around on brightly painted wooden lawn furniture discussing whatever topic we decided.

My grandparents’ laughter; my parents’ commands; my brother’s and sister’s voices; the house resonates in sounds of love.

And then we walk down West Shore Road to where my grandparents’ bungalow colony once stood, we do not miss out on memories. We pass what used to be Kauneonga Park, the Fink’s bungalow colony, home to our grandparent’s good friends, Sidney and Bertha. The colony has changed now, but in my mind I see them and the way it was when I was a child or a teen. We also pass the White Lake Homes. If we walk through the streets there we can pass the home of Nan, a friend of my grandmother’s who was always embroidering tablecloths.

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Further along was the house of a friend of mine. His house abutted the Lake. Now there are giant homes there. But in my mind I still see the little homes.

We pass Cooper Drive…so many memories there as well, with friends who stayed there over the years. Then we walk on to the area where our bungalow colony once stood.   Now two of our cousins have homes there. Although some of the original bungalows no longer exist, houses stand in their places.

Our cousins are part of our childhood. We had so many adventures together. We grew up in the heyday of the Catskills: the 50s, 60s and 70s.   No one can take that joy away from us. We are more than just cousins. Our summers in the Catskills made us so close. We were more like siblings. And sometimes we bicker like siblings. But we share the joy of being in the Catskills.

We will share meals and memories with our cousins. We will sit by the beach and perhaps go out on a boat. The children, not us, but our adult children, will go boating and jet skiing and waterskiing. And now there are grandchildren to watch as they learn to love the Lake and the Catskills.

I CAN NOT Wait!

This time next week I will be getting ready to drive up to the Catskills. My heart is already singing with joy.