Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer 2014 Presidential Campaign Update

No. 7 in a Series

865 Days Until the 2016 Presidential Election

Of course the campaign has not officially begun, but no one informed the news media.

Republican Primary Bombshell and Another Less Rattling Result

The biggest political news story recently was the surprise defeat marking the end of the political career of Eric Cantor, Republican House Majority leader, by the people of his Virginia district. I will not rehash the analysis of his demise. Suffice it to say it is a sign of these chaotic political times.

Then there is the continued dominance of the great Senator from Mississippi who fought back a well-funded Tea Party contender backed by many Tea Party big shots, including Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. The old guy prevailed, although at the time of writing Chris McDaniel refused to concede, claiming voting issues and possible fraud.

I am not a fan of the Tea Party, or the ole Miss Senator. Probably neither guy should be in the Great House, but of course no one asked my advice or opinion.

I think geezers like Cochran who have been around for decades - he was first elected in 1972 - should take a good look in the mirror and admit it is time to pass the torch to a younger generation.

These primaries do not have anything to do directly with the Presidential campaign, but set the stage for the Republican Presidential primary battles ahead of us.

Hillary Sells Books...and Hillary

Meanwhile the Democrats' possible future standard bearer, Hillary Clinton, kept busy lately making the rounds of bookstores promoting her book.

Hillary's story is one many of us can relate to.

Poor girl, after her hub left his last job the family was in a tough financial spot. The big bucks he was going to reap on the talk circuit, the books he would write, and consulting gigs would not be enough to finance their life style.

She had to go back to work.

And she did, running for public office, winning elections and receiving a respectable paycheck, rescuing her family from economic distress. Then she landed a prestigious position with a former opponent.

Eventually the stress of working and traveling became difficult. Hillary quit her job and, following in her husband's footsteps, went on the speaking circuit, earning a few bucks. She decided to write about her reentry into the work world and now travels the country visiting bookstores, selling books and patiently smiling at folks while signing purchases, realizing these could be future votes should she once again return to work, this time succeeding her ex-boss.

She may decide not to pursue the job. After all, Hillary will soon be a Grandma. The responsibilities of that job, along with speaking engagements and additional writing opportunities, will eat up a lot of her time. I am not sure she will have enough time and energy remaining for the rest of us.

In Pursuit of Any Politician

Politics are on my mind because I will spend the weekend in the Great City inside the Beltway, a.k.a. Washington, D.C. The political maneuvering, the bickering, the corruption, the shenanigans, the secret dealings, frustrate, appall and fascinate observers.

I would love to spot one or two or three or more of these movers and shakers. Unfortunately I doubt that will happen, for a number of reasons.

     * It is a weekend. Politicians do not normally work overtime weekends, unless campaigning or fundraising.

     * It is summer. Politicians take a lot of time off in the summer, unless campaigning or fundraising.

     * The fall of Eric Cantor sent fear down the spines of politicians who rarely visit their constituency, unless campaigning or fundraising. They are returning home to renew relationships with voters.

   * A lot of tourists are in town. Politicians do not like to be accosted by 'the people' if they can help it.

     * Washington gets very hot and humid in the summer. Smart and sane residents, locals and politicians, leave town.

On the other hand, maybe I am being too pessimistic. Maybe I will see some politicians. After all, a lot of them are not the smart or sane ones.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Life As Usual?

Following one more Spirit Air trip on a packed flight to Florida, hub and I picked up a rental car, collected our grandson, and took off on the open road.

An expensive road. The Florida Turnpike.


But it is the shortest route to Atlanta, Georgia.

618 miles is not exactly a short trip. No one in the car wanted to pile on extra mileage to save a few dollars, which would not be a great saving considering the additional miles driven.

Anyway, summer road trip!

The open road is not as open as it used to be. Traffic moves along, but the constant flow of belching trucks, cars cutting across lanes, and pickups laden with everything from greenery to guns lays siege to the driver intent on simply driving along, hoping to get from point A to point B intact.

We made a quick stop at what is probably the largest service plaza in the country. The ladies' room was definitely the largest I ever patronized, the rows of stalls endless. On the positive side there was no queue, unlike the rest of the building where lines backed up behind the usual cadre of fast food vendors.

In case anyone is interested in seeing this phenomenon of modern highway architecture with their own eyes, it is located on the Florida Turnpike south of Orlando, nine miles south of Yeehaw Junction.

I love that name - Yeehaw Junction. You know you are in the south when signs announce Yeehaw Junction a few miles ahead.

The landscape surrounding the highway becomes marred with billboards when crossing the Georgia border, most touting guns, ammo, and more guns, fast food restaurants, and a variety of Church messages.

After several days in Atlanta, we will continue travelling home to the Jersey shore via Washington D.C. to show our grandson the sights - he has never been to our capital city - and my attendance at the NSNC (National Society of Newspaper Columnists) conference.

Sometimes a plan comes together.

And then a unique, temporary happening.

I will be home. And back to life as usual.

What happens when finally home?

I look around the house and realize there are things to do. Lots of things. Many I planned to tackle last year, but never did. I created a list of around-the-house to-do's to complete during the cold winter months cocooned indoors, activities like organizing shelves of knick knacks, cleaning cabinets, and de-cluttering closets.

I think about doing those things, but the ambition, the motivation, the get up and go, seems to have got up and went, perhaps permanently.

I look forward to food shopping, preparing meals, and enjoying a summer of visiting relatives and friends.

It is finally barbecue season, time to savor coffee in the morning on the front porch and dinner on the picnic table in the backyard, assuming the weather cooperates.

Life as usual.

Sounds nice.

I can't wait.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Singing The Birthday Blues

With apologies to Sir Paul McCartney

Today I turn 64.

I am not normally depressed or dispirited when the calendar rolls into June, marking another landmark birthday. I reached 30, 40, then 50, and even 60 with acceptance, gratitude (beats the alternative), and a good dinner.

This years birth date is different.

And it is all Sir Paul's fault.

I was doing fine aging, if not with grace, with a sense of the inevitability and relentlessness of the phenomenon.

But that song. That one particular song rewinds continuously in my mind, a few words altered to fit my life.

When I'm 64...

Now that Im older coloring my hair
Started years and years ago
Will you continue to send a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
Dont worry wont be out till three
In my warm bed Ill be
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
After Im sixty-four?

My granddaughter told me I am shrinking. I do not agree. I am not shrinking - yet. Actually, she is the one changing.

All of seven years of age, she notices these things, but does not always realize the reasons for the differences. The distance between the top of my head and hers decreased since the last time we were together. One day our heads will meet and then she will surpass me, continuing her upward ascension. By then I probably will be shrinking. She will look down on me and I will look up at her.

But hopefully that occurrence remains years away.

Today I am 64.

I am still handy, tending a dish
When our tummys growl
I can buy us sweaters for the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will anyone need me, will anyone feed me
Past age sixty-four?

64 is not considered a milestone birthdate.

It does not mark the opportune time when I can collect full Social Security.

I still have another year until Medicare eligibility.

Traditional retirement age is 65.

I already qualify for senior discounts at the movies, some stores and New Jersey mass transit, but must pay full price for a seasonal beach pass one more year.

I have had my AARP card much too long already.

Turning 65 is such a momentous event in our society there is a checklist to ensure the transition is completed as easily and seamlessly as possible.

Nothing seems to change at 64.

Except that song...

I met a friend for lunch the other day. On her birthday. We are planning a joint celebration marking next years auspicious birthdays.

I will start looking for our special occasion song.

Meanwhile, enjoy Sir Paul and the Beatles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Unfortunately I Am What I Eat

I am currently reading Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss, an exposé on how the major food companies worked very hard in the mid-20th century to convert Americans, and then the rest of the world, into processed food junkies.

They succeeded.

It is understandable women of the1950s bought into the easy-to-prepare food mystique. Post-World War II America changed family life. Convenience foods - a term coined in the early 1950s by General Foods CEO Charles Mortimer - was key to minimizing women's time in the kitchen.

It is hard to imagine how our forebears survived without such staples as soda, ready-to-eat frozen foods like pizza, packaged cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals - the list goes on and on.

The pendulum is slowly moving away from diets composed mainly of processed foods to more real food as researchers connect the dots concerning rising obesity rates, increasing heart disease and other illnesses, and the long-term ingestion of sugar, salt, fat, and chemical additives.

Not that natural, home made foods were always the healthiest way to go. My grandmother used chicken fat (schmaltz to Grandma) in place of healthier alternatives. Old World living - customs transferred to the New World - required the use of every available food item, no waste their mantra. So stuffed intestines (stuffed derma, a.k.a. kishka) appeared on the dinner table. And chopped (chicken) liver - in more upscale homes and restaurants called pate - a dish I still indulge in, sometimes store bought and occasionally made from scratch in my kitchen.

Scrapple, composed of pig scraps, and other animal parts, like brains and pig's stomach, are still displayed in sparkling meat counters in food stores and farmers markets in my old hometown in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Grandma made the best steak fries, cutting thick slices of potatoes and immersing them in oil until golden brown. Delicious, but hardly nutritious or healthy.

Eating out - which I do too often - complicates attempts to eat healthy. You never know all the ingredients in prepared dishes. Hidden calories, chemicals, and flavor enhancers are an integral part of today's restaurant meals.

I have another weakness shared with many Americans, a vulnerability exploited by food companies.

I eat too much. The industry calls this supersizing, akin to refilling your plate or buying (and eating) a huge steak or cutting (and eating) a large piece of cake because you can.

A byproduct of our prosperous lifestyle.

Scientists tell us people eons ago ate a lot of food so their bodies could store energy for lean times.

We have no lean food times.

There are people who cannot afford food for their families, but most of us are fortunate enough to fill our shopping carts.

I was never a total processed food junkie. I bought a baby food grinder when my boys were babies and made baby food. No jars of sugar-laden, chemically enhanced food for them.

But we were like most American family, indulging in pizza (a.k.a. fat, sugars, salt, carbs) Sunday nights - the local pizza store offered Sunday specials.

Dessert (cookies, cake, ice cream) regularly appeared on the table.

Burgers and fries were food staples.

Meanwhile one son became a vegetarian and the other carefully watches his diet.

I diet too, all the time, without results, and consider not gaining weight a victory.

I stock forbidden foods when the grandkids descend.

And they are coming soon.

I need kid-friendly cereal, brownie mix, chips (I will buy the veggie kind), peanut butter and jelly, juice (100% real), packaged macaroni and cheese - Annie's organic, probably containing some unreal food stuff. I refuse to carefully read the label to find out.

Sometimes ignorance is an essential Grandma and Grandpa trait.

The kids like chicken nuggets, and I will buy a pack made with real chicken along with other ingredients not found in my kitchen. I never heard of chicken nuggets when I was a kid in the processed food deprived, but quickly changing, faux food desert of the early 1950s.

Ice cream will be the most vital item stocked, different flavors to satisfy the desires of kids and adults alike. And, of course, the trip to the neighborhood Ice Cream Parlor on warm summer nights is mandatory.

These are food staples of modern life.

I will sneak in fresh fruit and veggies.

Please do not tell the major food companies. I might be kidnapped and force fed sugar, salt and fat laced with chemical additives.

Before you know it I will be an adult junk food junkie.

And I don't think there is a cure.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Roads Too Many Take

The poet Robert Frost wrote eloquently of the road not taken. He was not talking about modern highways, but could have been.

I wish more people opted for the road not taken. It would make certain road trips easier.  Specifically drives along I-95, the highway too many take from Maine through East Coast states ending in south Florida, and passing through some of the most populous areas in the country, and the world.

Like New York City.

Once again hub and I packed the car and took off on the not-so-open road, a thoroughfare packed with cars, construction trucks, mounds of dirt and concrete, and assorted traffic-related annoyances.

Ambulances blaring sirens.

Electronic billboards silently shouting messages in brightly colored hues.

Road signs, lights, detours, and lots and lots of BFTs - big f**king trucks.

Overhead electronic signs indicate drive time to specific landmarks. Everyone wants to know how long they will be sitting in traffic. The sign changed as we watched, adding minutes to the already long wait through the great New York City borough of the Bronx. But I am getting ahead of myself...

We began the drive in our quiet, sedate south Jersey hometown. I could begin by describing the pristine scenery and interesting sights passed.

Except we were driving through New Jersey.

The southern end of Jersey has scenic sanctuaries, such as farms, this time of year brimming with almost-ripe blueberries and an assortment of luscious looking vegetables. Wineries began springing up about a decade ago and now grapevines dot the landscape. The forested Pinelands, small towns, retirement villages and shore communities complete the landscape.

But that is not the scenery observed this trip.

Heading north on the Garden State Parkway, concrete barriers and construction equipment greeted us. The parkway is being widened from two to three lanes, and miles of construction debris line the roadway.

I cannot, however, verify with my own eyes that work is being done. I did not actually see construction equipment and trucks moving. I did not see any workers.

It was not raining, it was a weekday, and as far as I know was not a holiday.

Maybe the state is waiting for federal money to complete the job?

Maybe Governor Christie intends to balance the budget by delaying some of the work into the next fiscal year.

Or maybe they were all on a break. At the same time. Along the length of the highway.

There is a silver lining to driving the Garden State. Trucks are banned. I love not having to drive behind, around, or in front of BFTs.

The iconic New York State highway maven of the mid-twentieth century, Robert Moses, designed parkways for cars only. Moses insured the policy by building bridges too low for trucks. The roads are immune to the exhortations of trucking companies and politicians to change the status quo.

I return to the Garden State.

Because of the massive construction project there was no bucolic landscape to write about.

Ever hear of an exit to a service plaza but no return to the highway? No signs indicated the on-ramp back to the road was blocked by - what else? - traffic cones and construction equipment.

The service plaza is probably the only one anywhere on a limited access highway with an exit to local streets. It is a secret means of accessing local roads on a need-to-know basis.

We meandered through area streets and returned to the highway at the next entrance.

Thank goodness for a GPS.

Driving north, Jersey green turns into suburban sprawl and city madness in the form of multi-lane highways, more billboards, more traffic, lots more BFTs, more exits offering merging nightmares, and murkier air. Alongside roads a continuous stream of malls large and small, fast food restaurants, big box stores, apartment buildings, car dealerships, and an unending network of roads boggle the mind.  

Pretty it is not.

Interesting only to engineers and developers intent on building more.

It cost $13 for the privilege of crossing the Hudson River from New Jersey to New York State via the George Washington Bridge.

George Washington would be flabbergasted. Highway robbery. At least we missed Christie's Bridgegate fiasco.

The best - or worst - now faced us.

The highlight of any I-95 trip through New York City is crawling along the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Apartment buildings sit astride the highway on overpasses.

Underneath traffic inches along.

We stopped for dinner (the seafood platter at Artie's on City Island was great!) because we were hungry and, more important, to pass the time while clogged roads unclogged during rush hour.

No one rushes anywhere.

Back on the road, traffic moved at a steady senior pace, the speed senior citizens drive in Florida.

 There were still a lot of BFTs on the road.

We finally stopped for the night along the road, dropping a few bucks at a motel.

Our goal is to reach our destination - Cape Cod - before Friday afternoon traffic jams make crossing from the mainland to the Cape on a two lane bridge an exercise in frustration and dangerously rising blood pressure.

Why,  you might ask, are we subjecting ourselves to this craziness?

In one word: family.

Maybe the Tea Party's infrastructure policy has its merits. No money for maintenance, no money for new roads, no money for construction jobs, and eventually current roads will go to pot(holes) and we will have to stay closer to home.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make My Day

My bouquet
 My day did not begin well. The alarm rang a few minutes after 6:00 a.m., forcing me to open my eyes and acknowledge a new day before the rest of my body was ready.

Travel, babysitting, minor aches and pains, and laziness kept me from the gym for over a month. It was time to renew a relationship with my local fitness center.

Reluctantly rising from my warm, comfortable bed, I threw on some gym clothes and in less than 20 minutes was out the door.

I arrived at class a few minutes early and greeted fellow fitness enthusiasts and early risers.

The appointed hour came and the minutes ticked away.

No instructor appeared.

We waited.

And waited.

No one was around to complain to or question. Office staff strolls in after 8:00 a.m.

The instructor never showed. I learned later she was out of town and the substitute apparently forgot. She probably never set her alarm.

The early hour could not be squandered. I worked out in the gym.

On the way home I stopped at a small local supermarket to purchase a snack promised for an afternoon meeting. As I walked out clutching my two bags of groceries an employee (I knew he worked at the store because of his logo shirt) handed me a bouquet of flowers.

“Here, these are for you. We do this occasionally. Have a good day!”

Taken by surprise, I hesitantly accepted the flowers. “Thank you. You made my day!”

It doesn’t take much to make my day!

Armed with cookies for the meeting and flowers for me, I went home and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.

And speaking (or more accurately, writing) of breakfast…

The average time it takes most people to eat breakfast, according to recent research, is 12 minutes.

Now that I no longer leave the house bright and early every morning for an office, I can take more than 12 minutes for breakfast. A lot more. And I usually do.

Across the pond the Brits spend even less time on breakfast – 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Most people do not bother sitting down, opting to eat standing. At least some Englishmen and women eat. Half the people surveyed do not consume any breakfast at all.

Sometimes, like this morning, my leisurely breakfast fritters away half the morning. I eat slowly, linger over coffee, scan the local paper (a real printed newspaper), check news online, and read emails.


I scrambled to do the few things I wanted to accomplish before heading out to my meeting.

But it was all OK. I received a bouquet of flowers this morning.

And I had a good day. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Beauty Salons and Me, My Hair and My Nails

Lounging in a large, comfortable chair at the beauty salon yesterday, luxuriating in a manicure and pedicure, I pondered the deep philosophical questions women occasionally contemplate:

Is this experience decadent?
Should I feel guilty?
Should I enjoy this pleasure, reassuring myself it is a necessity for my health and well-being?
Should I feel good pumping currency into a recovering economy and helping others support their families?
Or should I shun such extravagance, no matter how reasonable the cost?

I won a gift certificate at a charity event about three years ago. As a result I discovered my neighborhood beauty salon, hair stylist and go-to manicurist/pedicurist.

I am a latecomer to the beauty salon and its treats.

Over the decades it was tough finding someone to cut and style my hair. Most stylists had difficulty taming my thick, curly mane. When I found someone, she (once it was a he) either:
-       *   got married and left town,
-       *   got pregnant and quit the business for a few years,
-       *   got fired for unknown reasons,
-      *    the salon went out of business and the stylist relocated to another salon miles from my home,
-       *   retired,
-       *   or I moved.

And when the inevitable time came to color the gray, I did it myself. For years. Eventually the task became overwhelming and dye got all over the bathroom. It sometimes stains.

Now a stylist colors my hair.

As for nails, I did my own for years, and not very well. Usually I did not do anything. My nails were just there. They always chip and break, yet manicurists tell me they are strong and in excellent health. I wish my doctor said the same about the rest of my body…

Hub was ignorant of the whole nail thing before I became a regular. The first time he noticed a sign proclaiming ‘Nails’ he thought it was a hardware store.

Women have always desired pretty nails. Trimmed and polished nails have been a symbol of wealth and aristocracy since ancient times. The Egyptians and Indians (from India the country, not native Americans) polished their nails with henna. Any color sanctioned by Egyptian royalty was not allowed to grace the nails of common folk. Legend asserts Cleopatra sported red nails.

Long nails were a status symbol in China, distinguishing the non-working upper classes from toiling common folk. Nail color disclosed a woman’s status. Gold and silver indicated royalty, while commoners were limited to pale colors.

The quest for beautiful nails became an obsession in certain European circles during the nineteenth century.

Manicures gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1920s with the invention of practical nail care instruments and nail polish.

Nail care became a requirement for the fashion conscious.

Pedicures were a late arrival on the nail care scene, probably because open toed shoes were not worn frequently and long skirts, socks and stockings masked ugly feet.  And pedicures – as well as manicures - were expensive.

But the linking of cheap labor and a smart American woman changed everything.

One solution to lowering costs is outsourcing jobs overseas. But there are jobs problematic to outsource.

It is difficult to ship our nails overseas.

A much-maligned war and a Hollywood actress solved the dilemma by providing affordable manicures and pedicures for women (and men, too) right here in the good ole USA.

It all began when thousands of Vietnamese refugees entered the U.S. following the fall of Saigon in 1975, marking the end of the Vietnam War.

Tippi Hedren, actress (remember Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds?) and philanthropist, visited a refugee camp in California representing the charitable organization Food for the Hungry. She knew the immigrants needed working skills fast, preferably an occupation where knowledge of the English language was not essential. The women admired Hedren’s long, beautifully polished nails, and she realized these women could quickly learn manicure skills. She provided training and helped the refugees secure jobs.

The rest, as the saying goes, is history. The Vietnamese converted a luxury only a minority could enjoy into a reasonably priced habit most American women could afford.

By 2012, 80% of manicurists in California were Vietnamese, and 45% throughout the country were Vietnamese.

Eventually low priced salons reached my town, and I took advantage of the opportunity to obtain and sustain decent nails.

Good for the economy and immigrants, bad for traditional salon professionals, the debate rages. But times change…

Meanwhile, I confess my manicurist is not of Vietnamese heritage. Born and raised in Turkey, daughter of an American father and Turkish mother, she went to beauty school when arriving in the U.S. at the tender age of 20. She now owns a salon.

And she does a great job. I am happy, she is happy, and that is what it is all about.

I will continue to pump cash into the economy, although not as frequently as my manicurist would like.

But we regularly keep in touch.

And who needs a pedicure in the North over the winter? I wear really cute socks. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Slimmer and Trimmer in Ten Minutes

A new machine can make you look better – slimmer and trimmer – in just ten minutes. No sweat.

Not that you do not look good now.  But in America everyone wants to look better.

This new contraption wraps around the waist, bursts fat cells and shrinks the body in strategic places.

All in as little as ten minutes.

But clearly a body would look even better with a twenty-minute session.

Supposedly prominent and respected doctors across the country looking for a few more bucks to beef up their bank account use this gadget in their office, advertising (wrong word – doctors are not supposed to advertise, but what else do you call the publicity and propaganda?) a slimmer, trimmer figure in as little as ten minutes.

Following a few more sessions, the user will look noticeably slimmer and trimmer. Keep it up and a person may disappear.

At a minimum of $200 a session, that’s real dough. Dietetic, of course.

Rachel Ray previewed the device on her show.  The name alone sounds enticing and promising: The LiLa Strawberry Laser.


It is not recommended for the obese or even the overweight amongst us. It is more likely to work wonders, according to its proponents, on those already in decent shape who want to look even better.

Lose that teeny-weeny belly and trim the waist. An inch here…an inch there…and suddenly you are model material!

I am not sure what kind of model, but use your imagination.

I would be a marvelous model for sleek granny pants, an oversized top that hugs the hips, and a pair of sleek, sexy sandals with a high heel, as long as the pictures are taken within a couple of days of a pedicure. And do not expect me to actually walk in those sandals. Sit, stand up, and maybe turn around. Of course the photographer would be forbidden from shooting close ups of any body part.

Think about the possibilities and how this machine could change your life.

Forget about eating healthy foods, exercising, or any tiresome stuff that takes time and effort.

Shell out a few bucks, hop on a machine and watch the inches melt away.

Stopping by a doctor’s office every week or so could become a part of everyone’s regular routine.

If so inclined, purchase a LiLaStrawberry Laser and whittle away the fat in the privacy of your own home. The machines cost anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, but what is another monthly payment for the next decade or two or three compared to the satisfaction of owning and using your very own fat zapper?

And if you get tired of it you can convert the device into a clothes rack, just like stationary bikes and treadmills.

Only this will be a more upscale, expensive rack – call it a wardrobe valet stand.

That will impress family and friends!

Unfortunately my pocketbook precludes a purchase of this machine in the near or far future. And, for the same reason, I am going to forego visits to a doctor’s office to be zapped. I have not checked, but suspect my insurance company will not pay for the procedures. And, although I admit this reluctantly, I have a few extra pounds preventing me from being an ideal candidate for this particular treatment.

I will have to stick with healthy eating and exercise.

If any reader opts for the procedure, let me know what happens. Send before and after pictures. I would love to see the results! 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Another Journey Home, Sweet Home

 The trip home from grandsitting in Florida was unexciting - thankfully - except for a short detour during the security process.

I was alone, hub jetting off on a business trip while I traveled home.

The airport security line was short and moved quickly. I placed my backpack on the scanner belt, took my shoes off, placed them along with a couple of bracelets and my small pocketbook in a bin, and walked through the body-scanning machine.

No bells or whistles went off, and no TSA men or women waved me aside.

I went to retrieve my backpack and other items, eager to move on to my departure gate.

A TSA agent held my backpack high and looking at me said, “Is this yours?”


“We have to examine it. Move over here,” pointing to an area at the end of the scanning belt.

“Have anything sharp in here? A knife?”

“No.” Honestly, I don’t think so, I thought, but I don’t remember everything any more.

The security guy carefully searched my bag, opening various compartments and moving stuff around.

I had no suitcase, either carry on or checked baggage. I was flying Spirit. No suitcase, no extra fee. I stash some clothes and makeup in Florida with the grandkids. My backpack – my free carry-on – holds everything else I need for a particular trip, including my iPad, a couple of books, and additional clothes.

Dirty laundry occupied the largest pouch in the backpack. I wondered what TSA guy thought of my dirty clothes as he rifled through the bag.

Suddenly he triumphantly held up a water bottle. “You know you can’t take this with you.”

“Oh, I forgot about that. My grandkids.”

I had taken the backpack to the pool the day before, stocked with water bottles and a few other necessities. I obviously did not do a good job emptying the bag before packing for the trip home.

TSA guy continued, “You can go back out of security, empty the bottle and then come back through with the water bottle.”

The process did not appeal. I was prepared to say good-bye to the cheap plastic container.

“That’s OK. I don’t need it. Keep it.” And I continued down the corridor to my gate.

The rest of the trip continued uneventfully.

And finally I was home. Sweet home.