Friendly reminder

As we await Scott’s arrival from a mission trip on a late night United flight from Denver, I thought it would be helpful for each of us to be reminded of some basic rules for success in the travel realm of life.

I really do wish I had a record of when this classic list was first created; I’m thinking it was after the infamous international peanut butter trip, which was probably in about 2013 or 2014. At some subsequent time, Katie sent the following reminder to Scott, which I finally saved (with gratitude) in a Word document dated February 26, 2017.

At this time, let us all take a moment to once again consider with deep appreciation…

Katie’s Rules of Air Travel

“Given your recent experiences, I thought you might be able to use a friendly reminder of these basic rules.

  1. Never fly.
  2. If you must fly between December and February, don’t fly. Driving, biking, hitchhiking, and jetskiing are all better options.
  3. Never check a bag, unless it is completely unavoidable, in which case you should find a way to avoid it.
  4. Never fly United.
  5. Never fly on the last flight of the day.
  6. Peanut butter is a liquid.

You’re welcome.”

It’s now 9:37 PM, and Scott’s flight initially scheduled to arrive at 11:17 PM has now been delayed to 11:37 PM. He is only in violation of Rules #1, #3, #4, and #5.

And so we wait.

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“Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight”

Although we don’t have any pets – haven’t had any since I was a young single with my potty-trained cat, Jessie – I honestly have nothing against pets or people who love them. I promise! Our family had one dog (Peanuts, the beagle) WAY back in the day, followed by a couple of hamsters and then another dog (Pepper, our much-beloved Chihuahua/Peekapoo mix) in my junior high, high school, and college days. Actually I admire anyone’s willingness to do all it takes to keep and care for a cat or a dog. Personally, one husband and four kids pretty much maxed me out, but I know and am quite fond of many people who are truly passionate about their pets.

I work out at CoxHealth Fitness Center in Branson, which is located inside the Branson RecPlex. As I prepare to turn into the RecPlex of a morning, I always glance at the light-up sign out at the street. The second half of August is a mini off-season in our fair town, and for the past couple weeks the light-up sign has had a notice that the Aqua-Plex (glorified swimming pool with slides and such, and whose lifeguards, by the way, are summarily derided as less than competent by certain White Water lifeguards; guards who should probably remain nameless, but who are currently sophomores at MSU) is open only on weekends. That’s old news and obvious because with school starting, local families can’t swim during the week, and tourist families are not here at all. But yesterday the light-up sign sported some new news:

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it all now!

Maybe this is the last hurrah before they drain the pool? Maybe I’ll get to watch their ACME robotic pool vac suck up dog hair while I’m pumping the elliptical on Tuesday morning, September 3.

Befuddled

I like to send birthday and anniversary cards to people I care about, and, being old school, I use the kind that are printed on cardstock; the kind you put a stamp on and send via “snail” mail. However, most of the time I write my cards a month at a time and put sticky notes on them, telling me which day to mail them. That system works well for me because I can pull out my cards and labels and stamps, get on a roll, write the whole next month’s collection of cards in a couple hours, and then not think about doing them again for several weeks. It’s not that I don’t think about the people; I just don’t think about the cards. Well, I do re-read each card the night before I mail it. And I often pray for the person.

Anyway, I did my September cards today. Finishing my cards by the 25th of the month and balancing my checkbook on the 7th are two of my highly satisfying monthly events. I thought I was done with cards when I got to the end of September, but I flipped to October, just to make sure there weren’t any birthdays or anniversaries in the first few days of the month. When there are, and when I forget to flip my Monster Grid paper wall calendar to check the next month, I end up writing those cards late and mailing them late, and then they don’t get to the special person till after his or her special day. Bummer.

It turns out that I do have a friend with a birthday on October 1, so I was relieved that I had flipped, but as I looked over the October calendar, I saw something very strange. October 2 said “Patty Roberts #59,” but October 2 is NOT my birthday! Each year, usually some time in late December or very early January, depending on when our kids are here – being with them is always my priority – I transfer all the birthdays and anniversaries from the old calendar to the new one. Obviously, in January of 2019, I did not remember my own birthday! Silly me, but my trusty STAPLES Correction Tape saved the day. Hopefully my own birthday is the only one that was wrong this year.

Cool as a cucumber

And I don’t even like cucumbers.

I had trouble sleeping last night, and I think it was because I was hot. In my current season of my life I get to deal with hot flashes and night sweats, so at 2:30 AM, I set the AC down from 76 to 75 and eventually got back to sleep. However, when I woke up, our room still seemed awfully warm. Turns out it was 82 downstairs, even though the thermostat was set at 75 and the air conditioner was running. Something was wrong.

I called our trusty heat and air guys at 7:50 AM, and they told me they were heading out to do an attic install (can you imagine? the high today was forecast to be 96!) and said they could come at 9:00 tomorrow morning. That was OK with me. I figured I could turn on the attic unit, which hasn’t been running since Andrew went back to college, and it would do fine in the second floor for a day and a night. i’d just minimize my time on the first floor.  = )

I was pleasantly surprised when Brett and Dan showed up at 2:30 PM, having gotten their attic install far enough along to give their other customers air (they’ll finish it up tomorrow), and decided to come by our house. Super nice guys. Ministry supporters too. Scott had told me that that unit shouldn’t need major service because it wasn’t very old. He was half right. A capacitor – actually only one half of a capacitor, the fan half – had gone bad, and it was a quick and minor repair. I am so thankful. However, they checked the serial number on the unit, and it was dated 2002! That puppy is 17 years old!

I’ve found this time/memory disconnect to be an interesting aspect of being in one’s fifties, especially where appliances are concerned. I know it’s not just me, because it clearly affects Scott too. For example, it seems like we got our “new” fridge just a few years ago, maybe three or four, but it’s probably been more like seven or eight. And I know we had to replace the stove a while ago. I’m pretty sure that was shortly before the Browns moved back to Delaware, which should definitely be five years ago, max, but now that I think about it, it’s probably more like seven. (I just dug out the owner’s manual; we bought that stove in 2010, NINE years ago!) It’s clear that time keeps speeding up. I don’t know how that works, but Josiah could probably explain it to me; physics and the expanding universe and the relationship between energy and matter and time…

Anyway, today I’m really thankful that we’re blessed to have air conditioning and speedy heat and air service men. I’m not quite as cool as a cucumber, but the temp in here just passed 80 on the way down.

This is unbelievable

I’m creating a new category today, a new option of how to label my blog posts.

I have a whole string of them – Travel, Community, Gardening, Vehicles, Government, etc. – because I’m nerdy-organized about stuff like that, but I’m adding a new one called Unbelievable, which I will use to label all my posts, including this one, about things that make me say, “Just when you think you’ve seen it all…”

I will freely admit that I am a podcast junkie. I get that genetically on my mom’s side. When I was a kid and teen, she used to listen to Christian radio broadcasts like Focus on the Family, Phyllis Schlafly, and American Family Association. A generation and-a-half later, I like to listen to podcasts when I’m working around the house and when I’m driving. I have quite a collection of them loaded on my phone, and on many shows it’s common for the host to take a break during the program to read an ad for some company that is sponsoring that day’s show.

There’s a lot of overlap in these ads. Just like we used to hear the same ads over and over on radio and like we see the same commercials over and over on TV, I hear many of the same ads over and over on podcasts. I’ve heard about Away (luggage), Ben & Jerry’s (ice cream), Blinkist (book condensations), Bombas (socks), Brooklinen (sheets), Care Of (supplements), Casper (mattresses), Daily Harvest (snacks), Harry’s (shaving supplies), Madison Reed (hair color), MeUndies (underwear), Phlur (perfumes), Prep Dish (meals), Third Love (bras), and Zip Recuiter (hiring) many times on various podcasts, but today on Grammar Girl, I heard a new one that beats everything I’ve ever heard.

Now you can buy a DNA test, actually the best DNA test, for… I could not believe this… dogs.

That’s right. The company is called Embark. I looked up their website, and for a mere $199 (with free shipping), you too can have your dog’s DNA tested.

Sweet Georgia Peaches! I’ve surely seen it all now.

Better than Burrowsville*

I drove to North Little Rock this week to visit my parents for a few days. We had a wonderful time, just relaxing, talking with each other, reminiscing, and eating things like ham and hash brown casserole and of course chocolate chip ice cream; for Mom and Dad there are no other flavors. We enjoyed a meal at Gadwall’s Grill, and David and Dad did much research and analysis and gave me their combined wisdom (that’s a lot of wisdom!) about the details involved in replacing my ailing, chronically lost iPhone with an Android specimen. It was a great trip, and I’m so glad I got to see all of my family of origin.

I do collect town squares, so before I headed south, I checked my [GASP!] paper map to see if I could maybe snag another town square on the way. I had never thought about the fact that Highway 65 goes directly through four county seats: Harrison, Marshall, Clinton, and Conway. I’ve seen Harrison’s town square (very nice), Clinton’s would be a bit off the beaten path, probably west of the highway(?), and by the time I’d get to Conway, I’d just want to get on I-40 and finish up, so I thought about Marshall. How was it that I couldn’t remember ever turning off 65 to explore Marshall? Of course, I ‘d been to the Daisy Queen and Harp’s grocery and that ultra-foul, incredibly nasty gas station restroom (it’s closed for remodeling now) and McDonald’s and Subway, and back in the day when the kids were young we had a tradition of stopping for lunch at Pizza Hut’s pizza buffet, but even though I’ve whizzed through Marshall at 40 mph more than 75 times – what with visiting family and floating the Buffalo and such – I’d never actually gotten off Highway 65.

This time I did.

It was about noon and very hot and humid. My car thermometer said 99, and we later heard that the heat index was 113, so I didn’t do an extensive reconnoiter, but I did drive around the square twice, and I did take a picture of the courthouse. (I place a high priority on documenting my town square visits, at least in writing and preferably with photographic proof.)

 Searcy County Courthouse

I then walked around a little neighborhood, saw a log cabin in the middle of “town,”

and found a weird old building with iron bars on all the windows. It looks like it’s maybe being renovated, but I wonder if it may have at one time been the county jail.

Searcy County jail

Mystery building

Well, hot dog in the fog! Check this out!

And then when I saw that Highway 27 sign on the corner, I thought… well, I bet Katie can guess what I thought. It was along the lines of, “I wonder where Highway 27 goes,” so I decided to find out. It quickly wound out into the country, the road was nice (standard two-lane, slightly curvy, slightly hilly), and the scenery in those parts is so lovely that all you can say is, “Ahhhh.” I could’ve kept going, but it occurred to me that I had no idea where Highway 27 would end up, so I pulled off and looked at my official Arkansas Highway Department map ‘o joy and saw that while I needed to travel basically southeast (the way Highway 65 goes), Highway 27 was going basically southwest with a fairly strong emphasis on the west. It was heading out into the I’m sure gorgeous Buffalo River area, from which there would be no way to get back to Highway 65. So I turned around, went back into town, and picked up Highway 65 south to Dennard, Botkinburg, Clinton, Bee Branch, Damascus, Greenbrier, and Conway.

But I made a mental note (which I should probably put in my phone… hmm…) that some day I do want to thoroughly explore Highway 27 southwest out of Marshall.

Although my Marshall town square visit was brief, probably only some 30 minutes total, I was very pleased with the results. And then on my way home a couple days later, I stopped again and actually went inside the Searcy County public library! Now, we all see that blue and white library sign every time we go north through Marshall, and of course we all wonder what that library is like. The sign is hanging there at that stoplight where there’s a stone wall on the left (around a church yard?) so close to the road that we think we’d scrape it if we tried to turn in there. Well, I turned in there and didn’t scrape, even in my hefty Durango. I went a block and, seeing no library or any other pertinent signage, I asked some good old boys who were working on a sewer/paving project where the library was, and they pointed me to it. I didn’t take any pictures of it, but I found this small picture on Wikipedia.

     Searcy County Library    (Wikipedia)

I’m telling you, it was so very delightful. I do love, love, love a small town library. Just does my heart good. This one is funded with a county tax, but it had all the good old time-tested kids books and not so many of the new politically correct ones. Please note that I said “BOOKS.” We’re talking the printed and bound kind with ink on pages that you hold in your hands and read, and they actually had more of those than videos; way to go, Searcy County! I could’ve stayed for an hour, but since I had to get home, I just told the desk clerk how much I liked his library, and hit the road.

All in all, I definitely know more about Marshall than I did. I wish I’d stopped a few decades ago. I wonder what other interesting places I keep driving by and never seeing…

 

* Before the Civil War, Marshall was called Burrowsville.

Record breaking

Some time ago, on a mission trip to India, two of Scott’s checked bags failed to arrive in New Delhi when he did. He had flown United from Chicago to New Delhi and would be flying Air India to another city. Because those bags contained some important and necessary items, and because he was scheduled to fly immediately on to Visakhapatnam, this was a rather significant problem. Of course, it does happen occasionally when he’s flying home, but that is generally no big deal here. At the Springfield airport, he simply reports the bag missing, they tell him it will be in on the next flight, we go home without it, and they deliver it to our door (53 minutes away) the following morning.

Not so in India.

Scott was exhausted and about to finally get to sleep, so he sent me the tag numbers of his two missing checked bags and asked me to contact United’s baggage service to find out when they would arrive.

I called United, and after a 22-minute hold, talked to a real man whose Indian name I could not understand, pronounce, or remember. He could not look up the tag numbers Scott had given me because they were incomplete, but since Scott had (brilliant man!) taken a photo of the claim tags and sent that to me, I was able to get those essential missing first four digits (0016). Whew! The man looked them up, confirmed that they were for Scott Lindsay Roberts, and said that he was not positive, but he thought they had already been handed off to Air India. This was at my 1:23 PM Sunday.

Patty: These are my husband’s bags and he is currently in New Delhi. Will his bags arrive in New Delhi on United 126 today?

Man: Air India will be responsible to get them to Visakhapatnam.

Patty: So he won’t pick them up in New Delhi?

Man: I believe they have already cleared customs. And Air India will get them to Visakhapatnam. You will need to call Air India with further questions.

Lovely.

He gave me a File Reference Number: DELAI24722 and two different phone numbers for Air India: 800-223-7776 and 212-751-6200. He said I would have to give Air India only the last 6 digits of the tag numbers.

I then called the 800 Air India number, and it said my hold time would be 10 minutes. Hoping the other one would be faster, I called it, and it just rang forever and no one answered. So I called back the 800 number, and it again said my hold time would be 10 minutes. I was hopefuI, but my hope was decidedly premature. I then proceeded to be on hold with Air India, not having yet spoken with a person, for 1 hour and 40 minutes (from 1:55 PM till 3:35 PM) – clearly a new record!!

When a woman finally answered, I told her I had two bag ticket numbers and I needed to know where those bags were. I had a VERY hard time understanding her and had to ask her over and over and over again to repeat herself very slowly, but even with that, much of it I still could not understand. (My friend, Debbie, was here at the time – my phone was on speaker – and Debbie said she couldn’t understand ANY of it!)

I gave the lady the two 6-digit numbers, and she asked if she could put me on hold for a few minutes. Really?!? Debbie laughed, I took a deep breath, decided it was an act of faith, and said yes. The lady came back very quickly and said I should give her a phone number and Air India Baggage would call me back.

Patty: Can you tell me where the bags are? Or when they will arrive?

Lady: Air India Baggage is not available. Please give me a phone number and they will call you back.

Patty: [sighing] It’s a United States number. Is that OK?

Lady: Yes, sure, that is fine.

Patty: Here is my number (I gave it to her).

Lady: Is the code 1?

Patty: I don’t know! I think the country code for the U.S. is 1, but I don’t know for sure!

Lady: Yes, that is fine.

Patty: OK, but when can I expect them to call me back?

Lady: They will call you back in 3 to 4 hours.

Patty: So, I guess I will just wait for 3 or 4 hours?

Lady: That is correct. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Patty: No.

Lady: Thank you for calling Air India. Have a good day.

Patty: Thank you.

And we hung up at 3:40 PM Sunday. As of 6:15 PM Sunday, when it had been 2 hours and 35 minutes, they had not yet called back, and in fact, they never did call back.

I can say for a fact that Air India on-hold plays a 15-second “we’re sorry you’re having to wait; we’ll be with you as soon as possible; in the meantime you can visit us online” recording every 40 seconds. I know because I heard that recording 150 times. Literally. I want a medal for breaking the existing on-hold record.


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