Wednesday, September 26, 2012

United Airlines, For Once, PLEASE Pleasantly Surprise Me?

Somehow, considering how much I do not like to fly, I end up flying a lot.  Not like to fly?  Am I afraid that I will crash?  No, not afraid of that.  I am more afraid of the total flight experience.  Here are my top 10 flying peeves:

1.  Packing and not knowing whether I'm best off to cram it in the carry on or pack the big bag.
2.  Getting to the airport early.
3.  Magically Disappearing Seats.
4.  Have my luggage disappear.
5.  Getting delayed.
6.  Getting bumped.
7.  Getting rerouted.
8.  Waiting and knowing how the other half lives.
9.  Trapped in my middle seat.
10. Annoying, rude passengers that their momma's should have taught better.

1.  Let's begin with number 1, the packing.  Sometimes there is a fee for checking.  Sometimes there is a fee for carry on.  Sometimes you sit with your knees in your face because other people have brought on enough carry ons for a traveling sideshow.  If I carry on, I know where my luggage is.  If I carry on, I know where my luggage is because I am lugging it around and racing with it to my connecting flight.

2.  I also hate spending as much time waiting around airports as the length of my total flying time.  Seriously, if you fly from the Bay Area to LA, you could spend more time hanging at the airport and flying than driving in your car.

3.  Seats.  How many times have we booked our family of 5 for a trip, including young children, to arrive at the airport and have our seats magically disappear?  Even if they are on the reservation and the boarding pass, it never fails that my youngest daughter is seated in the middle seat between two men. I am also sitting in the middle seat between two men who have the manners of monkeys, so I am in no position to barter seats or switch.

4.  Our luggage regularly disappears.  We always find it again, but in those gray moments of not having boots and warm coats in minus 20 degree weather, I have been a doubter.  My fondest memories are not composed of late nights in a 24 hour chain department store/supermarket buying toothpaste and underwear after a long day of travel.

5.  Delayed.  Do I need to say more?

6.  Bumped.  When you bump a family of 5 in December right before the holidays, it is very hard to rebook them.  I love spending my days in an airport, waiting.

7.  Rerouted.  Almost more fun than being bumped.  Who doesn't want to be flying into Sacramento instead of San Francisco?  The 3 hour drive at 2 in the morning doesn't even equal 5 hours of sleep when you get home.

8.  Worse yet, I've found that when I travel without my bonus card-carrying, travel-pro husband, I am screwed.  I know there are cocktails and snacks behind that lounge door.  I know that there is priority boarding, business class champagne and a special S.O.S. number for when 1-10 happens to you.  Darn.  Wish I didn't even know about the perks sometimes, especially when I am waiting in the longest lines I have ever seen.

9.  Middle seat, I love you when I am traveling with my family.  I curse you when I sit next to the grouchy man who refuses to turn his ipad off when we are taxiing to the runway.  I use to be a teacher.  I am not afraid of you grouchy man.  Yes, I did just tell you to turn that thing off!  Why do you need a parent when you are clearly over 50?

10. And that middle seat story just flows over into annoying passengers.  These are the entitled ones.  Were they football players in high school?  Cheerleaders?  I don't know, but if you are in coach, you are in coach.  Be nice.  Help people with their bags.  Smile, don't be too chatty, but at least be quietly friendly for goodness sake.  Grouchy people make this world a little less fun for the rest of us.

Tomorrow I fly with United, again.  I fly with United often.  Lately, it is never very good.  I hope tomorrow I am pleasantly surprised.  That is a post for tomorrow.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Going to the Dogs: Crating Puppy and Teaching Couch Potato Old Dogs and Owners New Tricks

We have had our puppy, Roxy, since mid March.  She is crated on a regular basis in our downstairs bathroom.  We've wedged her crate into the shower stall and made the inside of her prison as cozy as possible.

There were many opinions on how a puppy would effect our 13 year old collie lab cross, Kiki.  She is basically the most quiet, well-mannered dog you can ever hope for as a family dog.  She doesn't require much, she is basically a house dog.  She goes out for walks, but she has always been a happy couch potato--so somehow, she got into the proper couch potato family.

Roxy has fit in well.  We've determined she is at least half couch potato dog, as she is a snuggler.  She thinks Kiki is her mama, but there will be therapy down the road for Roxy, because Kiki feels in no way any maternal urges toward the pint sized pain in the butt puppy.  Mostly, they peacefully co-exist, but if Roxy gets a little to much in Kiki's happiness zone, watch out!

When we leave the house, Kiki is calm and happy to hang out.  Roxy is happy to use a chair as a chew toy, so we've been faithful kennel trainers and put Roxy in her kennel when we leave.  When Roxy goes in, we say "Kennel Time!" We throw a yummy assortment of treats into the kennel, and Roxy happily jumps in.  Of course, there are treats for Kiki at kennel time, too.

Today, I came upon Kiki in the bathroom.  She was wistfully staring into Roxy's kennel.  It has a fleecy, comfy pad, oodles of toys and it smells like treats from the doorway.  As Roxy is 15 pounds and Kiki is 65 pounds, Kiki can only hope to get her head in the doorway of the kennel.

This scene really made me think about whether we've cursed Kiki, or made her life more interesting.  A bouncy, Tigger-like toddler puppy is like me at a pre school mom coffee--there is nothing more sure to quickly make you feel whithered, tired and old.

Yet, Kiki has had more petting, more walks and more treats than she's seen in her life since she was a puppy.  We've had to drag our couch potato selves out with the puppy to get Roxy out in the world and wear her energy down.  There have been benefits for everyone, whether it's a walk for Kiki or mother daughter chat.

At that quiet moment, I snuck into the bathroom and gave Kiki a bone.  Good dog, Kiki.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Canadian Chronicles: Building A Better Mouse Trap, Part 2

It seems like mice are a recurring theme in our Canadian cottage existence. As soon as I saw the evidence that I was using the kitchen by day, but that the mice were using the kitchen by night, I called my husband to action.

The first thing he did was ask me if I was sure. I love this. Many times, people as me if I can tell that a mouse has been in a particular place for "SURE." After all of these years, I can almost spot mouse poop at fifty paces without my glasses--and I have a darn strong eyeglass prescription.

Well, step number one in our battle plan was to visit the local hardware and buy traps. Birk, who was listening to our conversation on the way to the hardware store, was arguing that we should live trap the critters and set them free outside of the house.

No matter how we tried to explain that putting the mice from inside the house to outside the house was not going to help our cause. She was adamant that we should not trap and kill the mice. We tried to explain that it's kind of like putting Brer Rabbit in the brier patch, after all, the mice know their way back home.

After the hardware store stop, we were making the longer drive to get groceries, about an hour's drive away. Birk had asked us to stop at Marble Lake Lodge's restaurant Ate to Ate. We agreed and started the drive. On the way, I looked back and tears were streaming down her face: she had seen the traps in the hardware bag.

At the restaurant, she refused to eat. We ordered her food anyway, including a big, thick chocolate shake. We reasoned. We cajoled. Finally she ate and we continued on with our day. Problem solved for the short term.

Two funny things happened after that. The first, is at the end of the summer, weeks later, I was helping Birk to clean her room and put everything away for the season. In the corner of her room, under some stuffed animals and cast off clothing, were the mouse traps. She had taken the traps and hidden them all summer!

The second thing that happened has to do with the Story of Stuff. She was assigned to watch the YouTube video. After watching it, she had to make an action plan to help save the Earth. Her action plan is to have people donate gently used clothing and bedding to people in need. It also includes encouraging more people have and shop at garage sales.

She likened people being held hostage by possessions like a hungry mouse. The more human food that the mice had, the more human food they would try to steal. If the only food we provided was in a trap, then they would have to brave the danger to get the food. However, if we gave them food, then they could live happily with us and wouldn't have to steal the food.

Living in harmony with the mice population, I will have to give that some thought.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

See That Island?

We were driving home from a long weekend at our friend's cabin on Lake Kirkwood. Birk looked out the window while we were crossing the San Rafael bridge and said, "See that island? I want to live there."

Then, one of those moments, the kind that I absolutely love, happened. She continued, "I want to build a house, a yellow one with a blue door. I'll live there and just invent things."

Yes, I absolutely love it when I hear my 10 year old dreaming in technicolor!