shrinking seats…

I’ve criss-crossed the country numerous times in recent years to visit my daughter who was dancing in the southeast. Those who commute between coasts for their jobs probably feel as I do…airline travel sucks!

airport security wands

Hoisting carry-on luggage onto and off of airport security belts, as well as into and out of airplane overhead bins in record time, is enough to throw anyone’s body out of whack. Make that a six decades old body already twitching with arthritis and fibromyalgia…and you’ve got the beginnings of one grouchy passenger. However being raised a long-suffering Catholic, I’m primed to absorb as much pain as the false gods of travel can dish out.

Whether or not age is to blame, or my brain goes into overdrive knowing my access to bathroom facilities is severely restricted once on the plane…I find I have to go to the restroom several times before I board the aircraft. It seems I have to squeeze every last drop of liquid from my body in order to stave off any possibility of neurotic behavior once on board.

On one flight when I heard what I thought was the signal allowing passengers to move about, I jumped out of my seat and raced down the aisle toward the forward bathroom. While the flight attendant didn’t stop me, she sternly notified me that the sound I heard was for passengers to keep their seat belts fastened.

Airplane Electronics Sign

Oops! Well, when ya gotta go…your brain’s only got one thing on its mind…ya gotta go!

Many plane rides later, I’ve figured out what I can drink and what I can’t.

I can’t drink caffeine. It messes with my digestion. I can’t take regular sips from my water bottle. That’ll get me bouncing in and out of my chair running to the bathroom for the duration.

Cranberry juice. That’s what I can drink and still maintain my equilibrium. Isn’t it suppose to help with urinary tract infections? Maybe that connection calms my mind into thinking “This is good for  urinary issues. So go ahead, have a glass or two.” Which I do.

Knock on wood…I’ve been fine. But who knows? Older age might make spaghetti of that solution. I’ll have to figure this out…one plane ride at a time.

Having just returned from visiting with my daughter in Houston, I was reminded of my disdain for the whole, unsavory stew that air travel has become. As if a festering wound required more salt, today’s Wall Street Journal ran an article entitled “The Incredible Shrinking Seat.” 

Airplane seats.

Airplane seats. (Photo credit: La Shola y EL Gringo?)

Comparing an airline coach seat these days with seats in other venues, the article highlights the fact that airlines really do expect us to morph into sardines when we fly.

A Boeing 777 First Class seat measures 21″ across…a Regal Cinema non-premium auditorium seat measures 25″ across…a Texas Eagle Superliner train coach seat measures 20.5″ across and the Barclay’s Center upper/lower bowl stadium seat measures 19″ across. By comparison the Boeing 777 10-seat economy coach seat measures a paltry 17″ across.

I’m 19 inches wide, shoulder to shoulder. Sucking in 2 inches is probably not a major issue for me since I’m a smallish woman at 5’2″. Maintaining a shriveled up version of my normal self, however, is a trick.Gumby and Monkey

One learns to become silly putty, literally.

I stretch my limbs into whatever shape is required as I’m jostled by air turbulence…flight attendants and their food and beverage carts…and, of course, my seat buddies. And every so often I just have to move, or else I’ll go…stir crazy!!!

Strapped into uncomfortable seats for 5 hours is not my idea of a good time. It’s become the norm that I now deplane with considerably more aches than when I awoke the morning of my flight.

As I waited to board my return trip to Seattle I overheard a woman say that this was her last flight. Once she returned to the comfort of her home, she was never flying again. It sounded like something I could commit to…if it weren’t for my nomadic child. 

I will play the role of long-suffering Catholic…pee 5 times before I get on the plane…lose 2 inches off my 19 inch wide frame…play silly putty…drink cranberry juice…and refrain from an overwhelming desire to start an in-flight revolution…so long as my daughter lives an airplane ride away. 

…just don’t expect me to like it!…

………hugmamma.

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a sabbatical of sorts…

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve not “fallen off the face of the earth.” Regular readers of my blog will know that I’ve been enjoying a grand few weeks with my greatest “BFF,” (best friends forever), my daughter. She visited with my husband and me for a couple of weeks, and now I’m with her helping to settle her into a new apartment. You can imagine her relief, and delight, to be moving on from the bedbug situation in her old digs. More about that in another post.

While my daughter has been taking care of other business, and sanitizing her furnishings prior to moving them into her new place (don’t want any of those nasty critters moving with her), I painted the walls a softer, lighter, more soothing gray. My guess is the previous beige-gold was probably the original color when the building was constructed in the 70s or 80s. Updating the unit with a more contemporary color took it from drab and depressing to fab and uplifting! Grandkitty Misha’s spirits even seem better. With all that’s gone on with the bedbug upheaval, he’s been pretty accommodating, having gone from his once-happy-home, to boarding at the vet’s for a week, to a new place devoid of all his familiar smells and sleeping places. The intense temperatures, high humidity, broken air-conditioning system, fans blowing night and day, and no furnishings to keep him company have not altered his fantastic disposition. Thank goodness!

Determined to finally bring their home “right-side up” again, my daughter and I are setting about to make it happen. Wish us luck, and I’ll be back posting more regularly again in the not too distant future. Thanks for hanging in there while I’ve been wearing “my mom’s hat” once again. I’m sure all mothers, and their children, have “been there, done that.”

hugs for a cool, and blissful, tropical summer…wherever you are…hugmamma. 🙂 

siblings

Most of us are born into families with other children. Siblings are a complicated group. They needn’t be, but most often they are. Finding our niches within the hierarchical order is tricky business. There is usually a pecking order. And it normally runs oldest to youngest, with the latter having no one to peck on, so to speak.

Perceptions of life are affected by our own lives, so they’re necessarily skewed by what our brain interprets of the goings on around us. Obviously these interpretations are our truths, not necessarily lining up with those of others. This isn’t to say they’re not valid, for to us they are.

One of the truisms in life, I think, is that we should listen, really listen, to what someone is saying. We tend to hear what we want to hear. I wonder why that is? It’s almost as though we’re only using one ear. This is definitely the case in most marriages, mine included. But I guess when 2 strangers get together, there’s a lot to sort out, and for marriages to survive there needs to be give-and-take, a lot of it.

Give-and-take among siblings is another matter. When they live under the same roof it’s probably essential, to minimize the bloodshed. But when they’ve left the roost to find their own way in the world, coming together again can be, as I said, tricky.

I’m 61 and the youngest of 9. It’s not easy to throw off the mantel of “kid sister.” I don’t often see my siblings, so the issue rarely comes up. Nonetheless, it’s not an easy position to occupy, especially when I’ve successfully led my life outside the hierarchy. I’ve never been able to say to any of my siblings “I think you should do this.” Not that I would want to do so. I think they’re all just fine as they are. Just as I couldn’t tell a stranger how to live her life, I couldn’t do so with family. I could only offer advice and support, if asked.

I have great admiration for my husband and his siblings, always have. I’ve known them for nearly 41 years, having interacted with them  much more when he and I were dating. The last 30 years or so we’ve lived on the mainland, away from the rest of them. There was obviously a hierarchy among the 12 siblings, but it wasn’t overtly apparent to me. The camaraderie among them was palpable, still is. The banter back and forth among sisters and brothers is light, fun, loving. There’s no heavy talk about setting and achieving goals, working at better jobs, pressure to attend college. Not that these aren’t important. But I think my husband and his siblings set examples for one another. They led the way, they didn’t point in the direction and say “Go do it.” They just did it.

The pattern of showing by example has filtered down to all our nieces and nephews. Many have graduated from colleges on the mainland, and some have traveled outside the country, even as far away as Australia, one nephew living in Mongolia as a Mormon missionary for a couple of years. There is excitement within the family whenever we gather, catching up with one another, getting better acquainted with newborns, or children who’ve grown up in our absence. No matter the lives they lead, there is equality among my husband and his siblings, and their children and their cousins. And it’s for certain, they’ve all “got each other’s backs,” that’s OHANA, Hawaiian for family.

My mother-and-father-inlaw, and their marriage of 40 + years before he died, are to be credited for their successful, love-by-example raising of 12 children. A legacy they have surely left to all who come after. I’m very fortunate to have found love and comfort under the shelter of my in-laws welcoming “umbrella” these many years.

for everyone coming in out of the “rain”…hugs…hugmamma.  

“free at last, free at last,…we are free at last!!!”

Another place, another time, Martin Luther King proclaimed the freedom of African-Americans from slavery’s lynch-hold.

Today Egyptians have realized the decimation of Hosnei Mubarack’s stranglehold on their lives. But while King and his followers protested nonviolently with as much support as they could muster, the cause to free the Egyptian people from their leader’s tyranny was embraced by millions via the internet. 

Thirty-eight-year-old Wael Ghonim, marketing director for technology giant Google, spearheaded the campaign to free his countrymen from 30 years of suppression and hopelessness. No longer able to distance himself from their plight, Ghonim felt compelled to help, even risking his own security and comfort, and that of his wife and kids. Instant viewing of global images on YouTube these days seems to uphold the truism, that there’s “safety in numbers.” So perhaps Ghonim knew that the rewards reaped would far outweigh the risk in which he was willing to engage. 

“A digital revolution,” as one news pundit explained of Mubarak’s removal by his people. The internet has leveled the playing field, allowing the “Davids” of the world to successfully take aim and bring down the “Goliaths.” My earlier post “give up the internet?” published on 2/7/11, pondered the inevitable loss of a simpler life, when technology came to dominate.  

These last 18 days have shown the internet to be a weapon in the hands of the masses. Egypt‘s next generation, fed up with a government they didn’t countenance, and armed with useless college degrees, expressed their contempt for the status quo. They voiced their vehemence on Facebook, the online social networking system. From this global vantage point a phenomenal movement grew. As a result, President Mubarak is history.

“Aided and abetted” by technology, Oprah Winfrey, a black woman, garnered unimaginable power from the masses who identified with her. “Aided and abetted” by technology, the Tea Party Movement born out of the disenchantment of Americans for their government, has the power to make and break political careers. “Aided and abetted” by technology, the Egyptians gathered millions together in protest, making their collective voice heard and their will known, successfully bringing down the enemy. 

I’ve always felt that the “have nots” live with faces pressed against the glass, envying the lives of the “haves.” If those who “have” don’t freely share of their material wealth, then the “have nots” will wrestle away whatever they can. Deserving or not, it doesn’t matter. All “have nots” probably feel it’s their moral right to live in equality with their fellow “haves.”

who could argue… with the “have nots” in egypt…hugmamma.

foreign country, home?

HGTV is one of my “go to” stations when I’m surfing the channels looking for somewhere to land. One of my favorite segments, which my husband also enjoys watching, is “House Hunters International.” Being “niele” (Hawaiian for “curious”, my family says I’m “nosey”) by nature, I want to see how other people live, especially in  foreign countries. What are their houses like? Do they reflect a totally different lifestyle, or one not unlike mine? What are prices like? Do they seem in line with what the homes offer in basics, as well as in amenities? I’ve seen HGTV shows filmed in cities like Tokyo, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Paris, Edinburgh and countries like Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Italy, England, Argentina, Costa Rica, and islands like Aruba, Jamaica, the Caymans.

Most of the locations HGTV visits seem to appeal to my exotic side. Of course viewing places I’ve not been as a traveler is like being in a candy shop, face pressed against glass cases, eyes bugging out over the contents. My latest refrain which seems ongoing is “We should retire there.” To which my husband’s reply is always “Yeah?” or “I don’t think so.” I’ve decided he has no exotic side, only a very practical one which keeps me fully grounded. If it weren’t for him, I’d have been airborne a zillion times, never landing for a breather. Of course I’m glad he never takes me seriously for then I’d have to “put my money where my mouth is.” And I’ve no “kala,” (Hawaiian for money, lots of it) to support a lifestyle of the “rich and famous.” Besides, we’re not of that class, being pretty simple in our wants and likes. I’d like a vacation home in Hawaii, and a Volkswagen bug, blue or yellow. See, pretty basic. Well, at least half my wants is…the Hawaiian home…with an ocean view.

While I’m caught up in the moment watching non-natives weighing the pros and cons of various houses in foreign locales, I’m amazed at their decision to live beyond their comfort zones. Some even retiring, lock, stock and barrel, to supposed final homes of their “golden years.” Besides needing a tremendously flexible attitude toward their adopted place of abode and its citizenry, these new residents must be prepared to live within the explicit, and implicit, laws of the land. They might find themselves adrift without a” life jacket” in a face-off with the ruling government where they’d taken up residence. Trying to cloak themselves in the American flag as U.S. citizens might be like moving a mountain, which might prove easier to do in the long-term.

Of note is the ongoing case of Amanda Knox, a University of Washington student who, while studying abroad for a semester in Luca, Italy was accused of murdering her British roommate. The rural town peopled by folk who have probably lived their entire lives in that village have little, if any, experience with foreign visitors except what is stereotypically represented. So it seems in Knox’s case being an American teenager may have prematurely cast her in the widely viewed role of “wild child.” Even I, sitting in the comfort and safety of my home in the U.S., can’t be absolutely certain if she is innocent or guilty. But while her case is on appeal and her parents wage an all-out-war, sacrificing much in time, energy and money, their daughter is serving out a 20+ year sentence.

Being a professed worrier, although I’m getting better, the rampant killings by drug cartels in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, has me wondering about the safety of retirees who have moved south for the “good life.” In her attempts to assuage my concerns a friend, herself a regular visitor to Puerto Vallarta and whose friends’ family lives on the outskirts of the resort, assures me that Americans are safe. The resorts at which they are guests, are heavily guarded. I’ve also been told by the Mexican woman who works at the dry cleaner we frequent, that the sleepy village where she is from and where her family still resides, is untouched by the violence.

I am not as mystified about Europeans residing in countries other their own. It would be like my having moved from Hawaii to the east coast to New England to where I am now in the Pacific Northwest. The difference, of course, being that European countries are sovereignties. Furthermore the ability for Europeans to travel easily across borders, proposes a certain level of comfort. That ease and inherent comfort are not an intrinsic part of  moving from the U.S. to a country in Europe, Asia, or South America. And then there’s the language. Europeans tend to know more than their native tongue; we, on the other hand, rely heavily upon others knowing English.

It would seem that at least 2 categories of Americans make their homes abroad, those who take their identity with them insisting that their surroundings adjust; or those who are chameleons adjusting to whatever their environs require. Dear friends of ours, a gay married couple, recently bought a home in the Spanish countryside. Imagine my disbelief when my husband told me of their purchase?!?. “How could they just up and decide to move to Spain? Do they know anyone? Are they leaving for good?” But then I let the news sink in. I thought of the 2 men, their effervescent personalities, their annual social gatherings, their love of travel to places like Vietnam and the Galapagos Isles, and their talent for bringing friends together as family. Such reflection left me with no residual qualms, about these 2 fabulous men taking up residence in a foreign country. Perhaps,… I’m even a little envious of their hutzpah.

Having been raised on Maui, I often blame my islander roots as reason for not traveling farther afield with more frequency, or seriously contemplating a permanent home abroad. I use the same excuse for choosing to drive through residential neighborhoods or back roads, rather than speeding down freeways at 60 miles an hour trying to keep up with everyonelse. Call it an island mentality or fear of the unknown, I will never be Marco Polo or Magellan. Perhaps because of my dysfunctional childhood, I find that being with my husband and daughter is more important to me than traveling the globe in search of what I’m already blessed with here at home. But while my search is complete my daughter is confident she’d be fine working, and living, in Europe, if that’s where her career took her. And she goes with our blessing to live the life she envisions for herself, here or abroad. That won’t prohibit me from continuing to give advice, however, that she “drive carefully and be safe.”

is it youth that gives us wings, which when “clipped” in older age keeps some of us closer to the nest?…hugmamma.

good night’s rest

A memory foam mattress is my favorite companion for a good night’s rest. Having invested in one for our daughter several years ago, since her  job as a dancer takes its toll, I convinced my husband that we should get a king-size one for our bed. We both agree with our daughter, that it was the best investment we could have made for our general well-being.

The memory foam mattress lies on top of the mattress that came with our bed and box spring. Rather than having gaps between the mattress springs and the curves in my body, especially my arthritic lower back, the memory foam curves with my body. As extra support for my back, I use a pillow under my knees.

To solve the issue of the uncomfortable gap between my neck and my pillow, I also have a memory foam pillow. Laying my head on it alone seems to afford the same curvature comfort for my neck, as the mattress does for my body. Needless to say the rest of my family revels in the same comfort, having their own memory foam pillows.

I share this information hoping that it might help others who have chronic insomnia due to aches and pains. I may have other problems like blogging into the wee hours, but my body is extremely grateful for my memory foam mattress when I finally fall into bed.

wishing you a good night’s rest too…hugmamma. (can I crawl back into bed now?)

good samaritan #4

If you’ve read “no more pain, only friends,” you know how grateful I am to have found a great dentist in Dr. Quickstad. His unrelenting calmness with staff and patients is a comfort, in what could otherwise be a very traumatic experience. I sincerely wish I’d discovered him sooner; I’d have had him in my life longer.

The “bonus” in knowing Dr. Quickstad is that he has regularly volunteered his services at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Haiti. He has helped that island’s people long before the rest of the world rushed to their aid after the recent, devastating earthquake. He and his wife will return to Haiti this fall, to again be of service for a week. In the spring, donations were accepted which Dr. Quickstad matched, up to $100. More than $3,000 was collected for the benefit of the Haitians.

no fanfare about the man, he just does what he does best…hugmamma.