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Entry # 34 – Britain – Chicago - Philly
Monday, January 1, 2007 – Back to the US of A AND THE LAND OF THE PLENTIFUL NAPKINS!!!!!
Late night and early alarm, but I was out, on the bus and at Heathrow at 7am. As I approached to put my luggage through, they asked if I had any matches of lighters in my bags. I realized that I had a book of matches from a hotel in Romania. Luckily I remembered what compartment I had them in and found them quickly. As I mentioned before, the closer to the US I got, the more questions I was asked at airports. I was checked in by 7:10 and was on my way to security. As I approached security, I saw a woman with a lipstick in a little plastic bag and I realized that I had some of those in my carry on. Luckily, I had a spare sandwich size Ziploc in my candy bag, and quickly pulled the three things that I knew that I had in the baggie. I was through immigration and security and on the concourse by 7:35. My flight left at 10:15. I know, I know, way to early, but it sure beats rushing!
I had a lovely British woman as my seat mate (I had the aisle) who was returning to St. Louis where she works for Busch. Directly in front of us was a couple with their 12-month-old son who was not happy, harboring a cold and loudly telling all of us about his distress. The parents were stars and did their best under difficult circumstances. 8 hours between Heathrow and O’Hare.
I landed and wondered if immigration would be different when you have been away for so long. We landed at 12:40 and my original connection would have been at 1:50.
Traveling on 1/1 seems to be the way to go. There have been minimal lines in both airports! Passport control was no problem. Bags seemed to take a long time in coming, but as one person pointed out, I don’t care if it is the last one, just as long as it gets here!! Very wise outlook in my view. I played a game with my vibes to see which one of my bags would arrive first. The vibes said Big Gray would arrive first. It did.
I had answered on my customs declaration that I was carrying food, I had animal products and that I had handled livestock. They just skimmed my form and only when I indicated that I had something did they declare did they send me to x-ray. The Dept of Agr guys x-rayed my bags and looked through Big Gray. Those lucky people got to paw through all my dirty clothes. I had packed all my purchases from abroad into one backpack. They asked me if I had any food and I said candy (of course!) When he took out the backpack, he asked if I had anything round in it. I could only think of the spoons, but as he unpacked it I remembered that I had the Gerivital I had bought in Romania. No issue, he closed it back up and I could go. On the plane they kept stressing about foot-and-mouth disease so I told him my only concern was that I had been hiking in my boots, so he said he would do my shoes. My hiking boots came back spotless on the bottom and as good looking on the top a year around the world warrants.
I had cleared the area and it was 1:30. I rechecked my bags for my connecting flight, just out side the customs area and then rode the train to my terminal. Security in the new terminal was the longest one yet. Take off all coats, shoes off, plastic baggie full of creams, take out the ipod and computer. I had cleared security at 1:50. (I would not have made my flight if I had stayed on the original ticket.)
NOTE FOR TRAVELERS – Even with the airline says it is a legal connection, if you don’t feel that you can comfortably make the connection, do yourself a favor and change the connecting flight. This is especially important if you have to go through customs.
I have been cogitating about the next phase of my life at times with anxiety. I have found when I talk about my experiences, I become alive and very excited about my year. When I am by myself, I become inward and anxious. HMMMM! Guess I just have to stay in action and talking about my amazing year.
At lunch of chicken caesar salad and pear, I sat with a couple returning to Miami and told them about my trip. Mr. and Mrs. Firestone were very cute and enthusiastic and thanks to Jack, I have a name and address for a woman who works for the Attorney General’s office in women’s affairs as a possible contact. See what staying in action can do for you!!!!
In my sack that accompanied my lunch, besides the plastic fork and knife, I had 8 napkins! I still have 3 of them and they will go in my napkin display about my trip.
Annie had requested a current copy of the London Review of Books, a periodical very similar to the NY Times Book Review. The paper has reviews of current books as you might expect, ads for properties both domestic and foreign and usually a small number of interesting personal ads. In London, I found a book that compiled the best of the personal ads into one small volume. The book had wonderfully funny and clever ads, but none that were currently active so you can’t reply to those that sound interesting. I read the book on the plane between England and Chicago. My favorite one was from a lisping Rogers and Hammerstein woman who was looking for a man to share ‘thome enthanted evenningth’! Hysterical!
Today, I sent an email to an ad I found in the British Magazine called The Lady about a wooden yacht that would be circumnavigating the globe starting on Feb 2007 from South England. They indicated that they needed a diarist. By the time I had made Chicago, I already had a reply with some details about the trip, (may be a crew of 5, expect to land in Australia by 2010, no pay but some expenses paid while I am on board, no previous experience needed but helpful, crew will be asked to cook and share night watches, etc) asking for a CV. Hmmmmmmm?
We were delayed taking off from Chicago due to air traffic over Philly. I ended up landing 1.5 hours later than I had been expected, but my wonderful sister and brother-in-law were waiting for me. It was lovely to see them again and to be back in Philly.
I was in the upper bedroom with the window open as it had been 70 degrees in Philly lately. I suspected that I would sleep very well tonight.
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
Right after breakfast – LAUNDRY !!!! YAAAAAAH! One of the things I am looking forward to is clean laundry on demand and the ability to change clothes as many times as I like during the day. I am very much looking forward to my favorite fuchsia fleece tops that I have in storage in Denver.
Reading the Absentee American – Wonderful**
I unpacked the boxes that I had sent to Annie to extract the Xmas gifts that I had sent for the family. It was fun to open the boxes and remember where I had bought stuff and whom it was for. I had also sent a fair amount of my clothes to Annie, usually as packing around fragile items. I will need to fit them into my luggage as I go home.
I will be mailing one more box to myself from here with clothes and heavy things that I don’t want to put in the luggage. I will also mail back to Denver some things from Mom’s estate including three paintings and a set of nesting tables.
Tonight we had our Christmas celebration and Tony had made wonderful roast chicken, rice with cherries and pistachios, gingered carrots and salad. YUMMY!
Xmas – My family has done it again with wonderful, thoughtful gifts and goodies. Some of the many things that I received were coupons for clothes at Urban Outfitters and a massage tomorrow. YAAAH! Zack also received an Urban Outfitters coupon so we have a date to go and spend them on Thursday night. I am committed to clothes that fit me instead of engulf me and in colors other than black and beige!! The gifts that I gave were also well received including the LROB’s book for Annie, Marzipan from Harrods for Tony and the T-shirt for Zack with Nelson Mandella’s prison number.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Breakfast is usually at our own pace and includes fruit, tea, toast or cereal and a very leisurely morning.
Our next routine is to walk Charlie Darwin (the geriatric beagle cross) every morning to the end of the block to buy the paper. His main goal is to find and eat, before Annie can stop him, any bit of food (especially KFC chicken bones). After the walk, we arrive home for Charlie’s small dog bone. Quantity is not an issue for Charlie, just that he ALWAYS gets a biscuit after his morning constitutional.
Today was my massage with Danielle at a health club just around the corner from Annie’s office. It was wonderful. There were lots of little knots in suspected and unsuspected places. I am very much looking forward to getting to Denver and working with Toni Guinn on the various kinks and knots from this year and what they are saying.
Shepard’s Pie for dinner, ala Tony.
Annie trimmed the driest of the dry ends off my hair – Still a little scraggly and dry, I will wait until Denver to see what the dry air does to it and determine how much more needs to come off or be shaped.
After that we began the photo journey of my year in reverse order.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
Doodle day – The bedroom I have is at the very top of the house with a big comfortable double bed.
Having finished the Absentee American, I moved on to Jared Diamonds’ book, Collapse, about how different societies thrived or collapsed when faced with various situations. Very Interesting. Diamond also wrote Germs, Guns and Steel.
Scanning through the NY Times Book Review, I came across 2 personal ads that sounded interesting.
I had an email back from the contact about the yacht asking if I intended to send back my CV. Cogitated about it before bed and had a marvelous dream.
In the dream I was going to my various medical practitioners at the completion of my trip. I was feeling scattered and out of sorts and indicated to Toni Guinn that I had left a part of my heart in each of the places where I had visited. I illustrated the fact by miming taking a bouquet of flowers and taking out one blossom for each place that I visited, leaving the vase very sparse and empty. Toni made me draw in flowers on a landscape to recapture them. As I moved on to my next practitioner, Dr. Kramer, I woke up but I ended the dream feeling that I needed to write back to the yacht group and to take more command of where I was going after my trip. THANK YOU ANGELS!!!!
Friday, January 5, 2007
Up at 5am to begin blogging and working out what to write back to the yacht people.
Face masks – Annie and I cut our two different masks into two and shared the experience.
The orange mask ended up burning my face a bit, so I won’t be using the other one I have in my luggage. We are planning a tea party today to try the new tea that I was given for Christmas and eat cookies.
We also went to the UPS store to get my box, the paintings and nesting tables mailed to Denver.
Annie said it would be a short night for me, as the Annual Mummers Parade will be held tomorrow on Broad Street with car towing beginning at 5am. Normally held on New Years Day, it had been postponed due to rain last weekend. While it is raining today, I feel that they will hold it whether it rains or not.
The mummers are troops of men, primarily, that work all year on their routines, dress in exotic costumes and parade into historic Philly down Board Street. They go right past Annie’s house so they have a bird’s eye view. Luckily, I have an early flight, so we should be able to get me to the airport before all the hoopla begins.
Lana called me to tell me that my car is buried in her garage due to the third snowstorm in so many weeks and it most likely won’t be available tomorrow. Not a problem, all I need is my mail, my keys, some food and the babies and I will be good for a while.
Saturday, January 6, 2007 – 366 days from when I left last year – Back in Denver
Up early to get to the plane and I logged on to the web and Annie also checked the status of DIA. The Denver airport was open and my flight was scheduled to leave at 9:05.
I had a marvelous time with my Sister, as I always do, and stopping in Philly on my way home was EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO BEGIN THE TRANSITION FROM MY TRIP TO HOME. THANK YOU ANNIE, TONI AND ZACK FOR YOUR HOSPITALITY!!!!
At the airport I had no problem at check in, but found that my departure was delayed by 1.5 hours because the crew had arrived late last night. There is a mandatory (and I am very thankful for it) 8 hour rest period for crews before they can fly again.
A very full flight, I had an aisle seat and the movie was The Queen. As I had already seen it, I focused on my book and some meditation to prepare for my return to Colorado.
The smoothest landing I had all year long, probably due to the quantity of snow on the runway, I landed back in Denver, 366 days after I left on Jan 6 last year. I was ready to be home.
Miss Lana met me at the baggage claim and she took the final official photo from the trip.
As we drove to Elizabeth, we missed the exit onto E-470 as we were chatting. I did not get a clear view of the mountains, mainly Longs Peak, which has always been my check in view when I return to Colorado after a trip. When I lived in Broomfield, Longs Peak was the mountain that told me that I was home. I may not feel totally back until I get a good view of my mountain.
Thanks to Kris and Lana’s efforts, the car was ready to go home with me. They did a marvelous job storing Amber for me. She was in a comfortable garage with the battery disconnected and they even had rodent control put around the building so that no little critters moved in while I was gone. She looked wonderful. After a year of only driving twice and on the other side of the road, I admit I was wondering how it would feel to drive again.
(I found out why the Brit’s drive on the left side of the road. According to AAA, during the times when people traveled on horse back, people chose the left side of the road as most people were right handed and were better able to draw their sword when attacked by highwaymen. Interesting!)
Lana had reloaded all the boxes that I had left in her care including my electronics and my valuables, so after a quick house tour and a hello to Reggie, we were ready to go. (Rocket was at the vet’s overnight with a mysterious illness). Amber started right up and my first test was to get down the very rutted driveway piled high with snow and out onto the main road. Amber and I did a fine job and soon, Lana was in front of me leading me out to the highway where I could make my way home.
I think I have finally learned to live in the moment as there are lots of things that I used to have right on the top of my head that are now either gone or in cold storage. I still know my way around Denver, but some of the road names are gone.
We had a short stop at Chick-Fil-A for a kid’s meal. Yummy, my first and probably last chicken nuggets for some time. They tasted yummy. As I drove towards Lakewood and Karen’s to pick up my keys and mail, it was fun and amazing to see what still looked identical to when I was in the state a year ago. I am sure that over the next few months, I will be struck by how much has changed and how much things have remained the same.
Karen was wonderful and welcoming as where her two older dogs, Mercy and Grace, and her new-as-of-6-weeks-ago, Hope. Elsie, her sweet kitty with the striped tail, was very interested in all the smells that I emitted and her old guy Cade, was asleep on the couch. Geriatrics are allowed to sleep as much as they want. Karen has been my anchor and was a Godsend. She handled all my mail, mailing my regular bills and paying things as they came along. She accepted all my boxes that I mailed home, stored some of my personal items (Dad’s wood carvings and my photo albums) and worked with Shane on all matters financial. She mailed me my ballot for voting and was a key member of the cat wrangling team. She was also instrumental in helping Tamera with the management of my town home and facilitating the tenant’s logistics. My year would have not gone as smoothly without the friendship and marvelous support from Karen. Karen sent me out the door with my keys, two milk crates of files that I had left in her care, two plastic boxes with misc supplies and checks, and two accordion folders with all my mail from last year.
Driving to my house, I was very present to how blessed my life is in so many ways. A few things had changed between the short distance between Karen’s and 10879 W. Dartmouth, mainly a new bridge that had been out of service for months before I left. The old neighborhood looked the same, even to the number and type of Christmas lights at the entrance to the community. The house looks the same from the outside. I also remembered that I have new neighbors to my right to meet and old ones on my left to reconnect with and become reacquainted.
It was 6pm and the lights were on to welcome me home. Once inside, it looked the same but I noticed it seemed very quiet. After numerous trips to get all the mail, boxes and luggage in, I locked the door and began to explore my house.
The carpet had been newly cleaned and it generally looked the same. Some of the furniture was in a different location, which I decided to leave until later. I walked through every room to see where things were. I found a few lights that needed new bulbs and several items that need to be repaired, but nothing major. In the kitchen, the fridge was very clean, the oven and stove were very dirty and the dishwasher door would not latch closed. As I walked through, I found some things that seemed to be missing. I decided that I would make a complete inventory tomorrow and contact Tamera.
I had no phone service, so I would try to get to Qwest first thing on Monday and see where we are on getting it reconnected. I hoped Tamera had the reconnect order already in place.
I found that the tenants had put all of my supplies that I had left out for them, back in their original place. As I found a little bit of laundry soap, I stripped and washed the bedding and went through all my mail. With Karen’s wonderful organization and filing system, I managed to get through a year’s worth of mail within 1 hour. Karen is a wonder!!!
I unlocked the closets and peeked in and everything seemed okay. I did not want to get the step stool to open up the attic, so I left it locked. (NOT MY WISEST MOVE AS YOU WILL HEAR LATER!!)
By this time, it was 10pm and I had had a long day, having gotten up at 6pm EST. The cats would be home tomorrow and I was a little anxious but looking forward to seeing them.
Generally, I went to bed feeing a little out of sorts, not totally grounded, but ready to be home and get settled for a while. Everything looks brighter after a good nights sleep.