Around the World in 223 Days

So neither Phileas Fogg’s fictional feat, nor Michael Palin’s actual one, are in any danger of being eclipsed. But when Lindsay‘s flight lands in Boston later today she will have completed one whole trip around the world. We’ll count the high school trip to France, Spain, and Morocco, and her semester abroad in Uganda, as test flights, like the Mercury or Gemini projects were before the Apollo missions.

Except for eastern Canada and a week in Bermuda I have never been outside the United States. The moons of opportunity, capability, and inclination just haven’t come into alignment, but that hasn’t stopped us from experiencing some fascinating places vicariously. And at a safe distance from spiders.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right…

No, I’m not writing about Congress (and there are even more reasons since that article was written), though goodness knows I could be. What I am writing about is the apparent wholesale abandonment of driving sense on the part of the motoring public. No, no, I’m going to through bicyclists and pedestrians, too. Holey moley!

This past June I whined on Facebook about an incident that happened while waiting to turn left into our driveway, which is on a busy road. I was on my way home from work and waiting for oncoming traffic to clear before making the turn. I was on the bike, having made sure to flash my brake light a few times while slowing and had both my brake light and left turn signal on. Just as traffic clears, this lame-brain on a BMW touring bike goes by ON MY LEFT, cigarette dangling out of his mouth, Hawaiian shirt flapping in the breeze, and no helmet on his empty head. I give him the horn; he gives me the finger. Fair exchange, I guess, but WTH?!

This morning I’m also on the bike, second in line to cross a busy intersection that’s one lane in each direction on each leg (so no right turn lane, no left turn lane, just one lane). The car ahead of me has its left turn signal on and has to wait for someone coming straight across who must have imagined another lane. Meanwhile, there are vehicles in the oncoming lane with their left turn signals on. I want to make sure the car ahead of me has cleared so the drivers on the other side of the intersection can see me when I cross the intersection to keep going straight. I’m owning the lane and, six-foot-four plus the silver helmet, plus the hi-viz, high contrast XXL jacket I’m wearing, I’m not hard to see but this knucklehead right behind me just couldn’t wait and passes me on the right just as I’m beginning to cross. Once more with the horn, and a few morning pleasantries. Did I really have my face shield open when I said that? Oopsie.

What IS it with you people? Grrr.

Can you see me now??

Can you see me now??

Once More….

Cathay Pacific B777*ceci n’est pas un avion

The photo above is not the actual Boeing 777 carrying Lindsay from Los Angeles to Hong Kong on her way to Thailand, at least as far as we know, but it might as well be. Three years ago we were waiting to hear that she had arrived safely in Africa. Now, after getting her messages that she had arrived in LA from Boston and boarded her flight for Hong Kong, we have to wait about another twelve hours before we can reasonably expect to hear from her again.

With all three of our girls away, either at school, or way away, as in Asia for the next six months, we officially have an empty nest (just don’t tell the cats). This opens a new chapter, some of which I don’t expect to be markedly different from the previous, but which presents some of its own opportunities. I suspect it will take a little while for us to establish a new rhythm, a new pattern of life with mostly just the two of us again after more than twenty years with children of various sizes in the house.

Meanwhile, Lindsay has picked up her blog again, and we can expect to hear all kinds of interesting things about life, work, and travels in Thailand and other parts of southeast Asia.

Christmas 2012

The Heart-in-Waiting

The Heart-in-waiting

Jesus walked through whispering wood:
‘I am pale blossom, I am blood berry,
I am rough bark, I am sharp thorn.
This is the place where you will be born.’

Jesus went down to the skirl of the sea:
‘I am long reach, I am fierce comber,
I am keen saltspray, I am spring tide.’
He pushed the cup of the sea aside

And heard the sky which breathed-and-blew:
‘I am the firmament, I am shape-changer,
I cradle and carry and kiss and roar,
I am infinite roof and floor.’

All day he walked, he walked all night,
Then Jesus came to the heart at dawn.
‘Here and now,’ said the heart-in-waiting,
‘This is the place where you must be born.’

By Kevin Crossley-Holland, from Selected Poems, 2001; Photo by Ina Hramacek. (via Fiat Lux)

Merry Christmas.

Skwerls!

(c) Lillian Stokes, 2009
In the latest battles of the bird feeder wars between humans (i.e. me) and gray squirrels (i.e. them), the skwerls definitely have the upper ha- um, paw, greedy little cusses that they are.

I honestly don’t know, perhaps in a fit of impending middle-aged softening of the head, but a few years ago I started hanging a bird feeder or two. Joking (or not) aside, I like to see the various birds that come out – chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, other little birds I haven’t identified, since I’m not a serious bird person. We also have bunches of mourning doves that hang around, which I also don’t mind but they’re not as much fun to see as the others. The one I really don’t like to see, though, is the bushy-tailed gray vulture a/k/a the gray squirrel. They make a mess, they scare off the real birds, they hog the bird seed (especially the sunflower seeds), and they destroy bird feeders. So far we’re 1-for-4, with the latest in our arsenal being the Brome Squirrel Buster Mini. Without sounding too violent, though, I was thinking about something with an anti-squirrel missile launcher, but they seem to back-ordered or something.

After watching “Raccoon Nation” on Nature a few weeks ago, I wonder if our efforts to thwart squirrels is having the similar, unintended consequence of creating a race of uber-squirrels. Yikes, there’s a thought.