October 3, 2011
There is a HEIGHTENED TERRORIST ALERT for all Americans abroad because of the recent assassination.– and possible retaliation is feared by the State Department. And….London has always been a hotbed of terrorist activities.
so…. The State Department and Portland Firefly are recommending
1. Always be alert to your surroundings
2. Avoid large (mob) gatherings.
3. Always have an escape plan/ route (‘The emergency exits are located…”).
4. Know where there is safe cover available when transiting public
transportation places such as trains.
5. And airports can be very dangerous as well.
Most of all… TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS - If a place doesn’t ‘feel right’ to
you …. then get out and explain later.
This instinctive feeling saved the lives of several Americans as they were entering a restaurant. They didn’t stay and the restaurant was destroyed by a suicide bomber.
August 26, 2010
Hello! I’m back at the computer today… and I have so much to tell you that I do not think that I’ll really be able to get you caught up in the next month!
I’ll try to give you a little synopsis of what has been going on.
This summer, Portland Firefly took not one, not two, but three trips and when you add the little trip to Branson in April that makes four trips in about four months. No wonder I am tired!
My doctor did say that when I went off of Chemo the end of February that this next year could possibly be my best year ~ so I took that to heart and scheduled several trips.
The first one to schedule was my annual Harmonica Convention which was actually the last trip I took in August.
Then my girlfriends were going to spend a week in Paris and knowing that I wanted to go there ‘again’, they invited me along. At first I refused because they were going to be in Paris the end of July and the beginning of August ~ the very hottest time of year ~ and the height of the tourist season (I hate tourists) and also the time of full passenger flights (I travel on standby). But as the summer approached, I changed my mind and decided to go with them in spite of all the negatives. And I am glad that I did because I had a fabulous time!
Then, after I had scheduled these two trips (and fairly close together because the dates were dictated by others), Portland Firefly received notice that there was an annual Ovarian Cancer Convention in Washington, DC. I was granted a scholarship to pay for part of my convention expenses and so I went to that one as well!
Three big trips in a six-week span. That might be enough to wear anyone out! But there are lots of stories to tell and hopefully I’ll be able to share some of them with you. And pictures!!! I took 600 pictures on my Paris trip so I’ll be sharing a few of them with you.
August 6, 2010
I know this is a strange title for a weblog post, but that is what this is about –travel size deodorants.
While getting ready for a recent trip, I looked in many different types of stores for a travel size of my favorite deodorant. Since it is a ‘all natural’ product, I even searched the pharmacy sections of my local health food stores . No Luck. Oh they carried the regular size, but the TSA allowable 1 quart bag per passenger is so tiny and I have so many things to put into it, that I needed the smaller travel size so I could fit everything into that TSA allowable bag.
In desperation, I called the product’s toll-free phone number. The customer service representative was very nice to me and informed me that stores rarely stock that travel size anymore. I groaned. She said that they do have a few in the warehouse and that she would be happy to send me one. I gave her my address and was about ready to get off the phone when I realized that it would not arrive in time for my trip. She then offered me what I consider to be the worlds greatest kept secret and a super travel hint.
She told me that I can ‘make my own’ travel size if I have an empty container to put it into. I told her that I did. This is what she told me to do.
Take what is left in the bottom of the deodorant container and microwave it for just a few seconds. I found that 5 seconds was enough. Be careful, It can be hot and spill easily! Then you just simply pour the now melted deodorant into the smaller travel size container. Let it set for a few minutes and you have now made your own travel size deodorant!
It was so cool, money saving, convenient and best of all, I get to use my favorite deodorant when I travel.
July 25, 2010
While at the airport last week, I saw something that moved me.
It was one of those ‘airport golf carts’ that transport passengers from one gate to another because they have a special need. Well, if ever someone needed the cart this day, it was the woman I saw in the cart.
The thin black woman was from Ethiopia, I guessed, and surrounded by children. Sitting softly tall in the cart’s back seat, the beautiful mother had an African ‘baby sling’ wrapped around her complete with infant. She was also struggling to hold a restless child about 16 months old. Close in next to her was another boy about 3 years old who was mesmerized by what was happening all around him, yet not willing to leave the safety of his Mother’s side. He was seeing things he had never seen before and I wondered how this trip would affect him. Absolutely his life will be changed for the better, but what of this trip will he remember?
Then my gaze advanced up to the center seat — another boy identical to the two behind him, but about 5 years old sat with his mouth open looking mostly ahead of him. And in the front seat was the cart driver along with ‘big brother’ who was probably about 7. Again identical to his three brothers; there was no doubt that he was part of this same family.
I have seen such families before when working as a Flight Attendant. I believe that they ‘win’ some sort of lottery to come to America . And come they do. With nothing but the clothes on their backs. Literally. No checked luggage. No carry-on bag. Just their paperwork and maybe a few possessions in a white plastic bag with blue lettering.
This Mother had a large white / blue lettered plastic bag (about the size of our grocery bags) sitting where the luggage goes in the cart and that is how I confirmed my inclinations of their status. There is a very distinctive emblem on the bag and that plastic bag is ALL that she brought with her and 5 children to America.
They are sponsored by a family somewhere and that is where they will be living. The mother may decide to take ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and the children should begin school soon. Usually they settle in communities with similar families for common encouragement and because they can communicate with them until they learn English.
Anyway I still have the picture in my mind of this beautiful contemporary Madonna with child plus four more in the airport golf cart. And yes, Portland Firefly prayed a special blessing for this brave mother as I passed by.
May 2, 2010
Portland Firefly has been very busy these last several weeks. You may recall that I told you that travel was high on my priority list for the next several months and I have been true to my word!
My first trip was a short weekend jaunt to visit family and to attend a special ‘by invitation only’ dinner at my old alma mater. Next I was off to Hawaii, the Big Island, where the clear fumes and odorless gasses of the active volcano made me quite ill. I however persevered and had a great time there. Much credit goes to Dee, a special school mate of mine, who went out of her way to make sure I had a great time. And we both did!!!
After being home for a few weeks, it was time for another week-long trip! This time to Branson, Missouri with some dear friends.
Now that I’ve been home for a while, all of my travels have caught up with me and Portland Firefly has a cold, sore throat, cough, and general malaise. It looks like I’ll be staying in this week, so maybe I’ll do some more writing and hopefully bring you up to date on what is happening!!
April 6, 2010
Recently, Portland Firefly made the trek across the ocean to the beautiful state of Hawaii. It was a long trip to make and I actually did quite well. I found that people were very kind and helpful as I made my way from the Pacific Northwest to sunny California and then to beautiful Hawaii.
I am discovering that the more I travel, the more I am refining my packing procedures. On a recent weekend flight I was able to travel with just one carry-on suitcase ~ and my purse was packed inside of it!!! For this trip ~~~ which required a more extensive wardrobe ~~~ I was able to get everything into two suitcases which I could manage myself. I always make sure that my medicines and one change of clothes goes with me on the plane just in case of a ‘luggage delay’!
One item that I discovered prior to my trip to Spain last fall are ‘packing cubes’. They are little flexible mesh containers that have a zippered opening. The ones that I have, have a little bit of structure to them so they hold their shape. I love them because I can roll up all of my scarves and pack them into one cube and I know where to go to look for a scarf! I usually put underwear in another one. In the larger ones, I like to pack my rolled up tops so it is easy to choose which top I want to wear.
When packing cubes aren’t quite appropriate, I use ziplock plastic baggies to contain smaller items. It is easy to see what is inside and easy to move out-of-the-way if it isn’t what you want. Put like items into those baggies for convenience. I keep my travel scissors inside one little baggie and it just lives in my ‘checked suitcase’ even when home; that way I always have them when I need them and they never get confiscated by Airport TSA Security.
I will sometimes use a large ‘spacebag’ to pack large items. These are the plastic bags with a special zipper that you ‘roll up to force all the air out’ after you place your clothes inside. It is amazing how much air we pack! When you take the air out of your clothes (in a spacebag) your clothes take up a lot less room. I always travel with these bags and I tend to use them more on the flight back home when I need more room in my suitcase because of the souvenirs I have purchased!
I also use large ziplock baggies to help organize my suitcase. They work great for family vacations because you can pack a complete childs outfit inside one. Then you just grab a plastic baggie and that is what your child wears that day! Have a special plastic bag ready for dirty laundry.
I hope this gives you some helpful hints on packing. Enjoy your vacation!
April 1, 2010
Portland Firefly has entered the gadget age…. A little bit behind the times as far as some may be concerned but just right in timing as far as Firefly is concerned.
It all started with the cancer diagnosis that I received seven –has it been seven months already??– months ago. When I went to Chemo, I noticed that Northwest Cancer Specialists offered free WiFi there to help pass the time spent in the Chemo recliners. I started to think that a laptop might be a good investment for a budding writer, but that is as far as it went.
Starting to feel a little bit better as my Chemo was winding down (or so I thought) I decided to plan a few trips. I felt it was better to take them now and so as the plans for a trip evolved so did my decision that yes I was ready for a laptop. Ah, but things just got better when I asked my own personal Tech Maven (my Daughter) what she would suggest as a laptop for me. After asking me a few pertinent questions, she suggested that I might really like one of the new smaller notebooks.
She had one that she offered to let me borrow for a while to help me make my decision. It was not needed because the more research I did regarding the new smaller netbooks, the more convinced I became that it was in fact the perfect solution to my travel computing needs.
And so I purchased a beautiful ‘pearl white’ netbook. My Tech Maven suggested that I ‘personalize’ it with some stickers so it would be less desirable to another person should I ‘forget’ it somewhere. Good Idea. So I ‘girlied’ it up with a flora decal right on the top of the netbook. No guy will claim that it’s his!!! And since I would be traveling with it, I decided that I’d better put my name on it; and so I did. Only I used my return address labels (floral again!) and put them in hidden places on the netbook. I also ‘labeled’ every single piece of cable that came with it as well as my phone and charger, camera and charger…..you get the idea!!!
This post was actually started 6 months ago and I just realized that I never published it. And so now I am 13 months after my cancer diagnosis and I have had my little netbook since November. I take it with me whenever I travel and it is now on its third trip. Sometimes I even use it at home because it is so convenient.
Currently I am traveling where my resort has free WiFi. Free WiFi. Those two words are absolute music to my ears when I travel. However, I am discovering that the wonderful Free WiFi that is provided at the Portland Airport is not readily found in other airports. Who says Portland is behind the times!!! Not!!! In fact we are the trend setters!!!! Portland was again voted one of the top airports in the country. It has always ranked very high with Flight Attendants and Pilots.
March 26, 2010
Here are some interesting travel quotes for you today.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. ~Mark Twain
I did not fully understand the dread term “terminal illness” until I saw Heathrow for myself. ~Dennis Potter, 1978
January 7, 2010
The Lan Su Garden is located at Northwest 3rd Avenue and Everett Street. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information: www.lansugarden.org .
November 11, 2009
Now it can be told… Portland Firefly has not been writing recently for several reasons… The best of which is that she has been traveling for the last two weeks. Yes, I have felt well enough to take a well-planned, wonderful trip to Spain. Soon you will have the opportunity to read of some of the beautiful places we visited, but this post has a more current message to convey.
As most of you know, I am a retired Flight Attendant. And part of my benefits is that I am able to fly for a very low-cost. I took advantage of this benefit and flew in the equivalent of first class for all four legs of my recent trip to Spain and back home again. Wow, what a wonderful experience!
I took the opportunity to speak to the lovely, professional Flight Attendants of American Airlines who were working the flights I traveled. You may recall that part of my ‘mission’ is to educate women about the subtle symptoms of the type of cancer that I have — primary peritoneal carcinoma , the deadly step-sister to ovarian cancer. I carried cards that list the symptoms and passed them out to the Flight Attendants after they had completed their service requirements. There were two who had friends with these symptoms and even though we hope that they have something else, at least they have a direction to check out the unexplained symptoms that their friends are having.
And talk about a fabulous service! These veteran Flight Attendants knew what they are doing and did it very well. As one who has walked in their shoes, I was especially appreciative of the excellent service provided on my flights from Portland to Dallas and Dallas to Madrid and back to Dallas and Portland again.
And so…. to all of my Flight Attendants, Portland Firefly sends a great big THANK YOU for four very memorable flights. You do make the difference and, of course, you know it. Keep up the good work and fly safe.
If you are interested in reading my post about the 9/11 terrorists that I had on board two of my flights prior to the terrorist attacks, just put 9/11 into the search box.
Thanks again from Portland Firefly.
October 23, 2008
When I flew to Orange County for my class reunion, the flight was almost completely full. I hoped to be sitting next to some business person who just wanted to read the paper and sleep, because that is what I wanted to do. I really didn’t care to carry on a conversation with anyone on this flight as I was tired from my late night shopping expedition to find THE dress for my reunion and getting up early for the flight (o-dark-thirty as we would say in the airline business!) and a soggy 90 minute drive to the airport in early morning traffic. As I boarded the aircraft, I noticed that there was a little head bobbing around in the row I was to sit in. “Great.” I thought, “Kids. Oh well… Gosh, there are two of them. ” I could see no parent in the row with them, just a teenager on the aisle next to them. ”Are they alone?” I wondered as I schlepped down the aisle with my roller-board and favorite travel purse big enough to hold my lunch, book, and makeup. As I arrived at the row, I realized that the parents were on the other side of the teenager. The family of five had the entire row except for my seat, which was the far window seat. The kids were really cute, a boy and a girl, contained excitement pouring out of them. I didn’t really want to climb over them to my window seat, and I thought that they might like to have the window seat, so I asked the Mom and “Yes!” they wanted the window seat. So, I settled into my aisle seat, putting me in the middle of this sweet family. In some way, I felt a part of this family, a great feeling, even if it was make-believe.
I came to realize that the reason for the family’s seating arrangement was because this was the first flight for the entire family except the father. The wife understandably wanted to be near her husband and the children were extremely well behaved. They were so well behaved that I know that they had been well trained their entire lives, not just “ordered” to “be good” on the flight. Their internal behavior controls were so well set that even with the excitement of their first flight, they never had the least little thought of misbehaving. They were a delight to their tired seat-mate, who only closed her eyes for about 20 minutes, choosing to interact with them rather than sleep during most of the flight.
Before we could take off, there was the matter of fastening the seat belts. Seat belts on aircraft operate differently that those in vehicles. As adults, we just somehow know how to fasten each of them without any problems. It was different for these two novice fliers. Sabrina took just a slight minute to figure it out, but Matthew was still struggling. As a former FA, I know the safety importance of knowing not only how to fasten your seat belt, but also how to UN-fasten it as well. So I wanted to make sure that they both knew how to un-fasten their seat belts as well as fasten them. This took a few minutes and Sabrina was like a concerned mother hen making sure that her little brother was buckled in just right! So sweet to see after all the sibling squabbles that I’ve observed over the years on planes. She was really taking good care of him to make sure he was safe. They were polite, attentive, interested in what was happening inside the plane as well as outside (now that they could see out of the window), and quiet.
One example of their good manners was after the beverage service and Matthew was finished with his beverage cup and pretzel bag and wanted to throw them away. He carefully watched what the Flight Attendant was doing (as all passengers do –Flight Attendants are the In-Flight Entertainment as there is nothing else to watch!). He could see her making her way from the front of the plane toward our row picking up the finished service items. He was ready. And so were his manners! Well, every time she got even remotely close to us, he would hold up his empty cup toward her and say very politely, “Would you please take this for me?” Well, she never heard him and didn’t even see him and evidently her trash bag was full, so she just walked past us back to the galley. He watched her go by and put his cup back down on the tray. Another FA walked by (her arms full) and he perked up and held his cup up toward this one and again said, as if for the first time “Would you please take this for me?” She too, unintentionally ignored him. “Uhm,” I thought, “this is getting interesting.” Then she walked back by us, this time going the other direction and he did and said the exact same thing in his sweet child’s voice. Same reaction… nothing. This happened at least two more times and I don’t know if I was more appalled by the Flight Attendant ignoring him or by the amazing fact that he never wavered in his sweet polite request of “Would you please take this for me?”. By the way, even I couldn’t get their attention, and I was sitting on the aisle! Trust me, if a FA isn’t ready to pick up your trash yet, she won’t. Finally one of the Flight Attendants realized that we had items to be picked up at our row and came and took our trash. And, sure enough, as though he had never uttered those words, he said very politely, as though it were the first time he said it, “Would you please take this for me?” Which she did. and then he said, ”Thank you.” I was impressed… good job Mom & Dad!
The reason for this family’s first time flight was THE TRIP to DISNEYLAND!!! No wonder the kids were excited! If you have ever flown from the Northwest to Southern California you know that the beautiful Pacific Ocean reveals itself from the fog & clouds when it is ready to do so. On today’s flight this happened somewhere south of Monterrey. All of a sudden you could see the beautiful blue ocean interspersed with the slashes of brown mountains that are the California Channel Islands. Time for a geography lesson –so I told the children what I knew about Mendocino, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and Santa Catalina islands. Then we were over Vandenberg AFB, then Oxnard and PT. Mago NAS, and this is where the gentlemen from the row in front of us joined in our scenic conversation. We were all enjoying pointing out areas of interest to these two little ones as they craned their necks to see out the window.
About this time, I finished up most of the water from my clear plastic water bottle. Time for a science lesson. I showed my seat mates how the water bottle looked now (normal and not collapsed) and I closed it up tight and put it into the seat pocket in front of me. I told them how after we landed, the bottle would look completely different without our doing anything to it. I explained that it had to do with “heavy air” and “light air” – phrases I have used to help children understand air pressure. I did a brief explanation and let it go at that. About 15 minutes later, Matthews ears really began to hurt. I explained that it had to do with the light air inside his ears trying to get out, but the heavy air in the cabin ( now that the cabin was again pressurized) was pushing hard to keep the light air inside his head and this difference is what causes the pain. Pulling out the now collapsed water bottle I had a visual for them to see what was happening inside their ears. l immediately showed them both the Vasalva maneuver which Sabrina could do right away. The only thing Matthew knew was that his ears hurt and he kept chewing his gum. Finally, after many instructions, he figured out how to do the Vasalva and guess what! His ears popped and he was fine!
When we pulled into the terminal area, Matthew saw the terminal building and knew that Disneyland was their final destination. He just figured that we were at Disneyland and kept asking me if that was Disneyland. I told him “No, that is the airport terminal.” several times, but he just wanted to believe that we were at Disneyland! He finally believed his Dad when he told Matthew that we were at the airport.
As happens on aircraft… most conversations are not private and my conversations with the children were no exception. The two gentlemen that were in the row in front of us heard everything and as we deplaned, one of them made a positive comment to me about the children. I said my goodbyes to the family and followed the gentlemen off the plane; that being the end of it, or so I thought.
Chapter 2 Fast forward two days later to Sunday evening after a busy, fun, weekend visiting and at my reunion. I had the same plans for the flight home that I had planned for the flight to Orange County — read a little then take a nap. It didn’t work out that way, again! As I was boarding my return flight home, I took my assigned seat and noticed that my seat mates looked vaguely familiar. No, it wasn’t the family that I was sitting between, it was the gentlemen who had been in the row in front of us on the flight down to OC! What are the odds of that?! They had participated in a special Golf Tournament over the weekend and were disappointed with their results so they were happy to be headed back home. We had a wonderful conversation and fun working the crossword puzzle on the flight home. It was a fun trip all around … the flight down to Orange County, the weekend reunion, and the flight back home. Just think how different my flights would have been if I had “just read my book and slept” as I had initally planned to do!!! It was much more fun to interact. I love the possibilites that travel presents if you open yourself up to them!
September 25, 2008
Travel always presents the opportunities for interesting stories and my visit to sunny California was no exception. I have three or four stories that I’ll be posting here in a few days… one of them about my cute seat mates on the flight down to Orange County and the other about my handsome ones on the flight home! I’ll also be telling you about an interesting housing situation in Downey and my thoughts about the reunion! Stay tuned!!! Ya’ll come back now!!!!