Sunday, April 26, 2015

Whirlwind

Sorry for the blog absence. I got home from my Chicago trip late Wednesday afternoon. Thursday was spent grocery shopping, doing laundry, and catching up on a long list of things that needed my attention after being away for a week. Friday I had to drive down to Bellingham to pick up Rebekah, who is here again to take care of some things before their move back to Vancouver next month. And Saturday was spent recovering.

There is so much to blog about - a knitalong I've joined on Ravelry, two little sweaters I've finished knitting for Lucy, a new favourite kitchen product, along with some other odds and ends. But I want to devote this post to the Chicago trip.

My mom and I had to catch a 6:00 AM flight. I don't recommend this as an optimal departure time, especially when travelling with an elderly parent. There were some tense moments. Then we were going to leave my vehicle at the Park-n-Ride near the airport, but in the dark, and with my brain not quite engaged due to the ungodly hour, I managed to miss the turn-off. More tense moments.

Then the real fun began. It turns out that Southwest Airlines (or maybe all US airlines, I'm not sure) have a policy that if you don't show up within a certain time period before your flight they can mark your luggage as late, and don't guarantee it will get on the plane with you. We missed the cut-off by about three minutes. More tense moments. The very nice airline employee said not to worry, it was a small airport and she was sure the luggage would make it on. She even promised to come let me know at the gate once she saw it get on the plane. I think she could see my mom was not happy.

So all of that had happened and it wasn't even 5:30 in the morning. This may be an overly pessimistic view of the world, but I think it's a general rule in life that when your day has already started on a rapid downhill trajectory and it isn't even 6:00 yet, things probably aren't going to turn around. We were meant to fly to Denver, then change planes and go on to Chicago. I could do a series of blog posts on the events that transpired over the next eight hours, but will spare you the pain of having to read the gruesome details.

The Reader's Digest version is, our plane got diverted to Pueblo, Colorado due to weather in Denver. Eight other planes got diverted to Pueblo as well, and we had to wait in a queue to get more fuel before we could try landing in Denver again. While waiting they finally got some air stairs pulled up to the plane and we were told we could get off the plane, but if we did so we would not be allowed back on for security reasons. After waiting an hour and a half we finally taxied out to the runway, but then sat there for another hour because the pilots had just been told there was now wind shear in Denver. Any chance of making our connecting flight was gone. All I can say is thank heavens I had my knitting with me. And a phone plan that allows me to use my phone in the US, so my brother and I could alter our plans for when he would pick us up at the airport.

I'll skip over the nightmare of getting us onto the next available flight out of Denver to Chicago. Just picture an airport full of angry people whose flights had all been messed with, and airline workers who looked like their day wasn't going so great either, and you'll have the general idea. Many tense moments, and by now my mom was done. She had had it, and I felt terrible. But there wasn't anything I could do but keep us moving forward. We got on the next flight out with minutes to spare. At this point I would just like to say that sometimes, in the midst of an awful thing, a good thing can happen, and that good thing is magnified because of the timing. As we boarded the flight I spoke with the flight attendant about getting something for my mom, who is diabetic and had missed lunch, a little something to eat. Several passengers overheard and offered food to my mom, and those acts of kindness really took the rough edges off of what was a less than brilliant experience.

We proceeded without incident on to Chicago. Well, except for when the flight attendant snapped at me over the loudspeaker to sit down as I tried to go use the washroom. I've never seen an airline take turbulence, real or imagined, so seriously. Of course, I knew that there was no way our luggage made it onto the plane. We barely made it on. So in spite of the reassurance in Spokane that our luggage would get to Chicago when we did, it ended up coming in on that 9:30 flight after all, and my brother had to make an extra trip back to the airport to pick it up.

I'm happy to report that the rest of our time was wonderful. My niece Danielle was with us for the weekend. We played many hands of pinochle.


My brother and I went for long walks every day. While we were at this nature reserve I spotted cardinals, blue jays, and eastern bluebirds. Here I am trying to get a picture of a jay.


Saturday evening my mom had bought tickets for us to go to Tommy Gun's Garage. It's a dinner theatre set up like a Speakeasy during the Prohibition Era in the 1920s. My mom and dad had gone to the show many years ago when visiting Chicago, and my mom wanted me to see it. We had a great time! Here's my mom being led in by one of the gangsters.


My brother knows how much I love to knit, so he made sure were had time before the show to stop at Loopy Yarns. Thanks to blog reader Sue at Granny's World who emailed me about this shop! Of course I had to buy a souvenir skein of yarn. I had the lady put it into a cake so my mom and brother could see how a ball winder and swift worked.


Then my brother surprised me by buying one of their beautiful hand thrown pottery yarn bowls!


Sunday we played more cards, and in the evening went to Mastro's Steakhouse. The food was great, and our server was a dead ringer for Aidan Turner, the actor who plays the part of Ross in the new BBC series Poldark.


We had an uneventful flight home on Tuesday. The only glitch was a delay with our connection in Las Vegas. Somehow, my mom didn't seem to mind this as much as she did sitting on the tarmac in Pueblo.


So that's it. Chicago done and dusted. My apologies for a very long-winded post. I've gotten behind in my blog reading while I was away, so my apologies for that as well. I'm happy to be home, and hope to catch up with all of you this week.

46 comments:

  1. And that according to Readers Digest is why I don't fly anymore. Conga Rats on making trip turn out to be fun afterall.

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    1. It was almost enough to make me swear off flying ever again, Lynne. It was a truly horrible experience, and there was even more to it than I blogged about. We had a great time once we got there, but the ordeal on Friday had definitely tired my mom out, which was a shame.

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  2. Welcome home, Kristie. It sounds like you might need a holiday to recover from your vacation, haha! I agree with Lynne - flying is why I don't travel much these days. We have a nice train trip to look forward to in June, though! -- Ruth

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    1. A train trip sounds perfect! It's my favourite mode of transportation. You get to see the country side, and can knit at the same time. Where are you going?

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  3. I am glad your stay in Chicago was fun after all those delays on the journey. Your new yarn bowl is rather adorable, I have never seen anything like it before. I hope you manage to catch up with post holiday laundry etc soon. Have a great week. xx

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    1. I'm finally caught up with the laundry, just in time to need to do another round of it. The yarn bowl is so nice I'm almost afraid to use it! I don't want a rambunctious dog knocking it down and breaking it.

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  4. It sounds like you had a really good time! I'm glad that, even with the icky start, it still turned out ok!!! What a great brother you have...maybe someday mine will buy me nice things like that yarn bowl.... Have a good week :)

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    1. I do have a nice brother, Nicole. He is kind and thoughtful, and I think it was his way of thanking me for escorting my mom out to Chicago to visit him. Give your brother some time. It can take them a few years to mature properly, sort of like wine and cheese. :-)

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  5. happy you had good time with your mom and brother with family

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    1. Thanks Mizumatte! It was a really nice time together.

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  6. EEP. That is why I don't want to fly! I don't do well under intense moments and you had a string of them. I'm glad you had fun once you got there and how nice you had your family together :)

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    1. I don't do well with stressful events either, Karen. Knitting always helps though, which is why I was so glad to have it with me while we sat on the runway for all that time. I was able to knit two boleros for Lucy when I was away, thanks to the delay. :-)

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  7. Bless you for taking the trip with your mom. I took my mom to Ottawa while she was still able to travel and I am very glad I did. It sounds like you have some good memories to cherish and eventually the stress will fade.

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    1. I'm glad you were able to do the Ottawa trip with your mom, Elizabeth. Yes, doing these things while they are still able is so important. And you're right, the stress of that flight will eventually fade and hopefully it just becomes a funny story. I'm just not quite there yet! :-)

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  8. Bless you for taking the trip with your mom. I took my mom to Ottawa while she was still able to travel and I am very glad I did. It sounds like you have some good memories to cherish and eventually the stress will fade.

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  9. I'm glad you had a lovely weekend with your family, but OMG to your flights there - argh don't you hate when EVERYTHING goes wrong!!

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    1. Yes, having everything go wrong is awful, but I learned something on this trip. It's even worse with an elderly parent along. :-)

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  10. Oh my goodness, what an ordeal to get through, you and your Mom must have been exhausted, poor you, not nice at all. I hope that you are fully recovered now. Your brothers yarn bowl gift is wonderful isn't it, how very kind of him. xx

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    1. Thanks Amy! Yes, I am fully recovered. Truth be told, it's the drive to my mom's home that exhausts me the most. At least the day we were flying I was able to knit and read, something I can't do on the long drive. The yarn bowl is very special, and at the moment is sitting on top of my fireplace mantle. I'm hesitant to actually use it for fear it might get broken.

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  11. Oh dear, what a very difficult day you had Kristie, and what a worry regarding your Mum. Thank goodness you and the luggage all arrived safe and sound in Chicago. Your Mum is quite the character: look at her there, enjoying the delights of Las Vegas! Your bird-watching sounds really nice - hope I get to see some of those.

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    1. Next to the yarn bowl, seeing those birds was my favourite part of the trip. I have spotted cardinals a few times before when I've been in Ontario, but I had never seen blue jays or eastern bluebirds. The first thing I thought of when I saw the cardinals was you, Patricia! I'm sure you'll see some when you are visiting your family. :-)

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  12. It's great to get home again! I love the yarn bowl - I saw some at Yarndale but they are expensive so I didn't get one. But I really would love one!

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    1. I agree. It's always nice to get back home again, no matter how nice a time one has when away on a holiday. As for the yarn bowls, yes they are a bit pricey. I was so worried it would get broken on the flight home, but the lady wrapped it really well in bubble wrap and all was well.

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  13. What a nightmare journey for you both, Kristie. I always hate connections, whether plan, train or bus as so many things can go wrong. :( I'm glad that the rest of your trip was so obviously wonderfully enjoyable. Your mom looks like a real trouper. :)

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    1. Planes and trains have an advantage over planes in that at least you have your luggage in hand when you connect. My mom was a trouper, but I doubt my brother will be able to convince her to fly back any time soon. :-)

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  14. Gosh, your trip out there sounds like a real nightmare. I'm sorry. I've had a couple of those myself and it really puts a damper on things when it happens on the trip out, especially. It looks like you made the best of it and your mom sounds like she did okay, considering everything that happened. I loved seeing the things you did with your brother's family. He sounds like fun. I'm glad you had a nice trip and visit with your family all in all. Hope you have a good week. :)

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    1. Yes, it does put a damper on things when it happens on the way out. I've had things go wrong flying back from holidays, and even though it is annoying I can just shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well." My mom did okay, but the sad thing was it tired her out and she never fully recovered while we were in Chicago.

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  15. Goodness that was some trip, I don't envy you that. Glad the rest of your trip was successful and you enjoy Loopy Yarns.

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    1. I am afraid it is what flying has degenerated into these days. Delays and lost luggage seem to be very commonplace. It helped a lot that our actual time in Chicago was so nice. Thanks for the tip about that yarn store!

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  16. Gosh, or maybe I mean eek ... all's well that ends well seems to be all that's left to say!

    What will you knit with the yarn you bought?

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    1. Eek and gosh would be two of the milder words that would apply to what happened. :-)

      I just bought a skein of sock yarn. I got it because it is a kind that is made in Chicago. I'm saving most of my yarn budget for my trip to Ireland in September.

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  17. So glad you had a good time and a better trip home after such a dreadful start. Your poor Mum, how lovely so many offered her food. I love the bowl your brother bought you, I;m sure it will rarely be empty! Sarah x

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    1. The offers of food really did a lot towards redeeming that day, Sarah. The yarn bowl is proudly sitting on my fireplace mantle, filled with the souvenir skein of yarn I bought in Chicago.

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  18. You could get off the plane, but not get back on??? That makes no kind of sense! It is really nice to hear that your fellow passengers were kind. That makes up for a lot. I might be noticing a trend about your family. It seems everyone is fit. I thought that was your niece taking a picture of the jay. I think I would enjoy the show at the speakeasy--I talk with my kids as if I was around turing that time. :)

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    1. As crazy as it sounds, yes, that's what we were told. I guess if we stepped out for some fresh air we would be a security risk. And yes, the kindness of those perfect strangers made up for a lot. You aren't the first person to comment on a resemblance between my niece and me. I don't think we look at all alike, but it seems I'm in the minority. :-)

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  19. Oh man, what a trip, travelling epithet elderly parents can be tough at the best of times. I'm sure you will look back one day , roll your eyes but be happy you helped your mom see your brother and family. Very nice yarn bowl, it is sure pretty! I know what you mean though, things get knocked here all the time! It will be fun shopping for wool in Ireland!!

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  20. It sounds like you had a lovely trip--once you got there!

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    1. It was great Cathy, but I must confess it took a bit to work past the day spent getting there.

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  21. I think you're right, if the day starts off badly it never seems to pick itself up again. For you it was doubly difficult because you had your mum to consider too, glad though that in the end you had a really nice time.
    Having bought your book Ting Ting for my grand daughter at christmas I asked her on Monday if she had read it yet. Indeed she has and her review - really, really good!

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    1. Thank you so much for the feedback on my book, Jacqueline, and thank you for gifting it to your granddaughter. Please tell her I'm so glad she enjoyed it!

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  22. You deserve a medal for undertaking a trip like this, with or without an elderly relative. I liked the look of that Grandpa Sweater, but it does not come in new-born size, which is what I need for Pine Ridge.

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    1. Shandy, I think you might be able to knit a newborn size of this sweater if you used a finer weight yarn and smaller needles, but the question would be whether or not it would retain its shape. And I think my medal for the trip was my yarn bowl. :-)

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  23. Sounds like you had a terrible journey! Glad to hear that you had a wonderful time once arrived.

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    1. The journey itself was terrible, but we had a nice time once we got there which mostly made up for it. I don't feel like getting on a plane again any time soon though. :-)

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  24. What a trip!!!! Oh my goodness you must have been so exhausted before you even arrived. I am so glad you got some alone time with your brother and had a wonderful time on your adventure in Chicago. A little trip to the yarn store and a beautiful yarn bolw always helps too.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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