Is airline travel for the faint of heart?

PH-BQC KLM  B777-200  & sunset

The Significant Other, the Son, Roxy, and I recently visited the city of Prague. After years of staring at this city’s name on my bucket list, I thought it was time.

The Son wasn’t too keen on going but I played the mom card. You know, the one that induces so much guilt, the child in question (or young adult, in this case) has no option other than comply.

“Honey, mom needs this. You’ve been talking about moving out and I’m struggling. I really think this trip will help with the transition and who knows, it might even prevent  “empty nest syndrome.”

Of course he caved and just like that, I was busy searching for a way to fly for peanuts.

To my delight, KLM had a special fare and we snatched it up. Unfortunately, our good luck didn’t last. Little Roxy’s ticket cost more than our own and came with a list of travel stipulations.

The day of the flight, they asked for her passport (dogs in Europe have a document called a passport where all vaccinations and health notes are recorded), microchip card, and health certificate. They asked that she stand, turn around, and lay in her bag. The procedure was so thorough, I thought they’d call the pilot to do a rectal exam on the poor pup.

Aware that we were irritated, the KLM associate said, “You understand that it’s important that our furry travelers are comfortable and meet flight criteria, don’t you?”

I replied, “With what you’re charging, why don’t you give them their own seat?” The Significant Other chimed in, “More importantly, why don’t passengers get treated to the same considerations?” At this point, the Son walked away and pretended not to know us.

I’m convinced airlines do their best to annoy customers. “Will you be stowing that in the overhead bin?” the woman handling our tickets asked, pointing to my purse.

Tempted to say, “No, I’m wearing it on my head,” I nodded. Exasperated, she sputtered, “No, no no! Small items must go under the seat in front of you.” The Significant Other asked, “Isn’t that where Roxy’s going?” Rolling my eyes I turned to him and said, “Yes, which means my bag will be under your seat. However, if that leaves you with little leg room, perhaps Roxy can wear it on her head.”

Meanwhile, the Son, who was standing ten feet away but still listening to our exchange, sent me a text that read, “For sure this is the last time I am flying with you freaks. Never again, mom!”

Boarding passes in hand, we approached the line at security. I turned to the Son who was sporting both dark sunglasses and a beard that would make Moses proud and whispered, “If they pull you over for a ‘random’ security check, don’t make a fuss.” Sighing deeply, he inched forward.

“Ma’am, ma’am, can you please step to the side? You’ve been selected for a random security check.” A fast approaching middle aged woman with a ten pound dog and a purse the size of an envelope and I was being pulled to the side? The irony was not wasted on the Son who laughed under his breath as he waltzed past me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the size of airline seats. “Honey, are these seats getting smaller or are my hips spreading wider?”

“Is this a trick question?” asked the Significant Other.

“Don’t answer that!”, warned the Son, “No matter what you say, this will not end well!”

Muttering “idiots,” I squeezed my ample, yet fantastic hips into the “torture chair” and prayed the arm rest wouldn’t have to be surgically removed upon arrival.

An hour and a half later, we arrived in Prague and folks, it was worth every irritant that lead up to it. Pictures do not do this city justice. I believe it is by far one of the most beautiful places in Europe.

There is much to say about our trip, but for now I’ll leave you with a few captures. Stay tuned for more posts about our travels.

Prague 1

Prague 2

Prague 3

What’s your favorite European city?
Continue reading “Is airline travel for the faint of heart?”

Roxy turns five!

Roxy birthday

Hello Everyone,

Our little Miss turned five this weekend! Our celebration was nothing short of spectacular as Roxy was finally able to return to the dog park. I’ve spent the last six months curbing her little outbursts by rewarding good behavior. Unfortunately, munching on too many homemade peanut butter doggie treats has resulted in a slight weight gain. While the extra pound makes Roxy all that much cuter, she now has to lose it to fly in the cabin when we travel this summer.

On another happy note, the Son graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Communication. And with Magna Cum Laude to boot! Like the Grinch, I felt my heart grew three sizes upon seeing my baby’s name on the graduation ceremony program. Indeed, it was the moment that finally allowed me to exhale.

I also want to take this opportunity to offer an apology for my absence. A shout out to Monica and Nan, whose support have helped me through these past ten months. Thank you, ladies! I love you! Much like Lemony Snicket, my life has been a series of unfortunate events, ranging all the way from surgeries to the unexpected death of a family member. It has not been easy, folks, but I’m still standing.

I have missed blogging, writing, and most of all, visiting your blogs. Please forgive my absence. It has not been intentional. However, with so much worry hanging in the air, my muse took to hiding. Nevertheless, things are looking up and guess what? Summer is just around the corner and you know what that means!

Yes, another summer of blogging from sunny Spain! I look forward to getting back in the writing saddle and catching up with your blogs. I have missed you!


The scent of greed

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Pockafwye

The doorbell rang just as she was about to take the first bite of the succulent chicken breast. Irritated, she stood up, grabbed her cane and made her way to the door. Opening it, she saw a small girl dressed in dirty clothes.

“Do you have a cent to spare?” said the child, rubbing her stomach. “I haven’t eaten in three days.”

“Be gone with you, child! There is no money in this house,” replied the old woman slamming the door.

Making her way back to the dining room, she sat down and devoured the plate of food before her.

An hour later, as the old woman eased herself onto the couch for her afternoon nap, a niggling worry began to take hold. Was her money safe? Was it still where she had left it? Grabbing her cane, she limped to the sitting room. Pulling back the old tapestry that hung on the dilapidated wall, she saw a hole the size of her fist. Leaning in close, she felt her nose twitch as she inhaled the smell of old money. Reaching inside, she felt the familiar feel of the bills and cackled as she grabbed a fistful.

Time and time again, the old woman reached into the hole until it was empty. The worn wooden coffee table, littered with the bills, creaked under their weight. To look at the threadbare furnishings, no one would suspect the fortune that lay hidden in the wall.

As the old woman counted her money, she thought of the beggar child. Not because she felt pity, but instead, because she feared her secret hiding place was no longer a secret. Carefully pushing the bills back into the hole, she once again inhaled their aroma. It hung in the air–a cross between damp grass and chicory wood. Smiling to herself, the old woman thought nothing had ever smelled sweeter.

Later that evening, as she lay her head on the pillow, she pondered how she needed to move her money to a safer place. One could never be too trusting, especially since her house stood in a neighborhood where poverty abounded. Angrily punching the pillow she muttered, “Gypsies, the whole lot of them.” Closing her eyes, she again thought of the beggar girl. Insolent imp. Just another piece of worthless filth sent out to beg and irritate decent folk who worked to earn their keep. No, she refused to give a second thought to the dirty ragamuffin who had interrupted her lunch. She had no intention of losing sleep over someone who was worth less than the mangy cat which slept at the foot of her bed.

The next day, just as she was about to sit on the worn leather couch, the doorbell rang. Grabbing her cane, she hobbled to the door. Briskly throwing it open, she saw what was soon becoming a familiar face.

“Do you have a cent to spare?” the little girl whispered as she tugged on her matted hair.

“Are you deaf, child? I told you yesterday I had no money. Go away and don’t come back!” the old woman screamed, waving her cane menacingly.

Minutes later, as the old woman peered out the window, the niggling worry once again unsettled her. Had she covered the hole with the tapestry? Had she drawn the curtains tightly? Limping back to the room, she went through the ritual of removing the tapestry to feel inside the hole. The scent of damp grass and chicory reassured her all was well.

The ticking of the clock kept her awake that night. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Much as she tried, she could not fall asleep. Tomorrow, she would move the money to a different hiding place. Trying to squelch her fears, she squeezed her eyes shut and willed herself to sleep.

The little girl felt faint as she walked back to the old woman’s house that night. Her belly rumbled loudly. Tripping on the cobblestones, she almost dropped the dingy sack she was carrying. In the dead of night, the strange sounds coming from the bag sounded ominous. Trying hard not to stumble, the girl carefully placed one foot in front of the other. Reaching the drain pipe that stuck out from one of the walls of the old woman’s house, the girl carefully untied the sack. Placing the sack over the pipe, she heard the rats claw their way into their new home. Turning to go, the little girl whispered, “Now you will truly not have a cent to spare.”

The sun’s rays shone through the crack where the dark curtains had separated. Placing the kettle on the fire, the old woman looked at the clock. Angry at herself for having slept so late, she sat down and buttered a crusty piece of bread. And then she heard it. Soft at first and then louder. The scratching sound seemed to come from the sitting room. Grabbing her cane, she dragged herself to the room. Limping as fast as she could, she felt the adrenaline cursing through her body. Finally reaching the hole, she forcefully pulled back the tapestry and felt it tear.

This time, the scent of money did not assault her senses. Her breath caught in her throat. Her heart thundered in her chest and her hands started to tremble. And then she saw it. A loud piecing scream interrupted the morning’s silence. The old woman grabbed her chest and staggered backwards. There, nestled comfortably in a pile of shredded money, sat three huge rats. Scream after scream filled the house. The little girl, standing in the street below, laughed heartily as she walked away.

Flash fiction from sunny Spain,