Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to School Redux

Don't you love New York in the
fall? It makes me want to buy school
supplies. I would send you a bouquet of
newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your
name and address."
You've Got Mail

I love You've Got Mail and this quote from the movie was one of my favorites.

It's back to school time around these parts and for me it's the best time of year. Of course, I don't like seeing the end of my summer, but September, I love September.

Here, let me count the ways:

1. High School Football! Pom-Poms, majorettes, confetti, Friday nights, hot dogs, cokes, marching bands, dance teams, cheerleaders. The enthusiasm is contagious and even though I'm well, well, well, (okay enough!!) past those years, I still get emotional with the first drum cadence of the season.
One time we had a Superintendent who said, a winning football team can carry you all the way through the first semester. Clearly this guy had his priorities in the right place.:)

2. Dry Air! Yes, I said dry air. For a few frizz free weeks in the fall the humidity goes down and the temperature stays warm. Naturally curly unruly hair becomes manageable and darn near straight, a dream I've had since I was fourteen. In the summer humidity after a day at the beach, or just outside in the humidity, I looked like a Carmen Miranda impersonator. You know the picture, a woman with the fruit on her head as an adornment? In the '60s and '70s I longed for Joan Baez hair or hair like Mary Allin Travers from Peter, Paul and Mary. Parted in the middle and long and straight, no matter the weather. I also yearned for their vocal talent, another gift nature didn't bless me with. What I got instead was hair so unpredictable that I never went on a swimming date. A long walk in the moonlight was misery for me because when the walk was over and the lights of the dorm lobby hit me I had gone from Mary Travers, (a look I'd achieved after hours of work under a hairdryer bonnet with juice cans for rollers. Then a straightening iron that had absolutely no high heat monitor or automatic off switch. You could get 3rd degree burns on the side of your face and burn your dorm to the ground if you weren't careful) to Angela Davis in less than an hour. Dry air is my friend.

3. Colors! Red, Orange, Yellow, Apricot, Asparagus, Bittersweet, Brick Red, Burnt Orange, Burnt Sienna, Atomic Tangerine, Copper, Gold, Golden Rod, Indian Red, Mahogany, Dandelion, Neon Carrot, Olive Green, Vivid Tangerine, Radical Red, Raw Sienna, Razzmatazz Red, Sun Glow, Sunset Orange, Torch Red, Scarlett, Outrageous Orange, Laser Lemon, Unmellow Yellow, Sunset Orange, Torch Red, Scarlett.
If a trip to Maine or other parts north are out of the question, come to Western PA during the first two weeks of October. The Allegheny Mountains are awash with the colors of fall and splash against the sky an artist's palate of reds, oranges and yellows...and variations of those colors as mentioned above from the 64 count box of crayola crayons. :)

4. Pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, and corns stalks. Who doesn't like to hike through the pumpkin patch and find the perfect one on which to carve a scary face and frighten the beejeebers out of the little kids who come to the door?

5. Apples and Apple Cider. Simmer a pot of cider on the stove with a few sticks of cinnamon and guests will think they've walked onto Walton's Mountain in the fall.

6. Did I mention dry air and straight hair. :)

7. Fall clothes! Love, love, love fall clothes. Just enough coverage to hide troublesome spots, yet still light enough to be comfortable and fashionable.

8. Chrysanthemums....pots of these fall beauties all over the porch and deck. And do you know you can smell the seasons? Another reason to love the fall.

9. New students. Teaching was a great profession and I loved it. Kids were funny and nice and each year I got a whole bunch of new ones. Oh sure, there were a few here and there who could curl my hair... Ha!... as if. But for the most part, they were wonderful.

The first day of school and September and Fall were like New Years' day for me. I started fresh and reinvented myself when September rolled around. All the missteps of the previous year were forgotten, and promises were made to myself to do an even better job in the new year.

I'm retired now but when fall comes and I hear the cadence of the drums in the marching band, my eyes fill with tears and my heart is full of love.  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Southwest Airline ROCKS!

I was going to write about my experiences at BlogHer'12 last weekend.  But it's Olympic week and I thought this was more relevant.  I'll get back to BlogHer'12 later. 

Southwest Airlines gets the Gold for this one.

Our son Mike is a Track and Field Coach at the University of Illinois in Champaign.  Last month one of his athletes qualified to compete in Eugene, Oregon for a spot on the Olympic Pole Vault team. 

On the plane to Oregon sitting in a window seat Mike watched the luggage arrive on the carts.  He noticed the cylinders that held the poles moving down the conveyor belt.  All this disappeared under the plane as the baggage handlers loaded the luggage.

The flight attendants began securing the cabin making sure everyone was buckled in and they locked the cabin doors.  The plane began to back away from the gate and turn so that Mike and the plane were parallel to the gate they had just pulled away from.

Mike looked out the window again and saw the cylinders with the poles still on the conveyor.  Disaster!

He was heart sick and motioned quietly to the flight attendant.  He didn't want to make a scene because his athlete was across the aisle and he didn't want to alarm her. He said he also didn't want to get himself thrown off the plane and onto some "watch" list. :)

He told the attendant his situation and what he just saw. He told her they might as well get off the plane if the poles weren't on it. Poles are very an equestrian and his horse. This was a chance of a lifetime for his athlete and all he could was watch from the window as the plane moved away.
The attendant said what you might expect.  They could not go back to the gate at this point. The doors were locked and they were third in line for take off.  She said she'd call the pilot just in case. He watched her go to the front of the cabin and make the call.  

She came back to Mike and said she was sorry, but it was impossible to turn around.  

(Putting the poles on another flight was not an option because they wouldn't arrive in time for her event. It's a long story but through no fault of Mike's or his athlete they were already late for the meet.)

So, Mike sat as the plane inched forward for take-off knowing there were no pole vault poles on board. 

Suddenly, Mike and the passengers felt the plane begin to make a sharp left turn and circle back to the gate.  The pilot came on and apologized to the passengers saying they had a baggage issue and would be delayed about 30 minutes.  Mike watched from his window as the the conveyor belt with the poles appeared again and heard the baggage compartment open as the poles were loaded onto the plane. 

Cool huh?  But wait, there's more.....

Nearing their destination, the pilot came on the intercom to inform passengers they were beginning their descent to the Eugene airport. He apologized for the delay saying,

"We have an Olympic Pole Vault hopeful on board and we forgot her poles.  We had to go back and get them."   

The entire plane erupted in applause. (Most of the passengers were going to Eugene to watch the trials.) The pilot continued, asking the athlete and her coach to remain on the plane for a few minutes when they landed so he could meet them and personally apologize.  Mike told us he was thinking, "Apologize to us? I want to thank them!"  

Not only did the pilot and co-pilot apologize, but they gave his athlete a $100 voucher for Southwest Airlines.

Nice, right?

But wait, there's still more....

As Mike talked to the pilot and co-pilot he learned that on this flight the co-pilot actually out-ranked the pilot.  The co-pilot filled in at the last minute so he could get to Eugene, OR to watch the trials.  

Apparently the co-pilot overheard the pilot's end of the phone conversation with the flight attendant and a small argument ensued in the cockpit resulting in the plane going back for the poles.  

Why was this co-pilot so adamant about turning the plane around and getting the poles, you might ask? 

Hold on to your hats, folks.....besides just being the right thing to do,  this co-pilot's daughter was also a pole vaulter competing in the same event as Mike's athlete! :)

Heads probably rolled and money was probably lost.....but hearts were saved! :)

Way to Go, Southwest Airlines, YOU ROCK!