trip reflections

Over the past three weeks, I’ve posted frequently about the trip spouse B, daughter T, and I took to London to visit daughter E, her spouse L, our granddaughters ABC and JG, and L’s parents, with whom they live.

Here at Top of JC’s Mind, I always try to be truthful, so I must say that the best word to describe the trip as a whole is complicated.

It featured: L’s bout with Omicron that began several days before we arrived; delayed COVID test results that kept B and T in Newark overnight while I flew alone to London; bad colds for B and me; flares of chronic health conditions among several of us; a couple of bad backs; booster shot side effects; a lot of restless nights without adequate sleep; teething; upset tummies; a couple of strained backs; the news of the death of a friend back home; a badly swollen nose from JG throwing her head back into the person holding her, as toddlers are wont to do; a dearth of alone time for the introverts among us; the inadvisability of going to church for Christmas, Sundays, and Epiphany; JG’s reluctance to let us hold her if her mom was in the building; and a dead battery in our van after we flew back into Newark.

Despite all that there are many thing for which I am grateful:

That we were able to go at all, despite Omicron running rampant on both sides of the pond, and that the UK didn’t impose restrictions on private gatherings as they had done earlier in the pandemic. We appreciated the high level of compliance with masking and distancing and avoided crowds. I credit that, along with being triple vaxed with Pfizer/BioNTech and testing, for keeping us COVID-free.

Our Airbnb in E’s neighborhood, only a couple of blocks from their house. Being so close meant we didn’t need to go on public transport to visit. It also gave us the opportunity to have sleepovers, including having E, JG, and ABC overnight on Christmas Eve, just as L was able to finish up his COVID isolation period. It was fun to have Christmas stockings and breakfast with them at our place before going over to their house for Christmas dinner and presents. Four-year-old ABC was also thrilled to have some solo sleepovers with her Nana, Grandpa, and Auntie T, including our last night in town. ABC even got to help with making some Christmas cookies in our kitchen, reminding us of her days helping Grandpa in our kitchen back home in New York when she and E lived with us for over two years before E’s spousal visa came through.

Getting to have a lot of family meals together. Most were cooked at home, but we also were able to do some by delivery, including some yummy London fish and chips.

Walks in the neighborhood, in the parks, and to ABC’s school. She was on break most of the time we were there, but did have three days of school during our last week there. E and T even got to have a special sisters outing to a botanic garden. It was strange, though, to see some flowers still blooming, including roses. London was having an oddly warm spell. We did see quite a lot of holly and ivy, though, bringing to mind the traditional British Christmas carols.

Television and Internet. While we couldn’t go to church in person for fear of Omicron, we were able to watch Lessons and Carols live on Christmas Eve. I was able to watch recordings of liturgies from my local parishes back home on my laptop. We were also able to enjoy some children’s programming with ABC and JG. I especially like Bluey, an Australian series which is part of the CBeebies (BBC’s children’s television channel) line-up. ABC was also watching Frozen II and Encanto quite frequently, both of which were new to us.

The chance to renew bonds with ABC, who can remember us from when she lived with us. The opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to JG, who we met for the first time when she came to the States last August, just after she turned one. We are hoping that she will be able to realize who we are now when we videochat so that we aren’t starting from scratch again as strangers when next we meet, but it’s difficult to know if that is possible. A few months between visits is a significant chunk of a lifetime to a toddler.

Seeing E. Even though we were both tired and stressed, I appreciated the snatches of conversation we were able to have. I remember what it was like to be responsible for two little girls under five, with a lot of that time being solo. I sincerely wish I could be there more to help but that isn’t in the cards right now. The ocean is a big barrier, except for my love, sympathy, and empathy.

E will always have my heart.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/11/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-11th-2022/

not quite back home

We are back in the US but won’t make it home until tomorrow. We have at least a three hour drive tomorrow. We are hoping the forecast freezing rain does not materialize…

This jot is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/07/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2022-daily-prompt-jan-8th/ . No logos today. It feels like 1:45 AM at this point.

ready to fly

Negative COVID tests times three so we are ready to fly tomorrow. Dreading the good-byes tonight, especially with four-year-old ABC.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/01/07/daily-prompt-jusjojan-the-7th-2022/

Paco on the move!

October is a heavy-duty travel month for my family. It began with my trip to North Adams for the Boiler House Poets Collective’s fifth fall residency at MASS MoCA. (There are several posts about it earlier this month.)

On Sunday, my father, known here as Paco, and my two sisters flew to Ireland! Apparently, on Grandparents’ Day in September, Paco had been talking by phone with his grandson L and they talked a lot about Ireland, which is where Paco’s grandparents were from. L then called his mom (my younger sister) and said, “You need to take Paco to Ireland – now.”

In short order, she arranged for an expedited passport for Paco, made reservations for flights, accomodations, and a driver, and made lots of lists so everything would go smoothly. My older sister joined in to help and they jetted from JFK Airport to Shannon. It was the first time Paco had flown on a jet. His last plane flight had been coming home from the Korean Conflict! (He had also served in World War II.)

The three of them are now in the middle of a week in Killarney. They have a driver to take them out to see the sights. They have been sending us some photos and updates. Here is my favorite one of Paco so far:
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This evening, they were at a pub with a singer/guitarist performing. My sister requested “Danny Boy” for my father and it seems that everyone in the pub fell in love with Paco. One woman even came over and danced with him for a bit! Of course, what’s not to love about a 94-year-old man in a US Navy SeaBee cap, who is visiting Ireland for the first time?

SoCS: flying

I used to like to fly. The first time I flew I was in my early twenties and I loved looking out the window at all the landforms I had studied in geology and the clouds I had studied in meteorology. Those were also the days when checked baggage was free and so were snacks and meals. I even remember getting hot towels to freshen up at the end of a long flight – and this was in coach, not first class.

Now, I don’t like flying as much. Flights are really packed and service is  – ummm – let’s say spotty. For example, on my recent flight back to NYS from Hawai’i we had blankets for the flight over the ocean in the afternoon but no blankets for the overnight flight from LAX to Philly. The airline sent me an email to order food for that flight, except they don’t serve food that late at night. Originally, I had a morning flight into Binghamton from Philly, but the airline cancelled it so I was in Philly for five and half hours before getting to come home in the afternoon.

I guess in a way it is lucky that I don’t fly very often. Less to complain about and more money for my bank account.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is: “fly/flies/flew/flu/flue.”  Join us!  Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2015/07/17/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-1815/

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Cross-country

We are in Dulles airport (Washington DC) waiting for our connection to San Francisco. We will be flying over the storm system that has caused so many tornadoes and so much death and destruction with the unfortunate expectation that there will be more to come as it slowly moves eastward. Sending out thoughts and prayers on behalf of all those who have been affected and those who are in the path of this storm system.

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