Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Minnesota Nice, Home Nicer

Well, actually, this photo was taken in Wisconsin...

Sue, Dale, and the rest of my blog buddies have probably despaired long ago of regular updates from me. I know, guys, I know. The thing is, you have to sit in one place long enough to be able to write anything. That hasn't exactly described my summer to date.

Today is Labor Day, and I've already done my labor for the day. BCCME held a Board meeting over at the Panera Bread in Biddeford. I swilled coffee and scribbled notes. That's the extent of today's effort, thankyouverymuch. The weather is lovely, Greg's practicing piano, I'm drinking wine, and the pups are eagerly awaiting the time when we fire up the grill. Business as usual tomorrow, but today is ours.

So Whatcha Been Up To?

My other blog details Dinah's and my adventures in Canada with our partners-in-crime Val and Traveler. Quick summary: We went, we saw, we kicked butt, we drove a long way, and we replaced the radiator in my car.

Although I hadn't planned it to happen that way, I spent about 12 hours at home between the last trip and the next one. This gave me just barely enough time to drop the bag with the dirty laundry, pick up the one with the clean laundry, and boogie to the airport to catch the plane to Minneapolis. I was still fairly pie-eyed from the long drive back from Gananoque by the time I left again.

I'm not the superstitious type, but if I had been thinking clearly, I might have realized that the bag I'd packed for Minneapolis was none other than the Notorious Lose-Me Bag. This freakin' bag has been cursed since the day I bought it in the Target in Omaha, Nebraska to carry home a bunch of stuff I'd accumulated while at the 2005 BCCA National. It got lost on that flight home, and has managed -- I kid you not -- to get sucked into the Bermuda Triangle on every single flight it's taken since. This is the bag that took the vacation to London while I went to Vancouver Island last year. It hasn't been lost in about a year, but that correlates directly with the number of times I've taken it on a plane in the past twelve months (zero).

Anyway, it was only while I stood in line at the bag check counter in Portland that I realized that I'd packed The Notorious Lose-Me Bag and was about to send it on another glorious round-the-world vacation. I mentally budgeted funds for the extra clothing and supplies I'd need while it visited Shanghai, or Auckland, or someplace I wasn't going.

To my shock, the bag actually followed me to Minneapolis, through a stop in Baltimore and a plane change in Atlanta. If I were a betting person, I would have put money on it going AWOL in Atlanta.

I visited Minnesota to help out with some 2009 BCCA National business. The show chair and a couple of the other chairs would be visiting the club president during that week, so I planned to be there at the same time (I'm the official Web monkey for the show). It only occurred to me later that I'd really have to beat it home from Canada in order to get out there in time.

We had a blast in Minnesota. We visited the host hotel, herding venue, auction/40th-anniversary banquet venue, and agility venue for the show. We pored over the various suggested fundraisers and the show trophies, designed the souvenir logo coffee mug, and had ourselves a fun and creative time. We even found time to hang out at a local brewpub downtown and enjoy the evening. We dropped by a dog show just in time to see Best of Breed in Beardies and browsed all the vendors there. We even had a fabulous chicken dinner with Jane and Sandy, who own Dinah's handsome blue half-brother Widget (Breaksea Boddy's Brew).

Cindy, the show chair, and I had planned things so we'd leave for home on the same day. Her plane left in the morning and mine in the afternoon, so I figured I could amuse myself in the airport for a few hours in the usual fashion: drinking coffee, knitting socks, and buying tacky tourist postcards to send to everybody. Sadly, MSP Airport is deeply lacking in tacky tourist stuff, and I was forced to buy actual nice postcards. They didn't even have a single crummy postcard of the statue of Mary Tyler Moore. Really, where's the fun in that?!

While I was browsing the sparse offerings in the postcard department, Murphy's Law was busy working its usual airline magic. On the day I planned to fly home, Hurricane Fay faded to a tropical storm and poured rain on the whole Southeast. Hurricane Gustav became a hurricane and bore down on Cuba. The FAA suffered a massive system failure that had the greatest effect on the two airports I'd be traveling through: Atlanta and then Baltimore. Oh, and did I mention I'd already checked the Notorious Lose-Me Bag?

The scheduled departure time for our flight was delayed, and delayed again. I did the math and realized that even if we settled on an actual departure time, there was no way in H-E-double-hockey-sticks that I would make the only evening flight from Baltimore to Portland that day. I took my place in line to discuss my options with the airline staff at the gate.

The airline rep explained to me that I had two options at that point: stay another night in Minneapolis, or get as far as Baltimore and stay there. Either way, I'd be a guest of the airline and could set things up for the very first flights out the next morning. Even if the weather and system issues forced me to miss the first flight out, at least I'd have a couple more schedules to choose from before having to miss the last flight home. I decided to opt for Minneapolis, and called my friends to let them know. The airline rep called baggage and asked them to locate my bag and bring it out to the carousel, and then she promised to meet me at the ticket counter with a hotel voucher after I retrieved my bag.

Obediently, I toddled off to the baggage carousel. I waited, and waited, and waited. No bag. No people with bags. Nobody with my bag.

After some time had passed, I met the airline rep at the ticket counter. She handed me the voucher for the hotel and the hotel's phone number. She also looked up my baggage claim check, and verified that since I'd checked my bag in early, it had been shipped off home on an earlier flight. It didn't occur to me then to ask why I couldn't have been shipped off on the same flight. At least she was readily able to verify that it was indeed in Portland, Maine -- not Portland, Oregon or Oporto, Portugal. I could pick it up when I deplaned the next day.

So there I was, with only the very casual clothes on my sweaty carcass and my single carry-on bag (containing my laptop and my knitting), headed for the Park Plaza Hotel. I didn't exactly feel appropriate for the occasion. The hotel staff, used to taking in airline orphans, provided me with a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a miniature Lady Speed Stick in addition to the usual hotel-room toiletries. I showered, took dinner to my room, and managed to feel as normal as one can without clean clothes. I knitted a sock and watched the tube, and enjoyed the high-speed broadband. Life was almost good.

The next day, I made it home without incident. I knew I'd touched down on my own Mainiac soil again the moment I heard someone else greet a relative with "Welcome to Pawtland, deah!". My bag was waiting for me exactly where it was supposed to be. If it visited any other cities on its trip home, it wasn't saying.

It's a Sock! No, It's a Milestone!

Hard to believe, but I actually finished the second of Jody's Yankee Knitter socks on this trip! They're lovely -- Jawoll yarn in autumnal-colored stripes which she'll just love -- and of course, I only remembered to take a photo of them after they'd already been shipped off in the mail.

I thought I'd never finish that pair of socks. I tore out and re-knitted the heel twice on Sock #2, and then I messed up once more and ripped it all the way back to the initial slipknot. I was positive I'd have to send one sock and one ball of yarn with a little note attached saying, "Sorry. Just wind this around your other foot."

Those suckers are done and now living the good life in their new home, and I've even made a couple of inches' worth of progress on their successors: another Yankee Knitter pair in red Happy Feet yarn with terrific, subtle color variations in the red. At least for now, Happy Feet is my current favorite sock yarn. (That's because I can't quite bring myself to buy some of the Opal Harry Potter yarn while I still own 60-odd balls and skeins of various brands of sock yarn. I want it badly, though. Badly.)


sue said...

Well if we were looking at a good point of things... your traveling bag makes for a very interesting blog!!!! course, your adventures are interesting too, don't take me wrong... but it's pretty funny about the bag!!!!! glad you have had safe travels....and hopefully can have some home time for a bit....

Flymaine said...

Bags do have a way of disappearing! Their disappearance is inversely proportional to the emotional attachment to the bag and its items! Oddly the airlines know this...they must scan for emotional attachment...and those bags get jetisoned to planes headed for Tinbucktoo and beyond. I rarely check a bag anymore, way too risky!