Thursday, July 9, 2009
If you ever get a chance to land in Dulles International Airport, Washington, from another country, don’t. You’ll be herded through a half-mile long corridor to a gigantic room containing up to a thousand people. You’ll move through the cordoned lanes, zig-zag style, for an hour or so to reach the official who will look at your passport, ask you where you’ve been and why, and then stamp your passport.
Next you’ll go to the baggage claim to retrieve your suitcases. You’ll re-check the ones you want checked and take the others to be x-rayed – again, because of course they were already x-rayed before you boarded the plane and they haven’t been anywhere since then except right here in the customs area. They call this security, but it’s only the illusion of it. It’s just another layer of bureaucracy to make things appear more secure. (At Heathrow, they check your passport 5 times, which likewise doesn’t serve to make anything any more secure than if they had checked it only, say, twice.)
We had an interesting cab driver from the airport home, from the Sudan. Did you know there’s uranium in Darfur? Along with a plenitude of other valuable natural resources? And of course the big powers want it. That’s why the rebels there are so well-armed.
* * *
We came home to disaster. Our two adult cats are twice the size they were when we left them, obese butterballs. They greeted us on the stairs, although they were supposed to have been kept shut in one room. Their litter box had not been changed frequently enough, so they had found somewhere else to use as a latrine: the master bed. It’s a king-sized bed, and the yard-wide stain, not made all in one go or even two or three, had soaked through the sheets and mattress cover and well into the mattress. The mattress had been knocked out of alignment. The odor will never come out. I had to throw away everything, even the pillows, everything except the top blanket, one I had crocheted myself, which, curiously, was not stained, although everything under it was. The other two blankets weren't stained in that spot, either. They had different stains in different places.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the loveseat in the living room has been scratched until the stuffing is hanging out – and urinated upon, in one corner, in a most uncatlike fashion, as if some dog had been there and had repeatedly lifted his leg against it.
Someone also closed the refrigerator. You never close a refrigerator that isn’t plugged in; it will grow mold if you do.
Friday, July 10, 2009
When we go away for an extended time, our car insurance company puts our cars in “storage” status, which means they only charge us a nominal fee for that time. So the first thing we had to do upon arrival home was to call them and have them reinstate the insurance coverage so we could drive. (The telephone shouldn’t have been working, either, but was, due to an error on the company’s part, so at least we didn’t have to reconnect that, or the computer.)
Next, we had to call the Department of Motor Vehicles and have them reinstate our cars’ registrations, which have to be de-activated for the insurance company to put your car in storage status.
Then, Demetrios had to drive me to the DMV to have my driver’s license renewed. You may recall that my purse was stolen in Greece; my driver’s license was in it.
Demetrios’ car, meanwhile, had become overdue for an inspection. But before it would pass inspection, it needed a new windshield. Yes, we knew about the crack in the windshield before we left. So we had the glass replaced, then took the car in for inspection.
By the end of the day, we were driving legally. The next thing was to go to the grocery store and get a few things to put in our now cleaned-out refrigerator. And after that, we stopped by the post office to pick up three months’ worth of mail.
Oh, and we called the trash collection service and reinstated that, as well.
Charles, our favorite builder, and his construction crew were supposed to have finished our back porch-deck while we were away, but didn’t. We don’t yet know why.
The television didn’t work, although we forgot to have it shut off while we were gone. The technician came out and found our cable had been cut.
I finally went to the neighbors, rather tearfully, to inquire what had happened with the cats. I didn’t get any answers, really, but what good would answers do anyway? It isn’t going to happen again because we are going to find a no-kill shelter for the cats; we can’t even bear to look at them because of the odor in the house and the cat hair all over. My neighbor, C., was very apologetic, and when told about the ruined mattress, said, “Take ours!”
No, no, no. I didn’t come to take anything. What do I want with their old mattress, anyway?
“It isn’t an old mattress; it’s less than a year old, and we hate it. It has a pillow top and most people think it’s extremely comfortable, but we like very hard mattresses, and we can’t sleep on it. We want to put twin beds in that room anyway, and the only reason we haven’t is, we don’t know what to do with the mattress! Come upstairs and let me show you.”
It is indeed a deluxe mattress, and finally I said, “You know what? I will take it, if you truly don’t want it.”
So that’s arranged. That does make things feel a little better. I hugged her on my way out the door.
I haven’t even time to phone any of my relatives and tell them we’re home. Acute frustration!
At least we made it through the whole day without napping. We had to. Our “To Do” list is still long.
No, it isn’t yet good to be back. When I see my family, especially my children and grandchildren, that’s when it will be good. Wendy is coming this way this weekend, staying with Tisho (her daughter) and Stuart, and bringing her daughter Halley and grandson Jacob with her. We'll meet at Mom's house. It will be good to see all of them, too.
Wendy and I are goint o carry on the tradition we've had all our adult lives called, "Three Sisters Night," when she and Barbara and I would stay awake all night (or, nowadays, as much of it as we can!) pouring our hearts out to one another.
Wendy laughed. "Three Sisters Night? We're short one!"
No, we're not.
We had supper with Nick and Sharyn and that also helped. What wonderful people!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009