All airplane flights are not created equal

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After my last plane trip to San Jose, I swore I wouldn’t do it again. I’d go by car, train, boat or on a donkey, but not in an airplane. Ha. Last week, I was up in the air again. Same flight, same plane, same cheesy cracker snacks. But all flights are not created equal.

Flying was the only way I could get down there on a Monday night and be back in Oregon on Wednesday night, spending two whole days with my father in-between. Tuesday was his big meeting with the orthopedic surgeon that would determine whether he could start trying to walk again—or not. At 95, a broken leg heals mighty slowly. The doctor said yes, “go for it.” What the bones won’t do, the metal plate and screws holding his leg together will. So, at the moment you read this, he may be roaming the halls of Somerset Senior Living with his walker. He says people there were surprised that he was so tall; they had only seen him sitting in a wheelchair. They probably look short to him now.

So, cautious optimism for Dad. The doctor also said he could go home as soon as he’s comfortable walking. That’s a lot of motivation for laps around the complex (And a lot of worry for his kids).

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From above, Oregon is all green fields and trees
Back to the plane. Having done the same route before, I knew where to go and what to expect. It’s a long journey, even by airplane. I left home at 10:21 a.m. to take Annie to the Alsea River kennel in Tidewater on Highway 34 because, less than three weeks after her knee surgery, she needed to be restricted, medicated and watched over just like Dad. I ate lunch in Florence, where I discovered Clawson’s Wheelhouse. Good food, good people. Killer French dip. Then it was over the river and through the woods via Highway 126 to Eugene to check in at 2 p.m. for a 4 p.m. flight.

Locals fly out of the Eugene airport if they can because it’s smaller than the average big-city airport. You can park in a lot just outside the terminal. It only takes a few minutes to get through security and to the gate. At the gate, there’s a lounge area where you can plug in your laptop or relax in a rocking chair watching the action on the tarmac through the big windows.

The actual flight from Eugene to San Jose was not so mellow for me. I have this condition called Restless Leg Syndrome, also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease. Essentially it’s a feeling of needing to move one’s legs or die. I get crawling sensations and involuntary spasms. It doesn’t happen all the time, but put me in a confined space with no way to get out, and boom, I’m miserable. Thus it was on the way to San Jose. Alaska Airlines assigned me a window seat in the second to last row. The views were spectacular, but I was wedged in by a non-communicative man wearing sunglasses and reading the Bible. Mark, Chapter 6. Beside him, I squirmed the whole trip, my left leg spasming about once a minute. I tried to distract myself by reading, writing, and taking pictures. I drank the complimentary beer. No good. I even started praying the Rosary without the actual beads. I quickly lost track of my Hail Marys. I was never so glad to see San Francisco Bay down below.

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San Francisco Bay was a welcome sight. Note  fog creeping in.
The temperature was near 100 in San Jose, and Dad’s house was no cooler. But I was so glad to be walking out of that plane. Free at last! I dreaded the return trip two days later.

 

This time, Alaska assigned me a window seat in the very last row. When I saw it, I thought I was doomed. But God was with me big-time. The flight was half empty, and nobody sat in the other seat. I had the best plane ride ever. The back seat felt cushy and comfortable. I had room to spread out. I read and wrote and enjoyed the view. I guzzled a glass of pinot grigio. I was surprised when the flight attendant told me to put my computer away because we were beginning our descent into Eugene. Already? By the time we landed, I felt so mellow I wanted to hug all those pale-skinned Oregonians.

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San Jose’s freeways look like a carnival ride from above
It was the day after the summer solstice. Getting off the plane at 9:30 p.m., I towed my suitcase toward the sunset, delighted to be up and walking on my two strong legs. I promptly got lost on my way to the motel where I was spending the night before the long drive home, but who cares? I was on the ground.

I wonder if it would be kosher to buy two seats so I don’t get penned in. Nah. Next time, I’m driving.

***

I don’t usually talk about my restless legs (RLS). It’s embarrassing. Does anybody else have this problem? I’m working on an article about it. How does it affect you, and how do you deal with it?

If a Tree Falls . . . It Breaks the Fence

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IMG_20170408_191948310[1]Yes, I heard the tree falling in the forest. It was not a crash, more of a whoomph, as a massive coast pine from the undeveloped property next door fell during Friday’s powerful windstorm. It was 8 a.m. I was washing dishes when I saw it go. As Annie and I ran out to look, the pine cone-laden tree lay quivering on the concrete behind my garage. My gutter dangled like a broken arm, and the double layers of chain link fences seemed to be twisted into zigzag patterns. It happened in an instant. To the west, a huge piece of sky was exposed for the first time since we moved here 18 1/2 years ago. Perhaps I’ll be able to see the moon better. But now I had a mess in my back yard.

The good news is that it did not hurt the structure of my house, at least as far as I can tell. The gutter and downspout are ruined, but the roof and walls seem to be unharmed. Thank God. The trunk of this tree is almost a foot in diameter. If it had hit the garage . . . It was still blowing like crazy. I flinched at every gust, wondering what else would come down.

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Here’s what it looked like right after the tree fell
Writing abandoned, I started making phone calls. My neighbor, just because I needed someone else to see it. My insurance company, where I learned I have a $1,064 deductible. (Why so much? Why not $1,000 even?) Perhaps it went up after the great flood of 2013. I don’t remember paying that much before. Can I afford $1,064? Heck no. Does it matter that the tree belonged to my neighbor? Nope. It’s considered an act of God, said Zach from State Farm. Sue the neighbor, my friends said.

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Here’s my neighbor Pat hard at work
A tree guy gave me an estimate of $500 for cleaning up the tree parts on my side of the fence. My neighbor, Pat Walsh, a semi-retired mason who hates to sit still, offered to take care of it for free. He had a new chainsaw and was eager to use it. Before I knew it, he was working on the fallen pine. While I was at church and Willamette Writers yesterday, he was also working on the tree-owner, who had not even offered sympathy on Friday. Last night, just as I was consulting with my attorney brother about small claims court, Pat informed me that our mutual neighbor will pay all of my out-of-pocket expenses. Praise God. Pat also thinks he can fix the fence and the gutter for a lot less than $1,064. I am so blessed to have him around. When I’m gone, he gives Annie her breakfast. She adores him. While I was in California last week, he also mowed my front lawn. No, he’s not single. He belongs to the wonderful Paula.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this weekend. I offer you some pictures, and I welcome your fallen-tree stories.

***

Last week, I wrote about my father breaking his leg and my dash to California to help him. Keep up the prayers. He’s still in the care home, doing limited physical therapy but spending most of his time in bed. He’s fine from the hips up, but he can’t even get out of bed by himself. Now the care home threatens to discharge him if he’s not making visible progress toward walking. How much progress can you make when you can’t put weight on a badly broken leg that is just starting to heal? Meanwhile, my brother is wearing himself out making the long drive to and from San Jose to take care of Dad’s affairs until I go back down. When? I don’t know. I jump every time the phone rings or chimes with a text. My last call? Thinking about my tree situation, Dad wanted to know if he had paid his homeowners’ insurance bill. I sure hope so.

Have a great week. Don’t stand under big trees when the wind gusts up to 60 mph.

 

 

 

On the Road to California Again

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Humboldt Bay at Sunset

 

Last week didn’t turn out quite as expected, especially for my dad. He fell and broke his leg above the knee. It was a bad break, requiring surgery and an extended stay in a care home after the hospital. He has survived heart surgery and a broken hip in recent years, and he will survive this, but for a person one month shy of 95, this is not good. My brother rushed over from his mountaintop home near Yosemite while I hit the road from Oregon. I didn’t know how long I would be gone or how well Dad would recover, but when these things happen, you do the best you can to tie up loose ends and go.

Winter lasting forever up here, the Siskyous were still loaded with snow, so I took the coast route down. After nine days, I returned up I-5. It’s an all-too-familiar 1,400-mile round trip commute. But I took pictures of some things I thought it would be fun to share here.

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This homemade camper at a coastal rest stop caught my fancy.

 

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I saw the peanut mobile way back near San Jose and was amazed when it pulled up at the Black Bear restaurant in Willows where I stopped for lunch.

 

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Dinner on my last night on the road was big enough for three dinners.
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Poor George’s in Yreka, where I had the massive pancakes, ham and eggs, is an old-time diner.

 

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I don’t do a lot of selfies but here I am on the coast highway.

Dad seeming relatively stable, I came home to get back to work, Annie, and taking care of my own house, but I will be going back soon, I’m sure. It’s not easy having your heart torn between two states. Meanwhile, please keep my father, Ed Fagalde, in your prayers.

 

 

All contents copyright Sue Fagalde Lick 2017