20 March 2008

Ain't Travel a Bitch?!?!?

Soooo…. I just got back from a quick trip to the homeland to visit the kinfolks. We had a wonderful few days of margaritas, fabric and first birthday parties.

And then I tried to come home to Buffalo…

I left at o’dark thirty in the midst of a downpour and threatening floods. I had to take it slow a few times, but ye’ olde trusty rental made it just fine. I even had time to enjoy a bit of latte and email at the airport before hopping on my first uneventful and uncrowded flight to DC. On top of all that, the good karma points were flowing as I bound off a pair of socks that have been my travel companion for the entire job search process. (I’ll post pics tomorrow. Let’s just say there’s a little bit of stress knit into every stitch.)

I get to DC and have time for a tasty slice of ricotta white pizza and another shot of Starbucks while passing the hours of my layover. Dulles was crowded and our flight was oversold. While the announcements and calls for volunteers to give up their seats made my fellow flyers groan, they made my mind start a’whirling. There’s a good chance I’ll be needing a flight to San Fran next winter and wouldn’t a free ticket be awfully helpful? The gate agents assured me I could catch a later flight and still be in town by 9 or 10 at the latest. Hey, if a girl’s got more sock yarn and free needles, what’s a few hours in an airport? I jumped at the chance and went to the customer service station to be rebooked.

And then…

I luck out and get the one agent who isn’t so sure how to run her own computer system, making me a little nervous when she keeps canceling me out of flights and writing down a list of other people she’s also kicking out of flights by mistake. (By the way, Mr. Fox and Ms. George, I’m really sorry if you’re still stranded without a ticket out of Dulles!) Finally, despite telling me that I’m flying through Rochester, she hands me a pack of tickets through Philly and tells me to run so I can make it to the next terminal. I barely have time to even notice that my last flight wasn’t supposed to get in until after midnight, but again, girl with sock yarn and needles… just another few hours to waste. I take out running and make the line for boarding with only minutes to spare. Ah, a slightly crowded but short flight and one step closer to home.

And then…

Upon arrival in Philly, I see that there are several Buffalo flights leaving earlier than my 11 departure so I take the time to wander through various terminals, hoping someone can get me home. Instead of a new boarding pass, I get news that all those flights are also oversold and they can’t even guarantee that I’ll be able to get on the flight I’m booked on. I nervously wander to my correct gate and try to combat the anxiety that comes from watching gate agents struggle with a jet bridge that won’t work, passengers that are missing connections from across the country and complaints about the most disgusting ladies restroom anyone has ever seen. (Really, it was truly gross. I get that airports are busy places and the cleaning crews are overworked and underpaid but this was a whole new level of nasty. Made me regret all that Starbucks every time I had to tinkle!)

And then…

My knitting elbow kicks in and I can’t bear to work on the socks another stitch. Truly tragic!

But, eventually the hours tick by and we start to board.

And then…

People start to come back into the gate, not out into the plane. Never a good sign.

And then…

The main gate agent grabs the microphone and offers a large sigh. Again, not a good sign. “Ladies and gentlemen, I want to be honest with you.” Uh, a really not good sign.

“The plane has been filled with too much fuel. At this point, we can either empty the fuel or take off passengers to meet weight requirements. We’ll give you information when we have it.” A really really not good sign.

And then…

Another sigh into the microphone and, “Ladies and gentlemen, you might want to get comfortable. The truck to remove the fuel is going to take awhile, probably over an hour. Go to the bar and I’ll come get you when we’re ready to board again.” When the gate agent tells you to go start drinking, it’s really really really not a good sign.

And then…

After another twenty minutes, the biggest sigh yet, “I hate to even say this, but we can’t find the truck.” Audible groans from the peanut gallery. “But maybe this is a good thing because we’ve located another truck that can take the fuel off faster and as soon as we can get it here from another terminal, we’ll be able to start the process. But in the meantime, I’m stressed out and need a smoke. Anyone care to join me outside?” When the person in charge throws up her hands, commissions a beeping cart and hauls passengers outside to get a smoke, it’s really really really really not a good sign.

And then…

We finally get the call to restart the boarding process. Woohoo! The drunk smokers which have recently returned start a raucous celebration and we all breathe a sigh of relief and gather up our bags. They hurry us onto the plane and we start to feel like the end is in sight.

And then…

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Thank you for your patience this evening. I’m sorry, but we’re going to need a little more patience from you as we now have to take care of the paperwork. I expect this to take another 15-30 minutes.”

He runs off the airplane, leaving us with one of the ditziest flight attendants I’ve ever met. Ms. Brilliant decides that the best way to deal with a plane full of angry people stuck in the middle of the night is to pass around the bag of pretzels while she tells stories of how the crew decided to pass the hours of waiting. Seems our flight attendant realized that she could fit into one of the overhead bins and this would make a perfect place to hide to scare the pilot while he was running in and out of the plane. Nothing instills a sense of confidence in your flight crew like the reenactment of your flight attendant and pilot climbing into a luggage bin.

Although it does instill a sense of copycat-itis. Our friendly drunks decided that if a tiny little flight attendant can fit into a luggage bin, so can then… despite being beefy guys who can only marginally stand up on their own.

And then…

The pilot returns… with news that the paperwork is stalled in Indianapolis and he has absolutely no idea when we’ll get it and be cleared for take-off. Yeah, in case it wasn’t clear… a really really really really really not good sign.

And then…

We took off. Well, after another 45 minutes of waiting, but there was eventually a lift-off. I arrived in Buffalo around 3 a.m. and surprisingly, my luggage had been transferred through two different airlines and was waiting for me to drag it home on my way to dragging my tired body into bed.

Ah, my travel joys.

I get a whole week and a half before I have to get on another plane. And that’s cause for another big sigh…

10 March 2008


So... Much... Snow...

We had quite a doozy this weekend. I think I read somewhere that the city total was 21.5 inches. Based on how long it took to shovel out my car, I'm thinking that's on the low side of an estimate. Ah, Buffalo, how I love shoveling the side of the street street so I can get enough of a path to establish momentum to jump into the ruts in the center of the street. All just so I can skid around the block and park on the other side of the street where I'll have to repeat the process should I care to go anywhere today.

Shovel inserted for scale.

The snow was very pretty, in all honesty and if I didn't have to deal with practical problems like car moving, I wouldn't have minded our winter weekend one bit.

I've been hunting around for my next large lace project and after this weekend, I think I'm going to wait for the snow shawl to come out from Anne at Knitspot. Seems like the perfect project for a Buffalonian!

08 March 2008

White Buffalo

We're in the midst of a "blizzard-like" weekend here in the ol' Buffalo. While the meteorologists are making a big deal about the differences between "blizzard-like" and a real blizzard, I say whoopie-do, there's a whole lotta white stuff out there, like 10 inches of white stuff already and more on the way, so it counts as a blizzard in my world. I do realize the irony of the English teach telling people to be less specific about words, but really, it's a whole lotta snow and blizzard just has more zip now, doesn't it?

Provided I can get out my door, I'll take some pics for those of you lucky enough to actually see some spring weather. Speaking of spring weather, Joan is having a contest looking for green so if you've got grass on your lawn, you might want to enter.

This week I finally was able to get caught up on a few tasks that have been lingering for months. I left a job in December to give myself more time for writing and interviewing but, being incredibly rude and incorrigible... or maybe just overwhelmed and out of town, I've just now been able to return with thank you cookies to recognize all their kindness and support. Thought I'd share the recipe for my mom's famous sugar cookies. Simple recipe that always gets rave results.

Sugar Cookies

1 cup softened margarine or butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp almond flavoring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

Mix all ingredients. Chill for two hours. (You can also freeze the dough at this point if you don't have time to actually bake them now.) Roll out thin (1/4 inch or so) in a mixture of sugar and flour. Cut in desired shapes. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes. Cookies will stay crispy if left un-iced but will soften with icing. If you are going to ice them, let cool completely and store in air-tight container.


1 can cream cheese frosting
additional powdered sugar to stiffen
almond extract to taste

optional: additional cream cheese and butter
food coloring, sugars, decorations, etc.

I was a little aghast when my mom revealed her "secret" frosting was really based on using the stuff out of a can. It was almost as traumatic as when I try to learn to make biscuits and sausage gravy from my grandfather and he reveals what brand of mix he likes to buy from the store. My images of these master cooks was tarnished... until I took a bite and realized that even if the starting product is on the cheater side, it's the little touches that make it the food I love.

03 March 2008


.... or bowl?

Yeah, this one didn't work out so much. I used some icky, sticky, plasticky mystery acrylic and needles a size (or two) too small, hoping to get a warm, semi-floppy hat that would block the wind. No flop unless you count the whole project as a flop.

Oh well, chalk up another hat mishap!

01 March 2008


I’ve been running around so much I’ve worn holes in my socks. Life has still been coming at me fast and furious but, I do believe that I can take a wee bit of a breather and get caught up on the important daily activities that I’ve been neglecting… like blogging… and laundry… and well, I was going to add dissertating, but ugh, like I want to call that an important daily activity. Blogging is oh so much more important!

Anyway, so now that I get to celebrate two whole weeks without getting on an airplane or having to meet some hoity toity person who wants me to talk smart stuff, I’ve got so much to share here. Not that y’all don’t want me to talk smart stuff, just smart FUN stuff, right? As in fabric and yarn and goofy stories rather than books and books and oh yeah, more books. Bah, no books for a bit!

So, to start mending my blog deserter ways, much like I was mending my socks last night… get it? Yeah, I know, you’ve all missed my dorky humor, right? Just say you do so I don’t have to continue the mending metaphor any further… And yes, I really did spend my Friday night mending socks. Dontcha wanna come visit and hang out? I’m really fun, promise.

First things first, Christina tagged me for the 7 things meme. Hmm, since you know I how I spend my Friday nights, what other knowledge do you really need? Yeah, I really am that boring so I thought I’d give you 7 things inspired by some of the wacky things that have happened to me in the past few months of woopy do work.

1. At a recent conference, I presented a paper that used curry as a central image for the type of exoticist consumption that I study in my diss. (Basically, it’s a study of why English consumers in the 19th century bought foreign goods which were distinctly foreign, like shopping at the local Pier 1 for things which look like they’ve come from your recent vacation to Bali.) That night, we decided it was appropriate to go to a Thai restaurant and have curry while sitting on the floor at low tables in a room decorated with tiki lamps and murals of huts on the beach. While my mind (and my neighbor) was telling me to do a postcolonialist reading of our experience, my tummy was telling me that this was really yummy food and I kinda liked my first time sitting on the floor for dinner.

2. Although I study the “exotic,” I’ve never been anywhere “exotic.” Ah, grad student budgets. We can buy books about other places but only dream of plane tickets there. My foreign travels are limited to a few trips to Mexico and the good ol’ semester abroad experience of train and hostel hopping around Europe. Oh, and Canada. Does Canada count as foreign travel when you regularly just hop across the border to get Chinese food? When, if ever, I become a real grown up with one of those regular salary things and without those pesky student loan things, I want to visit either South Africa or India.

3. I often consider myself travel cursed so perhaps you want to think twice about volunteering to join me on my world explorations. It’s remarkably odd when I get to and from my destination without a delayed or cancelled flight, lost luggage or some really horrific experience… like having a dirty diaper dropped on my head. Yup, it happened on a flight. Yup, it was as gross as it sounds. My only recent kerfuffles have been a cancelled flight out of Atlanta which prompted an overnight stay without any luggage and a road trip on a borderline flat tire which had to be constantly checked in the snow and slush while wearing a suit and heels. I considered myself lucky when I only had to air it up once. Despite all this, I love to travel and am generally up for a trip at a moment’s notice.

4. I went to San Francisco to visit dear friends and had my make-up done at a Bare Essentials store. I’m considering switching to mineral make-up although I’m still not convinced. Anyone use it and have recommendations?

5. My first make-up session was at a Merle Norman store. My mother and grandmother took me to get my first make-up lesson and my ears pierced for a birthday present although I don’t remember the year, maybe when I was 10 or so. I remember being horrified when the b*tchy old woman sniped at me for not really knowing how to put on the lotion. I also remember being terrified of her plastic fake nails as I just knew she was going to poke my eye out with those talons. Maybe this is why I’ve always been a bit intimidated by Sephora stores, like the scary girls who tend to work there will come out and get me for not really knowing what to do with all the potions and gimcracks on the shelves. Despite all this, I enjoy make-up and wear it daily, something I recently realized isn’t the norm in my chosen profession.

6. I hate the smell of bananas. I think I’ve shared this before but it bears repeating. Hate ‘em, don’t want to be in the room with ‘em, can’t watch someone else eating one without feeling nauseas. Every boyfriend I’ve ever had has taken sick and twisted pleasure in calling me every time he ate a banana outside my presence. They all get the same response. “Better buy yourself a toothbrush and use it before you see me because you’re not getting so much as a handshake until you’re disinfected.”

7. Early last week I was feeling all gung-ho and ready to get back to reality after all this interview/travel nonsense, planning to start my week off by getting up early and even blogging some pictures of some recent crafty projects. But… I was instead rudely startled out of bed by the horrifying sounds of a car accident. Seems one of Buffalo’s finest residents "borrowed" a car, sped down our street until he hit a parked car, totaling his own car. He then tried to drive away but since his "borrowed" car wouldn't work and people were starting to come out to see what was going on, he jumped out and ran. The parked car he hit skidded 10-15 feet into my car, innocently just waiting to take me to the library or somewhere equally boring. The police searched the ‘hood for a few hours trying to find the jerk who, knowing my luck, was probably hiding out under my back porch or something.

Then to just add some spice to the story, we find out the “borrowed” car has already been impounded by the police so they’re not real confident anything will come of our insurance claims, so unconfident, it seems, that they goofed up the report numbers and I had to chase police reports down at multiple precincts until I was finally told that in my ‘hood, something like a hit and run accident is low priority unless it involved death. Then I discover that the tow truck that showed up was a little questionable and I may be out $250 just for the privilege of having to get a friend to take me to an even more delightful ‘hood to rescue my poor little dork-mobile which really only has a few scratches that you can’t even see under all the snow and salt and uck that covers everything in the B-lo for eight months out of the year anyway.

I tell ya, that’s what you get for being gung-ho and ready to get down to business.

Seriously, I complain a lot but life’s been pretty good, if hectic. I’ve had wonderful opportunities recently to see old friends and meet new ones and have managed to finish lots of work, both official and crafty. It feels great to be getting things back onto a regular track and I’m looking forward to blogging more in March. Thanks for reading and hopefully tomorrow I’ll have pics to share.
I'm supposed to tag 7 more people but I think this one has gone around. I'll have to get caught back up on my blog reading and see if I can hunt down 7 folks who haven't played yet.