Friday, January 31, 2014

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 21)

The Best First Day

You are probably accustomed to the gargantuan prices associated now with all things Disney. But in 1973, General Adult Admission was only $4.50! Or, if you wanted to go wild and purchase general admission plus 8 or 12 Adventure tickets, the cost would be $5.75 or $6.75. 

So northward I ventured, with money in my pocket (thank you mom!), a 235 mile ride straight to the Magic Kingdom itself. If you want to see what Disney World was like that summer, check it out here:

Some of the highlights were - the Enchanted Tiki Room:

Abe Lincoln in the Hall of Presidents:


... and It's A Small World.

Disney World had opened less than 2 years before (October 1, 1971), so everything was spanking new and utterly fascinating. And so much space! Far bigger than Disneyland. And speaking of bigger, everything was so much bigger here. I had been a year in New Zealand, where things were done on rather a smaller scale all the way around. Grocery stores, cars, trucks (lorries), and even most roads. In Florida I was awakened to the growing acquisition mode in the United States.

But what better place to begin experiencing acquisition! I threw caution to the wind and bought the 12 Adventure ticket option, literally running from ride to ride. Who cares about looming bus travel and intimidating prospects of odd strangers when one can ride on Dumbo, the Flying Elephant!                                           

I could find another Motel 6 that night, or decide to ride the bus all night instead. But, I wouldn't think about that now. I would be like Scarlett O'Hara and think about all of that tomorrow. For now, I would think of hamburgers and milkshakes while watching the electrical parade on Main Street. I would thrill to Abraham Lincoln's voice (I'm sure his voice sounded just like that) and his expressive hopes for our future. I would feel only a little bit sick in the spinning Mad Tea Party cups. 

And I would bask, for that one splendid day, in the warmth of an adventure created by the awesome, the brave, the courageous Walt Disney himself, whose World was not at all Small.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 20)

Escape From Miami

I must have eventually fallen asleep. Suddenly I was jolted awake by the abnormally harsh ringing of a telephone. Where on earth was I? Disoriented, I sleepily picked up the phone and heard, 'Wakeup call, Miss.' I remembered the frightening night in a Miami Motel 6; staring at the malfunctioning doorknob and waiting for it to slowly, creakily turn and reveal some evil being behind it. I couldn't get out of there fast enough.


And may I pause here to make a statement about the brilliance of Mothers? I was low on funds, and had sent Mother a message just before sailing. Somehow we had agreed that she would send money to me c/o General Delivery, Miami. Brilliant woman! She did it - and there was one happy little blond standing at that postal counter. Rescued!

Then, picking my way across the bus station sidewalk (a.k.a. samples of humankind), I found a sympathetic looking Greyhound attendant who ushered me to the right bus. He said I could pick and choose any city or town to visit just as long as I was finished in 21 days (apparently I would turn into a pumpkin, or something). Now if you were in Florida, where might you want to go first? 

That's right -

Disney World!


I would see the Matterhorn! Maybe the Haunted House, or It's A Small World. I began humming the tune..

'There's so much that we share, 
That it's time we're aware
It's a Small World after all.'

So I boarded that first Greyhound, not knowing what adventures were in store, or what people I might come across. Walking down the aisle of that bus seeking an empty seat, I suddenly saw a woman who looked rather nice. She was wearing a hat and a nice skirt, with - was that a Bible on her lap? Could I have struck it rich once again? I sank down next to her and smiled, feeling safe for the moment. On my way to Disney World, next to another Sister in the finest sense.

Because it's a Small World, after all.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 19)

Go Greyhound

Have you ever traveled through the Panama Canal? It seems to be a rare person who has, or at least who had, back in the 70's. From our vantage point, it seemed impossible that the SS Australis would make it through without scraping the sides! They built it (or so it seemed) inches away from both sides of that ship, and for those 8 hours we wondered.

As exciting as all this may seem, we were becoming anxious to exit the ship. The final three days consisted of rounding up bits and pieces, getting them packed up, and turning our thoughts, at last, toward Home. For me this meant Mother, and kitchen tables, and singing together in the car. How luxurious it would all be! But I had to get there first.

On departure day, everything was so terribly busy that I worried I wouldn't be able to find the Harveaux! Where were they? It was all confusion on deck, crowds milling about while trying to locate an exit. And what if I debarked never to see them again?

At last, I heard a voice calling from an upper deck. "Hellooooo! Goodbyyyyyye!" it shouted. Up I looked, and there stood the family Harveaux, all in a row, all waving madly.

Grasping my bag, the guitar, and various other bits, I stood still, grinning, taking it in - my last view of those 7 dears.  Perhaps, maybe, hopefully, I would see them again one day. But the crowds were crowding in now, steadily pushing me toward the gangplank and off to life's next scene. Larry and Rose, and their splendid children, were soon lost to sight. I have never seen them again.

The bus ticket said I had 21 days to travel from Miami to Carson City, Nevada. Stuart Eyre (part 16 of the 'Alone' series) had a sister living in the state of Virginia and had suggested I visit her. So my plan was to begin by heading North.

Big city Greyhound bus stations do not exactly appeal to one's sense of safety. I took a city bus from the harbor to the Greyhound Terminal, only to find I was too late to begin travel that day. I must find a motel nearby. Great.

I did find one ($8.29 per night!) and upon entering the room, discovered a broken lock on the door. I do not like to say exactly what that neighborhood was like, but imagine downtown Miami; area of bus station; samples of humankind laying about on the hot pavement, from time to time approaching small-scale blond carrying a backpack and guitar. I felt scared.

Why, might you ask, did I not report the lack of door lock to the main desk? I did not wish to call to attention my vulnerability, the man at the front desk seeming a bit too interested. So I propped a chair up against the doorknob, and sat waiting for the morning. The only working television channel was set to - are you ready for it? - The Boston Strangler. Yikes!

There was a lot of praying going on in the Motel 6 that August of 1973. There were occasional shouts, and fights, and even a gun shot somewhere. Gone were my kindly friends from New Zealand; the newer group of shipboard chums, also gone in whatever direction. I was, it seemed, truly Alone. 

Alone in Miami - no longer at the Bottom of the World, but seeming no nearer to my home and Mother and all things innocent. I sat and stared at the doorknob, listening to the oddly reasonable voice of the Strangler on TV.

Would I ever make it out of there alive? I simply did not know; but there was an awful lot of praying going on..

'The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want..."
Psalm 23

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Alone, at the Bottom of the World (part 18)

The Flag at the Panama Canal

Yes, there was still the famous Canal ahead, and 3 days later, Miami. From there I would make my slow way across the U.S., state by state, on a Greyhound bus. 

My new friends would scatter from the harbor at Miami, and I was not sure I would see them again. But we still had 3 days. In the meantime, we were gathered and staring out as the Panama Canal crept slowly closer and closer.

Larry and Rose Harveaux and their children stood by me as we approached. It was Larry who said he couldn't wait to see the American flag, flying at the Canal. I had known it would be at Miami Harbor, but -  "The American flag? When will we see it?!" I exclaimed, suddenly excited. "Oh, you'll see it. There won't be any doubt when you do."
We used any binoculars we could find to stare out ahead of us. Finally we caught a speck in the distance, a centralized area dead ahead. Eyes peeled. Silent American crowds on deck straining to see. For some of us it had been a year since we'd glimpsed an American flag. For others, many years. There we stood together, in silent understanding that day. 

The year away at the Bottom of the World, nearly 3 weeks on board SS Australis, and now - this. And there she was, our flag standing there so beautifully. Choked up isn't half the word! Larry was the first to see her, to shout it out and suddenly we were silent no longer.

A great cheer rang out on that ship's deck that hot day. Exuberant applause that lasted. And then as we drew near, the applause and the shouting and jumping all stopped. We stood with hand over heart, singing the words we had not heard in a long long time.

Oh say, can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.

You must forgive us our enthusiasms here. We couldn't help it. Others, the good British folk nearby, the New Zealanders and Aussie's eager for their first glimpse of the USA, all watched in quiet respect as returning Americans joined in their time-honored salute to Old Glory. They, too, understood.

There just isn't anything quite like that American flag. Maybe it isn't flying over the Panama Canal anymore (*ahem*), and maybe we have experienced some calamities since that day in '73, but we won't forget the feeling of coming back to it. To the good old USA.

Oh say, does that Star Spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the Free, and the home of the Brave.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Downton Does Not Disappoint

Anna Turns A Corner 
Edith Makes a Mistake

So I may be working my way back to baking scones for the next Downton Abbey evening. Things are much less dismal! Anna and Bates are mending fences, Lord Gillingham is getting married to someone other than Mary, Albert is back in the Manor kitchen liking Daisy more and more, and Edith is in a sticky situation.

Poor Edith. But with the rest, I am not discouraged.

There is the insertion of a new ladies maid, Miss Baxter. Her sewing machine has made an impression upon everyone downstairs, and perhaps with Thomas's help she can infiltrate the upstairs as well. I suppose this means she is the new 'spy' for Thomas, so we had better be ready for the shenanigans to continue. Why do I find myself missing O'Brien?

And have we forgotten Molesley? Never! Poor Mr. Molesley was offered Albert's vacancy as footman at the Abbey, but was shocked and stated that he would 'think about it'. Still believing himself to be butler material, Molesley cannot bear a downward move in this intricate world of 'class'. By the time he is ready with a reluctant acceptance of the offer, it is - oh no! - withdrawn. Molesley cannot even be a footman! He just never seems to get this one right.


I don't want Branson to take baby Sybil to America.

I don't care if the farmer's son pays off his taxes.

I am sorry Isobel has forgotten she has a grandson amidst extreme grief for her son.

I don't care who took the letter opener from the Dowager Countess's desk.

I do care that the letter opener from the Dowager Countess's desk is missing.

So there you have it. Until next Sunday night I shall just have to weigh my suspicions about what on earth is happening to poor Edith.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Excitement at Downton Abbey Tonight!

(But I Can't Escape the Dweeb Factor)

The SconeLady came away from last week's episode baffled by one person, and deeply grateful for another. Things may be looking up, Downton lovers!

But first, Anna and Bates. The strain continues! Anna is struggling with the twin nemeses of guilt and shame which prey upon rape victims. She still does not tell Bates of the attack because of his known propensity towards annihilation of Evil Creeps. But my brilliant scheme remains for Bates to have the sense not to put himself in prison again. And I am hopeful!

Then, Mary. Lord Gillingham wants to marry her and in my opinion, it is WAY TOO SOON TO BE ASKING HER THIS. This was what baffled last week, and I did not quite trust him. It is enough just knowing that he has an Evil Creep for a Valet and doesn't recognize it. And I must just be frank, he has some Dweeb-ish facial qualities. Or, is he artless? perhaps blundering? I don't know. I do know that many of you like Lord Gillingham. That is fine. He probably is a better man than I give credit for, so I shall try harder this time.

Ok, now for Mrs. Hughes. I LOVE HER! She is my heroine. The cog in the wheel who keeps everyone tracking; who cares about those who deserve such care; but has no patience with Evil Creeps, sluttish and fiendish maids, and people downstairs who do not carry their weight. We loved the way Hughes squelched the nefarious plans of said fiendish maid. Hughes is great. Three cheers for Hughes!

OK. The Dowager Countess. With Mrs. Hughes safely installed as heroine, I can easily put forth the Dowager Countess as simply my favorite character of the series. She finds the best spots to insert a fitly spoken word at the exact and needed moment. Now if all of us could just manage that one special talent, this world would be immeasurably better. LOVE HER!

The time draws near for episode 4 so I must be off. There is a dinner to be gotten. And then because of our TV-less state, I'll make my way a few miles from here. And there I shall find a warm welcome, a cuddly doggie, and a remote already set to the right channel. 


See you along the way!
the SconeLady

* * * * * * * * * * * *

And here is today's favorite Dowager Countess lines:

“I don’t dislike him, I just don’t like him. Which is quite different.”

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The Mirage

After Thursday's post (Self-Help?), I tried to sleep but continued thinking of lists, and expectations, and disappointments. These thoughts stemmed from the funny self-help book list of suggestions on landing and marrying a man. At least, they seemed funny to me. 

But could that list, or any list, really work longterm? To appear as the perfect woman, but actually be a Mirage? I wonder if the self-help list-writer realized that the Mirage-woman, once attained, might be the opposite of what was wished for? (A Mirage, remember, promises a drink of cool refreshing water in the distance, but the thirsty man arrives only to discover dry sand). 

The small girl here has no thought of Mirages or sand or disappointing self-help books. She loves playing out her imagination with her new doll house, and putting the 'baby' to bed. I hope and trust that no book will ever try to tell her she must pretend to be perfect. For we all love her for who she is - the Real Thing. 

No lists. No Mirages. Only cool, refreshing water.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Meaning of 'Old'

Love at First Sight

October, 2013

The 3 year old granddaughter came to Oregon for her great-grandpa's Memorial Service. She was everybody's baby (although it was made very clear to us all that she is 'not a baby').

The moment she walked into the farm house with her mother and uncle, she spied the old stove and made instant friends with it. It was a stove her great-grandpa, her uncles and her mother had played with years ago. And now it was her turn. To her it mattered not that it was old; in fact, she liked it better because it was. 

They were there for four days, and the old stove was a her constant companion. She dressed carefully for the Service, then played with the stove; went to the Service, ate lunch, then played with the stove. Her great-uncle had brought some peanut M&Ms to the farm, and she served them to us all upon the tiny plates.

We all ate more 'dinner' than we meant to I am sure. But no dinner ever tasted better than the one served to us by the small girl who had worked so hard to prepare it.

It is good to remember that 'old' can mean 'excellent'. It certainly did for her great-grandpa.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Self Help?

I just finished a 10 mile walk, during which time NPR was burbling away in my ear. Walking is a decisive element of my scone-seeking, you see. Walk, and have a scone (or perhaps a sticky bun). That's a lot for one girl to do, yes. But it is fun and unquestionably satisfying.

NPR today offered up an (excruciating) interview with Joaquin Phoenix, followed by something much more interesting - an hour with Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, looking into the 'Self-Help Genre'. I wasn't thinking of the Self-Help Genre, or any genre for that matter. But after Joaquin finished baffling his listeners, Jessica's reasonableness and sense of humor caught my interest.

Jessica's father was himself a self-help author, so she had spent a lifetime surrounded by suggestions for improving, if not perfecting, one's path. She had read numerous of these books, but most of them were either unhelpful or downright ridiculous. One spoke of 'Landing and Marrying a Man' (a concept I am on board with). Being single at the time, she was intrigued and gave it a go.

The concepts highlighted within its pages were (and I am quoting Jessica's interview here):
  • play 'hard to get'
  • never call a man on the telephone
  • if a man calls you, never speak with him for more than 10 minutes (set a timer just to be sure)
  • never be seen without makeup
  • have plastic surgery if you need it
  • always dress smartly when in his presence
  • if a man happens to come to your apartment, hide things like dirty bathrooms, medications, and - get this one - self help books!
  • let perfection be your goal when with him
In other words, be a Mirage (someone who seems real but isn't).

As I said, I am on board with getting married. I in fact married a terrific man whom I may have called on the phone, who wouldn't be the least bit upset by a dirty bathroom. And who would howl at the idea of plastic surgery.

So the book's suggestions sounded exhausting and unappealing to Jessica. What would such a husband do after the wedding, when you woke up without makeup the next morning? What if he found you reading a self-help book in the middle of the night? Would the whole thing be a disaster?

In the end, Jessica found most of the self help babble to be more laughable than not. So she decided to write her own interpretive book - 'The Promised Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture".  Probably an interesting book to read, judging by the interview I heard today.

I might read her book. But when it comes to self-help books, there is just one that I can really recommend perusing. It opens with the words, "In the beginning, God..."

...which, appealingly, has nothing to do with Self at all.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Saltash Bridge

Another Shrine to Albert

I was to stay in a simply terrific Hostel (YHA) for two nights. First, though, the train ride from Cornwall to Paddington Station would take me over an enormous and exceptional bridge:

Saltash Bridge

I had read of the bridge, had in fact crossed it one other time. But a person never ever becomes ho-hum about the Saltash Bridge.

This marvel of engineering was built by Brunel in 1859, and linked Cornwall (one of the dreamiest corners of England) to the rest of the UK by rail. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria and was in fact named the Royal Albert Bridge (remember? esteem and distinction).

It is such fun to go over this bridge by rail! Approaching Plymouth, I asked one of the conductors about how far it might be to the Saltash Bridge? She looked bemused and asked, 'Why?' I said that the bridge fascinated me and I wanted to be sure and get a good video as we went across. She shrugged, and said, 'I suppose in about 5 minutes.' One could almost hear the 'Sheesh! These Americans.' But I could be wrong..

We crossed, and as we did I directed the iPhone camera down to the waters of the River Tamar. There, the Men of War (warships) came in and out for the duration of World War II. There are still plenty of boats, but nothing like during those dread years. 

From the Saltash Bridge, we continued through the lush countryside so unique to this land of Dickens. At last we pulled into Paddington Station, from whence I made my slow way to the Cathedral at St Paul's. Just across the street was the Youth Hostel where I would stay.

By now I had only a half hour to make it to Evensong at St Paul's! I must hurry to check in, drop the bag, and fly across the road. Surprisingly, I was able to do all of this and find a front row seat at St Paul's. Exquisite!

St Paul's Cathedral, October 2013

After the Evensong Service (October 12, St Paul's Cathedral - More Than Just a Pretty Building), it was time for dinner, and then the Youth Hostel (you know of course, that the 'Youth' part of Hostel is actually ageless?).

YHA London St Paul's, October 2013  

Ted had told me to look for the Latin words etched around the YHA building, which had once been the St Paul's Boy's Choir school. I found this: 


And here is the English translation of the Latin:

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14

St Paul's Cathedral Choir school had gifted the Apostle Paul's message, to London then and forevermore. It is unlikely that even a fraction of the Londoners and tourists who pass this building will ever know what is being said to them. But the Choir Boys knew. 

And now, so do you.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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