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Hello from Tucson, Arizona. We arrived safely last night after a few adventures. Here’s a quick run down of how it went…

Our day was off to an interesting start, and I hoped not an omen of things to come. My husband and I had a long to-do list before heading to work, namely cleaning up odds and ends around the house and the dishes left over from the previous night’s…okay…a couple of night’s dinners so that our colleague and friend who is house-sitting wouldn’t know us for the slovenly pigs that we are.

My husband will just love that I’m sharing this story, but he has only himself to blame for becoming the subject of my post. Lately, he has been struggling with a waxy build up in his left ear, making him deafer than usual. It’s a real nuisance when I’m trying to be discreet and whisper something to him. Completely oblivious to the social norms that govern the whisper or consideration for its potential catalyst, he replies in a loud voice, “WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” successfully getting the attention of everyone within a half mile radius, not only ruining a potentially funny moment, but often embarrassing me in the process.

Since drops aren’t very effective, we try to ameliorate my husband’s physical problem with ear candles. If you’ve never used an ear candle, here’s a brief explanation. You light fire to one end of a long skinny candle, lie on your side and stick the other, unlit, pointy end of the candle in your ear. As the candle burns down, it sucks the wax out of the ear and into the candle. Usually after doing the process a couple of times, there’s a noticeable improvement in hearing. (I use them too.) The important part of using the candles is to have someone with you to grab the candle and extinguish it at the right time. Without help, you have to guess what the safe point is without setting any part of your person or belongings on fire.

As I’ve complained to him many times, my husband’s problem is less with his hearing and more with his listening skills. He is very independent and even though I have repeatedly requested and admonished him for using the ear candles without me, he does it anyway, always insisting “everything will be fine,” usually accompanied by his snotty, British, eye-roll.

So there he lay on the sofa, candle burning away as I was buzzing about the house trying to check off the rest of the to-do list. My attention was on estimating how much more water I needed for the plant in the living room, which is so dry that the dirt has pulled away from the sides of the planter. It’s the same one that my husband insists is tropical and doesn’t need much water. Mind you, I’m not throwing stones. It’s not often you’ll see me wandering around the house with a watering can in hand. I bring the plants home and the rest is up to my husband to show whatever mercy he chooses in letting them live.

I was working my way into the kitchen when my husband bolted off the sofa with a flaming candle and excitedly announced, “I need water!” He let the candle burn down a little too far. I ran into the kitchen and while I was filling the water glass, the faucet seeming to flow ever so slowly, I heard shouting from the living room, “I’M ON FIRE! I’M ON FIRE!” Next, standing behind me at the sink, he announced that he had dropped the flaming candle on the floor.

I handed him the half-full glass, which he emptied completely onto the floor, extinguishing the candle in time to save the meager possessions we have sweat so hard through the years to acquire. I admit that while I was concerned for my husband, I was equally, maybe even a little more, concerned about burn marks on my hardwood floors. Having learned from those who came before me though, I had the presence of mind to ask, “Are you okay?” before I asked, “How is the floor?”

Fortunately, our floors were undamaged and my husband sustained only a small burn, much smaller than the injury I was going to inflict on him if the outcome had been different.

Nothing like a bit of excitement before a vacation, wondering if your house is going to burn to the ground before you even get the suitcases into the car.

The rest of the day was largely uneventful. USAIR didn’t pull any of their hateful antics, but due to considerable winds in Phoenix, we landed half an hour late for our connection. The layover between our connection to Tucson was originally only forty minutes, but the flight attendant assured us that all the other flights were likely delayed as well. As we were deplaning the agents were announcing the gates for connecting flights, noting the delayed ones. When she mentioned ours, “Tucson, B3…” it wasn’t followed by the hoped for “delayed.” We ran most of the long distance between the terminals and just as we reached our connection, the gate attendant was closing the door. “Wait!” I called. We had just barely made it. The attendant pushed us onto the runway, “Come on through so I can close the door before anyone else comes.” Ah, quality USAIR customer service. That’s what government bail-outs are for, after all. I hope no one else was running through the airport trying to catch our flight.

Once seated, we had the most entertaining pre-flight announcement I’ve ever heard. Given by the colorful, and slightly flaming Patrick, it started with, “Welcome aboard Flight 321 to Maui.” Since we had only barely made it to the plane and hadn’t even had time to double-check the monitors or our boarding passes, I questioned for a minute, “Didn’t it say Tucson on the board outside?” It wouldn’t be the first time I boarded the wrong plane, but it would have been the best boarding mistake I have made. No, no, he was only kidding. The rest of the announcement included gems like, “In the unlikely event of a water landing, wrap your arms through the seat cushion…” and “it will be yours to keep as your run across the desert.” We were informed of the cost of twenty-five cents per minute for oxygen, and five dollars each to buckle and unbuckle our seat belts. Fitting humor with all the recent surcharges for luggage. Apart from the few minutes of the flight when I questioned whether we really were lucky to have caught the flight, it all went very smoothly, and Patrick’s humor throughout (“in a few minutes, we will not be serving drinks and snacks due to the short duration of this flight”) made it that much more enjoyable.

Convinced that there was no way our luggage was going to show up in Tucson, we cataloged what we absolutely needed to get through the night and considered our options for procuring a toothbrush until such day as the rest of our luggage might arrive. (“So much for the surprise sexy dress I packed for dinner tonight,” I lamented privately.) However, to our astonishment, as if the chocolate chip cookie batter sacrifice I made to the Gods earlier in the week finally worked, there on the conveyor belt were both our bags!

A fine, fine day of travel!

May 2008