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Be prepared, if you can (02/14/2007)
By Frances Edstrom

When you have two fake hips (I've actually had more than that, but never more than two at a time) you don't travel light. For two nights away from home for a recent conference in Minneapolis, I took the same things any woman does for two days away from her closet " five or six changes of clothes, warm coat in case we leave the hotel, an extra scarf and mittens because you know how easy it is to lose them, boots in case it snows, shoes in case it doesn't, extra sweaters in case it's cold, a swim suit in case there's a pool, a short nightie for a hot room and flannel pajamas for a cold room, make-up, hair stuff, But then there's my hip replacement travel kit. You know, extra pillows, sleep mask, over-the-counter sleep medication, physical therapy exercise instructions, cane. I wanted to bring my egg-crate mattress cover, but John said he refused to rent a trailer.

I felt prepared.

Some things you just can't prepare for. For instance, once we stayed in a place in Mexico, where they don't really have what we would call walls, but instead the wall overlooking the ocean was made entirely of jalousie windows. That is, a wall that's like venetian window blinds made of glass.

It was great for the view, but bad for the monsoon-like weather we encountered. As it rained harder and harder, the wind blew the rain into our room, so that we had to pile our belongings on the beds. John called the front desk, and they sent up a couple of people with mops who tried to direct the one or two inches of water on our floor out the door and down the stairs. But as fast as they mopped, the wind just blew more rain into the room.

John, who'd been practicing his Spanish, asked when the storm was supposed to stop.

(An aside here. Edstroms have this belief that events should happen, start and stop on a previously determined schedule. So, if we wake up in the morning and it has snowed two inches, John will say, "It wasn't supposed to snow," as though this is a personal affront, and someone should be to blame for not informing him of the possibility of snow. If you have a stroke or a heart attack or even the flu, you say, "I wasn't supposed to get that," as though there is a list somewhere and your name wasn't on it. If you want to go golfing, and it's pouring rain, an Edstrom will say, "It's supposed to dissipate midmorning," as if the weather report is the Oracle of Delphi, and you will disappoint that Edstrom if you aren't waiting at the door with your clubs as the thunder booms and the lightning flashes across the sky.)

Back to the flooded room in Mexico, which, according to John, wasn't supposed to happen. The poor people fighting a losing battle against the storm, in answer to John's query, stopped mopping briefly and shrugged their shoulders as if to say, "We don't know." I could tell from John's demeanor that he thought that, as natives, they should have known the schedule.

So as well as I prepare, I understand that I can't prepare for every eventuality.

Like, for instance, a six-foot by six-foot mirror in our hotel room crashing to the floor, taking the coffee maker and microwave with it and seriously damaging the hardware in the sink. I supposed I should have packed a winch and some super glue.

Lucky for me, this catastrophe, which wasn't supposed to happen, didn't happen while we were there. I came upon the destruction upon returning to the room after dinner. I called the front desk to tell them of the mishap, but asked if they could please not come to fix it until morning, as I was ready for a good night's sleep.

The next day, they moved us to a new room, and for our inconvenience upgraded us to one with a whirlpool. That wasn't supposed to happen! 


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