TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #8

The image of the travelers, on the screen behind Isis, spread out to fill the face of the water.  Demeter watched Bill sign a piece of paper. Then, a uniformed airline employee released the luggage and the contestants located an open space in the terminal to heap the bags. Jane dug out the largest bag, opened the top and pulled out a manila folder.  Spreading the folder open on the floor, she grabbed up a folded card.  A perplexed look crossed her face as she scrutinized it.

There was a moment or two of quiet and then Bill, his impatience showing, asked, “Well, where are we headed?”

 “It looks like you’re going to have to use that phone number. I can’t read this thing,” Jane said, holding the card out to him.

“I can’t call right now. It’s the middle of the night over there. Besides, international calls are expensive.” He snatched the card out of her hand, looked at the front of the card and shook his head in disgust. “What do you mean you can’t read it? It says Tammy and Ludgar plain as day.”

“Open it.”

Bill whipped it open and made a face, “What’s this?  There’s no Mr. and Mrs. Whoever stuff.”

Jane took back the card, “Well it starts out with a poem, but then the print gets smaller.” Jane squinted at the card.  “I can just manage to make out most of it, but I can’t read the name of the city at all.”

Bill grabbed the card back, holding it in several positions, “I can’t even read the poem.  Too many curlicues. And why is the print so light.”

“I think it’s grey ink.”

Zeus and Isis broke in to discuss the problem and decided if Tammy were playing the game, she would have had all kinds of points taken away from her.  Behind them Bill launched off on a tirade about anyone being stupid enough to send out an invitation people can’t read, but Jane turned her attention to the other pages in the file.  She glanced over one page after another as Bill went over to a stranger and asked if they could read the invitation. When the stranger was stumped, Bill returned and continued his rant.

Finally, Bill ran out of steam and Jane said, “I’ve gone through everything she sent us.  There’s nothing in there to tell us where the wedding is or what hotel we’re staying at or where his parents live.”

“Wait, I think his parents live right across the street from the headquarters of Ludgar’s company,” Bill said, obviously proud of himself for remembering.  He continued, “In fact, they sold the land for the original factory to the guy who started it.”

Jane smiled widely, “So, where’s that?”

Bill screwed up his faced trying to remember.  Finally, he admitted, “I don’t know.  I’m sure Ludgar’s mentioned it, but it’s just a small town somewhere.”

“Well, you could call his office back and ask them.”

Bill shook his head, “I’m not calling them again. They’re probably closed by now anyway.”

“It’s just now five.  Someone might pick up.”

“That receptionist wouldn’t give me the time of day and I’m not going to talk to his assistant again.”

“Yeah, but the city where the headquarters is?  Someone else might give it to you. You don’t even have to tell them who you are.”

Bill’s “no” indicated the discussion was over.

Jane sat on the floor next to the luggage and dug through the open bag. After choosing a few items, including a toiletries bag, she said,   “Well, at least I can go change my underwear.”

The deities discussed the couple’s options as Bill dug through another bag.  When Jane returned, Bill stalked off with his toiletries bag.  Jane repacked the erupting luggage and closed the biggest suitcase.  When Bill returned, Jane tucked his items into another bag and shut it.  The folder went into her carry-on this time.  Bill suggested they store the bags while they had some dinner.  Then they could discuss what they would do.

The deities were divided about whether this was a good idea or not.  “They’ve already shot their budget,” Zeus pointed out. “Storing the luggage is just more money down the drain.”

Isis countered, “Well I think it was a smart move. It’s still hours until their flight.  Imagine dragging through the airport with all those bags.  It’s about time they had a decent meal.”

“Their breakfast was decent,” Mercury said.

“And it was how many hours ago?” Isis asked.

 The judges agreed with the male deities and subtracted some pointes, but Demeter saw things the same way as Isis.

As the deities continued to discuss the merits of the contestants’ activities, the screen followed Bill and Jane to the luggage storage area and on to a restaurant.  After ordering their meal, Bill presented a compelling argument for calling it quits and going home.  Jane was mulling over her response when the meal was delivered.  She suggested they eat their meal and let her think about what he’d said.

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #7

Demeter was worried about the contestants, too, but she had to run some errands.  When she returned several hours later, she checked out the scrying bowl, but it was late afternoon before another update was offered.

Mercury summarized the day’s activity, ““Bill and Jane spent the morning strategizing about luggage.  The only irreplaceable items were the invitation and itinerary, so they brainstormed about how to overcome that obstacle.  Bill ended up calling information and getting the number to Ludgar’s office, but whoever answered the phone wasn’t being at all helpful. “

Isis asked, “So it was a dead-end?”

“It was until Bill remembered the name of an employee he’d met once during a visit to Ludgar’s office.  Turns out the employee is now Ludgar’s assistant and remembered Bill.  She didn’t have much besides a phone number for Ludgar’s parent’s, but it was enough.”

“Enough for what,” Zeus wanted to know.

“Enough to take the score above one thousand.   When Hera learned about it, she called Bacchus and berated him for pulling that dirty trick last night.”

Zeus asked, “How did Hera find out about the points?  We haven’t had any updates and she didn’t ask about it when I was home for lunch.”

“I have to admit; I took advantage of the lull and visited her,” Mercury said with a sheepish look on his face. “I didn’t want to interrupt the program in progress, so I just whipped over and filled her in.” Sounding a bit more confident, he continued, “You know, she did tell us she wanted to help this couple.”

Demeter recognized the set of Zeus’s jaw.  Somewhere in the world, a thunder storm was washing away a village.

“And then she called Bacchus?” Isis prompted.

Mercury nodded, “He was at home suffering from an awful hangover.  At first, he didn’t remember anything, but when Hera got through with him, he was ready to do whatever she suggested.  Good thing, too.  Otherwise, that luggage would have been lost for weeks and the paperwork alone would have been a nightmare.”

Demeter shouted to the scyring bowl, “Brava Hera!”

Zeus was still visibly miffed, so Isis continued, “Really?  Where was the luggage?”

“In another airline’s baggage area.  Bacchus got one of his worshippers to find it.”

That got Zeus’s attention, “He still has worshippers?”

“Not in the traditional sense of course, no temples or sacrifices, but they do drink together,” Mercury explained, “Anyway, Bacchus whispered a suggestion into the baggage handler’s ear and convinced the handler a bottle was hidden near the spot where Bacchus dropped the bags.”

“Good move,” Isis said.

Mercury continued,” When the handler found the bags instead of a drink, he didn’t want to do all the paperwork; so he just threw the bags on a luggage carrier and drove them over to the other airline.”

Zeus said, “Do our contestants know they’ve been found?”

“Bill and Jane have called the airlines from a pay phone every half hour,” Mercury said, “They’re on their way to get their luggage right now.”

“Well then, Bacchus certainly redeemed himself,” Isis said.

Zeus added, “Maybe so, but I think Mercury should be penalized for going to see Hera.”

“I’m not a contestant.  If you can throw storms at them, I can deliver messages.  It’s part of my responsibilities.”

“Well, you could have gone straight to Bacchus.  I mean you’re both Roman gods.  You had no business going to my house and talking to my wife!” Zeus was incensed, but his fury tickled Demeter.

Isis interjected, “OK guys. Let’s see what our contestants do with the luggage now that they have it.”

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #6

Demeter was up early the next morning, unwilling to miss any Jagged Journeys developments.  When Zeus signed on he asked Mercury for an update.

“Good Morning, Zeus, Isis.  A lot hinges on the next few minutes.  Jane’s in line at the counter and whatever she finds out will determine the fate of this trip.”

Isis wanted to know about the weather.

“A glorious day in New York,” Mercury reported. “It’s hard to believe the storm even happened, but the airport is busier than usual.”

“Did you follow Bill and Jane to their hotel last night?” Isis asked.

“Yes, I did. The taxi driver charged them an exorbitant amount to go to Long Island and when they arrived at the motel, the check-in clerk heaped a pile of surcharges on to the quoted price.  The isolated hotel didn’t have any food service after 10 PM and nothing was open in the area – not even pizza delivery.  The motel did have some vending machines, but they weren’t working.”

Zeus said, “Sounds like they ate some more cookies from the carry-on bag.”

“That’s right,” Mercury continued, “And in the near dark, because only half of the light fixtures had bulbs and half of them were burned out.”

“So much for no surprises,” Zeus interjected.

“Even the TV was substandard.  Only a couple of fuzzy stations and no volume control.  And the bed was uncomfortable, too.” Mercury added.

Zeus asked, “What about the luggage? Did the hang-up bag have anything useful?”

“Only formal attire for the wedding ceremony and the carry-on’s were pretty useless, too.  Primarily, electronics and shoes.”

With an unattractive eagerness, Zeus asked if they argued, but Mercury said, “Not exactly, but Bill did give Jane a lecture on packing.  She gained back some points for avoiding a fight.  Finally, they both took showers and got into bed with nothing but their birthday suits and two thousands points on the board. Which was a good thing, because the score’s seesawed all over the place this morning. Bill got on the phone and chewed out half the lost luggage department. Then Jane earned a boatload of points for cajoling Bill into giving her a shot at it. She ignored the luggage problem and called Tammy’s travel agent. He found a place for them on a flight to Europe – not to Frankfort, but at least on the right side of the pond.”

“And now Bill and Jane are in line at the airport, so everything turned out OK,” Isis said.

Mercury replied, “Not exactly.   The travel agent told them to go to the airport immediately, but Bill wanted breakfast first.  Then he dilly-dallied around trying to avoid another $85 taxi fare.  The judges have said that if Bill and Jane actually get on a flight to Europe, they’ll be awarded points for arranging to share a shuttle, but if they end up going home, they’ll lose all their points.”

Zeus said, “I only see Jane in the line.  Where’s Bill?”

“Well, he’s wandering around the terminal. The guy in front of Jane is not getting good news,” Mercury said, “They told him there were no seats on any flight, even in first class.  He offered the lady a bribe, but it backfired.  He might be stuck in New York for a really long time.”

The screen honed in on Jane as she stepped up to the counter, “Hi, I’m Jane Sadek.  Leif Schwartzkat, our travel agent, said you were holding tickets for us…to The Netherlands.”

The ticket clerk brightened, “Let me see what we have Ms. Sadek.  How do you spell your last name?”

“S-A-D-E-K.”

“And how many are in your party?”

“Two, my husband Bill and I.”

“If your travel agent is right, then…Ah, we do have them.  May I see your identification?”

Isis exulted, “Zeus, did you hear that?  Our travelers are bound for The Netherlands!”

“That’s good news,” Zeus agreed.

“Not good enough,” Mercury said, “They don’t know where to go when they get to The Netherlands. The wedding invitation and trip itinerary are in one of their missing suitcases.”

Isis said, “Surely Bill and Jane have a phone list or something with them.”

“Not so much as the groom’s business card. Since they expected to connect with Tammy in New York, they thought their paperwork would be safer in the suitcase,” Mercury explained, “They discussed it over breakfast.”

“Let me make sure I understand this,” Zeus said, “Bill and Jane are supposed to fly The Netherlands, but they don’t know where the wedding will be”

“That’s right, Zeus.  They’re supposed to catch a train, but they haven’t got a clue to where.”

“How did this happen,” Isis lamented.

“Well,” Zeus said, “all mortals are capable of making mistakes.  In fact, many of our fellow Olympians have made errors of judgment.”

“Are you speaking from personal experience?” Isis asked the king of the gods.

Zeus admitted, “I’ve made my share of mistakes, Isis, just like you.  Hera and I have our difficulties, but no one’s ever kidnapped her and sealed her in a box – you know – the way Set did Osiris.”

Isis turned a few shades of red, “You’re right, Zeus.  Mistakes can happen to the best of us and they are certainly costing Bill and Jane right now.  They’re down to 545 points.  They’ll soon be at the mercy of our pranksters.”

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #5

“You’re right, Isis,” Mercury agreed, “What a comeback!  I almost can’t believe it and I’m right here watching it!  Jane looks like a new person.  They must have had a lead pipe in the restroom and she decided to use it for a backbone. Look at her grab up her carry-ons and lead Bill to the ground transportation area.  And her attitude is a tonic to him, too.  This is an amazing couple.”

Jane stopped at an accommodations board and picked up the handset.  Demeter watched her press buttons, but as Mercury had predicted there was nothing available. Demeter wondered what she could do to help them out.

Suddenly Mercury said, “OMZ! You’re not going to believe who’s here.”

“Someone’s come to help?” Zeus asked.

“Well, I think so.  Your wife’s here.”

“Hera?”

“Do you have another one?”

“Of course not! I just didn’t know she watched.” Demeter leaned forward, wishing Hera had invited her along.

Isis warned, “This may not be good.  There’s a chance Hera doesn’t realize we’ve passed midnight. She could think they’re prankable.”

“I’m concerned too, Isis,” Zeus admitted, “She may be my wife, but she’s not always helpful.  What happens if Hera pranks them even though the score is above one thousand?”

“That’s never happened,” Isis said, “Our judges would have to make a ruling. The game might be over.”

Hera, wearing a divine cloak of invisibility, walked up next to Jane and began to hum in her ear. Bill took the handset from his wife and began to try more locations.  Jane pursed her mouth and squinted her eyes.  Then she began hum.  Suddenly she was singing 1-800-HOLIDAY, Holiday Inn’s radio jingle.

Jane found a payphone and dialed the number she had just sung.  Bill stood by as she said, “I don’t care how many of the hotels are full. Your job is to tell me the closest one with a room.  Then I can decide whether I want it or not.” The co-anchors and the correspondent began to clap as Jane reserved a room.

Mercury said, “What a save!  The numbers on the tote board are spinning.  I’m going to talk to Hera before she disappears back to Olympus.” He flew to Hera’s side, “Yoo hoo!  Queen Hera!  Wait a moment!  Our audience is dying to hear from you.”

“OK, Mercury, but make it quick. I’ve got to get back to a Mah Jongg game.”

“I will, Your Highness.  I just want to tell you what an amazing play that was.  What prompted you to come to the rescue of Bill and Jane?”

“You’ve heard about the Europa incident, haven’t you?”

Looking very embarrassed Mercury said, “Well yes. It’s the buzz of Olympus, but what does that have to do with Jagged Journeys?”

“Well, as I played Mah Jongg with a few friends, the scrying bowl was on in the background. When Zeus bragged about his storm for the umpteenth time, I thought he needed someone to take him down a peg or two – and who would be better at it than me.” She smiled sweetly to Mercury, “May I say a little something to him?”

“Of course, Your Highness

“Good night, Honey.  Nanny nanny poo poo.  This couple won’t be turning back if I can help it.”

Demeter began to laugh out loud.  No wonder she put up with Hera’s incessant whining.  Zeus signed off quickly, letting the audience know there wouldn’t be any more coverage until the next day.

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #4

Demeter fast forwarded to live scrying and served dinner. Throughout the meal, Persephone kept up her litany of complaints, so the mother was glad to finish the meal and close the door on her whining daughter.  After cleaning up the kitchen, she plopped down on the sofa with the latest copy of Gods’ Magazine to see what the celebrities were wearing.

Before long, Zeus was back. “Hello, it’s Zeus.  Our lines are so overloaded with calls the circuits have jammed. Please bear with us while we make repairs.  In the meantime, here’s the latest from Philadelphia.”

“Thanks,” Mercury said from the screen behind Zeus. “Just a few moments ago, the flight attendants herded everyone back to their seats.  The plane pulled away from the gate and quickly taxied to the runway.  Then immediately, the pilot cut back on the engines.   That’s when tears came to Jane’s eyes.  Moments later, the pilot revved the plane again and began picking up speed for takeoff – but it was too late. Jane was all in.  I don’t think Bill realizes she’s crying.  He’s reading and she’s turned toward the window.

“Crying costs points,” Zeus reminded the audience.

“Even if she knew, I don’t think it would make any difference.  She’s only human,” Isis lamented.

Demeter went to clean her face and get ready for bed.  She was tired, but there was no way she’d be able to nod off until she knew whether Bill and Jane made it to their next flight.  It wouldn’t take long for them to get to New York.  Then she could sleep.

She was back on the sofa when Zeus said, “Hello weary gods and goddesses.  Welcome back to Jagged Journeys. It’s nearly midnight in the States and our travelers have just landed in New York.  How are things going, Mercury?”

“Not very well.  They’re just beginning to deplane and they’ve lost a lot of points, even though it was a very short flight. Hunger’s making them edgy and fatigue is taking a toll,” then Mercury said, “Oh no!”

On the screen Eris, Greek Goddess of Chaos, Strife and Discord, drove a baggage cart and had Bacchus as a passenger. The deities conferred with the real baggage handlers and made up some excuse for being there, even though their cart was from another airline.  The real handlers nodded in agreement.  The mischievous pair started selecting bags as they came off the plane. The selections seemed random, but Demeter noticed they didn’t miss a single one of the Sadek’s bags.  Then just as they started to drive away, Eris let out a sinister cackle and tossed a hang-up bag back onto the conveyer.  A close-up of the tag proved it was Bill and Jane’s.

Zeus asked, “Why this turnaround for Bacchus, Mercury?  He helped them in Philadelphia.”

“It seems to me he’s had a few drinks since then. He may not even realize these are the same passengers,” Mercury explained.

“Could you tell where they’re headed with the luggage?”

“No, it was too dark. I didn’t know those luggage carts could go so fast!”

 The scene changed to the baggage claim area and Demeter thought it ironic the hang-up bag Eris tossed away was the first piece of luggage out of the chute. Bill grabbed it and put it with the carry-ons. Bill continued to look hopefully at every bag that came around. A few steps away, Jane hung on to a pay phone. As the conveyor rolled to a stop a collective groan rose from the crowd. Not one of them had gotten more than a portion of their luggage off the flight.

Zeus observed, “Eris and Bacchus didn’t take enough bags to disappoint all these people.  The airline must have routed some of the bags to the wrong flight.”

“Mercury, has Jane reached anyone?” Isis asked.

“She’s on hold. She spoke to several people without getting much information.” On the screen, Mercury disappeared and Bill dragged their small pile of luggage over near the phones.  She covered the mouthpiece and asked where the rest of it was.  He just shook his head.  Before she could ask more questions, she returned her attention back to the phone. Then she slowly hung up the phone, shaking her head.

Mercury re-appeared and said, “I just flew over to the other airport.  The flight pulled away from the gate while Jane was on the phone with someone in the terminal.  There’s no way they can meet up with their friends on this side of the Atlantic.’

Jane headed to the ladies room and Bill waited by the phones. Demeter thought he was probably too tired to do anything else. Just then an airline employee came out and announced to the crowd the luggage mess wouldn’t be resolved until the next day. There weren’t enough personnel on hand to take all the claims before the airport closed. The man handed cards to whomever wanted one, including Bill.

“What are they going to do, Mercury?” Zeus asked. 

Mercury replied, “What can they do?  The way your storm tore up the skies, every hotel room in the area is full. There are no rental cars and only a few taxies.  Who knows if they would even be allowed to sleep in the terminal? This was the last flight in for the night.”

Zeus preened, “It was one of my better storms, wasn’t it?”

“No doubt a…” Isis began and then asked, “Wait, what time is it?”

“The clock just rolled to midnight here,” Mercury said.

“Then start adding points to the tote board,” Isis said, “because we’re gonna have listeners out there who want to help. Just look at Jane!”

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #3

The harvest goddess hated how long it took humans to get from one place to the other.  Why couldn’t Zeus just arrange for them to pop back and forth like the gods did?  While the plane was in the air, she decided to start dinner, her daughter, Persephone, would be joining her.  The rest of the togas could wait until the contestants were in New York.

She tossed a salad and put a casserole in the oven.  Fresh strawberries were in the fridge and she had banana sorbet in the freezer.  As she set the table she heard Zeus say, “Hello gods and goddesses.  Welcome back to Jagged Journeys.”

Mercury reported things on the ground were as crazy as they were in the air.  Jane thought she was missing a limousine ride and welcome party, but all the flights were so mixed up the bride threw her plans to the wind and ferried guests around in taxis.  Jane’s complaints lost them a few points, but her ability to pull everything from playing cards to snacks out of her carry-on kept their score almost even.

Isis reported, “All told, our contestants are ready for some help at one thousand fifteen points, but there’s not much we can do while they’re in the air.”

“That’s the way this cookie crumbles, Isis.” Zeus said and then asked, “Mercury, any hint of an arrival time?”

“Unfortunately Zeus, things look better to the passengers than they actually are.  There’s one of those breaks you promised in the weather, so they’re looking out on a clear sky in New York; but, the plane is quickly running out of fuel. I heard in the cockpit that if we don’t land in the next few minutes, they’ll have to go somewhere else.”

Isis said, “How disappointing!  Where will they go?”

 “No way to know ahead of time, Isis,” the Messenger God replied, “but now it’s official.  The pilot just announced the flight’s rerouting to Philadelphia.”

When Persephone arrived, she caught Demeter in front of the scrying bowl, “Good grief Mother, are you reduced to watching reality broadcasting?”

“Oh hush.  Just because you live in the underworld is no reason to be such a downer. It’s Jagged Journeys.  Don’t you want to see what your father’s doing?”

“You know I haven’t forgiven him for that whole pomegranate thing.”

“I can’t believe you.  That wasn’t his fault.  Zeus sent Hermes into Hades after you. Then you turned around and ate the pomegranate.” 

“That’s what I mean. There’s always some kind of trick with him. First he sells me off in marriage to that necrophiliac and then there’s the pomegranate. Why couldn’t he just leave me alone?”

“You know I was frantic about you when you disappeared. He immediately regretted the marriage contract and that’s why he sent Hermes.  What’s a big brother to do when his little sister is so upset?”

“Well, most big brothers don’t have daughters by their little sisters – or by their daughters either.  How is Aunt Hera, by the way?”

“You quit being sassy.  Things were different back then. You and Hera sound just alike.”

“Fine, what’s daddy up to now?”

Demeter giggled a little and said, “Mommy, too, in this case.”  She aimed the remote at the scrying bowl and backed up the action. “Watch this.  The passengers were redirected to Philadelphia, but the terminal was being remodeled, so everything was boarded up.”

When Demeter found the frame she wanted, Zeus was saying, “So they haven’t eaten anything all day besides airline peanuts and cookies from Jane’s carry-on.  How are they going to get anything in a closed terminal?”

“Actually, a divine team has pulled together for this rescue,” Mercury said, “Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt, Demeter, in her role as Goddess of Barley, and a Roman god, Bacchus, are going to help our contestants.  Bacchus is posing as a pushcart vendor in a neighboring concourse and the two goddesses provided the food.”

Persephone complained, “I can’t believe you wasted your harvest on this sort of thing.”

“Watch what happens!”

In the gate area, Bill said to Jane, “Look at these lines.  I’ll never get to call the office.”

“You should have brought your cell phone.”

“Are you kidding?  The roaming charges are ridiculous and it wouldn’t do us any good in Europe, anyway. They have a different platform.”

“I bet someday you’ll be able to use your mobile phones wherever you are, but what should we do now?  I have a sugar high from all the cookies and I’m still starving.”

“Well, we’re going to be stuck here for awhile.  We might as well see what we can find.”

As the humans wandered through the empty terminal, Jane repeatedly voiced her concern  the flight would take off without them, but Bill forged on through the forsaken hallways.  Eventually they happened on to the pushcart where Bacchus was arguing with another customer. 

 The contestants could barely contain their joy at the sight of food.  Bill got in line and Jane guarded their pile of carry-ons, but he came back with only one hot dog and a soda.

“One hot dog?  I’m starving,” Jane complained.  “This is barely an appetizer.”

“Honey, it cost nine dollars!”

“For this? A dry hot dog and a lukewarm Pepsi?”

“We’ll be leaving soon and surely we’ll find something to eat in New York.”

“You’re right. We can’t blow the budget before we even get out of the States,” Jane mumbled through a mouthful.

“That’s my girl.  Let’s see if the line for the phone is better,” Bill said, taking the hot dog from her. They wolfed down the food and headed back to the gate.

Persephone started to say something and Demeter waved for her to stay quiet.

“Our judges are having a difficult time with this segment of the game,” Isis said, “Some believe Bill and Jane should’ve stayed near the gate, as they were instructed.  Others want to give them points for finding Bacchus’ food cart.  Looks like Jane’s willingness to cooperate has helped. They just added twenty-five more points.”

Zeus said, “Kudos to Bacchus and the goddesses for coming to the aid of our travelers.  Wasn’t he a scream in that apron? I’m really going to have to give him a hard time at the next org…uh, I mean symposium.”

“Look they walked right up to the phone without having to wait.  Who are they calling Mercury?” Isis asked.

“Their first call was to their home phone.  There were several messages from Tammy, most of which were upbeat, but the last one didn’t sound very hopeful.  She left a phone number for them to contact in the morning, if they don’t make the flight to Germany.

“What a blow!  How did they take it?”

“Without blinking they dialed information and got the number for the transatlantic airline. Their flight is still delayed. See how they’re glowing with hope. Not much to do now, except wait.”

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #2

In the Air with Bill and Jane

The screen focused on a mid-sized sedan pulling up to a curb. Mercury narrated, “They’ve just pulled into the departure area.  The elderly couple in the front seat is Jane’s parents. Our travelers earned fifty points for getting a free ride. For such an auspicious start, I arranged for their first flight to go without a hitch.”

On the screen behind the co-anchors, Bill and the driver scrambled to get the luggage to the curbside check-in, as Jane hugged her mother farewell. “No points here,” Mercury announced, “They’ve brought three huge suitcases and an enormous hanging bag. Both contestants have carry-ons to boot.  They’ll never be able to keep up with it all. That’s five points down.” The scrying bowl showed the couple gathering up their carry-on items and heading towards an elevator. Mercury added, “Uh oh, major foul!  Bill didn’t tip the skycap.  That will cost them five hundred points.”

Behind Isis, Jane leaned over to peck Bill’s cheek as they rode up the elevator. Ignoring the affection gesture, Zeus rubbed his hands together with glee. “That’s a tough break so early in the game.”

 “The score is just over six hundred,” Mercury reported, “a mighty low number for the beginning of the game.  They don’t even qualify for help.” Demeter noted that his lean runner’s body wasn’t quite as lean as it used to be.  The lack of worshippers was taking its toll on all of them.  Someday they might cease to exist. 

“Oh look!” Isis called, “They went through security without a hitch.  That puts them at seven-o-five.”

Zeus said, “Yes it does, but they’re going to need all the points they can get to make it through my storm.”

Delighted with the new contestants, Demeter continued watching until they boarded their plane. Then she turned over to DNN, the Deity News Network, since it was time for Celebrity, the gossip magazine. She wondered if they’d have anything to say about a burgeoning romance between Isis and Zeus, but there was nothing new.

Munching grapes, Demeter flipped through the channels, browsing what was available.  She returned to Jagged Journeys, just as Zeus asked Mercury, “Why are you in Chicago? I thought our contestants were headed to New York.”

“Well, Zeus, they’re not exactly flying direct.  The bride-to-be is a flight attendant and she used her miles for their tickets, routing everyone through a series of connecting flights.”

Isis protested, “But Mercury, you arranged for their first flight to go smoothly.  Has something gone awry?”

“Oh, the first flight was fine,” Mercury assured her, “Our contestants deplaned and are looking at the departure board, but watch Jane’s face.  She’ll soon realize their next flight was cancelled.”

“How did that happen?” Isis wanted to know.  “They’ve been model travelers since the skycap incident!  And their points are climbing!”

Zeus said, “Isis, you’re forgetting one of the most exciting things about Jagged Journeys.  We may have to wait for the points get below five hundred to cause trouble, but the airlines are free agents.  They decided to cancel the flight to New York without our influence.”

“That’s right, Zeus,” Mercury said.

“Look at that, Jane’s complaints devoured one hundred points, but Bill gave such an encouraging reply he won the points right back,” Isis said.

Demeter decided to keep watching while she ironed a few togas.  The task was so arduous that she’d only finished the first one when she heard Mercury say, “Classic airline frustration, Zeus and Isis!  Manipulating statistics for advertising advantage.  This airline loves to brag about ‘on time flights,’ but everyone knows they tweak the numbers.”

A glance inside the plane showed some passengers standing in the aisles chatting, while others fidgeted in their seats.  “I don’t see this often. They’ve been stuck out there so long the pilot gave them permission to move about the cabin.” Suddenly, Mercury’s voice changed, “Okay, the story is developing as we speak.  The pilot revved the engines and told the passengers to sit down. Even now the plane is beginning to taxi. Zeus, how’s that storm in New York?”

Demeter read a love of mischief in Zeus’s eyes, “I’ve planned some breaks in the storm, but only brief ones.  It’ll be dusk before the storm finally moves west. Let’s leave our passengers in the air at nine hundred and one points, but stay tuned, because we’ll be back.”

TRAVEL

At the Whim of the Gods #1

Atop Mount Olympus, Demeter, Greek Goddess of Harvest, sat in the living room of her condo trying to wrap up a conversation with Hera, Queen of the Gods. It was time for Jagged Journeys.

Hera’s palace had several scrying bowls, but for Demeter, multiple devices just weren’t in the budget, so she needed to get rid of Hera.  Ever since the number of worshippers fell off a millennium or so ago, things had been tight. She made do by performing all her far-seeing in this one bowl, but Hera, who droned on with her suspicions about Zeus’ latest infidelity, could still watch the show as she whined. Demeter didn’t want to miss the show, even if her brother was sleeping with his co-host.

As soon as the queen took a breath, Demeter said, “You’re a paragon of virtue, Hera, and my brother doesn’t know how to keep his loin cloth tied.”

“And you, more than others, can appreciate that fact.” Demeter grimaced, just as Hera had intended. What’s a little incest at the beginning of time? Hera wasn’t even in the picture then.

 Ignoring the barb, Demeter asked, “Do you watch his travel show?”

Hera’s disdain skewed her face. “I saw a few episodes last season, but surely, you don’t watch it.”

“Yes, I do, and it’s about to come on.” Demeter could hear the intro music to Jagged Journeys in the background, so she knew the queen was watching.

“Then I better let you go.”  As Hera’s face disappeared, Demeter tuned into the game show and settled back onto her chaise lounge. Her brother, sitting behind a marble desk with his co-anchor, Isis, replaced the queen on the surface of the water.  Projected on a screen behind them Mercury, Roman Messenger God, fluttered his ankle wings to stay afloat.  In the corner of the screen were the words, “Live from Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.”

Zeus grinned at his audience and said, “Good morning and thank you for tuning into this new episode Jagged Journeys.  I’m your Host and King, Zeus, Greek God of Sky and Thunder.  My co-host is Isis, Egyptian Patroness of Nature and Magic.” Turning towards her he asked, “What’s in store for us this morning, Isis?”

“Today Mercury is in Texas. He’s chosen two random travelers – and as our returning fans know, you’re about to shake up their itinerary.”

“Yes, I’ve got a humdinger of a storm brewing in the Northeastern United States and, as our previous seasons have proven,” Zeus beamed his white teeth towards his audience, “my storms can really upset a journey.” He turned back to Isis, “Why don’t you remind the audience of the way our game works?”

“OK, Zeus.  At the beginning of each game, Mercury goes to an airport, somewhere in the world, and randomly chooses travelers to act as our unwitting participants.  The only qualifying factor is an itinerary through a storm you’ve generated.  Then we follow the contestants to their destination and see how your storm affects their plans.”

“But I’m not the only one who gets a crack at them, am I, Isis?”

“No Zeus, you’re not,” she said with a brilliant smile. “Any deity can use their powers to help the contestants or hinder them. It depends on the score.  Each day of travel, one thousand grace points are awarded and then points are added or subtracted according to the contestants’ actions and attitudes.  As long as the points stay above one thousand, the contestants qualify for help, but when they fall below five hundred, they are at the mercy of any prank a deity chooses to play.”

“And that’s how the game is played” Zeus said.  Demeter didn’t like his new hairstyle.  All those stiff tufts looked ridiculous on him.  Next he’d be getting a tattoo. Wouldn’t Hera pitch a fit over that!  Especially if it was a crocodile or a hippo. He continued with a warm smile for Isis, “Go ahead and introduce our new contestants.”

“Well, Zeus, Mercury chose Bill and Jane Sadek,” Isis explained, “a couple of newlyweds traveling to Germany for the wedding of their friends, Tammy and Ludgar.  They’ll have to travel through New York City to get to Germany, and with your storm, it’ll be quite a challenge.”

“Yes, it will, Isis.” Turning back to the audience, but speaking to Mercury, Zeus said, “Hello Wing-ed One, what’s happening in the Lone Star State.”

“Good morning Zeus, I think we’re about to embark on the jaggedest journey ever!  Bill and Jane have just returned from their own halcyonic Hawaiian honeymoon, but we get to see what happens when they experience a little more difficulty on someone else’s.”

“Wait! Did I hear you right?  Our participants aren’t just on their way to a wedding; they’re also going on the honeymoon?”

“That’s right Zeus!  Our contestants and several other guests will be joining Tammy and Ludgar as they tour Germany and Austria.  In fact, about twenty folks are flying into both New York airports today and they plan to fly to Frankfurt this very evening.  What a recipe for disaster!”

“Well, Mercury, I think you’re right.  This certainly has all the makings of a jagged journey.”

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Intro to At the Whim of the Gods

TRAVEL THERE: SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO A WEDDING

1994 was a big year for me.

I got married in May and our honeymoon was a Hawaiian cruise. That should be enough to make any year big, but it was just the beginning of our adventures.

I had six weeks to update my passport with my new name, because Bill’s best friend was getting married in Wiesenkirche Zu Soest and we were on the guest list. We weren’t only on the guest list for the wedding, though. We were also invited along for the honeymoon.

The Way the World Was

Today life is framed by smartphones and social media, but in 1994 we somehow managed to live without either one. There was an internet, but we called it the web and it was just a place for nerds to go.

A computer with Windows and a mouse was a novelty, because most systems ran DOS. Our monitors were CRTs. People owned copiers, not printers, because printers were these loud dot matrix things that produced voluminous reports we called print-outs. We sent faxes, not emails, because email was also a novelty and texts weren’t a thing. (Watch the movie You’ve Got Mail.)

Every home had a land line, with multiple phones around the house and depended on an answering machine to get their messages. There were cellular phones, but they were very limited, because you actually subscribed to a particular set of cell towers. You actually had to pay extra to get Dallas-Ft. Worth service, instead of Dallas or Ft. Worth. When you got out of your cell, then you went on roaming which was astronomically expensive, so you just didn’t use it. There was no camera, no texting, no wi-fi, no internet. You just made and received calls. For all these reasons, there were more people with beepers than there were with cellphones and when you weren’t working, you left your beeper at home. Believe me, it was lovely.

When you traveled you used maps, atlases and travel guides, because GPS was something for pilots and the military. If you needed to make a call, you used a pay phone or you waited until you got to your hotel. Getting away from it all could actually be accomplished.

It Should Have Been a Breeze

I’ve been fortunate in my life. My vacations with Bill have been one Trip of a Lifetime after another – the Caribbean, Egypt, the Danube, the Mediterranean, cruises, road trips, you name it and I hadn’t exactly been sitting around on my keester before I met him.

Still, the itinerary for Tammy and Ludger’s wedding trip was like something out of a movie. Tammy was a flight attendant for an international airline, so all of our flights were comped. Ludger’s company owned the gorgeous hotel where the wedding party stayed, so our five star accommodations were comped. Limos were supposed to pick us up at one airport and whisk us to another, where we’d party in one of those restricted lounges. There would be days of rustic folk celebrations in Ludger’s small German village and the wedding would be in a spectacular cathedral. And that was just the beginning, because then we’d set out on a road trip to see the wonders of Bavaria.

But you know me! If something is going to go awry, then I’m probably on that train. Before this trip was over I would live some of the most spectacular moments of my life. It was remarkable in every possible way, but most remarkable and most frequently recounted is the disaster of a commute we made from DFW to the small town of Dortmund in Germany.

At the Whim of the Gods was Born

I turned these adventures into a manuscript sometime in the early 2000’s. I wasn’t sure then what I’d do with it. I just had the inspiration and went with it. I still had hopes of being the next Victoria Holt back in those days. At first I wrote it like a play, inspired by the Greater TUNA plays by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard, which were popular at the time. Then, someone in a writing group said it would be more fun as a narrative. That captured my imagination and I did a rewrite. I had actually forgotten the rewrite until I was looking back in my files to retrieve the play.

I didn’t actually think I was going to be the next Victoria Holt. I just wanted to be a published author. I’d written a comic novel about a retirement home romance, but somewhere after the 50th rejection letter I found myself embroiled in the drama of being the primary caregiver for three failing senior citizens and I lost my momentum. Life went on and while I did manage to get some poems published, I’ve moved on to other dreams.

Now, I’ll share At the Whim of the Gods with you. I decided the narrative version is the more interesting of the two, even though it was never actually finished. Who knows, maybe I’ll get inspired again? Maybe I’ll finish it up by sharing the end of the play.

One small warning – there won’t be many images. Bill had his camera bag, but remember, these were the days before we had smartphones and we didn’t break out the camera for the small moments, or our meals, or much of anything, except the sites.

I’ll break the narrative down into easily digestible chunks and make this post sticky, so that if anyone happens upon my blog they’ll know what’s up.

The Blurb on the Cover

If this story was on Amazon, there would be a paragraph to introduce it. It would go something like this:

What if the huge pantheon of gods from the ancient world are still with us? Since we stopped worshipping them, perhaps they’ve gotten a little bored. Taking a cue from humans, the gods and demi-gods watch reality shows on their scrying bowls. The favorite show might be Jagged Journeys, where human contestants have no idea they’re just entertainment fodder for Mount Olympus. Bill and Jane Sadek are real people who went on a real vacation in 1994. All these things actually happened to them. Was it just bad luck or were they AT THE WHIM OF THE GODS!

I really do hope you enjoy it. Come back next week for the first excerpt!

DESTINATIONS, DFW Metroplex, Photography, Rockwall

Your Memories Are My Media

KEEPING MEMORIES: JANESADEK, SCRAPBOOKING ARTIST & PHOTO ORGANIZATION COACH

I’ve spent the last few years helping my husband build a thriving real estate photography business, but even though I loved doing it, I wasn’t living my dream. Over the last few months I began to think about what it would mean to live my dream. What would that look like? For those of you who follow me on one of my social channels, you already know how I chose to pursue my dream, but it’s time to catch my blogging friends up with my latest endeavor.

Scrapbooking Is One of My Things

I love to plan trips. I love to travel. I love history. I love to write. I love to scrapbook. These are not separate things. They are deeply intertwined with one another and each is a part of the rest. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time is not surprised by any of these declarations. They are all a part of what I share here.

However, they were no part of my career choices, because that’s not the way you did things in my day. I have worked hard most of my life. My writing skills have helped me in my marketing career, but all the things I love to do were never on my resume or in my consideration when looking for work.

Looking back over my career, there’s been lots of success and I have enjoyed many aspects of the jobs I held, but on this end of my life, it was finally time to think about what most young people consider the most important part of their career search: What do I want to be when I grew up?

As I sat in my scrapbooking studio creating my scrapbook for 2019 I came up with an idea that sounded good. I wanted to create albums for other people. I knew people who built scrapbooking careers by teaching classes, selling supplies, holding events or even opening a scrapbooking store, but that wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I wanted to create albums for people who didn’t have the time, talent or interest in doing so themselves, not just sell them stuff.

I chewed on that for awhile, did some research and tried to figure out what a career in scrapbooking would look like. How many people were out there who would hire someone to create an album for them? Were there enough to keep me busy? What would people be willing to pay for the service? Would they want traditional albums or digital ones? How many albums could I actually do in a month? In a year? Could I build a profitable business out of that?

And what about people who did want to make their own albums, but they needed training or encouragement or just some tools and supplies. Then there were the people who really needed help saving their memories, but they didn’t want albums at all. Could I help them?

A Business Is Born

As I talked to myself, I thought, “I want to help people get their photos and memorabilia from wherever they are to whatever solutions the people want, traditional or digital, and I don’t care whether they want me to do it for them or they just want me to help them do it. I just want to help people get their memories organized and into a format where they can share them with others, now and in the future.”

It just so happens that our real estate photography company is called Spot On Images. Instead of inventing a whole new entity for the scrapbooking and photo organization, I decided Spot On Images would work. I just had to do it.

I decided to get my ducks in a row and introduce my new business venture on February 15th. Perhaps you already know that was the day the big ice storm hit the DFW area. So, if I was looking for omens, I might have quit that day. However, the official kickoff might have been February 15th, but I’d already been talking to people. One lady had already hired me to do an album for her. Others were ready to be my customers for scrapbooking supplies and events. I even had people interested in digital solutions to their photo dilemmas. So, I wasn’t looking for omens, I was already in business.

Since Bill and I already have a thriving business that we want to keep going, I’ve been rolling things out in phases. I knew back in February, I still had a few more posts on my blog to catch everyone up to date in my travels and adventures, so I put off this phase of my introduction. Consider yourself up to date and this your invitation to look into my new venture.

If you wonder exactly what a scrapbooking artist and photo organization coach could do for you, then you should follow this link: Why Do I Need Jane? If you’re interested specifically in scrapbooking, you should look at this page: SCRAPBOOKING. If you’re wondering what kind of digital solutions I offer, then this is your link: PHOTO ORGANIZATION.

Next week I will be kicking off National Scrapbooking Day with a 3-Day Celebration and Workshop in the amenity center of my neighborhood. If you are in the DFW area, I’d love for you to join us. We’ll be memory making in traditional and digital formats while having a whole lot of fun. Just give me a call or text at 972-971-5263 or email me at janesadek@gmail.com.

If you really don’t care and just want to read about my next adventure, then come back next week. I’ll tell you about it!