"I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
Street Car Named Desire
I left for Hampton, Virginia for Quiltfest last Wednesday morning. My husband took me to the airport. I had an early flight . We have had a deluge of snow (picture the winter scene in Doctor Zivago, that would be what Minneapolis currently looks like except for the beautiful music and we don’t have sleds.), therefore, we left for the airport at 3:45 am. The roads were like washboards and visibility was nil. The drive should have been about 35 minutes but after 90 minutes we weren’t quite there yet. Just about a quarter mile before we arrived, I pulled out my phone to get my boarding pass and my license. You know that feeling when you know you have really screwed up (listen carefully and you can hear the music right now, not Baby Shark but the Jaws theme). Alas, I had no license.
Lately, I have been “simplifying” my life and evidently, I brought this concept to new heights.
You know, I held the contents in my hand and hoped for joy before I placed them in my traveling bag. Evidently, my license gave me no joy. Marie Kondo-ing might have gone a bit too far here. Dennis thought we should turn around and drive back home but I knew I would never make my flight. Technology can sometimes be a curse or a blessing. That morning it was a blessing. I quickly got on the TSA website and asked if I could fly without my license in hand. They had a short paragraph that it might not be the end of the world and that at times they will work with you. I decided to take my chances.
I stepped up to the TSA agent and explained my plight. There were only two to three hundred people behind me. No need for me to worry about all of those eyes boring a hole in my head saying things like, “come on lady, move it!” The TSA was very nice and explained that they might let me on but it was going to take a bit. All I could do was throw myself at their mercy. I was pretty much, “Do what you will to me, just let me get on my flight". A guy about eight feet tall came to me and asked me why I didn’t have my license. I didn't think he would understand my explanation of Marie Kondo so just said I must have misplaced it. He was courteous as we went through every document I had on me that had my name or picture on it. Thank God for my Costco credit card. It was the only picture ID I had. After about ten minutes he pointed me in the direction of an agent pulling on a pair of latex gloves looking like she was not going to put up with any funny business. The giant explained I had been assigned to a woman TSA which was a perk as she was going to touch me in every way possible in the next few seconds. When I think of it I hadn’t been touched quite that intimately in quite a while. We became fast friends.
Once this bit of exploration was done I was led to an agent who’s job it was to rifle through my clean belongings. I had once been in Ireland and purchased a lot of crystal. I was short on space on my return flight so I put all my dirty underwear inside the crystal not thinking that crystal is made of lead and they would be opening each package and pulling out my underwear (that's my dirty underwear folks) in front of the world. I learned my lesson on that one. I am a pretty good packer nowadays. Luckily I had “Kondoed” my bag as well so it was a simple procedure. Although there is now someone on this earth that knows that I have a desperate need to have six different types of chapstick on me at all times. When she was done she looked up and said “You can go.” The heavens opened up, I swear I saw a shining light. I was amazed and truly grateful. I wanted to kiss this woman and the giant I had left behind. It had only taken 30 minutes. I had plenty of time to catch my flight.
Off to Hampton, Virginia I went without another problem. I checked into my hotel the Holiday Inn. I was pleasantly surprised when a young woman greeted me with “Hello pumpkin” at the front desk. Remember, I am from Minnesota where we say things like “You betcha, dontcha know and uff da". Endearing terms are not what I am accustomed to. The five days I spent at the hotel were filled with great people who genuinely cared about my needs and were filled with kindness. I had never been treated quite this well. For a time I thought they might have me mixed up with someone else. I felt Holiday Inn must be a pretty good employer if these people were that happy with what they were doing. Their manager, Donna, was more than accommodating with all of the packages that I had sent ahead. If you need a place to stay in Hampton, I recommend the Holiday Inn Express.
I did not rent a car while I was in Virginia, so I had to do a bit of walking. There was not much in the way of restaurants near the hotel except a Waffle House. In Minnesota, sadly, there are no Waffle Houses but I have seen a plethora of them when traveling in southern states. I may have seen them, but I had never had a chance to experience one. Here was my chance! I walked into the restaurant about 6 pm, there were a few people but not many. First thing my waitress said was, “Have you a seat baby doll, I will be right with you”. Again, another new experience for me. A young man was preparing food and singing. I don’t mean humming but singing as loud as can be. The song was, “Lean On Me”. Before he was done everyone in that restaurant was singing with him, me as well. I explained to the waitress that I had never been to a Waffle House and she was amazed. The concert continued. He was pretty good, people continued to sing along. The waitress helped me pick out their best offering. As I finished she awarded me with a Waffle House hat, “Just so you remember us, sweetie”. I walked out of there with a huge smile on my face and I will surely remember the experience.
The entire week was much like that at Quiltfest. Everyone was so amiable and gracious. Even when they explained that they had no interest in my racks they were nice, “Oh thanks sweetie, just not for me right now, maybe another time.” I'm sort of used to the "leave me alone" look or people just ignoring me.
I finished up my week by calling a Lyft driver to take me from the convention center to my hotel. I bring my booth with me so I have two bags that weigh 50 lb each. My driver, Bryant, showed up within five minutes. As I handed him my bags, he noted that, at my age, I was pretty adept at picking them up which surprised him. I took this as a definite compliment. Bags in the trunk, I hopped into his car. Once in I looked around and I am in another world. On each of the back seats is a monitor playing 70 and 80s music videos. There is mood lighting flickering to the beat of the music, there are bags with pockets hanging from the back seat. These are filled with everything a traveler could possibly need. I see aspirin, meat sticks, carmex, a phone charger for every type of phone, mints, three different pockets of candy, tissues, and even a lint brush. I was disappointed that my ride was not longer. I want every Lyft driver to be like this. Life would be so good. Thank you, Bryant!!
I flew out Monday morning feeling like a new person, who needs a spa, kindness is definitely better. If you want to know what kindness looks like, go to Hampton Virginia.
I give you my Irish goodbye.
Recipe of the Week -
Wild Rice Soup
It's still pretty cold here in Minnesota so I will share my most favorite soup recipe. My family loves this soup. If you don't have any in your area send for it. It is worth it. Wild rice can be found on Amazon for a price of $6 per lb to $27 per lb. You don't have to buy the native rice but do not purchase a blend. You want all wild rice.
4 C. water 1 C wild rice
Wild rice tastes nutty and is a beautiful black. Rinse the rice before cooking. Heat the wild rice in water until it boils. Simmer for a good 40 minutes until the rice opens. Drain the water and set aside. You can make the rice a day ahead of you like. The rest of the recipe only takes about 15 to 20 minutes.
In a boiler pan:
6 C water 1/2 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. white pepper if you have it
3 to 4 T of chicken base paste - do not use chicken bouillon as it is too salty. You can find chicken base your grocery store by the soup. It is a more concentrated form of chicken broth.
Heat the water, bouillon mustard and pepper.
In a large frying pan:
2 T butter 1 pkg. slivered almonds
1/2 C. chopped onions 1 T flour
1 grated carrot 2 C. heavy cream
1/2 C. fresh mushrooms 1 pkg - 8 - 12 oz of small frozen shrimp
Melt butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the grated carrot, almonds and mushrooms. Stir. Add the cooked wild rice. Mix in the flour and pour in the cream. Add the shrimp. This will make a thick roux.
Combine the two mixtures in the boiler and heat. Simmer for 20 minutes. This goes great with crusty grain bread.
"Kindness can transform someone's dark moment with a blaze of light. You'll never know how much your caring matters."
Amy Leigh Mercree