Friday, September 28, 2007


My ruminations over the last several weeks never quite got to my blog, so today I'm going to cover several different items.


On August 15, 2007, Victoria and I flew out of Intercontinental Airport in Houston en route to Helena, Montana. We have taken this trip many times in the past. It takes all day - Houston to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Helena, lose an hour - but that's the trip to Helena. This particular day, our routine travel turned out to be not so routine.

Victoria doesn't drive and therefore doesn't have photo ID. We use her passport as her travel document. When I grabbed her passport, I grabbed my own and at the airport, I presented both of them to the TSA gatekeeper. I wish I had just used my driving license.

The TSA guy looked at my passport and looked at it. I could tell from the calculating look on his face that something bad was about to happen. He waved me to one side and said that he would have to get a supervisor. I waited as the rest of the line went through the checkpoint with no problem, including Victoria.

After a while, the supervisor appeared and took my passport. It creeped me out to have someone repeatedly look from my passport to me and back to my passport as if the picture wasn't actually me. Finally, he told me to go follow him and we proceeded to the "special treatment" section of the security checkpoint. There, I was patted down by an airport police officer. Not wanded, mind you, but actually frisked. My luggage and carry-ons, including my purse, were taken apart and searched item by item.

Meanwhile, the supervisor with my passport picked up the telephone, continuing to talk on it until well after my belongings and my person had been searched. Finally, another supervisor appeared. In the guise of casual conversation, he interrogated me. Where was I going? Why was I going there? Who did I know there? Why had I been in Houston? How long had I lived in Houston? Who was Alexandra (the emergency contact name in my passport)?

The questioning made my very angry. I wanted to tell him that, as an American citizen I did not have to answer his questions, but I felt afraid of the consequences. Afraid that I would be detained, that Victoria would be left alone in the airport - freaked out - while I got taken into to custody. I realized that this is where the Patriot Act kicks in - they could have hauled me away as a terrorist suspect and I would have had no recourse, not even the right to a phone call or a lawyer. My fear of the situation heightened my anger about what the TSA personnel were doing.

By this time, I had gotten my drivers license out and showed it to several of the TSA people. And I asked several times what the problem was. It turns out that my passport has some printing glitches that caused a red flag to go up. The photograph had not been aligned properly within its box and the printing of my personal information had not lined up properly with the pre-printed items on the page. Apparently, they suspected me of carrying a forged passport.

The ironic thing is that I didn't even need the stupid passport to travel. Why would I bother with a fake passport for travel in America? And, of course, the information on the passport matched the information on my drivers license perfectly. For that matter, the photograph matched the photograph on my license as well as looking just like I looked at the airport that day.

How hard is it to figure out that I am who I say I am? A fifty-seven year old American woman, plain vanilla variety, traveling for pleasure. But yet another supervisor appeared to check me out.

It took 30 minutes and the indignities of frisking my person, searching my property, and interrogating me, plus three different TSA supervisors, to get me released from security and on my way to board my plane. I felt frustrated, angry, and helpless.

Anyone out there who thinks that the Patriot Act is protecting us is crazy. All it has done is erode our civil liberties and make potential victims of governmental oppression out of all of us.

I sent off for a replacement passport and received it in yesterday's mail. I'm thinking that I am going to keep it safely tucked away at home unless I have to travel to a foreign country, though. It is too dangerous to travel with it in the USA!!!


I completed my first quilt on Tuesday. Named the "I Love You" quilt because it says I Love You all over it, I dedicated it to my thirty year marriage to Michael.

I started it a long time ago (February 2006 at the Vermont Stdio Center). Due to my inexperience, I had little success getting the quilt stitched and when I returned home, I basically set it aside. I got it out again briefly in May 2006 when we visited my parents for a long weekend. Finally, this summer, I took the quilt with me to Montana for my vacation. In ten days, with coaching from Mother, I completed 2/3rds of the quilt. After I returned to Cypress, I kept working on it and finished it on September 24.

The quilt has a Valentine's Day theme because I started it in February and also because
that's fabric I had on hand. It is very bright and cheery. Some of the quilt blocks say, "I love you," so I decided to name the quilt "I Love You" and dedicate it to my thirty years of marriage to Michael. It now hangs on the quilt rack at the foot of our bed, ready to provide comfort for an afternoon nap.

Once I understood how to do the quilting rocker stitch, I enjoyed quilting very much and I intend to make another one soon.


Last winter, I entered a contest sponsored by Dreyer's Slow Churned Ice Cream to win a block party for up to 100 people. Dreyer's selected winners based on a 300 word or less essay "Why my neighborhood deserves a Dreyer's Slow Churned Ice Cream block party." I had entered the same contest the previous year, but did not win. This year, I did!!

Dreyer's choose my essay (and 1499 others) to receive a "Party in a Box" kit and 12 cartons of their delicious slow churned ice cream. If you haven't ever tried it, I urge you to run out now and buy a carton for yourself. Hard to believe it is reduced fat and calories because the ice cream tastes fatteningly delicious and seems to come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins.

The party in a box turned out to be really slick: 100 paper bowls, 100 plastic spoons, more than 100 napkins, a sign for our yard, 26 door hangers to invite the neighbors with (and how did they know there were 26 houses on my street?), a table cloth, A DISPOSABLE CAMERA TO TAKE PICTURES WITH, 12 ice cream scoops, and coupons for more ice cream for the party plus coupons for our guests and two coupons for free Dreyer's frozen dog treats. Three of our neighborhood dogs got to enjoy those yummies.

We held the party on September 15 in the evening. I had to pick three possible dates when I submitted my entry and I pushed my choices as late into September as I could to avoid hot, hot summer weather. The plan worked pretty well - we had a mild evening with a light breeze. The terrace looked spectacular and everyone complimented us on how well it turned out, but not until we got our share of good natured ribbing about the long, involved process of building it. If only the mosquitoes had died before the party! Michael sprayed the area in the afternoon, but I guess it didn't do the job because I still got bitten all night.

Dreyer's gave us two coupons for free ice cream in case the party needed more. When I picked ed it up, my grocery store had a buy one get one free sale in progress, so I actually got four additional cartons. We finished off six completely at the party and started on several more, but Michael and I still have a lot of Dreyer's Slow Churned Ice Cream around here! So if you're in the neighborhood, stop by and have a bowl with me!

I have more to write about, but I am going to save it for later. I am in the middle of a big project (yes, I know, I am ALWAYS in the middle of something) and I have to get to work again.