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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The worst airline in America: USAirways

My darling brother bought first-class tickets for my son and me so we could go visit him. First class! A personal first. Sadly, they were on the despicable US Airways. And even more sadly, they were connecting flights.

First flight: 45 minutes late. We get to Philadelphia and run and barely get on our connecting flight on time.

Second flight: it is announced to the seat-belted passengers that there is a very minor maintenance issue and we will be delayed a very few minutes. This lie gets repeated until we have been sitting in our seats on the tarmac for TWO HOURS.

Yesterday, coming home:

First flight: As of ten minutes before the flight, the departure board lists the flight as on time. However, the plane is absent. Gate attendant announces: "There is a slight delay in the plane's arrival, however, we will arrive at our destination on time and everybody will make their connections."

By the time we leave, we are an hour late. We arrive in Charlotte ten minutes before the second flight is supposed to take off. However, by the time we de-plane, the second flight has taken off ON TIME despite the fact that probably twenty (or more) of its passengers were in the airport just minutes away. So everybody missed that connection. And in fact everybody on our airplane missed their connections.

Nobody apologized. And because they deemed this an "air traffic problem," "no amenities are provided" was the smug answer at the US Airways service desk. Not even meal vouchers. Can't they hire people who can at least pretend to care that they've made a royal mess of your day(s)?

Middle of the night, Charlotte airport. They say cheerily, "but we have wait-listed you on the 10:40 pm flight to RDU." How cynical can they be? There were more than thirty people on that waiting list!

They offered a flight out this morning, when my son had to be at work. They did not offer any other alternatives and again, no apologies. The only person who seemed sympathetic was the nice young woman who was washing the bathroom sinks.

We called an amazingly generous friend who came to PICK US UP 2.5 hours away from home. We were in bed by 2 am. Feeling totally abandoned by an uncaring system.

The last time I flew, the flight to RDU from JFK was cancelled at the last minute, with no options offered until the next afternoon. I spent the night on the airport linoleum floor with many other stranded would-be passengers, listening to the floor zambonis rumbling around to the loathesome strains of the LOUD 24-hour Justin Bieber soundtrack.

Is it part of the airlines' ethos now that they don't even apologize? Are they so stingy that when they strand their (first-tie) first class passengers they don't even spare a few shekels for meal vouchers? I hate air travel.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should you go to your fortieth high school reunion?

Yes, time flies, this year is the fortieth anniversary of the Horace Greeley Class of 1971 graduation. Though I haven't been in touch with more than three of "us" in those decades, somehow an enterprising classmate pieced together a facebook group and has been pulling us in. I recognize (some of) the names but can't put them to the teenagers they once were. I was in a fog through most of high school - all the questions I never asked anybody, questions I never asked myself! Was my group of "friends" as random as it now seems?

Why was I afraid of so many of my classmates? Some I remember only as tough girls who sat on the sinks and stalls in the bathroom smoking - seemingly all day - so that I tried to avoid going there EVER. Others seemed so cold or superior, I knew I wasn't good enough for them, so I never tried talking to them. Maybe I was completely wrong about them! So many I passed in the hallways hundreds of times but never looked in the eye...

I think I want to go precisely because of that long-ago fog. I want to look at these people with my adult eyes and see whether I can connect them to any foggy memories. And I wonder if it will be as enchanting experience as my college reunions have been. Will it feel like Brigadoon? (With the Holiday Inn setting, it's unlikely.)

Perhaps we're old enough not to go on crash diets to convince each other we will be eternally young... perhaps we're old enough not to try and impress each other with our accomplishments because, looking at the growing list of classmates who have died already, just being above ground is a pretty good thing all on its own.

I am already shy and scared and getting ready to skulk in the corner. But I'm not too shy to go. Chappaqua, ahoy! July 10...

Friday, May 13, 2011

PicknBow folkmusic retreat weekend in Durham NC: The Pratie Heads will be teaching at a summer folk music workshop retreat in Durham, June 24-26 2011

I don't know if any of you are local enough to take this in, but my musical partner Bob Vasile and I are going to be part of a music school weekend June 24-26, 2011. I'll be teaching singing and fiddle; Bob will be teaching open-tuning on the guitar and bouzouki/cittern/mandolin lessons. Danny will be teaching guitar, ukelele, and more...

Here are the details: PicknBow folksong and folkmusic summer workshops. PicknBow weekend is Danny Gotham's idea: he thought there should be an economical local opportunity for singers and guitarists (ukelele and bouzouki and fiddle... players) to spend a weekend making music!

To register, call Danny at (919)967.4934 or e-mail him at

There will be classes and jams and meals together and informal singing circles and performances starting Friday evening June 24 and ending late afternoon on Sunday.

Singing fiddle and guitar summer workshops in Durham NC

There'll be classes geared to beginning players, players who want to experiment with open-tuning on their guitars, classes for people who play but are scared to sing, classes in harmony singing and "Songs for Non-Singers." And more. The singers and the instrumentalists will learn some songs together, jeez, it can be like Beethoven's seventh symphony!

I'm looking forward to working in the newly refurbished Murphey School, Durham NC, which is just a couple miles from my house. It's a lovely old space that's been redone with AIR-CONDITIONING.

You can download the brochure: Summer music workshop, PicknBow, Durham NC


Monday, May 09, 2011

Chairs at the Armadillo Grill

Colorful chairs at the Armadillo Grill Mexican Restaurant

Saturday, May 07, 2011

"Mothering Sunday" - best Mother's Day song ever

Re-posted from 2009. This is my favorite song for a mother, ever, no question. My mother was long dead when I recorded it, but I thought about her anyway:

Mothering Sunday

It gives me chills just thinking about it. I recorded it with Jacqueline Schwab and Robbie Link on "Sedgefield Fair."

In the 19th century, changes in land policy in England made it impossible for many families to keep their children at home. The boys were sent away to work on faraway farms and the girls were sent out to be servants.

Often they had to go a long way from home to find jobs, and they worked six days a week, so there was not time to walk home, visit, and walk back to the place of employment in time. One of the few times a family could hope to be together was "Mothering Sunday." The kids would come home and fuss over their mom - bake her pancakes - and this song is about that day.

Mothering Sunday
George Hare Leonard

It is the day of all the year,
Of all the year the one day,
When I shall see my mother dear
And bring her cheer,
A-mothering on Sunday.

So I'll put on my Sunday coat,
And in my hat a feather,
And get the lines I writ by rote,
With many a note,
That I've a-strung together.

And now to fetch my wheaten cake
To fetch it from the baker,
He promised me, for mother's sake,
The best he'd bake
For me to fetch and take her.

The boys will all come home from town
Not one will miss that one day;
And every maid will bustle down
To show her gown,
A-mothering on Sunday.

It is the day of all the year,
Of all the year the one day;
And here come I, my mother dear,
And bring you cheer,
A-mothering on Sunday.