As we celebrate Memorial Day lets us all take a deep breath and look at those around us. Celebrate with remembrance. I would like to suggest that we continue to remember those who are struggling as much as we celebrate the fallen. The fallen are a reminder of how terrible we can be to each other and a caution to us all. Let us not lose focus, we celebrate because some were taken before their time.
Let us celebrate life and work to preserve our essential freedoms without the need for the loss of life. Let us celebrate nature and the circle of life. Happy Memorial Day to all.
I can still remember my first time cooking a full meal. It was summer-time and we wanted soup. Soup was what we had for dinner every Friday. For months I had observed. It was mine time to repeat what I had observed. I followed the recipe as I had seen. I made what I thought was great soup. We enjoyed to the last drop. Since then I have enjoyed cooking. I enjoy cooking and would love my girls to have the same joy from cooking. Cooking is an excellent way of learning science and may help us eat better. By better I mean great tasting food with lower caloric density.
Making breakfast for my girls this morning was a wonderful expression of my love for them and my indirect way of passing unto them great eating habits. I suggest we all cook more. We all should eat more home cooking. Eat more home cooking for better health and family unity. I made what the girls requested, one fried egg with two strips of Turkey Bacon and blueberries. What is on your breakfast menu this morning?
The sound of music off in the distance was a gentle reminder of where I was waking up. I was back in my childhood bedroom and the day had started. The heavy drum line of the music was just what I needed to rouse me from a great night. The cool Sunday morning did not disappoint. I looked out the window and saw in the distance the rising sun just above the Caribbean Sea. The sounds of sound birds flavored the air with joy and anticipation. I opened the window and my ears were treated to the full cacophony of morning time in the countryside. My nose was filled with the smell of Sunday morning in rural Jamaica. I filled my lungs and remembered. I was transported back decades to my childhood. I could almost smell the wood fire and the roasted breadfruit. The scent of sauteed salt-fish and boiled ackee. The slight sharpness of the scotch bonnet pepper just above the scent of salt-fish.
The sun rose more quickly than I wanted it to and I could feel the heat. The birds started to disperse and the smell of food grew stronger. The aroma of cocoa tea made me smile and reminded me of all the advantages of growing up in a rural farming community. The music off in the distance diminished and the chatter of farmers taking out life stock became the background. The bleat of goats and the moo of cows off in the distance. I was happy to be home. Missing some of the conveniences of the big city was worth it. I loved my rural up-bringing and would not trade it for anything in the world.
Bang! Bang! I was awoken from a deep sleep and jumped up from bed. My head collided with something hard and I fell back into bed. I felt an intense pain race down my neck and into my lower back. My face felt as if I was walking under a sprinkler. Immediately I knew what was coming next. I could taste the viscus liquid on my lips, I was bleeding. I looked up and noticed the nail on the bottom of the upper bunk. I had not slept in a bunk bed in many decades and the bed had taken its revenge on my head. The pain became more intense and I grabbed the blanket and applied pressure to my head, but the flow of blood was stead and unrelenting. I felt as if I could not breathe. I tried to open my eyes fully but my sight was being obscured by the red flow. I called for Paul, but there was no answer. I more carefully stood from the lower bunk.
I tried to move forward but did not get far. I was pulled toward the floor by an unseen force at my left ankle. I used my hands to cushion my fall and let go of the blanket and the stream of blood became a torrent. I heard the scrapping of metal against concrete and felt the coolness of the concrete floor under my elbows. The impact was painful and I screamed from its intensity. I thought the pain in my elbows would be the worst, then my chin meet the concrete floor. My jaw was on fire. I pulled at my left leg but it was not going anywhere.
Bang! Bang! Bang! I had forgotten about what had awoken me. It was gun fire. I was certain of it. I shouted for Paul again, but there was still no answer. Suddenly there was an intense beam of light. The door slammed into the wall with a loud bang and the intensity of the light made me realize how dark the room was. I heard a loud voice in a strange language. Suddenly the room went dark again. There was a bag over my head.
As I ran against the crowd the intensity of the gun fire increased. I had to ask myself why I was not going in the opposite direction with the rest of the crowds. It was not a question worth asking at this point since I had to get back to the apartment and get the rest of the family. The city was under fire from the rebels and I was determined to get the entire family out before the rebels took control. I was a known government employee and my family had always been loyal to the government. We would not be safe under the new regime. I had promised to get every family member out of the city. I had made the mistake of getting my parents out before meeting my nephews who lived closer to the front.
My brothers were on duty at the front and I was responsible for the safety of the rest of family. At first it seemed like I was doing the logical thing. I got the sick and the older relatives out and left the fit and young for last. I was hoping that they could run faster than the crowds. We were a fit family, we were a military family. All the young men were expected to join the service so we were always ready for war.
I pushed through the crowds and made it to the apartment complex. The sound of artillery was deafening, but there was no sight of combatants. The gates were open and the courtyard was empty. I stopped to catch my breath hands on knees. As I recovered from the run it hit me that the fighting must have entered the city proper. I never though things would get this far, but we were prepared. The sun was moving toward the horizon and night fall would arrive within the next 2 hours. I had to pick up the pace before nightfall. The red indicator lights were blinking. It was soon going to be really dark in the neighborhood, the mains power was out. I swiped my card and gained entrance to the complex. I would have to take the stairs since the elevators were powered off during emergencies. As I started the climb to the 5th floor a projectile crash through the door. I crouched along the stairway as what looked like a small recon drone scanned the room. As an intelligence officer it took me seconds to recognise the drone. It was a rebel recon drone. It scanned the room and moved toward the courtyard. I used the opportunity to continue climbing, there would be a few more drones moving soon.
I moved as quickly and quietly as I could. I finally got to the apartment breathless and sweaty. I knocked and the door opened quickly. The boys were ready. Backpacks were filled with food, water and weapons. They were well prepared for a fight. They handed me a survival kit. I was proud of their preparation but Max and Taylor were a little too eager for the fight. I repressed the thought and slipped my backpack on and told them about the drone. They had more information than I realized. They had seen the drone and had been watching as the fighting got closer to the neighborhood. It was not the ideal time to introduce them to the brutality of war, but it had to happen at some point. It took less than 5 minutes for us to debrief , plan and move out. I felt like I was a young lieutenants leading a small recon team. I was long pass those days but I too was itching for the fight. The family was safely away from the front and it was time for us to find the rest of our team.
Living on the 22nd floor was great, but I felt a need to get out of the house. I had not left the house in about three days. It had been warm in the apartment and the closest I had gotten to the blizzard was watching from my window. For the first time in a long while I did not have to shovel a sidewalk or spread salt. It was a wonderful feeling. I was even happier with my decision to sell my car last summer. The last few days were even better that classes had been cancelled and my pantry was stocked and prepared for a long stint inside. It was going to take a special event to get me out of the house.
The view from the 22nd floor was glorious. I sat in the front of the apartment and sipped my cocoa tea and enjoyed what I saw. The apartment was in the front of the building overlooking the street and across from my favorite park. It was a great place to live in the summer and I was about to find out how much fun winter could be. Well not really, I was here for the summer not the winter. I had thought my research would have been complete before the first snow but it was not even thanksgiving and a giant snow storm had already stalled the city. My hope for a short winter without much snow was already headed in the wrong direction. I was still hoping but not hopeful. The old timers were certain that it was going to be a cold snowy season. I should have followed my instincts and taken the assignment in South Florida. But the draw of the city was too much. I convinced myself that another year in the cold would be ok. Only 2 months in and all my assumptions had already been proven incorrect. I was hoping I was going to get at least one prediction correct. It was not looking good.
Well, I did get one thing correct. The stray cat I had adopted was still around. Kitty was with me at the window enjoying the view. She was curled up by the heater with her face against the glass. The glass was cold and the floor warm, so I was lost as to why she was in that position. She was a cat after all, there is no making sense with them. Maybe she just needed to make sure there was an actual barrier there. The window was a giant pane of glass, it was in fact the entire front wall of the apartment. We had a postcard view. We sat in silence for what seemed like forever until she suddenly jumped up unto my lap and demanded my attention. I was not fast enough for her it seems so she started to lick my face. I started to pet her but she was not satisfied. She jumped off my lap and was back at the window and looking down intently. I followed her gaze. She was looking into the park. I gazed into the park just as intently as she did, but all I saw was a blanket of snow covering my running track.
I got back into my comfy seat and tried to get back to my mug. That did not last. Kitty was back in my face showering me with saliva. I followed her to the window, she was trying to show me something I assumed. I still only saw snow. I backed up to my seat and as I was in the motion of setting I noticed some motion in the tree line beyond the 400 meter track. There was just enough movement, but I could not tell what was moving. It was not windy so something other than the wind was causing the movement. I would have ignored it, but the streets were empty and the track was covered in snow, no one should have been out there. So I decided to go investigate.
I have had the privilege of using many airports. I have used some of the largest and busiest and some of the smallest. My most recent experience at Orlando International Airport (MCO), Orlando Florida as confirmed my suspicions. Maybe my outlook is colored by my experience with my favorite airline, JetBlue.
I consider an airline and airport as utilities that are to be experienced and not noticed. They should not be the destination, but the means. As such, I like all of us want the system to just work. It should be like plugging in an appliance, the electricity should not be a concern. This is the type of experience I have more often than not when using MCO. The traffic around the terminals is well-managed, parking either short-term or long-term are easy to get to and clearly labeled. The shuttle to and from long-term parking is utilitarian, just gets the job done. The curbside experience, at lease with JetBlue, is organized. Best of all, even with long lines the TSA security screen is organized, efficient and staffed with polite officers. As a black man these are the only people in uniforms that do not routinely make me uncomfortable. They are calm, give clear instructions and are generally very helpful. It almost feels like I am at a Disney Park. The shuttle from security to the gates is so pleasant as to be almost invisible. Once at the gates there is an up-scale mall feeling. The comfortable seating, the clearly labelled charge up points and the free wi-fi just works. I love it all.
I love MCO because it is clean and just works. Do you love your airport?