I'm not a fan of flying. It is just such a necessity if you want to make your home in different places.
So many things can go wrong with your journey before it even starts. You just don't know what you don't know.
That's why we (Andrea) has a process. And, of course, process mitigates catastrophe. Though we can't do much about what happens in the air, we can do our best to be prepared on the ground.
Last week, it was time to take the suitcase down from the loft, dust it off, and fill it with all the goodies we wanted to take back to the United States.
We've started to get plenty good at packing. I'd say we almost have it down to a science. At least I think Andrea does.
Andrea is Ms. Checklist.
You could start the space shuttle with one of her checklists. It's a marvel to see. Everything is itemized. All tasks are prioritized, and a clear plan is put into place.
Mr. Phelps, your mission should you decide to accept is to make a clean getaway from Olde Cottage, St. Evenage, and arrive safely on the doorstep in Springboro, Ohio.
Operation Saddle Up
Objective: Smooth departure.
Everything starts about a week and a half early. T-10 Days. Little things like chocolate, tea, biscuits, and other delicacies like marmite, jelly babies, Cadbury's, and Hobnobs begin to pile up in the corner.
Next, we start what we call, "The Eating of The Fridge."
No more unnecessary food purchases are to be made. Nothing can be bought that cannot be consumed in the remaining time allotted for our stay.
There comes the point when absolutely no more food is allowed to go into the fridge.
The eating of the fridge includes an examination of expiration dates. We need to eat this by such and such a time. We need to make sure we have enough fruit for breakfast. Don't buy too much fruit. How much milk do we have? Exact measures now - We don't want any guesstimating going on.
When you see clothes start to appear on the couch downstairs, you know things are getting down to the wire.
Andrea looks me straight in the eye, "Okay, Scott, you have a week left. Don't tell me you have something more to take at the last minute."
"Aye, Aye Captain!"
As things get added, the piles start to get bigger.
Trial packing is completed, calculations made, estimates estimated, proportions were portioned.
Slide-rulers calibrated, weighing devices uncovered, and calculators are engaged.
All is ready.
Sometimes we are a bit off. It's usually my fault.
We were planning to take only ONE suitcase to Cornwall.
When I say ONE suitcase, I mean one bag plus, two carry on suitcases, a rucksack (Backpack), one large purse, and a briefcase. But, only ONE large bag.
Our packing was going as was expected.
The trial pack went well.
Then, Scott said, "Hey, I'd like to take my oil painting set."
Andrea, "I thought I said no last-minute surprises?!?"
Scott, "Well, it looked like there was enough room in the suitcase."
Andrea, "I haven't included my toiletries yet."
I bowed my head, put my shoes on, and said, "Shall I get the other suitcase out of the garage then?"
Andrea, "Yes, you'd better."
We ended up taking two large suitcases. Thank you, Scott.
When we travel back to the States, it's not like going on holiday, we know we already have clothes and toiletries in Dayton. Packing is really minimal, however, meticulous account of contents is a must.
Andrea starts packing. Each suitcase has a packing list, a catalog of items and a photo reference of all things included. The reference sheet is included with carry-on packing materials, a copy to the file, and a copy hermetically sealed in an empty mayonnaise jar at the patio door.
If anything is lost, we're covered. Check and double-check.
Then comes the weighing of the suitcase. Fifty-one pounds is the limit.
I've got really good at this. I can usually estimate within a pound or two how heavy the suitcase is. My forearm is a calibrated machine. I'm usually right.
If it's too heavy triage needs to take place, or Scott goes to get another suitcase.
For the most part, everything goes smoothly. No big surprises.
Then there is leaving the house on the day.
The water is turned off, the suitcases staged, and Peter and Marilyn pull up in the drive. Peter is the loadmaster and Andrea directs traffic. Then - final checklist, please.
There is the obligatory last-minute checklist.
If you wonder why we have that checklist, well it's because one or the other of us has forgotten one of those essentials. Then there is complete panic.
One day I should tell the story of how an iPhone was left on the kitchen counter on departure.
Or how I've left my sunglasses at just about every place I've ever visited.
This time it was smooth sailing. Mitigation procedures - successful.
I'm back in Dayton. We're corporally intact with relative mentally stable.
Now, we need to plan for Phoenix.
Until next week, I wish you peace, health, and happiness.