“FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES” (I)

¶ This blog started in 2015-2016 with two years of devotionals: “Midweek Meditations: Family and Friends.”     ¶ It continued throughout 2017 with short poems: “Midweek Moments: Creator and Creation.”     ¶ Now in 2018 comes a lighthearted travelogue: “Midweek Milestones: 6½ Times Around the World.”     ¶ For three decades we lived in a faraway place. Our travels, during those years and since, have brought us to a strangely uneven global total. Each blog posted during 2018 will actually be an excerpt from a paperback soon to be published — with cartoons, plus fuller accounts of our worldwide adventures (and misadventures!).

 

“FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES” (I)

 

A major international airline used to feature this beguiling slogan: “Fly the friendly skies of ________!”

Skies did used to seem friendly. At least this was our usual experience of air travel back during the 1960s and ‘70s.

For one thing, planes weren’t so crowded several years ago. Many times you could expect to spread out into vacant seats. On a long overnight flight, three of four empty seats across meant you could really stretch out and get some sleep.

For another thing, everybody on a commercial airliner used to look – and act – fairly nice. There were no sloppy or grungy or blatantly impolite passengers. Flying used to be a rather elite way to travel; not just anybody would turn up on an airplane. You could generally expect good manners.

Meals aloft used to be wonderful. Even in economy class (the only way we’ve ever had the money to fly), we would sometimes be served with real china and silver and snowy cloth napkins. And the food! Often it seemed fancier and more expensive than anything we would have ever dared to order in a restaurant.

Those days are mostly gone forever. International flights still offer the free food that has disappeared from domestic flights. But generally speaking, the glory has departed from air travel.

Yet I must confess that some things have gotten better with the passing years. For example: When I first started flying in the late 1950s, any passenger was allowed to smoke – any seat, anytime except during takeoff or landing. Before business trips, I used to pray – literally! – that I would happen to draw a nonsmoker sitting beside me.

When separate nonsmoking sections became the rule, one Asian airline divided the whole aircraft front to back: Smokers on the left, nonsmokers on the right. Somehow it never seemed to occur to them that cigarette smoke could waft across the aisle.

We’ve had some other less-than-friendly experiences with that same Asian airline. Once we had purchased our tickets well in advance, but before we flew, the national currency had been devalued. Would they honor our reconfirmed tickets? No, indeed . . . not until we paid them about four times extra.

I don’t want to be too hard on just that one particular Asian airline. Several others — in the Third World and elsewhere — have also given us less-than-friendly experiences in flying.  Find out about some of these in  next week’s blog post.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Perry Thomas

 

 

 

OFF TO A SLOW START

 

¶ This blog started in 2015-2016 with two years of devotionals: “Midweek Meditations: Family and Friends.”     ¶ It continued throughout 2017 with short poems: “Midweek Moments: Creator and Creation.”     ¶ Now in 2018 comes a lighthearted travelogue: “Midweek Milestones: 6½ Times Around the World.”     ¶ For three decades we lived in a faraway place. Our travels, during those years and since, have brought us to a strangely uneven global total. Each blog posted during 2018 will actually be an excerpt from a paperback soon to be published — with cartoons, plus fuller accounts of our worldwide adventures (and misadventures!).

 

OFF TO A SLOW START

 

When I was young, my favorite movie was the 1956 version of Around the World in Eighty Days. At that time I had never traveled farther east than Raleigh, farther west than Fort Worth, farther north than Chicago, or farther south than Jacksonville. If somebody had told me that someday I would look back on traveling six and a half times around the world, I’d have said, “Who, me? Not likely!”

For one thing, I’m susceptible to motion sickness. Childhood trips by road and rail brought agonies of humiliation. Yet an unexpected job offer gave me many opportunities to hit the road. I discovered that air travel, when it’s smooth, can be easier than land or sea travel for people with my kind of problem.

Four times our family flew from Southeast Asia to Europe. Four times we enjoyed a European family holiday before traveling on to North Carolina. Then after each home assignment, we returned to Indonesia via the Pacific. This is how we got in four complete trips around the world.

The fifth time, though, we went the other way. During a period when our Indonesian residence permits were in limbo, I accepted short-term assignments in several other countries. So my itinerary looked like this: from North Carolina to Europe to West Africa to East Africa to India to Thailand to the Philippines to Indonesia. Then when Fran and I flew eastward across the Pacific for home leave again, that made five times around the world.

By late 1994 we were nearing the end of our time in Southeast Asia, just as our younger son and his wife were beginning their time in North Africa. So we flew westward from Indonesia to Spain, where they met us and then accompanied us across the Straits of Gibraltar.

When we reached North Carolina again at New Year’s of 1995, that completed the first leg of our sixth round-the-world jaunt. The other leg of it didn’t come till the year 2000, when we made a long-awaited nostalgia trip, flying to New Zealand, Australia, and – of course! — Indonesia.

So that made six. But . . . how about that extra lap halfway around the world?

Well, through the years we made several flights across North America and the Pacific to Indonesia. That’s roughly halfway around the world. And we made the same trip back again that same number of times. Count any one of those transcontinental and trans-Pacific trips, and it brings the total up to six and a half.

What have we learned and experienced while traveling six and a half times around the world?

That’s what the rest of this lighthearted travelogue is all about.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Perry Thomas

 

 

WHAT FAR SHORE IS OUR VOYAGE FOR?

 

¶ This blog started in 2015-2016 with two years of devotionals: “Midweek Meditations: Family and Friends.”     ¶ It continued throughout 2017 with short poems: “Midweek Moments: Creator and Creation.”     ¶ Now in 2018 comes a lighthearted travelogue: “Midweek Milestones: 6½ Times Around the World” (plus a bonus of one more short  poem).      ¶ For three decades we lived in a faraway place. Our travels, during those years and since, have brought us to a strangely uneven global total. Each blog posted during 2018 will actually be an excerpt from a paperback soon to be published — with cartoons, plus fuller accounts of our worldwide adventures (and misadventures!).

 

WHAT FAR SHORE IS OUR VOYAGE FOR?

 

§ What far shore is our voyage for?

For Hy-Brasil? For Mogador?

For Kalikut? For Serampore?

§ What dreams await in far-off lands

where Prester John extends his hands

and Merlin’s magic burns like brands?

§ The Sallee Rovers sail no more

to this or any other shore;

yet Fancy beckons at the door.

§ For Davy Jones can chart the way

to coasts where night shines bright as day

and Golden Fleece sells cheap as hay.

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by Perry Thomas

 

 

Telling Time

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
TELLING  TIME
 
 (“My times are in Thy hand” — Ps. 31:15, KJV)
 
Telling time . . . tell me, what can you tell it?
Tell it to stop? No, Time will not do it.
 
Tell it to slow down? That’s useless as well.
Time will not pause ’cause there’s something to tell.
 
Tell it to hurry up? Time won’t obey.
There’ll still be twenty-four hours a day.
 
Tell it to make your face youthful again?
Nothing can do that. Not even Time can.
 
Keep telling time just as long as you may –
days betwixt D. O. B. and D. O. A.
 
Tell what you tell to The One who now stands,
holding our times in His eternal hands.
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sleep, Sleep, My Little Jesus

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
SLEEP, SLEEP, MY  LITTLE  JESUS
 
Sleep, sleep, my little Jesus; now close your eyes and sleep.
Above your manger cradle my loving watch I keep.
 
Thus did Mary by the manger sing, tenderly sing,
to him who came to save us, to be our Lord and King.
 
All glory to the Father, and on the earth be peace.
Good will from God in heaven; his love shall never cease.
 
Thus did all the hosts of heaven sing, joyfully sing;
the angels’ cheerful voices made hill and valley ring.
 
We bring our lives to Jesus; we give him thanks and praise.
We bring our love to Jesus, to serve him all our days.
 
Thus beside the manger let us sing, gratefully sing,
to him who came to save us, to be our Lord and King. 
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Christmas in Sixteen Syllables

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
CHRISTMAS  IN  SIXTEEN  SYLLABLES
 
§  A Child is born.
§  An angel sings.
§  Behold this morn
the King of Kings! 
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas

Mistletoe, Where Do You Go?

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
   MISTLETOE,  WHERE  DO  YOU  GO?
 

Mistletoe, O Mistletoe,
all summer long, where do you go?
We look far and we look wide:
Still you always seem to hide.
Winter gives a clearer view:
Leaves are gone; now we see YOU.

 
Mistletoe, you hug the sky.
Your clumps are scattered way up high.
Out on many a sturdy branch,
there you boldly build your ranch.
Drop a sprig or two down here:
We’ll hang them high for Christmas cheer! 
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas
 
 
 
 

When I See a Rainbow Arching

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
WHEN  I  SEE  A  RAINBOW  ARCHING
 

When I see a rainbow arching
east and west across the sky,
how it sets my mind a-marching,
marching through the years gone by.

Noah saw that self-same rainbow;
so did Abraham and Lot,
Mark and Paul, Shakespeare and Marlowe,
Lee and Lincoln, like as not.

Through the years the rainbow lingers,
faithful sentinel above,
signpost set by God’s own fingers:
“Seasons wane . . . , but not My love.”

Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Trees and Family Trees

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 

TREES  AND  FAMILY  TREES

Daddy knew the names of trees:
“These are ash trees; that’s an oak.”
Did I listen when he spoke?
Did I learn such things as these?

No. I let his words pass by,
missed my chance to learn his lore.
Now my Daddy is no more:
One day came his time to die. 

When I grew up tall and slim,
naming trees brought quiet joy.
How I wished, while still a boy
I had learned those names from him!
 
Daddy knew our family:
“Second cousins once removed.”
Each relationship he proved,
traced them on the family tree.
 
Sometimes I would tease my Dad:
“Why recall such ancient days?
Now we’re in a modern phase.”
“Someday,” said he, “you’ll be sad.
 
“Someday you will wish you knew
who was kin to whom, and how.”
When I ponder kinfolks now,
every word he said rings true!
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas
 
 
 
 
 

I’ll Praise My God

(Some of these short poems see Creation as if through a child’s eyes. Some of them suggest a more mature view of the Creator. A few of them even reflect the long perspective of age. Most are not intended to be Scriptural, sometimes not even spiritual. Yet they may give your spirits a lift: By the middle of the week, who doesn’t need a chuckle or a changed outlook?)
 
I’LL  PRAISE  MY  GOD
 
§  I’ll praise my God, who gave me eyes;
I’ll praise Him by remembering
that all I see – the earth, the skies,
the sea, the sun, the stars that rise —
are His, for God made everything.
§  I’ll praise my God, who gave me ears;
I’ll praise Him as I listen well
to every sound that says He’s near,
to every voice of love I hear,
to chanting bird, to chiming bell.
§  I’ll praise my God, who gave me hands;
I’ll praise Him as I try my best
to do whatever He commands –
in quiet home, in distant lands –
to share the love with which I’m blest. 
 
Copyright © 2016 by Perry Thomas
 

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