Luggage Matters

Shannon Kernaghan Luggage-Matters-400-e1550426795349 Luggage Matters Adventure Belongings Challenge Family Fun Humor Lifestyle Love Memoir Relationship Risk Travel

While touring Italy with my sister and a busload of keen tourists one spring, I noticed how small problems have the potential to hamper a trip. Take colds and flus. The moment I heard the first sneeze or hack of an ailing traveler, I became germ phobic, refusing to stand or sit near anyone who looked the slightest bit peaked.

I bathed myself with anti-bacterial hand cleaner at every opportunity.  Who had time to get sick and miss a moment of fabulous countryside,  famous art or delicious Italian cuisine?

As for other small problems, factor in a lost piece of luggage.

I thanked my non-superstitious stars when I saw my suitcase spit from the carousel within minutes of arriving in Rome.

To me, this was a veritable feat of engineering, considering I started my journey in Calgary, changed planes in Toronto, boarded another in Frankfurt and finally arrived at my Italian destination.

Despite the jitneys I rode and the terminals I changed in various airports, there it was – my beautiful suitcase – bumping its way along the conveyor belt. I breathed a sigh of relief. Who am I kidding, it was a gusty “Yoo hoo!” and a fist raised in victory.

On these package tours, guests are allowed to bring only one suitcase. In other words, my underwear, toiletries and comfy pillow were all riding on my bag’s prompt arrival. And since we stayed at six different hotels, it’d be no easy task for missing luggage to catch up to an owner.

I’m quick to steal titles from movies today, so call it The Incredible Journey because my loyal suitcase went the distance and met me on schedule, both of us unscathed.

No-show luggage tormented one passenger on the tour. Her partner’s luggage appeared, but her own suitcase stayed in the US, revolving aimlessly in a mystery carousel for several days. Speaking of mysteries,  it’s strange how her stylish green plaid case – one that matched her partner’s – could be left behind. Maybe the baggage handler didn’t like the color; maybe the bag was too stylish for its own good.

The other question is how it took me 20 hours to journey to Italy, but that green suitcase needed a whopping four days. Poor little luggage – it missed everything from Siena to Florence. It deserves a do-over.

If your luggage defines you, then I’m an inexpensive black number with Hello Kitty pink duct tape holding the works together.

There’s a reason I travel like a pauper with my Club Monde (perhaps a take-off on Club Monaco, to make it sound exotic). I read a warning that the more expensive your case, the greater the chance of having it stolen or pilfered. In other words, your Louis Vuitton bag undoubtedly contains a better haul than my nondescript scuffed and taped clunker.

Who’d waste their time ransacking my cheap case? If any thieves covet a $12 alarm clock or a travel pillow, then I’m their bag. But if they’re looking for pricey electronics or designer fashions, they’d be wise to  move along to the next suitcase, something with a better label.

If I learned anything from my Italian excursion, it’s that European travel separates the women from the girls. After all, multiple plane  changes  and an equal number of time zones is no picnic. Plus, schedules are guaranteed to include a mad dash for your plane in one airport  followed by a six-hour stopover in the next.

That said, the travel rewards are huge and the money well spent. Just leave your expensive luggage at home, where it’ll make a fashionable door stop.

Audio story music “Waterfall”
by
Aakask Ganghi

I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey

Shannon Kernaghan I-Need-Dental-Work I Need a Dentist, Not a Survey Adventure Career Challenge Fashion Fun Humor Lifestyle Memoir Memories Parties Read Along Travel

I never forward chain letters or dire warnings that turn out to be hoaxes.  

But when a friend from Ottawa sent me a “Four things about me” email, my interest was piqued. She likes to watch TV crime shows, for example. And I’d forgotten that she’d traveled to Africa.

Not only did I enjoy reading her responses, I started filling in a few of my own.

I don’t suggest you take too much time from your day for questionnaires, especially if you’re the dentist scheduled to fill my tooth this afternoon. Please, I want you to concentrate on my molar, not your catamaran trip to the Galapagos Islands. 

Here goes . . . Four jobs I’ve had:

1. lingerie model
2. product demonstrator
3. realtor
4. bartender

Lingerie modeling was exciting and filled with crazy chaos; it also required too much attention to detail. Every part of me had to be polished and my appearance was always under scrutiny. How tiresome. And I would never be tall enough or attractive enough to make the pages of Vogue, although I had a fun run.

Fortunately I never fell off any dimly lit stages although my catwalk days are long over – I’m currently balancing a bag of frozen peas on my shin after walking into my own coffee table!

My product demonstrator career lasted one week. It’s difficult to sell an expensive manicure kit and it’s disheartening to hear “No thanks” all day. Total sales? Only one. I bought it out of guilt, considering I quit before the promotion ended. Lessons learned? Again, only one. Stay in school.

Working as a licensed real estate agent gave me confidence. Move over, manicure kit, a house was a big ticket item to sell. When purchasers invited me for dinner in their newly constructed homes and everybody was smiling, I loved my career.

But when their homes weren’t ready on time and those once-smiling customers had no place to live for a month, I felt less delighted. My ringing phone began to give me anxiety.

As for bartending, I enjoyed the high energy parties and celebrations but grew tired of dealing with of inebriated people. Drunks can get cranky and unreasonable. Wish I could still remember how to make a flaming Pousse Café.

See? There’s plenty you can discover about people. 

How about  . . . Four places I’ve been:

1. Cap Haitien, Haiti
2. Miami – both Florida and Manitoba
3. Minsk, Belarus
4. Cal-Nev-Ari, which borders California, Nevada and Arizona.

In Haiti, our tour guide had an artificial foot that spun in circles when he walked. Sometimes the foot locked in a backwards position and he’d realign it by a swift kick with his other foot.

In Cal-Nev-Ari, every second resident owned a small place. Their garages were plane hangars and their neighborhood streets were designed as runways. Paul and I explored the area for a month, which included a casino Christmas party with fascinating and off-the-grid locals.

There are more categories to this survey but I have to see a dentist about a tooth. Maybe I should add teeth to the survey under: Four things that need better care!

Confessions of a List-oholic

Shannon Kernaghan Confessions-of-list-400 Confessions of a List-oholic Adventure Challenge Humor Lifestyle Relationship Travel

I envy my husband. He lives a list-free existence. Paul never makes a to-do list and has no plans to start. Me? He calls me a “list junky.”

For appointments and meetings, that info goes straight to my phone calendar, which is the logical use of current technology. But if you open my purse, you’ll find three old-school lists on three scraps of paper held together with a paper clip. The first is titled TODAY, the second TOMORROW and the third MISC. for those tasks in need of future attention, somewhere between this week and the next century.

Lists are like maps, guideposts to chart my daily course. When we leave the house for errands, I know exactly what’s required to make my life manageable. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, so lists are no replacement for setting goals. (Note to self: add “Set Goals” to MISC. list.)

If I have a dozen tasks on my current list, I take pleasure in crossing off each one as it’s completed. It doesn’t matter if I finish everything, as long as I know what I could be doing if I end up in a mall or various parts of the city.

At the start of each day, I re-write a new TODAY list, bumping unfinished chores onto it and jotting down fresh tasks.

Here’s one benefit to this routine: nothing is forgotten when we travel. “Wow, you remembered my lucky hat!” Paul will say. I’ll smile and shrug, knowing that I owe my organized life to a 99-cent pen and a few pieces of recycled paper.

I’m also a list mentor. I convinced my husband’s friend that life becomes more productive and less stressful with a list. He followed my advice and awoke the next morning to a reminder on his cell’s calendar: PHONE BILL. Then he spent the next hour trying to recall which Bill he was supposed to phone – he works with three!) and why was he supposed to call this Bill? It wasn’t until late afternoon that he remembered: PAY THE PHONE BILL! At least he tried. Hey, good list making takes practice.

Maybe some people should continue to limp along through their list-free worlds, accepting missed appointments and undelivered dry-cleaning. Apparently they’re happy, even if they forget to mail that Welcome New Baby card before the child begins college.

The reason my husband doesn’t need to make lists? “I’m no fool,” he says, “I have YOU to make them for me.” (Note to self: be more spontaneous!)

*Note* Backing track on audio is “Space Coast” by Topher Mohr/Alex Elena 

Turkey Buzzard Trumps Light Sleeper

Shannon Kernaghan Turkey-Buzzard-4 Turkey Buzzard Trumps Light Sleeper Adventure Bikini Drinking Family Recreation Travel Tropical

I’m a big liar. Not true, I’m a liar of medium build. As recently as yesterday I told my neighbor a mistruth: ”Me? I’m a light sleeper. One creak and I’m wide awake.”

Turns out I’m not such a light sleeper. Instead, I’m a typical one with a husband who can snooze while garbage and recycling trucks rumble next to our open window. His ability to slumber through jack hammering and thunderstorms means I have no one to gauge my sleep patterns.

That changed when I took a trip to Cuba with my sister and we shared a hotel room. Days into our vacation, she awakened at dawn to grunts and flapping wings. From her bed she watched a turkey buzzard hop through our open balcony door. It was probably attracted to the bowl of over-ripe fruit we’d forgotten on our balcony table.

She rushed towards the window and chased it away, yelling “Shoo! Shoo!” which in any language means, “Leave, large buzzard, before you encounter my wrath!” The bird must have understood because it vamoosed.

She couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard either the noisy bird or her – I slept through the adventure.

That’s one.

The next afternoon I needed a quick booster nap before dinner. Two hours later I awoke to Linda – dressed and ready for the evening – standing next to my bed and repeating my name. She said her next plan was to check for a pulse.

Okay, that siesta I can blame on plenty of snorkeling and a strong rum-based drink during the afternoon.

That’s two.

For a third bit of non-clinical proof, Linda awoke another night to hear someone yelling “Raul, Raul,” half a dozen times and then whistling through his fingers. The man might have been standing under our balcony, based on his volume. I must take my sister’s word for this tale because I didn’t hear a thing.

“Come on!” she said. ”How could you sleep through all that noise?”

Now she’s worried about me. “What if your home smoke alarm goes off, will you even hear it?”

Apparently my dozing is not so delicate. Maybe I awaken in the night for different reasons, like weird dreams triggered by eating shrimp and spicy cocktail sauce before going to bed. Maybe my own snuffling or bladder disturbs me. Perhaps it’s my inside world I should be blaming, not the outside.

As of today, I promise to stop the denial. “My name is Shannon and I have a reality problem. I’m not the light sleeper I’ve been telling everyone,” will be the beginning of my 12-step program.

After all, traveling sisters and turkey buzzards never lie.

WHAT DISTURBS YOUR SLEEP?

*Note* Music backing track in audio version Et Voila by Chris Haugen

My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Adventure Challenge Family Relationship Risk Travel

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS .

Backing music track in the audio story is
“Urchins” by The Rondo Brothers
from YouTube Music Library

Copy That, Crispy Chicken Lady

Shannon Kernaghan blog-truck-driver-sep23-e1506294202863 Copy That, Crispy Chicken Lady Dating Drinking Food Humor Lifestyle Parties Sex Sex and Food Travel

Once upon a dance floor I partied late into the night, and I garnered the occasional nickname. Sometimes I was called Peaches, and for a brief period I was Sweet Thing or Honey Bunny. One guy called me Foxy Lady, which may or may not have been a compliment. Did he mean I was sly?

Except for those pet names given to me by males in search of a fruit salad, I didn’t have many lifelong labels. Why? Because the name Shannon doesn’t rhyme with anything besides Cannon, or sound interesting when shortened.

“Hey Shan, over here,” my friend would shout above the crowd. But I didn’t enjoy the abbreviation. Made me sound like a cleaning agent. “Try Shan for your pans to get the grease out!”

My husband Paul had a few of his own while growing up. When he introduced me to a group of old camping buddies, they immediately called him Pig Pen. I never asked why; I didn’t want to hear any dirty details.

I always figured I’d share my life with a dude called Brain (smart) or Duke (rich) or Moose (athletic), not Pig Pen. At least Paul had cleaned up by the time we met.

Now my nicknames have nothing to do with fruit or sweetness levels, proven when I walked into one of my favorite restaurants and took a seat. I wore sunglasses and a ball cap pulled low on my face, but that wasn’t enough camouflage.

“Hey, it’s the Crispy Chicken Lady!” called out the serving person. Crispy Chicken Lady – my new nickname. Great. I’m not sweet and fruity anymore, and gone is any sexual spin. I’m a daily special comprised of poultry and hot oil.

While I’m not one to give people a nickname, Paul refers to everyone he works with by a tag – from Boom Box (loud), Coconut (bald), Bullet-Proof (flies under the radar and avoids trouble), Titanium (beats me) to Top Shelf (self-named; the best brands of booze at the top of a bartender’s shelf).

What am I saying? I do have a nickname. My husband started calling me 2-J, my CB radio handle for when I have my “ears on.” The meaning? Won’t say, but at least it’s spicier than CCL (Crispy Chicken Lady).

“Pig Pen,” I called out last weekend, “come and move your pile of clothes and magazines. I can’t see the floor!”

A-ha! Pig Pen, the light just went on. Smarty Pants finally gets it.

Wait a second . . . poultry? . . . hot oil? . . . maybe I AM still hot, if I reach a little.

Where’s my cell? With all this talk of food, I need to order something. CCL over and out.

Audio story backing track
“Sioux Falls”
by Silent Partner

Catch the Wave!

Shannon Kernaghan Surf-bug400 Catch the Wave! Adventure Humor Lifestyle Travel

I like ladybugs as much as the next person. Finding one inside your home is said to be a sign of good luck. But I like a few of them, not a virtual infestation. Last fall, several dozen enjoyed free room and board in one of my bedrooms, all of them snoozing in the corners of my ceiling.

I’m not being fair about the free board part since my ladybugs didn’t eat a thing. That’s not to imply there’s nothing snack-worthy because I can fed a small nation with what falls off the kitchen counters.

With help from the Internet, I discovered these cute little Volkswagen-shaped insects are fascinating critters. The North Carolina College of Agriculture states that ladybugs, or Multicolored Asian Ladybeetles, were imported into the United States from Asia in the late 1970s. Since they feed on over 50 species of aphids, they’re a good bug to have around. I only WISH they ate human food. My kitchen floor would be much cleaner.

Ladybeetles – a rather emasculating title for the males – congregate twice a year, in spring and in fall when they gather to find shelter from the cold. In their native Asia, they’re drawn to light-colored limestone, which is why they choose my sunny west-facing room.

I’m no gardener, but I do appreciate the benefits of ladybugs in a vegetable and flower bed. Want to store your ladybugs for the winter and release them into your gardens and window boxes next spring? The N.C. College recommends that you make a bag out of cheesecloth, about the size of a half-gallon milk jug. Toss in some dried grass or wood chips.

After collecting the ladybugs with the edge of a funnel, gently drop them into the cheesecloth bag. Refrigerate, but don’t freeze or you’ll end up with Bugscicles. From now until spring, take them out of the fridge once or twice a month and let them warm up for a few hours. They’re hardy enough to withstand temperature fluctuations in nature although shouldn’t be left out too long as they’ll burn off their fat reserves and die.

When warmed and starting to crawl, mist them with a bit of water. To prevent chilling, make sure they’re dry before returning them to the fridge. I suggest using a monogrammed guest towel for best results.

When spring arrives, let them warm up again. Place the bag of bugs in your recliner and download a move, something like A Bug’s Life or Antz, before releasing them into your garden where they’ll make quick work of aphids and other pests.

For this year’s visit, I’ll launch an Airbnb for them, specifically an Airbug. Guests this quiet and low-maintenance, I want back year after year.

By the way, if you actually follow my recipe for preserving your bugs, I figure you’ve got too much free time. How about coming over and cleaning my kitchen floor!

Audio story backing track is
“Rise and Shine”
by Audibinger https://www.audiobinger.net/

Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler

Shannon Kernaghan blog-travelling-suitcase2-e1544382727614 Super Bug? Meet Super Traveler Adventure Bikini Challenge Humor Travel Tropical

When I started traveling in my teens, half of my luggage contained beauty products – bulky hot rollers, make-up by the bucket and a spectrum of nail polishes. My suitcase needed layers of duct tape to keep the works from springing open on the carousel. “Spontaneous travel” was not a phrase in my vocabulary.

After those teen years, my total luggage weight decreased. Eventually I could skip onto planes with nothing more than a carry-on bag and a light heart. Considering my destinations were generally warm, the basic wardrobe of shorts, T-shirts and bikinis required minimal packing. After all, most toiletries and more clothing can be purchased on arrival.

Something remarkable occurred at an untraceable juncture. I transformed into a Travel Superhero! Maybe I’d skimmed too many online horror stories about unprepared travelers. Suddenly I was never far from my bulging purse and prepared for any contingency, including airport delays and minor medical ailments.

Where I once journeyed with a toothbrush, now I carry a Ziploc bag of cough drops, antacids and pre-moistened wipes, to name a few. These emergency supplies give me a heightened sense of security.

I’m not done. I also drag along a six-pack of sunblock with SPFs in the triple digits. And don’t forget the mini sewing kit. You never know. Buttons could pop and hems could fall with abandon. I’ll be there, no longer with my spectrum of alluring nail polishes from my youth, but with my rainbow of threads. Move over Spiderman, Super Traveler is on this journey!

I’ve swapped my hot rollers for bandages and alcohol swabs. Instead of a big make-up mirror taking space in my carry-on, I bring spare socks and undies in case my luggage goes missing. There’s always room for a few granola bars and juice boxes. Someone in my orbit might suffer from low blood sugar. I’ve become the Superwoman of All Possibilities.

In the airport, if my husband Paul mentions he’s leaving to find a washroom, I whisper, “Want anything from my special baggy?” I tilt my head down and raise my eyebrows, willing him in.

“What?” and he looks at me as if I’m trying to sell him contraband.
“You know, a toilet seat protector? Wet wipes?” I stop listing my wares as soon as he rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “I’m here if you change your mind,” I call out while he walks away.

On our last trip, I had plenty of satisfaction. After our first night of celebrating, Paul needed aspirin from too many cocktails and then a bandage for his cut finger. If that wasn’t pleasure enough, he asked if I’d brought a sewing kit because he found a tear in his favorite shorts.

I couldn’t stop grinning and repeating, “See? You laugh at my stuff, but now you’re sure sounding sweet.”

It was only when he asked for the camera so he could take pictures of the ocean from our balcony that my know-it-all bliss ended.

“Camera? I thought you brought it!” I’d managed to bring the entire contents of our medicine cabinet, yet forgot to pack the camera.

“Honey? What about some nice calamine lotion?” I said. “Um, you’re turning a little red in the face.”

Audio story music track
“Chubs”

by Quincas Moreira

Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles

Shannon Kernaghan Bear-Ghylles-400-1 Married to Bear Grylls? Build Up Your Muscles Adventure Challenge Recreation Relationship RV Travel

The British adventurer from Running Wild with Bear Grylls has some nifty one-liners: “Life is an adventure – live it” and “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”

Okay. I was ready to welcome adventure, to gain something. I was about to go camping.

My inaugural day could best be described by a “hangry” interpretive dance. Since you can’t see me dance, simple words must suffice.

First I e-mailed my sister to let her know that Paul and I bought a truck tent and planned to enjoy evenings cuddled around a camp fire, communing with nature. “It’ll be an adventure,” I wrote, “discovering how much I enjoy this, or how much I need a hotel room. Can’t say until I try, but I’m game. Wish me luck.”

Her reply wasn’t heartening: “I can’t be objective because I haven’t camped for so long, and my experiences were pretty primitive. Maybe it’s the teenage drunken mosquito-filled nights of camping I remember! No sleep, someone always vomiting and someone always burned by the fire. Hangover mornings. Good times.”

Fast forward a week. I emailed my sis again: “On Saturday we took the new tent to a secluded place for a dry run. When I say secluded, I’m talking no Golden Arches and no bathroom, only the far off engines of ATVers also communing with nature.

“Other campers had been there before, based on the meat poles for hunting, fire pits and log stump chairs. But the place was too quiet, not even a bird call. M Night Shyamalan movies looped in my brain.

“The temp was 32 degrees, the sky overcast and the wind gusted non-stop. Did I mention it was snowing?

“Our new truck tent? The assembly advertised a ten-minute set up in the box of our truck. It took an hour. One of the poles was too long and didn’t fit, no matter how we struggled. I envisioned the pole snapping and flying like a javelin, and one of us losing an eye.

“On to our romantic fire. The smoke plume followed me, no matter where I sat. There was no cuddling. I was too busy playing musical stumps and blowing my nose. I’d feel Paul’s glare  every time I bailed to warm up in the truck, preferring a reclining leather chair to a hard stump.

“By noon I was starving because we didn’t bring any food. Why? Paul said we wouldn’t stay long enough to worry about meals. I foolishly believed him. And luckily I have strong thighs and decent balance. Men have it easy when nature calls in the woods.

“By the way, did you enjoy your hotel suite in New York last weekend? Wanna change places and commune with nature? . . . Still there?

“Paul grew sullen when I complained of being cold, hungry and smoke-choked. Good times.

“Tent dismantling took considerably less time – we jammed it into the carry bag. Nothing ever fits its carry bag after the first use.

“Returned home in the afternoon, thawed in a hot tub and downed a glass of something strong. So what’s new with you?”

Will I ever head out again with Paul and a tent? For sure. When the thermometer hits the mid-70s and when the cooler is packed with enough food to feed Bear Grylls. Or a Grizzly bear.

Scratch the Grizzly comment. Who needs to worry about fighting off wildlife? I’ll be happy if my thighs hold out.

Did I mention good times?


Audio story music
“Vacation Uke”
by Albis

Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas

Shannon Kernaghan Shannon-at-the-slots-400 Winning Loser? Avoid Las Vegas Belongings Challenge Lifestyle Relationship Travel

I suffer from an anatomical shortfall: I was born without the lucky bone. Like the inert patient in the game Operation, I’m stuck with a wish bone.

What’s as bad as your own failure with gambling? A partner with similar lousy luck. Our track record is upheld with every draw we enter. Prizes and dreams aside, we support lotteries and believe we’re contributing to our local and extended communities.

Then again, the temptation of winning a show home (professionally decorated and furnished), a vehicle (who’d turn down a Porsche Boxter or motorhome?) and a vacation (from Las Vegas to Australia) makes our stab at philanthropy that much easier. With more than a thousand chances to win each time Paul and I purchase a ticket, losers like us can appreciate these favorable odds.

Correction: we HAVE won in previous draws. Was it any of the above-mentioned homes, vehicles or trips? Nope.

Were we drawn for a drone or party barge, to name a few of the toys my husband and I could enjoy? Nope.

We missed out on more goodies, like the karaoke machine guaranteed to spice up a lifeless party. And with my commitment to coffee, I’d clap my hands with caffeinated glee over the high-tech espresso maker we might have won.

Instead, we won two-way radios. We already own a pair and they sit idle, along with other corroding items in a box of gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time. Four walkie-talkies for two people living in a small space is overkill.

Another prize we won is a pair of binoculars. At least we can stay connected to the BIG winners. If I wanted to, I could take my binoculars and park outside the show home. From there, I could watch the new owners have fun in their professionally decorated living room. Someone in the same lucky family probably won the karaoke machine so they might be partying right now.

I’ll be able to update Paul through one of our four two-way radios, providing he stays within close range.

“Paul! Get your car keys, we’re going out!”

Wait a minute. Can you spell r-e-s-t-r-a-i-n-i-n-g order?

After a heavy dose of sour grapes contemplation, maybe we ARE lucky. After all, if we won the weekend in Las Vegas, I know us: we’d skip into the casinos, convinced that Lady Luck is finally on our side. Then we’d lose buckets at the blackjack tables and slot machines.

On the plane ride home, we’d sit silent and sullen, calculating how we lost more in gambling than the trip was worth, and how we were so bedazzled by blinking VLTs that we forgot to buy any souvenirs.

“Did we eat in the last three days?” I’d ask.

According to the last calculation, I figure we’ll come out ahead in the next contest . . . providing we don’t win anything!

Phew. I think our luck’s finally turning around.

Audio story music track
“Savannah”
by ELPHNT