Common sense traveling tips

Compact handy luggage scale

So you are traveling…..  Do you know the weight of your luggage? You should. I will share some tips that will help you avoid unpleasant surprises and save you some embarrassment at the airport’s check-in counter. There are many airline luggage restrictions that you need to know whenever you are traveling. If you know the exact weight of packed luggage, you will never have to pay unexpected money for overweight luggage. A luggage scale may therefore become an essential travel accessory.

Think before you pack. Secure a scale so that after you pack you may check the weight of your luggage.  I found the scale in the above picture at one of my hometown pharmacies. You could invest in a handy luggage scale which may also be purchased on line. Always remember that the customer service agent will charge you extra for an overweight bag. Airlines are governed by international rules and guidelines. An overweight bag is an additional item of cost.

Each time I arrive at an airport and stand in line to get my luggage checked and to secure my boarding card, I observe many persons carrying multiple overweight bags. Remember, each checked-in bag can weigh up to 23kg (50lb) before you incur additional fees for overweight. Ignorance is not an excuse.

You may avoid embarrassment if you pre-check the weight of your luggage ahead of arriving at the airport. If you guessed the weight of your luggage, you may be surprised that it weighs more and therefore you may be required to add another checked bag and/or re-pack.  

Here are a few suggestions that will save you some embarrassment and may serve to improve your experience while checking in at the airport.

  • Know your baggage allowance. It is written on your e-ticket.
  • Check the weight of your luggage at home.
  • Re-pack, if you must.
  • Add another checked bag before arrival at the airport.
  • Prepare to pay extra charges at the airport for luggage exceeding the mandatory allowance.

Achieving retirement goals….

In her attic bedroom, Winsome, wrapped in an old patchwork quilt, sat at the end of her bed and watched the trees tossing in the frenzied lashing of the wind. Behind the trees, clouds scudded frantically across the sky. Every few moments the moon ripped through them, creating wraith-like shadows that raced along the ground. It was only yesterday that she enjoyed the sunset from the same place in her bedroom. She was reminded of the days when she sat on a wooden bench with her husband at the beach and enjoyed the sunset. The weather changed and that change did not bother Winsome. She was busily fulfilling one of her retirement goals. Winsome was fulfilling the goal of making a beautiful sweater for her grand daughter. She loved knitting and her bedroom was her most creative space.

Winsome retired two years ago. She prepared for retirement and she knew then that she would never again work in a corporate entity. She desired to engage in activities that would yield her lasting pleasure. She wanted to make items that people would enjoy for a long time.

Tonight, she is continuing to knit the pink sweater in anticipation of surprising her seven-year-old grand daughter who she had not seen last winter. Winsome’s grand daughter hopes to visit in March. It is now the middle of January therefore Winsome has little time to complete the sweater and package it nicely.

Winsome lives alone and likes to knit during the night. The nights are quiet and the sounds, though sometimes eerie, do not frighten her. She grew up in a large family and everyone would tell stories about the dark nights in rural Jamaica, but Winsome knew the family meant well and the stories were meant to drive fear into the teenagers who liked to frolic with friends after dark.

Winsome especially likes to knit during the nights, because her days are busy. She has the most beautiful flower garden in the neighborhood. She likes tending the plants during the mornings and she is almost certain to have two or three uninvited visitors who stop, commend her, ask her questions and engage her in some village gossip.

Tonight, Winsome hums a tune and sets a goal of completing the right sleeve of the sweater before midnight. The sweater is taking form and to see that finished sleeve before midnight would be a great achievement. Suddenly, the quietness is disturbed by the screeching sound of a car and a banging sound as if someone crashed a vehicle in the dumpster at the end of the road. Without switching on any light, Winsome peeps through a space in the curtain in her bedroom. Lights are on in all the houses that are in close proximity to the accident site. People are pouring out of their houses on to the street. Sirens are blazing, and the road is now crowded with people.

Although Winsome is curious she decides to wait until the following morning to hear the news about the accident. Winsome watches the street for a while and then she retires to bed, disappointed that she did not complete the right sleeve of her grand daughter’s sweater. Tomorrow night, she hopes to start knitting a little earlier. Would she achieve this retirement goal? Only time will tell…….

Talk soon…..

When the great unforeseen occurs……….

person wearing black nike low tops sneakers playing soccer
Photo by Markus Spiske on

No one should start playing soccer after retirement. I was not convinced. So, that is what I was doing when I fell and fractured my right wrist. My life changed, and I lost interest in some activities I previously enjoyed. However, I promised myself that I would begin to write again before the end of 2018.

During the months following the accident, I fell in love with my left arm. I realized that I took my right arm for granted. I valued the Jamaican saying, “Cow never knows the use of its tail, till she loses it.”

I learnt to do the following “difficult” tasks with my left hand: taking a bath; combing my hair; writing my name; sweeping the floor; and making my bed.

For six weeks while my arm was securely positioned in a cast, there was so much swelling, so much pain, and I was impatient because I was not managing my expectations.

Finally, the day came for the cast to be removed. And…what a horrible looking wrist!! My son and I cried because my wrist was as stiff as a flat piece of board that was pressed out of shape. My fingers were swollen and lifeless. I hurried to the physiotherapist who chided me. “Why didn’t you come to see me while the cast was on?”

“No one advised me”, I replied.

I knew that I was in trouble and all the research I did convinced me that full healing could take a long time… long as a year.

Here are a few lessons from my experience. When the great unforeseen occurs:

  • Be patient with yourself;
  • Be humble, the great unforeseen does not discriminate;
  • Be creative and find other ways to do things.
  • Use the available technology;
  • Show more love to the people you now come to depend on;
  • Do not be shy to ask for help; and
  • Focus on the happy ending, nothing remains the same forever.

Talk soon……Claire


My child hates reading

hide and seek

“My child hates reading, and she hides whenever it is time for us to read”. 

I hear you, but, do YOU like to read? Do you have books at home for your child to read? Does you child observe you reading books?  Do you encourage reading books at home?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of those questions, you have some work to do. In this blog post, I will help you.

If you have two minutes, I encourage you to go back to one of my earlier blog posts entitled, ‘Making Home More Learner-Friendly’, and there you will learn some no/low cost ways of setting up a reading corner at home.

You will notice that in framing the three questions I asked earlier, I emphasized ‘reading books’.

I am sure that you read books on your I-pads, kindles and computers. However, for a start, please introduce your young child to paper books. Then, allow him/her to transition to E-books.

Below are a few suggestions that are easily implementable.

  1. Enroll your child at the nearest public library.
  2. In Washington D.C. and Maryland, public libraries are fun places for young children. There are friendly staff and attractive reading spaces/corners. Parents and Nannies find these spaces inviting and have remarked that the children love these spaces. In Jamaica, the staff at public libraries arrange reading competitions and other fun-filled activities for young readers.
  3. Give children books as presents.
  4. Set up a reading corner at home, if you do not already have one.
  5. Be authentic; set a good example; and read with your children every day. Read! Read! Read!
  6. Encourage your children to read, by praising them and rewarding them whenever they deserve to be praised.

Talk soon……. Claire Spence


Some of you may be too young to remember that slogan, “Two are better than two many”, which was used in several family planning advertisements nearly forty years ago. So….I am sharing the photograph below, with that phrase in mind. I believe these birds are satisfied that two are better than too many….and indeed three may be a crowd.

two is better

I took an unscheduled break from writing for a few weeks and I cannot explain why….I did not squeeze an article on to my blog site. So while I work to catch up, let me invite you to view some photos from the space I share with some birds, cats, lizards and butterflies.

               Orchid Glory   orchids glory

           Pretty in red    pretty in red

Resting……..          resting

Weed in bloom  weed blooms

Lovely in pinklovely in pink

Talk soon…………….

Claire Spence