Sunday, September 11, 2016

Clouds, the friendly skies and more ...

In my last post I explained why our trip to Orange County in California and back had been a challenge; click here if you wish to read it.  What was upsetting to me was that I did not remember the name of the person at Southwest Airlines who helped us find our lost luggage.  That made all the difference for our attendance to our daughter's wedding, the next day.  When we came back to Georgia I wrote a letter to Southwest relating our experience and asking if they could locate their staff member who had found our luggage and give her our warmest thanks.  A week or so later I received an email from Southwest acknowledging my letter with a reference number and a telephone number.  A couple of weeks later I did call the number, curious to see if they had found the luggage person.  I am not sure whether they had found her or not, but the SW employee told me she was sending me two vouchers for $250 each to be redeemed on their airline before August 2017.  Then another couple of days later, I received an email, from another PR Southwest employee, giving us 50% off saver coupons good on any of their flights, and valid until the end of January 2017.  Yesterday, I received another email from an executive in Southwest PR with profuse apologies about our challenging trip and an offer for reimbursement of any extra expense we incurred on the trip.  I had not even sent a letter of complaint, just a letter to express our gratitude to one of their team members ...

After all this I guess we have to get back on a trip in the friendly skies, -:).  I am checking Southwest's route for a possible destination for a short winter trip - somewhere warm.  I would not mind going back up in an aircraft to watch the clouds from above.  Looking at my photographs I noticed that I have a very large number of cloud and sky pictures, both from above and below.  Habits that one started in childhood are often kept throughout adulthood.  When I was a wee child in Paris - I am talking 4, 5 years old, during World War II, my mother and I would look out of the living room window (pictured below) to see if any German planes were flying our way.  Then later, every morning my mother would ask me to look out of that window to check the weather.  The habit was formed to look at the sky.  We would often walk up the 15 minutes to the Sacre-Coeur of Montmartre in Paris.  The view of the sky from the hill was striking.  When my parents bought the house in St Leu la Foret, a Paris suburb, I would hike to the forest top with my dog.  If the sky was clear I could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.  Here in Georgia we are close to Kennesaw Mountain with a great sky view to Atlanta from the top of the mountain.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

As I was looking often from the window mother would ask me: "Are you seeing some cumulus? Or nimbus? Or nimbostratus?"  Then she would add "You should know, you always have your head in the clouds ..."  My favorites are the cumulus clouds.  They are fluffy, look like cotton candy or even look like a nice head of cauliflower.  I also thought they resembled little sheep in the sky.  Below are the different types of clouds (courtesy US and French Wikipedia.)


I really was surprised at the number of cloud and sky pictures I have accumulated.  My husband looks at clouds every time we go shopping, or anywhere.  As I drive, he will tell me to look up at a nice cluster of clouds.  Often I have to stop, park the car and look up - then I take a picture.  I found many pictures of lovely cloudy skies from the trips we made.  It is difficult to choose from some of the pictures I took on our coastal voyage from above the Arctic Circle to Bergen, Norway, as the Norwegian fjords were breathtaking under any sky, any weather, as shown below.

Even if one is not of a poetic inclination, it is difficult not to become lyrical while looking at these beautiful clouds and skies from Norway.  A quotation from the Prince of Roeulx, of the Royal House of Belgium, comes to mind: "Clouds are fantastical dream machines - wondrous and magical, and in touch with infinity."

For about 26 years I worked in an aircraft manufacturing plant here in Marietta, at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Air Force Plant No. 6.  It is a huge facility containing about 4.2 million-square-feet.  There, I was the Customer Liaison in the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft division for about 15 plus years.  Then I worked for about 11 years as an Analyst in the C-130J Super Hercules' Supply Chain Management for one of our customers, the Italian Air Force.  The production floor is huge, with no windows, just two grand openings at each end of the building.  When I drove the trainees or customers to the various labs, such as the Avionics lab, or Power Plant lab, the first thing I did was to look up at the sky, always.  There could be one of our C-130s flying, or a C-5 ...

"There is a certain feeling of courage and hope when you work in the field of the air.  You instinctively look up, not down.  You look ahead, not back.  You look ahead where the horizons are absolutely unlimited."  Robert E. "Bob" Gross, Lockheed's Chairman/CEO 1932-1961.

I also like to look down at clouds while flying.  I never get tired of watching clouds, as long as there is light, rather than watching a film or using a laptop or iPad.  All these ethereal clouds let you imagine that you are in the land of dreams, with no stress or constraints, with infinity ahead.

Pictures must be taken quickly when flying over a group of clouds.  They pass by in an instant or change shape, from transparent to fibrous or silky.  They can be soft looking with opalescent colors or have a somber aspect, with menacing dark shapes.  They can form a halo or be quite dense, thin or semi-transparent.

Clouds have inspired painters.  Below are two such paintings.  On top left is Cloud by John Constable, English (1776-1837) next to Study of Clouds by Simon Denis, Belgian (1755-1813.)

They have also inspired poets and novelists.  Below is an excerpt from Marcel Proust's school writings, 1885-1886.  I'll translate it below. 
« Dans tous les temps, dans tous les pays […] les nuages ont dû séduire l’imagination de l’homme par leurs formes changeantes et souvent fantastiques. Toujours l’homme a dû y deviner les êtres imaginaires ou réels qui occupaient son esprit. Chacun peut y trouver ce qui lui plaît. […] Il peut découvrir alors dans les nuées […] toutes les fantaisies brillantes de son imagination exaltée. […]Ces belles couleurs de pourpre et d'or donneront à son rêve un éclat magnifique et grandiose  […] Puis, se laissant aller presque involontairement à une rêverie qui l’absorbe, l’homme oublie peu à peu les objets qui l’entourent ; ne voyant plus rien, n’entendant plus rien près de soi, il prête à son illusion le caractère de la réalité, donne la vie aux formes qu’il a devinées et assiste à un spectacle grandiose que lui-même il a créé. »  (Les nuages).


Translation:  "At all times, in all countries [...] the clouds had to capture the imagination of man by their changing and often fantastic shapes.  Man had to always guess in them the real or imaginary beings that occupied his mind.  Everyone can find in them whatever he wishes. [...]  He can then discover in the clouds [...] all the brilliant fancies of his exalted imagination. [...] These beautiful colors of purple-red and gold will give his dream a magnificent and grandiose radiance.  Then, almost unwittingly indulging in an absorbing reverie, man gradually forgets the objects that surround him; seeing nothing, hearing nothing close by, he lends to his illusion a character of reality, gives life to forms that he fancied and attends a splendid spectacle that he himself has created."  From "The Clouds" Marcel Proust, French (1871-1922.)



I just also realized that for a heading, when I started this blog, I selected a photograph of clouds over Newfoundland, Canada - I did not think about it until just now as I looked up.  I like to take pictures of cloudy landscapes whenever I see them.  Below are 3 pictures taken in Hawaii, (starting with the palm tree) then on the left column is Long Island, NY, above a bridge over the Mississippi in Memphis, TN.  On the right column, below the sunset in Honolulu is a beach at St Pierre et Miquelon, French island near Canada, then all the rest are pics of New York City.

We flew to New York City numerous times.  I was there for a visit in October 2001 - see post here.  Then we were there again in October, 2011, to visit the 9/11 Memorial, see post here.

 As I am writing this post, it is past midnight now, and it is September 11, 2016.  We remember that day with sorrow but also remember that we all came together in this nation, and many other countries joined us, people of all religions or no religion, to stand together to mourn the victims and to stand against hate.  It has been fifteen years since this horrible tragedy, but we will never forget, we still grieve.


o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Addendum -  We live close to Kennesaw National Battlefield Park.  This afternoon as we were driving around the north side of the mountain, near the visitors' center, we saw a multitude of flags.  

It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze.  We stopped and sat under the shade of an ancient tree and watched the flags waving in the wind.  They are there to remember and honor those who lost their lives on that fateful day.



27 comments:

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

I have tried to put the negative of this day into my past and I try to focus on more happy times. One niece has her BD on this day. And I have travelled by plane on this day since 2001 and made new memories. Today I am in UK visiting my new grandchild. Hubby and Buddy are with me. At 11 weeks she is a delight to be around.
I am curious to learn more about your youth in Paris. Living there during WWll has me wondering.
I was born after the war , a refugee in north west Germany where the Brits hired my Dad as interprter. We emigrated to Canada in the '50's.
And here I fell in love wirh French. I became a teacher with FSL qualifications. I have stood on the area in Paris where one can see the city below in 2012.

NotesFromAbroad said...

I can totally relate to the cloud photos .. While I have always appreciated the skies and clouds , when we moved to Argentina, I started to really love the clouds and the colors.. the changing skies .. it was all very inspiring when one carries a camera around all the time :)
I now have files and files of sky photos !
I lived too close to the events of 2001 and it always surprises me when the anniversary comes around, how instinctively sad I become. As if we knew all those people who were lost .. we feel that sadness for them .. every year on this day.

DJan said...

Thank you for this lovely post about clouds. I have fallen through clouds while skydiving, giving me a unique vantage point from which to view them. It is one of my favorite pastimes to study the clouds. And I feel much better about Southwest since they are indeed trying to make amends for your awful trip. Blessings, VB. :-)

Nathalie said...

Gorgeous pictures of the clouds, Vagabonde! I forwarded your post to my daughter who is obsessed with clouds as you are. Many times on our drives (before she started driving on her own), she would exclaim about the clouds and take pictures. When she was at her dad's (my ex and I shared custody 50/50), we would call each other to comment on the clouds we were seeing or give each other warnings about a particular gorgeous sunset. She will enjoy your post very much. She and I were in Montmartre a year ago in July and stood outside the Sacré Coeur admiring the views.

I'm very pleased that Southwest Airlines did right by you after the terrible ordeal that you and your husband endured. They probably appreciated that, in the midst of a sea of complaints, your message was a commendation. I hope you get to have a lovely trip this winter.

And yes, we shall never forget.

Passez une très bonne journée!

Frances said...

Dear Vagabonde, how wonderful that your contacting Southwest to express gratitude to the person who was helpful to your husband and yourself has now resulted in providing future travel opportunities. This makes me so happy!

I also love looking up at clouds, and have over the years done several paintings featuring them. They are irresistible!

Yes, today is day whose significance clings. In the past fifteen years, I so wish that we could have seen more peace and understanding of how we might live in our shared world.

xo

Linda said...

Your photos are absolutely gorgeous and I love the airplane ones as well! Too often companies receive complaints and it isn't often they receive kind words, so it is great that this happened here! I also call companies from time to time with kind and positive feedback, I don't think there is enough of it in this world. Hugs.

David said...

Vagabonde, Great cloud and scenery photos! Your photos are much more artistic than mine are... I also worked in the aircraft manufacturing business, at McDonnell-Douglas in St. Louis Missouri. I was on the staff in the security department for a couple of years. The F-4 was winding down and the F-15 production was cranking up. I'll never forget the first F-15 flight that I saw. SW Airlines certainly came through for you! Wow! I'm sure that the extent of their response was at least partly due to your ability to write!

9/11, another day that will live in infamy! Our flag is up and flying. Unfortunately, the 'war' is just beginning with no end in sight. Man's cruelty to man continues...

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Elephant's Child said...

I too am a sky watcher. And so grateful for the beauty it gives us.
I am wondering whether the offers of replacement flights/reductions came thick and fast because you were polite? I suspect it had something to do with it.
And yes, we can never forget, despite the fact that our losses were mostly not of the people dearest to us. There are people for whom every day is a painful reminder.

Denise inVA said...

I was happy to hear you had a great response from the airline. It must have been a stressful experience before the wedding. I enjoyed your memories of childhood in Paris, and your Mother teaching you the various clouds. I have always loved cloud watching and even today there were several different types of clouds in the sky, I found myself reaching for my camera. The C-130 Hercules was the first plane my husband taught me when I moved to America. I have never forgotten it. As for 9/11, I get very sad when I remember that day. We knew several people who were directly affected with the loss of a loved one, a friend. We will never forget their stories, will never forget what we were doing at the time. The world came together on that day.

Vicki Lane said...

What a beautiful post and how many gorgeous cloud photos! I too always ask for a window seat and spend most of my time looking out. It never grows old. And I'm so glad the airline tried to make up for its mistake. Where will you go . . .?

Mae Travels said...

Clouds take on many meanings for various painters and poets, and I think one tends to view them as symbols and as part of a beautiful landscape/skyscape. So your reminder that they have technical names and at least some efficacy in predicting weather is very useful. Your photos, despite being illustrative of the science, are also beautiful. I once saw a thunderstorm in the sky from an airplane-- it was particularly impressive. And I like the way that clouds change very fast over Hawaii in the mid-Pacific, less so in the midwest where I live.

Thanks for an interesting post. I'm glad you are repressing the horrible trip you had a few weeks ago.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Jeanie said...

Hello, VB! I'm so very grateful SW came through so generously -- they should, after your ordeal, but so many do not.

I love the various cloud photos. When I was in college we toured with a children's play about clouds -- I can't remember most of it but it began with: "I'm cirrostratus with a toe of woe. A tale of cumulonimbus and how he made it so!"

Nice memories!

Down by the sea said...

Your images of clouds are fantastic and make me realise how many different kinds there are! What good news to hear that you have received vouchers following your dreadful journey and hope they will allow you to enjoy a relaxing break. Sarah x

Shell Sherree said...

Your post reminds me of one of the beautiful quotes you've included today ~ a sad day on the calendar to be honoured, always, but keeping our eyes up and keeping on looking forwards.

Cumulus clouds are my favourites, too, Vagabonde! {No surprise there, I guess. Plump and fluffy!} Thank you for such a lovely collection of thoughts, images and reminders of how such simple pleasures as cloud gazing can be so very uplifting for our imaginations and souls. Wishing you a happy day !!

Magic Love Crow said...

That was so nice of Southwest airlines! I'm happy for you and your hubby! I do hope the person who helped you, got the message! I love clouds too! I love looking up into the sky! Beautiful post! I love hearing about you and your family!
Prayers for September 11th!!!
Hugs my friend!

rhymeswithplague said...

Your cloud photos are wonderful and the Proust passage is most interesting! In the years we lived in Marietta (1975-2003) we often saw the C-5 coming in for a landing at Dobbins AFB as we drove along "the four-lane" (as Highway 41 used to be called). Quite a sight, and I never tired of it!

During your years at Lockheed, did you ever know a young aeronautical engineer named John Taylor? His sister happens to be my daughter-in-law.

Cergie said...

J'ai un petit faible pour l'altocumulus... Un mot pour chaque manifestation nuageuse et une explication aussi : le relief, l'hydrométrie, le vent. Originaire des Vosges l'effet de foehn m'interpelle ; il arrête les nuages venus de l'Atlantique et permet le beau temps en Alsace alors que la pluie s'accroche pendant des semaines entières sur les Vosges....
Tu parles d'avions, il y a aussi un nom pour les nuages de traîne qu'ils laissent dans leur sillage, je ne m'en souviens plus (de ce nom).

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tra%C3%AEn%C3%A9e_de_condensation

Il y en a souvent au dessus de chez nous : les avions qui partent et atterrissant à Roissy nous survolent en fonction des vents

Cergie said...

On penserait que de nos jours il n'y ait plus d'aventure aérienne et pourtant rien n'est dit d'avance sur les trajets (les routes), les horaires en fonction des conditions météo ou des grèves
Ton désagrément / les bagages me fait souvenir quand nous avons attendu la valise de notre fille à Orly en provenance de Berlin. C'est très désagréable de voir tourner un tapis vide. Pour finir elle avait pris un autre vol. Et comme elle venait à Paris également pour un mariage, il a fallu que je lui prête des vêtements. La valise est arrivée à Düsseldorf plus tard. A l'époque son compagnon habitait là et elle l'y rejoignait ensuite...

(Vos bagages ont des couleurs qui les rendent visibles à première vue ;-)

Cergie said...

Ah ! J'oublais à props de ta remarque sur le garage ou l'atelier... Fifi n'a pas relevé d'erreur, elle a rapproché "workshop" de "Werkschaft" dans son patois proche de l'allemand. Son père tenait un garage. Dans "atelier" l'humain et l'artisan est plus présent. De nos jours avec le règne de l'électronique et des pièces détachées on ne peut plus souvent employer ce terme...

Bonne fin de semaine à toi, Vagabonde !

NotesFromAbroad said...

I think we need to make a Cloud book :)

Ginnie said...

Like you, Vagabonde, clouds have always fascinated me, especially while looking down at them from airplanes. I always think of angels playing hide-n-seek in them. :) One of the things I most love about the Netherlands (which I now call Home) is the skies. They are constantly changing and always make me feel like something is happening!

Stella Jones said...

I enjoyed reading your blog today. I agree that clouds are fascinating. The first time I flew to America, I was a bit nervous, especially of the turbulence. The lady next to me said to think of it like 'bumping along on the cloud tops' and ever since then I have conjured up this image when necessary and it has given me much comfort.
Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog Brexitandbeyond recently.

Carola Bartz said...

Oh Vagabonde, how I like this post!!! All these clouds - they are so beautiful! I do love clouds as well and I sometimes wish we had more where I live. I love the drama in dark clouds before a storm, the change of light. I get your many cloud photos - and they're truly beautiful.
I think you got all these goodies from Southwest because you didn't write a complaining letter but a sweet one full of gratitude. I bet they don't get too many of them.

Marja said...

Hi I haven't blogged for a few months as live got in the way but planning to come back soon as I loved reading this post. Great about all the offers after you lost your suitcases. This must be karma :).You lived only 15 minutes from the Sacre Coeur? How wonderful I absolutely love it and also Place du Tetre close to the Sacre Coeur. Your pictures of the clouds above the Norwegian landscape are absolutely magic. I love clouds too as long as they don't block the whole sky. We used do do that game as kids Just finding shapes of animals etc in the clouds, while lying on the grass.

Nadezda said...

Vagabonde, sorry I'm late to comment your interesting post.
I love your collection of clouds, they are different but in the same way are very similar. Watching sky I always feel that we people live on a very beautiful Earth.
The day Sept 11 is a fateful day, I remember a shock I had listening to this terrible news.

Happy weekend!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

oh how I loved the clouds and the history of how you learned about them was poignant and beautifully written.

Interesting about how SW Airlines came through trying to make-up for their errors after the letter you wrote. Goes to show you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

joared said...

Your tribute commemorating 9/11 very touching. Enjoyed all your cloud photos and commentary. When my husband and I flew some in a Cessna he piloted, he always gave a great deal of attention to the weather and clouds. Until then clouds to me had import viewed from a distance -- identifying figures allowing my imagination to fly free as I reclined on my back in the grass. Now they acquired new significance when we were in the air, too.

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