Friday, 26 August 2011

Middle-Aged Packing Blues

Carlene Rae Dater, author of the mystery FINDER, joins us today. Please help us welcome her.

I'm getting ready to go on a vacation, and I dread it. It's not the trip I mind; it's the packing.

Things were so much simpler when I was twenty. I opened my duffle bag, threw in a couple changes of underwear, a few clean T-shirts, my toothbrush, comb, lipstick, acne cover-up and I was on my way. If I happened to stay longer than a few days, I'd just wash out what I needed in the bathroom sink and hoped they would dry overnight. Wearing slightly damp panties didn't bother me a bit.

Oh, how things have changed! Now that I'm in my middle years, I have to take at least one coordinated outfit for each day of my vacation, with shoes and purse to match. I wouldn't dream of traveling without a nightie, robe and slippers. Who knows what could happen in the middle of the night? An earthquake? Tsumini? Native uprising? I shudder to even think about being caught oust side my room in the nude. Then there's my makeup: foundation, powder, moisturizer, several colors of eye shadow, eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, false eyelashes for evening, blusher - the list goes on and on. Of course I wouldn't dream of traveling without my makeup remover, moisturizer, dental floss, mouthwash and toothbrush.

Always the well-groomed traveler, I must bring my curling iron, hot rollers, brushes, combs, mousses and gels. And jewelry. Do I pack it in my suitcase and hope the airlines don't lose my luggage? Do I trust the baggage handlers to keep their hand off? Or do I take everything in my handbag and pray I don't run into a mugger on some strange foreign street corner. I didn't have to worry about things like that when all I owed was a Mickey Mouse watch and a pair of imitation gold hoop earrings.

Of course, I'd never leave home without my sinus pills, anti-acid tablets, aspirins, vitamins, eye drops, migraine medication, sewing kit, bandages, ear plug, sleeping mask or extra pair of eye glasses. I'll probably never need any of these things, but I have to take them along, just in case.

Packing was much faster back in the good old days too. When I was 23 I went to Europe for two weeks. It took me fifteen minutes to pack. Now when I contemplate travel, I start at least two weeks in advance, making lists so I don't forget anything crucial. The sad fact is I need almost as much junk for a week-end trip as I do for a two week cruise.

My husband thinks he's come upon the secret of packing for a middle aged travel. (He's the smart one - I'm the pretty one.) He says the thing to do is take twice the money and half the stuff you think you'll need, and everything thing should come out even. Maybe I'll try his method this time.

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Check out Carlene's humorous mystery, FINDER, available at: to see how thrice-divorced, martini-drinking, Jaguar driving Sissy Montgomery handles Middle Age!

Carlene Rae Dater's sites:


“I need a good idea on how to kill someone,” Carol Reston said.

David stood panting inside the front door, his face the color of slate. She could smell his acrid sweat clear across the room. Chauncy crouched at his side huffing and drooling, his large pink tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

Terror shot through Carol. She knew that rattlesnakes were active in the brown hills around their house. One bite could kill Chauncy. And at forty-two, David was entering heart attack country. “David, honey, are you all right?”

His head bobbed up and down and he struggled for breath.

“A body. In the hills. Woman. Dead.”

“Yeah, that’s pretty good. I can work with that. Okay, you win.”

“This isn’t about your book, Carol! It’s real!” He bent over, resting his hands on his knees, sucking in air, trying to catch his breath.

“9-1-1. Call 9-1-1. I found a woman’s body up in the hills.” A glaze of moisture filled his eyes. “She didn’t have a face, Carol. The woman didn’t have a face.”

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Anthology Authors said...

I still pack like a 23 year old. What does that say about me? LOL Now, my mom has packed like that for years. We used to call her van (when she drove one) "the purse." LOL Her car is no longer like that, but she still packs everything, including the kitchen sink. I always pack an extra set of clothes.

Carlene Rae Dater said...

Yup that sounds like me! I was a girl scout - and I'm always prepared. You too?

Linda Rettstatt said...

I always pack twice. The first time, I pack everything I think I'll need. Then I take it all back out of the suitcase and put half of it away. I'm good to go! I always remind myself that, in case of emergency, there's always a laundromat, a Sears, a Walmart or someplace to grab what I need.

Carlene Rae Dater said...

Yes, my husband often reminds can BUY what you need if you forget something! I guess that's why he's the smart one and I'm the pretty one.

Betty Gordon said...

Carlene, I understand what you're saying. I just got back from vacation and for the FIRST time, I got packing right or kind right . I only had one top I didn't wear and that's a record for me.

I go along with -- if you don't have it, buy it!!

Carlene Rae Dater said...

Good for you! Most of us bring WAY too many clothes.

Anthology Authors said...

Goodness, but I don't like to buy more clothes. LOL yes, there's a laundromat or a Walmart, but if I can stay away from either, I will. (g) I've been known to wash underwear out in bathroom sinks and hang them up to dry to avoid having to pack a lot. (g)

Carlene Rae Dater said...

You sound pretty normal to me!

Fiona McGier said...

Our vacations are camping, so no one cares if you wear the same pair of pants a coupla days in a row. And I gave up makeup years ago, because I'm too lazy to get up earlier to put it on, and too cheap to pay for it! Besides, my husband doesn't like it. So I figure I don't have to look at my face, and if it distresses you, then look away!
We usually bring a duffle bag each...maybe a second one if we are going for 2 weeks, or if the weather might change.

Carlene Rae Dater said...

You're a brave woman, Fiona! I spent my youth camping with the family. Now my idea of camping is the Holiday Inn!

Janice said...

That's a great excerpt, I really want to know what happens next!

Here's how I pack. I have a small black case that sits on my dresser. In a pinch I toss what I need in there. Including jewelry. It has a lock.

Then in the big suitcase I pack one more outfit than the days we'll be gone, because accidents happen. I only take my casual nice clothes, because I'm on vacation and I'm not dressing up.

Anything else I need, I'll buy when I'm there.


Carlene Rae Dater said...

Sounds like a great plan, Janice. I remember a time while on vacation in
Jamaica when I had to buy something of a personal nature. I tried to delicately explain what I needed to the native cab driver and ... to took me to a store that was licensed to sell poisons and herbs! Yup, it was a drugstore and they had ONE dusty box of Tampax. Gotta love traveling!

Robyn M Speed said...

When I pack to go away for a week I pack enough so that I don't have to do any should never have to do laundry when one is on holiday!

My husband takes a bigger suitcase that I do!