The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Friday, December 31, 2010

My fiftieth birthday was a best day.
We, just my husband and I, were in DC. He was there for an annual business conference and I went along. I loved the approach over the water coming in ... turned out the guy at the aisle on our row was a pilot for that airline ... he spoke up when he caught a glimpse of my delight ... those big wings have a lot more tricks in their bag then my little airplanes do. So the whole thing started off really great.
We stayed in a very nice historic hotel ... I had forgotten my charger and they sent one right up. My husband got us all checked in then he left to meet up with his buds for a while. Perfect ... I like to get "situated" as soon as possible in a new place ... everything from water temperature to the fire exits comes in to play for me. (If I have to McGuyver something I gotta know what I'm working with!) I was surprised and delighted to see the variety of treats supplied by the hotel. "And they say Southerners are hospitable", I thought as I planned to open everything up and arrange it on the coffee tray as a lovely surprise for my husband. Hmmm, letsee here, maybe just a salty and a sweet ... I carefully selected just two, pairing the others for some other time. Ahhh ... and a fully stocked frig.! Well, I don't know much about beer ... he'd rather choose his own there.He was really enthusiastic about the little snacks. "You think of everything" he said (assuming that the surprise came out of my suitcase). I shrugged, smiling ... no big deal ... I was pleased with the compliment ... "Maybe you'd like a beer, or I think they put some little bottles of wine towards the back ... ". I'm trying to be cool ... nonchalant. "What?! Baby, whatcha say?!" he says. I'm clipping on earrings ... getting ready for dinner. "If you want a beer or something ... the frig is totally stocked ... guess they knew you party boys were in the house. (kind of a Engineer joke) He just started laughing. I was a bit surprised that my little joke hit his funny bone, but ... this is a sort of a vacation ... . He's still laughing. I come out of the bathroom all set to go and he's still laughing. "What?" I ask. "The hotel had these waiting in the room?" he asked still smiling. "Yes," I say,"And ... there just may be more where those came from... ." "Oh, I'm sure there are" he replies helping me into my coat.
Yeah ... I find out later that the little teeny tiny can of salted nuts had a price tag associated with it that should have covered at least the first leg of the airfare home! I think I'm going to replace it with a can from one of those little grocery stores wedged in between Starbucks and Starbucks. Uh uh ... no go. It's a special hotel size can!
Well, live and learn. He still laughs about it occasionally so I guess it was worth every penny.
We enjoyed a couple of those famous DC brunches while we were there. And some truly memorable dinners. I loved walking all over the place and riding the subway was fun too. It was really neat to experience the big city vibe. Everybody looked so cool. The city was preparing for the new president's inauguration ceremonies. We had a week there before the festivities began. I had a blast! Everyday.
Saved the Air and Space Museum for my birthday. I bought tickets to the special shows ... joined a tour group ... lagged behind and rolled up under one of the airplanes to quickly check out the flaps. I stopped when I wanted to ... read everything as slowly as I wanted to ... dozed through a tiny part of one movie ... rode the sims (extra cheesey) ... I spent the whole day there. Kinda perfect.
For dinner that night we found a wonderful tapa place that made very credible margaritas and served a single piece of birthday cake in a handblown glass platter that was almost as big as the table.
I saved the ticket stubs from The Air and Space Museum and put them in my top drawer to remind me of how much I enjoyed that day ... turning fifty ... not bad at all. Great, in fact.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I thought I was fully operational yesterday. I took it pretty easy and got home and back to bed fairly early. I knew I was dragging today ... Now I feel almost as bad as I did on Sunday. This flu, or whatever it is, is a very different kind of feel bad then I've ever felt before. I have four new books on my bedside table ... a couple of fresh blog posts to enjoy ... never before viewed Top Chef to stream ... and for me, most exciting: a few fun days in Atlanta to plan for early next month. My birthday is in January, so I'm going to think of it as a birthday gift rather then the business trip it is for my husband. I am going to play the tourist. (And I want to feel awesome for that.) I'm thinking about test driving some high end automobiles ... That seems a little wrong, because I am not in the market for a high end automobile but, it's fun to consider nonetheless.
This "Ten Best Days" project is more then meets the eye. I am enjoying thinking about candidates for the ten best days. It's strange that the best days aren't always the days you plan to be the best days.

Here's one, maybe.

We had just moved over here to the Deep South from Texas. I like Texas. Texas makes sense to me. If I chose to live outside of Texas it would be towards the Southwest ... sure, I love visiting Chicago, New York, DC ... even Atlanta and Chattanooga are super cool. If I were to choose where to spend a significant portion of my life, it woulda never ever ever been in a small town in the Southern portion of the United States.

There were two grocery stores here when we first arrived. One was frequented by a predominantly black clientele ... the other, you got it, mostly by the local white population. There were no black folks at churches we visited ... no black families living in the neighborhoods where we were shown homes (What about this home I remember asking ... no, you wouldn't want to live there the realtor replied ... she's showing me homes that back up to the Interstate, but she knows I wouldn't want to live there!?!) ... the signs I remembered seeing in the pages of LIFE magazine were down, but in the early 1990's the signs were still everywhere.
I was standing in the grocery store trying to figure out which aisle for what ... reading the signs ... and I became aware of a black woman staring at me. She was probably about my age. (I found out later that the black people who are roughly my age wouldn't have been my classmates had I attended High School over here ... segregation was still in full swing over here ... it absolutely amazed me. Don't get me wrong ... I'm sure there is plenty of prejudice to go around in Texas, but that type of hatred wasn't institutionalized.) "Wow, she is a tall woman" I remember thinking. I'm five foot nine and so I don't get to think that very often. She was getting ready to look away when I smiled at her ... and she smiled back, one of those huge smiles that feels like a hug. "You are really tall." I said to her and she laughed and said, "Too bad that don't help me read." We talked for a while. I wondered how she got along finding things ... shopping ... cooking ... just knowing about stuff. And she took time to tell me. Shopping was easy, because even the canned items had pictures of what was inside the package. (I hadn't thought of that before.) Boxed items were tricky, because the picture might show pancakes, but when you opened the box all you had was a bunch of flour and directions that you couldn't read.
The worst part for her, she told me, was the paying ... she would approach the cashier with out having any idea of what it would cost. She said she knew how much money she had, but no estimate of how much the stuff in her cart would cost. Plus she never really knew if she was being cheated at the check out or not. She couldn't read and she couldn't do simple math in her head. I still notice older black women holding back a few items in their carts while they wait for a sub total ... they are embarrassed to hold up the line.
The lady at the store that day needed some help with reading something and she was looking at me trying to figure out if she could ask me for help. I asked her why she decided to tell me all about this and she said I could tell by looking at you that you were not from around here.

Not from around here. That has been a burning issue for me pretty much from the get go. No body wanted to play with the new girl ... . My Dad's work traveled us all over the country (mostly the Southwest) for enough years to make an impression. When Momma said no more, they chose Houston, where there was a huge concentration of their families and then later, South Texas. There were a lot advantages to moving around ... seems like the one big disadvantage was that I never felt that sense of belonging that the security of a place gives you. There are many pros and cons that come with being not from around here.

We've been here for almost twenty years now. I've witnessed many subtle changes in the social climate. Everyone can still tell that I am not from around here, but it doesn't bother me at all (most of the time). That was a really good day when someone shared a little bit of her life experience with me ... it was really good that she could identify that I wasn't from around here, and therefore may be open to helping her carry her burden, if just for a moment or two.

Monday, December 27, 2010

This is a NOAA weatherproduct that is new to me. I am still in bed with a headache, but I passed by the TV in the den briefly onmy way to delicious morning coffee ... the weather to the East looks a bit dicey. My FB friends who fly are fussing about the weather towards the Eastern and NErn reaches of the country. It brought me to think about a couple of things ... I'm pretty sure that my guys are paid even if they're sitting on the ground ... I'd ask, but that might seem to be beside the point. I'm sure that they are not sitting in terminals getting hammered by the PAX. They do have their cool communication devices and access to a network of friends who might commiserate with them. Maybe we'll be able to beam them up in a few years ... .
I'm thinking about snow ... which I have very little experience (or none)with as an aviator. I have seen pictures of runways covered in snow ... I've seen ice on my plane before, but never anything snow in the areas where I've flown or more importantly perhaps, landed. I recognize the cute little asterisk on the prog charts ... it's always over there or way over there. It seems to me that the guys who can choose their flights would want to stay maybe Westward ... the proflight guys from around here tend to get gigs ATL and Eastward. I am going to start looking at weather on a larger scale ... all those High Pressure systems on the West coast look a lot friendlier then the big sucking Low Pressure system putting weather on the East coast in the toilet.

The graphic that I'm learning how to use is awesome! I can click on geographical areas of interest, and within that area look at specifics such as air quality alerts ... it's interesting to see what's messing up the air ... would it be something that my airplane wouldn't want to

I'm interested in the weather in Alaska. I'm starting to look at it because it is so different then the weather here, almost like a different planet. I can see why weather seems to come as a big surprise to people who do all of their training over here ... a lot of our guys go to Alaska for a little visit and pick up their ASES ... when the weather is lovely. I would like to do that, there rather then in the Keys, if I get to do that at all. It's been fun going from the progs to the winds aloft to this National Weather Hazards Chart.

I am also thinking about the life of airline pilots in general. I wonder how many of them finish their careers feeling that they made mostly the best choices. By that I mean, I get to see these guys at the beginning of their careers ... they are smart enough and motivated enough to do anything they might want to, and their training costs would afford them a fast track in most any of the other professions. Aside from the considerable financial costs, many of them will pay a huge emotional cost to fly, it seems to me. And then, how do you share the joy that offsets those costs with the people you love the most? I think it is the most demanding of the professions ... requiring so many different skill sets. ... then the report on bombs at the embassies in Rome this morning ... one more reminder of potential hazards to assess and file

The FI who I enjoyed training with so much ... I didn't know him at the beginning of his journey. At some point he decided to come back to the training environment when his time with the big guys was at it's end. He has some models of fighters and I think it's the A320 and a few other smaller single engine airplanes ... and a shell (idk - didn't ask!). He may be a bit cynical, or is it educated, about aviation in general, but it's far below the surface facets of his personality. He doesn't lead with what a big shot he was before, like a lot of older pilots do. The only thing he does that makes me smile airline pilot wise is his voice changes when he is transmitting outside the cockpit ... he sounds very cool ... intentionally so. When I first heard that Captain voice I didn't know it was him, and he was sitting right beside me. It must be like an alter-ego in a way, 'cause normally he just sounds like a country boy. It was extremely amusing. He said we would get me to sounding that cool ... really, he said that ... but I don't think we ever did. His contribution has been huge with the students. He's not the kind of person who would think about that ... which is a shame, because surely that would go in the life well spent pile. I think he has been successful, admirable ... I think he presents a worthy role model for the young guys as they begin ... WWCD. What Would Captain Do? That is how I think I would judge myself if I were a career airline pilot ... . Would the people who understand what it takes to do this well admire my choices? Not just the flying stuff, but the on the ground stuff ... family stuff ... financial choices ... spiritual choices ... life stuff.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Well, that wasn't a very Christmasy post yesterday was it? It was a memorable, fun, family day. All five of our children were home ... they are old enough to just enjoy each other with out all the nannynannyy their younger selves could and often did bring. Some days, all the work that has gone in to raising them seems like nothing more then a labor of love.

My back and other parts of me continued to feel yucky. It was a good day to sit quietly and enjoy everything with out stressing on napkins rings and grandma's silver.
We open gifts on Christmas morning. The uncle sent the funniest presentation of money ever ... the bills were glued together with post it note type adhesive, then rolled up like a roll of money. Some were not glue together, but just rolled up as tightly as possible and then glued to themselves. It was very funny to watch all five of them unrolling the money and getting it organized for their wallets ... Three said he felt that he was actually earning the $$. I have been loaning my camera to Four and my photo a day blog has suffered ... she was delighted to open a nice camera of her own, and I am looking forward to catching up on my other blog before the end of the year. It was Christmas morning last year when Two suggested that we start a blog together and each post a photo every day. I don't consider myself a photographer, but it has been very interesting to take a photo (almost every day) and see what I like looking at and how I like to see it. I will continue that project this next year.
One requested lamb for dinner, and my husband decided to grill it. Three has been one of those guys who doesn't like the idea of eating meat. Fish he is okay with. Taco Bell ... okay with ... meat camouflaged as some thing else ... not blatantly meat ... he is okay with. I get it, I am a little bit like that myself. This year, he has gotten to where he can sit down to a nice steak and eat it without too many wierdities. It never occurred to me to give him the heads up on the change of protein ... he immediately knew that wasn't beef and was absolutely appalled to find that it was lamb. Five said it seemed insensitive to serve lamb at the birthday celebration of the Lamb of God ... . "That's fine, more for me." One said. He had big plans for gyros with the leftovers. L and I decided to slip out for a movie, and saw The Tourist again. I really liked the first viewing of it, but there wasn't enough texture to make it a great movie to see again ... the landing wasn't as rough as I remembered it. It snowed as we drove home afterwards ... I love to see the snow flying in to the headlights as the car zooms along. Where we live, snow is always a surprise.
Two, who is accident prone and my sons who are in great shape had all kinds of advice for my little back ache ... I went to bed last night feeling a lot better, but when I woke up this morning I realised that the back pain was a precursor to what may be the flu ... headache, achy, fevery ... nauseous. I am almost never sick. Today I have been in bed sleeping and reading my new book "Astronomy for Dummies". I remember when I fell in love with weather watching ... I know, it's super unabashedly nerdy. My best friend is a farmer's daughter ... she grew up on weather. She used to call me from half way across the country to give me a heads up about tropical storms which might eventually be of interest to me. Hahaha that was so long ago. I love weather watching now ... how cool is it to see how our planet works! So I realized that Astronomy very well may hold the same joy for me and I'm looking in to it. A secret pleasure for me is looking for and finding things ... like a speck of gold in a pan of mud ... or a sand dollar buried finger deep at the leading edge of a sand bar ... it's the little things. I think I might like looking for things in the night sky ... specific things. And I think that patio at the coast that is getting closer and closer to full time may provide just the place to view from.
That's it ... it's been a pretty sweet day. Someone brought some frozen grapes in earlier ... someone else made a peanutbutter and honey sandwich for me (my favorite sick food) ... someone brought the lap top in for me ... it's very nice to be taken care of every once in a while.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Think today may be one of the best days.

Last night I woke up around 2:30 local time. This may sound a little weird, but what I do because I know I am going to wake up several times during the night, is, I have a predetermined list of things that will be interesting to think about. Like a date with myself. What I used to do when I woke up was sort of like brooding ... what did he mean by that ... why would anyone say something like that ... what I should have said was ... . Stupid stuff like that ... stuff that picks at your sore spots, stuff that you never figure out right, only making yourself feel worse.
I'm okay with the weirdness of preplanning because it keeps me, if not productive, then at least not counter productive. Last night I was processing the information in my new book about Aspergers. It's an interesting topic to me in that a better understanding of the symptoms and how those are played out in the dynamics of relationships is helpful. The main take away supports a conclusion that I had already come to which is: You can't reasonably expect the people in your life to complete you. I have friends who say stuff like that, and it rings hollow like a dime store romance to me. Maybe something is wrong with my thinking there, but it is what it is.
All that to get to here: I need to take better care of myself. Women who nurture well seem to have a tendency to neglect themselves ... not in that martyr way ... more in the only so many minutes in the day kind of way. My husband is not a fan of the whole physical fitness thing ... and honestly, it seems to be working for him - not working out. But me not working out is not working out for me. Last night when I woke up my body felt bad ... it still hurts right now ... really hurts. My brother said it sounds like a pinched nerve in my back. I think it is a warning. A few years ago when I broke my ankle I was running 5 miles a day on the elliptical and doing appropriate weigh training as well. I liked my weight (well pretty much - I am a girl) and I felt fit. That broken ankle set me down for 9 months ... and by then, I was out of shape and out of the habit. My big reach goal was getting strong enough to walk well in high heels ... I know, kind of superficial, but I really like pretty shoes.
I'm going to heed the warning ... I'm going to see about building back up to a similiar work out program. I loved doing that and there's no reason why I shouldn't and couldn't do that for myself. I decided that today.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Before my second child began to walk, my husband made a big career change. He spent the summer beginning PhD work and by time Fall classes began we had joined him, moving from the big city lifestyle that I thrived on to what seemed like the middle of nowhere. It was my task to set up housekeeping (once I found a house), put my two small children in daycare (once I found a good situation for them), and find a job. I had experience as a commercial office furniture sales person and once everything else was settled, I talked my way in to a job at the local Steel Case franchise holder ... the co-workers weren't too happy to see Miss Smartypants Citygirl all up in their biznez. I spent the first several months inside the store dusting the showroom and organizing catalogues and fabric samples. It sucked. At the end of the work day I did what mothers everywhere do ... I picked up my children, held them close and tried to intuit what their day looked like. My husband was working pretty near around the clock teaching classes and working on his research. It was so very different from what I thought things would be like when we first started our family. By time Spring rolled around everyone had settled in to our new routine ... except me. I remember telling my husband that I felt disoriented, as though someone had pushed me out of an airplane shouting instructions to me about how to operate the parachute as I fell.

My brother-in-law made arrangements for all of us to meet for a day of white water rafting. That day was one of the best days. It was good to be in the raft rolling along the river and then shooting through the rapids. Later I came to see white water rafting as an analogy for life. Everything seemed to get better after that day ... places opened up for our children in a Montessori school ... my husband's schedule shifted to accomodate picking our children up earlier in the day ... my employer moved me to an outside sales position where I could make some money ... . I guess I adjusted.

From this vantage point, many years later, I can see that day on the Guadalupe as not just a turning point for that three year stint in pursuit of a PhD, but also as a day when a new adventure was embraced. The life I could see receded, as I was able to roll with it, looking forward rather then back, and even laugh with anticipation at the sound of the approaching rapids.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Definitely one of those ten best days

My grandmother was important to me. Not because she was one of those sweet little old lady types ... she wasn't ... I liked her because she just was exactly who she was without paying very much attention to what anyone else thought about that. We started our relationship when I was tiny ... Memories of her go back to when I was probably around three. I started writing her "letters" before I knew how to write (and my older brother came home from Kindergarten each day teaching me everything he was working on at school that day ... I learned how to draw the alphabet pretty quickly ... except for Ss ... so it was before that ). My mom would give me a piece of nice stationery and I would sit quietly making strings of loops ... line after line of loops and swirls. Momma folded the pages up and sent them along with her letters. Sometimes my granny would call on the telephone ... long distance phone calls were a big deal back in the nineteen-sixties. I remember asking her if she had received my latest "letter" ... "Sure did, thank you very kindly" she said. I asked her what it said she answered with a laugh, "You wrote it, you must remember what you said!" And then my phone time was used up and it was passed to the next one in line to visit ... I walked away so sad. My Granny can't read I thought. Every week a letter would come addressed especially to me ... inside was beautiful stationery with line after line of loops and swirls ... and sometimes a drawing of a bird or a flower and always a stick of Wrigley's spearmint gum. My momma would read the letter to me while I enjoyed my treat. My momma could read loops and swirls ... poor Granny I thought, she should be able to read by now.

When I was old enough I began spending at least a month every summer with my grandparents. The owned a plant nursery and I loved watering the plants and sweeping the aisles ... and listening to my Granddad whistle happily and talk to the workers in Spanish. One day I dropped and broke a handful of terra cotta pots ... I ripped out with some word in Spanish that I had heard my Papa say in situations like that ... Granny was not pleased with my first foray in to foreign languages. I overheard them laughing about it later as she chided him. My momma wouldn't have been laughing about that word.

I loved them both, but especially her. She died around this time of year three years ago. I was able to spend some time with her a few months before she passed. Would she recognize me I wondered ... she did. It was a very sweet time for me. Each time I left the room and returned it was as though she had just seen me for the first time ... she had almost no short term memory. She was so delighted to see me every time. I took her and my momma out to eat at the local Chinese buffet ... my Grandmother made me laugh when she said, "This is your Mother's favorite restaurant ... I can't remember things well, I know that, but I am sure I have never liked this kind of food!" She pushed things around on her plate objecting to first this then that ... she leaned over and whispered to me, "Please go find something for me that I will like ... make it something I recognize please." I came back with banana slices and green jello. "She can't eat that for lunch!" Momma exclaimed. "Watch me." Granny replied ... and that settled it. After lunch I took them to a local nursery ... Granny loved that ... pointing out this and that detail. I wanted to buy her a plant but she insisted not ... "I may not be around long enough to water it." She was a no nonsense sorta girl. As the day wore on my granny became less lucid ... and I was grateful for those earlier few golden minutes with her. She surprised me later when it was time for me to leave ... she held my hand and pulled me in close to her. "Don't be sad baby, I've been hearing about heaven all my life. I don't remember much ... I know that, but I do remember that I belong to Him and I am not afraid to go see for myself what that's all about."
I think about her often. It was good to see what she was able to hold on to ... to me it seemed that she was in her purest form ... like everything extemporaneous had fallen away ... she remembered that she belonged to Him and she wasn't afraid.

That's one of the ten best days for sure.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm starting to really like the idea of freelance flight instructing. It's going to be more lucrative which pings my goal oriented personality ... meaning; before, I really wasn't thinking of it as a business. The guys at the flight school net somewhere around 15 bucks an hour (they are billed out at significantly more, but the flight school keeps the rest for overhead ... the CFIs are building time while they instruct ... so everyone is happy with that arrangement sort of). Freelance CFIs around here are billing their flight and ground time at 40-50bph. Gotta love that! So ... somebody has a very nice little Cessna 152 that is IFR certified and he is going to rent it to my students at a very competitive rate. I am loosely partnering with one other CFI in this airplane, so everything is on track there to start instructing after the first of the year.

Yesterday I spent some time with the City setting up a ground school program that will be offered through our local Parks and Rec. Pretty cool. It'll start the first week in March and run for ten weeks ...depending on how many folks sign up, that can pay pretty well ... and be a lot of fun. I've really enjoyed instructing in the University environment, but I am energized by this new challenge. We're also thinking about some jacked up test prep type weekend courses ... probably would be appealing to the local business men. That's about as up and running as it can be this time of year ... the Christmas bells are ringing.

Five and I are making Gingerbread houses from scratch. My little 200 watt handheld mixer said, "uh uh ... no way". It is fine for whipping cream or blending cake mix ... but this project required a lot more muscle! Combining the ingredients to produce gingerbread was an act of determination that could be featured on "Man vs Wild" ... I cook a wide variety of dishes pretty well ... but, I avoid baking (except for chocolate chip cookies and the occasional batch of oatmeal raisin for those who are very dear). My girls have piping bags and tons of little silver tips ... and they know how to use them ...they didn't get that from me (thank-you Food Network). I have learned a few things from this experience ... . It takes about $38.00 worth of candy to decorate two gingerbread houses (and nine cups of flour to make the dough!), milk duds with kosher salt taste exactly like carmel enrobed in dark chocolate with sea salt(delicious, and my version is a fraction of the cost!), and little girls love creating Gingerbread houses almost as much as their big brothers enjoy swiping the building supplies. One had the cool idea of secretly placing a surprise inside the house before the roof goes on ... pretty sweet.

There is still shopping to be done ... I am not a big fan of shopping ever ... but I am a huge fan of delighted faces on Christmas morning. Four, has tapped me for an afternoon review of consumerism 101. I will be driving the sleigh while she fills the big red velvet bag. If it becomes too much I will sit on the benches with the old guys and talk politics and skin cancer. Ho Ho Ho ... !

Monday, December 20, 2010

It doesn't really matter why, and maybe I don't even know why, but for some reason I do not tend to let very many people get very important to me. I don't want to spend any time here on this idea, probably most people are like this. I don't like to feel/be inter personally vulnerable.
That's not how I want to be though. (Well, the truth is I struggle with it.). It's complicated ... but I don't think it's supposed to be. That falling backwards and somebody catches you ... trust building exercise ... not so much for me. No thanks. Coupled with that resistance is this: I think we are supposed to acknowledge our connectedness to one another. The people and events of your life (my life) become more or less significant at my choosing, but they're not arbitrary ... that's what I think. Even the simplest encounter becomes a thread which is spun into the yarn making it a stronger thread (thickness or density). Choice combined with circumstance weave those strands in to the warp (length-wise) and woof or welt (width or interlacing with the warp) of the tapestry that expresses your (my) life. You get to pick up some color and texture, pattern and scale ... design features ... and you get to choose how your fabric is used, or treated. Those encounters I choose should make my life more interesting ... meaningful ... we collaborate with one another as we create who we are and the paths that take us to who we become.

Here is another possible best day.
About two years ago I chose to try to trust someone within the constraints of a specific environment. Like a swimmer who has washed up on the shore after a big storm, grateful to be alive, yet longing to swim again (or at least get in the water) ... I needed a safe place to get my feet wet, to wade in gradually moving towards the deeper waters. I chose to trust a relative stranger because I recognized that this person was trust-worthy. Maybe it was that whole "when the student is ready the teacher will appear" thing. Trust capacity was growing ... what I was really working on was how to trust God ... it may sound a little weird, but think about it ... if I am unable to trust what is seen,
how will I know how to access trust when it's really important ... with the unseen. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, there is more going on then meets the eye ... we all know that is true. I touch the hot stove and I burn my little hand. Now I have a burnt hand and maybe receive the comfort of a salve and hopefully receive the message of don't touch a hot stove, and maybe even learn to pay heed to warnings in general ... or I may miscue the experience and just be afraid of the kitchen ... or warmth may make me uncomfortable ... or any number of possibilities.

This is a representation of the last day I worked on trust with that particular trustbuddy.
He said,"Stop acting like a woman." Those words were some of his baggage spilling out. I knew a tiny bit about his baggage ... he carried his load on his back ... like a warrior. You couldn't help but notice it ... and make room for it (as long as it stayed zippered in). The deal with those words shouldn't have been a big deal, but, those words strung together by that person delivered on that day and in the context in which they were spoken ... those words sliced through me like a whip cutting in to that very vulnerable spot where trust was beginning to grow. I

had allowed myself to vulnerable ... and I felt it big time. So what did I do? As quickly as I could ... I pulled my preferred weapon out and drew back as far as I could ... and the poison tipped arrows flew swift and true. There weren't any winners that day.

I couldn't take my part of that day back. I would have wished every blown out candle on every birthday cake I get to wish on from here on ... if a wish could erase my part in that day. It would have been so much easier for me to deal with it had I not returned fire. It was very hard to see myself as that instinctively hateful. And over what? Some words ... !?! (By the way, I actually like being a woman, but even if I didn't, that's pretty much the hand I was dealt.) I slept with the sorrow that I was unable to express for my actions that day. I stood in that place where the hatefulness was collected ... and saved ... just in case I thought I needed them to keep myself safe. I spent time right there in the place where those ugly words found their mark. Because of the days that delivered that day, and the days that came after that day ... I decided not to do that again ... load up hateful soul tearing words and callously take aim.

Recently I had another chance to talk ugly ... real ugly. I knew the most damaging words to say, and I seemed to have nothing to gain from not letting them fly. I could even rationalize that they were appropriate ... the truth administered with justifiable malice. Just me taking care of myself.
I wrote about that wanker who seemed to enjoy taking swipes at me in my post about the recent day that I dreaded. He, himself, wasn't important to me, but he was able to keep something that I thought was important away from me. He knew what he was doing. I dreaded losing what I thought of as my place out there. I dreaded letting it go without taking a few well placed shots at the guy. I toyed with the idea that not talking some mean talk would make me look weak. I know some things that I could have
said that would have sucked the air right out of his blown up pompous self ... poison pointed ugly words. Pointless weak words, not strong words. Tearing down words. Useless words meant to salve my ego ... but they wouldn't have.

That shameful day, when I didn't make room for a buddy who was having a very bad day of his own ... I started learning a little bit about humility and love that day ... and shortly after the experiences summarized in that day, I started noticing some golden threads of trust were appearing in my blanket.

That day might be one if the ten best days.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

one of the ten best days

My friend H has me reading a new book ... "Heaven" by Alcorn. So far it is interesting, but not riveting ... it takes me a while to warm up to a book. I used to sometimes stay with a book for hours on end ... the Clavell books ... maybe I will read Shogun again. Recently read, "the ten best days of my life" by Adena Halpern, definitely a kind of girly book ... with an interesting message. A young woman dies and goes to heaven ... it rocks ... but in order to stay in the ultimate state of bliss she must write an essay ... yes, on the ten best days of her life ... and as she does that, she learns what was truly precious about the life she was living. It is provocative and out of the box.

"Hmmm, what an interesting gem to ponder in the middle of a wakeful night ... I like to think about what my ten best days have been so far. I know I am supposed to say ... the day I got married, or the day my child was born ... Hallmark days ... so from that track, I make the slightest detour ... because those were great days (no brainers, this is supposed to be an exercise)... I started making some rules. I tell myself it can't be any of the cliched days ... it can't be an easy thoughtless answer. How does one organize this type of list? I begin riffling through those storage boxes of sepia-toned memories, looking for the precious few that really stand out. I don't know what the end result will be, but I think it will be fun to re-capture some of the best days ... worth a try, while I wait for a future best day (the day I start logging dual given).

Here is a possibility:

When I was in third grade, my school class went on a field trip to the Houston Planetarium. The plush indigo swathed seat was too big for me but I figured out how to move it into a bit of a reclining position by pushing against the seat in front of me ... I did that after the lights went down because I knew it was wrong to put my feet on the furniture (except in the dark apparently and only when one's mary-janed feet couldn't reach the floor). The planetarium was truly magical ... transporting me through time and space. The experience was surreal ... really, everything real fell away to somewhere in the shadows, making room for only this perfect timeless moment. I am certain that I sat there wide eyed, probably unblinking, absorbing. I've been to several planetariums since ... and have never felt the earth fall away as it did that first time. A mental snapshot of that halcyon day re-loaded suddenly (and unbidden, like a pop-up right in the middle of some important googlingseveral years ago when I was practicing stall recovery technique on a pitch dark night. I chose a star as my reference point ... and as the airplane pitched down in to a full stall, the mechanical trappings seemed to fall completely away leaving me there alone with the distant light, and just for a minute ... not a minute, a second, while time stood still ... I had that exact same feeling of connection to something out there rendered by the night sky. What is it that embraces us?
I remember that day ... had to be in the late sixties ... when I was imprinted with awe. That has got to be one of the ten best days.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

From some of my notes ... Change is the price of progress ... we all know that. It's an indisputable fact. I didn't want to let that go, but now, I am ready.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I've been dreading today ... so much so in fact, that rather then just tell someone, I've just been trying to handle it by myself. Yesterday I went to the bank and moved money around to my little personal account - the one that I have for my flight training expenses. My husband wanted me to open an account of my own so that I could start building my own credit and banking relationships ... I guess we're getting to that age where he wants me to know how to do some financial housekeeping. So ... any money I earned from instructing was automatically deposited into that account ... a little bit of "loan money" was also in that account. It was the first loan I have applied for since I've been married. I wouldn't have qualified for a loan based on my earnings, but I did have enough deposited every two weeks to pay for the loan. Having a checkbook with only my name on it felt both sweet and morbid. So - anyway, today I wrote a check out of that account that wiped it out.
It may have been exactly a year ago today that I decided to take a huge risk. I'm not that same person ... I almost don't even remember her as I sit here shaking my head in disbelief that I could be so naive! I didn't realize that there was risk involved in my decision ... now, I'm thinking that the element of risk will need to be considered in all future choices ... risk isn't inherently bad, in fact, it might be what makes most things interesting. But I was unnecessarily naive ... I kinda like that trait in other people, it makes me think they are trusting ... and trustworthy ... kinda innocent (or in my case - sheltered). I spent last year working on trust issues ... seems like I might have been a little more heads-up. I am actually laughing at myself a little as I type this out.
Here's my deal in brief.
I was standing in the hall near the file cabinet looking for some certification sheets for some one's folder ... (okay, briefer ... ) The Chief came over and started talking to me ... he said, "We really need you out here ... whydontcha do your CFI certificate?" I laughed ... and said kinda smarty like I do, that I didn't have the money for that right now ... I'd love to but ... I'd have save up a bit more money before taking on that expense. He said, "Because you are part of the team already we can waive your instructional expenses (pay for the Hobbs time on the airplane only which is a bucket load of money in and of itself ... briefer ...) and you can run an account with us and pay it back out of your earnings as a CFI. We were a part 141 operation ... the Chief had examining authority even for the initial CFI. "Hmmm, I thought ... flight instructing here would be pretty cool." I immediately made a request for a specific flight instructor ... specifically because I knew he would not let me through with anything less then excellent CFI ready to go skills. I'd never flown with him, but I knew he was the real deal. I told the Chief that I'd have to talk this over with my husband, and that I would only take it on if FI would accept me as a student ... and because I wasn't a complete idiot, I threw in, "You'll fly with me every once in a while just to make sure I'm up to par for a job out here when it's done won't you? Sweet, innocent words ... sounding in the air when I took the plunge ... trusting.
Sometimes right in the middle of a lovely short field touch down ... and believe me, lots of money was spent making them lovely, none of this PTS standards were met kinda talk with my FI ...he could give a furry little rat's ass about hitting the marks on those drop in landings/heavy on the brakes or the fluttering slow flight so far back on the energy curve that you just might not make the white paint before the stall (he especially hated those). Yeah ... it's within the standards he'd agree, but not your standards ... your standards are that it will be flown intentionally ... as though it matters because you're out of concrete or dirt or whatever ... do it again ... again ... again. It got to where I could do any performance landing (and take-off) knowing exactly how the whole thing would go ... no doubts. I figured I would eventually be the go to CFI to fix ingrained crappy technique upon request. You may think I'm bragging, but I'm really just getting side tracked. Re-wind: Sometimes right in the middle of a lovely SF TD the FI would casually say ... "I want this to be ingrained, because your check ride will also be your job interview ... you're not going to get any second chances." Eventually, he just shortened it to "Yeah, thechief will like that." He really loved to say that because it was guaranteed to piss me off ...and pissed off me might misjudge the energy state on the next pass ... . He felt that his reputation would be on board when my big day arrived ... also, he didn't want me to let some kid put me upside down on a training flight ... he was constantly working on making me work at keeping my head in the game at all costs. (Okay,I know this isn't brief ...)
Did you get that part where the deal was laid out? Waive the instructor's fees, pay for plane, payback flight costs out of salary, train with this flight instructor, check ride with Chief . I said yes.

Then we lost our examining authority for CFIs ... no big deal I thought ... I am up to a ride with the FAA .

Then we lost our Chief ... to an unfortunate little gear up landing on a commercial certride ... that's really sad for him I thought ... hope I'll like the new chief ... hope he'll hire me never crossed my mind ... my FI was the go to guy on that anyway and he was collaborating with me on the end product ... three green no red for me.

Then the Director of Flight Ed. showed up with a bunch of chain of command charts ... really ... he had slides and walked us all through them at more then one meeting ... everyone smirked ... how embarrassing for him I thought. My training was temporarily suspended while my FI took on the responsibilities of the empty Office of the Chief. No one knew what the Director of FlightEd. actually did ... he's not a CFI ... I thought of him as a PR guy ... without the prerequisite personality.

Then he wanted a little meeting with me ... he'd heard about my cost waiver (from the executive assistant - his assistant - he's the only executive) ... he didn't like it ... he implied thatI had charmed my way into that deal ... I assured him that I had never been accused of being charming before. ...And FI is too busy to work with you ... and I basically said "Duh, I've noticed that ... . ... and I went straight to the FIs office and he said ... don't worry about any of that, DFEd is just feeling his oats (not a quote ... but something like that) ... this will blow over when the new Chief gets here ... "I promise." (that was a quote) ... and so I sat patiently ... maybe even quietly enough to hear something from the Lord.

Then the Executive assistant handed me my bill and said DFEd wants you to pay your bill (not on you bill) and I noticed that she had never ever smiled at me before. I smiled back ... and said, I'll meet with the DFEd on this issue ... and I did. He implied that I must be even more charming then he at first suspected. I reminded him that in fact I am not charming at all, and any number of people could vouch for that fact. It was during this meeting that I started to notice a little malicious sparkle in his eyes. I was surprised. I told him about the conversation by the file cabinet in December ... he said, I don't care what the Chief told you ... there's a new sheriff in town (that type of thing) ... I thought he was wearing a tin star and ... okay, this is the truth, I didn't say anything I would later regret, but I gritted my teeth so hard that I'm surprised I didn't break a filling. I told him I would pay it before the end of the year and I started looking around for a finish up program.

I don't know why but he started taking swipes at me ... saying things like is your check ride scheduled ... it seems like a straightforward question, but he asked it in a mocking tone ... then when the ride was scheduled ... he was like "well we'll all pop the cork on that celebratory bottle when you get the ticket" ... that was when I told him to kiss my ass ... not word for word ... not even those words ... but it was pretty clear what I was thinking ... he actually laughed when he scurried away. My ride went well. Rather then just congratulate me, he said I must have gotten a sweetheart deal. Again, I gritted my teeth ... and bit my tongue. After a few weeks of simmering down, as my Daddy would say, I started realizing that maybe the DFEd was maybe just trying to make the money side work for the flight school. I started empathizing with his point of view a little. I initiated a conciliatory conversation and (to my surprise) he apologized "For maybe not saying things in the best possible way." This week I asked him if there was any chance I would be considered for the next CFI slot that opens up out there ... he told me the next slot has already been hired ... that he was hired weeks ago but hadn't been assigned a student yet ... we talked about the guy some, perhaps I had met him ... retired from the airlines ... older gentleman.

I sat down with the FI today ... I could tell that he was upset about something when I first saw him (girls have secret powers like that) ... we talked for a while about what's got him going ... I've never seen him upset before and it made me very sad. I've seen him pissed, exasperated, fed up ... never upset. We talked about his stuff for a little while and then I told him that I am not going to put an application in out there ... I told him that the hard part for me is accepting the fact that what I had hoped for just no longer even exists ... the new sheriff blew in on a dust storm and they are up to their elbows in tumble weeds out there...I told him about my last meeting with the DFEd ... and about the guy who is already hired ... he said that was bullshit (a lie)... "It doesn't matter to me," I said, "it's code for the DFEd will make you miserable out here." What he said next broke my heart, but it's his private business and I won't repeat it. He told me that the truth is that a flight instructor like me will have more work then I know what to do with before very long ... hope he's right.
After that conversation, I delivered the check to the Director of Flight Education. I handled it well. His executive assistant had drummed up some double billing ... an accident probably ... he said, "I guess you're upset about my note to you yesterday" ... the one informing me of extra invoices ... I said - no ... not at all ... no problem ... those invoices were already accounted for in this total ... I wonder why she keeps on giving you inaccurate information, I mused ... I showed him the spread sheet that my husband built complete with invoice numbers (my husband rocks anything financial ... genius,really) ... here ... keep it, maybe it will be helpful, I said. That's it. The bad news is, I didn't get the job I wanted. The good news is, I didn't get the job I wanted. I feel good about having closure with this part of my life, both the actually flying aspect and it's companion ... ie lessons learned from living what I love (risky business).

Then I came home ... and I was a little sad ... and I opened a card that came in today's mail from someone who loves me. Me. Not super girl me, just plain ole me. And there was a CD in the card with a song on it ... and the song reminded me of the things that I think are really important ... and they don't have much of anything to do with airplanes.
I was dreading today ... it seemed like an unhappy ending. That song in a card reminded me that you can count on God. He's pretty cool, and has the whole thing figured out. I can trust Him. Maybe this is more like a beginning ... .

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Every beginning, after all, is nothing but a sequel.and the book of events is always open in the middle." -w.szymborska

Here it is.

"You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand." ~Irene C. Kassorla

I finished the New York Times Bestseller: "The Hour I First Believed" by author Wally Lamb.

"This portrayal of a couple dealing with the asymetrical effects of trauma is Lamb at his best, wholly sympathetic, deeply moving." - Washington Post Book World

I am glad I read it, though there were moments when I thought to exercise my newly acquired skill of closing the book somewhere enroute with the intention to not finish it. I'm glad I did finish it. I don't feel better ... or smarter ... for having read it, but I did dogear a couple of pages to think about as little points of interest along the way. How 'bout this:

"I teach GED English and creative writing. Mostly, the women want to write about themselves, and it helps them, you know? Gives them wings, so that they can rise above the confounding maze of their lives and, from that perspective, begin to see the patterns and dead ends of their pasts, and a way out. That's the funny thing about mazes: what's baffling on the ground begins to make sense when you can rise above it, the better to understand your history, and fix yourself." - Wally Lamb
- this character works as an educator in a women's correctional facitity.

The idea of a maze is prominent ... somewhere the author talks about a labryinth where outsiders can not get in, but those inside are unable to find their way out. The praying mantis shows up early and often ... bet if I googled it, the symbolism lost on me would make sense ... the book is well written ... no doubt ... he intentionally chooses to express himself with a more vulgar presentation then I am used to ... it's not the language or even the ideas, it's more how crudely they are expressed, and I think that's part of how it has to be for the book to move you ... maybe that's it for me, I was moved a bit, but I'm not sure that I'd rather be here, then the there, where I was before I read the book. All the threads come together in too tight a weave for me as the story ends. As a reader, I don't need every detail worked out.

I have time to read a book authored by someone rather then the FAA, and I really want a good book! And I am open to suggestions!

Next stop for me will be a book I already have in house titled, "The BOOK of GREAT BOOKS A guide to 100 World Classics"
One of the guys I fly with occassionally keeps a copy of a Steinbeck book with him at all times. Sometimes I thumb through them, Mr Steinbeck was depressing, but genius ... and I'll wish (I'm watching these wishes) I had the book at hand to think about a paragraph or two. What's amazing, and very nice, is my buddy almost always goes right to the passage I'm thinking about ... like this note:
Here is that quote you were looking for and some of the things said not immediately preceding it. They're from Sweet Thursday, the sequel to Cannery Row.

"Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wild flowers hidden in the grass."
"And isn't discontent the lever of change?"
"He had not the vanity which makes men try to be smart."
"...for how few men like their work, their lives - how very few men like themselves."
"Now discontent nibbled at him - not painfully, but constantly.
Where does discontent start? You are warm enough, but you shiver. You are fed, yet hunger gnaws you. You have been loved, but your yearning wanders in new fields. And to prod all these there's time, the bastard Time. The end of life is now not so terribly far away - you can see it the way you see the finish line when you come into the stretch - and your mind says, 'Have I worked enough? Have I eaten enough? Have I loved enough?' All of these, of course, are the foundation of man's greatest curse, and perhaps his greatest glory. 'What has my life meant so far, and what can it mean in the time left to me' And now we're coming to the wicked, poisoned dart: 'What have I contributed in the Great Ledger? What am I worth?' And this isn't vanity or ambition. Men seem to be born w/ a debt they can never pay, no matter how hard they try. It piles up ahead of them. Man owes something to man. If he ignores the debt it poisons him, and if he tries to make payments the debt only increases, and the quality of his gift is the measure of the man."

and this one from The Grapes of Wrath I think ... "After a while the faces of the watching men lost their bemused perplexity and became hard and angry and resistant. Then the women knew that they were safe and that there was no break. Then they asked, What'll we do? And the men replied, I don't know. But it was all right. The women knew it was all right, and the watching children knew it was all right. Women and children knew deep in themselves that no misfortune was too great to bear if their men were whole."

I don'tknow why I like those as I do, but ... I do like them.
... the best of Steinbeck (laughing at my goofiness here).

I've been thinking about reading books today. The back cover of the Lamb book say it's so compelling, that I will be unable to put it down ... not true, sometimes I didn't want to pick it back up. I remembered really liking the short stories in a book titled "The Ship Who Sang" ... I'm reading them again now. I like that I liked them when I was 16, but I'm enjoying the nostalgia value more then the stories. Or how about this story: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."~Ernest Hemingway. There is a project called the six word memoir where one is asked to tell their story in a mere six words.

That's how it goes with stories isn't it? Short ... long ... compelling ... depressing ... riveting (lol). Stories. I went looking for that quote and found this one:
"You must have control of the authorship of your own destiny. The pen that writes your life story must be held in your own hand." ~Irene C. Kassorla

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The senior pilot in the area, the guy I had the lunch pow wow with the other day, has been successful at pulling enough rabbits out of the aviation hat - the one here on the local stage - to keep his family and employees well fed over the years. I have tremendous respect and admiration for the guy. He also enjoys manipulating the pieces, I think. Because I believe he is a good person ... I've known him for a long time ... I am willing to ask him "What would you do?" when I find myself puzzled. He's got enough of the pieces to see the larger picture ... that picture on the lid of the puzzle box. I trust him while keeping an eye out ... he's a bit of a practical joker ... but not about something like this. He's knows this is important to me.

He suggested that I call the ... how do I write about this discreetly? ... call a decision maker up, and offer a suggestion. This suggestion: "Hire me, and I will bring my own students in to fly your planes." In a word the guy said no ... that will not work. He said it very nicely ... it was wrapped in a lot of other words. He said, you remember how it was back in 2000 and something when the hostile take-over began(his words) ... the coup (his word) ... that ousted this guy from power (yes I remember ... the coup d'etat not the coup de grace).
Well ... he's back. I can tell that he feels bad that I have been a victim of his scorched earth policy ... but ... as he said himself, I am savvy (enough to get at least some of this). I have witnessed the unfolding of events over the past decade. I think he really would prefer that I am not in the front row seating ... . I am realising, naive as I am, that this guy is trying very hard to regain control of what he sees as his. See ... I've been misinterpreting his management style ... I thought he was inept ... instead he is excruciatingly adept ... the man is cleaning house! Big, double duh!

... more on this later.

Okay, so ... If I had been listening well ... objectively ... analytically, rather then with my own little tiny agenda clogging my ears, I would have understood this long time ago ... back when we had that gear up out here ... back when all the colored pieces in the kaleidoscopes first began to fracture. He hired that guy (they wore very similar uniforms in their previous lives) and that guy began to trivialize his position ... his guy. That guy is gone. All the players in that drama are gone ... personel changes are underway ... including the spectators . My little deal ... that I still can't quite believe is notgonnahappen ... I was willing to adapt to the wishes of the new emperor ... I thought that would be enough, but this morning I woke up. The picture on the puzzle box is still unavailable to me, but enough of the pieces have been laid in place for me to finally see it ... .

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" *Thoreau ... one of my favorite quotes ... laughing at myself because in this case, I just wasn't looking because I didn't want to see. And I'm not saying I have this all figured out, but you know how sometimes in life, stuff, all of a sudden, just falls in to place ... that's how this feels. It resonates.

Day before yesterday when I talked with the guy, I said, "I have no appetite for kicking sand around in your sandbox." There was a palatable shift in his demeanor. He would like to help me find what I am going to do - aviationwise - this isn't personal to him. He knows that not honoring promises made, even if they were made by your former friends/employees is wrong. But ... that's just how it is ... it works best for him that way, and he does get to decide. He doesn't want to say I will not let you be hired here, but come on, could it be any clearer?! He has HR issues to deal with ... . I have already stated that I will not push my issue over his head in the chain of command ... . Let him have his little sandbox ... it's full of kittypoop anyway.

My buddygirl from home called this morning ... she wants to know if I am really okay ... yeah, I really am ... this has been worrying me because it just didn't make sense. But it's starting to. It's all going to be just fine ... maybe even better then fine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I like Sade ... the first two songs on my play list are hers ... added today (probably back to Enya in a few days... ). I like Jazz, I like her voice, I don't like what her songs say. I wish (yeah, I noticed I'm wasting wishes again!) she would sing better lyrics!

I sorted through her songs this morning ... looking for some to add, but as I listened to the words I realised heavy editing was in order. (I secretly like Fergie for working out, but that's between me and my iPod!)

"I don't like what her songs say" ... that is almost exactly how I feel about what I am saying my of late. The History channel, as riveting as the programing is, still amounts to sitting on one's ass losing time that can't be regained.

This morning I spoke with the FI on the phone (dangit,my font keeps on changing and I don't know why).
"How's it looking for hiring out there in January?" I wondered. I don't want to make a commitment to this track I'm looking at if there is any chance of the other working out. I am just like a horse with blinders once I start running a race. I like to go all in on my commitments. I mean, it's not really a commitment if you are already looking for all the fire exits is it?
"It's not looking very promising." was the best he could come up with before going in to what amounted to a pep talk ... reminding me of what my strengths are as a person and therefore, one would hope as a pilot (especially one looking for work). "You need to keep yourself current however you best can." he said.
I told him that I would hate taking on a few students only to drop them when something better comes along. What I didn't say is I most likely would be unable to do that. The only significant thing I've ever quit was smoking ... and just lately I'm beginning to wonder if that (smoking) was as pleasant as I remember it! I am missing that vital ingredient ... the ability to bail on what I see as a commitment. I wouldn't do that to this buddy who I'm thinking to join forces with, and I wouldn't do it to a student (unless they were just wasting their resources).

So, I may have to stop publishing posts here for awhile. I don't like my songs ... I don't like the words ... I don't like the line up and wait ... .
I know I don't sit well. I think I better put all this in a big box and let it sit for at least ... hmmm ... how long? However long it takes for me to not frustrate myself with all this angst.

I am going to play the music in the house loud ... I'm going to sing along ... and I think I'm going to refinish a sweet little table that is sitting in pieces in my garage.

By the way ... that song, Pearl ... today was the first day I have heard it. Last week I was talking with H and I said I think those 12 gates that are the entry in to heaven ... it says they are made from solid pearls. If our souls are the same size as as the current body to pearls ratio then those heavenly pearls are some big pearls. Pearls are formed via aggravation. By my calculations big pearls must required some pretty intensive aggravation! If our life experiences shape us for eternity (which I think is the whole point ... well, maybe for God's amusement as well - idk) then maybe there is something to how we choose to deal with all these aggravations ... while those pearls are being formed.
And another BTW ... I said I wouldn't, but of course I did ... go look up what the traditional anniversary gift for the 30th anniversary is. Yeah, it' a pearl. Traditional, Modern, Alternate ... all pearls.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Nazca Lines
Etched into a high plateau in Peru’s Nazca Desert, a series of ancient designs stretching more than 50 miles has baffled archaeologists for decades. Along with simple lines and geometric shapes, they include drawings of animals, birds and humans, some measuring more than 600 feet across. Because of their colossal size, the figures can only be appreciated from way up in the air—and there is no evidence that the Nazca people, who inhabited the area between 300 B.C. and 800 A.D., invented flying machines. According to ancient alien theorists, the figures were used to guide spaceships as they came in for a landing, and the lines served as runways.

Now this is an airport!

Last week I sat with the History channel on ... Wow! There were several super interesting programs on. When my husband came home for lunch and I was sitting on sofa staring at the TV ... never, ever, happens. Today I am on the History channel site looking at programing for next week... ha! I'm putting some of the shows on my calendar ... this might be a getting old kind of thing. The only show I have tried to watch with any consistency is/was Top Chef ... and that is only if I accidentally find it, because I don't know what night or time it shows!

This piece of art is amazing ... beautiful ... powerful ... graceful ... ...

I've been missing out! Ancient civilizations etc.
I've been awake now for about an hour and a half, so still under the covers listening to the fan (headphones are in another room or I'd be listening to music) and watching the pattern on my bedroom drapes appear. What will the day bring? I've been thinking about the things I'm thankful for. One "thankful" leads to another "thankful". The thankfuls intertwine ... Like the climbing rose I have so carefully trained to follow the roof line along the front porch to my home ... .
The rosebush came with the house. Originally, it was planted near the back porch. My husband, who is tall, inevitably tangled himself in it on the way towards the back door. More often then not he'd walk right in to a thorn and come in wiping blood from his forehead. I carefully removed the thorns hoping to solve the problem, but one fine summer morning I walked around the corner and that climbing rose was sheared down ... "A man should be able to come in to his own house without having to work around the rosebush from hell" ... I took what there was of the root and replanted it on the north side of the yard behind the scalloped white picket fence that my husband had built in a summer long past. The secret garden I called that area, because you could only see it if you went looking for it ... It was pretty well blocked from view by either the house or the large azaleas. I didn't hold out much hope for that rosebush, but it took hold and thrived. I carefully tied the shooting branches to the fence training them to venture in both direction and make the corner curving back 90 degrees. It took a few years, but those sweet smelling delicate pink buds began to re-appear ... Eventually, there were so many clusters of fragrant roses that you could smell them all the way upstairs where our bedroom was. Sometimes, I would open the window just a bit to capture the smell. "The rosebush from hell was scraping on the window screen trying to get in last night." My husband really had a thing for that plant. I was pretty sure it would survive another transplant ... But where to? I walked all over our lot trying to find a perfect location for that amazing rosebush. I settled on the front corner of the front porch ... as far away from the entry as possible. I installed a few small nails on the corner column driving the nail through a decorative bead ... Just in case anyone got near enough to notice ... And then I zig-zagged nylon fishing line back and forth creating a lattice. At the roof, under the eave, I screwed a few hooks in bridging them together with the fishing line.
I was nervous when it came time to move the plant. Hours were spent carefully unwinding the branches from the fence. I wanted as many long branches as possible, thinking they would adapt to the fishing line trellis. It was a major mess to move that thing! By time I had it in place it didn't look at all like I had imagined ... All weepy and broken ... dangling from a few pieces of invisible fishing line. What a mess! Now, here we are several years later. That rosebush was the first change I made to the very formal rigid landscaping that framed our front facade. Now everything out there has been updated ... uprooted and replanted. I wrapped a chain around those manicured rows of boxwoods and pulled them out with the Jeep. My husband, skeptical at first, helped me place metal edging into the ground and behind it's curvilinear border I plant pansies or petunias ... Day lilies and hydrangeas ... . It's really very pretty ... and inviting. The rose bush blooms almost continuously and plays host to several little bird nests. Yeah, it has thorns ... when they harden I gently push on them while I support the branch, they snap right off. Every flower, tiny yet perfectly formed, seems to me to be a thankful.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday ... that probably means I saw a movie last night. A few months ago my husband bought a book titled something like "101 Romantic Ideas" ... something like that. One of the ideas apparently seemed like the idea, because we have been seeing a movie every Friday night since then. I do like movies. Last night we saw "The Tourist" with Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt's babymomma. I truly enjoyed the movie ... yes it was shot primarily in Venice and that was lovely, but ... well, I want to see it again and that almost never happens. I told my husband, the only thing I woulda liked them to rethink was a sortasucky landing ... . Last week we saw "Love and Other Drugs" ... worth seeing - sweet(and surprisingly smutty). Before that we saw "Burlesque" ... loved the music, fortunately there wasn't much room for a story between the numbers.

This past few days has been interesting (again ... interesting to me is precisely what I mean, so don't get your hopes up too much). I had lunch with the "granddaddy" of local aviation activities ... I am very fond of the man even though he almost tricked me into embarrassing myself (in front of everyone) with an explanation of and to do on what turned out to be what I call the pee pee vent on an airplane ... yes it was funny, no I wasn't laughing. That was eons ago! Well, he had some good advice and a couple of students that he'd love to pass to me ... his operation does no flight training ... I did my HPA stuff with them, and made my first commercial multi engine flight (down to Miami) with him. I'm a big fan. Soooo, being that he has done pretty much everything aviation related around here I knew it was time to check in with him. So, we lunched, he advised, then we got down to catching up on the gossip. He did confirm my intuition about staying totally away from one local operation ... well two, but one I wasn't even considering because I feel uncomfortable with one of the owners.

One of my friends and I have been talking about leasing our own plane and offering instruction. I am not enthusiastic about that. Well, that idea just mutated in to something interesting. A local freight guy has a couple of small planes that he would like to make available for a reasonable hourly fee. He will cover the insurance and all the other airplane costs ... and he keeps his maintenance in tip top shape. I like his planes. So, that's what I've been crunching the numbers on ... . I think it's all going to work out just fine.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The dinner party last night was fun. The interesting thing about being a listener, rather than a talker, is you get to hear about cool stuff.

I know one of my friends will want to know about the decorations ... they were nice. I don't know who did them ... didn't look like Stanley's work. Lot's of big silver like that cake pedestal that you Southern girls serve your fabulous cakes on ... three tiered cookie servers with gorgeous Christmas cookies ... catered by that group on Magnolia. The tree was decorated with only organics ... instead of traditional ornaments they used real orchids ... those white ones with lime green throats and crimson freckled centers. They were placed near the end of each branch in clusters of three (With individual water vials hidden below). Lots of soft white lights ... pretty. I would love to know how they maintain them over the next several weeks. The buffet was sumptuous. A vegetarian's nightmare! I ate a couple of fried oysters ... those woke me up several times during the night before I was willing to get up for an antacid. Every time I woke up I was dreaming (not in a good way) about the lamb which was served on the bone. There were seven different meat dishes served ... the salad was heavy on the cheese (which I really liked) and a pasta salad (with salami) was the only other non specifically meat offering ... even the bruschetta was garnished with prosciutto! My favorite was a shrimp/corn/avocado concoction. I was seated beside a local politician (retired ... now teaching History and PoliSci in Macon county schools. His wife was the reason they were there. As I sat down I noticed she was having only salad and commented that the buffet wasn't very veggie friendly ... she said normally she wouldn't even eat cheese ... I told her "Tonight, you are a warrior!" Everyone laughed. Her husband was a wonderful dinner companion ... a black man raised here in the deep South ten years older then I, Vietnam Vet, an alumni with advanced degrees from Ivy League schools ... . Smart, funny, serious about the shrimp ... careful about his wine glass being refilled ... my kinda guy. I wasn't able to converse with her very much, but she asked for my phone number as we left, and I'm looking forward to coffee with her soon. She told me that she has two Doctorate degrees ... one an ED, the other a PhD in religion ... I smiled and said, "I don't." She busted out laughing and said, "You are good people." I look forward to becoming acquainted with her ... we'll probably become friends. To her left was a younger couple ... I think they are both librarians. I asked them if they knew our friend HG. Yes! They said they love the Gs ... I do too!

Must be close friends because they knew all about the recent promotion.

Christmas break has officially begun ... my children will be out of school next week. I am soaking in the quiet and gathering cookie ingredients, gingerbread house candy, bits and pieces for craft projects ... developing a game plan.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

1 cup Cous Cous
1 can chicken broth + enough water to make 2 cups of liquid
(no beer would not be a good substitute here)
fruits and vegetables cut up
(Here I used 1 apple, a handful of raisins, red onion, celery - think about the texture when you're choosing the veggie or fruit ... I think bananas would be yucky in this, but a ripe pear would be delicious. Do not substitute the veggies from the left over half of yesterday's Subway Sandwich)
pine nuts (or what ever you like. Sometimes i use pumpkin seeds of pecans or walnuts - cashews would be good ... roast them in the skillet and remove before adding the oil)
garlic and cinnamon and cayenne or other hot if you like and salt - to taste
Oil - like olive oil or even butter (butter burns and that will ruin the whole dish, so keep an eye on it)

How to: Roast the nuts on low heat in skillet. Remove and set aside. Heat oil - medium heat - about two tablespoons full. Add chopped fruits and vegetables ... everything will look better if it is cut to about the same size. Add the seasoning and stir ... for a few minutes ... until things start looking cooked. Add the cous cous, the nuts and the liquid ... stir. Let it cook until the liquid is absorbed. about ten more minutes. Easy ... delicious ... really, everyone in the house really likes this.

This summer I started answering questions about how to cook this or that ... the guys don't know how to cook. Really?! Now many of them are at the regionals and I send them recipes when I think of something easy, cheap and delicious ... like this one. It could be a side dish with any cut of meat, or stand alone. This recipe is crazy easy to prepare and seems kind of exotic ... but not too ... because of the cinnamon. Guaranteed to impress the flight attendants or who ever they can talk into eating with them. These guys sit around drinking a lot on their non scheduled days. I'm telling them to learn a foreign language or how to cook a few really great meals. Big dummies.

Monday, December 6, 2010

I'm not always optimistic.

Like tonight ... it's pecking at the vulnerable spot in my psyche ... you coulda been running marathons ... you coulda been doing that very cool hot yoga class ... you shoulda saved this money for that white water rafting trip down the Colorado river and in to the Grand Canyon ... or hiking the trail.

I am going to dress up for a very elegant dinner party tomorrow evening. My big whoop tomorrow? I'm going to Victoria's Secret to see if they have some festive ... yet refined ... hosiery ... something to snazz up the very demure black dress. I will be amazed at the voluptuousness of the menu ... and the flowers and the glitter ... there will be a little jazz ensemble playing discreetly ... we will chat over them, never even noticing when the songs change. I will thank them on the way out ... listening to them and admiring the variety of proteins on the buffet will be the two high points of the evening ... they will look surprised ... they are used to being invisible. I won't be expected to talk ... I do not have a PhD. I am used to being decorative.

Well ... whatever. It could be so much worse ... . I'm reading two different books right now. One, The Ship Who Sang (Anne McCaffrey) the other, The Hour I First Believed (Wally Lamb). I really liked The Ship Who Sang ... back when I was 16 ... it hasn't aged well ... the basic premise is fine it is just dated. The Hour ... Columbine ... the opinion is still out on that one.

I am proud of this recent accomplishment. I am so very sad that I haven't flown since the check ride ... and very little before that (this year). I am sad that I do not have a crappy little job. I am sad that I have flown with guys who are super interested in the new pool construction ... looking at the ground rather then in to the building of a student pilot ... . They are still flying, while I am cooling my jets on the ground ... . I really do not like it when fortunate people feel sorry for themselves! It's just ridiculous!
Well ... they're off! Re-injured knee that can't drive ... braces off and teeth visiting the dentist/hygienist ... verabradley lunch bag left on computer table ... all little day planners.

These hang in my kitchen. Two created the two outside pieces - kiwi. I wanted to mount them to something and hang them ... . To me, they represent taking pieces and making something interesting out of them. These are bent wire and window screen. I painted pieces of scrap lumber ... and collaborated with Two to make the leaf ... I needed three elements.

That's what I'm trying to do with my time. My expectation, as I worked on earning the CFI certificate was that I would have a job (and the ability to pay back the costs) as soon as it was completed. Stuff changed. Leadership changed and demand changed ... where I want to work may actually be over-staffed ... January will tell the story. The other local place has students, but no planes. They say they will have planes in January. The place that is definitely hiring ... we're decided that the commute is impractical ... I think I can work, but I also manage the pop ups that my family situation requires. Like today ... lunch could stay on the computer table, but the doctor visits are all me. So, I am looking at what I have to work with and trying to figure out the details on what can be created with those assets. In my town, the community at large is under served by the aviation infrastructure ... all of the resources go to the university program. That's why someone like me, a private citizen, can be bumped from flight training two weeks short of completion. It makes sense. A degree plan that hinges on certification of pilots has to take precedence over the goals of local pilots. In the past, once a private citizen began a certificate, their training spot was secure. That's not how it went for me, or this last batch of advanced non-University students. The PVT citizen pilots were maintained because it worked with the current schedule ... gotta keep those planes in the air! Well ... I don't want to fall in to that hole ... it's business. That was a lesson I showed up late for, but now I get it. There are a lot of local people who would like to learn how to fly. Some of them can afford to indulge that desire. I've been trying to think of ways to provide service to that community. A course of ground school could be offered through parks and rec ... the winter brochure is already out though. I'm going to talk to them this week about getting this offered in the spring. We have a brand new terminal facility ... they have no pilot training options, but they have wonderful class room space. It is co-owned by the city. I think the city would be interested in using the space for a once a week ground school for the kind of citizens who want to learn more about what makes airplanes fly. I think a ground school group could/would become the core group of a little flying club. I know those guys could partner in a plane and more importantly insurance for their airplane. I've got a lot of stuff lying around not being used ... it's represented by those precious little green bits of plastic with images of the Wright Brothers with my signature on them. I am missing a couple of vital pieces ... first students ... later, when the students need it, a plane. The students are here ... and they have some green stuff in their pockets too. I just need to find the way ... a way ... to help them get started towards reaching their goals. So that is what I am working on this week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”
~ Seneca

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
~ Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century)

“Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.”
~ James Dean (1931-1955)

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”. and
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
~ Howard Thurman quotes (American Theologian, Clergyman and Activist. 1900-1981)

The Seat

I had a dream about fifteen years ago that I still remember ... I am going to write about it knowing that I can't really do it justice.

The dream began with me sitting in the left seat of a Cessna 172. It was like I woke up there ... or became conscious there. You know how you feel when you wake up in a strange place ... like maybe your in-laws home ... and you lie still, disoriented, but calm? That's how this felt. I sat up straight (in the dream) and after a quick look at the instrument panel I began to look out side. What I saw was depressing. Visibility was severely limited due to smoke and just general greyness ... at this point the dream was only in black and white ... washed in pervasive bleakness. Nothing seemed right. I didn't know what would make it right, I didn't know why it seemed so wrong, but it did. Everything was a mess ... weedy taxiways ... rusted out fencing ... potholes pocked the runways... a thick haze hung everywhere. I sat still, looking. It looked like a war zone. Nothing made sense. Desperate neglect clung to everything. Movement in my two o'clock caught my attention. An airplane with a lot of damage was limping along at a snails pace. I studied it ... it was the first thing like that (an airplane) that I had ever seen. I leaned forward to get a better look ... and inadvertently pushed the yoke forward ... that's weird I thought. As I watched the airplane, I began to notice other airplanes ... there was a rusted out pile of them over there ... wreckage seemed to be the norm ... crumpled wings, collapsed gear, dangling props. Then I started to become aware of airplanes in various states of flight ... there was one taxing successfully ...and over there, one was accelerating ... uh oh it found a pothole. There goes one! How exciting! It quickly disappeared through the canopy of muck.

My attention came back inside the airplane. I tentatively tested the back on forth of the yoke ... oh! ... it slides sideways as well. As I played with it I started to hear sounds ... engine sounds. Cranking. Choking out. Grinding starters. There were so many different sounds ... whirring little engines, bigger round engines all the way up to the silken whine of a jet engine. Some of them sounded strong ... some fuel starved or worse still clacking as they fell apart. There were other sounds ... the sounds of metal striking metal ... the sounds of airplanes crumpling back to the ground. I craned my neck for a better view ... and noticed my wings. Wings! I am one of those I thought. My excitement was short lived as I quickly realized I had no idea of how to operate this thing. I could see that for the most part,they seemed to be self taught ... and many were fatally unsuccessful. I was sitting there weighing the risks ... of course, I had no idea yet that there was such a thing as a master switch ... or a key ... I hadn't yet realized that there were control surfaces ... I was just at that point where I was aware of how tiny, how narrow my awareness was. I hadn't even realized that there was an empty seat right there beside me.

I sat there without hope. I felt despair seep in to me ... it was oppressive ... . I knew that I was built to fly, but I was ill equipped to figure out how to do the first thing towards that. As I sat there the sky began to open up. I've never seen anything like what happened in my dream. Blue sky began to appear as the dreariness dissipated ... golden light washed the airfield ... it was as though everything stopped and began over. The runway seemed to repave and re stripe ... miraculously. What was going on here? I felt frantic to take it all in ... it felt like I was taking huge gulps of crisp clean air. And there, shimmering in the beautiful sky was an airplane. The prettiest, sleekest, most amazing airplane you can imagine ... it was perfect. I was ... awestruck ... filled with joy. I was so overwhelmed as I watched it land and roll out passing me ... I felt so full of joy and wiped silent tears from my eyes ... how can I be laughing and crying at the same time I wondered. I strained to keep the airplane in sight ... oh, how I wished I could move ... even just a little bit so that I could catch just a tiny glimpse ... .

is what this is supposed to look like I thought ... that is flying.

As I sat there trying to absorb the wonder of it, I heard a tapping sound and as I looked to my right there was a person standing there. I was stunned to suddenly realize that I was not an airplane ... I was a person sitting inside an airplane ... an airplane that I didn't have the first clue how to operate. "DeAnn..." and I have a name I thought ... and he knows it! He seemed happy ... it was infectious. Who is this I wondered. "DeAnn, if you open the door and let me in, I will teach you how to fly ... " For the first time I saw the empty seat ... and the other yoke (whatever that is I thought). "... you can trust me." he said. I reached for the door latch. It was an easy choice.

That's where the dream ended. And the truth is, that's where this adventure began.

A few years ago some one asked, "Do you ever see God when you're up there flying around?"

I see where He has recently been.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Several pilots who are in the position to know think the industry is on the up swing. I am going to hang on to that idea over these next several months. One of my life strategies is to build a box - euphemistically speaking - with a timer on it. I put stuff in that box. For example, I ask myself will this matter a month from now? If it won't matter then it's not that big a deal today ... if I don't know, I put it in the box and check back.
Sometimes a situation that does matter and will always matter comes up, but it's a situation that requires more capacity then is currently available ... like another person or maybe a different season ... those things I put in a box that times out after a specific length of time ... like saying good bye to a friendship where issues aren't able to be resolved ... I might save the issue for a year or two ... hoping ... , but if it is unresolvable then I jettison it off my star ship eventually. The thing I like about that is I can enjoy the good aspects of the time spent in the friendship with out the hurtful aspects lingering. An issue with my mom would be a good example of that ... keep the mom, but stop hoping for resolution, just work with what is available.
Larger issues I may put in a bigger box with longer expiration dates on them. I noticed just this year that I do that. I've know that I do that, but not on a conscious level ... . I said in some of my ramblings here that I run out of runway without markers ... meaning I have a lot of patience for things to stop until suddenly I don't. I'm starting to think that this coping strategy may not be as great as I've thought it was. One big flaw is ... hmmm, how do I do a quick background?
Mrs. Cook, one of my HS teachers assigned a writing project where the student is to describe what the inside of their head would look like if one could walk around in there. I didn't save the paper, but I distinctly remember describing a room (among others) that opened up as you strolled through it ... where memories were saved ... it looked a lot like an art gallery, with multi media presentations ... and tucked in, very tidy, were little storage areas for things ... memories ... that didn't need to be on open display for whatever reason. As I wrote the paper I thought those little boxes represented the part of our brain that we don't actively use, or use yet. I'm sure the whole computer analogy would be stronger, but we didn't have that technology at our fingertips back in the mid seventies.
So one big flaw is ... the boxes don't hold stuff forever. The boxes get kinda ragtag and have to be replaced or reorganized. And a huge problem is; shelving stuff that I don't want to work on now, even in it's tidy little box, is what some people may call avoidance. When that stack of boxes comes tumbling down it makes a surprising mess.
(I have nice boxes in my house for holding/hiding clutter. I don't like to label the boxes because it's a little unsightly ... it makes finding things unnecessarily like a treasure hunt and now that I think about that, I may get the ole sharpie out.)
I like the idea of prioritising stuff with a timer ... I don't like the idea of avoiding issues and calling it patience. I'm thinking about that today.