Saturday, January 31, 2009

Heroes

Long before “Miracle on the Hudson,” I’ve been fascinated ~ in awe if you will you ~ by the brave men (and women!) who pilot both commercial and military aircraft.

I think this fascination stems from my own Cowardice when it comes to abandoning good old terra-firma! For practicality reasons, yes, I’ve flown here, there n’ everywhere without incident … but still make a conscious effort to offer a sincere thanks to our pilot at the conclusion of each safe journey.

During the 70’s, I remember our covey of gal-pals being capital-letter-Envious of a chum who actually dated a Thunderbird. In fact, one of Sherri’s bedroom walls was dominated by an over-size photo of the two posing in front of his aircraft. What’s curious? I’d be hard-pressed to recall his name or face … he may have looked like a troll, but s’true what they say about a man in uniform! Forget football … you gotta be an Air Force hero to get along with the beau-ti-ful girls!

Now Hubby is a huge fan of military aircraft and devotes long hours to RC ~ building and flying scale aircraft. Hence, I’ve become a (reluctant) participant, watching hours of grainy combat video and hearing impassioned debates re. the merits of certain wing structures. (Yawn.)

Shouldn’t have come as a surprise then, when he presented me the opportunity to visit an F-16 simulator. I was repelled, but anxious at the same time to confront my fears. So, I allowed myself to be buckled in a 6-point harness (8-point? 10-point? …. think completely trussed!) I promised to keep my eyes open … remember to breathe … and try to enjoy the surround-audio/video.

Well, I didn’t throw up … but was thoroughly chagrined at my inability to keep my feet on the floor. Come the first roll-over, both legs “took flight” in a startling and most UNattrative dance above my head.

Afterwards, I asked in all sincerity … when rookie pilots train for these sorts of maneuvers, are they outfitted with little stirrup-thingies bolted to the floor in which to place their feet?

Incredulous looks. Although we couldn’t really afford it, I was Determined to give her another try; to focus on keeping both legs firmly planted on the floor. (“Up in the air, Junior Birdman, up in the air, upside down!”) Ya, right.

So, these days when we’re sitting in the back and Luke AFB finest come streaking overhead, I still get goose bumps … and thank God for their talent and passion.

But just in case anyone knows, how IS it they learn to keep their legs in one place?........ will you please let me know?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mommy-isms

Like many folks, we marked the New Year accompanied by the creeping, crawling, aching crud. (Think, Thera-flu served in a champagne flute.) I’ve become accustomed to the ritual … but was wholly unprepared for recent news stories bashing Vicks Vaporub. Color me crestfallen.

Midst one early-morning coughing spasm, I was surprised by a sudden, biting emotion: I want my momma!

Now, mamma’s been gone for 5 years, but memories of childhood fevers make her absence even more hurtful.

Circa, 1950’s: At the first sign of a sniffle or sore throat, out came the ceremonial application of Vicks… liberally coated from chest to throat, my neck swaddled in an ancient strip of flannel and securely pinned. Salt-water gargle, a nearby vaporizer and extra steamer blanket completed the ritual. On really special occasions, she’d allow me to come downstairs to watch TV… to languish on the living room sofa ~ which boasted not one, but two (top and bottom!) freshly ironed sheets.
Warmed “honey milk” and tapioca pudding ….… why, being sick was practically pleasurable!

Let the experts say what they will, Vicks still has a place in my medicine cabinet … and in my heart.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sins of the Fathers

During an emotional visit to Pearl Harbor’s U.S.S. Arizona Memorial years ago, I recall being surprised and somewhat offended at the presence of Japanese tourists.

My initial reaction was, "How dare they?" Turning to my companion, “That would be like my traveling to Hiroshima wearing my high-school cardigan.”

OK, so I wasn’t even alive when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, and yes, I drive a Toyota. But, Dad was a WWII Navy man prior to our family’s relocation to Los Alamos…. where my ‘68 high-school yearbook depicts a group of smiling teenagers sitting astride replicas of Fat Man and Little Boy. Never mind that my father was merely a security officer for the then-Atomic Energy Commission.... I’m enormously proud of the work those men (and women) did ~ and continue to do on the “Hill.” (I’ve digressed, but you get the irony.)

So there in the middle of a Hawaiian funk I missed it, but later learned that those “interloper tourists” at the Memorial were spotted silently weeping.
Color me, ashamed.

Fast-forward, 2009:
A chronic nail-biter, I’m reduced to concealing my 10 ragged stubs under a pretty acrylic coat. French tips, if you must know. :)

Unfortunately, this disguise requires bi-weekly maintenance; hence, my carrot-and-stick dilemma. Am I the only lady of a “certain age” who feels uncomfortable patronizing the Vietnamese nail salons that have cropped up everywhere? I mean, come on! Seems we go to sleep and viola’ the next morning, here’s another!

Call me paranoid (OK, I’m paranoid), but I’d enjoy the experience lots more if it didn’t involve some impossibly pretty techie taking my hands in hers … shaking her head at the chewed cuticles … then giggling with her co-workers in a foreign tongue for the next 45 minutes. One might reason, they’re just recalling “Meet the Fokkers” … I don’t think so.

Once after being nicked by a tech’s Dremel tool (without benefit of an "I'm sorry"), I made a note to ask Hubby… did he pick up any Vietnamese dialect during his 60’s tour of duty? Then, “You suppose they’re too young to understand ‘Charlie’”? Always the Tolerant One, he just shakes his head … you don’t even want to go there. (I hate it when he’s right.)

So, I originally began this post a couple months ago, but really want to say that I’ve found a new Happy Place to take my fingers. Yes, it’s apparently owned-and-operated by Vietnamese, but these folks speak mostly English and giggle lots less. In fact, my favorite tech is a lady about my age with a sweet, sweet soul. We visit about many things, but our histories stay hidden. I reckon that’s for the best.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Storyteller

OK, I'm sometimes slow on the uptake. While I've been a fan of J. A. Jance for years, I only happened on her personal website over the holidays. Shortly thereafter, I was immersed in the Great Lady’s own blog, smiling at her invitation to “Keep in Touch”!

Well, what the heck! I composed a brief message and hit “send.” Whoa! …Less than an hour later, here’s a response! And not just a “thank you for visiting” rubber-stamp template….. but a warm 3 paragraphs, first bemoaning Seattle’s weather, then saying, “As to your question? No one has offered to turn ANY of my books into movies. And, until I'm done with writing them at some ripe old age, I'd just as soon they didn't. For all the reasons you mention.”

That does it; I want to go meet her! The on-line itinerary has her slated to appear in Scottsdale on the 5th. (Uh-oh, I just can’t miss watching my Longhorns whoop Ohio State.) But wait a minute, she’s appearing in Tempe on Tuesday!

OK, this calls for a Plan: While my workplace is near spitting distance from that venue, I’ve become terminally allergic to navigating after dark. So, I make plans to leave work mid-afternoon, drive 35 miles west, walk the dogs, gather hubby-the-chauffeur, then rewind another 40-miles east.

Umm, we’ve never attended a book signing, but I’m pretty sure this means we have to purchase something? (Being a voracious readers, were it not for the Litchfield Park public library, we’d be like Tennessee Ernie Ford, owing OUR souls to the Company Store, aka Barnes n’ Noble!)

Then... what if she’s not a very nice person? (Ya, I’ve encountered a few celebrity “pains” in my days.)

Well, I’m delighted to say that in spite of the small turn-out, the lady is Real. (And I’m real big on “Real.”) Down to earth, seemingly laid-back, Jance invites photo ops, answers questions, and most importantly, listens – really listens -- with this straight-on gaze, leaving one to believe they’re the only person in the room; that she has all the time in the world.

When it’s time for the requisite speech, Jance casually turns to her oversize purse, and retrieves the cutest little mauve-colored taser. (No, it’s not merely a prop; but that’s another story.) Having just read her latest book, I struggle to suppress a giggle. She cautions me with a wink, “let’s not spoil it for the others.” Funny? OMG, we had tears in our eyes at her self-depreciating humor.

Uh, I just realized this sounds awfully gushing. But it’s darn rare that at this time in my life someone truly impresses me. And while I’m normally loathe to recommend books and movies (isn’t that sooo subjective?) if anyone’s in the mood for an honestly enjoyable read, check her out!

Meanwhile, I might investigate hosting a taser party of my own.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Passing Panorama

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.

During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.

When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bucket Lists and Daydreams

So, I'm all the time raggin' Hubby about his endless channel-surfing .. but must confess, I do the same thing with this mouse. Thank you, everyone in "bloggerland" for providing such entertaining and heart-warming glimpses into your lives!

Tho' I've not seen the movie, many of you have carefully chronicled your own "Bucket Lists", and I've an itch to do the same.

At first reflection ... this life's been so amazing and very blessed, there's nothing left to long for. But (there's always a 'but'!) my imagination soon took flight. Obviously, I stand a better chance to win the PowerBall or be struck by lightning than I do actually fulfilling some of these ... but here's my "baker's dozen", straight from the heart:

  1. Spend a year RV-ing across the U.S. and Canada.
  2. Ride a thoroughbred around the track at Churchill Downs. (I once confided this to my BFF, who ever helpful, suggested we go put a quarter in the mechanical pony up at Wal-Mart then she'd stand in front and throw mud in my face. What a gal!)
  3. Visit Russia.
  4. Interview Donald Trump (one of my heroes) over a leisurely lunch.
  5. Go ice-skating at Rockefeller Center.
  6. Take a carriage ride in Central Park.
  7. Take a lie-detector test. (Not too proud of it now, but I used to be a pretty accomplished fibber. 'Just think it would be fun to see if I could beat it!)
  8. Hold a live Koala bear.
  9. Live in an A-frame cabin with a natural stone fireplace, somewhere in the Rockies.
  10. Spend a day behind the scenes in an air traffic control tower at a major airport. (Despite my real Fear of flying, I'm fascinated by the whole process!)
  11. Have rhinoplasty, botox ... the whole shebang! (This, from someone whose previous plastic surgery went horribly wrong .. guess I'll never learn!)
  12. Spend a week or so with the writers of a favorite TV show, say "Grey's Anatomy." (Is each writer assigned a certain character? How does the dialogue and story line actually come about?)
  13. Ride a mechanical bull. (Are my insurance premiums current?)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Um-um Good!

So, when a decision was made to cancel our company's annual Christmas party, other ingenious minds suggested we make our own decorations and stage a Pot-Luck luncheon. Whoa ... Just picturing ALL that food still makes my tummy ache ... but it was a hit!

For someone unaccustomed to cooking, I chose the path of least resistance ... a quick n' easy slow-cooker sausage dip. Well, color me flabbergasted at the response ... 3rd shift practically licked the bottom of the pot, and there were several requests for the recipe.

With SuperBowl parties being planned as we speak, I thought I'd share:
  • 1 tube Jimmy Dean pork sausage (mild or spicy, depending on preference)
  • 1 8-oz. package Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 8-oz. can Ro-Tel (original) diced tomatoes and green chilies (drained)
  • Crumble and fry sausage, then drain well.
  • Add cream cheese and Ro-Tel and mix by hand.
Tastes best when made the night before and refrigerated -- then warmed in a crock-pot. Note: I tripled the recipe to fit our crock-pot and serve 40-50 persons.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Check!

Is it too late to make my New Year's resolution?

Like Johnny Mercer advised us, "You gotta Ac-centuate the positive ...." Wise counsel, indeed.

And wasn't it Bambi's mom who cautioned, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." (Ohh, the scars on my tongue! - LOL)

It wouldn't be fair to promise I'll post only saccharine sentiments. (Truth be told, I really used to wish someone would slap Pollyanna to the curb!) But, I realize life's too darn short to dwell on the negatives ... at least without a healthy splash of humor.

So, I'll do my best ... and consider locating a nice cyber trash receptacle for any negative outcroppings.

Two .. oh .. oh .. Nine? That does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?