Monday, September 24, 2007

Flights of not-so Fancy

Let me begin by stating a disclaimer, perhaps two or three: 1. I love my husband. 2. I’m not prone to panic attacks in the least. C. I’m not afraid to board or fly on a jet.

Tom has had his private pilot’s license since well before we met. Over the past 16 years, he has asked me to go flying with him, and I’ve always managed to skillfully avoid doing so. Twice he has managed to convince me to ride with him at the local 4th of July fly-in, both of us as passengers in a cramped 4-seat aircraft. These adventures into the sky were nerve-wracking and I was grateful when they ended, but they were manageable.

Flying is costly, and having not yet achieved “independently wealthy” status, along with having a family to support, (side note: refer to “oxymoron” in Webster’s Dictionary to define preceding portion of sentence) Tom has not had opportunity to pursue his interest nearly as much as he would like. His dreams and goals require that he attains a minimum number of hours in flight, and he has been working toward that.

One of the many advantages to building flight time is that Tom can take passengers with him. The kids have flown with him, and loved it. Friends have flown with him, and loved it. I, as mentioned, have remained firmly planted on the ground, and loved it. I’ve heard, however, that all good things must come to an end.

Over the past few weeks, I had been pondering the idea of telling Tom that I would like to fly the friendly skies with him. Not so much because I had a burning desire to watch the buildings below me reach smaller and smaller proportions, but rather because I knew it would mean a lot to Tom if I showed more interest in his interests. I’ve been reading several books on making marriages stronger, and wouldn’t you know it, they all say that couples should spend more time together pursuing common recreational activities. (No, not THAT activity, although that's not a bad idea, either!) Figuring I probably wouldn’t be successful at convincing him that sewing, baking, or yakking on the phone are all wonderful ways to enrich our lives together, I swallowed my fears and rode to the airport with Tom and Savannah recently. It didn’t take too long for that fear to be regurgitated several times over.

Tom has told me many times that he is very cautious when flying, and exerts extra effort in performing pre-flight inspection, etc. I do not doubt that one bit. I watched him go through his routine with precision, both outside and in the cabin. He made sure the doors were secured, seat belts were in position, and all the equipment was in proper working order. He started the engine. I swallowed. He finished checking the panel, and began taxiing out to the runway. I readjusted my shirt, blew out a deep breath, and swallowed. He radioed his activity. (I’m sure there’s a technical name for that!) He got the plane in position on the runway, and we were off.

Lamaze class was in full operation at this point! It’s difficult to deep breathe, pray, squeeze your eyes tight shut...and swallow...all at the same time. I seem to recall during Lamaze class that we were taught to have a Focal Point. I seem to recall that requires keeping the eyes open. I was actually thinking all these things as I felt the plane lift off. “Oh my gosh. Oh geez. Oh my gosh.” I stopped short, by a mere millimeter, of an actual plea for help. I was cognizant of Savannah’s presence in the back seat, and didn’t want to seem like a complete idiot to someone who was flying for the second time! She was doing well, and I wished to avoid transplanting any portion of my current anxiety issues to her malleable mind.

We had been airborne for about a minute when I opened my eyes for the first time. I thought it would help me realize the difference in flying and roller coasters, which I absolutely hate! That long climb up the rickety, clanking track, knowing the inevitable lift-your-backside-off-the-seat force is waiting for you, not to mention fearing your heart is literally going to explode out your ears on the down drop....I hate roller coasters. Looking down at the fields, I reassured myself we weren’t at Cedar Point, and I could DO this!

Opening my eyes encouraged panic, and closing my eyes encouraged dizziness...and possibly other problems I didn’t care to deal with. I really wasn’t interested in exiting this plane covered in a second helping of my lunch - it wasn’t my favorite the first time around. At some point, I ceased the deep breathing exercises, as they weren't tremendously helpful. Besides, the last time I used the practice, I at least got to cuddle with the fruit of my labor after the last "hee hee hee ha"...I resorted to the last technique for maintaining my dignity...

“I want to go back, now.”

Tom immediately obliged and began the descent. I’m fairly certain I didn’t make this statement forcefully, so it must have been my current skin tone (green face, white knuckles) that convinced him that my flying career needed to be put on hold. The landing was uneventful (and unseen by writer). 6 minutes of flight time can now be added to my “I Think I Can, I Thought I Could” list.

I tried to avoid telling this story to anyone while my kids were in earshot, but alas, my boys overheard Tom tell someone that we were only 300 feet in the air when I requested re-entry. Suffice to say, it's a good thing I don't embarrass easily! I also found out that the reason it seemed to take so long to land is that Tom had to climb another 500 feet to be able to get into the landing pattern. Had I known that, I might have just taken my chances with the secured door, and prayed for a trampoline to miraculously appear!

I have flown on jets many times, and other than an initial adrenaline rush during take-off, it’s always been a pleasant experience. I can’t explain this by saying I’m afraid to fly. I am afraid of heights to a degree, but this phobia isn’t incapacitating in any way. I simply avoid ladders and edges of tall buildings! I’ve been riding with Tom on the ground for 16 years without incident. I know he’s more conscientious about his flying habits than he is about driving, and neither situation has ever been called into question. The problem lies with me. It’s an opportunity to hire a Flight Therapist! However, a temporary solution to this problem will have to be implemented.

I suggest that Tom help me bake brownies.

Roger that!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rules are Made to Be Broken

This has served me well for a couple of years now. Some people appreciate my sense of humor and ask for a copy of the list for their own use. Others aren't quite so amused. (ouch???...)

To Family, Friends, Bill Collectors, Salesmen, and other nefarious do-gooders: (especially those of the salesmen category)

School has begun!! Woo Hoo!!

In the best interest of my sanity, and therefore everyone around me, I do hereby establish some ground rules for homeschooling efficiency:

1. If I don’t answer the phone, it’s probably because we are knee-deep in a complicated pre-algebra problem. Use the answering machine, please.

2. Don’t expect your call to be returned promptly, unless you’re legitimately screaming “9-1-1” - NOTE: If it’s legitimate, you shouldn’t be calling me anyway: Call the real “9-1-1”!!

3. Unless your name is Ed McMahon, (is he still alive?) please don’t just “drop by for a spot of tea”. It will be a detriment to our routine and extend our school day, which will not make for a happy evening at our home. Besides, I don’t drink tea.

4. If there is a “Do Not Disturb” billboard in our front yard, (or a small sign on our front door) please don’t take it too personally. I KNOW you need to show me your latest hair color, but chances are good that it won’t fade before we get through this darn grammar lesson, so hold your horses. Oh, the above-mentioned Bill Collectors CAN take the billboard personally - go away.

5. Kids play outside during the day. That does not mean our school day is over.

6. We are busy learning. This takes precedence over phone conversations, laundry, mopping the kitchen, doughnuts, and even Wal-mart! (Believe it or not!!!)

7. These rules are not written in stone, but it’s some pretty sturdy half-set cement that will take a lot of water to dissolve, so don’t expect much to change.

8. These rules apply to EVERYONE.

9. These rules apply Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 3 PM.

---See Tom with questions!

The Pepper Mill

Note to self:

1. When they say “wear gloves” if you’re messing with Hob-n-Arrow peppers, do it!
2. If you forget to follow this advice, prepare to spend the next 8 hours with your hands wrapped around ice cubes and dunked in freezing water.
3. Vow to always, always, always! refill the ice tray as soon as you empty it.
4. Plan to figure out a way to sleep comfortably with your hands in the water bowl (and remember to pray that the ol’ “dip a sleeping person’s fingers in water and see if the person wets the bed” trick is just a myth).
5. Forget the suggested methods of milk, vegetable oil, and vinegar baths for curing the burning sensation.
6. Imagine that your entire body was suffering from this burning sensation and once again thank God for sending his Son to save you from eternal damnation!
7. Blame the imagination mentioned in number 6 on the Rex Bullock and Wayne Friday revival services you were dragged to each fall, with said revival services always coinciding with the Hillsdale County fair
8. Remind your kids that you aren’t as strict as they think you are, because you actually let them go to their own local county fair, seeing as how you don’t think it’s a particularly sinful activity.
9. Toss into this conversation how you weren’t allowed to wear pants, cut your hair, wear jewelry (although you were permitted to accept a pretty gold watch from a boyfriend because it was “useful”), say the word “butt”, OR watch TV (except when you snuck over to your Granny’s friend, Opal’s, apartment to watch “Dynasty” with your sister, who would never tell because she idolized Linda Evans).
10. Leave out the part about how you liked Jackie Collins while wondering if Linda Evans is still married to Yani (or was it Kenny G?).
11. Laugh hysterically at the memory of you and your sister figuring out that you could LISTEN to Dynasty on the radio if you cranked it up really loud, while you WATCHED Dynasty from your dining room window through the neighbor’s living room window, and how mad you got if Mom had a Friday night off work.
12. Don’t explain to the kids why you’re laughing hysterically. They might doubt their current hopeful misconception that you’re actually sane, and will have nothing in later life to justify the expense of 4 therapists.
13. Avoid the whole process by saying “Thanks, but no thanks” if your niece, who eats green peppers like apples, offers you anything hotter than a warm day in January!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Botulism, Anyone?

This week, I accomplished something I have planned to do for years - I actually SUCCESSFULLY canned something! Well, I use "successfully" with the term "right to recall the witness" attached, since the true test of success will be some months down the road, after we have popped the seal, partaken of the jar's contents...and remained alive.
When I was little, Mom canned with a pressure cooker. "You kids stay out of here, this thing could blow up!" I think everyone I've ever mentioned that to nodded their heads in agreement. And we kids get yelled at for running with scissors?? At least if we fall, it's only ourselves we hurt - we don't demolish an entire neighborhood block in the name of storing food for winter - harumph!
Anyway, I now have several jars of salsa and tomatoes for chili sitting on my stove, waiting to find a home on a shelf somewhere. Aren't you supposed to put these things in a root cellar, or something? I'd store them in my basement, but I have bats down there. (Some people have bats in their belfry, but I find they work much better if I keep them where I can see them.)

I'm going to cross something off my Life's Goal checklist - red pen, please.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Speaking My Mind

Sometimes it isn't always a good idea to say what you're thinking. Honesty is the best policy, I always say...but then again -

Recently, when I walked into the post office, I was nearly thrown into a gagging fit at the putrid smell that permeated the air. The confined building reeked of dog droppings - BIG dog droppings. So much so, that I actually walked around the corner looking for the offending pile, which I didn't find. As I was considering peering into the trash can to see if some brainless citizen thought it permissible to dispose of animal refuse in a public facility, the employee door opened and the (generally non-friendly) post-mistress appeared in the small hallway where I was collecting my magazines, solicitations, and as-usual ill-timed bills from our 3x5 mailbox. I asked her what the smell was, and she informed me that popcorn had been popped earlier in the day, to which I replied that it didn't smell like popcorn. When she asked me what it smelled like, I told her - dog poop. Of course, she blessed me with a funny look, which became even funnier (aka annoyed) when I questioned, "Did you actually EAT that popcorn?!?" She wasn't amused, but then again, neither was I.

It's hardly professional to be tossing noxious fumes masquerading as edible nutrition at innocent people attempting to retrieve the latest credit card offers, but that's our tax dollars at work.

Maybe they should offer a course to postal workers - "How Not to Burn Popcorn at Work 101" - sandwich that right in between "Cramming Too Much into the Mailboxes For Which We Charge Too Much 303" and "Fund Our Retirement by Over-Inflating the Price of a Stamp 505"

Around this same time, I saw an ice-cream truck man driving around our town, playing the usual irritate-the-heck-outta-the-parents music to attract the kids to his truck and charge them 3 times too much for a popsicle. This man was smoking. The man smoking did not sit well with me. A day or two later, he was on his merry way down our street, music blaring, cigarette in hand. I grabbed the hand sanitizer bottle and ran outside to get his attention. Once he stopped his vehicle, (assuming, most likely, he had a sure sale close by) I proceeded to offer him the bottle of GermX, with the stern, motherly, slightly bossy tone of voice telling him I would not permit my children to buy ice cream from a person who had a cigarette hanging from his mouth. It was gross, and he was setting a very poor example for his customers. He did not comprehend why I would not want his products. "Even though it's wrapped in plastic??" Ummmmmm......NO thank you. He wasn't amused, but then again, neither was I.

Maybe it's me...maybe I need to increase the dosage on my "don't bite other people's heads off" medication...maybe I should take a vacation...but by golly, use the intelligence quota God gave you SOMEtime before you die!! Those things don't roll-over to your next life, you know!