I haven’t been able to write this week because Murphy showed up again and unleashed his minions on my computers effectively shutting down both my desktops and my laptop all at the same time. He’s good when he’s bad. Once again, I placed a call to the nerd police. I now have their number on speed dial. Finally, the tech came out, did his hardware magic, and here I am again. It always surprises me how umbilically tied I have become to my devices. The first day without the computers I just sat around looking like a frog on a lily pad waiting for a passing fly. The following day, I found that I accomplished a huge amount due to the fact that I had little diversion. I did, however, miss writing my blog. Thank you to those of you who read without me 🙂
I woke up very early this morning. Planning on walking across the dam when the sun came up, I poured my first cup of coffee and settled in to watch a bit of tube before tackling my day. After determining that “paid programming” seems to be the only television offered in the wee hours of the morning, I selected a documentary on migratory birds. This was so beautifully filmed that the cinematographers actually communicated to the viewer the feeling of effortlessly soaring above the clouds with the geese or diving down towards the water to snag an unsuspecting lunch participant with the pelicans. Penguins, as always for me, are my favorites. With their puffy chests and stilted gaits they remind me of a group of little old bocce ball playing men wearing suspenders that hike their pants up under their armpits.
When I was about four months pregnant with my first child the opportunity came up to take a private flying lesson free of charge. After determining that this was safe for me to do in my condition, at least within the parameters of the medical profession, I decided to accept. My pilot/instructor was a co-worker who was an ex crop duster as well as an accomplished stunt pilot and licensed instructor. On the day of our scheduled flight, repeatedly assuring me that he would not take a woman with a baby on board through any loops or stalls, I climbed in the cockpit of the Cessna. After a short prayer on my part and the pre-flight check completed on his, we taxied down the runway and lifted off. Flying in a small plane as opposed to flying in a commercial jet is like equating riding a tricycle to strapping on a Harley. In a jet you feel safe to some extent and not so small in comparison to your surroundings. In a small single engine plane you feel as diminutive as a pimple on a rhino’s behind. Really. There’s a feeling that you’re just suspended in midair from the propeller most probably because you are. I found myself extremely sensitive to any hitch or change in the sound of that propeller as, although not perfect, I like my body in the configuration in which it came into this world.
The plane was set up specifically for training purposes with controls on both sides. After running through the basics of how the plane could be controlled both with foot pedals and the steering column, he suggested that I might take the controls with him at my side. Really? Looking out my window at the ground far, far, really far, below I questioned my decision to go up with someone who would even entertain a suggestion like that. Had he completely taken leave of his senses? He’d worked with me for two years and surely realized that describing me as uncoordinated was simply a polite way of saying I was an incredible accident magnet and anyone within ten feet should have their affairs in order.
After some serious coaxing, I took the wheel and placed my feet on the pedals. Following his instructions I felt the plane respond to my commands as depending on my actions the wings would dip from one side to the other, the nose rise and fall. What a rush that was. I could understand at that moment why the lure of floating high above the earth has so captured our imagination since early man first perched on a rock and watched fascinated as a hawk circled high above his head.
My husband at the time also took a lesson and really caught the bug. Not long afterwards he began taking private lessons with the intention of getting his license. I, on the other hand continued to expand like an overfilled water balloon and five months later delivered out first child. In the following year between working, parenting an infant, and trying to catch an hour of sleep here and there my husband completed the required hours in the air to allow him to go on his solo flight. To preface, my husband was not a good “rule follower” if you will, and also we were young and mindless. He got it in his mind that I should accompany him on his “solo” flight, which in my thoughts kind of skews the definition of the word “solo”.
After some nudging, I somehow got talked into this scheme, which in my younger more malleable years I often did. The plan, according to him, was that he would pick me up on the runway and off we would go. If you’d asked me then if I thought this was possible, I wouldn’t have thought so, but soon found myself soaring north with my husband piloting the plane and me questioning why I had ever signed up for this insanity.
The day was overcast and the ride was anything but smooth. After navigating the route to the destination airport, my husband contacted the tower for landing instructions as the layer of clouds made a visual landing impossible. Great. Parachute and divorce lawyer, please. After several failed attempts where at one point it seemed we were approaching the runway sideways with one wing down, he somehow managed to land. After regaining the use of my shaking legs I headed for the coffee shop for a much-needed shot of caffeine and a phone book. I called a cab and drove back home, while he safely piloted the plane back to where we started. After that convincing me to get involved in his great ideas came a little harder.
2 Tbsp. green bell pepper, chopped
6 Tbsp. English cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. carrots, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. scallions, sliced thin
3/4 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
4-8 drops of Tabasco sauce according to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Mix all vegetables together in large mixing bowl. Whisk in tomato paste, olive oil, Tabasco, cayenne, Worcestershire, and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 3 hours. Serves 6-8.
Serve chilled with crusty bread and garlic butter. This is a very lite and refreshing soup perfect for a starter on a warm summer evening.