Friday, July 29, 2011

Saved for a Rainy Day - Barkley's Busted

Uh oh, someone's home early.

No, seriously, I was just returning your slipper which you carelessly left laying around.


You know that they say if you can't look someone in the eyes, you're lying. Not true. Really. (Ask any politician.)

But I'm just too adorable to be in trouble.*

I did not have slipper relations with that footwear.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lockerbie - A Reminder

On the news this morning, more on the Lockerbie bomber. I'm not sure which makes me more angry, that experts announced, that after his hero's welcome after his "compassionate" release, that he really isn't on the edge of death, and may live at least ten more years and there really wasn't any hard evidence that he was dying when he was released. Or that he now continues to show up in public TWO YEARS LATER, now at a rally to support Gadafi.

I sit in safety, warm and peaceful, and though I may complain about long weeks, nights often spent in the wet and iron chill of the places in which I sometimes make my living, I have much to be grateful for. A career that's a steady challenge, people who mean the absolute world to me, and around me, photos of family and a life well lived.

After a disaster such as that you see the pictures in the paper, the photos of the dead, strangers, stand out in relief to the pictures of the familiar. Strangers, yet all dear to someone.

In my mind those pictures of lives left unlived, mix in with the the pictures of the life I was fortunate enough to have experienced. There's foreign ports, and distant mountains, and a blur of days that run into the setting sun. I look down at the photos and see the last 40 or so years as a bystander to my own life. It is like drifting along the river on a boat, floating effortlessly and without volition upon moving waters as your life goes past, those years in which your youth vanished.

But still, though past, a life lived. Something the victims of Flight 103 were denied.

When my Mom died, I was filled with anger for her leaving us so quickly, but I was also filled with respect for her being strong enough to say, unplug the plugs, I'm ready to go.. She achieved what Richard Hugo wrote about in one of his last poems,"Death in the Aquarium."

Where should we die, given a choice?
In a hothouse. Along a remote seldom traveled dirt road?
Isn't some part of that unidentified man in us all,
that wants to die where we started?

Life is not fair and nature and fate sometimes knocks when we'd rather not answer. But to have the very breath of what we are taken away in a deliberate act of violence is a sacrilege, not something to be be flaunted in public like a celebration. We should remember rather, the tragic mute bones that could have withstood anything life threw their way, if only left upright and undisturbed.

This morning, I will turn off the TV to the reminder of the travesty which was a decision made. Today there will be only a moment of respect for those souls that seemed to have been forgotten by one court's decision. A moment in which I will look skyward, wishing their souls godspeed as the light vanishes with a soft sigh.

As I look to the sky I grieve for the way they were taken as much as the senseless "why".  I grieve for a world that gives succor to terrorists and those that recognize with honor a man who may well have stolen all that could be, from them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Girls Day Out - Part Two. Powersporks and Zombie Squirrels.

It was girl's day out Part Two.

Miss D. and I drove the BAT(Big Ass Truck)mobile into the city and grabbed Tam and we hit the road before Miss D. and her airplane leave in the morning.

Lunch at the Belgium Brew Pub - Brugge Brasserie.

Would you like large fries with that? We barely made a dent in them and the twelve dipping sauces before the cheese and fruits and little nuggest of meat goodness, crepes and salads arrived. (Is that goose liver pate??)

It's a restaurant AND a brewpub.

Then it was a dash to Penzey's Spices where I bought some surprise spices for Shannon and Oleg and Tam got some goodies for Bobbie and Roseholme Cottage. Look Cake Spice! (but no Win Spice). Then we were off to Mountain of (likely liverless) Geese for ammo. They had no Hoppes No. 9 car air freshners left but we left with an armful of shooty goodness. The final stop was Kahn's, a specialty liquor store that has more Irish spirits than anyplace I've seen as well as an assortment of tasty and unique brews. "Look, a yellow airplane!"

Conversation was the usual, guns, dogs, zombies, hippies, concealed carry, literature, science and after Tam got to feed Purina Giraffe Chow to the tall ones at the IND zoo a while back, a discussion as to whether there a Purina Chow for Everything.

Miss D. "Purina Zombie Chow - brains!"

Me: "Purina Snail and Slug Chow - Sodium Free!"

And a short check to see what the neighborhood gargoyle was wearing before waving goodbye and driving home.

I go back on 24 hour call in the morning for the next couple of weeks. Miss D. is getting a little nap in now preparing to leave very early in the morning for home and husband while new and old friends get back to a more normal routine.

For the rest of you. . . tomorrow a real gear review.

It's either going to be a "The Power Spork" review. Spaghetti night at Mr. B. and Midwest Chick's house.


Zombie Squirrel Weaponry, a review of the Savage HMR 17.

You never know WHAT you're going to find at Home on the Range.

Cheers - Brigid and Barkley

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fuzzy Dice, Beer and a Bear

What a day! Fuzzy dice and brief blue skies. Miss D and I stayed up until 1 a.m. chatting like school girls and finally got to bed for an early departure. Morning dawned clear and warm and it was going to be the most excellent of days.

It's really a sweet little airplane. Enough horsepower has been up in that if she goes on floats she will be able to get up on the step without waiting for the curvature of the earth to drop away. Miss D. has really done a great job with the rebuild.

When we were leaving the airplane after tying her down, a pilot came over and said "are you girls going to Oshkosh? "My friend grinned and said "My husband is in the other direction" with a smile that would make anyone understand.

Homemade Croissants.


After that, we headed into the city. As we were leaving Fresh Market in Broad Ripple, Miss D. said, "Is that Tam?" Sure enough, it was! She was riding a Broad Ripple SUV. We yelled out the window "Tam!" and honked whereupon she hurried up as if zombies on Rollerblades were after her, and off down an alley while we tooted again chasing her with the truck. It was like the chase scene in the movie Bullitt, except we were in a parking lot full of hippies so it was like Bullitt without the speed and excitement.

As we lose sight of her, I called Roseholme Cottage, a short distance away, and we were promptly invited over to visit with she and Roberta X. Alas, with temps in the 90s and perishables in the back of the truck, we couldn't stay long.

I successfully avoided buying one of these at Fresh Market. I've lost almost 20 pounds in the last six weeks. Another 10 to go and I will be back at mumble mumble pounds, my weight prior to the January surgery and recovery. Woo hoo! Besides if Miss D. needs some pre flight goodness, there is still the little key lime cheesecake that I made left at home.

click to enlarge (evil laugh)

But in anticipation of frosty beer at the Broad Ripple Brew pub we hiked a couple of miles up and back on the Monon Rail Trail.

A member of the shore party is going off the beaten path, and he's wearing a red shirt. We'll never see HIM again.

Then a brief pass by the Art Park. Hippies, arts, crafts, you name it. Trails to hike, stuff to climb on. Bees!

Ah, a cold one to cool off and surveil the damage. Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

One last word of advice.

If you are out and about among artists and Bohemians and you rip out the back of some very well worn shorts, and a nice lady among them offers to quickly patch them at her little establishment so you are not arrested. . . . . . . and she's a theater person . . .

Well, you should EXPECT to get Winnie the Pooh on your ass instead of, you know, denim or camo fabric.

Tactical Pooh. Oh bother (sigh).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ETA - Bacon!

Some of you may have noticed photos of a little yellow airplane on the blog. That is the airplane owned and flown by my friend Miss D., otherwise known as Mrs. Bayou Renaissance Man.

Miss D. restored this historic little bird and is flying it all the way from Alaska to return to her husband and home. A 4000 mile journey, she followed the Alcan Highway from Alaska to the USA, a route taken by tens of thousands of aircraft before her (mostly in the other direction) during World War II and afterwards. The road generally follows the Northwest Staging Route set up for Lend-Lease aircraft being shipped to the Soviet Union during World War II. Most of its airfields are still in operation.

For a wonderful account of the journey and the people she's met on the way take a visit at her blog, On a Wing and a Whim .

The best part of the trip? She is making a little dog leg in her route and stopping to visit Barkley and I for a couple of days! She should be here later today. Barkley was caught on the guest bed giving a look that said "but I'm just making sure it's comfy for her". I'm chopping veggies and marinating various beasts and chilling wine. (I asked her her preference for meals for the weekend and she said "Spicy, MEAT, veggies"). Did I mention BACON! There's also a homemade key lime cheesecake lurking in the refrigerator. And Peter, don't you worry about us, two female pilots, weapons, wine, a dog and a cheesecake.What trouble could we get into? Really, any stories you hear about two females who smell like aviation fuel and bacon singing sea shanties at the local Irish pub. Just rumour.

It's been a joy to hear about the trip as she flies it. We've been chatting throughout the days through the joys of electronics and phone cameras, sometimes late into the evening, as she camps under the wing or catches some sleep in an airport pilot lounge.

Friday evening she sent me this photo.

In front of the gas pumps is Sylvester, queen of the airport. No pilot may get gas without without paying homage. She is facing off Oliver, airport lurker, that little fuzzy spot with paws there on the right hand side of the photo. Oliver will not let any pilot get within twelve feet, but does his part in keeping the grass mouse and gopher free.

I've loved sharing her stories, and she's shared some of mine, though my time in Alaska was a long summer break, between jobs.

There is just something about Alaska. For many people it's on the list of places they want to visit before they die. For others it's a journey ending with roots taking hold deep into the tundra. I was one of the former. Not wanting to wait until I got older, retired, had an empty nest or lost those 10 pounds, I just went.

I met some interesting people as well along the way. A retired Baptist minister who ran a trading post and made sure I had enough bottled water and Beef Jerky for my afternoon jaunts. And there was the time I offered a ride in my airplane to two French tourists who had come up for their idea of adventure, paying probably $10,000 for the privilege of camping out alone for a few days, then a carefully orchestrated raft or hunting trip they could go home and brag about. They had missed their pilot who was to drop them at their camp. Since I was taking my plane up that way to check out an eagles nest I'd seen from the air, I told them I'd drop them off where they were going to camp as I was flying there anyway. I'd like to say that they were gracious, joyous people and we had a wonderful experience, but they were the rudest, nastiest couple I'd ever met in my life. It got to the point I gave up being polite and started to burp and pretend to nod off at the controls muttering the phrase "boy I wish I hadn't drunk that bottle of cough syrup".

Another time I landed at one lake on which there was a beautiful cabin. There were no roads to it, you could only fly in and the nearest place was 20 miles away by dog team or snowmobile. A widow lived there, the wife of a Alaska Airlines pilot, she'd never been to the state until she fell in love with a resident and moved. She offered me some gas and coffee and I ended up staying for two days, sharing stories of life in the wild, and learning just how deep love will lead you into the wilderness of your heart.

I'm so glad Miss D. got the chance, with the support of a loving husband, to complete the restoration of her airplane; to follow her dream. Even if it takes her somewhere else than her beloved Alaska, to her home with her beloved. For the true harvest of your dreams will always be as intangible and indescribable as the tints of an Arctic sky. A landscape of magic, held onto, if only for short moments in time.

Miss D, I've thoroughly enjoyed sharing the journey, even if earthbound. We'll be there to fetch you at the airport shortly!

Is she here yet?

Monday, July 18, 2011



After 12 long days, the cone is gone. The report was back on the lymph nodes. They appear clean! Dr. H. will do another check in 30 days to be completely sure they are still clear.

I now, have to go back to work for the afternoon. So Barkley, what will you do with your new found freedom?


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Afternoon Interlude

Music has always been a part of my life and that of some of my best friends. For me, piano lessons from age 6, clarinet, band, orchestra, a youth symphony. As an adult, I traded in the clarinet on a violin. But I had no great talent, no real ear. I sang the end of each verse of CCR's Bad Moon Rising for weeks as "Bathroom on the Right" before someone clued me in. Still, I love music even as my interests (and definitely my talents) lay elsewhere.

But I still dabble a bit, a keyboard in my living room, a guitar often nearby, a violin in the corner. My friends play much better and sometimes they get asked to play in public, sometimes for pay. (People often offer money for me NOT to play though I've not let it stop me).

For you see, my friends will show up with their instruments and say. "This is what I learned to play this week!"

And I reply- "Great, this is what I learned."

But, an invite to play at an outdoor event was extended. My partner in squirrel adventure, M., prepared his guitar. It would be fun. A Garden Festival., it was called. M. said to not get too excited, he plays at many such things, it's not too hard. He reminded me of that River Dance episode on Roberta X's hardwood floor (two pints of IPA and 12 years of tap dancing lessons just don't mix). I promised to behave myself.

And so the day began, instruments were tuned, music prepared.

It would be fun. . . Well that was the plan anyway.

Arrived for the Fairy Garden festival at the nursery.

Garden at a nursery means greenhouse right? Wrong.

Carried equipment 100 yards to the greenhouse…

No AC…and it’s almost vacant.

Sound of crickets.

Someone approaches: "Hello - you need to be in the Fairy Garden".

400 yards away in the other direction and outside.

Outside temp: 85 and climbing. Wind: Steady at 20-25 mph .

Carry equipment 400 yards. Remember why groupies are all really young.

First awareness of what the Fairy Garden is: Mothers and little girls wearing long dresses with wings and garlands in their hair. Face painting.


Uh OH….Place to play: On top of a wagon.

Fully exposed to the wind.

Did I mention it's a wagon?

Folding metal chairs. I don't know anyone over the age of 21 who can take a metal folding chair for more than an hour!

Move chair to the ground and behind a tree to shelter from the wind. The ground is very soft, a lot of rain from recent storms.

Sit on chair which has a metal seat that's been in the sun for hours and is now the temperature of a toaster oven set on pizza.

Yow! Wave at the people. Just part of the act.

Set up. Amp for guitar unloaded… power. Request power: they run 400 feet of extension cord out.

Try to hold onto the music. A fairy just blew past.

Time to play. Are you ready? Right foot on a foot stool, left food on the leg of the music stand so it doesn't blow away.

The delicate melodies begin. Little girls in fairy dresses with face paint standing 3 feet away staring like the ghostly twins in the hall in The Shining.

Something is moving… either the chair is sinking or UFO's are beaming up the music stand.

Well, iit makes it easier to see the amp anyway.

The amp! Black ants are crawling all over the amp.

Ants now on feet. Open toed sandals. Try and avoid Riverdance II.

Halfway through the second song they're crawling on the sheet music. Is that a note or a really giant ant? Oh crap, they're crawling up my leg to set up base camp!

Focus, focus, adjust to the temp, the wind, the ants crawling across the sheet music, the close proximity of staring people. "Hello Danny. Come play with us"

Yes, time to play.

Solfeggiotto. All together now. Beautiful, everything is perfect. Perfect harmony

50 Harley’s go by on the road about 150 feet away.

The crowd applauds, the little girls finally smile.

Maybe this is why we love music, as I love flying. Music induces in me a sense of the infinite and the contemplation of that which is unseen. Music and flying are both wonder, or can be. The same visceral connection between the soul and what elevates it to the heavens. Both strike in some people the same chord, the same spark that is embedded in some hearts. Something that, in certain individuals, is simply part of our most basic and natural inability to live with the gravity of silence

Now, I wonder if the face painters can paint a face half purple and half gold. Go Vikings!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Always on Guard - A Barkley Update

Barkley hangs out in my home office a lot. There's a little bed there where I often bed down after reviewing reports or staying up late on the computer. The bed is comfy, if small, and smells like me. PLUS he can see the walk up to the front door, from dawn to dark, always in wait for his arch enemy the UPS man (who might be delivering a package of live squirrels, you know).

The pathology report is in. Not good news, but not grim.

It IS definitely cancer and it's malignant but distant metastasis is very uncommon in this one. Meibomian Epithelioma. Basically, it's a tumor of low-grade malignancy arising from the meibomian glands (modified sebaceous glands which are located on the inner surface of the eye with a preponderance of basaloid cells and a few sebocytes and ducts). These holocrine glands have a duct which opens at the eyelid margin. Dr. H. has only seen one in 12 years of her practice. The pathologist said the basaloid cells show marked mitotic activity (the abnormal cells have spread to the margins) so it will likely come back. He's doing better now (though I caught him surfing the web for C4, a shovel and some article about Cone disposal) but the first 6 months after surgery are crucial during which constant monitoring is a must. So that I will do. I don't love very often, but I love hard, and this dog has got more than a bit of my heart.

It's not the best news, but it's time, hopefully lots of it.

Just a reminder if you have dogs and cats, check their eyes. If you see any growths, in the corner as this one was, looking like a tiny black pebble, or on the lid, don't just say "oh it's just a sty or a fatty tumor". A visit to your vet could save a life.

Would we all be like the dog, our pain hidden deep inside
where unkind thoughts and fear and loss are buried with our pride
With someone - stalwart friend, kind soul,
who shows us wrong from right
with rebuke soft, a gentle hand,
unfair judgment far from sight.
Would we know that secret place, where playful thoughts abide,
waiting only for that one true friend, in whom we can confide
- Brigid