Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Barkley Memories - Posts From the Road

It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years since we lost Barkley.  But I am so very happy for all the photos we took, especially the ones on our commute from Indy to Chicago for several years.  I never took my eyes off the road, I just held up the little point and shoot, aimed it into the back of the truck, and took a shot.  Thanks for the memories.
Mom,  that's like the third burger place you've passed up!
 
As the truck headed down south, into farmland, happy to be away from the thicker traffic, the snow was still piled high from the massive storm almost two weeks ago. The drifts looked so serene, waves tossed up against farm fence, but other signs told of the dangers that had been here, two cars still in ditches and the one jackknifed semi in the median, as well as spots where a Saturn  and a Smart Car shed their skin, bits of fiberglass and plastic strewn about, the rest of the remains removed in a bucket.
But we were even more happy to be past the outskirts of the city, that short stretch I must travel that makes me very anxious not to break down.  There's one stretch, where, but for the highway, and the knowledge, you wouldn't know you were in a city.

There are the houses, some farm style, probably erected when this was just farms, fading and falling, some windows shuttered or broken, some still lived in, overgrown plots littered with the broken and the unused, buckets, tools, machines, things that once were crafted to serve a purpose of function or work, left to lie idly by those that either abandoned these places or live idle within.  Even the trees, bend down as if tired of making an effort, blossoming each year in the sullied impiety that is a once thriving place that dies through uncaring neglect, its burgeoning, nothing more a bitter and tenacious scrap of another season's memory, than a desire to grow and thrive.
It is with a sigh of relief, that I take that final dogleg south.  

This stretch of highway has been driven a hundred times, yet each drive I notice something different.  It's not the obvious, giant "HELL IS REAL" sign (we're on I-65, we already know that) or the XXX Family Restaurant (sorry, when I think "XXX", family restaurant just doesn't spring to mind). Rather, it's an old barn, now razed, it's a river that's left its banks, it's a tiny little cross with a name by the side of the road.

I don't listen to books on tape for these drives. Sometimes, music plays, sometimes it is silent. Mostly, I keep my senses on the road, for this is a treacherous stretch of large trucks, often as inattentive as they are massive. Sometimes you have one in front and one behind and gaining, no place to go if the one in front decides to stop, the Bat Truck only the Oreo filling between several tons of steel, and I retreat to the slow lane, where I'll happily let teenagers give me that "look" as I do the speed limit.  I've driven this stretch often enough to know that the opposing forces of a semi's mass and my will if drawn suddenly together, would be a meeting that could be irremediable.
Sometimes they give you a warning before they try and kill you, a signal before they suddenly dart into your lane,  just feet in front of you, making you slam on your brakes, so they can pass the truck going .3 mph less than them. Usually, though, the danger is inarticulate, not knowing it's danger. So I listen as well as watch.

There are always the signs, fast food, gas stations, some bright shiny new, an Arby's and a Super 8 that's been a welcome respite from this road in bad weather for many people. There's a new McDonald's, advertising large clean restrooms (a welcome change from the ones further north where they have to lock them because someone might break in and clean them). Then there are old signs, weathered, leaning away from the wind.  Failed businesses dot the landscape, "Boom City", a faded but futuristic looking abandoned fireworks place that stands in isolation in a landscape of cornfields. So out of place in a remote, rural area, it looks like some alien craft that just landed there and built itself a parking lot as they waited for the mother ship.
What is there to look at, some of you may be likely thinking?  It's Indiana, flattened out by giant glaciers millions of years ago.  It's flat, there's corn, that's about it.  But beauty can be like that, as subtle as a whisper, yet as strong as faith.  Beauty isn't always young, perfect skin, vast mountains or the vivid colors of velvets and fine gems.  Beauty is there, on an open road, in the sky, in a vast field of ripe corn,  in a church with a crucifix that likely came out here on a wagon, the serene and battered Christ upon it, transcending the marks of time and generations, a visage to which you can only lower your eyes in humility and ask forgiveness.

Yes it's flat, but there are roads that stretch and glisten like jewels in hard rain flowing down as if to wash the landscape clean.  There are weathered homes and stubborn farms, there is a sudden rise to a river that has carried more than history to its silent end.  There are miles and miles of fields, with nothing but corn and fence rows, a barn, and silo jutting up like one of those pop-up greeting cards, set there, flat on the very edge of the earth's table. It's the windy sunlight of space and summer, a morning filled with bells, an afternoon filled with grace, it's the church of God's own creation, as farmers tend to its Host and our history.
As I drive and look, I think.  To the phone hopefully not ringing at 2 a.m., to the days ahead, to the days past as I see the Indianapolis 103 miles sign and realize I'm more than halfway there and smile as I relax into the seat.

There's a time in every trip, no matter how long, where you settle into the drive.  As a family, and for my Dad, when we were kids, the driving on our vacation trips seemed almost effortless, as we watched the landscape change from green to brown to mountains and back to brown and we'd hear stories of his youth, of he and Mom growing up together in Montana, the radio off, the only music the sound of my Mom's relaxed laughter, a laughter I can still sometimes hear. For I hear her voice in mine. I'm told we sound alike, and there are days I can crack open the window and the warmth of the wind will blow in and around me, warming my cheeks and the back of my throat and as look up to a contrail that has caught my eye, our laughter will echo in the wide spaces ahead.
What I recall of those long ago trips, other than the laughter, was just sitting and looking out the windows for miles, for what was most memorable were the landscapes, stopping when we got tired or thirsty and actually looking and touching the wonders we'd read about in school. The Grand Coulee Dam, the drive-through redwood tree. Then back in the car, with postcards and maybe a souvenir baseball hat. I saw mountains and tumbling landslides, and fish leaping against gravity up a ladder, and once even a buffalo, kept on a small piece of range on which resided a little restaurant.

I had never in my life been next to an animal that big. He was old, and completely tame, raised by the husband and wife with the restaurant, with a few acres to roam, and enough wild memory to twitch in running freedom in his dreams. I was afraid at first to approach him, almost blind in my fear, but I crept up, drawn by soft eyes the color of earth, and the warm flank. Judging by his breathing, the slow, patient release of air, that great steam engine of sound, I knew he would not hurt me and I reached out through the fence rails and touched the giant soft velvet bloom of nose  as he looked back with those knowing eyes,  set in ancient bones as enormous as the future, a countenance as powerful as history, as motionless as memory. And we stood there, together, a little auburn haired girl and that lone remnant of a past that's faded to nothing but dust and cornered thought, all alive, yet still alone.
But on this drive, all am thinking about is what I have in front of me, the tumbled landscapes of glacier stone and great pristine rivers, thin as a rope from the air. Anything that really requires my mind, the gas and engine instruments, a scan for traffic, occurs in brief, unhurried intervals as the truck carries me with it, all those memories and thoughts of past road trips, of tears, of childlike bursts of laughter, of family, mechanical, rhythmic memory of the past that I carry with me forward.

Everything that I  might worry about, whether the phone will wake me at 2 a.m., that case I have to finish, a washer that broke beyond repair and needs to be replaced, lies suspended for this time as the sun creeps back inside the earth, driving the shadows forth.
The open road, a dimension free of time and space that flows from childhood to the trembling, secret ardor of the future. It's a road little changed from a child's hand out the window in the breeze, to the older foot on the gas pedal of an old British car, on a Summer day,  pressing down, carrying with it the echo of childish want, the passion, and unrest of adulthood. The road rushing under, rushing on. Way too quickly.

As we near where I will live during the work week, Barkley leans into me, as if recognizing what is going past the window, flowing smoothly from left to right, buildings, and doorways, a small expanse of marsh, each in its ordered place, there in the dimming light. Perhaps he recognizes those things as we draw near. Either that or he is listening to something much further away then the small dimensioned vehicle we are riding in. Perhaps he only pretends to be listening, because, in his heart, he already knows the sound.

I listen too, not just look, to the whoosh of the garage door, to the creak of a door, to the falling into a simple place with old Mission furniture, a framed photo on the shelf and a Cross on the wall, reminding me that I am all alive, but never alone.
 - Brigid

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

It's not a day off from work.
It's looking at history, and what has withstood time and conflict.
It's not meeting friends for a meal and fun.
It's not ice cream and a barbecue.
It's not sitting in  your lounge chair.
It's raising your flag, remembering what is important as you look hard at everything.

It's saying "thank you" to those who have served.
It's remembering brave sacrifices.
It's putting your pride in your country out  for all to see, not on this weekend, but every day of the year.
It's  remembering duty and courage and the willingness to defend. 
It's honoring the memory of all of those brave men and women who gave their life in the service of this country, so you could live, here today, in the safe place they made for us. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Laralei Update

We've had Laralei a week now.  There have been some great times and a couple of bumps.  Day two in having her here, Abby Lab got jealous of the extra attention she was getting and peed all over the only expensive rug we have.  I'm told that's common when introducing a new dog.  It's in the basement for a thorough clean and we won't put it back down until we are positive that behavior is over.

She also tried to play too aggressively with Laralei which made HER pee on the floor.

But we've settled into a groove.  The two get equal attention, walk separately so they get some "me" time with Dad.  Laralei is 3 times the size of Abby, (who is a Lab mix and not purebred) so Abby doesn't like to be walked together.  This morning my husband said they played gently in the yard together and we're seeing some preening (grooming) behavior with one another.

We are still so happy we adopted her.  She loves being around people after living her whole life in a tiny pen as a puppy mill dog.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Friday Smiles

Because I've had a really busy workweek, plus marketing the new Kindle of True Course (and a new rescue dog which is like 100 pounds of "no!") just some Friday Funnies. (click on individual pictures to enlarge).








This photo was not photoshopped, I know the officer Aimee and she said between the flash and a yawn it was the perfect photo of her black German Shepherd named with family permission after one of the fallen from their Police Department.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Kindle Edition of True Course is Finally Availalable

The Kindle Copy of True Course - Lessons From a Life Aloft is live today and I've lowered the price to $2.99 to make it easier to get a copy. I've had several friends who are NOT aviators and they said the loved it. Thank you for our continued support of my writing.   It takes a day or two for the Kindle page to merge with the paperback page in Amazon so the Kindle page will not yet show any reviews or sales rank, but below are some of the reviews of it and my writing.  Thank you for your continued support.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S74KFZ1/

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This is a book to use as a reward for yourself - to read a little at a time on evenings when the day has gone well. It is an introspection into one person's world of flight yet it carries truths for all those who have given their soul to the wonders and mysteries of the sky - and sometimes wonder why. - Rick Durden, Features Editor and Columnist, The Pilot's Lounge, for AVweb, the Internet Aviation Magazine
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This is a book by an accomplished human being (aviator, law enforcement and other life-and-death skills) who gave herself permission to be an extraordinary writer. The result is soul-deep essays and reflections on aviation and life. Many of her descriptions--poised somewhere between awe and aching-- stopped me in my tracks as she describes: "caught in a point in your mind between immobility and motion, the taste of empty air, the color of wind."  Every bit as good as Annie Dillard, whom Brigid leaves behind in her contrail. 
- Latayne C. Scott, award-winning author
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"Johnson is a gifted writer, in the traditional sense of what works of literature are like. She is an artist with words, painting beautiful pictures, rich with vibrant description."
- Viga Boland - Memoirabilia Magazine
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"Brigid Johnson is a multi-talented lady who has been there and done that. She IS an excellent role model for young ladies everywhere! Determined to succeed as a pilot, she jumped through all the hoops and became a commercial airline pilot before changing careers to take care of family. Her writing is evocative, soul searching, and captures the essence of flying and life in snippets that leave you wanting more."
- J.L. Curtis, Best-Selling Author of Rimworld - Stranded and the Grey Man Series
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"Johnson is a wonderful writer, like good scotch on a winter night."
- Michael Bane - Producer, Writer, Actor

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hit and Mrs.

I had my annual checkup a couple of weeks ago which includes the usual "female" type checks and cancer screenings. Since I have limited family history available- since I'm adopted- we watch things close. The basic medical went just fine, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers still what they were in my 30's which is great, but we had to wait for the cancer screen results in the mail.  Good news - I got the report--excellent health and clean cancer screens and left it for my husband on the dining room table as I left for work, leaving him a message on his work phone --"female checkup report is in and on the dining room table", as he was going to get home from work before me.

Unfortunately, in the dark, what I left was not the note from my doctor-- but the note from the dog walker who takes Abby the Lab out at lunchtime each day.

 I can only imagine his face as he read this--

Wednesday -  Nice! Colder than normal though! She pooped and frolicked!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Reaching Out

I know most of you have heard of Christopher Kyle (April 8, 1974 – February 2, 2013)

Christopher Scott Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL and sniper. He served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He was awarded one Silver Star Medal, four Bronze Star Medals with "V" devices, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and numerous other unit and personal awards.

Kyle was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and published his bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, in 2012. An eponymous film adaptation of Kyle's book, directed by Clint Eastwood, was released two years later. In 2013, Kyle was killed by a former Marine with PTSD that he was trying to help.

A hospital that deals with vets with PTSD and addiction has been established in Anchorage and with his family's blessing bears his name.  A wife of one of the gun bloggers in our community works there.  At her request, I sent a couple copies of my books for their patients to read (if you've read The Book of Barkley, I've dealt with PTSD among my team members and even myself due to the nature of the work).

https://chriskylepatriotshospital.com/

I found out there was a waiting list for my books, so I sent them a big box of them last week.

Thank you Chris Kyle Patriot's Hospital for what you do for our Veterans.
-Brigid

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Toy! A Toy!

Our new rescue (from a puppy mill) Laralei played with her first toy. It's one that Frankie Furter sent to Abby.

The reason Abby Lab looks so concerned as Dad was making his sandwich in the kitchen which is now gated as Laralei likes to plop down right behind you, making a tripping hazard.  Abby was afraid with the gate she wouldn't get her daily little slice of cheese from the sandwich making.  (she did).

Laralei is getting lots of exercise (new to a dog that had been in a small pen her whole life) so she should trim down soon, but she is very happy to be here.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Element of Surprise

One of my longtime readers and friend on Facebook who runs a laser business in Indiana surprised me with a sign for my office that I had mentioned in a FB exchange after I sent him an autographed copy of True Course. It was truly a kind gesture and much appreciated.

The elements are "made up"  as there is no "D", "R", or "J" on the Periodic Table of Elements but if you are a fan of Star Trek or the book Atlas Shrugged, you will get it.

Thank you Bob!

Dr. Johnson (otherwise known as Brigid)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

$360 Dog Bed with Memory Foam
 Rescue Dog that Prefers the Floor by the Box.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Laralei Arrives Home!

Meet and Greet.

Laralei has arrived, exactly (to the day) five years after we adopted Abby Lab who was a puppy mill dog. She was owned by breeders who surrendered her to Lab Rescue when she didn't produce enough puppies.  She's only 5 years old and purebred yellow Lab.

She's definitely going to be a Daddy's girl. (look at the hypersonic tail).
Her foster Mom brought her rabies tag and microchip info as well as all Vet updates since she was rescued.  She also left a full bag of her food so we could slowly change her over to the grain-free brand Abby Lab is on.

Her foster mom said she did great in the house, so curious about EVERYTHING (she'd never lived in a house) and one day she was printing something off in the other room and suddenly Laralei came running through the room with the printed paper in her mouth with a cry of Sparta!!! She's curious, but she doesn't chew stuff.

She plays really gently with Abby, who is loving the companionship and she went right in her crate while we made dinner. (I try and keep the dogs out of the kitchen when I have boiling water on the stove for pasta).
She just had a litter of puppies a few months ago but is in excellent health and a healthy weight.  Not all breeder dogs get into rescue cared for as well, but the dogs are starved for affection and attention and make great rescue dogs.  Thank you Chicagoland Lab Rescue!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Welcome to the Newest Member of the Johnson Household.

Welcome to the newest member of the Johnson household.  Meet Laralei. The photos were taken at her foster Mom's house and she will join us tomorrow.  She's a 92 pound 5-year-old breeding dog who was surrendered as she wasn't producing enough puppies.  Fortunately, she'd had decent vet care even if she lived in close quarters with minimal people contact, so she is well fed and very healthy.

I fell in love with her when I saw her post up on the rescue groups Facebook.  Her foster Mom said she has a goofy, gentle personality, loves kids and dogs, and loves to play fetch.

Abby was also a breeding dog.  They tend to be very loving and gentle.
My husband took time off from work so we could get a home inspection and after they talked to our references and our Vet we were approved. The volunteer brought over her very large retriever to see how Abby reacted and they were instant best friends. Abby loves other dogs.

She will be here tomorrow and a big Orvis bed is being air shipped to be here tomorrow so she has her own bed. And we have a crate for her if she needs it for overnight comfort.

I think we nailed the home inspection when in the spot usually reserved for a giant TV was a big dog crate and a pile of toys (we gave our TV away to make room for dog stuff).

Laralei was her name at the breeder's.  The foster Mom says she doesn't react to it, (very little human interaction) but we will keep it for now.  Abby and Laralei have a nice ring to it. Thank you Chicagoland Lab Rescue.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Revolvers And Cheesecake - A Girl's Best Friends

1999 Colt Magnum Carry.

A 357 powerhouse

Adrenalin Junkie Cheesecake

A chocolate covered espresso bean/cookie crust, filled with  cheesecake made of two kinds of dark chocolate with a dollop of espresso and a bare hint of  Madagascar vanilla.  Topped with a deep chocolate ganache and served with whipped cream and espresso sugar.

WEEEEEEEE!!

If you can find it, the Sharferbergs chocolate for the filling and ganache is worth it.  It's very complex, Figs and red wine, honey, and spice with just a hint of coffee. I'm not sure as to the spice, there's a bite that lingers on the tongue that stems off the natural bitterness of dark cocoa.  Cheaper chocolates will load up a bar with sugar to dull that taste,  Not this one.  It makes for a glorious cheesecake.

Go on make a batch, everyone has room for one last bite.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Updates

As I go into the weekend starting with a head cold and sore throat topping a lousy work week, which included the news of the shooting in Highlands Ranch, where both of my granddaughters attend school (they are fine), I have some things to say, to just make a short post.

First, Happy Mother's Day to all tomorrow and warm thoughts for those like myself who lost their mother way too young.

Secondly, thank you, folks, who have shared my new book and especially sent me an email or a FB message as to how much you are enjoying it as it hit #1 at Amazon.  I'm getting a bunch of copies directly from the publisher sent out to VA hospitals. (I was told there was one in Anchorage that has a waiting list for The Book of Barkley, so they were sent many  more copies). Those don't count in my Amazon sales numbers, obviously, but I can buy them for 50% off to ship in bulk.

Finally, since at 60 I can be considered officially "old" and cranky, I plan on going into my Monday work week like Otto above.

Otto is my hero.