Friday, April 8, 2011

See? I Really DO Have A Job!

I am on-call 24/7 for my job. The phone could ring at any time, day or night, to inspire me to drop everything and run away to the airport  to join the circus. And my phone has rung at any time, day or night. I once only had a thirty-minute warning to get myself to the airport and be ready for takeoff. Luckily, I always keep a bag mostly packed and ready to go, just for moments like that. Other times, when they are too busy to leave town or decide to take one of our other airplanes, the call to work never comes. It would be waaaaaay too considerate to let me know that I don't need to worry about leaving town at any given moment. Instead, I wait for my phone to ring all week, not knowing that they've decided to leave me behind while they go gallivanting in the great blue skies in a different airplane. Consequently, I have very little control (read: none) over my work schedule. Though it is a rare occurrence, I can't do a thing about it when they go five weeks without wanting to leave in this awesome Beechjet. At times, it's tempting to call them up to remind them that I exist, and the airplane is aching to get back up in the air. "Hey. It's me. Wanna go fly?" Words like that just can't be said to a Chief Executive Officer without some sort of backlash, you know?

Enter glorious day when I got the call to go to work. I was up at 4:00 AM yesterday morning to get ready for a trip to Houston Intercontinental Airport. Both passengers arrived on time (first time ever, perhaps), and we were wheels-up just before 6:00 AM to the east. The flight went well with a nice 60-knot tailwind to hurry us along. We landed at the biggest and busiest airport in Houston just two and a half hours later. Welcome to Sweatville.

It might not be common knowledge, but I actually lived in downtown Houston during the summer before I graduated from the University of North Dakota. As an intern for Continental, I worked in the Safety Department for three wonderful months. Walking to work was possible because I rented a room from a Continental Express Captain and his wife just four blocks away from the skyscraper in which I worked all day gathering data card information recorded during flights and compiling them into presentations for company officials. It was a fun gig, but the best part came every weekend when I got to jump seat on any domestic flight offered by Continental. I sat in the jump seat in the cockpit behind and between the two pilots and watch their every move. It gave me precious opportunity to see how their worlds operate, and also a chance to pick their brains about their likes and dislikes of the job. Never mind that I got to observe some pretty sweet airplanes being flown at the same time! It was a great summer indeed. Perhaps the most beneficial information I gathered from my free service to Continental was that airline piloting wasn't for me. Griping about flying just didn't seem like something of which I would ever be capable, and I certainly wanted to show pictures of my husband and kids to people when asked instead of my girlfriends (usually while wearing wedding rings) and motorcycles. It just didn't seem like the lifestyle for me. I wanted something more personal flying with the same people constantly. Spoiler Alert: I really like long-term emotional connections with other human beings! Not even talking to my passengers, other than a few boring calls to the cabin via the intercom, just didn't seem like the best option for me.

So I left that summer wanting to become a corporate pilot instead. I knew I would probably have to donate some time to the airline life, just to attain the hours necessary to become desirable by a corporate flight department. Little did I know that I would later be able to skip the entire airline step completely and just start flying private airplanes for neat people.

And here I am. Six years later. Flying my dream job. It was fun to return to Intercontinental Airport yesterday and reminisce so many memories of my great internship there. It wasn't humid, yet, so it was actually quite tolerable to be outside. That is far from the case during the summer months, as I learned the hard way. I could never live in Houston.

Anyhoo, after we landed and I got the passengers sent on their way, we grabbed a crew car to eat some lunch. Zio's Italian was selected, and I had a healthy pasta dish with a delicious salad. After arriving back at Atlantic Aviation, Terry slept for a few hours while I patiently waited. Big Boss's departing words were that we could ferry the airplane (fly it without passengers) to an airport on the other side of Houston to pick him up later that day. Since I have a dear friend very close to that other airport, I was hoping to get there right away. Terry took a nap instead, and I have decided that I need to be more aggressive about what I want to do. I lost three hours that I could have spent with my Mentor, Charlie, seeing his new Challenger 604. I still got to see him and enjoyed it, but we didn't have time to run to Hobby Airport to see his new baby. I got to show him mine, however, with its new paint and interior. He was impressed, and it was fun to speak to my mentor in person rather than over the phone.

Once Terry finally woke up, we flew to Ellington Airport on the south side of Houston. This is a former military-only airport where NASA trains all of its astronauts! It's home to the largest swimming pool in the world, where they can simulate space-walking in 20-foot depths. I also saw a huge C-130 Guppy, which is used to transport all sorts of space stuff for NASA. And next to that was the NASA T-38 fleet! It was wonderful to be in a location that carried so much aviation history. Charlie arrived shortly after I landed, and we spent an hour chatting before I got a call from Big Boss that they had just pulled in. Four hours early, mind you. So much for a twenty-minute warning! I greeted them at the door and got them boarded while I awakened Terry from yet another nap. Considering they were very early, I was surprised to see them. But I will always take early arrivals from passengers. It's the six-hours-late thing that kind of gets scary after a while.

From Ellington, we were on our way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I love the many neat accents and always interesting food ("What IS that on my plate?"). I arranged to have the crew car used by my passengers since we would only be there for a few hours. Terry and I borrowed the other crew car to grab a quick dinner while they were gone. The FBO recommended a close restaurant, and I always enjoy trying a local eatery. I got a steak which looked way bigger than eight ounces when it arrived. Terry got the Seafood Feast, which was a whole lot of food from the ocean to devour. It made me nervous for the next flight, but luckily all went well.

Exactly two hours after we landed in Baton Rouge, my passengers returned and announced that we were heading home! I actually hoped for something else, as I had been up since four and was so tired. Slurring is never a good sign, right? But we were able to make the long trip home without stopping, thanks to the winds cooperating. Having only two passengers in back also helped so that we could load more fuel for the trip. Just over three hours later, we touched down at home in Phoenix. I pulled into my driveway to surprise my husband just after 11:00 PM. What a long, fun day! And Hubby even told me he was glad to have me home.

Phoenix - Houston Intercontinental - Houston Ellington - Baton Rouge - Phoenix

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Longest Ten Minutes of My Life

At last, the timer made its distinctive beeping sound to let me know it was done. I sprinted down the hallway to the kitchen where on top of the counter top, heaven was awaiting me. I opened the lid, then used some mittens to pull the hot pan from the machine. A loaf of fresh bread was ready to be devoured at 9:30 PM.

It was unintentional to eat such a treat so late in the evening. That's usually when we are turning out the lights for bed, since we are up at 6:00 AM for Hubby to go to work. But one cannot simply let fresh homemade bread go to waste. I had started the batch in my wonderful bread machine (thanks, Sara!) as soon as I got home from my afternoon task. A task so full of delicious smells and laughter that it brought back countless memories of being a kid in my Grandma's kitchen in Ideeho. She was the Grandma who always had the sugar-filled cereal waiting for us when we arrived, knowing it wasn't something we ate at home. She was so neat. But my favorite treat by far was her homemade Freezer Strawberry Jam.

Yesterday, my sister and I had concocted a batch of the same stuff. I ended up with six small jars of jam that are even now basking in my freezer ready to be consumed. No doubt, it won't take long. I laughed after asking my sister how long they would last in the freezer before spoiling...there's no way in the world these little jars of goodness will make it even close to that time period. We ate half a jar alone last night for our night cap before bed. Can it possibly get any better than hot bread, smothered in butter, then topped with homemade strawberry jam? I could think of nothing more wonderful last night as we ate in silence only broken by our "mmmmmm" sounds during each bite.

This was my first jam-making experience, and I would certainly call it a success. We first stopped at Wally World to get the plastic freezer jars and the Ball Fruit Pectin, which uses half as much sugar as the other brands. Next, we were off to Costco to buy four pounds of strawberries a piece. The ones I didn't use for the jam are cut up in my fridge and are going to be a perfect snack later today. With all the necessary supplies in hand, we went to T'liese's house to make our batches. I cut up strawberries for what seemed like six hours while she put Evan down for a nap. T'liese brought out her Cuisinart Food Processor, which has been on my want-list for ages. It sure made our job easy by pulsating the strawberries into a smooth, yummy strawberry emulsion ready to be added to the pectin / sugar combination. After stirring for three minutes, we were ready to put the goodness into the small jars. We let the jars rest at room temperature for half an hour then placed them into the freezer. I left one out because I knew I was going to make bread as soon as I got home.

The first bite was indescribable. I really felt like I was sitting at my Grandma's huge kitchen table, watching her cook cracked wheat for our breakfast, and listening to her hum as she worked. What a magical lady. I can't believe she's been gone for over ten years. Thanks for making yesterday so special, Grandma.

From now on, I don't think I'll be able to wait the full ten minutes of necessary cooling from the time the loaf of bread pops out of the machine to be able to cut it into slices. Not when I have Freezer Strawberry Jam waiting to go on top! What a treat!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Be Alarmed

Do you want to know about something that tickles my fancy? That's quite an awkward question to throw out so early on a Tuesday, I know. But I have to get it off my chest that I absolutely love designing stuff in my photo-editing software program, which is very similar to Photoshop. I got it for my birthday two years ago from my nice Hubby, who happens to know I get a little too excited about things like this. And I would much rather pay $35 for something than $600. ACDSee allows me to do all sorts of fun things! I use it to upload and edit all of the photos I take with my lil' Canon. And I also use it to make all sorts of fun things.

Like this.

The phone conversation with my sister went as follows:

T'liese: "So, I've been asked to design the invitation for an upcoming church event. Oh, and it needs to be done by tomorrow."
Micah: "Oooooo. Do you have any ideas?"
T'liese: "No, but I was just wondering if you could help me make columns or something in Word."
{I shuddered}
Micah: "Um...OK. Well, just click at top on the button that says..."
T'liese: "How do I turn my computer on again?"
Micah: "What if I just design something for you?"
T'liese: "I was hoping you would say that!"

Sometimes I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. But don't worry. I wasn't tricked. I LOVE DESIGNING STUFF!

This is what we came up with. After it was printed and cut (about 3 inches by 3 inches), it was placed on top of a Cricut-cut present that another gal had made. I think it ended up pretty dern cute. And it just reinforced how much I truly love designing stuff like this. I'm learning how to do more every day and really love seeing the end result.

What about you? Any fun hobbies that really light up your day?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Gardening We Go

We've been up to our elbows in dirt and potting soil. There is something so wonderful about planting our own food! I moved the little herb seedlings into their bigger pots this past week, and they are already flourishing with the extra root room. The basil has grown an inch in just three days! I can't wait to start using this stuff in my cooking. We are putting them in pots to keep them easily transportable. This will allow us to move them to shade or even inside if they get a little puny after 120-degree weather. We hope these little guys produce for many years to come, and I'm fine with helping them survive!

It seems like our garden boxes have been months in the making, and it's not an exaggeration. We planted our little seedlings on February 20th and watched them bloom and grow on our windowsills inside. About three weeks ago, they made the move to the great outdoors to get them acclimated to wind, sun, and heat. Meanwhile, we've been busy doing projects outside that all seem to have a due date. We needed to work on the new shed to move things into it to create the space to make our garden boxes. It's all been very procedural, and one thing had to be finished before we could move on to the next. So when I say I'm glad these garden boxes are done, I ain't a lyin'!

This might not even be the permanent home for our garden. But moving river rock to prepare other areas would have taken too long, and our seedlings would have died in their little growing containers. Maybe it's worth it to have kids right away just so we have the manual labor assistants! Is that a good reason? Because of the time crunch, we made a temporary home for our plants in the backyard (which will someday grow grass). For now, it makes a great location to house two huge garden boxes.

We were able to get the wood for the garden boxes on Friday with the help of my sister's truck. They will forever regret owning a truck because of how much we've had to use it to get big things home. Certain items just won't fit in the back of my Taurus! We had Home Depot cut the 16-foot boards into more manageable pieces to take home, and yesterday became the day to assemble. First we put together the corners and then attached the sides. It took about two hours to assemble both boxes, which are fifteen feet by three feet. It was quite a chore in the 93-degree weather!

John then went to work to make homemade garden soil. We have several knowledgeable gardeners in our neighborhood, and one of them offered a recipe for perfect soil in which to grow the green stuff. John bought everything last week to get ready...Compost, Gypsum, Bone Mill, and some of our crappy dirt all combined to make the perfect mix of garden soil. John sprayed it down last night to get it ready for planting. We will put the our sweet peppers, banana peppers, jalapeno peppers, Roma tomatoes, and hybrid tomatoes in it on Monday. We will also plant our bulb onions, and I am thinking we need cucumbers, zucchini, etc. So I might go vegetable shopping after we plant on Monday and assess what room we have left.

For today, we need a break. We are watching General Conference, eating French toast, and staying in our pajamas. I think we've earned a day of rest, and what better time to cash it in than during the official day of rest?

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