Thanks, Randy

The view out my plane window

Last night, I was on a plane.

The takeoff was really rough. I am not afraid to fly, but I don’t like being bounced around either.
It had been a long hard day and I was way past tired.

I struck up a conversation with the person next to me towards the end of the flight. I have made changes in my life that are inconvenient and expensive and probably misunderstood.

I decided to live the advice that I like to give: don’t postpone joy.

I can be extremely decisive. That doesn’t mean I don’t overanalyze after the fact. That’s what I did the entire two-hour and 45-minute flight. I admitted this to the total stranger beside me and he told me an amazing story about his near-death experience in a job that wasn’t worth dying for. And he told me it would be okay. That it’s possible to start over.

The landing was smooth. And I realized I could put the past behind me.

Thanks, Randy. You were the messenger I needed.

The third option

I am not linear and I am not a black and white thinker. I have always loved the idea of the third option. In a world of binary choices, the third option always gives me hope that anything can be resolved, that we can find a place to understand — even appreciate — one another.

So, I got excited when I read There are three sides to every argument by William Ury. Ury is the co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation. The third side is a place of perspective — Ury calls it the balcony. It’s a place to go and remind ourselves what’s really important and what’s really at stake.

Things shift during flight

Fasten seatbelt sign

P. Scott Lebert: An appreciation

 

I met Scott when he and my sister were first dating. The first thing I learned about Scott is that he loved to fly and he wanted to be a pilot for a major airline. He had a day job in project management, but the airport was his second home. It was a long road to becoming captain; there were lots of charters and flying cargo planes. But I never doubted his resolve. Scott was a well-trained pilot and most recently he used that training as a check airman, ensuring the readiness of other pilots.

On his Facebook page, Scott’s message is to help others realize their dreams of flying. Scott made his dream come true and he was working to help others realize their dreams.

Last year Scott spent a lot of time helping me buy a new modem and router for my home network. If you have seen their setup, you know it looks a bit like it’s ready for takeoff. He never hesitated to help and he was unfailingly generous. He always, always picked up the tab. He also taught us to bring chocolates for the flight crew whenever we fly, a simple act of kindness and appreciation that will connect us to Scott every time that we fly.

Scott loved his family. It’s sometimes hard to see in the day to day how much someone loves you, but when my husband Robert and I spent time with Scott he talked about flying and family. He loved Stacey and Paul, his parents Flo and Paul, his extended family and of course, Theresa. He cared about his friends and coworkers. He worried about you and he wanted you all to be well and happy. He loved you all so very much.

We are all connected. John Donne said, “No man is an island, entire of itself: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” Sometimes we forget that until a link of the chain is lost and we move closer together again and reconnect the chain. We hold tight to the loves we have and those we have lost.

So, hold each other close.  Don’t wait to say I love you. Don’t postpone joy. Dream big and fly high. It’s always good to observe the fasten seat belt sign and open the overhead bins carefully. Everything shifts during flight, sometimes even our belief in what is possible.

John Gillespie Magee, a WWII pilot wrote the sonnet High Flight to describe the unbelievable freedom and beauty of flight.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or ever eagle flew —
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Scott, we have told endless stories about you. We marveled at the head of hair that you used to have, we talked about the little things that made you, you—and made you special to us. You will be missed.

Southwest's Maryland plane [Photo by Robert Haight]

Mementos

I have a lot of mementos. They date back to the day I was born, including a copy of the Washington Post AND Scientific American! I have boxes full of cards, letters and other mementos. We are trying to get them down to a more reasonable amount, so we sorted through boxes that we have been moving around for 20 years or so. I looked at every card and every letter. The ones that really moved me were the letters from my Grand Pop. He was my mother’s father. A large and imposing man, an ex-military guy turned security guard who lived in Florida while we were freezing in the Chicago suburbs.

When I was in elementary school, I apparently wrote a lot of letters to him, starting when I was 5 years old. Yes, I wrote letters when I was 5. I wrote a lot of letters as a kid, including some that were quite long if I am to believe the responses from my aunts, grandparents and friends.

What must he have thought of this little girl, half a country away writing him letters? I am sure that they were mundane and a little perplexing given the 50 or so years separating us. He probably thought: who is this kid? What could we have possibly had in common? But he told me about his job and how he was feeling. His letters were so sweet and kind. It’s only from a great distance through time and space that I realize what a gift they were and are.

In the latest round of memento sorting, I found a card from a childhood friend sent when I graduated from high school. I didn’t realize that our letters spanned almost a decade. So I looked her up on Facebook and reconnected. <3

A Northern Nevada Garden

I had a website visitor today looking for my Northern Nevada Garden site. I kept the site going for a long time, long after I left Reno, but finally retired it last fall. I loved that garden. I kicked butt in that garden.

I don’t have the website but I do have photos and a good memory. These are from July 2008. I had an AMAZING crop of squash and tomatoes that year. The garden was so beautiful.

Nevada Garden July 26-27, 2008

If you live in Northern Nevada, I suggest buying a copy of the Sunset Western Garden Book and installing raised beds if you want to grow food crops. I used 1/3 peat, 1/3 pumice and 1/3 potting soil in my raised beds. I heard a story on the radio several years ago that said most gardeners in most states will have better results with raised beds.

This is a photo of the raised beds under construction in March. I used large river rock which I had in abundance in my yard. That’s Brin, my gardening dog. She has supervised gardens in 4 states (and counting).

This is the same garden in May:

I used wall o’ waters from Gardener’s Supply to get a head start.

This is the garden in June. I had irrigation so I connected drip to the existing system. If I were going to do it again, I would add a new valve for the garden. A lesson I benefitted from in my Arizona garden.

And here they are in July.

The huge tomato plant on the left is a white currant tomato. It was an over achiever. SO MANY TOMATOES.

Read up on short season tomato varieties, I think you will be more successful. I bought several from Territorial Seed. Zucchini and summer squash did well for me. If I could do it all over, I would have planted more raspberries. More delicata squash. Later, I learned the amazing staying power of eggplant. I would plant that, too.

Also, buy a composter. I had a Steve’s Earth Engine (double bin). Loved it so much–I composted everything. Never threw away a single leaf and believe me, I had a lot of them.

Happy gardening, Nevadans! Spring is coming!

Start a conversation

I have always loved conversation hearts. Something about conversation and flirting with candy. Darn near irresistible. Sadly, I can’t eat them because they contain gelatin. So, a couple of years ago I decided to make conversation hearts out of fabric but with a nerdy engineering twist. I searched the interwebs for a how-to and found this tutorial by the lovely Jessica Peck: Valentine Candy Heart Pillows Tutorial.

I use a blind hem stitch and invisible thread to sew on the letters. You can get two pillows from 1/2 yard of fleece. So much fun from so little fabric.

Conversation Heart Pillows

I am adding to the collection this Valentine’s Day. Stay tuned!

 

 

Rock the flip flops

Driving home on Saturday, the battery light came on in the car. And then all the indicator lights came on. And then the speedometer died. And then it was if we had a blackout in the car.

We stalled out on the frontage road not too far from home. We were trying to make it to a parking lot and didn’t quite make it. So we got out and pushed but we were pushing a big car up hill and couldn’t quite do it. Then a young couple stopped and offered help. They had a young daughter, 4 years old maybe? She really wanted to help but her parents made her stay safely in the parking lot. After rolling back to align the car, the four of us pushed it into the lot. Our pint- sized Samaritan kept asking, “Now can I help?” And finally she got the green light. And she leaned in and pushed.  I looked down and noticed she was wearing silver glitter flip flops. Superhero? Probably.

Thanks to our Good Sams and Earl the best tow truck driver ever, we made it home safely.

We watched YouTube videos to learn how to change an alternator. Deciding that we didn’t want to lay on the ground and pull out an alternator, we found a local mechanic who specializes in Toyotas. And he helped us get it there. In the snow. No small thing when your car won’t start.

Shake it off

I stepped on the scale for the first time in the New Year.

Mother trucker.

Robert stepped on the scale and came out of the bathroom with a grim look. He pulled out his 2016 Sucked shirt. Still appropriate.

We have to shake it off. And we will.