"Spin" in aviation training: a "stall" or loss of lift, a subsequent nose-down spin, the specific actions required for recovery, and the feeling, after recovery, that you could tackle absolutely anything!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Orion and Morris.

We see a large man roaming in a hallway.  He looks down at a piece of paper and then up at the sign on a door.  He opens the door and peeks in.  He's very big.  He takes up most of the doorway.
"Excuse me,"  he says to the receptionist, "Is this Human Resources?"
"Yes.  May I help you Mr....?"
"Orion.  And it's not 'Mr.'  Just 'Orion."
The receptionist looks down at her booking screen.
"Ah, yes, Mr. Oron.  Please head down to the room on the left.  They're waiting for you."
He looks and begins toward the room.  "Just 'Orion,'" he reminds her. "It's not hard. 'Mr. Oron.' 'Earthly twit," he mutters as he passes.
He enters.  He turns to close the door behind him and his sword, accidently cleans out an urn full of flowers.
"Sorry,"  he offers.
"Oh it's no problem.  Orion, my name is Juliet Herbert.  I'm the head of Human Resources here at 'Celestial Management Corp.'  And this is Morris."
Morris, a small, older man with a stop sign, an orange vest and a whistle stands and shakes Orion's hand.
"Hiya,"  he says.
Orion nods.  He looks at Morris, and then Juliet.  Juliet points to a chair and he sits, but not before adjusting the metal bits on his skirt and maneuvering his sword so he can be comfortable. She speaks;
"Orion, I know you're busy, so I won't take too long.  We've decided to open up the night sky a little to more current symbols of the times.  We don't have a lot of 'mighty hunters' walking the streets anymore as you may have noticed.  But we do have 'crossing guards.'"  
With that Morris stands up.  He holds up his stop sign, and blows his whistle.  
"That's me."  
"Sit down Morris," she directs.
"Yes ma'am."  He sits.
"So what we're going to do is to give you every other night off.  Morris, here, will be the constellation on those nights.  'Kay?"
Orion's jaw drops, almost to his belt.  He looks over at Morris who is avoiding Orion's gaze by polishing his whistle.  He is stunned.  
"Listen," Juliet says, "I know this is going to take some time for you to be comfortable with this.  But what about all of those other things you wanted to do, before...before all of your stars explode?  I have here in your file that you have always wanted to do some painting.  Now's the time!"
"Yeah," Morris says.  "Now's the time."
"Shut up Morris."
"Yes Juliet.  Sorry.  ...polish my sign."
"Orion, here is a card for a someone to help you through this change."  She hands him the card.  He looks at it.  It reads:

 'Mylar Quadraboob...Sky Therapy, Massage, and Tax Preparation.' 

 And then he looks at the picture.  She is beautiful and, uhm, exceptionally well...outfitted.  
"Quadraboob."  He gasps.  "Okay!  When can Morris start?  How about tonight?  I need to see this...helpful person."
Juliet smiles, as if she is expecting the reaction.  She moves a paper toward Orion and has him sign.  Orion rises and heads for the door.
"Wait just a second," Juliet calls.  "The belt.  You will have to share the belt."
Orion looks down and undoes the strap that holds the most famous three stars in the night sky.  He hands it to Morris.
"Okay.  Thanks.  Wow, all this time off....I really need a massage, and, uhm, I have so many childhood issues...and I haven't filed my taxes for 1.5 million years...I have to go find..."  And he is gone.

Juliet helps Morris into the belt.  She has to wrap it around his waist twice but it still works.  She looks at her watch and then at Morris.
"Okay.  Morris, Crossing Guard Constellation?  Get to work."
"Yes ma'am!"  He salutes and blows his whistle.
"Moriss don't do that."
"Yes ma'am.  Sorry ma'am."  He bows, awkwardly and backs out of the room. Juliet calls after him;
"Yes?" he calls back.
"Do up your fly." She hears a gasp, then an "Owwww."  And then the sound of feet running out the door.

We hear a buzzer sound and then a voice.  "Juliet, your next appointment is here.  A Mr.....'Man-in-the-moon.'"
"Send him in."

So tonight, when you look up at the night sky, look closely. If you see a stop sign and a whistle, you'll know it's Morris.  And Orion?  He's probably off getting some much needed....help.  As far as the moon is concerned, we'll have to wait and see.  Keep your eye on it.  Maybe you'll figure it out on your own."

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Gershwin's Glimmer.

I am envious of those with a profession that they love.  I see people driving to work, hitting their mark, or somehow making the day count by doing something that makes a difference.  And they seem quite happy.  But I wonder how they decided to do whatever it is that they are doing?  Did they throw a dart, or was there a glimmer; a hint somewhere along the way?  I'm curious.

George Gershwin wrote "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1924.  It is one of my favourite pieces of music and, more often than not, it moves me to tears.  Today, I read that Gershwin wrote it when he was twenty-six. I couldn't believe it.  I just assumed that a piece of music like that would have to be written by someone older.  But twenty-six!  And then I began wondering; what made him want to play like he did?  There must have been a glimmer.  There must have been something sparked inside that lead to such creativity. Without it, his music would have been forgettable. 

 It must be such a relief to be so consumed by something so passionate, like Gershwin, or anyone who has done great things, that there is no question as to the route you find yourself taking in life.  Your drive decides for you because you can't live without that special "thing," whatever it is. There is almost no discussion.  It's just understood.  What a gift.

I've done lots of different things in my almost fifty years.  You'd be surprised, actually. But I still haven't found the "thing."  I haven't found that one thing that fits or that takes all of the pressure off because you know that you nailed it;  that you are where you're supposed to be.  So I have this nagging.  There's this drive I have to keep looking.  There must be something out there for each of us.  Personally, I would really appreciate a little of Gershwin's glimmer right about now.  I may not come up with another "Rhapsody in Blue,"  but whatever my glimmer is for, I am ready and eager to get on with it.

Monday, 25 April 2011

A Word Please: "Druthers."

"Druthers."  I know.  You don't have them do you?  If you did, life would be different wouldn't it.  Nobody ever seems to have their druthers.  You never hear, "Thankfully, with my druthers right here beside me, I get better gas mileage."  Or, "If I never see another room full of druthers it will be too soon."  "Carl?  Carl Walton get down here right his minute and put these druthers away.  What did you just say to me young man?  I think we're going to have a little chat about your attitude and your druthers when your father gets home."  And "druthers" is always plural, never singular.  "And now, 'Hinterland, Who's Who...The Druther.'  The druther is a solitary fish that walks on land.  It emits an electrical signal that causes any automatic garage door within ten miles, to open."  'Never heard that either.

"Druther" actually is from an older American phrase; "would rathers."  So "If I had my druthers,"  means, " If I had my preference."

For example; Today I thought I would trim my hair.  You know, just a little trim to wrangle a few unruly curls that needed to go.  So I dampened my head, took the scissors and delicately went at it.  Five minutes later I was horrified to see that I was sporting what was, no matter how much I tried to deny it, a MULLET!    I considered, for a brief second, drying my hair and walking down in front of my kids to get their reaction.  But the horror was too much. And I couldn't afford their therapy, as well as mine, so I continued trimming.  Now I have very little hair.  IF I HAD MY DRUTHERS, I WOULD HAVE LEFT EVERYTHING ALONE AND GONE TO A HAIRDRESSER.  

"Druthers;"  Get some.

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Women in Your Life.

I know a lot of women, each one worthy of note but I have a select few that I hold in the highest regard.  One of these is my sister-in-law, Patty. A remarkable woman; I can compare her to no equal and know of no man that even comes close.  She is grace and strength in the highest degree.

People are works-in-progress. Each of us is composed of the traits and  flourishes that tell the story of who we are. We start out with the DNA we were given, an environment, and the innocence of living in the moment.  As we mature, we absorb what we need that will make us who, and how we are meant to be. We start to develop patterns and concerns, abilities, and the skills that will endear us to, and at the same time, discern us from others. Patty is someone who has been nothing but steadfast and competent all the way along. She is one of those rare women who seems to always have it together; a loving wife, the mother to three remarkable young men, and a good friend to the rest of us.  She is always there when you need her, and her efforts to bring people to their senses, some with the charm and finesse of a nice bucket,  have not been bested by any.  She is smarter and more tolerant than all of us.

I hope you have a woman like Patty in your life.  She is, most definitely, someone to emulate, and right now, someone to celebrate!

                       HAPPY BIRTHDAY PATTY!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The International Space Station and That Dog.

I wish I was a scientist.  I really do. If I could go back and do it all again, I would have paid attention in math and chemistry and I would be, right now, high above the Earth doing some experiment in the International Space Station.  I'm sorry, but I still don't understand why, when it passes, we aren't all out in our back yards watching it go.  I'm there, but I never see anyone else, except for the old, annoying dog in the Mercheson's yard. Its just he and I, watching something remarkable.

The I.S.S. orbits the Earth every ninety minutes, at a speed of (you might want to sit down for this,) 17,320 Miles Per Hour.  THAT IS REALLY, REALLY FAST.  We can see it, with the naked eye when the sun reflects off of it's sixteen solar arrays.  And then, THEN, inside it, there are people; brilliant people doing science.  Shall we discuss, for example, "Heliophysics."  Heliophysics, which is the study of the sun and how it affects the Earth, basically.  Say it: "Heliophysics." "Heliophysics."  I could have been a 

"Yes, Mrs. Demetre, this is Dr. Suzanne Crone."
"Oh, really.  How nice.  And what are you a doctor of...dear?"
"That's lovely.  And look at the new drapes in this room.  Aren't they something? I think I need a drink."

I've watched it pass for years now.  I check the website and find the times and the directions (Heavens Above) and then I wait.  And then it comes, like a trusted friend bounding out of his door after dinner.  It's bright and steady and never lets me down.  Every time I see it, it helps me to reset my priorities, and yes, it makes me a little sad; I wish I had stretched more. I wish I had challenged myself more.  But at least, if nothing else, I'm a fan.  I look up from whatever it is that I'm doing, and I see an example of how amazing man's ingenuity is. It's something to see.  It really is.  That Mercheson dog and I, we have yet to be disappointed.  I've seen lots of passes, but I don't think that dog has missed one.  Maybe he's not such an annoying dog after all. No sir.  Maybe not.


Sunday, 17 April 2011

Cinnamon Buns and My Bad Attitude.

It's April 17th and it's snowing.  It's snowing and it's grey and, though our house is up for sale, no one has even put in an offer and this town is draining the very life force from my body.  But I have decided to pass along a comfort recipe to you;

Why?  I could walk around saying "Harumph," and just keep this to myself. I do have a bit of a bad attitude, but I'm still, essentially nice.   Yes, lucky you.  I hope this helps you enjoy and endure wherever you are.  'Cause you're not here...in this house...with the snow...and the bleakness...

This takes a day and a bit to make.  If you have a social life, you know, where people call you to do things, don't start this.  You need to be around.  

TAKE: 1 tbsp plus 3/4 tsp of active dry yeast
3/4 cup of warm water
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp unbleached flour
and whisk gently in a bowl to proof the yeast
Sometimes you buy, what you THINK is yeast, but it's actually a football, or a gas cap.  Get proof, always.
Leave it alone to think about what it's done for 5 or 10 minutes.

DOUGH:  Incorporate proofed yeast into 
1/2 cup plus 4 1/2 tsp dry, nonfat milk powder
2 1/3 cups cold water
5 to 8 cups unbleached flour
5 tsp salt

Knead it lightly.  Don't go crazy.  The dough should be a tad bit unruly-looking and not smooth like the hood of a car or the forehead of that woman you saw in the book store last night.  'Tell me that wasn't Botox.   Only a tanker-full, I think.  I mean now, instead of showering, she has to 'wash cold, with like colours and lay flat to dry.'  Harlot.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the dough doubles in size.  1 - 2 hours.  That's right!  THIS dough rises in the cold.  Why?  Because this recipe is an aberration in the whole space/time continuum because it's so amazing.  None of the regular laws of nature apply here.

While that's in the fridge rising, TAKE: 
1 1/2 lbs of unsalted butter cut into 2-inch cubes
2 tbsp unbleached flour

Knead the flour into the butter with your hands.  This is a good way to get rid of stress. It's very cathartic.  If you want, you can shape the butter into little dolls resembling, for example, that Botox lady, or the arrogant bastard who cut you off as your were trying to merge into the off ramp lane.  Yes, you could recreate him and his stupid car being the real piece of work that he was, and then you could pick him up, ignoring his pleas for mercy, and squish him into oblivion.  Such power you have!  Once you have finished acknowledging your demons, shape the butter into a rectangle.  You can do this by putting it between two pieces of wax paper and using a rolling pin to smooth.  It should be about 10 X 12.
Let it chill in the refrigerator.  (This part does follow the rules of nature.  Don't think you can put it in the oven to chill.  That would be foolish.)


Take the dough out of the refrigerator and lay on a floured surface...I mean the dough.  (I didn't mean that YOU should lay on a floured surface. It's really none of my business what you include as your hobbies.  Who am I to judge?  But if you do...I know a good therapist.  Drop me a line. )

 TAKE the butter block and lay it on top of the dough.  The dough should be longer than the butter block.  Take one end of the dough and fold up over the center third.  Then take the other end and fold down over everything.  Then take your roller and flatten the whole issue out.  This takes a bit of muscle and adjusting.  Fold again and roll.  
THEN, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and put back in the refrigerator for 2 - 4 hours.

Repeat the fold-and-roll process as many times as you can during the day leaving at least the 2 hour rising period.  Sometimes, you need to let the dough sit for a bit after you've taken it out of the refrigerator before you roll it.  Don't ask me why.  It just might not want to stretch properly.  Maybe it's in a bad mood.  Give it a break why don't ya?

THEN, give it a final roll before bed time, and, in the morning, you will come down to find the most lovely, pillow-like mass in your refrigerator.  It's like it was massaged by angels during the night.  It is, to be sure, a thing of beauty.  Michaelangelo tried to paint it on the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel but, well, you know how those crazy Catholics were:
 "What do you mean, the earth is NOT the centre of the universe?  "This dough does what?  It rises in the fridge?"  

TAKE the heavenly dough and roll it out.  Sprinkle it with a goodly amount of brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.  You could add nuts or chocolate chips as well.  I would stay away from ham or vegetables.  No gravy.
THEN, roll up from one long side to the other.  Pinch the seam to keep it together.  Cut the roll into 1/2 inch pieces and set into a greased muffin tin or a big roasting pan.  Let rise, yes, in the warmth, for about 1 hour.

BAKE at 400 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes.  You'll need something underneath the pan to catch the buttery-sugary drips.  My kitchen kind of fills with smoke while I'm baking these so I put my fire alarm in the dryer until they're done.

THEN eat.  These are chewy buns, not like the dry, cake-like monstrosities sold in the mall. These have texture and integrity. 
They contain a gazillion calories and all of the flavour that goes with them.  

So there you have it. Enjoy. I'll be here, still, in this house...."Harumph." 


Thursday, 14 April 2011

House Showings and The Wolverine.

Selling your home is a lot of work.  It's not so much the paper work involved, but keeping the place a-sparkle for showings.  I like a clean house but I also have hobbies.  I like to go out now and then.  Sometimes I will eat a sandwich or play a tune.  I have been known to garden and don't get me started on going cycling.  Just don't.  The point is that I don't want to be cleaning all the time.  As a result, sometimes there is dust, or towels, or something evil that needs to be dealt with, like a wolverine in the basement, again.

I know, I can't have it both ways.  If I want to sell the house, I must make sure that it's clean for each showing. But what I would like, is some sort of guarantee that, before I vacuum the finish off of the wood floors,  the people coming through are really interested and not just "kicking tires."  So how about a little something for the effort?  How about a nice shiraz, or some bath salts, or bread that is really good toasted? How about a recipe for soup or a pack of 60 watt bulbs? What about dental floss?  Everyone needs dental floss. Just something, anything to take away that clinical, intrusive flavour and give a nod to me, the homeowner.  

You may think it petty, but this kind of offering would go a long way in making showings less of a pain.  All I need to know is that you appreciate the work I did in lieu of you, a complete stranger, coming through my home; the place where I live, and think, and cheat at "Scrabble."  I don't think it's too much to ask.  Of course actually buying the house would trump any little gift of soaps or that tastefully appointed home suturing kit.  But until that happens, I wouldn't dig around too much in the basement when you come.  I haven't gotten to actually dealing with that wolverine yet.  I've been kind of busy, you know, doin' stuff.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Muse Update.

Inspiration is a must for anyone delving into a creative project. The Greeks were big on this idea and wound up promoting nine women specifically geared toward inspiring mortals intent on producing creative works.  Comedy, tragedy, lyric poetry, erotic poetry, sacred poetry, music, astronomy, history, and something like clogging, or "Riverdance" were the general domains of their attention. One only had to summon them and the work-in-question would end up bringing the house down, or would at least be held over for a longer run with merchandising and a tour.

This is all very nice, but times change. Yes, we still need the muses to continue contributing to the nine classic areas, but perhaps the introduction of nine new muses might be helpful.  Let me know what you think:
"Cindy"  muse of fantastic dinner ideas...every single night!
"Alithea" muse of the best parking spot.
"Sloupy" muse of the ability to remember every joke.
"Brungia" muse of brilliant financial decisions.
"Albrethia" muse of never having to clean up dog vomit again.
"Caffeinia" muse of perfect coffee, always.
"Zips" muse of knowing names, even before meeting the person.
"Bulkits" muse of never needing a grocery list.
And my favourite:

"Pearl" muse of the wonderfully cogent and impressive rebuttal that comes when it is needed, not a half hour later when it's too late.

The 2011 Muse Update. I hope I didn't miss anything.  Maybe we should add "Nadine" muse of never missing anything.  Thoughts?

Saturday, 9 April 2011

"Pytor, Pass the Shovel, Would You?

You would not believe the help I get with my gardens.  We have a fairly big lot, adorned with several perennial gardens, a pond and waterfall, and a French drain which is an escape route for water runoff during a hard rain, through a shallow trench lined with small rocks.  Today was "clean out the French drain" day.  It's  a tedious job involving the removal of all of the rocks, the reshaping of the trench and then the replacement of said rocks.  Today, thanks to my Ipod, I had Tchaikovsky helping me and I couldn't have enjoyed myself more.

I adore Tchaikovsky.  Today, just for me, he played the most wonderful music while I worked.  I had to stop several times as his notes wrapped themselves around my heart; such a genius.  And I wonder how he handled such passion.  Was he in a rush to get the notes written down, or did they arrive, just in time as he was ready for them in his head? I'm curious. I would love to know.

There are many great composers and musical wizards out there.  Several have helped me in my garden;  Duke Ellington, Stanley Clarke, Bernstein, Gershwin, Florence and the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Wagner...the list is varied and long.  And they've all been so helpful.  But today it was Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky and I couldn't have been happier.  I only wish he was really there with me.  I would have made a nice dinner and we could have talked about life, creativity, and perhaps, endurance...and together, admired our day's work. That would have been something a little out of the ordinary I think.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Thank You All.

Last night, there was a concert at a local high school.  My youngest son was involved.  Actually, "involved" is an understatement.  He plays the upright bass, and the electric in three bands, plus one choir, and he sings in two more choirs.  He loves it.  Why?  Because the music program at this school, Port Perry High School, is unbelievable.  But last night, the concert involved not only the high school, but several surrounding feeder schools.  It was something to behold.

 Rory Snider-McGrath runs the music program along with Gord Girvan and Victoria Rensink; all of them so talented and passionate about their work. Yesterday, a group of the younger students from the feeder schools spent the day at the high school, playing with the older students and soaking in the atmosphere in the building.  It's a special place.  The bar is high, but it's nothing the kids can't handle...and they rise to the occasion every time. They are proud of what they do.  And they should be.  The final performance last night, involved 197 students playing one beautiful song.  Snider-McGrath was up on a table with his baton and music, guiding the younger, eager minds, along with the older, more comfortable kids...a sea of talent so glad to have an opportunity to be involved in something so special.   197 kids! Amazing.

I love the concerts at this school. They take my breath away, and always have, right from the beginning. But I'm not sure if all of the parents that attend are aware of just how lucky we are to have these gifted, caring people teaching our kids. ( If they were, maybe they would take their baseball hats off. 'Pet peeve of mine but this is my blog!)  So "Thank you all."  Thank you for all of your work and dedication.  I, for one, appreciate all of your creative energy and for helping to spark the very best in my son and the brilliant kids around him.  You are special people.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

"Wass on it?"

Making lunches for your kids can be grueling, demanding work.  As a mother, it's my duty to come up with something tasty, so the little dickens will eat it, and nutritious, so there is a possibility that they will grow strong enough to unball their socks for the laundry, maybe.  But after a bazillion years of trying to come up with something different, and feeling beaten, the good folks at NASA came to my rescue today.   That's right; NASA.

I get NASA updates in my email and this morning I received one that caught my eye.  There was no launch (Soyuz went a few days ago,) and there were no problems, but there was an announcement made regarding a meteorite that was found in Antarctica in 1969.  This meteorite, "Yamato 691 enstatite chondrite" apparently originated from an asteroid that orbited between Mars and Jupiter. (Yes, I know.  "Not another one!"  But stay with with me.  It's going to be good.)  On this meteorite, they found a mineral, never before observed in nature.  It's called "Wassonite," and though it's made up from sulfur and titanium, which we have here in buckets-full, this mineral has a unique crystalline structure that sets it apart.  And...AND, it's less than one-hundredth of the width of a human hair.  So these guys were nothing if not thorough.  

I love this stuff.  Just when you think that everything has been found, something like this comes along.  "Wassonite." So, for at least a little while, lunch will be fun.  

"Here honey.  Here's your sandwich."
"Wass on it(e)?"

Thanks NASA!

Monday, 4 April 2011

"Alluring what?"

'Not sure what I did wrong.  I don't know why I am not simply overwhelmed with admirers at my door, following my car, singing to me while I floss.  After all, I shaved my legs using a product that describes its particular scent as "Alluring Avocado."  

                              "Alluring Avocado."

Why don't we all take a minute and think about this, 'kay?  Anyone?  I'm not feeling it.  Avocados are not alluring.  They are salad. Or dip. Or that bumpy green thing that you buy, let sit on your counter until you get distracted, miss it's prime and then throw it out...again.  I have never read a love poem with the word "avocado" in it.  Any of the great operas use it?  No?  Big surprise. 
Who came up with that?  Who thought, "Hey.  We'll call it 'alluring avocado.' It'll sell like crazy!"  Stupid me for buying it.  

Why not "Night in Paris?"  Or "Panther Attack?"  Or, my favourite,

                             "Alluring Avocado." 

 I might as well have used "Yorkshire Pudding,"  or  "Poached Egg."  Maybe it's a big ad industry joke;  "There goes Todd Prankill.  He's the 'Alluring Avocado' guy and he's a millionaire."    I shake my head.  What's worse is that I nicked myself too.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Spring Proink.

Spring is here.  Yeah, I know, people are bursting with clues; the Robins, the little flowers, tax season; all the giddy little signs that Mother Nature is shedding her winter duvet.  My favourite sign is "The Spring Proink." This is a dedicated maneuver unique to the spring calf and if you haven't seen it, I feel sorry for you.

Shortly after a calf is born, it is up wobbling on spindly legs trying desperately to understand why gravity insists on being such a pain in the ass.  At the same time it's mother, with a tongue the length of a beach towel, gives it a bath and starts to tell the calf how to do calf-things.  Before she is half way through reasons why condiment jokes are in poor taste, the calf has started to proink. It goes like this:  back end up, front end up, back end up, front end up, back end up, front end...up......TAIL...nice!  These are full, semi-controlled  leaps, not subtle gestures.  It's hilarious.  You can't watch such a dance and not smile.  Pure joy, and why not?  No one has told the little rascal that he's going to be dinner some day.

Happy Spring Everyone!