Crickets and Tumbleweeds

Lots going on here at Chez Daisyfae, but the compelling urge to write has left the premises…

Being a blogger, however, i must uphold the “Blogger Oath”, and not let the complete lack of having something worthwhile to say stop me from posting!

Some scores, highlights, and coming attractions…

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For lack of meaningful pursuits, i ended up in the midst of a “Jello Shot Bake Off”.  Two friends and i talked enough shit about the quality of our alco-culinary skills that it seemed reason enough to have a party.  Although my entries to the contest were out-classed by my compatriots, i crafted a Rainbow Jello Shot Cake.  Took almost an entire bottle of vodka, and 5 1/2 hours, but it scored the coveted “Holy Shit!” award…i don't cook... i distill...

It wasn’t just the jello shot smack talkin’.  Spent a good bit of energy (and money) over the winter renovating my downstairs theater room.  It turned out to be a nice space – suitable for play.  Not just because of the wall mirrors in the fitness area…

work it on out

Over the course of the long holiday weekend, i managed to work in a long bike ride, a cardio-horseback riding lesson, and a ride on the motorcycle.  Somewhere along the way, i wrenched my lower back, and am momentarily hobbled.  Part of my self-prescribed physical therapy involves being flat on the floor, legs in the air, working the core muscles to un-wrench the knots.  My dog does not understand physical therapy.  He wants to play.  He is a turd.

The song of my people...

Remember that time i got drunk at a charity auction?  Oh, yeah.  That time last February to be more specific (Smart asses… All of you…).  In a few short weeks, i’m going to suit up and sit in the right seat of this thing.  And foul my undershorts at very high speeds…

Marchetti

photo from the combat usa website.  holy shit.  what was i thinking?

The first half of the year has gone pretty well, but i’ve missed traveling.  Due to circumstance, most of my holiday time is going to take place over the next three months.  In addition to shopping for booze, turns out i’m also a fiend for shopping for hotels and airfare!  Getting pretty jazzed about what lies ahead…

Might be running into some blog mates soon, too.  Oh, and fishies.  The SCUBA habit demands attention. Suspect i’ll be even more scarce out here over the next few months!

Onward!  Adventure awaits!

Road trip for the ages...

photo found here.  i’ll have my own to post in a few months!

Off we go…

i should have known better than to drink whisky at a charity auction.  Just another Thursday night, and i was hanging out with Studley at a fundraiser for a local community outreach foundation.

Mostly, wanting to drop a little change in the till, peruse the raffle items, and encourage others to empty wallets, it seemed like a pretty brilliant idea.  i was also working the network of non-profits, kissing politicians buttbones and making connections to support my pet projects.

Four drinks into the evening, it was time for the live auction.  One of the items?  A chance to rappel down the side of a 30 story building during the annual autumn city festival.  Oh, THAT is a grand item for a woman with a paralyzing fear of heights!

My auction paddle (how DID i end up with an auction paddle, anyway?) jumped into the air and i started the bidding at $500.  Mercifully, i was outbid, and somehow found the good sense to put the paddle under my arse and stop bidding when it approached a thousand dollars.

Whew!  Crisis averted!

Momentarily, it turns out….

Not fifteen minutes later, there was another item that caught my attention.  “Fighter Pilot for a Day”.  Hello!  What’s that?  A chance to do ground school, and then sit right seat in a fast Italian turbo-prop acrobatic plane!  Well, that could be a good day.

Paddle flies into the air before i can stop it!  Bad auction paddle!  Stop that!

It was a bit of a frenzy, as there was a gentleman across the room who seemed fairly intent on indulging his testosterone on a day in the wild blue yonder.

What?  Me?  i won?

Oh, shit…. Yeah.  How’d that happen?  Well… ummm…. (heh, heh) It’s for charity, right?

Air Combat

So it’s on.  Still to be scheduled, but i’m going to do this.  Likely sometime this summer, i am going to put on a flight suit*, do a little bit of training, and launch myself into the sky to do a little formation flying, dogfighting, and underwear soiling.

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This was posted on the book of faces later that night.  The next day at the office, i passed a friend in the hallway who had seen it.  He stopped me, shaking his head.

Bill:  You’re nuts, you know that?

daisyfae:  What?  i just bought a “Fighter Pilot for a Day”.  What’s the big deal?

Bill:  Have you figured out what you’re going to do with him yet?

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i’ll admit, this is a little scary.  When i went to bed that night i stayed awake awhile, wondering if i could really suck it up, sit right seat in a very fast, acrobatic plane, and set myself up to pull up to 6Gs…

The next morning, i woke up with a very different thought.  Sure, i’m afraid of dying.  But i’m more afraid of not living.  Bring it…

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* i will be wearing a substantial sanitary undergarment under my Muy Macho flight suit.  Video is taken in the cockpit.  It may be an hour of me screaming…

Girl Meets World

The first one?  Got it when i was a 30-year-old kitten.  The passport photo shows a young woman with long brown hair, wearing an 80’s power suit with linebacker shoulder pads.

Stamped with my first overseas trip to Paris.  A business trip.  Alone.  Nervous, but excited.  Practicing my school-girl French on the kids, the dog and the empty seats of my car in preparation for my first international trip.  The City of Lights.  This little country bumpkin met up with some Brits with dancing shoes, and we closed that town the fuck down on our second night at the conference.

By the time that one expired, i was a seasoned international traveler, with five more trips under my belt.  Took my parents and my children with me to Germany on two different trips, knocked around Hong Kong and Bangkok with my sister, T, and dragged my spawn to visit London, Cornwall and Devon.

The photo on the next passport was taken close to my 40th birthday, and is my current active ticket to adventure.  Now THIS baby has seen some action!

Trips to Spain, Germany, and London in the first few pages.  Iceland.  Greece with my darling blogmates!  Peru and Ecuador.  The Galapagos, for fuckssake!  Visas to visit Vietnam and Cambodia!  The start of my diving adventures in Mexico, Honduras, Bonaire, and The Bahamas. Delicious trip with my children in Turkey last year.

ALMOST, but not quite, full… just a couple of pages in the passport book that are naked.

Renewal is tricky.  With a kid living halfway around the world, and a serious travel addiction, i need to keep a hot passport.  Find a window where i am not traveling, too.  Trouble is that it should be renewed about 9 months before it expires, and i probably should have done this immediately after my last trip in September.

But i waited…

Given that the next passport will last until i’m 60, it needs a decent picture.  So i was waiting until i had a good hair day.  i had such a day about a month ago, but i had also sprouted a grape-sized subcutaneous zit alongside my nose that would make me look like a mutant, so that good hair day got away from me.

Visited my hairdresser last night, and it always looks better with a fresh coat of paint.  Today was the day…  Good hair.  No zits.

This one will take me into retirement.  Once the shackles of the daily grind come off, it is my intention to burn a fucking HOLE in this thing!  And away we go!

At 30, 40 and 50.  There i am… Pinned in official State Department time…

“What the Fuck Were We Thinking?” – Part 896

As i careened into the concrete wall, adjacent to the carpeted area at the local skating rink on a Wednesday night, i looked at Studley* and asked “What the fuck were we thinking?  Seriously?”

He sat on the bench, stretching out his calves, and shins, and arches, and feet, and thighs and said “I have no fucking idea”.

We stood up, and launched our middle-aged carcasses back out onto the hard wood floor for another few counter-clockwise circuits.  Dodging the little kids.  Being swooped by the douchebags more skilled skate-dancers.

On our next rest break…

daisyfae: Is it worth it?  Really?  Is this the stupidest thing we’ve ever done?

Studley [deep in thought]:  …

daisyfae:  We’re going to die!  Is this the worst one yet?

Studley: We’ve said this before.  I’m trying to remember when…

We went back after it.  Around and around.  Stiff of lips, and stiff of legs.  All in – at least for tonight.  Until we had to take another break, because the DJ had just turned down the ambient lights, and cranked up the moving disco lights, which had an unexpected effect on our stability and balance.

pic found here

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Fuck you, Yoda.  Now, how about using that Jedi-mind-trick-thingie to take down that dancing, skater, douchebucket who just buzzed past me?”

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* For new readers, Studley McRocklegs is the call sign of my Statistically Significant Other, S.S.O.  My dive buddy, adventure buddy, and fellow “making up for lost time” mid-life crisis partner.

daisy, daisy…

Still slammed, but took most of the day off for an excursion in Capital City with Mr. X*.  Gorgeous, unseasonably warm winter day was not to be wasted, so the plan was to bike downtown for lunch, then hit a theatrical production at the local university.

But my knee remains somewhat gimpy** after the latest injury.  i’ve been biking through the warm winter, but not pushing myself hard.

Mr. X:  Do you want to try my tandem?

daisyfae:  Ummm…. Do you think i can manage it?

Mr. X:  Well, you’ll need to be completely submissive, and that goes against your nature…

daisyfae:  Hey!  i can sub – i just have to pick the right dom!  i don’t trust just anyone!

And so we went.

To ride on the back seat of a tandem bicycle requires some serious concessions.  There is no steering.  With my feet in ‘cages’ on the pedals, when we stop?  He holds the bike upright.  When he pedals?  i pedal.  Whether i feel like it or not…

The view is a bit different, too.  Mostly, i’m staring at his ass back, trying to stay centered, and not toss the balance out of whack.

This was something new for him as well.  The only other person who rides on the back of that bike is his son.  The kid has been riding back seat since he was about seven years old.  Now that he’s fifteen?  He’s pretty comfortable back there.

So Mr. X had to communicate a little more than usual.  To keep from dragging pedals on the pavement, right turns require keeping the right foot up through the corner.  Similar process for left turns.

It took a few minutes, but i sort of got the hang of it.  The physical part was easy.  The psychological part?  Whoa…

Mr. X:  Keep pedaling back there!  You don’t have any brakes, honey!  If you stop pedaling, it won’t stop the bike!

Lunch, two beers and the first half of a reasonably decent show later, we were headed back to his place.  Almost twenty miles covered. It was getting more comfortable, but giving up control was still causing me headaches.

Some advantages, though.  Conversation was easy, and we didn’t have to worry about running into each other.

Mr. X:  You’re doing great for your first time out!

daisyfae:  It’s still weird, but i’m enjoying it!  It’s different…

Mr. X:  It’s up to the Captain to keep you on the bike!  Front seat is called “Captain” and back seat is either “Stoker” or “Rear Admiral”.

daisyfae:  “Rear Admiral”.  i like that…

And i continued to enjoy the view… staring at his fine, spandex-covered ass, nestled nicely between my hands on the seat in front of me…

* In case you need a scorecard to keep track, Mr. X is the extremely fit bicycle commuter, with a body that’s built for two the physique of a gymnast. 

** Basketball.  Turns out, 49 1/2-year-old women may not be cut out for this game.  Landed hard from a lay-up and jammed the knee.  Hurts like a motherfucker sometimes.  Worst part?  Missed an easy shot.

Always use protection

Installed a shelf in my garage last fall.  The helmet shelf…

From left to right:  Paintball mask.  Ski helmet.  Motorcycle helmet.  Horseback riding helmet.  Bicycle helmet.

If any of these get a little too dusty?  i’m doing it wrong.

What’s missing?

Stay tuned…

i’m still a bit buried with stuff.

Work has thrown me some of the most incredible “you’ve got to be shitting me?” moments ever.  Just when i think people can’t surprise me?  i am proven wrong.  Repeatedly.  Sometimes within the same day.

Skiing?  Sort of.  With the warm winter, it’s been more like pushing slush from the top of a hill to the bottom without breaking a leg whilst wearing slippery sticks on my feet.  But, the warm weather has allowed weekly horseback riding lessons to continue!  And a few bicycle rides thrown in for good measure.

The home office renovation project continues – hoping for completion over the weekend.  If the planets align, it will allow me a chance to gather all tax documentation before the end of this month.

And then there are those other things… Things that don’t require helmets.  But probably should…

Merry Christmas

i have many tales to tell. But not just yet…

The Boy and i have started our journey home, and The Girl is back at her apartment, recovering from our visit.

Through the years, it became a family tradition as we erected* the Christmas tree, for me to stand back and say (in my best June Cleaver voice) “It’s the most BEAUTIFUL Christmas tree EVER!”. The kids would play along with this saying “Yes, Mother! It really IS the most beautiful Christmas tree we’ve ever had!”

This year? We spent Christmas Eve in a very nice hotel room, thousands of miles away from the unopened box in the storage room at home that holds two decades worth of Christmas ornaments.

During the afternoon, The Boy and i were camped in the hotel room, waiting for The Girl to finish working for the day. Since i am a frequent visitor at this particular hotel chain, i had been granted access to the Executive Lounge. With an open bar. The mini-fridge up there was loaded with Carlsberg and Tuborg Gold!

Sipping free beer as we prepared for a siesta, The Boy asked if i’d ever seen a Heineken Christmas Tree. Googling it, we agreed that it might be possible to construct one. It would require some ingenuity, but we had a fridge full of free beer and an afternoon to kill…

We did it. By exploiting some odds and ends we swiped borrowed from the hotel bar, we built a tree. Even rigged the desk lamp to light it from below.

We were joined for the night by two of The Girl’s friends – they’d stayed too late to catch the last buses home, so we shuffled the sleeping arrangements and made some room on the floor for the menfolk.

Midnight arrived, and we toasted our Christmas in Turkey.

“It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever.”

And it was…

20111225-134858.jpg

* nhur, nhur, nhur…. “erected”…

Moooooove!

“There was a wreck on the island airstrip tonight!”

“What happened?”

“An incoming plane hit a cow.  On the runway.”

D’uh!  Of course it was on the runway!  This became a running joke.  As did references to Honduran hamburger…

We had a grand time Friday night, yukking it up over a cow that had wandered onto the island airstrip.  Fortunately, no one was injured.  Except the cow.  Which was seriously dead.  Possibly serious damage to my liver, as well…

surly bartender

Our final night in Utila, and we were enjoying a barbecue poolside.  Followed by a nekkid pool party.  Well… for some of us…

at the dive shop, the daily sightings board…

As we collected in the lounge the next morning, grabbing breakfast before hopping the pick up trucks that would take us to the airstrip, we realized that perhaps something was amiss.

This is a tiny island.  Eight miles long.  Three miles wide.  It has one airstrip.  There was a dead cow, and a plane that had no landing gear on it.  There is no tow truck.  There were no wheels on the plane.

Our charter flight to the island

But no one whined…

We needed the charter flights to get back to the San Pedro Sula airport – on the mainland – to catch our commercial flights home.  At noon.

But no one complained…. It was pretty clear that there wasn’t much we were going to be able to do about it.

The plane was not moving itself.  The charter flights taking us to the mainland could not get in because of a cow.

Turns out, it was a feral cow.  Seems no one on the island wanted to claim ownership.  Someone was responsible for fixing that plane, and the cow apparently didn’t have insurance.

So we waited.  And we had more coffee.  The resort owner took his backhoe out to the airstrip in an attempt to clear the wrecked plane.

Nope.  Not gonna happen.

It was then that “Plan B” was unveiled.  Always have a “Plan B”, folks!  We were grouped and loaded – luggage and all – onto the small dive boats!  To Roatan!  Another Honduran island, with airports!  The charter flights would meet us there!

One of the “escape” boats, loaded and ready

Two hours, over rather rough seas.  Pissing rain.  A few green passengers, me included.  Racing through swarms of butterflies – migrating through the nasty weather!

Waterspout in progress.  Never touched water.

Comparisons to “The Amazing Race”. With no complaints…

We were met at the docks by transportation – two church buses, prepared to haul us and our luggage to the airport, where the charter flights awaited.  Watching the clock?  We all knew it was almost a lost cause.

What would Jesus drive?

Have i mentioned that the commercial flights from the Honduran mainland only go on Saturday and Thursday?  We pretty much had one shot at getting home, and it was becoming clear that it wasn’t going to happen.
Travel representatives – hired by the resort owner to get us out – met the buses, and explained “Plan C”.  Turns out, it’s also a good idea to have a “Plan C”.  With no time to get back to San Pedro Sula, we would be re-booked on commercial flights from Roatan.

This was not trivial.  There were thirty of us.  As the flights only go on Saturday and Thursday, they were close to filled.  No way in hell there were thirty empty seats.

So we waited.  They just put us all on standby.  Some through Houston, a couple through Dallas.  And about twenty-two of us standby to Atlanta.  It looked grim.

But there were no complaints…

We cheered when the last guy got on the plane!

It is true that you can tell a lot about a person by how he or she reacts to lost luggage, rainy days and travel disruptions.  i will tell you that dive people are fabulous!

Had sent an e-mail to my son, explaining my predicament, and the fact that it was likely i wouldn’t be home as planned.

daisyfae:  We got stuck because of a cow-plane collision.  On the runway.  May not make our flights to Atlanta today.  Will keep you posted.

The Boy:  Assumed it was on the runway.  Unless they have flying cows down there.

In your own skin…

During a moment of exhaustion reflection on the dive boat last week, i realized that i was the second youngest person in our group.  Only the 40-year-old woman – married to the oldest man, aged 70 – was younger.

One of the most accomplished divers is 68 years old – she’s logged over 650 dives, and takes the most remarkable photographs!  She loves sharing her ‘finds’ underwater, and is a lovely coach and mentor.

SCUBA is a hobby that can last a lifetime.

Even more important, however, is the fact that we were all quite comfortable together in the barest of bare essentials on that dive boat.  Men AND women.  Not one hard-bodied supermodel in the bunch, yet not an ounce of apparent self-consciousness.

No whining about saddlebags, poochy guts, baggy boobs.  “Doing the Dance” to wriggle into our wetsuits and dive skins when the dive master called “Five Minutes!”, there wasn’t enough room on the boat for privacy.  It was a floating co-ed locker room.

There are many reasons i have gotten sucked into this activity.  But being around adventurous older women, who couldn’t give a fractional shit about being thin enough, trapping a man, or what they look like* in a bikini?  Sheer delight!

Here’s to shedding meaningless societal constraints, and living your own life!

* The technicolor diveskins serve two purposes.  In warmer water, a thicker wetsuit isn’t necessary for warmth, but having a 1mm “skin” to protect from reef rash, stinging ‘fire coral’, and other scrapes and scratches is nice.  The colors?  When you’re in gear, and underwater?  Everyone looks alike.  A distinctive ‘skin’ can help your buddy keep track of you…  Plus they’re just big damn fun!

Into the drink

My body still feels the motion of the ocean.  Seven days diving in the Western Caribbean, from Utila Island, Honduras.  When i wrote about this before, i was just getting started – following the childhood dream to channel Raquel Welch in that white wetsuit in “Fantastic Voyage”.

Now?  It’s more than that.  A lot more.

Since my brain is still scrambled, and i haven’t finished knocking the stink from the SCUBA gear, just some random thoughts on that thing that is diving…

– No longer just a thrill to breathe underwater, or see pretty colored fish, it felt different this time.  i didn’t struggle to conserve air – i stayed down for an hour, with the required ‘psi’ left in the tank when i climbed back on the boat.  Floating, floating, floating.  The sound of my breathing.  Focused on nothing other than the moment.  This is as close to meditation as i will likely come.

– The little stuff.  Nudibranchs.  Slugs that are teeny-tiny, and wear kaleidoscopic colors.  Ok, not slugs, but soft-bodied marine gastropod mollusks.  One of the divers with my group is skilled at finding these – and loves sharing the joy of the little stuff.  What a delight!

– Floated face to face with a green moray eel, hanging out in a coral cave.  Blue eyes.  Kind of reminds me of a dog.  Spotted my first octopus during a night dive – watched it turn from brown to blue when i hit it with the spotlight.  Blew my mind!

– “It’s like being an astronaut!  I get suited up, and visit an alien world!”  The words of a young diver from Arizona who spent time with our group.  He’s right.  i DO feel like an astronaut.  And no need for diapers…  Speaking of which…

– i have to wonder if there is a medical condition known as “SCUBA-Induced Incontinence”.  There are two types of divers – those who pee in their wetsuits, and those who lie about peeing in their wetsuits.  While diving, you pee when you need to.  Made me wonder how things would be once i got back on dry land…

– Divers, in general, are folks who might have adventurous tendencies.  And they also like to play!  To spend a week hanging out with such folks – who find joy in being alive?  A true pleasure.

More later… But for now?  i need to boil my diveskin….