Thursday, October 8, 2015

Rediscovering old joys.

Towards the end of September, I took a week off. No writing, no jobs around the house, no doing things I "needed" to do.

Occasionally there was a pang of guilt over not accomplishing anything, but those pangs were really pretty small. I called it "Practicing For Retirement."

I rediscovered the joy of flying an antique airplane in which the third wheel is at the rear of the plane rather than in the front. On a beautiful cloudless Friday after lunch, the Taylorcraft was pulled out of the hangar, hand-propped and taken to the skies of north Texas. No particular destination, just flying low and slow a thousand feet above the ground waving at the farmers harvesting their fields.

We'd had some rain not too long ago, so the fields and vegetation were green and lush--rare for this part of Texas this time of year.

The temperature was perfect on the ground and even better a thousand feet up. The nice thing about old antique airplanes is that there is a lot of air that leaks in. This is generally, however, not considered a neat thing or a beneficial thing while flying in the winter.

Even nicer was that a cold front had just moved through and the air was stable and smooth, as evidenced by the picture I took of the instrument panel. It's not often you'll see the vertical speed indicator (VSI) in the neutral position (not climbing nor descending) and the ball & needle centered.

That, I felt, was definitely picture worthy.

Another thing I like about the Taylorcraft is that while we have an intercom in it, I like flying without
the headsets on. Because our airport is under the edge of Class bravo airspace (DFW), radios are handy things to have in airplanes. However, we can easily take off and remain well under the bravo airspace and never need to communicate with anyone, which is how I prefer to fly such heavier-than-air machines.

We do have a small radio on the instrument panel that runs off a small rechargeable battery should we need it. Otherwise, I prefer to fly with no headsets.

Sooner or later, you do have to return to civilization and the following picture was taken on the left downwind for runway 32 back at the home airpatch.

The next day, Saturday, my beloved Texas Tech Red Raiders played the TCU Horned Frogs in Lubbock.

It was, without doubt, the most exciting, awesome college football game I have ever witnessed. We lost, but when our young wet-behind-the-ears program plays the number three team in the nation down to zero on the game clock and the game still wasn't over because everyone in the country watching knew that Tech could score from anywhere on the field, that's college football.

I make mention in my novels how much two of the main characters enjoy watching college football on Saturday afternoons. These past few weeks have reminded me just how much I enjoy it.

Sunday, we had the End Of The World Red Moon Of Doom Eclipse occur and I was ready. Not necessarily for the end of the world, but for the eclipse. Another afternoon of exercising the fabric and steel of the Taylorcraft followed by an excellent chicken friend steak dinner at a mom & pop diner just up the highway from the airpatch was completed by a relaxing evening of photographing the eclipse.

Sitting on the tailgate of my pickup truck at the end of a taxiway at our airpatch, I fiddled with my Canon EOS digital SLR and a long lens, the tripod and the remote cable release. Once again, I was reminded how much I enjoy photography. I made a note to myself to slow down and start enjoying these things again by doing more of them.

I finished the vacation week off by rediscovering another old joy, and that is the fun I have making BBQ. A trip to the grocery store and meat market resulted in my big upright cabinet smoker being filled with brisket, ribs and sausage. What we didn't eat that evening (most of it) got vacuum sealed and put in the deep freeze.

The last full day of my vacation started off at 0700 watching our adopted daughter work a new horse she'd recently brought home. Beautiful gray mare quarterhorse, but she's a green horse with a cold back. She needs some work, but if there is anyone on this planet who can--and will--get it done, it's our youngest. She has a connection and a way with horses that I haven't seen since my late paternal grandfather was alive and still working horses and mules.

And as I'm writing and posting this, I'm embarking on another few weeks off, but these next weeks will have a sprinkling of responsibility in them, of which will be included the continued progress on my upcoming next two books. Because like everything above, writing is still a joy as well.