Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Six

Hmm, where do I begin. Let’s just say that I had nightmares the night after my second official flight lesson. Nightmares in the sense that I was dreaming I was still in the cockpit stressed out beyond comprehension. I even forgot to take pictures (pictures below are from our Thanksgiving trip, where I was a happy and coherent passenger). That’s what this Adventure in Aviation should be called: Stressed Out Beyond Comprehension.

Me: So, why is it that we are practicing slow flight when it’s my understanding that we never want to be flying through the air so slow that we are just above stall speed? I’m not sure when I would ever use this.
Mr. Instructor: Jocelyn, it’s because every time you come in for landing you are utilizing slow flight. It’s very important to practice it. Even more so when we are well above the ground so there is plenty of time to recover.
Me: Oh, ok.

25 minutes later …

Me: I’m still a little confused on when I would use slow flight. Aren’t I trying to use the airplane to get me from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible? Slow flight doesn’t seem very efficient and it puts us very close to the dangerous predicament of a stall.
Mr. Instructor: Like I said, it’s important to practice slow flight because you are utilizing it every time you come in for landing. Just try to remember that.
Me: Oh, ok.

25 minutes later …

You get the point don’t you? I was stressssssed out beyond comprehension.

The day started off swell. The weather was nice and Camarillo was reporting only 5 knot gusts. I was excited to finally get back in the air after taking a week off since my last (and first official) flight lesson. Although I did think of some crazy things during the drive: “Lovies, did you ever think that you were going to die just before going for a flight lesson? Cause I’m thinking of all the potential hazards that might kill me today: birds, other planes, engine shutting off, motor exploding.”
“No. Did you ever think you were going to die when you were 16 and just learning to drive?”
“I guess not. Well, actually, I probably did in the beginning. It was a long time ago. I don’t remember. Nevermind. I’m fine.”

I was responsible for pulling the plane out of the hangar by myself. I mention this because it was a big deal for me since I had never done it before, and it made me realize that I’m not going to have the luxury of Wes babysitting me every time I take a flight lesson (although I think it should be mandatory). I completed the walk-around and refueled the plane with the help of Mr. Instructor. I almost forgot to put the oil tank cap back on after checking the oil, which Mr. I vociferously cautioned against since I could have “caused the engine to explode mid flight” or something to that extent. Fun!

After a successful taxi and run-up, we are lined up ready for take off. Take off’s always exciting. I haven’t done very many, especially since I think Mr. I dominates the controls on the take off (for his and my safety I’m sure), but it’s exhilarating to feel the plane with so much power and the wings lift, lift, lifting you off the ground. Once we’re airborne the real fun starts.

Mr I: Today is your second flight lesson, which will basically be a review of everything we did in lesson 1, but think we will go ahead and practice slow flight as well. To prepare for slow flight, you will need to operate the throttle and the flaps, decrease your power, then pitch up to maintain lift and airspeed, as well as use you right rudder. We want to get the plane flying slow, right before the point where it stalls.

Ya, so whatever he said, which sounded easy and straightforward, was not. Holy cow is that plane hard to fly when your noise is pointed straight up and you are going 45-55 knots! I’m trying to maintain my designated heading AND altitude, while the plane is squishing and squirming like a dying fish on dry land. Try to maintain control of one of those. It’s not fun, and I guarantee one of you won't make it out alive.

Thankfully after practicing, practicing, questioning (see above) and then practicing some more, I completed 1.7 hours of (slow) flight training. Mr. I would have liked to practice some touch-and-goes, but those 5 knot gusts turned into 20-25 knot gusts, and our little light sport does not do well with those. I couldn’t have been happier to see the runway as we were coming in for landing. I think I was more alert and aware during those last 10 minutes of flight than I have ever been. And when we landed I even wanted to talk on the radios! “Camarillo ground, light sport niner-one-niner-echo, clear of active at bravo, requesting taxi to east end.”

Hallelujah. Now just give me my two 30 pound flight training manuals and a glass of wine. I’ve got some serious reading to do.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy (After) Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a happy, hearty and safe Thanksgiving! Mine started off with a little of this:

(names have been removed to protect the innocent ... and no, it was not for me)

and this:

Blue skies and sunshine.

plus this:


It was a busy weekend. Ranch activities and another edition of Adventures in Aviation coming up!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Project CB - An Update

This morning's weigh in: 135.4 lbs.

This morning's culinary activities: I made corn bread and an apple pie.

Conclusion: Project Champagne Butt stands no chance during Thanksgiving week.

Afterthought: There are areas on my bottom that look like something which rhymes with mottage wheeze.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Serious Case of the Snuggles

One of my favorite weekend activities is snuggling. It also happens on the weeknights, but the weekend is where we do some serious, down-to-business, no nonsense snuggling. We lay down at night knowing we won’t have to get up early the next morning and we lounge in bed until we are good and ready to get up. I’m a lucky lady to have a man that takes his snuggling seriously (probably more seriously than I do), but living with a professional snuggler has its disadvantages. I imagine it’s like living with a professional football player. Your whole life becomes about football; it revolves around it.

“Sorry honey. We can’t go out tonight. I’ve got a game later.”
Or in my case, “Are you sure you want to go out? We could get into our sweats and snuggle. Doesn’t snuggling sound better than driving 30 minutes to hang out in a noisy bar? We could rent a movie to go with our snuggle. What do you think?”

In most cases I would concur, because I’m a homebody who fully realizes that I can have a WHOLE BOTTLE of wine for the same price as what a GLASS of wine would cost in a bar. Oh, and yes, I do like to stay home and snuggle. But some nights are meant for taking a walk on the wild side and staying out PAST 8:30pm. And on Saturday night we did just that.

“Woohoo! Are you excited to be going out Lovies?”

“Ah, come on. We never go out. I’m excited!”

(30 minutes later)

“Wow, it’s so pretty at night. We never get to see Downtown at night!”

“Ooo, look at all the buildings.”

We arrive at our destination, but it's not long before the novelty begins to wear off.

(30 minutes later)

“Wow, it’s so noisy and dark in here. Guess this is what it’s like to “go out” on a Saturday night.”
“Ya, don’t you wish we were back at home in the warm house all snuggled up?”
“Geez, alright. Just a little bit longer since we came all this way. How about we stop at the taco truck on the way out and I get you some tacos for the ride home?”
“Ok, and THEN we’ll go home and snuggle.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Walk Down Memory Lane

I used to work in the entertainment industry. More specifically, I was one of two assistants to a motion picture literary agent with A-list clientele (I'll save the name dropping for another time). I was freshly out of college and it was my first "big girl" job. I had always wanted to work in the entertainment industry and spent many of my college years completing internships to build my resume. It was only logical to send my resume to the biggest studios, agencies and production companies in town once I graduated with a degree in International Development Studies. What does it mean to have a degree in International Development Studies? I could, theoretically, tell you something about Africa, something about dictatorships, war, famine, socio-economic-political inequality… and ya, stuff like that. How is it logical that obtaining such a degree would qualify me to work in the entertainment industry? It isn't and it doesn't. But when you say you have a degree in "International Development Studies" it sounds like "I am so smart and compassionate that I am qualified to do anything, even run for President; and no I do not have the time to explain what my degree means because I am too busy feeding starving African babies. Thank you."

In hindsight, that August and the year that followed would change my whole outlook on life. No longer was I a wistless college student who complained about people demanding too much of her; now I had to juggle the responsibilities of a real job with people whose demands ALWAYS became the priority:

"Bikini wax appointments should never be made when someone is on their period! You're supposed to know these things! It's your job! Reschedule it now!" (whew, just needed to get that out)

It makes me laugh to realize how naïve I was before starting this job. Here's what I mean:
August 18, 2007
Dear Friend,
Guess what! I'm going to be working as an assistant for a senior motion picture literary agent at one of the biggest agencies in town! She basically has the job that I have only dreamt about; coordinating writers and directors (her clients) to the funding, studios and other key components to see that these people's movies get made. She also pulls her talent/clients from the international market as she is constantly attending film festivals. Well, that's what I've been told so far, as my first day will be Monday. Exciting isn't it?

Oh, Jocelyn. You really had no idea what was in store for you. Silly you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Aerial Perspective on Life

Some people want to get married in a church. I prefer the rolling fields of a dusty cattle ranch.

Some people want a big, lavish wedding with hundreds of guests. I prefer an intimate gathering with as many people as are able to fit on this pad.

Some people get so caught up in the day-to-day that the world just passes them by. I prefer to stop once and a while and marvel at the beauty of this universe.

Some people take comfort knowing they are marrying the man or woman of their dreams. I take comfort knowing that he’s the man of my dreams, AND he also happens to be a gangsta.

Some people think they can make it through life all by themselves. I used to think that, but now I know that even if I could, I wouldn’t want to go through life without my copilot.

XOXO Jelly

Some people forget that both marriage and life are supposed to be adventures. I welcome the adventure and try to focus on the positive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Cinq

This weekend marked my first official flying lesson. Official meaning: I FINALLY HAVE SOMETHING WRITTEN IN MY LOGBOOK and I’M STILL ALIVE. Yes!

It was all planned out. Saturday we would go to the airport and I would take my lesson with Mr. Instructor, while my Lovies worked on things in the hangar and perhaps fit in some flying of his own. Then the weather happened. Wind gusts up to 30 knots do not make for the most ideal flying weather, especially when the plane weighs like 30 lbs. Yes that was a gross exaggeration, the plane weighs like 32 lbs, but the point is that the weather is one of the most important elements to be aware of when you’re flying. Winds, icing, all that jazz; you’ve got to be on top of it. So my flying lesson got pushed to Sunday, and I got to do yard work instead.

The winds were still blowing on Sunday morning, but they had subsided enough to make taking a flying lesson safe. Then as we’re driving to the airport, I realize “Holy cow, I’ve never been in an airplane without my Lovies, let alone responsible for flying the thing!” I guess that’s not really true, considering all the commercial flights I’ve taken with strangers, but at the time all I could think of was how nervous I was and how strange flying with Mr. Instructor would be. I’ve got flying dependency issues. Probably should break those before I fly SOLO. Don’t worry, that won’t be for a looong time.

We arrive at the airport early, giving me enough time to center my thoughts and calm my nervousness. Mr. Instructor arrives and goes over the basic certification and documentation requirements, which I quickly confuse because now the anticipation of getting in the plane and flying is distracting me. We do a walk-around, get in the plane, and then it starts. Switches are flicked, buttons are pushed, something about the choke, something about the throttle, press that big red button, propeller is turning, “no keeping holding down the red button until it starts!”, engine is alive, “ok now start heading towards the taxiway.” I think “Wow it’s happening so fast. Thank goodness I know how to taxi.”

We make our way down the taxiway towards the runway. No other planes are around which is perfect, because now I can focus on our plane and what Mr. Instructor is saying without being distracted by other people. “Mr. Instructor is saying so much and I’m having trouble trying to listen to him while not crashing this airplane! Wait, what? You’re telling me it’s my plane? But we’re about to enter the active runway, which means we’re going to have to takeoff, and I’ve never done this before… Oh crap, too late.” At this point, perhaps by divine intervention, I’ve successfully operated both the throttle and stick and we are airborne.

Being in the air is thrilling. “The takeoff was scary, but I sort of conquered it, and now I’m in a more familiar element. I can do turns and fly the pattern so lay it on me Mr. Instructor!” Total time my confidence lasts: 2 minutes. As soon as we’re heading east into unfamiliar territory I get nervous. And then Mr. Instructor directs me to head towards 170 (on a compass, north is 360 degrees and south is 180 degrees). Except at 170 there is a big freaking MOUNTAIN. I do not like to fly towards, around, by, over, under, anything a mountain unless it is completely necessary. Call me crazy.

Mr. I: Now start a left turn. No, a steeper banked turn.
Me: Uh, you want me to turn in front of the mountain? Cause I was going to go around it.
Mr. I: No, turn in front of it.
Me: Are you sure? Do you think we will clear it?
Mr. I: Yes, we are well above it.
Me (unsaid): Oh sweet petunias, I sure hope you’re right!
I should have clicked my radio on so my Lovies could have heard that conversation. He was listening to us on the radio as we flew around.

We’ve been flying for what seems like an hour and my nerves are shot. Mr. Instructor apologizes that he has to cut today’s lesson shorter than normal; he would love to fly longer since we’re doing so well, but how about we head back to the airport and do one round of pattern work before we’re finished. Somehow I equate this to mean: Mr. Instructor will now land the plane; my job here is done. Not so fast. “Wait, what? You’re telling me it’s my plane? But we’re about to do a touch-and-go, which means we’re going to have to land and then immediately takeoff again, and I’ve never done this before… Oh crap, too late. Man, this keeps happening!” 

But look! That little spec is us!

When we finally land for a complete stop (airplane language for we are done with our flight), I am sweaty, fried yet have an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.

As intense as that lesson was, I can’t wait to get back in the air and practice more and more.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Project Champagne Butt

Everybody loves a good diet story don't they? I was thinking about calling my diet story "Project Cellulite", as gross as that sounds. But I've come up with a better title: "Project Champagne Butt"; because that's the truth of it. I have a champagne butt.

And when I'm ready to get this new diet up and running guess who's coming with me. My John Doe, my Lovies, Wes. We've all heard about Wes's "diet", the one I've supposedly put him on, and the one that had him eating 6 hot wings, 4 spiral sandwiches, ½ pan of rice crispy treats, 1 bottle of La Fin du Monde beer, ½ bottle of Riesling and almost a whole bottle of Champagne… oh and veggie sticks with guacamole… the other night. Apparently veggie sticks = diet. His reasoning is impeccable.

Since Wes isn't taking his "diet" very seriously, this could be the perfect opportunity for me to take charge of the situation. Things have gotten to detox status. It could get ugly. Stay tuned!

And for everyone who thinks dieting is stupid, here’s an easy breezy pizza recipe!

1 pizza dough (homemade is best)
1 heaping cup mozzarella
4 asparagus spears, peeled into strips
3 slices prosciutto, torn into pieces
½ cup goat cheese, crumbled.
Red pepper flakes

Roll out pizza dough. Assemble mozzarella, asparagus, prosciutto and goat cheese on top. Sprinkle red pepper flakes. Bake in 500 degree oven for 15 minutes or until edges are golden and cheese is bubbly. Enjoy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blueberry Muffins = Delish

There's nothing better than celebrating a Friday with one of your favorite desserts. My favorite happens to work for both dessert AND breakfast, so really, where could we go wrong? I'm talking about blueberry muffins. I'd also like to argue that blueberry muffins are an any-season dessert. You could make them in June when blueberries are in peak season, or you can make them in November because Ralph's has blueberries on sale 2 for $3!

Let's do this.

First, I like to print out a recipe which I use as a guide. What I end up with (and what I am documenting here) never matches what the recipe says. I like to improvise when I cook, and with this recipe, I think I did something right.

I did follow the preheat oven to 350 degrees and the place paper liners in muffin pans instructions, so at this point, you should too.

My recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar and 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature. Cream the sugar and butter together until light and fluffy (or something like that).

Next add 3 large eggs to the mix. Beat until well combined.

Then beat in 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 cup sour cream, and 1/4 cup milk.  

Then, in an effort to keep the dishes clean up to a minimum, pile 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt right on top. It's Mt. I Hate Cleaning Up Dishes!

Ok, now fold 1 cup blueberries into the mix.

Scoop batter into muffin pans and fill each cup to the top. 

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester or wooden skewer comes out clean.

Now the hard part is deciding whether or not you want to share.

I did!

Whip up a batch of these babies and you'll be sorry you hadn't done it sooner.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Maturity is a funny thing. Sometimes it works in reverse. This is a self-reflective poem I wrote almost five years ago when I was a junior at UCLA and not quite 21:

Once there was a girl, a very beautiful girl
Who could make you believe, make you feel, all within the world of her words.
Once this girl believed in her own words, in the crafty structure of their composure.
But then there were questions and demands to know what it was that she was going to do.
What, when all the words faded away and left her in the imminent vacuity of inability.
The only loneliness, no one hearing what it was that she was saying, the exposure of her nature.
Once there was a girl, a very beautiful girl
That withered from others conceptions and expectations, as she couldn’t be who they wanted to see.
A death, an utter tragedy, of one who created her own reality.

And this picture is a representation of what I was doing last night:

But hey! I didn’t finish the whole bottle! That’s mature right?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Won't You Be My Neighbor

"Well hello there. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood isn't it? Let me introduce myself. My name is Donkey and behind me is Mr. Jack. We're going to be your new neighbors."

"But wait, who is this fine creature you brought with you? Wow, he’s got a big tongue. Do you think he will eat me?”

"Sniff, sniff. Woof. He almost smells as bad as I do!"

"Maybe I will try to take a bite of him instead."

"Darn, I can't reach. Well I guess we could be friends. Welcome to the neighborhood."

"P.S. Watch your back."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Adventures in Aviation, Part Quatre

I’m realizing that using the French translation to account for my flying experiences (Part Deux, Trois, etc) is unsustainable. Especially considering that my adventures in aviation are rapidly increasing beyond my knowledge of French numerals. But for now, this is Part Quatre. It could also be called Part Jocelyn is Expected to Bring out Her Bring Guns and Fly the Pattern. Our perhaps Part Weddings are Expensive and Cause Anxiety and Flying After Meeting a Wedding Photographer Does Not Alleviate that Anxiety. But now I digress.

As you can see, I have evidence that I am taking my unofficial flying lessons seriously. I brought my shoes. You can also see that I’ve been sporting a 6, yes 6, week old pedicure. I never thought I’d be one of those people who are too lazy to remove old nail polish as it grows out, but look how far I’ve fallen. I wonder if I can grow it out all the way without removing it? That could be something impressive I could tell my friends. Reminds me of the time in college I wanted to grow my underarm hair out just to prove a point about how women are subject to prejudiced standards of beauty. I never did it. I just felt the point should’ve been made. Wow, now I’ve managed to digress and gross you out at the same time.

But yes, I managed to do a little bit of flying on Sunday. I never seem to ask Wes what he has in store for me before we get up in the air. Probably because I know he’ll say “I don’t know. Let’s just get up there and see what happens”, which will freak me out more since I’m already thinking of the millions of things that could happen, none of which I am trained for or are likely to remember. Even during the walk-around my mind’s turned into a pile of static mush; it strains to keep perspective, struggling to focus on the now yet trying to remember each past experience. But as soon as we're in the cockpit and I put my radio on my mind focuses. Now I get to look at the pretty screens that tell me what to do! I mean, now I get to focus 90% of my attention outside the cockpit and let the “feel” of the airplane tell me what to do.

So once we're airborne, Wes moseys us on over to Oxnard and decides that today we (I) will practice landings and flying the pattern. Personally, I like being up high in the air if we’re flying. There’s less stuff to crash into, like THE GROUND. But each adventure in aviation wouldn’t be fulfilling if I wasn’t going outside my comfort zone and slowly conquering my fears! Wes walks me through it, letting me handle the throttle and stick and reminding me of the altitudes, angles and airspeeds which I should follow while flying the pattern. Let’s see what I remember: hmm…. just give me a minute… well you want to be full throttle on take off, then you want too (shoot, Wes is sitting right next to me and I so want to ask him, but I need to at least try to remember! Raa!)… then you want to start to pull the power back about 200 feet before you reach your cruising altitude, which in our case was 1000 feet. We’re approved for left traffic, so when we’re pulling our power back we also want to be making our first 90 degree left turn. Then we level off. We’re cruising to the left of the airport, and when we reach the runway identifier numbers, we pull the power back even more (maybe to 3500? I’m guessing) and we give plane 10 degrees of flaps so we start to descend. Then once we’re at a 45 degree angle past the end of the runway we point the noise down, make another left turn and cut the power even more (it’s getting really fuzzy now). We’re constantly monitoring our airspeed as we make the final left turn trying to line the runway up between our legs.

Then we launch our torpedoes and shoot the enemy traffic out of our way.

Just kidding! We actually pretend we’re going to land, but just after we reach the landing threshold on the runway, we push the power all the way in and take off again. Then we fly the pattern again and again just for fun!

Flying the pattern’s pretty cool. It’s almost as much fun as heading back to the hangar after my flying lesson is over.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Je suis une île

I am an island. An island made up of a million tiny particles of sand, particles that represent the experiences I’ve had in my life. I used to know all the particles intimately. I could recount how each one landed on my shore. But now it seems like there are too many particles to reference and the significance of each one has become diluted. I question whether I feel like myself or someone who has been swept up by the current of life and is now haphazardly floating about.

This is probably typical of a 25 year old (also typical of a 16 year old; perhaps 25 is the new 16?). I suppose the particles will slowly float down from the whirlwind and land upon my head, reminding me where I’ve been and where I should go. And perhaps the winds of change will blow me from my island, towards new adventures which lay waiting.