Monday, February 28, 2011

The Message in the Details

This may look like an ordinary street to you. It does to me. It happens to be a street I drive down every day on my way to work. It’s not a very attractive street. The Valley’s weird like that. On one part of town you’ll see streets lined with beautiful homes and fancy shops, and on another part of town you’ll see more commercial streets with strip malls and trashy store fronts.

The reason I’m posting this photo is because there’s something special hidden in the details. Some people believe the Universe sends them coded messages; answers to the questions they struggle with in daily life. In my case, I would like to applaud the Universe for having such impeccable timing.

Yes, Judgment Day is coming on May 21st. Although I'm not sure I need to cry out for God's mercy at my wedding. But I'm guessing Family Radio 1280 had something else in mind when they posted these billboards all over town.

Friday, February 25, 2011

There’s a Hole in My Shack

The hole in my Shack is not to be confused with the hole in my head. The hole in my head is much more wide and gaping.

There’s been some serious demolition going on over at the Shack, so I thought I’d do a Friday Remodel Roundup for y’all.

Front of house before:

Front of house no more:

Dining room area before:

Dining room area no more:

Side of house:

See through the house:

Cocoa sitting:

Cocoa standing:

See! Lots of changes are happening! Eventually it will be kick-butt house. Right now it's just a real expensive pile of lumber. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adventures in Aviation, Part XI

I don’t have a regular flying schedule. I try to take a lesson each week, but work, weekends out of town, and weather often get in the way. This is probably why I’ve only accumulated 11 hours over the 3 months I’ve been taking lessons. This is also probably why I won’t get my pilot’s license for 100 years. You have to put in the practice time (I’m averaging 4 hours a month), plus the reading time (I’m averaging negative 4 hours a month), so this is going to take me a long time!

I scheduled a lesson for this past Sunday, and remarkably, nothing interfered with my plan. It was a lovely cool morning and only a wisp of wind was blowing through the air. I’m trying to remember if I felt nervous on the drive over to the airport. I usually do, because, uh, flying is nerve-wracking! But I’m getting to the point where I see it as a task, one that I’m becoming more competent in performing, as opposed to a chore, where if I screw up it’s ruler on my knuckles! Or plane crashed into the ground, either way.

I greet Mr. Instructor at the hangar and complete my preflight inspection of the plane. There’s some oil leaking out the front cowling, but we determine it’s overflow from the oil tank and nothing to be too concerned about. I’m going to make a bold assertion here and say that airplane maintenance is about patterns. If you notice something wrong on more than one occasion, you should take that as a sign to investigate it more. It’s also not a bad idea to make a pattern out of servicing your bird. But that’s what I have Wes for (wink, wink). Now that I re-read that, it might make you think I meant something other than what I did. What I meant was: I am too lazy and ill-informed on all things mechanical, that I use Wes’s brains and brawns to do it for me. Not sure if that’s any better, but it’s time to move on (ramble much, Jocelyn?)

Once we’re in the cockpit, Mr. Instructor asks if I would like to hear what he would like to do during today’s lesson. Why yes Mr. Instructor, do tell!

Mr. I: I would like you to start the plane, taxi, do the warm up etc. while communicating with ground and tower, take off and fly us over to Oxnard for touch-and-goes. And I’m not going to say anything.
Me: Uh…
Mr. I: I think you’re capable of that. You don’t need me to do anything and I’m not going to say anything unless it’s hazardous to our safety. So let’s go.
Me: Uh…

Actually Mr. Instructor, I would NOT like to hear what you would like to do today. You wanna hear what I want to do today? I would like to get a massage, have a mimosa and then get my nails manicured. Because yesterday I spent the day building an awning for my new mobile home and the roofing material, which weighs a million pounds, smashed my fingers into the ground and ruined my self-applied manicure, so now I’m left with chipped nails and bruised fingers! Oh, and an awning for the mobile home. Awesome.

I didn’t have the guts to whine and cry about my manicure to Mr. Instructor, so I decided to suck it up and do as instructed, very slowly… and deliberately… like … I had never … done … it … before. It’s funny how when you’re put in the hot seat, something that is so routine becomes extremely difficult and confusing. I did manage to get us airborne and on our way to Oxnard without incident. It wasn’t until we were approaching Oxnard and the tower told us to enter right traffic for Runway 7 that I became confused.

Me: I’ve never landed at Runway 7 before! I’ve always landed at Runway 25. I’m not sure how to do this!
Mr. I: That’s ok. But you have to be prepared to use both runways depending on the wind conditions, so this is a perfect opportunity to practice it. Follow along that road you see running parallel to the runway and then make your right base and final turns as you would if you were in the traffic pattern.

Nothing like jumping right in to do something you’ve never done before. And speaking of things which have never been done before, just as we complete our touch-and-go on Runway 7 and are lifting off, the tower calls and says they are switching traffic to Runway 25. They say we can enter left traffic on climb out and circle the airport, or we can make a 180 and land back at the airport on Runway 25. (*Just to note, Runway 7 and Runway 25 are the same strip of runway. They are named differently based on the opposite directions they point on a compass: 70 degrees versus 250 degrees.) Apparently, this 180 turn is known as the “Impossible Turn”. I’ll explain: If you were taking off and your engine quits while you are still under 500 feet (no engine means you’re going down baby), the emergency procedure to follow would be to land the plane straight ahead, even if that means into a field, on a street, etc. You would think that since you are still close to the airport (remember, your engine quit just as you were climbing out) you could just turn around and land on the runway. Not so. Generally, you do not have enough altitude or power to glide back to the runway, so attempting it is more dangerous than making an emergency landing somewhere other than the airport. Well Mr. Instructor saw this as a perfect opportunity to try something he’s never done before: the “Impossible Turn”. He cuts the engine and declares “We’re simulating an engine failure. Let’s see if this plane can make it back to the airport given the current conditions. I’ve never done this before. This should be interesting!” Thank goodness he also said “My plane”, because I was really confused (the "Impossible Turn" wasn't explained to me until we were back on the ground). Luckily, we made it back to the airport, but just barely. The lesson learned is if the engine dies on the little red plane on takeoff, and we’re at or below 500 feet, you better not try to make it back to the airport. Just cruise on into someone’s backyard and ask them for a sandwich.

The rest of the lesson was spent flying the pattern and practicing landings. Turns out I’m getting better at landing. I did a good 3 or 4 landings all by myself! Not that this means I know what I’m doing, I’m just getting luckier. Mr. Instructor was impressed and said that I’m getting closer to … solo. This makes me excited and terrified at the same time. There’s no way I’m prepared to fly by myself, and I’m guessing Mr. Instructor keeps talking about it as a scare tactic. I did finally admit that I’m behind on my reading, although I blamed it on my fiancĂ© who insists I build roofs on the weekend as opposed to study (under the bus he goes!), and I don’t see why I can’t continue to use it as an excuse.

“I’m sorry Mr. Instructor. I can’t solo yet because I’m confused on how the rudder works. And that whole pitot tube airspeed thing, that's tricky too. Just let me read those Chapters again and I’ll get back to you. Thanks.”

It’s genius.

And if you're curious, here's a look inside the cockpit of the plane I fly. Crazy huh? This is where I make the magic happen.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Three Months

In three months…

I will be…

Married to the man who can’t get enough of my dance moves, the one that makes me go to Home Depot on the weekends and smash my fingers on roofing supplies, the one who complains that I splash too much water around when I’m in the bathroom (ha!), the one who cleans up my splashed water, the one who says everything I cook is delicious, the one that makes me laugh, the sexiest man alive, and my best friend.

I’m pretty lucky…


Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning Questions

Why is air free? Was hasn’t someone put a price tag on this abundant element which is necessary for human survival? Most everything else in life has a price tag.

Some might say you cannot control air therefore you cannot commoditize and sell it. But if you think of it in different terms, as in: What if you polluted all the air and concurrently developed a gas mask that would filter out the pollutants? Now you’re making money!

But is the point of life to make money or to breathe?

Also, why do I reflect on things such as this? My 25 year old brain should be thinking about peace, love and rock ‘n roll, not how economics generates potential social calamities.

I have a lot of questions on Monday mornings.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Citrus Kind of Day

There’s a small citrus grove on the ranch on a quiet spot near a stream. It’s a little oasis in the middle of cowland. The grove used to be much larger, but now all that’s left is a couple of orange trees. Wes and I made our way out to the grove just around sunset when we were at the ranch last weekend. We wanted to see if the oranges were still good considering it’s so late in the season. A few things became apparent on our excursion:

1. Cowboys are territorial.

How do you keep unwanted vagrants from plundering your orange supply? Create a bilingual sign that warns of toxic fruit.

2. Cowboys need to be more creative.

Having a bilingual sign is a good start, but having it say “Don’t pick oranges. You will be shot” would be more believable than “Don’t pick oranges. Toxic”. That’s a clichĂ©.

3. This Valley girl needs to work on appropriate footwear.

Am I trying to broadcast a fish-out-of-water, yes I’m not from around here message? Even Cocoa came prepared. And I’m pretty sure I was standing in a mixture of poop and dirt.

4. I love this place.

I’d take this over the Valley any day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Divorce Attorney: Staple Remover

My latest artistic creation is a follow up to the one I posted last week entitled “Marriage: The Ultimate Stapler”.

As promised, here is “Divorce Attorney: Staple Remover”.

They are evil, evil beings with sharp claws. Watch out!

P.S. I have way too much fun with Illustrator.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rolling Thunder

There she is. In all her 13 and a half foot wide by 40 foot long splendor. 

Her name is Rolling Thunder.

Not bad for a trailer eh? I mean "mobile home".

Let's take a look inside.

This is the view from the living room looking towards the kitchen/breakfast nook.

And here's the cozy little kitchen.

I like the layout of this area. There's a four burner oven, a good-sized sink, plenty of counter space for what we need and a raised bar countertop for sitting/eating/hanging out. And the baby bay windows at the back of the kitchen provide a great view and lots of light.

The living room.

We're going to have to be creative using the limited space, but a couple of small couches or loveseat combo will probably work.

The hallway from the living room to the master bedroom and bath (aka the ONLY bedroom and bath).

The bathroom.

It's a tight squeeze.

And now we come to the main event...

Ta da! The master bedroom.

We'll be lucky if we can fit a queen sized bed in there. Wes was joking about getting a king sized bed and angling it into the corner of the room (the only way it would probably fit). That would eliminate all the walking space in the room, so we'd have to hop from the doorway to the remaining corners of floor space. I had visions of us as rabbits hopping around the trailer after he said that. I might create a sign: Walking prohibited. Only hopping allowed while in trailer.

And now let's hop back out into the hallway! 

Here's the back door which will eventually lead to the deck.

The view from the back porch makes it all worth it.

In closing, I will leave you with a question: How do you fit a 13 and a half foot wide trailer through a 12 foot wide cattle guard?

Answer: Fall in love with a man who has wicked welding skills and tell him to start torching.

The End.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Moving Up in the World

This past weekend wasn’t my average weekend. It started out with wedding prep activities: our catering tasting and a site layout discussion (where we’re going to put the bar, dance floor, etc). It ended with the delivery of our new ranch house.

Did I just say delivery? Why yes, only the best homes come with the wheels still attached.

I’ve been told I should consider this my wedding present. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

I know you’re dying to take a tour of the place, but it’s Monday, which means my brain is only working at half capacity, plus I’m still trying to figure out what the heck happened this weekend, so let’s give it a couple days. It’ll be worth the wait.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Marriage: The Ultimate Stapler

I had this thought the other day, about marriage being the ultimate stapler, and I think the idea is best conveyed via a little illustration. So there we have it.

I think it's a very fitting analogy on so many levels. First, you've got to fill out paperwork if you want to get married; that's unavoidable. And staplers are really helpful when trying to keep your paperwork organized.

Second, staples are made out of metal, and the most symbolic element of marriage, wedding rings, are also made out of metal (for the most part. The errant nature enthusiast might get theirs made out of hemp).

Third, if you staple your hands together, you're probably going to draw blood, which can symbolize the union of two people sharing their mind, body and soul with each other.

And lastly, marriage is permanent, just like staples. Until you use a staple remover, but I'm saving that thought for my next doodle entitled "Divorce Lawyers: The Staple Remover". Stay tuned for that one.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Answer: One of those bottles hasn't been opened yet!

Dear Steve T,

Thank you for introducing me to what is now my new favorite champagne. You have good taste my friend. Now I just have to figure out how Laurent-Perrier fits into my budget. But that's my problem, not yours.

Thanks again,


Friday, February 4, 2011

A Remodel, I Think

While I spend my day hammering at the keyboard and prattling away like a ninny on this here site, my better half spends his day in a more productive manner: building homes. One project in particular has drawn most of his attention lately. It’s a little ‘ol remodel on a house we’ve come to call The Sugar Shack.

The house wasn’t in too bad of shape before the project started, but it was a little “dated” and required a little updating. I wanted to use an official construction term here, like “the house wasn’t unlivable, it just needed a new set of tits” or “we need to slap some lipstick on it”, but I’m not sure if either of those are the phrase I’m looking for.

I snapped a couple photos several months back, so we could remember what the place looked like pre-demolition... I mean pre-remodel.

Hello Sugar Shack.

Goodbye front porch. Until we meet again...
Here's a little breezeway:
Here's what happens when you think breezeways are dumb:
This is a shot of the back of the house. Don't mind the dogs. They're "inspecting" the construction site. 
Here's what the back of the house looks like now. Don't mind the human holding up the peace sign. She's "working" to document the construction site.
Feel like going for a swim?
Too late!
Not much has changed in the backyard. What used to be dead grass...
Is still dead grass. It's just been run over by a bulldozer several times now.

So that's a peak at the exciting things my Lovies gets to do all day! It's in a very unattractive phase now, but you know what they say: After a storm comes a rainbow.

Or something like that.

XOXO Jelly