Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.
Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.
Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.
Or she's off anyway, she being me, and off being very loosely used here since I don't actually leave until tomorrow morning, but bear with me here. This morning started off beautifully; I walked outside and something moved and WHOA! It's a bunny! A BUNNY in my yard, a little brown bunny with a little puff of a white cottontail and a twitchy nose, eating my pansies. In the middle of Norfolk. He was so cute and it was just such a nice, unexpected way to start the day that I even forgave him for the pansies. I retreated back into the house, opened the blinds, and the cats and I bunny-watched for a while.
After that, the day was a whirl: (1) running to Kmart to buy Space Bags (nifty! neato! they compress your stuff into teensy little stuff-bricks that take up NO space! downside: your stuff, when uncompressed, is going to be wrinkled like mad. I'm channeling Scarlett O'Hara with regard to that though, and I'll worry about it tomorrow.) (2) continuing on to Target to (a) buy a cheapo bedding set and some cheapo pillows (because, as Steve pointed out, they might not have stores in Philadelphia. Thank you, Mr. Sarcasm, but I want sheets and pillows immediately, not a day or so after I get there. I'm funny that way.) and (b) sweettalk the watch lady into putting a new battery into my watch (ok fine, I didn't sweettalk her, I outright lied and told her I bought this watch at a Target in South Florida at a Special Event ... but the desired results were achieved and my watch has a new battery), and (3) running back to Kmart because one of the space bags had a hole in it, and (4) an orgy of packing and unpacking and repacking, all interspersed with multiple phone calls to and from Laurie as she, Mom, Dad and Alex went to Fort Walton to look at cars (I'm assuming, Ann, that you knew that Laurie's car had been totalled recently, and for the rest of you, hey! Laurie's car was totalled recently!), and Laurie wanted to discuss options, and have me run VIN numbers for her on CarFax, and then more phone calls to wax ecstatic over the car they decided on (2005 Toyota Corolla, silver with black interior, she loves it but feels guilty about the cost), and then more phone calls because she stopped to get Alex ice cream and he tripped and took a nasty fall and had a big gooseegg on his head and should she take him to the ER, and then once we decided he was fine there was a brief intermission followed by MORE phone calls with much jumping up and down and cheering on both ends because Alex won the costume contest at the Yacht Club with his dinosaur costume (courtesy of yours truly and he did remember to say Grammer, thank you my dinosaur clothes). Whew.
I did manage, somewhere during all of this, to finish packing. It's tricky, trying to figure out what I'll need in order to live in two places at once and also travel. My room in Philly has a bed and pretty much that's it; blanket, pillows, sheets, towels, all that is up to me. Plus I'll need my uniform of course, and clothes to wear to hang out in because odds are good I'll be doing a fair amount of hanging while waiting to be called off reserve, and something(s) to keep me busy while hanging (said something(s) of course being composed primarily of yarn), and at least a little of what my friend Trish used to call "homey shit" ... the little knicknacks that make your place yours, and not a sterile hotel room. I have to take my crew bags since those are what I'm required to use to travel, so that leaves me one suitcase to pack pretty much everything other than my uniform in. YAY for space bags is all I have to say, and let's hope the nice people who check me in tomorrow don't get too anal about that 50 pound per bag limit because *ahem* I may be a little teensy bit over, what with my one suitcase containing, um, everything I mentioned above. Even the homey shit. And oh yeah, shoes.
I did order a laptop for the road but it won't be here until late this week, so I'll pick it up when I come back home on the 8th. Until then I'll probably have rather limited net access; my roommate does have her computer at the new house and I'll be able to check email and hopefully post pictures of my new place, but until I get back home that may be about it for the internets for me. I'll miss you ... and when I get back on the 8th I should have lots of stories to tell.
What's that? You don't know what that means? Well, let's see - how about three choices?
1) Eat your smoked eel 2) Enjoy your meal 3) Eek! a snake
Oh, all right, I guess it was too obvious. That's the sign on my room service tray tonight in Amsterdam, and on the other side it was in English. It means enjoy your meal, of course. Smoked eel isn't the only thing they serve in the Netherlands, you know - sometimes you get buttermilk, too.
This is my last post from Europe, I go home Wednesday. I'm ready to be there, this has been a long trip.
I worked in our Paris office today, and had the best meal of the trip for lunch. It was four courses, along with two wines, and was absolutely wonderful. In Chicago, you're lucky if you get a sandwich with a bottle of water, but in the Paris office you get langoustines for a starter, wonderful chicken with swiss chard and some divine sauce, butter lettuce salad with melted cheese and a baked apple in pastry with pepper ice cream along with two wines, one white and one red, and espresso. For lunch.
I am noticing some things about manners - in the states, you don't really clean your plate. In France, you are supposed to clean it, as a matter of fact that's what they give you bread for - so you can mop the last of the wonderful sauce off it. Also, remember all that keep your hands in your lap unless you're eating stuff? Not so here, you're supposed to keep both hands above the table (but not elbows on the table). And I'm always the last to finish when I don't think I'm a particularly slow eater. It's interesting to notice some of these differences, and unbelievably hard to do things differently. Mom, you should be proud that you trained those Southern manners in me! Too bad they don't translate to France . . .
Here are a few more pictures from my Louvre visit yesterday, and walking around outside afterwards. French sculpture, french brides and french people in general. Just one thing about the Louvre before I get started with the pictures. In general, I'm not educated enough for the Louvre. It's all those math and science classes, I guess. I walked through French sculpture, then the part with the Asian Antiquities and I just don't know enough to understand what I'm looking at. I got the audio tour, but I got pissed off at the commentary when they were snarky about the dragon St. George is slaying. They said he was "obvious and naive", and I think he's the cutest dragon ever. Ever, I tell you. Just look at his face!
Those art critics. Pah. I think he's the bomb. See?
You won't hear from me for a while, I'm posted out. Maybe I'll have some knitting content next time I post . . .
Hope you are getting a little time off, but I think I remember that you really don't, you are on call immediately. Do I remember that right? Hope not for your and Steve's sake.
P.S. I promised a bride, but Blogger doesn't like her. I thought the dress was tacky too, so no bride.
So hold on, here it comes! First a few pictures of the lovely place I stayed outside London. I have a few gardening ideas after this visit, look at how they use vines. Pyracanthea, ivy, and others that I'm not familiar with.
Then a picture of Tylney Hall across the pond, and a picture of how I'd love my front door to look.
And now for Paris - first thing I did was the Musee d'Orsay, which was fabulous. Just fabulous. I've seen the impressionist exhibits in the states, and they'll have 40 - 50 paintings to look at. The d'Orsay has about 500. It is unbelievable. My favorite painting of all time (up until yesterday) is by Tolouse-Latrec, and I didn't know when I got there but it was in the d'Orsay. Bad picture - it's behind glass and in dim light, since it's a pastel.
But I think I found new favorites. I can't decide between these two - I love the Far East feel of this one, and the geese.
And now, for my fashion picture of the day. As seen in the d'Orsay - I don't think I'll be trying it!
Then I took a boat trip down the Seine for a lovely sunset over Paris, and went to the Eiffel tower where I was too hungry to wait 45 minutes in line. So I found a cafe for a dinner of steak frites, and made my way back to the hotel to sleep for 12 hours.
So, here are a few tips on what I'd need to do to look French and then I'm off to the Louvre and shopping.
1) Lose 20 pounds 2) Look in the mirror, sigh, and lose 10 more pounds 3) Wear a straight skirt, cashmere sweater, patterned opaque hose, flats or boots, and always always a scarf (fave combos seen - black leather skirt, diamond patterned opaque hose, black flat loafers, cream cashmere sweater, red/black/gold long scarf or plaid skirt with gold/red/black, black opaque hose, black flat boots, red v-neck cashmere sweater, and a scarf wound tightly around the neck. 4) No heavy makeup, especially no black eyeliner 5) Always lipstick 6) No sport shoes, always leather, but to my surprise flats are fine 7) Minimal jewelry 8) Must have a fabulous bag 9) Hair is short, or in a ponytail/clip, never hanging long
Imagine my surprise when I arrived in the UK office this morning and was told that the guys who work for me here have read this blog.
So, now, let's analyze this a bit. I don't know why I was surprised, we have our names on the blog so I'm sure if you google our names you'll find it. I guess I didn't think I was interesting enough to Google, but when I think about it I've googled my boss, and my boss's boss. And I have a picture of their boss out sailing somewhere in our archives, though I didn't put his name.
So enough of that. Whoever wants to read is welcome, though as they've figured out by now it's mostly about knitting, gossip, and whatever is going on in our lives. The big excitement is Tater's nose-dive out the car, or your new job, or my Mis-Adventures in Knitting. I love to hear what's going on with you, and I know Mom is thrilled to hear about our lives, and Charlotte tells me it's great to hear all the news that's current since neither of us are the correspondents that she is.
Speaking of Charlotte, I have a stack of letters from her going back to when I moved to Chicago seven years ago, and one of these days I'm going to figure out how to display them. I have a couple I want to frame - especially the one when she talked about buying leather pants and she swears David channeled her Mother when he said "If you gain five pounds, those won't fit you anymore!".
Thanks for the chatty posts, I'm thrilled you survived your IOE though I never doubted it. I do think you're going to love it, it seems the perfect job for you! I'll post again tomorrow with more pictures, but I just couldn't resist a quick update.
(1) UGH about your swatch story. I hate swatching, but you've renewed my resolve not to skip it boring as it may be. (2) The sweater is gorgeous. And while it may not quite fit you, I know somebody who maybe is a bit smaller than you are and who maybe really loves pink. Just a thought though; honestly if it was me, I'd start wondering just how much it would stretch with some hardcore blocking. I mean, you never know! (3) That picture of you on the stairs is good even with your eyes closed. You look all va va voom glamourous! And the hallway and gallery ... wow. It looks just like a castle should look, doesn't it? (4) Your boss is WAY young. Are you sure he's old enough to drink?? And a sharp dresser, love that pink tie! (5) I want more pics, including some of you in Paris. And I want to plan a few days in Europe for the two of us in the relatively near future. Or maybe the three of us, if we could twist Mom's arm to come with. Or the four of us ... the above-referenced someone who loves pink would be a fun addition. Or the five of us ... Third Sister might be interested and you know that would be a hoot. Or ... ahem. I'd better sign off here before we need a tour bus. Love ya, Annie -- enjoy your weekend in Paris!
OK, so I actually got home last night ... I'm home, and that's what counts. Warning: long post ahead!! Quick summation of the end of last week: Thursday night we had our final exam (I got 100, thankyouverymuch), then did a simulated "planned water evacuation" (planned: you know it's coming and have a few minutes to brief passengers/prepare), actually opening the emergency exits and bailing out of the plane onto the wings, and then off the wings into the "water" (read: jumping onto the concrete of the hangar floor), seat cushion flotation devices clutched firmly to our chests. From the wing to the hangar floor is a fairly long way. Owie, I hurt my foot; two toes rather well jammed and turning purple by the time I got home. (I wasn't the only one who got banged up doing that little exercise, btw.) Friday night I limped back in for our simulated "unplanned evacuation" (unplanned: you have no clue it's coming until it happens), on which you must score 100; piece of cake, that one was. We all got done, got our diplomas, got our wings, and at approximately 1:30 am Saturday morning we were free women. Well, at least until our IOEs. Graduation pics incoming; from left to right our two instructors, Joelle and Ken (you'll meet Joelle again later in this post), Karen pretty much sums up how we felt at that point (aside from sleepy), and a group pic of the younger girls in the class with their wings (they look so happy and bright and shiny and YOUNG, don't they??):
Home and to bed I went, lazed around Saturday, and then the fun began. Here's how my last 4 days were spent:
On Sunday I limped off to the airport and flew from Norfolk to Washington DC, where I met my IOE instructor (Cynthia) and crew (pilot Carl and FO Brendan) towards the end of their day. We left Washington for Providence, Rhode Island where we overnighted. Dinner in the hotel restaurant because it was easy and convenient (and, happily, quite good as well).
On Monday we got up in Rhode Island and left the hotel at 5:15 am to head to the airport. Breakfast? What breakfast? At 5:15, nothing is open. We all had a protein bar and some coffee. We then flew to Pittsburgh (snow showers, brrr), from Pittsburgh back to DC, from DC to Louisville, KY, from Louisville back to DC, and then from DC to Raleigh, NC for our next overnight. Dinner that night in the hotel bar, which had great burgers and salads -- we were starving but WAY too tired to actually go anywhere to eat, the only question was whether to meet downstairs or all order room service. My foot? Oh yeah. Swollen like a football and hurt like hell. Ice, ibuprofen, and I was glad to fall into my bed.
Tuesday was our "vacation day"; we caught the hotel van at 5:55 am, flew from Raleigh to Laguardia, did a quick turn and came back to Raleigh. We were back at our hotel by 11:30 am and done for the day -- and we needed the rest, because we all knew Wednesday was going to be brutal. I put the still-swollen foot up for a few hours and then we had a late lunch/early dinner at a great little bar/restaurant called Charley's in Durham that's owned by the boyfriend of another employee and offers Air Wisconsin crews a great discount. I can tell you that discount or no I'll be going back there ANY time I'm overnighting in Raleigh, because it was just plain food, and really, really good. Their blue plate special was meatloaf and smashed potatoes and corn, pure comfort food, and I promise you that we all joined the clean plate club. We were back at the hotel by 5:30, I did the ice/ibuprofen drill again, and I was sound asleep by 9.
Wednesday morning onto the van again at 5:55 am for a brutal day; every leg was a quick turn (meaning no time to get off the plane to eat or even hit a non-aircraft lavatory, you smile politely while the passengers exit the plane, run like a maniac through the plane cleaning up leftover trash and crossing seatbelts, and about the time you hit the back of the plane the new bunch of passengers is impatiently waiting to board). We flew from Raleigh back to DC, from DC to Indianapolis, from Indianapolis back to DC, from DC to Hartford, CT; from Hartford back to DC, and finally (for me, at least) from DC home to Norfolk just before 5pm. Cynthia, Carl and Brendan had yet another leg to go, back to DC where they're based, before they could head home -- for Cynthia and Carl that means a flight to Chicago, for Brendan it's Charlotte.
So how did it go? It was fabulous. My crew was the greatest; genuinely nice people, lots of experience there and very patient with the raw beginner, very helpful in teaching me the ropes and incredibly generous with all the little tips and tricks that save time and sanity. Cynthia was the best IOE instructor I could possibly have gotten; about my age, smart, funny, very very knowledgeable, willing to let me learn, and do, at my own pace. The last three legs of the last day were the most stressful, because (a) I knew the last leg was my actual competency check, and (b) my foot hurt like blazes, and (c) let's make it all even better, as we were boarding the Hartford flight in DC I looked out and Lo! that face looks familiar -- oh (insert your choice of bad words here) it's Joelle, and she's in uniform with ID which means this isn't a pleasure trip, she's here to observe. And she was. So I got to make my last 3 flights with not one but TWO observers, and Joelle is tricksy; she tried all sorts of little things on me from ordering liquor (sorry, you're on duty/in uniform so not allowed to drink) to hiding the fact that her seatbelt wasn't fastened by draping her jacket over it (I was on to her by then). She's a great person though; she spotted me still limping, and after we took off from Hartford ordered me off my feet and into her seat for the remainder of the flight. SHE got up and helped Cynthia finish that leg, which I love her for; I would have toughed out the rest of that leg and the Norfolk run, but it would have been just that, tough. With just that little rest I was able to sail through the Norfolk comp run -- and my IOE was done.
In the end? I passed, my crew all hugged me and said sweet things, Steve met me at the airport, we gave Joelle a ride back to her car at the hangar, and I came home totally exhausted. It was stressful, it was really, really tiring, BOTH my feet hurt at that point, and it was an incredible experience.
Things I learned: Providence is absolutely beautiful in the fall, especially from the air (but also on the ground). I want to go there sometime when I can take the time to explore. It's really really neat in a weird wow-I-didn't-realize-I-was-this-patriotic way to stand at the door of your plane in Washington in a rare calm moment and look out and see all the monuments spread out in front of you, so close it seems like you could touch them. The hotel in Raleigh isn't, it's in Durham, and it's too damn far from the airport. The company puts us up at some really nice hotels (thank God). There are a lot more people flying armed than I ever knew (from FBI to DEA to Federal Air Marshals to pilots who've gone through the training and certification process to carry guns in the cockpit) and you'd never know who they are by looking at them. Passengers are people, and people are, generally speaking, pretty good folks. I really, really missed home, and Steve, and Onyx sleeping stretched out against my side, and Hunter and Jasmine playing, and Jesse making happy birdy noises and telling me he loves me, and Pippen leaning against me while I pet her, and sleeping in my very own bed. And I really, really think I'm going to like this job. Let's hope I get a quick transfer back to Norfolk so I can keep it.
A quick post, since it's 12:30 AM and I have to be up at 7.
Dinner at the castle was cool - one of the Lord what-ever-their-name-is was the guy who found Tutkhamon's tomb, so there's a really creepy Egyptian display down in the basement. It's still owned by the family, so Lady what-ever-their-name-is came to welcome us to the castle.
So here's my favorite room, where the ladies adjourn while the men smoke cigars. It's so English! Love, love, love the chintz.
And here's me on the stairs, and I so wish my eyes were open, it would be a great picture. Here are a couple of the central hall, one looking up and one looking down from the 2nd floor gallery.
And last but not least, here's my boss's boss in front of the fireplace. Isn't he a young hot shot?? CEO of a 1.5 billion dollar global business, and I think he's not 40 yet.
So a dose of reality about the castle - lots of parts smell funky, it was freezing cold and it's not that cold here, the bus couldn't get up the driveway so we had to walk in the rain, and there are 30 bedrooms and 4 - count them, 4 - bathrooms. And when someone asked the tour guide where the family money came from, she graciously allowed that the men were expected to "marry well".
You just know with that title it's going to be bad, don't you. Brace yourself. I have learned Why We Swatch.
Remember the pink sweater that turned out to be for a boy, and the replacement sweater, Fana, I was so excited about? Well, the story starts out well. I swatched, like a smart knitter, and here's the swatch. Then (this is foreshadowing) I decided that I didn't need to block the swatch, I could just measure and go. (Do you hear the evil music in the background yet?) Then I also decided that I was going to do a different sweater than the one I swatched for but it would be okay since it was the same yarn and the same size needles, and it called for the same guage.
By now anyone but me would have figured out there was trouble ahead, like Jimmy Ray said that the Lone Ranger knew there was a bad guy because he could hear the music.
But no, I cast on and happily knit about 6 inches of a really pretty sweater. Then I get a little worried because the checkerboard pattern at the bottom looked like it wanted to pucker, so I got the iron and steamed a little and while I was steaming I took a good look at it and actually, the sweater would almost fit me. It's meant for a 2 year old. So I threw the sweater in my knitting closet. If it would actually fit me, I'd just keep going, but it almost fits me, not fits me.
While I fumed, I figured out what went wrong. First of all, when I did the swatch it was a little big. Honestly, just a little - like two stitches over four inches. I figured that was close enough when clearly it wasn't. Also, I didn't realize how much wool can relax when it's hit with that steam iron, so I should have blocked and then measured. And another also, the pattern I'm using has more blocks of color and so it seems that my tension is different. So here's what Ann has learned.
Swatching is not something you do 2 minutes before you start a sweater as an offhand nod to the admonition in the pattern. It is a serious endeavour. Now I understand the blogs I read where they show a stack of swatches five high before they find the right needle size etc.
So, on my flight last night, I swatched for another sweater. I'm not ready to forgive Fana, so I need another project. I made this swatch,and I'll steam iron it and measure it about 10 times. Then I'll trust the measurement instead of saying things like "close enough". Then I'll measure the sweater obsessively to ensure that I'm staying true to the guage before I knit 6 inches. Long before I knit 6 inches.
In other news, I'm in the UK at Tylney Hall. It's very cool and very English, with chintz and lace and I'm on a courtyard somewhere in a very nice room. I'm glad they gave me a map, I'd never find my way back otherwise. Upstairs, downstairs, across courtyards, etc. I'm in the mode of "don't sleep today since you'll never get on the right time zone if you sleep in the day" so I sort of look like the walking dead and am starting to feel that way too. Dinner tonight at 8, and bed within 15 minutes afterwards. It's raining here but at least it's not cold.
So, how is the IOE? Are you surviving? I've been thinking about you a lot, hoping that you are finding it not as intimidating as it you thought it would be. Post and tell us that you're alive!
I'm off to take a walk and see if I can find a transformer before my battery dies completely. I brought the camera and my PC, so I'll be blogging my way through Europe. Cheerio!
Here's the weather for the boat delivery trip tomorrow. I can tell that no one has been thinking about warm, dry weather. I hope you'll all feel bad when I'm wet and cold tomorrow!
The pasta party was really something else. I agreed to cook, one of the other Moms agreed to host. Well, I arrived at the address to find a 10 acre estate with one of those gates that you have to be buzzed into, and a house that was just huge. Absolutely huge. This house has three kitchens - one in the basement for entertaining, one on the main level, and a "family kitchen" in one of the wings. The basement kitchen is much nicer than mine, with huge SubZero refrigerator, double ovens, Wolf range with grill, burners, griddle, and warming drawers (2). The rest of the basement would fit my entire house - no joke. Theatre with seating for 12, exercise room, storage, game room, wine cellar, Japanese tea room, sitting areas, bar, and I'm not done. They had 6 tables that would seat 10 each to seat the boys - and there was still room in the basement to walk around. Outside you could see the glass house with the heated pool in it, koi ponds, and beautiful landscaping. Wow. Just Wow.
Steve told me later that the son had a flat screen TV and speakers built into the tile in his shower.
So I came in my jeans and Chuck Taylor's with loads of pasta in aluminum disposable pans, and got to heat it all up in the three ovens. The Mom and her son were really nice, but she admitted to having never turned on two of the ovens before and I had to show her how. I don't think I could use that many ovens either!!
We had a great time, and the boys ate an amazing amount of pasta, bread, and brownies. One thing I was surprised by - and unprepared for - was how many of them were vegetarian. Good thing the other Mom had a stash of penne pasta and Prego, or they'd have been down to salad and bread.
In other news, here's a picture of the blue baby sweater in use. The baby, Brian, really adds to the cute quotient!
It's off to Europe for me on Monday, and I'm still trying to figure out what to pack for a Monday through the next Wednesday trip that has business casual, dinner party, regular business as well as museum/shopping so that I don't have a thousand pounds of luggage or ten pairs of shoes. Wish me luck!
And my last thing - Charlotte sent me pictures of her last visit today, and in them was my absolute favorite picture of me sailing this summer. I look happy, don't I? Well, why not, I was on the boat with good friends on a summer day - what's not to love?
I wouldn't exactly say it bites, but it's definitely beginning to set in. We're down to 33 left in the class now with two days left; we may lose one or two more but it shouldn't be more than that. This class hasn't had as high an attrition rate as is normal, yay us. Today is my last exam, which is purportedly the hardest of the lot; I'm not sweating that because I've managed to get this far with a 99.something average so I could bomb this one and still pass. Tomorrow is the must-get-100 evacuation drill, piece of cake. Saturday I have off! Yay! Sunday I go out on my IOE or Initial Operating Experience, more on that later and yes Mom, it's changed; I was originally scheduled to go out Saturday but I get a day off. FINALLY. After 13 days straight of training.
Anyway -- I get back on Wednesday, and while initially we were told there would be a nice little break before our graduation ceremony on November 2nd, now we're all going to be sent straight out to our domiciles on completion of the IOE. No passing Go, no collecting $200; congratulations you passed, here's your diploma, here are your wings, now go to work, we need you on the line. EEEEK. Nervous much? Oh yeah. About the IOE and the really truly doing this on my own with no instructor to catch me if I fall. Eeeek, squared. And about Steve, who is keeping a stiff upper lip but isn't very happy about this whole Lani-going-to-Philadelphia thing, and even less happy about the right-away part of the equation.
First, some pictures. The first few were taken with my cell phone, so pardon crappy quality; they're still pretty funny. These were all in our first aid class, where we had Fun With Bandages in a giddy excess of relief after all having passed our CPR and AED (automated external defibrillator) certifications.
From left to right Diane and I with our victim, Brittany; Brett makes a bid for sympathy for his injured finger (so he SAYS, anyway), and Mary Katherine and Ray ham it up.
On the left here one of our instructors, Ken, passes out last night's exam; and on the right you see a group of us who attacked one of the mechanics and hijacked his cart for a photo op (not to mention hijacking his copy of Maxim, poor guy took a LOT of ribbing about having that at work). In the very back are Tara and Karen; second row is yours truly, Laura, and Veronica; holding the magazine is Kimberly, next to her is Mary, and the little brunette is Diane.
Back to my IOE. I was so psyched earlier this week; yes, I was leaving on Saturday morning, but I had such an easy IOE schedule. Well, scratch that. The new schedule has a lot more flights; good, I get more practice, but bad, I'm going to be one tired girl. On the other hand I have a layover in Providence, RI, and I've never been there before, and two in Raleigh-Durham; one of those is nice and long (I get in at 11am and don't leave until the next morning, I'm there over 19 hours, ya'll!) so assuming Cathy is in town I'll be able to go visit her, eat sushi, see Onyx's brother Caesar, and generally enjoy myself.
So overall, I'm excited. But as I sit here today I've got Steve working quietly at my left with Jasmine lying on his feet; Hunter's on top of the computer cabinet watching both of us impartially; Onyx is sleeping upside down in his basket on my desk; Pippin is on her bed beside me, Jesse is making happy-birdy noises in his cage ... I'm really going to miss home. I'd better get back to Norfolk fast.
I say that because remember the pink sweater for the little girl that I was hurrying up to finish? No hurry anymore, because, well, the little girl arrived last weekend and actually, his name is Jack. Oops. Good thing my boss's wife is expecting a little girl this summer so I can recycle the gift!
I'll just have to make a different sweater instead for Jack. This is the pattern, called Fana, but of course he's having the little boy's pullover version made for a 2T instead of the grown up girls version. I practiced a little bit this weekend and made a swatch, even though it's my first Fair Isle it isn't really that hard. When I have a camera working again I'll take pictures. It looks weird with all that yarn floating around, and knitting both English and Continental, but it's not too bad. I used to be freaked out about the Fair Isle part and now I'm freaked out about the steeks. You know, that part where you knit in the round and then you CUT YOUR KNITTING to put in the sleeves? They call that a steek, I call that scary. No way I'm doing that on my own, I will go down to Gene Ann's yarn store so she can talk me through it. Yikes!
We're having a quiet week this week. No, truly, it's quiet. No trips to the airport for me or Don. We just have - let's see - Don is working in Chicago, I worked late last night, I have dinner downtown tonight, I'm cooking for the Cross Country team pasta party Thursday night (Pasta, salad and desert for 60 teenage boys) (but at least it's not at my house), and we will sail the boat up to winter storage on Saturday.
That means sailing all day Saturday in the cold and the rain. The weather forecast right now is calling for a high of 55 but with "occasional heavy showers". Let's hope that it is drier than that, because 55 in the cold and wind is brrrrr. Don will be my crew, and we're hoping for good winds, calm seas, and not too much rain or cold, so think balmy thoughts and send them my direction.
I have to tell you that I laughed until I cried reading about Steve's travel. He so reminds me of someone I know .. . someone I live with . . . someone nicknamed Eeyore . . .
Next week I leave for Europe. I have changed my itinerary slightly, now I'll meet in the Paris office on Monday morning before leaving for Rotterdam to work Tuesday, then home on Wednesday. Of course, I made that change to my itinerary today just AFTER my upgrade to business class came through for my return trip on my old itinerary. Rats.
Back to work for me, and you go back to studying. Just think, you're almost through!
You know me, I'm all about traveling. Love it, love it, love it, nothing better. It's why I took this job and why I'm going through this training (which is way way harder than ANYBODY told me it would be, and next time you're on a plane look at your flight attendant and know that he or she went through a LOT to be where he is, but I digress). Sadly, Steve doesn't love traveling nearly as much as I do. Even more sadly, his recent trip to San Diego did nothing to change that and a lot to reinforce it. I'm bad, I admit it; by the end of this sequence of events I was trying to console him while simultaneously trying to wipe away tears of hysterical laughter. Laughing with him, not at him, of course! WITH him! I'm afraid he may not have quite appreciated that difference, though ...
Steve's story begins when he's forced to go to San Diego. Forced. Against his will. He does not, not, not want to go. RAWR, says his office, you must go anyway! So off goes Steve (Insert background of much grumbling and mumbling and Eeyore-like predictions of doom, later to be admitted to have been totally prophetic. Call him Cassandra.).
Day One: Flight to Atlanta, not too bad. Flight to San Diego, center seat, large persons with only a very remote acquaintance with soap and water seated on each side of him. According to him, he didn't breathe from Atlanta to San Diego -- I think he may be exaggerating just a bit, but then I wasn't smelling them. Arrives in San Diego, off to the rental car agency ... where he's presented with the keys to a PT Cruiser. A WHAT??? A PT Cruiser. No sir, that's the only car we have available. This is the man who loves sports cars and luxury cars ... whose contract with his previous employer specified upgraded car rentals. He is, at this point, Not A Happy Steve. But the hotel awaits, hopefully with a decent bar, so he exits stage left, grumbling. After getting lost once on the way to the hotel and then finding himself, he arrives .. to be assigned a room that hasn't been cleaned. Treks back down to the lobby, assigned another room. This one is clean, but at this point it really wouldn't have mattered if this one was the Taj Mahal because Steve Is Angry. End Day One.
Day Two: Nothing at work goes right, and he's still driving a PT Cruiser. Still, no real disasters. Except that he's not at home, and he's driving a PT Cruiser. I heard a lot about the PT Cruiser.
Day Three: Nothing at work goes right, and he's STILL driving a PT Cruiser. He's at the office until almost 8. He's hungry, and tired, and frustrated. He calls me on the way back to the hotel to vent ... and as we're talking I hear a loud BANG followed by a thumpa-thumpa-thumpa- ... yeah. Flat tire on the detested PT Cruiser. On the freeway. In San Diego. At this point Steve is completely over it; he calls the rental car agency and tells them to come get their (many expletives deleted) vehicle. They refuse. It's his rental, it's his responsibility. They'll call someone to come change the tire, but he has to stay with the car. On the freeway. Without dinner. Many bad words ensue but he stays, they arrive and change the tire, and he takes the detested PT Cruiser back to the hotel (and heads straight to the bar).
Day Four: Heading home, hurray! He's so anxious to get rid of the PT Cruiser and get the hell out of San Diego that he's at the airport 2.5 hours early. Checks in, checks his luggage, discovers that he has center seats on the way back. Again. No amount of begging, pleading, or outright bribery will change them. This time his seatmates are more well-washed, but one of them won't shut up no matter what he does, and he has a child behind him who kicks the seat all the way from San Diego to Atlanta. Still, he's going home. He runs for his plane in Atlanta, makes it, arrives home in Norfolk ... and his bags don't. Yep, Delta lost his luggage. (Expletives deleted), says Steve, leaves his information with the lost baggage office, and comes home. Turns on his computer to check his email ... and his video card explodes in a shower of sparks.
Steve has opted out of being my travel partner for next year. I'm still laughing. WITH him. Bless his heart.
More or less, anyway. In response to your questions: Yes, I'm definitely enjoying my day off. Not that it's a totally lazy day since I have a take-home test, a chapter in my manual to read (this one is only 41 pages of mice type, but there's a quiz in the morning of course), and some worksheets to complete, but it's a day off nonetheless. Will the intensity slack off? No, it'll get more intense. We had our first exam yesterday (I aced it, go me!); we have the second one Wednesday, the third one Friday, the fourth one the following Tuesday, and the fifth and last (and reportedly hardest) that Thursday. We were initially told four exams; there are actually five. Such is life. And yes, I did notice that the attrition rate for the guys was significantly higher than for the women; we were actually talking about that at lunch yesterday.
So, I'm initially domiciled in Philadelphia. What does that mean? Pretty much what it says. Philadelphia will be my "home" initially, beginning in early November; it'll be the base from which I will start all my trips and at which I'm officially stationed. I say "initially" because obviously I want to be domiciled in Norfolk; I already have my transfer request in, so with any luck I'll only be in Philly for a month or two. And I mean "in Philly" quite literally; as a new flight attendant you don't have a set schedule. You're on reserve, meaning you have to be able to report to the airport within 2 hours at any time during your assigned schedule. You may or may not actually fly during that time, but if you get a call ... you have to be there in 2 hours. Obviously if I'm in Norfolk that isn't going to happen. This means, yep, I have to have someplace to live in Philadelphia during my scheduled days, and nope, I won't be home much; if I'm lucky I'll get back here twice a month for 3 to 4 days at a time. Is Steve happy about this? I'll let you guess, and your answer doesn't count if it's anything less emphatic than HELL NO. He's being very supportive though and has promised to keep an open mind until either (a) I'm actually stationed in Norfolk, or (b) February, at which time I've been given fair warning that his patience will expire. I'm told that I have a good chance of getting back here by then and there's some stuff going on that leads me to believe that's true, so let's all keep our fingers crossed that it works out.
The rest of my class? Most of them were assigned to Washington, DC; only 10 of us are going to Philly, 5 of whom are actually from there (and therefore are the happiest people in the class), and nobody got Norfolk. I am, tentatively, planning to stay in the spare room of one of the Philly people, bless her sweet heart; if that ends up not working I'll, um, throw my hands up and sob piteously. No, I'll work out some arrangement for a crash pad with other FAs; that's to say the very least not an ideal situation though and I really hope that doesn't happen. Cross your fingers again on that, please. Your fingers are going to be very very sore before this is over.
What else? Still haven't picked up needles or hook. Doubt I will until after the 21st, when classroom time is over and we get our IOE schedules. My life revolves around coffee, studying, more coffee, and more studying. Oh, and some studying, with some coffee. And every now and then some sleep, followed by coffee. Again, that's until the 21st; at that point, if we're still in this, we're out of the classroom and off we go on our Initial Operating Experience, a 3 or 4 day trip, normally including at least one leg into Canada so we get familiar with the whole customs thing. Due to the size of our class IOEs will be spread over a 2 week period, and we actually graduate November 2nd. That means I'll be having some time off, some breathing room, a recovery period ... and I'll need it.
Your blue sweater looks gorgeous; so will the pink one, and I agree that flower buttons would be perfect on it. So, so cute. My fingers are twitching!
Your description of your "quiet" week made me laugh, Ann. NOBODY but you would think that was a quiet week. Your plans for next week, however, made me drool. I do realize that during the week you'll be working, but wow in what fabulous surroundings. Do enjoy it; luxuriate in those fabulous surroundings, and take pictures! As for Paris ... next time you have a weekend in Paris, if you let me know a bit in advance, I just may join you. What good is a job that gives you free worldwide travel if you don't use it, after all?
And Cole has grown up, WOW. I remember Baby Cole, and look how big he is now! That picture with Pumpkin and Tater is totally adorable. You're right -- he's ALMOST as cute as Alex :)
I promised pictures. Yeah, right. I swear that this week I'll try to take pictures of my pansies, which are thriving despite my neglect and blooming like mad, or of an airplane, or something. In the meantime -- believe it or not, our cats have decided they're all friends. Yep, even Jasmine has relented after being faced with constant kitten-cuteness over a prolonged period of time. I remain amazed.
Before I even get to the cautionary tale part, I sure hope you are enjoying your one day off. I know that you will do great, but it sure sounds stressful! No crocheting or knitting for you! Do you think the intensity will slack off as the weeks go by? By the way, where is all this training taking place? You did notice, didn't you, that the quit rate for the guys was 50% . . .
And you promised to tell me what it means to be domiciled in Philadelphia - I'm curious!
Charlotte sent me a letter, and in it she had a copy of this article , with "A cautionary tale?" written on it. I think we should be careful that this obsession of ours doesn't get too out of control!
I do have a finished object to show you. I fixed the blue sweater, and it is going in the mail tomorrow so here's the final shot. And here's the pile of pieces on the pink sweater. I'm getting there - notice the lovely button markers a.k.a. paper clips? I think I need some stitch markers, and I definitely have to buy buttons. I'm thinking flowers. I need to be moving along on this sweater, the baby is due in a week exactly.
I was thinking that we've had a relatively quiet week, then I had a little chuckle when I realized that for us a quiet week includes:
Don in Detroit all week Me in Winston-Salem Monday through Wednesday Housekeeper here with Steve Monday night through bad storms, power outages, a need for our battery operated sump pump, and a downed tree on our driveway that made us drive halfway across the neighbor's yard to get in and out all week Work, work, and more work Don driving from Detroit to meet me downtown Friday evening for a nice dinner And a friend over for dinner last night
So I guess that's our definition of quiet, everything went mostly according to plan and it all worked. Don and I both will be in town for the next two weeks. Yes, you read that right, no travel for either of us for two weeks. I'll then make up for it by going outside London for a meeting the next Tuesday through Thursday, including dinner at a castle on Wednesday night, then somewhere else in the English countryside for more meetings Friday. I need to go see some people in Rotterdam, but of course (they're not my favorite people) they aren't available that week so I have to hang around over the weekend to see them on Monday. I was initially a bit pissed, but then I started thinking about a free weekend and realized I could ride on this and do this for the weekend. Too bad I'll be by myself, but I could think of worse things!
Last night we had Amanda and Cole over for dinner. Amanda was our housekeeper two years ago, and we were heartbroken when she decided to look for full time work. She set the bar for what a housekeeper should be, and we've kept in touch with her and her son, Cole. They were great company, and I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with her. Cole is a very cute three year old, and just cracked me up by joining the dogs when we put them in their place before dinner. How cute is that picture? He's almost as cute as Alex.
And believe me, there was some question about it when the alarm went off this morning. In response to your questions, Ann, so far the people leaving have been quitting on their own (most seem to have thought this was going to be something they could breeze through and flipped out over just how not-easy it is), but that seems to be over. The next wave of departures will be people who wash out on one of the FAA exams. No retakes, no second chances, no chances to make up these exams. You have to score 90% or above; if your scores are under 90%, you're gone. There are other ways to wash out, but that's the biggest one. In other words, study. Then study more. And maybe a little more, too. Oh and that's not mentioning the exams, like the evacuation drill exams, where anything under 100% is an automatic failure and dismissal. I wish I thought we'd all make it, but I think it's pretty safe to say we'll keep losing people over the next few weeks.
As for class composition, 6 of our original 44 students were male; we have 3 male students left. About a third of my classmates have previous flight attendant experience and are switching airlines so they can work on the east coast, or coming back into the workforce after taking time off to have a family, or something of that sort. The rest of us are brand new and believe me, we all have that deer in the headlights look on our faces right about now.
First "real" exam tomorrow, so much studying tonight. Fortunately there's a nor'easter hitting us right about now with lots of wind and rain and flood advisories and stuff. Yes, I did say fortunately; because the weather is so bad we got off a bit early tonight and our class start is delayed until 11:00 a.m. tomorrow, so I'll get to sleep an hour late in the morning and still have an hour to review in the morning before the exam. Wish me luck; I'll make a "real" post Sunday. Maybe even with pictures!
And that's all it is, ya'll, I'm sorry but I don't have time or energy for anything else. I started my training on Monday with a class of 44 and a nice grueling 10 hour day plus the news that Saturday had been added to our training schedule, so we'll be doing 6-day weeks; by Tuesday afternoon we were down to 36, as of this morning we have 35 class members. I seriously did not expect it to be this difficult. To give you an idea, tonight's homework is reading 133 pages in the FAA crewmember manual and doing a 5 page worksheet, with a test on the material in the morning. Intense? Yes.
So, this week has been nothing but training, and that's just how it'll be for the month of October ... I'll try to blog in more detail on Sundays, but during the week it's pretty much class until 6 or 7pm, then study until I fall over from exhaustion, rinse and repeat. I haven't even picked up a hook or a pair of needles since Sunday night.
Ya'll wish me luck. It may not sound like much fun and truly it isn't, but ... I want this.
Oh and I'm going to be domiciled in Philadelphia initially. More on exactly what that means on Sunday.
I sympathize with your memorization woes, even though I don't remember you having the memorization problems I've always had. Why do you think I got a kitten and you didn't? I was the last kid in class to memorize my multiplication tables, and I really tried! I think it must have been sheer desperation to offer me a kitten - can you imagine what would induce Mom to allow a cat in the house? Desperation, I tell you! To this day, if I'm tired I can't remember my home phone number. Thank god for cell phones with address books, and for calculators. Isn't it weird how the human brain works? I thought I was terrible at math for years, until I figured out I was good at math, just not memorizing. Give me algebra any day.
But you're right, she was a very good kitty. What a great post, I had a flood of memories just thinking about fourth grade, living in that house on Cove Boulevard with the hedge around the yard, my white vinyl go-go boots, and Boo Kitty herself. Boo was so sweet, she was dainty and feminine and graceful, and just what a kitty should be. Though, of course, you mentioned the whole kittens-on-my-bed incident, and she was a mighty hunter too. Remember how she used to bring baby birds into the house to give to me? And to think I rejected her heart-felt gifts. Shame on me.
So sorry you don't have a new kitten to look forward to as a reward for all your memorization, but I think you went about this backwards. You're just having to pay for Onyx! But I do think you need a reward. Why don't you try a bottle of wine instead? A manicure and pedicure? A little retail therapy??
This weekend we had another cross-country meet (I know you're shocked to hear this by now) and here is another shot of Steve doing his thing.
And the obligitory herd shot.
As part of warm up they run backwards, prance, run sideways, and skip. Here is the skipping shot - look at the height on a couple of those leaps!
Don is off to Detroit this week, and I'm off to GSO Monday through Wednesday. We have had some cold weather here, so it is a short time until we'll have a frost and I'll lose my tomato plants. I had what is close to my last tomato sandwich tonight for dinner, with a bowl of wonderful minestrone soup. Yum. I always feel like a success as a gardener when I can grow a tomato like this one!
I have started the fixing of the blue sweater, since I finished the back of the pink one this weekend at the meet. I am not letting myself start on the sleeves of the pink one until the blue is finished. The baby is here, and he'll outgrow it before he even has it on if I don't hurry. Must. Finish. Sweater. Just one delayed flight should do it, and I'm pretty sure that will happen this week. I have two flights, so surely one will be late.
So, when exactly do you start your new gig? I want to know when to start looking for you in airports!!