Friday, May 31, 2019

Saturday Smiles

It was a super busy week, and I'm starting to do book tours for the new book so time was short today and I'm going to be using leave time to make it happen.   I hope I can make you smile.

This is SO Laralei Lab!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Barkley Memories - Posts From the Road

It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years since we lost Barkley.  But I am so very happy for all the photos we took, especially the ones on our commute from Indy to Chicago for several years.  I never took my eyes off the road, I just held up the little point and shoot, aimed it into the back of the truck, and took a shot.  Thanks for the memories.
Mom,  that's like the third burger place you've passed up!
As the truck headed down south, into farmland, happy to be away from the thicker traffic, the snow was still piled high from the massive storm almost two weeks ago. The drifts looked so serene, waves tossed up against farm fence, but other signs told of the dangers that had been here, two cars still in ditches and the one jackknifed semi in the median, as well as spots where a Saturn  and a Smart Car shed their skin, bits of fiberglass and plastic strewn about, the rest of the remains removed in a bucket.
But we were even more happy to be past the outskirts of the city, that short stretch I must travel that makes me very anxious not to break down.  There's one stretch, where, but for the highway, and the knowledge, you wouldn't know you were in a city.

There are the houses, some farm style, probably erected when this was just farms, fading and falling, some windows shuttered or broken, some still lived in, overgrown plots littered with the broken and the unused, buckets, tools, machines, things that once were crafted to serve a purpose of function or work, left to lie idly by those that either abandoned these places or live idle within.  Even the trees, bend down as if tired of making an effort, blossoming each year in the sullied impiety that is a once thriving place that dies through uncaring neglect, its burgeoning, nothing more a bitter and tenacious scrap of another season's memory, than a desire to grow and thrive.
It is with a sigh of relief, that I take that final dogleg south.  

This stretch of highway has been driven a hundred times, yet each drive I notice something different.  It's not the obvious, giant "HELL IS REAL" sign (we're on I-65, we already know that) or the XXX Family Restaurant (sorry, when I think "XXX", family restaurant just doesn't spring to mind). Rather, it's an old barn, now razed, it's a river that's left its banks, it's a tiny little cross with a name by the side of the road.

I don't listen to books on tape for these drives. Sometimes, music plays, sometimes it is silent. Mostly, I keep my senses on the road, for this is a treacherous stretch of large trucks, often as inattentive as they are massive. Sometimes you have one in front and one behind and gaining, no place to go if the one in front decides to stop, the Bat Truck only the Oreo filling between several tons of steel, and I retreat to the slow lane, where I'll happily let teenagers give me that "look" as I do the speed limit.  I've driven this stretch often enough to know that the opposing forces of a semi's mass and my will if drawn suddenly together, would be a meeting that could be irremediable.
Sometimes they give you a warning before they try and kill you, a signal before they suddenly dart into your lane,  just feet in front of you, making you slam on your brakes, so they can pass the truck going .3 mph less than them. Usually, though, the danger is inarticulate, not knowing it's danger. So I listen as well as watch.

There are always the signs, fast food, gas stations, some bright shiny new, an Arby's and a Super 8 that's been a welcome respite from this road in bad weather for many people. There's a new McDonald's, advertising large clean restrooms (a welcome change from the ones further north where they have to lock them because someone might break in and clean them). Then there are old signs, weathered, leaning away from the wind.  Failed businesses dot the landscape, "Boom City", a faded but futuristic looking abandoned fireworks place that stands in isolation in a landscape of cornfields. So out of place in a remote, rural area, it looks like some alien craft that just landed there and built itself a parking lot as they waited for the mother ship.
What is there to look at, some of you may be likely thinking?  It's Indiana, flattened out by giant glaciers millions of years ago.  It's flat, there's corn, that's about it.  But beauty can be like that, as subtle as a whisper, yet as strong as faith.  Beauty isn't always young, perfect skin, vast mountains or the vivid colors of velvets and fine gems.  Beauty is there, on an open road, in the sky, in a vast field of ripe corn,  in a church with a crucifix that likely came out here on a wagon, the serene and battered Christ upon it, transcending the marks of time and generations, a visage to which you can only lower your eyes in humility and ask forgiveness.

Yes, it's flat, but there are roads that stretch and glisten like jewels in hard rain flowing down as if to wash the landscape clean.  There are weathered homes and stubborn farms, there is a sudden rise to a river that has carried more than history to its silent end.  There are miles and miles of fields, with nothing but corn and fence rows, a barn, and silo jutting up like one of those pop-up greeting cards, set there, flat on the very edge of the earth's table. It's the windy sunlight of space and summer, a morning filled with bells, an afternoon filled with grace, it's the church of God's own creation, as farmers tend to its Host and our history.
As I drive and look, I think.  To the phone hopefully not ringing at 2 a.m., to the days ahead, to the days past as I see the Indianapolis 103 miles sign and realize I'm more than halfway there and smile as I relax into the seat.

There's a time in every trip, no matter how long, where you settle into the drive.  As a family, and for my Dad, when we were kids, the driving on our vacation trips seemed almost effortless, as we watched the landscape change from green to brown to mountains and back to brown and we'd hear stories of his youth, of he and Mom growing up together in Montana, the radio off, the only music the sound of my Mom's relaxed laughter, a laughter I can still sometimes hear. For I hear her voice in mine. I'm told we sound alike, and there are days I can crack open the window and the warmth of the wind will blow in and around me, warming my cheeks and the back of my throat and as look up to a contrail that has caught my eye, our laughter will echo in the wide spaces ahead.
What I recall of those long ago trips, other than the laughter, was just sitting and looking out the windows for miles, for what was most memorable were the landscapes, stopping when we got tired or thirsty and actually looking and touching the wonders we'd read about in school. The Grand Coulee Dam, the drive-through redwood tree. Then back in the car, with postcards and maybe a souvenir baseball hat. I saw mountains and tumbling landslides, and fish leaping against gravity up a ladder, and once even a buffalo, kept on a small piece of range on which resided a little restaurant.

I had never in my life been next to an animal that big. He was old, and completely tame, raised by the husband and wife with the restaurant, with a few acres to roam, and enough wild memory to twitch in running freedom in his dreams. I was afraid at first to approach him, almost blind in my fear, but I crept up, drawn by soft eyes the color of earth, and the warm flank. Judging by his breathing, the slow, patient release of air, that great steam engine of sound, I knew he would not hurt me and I reached out through the fence rails and touched the giant soft velvet bloom of nose  as he looked back with those knowing eyes,  set in ancient bones as enormous as the future, a countenance as powerful as history, as motionless as memory. And we stood there, together, a little auburn haired girl and that lone remnant of a past that's faded to nothing but dust and cornered thought, all alive, yet still alone.
But on this drive, all am thinking about is what I have in front of me, the tumbled landscapes of glacier stone and great pristine rivers, thin as a rope from the air. Anything that really requires my mind, the gas and engine instruments, a scan for traffic, occurs in brief, unhurried intervals as the truck carries me with it, all those memories and thoughts of past road trips, of tears, of childlike bursts of laughter, of family, mechanical, rhythmic memory of the past that I carry with me forward.

Everything that I  might worry about, whether the phone will wake me at 2 a.m., that case I have to finish, a washer that broke beyond repair and needs to be replaced, lies suspended for this time as the sun creeps back inside the earth, driving the shadows forth.
The open road, a dimension free of time and space that flows from childhood to the trembling, secret ardor of the future. It's a road little changed from a child's hand out the window in the breeze, to the older foot on the gas pedal of an old British car, on a Summer day,  pressing down, carrying with it the echo of childish want, the passion, and unrest of adulthood. The road rushing under, rushing on. Way too quickly.

As we near where I will live during the work week, Barkley leans into me, as if recognizing what is going past the window, flowing smoothly from left to right, buildings, and doorways, a small expanse of marsh, each in its ordered place, there in the dimming light. Perhaps he recognizes those things as we draw near. Either that or he is listening to something much further away then the small dimensioned vehicle we are riding in. Perhaps he only pretends to be listening, because, in his heart, he already knows the sound.

I listen too, not just look, to the whoosh of the garage door, to the creak of a door, to the falling into a simple place with old Mission furniture, a framed photo on the shelf and a Cross on the wall, reminding me that I am all alive, but never alone.
 - LBJ

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

A Cat's View of Physics

A cat at rest will tend to remain at rest, unless acted upon by some outside force, such as the sound of a can opener.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

It's not a day off from work.
It's looking at history, and what has withstood time and conflict.
It's not meeting friends for a meal and fun.
It's not ice cream and a barbecue.
It's not sitting in  your lounge chair.
It's raising your flag, remembering what is important as you look hard at everything.

It's saying "thank you" to those who have served.
It's remembering brave sacrifices.
It's putting your pride in your country out  for all to see, not on this weekend, but every day of the year.
It's  remembering duty and courage and the willingness to defend. 
It's honoring the memory of all of those brave men and women who gave their life in the service of this country, so you could live, here today, in the safe place they made for us. 

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lorelei Update

We've had Lorelei a week now.  There have been some great times and a couple of bumps.  Day two in having her here, Abby Lab got jealous of the extra attention she was getting and peed all over the only expensive rug we have.  I'm told that's common when introducing a new dog.  It's in the basement for a thorough clean and we won't put it back down until we are positive that behavior is over.

She also tried to play too aggressively with Lorelei which made HER pee on the floor.

But we've settled into a groove.  The two get equal attention, walk separately so they get some "me" time with Dad.  Lorelei is 2 times the size of Abby, (who is a Lab mix and not purebred) so Abby doesn't like to be walked together.  This morning my husband said they played gently in the yard together and we're seeing some preening (grooming) behavior with one another.

We are still so happy we adopted her.  She loves being around people after living her whole life in a tiny pen.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Thankful Thursday

Today we join our friend

in celebrating "Thankful Thursday". Today I'm thankful for all the friends I have made in Blogville these last five years. Even a couple that quit blogging still are in contact via cards, emails, and Facebook. You all have supported my writing, encouraged or prayed for me and my family and have been there when I needed to chat.

I also wanted to thank my publishing team at Outskirts Press for doing such a good job with my newest book, True Course, Lessons from a Life Aloft which went to #1 in sales the day after it launched. It's not just a book for aviators but anyone that's worked hard on a dream with many stories of family and friends (and a canine or two) in there.  The Kindle just went up today, it takes a few days for it to link with the paperback page so it doesn't show rank or any reviews but here are a few.  Please consider ordering a copy, I've priced it down to $2.99 to make it easier for those on a limited budget to enjoy and as usual, all the sales are donated to animal related charities.

Today's author meet and greet here (a very funny story in there about a book mixup at a bookstore in the UK. -

"Johnson's writing border's on the lyrical."- Kirkus Review Magazine
This is a book to use as a reward for yourself - to read a little at a time on evenings when the day has gone well. It is an introspection into one person's world of flight yet it carries truths for all those who have given their soul to the wonders and mysteries of the sky - and sometimes wonder why. - Rick Durden, Features Editor and Columnist, The Pilot's Lounge, for AVweb, the Internet Aviation Magazine
This is a book by an accomplished human being (aviator, law enforcement and other life-and-death skills) who gave herself permission to be an extraordinary writer. The result is soul-deep essays and reflections on aviation and life. Many of her descriptions--poised somewhere between awe and aching-- stopped me in my tracks as she describes: "caught in a point in your mind between immobility and motion, the taste of empty air, the color of wind."  Every bit as good as Annie Dillard, whom Brigid leaves behind in her contrail. 
- Latayne C. Scott, award-winning author
"Johnson is a gifted writer, in the traditional sense of what works of literature are like. She is an artist with words, painting beautiful pictures, rich with vibrant description."
- Viga Boland - Memoirabilia Magazine
"Brigid Johnson is a multi-talented lady who has been there and done that. She IS an excellent role model for young ladies everywhere! Determined to succeed as a pilot, she jumped through all the hoops and became a commercial airline pilot before changing careers to take care of family. Her writing is evocative, soul searching, and captures the essence of flying and life in snippets that leave you wanting more."
- J.L. Curtis, Best-Selling Author of Rimworld - Stranded and the Grey Man Series
"Johnson is a wonderful writer, like good scotch on a winter night."
- Michael Bane - Producer, Writer, Actor

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Hits and Mrs.

Abby's Mom here.

I had my annual check up a couple of weeks ago which includes the usual "female" type checks and cancer screenings. Since I have limited family history available- since I'm adopted- we watch things close. The basic medical went just fine, blood pressure and cholesterol numbers still what they were in my 30's which is great, but we had to wait for the cancer screen results in the mail. Good news - I got the report--excellent health and clean cancer screens and left it for my husband on the dining room table as I left for work, leaving him a message on his work phone --"female check up report is in and on the dining room table table"

Unfortunately, in the dark, what I left was not the note from my doctor-- but the note from the dog walker who takes Abby the Lab out at lunchtime each day.

 I can only imagine his face as he read this--

Wednesday -  Nice! Colder than normal though! She pooped and frolicked!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

It's Official

Larelie is officially adopted as of tomorrow morning when the paperwork is registered.  The Rescue gave us a weekend with her to make sure she was a good fit as we have another dog in the household. They got along great and she really bonded with my husband and me.  She's super affectionate but has already learned not to "head butt" for pets and is learning a couple of commands "out of the kitchen" and "lay down".  As part of the adoption, she will get formal pet training from a local pet training business as people, furniture, and a "house" are all foreign to her as a breeding dog.   She's super smart, which is why yellow Labs are the most popular dogs for Seeing Eye Dogs.

The paperwork is submitted and the rescue fee (quite reasonable given her health needs) paid so she's officially ours tomorrow.

Chicagoland Lab Rescue was great to work with and they truly vet their dog's new families to make sure it is a good fit.  If you donate to animal rescue I'd recommend them.
Definitely a "Daddy's Girl".

To celebrate we bought her a Koda's collars.  These handmade martingale collars (which keeps the dog from pulling, without pain and without slipping OUT of the collar when they are NOT pulling) are amazing  The creator donates part of the proceeds of each collar to animal rescue.  I own three of them for Abby (hey I HAD to have the Marvel comics one) and they are awesome, and years later, as good as new.

Weather Dogs

The Midwest saw a bunch of thunderstorms move through yesterday, some severe.
While Abby Lab hid in the closet all day (there's a dog bed in there), Laralei just chilled while Mom and Dad played Mexican Train dominoes and other board games.
 She's a trooper! (And definitely a "Daddy's Girl".)