Thursday, September 29, 2011

Right-Seat Jockey - A Good Day at Work

Some days it's good to go to work. I was on assignment today doing photo coverage of the pre-Open House media event at MCAS Miramar and several of us were given a ride in a Polish-built, 1947-era Russian transport/passenger aircraft.

The An-2, NATO code name Colt, is the world's largest single-engine bi-plane. Not only did I get to ride in it, but the pilot, Bob Cable, let us all rotate through and sit in the right seat during part of our flight around the San Diego area.

Not very luxurious on the inside, ungainly looking on the outside and very noisy and very, very slow, the Colt was a blast nonetheless! I'd ride in it again in a New York minute.

On a side note, some photographers seek out and get the fast jet rides. I must be trying to corner the market on the slow movers. I've ridden the Goodyear blimp (and got to pilot it for a few minutes), the Stout Bushmaster 2000 (the 1950s updated version of the Ford Trimotor) and now the An-2. A speed demon I'm not, although those who ride with me in my car may beg to differ.

An An-2 used to frequent the early days of the Hawthorne Air Faire. The amazing thing about the Colt was there seemed to be very little difference between its high-speed pass and low-speed pass. And it took forever to fly the pattern. We all swore the Goodyear blimp was faster.

In reality the top speed is about 160 mph and landing speed (stall speed) is around 35-40 mph. But is sure seemed like there was no difference in top and bottom performance when it did its routine. It just flew S-L-O-W.

A semi-humorous side note occurred when we were crawling through the airplane while we were on the ground waiting for the weather to clear so we could fly: a young woman - she looked like a mid-twenty-something - was doing a running commentary while her friend filmed her. There was a portrait of an old man in the cabin and she found his big moustache fascinating. She jokingly referred to the portrait as a photo of her grandfather. She was somewhat chagrined when she was told it was a photo of Josef Stalin.

At least she knew who Stalin was, even if she'd never seen a picture of him. Ah, youth.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Dread Pirate Tina

I have a late addition to the Pirate oeuvre for Talk Like a Pirate Day: this dandy portrait of Tina trying out a Cap'n Jack Sparrow hat and dreadlocks at one of the shops in New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

The look, of course, is Tina's perfected and patented "The GLARE." You know you are in deep linguini when she gives you that evil eye.

The deep scratch is another, very interesting story, though. Just before the kids and grandkids came out for their visit, we were quietly sleeping in bed one night when Nikki, who was stretched out on the headboard above us, rolled over and fell off his perch at about 3:00 AM. Cats, of course, land on their feet (usually), but he must've realized he was falling on Tina's head so he spread his paws out to try to avoid her. Instead, he got his claws snagged on both of her shoulders and one toe raked her face.

As can be expected, Tina awoke with a scream. The cat, knowing he'd done a very bad thing, beat feet into the other room and hid for over an hour. Tina staggered to the bathroom to do emergency first aid. The best I could muster was "are you bleeding?" in my most groggy voice, which she was, and quite profusely, but I didn't know it. Her reply was, "I look like a pirate," which made me laugh, until she said, "that's not funny!" At that point I figured I was making the situation worse and could do no more, so I went back to sleep. Yeah, I know - typical guy.

When I got up to get ready for work I finally could see the damage and saw the scratch was quite deep. By this time the cat came back and I've never seen a more remorseful, groveling feline in my life. He was mortified! The fact that he was made it easier for Tina to forgive him, but she still had the wound and a long healing process to endure ahead of her.

It's getting better, but it will likely scar. How visible it will be remains to be seen. Fortunately it didn't get infected, so we'll hope for the best. She's taking it in good stride, as the photo above attests, but it's no fun, to be sure.

It makes for a great story, though, and a cool pirate picture!

Monday, September 19, 2011

I am the Pirate King!

In honor of "Speak Like a Pirate Day," I present this lovey portrait of Eoin and Evie in cool piratical splendor, with hats that also pass as kids' menus at the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland. They make a rather rakish pair, me thinks, even if the hat is a bit too big for the boy. An' believe you me, matey, we had to be movin' pretty quick on the shutter to catch even that little bit, what with that blasted time delay on the Point'n'Shoot! As can be seen in the followin' photo, he'd rather be eatin' his Cheerios and starin' at big sister than be stylin' with Cap'n Jack Sparrow. Arrrgh.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Eoin's Pacific Plunge

Christie, Mike and Evie brought Eoin out for his first West Coast visit. Naturally that meant a day at the beach and introducing Eoin to the cool waters of the Pacific Ocean. As you can see, it was an overcast day at Zuma and the surf was large and intense from a storm surge coming from New Zealand way. No one was allowed too far out, but that didn't stop Christie from dipping Eoin's toes in the water, much to his delight - a distinct difference from his sister's response a few years ago.

Interestingly enough, the visit was more for my daughter than her kids, for however much Christie loves Colorado, she does miss the ocean. It's one of those indefinable longings, although I suppose it's logical upon examination. She was born out here and the ocean was part of her early memories, even though she never went to the beach much. Neither did I, but I have the same feelings. I would miss the ocean if it wasn't within an hour's drive.

Even more than that, I suspect it wouldn't be the same for me if it wasn't the California coast, too. My uncle once told me that he didn't like the East coast because the ocean was on the wrong side of the shore. I know what he meant, although ironically he was born in Oklahoma and moved out here when he was six or seven.

In the end I guess some people adjust easily to new surroundings and feel at home quickly. Others, like me, don't and long for familiarity. It's not that I don't like other places. I love Colorado, too, and have found that many areas around the country have great cities and/or places to visit, all with their own special appeals to my soul. But I feel at home here, in California, and especially in Burbank.

There is some irony in that, too, because I grew up in north Redondo Beach. I really loved it there and missed it when I moved away. But after not living there for so many years, it changed - so much I hardly recognize some parts of it, even though there are many parts that have remained essentially the same. But I find that it's not what it was to me. So my ties there are tenuous now.

Burbank is now my home and I feel very, very comfortable here. And the ocean, which still calls, is within easy reach. As are the mountains and the golden, oak-studded rolling hills that I also love. I'm just glad Tina likes it here, too. Then again, unlike living in Arlington Heights, near Chicago, she doesn't have to turn blue from the cold seven months out the the year, so what's not to like, eh?

One last parting shot of the day at the beach, with Evie showing her little brother how to play in the sand. It was a fun day! More to come from their wonderful visit, which ended today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bridalveil Mist

Bridalveil Fall in Yosemite was incredible this year. Even for a fall famous for its mists, I've not quite seen it so heavy in any previous visit.

The view from the far side of the Merced River offered a really good view at one break in the route that was breath-taking. The crash of water on the rocks at the base and the winds whipping the plume up like a backwards letter "J" was impressive. What I especially liked was how the trees were silhouetted by the mists. It looked so much like a Japanese or Chinese painting to me. I did a few shots trying to balance the white of the water with the dark green of the trees. I was quite happy with this shot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Art Show Cometh

Well, it is that time of year again and our second home garden art show is approaching. This year we are scheduled to have potter Tim Whitcomb join our merry band. For those able we invite you to join us and see our art. We will have some new pieces for you to view and perhaps buy.