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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Hello, it's me...

Hello, it's me
I was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet
To go over everything....

Helloooooooooo!!!  Is anyone still here?!  
I am SO sorry for ghosting you for over a year on the blog and five months on Instagram.  I have no excuses... none... nada... zippo... nothin'...  .  Nor do I have any explanations.  I simply just fell off the proverbial social media.  I will blame it on my introvertedness (not a real word, I know) and just needing to be quiet.

We are all very well- healthy and happy I am very pleased to report!  I apologize to those of you who have contacted me out of concern for our well being; I'm really sorry to have made you worry.  

Something major has happened in our lives and if you follow me on Instagram you already know this, but for those of you that don't Dan retired graduated from flying this past July after 31 years with American Airlines.  The FAA mandates that commercial pilots must retire at 65.  Dan turned 65 in August.  
I chose to call it "graduating" because it sounded so much more upbeat and fun as we start on this next adventure!
Since this was, and is, a big part of our lives I thought I would start back posting (here and on Instagram) where I left off on IG with Dan's retirement flight.  I want to share the experience, which was really cool, and also have these photos all in one place for the sweet memories.  
I went along on his last trip, which was a three-day trip with layovers in Tampa, Florida and Boise, Idaho.  I had not flown on his plane with him in over a decade.  Being on his final trip and, ultimately, his final flight with American was exciting, fun, bittersweet, and so insightful about all that he would be leaving behind.  

My very handsome Captain of my 💓
on day-one of his final trip.  

This was my last post on Instagram from July 31 😱  (again... sorry for the ghosting.)
I received a very sweet and funny email from a concerned reader named Sandy who wrote... "You have not posted since it was to be Dan’s final flight?? Did you not make it home?Did you disappear and get a new identity? Are you on a lonely island somewhere? All this is said in fun, but I miss your posts."
Especially with that new show this season called Manifest  (where an airplane and its passengers go missing for five years) I bet lots of you thought the same thing!:)

Day one started very early.  We had to get up at 2 a.m., (which was a weekly occurrence for Dan) to arrive at the airport by his 4:30 a.m. sign-in time, which is one hour prior to take off.   Our ritual was that he would always text me when he arrived at the airport (texting because I was back fast asleep the second he drove down the drive:) as I worried more about him driving to Boston than him flying all over the country. 

Walking the jet bridge to the first flight of the the last trip!  

  Dan always tells people that I could fly his plane since we've discussed everything about his various airplanes for the past 31 years, so I thought I would give it a try:)

Let me pause here a moment to brag a bit, if I may! ... Dan was an amazing airline Captain.  First Officers (the pilots in the right seat) loved to fly with him   The first day after the trip his phone was dinging all day long with texts and phone calls from his fellow pilots and pilot friends congratulating him.  FO's would trade trips if they ever saw his name in open time just to fly with him- they enjoyed him as a person and appreciated his relaxed, articulate flying skills.  He was an exceptionally skilled pilot having also flown F-4's and F-15's with the Air National Guard.  He has 38 years of military and commercial flying time.  He loved to mentor his FO's knowing that many of them would be moving to the left seat (i.e. Captain seat) in the next several months.  He was a wonderful ambassador for the airline.  Besides looking cute in his uniform (!) and having a great intercom voice (!)  he would (time permitting) learn his first class passengers names and walk the isle introducing himself and talking to the passengers.  Most people were shocked to see him "in the back" and would say that in all their years of flying they had never seen a Captain do that.  He was quick to recognize who wanted to chat and those that did not so as not to disturb anyone.  Dan never rested on his laurels and continually worked at being an even better pilot.  He sought to keep his passengers (and crew) informed and comfortable in any situation- if the flight was on time, was late, or there were any mechanical issues that needed to be addressed.  Safety first.  He would do everything he physically could to ensure that his passengers made their connections.  Being the dog lover that he is when he found out there was a dog(s) in the cargo bay he would check on the animal and then have a flight attendant inform the owner how the pet was doing.  He has always stated that his job as a pilot was 5% flying and 95% situational management, and he was excellent at his job. He also endeavored that every leg that he flew had the smoothest landing possible. A "grease job" was his constant goal.

Several months prior to Dan's last flight one of his very favorite BFF First Officers asked Dan if he had anyone lined up to fly his last trip.  He had not thought about it at this point.  Dave offered his service for the flight and Dan was thrilled.  The morning of the flight Dave was pulled off the trip by the company to fly another trip (it happens), so Dan flew the first day with Jim, who jumped at the chance to fly one last time with Dan.  Dave, knowing how important this final trip was to Dan, moved a mountain to get back on the trip for the second and third day.  Lots of calls to bosses in Boston and DFW and he was back on the trip!

 A hug and a kiss to start the first day off!

The jet bridge has been pulled away,

and the tug is pushing the plane back to the  taxiway.  As you can see in the photos it was a gorgeous morning to go flying.  The flight attendants announced at the beginning of each flight that it was Captain Dan's final trip after 31 years.  He received rounds of applause with his landings and many congratulations and well wishes from deplaning passengers!  It was all so sweet and heartwarming for me to witness.  I was so happy for him. 

When we arrived at the first layover hotel in Tampa we walked into the room to find this presentation which was setup by Dave who had arrived at the hotel a few hours before us.  Isn't that just the sweetest?!  We met up with Dave for dinner night one.

Day Two.
This is Dan's friend and First Officer- the very smart and wickedly funny Dave.  I can't tell you the last time I've laughed that much for three days straight!  Dave was the perfect First Officer to have on Dan's final trip and I'm so grateful to have been along for the last ride.

So proud of him and his career!

The captain at work.  It is seriously crazy how much commercial (and military and contract and ...) pilots have to know to fly a plane.  Next time you fly, thank your pilot!!

We arrived in Boise right after lunch on the second day.
I'm bummed this photo is so bright and blurry because it was such a fun time, but I  wanted to include it for the fun memory of the afternoon.  

Day Three.
  One leg to Dallas and then one leg, the final leg, to Boston.  This photo is in Dallas right before the final leg home to Boston.  One of the chief pilots in Dallas met us at the gate and asked Dan if he would like to say something to his waiting passengers.  This was totally unexpected.  I couldn't get my cell phone out fast enough to record the entire speech,  but was able to get some of it!

Click HERE

Last leg of last flight.  I was starting to get a bit emotional at this point.

As he taxied the aircraft to the runway in Dallas Dan received a "water cannon salute!"  This is when Dan got emotional.

Video of  his water cannon salute

This video was sent to Dan from DFW Operations.

My late father and Dan were very close.  As I sat in my seat waiting for the last flight to take off I said a prayer to God, the Universe and to my father that Dan's last flight and last landing would be a great one since I knew how much that would mean to Dan.  I was sitting in an isle seat and the man one row ahead of me in the opposite isle seat had a newspaper open that was in my direct line of sight. Now mind you, if the person next to me- either to the right or left, or the person directly in front of me had a newspaper open it would not have been in my direct line of sight.  On the page of the newspaper I stare at a very familiar image...  a large photograph of the Tower of Americas in San Antonio, Texas.

  I grew up in San Antonio and my father, who worked in the engineering department at the City Public Service, helped design and layout the electrical for the tower in 1966/67 during its construction for HemisFair 1968. I remember driving to the site with him on the weekends to check he progress.  The tower has always been a symbol of San Antonio (home) and my father for me.  In that moment I knew my father was there with us in spirit.  After wiping away my tears the next time I looked up the man was looking at the "Sports" page (my father loved all sports) and then he turned the page again and there was the familiar font of the front page of the San Antonio Express -News that I remember well from growing up.  That man in the opposing isle seat, the only seat in my direct line of sight, could have been from anywhere in the world on this flight to Boston, but he arrived from San Antonio and was reading the San Antonio newspaper which just happened to have an article about the 1968 Tower of Americas in it on this particular day and he just happened to be looking at that page with that symbolic image to me when I just happened to look up.  Coincidence?  I think not.
I could overhear two gentlemen (brothers) sitting in the row behind me talking about the Tetons where they were returning from a fly-fishing trip.  Dan and I spread my father's ashes in the Tetons many years ago as it was his favorite place in the world.  The signs were all around me that my father was there with us and he did not want me to miss a single one.  
The flight, and Dan's landing in Boston were perfect, by the way.  

After looking down the road at retirement for so many years it feels a bit strange to both of us that it is actually here.  His being home all the time just feels like he is on a long off-period between trips. Dan is loving not having a schedule. When people would ask what he would do after "graduating" the joke was "Whatever my wife tells me to do on the to-do list:)" But the truth is we haven't done a single thing!  I think we've just been settling into this new adventure and living life. (I think the new year will be a perfect time to start cracking the to-do list whip, don't you?!)   Since his last trip we have had several guests visit, and in October we flew to Oregon to surprise my mother on her 92nd birthday, and to see Dan's mother who is in poor health.  Otherwise we are simply enjoying being home and loving on puppy dogs!  We tend to stay busy, but I honestly couldn't tell you what we do.  Dan occasionally toys with the idea of doing corporate flying, so if you, or your company, or anyone you know has a private jet and needs an excellent pilot give him a holler:)!

It feels nice to be back writing.   Thank you for letting me relive this experience and share it with you.  I haven't seen the photos in a while, so it was lovely to remember the trip... for both of us.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Texas Proud...


I lived in Houston for four years after college, and as a native Texan I have been gutted by the devastation that Harvey brought to my home state and the city I once called home.  My constant thoughts and prayers go out to all of south Texas and Louisiana and to every single victim of Hurricane Harvey.   My sympathy and condolences for all that has been lost.
To the readers and followers of my blog who have been affected by Harvey...  I hope and pray that you, your loved ones and your homes are safe.  I am so sorry for all that you have gone through and all that you have lost.  My heart breaks for you.  I send you my love.  I would love to hear from you personally in the comments or in an email. xxo

My niece, Liz Ann, and her husband, Jose, both architects and owners of mak Studio in Houston, were thankfully spared the wrath of Harvey at their business and home and have been volunteering with the Red Cross since the moment the water started rising.  I am so proud of them both.

I simply have no words, as I can not imagine the horrors of the hurricane nor the aftermath of the destruction.  I am proud of how Texas and Houstonians have rallied together, but not a single bit surprised.  Texas is Texas and hell, or high waters will not take it down.  
Like you, we have made donations, but so, so many need our help.   
If looking for a place to give here are some thoughts...

If donating to the Red Cross keep in mind that many companies are matching donations - Michael Dell and Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, come to mind, but there are many others (if you know of any please name the matching companies in the comment section), so find one that doubles your donation and donate through them!

If you are looking for a different fund raising effort you should check out Houston Texans JJ Watt's foundation.  He is has set up a 
and to date has raised over 18.5 million and counting for the victims of Harvey.  There is now a petition to rename a Houston freeway after him! He's a good man. His flood relief fund will give directly to the people of Houston.  Yesterday 10 semi-trucks of donated goods came from his home state of Wisconsin to bring supplies to the people of Houston HERE  (I 💓 this video.)

This is a wonderful list provided by PNR of many different links to how you can help those affected by Harvey 

Now, to my heart of hearts.....

I have been so very touched by all the photos of people carrying their dogs (cats) through feet of water refusing to leave them behind.  And then heartbroken, but grateful, to see the photos of dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc. being rescued by rescuers.  There is a special place in heaven for you people.

This video is from the facebook account of Noeline Duffet Hartel.  This is her son, John, and two of his friends, Kyle and Dylan, rounding up stray dogs on the streets of Houston.  This mama raised a good boy.  Bless them.

I have had several people ask me (knowing I was from Texas) to suggest places I would recommend to donate to the dogs (cats/pets) that need our help.
Here are but a few shelters/rescue groups I am familiar with that are working non-stop to save and rescue dogs (cats.)   I know there are many, many more so please share info in the comment section of any other Harvey relief shelters needing donations.

wonderful organization rescuing hundreds of dogs from Houston

Harvey Disaster Animal Fund

Best Friends Animal Society

 the rumors that the SPCA is euthanizing dogs are NOT true HERE

 For my Austin area readers...

Image result for yard bar austin tx

I wanted to share with you that Yard Bar (the owner Kristen, also an architect,  is a best friend of my niece Liz Ann whom I mentioned above) is having a donation drive to support the pets and pet owners displaced by Harvey throughout the month of September with the goal to fill this container!

Yard Bar is located at 6700 Burnett Road and is a restaurant, bar and dog park all in one!💓   (I can not tell you how much I want to take the girls here and have dinner- the food looks amazing- and drinks!!  I am so jealous Austin has this!)

From Kristen per her Facebook page here is what's needed: 
Food - Dog and Cat, dry & wet
Blankets, towels, linens
Small litter boxes
Clay cat litter
Small silver bowls
Poop Bags
Leashes, Slip leashes & Collars
Disposable paper ID collar
DAPP and Bordatella vaccines
Flea treatment - capstar, bravecto, frontline spray
Antibiotics - amoxicillin, convenia, cephalexin
Unflavored pedialyte
Wound care supplies
Irrigation solution
Medical gloves
Work gloves
Hand soap
Hand sanitizer
Dawn dish soap
Mosquito repellent - a lot.
2 gallon hefty ziplock bags
Heavy duty garbage bags
Human snacks! Volunteers gotta eat.
Bottled Water
Make a donation and receive a $5 off coupon for dining at YB.

DRINKS & Smirnoff Matching Challenge
Enjoy any Smirnoff cocktail or our "Underdog" cocktail in the month of September and Yard Bar will donate $2 of your purchase to Harvey Relief.
Our goal is to raise $2,000 and Smirnoff will MATCH for a total gift of $4,000.
This event and donation drive is in the very early stages. Please check back for updates soon and SHARE SHARE SHARE!
Do you know someone with a specific needs for our stuff. Distribution partners are welcome. Please email what you need, by when, and who can pick it up.

love to you all,