Sunday, November 30, 2008

Flight 6285 11/25/08

‘In the event there’s a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will be deployed. Pull the mask firmly towards you to release the flow of oxygen’…. That’s what ran through my head as I put on my mask. Two hours earlier we had left Denver for our final destination to Detroit. The small bombardier CRJ700 jet engines were so loud in the back rows that the flight attendants gave us earplugs. Suddenly the roar of the left engine stopped and I glanced out the window. Hmmm, the engine was still. The plane was bobbing strangely, and noticeably descending. The cabin felt eerily strange. We still had an hour of flight left. I leaned across Maggie’s lap and asked the passenger on the other side of the aisle if she could look out her window and tell me if that engine was running. Maggie scolded me and said I was frightening the passengers. I said again with quick nods “we’re losing altitude” and the jet started to drop some more. The Pilot’s voice came over “flight attendants, prepare the cabin for emergency landing” and I stared down at the miles of crop fields that we were preparing to land in. Suddenly, a loud clap as hatches swung open, masks dropped, and audible gasps from all the passengers. The plane was banking sharply to the left, then to the right. The woman that I had just asked about the state of the right engine, went into major panic mode. She was hysterically saying she didn’t know what to do with her mask. Her husband was in a quiet state of shock. I looked over to the flight attendant strapped into her own seat, wildly chewing her gum. Her eyes told me everything. Maggie reached over to the mother’s knee and sternly said, “Mam, you have to stay calm for your kids.” The two boys sat together and their masks were tangled above their heads. Instantly Maggie stood up, ignoring her own mask, crossed the aisle, untangled the mess, helped them put them on, turned to their mother behind them, helped her with her mask and her daughter’s. I kept asking Maggie to come back and put her mask back on. Finally, she sat down, strapped her seat buckle and we peacefully looked at each other acknowledging our goodbyes and held hands. I accepted our fate but thought the timing really sucked. The two flight attendants in the front of the cabin also held hands and one was gently crying. After we had dropped 20,000 feet, the pilot came on again and said the oxygen masks were no longer necessary...we would be in Cedar Rapids in about five minutes. I turned my head and smiled at Maggie...“that’s an airport” ......S.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Off White

We have an old weathered cow skull, with three bullet holes to the head, hanging on our fence. The other day, the sun was striking some great shadows, and I thought my cockatoo sitting on the horn, would create an interesting contrast. Try as hard as I could to get him to look at the camera… he was much more interested in what lay on the other side of the fence.... S.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Ball

We camped in Yosemite Valley last weekend. The family at the site next to us had a couple of young kids. They spent their afternoon laughing, and kicking around a very large ball. During the quiet dinner, I noticed how surreal and out-of-place the lonely ball looked in the setting sun. That night, a noisy bear trashed their campsite. It raked their folding chairs and pulled down their lantern. Several yards away, beneath the pines, lay the now flattened, punctured ball..... S.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We awoke to the fresh signs of the season’s first rains. Everything outside took on a rich hue from being wet. Sitting on the hot tub cover was a large katydid. From antenna to wing tip, he was a brilliant, lush shade of green. I was amazed that the insect posed for several camera shots. Later, as I was studying the photos, I noticed he was missing his left rear foot...... S.