Thursday, January 17, 2019


Two written tests are done and dusted. Two check rides remain. One, the FAA ride, includes a two hour oral exam. Those still lie a couple of weeks in the future. The GFS, a training aid that is a bare bones but accurate representation of the actual flight deck, is the focus of this week. Since hiring on, I have spent a bunch of days sitting in the thing, trying to get back up to speed. Hours were spent learning switch positions, running through checklists, rehearsing flows, and practicing procedures. Other hours went to learning to load the computers with flights plans, performance numbers, weight and balance data, instruments approaches, and holds. Then, of course, one has to figure out how to get the machine to actually do the stuff that has been loaded. All of it I kind of blundered through on my own, books in one hand while poking at switches, buttons, and curser controls with the other.

Now I am working the thing under the tutelage of an experienced Instructor, who will undoubtedly point out places where I taught myself the hard way to get something done. A nice thing is the EASA requirements insists that an additional GFS session actually be done in the Sim instead. Given training for two rides, there should be plenty of time to make friends with this new machine before the next round of tests. Though things are working out really well with the job, there are still rough moments to this. Some come from trying to scrub the rust off of pilot skills long neglected. Other bumpy moments happen while trying to fit into land living again. But the hardest are ones that I call “TwinkleStar” moments.

When we were on the boat with Daughter Eldest and Family nearby, Granddaughter Fourth would often climb up into my lap to help me play her a tune on my Uke. "TwinkleStar” was her name for whatever we played. (I'm sure you have already figured out where the name came from.) A few minutes here, a few minutes there, but those moments are the definition of what it means to share love. There were others, “Wizard Walks” with the grandsons, sitting in the park whittling shapes out of small branches, bird spotting, and cheering on the dolphins when they played nearby.

Once in a while, without warning and heedless of where I might be or what I might be doing at the time, one of those memories will flood through my mind, bringing a storm of both joy and hurt all jumbled together. The blow to the heart is enough to put a catch in one's breath, but there is an equally deep understanding that such moments are why we are here in the first place, that they are rare and wonderful. The memories should be cherished and celebrated as evidence of a life being well lived. The storm usually passes quickly and I go about my life knowing this is right where I should be at the moment, doing exactly what I should be doing. Daughters Middle and Youngest live near by, along with the grandkid Gang of Seven. New memories are already being added and, the truth is, if they weren't here we wouldn't be here either; great job or no.

It can be very confusing, being where I should be, where I want to be, doing something that is both challenging and worth my best efforts, yet being nowhere near where I long to be - playing “TwinkleStar” and watching the dolphins play.

Somehow we are fitting it together.


Tod Germanica said...

The old adage 'they grow up so fast' applies here. Enjoy the 'lap times' while you can, they'll soon be surly teens with no interest in elderly relations. You're in the right place and time, and the new boat and the new voyage in your mind will reconcile you to dreary and confined city life. Someday your landlocked midwest time will seem like someone else's dream/nightmare but you'll mostly remember the magic that are little children.

TJ said...

Tod, it seems that grand kids grow up even faster than their parents did. There is good hope that, even as teenagers, ours will have a little room for Grampy T and Dma. I always did get along better with "Gramps" then I did with my Dad.

We are working pretty hard at not seeing this city voyage as dreary or confined. For sure it is different, radically different in some ways, and takes some getting used to. There are lots of human beings in close proximity. Many of them are noisy. Some seem pretty angry much of the time. Others don't seem to be care that there are a lot of other human beings in close proximity and act as if they are the only ones who matter anyway. All traits that were rare in the tribe of cruisers, but not unheard of. I can't say I'm very fond of the weather, a second serious round of snow is due in today, and I can't recall when the last time was that the sun was out. But our little apartment is comfortable and fits our lifestyle. There is a gym downstairs, stores nearby, and interesting places to visit. All would have been prime finds if they lay close to an anchorage or mooring field. If there was a marina anywhere near the Arch it would be a primo place to hang out for a while.