Wednesday, October 27, 2004

David Fielding

David Fielding
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
1Lt David L. Fielding
Deputy Commander for Seniors/Mission Pilot/Aerospace Education Officer
Mount Pocono Composite Squadron 207, Civil Air Patrol

Since I'm a sucker for a man in uniform, I thought I'd post a picture of a man in uniform. Except I happen to be engaged to this one.

Last night I accompanied David to his weekly Civil Air Patrol meeting, to shock even more people with the announcement of his engagement. We'd created a buzz at his office, where I'd been placed on Monday because the ADSL hasn't been installed at the house yet. I'd mentioned I'd passed the Jewish Mom Test on Sunday night. Here was the next stage: meeting his CAP comrades and the cadets.

Les, the Squadron 207 Commander and David's good friend, accompanied us to the meeting and delighted in the prospect of announcing the engagement during final formation. But, when we arrived at the army base, the state troopers at the point of entry told us I wouldn't be allowed on the base because I was a foreign national.

Canadian? (Coalition of the Unwilling?)

He really didn't look like he was going to budge. I silently cursed myself for not bringing my passport, thinking my driver's license would be satisfactory. The state trooper took my license into his office and told us to pull over while he presumably wrote down every digit he could find, make a bunch of phone calls, brew coffee, or whatever else state troopers do to make themselves appear busy and officious.

Eventually he let us through, after David and Les informed him of their rankings, and we headed off to the meeting. I was shown around, and there were more than a few curious people, wondering who I was. At Les' request, David kept hush-hush about the engagement, and I was introduced as his friend to the others. After the "50-cent tour" (a senior member's words, not mine), a cadet class (runway markings) and a senior members' class (weight and balance), it was final formation and the Big Announcement. Les started out by introducing me as a visitor from Vancouver at the beginning of the announcements, and at the end, after correcting himself a couple of times -- "Miss Edwards" then "Miss Edwins" -- he laughed it off by saying they could just refer to me as "Mrs. Fielding"...

Mrs. Fielding! (Trying it on for size, here.)

There was a stunned silence in the room, then a chorus of disbelief: "Nooooo....." Which sounds bizarre, but in the context of the "consummate bachelor" reputation David had earned during his CAP days, it was obvious there were some people who just couldn't believe he was getting married. What that meant for the cadets was that they'd have to finally share him -- David dedicates a large amount of his free time with his cadets, who number around 45-50 or so. What that meant for the senior members was that they'd have a youngin' in their midst. At least I'm young somewhere. After attending numerous lectures on the SFU campus with kids younger than my car, this is a welcome change, indeed. Secretly, though, I think they're thinking I'll steal David away to the Left Coast...

Monday, October 25, 2004

Vancouver - New York - Scranton

driving in NYC
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Life's funny, isn't it? Who would've thought I'd be writing this, sitting in a printing plant, typing on my PowerBook beside David Fielding, who's typing away on his Mac, as his colleagues walk by and check us out (yes, I'm a real person, not a figment of David's imagination).

Had a lovely weekend in New York City, but I'll get David to write about it. *Mush alert* It was unbearably romantic. I also met David's mom last night, and I am relieved to report that I have passed the Mom Test. It's not one of those tests one can study for, so my nervous system can relax now...

The Weekend Report, by David Fielding

I'm back, although:

1) I'm not a better writer than Gail;
2) We both remember the details (and they aren't all here);
3) No one will believe a word of this, since Gail did not take any photos!

Gail returned to Pennsylvania this weekend, by way of New York; and since I exhausted all of the entertainment possibilities of Scranton last time, we spent Saturday night in Manhattan. I met Gail at the airport (and managed not to miss her at the gate - unlike last time!). The greeting was much warmer this time, and I took her bags and we drove into the city.

I had kept the plans a secret, until we parked the car. Being of a literary bent, and a history geek, I chose the historic Algonquin Hotel, haunt of Dorothy Parker, George S. Kaufman and Gertrude Stein. It was also, I recently found, the home of one of my grandmother's sisters in the 1930s; my mother clearly recalls visiting there over the summers as a little girl. It was restored to pristine original condition some years ago, and the service is excellent. We had a courtyard room on the top floor, with a view. (If you opened the bathroom window and stood on the toilet, you could see the Chrysler building!)

I had made reservations for a late-night supper and a table in the Oak Room for the cabaret show. It featured Jeremy Davenport, an amazing vocalist-trumpeter in a four-piece jazz set. We finally got our food very late - during the show, which was a bit embarrassing, because we were at the center table immediately in front of the musicians. Davenport and his pianist, Thaddeus Richards, kidded us and looked longingly at our entrees. The set was amazing; an intimate performance with four brilliant jazz musicians, in the dark-panelled Oak Room. The songs were classic Sinatra-era love songs:

I’ve got the world on a string,
I’m sitting on a rainbow,
got the string around my finger...
What a world, what a life - I’m in love!

After the show it was past 1:00 am, but we were not at all ready to sleep. We left the hotel and strolled around Manhattan, walked through the theater district to Times Square. The weather was mild for the season, and we chatted and strolled. We stopped in a rather American Irish pub for a drink, and at an all-night deli for a grilled panini. During the past few weeks we have spent long hours on the phone in conversation; now, walking together again, the pace of the talk slowed and we were at ease to enjoy ourselves. We enjoyed ourselves.

It was, as Gail said, "unbearably romantic". Just the sort of evening that makes one want many, many more; when everything is perfect, and time stands still. A man might ask a woman to marry him, on an evening like this.

One did.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Home Office (Vancouver)

home office (Vancouver)
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Things are messier than I'd like to show, but this is the current state of my home office. I bought a BenQ 15" LCD panel on Sunday, to replace the massive 21" Sony CRT monitor that monopolised my table. This way I can access both the Powerbook and the desktop more easily. In typical Gail-unconventional-fashion, my laptop screen is bigger than my desktop screen, yes. By two inches, which doesn't seem like a lot, but it is, in screen real estate terms.

Next week I'll take a photo of my home office, in Pennsylvania. I'm sure it will be considerably neater!! I'm lugging some hardware with me, such as the wireless router and my VoIP gateway. This way my phone number will remain the same, and anyone who phones it will have no idea I'm actually 4,000kms away. The broadband phone just hooks up into any high-speed connection, and my Vancouver number is ported to it, so it will display that way in Caller ID, too.

I fly to New York bright and early on Saturday morning. I know I've been pretty sporadic with the blogging lately, but I assure you -- details forthcoming!

Saturday, October 16, 2004



handmade bracelets
Made in France.
Available in Vancouver.

handmade bracelets - made from a tire!

one of my favourites

I've been out of town a lot since Solène arrived around the end of September from Paris, but we finally met today. She's on a contract at the French Cultural Centre until next summer, so my friend Manu put us in touch (while he tries to break into the job market here, himself).

Solène kindly gave me one of the bracelets she makes from pieces of natural leather and housepaint. She makes each design individually, and her boyfriend designs shoes!

Autumn in Vancouver

autumn leaves
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Isn't it beautiful?

I love autumn -- it's my favourite season. The colours, the smell in the air, the heat of summer giving way to cooler temperatures... it reminds me of being a kid entering a new grade school year, when I could get to see my friends again, maybe get a new pair of shoes if I was lucky. I was always filled with anticipation at the prospect of new classes. There is a heady excitement when it comes to new beginnings, and change. I've got that feeling, now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


It started out as a clear day, then this thick fog rolled in, obscuring everything past the trees. It was no less than BIZARRE to see it roll in so fast, enveloping everything, then quickly dissipating. I managed to stop gawking long enough to snap a couple of shots as it started to vanish.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Karl's Birthday

I'm in Seattle this weekend, to celebrate Karl's birthday. I drove down late on Saturday night, after having Thanksgiving Dinner with the family. We Canadians have a long weekend, and it's Columbus Day in the U.S., but apparently it's only a bank holiday here, so only government employees and bank people get the day off. Karl took the day off, anyway -- why should those lazy gits civil servants/bankers have all the fun?

(This is my third weekend in the U.S. -- am I turning into an American??)

Yesterday Francesca arranged for us all to meet at Eric's place in Capitol Hill, a lovely old apartment building from the 1920s that was converted from a hotel. (He even has an old-fashioned telephone mounted on the hallway that used to ring down to reception.)

We snacked while the others arrived, then headed over to Coastal Kitchen, which I'm told changes their cuisine every so often. Right now it's Moroccan, so I tried the cheese starter and the Tangiers Tagine -- lamb being one of those things I never cook at home, only ever order at restaurants. I think I ate way too much; I just wanted to stand up afterwards and let the food make its way down!!

Back at Eric's, Karl opened his stash of birthday loot while Francesca dished out the cake and ice cream. The celebrant being Karl, the loot was of the triathlon-training-gear variety, of course, but he did receive some new music, and Krisanne gave him some new methods of cheating winning in Scrabble.

My present happens later today, but I haven't quite sorted it out yet. The weather yesterday was brilliant, and we thought it would be the same today, for hiking. Right now it's overcast, but maybe by the time we get out there, the weather will improve. As long as it isn't raining, it doesn't really matter. This is the Pacific NorthWET, after all.

More photos in Flickr: Karl's Birthday

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Weekend Report, by Guest Writer, David Fielding

I asked David to write the post about the weekend, since:

1) He's a better writer than I am;
2) I can't even begin to recall some of the historical or technical details;
3) a guest writer is a nice break from me!

Photo album in Flickr: Pennsylvania, Oct 1-4

Having visited most of the exotic and interesting places in the world, Gail consented to pay me a visit in my area - Scranton, Pennsylvania, oft cited as "One of America's Cities". I, surprised and delighted, set out to show her a good time - only slightly daunted by the task.

historic steam trains
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Saturday was overcast and damp, so we visited Steamtown, a collection of working steam trains and a working trainyard. In an odd coincidence, almost all of the trains that were running that day were in Canadian livery! Gail got some good photos and video of the huge machines, hissing and chuffing along the tracks.

anthracite coal
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We then made our way across the valley to the Lackawanna Coal Mine tour – an old shaft kept active to show the working conditions in an early-20th century deep mine. We arrived just after the last tour of the day went down, but luckily they rushed us into the car and sent us down to catch it. The heavy steel minecart is like a very low, open traincar; it is lowered down the quarter-mile slope underground by a cable hoist. There, 250 feet below the surface, a retired miner led our tour through the cool, damp rock tunnels cut there to remove the coal. Static exhibits and the stories of the miner told of the incredible toil of past generations; dirty, dangerous work by men and boys, under an oppressive social system.

Who says I can't show a girl a good time, hm?

We tried to finish the day with a short ride in my small plane, a 4-seat 1954 Piper. But fading daylight and a low overcast kept us circling close to the airport. I landed after about five minutes, and we hoped for better weather the next day.

Sunday, we got what we wished for; dead-solid perfect flying weather, blue skies and hardly a breath of wind. I'm sure Gail will post some of the photos; we flew a meandering course around my 'neighborhood', an area about 20 miles (30 kilometers) across, and I pointed out my personal landmarks. After a touch-and-go landing at the big airport, we climbed out over downtown Scranton and I turned south toward the Pocono mountains, just starting to reach their peak autumn colors.

I landed at my frequent haunt, the small Mount Pocono Municipal airport. I had one more surprise for Gail – a helicopter ride. She had told me that that was on her "someday" list. While we waited for the heli to be prepped for flight, we got a ride into town with one of my CAP pilot buddies for a quick lunch.

My friend Mark, the owner of the flight school, took us for an amazing low-level barnstorming ride, while pointing out the qualities of the helicopter for my benefit. (He also sells the darn things!) We watched through the bubble windows as he banked and twisted up a canyon, pointing out bear caves and an eagle's nest; then we descended to a near-landing on the banks of a small reservoir. I've flown in helis before, but Mark really amazed me with the hummingbird nature of his machine - hovering with ease to almost any spot he chose.

Afterwards, we got back in my plane and took off again. Gail was enjoying the ride, so I headed further south to the Delaware Water Gap, the natural rock cut which unfortunately affords access to Pennsylvania from New Jersey. (Kidding, Jersey folks... we love those tourist dollars.) I circled over the Jersey side and cut the power, descended and flew through the cut; then banked to the right, up the Delaware river, chasing our shadow. (Not as low as Mark - I can't hover to a landing!) Then back north across Lake Wallenpaupack, the largest body of water nearby; a scalloped lake about 15 km long. Sailboats and speedboats dotted the lake, also enjoying the late-season day.

Back home, having made a full day of my typical flying circus, I cooked up some of my famous moisture-free chicken and uncorked some wine. Gail downloaded the day's haul of photos, and showed me around her melange of personal electronics.

Monday we relaxed - it was her vacation, after all - and we spent the day getting to know each other. Her personal landscape is as remarkable as any that we flew over, and she is even lovelier than her self-portraits. I've been exchanging with Gail in our various online channels for about six months, and been fascinated; our first meeting IRL was absolutely wonderful. I plan on escaping to the northwest to collect my due, and let her show me Vancouver through her eyes. Pictures to follow.

Thank you, Gail, for sharing your webspace, and my airspace. Until next time... ;^)

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Flying Over the Delaware River

Delaware River
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Photos now, posts later!

I'm still uploading the photos to Flickr, so check back later. Here's what's up, right now:

October 1-4, Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Megan bats at Maribeth

Megan bats at Maribeth
Originally uploaded by Allan & Cheryl.
The return flight from JFK was smooth, and touched down a bit early, around 1:45am. It's nearly 5 o'clock in the morning, and I've got to go to the office in a couple of hours. I'll have to post updates about the weekend later, but suffice to say, it was EXCELLENT.

So, for now, I leave you with a pic of my twin nieces, Megan and Maribeth.