Friday, May 16, 2008

Mother's Day

I mowed Mom and Dad's yard again the day before Mother's Day. I was also able to bring the Big Red Beast over and remove the stump I dug up last August. I tried lifting the stump from the bucket pivots. The Mahindra groaned, but the stump just came up an inch. I was so discouraged, I almost gave up and had already thrown the chains on the trailer when I remembered Dougster saying remove the bucket. I removed the loader bucket and then I was able to lift the stump as high as I needed to load it on my trailer. I took the stump home with plans to remove it by chaining it to a tree. I removed the ramps and tried to pull out from under the stump. Nothing happened, as I sat there spinning one wheel. I then put a chain high in the tree and attached my come-a-long to it. I then hoisted the stump back and up on it's side. Just as I was running out of cable, the swivel snapped off and the stump fell back against the tree....still firmly planted on the last foot of trailer. Only then did I have enough slack in the chain to pull up as the stump landed on the ground, leaning up against the tree. I rushed back to Mom and Dad's to retrieve my Mahindra.
Mother's Day had Mom, Dad, and I sitting on their back patio enjoining some peace and quiet. Then my brother and his wife came home. Long story brother got mad and things started to escalate so I just got in the truck and took off.  I worked the next two nights and took the next two nights off.

Thursday I saw another woodpecker out the kitchen window. I grabbed my camera and eased outside, out on my deck. I took a photo, then edged closer, then another photo and down the steps. I managed to get within 30 feet and took a total of 7 photos of it as it was eating out of a ground level pine stump. My friend Sara corrected me when I emailed her photos of a Red Headed Woodpecker. She stated that it is a Pileated Woodpecker and it was the biggest of all woodpeckers and it wasn't afraid of much. This red head never stopped eating as Booger ran by chasing a squirrel. It wasn't until Booger finally noticed the stump muncher and ran toward it did he (or she) finally flew off. I was fascinated as I watched my red headed friend. He would peck at the stump, swing his head to the left and look, then take another peck at the stump, then swing his head right and look, then take another peck then look straight ahead. Friday evening found me itching to get on the Big Red Beast. I needed to dig up some bank sand from the gully for fill dirt where a heavy downpour a few days earlier had washed ruts in the yard. Of course I had a blast backing my 6520 up to the gully and digging in the dirt near the water. Rather too quick for me, I had the dirt dug up and piled up on the bank. The fun was over and the hauling and spreading began.

It was getting dark so I packed it in and went to clean up. I got to spend 5 hours on the Mahindra hauling, spreading and leveling dirt before Dad called and asked to be taken to the Emergency Room, as he was feeling dizzy. This after being rushed to our(who had gone for the day, so we saw another doctor) doctor Thursday afternoon for continually vomiting. He was pumped full of fluids and all was okay. Friday Mom and Dad had an appointment to see our doctor and he was there! Dad was scheduled for an ultrasound on his tummy and my Mom was put on Aricept, a medicine for Alzheimer's patients. So it was three times in one week to take Mom and Dad to the doctor. I am so glad I had the time off. Anyway, Dad was admitted into the hospital and Saturday night moved to the Concerned Care Unit (CCU) because of a very erratic heart beat. Sunday afternoon, while the electric heart surgeon was telling Mom and I that Dad needed a pacemaker, Dad's heart beat when down to 20 beats a minute, then zoomed up to 105 beats a minute! I heard the surgeon say in a low voice.................Defib. Then Dad's heart settled down to a more or less steady 70 beats a minute That is when the surgeon told the nurses to prep Dad for a temporary pacemaker. So we had to leave. Monday I called and asked to take a week's vacation. When we got to the CCU room Dad was in, we were told Dad was up all night and tried to get up to go the restroom. So they restrained him. But Dad got his finger sensor unplugged and the nurse came running. She plugged the wires back in and grabbed Dad's hands and asked him where he was. Dad didn't know. The nurse said he was in CCU and almost died yesterday. I was alright until I got home, got Mom in bed, then I collapsed crying on my bed. Tuesday they were late in getting Dad's permanent pacemaker installed, so we didn't get to see him. Wednesday Dad was still out of it and it scared me. I started crying before getting home. I talked Mom and myself into getting chocolate frosties from Wendy's. Today we arrived to find Dad eating lunch and he had his glasses on. This afternoon we found Dad restrained again and his gown all bloody, as he had kicked off his covers. It was such a mess it made me lite headed. I asked the nurse about it and she explained that Dad had unplugged his catheter early in the morning and they had cleaned his gown and bed cloths twice. They got us to leave the room and cleaned it all up for the third time today! Early this evening we went back. When we rounded the last corner before Dad's room we heard Dad holler.............LIKE A PIG'S EYE. Then we found out the Urologist was installing another catheter. I imagine someone in the room was telling Dad it wouldn't hurt when Dad holler one of his favorite phrases.
So with Dad going into a nursing home, I decided to shell out around $1500 and pay a law firm that specializes in estate law and nursing home placement. It is a small fee I decided compared to doing it myself while pulling out my remaining hair and screwing up and owing a nursing home 3 months of temporary care for Mom until her Medicaid is approved. The 3 months fees of a nursing home would be way larger than the $1500 I will pay to a professional to get it right the first time. Then I can go back to work, as I sure miss that hour drive to and from work and the 10 hours of sweaty work on an airliner! This I know, is way easier than caring for an aging parent with dementia.
I have uploaded a few photos. You can see them here. I hope to have enough time this weekend to bring the Big Red Beast home from my neighbor's for some tractor therapy, Mahindra style. I left the 6520 over at the neighbor's house Sunday evening so it wouldn't be a vandalism target if my brother came over when no body was home. I need to clean out some ditches by the neighbor's driveway, so I might not even bring her home this weekend, just walk through the woods to her for my therapy seat time. 
hugs, Brandi

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Training, training, training

Last week found me back in Dallas. This time for taxi & run up training. With my past work injuries, my taxi & engine run up release had expired a while back. During that time, the training program was changed twice. Once from a paper test to a computer test, then to a program with training in the simulator. The program was also changed so that two currently licensed mechanics be in the cockpit sitting at the controls for taxiing. It used to be only one current mechanic and another person to act as an observer and operate the radio was required. These changes came about by ever increasing runway incursions through out the industry.

So we are safer and more qualified now. We were going for 16 hours in the classroom and 8 hours in the simulators. The simulator time was divided over two nights, after daily pilot training. We were told it was divided into two, 4 hour sessions because an eight hour session was too long to endure. We soon found out why. The first night we flew one of the Boeing 737-700 simulators and the second night we flew in the Boeing 737-300 simulator. Not too much difference in the two. One thing all the simulators had in common was that the simulator technicians hang a rubber chicken off the right rear corner of all simulators. Our instructor was a mechanic with Delta Airlines for 24 years and he said all the simulators at Delta have a hanging rubber chicken. It is a tradition. If you know what the tradition is, please tell me.

I made it up to Dallas the night before class started. I took with me a cold that Luke gave me. The morning of the class, I woke up with a sore throat. Great! No going home sick now. I made it through the week taking medicine for my congestion and dripping vinegar down my throat to "pickle that bug". Class was easy and we sailed through the computer tests. Tuesday brought thoughts of the coming training in the "box", as the instructor was calling the simulator. Would I know what to do when the fire bells went off? Would I screw up? My mind tends to run a muck if I let it. As it turned out I was the first one in the "hot" seat, the captain's seat. From the start, our instructor was throwing everything he could think of at us. A starter that wouldn't release. An engine that wouldn't gain rpm. An engine that started "hot". A hot start is when the engine's exhaust gas temperature exceeds manufacturer limits. It would ruin the engine or worse. We were also getting more intense training on taking directions over the radio, so the simple instructions from the tower to taxi from the terminal gate to the hangar became a round about, don't get lost, exercise around the airport. The first time I taxied across the "active" runway, the fire bells and lights came on for #2 engine. I immediately shut that engine off and then told the mechanic in the right seat (my co pilot) to fight the fire while I got us across the runway. We were taught to stop and take care of the problem, before getting into more trouble. Getting the plane off the runway was stressed numerous times because a plane may be fixing to land on top of you . So I taxied across the runway and then stopped. The whole class is designed to teach us to work as a team. We did. We got a........"Y'all did good", from the instructor after we were through. After an hour of drills and taxing, we took a break. I needed it as I tense. We were not using the simulator's motion, as it was turned off. But we had a dark cockpit and the view out the windows almost looked real. While trying not to screw up, you get tense as it all seems real. You react like it is real. Our class of 4 did well. We didn't burn up any parts of the aircraft the first night. Overall we did well with the computer tests also. No one failed. If you failed, your computer had to be reset. The instructor commented our class was the first class he hadn't reset a computer. The second night we practiced taking engine readings at take off power and making sure the plane is safe to do run at high power sittings. We were taught to fasten our seat belts and showed a photo of an Airbus that went through a fence during a high power engine run. Accidents happen, be prepared.

There was no simulator maintenance scheduled after our training class, so we got to fly for two hours. On my second landing, I finally landed that big Boeing 737-700. Definitely different from driving the Big Red Beast! Flying the simulators gave me a look at what pilots go through to fly their dreams.

The day before I left for training, my parents kitchen stove caught on fire. Everyone seemed to be fine when I got there. There was some smoke damage through out the house. I called the insurance company and they would check it out when I was in Dallas. As I was leaving for Dallas, I called to see how Mom and Dad were. My brother said Dad needed to go to the doctor. I went over and talked Dad into going to see the doctor to check him for smoke inhalation. I then left. Two hours later I called to ask what the doctor said and my brother told me Dad didn't go. While in class the next day, I called to check up on Mom and Dad. My brother then told me Dad was in the hospital for some tests. The tests just showed what we already knew, he had an irregular heartbeat and high blood sugar count, Diabetes.

I did get some seat time yesterday on my Mahindra. I spent 4 hours hauling and spreading clay on the neighbor's driveway. It is maybe a quarter mile long. The 6520's loader strained the front tires every trip. Now I hope we get a little rain! Tomorrow I go to the doctor, as my cold has been with me a week. Check out the photos I uploaded here. Please stop by later for more from Booger and all of us.
hugs, Brandi