Friday, October 22, 2010

On the way into School this (early) AM

High in the western sky was
a gorgeous full moon. This photo takes
a bit of license because the
bottom of the arc, in Kokomo was obscured by buildings, not mountains.

Anyway, my mind drifted a bit back to a simpler time and these lyrics:

Shine on, shine on harvest moon up in the sky.
I ain't had no lovin' since January, February, June, or July.
Snowtime ain't no time to stay outdoors and spoon, so shine on,
shine on harvest moon for me and my gal.

Music and lyrics: Edward Madden and Gus Edwards

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Autumn at the Lake

For those who love the change of seasons, Indiana offers a glorious show in autumn. Typically, the trees begin to turn. Red, yellow, orange, brown. Then we get a little Indian Summer. Just before you drag out the rake, there will be a rain shower and falling leaves start to cover the yard. Soon there arise the sounds of raking, mowing, ‘blowing’ (my favorite method) and mulching, as neighbors greet each other in the late year ritual of cleaning up lawns.

Up at the lake, we’ve enjoyed beautiful days, cool nights and lots of lake activity: it’s time to drag out the boats and winterize them; piers and lifts emerge from the depths by the shore; seasonal friends meet for coffee and map plans for the next spring.

How satisfying are the rites of this season.

Amid all the beauty is some real sadness this year. Our next door neighbors have sold their cottage and will retire to their single home, 3 or more hours away. It is that season for them.

These are special people: we have shared many life experiences in the last 15 years. We’ve watch children and grandchildren grow up. We’ve weathered several really exciting wind storms; we’ve helped each other clean up after those storms. We’ve learned from each other.

He is a master landscape artist and gardener, and he worked his squint while his manicured yard butted up to ours. He kindly tried to tutor us on the finer points of fertilization and trimming.
She is a career nurse and a dear friend, who drove to Indianapolis and held my hand on that chilly morning in April when the doctor delivered ‘the news.’

They have prayed with us and for us. God brought them into our lives. They have burrowed into a part of our hearts.

As it turns out, our lives full of irony, their cottage will be home to other friends, long-time high school/college friends, who also fell in love with the Winona Lake community.

But as for our vacating neighbors, we will miss them. Life continues to present new chapters to our lives.
THIS one, we wish we could have skipped.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

For Gabriela, Who Flies Her Own Solo Mission

You do not have to hang out very long at your local airport to be exposed to a "hangar flying" session. Hangar flying takes place when two or more pilots stand around in someone's hangar, swapping flying stories. Some of these stories have been passed on from pilot to pilot for years and have morphed into the mythic.

Hangar flying stories have a familiar structure. They usually start with the Intrepid Aviator (IA) saying something like, "I can't believe I got myself into this jam. What was I thinking?" The rookie then asks, "What happened?" This gives AI the opportunity to set up the events that took place that got him into the jam. He then recites the options that he considered to deal with the problem. Finally, he reveals how he solved the problem and how he lived to fly another day. In short, most hangar flying stories start with "I can't believe how dumb I was" and ends with "But I am really smart and a good pilot, because I figured a way out."

Hangar flying stories serve a useful purpose. First, since they usually involve doing something stupid to get into trouble in the first place, a good listener gets a tip on how to stay out of that trouble to begin with. Second, a discussion of options considered offers a verbal review of emergency procedures, which is always good. Finally, the solution usually tenders a couple of flying tips not covered in a flight manual or by an instructor.

The classic hangar flying story that illustrates all the above is the story of the African bush pilot who was flying a sedated lion to a new locale. All was well until the lion decided he did not want to be sedated anymore and became very much un-sedated midway through the flight. I looked in all of my flight manuals and, can you believe it? There is no procedure on what to do with a ravenous, unsedated, growling lion in the seat behind you. (If you want to find out what the pilot did, read on.)

Every pilot I know will tell you that he learned a lot more about flying by listening to hangar flying stories than he ever learned from textbooks and instructors. Learning to fly well is a lot like learning to play music. A good teacher can teach you to play the right notes on the sheet music, but merely playing the right notes does not necessarily make music, and it certainly does not make you a musician. Only a musician can truly make music. All good pilots want their flying skills to rival the skills of a talented musician.

There are two recurring topics in hangar flying. First, what makes up the perfect flight? Second, what is the perfect flying day? Consider this: a pilot takes off into a sunny, blue sky and flies uneventfully and competently to his destination and lands safely. A perfect flight, right? A perfect flying day, right? No way and not necessarily.

In the example above, suppose the pilot is flying due north on a heading of 360 degrees. He decides to turn left and go directly south on a heading of 180 degrees. As all pilots know, he pushes the stick slightly left while at the same time giving a little left rudder, all of which establishes a bank angle. As soon as the bank is established, the controls are neutralized and the airplane will continue the turn until the pilot feeds in a little right stick and right rudder to roll out of the turn headed south. Simple, right? Well, it is and it isn't. What usually happens is that the initial bank angle is not quite right, so a correction is made mid-turn. And during the turn 50 feet of altitude is lost or gained. And when the roll-out is completed, the airplane is headed somewhere between 175 degrees or 185 degrees, rather than 180 degrees.

Are these mistakes? I do not think so. Is this dangerous flying? Clearly not. Flying to that degree of accuracy or inaccuracy, depending on how you look at it, will get you a pass on about any flying test. The simple turn that I described was competently completed within an acceptable performance range. But the point is that the turn wasn't performed perfectly. If it was not performed perfectly, then the flight was not a perfect flight, was it? I can assure you no one has ever flown a perfect flight and no one ever will. Maybe close, but not quite. All good pilots constantly strive for that perfect flight, knowing full well they will never accomplish it.

What makes up the perfect flying day depends on who you ask. My dad, a several thousand hour Naval aviator-fighter pilot, thought the perfect flying day was when a winter wind of 20 knots gusting to 30 knots was perpendicular to the runway, the night was moonless and accompanied by turbulence, snow, ice and sleet. He used to practice his instrument approaches on nights like that. His firm conviction was that you could not expect to shoot a good instrument approach under actual instrument conditions unless you practiced the approaches under real instrument conditions. Being on instruments trying to land on a nasty night is not the time to see if you really can do it. He was right, too.

On the other end of the spectrum there are the rest of us. We think that a perfect flying day is when the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and a few white, puffy cumulus clouds float by in smooth air. Couple this with 50 miles of visibility and it's perfect, right? I wouldn't argue with you, but these conditions do not normally increase your flying skill or experience, either. My dad would be sure to point that out. Again, he would be correct.

With all the above in mind let me engage you in a hangar flying story, which began with my trip to Wisconsin last Monday morning. My airplane engine had been sick. It was down for two weeks while the mechanic tried to troubleshoot the problem. I won't bore you with the details other than to say that when I would run up the engine to check it before takeoff, it would not run right.

It shook like a paint mixer.

Piston aircraft engines have two spark plugs for each cylinder. A left magneto supplies electricity to one spark plug per cylinder, while the right magneto supplies electricity to the other plug for each cylinder. The airplane flies on both magnetos. A switch lets you check each magneto separately. My airplane ran like crap on the left magneto, although it ran fine on the right magneto and when both magnetos were selected. At any rate, eventually, the mechanic said it was fixed, I test flew it and it seemed to be fine. So, I launched into a clear, blue sunshiny morning headed 200 miles away for Dekalb, Illinois to refuel.

I climbed to 4500 foot, programmed the GPS for Dekalb, checked all the gauges, and settled in for a two hour flight. On the seat next to me was my sectional chart with my course drawn on it in pencil. Much like a Rand-McNally map, a sectional chart has airports, towns, cities, lakes, highways and so forth marked on it. I occupied myself with checking off the landmarks on the chart as I flew along. There was no turbulence, so sitting in my airplane was not that much different than sitting on my living room couch. It was darn near perfect.

Two hours later, I saw the Dekalb airport over my nose, called in and landed. The gas tanks were filled as mine was emptied. I filched a piece of coffee cake someone brought in and out I went to climb back in and take off. I checked the oil, made sure the gas caps were on tight, fired up and taxied to the runway to takeoff.

Here is where it gets interesting. When I ran up the engine, guess what? The roughness was back on the left magneto. It was bad. I tried leaning out the engine, but it did no good. Frustrated, I taxied back to the ramp and shut it off. I now had a problem of significance. What should I do? I could get a mechanic to look at it and wait. I could get a mechanic, leave it there, rent a car and drive home. I could continue on with the sour motor. I could fly back to Kokomo with the sour motor. What to do?

I was not convinced a mechanic in Dekalb could fix what the mechanic in Kokomo had apparently been unable to repair. I did not want to get stuck in Dekalb, either. Continuing the trip was out, because my college friend who I was going to see specifically warned me there was no emergency landing sites in upper Wisconsin and when a plane goes down, it is not usually found until deer season. (Good to know.)

As I sat there in the cockpit, I looked at the sectional chart and the course line I had drawn. I noticed that there was an airport every 15 to 20 miles all the way to Kokomo. If I could takeoff and climb to 5000 feet above the ground, even if the engine quit, I could glide to an airport. Even if I missed the airport I had lots of harvested fields from which to choose. If I hop-scotched from airport to airport, I could get home. I just had to make sure I was always within gliding distance. I decided to try it.
I fired up the airplane, taxied out and took off. I spiraled up over Dekalb to 7500 feet and started for the first airport, hop-scotching along. I made it. One hundred miles later, all was going well, until I was about 10 miles from Kankakee, Ill. I had been checking the oil pressure and oil temperature gauges every 30 seconds, figuring that if the engine was going to call it quits, I might get a little warning. I glanced over at the fuel gauges and was horrified to see the port tank gauge on empty! I thought, that is all I need! I knew the tanks had been filled. I checked the tank vent and I could not see any leak. I knew I checked the gas caps before I took off. What could be the problem? I checked all the fuses. Everything seemed OK. What to do?

Then I remembered a hangar flying session with Dad. He said you should never pass up the opportunity to refuel your airplane whenever you land. (I did this.) Running out of fuel has killed more pilots that anything else since the beginning of powered flight. Fuel system problems can be fatal, he told me. Never continue a flight with a fuel system problem, if you can land and get it checked out. To continue on with a known problem, even if you think you know what it is, is stupid and dangerous.

So I landed at Kankakee and learned the fuel tanking sending unit had broken. I had plenty of fuel in the port tank after all. A broken sending unit was not critical to the flight, so I filled up the airplane again and took off, continuing to hop-scotch my way home. I landed safely in Kokomo about an hour later.

So, was this a perfect flying day? It was close. The air was smooth, the sun was out, and visibility was 50 miles. You can't do better than that. Even more, I encountered two glitches on the flight to challenge my skills: a rough-running engine and the broken fuel sending unit. Life-threatening? No. Cause for concern? Clearly. An opportunity to think outside the box? Yes, and that's good, because it what makes flying so challenging.

Did I make a good decision to fly back home? Some would say not. I wouldn't argue with them. One of my pilot- friends asked me if I would have flown home with a passenger. I would not have done that. I told him I would not have risked someone else. He asked me, then why would I risk my own life? Good point.

On the other hand, I know what Dad would have said. He would have listened to my story and then, after a few moments would have said, "Well, you recognized the problems. You analyzed them and came up with solutions that had minimally acceptable risk within your flying skills and experience. I would say it was a competently flown flight encountering adverse circumstances. Good mission."

Before I forget, the bush pilot pinned the un-sedated lion against the fuselage of the airplane by doing a series of continuous high-g turns, until the veterinarian on board could get another syringe full of Phenobarbital pumped into the lion. The flight was completed without further incident.

Mike out.

More from Isaiah

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wandering through Isaiah

"I have called you by your name;
You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you."

Isaiah 43: 1 - 2

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Looking Back/Facing Forward

So, what has this last year brought to the Bolingers of Kokomo, Indiana?

Last year, as October began, I was on leave from school, preparing for a doctor’s appointment where we believed we’d hear The Bad News.

We had helped to dedicate our former office building and parking lot.

Mike was keeping busy in his woodshop; the local news magazine had come to photograph our home and interview us. I was putzing around the house, tying up loose ends from the close of the office. Zach continued to move/carry/lift/load as we considered how we would downsize. Allyson lent her helpful insights which you could summarize with: live your life.

That was and is good advice.

The October appointment showed a clear CAT. Zach enrolled to finish his degree. I returned to school and Mike continued to create in wood. In addition to other projects, our cottage in Winona Lake holds much furniture that is less than a year old.

That’s the tangible.

As for the intangible: We continue to live within a bubble of God’s love. We are experiencing His protection and His grace.

For me: those fruits of the spirit: love joy peace patience gentleness kindness and faith…..that’s the world I live in. Right now, there’s not much that can make me angry, rob me of my joy, interrupt my peace. These are gifts of our God.

And, our friends, we continue to thank our Father daily for you. You are with us on this journey. So thank you for staying with us. We pray for you and that you will not grow faint. Almost weekly, Mike receives a note or card, sent by someone to encourage him. We read those and cherish them.

Out and about, we keep bumping into former clients and other townies who had heard about Mike’s illness but had not kept up with the miracle. When we run into them, they smile so widely, you’d think it would crack their faces. Mike gets hugs and pats on the back, and thanks for something he has done for them.

Recently, we have buzzed around town in the restored Lotus SuperSport. It’s low low low to the ground and has no doors, so it’s a trick to get in and takes some fancy maneuvers to exit. No matter. At almost every traffic light, some friend rolls down his window, looks down at us and tells Mike how good it is to see him.

As he retreats from even the smallest legal matters, other friends continue to drop by, some with encouragement and some with needs. Many nights, as I turn down the covers, I can see the porch light on at the woodshop. Those porch talks go on into the night.

And what will the next year hold for us (and for you)? God’s got that all worked out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Out Motoring

Last Sunday, Indiana tasted its initial nip of cool weather. It had been raining so the first leaves dusted the driveway.

“Let’s drive the Lotus to church. What do you say?” was the question.

The Lotus is the fun little car that Mike restored. Operative term is ‘little.’ Its frame clears the ground by a mere 6 inches. The side measures about 20 inches from the ground to the windows.
If it had windows.

It also does not have any doors. Or a top.

Or a heater.

But it is such a bright red toy, and Mike loves to motor about with its right-sided steering wheel. And, these days, I’m game for much.

“Sure,” said I.

I ran back into the bedroom for a quick wardrobe change. Off with the skirt and heels. On with the jeans and sneakers.

And the hoodie.

My new hoodie proclaims that I am, in fact, still a Wildkat, a Kokomo High School athletic fan. WILDKAT is printed in bold blue letters across a bright red sweatshirt. So I match the car, you see.

I ran back out to the car. Perhaps he was expecting a be-tweeded partner, leather racing gloves pulled on and a white neck scarf to wave in the wind?

He screwed up his face a bit as I maneuvered my right leg up and over; bracing with that foot, I lifted the other foot up and over. Then, feet together, I S-L-I-D in and down. After fastening the seat belt, I pulled the hood up and over my head and tied it tightly under my chin.

“Ready,” I announced.

All smiles. Yes, it was cool outside. Cold, actually. And a bit damp. But I was snuggie in my Red and Blue cocoon.

We motored through our neighborhood and onto our destination. The entry to our church offers a long, curvy road. Curve to the left. Curve to the right. Curve to the left again. Curves are much fun in this little British auto.

He pulled up at the main door. Several friends were outside to greet guests.
“Do you need a hand?” one asked. No, I did not. I reversed my entry routine, stood up straight, stretched out and then walked into the building.

When I removed my hood, several other friends remarked on my ‘wind blown’ hair do.
Mike parked the Lotus. When he joined me in the foyer, he said, “I’m glad you took that hood off. You looked kinda dorky.”

It was MY turn to screw up my face. We walked in and found our seats.

Right in front of us was a young couple, newly married. They had NOT had a good drive in that morning, if you know what I mean.

During ‘greet your neighbor’ time, we nodded and shook hands and all. Their smiles froze and then ended before they turned back around.

Of course, I do not know what this morning tiff was about. And I’m confident that before evening, they will have worked it out. When couples are committed to each other for life, you solve those many disagreements, with compromises and concessions.

(I hope she gets a little gift out of this. That usually salves the wound.)

Although the speaker’s message was good, my mind wandered for a bit to another young couple who sometimes sat in church with a chill between them.

Who knew what adventures lay ahead of them, him the law student and her, the beginning teacher? Would he have called me ‘dorky’ back then? Perhaps. Would I have laughed at it? Probably not at the beginning. It takes some time to get the marriage rhythm right.

Now? We laugh a lot.

Most of the time.

Ps. Update – this Sunday, we tried it again. The skies were bright blue and cloudless and the temperature, as several banks’ signs told us, was 46 degrees. I donned some tweed.
Look at our girl: Captain, US Army Medical Corp., recently returned from duty in Haiti.

Her current location is Brooks Medical Center in San Antonio.

And recently, the Army, once again demonstrating its wisdom, selected her to be next year's chief resident.

And although this lady is competent and capable, she insists that, once again, God is taking such good care of her and her family.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

On the Road Again

Early on a recent Saturday, with the gorgeous autumn blooming, the hub asked, “Wanna go for a ride?”
Around here, mid-north Indiana, that can only mean one thing: let’s drive down to Brown County. Several miles south of Bloomington, this is where the state begins to roll into the Appalachians; the rounded hills are coated with trees that glow red and gold and orange by mid October. Even on an IU football weekend, your route takes you around the fans. You can escape whatever noise and stress by turning into the state park and following what seem like an infinite number of roads and paths, paved and unpaved. Even as many take this trip, the park always seems close to empty.
Once, on an adventure there, we got caught in the rain so we pulled over and took refuge on an empty cabin’s porch. Within 10 minutes, three deer joined us.
Such are my memories of Brown County.
I just assumed Mike had read my mind.
We climbed aboard what he says is ‘the best brand of motorcycle,’ one that belongs to someone else. This bright red Honda touring bike was a revelation for me: as passenger, I sat on a padded cushion with lots of room, this after years of perching on an 8” square metal platform with a thin layer of leather covering it.
Hoodie on and up, I was ready for our adventure.
We headed to Indianapolis. Did I forget to mention to the driver that one vein of I-465 was thick with construction? Did he not recently drive Mom to the airport along the same route? Wouldn’t he remember this? Apparently not. Our journey to get around Indianapolis took much longer and coated us with dust.
No matter. We cleared urbania and headed off to the south.
Except, within a short distance, the hub turned into Morgan Monroe State Park. Long ago, Mike took some hiking trips there. He has also joined some bicycling treks there. But it’s not so great for driving and sightseeing. As the passenger, I’m not even a co-pilot. I may have thought that this was a side trip on the way.

It was not.

“I don’t remember this being such a plain place,” said he.

“This isn’t where I thought we were going.”

“Where did you think we were going?”

I told him.


Coupled with the long trek through road construction and now, the Indiana University game day crowd, fatigue was curling the corners on our enthusiasm for adventure. We were now dusty, thirsty, tired, and stiff. A quick consensus was that we would pop into that empty-parking-lot McD’s for some sweet tea and not-too-bad coffee before we made the Go Home/Go South decision.

We walked up to the counter and ordered our drinks just as a busload of little-girl-athletes-working-on-their-tough-image emptied into the place. With them, they brought their sweat and swearing and swagger. Close in. CLOSE IN.

We grabbed our drinks and, muscling our way through elbow pads, headed to the door. Our thought of a quick, restful break became a dash for the motorcycle.

Ok, the vote now was to head back home. We would follow the other side of Indianapolis. We might stop at a bookstore….oh, come on, we WOULD stop at a bookstore.
So we were off and pointed north.
The day: a failure? No way…..more like those kinds of trips which daughter Allyson describes as “so us.”

From my vantage point, I got to watch the cars whiz by. One was particularly entertaining: a young man had restored an old 70s Grand Am, painting it flat black and adding fins. As it flew past us, we admired the even blacker flames painted on the doors. Then, from the rear we got the real show: he had rigged something above the dual exhausts which, every once in a while, shot flames out the back.

Yes, we stopped at a favorite bookstore. Another coffee for me. And then, back to the homestead.

Those glorious fall days lay ahead. Perhaps another try at Brown County.

Let me share a little whimsy with you

Our friend, Morgan Young, is a gifted writer; a Renaissance man; a spirtual advisor; a husband to a really good friend; a dad to several great kids; he has also guided me through this blog.

He and his son embarked on a baseball fantasy trip this summer. I had heard anecdotal snippets and then, in our local paper, he shared part of the story with our community.

I think you'll like this. Click here.

By the way, to learn more about Morgan, you can check out his blog base:

Lasso the Moon

I want to share a special video with you. Brother-in-law Steve Amerson (dot com) created this as a graduation present to his daughter, our niece. She's now off to Westmont College in Santa Barbara.

I think you will love it.