Saying Goodbye To Medevac Dispatch

Yesterday was my last day at the old job. As many who know me in person already know, I’ve found myself my first flying job. But more about that later.

When I interviewed for Medevac dispatch, my manager sold it as someplace where I’d learn more and meet more people than I would working a simple ramp-rat job. It would be a place where I could prove myself to be intelligent and capable.

And now after a year and a half of it, both are definitely true. I learned a lot, made connections, met lots of pilots. I’ve been informed that my competence was noted by all. My manager commented several times while I was there, and yesterday, that the fact that I required so little supervision and he trusted me to have things taken care of made his job easier and freed him up to get other things done. I never felt like I was doing anything that wasn’t expected of me, but it sounds like I was.

The pilots and medics appreciated me too. I seem to have been well liked, and they’re sad to see me leave, and I’m sad to leave, as much as I’m excited for what’s next.

The other interesting thing that I wasn’t really expecting was how they all, my manager and the owners included, seemed visibly proud to see me move on. They understand that it’s an expected eventuality for most of their dispatchers, and it’s not like I ditched in an annoyingly short period of time. I’ve made a good reputation for myself there, and I think anyone there would say good things about me. And they seemed like they were confident I would succeed, based on knowing me.

And who knows, maybe someday I’ll end up back there. Only next time, not as a dispatcher.

Advertisements

Country Girl

When I met my husband, he kept calling me a country girl, because I grew up in Portage La Prairie. Technically it was a small city, being approximately fourteen thousand people. I mean, we had a Timmies, two Seven-11s and a Rotten Ronnies – that qualifies as civilization right? So I’d object and insist that I wasn’t a country girl.

He came out to meet me in person for the first time, and quickly realized I didn’t live out in the boonies, but he still teased me that I was a country girl.

I didn’t even realize I *was* a country girl until I moved to the city.

Now, by “The City” I do mean “The City” and not “The Big City.” Winnipeg is hardly a big city, I realize. It was a trading hub originally, being on the fork of two rivers, but as that, it’s still not a large city. But it’s the biggest city in Canada for five hundred miles any direction, so anyone in Manitoba refers to it as “The City.”

But I did eventually realize that people who didn’t grow up the way I did think about a lot of things differently. The first time I went to Lyncrest airport, my husband, who grew up in “The City” was with me in the car. When I turned onto Murdock road, he asked me several times if I was sure we were going the right way, because we were on a gravel road.

It’s little things. I’m “handy.” My mother-in-law asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and when I said a tool set, my husband told me she didn’t believe me, and asked him if I was serious. Getting a tool bag and tools for Christmas was awesome, seriously, and I totally use them. There’s something to be said for having the tool you need when you need it. One of my co-workers back at the call centre needed a knife one day and swiveled around and asked me first because he knew me well enough to guess I probably had a Swiss army knife on me.  (I did.)

My husband was a boy-scout and sometimes he tells me “a boy-scout is always prepared.” I tell him, “yeah, but a country girl knows how to improvise.”

My dad says the guys he hires to help him with the bees, when they’re city folk, you can tell. There’s a certain ability to think ahead and problem solve that they just don’t have, according to him.

I had an ex boyfriend who told me a story about when he and his army buddies were out on a road trip and ran out of gas. They had a jerrycan of gas but no funnel, so they couldn’t get the gas into the gas tank. I asked at the time, if they’d had a newspaper or magazine they could have rolled up into a makeshift funnel. He looked at me a moment and I realized not one of these army guys had thought to improvise.

Growing up, my dad would take my brother and I out to the shed while he was changing light bulbs on a ladder, just so that he would have someone to call 911 if he fell. Same with when he was shovelling snow off the roof on a particularly snowy winter – he had us on the other end of a rope on the opposite side of the house. Things like that taught us responsibility and caution. Not fear, but caution. To look for ways to make things safer and plan for worst-case scenarios. Very relevant to aviation, I might add.

And the time spent out if the bush. My husband says being out in the bush brings back happy memories for him from boy-scouts, but for me, it’s not just happy memories, it’s home. I spent entire days out wandering farmers fields and bits of bush in rural Manitoba frequently. It wasn’t time where we lined up to be shown something and waited our turn to try or touch it. We did as we pleased. We explored, turned over logs, built things, and were even trusted to manage a small campfire with very little supervision. We got into poison ivy, and brought home wood ticks, caught snakes and toads and picked flowers. It was one hundred percent unscheduled, until my dad honked the truck horn to call us back and head off to the next bee yard.

Of course, later we were expected to help out with the bees while we were out there, but looking back, I see more and more how growing up that way affected me. Being out in a rural area, I don’t feel out of place the way many do. I don’t see the shabby, run down buildings and turn my nose up at the lack of amenities. I talk to country people and the way they talk is familiar. I’m used to the way they get there when they get there, and stay until the job is done.

So despite knowing there will be a lot of new stuff I’ll be learning in the coming year, and knowing there are going to be things that are going to suck like missing my husband (mainly missing my husband!), there is a part of me that feels like I’m going home.

The Shannara Chronicles – a review

I’m recovering from a cold here, but I recently finished catching up on the Shannara chronicles second season.

I never read the books when I was younger, so I went into watching this show with no real expectations other than that it was going to be some high fantasy YA stuff. But I was game for something light.

It’s set in a wold that’s clearly supposed to be extremely distant future earth, judging from the ruins of a collapsed civilization reminiscent of ours. Laid on top of that is a world of elves and trolls and humans battling demons and warlocks. The elves have a magic tree that keeps the demons bound in their own realm, but of course the tree is dying and the characters must go off on a quest to save the tree and keep the demons where they are, all the while trying to work through their adorable teenaged love triangle.

It is light. It’s a steaming trash heap of YA fantasy tropes.

I love it.

There’s something about campiness when they just go all in and don’t try to hide the campiness. It’s like Xena Warrior princess for the new generation, only where the bisexuality is right out in the open and not just hinted at in subtext. I feel like they just took all those nineties shows – Xena, Hercules, Sinbad, etc, and studied them to figure out why they stayed on the air so friggin’ long, and updated the format for the modern audience who doesn’t have the patience for filler episodes and loves the story arcs that take a whole season to tell.

The costumes look like cosplays. Well constructed cosplays, but cosplays nonetheless, that are constructed to look like some geek boy’s fantasy that he drew up for a video game or comic book and was never intended to be an actual practical outfit. Fake plastic boned corsets abound, and leather tube tops pass as adventuring gear. How do they move in those skintight leather pants? Must be magic. The ball gowns though – over the top delights.

I did note that while there was LGBT representation in the first season, there was far less POC representation. They did bring in more POC characters in the second season though, if you hold out for that, including a princess and her mother the queen of the human kingdom, which is extra awesome because black girls don’t get to be princesses often.

There wasn’t anything racy or coarse – I’d rate it PG, it would be perfectly suitable for a fairly young audience as long as you’re not one of those people who seems to think LGBT content is automatically adult only content. There was implied sex, but they drew the curtains at kissing.

It’s junk food for your brain, but sometimes you just want to eat garbage, and that’s ok.

Parallel Prairies

So, I’ve been busy lately. I happened to have a bunch of posts queued around when my cat died, so I didn’t have to worry about it for a while, but then there were no more queued posts, and my husband had an event, and we both got sick after, and we got a new kitten, and our other cat got sick,* and it’s been a rough April/May.

And through that whole period, I’ve been getting notifications of new subscribers. Mostly email ones too, so not just porn-bots trying to get me to click on their profiles! Like, there’s been a lot of them lately, to the point where I wonder if they’re all real except for the whole lack of porn thing, or trying to sell me anything at all. I think maybe one of my pages or posts got shared on a site or something.

So welcome to all my new followers!

And I have news!

I’ve got the clear to announce that my short story “Cod Liver Oil” will appear in the anthology Parallel Prairies, out next fall! It’s a horror anthology full of stories set in or inspired by my home province of Manitoba.

30806253_10156318505381449_6077979858031036818_o

I’m super chuffed to be published alongside awesome authors like Chadwick Ginther, Patrick Johanneson, Craig Russell, Samantha Beiko and lots more.

My contribution is a story set shortly after the railroad comes through, bringing all sorts to town, including peddlers selling all sorts of concoctions. It’s inspired by the traditional maritime song of the same name about a man who’s sickly wife persuades him to buy her a bottle of cod liver oil from Doctor John, and comes to regret it.

I had a lot of fun writing this one. Sometimes you get into writing a character that’s so different from yourself that it’s freeing to just write what they would think and imagine your readers cringing. The most delicious feedback I got on it was one beta reader telling me that it made him feel uncomfortable to be a man.

I really had a lot of fun writing this one….

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy it!

Pre-order here!!!!

*He lived tho! It was just a flu. Like, seriously, we were like, really worried, he started puking, wouldn’t eat, same main symptoms of the cat that had cancer, but the vet was like, nah, he’s got a temperature, just a flu, we fix him up, and he did. Apollo is fine.

Cat Post

IMAG0188

It’s my blog, I don’t have to stay on topic. I can write about my cat if I want.

But it’s also a journal of sorts, so important things are going in here.

Pooka was the best cat I ever had, most cuddly cat most of my friends had ever met. Super outgoing. He played fetch, which baffled visitors who had never seen a cat promptly return and drop the toy they were chasing on their owner’s lap.IMAG0269

He was a Manx, with just a short tail, and even though he was born a barn cat, he took to the litter box the day we got him like it was the best thing in the world. We only ever had trouble with him if we changed the kind of litter we used. He wasn’t from the most reputable breeder perhaps, though, and he had some food allergies that would give him digestive issues if we fed him the wrong thing. But his personality made up for it.

When he was younger, before he gave up and got used to me leaving for work, he would try and stop me from leaving. He got to know the signs that I was going out, and chase me down the hallway towards the door, hooking his paw around my ankle, trying to hold me back.

He would be on my lap just all the time – I was so used to it, I wouldn’t even notice he was there. He met me at the door when I came home, and would come to snuggle in bed when I called him at night. As a kitten, he tried to sleep on my head. Toward the end, he would snuggle next to me with his head on my shoulder and one paw wrapped around my arm.

20180107_231117

In addition to playing fetch, he was known as the infamous water thief, and would drink out of any water glass left undefended. We tried to use a spraybottle for discipline, but discovered he liked it, and we have video of him drinking water as we sprayed it into his mouth.

He chased a laser pointer once. We had him running in a circle for at least a half an hour before he collapsed panting, mouth open, on the floor and couldn’t get up. He wasn’t a stupid cat. He would never chase a laser pointer again after that.

more cats 022

He never jumped on the counter, didn’t dig in the garbage, didn’t unravel the toilet paper, was good about having his claws trimmed, and only liked scratching things I gave home to scratch. He had a thing for sisal cord scratching posts.

cat 007

And he had the sweetest meows. Trilling and chirping mostly, but then their was the longer play-with-me meow when he was in the mood. At some point in his life we started hearing a very strange meow that we only heard when he was in another room. At first we though something was wrong, it was kind of a yowling, insistent meow, but when we came to check on him he was fine, just fondling his catnip pillow. Finally we figured out what it was when he prowled into the room still doing it. It was just his play-with-me meow, only he was doing it while carrying his toy around in his mouth.

Almost eleven years old, he started losing weight over the course of a few months, and when he stopped eating altogether one day two months ago, we got him to the vet. Vet did some tests, and while he was negative for the nasty FIV and feline leukemia, there was no easy way to rule out cancer. We crossed our fingers and gave him the antibiotics and steroids the vet prescribed and hoped it turned out to be just an infection or autoimmune disease.

He bounced back through Christmas. Nathan calls it our little Christmas miracle that we got him back healthy and happy through the holidays. We made the most of it, feeding him whatever he wanted since the vet was hopeful but never made us any promises.

After the holidays were over, he crashed again. We made another vet appointment.

The night before, I managed to get him to eat some baked chicken. He didn’t really want to, but he kept looking back at me like he knew I wanted him to eat, and he was only doing it for me.

20180120_203814

Later I was petting him, and I felt his tummy. I could feel something. Lumps; masses. The vet confirmed it the next morning. Liver cancer. Nothing anyone could have done. On the vet’s recommendation, we had him put down.

It’s been a month, and at night in the dark, I’m still stepping cautiously around the spots he used to sleep so I don’t trip over him before I remember he’s gone. Every year, my mother-in-law buys our cats cat toys for christmas, and this year Nathan had forgot them in the bag brought home after family gatherings. We didn’t remember it until after, and now we have this little red stuffed dragonfly that was for him, and we never got to give it to him. And the other cat – Apollo cries at night, and wanders the apartment looking for his friend.

I never had any pet as long as I had him, and was never as close to one. My cats growing up, the first my mom sent away to a farm after a year, maybe, the second wandered off to live at the neighbors who were feeding her so that she was getting balloonishly fat, and the third I only had for a year or so before having to give him away. I never had to have one put down. The dog we had for a lot of years, but he belonged to my brother, my grandpa and my dad, so it was them that had that closeness with the dog.

None of them were animals that I shared the kind of relationship I had with Pooka. Pooka, I’m not even sure I know how to describe how in sync the two of us were. I think the best I can do is say, in the dark, at night, I could put my hand out and call him, and in a few moments, his head would be pressed under my hand.

The new kitten will have big paw prints to fill when it comes home.

“99% of Readers Won’t Know Better”

I was reading a story someone had posted online for feedback once, and pointed out to the author that Pawnees and Shawnees are already names of existing aircraft, and they are not the aircraft that he was describing in his story. The author, responded by telling me his audience wasn’t going to know better.

To an extent, he may be right about the majority of his audience.

But think about it. How many times have you heard horse lovers rant about how horse books and horse shows get horses all wrong? Or doctors face-palming when they see doctors on TV pull out the defibrillators.

And then think about your potential audience. Do you really think that if you’re writing a book with aeroplanes in it, where the main character is a pilot, that a reader who’s a pilot isn’t going to be the number one most likely person to zero in on the aeroplane on the cover of your book and yank that puppy off the shelf? That reader is also the number one most likely person to return for more and become a devoted reader because they love the thing you’re writing about, and there aren’t that many people writing about their specific interest.

I’ve read from some successful writers, the key to making a living as a writer is to develop a dedicated following of faithful readers who will buy everything you write, not to rely on the random whims of readers browsing shelves. That if you can get a few thousand dedicated readers, your income can be stable, and your sales numbers predictable, rather than all over the place.

Do you want that reader to be the one who’s most disappointed by your lack of research The one who’s most likely to be forgiving of other flaws in your book because it contains their particular brand of crack? Do you want the reader who’s most passionate about the topic you’re writing about to be the one who throws your book against the wall because you mixed up an engine stall with an aerodynamic stall?

I’m speaking more as a reader, here, than as a writer when I say for the love of whatever god you worship, have respect for your readers and don’t assume they’re ignorant.

Book Review: Updraft by Fran Wilde

Spoiler alert: I freakin’ loved this book. Secondary world fantasy is my go-to subgenre, and anything to do with flying, even if it’s not explicitly aeroplanes will capture my interest, so I was already interested. When a friend read it and said it was amazing, I bumped it to the top of my reading list, and do not regret it.

It’s a fantastically imaginative world – there are towers that rise above the clouds that people live on, made of bone, and to move about, people fly on wings made of silk and bone. The clouds, as far as I can tell, never disperse, and no one flies below them on purpose – in fact, their methods of exacting capital punishment is to strip someone of their wings and drop them into the clouds. Their mythology is all about how they rose above the clouds and how terrible it was before that, and their religion uses the threat of stopping a tower from growing taller to keep it above the clouds to keep it’s people in line.

I’m a sucker for imaginative worlbuilding, so all of this drew me in. The main character is also dark skinned, so POC representation there. The original cover didn’t show the main character’s skin colour so much, but the newer cover that I got did, and I like that cover a lot better.

Plot wise, character wise – everything was great. I was thoroughly enthralled by the world, the characters, everything.

The other thing I wanted to mention is I have a sneaking suspicion that the author has at least some little bit of aviation experience. I can’t tell how much, and I haven’t been able to find anything in any of her bios that mentions aviation involvement. But there was little things – the sort of things that creep into my own writing because I can’t stop it, having the background in aviation that I do. The one that stands out was a mention of the rules of right-of-way being part of the flight training. But the whole idea of flight testing that comes up in the opening made me feel like even though the flight testing in the book doesn’t go the way flight testing does in aviation, the worldbuilding might have been guided or inspired by some knowledge of it.

But anyway, it was fantastic, I loved it, and you should definitely read it, and I’m really excited to start the next book.