Lady, my sweet Lady

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Lady, my sweet Lady, struck a chord it seems.

As I write, the little lady herself is stretched out under my computer station — not quite underfoot, but almost. For six days we have been learning to live together — Lady, “the Big Guy” and me.

We are learning to fetch. A streak of black, she flies over the grass in pursuit. Sometimes she catches the ball in the air! Then she takes a couple of laps around the yard, drops the ball in the grass, drops on top of it and rolls back and forth over it, wiggling, kicking, writhing in joyous abandon. Ecstasy in motion! Then, rolling onto her belly, she lies there panting, the ball between her outstretched forelegs.

I approach, treat in hand. She eyes me warily. Will she take the treat and let me have the ball for yet another toss? Or will she snatch it away just as I reach for it, pivot and race away, tail flying? We’ve had it both ways. Lots of treats have been her reward for giving it up to pursue anew. My reward over six days, a sore shoulder — all in a good cause. She now knows that if she gives up the ball she will reap double rewards — a treat AND another romp after the ball.

Walking is still a contest of wills. “We” are in training. I keep her on a close lead. She persists in pulling a half step further ahead than I want her to. When she finely lets the lead relax and walks as I am willing her to, I praise her. She is “getting it” but then she forgets and lapses back into that slight but persistent pull.

But I shall persevere.

Blessedly, she is crate trained and goes willingly to bed at the end of the day. She’s loveable. She’s smart. She is truly a joy! She is a one-year-old black Lab. And she is a rescue.

Taking Flight

Keeping two WASP — MARTY WYALL (44-10) and NADINE NAGLE (44-9) — busy the last week of April was a pure pleasure.

I was asked to give two WASP talks in the Dayton (Ohio) area. I always invite Nadine, who lives one suburb north of me, to come along, but this time asking Marty to drive down from Indiana to join us seemed most appropriate.

Why?

On Wednesday April 25, I spoke to the juniors and seniors at Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, north of Dayton. The school sits a half-mile east of Interstate 75, making the trip down an easy one for Marty. Nadine and I had been asking her to come for a visit. Nadine offered her guest room. Marty accepted.

It doesn’t get much better than having two WASP as show and tell for high school students. Nadine and Marty stole the show, answering questions about how they made the sized-for-men Army coveralls — called Zoot Suits by the WASP — fit their smaller frames. Seems I recall a question about dating in the old days as well. And I’m the one employing the term “old days,” not the kids and not the WASP.

Then as an added bonus, that upcoming weekend the North Central Section of the Ninety-Nines (licensed women pilots) was holding its fall meeting in Dayton. I had been invited to be their Saturday luncheon speaker. Marty and I both are members of North Central Section — she with Three Rivers chapter (northern Indiana) and I, All-Ohio. I sought Nadine and Marty’s participation to enrich the program and they agreed. So we did a repeat performance and once again I had my show and tell ready and waiting.

Needless to say, the Ninety-Nines LOVED “the girls.”

Many many thanks to the Upper Valley Career Center and the Ninety-Nines for the invitations to present “So Who Are the WASP Anyway?” at two fantastic venues. And many thanks to Marty and Nadine for taking part!

Lady, my sweet Lady

Day One: Lady

April 2011, I wrote the following in my monthly online newsletter, Taking Flight.

My dog Willa is a “Rescue.” And though she’s lived a life I know nothing of — fear and deprivation, running wild — we are kindred souls. We both need a safe place when storms rage, but relish our freedom to explore.

I see my soul reflected in her brown eyes. Does she see hers reflected in my blue ones?

She backs away from strangers. I affect an open, gregarious persona though, like Willa, I would rather retreat to my safe shell.

When I met her five years ago, the people at Greater Dayton Lab Rescue said she “chose” me. She leaned in my direction, as if asking me to look her way. I did. I was hooked!

I was her savior.  I took her away from the source of her physical fears. But I can’t erase the psychological cause of her scars. I can only give her love.

We have reversed roles. Now she is my savior. From her I get unconditional love. I feed her body. She feeds my soul.

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Today is May 6, 2012. A month ago, April 6, we put our beloved “mostly” Lab Willa down. An incurable tumor of the liver ate away at her body and sapped her energy, though we treated her for it. Finally that and the Lab curse, hip dysplasia, overcame her. It was time to let her go. The hardest thing I ever had to do.

I managed a month, crying every time I went walking without her. With niggling fear and tentative anticipation, once again I looked at the online list of Lab rescues with Greater Dayton Lab Rescue. There I found one-year-old black Lab Sara. She looked and sounded perfect — given that we’d have to change my name or hers. She got the nod.

We met today. I call her Lady. I have her for a one-week trial. We have spent the evening bonding. She lay at my feet while I sat here at the computer and looked at email, finding it hard to concentrate because she was so sweet and quiet I kept having to look at her. I’m in love again.

On our first walk this evening she began to meet the neighborhood who knew Willa. They welcomed her with love and affection and comments as to how pretty she is.

She is now nestled in her cage. I spoke the word “kennel” and miraculously, she went in and lay down. I almost cried.

Day one with Lady is almost over. I’ll post again as we learn to walk, live and love together. Oh yes, my husband — known to Willa and now Lady as “The Big Guy” — too is in love!

Taking Flight

champ_picture_4November 13, 2009 — Friday the 13th — was not the day it all began, but it was the day I soloed.

Solo. A simple four-letter word. A four-letter word of such magnitude — and so long coming. A lotta takeoffs, a lotta landings, and a whole bunch of stalls for good measure. The ones I performed in the air AND the ones I encountered on the ground when life got in the way of my pursuit of my Sport Pilot license.

Truth: it all began when, at age 13, I read about Amelia Earhart — the world famous lost aviatrix. But the desire to fly, to follow Amelia into the wild blue but NOT into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, got put on hold for many years while life occurred.

The spark was lit again when I met my first WASP, and then another and yet another, and then many. The Women Airforce Service Pilots, the women who flew for the US Army in World War II. It is because of them, because of their profound influence on me over the last 22 years, that I took flight and stayed with it. I earned my license on July 1, 2011. My biggest cheerleaders were my 90-year-old WASP friends who had done the same so very many years ago.

40495_144115335618321_144096568953531_312944_6882691_nI know the WASP. I am friends with many WASP. I travel with the WASP to aviation events. I am, to some degree, a combined escort and mascot. I write about them. I edit their newsletter. I do oral history interviews with them. I have written numerous magazine articles about them. I have written seven books about them — four of them published to date.

So, being a modern woman, I am going to try blogging about the WASP in an attempt to better acquaint a still non-believing / unbelieving world about what these women really did way back in 1942-44. Their story is a remarkable as well as many-faceted one. Stay tuned.First post