Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moving into the new year

2009 has been the year of the's challenged me to retain a positive outlook even when things weren't so positive. Somehow I've survived the stress and look forward to a better 2010. I'm thankful for all I have and all the good things in my life, but it has definitely been a tough one, that 2009. I'm not one to complain about much usually, I really believe that you create your own reality by either believing in yourself and keeping positive (or, not)...but so many things made 2009 a year that I'm glad I don't have to repeat that I'm especially happy about the soon to emerge 2010. I'm hoping that it will be a new and better year than the outgoing one.

In 2009 health was a bit challenging, twice in the spring I was down with a nasty version of the flu within 6 weeks, and numerous times this year I was in bed with the debilitating recurring (and without warning) vertigo that I've been dealing with for a couple of years now, and that no medications seem to help. Thank goodness there was time off without pay available from work, or I'd be facing even more challenging issues with my company. I kept having digestive issues as well and had a heck of a challenge with my weight because I never felt "right" in my gut and didn't know what to eat, or what not to. After an attack of what I thought was IBS a week before, I had a horrible attack of what turned out to be Gall Stones the first part of July that necessitated surgery to remove the Gall Bladder. Again, I was out of work for several weeks to get better, but I'm thankful that it's out because my abdominal pain is significantly better than before.

I'm thankful for my job, and though it can be stressful it's still a job that I enjoy. I found in 2009 that I can't fly as much as I'd like to be able to in order to make enough money because of my ears/vertigo issues are aggrevated by the pressure changes...but I still am happy to be working and to be doing what I want to do. My own business didn't do so well in 2009 due to the economy and if I didn't have my "real" job to fall back on, I would have less positive things to say in this paragraph. The economy has challenged many businesses, and though I'm very happy to have survived 2009 in a small business situation where many others have not, it's been very tough, very challenging, and I had many sleepless nights worrying about the debt load and many other awake nights cursing the banking industry. And then more financial challenge was piled on...but that story is for hubby's blog and not for mine. It's become a time to combine our efforts to make it through the bills each month, but we're surviving and will continue to do so...that's the positivity talking.

I am thankful for my dear husband's support when I was both sick and well, his listening to me whining and trying to help, and his understanding when I needed him to be there for me, and his "getting it" when I wanted to sit and knit after a particularly stressful or tiring day. He's my best friend and my support network and he is even a helpmate when I'm looking for a new project to work on, he's learned all about my hobbies and is so incredible, I'm truly blessed to have him in my life. I'm also thankful for sewing and knitting because without it I'm not sure I'd have had the stress relief that I needed in order to get through 2009. I made quite a number of pairs of socks and a couple of Civil War dresses but it's only a fraction of the projects I would like to do, time is always the issue. I always have a knitting project in my purse or in the car... There is a tee shirt available at Cafe Press that says "I knit so I don't kill people" and I understand...I wouldn't hurt anyone, but I knit so that I can get past the stressors in life.

There were many other positives in this challenging year. We welcomed a new Grandson, Collin, into the family this year, and we celebrated the first Grandson, Aidan's second birthday here with us in Maryland in November, and we are very thankful for our Hawaiian extended family. We were able to visit Jenn and Michael and the kids in August...another thing to be thankful for is the flight benefits that I have...even though we got bumped and couldn't get home for an extra day or two. We're thankful that we added to the family and didn't lose anyone in the big extended family that we're part of, and in fact, we're looking forward to expanding our family as our son in Japan gets married in April, and our son that lives in North Carolina is back in touch as well. We are very thankful for all of our family.

We also welcomed a new family member into our home in September, our newest furry purry angel, Sammy. He is now a big part of our family. We also are thankful that all of our furry angels are healthy, even the tiny cat we rescued out of the cold and snow last December. She was covered by fleas, ticks, and starving to death, with only a couple of teeth she couldn't find enough to eat out in the woods where she was abandoned. She is now healthy and doing fine.

We enjoyed the Conference in March and got to see old friends and make new ones, we both reconnected with people that we hadn't had contact with for years on Facebook. We got to see some new National Parks in April on our short vacation and had Jenn and Aidan come visit when we got home. During 2009 we spent time with treasured friends during the year, we became closer to some friends and unfortunately some others became busy with other things and we seemed to not be as close to them. We began to volunteer at a National Park and it feels so good to help out and to get the opportunity to see and study and experience things in an area in which we have great interest. We are thankful for those opportunities in 2009 that we will continue on into 2010.

2009 is nearly done. Thank goodness. Bring on 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Some background on our holiday celebrations

I've been long interested in the historical beginnings and backgrounds of holidays, and Christmas is one of those that was adopted from earlier traditions. Here's an interesting article that explains just some of the earlier traditions that we base today's celebrations upon. The italicised comments are my own.

From the Article: Winter Solstice: The Unconquered Sun

At the Winter Solstice, we celebrate Children's Day to honour our children and to bring warmth, light and cheerfulness into the dark time of the year. Holidays such as this have their origin as "holy days". They are the way human beings mark the sacred times in the yearly cycle of life. (Many Church holidays were adopted from earlier holy days because it was easier to change the practices of the people than to eradicate them totally).

In the northern latitudes, midwinter's day has been an important time for celebration throughout the ages. On this shortest day of the year, the sun is at its lowest and weakest, a pivot point from which the light will grow stronger and brighter. This is the turning point of the year. The romans called it Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.

The Roman midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, was both a gigantic fair and a festival of the home. Riotous merry-making took place, and the halls of houses were decked with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees. Lamps were kept burning to ward off the spirits of darkness. Schools were closed, the army rested, and no criminals were executed. Friends visited one another, bringing good-luck gifts of fruit, cakes, candles, dolls, jewellery, and incense. Temples were decorated with evergreens symbolizing life's continuity, and processions of people with masked or blackened faces and fantastic hats danced through the streets.

The custom of mummers visiting their neighbours in costume, which is still alive in Newfoundland, is descended from these masked processions.

Roman masters feasted with slaves, who were given the freedom to do and say what they liked (the medieval custom of all the inhabitants of the manor, including servants and lords alike, sitting down together for a great Christmas feast, came from this tradition). A Mock King was appointed to take charge of the revels (the Lord of Misrule of medieval Christmas festivities had his origin here). (The iconic Father Christmas is most likely descended from this tradition).

In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the yule (or juul). Great yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends. It was believed that the yule log had the magical effect of helping the sun to shine more brightly.
Mistletoe, which was sacred because it mysteriously grew on the most sacred tree, the oak, was ceremoniously cut and a spray given to each family, to be hung in the doorways as good luck. The celtic Druids also regarded mistletoe as sacred. Druid priests cut it from the tree on which it grew with a golden sickle and handed it to the people, calling it All-Heal. To hang it over a doorway or in a room was to offer goodwill to visitors. Kissing under the mistletoe was a pledge of friendship. Mistletoe is still forbidden in most Christian churches because of its Pagan associations, but it has continued to have a special place in home celebrations.

In the third century various dates, from December to April, were celebrated by Christians as Christmas. January 6 was the most favoured day because it was thought to be Jesus' baptismal day (in the Greek Orthodox Church this continues to be the day to celebrate Christmas). Around 350, (kind of fascinating that Christmas was adopted so long after his death. Historical information says that the census was in APRIL and that the birth of Jesus was not in December at all). December 25 was adopted in Rome and gradually almost the entire Christian Church agreed to that date, which coincided with Winter Solstice, the Yule and the Saturnalia. The merry side of Saturnalia was adopted to the observance of Christmas. By 1100 Christmas was the peak celebration of the year for all of Europe. During the 16th century, under the influence of the Reformation, many of the old customs were suppressed and the Church forbade processions, colourful ceremonies, and plays.

In 1647 in England, Parliament passed a law abolishing Christmas altogether. When Charles II came to the throne, many of the customs were revived, but the feasting and merrymaking were now more worldly than religious.

Here in Nova Scotia outdoor coloured lights play an important part in the local celebration of the mid-winter season. With the day turning to darkness so early in the North, it is cheering to look out into the cold and dark at lights sparkling and glittering in the crisp air.

Our celebration of Children's Day is inspired not only by the pagan celebrations of mid-winter but arises also out of the Japanese holidays of Boy's Day and Doll's Day, which are two separate days in the spring, when boys and girls of a certain age are presented to the temple and honoured with special gifts. The Shambhala Children's Shrine is modeled after the display of ancestral dolls traditional in homes on Doll's Day.

Our sangha is our village, our clan, our family. Our children belong to all of us, and are bright reminders of the future of Buddhism. We celebrate them and the Great Eastern Sun together at the darkest time of the year, with open-hearth parties and cheerful festivities.

The Unconquered Sun first appeared as an article by Janet Shotwell in The Karma Dzong Banner (Vol III, No 11, December 1991, Halifax, Nova Scotia).

(I wonder if the militant Christians that want to abolish the practice of saying "Happy Holidays" realize that their own holiday is a variation and product of other Holidays itself? I hope that people of all faiths will educate themselves on the basis for their own holidays in history, and will learn tolerance and respect for everyone's traditions. I will continue to say "Happy Holidays" with respect and appreciation for all beliefs and customs that celebrate their own holiday or variant at this time of year. Happy Holidays to everyone!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enjoying a snow day

Poor weather rarely works in my favor. Usually it just means that I have to get up really early to dig out and drive at a snails pace to the airport even if the flight has no prayer of getting out...they won't cancel until they try to get a window in which to take off and then the cancel. By then it's difficult to make it back home. But last night, the schedulers got smart and decided to cancel the last 2 arrivals into most east coast airport to prevent planes from being stuck in the predicted big storm. My flight was supposed to be this morning at 6 so the crew desk called me to say it had been cancelled so I could stay home. Woohoo!
It started snowing late last night, and this is how it looked this morning after the guys had been out shoveling for awhile, 4 or 5 inches on the ground I think.

The roads were slick but passable and it was indeed beautiful especially because I didn't have to go out in it. It has continued to snow all day, sometimes incredibly heavy with beautiful big puffy flakes. At one point I took our Tabby, Belle out on her harness on the deck because she really wanted to get into it, it took her about 2 minutes to decide that she would rather be indoors in the warm house.

At about 3:30pm I took a yardstick outside and measured the snow on a bench on our back deck. It came up to 13 1/2 inches, though I think it possible that some snow has dropped off the sides of the bench and it might be slightly deeper on the ground.

This picture was of the same area at 3:30pm...notice how much more snow was on the ground then than this morning. It's snowing pretty heavily so we'll see how much we end up with. By the way, the airport is closed now, and I hear that an airplane ran off the runway trying to take off earlier today. I'm very glad that my airline decided to cancel the flights rather than to try to fly in the poor weather conditions. Now to see what happens with the snow continuing...I'm eligible for reassignment tomorrow but I doubt I could get there with the roads so bad.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Woo hoo, more FO's!

I've been in my favorite knitting spot on the sofa quite a bit since we came home from Thanksgiving. I love sitting there with the cat children and being cozy, knitting, watching TV, and spending time with my dear hubby. Here I'm just starting the second mitten to my cat mitten pair with the help of Gracie, the only one of the kids that wasn't asleep at the time.
And here they are, newly finished and modeled by Rosie and Sammy. I absolutely loved working on these fun patterns by Jorid Linvik! If you're interested they are available on the web or via Ravalry. I did them in Worsted Weight Lamb's Pride Superwash, though I probably will do any future pairs in Sport weight. I did them on 5US circulars.

I absolutely love the paw prints and the fish bones on the palm sides of the mittens. :) 2 color (Fair Isle) knitting is so easy and so fun and interesting, and now I even have a great pair of mittens that are perfectly suited to wear with my uniform coat!

I finished these socks last week too, these are the September 2008 Socks That Rock project. The pattern is called Cloning Anenome Rib and the color way is Tide Pooling. They were fun and easy and I absolutely love the colors! Now I'm off to work on other unfinished projects in my project basket. Knit on!

1st Md Cav Officer Frock Coat

This dress uniform frock coat is attributed to have belonged to Lt. Bonn of the 1st Maryland Cavalry, CSA and has recently been acquired by the Museum Collection at Gettysburg NMP. The collection has very few Confederate Cavalry items so this is a very nice addition. The frock coat has not yet gone on exhibit, and the white of the storage box has brightened some of the pictures here, I do apologize. The coat is double breasted with 7 evenly spaced Maryland Buttons on the front on each lapel. Faintly yellow piping in the sleeve trim, the neckline, and the opening overlap shows in these pictures.

The reason these pictures are on my blog for your study is that this coat belonged to a member of the historical unit which we represent when we reenact, thus the interest on my part, besides my general interest in history, the Civil War, textiles, construction of period garments, and material culture.
I have enhanced the photographs of the jacket for clarity and lighting so the colors aren't coming out consistant, it's just due to making it lighter or darker to show detail. The cloth is the "Maryland Blue" Kersey Cloth, or British Army Cloth...thin and very well made. I've noticed that most of the "reenacting" uniforms have much heavier cloth than in the originals, both Confederate and Union. Notice also that the sleeve and rank trim is very subdued, almost to the point of being purposely darkened, though I have no information on whether or not that has indeed been done. The yellow piping might either have been light colored by design, or faded over the years. I haven't done any research yet on the properties of the yellow dyes used for wool in that era.
This is a close up of the lining of the coat, it's silk, and you can see from these shots that it has seen some wear, it is not attached on the bottom, the wool and the silk have been hemmed separately as was done in garments of the era.
This is another close up of the lining showing the cloth without the shine of reflected flash.
This is a close up of the sleeve braid. It's a single thickness of soutache braid and has been sewn on the outside of the sleeve before the jacket was put together.
The coat has Maryland buttons on the body of the coat and they have been darkened with either lacquer or some such substance. I haven't done any research to see why the buttons have been darkened, one volunteer told the curator that there was a practice popular at the time called "Japaning" which was to cover the buttons or item with a clear to lightish brown lacquer much like the lacquered bento boxes in Japaneese restaraunts have. So far we can't find any mention of this practice in the books we have on hand. This shot of the coat shows the inside buttons.
The sleeve buttons are small Federal buttons, 3 to a sleeve. They, too, have been darkened.
Notice the silk lining has worn from use in the neckline. His collar rank designation is evident here as well as an added loop for hanging the jacket.

This incredible artifact is going to be on display in the Gallery in Gettysburg at the Visitor's center after conservation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

You know you're a knitter when...

*You ask strangers to feel their sweaters, or get uncomfortably close to them to see the stitch pattern.
*You can’t do ANY work on the computer until you’ve read the Yarn Harolet Blog, and the knitting pattern of the day and checked to see if there's anything new on Ravelry.
*You don’t go ANYWHERE without your knitting bag, even if it’s the grocery store.(even though you ALWAYS have a sock you're working tucked away in your purse just in case you have to wait somewhere).
*You literally dream about knitting.
*You can somehow manage to include the words, “yarn,” “needles,” or “knitting” into EVERY conversation.
*The family no longer freaks out when you bring your knitting out in public because their just so used to it that it’s not strange any more.
*The husband asks if you want to visit yarn stores that you're near when you're traveling, knowing that you probably had it on your mind anyway.
*The people I get email from with have learned to put “knitting” in the topic box of an e-mail so that I’ll open it up ASAP!

Home again

I really enjoy long drives when my hubby is driving, and truly look forward to driving vacations with him. I tend to get a lot of knitting done and it's fun listening to the radio, singing along, talking to my honey, and knitting at the same time. It would take a month of knitting at home to get all the things worked on that I do in one trip, and it certainly makes the time go by a lot faster. This is a shot pretty near the beginning of the trip home of the projects on the needles. The rest of the pictures I took after returning home.
This sock is the 2008 September Socks that Rock club entry, Cloning Anenome Rib. I finished it Friday at Nanny's. I actually cast on and did about 2 inches of the cuff of the second sock while in the car on the way back. I absolutely love these colors. It's an easy cable pattern every 4 rows on the leg, and easily memorized, I don't even have to look at the pattern anymore.
This one is the 2009 September kit entry, Knetted. I finished this one in the car yesterday, cast on the second sock, and got the ribbing portion at the top of the cuff finished. Establishing the pattern after that involves a lot of counting and looking down at the pattern and I do get a bit queasy in the car if I look down at a pattern too much. I decided to wait and leave this one for home. The colors on this one are so beautiful and subdued, perfect for the autumn and winter. This one is an ankle length slouchy cuffed sock, and I didn't think I was going to like it at first when the kit came, but it seems to be growing on me.
This is the Cat mitten that I bought at the yarn shop in Davenport along with this yarn. I finished it down to the weaving of the top which I was able to do in the car. The thumb needs to be done but that is another project for home, as it'll involve looking at the pattern too much for me to do in the car without getting queasy. We went back to the yarn shop on Friday where I got green yarns for the fisherman's friend mittens which are by the same designer. I normally don't use anything as heavy as this Worsted weight yarn but it's working out quite nicely in this project. It's making a very warm and soft mitten. I also got some Helen's lace yarn for a shawl that's in my Ravelry Queue and a beautiful hand painted sport weight for one of the cowls I've been wanting to make. It was a very fibery trip as well as being wonderful to see family and of course, the fantastic Thanksgiving feast!

Turkey Day Fun

Everyone in the family that had to (and was able to) come got to Nanny's and Poppa's on Wednesday. Thursday was a group effort at making everything come together for the delicious Thanksgiving Turkey feast. Here are some random shots from around the "Flock".
Poppa was talking on the phone to one of the family that couldn't make it (Jenn), there were several that were unable to be at this annual reunion, they were definitely missed. Thankfully the absences were all temporary and we all hope to see the missing family next year. We even had an unexpected phone call from one of the family that had been missing the last two years...a very nice gift on Thanksgiving.

The "kids" are all grown up now!

On Wednesday Mark had taken me over to a small local yarn shop. I'd picked up this mitten pattern as well as the yarn to make it with, and as if I didn't have enough projects going already, I found the time to sit and knit when we were all talking and socializing or watching TV. I had never worked on anything with 2 circular needles, one of the ladies at the shop had given me a lesson on how to do it, it's actually quite easy. I also love to do Fair Isle knitting (2 color) so this is a perfect project for me.This is the start of the mitten on Thanksgiving morning. I did get a bit more done that evening after the older "kids" (actually young adults) went to a local Casino with Mark as the Designated Driver.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Over the river and through the woods Grandmother's (and Grandfather's) house we go. Belle and Rose were none too happy about the prospect of us being gone, even though they thoroughly love the cat/house sitter. They reminded us that we should bring home some of Nanny's famous turkey from the Thanksgiving feast. I look forward to the knitting time in the car on the way to the annual family reunion and this year was no different.

Being the incredibly knitting and fiber tolerant (even enabling) husband that he is, Mark rented a car that had a built in yarn ball holder. How perfect is that!? I made quite a comfortable "nest" in the front seat and knitted my heart out until darkness fell, and even knitted a little bit by the light in the car. Perfect!

After working on the two sock projects I brought (with some other things to knit, too, in case my attention span warrented a change of projects) for about 4 or so hours, this is how they looked right about Pittsburgh. The left one is the 2008 Socks That Rock September kit, and the right is the 2009 September kit. I'm switching off trying to get both pairs finished before I get home. Yeah Right. These are both the first of the pairs.

And this is how they looked when we got to Nanny and Poppa's house. Much closer to being finished but not quite to the point of making my toe decreases. That's ok...we're going to go do some errands this morning which means more time in the car to work. I'll get the advil ready, I knitted so long yesterday that my fingers are speaking in tongues.
Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving full of food, fun, and family. :)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Project update

After 3 weeks of pretty dedicated knitting, I finished the scarf made from Mrs. Montague's lace pattern designed for Queen Elizabeth I. Knit picks markets this pattern as part of the 3 pattern set called "Elizabeth I", this one is called "Dainty Bess". I blocked the scarf before bed last night and it was ready to unpin this evening. I used Cream colored Gems Fingering weight Superwash Merino yarn from It was an easy pattern with a great yarn to work with, soft natural wool fiber, and even machine washable and dryable since I'm planning on using this scarf frequently. This scarf was motivated by Franklin Habit's lace knitting class that I attended, see the earlier blog post.

This is a picture of a few sections of the Shetland Style rectangular shawl I am spinning the yarn from the dyed fiber I bought at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival we went to a little over a week ago. The pattern is from the book: Victorian Lace Today, it's "Miss Lambert's Shetland pattern for a shawl" and is an 8 row repeat, every other row is purling so it's simple. It's difficult to visualize before blocking but I'm loving it so far. I've spun another bobbin of singles for the next skein of yarn for the project, I'm working on the next bobbin for the 2 ply yarn now. It'll probably take another small skein as well, so I'm continuing to spin. Spinning has gotten me enthusiastic about doing even more spinning and working through a little bit of my fiber stash.

I also got out all my wheels and cleaned and oiled the wood on them and checked to make sure they were all in good working order. I will try to get some more spinning done between finishing up some unfinished knitting projects that I'd like to have in the "finished" column prior to the end of the year.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The end of an era, last flight the last United 737

The last of the fleet of United Airlines 737's flew it's last flight on October 28th. I always considered myself a "Guppy Girl" and I loved the 737 airplanes. They were cozy and comfortable and it was a more intimate group of passengers, not like having 200 passengers with 4 flight attendants today on the 757...the 737 had 120 with 3 flight attendants, sometimes 4.
It's the end of an era, that's for sure. Here are some vintage photographs as well as some modern ones, and some Boeing 737 Facts:

■ The entire 737 family is the best-selling commercial jet in
history, with orders of more than 6,000 aircraft over the years.
■ The Guinness Book of World Records acknowledged the
737 as the most-produced large commercial jet airplane in
aviation history.
**The first picture here is of the final day in the life of flight 737 which started early in the morning at Dulles International Airport (IAD).
■ More than 541 operators fly 737s to more than 1,200 cities in
190 countries.
■ With more than 4,100 airplanes in service, the 737 represents
more than a quarter of the total worldwide fleet of large
commercial jets flying today.

■ ** Flight 737 on the ramp in Chicago after flying from Dulles. It was then bound for Denver...then San Francisco and then Los Angeles...on it's way to the aircraft graveyard in Victorville, California.
-On average, approximately 1,250 737s are in the air at all times;
one takes off or lands every 4.6 seconds.
■ The 737 fleet has carried more than 12 billion passengers.
■ Since its commercial revenue service history began in 1968,
the 737 fleet has flown more than 75 billion miles – equivalent
to approximately 403 roundtrips from the Earth to the Sun.
**When I began to fly for United, this was the paint job they had...I will always hold this paint as my favorite although I also really like the newest blue paint job.
■ Once the 737-200 was in service, that model quickly proved
to be the overwhelming favorite of the flying public, and the
737-100 was discontinued after production of 30 airplanes.
■ About 50 gallons of paint are used to paint an average 737.
Once the paint is dry, it weighs approximately 250 pounds.
The Boeing 737 as Part of United’s History
*** The paint job was from the 70's and early 80's.
■ It is estimated that the 737-300 and 737-500 for United flew
a combined 6.3 million flights and carried a total of more than
418 million passengers. Altogether, the 737s carried a total of
more than 700 million passengers for United.
■ The 737 is nicknamed by many United pilots the “guppy”.
Accounts of the origin vary, but most agree that it was due
to the squat appearance of the plane compared with its
contemporaries. Originally conceived as a five-across
Economy cabin similar to the DC-9, Boeing widened the
fuselage to make room for six-across in economy but
left the length and wingspan the same, giving it a slightly
pudgy look.
***Earliest paint job after delivery
■ United introduced its first B737-222 into revenue service
on April 28, 1968, adding the B737-300s in 1986 and the
B737-500s in 1990. The 737 fleet totaled more than 220
aircraft at one point.

First United B737 Flight vs. Last United B737 Flight
First Flight Last Flight
April 28, 1968 *October 28, 2009
Model Number 737-200* 737-300
Span 93 feet* 94 feet 9 inches
Length 93 feet 9 inches *109 feet 7 inches
Gross Weight 111,000 pounds *130,000 pounds
Cruising Speed 580 mph *500 mph
Range 1,150 miles *1,820 miles
Ceiling 35,000 feet *37,000 feet
Power Two 14,000-pound-thrust* Two 20,000-pound-thrust
P&W JT8D-7 engines *CFM 56-3 engines
Accommodation 6 crew (3 pilots, 3 flight 6 crew (2 pilots, 4 flight
attendants) and up to attendants) and up to
107 customers 120 customers

United Airlines Flight 737 Facts
■ United received delivery of this aircraft on August 11, 1988, and as of October 28, 2009,
it has flown approximately 60,846 hours and performed 33,836 flights.
■ Of the 33,836 flights, 52% (17,595) occurred at United’s hubs at Chicago O’Hare, Denver,
San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington Dulles):

■ Approximately 3,034,783 customers have flown with us on this aircraft – an average of 394
people per day.
■ It has used approximately 54,488,955 gallons of fuel.
■ This aircraft has had three different paint schemes over the years and three different
seating configurations:

8 United First® seats/120 United Economy® seats
- 8 United First® seats/126 United Economy® seats
- 8 United First® seats/46 Economy Plus® seats/112 United Economy® seats

A Genteel Era of Flying: Reminiscing With Sara Dornacker, Flight Attendant on First B737
Departure From DCAMemories of a First Flight

I was a “stewardess” – as we were called then -- on June 6, 1968, which was the first day that the B737 launched out of Washington National Airport. I remember it vividly, as the date coincided with the introduction of the first Jean Louis designed uniform -- the "mod" style with the kepi hat and short mini-dress.
It was extremely exciting to step on board a brand new jet. I had been on the line for nine monthsI was trained on DC-6s, DC-8s, 727s, Viscounts, and the Caravelle, which was French-made, very comfortable and fast.

The 737 was brand new, and the launch customer was United. Boeing took a lot of pains to ensure passengers had a comfortable experience. I liked it because it had a small first class cabin; the airplane was very comfortable.
It was different from previous aircraft, where the galleys were side-facing in the back of the airplane. And the 737 innovated brewed coffee! On the prop planes at the time, the DC-6s and Viscount, they boarded containers of hot coffee and iced water.

The galley was a real innovation, with one in front and one in back. One of the things to watch out for was on takeoff, we had to make sure the restraining bar on the carrier was in the full up position, or the carrier would slide out. It happened to me on my first flight -- a rack of coffee cups fell out and crashed into the galley on takeoff. It was one of those first flight gaffes you always remember. I never forgot to fasten that restraining bar again!

One of the things that made the 737 superior to previous aircraft was that it had air vents over each passenger service unit, so you could direct the flow of cold, air conditioned air toward yourself or away.
The Heyday of Business Travel
1968 was a time of great prosperity. Business was thriving, and customers were very eager to talk business -- whether they were making Johnson's wax, or auto parts in Youngstown, Ohio, they were mostly sales people flying to sell their products and were really enthusiastic about flying and doing business. They loved United, because we catered to that kind of customer.
My routes were from DCA to Atlanta, Asheville, Huntsville. The aerospace industry was developing, and Huntsville was big for military and defense contractors. I also flew to Ft. Wayne, Rochester, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Lincoln. In those smaller, regional airports, people still came out to the airports to look at the new jet. They used to have observations decks in small airports, where people could watch takeoffs and landings. In Lincoln and Ft. Wayne, people would line up just to watch the airplane land.
Luminaries on Board
Roger Mudd, senior CBS news correspondent, was on the first flight, sitting in the last row of first class. On other 737 flights, there were several repeat customers I enjoyed visiting with. Shirley Povich, father of Maury, who for decades was the sports editor of the Washington Post, was a passenger on one of the flights and invited me to visit his offices at the Washington Post to sign my copy of his book. He even showed me around the newsroom. A couple times we flew Ben Bradlee, and once he sat across the aisle from Frank Mankiewicz, movie producer, coming back from a social function in New York. I was dying to eavesdrop! I've been a political junkie from an early age. We also flew George Foreman and Red Skelton.
Raining in the Galley
The company and Boeing were so responsive to flight attendant feedback about the aircraft. The first winter was brutal, because with galley servicing trucks pulling up to door 1R at the front and an open door on 1L, the winter breezes came through when they put the galley units on board. It was chilly and rained inside the galley, near the entryway to the main cabin door. So they quickly realized that this was a serious safety hazard and bought rubber mats for the floor of the aircraft to prevent people from slipping. We were allowed to wear our coats during galley loading, because it was chilly. The company was really eager for our feedback on how the new aircraft was going over and how the service was being received.
More Innovations
The 737 was the first aircraft with window shades that moved up and down. The DC-6s had cloth curtains, and since the flight attendants didn't have separate serving garments, we put wraps over our uniforms that were striped in the same fabric and stripe as the window curtains. It was very stylish in the 50s for a housewife to wear an apron matching the curtains in her kitchen.
Tray tables were introduced with the 737, which was a great advance. They were built into the seat backs for all but the front two rows, where we had to plug in the tray tables. It was a much greater improvement over the old DC-6s that didn't have any tray tables. We had to distribute pillows to customers to balance the food trays.
A Bittersweet Goodbye
I am sad to see the B737 go. It represents a year that was very important in my life. That was the first year I voted. I was active in the campaign. In fact, I met President Johnson and Hubert H. Humphrey that year. I worked with Humphrey's campaign in the final weeks of October and flew on a United 727 charter with him. I was thrilled to be asked, being that my parents lived in Minnesota. The last time I had a conversation with Humphrey, before he died, it was on a 737. Like a good politician, he claimed to remember me from the charters! And I have the pictures to prove it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Ten NWA Pilot Excuses

Top Ten Northwest Airlines Pilot Excuses

10. "Bunch of fat guys seated on right side of plane made us vector east"
9. "We get paid by the hour"
8. "MapQuest always takes you the long way,
7. "Tired of that show-off Sullenberger getting all the attention"
6. "You try steering one of those airplanes after eight or nine cocktails"
5. "Wanted to catch end of in-flight movie"
4. "Activating autopilot and making occasional P.A. announcements is exhausting"
3. "According to our map, we only missed target by half-an-inch"
2. "For a change, decided to send luggage to the right city and lose the passengers"
1. "Thought we saw Balloon Boy"

Couldn't resist passing this along. :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Just like riding a bike!

I haven't spun any yarn in so long, I wondered if I had forgotten how. I guess it's like riding a bike, once I started again, it came back to me immediately and began to feel natural again. The fiber I bought at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival just spoke to me and I was glad to get started spinning it up. The reds are actually darker and more red/less pink than in the picture here. I bought a pound of this roving, it's Merino Wool, Alpaca, and Mohair (from the Angora goat-it's what makes the yarn have a hairy halo about it). It's so very soft and I just had to have some when I saw it. I used to do a lot of hand dyed rovings, both space dyed and processed like this one that has been extruded from the carding machine in stripes. I don't want to have to dye and deal with a lot of fleeces to get a nice colorway so I was glad to have found it. I was even more happy with the results once I began to spin it.

If you're not a spinner and you're wondering why I'd go to the trouble of spinning my own yarn, I'll try to's because it feels so good, it's therapeutic, it's creative, and it's a way to really get exactly what you want for your project. It's also nice to know that nobody anywhere will have the same project in the same yarn as you will. A good quality yarn for the project I'm spinning for would cost me far more than the unspun fiber I've purchased for this project. Spinning is also very relaxing and rhythmic...and I do it in front of the TV in the living room so I get to spend time with the family and watch the shows I enjoy, but I get the added plus of yarn for knitting that I've completed while most people just watch TV. There is a tee shirt out (on cafe press) that says "I knit so I don't kill people" and spinning is just as therapeutic as knitting...the creative outlet is a very important aspect of good mental health for me. :)

I am also a great believer in the value of my time and effort. If I spend the time working on a project, I'm not going to use crappy yarn on it, my time is more important to me than that. I use "good" yarn on all my knitting, I use only natural fibers because I want my projects to be beautiful and to last forever, to be passed on and to be enjoyed by someone else after I've checked out. I do use a lot of commercial yarns, but again, only natural fibers. With hand spun yarns, I love the way the slight irregularities of hand spun yarn add interest, character, and beauty to a finished project.

This is a bobbin of singles or a single ply spun from the roving on my Ashland Joy spinning wheel against the backdrop of the ball of fiber. As you can see, the reds are much subdued after spinning, and the yarn is beginning to have a lot of interest and color contrasts in it, exactly what I'd hoped for. I've never spun this light weight of a yarn before, and it's actually much easier for me than trying to spin sport or worsted weight. I'm hoping for a fingering to lace weight once I've added the second ply to the first.
I made the second bobbin of singles today, and I was so excited to ply them together and see what the finished yarn will look like. This is the bobbin of two plied yarn on my Louet S-75 which is my workhorse for plying. It has more uptake so while I decided to use another wheel for the singles which I wanted to keep very thin, I always go back to my favorite S-75 for ease in spinning and I love the monster 4 ounce bobbins. I also have a skein winder mounted on this wheel so I made a skein of the yarn so I can set the spin on it before I use it.

This is the skeined yarn that I will be using for my project. It turned out to be 16-17 wpi and this skein weighs 3.7 ounces and contains about 309.17 yards, less than half of what I'll need to complete the project I'm going to use the yarn for. It's a little thicker than the lace weight called for in the pattern by diameter but not by weight, so I'm guessing I got the calculations wrong on the number of yards I made. I will need another skein and perhaps more, but I do have enough to get started on the project (after I finish some of the "on the needles" projects I'm in the middle of).

The project this is being spun for is this rectangular shawl. It's called "Miss Lambert's Shetland Pattern for a Shawl" and the pattern is in the "Victorian Lace Today" book. I've seen other examples of this shawl on Ravelry done in thicker yarn and I think it's going to be really nice regardless of the actual weight of the handspun. And the best of all is that nobody will have exactly the same yarn as I do!