Epic Explosion

My alarm was set to go off minutes after I was woken up by a massive explosion. I had no clue what just oke me up and shook the whole house. I thought it was thunder at first, but then I heard all of the subsequent explosions, continuously going off. The sky went red:

Many of the neighbours came out and gathered on the street, trying to figure out what was going on. I have never heard so many sirens in my life. The smaller explosions continued for over half an hour. Apparently, a waste management facility (mainly fuel, oil, wastewater) exploded. The building is/was about a kilometre from us. Unfortunately, one person was seriously injured. He was the only one at the facility, thank goodness.

Here is an article on the incident. St. Catharines Explosion.

People to the north of the building were evacuated, as the wind was coming from the south. I’m so glad that we were able to stay home, as we are west of the location. Our thoughts are certainly with the guy who was injured.

Today’s symptoms: I’m not having the best or worst day today. My headache is worse than usual and plenty of aches and pains. The fatigue is really taking over as well. I’m quite looking forward to bedtime tonight!

VR Is My Friend

Mike and I decided for our ten year anniversary at the end of November that we would go in together on a Virtual Reality system. We purchased the Valve Index after many hours of research on different units. The right choice was certainly made – it’s amazing! I’m a huge Skyrim fan so I was so excited to play the VR version. It is so much better than I even expected – extremely immersive. We also purchased an eleven-in-one sporting game and some archery ones. One of the games in the sporting package is boxing. I used to be in martial arts and would love to get back into it, but for now, I’m going to focus on boxing as a new venture. I purchased Thrill of the Fight and it’s exactly what I was looking for. I played it for over an hour on Christmas Eve (as well as a few other games) and my arms are still very noodley and sore two days later. The workout this game provides is awesome. I’m certainly looking forward to playing it again when my muscles are back to normal!

We’re both going to need to work out more if we keep getting the Big Papa pizza from Rollins Pizza. Holy cow, it’s amazing! Tastes just like a Big Mac:

My mother is baby sitting a kitty for friends of ours. Introducing Santa Daisy:

Christmas was great. It was the first time Mike and I were together on Christmas day, as he is usually with his family and I’m with my little mother. However, due to the COVID numbers being so high still, and the other crap that’s going around, he had to leave his parent’s place early afternoon Sunday before the rest of his family arrived. Jan and I opened pressies that morning then all opened stuff from each other when Mike was home. For dinner, we ordered a pre-cooked huge turkey dinner from Manhattans Restaurant in St. Catharines. Jan and I got our Christmas dinner from there last year, as well and Thanksgiving dinner for all three of us this year. I strongly recommend them. The price is right and the food is amazing. The large family meal feeds around 6 people. It gives the three of us leftovers for days. Yum!

Today’s symptoms: I am so happy to report that I’ve felt quite good over the last few days. I just have some nerve pain going on in my left hand today, plus a worse than usual headache, but my fatigue level is down. I’m off tomorrow as well so I’m hoping for another day of feeling decent and being productive. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Fox By Chocks

A pilot friend of mine recently shared a picture of a fox standing next to wheel chocks in her hangar. What a little cutie:

A few nights ago, I had one of my infamous bouts of insomnia. Around 2:00am, I decided I needed to do something productive, just out of boredom. This is where my whacky brain took me. Please let me introduce Fox with Socks by Chocks:

Fox with Locks by Chocks:

Fox with Pox by Chocks:

And last but not least, Fox with Glocks by Chocks:

I eventually fell asleep closer to 3:00. At least I had some entertainment beforehand!

Today’s symptoms: I slept seemingly well last night, but I’m a bit more fatigued than “normal” today. My headache is worse than it typically is too. I made it through the full work day though! I’m so glad it’s the weekend. Paws crossed for decent weather so I can go for a flight.

Vyctor Got a New ELT!

Vyctor had his annual inspection recently and his ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) test unfortunately failed. Since I had the old style 121.5 ELT and would need to switch over to the 406 by 2025 anyway, I figured I would just update it now. I ordered one from Aircraft Spruce, which has a location in Brantford. I didn’t want to spend $52 in shipping so decided to fly there instead. Makes sense, right? Hehe! Mike and I took last Thursday off to head out there, but the weather wasn’t looking ideal. The clouds were a bit low to the West but still VFR. It was a very windy day so we did share the airspace with many other small planes. The trip to Brantford was against a headwind and took us 52 minutes to get there, averaging around 72 knots (133 km). Once landed and getting Vyctor chocked and his cowl covered, we booted it over to Aircraft Spruce (about a five minute walk). We usually like wandering around the store to look at all the goodies, but wanted to get back in the air as quickly as possible before the snow came in.

With the new ELT safely in the back, we zipped back over to the runway for take-off. With the brisk tailwind, we were doing over 250 km/hr and reached the St. Catharines Airport in 27 minutes.

That was a really great flight. Certainly not smooth at all, which I always enjoy. Next for Vyctor – I need to have his magnetos removed and sent off to somewhere up near Toronto for inspection. I’ll do that once the weather is really cruddy, since I won’t be able to fly for a couple weeks. Paws crossed they don’t find any issues.

I’m hoping to go up again soon and do some aerobatics by myself. Mike and I went up the other day and did some at the end of our flight. This is always a fun orientation to be in:

I think I need to remind everyone how adorable our kitties are. Could Pinky pose and cuter?

Boo and her sister are true pals:

You tired Abby?

Mya has the cutest fuzzy feet. Little pompom paws:

Today’s symptoms: I felt quite good today with a decent amount of energy. Due to the weather, we spent the day inside, puttering around and playing on our new VR system. I shan’t complain too much about my symptoms over the last few days. Just the usual amount of nerve pain, fatigue and headaches, but all have been tolerable.

Newest Addition to the ElizaMike Zoo!

For the past couple of weeks, we planned to drive to Toronto today to visit the Avworld store. It’s a great aviation store just across from Pearson Airport. Mike, Jan and I drove for about an hour and a half, only to find that the store wasn’t open. What a bummer! I guess we’ll have to make another trip back at some point. I didn’t want the trip to be wasted, so on the way home, we took a detour to the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. They have a great gift shop and we were able to pick up some Christmas gifts for each other and some other family members. I also saw some copies of a wonderful book there:

You can see more about the book and purchase a copy here: Stella and Lizzy Take Flight.

I think we wandered around the gift shop for about an hour. Although it was disappointing that Avworld was not open, at least we have another trip there to look forward to!

Farewell Warplane Museum….always a wonderful visit:

We’re mostly just relaxing now that we’re home from our fun day out. Time to tend to the animals, including our newest addition. I was out winterizing the gardens a few days ago when I came across an adorable praying mantis. I looked it up online and they typically die during the first frost, which likely would have been last night. No way I was going to let that happen to little Stibbons!

Who would have thought our zoo needed more animals??

Today’s symptoms: I felt quite good today! My energy didn’t start waning until around 4:00. It usually starts around noon, so having the extra few hours of energy was awesome!

Neighbourhood Aerial Pics

The Neighbourhood app I’m on is doing a photo contest of neighbourhood-related pics. I figured taking a pic of the entire neighbourhood would suffice:

And here are a couple closer views of the awesome Sunset Beach:

I see the snow fences are up on the beach now. We’ll have to be careful not to walk into them when we go for our walks in the evening. It’s a tad hard to see them when it’s dark.

Earlier in the summer, I found a peanut in our back yard, which was split open and had a root. I planted it and just dug up the spoils today. I’m going to start a new business selling peanuts, grown at the Elizaplantation! With a yield like this, I’ll be rich in no time!

I think I can make 1/400th of a jar of peanut butter so far!

Today’s symptoms: I had a couple pretty bad days last week with lots of nerve pain, fatigue, brain fog….blah! This weekend was a different story though. Felt good enough to go for a flight Saturday. Yesterday, Mike and I went to my mother’s to help decorate her cute little 5′ Christmas tree. These good days certainly make the bad ones a little bit more tolerable, as they give me something to look forward to.

Gallivanting Through Niagara Gorge

I was rather surprised to learn that Mike has never been to the Niagara Gorge. However, I still love him and am able to look passed this deficiency. We decided to take a vacation day and head there last week. All the times I went as a kid, the stairs seemed like they would never end. Seeing them this time, they didn’t seem nearly as bad:

Twas a foggy day and we only saw seven people in over two hours (three were fishing and two couples just started their trek as we were finishing ours). It was pretty close to what I remember from being there many years ago. I knew there was a path right down to the Niagara River and we eventually found it:

A tad too cold (and dangerous) for a swim:

It was so neat to see the Niagara River from ground level, as we had just flown over it and Niagara Falls a week prior:

I never take living here for granted. One certainly can’t scoff at having Niagara Falls, the Niagara Escarpment, two massive lakes, plenty of parks and nature trails in our backyard.

Today’s symptoms: I’m doing so much better today than yesterday, which was one of my bad days. It didn’t start off too rough, but by noon, the pain and fatigue really set in. I got really down too. The days full of lousy MS symptoms is enough to deal with, but it’s always much worse when the feelings of hopelessness and being discouraged take over. I dread those days and am so appreciative of ones like today, where I feel decent physically and my mood is elevated.

Amazing Shower View

I miss the window in the shower of my old 10th floor apartment. While I rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, it would cause the tub floor to be slippery. At the high end of the tub, I would face the window. As I slowly slid down to the other end whilst rinsing, I had an amazing panoramic view of west St. Catharines and northwest towards Burlington and Oakville.

Despite the loss of the amazing view and living so close to everything in downtown St. Catharines, I have no regrets at all about moving. Living with Mike in Port Weller is awesome and I wouldn’t give it up for anything!

Today’s symptoms: I had another really good day! I cherish these days so much. Jan and I got our fifth vaccine shot this morning. They have all made me feel quite sick for five to sixteen days, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to feel sick at all from this one.

Abby Turned Fourteen!

Our youngest turned 14 today. She really grew into a sweet, affectionate, lovable little chunk-o.

Happy birthday, you adorable little goober!

Today’s symptoms: Feeling pretty decent today. Had a good weekend which included a flight on Saturday and enough energy to winterize the gardens on Sunday. Fairly consistent nerve pain in my left hand for the last few days. I told it that it can bugger off for the month of November. I don’t have time for it’s silliness.

Profound Reaction

I was really sick with an intestinal and stomach bug a few weeks ago. I could hardly get out of bed for over a week. I got quite down during this time too. I’ve never had this thought before, but I actually considered selling my plane! I know it’s just because of how lousy I was feeling, but the thought did hit me. This past weekend, I flew Mike around Niagara to check out the Fall colours. The next day, I took my little mother up for the same experience. I told her that I briefly considered selling Vyctor. Her reaction was pretty profound. It was total shock. When I visited my friend recently, I told her the same thing and her reaction was the same as my mother’s. They both shook and their jaws dropped. These reaction showed me that Vyc isn’t going anywhere! Clearly my mind was being influenced by illness I was dealing with.

Both Mike and my mom got to enjoy a trip over Niagara Falls.

The weather for both flights was perfect. With Mike, we had a windy, bouncy flight, which he doesn’t mind at all and I quite enjoy. With Jan, it could have not been any smoother. This was great because whenever I hit even the slightest bumpy air, she glares at me and usually accuses me of doing it on purpose. Tee hee!

I decided to do a little decorating for Halloween this year. There is someone at the end of our street who does amazing wood carvings. I bought one of his awesome pumpkins (the tall one in the centre), and drew faces on my two orange planters. Dangling pumpkins and skulls finished the look:

Everything from the porch has been temporarily moved to the driveway, as Mike and I are in the process of repainting the porch (the same colour). The second coat is going on tomorrow. I’m looking forward to having it finish.

Not too much else new to report. Things have been similar to the last two and a half years. We’re still being super careful, due to my sissy immune system. I’m really looking forward to going into a mall again, once it’s safe to do so. At least it’s something to look forward to!

Today’s symptoms: I have been feeling quite good the last few days. My fatigue has been minimal, pain has been average and I’ve been feeling much more positive and happy.

Finally! We Flew to an Airport for Breakfast!

The weather was great yesterday and I was feeling well symptom-wise, so it was the perfect opportunity to go for a flight. Before COVID, Mike and I used to fly to various airports for breakfast. Some great spots are Brantford, Tillsonburg, Brampton, Lindsay, Kitchener, London and Guelph, to name a few. We decided to get back into things by heading to Brantford. Their restaurant, Skyway Cafe, now has an online ordering system. This is so convenient as we can order whilst on our way. I think we were around Hamilton when Mike put in the order:

After about forty minutes of flying, we arrived at our destination:

Our delicious food was ready soon after we arrived. We sat out on a picnic table next to Vyctor, enjoying our food while watching planes coming and going.

We had to visit Aircraft Spruce, which is the ultimate store for pilots. Anything you need aviation related, you will likely be able to get from there. I ordered a new fuel dipstick for Vyctor, and didn’t want to pay for shipping. It’s much more fun to pick it up in person, especially the journey there and back. So once we picked up my purchase, there were four dipsticks in the plane! My new one, the old one and I believe Mike and I were the other two. Tee hee.

On the flight home, we flew over the beach by our house. It wasn’t too busy, since it was a weekday. The weekends are a different story. There are often lines to get into the beach parking lot, plus it’s paid parking now. I love it being just a three minute walk away.

Once back home, we both did things around the house. Pinky was quite interested in what I was doing out on the porch:

What a wonderful day. I can’t even put into words what it’s like to have such a great day, especially since my bad days are getting more frequent.

Today’s symptoms: I’m a tad weary today, but I’m sure all of the excitement yesterday has something to do with it. Lots of spasms and nerve pain today. Most of the day was spent relaxing and working on my computer. Paws crossed tomorrow is a good day, without having to take sick time (which I seem to be taking more frequently over the last year or so).

St. Thomas Airfest…..Almost!

Mike and I were so grateful to wake up to perfect weather today, plus I was feeling well. We eagarly anticipated flying out to the St. Thomas Airfest, which runs from June 24-26. Gates open at 10:00 so we made sure we were wheels up before 9:30. It’s about a 55 minutes flight. As we were crossing over the airport, I was surprised there were few people and not a lot of activity. We touched down and taxied by a row of Dash 8’s:

Once we turned onto the apron and headed toward the terminal building, we realized that the event was not set up yet. It was a bit of a bummer but the main thing was the great flight there. Also, neither of us had landed at the St. Thomas Airport in a few years.

I figured Vyctor would look great between a P-51 Mustang:

And the Electra, from the Niagara District Airport. I’m sure he’s the type of plane that would appreciate being parked next to a fellow plane from the same airport as him:

It was nice to talk to a couple people there. We also got a better view of a couple of the Dash 8’s:

Less than thirty minutes after arriving, we were wheels up and heading back home. I decided to take the scenic route along the Lake Erie shoreline. We flew over Port Dover:

This sounds like it’s going to be a great event this weekend! I wish we were able to head back but won’t be able to.

We had a nice relaxing afternoon and now we have the weekend to look forward to.

Today’s symptoms: I felt pretty good today, which was such a relief after feeling so yucky yesterday. I was happy to be feeling well enough to head out to St. Thomas. No better way to spend a vacation day than to go for a flight!

First Social Event in Over Two Years!

Mike and I both took Friday off as there was a fly-in event at the Kincardine Airport. This was my first time going there. I was also unaware that the Bruce Nuclear Power Plant, just to the north, is the largest in the world! After flying against a head wind for about an hour and fifteen minutes, the plant came into view. The sheer scale was pretty amazing to see.

Certainly worth the ten minute detour!

We were lucky in that we got to stay in the circuit a little longer than we had planned. The faster plane ahead of us didn’t quite make the first taxiway after landing, so needed to backtrack the runway. This lead me to having to do an overshoot and go around the circuit a second time. The next time around, it looked like the same thing was about to happen again but he did end up making the taxiway.

After giving Vyctor a drink of fuel, we parked and mingled.

This was the first fly-in we’ve been to since COVID started. I think I’m feeling more comfortable, mainly since we were outdoors and I was able to wear my masks when folks were nearby. It was really a nice day and we’re looking forward to possibly doing more of these events this summer.

Back in the saddle again:

With a bit of a tail wind, we were home quicker than the trip there. Hello Burlington Skyway! Yet again, I was able to resist flying under it. I’m so proud of my restraint:

That was an amazing day and totally worth the wait. The fly-in had to be rescheduled three times over the last couple weeks due to weather.

Today’s symptoms: I’m a tad weary today after all the excitement! Despite some worse-than-usual fatigue and nerve pain, I still have a smile on my face today.

My Eldest is 16 Today!

Little Mya is celebrating her 16th birthday today! We had quite the scare with her on Friday. She had a seizure in the upstairs bathroom at 2:00 am – it was so horrible to see. Fortunately, she seemingly fully recovered within a few minutes. Mya is one of the best cats I’ve ever had. She is such a little sweetheart with a very affectionate personality. I love that she sleeps in my arms most nights.

I cherish every day I have with her, as her health seems to be on a slow decline. We just started going to the vet once a week for a month. She’s receiving shots to help with arthritis. This was her soon after coming back from her last visit. Little Boo seems to be using her as a pillow. I would like to think it’s something more caring and nurturing, but I don’t think that’s Boo’s style.

Mike jumps at any excuse to buy cake! He came home with this after work Friday.

We had to sacrifice and eat in on her behalf. What we do for our pets!

Today’s symptoms: I didn’t sleep well last night and felt very drained today. Bad headache and plenty of nerve pains. I plan on scampering up to bed soon and get a great sleep. I’ll feel much better tomorrow.

Awesome Pics of Vyctor

I recently had someone contact me over Messenger and said he had pictures of my plane. He took them at the 2019 Edenvale Gathering of the Classics. This was always one of our favourite fly-in events to attend. Thank you so much, Gary Gentle, for giving me these wonderful pics of Vyctor!

Keep that nose wheel up!

Farewell, Edenvale! I hope to see you again sometime soon!

It’s so rare to get such great shots of Vyc in flight. Thanks again, Gary!

This is What Good News Looks Like…

I’m helping someone with a project and needed video of Vyctor’s gauges. Mike and I woke up Sunday morning and saw what looked like perfect flying weather. There were already two Flying Club planes out in the practice area. The forecast was looking cruddy later in the morning and the rest of the day.

Vyctor was excited to be going up again for the second time in less than a week:

Soon after taking off, we knew that this was going to be a short flight. An instructor in one of the two Club planes flying to the west said they were heading back as the snow was coming in. Mike and I decided to stay close to the Lake Ontario shoreline, which is near the airport.

We flew west briefly, then back east along the shoreline over to the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake. The main street was looking so empty:

There didn’t appear to be too much going on at Fort George either:

Within fifteen minutes of being airborne, the two Club planes had landed and the snow had come up to the edges of the Niagara District Airport airspace on both the west and south sides. Needless to say, at this point we were forced to head in for a gusty landing:

The total flight time was a whopping 18 minutes, but better a short flight than no flight at all. At least we got the video of the gauges I needed.

Once back, we hit Tim Hortons to pick up some noms before heading to Jan’s for a visit. Our drive to my mother’s is no longer 35 minutes because in December, we found her a house just 350 meters away from us. Less than a four minute walk or 45 second drive! Also, we are four streets away from Lake Ontario and she is only two away. This is perfect for her because she has always wanted to live near the water. It was sad to see my childhood home and that which my mother lived in for about 46 years be sold, but onward to bigger and better things!

This is what good news looks like!

She really lucked out with the new house because the folks who lived there before her, completely renovated it inside within the last two years. It wasn’t redone cheaply to flip it either. Everything was done fairly high end, as they didn’t realize the wife would need to move for her job. This Spring, we are going to spruce up the outside to be as nice as the inside.

I think Jan’s grandkids are happy that she lives closer too:

Today’s symptoms: I actually had to take sick time for about half the day. I have a much worse than usual headache and a plethora of nerve pain. I didn’t have the greatest sleep last night, so that always makes my symptoms worse. I’m looking forward to feeling better tomorrow!

Piloting My Way Into a Book!

I’m so excited to finally be able to share this with everyone. Back in 2019, I took up then seven year old Stella for a scenic and aerobatic flight. She handled everything like a pro – truly a future pilot. We did a bunch of aerobatics and flew over Niagara Falls. I let her fly the plane back towards the airport and she did great! This flight inspired her mother to write another book, following Stella’s Stories From Around the Globe – Japan. Her second book teaches young folks (and old!) about becoming a pilot. I had the pleasure of editing the book and provided aviation knowledge and insight. I’m so proud to present Stella’s Stories From Around the Globe – Stella and Lizzy Take Flight by Sheri Burke!

Sheri did an amazing job making this educational and engaging book, for all ages! And could Stella and I be any more adorable in our cartoon state?!

As if I wasn’t honoured enough to be part of this, Sheri took it to another level when she committed to donate $1 of every book sold to the MS Society. I’m so touched by this compassion and generosity.

I can’t wait to take Stella up again, to continue our flying adventures. Sheri and I will also be working on a fun and interactive website about aviation and how to fly. I’m excited about this new endevour – stay tuned!

Vyctor at 8000′!

I was feeling decent today and the weather was great, so Mike and I went for a flight. Over ten years ago, I took Vyctor up to 10,500 feet. After that, he wouldn’t climb (air is less dense). We tried it again today. Unfortunately, I was having to put on my carb heat every few hundred feet we gained in altitude. I was having to use it too much for comfort. Ice in the carburetor decreases engine performance and can actually cause it to quit. We made it to 8000′ and then he would hardly climb anymore.

The view of Niagara was pretty neat at that altitude:

I had to contact Toronto Terminal on the radio to let them know I was up there. As large commercial planes come into Toronto from the south, they often fly over St. Catharines above 6000′.

We flew over a few places to see how many folks were out shopping. Lots at the Outlet Mall in Niagara-On-The-Lake:

The PEN Centre in St. Catharines. I can’t wait until we can go back there!

Mike and I went for a walk at Sunset Beach not long ago. It was night and pitch black. We were surprised how many fences were up on the beach and we almost walked into three of them. They’re quite clear at 1800′ during the day:

It was a great flight. The first 25 minutes were spent trying to climb to 8,000′. Mike tracked it with ForeFlight. The climb data at the bottom is rather amusing:

Today’s symptoms: I finally slept well last night and felt quite good today. Yesterday was the opposite as I hardly slept the previous few nights. I seem to be experiencing a lot more pain than usual over the last month or so. Mainly crushing pain in my arms and hands. How rude!

Boo and I Want to Start a Band…

The Sphynkles will be the name of our group.

What do you think? Are we ready for the big stage?

I’ve been up for a couple flights over the last month. One was with my little mother. She hadn’t been up in a while. Here we are approaching the Niagara Skyway on an overcast day:

It’s weird seeing the bridges crossing the Niagara River into the States. We haven’t seen traffic coming or going for almost two years:

The Falls was looking as spectacular as ever. That’s one thing I never get sick of seeing and always take my passengers over it as well.

The Outlet mall seemed to be rocking with shoppers. I can’t wait to be able to go back there:

That’s about the extent of my updates for now.

Today’s symptoms: I’ve been having quite a few ups and downs lately. I really try to take advantage of the good days, but since I rarely leave the house, there’s not too many things to put those good feelings towards. I know things will get better though and having that hope is quite motivating. It also helps to have Christmas to look forward to. For the last few days, I’ve been dealing with a much worse headache than usual. I think not sleeping well has contributed. Tomorrow will be better!

We Have Another Teenager!

Guess who turned into a teenager today? Our youngest, Abby, turned 13! Part of her celebration was eating the whipped cream from my donut:

I have to admit, I raised her to be a bit more lady-like, but we let her behave however she wants on her birthday. Her sister Mya, the eldest of the four naked ladies, enjoyed some as well.

Not too much is new with me. I’ve been approved to get my booster shot, so I’ll hopefully be doing that this week. Paws crossed I don’t take as long to recover from this one. Either way, it will be worth having the extra protection no matter how many weeks I feel the effects. We still aren’t going out at all, but possibly in the New Year things will be a better. Something to look forward to!

Today’s symptoms: I’ve been dealing with a bout of insomnia over the last few weeks. All of my physical symptoms are always worse when I get very little sleep. Mike and I started going for walks again, and I found I sleep a bit better after that. I’m sure things will continue to improve!