These are the days

It’s that time of year when I get to whine. Weather wise, December through March is typically dreary, often with gray skies and cold temperatures. We even have a snow shower or two here in north Georgia that gets the news media all in a tizzy. However, this year has been exceptionally warm, although we’ve had our share of dreary wet days.

I can get through the winter just fine if I get a day now and then for a smooth flight in Lester. It’s just as well that winter often limits my good VFR flying days, because this is also the time of year when our bank account is stretched to the limit.

Our property tax is due just a few days before Christmas. Gee, that makes everyone feel merry and bright. The ad valorem tax on our airplanes is due around the same time, as well. Our children and grandchildren don’t seem to mind that this means they get homegrown and homemade jelly or a handcrafted birdhouse made from recycled barn wood (ours, of course) as gifts. They take them eagerly.

In January, we are recovering from December both physically (too many holiday dinners) and financially. Every other year, this is the month to schedule our medicals. Dr. Homer Gold is not only our AME; he’s also our preventive maintenance specialist (AKA family doctor). Like any good mechanic, he likes to prevent the issues that can jeopardize our medicals and not just treat them after the fact.

This year my Old Man was given the devastating news that he needed glasses for distance vision. Admitting years ago that he needed reading glasses was a drama. Learning that he no longer had that superman steely eyesight was no less dramatic. My suggestions and hints that maybe his landings would now improve didn’t help his feelings. Getting the bill for the scratch-resistant, glare-resistant, progressives that were obviously housed in 24kt gold-plated rims seriously lessened my joy at needling him.

Darn, there went my fuel money for the rest of the month.

February brings the house insurance bill. Our home is modest. Henry, his mom and dad, and I built it. I like it. It’s not a McMansion, but it suits our needs and us. It is home. However, seeing the increase in this year’s premium made me nearly swallow my tongue. It would appear that a home that is built to suit one’s needs, even 27 years ago, is now called “custom” and the replacement value reflects this determination.

It is a conspiracy to keep me out of the air! I am sure the TSA is behind these unexpected duns. Left wings, right wings, middle wings — they all want my fuel budget. It’s a Communist, Progressive, Socialist conspiracy.

When I got an email from Aircraft Spruce that happily thanked me for my order, I thought, “What order?” When I noted those items listed happened to include a couple of hundred dollars worth of hardware that would fit a certain C-195B located in a certain person’s shop adjacent to my home, I realized that even a certain redneck had joined this conspiracy.

Nature was against me, too. Last October, lightning struck a tree in our yard and ran down the power line that serviced the house. We were lucky it didn’t burn our house. I saw smoke and could smell the ozone. The electronics in my brand new chef’s gas stove were toast, but fortunately it was still under warranty. The computers came back after a hard reboot. The TV came around after a few days. It didn’t die; it just liked changing channels on a whim. The only thing I replaced at my cost was one wireless router. Didn’t get to use that expensive insurance after all.

However, in January, we had what old-timers call a windstorm that made the power blink on and off most of the night. This awakened the gremlin in the TV. Unfortunately, a replacement falls short of our deductible, and a new model costs about the same as the new Bruce’s Custom Cover that I planned to order for Lester.

So on one hand, we have a nice 42-inch flat screen TV that likes to change channels and scroll through the menu randomly at the most inopportune times. On the other hand, there is a lovely, shiny Luscombe that needs covering from the elements. It is annoying, but the Old Man is getting rather adept at outsmarting the gremlin, and Lester will soon be enjoying his new cover.

Our March budget includes one big item. The insurance on our Luscombes is due. We actually get reasonable rates, but to pay for two at the same time is somewhat challenging for the family bank account. We always seem to make it, however; it’s a ritual we’ve been practicing since I started flying in the 1990s.

I know this time of year is coming. I prepare for it. There are always surprises. I continue to whine.

Then one day, the sun comes up a little brighter. The air gets a little warmer and the sky seems a little bluer. The winter wind is calmed and the birds’ songs are cheerful. These are the days when my thriftiness pays off. These are the days that make my budgeting, my coupon clipping, and my home lunches worthwhile.

These are the days we fly.

 Deb McFarland is the proud owner of Lester, a 1948 Luscombe 8E, and part of the “Front Porch Gang” at Pickens County Airport in Georgia. She can be reached at



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  1. Mark C says

    Deb, always enjoy your writing. I had to chuckle reading about Henry’s glasses. As a 50+ student pilot, I knew my eyes weren’t as good as they were 30 years ago, but I went off in search of a sport license w/o an eye exam, taking lessons in a Champ which simply refused to land consistently well. When I decided to switch to the pursuit of a Private, the FAA told me to get glasses, and after a week getting used to those (I think Henry and I got the same model, from your description) I found I could nail a landing pretty much every time. BTW, having proved that scratch-resistant coatings aren’t all that scratch-resistant, I got a call today from the store telling me my replacement lense for my good eye is in and ready for them to swap into my glasses which I will now be much more careful with, since that one lense is more than half the original cost.

    Now, if only my wife would go along w/buying a C195…

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