An Afternoon In A Garden

14 05 2015

Spring at the Atlanta Botanical Garden – slideshow of the complete photo set

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Things Are Not What They Seem

22 04 2013

Things Are Not What They Seem

At an airport – going nowhere soon
Airplane – no crew
American Eagle aircraft – operated by SkyWest Airlines





Pinnacles National Park Radio Chat this Afternoon, 2/20/2013, 4-5 pacific time

20 02 2013

Pinnacles National Park Radio Chat this Afternoon, 2/20/2013, 4-5 pacific time

I’ll be chatting about the newly christened Pinnacles National park with David Congalton this afternoon on Hometown Radio from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Tune in, and feel free to call in with questions and comments!

Here are some photos from past hiking trips at Pinnacles.

Here are some photos from my latest Pinnacles hiking trip, 2/2/2013.





San Miguel, California

14 05 2012

So after 4 straight days of being on-the-go I’m taking a break in the middle of my east coast vacation and working on some old photos (I’m always backlogged!). This set was from almost a year ago. After hiking the Balconies cave and cliffs loop at Pinnacles National Monument, we stopped in San Miguel for a quick visit to Mission San Miguel and dinner at the Basque Tenth Street Cafe. Click here to see my complete Flickr photo set.





On Becoming An Aviatrix: Earning My Wings (Part II)

21 06 2010

At the end of my last post, The Seed Is Planted (Part I), my husband and I, after much deliberation decided that we were going to set down our roots on the California Central Coast with the aim of establishing an architecture firm. A big reason I was okay with the decision even though I was a little reluctant about living on the Central Coast was I had decided that as soon as we were financially able I would take up flying as a hobby,  and that would alleviate any negative feelings I might have about living in a small town. Besides visiting friends and family in both southern and northern California, I had dreamed of having fun adventures. Having inherited the travel bug through my parents, the idea of becoming a pilot was becoming increasingly appealing. There were other aspects of piloting that aligned with my interests besides traveling.

Since I was a young child I was always fascinated with maps. Growing up in a middle class family of eight people, finances dictated that there would be more road trips than flying trips. Because of my interest in maps, even though I was the third child, I actually ended up being the family navigator and trip planner.  My trip planning method is still the same today as it was back then: select a primary destination; study the map; plot out the best route taking into consideration available time and resources, terrain,  plus research places of interest along the way.

Hand-in-hand with my love of maps was the fact that I’m what you would call “a big planner.” All my family and friends know this about me. I’m all about keeping a calendar and making lists. Some people (the ones who are not planners) think that being a planner is restrictive when, in my opinion, the opposite is true. To me planning is about organizing one’s time to achieve goals. It’s also about setting priorities and allocating resources. My friends are often amazed at the sheer quantity of things I do, and yet I still find free time for hobbies, travel and other leisure pursuits. The irony of it is I actually block out time in my calendar for such activities. In other words, I plan when not to plan!

So while contemplating and thinking about my love of maps, travel, and planning, learning to fly started to become more than just a dream. It became a goal. How cool would it be to have a hobby that incorporated multiple interests and aspects of my own personality? But there were some major obstacles. The first major obstacle was money. Fact #1: flying is expensive, any way you slice it. Fact #2: We were recent college grads with very little income. I realized that during that time learning to fly was not meant to be. It would have to wait until a later time. Who knew when that would be? It would turn out to be a huge exercise in patience.

Fast forward 7 years to 1998: After struggling through the early post grad years and slowly emerging out of the recession, my husband finally was able to earn his architect’s license and start up our firm, LGA Architecture in Pismo Beach in 1997. I had been a housewife, the primary caregiver of our two small children. I was working at Pismo Beach Athletic Club as both a group fitness instructor and personal trainer. Why is this important to my story about becoming an aviatrix? Well, it just so happened that the head of flight attendants for Wings West was also a group fitness instructor and her name was Nanette. Wings West, which was based at San Luis Obispo (KSBP), was the regional carrier that was contracted by American Eagle, the regional airline for American Airlines.

One day, on a break during a staff meeting, I overheard Nanette talking about how she was recruiting a local girl to be a flight attendant, and that she would be flying out to DFW soon for training. That piqued my interest, and I began to ask Nanette about what it was like to be a flight attendant. Everything she told me sounded wonderful! She said, “Why don’t you apply?” I don’t remember thinking about it for very long before I decided I would do it! The next thing I knew I was flying out to Dallas to interview at the  headquarters of AMR (the parent company for American Airlines & American Eagle). In a blink of an eye I was hired, went home, and in a few weeks would return to Dallas for flight attendant training at the American Airlines Flight Academy. Soon I would have my wings, but I would still not be a pilot.

Next blog post: How I moved from the cabin to the flight deck.

Previously published June 21, 2010 at Forbes.com “Wheels Up”





On Becoming An Aviatrix: Introduction

9 06 2010

When people initially find out that I’m a private pilot I often get similar responses. First there is a general look of surprise: slight gasp, widened eyes, raised eyebrows, followed by a long “Reeeaaally???” In fact, I often feel the same amazement that I am, indeed, a pilot! The next question I usually get is “How is it that you became a pilot?” What follows is an introduction to the long answer to that question.

Being able to pilot an airplane is a dream for me. Even though I’ve been a certified private pilot since December 2003 and obtained my instrument rating in October 2004, I feel excited every time I get in an airplane whether I’m the pilot-in-command (PIC) or a passenger. Of course the biggest thrill for me is piloting the plane myself. It’s a head trip to be able to actually operate a flying machine. Ever since I was a child I was intrigued by stories and movies involving flying. While traveling commercially, as a passenger, I was always in awe of the entire flight crew with their spiffy uniforms, and professional demeanor. There was a certain magic quality about them, and a special pedestal was reserved for the pilots. They were like gods! The thought never crossed my mind back then that I could be “One of them” someday. As to why that may have been the case I believe is a cultural/gender issue. This idea is touched upon by professional pilot Dottie Norkus while answering the question of “Why are there not many female pilots?” on the web site allexperts.com:

Personally, I think that even in this new millennium there are so few female pilots as the career is still considered a ‘male’ career. It is not that is it any ‘harder’ becoming a pilot for a female but I think being a pilot is still not really encouraged as a possibility to girls in school. There are still cultural and gender stereo types that affect what young girls aspire to be.

So what happened that caused me to want to become a pilot, as well as believe I could be one? I’ll begin my saga about becoming an aviatrix in my next blog post. See you there!

Previously published June 9, 2010 at Forbes.com “Wheels Up”





Hello world!

9 06 2010

Welcome to my new blog, Michelle’s World. I’ve just begun putting this blog together as a form of self-expression, and as a way to communicate with others anywhere in the world. People often ask me why I do the things I do (and I do a lot of things as you will find out if you don’t already know!), so I will try to provide the reasons behind my being here. Also, my decision to blog was influenced by the fact that my friends, family, and even strangers often ask me for advice and my recommendations about most of the subjects on which I’ll be blogging about. Why do they ask me for advice? Probably because they know I’m pretty intense about anything that interests me, and they know I often do a thorough job of researching and contemplating before I make my decisions. I think of myself as the “Planner” type ~ I even plan when not to plan!

My blog posts will be about all aspects of my life which include, but will not be limited to, these subjects: aviation, food & wine, travel, architecture, hiking, the virtues of Native Plants both in nature and in the designed landscape, movies, music, life with a 6-pack of Pug dogs, and life in general. Please check back soon for updates. For my daily babble follow me on Twitter.








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