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By Deej Koebbe

Just down the road apiece this columnist was chatting some time back with longtime friend and fellow thrift store volunteer Cathy Julian. Cathy described her then-recent vacation which culminated in a harrowing plane ride home.

Following is an account, in her own words, of this white-knuckle experience. When asked if she’d fly again any time soon, she replied, “No way, I’ll walk!”

After a delightful weeklong vacation on the shores of Lake Michigan, it was time to return home. I had been carefully monitoring Tropical Storm Fay and was hoping it would clear Sanford/Orlando before my flight home that Thursday afternoon.

Not so. To my surprise the flight out of Lansing, Mich., was not canceled and we took off into clear blue skies. Just north of Jacksonville I caught a glimpse of the shoreline with white (waves) extending halfway up the beaches and far out into the water – after that we entered into thick dark grey clouds.

I had a window seat which I may want to rethink after this experience.

The plane began to descend with a great deal of shaking – the term “turbulence” would be putting it mildly. The plane was full but you could hear a pin drop. I became aware that I was clutching the bottom of my seat with both hands.

Then came the rain – a steady stream past the windows – ears popping and eyes wide open. A bump – the landing gear is down – that’s good. If only I could see the ground.

Then after what seemed to be an eternity there is the ground – but wait – where is the runway? I see only grass – we are very low – but wait – oh now we are going up – am I going to throw up?

After a minute or two the pilot came on and said we could not land at Sanford because of poor visibility and that we were going to St. Pete/Clearwater. Oh that’s nice – considering my husband just drove two hours from Ocala to Sanford in peak tropical storm conditions as did the 50 or so more people waiting at Sanford.

After a long wait in St. Pete we re-boarded and headed back to Sanford for another landing in slightly less treacherous conditions. Cheers and applause upon the touchdown – more happy to be alive then just home.

Flooded roads on the way back to Ocala made it seem more like a boat ride.

As in all stressful situations, there is always an opportunity to meet and help strangers. We ended up driving a charming lady back to On Top of the World who had lost her ride from the airport and made a new friend.

Thanks for sharing the experience, Marge!

From Koebbe’s Kitchen

Potluck Chop Suey

1 lb. ground beef

2 small onions, chopped

1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

1 can cream of mushroom soup

2 soup cans of water

1/4 cup soy sauce

3/4 cup raw rice

In a skillet, brown meat. Then stir in onion, celery, soup, water, and sauce. Mix well.

Spread uncooked rice in bottom of oiled 9- by 13-in. baking pan. Pour meat and vegetables over rice.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Makes 10 to 12 servings. Enjoy.

Here is but a smidgen of the doin’s out our way.

Preservist Penny Joyce offers a million “thank yous” to all the wonderful Santas who worked so hard to make the Christmas Day dinner so special for all who attended. Sincerely Dee, Shirley, Penny and Norma.

Friday, Jan. 16 – Potluck is back. Sign your name and donations (enough for 12 servings). Dinner is at 6 p.m. Entertainment will be “Magic.” Don’t forget your own place setting.

Saturday, Jan. 17 – Coffee Social in ballroom at 9 a.m. Nine of our crafts teachers will show things they make and how you can. Coffee, tea and juice will be served. Please bring a breakfast treat to share.

Monday, Jan. 19 – Progress Energy will have an open house meeting about the power transmission line route in the area in the Community Center from 4 to 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 21 – First Horse Sense meeting at 1 p.m. in multi-purpose room. Program: Part 1 of “Horse Whispering” by Preservist Jim Olson. See Sandy Gaile for information.

Saturday, Jan. 24 – The Aristocrats are sponsoring a free Social Night from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Community Center; games, door prizes, Name That Tune and solitaire poker. Casual attire and BYOB. See Tony Paretta.

2009 SCP Telephone Directory on Mondays from 1 to 3 p.m. through March 9. Need two volunteers per session. Sign-up sheet at the Communication Center outside of staff office. See Alie Gelinas.

Bridge lessons sponsored by SCP Bridge Club. Sign up in general activity book or call bridge member Fern Novak. Cost is $1 per lesson.

Line dance schedule – Mondays 6 to 8 p.m. for easy and intermediate dancers. Wednesdays 5 to 6 p.m. and Thursdays 1 to 2 p.m. for beginners.

Ceramic classes every Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in new craft room. See Mary Secue.

Every Tuesday – newspaper and aluminum recycling. Call any On the Level Club member for pickup. All proceeds go to Shriners Children’s Hospital in Tampa. Please help.

Bingo every Tuesday for Preservists and their overnight guests. Cards on sale 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Games start promptly at 6:30 p.m.

Till next time, God be willing and the creek don’t rise.

Deej and her husband, Joe, live in Spruce Creek Preserve. To submit news items or announcements leave notices in her library cubby or call her. The Koebbes are listed in the Preserve phone directory.