Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
And in a mere 3 hours, we were back on the road, very much less rich for the experience, but a lovely new car that, when I tried all the fun things Fred showed us, I realized I needed a PhD in order to figure out. My new hobby--learning how to turn on the radio in my new car.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
They are so comfortable!!
Friday, February 1, 2013
Saturday, December 22, 2012
The car was still dead, though, so I had to cancel my appointment to give blood because I didn't want to walk to Bloodsource in the rain.
At 10 or so, things began to happen
(dogs protecting us from the evil AAA tow truck)
Friday, March 11, 2011
They say deaths come in 3s, don't they? First there was Alice's death and her beautiful memorial Mass. Then there was Brendan's death and the memorial party which will be held later this month. Today I got the word that another beloved member of our family appears to be terminal and the end will come very soon.
Our insurance agent has determined that our car is probably not fixable and we are going to have to go car shopping. My beloved Honda is dying before my very eyes and I am powerless (save paying more money than I want to pay) to repair it.
Some people would be thrilled at the idea of going car shopping with insurance blessing (though obviously what they will give us for the car will not nearly cover the cost of a new/used car). I am not a person who makes change easily. It takes me time to bond with new things...I wear shoes for years before they feel like...well...an old shoe. I only buy new shoes when the old ones have nearly fallen apart. I don't jump for joy at the excuse to go out and buy shoes.
And it's like that with cars. The Honda fits me. It's comfortable. I know its quirks. I have spent many, many hours in that car and traveled up and down the state many, many times. I was unhappy when we had to go shopping for a new car, but our Toyota Camry had been stolen and the insurance adjuster advised, when it was finally recovered, that we should take the money and get a new car because who knew what the joy-riding teens who stole the Camry had done to it.
So we went out looking for a new Camry and by accident happened to find the Honda. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I don't know how long it took for me to begin to love it, but it took awhile.
Now it appears to be dying. Pieces of its body are being stripped off the car even as I sit here writing this.
Walt unloaded everything from the trunk, glove compartment and car and came home with a new Nissan hatchback as our rental car. We are resigned to having to get a new car and Walt is now starting to think about what kind we want (he likes the idea of the hatchback for ease of carting large boxes around.
I was interrupted in writing this entry by the news of the Japan earthquake. The largest earthquake I have felt was 5.6. I can't even imagine an 8.9. I sat here watching the tsunami in the north-east part of Japan, trying to remember where exactly our two Japanese "daughters" live. I have lost contact with them.
As of what we were reading at midnight there have been 17 aftershocks, ranging in size from 5.6 to 7.9 over the last two and a half hours.
Twitter is all a-twitter with tweets about the earthquake, and also with complaints about the CNN reporter who, apparently, made jokes about the earthquake. I had listened to CNN for a long time and didn't hear anything non-professional, so I'm not sure what they were talking about
My heart went out to those people living in the tsunami area, watching that moving water just ripping up homes and sending them crashing into each other, into bridges, into large warehouses. I watched boats being crushed under bridges and cars floating so fast they might have been motorboats. I shuddered to think of the people who might have been caught unawares. I watched the water rapidly approaching a road that was clogged with cars, apparently trying to get out of the way of the water.
Looking at the tsunami map it appears that most of the world is going to be feeling the effects of the water. The entire west coast of the United States is under tsunami watch (though by the time it gets here, the destructive forces will probably be lessened).
Char's husband Mike used to head the Tsunami Warning Station in Honolulu. He kept us safe from tsunamis all those years and we have now have had two destructive tsunamis since he retired.Coincidence?
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I thought about my father today. One of the things we used to do as a family was to "go for a drive." I don't remember where we were going all the time. My parents liked to drive around and look at houses. My mother always wanted to buy a house; my father did not. But they could always look, she could always dream, and we would spend a Sunday afternoon driving around. Or we would be driving out into the country, perhaps on the way to see my grandmother. I don't remember the destination, but I always remember the drives.
Invariably in those days before highways, we would find ourselves driving behind someone who my father would angrily categorize as a "Sunday driver," meaning someone who was driving more slowly than he wanted to drive. Sunday drivers made him angry and he would speed up and pass them at the very first opportunity, often continuing to lecture about the stupid Sunday drivers.
I realize that I've become a Sunday driver most days of the week. Unless I'm facing a deadline, I am more interested in enjoying the journey rather than rushing to get to the destination.
I took my mother to Kaiser today to get her pre-op blood work and EKG done. Kaiser is one freeway stop from where she lives and I actually enjoy taking the frontage road. The speed limit is 40 mph but I like going slower and it's fun to look at the shops along the way. I know my mother usually rolls her eyes. She can't understand why I don't just take the freeway.
There are two choices to get from I-80, the freeway that takes me from here to my mother's. One is to continue on the new freeway bypass that goes by Marine World. On weekends it's often clogged with cars filled with happy people ready to climb into machines that will send them hurtling off into spirals and corkscrews.
The other choice is to get off at American Canyon, a lovely 2-lane road that winds down between two hills, past horse farms and into the road through the town of Vallejo (which connects up with the busier freeway before it actually gets into the town. I always opt for American Canyon. It's slower, but especially at this time of year, the hills are a deep green, the poppies are blooming, there may be young colts romping in the fields and you don't see any of that on the big freeway.
We spend so much of our lives in the car and, I don't know, maybe it's because David died while doing something stupid (driving drunk), but I have become much more aware of my driving habits over the past few years, and I am a much more conscientious driver...a "Sunday driver," if you will.
I heard a report once about how many accidents are caused by people busy doing other things while driving, things that take their eyes off the road briefly which may be the last brief moment of their lives.
Jeri routinely makes cell phone calls while she's driving to and from gigs in Boston, but she's a conscientious user, who has a hands free cell phone and who actually says "I have to stop for a minute and pay attention to this traffic" when things get heavy. It comforts me to know that she seems to be a responsible cell phone user.
In contrast, I have a friend who spends a lot of time in the car and, like Jeri, uses her phone a lot to fill the empty miles while she's driving. Before the recent law went into effect, which means big fines if you're caught using your cell phone while driving, she just used her cell phone while driving. But now that there is a fine involved, she still uses her phone, but holds it in her lap and actually sends and reads text messages while driving. Scares the heck out of me to be sitting next to her, me looking at the cars ahead of us, and her looking down trying to read a text message.
There is something very compelling about having a phone ring while you're in the car. Somehow you just have to answer immediately. My way of dealing with it (since I don't have hands free equipment) is to let the phone ring and then pull off at the next offramp and check the number of the call I missed. It may mean that the conversation has to take place 3 minutes later than the original call, but I comfort myself by thinking that I have a better chance of not causing an accident while I'm trying to manipulate the cell phone and drive at the same time.
We are a nation of instant gratification. We don't want to wait a single minute. We don't want to take time to smell (or look) at the roses...we want to race through the highways so we get to our destination a few minutes sooner, even if there is no reason to arrive at the destination sooner. We want to answer every cell phone call or text message instantly, not wait for the next offramp, no matter how many lives we may be putting in jeopardy.
It just seems to me that life would be so much better, and we would have so many fewer accidents, if we slowed down a bit and enjoyed the view...without having to call your BFF to describe it to her at the same time!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
A friend mentioned that her grandchildren will be turning 16 this year and will be getting cars soon. She didn't say that their parents would be buying them cars, but I assume that is what is going to happen. That seems to be what happens to a lot of kids, getting cars from their parents when they become of driving age.
I admit that I always feel a little envious about kids having their own cars. I never had a car of my own. It's not that I ever went without access to a car. I drove my parents' car when I was living at home. I don't remember my peers having cars that their parents bought for them either. We just didn't do that in those days, I guess.
I didn't need a car when I was in Berkeley, and since we've been married, Walt and I have shared cars. For many years we had two cars, a big one for taking the kids everywhere and a little one for when it was just the two of us going and we didn't need a gas guzzler, but there was never a car I could call "mine."
I did, for six weeks, have Walt's 1953 Rambler (which he bought for himself) when he was in boot camp for the Air Force reserves, before we were married.
(We drove it leaving our wedding reception, but
did not drive it all the way to Canada for our honeymoon!)
That car hated me. It purred whenever Walt got behind the wheel, and it fell apart whenever I got behind the wheel. The most drunk I ever was was after a particularly bad episode with the car. I had taken it to a brake shop to get something minor done. They recognized a rube when they saw one and managed to talk me into a very expensive, very unnecessary repair, which took all of my savings. Walt called from Texas to yell at me. "What are you doing to my car?" was the first thing he said to me.
After that conversation, I was so upset that I got very drunk. I was ushering for a Kingston Trio concert on campus that night and have no recollection of how I got there or how I got home. All I remember is trying to stand upright in the auditorium and being so dizzy I think I just left. But though I drove the car for six weeks, it was always Walt's car, never mine.
We never gave our kids cars either. When you're a kid growing up, you have this vision of all the wonderful things you're going to do as a parent, and when you become a parent and the financial reality hits, you realize that you can't do all those things after all. So when our kids got cars, of necessity they were vehicles they bought themselves. Before that they drove the family van, "The Jolly Green Giant" and Walt warned them that they should be sure to do everything right because we had the only van like it in town and everybody recognized our van, so if they were doing something they shouldn't be doing, we would eventually hear about it! (One of the perks of living in a small-ish town, which Davis was in those days.)
Jeri has always been a bike person, even now that she lives in Boston, but she eventually bought herself a truck when she decided to move back east to go to school. It's a 1989 Toyota pickup she bought in 1997 ("before trucks had names"). She has driven it back and forth across the country a couple of times and still drives now.
Ned and his friend Greg bought a car together after Ned graduated from high school. We told Ned to be sure that there was insurance on the car before he got behind the wheel. He assured me there was. But there wasn't. The insurance had recently lapsed and so when the brakes failed and Ned caused a 3-car collision (thank goodness there were no injuries!), we insisted that he had to pay the bill himself.
Paul didn't buy his own car, but he inherited my father's orange Pinto station wagon when he died. I don't remember if that was because he was the only kid without a car when my father died or whether my father had specifically left it to him, but somehow that car became Paul's and was as much of a laughing stock as Walt's Rambler was when he was Paul's age. What 18 year old kid has a Pinto station wagon, of all things? Like our "Jolly Green Giant," it was quite recognizable in this town!
Tom's first car was a truck he rebuilt himself. I wrote recently about Tom and his truck and how I would come home each day and find Tom with the truck in the carport, parts all around him, and a "how to" book open nearby, looking like I would look if I were in the kitchen testing out a new recipe. I wrote about how proud I was of him when he got it all put together and turned the key on and the damn thing worked. He has since told me how badly the truck ran, but I'm still proud thinking about his ability to take apart a motor and put it back together, with only a few pieces left over, and have the thing actually work. I couldn't do that if my life depended on it!
Dave bought a car from a friend and ran it into a ditch within the first month that he had it. Then he got the bright idea that he might be able to find a car like it to use for spare parts so he could fix it. Not only did he find a car like it, he found a car exactly like it. Same model, same year, even the same color. He had both cars parked in the driveway while he worked to use the non-working car to fix the banged up car. Again, something I wouldn't dream of doing. (David later inherited a very old Toyota that my mother and her husband had bought for a Dutch relative who was staying with them for 6 months. They called it "The Tomato Can" and we moved it here after he died. Adding insult to injury, the car was broken into and the new stereo system ripped out of it two days after his funeral.)
I wonder if we do a disservice to kids by buying them a car. I wonder if they appreciate it more if they have to work to be able to afford the car and they learn about insurance by having to pay the consequences when they get into trouble without it. At least that was the way we felt about it.But I'll admit that if someone had given ME a shiny new car (or even a shiny USED car) when I turned 16, I certainly would have been excited about it!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It was a gorgeous spring morning. The sky was a beautiful blue, the clouds were white, shimmery and fluffy. I left the house early this morning for my final post-op appointment with the eye doctors. On the drive home I was feeling very good. My appointment with the optometrist (who was quite friendly, as opposed to the ophthalmologist, who is the great stone face) went well. He said that I really didn't need new glasses, unless I wanted to change the prescription very slightly. I told him I was happy with what I have--so I don't need to spend money on new glasses.
Then I saw the ophthalmologist, who gave me the all clear. Don't need to use the eye drops any more and he doesn't need to see me again. He shook my hand and wished me a "good life" and told me to come back to see the optometrist next year.
I will follow his advice. I've been seeing the optometrist in Davis for many, many years and like him, but after this scare, where he gave me all the wrong information, I don't trust him any more and since I liked the guy in Sacramento, I'll switch to him in the future.
It was such a glorious spring day and the blossoms were out everywhere.
I hadn't had time for breakfast before I left home so, since this is Mardi Gras, and the tradition on "fat Tuesday" is to have pancakes, I stopped at a waffle house and had a waffle (a pancake with holes in it, right?) and then started on the road home.
To get from Sacramento to Davis, you cross the Yolo Causeway, that goes over the Yolo Bypass, where all the water from Folsom Dam goes if the level of the dam ever gets too high. It's a multi-purpose area that is a bird sanctuary, a rice paddy, and, when the standing water has dried, they sometimes plant crops like corn there. It's where we watched millions of bats flying off at night to search for bugs. As you come off the causeway, there is a little-used frontage road that I used to take frequently, but hadn't taken in a long time. It runs along between the highway and the railroad tracks and is a slower paced road than the freeway. This was a slower paced day, so I decided to take it again.
With the deteriorating infrastructure in California, the wear and tear on the frontage road was much more evident than the last time I drove it. It was patched all over the place, but I didn't see any big holes until I drove into one. As I bounced out of it, I heard the unmistakable, sickening sound of a flat tire.
I pulled over to check the tire and, sure enough, it was flat as a pancake (appropriate on Pancake Tuesday).
A car pulled up alongside me and a man with a hook on the end of his arm, instead of a hand, told me that he had hit that same pothole yesterday and it blew out both his front and back tires and that he had seen another car yesterday which had the same problem.
I called AAA (NOTE TO MY MOTHER: This is why you carry a cell phone!!) and just as I had finished talking with the dispatcher, a highway patrol car pulled up. I told the officer what happened and he drove off to check the pothole. Then another highway patrol car pulled up behind me to sit there until the AAA truck arrived. Fortunately, I had a book with me, so after I'd taken photos and made a video (of course!), I sat in the car and read until the AAA truck pulled up. The guy jumped out saying "You hit the pothole, eh? You're my second car today."
By the time he was fixing the tire, I had the AAA truck parked in front of me and both Highway Patrol cars parked behind me.
One AAA truck and 2 police cars just to take care of me!
I went to ask one of the Highway Patrol offcers whom I should call to file a report. He said that it was a county road, not a city road and that he had placed a report and that they would be out within the hour to patch the hole. He also explained that the road had been patched many times and when we had heavy rains, like we did this weekend, it seeped in under the patches and caused the potholes. He said that since I was driving the speed limit, I was more prone to being caught in the hole and that when he came along here he was usually driving too fast and so he didn't get caught, but he hastened to let me know that I should continue to drive the speed limit, not drive fast in the hope of avoiding pot holes.
All in all, it was kind of a nice little adventure. Walt had told me a couple of days ago that we were going to have to replace our front tires, so it's not like we suddenly have this unexpected expense. Neither I nor the car were damaged. I got to sit by the side of the road on a lovely day and do nothing but read...and, best of all, I can read now!Coulda been worse. Life is good.