Showing posts with label car. Show all posts
Showing posts with label car. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jack Bauer Lives

Dan Brown's newest book, "Inferno" came out today.   The only reason I know that (other than the interview on The Today Show this morning) was that when it was announced back in February, I pre-ordered it on Amazon and my first e-mail this morning was to tell me that Amazon had charged my credit card and delivered the book to my Kindle.

The timing was right.  I had just finished reading "A Little Princess," "Cannery Row" and "Along the Way," the book by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez about the making of the film, The Way.  I was ready for a nice meaty blood and gore book.  I had read a short mystery at Logos last week, but it was light weight, not on a par with the likes of Michael Connely, David Baldacci or Dan Brown.  I packed up the book to take with me to Supercuts.

I was months overdue for a haircut and I usually have to wait some time for an available cutter, so I figured I would jump into "Inferno" while I wait, but there were no customers before me, so I didn't have the opportunity. But I finally got all of my hair chopped off.

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It was fun driving the new car around.  I even managed to (a) make a phone call using the voice activation feature, (b) store phone numbers in the speed dial, and even (c) get a photo uploaded to the screen of the dashboard.

In the afternoon, I worked at Logos and decided that though I feel it's cheating to read a Kindle in a book store, I really wanted to get into the new Dan Brown.  It's been slow at the store the last few weeks, possibly due to the changing seasons, students preparing for finals, or negative vibes in the air.  Whatever the reason, it was a good day to plunge back into the world of iconologist Robert Langdon.   I had only 6 customers who bought books the whole afternoon, and nobody noticed (or commented) on my reading a Kindle.

I'm not quite half through the book at this writing and I'm having a hard time knowing what to say about it.  Brown is one of those authors who hits you with the first sentence and draws you in instantly, and this book is no exception. No real spoilers here, but the book starts with Langdon in the hospital, barely comatose, with a bullet wound across his head, a splitting headache, attached to IVs, and with partial amnesia. He thinks he's at home, but doesn't know how he got to Florence, Italy. 

Within a couple of pages, killers are running through the hospital, hellbent on killing him, his doctor has gotten him out of bed, ripped the IV from his arm and dragged him down the hospital stairs and through the streets of Florence.  It was like watching an episode of 24, where hero Jack Bauer was not stopped by anything, not even cardiac arrest, after which in a matter of seconds following resuscitation by defibrillator, he is beating up all the bad guys to save the country.

The the Brown book, Langdon is running through streets, leaping tall buildings in a single bound, ills forgotten.  The first 30% of the book is about 95% chases, as both the good guys and the bad guys are out to get Langdon for reasons he doesn't understand because he still has partial amnesia.

I'm not sure how I'm feeing about this book, but seem to recall that once you get into the meat of a Dan Brown story you are hooked.  I'm a little tired of chases, but I am into the story and I hope that I can give it a better review when I finish it, which I should do soon (though I'll be taking the car on its shakedown cruise today, as I drive to Santa Barbara, so I don't know when that is going to be).

The afternoon at Logos was quiet, but during part of it, I was chatting with a nice girl who works one day a week, straightening up the books, dusting, and acting as greeter.  She's very sweet, but perhaps mild mental impairment and the last time I worked with her she smiled a lot but we never talked.  Today I asked her how long she'd been working at the store and she came to sit with me and we began chatting.  It turns out she is about to go to Spain with her mother and they are going to walk part of the Camino de Santiago.  Now, if I had not seen the recent Martin Sheen movie and read "Along the Way," I wouldn't know anything about it, but having both seen the movie and read the book I knew quite a bit about it and we had a very nice chat.

In the evening, I dove back into the Dan Brown book while watching the Dancing with the Stars results show.  I had great plans for the evening, including getting all packed for the drive to Santa Barbara today, but I'm discovering that at 70, my ability to stay awake and do all those things I planned to do late at night is grealy diminished.  I ended up unable to keep my eyes open and my body screaming for me to lie down and get some sleep (to say nothing of the dogs who insisted on it).   Instead, I went to sleep until 3:30 and then got up to write this and pack.

I'm feeling guilty that Walt is staying home to dog sit and that I get the fun of taking the new car for its shake down cruise, but I'm looking forward to Bri's dance show tomorrow night and will take lots of pictures for Grandpa to see.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Our Day in Lots of Pictures

If I had known how our day was going to go, I would have remembered the camera, but at least I had the cell phone camera. I thought we were just going to look at a few cars, with the idea in mind of what kind of car we wanted to buy.   Walt is the kind of guy who will shop in 3 different stores to get the best price on a used book, if possible, and then worry that he spent too much.

We had an appointment to meet a guy named Fred at the Honda dealership, where we got our present car 15 years ago, at 10 a.m. and we were a little early, so I settled in with a cup of coffee and Walt wandered around.

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Eventually Fred came in and asked a couple of questions about what color car we were looking for and what model.  Walt said we had liked our Accord and he thought we'd like a light color rather than a darker color.  I added "Not champagne" since we've been driving a champagne car for 15 years and I was ready for a change.

He took us outside to show us a 2013 silver Honda Accord.

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Walt was definitely intrigued, so we went back into Fred's office where he started taking down information.  This being Davis, when he found out I was a theater critic, he mentioned a friend of his who performs with a local theater group and asked if I knew him.  I knew his name. 

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Walt liked the 2013 model because this year Honda has added the reverse camera, so common on the Prius and that was the main attraction of a new vs "previously owned" car.  Eventually, after they offered us a $375 trade-in on our old car (the one with the "tired motor" and nearly 300,000 miles) and we closed the deal and when I posted this picture to Facebook, I heard from two people, both of whom knew Fred and said he was a nice guy -- we hadn't even signed the contract yet.

Next we met with Natalie, who is very cute, mother of 4, and such a good salesperson she sold us the "platinum" package of coverage.  She was unimpressed with our mere 300,000 miles and told us about a customer whose car went over a million miles (he was given a watch and a letter of congratulations by Honda).

We signed lots and lots of papers.

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...including one which was very, very long.

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Eventually, with handshakes all around and a nice fat debt in our pocket, we met Fred in the car again and he gave us a lesson on all the goodies.

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It all looked very exciting.

Then we transferred everything from the old car to the new car..

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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.

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We went out to lunch when it was all over, to celebrate (because we probably won't afford to eat out for about 8 years now!). We chose a window seat so we could keep an eye on our new baby.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Changes Keep Coming

We've been dealing with "car issues" for the past week or so.  We have a 1995 Honda Accord that I love.  We bought it used (or "previously owned," as the euphemism is these days!) in 2000.  It had nearly 100,000 miles on it at the time, but we had been through two big mileage Toyotas that each made it over 200,000 miles and so the high mileage wasn't a concern for us.

And the Honda has suited us beautifully all these years.  It's comfy.  I love it (did I mention that before?)
But it has developed little quirks.  The light on the dashboard which shows how fast you are going hasn't worked in years.  In fact, I once got pulled over on the freeway one night because I was going too slow!  Who knew that you could go too slow on the freeway?  The only reason I didn't get a ticket was (a) I'm old, and (b) I was getting off at the next exit anyway.

It also has this annoying little quirk where when you are stopped somewhere, like waiting for a light to change, unless you have your foot FIRMLY on the brake, it begins to creep forward.  I always stop back far from the car in front of me because if I'm distracted by something outside, I might not notice that I am slowly about to hit the rear bumper of the other car.  At first it only did this when the air conditioner was running, but now it does it all the time.

And then the other day, the tape player broke.  In order to play my iPod Touch through the car speakers, I plug the iPod into a cord that goes to something that looks like a normal music cassette, I put that in the cassette slot and voila--out comes stuff from my iPod (see, the car is so old, it doesn't have a USB port for that sort of thing!).  I thought it was the cassette itself that was the problem, but I bought a new one and that didn't work either...the carrier just makes clicking sounds and does not move the cassette at all.

For the past couple of years, Walt has rented a car if we are traveling long distances, because he was trying to be gentle with the Honda.  He also likes trying out new models of cars, with an eye for what we might get when the time came.   I would still take the Honda to my mother's, but we always rented a car to go to Santa Barbara. Last week, I drove the Honda for all six of the trips I made to the Bay Area, but this week I had a rental car.

The coup de grace was when the "check engine" light came on.  Walt took it in to the Honda place and they kept it for a day, but couldn't find anything wrong with it, and the "check engine" light was no longer showing, so they sent it home.  But the next day it came on again, so it went back in the shop, where it has been for the past two days.

Tonight it came home.  Walt was reading over the report, which said that the engine was "tired."  I didn't even know that was a technical automotive term!  But yeah, it's tired and we have decided it's time to go car shopping.  If we can hold out two weeks, we will have my mother's Lexus (which has about 20 miles on it, I think, she drives it so seldom) to fill in until late summer when Jeri comes out to drive the Lexus back to Boston. That will give us time to find a good replacement car for the Honda.

We really have only three requirements for a new car -- for me, it has to have a way that I can still listen to Audio books while I drive, and it has to have reliable air conditioning.  Walt insists it has to have a trunk big enough to pack luggage for 4, since we need to put our luggage with Char and Mike's luggage when we go to the San Francisco airport to catch a plane to fly wherever in the world we are flying.

Somehow, with everything else that is going on, this isn't exactly the very best time to have to start thinking about buying a new car, but if we're going to do it soon, I suppose this is as good a time as ever.
So I guess a new or "previously owned" car is in our future (but I'll still be driving a rental to Santa Barbara and leaving Walt at home with either the "tired" Honda or a new car!)

When the car came back today, I quickly drove over to Covell Gardens to drop off the last of the forms needed and to pick up a key to the apartment, so I could go in and take some pictures so my mother could start thinking in terms of what goes where.

Naturally the first key they gave me didn't work and I had to call the handiman (whose name happens to be Paul...I probably won't be forgetting him soon!) to get me a key that works.

I entered the apartment with new eyes, now thinking of what goes where.  I had brought the fridge magnets from her house, and my camera which had the picture of the fridge door on it, and got the first batch of magnets set up in the proper configuration.

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And I took this picture of her neighbors' patio area to give her an idea of how large hers is (they are identical).

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I'll take the pix down to her on Sunday, when Ned is cooking the two of us brunch and we will talk about ... what else? ... moving!


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I have the best internet friends!  My friend Mary Z made these socks for me!
They are so comfortable!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Must Come a Time - 70

I don't know who pays attention to the different smiley faces that I use in the camera of the title logo each month, but this month I've replaced the smiley with a 70, done in a scary font, because this is the month when I shall turn 70.   When I turned 69, I couldn't believe that I would soon be 70...the first zero-age in my life that had the potential of being traumatic for me.  

But I've made a project out of it, starting the "My 70th year" blog, with photos from every day (with one exception) of this past year.  It's been a fun project but, in truth, it will be wonderful not to have to think of a photo every day.  17 more days and I will end that project. 

Talking about being 70 for the whole year, and telling people, like my mother does, that I am almost the year that is coming up rather than the year that I am currently has made it seem like I've been 70 forever, so no more trauma fears for me.

I am happy to report that I am not walking like Abe Vigoda this morning.  My muscles are returning to normal, and I am glad of that.

Walt went and rented a car yesterday, which we will have until Monday, in case car repairs take longer than expected.  We have two trips to the Bay Area coming up and might as well use the rental.  It's a Ford something-or-other and I drove it for the first time today.  I do hate adjusting to new cars.

First there is finding that perfect "fit" for your body.   The seat was so far forward that it trapped my knee under the dash and, as my knee is temperamental anyway, I had to actually stop the car and pull over, get out, and try to figure out how to move the seat back.

I also couldn't figure out how to change the station on the radio. It had presets and there didn't seem to be any way to choose anything that wasn't already set up.  Naturally, the manual was not in the glove compartment (Walt told me later it was in the trunk, where it was a big help.  Not.)  But while pulled over to change the seat, I played around with buttons that seemed logical and I finally did find a way to get the station I wanted.  But it definitely was not intuitive.

Then I couldn't figure out how to turn the lights off and it complained to me when I tried to get out of the car.  I had to actually call home to find out how to do it.  Who knew the controls would be hidden away behind the steering wheel on the dashboard?

I figure that once we have to return it to the rental agency, I will have come to peace with it and have grown to like it, though I will also be very glad to get our own car back again.
Once I'd kinda figured out the new car, I went to the Dollar Store to see what they had that would work for my impromptu Super Bowl party.  Pretty much nothing, unfortunately, but I did get some artificial flowers that are red with yellow centers.  I thought those on a yellow tablecloth I also bought with the yellow and red striped napkins and red plats and yellow bowls might at least make a colorful looking table.

From there I went to the supermarket to see if they had a nice Super Bowl display, but it was kind of pathetic.

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I did get the football tray, but decided that buying a balloon on Thursday for a party Sunday was a bad idea.  We might stop by Nugget on the way out on Sunday and see if the still have a balloon, but I'm not holding my breath.  They did have Super Bowl flowers, though.

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I really liked them, but my artificial flowers cost $2 and will be fine...these cost $12. 
I picked up chicken wings (2 kinds), ranch dressing, nacho cheese dip, ingredients for Chex Mix (I like home made better than store bought) and avocados for guacamole, plus beans for chili.  We will have enough to feed a small Army and my mother hardly eats anything, but what the heck, it will be our dinner for at least one night after the game, and I wanted it to look like a real "party."

Then off to Logos.  I brought a book with me to read, but instead picked up a copy of JFK's "Profiles in Courage" and got engrossed in it.   It's a depressing book on two unintentional levels.  While I know it is designed to showcase heroes of the Senate who, over the 200 years of our country's history, dared to make a difference, but this edition of the book was printed in 1964 and contains a foreword by Robert Kennedy, praising his brother and talking about his own feelings about courage, this Kennedy who would, himself, be dead four years later.   Worse, on the back is an ad for the audio version of this book, read by John F. Kennedy, Jr. At least Caroline Kennedy, who wrote the introduction, is still with us.

I think this is a book that all Americans should read, depressing though I find it.  Kennedy begins with a look at what it's like to be a Senator, and why things are not as cut and dried as we would like them to be.  Quite a detailed look at the life of a Senator.  But in reading it, and in reading the first couple of chapters (I have a lot more to read), the depressing thing is learning that pretty much nothing has changed over the years.  Nothing. What we see today with the fight over gun control is what John Quincy Adams fought in the Embargo against England (ostracized by everyone for that courageous stand, he went on to become President).

My mother is fond of saying "I'm as glad I'm as old as I am..." and the older I get and the more I learn about our history and compare it to our present, the more I, too, am glad I'm as old as I am.  70 will be my friend, not my enemy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How was YOUR Day?

Welcome back from the edge of oblivion.  It was nice to wake up this morning and, you know...wake up this morning.  The world outside looked as grey and wet as it looked when I went to sleep last night.

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

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(dogs protecting us from the evil AAA tow truck)
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Such a sad sight.

The Honda place drove Walt home, and then we sat around all morning waiting for the phone call from the car doctor.  In the meantime, my mother called to say that she woke up this morning with a fever and feeling awful and she thought we should cancel our Christmas celebration tomorrow.  We will probably have a Christmas celebration with her early next month when Jeri is here. (And another with Ned and Marta after that, since they can't get to my mother's mid-week...this may be the never-ending Christmas!)

The Honda place finally called and said that the starter had gone out and they would have to order a new one, but they felt that they could have the car repaired by late tomorrow morning.  All things considered, my mother's sickness may be a blessing in disguise.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Third Death

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 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.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Behind the Wheel

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.

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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.

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(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.

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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

The Perils of Pauline

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.

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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).

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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.

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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.