Tag Archives: Driving

An Ordinary Tuesday

There was no reason to panic, just because Dad had disappeared shortly before he was supposed to “walk me down the aisle.”

“Find Beth,” I said to Mom, who was there in the church’s multifunction room that was functioning as the bride’s dressing room.

Beth had been my problem solver for nearly three decades by the time I was getting married. And she’d never let me down.  Beth could calm the crazies in me better than anybody I’ve ever known.  Just knowing she was around, made everything OK.

And if you had a splinter or a cut or any injury at all?  Go to Beth.  That was true long before she became a nurse who treated premature babies.  If ever there was someone with nursing in their DNA, it was Beth.

Surely Beth could find Dad, who’d gone for a walk, and get the keys to the car from him.  Because, while I’d gotten my wedding dress out of the car, everything else I expected to wear, beginning with my underwear, was locked in the trunk.  And the keys were in absent Dad’s pocket.

Fast forward to 2009.  July 4th was just days away, John, Jacob and I were in Maine, and I was in a panic.  My eldest brother, Bob, had just been taken to the hospital.

For a decade approaching holidays had terrified me.  I suffered from “heortophobia”the fear of holidays.   Well, my heortophobia had a twist:  It wasn’t simply a fear of holidays.  Nope.  For me, it was a perfectly logical terror of illness at holidays.  Someone else’s illness.  Because If anybody I cared about had so much as a sniffle, well, they were gonna die.

As you may have heard 4,327 times, my family members have a nasty habit of dying on holidays.  They’ve hit the all big ones — In order of occurrence:  Thanksgiving.  Easter.  My birthday.  Christmas.  Ho ho ho!

So when Bob ended up in the hospital with Independence Day approaching, well, I knew Bob was toast.  The odds, and likely the Gods, were against him.

“He’s not that sick, Lease.”  Beth said.   “You’ve been sicker and survived.”  She’d contacted his doctors, figured out what was wrong, and called to reassure me.  Beth, a nurse, knew this sort of thing. But as a fake medical expert with then six years’ experience, I was learning more and more –enough to make me fear everything, actually .  So naturally, I wasn’t so sure.

“Beth,” I said, through slightly clenched teeth. “It doesn’t matter how serious his illness is.  It’s the dateA HOLIDAY IS COMING.  He’s going to die!”

As the eldest in the family, Beth had been able to calm me down my whole life long.  She didn’t fail this time, either.

“Nobody is going to be able to trump Dad dying on Christmas,” she said, matter-of-factly.  “The Holiday Death Sweepstakes is over, Lease.  Fourth of July?  Pffttt.  Independence Day isn’t even a contender!”

“I HATE holidays,” I moaned, panic starting up again.

“Lease, I’m gonna make you two promises.”  Beth had always kept her promises. “First, Bob will be fine.”

“Mmmm,” I replied, not believing it for a minute.  Still, I started to calm down.

“Second:  When I go, it’ll be on an ordinary Tuesday,” Beth laughed.  “I cross my heart and hope to die, Lease, I will not die on a holiday.  I mean it.  I couldn’t do that to you,” she laughed still harder. At me, not with me.  Had she been nearby, I might have smacked her for ridiculing me.  Hard.

Bob, whose illness wasn’t all that serious, was released before the holiday; his sentence commuted.  I breathed a sigh of relief, let me tell you.

Google Image, Natch

Google Image, Natch

But not for long.

On a Sunday, just over a month later, I called Beth.  We talked nearly every day.  Beth had had a pretty severe stroke two years previously. It affected her kidneys; she had been on dialysis for about two years.  Things hadn’t been going well, and she was more and more discouraged, depressed and disheartened.  More importantly, he hadn’t been feeling well in the last couple of days.

Still, I was surprised when her phone was answered by one of her sons.

“Mom’s in the hospital,” Chris told me.

It was a Sunday, though.  In August.  No holidays in sight.  So while I worried, there was no need to panic right?  Chris promised that he and his brother would keep me informed.

Late Monday morning, Dave, Beth’s eldest son, called me in tears.

“They don’t know if Mom’s gonna make it.”

I rushed home, packed a few things, and got into the car, and headed to Cleveland.

The weather was horrible.  Storms raged — the rain so heavy that I could barely see.  Traffic rushed by or crept along.  Trucks on the Pennsylvania Turnpike flew by at terrifying speeds when traffic moved.  But mostly, the highway was at a standstill, the rain not letting up.  I couldn’t get to Beth, and I couldn’t see to drive.

How much of my impaired visibility was due to my constant tears, and how much to the pouring rain, well, I didn’t know.

Dave called me again in the early evening to let me know that Beth was in a coma; they thought she would make it for another day or so.

So, exhausted I pulled onto an exit just above Pittsburgh, and into the first motel I found, where I collapsed into bed.

Beth’s doctor called me a few hours later.  Beth had taken a turn for the worse.  If I wanted to see her, to be with her, I’d better get back on the road.

I made it in time for Beth to personally deliver that second promise.  She died on an ordinary Tuesday, August 11, six years ago.

With her passing, Beth brought me an unexpected cure of my heortophobia, and even let me laugh at the bizarre trend she ended.

And on the way back?  The weather was clear.  The Pennsylvania Turnpike twists and turns through the mountains.  With each curve I rounded as I drove home, there was a rainbow.  Rainbow after rainbow.  I knew, seeing those colors in the sky, behind every turn, that Beth was comforting me still.

I miss you, Beth.  Oh, and I was the one who spilled nail polish remover on your new dresser in 1967.  Sorry about that.

87 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Anniversary, Church, Crazy family members, Dad, Family, Heortophobia, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Love, Maine, Missing Folks, Oh shit, Shit happens, Sisters

One Badass Broad

In 1973, I went on a field trip with my high school acting group.  To London.  To a week of plays in London’s West End.

Because I was far too cool to be a tourist, I did almost none of the typical tourist things while I was there.  (I was an idiot.  There is a reason folks want to visit the Tower of London, etc.).  There was one exception, though.  I went to Madame Tussaud’s — the famous Wax Museum.  While there, I was still too cool to be impressed by how realistic the wax figures were.  Well, until something happened to really make me smile.

My friends and I had just about finished touring the museum, when we entered the exhibit for The Royals.  From behind me I heard the sweetest voice.

“Mummy!  That’s Our Queen!

A little English boy, no more than four had entered the exhibit.  He wore navy blue shorts and suspenders, and his cheeks were as rosy as a young English boy’s should be.  He lit up the room with his pride.   In his Queen.

“Yes, Darling,” replied his Mum.  “That’s our Queen.”

From Madame Tussaud's Website

From Madame Tussaud’s Website

At that time, Richard Nixon was President of the U.S.  I was quite sure that there was no little boy in my country who would speak with similar pride about Nixon.

The image of that boy comes to mind every time I see Queen Elizabeth.  And I always smile.

Today I read something about the Queen, though, that makes me smile even wider.

The Huffington Post reported a delightful anecdote about a visit from the newly-late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to the Queen’s Scottish castle, Balmoral.  The story was recounted by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who was the British Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  He’d been told the story by both the Queen and the King, and relayed it.

“After lunch, the Queen had asked her royal guest whether he would like a tour of the estate,” wrote Cowper-Coles, who is said to have heard the tale from both Elizabeth and Abdullah themselves. “Prompted by his foreign minister the urbane Prince Saud, an initially hesitant Abdullah had agreed. The royal Land Rovers were drawn up in front of the castle. As instructed, the Crown Prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, his interpreter in the seat behind.”

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah.  Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Queen Elizabeth and King Abdullah. Photo Credit, Associated Press (but I got it from the Huff Post)

Little did Abdullah know, however, that his driver for the day would be none other than Elizabeth herself.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off,” Cowper-Coles wrote. “Women are not — yet — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”

Not to mention a queen who can drive like the wind. According to Cowper-Coles, Elizabeth didn’t just drive the SUV, but rapidly whizzed along the estate’s roads as she chatted, prompting Abdullah to become increasingly anxious.

“Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead,” the diplomat said.

Queen Elizabeth II is one badass broad.  On behalf of drivers of my gender, as well as men far more enlightened than King Abdullah, I bow to you.  I’d curtsey but I’m not that kind of girl.

60 Comments

Filed under Driving, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Stupidity, Traffic

Pretty Please?

Until this morning, I’ve been dreading 2016.

Politics, to me, is a spectator sport.  And so the idea of Hilary (ho hum) v. Jeb (ho ho ho) sounded like it was going to be about as much fun as cribbage.  Watching cribbage.

But this morning, I read that we may have some entertainment value to our next presidential race after all.  Whooeeeee!!!

Mitt Wants to Run Again!!!

And you know what idea he plans to run on?

POVERTY!

Yup.  According to this article in the Huffington Post, Mitt is going to tackle poverty:

Romney, who made a fortune in the financial sector and was cast by Democrats in 2012 as a heartless businessman, wants to make tackling poverty — a key issue for his 2012 vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan — one of the three pillars of his campaign.

Tell us another one! (Google image)

Tell us another one!
(Google image)

I wonder if Ann Romney knows she might have to eat tuna and pasta again.

68 Comments

Filed under 2016, Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Climate Change, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Dogs, Driving, Elections, Farts, GOP, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Politics, Stupidity, Voting

Let it Snow!

It snowed here in the DC area today.

Google Image

Google Image

Snow in DC, well, is where:

(1) Everybody is from somewhere else;

(2)  Everybody has forgotten how to drive in it;

(3) They drive in it anyway; and

(4) They are in front of me going up a hill.

Trust me.  A four hour commute tends to take a bit of the frosting off one’s appreciation of a snowfall.

Still, not everybody cares.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is Washington DC’s favorite son.  Bao Bao, our baby panda.

Nothing less would have gotten most folks in the DC area to stop swearing over the fact that they didn’t plow 4 inches of snow off the roads.

Now that I think of it, next time it snows, I’m heading to the National Zoo!

Google Again

Google Again

88 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Humor, Virginia

Our Groaning Nation

It occurred to me just now that America, the grand experiment in Democracy that began in revolution in 1776, and organized itself under the Constitution in 1789, is no longer in its infancy.

Yeah, I was shocked too!

Of course, at 238 years old, I shouldn’t be.  In fact, growing up should be expected.  We can’t remain babies or even toddlers forever, now, can we? Cute and cuddly was bound to give way to something, well, to something decidedly different.

We want to be like the big kids.  After all, the countries that most of those in power like to believe we all hailed from (legally, natch) have been around for many hundreds of years, some even a thousand years or more.  They’ve done so much stuff that they don’t even bother to put up plaques saying what happened.

Yes, those other countries, they’ve changed, grown, and matured through the ages.  We must too.

And we are.

Which led me to the realization of the entire problem with our country.  With our political family.

SHIT!  America is  a teenager, God help us.

Yup.  We (and the world we lead) are truly fucked.

We have become a nation of petulant fools who can’t think beyond our own immediate needs.

Let’s hope our nation doesn’t wrap itself around a metaphorical tree.

[Elections matter.  We got what too many of us stayed home for.]

*   *   *

The idea for this post came to me when I read Zorbear’s post, Just wasting our money again… featuring  this terrific cartoon

INFRASTRUCTURE

74 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Bloggin' Buddies, Climate Change, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, History, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Law, Science, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Voting

Back with Julie

One week after landing in a hazy, overcast, gray Geneva, Switzerland, I had my very first taste of what I’d moved 3,000 miles to experience.  And it was, of course, magical.

I was alone for the first time in weeks.  Exploring.  John was working, Jacob was safely at his first day of school.  I was on my own, with only our Bernese Mountain Dog, Charlie, for company when it happened.

I was driving down the Route de Divonne when the clouds, at long last, parted.  And there they were – just past the now glistening Lake Geneva — the mountains.  The Alps!  Mont Blanc, with its year-round snowy peak, the highest mountain in Europe. The Alps danced right there — just through my windshield.  I could practically reach out and touch them, taste them, smell their beauty.  It was magical.  Breathtaking.  Inspiring.  Unforgettable.

Google Photo

Google Photo

I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  You know just what I mean, don’t you.  I felt like Julie when she is up there in the mountains all by herself.  When she throws her arms wide and sings with all her heart, The Hills Are Alive, With the Sound of Music.  And they are.  Trust me.  They are.

I slowed down, tried to breathe, tried to memorize the moment and keep it in my heart. Tried to capture the moment forever.  I also tried not to hit another car.

And then, well, something else happened.  From a side street to my left came a small car.  It turned in front of me, pulling behind it a long green open-air trailer.  Neatly stenciled on the back in a lacy, delicate script were these words:

jardin naturel

“Natural Garden,” in French.

On top of that trailer sat the largest pile of steaming cow manure I have ever seen.

Yes, my first solo excursion in the Swiss countryside became a metaphor for life as an ex-patriot living there:  There were moments of majestic beauty that I call “Julie Andrews Moments,” when I was filled with beauty and awe.  When I honestly felt like the luckiest person on earth.

And there was a lot of shit.  These two elements combined with travel to places I never dreamed I’d see, made our time in Geneva the adventure of a lifetime.

 

*     *     *

My bloggin’ buddy, Naomi, a wonderful traveler who actually posts her own pictures and does not cut them from Google, wrote this post about a trip to Switzerland.  Naoimi inspired me to re-post this old, old post.  I wrote it back in the days when you didn’t know me.  When you didn’t realize that some way, somehow, shit is always a metaphor for my life.

And if you ever get the chance to go to Switzerland, do it.  Do not pass GO, do not collect $200 — it’s not worth all that much over there!

Google Photo

74 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Bloggin' Buddies, Driving, Family, Geneva Stories, Huh?, Humor

One Born Every Minute

Just today I realized that I really am a good person.  Nice.  Law-abiding.

It’s true. Because somehow today I did not live out my longest held fantasy.  One that I’ve wanted to enact since childhood.

I will admit that I was close to doing it.  Possibly closer than I have ever been to saying “What the Hell, I’m gonna do it! — Now!  Today!”

I will admit to seriously considering doing it just for the moment when I was struggling to get into the driver’s seat of my car today at lunch time.  The moments.  OK, it took half of my damn lunch hour.

You see, I had an important errand that I had to take care of.

But some asshole had parked so close to my car that I couldn’t even get my purse into the car from the driver’s side.

Did I deserve to be placed in this, ummm, position?  Did I park outside of the white line? No. I was parked just fine, thank you very much.  Parked within the designated parking spot.  Straight.  Did I mention that I was well within the white lines on both sides of my car?  Well I was.

I did not deserve to be treated in such a manner.

So when I realized that without liposuction, a detention in a concentration camp or a colonic, there was no way in hell I could get to the driver’s seat from the driver’s side.  I was annoyed, I stood there for minutes with my hands on my hips, glad there were no children milling about to increase their vocabulary.

But I had no choice; I had to go. So I walked to the passenger side of the car, to climb into the driver’s seat. I soon realized that the driver’s seat was as close to the steering wheel as vehicularly-possible.  I realized that I was also not supposed to exert myself following my surgery.

Did I mention that it was important that I go?

So I struggled to get my body into the driver’s seat without a cerebral hemorrhage.

Somehow, I managed.

The cerebral hemorrhage happened when I carefully backed out of my parking spot, and realized two things:

  1. There were 24.5 parking spots in that section of the parking lot alone, and five floors of empty parking spots on the floors above us; there was no reason for someone to park in such an assholic/inconsiderate manner.
  2. The car sported a special license plate.

Instantly, I started fantasizing. Within a heartbeat, I was transported back in time. Teleported to the very first movie I remember watching.

I was very young.  Young enough to be crabby that my brother, Bob, had control of the TV.  Annoyed that he was watching a movie instead of cartoons.  Annoyed enough to forget that as long as the TV was on I didn’t really care what was showing.  (I had, just that morning, been watching the test pattern.)

The movie was brilliant, and I have never watched the test pattern since.  It was called

If I Had A Million

 It was a compilation of a bunch of sequences where various characters were given a million dollars that they could spend however they chose.  It later became the TV series “The Millionnaire” where a wealthy man would give people $1 million as long as they didn’t tell where it came from.

Anyway, in the move If I Had A Million, WC Fields’ lady-friend Mary had just had her new car ruined by what we would today call an “asshole,” but who was then called a “Road Hog.” When WC Fields and Mary Boland  got their million, they knew just what to do:

They bought a bunch of old clunker cars, and whenever there was a road hog around, they would ram their clunker into him, causing the jerk to totally wreck his own car, along with theirs.  But that didn’t matter, because that was why WC and Mary had bought those old clunkers!

They did this repeatedly.  And it has been my fondest wish since I was about six years old, to be able to do that to the bad drivers, the folks who cut people off, who weave and edge and drive dangerously.

Revenge would be so sweet!

But in spite of being a wise ass, I am not an asshole. I did not smash the car that parked so inconsiderately. I did not accidentally-on-purpose run my keys along the $60,000 Audi Q7 SUV. I did not even spit in its general direction.

It was especially challenging because I realized that the owner is represents everything I hate. I realized that I’d seen him before, changing lanes discourteously.  He (and yes, it was a he) had an overpriced car that he drove like he owned the road.  And those specialty license plates?

Photo Credit:  VA DMV Website

The Asshole was A Tea Partier! Photo Credit: VA DMV Website

 

And I realized that I really needed to feel sorry for the dumb rich guy.  You see, this genius paid extra taxes to the Commonwealth of Virginia so that he could protest paying taxes.

Photo Credit:  izquotes.com

Photo Credit: izquotes.com

82 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Campaigning, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, Disgustology, Driving, Elections, GOP, Huh?, Humor, Hypocrisy, Taking Care of Each Other, Taxes, Virginia, Wild Beasts