Ride, Baby, Ride

In the 67 years I have been on this earth, I have purchased four new cars: a Honda Civic (back when they were teeny hatchbacks), a Chevy Nova, a Subaru Legacy station wagon (back when car makers still made really, true station wagons), and a Volkswagen Beetle. The brand new Honda CR-V makes five…..

Isn’t she pretty? I had to fight for the red, believe me. As I mentioned yesterday, according to my car salesman, there was only one red Honda CR-V left in the world, and it was sold. Today, when we met with him to get answers to some more questions, I mentioned that red car was an absolute must-have. No red: deal breaker. What do you think he said? If you guessed let me go talk to my manager and see what I can do, then you guessed exactly right. When he returned a mere 10 minutes later (just enough for him to use the bathroom, wash his hands, and comb his hair) he came back and told me he was able to find a red CR-V at a nearby dealership. In the words of Goober Pyle, “Shazaam shazaam shazaam.”

When I bought my bug, a friend of ours who loved bartering and was very good at it helped us make the deal. This is a man who bartered for everything, including a standing rib roast one year at Christmas. His philosophy was play hard ball, including threatening to leave if you aren’t satisfied with the price. If they let you leave, he said, then you really have hit their bottom price. We got the car for a very good price.

I bought my Nova and my Subaru all by myself. Both times, I found out what price the car buying service offered by our credit union would pay. I then went in and said, “I will pay this much for the car, and not a cent more.” I guess they must have been fair prices, because both times they said okey dokey.

For the first time for both Bill and me, we’re leasing the car. We have always financed, and after paying the car off, we keep it for a very long time. Hence, my beloved 2003 Volkswagen beetle. As we have aged, however, we decided leasing was the way to go. Who knows if we’ll even be able to climb into an SUV in three years? Ha!

Before heading over to pick up the car, I cleaned out my yellow bug. It appears I have been accumulating discarded straws, ketchup packets, receipts, church bulletins, used tissues, and dried-out pens since George W. Bush was president. I thought I had it nailed, but when I pulled into our garage with the new car, I realized I had forgotten the garage door opener. Looks like a trip to visit Sean will be necessary after all.

Given the fact that my Volkswagen beetle had a cassette deck, there will be a steep learning curve when it comes to my audio system. Sean gave me a quick lesson. Frankly, I was so stunned that somehow the radio knew to play my favorite playlist without me telling it to do it, that I missed most of the lesson. And the safety features will also require some education. Every time something beeps, I jump six inches out of my seat.

But, man on man, is there anything like that new car smell?

Yellow Bug

I love my yellow Volkswagen bug. I bought the bug in 2003, and it currently has just over 98,000 miles. Happy miles, with lots of grandkids, and secret telling, and laughing, and bumps, and really bad jokes, and dreaming about the future. Rides to school. Rides to field trips. Rides to work and rides to play. It’s taken me some time to come to grips with the fact that it was time to say goodbye to Nana’s yellow bug…..

Bill and I are ready to buy another car. It’s reached that point where I either have to put a lot of money into the bug or say goodbye, As much as I love my bug, I have to acknowledge that it is noisy and rattles, it gets terrible gas mileage, virtually nothing will fit in it (including more than a couple of grandkids), and the 2003 turbo engine demands very expensive premium gasoline. Despite its low mileage, it isn’t worth much at this point. You know what they say: as soon as you drive a car off the lot….

Yesterday Bill and I dipped our toes in the car buying water by visiting a Honda dealer and test driving a CR-V. I knew I wanted an SUV, because I’m sick of sitting three inches off of the ground and not being able to see if cars are coming towards me when I want to turn. Many moons ago, I had a Honda Civic (back when the Civics were actually very small cars). I liked it very much.

One of the things — perhaps the main thing — that I like about my yellow bug is its color. When I come out of the grocery store or church or a restaurant and can’t remember where I parked, I can immediately see the brightly colored car sitting amidst the black and white SUVs. So as I consider my “must haves” in a new car, the color is just as important as the seat warmers. However, in my opinion, the only cars that should be yellow are taxis and Volkswagen Beetles. So I decided I needed a red car. Honda offers a really pretty red CR-V. According to the salesman, there is only one left in the world..

This brings me to my assertion that car buying is perhaps among the five worst things one must do in one’s life. Right there with doing one’s taxes or cleaning out one’s garbage can. My new bestie (who is named Sean and claims he has no interest in a hard sell) sold pretty hard. He first tried to dissuade me from choosing red by having us test drive a pearl blue CR-V. “What do you think about that color?” he asked me. “Not much,” I responded, “because it’s not red.”

That’s when he assured me that there is only one red CR-V left in, wait, did I say the world? I meant the universe.

“Let me go talk to my manager and we’ll see what we can do,” he said.

As he went to talk to the elusive manager, Bill told me, “We are NOT going to settle. It’s red or dead.” (Well, he didn’t actually say that last part. It was implied.)

That’s when my new bestie returned and gave me my time ultimatum. He might — just might — be able to get me a red CR-V if I buy in the next day or so.

Well, what a shock!

But back to my yellow bug. Sean went out and took a look at my car. He walked around it. He looked inside. He came back in and said, “I don’t know what to say. That car is in exceptional shape.”

Apparently not exceptional enough to matter much for the trade-in value.

When I sold the house where Court and I lived for a number of years following my divorce, I literally cried at the closing. So hard, in fact, that the buyer kept saying, “I promise I’ll take good care of it.” I’m afraid I might shed those same tears when I drive away from my yellow bug.

Or, as the grands always call it: Nana’s Yellow Bug.

It’s a Tradition

Tradition. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as… as a fiddler on the roof! – Fiddler on the Roof

Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I like traditions. In a world that’s often shaky at best, traditions keep a person grounded. That’s true, at least, for me. That’s why when Court’s dad and I split up, I tried very hard to keep our Christmas traditions the same for Court and me. We went out and bought a live Christmas tree. When we got home, I tried to cut off a bit of the bottom like my husband had always done. Unfortunately, I was using a completely inadequate tool, and ended up crying and saying words that poor 5-year-old Court should not have had to hear. And trying to get the tree up into a stand didn’t work as well as expected. Needless to say, the next year I went out and bought a artificial tree and a new tradition was born.

Many of us try to carry on the traditions of our childhood. For example, my mother always made prime rib for our New Year’s Day dinner. Despite the fact that beef is traditionally served at Christmas, my mother proudly served her roast beast a week later. And so, that’s what I did. From the time I took over hosting New Year’s dinner, I served prime rib on New Year’s Day. There were many years when our kids were young adults who looked green and queasy at the dinner table, having celebrated a little too much on New Year’s Eve. Still, the prime rib took center stage on our dinner table.

Bill always took his kids to the Peck House in Empire, Colorado, on Christmas Eve. It was an hour drive, and often in bad weather; nevertheless, like Santa Claus, a Peck House dinner meant Christmas Eve. Once Bill and I became a couple, Court and I joined them. We spent 15 Christmas Eves at the Peck House. And then one year they turned us down be cause they didn’t take reservations for 10. No exceptions. And we had 10 people. So that tradition ended. From then on, we tried different restaurants, but it never was the same.

The thing about traditions is that they can’t be changed. Tweaked, maybe, just a bit. But the basic tradition foundation must be the same. The Pandemic of 2020/21 kicked many traditions right where it hurts. Take our Mother’s Day tradition, for example. For nearly 20 years, Bill and I have joined my sister Jen and her son B.J. at the Greenbriar Inn in Boulder for Mother’s Day brunch. The restaurant served a amazing brunch. We would spend several hours enjoying the wonderful offerings.

Of course, Mother’s Day 2020 was spent quarantining in our very own homes, hovering behind masks, and waving to our loved ones on Facetime. No brunch. It was only one other tradition in a list of traditions that was set aside. But on Mother’s Day 2021, Americans are starting to tentatively venture out into real life once again. And so did we. Once again Bill and I made our way to the Greenbriar Inn, where we met Jen and B.J. The tradition had to be tweaked, of course, since buffets are currently on the no-go list. But we enjoyed food from a wonderful brunch menu, and enjoyed each other’s company even more. Our stomachs filled, and this was what was left at the end of the meal…..

I love traditions. Especially when they include food and family.

Saturday Smile: Spring Has Sprung

One never quite knows when Spring will arrive in the Rockies. This year, it must have arrived on April 30. Here’s how I know…..

This, my friends, is what my garden looked like the day we got back to Denver from our time in AZ. In the past, we have come just a few days too late. This year, despite the fact that we came at the same time, spring had sprung. I kid you not, the next day they were already wilting and fading.

Those spring flowers made me smile.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: The Sanatorium

Picture this: You’re at a fancy hotel in an isolated town located in the Swiss Alps. It starts to snow, and soon turns into a blizzard. An avalanche prevents anyone from getting in or out of the hotel. All of this sounds bleak enough, but then people start being killed.

Sound like And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie?

Well, no one can compare to Ms. Christie, but author Sarah Pearse does a darn good job of tell a chilling tale in her debut novel, The Sanatorium.

Elin is taking a break from her job as a London police detective to meet her brother and his fiance at a brand new minimalist hotel outside of the ski village of Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Her brother Isaac and his fiance Laure are celebrating their engagement. The hotel was formally a sanatorium for people with TB, but has long been vacant.

Elin and her brother Isaac have been estranged for some time because Elin blames Isaac for the drowning death of their brother. She agrees to meet them in Crans-Montana to give him a chance to explain exactly what happened. Elin’s boyfriend Will joins her.

It isn’t long before one of their party is lost while skiing, and evidence points to her being pushed off the side of the mountain. A short time later, an avalanche surrounds the area with snow and prevents anyone from coming or going, including the police. Out of necessity, Elin — using her detective experience — begins to investigate.

But then more people are killed, one by one, and it has to be one of their party who is the murderer. Could it be Isaac?

There is just the right amount of creepiness in the hotel, with its retched history, its stark decor, and the blizzard separating them from the rest of the world. Pearse’s writing is as stark and creepy as the hotel itself. The author made the reader feel the cold as well as the fear that they might be the next victim. I felt like there were a few too many side stories, and that took away from what is a great mystery.

All in all, I recommend the book.

Here is a link to the book.

Thursday Thoughts

May the Fourth Be With You
Our youngest grandchild, Cole Jonathan, turned 7 on Tuesday. That’s nearly impossible to believe. He, of course, was delighted that it was his birthday. He got lots of treats, including a break from school lunches to go out with Dad and Mom. Papa Bill and I went over in the evening to give him our gift and to eat birthday cake. There is almost nothing cuter than watching a little kid when the birthday song is being performed for him or her. He took great care blowing out his candles, perhaps aware of the danger of the COVID virus. Happy birthday Cole!….

When it Rains, It Pours
Today we got a break from the rain, but it’s supposed to come again this weekend. We had the nicest rain on Monday. It never actually poured, but all day long, a gentle rain fell. The temperatures have been cool, but by Friday or Saturday, we will once again be in the 80s. I heard on the weather news last night, that this has been the wettest year in 77 years. Yay rain.

Mother’s Day Deadline
Mother’s Day is the informal start of the planting season. In fact, Mother’s Day itself is the craziest day to try and buy plants. It seems that’s what many do as a Mother’s Day activity. My plan is to go to my favorite nursery this afternoon and buy at least a couple of tomato plants. Last year I waited until after Mother’s Day, and the tomatoes were quite picked over. I won’t plant them outside yet, as our weather forecaster suggested it’s possible we will get cold and snow even after Mother’s Day this year, but I will care for them carefully in the house until they can go to their outside home.

Squirrly
The battle with the squirrels begins. I filled my bird feeder on Monday. To my delight, I have had a number of little birds — chickadees I think — visiting the feeder. Yesterday morning, I caught my nemesis — Mr. Squirrel — climbing the pole that holds the feeder. I chased him away, and sprayed Pam on the pole. My hope is that the squirrel is unable to get to the top because he will keep sliding down. At the end of the day, however, the squirrels always win.

Ciao.

Whirlwind

I had lunch yesterday with our 18-year-old granddaughter Adelaide. Sushi, of course. Spending time with Addie gives me insight into what Dorothy Gale felt like when the tornado picked up her house and sent it on its journey to Oz. Windswept!

After considering (and being accepted by) many university alternatives, Addie has finally made a decision to attend the alma mater of her parents — Colorado State University in Fort Collins. We grandparents are breathing a collective sigh of relief, both because she seems so at peace with her decision and because she will be close to home. It’s hard to imagine a life without Addie.

Addie’s first birthday. These days she prefers sushi to cake. And she eats a little neater.

Yesterday when she picked me up, she had just finished a calculus test. Most high school seniors who have already decided on a college and been accepted would not be worrying about how she did on the test. If you think that was Addie, then it’s time you think again. I don’t know anyone — adult or teenager — who challenges him or herself more than Addie. She was distraught that she hadn’t done as well on the test as she had hoped.

Does this test really matter? I naively asked her. Naively, because of course it does when you’re expectations are high. College credit, Nana, she pointed out. I bet she did better than she thinks.

What are you going to do this summer, I asked Addie during lunch. Work, travel, get ready for school, travel, say goodbye to my friends, travel, was her answer. I want to do a lot of traveling this summer before school starts, she said. No kidding.

Addie with her first unauthorized haircut; Addie’s hair recovered.

She and I discussed taking a trip to Vermont together this summer. But when I hear about her summer plans, it’s hard to see where we would fit it in. Somewhere between Florida and Montana perhaps.

Despite my age, I still distinctly remember what it felt like to be leaving for college. I recall being terrified and anticipating homesickness. Addie, thankfully, isn’t a bit like me. She is enthusiastic and fully ready to face her future.

She’s clearly fully ready to face today and tomorrow as well.

First day of kindergarten. She looks ready to face her future already.

Different Parents

My sister told me one time that she and Mom used to take walks together near Lake Babcock in our home town of Columbus. Though I was already in my 60s when she told me about these intimate little adventures she and Mom had together, I reacted like a 5-year-old. At least in my mind. I might have said out loud something like Well, isn’t that so nice through gritted teeth, but inside I was seething. I never went for a single walk alone with Mom. Not Lake Babcock (to which you had to drive); not around our block. No walks for us. None.

I come from a family of four kids, and I am the second oldest. There is five years between Bec and me; Jen and I are four years apart; Dave is the baby, being a mere two years younger than Jen. In case you aren’t familiar with the new Common Core math being taught in today’s schools, that’s 11 years between Bec and Dave.

What occurred to me is that we all had different parents. Oh, stop gasping. Marg and Reinie fathered and mothered all of us. But the truth is, each of us were in our formative years at a different time of Mom and Dad’s lives.

Bec was 5 years old when I was born. Frankly, she couldn’t have been too damn glad to welcome me into the home. She was Mom and Dad’s first-born. She was also the first-born paternal grandchild. She was adorable and smart as a whip. One time Dad and Mom dressed her up in bakery attire, and used the photo as Christmas card. Isn’t that sweet?

And then I came along. Not only did Mom and Dad have a 5-year-old, but the bakery business was going well. That also kept both of them busy. They had an inquisitive kindergartner to handle, and a baby who, though I surely was as cute as the Gerber baby, I still pooped and puked and woke them up in the middle of the night. Four years later, along came Jen, and the window of opportunity for me to go for walks with Mom closed amidst the cries of this premature baby.

And so it went. All of what I’m saying isn’t confined to our family alone. All families face these kinds of realities. Our family was different in that we were all spread so far apart in age.

By time Jen was at an age where it was reasonable to think that she and Mom could enjoy a walk together, Bec was off to college, and I was in high school. If Mom had asked me to go for a walk instead of, say, hang out with my boyfriend, I would have looked like the proverbial deer in the headlights.

Dave’s experience as Mom and Dad’s child was significantly different than that of the rest of his sibs. He started working in the bakery as a kid, as did we all. But his role was different. Dad was teaching him everything he knew about baking. He was passing along his knowledge which he undoubtedly hoped Dave would absorb. Dave did, in fact, absorb it, and went on to be the outstanding baker he is today. Mom was in her mid-30s when she had Dave, and was working full-time at the bakery. She also had a two-year-old toddler, who, frankly, wasn’t too happy to have a baby brother.

The truth is, we parent according to our abilities, but also according to our time constraints and, frankly, our age. We look lovingly into the eyes of our fourth-born a lot less than we did our first-born. We are more likely to be looking lovingly at our bed.

I’m happy to say that all of us survived and have become productive and loving adults.

Have a Nice Day and Don’t Grab My Thigh

For the most part, I believe we have done a pretty good job at maneuvering an unanticipated and completely unwanted worldwide pandemic. By we, I’m including local communities, restaurants, professional businesses, churches, gyms, grocery stores, and most of Johnny and Jane Q. Public. Many businesses have managed to survive. Churches are reopening, and worshipers are carefully returning to worship as a community. Restaurants have found various ways to survive.

Bill and I flew to Denver on Friday from our Arizona home on Southwest Airlines. Both airports — Phoenix’s Sky Harbor and Denver International Airport — were crazy busy. Still, stores and restaurants were social distancing. Servers were wearing masks. Menus were only available by scanning the little black square. People were trying to the best of their ability to social distance in the waiting areas.

And then we got onto the airplane. There were 143 seats on the plane. Sitting in those seats were a total of at least 143 people. (I don’t know how many babies were sitting on parents’ laps.) The flight attendants kept reminding us that every single seat was sold, so don’t avoid middle seats. I was so close to the man sitting to my left on the plane that I accidentally grabbed his leg as I tried to grab the arm rest when the plane hit turbulence. To his credit, the man (who appeared to be a Southwest airline pilot heading home) didn’t even miss a beat. He just kept looking at his phone. By the way, I also grabbed Bill’s leg at the same time. He, too, didn’t seem to notice.

As we landed, the flight attendant, somehow managing to maintain a straight face, said, “As you are leaving the airplane, please remember to socially distance yourself from the person ahead of you.”

I literally laughed out loud at her words. I had been sitting so close to the people in front of me and behind me that I’m pretty sure I’m now on their Christmas list. The pilot sitting to my left and I are practically engaged. There isn’t a mask in the world that could prevent the virus from spreading with the crowd that existed on our airplane that day.

I imagine that 10 or 15 or 20 years from now, we will look back, and second-guess how we responded. Did it really make sense that we had to wear masks as we walked into a restaurant, but could take them off as soon as we sat down? Why can’t I go to my granddaughter’s high school graduation, but I can sit literally inches from others on a plane? Ours is not to reason why.

Still, I’m sighing with relief at the fact that we are making progress at returning to a normal life.

Here is a link to a You Tube video about Corona logic that my sister Jen sent me that makes me laugh every time I watch it….

(41) 2021 Covid Logic – YouTube

Saturday Smile: Do You Think His Name is Brutus?

We flew back to Denver yesterday. As we waited for our flight at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, I saw something that made me laugh out loud. Also waiting for our flight was this burley-built man with two sleeves of tattoos. Peeking out of his pack was a little dog. I was so surprised that I asked the man what kind of dog it was. He told me it was a Maltipoo. It even made me laugh to hear him say that word.

I love when I run into someone who puts all cliches aside, and does his/her own thing…..

We’re safely back in Denver.

Have a great weekend.