Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend, while Bill was helping people put on helmets so they could drive around a racetrack, one of the things I did was go to see the movie Beauty and the Beast. I loved the movie so much. It was spectacular, totally riveting. I have seen the Disney animated version and I have seen the play on Broadway (literally!). The movie is a nice blend of the two versions. The acting and music were impressive. I couldn’t help but cry. Two particular things struck me that day. First, as I was paying for my movie, I noticed a couple about my age, and I heard the husband request, “Two seniors for Beauty and the Beast.” I couldn’t stop myself. I went up to the couple and said to the woman, “I can’t believe you were able to get your husband to come to this movie.” She laughed, and told me, “We take turns choosing the movie, and it was my turn.” The husband shrugged good-naturedly. The second thing that struck me is that I am very glad that circumstances resulted in me being unable to take Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole to that same movie during our recent trip back to Denver. There were scenes that were darnright scary. Snarling wolves. A very mean Beast until he mellowed out. I think Kaiya and Cole would have been fine. Mylee would have FREAKED OUT.

Before Jen left to go back to Colorado during her last trip to AZ, she left a six-pack of little cans of Pepsi, and asked me to make sure there were always two cans in the refrigerator for whenever Lilly and Austin stopped by. They full-out know that the cans of soda are there waiting for them. Yesterday, I got a call from my niece Maggie who asked if I could watch the two kids for a couple of hours between the time she left for work and Mark would be able to pick them up. I had absolutely nothing to do, so I said yes. As soon as they walked in the door, they reminded me that they had cans of pop awaiting them. At the same time, their mom gave me a package of red vines that she was allowing the two kids to split as a treat. It didn’t take long before this happened……

Who knew that Red Vines could be straws as well as candy?

Writing More Better
I have been on hold for literally months for a book at the Mesa Public Library. A romance novel? No. A mystery? Uh-uh. A historical novel? Not a chance. It is called On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, by William Zinsser. I am in 7th heaven. It is a primer for writing and editing. I love to write, and it is my sincere hope that I write reasonably well. But I want to write even better. The first few chapters have been about tight writing and not cluttering up your writing with unnecessary words. I’ll bet if I read this post very carefully (which I won’t), I could remove dozens of unnecessary words. As French philosopher Blaise Pascal said: If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.

Pretty Cars
I have mentioned on several occasions that we see lots of pretty refurbished cars around our area. I guess there are a lot of retired people who have spent a lot of time and money to make an old car purr like new car. I was shopping the other day, and there was a random car show taking place in the parking lot. I’m not particularly a car lover, but the cars were pretty enough to make me stop and look and shoot a few pictures…..

Guys just wanna have fun.



Is It Noisy in Here, or Is It Just Me?

Anyone who has had more than a three-minute conversation with Bill any time since early January knows that this past weekend was devoted to car racing. Bill has been beside himself with excitement for what transpired at Phoenix International Raceway April 7, 8, and 9, and couldn’t curb his enthusiasm.

And for good reason, because the way Bill spent the last few days is a dream come true for a car racing fan.

It all started when he received a Christmas gift from Dave and Jll for a ride-along in an Indie car at PIR. You might recall that last Christmas he received a similar gift from them, only that time it was a NASCAR ride-along. He had such a good time last year that it was no wonder he so eagerly awaited the Indie car ride.

Bill has a way of figuring out how to make a fun activity even more fun. In his Bill-like way, he learned that the NASCAR Experience (which is the company that offers the ride alongs) offered the opportunity to DRIVE either an Indie car or a NASCAR for eight minutes by yourself in exchange for providing slave labor for three days for NASCAR Experience.

Only here’s the thing. For Bill, it wasn’t slave labor at all; rather, though it was indeed hard work, it was a labor of love. Getting to be around race cars and racing fans, being able to shoot the breeze with people who get just as excited as he does at seeing the blur of cars go by and hearing the nearly deafening noise of the cars, and talking to new friends about Chase Elliott’s chances this year all made him a happy man.

In fact, he was so excited about his racing plans that he bought my brother, who loves NASCAR as much as Bill, a NASCAR ride along.

Friday and Saturday I did little more than drop him off at the race track before heading to the hotel room that we obtained so that he didn’t have to make the hour-and-15-minute drive twice a day for three days. I’ll take reading by the pool drinking a gin and tonic over talking about Dale Junior’s chances at taking it all this year with strangers any day of the week. While Bill helped men and women of all ages into race cars, I saw Beauty and the Beast. He came home smelling like exhaust fumes; I came home smelling like buttered popcorn.

But I did have the opportunity when I dropped him off on Friday morning to meet one of his co-volunteers. Surprisingly, she was a young woman in her late 20s or early 30s who is a big racing fan. Lavinia was born in Romania, but came to the United States when she was 5. Having lived in Chicago much of her life, the only trace of an accent she had was a Chicago twang. And in the It’s-a-Small-World Department, she lived only a hop and a skip from where Bill lived much of his Chicago life.

Lavinia and Bill

As we talked, I learned that she is well traveled, and makes frequent trips back to Europe. She told us about a recent trip she took to Paris, and how this particular visit was exceptionally exciting because it was on Bastille Day. She talked about how much energy the city had because of the holiday, and how she enjoyed the fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.

“Wasn’t there a terror attack in France that took place last Bastille Day?” I asked, being such a student of current events.

“Yes,” she said. “That’s when I was there.”

She buried the lead. Or, as they would spell it in journalism school, lede. Because SHE WAS IN FRANCE DURING A TERROR ATTACK. The surprising thing, however, was that we probably learned about the Nice attack before she did. All she knew was that it took her several hours to get back to her hotel because streets were closed. That, and she was getting frantic text messages from family and friends saying things like Mother of God! Tell me you’re hundreds of kilometers from Nice!

But back to NASCAR. And Indie cars. Because Bill had a two-in-one experience yesterday. He had his ride-along in an Indie car, which he said went extremely fast and was extremely fun. And because of his volunteer work, he drove a NASCAR all by himself. Well, sort of all by himself, because there was a man in the tower feeding him instructions on what to do, how many RPMs to get it up to on the straight-away, and ordering him to take his foot off the accelerator as he approached a curve. And getting annoyed when Bill didn’t exactly, well, obey.



As for my brother, he was able to drive in one of Jeff Gordon’s old cars, and his driver told him they reached a speed of 130 mph on the straight-away. Dave’s assessment as he emerged from the car? “That was a blast.”

You had to be there I guess.

This post linked to Grand Social.

Thursday Thoughts

Home is Where the Heart Is
Bill and I arrived back in Denver on Tuesday afternoon. Court and the three kids picked us up at the airport. Kaiya and Mylee were happy to see us; Cole probably would have been, but he was out like a light, deep into a dreamland nap. He seemed happy enough when he woke up, and then became very happy as time went on. Particularly when he learned that, despite the fact that we have been gone for three months, there was still Play Doh around the house. Simple needs.

Movie Date
I had made tentative plans to take Kaiya and Mylee to see Beauty and the Beast; however, it seems Cole didn’t want to be ditched. I was promised by his dad that he could sit through a movie; however, given the fact that the movie is more than two hours long, is NOT animated, and it costs an arm and a leg to see movies these days, I elected to forgo a date to the theater and substitute a movie date at our house. I bought all the necessary candy, popcorn, and soda pops, and rented three kids’ movies from Redbox. It was a movie extravaganza.

Now, Where Did That Go?
Allen and Emma have been housesitting at our Denver abode since January, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked in the door. What I found was an immaculate house, and a lovely display of sunflowers, a bottle of wine, two chocolate bunnies, and some fresh fruit, along with a sweet card. Nice housesitters, no? As would be expected, they have made the house comfortable for themselves, which means un-kiddifying it, given the fact that they have no children. So the grands were surprised to find an empty cookie jar, an absence of kids’ cups, and the Legos were nowhere to be found, though I was able to find Play Doh, as mentioned above. A few Facebook messages resulted in being able to locate the Legos, so crisis averted.

Flower Power
We have made it a habit to come back to Denver one time during our winter stay in AZ, but it has always been in February. That, of course, is too early to see any spring flowers. Then, by time we get home for good in May, the spring flowers are long gone (except for a few late-blooming tulips). So it has been fun to see my spring bulbs bursting into view this year….