Tag Archives: cars

A Heart Aches…

Good morning Everyone!

I have that rarest of opportunities in a working mom’s life to enjoy a little bit of a summer vacation.  Thanks to some very kind people at my firm, I have been granted a few weeks leave of absence to refresh my spirit and just rest. At one week into it, I wonder, given the time it takes to do the running around I need to do to get caught up while I am off of work, how I ever accomplished it while I was at work!

I had an appointment to go to yesterday in a nearby city where Mark’s Mom lives, so I took Kayla with me to visit with her while I took care of my business.  For no particular reason, I decided that we would drive a different way than usual to see if it was any shorter.  When we were in the very heart of (as Kayla would say) the middle of nowhere on our way to somewhere, I noticed a woman walking down the road carrying an object on my left.  In that split second that you have to observe things at 55 – 60 mph, it seemed to me that the women was very upset and sobbing, so I did the only thing I could do, which was turn the car around to see if there was something we could to do help.

What Kayla and I discovered was one of the saddest sights either of us has ever seen.  The woman was carrying her dog, which had obviously been hit by a car and just as obviously had just been discovered by her.  She was in those first awful throes of unrestrained grief, when try as you might, you can’t contain your feelings.  I pulled up to the side of the road, hoping against hope that the dog was still alive where we could help her get it to the vet in time, but there was nothing that could be done – the dog was already dead.

After asking the woman if we could at least drive her home (aside to family members – no I do NOT normally offer strangers rides in my car but this woman was genuine and I bet any of you would have done exactly the same thing) – she said no, her house was just steps away – Kayla and I drove off both feeling very sad, impotent to help and carrying a heavy, sad feeling in our chests.  I told Kayla that the feeling we had was exactly the feeling that is meant by the words, “my heart aches.”

I didn’t know this woman and know nothing about her, but I do know what it is like to have your dog die, and I can empathize further how awful it would be to discover the dog hit on the roadway.  So could Kayla.

The rest of the ride in to the city was very quiet.

This story is very different from most of the things that I share with you, but I do have a point to it.  Kayla, who currently would like to be a vet when she grows up, announced afterwards that when she had her own vet office, she was going to hand out flyers to every customer asking them to be sure to keep their dogs safe, and out of the road, and with this post, I guess I am asking those of you who don’t already to do the same.  Some accidents just can’t be avoided – for example, we had Mandy escape from us once when we first had her, and she proceeded to venture quickly forth on a mile and a half joy run, part of which involved running across a very busy road (we heard the brakes squeal as some kind person threw his or her brakes on hard to keep from hitting her), and there would have been nothing we could have done about that.  But I see a lot of dogs out running loose on the road, and not all of those can be escapees.  And, if you did let your dog out loose and it got hit, I certainly am NOT saying that you or the dog deserved what happened to you.  I am saying that your dog will  be a lot safer if kept properly in a fenced yard, large or small, and walked outside of the house on a leash when possible.

Let’s try to keep those heart aches down to a minimum!

And, on that sad note, have a good day everyone!  I will find something more lively to talk about tomorrow.


Cars I Have Known – George I and George II

Good morning Everyone!

Most Americans spend a lot of time in their cars.  At least, most Americans in the mid- to small size cities without subways and good bus systems do, as do most of us in the rural areas.  In the rural/small town areas of this country, in fact, cars are essential to reach the bigger cities when we need doctors whose specialities aren’t present in our community, more advanced hospital treatment than our solid, dependable and beloved local hospitals can provide or we need to buy various items that we can’t find in our towns.  In small towns and rural areas, our cars are also essential just so we can get to our jobs, which often are located somewhere other than our town or community (trust me, there isn’t bus service between two small towns such as, for example, Rockford, Alabama and Goodwater, Alabama).   My commute is about a 45 minute commute (35 miles) and I am lucky to have such a short one. 

For whatever reason, some cars stay just cars the entire time they are with us, while we each have other cars that rank as “special” cars – cars that somehow were not “things” but personalities and that, beyond all reason or explanation, we learned to love.  My first car and its later successor were such cars. 

George I was “my” car until I graduated from high school and went to college, leaving him in the worthy hands of my sister.  He was a 1960’s something light blue Volkswagen Bug.  (The official name of the Bug was the Beetle, but somehow Bug stuck in the imagination of the American populace.)  George II was a gift from Mark for our anniversary years ago.  Mark found an old Volkswagen Bug for sale, and in secret renovated the car to look exactly like George I.  It was a wonderful gift!   (Both cars were in our possession before the age of the digital camera and so unfortunately I don’t have pictures of them to share with you, but combing the internet I have been able to find pictures that come very close to what George I and II were like). 

The Back Seat - Note how the driver's side front seat is folded back to give you access to it.

George I stayed in my family from the time I was in about 2nd grade until after I was married, a span of almost 20 years.  For those of you who never got the chance to meet a Volkswagen Bug, it was a very basic vehicle.  It only had two doors, and to reach the back seat you had to pull a lever that would allow the front seat to pull forward.  George I and II’s interiors were black.

A Bug Engine in the back of the car

The engine of the Bug was essentially air-cooled, although there is some sort of a thing-a-ma-bob-er in the engine that was normally packed with oil – maybe the air filter???  (Mark, help me here if you read this!)  The most unique characteristic about the engine of the Bug was that it was in the back of the car, while the trunk was in the front.

Bug Trunk in Front

When I was about Kayla’s age, our family was stationed in Taiwan as part of Dad’s job in the Navy, and during that time period George was the family car.   George’s back seat could comfortably fit three small girls, and if you threw in the boot, we could squeeze in a few more children at least.  One time, George managed to transport four adults and five children on a trip outside of the capital city, Taipei.

The space between the back blue seat and the grey fabric on the wall that you can see if you look closely was the boot.

What was the boot?  I haven’t been able to find a good picture of it yet, but the boot was basically a space in the back of the Bug between the back seat and the back metal part of the car about 12 – 18 inches wide and four feet deep and as long as the body of the car, which wasn’t nearly as expansive as it sounds.  Still, it was big enough to fit small children (hush – this was before mandatory seat belt laws and air bags) and a bag or two of luggage. 

Sample front interior of the original Bug. Ours didn't have a basket.

The interior of the Bug was unique also.  The steering wheel was narrow, and had the then Volkswagen symbol, an outline of a castle, in its center where the horn was.  The Bug was solely a manual transmission car, so the gear shift was the lever in the center hump of the floor board.  The Bug had no air conditioning, beyond what I called 4 – 55 air conditioning (4 windows open at 55 miles an hour), which made driving in Alabama in the summertime once the Bug became my chariot in high school interesting, to saw the least.  The Bug had a heater though.  The heater was in the floor board and powerful enough that you would have to move your ankles out of the air flow every so often if you didn’t wish them to be burned.  (Why didn’t I just turn the heater off?  Because the heat, as plentiful as it was on the floorboard, hadn’t quite risen to the top of the car yet.) 

Note the Castle symbol on the steering wheel - and no, we never had fuzzy dice on our rearview mirror.

Both George I and George II were faithful, uncomplaining, dependable and in spite of their idiosyncracies incredibly fun to drive, and I miss them even while I am grateful for my current vehicles and the modern comforts they provide. 

Oh – and the battery was under the back seat, and you had to remember to add water to it periodically. 

What about you?  Do you have a car in your past or present that has been more than just a mode of transportation for you?  I’d love to hear about it if you do!

Have a great day!


Smarter Than a Smart Key? Apparently Not!

Good morning everyone!

My car has a push button start with a smart key.  As long as the key is within a certain distance of the car, I can unlock the car and start it without having to physically put a key in the ignition. 

When we bought the car, I thought that feature was superfluous, until I realized that having a push button start with a smart key meant I would never have to search through my purse for my keys again.  The smart key/push button start will work as long as the purse is close enough to the car with the key in it.  (Not having to search through your purse is not a big deal for most people, but it is for me, since my purse is Fibber McGee’s Closet in miniature and has a talent for ensuring that whatever you are looking for at that particular moment is buried in the deepest darkest part of it.) 

I managed somehow to confuse my car enough on Tuesday, though, so that it refused to start for about five minutes at lunch time.  That night, just to be sure that it was a fluke and not a problem with the car, Mark and I decided to swap cars for a few days.

Yesterday I drove his Escape to Birmingham, where I had a meeting.  When I finished my meeting, I got back into the Escape to leave and was very frustrated when the Escape failed to start as well – until I realized that I was pushing the air conditioning button repeatedly instead of inserting the Escape’s key in its ignition and turning it on. 

Have a great day everyone!