Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Random Dozen

This week's questions from Second Cup of Coffee -- and I'm afraid you might need to tuck in with a second cup to get through all these... I'm concise as always here (grin-grin).

1. What was the last song you listened to?

Gabey is in the kitchen right now, washing the last of the dishes (actually just a couple little plates and cups we left for him) while singing a family favorite, the "Doodlesack Song" ---  the German rendition of  "I am a Fine Musician."  ("Doodlesack" is the German word for "bagpipes.")

2. Have you ever had “buyer’s remorse” over anything? 

Oh, yes.  A Ford Taurus station wagon, that I loved and regretted at the same time.  It was a rotten car.  Rotten.  And it cost too much, but it was a gift of love from my husband.  I told him when he got it for me that he shouldn't have done it.

 And he really shouldn't have. 

Picture the early nineties...  We had gone car shopping for our first serious car of our young marred life.  We really needed a bigger car, having outgrown our miniscule first car, an eensy weensy 3 cylinder Chevy Sprint.   (Three car seats and two adults wouldn't fit in that little car no matter how we tried to work it.)  So, it was with a gleeful spring in our steps, but no small amount of trepidation (because we had a limited budget to say the least), that we made our way around the car lots, always heading first to the embarassed "back corner" cars.   You know these cars: the poor, orphaned trade-ins, shined up and sprayed with new-car-smell, shyly, but hopefully  trying to cover their mileage and dings -- and the skeletons under their hoods.   We saw a few dozen of those after pounding the pavement for a few hours, and fending off a few hundred smiling salesmen. But our steps were losing some spring, and our enthusiasm was losing ground to trepidation.  Anything that was in our price range was either too small or in the death rattle stages of its automotive life.  It was about the time we started thinking seriously about strapping one of our toddlers to the hood of the Sprint that we stumbled across a car we thought might do the trick.  It was a beat-up old station wagon, wrapped around with a faded and cracked wood-panel siding and pocked with hail damage -- I don't remember the make or model; I only remember it was ugly.  I mean uh.uh.uh.gly.  But it was cheap and the engine ran like a top.  This was the prudent car, the one we really needed to get.  Dan said so. 

A couple of times.

And I was willing to settle. But, then... we saw "it." On the way back to another "back corner" of the same lot, we passed a gleaming silver Ford Taurus station wagon.  And it was bee-you-tee-ful!  It was newer, it smelled nice, and it had all the bells and whistles.  I loved it, needless to say, and in my heart o'hearts, I coveted it something terrible.  But, it was twice the price of anything else we'd looked at, and, yes, I agreed (sigh), it was more prudent to get the old beat up woody back on the other side of the showroom.  So sad, so sad...  We went home to think it over. 

And, overnight, inspired by I-know-not-what-exactly, Dan... my dear, dear Dan, my husband, the accountant decided to get the Taurus.  Even though it was really more money than we wanted to spend. And it really was living above our means...  But, my husband wanted to get it for me, so I could finally have something nice.  How could I say no?

Well, as it turned out, I really should have.  We drive the highways and byways of Colorado to this day and point out the many various spots in the road where we konked out in the Taurus.  That car died any time the the engine got hotter than a suntan.  And nobody could fix it, though we spent plenty of money trying. 

Yes, we had serious buyers' remorse over that car...  But, I can't help but think about it, still, with a special fondness -- because it was such a sweet thought.  And, sometimes it is the thought that counts. 

3. What is something in your life that you are thankful for now that you didn’t think you would be at the time of the event? (Something that seemed ill-timed, inconvenient or hurtful which turned out to be a good thing)

 OK. Have time for another car story? Just the other day, we went out hunting for a car for Kevin (second son, 20 y.o.). The old starter car  (the old family Saab) he'd been using just died and he needs wheels for school and work.  So, we went to see one car, a minivan, that sounded really good on paper, but which turned out to be junk.  Then, we hooked up with another car we thought was going to be a great deal.  It had some problems: the back bumper was loose and the tailpipe needed to be refastened because it had recently been in a rear-end collision; there were some odd bumps and knocks in the engine; and the interior was positively nauseous with the smell of second-hand smoke.  But it got good gas mileage, was well within Kevin's price range (which is next to nothing...), and it seemed like it would work for an "in-between" kind of vehicleto hold him over until he starts making money and can upgrade.  But... as we were on our way to go take a second look and probably buy it, the owner texted us saying it had just sold.


Then, a couple of days later,  Kevin got a call back from an inquiry he'd made on Craigslist about a Saab 900.    When we went out to see it, we realized that busting on other cars had been a blessing in disguise; our saints were watching out for us!  Though it had a little body damage, this Saab really did have a great engine, with no funny knocks or noises.  The tailpipe and fenders were all firmly in place, and it had a clean carfax report, with no history of wrecks or any other damage or difficulty.  In fact, the car was practically immaculate, especially for it's age.  (It's older than Kevin: twenty-three years old!)  But, the owner had every receipt and every scrap of information about the car from way back when it had been shipped over from Sweden!  He even had the original owner's manual.  Plus new tires and a slew of recent work done.  And though it was a little more expensive than the other two cars, it was worth more than twice the amount of  either of them and came in under bluebook value.  Woohoo! Third shot on goal... and... SCORE!

4. Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade every year? If so, do you have a favorite float or balloon?

Yes, we have to peel potatoes while watching the parade.  It's a tradition.  Even though we all loathe the stupid Broadway productions.  Sheesh!  We want to see more of the marching bands!  And more information about how the floats are made!  We want background that is really interesting instead of the drivel the parade anchors usually serve us.  But, floats? We love Snoopy!  And Woodstock, of course.

5. Share a quote, scripture, poem or lyric which has been an inspiration to you lately.

We must pray without tiring, for the salvation of mankind does not depend on material success; nor on sciences that cloud the intellect. Neither does it depend on arms and human industries, but on Jesus alone. -- St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

And, this one's not so much "inspiring" as thought-provoking:

"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice." - G. K. Chesterton  ILN 9/11/09

6. This is meant to be a fun question, and this is a G-rated blog, but please share a “guilty pleasure,” something that you enjoy that’s probably not the most edifying, time-worthy or healthy thing you could be indulging in. Did I mention--G rating?
I love to eat popcorn and cheese every Wednesday night and watch the newest adventures of the Ghost Hunters.

7. What Thanksgiving food are you looking forward to?
Pumpkin pie, walnut dressing, my Mom's sweet potato fluff.

8. What is your favorite book to read to children, or what was your favorite childhood book? Chapter books: Mark Twain is sooo much fun to read!  I love to do the accents.  And Tom and Huck are a hoot to read for.  Picture books:  We loved Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs before it came to the big screen -- and, just off the top of my head, there's The Piggy in the Puddle, and the Forty-six Little Men that I just recently read.  And we love all the I Spy books... Gosh, there are too many to name!

9. Do you collect anything? (Feel free to post a photo.) Oh, gosh...  Tons of things. 1940s and '50s compacts, tiny husband and wife salt and pepper shakers, short story anthologies from the first part of the twentieth century, religious images (statues and prints) and books, Cathedral Basic Readers from the forties and fifties, and cute little Davis children. (Tons of photos of that last collectible if you scroll down the blog a bit, I think...)

10. Gift bags or wrapping paper? Gift bags for the odd birthday when I have a bag I can recycle...  But usually it's wrapping paper -- especially at Christmas time.  And I love to make special bows with beautiful ribbon.

11. Share an after-school memory from when you were younger. What was your routine like on an average day? 

Picture the 70s....  I would ride home on the bus with my brothers and sisters from Catholic school to the Navy base where we invariably lived.  Once I got home, since I always wore shorts under my uniform, I would just take off my skirt, throw it on my bedroom floor, and run out to play in my school blouse and shorts until my Mom told me to " pick up my uniform and come in and change into play clothes, for heaven's sake!" Mom would usually have a small snack waiting for us, it seems, but I don't know that I ate it; we weren't allowed to go outside until our homework was done, so I didn't have time to waste eating.   Daylight was burning! So much to do, so little time. So, I'd fly through my homework and run outside where my siblings ( I have six) and I and a neighborhood friend or two would play outside until dinner time: games like hide-n-seek or Red Rover -- or play-acting, chase games like Cowboys and Indians, Soldiers and Prisoners, Pirates and Captives...  We climbed trees, jumped off fences, rode bikes, and just ran.  (Remember being a kid and just. running? What happened to that energy?) 

Then my Mom would call us for dinner and we'd come a-running, because there was a big price to pay if we were late: no after-dinner playing!  Horror of horrors. This is what we lived for; we had to go out and play some more, until the streetlights came on and we had to go inside.  Then it was family rosary, washing up, brushing teeth, and bedtime.  And when we were very little, my mother would sing to us at bedtime.   From those days in elementary school, I still remember the words to Down in the ValleyWindy, and Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra, among others...

Good memories.

12. True story: Once, in a job interview, I was asked this question and told there would be no clarifying; I simply had to answer the question: “When you’re fishing, do you feel for the fish?” So what about you? When you're fishing, do you feel for the fish??

I never go fishing.  Fishing is boring. But, when I was a kid, growing up near the waterways of Chesapeake Bay, VA, we would go crabbing -- with nothing but a string, a chicken bone, a weight, a net, and a bucket.  You really have to have the "feel" to catch a crab this way.  Not to mention patience, and nerves of steal.  Here's the M.O.: you tie the weight (usually a piece of trash-metal or a long, skinny rock) and the chicken bone (preferable with a little bit of meat still on it) to the string, and you sit on the edge of the pier, with the net and bucket (and preferably a helper) near at hand.  You gently, gently, gently lower the weighted chicken bone down into the water until it rests on the bottom.  You hold the string loosely, but firmly in your hands -- then you sit and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Until, hopefully, you begin to feel a vibration, or even as much as a bit of tugging on the string.  Then, you slowly, slowly, slowly, gently, gently, gently begin to draw the string back up to the surface.  You don't breath.  You don't talk. You don't even smile.  The idea is to trick the crabs; they. must. not. know. they. are. moving. up. through. the. water.  It's painstaking, slow business.  Ever. so. slow... 

But, then, when you glimpse the crabs as they rise up through the murky water, it's all excitement.  You've got to move fast. You've got to be accurate.  This is where a good helper comes in mighty handy! As soon as you spot the crabs, someone has to go in after them with the net.  It's possible to both hold the string and scoop with the net, but I don't recommend it.  An expert touch is too key with the net-handling.  You see, it's like this: in order to keep the crabs dumb and happy, nibbling on the chicken, oblivious of their impending doom, you have to slip the net into the water noislessly, without a splash, but very quickly -- down, and under the crabs.  Then it has to be snapped up in an instant!   If the crabs let go of the chicken bone before you're under them with the net, you've lost 'em, and you have to start all over again.  And, I swear, the crabs are wiser the second time around.  After you've had "jumpers," you'll have to stake out a new spot for hunting if you want to catch anything at all.

Be warned, though: Once you're victorious, got your crabs in the net, and done your happy dance on the end of the pier, you're not done yet;  you still have to detangle their snapping pinchers from the mesh of the net and dump them in the bucket without dropping them over the side -- or losing a finger.  That's the really fun part!  If you bring home a bucket of crabs for supper, you've earned them. You sure as heck don't feel sorry for the buggers!

But, gee... It's fun to look back. What memories I have of long humid, summer days crabbing!  When you're a kid living these things, you  never guess they're moments that will stay with you the rest of your life.  Those days on the water, though...  I can recall them perfectly still, thirty-odd years later.   The  long hours of boredom with sudden moments of high excitement and intense challenge. The danger.   The disappointment.  The hope.  The smell.   I think it prepared me for  motherhood.


Soutenus said...

What a cool post! You know, I HAVE TO use those quotes (#5) somewhere! They are too good!
Hmmm, maybe a FB status?

GrandmaK said...

This was great!!! I love old car stories...When Ron and I were dating, we'd meet his sister and her fiance at the Argo Mill (before it was restored, actually that would have been 1968) map it, get it's dimension, et al for a project he had at Mines. Then we'd trek off to some old ghost town in the '63 Buick Electra his dad had given him. Ron didn't know it wasn't a Jeep. This car made numerous trips to the back woods. When we traded it for our new car (Ron was picking the new one up in Michigan where he was working that summer before the wedding)it died in the lot and would not start. He tried to restart it and it just would not turn over. Needless to say we left there in great haste. I guess I could write a book about cars...We all could!!! Have a grand day!!! Cathy

MightyMom said...

laughed my butt off at you "collecting" little Davises.

you're some collector you are!!