Introducing Mrs. Wilson….

July 16th, 2014 by insightout

Wearing nothing but a halter top, frightening full frontal nudity, that which follows may be unsuitable, a rating of PG-55 for the easily offended. A six month Insightout absence, a vacuum created by the loss of family pet, Jack, is over.

The grieving, the failed attempt to establish a website, www.doggone.org, was not working by early April, 2014. A visit to the local Pet Refuge reversed course; a two y/o female (gasp), rescued and fostered by a loving couple, was available. With zero Westminster breeding, and much more likely the result of hasty, unplanned dog sex, she appeared to be 12 pounds of terrier exhibiting a less than subtle attention-deficit disorder; imagine popping corn in a microwave.

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Naming her would be a hurdle. Calling her Orville Redenbacher would cross a sexual boundary. And maybe subject her to a suit from Old Orv’s intellectual property lawyer. Her markings were similar, in miniature, to those of a famed pinto pony, Scout*. Once again, crossing the gender line, nixed Scout. Monikers like Butterscotch and Cafe Au Lait sounded curiously Starbucksian. No thanks a latte.

To those of you familiar with the geography of southeast Asia, her dorsal fur resembled Malaysia to the east and Sumatra to the west….but who would name their dog “Strait of Mallay”?

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Days after the ‘adoption’, when she failed to respond to a command, my friend said, “can’t you call her by name” ? How dumb is that…naming your dog, Byname. Better that, I suppose, than Beyonce.

And so it went for a week. During a quiet moment of contemplation, our eyes deeply embraced, I realized this furball, like Jack before her, was destined to transform me to a better self. Behind that cornea emerged the vision of Washington Grade School, Hammond, Indiana, 1953, and a 14 y/o dyslexic kid. A chronic troublemaker whose future changed when an elderly teacher, Margaret Wilson, triggered his discovery of mathematics.

Who among us has not had a life altered, by a thoughtful, caring person with no intension of personal gain, yet who never lived to witness the ripple on the pond.

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The gratitude and fondness for one lady, a silver-haired arithmetic teacher, sixty years later, has never waned.

In remembrance…..meet Mrs. Wilson ⬇

Airborne, on a favorite beach, the deserted north shore of Lake Huron

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* Tonto, sidekick to the Lone Ranger

 

©insightout2014

The Legend of Stoney Gilliam, II

January 16th, 2014 by insightout

The dash warning light is real.  Within minutes the truck has lost  power, reducing 70 mph down to 25 mph, so I choose to turn on the warning flasher and ride the shoulder.  Sans a GPS, I can only estimate that the next town, Springerville, AZ, is fifty miles distant.  Although the very large array of radio telescopes passed an hour ago may be able to detect visitations from other galaxies in the universe, I have zero bar cell service.

For more than an hour, rumble strips, a sick engine, and a few passing cars are all that are seen and heard. 35 miles on the clock.

And then, an angel.

A white SUV slows as it passes then pulls aside and awaits the sick driver and sicker truck.  Her name is Karla, a solo road warrior, with an innate trust for a fellow traveler in distress.  I could be Ted Bundy, serial killer, in disguise, armed and dangerous, a felon preying on good samaritans, but Karla didn’t hesitate. No questions asked, she tries her cell phone, to no avail.  However, her car is equipped with On-Star®, a clever satellite service that promptly answers and offers to call a AAA wrecker.  We part with a warm handshake, and within an hour the truck is loaded onto the flatbed tow, headed for the recommended service center, Round Valley Garage, Springerville, Arizona.

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Stoney Gilliam is stoic, soft-spoken, a weathered mechanic choosing his words carefully and sparingly.  He has the rugged good looks of NCIS’s Mark Harmon.  A late afternoon gaze at the truck through piercing eyes from under an old baseball cap and the computer scope reveals a very serious NG…failed injectors at 193,000 miles.  This had happened once before, in 2008, a whisper above 100,000 miles, and a shadow past the seven year  extended warranty.  GM, sympathetic, politely punched my tough s#it card, and wished me better fortune in the future.

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dateline: Springerville, AZ

nearest big box store, Show Low, AZ, 48 miles away

closest interstate ramp, I-40, 82 miles distant

Stoney’s son drives me to the vintage, 1960s, El-Jo Motel, conveniently located adjacent to a favorite local saloon/eatery, The Safire.  Not a misspelling to be confused with the lovely blue gemstone, The Safire had once been named The Safari, but a Phoenix restaurant of the same name requested the name be changed to avoid confusion.  Fat chance.

The claim to fame for the Safire; the Duke, John Wayne, frequented the place in the 60s.  He had been part owner of a large ranch just west of neighboring Eagar, AZ.  The cheeseburger was delicious, but the seat in the  dining room booth still retained the sculpted shape of the Duke’s rump, like the trusty saddle on an old gelding.

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The Duke, after lunch at the Safire

I spend the next morning, on foot, exploring the town.  A walk to the airstrip, a visit with the ladies in the Safeway store, the local museum where everyone important was named Udall, McD’s for an egg mcmuffin, and a brief busman’s holiday at the Western Rexall.  This is a hardscrabble town with little veneer.  You don’t live here to be monetarily rich.  Five interviews with ‘locals’ were consistent.  You’ll find characters, but no drunken Toronto mayor, or a Jersey FatGov; people seem to enjoy the isolation, fresh clear air, no parking woes, no traffic, and very little crime.  Everyone knows who you are, what you drive, and where the herd of elk was last seen crossing SR 180.

Because the repair, a 14 hour task, and parts would take several days to arrive, over a weekend + the vicious storm covering most of the U.S., Stoney offers to drive me to Show Low that afternoon, both to rent a car, continue on to Phoenix, and meet my wife, Lynn, arriving by air.  He promised me, unequivocally, he would have the truck ready in a week, and would not release it until he was certain it was 100%.  Believe me, his word is gold.

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L-R, Stoney, Chas, and the mended Silverado background

Strange, this bump in the road, a major inconvenience when I needed it the least, enriched my life, reinforced my faith in the basic goodness of people, and lead to quiet contemplation on the ride on AZ-80 from above the Mogollon Rim down to the Valley of the Sun.

Becker Butte Lookout

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Straight from the pages of Arizona Highways, the breathtaking scenery is as welcome as the thirty minute stop to remove fallen rocks.

Below, a genuine American Indian princess and AzDOT employee shares stories and candy with me while waiting.

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My sincere thanks to the support team and I wish them all the best:

  • Karla 
  • The wrecker driver with a clean sense of smell
  • Stoney, Nicole, their son, and staff at the RVGarage
  • The ladies at the El-Jo and the Paint Pony Lodge, in Show Low
  • Show Low, AZ., Hatch Toyota rental rep, Jolene Dailey, for the Rav4, efficiency, and a smile that can melt gloom and lighten the room
  • Princess SummerFallWinterSpring and her avalanche stories

A trip planned to cover 1800 miles in four days had turned into an odyssey of 2400 miles, over 14 days, sleeping in nine different beds, losing seven pounds, five days of food poisoning, and a small dent in the travel budget.

It was worth it.

 

insightout©2014

The Legend of Stoney Gilliam

January 14th, 2014 by insightout

In the rear view mirror, what once was referred to as a cold front, then redefined as an arctic blast, has now morphed into a Polar Vortex.  The weather media have fallen into the exaggeration trap of their newsy colleagues who have given us the fiscal cliff, quantitative easing, the dreaded taper and the nuclear option.

Embarking on a four day, mid-winter, cross country trip over the Great Plains is always an adventure.  I make my first overnight stop, a popular, cheap hostelry that rhymes with No Tell Kix (to avoid being sued).  This in memory of my dearly departed dog, Jack.  This chain allows pets because they place you in a room with linoleum flooring.  The bath towels, roughly the size of a diaper, have the absorbency of a sheet of cellophane.  R.I.P. little Jackster, it’s only for one night.

Miles southwest of Albuquerque, I’ve taken an L-shaped route off Interstate-25, the hard right turn westerly on lonely U.S. Highway 60, which slices through the heart of parched, west-central New Mexico. The loneliness from Socorro, NM to Springerville, AZ, 154 miles, is palpable; should this desolation escape you, do not drive, get breathalyzed.

These San Agustin plains were chosen for a radio astronomy observatory because the isolated location away from large population centers, and the partial shielding effect of the surrounding mountain ranges.  This is peculiar to New Mexico, the state known to issue driver’s licenses to extra-terrestrials.  Locals of every ilk, perhaps on uncontrolled substances, enjoy regular visits from inter-planetary friends. This gives credence to the state motto warning: Land of Enchantment.

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I have, however, taken a personal turn for the worse.  A three course tamale dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque has tasered my gut lining from the tonsils south, septum to the rectum.  Urgency rhymes with emergency.  From the glove box of my aging Silverado diesel, a spare roll of TP and bottle of hand sanitizer become my two best friends. With only a single passing car every 1/2 hour, the entire county has become a personal port-a-potty.  Toxicity without vanity, I harbor some shame that this is not a ‘best practice’ health and sanitation policy.  Here, however, only the neighborhood rattlesnake population would issue an APB, a toxic intruder alert.

Next stop, Pie Town, NM, an unincorporated bend in the road, a cult restaurant, the Pie-O-Neer, and a clean restroom.  DSCN1314DSCN1315

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Saying grace, PieTown, 1940, before dessert

I pass on America’s favorite dessert.  The combination of red chile, tamales, clostridium difficile, and cherry pie might translate into the first nuclear disaster since the Fukushima tsunami.  I opt for a single bottle of Coca-Cola to ward off dehydration.

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30 miles west, in truly, the middle of nowhere, the worst is yet to come.  The dreaded “check engine” light illuminates the dash………..

 

…to be continued

 

insightout© 2014

 

 

 

save the last dance for me

December 28th, 2013 by insightout

Jack…..January 1, 2004-December 28, 2013.

He arrived at our Airstream 8 years ago, 20 pounds of sleek black hair, lightning quick on four legs, a small mixed breed without aristocratic provenance…simply a 2 y/o terrier pup rescued from an Indiana shelter by a caring high school English teacher.

He soon adapted to our habits and quietly, systematically, tranformed us into the pet owners he knew we could be.  He walked me daily.  Everywhere and anywhere, never allowing me a measure of physical decadence nor denying him the joy to discover the infinite aromas in the real world.  We were a team, Jack and me, and then we rested.

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Accomodating to golf on TV, which he found quite boring

Jack became a friend to everyone, a special intoxicating presence, who knew when, and where, and how much, the human world needed him. He had an aura.

Charisma.

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Play ?  Nothing better than a day on his beach or chasing a squirrel

In the past month, in blatant disregard of the dogma, ‘you can’t teach an old dog a new trick’, Lynn had, with the aid of a few treats, taught him how to dance.  No threat to Astaire and Rogers, they managed a nice tango together.  At the least, they thought they could dance.

He was, like so many family pets, a dog for the ages.  My constant companion for eight years, connected together at the heart, the emotional vacuum will heal over time.  It must.  Those of you, like us, who have outlived their special companions, know the emptiness.

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Jack, on duty 28Aug 2011, 9 days before Lynn’s transplant call,

               he sensed the future before everyone else

He had watched over Lynn during her most trying days, allowing her spirit to soar when she needed it most.  The intimacy, while snuggling together, created a bond like mother and child, one they shared to the very end while she caressed that face during his final breaths.  The breaths that ended too soon.

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One little kiss, no more

The tears we are shedding…..they are the tears of joy and happiness, thankful for the years he gave to us.

For Lynn, she’ll never forget, Jack saved the last dance for her.  Tiptoe to heaven little guy, you were the very best.

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insightout© 2013

In memory  of:

Heinz, Kramer, Yooper, Sage, Teddie, Sandy, Louie, Brandy II, Cinch, Ruby, Penny, Norah, Zimba

 

 

..❡…repeat the sounding joy…∲

December 17th, 2013 by insightout

From our holiday letter, Christmas past, little has changed.

Ah yes, zero visibility, howling wind, and an arctic clipper courtesy of  the TWC storm d’jour.  I’m reminded of the iconic Burl Ives compelling us to have a ”holly, jolly Christmas” as my 5 HP snow thrower rumbles past the large holly bush.

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Yesterday, 17Dec2013, the bush, the granary, 8″ snow

For those who might enjoy a sprig of branches and berries, they are available, free, under the popular “u-pick” format, no limit. Note our GPS reading, Lat. 41.7222, Long. 86.3497, Elev. 725′. Although no biblical documentation exists, the three wise men, too, must have had a Garmin or how else could they have traveled the great distance from the east and managed to locate the baby Jesus?

My holiday speculation; the star of Bethlehem was the first TV satellite.

Fast forward three years.

Lynn remains stable, yet fragile, as we prepare to celebrate by sharing our new holiday tree, made of re-bar.  Yes, the identical reinforced steel rods used to stabilize concrete bridges. Enough, please, enough of this sentimental, tear producing tangent, before we all lose it.

3′ high, created by Karen Ruihley, the artiste sister of our brother-in-law, relatively speaking.  Imagine what a Lincoln arc welder and an acetylene torch can do in the hands of a genius.  Alert; maintain a safe distance when she’s armed with a chain saw.

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             Christmas portrait, 2013

                             Top:  Lynn

     Bottom: L-R, the Re-Bar tree, the Jack, the Chas

 

The Grinch, in my estimation, was sappier than a Hallmark card, a real softie. Sure, I may have the personality of a walk-in refrigerator, promising no one a gift exchange, other than donations to the grandchildren’s education.  The economy, should it depend on my ilk ( be assured, others cringe at Christmas), would croak louder than an opera bullfrog.

The fat lady would be unemployed.

On food stamps.

Please, insist on observing the constitutional separation of church and retail. That applies to Santa, who, receiving residual annuities from every major advertiser, needs to start paying taxes.  And go on a diet for the grossly obese to reduce his blood pressure and A1C levels, while a bunch of underpaid, non-union, dwarfs do all the work. Scoundrel.

The guy is 3 to 4 hundred years old, can’t afford a Gillette razor, eats chocolate, and never gets older.  He’s making a list and checking it twice?  Huh?  After centuries of practice, he can’t get it right the first time….add senility to his medical profile.  Time to do a transportation upgrade too.  Pan fry that wretched herd of hat racks, including the alcoholic leader with the inflamed red nose.

You may have discerned that I am imbued (whatever that word means) with the holiday spirit, no bahs, no humbugs, while cozily enveloped in the warmth of burning embers from the fireplace, so please join along as I croon that old Bing Crosby holiday favorite;

“I’m dreaming of a white tire iron…..”

 

©insightout2013

 

Knickers in a Knot

December 10th, 2013 by insightout

* a quaint britishism 

Lynn decided that WE needed to go to Chicago for MY birthday…you understand, shopping, the Art Institute, elegant dinner at a 4 restaurant, a stay at the historic Knickerbocker Hotel, which we were assured is LGBT friendly, yet maintains a no pets policy.  Transvestites are o.k., ear mites are not.

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Uniformed Doormen : when you lack the strength to push a revolving door

Convincing birthday boy that the outing was not a violation of our agreed upon, “no gifts, thank you” policy.  Rather, an experience, a memory to cherish forever (or noon a week from Tuesday, whichever comes first).

We shopped at two stores, The Disney and The American Girl, commercial shrines to the pre-teen and younger set. Employees with Mickey Mouse ears failed to control the enthusiasm of hundreds of little snots in need of ADHD meds and kleenex.  We’ve come a long way since Lionel trains, Lincoln Logs, and Daisy BB guns.  Nothing, in either store, made in the US of A…100% China.

The prized, memorable moment; upon checking in, the desk clerk (a recent grad majoring in leisure and entertainment, University of the Painful Truth) proclaimed, ‘sir, you’re all checked in, room #1130, and parking, only $42′.

I remarked that was much more reasonable than I had expected, really, only $42 for the room.

“sir, the room charge will be applied to your Visa card,  the $42 is for overnight parking only, and must be paid in cash”

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Days later, an e-mail request from

Expedia

requesting a first-person, customer review, so the following was submitted;

Millennium Knickerbocker, Chicago

Superb location, the ‘Knick’ has a definite European appeal. The restoration, replicating the ambient charm of 1927, was no-expense-spared and all first class. Yes, yes, the elevators are small & intimate, however, the on-board women all smell fresh and alluring, and they look as good as they smell. Why would you want an elevator with a two ton load limit ? Carrying a dozen, plus-size, weightwatcher rejects on a shopping frenzy does not convey holiday intimacy, even if you take a freight elevator.

The rooms are comfortable, very clean, with all the amenities you might expect, but rarely use. My wife and I, both in our mid-70s, did not avail ourselves of the bathtub gin in the fridge or the pay-to-play adult movies. But we thought about it. That, and sex in the tub……

The stay was delightful and the Knickerbocker will remain our first choice.  And look, I think most of the women on the lift were women. It’s not like I did a TSA pat down to check.  Or requested a DNA sample, photo ID, and the last four digits of their social security number.

24 hours later and this automated reply:

Your hotel review needs revision!  Oops! Looks like we need you to revise your review before we can post it on our website.

 

So, there you have it, the subject title for this essay: youll-never-get-your-knickers-in-a-knot2 Dont-get-your-knickers-in-a-knot

Having submitted a descriptive and honest portrayal of our hotel ‘experience’, it apparently did not meet the Expedia standard of suitability. I reviewed the rules/guidelines but failed to perceive where I’d gone astray.

My final word for your website police: WYSIWYG, What You See Is What You Get.  I’m elderly, approaching 80 y/o, retired, and adhere to the 1st year med student mantra..’do the patient no harm’. If you deem the submission (as it appeared above) as harmful, why not employ a niceness editor to eradicate wrongdoing?  Kind regards to all the staff at Expedia. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season, the winter wonderland, the serenity evoked by the baby Jesus, and quiet reflection on the Constitution’s 1st amendment.  And may all your knockers be in a knit.

Boy, I can’t wait for Christmas.

 

©insightout2013

Time left on the clock

November 18th, 2013 by insightout

A faceless city sandwiched between equally dull, non-descript neighburbs, all working-class in the shadow of industrial giants, Hammond, Indiana was generic, before the meaningless word had meaning.  Separated from lurid Calumet City, the Illinois home to 252 bars and strip clubs, by State Line Avenue and a tangent on the Rand McNally atlas.  From the playwright’s perspective, Thornton Wilder, Hammond was Our Town.

The writer, Sinclair Lewis, would have gagged on the polluted air from the Sinclair refinery, from the belching furnaces of USSteel, from the omnipresent aroma of pig fat rendered by Lever Brothers when the wind drifted south off Lake Michigan, all in the name of battleships, Lifebuoy Soap, Ivory Flakes, and 89 octane Dino Supreme.  Had this been Lewis’  Main Street in Indiana, and not Iowa.

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The corner window at Goldblatt’s
presented the newest toys for the Holiday Season.  In Jean Shepherd’s ‘Christmas Story’, it is where Ralphie first saw the Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun.

The 1957 high school graduating class was thought special.  It was not.  Tens of thousands of seniors, everywhere, were gelatinized by geographic lottery, turbulent hormones, acne, fear of peer rejection, sexual arousal, and a license to drive.  So it was at HHS, neither a Blackboard Jungle, nor the Fonz in ‘Happy Days’.  Each class different, each class alike;  crinolines, flattops, bobby sox, and the Cubs finishing last.

Homeroom teacher, John Muri, spirited organist for the Civic Center basketball games, iconclast, strict disciplinarian, was known to break wind at 8:10 each morning.  The foul odor was overcome by the classroom stench of  flesh-tinted Clearasil except for the likable Jerome Johnson, whose flesh was a different color.

The permanent positive effect of demure spinster, teacher Margaret Work, and her devotion to Latin and literacy, was never acknowledged.  It shaped many lives, mine included, and I still retain her text, Ullman & Henry, “Latin for Americans”.  She was on my Mason Street paper route, but what I remember most, (a) the difference between the gerund and thirty forms of the future passive participle, and (b) we bought her father’s used 1940 DeSoto after WWII.  Henry had purchased a 1948 bullet nosed Studebaker.

The suppressed memory of my favorite English teacher, Miss Ellen McGranahan, whose posterior aspect of her calves, partially obscured by seamed nylon hosiery, resembled the blue and red interstate map of America’s east coast.  She quietly and singly, urged me to become a writer.  I succumbed, however, to the gruff math teacher, Charles Garrett, who demanded, in the name of patriotism, that we study math and engineering to counteract the Red Menace……the Soviet launched Sputnik satellite.  I foresaw no future in starvation;  on an empty stomach, science trumped art.

Proof that staying awake in class was important; to this day, I rarely end a sentence with the preposition, at, and never, never, modify an adjective with an adjective, e.g., large huge is where it’s at.  Unless you prefer butchered rap music over silence.

I had one favorite female class member, admired secretly.  She was quiet, soft-spoken, and very smart.  And in the basest, understated description, simmering hot.  If describing a wallflower, she was an orchid.  At a previous reunion, perhaps the 40th, her appearance caused two male counterparts and me to audibly gasp at the transformation…silver-haired, petite, and stunning. Although both Bob and Tom, their real names, have since dropped dead, the gorgeous (forever unnamed) classmate was never formally charged with involuntary manslaughter.

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Much of the class of ’57, I remember, although in the pie of life, a third now constitute the necrology report, another third lost and forgotten, and for the breathing balance, the vagaries of advanced age move onto center stage; medicare part-D, dementia, grandchildren, mobility chairs, and assisted living options.  Few will choose assisted dying.

Dismissed: corporate stature & titles, tax bracket, size or number of homes, skin color, popularity, vanity.  All once relegated as important, now insignifigant, they’ve become the compost heap of righteousness, i.e., who really gives a s#it.     Relevant: family, friendships, lucidity, and remaining vertical.

The misses, Work and McGranahan, embraced reading (and writing), pursuits which have become passe, no longer a requirement for graduation.  Both ladies have since been bar-coded and scanned on the check-out lane of life, free, free at last, from the contemporary jargon that produces the idiotic phrase “my bad”. I miss them dearly, thankful for enriching this life.   A non-perishable memory.  Wherever and whenever those who survived this stepping stone to adulthood, we all possess private recollections.

With an internet assist, our remaining classmate leaders, those not yet at room temperature, may plan a 60th reunion in 2017.   Reunions, like Chai tea, are not my cup of gin, but we’re late in the 4th quarter.

With no time outs remaining.

Count me in as a yes.

 

©insightout2013

1959downtownbridge

A suitable quote (unattributed)

Where is it again that we are going… And why are we in a handbasket?

 

 

 

Providence

October 28th, 2013 by insightout

To some, the capital of Rhode Island, to others, however, upholding the natural order of the universe, an intervention into the lives of extraordinary people.

Hence, a sequel to Baptists and Prisons, the highway breakdown part II,  so why not fashion a rap stanza;

A major setack, a carburetor crack, aint cause for (bleep) dismay,

Rent a car, raise the bar, who give a poop, meet the 190 group,

Outta that funk, got beer in the trunk,

No (delete) delay, gonna be a  great day

Dateline: Punta Gorda, Florida

Event: Mercedes 190SL International Convention

A dire bathroom warning in the Sheraton Four Points reminds me that things could be worse than songwriting hip-hop.

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From our individual launch pads, members share only two things in common; (a) title to an orphan status car of erotic design, and (b), the right to trial by jury. From the first example built in 1954 to the last, 1963, now a half century past, this disparate owner group of thirty years standing has created a timeless thread, thriving, beyond the 190SL roadsters. To the core, the individual characters, made this journey memorable.

Yes, the cars are important but they are inorganic (aside from the tanned hides of recently deceased livestock). Blasphemy alert; the cars do not have a gender, a menstrual cycle, headaches, or bi-polar depression requiring serotonin inhibition. Yes, yes, you’ve given them pet names, assigned a sex, and cover them in heated nurseries with a  diaper.  Get over it; they are just cars, with neither memory, feelings, chocolate cravings, nor requiring prophylaxis against chlamydia.  Brace yourself for taser shock, the car doesn’t know you own it.DSCN1079

Red Hot with Swiss Cheese backdrop; @ Muscle Car City

A partial list of the people, real, organic, that authenticated a weeklong odyssey, none of which would have happened without driving misfortune:

Captain Bill on Tamiami Trail who gave me the best haircut in years.

Sharing breakfast and an autograph with acclaimed Cape Cod artist, Karol Wyckoff, before 7 AM.

Having the honor of introducing Kent V., a retired American Airlines captain from TX, to John McC., retired Air Canada captain from BC.  These two looked the part; tall, handsome, distinguished, and either could perform the cameo role of Hudson River hero, Sully Sullenberger, or Leslie Nielsen in the movie, Airplane!  I knew, immediately, that John, like Leslie, was a Canadian when he pronounced ‘about’ as ‘aboot’.

Native New Englander, Henry Magno, a dedicated gearhead, and Marcia Herrara, a Nebraskan companion with encyclopedic knowledge of 3rd world infrastructure, disease, and reproductive health. Unlike most Massachusetts residents, they do not regard Rhode Island as a suburb of Boston.  Which it is.

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Scratch ‘ride in a camoflouge swamp buggy’ off my bucket list. Henry….hmmm, not so sure

Dining with legacy member and first timer Mary Anne Westphal and sidekick, Ken Lowman, refugees from Gainesville, home to the FL Gators.  This, a relief, after three dazzling hours of million dollar cars in Miles Collier’s private museum.

Catching a ride to dinner with Mike, Mary Jo, and young Joseph Herrmann, genuine Californians, the latter playing hookey while tap-dancing around middle school truancy.

In a very dark parking lot, I manage to thumb a ride back to the hotel with Hagerty rep, Jen McWhinnie, a SYT barely old enough to be my granddaughter. Without hesitation or equivocation, she offers the shotgun seat, unaware that I may possess outstanding warrants or priors as a serial killer.  Blind trust by one very cute kid.

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The Hagerty WOW factor, an unfair competitive advantage

Conference call with gurus, the two Dons and Walt Puryear, to confirm the fine points of carburetor installation with our mechanic Seth, 180 miles distant.

Depart Punta Gorda hotel, Friday, at 3:30 AM, clutching a used Solex PHH, a doughnut, and GPS.

Mark, Jerry, and  Seth, the A-Team of European Car Clinic, Ocala, FL, perform surgery on Baby Jane’s PMS and get us back on the road.

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Intensive care unit, intravenous 15W40, and skinned knuckles

Forewarned that the replacement unit might still run lean, sucking air from the resultant warping of both the intake surface and carburetor body, I was guaranteed safe passage to Indiana.  The long hill climbs in the south become a challenge to maintain 70+ mph, however the right hand lane, between semis, becomes your new best friend.

Avoiding a mirror replay of the trip south, fueled by anxiety and loneliness and robust Starbucks, I’m northbound on overused I-75.  It has the personality of styrofoam, and at each interchange, faceless motels, gas, and food too fast to be taken seriously.  Ringed in asphalt, like the excessive use of eyeliner applied to an aging prostitute.

Tifton, GA, Jericho, TN, and the mandatory stop in Corbin, KY for KFC, home to Colonel Sanders, and birthplace of the secret 11 herbs and spices; original, crispy chicken. Tastes better here, they say.

It isn’t.

A curious irony  at this convention, having attended ten over two decades, was peeling the veneer from so many delightful people.  The norm is to congregate with the familiar, the friends you’ve grown to know well, and become oblivious of newcomers.  Sans my wife, dog, and without a car, this became the best meeting ever, the result of a roadside calamity.  Divine intervention.

A future as a vulgar lyricist, i.e., challenging Kanye, Jay-Z, and Fifty Cent, is not in the wings for this contributor.  I gave up by singing, “What’s it all aboot, Alfie?” and opted for a moment of reflection in rural FL, Sholom Park.  An exquisite stoic beast three feet in length.

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Cincinnati, Indy, and home, sweet, ‘back home again in Indiana’, 2630 adventurous miles.  Home to dog, Jack, my darling wife, Lynn, reunited after ten days, we practice our flying butt bump  in the family room, as if we are in the end zone, and just taken the lead in the fourth quarter.  No small task when each of us has a vertical leap of three inches.

And no tattoos.

 

 

©insightout2013

 

Baptists & Prisons

October 15th, 2013 by insightout

dateline: Ocala, FL

alert: minor Airstream reference

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In Pooler, Georgia, a bi-polar city vehicle, the SquadTaxi

Traveling four days in a 53 year old mercedes roadster, twelve hundred trouble-free miles on the odometer, destination Punta Gorda, southwest Florida, and I’ve hit the wall. Unable to maintain idle, stalling at every intersection, I’m now on a flatbed headed to the European Car Clinic.

Suspicious that the car is running on only 2 cylinders, of the four available, I’ll have to await the diagnosis. Here’s hoping it isn’t open heart surgery.

Having driven vintage cars for>forty years, this is, quite simply, an adventure in motoring. What the hell, write a blog. The most visited national park, the Great Smokies, is nearly suffocated by the tawdry tourism of Pigeon Forge, Sevierville, Dollywood, and Gasplingburg. However, breaking through the pea soup fog in early morning sunrise, the view from above the clouds is an ecstatic panorama in resplendent fall colors….nothing ober nor uber, and not a single waterpark to dampen nature’s splendor.

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Mountain dew (actual) at pre-dawn on the boot lid

Years since I’ve made this trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway remains a great ride. The stop in Saluda,SC, the most photographed nostalgic main street in the USA, a visual delight. A shaded park bench, a honey crisp apple from the 1890 Thompson grocery, and a half hour of girl watching…makes for a reluctant departure.

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Oldest grovery in NC, where you can still buy a bar of BonAmi®

I-95 in Georgia is nightmarish except for sighting a continuous stream of motorcycles en route to Daytona Beach for Bike Week, the southern version of Sturgis, SD. A group of vintage Porsches, all owned and driven by Belgians, is on tour, a pilgrimage of sorts, from NY city to Miami. Le Tour de Automobile. Nice cars, good-lucking guys, French accents, and gorgeous women riding shotgun.

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Oooo,la, la

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Photoshopped image of my favorite redhead on R. Luhr’s BMX bike

Pastoral setting under the Darien, Georgia bridge, from the deck of Skippers, the best seafood restaurant in a state that worships peaches.

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Shrimp boats awaiting high tide

The most common vehicle south of Jacksonville is the 400,000 off-road fleet driven by elderly, white retirees. Not the ubiquitous Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Marquis, or Ford Crown Victoria, they’re all made by Cushman and E-Z-Go.

Promised airstream reference, Nintendo character demonstrates vista view windows on an aging retrofit for travel.

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In the same Hampton Inn parking lot where the old 121 chassis is being loaded on a flat bed for the trip to the clinic.

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Tim H., tow truck driver extraordinaire, tightens the straps

The title line is a tangential reference to Florida’s two most profitable industries. Not citrus agriculture, nor discount coupon travel guide publishing, oxycodone abuse, or even freedom from state income tax; Baptist churches and incarceration facilities rank #1 and #2. If you’re searching for Jesus here in the Sunshine State, they’ve got you covered.

Before or after you’ve sinned.

Tesla : Preamble in tunnel vision

August 19th, 2013 by insightout

The rosy fingers of a Saturday dawn are welcomed, late September, 2008, after the six mile drive and 2500 foot climb up the winding road of Rancho Carrillo. Named for Leo Carrillo, the Cisco Kid’s mischievious sidekick, Pancho, the ranch is an idyllic mountaintop respite from the urban torture of Orange County.

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The event, a popular cars & coffee excuse for the sybaritic motor culture in southern California, attracts a hundred vehicles of every ilk; none of which are routine, pedestrian, nor inexpensive.  The morning feature is a prototype electric sports car, the Tesla, rather sexy looking, attached to a 220 volt charging station that resembles the yacht cable on a marina pier or the type for a monster motorhome.  8007568972_d4077a73cf_cThree members of the Tesla team explain the virtue of electric cars, a century-old concept, now invigorated with advanced technology. Below, antiquated technology.

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DSCN1891The infectious enthusiasm of one, Elon Musk, a 37 y/o South African with the clipped accent of Ernie Els, is intoxicating.  Apparently now, my 190SL companions tell me, a billionaire from the sale of his popular credit card scheme, PayPal®, an unlikely visionary sipping on dark roasted Starbucks® morning blend. Referencing a possible IPO for the company in a year or two, he is impressive, yet I see only the failed ghosts of Preston Tucker, John DeLorean, Edsel Ford, and Malcolm Bricklin.

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By 9:30 AM, a local horse show commences, a gorgeous array from 4 years old to 40 years old, and the horses aren’t bad looking either.  We begin the invigorating downhill run, top down, on the legendary “zoom-zoom” road made famous in Mazda Miata commercials.  I’m smug, smiling, contemplating how laughable and foolish a stock offering would be for an unproved, limited production, six figure sports car.  Even as a dedicated gearhead, I could not, would not, embrace the fantasy. DSCN1903

 

On June 29, 2010, the stock, symbol TSLA, opened at $19.00/share.

On Friday, August 16, 2013, it closed at $142.00/ share.

The horses weren’t the only ones with blinders on that California hilltop.

 

©insightout2013

 

 

 

About the Author

Retired 1997.
Frequent travel. Loyal companions: wife, Lynn; dog, Jack.
Avocation: writing social and political satire.
Past life: three decade clinical pharmacy owner. Now in recovery.
Location: Northern Indiana, Eastern U.P. of Michigan, Southern Arizona

No telephone;
E-mail cspiher@aol.com