Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 209/365 Thanks For the Memories

After two days of internet car shopping at somewhere like a thousand dealerships, scouring safety ratings for various cars, and researching mileage ratings -we found the Daughter a new(to us) car. Spent all day yesterday at the dealer, and went back this morning to take the trade-in, and pick up the rookie.

The rookie is nice: safe and reliable, shiny and new in all the right places, great mileage and more than enough air bags to make this mother happy. But it's got a long way to go before it fills the shoes of its predecessor.

The car above - a 1986 Nissan Maxima - was in our family for 24 years. It was a one owner vehicle, until my mother trusted it enough to give to her only grandchild for a first car. It was an amazing car that ended up running 225,000 miles. It was alive. Plus it talked.

After 24 years, the trim started to fall off in one spot.

The front driver's headlight had to be periodically drained of rain water (but it worked fine with or without water).

It still had a cassette player, and only got two radio stations...

Because the automatic antenna was disconnected by my dad several years ago when it started sticking.

And it's biggest fault was what you don't see here: no cupholders. Not a one. No one drank in 1986 apparently.

The air conditioner was just replaced for the second time a couple months ago, but the button that controlled it worked sporadically.

The drivers arm rest was just super glued in place on Monday, and while it looks to be normal length here, it's actually designed for Japanese arms (like the amount of leg and head room, which is bad when two out of three people in a family are over 6').

This is the gas cap. It's literally chained to the car because my dad got tired of me borrowing the car and leaving the gas caps behind at the gas station. This car also had a peculiar fume filter mechanism that only allowed the gas to pump into the tank s-l-o-w-l-y ....meaning it took awhile to fill the tank, and pumping was really an acquired skill.

When Daughter got the car, the first thing she did was put bumper stickers on it (much to my dad's dismay -he is a non-bumper sticker person). Women in our family are not at all well-behaved, so my mother thought the bumperstickers were a great idea.

This one got us in trouble sometimes, and other times, helped us out. (One of the salesmen at a dealer yesterday actually took a look at our Obama sticker, and *increased* the price of the vehicle we were looking at. Yes, that's the kind of redneck county we live in.)

And this one doesn't help any either, but it keeps the locals on their toes.

The Maxima got great gas mileage, even if the gas gauge is right next to the voltage meter, and it took me forever to realize I was looking at the wrong gauge, and that we did not always have a half tank of gas (realized this on a 6-lane interstate near Newport News, with no exits or gas stations in sight).

The Maxima was top of the line in technology in 1986 - it has a nifty keyless entry that was coded, as well as side headlights that came on whenever you made a turn at night, illuminating the road in front as well as the road you were turning into. It was a heavy car, constructed when steel was actually steel, and it held the road in flash floods and on solid glare ice, on mountain roads. When everyone else was in the ditch, we were on the road, shiny side up, moving right along.

And it had the Voice.

Just like Kit in the Knight Rider - the Maxima talked. Always calm and collected, she told us when the "right door is open" or "key is in the ignition". That voice came out of nowhere, and startled all the mechanics except for her personal physician Robert, who never let anyone else work on her when she was in the shop.

On the way to the dealer this morning, we stopped to drop off a videogame. She ran fine, until I tried to restart her, and then she was completely dead. She KNEW that we were about to turn her in at the dealer for a younger model. Fortunately my husband came with his car and jumped the battery (which is almost new, and had nothing wrong with it). The Maxima started up, having sent us the message that she was perfectly aware of what was going on.

We haven't broken the news to Robert the mechanic yet. I guess we'll have to take the rookie around and introduce her eventually. She's got a long ways to go though.

Being shiny and new isn't everything. You've got to earn your spot in the family.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Day 208/365 Texas Goes To The Dogs

"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past." *

History has once again been revised, courtesy of five radical fundamental Christians that control the Texas State Board of Education, who last Friday voted to *finally* teach the "truth".

Therefore, from this point on:

  • Jerry Falwell is an important historical figure
  • Thomas Jefferson is *not*
  • The word "democratic" is dismissed from all discussion of America's history
  • The concept of "separation of church and state" is dismissed
  • The cause of the Civil War was "sectionalism, states rights and slavery".
  • Slavery was not that important,because there was no actual 'slave trade' -it was the "Atlantic triangulation trade"

Yep. Slave trade - never happened. All in your imagination.

"Separation of church and state"? Never intended by our deeply religious Christian founders (who only pretended to be Deists).

Jerry Falwell- religious bigot? Nope. Important historical figure.

"Democratic"? Not on your life.

I cannot imagine a better argument for homeschooling your children than this single word: Texas.

As horrible as it is that school children in Texas will be taught this revised garbage, it's worse yet that most textbook publishers design their product to suit Texas, the largest textbook consumer.

That means the rest of America's children will be taught this conservative ideological worldview, and most parents will not think to read the textbooks first, and note in the margins which statements are complete rubbish or out-and-out lies.

The Great State of California has already introduced an amendment requiring the review of any educational materials that include the Texas curriculum. Hopefully other states will follow suit, or at least the ones who want to produce thinking, intelligent American citizens.

Of course, that's the last thing Texas wants to do.

A thinking, intelligent populace would put an end to this stupidity.

*George Orwell, 1984

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 207/365 Bird Brains

My dad is a fisheries biologist. When I was around 6 years old, he was teaching at LSU, and running grad student camps in the various National Wildlife Refuges located in southern Louisiana. Basically this means my mother and I were taken along on long trips into the Louisiana salt marsh.

I have a very vivid memory of helping to band birds, or trying to help. The basic idea at that time was to set up long net tunnels, flush the birds into the tunnel, then walk into the tunnel and try to attach tiny metal bands to even tinier bird legs, all without harming the bird. The bands have identifying information, which eventually helps to track migratory birds all over the world.

Mind you the birds don't just walk up and offer up their little legs for banding. They tend to flutter, fly up in your face, and generally induce visions of Alfred Hitchcock movies.

In my case, a grackel lost its patience with my 6-year-old hands, pecked me relentlessly, tore a hole in my glove, and caused a personal life-long dislike for birds.

But I digress.

In order to go about the business of banding birds, one is hauled into a pirouge (a Cajun flat-bottom boat), and begins a trip into the bayou marsh.

At sunset.

The further the pirouge slides into the marsh, the darker it gets.

Nothing like a marsh in the moonlight.

Of course there are lots of other creatures besides birds in the marsh.

And you can keep the boat in the middle by watching for the shine of the alligator eyes on the banks.

And sometimes right up by the boat. This is not the time to let your hand trail in the water.

Here's the rub:

Seventy percent of the birds in North America pass through the Louisiana marshlands. The southern Louisiana wildlife refuges are just that: refuges. This is the intersection of the Central and Mississippi flyways for migratory birds - the biggest birdie highway in the world. Every one of these millions of birds uses these wetlands to rest, feed and nest, then continues on its journey to Canada, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Colorado, and all other points north.

These birds include the ducks and geese for hunters, as well as the songbirds in your backyard.

Today, the most dangerous thing in the marsh no longer has glowing eyes.

Thanks to a careless corporate giant and an ineffectual government agency, we have a massive ecological catastrophe on our hands, not only for the Great State of Louisiana, but for the rest of the world.

Now what the hell do we do?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 206/365 Vanity and Oil Spills

Living in Virginia in the summer is no place to have long hair. I've been meaning to get it cut for awhile, but couldn't decide how I wanted it cut, meanwhile it kept growing. I had long hair most of my life till my mid twenties, when I cut it off because I got my first "real job". After hearing from numerous people how that was an incredibly bad idea, it started getting long again. Now I find myself 54 years old, with a daughter who tells me my hair makes me look older (it probably does).

But here's the thing - somehow I raised a teenager and my hair didn't turn gray. Probably due to a long-ago Cherokee genetic input (that's another family history story), but still, it's my own personal vanity that my hair looks younger than I do.

I work for myself at home, so no reason to cut it for a job, and outside of my daughter no one cares much one way or the other. But boy is it hot in the summer.

So along comes the oil spill, which may kill off what's left of my hometown and my favorites beaches where I grew up.

And turns out there's this company, Matter of Trust, that's collecting hair (any kind of hair: human,dog,cat, whatever) to stuff into nylons (remember nylons?). The nylons form hair berms, which are then stuffed into larger berms, and laid along the Gulf of Mexico shoreline, and they soak up the oil.

This is a good cause.

I may finally cut my hair for this. It's to save the beaches I played on as a child, and partied on as a young adult. I almost got married on one of those beaches. My favorite picture of my parents was taken on the shores of Ship Island. I have still have seashells and sand I collected years ago from the Biloxi beaches.

But vanity is a funny thing. Once it turns gray, I won't care, but it's really hard to part with right now.

I'll shave the dogs instead.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 205/365 Book Sale Season....Again

And there have in the last 5 weeks. There was suppose to be 12, but I got the date mixed up and missed it yesterday.

No worries though, 'cause I hit the estate sales today, and found a ton with paperbacks. Like I'm running short on them or something.

So once again my livingroom looks like a demented book hoarder's house - oh, wait - it IS a demented book hoarder's house. Never mind, I spend tomorrow sorting, boxing, and stashing them away in the bookroom, and everything will go back to normal.

But - tonight - right away - I listed the find of the day - bought it at 40% off and was delighted to find it for my geneaology collection, then got home and realized I actually already own the reprint facsimile edition _SO_ this first edition 1922 copy is now up for sale on Amazon.

This would cover the Harman-Peery side of the family whereas Captain Thomas Peery married Sarah Josephine Muncy, waited a whole 15 minutes or so and then rode off to the Civil War, and didn't return for 4 years. Amazingly she remembered his name when he returned. Even more amazing they had 16 kids together. He must have spent the rest of his life making up for the whole "marry me baby, oops, did I not mention there's a war goin' on??"

This copy has the previous owners name on the front loose endpaper: P.D. Johnston, 2/22/23. I'm actually related to the Johnston's on the other side of my family (Appalachian mountains-we're all related eventually, or sometimes only a cousin or so away).

The author, John Newton Harman. Yep, related to him too. I actually have a first cousin who is married to our fifth cousin. And a first cousin married to a third cousin, both of whom are related to me through both my mom and dad's families. We really need someone to invent a circular family tree diagram.

If you need this nifty genealogy book, it's up for sale by Chewybooks: Annals of Tazewell County, by John Newton Harman,Sr., at least as of today, May 8,2010.

Buy it and find out if we're related. I'm pretty sure we are.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 204/365 And then there were three....

Lucky Muncy, son of Maximillian Magruder Muncy and the late Millicent MacGregor Muncy, passed away this morning, at the age of eleven and one-half years, almost a year to the day after his mother.

Lucky was one of three pups, including his brothers Whiny and Shy (of West Virginia), and his younger adopted brother, Chewy.

Of his entire family, Lucky was the adventuresome one, the Indiana Jones of puppies, the one who would roll with the flow,go anywhere, try anything.

Lucky was the one who chewed through the refrigerator power cord, when it was plugged in, and astounded the vet by still being alive. Lucky was the one who went camping, and rode in the front of the boat showing no fear.

He was the heart of both his puppy family and his human family .

Lucky was the easy-going one when it came to grooming, and his favorite spot was sleeping in mom's lap while she trimmed mats, and tidied up his beard.

His second favorite spot was under mom's desk, in front of the little heater.

Lucky Muncy
November 11, 1998-May 5, 2010
Now sleeping with the butterflies, and sorely missed by his family.