Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

First Drive

To commemorate the 50th anniversary today of the introduction of the Ford Mustang, I thought I’d share with you a little bit from the epic novel-in-progress Bobby Cramer.

In a previous post I told you how he got his father’s 1966 Mustang GT convertible as a graduation present.  Now he’s taking it out for its first drive.


The scene is Perrysburg, Ohio.  The time is May 1980.  Bobby is 18.

He only stalled the car once while turning around in the parking area in front of the house.  He looked to see if his father was still watching, but he’d already gone back into the house.  He slowly went up the driveway and made it out onto River Road without another stall.

The Mustang felt nothing like driving the Cadillac.  The growl of the engine and the whistle of the wind through the car made it feel like he was actually driving instead of floating on a cloud.  He turned on the radio, found a rock station, and cranked it up.

He heard the rustle of paper from the back seat and glanced back to see a white envelope fluttering around.  He reached back, grabbed it, and stuffed it under his leg.  When he got to the stoplight on West Boundary Street, he pulled it out.  It was addressed to “Mustang Bobby.”  He chuckled and stuffed it in his back pocket.

He pulled into the Marathon station on the corner of Indiana Avenue and Elm Street.  Filling the tank took cost almost fifteen dollars and Bobby wondered what the gas mileage was on a car like his.

At the next pump, a middle-aged woman was filling her Pontiac Le Mans.  It was red with a black vinyl top.  The lady smiled at Bobby and said, “That’s a beautiful car.”  Bobby grinned.  “Thanks!”

He drove out Louisiana Avenue, across the I-75 overpass, and out into the country.  He was now on McCutcheonville Road and it led straight southeast as if it had been drawn by a huge ruler, past fields and houses, the wind carrying the scent of fresh earth, cut grass, and the occasional whiff of exhaust from the tractors chugging through the rows.  Corn had been planted in a lot of the fields and the green stalks were already up in their rows that flashed by with dizzying precision.

There was very little traffic, and when the road was clear and he was sure there were no Wood County sheriffs cars to be seen, he pressed the accelerator, moving the needle past 55, then 65, then 75 before letting up and coasting back to the limit.  The car felt solid, handling the bumps in the pavement with ease.

The Road to the Quarry 09-24-11He drove ten miles, turning west on Sugar Ridge Road, then proceeded at a leisurely pace to the tiny town of Sugar Ridge, passing a tractor towing a hay wagon, waving at the teenager standing on the wagon.  Bobby caught a glimpse of the boy in t-shirt, jeans, and a baseball cap, and remembered the kid he’d seen last Christmas selling Christmas trees in the parking lot.  The boy waved back.

He made his way along the back roads, cutting back west until he came out to Haskins Road, which he knew led back home, and less than an hour after he left he parked the Mustang in the driveway in front of the house.

He read Jill’s letter sitting on the porch.  Her handwriting was firm but graceful on the lined notebook paper, and she started out right away.

Mustang Bobby –

 If you’re reading this for the first time, you’ve probably already taken the Mustang out for a joyride and cruised through your burg like the total badass I know you’re not.  I hope you had a good time anyway.

Damn if I don’t miss you already.  The place isn’t the same without you and G hanging out here and lowering the class rating on Sully’s by a notch.  Josh is busy as hell with finals even though they don’t mean anything and I don’t care because unless a miracle happens I’m not getting into Smith… as if I’d go there anyway.  Graduation next week will be a total waste and I plan to get wasted to go along with it.  Not really… seen enough of that in dear old dad and don’t need to carry on that family tradition.

I meant what I said about you meeting someone.  Don’t wait for him to find you.  Find your kindred spirit and make the first move.  I want a full report when you do.

Thanks again for everything, Bobby.  And thanks for introducing me to Garrett.  Now it’s your turn.

Hugs – JM

My real first drive in my first Mustang was in April 1969 with my dad coming home from Brondes Ford where we’d bought it.  That was a fun drive, too.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday, March 21, 2014

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Catblogging

The Pontiac is back from J’s Automotive, and for the first time in twenty years, it’s not leaking oil.

"No runs, no drips, no errors."

“No runs, no drips, no errors.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Little Night Music

The title is “Thanksgiving.”  No, I’m not mixing up the holidays, but offering thanks for friends and family gathering together from near and not-so-near and sharing their gift of friendship and love.  You don’t need to be religious to do that; just human.  So look around at your world: your family, if they are near, or friends, co-workers, neighbors, even that person down the street that you don’t know but lift a hand in greeting as you go by and exchange a nod.  We all share a common bond; we all live on the same spaceship; we all seek comfort in good times and sorrow, at celebration and mourning.

I am thankful to have my friends, my family, my circle.  Peace.

The Sense of Christmas

Continuing a tradition I began back when this blog was new, which is another way of saying that I’ve posted this on Christmases past…

Christmas WreathWhen I was a kid, our family lived in a house with tall ceilings so we always got a Christmas tree that was at least ten feet tall – maybe taller. (It could have been less, but when you’re six or seven, it looks a lot taller.) We had tons of decorations from our family history; gingerbread decorations held together with fine wire, bubble lights that never seemed to work right, and hundreds of ornaments. We always had a debate about tinsel – I hated it, my sister wanted it. Guess who won that one. Every year we put the tree in a different room – one year in the living room, the next in the front parlor, and then in the bay window in the dining room.

That was not the extent of the decorating by any means. While my family was not particularly religious, we went all out for the season in the decor mode that would have made Martha Stewart get out of the business. This was a tradition carried on from both of my parent’s families; my father tells how his father was a meticulous hanger of the old-fashioned lead tinsel, and my mother’s family did it up to the heights of giddiness that included the tree and presents magically appearing overnight on Christmas Eve. So we had a legacy to live up to. Lights on the front porch were interwoven in the cedar roping that looped down from the eaves. There was more roping on the bannister going up the front stairs, tied on with red ribbons, and roping again around the big mirror in the front hall. Candles in Christmas candelabra filled the house with the scent of candle smoke, merging with the evergreens, and on Christmas Eve, when the big roast was in the oven for the dinner with Aunt Margaret, the house was awash with homey aromas.

We had an old-fashioned hi-fi system with speakers throughout the first floor of the house, and as we put up the tree and the roping – usually the weekend before Christmas – we would dig out the Christmas LP’s. The perennial was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Joy To the World that began with “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” That would be followed by the Bing Crosby Merry Christmas album and anything else we had in the rack.

We had two fireplaces in the house, including one in the kitchen, so that’s where we hung our stockings with care. Christmas morning would arrive and the four kids would line up, youngest first, on the back stairs, squirming with anticipation until we were let into the kitchen and a breakfast of Christmas baked treats, including a Scandinavian stollen baked by a family friend. (Never one who liked things like that, I often wished the stollen would be stolen….) Then we’d line up at the appropriate closed door behind which lay the treasure. Nearly fainting with the anticipation, the door would be flung open – a four-voiced gasp of breath, followed by pounding feet and squeals of delight. We took turns, shredding the wrapping, opening the boxes, reading the tags – “From Mom and Dad,” “From Santa,” “From Grammie.” My mother kept a list of who got what from whom so that the thank-you notes could be written. There was always one Big Present for each kid – a bicycle, skis, a train set, a kitten – and lots of books and clothes, too. And each child was sure to give his sibling something, usually something oddly appropriate; like lavender bath beads from me to my sister.

When it was all over, the trash can was filled with the wrappings, the loot taken upstairs, and new clothes tried on. I would pore through the new books until I was nagged to get dressed to go to Christmas dinner somewhere else – with cross-town relatives or the Carranor Club – and the streets would be empty as we piled into the station wagon. We’d come home in the cold and dark, tired from all the excitement, ready to come down from the sugar-spiked high. The next day we’d pack up for our annual skiing trip to Boyne Mountain in Michigan, complete with its own set of sense memories.

These traditions were carried on as we each grew up and started our own families, adding our own touches; Allen and I merged some of each to come up with our own for fifteen years, including the tree (artificial, though – he’s allergic to pine) and music. (I’ve got the Bing Crosby CD on as I write this.) My sister has passed it on to her children, and my younger brother, with his three kids, carries on much as we did when we were young.

So while there may not be a whole lot of religion in any of it, there’s the strength of the ties of family and love that surpasses any denominational definition. It is a common thread that binds us all together whether we say “Happy Holidays,” “Merry Christmas,” “Felice Navidad” (which I immediately corrupted to “Fleas On Your Dad”), “Happy Hanukkah,” or “Good Kwanzaa.” It’s the sense of togetherness and hope that can be spread regardless of whether or not you celebrate the birth of the son of God, and the thankfulness that you feel that you have made it through yet another year and look forward to making the next one better.

The Spirit of Christmas Past

Back when Allen and I lived in Longmont, the local mall offered pictures of your pet with Santa Claus. Allen took Sam and plopped him in the lap of the long-suffering jolly old elf (who doesn’t look so damn jolly) and got this once-in-a-lifetime photo. From Christmas 1989…

With Santa 1989

Thursday, December 5, 2013