This video of Eddie and I on the road was taken a few years ago but I've recently unearthed it and thought I'd share it with all of you. The song is Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me by Keith Urban. I thought the lyrics really fit the on-the-road lifestyle we have. Enjoy!
NOTE: YouTube restricted this the last time I uploaded the video - you know, the song copyright bullshit - so if for some reason this video doesn't work, email me at email@example.com and I'll try to send you a link that works.)
Not the stripper pole, mind you. The fireman's pole.
Let me explain...
Ed has a bit of trouble getting up. Whether it's the morning, from an afternoon nap or in the middle of the night when it's his turn to drive.
I call him, he doesn't respond. I nudge him, he doesn't move. I yell, he stretches and turns over. He is impossible to wake up.
I always wake him at least an hour before I would wake a normal person. For example, if I know we have to leave at say 7am, meaning actually drive away from wherever we are parked at 7am, I will wake Ed at 6. He likes to do something he calls "greeting the day". When I ask him to get out of bed, he sleepily answers "But I'm greeting the day." And I always tell him, "Well, do it a little faster."
So I wake him, he greets the day, then he takes about fifteen minutes to actually get himself out of bed. He flips back the covers, does a five minute cat stretch, scratches his nether region, stretches again, then he rolls himself toward the edge of the bed, thinking about getting out of it but then decides against it and stretches again, then he throws one leg over the edge of the bed, letting it dangle for a few minutes before he thinks about moving the other leg, then as he throws the second leg over, and hauls his body up to a sitting position. He rubs his eyes like Rip Van Winkle, looks around as if he's trying to figure out where he is and how the hell he got there, and then he stands up.
After he stands, he lumbers (and I do mean lumbers) to the bathroom, takes what I think is an inordinate amount of time to just pee, then comes out to locate what he'll be wearing for the day. This is usually the quickest part of him getting ready since I lay out his outfit for him. Unless of course, he's wearing sneakers instead of flip-flops. If that's the case, then it's another ten minutes for him to put on socks and tie his shoes.
Then he has to make oatmeal, have his coffee and walk the eleven feet from the sleeper into the cab of the truck to start driving. Oh. My. God. Can he have taken longer to get this rig rolling??? Do you now see why it takes us forever to get anywhere? Just getting out of bed takes him forty-five minutes.
That's where the pole comes in.
Once when I told Ed he needed to get out of bed faster like I do, he told me that I was like a fireman; I jump out of bed like I'm going to a fire. He's exactly right. The alarm rings and I am up! Ready to go!
I always know where my hose is, and like a Boy Scout, I'm always prepared.
This is in response to Txjerry2, who left a comment on my Robin Hood post:
Let’s break down your comment in sections (your words in bold, my response directly following) since you either missed the point in my post or didn’t read it thoroughly:
Why does everyone what to demonize those that are wealthy? Who is demonizing the wealthy?
Don't we all aspire to being in a position that we do not have to worry about money. Of course. Who doesn’t? I never said otherwise.
True, some did not work at all for the money and some worked very hard for it, just like you and I are doing. What difference does it make how you get your money? That’s not the issue.
Whats $9,000 more tax if your rich? If you read the article, $9,000.00 is 9/10 of ONE percent if you’re netting $1 million a year in PURE PROFIT. I don’t know what circles you travel in, but I’ve never met a person who nets more than $83,000 a month.
When our country is in crisis – either in a time of war, a national disaster, needing maintenance and repair on our roads and bridges, fire/police/ambulance departments needing to get paid - one of the ways our government can take care of its people is by generating revenue by taxing those people. If you claim to be a citizen who cares about their country, then you will do your part to alleviate any crisis we as a people are going through. Right now, we have a health care crisis, so everyone who is able to do a little more so that 22,000 people a year don’t die, should do it.
I think the same could be said of you. What is say $900 more in tax for you to support the health care reform. Exactly. What IS $900 more? Again, if you read the post, you would have read where I said I’d be HAPPY to pay more in taxes so others can have health care.
You seem to be doing pretty well with a new modern truck and computers, etc. is that fair. Now you kind of sound like you’re demonizing me for having a modern truck and computer, which are tools of my trade but again, yes I do think it’s fair to help others who aren’t as fortunate (as Obama said at the end of the article) to be as financially secure as I am.
Or if that is not so much fun, I am sure there is a truck driver out there that can't afford to repair his truck or put fuel in it. I think the government should require you to give your truck to that needy driver 2 days a week and you pay for all the expenses. He gets all the pay. That is only 2/7 of your week and you still have 5/7 of a week to make what you need. Does that sound fair? I guess if I were netting a million dollars a year, I could probably afford to miss work two days a week. But even then, your math doesn’t really add up. If you want to compare me giving my truck to a "needy driver" for the same percentage of time that would match the 9/10 of ONE percent of what a millionaire would be paying in extra taxes, that would work out to me letting that other trucker drive my truck for four minutes a day, which would be 8 minutes total for the two days you want me to help them out. So yeah, I guess that does sound fair.
Based on your post that is what you are asking those that have achieved wealth to do for the health care reform. Remember there were very few "poor" folks that created the businesses that you deliver to or deliver for. Most started small and with minimal interference of the government they have grown and have created jobs. Not sure that is going to continue any more. Just another way of looking at things that make it "fair". You’re right, there are a lot of small mom and pops that have grown and created jobs, and they’ve paid taxes while they were growing to support the United States of America. What is going on right now is called CORPORATE WELFARE, where giant corporations are getting tax breaks so they have extra money to hire lobbyists to control our lawmakers so that new mom and pops don’t have a chance to grow. Do you think THAT is fair?? Because of the rising cost of health care and the outsourcing of a majority of our jobs, many of those places you think we deliver to, have shut their doors. And that is why in the last ten years we have lost thousands of trucking companies and people continue to lose their jobs AND their health care.
As long as my hardworking friends and family (many of whom fought for this country) cannot afford health care for themselves, their children and their spouses, in addition to not being able to have money for the medications and care they need into their old age, I’m going to find it really hard to be convinced that I should feel bad for millionaires and predaceous corporations.
It’s disheartening to know that these people continue to place more importance on their bankrolls than a human life.
Yesterday, my mother's friend sent me this article from the local paper. Along with the link, she wrote, "The paper in Tucson this morning had the headline: WOMAN DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILER KILLED - guess she and hubby had been a team for 10 years. I tell you this why? Cause I am pissed off --- if it had been the man driving it would have said DRIVER only."
I do believe she is absolutely right about that. I think within the article they would have eventually gotten to the driver's gender, but if it were a guy driving the headline most likely would not have said, MAN DRIVING TRACTOR TRAILER KILLED. I sent an email to the reporter of the article, asking why he chose to point out in the headline that it was a woman driving, but he hasn't responded yet.
I often wonder about the discrimination part of being a female driver because I never seem to experience it. Mind you, I don't drive solo like GiGi does and I don't drive as part of a girl team like the Hags do, but any time I approach a shipper, receiver or even a random person in the truck stop, I feel perfectly accepted and not discriminated against at all.
In fact, being a girl often seems to work in my favor - like in situations where I feel we've been waiting to long to get loaded so I go talk to someone about moving things along, or as I recently experienced, when being searched to get on a military base. The guard was so smitten with me, I don't even think he ever searched the truck; which was a good thing because I had loads of chocolate stashed in places Ed doesn't know about.
It may have been because we shared a birthday (which he noticed as he checked my I.D.), or the fact that I gave him the grand tour of our sleeper (he was amazed at my tidy kitchen and well-stocked pantry), or it may have been because during all our mutual flirting (he was well into his 60's) I told him I'd leave Eddie right then and there and take him on the road with me if he'd just let me in on the secret of what the hell they're actually looking for when they do this damn truck search.
A similar thing happened when I got pulled over in the wee hours of the morning in south (way near the border) Texas. The cop pulled me over because my license plate light was out and asked me to exit the truck and meet him at his patrol car with my logs. I got my laptop, which is where we keep our log, and my bills of lading and met Burly Cop at the rear of the trailer. By that time, he must have called for backup because another (very handsome) officer pulled up as we were standing there.
They were both super-nice and when Burly went to check out the truck, Handsome checked out my logs. He said, "This is pretty awesome. We pull over a LOT of 18-wheelers and this is the first time I've ever seen a log kept on a computer."
As we went through the log book, Burly came back and said to Handsome, "You need to go check out the truck."
"Didn't you just check it out?" Handsome said.
"Yeah. But you need to see it." Off Handsome went.
So now while Handsome was looking at the truck, all official-like, Burly went over my logs again and my bills of lading. He asked what we were hauling and whether he could look under the tarps.
I said, "Sure - do you want me to un-tarp it for you?" fully hoping they would say no, which is exactly what he did. Instead, when Handsome got back to the trailer, he told him to hop up and take a look under the tarp.
As he did, he asked, "So, did you check out that sleeper?"
"Yeah, real nice." said Handsome.
Burly walked back to his cruiser to check my license, etc. while I pulled up interior pictures of the sleeper on my computer to show Handsome while we waited. I said, "If my boyfriend weren't in there sleeping and it wasn't two in the morning, I'd give you the grand tour." He just laughed and oohed and ahhed over my photos. He said "wow" several times and then, "Are you shitting me? You have a shower in there? And a kitchen??"
A few more minutes of chit-chat and I was on my way. No ticket, no problems. I even asked Burly if he wanted me to fix that light right then and there and he waved his hand and said, "Nah - just pick one up next time you stop." Handsome told me where the nearest truck stop would be and that they may have the bulb I needed. See how smooth that went?
Ed is all business when he deals with people. I'm more of a schmoozer. Well, unless you're a total moron. Then I just can't bring myself to deal with you and I have to call Eddie in to take over because he's waaay more patient. But other than that, I can get just about anyone to do just about anything to help me out in my time of need...
The bitchy lady at the submarine base? She loves me now. It may be because I commented on her sweater, which just happened to be knitted by her late mother. Who knew?
Canadian border agents? They love to hear you talk about how wonderful their country is.
The manager at Home Depot or Lowe's when we need a place to park? More than happy to help. (email me if you want my secret parking spot in Long Beach...wink-wink)
And the toll booth operators? They give me candy. OK, that only happened once - but it did happen.
I have a friend who has been driving a truck for over thirty years and he's a bit hardcore in the thinking that if a women is going to be driving a truck, she should do everything the man does. Ummmm....that's just crap.
Ed tried to pull that on me. Once. His mother used to drive a truck with his Dad and early on Ed said to me, "my mother gets fuel for the truck" in an effort to have me fill the tanks.
Um, yeah, I don't care what your mother does. If she wants to get fuel, more power to her. But whether I'm driving a car or a truck, if there is a man present, he's pumping the gas. Blame my upbringing for that - specifically my father and my grandfather. Where I grew up, the men would never let the woman pump gas. It's not that I don't know how to do it. I just don't want to do it. And I really shouldn't have to if you're there - that's what men are for.
Same with loading the truck; I don't usually do any of the loading. Oh, I've helped Ed with tarps and chains and straps when he needs me, but it's dirty. And hot. And I don't really want to be climbing all over the trailer if I don't have to. Besides, Ed has such a system and does everything so quickly, I'd just be in his way anyway. He often says, when we show up at a location where there are also other teams loading, that he can strap and tarp his load alone faster than the two of them can together.
I guess I'm not too much of a feminist because I don't think these tasks need to be equally divided, lest I feel slighted for not being given the same opportunity as my male counter-parts to pump fuel, load trailers, take out garbage or kill big bugs. I'm traditional like that.
But to me, the headline of that article implies that the driver of the rig was killed because she was a woman, and it draws attention to the story because I think people will want to read and see what she might have done to cause the accident. I might be wrong, but I can totally see why my mother's friend saw it that way.
I always think of what my instructor at trucking school said to me when I was in class: Men may have a better understanding of the mechanics of trucking, but women make better drivers.
If that's the case, then I guess I don't mind being called a "woman driver".
Stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Fairytale concept or achievable reality? Let's not call it "stealing" though....let's call it "helping those less fortunate". I'm talking about the stinginess of the wealthy in regards to them not wanting to pay a little more in taxes to help fund universal healthcare.
I don't understand people who keep their fist so tight on the dollar. I don't care if I were making $30,000.00 or $130,000.00 a year, I would be HAPPY to pay more taxes so my friends and family members can have the health care they need.
Why? Because it's the RIGHT thing to do. It's a circle of giving in a sense. You should always help those less fortunate if you are able. And in this case, I don't really care whether it's a single mother, an unemployed student or an illegal immigrant. All of these people contribute in some way to our economy - they are spending money SOMEWHERE - they have to eat, wear clothes, buy gas, etc. So if they need help with the RIDICULOUSLY exhorbitant cost of health care, they should get it.
We all know someone who is struggling, whether it's paying the rent, paying for childcare, paying for food or just trying to keep their job. Why should they also have to worry about how they are going to take care of their health or the health of their family? If you think about all the people you actually know who do not have what they need, imagine the people you don't know.
And honestly, if the President is talking about tapping people who make more than a million dollars, I'm guessing not too many people I know will really be affected. Yet they seem to be the ones, along with the rich, raising the biggest stink.
After having this discussion on Facebook, my friend Michelle sent me the following article. President Obama's response should be that of everyone who has the means to make this very important plan happen.
The rich have never had it so good Taxing the wealthy could help the poor? Not if Congress has anything to do with it By David Sirota
July 25, 2009 Here's a truism: The wealthiest 1 percent have never had it so good.
According to government figures, 1-percenters' share of America's total income is the highest it's been since 1929, and their tax rates are the lowest they've faced in two decades. Through bonuses, many 1-percenters will profit from the $23 trillion in bailout largesse the Treasury Department now says could be headed to financial firms. And most of them benefit from IRS decisions to reduce millionaire audits and collect zero taxes from the majority of major corporations.
But what really makes the ultra-wealthy so fortunate, what truly separates this moment from a run-of-the-mill Gilded Age, is the unprecedented protection the 1-percenters have bought for themselves on the most pressing issues.
To review: With 22,000 Americans dying each year because they lack health insurance, Congress is considering universal healthcare legislation financed by a surcharge on income above $280,000 -- that is, a levy almost exclusively on 1-percenters. This surtax would graze just 5 percent of small businesses and would recoup only part of the $700 billion the 1-percenters received from the Bush tax cuts. In fact, it is so minuscule, those making $1 million annually would pay just $9,000 more in taxes every year -- or nine-tenths of 1 percent of their 12-month haul.
Nonetheless, the 1-percenters have deployed an army to destroy the initiative before it makes progress.
The foot soldiers are the Land Rover Liberals. These Democratic lawmakers secure their lefty labels by wearing pink-ribbon lapel pins and supporting good causes like abortion rights. However, being affluent and/or from affluent districts, they routinely drive their luxury cars over middle-class economic interests. Hence, this week's letter from Democratic dot-com tycoon Rep. Jared Polis, of Boulder, Colo., and other Land Rover Liberals calling for the surtax's death.
Echoing that demand are the Corrupt Cowboys -- those like Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who come from the heartland's culturally conservative and economically impoverished locales. These cavalrymen in both parties quietly build insurmountable campaign war chests as the biggest corporate fundraisers in Congress. At the same time, they publicly preen as jes' folks, make twangy references to "voters back home," and now promise to kill the healthcare surtax because they say that's what their communities want. Cash payoffs made, reelections purchased, the absurd story somehow goes that because blue-collar constituents in Flyover America like guns and love Jesus, they must also reflexively adore politicians who defend 1-percenters' bounty.
That fantastical fairly tale, of course, couldn't exist without the Millionaire Media -- the elite journalists and opinion-mongers who represent corporate media conglomerates and/or are themselves extremely wealthy. Ignoring all the data about inequality, they legitimize the assertions of the 1-percenters' first two battalions, while actually claiming America's fat cats are unfairly persecuted.
For example, Washington Post editors deride surtax proponents for allegedly believing "the rich alone can fund government." Likewise, Wall Street Journal correspondent Jonathan Weisman wonders why the surtax "soak(s) the rich" by unduly "lumping all of the problems of the finances of the United States on 1 percent of (its) households." And most brazenly, NBC's Meredith Vieira asks President Obama why the surtax is intent on "punishing the rich."
For his part, Obama has responded with characteristic coolness -- and a powerful counterstrike. "No, it's not punishing the rich," he said. "If I can afford to do a little bit more so that a whole bunch of families out there have a little more security, when I already have security, that's part of being a community."
If any volley can thwart this latest attack of the 1-percenters, it is that simple idea.
** You can read the article at its original source here.
Today we picked up a load at a copper mine in Arizona. The first thing you do when you arrive is pull onto the scale and go into the guard shack to check in. I always stay in the truck while Ed checks in, but a few minutes after he was in the building, I see a woman in a hard hat waving at me, motioning for me to come in also.
So I get myself together and get out of the truck to see what they want. I hate getting out of the truck for shit like this. Once we were inside, the first thing they did was weigh the truck. A savvy driver will already know what the weight of their truck is empty, with 1/4 tank of fuel and with the two drivers in it. Shippers, especially copper and steel manufacturers, are notorious for trying to overload your truck, so you must pay attention.
But this facility was weighing our truck without the drivers in it. Um, hello....is the truck going to drive itself?? Depending on what the two people weigh, you can easily add over 500 pounds to your weight just by getting in the truck to drive away. This is why you need to pay attention, because if you drive off that property and you are overweight, it's your fault.
We tried to explain to them that the weight would be different with both of us in the truck but were told it was their "Standard Operating Procedure". Big surprise. It didn't really matter though, since Ed knows what he's doing and won't let the forklift operator load any more than we can handle. FYI copper mine: we won't be one of the trucks leaving your facility overloaded.
After they weighed us, we found out we had to watch a safety video. I said, "But I won't be getting out of the truck." Ed has had to watch videos like this before at other locatons, but I've never been required to since I don't leave the truck. Didn't matter. I still had to watch the video. A fifteen minute video. I was told that everyone entering the property does; even the food delivery guys.
They had all sorts of rules and safety procedures to follow, the first one being our mode of dress. No flip-flops, no shorts, no hair blowing in the breeze. When Ed first walked into the office, the guard said to him "You look like you're going to the beach." Ed was wearing his signature button down shirt, shorts and flip-flops; I take full credit for the flip flops. But here at the copper mine, shorts and flippies are not suitable, so we had to change.
For me, this was a horror of all horrors. I had to put on long pants and closed-toe shoes in the summertime???? God help us all. I don't even know where my long pants are. Ed knows the drill because he does this all the time, so he just whipped out his coveralls, slipped into his neon yellow safety vest, threw on his steel-toed boots and fished out his hard hat. If they thought I was going to mess up my hair with a hard hat, they had another thing coming. Good Lord. I reluctantly put on jeans and sneakers, got myself a beverage and a snack for the show and Eddie and I made our way back to the guard shack.
We watched the movie and chuckled all the way through. It was obviously made for people with no common sense. In it, they mentioned some of the following:
1. "Don't enter an area while blasting is in progress." Really? Ya think? 2. "Yield to large vehicles as they have many blind spots and don't always see you." Well, I think if you saw something like this barreling in your direction, you'd be inclined to stop and let it pass. 3. "Report any snakes or vermin you see in the area you're working in." Again, really?? You're in the desert. Should I report every snake, scorpion, kangaroo rat and lizard I see? Do you think they're going to stay at that location so you can come back and catch them? Help me out here; I don't understand the significance of reporting indiginous desert creatures. 4. "Do not enter areas marked Do Not Enter or Restricted Area." Um, if you can read, wouldn't you already know that "do not enter" means not to enter?
After the video, I had to get a loaner hard hat since I didn't have one. It was actually kind of nice, being bright white and brand new and all; not that I was planning on wearing it or anything, because as I already noted, I won't be getting out of the truck. And if perchance, I am in the truck and a gigantic crane crushes it, I don't think a hard hat is going to do me much good. So yeah, I don't think I'll be wearing it.
We left the office and headed into the mine area to get loaded. The forklift operator was new and initially loaded us with too much weight. Ed explained we absolutely could not take all of it and because she couldn't figure out how to work out the weight and couldn't split the copper bundles, had to take an entire stack off. This worked in our favor, causing us be considerably under gross. I guess that's what happens when math isn't your strong point.
All in all, we got in and out of there in a fairly reasonable amount of time. We even left with a gift. Ed mentioned that he liked their hard hat so much and inquired as to whether he could buy it. The woman in the guard shack made a phone call and got permission to give it to us.
Eddie was so happy, he agreed to let me take a picture of him modeling his new PPE (personal protective equipment). Isn't he so safe looking?
The last time we were home, we visited my brother. He lives just a few miles away and whenever we're in town, we try to get over there to see my nephews and well, let's face it, go in his fabulous pool!
After spending a sufficient amount of time in the water and getting a good meal, we stood in his vestibule saying our goodbyes. When we opened the front door, this gigantic furry tarantula decided to join us. It moved very quickly and was the size of a baseball!!
Between the heat, the snakes, the cockroaches, the Gila Monsters and the other creatures that lurk in the desert, it's no wonder we spend so much time on the road!
This morning as we were driving on Interstate 95 through Connecticut, I saw the following on a billboard:
Is the church doing so poorly that they need to advertise for priests on a billboard?? Or are they hoping to catch the eye of some desperate soul, fed up with his current job and the sagging economy, that while tooling along I-95 in Connecticut, he looks up, sees the billboard, and says to himself, "That's it!! I'll become a priest!"
Can you see that interview?
1. Tell me about yourself. What's to tell? You're God. You're supposed to know everything about me.
2. Tell me about your experience. Well, there was that one time I was an altar boy...
3. What is your most important accomplishment to date? I haven't been able to turn water into wine if that's what you're getting at.
4. How would you describe your ideal job? Counting money. My money. That'd be a pretty sweet job. But, if I can't do that, I guess working only Sunday might not be too shabby.
5. Why did you choose this career? I didn't choose it. It chose me.
6. When did you decide on this career? 8:15 am, Tuesday morning, I-95 Northbound.
7. What goals do you have in your career? I'd like to have a flock. A large, moneyed flock.
8. How do you plan to achieve these goals? Cable TV.
9. How do you personally define success? The same way Merriam-Webster does - the attainment of wealth, favor or eminence.
10. Describe a situation in which you were successful. I'm here talking to God aren't I? That's a pretty big deal.
11. What do you think it takes to be successful in this career? Well, keeping your cassock on is a good start.
12. If you had to live your life over again, what one thing would you change? I'd be a blond woman. They get away with murder.
13. Would you rather work with information or with people? With people I can feed information to. Via a sermon, of course.
14. Are you a team player? Priests have a team?? What do you call yourselves, The Twelve Apostles? Ha ha ha! I crack myself up!
15. What motivates you? Money and power.
16. Why should I hire you? I can wag my finger ferociously at a crowd. I have a booming voice. Well, not "God" booming, but pretty commanding. I'd be a big hit in the confessional, and I like wine.
17. Are you a goal-oriented person? If the goal is to get people into Heaven, I'm your guy!
18. What is your long-range objective? To stay out of Hell.
19. What do you see yourself doing five years from now? Writing a book about my experience on the inside.
20. Where do you want to be ten years from now? Well, being Pope might be nice. Who do I need to talk to about that gig?
21. Do you handle conflict well? I put my conflict in your hands. I've been told that you're the man for that.
22. What is your greatest strength? Getting people to follow my lead.
23. What is your greatest weakness? Beer and boys. Ohhh, you mean like, "I have trouble delegating."
24. Why do you want to work in the faith industry? Isn't that obvious? It's a big business, and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon. Job security.
25. What do you know about our company? Well, I know they call you "The Big Guy" , "The Man Upstairs" and "The Almighty Father". I'm thinking this must be a pretty good place to work.
26. Do you have any location preferences? A little church in the Italian Alps?
29. How familiar are you with the community we’re located in? I know where the playground is.
30. Are you willing to relocate? You mean if you have to move me for the sake of the "organization"? Sure.
31. Is money important to you? Helloooooo. Did you NOT see my answer to number seven?
* That's not the actual billboard - we went by too fast for me to get a picture of it, so I've just recreated it using their words on my photo.
I've always wanted to visit Hershey Park in Hershey, Pennsylvania when I was a kid, but these days I can really live without another horrific amusement park experience, even if there is chocolate involved, so Ed and I decided to just hit Chocolate World instead and check out their free factory tour (not the REAL factory, but a set-up) to see how chocolate is made; from the bean to the bar, so to speak.
After the tour, you get a little Hershey bar, presumably one that just came from the factory. Ed made fun of me for sticking my camera in the garbage can at the end of the hallway, but I couldn't pass up this shot of all the empty wrappers.
We perused the gift shop for a little while and bought a few treats for my nephews before getting back on the road. I was tempted to buy a chocolate scented candle for the truck to recreate the smell on the fake factory tour but I thought having a candle in the truck might be dangerous; not the fire part, the being surrounded by the smell of chocolate part. Oh, I'm not one of those crazy women who just has to have her chocolate; I do love it, I'm just sane in the company of it.
Although, chocolate kisses do have a special place in my heart and I think Milton S. Hershey might just be the man of my dreams.
While in Carlisle, PA sitting around in the truck wondering what we were going to do for the day, we read in the paper about a free concert that evening, happening about 20 miles away in Harrisburg. We are all over the free stuff, especially if it has to do with music.
After doing a bit more research, we found out that the 10th Annual Jazz Under The Stars concert was taking place at the Levitt Pavilion in Reservoir Park.
Excerpted from the The City Of Harrisburg Parks & Recreation web site...
Established in 1845, this 90-acre park is the oldest and largest municipal park in south-central Pennsylvania. The historic circa 1898 Mansion houses the Recreation Bureau offices and art gallery; there is a near-by picnic pavilion, five Artists’ Village classroom buildings; antique-styled streetlights along the walkways run throughout the park with fountains, gardens and plazas situated at ideal locations throughout the acreage. The park features a restored 1940s era concert band shell where every summer the "Levitt Live!" concert series attracts thousands to Saturday concerts at the band shell featuring a wide variety of musicians, drama and the spoken word. Also located in Reservoir Park is our Park Ranger Station, the restored Brownstone Building arts & science education center and multiple Basketball and Tennis Courts and a two-tiered playground for children of all ages. The most commanding structure in Reservoir Park sits at the park apex - The National Civil War Museum. This museum operates daily featuring one of the most comprehensive Civil War Collections on the East Coast with a specific focus on the African American experience during the Civil War era.
We wanted to go to the Civil War Museum but it was closing by the time we arrived, so we just hung around taking pictures until the concert started. The lawn in front of the band shell filled up quickly with people toting their chairs, blankets and food items. We're not talking a beer and Cheetos crowd; these people were wine and cheese all the way. The group next to us had a table set up with and elaborate spread; everything from crudité to dessert! According to the park rules, you weren't even supposed to have alcohol, but the people sitting around us not only had wine, they had real wine glasses!
The first group we heard was the AJQ Band. They played a lot of stuff I knew and I enjoyed them immensely. The sound from the band shell was fantastic and we had a great spot for viewing them and the crowd's reactions. Heads were bobbing, toes were tapping and at the end of each performance, hundreds of hands were clapping. You can hear a little of what prompted the bobbing heads and clapping hands by watching this video:
The second group, the Dixon-Rhyne Project also played stuff I knew, although they did a lot I wasn't familiar with. The one song they did play, that everyone knew, was the theme song first recorded by Quincy Jones from the movie In The Heat Of The Night; later seen as a TV show with Carroll O'Connor. Melvin Ryhne, the organist in the group, is best known for his work with the famous jazz guitarist, Wes Montgomery.
Ed took that picture up top, but if you want to see a few more from the afternoon, you can click on over to my Flickr page. This photo is one of my favorites of the night; a guy and his date trying to capture the moment on his camera phone:
The music was amazing and the people watching was great. And it was all free! Can't get a better deal than that.
WHO is that fabulous girl with Eddie???? Why it's ME, of course! As you have probably noticed, I'm usually behind the camera, not in front of it.
As Ed recently put it, "We have all these pictures of me in Washington, DC, me in Seattle, me on the beach, me in NYC...people don't even believe I have a girlfriend!"
So for this shot, Ed set up his tri-pod and captured both of us at the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. As a bonus, he also got a picture of the truck in the background. See that smile on his face? He was giddy just being able to stand next to me in the same shot. And now he has a photo to carry in his wallet!
I recently found a blog titled girlofwords through fellow driver GiGi’s blog roll. I laughed my way through several of her posts and decided that I am stealing her idea of posting the information Google provides for determining how people found your site - what search words did they use?
And others wanting to find Billy Joel's Goodnight Saigon by looking for this, albeit incorrect, string of lyrics: ”and we will all go down together” I usually get a big hit on this one around Veteran's Day and once right after a documentary about Vietnam was on television.
But apparently, I have someone up in the largely-Republican potato stronghold of Idaho who came upon me by searching for "on the road titty". Hmmm.
Take a look: I hope they weren't disappointed when they got here only to discover there is no titty; on the road or otherwise. Oh, I've posted a teeny cleavage shot ortwo, and also detailed my experience of being flashed some titty, but I've never actually taken my own out on the road.
Not that my co-worker (Ed) would mind, but I don't think it would go over too well with the company we're leased to. That, and I think it might even be a safety issue if done while driving.
I think I'll just hold off on that little traveling road show.
In New Mexico, on Route 70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo on the northern end of the Chihuahuan Desert in the Tularosa Basin, you'll find the White Sands National Monument. From the the National Parks Service brochure...
Rising from the heart of this basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert and created the largest gypsum dune field in the world.
The gypsum that forms the white sand was deposited at the bottom of a shallow seas covering this area 250 million years ago. Eventually turned into stone, these gypsum-bearing marine deposits were uplifted into a giant dome 70 million years ago when the Rocky Mountains formed. 10 million years ago the center of this dome started to collapse, creating the Tularosa Basin. The remaining sides of the original dome form the San Andres and Sacramento mountain ranges that now ring the Tularosa Basin.
We got to White Sands just before sunset, so we didn't have a whole lot of time to take pictures. This one I got when we first drove in; a man walking the dunes with his camera in hand (if you enlarge it, it looks even better!). The place was absolutely stunning. Crisp, white sand for as far as your eye can see. When we drove further into the dunes, the road was plowed just like snow. There were families walking the dunes together, couples sitting with coolers enjoying the sunset and kids "sand surfing" with sleds and little wave boards.
I have always wanted to visit this place but we rarely take this route. We were just through here, but it was at night and we couldn't have stopped anyway since we were under a hot load that just had to be where it was going.
I thought the sand was going to be difficult to get through, deep and hot like the sand in South Padre Island. I was marveling at how easily everyone seemed to be getting to the top of the dunes. When I got out and walked on it myself, only the top layer of sand was loose; the base, hard and easy to walk on.
The sun went down quickly and were were only able to get a few shots, but it's definitely a place I'll be going back to. Not that there's anything to do there, but as they say on the park web site, "Take only pictures, leave only footprints."
I don't know if anyone noticed (except my brother) that I started a categories section far down in the right hand column, under the archives. I have been tagging my posts with labels that fit into the categories. Thing is, I haven't been doing it from day one - so I've slowly been going back to add them. It's a very time consuming project.
But, if you're interested, take a look at a few of them. I have Eddie Friday, which isn't an "every" Friday thing, but when I do have a post in this category, it's about Ed. Most often it's a picture, but sometimes I will provide you with an instant replay of one of our conversations. I promise you that some of those conversation will make you wonder how I can spend 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in a truck with him. Although, I'm sure some of you wonder how he can stand me for all that time too, but this is my blog, so it's about me being cooped up with him.
Another category, and a good way to get to know a little more about me, is through the Memes section. C'mon, don't you want to know if I prefer vanilla over chocolate, what I'd do with a million dollars or the fact that my left ass cheek has a very definitive flat spot??
If you want a good laugh, you have to check out Mommy; the category with posts about my mother. My brother said he spent way too much time reading post after post in this category, laughing through most of them. She keeps saying I need to take my act (about her) "on the road". Well, uh, Mom....I kinda am.
Then, there are always the Photos. The best ones I add to my Flickr page, but there are plenty of posts with pictures that don't make it over to Flickr, so go check 'em out so they don't feel neglected.
As I get further into my project here, I'll have more posts in more categories, so keep checking back. I have been blogging since May 2005 and have written more than 1,500 posts; over 900 of them include pictures!
Perhaps you should go get a cup of coffee and settle yourself in front of the computer for a few hours. Sounds like a good idea if you ask me.
I’m currently reading a book called The The Elegant Gathering of White Snows. If you are any version of a woman, be it mother, sister, wife, daughter or friend, you should read this book. It’s a fascinating story about eight women and incredibly illustrates the connection all of us women have and share. I’ve actually considered buying this for all of the women in my life; as some of them have clearly forgotten the importance of these bonds.
In one part of the book, one of the women talks about losing her mother. She talks about how it was not easy losing her and how long it took her to heal; and if in fact she ever was going to be healed. She talks about the day that her father called to say he was ready to get rid of her mother's belongings and would she please come? So she did.
Some people don’t know what it’s like to lose a parent, and that’s good. Unfortunately I do, and couldn’t help but cry as I read this part of the book. Because losing a parent is one thing, but having to go through all of their belongings is quite another.
When my father died unexpectedly, I think I went on auto-pilot. Not that I didn’t have any emotions, but I knew I had to get things done. My brother was inconsolable and I knew he wasn’t able to tackle what I had to. It was going to be me who had to go to the home of my father’s horrible girlfriend to pick up his things. Thank God I had Ed to go with me. He was my strong, silent protector. He did as I asked, helped me move boxes and generally hung in the background in case I needed him. I don’t believe I got everything my father owned, as I was being watched like a hawk and didn’t feel as if I was getting the full cooperation of his girlfriend, but I got the things I knew I had to have. The things that represented my father.
I packed everything quickly, throwing things into boxes and dumping desk drawers without sorting. I took everything that was his and everything I remembered to ask for. I even took a basket full of dirty clothes. Although, my father was so clean even his dirties smelled fresh. I shoved everything into his mini-van and drove off enveloped by the cigarette smell of the car’s interior.
I also had to dismantle and sell his hot dog truck; the one he worked for sixteen years. That was a lot harder than I imagined it to be. The stool he sat on, the money drawer with odds and ends in one of the dollar slots and the hand-printed signs he used announcing his specials for the day. I was surrounded by him and the smells of his daily life.
My father died in February and the cart had been shut down that winter for a couple of months already. It was freezing inside. But each day I went there, I would sit on his stool and cry in the cold. I touched everything his hands had touched. I stood at the serving window and imagined being him. I looked at everything on the shelves; two of those items being the magazine and coffee table book my brother’s work appeared in. The pages depicting his projects were dog-eared and had greasy fingerprints on them.
I didn’t want to sell the hot dog truck. I wanted to get it up and running and work it, serving those same customers my father did. I tossed that idea around for quite some time. I had been in the truck with Ed for two years at that point and was planning on getting my CDL that year, which I actually did a few months after my father died. I wanted to be on the road. I liked the trucking life. But I’ve also always wanted to have a hot dog cart with a following like my father did. I owned my own cart at one time, but never had the time to build a clientele because things in my life changed and I couldn’t fully pursue it. This could be my chance. Maybe he wanted me to do it. Expected me to.
But I didn’t. I packed up everything, took pictures of the cart from every angle and posted an ad in the local paper to sell it. I eventually did, and it was bittersweet. I was very sad letting it go. Sometimes I wish I could get it back, but it’s not a keepsake you can tuck away in a sock drawer, so I rely on my memories and photos to keep that part of my father alive.
After I left New York, I took all of his belongings and put them in storage in Nashville, where I was staying at the time. As I rearranged all the papers and photos and bins full of clothes, I had waves of sadness wash over me. Every time I touched something that belonged to my father, I had tears in my eyes. I buried my nose in all of his clothing, especially the ones that were in the laundry basket since I knew he had worn them just days before he died. I breathed in every little whiff of scent I could. I even smelled his socks. His bathrobe, the one he always wore tied loosely and low on his hip, had some dog hair on it; he used to lounge on the couch at night watching TV while the dogs nuzzled their heads in his lap.
I wore his shoes. I tried to figure out how I could work his Huarache sandals into my wardrobe; the ones that his pinkie-toe stuck out of. I wore his sneakers for good luck the day I took the test for my CDL and his shoe-boots that winter, the shiny black leather sticking out of the bottom of my jeans. I was cool.
For a while, I even wore his taupe colored London Fog raincoat. I hate to be hot, even in the winter, so this was a perfect weight to be worn over a sweater. I had the menswear look going on. I gave away some of his clothing to family members, the ones who didn’t feel weird taking them. My cousin took his long, camel colored wool coat to wear over his fancy suits when going to the city for meetings, etc. and my best friend (who LOVED my father) took Daddy’s expensive dress shoes for her husband to wear. I remember being told by my best friend, when she asked her husband what he was wearing to the very important meeting with his lawyers, that he said he was wearing “Swee’s dad’s shoes, no?” She even wears the aprons from my father’s hot dog truck when she cooks; they are stained and threadbare, but she said it makes her think of him every time she ties it around her waist.
I moved his things so many times before they finally got to Arizona. Since I was on the road, I couldn’t keep everything in the truck with me, so they initially went to my cousin’s basement, then to my best friend’s garage and then to my storage shed and my brother’s garage. My brother still hasn’t gone through anything. I don’t think he can. We keep talking about doing it together, but the opportunity never seems to present itself.
The only other person I know in my life who had to go through their parent’s things after their death, is my mother. My maternal grandfather died years ago, in 1988, and to think now of my grandmother being alive and having to be in the same house, same kitchen, same bedroom for years without him is just crushing. But when she got to be a bit older, my mother moved her from New York to Arizona to live with us. My grandmother spent the last three years of her life in my mother’s house, in my teenage bedroom. I was also living with my mother at the time but moved into the other bedroom before my grandmother moved in.
Nanny slept in my old room at the rear of the house, the one that was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. She even used several pieces of my furniture. Everything in her room was set up so meticulously. In the winter, she needed a space heater and in the summer, a fan. They were both perched on the dresser in the same spot, changed out with the seasons. My childhood desk was where she paid her bills, kept track of her expenses in a little book, sent cards with money enclosed to her grandchildren and put on her makeup. The middle drawer held her rouge and lipsticks; her pink and green tube of Maybelline mascara visible immediately when the drawer was cracked open. In the closet, she hung her tiny clothes and lined up her pint-sized shoes. She was four feet eleven "and three quarters" as she liked to remind everyone.
Every day when I would get home from work, I’d go in and sit on the edge of her bed, where she’d ask me about my day. She remembered every single one of my friends; what they did for work and who they were dating. She wanted to know if so and so got the promotion, did what’s his name ask you know who to the employee banquet and when are you going to bring home that new boy you’ve been telling me about? I loved that part of my day. We talked about how her brother Dan used to sneak her into the dance halls when she was young, passing her off as his date just so they could do the one thing they both enjoyed so much; dancing into the night to the sounds of the big bands. Sometimes, we’d sit on the porch while she had a cigarette, her latest romance novel cracked open and placed spine up on the table next to the chair she sat on. At night after we'd gone to sleep, I’d listen to her smoker’s cough.
I wasn’t there the morning my mother found her. I had slept at a friend’s house the night before. In fact, it was my friend who took the call and crawled into my bed to be with me when I found out. “Nanny died,” she told me as she handed me the phone, telling me my mother was on the other end. “She went peacefully,” my mother said, “in her sleep.” How was she able to say that? My mother found her mother dead. How hard must that have been? I remember racing home to be with my mother, but I don’t remember much about what happened after that. It was over 10 years ago now.
What I do remember and get reminded of to this day, is how hard it was for my mother to forget that day. Over ten years after the day my grandmother died, my mother still touches items that belonged to her. She uses her bedside alarm clock in the bathroom, her slatted coffee table in the family room, her knitting needles to make blankets for her mother’s great-grandchildren. And although my mother has three sisters, not one of them came to Arizona to be with her after my grandmother died. My mother did everything on her own.
For three years, my mother and my grandmother did almost everything together. They’d to go “Targets” (as my grandmother called it), JC Penney (a favorite store of hers) and Village Inn for lunch (the closest thing to a diner that you can find in Tucson). My mother was as much a part of her life as my grandfather had been. My mother was now her confidant. Her guardian, in a sense. They shared current books, lady friends and time on the back porch – my grandmother would smoke a cigarette while they watched the sunset together.
My mother, the oldest of my grandmother’s four daughters, did all of it alone. It took time. And it made her cry. The olfactory part of the task was the worst, I think. The smell of my grandmother was everywhere. Her desk drawer smelled like note paper and Juicy Fruit gum. Her closet, a mix of the perfume on her clothing and the leather purses she scoured every department store for; always searching for the right one, with the perfect number of pockets and just the right length strap. Shopping for them had become a sport for my grandmother.
She wore those squishy pink foam rollers at night; they smelled like her hair. Her bathrobe, which to this day hangs behind her bedroom door, smelled like her freshly bathed body. That’s the hardest part, I think; the clothes. Knowing they were on the body of a person you loved and they'll never wear them again. I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to press their nose deep into the folds of fabric, deeply inhaling and trying to capture the smell, saving it somewhere deep in their memory.
Everything my grandmother owned, my mother had to take care of. She touched everything. Her photo albums and old sewing machine, her jewelry and the contents of her wallet. The rosary beads contained in a fabric pouch that she wore pinned to the inside of her bra, and the bobby pins she used in her hair. The hairbrush with her silver strands still in it, and the slippers she wore with her housecoat.
I guess I never really thought about what my mother went through until reading the passage in this book, even though I had to do the same thing with my father’s belongings. But I didn’t live with my father, I didn’t see him every day and I didn’t have his daily routine etched in my head as my mother did with my grandmother. Him being gone created a hole in my life, but not like the hole that was left in my mother's daily existence.
So even though you may know what it’s like to lose a parent, it’s different when you are the one packing up their life, when you have to determine which items to keep and which to bring to Good Will. When you decide how much to tell your siblings or other family members, and not knowing how much they even want to know. It’s a responsibility, but it’s also a kind of privilege. It’s sad, but it makes you feel closer to them, and although you try to distance yourself from the task, it winds up being so intimate.
I miss my father tremendously, but I’m glad I was able to handle the same items he did in the last days of his life. And I know my mother treasures every day she spent with my grandmother the last three years of her life. I also know, and it's something I am very sure of because she mentioned it so often and in a tone that expressed how grateful she was, that my grandmother enjoyed her life in Tucson so very much. She often said, without my mother and step-father, she wouldn’t know what she would have done. I think they saved her from the last years of her life being ones of lonely days and empty nights and she came to love the wide open spaces in Arizona, saying she could see across the entire desert landscape without anything blocking her view.
I feel good knowing that her last breath was taken in a place where she was surrounded by people who loved her so much. That, and the fact that she spent the last moments of her life with the same person who spent the first moment of theirs, with her.
So although this post was prompted by the memory of packing up my father’s life, it’s also about the bond between women and how important they are.