Log Entry No. 91: Driving School

Edie Thompson would scare the ghost out of you if you were riding in her van’s passenger seat. Most of the neighbors experienced this multiple times. They now refuse to ride with her, all offering to drive if the group is headed to a card game, a round of domino’s, or an afternoon of Mahjong. The driving situation has been building over the years. So as April Fool’s day approached, it offered a grand opportunity that could not be missed. So the letter below, logo and all, was sent to Edie.

Edie’s husband was warned in advanced. He picked up the mail from the street mail box and set it on the kitchen counter. He was there when Edie opened the letter. As she read, she was heading toward boil. He had to leave the room when the vulgarity started, not to expose the prank by laughter.

Edie actually called the phone contact number in the letter only to be told there was no such driving program for seniors. She was not happy! Her husband hours later, broke the news to Edie advising her to look at the date on the letter. There was an immediate search for the author.

April 1

Law Enforcement Services Section Education, Division of Senior Roadway Program, 4235 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4235.

Dear Ms. Thompson,

Our Traffic Division Section records indicate that you have received multiple warnings, in lieu of citations, for various vehicle operating violations over the course of the last 18 months.

Although citations and fines were not issued, our division remains concerned with senior citizen vehicle operating safety and tracks non-citation events.

Our purpose here is not to highlight driving errors but to take a preventative approach to a safer future for driving seniors. To that end, you have been selected to participate in a driver’s safety course to be held in May each year. You have several options as to attendance dates so please visit our website at http://www.dps.seniorsafety.gov/ed . There you will find options as to dates and times for you to schedule your 3-day driver’s education class at your convenience. Please note that attendance is mandatory, per ncdot reg no 324.23 sec 2, pg 2, p4.

Your cooperation is expected and appreciated.

T.H. Sizemore, Administrator

Human Resources, 919-716-3800

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 318: Friends and Duct Tape

They were (and are today) best of friends. This entry takes us back to them at, ages 12 and 15. We’ll call them then, 12 and 15. They grew up on the same dead end street., three houses apart. At the dead end, acres of woods. A creek ran through the long back yards. Behind the creek at the end of the yards, woods and a hill that was perfect for sledding and tubing in the winter.

They occasionally smoked. 12 kept the stash in his second floor bedroom, in the heating duct work which had a removable vent in the floor. There was a small ledge available in the duct work, just under the vent, to keep the stash.

They head to 12’s house to do a little. 12 removes the floor heating vent to access the stash on the ledge, and to his dismay, the stash falls down into the duct system, straight to the basement. This is an emergency calling for drastic actions.

12 and 15 head to the basement. They find it has a suspended ceiling. Kids don’t notice ceilings much but this is a special situation. The remove the ceiling tiles, one by one, searching for where the duct work from 12’s room meets the basement duct. It was trial and error. But, not to be discouraged, they find the union. Taking advantage of 12’s dad’s handy work shop, with both parents at work, they start cutting sample holes in he duct work hoping to locate the fallen stash. It required a few sample cuts but not to be denied, they located the bag. It took several cuts, opening up a significant enough hole (think of star shape cuts that form a number of flaps) to recover the bag. They made the duct repair with what else but duct tape. It required feet of duct tape. The repair was ugly. They reinstalled the ceiling tiles. Who would ever know !

Months later: It is heating season. Cold! Furnaces are running. 12’s parents were sitting in the living room. 12’s mom, and not the first time, complains to 12’s dad that there is a draft in the room. He says something about sweaters. After sufficient prodding, on the weekend, he goes to the basement. Of course, nothing is easy. This won’t be either as the duct work, which 12’s dad suspects is at the cause, is covered with the suspended ceiling tile. Hours later he finds the patch work quilt of tape on the duct work. The patch has now collapsed, hanging freely, as the adhesive on the tape has dried out from the heat, the adhesive now a white power, a gaping hole the result, The hot air that is escaping is significant.

How could this happen? The parents suspect 12. He is confronted. And as all kids learn early on, denial is the key to making great escapes. This time being no different. The “rents” stopped short of fingerprints and prosecution, knowing it was hopeless.

***** S&E *****

Log Entry # 211: Jean Will Pick You Up.

My kids in their 30’s and some of their friends visit on some holidays. This Memorial Day was no different. Three of them arrived on Friday with JH arriving at our tiny local airport on Saturday. It WAS going to be memorable for JH!

JH called us at 2 pm from his connecting airport about an hour away to say he was in route and his flight was on time. We told him to call on his cell when he arrived.

He called upon arrival and noted that he would be out shortly after picking up his bags. We told him that we already had too many shots and beers and a friend of the old man’s was coming our way from the airport area and would pickup him up. Her name was Jean. We told him she was a nice lady, in her 50’s. There was no Jean. We didn’t know a Jean.

Actually we were all fine to drive. We loaded into the SUV, drove to the airport, got a first row spot in the short-term parking lot. We had a clear view of the arriving passenger area and the doors that JH would use to exit to get his ride.

With our clear view of the passenger pickup curb, we could see the cars waiting for arriving passengers. We saw a beige Lincoln Town Car with an older, female driver. Perfect! So when JH called from baggage claim we were able to tell him Jean was waiting for him just out side in her beige Lincoln Town Car. There was no Jean, we didn’t know the driver. There WAS a beige Lincoln Town Car!

JH exits the airport, sees “Jean” in the Lincoln. Smiling, he heads to the front windshield. He lightly taps to get her attention. She looks at JH like he’s a criminal. He looked around, checking to see if he had the right car. There was only one beige Lincoln. JH, having a positive personality, stepped to the side window and repeated his tapping to get “Jean” to recognize him. She didn’t, she’s now starring straight ahead probably hoping he would go away, undoubtedly thinking pervert, maybe police.

In the SUV we are doubled over, disabling laughter, in stitches, watching the Lincoln–JH–Jean event unfold.

We hopped out of the SUV and started waving and shouting, “Hey dumb ass we’re over here”, the side-splitting laughter loud enough to be heard from some distance. As the line goes in “A Christmas Story”, JH wove a “tapestry of vulgarity”, which would make the best of the best proud.

JH heard about it all weekend. We never let JH forget this one…

***** S&E *****

Log entry # 76: “Woody’s Theo”

There is a fairly well balanced amount of good-natured bashing among our friends. And most topics are fair game — aging being one of them.

Here is a birthday piece that was written for our friend Woody.  Over the years Woody was nicked named “Clark” as he was a bit of a klutz, regularly screwing up, or spilling something or, searching his mind to finish a sentence. So the “Clark” came from Clark Griswold fame from the movie, “Christmas Vacation.” There were numerous other items and gifts that were created/made and presented over time to Clark to honor his bad recall and physical ineptitude.

On one of his milestone birthdays the piece below was created, framed and presented (ready aloud) to Woody in the presence of the many that were present to celebrate his 75th.

Woody, “Clark” was loved by all… friends, work colleagues, and family. He passed last summer, 2019. The above, in its original Walmart two dollar frame, along with other stuff presented to Woody, was displayed at the family gathering at the house following the memorial service.

***** S&E ****

Log entry no. 141 “A food-related note from Urge”

My buddy Urge had his 18 something granddaughters visit recently.  Just prior to that 10 of us returned from an eat-a-thon and drink-a-thon at an all-inclusive in Jamaica.  Since the return, we were all trying to dump the poundage we packed on in the tropics.

So Urge sends me this email:

“Jennifer and Samantha leave today which is good since all they wanted to do is eat fried shrimp, oysters or anything coated with crumbs and boiled in grease. I’ve gained what I thought I had lost from the Jamaican trip. Oh yeah, lunch today at MJs restaurant and guess what they wanted, yep fried oysters”.

Knowing Urge needed some advice for the future I suggested to him that those kids are just trying to get him to eat himself to death so eventually they don’t have to change his diapers, wipe up the drool, and pay to board him in an a “home” that smells like skin dust from old people (I’m old, I can say that).   

I further suggested that the next time they come to visit that Urge feed ’em health food and the stay will be shorter and likely they won’t want to come back often!

***** S&E ****

Log Entry No. 8: “Zone 3”

Tom is visiting his son, sitting on the back porch deck, under roof, doing some beers. It is 90+ degrees.

wifi irrigationHis son has an irrigation system in his yard.  It is an older house and so is the system, so he is in the process of replacing some sprinkler heads in the front and back yard.  He also replaced the control box in the garage which controls each zone and the sprinkler heads.  The system has 6 zones.

The new control box installation is of course high-tech.  Both of Tom’s sons are good with tech since they are 40 years younger than Tom.  In this case the new control box is Wi-Fi driven.  Very cool, you can be anywhere in the yard, open the sprinkler system’s app on your smart phone, choose the zone you want to enable and that zone comes on.  The system is great for testing individual sprinkler heads in zones and / or scheduling certain zones or all zones to operate on a weekly schedule. If you enable a certain option in the system it will interact with the local weather station and control the sprinkler system so the yard and planting areas only receive the correct amount of water.  (I would not take that to the bank!)

There is also another application!

While they are sitting on the porch the dog (100 lb Golden-doodle) heads out into the yard, as it happens the mutt is standing in zone 3 of the WiFi controlled sprinkler system.  And Tom’s son demonstrates a feature of the system that is not illustrated in the manual, he calls it – “cooling off the dog”.  So it is, “the dog is in zone 3”, open up the app, enable zone three, and the mutt gets cooled off.  Hugely funny.  If the dog moves from one zone to another, well…

Occasionally is OK, but overdone the mutt probably would not go in the yard.

Before anyone calls the ASPCA – this is not done frequently, and, it’s only water, and on hot days it appears as if the mutt loves it.

As soon as Tom returned home from his son’s, he installed a WiFi control box for his irrigation system.

Tom has a dog!

*****S&E*****

Log Entry no. 111 “Pine Boughs”

I always enjoyed seeing Thor at work.  Even, better, I enjoyed hearing of Thor’s’  boys at “work”.  More often than not one of his two male issues would have provided a great story for Thor to relate to his co-workers.  Some of the stories are humorous now but at the time created great stress for Thor!

StressThis one is one of Thor’s remembered experiences… if you see him just mention “pine boughs”

It is 8:30 Saturday morning and Thor heads out to one of his three cars, destined to the hardware store.  The last car in the drive is Thor’ 8 year old Honda Civic.  It featured broken mirrors inside and out, stains on the headliner (don’t ask), dash, and cloth seats.  Add to that a dent here and there and damaged paint.  Obviously the kids car and Thor knows his oldest son drove it last, getting home a hand full of hours ago, in the early morning.

Above all, Thor notes the several, very green, very noticeable pine boughs protruding from the front bumper and sides of the Civic.

Pine BoughsThor put his thoughts aside, drove to the hardware store, made his purchases and headed home, taking the other entrance into his housing development.  He entered and came to the first  intersection and stop sign in the development.  Before continuing down the street he glanced to his left.  Up the short cul-de-sac he observes a local police cruiser, with the cop standing in the homeowners front yard.  The cop and the homeowner are both looking at what remained of a couple of 5-6 foot pine trees and some minor lawn damage leading from the street through the yard.  And there sat Thor, a couple of houses away, in clear sight, with pine boughs jetting out of the bottom of the car.

Pine boughs!

Pine boughs 2Thor slammed the car in reverse, did a 360, exited the housing plan, and entered through the other entrance nearest his home.

Later,  Thor recalled his son being severely short-changed on monies due, by the very  same homeowner, after doing some lawn and shrubbery work at the very house where the two small pines formerly stood.

You never want to screw with the kids in your neighborhood.  They have endless ways of exacting revenge and pounds of flesh!

Thor’s first issue denied any knowledge of the pine boughs and suggested the boughs stuck in the undercarriage might be remnants of a recent hunting trip.

Sometimes if their lips are moving…..

***** S&E *****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***** S&E *****

Log entry no 41: Lag’s Hand Cuffs

Rainbow is playing Mahjong with the women at Harpy’s house.  Lag, Rainbow’s better half, tags along for an outing with Harpy.  They head out for some lunch and beers.  They visit the Maritime Museum’s Boat Shop, check out the power and sailing yachts that are in port, do more beers at the back alley pub, lots to do..  Eventually they  end up in this tourist trap of a gift shop on the waterfront.

Lag wanted to look for anniversary gift ideas.  The shop is crowded as it is a nice day and Saturday afternoon.  Lag, not concerned about “points”, stops by the not so expensive jewelry display at the checkout counter, eyeing-up necklaces, ear ornaments, and bracelets.  He picks out a pair of matching bracelets.  They are near gray in color with a gloss finish.

Harv's HandcuffsHarpy is standing beside Lag.  Directly behind them are four well decorated, well dressed, stuffy appearing women in their 50’s, not much more than a three feet away.  In front of Lag, behind the checkout counter, are a couple of college age hotties.  Lag, with bracelets in hand, held up at eye level for closer examination, blurts out, “These look just like the handcuffs I use on Rainbow”.

Harpy lost it.

Harpy glances at the well decorated, stuffy foursome and no one is laughing, near demeaning looks on a couple of their faces.  The checkout counter hotties, well, one is laughing the other just shaking her head, as if to say “perv”.  Harpy could hear more than a few nearby snickers in the shop.

It is always good to be cautious when taking Lag into public spaces.

Lag really does not use handcuffs on Rainbow!

***** S&E *****

Log entry no. 139:  A Little Street Theater in Cermer, “Hey Little Girl”

It was Thanksgiving Eve a few decades ago.  The family was “out” partying heavily and by 2 AM my brother-in-law, known to the kids as “Uncle Dirt” (UD) and I were the last left at the Swirl Inn Bar.  UD is to meet his sister Zee at the Greyhound Bus “station”, arriving from Baltimore, at nearby Cremer, Pa. at 7 AM so she can join the family for the day’s festivities. UD and I fashion a plan at the bar to enhance Zee’s arrival experience in Cermer… it is, without a doubt, a masterpiece plan, that even today the resulting event on that cold Thanksgiving morning, remains a historic event in family folklore.

Zees Street personSome salient points: (1) Cermer is a tiny town, maybe 15 blocks square if that. (2) It was a snowy, frosty morning, maybe 20 degrees. (3) The Greyhound bus terminal was an old, classic house of sorts, on the main street, closed that holiday morning. So when the bus deposited Zee at 7 AM Thanksgiving morning, the tiny town was dead, no cars, no people, and Zee’s waiting area was outside, on the front porch. (4) Zee was and remains a spaz of sorts and was scared to death of Baltimore Street People. So much so she once admitted she would cross the street to avoid walking near one on the way to work.

UD and I leave the Swirl Inn Bar, well oiled, at 3 AM or so, Thanksgiving morning. We went to my dad’s house and gathered up an old stained raincoat, galoshes, dirty work khaki pants, and a scarf that looked so bad Goodwill wouldn’t take I; also a walking cane, a rag-bag, and an old filthy Fedora type hat.  I put it all on… the outfit was a perfect recreation of a Baltimore Street Person. With that, at about 5 AM, UD and I head to Cermer, about 10 miles away, to await the arrival of the Greyhound, and Zee.

Zees grey hound busUD dropped me off in my outfit, behind the Cermer YMCA, across the street and adjacent to the Greyhound bus station.  He positioned the van a block away where he had a clear view of the scene.  And in rolls the bus at 7 AM.  Zee de-buses, walks up the steps of the old house to wait on the porch for UD to arrive. Cermer is a ghost town.

I step out from behind the YMCA in my outfit and make my way across the street, now in Zee’s line of sight.  I am bent over, moving slowly, limping, with cane, in filthy clothes, the Fedora concealing most of my face.  Zee is watching. She thinks its street person!  Yes!  As I get closer to the house, UD pulls the van up directly across the street, Zee starts down the porch steps, crosses the sidewalk, watching me. I’m getting closer now.  Later she would reveal that she was sure she could “take me” if anything “funny” started. Zee starts to cross the street, with a travel bag in each hand, looking at me. She reaches mid-street, halfway to UD and the van, Zee in Cermerand I start after her yelling, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”.  She throws both bags up in the air and races toward the UD’s van.  UD is in the driver’s seat, bent over howling, and is only able to snap one photo, the one in this post. Zee dives into the van, I run up, identify me, she is beyond pissed.

The story was fully recounted at the Thanksgiving dinner table, the family in hysterics; Zee, not so much.

If you encountered Zee today, decades later, and spoke the phrase, “Hey Little Girl, Hey Little Girl”, she would have a very special message for you, most likely beginning with F and ending with U!

***** S&E *****

Log Entry No. 121: “Hooter’s Cruiser”

Hooter spent gobs of money, time, and effort in the spring, converting a used panel van into his dream camper with many special features and accommodations. He lived in the northeast, his area famous for its nasty winters featuring cold, ice, and snow.  Accompanying those elements were the many tons of road sand and salt just waiting to ruin your car or in Hooter’s case his newly restored camper.

Hooter 2Hooter’s answer to the DOT’s concerted effort to slowly rot his dream machine was to store it away for the winter.  His answer to an alternative source of transportation was an early, old 1960’s boat of a car for which he paid close to nothing, as I recall a few hundred bucks. It only had to last until spring.  An honest description of the car would be to describe it as a rust bucket, featuring peeling paint, many dents, banged up wheel covers… one owner away from the junk yard, just plain ugly.

Unlike his van, he had little respect for his winter “Beater” as he called it.  He used the back seat as a garbage area for all sorts of waste to include rags, empty cans, fast food garbage and empty automobile oil containers. The Beater had a never-ending, insatiable appetite for motor oil, much of which went up in black smog, a byproduct of engine operation, exiting into the atmosphere from the car’s exhaust pipe.  Hooter always carried spare quarts of oil (and beer) in the back seat.

It was a chilly weekday night that turned into bar hopping ending late, maybe 1:30 am.  Hooter was dropped off at his apartment by his two friends, actually relatives.  They watched him ascend the outside steps to his second floor apartment.  His Beater was parked just outside.  After some discussion they decided the paint was so bad on the car it needed touched up, that night, before dawn, prior to 6:30 am when Hooter had to leave for work.

It was a mad rush to round-up a sufficient number of used spray paint aerosol cans to do the job.  Color was not a concern.

By 2:30 am the perps were hard at work on Hooters car, skillfully applying various colors to most of the painted surfaces on the Beater.  There had to be some special effects, so stars were painted on the hub caps (it was an old car, still had hub caps).  The exterior mirrors were addressed, as was the roof.

Hooter 1 The trunk lid rolled down, offering a huge flat area which faced onlookers or drivers with a view of the rear of the car.  So, to match the stars on the hub caps, the boys painted “State Police” across the rear of the trunk, trimming it up with two more stars on each side of State Police. Perfect!

The boys moved back a block to watch Hooter’s reaction at 6:15 am, his departure time for work.

Hooter, feeling not so good from the night before, opened his apartment door, and on the way down the steps had the pleasure of a full view of his police cruiser. The boys witnessed an indescribable dance and were sure Hooter wove a tapestry of words never featured in the English language.

I suppose the icing on the cake as it’s called, was that he had to drive his new (to him) cruiser more than 15 miles to work, much of the distance being a state highway.

It is one of those log entries that never goes away, still alive in Hooter’s family.

***** S&E *****