Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hauling off cars and dreams and moments not lived

The cars and the dream head out on the highway.
This yard-clearing project has taken on monumental proportions as some often do.  I can see the escalation from a leaf rake to heavy yellow equipment as not too much of a stretch.  There's been an abandoned '79 Honda Civic in the back woods for the seven years I've been here and I was told it might have been there as long as 10 years before that.  The borough has a deal going where you can get junk cars hauled away for free and one phone call was all it took.

But first it had to be dragged out of the woods.  I bought a heavy tow strap last winter in anticipation of helping someone out of a ditch some time but this was the first time it came unrolled.  The key to the car has been lost, an artifact for some archaeologist to find some day and wonder what it might have unlocked.  That meant the steering wheel was locked and could not turn the car, so the tow had to be pretty much a straight line --  out of the woods.  Good luck with that.  The first pull brought it about 100 feet only to be stopped by a low stump some prior woodcutter had left in the yard.  The stumps around here are going to be another problem but this might have shown the way to a solution to that.

To turn the Civic away from the stump I pulled a trick from my old boating days.  Using the Jeep like a tugboat, I nudged up against the Honda's starboard bow and shoved it sideways, effectively changing the course the car would take.  That done I hooked up the tow again and yanked the car forward; well the Jeep went forward, the Honda was actually being pulled backward.
Unfortunately it didn't quite clear the stump and it hung up for a moment until I applied, what?  More power.  The car came free and so did half the stump and we headed down the driveway.  The Jeep passed the huge pile of brush and broken branches I had collected, but the Honda plowed right through and over it.  What once was a high round pile of woody detritus, became a long low one in short order, but the Honda made it to where the junk car truck could grab it.

The Honda was an easy decision.  That Volkswagen on the bed of the truck was a tougher one.  It's not easy to face a disappointing failure.  That Bug was supposed to be my son's first car.  When he was 9 or 10 he decided a Volkswagen Beetle was his favorite car.  At about the same time I came across one a friend was selling for $500 so I bought it with the idea as my son grew we could rebuild it against the day he was old enough to drive legally.  As a parent I also figured it was small enough to make it difficult if not completely prevent any sexual adventures he might want to get into and also it would never go over about 60 mph -- safe everything.

We started by taking the engine and all the upholstery out of it and from catalogs began buying a part a month to rebuild it.  We bought lots of chrome go-fasters, those things that look so cool, but don't add a bit of power to anything.  We eventually got the bottom end of the engine apart and back together with all new vitals, but then life interference and a budding teenager's indifference let the project languish long enough to where the car sat abandoned in the yard for several years.  This week came time to accept the fact it was never going to be finished and to let it go.

For sale cheap.
At this point, I feel fortunate not to have a wife and the added motivation she might try to provide.  You see, that engine, with its go-faster chrome parts is on a stand in the spare bedroom.  I couldn't bear to let that go for junk.  For one thing there's about $2,000 invested in it and for another,  maybe there's another guy out there somewhere building a VW bug with his son who would be willing to pay a little for a rebuilt engine or just for the accumulation of parts to enhance the one he has.  If not I have an interesting piece of ornamental furniture to remind me of a precious time that went unlived.

As the familiar baby blue VW went down the street on that truck a cloud of melancholy came over me.  That Bug had held such promise of hours with my son working on a project, watching him learn, teaching where I could and looking up in the many manuals we bought when I couldn't and I remember the dream I could see at the end of the process when he drove off in the coolest VW Bug ever.  Didn't happen and today the junker hauled it away on the back of a truck taking with it a shattered dream that will live on forever unfulfilled, one of those reminders every parent must carry of a quality time we could have spent with a son or daughter we love, but somehow for whatever reason, we missed.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Hell! Yeah, for much of my son's life and some of my daughter's early years I was in the National Guard and worked at a civilian job that had me working every other weekend.

    Long story short, having to pull soldier duty one weekend a month then juggle the two weekends at my job there were months I had no significant time with them.

    Top it all off if I had Guard duty or had to work at my civilian job some sort of major family related activity was sure to take place at the same time.

    I retired from the Guard in 2005 and found a job where I had my weekends off about the same time. Saw one of my old commanding officers in 2008 and unfortunately he wanted to talk. He assumed in a very irritating manner I must be missing all the "action" and wanted to get back in.

    I told the guy in no uncertain terms I thought he was a moron and hoped he did not get any of the guys serving under him killed in Afghanistan.


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve