Tag Archives: Slice of Life Story

The Road to Bend

8 Aug

Way back in the Spring, a friend and I signed up for a union sponsored, all-expenses paid, leadership conference to be held in Bend, Oregon. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

A few weeks before the conference she called me, thinking she didn’t really want to go anymore. I didn’t want to be assigned a random roommate, so we looked into cancelling. Apparently, others have felt this way in the past and cancelling would cost us each $150. So, we made plans for the trip.

The day before we made plans on where to meet. Thinking I was being helpful, I suggested the Starbucks 3 blocks from my house. My friend has a history of being late and I figured I could enjoy my coffee while I waited. I could also leave my car at home and buy her a coffee, since she would be the driver. While talking on the phone, I looked up the address and read it off to her.

The next morning, I was at Starbucks about 5 minutes early, as is my wont. The deal was that, if she wasn’t there by 7:15, I would call her. I placed my order and picked up my Venti soy latte when it was ready. Little did I know that my first sip of the mocha, would foreshadow other little mistakes.

By 7:10, I was getting anxious… and then my phone rang.

“Where are you?” my friend asked.

Well, it turned out I had not really been paying attention the night before because I;d given her the WRONG address. She was at a Starbucks on Burnside Street, but several miles away. Why hadn’t I noticed that last night? I gave directions to my location and she arrived within a few minutes.

Once she had her coffee, we sat to plan the route. East over Mount Hood, then South? Or South down I-5, then east? We opted for the Mount Hood route and tried to plug in the hotel address to her phone. It wasn’t taking it, so we just typed in Bend, and loaded the car.

After three hours of conversation, the phone began giving us directions. We followed them until she said, “Arrived at Bend”.

We burst out laughing, remembering we hadn’t put in the hotel address. My friend did so and we were off and driving again. Except it still didn’t seem right. Maps had the hotel in the north end of Bend and the phone was sending us South. We knew we were int rouble and started laughing. I was  laughing so hard at one point, I couldn’t speak. My friend pulled over because she was laughing and had to go to the bathroom badly. An accident was imminent. We pulled ourselves together and carried on, after finding a bathroom.

The phone sent us off the highway and through a round about then told us to turn left, but the barrier in the road made us turn right. We pulled off and put in the hotel’s name, instead of the address and, miracle of miracles, we had new directions. we arrived within a few minutes. We registered and made it to the opening lunch, which had just begun, and sat down, hopeful that our misadventures were over.

Just for fun, her are some pictures from the trails near our hotel and conference center.

The Parking Lot

1 Aug

I’ve started thinking about my next car. I am hoping it will be my last car because, when it dies, I will be retired and hope to rely on public transport.

I’m thinking t will be a small car, a Mini Cooper or Fiat. Maybe a Honda Fit. I want my next car to fit into small parking spaces. And what I witnessed yesterday reaffirmed my commitment to a smaller car.

I had just exited Trader Joe’s and was walking through the parking lot to my car. I had parked at the far end of the parking lot, in the shade of a tree. (In case you hadn’t heard, we are having a heat wave).

It was already hot and I was thinking happy thoughts about blasting the AC. As I crossed the road in front of the store, a big, white SUV pulled into the same row my car was parked in. I turned down the row and stopped. The SUV driver was having a little trouble turning into a spot. The driver pulled forward, then backed up and cranked the steering wheel. The driver pulled forward some more and still didn’t fit, so s/he backed up again And then turned the tires the wrong way.

I was feeling impatient – it was a hot morning after all – but suddenly I had a feeling I was in for a show. Again the driver pulled forward and did not fit. Sheesh! They backed out again. Again they turned the tires the wrong way. They pulled forward some more and I think that was when the driver realized it was never going to work.

This must have been the moment they realized that, only one car away, were two empty spots side by side. An easy park! They backed up once more, but it was once too often.

I saw the collision coming before it happened. I think I might even have called out, but I don’t think the driver heard me over the crunch. They pulled forward and it only took two tries to fit in the new spot.

By then, I’d walked to my car. I passed the victim vehicle, a van that was hardly marked. I didn’t see the SUV driver get out. Didn’t see if they left a note on the van or not. Surely they felt the collision and would do the right thing.

As I drove out of the lot I passed the shiny new SUV that did the damage. There was a football sized dent on driver side bumper.

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Veni, Vidi, Vomit

25 Jul

Nothing makes me move faster than that URP URP URP sound of a dog about to vomit.

Louie used to find and eat all sorts of nasty things. He vomited often and help speed up my reaction time.

Fiona was less opportunistic.

Lucy, like my first basset Clara, rarely vomits. And yet, it happened yesterday.

There we were, curled up on the sofa on a hot summer afternoon, enjoying the cool of the air-conditioned house. I was engrossed in the book I was reading. Lucy was curled up sleeping deeply – until she wasn’t.

In a flash she was off the sofa and the URP URP URP began.

I threw aside my book (Posted by John David Anderson) and leapt to action. I grabbed the paper towels, a trash can, and the Nature’s Miracle spray. By the time I returned, Lucy had finished, but had not yet begun the canine “ritual” that often follows. I was that quick.

Although I am a gagger, I have mastered the art of cleaning dog vomit without gagging. It mostly involves lots of paper towels and turning my head to one side. And lots of breath holding.

Within a few moments, Lucy was curled up again, none the worse for wear. I washed my hands a few times, changed out the paper towels covering “the spot”, and washed my hands a few more times. Then, I, too, was curled up on the sofa, reading as if nothing had happened.

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2017 Oregon Basset Hound Games

18 Jul

When the police car pulled up, I took my attention away from what I was doing at the raffle table. I watched the officer as he stepped out of the car and moseyed over to the ring where all the action was happening. He was a very tall man and one of his strides was probably two of mine.

What have we done?  I wondered.  Did someone call in a noise complaint?

I continued watching him as he stood at the edge of the ring. From my angle at the raffle table, I couldn’t see his face, and I could stand the mystery no longer.

“I’m going to take some photos, ” I told the two people at the registration table. “Can you take over raffle ticket sales for a few minutes?” I said, not really asking.

Camera in hand, I wandered over to the ring where the Limbo was going on, and stood right next to the police officer. He reached into his breast pocket, (Will he write us a citation?) pulled out his phone and, like me, started taking pictures.

“Are you a basset hound lover?” I asked.

“Nah, just a dog lover in general,” he replied.

“Great!” I said. “Enjoy the day. It is good for some laughs.” I moved into the ring to take more photos.

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True confessions of a car stalker

11 Jul

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I’ve designated myself the parking police.

I park on the street and it has suddenly become hard to get a parking spot. So, I have become a parking detective – and snitch.During the school year, I became anxious if traffic was bad, worried these new (and unknown) interlopers would hog a space.

City laws say that you have to move your car every 24 hours, so I began noting which cars didn’t move.   I looked a little further into parking regs and learned that the city has a parking hotline. Suddenly, I had a tool to handle my concerns.

I confess, I have only called on two cars. There are criteria that have to be met.

A vehicle that remains in violation for more than 24 hours and one or more of the following conditions exist:

A.    The vehicle does not have an unexpired registration plate, fails to display current registration, or does not have them lawfully affixed to the vehicle.

As an example a vehicle with a temporary registration or a TRIP permit counts as having current registration while the temporary registration or TRIP permit is valid and visible.

B.     The vehicle appears to be inoperative or disabled.

As an example a vehicle with a flat tire is inoperative, but a vehicle that might have an impairment that is not visible is not an Abandoned Vehicle.

C.    The vehicle appears to be wrecked, partially dismantled or junked.

As an example a vehicle with a missing windshield would be considered partially dismantled. A vehicle with a missing or damaged door window would not be considered wrecked, partially dismantled, or junked as it could still be legally operated on public highways.

In both cases where I called, bright green tow warnings appeared. In the first case, the vehicle was moved. In the second case, it was towed on July 1st, almost a month after I called. Apparently Portland also has a problem with abandoned vehicles and has a backlog.

There are a couple of other vehicles I am watching. Two have been moved twice since the tow happened. One has been sitting for over a month. It’s plates are good through August. I am also vigilant about my own car and, make sure that if I don’t go anywhere, I move my car so no one thinks I’ve abandoned it.

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Is this illegal?

20 Jun

I had a list of errands a mile long. That’s why I was sitting in my car, in front of the library, waiting for it to open. I was running a bit ahead of schedule, but, as this was only stop number two of eight, I wasn’t cocky over over-confident. I knew this was temporary.

I had a few minutes to kill, so, as I sat listening to The Underground Railroad, I decided to look through my wallet to see what Items I should remove before my upcoming trip to Chicago. I usually only like to carry the cards I need, and an emergency credit card. As I riffled through the items tucked into pockets, my eyes caught sight of my car insurance card, and they bugged out of my head. The expiration date was two weeks ago.

I calmed myself down, closed my eyes and tried to remember if the new cards had come in the mail. I couldn’t see them in my mind’s eye, but remembered receiving the list of   E-Z Pay dates and amounts that would be deducted from my account. Okay,  I thought, calming a little, they haven’t closed my account, so I’m still good.

I tried to remember receiving the big envelope that arrives annually, but couldn’t. That didn’t mean it hadn’t come. Knowing they were planning to deduct the payments, I was sure it had to be at home. I was nervous, but planned to look for the cards as soon as I got home. If they were there, they’d be in one of two places.

The library opened and I got my holds. Driving to complete the next six errands, I was nervous, worrying that, with an expired insurance card in my car, this would be the time something happened. Nothing did.

When I got home I looked in the first of the two places…and there was that lovely large envelope that I;d never opened. I tore it open and there were the cards. I carefully tore along the perforations and put one card in my wallet and another in an enveloped labelled  INSURANCE 2017-18, to be placed in the glove compartment later. Then, I sat, and finally relaxed.

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A conversation overheard, then understood

6 Jun

The buzz of conversation filled my classroom as the 5-minute break began. Sixth graders clustered in groups and their energy was palpable. Well, there are only three weeks of school left, I thought as I bustled about the room getting things ready for the second half of our 2-hour block.

I scanned the room, looking for trouble (there was non) and paid vague attention to their conversations, until I heard one that piqued my interest.

“Oh gosh!” exclaimed a popular girl. “I have learned SO much this year.More than I learned in all my years of elementary school.”

WOW!  I thought. These kids really recognize and appreciate how hard their teachers work. I felt really proud of myself and my team. We had taken this group of highly gifted young people and given them the educational challenge they needed. Yeah us!

And then I overheard the rest of the conversation.

“I am the most corrupt person in my family,” she went on, bragging, and I realized that she was not talking about the formal education we’d been providing for the last 8 months. She was talking about the informal learning she’d picked up from her peers about life and how it all works. My heart dropped.

And then I laughed at myself.

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