Wednesday, September 18, 2013

As of this writing the Powerball lottery is approaching $400 million. It gives me pause for thought.

Why do we play lotteries? I think it’s inherent in human nature to dream of bigger things. We think about the possibilities. “What would I do with all that money?” Many of us plan great things and think of the altruistic things we could do. After we buy that villa in Tuscany, of course. “The high school band needs new uniforms? No problem, I’ll take care of that.” “What, you need a car to get to work? Go pick one out; I’ll take care of it.” We dream of the places we’d go, the things we’d buy, the great things we could do.

But the truth is that there are many lotteries in life. We pays our money and we takes our chances. We go to school hoping to get an education for a decent job. But isn’t a job a type of lottery? You play the lottery and pick a vocation. Maybe it’s a winning one, maybe not. You play the lottery and pick a place to work. You don’t really know if you’ll like the place you work until you start working there. If you’re the person hiring a worker, you play the lottery and pick who you hope is the winning ticket. If they work out then you’ve hit the lottery. If they don’t you buy another ticket.

Relationships are that way too. How do you know if you’ve picked the winning ticket until you pay for it? There are some of us who have to buy several tickets before we hit the jackpot. I was lucky; I hit the big one first time out. Oh, I looked at tickets, several of them, came close to buying one a time or two, but I bought a winning ticket 32 years ago and haven’t regretted picking those numbers since. I don’t need to look at relationship tickets anymore.

For those of you who are still buying tickets; I hope you buy a winning ticket and enjoy life the way I do. I will buy a Powerball ticket just to give me the chance to dream a little. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dreaming as long as dreaming isn’t all you do. But dreaming is healthy in the right portions. Work as hard as you can, making sure that some of the work you do is working toward fulfilling dreams. 

So, what color should I paint the villa?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

I started the day thinking how bad it was.  Everything I tried to do seemed a larger task than it should have been.  For example; I was putting the dishes away and couldn't get a dinner tray in the slot where it goes.  Someone had crammed some stuff in the slot next to it making it impossible to get the tray into it's slot.  Ugh, why can't people do it right? (In other words; my way.) Then when doing something in the refrigerator I found a huge package of string cheese with one piece of string cheese left in it.  Who does that?  I mean, for heaven's sake, take the cheese out and throw the package away.  I stirred up some pancake batter; enough for one cake, and put it on the griddle.  Then while I was distracted feeding the cat I burned it. The pancake, not the cat. I had to make another batch of pancake batter.  Life was horrible. 

Then I got a Coke and stepped back to reflect. 

My problems were my own making; it was my reaction to situations that were of little, if any, consequence.  I chose to react negatively, I wasn't forced to do so.  As I pondered that I came to understand that I needed to adapt. Some people are forced to adapt to situations not of their making or choosing. 

A person I've known since I graduated from high school, and became better acquainted with over the last 10 years, died a week ago.  He was 6 weeks younger than me.  He left a large and loving family who now have to cope with the loss of their father/husband/son/brother/friend.  It was a sudden death and shocked all who knew him.  He will be missed. But the ones left behind didn't choose to have this happen.  They are having days of grief and sorrow, but are choosing to look past this life and into the next.

I have a good friend who is going through some particularly devastating health issues.  She didn't choose to have these issues, but have them she does.  She chooses not to react negatively, but to deal with them.  I don't know that I'd have the fortitude to be as upbeat as she is.

Very recently I've begun correspondence with a friend from when I lived in the Sulfur Springs Valley, near Douglas.  She had really bad stuff happen to her when she was quite young.  It has affected her for many years, and rightly so.  She deals with it, and other bad stuff in her life, as best she knows how.  And I believe she deals with it well. Like the above examples she didn't choose to have this happen to her but she deals with it.  I'm pretty sure that if half of the bad stuff that's happened to her had happened to me, somebody would be dead; either me or the perpetrator. 

So I've decided to attempt to try harder to be positive and ditch the negative.  I mean, what do I have to complain about anyway?  I've got a great life with a beautiful wife; no worries.  Heck, I was sitting on the couch reading Classic Motorsports magazine this evening when Linda says to me "Call Steve Edwards and go to this hot rod show tomorrow."  She handed me the newspaper which had an article on a rod show in Prescott tomorrow.  I didn't have to whine about wanting to go, I didn't even know about it.  She's even letting me take her car which she filled with fuel yesterday.  I really do have a great life. A great wife too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Of Biscuits and Beans

I grew up in a farming community outside of Phoenix, AZ.  I don’t know how poor we were; I mean I don’t know if were poor or not.  My mother was fabulous at budgeting money and my dad always worked extra.  Probably like most kids, there were some who had more money than us and some who had less.  I recall that among my particular group of friends we never counted how much money we had in our pockets in order to be friends with each other.  Our family ate our share of beans and I thought everyone did.  Maybe they did; I don’t really know. But that being said I’m recalling how both of my parents would act and react to money.

My mother was frugal.  She enjoyed good things in life but she never spent money she didn’t have.  For most of my growing up years she was a housewife and considered it her job to take care of the house and household finances.  She hated being in debt.  She still does.  She owns everything she has and has no debt.  Admirable, for sure.  She taught us that pursuing finer things in life isn’t a matter of money, that it is a matter of deciding what you want for yourself and going after it.  And maybe it’s using your time wisely to pursue good things and not having time for the trashy stuff.  Mom loves poetry; Robert Burns is a favorite.  If you have any experience reading Burns in the original dialect you know it is challenging.  Mom thinks the challenge is worth it to gain an understanding of the author’s meaning.  She loves good music and would gather her kids around the old phonograph player and play the early (50’s) versions of the Time Life compilations.  There was everything from Turkey in the Straw to Tchaikovsky.  She liked Country music so we heard that too.  But thank heaven she liked Marty Robbins and not Tex Ritter. 

Dad was an easy going, hard working carefree individual.  He worked hard so that he and his family could enjoy the good things.  We never had a new car but we always had a good car.  We bought good shoes so they would last but we didn’t buy shoes often.  Dad raised cattle so we could have meat.  He had grown up having to milk cows and hated it, so thankfully his kids didn’t have to do that, but we learned to work in other ways.  Dad always had money in his pocket so that when we were in town we could stop at the Dairy Queen for a cone.  We could get whatever we wanted for $.25.  I guess that in a nutshell I’d say about my dad that if he had money, everyone had money; he shared what he had with everybody. 

But Mom and Dad talked some, not much, because they weren’t whiners, about growing up as Depression era kids.  Dad in particular would talk about him being the youngest of 11 kids and how his mother would bake 4 loaves of bread every day.  On a wood stove mind you.  She was always preparing a meal, cooking a meal or cleaning up after a meal.  Dad talked about there always being plenty to eat but that it was usually not fancy.  One of the things he remembered was having dried biscuits or maybe some leftover bread, especially the hard crusty ends in milk.  Mom learned to make a great pot of beans because that’s what they had.  While I was growing up the word “beans” meant pinto beans.  If you had green beans you said green beans.  If you had Lima beans you said Lima beans.  But if you said beans it meant pinto beans.  I’ve spent years trying to make beans the way Mom does.  So later in his life, while I was growing up, my dad would save biscuits for a couple of days, let them get good and dry and put them in milk and consider it a special treat.  One of Mom’s comfort foods was beans.  Nothing fancy in them; maybe a bit of bacon or a ham hock, but mostly just a few spices and beans. 

So for breakfast this morning I had some biscuits in milk and thought of my dad.  Comfort food.  Good thoughts, remembering him sitting at the kitchen table eating biscuits and milk.  My dear sister still has that table and I think I need to visit her and have some biscuits and milk.  Mom lives with my sister now and maybe I can get her to give me one more lesson on making beans.  I make some pretty darn good chili beans, people have asked for my secret.  But I want some “beans”, beans the way my mom makes them.  And now I wonder what my lovely daughters will think of as comfort food when they are my age.  I hope they have good thoughts, the way I have good thoughts. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Short Treatise on Being Free
As a man, David E. Davis was a rapscallion, a rascal, a rogue; in general a knave.  As a raconteur and automotive journalist he had few peers.  The quote below pretty much sums up my feeling about cars, and even a little about my politics.

"We drive cars because they make us free. With cars, we need not wait in airline terminal or travel only where the railroad tracks go.  Governments detest our cars; they give us too much freedom. How do you control people who can climb into a car at any hour of the day or night and drive to who know where? An open car gives us another dimension of freedom. In an open car we enjoy the heightened freedom of the coursing hound, racing across the land with only the wind for clothing.  It is the freedom of wild ducks, shining in their colorful plumage, flying at impossible speeds through the treetop to impress the duck women they love. In an open car on an open road, we can feel what that man felt eons ago, when he first managed to grab a horse's mane, throw himself on its back, and feel himself transported at unthinkable speed into mankind's next stage of development."

So, the Thunderbird will get done and I'll drive it with the top down whenever possible; maybe even when it seems foolish to others.  I'll have the top down and a jacket on, maybe even a scarf around my neck. I'll wear a hat to keep the sun at bay, but the top will be down. I'll also pursue the purchase of a British or Italian sports car.  I'll do it because of the fun I envision there being, and the freedom the cars allow me to have.  I crave the open road.  I crave it for the things to see, the conversations with passengers and the joy of the solitude when traveling alone.  I also crave it for the freedom and knowing that it's my choice to travel where I want and when I want.  A right turn or a left turn is my choice. I'll know that even when asleep, if I choose to, I can get up get dressed and go for a ride.  That ride is more pleasant in an open car. I have the luxury of having a closed car for the times when it's absolutely necessary to be practical. And I have the opportunity to have an open car for the times when practicality be damned, I'll drive what I want and go where I want. I'll travel by air when necessary and by rail when it's fun, but I'll put the top down on a convertible whenever I can.  Lela and Mary Lynne, if you read this use the following as part of my will: Forget the hearse; make my last ride sitting up in the back of a convertible with the top down.