"…By what stretch of arrogance do you think a life form that looks like you is more important than a life form that doesn’t?”Joel Salatin

Nothing is more beneficial to your wellbeing than to look for and acknowledge those parts of everyday life that you enjoy.

"If you are happy where you are now, why does it matter how painful it was to get there?" -- Abraham

"It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life." -- Bilbo Baggins a.k.a. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

"And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play in your hair." -- Kahill Gibran

“And forget not

Thursday, August 23, 2012

From Racing to Blue

As has been true of a lot of things that have happened since Ronnie passed on, I feel a tremendous relief  in letting go of the responsibility of the Blue Bird.  I've come to the realization that everything we own has a certain responsibility attached to it -- even if it is as simple as dusting it.

I've been practicing the skill of learning to appreciate the beauty of things where I see them and resist the urge to bring them home -- whether it's beautiful art work or fabulous plants I see in someone else's landscape or another pet.  It all has responsibility attached to it and I don't want to bog myself down in taking care of anything more than I'm already tending to.

Blue was a huge responsibility because it represented a large part of Ronnie's legacy which would have diminished if something unexpected had happened to the hotrod  -- such as a dented fender, or a refusal to start up.

I'd already had to have it towed off the side of the road because of a momentary lapse in concentration while driving it to Decatur, all of which cost me a sizable chunk of money -- money wasted.

Even when it was sitting in the garage, there was all manner of impending damage around it -- mop handles, yard tools that don't stand up very steady -- Seth Ryan Pruett -- who was mesmerized by Paw Paw's hotrod.

I was surprised when Bruce called with the offer to buy it.   He's had some neat toys, but he's never owned anything quite like this car.  After all, Blue has history.  He was out and about on the roads of America before Ronnie or Bruce were born.  Many of these old cars met their end on stock car racing tracks.  Many were left to rust in salvage yards after they were wrecked or fell into mechanical disrepair.  But Blue has survived and for the past twenty years or so has been as pampered as any 75 year old should be. He is a part of history that needs to be preserved as well as enjoyed.

There are many very cool aspects of owning and driving a streetrod.  Nothing beats that feeling you get when strangers stick their hand out the window of their car and give you a thumbs up as they pass by, or seeing someones mouth drop open and them point as you drive your streetrod past them.

Hardly anyone doesn't notice a brightly colored old car -- from seniors to youngsters and every age in between.  It's like everyone recognizes that they are seeing something special.

I had my doubts that Bruce would cherish Blue and take good care of it.  Bruce is, and always has been a speed freak  He bought  Blue with the money he received from selling a race car and racing paraphernalia.

My concerns, however, lessened somewhat when I recieved this picture from Bruce.  His son, Bruce Junior, a.k.a Little Bruce, (who isn't little) had had a picture of Blue tattooed on his forearm right after Ronnie passed away.  After his dad bought Blue from me, last weekend, Little Bruce had the memorial inscription added.  And I've been told that when Big Bruce passes on, Blue goes to Little Bruce.

That makes me feel good.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bye Bye, Blue Bird : (

I've written a lot about Ronnie's 1937 Ford hotrod, a.k.a the Blue Bird.  That car represents the best of times in Ronnie's life.  For all the years prior to him buying the Uhaul full of pieces that would eventually evolve into the Blue Bird, Ronnie struggled with many self esteem issues which were bolstered by problems with alcohol.

Looking through some old pictures, recently, I found photos that Ronnie took of his first streetrod, a Hawaiian Orchid, 1938 Chevy,  after he wrecked it one night.  He was absolutely sick over what he had done to his car so he took the pictures to remind himself that drinking and driving don't mix. Then he went to work fixing it and very few ever even knew he had torn it up.

But time heals all wounds and eventually he lost touch with the knowledge he'd gained from tearing up his streetrod.  He came home one night after an evening out on the town in his Viper Red 1948 Chevy, misjudged how much distance he had pulling into the garage and creased the drivers side fender so deep, it cut the metal open.

Again, he took pictures, then proceeded to fix the damage and very few knew what he'd done.
Ronnie loved '55 Chevys.  He built two.  The first one, he painted purple and had all the chrome parts redone. The second one, he customized, shaving off the door handles, and painted it Goofy Grape. The 55's, however, had a different effect on Ronnie than the other cars he'd built.  They seem to take him back to his teenage years.  As soon as he sat down behind the wheel, he didn't have anymore sense than he did when he was seventeen.

He ended up having to sell both the 55's to pay for DWI's.

When he had to let the Goofy Grape one go, it seemed like he began to fully realize that he could not have these toys and continue to drink and drive around.

While he still had the Viper red Chevy, Ronnie bought the dismantled Ford. He eventually sold the Chevy to finish the Blue Bird.

To Ronnie, the Blue Bird represented his very best effort. Is it perfect? Is it every streetrodder's dream car? Maybe, maybe not.  It all depends on what the individual wants and expects from the car, but to Ronnie it was his best honest effort to build a car "the right way."

I passed the Blue Bird to Ronnie's brother, Bruce, yesterday.  Bruce sold all his racing equipment and made me an offer that I decided to take.  There are too many different issues involved in keeping the Blue Bird. That was never a sensible option.  I've always known I'd have to sell it.

When Deidre sent me a text that she had the money in hand and Blue Bird is no longer in my garage, I cried. But in many ways, it is a tremendous relief. Bruce has wanted the car ever since it was built.  He loves speed and Blue can certainly give him that rush.  

Every time we left Bruce's house the past few years, Ronnie would comment on how he wished Bruce would buy a streetrod instead of race cars .  He imagined the fun we would all have going to the "rod runs" together.

So -- one full year after Ronnie passed on, one of his dreams is coming true -- in a roundabout way. Bruce has a streetrod.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

To Vacation or Not To Vacation -- That Is the Question

Deidre and Seth on top of Mt. Scott

My bosses are closing the shop for a week in September.  My friend and co-worker, Dawn and her husband are probably going down toward the Texas coast.  Randy is still trying, with little success, to get Johnny to commit to traveling at least 50 miles from Wichita Falls that week.

With all the discussion about going here and going there, I got caught up in the momentum and decided Deidre and I should take Sethie Pie and go on a vacation.  She says, "wherever you want to go."  So, with Dawn,  I discussed Branson, and staying in a cabin at Table Rock Lake.  She's been there and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It would be cooler.  It's a 7 hour drive with Seth in the car.

Pagosa Springs, Colorado sounds wonderful. My nieces, Kellie and Donna have been posting pictures from there all week.  They say it's down right cold at night, made me feel really envious. That's about a nine hour drive -- with Seth in the car.

Next I thought about venturing out further and going up to Wyoming, checking in with Ronnie's brother, Bruce, who is working in that area.  It's much cooler in Wyoming. That's fifteen hours -- with Seth immobilized in his car seat.

Then I had the bright idea to go out to Seattle.  I'd love to see Seattle and the west coast.  We have several friends who live out there now and could reconnect with some of them.  It's cooler in Seattle and it rains. That's a 32 hour trip -- with you-know-who in the car.

But then Deidre asked, "What are you going to do about the birds?  What about the dogs?"

I hadn't even thought about that.  How could I forget about all my critters?

"I'll stay here and you can go with a friend if you want to get away for a while," she offered.  All of a sudden, I realized that she never really wanted to go.  She'd go for me but if given a choice, she'd rather stay home.

Well, crap.  I don't want to go without her and Seth.  I'd miss them.  I like them.  They make me laugh.

Then with a big sigh of relief, I realized -- I have eleven days off and no commitments.  Woo hoo!  And it's cooler today -- and it might rain!  And we don't have to torture Sethie Pie by strapping him in!  Good times ahead. Staycation -- here come the Brunos!

Monday, August 6, 2012

                                                           Today marks one year ago that Ronnie passed on to the glorious wellbeing that is the afterlife. It's been one hell of a year for me, one full of new dreams, new hopes, new freedoms and a new awareness that we don't come here with the intention of staying forever.

Tuesday, my kids and I and whoever wishes to join us, will strew some of Ronnie's ashes at Rosemont Cemetery where his headstone marks his time here on earth. Then we will drive to the top of Mt. Scott in the Wichitas and release the rest. He didn't want his remains to be kept in a box and although I know he is past caring about all that, I feel bound to keep my promises.

Mt. Scott is not the Redwood Forest, but we had many good times at the Wildlife Refuge, Medicine Park and Meers. Thinking back on all our trips there, I realized that at some point, we were accompanied, at one time or another, by every member of our family and most of our friends. We often went alone.
I remember going up one day, just the two of us. We stopped in at that souvenir shop with the live rattlesnakes, before driving up onto Mt. Scott. We stayed a while looking out at the line of new wind turbines in the distance and wondering how wind power will change our world.  We watched the soaring eagles and hawkes below us. Afterwards, we went down to Medicine Park and had a delicious meal at The Old Plantation.   We strolled along the new lighted river walk holding hands. We talked about how much improved Medicine Park is now, compared to when we came years ago. We returned many times after that day.  We both felt a connection to Medicine Park.

I have many wonderful memories of Ronnie everywhere I go.   He's in every room of our house, in every corner of our yard. I can't go within a 400 mile radius of Wichita Falls without having an onslaught of memories of having been there with Ronnie.  

I see his influence in Seth, in the boy's absolute fascination with all things that have a motor, his love of being outside regardless of what the weather is.

It is interesting to me, and it makes me feel good to know how others remember Ronnie. Several months after Ronnie passed on, Danny McShan brought me an unopened can of Bud Light, and he told me this story: Danny said it was awful hot the last day Ronnie came out to his house to work on that 1957 Ford they had bought together.  David Stepp,  was there, too. Danny went across the street, bought a six pack of beer and they all three drank one. Danny put the other three in a cooler and forgot all about them.  The cooler eventually got covered up, then one day, Danny noticed it and opened it -- and there were the other three beers, one for Ronnie, one for David and one for Danny. Dan keeps his as a memory of that last day of  camaraderie, and I assume David will too.  Mine sits high up on the book shelf so no one will open it, and everytime I see it, I think of Ronnie and Danny and David, and the tales of laughter and friendship Ronnie related to me when he returned that day.

Lowell Tate was Ronnie's shadow for many years.  They didn't miss many car shows.  Even after Ronnie retired, he'd go get Lowell to ride with him when Ronnie had  headlights to clear.  Lowell rode along the week that Ronnie delivered flowers for me at Bonnie's Bouquets.  Lowell told me he would never delete Ronnie's number from his phone.

Glen McShan bought Ronnie's last rebuild project, a 1954 Chevy pickup.  Glenn Cobb got an unfinished Coca Cola box.  Ronnie's youngest brother, John, has his white Chevy pickup.  Bruce wants some of Ronnie's ashes.

He's remembered by most who knew him, as a good man, a fun guy, a reliable co-worker, a knowledgeable streetrodder, a lover of old things that reminded him of his childhood, a lawn manicurist, a collector of old signs.

Ronnie and I had a few rough years.  In fact, all our years were bumpy in places, but I prefer to remember the good times, the best times.   Hopefully rather than "resting in peace", he's in the hereafter building the perfect streetrod, raising "lavender" colored Rollers, guiding Seth from his new, all knowing perspective and having a riproaring good time.  We miss you, Bruno!