A van to go

The engine light is on,” the van driver announced last summer.

He took it to the shop. The mechanics fixed a part.

The light stayed lit. He took it to a couple shops. Mechanics tried one thing and another to turn off the lights warning of something amiss with the engine. Just before a long trip, he poured some magic fluid in the engine and the light stayed off.

Four hours down the road, the dash lit up again.

Stopped at an auto supply store. Mechanic came with battery tester and declared, “No problem”

Back on the road with no light for many miles.

It came back. Asked another mechanic what needed to be done. Nothing showed up on the analysis. The light went on and off until the van arrived at the home of the out-of-state family and did not move again for the entire visit.

Heading home, the dash lit up with battery and brake warning lights glaring their red warning. Again, yet another mechanic found nothing to fix.

The engine did not care, it surged and faded in strength.

“It is not shifting gears right. The light is back on. …. and the engine sounds odd,” the driver mused just as the motor sighed and died.

The State Police stopped to help. Hood up, key in ignition, the car roared to life, determined to show it could take the folks home.

Shrugs, handshakes and down the road again for about ten minutes and again the van began losing energy. It rolled along sounding ominously ready to quit right in the middle of Nowhere, with acres of farm land on either side.

“Oh, let’s just buy another car. This one has 317,000 miles. The CD player doesn’t play well. It has been in and out of the shop. It is time,” the co-pilot said.

The driver sighed. He really had hoped to get half a million miles before he traded vans. And it would only be a van trade. He had had four vans, all from the same company. He bought one of the first that the company built on this particular line. He replaced it with a red van from a car rental – purchased halfway through a trip when the first van finally died. A middle of the day collision with a drunk driver killed the red van at 350,000 miles. A gold van off Ebay replaced it for a couple years to be replaced with the silver van from a used car dealership.

As the silver van struggled to keep up its speed through farming country, it passed a crop of cars, a car dealership in the middle of the fields of Nowhere.

“We could stop there and have them look at the van.”

“Wrong company….. but they might have a van,” he said, his eyes searching for a van from “the right company.”

One van. White. Four years old. Working condition with a DVD player! A short test drive, cell phone check of blue book prices and three hours of paper work.

The silver van would not start for the mechanic. They shrugged, “Your problem, not ours.”

It took a few minutes to clear the silver van’s storage compartments, scoop up suitcases, audio books and trip detritus to transfer to the white van. Neither shed a tear for the silver van’s thousands of miles of service. Instead, they quickly embraced the luxury of leather seats, DVD player, automatic doors, high tech radio and working CD player. As the co-pilot observed, “We sure didn’t waste any time thinking about replacing that old van did we?”

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Mr. R and the nursing home

No surprise. During a recent visit, Mr. R said, “You need to write a column about the impact on people entering a nursing home.” He already knew. Back in the 1980s Mr. R urged us to think about nursing homes for our parents. “I don’t want to start an argument, I just want to open a discussion,” he said.
We listened, talked and forgot about it. Ultimately, only one of the four needed residential care in their waning days. Two others stayed at home under Hospice and the third passed during a hospitalization for his chronic illness.
No surprise when Mr. R. became a chaplain for Hospice. He spent his days visiting the terminally ill. He knew the ins and outs of their problems, the duties of the staff and the needs of the family.
The surprise and irony came after Mr. R fell a couple times and suffered other problems. Testing, probing and analysis ended with a diagnosis of ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. His body had begun to betray him as muscle responses slowed.
The diagnosis came about the time retirement should have meant many years surrounded by his children and grandchildren. His illness followed his wife’s diagnosis with a terminal blood disorder. Together they re-arranged their small home to accommodate their changing needs and abilities. As best they could, they took care of each other with help from their family.
Once a month they entered a nursing home to provide their children a week of respite care. The staff at the home took care of them, while their family caught up with errands, chores and rest.
Too soon, Mr. R attended his wife’s funeral in a rolling lounge chair. Shortly afterwards he moved into the nursing home to stay. The family sold his house and distributed most of his earthly goods. A few pictures and items moved with him into his new abode of one bed in one room of a nursing home.
We visited him recently. Propped up in the raised bed with pillows holding up his head, he admonished, “Write about all the things a person loses when they enter a nursing home: their dignity, their privacy, their independence,” We also heard an unspoken, “the loss of the physical health that mandated the need for the extra care.”
He went on to say, “There are gains from entering a home. For those living alone, the home provides companionship, social interaction, regular meals and a predictable medication regime.”
His comments faded and he changed the subject. “All I can move anymore are my fingers. I can lift them a little bit.” He slowly lifted a couple fingers off the bed. His arm and hand did not move.
It was not the outcome he anticipated 30 years ago when he began urging us to consider the benefits of the nursing home for our parents. He surely did not plan to be this young and in a home. From the beginning he has said, “We are on this journey together, and we are not going to be sad.”
So we visited him and we talked. When the conversation grew too serious, he said, “let’s talk about something less serious. What did you think about that election?”
We laughed and shared our observations. Mr. R may be confined to a bed, only able to call the nurse by blowing in a tube, but he remains as aware of the world as ever. That is one thing he has not lost – his enjoyment of life and the people he loves.

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Such talented (?) grandkids

Our grandchildren have impressive talents and insights. Take Sam, 6, he announced one morning, “Mom, did you know I can morning snore? I’m doing it right now!”
Another time he said, “I feel so good…because my armpits stink.”
That appalled his sister, Sophia,, “What! Why would that make him feel good?! Boys are so weird.”
She should know, she has two brothers.
According to their mom, Henry, 3, “Really wants to talk about time:”
When she urged him, “Come on, Buddy, let’s go” Henry replied, “In ten minutes” and held up five fingers.
This year the family purchased a season pass to Six Flags and went to the nearby park a number of times. Although the park is closed for the winter, Henry asks, “Mama, we go to Six Flags tomorrow?”
Mom shook her head, “No, Buddy, they aren’t open.”
Not understanding, Henry asked, “We go to Six Flags in two days?”
He wants to go back to Six Flags which won’t open until summer so since September his mom says he has been asking, “It’s the first day of summer?”
It’s going to be a long winter for his mother.
He also likes visiting his friend and often asks his mom, “We go to Frankie’s house today?”
Mom replied, “Not today Buddy.”
Henry looked up at her, “Not yet?!”
Asking once would be fine, but Henry repeats the same conversation over and over through the day.
He offsets his toddler obsessions at nap time when he asks “Mama, you sleep with me, you take a nap with me?”
She replies, “I’ll read you a book, and then I’m going to let you take a nap.”
Recently, the little charmer thought a moment and then asked, “Mama, you a princess?”
“I don’t know. Do you think I’m a princess?” his mamma asked.
“Prolly. Prolly you a princess, Mama,” Henry said and quickly added, “You sleep with me two minutes?”
His mother concluded, “How can I say ‘no’ to that?”
Sophia, 8, focuses more on food. She declared earlier this month, “My favorite eating season is Thanksgiving.” It is definitely not October when she assured her mother that she only went trick-or-treating “for the good exercise.”
In another city, grandson Elijah, 10, the only direct male descendant on his dad’s side, informed his parents that he is the family’s only hope to carry on the family name. Such a responsibility. It was, however, his first name that caught his attention after a recent Sunday School lesson. He hopped in the car and asked, “Why did they call Elijah a prophet? Wouldn’t he be more like a NON-profit? He didn’t make any money, did he?”
That one made his pun loving grandfather smile.
Elijah and his younger sisters help with chores around the house.
One night their mom said that Daisy and Caroline helped her cook and “tonight, Eli said, without prompting, ‘I want my chore to be clearing the table.’ He has never done this chore, but he did tonight, and it was a joy to work with him in the kitchen. Some days as a mom are utterly exasperating and exhausting, but those five minutes here and there are glorious. While I don’t want to say farewell to my kids’ childhood, those glimpses of maturity are so, so good.”
Evidently the feeling is mutual. Eli looked pensive during a family game of Old Maid. His mom noticed and asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, just thinking about how much I like my life.”
Just another kid’s passing remark about a time of life full of wonder, discovery and developing conversational skills.

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Thank you for the Eureka moment

Eureka moments hit when a beloved item from the past appears at a yard sale, thrift store or Ebay. Overwhelmed with excitement and gratitude, some buyers can’t contain their excitement.
Recently a seller of vintage perfume posted a copy of a ‘thank you’ note sent to her, She said, “Letters like this makes it so worthwhile. This actually brought tears to my eyes. Bless her heart:
The letter began, “’Hello, I just wanted to tell you how pleased I am with my purchase. My beloved aunty wore this perfume every day of her young life. She has been gone 30 years.
“I then wore it everyday until they changed and cheapened the perfume. I have purchased a couple vintage perfumes since beginning to shop on Ebay two years and it’s never quite right. I saw your ad and thought the bottle and writing were spot on as well as the price.
“It’s better than the 70’s. Well, it’s perfect. Once I put it on my skin, I felt like me again. I never replaced my ‘my scent’ with anything close to what this perfume does for me. Thank you so much! I was so happy, I cried. Smell is very important, as I’m sure you know. I really wanted you to know my level of happiness and gratitude! Thank you, thank you. May you continue to be blessed in your business both in prosperity and in bringing joy to others. Cheers!”
Another seller said,“I love Ebay for linking people and their favorite memories. I knew nothing about this beer mug from the 1970’s, but thought someone would like it. Sure enough, the buyer (from Ohio) sent me this message:
“Hello! I just wanted to send you a quick note and thank you for this item. Not sure how much you know about the stein I purchased, but it was made at a local German pub where my husband and I are regulars. Back before our time going there, they used to have a man who would hang out at the restaurant and hand make these steins.
“That restaurant closed last week after nearly 50 years in business and my husband has been pretty sad about it. I bought this stein for him and it really lifted his spirits! Just wanted to let you know how much he enjoyed it. Thanks again!’”
That note blessed the seller who learned that their efforts did more than just help pay bills.
Selling on Ebay provides a great way to clear closets while bringing joy – as another seller discovered after she sold her vintage Dutch oven with frogs on it.
She wrote, “I listed it with a bit of reluctance, since it was one of my favorite display pieces. So you can imagine how happy I was when I received this note from the buyer:
“My mom is from Italy and this is her home now. She lost everything in the earthquake. We convinced her to come live with us. I had most of her frog collection already except her personal items like dishes and pots and pans! We were able to recover some of her pans and silverware with frogs on them, but not this pan. Thank you! You made her very happy and I get homemade cabbage soup in Pepe. She is cooking with it now.”
At a time of year when many verbally express their thankfulness for big and little things, consider writing a note to those who have similarly blessed your life and double the blessing right back at them.

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Watching history being made ruins my sleep

History in the making has ruined my sleep. It began weeks ago when the Chicago Cubs hit, ran and stole their way into the play-offs and then the World Series. Night after night my in-house coach monopolized the lounge chair and television.
Hovering around to offer him comfort food when his team failed, I quickly learned the historical significance of these games. Sometimes I sat down to watch. Hope surged early in the final game when Chicago Cubs took the lead. Then the Cubs changed pitchers and the score jumped to 6-6. I wanted to see the end, however, my early bird schedule demanded that I get sleep rather than stay awake to see the end of the game. In the wee hours of the morning, the night owl burst into the bedroom, “They won! In the tenth inning they won!”
I rubbed my eyes, sleepily rejoiced that the 108 years curse had ended, and drifted back to sleep. History had been made. I thought we would return to our regularly scheduled bedtime.
I thought wrong. I had forgotten the presidential election between the first woman candidate and a billionaire. I had voted early and expected to enjoy a guaranteed period of no more discussion or deciding. Even with early voting underway, day after day of breaking news repeatedly reminded all voters that in this age of media and perpetual recordings, everything we say and do is captured electronically and preserved for recall at any time. Revelations of their lifestyles and personal choices in language, email and twitter should have sufficed for the history books. It didn’t.
The polls went up and down. The talking heads predicted an obvious outcome, re-configured their predictions and hinted that they could be wrong if voters in this or that state saw things differently.
On election night, the lounge chair coach held the remote in a death grip and channel surfed between liberal, conservative and rarely unbiased coverage of the election results. Like a great baseball game, the announcers called out the hits, misses and low balls.
I had a meeting to attend about the time the first red and blue lights appeared on the electronic maps. I returned home to talking heads earnestly discussing the surprising display of red.
I took care of routine chores. The master of the remote control surfed to hear every announcer say, “It’s too close to call.”
Eventually, a few state tallies settled into patterns for an obvious winner and the news spread, “We have a final prediction for West Virginia, for Delaware …”
Florida’s tallies bounced between the two contestants. Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire stubbornly remained as inconclusive as a hanging chad.
It was a night of surprises. The red states crept up in number, piling up in favor of the businessman with no political experience. The blue team slumped in schocked dismay and sorrow. The red team caught their breath in awe as what many had said could not happen actually did.
They watched. I couldn’t. Sleep called while both colors still retained the hope of collecting enough votes to hit a home run to the White House.
While I slept, it became obvious that the originally projected winner could not win. The anticipated, easy win for the blue team did not happen. My personal announcer woke me up at 2 a.m. announcing that the billionaire had won.
We both slept-in the next day. After a night of surprises we needed the rest.
Next time when history is about to be made, let’s try to get it done before bedtime, okay?

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Lost in the woods

It was just a routine call to check in with the hunter in the woods.
“Just calling to see how you are doing. Do you need anything?” his loved one back home asked.
“Do you want to come find me? I’m lost in the woods,” the experienced hunter asked.
“You are kidding me!” the homebody exclaimed.
“No. I’m not. The woods looks a lot different this year. The timber company came in and cut down a lot of trees in the summer. I’ve lost my four-wheeler and the deer stand on the trailer it was pulling.”
A moment of silence followed as she thought about the winding cow paths they traveled when she rode to the deer camp. His family had leased the camp from the timber company for decades.
“I can’t find the camp. I would not be any good finding you,” she said.
He sighed. “I called my cousin and asked him to come find me. He said, ‘I done the same thing. I got lost last weekend and didn’t know where I was at.’” He named another in the deer club and said, “He couldn’t find his way either; didn’t know where he was at.”
“We all three have been hunting over here for at least 50 years. That is what happens when they come in and change it up. You can’t find nothing,” the lost hunter said before hanging up.
The hunter looked around at the now unfamiliar land with tops of trees and logs laying every which way across his hunting grounds. He did know where to find the pipeline. He began heading for it.
This was not how he expected to spend the day when he climbed on a four-wheeler and pulled his deer stand into the woods to set it up in his shooting lane. From the top of the deer stand he would be able to look down the lane and see deer at his feeder. To prepare the feeder, he left the deer stand and four-wheeler, took a turn in the unfamiliar woods and quickly realized he was lost. In the maze of newly fallen trees. He could not find the four-wheeler, the tree stand or the feeder.
He began walking toward the pipeline and called his son, “Come down and help find me.”
Thank goodness for working cell phones. He soon had others shouting to direct him back safely to them. Now all they had to do was find his gear.
First, they looked for the four-wheeler with the deer stand. They tracked from the pipeline and the river, pushing their way through the confusion the timber company had left behind them. Back and forth, in and out, until they found the deer stand and lined it up with the shooting lane.
Only then did he realize, “I laid my gun down to move the corn into the feeder. I had walked off and left it.”
It too was lost in the newly cropped woods.
The search switched to finding the gun he had leaned up against a tree. All told it took a couple hours to relocate the hunter, his four-wheeler, deer stand and gun.
“I walked a few miles that day. It was hot and I didn’t have any water.”
Looking back on his experience, the hunter said, “If you go off in the woods you need to carry a bottle of water and a compass. That would be my suggestion to someone going in a freshly cut wood. It changed the whole outlook.”
Good advice when heading into the woods this fall. Be prepared. Be safe.

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Mommy boot camp

Goofing around in class looked like fun to the second grader. In-school suspension with an hour of desk work and the rest of the day to read pleased him, he liked having lots of time to read.
His mom Bobbie did not like it.
Oh she wanted him to read. She did not want him to be suspended. She went to the principal, “the next time he gets in-school suspension, call me and I will come and take him home,” his mom said.
She warned her son that if he chose to goof-off in school he would be going home.
He chose to goof-off.
Suspension began that day and went into the next.
“If you do not choose to get an education, you will work,” Bobbie said when she picked him up. “And you will see the kind of job you can get without an education.”
The next day one determined mother woke her son up early to begin an eight hour work day with two 15 minute breaks and a half hour for lunch. She stood over him all day long to make sure he did not slack off as he cleaned the bathroom and toilets with a toothbrush.
“I micromanaged. He washed all the dirty dishes. Then I pulled out all the clean dishes. If I did not like it, he had to wash them all over again. He cleaned the floor with Mean Green detergent,” she said.
After a day of hard labor, he returned to school.
A couple days later, mother and son were in a department store checking out when the boy froze, his eyes wide open. She turned and saw him staring at an older man, down on his hands and knees cleaning the floor with Mean Green.
The boy’s mouth hung open.
The man looked up and saw him staring. He asked, “Are you in school?”
“Yes.”
“Do you get good grades?”
“No.”
“Do you want to do this?”
Another shake of the head.
“This is what you do if you don’t get good grades.”
“It was perfect. I could not have set it up better myself,” Bobbie said.
“To this day, if I say, ‘Hey! you want me to break out Mommy Boot Camp?’ he says, ‘No, I’m good.’”
Since then other parents have called her and asked, what she did. A couple friends have brought their children over to do Mommy Boot Camp with their children.
He is a teenager now and is doing all the cooking and cleaning right now while his mother is on bed rest.
“We just talked about this yesterday. My nephew is struggling in math.” She tutors the nephew to help him catch up with his class.
“I put the timer at twice what I think he needs to complete a set of problems. If he does not complete it in that amount of time, then I double the work,” she said.
When the younger boy gets restless, the teenager warns his cousin about Mommy Boot Camp, “I promise you don’t want to do it. You do not want to go to Boot Camp.’”
The threat of Mommy Boot Camp is not made lightly. “I have to mean it. I will have to stand there and watch him do it. That was the hardest thing. I lost a day, too.” the founder of Mommy Boot Camp said.
It was a day well spent, “My teenager is one of the best in the universe, and it all goes back to his going to Mommy Boot Camp.”

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It’s happening out there

The cooler fall weather calls the the grandchildren to come out and play. Even10 month-old Katie whines when she has to come inside for a diaper change.
“She cries every time I close the backdoor with her inside,” her mamma said.
When I visited, the baby stood in a red plastic wagon watching the other kids play around her. She had so much more to see out there: the trees, the clouds and her big sisters and brother. Five year-old Daisy brought her a dish of Cheerios to eat then ran off to a “let’s pretend” in the fort on the top of their swing set.
When I arrived I was told, “Come in this other door. That way is a landmine of danger.” She indicated the row of chairs draped with blankets under the shelter of the three-sided garage. No car could park in the garage now that cooler weather beckoned the children to come out and create their own personal Occupy Village. Eli, 10, pointed out, “This one is mine. That’s Caroline’s and that one is Daisy’s.” The forts stayed intact at the end of the day. Imagination had dibs over tidy orderliness and neatly parked vehicles.
My son’s family lives on a dead end street across from a middle school. When the teachers and students leave, the three grandchildren have the entire parking lot and two huge fields for riding bikes, flying kites and playing soccer. Which is exactly what six-year-old Sam did Sunday morning. He put on his red soccer shirt, dark shorts, shin protectors and soccer shoes and took the red, white and blue kick ball to the field. He ran and kicked.
I came out to watch. There stood a four-feet high child in his soccer regalia, kicking the ball into the big net on the middle school’s field. One small child in a large field kicking the ball into the big goal. He came back to tell us all about his game and left the red, white and blue ball on the far end of the green field.
“Wow! What a game! I guess you had better go get the ball,” I said.
He looked out there, Such a long ways to back to the ball. His shoulders slumped.
He sighed, took a deep breath, grinned and his imagination clicked. He was a soccer player again, chugging along like the Little Engine That Could. A colorful red shirt in the middle of the green field, kicking a red and white and blue ball.
Three year-old Henry came out with the water blaster gun his mom had found during her shopping the previous day. He proudly lifted the blaster, pumped it and squirted a blast of water on the garden until he emptied the gun and had to go inside to refill. He refilled it many times as he washed the sides of the car and watered the cement sidewalk.
He pointed it at me.
“No, you don’t shoot people.” I said. He turned around and blasted the tree instead. He watered everything in sight while his mom fixed dinner. She came out and watched him obsessively pumping water, “He will be doing that for the next week,” she said.
Big sister, Sophia, 8, joined the water brigade for a while. Her interest waned long before the 3 year-old’s did. She grabbed her scooter and rolled down the sidewalk.
Outside. It’s where it happening this fall, I realized, as we returned to our quiet house where the kids no longer return home at the end of the day and we began planning another visit with grand kids.

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The best of all days, the worst

It was the best of all times. It was the worst of all times. And, Debbie Kelley can not remember anything that happened on Christmas Eve 2014. She knows she gulped yet another round of pain killers before driving to town to buy rum and diet coke to get through the day. The next thing she remembers is waking up in a strange place and yelling “where am I? What’s going on?”
“Lady, you are in Union County County Jail. You don’t drink, take Xanax and drive. You hit a car going down 167 South and sent four people to the hospital. You kept on driving. We arrested you in your driveway and brought you to the jail.”
Only then did Debbie realize she had a problem. She thought she needed prescription drugs to be normal. Besides, she was a Christian, “I can’t be an addict.”
She thought wrong. It began with the failure of her 17 years as a stay-at-home mom and wife and church lady. She knew where to find relief from her misery. The pain medications leftover pain medications from 13 surgeries.
She never again had leftovers. “I made sure I always had hydrocodone and now I needed Xanax or Ativan for my nerves and Ambien to help me sleep.”
At 43 sipped her first alcohol and soon drank a glass of wine each morning to relax, followed by a pill to get going and more to keep going. She pushed God out of her life with pills and alcohol.
“I thought I was just feeling and acting normal. I liked how Ambien made me feel. I had to have more to sleep. I became addicted to more Hydro, Xanax, Ambien and alcohol.”
As the need increased so did the cost until, “I was writing hot checks, lying, not paying bills and stealing from my husband’s wallet so I could buy more. I felt guilty and depressed but I could not stop.”
She rationalized, “I need this to feel normal. I am using prescription medications, not street drugs.” She prayed that God would supply her needs and thanked God when she got more pills.
Then, “God truly supplied my real need.” He put her in jail. Released to her husband she called her sons to apologize for messing up Christmas.
“They were hurt and disappointed, but my youngest said, ‘Mom you’re not ruining Christmas, this is gonna be the best Christmas ever ­ we are gonna get our mom back.”
“I didn’t think they even knew anything was wrong.”
The local paper and news channel made her hit and run accident the day’s headline story and everyone knew.
Kelley dumped all her medications. Through the holiday, she detoxed at home and waited for insurance approval to enter a private rehabilitation program in Camden.
“At first I thought, ‘I don’t belong here. I just use pills and alcohol and that’s legal.’ I was the oldest one there.” Other patients called her ‘soccer mom’ because she did not look like an addict. She spent 26 days learning addicts look like everyone else.
Follow-up guidelines included attending meetings, calling in daily, submitting to surprise drug tests and reporting to the prosecutor on her progress.
The last 22 months Debbie has learned to turn to God instead of pills and alcohol in hard times. She chooses to seek Him and His way of escape in hard times. She now says, “I never want to go back to that way of life again.” So, on her worst day an accident and arrest changed her life, which made it, also, her best day ever.

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Seen on the street

“Look a deer!” and our car slows as if we have never seen deer standing beside the road. I’ve seen plenty of deer out in the wild. I barely look **really**. My husband points with excitement every time. As did our German visitors when they followed us home from the airport**,** and we passed a small flock standing along a dark stretch of road.
“That could be dangerous!” they exclaimed. Bemused we agreed. “Deer have jumped in front of us.”
Mostly we enjoy the deer as a serendipitous moment breaking the monotony of long drives. One such moment came when we started to pass a semi-truck with an empty flatbed. I glanced out the window and did a double take.
“Look! It’s a Tonka truck tied down with blue straps.” The large toy barely made a blip on the back of that truck.
“I wonder if he is making a big deal of giving his kid a Tonka truck,” I said and added, “Slow down, I want to get a picture of that.” I reached for the camera, focused it on the toy swaddled in blue tie-downs and shot a few a frames before we drove ahead of the truck.
The big and little trucks brought a smile during a long drive, as did the bear driving a car. My husband spotted it in a car passing him on the Interstate. Okay, it was a huge, stuffed teddy bear at the wheel of a car being pulled by a van. It tickled his fancy and kept him alert looking for other oddities.
Those were the first and last time we saw toys on the road, but armadillos are another story. Years, ago we drove from our snow bound, northern home state to NASA and saw an armadillo waddling across the median. We had never seen an armadillo outside a zoo or a book. So we ignored all the signs forbidding us against slowing down or stopping on the NASA highway.
I reached for the camera. The children scrambled to the window to see this rare creature in its natural state. An official looking car saw us, turned and headed our way. I quickly snapped another frame of the small creature. It was too far away to fill the picture. That did not matter. We had seen an armadillo.
Then we moved to southern Arkansas where these shelled creatures litter the highway every spring and I haven’t taken a picture of one since.
We did take a picture of the strange looking car leaving the off ramp of the four lane. I spotted it first. It had some contraption on the roof of the car.
“What is that? Follow it” I urged my husband.
He revved the engine to catch up with the unusual car. We followed until we were close enough to identify it as the Google Street car. Perhaps it came to do an update of the city streets and its full street view camera mounted to the top of the car recorded us following it.
We grabbed a cell phone and took several pictures for social media, “Look what we saw: the Google car. It was decorated with Google insignia and had a 360 degree camera fixed to its roof.”
We followed for a while. The Google car driver didn’t pull out his cell phone to snap a picture of our glee, nor did the truck driver with the Tonka Truck or the Teddy Bear co-pilot. But we still keep our eyes peeled for strange sights. It keeps us alert if nothing else.

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