Saturday, January 22, 2011

Blue, blew. Oh, pooh.

Dry rot.  It doesn’t always show on a car tire, until you hit 70 MPH.  Back in ought-7, a friend and I were headed up to Ogden in my ‘70 convertible LTD.  We just barely got onto the freeway when the right rear tire literally exploded.  The tires had looked good, they just passed the state inspection, but were at least 8 years old, and for most of that 8 years I owned the car it had been sitting in the garage.  I had to call up my sister-in-law, Mrs. Gearhead, because my spare was flat and and I didn’t even have the bumper-jack in the trunk.  Duh!  Once again, one of my siblings or siblings-in-law bailed me out of a jam, I got a spare on the car, hobbled it home and immediately bought 5 new tires for the car.  Good lesson, because when I bought my ‘69 4-door LTD in California and was told the tires looked good but were quite old, I budgeted for band new tires for the drive home.

Anyway, this first picture is of the bridge I was on when the tire exploded.  As you can see, it was a cloudless day, perfect for a cruise in the convertible, and the sky was a beautiful blue, as it often is here in July. The second picture is of the tire that blew. As you can see, there was enough force to do damage to the car itself.  Unfortunately, it’s 3 years later and I still haven’t repaired the damage. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Disneyland, far from home.

Ever gone to Disneyland?  How about for three days and two nights, with 75 fifteen-year-olds?  And only two teachers?  Yeah, there were more than a half dozen more adults, but parents are not used to ordering around that many kids they don’t know.

In 2001, the Dance Company of the school I was at was invited to perform at both of the Disneyland Parks (California Adventure was still fairly new).  It was quite an honor,and the trip was actually a lot of fun, but not without some, uh, ‘experiences’.  On the airplane, not including 1st Class, we took up close to ¾ of the seats.   They were pretty well behaved on the plane, although a businessman made the mistake of falling asleep next to a couple of the boys.  They didn’t seem to bug him, but later I saw a few pictures of the guy with one of the kids pretending to sleep leaning up against him.

We got from the airport to the hotel without any lost kids or other incidents, but were unhappily surprised when we got there.  We had specifically asked for rooms in separate wings of the building, in order to separate the boys from the girls.  The had told us that we could be accommodated, yet when we got there all the  rooms were in the same wing.  We tried to do our best, arranging the boys on one floor and the girls on another, but this ended up placing a room of boys two stories above a room of girls, with regular guests in between.  This, as you can imagine, caused some problems.  Once they realized they were right above one another, they were yelling up and down the side of the building at each other.   The manager had to come ask me to get them to stop, the regular customers had complained, and I told him that I would take care of it, but reminded him that we had asked for separate wings just because of things like this.   Other than that the kids were reasonably good, except for the group I was directly in charge of.  My group a) broke a bed, b) knocked down an Exit sign playing football in the hall and c) discovered that it took 1½ rolls of  toilet paper to plug up their toilet.  I made them a) pay for the broken bed, b) reattach the Exit sigh and c) borrow a plunger from the front desk until the toilet was working again.  Fortunately I had a good relationship with these kids, so they didn’t even argue about their consequences, just paid the money and  fixed the stuff.

Once we were in the park, things were great.  The dances went off without a hitch, and since the parks are designed for kids, as soon as we got them through the gates we chaperones were off duty.  Only thing we were supposed to do, but not required, was to show up for the dances for a show of support, which we wanted to do anyhow. 

The last day we left for the airport giving enough time to stop by the ocean for an hour or so.  It was quite relaxing, after the hustle and bustle of the amusement parks, to just sit there on the beach and watch the kids running around.  Perfect end to the trip, because I can’t even remember the rest so there couldn’t have been much going on .

Friday, January 14, 2011

From far to home.

“Far from home” is a relative thing, depending on where you define home.  And as time passes, and “Home” changes, so does what we think of as far from it.

I was 14 when we moved from Lexington, Mass. to Salt Lake City.  Not only did I see myself as moving 2/3 of the way across the country, I thought I was moving out to the wild west.  It was 1974, I’d grown up on The Brady Bunch and John Wayne movies, so I won’t fault myself for really believing I was going to live on a ranch and ride my horse to school every day.  Nope, no such luck.  It was a city.  Very small city by my east coast eyes, but still my school had no hitchin’ posts, the sidewalks were concrete instead of wood and there were buildings more than 2 stories tall.

When I first saw this house, it seemed like the furthest thing from home.  All our furniture and worldly belongings were lost somewhere in the mid-west so the moving company put us up in a hotel.  For about two months “home” was an empty shell we were painting and re-flooring, the breakfast table was at Marie Callender’s restaurant and dinner was whatever fast food place struck our fancy that night. But, despite still considering myself (partly) a Bostonian, it did become home and even though I was no longer living there when it was sold, it was hard to see it go.