Give It Gas! Give it Gas!

My very first car had manual transmission and I didn’t know how to drive it. With only seven miles on the odometer, my friend Kim (Botsford then, Dupont now) drove my pretty, blue Toyota Tercel off the lot. She drove the car home and patiently taught me how to drive “stick-shift.” I had to be at work at 8:00am so I had all night to learn.

Why did I buy I car I didn’t know how to drive? I’ll have to take you back to 1976. If you weren’t alive back then, consider this a history lesson. My family was living in South Africa. It was my Dad’s birthday and we were planning to celebrate with pizza and a movie. The movie was Hennessy with Rod Stieger & Lee Remick. My brother, Doug, was too young to get in to the movie, so we made him wear my sisters clogs so he appeared taller, and therefore, older. The plan was to be as unnoticeable as possible.

At the time, my Dad was driving a Citroen – a sweet car that balanced itself if one of the tires went flat. It also did this strange air-like settling thing whenever it came to a complete stop. The emergency brake was tucked in to the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel. And…it had a manual transmission.

So we eat our celebratory pizza, find our way to the theater, and make it to our seats without anyone giving us grief about Doug’s age. About 30 minutes in to the movie, my Dad passes out and we can’t revive him. We panic, someone yells for a doctor, the lights come on, the movie stops, and a doctor jumps over the chairs to do CPR. Needless to say, we were noticed. My Dad was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and the four of us stood in the parking lot and watched it drive away. Three of us knew how to drive – none of us knew how to drive stick. That sweet, little Citroen sat in the parking lot. In the taxi ride to the hospital I promised myself I’d learn how.

This afternoon my nephew, Mac, and I circled an empty parking lot until he “got it.” Before him was his sister Amanda, their cousin Nathan, their friends Whitney and Afton, a few people I can’t seem to remember, and my first student…my brother Doug. The trick in teaching someone to drive stick-shift is to remain calm…no matter how many times they pop the clutch and give you whiplash. It’s not helpful to yell, “Give it gas! Give it gas!” Remember to turn corners – it seems to be the first place where the brain freezes and they realize there are 3 pedals and pressing them incorrectly makes the car due frightening things. You may have to demonstrate the “concept” several times and teach them to listen to the sound of the car. It’s good to say, “Everybody does this. You’re not the first person to stall a car.” You may have to say that several times in many different ways. And when they’re ready…encourage them to leave the parking lot. Yes…they have to stop when the light is red or the sign says STOP. And “riding the clutch” is a technique that must be unlearned as soon as possible.

Thank you, Kim. You were a fantastic teacher and a wonderful friend.

Girls & Their Toys

shutterstock_62164For the last five years, I’ve had a good relationship with my Conair hair dryer. My previous dryer, also a Conair, lasted almost twelve years – I loved that old thing and was sad to see it go.

Just the other day I noticed an odd sound coming from it. Listen, when you’ve used an appliance for five years you get to know the sound of it. First it was a soft hum. It slowly progressed to a whiney buzz, followed by a clunking noise. And finally, the darn thing shook so badly I couldn’t hold on to it with one hand. I could tell a part had come loose, but my hair was really wet and, well, I haven’t left the house with wet hair since I was fourteen years old. So I held it as far away from my face as possible, for fear that a piece would fly out and stick in my eye, and managed to get most of my hair dry. My hands and arms were tired from fighting with it. Hey…a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Last night I bought a new hair dryer. I stood in the aisle for fifteen minutes asking myself, “If they make the darn things to fall apart after a couple of years, shouldn’t you just by a cheap one?” Hello, it’s my crown. So I opted for a Conair –  known for hair appliances – and tossed my $23.50 on the counter. Actually, it was a debit card, but I digress.

So I get the thing home and inspect it. Oh My! It has eight more setting than my last dryer and two extra buttons. WeeeeHoooo! And it’s metallic red.

This morning, it took me twelve – that’s 12 – minutes to dry my hair. With my old dryer (may it rest in peace) it took me 37 minutes. I’m not kidding. Now, I’ve got my eye on the vacuum. Maybe it’s time for a new one. I’m just saying.

Happy Birthday, Nathan!

He’s my second oldest nephew and one of my favorite people. It seems that just yesterday he was learning how to ride a bike, and today, he’s married to a beautiful woman and he’s a dad.

I’m thankful for Nathan. He makes me smile. Just thinking about him makes me happy.

Today, after I sang happy birthday over the phone, I assured him that no matter the miles that keep us apart or the time that passes between hugs, I love him dearly and want the best for him.

Happy Birthday, Nathan!
I love you. AL

2,300 Pennies For Your Thoughts

Today I mailed off my $23.00 to the State of Idaho.

I don’t mind paying for things I use, things I value. I’ll pay $23.00 for a bottle of wine, DirecTv, police services, a leg of lamb, my car, a cookbook, fire fighters, cell phone usage, electricity, my mortgage, lunch with Gabe, water, and a few more things. If I can’t see where my money is going I’m hesitant to let go of it.

Here’s an idea. How about you let me choose where my taxes go? I don’t want to subsidize ash trays on submarines or an anti-drug program for the National Guard. I want the option to “Just Say No!”

And does anybody check that box on the tax form to donate $1.00 $3.00 to a presidential campaign? Who? How do I find out how much they make from that little box?

I stapled a money order to the state forms and mailed those pesky things off. The lady at the post office asked me why I only used one staple. She said, “if it was me, I’d put seven staples in it.” The thing is, I’m smart enough to know that irritating the tax person is an incredibly foolish thing to do. I sure wish I knew how that $23.00 was going to be used.

Women & Higher Education

Over at The Line, the Boundless Webzine, Ted Slater started a discussion about women and higher education.

In the first post, Gender Imbalance in Higher Education, Mr Slater says this about the fact that 58% percent of the U.S. undergrads are women:

Call me a sexist, but my first reaction is to find that disappointing. Call me a sexist, but I believe that in most cases the husband should be the primary income-earner in the family, and that the wife should be free to stay at home with the kids. It follows, logically I think, that more men should be preparing for these income-earning careers by going to college. And that women should be careful not to bring on exorbitant school loan debt that may prohibit them from being able to carry out their dreams to be stay-at-home moms.

In the second post, Wives: Homemakers? Husbands: Breadwinners? Jennie posted a comment and Mr Slater turned it in to a post. I get where Jennie’s coming from, and I believe her ideas are good, but they need to go further. Here’s a bit of what Jennie says:

Obviously Ted’s not advocating that women don’t get educated. He’s just suggesting that we women make informed decisions with a biblical perspective on the long-term that won’t force us to compromise our biblical responsibilities, and that men take their responsibility as providers seriously.

I have no desire to call Ted a sexist. I do, however; want to know if he understands God’s covenant promise to His people and the importance of a Godly education? And when Jennie talks about compromising our biblical responsibilities, does she understand how an uneducated Mom could do just that? And when did higher education become nothing more than a paycheck? Scripture says:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates. (Deut.6:4-9)

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deut.7:9)

Obviously, none of us know what the Lord has planned for us. Will you be married? Will you have children? It’s wonderful to “hope” for marriage and children, but the reality is that it doesn’t happen for everyone, and it may not happen according to your timing. Therefore, you’ll need a plan. And if it does happen, be prepared – whether man or woman – to teach the standards of God to your children. Isn’t that your biblical responsibility?

If Mom is the primary caregiver, then it stands to reason she’ll be doing a lot of talking and walking with the children – a lot of teaching. The money she spends on a good education will help to ensure the children know God’s standards, and how those standards apply to: science, literature, math, history, logic, grammar, and more. She’s a teacher. And last time I checked teaching credentials aren’t free.

When I look at the woman in Proverbs 31, I see a very well educated person. She knows real estate, cooking, accounting, sales, teaching, fashion design, farming, distribution, and much more. Her husband has full confidence in her abilities. She lacks nothing of value. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

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