Only for Maria

I’ve seen this book meme floating around and I’ve been trying to avoid doing it, but since Marie of Alembic passed it on to me I’ll have to go ahead and spend some time figuring it out.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?

I’m assuming this means which book do we want to memorize in order to preserve it after all the books are burned. It would have to be a very, very short book since I’m awful at memorizing anything. Still, if I were capable of it, I think I’d choose Yeats’ Complete Poems.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?

No, no, and still no. Wouldn’t that be like falling in love with yourself?

I really admire Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird, but I wouldn’t call it a “crush” by any stretch of the imagination.

The last book you bought is?

I bought three the last time I was at Barnes and Noble: Photoshop Masking & Compositing by Katrin Eismann, The Art of Photoshop by Daniel Giordin, and Selected Poems by John Ashberrry. I usually buy books in multiples, one reason I try to avoid bookstores when shopping.

What are you currently reading?

Normally I only read ONE book at a time, but right now I happen to be reading two books: Photoshop Masking and Compositing and Paul Hoover’s Norton Anthology, Postmodern American Poetry.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

I agree with Marie that I’d want a survival manual, specifically, US Army Survival Manual: FM 21-76. Again, like Marie I’d take a book of fairy tales, probably Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It becomes a little harder after that. If I’m going to become Yeats’ Complete Poems, I’d have to take that. I don’t think I could do without Roethke’s Complete Poems, either. I guess my final choice would be Louis Untermeyer’s Modern American Poetry, because there’s a lot in there I haven’t re-read for quite awhile, and I very seldom re-read any book, unless it’s a how-to book.

Quite a few of the sites I read regularly have already done this, but I’d love to know what Shelley, Jonathon, and Andru’s favorite books are .

Four-Wheelin’ Fun

I forgot how much fun I had with my Mitsubishi Montero despite its relatively high cost. I bought it to replace the Datsun pickup that was too small for the three of us. Although I bought a salesman’s demonstrator at the end of the year, it was still probably the most expensive car I’ve ever owned, and not even a particularly well-built one, either, as I had to replace a warped head gasket, a transmission in the years I owned it.

Despite that, looking back I would have to say that it turned out to be a bargain. The kids had wanted to cross-country ski, but after one experience driving a Datsun pickup in the snow, I vowed never to do that again. The Montero opened up many delightful years of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, all possible without ever having to get out and put on chains. I skied extensively in the ten years I owned it, making trips up and down the West Coast to cross-country ski.

In the summer tt was the perfect vehicle to drive to the beach one day and to the Cascade Mountains the next day. Although I avoided off-roading as a matter of principle, I did negotiate some old logging roads I would never have attempted with anything other than a 4-wheel drive with plenty of ground clearance. It went anywhere I wanted to go with relative ease.

It was equally comfortable on the highway and the perfect vehicle to explore the full length of the Columbia Gorge, more than adequate on the open-road, but instantly ready for rough side roads.

It also beautifully handled two trips to Alaska, one with my teenage son and, later, one with Leslie. On our trip, my son and I managed to sink it up to the skidplate while driving the Alaskan back country. Fifty miles from nowhere, we spent the better part of a day jacking up one wheel, placing rocks and small branches under, jacking up another wheel, etcetera, until finally we managed to back out. Seen from a distance, even that harrowing event takes on a rather Romantic tone.

I tend to emphasize those things that I enjoy doing that are free or that actually save money, but I also need to remember that expensive things can sometimes enrich our lives, too, more than justifying what we paid for them.

I finally sold the ten-year-old Montero after the carburetor caught fire on the freeway near Redding while driving home home from my father-in-law’s funeral. Stranded for two days and likely several more days waiting for repairs, I decided I’d had enough and traded it on a new vehicle, the one I own today. At first, despite some questionable repairs, I was going to buy another Montero until I saw the over-sized behemoth that Mitsubishi had replaced it with, one that bore little relationship to the car I had fallen in love with in the last ten years.

The Long Haul

I misspoke the other day when I wrote I never bought another yellow car after my first Mustang. As my daughter reminded me, I actually bought a bright, Mustang-yellow Datsun pickup after the Dodge Dart finally died.

Perhaps the Dart inspired me to buy an equally practical Datsun. It was as Plain Jane as I could buy, its only accessory a radio. No four-wheel drive, no V-8, just a slightly underpowered pickup that did anything you asked it to do. I would probably still be driving this truck today if I hadn’t divorced and the kids had complained bitterly about jamming three of us into the only seat.

By the time I bought the pickup, I had gone through an unexpected metamorphosis. I had been transformed from the youth who got his only “D” in K-12 in woodshop to an ambitious fix-it-upper who spent most of his summers working on the yard and house. I used the pickup to haul organic garden supplies and woodworking and remodeling supplies.

Strangely, after years of college and teaching, I felt a need to do something more substantial, more concrete. I actually wanted to apply some my ideas, wanted to see some real results of my actions. In other words, it wasn’t enough to teach abstract ideas to students and then see them disappear into the years, seldom to be heard from ever again. While the INTP in me still loves learning new things, more and more I’ve spent time learning how to do real things, how to grow my own food, build my own furniture, create my own art.

By this time I realized a vehicle was a tool not a status symbol, and you judged a tool by how well it performed its function, not merely by how it looked, how expensive it was, or how much other people admired it.

You Got To Cross That Line

Talk about your speed bump!

Going from a fire-engine-red, ’68 Mustang 2×2 to a blue, 4-door ’65 Dodge Dart was traumatic, almost as traumatic as merging with freeway traffic from a dead start while driving a slant-6.

I wonder what happened to the guy who drove that Mustang?

He didn’t show up even after the divorce. Guess, he wouldn’t cross that line and got left behind.

Sometimes I think I glimpse him in the rearview mirror.