My First Car

Inspiration: Ragtag Daily Prompt – Memory

 

My First Car
(A slant six engine will last forever!)

 

Fresh out of college in 1976, I was hot on a search for the perfect car.
My first car.

The budget: under $4000.

The dream: a shiny, new, reliable, 4-door ORANGE set of wheels (this was the ‘70s after all). It needed to hold all my stuff; which remarkably – back then – fit completely inside a car.

I found just what I wanted at a Plymouth dealership in Nanuet, NY one blistering June day.

A bright orange Volaré complete with its famous slant six engine, real vinyl seats and AM/FM radio. It practically had my name on it. And it was under budget.

Sold!

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I signed up for a “how to take care of your car” class. I learned how to change the air filter, spark plugs and fuses. I waxed it until it practically glowed, even in the dark. It was easy to locate in a parking lot.

My Volaré lasted 12 years and over 106,000 miles. It took me to my first hospital job. From the church to my wedding reception. To Chicago for my college roommate’s wedding. Home from the hospital with my newborn daughter safely secured in her first car seat.

I even won a free sunroof in a radio contest in 1986.

In 1988 it was time for a new car. The evils of rust were starting to win the battle. After I negotiated a fair price on a Corsica at the local Chevy dealership, the salesman mentioned that I could probably get $400 wholesale for my Volaré. He also mentioned the slant six engine.

Good idea!

The next day I returned to the dealership. Late afternoon, around 4pm. My son and 6 year old daughter came with me. She waited patiently in the showroom with a book. My 6-month-old son, balanced on my left hip, accompanied me to the car lot to meet with the salesman…

Who no longer thought $400 was fair.

He called for the sales manager to join us.

Sales Mgr: I’ll give you $100 towards the new car.

Me: It has a slant six engine. Those last forever! Please take it for a drive! I was told it’s worth $400.

The manager drove it around the lot.

Mgr: Okay, $200. Look at the mileage!

Me: Maybe I don’t need a new car after all. This one runs great. It even has a sunroof.

Manager walked around it again. Salesman stood behind him.
Mgr: Alright…$300

At this point my son was getting more and more squirmy. He looked straight at the manager. And blew really loud raspberries.

Me: See! We both know this is a great car!

The salesman and manager went inside to talk to The Senior Manager. They both came out and walked around the car again. Went back inside the showroom. My son and I followed.

The sales manager finally returned…to where I waited with 2 hungry and cranky children. He shook his head, looked at me…okay $400.

Me: You’ve got yourself a deal!

As I was signing the paperwork, I heard a voice call my name. It was the Senior Manager sitting behind his big elevated-on-a-riser desk. In the middle of the showroom.  I looked in his direction…as he continued…

“Hey! Anytime you need a job, just call.”

Bread

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt

Bread…the often maligned staff of life. A slice of evil carbs. The heaven-sent envelope for melted cheese.

I didn’t give it much thought on a personal level until 10 years ago. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease. And reluctantly began my adventures into the murky depths of the gluten-free diet.

Full disclosure: I worked my entire professional life as a registered dietitian, so I knew what celiac disease was. And what a gluten-free diet was.  My least favorite diet to teach someone about. Challenging to say the least.

It was not without great irony, that I embarked upon this new personal life chapter.

Returning to the subject of bread…

“Back in the day” as we baby boomers say, gluten-free (GF) bread was akin to extra thick cardboard…at best. Available only by mail order. Or at a lonely booth at the annual dietetics convention. Samples piled high as dietitians rushed past the company table. Towards the latest low fat potato chips on display further down the crowded aisle.

GF bread was oh so very dry. Like chewing on a rug pad. Sandy when crumbled. Taste? A junior high science experiment gone wrong.

When I was diagnosed in 2009, a hopeful light had started to appear at the end of the gluten-free diet tunnel. A few companies were starting to manufacture decent gluten-free mixes, cookies, cakes…and some breads. The marketing strategy was not so much aimed at those of us with celiac disease (we are only 1% of the US population), but for those with gluten intolerance as well.

However, the real economic driver for the cascade of GF foods on the grocery store shelves? The tidal wave of consumers who believe a gluten-free diet is a healthier diet overall (it isn’t, don’t get me started…).

All the attention is fine with me though. I benefit from more choices that actually taste…almost as good…as their “real” counterparts.

I tried making GF bread from a mix the old fashioned way. Letting it rise and all of that. There were a number of disasters until I found a mix that turned out okay…

gf bread 2011

…but the texture? meh… Taste? better than a GF loaf off the shelf. Still way too much work.

In 2011 my 2 adult children took pity on me and gifted me a bread machine at Christmas. Along with several bags of GF bread mix.

“It’s easy Mom. Just put it all in the machine and push the gluten free setting button!”
They were well acquainted with my aversion for recipes with more than 6 ingredients and a few steps.

They were right. It was easy. The bread tasted even better. And did I say it was easy?

The magic bread mix plus bread machine did equal a quality loaf of gluten-free bread. Not quite like the old days of hearty wheat and bran bread, but a definite improvement…

GF bread 2012

No more cardboard bread. The taste and texture acceptable. But still not…well…normal.

gf bread cutJPG

However…since I pride myself on reading directions – no matter what they are for – I also studied the recipe book that came with the bread machine.

I found a gluten-free bread recipe listing:

5  different flours plus
9 other ingredients
and 15 steps…

…I thought maybe I could make an even better GF bread. Worth the time to assemble. With so…many…ingredients. And the bread machine…

My curiosity got the better of me. As often happens.

I tweaked the recipe with:

1. What I had learned since my diagnosis (which includes: forget all you ever knew about baking bread)
2. Old Food Science class info nuggets pried from my memory bank circa 1976 (science is science after all).
3. Let’s try somehow to increase the fiber so eating white bread doesn’t feel so wrong.

It worked.
Excellent tasting gluten-free bread.

Which I know I have a photo of somewhere.
And when I find it, I will add it to this post!

One thing for sure: samples would go fast at the convention….

Egg

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt

A timely prompt…egg…as it is almost Easter.

In our house, while raising our children, coloring hard boiled eggs was an Easter tradition.

As it was when I was growing up…

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At the kitchen table.
The smell of vinegar in the air.

Easter as a child: the anticipation…first the eggs. Then the wait for Easter morning and the hunt for hidden baskets. Chocolate bunnies! Jelly beans! Marshmallow Peeps!

The same wire holders. Newspapers spread out to catch the inevitable drips.

Tiny color pellets – one for each custard cup (in my childhood) – teacup (for my kids). Dissolving into what seemed like magical colors. Dip the egg in quick or let it soak. Or maybe dip in halfway. Turn it over and try a different color for the other half. This took practice.

Mastering the balancing act…without dropping the egg on the floor…an Easter rite of passage…

My daughter and son…each at 3 years old…experts!

 

easter eggs1992
Ages 10 and 4 – Go Team!

 

Last year around this time, I wrote a post about Easter.
I described my favorite book from childhood…featuring Easter eggs and the Easter bunny…who overslept.
The sweetest story…
And the illustrations…sigh.
Well worth mentioning again.
If you want to check it out…Almost Easter 2018

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge – Color of Your Choice

Cee’s Challenge topic this week is Color of your Choice

This time of year I am more than ready for bright colors…
Reddish orange
Bright blue
With just a touch of black and white…

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“Origins”  by Mark di Suvero

 

This majestic sculpture, created by Mark di Suvero, greets visitors at the entrance to the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH.

This view – from the ground looking up – captures just a portion of its 36 foot height…

On a perfect summer day.

 

RDP – COLOR

Love and Hearts and Grandparents

If we have someone who loves us — I don’t mean who indulges us, but who loves us enough to be on our side — then it’s easier to grow resilience, to grow belief in self, to grow self-esteem. And it’s self-esteem that allows a person to stand up.

Maya Angelou

 

 

from Grammy 1966

 

valentine's card 1967038
from Great Grandma 1967

 

I have much to be grateful for in my life. The love of family is at the top of the list. As a child…and then as an adult…I was well loved by my grandparents. Held up. Cherished. Accepted.

All four of my grandparents – and my one living great grandparent – took the time to write to me. Personal letters. Postcards. Valentines. Birthday cards….
I heard from them on a regular basis…knowing I was important in their lives. And not forgotten, even though we lived miles apart.

Treasured pages of handwritten news, stories, questions about my life and plans for the future….
Offering encouragement and understanding
And unconditional love.

 

Photo a day challenge – Hearts

RDP – Intimate

 

Pass That Note

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Note

 

I saw a note that Gail wrote
& it says she hates me…

I don’t know if you’re mad at Gail but I am…

 

Notes.
When did I first run headlong into notes?
At that awkward will-I-fit-in-say-the-right-thing-avoid-exclusion-at-all-cost stage that characterized my middle school years in the 1960’s.

When successfully passing notes was a prized achievement. A right of passage. If you didn’t get caught.

Notes directed the intense undercurrent of a girl’s ever shifting social hierarchy. They could make or break your day at school.

Scrawled on lined notebook paper. Ripped out of 3-ring binders. Torn into halves. Or quarters. Hastily folded as small as possible. Then..slipped to a friend. Or potential friend. Or some kid sitting at a desk on the way to the note’s intended recipient.

With one eye on the teacher, who with chalk in hand might not turn towards the blackboard as quickly as you think. Who might snatch the wrinkled piece of paper. Which held the potential key to your social future. And then, horror of horrors, read it out loud. So everyone would hear…

Are you mad at me?
Write down yes or no.
Check next to these names…
Do you like them or not?

Or worse, if the note was for you…
From the girlfriends you just had a sleepover with…

We have decided that you are not our type.
Please don’t hang around with us that much. 
You can if you want….Every time
we look at you you are reading. I know you
like to but not every second. Don’t hang around
that much anymore.

 

Elaborate codes were devised. note029
I’ve always wondered…why? Why did girls jostle for position in such cut throat ways? Which is probably why I saved a few notes for 50 years. Thinking I’d figure it out. I have not. I still have no clue.

Except I am grateful there was no Facebook when I was struggling to fit in. No Instagram. No social media.
Notes would have followed me everywhere.
Day and night.
I can’t imagine.

Notes on wrinkled paper were thrown away. Or stuffed in a drawer.
Only public for an agonizing minute if the teacher recited them in front of snickering classmates.

Then the bell would ring.
And out the door I’d go.

swing

 

 

Collection

This post inspired by Ragtag Daily Prompt: Collection

Even though I was a saver, I was not a big collector of stuff when I was a child. I imagine I was far too practical for that. One more thing to find a place for. And my logic may have been…why?

Except for my trolls. When I was 9 or 10, I was given a small rubber troll with bright orange hair. I don’t remember who gave it to me. I was intrigued by its simplicity and ease of transport. Its lack of pretense. Friendly face. Easily styled hair.

And troll (as I simply called it) was supposed to bring me luck. I really liked that part.

Over the next few years, my collection grew. By saving my allowance or from birthday gifts…until I had a semblance of a troll family.

They came without clothing, so my rudimentary attempts at making outfits was confined to cutting up rags and scraps of fabric samples. Using the basting stitch I must have learned in Scouts, I fastened together my idea of troll fashion. And borrowed clothes from the heap of dolls I didn’t play with.

I recently found this vintage(!) collection stashed away in a shoe box. Along with an old Gimbels jewelry box full of accessories I can’t identify anymore.

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Troll Patrol

(this photo taken on the cobbler’s bench from my childhood…which my trolls most likely recognized)