Killing Time

While I was filling the van with gas, Sue was discovering a new feature of Garmin®.  It wasn’t that we needed directions.  I know how to get home from Toledo.  She was just killing time.

The new feature she found was being able to have 3 routes on the screen at the same time.  Very useful in certain situations.  Turns out, she thought it was applicable to our situation as we were not in any particular hurry to get home.  We had time to spare so why not take the “Scenic Route”.

“Sure, let’s do it.” I agreed, and we began by turning opposite of the expressway entrance.

I’m not exactly sure when it was that Sue mentioned this route will take 2 hours longer than the typical route we follow up US23.  Nevertheless, it became very obvious after I hit the brakes for the 4th red light in 8 blocks.  I didn’t keep count, but I believe the first 5.6 before-the-next-turn miles of the scenic, time consuming (AKA, time killing) travel we had one green light.

The turn command from Garmin was “Now, turn right” followed almost immediately by “Now, turn left.”  I was not ready for the second command, so that inspired “Recalculating” by Garmin.  As I instinctively entered the nearest driveway to turn around, I hear something like, “Continue one mile to Main Street.”  This being totally unfamiliar territory, I opted to go back to the turn I missed rather than take the recalculated alternate route.

Back on the predefined route, the voice alerted me to a right turn in 1000 feet.  I was ready for this one.  Almost immediately after the “Now, turn right” came the next command.  No, it was not several miles down the road.  It was in ONE BLOCK…Yes, BLOCK as in residential. The voice from my dashboard ordered a left turn.  Then, in couple blocks — now, turn right…then left, which was obvious necessary as going straight was a gravel driveway.

Let me just go on record here.  Zig-zagging through post war housing is not my idea of scenic, nor Sue’s vision of killing time.

The  “Now, turn right” out of the not so elegant neighborhood brought about a mile of straight 35 mile per hour travel to a dead end at Main Street.  Seriously?  Would that be the same Main Street I would have been on if I had not made the U-turn to go back for a historic tour of select residences of Holland, Ohio?

I was so befuddled over that Garmin maneuvering that I almost missed the voice telling me “Now, turn…”  Sue’s voice was very clear.  “You’re going to miss the turn, Ed.”  In nearly simultaneous moves, I checked my mirror — quickly braked from still accelerating after the last turn and accomplished a slick power slide onto Memorial Highway.

Whew.  We were quickly appraised that this leg of the journey was 6.2 miles.  The longest stretch yet.  Things were finally looking up as the next turn was predicted as US223.

Finally a U.S. highway. Not divided, but very smoothly paved, yellow center line and white shoulder markings.  Garmin interrupted my bliss.  “In two-tenths of a mile, turn right.”  What!?! US223 for only .2 miles?  Worse yet — immediately after the turn off of the highway onto a one and one-half lane asphalt road was a sign warning of “No Shoulder”.  If there ever was a white line marking the side of the road, it would have most certainly fell into the ditch at the sign alerting us that the road was narrowing.

Although Sue was hysterically laughing at this developing story, I was encouraged to hear Garmin announce we would turn again in two-tenths of a mile.

My encouragement was very short lived. Sue’s laughter escalated as we turned from asphalt onto a gravel road.  No, I did not miss any turns.  No, we are not on a detour.  And NO, I am not making this up.  Believe it or not, the screen detailed we would be on this gravel for…at that time…the second longest leg of our journey home.  THREE MILES of potholes, ruts and bouncing stones.  Oh, wait, there was this very new concrete bridge over a waterway.  Finally, something scenic.

Our minds were overwhelmed with the expectation of seeing something more scenic than farm land, orchards and pumpkins that no one wanted for Halloween.  I slowed as we approached the bridge.  I peered out my window as Sue did the same on her side of the car.  Of course I could not gaze very long, but saw nothing but brush.  Ah, but Sue found the reason for the bridge.  She announced the waterway was all of a foot wide.  No doubt the recent heavy rainfall made it visible at all.

Onward.  We passed a house with a couple folks in the yard.  I wondered if he was saying; “Look, Dear!  That van is following the scenic route.”    About half way to the next turn we came to a stop sign.  For what?  In the last 2 miles I had not seen a vehicle which wasn’t parked in a driveway or abandoned in a field.

Despite the fact that all that we passed in the first 2 hours of our scenic byway was hardly picturesque, it was none-the-less enjoyable.  We laughed uproariously as each of us mocked observances on this adventure of killing time.

Friday Frivolity: Custom Costumes

Journey back with me to October 2005…preparing custom costumes for Halloween:

What’s happened to Halloween?  When I was a kid we made costumes from whatever was around the house.  Oh, there may have been a few “costumes” available for purchase, but mostly kids either painted their faces or put on one of those silly stiff masks.  You know, the ones that you couldn’t keep both eye holes lined up at the same time and the mouth hole got soggy.  Now they’ve got stores that are only open in October.  You can be almost anyone or anything you want, depending on how much you want to spend.

Spend?  Even with my kids I never spent much.  A buck or two maybe for “makeup”, but buy a costume?  NOT.  Once I painted some dots on an old T-shirt of mine, stuffed it with a pillow, and drew an exaggerated white smile on Sheila’s face.  Cost?…Maybe a quarter for the smile.

As for my “older” Dawn, her “maturity” required more sophisticated costuming.  I stuck her in a box, painted her face and told her she was a Jack-in-the-Box…go!   What would you expect from a guy who, more often than not, was a hobo for trick or treat.

Anyway, about the same era that I’m master-crafting oversized clown shoes for Sheila and enhancing Dawn’s borrowed hospital volunteer’s uniform from her grandma, Sue [then a great friend…now my wife] is creating masterpieces for Chris and Kim.  They got costumes made out of cloth and fur, not cardboard.

But, hey, Sue can sew.  My skill level is duct tape, paint and a box-cutter.  Sheila got cardboard butterfly wings.  Kim got a fluffy, loveable leopard, …with whiskers, no less.  And Chris gets adorned in fringed suede skirt & vest as an Indian maiden…complete with custom, Finnie Tribal pattern, beadwork, headband.  Dawn had to settle for being a box of cereal.  KIX, I think.

Now, along come the grandkids.  I told Chelsea I’d paint some chartreuse spots on a pair of dark green tights and she could go as a frog.  Plus, I’d even make some flipper feet for her …out of cardboard of course.  “NO!” came her adamant retort  “I want to be a gypsy.  Grandma’s going to make it for me–thank you very much.”  (hmmm, did I detect an air of snootiness in her voice).

Oh, and Amara wanted to be a butterfly,  ……no, no, no, I think I want to be Tinkerbell.  …or maybe I’ll be the tooth fairy.  …no, I want to be an animal.  Great, the offer is still open for Frog.

“No, Ed, she’s not going to be a frog.” (more snootiness, from Sue this time).  “We’re going to get patterns and material at Wal-Mart.”

Sue was sewing for a week.  Well, she wasn’t exactly sewing all the time.  No less than 10 more trips to stores for materials…3 just to get the right grommets for me to install so Chelsea can lace up a corset.  What the heck does a thirteen year old need a corset for.  Ohhhh, I should have known.  Gypsy’s wore corsets.  Excuuuuuse me!  (my turn for snooty).

Whew, I’m sure glad Amara was willing to settle for a store bought, ready made, tooth fairy costume.  A hundred costumes in the rack priced around ten bucks and I gotta pick out Barbie Fairytopia Dahlia.

I guess you know that such a prestige logo is license to gouge.  However, once Amara got it in her clutches and “really, really liked it”, there was no putting it back.

For this costume there was no need for sewing, no grommets, not even any cardboard for me to cut.  Ahhh, but what’s a tooth fairy without a magic tooth wand.  I think she saw it advertised on TV.  So, I carved a 10 inch molar out of Styrofoam.  Gee, that stuff makes a heck of a mess when you saw on it.  Then Sue sprayed it with glue and tossed on some glitter.

Does anyone know how to get glued glitter off my workbench.

I’m tellin’ ya, these kids better share some of their candy.

Oct 20, Frivolity

Last Night, a drama we were watching on TV had a Maine Coon Cat that was accused of feasting on a rabbit.  Considering a Coon Cat is the largest of the domesticated felines, this is not without merit.

Those scenes reminded me of an event I worked for the MSU Veterinarian Medical School.  Mostly, I’ve been working with the colleges of human medicine, so this was really a new experience to be a Standardized Patient for Vet Med.  Though some would not be surprised if I were to portray the upright dog, Goofy, I was not the “vet”patient.  My Maine Coon Cat was.

Nope, I really don’t have a Coon Cat.  Actually, I don’t own a cat of any breed.  Nor did MSU provide me with a “patient” to take to the student vet in training.  When I signed up for this event, I was told that the University often provides the pet.  Such was not the case.  What a relief to hear they didn’t even have a Maine Coon Kitty.

I understand that cats can sense if you don’t like them.  Trust me, I would not want a 30 pound cat getting the wrong vibes from me.  Yeah, I said 30 pounds.  I’ve got grandkids who don’t weigh that much, but it’s quite normal for this breed.  Okay, so my imaginary cat, Taz, might be a pound or two overweight, but that’s not why I’m taking him to the Vet.  He’s diabetic.

Now, my SP briefing instructions are that I’m to portray an owner who is hesitant to give his cat the required Insulin shots.  One prospective Vet jumped straight from diagnosis to treatment.  “Taz has Type II Diabetes and you’ll need to give him a Insulin.”

“That’s a pill, right?”

“No sir, that would be a shot.”

“You’re kidding, right?   You give Taz the shot?”

“It’s not just one shot, sir.  You must give it to him every day.”

“So, I’ll bring him in every day.”

A second student countered my initial hesitation with; “Most cats don’t mind the shot at all.”

“You’ve seen my cat, haven’t you?  Just his physical stature would alert you he’s not like most cats.”

“But sir, he does seem to have a rather docile nature.”

“Docile?  It’s not happenstance that we call him Taz   It’s short for Tasmanian Devil”

Another student tried to ease my anxiety; “It’s a very tiny needle.  All you need to do is get some skin from the scruff of his neck…”

“Ah, excuse me, I might be able to surprise Taz the first time.  After that, when he sees that needle, he’ll be on the scruff of my neck.”

One future Vet actually sympathized with my plight; “I know this is not something you are looking forward to doing, but I’m also sure you understand that giving these shots is in Taz’s best interest.”

“Oh, I understand, alright.  Tell ya what, I’ll give you a half hour.  You go see if you can get Taz to understand.”

I assure you, in each case, the student chuckled from my responses…and relaxed.  Which is one of the greatest challenges of an SP.  Play the role, but don’t distress the student.  I guess I do that best as an upright dog.

One future Vet actually sympathized with my plight; “I know this is not something you are looking forward to doing, but I’m also sure you understand that giving these shots is in Taz’s best interest.”

“Oh, I understand, alright.  Tell ya what, I’ll give you a half hour.  You go see if you can get Taz to understand.”

I assure you, in each case, the student chuckled from my responses…and relaxed.  Which is one of the greatest challenges of an SP.  Play the role, but don’t distress the student.  I guess I do that best as an upright dog.