Breaking life’s gifts down to fit a well-known expression.

What I look at day-in, day-out; memory from driving tail of the dragon

It is time to pause for a moment and step back from my daily routine. For more than a decade I have been writing posts, articles and commentaries for some really good clients. As I prepare to write I am always looking out for something to anchor a story line as it is important to grab a reader’s attention quickly. This time, the impetus for this story line came from an unexpected source and it was a reminder of just how readily life’s little adventures can be broken down to fit into a finite set of categories. Call it the unfair advantage if you like as having an ear for something different and perhaps a little off-track has been a part of my daily routine for all of this past decade.

Watching a popular television series, it was in preparation for a wedding where once again we were reminded of the old adage – something old, something new; something borrowed something blue. While it is about the inclusion of items belonging to family members, it is also professing optimism about the future. The items can come in all shapes and sizes – arriving at the venue for the union in a blue car is more than appropriate for some participants whereas for others, it’s wearing a celebratory new piece of clothing or even items of jewelry purchased new for the occasion.

It may seem an odd way to introduce a posting on unusual occurrences than happened to Margo and me over the past couple of weeks, but this old saying resonated with both of us this week. Nothing to do with any exchanging of vows mind you, but rather we did experience something we easily associated with each object identified in this simple verse that I am sure we can all recite by heart. And it struck us how much of life can be broken down into these simple categories even as some may stretch the meaning just a tad. So, what contributed to us both thinking along these lines?

Something old? 

Boulder’s empty Greenbriar Inn

When it comes to something old our thoughts drift back to this global pandemic. Seriously, just watching the constant barrage of news updates is getting old. We hit the road once again and saw little evidence of communities doing anything other than going about business as usual. However, once again, we did experience difficulties trying to come to terms with which fast food chains were allowing in-store dining and which were only supporting drive through. McDonalds was one example where one outlet said that they weren’t allowed to let guests inside when in the same state, only a hundred or so miles down the interstate, the McDonalds was wide open.

We can only put this down to a continuation of staff shortages. This was evident even in the cities where normalcy was struggling to make a return. Margo and I have both received the two shots with no side effects other than a day with a sore arm. However having said that, on our return from the west coast, I developed a couple of symptoms that might be considered COVID-19 related and once again, I was tested. Fortunately, results were negative; I had caught the common cold.

What might be considered as old is getting back into your car and hitting the highways. However, with our most recent trip to Las Vegas for our first in-person convention, it seemed new. Let me tell you all that we have never seen the highways busier as it appears the isolation many have experienced over the past year has been thrown aside. Vegas was very busy but even here, bars, restaurants and entertainment were significantly curtailed due to a lack of staff. Mandalay Bay Starbucks? First time we paid almost $10 for a Grande Latte (with an extra shot)! It left us with a sense of sadness when we visited restaurants we liked a lot to find we were the sole occupants.

Las Vegas full Mastros

Once again birthdays were cause to travel further and this meant another trip to Simi Valley to celebrate a birthday. As the advertisement said, “Birthdays are just a number and mine is unlisted.” So it was that we were able to share bubbly with our good friends, the Kennys, even as it meant a return to Mastro’s Thousand Oaks having already spent an evening at Mastro’s Las Vegas. Then again, being among good friends, enjoying a fine steak and a great martini never gets old. Hopefully, Margo and I still have the time to spend even more time with good friends as our personal mileage keeps on climbing. After all it was in Raiders of the Lost Ark where our hero responded, “it’s not the age but the mileage” and that sentiment remains with Margo and me to this very day. 

Something new? 

C5 Corvette in neon suspended above our Jaguar F Type

Spending as much time at home as we have done, we began to take a second look at our furnishings. A couple of items were repositioned even as some new items found their way into our home. Small items that were mostly colorful to just give the place a little lift! However, we finally admitted to ourselves that our large, very brown sofa had to go – we had bought it in a hurry when setting up our second home in Simi Valley back in the mi-2000s – but it just didn’t feel right. So a new sectional arrived and it significantly changed the look of our main floor family room.

Perhaps the brightest element we added was a new piece of neon. For some time we have had a neon sign noting how it was five o’clock somewhere, but we had always thought about adding something different. Maybe a sign pointing to the bar down-under which for an Aussie seems more than appropriate.  Surprisingly, we chose a little piece of motoring memorability. Surprised? We have a neon sign vendor set up alongside one of our major thoroughfares and driving past the display, we noticed a neon representation of the rear end of a C5 Corvette. How could we resist? Once unpacked we realized it didn’t belong downstairs in the media room but rather, in the garage!

Fashions come and go in cycles and it probably isn’t worth mentioning. For some time we have featured a non-operable turntable above our stereo components. But enough is enough so we bought ourselves a new, working turntable for all those vinyl records we still have. Well, to be honest, the records Margo has kept through the years. I had he great misfortune of giving my collection to Goodwill when I left California and yes, it was a sizable collection. Who knew that vinyl would return? Having listened to Joan Baez on vinyl proved such a delight, I might just have to return to the store and buy one or two new recordings even if I have to suffer the considerable negativity that will come from the other half of our family.

What is new can also relate to what has been renewed. For Margo and me it has been the sense that life goes on and that we do need to expect the unexpected. Margo never thought that she would be hobbling around with scrap metal implanted in her leg after the traumatic injury that befell her the week before Christmas. Even with physio and some additional very minor surgery, just being able to walk again has been a source of renewal in the way she now approaches every task. Just the thought that she may have not been able to walk again is enough to energize her and for her to renew the need to travel and for us both, this has been perhaps the best new “news” of all of 2021.   

Something borrowed? 

A shady spot that continues to be developed

It wasn’t quite with any resemblance to a sense of panic but the concerned look on my neighbor Andy’s face warned me that something was amiss. Margo and I had added a few extra trees between our neighbor’s house and our own and they were all doing very well. The intent had been to create a natural screen between the two homes as Margo’s office looked right into Andy’s office. What brought Andy around to see me was that they too had brought in a number of trees and had had their landscaper plant them where we had left space. Unfortunately for Andy, the landscaper had planted a very nice tree on our property.

“Consider it a loan,” said Andy much to the amusement of both of us. Unfortunate indeed but as these trees grow either side of the non-existent fence-line, the branches are going to spread in both directions so there isn’t any real loss of either of us. As for the shade these trees will provide, it will be a great help to both parties. But the mere thought of borrowing a tree bordered on absurdity but nevertheless, the space between our respective homes has taken on a distinct Colorado mountain feel. For that Margo and I are both very appreciative.

We often talk about borrowed time just as we think about borrowed space. There may be a table in a restaurant that is tucked away affording us privacy and with the isolation, a level of peace and quiet. There may be a familiar trail we like to walk because we know it will leave us alone in our thoughts. There are even moments where we often muse on how we need to get away from it all and find place to relax. However we look at these moments they are always borrowed. We never get to keep them and in their temporary nature, the resultant peace and quiet is always fleeting at best. We may be able to borrow a neighbor’s tree just as we may borrow time but somehow we always end up giving it back.

In this time of the global pandemic such thoughts are never far from our minds. The impact on society as a whole has been devastating even as it has been a reminder to us all that in today’s world that we all share, there will continue to be a level of unpredictability that will give us pause to think about all that we have borrowed. Do we ever pay it back? Will Margo and I be able to return the tree? Of late that seems to be less of an issue as in reality, we seem to be looking over our shoulders the whole time wondering what’s to happen next. It may not be the age but the mileage but then again, when it comes to borrowed time, it’s something we all have in common.    

Something blue? 

Who could have guessed? Our blue Infiniti EX35!

No story would be complete without a reference to cars. I am often asked about the motivation for the attention I give to cars but it’s all rather simple. Growing up in Australia as indeed Margo experienced growing up in Poland, cars were for the most part unaffordable. Living in America the automobile is a necessity and the opportunity to own cars best suited for just one purpose isn’t unusual. Throughout the history of the automobile much of the contributions to its evolution have come from the US. After almost a year of living with just three cars, we added a fourth.

If we were able to remark last year that we had gone through 2020 without buying a car only to take that all back as we ordered a Corvette that December, so it was about to happen again in 2021. Another first for us, perhaps? A year without a car? Our daughter Anna bought a nice Audi A5 Sportback that made her previous Infiniti EX35 redundant. It took a single discussion between Margo and myself that lasted perhaps only more than a minute before we called Anna and asked her if we could buy her “old car.”

As you can probably detect from the photo included above, it’s blue. A metallic kind of blue-gray. When we took possession and after having driven it for an hour or so, I was pleasantly surprised with how well Anna had looked after it and I let her know that I was pleased and indeed proud. I actually had helped her in making a decision to get that very car back in 2008 going so far as to be with her at dealerships when she was taking a number of candidate vehicles for test drives.  The Infiniti now has 169,000 miles on it so I had expected the worst but this car has delivered. A thorough detailing, a check-up from the dealer, a smog test and it now wears temporary tags that will become real next week. Welcome to the family, PYALLA2 – a tag that was last worn by our C5 Corvette a likeness of which now hang in the garage in bright neon.

For some time now Margo and I had been bothered that we don’t have a four door car with room for two additional passengers and some baggage. With this Infiniti we can pick up friends after they land their plane, leave it at the airport when we need to travel by air and simply take it to the store whenever we need a fresh head of lettuce and when it’s snowing the dickens outside – yes; it’s an all-time, all-wheel drive, cross-over that will not leave us losing sleep over an errant door hitting the side of our car. It’s old, it’s blue, it can be borrowed (of course) but it will never be new again. On the other hand, when all is said and done and we break down our daily lives and the routines we follow, the car fits so we will wear it and on that mishmash of metaphors, it’s time to chill out, relax and smell our roses. 


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