Dorothy Frey loved to drive. I'm not sure where her love for driving started, perhaps in her childhood as her dad had one of the first cars in Houston and they often took road trips. She and her sister, Millie, I think, took a road trip when they were young women and she often told the story of how their car got stuck and they got rescued by some cowboys, actual cowboys on horses, then went to a dance with them later. This would be in the 1930's.
After she retired in the mid 1980's, she got a job with Hertz shuttling cars around the southwest. Mostly just for fun.
Apparently she once owned a Buick Wildcat with Pursuit engine! Something like this, I think.
When Kurt and I got married, Dot was 83. She drove to LA for the event from Dallas/Ft. Worth. By herself. For fun! Her former husband, Kurt's dad, used to race cars for fun (amateur events). They had races for the wives and Dot won every time she raced.
When we moved her out to LA, her car came with her: A 2001 Buick Park Avenue, light blue. She didn't drive anymore, really it was getting time for her to stop at 90 years old, so the timing worked out. But we kept her car so that every time we drove her places, she could ride in her car.
(This is not her actual car, but a good facsimile of what it looks like.)
Lately, Harper and I drive in this car all the time. Harper likes it better than the GTI, I think because it's much bigger and has a much better view out the windows. (She'll get schooled in the wonders of six speed manual, grippy, rally pedaled cars in the not too distant future, I promise.) You may recall from an earlier post, that this is how she rolls in the Buick:
Personally, I really don't love this car. It's big, it's floaty, its an automatic, it's big. It's an old lady's car and while I'm no spring chicken, I'm NOT an old lady! I'll admit I live in LA and am sensitive about my car image.
But since Dot died, I have been thinking about her and her cars. I thought about the "last times" - the last times she rode in the Buick which was to the doctor's office in January where she was admitted to the hospital. (She came back to her apartment from the hospital in an ambulance.) Of course we didn't realize it would be the last time, at the time.
And the last time she actually drove the car. That would have been in 2008 when she and Kurt (and her two cats) drove from her home in Texas to her new place here. I doubt there was specific talk about "you'll never drive a car again" when we moved her, but she knew she couldn't drive in LA. So on that road trip out to LA, Kurt let her drive for a while on the big wide freeway. It makes me happy/sad to think about that last bit of driving she had.
Dot wasn't particularly sentimental or expressive with her feelings (she was old school all the way), but I often wonder what she might have been thinking or feeling while driving that dessert highway in a car she loved so much. I hope she was happy.
Back in January I started to answer questions from this article. It was a sort of "getting to know you" blog post series and I enjoyed it very much. (It's always nice when someone asks you questions about you!*) See previous questions/answers here and here.
11. Take four minutes and tell you partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
This one - not really a writing exercise so I'm moving past it. (You could just, uh, read more of my blog. Click "Personal History" in the categories.)
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
I would like to know how to play the piano. Kurt and I were talking about this the other day, that while we are grateful to have been on sports teams and done well on them, we both wished we had learned an instrument while we were young. (Yes, you do see us quasi plotting things for Harper in this conversation!) And yes, I know I could take piano lessons now and I do think about it often.
The other thing is that I would like to be fluent in other languages. This is 100% on me that I don't learn them on my own, now. And I pick up languages well and I'm a good mimic so my accents are excellent. Yes, I do say so myself because other people, strangers even, tell me so when I do speak the tiny bit of Spanish I still remember or when I break out my travel Italian** in Italy (it's been a LONG time.)
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
I honestly already know all the truths about myself. Acting on them all is a different matter and I'm working on that every day: actually believing that I have what it takes to achieve all my goals, overcoming fear, etc. The only thing I hope to know is that Harper will live a long and happy life, but if it's not in the cards, I don't want to know that now.
Otherwise, this seems applicable to how I feel about this question:
14. Is there something that you've dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
Living in Italy and learning Italian. The living there part is a bit more challenging as it's not just me I have to organize. But I'll make it happen soon, even if we live there just for a short while. The learning Italian part is the part that is easy. There is NO excuse for not having started learning it yet. I even know people from Italy who could help me but I just haven't made the effort. I have not camminato mio discorso. (Had to used google translate for that. Hope it was correct.)
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
I think the question should be "What is the greatest accomplishment of your life so far."
The easy answer is that I had Harper at age 44 all naturally, no interventions of any kind. Just good old fashioned baby making. This, according to all books, biology and common sense, is next to impossible. But I don't feel like I actually DID anything, I just got lucky. So that doesn't quite count in the spirit of the question.
I hope my greatest accomplishment will be to have raised a bright, funny, strong, fearless, generous, curious, warm and loving woman. But you'll have to check back with Harper toward the end of her life to see if I achieved that.
Okay okay what have I accomplished so far in my life. Another diversionary answer is "not enough, I'm still working on it." But there must be something I'm proud of that I can write about here.
I guess it's the simple stuff. That I've built a wonderful life here with Kurt and now Harper. That I have wonderful friends whom I treasure. That I have the means to work on my own projects (in and around paying jobs) and to reach for the stars. Now to overcome my fears and remember that I always have the ruby slippers on.
Click your heels, dammit!
*Sidenote/Protip: Meeting new people in almost any setting is really quite easy. All you have to do is ask them questions about themselves.
**"Travel Italian" = all the phrases you use over and over when traveling. For example: Table for two please. A bottle of water and a bottle of the house red wine please. Where is the bathroom? etc.
I was in the hair color section the other day, just browsing for temporary color. (Didn't find/buy any.) But I did run across this and man oh man did that take me back. I wonder how many bottles I bought in my teens/20s? Good times.
Yesterday Harper had her usual nap. She asked to sleep in her clothes, not to change into PJs. I said sure. She had her party dress on (she calls it "party dress") which has no sleeves. When I left the room she had her blanket on and seemed fine and it wasn't that cold. I heard some rustling around on the monitor but that's pretty normal. She slept her usual amount of time.
This is how I found her when I went to get her up. I felt bad that she was so cold. Then I was stoked that she not only put her jacket on herself, but zipped it up too! Genius girl.
Harper likes cars. The movie Cars and just actual cars (toys). In rearranging a bunch of stuff I found a Hot Wheels set I bought for Kurt and his brother about ten Christmases ago. We set it up last night and Harper went cuckoo bananas for it! She was laughing and clapping and loving it. She was so peeved when it was time to brush teeth and go to bed.
Peeved is not a strong enough word as she kept doing these little scream/shrieks when I said it was time for bed and we could play with the cars tomorrow. She didn't stop the screams so then I had to say if she didn't stop screaming we would not play with the cars tomorrow. Well guess what. We didn't play with the cars today. Bummer. She asked a couple of times but I had to stand firm. Which sucks because she loved it so much! But rules are rules and you have to be strong and not cave.
I am going to set up the track again tonight after she goes to bed so when she wakes up we can play immediately! Christmas in February March.
We went to the Hollywood FireFighter Museum today which meant we HAD to go to lunch at Kurt's old haunt Atch Kotch (which I also love). We ordered up a bunch of stuff and the waitress offered chopstick helpers. Magic! These pictures make me so happy.
Going through photo albums at Kurt's mom's place and Kurt spotted a gem of a pic. His mom and him when he was maybe 9 months to a year old. Adorable on its own but then I said, "Hey, who does that remind you of?" So then I put these together. Look at those faces!! Sweet.
Aside from the funny thing I posted, there wasn't much to V Day yesterday. Still too weighed down by grief and distracted by the continuing work of cleaning out Kurt's mom's place to do anything. Harper made us laugh hard though, and that kind of love is worthy of a special day.
We were having a very low key morning (before more moving out) and watched a bunch of Thomas The Train. I wanted Harper to have a break and said, "Harper, let's go make a train in your room." She said, "I don't want to." I tried a few more ideas. Then she said, "Go make a train for me and I'll come and look at it and then I'll play with it."
Kurt and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. Then I had to write it down. To paraphrase the Thomas theme song "Harper is the cheeky one!"
I live in Los Angeles. In the summer of 2006 I worked in Mexico City. Instead of sending out giant emails full of photos to friends and families, I started this blog. The summer turned out to be a crazy one and this blog and my camera kept me sane. I didn't want to stop observing and writing when I got home to LA, so I kept the blog going.