Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Goodbye Tricia, We Will Miss You

One of the most loving of women died this past Friday. A victim of the "best healthcare in the world". She was sick to her stomach on Friday morning, and felt badly enough to go to our local Emergency Room. Our local hospital has a brand spanking new state of the art Emergency facility where they appear to not understand when someone arrives with a life or death problem.

An opportunity that I will never have would be greatly appreciated by me. An opportunity to ask any of the staff on duty when she was there why, when she was so overweight and with a broken foot, did it not occur to them that they needed to do some tests to determine if she was having a heart attack? Why, in light of her other problems, did it not occur to anyone that she had a blood clot? What part of women having heart attacks seldom show the usual signs of one, escapes you still? 

I would love to ask since she's the third death that I know of in young women who were sent home with stomach aches, when they're going to figure out that they need to do something besides dismiss them? So, because they're overburdened by people without primary care physicians seeking medical care that should be handled by a doctor's office, our family has lost a daughter, sister, niece, aunt and cousin. 

She had a doctor, who like most of our physicians today double book and don't seem able to fit a patient in when they need to be seen. They offer appointments that are so far in the future, whatever ails you will either cure itself or make you worse. Might even die from it, even if you go to a state of the art Emergency Room, where you sit in the waiting room for hours before they see you, and then they send you home to die.

She was my niece. She was 46, and she died while availing herself of the best we have to offer. In a place where she should have gotten help, she was not offered a chance to continue living. She was simply sent home to die. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

The OMG Moments Of Life

I didn't have a number 340 painted on the side but THIS is the color and look of my Baby. The finish was a dark metal flake green that would look black or navy in some light. It didn't have a 340 engine it was a hopped up 318 V6. On my only outing as a street racer I blew away a Pontiac Bonneville on a short drag. He ran out of road before he could overtake me. The Bonny had a bigger engine, it didn't have my hop. 

It was the most reliable car I have ever owned. Although one of the most unlucky. While it never failed to start, it attracted more than it's share of unusual problems. My parking space was next to this big old tree that lost a huge limb one hot humid August night. We'd just gotten home from visiting friends, walked into the house and weren't home more than 5 minutes when we heard this horrendous crash. Walked out front to see what it was and didn't see a thing. A neighbor came running out of her house to tell me my car was wrecked. She was right, that huge limb was standing upright in my trunk on top of the spare tire well. Held steady by the side porch roof which was also damaged. Not a breath of air stirring anywhere and a tree drops it's biggest limb into my car. Figure that one out.

I remember how devastated I was and the police officer trying to keep me from falling apart. He never knew how close he came to getting slapped upside the head when he told me he wasn't sure how to write the report. How does one report that a tree attacked a car anyway? 

My insurance covered it and a couple of years later Baby lost her gas tank while I was sitting in the parking lot at Hancock Airport in Syracuse. It was strapped under the spare tire well, which probably was damaged when the tree limb fell into it. A couple more winters of snow and road salt did it in. We used a tire iron wedged across the spare tire well and wrapped a chain around it and the gas tank to drive home. The friends sitting in the back seat, who were the reason we were there to start out with, probably prayed all the way home.  My mechanic, the wild and wooly Mike found a tank and mounted it to the frame since there was nothing left of the spare tire well when it rotted out. 

The following year it was totaled while my then husband was driving home from a meeting. He was T-boned at 55 mph. Both cars were traveling at that speed. The driver of the other car ran a stop sign. That accident was the end of my car. In a way, it was also the end of my marriage. During tests made necessary by his injuries, it was discovered that he had inoperable cancer of the brain. 

There were times in the next few months when I would have killed to have that car back. She had been my refuge when my world was falling apart. I could just hop in, turn the key and purr on down the road. Today's cars handle better than she did, but nothing will ever equal the feeling of piloting a muscle car like the 74 Duster with the pedal to the metal on the open highway. It's a high you just can't duplicate. One I will never have the pleasure of again. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Good Things Are All Around Us

So, my doctor was right about shutting off the computer and the TV. With much less online time I'm doing much better. Even managed to recover enough to sit for 20 minutes at a time instead of only 10. I'm still limiting my online time to 1 hour per day. I have a common kitchen timer I set to the amount of time I'm going to spend goofing around and I close out whatever I'm doing when it alerts me. With only 10 minutes a stretch, I wasn't really capable of doing anything, but now I can sit for 20 minutes, it's much easier to keep up with what I want to pay attention to. 

Withdrawing from the smoke and mirrors of the internet has been extremely beneficial to me so I don't plan on returning to my old habits. I'm painting again which is a much more positive pursuit. This month I've completed an order for someone of three pieces. I didn't charge as much as I should have, and I don't care. I'm having more fun painting for me, doing what I want to do rather than doing something for someone else. I made enough off that order to purchase some replacements for paints that didn't fare well when I wasn't using them. 

I hadn't realized how often I have been focusing on the negative. I'm certainly not going to say that is caused by the internet, but I can say with some surety that it contributes. Less of it has made me a much calmer person, and my blood pressure is again coming and staying down. My physical pain has been reduced through less sitting and over all I'm beginning to see that having a positive attitude is part of the improvement.  I am seeing the good things in life rather than sitting here arguing politics and wondering where that mess will leave me next month or next year or whenever. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Lesson Learned From "King Of The Modifieds" Richie Evans

He was a friend of my Husband's family having spent the first 16 years of his life living down the road from them. He was typical of most of the farm boys I've met. Laid back, good hearted, helpful people, with a wild streak that makes you want to shake your head at their antics and wonder whether there's something in the air on top of that hill. Maybe it's learning to drive tractors at a young age, or possibly the aroma of cow manure they're exposed to, but they all seem to have a need for speed. A need which life seems to lessen as they age, except in Richie's case.

He left the farm, learned auto mechanics and opened his own garage in the city I lived in some 12 miles from his home. By the 1970's when I first met him, he was an established stock car driver on many of the short tracks found in New York State and surrounding areas. I knew him and his future second wife through my place of employment. They were customers there. She was a flight attendant. I saw more of her than I did of him, but he would come in when she wasn't in town to pick up their things.

I wasn't a NASCAR fan. I'd been to the Utica-Rome Speedway once in the late 1960's, and thought it was ok, but nothing I'd ever find myself following. He was just a customer at the dry cleaning establishment that I worked in. I blame the fact that my first car was a muscle car on Richie. I've also often told my Hubby it was probably all Richie's fault that we married. My brief experience with Richie taught me that there were some very desirable qualities underneath all that country boy craziness. Things like honesty, loyalty and a willingness to help when needed. Of course, you do have to hang on to those qualities for dear life when you're traveling at 90 miles an hour on the fast lane called living. Those country boys give the phrase "misspent youth" a whole 'nother meaning.

It was September of 1978 and I had decided I was going to buy myself my first car. I'd gone to a local auto dealer who sold used vehicles and was looking at both a 1974 Plymouth Gold Duster and a Ford Torino. I didn't make a decision about which one I wanted because while I trusted this particular auto dealer, I knew very little about cars. I had decided to ask my Dad to look them over and was discussing the situation with a fellow employee when Richie came in. He'd overheard enough of the conversation to know what I was planning and he knew the mechanic at that particular dealership. Richie suggested I speak to the mechanic there and see which one he would recommend. That's what I did and I wound up a single 20 something owner of a fast car. I LOVED that car.

Getting married to my first husband and changing jobs took me away from any opportunity to get to know Richie in any other manner. I never became a fan of his and never considered myself to be anything more than an acquaintence for whom he did a kindness. I know so much more about him now. Partly due to stories told by Hubby's family and friends, and mostly due to his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame this past Friday. I had no idea he was as important to the sport of racing as that.

"Rapid Roman" Richie Evans won 9 NASCAR National Modified Championships including 8 in a row from 1978 to 1985 when he was killed running a practice lap in Martinsville, Va at the Martinsville Speedway. He died from a skull fracture after hitting the wall on a turn. So far he is the only Hall of Fame inductee that never drove in the top NASCAR cup series.

This past weekend there's been much laughter and a few tears taking place in the hills of Westernville, NY. For many it isn't the honor bestowed on him by NASCAR that is what holds him dear in their hearts. It's the barn dances and the gas stolen from his Dad's pump with his Mom's collusion. It's the rides at breakneck speed over the hills and in a few cases through the pastures and the woods. For some it may be the knowledge of who it actually was that saw to it that paint from the City of Rome's Highway garage found it's way to Richie's to be used on his first number 61 stock cars.

Since 1987 when I first met my husband, my life has overlapped Richie's life in ways that I would never have imagined back in 1978 when he helped me choose my first car. I've met guys named Speed, Stubby and Cubby who were friends and relatives of his. I've heard their stories and marveled at how he managed to live until adulthood. I bought my current car from the man that taught him auto mechanics.  My Oldest step-son owns 13 acres of what was Richie's boyhood home. The barn is directly across the road. I took this picture from the front door of step-son's home back in 2007 I believe. I planned on painting the scene, never got around to it.

Richie was 44 when he died. I didn't really know him so I don't know how he dealt, or if he dealt with the knowledge that every lap he drove could be his last. What I do know is he grabbed onto everything that life had to offer and he wrung from it everything he could in the time he had. There's a lesson there that I think we all ignore in life. We only get one go round, we need to make the most of it. Can't be doing that when we dwell on everything that could go wrong. You know? Maybe I better start that painting. Might not do justice to it, but I'll never know until I try.