Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Guess I DO Want to Be Like Her...

Yesterday, my 86-year-old mom reminded me why she's my hero. If there's one thing everyone can agree on about my mom, it's that she never hesitates to help someone. But, yesterday, she went above and beyond.

My 67-year-old brother-in-law has gone back to work since retiring. It helps him and my sister out financially and...he was not a happy camper hanging around the house all day. He can't drive the big rigs he loves...that would interfere with his pension. So he makes deliveries for an auto supply. And yesterday, he had a headache. Knowing my sister and mother would be driving within blocks of his work, he asked my sister to drop off some aspirin.

They did and made a left turn onto Lobdell (in Baton Rouge), heading north. Just as they turned a little white car zoomed up behind them, traveling way too fast and moved to the right lane and passed them. A block later, as they approached the light, that white car plowed into a larger car turning left. The impact sent the white car spinning toward my mom and sister.

My sister turned to Mom and said, "Brace yourself, we're going to be hit!" They waited but the impact did not come. The car had stopped on inches away.

Within an instant, Mom was out of the car and giving directions. The white car was smoking. She had my sister and several other cars back up. She ran to the driver's door and tried to open it. It wouldn't budge. She reached through the window, unlocked the door and tried again. This time it opened, but only a few inches.

All the while she's giving instructions and calming the woman behind the wheel and the little boy in the car with her:

It's gonna be OK.

Unfasten your seat belt.

Sweetie, go over to the sidewalk.

She tried with all her might to get that door open but every time the woman took her foot off the brake, the car would start rolling. Mom spotted a man watching them and motioned for him to help. He got the emergency brake set and applied enough force to that door for it to open. Mom helped the lady away from the smoking car and stuck around to give a statement to police.

And while my sister wishes Mom would have stayed in the car and minded her own business - heck, she would prefer Mom not even give her name as a witness - I'm so proud of her. I hope and pray that when I'm her age, I have half her energy and gumption!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Giggles Galore

My girl has had me rolling with laughter lately. And since my blog has had little activity lately, I thought I'd share some giggles.

Whatcha Waiting For???

There's a dead tree at the end of the levee. Mabel likes to go to the edge and survey. She looks long and hard for coyotes, ground squirrels, rabbits, people, horses... anything moving. I stand there and stretch. But, my foot has been bugging me lately so I've taken to sitting on the felled tree and stretching my back there.

Yesterday, Mabel finished her survey and turned to look at me mid-stretch. As I didn't heed her signal to move on, she turned her heiny around and sat down next to me on the tree! And...proceeded to whine her discontent at not moving on.

Looong Complaint:

Miss Mabel has a tendency to turn sideways in the bed, giving herself a generous 3/4 of the bed. Last night, I got up to go to the bathroom and was not pleased with this discrepancy. Mabel HATES being moved or someone moving her bed when she's in it. Earthquakes bring much drama! Knowing this, I've learned to be fast.

I plunged my hands under her shoulder and behind and twisted...over in 2 seconds flat. Mabel started growling (not a mean growl...more like grousing her discontent) and growled and growled and growled. She complained for a full two minutes!

A Longer Running Start:

Miss Skinny Long Legs has always needed a running start to get on my bed. In my tiny California house, this means her going into the mini bathroom, head into the shower, back up by the toilet, head out the door, pause, two steps and a leap onto the bed. But Mabel is now 7 1/2. Lately, she has preferred backing into the art room and running four steps to leap.

My poor baby is getting older...but she still makes me smile.

I jumped up here for THIS?

Today, I had a sinus headache - not uncommon with my allergies and all the ash we have post-fire. I decided to nap and was cold so I begged the girl to join me. I knew I would have to bribe her so I got her a cookie - some peanut butter dog cookies I bought at the town bake sale this weekend.

She went into the hall, ran and leaped on the bed and came over to inspect the cookie. I should explain, Mabel usually gets chicken or beef jerky at bedtime. She curled her lip and just stood there looking at me.

I've long ago established that I'm a well-trained animal. I got up and got her beef jerky. She happily curled up and ate it...then ate the peanut butter cookie!

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Neutral Question & Advice from an 86 Year Old

I'm still pondering the question (posed in my previous post) of shoving the transmission into neutral while driving. I've tested it while driving my jeep (deserted road; 25 mph) and retained control over steering. Granted 25 mph is a far cry from 120. Ultimately, I agree with Janet: Lawsuits are the main reason car companies won't discuss this. Still, you would think a news - info-tainment show would.

So, I decided to ask the best driver I know: my 86-year-old mom. Surprised by that??? She learned to drive a Model T and a tractor as a young teen. When she went to to work for the phone company in the 1940's, she had to be certified to drive a commercial vehicle. That meant many hours of defensive driving classes every year. She always thought those classes made her a much better driver. I have to agree. Mom has had a few accidents in all her years of driving but she was at fault in none of them.

She's even had to drive in L.A. a few times. Let me tell you, L.A. traffic is a far cry from LA traffic. She's always handled it beautifully.

Mom agreed with me that neutral probably is the safest way out of that situation. She also pointed out that turning that engine off would actually be a pretty dangerous option. That causes complete loss of power steering and sometimes locks the steering wheel. That would not be pretty at 120 mph.

Which led her to digress in a depression era driving tip. Before power steering, you could kill your engine and still drive. My mom came from a poor farm family and they had to make every dollar stretch. So all of her brothers and she quickly figured out that when driving downhill, they would save money by killing the engine and coasting downhill and onto a straightaway. (Although I have to wonder if starting the engine over and over wouldn't burn through the fuel saved.)

I actually remember her doing this with our manual transmission car from my childhood. Our house sat with one street T boning our street and straight into our driveway. That street was long and downhill. She would often kill the car about halfway down the block and coast right into our garage.

It makes me wonder if all of our inventions and improvements have really made driving any safer than the "tanks" my mother learned to drive in her youth.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Riddle Me This

I have a question about a sad situation that no one seems to be able to answer. The situation has to do with the recent Toyota floor mat recall which, in turn, was prompted by the death of CA Highway patrolman, Mark Saylor and his family. Their deaths were so shocking because they called 911 to say their car was going faster and faster, up to 120 mph and that Saylor was applying the hand brake and almost standing on the floor brake before the crash that killed them.

What they did not realize is that the floor mat was caught on the accelerator. And furthermore, their Toyota had a push button start that required a three second depression to turn off. . . three seconds can seem like a lifetime at 120 mph.

But my question has to do with a driving trick, taught to me by my brother-in-law and step-father when I was learning to drive in backwoods Mississippi in 1978. My brother-in-law and sister were driving Hwy 55 N. to McComb one weekend with their car on cruise control. They were climbing a little hill and the accelerator depressed to give the car more gas. They topped that hill and the accelerator kept right on. My brother-in-law tapped his breaks to turn off the cruise control. The car kept speeding up and they were soon doing over 100. Knowing the brake and hand brake wouldn't help at that speed, my brother-in-law shoved his automatic transmission into neutral. When they reached a safer speed, he slipped it back into drive. This had disconnected the cruise control and he had could operate the car safely. (Now you know why NO ONE in my family wants cruise control in their cars.)

After this, my brother-in-law and step-dad took me out to one of the vacant, straight roads to practice driving and worked that trick into my lesson.

I don't mean this to be accusatory in any way but, can some one tell me if this would have worked in Saylor family's situation? As a highway patrolman, I would think this would be a trick Officer Saylor would have known but in that panic situation, maybe it was impossible think of it.

And if the neutral trick would work, why isn't Toyota talking about it? Wouldn't this be a great way to educate people???

Thoughts anyone???