Wondering…

I have many blogs in the hopper that will be coming soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to pop in to ask a question.

Why is it, when we’re driving we assume that anyone honking must be honking at us?

This morning I was driving to work, a guy was driving the opposite direction and honked, I looked, and he waved. I waved back, obviously. Then I started wondering, “who was that?” And I glanced in my rearview to see him pull over to talk to the guy walking down the sidewalk. Clearly, that’s who he was waving at.

Whoops. Narcissistic, much? But for some reason, you hear that honk and immediately assume it’s for you.

Why is that?

Query of the day.

American Steel

Yesterday, it snowed. Not “snowed” but SNOWED. Major snowfall.

The news is saying 10.5″ in my area, I’ll buy that. It snowed all day long, just lazy, blowy, blustery snow, on a fairly warm winter day. I love it when it snows, the world softens, the sounds are muffled and there’s a gentle hush over the world. So it seems to me. I stood at the windows and watched it snow for a while; then I went outside and felt it snow for a while. It’s simply beautiful.

Now, I, like everyone else, does not like what comes with a beautiful snowfall; bitter colds, crappy roads, terrible drivers, shoveling, snowblowing, messy entrances, squeaky shoes, giant snowbanks filling parking lots and street corners, making it harder to see, but heck, we live in Minnesota, time to just deal.

What’s interesting for me is that Gus has new tires. Gus was in need of tires when he first came to me, in August of 2010. More than two years passed with me driving on smooth, bald as a newborn baby, tires. It was actually a little dangerous. If not for last years incredibly bland and mild winter, I wouldn’t have made it this long. My dad finally made me promise that I’d have new tires before this winter. Just last month, I fulfilled my end of the bargain. This was the truly first time I got to see if there was  difference. I ran one errand, yesterday morning, just to get out of the house and test out those new tires.

Gus tore up the streets, slinging snow in every direction. He churned through slush and grit and sludge, daring to create his own path. It was fun and kind of awesome.

This morning, instead of worrying about getting to work, I knew, after the plows had come through, we’d be fine. We charged through the morning traffic and cautious drivers with free-spirited joy, knowing nothing could stop us. Just before we got new tires, there was a dusting of weather that turned to ice on the streets. There’s a minuscule hill that I simply could not summit, not with those smooth and shiny old tires. Today, this morning, Gus and I crested that hill as though it were a dry, parched, hot-July pavement and not loose with the dustings of almost a foot of snowfall.

While driving up that hill and bigger ones beyond, I thought to myself tires make a huge difference, and now I know I’d have never survived without the two tons of American steel I’m driving, but the combination is heady and liberating. Heady and liberating, a strong, heavy, powerful car and tires that do their job? Driving is fun again.

Then, turning onto the last street before work, my mind went, “American steel?”

Something buzzed the recesses of my brain. When I had a spare moment, I went to my search box (love having a search box on my blog) and typed in “American steel” sure enough, I used that phrase once before when describing the last time Gus and I drove together in the snow. February 22, 2011 was the last time we had any major snowfall. That’s darn close to two years ago, how incredible and completely unlike Minnesota.

While I know this is kind of an offbeat post, it stems from the fact that I’m in a good mood, my car went through snow like a hot knife through butter and, Mom, I was more than safe driving to work today.

“And it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.”

A Beautiful Day

Last week I was driving from one job to another. The Interstate was under construction (naturally) but I didn’t know it, so I got on and was immediately stopped.

I sat, in sweltering heat, in my car for 25 minutes to go about 3 miles. While I was sitting there, I couldn’t help but notice how untamed, wild, and…beautiful the median was.

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See?

Yes, I took a picture of the side of the Interstate. Deal with it. And yes, I felt stupid doing it. What is remarkable to me, is that while I was sitting in gridlocked traffic, NOT MOVING, there was not a single car headed the other way. It was just at the beginning of rush hour, but it’s the Interstate. When is there no traffic?

Later that night, as I drove home, via the surface streets, avoiding the road construction, I saw the most amazing clouds in the sky, lit up by the sunset.
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It was so pretty I pulled over to take a picture and then sat there for a minute, breathing in the warm, fresh air, the smells of summertime. It was the nicest part of my day.

Only about 8 minutes later, as I was just a few blocks from home, the sun was nearly sunk, and I captured this:

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The very last minutes of the sunset. I grabbed that one out my sunroof while driving.

As I pulled into my garage, it occurred to me that those three pictures show that it was actually a very good day, despite the annoyances of work, the debating over this and that, and the extra time stuck in traffic. It was a beautiful day.

Bop, Bop, Bop

When I drive to work in the morning, I take surface streets. I’m used to commuting via the interstate, so it gets tedious, at times, to sit through stoplights. Of course, I’m pretty much always running late, so that factors in as well.

Given the number of stoplights on my route (six) you’d think I’d be used to it, but I am always paying attention. It’s a seven minute drive if I make all the lights. Close to 12 if I don’t. It adds over four minutes! That’s  a lot. Then, of course, there are the varietals of what if I make this light and miss this one? But, mostly, I’ve noticed one thing. The entire drive hinges upon one single stoplight. It doesn’t matter if I make or miss the ones before, it only matters if I make that one. If I do, then I make the lights after. If I don’t…then I don’t.

It’s the stoplight at Upper Afton. It annoys me to no end mostly because it is the most unnecessary stoplight I’ve ever encountered. It’s at a T-stop intersection. Only three ways to go. The majority of the traffic (though it could hardly be called heavy traffic) is on the through street, Upper Afton meets it. Why there can’t just be a stop sign at UA and those people pull into traffic, I’ll never know.

Somehow, I’ve started judging my days by that light. Anyone else do things like that? I used to do it when I’d drive to Richfield or Edina for work. There was always a slow down on the interstate where I-35E  joins I-494. When I’d come to the slow down, I’d look at my clock and think if I get through this and to the MN river in less than ten minutes, it’s going to be a good day. Is that crazy? I don’t know, but it seems like if traffic patterns go my way, the rest of the day does as well. Of course, if traffic sucks…well, you can follow the rest.

I’ve now begun thinking, as I approach my least favorite stoplight, if I make this light, it’s gonna be a good day. And, for the most part, I’m right. Since that light is very hit-or-miss, there’s no pattern to it and I’m actually able to judge my day off of it. Okay, that sounds a bit wonky. Whatever, it’s my crazy ritual.

Flash to this morning, I’m cruising up toward the light and-BAM!-it turns yellow on me. I have to stop. Crap. That was my first thought. Today can’t be a bad day, I am going to a concert tonight! Today is a FUN day! I’m leaving work early. This day is supposed to be good!

I was practically hyperventilating as I argued with my superstition. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something weird. There was a car in the oncoming lane, also stopped for the light. I glanced in that direction and saw the driver was an elderly woman. I couldn’t make out her face, but she had a white pouf of hair and glasses. Elderly.

As I watched, her little white pouf started bopping along to a beat. Without fail, she was clearly jamming to some song. I’m assuming that she had her radio on and was not recently escaped, but it was so.darn.cute!

Think about this: when is the last time you saw an elderly person jamming to music? Jamming to anything? Listening to music?

This little lady was in her own world, bopping along and all I could see was her old lady hair, swerving in time to some mystical beat. I grinned out loud.

As the light turned green and I started to go, I looked over as I passed her. She had her head turned, so I still couldn’t see her face, but I waved at her, because she made me happy, even though I knew she wouldn’t see it.

When I approached the next stoplight and it, inevitably, turned yellow, I smiled and thought, “it’s going to be a great day!”