Sunday, October 2, 2011

My Dashboard

My fourteen year old Dodge Grand Caravan (which I've only known for nine of those years) has made four round trips from New Jersey to Disney World (well, 3-1/4 really), countless excursions to New York City, numerous forays to IKEA (in Elizabeth, NJ and our favorite in Conshohocken, PA) and has experienced neverending railfanning escapades. Except for major surgery in 2007 in Richmond, Virginia (yes...we had to leave it there for a new transmission and rent a van for the rest of the trip to Disney), it's been a real trooper. Naturally, though, along with our weary finances, the poor van has had to suffer through minor aches and pains without remedy. One of the most inconvenient maladies is the hit-or-miss dashboard. Sometimes it works, most times it doesn't. I am now a pro at judging my speed to within 2 mph. And, though I've come too close for comfort a few times, I have not yet run out of gas (knock wood!). This morning, after two full weeks in the dark, my dashboard finally decided to show itself again. Imagine my surprise when I received a response to my "Well, where have you been?"

Oh my. Have I been absent again? Dear, dear, dear. (The dashboard's voice was most definitely that of Edward Everett Horton, very much as he sounded in "Top Hat" with Fred and Ginger - see

It's been two weeks this time. I thought you were going for a new record.

Oh, heaven's no! Well, was it really two weeks? My, my, my. I simply can't imagine it's been that long. Two weeks, you say?

Uh-huh. (I happened to notice that an emergency stop at the nearest gas station was in my immediate future.)

Imagine that. Well, I simply have no recollection of it being that long. Certainly not. No recollection at all.

You do realize this has been going on for almost a year, don't you? And you're gone for longer periods of time than you're here!

Not really! You don't say? Well...what do you know? Hard to believe. Yes, yes. Just simply too hard to believe!

Apparently it's a huge job to fix, too. Any idea why you do it, or why you just can't stay on?

Oh no, none at all. Out of my control, I should imagine. Yes, that's it. Out of my control. Why, I don't even know when it happens. Comes from right out of the blue. Dear-oh-dear...right out of the blue!

If I ask nicely, can't you please stay a bit longer this time?

Love to. Yes, indeed, I'd simply love to. But, you see, I have nothing to do with it. Nothing at all. I'm here and then I'm not. Just like that. Here, and then not.

(I pulled into the gas station and turned off the ignition, hope-hope-hoping that when I turned it back on Mr. Horton would still be there. As my luck would have it, the rest of the ride to work as absolutely silent. But, as least now instead of being frustrated that my dashboard doesn't work, I look forward to those rare occasions when Edward Everett Horton accompanies me for the ride. Oh yes, indeed!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


My mother does her laundry on Fridays and her ironing on Sundays. It's been like that ever since I can remember. I, on the other hand, do laundry when the hamper is full or when we nearly run out of towels, or if I need a particular dress for work. I iron - in a hurry - only on the mornings that I want to wear that particular dress. This morning was such an occasion. First I tried to quietly raise my deafeningly loud metal-on-metal screeching ironing board so as not to wake my entire sleeping family, and then I plugged in the iron so it could get hot while I brushed my teeth. I thought I heard a voice (other than the NPR host on the radio), so I turned off the water to see if someone was trying to tell me to hurry out of the bathroom. The voice, however, was coming from INSIDE the bathroom - specifically from the iron.

Oooooh. I just love the way this feels, don't you? (Imagine my surprise when, at 6:58 a.m., I distinctly heard Jean Arthur's cute little voice [see] coming from my iron!)

You ean ow it's all ot? (Well, I did have a mouthful of toothpaste....)

Exactly...yes...well...that's just what I mean. You see, I just love that all-over warm feeling.

(What a perky appliance for so early in the morning! I swooshed the toothpaste out of my mouth, dried my face and turned to the iron.)  Gee, it's too bad you're my iron. You don' t get many opportunities to be anything but cold.

Oh, I don't mind. Really I don't. I'd much rather be warm a few times during the week than to get really hot all in one day. Besides, I've never been one to get all steamed up over things. I'd say I'm pretty even-tempered.

Well I do mostly only use the setting right in the middle....

Oh yes, yes, I have noticed that. You know, I've started to encourage the ironing board to take life's ups and downs a little less seriously and I think I may have finally succeeded in raising his spirits.

That's wonderful! Do you think he'll groan less when I'm done this morning?

Well...(she wrinkled her brow and gave me a kind of innocent, clueless look), it's a little hard to say, really. He sort of keeps his emotions covered up.  

(I finished pressing my dress and admit I was reluctant to unplug my sweet iron. Before reaching for the socket, I promised her that I'd wear my black flowered dress the next day - the one that absolutely needed to be ironed. And I swear that my ironing board did not creak as loudly when I lowered it!)   

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Ever since my finances took a nose dive several years ago, my poor wallet has not seen the light of day too often. It spends days, sometimes a whole week, nice and cozy in a zippered compartment in the sack I use as a pocketbook. Gone are the daily stops at Dunkin Donuts for morning coffee on my way to work, I pay my bills online, and I sometimes only go to the ATM for cash once every two weeks or so. I assumed my wallet was now accustomed to being cash less, without currency of any kind - even coins. Imagine my surprise when I went to place a ten and a five dollar bill in the paper money section and I heard the following shriek:

Oww!! What in the world are you doing? (My wallet sounded very much like Ruth Hussey - sassy as when she was in "The Philadelphia Story," not skeptical as she was in "The Uninvited" - see My reaction was to immediately pull the cash out of the wallet.) 

Oh, I beg your pardon. Did I startle you?

Startle? I think shock is a better word. You can't just suddenly shove a foreign object in my mouth and expect no reaction. After all, I'm only...

Human? I hate to break it to you, but you're not human. Just because you can speak...

Please don't put words in my mouth. For your information, I was going to say that I'm only used to you feeding me once or twice a month. This was totally unexpected! (She was absolutely right. This really was way off schedule. I found myself offering an explanation to my wallet.)

Oh, I see. It's just that I didn't get to the bank for allowances and stuff until this week end. I had a few extra dollars in the account, so I thought, well, it might be nice to actually have some extra cash for me...maybe treat myself to coffee. Know what I mean? 

Well, why didn't you just say so? I know you've been wearing your belt a little tighter this winter, so a little unexpected treat for us both is really quite nice. Well done! (Just as I was about to place my windfall in the wallet, my son informed me that he will going to the Junior Prom in two weeks. Two weeks! There will have to be some serious juggling with my account, and that $15 will simply have to go for the prom.)

Well, it was nice while it lasted, huh? I promise to be more receptive next time.

Next time?  (I replaced the empty wallet back in my sack.)  I don't think I'd count on it!