The Red Ranger

She’s not much to look at on the outside; bare bones on the inside; stick shift on the floor; no cruise control; no heated seats; no automatic nothing. On her tail gate are two bumper stickers. I’M A VIETNAM VETERAN and NO FARMERS. NO FOOD. What she lacks in appearance appeal is made up in the heart that pounds under her hood.

“She” is a red 1995 Ford Ranger, Reggie White Signature Edition, complete with floor mats bearing the Green Bay Packer “G” emblem. Reggie White played defensive end for the Green Bay Packers football team in the early 90’s. He helped the team win Super Bowl XXI with a game-ending sack. Green Bay, Wisconsin raised his standing in the community to sainthood after that.

I’m borrowing her from my brother Eddie while my daughter is home from college during winter break. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to earn money during her time off but we unfortunately are short on vehicles. Thanks to my brother’s generosity purchasing another vehicle can now be put off until spring.

On the first morning behind the wheel, I spilled most of the coffee in my mug trying to find the cup holder. Its awkward position almost completely under the dash and behind the stick shift on the floor created the dilemma. No worries. When I tried to wipe it up I couldn’t tell where the coffee spilled. I found it’s quite difficult to drink coffee driving a manual transmission anyhow. Every time I reach for a sip it seems I have to shift.

Adjectives to describe the complex interior aromas cover a wide range of essences. The prominent odor emanates from the three-inch long, one-inch round cigar stub balanced on the edge of the ashtray. I don’t think they put those in vehicles anymore. Do they? I love the scents that swirl around inside an old pickup. The Little Tree air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror is long past its freshening stage. I was a little sad. I wondered what Black Ice X-tra Strength smelled like. My brain is constantly deciphering the potpourri of airborne wonders wafting past my nose. One deep breath in and all those cherished childhood memories bumping around with my Dad in his pickup truck were revived.

A two-inch round chip in the windshield with an uncanny likeness to a bullet hole, lines up squarely between my eyes. Highway speeds give me a palpable feeling of vulnerability as my body slowly slouches down into the well-worn hollow of the seat on the driver’s side. Seventy mph seems like I’m exceeding her engine boundaries so I keep her five miles under the speed limit. Traffic passes me; make that everyone in the slow lane behind me, with an aggressive attitude. I notice their vehicles roll slightly from side to side from the sharp steering maneuver to cut in and out of the lanes at Nascar speeds. “How rude of them,” I think to myself. With a quick glance from the passing lane they think they know where the Red Ranger and I stand in the world. I take her daily doses of humility to heart.

I’m going to genuinely miss driving her when Sophie goes back to college at the end of the month. I didn’t expect the driving experience to be so fun. Her energy was more zoom zoom then chitty chitty bang bang. She’s slowed me down and sharpened an awareness with my surroundings. Every shift in our lives, up or down, is impeccably timed to slow us down or speed us up. On the winding road of life freewill may be doing the steering but a higher power is working the clutch and stick shift. Getting us where we need to be. When we need to be there. We are all vehicles of Spirit.

Seed Catalogs: Positive Propagation

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The woods are slow to fill up with snow and cold this winter. I have yet to wear more than one layer of wool when walking Wally. Old man winter’s unpredictable emotions keep me wary. The snow shovel and extra woollies will be kept within reach. Unable to enjoy the usual playful snow activities has left a void in this winter. Then with impeccable timing they came! Slow at first. Soon opening the mailbox needed to be done with great care. Or an avalanche of shiny slippery catalogs would land on the ground.

One staple of the dark white season I can always count on is currently piling up on my kitchen counter. I save them for those especially long dreary days—seed catalogs! They come at a time when forgiveness for last year’s garden disappointments is easy to offer up. I’m ready for another go at the garden’s blank canvas.

I have my favorites, the tried and true. Oh, but on the next catalog page I’m tempted to believe the “too good to be true”. The colorful photos and persuasively written descriptions fill me with anticipation. Small seeds of optimism take hold with a promise to grow.

Life is like a mailbox full of seed catalogs. You never know what opportunities optimism will grow.

Wishing you and yours the best from life in 2019.

Seed Catalog

Spring seed catalogs
loyal as my old dog
piled up on the table
a late winter mailbox staple.

Slippery glossy pages for some
no frills no fancy for others
black ink on plain paper
for this one.

New and improved promises to create
bountiful blooms on the garden’s clean slate
last year’s disappointments easily forgiven
with one glance to the next page
I escape from winter’s white prison.

Favorite varieties come first
the tried and true-blue
but then there are the new
that make you utter, “Oooo”!
Could they be too good to be true?

Colorful descriptions shout
no pest no drought will kill you out
this one will grow anywhere
without a doubt!

In deep winter optimism can be hard to muster
these light moments keep their luster
dog-eared pages mark the best
scorn the limits on the sum to invest!

MrsbusdriverladyAngie

Every year the school year begins with a new crop of little ones on my school bus—4Ker’s. They are four-year-old kindergartners filled with fear, excitement and every emotion in between. We are into the second week of school here in Wisconsin. I am beginning to see their individual personality’s blossom. There is nothing like a new clutch of four-year-olds to teach the virtues of a good sense of humor.

Usually I tell the little ones to call me, Ms. Angie or Angie. This year I have a sweet little 4K boy that insists on addressing me as, MrsbusdriverladyAngie. He is bursting with questions about the in’s and out’s of riding on a school bus. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to hear them because our conversations go something like this…

4K Boy: “Mrsbus…..driver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriver…”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “Mrsbusdriverlady?”

Me: “What do you need Hun?”

4K Boy: “I forgot your name.”

Me: “Angie”

4K Boy: “MrsbusdriverladyAngie.”

Me: “Yes?”

4K Boy: “I forgot my question?”

Repeat conversation every 5-10 minutes until you reach the school.

I thought he would tire of the long winded introduction by now but he shows no signs of shortening the preface to my name. He is a bright colored blossom!  It is with great honor and dignity that I have decided to accept the title of MrsbusdriverladyAngie bestowed upon me by a gusty four-year-old. Life is so much easier with a good sense of humor. When life tickles you don’t hold back the laugh.

“A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.” ~ William James