From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Confessions of an American Driver

Money in the gas tank, time on the road, miles on the cars!



This week has contained a lot of driving so far. Yesterday, I went to town twice. The first time, I ran errands and went to the Y and the library. Then in the evening, I took Isaac to WalMart to get a few more survival supplies for an all-day, outdoor rock concert he attended today. The second trip should have been unnecessary, but we had forgotten something important.

Today, I got up at 5:00 to make sure that Isaac was awake and functioning. He left for Hopkinsville at 5:30, met some friends, and went with them to St. Louis (actually, Maryland Heights, MO) for the Vans Warped Tour. A few hours later, I drove to Nashville and picked up Dennis at the airport. He has spent a week with his sister in Washington D.C.

After the trip home and lunch, I went to town and got my computer out of the shop. (Hurray! Isaac wasn't here and Dennis went to bed early, so I had a good chance to reinstall a lot of programs and get the computer somewhat reorganized this evening.)

Isaac came in from the concert around 11 p.m, sunburned, but not as terribly as he would have been without sunscreen and a hat. Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to town with him to buy his books, to walk at the Y, and then to play the piano at the mid-week service at church.

Keely called and said that "Sidney" (her car, a '97 Buick Skylark) is making a bad noise. I don't know how many miles the car has on it now but it's surely well over 150,000. It was a used car when we got it. Dennis drove it to work at Fort Campbell for a couple years, I drove it for about a year, and now Keely has had it for a couple of years.

She has an appointment tomorrow to get an estimate for repairing it. If repair will be too expensive, I guess we'll sell it for scrap and find another car for her. She might manage without a car at school, but it would be difficult. Murray doesn't have public transport, and she lives across town from the college. I feel that her trips to campus are safer in a car. Also, I want her to come home now and then!

We know a man who buys broken cars, fixes them, and resells them. Usually, he has some reasonably priced cars. Before Dennis had the '97 Skylark, he had a Honda that we bought from this guy. After a year and a half of hard driving back and forth to Fort Campbell, we sold it for nearly as much we paid for it. May we be so fortunate again!

One bad thing about country life is the vehicle and gasoline expense. For us, the trip to town and back is never less than 20 miles, and it's a 30-mile round trip if we go to the far end of town (where our church is.) The cost of driving limits the sorts of jobs I consider taking, the organizations I join, and the extent of my volunteer-ism.

Then there's all the additional driving in town, no matter how efficiently the route is planned. The main shopping district is a long strip several miles long. Even if I wanted to walk, there are no sidewalks between the stores. Other places I go -- church, medical offices, public buildings, etc. -- are scattered all over town.

I enjoy my car, and I love living in the country, but to be honest, we should sell this place and move to town. We have no reason to live out this far -- except that we like the peace and quiet of this place. we've invested a lot of work in it, and we own it, free and clear.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.