A Thanks to Our “VAE Family” and…

The first thing I want to say this month is a heartfelt “Thank You” for the caring condolence cards sent us by VAE members after Wendell’s mother passed away in December. She was 107 years old, which was amazing, but she truly was an amazing lady and gave a whole new meaning to “Mother-in-law”. She was “Mom” to me as well as Wendell. Makes me glad all over again to be part of the VAE family! Our VAE Christmas party seemed like a family get-together as do most of our meetings. How often do we actually look forward to a “meeting”?? Now for something completely different.

I was recycling the other day and noticed, once again, how many people don’t bother to read what is accepted as recyclable. I grant that most, at least, aren’t tossing it out their car windows, but that’s another story. Apparently our legislators aren’t doing a very good job either, according to an article in the Burlington Free Press recently. Which brings me to mention throwing trash in with recyclables, tossing plastic silverware and glasses away when they can be washed and reused. It really doesn’t take much time to rinse out cartons, jars and cans, fold out cardboard boxes, remove small lids. And then there’s soda cans and bottles that are returnable for money – they should be rinsed out as well. Our son, in his younger days, worked in a bottle return center and I always think of the yucky smell, especially beer cans and bottles, and particularly in the summer. So I’m a little fanatical about this subject. Of course, there is also my wanting to ‘clear up’ after a meal or a meeting, which goes back to my waitressing days. It drives Wendell a little crazy, but I just feel I have to help “neaten” up, clustering the cups and glasses, etc., for easier removal by our server. My fellow writer, Nancy Olney, and I are on the same page with this “neatening up”, should I say, hang-up!? Anyone who has been to our home probably wonders why I don’t practice what I preach – my answer is, too busy baking!

As The Leaves Are Falling…

…As the leaves are falling, old cars are being readied for their winter rest, gardens mulched and the lawn mowers put away, I watch farmers trying to get in their corn, chop the last loads of silage, and, of course, spread that aromatic slurry, I marvel at their tenacity in keeping their family farms intact and maybe make enough money to be debt-free. That ethic, in my opinion, is the best of Vermont. Wouldn’t it be nice if those who wish to demonstrate, wave signs, and do “sit-ins” put their energy and enthusiasm into helping folks trying to recover from tropical storm Irene or even help out on a farm. How much better off we would all be if that time and energy were put into producing material well-being. And there are jobs to be had; nothing wrong with a “menial” job – we can’t all be, or want to be, CEO’s. It is necessary to take the first step to get to the next one.

While in high school, I worked as a waitress, in a shop at a golf course (never did play golf), babysat and when in college, tutored a student who was dyslexic. She once asked me how you look up the spelling of a word in the dictionary, if you don’t know how to spell it. Good question since we didn’t have spell-check, let alone computers! I guess my point is, there should be a “point” to what we do in life, and we are so very lucky to live in a country where we have the opportunity to do so. See, I didn’t even mention manual transmissions or trash thrower outers!

The Tropical Storm and…

Trying to think of a “Softer Side” topic, I initially drew a blank, so I picked up a new, yellow, lined pad of paper for inspiration. Hmmm, not so inspiring after all. Then came tropical storm Irene and the havoc it wreaked on Vermonters. We were in northern Maine that weekend for a family reunion, where there is no cell phone or radio reception. There were lots of relatives, pine trees, lakes and loons, but no information on the storm‘s track. The last we knew Friday morning when we left home, was that it shouldn‘t affect us until late Sunday afternoon. We left Maine early on Sunday, not knowing anything until well into Vermont. Thanks to VAE member, Ken Squire’s reporting on radio station WDEV, operating on generator power, we were guided safely across northern Vermont and all was well, but, oh, poor central and southern Vermont! Reports of Vermonters helping Vermonters, including several VAE members, men, women and schoolchildren all were working to restore power, repair roads, clean up people‘s homes and posses-sions, bringing in food and water, rescue and recovery operations, were so heartwarming. Such a lot of courage and resilience was shown by all involved. On the lighter side, we have been enjoying the Mountain Slow Spokes and Gypson Tours lately. What is especially enjoyable about old car touring is the great reception you get from people as you drive by. Most people notice and give you a smile and a wave. They all appreciate and are glad to see you. We even pulled up alongside a State trooper who rolled down his window and gave us a thumbs-up, even though we didn‘t have an inspection sticker. When you are in an old car, everyone is your friend. What a shame that some folks miss this experience, and don‘t even realize they are missing it. One can drive an expensive sports car and get attention, but the reaction from observers is more of a single finger wave, than those smiles and waves our classic cars receive. As VAE members, we treasure that reaction and hope more folks will be eager to take the road to that same experience.

You Want Character… Live on a Dirt Road

There has been a lot of complaining in the media, diners, coffee shops, etc., about poor road conditions, from pot holes to mud bogs, now flooding. We live on a dirt road, and, in fact, with each new Town Manager, we bring him or her a copy of a piece entitled “Dirt Roads”. A quote from it says, “People who live at the end of dirt roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride”. Thus dirt roads give one character. We do not want our dirt road paved as we need all the “character” we can get. I guess “character” started when we had to walk to view this house with the realtor as the road was a mud bog – but we still bought it! Just like our vintage cars, the roads we drive them on need maintenance. This is particularly true for dirt roads. Technically, of course, the Town is responsible for road maintenance, but they need a little help from the taxpayers to let them know what is needed and where. There are two approaches to doing this, the positive and the negative. Although some people don’t seem to understand this, the negative approach gets negative results and the positive approach gets positive results. With the negative approach, you make a phone call to the highest possible town managerial level, and speak loudly to be sure you are understood. Be sure to mention your credentials in terms of taxes paid and political clout. Also mention your assessment of their credentials and then explain what you want done. This will definitely get results. For example, during a winter snow storm, your road will be widely plowed, giving the mailman easy access to where your mailbox used to be. The positive approach doesn’t require any phone calls. I’ve found that a periodic stop at the town garage with a tin of sticky buns or whoopee pies gets very positive results. Our road is frequently graveled, graded, raked and chlorided to keep the dust down. That’s how they let me know when some more treats would be in order. Just as a little attention and TLC keep our vintage cars running smoothly, the softer touch keeps the roads smooth. Now don’t let me get started on people who feel a dirt road is a good place for their trash to be tossed. There is not enough room to cover that!

The Epiphany That Created An Enthusiast

As a one-time “old car widow”, I have experienced an epiphany! When my husband first joined the Vermont Automobile Enthusiasts, one of my friends suggested with great sympathy, that going to meetings and events would be just old car “stuff” and boring talk about old car “stuff”. I tended to agree with her, so Wendell and I reached an accord in that he wouldn’t require my presence at VAE activities if he didn’t have to go to craft fairs. At some point I decided I should be a little supportive since he was so enthusiastic and worked so hard to fix up our 28 Dodge coupe. I remember a phone call from him during the Shelburne car show asking if I’d be o.k. with him buying another car, a Plymouth roadster ( we really did “need” a car with a rumble seat). I, of course, was at a craft fair. Despite my surprise at the “consult” and having no clue what a “roadster” meant, of course I agreed and he was a happy man, a very good thing. When I started to attend meetings with him, I found myself meeting a lovely group of men and women whom I otherwise wouldn’t have met. They welcomed me and made me feel needed. Since I pretty much live to be useful and to feed people (ask any of our family), the potluck meetings fulfilled that desire. When Wendell became activities chair, requiring us to bring the basics for dinners, the “new fangled” coffee pot was a challenge, but again, there was always help. And, by golly, the meetings and events were fun, informative and interesting – and that Stowe show flea market turned out to be a bonanza of really good “stuff” I could relate to while the guys talked cars. To complete my “epiphany”, when we recently attended the Farm Show in Barre, just like my experience at VAE meetings, I noticed how pleasant and friendly people there were – they would smile back at you, something sadly lacking in most crowds these days. It is very good to be surrounded by “real” people. So, I guess this makes me an “auto enthusiast” for life, as VAE members are, like, totally real. Ladies, give it a try!