“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Merge Like a Zipper

“Have you ever noticed when you’re driving that anyone who’s driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?”—George Carlin


"Merge Like a Zipper."


Some ingenious engineer created that sign for a bridge construction in Eugene, OR. (Or could it have been a copywriter?)


Their directive worked. 


People took turns. 


The traffic moved steadily.


Unlike downtown, where you can have your turn signal blinking for six blocks, people pretend they don't see it. I mentioned this to my contractor once—a friendly guy, and he says he does that. Hmm, I don't get it. 



Garrison Keillor motivated me to write this because I saw how people drive tells you something about their society. 


"Standing at 86th, waiting for a train," –Garrison Keillor


"The quickest way around town is the subway, where unemployed actors, highly paid CEOs, cleaning ladies, digital geniuses, and ordinary working stiffs merge in a river of humanity. There is no Business Class on the A train."


How cool is that?



Driving around the world:


Well, you can't drive around the world, but you can drive on parts of it. 


I am speaking generally, which I'm not supposed to do, but I'm doing it although I'm not supposed to. Did I just repeat myself?




Regarding seat belts, a Canadian sign says: "Be protected, not projected." And they have traffic calming zones in busy cities, plus people wait for you if you double park to receive or dislodge a passenger.







You know, as with many things, there is a spectrum of behaviors. It's not one size fits all, not with drivers, not with politics, not with religion, not with spirituality, not with most ideologies, not with drivers, and not with food.


(Hey, I like broccoli, but not restaurant broccoli. Restaurant broccoli must be the reason kids don't like broccoli. Broccoli must be prepared at home, fresh, steamed, slathered in butter, a squeeze of lemon on top, plus and pepper.)








One would imagine that California drivers, with their crowded freeways, four lanes going one way, four the other, 75 miles per hour, would be rude and uncaring to fellow drivers.


Nope. They wave you in if you are merging. They would wave a thank you if you have done them some courtesy. 


Sometimes, in large cities, people learn to look out for each other. Sometimes, they shoot them. It depends on the person. 


San Francisco:


I received more honks in San Francisco in one day than in the rest of my years. And I thought all the blood would run out of my leg when I had my foot on the brake at one of those hills. And then, standing at a San Francisco Crosswalk, someone honked at me. What the heck?




I was the designated driver when 2 friends and I toured Fermany's countryside. One friend loved to ask for directions so she could connect with a local. However, chances are they would tell us the wrong direction. Were they trying to confuse us, or did we get it wrong? 


We learned to go in the opposite direction they told us. We survived, and we never got permanently lost.


One fellow, when asked where a specific B & B was, said to follow him, and he drove his car there while we followed. 

On the Autobahn keep to the right, don't get in the way of those Mercedes, BMW, and Porsche drivers.




(Don't drive. Take the subway or bus.) On the street in Britain, I asked a droll fellow, who became animated when I asked him directions to a specific Glass shop. He went into the middle of the street (residential area) to show me.


Their Underground is great, It's logical, easy to maneuver, and it encircles the city, so if you get lost you will just circle around again. All stops exit the circle.



Whoa. this looks like a spaceship


If you want to go somewhere from your stop, walk it it's close, take a bus if it's far. 


Be sure and walk--you are in a museum.




In town:


Honestly, they have regular cars too, and look at this bus.



In the Country:


They drive in the middle of the road, honk at turns, and scare the bejeeses out of tourists.




Be careful with your speed in Hawaii. It's a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit all over the Big Island. And after 10 p.m., be extra cautious. A policeman stopped me once. I don't know how fast I was going, but he let me go when he realized I lived there. He could see I had a passenger beside me and a baby crying in the back seat and told me the crazies were out after 10 p.m. 


After 6 p.m., an officer stood at the ATM. I asked why the security? "Well," he said, "we had a robbery 6 years ago." 


I lost my sense of direction in Hawaii. I blamed it on visiting South Point, the southernmost spot of the United States, where there are basalt columns known to interfere with airplane's navigation systems. It is a place where navigators reset their instruments.


  This was our driveway, "The Green Trail of Bliss."



Back to the Orchard


Driving has been vital to me since I was twelve, and my dad needed me to drive the truck in the orchard. I would move it from one pick-up stop to the next so he could load tree prunings or boxes of fruit. 


I had a driving paper route for a summer job while in high school where I drove my dad's pickup and delivered papers into those cylinder boxes specially made for newspapers. I could slip a rolled-up newspaper into one of those boxes on the fly.


Now, I'm lucky to maneuver out of the driveway.


As soon as I got out of high school and had a job, I bought a car. Wheels meant freedom to me. 


On Our Street:

We have a bark mobile on our street. It’s quite annoying if you are out walking your dog. A fellow in a pickup, window down, dog heads out the window, drives around the neighborhood to the tune of two dogs barking.

I guess that’s instead of walking his dogs. 

And it's an outing for the dogs.


 To read conversation #9 which started as "Conversations Under The Maple," please go to 




All conversations are on Substack and it's FREE.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

It All Happened Here

Look closely under my desk, there's my little dog.


“I hate to break it to you, but your blog post is never going to be perfect. Ever.”—Lindsay Kalowich Cox (Hubspot)
 I have a wall hanging in my laundry room, it's a quote but with no credit to anyone: "Darling, a beautiful thing is never perfect."
 Well folks, how about that? It's better to get your writing out there and fine-tune later than to strive for perfection. Besides striving for perfection can drive you crazy. Don't tell my Physicist husband I said that.
This morning I was checking on how to make my blog more interesting, and ran into that bit of information, so I guess we can lighten up. 

I continue to be excited about what is happening with the group that gathered #under the maple, for recently their focus has taken an abrupt turn. It's fascinating how events can fall into place when people without an agenda instead of playing the "Ain't it awful game," can pool their resources and find a solution." 

The conversation continues:


“Sally, what’s wrong?”

“Twinkie and Shal, I’m happy for you. I really am… But inside, my heart is hurting so I can hardly breathe.”

 “What is it?”

‘I’m afraid I will have to sell my business.”

“What?” I thought you were doing well.”

“I thought I was doing all right. You know Hank got laid off during the pandemic, and they didn’t hire him back. He’s so well educated it’s hard to find an equivalent job. He’s lost his will. I thought the restaurant would support us, but we’re carrying a large mortgage on it, and a few years ago I took out a second mortgage. We have a balloon payment due, and not the funds to pay it. I think I will have to sell the building.”

“But then you will have no business,” says Shal.

“I know.”

“You could go bankrupt,” Harvey says.

“Yes, but that would destroy our credit for the next seven years. I don’t think I could run the business without credit. I know I sounded cavalier about my cooking, and commissioning a chandelier and all that. I wasn’t paying attention. I thought the restaurant was pretty much running itself. But it appears that when you take your eye off an endeavor it can run amuck. And my best cook moved across country. He got a better job. That was the final blow. And the rest aren’t Italian cooks.”

“You could train them.”

“Yes, hopefully.”

 “Oh Sally, how can we help?”

“By being here, I guess. A soft place to fall as you have said. I hate to talk about money, but that’s what’s happening. I’m so embarrassed.”

“These things happen,” sat Ollie. “Do you have any equity in the building?”

“Yes, the equity would pay off the bills. Real Estate has increased in value, thank God. It’s a good time to sell.”

 “But you are selling your business…”

“I know. It’s killing me.”

“What about having a food truck?” says Simad. “They are really popular in Portland.”

“Yeah, I know, but I see them sitting idle here in town, and I pride myself in serving fresh food.

I can’t see myself in a food truck. I believe my customers would lose faith in me. I’ve lost faith in me.”

 “Okay, Sally, we have six brains here. What can we do?”

“Just listen to me.”

“We’ve doing that,” says Ollie. “Do you mind if I ask how much would be left over after you’ve sold the building and paid off the bills?”

“Around $200,000, I figure. Not enough to get another building or a business started.”

“Wait a minute. Let’s consider some alternatives. You’re too good a cook to just stop.”

“Maybe a catering business,” says Harvey.

“That might work if I could get my kitchen certified for selling out of it.”

“You know,” said Twinkie,” I’ve looked into tiny Houses. What if you had a commercial kitchen in one. I think you can get one or build one for around $100,000.”

 “Where would I put it?”

“On my property!” Harvey yells. ”I have an acre, and that means I’m qualified for a second dwelling. Put it in Liz’s garden. What better honor than to serve a friend. I think I could get an easement to it through the neighbor’s field behind my house. I brought a Bob Cat tractor through there once. They seem to be generous folks.”

“This would need to zones for commercial,” said Shal.

“I’m grateful for it. Harvey would you really let me place a Tiny restaurant on your property?”

“Hell, I’ll build it for you.”

“I’ll build it with you,” says Shal. “I’d even quit my job for a piece of this action. This is a good business venture. They have offered me a severance package anyway, and I was thinking of dropping down to half time for the baby. This could be such fun.”

“But, we would have to stay within budget guys.”

“What say we buy stock in your company?” Harvey suggests.

“I’m not taking any of your money,” says Sally.

 “We’ll do grunt equity for a percentage of your company,” says Shal.

“You take 60%. We’ll divide up 40%. How does that sound? When the business takes off, we’ll take dividends. Or we could take a salary and be an employee-owned business.

“What grunt can I offer?” asks Twinkie.

“I would hire you as a waitress,” says Sally.

“I would love that. You pay me minimum wage and give me a percentage of the company and we’re on.”

“You’re on.”

“To be the majority shareholder, I would go with 51%,” says Sally. “That way, you guys could divide up even more. And we need to form an S-Corporation to avoid double taxation for everyone.

“Okay,” says Ollie, “you have Harvey and Shal as builders, Twink as waitress, Sally as cook. I can offer my networking system? I used to be a Real Estate Agent. I know a friendly Mortgage broker, and although I do not have a license, you can sell as owner, I will guide you and get a Real estate lawyer to write the contract. Will that earn me a spot?”

“Definitely.” Says Sally. “My head it spinning. Do you think we can work together as a team?”

“If we can’t, we haven’t earned our stripes as co-conspirators in life,” says Ollie. “We’re a Mastermind group aren’t we?”

“It works if you work it,” says Shal.

To be continued…