Gauge Free November

While we were living in England, I didn’t drive mostly because I enjoyed being chauffeured around by my husband so much. Also I just couldn’t get used to driving on the other side of the road. I tried a few times, and it was frightening.

Now that we’re back in the US, I’m driving again. I’m a constant gauge checker when I drive. I don’t just check to make sure I’m going exactly five miles over the speed limit. I’ve always treated the speed limit as a loose suggestion give or take five. I also check the temperature gauge constantly. I have a fear of the car overheating. It’s probably because our car in England used to overheat in traffic all the time.

Last week, I was driving home from my parents house, and I was so wrapped up in gauge checking that I drove up onto the median. Luckily, it was late and there were no other cars around to witness my insanity. I didn’t cause any accidents or anything. It would’ve been funny if a cop saw me because he probably would’ve assumed I was drunk. While I was drunk on the joy of life, no alcohol had passed these lips … unless my mother shot the pomegranate she gave me up with vodka.

I wasn’t drunk. I was just trying to be a conscientious driver. Try explaining that to someone when you just rear-ended them because you were checking your temperature gauge more than looking at the road. That hasn’t happened yet, but if I don’t get my act together it could. That’s why I’m quitting cold turkey. I will not look at another gauge again for the whole month of November, not a temperature gauge or a pressure gauge or a man named Gauge. They’re all off limits. Let’s make this a safe, happy, gauge free November.


Walking the Cat

So you all know about my latest obsession with dogs which is much different than my obsession with foxes because I could actually get a pet dog one day. I guess I could get a pet fox too, but that’s not as easy as just popping by the pound and picking one up.

I keep trying to imagine my pet dog and what she might be like. I scroll through the SPCA website and pick out contenders. I think I’ll name my dog Lettuce. I’ve decided that’s a good doggy name. I’m also going to get a cat and name him Bacon. Every time I tell my husband that I plan on teaching Bacon to walk on a leash he looks at me like I’m crazy.

“You take dogs for walks, why can’t you take a cat?” I say.

“You just don’t,” he says.

My husband obviously has no vision. He has no idea that I’m going to start a world wide cat and dog walking trend. I imagine myself walking Bacon and Lettuce together on a leashes through my new sidewalk filled neighborhood. It will be great. We’ll get so much exercise and I’ll be totally in control. People will point and say look at that lady walking a cat and a dog on leashes. I’ll wave and smile with pride.

Everyone will think, “Gee that lady has a good idea.” Before you know it in every country in the land people will start waking their cats and dogs together. Inspired by the new found harmony between cat and dog all people will stop fighting and peace will spread across the Earth. All of this walking will cure the obesity epidemic and people will be healthier.

The world will be a much better place just because I taught my cat to walk on a leash with a dog. Once they get the walking down I’m going to teach my dog to drive a car and my cat to read a map.

Now I just need to get the cat and dog.

The Rules of Speeding

Now that I’m in the States and driving again, I’m reminded that I come from a family with a rare genetic condition called lead foot. While I’ve been trying to keep mine under wraps by only driving when no one else was in the car to notice, the other day my stepson bore witness to my problem.

I know speed limits are a good idea. They keep us safe and all that, but they also tend to generally slow one down. I understand the problem that Sammy Hagar lamented in the song I Can’t Drive 55. I would change the lyrics to I can’t drive 65, especially on a bridge.

In Pinellas County we have a lot of bridges or causeways. I’m not sure what the difference is between a bridge and a causeway, and I’m too lazy to look it up. My guess is that a causeway is a bridge that is so dangerously close to the water’s surface that in bad weather the waves threaten to splash up onto the road.

Anyway, in my estimation you can drive at least 10 miles over the speed limit on a bridge or causeway. Everyone knows that once your car is over water anything goes. Everyone expect the police officers that are always trying to pull people over for speeding on the bridge. Don’t they know that that’s dangerous!

Anyway the increased speed limit on the bridge is well known. People in souped up Honda Civics roar past me all the time on the bridge. It is an unwritten rule of driving. My husband would tell you that it’s so unwritten that I made it up, but he’d be wrong. So let’s say the speed limit is 65 which every one knows really means that you can safely drive between 70 and 75 without expecting to get a ticket from any reasonable police officer. That means that once you’re over water you can drive between 80 and 85 and it’s totally legal. I’d probably have difficulty explaining this to a cop if I get pulled over though.

Photo by dlofink

The Bottle Massage

I used to be a massage therapist, but I stopped working professional a few years ago and have since let my license lapse. When we first got married I taught me husband some massage techniques so when he had sore muscles he could treat himself. He’s really gotten into it and massages himself quite often. He even events new massage techniques. Some are better then others.

Recently, he’s taken to massaging himself with a glass bottle. He likes to use this massage technique while he’s driving. He uses the bottle to give himself a full body massage. It sounds dangerous to me, but I guess it’s better than napping while driving or changing his clothes.

Last week his bottle massage went horribly wrong. “I think I broke a rib,” he admitted at dinner the other day. Apparently, he tried massaging his chest muscles to vigorously and injured himself.

Whatever he’s done, I doubt he’s broken his ribs. That would take a lot of force, but I’m sure he’s damaged a muscle somehow with his crazy massage techniques.

The Invention

My husband: I’m thinking of making an invention.

Me: Really? What?

My husband: It’ll be the right hand part of the bass–small so I can take it in the car with me. I can practice plucking rhythms while I’m driving.

Translation: Reading, changing my clothes, playing the harmonica, and napping while driving isn’t dangerous enough. I’ve been trying to think of a way to make it even more exciting.

Drive My Car

Okay, so here’s the truth. I’ve been here for nearly a year and still haven’t started driving. I drove when we visited Florida for the Christmas holiday, but I’ve managed to avoid getting behind the wheel of a car in England. Isn’t that pitiful?

Part of the problem is that I don’t really like to drive. I never have. In New Jersey, you can’t get your license until you’re 17, and I was in no hurry to get mine. I think I was forced to learn to drive by my parents. They were probably tired of driving me around everywhere. Even after I learned, I hardly ever drove.

My mother’d say, “Why don’t you drive around the corner and get some things I need from the store for dinner.”

“How ’bout I walk around the corner?” I’d always say.

Then my reluctance to drive was fear mainly. I was inexperienced and terrified of getting into an accident. While I’m still terrified of getting into an accident, I have to say that now my reluctance is more laziness than anything else. I’d much rather do something other than concentrate on the rode when I’m in the car.

I’m considering hiring a driver. I think that would be a good solution to this problem. I could climb into the back seat of our 13-year-old Peugeot 106 that sounds like a tractor when you start it  and say, “Driver, take to the grocery store.”

“Right away,” he’d say. He’d wear a black suit, chauffeur’s cap and white gloves.

That would be great!

My husband doesn’t like wearing a suit, but maybe I could get him to put on a chauffeur’s cap and white gloves when he drives me to the mall this afternoon.

The Great Space Coaster

I’ve written quite a bit about my husband’s unusual driving habits. Well today he displayed a new one.

I put a post on one of my other blogs about how to save money on gas. My husband has been coasting to save money–I’ve written about that before. Today I was telling him that one of the ways to save money on gas was to avoid idling your engine. Just as I said that, the person in the car next to us at the red light started his engine.

“That’s a great idea!” my husband exclaimed. “That’s how you avoid idling.”

After that he started turning off the engine while he coasted to a red light. Then he turned the engine back on just before the light turned green.

I was freaking out the whole time, of course. I think it’s a dangerous practice and hope it won’t become a habit.

He recently learned a lesson about changing his clothes while driving. He tried to change his shirt while going 80 on 275 and the shirt got stuck on his head so he couldn’t see. He said it was the most terrifying few seconds of his life.

Property Appraiser

Recently, I’ve developed a new habit. It reflects my natural curiosity–my need to know. I look up people I know on the property appraiser’s website. If they own a home or condo and I know their last names, I look them up.

This might not seem interesting to most, but I like knowing how much someone paid for their home. Before I learned that I could just look it up, I used to wonder. It’s not something that’s considered polite to ask, especially if you don’t know the person that well. I can speculate but speculation isn’t as good as hard fact.

Now I can go to someone’s house for dinner, already knowing that they paid under $100,000 for their home 5 years ago and it’s almost tripled in value since. I know the home’s square footage, age, composition, and what work they’ve had done (if they’ve gotten the proper permits). It takes every ounce of self control not to tell them I know.

The most shocking thing about my new found knowledge is knowing what people pay in taxes. Some people pay as much as I earn in a year in taxes! Is that a reflection of how little I earn or how high taxes are?

On Monday we went to a friend’s house for dinner. We’d never been to their house before so my husband was supposed to call them to get their address. I had him call as a courtesy. But we didn’t really need their address; I’d already looked them up on the property appraiser website.


With gas prices steadily rising, everyone is trying to find a way to cut down on fuel consumption. My husband thinks he has found the ideal way to cut down on his fuel consumption. He coasts.

“I’ve already noticed a difference,” he said as we crept down a residential street with the car in neutral. “I haven’t even touched the gas once.” He had a look of glee on his face.

I nervously checked the mirror to make sure no one was behind us. It didn’t seem like a good idea to me.

“Don’t worry. There’s no one behind us,” he said before putting the car in gear and stepping on the gas. This is my husbands answer to a hybrid car. I guess he’ll be doing this until we can afford to buy one.

He figures that when he’s driving downhill, approaching a stop, or exiting the interstate, he can coast. He can also coast when he’s built up enough speed to go for a while without stepping on the gas. That sounded okay to me until he drove on the shoulder of the on ramp to I-275. “I have to make the turns wide so I get the most out of it,” he said. I still don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. I just gripped the door handle and hoped we didn’t end up in the grass.

I don’t think saving gas is worth endangering your life or aggravating other drivers. I coast when approaching a stop, but that’s all the coasting I do.