Now, we are definitely ready for our closeup!

We’ve been agonizing about this for months especially since the “new” car has been having problems. We bought our PT Cruiser in 2007. Finished paying for it a year and a half ago. Been luxuriating since then in not having a car payment.



But each winter, when our driveway becomes the bunny slope of our personal ski resort — which would be more fun if either of us were ski bunnies — the car won’t get us up the driveway. Not even when there’s just a little bit of snow, much less a big one or a blizzard.


With tonight predicted to be the first hard freeze of the year and winter lurking in the background, we bought a car. Not a brand new one.

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The price of new cars has gone way above our pay grade, but we got a newer car. With four-wheel drive.

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We spent most of the day at the dealer … which is why I was missing pretty much all day. We were talking. Negotiating. Then signing papers, talking to the insurance agent, signing more papers. Then, more papers … and then … it was ours.

It’s a 2012 Jeep Patriot. Red. Cute. Bob Mielke, who now lives here, had the wit to bring a camera when they delivered the car. Yes, they delivered the car and drove away the old one. Here are Bob’s pictures.

Blow ye north wind. We have a car that will make it up and out of the driveway, even after the snow flies. We will need to pay for it, of course, but life carries a price tag … and we needed a car.



I live in a town that has no public transportation. None at all. Not a bus or even a taxi. These pictures were taken elsewhere, the first in Connecticut and the second (Garry’s) near Lake Otsego, where public transportation can be found.


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Feet are the only kind of transportation available locally.




My son took these pictures on a slow, rainy train journey through the swamps and woods of the Blackstone Valley. They have lain here, in my files, waiting for a time to properly present them. A little processing to make them more painterly … and they are ready.




The tracks are old and narrow and the train, which runs once a week and goes from one yard to another, never exceeds five miles per hour.


I haven’t gotten out much during the past 6 weeks. Since the first blizzard at the end of January, merely walking up the icy driveway to the car has been a big deal. Roads have been icy, air bitterly cold. Visibility down to zero as the snow falls. Crazy drivers who think their SUV makes them immune to weather, who then have accidents which tie up traffic for hours.


It’s a mad, mad, mad world on the highway, but here in the U.S.A., we love our cars and will drive them no matter what. Besides, a lot of places, you don’t have any choice. Small town America has no public transportation. Not even a taxi. You drive or you walk. Most of us drive.

Today, I had to get to the doctor’s office. It’s a 45 minutes drive, more or less, depending on traffic. As soon as I said “depending on traffic,” I realized Garry and I say that every time we go anywhere. It doesn’t matter what time of year, either. One way or another, it always depends on traffic.


How much time do we spend in our cars? How many weeks and months do we spend sitting, waiting for traffic to clear?  What percentage of our lives do we waste maddened by slow drivers, distracted drivers, stoned or drunk drivers, and plain old bad drivers? I’m sure it’s a calculable percentage for someone sophisticated in statistics. Not me, but someone.

Add together the vagaries of traffic and delays caused by weather — rain, wind, snow, ice, heat. Adding factor “X” to time allowed to travel anywhere from a quick trip to the grocery, to a doctor’s appointment, concert, or 1000 mile driving holiday. Visiting friends, going to work, coming home. Life depends on traffic.


We try to make appointments for times when traffic is light, but no matter how carefully you plan, you can’t control construction, rubbernecking, accidents, or a jack-knifed semi. Or a road flooded by a river risen over its banks or a road which dead-ends at a washed-out bridge.

Whether it’s ice on the road, high winds on the bridge, or a flat tire changer on the expressway — at rush hour — planning only gets you so far. The rest depends on traffic.