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That felt good

Glorious day. Seventy-five degrees under a blue sky, but still a distinct feel of fall.

Our walks in the woods have been short and halting since May — first because of my ankle and increasingly because Robbie’s getting so old. I walk a little bit, slowly, while Ava runs ahead. Then I stop to wait for the old boy. Not to wait for him to catch up, but just to come into sight. He’s fine on the familiar old roads with their high banks of berry bramble; can’t wander off and get lost. But he’s good for only a few hundred yards and a lot of stopping to smell pee on the roses. I wait for him just to see me and be reassured (both of us), then I move on. Eventually, though, we turn back sooner than we’d like.

Yesterday on our afternoon walk, Robbie picked up an elk bone that’s sufficiently putrescine and cadaverine to please the least refined doggie palate. He brought it home in the car (windows open, fans blasting), but Ava’s been dominating it most of the time since.

Today when Ava dropped it to get in the car, Robbie glommed onto it and said no thanks to a ride into the woods. So Ava and I went out to a favorite long-walk place and we walked and walked and walked — and at a good pace, besides.

It wasn’t anything that would impress a serious hiker, but enough to work up a nice sweaty glow and a good heart rate. Felt wonderful in the cool woods and the brilliant blue weather. It was great watching Ava dance ahead and not worry about Robbie lingering behind.

I felt guilty for being glad he wasn’t with us, though.


When we came home, I discovered an auto transport blocking the road just beyond the house. A shiny orange hot rod rode the top deck. The lower held a gaudy classic motorcycle and a dignified yet sporty steel gray Volvo. Vintage stuff. (Don’t think clunky, boxy Volvo. Think two-seater sports car.)

I walked over to enjoy something you don’t see around here every day, and now I know what my silent neighbor’s been working on in his garage so many late nights. That restored Volvo is on its way from the PNW boonies to a new home someplace in Europe.

“I could see myself driving a car like that,” I told the silent neighbor’s mother.

“Well, he has another one he’s about to start on …”

“Yeah, but I can’t see myself paying for a car like that. Not the type that gets sold to Europe, thank you.”

Sure was beautiful, though. I loved that subdued steely gray on the sporty design. Aside from the Avanti, the Mercedes 450SL Roadster and maybe the Delorean DMC-12 (even the non-time-machine models), I don’t think I’ve seen any vehicle so elegant and so spicy at the same time.


  1. jed
    jed September 29, 2015 8:34 pm

    Oh, I wish I’d been there to see that Volvo. I tell myself that if a sufficient amount of money were to show up, an 1800 would be fun project to undertake. The Avanti just leaves me cold. Too quirky, perhaps – not traditional-looking enough. Now, for Mercedes, how about the 300SL gullwing?

    TXCOMT September 29, 2015 9:46 pm

    Hah! I knew without clicking the link you were talking about an 1800! Those things are indeed rare, especially here in Texas. I appreciate that you appreciate such an attractive machine…what a neat side of you, Claire!

    Keep up the good work!


  3. Pat
    Pat September 29, 2015 11:37 pm

    I’m not a car aficionado, but I did like the Avanti — *because* of its quirkiness. The first one I ever saw, I remember walking all around it, looking and thinking, “If only I could…”

  4. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 3:45 am

    “how about the 300SL gullwing?”

    Okay, we can add that to the list, along with the 1957 hardtop Thunderbird (with portholes).

    But that’s it for my personal list of fantasy cars I could actually see myself driving. YMMV, of course.

  5. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 3:47 am

    “I appreciate that you appreciate such an attractive machine…”

    Thank you for the nice words, TXCOMT. I have to admit this was a car I don’t think I’d ever even heard of before yesterday, so if you knew what it was before clicking, you are waaaaay ahead of me.

    Now that I’ve seen one up close, though, I waaaaaant!

  6. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 3:50 am

    “I did like the Avanti β€” *because* of its quirkiness”

    Yes! Quirky elegance. Quirky rightness. Not quirky-gimmicky, but quirky “this is what a car ought to look like and why hasn’t anybody thought of it before?”

    Cars are so bland and all-alike these days. At a glance, it’s hard to tell the fanciest Mercedes or BMW from the cheapest Honda, the sportiest model from the stodgiest. Back then, you didn’t have to think about it. One look and you knew

  7. david
    david September 30, 2015 5:21 am

    I used to have to carry Fred when he got old and ill. He’d walk until he couldn’t, and I carried him back. He weighed all of 16 pounds, so not a big deal. Besides, “he ain’t heavy, he’s my dog”. Well, he was my dog. (tears)

  8. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 5:51 am

    Ohhh, awwwwww, ohgod that breaks my heart, david. Good dogfather, you.

    Robbie weighs in at 50 pounds — and even in his decrepitude it’s solid bully-dog muscle. I have to lift him onto the couch and into the car, but heaven forbid I should have to carry him on a walk. I would, though, if it came to that. Once. It would probably be The Last Walk.

  9. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 30, 2015 6:52 am

    I’ve never been “into” cars much, since they’re just another tool to me, but I did fall in love with one once. πŸ™‚ When I was a junior in high school, a senior boy had a 1955 Chevy four door, in cherry and white, with white leather interior. He kept it immaculate, and I don’t believe there was a scratch on it. He actually took some of us for a ride occasionally, his steady girlfriend always in the front passenger seat. Nice guy, and rich. Wonder what happened to him… πŸ™‚ Don’t even remember his name or what he looked like, but I can close my eyes and see the car any time, even after 53 years.

  10. Laird
    Laird September 30, 2015 8:00 am

    FWIW, Claire, I own a 1981 Delorean (original owner). Don’t drive it much (my daily vehicle is a Ford F150). I’d sell it to you, but I don’t think you want to pay for it!

  11. J Lyn Morris
    J Lyn Morris September 30, 2015 8:04 am

    Good golly….I’m sooooo embarrassed! My first car, fire-engine-red VW Bug at 20 years of age, and nothing but Bugs for the next 45 years. For me the absolute control of a little engine with stick power got me out of so many traffic jams and near accidents….nothing but a Bug would do. Oh yes, I too kinda drooled at the classy sports numbers, but my Bug kept me humble. LOL

  12. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 30, 2015 8:16 am

    I believe the first car that went over one million miles was a Volvo P1800.

    I too had a real itch for those Mercedes 300 SL gullwings. However take a look at this article:

    And that is only going back to 1990! Those old cars seem exceedingly crude to our modern tastes. I once did a test drive of a Jaguar XK140:

    I was amazed at how truck-like it felt, and I don’t mean a modern truck, I mean a truck from the 1960’s. Driving it was awful.

    Those old cars are for restoring and polishing and entering in a Concourse. Not for driving! πŸ™‚

  13. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 8:23 am

    Laird — OMG, I worship the ground you walk on. Well, maybe not quite, but I surely am impressed. And being an original owner, too.

    Yes, I have some idea what Deloreans cost; I know it’s all over the place, but even the lowest-priced are beyond my fantasies. I will stick with Old Blue and hope the Elio makes it to market.

    Gorgeous car, the Delorean. Love the stainless steel. Outrageous what the fedgov did to John Delorean.

  14. jed
    jed September 30, 2015 10:49 am

    Have a look at the Lancia Scorpion. Too bad it’s actually a Fiat underneath, and had to get modified for US importation. Across the pond, it’s known as the Montecarlo.

    Dream cars? 1963 Corvette split-window coupe. Bug-eye Sprite. Hispano-Suiza 1924 Nieuport Speedster.

  15. Shel
    Shel September 30, 2015 11:12 am

    Certainly, whatever you can do to make Robbie’s last days as enjoyable as possible will benefit you both. One possibility, perhaps, is protecting him from what is now unfair competition with Ava, although I understand the argument that we shouldn’t interfere, etc. If he hadn’t been so concerned with the bone, he might have been able to enjoy a walk.

    Don’t think getting him acupuncture treatments would be cost effective, though.

  16. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 11:55 am

    Shel — Holy cr*p, what a weird story. I used to have a chiropractor who’d come out and do treatments, including acupuncture, on a dog for nothing. $140,000 a year??? Only in Hollywood.

    And you gotta love all those people who who claim Simon gave them “verbal assurances.” Uh huh, bazillionaires who set up trusts and write wills aren’t particularly known for going around giving “verbal assurances” instead of putting things in writing.

    He surely did mean for his pooch to go on getting treatments, though. Definitely weird.

    As to Robbie and Ava, they’re actually good. Robbie still bosses her when he’s got a mind to, and she can only take advantage of him when he gives her an opportunity. And I must admit that he’s reached the point where a stinky disgusting bone on a warm day is probably more pleasant for him than tromping through the woods on his bad legs.

  17. Claire
    Claire September 30, 2015 2:38 pm

    trying2b —

    How sad. How depressing. How completely unsurprising. πŸ™ Thanks for the link. Eric Peters is always worth reading.

    Maybe the sameness of so many other vehicles is one reason people are excited about the Elio and other up-and-coming autocycles.

  18. david
    david September 30, 2015 5:37 pm

    Claire – there’s more to the Fred story. He came to us for fostering when he was 9, and he’d been in 5 ‘forever’ homes already. For some reason, he had a hatred for men. Not all men, just the man in the house – me at that time. He also had 3 scald spots on his back. He couldn’t be adopted out because of biting, and in fact he threatened to bite me every time I got close to him for 3 years (and did a few times). Then one night I slept on the couch where he usually slept. He crawled all over me changing his position every 15 minutes or so, which meant not much sleep, but after that he was less interested in biting me and more tolerant of me.

    Once he started into kidney failure he needed help to do a lot of things, and I’d just say ‘let daddy help’ and do what I could to help him – it was mostly climbing the deck stairs and things like that. But he came to trust me and to depend on me. When it was time to ‘give him mercy’, I held him until he was gone. And now I still cry when I think about him months later. It was so hard to gain his trust, that it made the trust – when it did show up – incredibly special. I’ve had dogs all my life (and I’m ‘officially’ old), and only once before Fred did I cry like that when I lost one.

  19. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau September 30, 2015 7:16 pm

    [Bug-eye Sprite.]

    I had one of those, when I was stationed in Hawaii (fairly common there for some reason). Not the sort of car one usually thinks of as a dream car. πŸ™‚

    D-Type Jaguar? Ferrari 275GTB? Shelby Cobra? Lamborghini Miura? Lotus Super Seven?

    Then there is the ultimate, the BMW Isetta.

  20. trying2b-amused
    trying2b-amused September 30, 2015 9:57 pm


    Glad to provide enlightenment, apologies for it not being the cheerful sort.

    “Maybe the sameness of so many other vehicles is one reason people are excited about the Elio and other up-and-coming autocycles.”

    No doubt that’s a part of it, but the primary motivator is likely economic. On that subject, here’s more Eric Peters:

    If you want to look on the bright side, what’s technically possible now is nothing short of astounding. In a way, though, that just makes it worse, at least for me. What depresses me is not so much how bad things are, but the reason they’re bad: almost entirely just bad thinking. Such a trivial thing, in one sense, in another, seemingly insurmountable.

  21. jed
    jed October 1, 2015 11:05 am

    Then there is the ultimate, the BMW Isetta. Or, the Messerschmitt KR200. That’s sort of a precursor to the Elio.

    The list of “dream cars” is pretty long. Has to include the Ariel Atom. And the McLaren F1 too. Dive back into automotive history, and you can come up with a lot of gems, though they might be rough by today’s yardstick.

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