Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Love My Corolla

     Over the holidays, my family suggested that I think about trading in my 15 year old Corolla with 212,000 miles on it.  So, my brother and I went over to this place called Auction Direct and I test drove a 2012 Yaris.  I enjoyed the ride except for not being able to stretch my leg out.  On the driver's side, there is an airbag compartment placed near the knee.  In addition to making for an uncomfortable fit, imagine the damage to your knee if the airbag deployed.

    I liked the set up of Auction Direct.  I had an appointment to speak with someone, Matt.  He was low key, likable, and knowledgeable.  I enjoyed the organization of the place -- no music playing so you can think about decisions, no noisy salesmen.  Clean, airy place.  The salesmen supposedly don't get commisions and you pay the advertised price, no haggling.  Auction Direct offered an enjoyable experience and there is no pressure to buy.

     My next stop was a Toyota dealership.  Different story that left me feeling annoyed, stressed, and irritated, same with the Nissan dealership.  But I did love the Versa.  Plenty of leg room; great looking car.

    Next I thought I'd try out a Spark.  But after reading reviews about engines blowing after 2 years, that one was out.

     So, I decided to give my Toyota a facelift.  She needs a paint job, and a good cleaning.  Took her to Maaco and the owner/mechanic there talked about how well made the Corollas were and how they had been known for getting 400,000 miles.  I started to fall in love all over again with her.  She has served me well, starts every time, and has never broken down.  Plus, she is fun to drive, comfy, and roomy.

     Turns out the Corolla has been the best selling car in the world since 1974 and is considered by Edmunds as one of the best cars of all time.  So, no immediate plans to part with her yet.  My next car purchase will probably be a Corolla, or maybe a Versa.  Since 1966, Corolla is still here!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My First Alaskan Christmas With My Son

32 years ago, I celebrated my first Christmas with my three month old son. The divorce with his father would be final at the end of the month and I had doubts about my ability to raise a son alone. Childbirth and divorce, all in the same year! I'd agonized about what I'd done wrong for everything to end like this, and for a while even made attempts to try to make things right Then a friend came by and encouraged me. She told me that help was available and reassured me that everything would be ok. She was a public health nurse making a home visit to a baby who had been at risk at birth, but was on his way to becoming thriving and active. I realized there were worse things than raising a child as a single parent and put my heart and soul into being a good mom. We were living in a coastal town in Alaska then, and the outpouring of warmth and encouragement has stayed in my mind ever since. That Christmas, my baby and I watched a boat parade from our living room, and had an open house for all my friends at which there was laughter, good food, fellowship, and yes, Christmas lights! When we visited friends on Christoff Island and opened presents I realized that I could make it as long as I had the support of friends.
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Closing in On Christmas

     I've been reading The Polar Express around town, two schools so far, the Global Scholars Academy and Forest View.  It's great to share the classic story with a new generation.

(review clip)  "This book opens the possibility that Santa Claus -- as presented to most of us -- may not physically exist. It does this in a way that will allow children and their parents to ease into that question, a graceful move from the belief in a living St. Nick, to a belief in the spirit of Christmas."    Courtesy of Amazon

     I first read the tale to my son when we was about two.  We were in Alaska then.  Since I've moved I've lost the book, and the silver bell that came with it so I had to buy another copy.  Happy to have this classic back in the house!

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Russian Ballet Springs to Life

     For the past 21 years, the Triangle Youth Ballet in Chapel Hill, North Carolina has staged the Nutcracker.   With its own orchestra and original choreography customized for the young cast of dancers between the ages of 8 and 18, the 123 year old ballet takes on a whole new life.

     I watched two performances this past week-end, both held at the majestic Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina.   Opened in 1926, this meticulously renovated venue in the Beaux Arts style, offers a spectacular setting for a ballet as magnificent  as the Nutcracker.

     There was a palpable excitement as I approached the brightly lit entrance to the Carolina.  Visitors lingered in the walkway and lobby for this "opening night."  (Chapel Hill High School was the setting for last week's performance, but dancing in the venerated Carolina must bring a special thrill to the cast and their families.)

     A large table filled with nutcrackers of all shapes was set up in the lobby; nearby a beautifully costumed volunteer gave directional assistance and greeted visitors.  Turns out she was the wife of the orchestra conductor.  And speaking of orchestras, the Triangle Youth Ballet is indeed fortunate to have its own orchestra, the Tchaikovsky Virtuosi, conducted by Andrew McAfee.            

     Watching the performance from backstage gave me a unique opportunity to talk with the dancers.  Among my favorites were the Angels, the youngest members of the cast.  One of them, Camilla Carrington, memorized all the dances in case a replacement was needed.  An eight year old, she could be seen in the hallway limbering up or playing games with other angels.

     I interviewed the group, asking them their favorite part about being angels ("the music, "walking in the haze",  "being told we're beautiful!")

     The cast showed remarkable skill and poise on the stage.  Rehearsals start in August and double up as performance time years.   The person behind the magic is ballet school founder and director, Lauren Lorentz de Haas, who has been teaching dance for 35 years.

     This Nutcracker has become a new tradition at our house during the holiday season.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Violence of Silence

   I just read an essay called "Shunned" by Meredith Hall.  She was shunned by her community when she got pregnant at 16.  This was in the 60's.  Her essay was a winner in the Creative Nonfiction contest.

    This essay is startling and bothers me because there seems to be no resolution.  I kept looking for the good in the outcome and couldn't find one.  The writer still seems affected by it.