Tra la la. It’s finally happening: the heady days of March in southern Ontario.
Oh sure, there have been blizzard warnings (and worse–actual blizzards!) the last three Wednesdays in a row, but that can’t drag me down because I know, with a cheesy song in my heart, that Spring is just around the corner.
That mythical, magical time that we collectively fool ourselves into thinking is in March–when actually, let’s face it people, it’s really May–but no matter, it’s time to start psyching ourselves up for it. Watching for any sign, no matter how teensy-weensy.
Is that an above zero Celcius breeze I feel tickling my neck?
Is that the asphalt/gravel on my driveway peeking through already?
How time flies (when one is pretending one is on vacation with the rest of the country, in the Caribbean)!
This is how we Canadians survive the winter: we pretend we live in Victoria, BC. We pretend winter only lasts from after Christmas until late February, unless of course that pesky rodent–friend to no one but The Weather Network (I mean, how can they lose?) on February 2–dooms us to what we all know is inevitable anyway:
that is, It’s Still Winter.
But, let’s not go there.
Surely, Spring is on its way. Just around the corner. Past that eight-foot high pile of dirty snow in the parking lot.
I can tell that Spring is nearly here by the way the complaining from my fellow Ontarians gets louder around this time in March. Even though we’ve barely had three weeks of real winter this year, it’s already begun with a vengeance. Yes indeedy, we love us some complaining about the weather.
It’s too CO-O-O-O-L-D! (Only Rolling Up The Rim appears to provoke any joy when it’s cold outside.)
Too much S-N-O-W-W-W-W-W!
Then, a few short months later:
It’s too HO-T-T-T-T!
It’s so H-U-U-U-U-MID!
No wonder Mother Nature is confused.
I can also tell it’s nearly Spring by the way the light changes. The changing light signals my urge to compulsively start sewing things for our vintage Boler travel trailer and our vintage, Fiat 500.
Useful things, like bunting and flowery pillow head rests.
I’m like a pregnant woman in her third trimester (or a Canadian on the brink of March).
I’m nesting, yep. God knows there are no birds doing that yet, even though, it’s practically (insert hysterical giggle here) Spring!
And, lest you think this is some sort of vintage-inspired female hysteria, men are not immune, either. Practical Man has been sniffing the air for weeks now. Air sniffing and more recently, hole drilling. Nary a maple tree in these parts is safe from his scrutiny.
It’s March after all. The season of joy, the season of nature’s bounty, the season of MAPLE SYRUP!
Oh sure, you need an ideal temperature of 3-4 degrees above zero during the day and 3-4 degrees below zero at night to produce the sap flow necessary for nature’s bounty.
No matter that it’s still -9 plus a windchill.
That doesn’t stop Practical Man from obsessively clicking over to The Weather Network and wielding his trusty tools until there is a tidy sap line just poised for a thaw.
Tra la la Spring: we are READY for you.
See you in May.
I just accomplished the Nearly Impossible.
We recently had to buy a new computer–at the kind of great expense that I hate spending on stuff like that–because why would you spend big money on a computer when you could, for roughly the same price, score yourself a vintage Vespa scooter (tra-la-la)?
Anyway, Practical Man doesn’t seem to mind the whole big money spending on boring stuff like computers because
- for some reason, he seems to think they’re just as fun as a vintage Vespa. Um, no.
- he wouldn’t be caught dead on a vintage Vespa (it’s bad enough he has to drive a Fiat 500 occasionally) and
- he love, love, loves the whole research-and-read-consumer-reports thing that he gets to do before he buys a big money item. Those pesky “compare and contrast” essays I used to have to do in A-level English? I bet he would have loved those. Practical Man is a born comparer and contraster.
So, after he read all the consumer reports and debated the merits of the new operating system versus the older, new operating system that everybody hates; and the really expensive manufacturer that everyone loves (and some mock) but would mean we’d have to convert everything we own; and this graphic card versus that graphic card; and this many giga-bytes versus that many tera-bytes; and he had oogled and jiggled computers all over town, we bought one.
A new computer, that is. Not a vintage Vespa.
Imagine my disappointment.
Today, I opened my writing folder for the first time on the new system (which is not even called a “laptop” anymore because apparently that name potentially leads to burned thighs and not from the sunburn you got while riding on the Amalfi coast for hours and hours on your vintage Vespa) and realized that many of my projects were written using a software that you pay for and then download from online.
Uh, oh, I thought.
That sinking feeling in my stomach was because for middle of ages people like me, “online!” meant that there were no disks to help me re-load the software on our shiny new computer.
Okay, I know they’re called CDs now.
It’s not a vintage Vespa so I can’t be bothered to pay attention.
Anyway, since I had no thinga-ma-bobs to re-load the software on the new system, I had to get Practical Man’s flash drive (or as he calls it, the “key fob”), open it and wander into the recesses of his brain. Because, that’s what it’s like going into his flash drive. It has folders and stuff that mean absolutely nothing to me, whatsoever.
It looks as if he used English to name the folders and yet…I am completely…can’t…what…?
It’s sort of like that time I tried to fold kirigami trees, only more difficult.
I was looking for his passwords file, in hopes that he would have recorded the magic numbers I needed to re-download Scrivener. Because, being Practical Man, he does things like that. He keeps the receipts for the thinga-ma-bob we bought in 1999 just in case we might need it so I was fairly confident that he would have recorded the registration number on his “key fob” that I needed to re-download the program that wasn’t on a disk (because it’s no longer 1987).
But, being all Secret Agent-y as he is, the passwords file is in a sub directory and he doesn’t label the sub directories anything that mean anything to me (although I was intrigued by the folder marked “Minion”) and of course, even if you can manage to get down in the recesses of his brain, the passwords file is not in a file called “passwords”. Because otherwise, when the evil, super villan breaks into our house, goes through our closet and finds the key fob/flash drive in the pocket of Practical Man’s jeans, he could, MWAH-HA-HA get easy access to all our passwords!
I know. It does make sense. I just like to mock Practical Man sometimes.
It’s an old married couple thing. Kind of like flossing our teeth in front of each other.
(Our dental hygienist is very proud).
Anyway, today, I successfully THOUGHT LIKE A PRACTICAL MAN (no easy feat, lemme tell ya) and four or five hours later, figured out which file the passwords were hidden in.
Of course, it was encrypted with a password.
The password file had a password.
Again. Very sensible.
After all that, the super secret Scrivener registration code wasn’t even there.
Turns out, I had saved it somewhere else.
I should have bought a vintage Vespa.
I am not brave.
In fact, I’m fairly sure I can easily be classified as a bonafide ‘fraidy cat.
Cows scare me (all that eye rolling surely leads to stampeding or something ominous with their big teeth.)
Revolving doors give me pause (I do quite enough spinning on my own, thankyouverymuch.)
Even the letter “X” can cause a shiver (seems a bit pointy, at times.)
Like I said, I am not brave. And I’m a diagnosed swoony, fainty type, so really, I should have been born last century or in a Jane Austen novel.
It’s as if I’m of another era, so maybe that’s why I find myself loving and buying antique vehicles.
They’re not easy or economical or practical (kind of like me). But Practical Man loves me and I love them, so he overlooks these points. Not to mention, spends hours and months fixing and maintaining them.
Meanwhile, I’m twirling, making flowery seat covers, and taking pictures of the cute-shaped hunks of metal (Beetle, Fiat) or fiberglass (Boler). Tra-la-la!
Because, that’s what antique vehicles are for, right?
I used to have a 1973 Beetle.
It didn’t look scary with its chubby shape and cheery yellow and white paint, but it terrified me at first.
You see, the rule is, if you’re a swoony, fainty type: you can’t drive.
Probably a good rule.
But, I had finally got effective treatment and was allowed, after 15+ years, to get my driver’s license back. I had to take my final driver’s test and parallel park and blah, blah, blah to get my full license but I am good at tests, so fairly shortly thereafter, we bought the Beetle. But, my time behind the wheel of any car, let alone one with old car idiosyncrasies, had been very limited.
I remember driving the Beetle back to our house from where we purchased it (about 2.5 scary hours away). My hands were sweaty, I found myself grinding the gears and shouting things into the wind out the sunroof (bad words don’t count if you shout them into the wind–or in German). Practical Man drove behind me in the chase car, seemingly unfazed by my driving or bad, German words. Meanwhile, I was having 17 heart attacks, especially when I accidentally ended up on the Big Fat Scary Speedy Highway.
I screamed the whole time I was trying to merge on to the highway with my 1600 cc engine (and basket of old/new driver insecurities).
Fast forward 10 years and here I am again, nauseated, sweating and in full ‘fraidy cat mode.
The classic Fiat500 is soooo very cute.
But, it makes a very, very expensive lawn ornament. And, I don’t yet have my glassed-wall garage where I can admire the vehicles from the comfort of our living room.
Hence, the little Fiat must be driven.
Practical Man has been wrestling with the engine on it for a while now. It got new stuff added by a mechanic and came back broken but, Practical Man used his superior problem solving skills and stick-toitiveness and problem solved and stuck to it until he got it working.
But, it was a false alarm until he used more of his superior problem solving skills and stick-tuitiveness (and possibly some Seafoam in the engine) and now, yes, it is really working.
Except…that means, ahem, I actually have to drive it.
Not just sew it fun seat covers and stuff to hang from the rear view mirror.
I went out this afternoon on a solo mission. If that makes me sounds like an astronaut, it’s because I felt like one.
You see, it’s an old and very simple little car. (Not unlike its owner, actually.)
There is no glove compartment or radio or even a gas gauge.
Hedgehug has a very tiny engine (only 2 cylinders), standard transmission (with no synchromeshing so, you need to double-clutch between each gear when you shift), a manual starter lever, a manual choke, and a 1970 gearbox.
Today, I stuck to the country roads and took deep breaths and tried to calm the rapid, fluttery sensation around my heart. I said nothing in German, but , there was some gear grinding and one stall, as Hedgehug and I tried to learn how to get along with each other.
There will be quite a few more of these days before I am brave enough to grind gears and stall it in the city. Then, it will be October and time to put it away for the winter. And come next May and Old Car Goes On The Road for the Summer Day, I’ll have to be brave all over again.
Honestly, it’s enough to make me faint.
Luckily, I take medication for that now.
They say you never forget your first love.
Mine was a yellow and white 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle.
Practical Man found the Bug for me online and thought we should buy it. I had finally been successfully treated for a fainting disorder that had plagued me (and my driver’s license) for 15 long years. No more keeling over, it seemed. So, I could finally drive again.
It was time, Practical Man said.
I protested a bit. It was a luxury…not a necessity. And by the way, I said (hands on hips, as that is how I pretend I am momentarily practical), a classic VW Beetle definitely isn’t practical: no heat for Canadian winters, only usable half the year (or less), liable to rust out from under us, blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t remotely “utilitarian” (one of Practical Man’s necessities in a vehicle) and it definitely couldn’t carry a sheet of plywood in the back (that’s one of Practical Man’s tests to measure those flashy, practical-wannabe vehicles that act like they’re oh-so utilitarian but hah! can’t even carry a sheet of plywood in the back).
Despite its exuberant hue and uselessness at Home Depot, Practical Man insisted the Bug was meant to be mine. After all, he said, classic Beetles were among my favourite cars, daisies were my favourite flower and this BEETLE was yellow and white, LIKE A DAISY.
Then, he used the eyebrows on me.
I can’t resist the eyebrows.
You have to trust me: these are magic eyebrows.
So, we bought the non-practical Beetle and I loved it with all my heart for nine summers. I rejoiced every Spring on the first day of driving and I pouted a bit every fall, when it went away for the winter. I drove it to work every day and I never, ever took for granted a single moment of not just–finally, finally having my driver’s license back but, also, also–driving that car that made me and everyone around us smile.
Then, there was a fire in the winter storage building and what remained of the Beetle went off to be re-born as (hopefully) a Mini Cooper S…or something else fun. Hey, that car did good deeds. It didn’t deserve to morph into something that carries plywood.
Now, there is a new (old) car in town. A 1970 Fiat 500. We were busy re-building after the fire and then, there was a winter with higher snowbanks than two classic Fiats stacked on top of each other, and then some work to get it road-worthy, so tomorrow will be the Fiat’s first day being back on the road.
It’s tiny, tiny, oh-so-tiny. Here it is, next to our (new) Fiat 500, which is a small (new) car but looks pretty large compared to the (old) original:
It also looks diminutive next to its classic car counterparts. So small, in fact, that it has an exterior luggage rack. Yes, that’s because you can’t even fit luggage in the back, let alone a sheet of plywood.
Not utilitarian in the least.
But, that Practical Man seems to have a broad definition of practical.
As in, if it makes my sweetheart full of tra-la-la, then it’s practical.
(Excuse me while I sniffle a little.)
So, the classic Fiat is here to stay. It has a choke, a starter, no gas gauge or synchromeshing between gears, not even a radio. It’s not utilitarian or sensible or large.
But, I have a feeling that, like my Beetle, this little Fiat will also hold a very large place in my heart.
Kind of like Practical Man.
I can’t wait to get to know you better.