August 22, 2022- It is essential to own what’s yours.

It was an “oops” morning. I had made a wrong notation on my place of assignment, for this morning’s efforts. As far as I can figure, two assignments popped up, at the same time, and I clicked on one, while mentally registering the other. It all worked out, and I did some good work at Location B. Once done, an acknowledgement of my error was in order, and Supervisor gave me a pass-and a pat on the back, for overall excellent work. It pays to own one’s behaviour and its results.

It is essential to relinquish what is no longer yours. The title to Saturn Vue was returned to me, due to a slight gap in communication, itself stemming from momentary uncertainty from the insurance companies and body shop, as to the reparability of the vehicle. This afternoon, I returned the title, one more time, to the insurance company. This time, it will stay with them, as the law requires. Kia Sportage is now my road friend, and the settlement funds were transferred to the dealership, as agreed.

It is essential to own one’s love for humanity. I returned to the Open Feed, in which I assisted two weeks ago, letting the team know that my absence last week had nothing to do with having been threatened by a disgruntled homeless man. God knows, I ignore threats and go with what my heart says. The diners thanked me for ladling the soup, after which it was prudent to help the lone janitor by folding up chairs, so that he could focus on vacuuming the huge carpet. There is no daylight between my feelings for homeless veterans and undocumented immigrants; for people of colour and “rednecks”; for known friend and “stranger”.

It is essential to own one’s dignity and worth. Love for humanity does not mean enabling the grifter, the liar, the imposter. In fact, the opposite is true. Making such people either follow the Golden Rule, or cutting off all contact with them, is the true loving choice. I have elaborated on that, previously, but mention it here, lest trolls try to engage in false equivalency.

It is essential to own what’s yours, and relinquish what isn’t.

A Fresh Start-Almost


August 18, 2022- The process of procuring a motor vehicle is far easier now, than it was even ten years ago. The selection, documentation and approval of my purchase took slightly less than two hours. Digitization certainly has much to do with that, as does surety, as to what one wants in a car. I am now the tentative owner of a vehicle that is of later model than any I have owned, up to this point.

The day proceeded well, even though the classroom where I worked today was short-staffed. The three of us kept order and got some teaching done, with intermittent help from others, here and there. There were no major issues. It helped that those two students who began acting out were set straight, as to what would be tolerated and what would not.

After turning in a rental car, I retrieved the KIA Sportage from the dealership, finding it a pleasure to drive and feeling good about the updated technology, that is so commonplace for a lot of people. The Sportage offers just as much security as the Saturn did, so I am not concerned about safety on the road, as long as I follow the maintenance schedule.

All that remains now is to get the title to Saturn back to the insurance company, which for some reason sent it back to me, after it was mailed to them once. There seems to be a minor gap in understanding, at some point in the company’s organization.

I am almost enjoying a fresh start.

Unintended Requiem


August 15, 2022- It is probable that the woman wanted to get home so badly, that nothing or no one else mattered, including the red light, at which two other motorists had stopped their vehicles. Regardless of the promptings, what ensued was that her vehicle ended up wedged to the car in front of it, which then slammed into mine.

Her insurance carrier’s senior agent was incredulous that I had driven from the accident site to my home, over 2000 miles away. The fact is that the vital parts of the Saturn Vue were in safe, operable condition- the fuel tank and exhaust, rear wheels, brakes and struts. I made it safely, and got to a few subsequent commitments, before submitting the vehicle to the auto body shop of my choice.

Insurance companies, by nature, are risk averse, as are State Insurance Authorities, and many mechanical shops. There are good reasons for all the above, mostly based on the history of litigation. So, upon finding that there was damage to the undercarriage of Saturn, Insurance Carrier A assessed the vehicle as a total loss. I was advised to have the matter transferred to my own carrier, and so Insurance Carrier B assumed control of Saturn, and will continue dealings with Carrier A. The auto body shop will be reimbursed by Carrier A, as well: Three days of labour and five days of storage are no trifle.

The vehicle that took me to the northern tip of Newfoundland, and many points between here and there, will soon be auctioned for parts. There will be those who say “I told you so!”, while not recognizing that ANY vehicle, in the wrong place at the wrong time, may be subject to death and dismemberment.

What will now transpire is that, for the first time since 1982, I will be totally responsible for the purchase of a vehicle. Saturn was a sentimental choice, as well as being chosen for its sturdiness. The next vehicle will be of more recent vintage, and have fewer miles under its belt. This is not because of the chance I will be taunted and ridiculed, but because the vehicle will need to last me several years-potentially being the last car I will own.

Do not “rust in peace”, Saturn. Your viable parts will do many others some good.

A Maintenance Break


July 5, 2022, Saugus- As I mentioned previously, any journey has both rewards and costs, successes and paybacks. It’s time for Saturn to get serviced, and among other more routine items, there is a hairline crack in its oil pan. This was not observable, as recently as Saturday morning in Boothbay Harbor, but it is now. So, it will be replaced, when the new oil pan arrives tomorrow, at the shop I use here.

This gives rise to lots of questions, so let me address a few.

  1. Does this happen every time,, on a cross-country journey? No. In 2015, the Nissan Altima I had at the time died, in Newtown, CT, after getting me to this hometown of mine, on its last gasp.. Altimas have a reputation for transmission and catalytic converter issues and it was a failed “cat” that did the vehicle in. Other than that, pre-emptive maintenance, such as that which Saturn is now enjoying, has prevented problems.
  2. Don’t you think it’s a bad idea to drive a Saturn, as they are no longer manufactured? The vehicle performs well, gets gas mileage comparable to cars much smaller than itself and handles well on the highways and in inclement weather.
  3. Don’t you want a newer vehicle? Of course, and this SUV, tiding me over until sometime between this Fall and next Spring, is likely the last non-hybrid I will own. It was available when my trusty Hyundai Elantra was wrecked, nearly a year ago, and the asking price was very reasonable.
  4. Why did you drive across country in a fifteen-year-old vehicle? The SUV is solid, parts from GM are compatible with Saturns and rental cars, which I did research in advance, were scarce as hen’s teeth, especially in Atlantic Canada. I needed to drive, in order to visit L’Anse aux Meadows-a primary goal of this journey. Yes, all that just for one special place.
  5. Why not just fly? Watch your archived footage of air travel, especially this past week. See the happy faces of those stranded in airports and standing in long lines. Before that, though, check the cost of an airplane ticket, say, from Halifax, NS to St. John’s, NL: $598 one way. Matt’s Cheap Flights is probably comparable to a gas-fueled drive from Prescott to northern Newfoundland, but not by much-if they even offer such a route.
  6. Are you going to do this in the future? Not in the Saturn. As much as I love the vehicle, it is in the six figure range, and the only other SUV I ever owned quit at somewhere between 150-200,000. The Saturn is far shy of that range, and I am not going to chance it. The rest of the journeys I foresee are doable by train, local bus and rental car combinations or by air (overseas). Even southeast Newfoundland can be traveled by bus-too bad the northwest of the island does not yet have such a system. My next journey, for two weeks or so in October, to Sacramento, Carson City and St. Anthony, Idaho, will be done by train and rental car.
  7. Do you lean on others for help in such cases as now? I did, in 2015, when my financial situation was unstable. I am more fortunate, now, in that regard, and carry my own hod, so to speak, It is nice to have family with whom I can stay, for 1-2 nights, though it is not a necessity.
  8. What is your overall plan for the rest of the drive back to Arizona? I will visit some family and friends, in a few places. Overnights have been arranged in Oley, PA, Crossville, TN, Grapevine, TX and Amarillo. I have received messages to visit a few places along the route, as well. I can either camp or get a room in between those stops, as needed. I have trusted mechanics in certain spots between here and Prescott, whose services I have used before, but I don’t think I will need them.
  9. So, here I sit, in a family home in Saugus, out of everyone’s way and confident about the day and the rest of the journey.

Old Dreams, New Paths


September 28, 2021- Yesterday, thoughts of new bullet points, on a well-worn path, started to materialize. Today, things became clearer.

It is ever more likely that I will have a replacement for my road warrior, soon. When that vehicle arrives, it will be exclusively for work and for journeys within the Southwest and southern California. Travels further afield will be by train or bus, with car rentals taking up the slack, in visits off the beaten track. There will be an occasional airplane flight, as with this coming Thanksgiving, but mostly I will stay earthbound.

Working with children will be a part of life, as long as I am of sound mind and body. The assignments, though, are becoming more selective. No longer will I sign on for work with those whose style is controlling, manipulating or degrading. I’m not talking about students, but about adults.

The same holds for volunteer work. It requires a bit more forbearance, as people in crisis are often at their worst. Nonetheless, I will expect the communication to be clear and will not indulge anyone in games of “gotcha”. Power and control have no place in a healing environment.

The most important aspect of all this is self-care, and towards this end, maintaining my current regimen of natural supplements, as organic a diet as possible, regular exercise and rest when needed is one bullet point that will not change.

The other aspect of self-care is the use of time. I find that I am less oriented towards mandatory attendance at gatherings, lest the organizer be woefully offended, and more towards joining those gatherings at which I am moved to be present, out of genuine interest. Recently, those have included both long-planned events and those more of an impromptu, spontaneous nature.

I fully plan to make my journeys abroad, over the next four or five years, as conditions allow. Most ocean crossings will probably involve air travel, but I am open to journeying by boat or ship, as well. Again, in the spirit of the above paragraph, I make no commitments to being somewhere, out of an odd sense of obligation to online correspondents. Lord knows, COVID has disrupted that whole process, as has the occasional hyperintensity with which some have tried to get my attention.

The whole process is just becoming less frenetic and more organic.

Full Circle


September 25, 2021- In September, 2011, I returned from a cross-country journey that was soothing in some ways and difficult in others. The stretch of a week or so that followed was a period of waiting for certain payments to be cleared for deposit into my bank account. I was also the owner of two cars: A 2007 Saturn Vue and a 2005 Kia Optima. I chose to keep the Kia, as it was a gift from my father-in-law, and so I sold the Saturn.

Fast forward ten years, almost to the day, and I found myself looking at a 2007 Saturn Vue, in good condition, whose owner is making preliminary moves towards selling it, in advance of a cross-country move. Having, ensured that parts and maintenance are actively available for the vehicle, I am first in line to purchase, once the present owner has no further need of it, come mid-October. Thus, automobile-wise, I will have come full-circle.

There were several “explanations” that come my way, regarding Thursday’s accident: Two workers getting overly concerned about getting to their next jobs; sun glare limiting the vision of both of us; several vehicles converging on the scene at once; a voodoo curse thrown out by someone whose request for monetary assistance was recently turned down. The speculation could go on for a long time, to no avail. My own view is that I should have looked to my left again, and waited a few seconds longer.

The upshot, though, is that once again I am being given a chance to make a certain situation right. I will keep my end of the handshaken agreement and get where I need to go, in the meantime, with a rental car. There are still ‘promises to keep, and miles to go…..’