Monday, April 30, 2007

A Dream House

Today on the way to work, I was thinking about my dream house. I have many dreams...

I would love to have a house on the shore. I would fall asleep to the sounds of the waves and the ocean breeze caressing my face, and wake up to a glorious sunrise, with the sun sparkling on the waves like thousands of tiny diamonds. And I would begin each day with a walk on the beach, breathing in the salty air and feeling the sand between my toes.

But I would also love a house in the mountains, hidden from the world, surrounded by old-growth trees and animals everywhere. There would be an amazing view from my deck, overlooking the trees and the mountains in the distance, and maybe a little meadow full of wildflowers. The deer would come to greet me in the early morning, because I would feed them apples or some other sweet treat and they would learn to trust me. I'd be like Snow White, feeding the birds from my hand and yodeling down the well! And I would begin each day with a walk through the trails, breathing in the cool air and feeling the moss beneath my feet.

I enjoy solitude and privacy, and natural surroundings. Oh and some sort of view. When we were camping in Pennsylvania last year with my dad, we spent the evenings sitting in chairs around the campfire, looking out onto the grassy hills. Occasionally a deer would walk by, or a fox or a racoon... and of course there were lots of birds. And it was so relaxing to just sit and watch. So my dream home would definitely have a place to sit and look out.

Of course, when I was young, my dream house was one where I had my own room. We lived in an apartment, and I had to share a room with my brother. We had bunkbeds and lots of toys everywhere and no privacy.

We moved into a small house when I was in 2nd grade. I remember our first day there, sitting in that empty room on a box full of books. I just sat and smiled. This was MY room. I could set up all my stuffed animals and toys, and put pictures on the wall, and I could listen to whatever music I wanted. There was even a closet for my clothes.

That old house made everyone happy, and it was great to have our own yard, too.
I helped my mother plant flowers in the front and a tomato garden in the back. My father worked on things out in the garage, my brother worked on his minibike back by the shed. My mother liked to cook even more in the new kitchen, and she made spaghetti sauce from the tomatoes in the garden. I built forts up on the hill and read books up in my room. And since we had a yard, we were able to get a puppy, which was the greatest thing.

And so I look at the house I live in now. Sure, there are some rooms that still need painting, and we need to redo the bathroom upstairs and refinish the hardwood floors. And I'd like to have a deck or a patio on the back so I could sit and look out on the yard, and we could have barbeques out there.

But I am able to plant flowers in the front and tomatoes in the back.
Mandy has her own room, where she can hang pictures on the wall and listen to whatever music she wants.
We have a nice yard where the dogs can run and sniff around where the deer trekked through the night before.
And there are closets for our clothes, and a garage for our toys.
I enjoy cooking dinner in the kitchen at night, while my husband is upstairs on the computer, Mandy is upstairs on the phone, and the dogs are under my feet, waiting for me to drop a scrap of food.
And I begin each morning with a walk around the lake, breathing in the fresh spring air, smiling at the other early morning walkers as we pass on the road.

I think I already have my dream house. Life is good.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Missing Chapters

Sean got a new brother about a year and a half ago. Not a new baby brother. A new big brother.

It's funny how you can think your story reads a certain way, but then you find out there were some chapters missing.


Sean’s father had been married before. Everyone in the family knew that. There was even an older sister out there somewhere. No one had ever spoken to her, though. No one knew where she was.

The family has always had an old black and white photo of her in a tiny oval frame. She was about three years old in the picture, and she was wearing a little white dress. This was all they had of Rebecca.

One day, when Sean and I were both in the office on our computers, he mentioned something about the long lost sister. He said he felt like there was a missing piece in their family, and he wished he could track her down.

Why don’t you Google her?

“I’ve tried. I just come up with thousands of sports results, with her first name in one spot and her last name in another.”

“Don’t you know that you’re supposed to put quotes around the words you want to appear together?”


“Put quotes around her name and try again.”

So he did. And he found her. Just like that.

Rebecca seemed a little hesitant to communicate at first. She had always known that she had some step-siblings out there. But she hadn’t heard much about her biological father, and what she had heard, well, I guess her mother hadn’t spoken very highly of him.

But lately she’s been talking more with Sean’s younger sister, and they even met up in Boston over St. Patty’s weekend last month. So the connections are being made.

And she had a bit of information that no one in the family had ever known: Rebecca was a twin. Her sister had died when they were young. No one even knew.


It was just a few weeks after finding Rebecca that we received the phone call. It seemed Sean wasn’t the only one who felt the longing created by a fractured family.

We had just gotten back from dinner, and Sean was checking the voicemail. With a confused look on his face he brought the phone to me. “You have to listen to this.”

A thick southern accent came through the receiver: “Hi. My name is Steven G, and I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m looking for information on my father, TB. If you have any information on him at all, please call me back…”

“Um… Honey? He’s looking for information on his father… His father is your father… This is your brother!”

The thing about it was, though, everyone knew about Rebecca. Although they had never met her, and they hadn’t known about her twin, they did think of her often.

Steven, on the other hand, was a complete surprise.

And since Sean’s father had passed away 8 years ago, there was no one to answer the questions.

Sean emailed Rebecca: “Guess what? You’re not the oldest anymore.”


Steven had lived most of his life believing that the man who raised him was his father. Why would he think any differently? He came from a big happy family. But after serving his country in Desert Storm, someone brought it up one night when the family was gathered together at his mother’s house.

“You should tell him! He could have died over there.”


“Tell me what?”

And so somewhere in his late thirties, Steven learned that his life story didn’t read quite the way he thought it did. Well, for the most part it did, except that he had missed the prologue. And no one had ever told him that his story had a prologue at all.

It took him a few years to decide what to do about his prologue. But eventually, he got enough information from his mother to track the family down and make that phone call.

Unfortunately, he never got to meet his biological father.

But believe me when I tell you, you have never seen anyone happier to have found his new family. Steven is the sweetest guy.

He came up to visit and meet everyone just before Christmas that year, and he was absolutely overjoyed. Hugs for everyone. Christmas presents, too.

“C’mon, let’s start catching up on everything we missed growing up.”

“What do you wanna do?”

“Well we’ll each pick something. I pick Snowball Fight.” It was time to start writing new chapters.


Then we went to North Carolina to visit Steven last summer. While we were there, we got to meet Steve’s sons. The crazy thing is, Steve’s oldest son doesn’t just LOOK like Sean’s father; he looks like he IS Sean’s father (when he was young). Genetics are pretty amazing.

I wonder if any other new siblings are going to surface?

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Round Robin Photo Challenges

Recently I stumbled upon a blog called The Round Robin Photo Challenges. This looks like fun!
Each member has a turn submitting a topic for the next photo challenge. Past topics have included Animals, Reflections, Cold, My Hometown, Transportation, Nostalgia… Then members have time to go out and take pictures for the challenge to post on their blogs on the agreed-upon posting date.

I like the idea of this site, because I think the suggestion of a theme will encourage me to pick up my camera and take more shots, maybe even of subjects I hadn’t previously considered. And I always love to see how different people interpret the same theme.

The most recent challenge theme is actually wide-open. To celebrate their 2 year blog anniversary, members were asked to choose any topic from the past challenges. “Nature” was a no-brainer for me. I’m always inspired when I step outside my door, from the flowers and bugs in my garden to the hard-earned panoramic view at the end of a long hike.

My husband thought I was crazy when I spent the afternoon hunched over my tripod, waiting for the bees to land on the new flowers I received as Easter gifts. But I liked the results:

I'm looking forward to future challenges!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere...

Nearly 5 inches of rain in a 36 hour period. That's a lot of water.
So there's water in my basement.
The sump pump gets clogged with debris as it tries to keep ahead of the water bubbling through the cracks in the cement floor. Every time it clogs, the water level quickly rises to the point where it's threatening the furnace. I had to babysit it all day yesterday, and keep pushing the water toward the pump with a snow shovel since the floor is uneven.

There are big puddles in my yard.

Though it's not nearly as bad as it is for the people that live near the creek.

The creek itself is a raging torrent.

As a kid, my husband used to jump off that pipe into the creek below. Of course, not with the waters raging as they are now. But I think it's crazy either way.

People were stopping on the bridge all day to have a look.

Even though it was starting to get dark, everyone was making their way to the bridge to view the turbulent waters below. Cars were stopped on both sides.

And I was one of them. I needed a break from dealing with the water in my basement.

Five inches of rain persistently finding its way back into my house, despite my best efforts to keep it out, was driving me crazy.

I can't imagine what it must have been like

for the people in New Orleans.

The Rising Blogger

I'm very honored to be presented with an award from Judd Corizan of The Rising Blogger. The goal of this new blog is to award specific posts that are worthwhile reading, whether they are funny, creative, thought-provoking or insightful.

The post chosen from my archives is We Should Have Been Friends, a story about my first brush with racism. You should check it out :)

I commented today on The Rising Blogger that I love the idea of this blog. Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out on a good blog because the latest post didn't necessarily draw me in. I think I'll really enjoy this roadmap to great posts and find some great blogs in the process.

Thanks, Judd, for the recognition! And keep up the good work with your blog - I have a feeling that I'll be checking in with you often...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Monster Madness

As a child, I loved scary movies. I loved being scared. From the time I was in pre-school, I would sit on my father’s lap (for protection) and watch New York's Chiller Theatre on Channel 11 and Creature Feature on Channel 5. I loved those old horror movies.

My big brother would watch too, from the safety of the area behind the couch.

Chiller Theater began with a claymation hand rising up out of a swamp. I remember my father saying to me, “You know there are six fingers on that hand?”


“Yup, count ‘em.”

So every time that show came on, I would count the fingers. He was right. And somehow, knowing that the hand had six fingers made it all the more creepy.

Here’s a link to the video on youtube: Chiller Theater

The only thing missing is the creepy voice that says “CHILLERRRRR!” after the hand gobbles up all the letters. It set just the right tone for the start of the “monster movies,” as I use to call them.

Sometimes we watched the movies while eating Swanson’s TV Dinners. Being able to eat in the living room was such a treat! My mother would get out the tray tables, and we would have Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots and a gooey dessert out of little crinkly tin trays. What fun!

Then my mother would pop some popcorn in a pot on the stove, shaking it the whole time so it didn’t burn. Later they came out with popcorn machines that turned the kernels and the oil for you. Microwave popcorn wasn’t around yet. Actually, neither were microwaves.

So with our TV dinners and our popcorn, we would sit on the couch, watching our little black and white television. We would eventually upgrade to a big console color television by the late 70’s. But of course, for those old black and white movies it didn’t really matter so much.

I remember watching the The Blob, The Crawling Hand, and Day of the Triffids, which was about an alien plant race I think. Monster movies like Godzilla, King Kong, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man.

And those abnormally large critter flicks like the one with the giant ants, or the one with the gargantuan spider.

That one with the spider haunted me, because just as the massive monster arrived in the town, and started crushing houses with each step of his giant spider legs, our antenna went out and the television screen went to gray noise. So I never knew if they got him or not. That made me feel quite unsettled. He could still be out there, you know.

But it wasn’t just the monster movies. I also loved The Twilight Zone. And ghost stories. And the Nancy Drew mysteries that had phantoms or haunted castles.

Even the comedy creature features like Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein. I liked Abbott and Costello to begin with – throw in a monster and I was enthralled.

Same with Bugs Bunny cartoons. My two favorites of all time were the ones with the evil scientist and Gossamer in the big castle.

I used to go around quoting the line, "Did you ever have the feeling you were being watched?" from Hare Raising Rabbit.

And I just loved the idea of vanishing cream in Water Water Every Hare, and that slow motion chase when the evil scientist and Bugs are both floating high on ether: “Coooooome baaaaack raaaaaabit.”

My favorite TV show was Land of the Lost.

I ate Frankenberry and Boo Berry cereals. My brother ate Count Chocula.

My favorite ride at Disney World (at age 7) was the Haunted Mansion.

I even favored monster vitamins.

As I entered my pre-teen and teenage years, I still had a love of horror films: The Howling, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween.

The Exorcist. Scariest movie ever.

The Shining. Well, that runs a close second for me. It's not just the bloody stuff - it's the creepy stuff. It's the freaky little twins. Man, they were creepy.

Even Salem’s Lot scared the heck out of me. I can vividly recall the vampire nightmare I had, with a little child vampire floating outside my window, tapping on the glass for me to let him in.

Once I became a mom, horror movies lost their appeal. I don’t like to be scared anymore – real life can be scary enough. I don’t like to see blood and guts. I turn my head away at yucky scenes, or change the channel, or even leave the movie theater.

But then again, those old movies were different. They were more about the suspense than the gore.

I wouldn’t mind munching on a bowl of Frankenberry cereal and catching Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy.

Or one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons with Gossamer.

Actually, that sounds like the makings of a good Saturday morning.

Happy Friday the 13th!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

And You Can Dance...

"And you can dance...
For inspiration...
Come on...
I'm waiting…"

I finally got up the courage to get up on one of the raised blocks above the dance floor and tear it up. I stood next to them with my friends, dancing a little and waiting for one to free up.

Then, just as “There's Always Something There To Remind Me” ended, some girls jumped down and my friend Dina and I jumped up. Woo hoo! We got ‘em!

My favorite Madonna song started thumping through the sound system, and there I was with my teased hair, my black lace tank top layered over white and pink tanks, fingerless lace gloves, my pink star earring dangling from my ear, and every awesome move I could pull out for my big debut up on the blocks. The strobe was pulsing and I was working it. I was in my 8th grade glory.

“Get into the groove, boy you’ve got to prove your love to meeeee…”

I couldn’t really even see the kids down below me. The lights were flashing in my eyes, and I just pretended I was in my room dancing, the way I would when I used to sing into my hairbrush to my Pat Benetar album. A lot of things made me nervous at that age, but I knew I could dance.

And then… what luck! Another favorite song started pulsing through the speakers… “I said you wanna be startin’ somethin', you got to be startin' somethin’…”

Suddenly, there was a sharp tug at my arm.

“Get the hell off there!” my brother barked. “All the guys are looking at you!”

My big brother smelled like beer. I jumped down off the block and stormed away. He would probably get into a fight later too, because he was so stupid when he was drunk.


When my brother and I were kids, my mother used to drive us to the roller rink every weekend. On Friday nights they had a DJ and dancing, and on Saturdays it was roller skating.

And my mother would always say to whomever would listen, "It's so great that they have someplace for the kids to go, to keep them off the street." She would proudly drive us and all of our friends there, and then she’d pick us all up at 11 o'clock and bring everyone home.

From 5th grade until 8th grade the roller rink was the place to be, every single weekend.

It was many, many years later that I enlightened my mother as to how crazy it was there. Kids would sneak out the back door to drink and smoke in the woods behind the building. Not to mention the kissing and whatever else was going on down the many trails that lead into the darkness of the trees.

And there were huge brawls that would happen both inside the club and outside in the parking lot between kids from our town and those from the neighboring town.

Of course I stayed out of trouble, but my brother never did.

Fights? Check.
Beer? Check.
Cigarettes? Well, he never became a smoker, but I know he tried them. Check.

I recall having my very first brush with peer-pressure behind the roller rink. Everyone was creeping out the back door. I usually never did, because I was completely entertained by the music, the dancing, and the sodas and fries from the snack bar.

Besides, I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, and didn’t have a boyfriend. What was I going to do out there? Probably just get swarmed by mosquitoes. I’ve always been very sweet.

I found it a little intimidating too. I was never really popular. Who would be out there?

Usually, even though a bunch of kids would be outside, there would always be someone inside for me to hang out with. So I generally remained in the safety zone.

But on this particular night, it was absolutely dead on the dance floor. The red and orange booths around the snack bar were vacant. There weren’t even any girls crying in the corner over the boys that didn’t like them or pay attention to them or ask them out or whatever. None of the usual fun or drama of a teenage hot spot.

Everyone was outside.

My friend Dina kept begging me to go out there with her. I was convinced she only needed me with her just long enough to find Jay, the boy she had a crush on. Then I would be standing out there by myself like a loser. I was right.

Find Jay? Check.
Ditched by Dina? Check.
Standing there like a loser? Oh yeah, totally. Big ol’ check.

And to make matters worse, the only kids standing right there by the back door, within the radius of light whose edge I would not exceed, well, who else? Some popular girls from my grade. Girls who never spoke to me before. Girls who looked like they could kick my @ss.

But then the most unexpected thing happened.

“You wanna drink?” Sarah offered me a swig from the bottle of vodka she had most likely smuggled from her parents’ liquor cabinet. Sarah, who had never spoken to me before. Sarah, who could probably kick my @ss.

“No thanks.” I had hoped that was audible. I thought it was audible. I wasn’t really sure though.

“Wanna cigarette?” Woah. Vanessa had offered me a smoke. Vanessa could definitely kick my @ss. No question.

“No thanks. I don’t smoke.” I was pretty sure, with that seemingly innocuous declaration, that I had eternally cemented my loser status. Don’t drink, don’t smoke – what do you do? (to quote another classic 80’s tune).

“That’s cool,” Sarah said. “I’m trying to quit.” Geez, this chick was in 8th grade and she had already been smoking long enough to want to quit.

“Really? When did you start smoking?”

And so I was standing outside the back door of the roller rink, chatting casually with Sarah and Vanessa. They probably wouldn’t even speak to me at school on Monday. It would probably go right back to the well-rehearsed, school-girl dirty looks I was used to seeing from these two cooler-than-thou chicks. But for that moment, I was hanging with the cool kids. It was almost like I was a cool kid. Cool.

My brother showed up a few minutes later with a bloody lip from the latest parking-lot skirmish. “Mom’s here. We gotta go.”

Poor Mom. The things she didn't know... although she was probably better off.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Links to Music

Well I added some links from to the music in the last post. You may have to be a member to listen - I'm not really sure. But it's free to sign up and it's very easy to find music in there and make playlists for yourself. It's a fun place to poke around.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Musical Se7en Tag

Well I must say, now I feel like I'm an official member of blogland. I’ve just received my first tag ever from my friend Houseband :)

I haven’t really gotten into the whole meme thing… I feel like my whole life revolves around schedules, and I just can’t bring myself to participate in the Monday this or the Thursday that. But a meme about music? Now you’re talking about something near and dear to my heart.

I grew up on my parents’ extensive collection of vinyl, which covered just about everything in Motown and classic rock from the 60’s and 70’s. But my musical tastes are quite diverse, as I’ve always been very musically open-minded. I will listen to anything, from alternative rock to classical, old standards to techno, R&B, jazz, new age… you name it. I even went through a major reggae spell after our recent trip to Jamaica.

The rules of The Musical Se7en Tag are to cite seven songs or CD’s that you’ve listened to recently, write something about them, and then tag seven others to do the same. I think I'm going to leave the tagging part open-ended... please feel free to participate!

I was going to tell you about a CD I made recently for myself, with some of my favorite songs of all time. But you’ve probably heard them all before. Well, maybe not. Maybe I’ll save them for another post.

For the meme, I’m going to share some songs that are new to me. I love love love to hear new music. My favorite songs are like old friends, always there for me, always capable of bringing out some joy, a memory, a smile, or maybe just some head nodding to the beat. But new music, well, those are my new friends, and new friends are fun to meet and get acquainted with!

I’m addicted to my satellite radio. I still haven’t gone through all the stations yet, but I will eventually, I’m sure, during my hour and 15 minutes of driving each way to the office and back. This little radio is the only thing keeping me sane right now with all this commuting.

And here are seven songs that made my ears perk up this past week:

From Channel 20 – Octane (Pure Hard Rock)
Sweet Sacrifice by Evanescence

Sweet Sacrifice

Amy Lee’s voice is startlingly, hauntingly beautiful. I just had to stop and listen.

From Channel 21 – Alt Nation (Alternative Rock)
Dig by Incubus


Incubus is one of my favorite bands ever. Their lyrics are usually more intelligent than the average band, and they approach even well-explored topics like love from a fresh perspective. The words to this song really speak to me. And I enjoyed the multiple meanings of the word Dig: "we all have something that digs at us; at least we dig each other" and "dig me up from under what is covering the better part of me."

I Think I’m in Love by Beck

I Think I'm In Love

This song has such a groovy feel. And I just love the vulnerability of the main line: “I think I’m in love, but it makes me kind of nervous to say so.”

Flathead by Fratellis


This one is very up-tempo and completely wakes me in the morning! Well, as much as I can be awake before my first cup of tea or coffee that is. I didn’t like it at first, but it definitely becomes infectious!

From Channel 28 – Faction (Punk, Hip-Hop, Hard Rock Mix)
The Brooklyn Way by The Lordz

The Brooklyn Way

This song has such a cool vibe – “Spread love ‘cause it’s the Brooklyn Way.” It definitely got my head nodding...

From Channel 33 – Area 33 (Trance & Progressive House)
Reflect by Maor Levi


I love Area 33… most of the songs have little or no vocals. I feel like they’re my movie soundtrack, the background music to my long, long drive up the highway. I could probably name 5 more tracks that have captured my interest recently from this station.

But this particular song is particularly hypnotic – ideal for getting lost in my thoughts, escorting me calmly through the traffic jams, or as the perfect accompaniment to those on-the-way-home daydreams.

From Channel 34 – Boombox (Breakbeats, Electronic Rock & Mash-Ups)
Work It Out by Jurassic 5 featuring Dave Matthews

Work It Out
I’m a big Dave Matthews fan, so I very interested to hear his collaboration with Jurassic 5! This song is very chill, and I appreciate songs that have a calm, groovy feeling while I’m dealing with the chaos of the commute.

So there they are – that’s my seven. I’ll hope you’ll give one or two a listen. Maybe you’ll even make a new friend.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Memories of Bowling Night

My parents were both into bowling. But my father was much more serious about it, so serious that he wanted to be in an all-male bowling league. Why? Because men are better bowlers, he said.

So this was not a fun little pastime that they enjoyed together. My father joined his serious Wednesday night all-male league, and then, not to be outdone, my mother joined her all-female Wednesday night league at a different bowling alley.

And so Bowling Night was born.

My big brother Duane and I enjoyed Bowling Night. Sometimes Duane would go with my father and I would go with my mother, but that turned out to be way too boring, because it could take 3 hours or more for them to play all of the games. So most of the time my brother and I would stay together, going with my mother one week and my father the next.

While we were there, we were the helpers. If Mom or Dad needed a soda, we would go get it for them so they didn’t miss their turns. At the end of the night, I used to fetch my father’s bowling ball from the lane, shine it up, and put it in his bag for him while he tallied up the scores and changed his shoes. I remember one year, when his team couldn’t think of a name, they ended up calling themselves The Tams, named after me.

All the bowlers in both leagues used to love us. We were well-behaved kids. This guy Al in my father’s league was my buddy. He used to talk to me all the time and tell me stories and jokes. And there was this little trick he would play on me: when I was about to sit down, he would pull my chair back and I would fall on the floor. Everyone got a chuckle out of it, even me.

One night I decided to offer Al a chair while he was watching the other bowlers and waiting for his turn. I pulled over one of the nice big padded winged-back chairs.

“Sit here, Al!”

Somehow, when that large, balding, grey-haired man hit the floor with a tremendous thud, and his drink splashed up and all the ice cubes went all over the loudly-patterned carpet, somehow it just didn’t seem to be the cute little joke I thought it would be. Al seemed to come down a lot harder than me, the scrawny little 7 year old that I was. I hid in the ladies room where no one could get me. It took Al quite a while to coax me out of there from the doorway.

Duane and I usually got hot dogs or burgers with fries for dinner, we would sit up on the swivel stools, just like eating at the diner or up at the counter at Woolworth’s. Some nights we even got ice cream sundaes, or banana splits. Those were my favorite things to get because they always came with real whipped cream and a cherry on top. Yum!

The other great thing about Bowling Night was that it was also Allowance Night. Every week, as long as we kept our rooms cleaned, we would get $5 to spend however we wanted. We could play video games, buy candy, play air hockey… with five dollars we were nearly rich. Of course, our rooms had to pass Inspection before we went out. If we didn’t pass Inspection, we didn’t get the five bucks.

And if all that wasn’t cool enough, Bowling Night was on a school night. So we were up late on school nights, running around and playing games. It was our night out, too.

One night while at Dad’s bowling alley, we discovered that right next door was a slot car raceway. To my brother, this was absolutely the most awesome thing ever. You could rent a car and a controller for a half hour and race your car around the track.

It was just like the AFX race sets Duane used to get for Christmas, only bigger. And way cooler. The corners were banked just right so your car didn’t go flying off the track. This was very different from AFX, which came with these yellow flexible plastic guardrails that went around the corners to keep your car from careening off the plastic roadway. But of course they didn’t work as intended, and our cats would attack the cars and start swatting them around the living room with their paws while Duane chased them, yelling that they’d better not wreck his best car.

Yes, my brother was in heaven down in that slot car raceway. Pre-pubescent boy heaven.

I was too intimidated by all the older guys around there to actually race a car myself, but I liked watching Duane race. Occasionally, if his car did jump the track, I was there to put it right back on so he didn’t waste one precious minute of his racing time. After all, he was spending his entire five bucks on this.

So what did I spend my five bucks on? Up at the counter at the raceway, they sold great big prismatic stickers for $2.00 each plus tax. I thought they were the coolest things I’d ever seen, much cooler than any stickers that the other kids put on their brown-paper-bag-covered books. Yes, I blew my money on stickers. I remember buying these cat stickers in every available color, and I specifically recall this green square prismatic sticker which simply bore the words “Macho Man.” Ah yes, it was the 70’s. And my book covers were the coolest at school.

Around here, many of the bowling alleys have closed down. The one where my mother used to bowl is now a supermarket, and the one where my father used to bowl has become a huge arcade. I don’t even think that either of my parents bowls anymore. There are still bowling alleys around, of course, but there seems to be less of them. Is it less popular now, or are there just more recreational choices?

Funny thing is, that slot car raceway is still there. That place has die-hard fans.

“We all have our 'good old days' tucked away inside our hearts, and we return to them in daydreams like cats to favorite armchairs.” - Brian Carter