I have a simple question I want to ask the DMV. So I call the Salem metro area number listed on the Oregon DMV website, and, after wading through five minutes of menu options and automated recordings, am told that my expected wait time for a real person is . . . 38 minutes. Nope.
So I think I’m going to be clever and call the DMV office in my town. Nope. The local number merely rings into the state DMV number, and I get the same recording. Now I am left with two options: 1) forget about my question and use the online system to renew my registration, or 2) physically go to the local DMV office, mask up, take a number, and be prepared to wait 15 (super-optimistic) to 45 (more realistic) minutes to ask my question.
First-world problems. I know. But at the risk of sounding exactly like my father, who had to walk to and from school uphill both ways through ten-foot snowdrifts (this was obviously before bicycles, cars and schoolbuses were invented), I do miss the days when there were actual humans who were paid to answer the phone and respond to inquiries from citizens whose tax dollars were used for such things.
Let me be perfectly clear about this: I believe my cat, Chai, is the reincarnation of my former cat, Sputnik.
I am completely serious. I believe in the recycling of souls, also known as reincarnation. Of course, billions of other people also believe this, but I suspect a significant number of these folks are Hindu or Buddhist. I, on the other hand, was raised in a church-going Lutheran family. I started questioning things pretty early on, however, and have not been a Lutheran–or even a Christian–for the majority of my life. Though I believe very firmly in a higher power, I choose not to refer to it as “god,” since I associate this word with Christianity. And pretty much everything about Christianity makes me intensely uncomfortable. Instead, I think of it as Source, or Source Energy, the term used by the teachings of Abraham-Hicks.
The biggest shift in my worldview began in 2003 when I began attending classes at Creative Living Institute at the recommendation of a friend. Mary Graham’s lessons opened up a whole new world for me that made more sense than anything I’d ever been exposed to before. I learned about numerology, tarot cards, astrology, auras, chakras and meditation, among other things. I knew what reincarnation was, of course, but Mary talked about it in a way I hadn’t considered before: that souls travel together through time and have “contracts” with each other, and that everything comes from the same source energy and is thus connected.
With this abbreviated background in place, let me tell you about The Man.
Sputnik was my soulmate, my familiar. We found each other at the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Colorado, in February 1991 when he was about six months old. He was the first cat I adopted on my own, and for whom I was the sole caregiver. I loved him with every fiber of my being.
From the first moment I saw him in his kennel, I knew. An adoption counselor placed him on my lap in a visiting room, and he immediately rolled over on his back, waving his paws in the air. I named him Sputnik because I liked the sound of it, and because I liked the band Sigue Sigue Sputnik.
My friend David almost immediately dubbed him “Little Man,” and that nickname–along with several variations like “Little B” or “The Man”–stuck till the end of his life in 2010. He was extremely naughty, with a penchant for blueberry muffins left out overnight on the stovetop. He tipped the trashcan over and dug through the contents almost every day until I wised up and bungeed it shut. One day I returned from work to find every piece of jewellry I owned strewn from one end of the apartment to the other. Oh yes, he was naughty. And I adored him. He particularly loved playing stalk and chase, and being held above my head to be “flown” around the house, complete with airplane sounds. David tied a rubber cockroach to a long piece of dental floss, creating a cat toy for Sput second only to “Mr. Purse Strap,” which we finally just threw out a few years ago.
I adopted a brown tabby kitten from the Dumb Friends League in 1993 and named him Biscuit. “The Boys,” as they were known, provided my husband and I with many years of love and entertainment. They left this world within a year of each other at the ripe old age of 19.
We moved from South Dakota to Oregon in early 2012, and, though we had Sidra and Nemo, two female cats we’d adopted in Rapid City, I knew I had to find another male Himalayan mix like Sputnik. In May 2013, I found him on Petfinder.com. Actually, I found a brother-sister pair who had been rescued from the shoulder of Interstate 5 near Springfield, their mother having been killed on the highway. I made a phone call, loaded a pet carrier in the car, and off we went.
Though we were prepared to adopt both kittens, the rescue assured us that, based on their young age and personalities, they wouldn’t be the least bit traumatized by being separated. So Chai came home with us on May 26, 2013.
Chai is very self-entertaining, as are many cats. One day I noticed him playing alone in our guest room, and watched as he pawed at the rug (like he was digging a hole), then put his head down and did a front roll into the spot where he’d been “digging.” Sputnik used to do the exact same thing. I’ve never seen either of our girl cats do it.
Last week, I was in the bathroom flossing my teeth, and Chai joined me on the counter. Then he did something he’d never done before: he got into the sink and began pawing at the sides, curling himself up in the round space and looking up at me. Nemo will sometimes get on the bathroom counter, but she has never once gotten into the sink.
I took an almost identical photo of Spunik in our apartment sink in 1992. I spent a lot more time in front of the mirror in those days, and he was right there with me, most of the time. I think he even supervised the night I tried to pierce my own nose with a sewing needle. (That didn’t end well. I had to have it done professionally.)
If it’s true that souls can choose to travel through time together, it’s entirely plausible that the Little Man bided his time out there in the Nonphysical from 2010-2013, saw an opportunity to come back to me and took it. This probably sounds pretty crazy to someone who doesn’t subscribe to this particular worldview, but that’s OK. I don’t really care, because the truth of it resonates within my higher self.
It was only within the past five years or so I actually looked up the word “Sputnik” and discovered its literal meaning is “fellow traveller” or “travelling companion,” depending on which website you use.
There are so many reasons to feel connected to Source.
My wife and I live in Albany and last June purchased a Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle (EV). With our dog, Agate, in tow, we frequent Cape Kiwanda, the Pelican Brewery, Bob Straub State Park, and everywhere in between. We were thrilled to learn that many areas in Oregon and Washington are now accessible to electric cars thanks to the West Coast Electric Highway: http://www.westcoastgreenhighway.com/electrichighway.htm.
We think an EV charging station located near the Cape and the Pelican Brewery would be an enormous asset to Pacific City. Local businesses would benefit greatly. We typically spend an afternoon (and many dollars) in and around the Pelican. And we’re just one of many EV families.
We’ve talked to Pelican Brewery management and voiced how it would be great to have an EV charging station nearby. Knowing how tight parking is at Cape Kiwanda, we agree the designated charging spots must be away from the best (read “close-in”) parking and enforced with a time limit.
An EV charging station runs from $400 to $600. See http://www.clippercreek.com/ for some affordable options. The cost to install in a public use area would depend on where to tap into existing power, the type of outlet and local electrician rates and permits.
A variety of payment plans are available for current charging station companies. Some provide unlimited usage per month (like cell phones), some are time-based (how long you’re plugged in), and others are usage-based (number of kilowatt-hours drawn).
Even a NEMA 14-50 outlet or two would be beneficial. These are the most common outlets at an RV campground. This outlet would be the simplest and least expensive, possibly not even requiring special parking if placed smartly.
Our current solution is to pay Seascape RV Park (right across from the Pelican–ask for Bob) $5.00 for two hours’ use of a NEMA 14-50 outlet, if there is an open spot. More than two hours costs $10.00. It’s a bit spendy, but we’re glad to have that option available.
Electric vehicles are the future of automobile transportation. More and more drivers are looking for destinations where they can charge their cars and spend their money. The bottom line is, wherever we park and charge, we ultimately spend money at nearby businesses.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am also listed on http://www.plugshare.com, a very helpful website and smartphone app for locating charging stations nationally. Through Plugshare, I can share my home station with anyone needing a charge.
Electric vehicles really bring out the community in you. I think that’s a great thing. I don’t mind avoiding the gas stations, either.
Curt Finnegan is a rabid fan of electric vehicles and other environmentally friendly technologies. He lives in Albany, Oregon, with his wife, Heather (and their four-legged, furry children) and works as an online technical support specialist at Linn-Benton Community College.
This is Steve in the back seat, calmly watching as my über-excited husband drives his $65,000 car down Highway 101. Upon being asked “How can you let complete strangers drive your Tesla?” Steve replied, “It’s just a car.”
By the way, über-excited Husband as of early June has a fancy electric car of his own.
Husband also allowsencouragescoerces strongarms people into test-driving his car. I’ve watched him gabbling endlessly about kilowatt hours and regen and charge adapters and other stuff interesting only to him and other like-minded EV geeks, and drag complete strangers off by their shirtsleeves to drive the Leaf. Their feeble protests are no match for his eagerness to share with them every excruciatingly minute detail about it. At least you’ve gotta admire his enthusiasm.
Husband claims the Leaf runs on fairy dust, and that old-school, ICE (internal combustion engine) cars run on “devil goo.” I guess that makes my 2005 Prius a devil goo – fairy dust hybrid.
Quite frankly, during the pre-Tesla summer months, regardless of all the crap I’ve been giving him about it, the new Leaf was pretty cool in my book. It plays a cute little boop-boop-beep-boop song after you push the start button and makes a fun sound as it backs up. Plus it has SiriusXM radio, a cool GPS display and six cupholders.
Now, however, it is referred to as the Grandpa-Mobile. This photo should clearly illustrate why:
This is me following Steve’s explicit directions to pull out onto Highway 101, make sure there was no one behind us, let the car ahead of us get way, way, WAAAAAAAY ahead, and then punch it. I’ve enlarged the picture to highlight a number of key details:
Death grip on steering wheel
Pursed lips enunciating “Oh my god” and “Holy shit” over and over and over
56 mph showing on speedometer approximately 1.6 seconds after I stomped on the gas electron pedal
(most important) LOOK AT THE BLURRED SCENERY OUTSIDE THE WINDOW AS THIS CAR ACCELERATES FROM 0-60 IN 4 SECONDS
You have no idea what “Zero to sixty in four seconds” feels like until you experience it for yourself. I can only liken it to sitting in the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise as Mr. Sulu throws it into warp speed.
I’m pretty sure I gave myself, Husband and Steve a mild case of whiplash.
If this were über-enthusiastic Husband’s blog, he would no doubt include reams and reams of illuminating, but ultimately boring technical details about Tesla Motors, each individual Tesla model, the Nissan Leaf, electric vehicles in general, kilowatt hours, battery levels, numbers, specs, graphs, data, pie charts and so on. I don’t have the remotest interest in any of that. Here’s what I care about, and ten reasons why I’ll never need to test-drive another vehicle ever again:
THE. TESLA. GOES. FAST.
REALLY, REALLY FAST.
It handles like a dream and is incredibly comfortable.
It’s an electric vehicle, and, correspondingly, has no tailpipe farting out pollution to melt the polar caps or aggravate your child’s respiratory condition.
You can drive it more than 250 miles before it needs charging.
It’s completely, lusciously gorgeous inside and out.
It’s totally stealthy.
Everything is controlled by a super-cool, 17″ LCD touchscreen – no messy buttons, levers or dials cluttering up the dash.
It has a panoramic roof, the front half of which opens.
Tesla Motors is an American car company that renders every other American car company completely, utterly obsolete.
You can also special-order one with a high-end espresso machine that pops out of the glove compartment.
Step 2: Substitute XL dragonfly for nonexistent birds. Be very encouraging; tell puppy she’s bound to catch that tiny bird eventually. Praise puppy for her exuberance and valiant, though completely fruitless, efforts. Enjoy the show.
Step 3: Throw Chuckit ball for puppy. Retrieve Chuckit ball, as puppy has moved on to alternating grazing with searching for nonexistent birds.
Repeat Step 4 from previous post.
Step 5: Enjoy cool shower while puppy sleeps it off on shady patio.
If you have a young, active dog–maybe, for example, a 1.5 year-old pit bull mix–you’ll appreciate how difficult it is to tire out your dog. Loving Husband and I were completely convinced that this was, in fact, impossible.
Today, however, I finally discovered a sure-fire way to tire out the puppy. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m going to sit back with a cold beverage and enjoy it while it does.
Step 1: Walk puppy the long way around–six blocks or so–to neighborhood schoolyard during the hottest part of the day (approximately 82°F with a lovely breeze).
Step 2: Encourage puppy to run around deserted, completely fenced-in (thank you, god) schoolyard looking for nonexistent birds for as long as possible. Enjoy the osprey family flying and calling to each other overhead. Wonder if persistent, very low-flying osprey is eyeing puppy as possible evening meal.
Step 3: Practice coming when called over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.
Step 4: Leash up puppy and walk her an extra eight blocks. Enjoy feeling of loose leash dangling from hand and sound of puppy panting as she tries to keep up. Tell puppy, “You lag, you drag.”
Step 5: Arrive home with tired puppy. Wonder how long it will last as you sit on shady patio drinking cold beer.
Years ago, when blogging first came into vogue, I remember thinking, “Oh my god–why would anyone want to expose their private lives to the world like that? It’s like letting anyone and everyone read your diary!” And, well, yeah. It is. The differences are 1) I’ve given everyone permission to do it, and 2) I can massage my words for five hours or five days until I’m ready to send them out into the Universe via the Internet.
I had no idea, though, how cathartic it can be. I mean, different people blog for different reasons. I’ve read a blog about Pacific Northwest native flora, a blog in which the author wrote of being date-raped, blogs about wine, blogs about beer, blogs about dogs. My favorite blogger–who recently published her first book, by the way–is a brilliant artist named Allie Brosh, who writes Hyperbole and a Half. She’s one of two authors whose writing consistently makes me laugh till I cry–or moby wine out my nose. (Bill Bryson is the other.) Another favorite blog is Danger Garden. Really, what’s not to love?
Since I posted last night about Dude, I’ve been feeling lighter. Clearer. More creative. Better, certainly, than I have the past few months. What could cause this?
Merriam-Wesbter defines catharsis as “the act or process of releasing a strong emotion (such as pity or fear) especially by expressing it in an art form.” Ooooh. Oh, quite. Please and thank you. Could I possibly be nudging myself into my Vortex of Attraction by sharing my personal life with anyone and everyone? Is that wrong? It sounds wrong to me. But how can it be wrong when it feels so good?
Sometimes I so desperately need to express myself, but I just don’t feel like talking to anyone–not Loving Husband, not parents, not Dude, not sister-in-law, not best friends. Bloga provides me that outlet. Expressing myself through this blog feels like talking to Happy Dog: I don’t necessarily need Bloga to say anything, only to listen.
Bloga doesn’t judge or interrupt or offer suggestions or try to make me feel better. I don’t mean to imply that Loving Husband, parents, Dude, sister-in-law or best friends judge or interrupt. They do offer suggestions and try to make me feel better, which is loving and compassionate, and I appreciate it. Sometimes.
But Bloga just is. And sometimes that’s all I need.