Stuck in a minivan, and I’m not allowed to drive

By Jeff Salter

First of all, I can’t believe this was my topic. What was I thinking?

Secondly, I really hate traveling when I can’t drive — there’s nothing to do, I can’t read on the road, and I usually don’t like the way most other drivers operate the vehicle.

Thirdly, I don’t think I ever really liked road travel, even during the decades I was still able to do a lot of it. And I believe that goes back to those many [ ? eight ? ] family trips when I was a kid and we were stuffed into tight quarters for up to 12 hours a day with hardly any stops. Yeah, we got to see quite a few wonderful places, but I always had the notion that the time and effort to get there had been an inordinate ordeal.

Fourthly, when I did want or need to go somewhere, I much preferred to drive by myself — no other humans in the vehicle. That let me leave when I wanted, stop when I wanted, for as long (or short) as I wanted, and I could spend the entire time in silence… thinking.

Fifthly, due to a number of circumstances and conditions – which I won’t belabor here – I’ve reached the point where I hardly travel anywhere, at all… period.

So, I’m back to the beginning question: how did I arrive at this topic?

Surely I must have been mulling over the type company that I should like to be with… rather than anything about the travel itself. And this week, the resident Foxes are showing a variety of interesting and perceptive responses.


With me and three companions, we’ll need a comfy interior…

After a great deal of soul-searching, I’ll have to conclude that – for a looonnnggg road-trip, I’d want to travel with three people whose entertaining company I would enjoy and folks from whom I would learn a lot.

Here are my fellow travelers:

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

He traveled widely, including overseas, and always had a keen eye and sharp wit. Sam was especially perceptive about human nature and could see through pretences. Oh, if Sam is still smoking those nasty stogies, he’d have to promise to abstain while we travel — I can’t stand cigar smoke.

Will Rogers

He was one of my childhood heroes, a beloved humorist, entertainer, and commentator on both society and politics. He, too, travelled all over the world. During the restroom stops, Will could entertain us with his rope tricks. Oh, if Will still loads up with chili at every eatery on the road, he’d have to promise to abstain while we travel — I can’t stand noxious gas.

Bill Bryson

Though he has recently upset me by unnecessarily veering off into harsh and obtrusive political statements – where no political observations were appropriate – I still enjoy Bill’s wry perceptions and incisive commentary. Some of his stories are laugh-out-loud funny, while others are just chucklers — but surely Bill’s keen eye and encyclopedic grasp of geography / history would make our trip enlightening and entertaining. So, if Bill could refrain from political commentary during our travel, he’d be welcome to come along.

So those are my travel companions — Sam, Will, and Bill. Minus the cigars, the chili, and the politics.

By the way, all three were terrific writers as well as genuinely funny guys. Think of all the fascinating stories they could tell later, after I spend that loonngg trip regaling them about the goings-on here in Possum Trot!


What about YOU? Which people would you want to travel with?

[JLS # 324]

Posted in author's life, big plans, childhood, experiences, Family, favorites, Jeff Salter, Travel, Uncategorized, Will Rogers, | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Three Companions

This is such a tough question to answer, if I were in a long trip in a van and could not drive which three people alive or dead would I want as travel companions? Let’s assume that my children are also in the van otherwise this question would be easy to answer.


The first person I would want to be with me is my Grandma June. She passed away when I was about eleven, she was the most amazing woman I had ever met. She encouraged me in all that I did. Taught me how to walk quietly and with leaving as little evidence as possible that you were there. She could he walking down a gravel road and you wouldn’t hear a thing, she was just that amazing. She showed me how to appreciate beauty in everything, often stopping to enjoy the flowers in the ditches. We enjoyed the same books and a love for writing. I recall her showing me her poems when I excitedly told her I wanted to be an author. We were supposed to go to the Amana Colonies together about a week before she died but she cancelled because she wasn’t feeling well. We never got to go on a trip together so I would want her to be my first companion so we could finally have that moment. It would be nice to listen to family stories.


My other two companions would be my parents. I would rather have them with me and create wonderful memories than have some famous person who I would never see again. When I was younger travelling with my parents was fun. Dad would stop at these amazing truck stops and diners, it seemed like many people skipped over them. I loved exploring them. Often times we’d stop at antique shops so we could browse through clocks and watches to see if we could find a treasure. It would be fun to be able to do that again. Plus if I couldn’t drive I would rather it be my dad behind the wheel.


I suppose my three are rather ordinary but it’s perfect for me. Who would you travel with?


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Tell me a story!

When my husband and I travel, we can go for twelve hours without having any conversation beyond “Where do you want to eat?” and “Do you have to pee?” He drives and listens to a book. I read a book and handle kid problems. That being said, should one of us say something outside of our usual conversation, it will probably be the exact thing the other is thinking about.

So if I’m stuck in a minivan for a long trip and I’m not required to drive, I wouldn’t mind being alone. I could read books or relax and enjoy the sights.

If I had to chose people to go along, (and I’m assuming these people would converse)  I would want people who can tell good stories. (I’m also assuming this a long and otherwise boring car ride, but it is in a comfortable car because my massage therapist cried after my last road trip.)

The first person I would choose would be my dad. I loved listening to him tell stories. He would talk about growing up on the farm, or his experiences in WWII (he met the Japanese general who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor), or about our family history. He passed away seventeen years ago, and while we wrote many of these stories down, I know there are more that I don’t remember and won’t be able to pass on to my kids. (And probably a few that my mother wouldn’t let him tell us.) So then we’d have to enlist his aunt to share.


Another person I might chose would be one of my Classics professors from college. One of them had a voice for radio and could make Latin conjugation sound interesting. He also made Greek and Roman mythology absolutely fascinating. If we were touring the Mediterranean coast, he would be the perfect travel companion. Our college does trips to these areas, but probably by the time I can afford to go this professor will no longer be traveling.

So I’m probably not a very exciting travel companion, but I’m a great listener.


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Traveling Buddies

This week, our resident hound put forth an intriguing hypothetical question: You’re stuck in a minivan, for a LOOOONNNNGGG road-trip and you can’t drive. Which three people (living or dead, famous or not) would you prefer to travel with?

The hound didn’t say that we had to have a single destination in mind, so I’m going to imagine a trip that visits each of the continguous 48 states. There are a few websites that have the route mapped out. One goes to each state capital, and the other stops at landmarks in each state. I think I’d prefer the one that visits landmarks. I’m sure each state capital has something to offer, but I’m sure I’ll remember Mount Rushmore long after I’ve forgotten Pierre, SD.

I hope you’ll forgive me for not including my husband or children. Hubby HATES to travel, and when he agrees to go anywhere in a car with me (which is not often), he refuses to stop for ANYTHING other than gasoline and food. So if I’m not driving, he’s not coming along. As for my children, I’ve gone on wonderful road trips with them, but I’m sure that at this point in their lives, taking a road trip with their mother would be pretty low on their list of fun things to do. So I’ve chosen three others that I’ve never met, but who I think would be interesting travel companions:

Rick StevesIt’s always nice to know where you’re going – nowadays I can get anywhere as long as I have my phone, and my car has a navigation system built in. But the maps don’t tell you much about the places you’re going, and I think it would be awesome to have travel book author Rick Steves along to guide me to the most interesting places along the way. If I had the time and the funds to embark on a trip like this, I would clear my schedule for at least a year so that I could experience as much as I could, and according to Rick’s books and videos I’ll have plenty to see and do.

Janet EvanovichI also think it’s a plus to have interesting, creative people around me. I’ve got several favorite authors, but I’d love to meet Janet Evanovich. I could be wrong but it just seems that the person who created fascinating characters like Stephanie Plum, Joe Morelli, Ranger, Lula, and Grandma Mazur (especially Grandma!) has got to be a fascinating person herself. As an author, I’d love to find out how she comes up with all these mystery plots!


Grandpa Seino copyOne more person I’d love to spend time with would be my paternal grandfather. He died before I was born, so I never met him. He was the first of my family to arrive in America, somewhere around 1915. He was trained as an artist in Japan as well as in France, and one of his watercolors hangs in a prominent spot in my living room. I would love to chat with him about why he came to America, whether or not he ever wished he could return to his homeland, and most of all what he thought about his adopted country now. I’d also love to show him pictures of his descendants – he has five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, eleven great-great grandchildren and a couple of three times great-grandchildren now!

The hound didn’t specify that all three needed to be there at the same time. It would be nice to talk to each of these people individually – or maybe two at a time. After all, it’s going to take a good long time to travel to 48 states. There will be lots of time to talk.

Hound Dog also didn’t specify that their bodies had to be in the van. Since the possibility of getting these three to travel with me is slim to none, I’m going to propose that some of my Dream Team could accompany me through their books. Rick and Janet both have books available in audio versions so I can listen to them while working on my latest crochet project. As for Grandpa, I’ll have to settle for taking along an album of some of his watercolors.

Who would be on your Dream Travel Team?

Posted in imagination, Patricia Kiyono, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Silly Love Songs?

Congrats to my fellow Foxes and the Hound for all the writing and submitting that has been going on. I also worked a story I had put down some time ago and it has been submitted to several places. I am looking for more venues to which I can submit it.

Unfortunately, I have been a bit sidetracked by an auto accident. The granddaughters who were with me were shaken, but fine. My car is totaled. We’re still checking on my back, neck, and hands, which have not been great anyway. With any luck, rest and steroids will get me out of any lasting problems. (Please cross your fingers!)

I’m really behind on my reading and writing because of it. Here I had a lot of time but, well, things happen. (And I hope nothing like this happens again!)

I was inspired to write today’s post by an interview on NPR the other day. I only heard a small section of it and do not know the songwriter who was being interviewed, but what she said struck me as very strange.

We are writers of all kinds here, including those of articles, children’s stories, historicals, novels, romances, (quite often), and a couple of us are poets. I don’t know if anyone else has delved into songwriting, (lyrics, to be exact), but surely we are all fans of many types of songs. I’d like to see if any of you have ideas as to how what she proposed could possibly be accomplished. I was hoping that with the diversity of writers and readers, some could come up with ideas.

The woman said that she was concerned about the notions of love in love songs. The idea of giving your heart and soul completely to someone forever was a message that should not be sent out into the world(!) To pledge undying, unconditional love, is, to her, totally unacceptable in this ‘enlightened age’. “People have to know that there is a limit to what you will do for love. When do you stop? When do you say enough is enough and you should not do any more, that there are things that you will not put up with?” She actually said this…about love songs.

Far be it from me to tell anyone to stay in an unhealthy relationship. At risk of repeating myself too many times, I have stated here that I have dissuaded many young girls away from reading the Brontë sisters because they based their ‘heroes’ on their brother, who was no prize. Their male characters display behaviors that no girl should be led to believe are acceptable, nor should they be encouraged to become ‘patsies’ like the female characters, who are victims of the men. (Note that neither Charlotte nor Emily ever married.)

And I have told many men that they should not put up with abuse from women.
When John Lennon was going through his revolutionary phase he told Paul McCartney that the world was full of ‘silly love songs’ and that people have had enough them. Together they wrote some classically beautiful love songs and Paul knew that John was wrong. To answer him, he wrote his hit, “Silly Love Songs” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fK5oJcn99d4 when he had his own group, “Wings”.

[Consider this: When John Lennon made his ‘comeback’ just before he died, what were among his biggest hits? Silly (undying) love songs: “Woman” and “Starting Over”.]

Silly or not, a love song is a love song. It is a pledge of love given within a few minutes. It is hope. It is romance. I hate to think that people get married with the idea that, well, they can always get divorced if it isn’t perfect. I prefer to think that most people make vows actually intending to keep them. Judging by the fact that the songs I will use as examples have been played at more weddings than we can count should reassure us. Marriage or not, we are talking about LOVE here and expressing it.

The songwriter said that she didn’t have an answer as to HOW the words should be written, but that they needed to be.


Should Dan Fogelberg have written in “Longer Than”:
“Through the years as the fire starts to mellow
Burning lines in the book of our lives
Though the binding cracks
And the pages start to yellow
I’ll be in love with you”…. “If you don’t cheat on me” ?

In Elvis’ hit “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You”,
Like a river flows
Surely to the sea
Darling, so it goes
Some things
They are meant to be
Take my hand
Take my whole life, too”…should the writers have added: “As long as you don’t hit me”?

Possibly the top rock love song of all time is the hot by the AssociationNever My Love” :
Should it be amended to:
What makes you think love will end
When you know that my whole life depends
On you (on you)as long as you behave”?

You say you fear I’ll change my mind
And I won’t require you “to be fair and pay your share”?

How can you think love will end
When I’ve asked you to spend your whole life
With me (with me, with me) “unless you screw up”?

Should Stevie Wonder have said, “I Just Called to Say I Love You”,
but before I say it, what are you up to?

No, he should not have.

I am at a loss as to why the woman thinks a love song should include conditions.
Her love life must have been very hard.

Why do you think?

[Happy St.Patrick’s Day…this should have been posted on St.Valentine’s Day, perhaps? LOL!]

Posted in connections, experiences, free week, inspiration, Life, Music, romance, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Eye-Witness to a Bank Robbery

…And the Resulting Gun Battle in a Small Town

By Jeff Salter

Hardly had we begun our stroll down the narrow streets of this time-forgotten town in the arid southwestern desert… when out of the small local bank burst four armed men – desperate enough to gun down anyone in their paths – frantically searching for their pre-arranged means of get-away. My brother and I were transfixed — I wouldn’t have moved if the robbers had aimed directly at me. And suddenly one of them did.

It took a moment for the locals to react. Someone yelled, “Bank robbery!” and then the shooting began. I was close enough that the piercing blasts assaulted my eardrums and I could smell the smoke from their guns. They were shooting everywhere and nowhere. But I was not hit… yet.

Even in dried-up small towns such as this, there was at least one law officer present… and he happened to be no more than thirty-five paces away from us. As he drew his weapon and raced towards the bank, another shooter – clearly a lookout with the robbers’ band – fired upon the lawman from the roof of a building across the street. The officer whirled, fired twice, and the shooter’s body rolled off the roof, dead before he dropped onto the street with a heavy thud.

If I’d had any sense, I should have ducked for cover. Can’t speak for my big brother, but if anything, I wanted to get even CLOSER. No time for any movement by us, however. In just a matter of seconds, three of the robbers took cover behind some shipping crates and soon received a fusillade of bullets from the officer and several armed bystanders who pitched in to help save their bank’s assets.


Though this is my sixth grade photo, it gives you an idea of how old I was during this robbery and gunfight we witnessed the previous year.

But I’ve gotten ahead of my story.

This was some 55 years ago and I still remember like it was yesterday. We had just hit town, one of those rural southwest places abandoned by the major thoroughfares and left to dwindle with its few remaining residents… and occasional wayward visitors (such as myself and family). With prosperity long behind them, the citizenry were content to keep their old storefronts — hardly a sign of any civic improvement since the 1880s or so.

Now, back to my story:

Things happened so fast, it was difficult to keep track. But I think one bystander was nicked – appeared to be merely a flesh wound – by a robber’s bullet. That further enraged the townspeople and all who were armed pumped round after round into the inadequate refuge of those wooden shipping crates. One of those three felons went down… obviously dead. Probably had 19 bullet holes when the locals finished with him. That left two at the crates and one of those was soon wounded as well. One robber remained and it was obvious he was completely out of ammo. Finally he waved a grubby handkerchief to signal his surrender. The shooting stopped.

But what, you ask, of the fourth robber, who had hunkered down just inside the bank’s doorway?

Well… with all the money from the robbery, he leapt from the elevated front “porch” and escaped on his horse.


Yeah. Horses… sheriff… guys shooting Colt Peacemakers and Winchester carbines — uh, with BLANKS, of course. This was one of those Old Wild West reenactment shows… and for the first time in our lives (traveling with the family) we’d lucked into the exact right time to be somewhere.

The year was probably 1961. If so, I was in the spring semester of fifth grade. That was the era of television and movie westerns — every network had half a dozen westerns. Or as my dad labeled them, “horse operas.” I loved them. Imagine my delight to see one of those same vigorous scenes reenacted LIVE right in front of us… and us standing on the dusty narrow street of downtown Deadwood (or wherever).

We don’t recall which specific tourist attraction this was, but my brother believes it may have been Trail Dust Town near Tucson, AZ.


This is not the photo from Trail Dust Town, but it gives a good sense of the drama we viewed from our vantage point.

Our whole family of five was crammed into a 1958 Renault Dauphin – one of the worst automobiles ever imported into the U.S. – on our way across the arid southwest desert from Covington LA to the Glorieta campus in the NM foothills of the southern Rockies. Glorieta was one of two major denominational complexes of that era and they hosted meetings, training seminars, conventions, and whatever else religious leadership needed to attend. My dad was a minister at that point, the protestant chaplain of Southeast Mental Hospital in Mandeville. For several years, he attended a convention almost every spring… and my parents usually arranged things with our respective schools for us three kids to go with them. The travel itself was pretty horrible — giving entirely new meaning to the words “extreme thrift.” I could tell you about cold cereal in rundown motel rooms, cold Spam sandwiches in the vehicle while still on the road, and stops only when someone’s bladder was about to explode — but that’s a tale for another day. [And besides, I’ve mentioned a few of my family trips here previously].

Links (to some of my previous accounts of family trips):

National parks of every variety


Our first family trip, which included Disneyland


Broke down in a sandstorm in the Mojave Desert


As for this trip, to whichever recreated Old Wild West town this was… it was a heavenly respite from the hot, boring travel… and landing in the middle of a bank robbery and gunfight was the icing on the cake. I can’t swear to every single detail of the shootout, but I clearly remember the Sheriff whirling around and shooting the guy off the roof.

They probably had shows at the top of every hour during daylight… but as far as I was concerned, they’d staged the whole thing just for me — the diehard western fan.

As I watched those actors, dressed in their cowboy boots and western clothes, hopping on their spirited horses, and firing their Colt .45s… I remember thinking “That’s got to be the best job in the world!”


What about you? Ever seen a wild west reenactment?

[JLS # 323]

Posted in author's life, childhood, Family, Fantasy vs Reality, free week, memories, Random thoughts, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

the crafting bug

Between Spring Break this week, a nasty cold hitting the house, and an injury to my shoulder I am running a little behind on everything this week. So sorry for posting a bit late today.

Here recently the crafting bug has hit me. My Pinterest is filled with things I want to make for my house and to give as gifts. I would love to give me daughter a cozy, girly bedroom. When we moved she volunteered for the smallest bedroom. But she has more stuff then Quin who is across the hall. I think she took that to because it was the ONLY room with a little shelf. Quickly, she filled it with her books stacking them three deep. Books fill her nightstand and pour over to her dresser. My first project for her room is going to be a trundle bookcase. There just isn’t space for her to have a bookcase so I am going to put one on wheels under her bed. I showed it to her and she got excited but I am not doing that until I surprise her with the daybed she always wanted. She said she doesn’t need extra seating if she has a day bed and several pillows.

The next things requires a trip or two to some thrift stores searching for tea cups and saucers. I found this amazing bedside lamp that I am going to try to make. I plan to make two, one for my office and one for my daughter’s room. There are also plans to make candles and a few decorative displays as well as pin cushions all with tea cups! I’ll leave the link to my craft board on Pinterest in case you want to check out my inspirations since for some reason I can’t upload the pictures today.


The last project is also using a tea cup. My childhood home is surrounded by trees. Last week there was a tornado and my mom’s favorite birds feeder was thrown across the yard and shattered. (Thankfully, there wasn’t more damage than limbs going down and some damage to the garage, everyone is safe). To replace the bird feeder I am going to make one out of a tea cup, perhaps I’ll make two so she can put nectar in one for her hummingbirds.


Do you enjoy crafting? Is there anything that you’ve seen and wanted to make (or have someone else make for you)?


Pinterest link. I thought you’d like this Board on Pinterest… http://pin.it/w4h4Vq6

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