Driving a Hybrid Over Rocks; Garden Update-Mystery Plant and Pumpkins.

Guest Writer Michelle expounds on Hybrid cars and rocks. Garden update-why pumpkins in the flower garden?
Pic of the Day
Below a picture of Guest Writer Michelle's dog Bounty and her new calico kitty.

Bounty and Calico

Quote of the Day
"On education the only reform worth enacting is real school choice."
- Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, Reason Foundation's 2006 Privatization Report

"If America has an education problem, it's that the government-run, unionized public school monopolies haven't been preparing students to succeed at college-level academic work."

- New York Sun editorial, 7/25/06

Web Site Worth the Visit

Can you pass the 3rd grade? Visit the site below and see if you can.

Third Grade Test HERE


Clinton's Airline Proposal

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Drivel: The Peril of Trucks

We've had at least one truck for most of our married lives. For the last three and a half years, we've had two. It didn't occur to me that having trucks around so much would warp your way of thinking, but apparently it has.

If you're keeping up on the Drivels, you know we recently bought a car. It's an odd little biofeedback car but I've come to love it. We still play the video game with the average mileage (I think Chas now has the high score with 65.1) and it still smells new inside.

What I hadn't known was how much I didn't realize that the not... a... truck.

Chas came to visit and we drove the little car up to Mount Shasta. Beautiful weather, and an absolutely stunning mountain; the Lady was still shrouded in snow and with the late spring sun on her, she just glowed. We wanted to get close, so we followed the Mt. Shasta signs. Right up the side of the mountain.

Soon there was bits of old icky snow on the sides of the road, and then more and more and more, til there was a wall of snow on each side. We passed a sign that said "Falling Rxxx" -- so buried in snow only the "Falling" was clear, but I've seen enough to know it truly said "Falling Rock Area."

I've never paid any attention to those signs. Why? I'm usually driving a truck. Gotta be a pretty big rock to stop a truck.

Sure enough, there were scatterings of small rocks on the road, with bare spots where people had already driven through. So we went on. All the way to where the road ended in a cul-de-sac packed with vehicles, mostly SUVs and trucks. A few people were putting on snow gear; skis and snow boots and jackets.

honda hybrid

Chas and I were content to park and admire the gleaming majesty of the mountain above us and watch the blowing snow curling off her peak. When we got cold, we got back in the car for the return trip.

Again there were places with scattered rocks. One place had a larger rock right in the middle of the road. It was a little larger than one of my fists, really nothing huge.

"Do we have clearance for that?" Chas asked me.

"Sure we do!"

We don't.

Crash, crunch, squeal, grind as we go over this little massive rock. Oops.

Slowly we continue to drive, but no lights come on in the display and there aren't any terrible noises, so we figure maybe we made it okay. At the bottom of the mountain, at the first stop sign, we realize we didn't. Taking off from the stop, the car growls.

It's normally a very quiet car and the growling is not normal. Another stop sign and another growl. I look under the car (like I know what I'm looking for) and don't see any ragged metal holes or any leakage. What I do see is that there isn't any clearance under this car at all. A truck it ain't.

The next Monday it goes into the shop. "Oh, and I ran over a rock," I tell the service guy.

"A rock?" he asks, blank gaze telling me he can't imagine someone's stupidity in driving a car over rocks.

"Yeah, a rock. About this big." I show him. "My other car's a Tundra," I offer by way of explanation.

Two hours later they've changed the oil (it was due for that anyway) and washed it, but they say there's no damage from the rock.

Yeah, right. Even I know better and I'm no mechanic. They say they'll check it again.

After work, the same story. No damage from the rock. I explain again about the growling and how the car now sounds like a manual transmission starting from a stop in second gear. The service guy says they can't get it to growl today.

Okay. I'll pick it up. I have to wait for a ride, though (in my head I know I'm picking it up and taking it to the other dealership for a second opinion if the car so much as looks like growling).

Half an hour later, they call me back. They looked at it again since I was so insistent and say there's a pinch in the exhaust between the catalytic converter and the muffler. They can replace that piece but it'll be the next day.

I went ahead and had them replace the piece and sure enough, when I picked up the car, no more growling.

The question is, do I still use that dealership? The mechanic missed the problem, twice. The service guy believed me, though, when I insisted there was a problem... which is more than Toyota has done for that starting problem in the Camry. Hmmm....

The Desk Drawer writer's exercise list

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The Mystery Plant and the Late July Gardens

Below a quote from an email I received regarding my Mystery Plant, , post HERE.
I don't know but it looks like bitter weed which is the bane of dairy farmers because it affects the taste of milk and it is in every flower bed here in Florida. It seems to spring up overnight "fullsize"! I have one now about 4' tall by the front door. They have a great root system even in this sandy soil.

Now that I think about it, I do think this plant was called "Bitterweed" and when I purchased it the name intrigued me. Now I have this huge thing in my front porch garden but not to worry. I have a shovel and will move a plant in a minute if it needs to be moved. I think this handsome plant will look nice growing right by the fence over yonder.

Below, a pic montage of the late July gardens. They flourish and yes, the pumpkin grows.

Gardens late July 2006

Why a pumpkin plant? Well I have a logic.

First, I always buy small pumpkins around Halloween and paint cute little faces on them. A pair of pumpkins then flank my front porch steps nicely and hey, it's a seasonal thing. Come the winter the pumpkins freeze and explode and hey again, I know I should remove the things before this happens but I didn't.

Come the spring of 2006 and I have baby pumpkin plants everywhere and as I yank them out I ponder: Why don't I allow one pumpkin plant to grow? Yes they have huge leaves and yes they wander around a garden as if their God-given right. But I have clippers and I had a huge bare spot in the front-porch garden that I am currently filling with proper plantings, mindful of color, size, sun requirements and my own sensibilities.

Why not fill that bare spot with a carefully-controlled pumpkin plant? Or so I thought. This way I can harvest my own little pumpkins and frankly the big yellow pumpkin blooms are very pretty. After I had two pumpkins on that vine I cropped any new growth and goodness I had to wrest that thing from entwining itself around all my other plants.

But I was able to train the thing to go where I wanted it and it makes a right nice border plant. My two pumpkins are attached happily to the mother plant and come the fall I will paint funny faces on them and flank my porch steps with them.

Meanwhile the giant pumpkin leaves prevent weeds run amok on a bare garden spot. I like the effect so much I see plenty of other spots that I'd enjoy a vining plant. Someday I will ascertain the perfect more permanent plant for that spot now occupied by the happy pumpkin plant. For now the plant helps me control weeds and will give me two free pumpkins for my Halloween d├ęcor.

It's win-win as I see it.

More Gardens and Bird posts HERE

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