I’m pretty sure that most of us are far too young to remember the Perils of Pauline, a movie serial circa 1933 that involved the adventures of an intrepid young lady named Pauline. I don’t remember this, but my mother does, and she used to mention this series rather fondly.
Mother was not that old in 1933, but I imagine that the Perils of Pauline circulated around for several years after the first iteration. It wasn’t like that had that many movies back then. Anyway, apocryphal or not, my mother used to tell us that she would save the nickel that her mother gave her every day for the trolley fare to get to school by walking instead. Then on Saturday she would have enough money to go to the movie theater and see the next episode of the Perils of Pauline.
Imagine. There was a trolley that she could ride to school on, and it only cost a nickel. There was no school bus to pick the kids up! They were expected to walk, ride their bikes or take the public transit. My, my, my! How did they survive to adulthood and reproduce themselves?
We are planning on a vacation to California in the fairly near future; going to get our Pacific Ocean fix, finally. One of my friends said she was willing to look after Ruby while we were gone, and in order for Ruby to have met this person’s dog and be familiar with her place before the actual babysitting, we thought we should get together a few times at her place. So on Friday, after I had done my morning chores and practiced Qi Gong with my buddy, I loaded up Ruby and got on the Interstate to go see Rena.
We hadn’t gotten very far, only a few miles outside of town, when all of a sudden my truck began to act like a stubborn mule, jinking and pulling to the right, and thumping alarmingly, dragging its heels (so to speak). “Oh hell,” I thought to myself. “I have had a blowout.” I applied my attention to getting the recalcitrant vehicle safely to the edge of the pavement and out of the way of traffic, and sat there for a moment, feeling the high winds of the passing semi trucks buffet my little pickup truck as I allowed my heart rate to slow a trifle.
I watched the traffic behind me through my rear view mirror, and when there was a break I descended from my steed and went back to assess the right rear tire.
I assessed the lug nuts, which were rusted in place, and looked at the spare tire, which was suspended under the truck by some arcane device whose operation I was not familiar with. I realized that I was not going to be capable of just changing the tire myself, assuming that the spare tire had any air in it…. I kicked myself about a little, remembering my father’s dictum that one should be familiar with the boring details of the vehicle one is driving so one can deal with minor difficulties such as changing a tire.
After I beat myself up a bit, I assessed the rest of the situation. No cell phone with me. I had left it at home since it had no minutes left on it. No water. No hat. No air conditioning in the vehicle. I was about 4 miles from town, I judged, and from there it was another 3 miles of street to get home. I figured I could walk 7 miles, no problem.
So I put the leash on Ruby, locked the truck, grabbed my purse and strode away from the freeway to the frontage road and proceeded to walk towards town.
Ruby thought this was the most stupid walk we had ever taken. It wasn’t interesting at all, since she had to stay on the leash due to traffic considerations. I wanted her to heel properly, but she insisted on walking almost directly behind me and to the right, basically walking the white line that delineates the shoulder. It took me a while, but after observing her, I realized she was trying to walk in my shadow, to maximize the shade available.
This was pretty difficult to accomplish, since it was just after noon and my shadow was not very big. It was hot, too, about 94º, and the pavement was radiating at us. After we had walked a couple of miles, there was a big farm pond down at the bottom of a hill to our left, so I took her down there and she had a nice cool off, swimming about in the clean water. Afterwards, we continued our promenade.
I had already ascertained that no one was willing to pick up an older woman hitchhiking with a dog, and after the dog became wet they were even less inclined. I have to admit I overestimated my stamina, and Ruby was certainly suffering from the heat. We had covered about half the distance home, and I knew it was going to be an ordeal to walk the whole way, so when we got to a local geothermal heating purveyor, I stopped in and asked to borrow their phone. The lady looked askance, but charitably allowed my my one phone call. I was able to get through to a friend, and she came and gave me a lift home.
When Jim got home, he immediately wanted to know where the truck was. So I told him. We unloaded the groceries, and were going to share a beer before going to deal with the situation, but I hadn’t even finished putting away the canned goods when he called around the corner, ”We had better get out there and get that tire changed right now. There’s a line of storms coming.”
We hastened to the location where the truck was still patiently waiting. At this point I realized my decision to not to try to change the tire was the correct one. He had to use considerable force to free the lug nuts, and once they were off it took a lot of beating and hammering and prying, none of which I would have known where or how to do, to convince the wheel to release its death grip on the axle. Apparently driving on the rim, even for a short distance, does some things to the trim of the wheel that are not necessarily good for it.
At any rate, we got the tire changed, there was air in the spare (not much, but enough to take us the four short miles to the nearest gas station). We proceeded on our merry way home, and we were almost there when the storm hit. It had a monsoon like intensity, with winds gusting to 70 mph (according to the weather service). No hail where we were, thank goodness. We got home, went in the house and started thinking about dinner.
The tornado sirens went off. We corralled the cats and put them into containers for taking them to the tornado shelter. Impy got the actual cat carrier, and Mallory was none too pleased to be unceremoniously bundled into one of our canvas duffle bags for the transfer. Ruby was happy to be on her leash, we grabbed my purse, the jewelry box, the best dragons and headed out to the storm shelter to wait out the situation.
The tornado did some damage west of town but petered out before it got to the city. We went back in the house and threw together some Leftover Soup from the contents of the refrigerator.
As we were sitting down to eat, Jim commented, “This has been pretty much a ‘Perils of Pauline’ afternoon for you, hasn’t it?”
I ruefully concurred, adding that I didn’t need another day like that for a while.
In other news, I harvested my sweet potatoes. Not a bad haul for 7 plants.
I went and spent a small amount of money and repopulated the whiskey barrels.
The fall hostas have recovered from their July sunburn, and are blooming furiously.
So are the sedums.
The local library finally obtained a copy of Hilary Mantel’s “Bring up the Bodies”, which I read with great enjoyment. Then I went and acquired the first novel, “Wolf Hall”, and enjoyed that too. I am awaiting with interest the final book of the trilogy. Meanwhile, I have become rather fascinated with the Virgin Queen, and am racing through a comprehensive biography of Elizabeth I.
Now, I really must get on with my day. It is far from perilous today, a nice crisp end of summer sort of day without a cloud in the sky, and I have green manure to plant in the vegetable garden and the salad garden bed to prepare. I also think I shall do something about mulching the front, which I have been giving short shrift to the last couple of years in favor of the Stroll Garden.
The day lilies out there are performing the plant version of being tied to the railroad track with the train coming around the curve, and I think I should rescue them.