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Memory Lane: Delightful, Tearful Surprises

My mother never said I love you. She was a doer.

Who stays up around-the-clock, four days, applying hot compresses laced with olive oil to conquer a sports injury? Who scours the heat registers for pennies to buy lentils and beans for dinner since she used the last of the paycheque to pay for a ballet tutu or piano, flute and guitar lessons or sports equipment for four children? Who makes you pay back a loan, used to cover my rent after a car crash, and sends the demand letter certified mail to teach me to save money? My mother who loved us.

The original 1929 tickets that brought my mother, Anna Betnaza, from Poland to Southhampton, England to Canada. My grandmother traveled with three children. The cost in today's dollars is a little more than $4,000.

The original 1929 tickets that brought my mother, Anna Betnaza, from Poland to Southhampton, England to Canada. My grandmother traveled with three children. The cost in today’s dollars is a little more than $4,000.

Mothers save everything. It was her last gift. The letters, cards and baubles that I sent her, from far flung locations, Cairo-to-Bangkok, assure me that I had been a good daughter. A daughter she shooed away at 17: “There’s nothing for you in a small town,” she told me.

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Anna Has Left The Building

Tiny and tough, my mother was feisty and fiercely independent.

She used to say, “no one gets out of this world alive”. She didn’t either. She died in July. A fall in her beloved garden — her foot got caught in the tomato cages — unleashed a cascade of complications. She was 87.

My mother's life was bookended by two incredible extremes. She walked barefoot to a one-room schoolhouse until she was 12. During her last 15 years, like every hipster, her life revolved around the Internet.

My mother’s life was bookended by two incredible extremes. She walked barefoot to a one-room schoolhouse until she was 12. During her last 15 years, like every hipster, her life revolved around the Internet.

Born in a time when women were seen as a weaker, softer farm hand, my mother, Anna Betnaza, embraced challenge. She chose a life’s path of learning and enlightenment. And she encouraged me to be bold.

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A Wheel Story About Wheel Men and Women

New Orleans, Louisiana

Twenty-six floors below me, the freighters winding along the Mississippi river through New Orleans, dodging the paddle wheelers teaming with tourists, seemed touchable.

Riders at the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in New Orleans line up to witness a scooter wedding. California scooteress Cynthia marries Philly scooter guy Christian.

Riders at the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in New Orleans line up to witness a scooter wedding. California scooteress Cynthia marries Philly scooter guy Christian.

Several hundred Vespa owners converged at the Hilton Riverside for the 22nd annual AmeriVespa rally in mid-June. Scooters, ranging from grandfather vintage to tricked-out with rocket launcher signal-lights, or in nautical attire and, of course, our modern classic, cruised the Big Easy.

This rally, which included a scooter ride around Lake Ponchartrain and a scooter wedding, has been on MacGyver’s To Do list for three years. We missed Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and San Diego, California. Continue reading

Almost Ready

Sebring, Florida

I am obsessed. With a Facebook page. Two actually.

Road Talk and Trucker’s Weather Updates and Road Conditions.

So complete is my obsession that MacGyver is waking every morning to his coffee, served in his red Ferrari mug, and my crash report.

This was a routine winter drive on US87 enroute to Great Falls, Montana in January 2013. But winter conditions this year seem anything but routine. Two Facebook pages which report weather and road conditions for big truck drivers, including multi-vehicle pileups has become my staycation obsession.

This was a routine winter drive on US87 enroute to Great Falls, Montana in January 2013. But winter conditions this year seem anything but routine. Two Facebook pages which report weather and road conditions for big truck drivers, including multi-vehicle pileups has become my staycation obsession.

“I need to unfriend them,” I tell him almost every day. “It’s freaking me out.”

It’s, like, an addiction that I feed it several times a day. There have been so many storms this winter and consequently many horrific crashes. Before Facebook I knew there were big truck crashes, I saw evidence of crashes, but there was no play-by-play.

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So Long Cali, It’s Been Good To Know You

Las Vegas, Nevada

The words from my favorite movie, Sound of Music, danced in my brain as we departed California before the first stroke of 2014.

“There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall, and the bells in the
steeple too…. Regretfully they tell us, but firmly they compel us, to say goodbye to you.”

Oh, we loved you California, even though the freight out often sucked, stranding us for more than a week.

While millions of people devour and depend on the goods and services and jobs that we bring, there is a serious lack of big truck parking. The constant road construction is never enough, the highways are dilapidated making it impossible to sleep on some routes.

One of the joys of spring in California. Fresh picked, fragrant, succulent strawberries in April and crisp, crunchy sweet peas. All a Vespa ride from the Lodi, California Flying J on I-5.

One of the joys of spring in California. Fresh picked, fragrant, succulent strawberries in April and crisp, crunchy sweet peas. All a Vespa ride from the Lodi, California Flying J on I-5.

The bad was tempered by the great. The velvety, Leprechaun-green hillsides of spring that seemed to infuse oxygen into a winter-weary body. The succulent, red Spring strawberries, hours from the fields to the fruit stands. Great salads in almost every restaurant — Lodi, CA at the Fox and Hounds has the best Sunday brunch omelette bar I have ever seen, they have roasted garlic — and the deliciously, languorous bike path along the water’s edge in Long Beach.

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