Around the Corner

I didn’t have to listen to AC/DC on the way home, either, but, I happily did.

Jeff was asleep before we even made it to the highway, not five minutes away. I was tired, too, so high-energy, head-banging was necessary.

It’s hard to fall asleep while scream-singing. Actually, I’ve never fallen asleep singing. I’ve never fallen asleep eating, for that matter.

Multiple trips from Nashville to Michigan, and back, were always well stocked. Eating M&M’s one at a time. Munching mini pretzels. Chocolate covered raisins, only on the overnight drives, to avoid messy melt.

Anyway, I had no food stuff for this short trip. I wasn’t hungry anyway, because we’d eaten. But, I did have Jeff’s chosen music that, historically, sounded best played loud. So, that is what I did.

Jeff slept through. He didn’t stir when we slowed. He didn’t notice when exiting where Interstate 94 meets US 223.

There were a few, follow-the-roadway-to-the-right, definite stay-awake curves to navigate on our usual route home. I’ve been looking at a map to try and match the terrain and the place logic.

It might have been near the Slee Highway intersection, or, might have been Gilbert Road – a little further down. I’d have to drive it again to be sure. Maybe, I’ll do that on some future western-to-northern excursion, just to pin point the memory.

If he’d been awake, Jeff would have probably launched into his habit of mimicking NASCAR announcers. “A- rrrround the corner we gooooo!” Jeff (also, sort of often) used the saying to express the notion that I’d cut a street corner a little close, for him.

Fair enough, since I almost amputated his already bleeding leg, that time I pulled into Herrick Hospital. Silly enough, even though he was totally zonked out, the lovingly familiar, would-be comment, floated around in my head.

It popped up out of nowhere on the approach; a double rainbow, though there hadn’t been any rain. At least, none that we drove through. Travelling 55 mph, in the time it took me to second glance, the sight had significantly changed.

I pulled over abruptly, but Jeff didn’t budge. I called out. I shook his shoulder. I yelled, and pushed some more.

Panicked, but not sure why, I resorted to louder stimuli. I blew the car horn three times, in quick succession, then, let one long loud one linger.

That sort of worked.

Quote for the Week:2019 08 12 It’s funny how the things people say linger jakorte

Cramming Love

It’s been a short decade since New Year’s Day became my dedicated day for sorting miscellaneous paperwork and receipts and preparing to file taxes.

It’s an unfortunate luxury; having time to dedicate.

There wasn’t that kind of time in my life with Jeff. We were too busy cramming love and fun in between hospital visits and medical appointments.

Fun was anything and everything.

Eating dinner. Folding laundry. Grocery runs. Anything hot sauce or store related. Puppy playtime. Kitty cuddle time. Diner breakfasts. Church. Anything NASCAR. Talking about our day. Watching TV. Just being in the same room together. Anything we did, together.

Fun was everything, every day.

Except for the scary moments, hours, sometimes days of broadening health failures. Those were downs. The downs started coming more quickly in 2006.

Medication adjustments didn’t always solve the problem. Jeff was unhealthy enough to be excluded from certain paths. Being told Jeff didn’t qualify for next level treatments, wrecked me. Many times, it seemed I’d be more upset than he was.

“Let’s just leave it,” he’d sigh. “Docs know what they’re doin’. They went to school for that.”

He’d say, “Don’t be upset. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Or, he’d say, “It’s ok. Something better will come up.”

It wasn’t ok with me. I searched out medical articles, suggested seeing different doctors, trying non-medical over-the-counter remedies. I checked on available studies and made him apply.

He did get into one. Before the wrist band fitness tracker craze, Jeff was given a combination glucometer/pedometer that had the ability to down-load data and a variety of noise choices.

They day he got it, I was in the kitchen emptying my lunch bag after work, when Jeff strolled in.

Hey, check this out!” he laughed. “The faster you go, the faster the music….”

He then proceeded to take circular baby-steps while wildly swinging the pedometer. The music sped up to a maniacal pace.

“That isn’t really getting you anywhere,” I scowled. “Yeah, I know,” he shrugged. “But, I’d never be able to make it go that fast walkin’ and it sure is fun!”

I was disappointed when he did not get into a test-trial for a new drug formulation. “Well,” he commented after reading the rejection letter. “It was just another pill, anyway, and my tackle box is full-up.”

Quote for the Week: 2019 01 08 the view depends on the focus jakorte

Sunblock-Clocked

When Jeff was ready to continue, we set out slow walking. It was obvious to everyone who scooted around us, that there was a problem. It really got him down. We made it into the stands and stood for a while at the bottom looking up. The trudging climbers didn’t seem to bothered by the pace.

“C’mon,” I tugged his hand. “Let’s go…” He was dubious, but shuffled forward.

When the upward surging mass stalled, Jeff held on tightly to the rail. “My legs are shaking,” he told me. “That’s ok!” I replied. “You’ll be stompin’ in your seat shortly.” He gave me a little head shake smile, as the crowd crept along. We plodded on, keeping time with the slow bobbing waves of heads. “One foot in front of the other…” I sang off key. He chuckled.

When we’d made it, we both collapsed in our seats. “We made it!” I cheered. “I feel like Rocky…” Jeff huffed. “… after a few rounds.”

Not sure how we lucked out, but we had two seats on the end of the row, which meant Jeff could stand up and sit down easily. Eventually, we both caught our breath, and set about the business of setting up in the stands.

Jeff divvied up the headsets, which sadly were really only brought along for ear comfort. They’d previously hooked up to a radio, set to track channels. We’d listen to pit crews, his favorite drivers and even announcer chatter.

He handed me the binoculars and kept the camera, slung around his neck. Jeff surveyed the situation and sighed. “I hope I don’t gotta go….”

I was looking down re-stashing the sunblock we’d just slathered on the back of our necks, when a shadow came over us. I looked up and caught the tail end of a fighter jet just as it soared out of view.  Jeff’s hat came off, smacking me in the face. I reflexively reached up, opening my hand to catch the cap. The sunblock sailed forward and beaned the gentleman in front of me.

In those few seconds of mayhem, the clocked by sunblock fellow turned around. Jeff stepped closer to me, raising his eyebrows and hands in apology. I involuntarily shrieked in surprise as the sonic boom hit. I slapped both hands over my ears as they painfully popped. I’d just experienced my first fly over directly in the path of a fly over. Frozen in place, I stared at Jeff.

He surveyed me quizzically, quickly surmised my shock and threw out his own boom. Jeff’s contagious laugh caught on, as usual. Those around us grinned, chortled, chuckled, and very nicely returned our strewn belongings.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 09 There nothing quite like the camaraderie of like jakorte

MIS: Second to Last

Our second to last trip to MIS, Jeff and I necessarily down-graded and downs-sized and became van-nies.

Due to his extensive experience handling large MIS operations many previous years, Jeff managed to load:

A full size, regular, stand-up gas grill, with a full tank

3 hard coolers & 1 soft-cooler, full of food and beverages

Pots, pans and utensils, paper plates and plastic cups and miscellaneous mismatched real cutlery from our combined collection

4 lawn chairs, in case we had visitors

A free standing, aluminum canopy, that we’d practice assembled the weekend before to get the hang of it

Night clothes for Saturday night and day clothes for Sunday day, and extra clothes for rain/mud/or whatever strange thing may come our way.

2 sets of headphones and a radio bag, a camera, a couple of pillows and blankets

… all into a minivan.

This was the trip we found our wedding caterer at, purchased a race-car cake mold with fondant Dale Earnhardt edible ‘stickers’ for Jeff’s grooms’ cake and acquired an amazing racecar painted rock that I still treasure. It was also the trip that set us on an infield adventure path where no one we knew had ever gone before.

Despite the reduced size accommodations, everything else about race-weekend was just as huge. Specifically, as usual, stamina was a must, in every way. Remembering to eat and drink water – was crucial. A lot of folks didn’t see it that way. I’d venture to say most of them believed beer was the holy grail of sustaining food and adequate hydration.

Not normally a water drinker, I kept hydrated with bottled coffee and Mt. Dew – for sugar, caffeine, and occasionally some water for wetness.

Sunday morning, I was sipping a sturdy Bloody Mary courtesy of our neighbors, when I felt a weird twinge in my back. Seconds later , it was a sharp stabbing pain and I yelled out loud. I went to get up out of the chair, and suddenly the pain was so intense my knees buckled.

Jeff wanted to know: first, “What are you doing?” and second, “Are you ok?”

At first, I said, “Yes… ” I was fine, thinking I’d been stung by a bee or wasp. After another sharp jab, I told him “Maybe not…”  I thought I pulled my back somehow, sleeping on the hard van floor, walking around too much the previous day, sitting in an awkwardly angled chair.

Jeff offered me a hand up. About halfway there I was zapped with a scream-worthy shock. I dropped back down to the ground. Something wasn’t right.

I spent a few minutes lying on the ground trying to stretch my back out, as the locals watched and sipped spiked morning beverages. I spent another few minutes in a chest-to-the-knees, elbows-on-the-ground position because my imbibing audience came up with the theory that I probably had gas from drinking so much soda. Neither offered any relief. The zings and pings were becoming more frequent and growing more severe.

When I started to cry, someone suggested we flag down one of the frequent infield security carts that seemed to pass by on a regular basis. It took about a half hour of waiting and searching, until a walking patrol was located and a radio call was made.

The arriving driver assessed my still-on-the-ground situation from his still-in-the-cart seat and casually directed us to the infield infirmary, pointing about ½ way across the infield.

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 14 No amount of preparation ever covers the unexpected jakorte                   Bonus Photos:

2018 08 14 race car rock 2001 jakorte.jpg

Enjoy this week’s Discovery Link:

How to Hydrate: By Age

 

Bus-ted 3: Like This!

Jeff had Race Friends. People he’d met previous years. He’d keep in touch with email or through ICQ. There are several that stand out in my memory, but the first one I met really left an impression on me.

From my slightly terrifying seat on the top deck, I heard a commotion down below. Jeff had his binoculars stuck to his eyes, and didn’t seem to notice anything. I thought I heard someone shout for Jeff, so I scooted over to the rail.

Scanning faces, I passed by a fellow with a red shirt and a raised beer bottle. He must have been very hot, because he kept raising his shirt almost over his head. Repeatedly. He was with two other men and they were both shouting something I couldn’t make out.

A head popped up near the roof-mounting ladder and caught Jeff’s attention. “Hey,” he called, “So and so is here!” (No, I don’t remember his name. I do remember he was going to come to our wedding. But, that was before 9/11 happened.)

Jeff lumbered over to my side of the deck, took in the scene and delightedly began waving. As Jeff smiled down, the fella once again began picking up his shirt hem, practically smashing his fists into his own head.

“I can’t figure out what he wants,” I informed Jeff.

Suddenly, there was a wide-eyed, frantic man standing next to me using that universal chop-to-the-neck sign that commonly conveys “Stop!” “Cut it out!” I glanced down and then up again. By then, Jeff had switch to a two-handed chop, and still the main guy carried on.

“Do you know that weirdo?” I asked. “Yeah,” he sighed, “I’ll be right back.”

It almost immediately got quieter down there. Shortly, without fully climbing up, Jeff peered at me from between the rungs. He asked me to please come down and meet his friends from Canada. To my relief, red-shirt had stopped spazzing by the time I got to the ground. His friends seemed to be missing, too.

Jeff introduced him to me and me to him, and then I was embraced in a big, sweaty, beer-soaked hug. He was very f-ing glad to meet me, he crowed. He enthusiastically shouted to Jeff (who was standing right next to him) how f-ing happy he was that he had a girlfriend. He told us he had to go catch up with his f-ing friends, because they were only f-ing stopping by on the way to their f-ing awesome seats in the stand.

I figured he was pretty drunk, and Jeff smilingly agreed he’d probably had a few and would likely fall asleep in the stands.

“Sounded like he was saying something about a shower,” I commented. “Is there a shower in this bus?” “No,” Jeff replied.

“Well, did he tell you what he wanted?” I pressed. “Yeeaaahhh,” Jeff drawled.

“Now, don’t take this the wrong way,” he started. “He didn’t know you were my girlfriend or he’d never have asked ya….”

“Well,” he said, scratching his bearded chin. “I guess I’d better tell ya how it is. It’s kind of a tradition at races…. he didn’t mean anything by it….”

“He was just yellin’ ‘Show us Yer T-ts!” he continued.

“Seriously?” I squeaked.

“Ya know,” Jeff noddingly explained as he grabbed his shirt hem and pulled it over his head, “Like this!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 08 07 Even if you speak the same language jakorte

Bonus Photos:

Jeff may have invented the selfie before there were cell phones with cameras… on the bus roof, always with binoculars, radio and headset, and a camera around his neck.

Bonus Bus Photos

Bus-ted 2: Popcorny

We shimmied and shuddered to a slow halt.

After I was sure that the brakes that didn’t seem to be slowing fast enough for my liking, actually proved to work (weakly but did the trick,) I wide-eyed eyeballed Jeff who was inexplicably grinning like a proud papa who’d found a cherry life-saver at the end of the roll.

I might have screeched a little in frustration before indelicately inquiring, “What the hell is wrong with your bus?!”

“What?” he regarded me quizzically.

“What?!” my voice rose a notch.

“Huh?” Jeff countered, completely puzzled.

I threw out my arms, explosively. “How could you NOT NOTICE I was practically POPCORN?”

Jeff guffawed, took a look at my expression, and quieted quickly. “I thought you were just having fun, being funny…” he replied cautiously.

Then, he kinda threw caution to the wind when he p-shaw-ed his right hand in my direction.

“It’ll get better,” he advised.

“What will get better?” I asked.

“The tires…” he answered, drawing his brows further together than they naturally were. “They’re just  flat… from sitting too long.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We’re driving around on flat tires?” Then this knowledge from my father’s vault of advice that actually stuck with me jumped out of my mouth. “You’re not supposed to drive around on flat tires!”

“Nooo,” Jeff shook his head, and flapped his hands. “The tires aren’t flat. They’re just flat on the bottom… from sitting too long. They’ll round-out once they warm up, though….”

I just stared at him while my non-race-bus brain was sorting it all out. He was very much suppressing a smile I knew wanted to break loose. The height of my eyebrows must have discouraged him. To his immense credit, Jeff pulled himself together and didn’t laugh at me.

Annunciating like an elementary school teacher who just realized the entire class didn’t speak his language, he emphasized with exaggerated patience. “That’s… what… we’re doing… out here….making… the tires… go … round…”

I remained silent, so, he, continued, dramatically. Drawing circles in the air with his index finger, Jeff pointedly punctuated his next words: “Rounding. The. Tires.”

“You could have told me,” I pouted.

“I DID tell you!” Jeff defended.

“Well, that didn’t explain, anything.” I harrumphed. “I thought you meant ‘the wheels on the bus go round and round.'”

He couldn’t help it then, he reared back his head and roared with laughter. “Just wait ‘til I tell the guys…”

Jeff slapped his knee a few times, and swiveled fully back into the driver’s seat.  He punched the gas, and popped the clutch.

As we began to roll, Jeff shifted his chin in my direction, and shouted, “Hold on, Popcorn!”

Quote for the Week:

2018 07 31 anything you say in jest jakorte

Racing Heart

Before Jeff, my knowledge of stock car racing could fit in the palm of my hand.  And, that’s only because I’d had my first NASCAR experience at Michigan International Speedway, two weeks prior. Before that, my race knowledge would have fit on my pinky nail – with room to spare.

I was working for a company with a Pepsi connection who’d come up with tickets and pit passes for a Saturday race. I went with a coworker who was super excited, and went on and on about not ever having been in the pits.

Skeptical me wasn’t sure I’d enjoy wandering around garages or watching cars go in circles. It was actually pretty exciting to be so close to the pit boxes and watch the cars squeal in for service. I was blown away. First by the size of the crowd, second by the heat, third by the cars in the pit and lastly by the sheer volume of media present.

After a few hours, I came away with a dusting of sunburn, fine dirt dust everywhere, the smell of hot tar in my nose, hot feet, a little bit of a hearing issue, a lanyard and a hat. The lanyard and the hat went to Jeff on our second weekend. He was my first exposure to the rabidity (in a good way) of die-hard, racing- hearted NASCAR fans.

In Jeff’s case, any potentially obtainable or even absolutely unobtainable NASCAR thing, warranted a wide-eyed, lip-pouting, hand splayed, verbal ooo-intake-of-air exclamation of …. something undefinable, truly. He’d look like a puppy eyeing a brand new ball. , and it always made me laugh. As goofy as he looked each time, I’m sure I looked even goofier always grinning like I’d never seen anything so adorable on a grown man.

Unfortunately, months later, my gifted lanyard resulted in an additional, tacked-on violation, along with a no-belt violation and a reckless driving ticket. All on the same  traffic stop for ‘cutting off’ a state trooper, being unbelted and having my NASCAR lanyard ‘obstruction’ hanging from his rear-view mirror.

When Jeff matter-of-factly informed me I hadn’t “seen nothin’, yet,” he also pretty positively asserted I’d be going with him to the next set of races.

Since he was also nodding at me emphatically, as if it was already a done deal, I shrugged and said, “Sure, I’ll go.”

Quote for the Week:

 

2018 07 03 Speaking from experience sports dont make sense jakorte