Burger Wars at the Track

My hubby is an avid go kart racer. Almost every weekend you can find him at any given kart track in the tri state area. He loves to build motors that draw a crowd when his driver wheels the kart to victory.

But I’m going for the burgers.

“There’s something about racetrack food,” one of his buddies told me one night. And he”s right.

I believe I am becoming a connoisseur of racetrack cheeseburgers. It’s the smell coming from the griddle that gets me, I think. The aroma of burgers wafts across the pits, overtaking the putrid smells of tire prep and racing fuel. It calls my name. And I answer the call, foregoing all of my Weight Watchers points in one fell swoop. Plus fries.

Our local track by far delivers the best burger (shout out to Francis at Checkered Flag in Ila GA), with East West Raceway in Alabama coming in second ( in my humble opinion).

Being a racetrack foodie will most certainly take its toll on my waistline. Perhaps I should bring my own healthy food fare such as turkey wraps and fresh fruit?

Nah. Probably not. One cheeseburger, please!

Waitin’ on a Woman

I woke my twenty year old daughter up at 10 am so she could run errands with me.  It’s now 12:20 p.m. and she is still puttin’ on her makeup.

We’re just going to the drugstore.

We’re not going to the prom, church, or Walmart.

When I was her age, I, too, did my share of lengthy make-up sessions before going out.  It takes a long time to create the “natural” look.  I get it.

But dang, y’all.  I bet she uses over fourteen different palette shades just on her eyes alone.

Don’t get me wrong, she looks beautiful.  And I am a big believer in “fixin’ yourself up” even just a little bit each day.  “Be ready for the day,” I always say.  “‘Cause you never know what the day could bring.”

I mean, the preacher could show up unannounced.  Your neighbor could knock on your door with your mail that was delivered to her house by mistake.  Your car could get a flat tire driving down the road, and everybody knows if you look good you got a better chance of flagging down a fella to change your tire for you!

But at age 20 I think she needs to learn a little bit about time management.  I don’t think her boss is going to forgive her tardiness because she “couldn’t get the eyeliner on straight.”  Time management must be something they don’t teach in college.

Whenever my hubby and I are (im)-patiently waiting for her to emerge from her bedroom to go somewhere as a family, he just smiles and laments the ole’ Brad Paisley song, “Waitin’ on a Woman”.

But if lack of time management skills is her only character defect, then I guess we’ve done a pretty good job as parents.  Because other than that, she’s a pretty darn good kid.

Kart Racing is a Family Affair

America has it’s share of favorite family past times.  Football, baseball, soccer.  On any given Saturday you can find parents packing up the family SUV with coolers, blankets, sunscreen and snacks galore.  They’re headed for the field, the kids proudly donning their crisp clean uniforms bearing their team name and number.

And then there’s the family who heads to the track.

Dirt track or asphalt track.  Pick your poison.

In our family specifically, it’s the karting track.

My husband is the main culprit.  He started his obsession by digging out my horse’s pasture and turning it into a makeshift “raceway”.  Then he invited his buddies over with their yard karts and off they went.  You should’ve seen all the men from around our neighborhood appear from out of the woodwork when those motors cranked up that first day.  It was like a call of the wild.  Wide-eyed menfolk in a trance.  Climbing over our fence, walking out of the woods or peering through their windows, just to catch a glimpse of those loud, yard-kart noisemakers invading our quiet little street.  It was like some kind of a movie, the Walking Dead Meets Days of Thunder.  We met neighbors that day that we had never seen before.  Go-karts are man-magnets.  Go figure.

Fast forward a year or two, and hubby is now attending real races at a real raceway with much more powerful karts than what he started with.  After fifteen years of watching him leave me behind to go have fun, I decided to tag along.  And here’s what I found.

Karting is a family affair.  On any given Saturday, parents from all walks of life hook up the family truck to the race trailer, hauling their precious cargo to the local speedway.  Oh, and they’re bringing their kids, too.

Starting the day early in the morning with clean shiny karts, spit-polished tires and revving motors.  Ending the day late, many times well after midnight, drenched in mud or red-clay dust.  Lamenting the blown motor parts and reeking of gawd-awful smells coming from the tire prep they used.  It’s just a part of racing, they say.

With classes available for both the big kids (Dad) and the little kids (Junior), the day is jam packed with opportunities to win that coveted first place ribbon or trophy.  Just who has the fastest kart or best wheelman?

Watching the kids is always fun.  They suit up in their racing jackets, some proudly displaying their last name, and help Dad push the kart to the grid as they tighten down their helmets.  They are focused.  They have a job to do and they take it seriously.  Dad will give last minute instructions, help them crank the kart and off they go.  They fly around the track faster than I ever would.  I don’t know how kart-moms do it, watching their offspring zoom so fast, sometimes slamming into each other like bumper cars.  It makes me nervous.  But that’s another blog for another day.

To pass the time between classes, kids will comb through the trailer-parking lot, looking for their favorite driver to sign their autograph book.  They wear the standard “uniform”, their favorite race t-shirt from the last big money race that they went to with Dad.

The younger ones live for playing in the dirt while big brother or big sister clock their fastest (or slowest) time on Race Monitor.  You can’t beat the smiles on their faces as they build their sand castles in the Georgia red clay.  Not too sure, though, of what their kart-moms think about that laundry when they get home.

Kart-moms (and wives) are a whole different breed.  They either participate right along with Dad,  by washing tires, pushing karts around the track, and doing whatever needs to be done to get race-ready.  Or some, like me, prefer to sit quietly on the sidelines, scrolling through Facebook if they’re lucky enough to get a cellphone signal.

But they’re all rooting for their child, win or lose.  Or rooting for their hubby.  Sometimes it’s the hubby that needs consoling after a loss more than Junior!

I think my favorite part is seeing the older “kids”, in their 20’s and 30’s, still packing up and going to the track with Dad.  It’s a lifetime of enjoying a hobby together as a family.  Fathers and sons.  Daughters too.  Building their fastest motor in their family shop or garage, racing it, and proudly taking their picture together in the winner’s circle.  It’s heartwarming.  Hopefully someday my hubby will get the chance to bring a grandchild out and teach him (or her) the ropes of winning and losing with integrity and sportsmanship.

For many families, kart racing is a way of life.  My husband loves it… but alas, it’s not my first choice of weekend entertainment.  I prefer time spent with my horses, chickens, and bunnies.  My college-age daughter did not inherit the kart-gene either, but instead worships the world of makeup, nail salons and things that smell good (not tire-prep!).

But perhaps someday I can convince my daughter to accompany me on a pretty Saturday afternoon, to watch dear ole’ dad and his latest motorized “experiment” dominate the field at the local raceway.  And maybe, just maybe, meet my future son-in-law… so that one day I can watch my future grand-babies play in the dirt, building sandcastles out of GA red clay!

 

 

My Dad’s Favorite WWII Stories

With all of the comparisons people are making of the Covid-19 pandemic to WWII, it made me start thinking about my dad’s favorite stories about his time as a Navy pilot during those years.

My dad was a Lieutenant.  His job was to fly a transport plane in the South Pacific.  He voluntarily enlisted December 8, 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That was also the day he proposed to my mom.

Fast forward 20 plus years to our kitchen table at dinner time. He would often tell me stories of his Navy travels and adventures. He spared me, though, the gruesome horror tales of what actually went on during the second World War. He never spoke of Hitler, except to warn me “it’s better to get the bully before the bully gets you.” But he did have three stories in particular that I will always remember.

There was the tale of the telephone pole. He and his buddies were riding in a military Jeep on some South Pacific island, I can’t remember where. They saw a telephone pole laying across the road. Since they were in a Jeep they decided to simply drive over the pole and continue on their journey. With a loud thump and a big bounce they rolled over the pole, only to look back and see it writhing in the dust. It wasn’t a telephone pole they had just run over, but a large Anaconda snake. Every time he told me that story, my dad would close his eyes tight and shiver. “Eww-wheee!  Never thought that would’ve been a snake!” he would exclaim.

My dad’s job in the Navy was to fly supplies to and from wherever they were needed. He was also in charge of flying the casualties back to base.

The plane’s cockpit was open to the cargo area. The deceased soldiers were laid directly behind the pilot. This didn’t really bother my dad too much, until that one night.

The human body is a wondrous thing. Upon passing away, often times the deceased will still have compressed air trapped inside their body. Occasionally that air might be forced out of the body causing involuntary movements and sounds as the air is expelled.

On that night, my dad was flying back to base with one such unfortunate soul laid behind him on a gurney, covered over with a large cloth.  As my dad flew the plane in the quiet still of the darkness, there was suddenly a low grumbling moan coming from the deceased soldier.  Slowly, with a long, deep growl, the soldier lifted his upper body, sitting upright on his gurney.  It nearly killed my poor dad!  He would laugh and say, “imagine being up in a plane with dead guy behind you and he suddenly sits up and moans!”  I can’t imagine.

My dad was a humble man and didn’t like attention.  He was always rather embarrassed when he would tell me the story of how he received a Purple Heart. 

A Purple Heart Medal is awarded to a serviceman who is injured or killed from wounds received during combat action.  It’s an honorable thing to receive a Purple Heart.  Many people suffered great loss during their service, either through severe injuries or loss of life.  Their Purple Hearts are awarded to mark their bravery and sacrifice.

The details are foggy to me but I believe it went something like this. His story began with the enemy swarming the airspace of his transport plane.  His Commanding Officer made the decision to abort their mission and return to the landing strip.  As best I can remember, he would laugh and say that the plane ran out of gas and actually crash-landed into the ocean, twenty feet from shore.  Into three feet of water.  My dad had to jump out of the plane and when he did so, he broke his ankle.  Thus, he was awarded a Purple Heart.  He was always proud of his awarded medal but at the same time he felt rather silly that they gave it to him for breaking his ankle while jumping out of a plane twenty feet from the landing strip.

My dad would try to find the reason in every bad situation.  He always tried to protect me from the evils of the world, yet still teach me that the evil is there and sometimes you have to face it.

He was so very proud of his service in the Navy and is buried at Quantico National Cemetery. 

 

Bury Me in My F350

When I die, bury me in my F350!

Several years ago, my husband bought me a 2004 F350 Lariat.  It was a year old with low mileage, sitting all alone in the used car lot at the local Ford dealership.  I think it called his name and he heard it.

It was a handsome truck,  a real man-magnet, black with gold undertones and dual wheels.  It came with the fanciest package available at the time, including leather seats and a state-of-the-art six cd player.  Bedliner and chrome bed-rails.  It was stylin’.

After some fretful discussions about how to pay for it, and heavy negotiations with the finance guy, we brought it home.

I have horses, and as any self-respecting horse owner knows, you gotta have some muscle to haul your horse around in the trailer.  “You just can’t beat a Ford diesel for pulling”, says my hubby.  So that justified the purchase of a heavy-duty truck.  Plus with hubby owning a roofing business, we really need an extra pair of dual-wheels around here.

Alas, as all vehicles will do, it has developed it’s quirks over the years.    But I love this truck, even with all it’s eccentricities.

I call it my “ole’ bucket of bolts.”  You have to know this truck to love it.

For instance, the fuel gauge will sometimes drop to zero on a whim.  So you’d better know how many miles you’ve driven since the last gas station visit or you’ll be walking.

There’s a cd stuck in the cd player and it’s constantly trying to get out.  You get used to the strange noise after awhile.  I think it’s Stevie Nicks on repeat.

The radio comes on all by itself.  With no warning.  Real loud.  And you can’t turn it off.  Other than that, you are driving in silence.

Up until recently the back and forth switch on the front seat didn’t work, and I had to drive the truck with my toes because I couldn’t reach the pedal.  I got pretty good at it.

It takes an acre and a half to turn it around.  Literally.  You can forget doing “u-eees” (U-turns).

My ole’ bucket of bolts has over 250,000 miles on it.  It has made countless trips to the park, Walmart and Tybee Island.  It spent years in the carpool line.  It has gone Kroger-ing every Monday, waiting patiently in the back parking lot because it’s too big to park up close.  To anything.  It has carried my two large German Shepherds and countless cats to the vet and faithfully hauled horses safely without a glitch.

Knock on wood, it has never left me on the side of the road.  When it gets sick it gives fair warning.  Which actually hasn’t been very often.

The old girl has been retired from daily driving now for a few years.  We keep her as a “farm truck” to haul hay a couple times a month and do light errands around town.  Her daily duties have since been turned over to a Chevrolet, but we won’t tell her.

You just can’t beat a Ford diesel for taking care of the family farm.  A woman and her truck, a love affair to last forever.  When I die, bury me in my F350.

 

I Got the Dynamometer Blues!

There are parts and pieces of a dynamometer on my kitchen table. And they’ve been there for weeks.

For those of you unaccustomed to the terminology, a dynamometer (or “dyno” for short) is some kind of testing-thingy that motor-head go-kart racers use to check the power of their kart motors. The Google definition of a dyno reads “an instrument which measures the power output of an engine.”

My hubby builds kart motors, therefore a dyno is apparently considered an essential part of living in our household. The problem is, this dang thing isn’t put together yet. And some of it is currently being housed on the corner of my kitchen table, where it landed the day FedEx delivered it.

The box containing these essential dyno pieces apparently blends into the decor of the kitchen, rendering it hidden, camouflaged, forgotten.

Hubby says he will “get to it”. Or he’s “waiting on some parts to arrive”. I would prefer that the box just migrate on down to the shop, where the parts and pieces can be assembled into this magical performance-checking machine and it can start earning it’s keep. Thus allowing hubby to clear off the kitchen table for what I deem to be important things… like incoming mail, items to be returned to Walmart and car keys.

So there it sits, taking up space on the dinner table. Hey wait a minute! That means, I don’t have to cook dinner…because there’s no place to serve it! Let’s just order pizza! We can set the pizza box a little to the left and put our sweet tea cups to the side for now.

So as it turns out, with the dyno parts in the way, I don’t have to cook.  In the total scope of things, I guess it’s not such a big deal to be losing valuable kitchen space to a box of go-kart paraphernalia. There’s more important things happening in our world right now to be fretting over minuscule inconveniences.

I guess it can stay for a little while longer!

 

Kart Racing Wives of Georgia, Unite!

My name is Sandra, and I am a Racing Wife.

Kart racing, to be exact.

My hubby of 35 years races go-karts at various speedways, kartways, and racetracks across the Deep South. Namely GA, SC, NC and Alabama.

He travels near and far (mostly far) to compete his machines against other speed-addicted kart-junkies. In all kinds of weather. In all seasons. Even on holidays (Thanksgiving Thunder, anyone?).

These aren’t your average go-karts that you buy for your third grader to do zoomies in your front yard with. No, these things are fast. Like, 50-90 miles an hour fast (depending on the class).

And the men-folk love it.

Actually, hubby just builds the motors now.  Back in the day, he would be his own driver.  But he’s getting too old for this sort of thing now, in my humble opinion.  I’m glad he’s turned over the driving reins to the younger fellas these days.  Because when these things get airborne and flip over, it’s a God-awful sight.  When I see a kart flip like that, pinning the driver underneath, my blood pressure shoots skyhigh.  But the menfolk seem to enjoy a good flip now and then.

They spend all week getting their karts ready for the Saturday race.  Tweaking, twisting, revving.  Buying parts, selling parts, trading parts, adding parts, removing parts.

But it’s not just the karts they work on (every night after a hard day’s work).

It’s the tires. It’s ALL about the tires.

My hubby spends most of his time “prepping” tires with “goat pee”, “rolling” them to perfection in a hot-box like a rotisserie chicken.  Our shop is lined wall to wall with little itty-bitty black rubber tires.  He knows them all by name.

Each track he goes to will usually specify which brand of tire the racers can use at that particular venue.  And since he visits so many tracks, we have a LOT of tires.  If our shop caught on fire we would would make the headline news because the fire would burn for months due to all the rubber.

And the smell.  Girls, let me tell you about the smell.  It would repel a skunk.  I don’t know what chemical it is that they use on their tires to make them smell so bad, but apparently it’s some kind of super-sonic, speed-enhancing power-wash that makes the tire roll faster.  Or grip the track.  Or grow wings.  Not sure, but I can tell when my husband has entered into the house after bathing in this stuff at the shop.

The smell attracts men though.  If you’re single and looking for a husband, don’t bother with perfume.  Just slather on some Goat Pee tire prep.  They’ll come a-runnin’.

On a typical race day you can find wives hanging out with their hubbies in the trailers (the family home away from home).  Some actually help out with getting the karts ready for the race (they’re immune to the smells).  But most, like me, prefer to sit quietly in the background, out of the way, scrolling through Facebook to pass the time in between races.

So if you are a Kart Race Wife like me, swing on by the trailer and say hello.

I’ll save some Goat Pee for you.

 

 

What’s Wrong with Mayberry? Church Life in the Countryside.

architectural photography of white and green church bell tower under clear sky
Photo by Dan Whitfield on Pexels.com

My family used to attend a church in Monroe, GA.  By Monroe standards, it was a pretty good sized church.  By national “Mega-Church” standards, it was small.  But if you were looking for a place to worship where the congregation was small enough to know you by name, and would be there for you when you needed it, this was the church for you.

A few years after we began attending, a friend of mine from the neighboring town of Snellville, GA (where everybody is somebody) told me she was looking for a new church to try.  I invited her to come to my church and check it out.  She didn’t mind the drive so she came by and visited one Sunday.

After the service was over, I asked her what she thought about my little church.  With a shamed apologetic look on her face, she grimaced and said… “Mayberry.”

Mayberry.  The fictional town of Sheriff Andy Taylor and his sidekick Barney Fife.  She was comparing my little Monroe GA church to the church depicted in the town of Mayberry.  A small-town, old-fashioned, country kind of church where everybody knew everybody and life was simple.  Nothing fancy.  No loud speakers.  No Christian rock music.  No smartboards, Ipads or television screens.

So, what’s wrong with that?

The church I went to was a welcoming place to grow your faith.  Where living a life through Christ was encouraged with Scripture, sermons and fellowship.  Where the Bible came first.  Where a hand was stretched out to someone in a time of need.  Where children were taught that the Ten Commandments are important to follow, and we all were reminded that common decency, manners and morals trump bad behavior.

Ok, so they didn’t use a lot of fancy technical gadgets to get the message across to the congregation.  They might in the future, but for now they hear the word of God without the use of electronic devices.

And they can hear it loud and clear.

I liked going to a church that reminded someone of Mayberry.  I think there should be more of them.

 

 

So You Think You Want a German Shedder? What to Know Before Getting Your First German Shepherd Dog.

Thinking about getting your first German Shepherd Dog?  Awesome!  But here are a few little things you might want to know before bringing home your new pup.

With so much information readily available on the internet and through various breed publications, I’ll just focus on telling you a few little tidbits that I’ve learned about these amazing dogs over the last forty five years.

German Shepherds are the second most popular breed in America.  Originating from Germany in 1899, they were initially bred to herd and guard sheep.  The popularity of the breed continued to grow and today they are used for military and police work, as well as serving as a fantastic family pet.

When Spring is in the air, the days are longer, the daffodils are blooming and the robins are singing, the German Shepherds are shedding!

So much so, that many German Shepherd owners refer to them as “German Shedders.”

Yep.  They shed.  Some worse than others.  German Shedders have a dense outer coat and a thick undercoat.  Which is great for keeping them warm in cold weather but can be a pain if you have white carpet like me.

They need a job.  You will have to keep them active and focused on projects like training or playing games.  It doesn’t have to be much, even just a few minutes a day several times a day will usually keep them occupied.  They are a working breed and weren’t meant to sit in an apartment all day, staring out the window.  That’s what Shih Tzus are for.

They are extremely loyal to their owners.  They bond quickly with their human family and will usually grieve considerably if removed from the home.  That’s why they are not used so much for service dogs anymore.  Remember back in the day when you would see German Shepherds faithfully leading their vision-impaired owners, with the safety handle on their harness?  Now Labradors and Golden Retrievers are typically used instead of Shepherds.  Shepherds were bonding too closely with their training families, (families that raise the pups for up to a year before they are turned over to the service training facilities to begin their careers as guide dogs) and not adjusting well with their new owners.

It’s a well-known fact that German Shepherds are protective.  They’re not trying to be mean.  But they will let you know that you are being watched and evaluated as you approach their family.  I have worked with five different trainers with my current Shepherd “Kiser” and all five said the same thing:  “he has some protection in him”, meaning he won’t hesitate to protect me from harm.  But he’s not stupid about it.  In fact he has gotten high marks from all his trainers regarding his friendly personality.  Just don’t mess with him or his family and all will be fine!

Obedience training is without question the most important thing you can do for your puppy.  With the protective nature of this breed you will need to have control and authority over him.  For his safety as well as others.  Dogs that have been properly obedience trained, preferably with a skilled professional trainer experienced with the breed, will have more confidence in you as the owner and “leader of the pack”.  Having control of your Shepherd when you have company over to your house, when you’re walking your dog down the street or going to the vet is imperative.  Before you buy or adopt your first pup, research your community and find a dog trainer experienced with German Shepherds.  Not all trainers know how to interact with these intelligent, brave and energetic pups.

I’ve personally owned five German Shepherds over the course of my lifetime.  Each one had their own unique personalities.  At age 10 my dad got me my first pup.  I named her Lady Ginger Chumbly.  Pure white and probably the most protective one I’ve had so far.  She was my childhood playmate for eleven years.  The mailman was scared to death of her.  Next came Smoky, black with a splash of white on her chest.   There must’ve been an “oops” moment in the kennel at some point for her to have white markings because Shepherds don’t typically have white in their color scheme.  Best dog ever.  She was “neutral” to everybody, including other dogs.  She didn’t care who you were or what you wanted, just throw the dang ball.  My third dog Justice was my “designer” dog.  She was show quality but very nervous.  I didn’t do any training with her hardly at all and it showed.  But she loved her family and I still miss her.  My current two Shepherds are my black and tan male Kiser and my black and silver female Lanier.  Kiser is the super smart, well trained, protective dog that everybody wants.  Lanier, not so much.  But she  didn’t get the training that she deserved because as a young puppy she was attacked by a stranger’s German Shepherd, who broke her leg in two places and broke her tail.  She spent her entire first summer locked in a crate mending broken bones.  Five thousand dollars later, her leg grew back crooked, ending her chances of being any kind of agility or field trial dog.    The stranger’s German Shepherd who attacked her was the classic example of why you must spend time obedience training your dog with a professional dog trainer.  But Lanier is an absolute love bug who worships her family, and that’s all I can ask of her.

So do your research, learn as much as you can about the breed before you bring one into your household.  Remember, they are working dogs who were bred to protect and herd their family so they are exceptionally smart, energetic, strong and driven.  As long as you work with them and not against them you will have an amazing dog who will love you and live to be by your side always.

 

Going about the Life of being a Chicken: (learning to live by faith)

We have a small hobby farm in Monroe, GA.

I say we.  Actually, it’s me.  My husband just pays for it.  And builds me stuff for my animals when they need it.  Like custom rabbit cages and chicken pens.  He built my miniature horse a miniature gate for his miniature paddock.  He built my dogs a huge, heated, metal-roofed doghouse.  They won’t use it.  Someday it might become the goat’s house.

The chickens are fun.  My husband is convinced a chicken is the perfect pet.  They don’t cost anything to buy, they don’t cost anything to feed (except a couple bags of chicken food every few months), and they’re quiet.  Most of the time.

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My chickens (I have several) follow me around like puppies.  I think they like having company.  They make the cutest little sounds.  They just talk and talk.  It’s a happy sound they make, just clucking along and enjoying life.

They don’t seem to worry.  They scrape the ground with their feet, searching for bugs.  They take dust baths and actually seem to enjoy it.  They fluff their feathers, shake their heads and wiggle their tails.  When I bring their dinner, they flock around my feet, gleefully anticipating the pelleted food they’re about to receive.  At night they happily retire to their enclosed pen, safe from whatever predators roam my pasture at night.

Sometimes I wish I could be a chicken.  I wish I could lead a chicken’s life.  I could live my life without a care in the world and not worry about a thing.  Shuffle my feet, fluff my hair and whistle a happy tune when someone brings me a snack.  But the reality is, I’m not a chicken and I won’t ever be able to “go about the life of being a chicken”.  I do worry.  I worry over money and health issues.  I fret over my daughter.  I fear the mailbox and the bills that lurk inside, waiting to be paid.  I stare at the phone waiting for that one call that will pay our bills next week (we’re self-employed www.bryantroofing.com…shameless plug for our business!).

So what is one to do when one is not a chicken, and one tends to worry about stuff they have no control over?  Look up, pray.  Talk to God. 

I guess I’ll always be somewhat of a worrier.  But I have found that, for me, putting my faith in a power greater than myself, whom I choose to call God, is the one saving grace for me. For we live by faith,  not by sight.