Another PDX

BLINK!! Eyes wide open. The room is dark.  Soft breathing sounds from my husband.  The bed cradles my achy body. My tongue runs over the sore spot where I bit my lip.  Was I dreaming?

“More throttle. Gently let the car climb. Don’t lift! Shift to 4th! Now lift. Apex. Power.  More throttle.  Full power.  BRAKE HARD! Not yet, not yet. NOW! Shift to 3rd. Don’t fight the car. Let it the car curve out and smoothly back in.  More power!! Shift to 4th!” went the rapid staccato voice in my ear.  Just as rapidly I tried to translate each instruction knowing I only had seconds.  

Was that a dream that had shaken me awake?  It was the dream replay version of the happenings of the day before.  

All by myself in my brand new little red FIAT 500 Sport I had driven 2 and half hours to the BIR (Brainerd International Raceway) to take a performance driving course or PDX.  What was I thinking??  I stayed in a hotel so I could arrive early at the track the next morning.  The sun wasn’t yet up as I signed my driver’s waiver at the gate about 7 am.  Thankfully I’d been at the track in the summer so I could find my way back to the classroom in the dark.  Butterflies flipping in my empty stomach I signed in, filled out paper work for emergency contacts, and got my novice wristband secured to my left wrist.

Everyone seemed to be with someone but I bravely walked into the classroom pretending I knew what to do.  I found a place at the table and marked the spot with my helmet.  People were looking at the donuts and rolls which were covered in frosting and sprinkles.  Breakfast of champions?  Passing on that I sat back in my seat and started to look at the schedule.  About that time a bunch of instructors walked and announced that the track tours were about to begin.  “The first lap will be slow so you can see the track and to start get your bearings.  The next lap will be at speed.”  We walked out to the cars made up of several police style cars and an SUV.  One instructor asked if I was with a group.  “No.”  He pointed and said, “ Front seat of the SUV.”  I climbed in and got my seat belt on.  Several more people filed into the back seat.  It was Gary who was driving.  This was his course and he was the head of the driving school with a long history of racing and winning.  And off shot the SUV.  With a fast left turn and hurtling under a bridge the tour began.  This wasn’t slow as I looked for anything to hang on to so I wouldn’t go flying around.  And there before me was a wonderful handle on the dash board.  I grabbed on and started to make mental notes.  Wait.  We’re going too fast.  What where we supposed to do at that orange cone? And how do I find the spot we’re supposed to lift at if we are going so fast?  Gary rattled off all kinds of tips and suggestions of how to make the corners and hold the best lines.  How was I going to remember this as we suddenly started the second lap even faster.  And into the pits, our tour was over.  


I sat back down at my spot at the table and let my heart rate settle. I started to figure out how I could escape from this class.  And would they refund my money? More and more people started to find places to sit.  It was announced that we needed to keep on a tight time schedule because there were 90 students from novice to experienced.  The majority of the group would be using their own cars but many had brought their own cars set up to race, team cars, and there was a fleet of spec Ford racers that some people had rented.

The class room session started.  Driving is all about physics.  It’s very interesting, confusing, and downright contrary to how I think driving happens.  Our class was only an hour long and my brain was stuffed with new thoughts. Pull don’t push steer.  Hands at 9 and 3 on the steering wheel with your thumbs locked over the wheel so you don’t lose control.  Brake on straight.  Smooth.  Everything needs to be smooth.  Tire pressure, contact patch. If you’re in trouble, braking probably isn’t the answer. Power into the curves. I could just learn and forget the driving part.  Why on earth did I sign up and yet I knew I really wanted to try my hand at the driving.  And then came the sobering part.  There had been a rash of serious accidents.  Driver errors but most of them being a little too aggressive on their solo runs.  The errors were laid out in detail and how to avoid making them.  And if you are feeling tired and wobbly, quit!

I already knew my instructor Aaron.  He had been my instructor at an earlier PDX course I took on a smaller local track.  That helped me relax in that I already knew the drill with him.  We went out to the car and emptied the trunk of all my gear.  I had learned to bring a tub to corral the contents of my glove box, my luggage, tire pressure gauge, extra oil, etc.  Even the floor mats come out if they aren’t attached to the floor.  Loose items become deadly weapons in a fast moving car.  And another pointer was to look under the seats for those long lost items that will show up in a critical braking point, under the brake pedal. We talked about the tire pressures and checked the car for any last minute adjustments.


The time had come.  I climbed in and got my seat belt adjusted.  The seat needed to be adjusted so that I had bends in all my limb joints in case of a crash.  A stiff leg could send the leg bones into the hip. I put my helmet on and tugged the chin strap snuggly.  I had to thread in my sunglasses between padding and my ears.  The next part was critical so that I could hear my instructor.  He had a chatterbox system.  We both had ear pieces pushed up under the helmets on to our ears.  Attached to the ear piece was a microphone.  This made it so we could talk to each other.  I started the car and proceeded to line up to enter the pits.

There is a flagman at the end of the pits to let you on the track.  He is your rear view mirror and eyes for your entrance.  He first needed to see our wristbands to be sure a novice didn’t end up on an experienced track session.  He’d either stop us, wave us on the track, or count us down with his fingers so we could safely enter in between cars already on the track.  The entrance was on a hard left turn, zip under a bridge, and swoop a big right turn.  And we were off with Aaron rapidly announcing what moves I needed to be making.  Oh, this is too fast.  Can’t we take a Sunday drive first?  The traffic was heavy as everyone got fairly bunched together.  Who told me the track was longer and we’d have much more space to move around?  I think it was Aaron?!!  The spec racers all came out in a line like matching bright orange Hot Wheel racers. And they weren’t fast yet. It was their first time on the track and they drive solo. Oh my, one just stalled his car….

Aaron patiently guided me with rapid instructions on how to hold my line.  He’d take care of the mirrors and cars behind me.  At one point I realized I wasn’t holding the line that Aaron had taught me but I had gotten caught in the pack mentality of following the leader. Not good. More focus as the staccato of commands continued.  With welcome relief the checkered flag came out for our cool down lap and a break.  

What a rush!  And so many mistakes.  Was I going to be able to learn all of this?  The excited chatter among the students filled the air recalling their session.  Check the tire pressure.  Personal pit stops.  Water.  And then Aaron suggested that he take me for a spin in the car so he could show me the lines he was trying to teach me.  Since he was driving we went out on an advanced session.  He deftly wound the car through the traffic showing how to hit the apexes and different lines.  When to brake. When to power through.  And back into the pits.  A few minutes later it was my turn again.

My second session was more physically demanding because I needed to learn new tricks and refine what I had already learned.  I was also moving faster too.  On one corner there were markers with numbers counting down from 5 to 1.  These were for braking.  My first goal was to brake at 4 and as the day progressed I noticed that my braking started at lower numbers. I think I started to get how to brake harder so could do it a bit later.  I had a really fast shift between 1 and 0 but while I was shifting and turning a really hard right, pulling my steering wheel not pushing it, I had to find a late apex cone and not fight my steering wheel while I made a gentle swoop to the right side of the track all while increasing my power. Each lap I gained experience.  Sometimes I realized that I was making the calls myself but Aaron was there if correction was needed.  I didn’t do a lot of talking as I was too focused but Aaron was listening to me.  He heard when I wasn’t breathing and he also heard the little “Eeks” come out me when I felt out of control.  So to ‘comfort’ me in those ‘Eek’ moments (often called OS moments by the experienced drivers. O standing for “Oh” and S stands for “s#*t.”) he’d tell me to give my car more power.  What????? “OS!!!!!!!!!”  And the power helped me gain control.  Go figure!!

The day turned out perfect weather wise.  72 degrees and pure sunshine.  I sat on a picnic table picking at a few things I’d brought for lunch.  It still seemed prudent to keep my stomach towards the empty side.  People began to move their cars to the second pit area as the track was about to be opened to a bigger, faster track.  Just what I needed as I was starting to get the first track.  But I was happy to see the carrousel go.  It was a very tight nearly round corner.  That corner would now be a tight right hand corner that led to an early apex and another bridge to go under.   Once under the bridge came the build up of speed.  Another corner and then a long straightaway.

My first trip around the new layout started almost on the original track so I knew what to expect there.  We ‘slowed’ down a bit to start to explore and learn the new section.  And then the speed got added in!  The traffic had eased a bit because people were starting to be done.  It’s a very demanding job of learning to go fast.  The first few times through the bridge I was ducking!  It was low!!  Another woman was ahead of me and we were often very close to each other in speed but I never quite passed her.  I’d have the better line but once we got on the straight away she’d pull away.  As the straightaway blended into the original track I’d close up on her.  Aaron tried to convince me to draft behind her.  Too many years of learning not to tail gate made this a really scary proposition. Finally after a really good lap and the checkered flag for last lap I made the call that my day was over.  There was another session but it was like skiing.  I didn’t want to make that last run when I knew I was tired.  I was excited and felt good that I’d actually done the course.  And I was in one piece.  My car was in one piece. And I’d driven over 100 mph!!  As I climbed out of my car the burned smell of hot brake fluid and melted tire rubber offended my nose. I did that to my car?  And there were little black streaks of melted tire stuck to the sides of my car.  Little badges of honor that I had driven hard and fast.  At least according to my world.  After all I’m celebrating my 60th year!


After I treated Aaron to dinner for being the best, most patient instructor. I started the trip home.  As promised it was very difficult to keep my speed down.  Thank goodness for cruise control. I smoothly traveled the curves as I drove home to my waiting husband who wanted to hear all about it.  It will be days before I come out of the euphoria of driving fast. Driving around here is taking care of that real fast as I got behind a guy doing 30 on the freeway, in a convertible, shaving!!  Really??

What’s next? Next I plan on taking a Streetsmart driving class.  It will be teaching how to handle situations in my everyday driving such as dropping off the edge of pavement and a skid pad to learn to drive in slippery conditions.  And then maybe another performance class…..oh YES!!!  And for some of my questioning friends, I’m still in love with learning and playing my cello too!!

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On To A PDX Course

Where to begin?  First of all PDX stands for Performance Driving Course. Dear Husband I and signed up for a local course we’d heard about.  What a day!!!

About a month ago I got a fast ride in this car.  It continued to wet my appetite to drive fast.

Vintage MGB.  Getting buckled in for a ride.

Vintage MGB. Getting buckled in for a ride. (Yes, I’m wearing a bike helmet to protect my head from bouncing on the roll cage.  We were touring, not racing, and safety gear requirements are relaxed.)

So as the day of our PDX course drew closer I was excited.  But then the day before I started to get cold feet and a bit nervous.  I dreamed that I kept shifting into the wrong gear.  Though a bit groggy I got up early so we could drive to the course about 45 minutes away.  And I kept thinking of things that could maybe get me out of the course on the way.

Helmet, "driving" shoes (skinny, flexible sneakers), and other supplies for the day.

Helmet, “driving” shoes (skinny, flexible sneakers), and other supplies for the PDX.

The day was going to be one of the hotter days of the summer.  I dreaded putting my heavy, well padded helmet on in the heat.  I took an extra jug of water and some wash cloths so I could keep cool.  Those made the difference.  My umbrella was for rain but it did a fine job of keeping the sun off me as we waited our turns to drive.  I even used it when I “worked” a corner.  Felt like a southern belle minus the fancy long dress.

Once we were registered the driving instructors found their students and ‘teched’ the car.  They check for any possible things that could fly around the interior or break on the car.  They also look at the wheels and tires. My car passed easily but I did get asked to take my floor mat out of the driver’s side of the car so my feet would get caught in it.  I had met my instructor last year as he’s one of the crew on my son’s Chump car team.  I’d already seen him race and watched him coach my son when he raced.

We first met for classroom time.  DH and I were in the novice class.  We had a great instructor with a lot of teaching time including the police and teen drivers.  Not being a physics person I’m suddenly really interested in the physics of driving.  Through the day water bottles became “cars” and we could visually see how the nose of the car lowered when we braked and how the front end raised with acceleration.  We also learned about contact patches, how much of our tires were actually on the ground during certain driving conditions.  Though I don’t begin to understand it all, things started to make sense as the instructor talked about the car turning corners and how much of the tire had contact on the ground at a time.  So that’s how a car could skid or roll!  Once again the slogan that is starting to stick is to “brake on straight.”  Brake on the turns with less tire contact on some of the wheels….there’s a possible spin situation.  Of course my nerves continued to pick up as we got closer to drive time and learning about all the things that could happen to the car!!

Finally our first drive session of four arrived.  We’d have twenty minutes of practice braking and practice going through a slalom course.  We drove to the start of the braking area.  Drive at 30mph to the double cones and step on the brake as hard as you could.  I made it to 30 but didn’t make much of a stop.  The next time we did 40mph and my stop was better.  The last time through at 50mph and I thought my stop was really good.  AJ my instructor wasn’t impressed.  I didn’t come close to locking my wheels.  Something to work on.

The slalom course was like I’d experienced in autocross.  I didn’t knock any cones down but this time I did.  We were supposed to try to straighten our line out but move nimbly through the cones. The second time through I think I wiped out every cone.  DH was told if he didn’t knock cones down he wasn’t trying.  Well AJ said I didn’t know where the rear end was on my car.  I need to know where all the edges of my car are as well as the wheels.  Some more work to do.  I later met the guy who had to shag (re-set) all my cones.  He was more than happy that my last run through the cones only knocked the last cone flying.  I got the impression I was one of the worst cars through the slalom in terms of knocking over cones.

By now I’m getting excited but also more nervous.  I had my head stuffed with so much new knowledge.  Corner apexes, when to shift, when to go fast, when to brake.  The course was short and intense.  After the braking and slalom course was complete we started to do our first laps.  I was slow but looking at the course on paper and driving it were two different things.  AJ talked about the line through the corners, when to brake, when to go fast.  My head was spinning and over cooking in my helmet.  They allowed us to run our AC’s in the car which helped to keep us cool.  By the way AJ had some “chatter boxes” which helped with communication.  I had an ear piece and microphone, as he did too, so I could both hear and talk to AJ. (The microphone also let AJ know when I’d stopped breathing and needed to take a breath!)  We didn’t have to yell over the engine noise or AC. The checkered flag came out which meant we were done with our session and we needed to come in.  I was worn out and hoping that AJ would continue to be willing to work with me since I didn’t feel like I was doing too well.  He was and said it would take time to get it all. Be patient.

We had another short classroom session to talk over what we’d learned.  One young woman had already blown a part off her car which was from a previous run in with a cone in an autocross the week before. We talked about where our hands have to be on the steering wheel.  They need to be at 9 and 3.  (So do your hands!!)  The instructor asked if anyone had a problem.  I had gotten asked a couple of times to move my hands.  They had crept up to 10 and 2.  Tension in my shoulders!!  So that’s why my shoulders were hurting already.

Out to driving session two.  After sharing with AJ my experience in the MGB and being able to see the driving lines better, AJ drove my car for the first 3 laps so I could see the line.  Within seconds of getting on the course we came to this series of two really tight turns.  Of course AJ took them fast and hard.  My head being already heavy with my helmet crashed sideways with the G’s and landed on the window and got ‘stuck’ there.  This proceeded to make my eyes feel like they were spinning.  Yikes!!  I was able to pull my head up and braced myself for the fast ride.  There is nothing to hold on to in my car other than the seat.  So I held on the best I could and listened to AJ tell me when he was braking, turning, accelerating.  I’m trying hard not to get overwhelmed with the fast ride and information.  We went to the paddock and traded places.  I could understand what AJ was telling me but I wasn’t able to do what he was saying.  I was also getting concerned about other cars around me and that’s when he took my mirrors away from me!  He’d be my eyes for the other cars.  He knew when I let up on the gas and he knew when I needed to shift and quickly barked the orders to me.  My first few attempts at downshifting from third to second with my right hand on the left side of the steering wheel in a tight turn were very messy.  Somehow I got my hand down on the shift lever but the car was nearly stopped because of the tight turns.  (Turning slows the car down so you don’t need brakes on the turn, but before the turn. Because of physics you actually accelerate in the turns.)  I felt like I was flying.  Go fast, brake, shift, go fast, you’re letting off the gas, faster, lightly brake…..ahhhhh!!!!!!!!  The checkered flag flew and I was so grateful to get off the course.  I was exhausted both physically and mentally.

It was lunch time but I opted to not eat.  I wasn’t getting motion sick but I had a major headache from all the lurching around.  I got my umbrella out and found a place to stretch out in the grass and rested.  Everyone was gulping water.  I was soaking my clothes with a wet washcloth to help me stay cool.  We did have an air conditioned building but I found it so cold that I thought it better to stay in wet clothes out in the heat.

Session three started.  AJ was pushing me hard.  I was getting things better but still had more to learn. Before we started driving we had a 30 minute session just with our instructor.  We poured over the map of the course talking about where I needed to brake and why.  There were some really close turns that required a lot of

Hoods up, cooling the engines, waiting for our next on track time.

Hoods up, cooling the engines, waiting for our next on track time.

fast maneuvers. On paper I got the idea and understood the physics of it.  In practice….another story.  Faster, break lightly and get on the gas again, shift into second, get on the gas, brake, full throttle, shift into 3rd, brake, one nice smooth steering motion…….my ribs were starting to hurt from all the turning.  My whole body was in motion.  My feet going from pedal to pedal.  Oops…..two wheels off the pavement on one of the tight turns.  I got black flagged and had to go in to talk to the driving steward.  I got a bit out of control on my turn and ended up off the track.  He said take care and not to do that again.  And I didn’t.  Two laps later I took all four wheels off the pavement in the same place!!  That time I didn’t get flagged.  My next few laps were pretty bad.  My focus was gone. That time I missed my shift and went from second to fifth.  My correction got made too close to making the turns and I just could coordinate it all.  I left the track a lap before they closed our session.  I was exhausted and hot and not at all feeling confident.  AJ wasn’t flustered a bit and said I had an incredible amount of information to process in a very short time.  Took the car on a cool down lap, parked, and opened the hood to cool the engine.  I took some time and got wet and drank more water.  DH and I were off to observed a flag corner for the experienced drivers.  We got to see how they observed and reported on the cars and used the various flags.  DH and I talked and I had mostly decided that I was unsafe to drive our last session.  I was really wiped out and hot.  I found AJ and started to tell him how tired I was and concerned about driving safely.  He suggested that we slow down and work with more detail on my driving line.

My tech inspection sticker indicating that my car had been inspected and was ready to go!

My tech inspection sticker indicating that my car had been inspected and was ready to go!

So back in the car we went and into the line waiting for our start on the track.  I got the flag to start and without coaching I put my foot on the gas and went full blast.  AJ wasn’t giving me all the step by step instructions.  He was letting me run.  AJ did make a few comments but he was letting me try to do it on my own.  And I was the one doing the pushing and I was pushing hard. Adrenaline! AJ kept track of my moves and corrected as needed.  He must have known I couldn’t go on the track and do a half a job.  I was still missing corners, shifts, but I was also getting some corners better and some sifts better.  I at least was shifting fast and not slowing the car down.  Finally I lost concentration again and I was really done for the day.  I probably only missed a lap that session as well.  Now for sure I was cooked!!!!  No doubt about that.  My body ached everywhere.  I can’t imagine racing for hours.  We talked to new friends and others we already knew, said our goodbyes and drove home.  I crawled into bed totally wasted.  My mind continued to race all night.  When I went to bed I had decided that I needed to have started this performance driving earlier in life.  An actual big race track run was now just a distant thought.

This is a sketch of the track.  I marked in red my interpretation of the line I tried to drive and the apexes of the corners.  I also indicated some of my shifts. (Oops I forgot to indicate 3rd gear on the long pass straight away at the top of the track.

This is a sketch of the track. I marked in red my interpretation of the line I tried to drive and the apexes of the corners. I also indicated some of my shifts. (Oops, I forgot to indicate 3rd gear on the long pass straight away at the top of the track.)

And then I woke up in the morning having gone over every corner and driving line I could remember.  I enlarged the course so I could mark up each corner and every driving line.  Where to shift and when to brake.  Hmmm, maybe I’ll sign up for the next PDX in October.  Also AJ and others told me that driving a full size race course would almost be easier because it would be longer and not so intense.  Hmmmm, could I really do it?  And my thoughts are racing on and I’m starting to think I might like to try a bigger track.  The actual race car may be something for later or that I could just dream about.  I’d have to drive that by myself.  Could I do the driving, use the mirrors, and the traffic all at once?  I can do the race track with my PT and an instructor. That may be my more realistic goal.

Tonight I hope to sleep well with no shifting and driving dreams.  And suddenly I’m thinking more about driving on a big race track….no competitive racing just racing myself to see if I can do it!

Not the end of the story!!

(Tonight I shared my track drawing with my husband.  He told me his instructor talked to the steward who brought the cars off the track and the steward told him every car had done his corner wrong!!  The steward thought that the cars should have not gone to the apex of the corner but stayed wide so they’d be lined up for the straightaway.  That does make sense.  I have a feeling these types of discussions could be ongoing!)

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Autocross Racing

We woke up early to attend our first autocross and complete our autocross training.  For once the sun was out and the temperatures were comfortable.  We were checked in, had gone through tech, and were walking the course before 8am.  DH, a friend of his, and myself walked together.  It looked straight forward on paper but once we were on the pavement within the cones it looked like a sea of orange cones all over everywhere.  It wasn’t long before they sent out instructors to walk with us and explain what was going on.  That was clearer but not much.

Tech was one of the first stops.  They check the car out as well as our helmets.  I had to take everything out of the car down to the garage door opener.

Tech was one of the first stops. They check the car out as well as our helmets. I had to take everything out of the car down to the garage door opener.

All three of us ended up in the same group so we couldn’t watch each other race.  We just had to share our stories.  We had instructors in the car with us for the whole day unless we felt comfortable enough to do the last 3 runs on our own.  We got in our conga line to wait for our turn to start.  Each car is racing against itself.  My instructor said our first challenge was to make sure I knew the course.  It took me 58 seconds to do that, including missing several cones, and was most likely the slowest car in the entire race.  Oy!

Getting lined up.  DH's car was behind me.

Getting lined up. DH’s car was behind me.

Once I broke the beam to start the clock I had to make a sharp right turn and enter a slalom.  It was an optional slalom.  Optional referred to taking it right-left-right or left-right-left.  Optional doesn’t mean drive by if I don’t want to do it.  Then I had to floor it to the carousel, slow quickly and turn around a circle of cones as close to the cones as possible.  When I was about halfway through that I had to unwind to floor it to a gate.  I finally got doing the gate wide so I could do a better turn in the sweep.  Out of the sweep into the Chicago box (don’t have a clue why it’s called that!) and no brakes!  Then gas and stay wide into the apex turn and fast across the finish line.  As I drove to park my car after my first session an instructor came and said, “I wanted to tell you to push on the gas!  We’ll even buy you a new set of tires if you go fast.”  I guess I was very noticeably slow. I never got out of first gear!

After lunch we started the second driving session.  I got a new instructor and she wasn’t at all impressed with a 52 second lap.  So she started to coach me.  I got out of first gear and into 2nd so I had more power in the car.  She was constantly yelling to go, go, go! Don’t use the brake!! Go, go, go!!!!  It felt really exciting and suddenly my laps started to come down into the 40’s.  She set a goal for me to get into the 30’s.  So off I went.  I started sliding on the turns and even feeling some G’s!!!!  It was hard work but as I pulled across the timing line I got a 39.8 and found that I had a fan club of cheering fans.  Probably because I wasn’t slowing the course down.

A car racing through the cones.

A car racing through the cones.

Shagging cones will be another post. Lots of other things to tell too.  One does not just race!  You have jobs to do to earn your race time!  I did pass my course and am ready for more racing!  Now to sign up for the next driving school of a different type of racing….again in my PT….in July…


The date's off because the classroom course was in April but the driving had to be postponed because of snow piles in the parking lot!

The date’s off because the classroom course was in April but the driving had to be postponed because of snow piles in the parking lot!

PS.  They cheered for dear husband when he made a lap without hitting cones!!  I never hit any cones though missed a few.




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Well, I’m a bit lost lately.  Some days I was so overwhelmed with Katie and her needs and wants.  And now the house is very quiet and devoid of paw prints!  It’s the first time in the almost 22 years we’ve lived in this house that it’s just me during the day.  I picked up her ashes today.  They also make a clay paw print.  I loved a note in a friend’s card, “Katie’s absence must leave a hole in your hearts even if fewer holes in the lawn.”  We have actually decided that Katie’s favorite hole will be her resting place.  She often napped there.  The picture of Katie in the last post was taken in that hole.  Callie cat also loved that spot too.  It was where she hung out when she first arrived in our yard more than happy to eat bread crusts.  Another friend gave me a lovely plant that will make for a lovely memorial garden.  Though yet another friend said she planted a tree over her dog’s ashes and the tree died.  So I may think the details through a bit better.  I think the ashes change the acidity in the soil.

I’d also like to say that I really appreciate all the notes we got.  It was a comfort to know that we had people supporting us.  Thank you!

So now to plan out the summer.  Of course I’d hoped to get some of our remodeling done but that seems to be a lost cause.  Finally we have a bit of money to get our bathroom and kitchen updated a bit and we can’t seem to find anyone willing to do the work!  I have now contacted 3 people who I thought would be interested in putting in our deck/patio.  No return calls.  No contact.  Granted the weather just now is good for outdoor work and everyone is probably busy….I thought we’d at least get a call….I’ve talked to another possible remodeler and he will only gut the bathroom.  We want to do moderate updates.  Meanwhile the appliances continue their downhill decline in the kitchen.  We bought a toaster/convection oven to buy us time on the dead oven on our range.  I never thought we’d be in a position to get things done and then can’t get the help we need.  Last night DH (dear husband) picked up sandwiches for dinner. A portion of the money was going to a good cause that a neighbor was involved with.  While DH was waiting for his sandwiches this neighbor asked if we’d ever thought about selling our house as he was interested in it.  The condos we’re interested in cost nearly twice the house plus all the fees…..I just want my simple updates and I think our house will be very livable for a long time.  The fresh paint gave me hope of things to come!

I am making plans to go to cello camp as well as chamber music camp.  And up coming is a quick run to visit my parents.  Of course there are our autocross racing plans too.

So I’m working on making all the adjustments. There are no more muddy foot prints and no more trails of water from the water bowl and no more large fur balls.  I really miss Katie’s company.  Thanks again for all of your support.

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RIP Katie Dog

Katie isn't a fan of AC and the noise it produces!  She enjoyed some sun time.

Katie Dog!

Katie left our family yesterday to go join her cat sister Callie in heaven.  She will be greatly missed.  She was doing OK but definitely having problems.  Her system must have crashed yesterday as she got very sick within a few hours.  The family was with her when she went.  She had a good life.  Now she won’t have to fear me leaving her, or fear thunderstorms, and should be able to run and play like a puppy again.  Rest in peace Katie Dog!


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Serious Head Gear

Our family is ready for our summer racing events…

"Baby" Bear.

“Baby” Bear.

Mama Bear

Mama Bear

Papa Bear

Papa Bear

As you can tell we are each doing different types of racing.

Baby Bear is the most serious.  He has his fireproof balaclava under the helmet.  He’s also wired for radio contact.  He will be driving a Chump race car in a helmet, fire suit, racing shoes, fire underwear, water-cooled shirt, and have a Hans device attached to his helmet to protect his neck.

Mama Bear will be starting out with autocross racing through orange cones in her purple PT Cruiser.  Just me and the time clock.  The plan is to go to another driving school with the PT and learn more skills so I’m ready to drive on a race track.  My type of helmet (We are required to wear only a full face helmet.  Since we aren’t racing we don’t need the other safety gear.) is required for the next step….driving an open cockpit race car on a track!  And with other race cars, though I won’t be racing.  Baby Bear said that they might bolt in a passenger seat and harness into their Chump car when they take “his” car to test drive on the track.  If they do he may take me for a ride.

Papa Bear will also start racing on the autocross course with his Fiat 500 Abarth.  His next goal is to drive it on the race track though not racing it.  He does not plan to drive a race car so he only needs an open-faced helmet.

Meanwhile the discussion continues about tires and wheels.  Another set of wheels has been found for my summer tires on my PT.  (That’s a big thing to Baby and Papa Bears!  Who would have thought?) We think we can remove the winter tires from all the cars now.  I don’t expect to be eating tires but that could happen.  We saw some spin outs watching an advanced autocross race yesterday.  The one driver was our instructor and he’s a very skilled driver.  I suspect he was trying to max out a driving skill and lost it while eating a few cones.

My rule to remember is if I brake hard, have my wheels straight.  If I go fast, have my wheels straight.  My suspicion is that the in between driving parts will be the challenge!




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Another Recital

The hours of prep and practice and hard work is over in a flash.  This was my second time playing this piece in a recital setting.  It was better but probably the 5 most difficult chords that required the most work and hours of practice….well, they slipped out of my grasp, again.  And wouldn’t you know that I hit them most of the time when I practiced today.  I didn’t make any faces!!  But there was plenty of internal cringe that I let go so I could go on to the next notes or another chord, good or bad.

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