Thursday, March 12, 2015


Our first big adventure...Norman!

Camy was ready to go on that hot August day.  She was loaded down with boxes full of ambition...that and a lot of clothes.  My brother actually drove that day, but him, Camy and myself made the trip behind my parent's large pick up truck full of stuff.

Camy's speakers beautifully played the playlist I had prepared.  Songs like "One-Way Ticket" and "Wide Open Spaces" filled her inner cavity.  She was my partner on this new adventure I had decided upon.  In the following months we together explored citizenship in a new city and a state university.  Some of our earliest experiences together on campus involved dozens of parking tickets.  I would cringe and then laugh when I would come out of class or a meeting and find a little yellow envelope tucked under her wiper blade.

We actually found out pretty quick that it was bette

r for her to rest during the day while I walked a mile or so to school and back.  College campuses are particularly vehicle-friendly.

Fortunately, Camy and I would take time to explore on the weekends.  My friends and I would make trips to Bricktown, Oklahoma City and Shawnee, occasionally.  And when we were busy driving around the metro, Camy and I were zipping down south to visit the folks for the weekend.  To this day, Camy still holds the record for fastest time through a PikePass booth.

Camy took me to my first OU/Texas game in Dallas.  She even got a little bump on the rear as a permanent memory of the trip.

We went to and from Altus and Norman to visit my Grandma when she was in her last weeks.  Camy held my cousin and I as we shared tears, memories and laughter on the road home.

Job interviews, internships and night classes were all made possible because of my friend.  She even drove me to my college graduation, and the delicious meal with the family afterwards.

This past year Camy has taken on a whole new role.  As my life has grown and changed, she has adapted well every step of the way.  It takes a special car to be a Chamber Car.  Not just any car has what it takes to carry supplies for monthly board meetings like sandwiches, chips, cookies, iced tea, bags of ice, papers, documents, folders and invoices.

Not just any car can survive a weekend of Cotton Festival supplies.  Boxes full of gloves, napkins, bowls, sample cups, spoons, cash money, chips, crackers, banners, tables, chairs, ticket boxes, pamphlets and brochures filled Camy from the inside out as I used her for my portable storage unit that weekend.  All day long I was running back and forth to my trusty friend for music CD's, extra pens, sharpies, and other supplies.  The same goes for Oyster Fry and Wagon Wheel too.  Did you know that Camy is capable of holding TEN cases of water bottles, in her trunk alone!?

Throughout the week she zips all over town with me.  We deliver invoices, pick up donations from good members, drop of deposits and mail, visit businesses and hang flyers.  We stay busy doing business Monday through Friday and we look official doing it because Camy is a professional car.  She has an image she upholds well.  We call her feisty because she is.  From the second you sit down she is a no-nonsense vehicle.  Her alert to fasten your seat belt is of the most persistent alarms I have heard.  She is strict on safety, but big on fun.  Her stereo system likes to be played loud and her seats like to be filled with friends.

In fact, she is excellent in her weekend transformation.  On the weekends she morphs back into her more youthful (but still responsible) self.  She delivers my friends and I to all sorts of happening spots around the area.  Lawton, Altus and Wichita are all places where Camy finds us having fun.  Good Saturday nights are often marked in Camy's backseat.  Taco Bell packets, shredded cheese and the occasional mini Fireball bottle wedged in between the backseats are all signs of the good times we had inside Camy's protection.

Of course, Camy is good for solitude, too.  Around June of last year I was driving home from Altus on an early morning.  I had stayed the night at a friends house when we got home extremely late from a tourism meeting in Weatherford.  As I was driving home that morning, Camy was silent.  The radio was off and the morning sunrise made for a perfect drive full of prayer and meditation.  I had both hands on the wheel and I was focused solely on the road in front of me.  There was no phone ringing, no music blaring and no friends chattering, just me and Camy talking to God on the open road.  This magical moment was brought to a screeching halt when a deer suddenly lept from the right side of my vehicle to the left, where he then rolled off the road.  My only reaction was a high-pitched yelp as I heard the loud thud hit Camy's grill.  My heart beat fast and my mind was shocked, but I realized Camy and I were okay and we were still moving.  So I drove a few more miles down the road before I realized Cam might need some love and inspection towards her spot of impact.

When I got out of the car I was shocked to see her entire front end hanging down and brushing against the pavement.  Her headlights were shattered along with the rest of the front bumper.  Though she looked awful, we still had to get home, so I pushed her to finish the remaining fifteen miles it took to get home.

By the time we rolled in the driveway she had two blinking maintenance lights and a faint smell of smoke filling the air.  I turned her off and said a prayer of gratitude that we had made it home.  Unfortunately, when I filled Dad in about the situation, he was less than pleased.  I guess what I should have done was pull over immediately and not continue to drive on an injured engine.  With Dad's inspection he decided Camy needed to see her physician, Dr. Greg Petty.

I watched as my father and my brother loaded Camy on to a trailer.  She screeched and stumbled and scratched, but they finally got her loaded on the trailer.  I waved goodbye and hoped to see her in a few weeks.

Sure enough, about a month later I got to reunite with my best buddy.  She was as good as new for only about a thousand dollars with the help of insurance.  We wrote Dr. Petty a kind check and galloped out of town with the excitement of our reunion.

It wasn't but a few months later that Camy encountered another incident.  My cousin and I had taken her to Arkansas for a weekend trip.  (She does excellent on road trips, by the way.)  We were on our way home on a busy two-lane interstate when a tire popped up in the middle of the lane.  Miranda was driving, but because there was not time nor space to swerve into the next lane, she screamed and hit the tire head-on.

Immediately we pulled over to a big grassy area, off of the main road.  We used the flashlights on our cell phones to discover Camy's injuries.  She had a large piece of black plastic hanging down from the bottom of the front left side.  The fog light on that side was swinging loose as well, and a big piece of something was hanging down the center of the front bottom-side.

Two single girls sat on the side of a dark, busy highway four hours from home, with no mechanical skills that we knew of.  We called the Highway Patrol but they were of no help.  After discussing the dilemma with Dad we knew we had to find a way to fix it ourselves.  So with a little bit of creativity, Miranda pulled out an old scarf she didn't like and I dug through my purse for a pocket knife.  Miranda cut the scarf into thin strands and together we bolstered up Camy's entire bottom front-half.  We tied and tightened over and over again until we thought our redneckery would last us the twenty minutes we needed into the next gas station.

After saying another prayer, I pulled back out onto the highway.  Twenty, thirty, and finally fifty miles an hour, we went as we held our breath for our safety.  After five minutes we pulled over again to check our mastery.  Camy was holding up fine and our scarf trick had worked.  We proceeded to the next rest stop where we bought duct tape, bungee chords and Cheetos, just in case we got stuck again somewhere.

Fortunately, Camy made it the rest of the way home, and even over to Tipton where she again spent a week with Dr. Petty.  In under a thousand dollars, Camy was spick and span again and ready for another adventure.

Through snow storms, ice storms, dirt roads and interstates, Camy has made an excellent companion.  She has just over 80,000 miles on her now, but with that comes experience.  Together we've been to three different states, two college and lived in three cities.  She's been with me through good times and bad.  We no longer panic when we have no idea where we are.  Bumps and bruises are no longer threatening, but an excuse for a good story.  And an unknown road is only an option for adventure.

We've been together almost six years now, and Camy ain't done yet.  Any car that car survive my driving drama deserves a gold medal in my book.  As I mentioned earlier, cars aren't just inanimate objects.  They are devices that take us on adventures where memories are waiting to be found, and I hope Camy and I will have many more memories!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Have you ever heard the theory that people look like their dogs? Someone who owns a Bulldog might be a little bit gruff-faced, the owner of a Whippet might be extremely thin and athletic, or the owner of a lab might have big brown eyes.

I have a theory that people look like their cars.  Okay, maybe not look like them, but they drive a vehicle that reflects their personality.  Cars a symbol in Western culture.  They are a symbol of who you are, where you work and how much money you make.  Of course, you shouldn't be surprised to learn this, the American Dream is lurching everywhere.

Like it or not, in our culture, cars are tied to our identity.  Think how big of a deal it is to turn 16 and get your first car, or to work your butt off for years to purchase your first vehicle.  How many country songs are written about an old truck or 'ol blue or some other nickname used for a vehicle?  In fact, lots of people name their cars.  I know a majority of my friends have nicknames for their cars.  We include them in our nightly plans as if they were a member of the gang. "Let's take Sharla, she'll be best on fuel!"

Our personal vehicles are more than just a means of getting around, they are devices that truly transport us.  We let them carry us through different defining moments of life, and like a wise elder, they sit quietly and ask only for a little TLC when needed.  For this reason they are all the more cherished and accepted as one of our own.

With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you to a very dear friend of mine.  Meet Camy, the feisty red-head with big dreams and a fearless heart.

Camy is actually my second car.  After lots of shopping around and comparing safety features, my Dad bought her for me as a graduation present.  Though I wasn't fond on the shape of a Toyota Camry at first, I decided the Sports Edition would grow on me.  I have this impression that Camrys are normally sold as a Mom car or as a travel car for people in their mid-forties and up.  They are very economical cars with great gas mileage, not something you typically see an 18 year old driving around in.  Nevertheless, Camy and I have really grown to be great friends.

I was originally attracted to her because of her beautiful taillights.  The design of the Sports Edition looks like rhinestones are placed inside the taillights.  Being the blinged-out Senior in high school that I was, I loved that my car matched my favorite rhinestone accessories, but particularly my rhinestone ring I wore quite often.  The next thing I loved about my new friend, was her sunroof.  With rhinestones and a sunroof, I knew this chick would be a great companion for me.  My father of course, was sold on the fact that these cars run forever and are very safe.  The gas mileage was great which is good for a daughter traveling back and forth on her own across the state.

Other than making Sonic runs in Frederick, my first big moment with Camy was during the second semester of my Freshmen year.  I was attending WOSC in Altus and things were going well.  Once a week I was driving to Lawton for Mary Kay Meetings, but this particular week I had happened to go to a Mission Trip meeting at the Lawton BCM director's house instead.  Camy made the trip there and back like a champ.  She was superior.

The next day I hoped in my stylish ride like always.  I parked her in the back parking lot at school while I completed my morning classes, then I whipped in Wal-Mart for some household items and then finally parked in the Plantation parking lot where I was going to visit Grandma Sadler for a bit.

As I got out of my car, I shut the door and happily started walking towards the front doors of the building.  A few steps in, I turned around to look at my car as I pressed the lock button, and in a matter of seconds my entire world came crashing down.

I looked again.  Surely this is a dream!  Should I slap myself?  When did this happen?  How do I not know about this?  Am I alive?  Was I in a car wreck?  A total state of shock washed over me as I stood in the parking lot staring at my beautiful car.  I had been so diligent with her for the past ten months.  I washed her weekly, kept the tank full and drove her as gently as I could.  Yet somehow, the entire back end of her bumper was gone.  The beautiful taillights I had fallen in love with was shattered on the right side.  The outer red shiny plastic above the right tire was bent back so far that I could actually see the black metal frame that held my car together.  Needless to say, the entire right rear side of my vehicle was obliterated.

Panic, shock, fear washed over me.  I swallowed hard as big alligator tears voluntarily swelled up in my eyes.  I did the only thing my mind could think of.  I called Dad.

"Yeah, Haley."  He answered the phone.

Despite my desire to be strong and brave, I began sobbing.  I didn't know what to say.  I couldn't even tell my Dad what happened because I didn't know.  My heart was so sad and disappointed in whatever I did that was wrong.

Through sobs and tears I managed to get it out. "My car is broken."

Dad, calm and cool as ever, asked me to clarify my situation.

"I don't know.  I got out to go see Grandma and I looked and my bumper is messed up, the taillight is broken and I can see metal!

I'm so sorry, Dad.  I didn't hit anything.  I don't know what happened. "

"Well some one probably hit it.  Those things happen."

Dad seemed way too calm for this situation.  Those things happen??  What do you mean those things happen?  People go around smashing each other's cars for no reason?  Why did this happen to me?  I was being so careful!

Without much emotion, Dad told me it would be okay and that he would look at it in the next day or two.

Contrary to Dad's coolness, I was still a complete mess.  My stomach hurt, my heart was broken, I couldn't even go face Grandma.  So I went home.  I went home, sat down in our old red recliner and I texted my best friend, Abbye.

"I need a hug. :("

She sent back a sad face and said she'd be home soon.  While I waited all I could do was hold myself and cry.  Why would someone hit my car and not tell me?

My poor, poor Camy.  I had been so careful and so nice to her too.  She didn't deserve this.  She wasn't even a year old!

When Abbye came home she walked in the front door with a look of panic and concern on her face.  She saw me in the red chair and immediately came over to give me a big huge bear hug that was her specialty.  I bawled into her shoulder for a few minutes and then stopped to get a Kleenex and a deep breath.  She patted my shoulder and then asked me what was wrong.

After telling her my life-altering news, she laughed.

"Why are you laughing?"  I said through a red face and a crooked frown.

"I'm sorry, that wasn't funny.  It's just that, I thought it was something bad like boy trouble or death."

Okay her point wasn't totally out of line.  But I still felt awful.  Luckily, Abbye knew exactly what to do next.

"I'm taking you to get ice cream."

You would be utterly amazed at how far a cup of Braum's Birthday Cake Ice Cream goes.

So that was my first dose of reality, I would say.  I learned that people can be mean and careless and not have to suffer any consequences for it.  I also learned that you can be a good Christian lady, work hard, clean your car every week, and bad things can still happen to you.

Camy was there for that important life lesson.  Luckily she was as good as new with a small insurance claim and a couple thousand dollars.  A good waxing and her and I were shiny buddies again.

It wasn't until several months later that we made our first big adventure together.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Onions Have Been Planted

The first crop of the new year has been planted.  Six rows of delicious onions; 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 white, have been planted.

I had held off planting for the past few weeks due to several different things.  Grandpa's 90th Birthday Party, lots of freezing rain and snow, and spending more time working on the house.  After the majority of Hoovers left on Sunday morning, I found my time and weather, to plant onions.  The sunshine could not have been more beautiful, and the forecast called for a 50% chance of rain on Monday.

I had never planted onions before and I couldn't quite remember Grandpa's verbal instructions from three weeks back, so luckily Dad was around and he helped me get started.  The equipment we use still makes me giggle.  Two metal posts, some old string and a metal do-hickey are all we needed.  I had somehow thought a rake, a shovel and a hoe would be appropriate.

After stretching the string on the two posts to make a straight line, Dad showed me to poke the metal do-hickey into the ground to form small holes about 6 inches apart.  These small holes are what we drop the onion sprouts in.

My cousin Justin and his family came out to say goodbye when they realized what I was working on.  Justin has a very nice garden of his own back in Arkansas.  We discussed heirloom potatoes and red okra.  He also told me about a plant called Egyptian Walking Onions, which seem to replant themselves each year.  I'd like to see all these plants he described.

Justin and I agree that the best cure for sitting in an office all day is getting down and dirty in the garden.  Plus the health benefits of growing and eating your own food are so wonderful.  He is a few steps ahead of me in that he has been growing for longer and thus has a more expanded garden.  He plants tomatos, onions, peppers, squash and all sorts of things.  He also has a few chickens that provide him with fresh eggs and eventually fresh poultry.  This weekend he brought his fresh eggs with him and made omelets for everyone.  He also brought a big jar of non-pasturized milk he bought off of a neighbor.  It was absolutely delicious.

Originally, I had thought it would be fun for the whole family to get involved with the onion planting, making it a fun event on the farm.  However, the weekend was overly packed with fellowship, food and birthday cake, and everyone was only in for 1-2 nights, so I had to plant alone.  Turns out I didn't mind at all.  The solitude was just what I needed after a houseful of 30-50 people.  At first I thought I would play some music to relax, but then I realized you can listen to music anytime.  Silence is not something you can always get.

What a wonderful feeling it is to be all alone in the middle of nature.  I paused to look around me.  Wheat surrounded me on three sides.  Beautiful, lush, green wheat.  My hands and knees were covered in dirt and to my east I could admire the grand house that so often is filled with fond memories of friends and family.  The cows are usually pretty close to the fence near the garden, but they were off in the distance sun-bathing.  Even the kittens were lounging around in the grass, enjoying the quite sunshine.

I haven't mapped out exactly what all I want to plant this year, but my brother said he will be home next weekend and he has every intention of planting potatoes in the garden.  So I guess I will be finding some potato sprouts this week.

I'd like to try my hand in peppers this year for sure.  I love peppers and fresh salsa would be amazing.  However, if I want salsa I will have to learn the techniques for growing tomatos and those seem threatening because they start upside down.

Squash will be planted again, but this time I will make sure we get summer squash instead of winter.  Okra is a must, but I may not plant as much because that, my friends, was a high-maintenance plant.  Grant also mentioned having a few pumpkins for this fall and we all agreed watermelon was fun to pick on hot summer nights.

I guess I will start thinking about the contents of this year's garden.  As long as I can get help from my friends and family I think I am capable again.  Other than onions and potatoes, the rest of the plants prefer to wait until early May to be planted.

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