Monday, August 13, 2007

Life Is a Highway, I Want to Ride It All Night Long

I have driven a small SUV for the past year as I commute about 100 miles a day. The car gets about 22-25 miles per gallon, which is not bad for that sort of vehicle. But when gas prices escalated, I one day realized that I was filling up my car's gas tank two or three times a week, at $45 a crack! Whoa! Stop the insanity!

One Saturday I insisted that hubby and I look at hybrid cars. I did my research on the different types of propulsion methods, battery life situations, etc. and settled on the 2007 Toyota Prius. We were met at the dealership by a very knowledgeable and pleasant salesperson, Johan, a South African expatriate with that lovely accent. We went through the process and left that evening with a new car. Bye-bye, PT Cruiser! We had some great times!

I am a self-described tree-hugger (my husband snickers when I say that). Now that I have the Prius, I feel less guilty about driving so far to work. I fill up once a week, about 10 gallons. I average about 50 mpg, but I'm hoping to do better as I get more used to the car. I figure I saved about $90 in gas the first month.

I took a trip to Michigan a few weeks ago in my Prius. I started out with half a tank of gas and drove the entire way without stopping. In fact, I drove most of the way home without stopping for gas - about 258 miles. I can get used to getting 500 miles plus to a tank of gas.

I'm learning to be in less of a hurry - that alone saves gas. I'm paying attention to how I stop and start the car, when to begin slowing down. I get a kick out of seeing my actual current gasoline consumption jump from 45 mpg to 90 mpg when I have correctly gauged the road and conditions and can almost coast along at optimum speed with minimum effort from the engine.

I find that instead of throwing away plastic drinks bottles from my long drives, I now collect them and pitch them into the recycling bin at the end of the day. It's a little thing, but once I started thinking more green, it just seemed like one more good idea.

No, it's not much, and it may not be enough. but this is my way of greening my life, in addition to the low-energy light bulbs and adding insulation around doors and in outlets. What are you doing to green up? What else could we do?

Getting Old Is Not for Sissies

This morning I spent time gathering everything I was going to need from my car for the day so that I could quickly transfer it from my car to the rental car at the dealership. My service appointment was for 7:45 a.m. and I ended up being five minutes late. But as I pulled into the lot, I suddenly wondered if I had the appointment right. I pulled to the side and hopped out to retrieve my Day-Timer from the back. Sure enough, my service appointment is for next week, not today. I sheepishly got back in my car, turned around and headed toward the turnpike.

My memory - how I miss it! Also my waistline, my hair, my flexibility and my stamina. 2007 is a milestone year - I turned 50 this summer and let me tell you, I'm much too young to be this old.

The memory thing, though, that's the worst. I started noticing that I was "losing" words about two years ago, after I had major surgery. I was sure it was due to the anesthesia in my system, but the ability to think and talk off the cuff had drained away.

Now, after talking to many post-menopausal women, I think it is more related to age and changing hormone levels. Suddenly I feel stupid. I communicate for a living, after all! If I can't speak fluidly and candidly, what use am I?

Thank goodness for the written word. When I write, I can put down whatever comes into my head and adjust the words in a later edit. Not so with the spoken word!

I have a friend who told me that when his dad started to move slower and more stiffly and grunted or groaned when he rose from his chair, the son was unsympathetic. He thought, why are you making such a big deal about it? Just get up!

Then my friend turned 40 and suddenly, it seemed, he moved slower, got stiffer, and had some aches and pains when he got up in the morning. Now he understood and had sympathy for his dad. His dad wasn't lazy or looking for sympathy - he was just growing older.

The good news, though, is that while time has temporarily robbed me of some vocabulary - temporarily because eventually I figure out the exact word I want to use - I still have my wits, intelligence, humor, and optimism. I'm still me, just a little slower.