I was at the main door of mom’s Nursing Home to drop off some pink roses and candy for her. There were two sisters there also, with their husbands. The staff had called and asked them to come right over as the sister’s 93-year-old father appeared to be close to death. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, so the policy is two people go in at a time. While the sisters hurried in, I made conversation with their husbands. That’s how I found out about the father. It was only a few minutes later that both sisters came hurrying back out, sobbing uncontrollably. The only time I’ve heard lamentation in my sheltered life was on TV, so I didn’t get what I was listening to at first. I just knew they sounded viscerally sad. One sister cried out, “We didn’t get to see him. Our father’s already dead!” As they leaned into their husband’s embraces, their eyes were still dry with shock. So their husbands could comfort them, I gave my apologies and got out of there. As I drove home, I thought about what I’d just witnessed. It was at that point that I realized the two women had been lamenting. Tears weren’t good enough. Not being able to say goodbye to their father had shredded their hearts, and they were wailing in an absolute agony of grief. It’s September now, and I haven’t been able to see our mom since April. One of my greatest fears is that she will pass before I ever get a chance to give her another hug. There have been half a dozen cases of Covid-19 at the nursing home, but so far, they’ve managed to keep the virus under control. My mom is eighty-eight years old and bedridden, so even if she doesn’t get the virus, she probably doesn’t have much longer. All four kids talk to her once a week on a Zoom video chat, and they’ve let us start dropping off presents again. It’s the best we can do amid this global catastrophe. One day, maybe soon, I’ll get that same call from the nursing home. I can only pray that I will get there in time to tell my mother goodbye. PS> I am not posting this, so conspiracy theorists can mouth off. There are very few facts about Corona, and most of what we think we’ve figured out is proving suspect. That doesn’t seem to stop everyone from having an opinion. Please don’t assume another person’s pain gives you the right to express yours.
My brother Mark fell in love with cars when he was a teenager... Thirty-two years ago, he made his dreams come true, opening up Campbell's Classics on Highway 183 in North Austin. He specialized in British sportscar sales and repair. I remember a shop full of Triumphs and MGs. I was into muscle cars back then, but he'd let me take one home anytime I liked. I learned to downshift and hug corners, and quickly figured out their appeal. Then, construction made 183 a mess and he moved his business to I35 in Round Rock. A steady stream of gawkers hampered his ability to get work done, so Mark happily sold that location for a tidy profit and moved again. In Taylor, he found a large open building that had once housed the Boot Scoot bar. It became the new home for Classic Street in 2007, and he's been there ever since. Elvis used to perform at the Boot Scoot when he was stationed at Fort Hood back in '58. Mark claims that when he's working late at night, the wind can sound like Elvis crooning a love song. Maybe not so far fetched. I've heard Elvis loved cars as much as my brother does. Classic Street focuses on the '50s and '60s muscle cars and trucks, as well as every kind of classic. A one-of-its-kind, right-hand-drive prototype Triumph TR250 still sits next to his office. If he can stop restoring cars long enough, he may get it to England one day where it will command top dollar. The problem is he stays busy seven days a week, buying, selling, and restoring classic cars. It's a labor of love though. Everyone who works there suffers from OCD (Old Car Disease), the same as my brother does. It just looks like a field full of old vehicles to me, but his fellow enthusiasts show up and claim it's a gold yard. Mark Campbell's cell is 512-255-4556. He's happy to talk with fellow car nuts about his passion anytime, or you can check out www.classicstreet.com to see his collection of cars, trucks, and services.
My old air conditioner gave me seventeen good years, but as it neared the end of its life it was starting to have problems. I figured it might limp along for another year or two, but with my luck, it would kick the bucket about the same time my thermometer hit 103. It's still winter, so I wondered if I could find a good enough deal on a new system to make replacing the old one a no brainer. I called three different companies for bids and had three very different experiences. The first company came out, looked things over, and with a minimum of due diligence gave me a relatively high bid. The second company gave me a detailed pitch on why their company was the biggest, the best in the business, and so always the one to buy from. They ran their checks and covered my needs, but half their knowledge impart was FUD on the way to a sophisticated, semi-hard close. The third company was Green Leaf out of Round Rock. They chose a low key, service-oriented approach, and did a few things the other companies did not... In addition to actually sharing the details of their tonnage sizing data (which opened my eyes as to how much energy I’d been losing through my old single-pane windows), they did a complete air quality test for free. They explained a home is a contained environment that tends to hold in contaminates. They tested for high carbon dioxide and monoxide levels, particulates that might have fiberglass in them (because of the type of vents used), even relative humidity. The good news for me? Every result was in the Green. But, running those tests helped them make sure they could quote me an A/C system that would meet all my needs. On the way to providing a quote, Green Leaf dispelled the FUD that had been thrown at me and brought up an issue with my plenum (that I hadn't said anything about because the other two companies dissed me when I expressed my concerns). Their quote included replacing the plenum, installing a top of the line wi-fi thermostat, extra breakers sized specifically for the A/C, and a specialized surge protector to prolong the life of my new system. It also included the whole house purifier I've been wanting for years. Their competitors quoted 16 seer, single-speed on/off systems with the purifier. Green Leaf’s quote included a 700 increment variable-speed motor system that would make my home much more comfortable. Their quote wasn't significantly higher, but their system was 18 seer, and it was a Trane! They even threw in twenty-four-month financing at zero percent. So, was it worth buying in the winter? That's a big, fat YES! Since I was willing to engage in a little negotiating, it was just like buying a car last day of the month when the dealer still has quota left to meet. In the winter, air conditioning companies are trying to keep their good techs employed. In the summer, they a