check engine

check engine

In the department of mundane affairs, the other day the ‘check engine’ light came on in my old ‘liberal-mobile’ (with a bumper sticker espousing my liberal agenda.)  This turn of events necessitated a trip to the auto-repair facility that I frequent; frequent being the most important word, as this problem has been recurring since June of this year.  <sigh>

the u turn

First, I check the side mirror for oncoming traffic and prepare to make a u-turn from the curb, much as in life one must take a rear view in order to move forward.

leaving home

As is often the case, I must make the choice of actually leaving the neighborhood; left is out, right circles back around with the option of staying.

aliso wood canyon

This stop offers another opportunity to escape reality, but the downhill pull is powerful and I relent to the laws of gravity.


Vanity is sometimes an obscure puzzle of consonants and the occasional vowel.

aliso creek

At this hour (shortly after 8 AM) there is much traffic–some going to the high school nearby, other fleeing the high school on their way to work and their thoughts turn from kids to income.

land of lexus

Many supplicants in our community worship at the feet of the twin gods, Lexus and Mercedes, with obscure paeans to their religion of luxury emblazoned in metal as empowered by the state.


Target signals the toll road and my final opportunity to escape the shackles of commerce and trade for the day.

freeway entrance

This ramp sluices into the highway like a neural pathway, signaling the onset of freeway trance.

ocean view

The toll road slices through pristine wilderness (saved by a concerted community effort) and eventually peaks/peeks at the ocean in the distance.

newport coast

With a storm rolling in, the view to Los Angeles has been wiped with chalky clouds.

mcfadden ave

Off the freeway at last and into the more ‘urban’ area of our county.  What? You don’t see any difference?

valencia gardens

Saving money, for one, is more important and not being afraid to advertise it is your first clue that the ‘economic climate’ has changed in this neighborhood.

bus stop

People actually take public transportation here and are not embarrassed by doing so.


There are billboards (celebrity diseases!) along city streets, preaching to people who cannot afford to give or to buy, a sure sign of urbanization.


Everything familiar from my neighborhood has changed…the cars, the buses, the stoplights, the views.

nuts bolts rivets

But now I find myself in the parking lot of the car repair shop — and there staring back at me is NUTS BOLTS RIVETS.  Wouldn’t life be simpler if we concentrated on what we do best?  No SCREWS, no WASHERS, just NUTS BOLTS RIVETS.  I’m challenged by this simplicity and bold affirmation.


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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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