My Mt. Everest | May 2007 Newsletter

My Mount Everest: May, 2007
Merle M. Singer, Founder

“The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.”

Corra Harris

That is a lesson I learned from my husband very early on in our marriage, though I thought he was wrong at the time.

Dear MyMtEveresters,

Be careful who your friends are. For sure, don’t hang out with ‘MyMtEverest’ers if you don’t plan to get stuck climbing a mountain or two. I hooked my husband Nathan into testing his limits – quite unintentionally.

This is what happened. You see I have a pet (favorite, not animal) community project called YCC (Yucca Corridor Coalition) Gateway to Hollywood. It’s an oversized traffic triangle with a beautiful jacaranda tree in the center – that had previously been surrounded by so-so grass and plenty of space for transient inhabitants.

This became my focus of a beautification plan that now has bunches and bunches of day lilies, spots of little fescues, those wonderful white rose bushes, and a profusion of purple lantana. And to counterpoint the tree, we have erected a 30-foot-high sign that vertically reads “Hollywood.” All’s that’s left to be done is to electrify and light the sign.

Blue Star Memorial Site

This little, but important, triangular patch of concrete and nature was chosen as the display place for the National Garden Clubs’ Blue Star Memorial Plaque in honor of all our fallen heroes in wars. Only one such star can be in a city. It is quite an honor for our Gateway.

The dedication was to be held on the real Memorial Day on Wednesday, May 30. Everything was fine until a driver speeding south on Cahuenga plowed into the triangle, cutting a clear dirt swath where once were planted fescues and day lilies, shearing off the sprinkler meter and it’s heavy, sturdy “protection” cage at the ground level pipe.

The Problems

1. With no functioning sprinkler system, the garden needed to be watered by a sprinkler truck.

Problem One solution: Hollywood Beautification Team was authorized by Council District 4 to water the plants.

2. The plants needed to be replaced. (The ceremonial unveiling of the Blue Star Memorial was the following day.)

Problem Two solution was a bit trickier. With Memorial Day Weekend and last-minute plant ordering., HBT didn’t have a truck available to pick up the replacement plants and delivery couldn’t be made that quickly. If we could get the plants, HBT would plant them all.

How to Solve the Problem

Although, I am usually very circumspect before I open my mouth. It isn’t always the case. This day, I just blurted out that I would pick up the plants. I was informed that my handy dandy Mazda Tribute SUV wouldn’t quite measure up to size. For me, no problem; I’ll rent a truck. I had this vision of me driving the truck full of plants back to the triangle.

And thus, an adventure was gestating (not quite born, yet). Later that day I was telling my husband about it, and it came to me. “Why don’t you come with me, Nate?”

I have a husband that rarely misses an opportunity to spend time with me (yes, indeed, I am lucky – and appreciative), so he was hooked. Then actually, I was thinking, maybe he would just make the trip without me so I could do other stuff. (What other stuff? Any other stuff.) Nay, that didn’t work this time. Nathan hooked me. Really, a trip to the valley could be fun.

Now, the picture in my head had changed. I had involved Nate. That meant that he would have to drive. It’s the man’s job. Never mind that it’s just a social convention that doesn’t have to be that way. Social convention most often means behavior by autopilot/default. I actually would have liked to drive, but the prospect of company on an adventure was more compelling.

So where to rent a truck, and how big a truck should we rent? Nobody seemed to be able to tell us what size. We guessed, we ‘over bought’. It was a big, wide flat bed with wooden side rails. I left my cell phone and directions to the nursery in our car, which we had parked. Nathan waited for the truck as they washed it. I went back to the car; Nathan would pick me up there.

The Proclamation

I watched him drive down the street and waited by the side of the road as he stopped beside me. I pulled myself up with the energy that it takes to mount a horse, seated myself and closed the door. Before I even had time to buckle my seat belt, Nathan blurted out that this was the last time that he would ever rent and drive a truck. He doesn’t have to do that anymore. “Enough is enough” he said – spoken with clear emotion and shaking hands on the steering wheel. Well, this was going to be an adventure all right; I was no longer so sure about the fun part.

I offered to drive. I love driving – horses, speed boats, whatever. Definitely not Nathan’s inclination. Yes, it would be scary, but I’ve driven trucks before. So has Nathan (more than me). Don’t be misguided, Nathan is an ex-BMW motorcycle world traveler. That’s how we courted. It was definitely a case of “love me, love my bike,” and if we get that far then it was “love me; love my kids.” But that’s another story.

I offered to drive, but of course he demurred. It’s part of his man’s role to say ‘No’. Men seem to operate on stricter social confines when it comes to Macho situations. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Well, in this case, Lucky Nate; it gave him the opportunity to conquer the situational fear, which is always good for one’s ego. I’m not sure I’ll ever get a “thank you” from my hubby, however.

By the time we were on our way back, Nathan was driving like a pro and breathing evenly with ease and confidence. He met the challenge; I knew he would. I’m glad he exceeded his comfort zone. It is my observation that as people age, they seem to think that they have earned the right to relax and be comfortable. For me, it not about rights; it’s about life. Life is inherently uncomfortable; death is the ultimate comfort.

Be a bit uncomfortable, climb a mountain, endure those knots in your stomach, stretch your courage muscle. It is my secret to long life (or at least high-quality life.)

I have to respect his request; I will never put him in that position again. I won’t volunteer him for truck driving. Yet, I couldn’t help but think about how just being around someone dedicated to “climbing her own Mt Everests” puts you in midst of challenges by association.