The Sunshine Award – Bugs are Bliss

I heard recently that one of the best ways a person can begin improving himself is to write his own obituary — well before the day of his demise. I think it was a radio piece on Stephen Covey, who died recently.  The purpose of the exercise is to make you think really good and hard about what you wish to become (rather than what you actually are), a manifesto of sorts to get you working toward that goal of fully being yourself. The ultimate in fulfillment.

I don’t know why it stuck with me, but it got me thinking about my own path and how I impact (and would like to impact) others during my very short stint here on earth.

One word: sunshine.

Sunshine is happy.  Sunshine is warm.  Sunshine is inviting.  Sunshine (with water droplets and the right angle of the sun) makes rainbows. Without it, we would all have a terrible time living and existing.  I want to be sunshine.

I’ve met many makers of sunshine here on WordPress, off recent, Amber at The Usual Bliss blog. Like me, she appreciates the joys of hiking and camping, outdoor living, generally soaking in the beauty of all things and living life to its fullest capacity.  She can find sunshine in a rainfall or a snow storm. My kind o’ gal.

From her blog, I have discovered how to make homemade crack granola (YUM!), entertained fantasies of being out west, and have even discovered that another’s description of “camping” just might make me change my own “comfy” tent camping ways. Most recently, she shared her happiness in the form of another award nomination — the Sunshine Award.

I couldn’t wait to add it to my trophy cabinet. “Gold stars!” she said; I must agree.

But that’s not the best part of it. In that nominating blog post, I discovered that she is also a bug lover. Yep. A bug lover. Squee!

Oooo! Goodie! A robber fly. Let’s get real close…

Wha…? I’m sorry? Not that kind of bug? hangs head

Being a bug lover in her sense is also pretty darn cool, considering what you will learn about me as you read on.

Check this out, from her post:

Amber’s Powder Blue Bug
(The Usual Bliss Blog)

Now, check THIS out.

Once upon a time, there was this little Powder Blue VW Bug that was in desperate need of some love…

See any similarities? Yeah. Me too. Could have been the same car! Perhaps Amber and I are twins separated at birth, only she was the cleaner, girly-er one.

Gawd, I loved that piece of shit bug.

Because there are facets to me that are best left to myself and those closest to me, I won’t be leaving you with a set of random facts about myself for you to ponder. That alone should make you happy.

So here’s the award:


And now, let’s get to introductions. I bring to you my favorite little powder blue Volkswagon 1972 Super Beetle. Bliss. Enjoy.

My first car. Bought for only $500 fresh out of high school, robbing the college fund left to me by my deceased grandfather, I didn’t even learned how to use a clutch yet. (That first 4-way stop was a doozie.) What was left of that fund went into buying the bassoon I ultimately played in college on a full music scholarship. RIP, Grandaddy. I wasn’t a complete idiot loser.

Family time. Lots of time with my brother — who was also my house roomie at the time — together with the book “How to Hotrod an Air-cooled VW” and a JC Whitney catalog, and one crappy “new” bug was born out of my garage over the course of a summer. He and I, together with many cases of beer and a couple of cheater bars, got it running in no time. The VW air-cooled engine is a perfect starter for Mechanics 101.

Build, fail, repeat.  I dropped the engine or the transmission no less than 3 times in as many years.  By the third time, I had it down and could do entirely on my own with one floor jack.  (Turned out there was a thread flaw in the case bolt that caused it to leak oil like crazy; I was constantly fixing that alone.)  Did I mention that it was a piece of shit great learning experience?

The hotrod. The stock 88mm cylinders were machine-bored to a whompin’ 96mm.  When it was all together and purring like a kitten (it really did do that!), I would scratch the tires in 1st and 2nd gears whenever I could, which I did often, ’cause I’m more like a dude than a chick in so many ways.

Something from nothing. All of the parts required to rebuild it were either mail-ordered or pulled them from various junk yards around town. I carried a tool kit in the boot (which was in the front near the gas tank) for the entire time I owned and drove it, because it broke down regularly. I once had to re-purpose a metal hanger as an extra auto part to limp me along until I had enough money saved a more long-term fix could be applied.

Brutal Texas summers…made more brutal. The heat registers in the floorboard were permanently rusted frozen in the open position. What most people called air conditioning I called strategically placing a few pieces of duct tape over those register vents so more heat wasn’t coming in than normal. Then I would just open the windows and try to never to stop moving, lest the air get stagnant.  The tape was removed in the winter for perfect interior temps through the two months we actually needed heat. Voilá.

Hm…looks exactly like a VW Bug

Bernoulli’s principle could easily be modeled by the contoured bug. Just drive on any straight-away at speeds just over 55 mph and it would start to fly. Really scary, not having all wheels to the pavement.

Did I mention that it broke down a lot?  One of the more scary ones was when the silly ignition switch suddenly failed on a rural highway and stranded alone in the middle of nowhere hours from home.  (These were the days of no cell phones, mind you.)  I walked two miles to the nearest house, really just a dilapidated shack, to use phone to call for help. The female of the house even fed me lunch and chatted me up until my brother arrived to tow me back. (Thankfully, the serial killer rapist husband was at work that day.) The replacement part to get The Beast running again only cost $5, but the towing ran me over $200.

The Love Boat. It floods in Houston pretty regularly when it rains, and I drove in those floods with my bug! The door seals were always reliable, never leaked, and the air in-take was up high. I would simply get a good running start before literally floating across a flooded intersection to arrive safely on the high-and-dry side — past all the broken down, swamped cars — revving slightly so that the tail pipe didn’t wind up swallowing any water. Swear.

Sunshine came out of its tailpipe. The perpetual smell of gasoline fumes mixed with vinyl interior was quite noxious intoxicating unforgettable, signature of the old style VW Bug. I always secretly wondered when the fumes would spontaneously ignite and explode into equal parts carbon monoxide and the full color spectrum. It would have been nothing less than spectacular.  And what a way beautiful way to go.

Finally, here are the blogs and their people that fill my days with Sunshine.  Thank you for what you do on WordPress.

Kristin at Snowball Effect
Darla at She’s A Maineiac
Kate at Farmhouse 38
Bob at Texas Tweeties
Allison at Plum Dirt
Julie at Garden Booyah
Angie at Childhood Relived

VW Bugs totally rock!  And so do you all.

26 thoughts on “The Sunshine Award – Bugs are Bliss

  1. He he, thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading this all over again! The intoxicating fumes are something to which I can relate. And we did experience our first breakdown on Tuesday. She was kind enough to stop just as she was easing herself into a parking spot after a long journey. Graceful to the end. 😉


    1. Ooo. Sorry to hear about that, I hope it wasn’t too much of a hassle and that she’s back to fighting shape soon enough.

      As if to keep this going just a bit longer, I’m reminded of another tale. My nephew has a VW bus that he’s driven for years without a working reverse gear. In order to back it out of a parking space, he simply bumps the front wheels off the cement block and rolls backward out of the space. Or it’s pushed in neutral. Oh, the stories that VW’s create!!

      I know I baited you, but your second comment makes smile. Thanks. Here’s to bugs (and bugs), Rachael. 🙂


  2. OMG – I love that photo of you and your bug! And congrats on the Sunshine award – I can’t think of anyone more deserving! I’m a bug lover too as you may have gathered from the yellow bug on blog design! Celeste 🙂


    1. Not sure how I missed this lovely comment! Perhaps it was during one of the most hectic times in my life (construction and moving and new school and…). Thanks for the nice words and sorry it took me so long to respond. Cheers, lady!


    1. As a kid, our family went through two VW vans. The latest one had groovy plaid curtains, a pop-up-bed-top, and a port-a-potty that we used frequently. Camping in it was awesome!

      Welcome to our little bug-ee world.


  3. Seems obvious now, but it never occurred to me that bugs were essential airfoils on wheels. I think this goes a long way toward explaining all the things Herbie could do (well, that and the sentience thing).

    Absolutely love the picture of you in/under/outside your bug.


  4. What a cracking post! You had me chuckling over my cereal and toast. I have never owned a VW beetle but my good friend, Sam, has a bright yellow one. Like driving around in sunshine ;). I do share your love of the other sorts of bugs.


  5. That photo of you is CLASSIC! I love it! We are getting a used car soon…so when it breaks down I can call you for some help?? Your story about breaking down in the middle of nowhere reminded me of this piece-o-crap car I had that would just stall at intersections. I would have to put it in neutral and glide it to the side, then walk home (this was before cells of course)

    Thanks for the sunshine-y nod. 😀


    1. Oh, Darla, girl, you and Angie should be up for all of those awards…and then some. You’re the best of the best. No shout-outs needed from me. But you should know how high you rate for me, if nothing else.

      As for mechanics, I still remember a few things, but I let the professionals do the work for me now. They always want to give repair details to my husband, but he says, noooo. Talk to my wife first.

      With an equal understanding auto mechanics (he used to race bikes), as a woman, I will GRILL them on how well (or even how) they came to a diagnosis — more so than him. My job is $$-saver! I take it quite seriously.


  6. I agree with Bob! I love your sense of humor. I also feel like you “get” me! This was a great cyber-hug for The Usual Bliss. And I lovelovelove your Buggie! I bought mine for far more than you did but it was in EXCELLENT shape. It ran great in summer, never got stuck in Colorado’s winters, and was my true love for 10 years. By the time I sold it, I carried a tapedeck on my passenger seat for music and had an ice scraper under my seat (for the INSIDE of the windows in winter). There was a rust hole in the passenger side floor that allowed water, mud, snow, etc. to splash up onto me in inclement weather, so I had a towel or two in the back seat for drying off/cleaning up. I somehow got a speeding ticket in New Mexico with three girls and our Spring Break luggage weighing us down (I maintain we were coasting downhill or something). And I cried when it drove off for the last time. Someday, I’ll have another. Thanks for bringing up such good memories!!


    1. You had me at “camping.” That bug was like a tennis ball on a Velcro wall.

      Cyber hugs abound. Do you feel the blog love, huh, HUH? *sniff* *sniff* Don’t make me start crying…I don’t girl-y well.


  7. Shannon, I want you to know that yours is one of the most entertaining, and down-to-earth blogs I have ever came across. I really look forward to each and every post. I feel somewhat like that we are kindrid spirits. LOL I am so glad we found each other’s blogs. You definitely bring sunshine to our household. Oh, remind me sometime, to tell you about our adventures in a VW (not ours) in Turkey. Maybe it would make a fun post. I will think about it. Many thanks for thinking of me for your Sunshine Award. Shannon, YOU rock! 🙂


    1. You’re so welcome, Bob! I feel the same of you and Ann and look forward to checking you off of my “I Met Another Blogger Friend” list.

      You should write about that adventure, would make a great story for your blog. I’m certain you have pictures to share as well. You know I’ll be reading it. 🙂


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