Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ends and Transitions and Old Volvos

This marks the last last day of July. More importantly it marks the last day my youngest daughter was at her student apartment. It's one more step away from home and into her future, whatever that may turn out to be. Each step, from starting college to transitioning from freshman to sophomore to junior then senior, to graduation, to moving into and out of Jennie Murphree Hall, Presbyterian University Center, and her student apartment along the way, all these events and more are distinct memories that I hope last as long as I do.

It was the last location where my daughter began to expand as an artist. She used everything as a canvas, even my old Volvo 940 that was her student beater car around Tallahassee. I've shown the bumper-sticker festooned back of the Volvo before, but I've never shown any of the interior decorations before.

All of the interior decorations have a single theme - Herman Melville's "Moby Dick." Megs held a christening ceremony with some of her closest friends and named the Volvo Moby. From that point forward the Great White Volvo became the Great White Whale.

The Great Right Whale

This view of Moby shows the materials used for the car's new interior design - two different colors of duct tape, toy compasses, and white acrylic paint. The reason for the duct tape was to cover the slowly crumbling plastic of the 940's interior. This car, manufactured in 1994, was purchased by me in 1996 at The Volvo Store in Winter Park, Orlando, Fl. It had 54,000 miles and had just come off a lease. I traded it in for a 240 sedan I wasn't the happy with. From 1996 until 2003 it was my primary mode of conveyance, and was the family car until 2001 until my wife purchase a Kia Sedona van. I stopped driving it when I purchased a Kia Sorento SUV in 2003. It was then passed down to my oldest, who drove it without really maintaining it. I put more cash in it to fix up the engine and drive train, and gave it to Megs, who basically adopted it in 2008 the way you would adopt some lone stray on the street.

Ahab's Ship

Form the first that Megs laid hands on the 940 she wanted to turn it into an artists car. The problem is that artist cars take a lot of money to build up, and being a student of modest means, Megs scaled her ambitions down to something she could afford. So, with colored duct tape, acrylic white paint, and various decorations made form toys purchased at a local dollar store, she began to add character to a car already dripping with character as time and budget permitted. As you'll note, the car has nearly 200,000 miles on it. And Megs was is a member of the Volvo High Mileage Club.

Russian and Arab

Some of her student friend hailed form Russia and the Middle East, and left her name on the passenger door in Cyrillic and Arabic.

Navigational Aids

Here we see a detail using some of the materials mentioned earlier, colored duct tape and toy compasses.

What Makes the Radio Work

Some of the changes to the car were for practical reasons. The Volvo is old enough to have a audio cassette tape deck. At one point Megs tried to find old cassette tapes to play, but the player developed an issue with ejecting the tapes, meaning it wouldn't. So Megs shoved a pen into the tape deck to lift the cassette and fake the radio into thinking there was no tape so the radio would play. At least she can listen to her tunes.

Blue Fish Shifter

This little blue fish was added to the shifter because the molded rubber around the shifter was disintegrating. It's a clever fix that is far cheaper than buying an official replacement part, and adds additional character to the interior.

The Volvo has reached the end of its useful life. If I were something of a conservator I'd take it back and spend a lot of time and money restoring it. But I don't have that kind of time or money, and Megs needs a far more up-to-date vehicle. Megs has plans to move to Austin, and Moby would never survive the trip out to Austin. She needs new wheels, and so Moby will have to be traded in for something contemporary. When that day comes I'll miss Moby.

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