rental car immobilization leads to Ring ransom in New England

I hope that you are well and happy. Nazy and I are in our old stomping grounds, Hanover, New Hampshire, where we are visiting friends and helping celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Women’s Club (IWC) that Nazy founded when we returned from The Netherlands. After our stay in Hanover, we will drive up to Montreal before heading home via Boston.

Having made the mistake of agreeing to fly with me, Nazy didn’t expect a problem-free flight. You can, therefore, imagine her surprise and shock when our flight boarded, started the engines and moved into take-off position - on-time. And then they turned off the engines.

almost left on time,” I said as we waited for an explanatory announcement.

I shouldn’t have flown with you,” Nazy mumbled.

“What’s that?” I asked as the pilot made an announcement.

Due to high winds in San Francisco, we are on ground hold. The next update will be at the top of the hour.”

That’s 56 minutes from now,” I thought.

That means we’ll be waiting here for about an hour. I do not recommend leaving the airplane. Alternative routings for this evening are unavailable.”

“I’ll go tomorrow,” the guy in front of me said as he bashed my head with a bag dropped from the overhead compartment.

Nazy and I waited patiently. (Okay! Nazy waited patiently. I waited.) We eventually made it to San Francisco where amazingly our connecting flight was waiting. Tailwind-assisted, we arrived nearly on-time. Our friend, Renie, picked us up and hosted us wonderfully during our stay.

Having checked the rental car situation, I knew that fees, taxes and surcharges made it twice as costly to rent a car in Boston as in New Hampshire. Accordingly, we found a great deal on a red
Toyota at National in Lebanon, NH.

This baby was half the price...” I thought as I parked it on Main Street in Hanover. “I just wish the air conditioning worked and I’m not sure about the‘check-engine’ light. And I’ve never seen a car with more actual miles than I have frequent flyer miles.”

The Green and Dartmouth Baker Tower

dartmouth green

I toured the Dartmouth Bookstore, checked out Molly’s balloon, took some photos of The Green and met my good friend Ted for lunch. But as I walked back to the car, thinking how nice it was to be able to park right on Main Street, I spotted an orange parking ticket stashed under the windshield wiper. I looked at my watch..

I can’t believe this!” I thought. “Two minutes overdue and they gave me a ticket. They must have hired a Swiss parking law enforcer!

Then I glanced at the ticket. “
$100! One Hundred Dollars for a two-minute overrun. They’re picking on the tourists. He knew it was a rental car. $100!

Then I looked carefully at the ticket. It was not a parking violation, it was a warning about potential vehicle immobilization for not paying previous parking fines. “
This rental car deal is not looking as good now,” I thought.

immobilization warning notice

I called Lt. O’Neill at HPD; he promised that the car wouldn’t be immobilized. Then I called...

You called?” Nazy interrupts.

Knowing that negotiation with the rental agency was necessary, I delegated the call to Nazy. As we drove to the Powerhouse Mall in West Lebanon, NH I had a


1996 (or so): Nazy and the kids had an artist-designed silver ring shaped like a lion hand-cast for me while we were living in Hanover, NH. It is a beautiful ring - unique and memorable.

2014: The Lion Ring, my favorite, vanished. Nazy and I have different memories of how this happened. She believes that I “wasn’t careful”. I believe that Nazy’s request, in fact, Nazy’s demand that I transplant orchids on a day when I was wearing my lion ring, caused the problem. When I removed my ring to do the transplanting, a nearby wood sprite, assisted by a coven of California dreadlocked warlocks, grabbed the ring. I was distracted because I was pouring bark into the orchid container. I wanted to wait for the ransom note before (over) reacting.

End Flashback

“Go there!” Nazy exclaimed as we left the rental car office with a replacement car. “Turn at the Powerhouse Mall. Continue on this road.”

“Of course, my dear,” I replied. “
But why?” I thought.

“The craftsman who made your lion ring had a shop right up this street.” Nazy explained.

“That was almost 20 years ago, Nazy. There is no chance...”

“There it is!” Nazy trumpeted.

“The shop is there, but the silversmith is undoubtedly gone.”

In fact, the silversmith was still there. And he kept the wax molds that had been used. So, a re-creation of my ring was possible. (We discovered that the cost of silver has changed somewhat in the last 20 years.) A replacement ring was, nevertheless, commissioned. “
Now I can really negoatiate with the ring-nappers when the ransom note arrives,” I thought.

We will return to Santa Barbara on Wednesday this week. That is the same day that Darius will leave for his tour of Iran. In an earlier letter, I mentioned the friendliness of the Iranian Embassy staff in Beirut. Darius has provided added details:

“So, Dad. I left my mobile phone at the front gate. They quickly supplied the visa and in a very few minutes, I was on my way back to the front gate. A huge and gregarious guy had apparently also completed his work at the embassy, so he walked out with me. I got my mobile phone and he picked up a giant handgun. I looked at him. Well, maybe I gaped.”

“I thought
you were the American,” he said.

I assume that’s registered,” Darius thought - well aware that nothing is registered in Lebanon.

As mentioned, Nazy (and I) were in Hanover to see friends and to celebrate the 20th year anniversary of the IWC (International Women’s Club) that she founded in 1994. They had a big luncheon and we saw many of Nazy’s friends from the very beginning. They asked me to be the luncheon speaker. they gave me a flower for my lapel and turned me loose to talk. It was interesting. 115 International Women were listening to me. I approached the lectern..

“I want to thank you for the beautiful boutonnière,” I began. “It brings back memories. I feel like I’m at my prom. But... where are your dates?”

Ledyard Bridge between New Hampshire and Vermont

ledyard bridge 3

The talk went well and we had a wonderful stay with our friend Renie who is a master quilter. She showed us some her recent quilts and explained a bit about what’s involved in creating these works of art. She also described her challenges with the local fauna (woodchucks, skunks, deer, raccoon, fox, mice...). She is a talented and capable friend.

I also drove by Bedlam Abode, our Hanover home at 11 Ledge Road. Nothing had changed. The garage door that Darius painted in 1999, had not changed color. The deck we ripped out so that we could build a room over the garage was still ripped out. The house was the same color. Wood for the wood-burning stove was stacked in the same place (and roughly same amount) that we maintained. The driveway had a dip at the beginning - the same dip we had attempted to correct with a pickup load of gravel once a year between 1994 and 2001.

About time to borrow a pick-up truck,” I thought as I walked up the driveway.

11 Ledge Road

11 Ledge Road 2

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