The sweetest sound…

…is the sound of my Hounda starting up, ready to drive. Why have I picked that sound, dear readers? Well…

This weekend I headed up to Charlotte for the Renn Fest as I’ve done almost every weekend since the first of October. I was driving along, talking to Simon on the mobile and actually in a good mood. I got to a gas station and pulled in to refuel. After only spending $25 to fill my tank (I am LOVING the current gas prices) I hopped back in the car and turned the key in the ignition.

Nothing.

Nada.

Not even clicking.

I did not panic. I did not cry. I called Simon first to tell him what was up and then Leah, because she was driving toward Charlotte as well and had her 16yr old son/amateur mechanic in the car. They came to my rescue, her son looked around under the hood, and pronounced that the issue was probably my battery but might be the alternator.

How to strike fear in the heart of a single woman who’s just quit her full time job to freelance, therefore securing a higher rate of pay without a set date for receiving such pay? Mention the words “replace the alternator” to her five days before her last payday from the prior job. Seriously. You might just get to see her head combust.

They jumped off my car and got me running again, and I headed north to my friend and fellow Rennie Debbie’s house where I was staying for the weekend. Her husband can work on PLANES and according to Debbie “…can take a hunk of metal and turn it into a racecar.” Off the the festival on Saturday and then again on Sunday, while he looked at the car to see if he could fix it.

It was just the battery!! Apparently the original battery was still in the car, and once replaced my Hounda started up like a dream. Thank goodness, since said freelancing is taking me to Georgia this week!

The Week From…


Earsies
Originally uploaded by Nancy Allen

Let’s start where I left off last, the day after Thanksgiving, I was frantically cleaning my house in preparation for Leah and her son Russell to arrive. Russell was going to house-sit/dog-sit while Leah and I made an insane trip to Florida to pick up my newest foster dog, Sammie. Insane. I am not 20-something and I’m almost not 30-something anymore. Overnight trips that require six hour drives are just not in my genetic makeup anymore.

We got to Jacksonville to the hotel and there was a mix up with the reservation. Crisis averted. We got a night’s sleep (I hesitate to say a GOOD night’s sleep because of the weird smell in the hotel room…) and headed over to Cathie’s. Visit, have crumb cake and tea (thank you Jenn for the food and Cathie for the INCREDIBLE tea), and head to the farm. Visit with dogs, take pictures, collect Sammie, and we’re off back to Cathie’s with a stop at McDonald’s for lunch.

It was in the McDonald’s that we encountered “Pink Glasses” who was running the register. There was a “family” for lack of a better word in front of us in line who apparently hadn’t learned that before you walk up to the register with six people in your party it’s a good idea to find out what everyone wants, especially if they are going to scatter to the four points of the restaurant. Yelling across the room, “What do you want?” is generally not acceptable. It is even less so when there are hungry people in line behind you and a woman sitting in the back of my Element with three greyhounds.

There you go, Cathie…who said that the look on my face when I returned from the McDonald’s had “I’m gonna blog about this” written all over it. Blogged, done, and dusted.

Eat lunch at Cathie’s, and head to the track for Leah to help with turn out. I sat in the car taking pictures of Sammie with my mobile and playing Klondike. Head home. Arrive back in Greenville around 10:30.

I still haven’t recovered my sleep.

Tuesday was my birthday…I’m not sure whom I have ticked off in the universe, but this was a birthday to remember and not in a good way. I had on my schedule a meeting at 9am and one at 11am (that I knew we wouldn’t make because of the 9am) and then nothing after. I had planned to attend both, then have some time on the web cam to talk to Simon, then head to Georgia to have dinner with Mom and Dad.

The first let down was opening my mailbox and not having a single solitary birthday card inside. But you know, I’m a grown up…and I don’t send birthday cards so I don’t really deserve to get them. I got over that. My schedule also didn’t hold to plan…the 9am meeting became 9:30 and the 11am became 1pm and “Oh, Nancy can you please interpret something quick at 2pm?” So I was looking at only about an hour at the most web cam time with Simon. Again, I’m a grown up and I know he lives four thousand miles and five time zones away so I got over that.

Dinner was great. I had a good time with Mom and Dad and then headed back home. I got just off the entrance ramp to the highway when my car ran hot. Actually it didn’t RUN hot, it sprinted to the H on the temp gauge like a greyhound after the third turn. I pulled over and of course didn’t have Mom’s mobile number in my phone. I sent text messages to my sister and brother in law to get it, hoping I could catch them before they got too far up the road and we could figure this thing out. No luck.

There is no more lonely feeling in the world than being on the side of the road, 90 minutes at least from home, in a car that won’t work in the dark. Oh, and add in frustration and worry because all my animals were at home alone and I didn’t know how long it would take me to get back to them.

I limped up the road for the next four hours, stopping at intervals to hopefully get the temp down. At one point I thought I saw a flash of light out of the corner of my right eye and looked around to be rewarded with a second flash that blinded me. When my vision returned I saw a very nice highway patrolman there in his car wanting to know why I was stopped.

He directed me to a truck stop where I was able to purchase some coolant for my engine. A very nice gentleman who vaguely resembled David Crosby (I’m so not kidding) helped me get the nasty green stuff in the radiator and I was good to go all the way home. The engine didn’t even think of walking hot, let alone running or sprinting.

Did I mention that I was afraid to turn on anything in the car during that four hours including the heat? Or that it was somewhere in the high 30s/low 40s that night? No? Well, there you are.

The next morning I got on the road to my 9am appointment, and the car was fine until literally the last 20 minutes of the trip. Got that assignment done and limped back down the highway, stopping and starting every time it “ran hot.” Mom and Dad came up to go with me to the Honda place (and then chauffeur me around afterward). We dropped off the car and waited.

When the nice lady called me to give me the estimate, she told me that the car had never had any maintenance done on the spark plugs, still had the original brake and transmission fluid, and had about 1k miles left (give or take) before the brakes would have to be done (“or they’ll start digging into the rotors”). I guess somehow I thought that was being done by the other person in the house when I was married because he seemed to know about cars and drove the Element more than I did. Wrong.

Now on to the primary presenting complaint, the needle that can’t stay off the “H” on the temp gauge. The radiator has to be replaced because it has a crack in it, hence the leaking and lack of antifreeze/coolant. Probably happened due to…get this…something hitting the front end of the car. (“The torn bumper was a clue,” she says, trying to lighten the mood…didn’t work) Not a big deal, but you see they can’t replace it without replacing the compressor because it’s bent. See Above Trauma To Front Of Car.

Flashback about 16 months for a moment, to the time right after the accident. I took the car to Sears for a new tire (ended up with four new ones) and asked them, while it was up on the rack, if they’d look around and see if they saw anything out of joint or bent or missing, etc, and told them about the accident. “No ma’am, looks like just your bumper was damaged.”

Um, wrong, Sparky. This from the same Sears that gave me the tires/valve stems that somehow ended up ALL cracked and leaking air…even though they claim that it was because I was driving on flat tires. Um…they weren’t cracked before…? Anyway…

Soooo now we’re going to have to replace two crucial parts that make the car run rather than just one, in addition to all the other crap she’s told me needs doing. She’s then loathe to tell me that to get to the compressor the grill and the bumper have to come off, so that adds onto the labor cost. By this point I can barely breathe and honest to GOD I was getting a fluttery heart and nausea. I finally just said “What are we looking at here?”

Parts and labor and an oil change… Let’s just say that the heart and nausea weren’t going to get better any time soon and I’m contemplating a second job.

Happy birthday to me. Is it 2008 yet? Am I visiting Simon in the UK yet? 36 has GOT to be better than 35. Next week I’m staring down a retreat for work that I don’t want to attend (I am not terribly comfortable with touchy-feely team building type stuff at work..but I’m not in charge). December’s weekends are full save one with travel. I have a wonderful foster boy here that wants to eat my cat I think. When do I get to take a time out?

At least The Week From…is almost over. Almost.

Stalking

Not really. Well, kinda. No, not really.

I’m sitting here watching the incredibly nice guy from Safelite replace my windshield and I’m telling you, I haven’t seen anything this fascinating in a LONG time. Who knew that it was that easy to take out a windshield? Not me, that’s for sure. I thought, as I told him earlier while giggling like a teenager, that it was somehow made into the car and that the entire front half would have to come loose in order for it to somehow be demolished with a hammer and then the broken and sharp bits removed.

Not so, my crazy customer-lady, not so.

He took this part and that part off, removed a screw here and a bolt there, went inside the car with something that looked rather sudsy and applied said suds to the bottom of the windshield and then POOF, lifted it out! I admit that I missed the part between the suds and the poof because I was drying my hair, but geez-o-miney, was that ever cool! I walked out to ask if he could make sure I keep the sticker from Sears reminding me about an oil change and there sat my car, sans windshield and no bits of anything anywhere to tell where it had gone or how it had been removed.

And yeah, when I opened the door the first words out of my mouth were HOLY MOLY.

I tried to take some pictures but wouldn’t you know that when I uploaded my renn fest pics last SUNDAY I left the camera on? Besides, if I’d taken pictures then I’d be a stalker…right?