Nineteen

Degrees, that is. Not right now, it’s actually 27° at the moment, this was last night.

Here’s the story. Yesterday morning I left for work. I hadn’t even gotten to the stopsign at the end of my road when the low fuel light went on. Typically, the low fuel light comes on with 55 miles left on that tank. 55 miles is a lot…when you drive less than 10 miles round trip. Also, weirdly, the “service engine soon” light came on as well. This has never come on before in this car, so I thought it was weird. I wasn’t too worried because it all seemed fine, but it was worth noting.

Now the plan has become “get gas after work”. I’d like to take a moment to mention that I had no idea it was going to be so cold. Last week and into the weekend it was still hitting in the high 30s and low 40s during the day. But no, we’ve apparently hit a cold snap. Having no knowledge of that, I left the house in only a sweater. No coat, no hat, no gloves, not even a scarf.

When my workday ended, I treated myself to a movie, Thor: The Dark World, if you know me at all, you know my love of all things superhero, especially the Marvel World. I’ve been long waiting for this sequel. It opened this weekend but I had no free time. I decided Monday night after work was a great time, as it would likely be less crowded. The theater is on my way home from work, midway between my job and the gas station, actually.

So, movie, then gas, then home. That was the plan.

Her’s how it went down.

Movie: Great, I liked it a lot. It wasn’t quite as excellent as Thor 1, nor did it compete at all with Captain America, but I enjoyed it very much.

Left the movie, it’s about 8:40. It is freezing outside, actually well below, since it is only 19 degrees. I got in the car and started to drive, knowing it wouldn’t heat up before I hit the gas station. I hit the stop sign, turned left, and the gas station is about a quarter mile ahead.

BAM.

Car breaks down. AGAIN. 

It was just over two weeks ago that my car broke down, went through an intersection and it just stopped working. It was the fuel pump, which has been replaced. It did the exact same thing, again. I had no idea what to do. Last time I sat around waiting on others and ended up calling a tow truck. This time I wasn’t making that mistake. I was calling the tow truck right away. But I still needed someone to come get me…and soon, because it was cold as hell outside. First I googled the towing company. Then I figured I better call for a ride. My dad was asleep, so I called my mom. She didn’t answer. I called her again. No answer. I tried my younger brother who lives with them, no answer. Next up was my older brother. Before I could call him, my mom called me back. She said she’d wake my dad and ask his opinion and call me right back.

There I sat.

19 degrees.

photoM

See?

Mom called back and said dad wanted me to leave the car on the road and he’d come look at it in the morning. Hmm. But okay. If I don’t have to drop $150 on my way home, that’s a good night. So mom said she’d come get me. I said, “hurry, it is 19 degrees, I’ve already been sitting here for 10 minutes and I am not wearing a coat.”

Then I called Kelly. I was hoping she was around because her stories usually make me laugh and that might help heat me up. Plus, she likes it when I call her every couple weeks and tell her I’m stranded. She didn’t answer.

Rough night for me. My mom got there 15 minutes later, making it only about 25 minutes I sat, shivering. Seriously, so freaking cold. I was shaking with cold, I tucked myself as small as I could, hiding my hands and trying not to think about it. Thinking about it only made it worse.

I decided to entertain myself with a photo of myself sitting in the broken down car, in the dark.

photo

I really feel like I look COLD there. No doubt about it. What a great photo. It was too cold to smile, apparently.
Then, after looking at that photo, I apparently decided to express how I really felt about being broken down again.
photo
 Yep, super klassy. God, I was so aggravated. I might have possibly cussed, out loud, a few times. Dammit, it was cold and I am broke and I really didn’t need this again.
Okay, so eventually mom gets there,  and I had a plan to get my car of the road. I was, naturally, in the middle of the damn road again and if I was leaving it I wanted it out of the way. Mom pulled in front of me, facing me, so we were bumper to bumper. She pushed against Gus and I put it in neutral and let her push me off the road. My windows were fogged, it was dark and I had no lights, so this was an exercise in daredevilry. Eventually we got Gus squared away and mom drives me to Emmy’s house to get her car, and then I head home. I left a note on the car to please not tow it, and to call me if there was a problem. With my real cell number. No one called.
My dad went today and took a look. Guess what was wrong with it?
IT WAS OUT OF GAS.
Yep, out of gas. Turns, out, after talking to my dad today, that after he put the new fuel pump in, my sensors and gauges don’t really work now, because the pump they used is not factory standard. So, where the low fuel warning came on before…is not the same place it comes on now. How much gas I had before is not how much I have now. Essentially, things no longer line up and I can’t rely on the electronic gauges anymore.
Of course I shouldn’t be getting gas at the 11th hour every time, but it would have been nice to HAVE this information. Had I known, I certainly would not have waited to get gas, I would have gotten it this weekend in Anoka, where it was only $2.92. But I didn’t, I followed the habits born of three years of driving this car and being used to its idiosyncrasies. And that is how I ran out of gas and spent a half an hour conditioning myself for winter.
I wore a coat today. Just in case.

Sunday No Fun Day

Allow me to tell you a story.

I had previously told my mother that I was not stopping by to visit on Sunday because I had a busy weekend and needed to stay home and get things done. Well, that changed when a gift I ordered my sister showed up. I decided to pop over and deliver the gift and then visit for a bit and head home.

3:00pm

I get in my car and start driving home. I have low fuel, but the light just went on that morning, so I have quite a bit of time before I truly need gas.

3:10 pm

I exit onto Century and stop at the red light. While sitting at the light, my car shudders. I thought that was weird, it hasn’t been acting strange at all. But, still, I think nothing.

The light turns green, I press the gas, the car goes about 15 feet and then…..nothing. It just dies. I coast around the corner, swinging wide to be in the right lane, but I am stranded. I can’t get it started, and there is no shoulder or anything. I am stuck, IN THE ROAD, on a busy street. I am also under the overpass for I-94. Turns out, it is super loud under there…
photo

 It’s hard to tell where I am, but you can clearly see I am IN the road.

I call my dad.

I don’t know what is wrong, but I ask him if it could possibly be that I ran out of gas? I kept telling him it didn’t seem right because I only drove about 10 miles after the light came on, but I guess anything is possible. He said it was possible that the car would act that way if I ran out of gas. Just to be clear, I was about two miles from home when this happened. Dad suggested I call Chad and ask him to bring me some gas, because he lives just up the road and has a gas can for his lawn mower.

I did.

3:40 pm

Chad arrives. We both get out and stand by my car. As previously mentioned it is very loud, so we’re shouting to talk while standing in front of one another. He puts gas in my car and I tried to start it. My dad had warned me it could take a while. I tried and tried and tried and nothing would happen. Knowing something was wrong, I told Chad he could go. No sense in ruining both of our Sundays.

3:50pm

I call my dad back and he tells me he’ll call his friend Al, who also lives nearby and send him to check out the car.

During the wait for Al, I text Kelly who offered to come pick me up and take me to lunch, which was sweet, but Al lives so close there was no way she’d beat him there.

4:00pm

I’ve now been trying to get home for an hour. Al shows up. He drops off his son Ryan and then drives away to park his truck at a nearby car dealer. His son looks through my manual, trying to find a shut off valve for the fuel pump or some such thing. The son has to get in my car a couple times to look for things and, this may have been the worst part of the day, he had BO so bad that I was gagging and my eyes were watering. I was trying so hard not to let him know, because he was there to help me, but it was horrible.

4:10pm

The state patrol arrives.

He spoke to Al, who explained that I broke down. Then Al told me that I should just call a wrecker because there is nothing he can do. A wrecker is evidently slang for tow truck. I ask him where I can call. I had already tried the auto shop that I use and they were closed. Everything was closed. It was a Sunday afternoon. Al said he didn’t know and asked the statie. He said that he’d be happy to call it into dispatch for me and they’d send someone. Yes, PLEASE! At this point I just want it done. I don’t want this to be on me anymore.

4:15pm

Al and Ryan leave.

The state patrol crouched down to talk to me through the window of my car. He told me that fuel pumps break without warning and that is probably what it is, and I shouldn’t worry, it’s not a big deal. Then he told me that he didn’t think I was very safe where I was. I agreed. I didn’t feel safe. People had been going around me, but there was a lot of traffic and all it takes is one person not paying attention and I get creamed.

He said that he was going to sit in his cruiser, behind me, with his lights on, until the tow truck arrived, to keep me safe. He warned me that if he got a call, he might have to leave, but as long as he didn’t, he’d just sit there and protect me.

It was so nice I wanted to cry.

So there I sat, waiting on my tow truck, with my own personal protection.
photo

I called my dad back to let him know what was happening. He asked how I was going to get home. I said I’d just ride in the tow truck, right? He said no. When my mom and I broke my dad’s truck, that guy gave us a lift in his tow truck. When my Saturn broke down on the interstate, that guy gave me a lift. I honestly thought that is what happened. Now, when I tell people this story they all say that is crazy. Apparently, no one EVER gets a ride in the tow truck. Must be just me, then.
So, my dad decides to call my brother Nick to come and pick me up. Nick was driving right by. So Nick arrives, but my dad didn’t tell him that the State Patrol was my own personal guard. This made him nervous for reasons I won’t go into here. At any rate, the tow truck showed up moments later and wanted to follow us back. We had him bring the car to my dad’s house, because it was Sunday and nothing was open.
We got back and $150 later, my broken car was at my parents’ house. Now, I had cleaned out my car of all the things I might need. I set a pile of stuff on the table in the garage. I paid the tow truck driver and it took him FOREVER to process the payment. While waiting, it was growing steadily colder outside. I didn’t have a coat on or anything. When he finally left, I went in to put on my sweatshirt. I snatched it up off the table, but unbeknownst to me, half of it was tucked underneath my iPad. When I picked it up, my iPad flew threw the air, the cover came open and it landed, face down on the floor of the garage. I heard the sound. Before I even picked it up, I just knew. I knew beyond a doubt, that in addition to a broken car, I had a broken iPad.
photo

It actually looks way worse than that in person, but even that looks pretty bad. And you can see my silhouette reflected on the screen. Not the tear tracks on my face, though….
It was just too much. I borrowed a car from my parents and drove home, as soon as I got in the car, I started to cry. I just drove and drove while crying my way home. Eventually, I called Elena and she talked me down.
Once I got home, I called Kelly. Mark answered and I told him the story. He said, “think of it this way. Sunday starts the week. You’ve used up all your bad karma today, so you are in for an awesome week!” It was the perfect thing to say to me just then. I really needed to hear that.
I called my sister and told her the story and then Kelly called me back and I talked to her. After talking it out, I was feeling calmer. I ate dinner and watched some tv and did some laundry, trying my best not to think about it.
At 10:30 I went to bed. I unplugged my iPhone from its charger (because I use it as my alarm clock, so it needs to be in my room). And as I unplugged it, the cord caught on something and I pulled and it knocked over a decorative vase holding glass roses that I’ve had since I moved in.
Shatter.
photo

That’s just what was on the counter. The floor had broken bits of glass on BOTH SIDES of the counter. So, before I could sleep this horrible day away, I had to sweep my kitchen and vacuum my dining room. Just what I want to be doing at almost 11 at night. It was just too much.
I held on to Mark’s words as I went to sleep, believing this would be a terrific week.

American Steel

Yesterday, it snowed. Not “snowed” but SNOWED. Major snowfall.

The news is saying 10.5″ in my area, I’ll buy that. It snowed all day long, just lazy, blowy, blustery snow, on a fairly warm winter day. I love it when it snows, the world softens, the sounds are muffled and there’s a gentle hush over the world. So it seems to me. I stood at the windows and watched it snow for a while; then I went outside and felt it snow for a while. It’s simply beautiful.

Now, I, like everyone else, does not like what comes with a beautiful snowfall; bitter colds, crappy roads, terrible drivers, shoveling, snowblowing, messy entrances, squeaky shoes, giant snowbanks filling parking lots and street corners, making it harder to see, but heck, we live in Minnesota, time to just deal.

What’s interesting for me is that Gus has new tires. Gus was in need of tires when he first came to me, in August of 2010. More than two years passed with me driving on smooth, bald as a newborn baby, tires. It was actually a little dangerous. If not for last years incredibly bland and mild winter, I wouldn’t have made it this long. My dad finally made me promise that I’d have new tires before this winter. Just last month, I fulfilled my end of the bargain. This was the truly first time I got to see if there was  difference. I ran one errand, yesterday morning, just to get out of the house and test out those new tires.

Gus tore up the streets, slinging snow in every direction. He churned through slush and grit and sludge, daring to create his own path. It was fun and kind of awesome.

This morning, instead of worrying about getting to work, I knew, after the plows had come through, we’d be fine. We charged through the morning traffic and cautious drivers with free-spirited joy, knowing nothing could stop us. Just before we got new tires, there was a dusting of weather that turned to ice on the streets. There’s a minuscule hill that I simply could not summit, not with those smooth and shiny old tires. Today, this morning, Gus and I crested that hill as though it were a dry, parched, hot-July pavement and not loose with the dustings of almost a foot of snowfall.

While driving up that hill and bigger ones beyond, I thought to myself tires make a huge difference, and now I know I’d have never survived without the two tons of American steel I’m driving, but the combination is heady and liberating. Heady and liberating, a strong, heavy, powerful car and tires that do their job? Driving is fun again.

Then, turning onto the last street before work, my mind went, “American steel?”

Something buzzed the recesses of my brain. When I had a spare moment, I went to my search box (love having a search box on my blog) and typed in “American steel” sure enough, I used that phrase once before when describing the last time Gus and I drove together in the snow. February 22, 2011 was the last time we had any major snowfall. That’s darn close to two years ago, how incredible and completely unlike Minnesota.

While I know this is kind of an offbeat post, it stems from the fact that I’m in a good mood, my car went through snow like a hot knife through butter and, Mom, I was more than safe driving to work today.

“And it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, everywhere you go.”

Thirty Days Hath September

I’m a girl on a budget. The budget is tight, very tight. I’ve learned to manage, but there’s not a lot of room for error. Last week I ended up driving a bit more than expected. Run out to Richfield to pick up a library book (where were you, Lisa?), drive to Maplewood (North) to pick up Kelly, drive to Minneapolis to the Cabooze, drive to Eagan to pick up Simon. It was a lot of driving that I don’t do normally and my Gus is a huge gas hog.

On Saturday morning, after Simon and I left Christian’s birthday party, he said to me, “Auntie Livia, you’re almost out of gas.” This, from his carseat in the back. I asked him how he knew that and he said, “the needle is pointing at E”. I hadn’t realized he could see the needle from where he was, much less know what it meant.

I said, “well, I sure hope we don’t run out of gas, what would we do?”

“Well, we would pull onto the side of the road and you would call a tow truck. The tow truck would come and it would use the chain to hook up to your car and then they would tow us to Grandma Kaye’s”, was his exact reply.

The kid cracks me up.

I told him that what I would actually do is call Pa (my dad) and have him come get us because he has a tow chain on his truck and if we needed a tow, that would be a lot cheaper. Of course, he’d probably just run get us some gas…but that’s a less exciting conclusion.

We had this conversation the rest of the way to my parent’s house.

I stayed there on Saturday and drove home, then stayed in all day Sunday. Yesterday morning, I was leaving for work and remembered that I needed gas. Monday mornings are NEVER good for me, so I checked the remaining miles on the tank and it said “LOW RANGE”. Wow, I’ve never seen that before. It usually gives the remaining miles left before I run out, 42 miles, 67 miles, etc. I was a little nervous because I was headed straight to work and then would get gas on my way home. Overall, about 6-7 miles to drive before filling up.

At some point, I’ll have to check the manual and see at what point it gives that warning. (God bless the internet, I just googled it and my manual is posted online. I read it and it hits LOW RANGE once it dips below 40 miles. So, I still had a ways to go).

Now, you’re probably wondering why it came to this? Why didn’t I just stop, say Saturday, when it was low? Because, I needed to get paid to get gas. In addition to guzzling, Gus has a huge tank and it is usually about $75 a fill up. I had it in my head that I was getting paid on Monday, therefore, Monday=gas.

Once I got to the gas station, before getting out, something, some internal sensor, made me pull out my phone and check my bank balance. No change. Shit! I didn’t get paid. I was frantically trying to figure out what went wrong. Suddenly, it hit me.

Thirty Days hath September,
April, June and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Save February, with twenty-eight days clear,
And twenty-nine each leap year. 

I actually said that to myself, realizing that January has thirty-ONE days and I was not, in fact, getting paid until today. Which is how I paid for my gas with a credit card. Awesome.

Mother Nature’s Goodness

You know what? I stopped paying attention to the weather after Phil gave me the good news.

That was stupid.

Last week, it got so warm outside. I wasn’t wearing a coat. At all. Didn’t even bring one with when I left the house.

It was fabulous, until Friday.

When I awoke on Friday, the sun was streaming in the windows and it *looked* gorgeous outside. I got dressed in a thin, long-sleeved, t-shirt and jeans and went to work. In the mornings, my car is in the garage, so I never notice the weather at all.

I noticed, a few minutes into my drive, that I was chilly. I hadn’t had the heat on for several days. I glanced at the dash to see the outside temp and it said 21 degrees.

WHAT? The day before it was in the 40s.

Even though I know it can change that fast, it seemed odd to me. What I had yet to figure out is that it was blustery as well, and the wind chill made it feel like it was 5 degrees out.

five degrees and i wasn’t wearing a coat. minnesotans are hardy. ha.

Unfortunately for me, I had things to do all day and I ran around doing them with no coat because I didn’t have time to go home and get one. I got home at 7:30 pm. I think even my bones were cold by then. I bundled up like a maniac, adding layers and layers until I convinced myself I’d one day be warm again. Then I headed back out into the cold to pump gas on my way to Kelly and Mark’s for board games and beer.

Saturday, I stayed indoors all day and was lazy. I didn’t get dressed, nor did I step foot outside. I also never saw a thermometer or weather report.

Sunday morning, I woke up, knowing I had to go to work. My first thought was, I hope it is warm out today. I am so done with the snow. It needs to continue melting.

This is particularly ironic. I looked out the window and there was fresh snow on the ground.

I still shrugged it off, because it was just a dusting.

It gets better.

I left for work and it was still snowing. I remember thinking, “strangely this doesn’t bother me, it’s as though Mother Nature knew we were at our breaking points and gave us last week as a gift, knowing this last snowfall had to come through.”

I got on the Interstate and was surprised to find traffic was terrible. I couldn’t imagine why, it was just a little snow. Yeah, it was a bit messy, driving, but not terrible.

I got to work and I realized I didn’t have my pass to get in the employee door. I had to walk a block to the front door of Hamline’s library. That was noon.

Still it snowed.

Still, I just thought it was little snow.

At about 2 pm the first tractor came and scooped the plaza out front. That seemed odd to me.

At 4 pm, the tractor came again. What was going on? (I just want to clarify that this is not a joke, I really had no earthly idea that there was a blizzard going on. I missed the warning in days leading up and just…missed it.)

Then the phone rang and it was my boss. She wanted to know if I was planning to leave early. I didn’t know what to say, because I had no clue as to what was happening so I quickly zapped a little weather.com while we talked.

Eventually I told her that I would stick it out until 8.

Here’s where it gets fun.

I am, again, dressed inappropriately. I had a coat and cheap stretchy wal-mart gloves. knit.

Tennis shoes. No hat. No scarf. No boots.

I went out to find poor Gus covered. I actually had to brush snow off to make sure it was him and not someone else’s car. Between drifting snow, actual snow, and snow plows, the snow was piled up to his windows. Seriously. I had no shovel.

I used my brush to get the snow off of him, but within seconds I was covered in snow and soaked through. It was in my shoes. I scraped and brushed and even dropped down to my knees to dig with my pathetically covered, cold hands.

Eventually, Gus was clear. I tried to drive him out and it wasn’t happening. The snow was too deep.

I went back inside and recruited. Three students came and pushed me out.

I waved as I drove off.

The snow on the side streets was so deep (off-campus) that it was higher than the tires. Actually plowing through snow while the bottom of the car was IN snow. I could feel it bumping my feet through the floorboards. I knew if I stopped, I’d never get going again. I blew every stop sign and stop light I could. At the light on Hamline/University, it is a busy intersection. It was red. I slowed enough to check and then barreled right through. I was scared because others wouldn’t be able to stop either, but I didn’t want to get stuck.

The freeway was fine. I was actually going about 40-45 once I got on it. But the edges were littered with stranded cars at exits. People couldn’t get UP any exits. Lucky me, my exit home goes downhill.

I got off at McKnight and here’s where the fun started. That road was awful. Just like in the city. And it is so hilly, that doesn’t help.

For the first time, I was grateful for the 4,000 pounds of American Steel I was driving around in. My Saturn, God rest her, would not have made it home. I needed every inch of Gus’s weight, including the full tank of gas that I, thankfully, had. I was grateful for the vacuum in the trunk, knowing that every little bit was helping.

And even at that, I ran the engine so hard the “Service Engine Soon” light came on and hasn’t gone off. My boy might need a car doctor soon.

Okay, so I am slip-sliding my way down McKnight, when I approached the Upper Afton intersection. A car was stuck. In the middle of the intersection. Going my direction, you would have had to drive in the oncoming lanes to get around him. Which is exactly what people were doing.

What? How can you just ignore him?

I figured it might be bad, but I thought I had a good chance at getting going again, so I stopped my car and put my flashers on. I then got out and approached. The driver was seriously stuck and spoke little English. I started pushing. Pushing and pushing. Not working. Cars were passing us everywhere.

Finally, a car stopped and a guy got out and he said, “Let’s do this”. He and I pushed. We barely got the car moved.

Then, the driver got out and pointed at me and said, “you drive”. HE then started pushing with the other guy. They kept wanting me to go in reverse, but I couldn’t see, which is nervewracking. I was backing up in someone else’s car, across a busy intersection, into oncoming traffic, and I can’t see out the rearview mirror or rear windshield at all. It was terrible. Eventually, a third guy joined and said, “let’s get her out of here”. I said, “actually, I’m just driving, it’s HIS car, I’m not stuck, just nice enough to stop and help.”

Maybe not the right time to defend myself, but he said it so condescending, like this only happened because I was female.

So we got the car out of the intersection, but it was still stuck.

As soon as it wasn’t blocking traffic, guy1 took off without a word. He, apparently, only stopped because we were in his way. Whatever. I guess that makes him less rude than most people but still rude. Definitely less rude than the 4×4 pickup truck with the plow attached that steered around us to continue on his merry way. Come ON!

I finally got out and looked at the scene and asked the driver where he was going. He told me and I suggested a better route that had less UP hills. So we pushed and shoved some more, with him in the driver’s seat, because if it started, I couldn’t be in it.

After 20 solid minutes (total) he was free and gone. Guy 3 waved at me and said bye. I put my sodden self in the car and got Gus moving again. A block and one hill later, I spied a stuck girl. She was 16 at the most. I pulled over and asked if she needed help. She said she did. She had called her dad and he was coming to get her, but seriously?

I checked out her car and it didn’t look that stuck. But it was rear-wheel drive, she said. Well, lucky for her, I used to drive rear-wheel cars and still remember how different they are in the snow. I said, “mind if I try?” She let me hop in and I rocked it back and forth for about a minute and then popped it in reverse, HARD, while already accelerating. It popped out of the drift like nothing. I got it in the middle of the road, where the ground was clear and told her to call her dad FIRST so she wasn’t on her phone and driving. Then she hopped in her car and left.

I then stopped at the gas station for milk and took a different route home because I wasn’t even sure that Gus, in all his 2-ton glory, would make it up McKnight Hill. And I was pretty sure no one would stop.

I got home about 95 minutes after leaving St. Paul. A 15 minute drive. And I, a girl, stopped twice to help out strangers. When did that stop being something that people do? I get everyone has cell phones, but in this weather? A tow or a cop or a dad is going to take forever to get there. Just help, I mean, really.

So I get home and my street/driveway isn’t plowed. I have to get Gus into the garage, because if I don’t, they won’t plow and I am NOT shoveling this mess.

We geared up and tried to make a run of it. It was too much. Even for Gus. The weight of the snow stopped us cold. I backed up as far as I could and started rolling tracks. Back and forth. 8 times each way, until I finally got inside the garage. Literally used the front end of Gus as a snow plow. I was amazed. No doubt in my mind that this was the worst weather I’ve ever driven in, in my nearly 32 years. And I consider myself an excellent snow driver.

When I got in my garage I looked and the corner of the garage had undisturbed snow where it rested against the door. I had nothing to measure with, so I used this:

photo

How tall is a soccer ball?

Evidently it varies, but roughly about 8.5″. You’ll notice we got more snow than that. This was about 9:40 pm. And it didn’t quit snowing until about 6:00 pm the next day. Final total was 13.4″, marking the second snowfall of the winter that dropped over ONE FOOT in a  single snowfall.

photo

This was the path that Gus plowed. You can see how high the banks are, but it is hard to measure….

photo

Welcome to my Winter Wonderland.

You can see it is about at my knees.

By the way, I hit a patch of ice, walking back in and went down. Hard. On my left knee.

It’s still a little swollen today. Luckily, it was the left knee, which is my bad knee, and also the knee supporting my formerly broken and recently strained left foot. I’m a mess.

Then, today, the reason why I shouldn’t have helped people reared its ugly head. I could hardly get out of bed this morning. My arms hurt so much that typing hurts (I’m powering through). My shoulders are killing me. My lower back muscles ache. And then there is my left knee/foot.

A big mess.

But, in surprisingly good spirits. I feel good about helping two strangers. I think I’m in for a healthy dose of good karma. And it’s a short week at work.

This is it, right?

Sign of Spring

Every morning, when I am ready to leave the house, one of my simple pleasures is checking the daily temperature by looking at the thermostat in my car.

Gus is the first car of mine that has had this feature, but, perhaps more importantly, Gus spends his nights in the comfort of my very own garage. This is the first winter I’ve ever actually looked forward to, knowing that every day I would be taking my car out of a garage and not having to shovel feet of snow off its exterior, making my morning more hectic than necessary.

So, I start him up each morning and look eagerly at the dash to read the morning temp. This is always the temp inside the garage. Then, as I start on my way, I watch as the temperature plummets. By the time I arrive at work, the dash is usually reading the actual temperature–but it’s a mini-game for me, every day on my drive.

As I moved in last Halloween, temps have pretty much always been cold and dropping every single day.

The coldest it was in my garage…? Twelve degrees. It was well below zero outside that morning, but inside the garage, it managed to stay a balmy 12.

Most mornings, the garage hovered around the freezing mark, probably due to the temperature of my house.

Today, I hopped in my car and started him up.

37 degrees.

I was thrilled that it was above average in the garage. I figured it was close to that outside, probably in the low thirties.

I backed out and started on my way to work.

About two blocks away, the thermostat read 41 degrees!

For the first time, I began my game and found the temperature of the air was warmer than the temp inside my garage.

I got to watch the thermostat CLIMB.

(By the way, once I got into the city, where the buildings and people make it warmer, the temp actually showed 46 at one point. I rolled down my window just to take it in.)

Is that a sign of spring or what?

A Holiday Tale

It was six days before Christmas and I was a merry girl. Without question, there was nothing that could spoil this mood of mine. I have Christmas cards to write and presents to wrap and nothing pressing on my calendar. What more could a girl ask for?

As I left work on Sunday evening, it was cold and crisp. While the temps are chillier than perhaps I would wish, it was a beautiful, clear, winter night. I took a deep breath and felt that Christmas air fill my lungs and started the walk to my car. I had to cross the street in order to reach Gus, and before I did so, I looked both ways. (See, Santa? I’m a very good girl.) As I turned my head to the left, I saw something glinting on the ground. I peered directly at it and couldn’t quite make out what it was. All I could see is that it sparkled. As a sucker for all things sparkly, I detoured slightly to check out what was in the street.

As I got closer, it became clear that what I had spotted was a broken mirror, likely from someone’s car. I thought to myself, “that sucks. Terrible time of year to have to pay for car repairs.”

Then I put it out of my mind and headed toward Gus. I popped the door lock and my boy immediately started groaning. (Truly, there was this weird, grinding, metallic noise) I had no idea where the sound came from, but it wasn’t something I had heard before. I didn’t even open the door, I was so concerned.

Then, suddenly, I spotted the problem:

photo (76)

Turns out, the person I had been feeling sorry for…was me. And I was right, it does suck.

Yes, while I was at work yesterday, someone sideswiped my car and destroyed my side mirror.

photo (81)

The groaning was the automatic mirror trying to adjust. Whenever I unlock my car, all the parts immediately line up to the settings I have for them. The mirrors go to where I need them, the steering wheel moves to where it is comfortable, the seat slides to the perfect position. In this case, the gears were free of their casing and trying to move through the damage…resulting in the horrible grinding.

photo (80)

I searched, in vain, under Gus’s wipers, trying to find a note from the people who did this. What kind of person would hit someone’s car and not even stop to leave a note? Even if you had no insurance and no intention of paying, the least they could do is scrawl “I’m sorry” on a scrap of paper so I wouldn’t feel so terrible.

Nope, nothing.

photo (79)

Well, that’s when I got mad.

I picked up my broken mirror (no sense leaving glass in the street) and patted my broken car and climbed in. I immediately started fuming and then ranting out loud. How dare they? It’s Christmas! Don’t they have any common decency? What is WRONG with people? and so on and so forth.

It took me about two blocks to realize that I was being ridiculous.

Yes, everything I was angry about was true and I probably have every reason to be angry, but that solves nothing at all. The fact is, I don’t know who did this to me. I am sure it was an accident, and for whatever reason, they chose not to report it. There is nothing I can do about that. What’s done is done. I can’t undo it, so why waste time and energy being mad about it? That gains me nothing but tense shoulders and a bad attitude.

Thinking on it some more, I finally reached the conclusion that whomever caused this accident must be worse off than me in order to have walked away without a word. I’m certainly not flush with cash, times are actually pretty tight. But, I have a roof over my head, a slightly worse for the wear car, and two jobs. I’m okay. I’m also fortunate to have a solid support system, so if something terrible did happen, I have people to turn to for help.

I’m lucky.

There are plenty of people out there who don’t have what I have. And I choose to believe it is one of those people who hit my car. I choose to believe that they felt terrible but knew that they couldn’t afford to fix the damages and chose the path of deceit because they felt they had no choice. It isn’t right, but I can understand why someone might feel that way.

Then, it occurred to me, that it was far more likely that the culprit was not, in fact, some impoverished single mother who couldn’t feed her children if she had to buy me a new side mirror, but instead, a spoiled, selfish adolescent who is getting a free ride to a primo school like Hamline, via mommy and daddy. That kid was probably to scared to own up to his mistake. I would guess because he or she was doing something wrong at the time (like maybe texting and driving). While this shakes my scenario a bit, it doesn’t change the end result. Nothing I can do. And really, when you consider that this poor kid is traipsing through life not knowing right from wrong…well, turns out I’m still better off.

No matter how I look at it, this sucks, but there are a lot of people for whom it would be a far worse catastrophe. So, in light of this Christmas season, Merry Christmas to the person who hit my car. I hope that in choosing to screw me over, your life is somehow made easier. No need to worry about me, I will be just fine.

And my attitude is right where it should be. Cheery and joyful!