Friday, November 28, 2008


This is how I have felt for the last couple of days as we deal with the car stuff. It's almost like a sitcom - except sort of tragic. I guess that's what humor is - being able to laugh through the difficult stuff.

So, we hit a couple of deer and totaled the car. It's just a car, and I've come to believe that the deer had a suicide pact. It only took them four lanes of heavy traffic to successfully reach their goal. I'm going to think of it as an act of kindness. We were sort of like Dr. Kovorkian for deer.

The car is still on an extended vacation in Wisconsin. We're still negotiating how to retrieve it from the "Car Spa." It's had quite an experience, and it is not ready to return. I guess if I'd had such a traumatic experience, I'd be reticent to return as well.

Lucky for us - we thought - that we'd recently purchased a new/old car. It's a finicky beast! Several nights ago, she decided that she would no longer tolerate coolant in her system and she sprung a leak. OK, leak is a delicate word for the geyser that occured under the hood of our tank. She basically vomited radiator fluid from Saint Paul to Minneapolis...

We had the whole family out for a nice evening with friends (We to see Wicked!), and the more radiator fluid we put in, the more radiator fluid that ran all over the floor of the parking garage. Soon, we were standing in a giant puddle of radiator fluid. We were beginning to feel like Noah in a flood of car liquid.

We inched along the highway - stopping every 10 feet to replenish the golden liquid in the radiator. It was not unlike nursing a child through the flu - a gentle sip every 5 minutes in hope that she'll keep it down and get better. It only took six hours and several moments of whining from everyone in the car - children and adults included - to reach our goal of home!

Upon returning home, I tucked the Littles safely into their beds and Helpful Hubby spent many, many hours on line researching our old/new car and finding a trust-worthy place to take it! At last, he found a reliable mechanic - and within walking distance - Hooray! We had a plan in place for the following day! We both fell into bed exhausted but reassured that all would be made right.

Daddyman and Volvo limped the six blocks to Tuan's Auto World. They gently encouraged the car into the shop and Daddyman waved goodbye. He walked home, and together we worried and nibbled our nails as we awaited the estimate... they could fix it, but they'd have to replace the timing belt and the water pump. Only $600.00!

"Go ahead," we said. "We need a car."

So, our 'trusty mechanic' toiled away the day. We got a call - no new timing belt needed! We celebrated. It would only cost $300.00! We got another call - car is ready. Daddyman set off on the hike to retrieve our once again trusty tank!

During all of this, we wiggled around our budget as we tried to find a way to pay for all of this. We live pretty much check to check, and this was going to be tricky. We were bound and determined not to ask for help. We also do not live on credit. We are a cash and carry household. The girls were relentless in their inquiries: How long until Daddyman gets home? Are we going to Auntie's house then? Can we stay all day? Can I watch the parade until Daddyman gets home? Are they putting a tv in the Volvo? That would be neat? When they fix the car, will we be able to eat in it? How long until Daddyman gets home? Is Daddyman home yet?

**Gee, my stomach hurts. Can't imagine why!?**

Daddyman was triumphant and returned with a working car! It wasn't long until he was sent off on a couple of errands - extra vanilla, forgotten ingredients - with one request: please, fill the car with gas and run it through the car wash. I guess that the guy who sold us the car failed to mention that the seal for the sun roof doesn't really seal. Daddyman found this out during his second shower of the day - this time INSIDE THE CAR in the car wash. The car was clean on the outside and soaking wet inside. And yet, he laughed. He said he was pretty certain that if anyone saw him they might call the guys in the white coats to come and take him away.

Daddyman return, wet but victorious. Car works! And all of the forgotten ingredients were gathered. The meal was prepared and we could now journey to join our family to celebrate and give thanks. (We all agreed that we are thankful for crumple zones and thrifty mechanics.)

Off we headed to celebrate Thanksgiving with our wonderful, extended family.

Note: This is my favorite holiday. My auntie hosts at her home about 20 minutes away - and it is a terrific day!

About 10 minutes into the drive, the car begins to act "funny." OK, not funny HAHA, but funny "OMG Why is everyone staring at us and pointing to the back of the car? Oh, that smoke that is billowing out of the back of the car. Interesting. It wasn't doing that before. Oh, neat. Now the smoke is coming over the top of the hood. I wonder what it is. Great. Now it's actually coming into the cabin of the car. It's kind of exciting. Can you still see to drive? Yes? Good. Open your windows, girls. I wonder if we should pull over or if we should try to get closer to Auntie's house? Put the flashers on. As long as there's not any flames, we're probably OK."

Feel like a rerun of Malcom in the Middle yet? Yep. I thought so, too. Except they are making a shitload of money for their pain and torture! And they are in reruns so they are getting residual checks!

We almost make it to Auntie's and we call for a rescue. This brings cousin to the rescue. We transfer the kids and the food to the next car and head out on the Family Fun - not really feeling fun, but certainly a couple of bottles of wine will help dull the pain I feel.

The feasting continues. We laugh and talk and hug and ignore the car and laugh some more, and finally we plan how to get all of us back over the river and home safely... it only takes 3 cars and several attempts to put radiator fluid back in the volvo - nope. Still won't hold her fluid! Even with lots of guys peering under the hood, because as we all know the more people who look under a hood the more likely it is to magically work again.

So, this morning, we are calling AAA. Nope, they can't begin our towing service until Sat. Our membership is too new. We call Papa - he'll help,but he's not awake yet and the family that stayed at his house is still there... We call the 'Trusty Mechanic' and he is anxiously awaiting the return of our new/old car... We are back to the bank statements trying to discover secret money somewhere... We are trying to eat everything out of our freezer and cupboards before we go to the grocery store again. We still haven't been to the grocery store after our trip to the Dells, and our cupboards are almost bare. (Does anyone have a good recipe for black beans, tomato soup, and brussel sprouts? Oh, and I'm serving it with Kix cereal, if that helps!)

So far, there will be no shopping on Black Friday. (Not my favorite thing anyway, so no big deal.) But it's beginning to look like a black Christmas as well.

"Mommy, why aren't there any pretty presents under the tree?"

"Oh, honey, your present is a car that works. C'mon everyone! Let's go outside and sit in the Volvo again. Bring a blanket - the heat doesn't work yet! But it will by spring! Hohoho!"

And yet, I am reminded: It is just stuff. Someday, we'll look back at this and it will be one of our 'family stories.' We will laugh at all of this soon, I am sure. We are all healthy. We have a great house and we are all relatively happy. I just don't want to have to solve this great puzzle. I want to be the child, not the adult! I wish it were all a hell of a lot easier than it is right now. But if it was, I guess we wouldn't value the important things...

I'll keep telling myself that. Maybe, I'll believe it by spring.


Rose said...

So sorry you're still having car troubles. At least you have a positive attitude; I don't know how negative people (I'm related to some) stand their lives. Congrats to you living without debt; doesn't it make these scary economic times a little less scary? I'm trying to convince my husband of the benefits of living within our means but he has some bad habits. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck with the car(s)!

Iguana Banana said...

Living without debt is a fantastic and freeing feeling! Times like this, a credit card or two might help, but then we have to deal with it on the other side. This economic time is really scary, and I'm glad that I feel like I have a slight handle on it. Slight. Better than nothing, I guess.
Thanks for the good thoughts!

Patti said...

good for you on all fronts. now i am visualizing an unexpected windfall for you, and by visualizing i mean praying :)

Iguana Banana said...

Prayers and visualization - whatever you choose to call it, I thank you very, very much!

by Johanna Brandvik said...

you always seem to get around to the stuff that really matters in the end. i appreciate that about you.

i hope that you got some wine at the aunties and that you and the cousins had a blast.