Saturday, December 13, 2003

Now how do I reach that?

Went to collect Clifford (who we last left languishing in the doctor's parking lot). I pulled one battery. As a proud parent I was fully prepared to take the plunge and buy him two new ones. But I found out that I don't own the right tools. One battery came out fine. The other one is secured by a little block that is wedged in so tightly there is no room left to turn a ratchet. I would have needed a foot-long extension to reach it. So I took what I could and visited the local Ford dealer. He gladly exchanged my old core for a brand new and pointed me to the cashier's window.

If I ever give up the writing gig, that's a cool job. The requirements are few. Be literate. Act bored. Be able to lift up to 50 lbs. unassisted. Show people where they leave their money. I could do that.

One battery later Clifford turned over like a champ. He has his old pep back and is now ready for service. Ahhhh.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Trucking Agai.....awwww, Clifford!

I hoped to get away from work early today. I had some comp time built up and we lose it all at midnight on the 14th. But Clifford, who was at the truck doctor's, was not done with his appointment until after 2pm.

A workmate kindly took me to pick up Clifford. It was a simple thing. I handed the cashier half of my paycheck and she sent me into the service bay to collect my little red friend. It was beautiful. He started and I drove out, around the car lot, and home. I got Katie and we went to a doctor and got her a flu shot. They are in short supply. That's why the physicians are gouging the public. We paid $50 for the injection. To add insult to injury, we had to complete a few pages of medical background because the doctor can not stick a needle in anybody's arm and push the plunger unless that person has "a chart." If I had it to do again, that doctor would be believing that my sweet young girl has every ailment known to modern medicine and a few that I made up on the spot. It was so bogus. Now Katie has a chart. If you need to see it, it resides in the office of a doctor we will likely never see again. Considering where Katie got that shot, the $50 was not a co-pay, it was "armed" robbery.

We went from one doctor to another. Katie had a 5pm appointment to have her ears checked so she can have them re-pierced. We arrived a tad early, 4:30, because it didn't make sense to come home only to turn around and go to the next appointment. So there we were. Had you come by at 5 we would still have been there. Ditto for 5:30. Finally, somebody looked out and noticed the drool trickling down the side of my face while my head was thrown back on the windowsill and I heartily presented everybody my best impression of a buzz saw. They asked if anybody had helped us. We said no. We told them we'd been there since 4:30. They did a double-take, then apologized convincingly and we were soon ushered into the heart of the building. It's a pediatrician's office. That's a place where people really like other people and would never dream of demanding a picture of U.S. Grant in exchange for a flu shot. Nice folks. In a matter of minutes we were seen, talked to, and bid adieu to. We were on our way.

We didn't go far. When we opened Clifford's door, the cab light was about as bright as those cheesy yellow bulbs that one often sees in bare fixtures affixed to decrepit buildings and fishing shacks (which may be redundant). Oh no. The next sound we heard was Clifford valiantly but futilely attempting to kick over his engine. It was no good. The folks at the truck doctor's had given him a jolt--much like the couple of jolts I had given him to start him earlier in the week.

Joan and I had made a special trip to Sears a couple of nights ago to purchase jumper cables and a battery charger. 200 amps. It's kind of like a cattle prod for a truck with a thyroid condition. I got Clifford's attention as soon as we got home with my new toy and he cranked right over. I was so proud. I took him out for a spin. If you're not a pickup kind of person you may not appreciate the special joy of sitting up above it all and steering your sheet metal steed through congested roads, into other people's yards, and especially into the muddy ruin that is the local landfill. Sure it's silly. And I'm okay with that. It was good to be teamed with my crimson friend again.

I got home, parked, came inside, slept, awakened, and eagerly dressed and headed outside the next morning. It was like Christmas two weeks early. But it was pretty much like the Christmas I found cobs and coal in my stocking. Clifford had internal combustion dysfunction. Just not enough oomph to get going. So he rested overnight and I took him to the truck doctor's the next morning. This was Thursday. The appointment wasn't until Friday but I wanted to be there early enough to fill somebody's slack time if it was possible. They started on Thursday, finished today, and he got us all the way home, to two doctors, and that's where he is now. Languishing in the parking lot of the nice doctor. Tomorrow I go out and buy him two (count 'em, two!) pacemakers. I think I'll go to WalMart and get two of the biggest honkin' batteries they have. That ought to put some pep in his step. But now? Now it's time for some horizontal pondering. I'm off to Noddy Land. See y'all.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Perils of Pooling

Did I mention that Clifford has tired batteries? It's been a couple of days now that we've been without a truck. I don't like it. Tonight I had band practice. I had to skip cleaning stalls because we got home too late to do that and make it to practice on time. When I got to practice, Joan and I had a Chinese fire drill and she left with the car in search of a grocery and a Hair Cuttery. She found them. She's sleekly shorn now. She's also on my doo-doo list. Practice ended at 8pm. Joanie's shopping adventure ended at 8:15pm. Just after I called her. She didn't get back to the church until 8:45 and we didn't get home until well after 9 o'clock. I was disgruntled. If you ask Joan, I was non-communicative, antisocial, irked, pathetic, and in the wrong. Nowhere I haven't been before, mind you. And at least one of those describes a state in which I spend much of my time. But the later nights--the one's that used to be really early nights for us--are beginning to catch up and take their toll. I'm becoming hopelessly hooked on a 9 o'clock bedtime. And looking at the clock, that's where I need to be pretty soon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Is this day over yet?

What was to be a simple day just kept getting longer today. When it was all over, Joan and I had 11 hours on our time cards. Then we came home and Joan had just enough time to get Katie to dance class while I went across the street to feed the horses.

Joan has amazing faith. She put chicken legs in the oven and set the timer for just about an hour. Now when I climb over the fence I never have any idea how long it will take me to clean stalls and feed. Any critter in a playful or ornery mood can add several minutes to a relatively simple chore. Still, I made it back in time to remove the meat from the oven in time. Joan must pray or something. Maybe it's her guardian kitchen angel. Whatever it is, it works for her.

When everybody got home it seemed to take a while to get settled down. Our 6am start time has been slipping (which leads us to bumping into schedules at the other end). Finally, we're getting to bed about an hour later than comfortable. In answer to the question in the heading, yes it is. Good night.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Doctor Nodrive

We took my father-in-law to the doctor today to find out whether he should continue to drive. The verdict is in. It is negative.

I hope I have my father-in-law's equanimity when I grow up. As we sat in the waiting room he was talking to the staff and doing everything he could think of to endear himself to the people who might influence the outcome of this decision. As he spoke one could see the importance to him of a postive outcome. At stake was his independence. For over forty years he has been able to get in his vehicle and drive the ten miles to the nearest town at a whim. Now he must depend on the availability of family or friends to do the things that were simple tasks not long ago. His hopes were high.

When we spoke with the doctor, she told him that it was best for his own safety and for the safety of other travellers if he did not drive. As he looked around the room he saw those closest to him nodding in assent. I can only imagine that seeing unanimous agreement felt like betrayal, but he seemed to accept it well. As we left to drive home he said, "That's okay. I don't have to get my way all the time." That's the sort of peace and acceptance that I have yet to develop. He is quite a man.

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!

Don't you just love those racetrack ads where the guy's voice sounds as if the veins in his head are about to pop? I do. Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! It's almost as if it's a religious service and that's the prelude. The rest of the adverts usually sound like a tape on fast forward and have something to do with stock car races, drag races, or moto-cross races. But always races. I've never heard an ad in which the "Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!" announced a bocce tournament at the city park or a bingo blast at the senior center. The frenetic cadence of an over-caffeinated announcer had no place in our day today.

Our day would have been properly introduced by a laconic "Suuuuuunday.... Sundaaaaaaaaay.... Suuuuuuuuuundaaaaaaaaaay." We got up at the crack of nine. Or so. Church service on Saturday evening was the victim of an uncleared parking lot. We took a pass on the opportunity to attend other services this morning. Instead, Katie and I checked out IM and saw a friend with whom we hadn't met in quite some time. So we invited him out for coffee at a local mall. It's always good to re-meet somebody. Today was no exception. Curiously, that part of the mall is an amalgamation of my favorite vices. We had coffee at Joe Muggs, where Books-A-Million faces Auntie Anne's Pretzels and the Tobacco Leaf. We indulged in three of the four. Katie got a book, our friend Jim bought the coffees and I sprung for a round of pretzels. Still, the siren song of processed leaves beckons me to return. When I do you can just bet that I WILL put that in my pipe and smoke it.

Grabbing a quick lunch we headed around the beltway to work. Katie, as you can imagine, was thrilled. She borrowed the iPod for part of the visit. The rest of the time she either curled up on the floor of Joan's cube or chafed at the injustice of being forced to go into the office with us. Think of the strain, folks. No IM. No cable TV. We're lucky she survived.

Hopefully, Joan still has a job. She and I slipped away for a moment to work on a document. When we got back to Joan's cube, Katie had jumped on the computer under Joan's login and was avidly perusing her Yahoo! account. That is very verboten at work. It bypasses all attempts to catch viruses before they hit the system. I couldn't tell if Joan was going to faint or pitch a fit. But something was fixin' to happen. She regained control and Katie is still among the living. For now.

When work was over, we got together with a very nice person who was also putting in the Sunday hours there and went to a nearby diner for dinner. Now we're home and organizing our schedules for the week.

We wish you could have been here today. The sky was a lovely blue, with bare trees brushing the fringes along the ridge. The sun was bright and the snow sparkled. Best of all, the flurries of yesterday were replaced by slow drips today. That's such a good sign. Because tomorrow starts my week of doing the evening equine feeding while the kids' Momma goes to Hawaii on business. Somehow my end of the stick seems rather short in this deal.