Monday, November 19, 2007

Working Nights, Or Don't Give up Your Day Job

Alrighty then! This 12 hour nights job-a-ma-thingy is messing with my sleep cycle!

No complaints, though. If this will further our progress FASTER to Get That Land, then so be it... a night owl I shall be. And speaking of which, there is a very loud real owl that patrols my night site and makes his presence known. We were introduced as I sat in a very very DARK parking lot, being watchful (as the job requires), and about scared the bajeebers out of me when he first made himself known...LOUDLY, overhead.

There are also four cats that lurk--which isn't that easy to see in the pitch dark, but they are different shades of the surrounding dimness-- two black, one gray, and one black and white. They prowl around like fingers of shadow-on-shadow during the night. They must still have a bit of kitten in them, as they chase bugs a lot and at times will do the four-legged Sproingggg straight up in the air when surprised by some poor insect they're batting around. I meant to bring them a bit of dry food the past few days, but forgot, so last night they got some cumulative leftovers. They lucked stomach was iffy and the grocery-store salmon "sushi" rolls (I think it was smoked salmon) didn't swim well in my digestive tract, so those were offered (geesh...!) And on top of that, J stopped by to surprise me with a hot meal from the local Greek family restaurant. What would usually have been my favorite (lamb!) was nibbled on by me, and FEASTED upon by the kitties. I can't believe I've been reduced to sucking peppermints while I watch furry midgets eat the good stuff, but these night-and-day switcheroos have put my stomach on the high seas.

Ah I put together a tray of some of the collected leftovers for the cats, and they spent most of the evening making trips to the buffet, which also included some leftover hamburger and some italian bread, mashed potatoes, and green peas. Hope it holds 'em...the next few nights might be limited to yogurt and saltines, at this rate :)

Thanksgiving should be interesting, but my daughter's sorely disappointed that there's been a major change of plans. Her boyfriend, new to the Navy, had planned a Thanksgiving visit to his parents here locally, and was scheduled to arrive last Friday. Alas, the Navy had other ideas, though, and ON Friday as he was about to leave, they told him he had to stay and report to be shipped to a location overseas. He knows to expect the unexpected, but even so...I know they were really disappointed. She'd bought a couple of new outfits and made plans for each evening he was to be here. Now they're beginning, again, to count the days till they THINK they'll see each other next. Hopefully, she'll have her nursing training closer to completion by then. It should keep her pretty busy in the meantime. I'm glad she's here for the holiday. If luck holds out, all three of us have the same day off together...something that's becoming rarer and rarer.

J is working crazy hours, too. Those off days are becoming more and more important, especially trying to steal some time together. There WILL be a payoff, and not just in dollars, in sight. He told me tonight he can SEE the progress in the bills, and we're getting closer to that day we'll be able to Do This Thing (make our move to acreage). Can it really happen in the next few months?? He thinks so! That fuels my resolve and my ability to drag myself out of bed after a SHORT sleep between 12 hour shifts.

I wish my car would cooperate better. We're in a car quandry. J has the good vehicle, a truck. R has the Old Faithful 17 year old Nissan-that-thinks-it-can. (I LOVE that car! it's minus AC, though, and R's blown the speakers out. Or in her words "those have BEEN like that for years!" ha! yeah, the years SHE'S driven it ;-)) MY car is the one we got in a hurry, the Taurus SHO V8. It drives like a $30,000 vehicle (or such is my guess) spoils a person. It was a bargain, IF it actually WORKED. We have now exceeded the original (reasonable, affordable) used car purchase price in REPAIRS. Yes, our ONE American made car is the only one requiring baffling numbers of repeat visits to the shop. I've had people on the street (men only, actually) stop me and want to see the engine of this car. They are amazed at the wonderful condition the vehicle is in, and tell me WHAT a GREAT car I have. I want to fall down on my knees and sob and beg them to PLEASE have MERCY on me and take this beautiful leather interior superior handling lumbar supporting spacious interior handling like a dream DEMONIC LEMON CAR OFF my hands NOW, only we owe the balance of the loan for it.

Here is a typical day in our CAR life. Hubby drives off to work in his Dependable and Attractive Truck. His AC works. He gets the basic maintenance oil changes periodically. He has bonded with his vehicle. He adores her. They have a special relationship I am not permitted to share. Even though he spits out the window, she adores him and gets him where he needs to go...without drama.

Daughter drives The Nissan That Thinks It Can. It is old. It is opinionated. It has survived a tree falling on it, a single mother learning to care for a car alone for the first time, and a teenager learning to drive for the first time EVER. Its dings are its badges of honor. It is a nice dark neutral gray, which hides most age spots and wear. It endures my 19 year old's taste in seat covers, its respectable sedan seating now punctuated loudly with a very LOUD and RED beach pattern. There is the small stuffed monkey hanging from the rear view mirror. There is the Happy Meal Mr. Potato Head toy that resides in the back window ledge, announcing every turn with a skitter and a Bam! against the opposing glass. And the detritus of textbooks, workout clothes (in various stages of cleanliness), a few petrified french fries, the picture of the boyfriend suspended from the visor, makeup/sunglasses/ID card, etc all smooshed in the valley below the hand brake, and a collection of empty water bottles. This car is a chain smoker. Something somewhere had a small oil leak and fizzes a bit of oil round and about enough to cause the heated engine to smell as if it will burst into flame at the least provocation. However, I'm assured (knock on wood) it is perfectly safe, just a little annoying. And not worth the money it would take to fix it. Hmmm... There's no AC, so you have to roll down the windows and drive fast. And it steams up the windows during rain, which is a real pain. But this will GET you there!

MY car. Will make you want to drive. It floats. It is a dream, a vision, a magic carpet on the interstate. It barely gets warmed up at 80 mph. I've never allowed it its full potential, this finicky thoroughbred, and let it go "all out", I rein it in, but even so, that 8 cylinders purrs at 80 and feels like it's holding it REALLY wants to do 180, and you're just barely budging. It's beautiful. It WAS affordable. I even gave it a name...back then. Back in the day when it.....RAN. First the AC gave out. That was the day after we bought warranty. Blahblahblah. Then one day, it would not turn on. That was Week Two. The week we got the payment book from the bank and it was too late to beg the saleman to take it back. Then it began needing more and more coolant. It drank coolant. Coolant was its beverage of choice. It developed a Coolant Fixation. It needed it. It needed a twelve step coolant codependency intervention. The habit became more and more frequent. Then the car was committed...yes there were tears all the garage. The sort of garage that was given a laundry list by a family with grim clenched jaws and even tighter clenched pocketbooks, and asked to FIX IT ALL. Oh, they promised. We paid. I drove. It was supposed to last, this happiness, yes. But I had this sick feeling, this apprehension. Had Stella (yes, that's her name) really gotten her groove back? There are so many things that go wrong with her SO frequently, she is a vehicular hypochondriac.

I'll let you be the judge. Day before yesterday, I drove 30 minutes away. This little jaunt required a full container (think BIG container) of coolant, just before heading out. I GET there. I prepare to get home. What does the little light indicate? Another ENTIRE container of coolant needed. I'd continue, but just think quantity quantity quantity and enjoy the thought that my present job requires long periods of sitting in a dependable vehicle.

And then laugh I I don't scream and cry and throw a tantrum.

A guy actually stopped me at the gas station to rave about my car. He's a collector...he loves the Taurus SHO models, etc etc. He WANTS it. (As he's talking, I'm peering past his shoulder to see if there's a conspicuous green liquid trail yet under her front tires) He wants to talk purchase...while I'm silently going over all the full disclosure lemon laws and thinking of my duty to mankind to just put this vehicle out of its misery once and for all, and I get a sudden urge to confess CONFESS all her BAD BAD THINGS. He hands me his name and number "in case I ever want to sell her." I tell him "I'll think about it."

Oh, I think about it...I fantasize about having a dependable car! At this point, to sell her for what we've spent on her would take the original used purchase price PLUS all the repairs PLUS all the repairs to come between now and when she is actually in new ownership, plus the potential attorney fees AFTER having sold her with full disclosure when some night, in the darkest hour, I find her BACK in our driveway with a sign on the front windshield demanding money back or ELSE.

So, for now, I spend time with my broke-down undependable fickle fickle fickle gorgeous little lemon car, leaning back in her leather interior, imagining what it must be like to have working airconditioning, a lighter plug, tires that cost less than $125 apiece, an engine that cools efficiently, a commute without drama....all these little thoughts I have whilst the engine is turned OFF.

I am opting out of car selecting. I have commissioned my husband to find me a no-nonsense get-it-done bastion of dependability. It will be will will chew through mud and be impervious to nails and razor wire. It will be able to haul manure, a busload of kids, a farmload of animals. And it will be able to tow....the fabulously gorgeous and defunct Lemon Car of Horrors. ;-)

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