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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I must Never Leave Home

I feel downright lucky on those -45 days when I don't have to get into a frozen solid vehicle to get to work, but believe me- when those balmy temps of -15 roll in, I'm ready and desparate to get out for some change of scenery. Not that its ever an effortless event. Everyone born of my flesh, flesh of my flesh, and cleaved unto my flesh, plus the better half of all children born of someone else's flesh, has gotten pretty darned used to me being here and serving them hand and foot through the rise and fall of seasons and an empire or two.

Wednesday night it was. Target departure: 5:35 pm. The last of the snack-munching, glue-smearing crew should be out by then. While setting them up with a craft, I would fry the bacon to go with the perogies that I would lovingly prepare for my brood, lest they should starve to death during my departure. Brian should be about done teaching his guitar student, and all the play dates and homework plans should be pretty much sorted out by then. I could quickly shower off the "essence of smoked pork" , and still make it out in plenty of time for supper with the gals.

Brian was none too thrilled about missing his gym time, but saw the wisdom in letting the unstable one out for a little refresher, so off I zoomed in my sporty family van. I took some country roads to drop Jane off at a friends, then made my way to pick up my sister from her country paradise. I was only 30 minutes off my targeted timeline.

That was before I attempted the precipitous drifts that lay between me and my goal. If you own a Dodge Caravan, you know about the serpentine belt. You know that it is mounted too close to the ground for us indomitable prairie folk, and with the slightest provocation, will throw its tiny belt arms up in the snowy air, and quit. And that, folks it just what happened.

I no longer had power steering. But such a small detail would in no way prevent me from my glorious outing. I cranked that baby HARD and got onto my sister's yard. We'd simply have to take her vehicle into the city, live in denial about mine till we got back- we'd be so refreshed by that point that it would surely feel like a small quest to conquer. But that was before we discovered that her car was stuck firmly in the snow. All our pushing and grunting and spinning were of no consequence. We'd need a man. A man with a four wheel drive, and a tow rope, and a good attitude.

That taken care of, we were only an hour and fifteen behind schedule.
The actual outing was fabulous. It was so devoid of complications, that its retelling is irrelevant in this context- Good greek salad and therapeutic group counsel. It all seemed worth the effort.

Heading home, we recognized that the time her car had spent hung up on a drift had deposited some snow in her wheel well which now acted as additional weights on the wheels. We shaked and shimmied the thirty minute ride home, a harsh reminder of the van problem that yet awaited us. I was frozen solid from sitting in a drafty restaurant corner, so before I attempted the power steering-less drive home, I had the foresight to deck myself out in snowpants, boots, scarf, and mitts. Kathy offered me her cell phone, but I optimistically waved her off, thinking I'd inconvenienced her enough for one 24 hour period. It was only a power steering problem after all, and anyone worth half my body weight would be able to turn that beast with just a little extra effort.

I made it a chilly mile and a half before my electronics began a forbidding dance. Lights on, lights off. Radio, no radio. Who knew that the serpentine belt also caused the alternater to do its job, and I was now running on an extraordinarily low battery... A battery without enough juice to work the hazard lights. Have to take my chances leaving the van on the side of the road, and hope that all large trucks would stay their course, and not slay me or my troublesome sports-mobile.

Those snowpants sure came in handy, walking alone in the dark down a busy highway in the night. Boy, was the guy at the strawberry farm ever happy to see me drop by at 11:00 pm to ask for a phone. He was so happy, he put his sorrels on over his jammie pants and drove me back out to the van to see if he could figure out what the deal was. The deal was : no deal. So, he cheerfully gave me a lift back to my sister's house, me clutching my precious milk and eggs that I needed from that van before tomorrow's early morning mania would hit me in the face.

"Sure woulda been nice to have a cell phone", I announced, tromping back into her kitchen, relishing the look of utter disbelief on her face. I sure was glad I had decided to not inconvenience her, I thought to myself as her husband mercifully gave me a midnight ride back to town. Sure am glad I got out for a rejuvenating outing. Too bad I'll have to work for about two weeks now to pay for the costly tow that I'll have to arrange tomorrow morning, and some high-priced mechanic fees to get that #%@* belt back in place.... Sure would be nice to have a radio and power steering though, not that it would do much good in the morning for Brian's 20 minute commute to work without a functioning vehicle.

Maybe I could loan him my snowpants.

And folks, it doesn't end there. Because I must never leave home and must always go to bed at 10:00 pm sharp, I shut off my alarm while in a dead sleep. Yes, I did. And when I woke up, fully an hour late, I had to let poor, defenseless, impressionable children into the house, wearing my housecoat. I also had to phone the father of the child who I'm sure was at my door 30 minutes earlier, and apologize profusely for having ever left home. Leaving home makes me vulnerable to a multitude of sins. Ruining vehicles, waking neighbors, providing undependable childcare, running up bills, causing my loved one to miss his work-out.

So, if you need me for anything at all, I will be here.
I will never again be so selfish that I would actually leave home.

*somebody... please help me. I really, really need to get out of here....

26 comments:

andrea said...

That seals it. You are a goddess of winter and I'm a bum. I let the kids out of the car early today because of a little slush... sigh...

Anonymous said...

Actually, This whole serpentine belt thing has been fixed once and for all. Both Goodyear as well as Gates now offer a special fix kit that locks the belt on the pulleys. It can't fall off. I for one, would not drive one of these vehicles without the kit installed. The kit is only available for the 96-2000 model years. If you have the 3.0L engine then the kit is already available. IF you have the 3.3/3.8L engine then you will have to wait a couple of weeks until the kit comes out. Trust me, if you get this kit you will not be disappointed.

Part # for 3.0L engine Gates# 38342K
Goodyear # 49204K
Mopar # SBK38342AA
Part # for 3.3/3.8L enigne Gates# 38379K (will be avail end of January)
Goodyear# 49215K (will be avail end of January)

Anonymous said...

What the?
There's some car guru that reads your blog Joyce, and it sure isn't me. I don't know my radiator from my...
um, from my... gasket?
-Heather

it's a gong show... said...

Heaven forbid if mom leaves the house...all hell breaks loose! Boy can I relate to that one Joyce...this winter is REALLY getting to me...grrrr

B

Anonymous said...

Well, that was an adventure! Where did you get the Greek Salad?

Anonymous said...

some people are lynch pins - everything falls apart without them - that would be you, I guess...or maybe...nah, I won't go there...

Anonymous said...

Oh.my.goodness. is all I have to say.

Ah ... but the pull of outside is so very strong ... that glorious other world unplugged ... from nappies and sticky stuff ... full of words and solitariy bathroom breaks ...

best of luck ... in the house.

Krina

Joyce said...

Reason #67 as to why I can never show my face outside of my house again:

MY MECHANIC JUST COMMENTED ON MY BLOG!!!

Anonymous said...

we'll get an inch of snow soon and the country(UK) will grind to a halt

andrea said...

You should be rejoicing, Joyce. You may have freezing cold weather and some bad luck but you have a literate, enthusiastic mechanic. How rare is that?

Rosa said...

o.k. That was the most bizzare discourse of comments. It could possibly pass for a blog spot for you Joyce. The pain I experienced while reading your post today has left scares. I have enjoyed so many similar outings that my empathetic or sympathetic joy was with you for the whole painful not fun experience. However; It will be worth it when we go to Rapid City on our next birthday outing....

Joyce said...

ok, weirder.
It wasn't my mechanic, just a guy with the same name as my mechanic.... who talks like a mechanic...
Are my meds working?

dajamama said...

Heck with that never leaving again stuff. You just need to leave home more often, so you and your family are prepared for these little curve-balls.

The constant giving and giving and giving can burn you out. You need some receiving once in a while, and that's what this girls' night out sounded like. It's harder for the fam to gripe if you make it a regular thing... "Honey, it's the 2nd Wednesday, I always go out with the girls on the 2nd Wednesday! Did you forget again?"

chuckle

Anonymous said...

your mechanic's name is anonymous? i am confused. (i'm assuming it's the mechanic that had all the wise words about the serpentine belt thing.)

Anonymous said...

I am the mechanic who commented on your blog, my name is AL. I was only trying to give some FREE advice for this lovely lady.
It really bothers me when serpentine belts fall off minivans and leave nice people stranded.

Your Pal AL

Joyce said...

you see, my mechanic's name is Al, and he denies leaving helpful advice on my blog. (And it IS helpful, thank you Al, shall I resent the other Al for not beating you to it?!)

I'm beginning to develop some grandiose notions that the entire TOWN knows my innermost thoughts. The lady at the grocery store, the mechanic.... the heating and cooling folk.....

dum-tum- dun- tum....
(that's supposed to sound like forboding music)

Joyce said...

I also have a brother named Al, and ex brother in law named Al and a friend named Alice.
Maybe I should pursue a conspiracy theory.

Anonymous said...

Nice sound effects, Joyce. I see Micah and the male daycare crew are rubbing off on you.

Anonymous said...

Leave the house!

I can't leave the house (alone) anymore. I just can't.

Things like that are always happening to me, so I panic before I ever get out.

Oh, wait. It's not so great here either, what with the mice and the bat and all...

Judy - Anybody Home
www.judyh58.blogspot.com

Homo Escapeons said...

Blogger just ate my 1,000 word comment so excuse me for a moment
(%#^$%^$@^$#^ BLOGGER!!!)

Ok Joyce you are so lucky that this didn't happen the night before when it was like-89...you are working out some Big-Time Karmic Debt...just kidding.

I actually managed to wrestle a serpentine belt back on Within's Caravan in the middle of Winter on a bleak desolate plutonian highway..in a manner and fashion that would have made McGyver insanely jealous...to this day I brag about it (because I am not that mechanically inclined) at the drop of a hat..
at every opportunity..
much like I am doing now.

You need to excercise your scapegoat option in the marriage manual and blame your stupid-dumbhead husband for the whole thing anyway...quit being so nice.

Enjoy your house arrest. Hope you get accustomed to that annoying beeping sound that your ankle bracelet makes when you open the door.

Anonymous said...

oh man!! i need to go take a nap now. :) i am positively tuckered oout from simply reading your adventure.

Anonymous said...

OH man!!! i need a nap now. simply reading about your nasty little adventure has been tuckered out. :)

lettuce said...

Second attempt to comment....

ummm..... something about what dajamama said - go out more often!

The UK was nearly immobilised yesterday because of strong winds. Hahahaha. Imagine what happens when it snows.

And what a nice man Al seems to be.

Cherrypie said...

Gosh! We had a few hours of snow and it brought Luton to a standstill. You people are fearless.

I am totally empathising with you on this. Cars suck! x

Anonymous said...

I have thrown that ^*&&$ belt at least six times in the last year...once at 65mph on the interstate...Plymouth told me that doesn't qualify as dangerous. Too bad we can't get all these Grand Voyager afflicted people together for a class action suit against Chrysler/Plymouth. This type of blind eye in big business is shameful. My family will never own another vehicle in the Chrysler family. (I know Chrysler could care less - but that doesn't change the fact that I feel better knowing I'll never give them another dime.)
This info is correct..Thanks Al!
Part # for 3.0L engine Gates# 38342K
Goodyear # 49204K
Mopar # SBK38342AA
Part # for 3.3/3.8L enigne Gates# 38379K (will be avail end of January)
Goodyear# 49215K (will be avail end of January)

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