Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cabrio- the amazing popsicle car

I have a miracle car. My 2001 black VW Cabrio has been my best friend for several moves and grooves since I've had it. The car has been a willing companion when moving children to school, or from apartment to apartment. I have filled the seats with groceries, gifts, people, cats, furniture, and most recently, plants and dirt, compost and leaf mulch.

The car has not uttered one complaint. I mean, sure, it whines for gas every now and then, but as for the water- not a peep. I clean it out fairly often, but not nearly often enough.

When the girls and I returned from our fall vaca, went to my car ( that we left home) to run some "back home" errands and found the passenger side floors were full of water.

FULL. Like- I -opened- the- door -and -a -family -of- water bugs, earthworms, and mosquitos -rafted -out -into -the street- full. The youth director at home church happened by and helped me siphon it out. I put the rugs on the line.

I got in the car and took off for the grocery for some land food. I had the distinct feeling that I had brought the ocean back with me. Silly, me. I turned a corner and felt a spray of wave lightly brush against my face. When I came to a red light, the ocean tided again into the floorboards and I immediately pulled over. I sat in a state of after-vaca- disorientation and slowly slipped my tongue out over my lips and stretched it as far right as I could, hoping to catch a drop of the wave spray that had hit me a few seconds ago. Hmm. Wet. Nasty. But fresh, not salt water. What in the world??

Although the mats dried out and the carpet dried out over a few warm fall days, the sloshing took a while longer. When at last, the water had evaporated, I drove relieved. I took Calvin the Cabrio to my mechanics and they said it was most likely the roof leaking, a common problem in convertibles and they recommended someone for me to visit with the problem. ugh. $$$$$$

I waited. I drove. The rains came and I sloshed. The itsy bitsy spider climbed up and got washed out countless times, the sun drying up the rain again and again. My eldest daughter who is savvy in many things, sent me to a self cleaning car place that had a wet vac. Thank Gosh.
Fear and cost clung to my socks. I kept putting off taking the car in to the shop.

People who rode with me grew accustomed to the sound of water lapping at their feet,just as they had gotten used to the psycho window on the passenger side that had acquired an aversion to going all the way up. My regular riders had learned the pattern for getting the window to close all the way. up halfway then up a bit, up a bit, up a bit and we're all the way there.

A friend who was aware of my earlier fall plantnapping kept asking me if the combination of dirt and damp had sprouted anything yet?

If nothing else, passengers find the ocean sound effects lulling. Good to know.

I grew accustomed to parking with two tires up on the curb to allow the water to drip out more effectively. Two loving work peers commented that they could tell what the weather was based on how the cabrio was parked.

Before Thanksgiving, my daughters surprised me by taking it in and having the handles adjusted hoping a tighter fit would stop leaks. I was so surprised by their sneaky thoughtfulness. I was speechless. My little girls were big enough to do a really adult thing for their mother. woah.
One moment,please, while I absorb yet another big clue that they are transitioning into growny friends from babes. excuse me just one more moment.....

There. Okay. So I went along happily and stayed dry for a few weeks, and then last weekend we had torrential rains and the lake filled again. sighhhhh. I had plans with a few youth friends from church and so they had to ride with their feet up. They made the best of it and created a song called waaaaaater. Every time I turned a corner they'd hug their knees in tighter and sing, "wattttter"

I drove to my new favorite hang out- the car cleaning place, and vacuumed out the floors. Driving around caused more spills, so by the time I took them home, the floors were full again. I took the car back and cleaned it inside and out at length. With armor-all at my side, we got that Cabrio looking new and spritely!!

That night, a hard freeze came to town. When I got up the next morning, every car parked on the street in front of my townhouse was frosted. Neat. First real before winter frost. Wow.
I left for work, the morning chill putting a crispness into my step. I got into the car, cranked it up, and turned on the defroster. Then I waited. I adjusted my seat, squirmed into a comfortable pose, and turned on my windshield wipers. They slid smoothly against the glass, but my window was still frosted. That just didn't make sense.

I leaned back into the cold leather of my seat and slowly brought one gloved hand up to my mouth. I bit into the glove and pulled my fingers out. Then I reached for the windshield and scratched. My nails filled with ice. The inside of my windshield was frosted hard!!
AS were all of the other windows.

Then, I threw a cold sideways glance at the floor mat. It gave me a frigid stare right back. I leaned over and touched it. I learned something.

I learned that car carpet and mats can freeze. I learned that frozen car mats crunch when pressed. I know this to be true.

I was determined to stay chipper and bright, so I reached for my window scraper and tried scraping the inside. I learned something.

I learned that I should have paid more attention to geometry when I took it in High School. Angles Angles angles. The scrapers are designed to scrape the outside curves of the window NOT the inside ones. I scratchedacross and got a line that gave me all of a clear view about .000000000000001 inch wide.

Being cold, my brain cracked. Did you hear it? If you drove by that morning, I suspect you did.
I scratched a few choice words, backwards, on my windshield, then I pulled out an overextended credit card and put it to good use. Then, I learned something else.

I learned that I wish I had paid more attention in Science class as well. As I scraped the front window, I began to see a lovely pile of shaved ice form on my dashboard. At the same time, I heard a gentle and steady drip behind me. The back window defroster was doing a fine job of melting the back window ice, and when ice melts, it becomes water and when that happens INSIDE your car it is called RAIN.

By the time I scraped a large enough space to see through, I had rolled a miniature family of snow people on the dashboard of my car. They accompanied me to work.

When I got to work, I called the car place and made an appt for the next day. The day came and went. It stayed below freezing all day with a hard wind.

I left work, and walked out to the parking lot where my popsicle car was parked. Hanging from the doors on both sides were icicles. Murderous sized icicles, I tell you. The water had been trickling out all day and freezing along the way. The icicles met the asphalt. I learned another damn thing.

Icicles, murderous sized ones at least, make a heinous crunching sound when they are forced apart from asphalt where they have been happily frozen all day. In addition, if it is cold enough for a car to drip icicles, then it is cold enough for any moisture inside the car to Re-freeze on the windows. dejavu boo hoo vu.

I drove to the front of the church just as some coworkers were leaving. They stopped dead in their tracks. I got out. One said, " What is wrong with this picture?" She looked around, scanning the street and parkinglot then returning her gaze to Calvin the frozen Cabrio.
" I don't see any icicles OR frost on anyone elses' car but yours, church chick."
"So, I guess you can see that I am Obviously the lucky one here, right?"
By this time, her kids had approached, opened the doors and were scratching pictures and words on the inside of the windows.
"Cool" said one.
" Yah" said another.
I looked at the boys and thought to myself, " Gee, I used to really like those kids."

The next morning was the same except that I wasn't a rookie anymore, and as soon as I got in, I pulled out the now-worn- overextended credit card and scratched a driving peep hole.
On the way to work, I caught a red light. I took advantage of the time and scratched the peep hole bigger, but something kept nagging at me and glanced at the car beside me, only to see a big-a__ SUV with a cowboy driver, hat tilted back, staring at me. Although I would love to have taken hold of his bandana and tied it extra tight around his lovely, glaringly red neck, i just shrugged and said, "What?" Then the light turned green. I drove off and the Cabrio and I left him in our frost.

I got the car to the shop, and a few hours later, they called with good news. "It's not the roof"
They announced that as if it was the grandest thing in the world that the roof was not leaking, and that it was perfectly A OK for water to be flowing through the car for any other reason.
Like, I could add a few goldfish and leave a happy customer. Really?

The explanation was complex, and I will probably need to explore it with another shop should the water return, but for now, the short story is that the drains were clogged underneath the doors and that a seamseal is clogging them along with pine straw and leaves, so they made the drain holes bigger and oh-by-the-way- you might want to keep a screwdriver handy so you can poke those holes open every little bit , few days or so, to keep the drains running. Get a car cover, don't park under or near trees, build a garage, have a nice day.

I asked them if they could wet vac the carpet and they said, " Well, the mats are still frozen to the carpet, so not until they thaw out. " I had a turkey thawing out at home and wondered how long it would take a mat to thaw out in a cold car. Let's see... 2 lb mat requires 3 to 4 hours if vehicle is parked in a sunny spot. This info according to the Joy of I mean the Joy of automobile care. ugh. Eventually, they did vac it out for me at no additional charge, too. How about that?

So as I write this on the last day of this eventful year, the mats remain dry, with no stirring or sloshing in the sides. Who knows what next year will bring, but i know one thing for sure- squatting down and poking a screwdriver through near-invisible holes under the doors of a car really works the quads.


End of year etceteras

I blinked. I tried so hard not to, but I did anyway and now we are hours away from starting a new year. again. I blinked.

As I get older, sometime time doesn't flow by fast enough, and then there are other times when I am sure time is stuck in a groove. a groove. stuck in a groove.

Work church has been very gracious with me this year. They are every year, and I am still stunned by their thoughtfulness. I tried to be a secretary when I was hired, but despite my attempts at making this a 9-5 job, I have grown to know and love many people who venture past my office. Both churches remind me of fractals. Home church is just a smaller version of work church. Work church is just a larger example of home church in many ways. The people are really the same. Both are full of faithful people who are searching.

The day after Christmas, my boss called me at home. He was apologetic but pleading at the same time. He and an associate had participated in a funeral which was now over, and they had left all of their belongings in the church which was locked.

I came over right away and when I drove up, I saw two pastors in black garb, one with a lovely white stole on, the other holding her bible. They were walking in the drizzle of the day across the church parking lot. It struck me funny that of all the days in the year, Christmas day was the day the Pastors got locked out of their own church. Doesn't that sound a bit odd to you, too? I let them in and came back home. I forgot where God keeps the hidey key.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

favorite terms

These are some of my favorite thoughts, and words that are worth googling when you need something different to occupy your time. They describe my life in many ways.

Ocum's razor ( simple works best)

Escape velocity( when you have to work harder than hard to break the cycle you are in)

Fractals of nature( facinating to see that parts of nature can be broken up into smaller bits that are the same as the bigger ones )

Tessalations ( pictures that fit together to create other pictures, Escher is famous for these)

Tom Sturgis

Some of you may know my office as the Church Secretary’s space, but by now, after these 4 years, most who visit the church on any kind of regular basis know it as Grand Central. Some days I host the pantry, some days my office serves as a conference room, but every day, I hope it provides warmth and respite for all who venture in.

I keep bubblegum in a bowl on the desk as a staple, and usually a jar of mixed nuts or some other concoction as well. Of late, I’ve added pretzels.

Years ago, I happened upon some pretzels that I liked especially well. Tom Sturgis.
There is a picture of a little cowboy on the front and I like that, too. I took them to the workshops I taught and shared them as energy snacks. They were well liked by all.

I bought them for my family, for friends and neighbors until one day.. there were no more to be found.
I was sad in my heart. I visited several other stores but no Tom.

I asked the store managers to restock and they all said the same thing. Tom had been ousted by Big Boy UTZ and SNYDER.

So, I wrote the company. I told them how I, my children, and friends had enjoyed them and the lengths we had gone to to find them.

A few weeks later, I received a call from Jean Sturgis. She asked if she could use parts of my letter in their marketing. I was flattered, sort of. It seemed as if she had missed the point. Where Are The Pretzels? Where, Jean? I told her she could use my words if she sent me some pretzels. She did. She also, corrected me on the comments I made about the cute cowboy. Seems Tom is a dutch boy. Sorry.....Soon, I received several tins of a variety of their goods. Heaven…..

Then, we consumed them and we were without Tom again.

At that time, I was traveling the state teaching workshops to teachers and administrators and I started asking people to keep their eyes open for Tom, especially people who were traveling to Pennsylvania. For a few years, I received random bags as people visited Tom’s Ovens.

I have been out of that world for several years now, and yet, I crave, still Tom’s little mini cheesers.

A dear friend mentioned he was going to visit Penn and thought I was joking when I asked him to look for Tom. How could I be so serious about something as mundane as pretzels? Well, said friend and his honey bunny did follow through and they did find Tom and they did not resist the urge to sample the little ones, and lo! They not only brought some back for me and the girls, but they kept some for their own pretzel loving selves. Such friends who trust and walk blindly in that are rare!!!

Eventually, I caved and ordered some from their gift catalog for the desk and have been pleasantly surprised and entertained to see people reach into the jar saying “ oh, pretzels….. sigh…..” At first crunch, however, there is a complete turnaround. So much so that we now keep them in the closet so they will last longer. Ordering via catalog isn't nearly as much fun as having random bags be delivered by friends, but when you need a crunchy pretzel, we'll take them however we can get them.

Over the break, I found that two staff members were traveling to Penn. I asked them to bring back Tom. They were good sports and did, in fact, look, but they were not near Tom’s bakery so they did the next best thing. They bought pretzels while they were in the pretzel state that were made in the towns they visited. I was touched. Thrilled. Grateful. It was a very kind gesture on both their parts to do this for us.

The products do not compare. I am taking them home to dip them in white chocolate so we can enjoy them as a treat. They really can’t compare to Tom.

Next time you come by, try one of Tom’s pretzels and tell me what you think.

church chick