Just Call Me “MacGyver”

So, on this road trip my sister and I recently took, we took my hubby’s car, which is a Rav-4. The Rav used to be my car, until we got the Mom-van; nowadays, I don’t actually drive the Rav much, because I love my van and it loves me.  But, although the Mom-van is designed for road trips, it doesn’t really make sense for just two people, so the Rav (or, Dad-mobile) became our valiant steed.

My key to the Dad-mobile has recently started doing this weird thing, where the clicky-part of the key doesn’t work and also it sometimes comes apart when I turn the key in the ignition. Usually, it just pops right back together and we get on with life. During this short trip, however, it started coming apart every time I used it…and it became harder to put back together. Annoying.

On our way home, about 200 miles from our driveway and desperately ready to be done with this emotionally and physically exhausting trip, we made what we thought would be our last stop – a potty break at a rest stop, literally in the middle of nowhere. I pulled the key out of the ignition and it broke in my hand. The clicky-part of the key not only popped apart; a piece of it broke off and the key fell out. Unfortunately, the clicky-part is kind of vital in starting the car – I tried to just use the key part, and it wouldn’t turn.

So, there we were, somewhere on I-80 and surrounded by truckers and wide open spaces, at 7am, three hours from home, having driven all night and in need of a hairbrush (ew, and toothpaste), with a broken key that wouldn’t start the car unless it was encased in its clicky-thing. What’s a girl to do?

She MacGyvers the heck outta that thing, that’s what.

Using a rubber band and a kiddie bandage we found in the console, I put the case back together and managed to get the car started.

broken key

“No more stopping,” I told my sister.

“Uh…don’t we need gas?” she asked.

Crap.

Advertisements

The Never-ending Story: Road Work on I-80

My sister and I recently took a quick road trip to Iowa. From Colorado, it’s around 12 hours one-way, and because I’m a weirdo Night Owl, I decided we should drive overnight. Nothing adds excitement and an element of danger to an 800-mile drive like doing it in the middle of the night. Oh, yeah – and we started the trip in a snowstorm. (Yes, it was snowing in May. This is Colorado, people.) Once we crossed into Nebraska, however, the driving snow and gale-force winds had mostly stopped.

By night is now my favorite way to drive through Nebraska – when you can’t see the endless stretches of fields, it’s actually quite pleasant. Hardly anyone on the road, although you do have to pay more attention to those few passing cars and trucks, since the drivers (like you) are probably feeling a bit sleepy. We only had one near-miss, when the trucker in front of us was drifting lazily across the white lines. Silver lining of near-death experiences: the adrenaline burst helps keep you awake.

Here’s the thing about driving through Nebraska on I-80 – the road construction never ends. Our parents moved from Iowa to Colorado in the early ‘80s, and we’ve made the trek across Nebraska at least 30 times over the ensuing years; as long as I can remember, we’ve encountered some form of road work every time. I feel like it’s the same road work – widening some portion of the road that never ends up being wider, endless stretches of orange cones that must be permanently affixed to the concrete by now, and never a worker in sight.

on the road
No, this is not my photo – I drove during the night, remember? (However, notice the orange construction cones…) photo credit: Interstate 80 – Nebraska via photopin (license)

They bumped the speed limit to 75mph (finally), but thanks to the road work, you tend to go 65-to-55-to-45-to-snail’s-pace, and all you want to do is drive 80 and get it over with. By the time we reached Iowa, I had to use a crowbar to uncurl my fingers from around the steering wheel and there was a sort of crazed gleam in my eyes. Is it normal to burst into tears when crossing state lines? Asking for a friend.

Of course, I know people live in Nebraska, so I don’t want them to get the wrong idea about my feelings toward their beloved homeland. I’m sure it’s filled with perfectly nice people, and I do love corn. And really, the stretches of green are quite a sight for eyes used to seeing a lot of dry, brown fields (at least, by the time August rolls around). I don’t have anything against Nebraska…I’m just wondering when I’ll be able to drive through it without wanting to bang my head against the steering wheel. Is it a 40-year project? Then, 2020 can’t come soon enough.

Guess Who’s Back?

I’m back, y’all.

Oh, so many things have happened since I last updated this blog. I have to be honest – because that’s just how this whole “putting your innermost thoughts online for strangers to read” thing works – while I’ve mentally composed a bunch of posts over the past year, I haven’t had the energy to actually write them down and post them. It’s not because I don’t love y’all; I just haven’t had my blogging mojo recharged in awhile.

But then, something terrible happened. Yes, friends, this blog post is going to be a little more serious than usual. Please bear with me as I get this off my heart, and I promise, I’ll get back to posting silly, sarcastic words soon (I’ve already got a lighthearted piece in the hopper). Yes, something terrible happened – my aunt died. My mom’s youngest sibling – and my godmother – is gone. And suddenly, I felt the urge to write – I needed to organize my thoughts and feelings, and to spew them all out onto the page. Since this is the only personal blog I’m maintaining (using that term very, very loosely) right now, this is where all the words are going.

flower
photo credit: Yellow Rose via photopin (license)

So, my aunt died. She was sick, but the end still came quickly and it was still a shock, mostly because she’d fought for so long. Since there are three states between us – which equates a 12-hour drive – I hadn’t seen her since August 2014; she didn’t seem too bad then. Her health peaked and valleyed for months (years, really), then took a total nosedive last week. When I got the call from my mom, my heart literally stopped beating for a few seconds and my brain shut off. Have you ever had that happen? It’s the strangest feeling – like a sympathy yawn (when you see someone yawn and you start to yawn), only in this case, I think my body was literally experiencing a sympathy death. But my heart started beating again, and my brain kicked back into gear, and I immediately began remembering flashes of my time with my aunt over the years.

By the way, her name was Elizabeth. Like I said, she was my godmother, and when I was a kid, I idolized her. She wasn’t actually that much older than me – since she was the youngest of nine and my mom is the middle of the birth order, she was about 17 when I was born. I remember being young and visiting my parents’ families in Iowa every summer; Elizabeth always made sure we had a little time, just the two of us, to do something fun. I have vivid memories of being around five or so, sitting on the seat of her old pickup while she drove us to the convenience store and bought us slushes, and thinking she was just so cool. The summer after first grade, she spent an entire afternoon with me, working on bolstering my math skills, which had suffered after a school year with a math teacher who largely ignored me. I remember going through flash cards and workbooks, Elizabeth explaining concepts to me and rewarding my correct answers with chocolate chips.

As I got older, she would send me brand-name clothes for the new school year – anyone remember Z Cavariccis? – wanting to make sure I felt like one of the cool kids. She sent me a down comforter when I had surgery as a teen, telling me that she’d used one after her hip replacement because it helped keep her warm without adding weight to her already-painful hip. She surprised me with a visit to Colorado, right after my first baby was born. She was so excited to meet him. She brought him gifts, including a couple of soft blankets that we used throughout the toddler stage, then put in the car to be used for emergencies (or last-minute picnics). She took me shopping for new clothes, because I was in that weird stage where none of my maternity clothes or pre-pregnancy clothes fit. It was never about the gifts themselves; it really was about the thought behind them – she always had a reason for giving whatever she gave.

I always felt a little cheated, because my cousins were so much closer to her, both in proximity and relationally. I feel like I didn’t get a chance to really get to know her; unfortunately, I think that’s just how things are when you’re separated by 800+ miles. I am grateful to have been able to make the trip back for her funeral. It was sad, and difficult, to see her body – she looked nothing like herself, which made it hard to believe she was really gone. One of my cousins said, “It doesn’t look like her. It’s distracting.” She was right; it was distracting. I honestly kept waiting for Elizabeth to show up, camera in hand, snapping pictures of the kids running around, the flowers, the family. In thinking about it, it occurred to me that the reason her body didn’t look like the Elizabeth I remember is because I didn’t realize how much someone’s personality affects how that person looks – her personality radiated through her face, and when that was gone, she looked a stranger.

On our way home from the funeral, while driving in the middle of the night, my sister and I were not in agreement as to the temperature in the car. She was hot and I was cold; since she was driving, cool air it was. We stopped for gas, and I remembered that we had some blankets stashed in the back for emergencies. As I tucked them around me, and began thawing out, it hit me – these were the blankets Elizabeth had given us. I’m telling you – every gift had a purpose.

The hole she leaves in the family is a big one. Our visits will be tinged with that loss, probably forever – I’ll always be waiting for her to show up to the family gathering, ready to tell me about the animals that visited her place, and to show me pictures of an interesting bird she saw in one of her many feeders. One of the saddest realizations that comes with losing someone is that you can’t do anything about it. Life is about change, and loss is part of that change. The comfort for our family is that someone who never complained about what she suffered is now free from that pain and suffering. She lived well, loved many, and was very much loved in return.

Mother’s Day Gifting, Wal-Mart Style

 

Nothing says, “Hey, Mom – you look old and tired,” quite like this:

Mother's Day, Wal-Mart Style

 

I was (unhappily) at a Wal-Mart the other day, and happened upon this display of “gifts” with which to “Celebrate Mom”.

First of all, why are you shopping for gifts for Mom at Wal-Mart? I guarantee you, she’d rather have a gift card to Starbucks or an inexpensive mani/pedi than anything you’ll find here.  Secondly, if you buy the mom in your life an Olay anti-aging starter pack, you may as well tell her she looks old, wrinkly, and tired. Let’s be honest – the chances are pretty good that the reason Mom looks old, wrinkly, and tired are directly related to you. Do you really want to open up THAT can of worms?

Look, for $34, you could get Mom something that says, “I want you to feel cared for, since you’re always caring for others.” A decent manicure or pedicure runs around that price; often, you can find spa deals on Living Social, Amazon Deals, and Deal Chicken that mean you can give Mom an actual massage or facial without breaking the bank. Yes, I get that giving her a facial seems like you’re sending the same message as the anti-aging cream – don’t worry, you’re not. (The difference is the pampering experience of a facial.)

Bottom line: if you’re shopping for gifts for the mom(s) in your life…maybe bypass this display. Unless you want wrath and hormonal outrage levied upon you.

 

Wind Blows.

I wish it was possible to strangle the wind. Because right now, I’d do just about anything to make. It. Stop.

On a related note, this week, I learned that I’m allergic to a bunch of stuff, including but not limited to molds, trees, cats, and grasses. So…basically, everything that’s outside.

  1. I knew outside was terrible. This is exactly why I am an indoor cat.
  2. Wait, I guess I’m allergic to cats.
  3. I stand by point #1.

The wind here is crazy, albeit not tornado or scary storm-crazy (please pray for those affected by the terrible storms this week, as reported by weather.com). Still, the wind has been strong enough to rattle windows, cancel outdoor activities, and stir up everything outside that comes in through my nasal passages and assaults my brain.

Excruciating headaches and face pain aside, I know the wind has a purpose, especially during springtime. The wind blows seeds and pollen around, allowing trees and plants to propagate, making spring and summer a beautiful wonderland. Wind does all kinds of things, some of which are probably good. But I’m not sure the excessively high speeds are necessary.

Much like a douche bag trying to convince others he’s cool by revving his car and driving super-fast, the gusty wind is annoying and trying too hard. We get it, Wind – you’re a big shot. Blowing around, knocking over trash cans, scattering the mulch we laid this weekend to all the corners of the earth outside our yard. We’re sooo impressed.

Now, could you knock it the heck off? It feels like my brain is trying to escape from my head through my face.

Chickens Are Cute Little A**holes

**Two blog posts today, because I’ve missed a bunch. Enjoy.**

The little chickies have been growing like crazy-pants. I swear, they’re visibly larger every day. We did a fun Easter photo shoot with our bunny-mommy friend:

easterBunnyChicks

Seriously. So cute.

But I learned something about chickens this week: they’re a-holes.

I busted four of the chicks literally pecking the tail feathers off Chick #5. They drew blood. There they were, four sweet, fluffy little chickens with bloodied beaks, and one with half her tail feathers ripped out and blood gushing from her ouchy butt.

henpeckedInABox

What bitches.

Apparently, this type of behavior is typical for chickens. A friend said she calls her bullying chickens “Mean Girls”, after the movie. I watched our chicks for a few days, and have discovered the leader of our Mean Girls is one of our still-yellow Buff Orpingtons. Bitchy, bully, blonde…I’ve nicknamed her “Regina George”.

We got the poor, henpecked victim sorted out, and they all seem to be getting along now. I still love them, but I stay vigilant for signs of Mean Girls behavior.

‘Cause chickens are a-holes.

ouchyButt

5 Things I Think While Driving

I tend to be a little…um…sassy…when I drive.  I know; big surprise, right? My sassiness level is directly related to the number of dum-dums inflicting their driving ineptitude on the non-dummy drivers.

chart

Particularly while driving on the Interstate (where I live, we just say “the Interstate” – everyone knows which Interstate, because it’s the only one in our area), I find myself wondering how in the world all of these people ended up driving alongside me. Since I’ve had to drive up and down the Interstate a lot lately, I thought it might be fun to share some of the things I think (or say…or shout) while driving.

1. “Seriously, why are we stopping?”

We’ve all been there – cruising along, going the speed limit, loving life. Suddenly, inexplicably, traffic comes to a grinding halt (or near-halt). As far as the eye can see, there’s no reason for the stoppage – no accident, no police officers, no raccoon racing across the road.

Creeping along, eyes peeled for the cause of speedlimitus interruptus, the confusion and anger grow. Then, just as inexplicably, traffic picks back up and everyone is speeding along their merry old way. What?!

2. “Hey, person driving in front of me – the left lane is for people who go the speed limit.

I will never understand why someone who is uncomfortable with driving 75 mph would want to stay in the “go fast” lane, especially with lines of cars behind, riding bumpers and exhibiting signs of road rage.

Drivers who elect to drive 20 mph below the magic number should be courteous (and law-abiding), and move it on over to the right with the rest of the people who are afraid to drive fast.

3. “Speaking of the left lane – technically, it’s supposed to be used for passing slow drivers.”

Hard to do when the slow drivers are driving in the passing lane.

See #2.

4. “Dude! I’m going 5 over the speed limit – I know I’m purty, but quit kissin’ my bumper.”

The opposite of the ‘fraidy-cat drivers is the “Me drive fast” drivers. You know – the people (usually with a ridiculously over-sized or tricked out ride) who feel going 75 or 80 mph isn’t quite fast enough. They have cool cars! They want to drive them fast! By driving the speed limit(ish), you’re preventing them from following their dreams!

I hate those guys.

5. “Thanks for speeding up to pass me, only to slow back down.”

Seriously? Getting one car ahead is that big a deal? Don’t pedal-to-the-metal, whip in front of me, then hit the brakes. We’re all in the same boat – getting in front of me won’t change the fact that bad drivers are in front of us. Rude.

Bonus, for the people who live along the Front Range (this is unlikely to make any sense to those of you who live elsewhere):

Any CDOT decision-maker who doesn’t think NoCO needs a third lane on the Interstate should be forced to drive said two-lane stretch, repeatedly and during all times of the day/night/week, until they feel our pain and give us the third lane we so desperately need.

So, anyone else have anything they find themselves thinking/saying consistently while driving? I’d hate to think I’m the only road-rager out there…