Car repairs: Buy One, Get One Free

BECAUSE DECEMBER ISN'T CRAZY ENOUGH ALREADY, we thought it would be a kick to throw in major car repairs for both vehicles! You know, just for shits 'n' grins.

The first one, you may remember, went down week before last, when my charter bus Suburban's oil gauge malfunctioned, requiring the replacement of the entire instrument panel "cluster" (which, every time the repair guy said it, made me want peanut clusters or something sweet). My good friend E hooked me up with a good deal and a complementary loaner car, so it was about as pain free as any repair could be that costs the equivalent of 400 iTunes. But the repair was worth it, because not only can I be sure that my oil pressure isn't off the scale, I also know how fast I'm driving (as the speedometer, which broke two years ago, was part of the "cluster" that was replaced). No more driving by relative speed! Huzzah!

But that's not all! The week before that bit o' fun, Soup Husband Curt was involved in a domino-type fender bender, wherein a charter bus large SUV rammed into the car behind him, which then bumped into the back of the Jeep. He was okay, and the Jeep was driveable, but the back was visibly banged up and the exhaust was bent and hanging down. Fortunately, the driver at fault had insurance coverage, and the good people of USAA agreed to cover the full cost of repairs AND a rental car in the interim.

So, last week Curt took the Jeep to the very same autobody shop where we had taken it five years earlier, when it was stolen and driven around DC for almost a month before being recovered.  The damage then was way more significant, and the autobody shop made it look good as new.  In the ensuing five years, there have been bumps and nicks and scratches and some rust, and the tailgate rendered itself unopenable (shut up, I think it's a word) to all except Curt, who developed this Fonzie-like maneuver, wherein a well-placed thump to the lock would cause teenaged girls in poodle skirts to come running  the jukebox to play tunes from the 1950s the thing to magically open. He was truly the only one who could do it.

He brought it home last night and guess what? the bumper is as good as new, the exhaust is new and even I can open the tailgate, with one hand! My only regret is that we couldn't have somehow claimed the accident broke our air-conditioning system, which quit working right before last summer's record heat, causing many sweaty commutes for Soup Husband Curt (bless him).

The only cost to us was a little time off work for drop-off and pick-up. That's it! Thanks, USAA!

Considering the magnitude of repairs to both vehicles, I think that when the total cash outlay is prorated over both vehicles, the Soup Family can chalk this one up in the "win" column.


Assorted winter solstice musings

THE TITLE OF THIS POST is misleading, because what follows aren't necessarily musings about the winter solstice – that's just when these thoughts flitted through my brain.

But first, about the solstice, and the total lunar eclipse? I missed it, and apparently, that puts me in the minority of my Facebook friends, most of whom stayed up – or woke up – to see it.  AND photographed it and posted pictures. Whose idea was it, anyway, to schedule this thing after 1:00 a.m. the week before Christmas? Don't you know Mama's tired?  Anyway, according to Slate, the last time this happened was in the year 1638, and I slept through that one, too. I'll be long gone by the time it occurs again in 2094. But my offspring might still be here – at least I hope so – they'll be 98, 96 and 89. Doddering old geezers whose own offspring will sit patiently as they retell the same stories over and over and over again.

So while everyone else was gearing up to watch this once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, I was fighting the crowds on the notoriously overcrowded Rockville Pike to get to Trader Joe's and the Giant Food. Despite the fact that I do most of my Christmas shopping via mail order, there are always some things that just have to be purchased retail. And here is what I decided as I fought the hoards: Next year, I am just going to do all of my Christmas shopping during the last two weeks of August, when everyone leaves DC and I'll have the delightfully air-conditioned grocery stores all to myself. I have a giant chest freezer that could hold a dead body (two if they're small), and I'll just put everything in there till December.

After that, I zipped home, threw dinner together, and commenced to baking Sand Tarts. Because everyone knows, THERE IS NO CHRISTMAS WITHOUT SAND TARTS. Or, frankly, Butter Brickle. But I made that last weekend.  Anyway, I was rolling and cutting and eggwashing and sprinkling and baking and cooling and bossing around of the two kids who wanted to help, and do you know where Soup Husband Curt (bless him) was? Passed out on our bed. "Watching football." He hadn't slept well the night before, so naturally, he was tired. And I didn't wake him up, because that would have been mean. But I couldn't help wondering, four days before Christmas, how many moms were sleeping the sleep of the dead napping in the bedroom? I'm going to guess it's a number between negative one, and one. Just sayin'. We moms pretty much throw most of Christmas. And that's cool, we take it on gladly, I think, so that we can make years and years of precious family memories. But I bet I'm not the only one who (a) bites off more than she can chew, (b) gets mad at herself every single year for doing it, and (c) promises herself that next year, it won't be this way.

And THAT is why I was too tired to stay up for the last total lunar eclipse on the winter solstice for another 84 years.

One final thought and then I need to get ready to go to work. Yesterday afternoon, I was marching around downtown DC in the most ridiculous ensemble. I had on a gray wool jacket that wouldn't quite button, a gray scarf that kept blowing off, a green striped ski hat, brown fuzzy mittens, and black sunglasses. I was toting a briefcase and a too-large handbag, neither of which would stay put on my shoulders. I am sure I looked ten different kinds of ridiculous, walking to the Metro, but you know what? I decided I JUST. DIDN'T. CARE. So I'm wondering, does that make me a "woman of a certain age?"

It does, doesn't it? The not caring anymore? That's what I'm afraid of.


Kitchen forensics


SIX (six!) cracked eggshells, perched atop the already too-full countertop compost bin.

SLUG-TRAILS of egg-goo criscrossing the stovetop and adjacent counter.

ONE ketchup-covered plate, unrinsed, tossed into the sink.

The word "EGGS", scrawled onto the magnetic shopping list attached to the refrigerator door, in handwriting that surely belonged to Seth.

(This last is a good sign – it means I've got him trained to add items to the grocery list when we run out.)

The teenager did not have to tell me what he made himself for an after-school snack. The evidence in the kitchen spoke volumes on his behalf.

Photo borrowed from this site

My name is Meg. I live with one husband, three boys, and a fat dog who has yet to admit that he stole the half loaf of homemade bread off of the kitchen island and ate the entire thing on Saturday night.

Welcome to my world.