Sunday, January 28, 2007

The week of constant disaster...

The week before we left for the San Juans, it felt like everything was falling apart around us. I forgot to mention this in my return-from-TNNA post, but the mayhem started as soon as I got home from San Diego. I arrived back in Portland at around 11 pm and called Bill, who was going to come pick me up at the airport. I'm waiting for my suitcase at baggage claim and get a call - the car stalled about ten blocks from home, so could I get a cab and come pick HIM up.

Okay, just as an aside, because this is too funny, the cat is obsessed with licking me while I type on my laptop. It drives me crazy (mainly because she has a very sharp tongue and feels like she's licking my skin right off), so I'll repeatedly put her on the floor and say "no licking, Kika!" But she doesn't learn very quickly, so she'll hop right back up and try it again. After being tossed down several times (I get more and more irritated and so begin to toss her further and further each time she gets up here), she'll start to try to creep over to my arm so I won't notice her coming in to lick me. She'll try to sidle in from different directions, making herself as flat as possible, acting very casual about the whole thing until she gets close enough to make contact (at which point all hell breaks loose - she gets all excited and I get ready to throw her down again). It's hilarious.

So back to the car. Those of you who've been reading for awhile know that we have a VW Jetta TDI that we run on biodiesel. Biodiesel tends to freeze up solid at cold temperatures, and they recommend mixing in about 60% regular diesel at temps below 40 degrees. It has been under 40 several mornings this winter, and since the car is usually in the driveway during the coldest part of the day, we've just thought "Oh, well if the car doesn't start because it's too cold, I'll just take the van". It has started a little rough a few mornings but has been fine after that.

Well, combine a week of temps in the 30s with an entire weekend of the car not being driven, and apparently it was all too much for it. As soon as the gas in the engine was burned and the car tried to get more via the fuel line, everything ground to a halt. Whoopsie! We had to wait five days for the weather to warm up enough for the car to start again. I kept picturing the gas tank filled with solid white stuff like you find in the frying pan after the bacon grease cools down. First lesson learned from the week of disaster - biodiesel really does freeze when it gets chilly! If it's below freezing and you need to pick your wife up at the airport late at night, take the van.

Next in our laundry list of disasters was the furnace that refused to work. We had new windows installed in our kitchen and my office the Friday before we left. We also had a blower door test done, which is where they set up a giant fan in a frame in the front door and blow air out of the house to determine where the leaks are. Between the blower and the open windows, it got pretty chilly in the house. When Bill got home from work, we realized it was still chilly. The furnace had conked out. We called the emergency furnace service and, since Friday was also Bill's birthday and we were heading to my in-laws for his birthday dinner, we asked the guy to put us on his list for the following morning. Sydney spent the night at her Grammy's, and Bill, Owen & I snuggled together in our bedroom with a space heater on high. It was sort of cozy, actually.

The next morning, we were frantically getting ready to leave (we needed to make sure we left enough time to catch the ferry to the island, and we didn't particularly want to take the one at 8 pm), but the furnace guy, who said he'd come before noon, didn't show up until well after our scheduled departure time. We left my father-in-law in charge of dealing with the furnace, and hit the road. We got a call later that afternoon to tell us what the problem was - the filters needed to be cleaned. Yes, apparently cleaning filters isn't optional. The furnace will actually overheat and shut down if the filters get too dirty. Go figure! The furnace guy charged us $225 to clean the filters just enough so the furnace would work again. Bill was happy that it was his dad talking to the furnace guy instead of him, since he would've been just a little bit embarrased to admit his ignorance in the field of furnace filter cleanliness. Lesson #2: Cleaning furnace filters on a regular basis is a necessity for furnace operation, not just a suggestion.

Our Friday fun didn't stop there. We ordered new countertops before the end of last year so we could get a nice 10% discount. We were supposed to pick them up within 7 days of their arrival in the warehouse, but of course we can't do anything on time so on Friday (the 8th day), we headed over to pick them up in our van. We knew they were going to be a little bit long (10' to be exact), but we figured we could put them up on their side and slide them in between all the seats. However, we didn't take into account the fact that each slab weighs around 200 lbs and we could possibly damage the counters, our van or ourselves by trying to transport them like that.

Yesterday, Bill spent the better part of our first day home renting a U-Haul van and driving countertops around. The van was supposedly 11' long in the cargo area, but when he actually arrived to pick it up, it was only 9'. He ended up leaving a bit of slab hanging out the back and tried not to go over any big bumps. The counters seem to have survived, and I got dinner from The Outback as a reward for being alone with the kids all day on a Saturday. Lesson #3: Don't expect to pick up 200 lb, 10-ft long slabs of countertop in your minivan (and when you rent a van to pick them up with, make sure it's actually long enough).

The final malfunction of the week wasn't discovered until we got home Friday night and discovered that we didn't have a drop of hot water. We were about to call the emergency service people - again - when it occured to us that maybe the blower door test had blown the pilot light out. Bill totally redeemed himself for that filter thing by rolling up his sleeves and figuring out how to get the pilot light relit. He is actually quite handy when given the chance. Procrastination is more his problem than ineptness. Lesson #4: Large amounts of air forced through your house by a giant fan may indeed cause a pilot light or two to go out.

I am hoping that we've run through our bad karma for the moment and that things will settle down for awhile. And now I've just written another long post with no pictures. To make it up to you, here are a couple shots of the kiddos at Ikea (we stopped there on our way home on Friday since there isn't yet one in Portland - it's opening next summer, and I am counting the days!).

Owen was a total menace all over the store with this little shopping cart. It took me way to long to figure out that I could just hold onto that pole with the little flag on top in order to keep him somewhat under control.

No trip to Ikea is complete without 50 cent hot dogs from the snack bar. Like that mustard mustache on Owen? It was great until he insisted on sharing my frozen yogurt cone - he'd take bites out of it by burying his face in it and leaving little mustard spots all over the top. Vanilla yogurt with mustard isn't all that appetizing if you're not two.

Sydney had to have her own cone, since she's a big girl. She's entered the stage of posing for pictures. When I was getting ready to take this one, she totally struck a pose and then insisted on looking at it afterwards and giggling hysterically.

I'm not sure she could be much cuter!


Blogger msubulldog said...

Oh, lordy, when it rains it pours, huh? Yikes. Hope this week will give y'all a break! You definitely deserve it. (and hurrah to Bill for figuring out the pilot light thing!)

5:23 PM  
Blogger Shelley said...

Glad everything worked out in the end. Cute pics of the kids...and you're right, the whole vanilla yogurt/mustard combination doesn't sound very appetizing....eewwww!

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are the kind of weeks that you MUST laugh at, or end up sobbing in the corner somewhere! :O)
Glad to see you guys made your way through it.
Expect a FedEx delivery sometime this week, (sorry i'm a bit slow...)
Sp9 pal

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

omg! what a week! jeeeez! glad you, bill, and the kiddies made it through safely!
on another note: ikea??? in portland??? summer???
i'll have to check my schedule. heh.
yes, the whitby socks go lightning fast (when i don't get distracted, go figure). as much as i do think a solid would've worked better to show off the design, i think they look okay with a little color variation. i'll definitely be making another pair of that pattern when i'm done going through some of the other patterns. yes.
i'm so excited about the KOTR book! every single page i look at (well, almost), i see something i want to make. now, it's just a matter of freeing up some needles. how typical of me.
your kids are growing up so fast! i must concur on the ice cream / mustard combination. i was eating ice cream at the movies and the bf couldn't finish his hotdog so he gave me the last bite. yeah, not so good, that combination. ugh.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, what a list of things to go wrong. And no I don't think your kids could possibly be any cuter than in those pics.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm glad you made it through!

9:15 PM  

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