I've been having many troubles with my car of late- the Saturn with only 45,000 miles on it. Suddenly, everything is falling apart. And it makes no sense, since the warranty ran out on it years ago.
The latest is, a week ago, my starter began to fail. Sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn't. And so I now find my life circumscribed by a failed starter.
Initially I could push it with my dad in the car, and get it started. Then the snow came, and, worse yet, the ice. You can't get any traction on icy roads, neither human nor car traction. I actually had some work secretaring at a schol on Tuesday, and made sure to park at the top of a hill, so I could coast to a start.
Thankgsiving arrived, and we went off to my cousin Dave's place in Lodi. It's great to see family, especially family I've never known before. I have an aunt living in Verona, and a cousin in Lodi, and a first-cousin-once-removed who I met two years ago on Facebook, who happens to be the son of my cousin. (Weird how that works.) So it was off to their place for Thankgiving, a night of good discussion, great food, and weird games. I was happy to get to meet so many new family members, trying to trace how they were related. Happier still, to see my dad have the opportunity to connect more with family, and how much he enjoyed talking with people. (He's an extreme extrovert- 100% E on the Myers-Briggs Scale.)
And very exciting- my first deep-fried turkey, something I've been wanting to try for years. My first-cousin-once-removed Aaron made it, as he's a top chef at a high-end restaurant near our house. I particularly enjoyed his genetically-deformed turkey. They're grown without head, legs, or wings, with the dark meat on the inside, and look like giant maggots when crawling around the farm- but they are so juicy when on the plate.
Then it was time to leave- but the car wouldn't start. So a few guys came out to push the car backwards up the hill, and then down the road.
The next day began a long tradition of being pushed by other cars, as most days are far too icy. This means being pushed down one stretch by a truck, and not catching enough speed to pop the clutch, and having to be pushed down the next. With enough speed, we were able to head over to the Five Os, Oconomowoc, where my dad grew up, and the Spransys now live. I got to see Linnea of Kansas City again, have another great meal, and have the pleasure of my dad enjoying long, leisurly talks with Matt, something he hasn't had the chance to do in decades. And then it was off to be pushed. Perhaps best of all was something I've been looking forward to for months- introducing my dad's dog Sammy to the Spransys' bitch, Maya. (You may recognize her from her acting gig as the Polar Bear on Lost.) She's half again as big as Sammy, but I think he likes big women, and I think I saw a spark between them. I'm really pulling for those two!
Oconomowoc gets a lot more snow than the Madison area, so it was a number of guys pushing me around the corner and down a slope to get started.
We had a break on Saturday, and then it was off to Black River Falls, to meet my uncle and brother coming in from Minneapolis. Black River Falls is about half-way between us, and surprisingly, the car started right up without any pushing. We drove the two hours into ever-increasing snow, for a comfortable meal with my uncle and brother. (I had a stack of blueberry pancakes.) It was the first time I'd gotten to see my uncle since my journey out West, back in August of '01. While my dad and uncle talked for a bit, me and Kent went out and played in the snow. They have a very large orange moose there.
Again, the car started on his own, as if by miracle. We took US-12 all the way back, mistakingly thinking that it would be quicker than 94, through many small towns that grew progressively less interesting as darkness arrived. There was, however, a sojourn through The Dells, which bears further investigation in the future. (The Dells is Wisconsin's Disneyland, with a heavy focus on water, about an hour from where we live.)
My plan for the next week was to get the starter fixed. Shockingly, I got more work- two temp jobs. Sadly, this meant that I didn't have the time to work on the car. So every day, an incredibly kind and generous neighbor (who thankfully is already up) has taken his car and pushed me down the road. Each day, it seems he has to push me further. Friday, it was pushing me down the first stretch, then the second, then the third, then up the main driveway, and then out on the main road, before I could pop the clutch. I've been trying to pop it into second, to avoid the traction issues of wheels spinning in the opposite direction in first, but I think now I need to try for first, as second gear requires too much speed. And I found a Yellow Book near my current assignment, who were kind enough to allow me to park in their parking lot, which is at the top of two hills, allowing for an easy clutch popping to arrive home.
This, however, doesn't assist me when I stupidly stall at a red light, on the way to work. Friday morning I was stuck in traffic, in the middle lane, and had to get out and push my car over to the side. Another guy came up behind me and got out to help, and then a policecar arrived with flashing lights. The officers helped push me over into a gas station, but I didn't have a chance to tell them I wanted to pop the clutch as we went down the hill into the station. Happily, one of the attendants was kind enough to get in his truck and get me going after two pushes.
But I can't keep on relying on my neighbor Tim to get me going in the morning. I understand a friend, Mike Drahfel, has gone hunting for a starter, and, provided that's the problem (and not a solenoid), we will be one step closer to getting the car repaired, and moving forward.