This weekend, I got to meet Erin's friends, and she some of mine. It was also a weekend of car troubles. There was a game night of Carcasszone with Erin's friends, who are decidedly pleasant, and meeting others for ice cream at a dairy plant on the UW campus. (Actually, her friends are really rather wicked cool.) Erin came out to my church for service (and was of course roundly appreciated), and we had plans to get in a last ski of the season- she even brought her skis with her from Iowa- but as you can see, in a matter of hours the 5" of snow had entirely melted. It appears there will be no Swedish Snowdragon this year.
There was a play, The Birds That Are Your Hands. It meant well. It had great ideas. Intriguing ideas. The writer had compared the wall being built around the West Bank to the wall we are building between the US and Mexico- something I have commented on in the past here. I had never before considered how there were similarities in the Palestinian people having been in their land for years and the Israelis invading and claiming that the Palestinians were interlopers, and the Mexicans having lived in the Southeast for centuries, until we took their land in the Mexican-American War, now claiming anyone who comes there is an "illegal alien".
The play- a series of propaganda vignettes more than any concerted storyline- took place in a small community three-quarter round theatre, with minimalist set. We were both particularly moved by one true story, where a woman lost her baby at an Israeli checkpoint because the soldiers wouldn't let her go forward, though her husband begged and pleaded.
It was fairly well written. It wasn't just a good premise. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the directing and acting. I kept on thinking, "I could do a better acting job there." "I could direct that bit better." With a couple notable exceptions, nearly every actor was wooden. The director evidently felt that shouting and "running amok" replaced disciplined emotional expression. The result was not in-your-face so much as instigating boredom. The director felt that shock value (like stripping a guy down to his speedos or simulating sexual assault) was better than honestly dealing with issues in an intelligent and imaginative manner. We found we couldn't take much more, and left at the intermission.
But most of this weekend has been taken up with car troubles. Saturday morning my car sputtered to a halt, purely because of carelessness. I'd run out of gas. I began the 10 minute walk to the gas station, ordinarily nothing of significance, but that last snow storm of the season was about to begin, and it was cold. Thankfully a minivan pulled up and offered me a ride to the gas station, and then they waited for me, and drove me back to the car!
Having filled up, I thought my troubles were over. It was not to be. For the past couple weeks there has been a squeak when cold and a rattle when warm, coming from under the hood on the passenger side. It sounded like I needed to replace a belt. Then began a death rattle, at first when I turned, and then also when I accelerated, and finally nearly continuously. We stopped at Sears Automotive, and they took a look, and the prognosis is not good. They asked if someone had replaced the alternator. (Someone had- a shadetree mechanic back in October.) Turns out that guy had not put a bolt on right, and it had hit other things in the engine, rubbed up against the drive train, and destroyed the entire engine. Then I asked if the accident two months ago could possibly have caused this, and Sears said it was 95% certain that it did- but they couldn't say for sure as they hadn't seen what the car was like before the body shop worked on it. (I don't think "95% certainty" means what they think it means.) They recommended it be towed home.
This seemed to both of us to be overkill, so we headed to a delightful Moroccan restaurant, the only one in town, Casbah. In warm weather, they have shisha out front, which is something I definitely miss. There are three levels to the Casbah. The lower level is on the left, and the most authentically Moroccan, our natural destination. You can recline on benches with pillows, in the midst of what feels like a dungeon- but in a good way. While the waitresses weren't aware of Arabic or many Moroccan customs, they were certainly very hospitable, and, may I say, the food is to die for. It's reasonably priced by Moroccan-American standards, and the tajine dajej- chicken solid soup- was just like mom used to make it, if my mother were Moroccan. It was just as I remembered it when I lived there. The tea actually tasted like mint tea with gunpowder, and the qisqisu- cous cous- was far better than the ordinary box variety we get here in the States.
Then we headed out to the car. It was now dark, and I noticed immediately that the window was slowing down. The windshield wipers were sluggish, and it seemed there was little light coming out of the headlights. I've been through this before. Sure enough, as soon as we got to our destination for the gaming night, when I turned the car off and tried to restart it, nothing. The alternator had failed, just as Sears had predicted.
I had to get the car towed back with my last AAA tow, and then Erin picked me up for service and the play on Sunday. Tonight I'm trickle charging the car up, and hoping, and praying, that there will be enough juice to get me to the repair shop. But I'm not optimistic. I'll need the body shop to come over and take a look at it too, to determine if the accident caused this problem. Of course, I gave the insurance company of the instigator of the accident a heads up, that there might be further developments, but probably Sears was incorrect, just to be polite. Of course, the insurance rep, Denis of Chuck Rafferty Insurance, called me back to say that he would be out of town again for the week, and I couldn't reach him until the end of the week, but he was going to respectively decline my request to pursue the insurance matter further. Thus I had to call and leave him a message reminding him that I wasn't saying there was a problem, but only being polite in apprising him of the situation; that I had stated to him earlier that I thought Sears had made a mistake; and that this wasn't a matter of what he might feel was good for his client or not, but a simple matter of fact. If the experts (car repairmen) determined the accident caused it, then his client was at fault; if the experts felt the accident didn't cause it, then his client was off the hook. This is what I've been dealing with with this insurance company.
It has thus been a bad weekend for cars. But far outweighed by a delightful weekend in terms of people, and thoughts, and new things beginning.