Just popping in to give the latest news

I’ve been meaning to get on here and do an update for the last several months, but I’ve had trouble getting my words together. Things have been going really well, I’m just haven’t felt like writing.

But the last couple weeks have been challenging, so I figured I’d come in and share. Because misery loves company, you know?

And as I write that, I realize that this isn’t nearly so challenging as what’s happening with Luke and Krista right now and I feel really badly about that and I wish there was something I could do to help there. But until I can figure out what to do there, this is what’s been happening here.

The morning of September 14th, our little blue Nissan Versa started making a weird noise. It sounded like a weed-whacker. Really annoying BbbbzzzzzzZZZZzzzz noise. I drove it to work and mentioned it to one of my coworkers, and he suggested it was the steering fluid. We took it to the mechanic’s on Tuesday and they didn’t hear the noise — it stopped making it by the time we got it to them. But they did get a weird error from the computer. They asked that we bring it back another day when they’d have more time — they diagnostics report they got was 12 pages long. Also, we have electric steering, so it’s not the steering fluid pump.

So we brought it back Thursday night so they could have it all day Friday. It was being more troublesome now — it had trouble climbing up the slight hill to go over the interstate. The engine stuttered and the speedometer stopped working. We stopped, turned the car off and on and the speedometer came back on again, but it definitely was not accelerating properly.

The following morning, our mechanic called to tell us that there was a sensor failing, which they needed to order from the dealer and get shipped in. They still hadn’t heard the sound, but they figured they’d replace the sensor and see if it still being weird. The sensor was something that talked between the computer brain of the car and the transmission, so hopefully fixing that would fix the weird acceleration problems.

If you recall, by the way, we are a one-car household. We sold the second car ages ago and we’ve only had this one. Fortunately, we’ve been car-sitting for Jessi’s car while she’s doing her internship in NYC, and we’ve been driving that around.

Friday, by the way, and this will come up again later, I complained to Justin that my ear was hurting a little. I figured it was nothing, just annoying, and that it would go away soon.

Saturday, the sensor arrived, they plugged it in, and then they finally heard the noise. And as far as they could tell, it was something inside the transmission. And they do not do transmissions.

You know, in my limited experience with cars, it seems like we have two basic groups of  car mechanics: those who work on transmissions and those who do not. It’s the only one huge difference I’ve found.

So we thanked them for the work that they were able to do and drove the car home. Monday I went to work and did an impromptu survey asking my coworkers if they knew any reliable transmission mechanics. I came up with 5 different places to call and passed them along to Justin. He called them to find out if any of them would look at the car and give us a quote on what it would cost to get the transmission repaired.

He called all five of them and all five of them said that the Nissan Versa has a CVT transmission — a continual variable transmission, I think. And they do not repair those. None of them. But the last one said that he’d look at it to confirm that it really is the transmission.

We drove it to their garage at the end of the day Tuesday so they could have it first thing on Wednesday. All day Wednesday, they didn’t call. We weren’t feeling very good about things. We looked up the Kelly Blue Book value of our car and determined that if the work was anything more than $1200, it wouldn’t be worth the money.

Also, my ear still hurt.

Thursday morning, they called and confirmed that yes, the transmission is the problem.

I just want to break for a moment and say that this car has 122,000 miles on it. We’ve taken good care of it. Done proper maintenance to it. Never been really hard on it. We got it new, as  I’m sure you recall, back in 2008 when my Buick died. Also of transmission failure. WHAT AM I DOING WRONG TO THESE CARS?

The mechanic’s garage was so wonderful to even call and see if we’d purchased an extended warranty on the car when we bought it. We did! Guess when it expired? 120,000 miles.

They gave us a quote on what it would cost to replace the transmission, because that’s apparently all you can do when the CVT fails. You either replace the whole transmission or replace the whole car. There is no other option, apparently. The quote they gave us was $3700.

So we said no, thank you for checking into it for us, we’ll come back on Friday and pick up the car.

And Justin told me to accept that my German tank of an immune system was not going to clear this up and to just call the doctor and get an appointment for whatever is wrong with my ear. Which I did.

And that brings us up to today. We went to the garage to pick up the car after I got off work. Justin tried to drive it away, got as far as the stop light down the street and turned back around because the car would not get out of the lowest gear (or whatever our silly transmission has) and would not go more than 4 miles an hour, even with the pedal all the way down. Whatever ails our little Baby Blue had well and truly taken effect and we were not going to get her back home. He drove it back to the mechanic’s, who said that they’d let us park it in the back of the lot and leave the keys with them, so whenever we could find a way to get it moved, we wouldn’t have to drive out there.

And then we drove to my doctor’s appointment and was told I have a minor middle ear infection, to be treated with amoxicillin and flonase. The most wonderful part of that story is that it only cost $2.18 to get my prescriptions filled.

The not so wonderful part is that I’ve probably seen the very last of my blue Versa and I loved that car. It was a great car. I learned a lot of things about how NOT to buy a car. And it’s seen me through some really wonderful times. And I really wish we didn’t still owe like $1100 for the new tires we put on it back in June and the $200 we paid for the new sensor last week and the oil change and the other work we’ve had done. But at least we’re paying that off on a card with 0% interest and should have that whole card done shortly.

THAT actually, is the annoying thing — we were right on track to have all the credit cards paid off by Christmas. And the last of the current school debt paid by March  or April. And then we would be completely debt free. And we’re not looking forward to needing to pay a car payment. For now, we’re good using Jessi’s car — through we are going to get it an oil change and maybe some other maintenance since we’re going to be driving it so much more than expected. And we don’t really know when she’s coming back to town, so we might be able to use her car for a while yet.

And we’re not totally up a creek. We have a great option on the table that we’re considering and I’ve been asked not to talk about. But it might be our solution. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more about that soon.

I was really hoping that we’d be able to trade in the Versa and get some money there, but I don’t think we’re going to get much for a car that doesn’t run.

Anyway, other than that, things here are fine. My ear infection should be cleared up in a couple days, the doc said. Work is going fine. Being just the two of us in the house is STILL not getting old. It’s wonderful. It’s so clean.

And I think I’m going to go back to binge watching NCIS.

Quarterly update (part 3) — talking about the table and random other stuff

Okay, so what else has been going on?

  • Happy belated birthday to Amy, Mae, Tim, and Ethan! And happy birthday today to Isaac! We really had intended to send cards or something but my life is apparently insane and I can’t get anything done.
  • Congratulations to Dalton on those first steps! So exciting!
  • I’ve taken two classes now on how to use MS Access. I’m trying to learn a new way to keep track of all the information I manage at work and it’s being troublesome. It’s a whole new way of thinking about what I’m doing. I’m sure it’ll work out in the end, but it’s making me go around in circles while I try to figure it out.
  • I’ve donated platelets several times now. The last time went without a hitch and didn’t have any low-pressure problems. The time prior to that, however, was a failure because the pressure was so low I couldn’t even manage to get blood up to the machine to start.
  • On our way back from an appointment for Kay in Atlanta back in May, we stopped to help a woman and her daughter who were stuck on the side of the road with a shredded tire. We learned that we need to keep a better flashlight in the car, that we need a higher jack if we’re going to be able to help people who’ve lost their jack, and that we’d need a better tire iron to get those lug nuts off if they’ve lost that piece of equipment, too. Fortunately, a Georgia State Patrol trooper stopped and he had all those things and was able to get the women back on the road again. But we were able to help them stay calm and we learned some valuable lessons for ourselves in the process. One of these days, we’ll figure out which jack to pick up — hopefully before we actually need it again.
  • When Mom and Dad were here, the project that we decided to work on was a skinny little table/shelf that goes behind the sofa and has outlets on it, making it easy to access an outlet, even though the sofa is blocking that whole wall. I got the idea from a blog online that I’m too lazy right now to go find. And we kind of adjusted the idea as we went anyway. When they were here, Dad showed Justin how to run the electric by taking an extension cord and splicing in an outlet. And we cut the wood and stained it. After they left, I sanded the wood and Justin polyurethane it a couple times to give it a nice sheen. I don’t have any in-progress photos and the pictures I have of it in place aren’t super, either. But this is what I’ve got.
Behold! Our table shelf thing.
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Behold! Our table shelf thing.

It’s just a little wider than the outlets, of which we’ve got two. One of them is a standard outlet. The other has USB charging slots. We had to order that one from Amazon because no where in town carried them in the nickle color we wanted.

USB charging at the outlet!
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USB charging at the outlet!

But a gift card from work and an Amazon order later and we’ve got ourselves a really spiffy outlet.

The rope lights are only temporary.
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The rope lights are only temporary.

We would like to have installed actual lights into the table, but they were really expensive, so we held off on that idea for now. In the mean time, we’ve got a rope light that we’d put up the stairs at the other house that didn’t have a home yet, and that’s filling in the gap for now. It’s a subtle light, but nice.

Back-lights behind the sofa
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Back-lights behind the sofa

The outlet that’s down behind the sofa has one outlet that’s controlled from a switch at the door and one that’s on all the time. So the outlets are plugged into one and the lights are plugged into the other and it works perfectly!

The table isn’t actually put together all the way yet. The long piece was really torqued and we were having trouble figuring out how to actually install the support beams that we cut in order to give it some structural support. We’d really like to do it right with sunken screws and everything, but we don’t have the money right now to buy the kreg jig we’d like in order to do it right. So for now, it’s tucked back behind the sofa, hopefully getting a little more straight the longer it’s there, and when we’ve got the money for the tool, we’ll take it back down and do the supports. And then when we’ve got more money again, we’ll add a lamp or up-wash lights or something.

For now, though, we’re really happy with how it turned out. I’ve actually got my computer plugged into it right now. And it’s actually stained darker than we would normally go, but it almost perfectly matches the sofa, so I’m tickled at how that worked out.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for paying for all the lumber! And for all the help on figuring out how to put it together!

And that pretty much rounds out the news that I’ve got for the moment. More than what I’ve mentioned and I feel like I’m complaining about my life, which is actually pretty good, I’m just irritated at parts of it at the moment (55 days) and that’s putting a huge grumpy gray cloud over everything. So don’t be surprised if you don’t hear from me for a while again. I’m not exactly trying to be reclusive or anything. I’m just trying not to be a whiner at everybody. My life is good. I’m just cranky. But things will get better.

Garage organized!

So we decided to get a garage to go along with our apartment, because as it turns out, the bikes don’t fit in this place as well as they did at the last one. And we have a bunch of things that I didn’t really want to keep in the closets in the house (weed whack, for example). And the additional rent wasn’t that much, all things considered.

Looking from the sun room, out toward the east-ish, this is the view that I get. The third garage from the right is the one that we’ve got. So it’s really quite close to the apartment. You can’t see the entrance in this photo, but you are able to see it from the office window, so we can see if I forgot to close the door or anything. :)

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Looking over toward the garage

And this is what it looks like when the door is open and there’s no car inside it!

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Looking into our garage

You can see that the bikes are already on the rack along the back right-side wall. Justin made sure to get that up before he had to head out of town. The rest of everything was just piled in the back, enough that I could fit the car in, but not in any organized sort of way at all. There’s still work to be done, but it’s looking MUCH better than it was.

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Unit on the left-hand side

This is the rack that we discovered we’d left most of the pieces behind when we moved. At the town house, this took up the entire space that was available in the back closet. Everything that wasn’t water heater. We took it back down once I got really nervous about the fact that it meant I could not at all get to the fuse box if something were to happen. It looks almost tiny in this space!

The top shelf currently has two boxes that are filled with vacuum suctioned bags of woolen packing blankets hiding behind the extra beach chairs, bookie board, wake board, and tent for use at the beach.

The second shelf has the stuff for staining wood and that type project and then has car stuff (car wash bucket and extra engine fluids) along the back.

The third shelf down has a few things for gardening, some things for the bikes, a plastic tub with things that we take to the beach (sand auger for the umbrella, plastic buckets and shovels), the shop vac, and the grill and charcoal chimney.

The second from the bottom is obviously full of boxes. This is not where they are going to stay. I just haven’t figure out what to do with them yet.

And the bottom shelf has more boxes and underneath that, the bike rack that doesn’t work on my car, but we’re keeping in case we ever get a car that it does work on (hatchbacks require a special type of rack, I guess).

To the left of the big rack is a shelving unit that’s holding the old flower boxes that we used at the apartment when we got married to actually hold flowers over the edge of the balcony, and used inside the storage closet at the townhouse for storage. Eventually, they will hold flowers again. But for now, the top one has toys in it (racquets, balls, Frisbee), the second has yard working stuff (string for the weed whack, sheers, hatchet), and the bottom has soil in it.

Along the back wall in this photo are our two lawn chairs that we use when we go to the beach or to the drive-in. I’d like to eventually put them on the shelf where the boxes are located, but that won’t happen until I figure out what on earth to do about the boxes, obviously.

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And to the right-hand side of the garage…

This other shelving unit wasn’t one that I knew that I had until I’d put the other one halfway together and discovered the parts didn’t all go together. We don’t have any wood for the shelves, but that shouldn’t be too hard to fix later — Justin can cut nice straight pieces of wood using his circular saw, but I’m not touching that thing. Meanwhile, I’ve made as much use of it as I can without those supports.

The top has the weed whack, the basket thing that I’d use to collect leaves or trimmings, and something else I can’t remember right now.

The second shelf has our beach umbrellas. I am a pasty white person. I need shade at the beach.

The bottom has the cooler, obviously, but the boccee balls and another tent are in there. I don’t know how we ended up with so many tents. The blue box has . . . crud, I can’t remember right now. And then there are two lights on top. The house light is listed on Craigslist, but so far, no one is interested. We might just end up keeping it since it doesn’t take up much space.

It bugs me that I can’t remember what’s in that box….

The dolly is tucked up close to the shelving unit and then two stands for pots are there for whenever we get outside plants again. The tub for the charcoal is under the bikes for now. I’m not sure I like it there. It’s empty right now, but we’ve got outdoor areas where I could grill here, so I’ll probably end up filling it again in the spring.

The “implements of destruction” are along the wall and those I do want to hang up eventually. I’m not sure if we’ll get more pieces to hang them on the same unit as the bikes or if we’ll do something else.

And then the saw horses are along the back wall.

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Rar!

And our gargoyle guards the entrance, like the good guardian beast that he is.

And our car isn’t very big, so it’s easy to fit in there. Even with the car pulled in with good space behind it, there’s still a lot of space in the front to putter around without moving the car.

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With the car enclosed

I don’t have a very good shot with the car in there, because unsurprisingly, it’s hard to get a shot of that. But it doesn’t feel at all cramped. The doors can’t open all the way, but that’s to be expected. That we can get in without any trouble is really nice, though.

I need to go back out and label the boxes, because obviously I already can’t remember what’s in all of them. And I like to have things nice and tidy and labeled. And I have to figure out a way to store the boxes that keeps them off the floor (possibility of flooding in there) and reduces the amount of humidity that gets into them, as well as keeps out the bugs. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do.

But for now, we can find the things that we want to be able to find and I can pull into the garage without worrying that I’m going to run something over. Eventually, I’d love to have a tool bench in there for Justin. There’s space enough for one along that back wall.

And there’s you have it! Our garage.

Saturday status

It was another exciting day! And I want to type this, but I’ve got a headache so I’m not writing well and not going back to edit. Sorry about it not making a lot of sense. :)

I went to my chiropractor appointment in the morning. Our chiropractor, Dr. John, is a wonderful friend who make sure to let me know that if there was anything I needed, just to give him a call. But not if there were robbers because it’ll take 45 minutes to get there and I should just call 911. :) But for anything else, he’d be happy to help.

After that, I went to Auto Zone and picked up a set of new wipers for my car and got those changed out, with some help from the wonderful staff there. I wasn’t entirely incompetent. She had trouble figuring it out, too. The mechanism is just weird on my wipers. I can get them ON just fine. It’s just getting the old ones off that’s complicated.

And then I stopped by the old house and met the new tenants. When we went to set up the shelving unit before Justin left, we discovered that we’d left several important parts in the back closet at the town house. Our previous landlady said she was planning to clear out the stuff in the back closet when she came back again, but I don’t think she ever actually went back. And the reason we didn’t grab them was because there were several things back in that closet that belonged to her and we were leaving her stuff alone. But our shelving bits got lost in there, too.

Anyway, I stopped by and introduced myself and said that it was a long shot, but could we check and see if those parts were still in there? And he said sure, but it’ll be kind of tricky because it’s full of stuff. And I said, why don’t I call my husband out in California because he knows where they’re at in there. So I called and Grandma Rose answered and said that Justin was on the roof, but just a second and she’d see if she could get him. So he got down off the roof and I told the man in the closet where to look and he was able to find all the parts I needed for our shelving unit!

I had a lovely chat with our previous neighbor while I was there. And then I drove home and had a really wonderful chat with Mom.

After having some lunch, I went out to the garage and worked on setting up the shelving unit, which turned out to actually be TWO different units, one of which is missing some parts and has one extra part. Go  figure that one out. But all the pieces for the one that I expected to have were there and I was able to put it all together and into the spot in the garage where it’s going to stay. And then I worked on cleaning up that mess.

I really should remember to take “before” photos, but I forgot. And I don’t have an “after” photo yet, either, because I’m not done.

I took a break in the middle to have a fantastic conversation with Erica. I pulled out a lawn chair and sat in the garage while we chatted.

And I got pretty far on the garage. Things are mostly where they’re going. Tomorrow I”m going to find some of those suck-all-the-air-out bags we’ve got in the house somewhere and take them out to wrap up the wool blankets we’ve got as packing material. They mostly fit in the tubs I’ve got them in, but this will make sure they really fit and then also keep out bugs and moisture. And I haven’t got shelves for the one unit, so that’s just going to have to wait until Justin gets back, I think. And the boxes that we used for packing are all out there, but I have to find away to make them bug and moisture proof yet. And then figure out where to keep them. I should get it looking mostly done tomorrow afternoon.

And I only broke one thing — a big pot that we’d brought from the old place to use again eventually. I accidentally knocked it over and it split in half. And I only scrapped my finger up a little bit when the box on the top decided it didn’t like it’s location. Bled like mad, but it’s fine.

After deciding I’d had enough of the garage, I came inside for a rest and watched some TV. And then I worked on a list of what I could make for dinners for the next several days until it was time I went to meet the guys from work’s Long Beach branch who are staying in my apartment complex for a few weeks while they help out my department at work. They arrived after the office had closed, so I had their keys to their apartment.

I was supposed to also meet up with someone who wanted to buy the light I had listed on Craigslist, but that didn’t happen. We’re going to give that another try tomorrow.

And that was my day!