Should Have Used Eight Tiny Reindeer

There are those times when things just have no intention of going right, and the past week seemed to be one of those times. It’s not that there weren’t a few nice moments, but in the end, the stress won this round. Even when I was able to stay cool, I was strongly affected by those around me who didn’t…

We’d decided to go out of state for Christmas, with Thursday being a travel day, Friday and Saturday to be spent with family, Sunday a travel day (DH coming home and me driving a few hours to a friend’s house), Monday and Tuesday visiting there, then Wednesday home for me. Both visits were short, but I was really looking forward to the few days of stress free living and seeing people I don’t often get to see, as well as meeting an i’net acquaintance in person for the first time. Hubby had even okayed me driving separately, and I was counting the days!

So, the first fly in the ointment was that my friend decided that she needed to cancel our getting together at the last minute. This took out out most of my R&R time, and obviously was terribly disappointing, but I decided I was not going to let it ruin my holiday. What I didn’t know was how big of an impact it was going to make on things in the end! This change meant that we only needed to take one car, and since DH was planning to hit the slopes on Saturday, it had to be his car that we drove. Skis just don’t fit in a sedan. 😉 My car is far more comfortable for me, and I inevitably forget something important when I transfer my driving comforts to another vehicle, but there was nothing to be done for the situation, so again, I figured I’d make the best of it. Another problem that arose is that I had some audiobooks picked out for the trip, and I knew they would not please him at all. There went the shoo-in completion of my annual book reading goal. However, when he suggested I grab the second Mitford book, which he’d not yet heard, I knew I’d not be suffering too badly. 🙂 On the other hand, for some reason, he also decided we were going to stay away until Monday – announced Wednesday night! That threw a number of things into a tizzy (including our hostess who was really counting on us leaving after church on Sunday!), and in the end, we set out an hour later than planned on Thursday with much undone and my head in a total spin. And so our adventure began…

THURSDAY: We needed gas and I needed a couple of buttons, so less than a half hour after we hit the road, we stopped at Walmart. I needed only two buttons, so when I saw a card from which someone had stolen the third, I figured Walmart and I could strike a happy deal which would benefit us both. What I learned is that Walmart policies aren’t based on logic. Instead of taking 33% off for the missing third of the product, they cheerfully offered me a 10% discount. Huh? Seems that even though it was a theft, they have the audacity to charge it back to the supplier, and they’d rather pay an employee to do the paper work than accept the $.75 loss they would have incurred by selling what they had left to me. And to make matters worse, the employee who was helping me didn’t seem to grasp why I didn’t think the 10% discount was a great deal and acted like I was a bit strange when I told her that would result in me paying more for the buttons instead of getting a bargain. Merry Christmas…

Next memorable moment actually belongs to my “Five Best Memories of the 2009” list. Not far outside of Zanesville, I noticed a hawk soaring high in the sky, and although I was driving and couldn’t just stare, it seemed like a rather big bird, and somewhat different than the redtails I usually see. As we got under the bird, I looked up – WAY up – and saw that the tail wasn’t red at all. In fact, it was glare white, and as he circled, the sun flashed from an equally white head. I could hardly believe my eyes – but there was no doubt I was looking at a Bald Eagle! I know many people live with these birds being relatively common sightings, but I’ve been a casual bird-watcher for years, and this was my first ever spotting of our national bird and also the first time I’ve seen one on American soil. (Only other time I’ve seen a wild eagle was when someone pointed one out while we were riding the rails in Canada.) It was truly an awesome sight, and not something I’ll be forgetting. I sure would have loved to have been able to pull off and just watch him sail for a while. I’m seriously glad my husband was with me, as he says he’d have never believed me otherwise!

We had a fairly normal trip for a while after that, but about 4 hours into the drive, about the halfway point, my 2 hours of sleep the previous night started to catch up with me, and I wanted a bottle of pop and some Tylenol, not to mention we were both starting to get hungry.  DH told me to pull off at the next exit, and that’s when things started to get out of control – literally. I hit the brake at the end of the ramp, and my foot went clear to the floor! This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, but I do grow rather weary of it, and believe me, it’s still good for a huge adrenalin rush! I nursed the car through town to a big truck stop, which thankfully housed a Subway and a shelf full of brake fluid. We turned out to be foolishly optimistic. Hubby popped the hood and gurgled the first bottle of fluid into the reservoir, and it promptly gushed out somewhere near the bottom of the driver’s door just as quickly as it went in. Not good. 😦 We started wondering what one does at 3:00 pm on Christmas Eve, four hours from home and four hours from destination, when they have a brake line burst.

At least we were in 24 hour truck stop and had a hotel across the street if worse came to worse, and that seemed pretty likely based on how buttoned up the town was when we’d come through. Several phone calls to recommended mechanics came up empty, so DH set out on foot to an auto supply store someone thought was open. He came back with some hose, clamps, and tools, but after watching him fight the generous leak for a few minutes, I lost the faith and called AAA. It turned out to be a good decision, even if it wasn’t exactly a slick solution. The nearest driver they could find was 45 minutes away from us, and they would only tow us 100 miles. After that, it would cost us $3.50 per mile. Considering we still had about 250 miles to go, my quick math came up with a very unhappy number. 😦 Then I had a brainstorm – which turned out to be the best solution all around.

I called AAA back and changed our drop off point to an exit a few miles beyond our 100 mile limit, and our SIL met us there with a trailer, loaded our car, and drove us the rest of the way.

It took us three vehicles to get there, but we met an interesting man in our flatbed driver, and we arrived only 2 hours later than we’d expected. Many blessings surrounded the whole event.

  • The line burst when we were in as safe of a situation as could be, rather than out on the interstate when I was doing some sort of avoidance maneuver or going around a mountain curve.
  • We had a safe, warm place to wait, as well as daylight.
  • We have a SIL who works with his dad in the largest PJ trailer sales business in the eastern U.S.
  • Thanks to my cell phone, I was able to easily make quite a number of phone calls with no problem, so I checked options, arranged a tow, kept our hostess up to date, and had friends praying for us – blessings all!
  • And I had my knitting with me. 😉 (What a lot of memories have been knit into this sweater over the past few months!!!)

And though we had to go to a different church than we’d planned, we did find a Christmas Eve service. Silent Night by candlelight never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It’s the switch that turns off the “hectic” and begins Christmas in my heart.

SATURDAY: The day after Christmas is a day I’d been looking forward to for the entire year. Everyone else goes skiing, and I have the house all to myself – and it’s someone else’s house, so I have no duties or responsibilities. It’s the most incredibly relaxing day of the entire year for me, feet up knitting whatever I WANT to knit instead of what I NEED to knit, glutting on audiobooks and remembering how to breathe again after the intense days that are so common as the year winds to a close. This year I had a new shawl I’m designing, pattern and yarn for two different pairs of socks, a new KAL pattern, my spinning, and two of my active social knitting projects – my February Lady Sweater and my Autumn Entrelac Shawl – as well as about 6 ounces of spinning fiber and my Navajo spindle. I figured that would be enough to keep me going quite happily all day long. 😉

But it rained – everywhere for a hundred or more miles in all directions. For some reason, they just didn’t want to go skiing. With everything else that has been happening, this was enough to make me cry. I SO needed that day! And I still DO need that day! We ended up driving to Harrisburg to spend time in the National Civil War Museum, which I highly recommend, by the way. A person could probably spend weeks in there and not absorb all the information they have, and their book store is just plain awesome! I took my sweater along and knit as I meandered and read – a very good decision on my part, as I worked past the “this thing is NOT getting any longer” hump without even realizing it. 🙂 They booted us out the door at closing time, and we had dinner at Red Robin, followed by a bowling excursion.

Bowling was not a good experience that evening. The lanes were exceedingly oily, and all the alley balls of any given size were drilled the same. I have a large hand, but have to throw a light ball, so my hand fit the 15 pound balls and my arm an 11 pounder. Trying to hold a ball dripping in lane oil with a pinch grip when I’ve not bowled in the last year led to three ripped fingernails, two bleeding tears to my thumb, a pull in my elbow, a strained knee, and rousing scores of 57 and 74, in the first time in my entire life that I’ve rolled two full games without so much as a single mark. Six frames in my second game boasted 9’s, 5 of which were rolled on the first ball. It was a bit depressing. Thankfully, I also had my knitting along… 🙂

SUNDAY: Since we weren’t actually supposed to be visiting any longer but were anyway, we ended up at a family reunion for someone else’s family, then spent the evening feeling a bit in the way as our hosts had friends over for the evening.  Thankfully, I had plenty of knitting along, though by this time, I was really suffering from the fact that the house where we were staying had zero task lighting. That left me again working on that sweater, which was the only thing I could see to do, but the good thing is, I reached finished length on Sunday, bound it off, and started the first sleeve. 🙂

MONDAY: Thankfully the brakes were repaired well before noon, so we packed out and headed for home. The first little bit of the trip went well; we found our spot in Mitford and were settled in for a nice drive. Then the precipitation began… For the entire rest of the trip, we were treated to high winds and a non-stop display of various and sundry cloud leakage, mostly snow, some brief rain, all slick and just enough to make things really dirty. The normally 8 hour journey took nearly 13. After several hours of being able to barely see out the windshield most of the time, I forced a stop for new wipers. Ironically enough, we ended up at the same exit we’d lost our brakes, so hubby was able to swap the unused supplies from last Thursday for new wipers. It was a marvelous improvement, but about a half hour later, we had to stop again, as one of the new wipers broke. We arrived home at midnight with one new and one old wiper, and no washer fluid, totally drained. I don’t think this place has EVER looked as good to me as it did last night!

For some reason or other, I have some lyrics running through my mind right now… something like:

I’ll stay home for Christmas.

You can count on that.

Won’t drive through snow,

Have brake lines blow,

Or ride on truck beds flat…

Christmas Eve will find me

Where it’s safe and warm.

I’ll stay home for Christmas,

And visit via phone!

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