Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pride is an Ugly Red Car – or – How to embarrass your children on a budget...

Some people who read my beautiful wife’s blog (http://www.vontinney.blogspot.com/) already know we have had what we are affectionately calling “Financial Challenges.” In private, I often refer to this as “The Budget Massacre of 2007” which is rapidly being followed by the hit 2008 sequel “The Budget Massacre of 2008 – Part Duex

Well anyway… along those lines the family has inherited a new vehicle for secondary transportation purposes such as:

· Quick run to the corner store
· Drop kid at school
· Repair shop
· Repair shop
· Other repair shop until first repair shop is paid up

Actually, I exaggerate (get used to it!). We haven’t really gone to the second repair shop just yet because the first one has an intravenous line hooked into our bank card… just in case. We have affectionately named this 19 year old automobile “Red Thunder,” as a tribute to its color, barring a few ‘minor’ abrasions, and the AC/DC tune “Thunderstruck.” We didn’t actually choose the name after any careful examination of the car or the song lyrics. I, however, in my unstoppable curiosity (meaning: nerdy investigative habit) found the lyrics, which include:

I was caught
In the middle of a railroad track (Thunder)
And I knew there was no turning back (Thunder)
My mind raced
And I thought what could I do (Thunder)
And I knew
There was no help, no help from you (Thunder)
Sound of the drums
Beatin' in my heart
The thunder of guns
Tore me apart
You've been – thunderstruck

AND…perhaps more importantly

Said yeah, it's alright
We're doing fine
Yeah, it's alright
We're doing fine
So fine

Like the first part of those lyrics, we’ve been Thunderstruck, financially speaking. Like the chorus, though, we are, indeed, doing fine in our little red car if you don’t count my son. Short of asking his mother to be dropped five miles from school rather than be seen in Thunder, he’s doing just great.

You see, we bought this car for just hundreds of dollars out of someone’s front yard. My son was one of the first to ride in the then unnamed red car. On the way back to the house, my wife tried to reason with him and explain the financial benefits of having a paid for car rather than a car payment, the frugality of this particular approach, and the faith she had in his father’s ability to fix (duct tape) the interior door panels as well as other small (missing pieces, non-working/functional items, and wind noise from various locations not intended to have wind noise) problems (duct tape again). When that failed, she told him he could walk instead. I’m not sure, but riding behind them at 35 mph, I could have sworn his door opened a little.

My son is growing more accustomed to the car. For example, I’ve noticed a few subtle differences showing this, such as him:

1. Actually getting in the car.
2. Complaining quietly enough during rides to not be heard over the wind noise.
3. No longer acting like he doesn’t see my wife in the parking lot waiting after school until everyone else is gone; and
D. Recently calling “the car” by its proper name, Thunder, with some enthusiasm (like the enthusiasm of someone acknowledging taxes or death, but enthusiasm just the same.)

All this aside, Thunder has been a blessing to our family, as well as Tuffy’s Auto Service in town. Hey.. .why not share the love, eh? Remarkably, she only needed some tires, brakes, and a few bulbs to pass inspection. All told, though, our total outlay for this beauty is less than some people’s monthly payments! So, I say to hell with pride! People with no car payments who have those bumper stickers that say “Don’t Laugh, it’s paid for!” UNITE!

Let’s just be careful where we meet… our children might see us.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Mice, Hamster, Guinea Pigs – Come one Come all - Just bring ear plugs dude…

Well, it’s been a little while since my last blog posting so let me bring everyone (that means the one person who reads this: My Wife) up to date.

Unemployed (not great)
Christmas (great)
Unemployed some more (panic attacks, fear, dread, various self-imposed guilt-ridden illnesses)
New Years (ok, except still unemployed and now drunk)
Got a job… sort of… just doesn’t pay for, oh, 45 days. Is that bad?
Got a part-time job (hey! Why have just one! Besides: I love Pizza)

Wow… that sure felt a lot longer in real life. Anyway…

If John Steinbeck re-wrote “Of Mice and Men” he would probably have to call it “Of Mice, Hamsters, Guinea Pigs and other Assorted Screaming Adults” in order to capture the overall picture at my house.

We have a hamster to care for (We here meaning: Adults Clean up/Kids laugh and point). Not a big deal. She doesn’t bite unless provoked (I have extremely small boxing gloves for this and it takes a while), eats very little, and generally stays to herself.

Recently, however, we added a couple of new occupants. Not by choice, mind you, yet here they are hanging out and eating brownies (more on the brownies later). Their arrival has been documented in detail on my wife’s blog (http://www.vontinney.blogspot.com/); however, as usual, I have my own version.

Whilst hard at work in her office/scrapbook/therapy room, my wife heard a faint scratching sound. It is my belief that God has built into women an innate, yet hidden until needed, ability to hear a mouse chewing/scraping its way into any house within 400 miles of said woman. Therefore, even with a three-year-old as loud as any ever heard, washer running nearby, two basset hounds panting around, one spring spaniel fiddling around somewhere, and other general household noises going on simultaneously… My dear wife heard a ‘scraping sound’ that any man would have mistaken for ‘complete silence’ given the same situation. Being the mature, experienced, and controlled adult that she is, she immediately called me, 35 miles away, for assistance from a safe location (chair).

What happened next will forever go down in the annals of history as the “Screams Heard Round the World.” In fact, for those of you somewhere on the east coast of the United States or Canada, let me be the first to apologize: that was not a herd of 1,000 smallish animals being simultaneously stabbed with a sharp object in a mass attack the other day. It was:

My spouse screaming into her cell phone – and consequently – my ear,
My three-year-old daughter screaming when she didn’t know why yet, and
Two small mice making a different noise than they have ever made upon being confronted by the decibels described above. I would imagine they made a small poop, too.

I had the misfortune of being on the phone when the ‘scratching sound’ became ‘a running across the room’ mouse, followed by a close friend or relative who, no doubt, ran because of the screaming though he/she/it had originally intended to hide. One can only imagine, even in the brain of such a small creature, the shear panic that ensues when you are simply out for a warm spot to sleep or a bite to eat and you are confronted with such a situation. It might have gone something like this:

Mouse 1: Hey, is that light up there? Let’s go up through there and see if there’s a warm place to sleep or some food.

Mouse 2: ok

Mouse 1: (Upon making it through the hole behind the bookshelf with his friend, safe from view) I’ll go this way and you look that way.

Mouse 2: ok


Mouse 1: Small poop and near heart failure.

Mouse 2: (To Mouse 1 once they reach the relative calm of the closet together): I hate you for this!

Anyway… many screams, of varying pitch and duration, have followed (again: see wife’s blog http://www.vontinney.blogspot.com/); however, I am happy to report that one of the attackers was recently caught in a non-humane (read here: dead) trap and disposed of (yes… my wife truly makes killer brownies).

I would imagine it was Mouse 1 only because after multiple confrontations, and screams, Mouse 2 actually pulled a revenge murder on Mouse 1 for getting her into this situation and stuffed the body into the trap in hopes of appeasing my wife. Note to Mouse 2: Homicide did not appease screaming person with broom, but thanks for the help.

So there you have it… oh… and in other news…

My wife and daughter, who have been living in fear of these small mice for days, went out today and picked up some new pets: Two big, hairy rodent-like Guinea Pigs. Go figure…

Until next time… Average Joe