Saturday, December 28, 2013

The evil cardboard box

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. This one was a little different than last year (see last year's post) in which we had the entire family together and it felt like when we were growing up again. This time we had Lance's new wife Jasinda instead of Logan, who is on a mission in Mexico City. Unfortunately for her that meant we expected her to fill in for Logan in all of our holiday traditions, from decorating his gingerbread house to putting up his Christmas ornaments, but she handled it like a champ. She even slept on the floor (well, okay, an air mattress) with the rest of the siblings on Christmas Eve night.

One of the gifts I was most looking forward to giving on Christmas morning was the new stereo Cole and I bought for Lance and Jasinda's 1987 Toyota Camry. Not only did we pretty much double the value of their car, but we also solved the problem of One Republic not releasing their new album on cassette tape.

Actually, I can't make fun of their car too much because, as Lance pointed out this week, my car ends up in the repair shop more often than theirs does even though I paid about ten times as much for it. Last week I was backing into the alley behind where I work and my car started making a horrible noise. I stopped the car and popped the hood and stared at everything for a minute. I don't actually know enough about cars to tell if anything in the mess of hoses and wires and metal thingies under there are broken, but this seems like the type of thing people do when their car starts making a funny noise so I thought I would try it.

Next I looked under the car and immediately breathed a sigh of relief when I realized there was a cardboard box caught up underneath and that's what was probably causing the noise. I took back that sigh of relief a second later when I realized there was a very long, important-looking pipe dragging on the ground. Even I could tell that wasn't what it was supposed to be doing. Fortunately with the help of a couple of friends I was able to get home, get to work the next morning and get my car to the shop, where I had to explain to the mechanic that it was a cardboard box that ripped off my exhaust pipe. No, I wasn't on the Interstate when I hit it. No, the box wasn't full of bricks. No, I didn't run over something else at the same time. No, I don't know why it happened. You're the expert here.

The mechanic was nice about it though. Car people are always nice to me. They were even nice to me the time I went to get my oil changed and the guy asked me to check my mileage and I wasn't paying attention and turned my car all the way on when another guy had already taken off the oil filter. If you were ever curious about what would happen if you do this, I can tell you: Oil shoots everywhere. Like a geyser. All over the floor. And the walls. And the car. And the guy changing the oil. Don't do it.

So, as we look ahead to the next holiday, I can tell you this: One of my New Year's resolutions is going to be to know slightly more about cars by the end of next year than I do now. It shouldn't be too hard.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanks for the potato peeler

This year my family came to my place for Thanksgiving weekend, on account of my having to work on Thanksgiving Day.

Since I've gotten pretty used to having my own place, this required some adjustments on my part. Being fully clothed during breakfast, for example. But I'm pretty sure my family had to adjust to more than I did. My poor mother had to cook her biggest meal of the year in my apartment kitchen, which is lacking in a lot of Thanksgiving-related paraphernalia, like pie plates and a turkey baster. She brought most of what she needed with her, but she did have to make an emergency potato peeler purchase partway through the day. Apparently I don't eat enough mashed potatoes, because I hadn't even noticed I didn't have one.

I actually got several free items besides a potato peeler out of the visit, although some of them are more useful than others. I now own manly-smelling shampoo and soap because Dad and Cole were tired of smelling like flowers every time they came for a visit. I also got a nice set of drinking glasses out of the visit when Dad realized that his only options for Thanksgiving dinner were drinking out of plastic or not having all the glasses match. The horror. It was too much.

Thanksgiving dinner was a little crowded since I don't have any leaves to add to my table, but we made it work by putting all the food on a card table and telling the guest the event was BYOC -- bring your own chair. It may not have been the classiest Thanksgiving we've ever had, but we had a good time. And nothing got broken when we played games afterward. Even though Dad and Cole did have a bit of a wrestling match over a card.

We missed Logan and Lance (although we did get to see Lance and Jasinda up in Selah with Jasinda's family the next day). We all felt a little sorry for Logan missing his first Thanksgiving serving a mission in Mexico City. Then we remembered Logan hates pretty much all of the food that's served for Thanksgiving, and we felt a little less sorry for him. He'd rather have tacos anyways. He hasn't liked turkey ever since his early elementary school days. Mom was picking out a turkey from the store and he said "Mom, these turkeys have the same name as the turkeys that are birds that we learned about at school!" I'll never forget the look of horror on his face when she explained they were actually the same thing. It was a completely different look than the one on Cole's face when he was about the same age and asked Uncle Norman and Aunt Kim where the pigs he'd loved playing with during his last visit were and they explained that they were in the sandwich he was eating. He looked down, shrugged, and said "I guess I like them dead and alive." I'll bet you can guess which one is a music major and which one plans to be an engineer.

On Friday we went up to the Tri-Citites on the way to Selah in order to do some Black Friday shopping. There was really no point, since all the good sales happened on Thanksgiving when the only thing my mom bought was a potato peeler. But Black Friday is Black Friday. So Mom and I spent about three hours shopping. Dad and Cole lasted for literally one store before asking to be dropped off at Barnes and Noble until we were done.

On Saturday we helped clean the church, played our annual game of Monopoly that we missed when I was working on Thanksgiving, and I helped proofread Cole's college application essays. An on Sunday my family attended the singles branch with me, thereby doubling our branch's church attendance for the week. (OK, that was a slight exaggeration. But not by much). After monitoring their behavior I decided to admit to being related to them before they headed off to The Dalles.

I've definitely had worse Thanksgivings. After all, this one came with a free potato peeler.