Monthly Archives: June 2012

Warranty Wars


So about a year ago we got fed up with our crappy minivan and bought a nicer one.  It was used but so much sexier than the old one, with the seats that fold into the floor and power doors and this thing in the stock which tells time.  We named it Moby Titanic (as it is large and white) and we love it so moishe.

When we test drove it, it did this alarming thing at freeway speeds wherein the entire vehicle swayed distressingly when the brakes were applied.  We told them that if they fixed that thing, we’d buy it.  They allegedly did, and we bought it along with a warranty.  Even our mechanics agreed that the warranty was a good one.  We were assured that we could use it at our preferred shop, the one with the aforementioned mechanics.  We’re quite loyal to this shop as they saw us through nursing school when we were Broke Ass Poor.  At that time we had my car which was/is pretty reliable, and then The Lovely Rhonda also had this extremely shitty Volkswagen Passat.

We called the Passat “Flopsy” due to the antenna that should have stuck proudly into the air at a jaunty angle from above the rear window.  It didn’t.  It was distressingly flaccid, so the car became Flopsy.  (We could not help ourselves.  Shut up.)  This phenomenally terrible car broke down, like, a lot, which was really difficult for us to manage given that we were so very BAP.  The very good people at Peterson Automotive did everything they could to keep us mobile at shockingly minimal costs, and for this we are fans for life.

Anyway, a few months after we purchased the minivan the brakes started doing that thing again.  We spoke some choice words to one another regarding the integrity of dealerships and then we took it to Peterson’s and they fixed it for real.  Except that a few months later it started doing it again.  We mentioned this to them at the most recent oil change and they were so apologetic.  They felt bad that they hadn’t fixed it right the first time, and told us that they would fix it correctly and charge us only for the parts by way of apology.  We were super cool with this and dropped it off last Wednesday, and that, my friends, is where the real fun began.

Once they got it all taken apart they found that the master cylinder was starting to go, and this was going to be a bigger repair than anyone anticipated.  It was time to invoke the Warranty.   We’d have to pay only a small deductible.  Yay for warranties!

Oh no, said the warranty company.  The dealership has to release the van to allow it to be worked on somewhere other than the dealership.

No problem, we thought.  We talked about this when we bought it.  We’ll just give them a little call and all will be well again.

We were so naive.

It was almost comical how nobody would call us back.  For two solid days.  TLR spoke with every manager they had, and salespeople, and office ladies, and possibly the janitor.  She resorted to leaving voicemails for the owner of the dealership.  Everybody had to check with everybody else.  Nobody could give us an answer.  Finally TLR went down to the dealership and raised a wee ruckus.  I believe the F-bomb may have been dropped.  You know I don’t approve of such violence but people, by this time it had to be said.

One of the useless managers commented that the police could be called.  “Oh, that’s fine, I’ll dial the number,” said TLR, brandishing her cell phone with what I am sure was a flourish.  “They won’t arrest me.  All they will do is make it so I can’t come here.  And then you can’t fix my van here, so I win.”  That shut him up pretty comprehensively.

The only satisfaction won that day was that the dealership agreed to lend us a car off their used-cars lot so that we wouldn’t have to rent one, as by this time an easy repair that should have taken a couple of hours had now stretched into a three-day battle and it was now Friday.  Nothing would be resolved until the next week and we both had to work on Monday, in opposite directions from home.  We picked the car up on Sunday night.

Since we didn’t need to schlep any kids around I had opted for a sedan.  They lent us a virtually nondescript NissHonYota Narcoleptor 6000.  These are great cars that would run forever if only people could stay awake long enough to put miles on them.  Sadly they have the highest accident rate of any modern sedan, domestic or imported, because they are so mind-numbingly boring that drivers routinely fall asleep at the wheel and crash them into things.  It was Fugly Grey with an automatic transmission.  I think the seats might have been clad in Midwestern airport upholstery fabric, but I couldn’t muster the energy to care one way or the other so I can’t really recall at this point.  It’s a miracle I’m still alive.

Monday and Tuesday came and went with still no contact from the dealership, shocking I know, and as those are busy workdays for The Lovely Rhonda, Destroyer of Worlds, no progress was made.  Wednesday she was home and able to verbally harass them make polite inquiries by telephone, to no avail. This had been dragging along for a solid week.  We were starting to contemplate small-claims court as well as perhaps calling up the lesbian posse for some sliding-scale, child-care-provided fully accessible picketing.  Nobody does it old school like lesbians.

Yesterday she finally spoke to the one magical wizard of a manager at the dealership who reportedly had to all but throw acid in the owner’s face to get him to agree to release the warranty.   I received a text: “We win.”  The argument was made that we had been loyal customers and had even referred a friend there who bought a brand-new vehicle from them.  We were fighting this hard to be able to take our repair business to our favorite shop.  Did they really want to piss us (meaning TLR) off? Plus I think when the F-bomb is spoken in the hallowed halls of an auto dealership they have to perform elaborate cleansing rituals which probably gets expensive owing to the difficulty of finding virgins among the sales staff.

Thus we merrily skipped off to Peterson’s to collect our perfectly-repaired van, only to drive it directly to yet ANOTHER dealership for a recall repair on the ignition.

Brace yourselves, internets.

TLR called to check on the timeliness of the repair, as we had made it clear we had to get it back by a certain time.  Uh, that guy is at lunch and he’ll call  you back when he gets back around 2pm.   No, says TLR.  We need to pick it up at 2.  Oh.  Well uh that guy didn’t get a chance to let you know and I hate to be the bearer of bad news but now your key doesn’t work in the ignition we fixed so you have to pay $220.00 for a new key. 

At this point I blanked out a little because TLR’s head started to spin around on her neck and her voice dropped enough octaves that those whale microphones picked it up.  The guy could not get off the phone fast enough, and called us back a minute or two later to report that the dealership would cover the charge for the key and how soon could we come pick the van up?  You could hear him sweating through the tiny phone speaker.

We win.


Municorns, ohay!


So Rhonda’s youngest has ear tubes now.  When she insisted that the television be turned up constantly, we finally realized that her charming speech patterns and “selective hearing” were really signs that she actually couldn’t hear much at all — much to The Lovely Rhonda’s chagrin and crippling guilt, that special guilt that only mothers are burdened with at times like these — and these wonderful ear tubes have alleviated that issue such that her hearing is normal now.

Her speech is improving over time, so it is our hope that she won’t need speech therapy in the long run.  Meanwhile we enjoy her spin on certain words.  My daughter’s name is Delia but we often call her Yaya, and the entire house can be heard to use “ohay!” instead of okay.

The latest came about yesterday when the girls went to a paint-your-own ceramics party for a friend’s birthday.  They each got to paint a little figurine which will be fired and can be picked up next week.

The oldest painted an owl.

The middle child, a cat.

And the youngest?

A “municorn.”




So we’re engaging in yet more Home Improvement.  Recently our sidingwallah Kenny replaced the elderly sliding glass door.  This is the same door upon which I had attempted to peel my own fingernails off more than once, opening it for the spindly-armed children, because it was so elderly that it declined to slide open and closed easily but did so only under duress.  I know the feeling.

He replaced it with a window, and in the coming weeks will be finishing the wall beneath the new window and installing the trim around the window and the fancy new French doors that replaced the other sliding glass door.  It’s looking a little rough around the edges but it’ll get there eventually.  So we keep telling ourselves.

The new window and wall beneath it gave rise to a brisk round of furniture-rearranging.  Although there was really nothing stopping us from blocking one of the doors with the table, there is just something about having a door that says PUT NO FURNITURE HERE even if you have another door a mere five feet to the left.  But, even a framed and plywooded suggestion of a wall changes the way you see the space around you, and we were suddenly free to put the table along this rudimentary wall in a way that we weren’t the day before.

Obviously we had to get a bit carried away with the whole thing and it wasn’t long before we came to the conclusion that removing the laundry room door would be nothing less than a stroke of sheer architectural brilliance.  We never close it because the pets enter and exit the home through the laundry-room pet door, which can be secured if necessary, and furthermore the cats’ food dishes are on top of the dryer.  Our Hermione would have a stroke if we impeded her access to the food dishes.

So, we merrily set about to free the door from its hinges.  I held it in place while The Lovely Rhonda tapped a screwdriver up into the hinges, one by one, with a hammer to free up the hinge-pins.

All went swimmingly until the final hinge, the bottom one.  It was difficult to swing the hammer even a bit in such a cramped space, and awkward to hold the screwdriver in place.  TLR was on her knees struggling with this and suddenly she jumped back and clasped her hand to her chin.  I was sent to fetch a dishtowel.  There was a certain amount of blood.

It turns out that it might not be the safest idea to tap a screwdriver into a hinge at the bottom of a door, unless you have a great deal of insurance or perhaps a death wish.  The screwdriver had slipped and gouged TLR in the chin.  It takes a certain amount of force to drive a screwdriver into your lip hard enough to cut nearly through it.  Sufficient force to create a pretty decent fat lip, for one.

So what with the unsettling way the wound had of gaping and bleeding when she moved her mouth at all, we decided to get it looked at down at the local hospital.  I figured this was the best way to handle it since the chances of her keeping her mouth shut were slim to none it was on her face and might scar.  We thought they might stitch it but instead they used “Dermabond” which is hospital-talk for “hideously expensive SuperGlue.”  That and couple of steri-strips and she was on her way.


She now has a mild speech impediment (“maybe they’ll put a couple of sssstishes in it”) and cannot lick her lower lip, bite her fingernails, or eat pizza without a knife and fork, but all will be back to normal in a few days.

After we got home I quietly removed the door and placed it in the garage.  I was extra cautious.  The door has tasted blood and can no longer be trusted.

Pride, Proud, Prude


So today was Gay Pride in Portland, across the bridge from Vantucky where I live.  I used to live in Portland and Vancouver’s Gay Pride is kind of miniature and boring (no offense), so I’m more inclined to go to Portland’s.  Thus we sat on aluminum bleachers for a butt-numbing two and a half hours watching rainbow-clad individuals from literally ALL walks of life.  The bleachers were located directly in front of one of the premier gay clubs (The Embers) and there was an umbrella’d booth of big drag queens giving hilarious color commentary.  Aside from the hardness of the bleachers, it was a good time.

We don’t take our kids to Gay Pride.  It’s not that I’m not all SUPER GAY PROUD and stuff, although to be truthful I’ve been out for so long (more than twenty years now) and I consider it to be just a slightly different facet to my otherwise ridiculously average life that I feel kind of… post-gay.

I mean, I don’t go to GINGER PRIDE.  There’s no parade for BUNION SUFFERERS.  We PSYCHIATRIC NURSE MANAGERS don’t hang out at the waterfront all day extolling the virtues of underpaid social service jobs and purchasing specialty merchandise from one another.  So in a way, I kinda don’t get it sometimes.

But then I remember how we sometimes get killed for being gay, how we’re denied basic rights that heterosexual folk get just for being straight, and how difficult and isolating it is for gay etc. youth (or adults for that matter) to come out to their families, so I do get it.

I just wish I didn’t have to.

The whole Pride thing is supposed to be somewhat family-friendly, with parade participants handing out candy and stickers and balloons and Mardi Gras beads to the kiddos, but there is one large reason why I don’t want to take the kids to Pride.   And that would be the scantily-clad folk, of all persuasions, and the minority-sexual-proclivities type groups who march in the parade.

I just don’t want to try to explain to my 8-year-old what BDSM is, or why some people are into leather.  There was a guy marching in one of the leather-enthusiasts groups in black leather underwear wearing a mask that covered his entire head, and his bare back was red with welts from being slapped with leather implements by others in the group. There was another fellow similarly clad suspended from a — well, let’s just call it a “specialty recreational swing,” on a trailer pulled behind a vehicle in (if I recall correctly) the same group.  There was a woman standing near him and he was rocking in place such that it simulated (very superficially) a sexual act.  This is not something I think is terrifically appropriate for children to see.  Speaking just for my child, she’s wicked smart and doesn’t miss much.  I think that this kind of knowledge is burdensome for children.  If she’s too young to really understand what sex is all about, she’s much too young to see this.

I just don’t think this highly sexualized stuff belongs in a parade in public spaces.  Sometimes that makes me feel prudish, but I have always felt this way watching Gay Pride parades, which I started doing long before I had a child.  I thought the entire point of Pride activities was to support and educate — and I suppose the argument can be made that these groups are trying to educate — but I am not sure that this venue is appropriate for this.  None of it interests me in the slightest but I know that there are people of all orientations who find it compelling, I don’t judge and all that — but does it belong in the Gay Pride parade?

I managed not to get too sunburned although I can’t say the same for The Lovely Rhonda.  I did offer the sunscreen to her but she declined.  Next year I’m just going to spray her like a protester.  IT’S FOR YOUR OWN GOOD.

On Phone Manners


So my kid’s last day of 2nd grade was yesterday.  She came home with the usual portfolio of works created during the school year as well as a little booklet her teacher had made for each of the kids.  The booklet was titled “My Autograph Book” and inside I found names and phone numbers of about half the kids in her class.  I thought this was cute and charming.

We don’t have a home phone anymore.  We had one for ages and found that we never used it and we got lots of calls for previous holders of our phone number.  The most recent of these appeared to be both non-English-speaking and disinclined to pay their bills in a timely fashion.  It’s so rewarding to get those calls at 8am on a Sunday.  So we finally just quit having a home phone, and The Lovely Rhonda and I both have cell phones.

So the upshot of all of this is that I have 8-year-old children calling my cellphone asking for my daughter while I am at work, or leaving awkward voicemails to the same effect.  If I am very lucky, the child will speak intelligibly and possibly even mention their own name.  And I am learning to talk them through the process of finding a piece of paper and a pencil and taking down the number at my ex’s when she’s over there.

I think we may have to get a home phone again.

Here’s mud in your hair


So once upon a time I was an elderly nursing student and I met this hot younger woman and stole her from her entirely undeserving husband.

At that time I was not only elderly but experiencing a host of delightful changes related to not being young anymore, including night sweats and general curmudgeonliness.  I was so clueless about this process, which to give me some credit was both horrifying and mysterious, that I went to see the school’s nurse practitioner about the night sweats thinking I was having a urinary tract infection.  This wasn’t so far-fetched as I’d had exactly the same symptoms when I was pregnant.

Imagine my delight when the nurse practitioner informed me that I was starting the exciting journey into perimenopause.  As my ex so succinctly put it, “Oh, they just put the ‘peri-‘ on there to make you feel better!”

I’ll spare you any further details (you’re welcome) except to say that I’m also fortunate to come from a family whose hair goes grey prematurely.  My brother, who is a great guy with just a minor gun fetish, looks like if Santa was a fairly tall,  slim guy with a minor gun fetish.  And no butt.

My eyebrows started to turn white when I was about thirty, and it turns out that once they turn white they don’t really ever turn back.  And it just gets worse from there.  In about ten years I went from being a pasty-skinned, freckled redhead with dark eyebrows (sort of brownish) to a pasty-skinned freckled PERSON WHO USED TO HAVE RED HAIR, with white eyebrows.

The third time someone asked me if I “used” to have red hair, which coincidentally was also the first time someone asked me if I was Delia’s grandmother, was the first time I considered coloring my hair.  Ever.  And when we went to cheer a friend on at a triathlon and that friend spent the evening ruining hotel towels with henna, I allowed myself to be talked into it.

Great googly moogly, that was some orange henna.  I was startlingly bright.  The Lovely Rhonda was pleased with it and so I have never looked back, although we did seek out a somewhat less shocking shade of henna.

For those of you unfamiliar with henna, it’s a plant that grows somewhere more interesting than here, probably India judging from the packaging, and they dry it and grind it up and ship it halfway around the world so perimenopausal women can feel less hopelessly antiquated.  You mix it with boiling water, stir it into a vaguely barnyardy-smelling mud the consistency of poo,  allow it to cool down until it’s still way too hot, and smear it in your hair.  Then you put a plastic bag on your head and play computer games for an hour, after which you take the longest shower ever because it’s the very devil to try to get this crap out of your hair.  And in the morning you look like Little Orphan Annie after a heroin bender.  At least I do, because my hair is long-ish and curly and henna tends to roughen it a little.  I’m told not as badly as harsh chemical dyes, but still.  I go through a lot more conditioner these days.

What amazes me is that every six weeks or so TLR smears mud in my hair, observes me with a muddy grocery bag on my head for an hour, and still claims to find me interesting and lovable.

A conversation


So last night I was tucking my newly-8-year-old child into bed.

This child was once a screamy ball of mushy unformed screaminess, so I am consistently surprised every day to turn around and find her head somewhere near my shoulder.  So I did that thing that moms do wherein we marvel at the growth (so very unexpected!) and development (TOO SOON MAKE IT STOP) of our precious babies.

As you might guess, we’ve had this conversation before.

Me: Where did that little baby go that I used to have?  Where did she go?

Delia (rolling eyes): I ate her.

Me:  Is that how you got so tall?  I thought that was from drinking your milk and and eating your fruits and vegetables.

Delia (deadpan monotone):  Babies are protein.

At this point the conversation deteriorated because I dissolved into uncontrollable laughter.