Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh, Sandy!

In the scheme of things, Sandy was just a nuisance in my area: flooding, road closures, power outages, trees down, and no lives lost. In the greater affected area, many people are dealing with major issues caused by the storm. The recovery in some areas will take months!

I am thankful:

*That my extended family along the East Coast is fine, and so are their dwellings.

*That we did not lose power or communication during the worst of the storm.

*That my house is on top of a hill and it would take A LOT of rain in a small amount of time for the creek to flood my house.

These pictures are just a timeline of the creek that runs through my neighborhood across our backyards. In no way are they comparable to the flooding in many cities!

The creek on a normal day (this tree is to the left of the next 5 pictures)

10/29 around noon (taken from my deck)

10/29 around 2:00 pm

10/29 around 4:15 pm

10/29 around 5:40 pm (last shot before sunset)

10/30 around 8:00 am

Just for comparison purposes, here is a picture from the worst flooding we have witnessed since living in this neighborhood. It is taken on ground level and the "Florida Room" of our neighbor's house (see below the word "branches" in the picture above) is about 4 feet from the edge of the water.

5/26/2011 Our little creek became a river!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Day My Van Was Possessed

No, there is not a typo in the title... my van did not get "repossessed," it was POSSESSED. The Demonic kind. The Horror Story kind. The "I can't make this $&*^ up" kind.

It is a normal Thursday morning in our household. The alarm goes off way too early. I get myself ready for work, and then get the kids ready for daycare and school. We pile into the van and off we go to the daycare. As per usual routine, I leave everything in the van except the keys, lock up, and take the boys inside. When I return to the van, I push the unlock button on the key fob...

The headlights start flashing, the interior lights come on, the windshield wipers run on high setting (both front and rear), and the horn screams into the early morning. Not the "honk, honk" like when the alarm goes off; the steady HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONK like when you lean on the horn. The van is freaking out. I am freaking out. The driver door is still locked. I push every button on the fob with no result.


Oh, look: the passenger door is unlocked. Huh... I wonder how that worked.

So I run around to the passenger side and climb in. My first thought is to put the fob in the ignition and try to start it up; maybe that will make the crazy stop. Nope. The van starts up beautifully, however it is still having it's temper tantrum. I push the unlock button on the door console, which does nothing, so I use the handle to open the door.

Now what?!? In about 5 more minutes there is going to be angry mob of pajama-clad people coming out of their houses, and I have no idea how many of them own firearms!! I've got to get away from the neighborhood and figure out the next step.

So, I put it in drive and pull away. Horn blowing. Wipers flailing. Lights flashing. I am a mobile air-raid siren.

I drive approximately one mile to a hardware store. As I pull into the parking lot, I notice there is an early shopper in the parking lot; he watches me closely.

I swear I did not steal this vehicle! I have proof of ownership, although right now I may give it to you if it continues to act this way!

As I look for a good lamppost to park under (remember, it is still before sunrise) the crazy stops. No more blinking. No more honking. The wipers stop in the middle of the windshield.


So I put it in park and turn it off. And turn it back on. Completely normal, as if the past 5 minutes never happened.

Now what? Do I got to work? Do I call for a tow and become the brunt of some guy's joke for the rest of the week?

I nod to the early shopper as I pass him, I pull out of the parking lot, and I continue on towards work.  I call my husband and relay the "freak-out" of the van. I get on the highway and drive a couple of miles...

Wipers flail. Lights flash. Horn screams. But I get added bonuses this time: Wiper fluid sprays, Engine cuts off, and the Brakes apply. I was doing 70 mph on a major highway. Now I am starring in a horror movie. Thank goodness there were no other vehicles near me at this moment.

I steer the demon-ship to the shoulder and put it in park. This time, it will NOT start again. Not even a sputter. Dead engine, however everything else still seems to be working (screaming, flailing, spraying). I call my husband.

HELP ME! WHAT DO I DO? WHO DO I CALL? (Who will believe this?!?)

My husband can hear the crazy over the phone. So he tells me to call for a tow and he will circle back to come get me (he is on his way to work as well). As I'm pulling out the card to call for roadside assistance, the crazy stops. At least now I can hear myself think! I call for roadside assistance.  The automated system tries to tell me I'm in a difference state. Seriously?!? Finally, I speak with a human being. I did not relay the story, I just requested a tow. At the same time I am talking with the service, I text work to tell them I am having "car trouble;" this can not be explained in a text. The tow is arranged and I have 40 minutes to wait... 40 minutes alone with a van that is this close to speaking in tongues and spinning in circles.

At some point the silence gets to me so I take my chances and turn on the radio. At least that seems to work without negative consequences.

Once my husband arrives, he joins me in the van and calls the repair shop where our van goes for service under our extended warranty. Thankfully, they have just opened. My husband explains to the lead technician that our van will be towed there shortly and asks if we should come in to explain the problem. The tech tells him to just explain it over the phone. My husband tells him: we believe the van is possessed. He turns to me and asks me to explain how it started. I just motion for him to give the phone.

I have to give the tech credit: he did not laugh while he was on the phone with me. Granted, he may have pushed mute at some point while I was telling my story...

When I finished, he summarized the entire story. It sounded twice as ridiculous coming from him. "So now you refuse to drive it any further since it is Possessed." EXACTLY! Gotta love a tech with a sense of humor. He takes my contact information and tells me he will give me a call after running diagnostics and taking a look at everything.

The tow truck arrives. I wave good-bye to the Captain of Crazyland. My husband drives me to work. I'm an hour later than normal, but at least I got there.

It turns out the entire power module short-circuited. I guess if my power module blew-up, I'd act a bit crazy, too. The repair is covered under the warranty, the van is fixed and ready to go by 4:30. They arrange a rental car to come pick me up at work and I drive it to the repair shop. They know what time I would be there to pick it up. As I stood in line at the Cashier (there was one other person before me), I noticed all 4 techs at the repair desk looking at me.

I looked each one in the eye, and turned my attention back to the cashier. I will not share in your humor. Not today.

As I walk to my van, my footsteps become more hesitant... will it happen again?

Every time I drive my van, I feel a little bit of anxiety...

This will only heal with time.