Monday, January 17, 2011

Looking for a new start...

In addition to humans, Curtis is also great at bringing fires to life...

It has been cold the past several days. Really cold. It didn't break zero degrees at our house all weekend, and when we drove to church around 10am Sunday morning it was -16. Thanks to these superbly chilling temperatures, one of our vehicles hasn't been starting so well. Or at all.

One of the best things about our latest residence is that we have one garage slot. The problem is we have two vehicles: one a shiny, new specimen that I picked out in 48 hours last summer when an unexpected collision left us without our trusty Honda Civic; the second a tried and true suburban that was purchased when my brother was born. Have I mentioned that my brother is in high school? This is the truck I learned to drive in, the truck I slid through red lights in on icy nights in high school, the truck that we took road trips in when I was a child.

While one of our vehicles starts like a charm, even when left outside all day in below zero temperatures while we live in snow caves, the other, well, let's just say she is not a huge fan of sub-zero temperatures. Whenever the temperature gets really cold, the old 'burb needs a jump start--sometimes a really long one.

Sunday morning Curtis went out to start the 'burb to give it a bit of a warm up and found it to be unwilling to cooperate. The engine would turn over a little, but the fluids were frozen or something and the vehicle would not be persuaded to come to life. After over an hour of connection to our young, perky car, the old lady would still not come to life, and Curtis set out for the local auto parts store for some inspiration.

When he returned he was in possession of all sorts of toxic chemicals intended to provide the jump start we needed in our frigid temperatures, which were still below zero--even in the heat of what was now afternooon. Every so often I would get a call from Curtis up to where I was in our warm condo, making chili and organizing tax documents, to come down and aid him in his latest method of reviving the 'burb. To no avail I revved both engines while he sprayed highly flammable contents on this fan or that gizmo, sucking the water out of the gas and trying to heat all sorts of important things.

(At one point the thought passed through my mind that as amateurs we might end up setting something {ourselves?} on fire with all these chemicals, and when it was all said and done I'm pretty sure the consensus would be that it wasn't worth it.)

Despite the flamable chemicals and the jump start from our newer, sleeker vehicle, we were left looking for new options. Perhaps, we theorized, if we could get the suburban into the garage to sit overnight, it would come back to life. After all, what woman doesn't love a nice spa treatment to feel revitalized? Curtis called his brother, who brought over a couple spare tires to help move the oversized vehicle into the coveted garage slot. I was once again beckoned into the cold, where I was given the important task of directing the vehicle into our slot and NOT into the neighbor's shiny SUV, all while battling a lack of power steering.

It was a very intense moment.

Once the suburban had been pushed and prodded into the warmth of the garage, we left her to sit while we ventured to my mom's house for dinner. Three hours later, we optimistically tried to start the warming vehicle to no avail. Apparently three hours wasn't enough to thaw out. This morning (a morning that I ironically should get to sleep in, since it's a school holiday) I woke at 6am when Curtis's alarm beckoned him out of bed. I lay in bed trying to "sleep" while I listened to him dress, scarf some breakfast and ready for the day. Then I strained my hearing for news from the garage two floors below--would the old lady come to life this morning?

The sound of our heating (working overtime in this frigid spell) was masking any sounds from the garage, and after ten minutes of pretending to sleep while everything in me was dying to know if the vehicle turned on I put on several layers to venture down to the garage in the -19 temperature of the morning.

No luck; apparently the spa treatment wasn't enough.

I climbed into the 'burb to turn the key several times while Curtis tried the flammable chemical concoction to no avail. And when it was obvious that a heated garage had not fixed the ancient vehicle, we closed up shop, disconnected the jumper cables, replaced the hoods, and jumped in our dependable vehicle so I could drop Curtis off at the hospital.

The vehicle still sits in our garage, and I will probably secretly sneak down to try my hand at coaxing the suburban into turning on this afternoon, mostly so that I can be the hero when Curtis gets home. What better way to show that a day off from school has been productive and worthwhile than to turn on the car with no assistance that he labored over for hours yesterday afternoon?

Meanwhile, I hope that a twelve hour shift at the hospital brings lots of productive life-saving measures for Curtis. Because even though he may be totally unknowledgeable at what makes automobiles tick, he has had way too much schooling on humans.

And sometimes, you just need a win.


  1. Getting up on a day off to go out into sub-zero temps to try and get a Suburban to fire up makes you, definitively, the best wife ever!

  2. How is the Suburban doing? Any news?

    All I can say is I am SO thankful things have warmed up! That was just plain brutal for a few days there!