Category Archives: Just stuff…

A Cure for Speaking Nerves


Good morning Everyone!

One emphasis in Kayla’s school district is public speaking. Almost every class requires each student to do presentations to the rest of the class. This poses quite a challenge for Kayla, who gets incredibly nervous before each presentation. Last night, we unexpectedly discovered a partial cure for her speaking nerves.

The mystery cure? Present Kayla with the real possibility that she will no longer have a car to drive.

Kayla’s car broke down last night on her way home from Wednesday night church in Montgomery, Alabama. We live in a small town east of Montgomery.

Kayla was due home at 8:15, and when 8:15 arrived without Kayla, I texted her to find out where she was. I got a return text that she was on her way but her car was “acting up.” (The phrase “my car is acting up” has the power to instill the same terror and annoyance in a parent’s heart as the words “Mom, I forgot to tell you” uttered at 9:45 p.m. on a Sunday evening.)

“Acting up” translated to the engine shaking violently and making a clicking sound while it was running with the battery light and engine light on and the temperature gauge on “H”. So we told her to pull over at a safe spot and we’d come get her and call AAA (because of course she didn’t have her AAA card with her in spite of having been told multiple times to keep it with her at all times when she was driving.)
The safe spot she found between Montgomery and our home town? The Piggly Wiggly at another town nowhere near where you would expect her to be. Through the use of a geometry that would befuddle Euclid, she is convinced that the shortest distance between the two points of Montgomery and home exists on the non-straight line of Montgomery to Town 1 (west), then from Town 1 to Town 2 (south), then back east to our town. Note: We have discussed the impractibility of this route before.
She couldn’t tell us how long the engine temperature had been on “H,” so we couldn’t tell her what the odds were that her engine had blown but we did have to prepare her for the possibility.

The end result? She only had room for so much dread and even though she was still nervous about her presentation, apparently the worry over the car took the edge off it somehow! Then, about an hour after the presentation, she found out that it was just the serpentine belt that had broken and she hadn’t managed to blow the engine after all.

It’s not a method I’d recommend using very often, but at least this one time when she needed it, it was there!

Have a great day!

Nancy

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Memory Triggers


Memory Triggers by Nancy Eady

The best writers in any genre use setting to create moods with a few deft sentences.  Their ability to create moods through language is amazing given the many different ways memories are evoked in people.

Take the example of a blooming pear tree.  February is winding to a close here in the deep South, and Spring is making an unseasonably warm appearance with the trees, shrubs and flowers blooming in swift succession.

The first signs of spring are the daffodils and the forsythia bushes, better known as yellowbells.  Shortly after or while they are blooming, the tulip trees burst out with their pink and white blooms, and then the pear trees.

The flowers of pear trees are white and small compared to the large tulip tree blooms but they still show up because nothing else much is blooming and because they fill up the entire tree.  A pear tree in bloom throws itself into the process.  It doesn’t dally, shilly-shally, or shyly peek forward a bloom at a time.  It personifies the verb “to blossom.”

Pear trees always remind me of my dad-in-law, who passed away in 2001.  This is an odd association in some ways, because he didn’t particularly love spring flowers or pears.  Like most people, he was always glad to see signs that spring was coming, but he didn’t rejoice in the flowers the way I do, the way that makes my teenage daughter look at me sideways and say, “Mom, get a grip.”

So where does the association come from?  For the five years I was in law school (I went part time, three nights a week with two summers off), he and my Mom-in-law fed me supper every night I had class – and they were happy to do so.  They enjoyed having me there.  One day in March in the mid-90’s during supper, Mark’s Dad mentioned to me that he had seen some of the white flowered trees blooming in a field.  He said they were dogwoods, but I was pretty sure it was too early for the dogwoods to have started.  So I drove by the field that afternoon on my way to school, and realized that he was talking about the wild pear trees that had colonized the abandoned field and turned what would otherwise have been an eyesore into an attractive harbinger of spring.

I don’t know what makes that memory stand out, but ever since then, when I see the pear trees in bloom, I not only celebrate the nearness of spring, but also remember fondly a man who meant a great deal to me.

What sights and sounds do you see that trigger memories in you?

Note:  This post was first posted Monday, February 26, on the Writers Who Kill blog.  If you find it interesting and are curious, take a trip to www.writerswhokill.blogspot.com and see what my fellow bloggers and mystery writers have on their minds.  And for those of you who gave me advice on which picture to choose to demonstrate my nefariousness, you’ll see my selection on the left hand side of the page at the bottom.
Have a good day everyone!
Nancy

Please Help Me Make A Decision!


Hello Everyone!

Over at Writers Who Kill, I need to submit a photograph of myself doing something nefarious.  As a champion procrastinator, I’ve known I’ve needed to add my own picture for months, but there is one giant obstacle – I am the least nefarious person I know.  It’s beyond just looking harmless.  People stop me in stores to ask for help when they can’t locate an employee.  When I was among the 10 to 15 people who walked around the local junior college on a daily basis for exercise, I was the one whom strangers pulled up beside to ask for directions.  Unfortunately for them, I’m not great at giving directions.  In the pre-Google-map era, I sent an attorney trying to find my office past our town to another, smaller town 18 miles to our northeast.

I digress.  The point is that I am harmless and look helpful, which on a scale from 1 to 10 places my nefariousness somewhere around -5.  Then there’s the whole inferiority complex sparked by the creativity of my fellow bloggers.  I am still star struck by the other writers who blog for Writers Who Kill and the amusingly nefarious pictures on the left hand side of that blog page (https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2019/01/decision-by-nancy-eady.html).

          But I had to find some way to look nefarious.  So I started by taking a selfie wielding a knife.  The result?  I bear an uncanny resemblance to the Swedish Chef on the Muppets.

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The Swedish Chef

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The Steak Knife and Me



Since I found the selfie unimpressive, I decided to think through things a little more, and enlisted my husband to help me.  After rummaging through our hall closet (since it’s distantly related to Fibber McGee’s closet, that counts as hazardous duty), we came up with another idea to establish nefariousness.

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The dog in the foreground does rather spoil the effect, but she’s our “helper” dog and insists on being involved with everything.  However, with the magic of modern technology, she is easily edited out, leaving me with the following:

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          My husband said the picture would look better if I wasn’t smiling, so we tried again.  You will note that the dog still found it necessary to be in the picture.

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Cropped, the final result comes out like this:

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So, gentle readers, which picture is the best candidate for nefariousness?  I could use your advice!

Have a great day Everyone!

Nancy

 

 

 

 

A Mind Like A Steel Sieve


Good morning Everyone!

Today, over at Writers Who Kill, I blog about having a mind like a steel sieve.  If you have a minute, go visit at https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2018/09/a-mind-like-steel-sieve-by-nancy-eady.html.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

Re-Reading Books


Good morning Everyone!

Today, over at the Writers Who Kill blog, I talk about the books that I love to read over and over again.  Come join the conversation at https://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2018/08/deja-vu-all-over-again-by-nancy-eady.html

Have a great day!

Nancy

Knitting and Writing


Good morning Everyone!

Have you ever wondered what knitting and writing have in common?  If so, check out my blog post on the Writers Who Kill Blog at the following link: Combinations

Have a great day!

Nancy

A Talented Attachment


Good morning Everyone!

Vacuum Cleaner, Messy Room

http://www.clickartonline.com Copyright Protected All Rights Reserved

Saturday, I couldn’t find the floor piece for the new canister vacuum cleaner.  Kayla had been the last person to use it two weeks earlier.  (We were out-of-town the weekend before).  Kayla swore she put it back in the slot on the machine and it must have fallen out somewhere.

So I looked.  In order to look everywhere the vacuum cleaner had been, I had to clean out the hall closet, under the laundry room sink and the corner of the laundry room beside the washer where we had various mops, brooms and dusters jumbled together.  I found 2 card games, 5 hats, 8 coats, 2 vests, 3 rolls of wall paper border, 10 rolls of shelf paper, cleaning chemicals galore, 1 acoustic guitar and the box where everything I wrote while I was in high school is stored, but no floor piece.

We finally found the floor piece in the cupboards ABOVE the laundry room sink.  Apparently, it fell off the vacuum, leapt up six feet, opened the cupboard door so it could sit on the second shelf and then closed the door behind it.

As one of my sisters said, “that is quite a talented attachment!”

Have a great day!

Nancy

Mom-in-law


Hello Everyone!

One day several years ago, my husband and I were visiting his parents when Mark’s Mom and Dad began to debate the cost of the dining room set (table, chairs and china cabinet) they had purchased some 40 to 50 years earlier.  Once the debate progressed to a certain point, Mark’s Mom announced she would prove that she was right.  She stood up, walked out of the room, came back into the room with a pleated cardboard folder, opened the pleats, put her hand one time into a particular spot and pulled out the receipt for said furniture.  (For the record, she remembered the price correctly before checking.)  Mark’s eyes were dancing, but I dissolved into laughter right there in the den.  When she asked me what was so funny, I explained that she had attained a level of organization I could never hope to attain.

Another favorite story is the time she had to go out of town to Andalusia (Alabama, not Spain) for something, which is usually a full day’s trip.  To surprise her, my Dad-in-law pulled all of the furniture out of the dining room, including the removal of all of the china from the china cabinet, and painted the dining room for her.  The paint job was perfect.  He then very carefully put everything back in the room, put the china back in the cabinet exactly the way it came out, and had the room looking spectacular.  When she came home, what she noticed was that the china cabinet was off-center by one inch, whereupon he emptied the china cabinet once more to put the cabinet where she wanted it.

Then there was the day that Mark’s dad decided to replace the baseboards in the kitchen.  He had been talking about this project for a while, and Mark had already offered to bring down his portable mitre saw to help him when he got ready to do it – all we asked was that he let us know in advance so we could plan.  Mark’s mom called us that Saturday morning, speaking just barely above a whisper, to let us know his dad had decided to go forward with Project Baseboard on his own, and she really thought he might need some help.  We threw the mitre saw in the car and drove down to Montgomery from Alexander City, about an hour’s drive, and sure enough, the mitre saw came in handy.

I don’t know how fond of me she was when Mark and I first started dating, although she predicted that I would be the one he married because my birthday was December 27.   This was not based on astrology, which she had little time for, but on the fact that her daughter had married a man whose birthday is December 23, and her son married a woman whose birthday is December 22.  She was right.  By the time we got married, she loved me dearly and ever since we got married she always treated me like I was one of her own children.

During the five years I was in law school at night, she fed me supper three times a week when school was in session – their house was just down the street from my law school, and the only way my schedule worked was for me to leave straight from work, grab something to eat at her house, then head over to school.

I never once walked into her house without being welcomed by her special smile, a hug, and the comment, “My, how pretty you look.”  And even though I know for a fact that I didn’t always look pretty, I never doubted for a minute that she meant it.

When Mark’s Dad died in 2001, she had to learn to live on her own.  It wasn’t easy for her, but I admired the courage that it took for her to take each step forward in rebuilding her life.

When Kayla came to live with us December 1, 2004, she fell in love with her immediately.  I can remember the first time she baby-sat for us – we had warned her in advance that three year olds and sugary foods did not mix well.  When we came back to pick Kayla up, Kayla was bouncing off the walls and ceiling.  Mark’s mom looked just like a kid whose hand was caught in the cookie jar as she confessed that she had “only” given Kayla a piece of chocolate cake and some candy.  We laughed about it; there is, after all, a reason that what happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s.

She hated having her picture taken and the number of pictures we have of her smiling is very limited – you had to take the picture when she didn’t know you were taking it and she was concentrating on something else.  I am very proud that I have some.

Here she is with Kayla on the first Halloween Kayla was with us:

Kayla's first Halloween

And here is a picture I took when the entire family got to meet Andy and Anne’s first-born child, Carter, her first great-grandchild.

Mom Eady meets Carter

She fell and broke her hip in 2016, and things were never the same for her afterwards.  She passed away this past year right after Christmas.  Everyone in her family, including me, misses her and we grieve but there is part of us too that is grateful that she is out of pain and reunited with Mark’s Dad.  And, of course, all of us believe that we will see her again some day.

So sadly I say “au revoir” to my Mom-in-law, say a silent prayer of thanksgiving for her entry into the next great adventure, and look forward to the day when I see her again, and she smiles at me and says once again,”My, how pretty you look!”

Have a great day.

Nancy

A Trip to the Montgomery Zoo


Like all mothers and daughters, Kayla and I have things the two of us like to do together.  One of those is going to the zoo.  Fortunately for us, the nearby city of Montgomery, Alabama has an excellent zoo.

Kayla did roll her eyes at me when we walked up to the zoo one day early this summer and I started by taking this picture of the entrance.

The Montgomery Zoo entrance

Entrance to the Montgomery Zoo

She thought that taking a picture of the entrance, even for my blog, was overkill. I told her it was my blog, not hers. Since our next stop was the parakeet enclosure, and I sprang for several seed sticks to feed the parakeets, she forgave me.

Because we were at the Zoo entrance almost as soon as the gates opened, the parakeets were hungry, and we had no trouble coaxing them to come eat from the sticks. At one point, we had six to seven birds each trying to reach the seed sticks, keeping both of us too busy to take photographs.

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The peacocks wander freely throughout the zoo grounds.  This proud fellow obligingly provided us with a full display of his plumage.

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Another of the first areas you walk through at the zoo is an aviary which includes several species of birds, including this scarlet ibis, and

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this duck.

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The aviary even had a turtle in it laying her eggs.

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Kayla’s favorites are the monkeys; the spider monkeys’ enclosure lies just beyond the aviary.

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This monkey seemed to have a lot on his mind,

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while this one was just hanging around.  (Yes, I know, it’s a bad pun but someone has to say it.)

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There was a family of ducks enjoying the moat around the spider monkey enclosure.  The group of ducklings above were swimming, anxiously watched by the parents (pictured below) who were watching from the rail protecting the enclosure.  The “accidental” zoo residents sometimes are as fascinating as the official zoo residents.

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Here is one of the Zoo’s pygmy hippos, Lola.  Although the pygmy hippo is from Africa, Lola and her calf, Monty, born in 2016, live in a special enclosure in the South American section to give them some additional space and attention.

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Roosters and chickens roam freely through the zoo grounds, just like the peacocks.  I thought this rooster’s coloring was spectacular.   Kayla rolled her eyes at me again for taking his picture.

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Here is one of the Zoo’s lemurs.

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One of the Zoo’s rarer animals is this maned wolf from South America.  He obviously was not ready to wake up yet.

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Here is a condor.

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The jaguar was sleepy, too.

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Here is a wallaby mama and her joey.

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The North American section includes the bald eagles, the otters (which unfortunately were not out to play on this day) and various deer, elk and buffalo.)

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The zoo also has an attraction which lets you feed the giraffes, so I bought Kayla and I each treats for the giraffes.  Only two of the four giraffes were interested this morning, the baby giraffe and his mother.

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In a move mothers everywhere will understand and cheer, Mama got a bit impatient with Junior’s attempt to hoard all the special treats, and came around to the side to be sure she got her share.

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This is where she first realized what Junior was up to.

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The zoo has a kiddie train ride that travels all the way around it; even if it is just kid stuff, the two of us always ride it.  On a really hot day, the breeze the train generates while it makes it rounds feels cool.  I let Kayla hold the camera during the ride, but this was one of only two pictures she took.  I’m not sure if she was bored at this moment. DSCN0339

This lake is part of the zoo grounds, too.  It formed in the remnants of the old quarry that make up part of the zoo lands.  It gives the zoo plenty of room for expansion.

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Then last, but not least, on this particular day, we were able to get this striking stork’s photograph in the Asia section on our way out.

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This is just a sampling of the animals at the Montgomery Zoo; they also have bears, tigers, lions, elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos and reptiles to mention just some of the things we didn’t get to that day.  In addition to the parakeet enclosure, the train ride and the giraffe feeding station, the zoo also has a skyride over the zoo and a petting area.

The residents of Montgomery, a city with a population of just over 220,000 people, are lucky to have such a zoo and far-sighted enough to fund it.  And I’m lucky to have a daughter who, even at the age of 15, is willing to go to the zoo with me!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

Streak


Hello Everyone!

I solemnly swear that the story I am about to share with you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  You need that reassurance in advance, because otherwise it might be hard to believe.

This year is our 30th anniversary, and we were planning on celebrating it by taking the camper to Charleston for a few days over Memorial Day weekend.  Mark was getting ready to bring the camper from storage for us to clean it up for the trip a couple of weekends in advance of that date but as he started to crank it up, the levelers went crazy (automatic levelers on a Class A motor home do exactly what it sounds like they do – the make sure the coach is level when the motor home is stationary).  They fully extended and refused to do anything else.  With some difficulty, we figured out how to manually retract the levelers (hint:  you really don’t want to try it without a power drill to crank with!) and disable them.  We reluctantly cancelled the Charleston trip, put the camper in the shop and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

When we put the camper in the shop, we explained to the service people that we had a trip planned over the Fourth of July weekend to the beach, so we really needed the camper back before then.  It wasn’t fixed by the Fourth, but the beach is relatively flat so we decided we would be okay to take it back out of the shop for just that trip and then return it afterwards – and to be fair, we didn’t notice the lack of levelers the entire trip.

Now press pause.  Here’s the thing – we never travel on the Fourth of July weekend.  I hate it; it is too crowded wherever you try to go, too busy and too hectic, but for whatever reason in a fit of insanity Mark and I decided we would go to Gulf Shores over the Fourth of July weekend.  We also arranged for my Mom to come with the two of us and Kayla in our camper, and to meet one of my sisters, her husband and her daughter down there – they have a travel trailer.  We thought it would be fine.  And it would have been.  Except – press “resume” now –

My sister’s crew was going to leave the Friday before the Fourth of July from North Alabama and arrive at the beach that day.  We were going to leave that Saturday since the beach is much closer to us than it is to them.  So Saturday morning, Mark and I, Kayla and my Mom were safely tucked into our motor home and headed south towards the beach in heavy, but tolerable, traffic when we got a text from my sister about 10 a.m.  They had gotten a late start the night before, ended up spending some time sleeping at a rest area and were about 30 minutes from the beach when their truck died.  They had called a wrecker and were waiting for it.

We got the next text about 15 minutes later.  The wrecker had arrived; its operator had gotten the truck to start by hitting the alternator with a hammer, but he was going to follow them into town to the nearest (open) mechanic’s shop to be sure they got there safely.  The next word we got, maybe 10 minutes later, was that the first place they had gone to did not have a mechanic on duty, so they were going to try a different place.  About 10 minutes after that, my sister let us know that the tow truck following them had just been hit by someone who was DUI and had drug paraphernalia in her vehicle.  Once that was sorted out with the police, my sister’s family and the tow truck continued their trek over to an auto parts store which we will call, for convenience sake and purely incidentally resembling the name of an existing chain, O’Raley’s Auto Parts Store.  O’Raley’s did have mechanics on duty, but they weren’t highly motivated to work on the truck – until it died again in front of the bays they use to fix vehicles, at which point O’Raley’s decided to help.  Which was great, except that O’Raley’s didn’t have the exact alternator that they needed in stock, which meant that the O’Raley’s people ended up trying three different places before they could find the part they needed.

About 1:00 that afternoon when we were 45 minutes from the beach, we got a text from my sister that the truck was fixed and they were headed on to the campground.  At which point we all heaved a huge sigh of relief and began to relax.  Until about 10 minutes later.

Kayla started shouting “Stop!  Stop!  Stop!”  She had been watching the rear view camera.  Apparently, the front end of the Hyundai Veloster that we towed behind us had decided to detach itself from the rest of the vehicle, something none of us had seen before.  We pulled over.  Fortunately, the break happened on a local road while traffic was going slow, so the towing safeguards held stuff together enough that no-one around us got hurt.

Veloster Commits Hari Kari

We called the police, who came out to prepare what is called an “incident” report.  They couldn’t do an accident report because there was no other car involved.

While the police were working with us, a couple of cars in the left hand lane decided to collide into each other.  We think maybe they were watching us instead of each other.  So the policeman stuck with working on the Saturday before the Fourth of July was much busier than he might have been otherwise.

After about 45 minutes, the policeman was done with us, the tow truck driver called by AAA had arrived and taken the Veloster off with him, and we resumed our drive.  Now short one car, we decided to rent one for the weekend.  However, it was 2:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the Fourth of July in small town Alabama, and no one was open except for one Avis Rent-A-Car place in Daphne, 30 minutes away from us in normal traffic – and the beach traffic on this weekend was anything but!  Plus they closed at three.  My brother-in-law grabbed Mark as soon as we got into the campground, and the two of them dashed off in his truck to get the car, arriving at the Avis place at 3:00 on the dot, where the kind young man at the counter took pity on them and helped.

Meanwhile, back at the campground, Mom, Kayla, my sister and her daughter decided to go to the pool.  I stayed behind at the camper to try to regain some semblance of equanimity, slightly perturbed by the events of the day.  While doing so, I decided to put the chicken for supper that night out to thaw.  I deduced that it would thaw more quickly outdoors, so carried it out there to put it on the picnic table, but then decided it would be safer from bugs if I put it inside the grill to thaw.  Pulling the grill open, I saw some spots that needed to be cleaned, so turned back to go in the camper to get what I needed  – and discovered I had locked myself out of the camper.  I sat outside at the picnic table for a while but July in Alabama is not the time to stay outdoors without any water, so ended up going to the pool, where my sister took pity on me and brought me back to her trailer while we waited for Mark and my brother-in-law to return.

Once they got back with the car and the camper was unlocked, everyone took a deep breath and started to finally relax. We enjoyed dinner together, and even went to bed a little early.   After all, it had been a stressful day getting down there, but we were finally there, set up and able to rest.  Until 2:30 a.m. that morning.

I woke up or Mark woke me up because the electricity in our camper was dead.  Normally, this is not a big deal – a breaker just trips somewhere and needs to be reset.  Not this weekend, though.  Whatever was wrong with our electrical system was systemic and not going to be fixed by something as easy as a flipped circuit breaker.  By 3:30 a.m., Kayla and Mom had woken up too.  We conceded defeat and agreed that we were going to have to head back home the next day.  My sister and her family were disappointed, but understood.  However, we still needed to return the rental car so Mark and I decided that he and Mom would ride in the motor home to the nearest Avis drop-off spot, while Kayla and I took the rental car, swung through the nearest McDonald’s to get breakfast and then met them there, dropping the car off and the key in the night box.

Because the Avis return lot was not a great place for a motor home to enter or turn around in, Mark and Mom waited for us in the next parking lot over.  Kayla and I had to walk around a small ditch to reach them, which wasn’t a big deal.  When we reached the parking lot, we had to walk beside an old, battered motor home that looked like it hadn’t been moved for at least a decade.  Suddenly, Kayla shrieked, and so I shrieked in sympathy.  The cause of the distress?  A black cat, probably as startled by us as we were by it, had scuttled out from under the decrepit  motor home in front of us.

I’ll spare you the rest of this summer’s journey, which included another trip to the motor home repair shop, an engine mount bracket breaking on our 2012 Ford Escape and additional camper repairs that we did ourselves until we finally got the motor home back to tip-top condition about two weeks ago.

All’s well that ends well – a trite statement but a true one.  Now that the dust has finally settled, Mark has a new car, Kayla will inherit the repaired 2012 Ford Escape once she passes her driver’s exam and we hope to use the camper soon, but I really hope our streak of repairs is over with for now.

Mark's New car

Mark’s New-To-Him Car

Kayla's New Car

Kayla’s Car

And it should go without saying but for clarity’s sake I emphasize the following –  I will NOT be traveling on the Fourth of July weekend again any time soon.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy