Saturday, December 23, 2006

What We're Getting for Christmas

My hubby and I have a unique Christmas gift system. He buys what he wants & puts it under the tree, and I buy what I want & put it under the tree. We consider the gifts to be from each other, essentially. It saves a lot of his precious time going to the weaving store and trying to figure out what the heck a Wolf Trap is, and saves me the the time of trying to find a fish hook puller suitable for halibut, and visual fish attractant which, I gather, is like Smelly Jelly but without the smell. I know we'll both be happy.

As for our other gift, it's a rather long story so hang on. . . We went to Seattle for Doug's annual meeting early in December. Seattle is about a two hour drive from Bellingham, where we live. This is a trip I always enjoy, because I am left to my own devices to get some Christmas shopping done, visit the Pike Place Market, and explore yarn and weaving stores in the area. My first day was spent doing the aforementioned Christmas shopping (Macy's downtown has a nice "petites" department & I can always find something for Mom there) and savoring the festive decorations and spirit. My plan was to spend Saturday leisurely browsing Weaving Works, Hilltop Yarns, and Acorn Street Yarn Shop. So Saturday morning I set out. We were staying in the W Hotel downtown, a very trendy, contemporary, smaller hotel across the street from Doug's meeting. I called for the car, and when I arrived at the garage. . . no Eduardo (my VW Diesel Beetle's name). The attendant was unable to get him started, so I wandered down the ramp with the attendant, a battery pack & jumper cables to attempt to jump start the car. No luck. This had never happened before. Not with Eduardo.

Doug was in his meeting til just after noon. When he finished, he gave it a try, too, and again, no luck. The car was parked in the hotel's underground parking lot, a driveway narrowly spiraling downward with low overhead clearance, otherwise known as "the bowels of the earth". There was no way a tow truck could get down there. Other cars were arriving and exiting at irregular intervals, and a few taxis were lined up along the street. It was a busy place. So we called AAA (Thank God for American Automobile Association), who dispatched a service truck immediately. In the meantime, we tried to find a VW Dealership with a service department in Seattle which was actually open on Saturday afternoon. First one called wasn't open on Saturday. The second one was open but we needed to leave a voicemail message which, to this date, has not been returned. The third dealership, Carter Volkswagen in Ballard (where I grew up) was open, with an *actual person* answering the phone. They would be most happy to take a look at Eduardo, and they were open until 5 p.m.

The AAA service vehicle arrived nearly two hours later, a busy day for them. The driver was most chipper and reassuring, and he and Doug, using a towing strap, managed to maneuver the car out of the parking garage & onto the street, temporarily usurping the parking space of a taxi. This took a great deal of coordination on the part of the parking lot staff, incoming and outgoing traffic, and fortunately everybody cooperated, for the most part, willingly. Then we awaited the arrival of a flatbed truck to take Eduardo to Carter VW in Ballard. This (humogous beast of a) vehicle arrived promptly and with a moderate amount of effort, and again, the coordination of the garage staff in directing vehicles out of the way, the car was loaded & ready to depart.

We arrived at Carter VW about 4:00, an hour before the service department was to close. Two people who worked there were particularly helpful. Danielle, the receptionist, was friendly & welcoming, and very understanding of our predicament. Chris truly thought it must be a simple fix, and pulled many tricks out of his hat to try & get Eduardo started again. . . without any success. So at that point we realized that we would need to leave the car there for further evaluation & repair, and we also needed to get home. Rental cars are not easy to come by in Seattle on late Saturday afternoons (unless you're at the airport. . . plenty of cars there. . . the airport is at the other end of town). So we unloaded our suitcases & shopping bags from the car, called our future daughter-in-law, and asked her to please drive down & pick us up. They live about an hour away from Ballard. I had visions of us, a pair of vagabonds, sitting on our suitcases outside in the chilly evening air, awaiting her arrival, but as it turned out, the showroom was open until 7 p.m. We didn't have to wait outside.

While we were waiting for Robin to arrive, we thought we'd kill time by looking around the showroom & on the lot. . . Any used diesel VW Jetta station wagons? Doug had been looking at those online, since our Subaru had gone to live with the kids. No. Any used diesel Jetta anything? No. A new diesel Jetta was on the lot, but it was already spoken for, we were told. But we could take a look. We had an hour, anyway, so what the heck. . . When the salesman came back with the key, he said it was available, after all. By 5 p.m., after a brief test drive, we bought ourselves a car. So we phoned Robin & told her she didn't need to come after all. A bit stunned, she turned around & went back home.

As we watched a video about our new car and awaited the keys, the manager of the dealership arrived. Ahem. A bit of a problem had occurred. The detail person accidentally put gasoline into the tank of our new diesel Jetta. The error was discovered immediately, we were told, before the motor had been started. So no harm had come to the car as the gasoline had not gotten any farther than the tank. The tank would need to be drained & flushed, and this could be easily done, except that the service department was closed at that point until Monday. So, another flatbed truck was dispatched to bring that vehicle back to the dealership.

The story does have a happy ending. A rather *expensive* happy ending, as Eduardo's repairs were $arm + $leg, but happy nonetheless. Both vehicles were appropriately serviced, and Carter VW delivered both to our house in Bellingham, where they picked up our service loaner & drove back to Ballard. We now have all diesel vehicles and use biodiesel fuel in them all. :-)

Merry Christmas!

p.s. I'm still working on Christmas knitting.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Felines, Oh Oh Oh Felines