Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mama's Birthday Weekend

March 18, 2008

“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”
-- William Feather

Wow, what an interesting weekend we have had! I guess the key word here is ‘interesting’ - - - or should I replace that with ‘eventful’? Here’s the rundown.

Thursday, March 13 –

When I went to pick up Lola from her after-school program she showed me the “ow” on her knee and told me she had fallen down while running on the playground. She seemed to be quite brave about it but I could tell it hurt. The counselors there had disinfected it and put a bandage on it so she was ready to come home. They said they were very impressed that she didn’t cry! ☺ The upside of this day was that she found out she received an “A-PLUS, One Hundred Percent” on her atom model for science! WOO-HOO! She was quite proud of that!! As of today, the knee is looking much better, but she has a bit of a bruise there as well as the scrape.

Friday, March 14 –

This day was a teachers’ workday so Lola had no school. I took the day off work as well. Lola wanted to visit my friends at the office and go to the mall for lunch and to look at the cool fun things at the Apple Computer store, so off we went.

Upon returning home, as I pulled into the garage my car jerked as if it had run over something in the driveway. I looked under the car, but nothing was there, so of course I didn’t think anything of it. A little while later we decided to drive to Marta to ride the train to the Home Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. The car decided it wasn’t going anywhere (not even in reverse unless forced to do so). It finally jerked back in reverse, then dragged forward in drive, all the while sounding like it had a Sherman tank lodged in the undercarriage dragging stubbornly on the pavement. I decided to take the poor thing back to the garage to let it rest. Since we had already made plans to attend the Home Show and had purchased tickets in advance I figured the car issue could wait until the next day.

We rode the bus, then the train to the Home Show at about 3:30pm. We were pretty much done at the show by 7:15 so we walked over to the Embassy Suites Hotel to rest our feet and have refreshments. We left there at about 8:15pm to hop the train home. During the time we were in the train traveling mostly underground, we were unaware that a massive thunderstorm was brewing nearby. When we rode the train to the end of the line and got on the bus, the rain had begun. Luckily we both packed umbrellas so the walk home from the bus stop was not a problem. I’m guessing it was about 9:00 when we actually got in the door of our house. Since it was a Friday night, I figured Lola could stay up a bit later, and she seemed anxious to watch the news on TV. Since we have had our share of rain and thunderstorms lately, she has been quite intrigued by the weather maps and meteorology. So at 10:00 we turned on the local news and learned that at 9:45pm an EF2 tornado had hit downtown Atlanta - - in fact, the exact neighborhood where we were earlier - -!! Lola and I looked at each other and in an instant we both knew that we were blessed to have left downtown when we did. There was extensive damage to many buildings, homes and hotels, and as far as the authorities can tell, there was no one killed. What a blessing, since the World Congress Center had several conventions, including the Home Show, and Philips Arena had the 2008 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament in progress. Apparently at the time the tornado hit, the game was about to go in overtime so most everyone was still somewhat safe in the stadium…

Saturday, March 15 –

Lola and I woke up early and urged the car to limp over to the mechanic, which luckily is only a couple blocks away. Lola had a horseback riding lesson that morning and my friend Kimmi was thankfully available to play chauffeur. As Lola and I walked home from the mechanic she turned to me and said, “Mama, today you happy birthday! Sorry you birthday YUCK - - poor car at car hospital….” I gave her the biggest hug and told her “I am so happy to have you here with me for my birthday and it’s ok about the car. It will get fixed and be ok and we’ll still have fun on my birthday. We have a party tonight, remember?”

Later while we were at home the mechanic called and said the car’s problem was the transmission and they don’t do transmission work but instead referred me to a place they do business with a lot who does great work and keeps the cost reasonably low. I made arrangements with AAA to have my car towed to the transmission place and called over there to advise they would be getting my car in an hour or two.

Kimmi came to get us a bit later for Lola’s horseback riding lesson (more on horseback riding in general in a later entry) and after the lesson we had lunch. During lunch the transmission mechanic called and confirmed there were some parts of the transmission that were causing my problems. He also said due to the car being a Volkswagen, it was going to be more costly to fix, due to the parts needed were quite high-priced. While driving a VW for the last three years I have come to realize when they need repairs, it is necessary in some cases to go anywhere else but the VW dealership, because at VW not only are the parts expensive but the labor cost is twice what anyone else charges. The transmission guy said the car may be ready on the following Friday, so Kimmi, Lola and I decided to go on a quest for a rental car.

I called around and found a fairly reasonable price for a weekly rental that was nearby the restaurant, so after lunch Kimmi drove us over to get a rental car. I had chosen the economy car and trust me, it is most definitely economy. Lola and I talked about how we were so spoiled by having the VW with heated leather seats, a convertible top, automatic door locks and automatic windows, remote trunk access and how this car was sooooooo different (Kia Rio – cute car, but no bells and whistles - - oh, wait - - it does have air-conditioning, which Lola happily pointed out). We bid Kimmi farewell and thank you and then hopped in our rental and drove to the transmission place to talk with the mechanic and get a few essentials out of the VW.

Lola got in the drivers seat of the VW hugged the steering wheel and said “Hi, Car……poor Car…..I love you, Car!” Then she retrieved 1) the hand sanitizer 2) her cell phone charger and 3) her Scooby-Doo sweatshirt and put them in the rental car. I retrieved 1) my car stereo 2) bottled water and 3) my cell phone charger. She was worried about the VW and didn’t want to leave it all alone in a strange place. I told her the man in the office said he would put the car back in the garage once we have the stuff we needed, so the car would be safe and happy.

We had just arrived home and put the rental car in the garage when a (another!!) giant thunderstorm began and once in the house we heard a change in the sound of the rain hitting the roof. I looked outside and there were very small hailstones falling. I called Lola over to look at the “ice” falling and not long afterward, the hailstones were getting bigger and the wind was noticeably blowing the hail sideways onto the windows. As it got louder and louder, Lola and I went into the stairwell (the only place with NO windows) and waited it out. She snuggled into my lap and hugged me tightly and said, “Mama, I’m scary!!!” In spite of the hail now sounding like it was going to plow through every window in my house, I had to laugh. I said “Lola, I understand what you are telling me. But SCARY is what is happening outside - - - you are SCARED. Okay? Scary rain outside, but Lola is scared.”

She giggled and then said “Ok, Mama SCARY !! HA HA HA HA!! No, Mama not scary. Mama scared?” I told here maybe a little, but I was more scared for the windows. Then she suddenly looked panicked and said “Mama, VW car ok? Car outside!! Oh, poor car!!” I told her that the VW was ok and in a garage safe from the hail.

After two minutes the hailstone barrage ceased and the sun immediately came out as if what had occurred was some mirage we all had imagined. Lola ran outside to get a look at the hail and said “Wow, very very very big ice! No, HUGE ICE!” while holding up what looked like a misshapen ping-pong ball. The ground was covered with a blanket of large hailstones. Luckily there were no broken windows or damage to the house. We gathered up two of the hailstones and they now reside in our freezer for posterity.

The party that evening was fun!! Kimmi made us dinner and I made blini (oh, and by the way, with the advice of one of my Russian friends at the office I was able to successfully create blini with the correct thinness!! WOO-HOO!! Kimmi had made a red velvet cake and Lola was in cake heaven - - she was begging for the recipe!

Sunday, March 16th
"After a storm comes a calm." -- Matthew Henry (1662 - 1714)
Blissfully calm and quiet! Thank you, Lord, for these last few days to show us how wonderful it is to be still!

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