Posted by: navalanche | April 30, 2011

March mayhem

The month of March (and most of April) has been a little crazier than usual which derailed my decluttering plans.  There were car problems, college visits, more car problems, income taxes (Kat, Erika, Luke and my own), sewer problems and even moles.  As always these stories are long so I’ll give a not so brief overview of a few.

Car problems – I had just had my car inspected in January when it developed an overheating problem.  After multiple trips to the repair shop, which always started with a block check and ended with a new thermostat, then a new temperature sensor, then a coolant flush, then a heater core flush and so on, the car continued to lose fluid, seemingly magically.  Mike was not concerned in the least as there was no leak found so it seemed to me that his understanding was that when the temperature gauge went over and beyond the red “H”, it was either malfunctioning or stuck causing a false read.  Never mind that the coolant was actually missing from the system and by missing I mean the the system was practically bone dry before my frantic shrieks of, “STOP THE CAR, STOP THE CAR, NOW,…..”, would convince Mike to pull to the side of the road.  Being that we were never far from home when this occurred, Mike would unhappily abide by my wishes and pull over for a few minutes and wait until the temperature gauge returned to normal position and then tell me, “See, it’s OK”, while I seethed in the passenger seat.  Once we returned home, Mike would check the fluid levels and replenish the missing fluid.  There was nothing I could do to convince him that it is abnormal to add coolant to the car approximately every 40 or 50 miles.  But when Mike thought we were going to drive the car to CalU to take Zack on a college visit, I could take it no more.

Me:  “You are not taking the car to CalU!”

Mike:  “How else are we going to get there?”

Me:  “Well, you better ask Kat to borrow her car because I am warning you that I am going to throw a fit if you blow up the car.”

Mike:  “I’m not going to blow up the car.  Are you going or not?”

To compromise, I asked Mike to take the car down to the local garage and have them check it again and as usual, he returned telling me that the car was fixed.  So instead of stewing home alone, I decided to go because he was going to blow the engine whether I was with him or not.  We made it to the college without incident.  A few hours later, we prepared to leave campus and Mike decided that it was not necessary to check the fluids because the car appeared to working well.  But less than a mile from campus, I noticed the temperature gauge moving upward.

Me:  “Pull over!!  Stop the car, NOW!”

Mike:  “Settle down.  Just give it a minute, it might go down.”

It did not go down.  It red lined before he stopped.  He waited 15 minutes, restarted the car and pointed to the temperature gauge which had dropped.

Mike:  “See, it’s back to normal.”

Me:  “Are you kidding me?!?”

Mike insisted once again that it was the gauge not the engine.  Tired of arguing with Zack in the car, I told Mike to do as he pleases but that we were going to be spending the better part of the evening on the side of the road, in the freezing cold, 40 miles from home when the engine blew for good.  But Mike, confident that the car was fine, started driving towards home once again.  And few minutes later, we pulled over once again.

Mike:  “It must need some coolant.”

Me:  “Are you kidding me?!?”

Mike pulled the the coolant from the trunk and raised the hood while I sat in the car, totally exasperated, complaining about Mike and the car to Zack.

Me:  “I’m sorry I’m acting out but if I don’t vent, I going to have an aneurysm or………WHAT THE %@&#!!!!!

Through the crack between the body of the car and the hood I saw Mike attempting to remove the radiator cap.  I envisioned him being sprayed with overheated coolant and started yelling and tapping on the windshield.

Me:  “NOOOOOO!!!   MIKE, STOP, NO, NO, NO!!!!  HOLY CRAP, NO!!!”

Mike:  “What is wrong with YOU?”

Me:  “You are NEVER, EVER supposed to take the radiator cap off right after turning the car off, even if it not overheating.  You’re supposed to use the overflow tank.”

Mike:  “The overflow’s full.”

Me:  “It doesn’t matter.  Don’t take the cap off.”

Mike:  “I take the cap off the radiator all the time.”

Me:  “You do?  That’s wrong.  Really wrong.”

That’s when Mike got really angry and not so politely told me to mind my own business and started working on the cap again.

Me:  “Zack, do you have your phone?’

Zach:  “Yeah?”

Me:  “Dial 91 and wait because I think we are going to need an ambulance in a second.”

Mike turned the cap slightly and a small amount of pressurized fluid sprayed out the sides.  He finished removing the cap without incident and filled the radiator.

Mike:  “See, no problem.”

No, it was a problem, the car had no coolant.  We drove home in silence.  The next day, both Joel and the mechanic called to tell us that they were confident that the head gasket was blown and engine pressure was blowing the coolant out through the overflow tank.  Mike finally stopped driving the car.  I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to make an appointment at the dealer, not just because I expect it cost a small fortune to replace the head gasket but because I’m worried that additional damage occurred while it was overheating especially from the chilled coolant that Mike kept adding to the super hot engine.  But I think I’ve calmed down enough to face whatever happens.  I just have to clean out the car as Kat has been using it as a shed while it’s been parked in the driveway….but that’s another story.

College tours – My nephew Zack is a senior in high school.  He graduates in June.  He’s decided that he wants to go to college.  His mom (my sister Kat) is over scheduled and has not had the time to take him to visit any schools.  Zack asked Mike and I to help.  We started looking right before our car started malfunctioning.  Once we realized we had a blown head gasket, we asked Kat if we could borrow a car for college visits as her family has 2 cars and a motorcycle.

Me:  “Kat, I need to borrow one of your cars to finish Zack’s college visits.”

Kat:  “I don’t have a car for you to borrow”.

Me:  “How about Tim’s.  It’s sitting in your driveway.”

Kat:  “Tim’s is broken.”

Me:  “What happened?  We were driving it yesterday.”

Kat:  “Yeah, but Tim says it’s broken.”

Me:  “What broke?”

Kat:  “Everything.  The brakes, the front end suspension and it hesitates.”

Me:  “And this all happened overnight?”

Kat:  “No, but Tim says it’s too dangerous to drive.”

Me:  “So when we were driving his car around yesterday, the car was broken?”

Kat:  “Well, Tim thinks so.”

Me:  “Do you think so?”

Kat:  “I think Tim wants a new car.”

From what I could figure out, broken meant her husband wanted to drive his motorcycle to work but Kat hates the motorcycle and NEVER wants her husband to drive it, anywhere, which means his car MUST be broken so that Kat will stop complaining when he drives the motorcycle.  I prefer to stay out of that argument.  I waited a week and tried again.

Me:  “Kat, can I borrow a car to take Zack to Slippery Rock?”

Kat:  “Tim’s car is broken.”

Me:  “I thought you had it repaired.”

Kat:  “Yeah, but now the ignition switch is broken and I have to get it towed and I don’t know when I’ll have time to do it.”

I borrowed Sue’s car.  Zack has chosen a college, CalU (and has been accepted).  And since Zack would not participate in the obligatory family pictures, Josh had his picture taken with the school mascot Vulcan and his hammer.

Kat’s mini meltdown – My sister Kat is pretty tough but when things go wrong, she can’t think straight.  And the things that send her over the edge well….some are serious and some of them are just plain silly.  And the silly ones are the worst because whenever she stops over for a visit, she tells those stories ad nauseum.  Recently, Kat had 2 silly meltdowns involving bread and Facebook.  Since she’d be uncomfortable if I went into detail, I’ll just write about the bread as a “hypothetical” event.

Let’s say the someone named “Bel” is hosting a family dinner.  “Bel” plans a pasta dinner with bread (there will probably be salad also but Kat won’t eat that).  We can safely assume that Kat will have a problem with the pasta (NEVER enough sauce) but Kat will suffer through but only because there will be Mancini’s bread to eat and thus the dinner will proceed without incident.  BUT, what if “Bel” (for reasons that are not clear but I’m guessing some sort of severe head trauma) serves dry pasta (by Kat’s standards) and chooses to limit each of her guests to ONE slice of bread.  And what if “Bel” forgets to tell her guests that they can only have ONE slice of bread even though there is more available.  And what if Kat innocently eats TWO slices of bread while “Bel’s” head is turned?  And what if “Bel” freaks out when she notices that someone has eaten more than their ONE slice of bread and starts complaining about the bread theft, “Holy Crap!  Don’t tell me someone has already eaten more than ONE piece of bread!”, while Kat’s mouth is full of bread?  I’ll tell you what happens, Kat will NEVER eat bread at “Bel’s” again.  NEVER, EVER, AGAIN!  How do I know?  Because I’ve heard this story a few times a day for weeks.  I’m afraid to let Kat see a piece of bread in case she starts telling me the story again.

Kat’s major meltdown – Kat was doing laundry one evening when she noticed that water was pooling around the washer.  While she was looking for the source of the water, she realized that it was sewage and it was coming in fast.  When it finally stopped, she began to clean up and called a plumber.  When he arrived, he attempted to clear the sewer line and managed to entangle his auger in the pipe.  Instead of dislodging it, he cut the cord and told Kat that the root system from neighbor’s tree was to blame and it could cost $10,000 or more to fix if she wanted her cement driveway replaced as they would have to dig it up to make the repairs.  Kat was speechless.  Literally.  When she called to tell me about her predicament, she was difficult to understand as she sobbed.  Sue and I ran over to console her.

Sue & I:  “It’s going to be OK.  Don’t worry.”

Kat:  “Look….look…look at this mess!  And the cost!  I’m so upset.”

Sue & I:  “It’s going to be all right.  The first thing you need to do is get a second opinion.  What kind of idiot just leaves an auger stuck in the drain and leaves.”

Kat:  “I don’t want a second opinion.  You don’t understand.”

Sue & I:  “What don’t we understand?  You can’t hire that plumber.”

Kat:  “That’s not the problem.  I don’t want a hillbilly driveway!”

Kat was upset.  Not because her basement was a biohazard.  Not because the plumber refused to take the auger out of her drain because he might break something.  Not because the inept plumber was giving her an extremely high estimate for the repair.  Not because her driveway was about to become a cess pool.  No, she was worried that she going to be stuck with a hillbilly driveway.  By Kat’s definition, a hillbilly driveway is a gravel driveway, like her neighbor has.  And ouch, she managed to insult Sue, who just so happens to have a partial gravel driveway.  Eventually, she received a second opinion from a reputable plumber who found that her problem was not tree roots (although they were a factor) but instead that the gas company had run their replacement line perpendicularly through her sewer line causing the line to back up gradually until it reached her basement.  Luckily for Kat, all the costs are being picked up by the gas company, including replacing the cement in the driveway that was damaged.  But during the two weeks that it took to fix the problem, I had company daily as Kat, her husband and Zack were over to use the bathroom and take showers daily.

Things are slowly returning to normal.  It’s not exactly quiet but quieter.  And Erika & Luke (Gabe’s new older brother) have found a new apartment allowing me to reclaim the living room.  It’s time to spring clean.


  1. wow. very funny. that was a post worth waiting for. you certainly do live an interesting life over there in navahland.
    i guess the kat-stravaganza birthday post, with pink boobs balloons, the bread lady figurine gift, and mike’s kitty litter comments, will be soon upcoming.

    • Next post, I hope. It will take some time because that story has everything, decluttering, a Kat and Mike feud which turned into a Mike and Karen feud and even a special added surprise that you haven’t seen yet. It might have to be written in two parts.

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