125 – happy insomniac

Up at 4 a.m. this morning. Promised Corey I’d never say 4:13 again. He finds that kind of precision funny. I would say I don’t know why… but I do, ’cause I find it funny when other people do it, but only when they add vague qualifiers to it, like “almost 4:13.” We are weirdly alike for two people that on the surface are not so much… But that’s probably what makes us work as a couple. At any rate, woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I figured I’d rattle off a few paragraphs.

Not a lot of plans for the weekend, other than to get into town in time to check the mail, pick up some ranch stuff, pick up some grocery stuff… get back home and work on the craft project that I’m up in the middle of–it’s a gift, so my lips are sealed. Am taking pictures.

My only other ambition is to get our van up and listed on a couple of websites. If you know anyone who might be in the market for an extended body 2002 Ford Econoline E350 cargo van, with a 7.3L diesel engine, let us know. It’s in good shape, two brand new tires and two good ones, just passed inspection a few months back. It’s very clean inside because we’re clean freaks. We stripped it down to the metal inside, repainted the inside floor and put it back together again. It does have a ladder rack for the top. The picture below is not a picture of THE van, it’s a picture of A van, same year model, same body type, frame, etc. I’ll replace it when I get a moment to get out and take pictures, if it’s not raining once the sun’s up this morning.

We had planned to kit it out as a weekend camping van, and it has room enough for a 2002-ford-econoline-cargo-van-058-p3queen-size bed in it, but we are just too busy to get it done… and enjoy just exploring the ranch on the rare weekend where we have time to just enjoy the weekend together. Plus, we like sleeping in our own bed now that we’re older. Camping, bluntly, kinda sucks.

But, I digress.

We’ll be listing the van for $6,500. Someone will want it just for the engine, according to my mechanically expert husband, who says it has 3/4 of a million miles of run-time left on it. Don’t know the mileage offhand, but I gather these engines run for decades. I know jack about engines, but know Corey wanted the van because of the engine, with eventual intent to tow a bumper-pull trailer, use the van for extra storage and the trailer for living space.

All I know is, rather than let it sit, someone who can use it ought to be using it. So if you know someone who might be interested, flag me down and let me know.

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80 – untweetable

westtexassnowBack home again after a four-day trip to the Dallas environs to see my sis and family… it was pretty wonderful, as these things go… even enjoyed the eight-ish hour drive there and back.  We broke down and got me a lightly used Chevy Cruze, which is a lot more comfortable for me to drive than the honking huge dually that got us here to the ranch with the travel trailer in tow.  We also figured out that simply by driving the Cruze instead of the big truck to town twice a week, we will save enough in diesel costs to make the payment on the car. Seriously. The car gets 38 mpg hwy, the truck only 10 or 12. Plus diesel’s more expensive.

It’s been one of those amazing cool, wet weekends–as you can see by the picture, Saturday night began with a hailstorm (otherwise known as West Texas snow), and we had to scramble to get my car under cover.  Since then, it’s just been cool and cloudy.  Fine for us, since we don’t have any great need to throw a barbecue for us and the dog, and everyone else is… well, elsewhere. These late spring wet days are wonderful, though I could have done without the ice dropping on my head.

Been doing a lot of thinking on whether it’s worth it to go back to work.  It’s an oddly powerful position to be in, not having to work.  I’m not sure I’ve ever worked because I necessarily wanted to–the possibility of NOT working has seldom been an option.  That said, there is retirement for both of us to think about.  And, honestly… Corey loves it in this job so much that, for the first time since I’ve met him, he seems to feel he could work here until retirement himself.  So I really need to stay here, and that adds some interesting choices, and eliminates a lot of other ones… Lots to think about.

32 – step ball…change

Life changes. It’s what it does. We change with it or we don’t… and therein lies the choice.  Please note: it is a choice. You may not like the selection of possible options, but it genuinely is always a choice.  Not choosing is also choosing.

My own life took a rather unexpected turn last Monday when I fell asleep while driving my car.  Please note–I am fine. Not a bump, not a bruise, not a scratch, not sore.  Embarrassed, dismayed, grieving over the first accident I ever had that was my fault, but physically, I’m fine. The car is not fine.

 I’ve just erased three paragraphs of painful research outcomes on insurance company payouts for used vehicles that they consider “totaled.” It won’t come as a surprise to most that the chances of getting anything even vaguely close to what we paid for it just six weeks ago range from slim to who-the-hell-are-you-kidding.  Erased another paragraph on the wisdom of always keeping full coverage (we did), another on always wearing your seatbelt (I did), and  you’re welcome. Thus endeth the lecture for today.

Back to the mea culpas–I just didn’t keep myself awake. Oh, I tried–loud music, windows open on a frigid day, munching on crackers–and I was only ten minutes from making it safely back. A lot of people would say “pull over, take a nap!” Doesn’t help.  As soon as I pull over, I’m awake.  As soon as I start driving again, I get sleepy.  Most other people I’ve spoken to say the same. The only mitigation was that it was at least in the one vehicle I’ve driven regularly in the last five years that would keep me safe.  The SUV I used to drive would have most likely rolled. The Town Car stayed low and just spun.  It’s a tank, bluntly, with a low center of gravity.

All the mea culpas aside, I am most relieved no one was headed toward me on the two-lane road where I took a nap at 75 mph. (Cruise control is a mixed blessing.) I’m not sure I could have forgiven myself for causing someone else’s pain or even death through my mistake. I am incredibly grateful that did not happen.Wile-E-Coyote

No, I won’t be posting pictures of the wrecked car. Yes, I’ve got them. No, I won’t send them to you.

Observations:

  • They say your life flashes in front of you–not true for me. My thoughts were gone completely, drowned in adrenaline and my physical attempt to place the entire weight of my body on the brakes of that car.
  • Prior to the accident, I would have told you that I believed I could make rational choices in emergency situations: “Keep your foot off the brake, steer into the skid.” Huh.
  • They say time slows down. Only in retrospect.  The accident was honestly over in what felt like microseconds. The echoes of my top-of-the-lungs cussword were still running laps around the inside of the car when it shuddered to a stop.

Aftermath and Choices:

  • Until the decision is made on whether the car will be fixed or totaled, we can’t go out and buy a replacement. While we will get the choice eventually, we just can’t make it yet.  Would be stupid to have three vehicles if they decide to fix that one.
  • Doesn’t make sense to run the expense of a rental car when my need for a vehicle is pretty much limited to a post office run once a day, laundry once a week, and intermittent grocery shopping. Nonetheless, stuck in the RV, six miles out of town, it is an incredible pain in the ass to not have a vehicle. Just saying.
  • I have to decide whether this is an isolated incident… or if I must choose to never drive again for more than hour or so when I’m by myself. I don’t have to make the choice yet.  But I will have to make it.  To say that it limits my freedom, in West Texas, where you’re pretty much two hours from anything, is really underestimating how claustrophobic this makes me.

This is two Decembers in a row with life-threatening incidents. Six days from now is the anniversary of that surgery to repair a strangulated hernia. There are a lot of other choices I have to make over the next year, I’m sure–but the decision for next December is already made.

I’m putting my head under the cover December 1, and will come back out again in January.

Lordie.

18 – cars, class, and sass

Here I sit typing like mad, in the House McNugget–the travel trailer I reside in with my husband.  Corey started work today at his new job–and it’s 85 miles (137 km) northeast of where we have settled in a recreational vehicle park.  In order to make it to his job by 5 am, he had to set his alarm for 2:30. 

We did a lot of talking about where we would land once we got to West Texas, and decided that we definitely wanted to be here, in Fort Stockton. The town’s population is about 7,000 people, big enough to have a Super Walmart, but small enough that there are only about a dozen stoplights in town. Corey and I met here five years ago, and married a year later; I still have a few friends here.  We left in May of 2011, and headed up to Oregon–my job allowed us to live anywhere that I had WiFi and a cell signal, so we took the opportunity to travel. 

The pumpjacks are everywhere in West Texas.  I used to call them "rocking horses;" that's what they looked like to me as a little girl.
The pumpjacks are everywhere in West Texas. I called them “rocking horses” when I was little; that’s what they looked like to me.

My recent layoff interrupted our plan to continue to travel. So we’re back again because this is where the money is.  Well, not right here, but 80 miles from here.  The oil boom seems to have skipped Fort Stockton for now and centered around Midland/Odessa and points north and west of there. The combined population of those two cities is more than 200,000 people, not counting the thousands of oil workers flooding into the area.  

The boom has artificially jacked up land prices for miles around that area, and new apartment complexes are sprouting out of the desert dust like weeds… Renting one of the smaller apartments for one month would cost more than we pay for four months here.  Even RV parks with spaces to park the House McNugget are double what we’re paying here, if not more, and it’s hard to find an open spot. 

As of this morning, Cor will be working every day but Sunday, and probably working 12 hours most days, so we had to get a second vehicle. We decided on a specific budget, and went searching for some older used car that would get Corey back and forth to work and get better gas mileage than the truck we use to tow the House McNugget. We stayed within budget for the car (scout’s honor!) after we got them to drop the price by ten percent and pay for the tax, title and license.

2004 Lincoln Town Car Ultimate - 75000 miles, 30 mpg hwy (if you're willing to go 55 :)), 25 mpg hwy at 65mph 18 mpg at 80 mph.  And, for the non-Texans, yes, the speed limit on I10 is 80 mph.
2004 Lincoln Town Car Ultimate – 30 mpg hwy (if you’re willing to go 55 miles per hour), 25 mpg hwy at 65 mph; 18 mpg at 80. And, for the non-Texans, yes, the speed limit on the interstate highway in west Texas, when you’re out of an urban area, is 80 mph.

Somehow, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, we ended up with a 2004 Lincoln Town Car as shown at right. Seriously, it was the oldest and the cheapest car on the used car lot. Did the math (well, Excel did the math), and if Cor drove the truck to work six days a week for 50 weeks, the cost would be $16,000. The car gets more than double the gas mileage of the truck, and for the same time frame would be $7,680. The car will basically pay for itself.

Even with all that said, I STILL feel vaguely guilty. Had to poke around in my psyche to understand why.  I’ve always thought the really huge trucks–for instance, Hummers–are an example of conspicuous consumption. Admittedly without basis, I tend to think of them as the result of the owner’s mid-life crisis, or some material possession power trip, especially the bright red and bright yellow ones. Much of my annoyance with them is that the Hummer original models were based on the HMMWV, the military light armor or unarmored vehicle.  When you see those camouflage-painted, dusty images of the trucks, with the big guns or even small missile launchers attached on the top, you know there is a specific purpose for them.  I’ve seldom seen a civilian Hummer with dirt on it, and never seen one towing anything.  They aren’t built for work, they’re built for display, and much like the peacock’s feathers, are supremely useless otherwise.

I think that my guilt trip also circles around class consciousness.  I’m not fond of Marx, and he didn’t use the term much but I’m pretty sure my ingrained sense of what I’m entitled to is still based on my underprivileged youth.  I keep hearing this voice saying a luxury car, even one that’s nine years old, is simply not appropriate, too ostentatious, too luxurious.

The voice in my head that tells me such things would, of course, be the one I call Ethel–she disapproves of anything pretty on principle alone.  On the other hand, my Brittany side does not give a rat’s patootie, she’s just looking for room for all her sparkly stuff in the car. The trunk is also big enough to hide Ethel’s body, should Brittany snap and smack her with a baton. Or, as she contemplates while tapping a beautifully manicured index finger on her bottom lip, she could hire Dexter to do something less…obvious.

The three noodges are my fates, my furies, my muses–and were introduced in a prior post.  I’d also like to welcome my new readers, and say thank you to those who have pressed the “Follow” button at bottom right.  So pleased to have you! Hope you have as much fun reading my posts as I do writing them.

Warmest regards,
Lisa