Saturday, April 17, 2010


What have I been doing for the past month? Well, not all that much crocheting, I’ll tell you that. (Those dish rags will be going out but have not yet. I’ve never been good about getting stuff in the mail, just one of my many quirks. Don’t give up on me! And you bad people who haven’t sent me your address, send it already!)

Well, it has been more than this. And honestly, it has been a distraction. But sometimes life is distracting. The part of it most relevant to this blog has been the van. We have kids, we live way out, we don’t go in a lot compared with “normal” but we do go in. And sometimes we like to go in en famile. We first bought the van 12 years ago. It was a good van. Notice the tense of that verb. Was. It had about 150K miles on it when we bought it and we put over 100K miles on it ourselves, but I was driving it home when it started making a horrid noise and I started asking it to just please get me home. Please get me home. And it did, bless its heart. But I knew it was dead.

We had a vehicle fund, a small fund with which to buy a vehicle. Having this sort of thing has saved us more times than one. It wasn’t a larger fund for several reasons, among them that not a whole lot of money has flowed through this household in the past few years, but more importantly it is that we don’t really want a newer, larger, nicer vehicle. A car is just a box on some wheels to get you from one place to another not an extension of the illusion of self. Not that I don’t fantasize about a Suburban, but a Suburban costs a lot more money and uses a lot more gas. And gas, or peak oil, is another reason our vehicle fund was small . . . who wants to buy a nice, or more expensive, or new(er) vehicle when really, oil is going to run out (become prohibitively expensive). Besides, traveling hither and yon is just not attractive. Time to move on to other paradigms.

Ah, but the process of shopping for a bottom feeder van! First we had to fathom through what did we really want and what were our options? Did we want to look at a Suburban? (no) Did we want to look at a smaller car with better mileage but that wouldn’t hold us all? (no) And as to vans, what kinds would we really seriously consider? In the end we decided to go with the kind of van we’ve always had and know how to work on, and we avoided complications like all wheel drive because they are just something else that can tear up.

But the process is obviously looking through all those different things. And the process is not without emotional involvement. The truth is that when one is looking to buy a vehicle that people who live in government housing projects are looking to sell, well, it can be a bit disconcerting. That we seriously considered the “naked she-devil” van with a broken out window and two doors that didn’t work was quite disconcerting.

What was downright funny was the speech the she-devil van’s dealer gave me about why we needed to finance his overpriced piece of junk - because in a few months, when we found a better car, it would be easier to “move up” into it if we already had something financed, and besides that, he sells furniture and appliances too and if our stove went out, why, if we had a car financed, we could just call him and for $100 dollars he’d bring us a new stove. !!! Can I even count how many things are wrong in that sentence? I stood there in the rain that day and just looked at him. I suppose that’s why he kept talking for that long. I finally told him I hadn’t financed by bleeping house, I certainly wasn’t going to finance a car, much less a beat up piece of junk van with 150K miles on it.

The other side of the emotional involvement was the people who helped, or offered to help. It is one of those “ho I am full” things, and something I in no way take for granted. Friends. Real friends. It has been a long time since I had them and I am thankful.

What happened was this: The van died. We gathered our resources and looked really hard for a week and everything we looked at was eliminated for one reason or another until finally, defeated, we had nothing left to go look at. At that point we decided to back off a bit and to accept an offer of help (a loaner car so we wouldn’t just have one antique vehicle subject to unexpected breakdowns). We had just picked up the loaner car and spent a relaxed morning at the barn riding and were on our way to town to do a few errands and eat a bite. We’d just said to each other, wow, it feels good to relax about this, and now that we’re relaxed, something suitable can show up. Less than a block after we said that, there was a van for sale. I pulled in and we dialed the number. Less than 24 hours later the deal was made.

(but I will also point out that relaxing before putting in the work doesn't manifest this same magic, just so you know and are not mislead into being a lazy bum)

Here is what else happened: The new van is an older van, only slightly newer than our old one. It didn’t have its rear seats and several doodads were broken. Ah, but our old seats fit it and after we got it home we set about fixing all the broken stuff on it with stuff off our old van. It is really very much fun to have parts of our old faithful van traveling with us. And you know David’s coat of many colors? Well, it doesn’t have anything on our van!

Here is hoping this new old van stays with us until the end of oil.


barefoot gardener said...

Ah, the joys of trying to find a new vehicle... ;P

Glad you could find something that worked so perfectly for you! Good luck with it...

Wendy said...

Awesome story! It always amazes me when we relax and allow the Universe to work her magic, she always comes through. My husband is very good at "putting it out there" and then being patient - me? not so much ... but I'm learning :).

Mickle in NZ said...

I was getting worried as I read this post that there would be a sad, sad ending. But no, Hooray, replacement van is good with the special bonus that parts of the "formerly good van" can be reused in the replacement. Just wonderful!!!

You've got me smiling with and for you all!

clairesgarden said...

people mostly have forgotten that you can 'fix' things. that you can drill an extra hole to make something fit, that it doesn't have to be shiny, that you can turn up the radio to cover the noise. I have radio!! whooohooo!!

CG said...

hey, we're really uptown in this van -- the radio still works! If you know the combination of how to turn it on.

Alecto said...

Oh Yay!!!!!!!!!!! Although the idea of the she-devil van still has me giggling. Couldn't you just put a decal or two on the back of the new van? please? Or just tell me you did.

I LOVE that the old van provided the organ transplant of seats to the new van and having a parts car is a very satisfying feeling.