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Nature is wonderful.

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is amazing.

It’s amazing to see moose on the way to town. The glory and splendor that is a full-grown moose. The way a calf will trail after its mother as they trek through the snow-covered field. It can be awe-inspiring.

Until the day you turn the corner and find yourself faced with a moose butt.

Now, I am well aware that there are moose in the moods around my cabin. We have moose prints in the yard, a moose wallow at the top of the hill, and the dogs like to be at the window on “moosewatch.” I have had to stop in the road while the moose cross. One day, I was late to work because the moose wouldn’t move out of my driveway.

Moose are majestic animals…until you don’t have a front door, or a half ton of steel between you and them.

First, let us discuss the moose. Moose are big. Moose are large, moose are huge. Here’s a cute graphic for comparison I shamelessly swiped from National Geographic:

That’s a six-foot human and a full-grown bull moose. These are NOT small animals. However, I should point out that for a thousand pound animal, they are surprisingly stealthy. You can’t hear them coming though the snowy woods. You just turn around and *WHAM* there’s a semi truck behind you.

You should also know that moose have no sense of humor. It’s like they all need a cup of coffee and valium. They own the woods, and they will hunt you down. Well, chase you down. Okay, in all honesty, the literature says that it’s okay to run because most likely the moose won’t chase you down. But seriously folks, I’ve five feet tall. Two steps, and the moose has caught me.

According to the Alaska Wildlife service, moose can be downright bitchy. Especially if one idiot feeds them. “Moose that are fed by humans often become aggressive when they are not fed as expected. They may attack the next person they see if the person has no food to offer.”

Finally and this is especially important when you’re walking dogs,  moose kick forward. Yeah, that’s right, being an eight foot tall, thousand pound brick wall isn’t enough, they have a reach. They kick forward, knock their opponent to the ground, and then stomp them to death. When I say that I fully expect to lose one of my dogs to a moose, I’m not kidding. My dogs are used to cows.As I frequently yell at tourists who get out of their cars and try to get closer to the moose to take pictures, MOOSE AND COWS ARE NOT THE SAME!

Here’s the story. I was in the woods behind my cabin, making a trail for a friend to work her trailing dog on. This involves being on the path, off the path, doubling back, and the obligatory serpentine. My job is to see if I can evade the dog. As I was walking down the trail, I noticed moose tracks beside the trail to my left. It was kinds cool, seeing all this stuff in the wilderness. I followed the tracks with my eyes, continuing down the path, and honestly went, “oh, look, here’s where he crossed and went into the woods.”

As my line of sight followed the tracks, and my view went up the snow bank…

MOOSE BUTT!

In all it’s winter furry glory.

When you meet a moose butt on the trail. It is not magical, it is not awe-inspiring. It pretty much just makes you stop breathing and maybe pee your pants. Since I was not carrying a firearm or an axe, but merely a small hunting knife. (Which, despite all the demon slaying episodes of Supernatural that I’ve watched, I doubt my ability to take down a moose with.) I was suddenly very, very aware of the fact that without guns and tanks and helicopters and crash helmets, humans are not at the top of the food chain.

Secondly, I was extremely grateful that I didn’t have any of my dogs with me. They would have tried to herd the moose. Moose do not take kindly to being herded.

Surprisingly, I did actually spring into action with moose evading ninja-like skills. I slowly backed up, while texting the searcher “no go, moose on trail.” As I reached the far side of the trail…my phone beeped its text alert. The moose turned at the noise and stared at me.

I wasn’t up for testing the “okay to run” theory, so I continued to back up into the woods. My theory was to find some large trees to put between me and the furry mac truck taking interest in me. This was not a particularly stealthy or graceful retreat, as there was three feet of unbroken snow to get through.

But I did, and there were two huge fallen trees to my right just into the woods. I casually waded over to them, and slowly descended, like a mime in an invisible elevator. And waited. And waited. And waited.

I was waiting for the moose to get bored and leave. I got bored and started texting. I texted my friend Heidi. “I’m bored, I’m hiding from a moose.”  She thought I was in the house peeking through the blinds like the moose had just asked me if I’d accepted Jesus as my personal lord and savior. When I conveyed the situation, she was a true friend and panicked with me. Still I waited for the moose to leave.

He didn’t.

I wasn’t brave, or developed some wilderness skills, I just got bored waiting. So, I decided to take the chance. I slowly stood up, and walked to the next tree. You know, all casual like.  Hey moose, nothing to see here. Just a two-legged woodland creature out for a little forage in the woods. I stopped behind the tree, and checked over my shoulder. No moose activity. I casually strolled to the next tree.

Of course, then the Mission Impossible theme started going through my head. As I slunk from tree to tree. Secret moose spy ring activated!

So, long story longer, I made it back to the cabin. We trained somewhere else. The moose may have followed me home. There were fresh tracks in the yard. I’ve named him Ivan.

A week later, I was relaying this story at my local gas station hair salon laundromat water station propane tank refill coffee shop liquor store grocery store, and one of my neighbors calmly said, “Oh, don’t worry, last year there were bears in the area, so the moose stayed off the trail.”

I think it was supposed to be re-assuring.

I’d rather have the moose.

I love introducing my dogs to people.

We’ve discussed Sam. She goes to reading programs, helps me teach dog bite prevention, has a strange knack for knowing which kids need consoling, and is coming along quite nicely toward her search and rescue certification.

Mina is my Search and Rescue dog. She does great at public events as well. She does a cute demo, and can even jump through a hula hoop held at shoulder level.

Chiyome is everyone’s favorite. She’s just so darned cute when she wiggles her butt. Kids love her, parents love her, people we meet at the park love her. She is turning into an amazing trailing dog as well.

And then there’s Dean.

I love Dean, and Dean loves me.

Yep, that’s pretty much it. Dean does not search, she does not rescue, she does not do “public” in fact, she rarely does anything involving strangers. She’s just not a people person…uhm dog. Strangers make her nervous.

Dean prefers the company of other dogs, like her friend Mac.

When we are hiking, and I fall down a snowy embankment, Dean will rush to my side…and pull the treat bag out of my pocket and run away, leaving me flailing in the snow.

She also does not come when she’s called. She does not shake, or speak, or jump through, or jump  over, or crawl under anything. This summer, I will have had Dean for almost three years. We’ve mastered “sit.” “Down” is coming along nicely. I expect her to have mastered it by 2015.

After two and a half years Dean has FINALLY mastered the doggie skill of notifying me she needs to go out in the middle of the night. We tried bells on the door, restricting water after 9pm, kenneling at night (then I have to clean the kennel) and every other thing we could think of, but Dean has to find her own way.

Dean’s self-selected potty alert is poking me in the face with her cold nose while I am asleep. It scares the crap out of me every time. Yes, I wake up screaming half the time.  But at least I no longer have to clean the floor. Hallelujah, we can put the rug back in front of the door.

You’d think I’d refer to Dean as my “untrainable” dog or my “less brilliant dog,” but no. Dean is in fact, my Zen dog. See, when I talk about my dogs, and people as “What does Dean do?” I reply, “Dean’s happy.”

And she is. She doesn’t need a job, she doesn’t need a mission, she just needs a spot on my pillow and cheese. Dean has a nice little routine she enjoys. She likes to join her sisters on moosewatch.

She LOVES Alaska. I mean LOVES it. She hangs out with the sled dogs down the road. She plays in the snow. Not just frolics though it. Dean REALLY loves being buried in the snow.

She likes nothing better than a chance to go tearing across the wide open prairie. Of course, she never come back when I call, so I get tons of extra exercise when the other three dogs and I have to take a 45 minute jog to find her.

Now, I won’t bore you with the whys and wherefores of Dean’s past before we got her. I will say that the first time Dean ran up to my vet and asked to be petted, my vet almost cried.  “Happy” is the ultimate goal for Dean.

She doesn’t judge herself by her ability to track people, or shake, or fetch. (Greyhounds as a rule do NOT fetch. They chase it down, that’s it.) She makes friends with the dogs she likes, and doesn’t bother with ones she doesn’t.  She doesn’t compare herself to the other dogs, or spend her day wishing she knew how to shake.

And that, right there, is the Tao of Dean.

Dean simply makes each day a little better than the one before.  She’s happy. And let’s face it. Of all the complicated life goals, how m,any times to we use the word “happy?”  Maybe we just need a hike in the snow and a soft pillow and some cheese.

It works for Dean.

Today, we take a departure from my dogs to talk about me. More importantly, how others see me. This is part of my ongoing frustrations with the fact that no matter what the media says, or zen gurus claim, basically, as a society, we do it to ourselves. This is, in fact, a rant. Feel free to read or not.

Being single, even over the age of 40, is not a disease. It is not an affliction, and I am not looking for a miracle “cure.” I hate the word “waiting.” People post all sorts of sayings on Facebook and Pintrest about while you’re “waiting” for a husband. Many are  well-intentioned, they want to reassure us women that, fear not! Someday your prince will come. Well, if my prince is indeed on his way, he needs to pick up some oil for the generator and vodka for martinis, because I’m out of both- mostly because I haven’t been WAITING for him. I’ve been out living my wonderfully amazing life.

Lest you misunderstand, and my mother faint, I would be happy to get married some day. While we’re at it, I don’t belive that, over 40 you have a nice, toned down quaint ceremony. I’ve been going to weddings and forking over money for wedding gifts for 20 years. There will be a big party, and a registry. Prepare yourselves now.

So, the whole “single is not a disease” thing really hit home when I decided to move to Alaska. As the time to move drew closer, there were two questions asked multiple times every day.  One was “are you STILL moving to Alaska?” the second was (and usually phrased in the form of a statement) was, “so, you’re moving there to get married?” And no, I’m not exaggerating to make a point. Ask my sister-in-law. I mentioned it to her right before the annual mother daughter salad supper. We spent the whole time giggling over how many times I was asked those two things.

These questions are asked solely by women. Women seem very concerned by the fact I’m not married.

Yes, Alaska is known for the man-heavy woman to man ratio. Or, as we say in Fairbanks, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” I did not move here to meet a man. There is also a lot of moose, no one asked me if I was moving here to meet a moose.

It originally frustrated me, and now is amazes and amuses me. Why is it, that we are still amazed by unmarried women- especially those over 30? People wonder if we had some sort of horrible heartbreak that left us scarred and unable to love. Uhm…nope. All the men I’ve had relationships with were pretty good guys. It just didn’t work out. In fact, I’m still friends with them, and with their wives.

Perhaps unmarried women over 30 have some sort of mental illness. Yeah, not touching the crazy subject with a 10 foot pole. Just remember that “normal” is relative. As Morticia Adams said, “What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.”

I think the most annoying statement people make is that somehow, a woman’s life is incomplete without a husband.  Incomplete? How? I have a great life! I am having a huge adventure in Alaska!  I travel. I write. Yes, I date. I go out with friends. I volunteer with search and rescue. Bonus points to anyone who can spot Mina in the tall grass. While we’re at it, the women I have met in SAR that I look to as mentors and skilled searchers with standards I aspire to- are single.

I have a pretty darned amazing life. I’ve even been on cruises without a husband and let me tell you that one wigged out an entire cruise ship. Ahem, much to me friends’ delight. They had an absolute field day!

One who casually said, “Oh no, this is my girlfriend (points to his wife.) That’s my wife.”  And then he casually walked off. The point being, there were hundreds of complete strangers that were aghast that I was on a cruise without a husband. We may have had too much fun perplexing them.

I know LOTS of amazing, wonderful single women. There’s my friend Gertrude, who is one of the best moms that I know. She has a special affinity for celebrating the little holidays, such as national pancake day, or national camping day. She is great at her job, and if she ever invites you for dinner and game night say yes. (But remember to bring the vegetables.) Everyone who enters her home is family, and that is a gift. If she wanted to get married, that would be great. But I don’t think that her life is somehow less because she’s single.

Then there’s Hyacinth. She has her own little ranch, she travels, teaches, rides horses. She’s always inviting me and the dogs to visit. We commiserate over getting your haircut at the gas station, and the fact that the coveralls we wear for chores are terribly unflattering. She’s not waiting to get married to start her life.

My friend Rose is my camping friend. She is a wonderful artist and travels and encourages me to try things I never thought I could do. Someday, I want to go to Burning Man with her. I kinda want to be her when I grow up.

Yep, we can open jars and chop wood, and do our taxes, quilt, and cook. I CAN change my oil, I just don’t want to. Oh sure, we tease each other with dating sites and “how cute was the water heater repair guy” jokes. But I don’t honestly ever sit down and think “oh, if only she had a husband, her life would be complete.”

I am proud to say that more than once, mothers have pointed to me and said to their daughters, Miss Teresa isn’t married. You don’t need to be married to do (insert travel, job, lifegoal, etc. here.)

Please do not misunderstand. I’m not anti-marriage or anti men. I like men. A lot.  A lot, a lot, a lot. The majority of my friends are married and happily so. I think finding someone to team up with and face the world with is wonderful! If you want to get married, do it. I’ll come and party, and buy you towels. Seriously, register for more towels than you think you need- they wear out fast.

Get this- I was actually a wedding planner. I love weddings. I love my married friends. I just don’t think you HAVE to get married to be happy.

I also love my friends who make reservations for seven, and never, for one moment, have acted as if my life was somehow less than theirs because I didn’t have a spouse.

I think we need to drop the “have to” attitude. People don’t HAVE to get married. People don’t HAVE to have children. I honestly believe a lot of unhappiness is created because people think the HAVE to have something or be something.

Screw the HAVE TO and get out there and live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

Don’t know how? I know some amazing single women that could give you a lesson.

Of all my dogs, Sam is the one I refer to as my “stunt dog.” Hi Sam.

Sam pretty much goes everywhere with me. She’s very adaptable, and great for social occasions.

We go hiking in the mountains.

She helps me drop the kids off at school.

She enjoys an afternoon of quiet reading.

She enjoys doggie yoga.

I don’t have any photos, but she enjoys hanging with the Klingons at the sci-fi convention, and she totally rocks at the zombie olympics.

She LOVES movie night with my niece.

And she lets me but her in a harness and slide her off tall buildings during search training.

Oh sure, Sam has her faults.

She gets bored and takes it out on the couch.

She likes to pre-wash the dishes.

She photo bombs her sisters.

But overall, she’s a great dog.

Back to the story. So, Sam goes everywhere with me. This year, we did a lot of hanging out down at the Yukon Quest finish line. And no, not because I have a huge crush on Brent Sass. Okay not JUST because of that.

Sam, when she’s wearing her fleece, gets mistaken quite a bit for a sled dog.

It’s not that far fetched. She does kind of look like one. For those who haven’t seen them, there is a big difference between actual racing sled dogs and show huskies. See how lean they are?

The Yukon Quest team of Wild and Free Mushing.

So, there we are at the Yukon Quest office, chatting with the volunteers who were so amazingly wonderful to us! How wonderful? They gave a video interview to a sock monkey for the kids back home. Yes folks, they talked to the sock monkey. Without hesitation or reservation.

While we were there, in walks a group of Japanese tourists. Fairbanks is a hot spot in the winter during the quest for our overseas guests. They spy Sam, and immediately ask , “picture?” Well, I tried to explain that Sam was not a sled dog, but the language barrier got in the way. I looked at the volunteers, who were trying not to laugh, and they just shrugged. I figured, what the heck. The chances are pretty slim someone in Japan is going to out me for fraudulent sled dog photos.

But THEN, one of the tourists drops to their knees and proceeds to rub noses with Sam.

Now, we’ll skip over the whole “don’t EVER put your face in a dog’s face” and my silent gratitude that Sam has been trained to work with rowdy preschoolers. We’ll go straight to the “Hey buddy, back off my dog!”

What I actually said was, “Sam, get away from that man, you don’t know where he’s been!” Seriously. He could have some strange disease, or have had onions for lunch. He could be drunk, or use bad grammar. I don’t know what sort of unseemly person he was, other than you clearly he had no “doggie manners.” I know a fourth grade class in Westmoreland, Kansas that could give him a few lessons! What on earth would possess you to rub noses with a strange dog! Lunatic.

Sam and I left immediately. Politely, so as not to cause an international incident, but immediately. Sam seemed grateful. She tolerates the crazy, but doesn’t enjoy it. Especially when she can sense there’s no treats involved. She’s very much like me in that way.

In the future, I will be ready for incidents like this again. I’ve learned a new phrase. Phonetically, it is :

Anata o nameta inu ga mūsu unchi o taberu.

That’s Japanese for “the dog that licked you eats moose poo.”

Every once in awhile, I do something pretty darned cool. When I do, I feel I must share it with everyone. I now bring you the story of Lindsay’s Quilt.

See, waaayyyy back in the winter of 2009, we decided to have a raffle to raise money. What to raffle? Well, how about I make a quilt? I like to quilt. I’m not great at it, but it’s a charity raffle, so people will be forgiving if it’s not perfect.

So, I chose my quilt. I had never quilted anything bigger than a baby quilt. But the techniques are the same- just more of them. I leafed through books and patterns, and picked one I liked..from the “Quilts of the Smithsonian” book. The freakin’ SMITHSONIAN people! This is what I chose for my first large project.

But still, it’s just a bunch of triangle and squares, right? Then I had a brilliant idea. See, I LOVE quilting. The actual quilting part. Yes, by hand. I’m kinda a quilting snob. I’m not so fond of the piecing. So, I showed the picture to my mother. (I’m a fifth generation quilter.) My theory was, I would get her to piece it, and I would quilt it. A big mother daughter project.

My mother took one look at it and said, “you can’t do that, it’s too hard.”

Now, it doesn’t matter that I’m forty mumble mumble mumble. See when your mother says something like that, you instantly turn thirteen. “Can too!” immediately came out of my mouth. I bet you donuts to dollars that if Margaret Thatcher’s mom told her not to do something, she’d cry “Can too!!!” But, you know, in a British accent.

So I did. And much to my surprise, I had it cut and pieced in about a week. Geesh, what was the big deal. It wasn’t easy, and sometimes the corners didn’t come to a point, but it was done. I don’t have a picture of the pattern, but I should explain that this is a queen sized quilt that started out with 2 inch triangles.

Then, I put it on the quilt rack, and very smugly posted a fuzzy picture to facebook with the caption “taking bets on whether or not I can get a queen sized quilt and quilted in two weeks.”

Spoiler alert: I can’t.

First of all- every inch of white you see has hand quilting in it.  In hindsight, I probably should have picked simpler quilting patterns, but like I said, I’m a quilting snob, and once you decide on the “perfect” pattern, nothing else will do.

So, I started quilting. Some times, phoenix would assist.

When I wasn’t looking, Sam decided it was a greyhound hammock:

That quilt rack went EVERYWHERE.  The kids moved it to the back room for summer. Then they’d carry it through the doorway (twist on side, legs through, swing left, lift over treadmill, other legs through, and down.) They carried it to the backyard on nice days. When I switched quilt racks, they helped me unroll and re-roll the quilt onto the posts. The quilt went all over the us on car trips. It got coffee on it during the drive to Alaska. And I’m pretty sure I stabbed myself enough times there’s some blood on it too.

Now, had I sat there and quilted my little heart out, it may have well been a few weeks, or a few months. But it wasn’t. I would quilt, then NEVER WANT TO SEE THE QUILT AGAIN. Seriously. If we hadn’t raffled it off already, the quilt may have had an unfortunate accident. But it had a home waiting, so in brief spurts, I would quilt.

Finally, In January 2013:

Look what I did! Yep. All done!!! And if I may say so, pretty darned stunning.

Was I sorry to see my work of four years go out the door? Heck no! Ship that thing outta here! I never want to see it again! And when I find the person who invented “stitch in a ditch,” there will be hell to pay.

So where is the quilt going?

You’re going to love this. It goes to Lindsay- daughter of Doggie Nanny Pam. See, it’s Lindsay’s wedding quilt. Even though she was married three years ago. Wanna know the best part of the story?  When we held the raffle, Lindsay had just moved to Western Kansas with her finace. She came back for a visit, and to come to our annual Five Dollar Fundraiser. She’d fallen in love with the quilt when she saw me piecing it.

At the time, Lindsay hadn’t found a new job, and felt it would be financially irresponsible to buy more than $5 in tickets. So, when her friends bought tickets, they put her name on them. Yep. Friends, neighbors, and people who love her bought tickets and put Lindsay’s name on them.

And this will be the first she hears of it.

We love you Lindsay. Happy belated wedding day!

I’m not sure I have any pictures to go with this post, but I’m sure the images in your head will be much better anyway.

One of the differences between Alaska and Kansas is that Alaska has no humidity. Kansas has a LOT of humidity. In the Kansas summer, it is entirely possible to feel damp when it is not raining. People will tell you the air feels “heavy.” There are days when it’s 99.9% humidity and not raining. It’s evil.

Alaska has no humidity. Zip, nada, none. In girl terms, that means my skin sucks, but my hair is fabulous. You go through GALLONS of lotion. My fancy face lotions say, “apply pea sized drop to face.”  More like apply half the tube twice a day! I cannot explain to you the amount of lotion I go through. I’m actually considering making my own.

I tell you that to tell you this:

The thing about low humidity is that it doesn’t feel as cold as it really is. I know it sounds strange, but 20 below just isn’t as cold without the humidity and 30 mile an hour wind in your face. It’s actually quite tolerable.

You know, until you forget that it’s 20 below.

When I go to haul water or run dogs, I generally just throw on my coveralls and head out the door. Nice layer of padding and warmth. Which also means I can’t feel it when I run into the edge of the porch or rub up against the cold metal of the car. Trust me, grabbing the car door handle at 30 below with no gloves is a mistake you only make once…or twice. Okay, I did it three times, but I learned!

So early on this winter, it was about 25 below, and I was off to fill my water jugs in my trusty coveralls. The sidewalk was pretty slick, and the water was sloshing a bit, but not enough to freeze my gloves.  I loaded the jugs into the truck and for some reason used my whole body to shut the door. I have no idea what screwy thing I was doing. Anyhoo, I went to open the driver door and….

Couldn’t move. See, apparently, I’d spilled water down the front of my coverall pant legs. When I leaned on the truck, they immediately froze to the door.Yep. There I was, frozen to the car door. The entire lower half of my body immobile and I had my nose against the window.  Laughing my ass off!  I had to unzip and climb out of my coveralls to escape. Yes folks, I was wearing something underneath- this is not another naked story.  I then used the ice scraper to pry my coveralls off the car and put them back on.

You think that I would have gotten smarter after that. Sadly, no.

Then there was the day I was over at the Santa Claus House, and needed to run over to the grocery store on my lunch hour. Now, at 30 below, that means that 15 minutes before lunch, you have to go out and start your car. 30 minutes is better, but I again, I wasn’t thinking, so 15 had to do.

The store was only a few blocks away, so I don’t bother blasting the heat. Just jumped in the car, zipped over to the store, and jumped out.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I jump out of the car and need to reach back in for my purse I always put my keys in my mouth. (yeah, I know it’s gross.) My keys…the keys that are for all intents and purposes still about 20 below zero. Aaaannnnnd

Yep. They immediately froze to my tongue. Which, just fyi, is just as damned funny as you think it is. After the first bite of pain is over and you realize what a complete idiot you are. Then there’s  a few seconds of panic- because, if they are really stuck, you can’t drive to the emergency room because HELLO, your car keys are frozen to your tongue. Also, you can’t call for help, and I don’t think 911 takes texts.

Although 911 should really take texts because in all those horror movies, the axe murderer always hears the people in the closet calling for help. If they could just text 911, it would be silent- and then the axe murderer would go into the yard, or the woods, or wherever they live.

Back to me re-creating the playground scene from “A Christmas Story.” I would have laughed, but my keys were frozen to my mouth. Good news. After a few minutes, your mouth warms the keys up and you can remove them. Just make sure they’re dry before you put them in the ignition.

50 below? That feels exactly as cold as it sounds.

Also titled “Ode to my Brother”

So, Princess Stella is having problems. Bless her mechanical heart, she is 14 years old, and has a quarter of a million miles on her. Of course, in my family, a car isn’t really broken in until it has 100,000 miles on it. She’ s still in her prime.

Two weeks ago, she started making this horrible screeching sound. The two children riding with me asked what it was. I replied, “Princess Stella is screaming in pain, and needs to go to the doctor.” I drove to my new Alaska mechanic and said “here are the keys, and you might need a fire extinguisher.”

Poor guys thought I was kidding. The fire extinguisher is key in the care and feeding of my cars.

See, back in Kansas, my brother took care of my car. He’s a mechanic. I was a teacher. I took care of his kids, he took care of my car. (I got the better end of the deal.) I’m not exactly a maintenance kind of gal. See, I forget about routine check ups and maintenance. I figure that if something is wrong with the car that lights will flash and bells will sound. If it gets worse, the lights and bells will get louder and brighter. When my brother changed my brake pads they fell to tiny bits in his hand. My thought was, “Well, the squealing stopped, so I figured everything was fine.” turns out, not so much. If the horrible noise stops, It means that the car is about to explode. NOT that the problem went away.

I should tell you, that things happen to my car that shouldn’t be able to happen to a car according to physics and Dodge.  There was something about a water pump part breaking loose and boring a hole in the timing chain cover. To which the manufacturer said “that can’t physically be possible.”

What can I say? I’m gifted when it comes to destroying cars.

Oh, and I tend to go about 8,000 miles between oil changes. Which pleased my brother mightily. It may have given him a tiny stroke. I happen to know that if I pulled up in front of the garage he worked at, mechanics ran and hid. Wussies.

So now, I’m here in Alaska, and on my own. By “on my own” I mean whenever the car makes a noise I call my brother. I have in fact, videoed the engine while it was making the noise and texted it to him. I once sent him a picture labeled “this is the part making noise, what is it?”  To which my brother usually answers,

“Well, that’s not good.”

When it comes to the car, I know how to do one thing. Check the oil. I’m not saying I do it  a lot- cause my bother will post “liar” on this page. But I know how. I only do it when anything goes wrong.

Engine running rough? Check the oil. Air conditioner not blowing? Check the oil. Today, the car decided NOT to shift out of first gear. So, I checked the oil. Oil makes moving parts go, the moving parts clearly would not go, so I checked the oil.

Or, at least I tried to.

See, I went to pop the hood, and it wouldn’t release. It is after all, interior Alaska. It was frozen shut. No wiggle room whatsoever. No amount of shoving or levering would open it.  So I figured I would check it later, when I could get the hood unstuck.

Fortunately, the hood came unstuck. Unfortunately, I was on the highway. Good news, the car was still having a temper tantrum and not shifting, so I was only going 45. Bad news- I wasn’t going to stop till I hit the driveway.

My theory is, I have NO idea how my car works or how to fix it. So, if it suddenly goes into hysterics while I’m driving- I’M NOT STOPPING. There’s nothing I  could do if I stopped. And if I stopped, it might not start again. Then I would be stranded, and an axe murderer might come out of the woods. I’ve seen the movies. It always starts with the car stalling next to the woods and BAM- some guy with a chainsaw is chasing you. Although, I’m not half naked or wearing heels while hiking, so I’m probably safe.

I either make it home where at least the car will be dead in my driveway and I will have whiskey. Or, I keep driving till I get to the mechanic, and maybe they will have whiskey. For what they charge, whiskey should be included.

So, here I am at home, checking the oil and writing a note to my brother describing that there is no noise, however, there is a smell. Not a burning oil smell, or a leaky power steering fluid smell, but a hot chemical smell, and something with a hint of pond water to it.

I’m sure he’ll be able to figure it out before I go to the mechanic on Monday. Maybe I should send him some whiskey.

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