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Another Country Song: DENTS

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Yes, I have attempted to write another bad country song. I don’t know anything about reading or composing music, so maybe that just makes it a poem. I was kind of inspired by the three books I am working on lately. Hope you likey…

Dents: Full of 'em

Dents: Full of ’em

Cars and trucks are an extension
Of our body and personality
That’s why when someone gets
too close on the freeway
We extend them a profanity
Some people baby their cars
Keep them locked away from the elements
But what makes a car special is not
How pristine you keep it
It is the experience

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I had a car, I called it an SUV
An SRV according to the manufacturers’ files.
I don’t care, it was special to me
Two-hundred and sixteen thousand miles
Drove that car north and south
And halfway west across this great county
Slept under the stars
And president’s heads
It bore the scars
Of two hail storms
And one hail mark slightly larger and deeper than the rest
Where I lost my temper
When a campfire wouldn’t catch.
I never felt bad about that blemish
Because it was part of the history

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles fought
It may look worn and used up
But at the same time it is stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there with you
Until the end of the road.

I have fallen down
All on my own
I’ve also had a little push
A time or two
I never wanted to let this hate
Eat me alive
But I regret not standing up for myself sooner
For setting the record straight
That I am more than the names
You chose to call me.
I want you to know, at the end of the day…

It is not the outside that counts
But the memories within
These dents are displayed
Like badges of honor
From the battles I’ve fought
I may look worn and used up
But at the same time I am stronger
From all those miles and those loads
Don’t count me out
Because I will be there waiting for you
At the end of the road.

Because I WILL be there waiting for you
At the end of this road…


For those of you who haven’t heard, I have an event this Saturday from 12pm-5pm at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in Lansing. You can click on my Events page for more info. See you there!


Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

R.I.P. Baby Car (2003-2014)

Bad Ass Forever

Bad Ass Forever

My 2004 Pontiac Aztek, sometimes affectionately called Baby Car, was officially put to rest today, with an odometer reading of 226,793. My Aztek was purchased on September 22, 2003 from Underwood Chevrolet Buick Pontiac Oldsmobile in Clinton, Michigan. All my miles.

I sold it to someone for a rock bottom price, as the cost of towing and repairs to get it running again will be steep.

My Aztek has served me well. It never left me on the side of the road (although once the battery did die in the insurance agency’s parking lot. But at least I was within walking distance of home.)

My Aztek once held my husband, myself, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, my dog, a wheelchair, and all the supplies my MIL was taking home from her camper for the season. It is a feat other, larger SUVs could not handle.

I loved that the rear seats could be removed completely. My Aztek was once loaded floor to ceiling with 25 years of my crap as I took it to my sister-in-law’s garage sale.

We once took a trip and camped back there, using the optional tent package. On another trip, we were able to take 2 bicycles along with us by just taking off the front tire and popping them in the back.

My Aztek hauled our belongings to our first and (so far) only house. It carried drywall to redo our ceilings. It carried our first dog, then our second dog as well. It has carried my mother and MIL to many doctor appointments and grocery stores. It hauled me to all my doctor’s appointments when I was pregnant with my son, then hauled him to his many doctor appointments for his first year, everywhere from Toledo to Ann Arbor.

Note the black duct tape on the window.  I used blue until I could no longer find it in my house.

Note the black duct tape. I used blue until I could no longer find it in my house.

The Aztek has been a wonderful car for me. Sure, things started to break off or stop lighting up in the past few years. And there was the recent issue of having to duct tape the passenger window shut. But, I rode it hard for a lot of years. (Huh-huh. That sounds dirty.) It drove a daily commute of 74 miles for most of its lifetime. Never had a tune-up, because, well, when you get to a certain point, you have to go with “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

I was so proud when I reached 200,000 miles. My new goal instantly became to take it to 300,000 miles. Plus, well, it would be good for my wallet to not have a car payment for a few more years.

But, alas, it began to overheat on the 2 minute drive home from the grocery store, with all signs pointing to a blown head gasket. You have to love a car that waits till you pull in the driveway to heave its last sigh.

While I am happy that it did not go to the junk yard to rot and rust, it is almost as painful to think of someone else owning my baby.

The Aztek will never be forgotten. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

The End

The End

Has my 2004 Pontiac Aztek reached the end of the road?

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My Aztek

My Aztek

Tuesday morning I drove my car to work. Tuesday evening I stopped off at the grocery store before I came home.

When I started my car at the store, it started rough. I gave it a “What the hell.” I looked at the temperature gauge, and it was all the way at “Hot”, which never happens. I only had 2 minutes to go down the road to head home. In that time, the fan came on and the needle went lower down. When the fan turned off, it would pop back up to “Hot” again. The car was still running rough, which I would later learn is due to that it automatically reduces how many cylinders it is running on when gets too hot.

My husband and I checked the coolant. There was very little in it, and it was way gross looking, so we took his car to Walmart and bought some more coolant. When we got home, he headed out to add it to the car. It was very low. He added it straight to the radiator, and then the reservoir. By this time it was getting dark, but he started it and drove it around the block anyway. He said that the temperature gauge headed right back up to “Hot”, and it was, quote, “douching white smoke out the tailpipe.”

I haven’t had a professional look at it, because I am afraid it may overheat before I get there and get stuck. I don’t really want to pay the price of a tow if I don’t have to, as now the car sits in my own driveway.

Maybe Dave could help...

Maybe Dave could help…

And, I have little hope of reviving Baby Car from the dead. It still starts and runs. But the most likely internal coolant leak, rim of milkiness inside the oil cap, overheating, and white smoke from the tail pipe all lead me to believe that I have a bad head gasket. At over 10 years and 226,000 miles, I don’t think anyone would be surprised by this. I have talked to my pseudo dad, Mr. Goodwrench, on the phone about this twice. His questions and advice kind of lead me to the same conclusion. I tried researching on the Car Talk website, but that just sort of overwhelmed me with information.

I am wondering at this point if my husband might want to do a compression test on it. I also read where I could try adding sodium silicate to the coolant to seal the leak. But this would require changing the oil and filter and flushing the coolant system. All things that my husband would have to do. I don’t see where throwing money at it with professional labor would be of much benefit to me. At this point, if it can’t be fixed, the only monetary value of my car would be for a push/pull trade-in offer.

Baby Car has been a good car. I will compose a full obituary and post at a future date.

Believe it or not, I actually had other events going on this week that were stressing me out even worse than an end to my car that I have probably spent around 6,000 hours of my life bonding with. I can’t even let myself begin to think about my uncertain transportation future. I would just curl up in a ball on the floor and never get up.

Even if we do find a short-term fix, I don’t think it will see 300,000 miles, which was the new goal after I hit 200,000 miles.

What I Learned This Week – 1/12/14


It is not what I learned this week, but knowledge that I learned over working for the past 17 years that I put to good use this week.

There has never been a day that I stayed home from work where I wished that I had gone in.

The tree and the ground do not usually meet each other.

The tree and the ground do not usually meet each other.

Sunday and Monday Michigan was hit by the snowpocalypse and the polar vortex. (Wow, that sounds like a blockbuster double-feature for the SYFY channel.) I was due to work 37 miles away at 5:00PM on Monday. My main route had reports of being impassable with 3 to 4 foot drifts by the Sheriff’s department just 12 hours prior. Add to that the fact that:

1. I do not have 4-wheel drive.
2. I would have to expose my son to the deadly windchills.
3. If I got stuck on the road, I would be killed by the deadly windchills (great name for a band, by the way).
4. If I didn’t go into work, my husband could take my car that handles better than his. (He did. And it always started. Even when it was like -25 degrees outside, my 2004 Pontiac Aztek with the 218,500 miles always started. I ❤ my Aztek!)
5. My best friend had already forbid me from traveling.
6. My mom had forbade me from traveling.

Add to that that I would be spending roughly 4 hours roundtrip on travel to work a 4 hour shift. I would spend more on gas than I would make.

Azteks rule!

Azteks rule!

Some people were mad that my employer was open at all.

Business is business. As an employee, you are just a cog in the machine to make money. Your employer is not going to look out for your best interest. They want to be open to make money. I don’t blame them. If I had a business, I would want to be open to make money too.

So YOU can be the only one to decide if the roads are safe enough to travel on to get to your job or not. I know that decision is harder for some than others. My husband did go into work, because his is the higher paying job in our household. (I only work part-time.) Plus, he had a shorter distance to travel.

I know what you are thinking:

But a single mother who has to support her kids can’t lose her job, she has to get to work.

I then play Devil’s advocate:

But those kids will be even worse off if she ends up dead in a ditch.

Ohio has a great thing called “snow emergencies.” (We do not have that system in Michigan.)

When you get up to Level 3, any non-essential personnel (essential personnel being firemen, police, doctors, semi trucks delivering more road salt, etc.) caught traveling on the roads will be subject to arrest. It cuts down on the traffic (and, in turn, the stuck cars) on the road to speed up the time it takes to clear the snow off the road. Actually, in the case of this past week, they could not clear the road at all because it was too cold for the salt to melt the ice.

So, to sum up, the eight or so Ohio counties right below me were ARRESTING people for leaving their houses, while Michigan residents struggled to go on with “business as usual”.

Does anyone see the disparity there besides me?

Now understand, the snow emergencies encourage businesses to close, but it is not mandatory. Then people are torn between:

1. Go to work, get paid, maybe die, or get arrested on the way.

2. Stay home, lose money, risk getting fired and losing future money, but you are safe.

My asbestos friend’s husband actually faced this dilemma. He went in, only to arrive at his work and be sent back home again. But at least it clarifies the line. If you are willing to go out when it is against the law, then yes, you are crazy for being on the roads.

Now, there was one time that I DO wish I had gone to school when I did not. (If you said “Field Day”, wash your mouth out with soap.)

In Kindergarten, we were going to have an “Indian Dance”. We worked all week on making headdresses out of construction paper and vests out of brown paper bags. On Friday we were to get to wear everything we made and dance around. But my mom kept me home because I have diarrhea.

I am still mad at her for making me miss the Indian dance. If I had been there, it probably would have been forgotten with all the other activities we did in Kindergarten. But because I was kept home, in my head it has become legen–wait-for-it–dary.

Barney Rocks

Barney Rocks

Wait…I just realized that sounds very politically incorrect.

Maybe my son and I will have to stage our own dance in the living room, where we can’t offend anyone.

Thankful (Thanksgiving 2013)

My two favorite guys

My two favorite guys

I am thankful for my healthy, talkative son. I am thankful for my husband. I am thankful for my 100+ year old house that keeps us dry. I am thankful for our 3 year old furnace that keeps us warm. I am thankful we did not lose any of these things during our extended periods of unemployment. I am thankful my husband and I are both employed at this time. I am thankful that the aforementioned jobs allow us to pay all our bills, put food in our cupboards, and have a little entertainment as well. I am thankful for Dave, who brings joy to my life every day I look into her little puppy eyes and calm every time I pet her furry, shedding orange coat. I am thankful Parker has not peed on the floor yet today. I am thankful for my in-laws, who are going to feed us Thanksgiving dinner today. I am also thankful that they take my individualism in stride. I am thankful for my mom who babysits in trade for taking her to the store. I am thankful for my asbestos friend and her family, who are like family to me. She is definitely an emotional anchor for me. I am thankful for my S.A.D. light. I am thankful for making big strides in my book writing this year. I am thankful for those who have stuck with my blog, even though I have written less due to work and book writing.

2004 Pontiac Aztek, before all the hail damage

2004 Pontiac Aztek, before all the hail damage

I am thankful for my Pontiac Aztek sitting in the driveway with 216,000 miles on it, that I know will start up as soon as I need it to (and I will give it a courtesy warm up period, since Baby is a senior citizen). I am thankful that my car allows me to get to work, go to the store to buy food, to take my mom to the store to buy food, to take my puppies to vet appointments, to take my mother-in-law to medical appointments, to take us to the zoo, and overall make our life a 1000 times easier than if it were not functioning. (Maybe you need context to know that while we live in a town with daytime bus service Monday through Friday and a number of major name restaurants and grocery stores, 80% of what we do during a week requires us to drive 30-60 minutes away. And my husband and I often head in opposite directions on the same day, at the same time. And his truck only seats two.) I am thankful that I am a practical Capricorn, because my train of thought makes sense to me, even if it does not to everyone else.


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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