June 9, 2016

garage door debacle

Once the little boys I sit for were picked up on Thursday, my focus shifted to packing for our family road trip to Glacier.  Coach works late on Thursdays, so I needed to feed the clan and continue to get their bags packed allowing enough time to drop Reggie off at his baseball game.  The high school water polo awards ceremony had been rescheduled from the week before to this glorious night - the night before we headed out of town for 12 days.  Fabulous. 

I backed the large van, which seats twelve and once served as an airport shuttle, into the garage.  Eddie had agreed to vacuum it out so one of the kids could stuff our sleeping bags under the bench seats.  I was anxious to transfer something out of the growing pile in the kitchen and into the car.  I needed evidence that our enormous pile of gear and food was going to fit. 

My newer vacuum sucks - not in the way a vacuum should suck.  It fails to pull lint into the dust chamber, which replaces the bag on this updated unit.  Instead all the debris gets lodged in the hose of the vacuum.  On more than one occasion while I've actually attempted to clean our house, I've realized that the vacuum has lost suction.  After taking the machine apart I discovered the cause is a backup of crap in the hose.  With a limited amount of time and a lengthy list of jobs I hoped to accomplish before the water polo assembly, my progress stalled in the garage while I wrestled with my impacted vacuum hose.  Eddie, who stood prepared to vacuum the van floor, became invested in this pesky task.  We shoved a wire coat hangar down the hose.  We shook it.  Detached it.  Retried all of the above.  My skin shimmered in a glossy, sweat induced film.  At last I experienced a lightbulb moment.  I instructed him to bring the blocked hose to the yard hose.  A few minutes later he reappeared with a big grin on his face.  He assured me that even with the force of the water it was still no easy task. 

I slopped dinner on plates while Eddie finally cleaned off the floor of the car.  Laddie agreed to drive Reggie to his game but only after torpedoing me with some serious teenage diarrhea of the mouth.  He announced that I would be late to his assembly but he added that he really didn't care if I came.  I admit that my mood was far from calm and collected.  There was much to do and the clock was ticking.  I needed all hands on deck, but Lad was absorbing my energy.  I had corrected him for antagonizing his sister and creating a riff between the two girls, and that incensed him.  Just what I needed.

Lad and Reg raced out the door.  Tetanka mowed a neighbor's lawn.  Mini preparing to walk to the junior high for a recognition event.  I urged everyone to eat quickly while I ran upstairs and changed my clothes hoping that my prior garage sweat-fest would go unnoticed by the other water polo parents.  Eddie and Curly and I hopped in the car a moment later.  As I drove away we heard a loud groan from above the car.  There was a crunching or creaking sound that I wished I could ignore.  I stopped for a moment and jumped out, but I saw no interference between the car and the garage door.  I proceeded to drive out of the garage ever so slowly.  Once we were on the driveway, I turned around and assessed the situation.  The garage door had been knocked off the track on one side.  What the Hell?  Although I hadn't done it for a few years, I had successfully backed the van into the garage in the past.  What could have changed to make it unable to fit?  With the house exposed to any intruders, Eddie hollered at me to drive away.  On the way to the high school, I called Mini and told her to leave the door alone.  It wasn't going to go down.  Tetanka rarely closes doors, or puts his shoes away, or attends to important details, so I guessed the situation wouldn't alarm him but I told her to leave him a note if she was leaving before he got home. 

Mini had given me the phone number from the sticker on the garage wall with the repair shop that last maintained the garage door.  I called them and explained the situation.  The door would have to go down in order for us to head out of town the next morning.  Their emergency fee was $250.  Ouch.  That was just for the visit.  Labor and parts would be additional.  I told them I would try to sort it out myself, and asked how late they could send someone.  I wanted to see if Eddie and Laddie could work some magic.  I'm all for cheap, family labor.

Fearing that the boys might make the situation worse than it was, I asked my dad to come over and supervise.  He stood watch while the boys attempted to unsuccessfully jam the wheels back on the track.  The quick release cord had somehow become jammed in the chain, and nothing would budge.  Laddie decided that certain nuts and bolts would have to be unscrewed near the chain in order to fix it.  This made me nervous.  I imagined that we would create inventory of firewood after the entire door slammed to bits on the cement floor.  Sure enough, once the nuts and bolts were removed, the boys positioned themselves and forced the wheels back on the track.  Lad was able to yank the cord out of the chain.  They aligned the dismembered pieces and we held our breath as we tried the automatic door opener button.  Much to my surprise and delight, the door lurched into action and began to lower without a problem.  I thanked my dad once the celebrations died down.  'I didn't do anything,' he reminded me.  Still it was a more the merrier kind of situation.

As hot and exhausted as I was, I pushed forward and tried to make packing progress.  Once most of the kids had gathered their clothes (a fraction of what they would normally bring on a 12 day trip due to my strictly enforced duffel bag size limitations), I focused on the remaining food items.  Because I failed to realize that hard boiled eggs wouldn't stay fresh for long once their shell was peeled, I leaned against the counter and peeled four dozen eggs into the sink.  My master plan, which blew up in my face when the eggs started to smell bad after about 5 days, included starting each morning with a few hard boiled eggs.  Most of the kids like eggs, and between my celiac disease restrictions and their never ending appetites I thought previously peeled eggs would be convenient for a quick breakfast on the run. 

By the time Coach got home from work my victory over the garage door faded as we realized that the kitchen sink was in need of a plumber.  Apparently the egg shells combined with the discarded food from the graduation party that I shoved down the disposal were wreaking havoc on our pipes.  The plumber agreed to pay us a visit in the morning before our departure.  One step forward, two steps back.  

I may have felt unprepared for our vacation, but never did I feel more in need of a getaway.  Unfortunately, facing a 26 hour road trip with six kids to Glacier National Park knowing that I would prepare most of our meals utilizing contents from various coolers and enrolling the aid of a crock pot was not the kind of spa escape that I ached for. 


1 comment:

Giovanni said...

As a parent also of six, I am sure you did the right thing in opting to have your boys work on the broken garage. In fact, I usually don't bother trying a mechanic, plumber, etc. I do everything remotely possible with my boys. 1) I like doing stuff hands-on, 2) It saves money, and 3) It is very good training for the boys.