Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Don't Forget the Carrot Cake: An Object Lesson in Breathing, Relaxing and Drinking Black Tea Often

Lilliputian oil spill courtesy of Gizmo.
I've had an opportunity - another one of many, as we all have - to use Veranda Life's mantra today.  I noticed an oil leak from my car, Gizmo, over the last couple of weeks, and it wasn't extra virgin olive.

Furthermore, Gizmo isn't given to excessive leaking, not even to the media, and since he was recently serviced and given the tick of optimum performance (for a 14 year old), I thought it prudent to ring the car doctor and book him in.

At first, Gizmo's mechanic thought it might be the oil filter.  Apparently, a faulty batch found its way onto the market and a number of cars have had their bad, naughty filters replaced with better behaved ones over recent months.

'I can cope with that,' I thought, when I dropped Gizmo off this morning and walked home on a perfect blue sky day. There were some niggling other thoughts which crowded out Verandaku activity.  Like the loose feel to the way Gizmo's been driving lately.  And the much noisier, high-pitched whining sound when he gears down.  And the fact that the speedo's been dropping instantly to zero the second I take my foot off the accelerator.  Hmmm.

Gizmo's mechanic, 'Uncle' Bevan, rang an hour later.  It turns out Gizmo's 'diff,' in its current incarnation, is on its way to heaven as I write.  A 'diff' is a differential.  No, not differential diagnosis where you differentiate between two similar diseases - they do that a lot on House, don't they?  Now I know what it means because I just looked up the Shorter Oxford.  This car  differential is a majorly important part of Gizmo's gizzards, and gears.  It has to do with axles and speeds and well, let's just leave it at that.

It would seem that Gizmo is in the throes of a mid-life car crisis.  A few weeks ago I had the timing kit replaced at great expense to the management, as a precaution.  And now, the 'diff' is dodgy to the tune of up to two grand, give or take a dollar.  A rebuild is required, and is cheaper than an entirely new 'diff' and more likely to last than a second-hand 'diff' which could exhibit the same problem any old time.

Did I swoon, faint, totter, mutter zanily under my breath, or otherwise exhibit signs of the screaming habdabs?  I did not. I approved Gizmo's major surgery, the removal of his 'diff' and associated innards to a transmission shop for rebuilding and refitting.  Doesn't 'diff' get annoying?

'Leave it with Uncle Bevan,' said Gizmo's mechanic.  So I did, even though 'Uncle' Bevan is not a blood relation and might easily fit the mould sitting outside Satriale's with Tony Soprano.  Luckily, 'Uncle' Bevan and I get on - we both love Matchbox cars, and my Gizmo.

After the call, I went to the front door and stared forlornly at the space where Gizmo lives, noting the cleanup required of the offending oil leak by a heavy duty degreasing agent.  Or, we could paint the concrete charcoal.

Then I fed our little veranda cat, took a deep breath, and relaxed my shoulders.  I made a cup of tea, and cut myself a slice of carrot cake.  And I'm feeling no pain.  It's only money, after all, and if you want to know what Goddess thinks of the monstrous moolah, just take a look at who she bestows it upon.  Who said that?

And I realised that there's something to be said for being (temporarily) car-less.  Someone else takes responsibility for a major piece of machinery for a few days.  I have the best excuse in the world for not leaving the house, except to walk to the library and around the neighborhood in search of Verandakus.  My carbon footprint moves from tyrannosaur to canary, sort of.  Perversely, even without the means to get around quickly, I feel lighter, freer somehow.  That'll wear off the minute I realise there are groceries to buy and window-shopping to be enjoyed.  But, for the moment...

Soon, Gizmo will return to me, almost new somewhere inside, and ready to resume his place in the carport with his perfect differential diagnosed, and his timing still perfect.

In the meantime, as I breathe, relax, and drink more black tea with carrot cake, I'll get the next post ready, the Carrot Cake recipe and give you the opportunity to enjoy calmness with bonus carotene.  Sleep well, small Gizmo, in your temporary home.  Please leave on a nightlight, Uncle Bevan.

Next: The best Carrot Cake recipe this side of the Pecan.

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