Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reading the entrails

If Julius Caesar had had a 48 hours like I have, he would have sent his army home and taken up needlepoint for the season. Alas, we live in more enlightened time, and are nit allowed to use omens as an excuse for cancelling plans.

We've had a quick overnight trip to Hot Springs (America's First Resort) planned since summer began. No big deal. Drive an hour or so down the freeway, go to a water park, ride some rides, stay in a nice hotel, eat, drink, and drive home the next day with the kids' backpacks full of memories.

The trouble started the afternoon before our departure. Our Civic Hybrid wouldn't turn over, and needed a tow to the dealership. It's the car we were planning to drive on our getaway, but no biggie -- the other is in good shape and ready to go.

Then the night before the trip, I heard a funny noise and checked out the central air unit. Uh-oh, there's damness around it, water pooling on some of the flat surfaces, dripping behind the filters (where we tend to get seepage under our floors and carpets), and condensation forming on one of the bathroom registers. Nothing can foil a planned trip like a leak, so we called the service guy, who told us the top of the unit needed better insulation to avoid such sweating. He made a date to come back and do it Saturday morning, and suggested turning the A/C off while we were gone. Nothing to do but try to keep cleaning up the moisture if we wanted to be cool in the meantime.

For some people, a busted car and a spontaneous source of water inside the house might convince them that the trip wasn't in the cards. We were making final preparations to leave the next morning, though, when the universe sent us its final message. I was using our hose reel to coil up the hose not 30 minutes before departure when I felt a sharp sting on my arm -- then on my ring finger, in my side, and under my chin. I caught only the briefest glimpse of a bee or yellowjacket as I shrieked and ran for the house. First time I've been stung since I was a kid, and it hurt like the dickens, especially on my finger. I'm not allergic, thankfully, but as I nursed the four bites, I couldn't help wondering where the heck that came from. I had oo idea there were bees or whatever in that reel or around it; I make several trips a day to the outdoor faucet not 6 inches from there while watering the lawn.

You could take at least the car and the A/C as blessings in disguise. By breaking down before we left, we saved having a bigger disaster with the car out of town, or with a leak when we weren't home. But it was hard to see the insect attack's silver lining. It felt more like a final warning, or maybe a spiteful kick in the teeth. One thing's for sure -- it made me glad to be putting that apparently cursed house in my rearview mirror, if only for a day.

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