Normally one might that a diary entry posted on the last day of the standard calendar year would be a wrap-up for the year in total, but I actually have instead a list of things about which I'd intended to talk earlier, but never managed to dedicate the time to actually saying simply because of other events that occured along the way. So, instead of a summary of the past twelve months, instead this is a full review of, oh, the last two weeks or

The House

On December 19, we officially became members of the gentry. That is, landed homeowners. Well, I say we. The ugly truth is that I became gentry, because Jessie and I were both afraid that her credit rating and employment history, whatever they are right now, would negatively affect our chances. I do want her name on the mortgage paperwork, but that's something that'll probably have to wait until the re-fi, if we ever do one, which considering our interest rate we may not.

It feels very strange to own a house; it's there, and yet it's not really real yet. I know consciously "this house is mine" and yet because we don't live in it yet and don't see it every day, it hasn't really sunk into my head that this is a permanent thing for the next five to ten years. So I guess it's not really permanent, but it'll be longer than I've lived anywhere since my parents' houses.

The Car

On December 20, I bought a "new" car—a 1987 Volvo 240DL—for a really good deal, or at least what I felt like was a good deal. It was a thousand less than he was asking online for it, and he felt confident that he could've gotten his asking price, but he said he knew I had really bad luck with cars, so he offered to sell it to me for cheap so I'd finally have a good car to drive. He told me it was rock solid, and that I'd
have a real hard time breaking it, which I seem to do to all my vehicles.

I managed, of course, but that story follows shortly.

The Christmas Trip

We left for Jessie's parents' house last Wednesday, with the intent of arriving Thursday morning and sticking through to Saturday arvo, then heading back and returning to the apartment early Sunday afternoon, in time to head to work Monday morning and get the half-week for which we're scheduled

As always, visiting home was a blast. We arrived on Christmas day, which meant that we went pretty much into opening presents and such. Jessie arranged to get me something that... well... it's incredible. I've long wanted a "family portrait", and she had one commissioned for us. It made me cry looking at it. It still does. It's beautiful. Thank you, my love. And thank you, Sue, for the work itself.

The rest of the extended family arrived around 16h00, and we all chatted and opened more gifts. I do have to admit there's one member of the extended family that manages to unnerve me a bit when she's around. She's perfectly nice, but she's a shade too perky and too shades too animatronic, going from total passivity to lively conversion and back with a startling ease. I know she's had a rough life, and her ex is a rather nasty piece of work, so I don't blame her for the way she acts, but it still makes it difficult for me to interact with her. Jessie's grandmother was there, and she invited us to go out with her for dinner the following night, which was totally unexpected. Jessie's dad made way too much turkey and ham, and I indulged greedily in both.

We stayed at Jessie's brother's apartment with he and his wife Thursday night, then got up the next morning and had breakfast with Erick before heading back to Jessie's parents' place. That day is pretty much a blur, mostly because we spent the day talking with Mom, then went to dinner with Jessie's grandmother as invited the day before. That was weirdness and a half by itself, too. Until that trip, I had never heard her be positive and polite about anything in recollection, but over dinner she made light conversation about all of her dead friends and then we talked about playing bingo at the civic center on Tuesdays with people older than her. Very creepy.

After dinner, we returned to Erick's and Daisy's place and snacked on leftover Chinese food while we played Talisman, which is apparently one of Erick's all-time favorite board games. I haven't played a board game other than Scrabble in years, so it was quite refreshing to actually do so. I learned, however, a valuable lesson: never let one's spouse roll for the bad guy.

Saturday morning we ate at a Kip's Big Boy, of all places, for breakfast, and then at the traditional Bob Evans for lunch. I say traditional because we usually eat there just before heading home, and we did it again this year, so it's turning into a strange sort of tradition. At any rate, Jessie's mom didn't want us to leave, which she says every year and is its own tradition, and then we finally managed to start home. Normally we partition the drive back into two days, each of about five hours. I like to put in the bulk of
the driving on the first day, but rarely can I sit through the whole trip in a single shot, so we overnighted somewhere in Pennsylvania and then planned to finish up the trip Sunday morning and be home by about 15h00. 

Sunday at 11h00, the fuel pump on the car died on the interstate.

We didn't know it was the fuel pump when it died, of course. We just knew that the car engine suddenly quit and then refused to start, and we had no idea why. I frantically checked the oil and found it to be off the dipstick, so I had a good panic attack about burning out the Volvo engine a week after getting it, which Jessie managed to avert mostly by telling me to quit freaking out and relax. Some kind woman on her way to Allentown stopped and called 911 for us, and the state trooper called us a tow truck which took us to Kylertown, a small hole-in-the-wall at Exit 131 or thereabouts, notable only in that the town's entire purpose of being is to feed the truck stop. It has a motel, a truck wash, a truck garage, a post office, and four stores. Maybe you could count the pizza parlor.


Of course, the car died on Sunday, so the regular car garage up the road in the next town over wasn't open, and the mechanic at the truck garage tried to look at it but really couldn't tell us much; he did warn us that neither foreign models nor car engines were his specialty, so we didn't expect too much, but it did mean we were stuck at least until the next day when we could contact the local regular garage and have someone inspect the car. At least the roadhouse had good food.

Monday morning, they found out the fuel pump had died, but they didn't have the part it needed in stock, so they wouldn't have the car fixed until Tuesday morning, so that meant we'd be there until Tuesday morning, possibly longer if the part didn't arrive or anything else happened.

Now, to our credit, Jessie and I both packed overmuch for the trip. We had a full week's worth of medication each, and clothes for as many days just in case. However, Tuesday meant the absolute outside limit on our pills, and Jessie had therapy this morning, so it became imperative that nothing else died, I get very panic-prone when I become reliant on other people for things when I'm under a deadline, so I spent most of Monday and the better part of Tuesday morning trying not to have a fit.

We finally made it home last night around 16h40, two days later than we had planned to return. I missed two days of work to the car, but at least I was back in time to do some work before the New Years'

The Car Redux

So, now that we're back from the trip, the fuel pump on the car is fixed, but it's got a rash of other problems that I should have investigated. The overdrive light on the dash is constantly lit now, meaning it's not working, but I checked the fuse panel and the fuse marked "Overdrive" is still good, as far as I can tell, so something else in the overdrive system is wonky and should be repaired. It's annoying, but not crucial. More worrying, however, is the Volvo's new habit of sputtering when I first start it after it's been sitting a while. It'll start, then start to stall and suddenly rocket up in RPMs to twice its base idle, then slowly die again and repeat the cycle until I put on the gas. I've also had it stall out on me while trying to reverse or advance slowly in a parking lot, so the fuel pump may not be properly calibrated. It's worth investigating, definitely, but it's going to have to wait until after...

The Trip Redux

As soon as I get off of work, Jessie, Tanya and I are supposed to be heading down to Andi's for the New Year's Bash. It'll be good to see Shay, as well, 'cause she's staying down there and she didn't make the Bash in July. I just wish that Kelly could come with us, but she can't get the days off. We didn't tell her early enough, I guess. That and I know she's getting beaucoup overtime for the days.

Originally we had planned to take my car, but at the moment I'm still wavering somewhat on the wisdom of this plan and Tanya has insisted her car is more than roadworthy for the trip. It might also afford us more legroom which would be good for all involved. I would've thought the Volvo would get better gas mileage, but with the overdrive malfunctioning that's no longer a guarantee, plus I don't have cruise control which Tanya says she wants to have, so we'll probably ending up in her landyacht, which will be fine.

The Diet

I know I haven't talked much about this lately. It's been something of a sticking point for me mostly because I've been keeping steady but I'm not losing anything and it's been frustrating. However, I must gloat here briefly: I lost two pounds over the Christmas trip.

That's about it. Nothing else is happening.

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