Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas Break, Part III: Christmas Day, then Over the River and Through the Woods

In Part I, I made it safely to my dad's house, though with the Check Engine light glowing at me during the latter half of the drive.

In Part II, my sister, the kiddo, and I got to watch my brother tell pilots what to do.

My brother got off work at 6:00 a.m. on Christmas Day, and said he had the fastest commute he'd ever had.  :-)  I woke up around 8:30, and he was already up, making fresh-squeezed orange juice, and preparing to make French toast for everyone in a little while.  Apparently he'd taken a very brief nap, and was feeling refreshed.  Eventually, the kiddo got up, and while it was more fun when he DID enjoy the Santa thing, it's kind of nice to have a more leisurely kind of grown-up Christmas.  We looked in our stockings, then had a delicious breakfast courtesy of chef Eric, then sedately opened the presents.  We'd decided that between Dad and us kids, we'd just exchange cheap, if any, gifts, so it was fun to see the creativity, like a foot massager my dad got my sister from Goodwill (a wood board with wooden feet shapes attached by springs).

We have kind of a family tradition, whenever all three siblings and my dad get together, of one (or more) of us creating a Jeopardy game for the other three to get to play.  My brother, however, was ambitious, and without any discussion of doing so, created TWO Jeopardy games, complete with commercial breaks of some hilarious fake commercials from YouTube.  We've come a long way from the first few games that were created with stickie notes!

I had Nathan on my team, and Eric had purposely included some topics he would know, so we had a bit of advantage, I think, and won the first round.  My dad won the second game.

We eventually went back to my dad's house, played some more games (board and card games) while he made Christmas Dinner, and had a lovely evening until it was time for those of us staying at Eric's house to head back there for bed.

In the morning, now that it was finally a business day again, I needed to find out what was wrong with my car.  Eric and my mom both informed me that apparently you can just take your car to AutoZone to get the code read from the computer for the Check Engine light.  So I did just that.

He said it was definitely something in the exhaust system, and if I'd made it the past 100 miles, I could probably make it the next however-many-hundred.  Hope so!

I headed back to the house, loaded up my stuff and Jen's gifts she'd received, then headed to my dad's to pick up Jen herself and the rest of her stuff, which she'd flown over with.  Between planning to go skiing, bringing gifts, and doing some shopping while she was there, she had QUITE a bit of luggage.  Plus of course Nathan had to ride in the back seat on this leg, so we couldn't even fill the back seat full of stuff.

I did manage to squeeze the three people and all our stuff into the car successfully, probably the heaviest payload my car has hauled.  All with the check engine light glowing at me the whole way.  But the trip was otherwise uneventful, and we arrived safely at her house.

You may recall (or you can read about it now if you don't, in the fourth-from-last paragraph in this post) that a dog Jen is fostering didn't really like me (or any visitors) invading his space.  She and her roommate have been working with him with a trainer advising them, and the next step in his training is for visitors to be the only source he associates with a fun toy, which the trainer calls a "flirt stick."  It's a long horse whip (lunge whip, for my horsie readers) with a stuffed dog toy tied to the very end.  It's long enough that the person holding it (me) can be far away from the dog (Harley), in case he decides he doesn't like the intruder.  So when we first arrived, Jen got Harley situated in the back yard, tied to a very secure post, while Nathan and I waited outside.  I changed into some sturdier shoes than the flimsy flats I'd been driving in, and took a deep breath.

Harley didn't even seem to notice ME.  He just saw the toy and whined that he couldn't reach it because he was tied.  Once the toy was in range, he was quite happy to chase and play with it, and didn't care at all that there was a stranger present, which is the whole idea.  Here's some video:

He is STRONG, so when I wasn't really able to grip the rope very well anymore to pull it back from him (I'd fallen down in the snow once, which made my fingers cold and slippery), we figured the training session was over, and Jen stood near him while I stayed out of range, as the realization that play time was over sunk in a bit.  He whined, but it seemed to be strictly about the playtime being over, and not because of the presence of a stranger.  So hopefully that was a success.  They'll have to repeat it a lot more, of course, with other strangers (since I live four hours away), but it seems to be going well so far, anyway.

We left Harley tied up outside a bit longer while Nathan and I sat down for a bit and petted her other two dogs for a bit before hitting the road again.

When we did hit the road, I noticed that the check engine light went off.  As in, not on.  Huh.  I still took it easy on the drive, of course, but only had another hour to my mom's house, which went fine.

At my mom's house, more dog time (now I feel bad I didn't even get my camera out at Christmas, even for pictures of my dad's dog, who is also adorable--I'll have to remedy that next time I visit!), knitting, baby...which I'll save for another post.

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