Methinks my van needs help. 

My check engine light has been on and off periodically since January.  Curiously, it didn’t turn itself on until the metal flap in the channel where I fill my gas tank came up missing.  I did the ‘Key Dance’ that I read about online and came up with an error diagnostic code in my odometer space. 

Did y’all know you could do that?  

Mercy me. I sure as heck didn’t. 

And.  It must be some sort of a Super Classified Secret because it’s no where to be found in the helpful (cough) Chrysler owner’s manual. 


Called the dealership with the code that, according to several websites, indicates it’s some sort of ’emissions sensor issue’.  The service manager asked me if the check engine light was flashing.  Negatory.  He asked if the van was running ‘rough’.  Runs just fine, thankyouverramuch.

He then asked me if the light stayed on all the time.  Umm.  Nope, it’ll go off sometimes when I fill up the tank.  And sometimes it’ll stay off for long periods of time (read:  several weeks). 


Sometimes what trips it to turn on is when I hit a bump in the road.

It’s a very technical problem, you see.

Curiously the service manager told me I could (one) either bring the van in for them to check it out or (two) simply wait until it starts flashing which would indicate something serious. 

I’m so not kidding. 

Let me get this straight.  You’re actually telling me it’s okay to drive with my check engine light on? You are the dealership.  You are a trained technician.

Okay.  I could roll with that.

When the check engine light starts flashing, I’ll give you a jingle. 

PS:  Yes, I do know the other light means I need gas. 
That was in the owner’s manual.


on the caper

This story is rather self-deprecating, and I know I really oughta just keep my yapper shut.  But.  It is mildly humorous.  And against my better judgement, I’m gonna spill.

Cause that’s how I roll.

So.  Went out at lunch today planning to do nothing more strenuous than catching up on my reading for the better part of the hour.  It’s the first day this week that the sun was shining and it’s pleasantly mild.  


I drive a few miles away from the office and park in a business parking lot that backs up against a large grassy field, bordered by woods.  Peaceful. 

Au contraire mon frere. 

I look across the field and notice a car parked in the very back near the treeline.  Since there’s no road to actually get out there, I thought that was a bit peculiar. Then I hearkened back to my youth and thought, ‘You know, it’s probably kids out there with no other place to go to … err … ya know.’  And I said to myself, ‘Girl, you just mind your own business.’ 

So I did.


After about 15 minutes, I look up from my book and I see the trunk pop open and someone is dragging something out of the trunk into the trees.

High alert.

Looks to me now like two men, but it’s a bit o’distance away and I’m not swearing that under oath.  They putz around a bit more, slam down the trunk and start driving oh so slowly across the field.  At this point, I’m scrambling about, rummaging through my purse for a scrap of paper and pen. 

Gawd love us moms who carry everything in their purses.  In lieu of a pen, I could have written the information down in everything ranging from lip liner to eye liner to mascara or made a string sculpture out of dental floss.  Worse case scenario, I could have carved the information into my dashboard with a pair of tweezers.  Because I’m a good citizen.  And good citizens would take one for the team.

But.  I didn’t have to resort to extremes because every organized mom has a pen and paper.  And I did.

As the car is driving towards me, I’m writing down the make and model, taking note of the bazillion bumper stickers, the dent in the passenger side front quarter panel.  Y’all know I am so on the caper.  However.  Once the vehicle hits the parking lot pavement, they go quite a bit faster than my middle-aged eyes can keep up.  So.  I follow them. 

Like any good detective would

When they were briefly detained by the four-way stop sign, I took the opportunity to scribble down their license plate number.  And now, when I tell ya’ll this, I am sayin’ it all serious like. 

My hands were trembling.  They were.

I know y’all are thinking, ‘what a pansy’.  But as for me, I’m sitting in my soccer-mom van pondering, ‘Did I just witness someone dragging a dead body out of their car?  Whatever will I wear to court?’ and finally, ‘What if it’s the Mob?’

Yeah.  Tell me your hands wouldn’t be shaking.

I pulled into someone’s driveway and call the local police station.  I prefaced my story by telling the dispatcher that it could be absolutely nothing, but might be worth a look-see.  Just seemed a right bit suspicious to me.  She tells me she’s sending out a patrol unit and asks if I can wait ‘on the scene’.

How exciting?!  My whole body is practically twitching.

Less than five minutes later the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen drives up in a black police car.  I know this has no particular relevance to the story … but the patrolman was fine. 

Awfully fine.   


He asks me what I saw,  I point out to the field in the approximate location of the alleged crime, and he drives out to investigate.  Did I mention he was really cute?  Cute coming, cute going. 

Anyway, I do have to digress here a moment because the question begs to be asked … are all patrolmen told to be as stoic as possible when going about their business?  This guy reminded me of the time … okay, one of the times … I was stopped for a speeding ticket.  I was pregnant with second son, and the young officer wouldn’t move up to my side window when he pulled me over.  He stood slightly over my left shoulder the entire time, just out of my range of vision.  Being well advanced in my pregnancy I was terribly hormonal and more than a slight bit cranky.  It took every fiber of my being to restrain myself from asking him if he figured I was hiding a curvy round gun under my maternity tent.   But I didn’t.  Which, in retrospect, was probably a pretty smart move.

Anyway.  Where was I?  Ahhh.  Stoic.  The officer today and the officer then never cracked a smile.  Just think how much happier they’d be if they just learned to grin a bit?

So ten minutes later the officer drives back across the field and pulls up next to my van.  He tells me yes, he found something.  Oh my.

A box of lawn clippings.

I’m sorry.  A what? 

I just wasted 30 minutes of my lunch hour trying to solve the
‘Mystery of the Dead-and-Discarded Grass’?!?

In addition to my lack of math skillz, I obviously have absolutely no detective skillz either.  Shameful really.

i heart bacon

The swine flu outbreak has sparked widespread fear — so much so that Egypt has ordered the slaughter of the country’s 300,000 pigs, even though no cases have been reported there.


Over a quarter of a million innocent pigs?  That’s some really scary stuff. 

Alright I know my outrage isn’t based on purely altruistic feelings about the ham beast.  Honestly?  I love bacon.

Love bacon

I love the smell of bacon … the sound of sizzling bacon … the crunchy, crispy bits of bacon and the chewy fatty pieces. 

And don’t y’all get me started on honey-baked ham.

I’m sorry.  I’m practically swooning here.


My friend, C., is an Arab Muslim.  When we go out to dinner, she has to be very conscious of asking if something as simple as a stuffed mushroom is made with any pork.  She tells me, according to Islam if she knowingly eats, as she lovingly refers to our friend, ‘swine’, that it is an unforgivable sin.


My oh my, that’s pretty darn harsh.

I told her she needs to come to the dark side of Christianity.  We are instructed to eat fish during Lent.  Imagine a religion that actually encourages you to consume McDonald’s filet o’fish on Fridays?  I am 100% unequivocally buying into any religion that supports my bad habits.

I am.

But back to the poor pigs.  I wonder what destroying them is going to do to the price and availability of bacon? 

I’m just sayin’ …

what will they think of next

‘Hello God.  It’s me, Margaret.’

A friend called me the other day asking if we were going to our ‘fill-in-the-blank-Catholic-school-our-children-attend’ Reverse Raffle.  Long story short, she’d received, by mistake, an extra set of tickets in the envelope with her tickets.  Since we love this couple to squishy bits … and when I heard who the other couples in attendance would be … I asked hubby and he said, ‘why the heck not?’.  So.  For the first time ever … EVER … we committed to go to the annual function.  And then … because if nothing else … we Catholics are as honest as the day is long *cough* …  I dashed off the $60 check with a note explaining about the ‘extra’ tickets.

The next day said friend emailed me the details for the event … because y’all know I’m not very good at keeping … or in fact, actually reading … all those dadgum, tree-eatin’, here’s-what’s-happenin’ flyers they send home in youngest son’s weekly brown envelope.  She gets that about me.  And she’s very patient.  And keeps me informed.


In preparation for the gala, I’m checking out the entertainment.  Oh my my my.  Psychic readings.  At a Catholic event.  Hmmm.  Now, I’ll preface what I’m going to tell y’all with a little history.  Personally, I don’t necessarily put alot of stock into psychic readings.  When we lived in Central Florida in the mid-80’s, I went with a group of girls from the office to a spooky little town called Cassadaga to have our fortunes read.  The town was old Florida, moss-covered-tree kinda eerie.  The readings, unfortunately, were rather underwhelming.    Since that time, I’ve had a few readings here and there with local friends here.  I don’t read (or believe in) horoscopes or astrology.  But.  That’s just me.  I think if nothing else, they’re … well … entertaining.

However, my personal feelings aside … because no one asked me in the first place … I did think it was ironic that the Catholic Church … y’all got that, right … this is a Catholic event … in the Church gym … okay … just wanted to make sure … would hire a psychic reader as entertainment.  I guess coupled with the beer tent, it must have seemed entirely appropriate.  Yeah.  Because … other than being as honest-as-the-day-is-long … remember the tickets, see above … bottom line is we Catholics are also known to be very engaging and quite liberal when it comes to throwing a shindig.  Where’d y’all think Bingo came from?

I called said friend a few days later for a little chuckle about it.  She tells me that they’ve had this type of entertainment for a few years now and it’s the … can I quote? … ‘…biggest hit of the night!  Gosh, people stood in line for hours to get a reading.’  Hmmm.   Having said all that … I did promise her I’d stand in line with her for a reading.  Why not?  We’ll have beer while we wait and then go to Confession in the morning.

God loves us Catholics.