Monday, September 30, 2013

Lemonade in action...

Friday morning we set out on a quest to make my husband's dream of owning a Mustang convertible come true. 

We hitched a ride to the local park and ride with our neighbor, rode the bus to Logan Airport where we picked up our rental car, and drove ~500 miles to Niagara Falls for our first overnight on the trek to Cleveland, OH. 

We arrived just before sunset and enjoyed the beauty of the falls and a nice little walk before dinner and then bunking in to a lovely hotel for the night. 

The next morning we got up at 6:15am so we could walk down to the falls in time to see the sun rise. It was gorgeous! We had the place practically to ourselves and walked for about 1.5 hours all around so we could see different perspectives of the falls. (We had to stick to the US side as we hadn't brought our passports.) 

Then we got back on the road bound for Andy's new car in Cleveland. 

On Friday afternoon we had gotten a call from the service manager asking if we could pick up the car on Monday instead as there was a repair that they needed to complete. We told them very clearly that we were halfway into a 700 mile drive and absolutely had to pick it up on Saturday. He assured us it would be ready by noon and that he would be in touch in the morning. 

By 10am Saturday morning, we hadn't heard anything and began calling. Two hours later I finally reached someone... Who proceeded to tell us that we had been told that the vehicle wouldn't be ready until Monday. An argument of monumental proportions ensued and I finished by saying "We are sixty miles away. We are coming there." He didn't say it out loud but I know he was thinking "Oh crap!".

An hour later, two collected but really pissed off people walked through their doors. The salesman A had been dealing with greeted us brightly... until A told him his name and Frank disappeared only to return five minutes later with a linebacker-looking fellow who turned out to be the sales manager. We were quickly escorted into his closed office where A took over with trying to sort out how to fix the issue. 

It quickly became obvious that the car wasn't even on site and had been "subbed out" to another shop for repairs. They suggested that when the vehicle was fixed they could ship it to us... But we couldn't see the vehicle because it was at a closed shop. We decided to walk away from the deal. 

It's not often that you walk away from a car deal and the dealership pays YOU money... But they did. The whole trip cost us about $1000 and the manager felt so bad that he covered the cost of our rental car plus some - $300 in all. 

So we extended our car rental and began the trek home. The weather was absolutely perfect convertible weather but it was not meant to be. 

By the PA line we were over the deal and didn't let it ruin the trip. As we always do, we made the best of it, were happy that we'd taken the time to go to Niagara Falls. We listened to music, danced badly in the car, rode with the sunroof open for a while and by the NY border A was back online looking for another car (iPhones are a miraculous invention!).

By Olean, NY, when I kicked the diet aside and had a glass of wine and dessert, A had zeroed in on another car on Long Island, NY and, had the guy answered the phone Saturday, we probably would have headed that way. 

By the MA border on Sunday, A had spoken to the guy in Amityville, NY, reserved a car hauling trailer and had his son pick it up so it was waiting at home when we got there, had done his research on the dealership, and had plans to head to LI, NY at 5am this morning. 

We arrived back in Boston at about 7:30pm and A's son picked us up after dropping off the rental (we couldn't bear a bus ride home after all of that!) and after dinner, got home around 9:30pm Sunday night. 

1505 miles of driving. 28 hours of drive time. 66 hours away from home and nothing but a good story to show for it in terms of a car. But... we will always have the time we got to spend together and Niagara Falls to count the trip as a success!

At this writing, A is almost to the dealer in Long Island. He deserves to have this car work out for him in every way possible and I am crossing my fingers!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Falling into place...

I have a habit of making the best out of situations. It's a good habit that I am thankful to possess. The only problem is that I occasionally can't see the path to the lemonade and occasionally I don't trust that I'll get there and therefore stress about the not knowing. I almost always get there in one way or another and the older I get the more quickly I am able to see the upside of most things. I almost always end up with the lemonade despite having to jockey a bit to figure out how to squeeze the lemons. 

Almost four years ago I got laid off from a job I REALLY didn't like but it paid well. Panic mode set in but since then, with a few twists in the road, my professional life has slowly sintered into exactly what I want and need it to be (at least for now).

Yesterday I accepted a position with Southern New Hampshire University as an Academic Learning Coach for the innovative College for America program. This job allows me:

A) To keep my current job with the environment corps that I really enjoy and therefore maintain getting outside regularly, connecting with people etc. 

B) To work from home or anywhere in the world that I have phone and Internet access. (In my jammies if I want to!)

C) To take advantage of the benefit of attending graduate school at a discounted rate. 

D) To use my communication and counseling skills to help people move forward in life. 

E) To balance work and home life by giving me the opportunity to give up my on call job that I've done for nearly three years. Being on call means that I can't make plans, travel, entertain etc for 26 weeks (including weekends) per year when I'm on call in case the phone rings and I have to spend hours fixing the issues that have come up. Because of this job I've spent recitals, parades, holiday dinners, anniversaries, etc in my home office or the car while the event unfolds without me. (Thankfully I have a VERY patient husband and family!)

F) To spend more day light hours with our dogs as I'll have a two hour break between my morning job with the SEC and my afternoon job with SNHU. The dogs will be soooo happy!

G) To allow more time for myself at yoga or swimming or whatever else piques my interest because I've got a steady, reliable, pre-planned schedule!

H) To be part of the team that develops the model for online learning that is based on achieving competences rather than sitting through certain classes for a pre-set amount of time. The model launched in January 2013 and with support from President Obama, employers nationwide, and the forward-thinking of the SNHU system, it is continuing to grow exponentially. 

I) To finally be able to give my husband the worry-free thumbs up to purchase his dream car that he's been putting off buying since I was laid off. With my increased income we can still enjoy life AND meet our financial goals. Phew!

It's a home run for me right now. I am still not making the kind of money that I used to make but I'm comfortable where I am about to be and I will absolutely take peace of mind at work over a large pay check from some place I hate to go!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Turning 44...

I turned 44 last week. I'm not complaining. I think I've earned every minute of those 44 years and I'm thankful for (almost) every one of them. (There are a few minutes here and there that I could really have done without but you take the bad with the good, I suppose.)

For my birthday, I got to participate in an interview for a job that A) I'm pretty excited about and B) A little bird tells me that I "nailed" the interview. (It always helps to have a good friend on the hiring panel.) It was fun and not a painful way to start the day. Now I just have to wait for the official word that I've got the job (fingers crossed!) before I can pull the trigger on changing up the hectic makeup of my professional life. 

The interview was in NH and since it was my birthday, A decided to come up for the day and overnight. I really wanted to go for a hike so he brought the dogs with him and we hiked Mt. Belknap. 

The hike was relatively short - only .8 miles up to the fire tower - but it was pretty much straight up and the roughest trail we've been on in a while! There was a constant flow of water down all of the trails (we went up one and down another) that appeared to be present all the time. It has washed out a lot of footing and made much of the exposed rock slick. Even the dogs had a hard time in some spots.

The view from the top of the fire tower was worth the effort though! We could see about 50 lakes including Lake Winnipesaukee and the view was gorgeous!

Even the dogs enjoyed taking a break to look around. 

From the fire tower we took several pictures - some of which came out well and some of which didn't. We tried to use the timer to get a decent picture of the two of us but that didn't work out and I was paranoid about reaching for the camera on the steps and knocking it down four flights of stairs so we did the usual arms-length self portrait. 

At first we thought we could bring the dogs up the tower stairs with us. But after Glacier scrambled to the top of the first flight, we realized that coming up was one thing but going back down was going to be potentially dangerous. Glacier demonstrated what could happen by going back down the stairs head-first with gravity causing her to pick up too much speed. Had the stairs been 4-5 steps longer her butt would have beat her head to the ground by catapulting over her shoulders. Thankfully A was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs and just kind of tapped her rump on the way by to help it maintain contact with the last few steps. Phew!

So we did the undignified thing and tied them up... like dogs... to the post at the bottom so we could climb the tower. Having seen what just happened with Glacier, neither really fussed too much. 

After the hike we got cleaned up and met some friends for dinner in Concord. We went to a steak and seafood place called "O's" that was phenomenal! I had Chilean sea bass over a bed of garlic steamed mussels and spinach - so delicious!

So... With a day like that to start my 44th year, it's obvious why I can't complain!