The Car as My Teacher

Yesterday could have been a bad day. It started out okay. I am now working as a substitute, so each day is different work-wise. There weren’t any jobs I could make it to at first, but as R and I were heading out the door for school, a new job popped up. I wasn’t really dressed for work, but I decided to go anyway in my hoodie and jeans. It was at my old job, so I was basically subbing for myself. Kind of funny! The kids seemed happy to see me. You can’t always tell with autistic kids, but once you get to know them, you discover their individual ways of expressing emotion. Work was great, I was feeling a little tired(moon time) but have been eating healthier so it was tolerable. After work, I had some time to spare before I headed out to get R from school. I picked up some groceries, including a huge bag of carob chips. I am going to make some goodies this weekend for sure. Before I left town, I had just enough time to go visit my younger sister and her newest baby. She was born early, and is so tiny! 7 pounds is small in our family. I snuggled with her for a while, and then headed home.

Our car has been acting up lately. Over-heating issues. We haven’t had the money to go in and have it looked at. So I filled it up before I left town. I am about halfway to R’s school when the car starts making some funny noises. The oh-so-familiar pinging noise many of us hear when we try to push it with our cars. This car doesn’t typically make that noise. I right away started sweet-talking to the car. “Come on, Sweetie, just get me to R’s school and get us home safely”…..that kind of thing. Well, it didn’t work. I made it over a hill before the car had enough. I pulled over and as soon as I did, it died. Great. To make matters worse, I was out of minutes on my cell phone. Okay. I got out of my car into the drizzling rain and walked around to the front of the car. Steam was pouring out of the front. Not a big surprise. Cars were whizzing by. I was late getting R at this point and had no way of letting anyone know what was happening. As I was standing there weighing my options, a white SUV cruised by. It was an older car, not one of the fancy ones I saw just fly by. It had a disabled parking tag hanging from the rearview mirror. The kind older gentleman turned around and pulled in behind me. He rolled down his window and asked if I needed help. I burst into tears and managed a “yes please”. He got out of his car, patted me on the back and said it would be okay. He had a longer beard and was dressed in a typical fashion of the country folk in our area. He kindly offered to give me a lift to a phone(he gave his cell phone up when he retired, I later learned). Despite all the warnings a woman hears about getting in a car with a strange man, I felt this man was safe. He turned out to be a very nice person, and took me to his home a little way up the road. I got to meet his dogs, one a rottweiler mix. His house wasn’t super fancy. The furniture had obviously been used by all members of the family, including the dogs. I called R’s school and then tried to call a neighbor to come and get me. She was in town and couldn’t, so the man offered to take me to R’s school and home. I told him if he could just drop me off at the school, I would be ever grateful. On he way there, we talked about all sorts of things, including veganism. Here I was, talking to a third-generation hunter about a plant-based diet. I admitted to him that when I was younger, I was very judgmental of people who chose to eat meat. I told him that I not feel people should eat what works for them. It was very interesting. He dropped me off and I thanked him some more. I had nothing to offer, but he went out of his way to help a stranger.

I got R from the office, called for a ride, and then went outside to wait. R’s school is a country school, so there are trees and grass and boulders galore on the school grounds. After about five minutes of running around like a crazy animal, he joined a couple kids on the rocks. The kids’ dad was there helping them, and he immediately started helping R jump from rock to rock. He was waiting for his wife, who works at the school. Between jumps, he started talking to me. He was quite the character. As I mostly listened to him, I reflected on how interesting the day had become. I had some really bad luck, but I met some very unique people as a result. People can frustrate me, but most of the time, people fascinate me. I love to know their stories. So I contentedly listened to this stranger talk. I hardly got a word in. After his wife came out and they left, a car pulled up. I thought it was my ride so I started waving like a maniac. It wasn’t my brother-in-law, but a woman I didn’t know. We laughed about me waving at her like that and her waving back. My brother-in-law pulled in right behind her.

He gave us a lift to my car so I could pick up my groceries, then took us home. We talked the whole time about all sorts of things. He dropped us off and then took D to the car to see if he could lurch it home. He made it after putting a bunch of water in it.

We will find out this weekend if the problem is bad or not-so-bad. I am happy that I was able to turn something really negative into a positive adventure. I had some interesting conversations, and got some fresh air.

I have to miss a day of work today, which isn’t ideal considering our financial situation. I am going to embrace this day at home with my family.


Grocery Shopping Fun

Ah, grocery day! We use food stamps right now, so when our card is loaded, we head in to town to do our monthly shopping trip. My darling and I have decided that doing the bulk of our shopping once a month is a great way to save on our grocery bill. We get all the staples, and then leave some for produce(which we pick up weekly). Usually one of us makes up the list the night before, and then we all troop in to get the goods the next morning. I think the cashiers fear that we are extreme couponers when we come to their register with our overflowing cart. I have seen the look of panic flash in their eyes. Nope, we aren’t couponers, though maybe we should use more coupons. We have just found a way to shop that works for our family of five. We are a vegan family, who prefer to eat organic, whole food as much as possible. The simple act of eating mostly whole food is a huge part of why the five of us are able to eat the way we do for only around $650 a month. Those processed veggie burgers, boxed cereals, and meals in a box could add up. I ate that way when I was in my 20’s, but I certainly wouldn’t be able to feed my kids that way now. Nor would I want to. It helps that I love to cook.

Today’s shopping trip was a little different. It started out with my guy offering to stay home with our new dog. Shortly after my sweet, old hound passed away (around the winter solstice), a new dog came into our lives who desperately needed a family to love him. He is a sweet dog, but he has major separation anxiety. He practically destroyed our futon last time we left him at home. So hubby was out, and then my 11 year old step-daughter awoke with a sore throat, so she was out, too. I woke my other two sleepy-heads(at around 11 am!) and after I got them all bundled up, we loaded up and headed out to face the crowds. Boy, were the stores packed! I was really happy that I had done yoga in the morning, because if I hadn’t, I probably would have been a bit of a you-know-what. Driving into town, I had prepped myself for the possible madness we would face in town, and I vowed to make the shopping trip a happy trip.

Our shopping trips usually involve visiting three stores. I like to start at the Grocery Outlet to see if we can get some of our list taken care of at a discounted price. I scored some organic olive oil and a case of unsweetened almond milk among other things. Next was a local discount grocer, where I got most of the rest of the list knocked out. At this point, the wee ones were getting a little sick of this shopping thing. My 18 month old got her finger stuck in a rack at the check-out counter, and my 5 year-old was bouncing around and asking if we were done yet every five seconds. I kept calm, though, and am very proud at how I was able to keep upbeat despite it all. Our last stop was Fred Meyer, my favorite of the three. At that point, the list was quite a bit shorter and the kids were happy after eating bananas on the way between stores and because I let them ride in the “car cart” , so this time it  was much more pleasant. We got our list done and headed to our final destination, Papa Murphy’s. Their crust is vegan, and they are really good about catering to vegans. They never roll their eyes when I ask them to change their gloves before handling our food.Big plus there. We always get the family size veggie pizza without cheese and red sauce instead of white sauce. I top it with Daiya cheese before putting it in to bake. So very good! It is one of my guilty indulgences. For dessert, we had picked up some coconut ice cream, including my new favorite, Coconut Bliss Mocha Maca Crunch. Oh, baby! For the kids, we got some Coconut Secret Raw Berry Fusion ice cream.

By the time we were heading back out to the river, I was getting a little bit of a blood-sugar crash. I popped the pizza in as soon as we got home and by the time the hubby and I had finished bringing in and putting away the groceries, it was done.

Now here I sit, contemplating a cup of tea and ready to put my feet up and enjoy the evening. I may play a round of Grateful Dead-opoly with the kids. Or we might just watch the boob-tube and read. It’s vacation time. We only have four days left before it’s back to work and back to school. I am going to embrace these idle days. With cupboards full of food.

Yay for veggies!!!!

Yay for veggies!!!!