The Feels Like temperature, or if you will, the Wind Chill, has broken 102.

I am hot.

I wouldn’t be quite so hot if the air conditioner was working, but it seems that the blower motor, or the control panel, or some integral part of the furnace, has succumbed to the lightning strike back in early June that took out the well pump control box, the power to the county, the modem, the phone lines to our zip code, the internet to my brother for a month (which is not funny at all), and the printer. The death toll grows.

The well pump controls were a little scary. Smelled like quite the blow. Singe marks and everything. Methinks we’re lucky to have come home to a standing house.

The power took some time, but once the fine folks at the cooperative remembered that we have our own dedicated fuse thingy, they fixed us right up. That danged pole is a veritable target for lightning.

The Technological Woes keep mounting, but all I care about at this moment is the ETA of my trusty HVAC man. And the patience of my imminent homeowners’ insurance adjuster-man. I’m sure they’re wondering, at this point, how they can surcharge anyone stupid enough to build a house on a hill.

I do care about a few other things.

Let me work backwards.

Thirty minutes ago, Nate the Great Mechanic was here loading our 15-passenger van onto his flatbed. It blew a brake line. In the driveway. Which is a great place to blow one, if you insist on doing so.

Just yesterday I picked that very Rolling Turd up from Nate. He had fixed a different brake line. Mercy did shine forth, it should be noted, in that I somehow made it all the way home, and all the way into the gas station and back before the line blew. It chose a stationary moment to let loose, and for that I am grateful.

When I called Nate, I had to tell him to bring the key he had, since I had, not surprisingly if you ask my family, locked mine into the van after dropping that baby into Park to bring her to a halt.

Why does Nate have my keys, you ask?

Nate has my keys, because Nate has my other van, the Montana, which needs a brake job. It’s all a bit much to comprehend, really. The vehicular sequence looked like this, to soothe any confusions:

  1. Last week: The Boundary Waters trip is coming right up. Time to get the Big Rolling Turd up and running, and insured, and ready for the trip. Time to fix that rusty brake line.
  2. But wait, the Toyota has a flat. Let’s take that in first.
  3. Time to exchange Turd for Toyota. But wait. Turd won’t start. Jump. Charge. Bang. Trickle. Swear. Give up.
  4. Toyota picked up with a new tire. Turd not delivered.
  5. Sunday: After much swearing, it’s time to tow the Turd with the trusty snap strap and the faithful truck.
  6. In towing, let’s rip the front bumper off. Because one is really enough.
  7. Turd is delivered, dead in the water, to Nate’s driveway (middle of), who future digital documentation archeologists might confuse with our investment banker.
  8. Turd gets a new brake line, and a new starter to boot.
  9. Yesterday: Off to exchange the Montana for the Turd, when I realize the squeaky noise has disappeared. Woot Woot! I grab my mother to pick up the Turd with me, instead of a nice even-up vehicular exchange. Finally, things are coming together.
  10. This morning: I take the middle kiddo to work. The Montana, it turns out is NOT better, but worse. It’s making a face at me. Like a two-year-old who fooled you into stepping in poo. I dial Nate again, because I almost miss him. Drop the prankster of a minivan off. (Thanks, Mom, again.)
  11. At home, time to drop the trailer onto the Turd to make sure the lights work, which of course, they don’t quite. Take it for a quick stroll around the block to wear down the rust on the ball and establish some happier contacts. 1/16 of a mile down the road I remember there is NO GAS in here. I meant to put a can in at home so I could even get it as far as the station, but memory isn’t my strong suit. 1/16 of a mile later, I drag the Turd through my brother’s field access to make a U-ey and grab that gas can. She dies at a perfect perpendicular to the road. We, the Turd, the Trailer and I, are blocking the entire road.
  12. I run home. A-hem. I jog home. OK, I jog for the first seventeen paces, then speed-walk the rest of the way. It is so hot. I grab gas, truck, wallet, and phone, and fly back.
  13. Miracle of miracles, the Turd roars to life on the first crank. We trundle into town to fill her thirsty tank. We make it. I fill the tank. And the empty gas can. And I head home. I test the lights (again). Brake line blows while standing still.
  14. Speed-dial to Nate. Wrecker en route.
  15. I run (walk, leisurely, with spite) back to my brother’s to retrieve the truck, which, against all odds, wasn’t stolen out of his field. It drives home without a single grumble or grunt.
  16. 30 minutes ago: Nate arrives, with my key, opens my door, and runs away with my Rolling Turd.

I’m just plain beat when I come in and feel that it is strikingly warmer in the house than it should be. And so I am here, sitting under the ceiling fan, the one appliance apparently impervious to lightning strike, ranting into my malfunctioning laptop.

But still, I am not done…

So. Much. Gear.

We’re supposed to leave for our annual BW journey early Saturday morning. My house looks like an outfitter exploded within it. The dehydrator is whirring away with the last batch of apples, trays so caked full of food and detritus that it will take a week-long soak to clean them. There are half-packed packs, barrels overflowing with food, empty bins and full bins and upturned bins everywhere. Drybags and batteries and stuff sacks littering the whole works. I should really include a picture or seven.

But even in the home stretch of packing, I fear that this trip is not going to actually happen, and it is really wreaking havoc with my packing/prepping mojo.

Magnetic melon kiddo was at camp last week and came home with concussion number six, a freak foosball accident to blame. Don’t even get me started. She lives under cover of hat and sunglasses, and the idea of jumping into the wilderness is a little sketchy at this point, but we’re not new to this rodeo. She’s improving daily, and we’re optimistic.

How he usually looks. I’ll spare you the updated photo.

But Dad. Dad who has never been sick in his life, unless you count the emergency appendectomy. Dad who is so stubborn that he’ll get that total shoulder replacement AFTER we make the BW trip this year (It’s scheduled for the next week). Dad who has never missed a day of work.

DAD is down for day three of the flu. Days one and two, of course he went to work, because he is Dad. And doesn’t understand the ways of healing. For why would he? But things got so dire last night that he handed me the cell phone weakly (after taking a painful amount of time and dejected tapping to pull up his messaging app, ever helpful) to text the boss and inform him that he was near-death. This is not good.

This is not good.

This is not pretty.

And I am not convinced that God isn’t trying to tell us something.

But still I pack. Because that Turd, even after I ran it dry, roared to life without so much as a whinnie. And that is something.

Because the brake line blew in the driveway when it could have careened me into the river. And that is something.

And because the concussed child I just picked up from work doesn’t have a headache. And that is something even greater.

The canoes are tied down to the trailer. I’ll unload the dehydrator in a few hours. The packs will be cinched down, the bear-barrels will be lidded and locked. The vans will return from their captor, and with any luck, they will run, and the Turd will bear us faithfully into the Boundary Waters for the ninth year running. And we will all survive.

And it will be all the sweeter for the adversity that preceded it.

And when we come home, we will have air.

With great hopes and prayers and a healthy dose of against-all-odds optimism,

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