Stowaway!

So on Friday morning, while I was packing my food for work, I started to hear a repeated meowing. I followed the sound to behind a door that leads to a stairway that goes both to the basement and the garage. I thought one of our cats got caught behind the door. I opened it while pondering how they snuck around us when we got home. No one was there, but the meowing continued. I walked down the stairs and found it was coming from the garage. Even worse a neighborhood cat somehow got stuck in our garage last night!

I walked into the garage and heard the meowing coming from under my car.

“Hi kitty!”
“Meow!”
“Hello kitty!”
“Meow!”
“It’s okay. You can come out.”
“Meow!”

The cat was content to stay put and not come to me. I tried to call my husband who was upstairs on his cell to tell him the news. He didn’t answer. So I walked back upstairs and yelled up the frantic news. Giuliano told me to just open the garage and let it out. (I was worried it didn’t have food or water all night!)

When I got back to the garage, all was silent. I called out and no meow. I opened the garage door, but I didn’t see anyone run out. I left the garage door opened, left the room, and went to finish packing my food. Maybe it needed time alone to feel safe to flee. When I was done packing my food I told my husband to please check the garage again before he left work to make sure the cat was gone. I went back and I looked all around my car. I looked under it. Nothing. I looked over each tire. Nothing. I put my stuff in the car, got in, rolled down the driver’s side window, and did the slowest reverse you have ever seen. No meows. Nothing. It must have got out. (I found out later that my husband forgot to check the garage before he left home for work.)

So I did my day of work, thinking of the poor cat and its poor owner that missed it! I felt so bad. When I got home I peered into the garage before slowly pulling the car in. Nothing. I closed the garage door and walked up the stairs. When I opened the door to the main floor I noticed Emily there. She ran down the stairs and was very interested in the basement door. That didn’t seem like a good sign. I called my husband with the news. We agreed to have him park outside and we’d both look in the garage. We did, and we didn’t find anything. Cat must be gone.

Forward to Saturday morning. For some reason my biological clock thought sleeping in was giving me an extra hour. I woke at 6:15am. Thanks I grumbled to myself. I listed to some music on my iPod as I started to plan out my day. As I did I swore I heard Emily meow. I lifted off my headphones, but didn’t hear anything. I didn’t see her down the upstairs hallway either. Now worried I decided to check downstairs. I paused in front of the door that led downstairs. I swore I heard meowing but at this point it could have been my imagination getting away from me. I slowly turned the knob. It was definitely meowing. The same meowing. Now I’m in a full panic. The poor cat’s been in there since Thursday evening! I run yelling to my husband Giuliano again and having him get up and help me find the cat. Meanwhile I grabbed some food and water for the poor thing.

When we got down the stairs and turned the knob, I heard something scamper away. Again the meowing came from under my car. Giuliano looked under it with a flashlight. We didn’t see anything. Worried now I asked him to open the hood, hearing in the past that cats like to hide there. I didn’t check it Friday morning and now I feared I took the cat for a ride! He popped it and I lifted it up. He looked around with the flashlight and we saw a tiny bundle of gray. A kitten! Oh my God. It was under the hood. Giuliano reached for it but it ran away to the other side of the garage. I went over there, got a bit of a hold on the kitten but it ran away. We tried to get it there, but it went back under the car’s hood. Then it ran to the back of the car over the muffler. Back and forth. This was a losing battle. Any grip Giuliano got on it, it got away.

At that point I suggested getting Emily down there. She was interested in the cat the previous day. Maybe she’d help us find it. She didn’t really help. Our cat Boo did. Every time Boo cried behind the closed main door for us, the kitten mewed back in return. Finally we chased it to the stairs. My husband ran after it, shutting the door behind him. Emily was on the stairs and “pointed” out the kitten to Giuliano. He finally got it, but was scratched and bitten in the process. I grabbed the small cat carrier and Giuliano put the kitten in it. We brought the carrier and kitten upstairs.

Some of our cats went to see the visitor. And yes some of them hissed. Others ignored the kitten like it didn’t exist. Kero just stared and stood like a statue from a safe distance.

We waited for the vet’s office to open at 9am. While we waited Giuliano went and got some cat’s milk we had and a dropper. He fed the kitty and it lapped it up! Yay! A good sign.

At about 9 we left and told the story to the vet’s office. I told them my nickname for the kitten: Little Mousie. Cause well the kitten’s gray and it ran around everywhere hiding like a mouse! So they put down Mousie on the kitten’s papers. Heh. I swear it’s a nickname only! The vet says the kitten is 6 weeks old, a good age, about 2 pounds, and a boy! He got his first shot and was tested for leukemia and feline AIDS. The test was negative. But they didn’t get a fecal sample to test for anything else, so until then we have to keep him apart from our other cats. They gave us some flea medicine and gave him a sample of some canned food. Boy did he eat! I’ve never seen a cat so hungry. The vet plopped the can in the carrier with the kitten and he ate and ate like crazy. More good news!

So we took him back home. He’s been shaking a lot. He’s still very scared of everything he’s been through. He has no idea what humans are. He likes to hide and meow, probably hoping his mom will find him. Poor thing!

We have to keep an eye on him. If he gets sick, we have to take him to the vet. Giuliano was bitten, as was a tech assistant at the vets office (probably when they drew blood). So we’re hoping the kitten doesn’t have anything that can pass to people.

We’ve been giving the little kitten a lot of love. We also set aside one of our bathrooms for him. A bed, a box, a litter box, food, water, and a place to safely explore. If we let him into the house we’d never find him!



So here’s the thing I need from my visitors. This kitty needs a name! One major stipulation, the name can’t start with a K sound. We already have a few cats with names that sound like that. Japanese names are welcome since he hid under my Subaru. (In romaji please. And not Neko. I’d rather not name a cat “cat” in Japanese. Not Subaru either. ;P ) We don’t have anything to offer other than our thanks, and a scared but sweet boy to carry the name you picked.

And for Valentine’s, I got…

     My car back from the repair shop aka Dealership.

     Backing up now. A little over a month or so, I took Haku in for an oil change. It turned out my belts were cracking. The oil change place did not have them in stock. So as soon as we could, Giuliano and I took the car to Pep Boys to get the belts replaced. Now the priced they quoted on the phone turned out to be only for 1 belt. The person on the phone didn’t realize there were 2. So they kept to the price and changed them.

     A week later I started having problems turning my steering wheel. Then as I turned the wheel too far in one way or another, the belt squealed really loudly.

     Haku went back to Pep Boys, but they were already busy with repairs. I mentioned the car was getting hard to turn and the person I talked to came out to look at the car. We turned the wheel as he watched. He said that when we turned it, the pump stopped working and the belts were getting frayed. Now Giuliano had checked the belts earlier, and one seemed loose. The guy pressed on it and said it was tight enough. The mechanic said the pump or the rack was failing. However they had to order a pump. As this was right before MLK, we worried who would be open. We decided to go to Subaru, the dealership, for the repair. If it was something slightly major, we wanted a professional taking care of this car.

     My car went to Subaru on Jan 17th, and the verdict was.. the belt was loose, the pump is fine.

     Now I had noticed a noise under the hood from time to time after the belts were replaced or so. But it went away, so I couldn’t take it anywhere since they wouldn’t hear it. The noise remained, even though I had hoped it was related to the previous car problems. Then it started to happen more often and get worse. Finally it didn’t really go away.

     So I convinced Giuliano to take Haku back to Subaru and an appointment was made on Jan 30th. At first it seemed that the crankshaft was bent. Then the news got worse.. much MUCH worse.

     The bolt that held the pulley for the crankshaft got loose. The key ripped off and the end of the crankshaft got chewed up. Unfortunately by the time I heard the noise the damage was already done. The whole engine block had to be replaced. The rest of the engine was in good shape and could be rebuilt into the block.

     Subaru lent me a loaner for free, a 2006 Subaru Legacy sedan (blue), complete with a sun roof and leather interior. I enjoyed driving it a couple of times, but I spent most of the time depressed about Haku.

     Finally today I got word that my car repairs were done. The final verdict, the block was replaced with a new one, the oil pump was built into the block and was stuck so it was replaced, and the timing belt was stuck so that had to be replaced too. The repair cost just over $5,100. 🙁

     Giuliano and I came to an agreement on the repairs. I, of course, cannot afford a repair that costly. So Giuliano paid for the repairs. In turn all of my tax refund will go to Giuliano to pay him back for repairs. I’ll also most likely have to divert money to him whenever possible to continue to pay off the repairs. (Depending on how much of a refund I get.)

     So instead of a nice dinner and a nice engagement ring for 5k, I got a new engine block, oil pump, and timing belt.

     *Sighs.*

     Well at least there aren’t many big repairs left now. The car should last till at least 160k or so now, I hope. Now I just have to get used to driving Haku after driving the loaner for 3 weeks.

The big news… finally

     Sorry about the long wait on the news. I needed to upload the picture to show everyone. With my PC giving one final gasp and needing a nearly complete overhaul.. well.. it took time to recover everything I needed again.

     So here’s the news. On August 27th in the morning I became the brand new owner of a Subaru.
     I wasn’t kidding when I said my old car has to go. The AC repair job was the last and final straw for me. So I went car shopping and bought a 1998 Subaru Outback Limited (automatic transmission) which had just over 61k on it from a used car place.
     I took the car for an inspection at a local Subaru dealership prior to purchase since it seemed to shake when driving. It was discovered that the previous owner was either unaware or just an idiot or both, because they put different type and size tires on the car. Different type/size tires + all wheel drive = differentials get busted. Other than that though, the car was solid. Even the first owner wrote down all their repairs on the owner’s manual which was in the glove box. (I did a background check on the car to find it had 2 previous owners.) So after some haggling over price, buying car and adding on some amount to car loan for repairs, I had my car. (Aside from the fact the other 2 Subarus I found online were both already sold.)
     A friend/former boss of Giuliano’s (Jim) knew someone who could work on the car and save us (er.. me) a lot of money. (The dealership was quoting 1.5k for just one differential.) In the end the cost of repairing the differentials cost 1.4k for all of them. I also bought 4 new tires prior to the repair to make sure the new differentials would be just fine. (Note: Picture above taken after buying car, and before new tires and repair.)
     So now the car runes extremely smooth. The AC is fantastic. The acceleration on this car.. wooo. I tap the gas and it starts racing down the road. (My Geo you have to press down just to get it to budge.) The steering wheel is either leather or leather like, as opposed to the plastic of the Geo. There’s auto windows, locks, cruise control, cup holders *grin*, fog lights, a rear wiper.. all things my Geo lacked. I’m actually taller than some other cars on the road as opposed to so low to the ground that other vehicle’s headlights blind me at night. (When civics and the like are higher up than your car, and you can’t see past them to view traffic, that’s a problem.) People more often than not yield for my new car as opposed to cutting me off in the old smaller coupe. Heh, heh, heh, heh. The windows of the Subaru are also tinted. The back is heavily tinted as are the passenger windows. The front windows are slightly tinted and the top part of the front windshield is also tinted. It’s taking some getting used to the tint.
     At first I had called the new car Dragon due to its length and power. The name has now changed and seemed to settle on “Haku” after the character from Spirited Away. (Mostly in the hope that the car will live up to its name. That and it’s fun pressing the gas and shouting “Go Haku!”:D Yes I’m weird, get used to it.)

     My old car will be hopefully donated. I have to look over and fill out some paperwork before sending it out. Right now it’s sitting at the end of our driveway while the new car gets the garage space. 😛

So there’s the big news. I have a new car. (Hurray for car #2!)