Everytime we come home to the States, we end up renting a car, usually for a month. And everytime we do, we say we should buy a car and it will pay for itself. In fact, we wish we still had our old Saab. So I researched it and found one that looked great on craigslist. Dina and I drove down to the bay area and test drove it. It ran great and it looked ultra-clean. The seller was a Saab lover and and the price was right so we were sold.
Given the heavy traffic, we decided to stay in SF and go to Cha Cha Cha's for dinner (one of our favorite Caribean food restaurants). The check engine light came on but the car was running great without loss of power, temperature, or oil pressure. We drove it to Davis and had Mike's mechanic looked at it. He diagnosed an ignition sensor, cleaned it and told us it should be fine. Said otherwise the car looked fine.
We drove north to Mt. Shasta, confident that the car ran fine. The engine light did come back on as before without other problems. We were so happy to be driving a Saab again. Then, after climbing a steep grade into Shasta, we took the exit to my sister's when all of a sudden, a very loud noise developed like a disel engine. All dashboard lights came on; the engine light flashed, an oil can appeared, and a red exclamation mark lit up! We drove it another 300 yards to my sister's house. No smoke. No loss of power. Just a very bad internal noise.
The following two days were filled with love, family, and friends who gathered to remember my father who recently passed away. There was Russian vodka and black caviar, homemade pickles, grilled lamb and delicious salads. We drank and remembered. My father would have been very happy.
The car was towed to a mechanic who diagnosed that we had blown the engine. It was a big blow, maybe more to us than the car. We felt violated in some way. But the car did get us to where we needed to be and all engine trouble aside, the car is in excellent condition. So we decided to bite the bullet and put in a used engine with low miles and warranty that will hopefully have a lot of life left in it.
"I remember the 1976, Bicenntenial 4th of July as particulary poignant; when mama brought a cake out to the patio for desert, someone (Vera Postovsky? Alex Jadan?) spontaneously started singing "Happy Birthday" and everyone joined in. By the time they got to "Happy Birthday dear America", this group of immigrants, each with their own story, there wasn't a dry eye among any of us (of course, the vodka probably helped)" - my sister Ludmilla
"I think it was Marcel Sedletzky who started the singing. The cake was covered with whipped cream, blueberries and strawberries spelling out "US". He sang, and all joined in, "Happy birthday to us, Happy birthday to us, Happy birthday dear America, Happy birthday to us." Almost everyone there was an immigrant.
I also remember the sunny morning of that Bicentennial 4th of July. Mama and I were up first, washing dishes from the anniversary celebration of the night before (their 27th), inexplicably joyful and singing every corny patriotic song we could think of (including "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" from "Oklahoma!"). Drinking instant coffee."
- my sister Nina
All my siblings remember that joyous 4th with other added details! Climbing up on the roof to "spy" on those tipsy Russkies and later watch the fireworks in the bay from up there. Everyone was happy. Even Chewpee the dog got a hot-dog he stole off the grill.