A trip to the mechanic

I might have mentioned that Astrid’s belts have been squealing something fierce lately and that she was overdue for an oil change. Or I might just have thought it. Anyway, an outstanding item on my move to the Netherlands list was to find a good SAAB mechanic. I had asked a few people that I saw parking SAABs and did some preliminary research. I realized that most of the mechanics were outside of Amsterdam, like in Groningen where there must be quite a lively SAAB culture. And then there was this black convertible parked on the sidewalk (literally) and I asked the owner who his mechanic was. He gave me the answer that they didn’t live here so he couldn’t say. I understand that. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the car parked here awfully regularly for someone who doesn’t live on the street. That’s when I read his license plate holder. Which had the name of where he bought the car. A few clicks later and I was looking at their website.

This morning I called up the folks at 900Classic in Haarlem and made arrangements to bring Astrid by after lunch for the above items. As soon as I turned onto their block, I knew I was in the right place. There had to be 20 900s lined up. Turns out they are more than mechanics, they are a restoration shop. I spent two hours talking away with the chief restorer. They were delighted to notice how Astrid was different than Dutch SAABs and before I knew it, we’re talking about giving my Astrid the overhaul she has needed for a long time. As a matter of fact, they kept her, which was kind of weird at first. Especially for an oil change and belts. But I felt confident that she is in good hands and I can probably pick her up tomorrow. Or not yet. Because as we were talking, the plan started coming together for her restoration. He thinks he would need her for a month. We’ll see how this comes out. But if the other cars that I saw are any indication of the work they do, I’m going to be driving the best SAAB for miles. When he dropped me off at the train station, I was already invited to his mother’s annual wine tasting festival at the end of June and to meet his sister and her partner, who live one street over from me. I really liked him. There are some exceptional people in the SAAB world. He is one of them.

I realized that I have had Astrid for 18 years now. I don’t know why I didn’t do the math before. She still drives so amazingly well that while I have driven other cars in those 18 years, she is still my number one. And of course, I have so many memories with my mom. Today I took her McDonald’s coffee stir stick of the dash. It has been there since the last time my mom drank McDonald’s coffee – which must have been more than 10 years ago! I didn’t want it to get lost so I am putting it away. My mom always had spare Sugar in the Raw packets and straws with her. I think she picked them up every time she would get a coffee.

So, it is a good thing that I got my heavy duty Intratuin shopping done on Friday. Although there is one within biking distance as I discovered yesterday when I needed more copper tape to keep the snails at bay. I misread the packaging and didn’t realize I was only getting 4 meters worth of tape. The staircase garden frame is all set up and filled with dirt. Seeds will go in tomorrow as soon as I can come to a final decision about what goes where. And the chimenea is set up as well. I transplanted all the hospital plants and now I have plants everywhere. Leaving behind my mom’s indoor plants was really hard for me so I have been trying to find them here. Of course, everything is with the latin name here and I think of plants much more visually like “the one in the brown pot that had variegated leaves and a bamboo looking trunk”. Helpful, right?

Going to the office tomorrow. By bike, of course! My rain cape arrived on Friday so this time I will be prepared if the weather changes violently just before my commute home. I had a choice of colors, but I went with orange. I suspect you knew that was coming.

I’ll keep you posted on what the outcome is with Astrid.

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