old feed truck

The wheels turn and the wife fails

I look at a few of my wise friends and just know that they don’t have any “wife-fails”, whereas I seem to have several every year. Recently I washed ALL of My Man’s favorite coats with a diesel-soaked sweatshirt—dispersing the aroma evenly throughout. Only a few months prior I had washed his fancy rangefinder, too—at least that came out clean, no diesel, just broken.

Is there a chance that I am not the only one? Will someone out there please share a wife-fail to encourage me?

Maybe I should title this post “daughter-fails” since my dad had to deal with me before My Man did. A lot of my “moments” involved wheels or the mishandling of…

girl, dog and wheels

My dad taught me how to drive the hay truck when I was four—hoping I would relieve some of his burden. One morning I was perched in the driver’s seat, just tall enough to see over the dash, while he and my brother fed the cattle. My first mistake was to slam on the gas, launching both of them, and the dog, off of the back. They ran to catch up and then I figured I would help by slamming on the brakes—just in time for them to collide with the bumper. My soft-spoken dad only said, “easy, Kate.”

feeding cows

Easy on the gas

When I turned sixteen, easy-going and happy-go-lucky (aka “airheaded”), I didn’t take to heart the responsibility of car ownership. My dad was very trusting, though, even letting me drive the Oldsmobile to Reno fairly soon in the game, “Just take the shotgun with you.”

The Oldsmobile

That grand Oldsmobile had safety written all over it, it just wasn’t safe with me

One day I was cruising Main in Alturas with my friend, taking a detour down a dirt road, and I sprang an oil leak. I foolishly ignored the warning light and the poor Oldsmobile seized up right in front of Modoc High. It remained there, lying in state, for at least a week.

The old timers passed by, following the oil streak, shaking their heads, “Look what Kate Weber did to that fine car.”

Kate Weber flatbed

Kate Weber Loren Crabtree Alturas

My next vehicle was an old blue flatbed

My dad decided to let me drive the old blue flatbed next, I couldn’t be trusted with anything fancier. My friends loved it, especially my late friend Loren Crabtree.  There he is doing a headstand on it.

The flatbed had an eight track player and my favorite song to play was Roseanne Cash’s “Seven Year Ache”. The flatbed was so light I felt like I flew the five miles to school.

Every summer our family went camping at a remote lake near Eagleville. The road is so rocky that most people never venture there. That summer I couldn’t drive out with the group, so I had to take the flatbed out later by myself. My long-suffering dad probably just said, “be careful”, and sent me on my way.

Dangerous Mexico roads

My wheels and rocky roads do not mix

Away I went, literally floating-on-air in my flatbed, bouncing over all the rocks to the lake. I think I made it in record time and I remember my arms being sore that night—from clutching the steering wheel as I flew over all those bumps. I enjoyed the week and my cousins were excited to drive with me on the way back.

I smiled and told Dad it was a great week.

“Where’s the spare tire?” He asked.

“What spare tire?”

“The one you left with.”

My poor dad. I hadn’t noticed the tire when I left or when it bounced off the back. It is probably still lying where it landed, hidden in the sagebrush, near the road going up to the lake.

Through that rocky ride…when the boys stole it at the high school…when I spun out on icy streets…the flatbed survived. My kids drive it now when they visit their grandparents. I showed them where my friends carved their names in the old blue paint.

The old blue relic survived my daughter-fails

When My Man tries to teach me more driving skills these days he says things like: “know where your wheels are—don’t place them where you don’t want to go”.

In college, at the S Bar S Ranch, we had a lot of fun driving all the tractors and trucks. Our wheels went where we didn’t want to go on more than one occasion.

One day I was up on that hill overlooking the ranch, driving an old tractor. My wheels were probably just inches away from taking me over the side. I think our ranch manager got a lot of grey in his beard that summer.

Back to wife-fails

My Man's pickup

Nothing can be quite so damaging as damaging your husband’s prize vehicle. My Man is very responsible with his finances and so it was a big moment when he bought his first new vehicle, a Toyota Tundra.

He was so kind and trusting, even letting me drive it home on the snowy drive from the Medford dealership to Alturas.

When summer came, and our annual campout at the remote lake, he gladly let me borrow it. As a firefighter on-call he could not go with us.

I really tried to take the responsibility seriously—asking him what gears to use and when to switch between 4 high and 4 low. I insisted on following one of my uncles in so I could navigate the boulders in the same way.

We made it in safely and the boys and I had a great week. At the end of the week, after we were all packed up, my uncle said, “I think Kate should take the lead with that fancy pickup”. I tried to refuse and everyone laughed and encouraged me to go on.

Kate Weber Hiller wife fails

I should have trusted my instinct and declined the lead position. Going downhill over boulders looks a lot different than the uphill did! I was going along carefully but didn’t want to slow everyone down too much.

I came to a huge crater in the road and knew I shouldn’t drive through it. I hastily made a decision to drive as close to the hill as possible, keeping one side of the pickup on the road while the other went through the shallow part of the crater.

Nothing sounds quite so horrible as a boulder scraping down the whole side of your husband’s new vehicle.

My husband still has a different idea of what must have happened, but I insist that the soft dirt on the hill gave way, bringing a boulder with it.

Surely I didn’t just drive into a boulder!

All my aunts and uncles shook their heads sadly at my misfortune. They piled rocks into the crater for their own safe crossing.

It was a long trip down the hill to cell service where I could confess my mistake to My Man. He took the news pretty well but I was torn up with guilt.

Toyota Tundra on rocky roads

Thankfully, My Man is committed to me, despite all of my wife-fails. Just like in driving, he chose a path and committed to it. We’ve turned a lot of wheels together, down countless rocky roads. We are a family who likes to laugh, and I give him a lot to laugh at. He can almost laugh at the Toyota incident, enough years have gone by…almost…

Alturas barnyard

Loren Crabtree and Kate Weber

In Memory of Loren Crabtree

…dragging an old Honda motorcycle out of the barn and tearing up the barnyard, that FFA van and having enough patience to teach this hopeless driver how to double clutch.

Kate's fire

3 thoughts on “The wheels turn and the wife fails

  1. Your story was beautiful! I couldn’t help but chuckle at some parts and feel a little sad at others. Your father sounds like a very kind and patient man.
    My husband went to work in a dirty shirt the other day I felt so horrible!
    Luckily my husband is mostly patient with me as well. He laughed it off and pretended to make a you tube video with the kids on how to make a dirty shirt clean again with his cologne! Thank you for sharing!

      1. We certainly try! Right now we are 8 + our pup staying in a motorhome waiting for our house to sell so we have to try and find laughter when we can!

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