Thursday, February 15, 2018

Another Hallmark Moment

Last night as I was fixing dinner, Jessi showed me her Valentines from her boyfriend. She had a swell silk rose that lit up when you pushed the button on the stem and a sweet furry pink plush dog that Jessi promptly named "Pinky". Her boyfriend, Donald, received a heart shaped box of candy and a picture frame that she had made for him.
Sweet valentines!
I asked her where MY Valentine was and she gave me a blank stare. So I tried again asking when was I going to be getting MY Valentine from her. With a shrug of her shoulders, Jessi responded "Tomorrow." Of course I then suggested that she wait until ... tomorrow ... to get her Valentine from me.
That was a no go. Jessi didn't want to have to wait until the day after Valentines Day for her gift. Imagine that.
I think she realized that I was disappointed so she offered up a further explanation.
"It's in Ms. Jackie's area, Mom, I went there today for my women's group and we planted seeds," she said.
And then she wandered off as I finished preparing our meal.
When she returned she continued "I will bring you your gift tomorrow. It's marigolds. That's what we planted today."
I assured her that would be fine.
"You know, Mom, marigolds take time to grow."
I had to smile. Yes, Jessi, marigolds do take time to grow ... and tea takes time, too.
It reminded me of a Hallmark moment from my past ... so I searched my lifelessons-mj blog to find the post.
Season after season ... some lifelessons remain the same.
Watching the Hallmark Channel...while I am cleaning out drawers in the kitchen...
I know, I know....
Commercial comes's about a father & a daughter....
The card he gives her says:
From This Seed
That Can Not Be Seen....
Good Things Will Come.
She says: Do you really think so?
He says: I know so.
I know I'm not supposed to.....and it makes everyone else angry & upset with me when I do....but....
I really, really miss my Dad.
February 2018

Friday, February 9, 2018

Pull The Plug!

"Pull the plug!"

That's what my mechanic friend told me on the phone the other day.  He said it was as simple as that to get the vintage 4 Runner running.

The dandy old thing was running just fine one day. The next day it seemed to be dead as door nail.  No warning.  Just turn the key ... and nothing ... nada ... dead.

First thought was it's the battery.  So being experienced jumpers, we tried that.  It didn't work.

The next seemingly brilliant move was to take the battery out of another vehicle and see if that was the fix before going to buy a replacement.  The second battery is only a few months old.  Seemed like a good idea.

Popped the hood and began disconnecting the battery cables .... and suddenly the horn was blaring. Non-stop honking. Really loud.  For no apparent reason.  Even with the dead battery.

It was very distracting to say the least.

Got the old battery out. Put the new battery in.  Horn starts honking.  Still no starting of the engine.

Hmmm.  Maybe it's not the battery.  Maybe it's something else.  Put the old battery in the other car.  It did nothing.  Confirmation that it was indeed .... dead.

Verrrrry interesting!

A quick Google search uncovered some interesting possibilities.  Not being terribly mechanical ... none of it made much sense to these amateur eyes.

Don't get me wrong.  I have just enough mechanical aptitude .... coupled with a bold,
brave do-it-if-its-wrong attitude .... to tackle most any challenge.  But technical-type instructions allude me.

The most common culprit in the variety of threads found was an aftermarket security device that when triggered overrides the starter causing the vehicle not to start .... while alerting the world of a possible theft by the loud blaring of the horn. 

Remove the fuse that powers the horn. Then look for the black box under the dash on the driver's side and pull a wire to permanently disable the security system. That was that most common advice given online.

Defusing the horn was no real trick.  Crawled up under the steering wheel with my little flashlight strapped to my forehead to take a peek.  Near the brake pedal was a black box with a wad of wires coming out of it .... wonder which one to pull? 

There was a red alert flasher near the steering wheel column that purportedly was the signal that the alarm system had been triggered.  So tried to follow the wires from there to the black box.  Again, I found a wad of wires wrapped in black electrical tape that entered what may-or-may-not be another black box against the inside of the body just past the driver door hinge.  It was hard to tell because of all the collections of wires and connectors that were up under there ... blocking my view.  It appeared that the wires originally detected ran from the first black box back up in there to the hidden one.

Not wanting to make a wrong choice that might create a bigger problem, I hesitated to poke or pull any of the wires or connectors there.

Deflated by my own devices, the call was made to my Toyota-certified mechanic friend.  He lives too far away to be of much help when a situation arises that requires bringing the vehicle by.  He is, however, at the top of my mechanical phone-a-friend list.

Quickly, he confirmed what my online research had suggested ... that it was indeed some bogus security device that had been activated randomly and was now overriding the vehicle's ability to start. The fix was as simple as unplugging the wires from the black box.

I told him about the black box I had found near the brake pedal with the wad of wires.  And that I had no idea which wire to pull .... so I had done nothing. 

"You don't pull a wire," he said. "You just press the plastic thingy and pull it ... unplugging the wires."

I didn't see anything that even remotely resembled a plug/unplug thingy.  So I took a picture of the box, messaged it to him, and called it a day.

It was almost a week before it was warm enough ... daylight enough ... and I had time enough to give it another go.  Getting that 4 Runner started was now a necessity ... a priority ... because there were drums to transport ... and other things that were too big to fit into the other little trunk.

Got my mechanic back on the phone.  "Don't have any idea what that box is in the picture," he said. "Its going to be the other one .... over by the front side panel. Just get to it ... and pull the plug ... and the problem will be solved."

Figuring out how to get to it ... that was the challenge.  Timid and afraid of messing something else up I decide to tackle the situation with renewed trepidation. With an air of feigned confidence, I strapped my trusty little flashlight back on my forehead and crawled under again.

Slowly and methodically I worked my way behind the tangles and clusters of wires and connectors that were hanging down. In a eureka moment, I discovered the black box in question wasn't actually attached to any part of the car frame.  It was just wedged up in there .... being held by those random wire bundles. 

Wiggle, wiggle and a sharp tug brought the box into view.  Lo and behold .... just as promised ... there was a little plastic thingy that when pressed ... unplugged all of the wires from the black box.

Simple as that.  Of course, it seemed too simple once it was done.

Old battery was back in its original position.  Turned the key, no go.  Duh! It had already been determined that one was dead!  Popped in the newer battery from the other car ... and presto change-o ... the car started right up!!!

Empowered.  That's how I felt.  And exhilarated! Yay!  I did it!

I successfully pulled the plug! 

And life as we know it ... did not come to an end!

Rather .... new life and energy pulsed into that ole vehicle .... making it road-ready once more!

February 2018

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Painting & Plumbing

It was early Decemeber. That time of year when it's not uncommon to become reflective about the year that is about to end ... and wistful about the opportunities and goodness that may present itself as the new year unfolds.

Especially when the year closing has been ... well ... a year!

First it was a picture and a text message.

"Mom, I know that it's too big ... and the rent is too much ... but it looks just like ME!"

And she was right.  It did look just like her.  A perfect spot for a tea shop.

Thinking to myself "what will it hurt to offer up a little hope" ... especially after the hard year of
re-evaluating life, re-discovering self, and the loss of people who were important ... I texted back and said call the landlord and let's go look at it.

Things happened really fast after that.

What had been a bucket-list kind of dream ... maybe for the years after career-building and professional achievement were over ... quickly took on a heart-beating, breathing life of it's own.

Things were negotiated. Spreadsheets were created.  Invisible doors suddenly revealed themselves ... and were discovered to be wide-open!  Prayers were answered.  And there was even a small miracle or two in the mix.

There were only two really big challenges.  Painting the entire inside ... transforming the dreary drab brown into a soft soothing blue.  Only a handful of volunteer painters were involved. You see, from the beginning it was decided that no negativity would be allowed here.

Some of us simply weren't as young as we remembered ourselves.  And the space seemed to get larger and larger as each day of painting was complete.

One day a friendly angel showed up ... filling the rooms ... and each of us ... with renewed joy and energy.  And finally after days and days ... the painting was complete.

The plumbing saga, however, lingered a little longer.  Making every possible effort to follow all the rules ... each local and state agency was appropriately contacted ... and each one had their bureaucratic perspective on what was needed.

Meaning ... each contact resulted in new pre-opening budget line items.

If it hadn't been such a nerve-racking series of detours, it would have been humorous.  I mean, seriously, the only thing remotely resembling food prep that was going to take place in the kitchen ...was bagging loose tea leaves ... and boiling water.

... and you don't actually need a grease trap when the only thing going into the sink is water ... and tea- flavored water.

All of the water pipes and lines were already in place from a previous tenant who had a salon here. In the end it was just a matter of determining what types and how many sinks had to be installed ... and then finding someone who could hook it all together.

Third time was the charm!

The last 45 days have been a whirlwind of activity.  And even the painting ... and the plumbing ... were really just hiccups.

Tomorrow is the day.  February 7, 2018.  She will officially open the doors ... to a new place,
Abbi's Teas & Things ... a new life ... touching lives & making a difference by serving up nice teas ... and smiles ... to all who enter in.

Yes, Abbi. Dreams really do come true. Happily ever after.

February 2018