Sunday, March 4, 2018

Friday Flats & Fences

It was Friday ... and Jessi was coming to help at the tea shop in the afternoon.

She was ready when I got to the workshop to pick her up after lunch. We hopped on to the highway to head on in.

On the way for just a few minutes when I heard the dreaded flat tire sound on the pavement. I pulled over safely on to the shoulder and dialed up AAA. Within 15 minutes a nice older gentleman pulled up in a swanky AAA Roadside Assistance vehicle. He made a face as he pulled the ancient do-nut style spare out of the trunk of my latest project car.

It's a 1995 Toyota Celica Convertible. Been driving it for a few months but have never had any reason to examine that spare ... until today.

Quickly he changed out the tires. "Don't go over 50 on that one," he said. "It isn't safe."

I figured it was good to limp on in to the tea shop and then back home. I made the call to arrange to have a couple of new tires put on first thing in the morning.

Jessi had a lovely time playing hostess at the tea shop. Some of her friends stopped by and she made new friends as well.

When it was time to leave, we picked up a drive-thru dinner as we made our way to a performance of The Little Mermaid at a high school in a nearby community.

No information could be found as to the location of the Auditorium or parking anywhere. It was as if the expectation was that no one from the general public would be attending the performance ... only those who were familiar with the fairly large campus.

After receiving conflicting directions from others trying to find a spot, we ended up parking about 4 blocks behind the high school only to discover that the entire campus was surrounded by a 6' chain link fence. We had to trek a few blocks to a main street and then cut through the parking lots of the police station and post office in order to reach the building that had been pointed out as our destination.

Upon arrival it was obvious that this was not where we were wanting to be. A nice custodian person let us in a back door and explained that we were on the wrong side of the campus. She suggested that we trek back to our car and then head back around to the front of the school. There we could attempt to park along with other play-goers ... and, oh yeah, there was also a basketball tournament under way. Reluctantly, she directed us through a maze of hallways that allowed us to arrive at the auditorium just in time for the curtain.

Jessica loves live theater. The performance was magical. The young talent was strong and had us captivated throughout the show.

After the show a nice high school staff person told us that we could go through the building ... the way we had come in ... to the back parking lot so that we didn't have to wander around the dark side streets to where our car was parked.

Following our imaginary trail of bread crumbs, we made our way through the building to the backside of the campus. Thinking we had found our exit, we pushed the door open and stepped outside. Just as the door slammed shut I realized we were not in the parking lot. Rather we were in a courtyard surrounded by one of those 6' chain link fences.

The gates were all locked and, of course, we were locked out of the building.

Image result for chain link fence

Trying not to show my panic to Jessi, I headed for the gate and cheerfully handed her my purse. I was wishing I had my PF Flyers. You know, the shoes that make a kid run faster and jump higher from my youth.

Boldly, I scaled the fence and slid down the other side. It wasn't pretty but I was hoping it looked easy to Jessi.

As she handed me my purse along with her PattiCake & Howie John, I said "Come on, Jessi. Climb over." So she tried ... putting her hands through the chain links and attempting to find a toe hold.

"I can't!" she declared.

"Sure you can," I encouraged. "Put your hands here on top of the fence and then put your foot there on that (waist-high) bar."

In a flash, she was on top of the fence. Her move was super hero worthy. Precariously balanced on top for a moment or two, her pants leg got hung up and experienced a little rip on the way down the other side.

There are no words to express how awed and amazed I was at her bravery. I was so very proud of her. Jessi, on the other hand, was more focused on the little rip in the bottom seam of her pants. I assured her I would mend it or buy her a pair of new pants.

Full of ourselves for overcoming our obstacle, we quickly made our way to the car and hopped on the highway to head home. We were heading north when the ancient do-nut spare that had been put on earlier in the day started making a funny whining noise before it gave up the ghost. By the time I was able to get clear of the construction zone and exit into a parking lot, I could hear the metal of the wheel grinding the pavement.

Second call to AAA of the day. This time for a wrecker to tow it on over to the tire shop that I was already planning to visit first thing in the morning.

Like a true knight in the night, Roland rescued Jessi & I from the side of the road. Another fine man of the same ilk named Bruce came for my little car.

Two new tires the next morning. All's well that ends well.

March 2018

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